Saturday, December 20, 2014

Your life hidden in plain sight- the practice of 17

Familiarity - lulls us to sleep

My dad and I stopped by a bakery the other day.  As we chatted with the baker, she mentioned the bakery no longer smelled like fresh doughnuts to her.  The longer she has worked there the less she could smell the donuts.

It is not just scent either; sound has the same diminishing quality.  Have you ever lived by a train track?  At first, those trains rattle your home and your brain.  But over time something peculiar happens, we stop hearing trains.

A few years ago, my father in law asked me if we got many airplanes flying over our home.  I said, no, not too much.  But then I paused and listened, sure enough one was flying over our home that very minute!!  Amazing- our senses are amazing!

The same thing happens with our vision.  What we see all the time, we stopped seeing.  I see this in houses all the time. The longer something sits, the more invisible it becomes. 

Our senses, they give us so much.  They also protect us and help us adapt to any situation.

 If you want to see your life clearly, you must shift the normal.  Travel new paths with your senses and life.

Look at what has become consistent in your life, your daily actions.  What has become stagnate.  Dust them off, move them completely out of their entrenched space and see what happens.

Spring brings a fresh start. If you want to see it clearly, re-spark your senses.  Start with a clean slate, a fresh canvas.  Sometimes what you have been looking for has been sitting right in front of you the whole time.  Keeping your life fresh and alive requires movement and change.  Let the gift of your senses start to shine again.

This month shift 17 things.  Start March by waking up your senses.  Eat 3 new foods,  travel a route to work, play new music, move 17 things in your home, call old friends, turn off your cell phone, try a new hobby- juggling?  Add flowers to your kitchen, read from a new author, read nothing. Shake up 17 of your normal habits.  Wake up your senses and your life.

Let me know how your shift and what happens when you do,
         Happy Travels,
                       Life Coach and Healthy Home Specialist

Your life hidden in plain sight

There is a natural rhythm to our senses, always shifting and re-balancing. What we are constantly in contact with shifts our awareness.  The more consistent the sense input the less awareness we have.  It is our an internal protection.  

My dad and I stopped by a bakery one day and as we chatted with the baker she mentioned the bakery no longer smelled like fresh doughnuts to her.  The longer she has worked there the less she smells the bakery scents.   

It is not just scent either; sound has the same diminishing quality.  Have you ever lived by a train track?  At first, those trains rattle your home and your brain.  But over time something peculiar happens, we all start to tune out the consistent.  A few years ago, my father in law asked me if we got many airplanes flying over our home.  I said, no, I don't think too much.  But as I then paused and listened, sure enough one was flying over our home that very minute!!  Amazing- our senses are amazing!

The same thing happens with our vision.  What we see all the time, we stopped seeing.  Have you ever looked for something- everywhere you search without success?  And then someone looks for you and what you were searching for was right in front of you the whole time.  The longer something sits, the more it becomes the backdrop and no longer present to us. 

Our senses, that give us so much, also protect us by taking away.  If you want to see your life clearly, you must clear out what has become background noise, daily scents and composted possessions.  

As the New Year appears, kindly look at what has become consistent in your life, your every days, your things that have sat in place for over a year.  Dust them off, move them completely out of their entrenched space and see what happens.  Let go of what has become background noise.  Let go of your stagnate spaces.  Breathe life into your days again. Maybe some of your background noise needs to move on.  Let it go out of your home and life with gratitude.

The New Year brings a fresh start and if you want to see it clearly, re-spark your senses.  Start with a clean slate, a fresh canvas.  Sometimes what you have been looking for has been sitting right in front of you the whole time.  Keeping your life fresh and alive requires movement and change.  Let the gift of your senses start to shine again.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Chai Seed and Eggnog Pudding

Holiday Chai Seed and EggNog Pudding

I love holiday deserts but too much sugar and processed food makes me lethargic and kind of grumpy.  But having no treats during the holiday season is no fun, so I improvise and substitute.
Chia seed and Eggnog pudding is a yummy little desert that is gluten free, low in sugar, high in fiber and big on happy holiday taste.

    2 cups Soy eggnog- feel free to substitute coconut, almond or hemp milks
    1/2 cup Chia Seeds
    1 Banana
    Fresh nutmeg
    1 glass quart canning jar with lid

Put chia seeds and egg nog into quart jar.  Cover and shake well.  For the next 15 minutes shake periodically to keep chia seeds suspended.  If you let sit, they will clump and no one likes clumpy chia seeds- right??
   Keep in refrigerator until you are ready to eat.  When ready for a treat, pour the chai seed mixture into a bowl, add fresh sliced banana and a sprinkle of fresh nut meg.  The sugar content will come from your banana and eggnog. 

Hints:  If you want a thicker chia seed pudding just add less liquid.  Also, if you want plumper seeds, soak your chia seeds overnight they will absorb more liquid.
     If you want a sweeter treat- use a sweeter eggnog, riper bananas or add a bit of sweetener.

My discovery of  chia seeds came from one of my all time favorite books called Born to Run by Christopher Mc Dougall.  This is a great book to read while eating chia seed pudding!

Hope you enjoy and happy holidays!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Abundance of Less

While thumbing through the November Forbes Magazine, I came across an add for Run Simple.  The heading read:  "Simple Saves.  Complexity spends $1.2 Billion of your money every year.  The world's top 200 companies lose 10% of their annual profits to managing complexity.  Not overcoming, but managing."

This got me thinking about the value of clearing out our clutter and simplifying our lives.  If we can gain 10% more time, energy & money by simply letting go of our extras and our complicated, that would be a pretty good goal way to go into 2015- don't you think?  By doing less, having less and keeping our lives simple we will actually gain at least 10% of our lives back.

This holiday season, consider doing less, keeping our days simple, our business simple and our lives simple.  And by the new year, instead of being tired and having more stuff, we will all have more. There is abundance and freedom in less.  Simple gives us breathing space to live.

May your life, your holidays and your abundance flow with a simple ease.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

True Beauty

     In cleaning there are no amounts of chemicals you will ever add to your home that will make it healthy.   Cleaning is about the removal of soils, germs and life's residues. Cleaning is not about the addition of chemicals and neither is beauty - authentic beauty.  

    You will not find your beauty in a bottle- no matter how much it costs.  True beauty is more of a practice than a purchase.  It is about living to nourish your life.  It comes from deep breathing, honesty and play. True beauty comes with sparkly eyes, a bright smile and a creative spirit.  True beauty comes from within.

  When my grandma Ella was 92 she was in a nursing home.  She spent her days in a wheel chair and was legally blind- from macular degeneration.   She was wrinkly and old but she was absolutely beautiful.

    Maybe she couldn't see anymore but she could listen to the nurses tell of their children and lives.  She could try to memorize Martha Stewart recipes by heart in hopes of one day trying to recreate in her kitchen. As she sat she would ponder, wonder and mull over life with open curiosity and not from a place of judgment.  She was blind but her eyes sparkled with curiosity.  When she would try to remember something she would look up.  I always thought it looked like she was trying to mentally shake apples from the branch over her head as if they held the answer to her question.

    On paper, maybe it doesn't sound like she was beautiful but if you happened to spend an afternoon with her, you would have witnessed her radiance. She had an authentic and internal beauty that would make the models on the cover of vogue dull in comparison.

    Beauty- true beauty is a practice of loving others, unbridled curiosity and patience.  Finding beauty in yourself helps you to see the beauty in everyone.  Discovering the beauty in each person you meet helps you to see your own inner beauty.  And when you nurture this beauty, this spirit of yours, you can get away with the fraction of skin care products!!!

 As always wishing you a happy and healthy home,

"We are taught to look to "experts" for our answers, only to find out that they often have no real-life experience on the subject.  When all is said and done, change begins with you.  Strength, willpower, responsibility, commitment and integrity grow from within and blossom only under your direction."
                                             Amilya Antonetti

                                              Why David Hated Tuesdays

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer is demanding- feed it!

    Is it only me or do your taste buds change right along with the seasons?  About this same time every year,  I find myself blankly staring into our refrigerator.  I'm not the least bit interested in our "favorite go-to" meals.  I have no desire to cook our normal dinners: none-zero-null!
   Come autumn, I'm pretty sure I will once again have a burning desire for comfort foods, bright orange- squashes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins.  A rich, steamy bowl of soup will sound heavenly.  But in the heart of nature's abundance, my taste buds are loudly begging for vibrant, crunchy, juicy, light, cool and bright foods.  It is as if my natural instincts pitch a fit. 

   And so, if we are going to eat, I have to listen.  Seasonal food inspires me. It must, because when I create dishes in flow with the natural order of food, I am happy.  When I try to cook autumn foods or winter foods in the middle of July- bad things happen!

   Below is a recipe, we ate growing up. Before dinner we would head to the garden pick: baby tender white corn; juicy, beefy, rich tomatoes; dig up crunchy sweet onions.  Together this trio created a perfectly coherent symphony of summer!

   Wishing you inspired meals from the delights of summer!!

Symphony of summer salad

Corn:  Pick freshly picked and baby- husk
    (I prefer white corn to yellow but both with work- tender is key)
Tomato:  Cut up a juicy, ripe and fragrant tomato
Onion:  Dice or small chop a fresh sweet onion 
     (You can also dice a green onion- either is amazing)
Salt and pepper


   Boil ears of corn water for about 5 minutes- keep your kernels crunchy!!
   Cut kernels off ear- put into bowl
   Add a dab of butter
   Add chopped tomatoes and onions
   Season with salt and pepper to taste
           I don't use pepper but that is just me

Enjoy!!!!!  So insanely simple - so delicious!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Natural Beauty Shines Through

This morning in the wee hours of the day, I was mesmerized by our slate floor.  The early morning light was dancing off the stone's natural texture.  It got me to thinking about how beautiful the natural essence of stone is.  In our business of cleaning, that is really what we are trying to achieve, uncover the natural essence of the surface we are working on.  

As a general rule of thumb, we don't add finishes or coatings to stone.  Sometimes we will enhance a stone's finish but we try not to do that either.  Because when you look closely at most stone you will see it is really art.  No two stones are the same, they are millions of years old and they came out of a mountain!  

On our slate floor we have yellows and oranges, greens and grays, there are browns, tans and even purples- how great is that?  Beyond the rainbows of color there is more to the stone.  There is a texture and when clean and free of soil, residues and manmade coatings there is clarity to the finish that is breathtakingly beautiful.  You will never get that kind of clarity when you mask and cover up its natural essence.

And the truth is that’s how we are too.  When our natural essence shines through we are all beautiful.  I remember going to visit my grandma Ella in the nursing home towards the end of her life.  She was in her 90's, sitting in a wheel chair, lots of wrinkles and could no longer see clearly with her eyes.  And yet she was undoubtedly beautiful!  Her eyes sparkled.   My grandma was insanely curious and even though her body was giving out her natural essence was still very much alive and well. This was where her radiance came from.

True beauty comes from our natural essence.  It never comes from a coating added- make up on our faces or acrylic coatings on our floors.  It comes from the twinkle in our eye, our natural passions and curiosities.  Our essence shines through when we are thoughtful of others and notice the beauty surrounding us. When we unexpectedly get the giggles or well up because our hearts have been touched.  

You can't put your finger on the exact place we show our essence because it isn't stagnating but alive.  Each day, each month, each year we have many reasons to let residues build up not only on our floors but in our lives.  The key to having our natural essence shine through is to keep cleaning off the residues and never let them build up.

As always, wishing you happiness, health and natural radiance!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finding breathing space in household chores

How do I know if a clean out or space clearing has been effective?  I can breath deeper.  This may sound like woo-woo talk but if you notice to how your own body responses to a good clean out you will know it is true.

Next time you clean out your garage, your referigerator, a book case, your garden bed... start by pausing before beginning and notice how looking at it makes you feel.  What does your body feel like, where is there tension and what thoughts or emotions show up?  Now, clean away, get lost in your project.  Go by instinct and clean fully present.  During a good clean out or space clearing unplug!  Do not answer your cell phone, check e-mails or text anyone, turn off the TV and radio!  Just clean and listen.  

When the cleaning is all done, pause again and notice where you are in relation to where you started?  I think you will find, as I do, your shoulders may be tired but they will be at ease, your breath will be deeper, richer and more expansive.  Cleaning out our reduces our stress- naturally.  Cleaning out gives us energy and often inspiration.

In the course of cleaning out you get to de-stress and accomplish a project all at the same time.  Talk about getting the most for your time and effort.  

Cleaning out can also be used for old fashion therapy. If you are feeling stuck, depressed or lost in which direction to go.  Pick something- it doesn't really matter what- your underwear drawer will do in a pinch.  Now clean it out- all the way out. Empty the whole drawer, clean the drawer and mindfully organize this new space.  Get rid of anything worn out, torn, stained, unused, disliked or misfitting.  Put your drawers back into a useful order.

Pause again and notice how you feel.  Sometimes our best projects come from the simplest things.  Cleaning is a simple little effective gift that gives more than it gets.

Happy cleaning and deep breathing!
     Denise Frakes

Monday, March 24, 2014

Magically Mindful Nurturing Mondays

   What are magically mindful nurturing Mondays?  Good question and I'm glad you asked.  Today is Monday.  Mondays are typically the day we have to go back to work.  It is the day we start our diets and decide to get back to exercising again.  Mondays are also the most common day for a heart attack!!  Mondays need a bit of help!  I have this little practice I have been playing with where everyday has meaning. It reminds me to live with a joyful and thankful heart.  Mainly it reminds me to live!!

    Mondays are for TLC!  They are days of nurturing and being kind.  I practice this with a couple of reminder phrases and thoughts that inspire me.  Magically, Mindful Nurturing Mondays is the title of this day.  So often I would fall into bed and realize I was moving all day but was unsure how much of that day I was actually present.

  Mondays are my day to be mindful!  Mondays are also my day to be kind to myself in terms of what I eat.  I eat light and fresh on Mondays and I practice being mindful as I eat.  Mondays are what I would consider a day of nurturing, caring and tenderness.  So on Mondays I clean!  Cleaning refreshes our home and with that comes a refreshed spirit.  Because I am being mindful and kind on Mondays they tend to be magical.  Apparently there is magic in mindfully refreshing the home, mind, body and spirit.

   This morning I have cleaned our home, cleaned our drain pipes (with hot boiling water), cleaned our laundry and have made myself a bit of berry pudding for breakfast (recipe follows).  As I clean, the sun shines, I'm finding great joy in cleaning today and I feel nurtured.  I feel happy as I know I am also nurturing our home and family.  For a clean home is a healthy home.  It is also a good flowing home and a prosperous home.  Cleaning so often is pushed to the back of our lives but in reality it should be up front and center.

   Creating a practice of Monday, a day filled with magical, nurturing and mindful activities makes whatever I do on this day a little more joyful a little more thoughtful. Monday's are wonderful for all nurturing practices such as cleaning your home, caring for family and being kind to yourself and others.  Mondays are a good day to let your body have a little rest from a heavy diet and a little more rest for you.  Mondays are a good day to go to be early, go outside for a walk and keep the TV off for this day- of course until football starts up again:)

   And so I recommend you create a practice of today.  Feel free to use the ideas that Mondays are magically, mindfully and nurturing days.  But if another thought or idea appeals to you then use that instead.
    As are many of my ideas- this one is of course a wee bit corny and that is precisely what I love about it.  The practice of a magically, mindful and nurturing Monday makes me smile and play instead of taking the world so seriously all the time!  (Notice I use the word practice instead of chore- doesn't that make cleaning sound a little more appealing?)

   Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous life on this magically, mindful and nurturing Monday,

Berry Pudding Recipe
   1 cup frozen berries:  Today I used a mix of organic raspberries, strawberries and black berries but usually I use organic blueberries
    1 avocado- slightly soft
    1 banana- slightly soft
    1/4 of a fresh lime

Put your frozen berries over a double boiler or I use a pyrex measuring cup in a pot of warm water.  Warm up your berries until they are slightly juicy.
Chop up your banana and avocado.
Mix the the berries, avocado, banana  and lime juice all together
  You can either do this with a fork or if you have a little blender use that for a creamier pudding.
This is a super simple, 4 ingredient dish that tastes like berry pudding.  I created it because I had soft bananas, soft avocados, frozen blueberries and really wanted something smooth and creamy.  Teaching myself once again that the simplest things in life are usually the best!!  Enjoy!



Monday, March 17, 2014

Symphony of the Soil

   A little known fact about me is:  I love a good documentary.  For me, the key to a great documentary is starting with a a movie of quality, with an interesting topic, an inspiring message and a movie that leaves me pondering days after watching.

                     Plus, a great documentary movie provides the perfect reason to have gathering.
   I call it a A Documentary Party
My latest documentary movie favorite is:
A Symphony of the Soil.   

   Of course, I understand not everyone gets into documentaries, dirt, composting and learning as much as I do, but this documentary is worth the risk.  If you love to garden, have a worm bin, compost pile or even just love science, this is the movie for you.  If you have friends with similar interests, share this wonder.  We closet scientists usually flock together!!

    To host a documentary party all you need is an invitation, TV, popcorn and maybe some tea and there you have it:  a documentary party has been created.  Not only are Documentary parties super easy, they are also good mixers.  It doesn't matter if you know a soul before the movie, after the movie, everyone has an instant and common connection.

   I borrowed A Symphony of the Soil from the King Country Library but I could own this one and watch it over an over again.  This documentary was inspiring, beautiful, educational and entertaining.  I give it 4.5 stars out of a possible 5 stars.  A perfect movie to get you into the party and gardening season! Hope you enjoy- let me know if you watch it and what you think!

Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous spring!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Babies don't need Fragrance they are sweet enough!

    This morning I was getting a baby box ready for my sister- who by the way is only 3 weeks away from her due date!! She and I decided on getting slightly used baby clothes for her new baby.  It does makes a load of sense.  For one thing, her little baby will probably only wear new born clothes for just a month or two.  Plus, slightly used baby clothes will have already off gassed and should be healthier for her little girl.  Should is the key word here!!
   As I unpacked, my soon to be niece's cute little box of baby clothes, a reality came over me!!  These little infant clothes wreaked of fragrance!!!!  Seriously folks, do not use scented detergents, fabric softeners or dryer sheets on your baby clothes!!!!!
   There are 3 main ways toxins get into our bodies:  absorption, inhalation, and ingestion  With laundry and children all three routes come into play.  Do children chew on their clothes? Yup!  Do their clothes touch their little bodies?- Yup!! Can they smell their clothes?  Yup!!!
   At the moment, I am washing the little baby clothes in hopes of minimizing any residual fragrance or residues that have been left behind.  Of course, this step of washing, I would have done anyway. But fragrances are created to linger- to hold up to life- to stay put.  It is very hard to get fragrance out of clothes once they have permeated the fabrics.  There is one adorable little outfit with tigers and stripes that I wont even attempt to save!  Probably the only way I could get the odor/fragrance out would be to bury it in the dirt and let nature do its wonders and compost it out!!  But that may be a wee bit extreme for one little outfit!  (This is actually an experiment we tried on a bath towel that had an abundance of fragrance lingering after many washings.  It was only after we buried it in dirt did the fragrance let go!)
   The crazy thing with fragrance is our bodies and senses get de synthesized to the smells.  Which means, if you use scented detergents you probably don't even smell the fragrance anymore.  And if you do it is probably only a 10th the actual smell.  Our bodies have a wonderful way of protecting us from ourselves and our environment.  After time, our awareness to the robust fragrances get minimized and we no longer can smell what is right in front of our noses.
    Babies are developing and growing, this is a key time in their life to minimize chemical exposure.  Plus, because they are so small, the exposure an infant gets to chemicals is 100 fold to what a full grown person will get. Their little senses have not yet become de synthesized and there is no reason to exposure your baby to a chemical!  New babies smell heavenly ( when clean and dry )  please do not not cover up the natural scent of a new born with synthetic- freshness!
   O.K,  I will now come down from my soap box.  But please think about what you use for your families laundry.  Not only does your laundry habits impact our health from direct contact but it also can be detrimental to our indoor air quality.  Not to mention the strong fragrances that shoot out our dryer vents can be detrimental to our neighbors, birds and bees!
        Here's to a health, happy and natural family!!
        Healthy home specialist and incensed sister!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Daily chores and the art a moving meditation

     Who has time to meditate and pause anymore?  Our days seems to be filled with millions of little events.  There are 86,400 seconds in a day.  How many of these 86,400 seconds are unaccounted for, open for free-time or just sitting around?  If you are like most people here in the US, I'm guessing very few.  So who has time to meditate or pause within this day of 86,400 seconds?  We all do!  Maybe not a formal meditation but we all have time for a moving meditation.

   Within each day, we all have repeating tasks, daily chores or consistent habits.  Brushing teeth, washing dishes, eating, driving to work, putting on makeup or feeding your dog.  Everyday we have a few minutes here and there that we don't need to focus on because we have done it a million times.

    Here is an idea to play with this new year:  The daily practice of pausing and being present.

  This practice is a moving meditation to be done in the course of your normal daily activities.  It isn't about adding on to your already full list but pausing withing those 86,400 daily seconds and giving yourself a good dose of TLC.

     What is in a pause?  A pause is an interruption of mind chattering, pressing, constant movement, brain disconnected and shallow breath that fills our days and seconds.

  Here is the challenge I give to you:
      Pick a task- any task will do.  Your task needs to be something you do daily for about 2-20 minutes.  It can be anything from cooking dinner, washing your face, night time dishes, taking your dog for a walk, or driving to work.  The most important part is picking one daily event to ground your practice in that event.  This event/task/chore keeps you from forgetting or getting off track.  When you prepare to brush your teeth- BING! This is your trigger- whatever task you pick- is your trigger to begin.

    And once you have picked your trigger- what next?
As you enter your task you take a deep breath, you stand or sit a little taller- extending your spine tall,   you breathe again and this time you relax your shoulders.  As you breathe in you breathe in deeply   holding this breath for a second or two.  When you release your breath your posture is tall but your shoulders let go and relax fully.  As you breathe again you smile- just a little smile like a little thank you kind of smile.  As you breathe out you let your smile relax with your shoulders.  As you continue to breathe, smile, and release, your whole focus comes to the present moment. Letting your senses strengthen this practice.  As you pause and breathe, you relax and smile.  As you pause and breathe you stand a little taller and now you feel your feet and notice you are grounded in the present moment.  As you breathe and smile and are grounded you listen a little clearer, you can look around and notice where you are, you take a second and feel your own energy,  If you are eating can taste deeper, savoring each bite, you can catch a whiff of the aromas around you.  You continue breathing, smiling and relaxing your shoulders.  Your posture is tall and your feet grounded.  Your breath continues to deepen, slow and expand into your back and abdomen.  Life gets a little easier and you will feel refreshed.

    This little practice, sandwiched within our busy day is incredibly rejuvenating.  Meditation doesn't have to be done at a yoga studio or in lotus position, it can be done while chopping carrots for dinner.  My grandmothers both had daily farms when they were my age.  Their days were busy and full of hard work.  Going off to meditate was not an option, they used their daily chores as their meditation.  We can do that to, maybe we don't milk cows but we do something everyday.  Pick a task and make it a mindfully quiet place to breathe and see what happens.

Wishing you all a happy new year and a lot of restorative pauses.

 5 minutes has 300 seconds within.  300 seconds can change your life