Posts Tagged by Happiness
|January 20, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
So. Let’s take the pulse of your year thus far, shall we?
Resolutions not-so-much? Whining & we’re only weeks into 2015? Right, that’s because you ran that rat race straight into the resolution mousetrap. Have no fear, overwhelmed whiskered-one. There’s a way out – if you’re open to it.
I have a devilishly long 2015 to-do list.
Believe me, I’m the type of gal who would/should, to my mind, accomplish everything by 1/2. Notice I didn’t say “could”. ‘Cuz I can’t…. and neither can you.
Here’s what we can do: Rewrite the rules.
Yep, new rules for the new year. They’re not complicated, they’re cheap & they payoff in spades. Best part: Break ’em & shake ’em if ya wanna!
I’m not a dictator, not even a benevolent one.
I won’t write rules for you. But I will tell you what Rusty & I came up with so far. It’s an evolving list, as it should be. We all evolve (Darwin!): body, mind & soul. To quote Mary Matalin: “Inflexible minds are boring minds.” Boring is not on this list, so flexible we shall be!
Ruth & Rusty’s “Happy Now & Here” Rules:
- No resolutions – ever. See? Easy.
- Always do a twofer. Whenever you can, double up. Buy 2 tickets to a show instead of one. Match a friend to the entertainment & take them. Buy 2 bags of pet food. Donate one to a shelter or give it to a neighbor in need. Make 2 batches of yummies & give one away. (See below for a very shareable recipe!) Buy a sandwich @ the deli, & treat the person behind you to one, too. Bring your trashcan in, and heck, drag the neighbor’s in, too. Got it?
- Take a vacation in your hometown. And talk to people. Learn their names. Take your dog; you’re guaranteed to see things through his nose/eyes you hadn’t noticed before. Convos are randomly uber-easy with Pup nearby, as you know. I find it fascinating how delightfully open folks are around animals. No Fido, & Fluffy just won’t play that? Be a solo tourist; ask people where they like to eat, drink, hike, or hang with art & books. Really listen to their tips and actually go do what they recommend. It’s the best. (Trust me, introverts. You can do it.)
- Purge with purpose. Right, I did it today. I filled & delivered 3 purpose-filled bags: donation, consignment & reuse. In the past, Rusty’s purged unused toys. He doesn’t miss them, but his pals love them. I wholeheartedly believe that less clutter in your space is less clutter in your mind & soul. Besides, Rusty just has too many toys. (Shhh….)
- Choose happiness. If you follow TSP, you know this choice is big. It changed my life. My first week of 2015 was a downer. But I brought it back to happy asap. How? I connect with friends & family I love, who truly love me back. I ask for help. I create beauty. I play with Rusty. (Get on the floor & play with your pet; it’s a whole other world down there!) I exercise, eat well, love with all my heart, sing, dance, bake, sip wine, hug, laugh, & smile with my eyes. I’m curious by nature. I consult Reiki masters, shamans, energy healers, Buddhists & yogis. I read everything. If it lights my soul up, sign me up. What lights your soul up?
Five easy things. Do them simply & sweetly, as often as you like.
Be kind to yourself & others in the process. Do not judge your progress or count how many you’ve done. Do not judge others by their response or count what you receive in return. Just be. Just do. Find yourself & your bliss in the being, doing, giving & receiving of each moment.
Speaking of giveable yummies, try this ridiculously easy recipe.
Each batch is an individual serving that’s frozen. When you’re ready, pop as many servings as you like into the oven and roast away! You can share it with your pets (no garlic or onions, please). Or deliver packaged portions to a friend who’s going through a tough time. Or invite a friend over for an impromptu home-cooked meal.
Ruth’s Rosemary-Mustard Roasted Chicken & Veggies
Ingredients (use organic when you can)
1 lb new potatoes, quartered
2 carrots, peeled & cut into 2-inch sticks
2 medium zucchini, cut into 2-inch sticks
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
course sea salt & pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 1-quart resealable plastic freezer bags
In a large bowl, combine prepped veggies. Stir in 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 Tbs mustard, 1/2 tsp sea salt & 1/4 tsp pepper. Separately, season the chicken with ground sea salt & pepper, to taste. Divide veggie mix and chicken among the 4 bags. Add 1/2 rosemary sprig to each bag & seal. Freeze, until ready to cook, for up to 3 months. Each bag is one serving. (This cooks best from frozen, so get your chill on!)
To cook: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Empty bag(s) into a baking dish. Roast for 25 minutes. Stir veggies & flip chicken. Roast 20-25 minutes more, occasionally stirring veggies, until chicken is cooked through. Remove the rosemary sprigs & plate up the goodness!
(Rusty chowed on bits of veg & chicken from this dish. If I were making him his own bag, however, I’d leave out the salt & pepper. I’d replace the 1/2 rosemary sprig with 1 Tbs chopped, fresh parsley, mixed into the veggies.)
~Lovingly lifted & tweaked from Real Simple~
Wait…. this just in: Rusty said, “That’s a twofer you can drool fer!” You were expecting Shakespeare? He’s a poodle, peeps. He’s a poodle.
Happy Now & Here! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2015 The Soulful Pet
|November 5, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Soul food, Uncategorized|
Where have we been?
Traveling; spiritual journeying (me – I don’t know about Rusty); spending time with family, friends & nature; and eating well. We’ve collected wonderful memories & stories along the way. Here’s a taste….
I hate airports & planes.
It’s not a fear of flying. It’s the impersonal, cattle-herding, soul-sucking nature of the airport that wears me out like the flu. Once boarded, I find myself praying not for the plane to remain intact for the duration, but for my seatmate to not be an escaped lunatic. Truly, being trapped with insanity or Chatty Kathy is my nightmare in the air. Folks ask me why I don’t take Rusty. I wonder why on Earth he’d enjoy it anymore than I do? I think he prefers to stay on terra firma, curled up in a biped’s bed. I get that.
I confess, I used my miles to fly first class on my last trip.
I’m a solo-flying newbie, so comfort eases my stress. A good friend urged me not to use my miles to fly domestically. She wants me to see the world; I want that, too. But a girl has got to get comfy flying alone first; the world will wait.
Fast forward to boarding.
I finished a text while praying to the plane gods that the seat next to me would stay empty. Suddenly, a cheery voice said, “Well, hello there!” I looked up and saw an open, genuine, happy soul smiling with his eyes. Immediately, I was relieved. This would be a terrific flight. We toasted, laughed & chatted the entire trip. We anti-smalltalked about life’s twists & turns, family, work, dreams, goals – it was effortless & meaningful. If I dozed off, he greeted my awakenings with, “So, d’ya have a good nap? Want anything?” I thanked the plane gods several times that flight. Lovely, lovely guy.
The return flight was completely different.
I sat beside Mr. Gadget. Despite my polite efforts to catch his eye to @ least greet him, he plugged in & tuned out from the start. I’m not judging; who’s to say that he wasn’t using his own social/emotional crutches? Clearly, the rule was no talking. Faced with a bad movie, not being tired enough to sleep & cracking a new book open – I chose none. Instead, I opted to spend 6 hours on a plane with no tech, no books, no movies, no talking. A few naps. Lots of internal chatter about where my life is going, why some I loved have left it, if I can make a go of my dreams, & if others will hop on board with my visions. Daunting stuff, that. As I watched clouds, lightning & snow covered peaks go by, I finally heard my intuition speak. (That girl needs silence, no way around it.) She said, “Continue to find inner peace & happiness.” Sigh. So simple, yet it’s everything. This writer & awakening healer needs to listen in the silence. We all do.
Rusty & I celebrated our reunion with a kitchen concoction. It’s basic, ‘cuz after a trip I usually only have pantry basics. And, I’m usually too dog-tired to slog to the grocery store. So this happened:
Ruth & Rusty’s Simple Smoothie
Ingredients (use organic when you can)
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1 frozen banana, sliced
1/2 cup non-fat milk
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla
Puree in a blender until smooth & serve asap. I drink mine from a glass. Rusty prefers his served on a saucer, topped with some oats & a dash of cinnamon. Really, he does. He refused it otherwise.
~Tweaked a tad from Martha Stewart~
Here’s the thing: finding inner peace & happiness is an inside job.
You can’t rely on someone or some place or some time to make you happy. Period. Look inward. Yes, it’s scary. Who cares? Just do it. Those negative thoughts & voices you hear in the silence? They’re not you. Not the real you. The real you is love & gratitude. So any voices who talk smack about you like you couldn’t imagine talking to a loved one…let them go. That’s your gremliny brain prattling on with hurtful nonsense. Notice those thoughts, and watch them pass by like the scenery from a plane’s window. Don’t push them away; that strengthens them. Notice & release. Come back to your grateful heart & breath. This takes daily practice because you’re retraining your brain that’s naturally hardwired for negativity. Think of it as working out your happiness muscle.
Ditch your expectations.
Expectations are created by perceptions. What? Yeah, they’re not real, either. Like the gremlins in your dome, what you think should happen isn’t necessarily best for you. (Gasp! Your ego could be wrong!) If you don’t attach to an outcome, you won’t be hurt if it doesn’t unfold. And, you’ll be able to see the fork in the road offering your better path. You’ll also see the wonders around you for not clinging to a mythical outcome. Clinging causes suffering. Self-imposed suffering stifles happiness. Back to my plane ride: While I thought I didn’t want a seatmate, in each case, the men who sat next to me gifted me. One with connection with another soul, one with connection with my own soul. Be present; be mindful; be happy.
Yep. Big, juicy, nasty shit-storms. Stay strong; weather the turbulence. Take shelter by leaning hard on people who truly love you. Let them help you because they want to help you. Asking for help is strong, not weak. Slog through the gooey, mucky mud puddles with your pals. You must go through it, and you can get through it. But you’re not alone in it. My mama’s fond of saying, “This too shall pass.” And, like a storm, it does. It does, friend. (Oopsie, sorry for the swear words, mum.)
So that’s what happens when I fly solo. Deep freakin’ thoughts – or welcome distractions from delightful peeps. Either way, I’m cool. But I am glad to be back on terra firma with my pal, Rusty.
Convince your mind to follow your heart, and enjoy the ride! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|February 9, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Worthy reads|
Sigh. My cholesterol’s high.
Not disastrously so, but it surprised my doctor & I @ my last wellness checkup. How could that be? My doc gave me homework, “Check your family history, and change your diet.” While my diet’s not off-the-hook horrible, I can certainly make changes. I won’t be guzzling 6-packs of highly caloric Ensure anymore, as I did a few months ago to survive my 2-week complete appetite loss that followed the news that my husband’s divorcing me. And I won’t be stress eating the quickest sugar-laden, simple carb within reach, as I did once my appetite returned. I will reduce saturated fats & increase fiber. Upon recheck, my cholesterol’s down but still a tad high. Good news! I’m on the right track, but, as it turns out, I have work to do on two fronts: self-care via diet & battling genetics.
I just finished reading “Am I Being Kind?” by Michael Chase.
It’s a lovely book; you should read it. I intend to revisit it @ least twice a year. Each read will impact me differently as I journey through my life’s recent & rapid changes. In the book, Michael recommends asking yourself as you go about your day if you’re being kind to yourself, others & the Earth. Being kind to yourself is a must, if you wish to give kindness to others. In short, wellness matters; it’s self-kindness. So now when I eat, I ask myself, “Am I being kind to my body if I eat this?”
I also recently read Lissa Rankin’s book, “Mind Over Medicine“.
My take-away (one of many) from her science-based, must re-read gem is that our minds contribute to good health or a lack of wellness. Our beliefs are powerful enough to create & compound illness. So, for example, if I walk around thinking that I’m bound to have high cholesterol because it runs in my family, then I’m more likely to have it. If, however, I genuinely believe (& I do) that I can affect my health in a positive way by reducing stress & improving my diet, then that’s quite possibly my future reality. Since my numbers & my family’s history both surprised me, I’ve got a real shot @ positively thinking my way to wellness.
I plan to thrive, not merely survive.
I choose a life of happiness & kindness shared with friends, family, pets & clients. I would give nothing less to Rusty. Now, I promise me that I’ll give nothing less to me. Wellness is now a priority. Having said that, I delight in good food & wine. Baking feeds my soul; I believe in real butter, cream & dark chocolate. What’s a high-LDL gal to do? Moderation, variety & creativity, of course!
Pears? Not so much.
Yes, they’re in season. Yes, they’re adorable. So much so, they’ve inspired countless artists’ still lifes. I want to take them home & fill a bowl with them – or bake with them – or drink them. I cherish a nice pear cosmo. And, a chocolate-pear scone would be divine but not kind to me now. But to eat a plain pear is dicey. While Rusty loves them, I detest their fuzzy grittiness. It’s a texture thing. My challenge: make fiber-rich, fat-free pears visually and tastefully appealing to me. How? You’ll see….
Ruth’s Spicy Chunky Pear Sauce
8-10 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored & cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup currants
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low & simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears have softened, about 25-30 minutes.
Mash with a potato masher. (If you want a smoother sauce, wait for it to cool. Then use an immersion or upright blender or a food processor.)
Once the sauce has cooled, store it in glass containers (healthier than plastic) in the frig for up to a week. To keep it longer, freeze or can it. Pear-fection!
~Tweaked from Two Peas & Their Pod~
Rusty LOVES the pear sauce as much as I do.
I picked the currants out of his portion. (No grapes, raisins or currants for dogs. The spices in the sauce are dog-friendly.) If you have pears but aren’t feeling saucy, just share them with your dog as is. (Don’t let Pup have the core or the seeds. Give one cube a day, as a little fiber for Fido goes a long way.) Or, pop them in the oven as I did to make Rusty’s Roasted Pears: Preheat oven to 375°. Peel & cube pears to desired treat size. Put pear chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until pear pieces feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Roasting makes them sweeter (not gritty) for you & Pup!
Moderation, variety & creativity are truly the spices of life & wellness.
My pear sauce is undoubtedly heavenly on fiber-rich oatmeal. It’s amazing on fat-free & yummy Cardamom-Pistachio Biscotti. But this girl knows a good thing when she tastes it: spicy pear sauce, warmed & spooned over coffee ice cream makes me do a happy dance! Listen, wellness isn’t about deprivation, ‘cuz YOLO. It’s about respecting and nurturing your body & soul. Pear-fection, indeed!
How do you strike a balance between health & happiness?
Please share your stories & recipes. We’re drooling with anticipation! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet