Create Moments of Solace to RE-Energize the Soul

chiesa

Certain vitamins must be consumed throughout the day to get maximum benefits. In other words, if we took them all at once in the morning, by afternoon our system would be once again depleated. Rarely do we think of quietude as a necessary re-energizer that should be repeated throughout the day. And yet, as with vitamins, we benefit most from several mini- moments of breaking away from the day’s chaos. Just taking a few deep breaths before returning to do our work keeps us on an even keel, and steadis our emotional reserves. It only takes 5 minutes to restore our minds to clarity. Stepping into a dim church in the middle of the day for a few minutes of meditation, or a quiet museum or library, can make you feel like a brand new person when you step back out. Alternately you can take a lazy stroll around the block in the sun while you clear your thoughts, your worries, and the  busy-ness of your day’s routine.

If you want to see if solitude breaks can make a difference in your mood, try this: Several times a day, make an effort to filter out negativity and anything that is causing you to feel angry, frustrated, or sad.  During your brief  solace breaks , imagine a large eraser that wipes the troubled chalk board of worrisome thoughts clean again.

Renew your spirits with regular solace intervals. You will be more effective and even happier when you get back  to your day!

Do solace breaks work for you? Do share your story…

Put balance into your life–today.

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Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is often seen as the symbol of perfect balance. It is a great reminder to keep our own lives in balance; not to neglect values that are important to us, and to make adjustments on a daily basis. Remember–piccoli passi, small steps. What aspects of your life do you need to pay more attention to? What do you plan to do on this day to follow through?  You need only start with today and make today be the start of a new pattern that will serve your emotional and physical well-being. Here are some things people have told me they need for balance:

–Cook more home-made meals, less fast food

-Get up from their desk more and walk around or stretch during the day

-Get to bed 1 hour earlier each night

-Follow through with friend time , at least once a week

–Take some more time to primp and look better

–Focus on the positive thoughts, and let them crowd out the negative.

–Go to events that stimulate your mind, like a good lecture or book-signing

Let me know what YOU will do today, to put your life in balance. I love to hear from my readers!

Blizzard + Vitamix = Rachelina’s Healthy Biscotti

Lentil PB Cookies

During this paralyzing blizzard, in which I am fortunate enough to at least still have power (grazie al Signore), I decided to try my new high powered blender, said to be strong enough to pulverize grains and legumes, and turn them in to powerfully nutritious flours. In the back of my cabinet lay an old bag of lentils. I figured, “perche’ no?”, and why not?

Angelina D’Agostino created culinary masterpieces with whatever she had in her pantry, but what she didn’t have on hand ever—were refined, processed ingredients. The breads and pastas she made were based on whole grain flours, just like the ingredients she used in her era in Italia. The desserts she served were freshly picked fruits, a few nuts, or a bit of cheese. Basta. She didn’t believe in refined flour or sugar, and neither does her son Marino (mio papa’), who recently celebrated his 93rd birthday.

The  Vitamix dry blade, had it been invented back then, would have made grinding grains a breeze for Angelina, and she might have even expanded her perspective on desserts. (Nonna, ci penso io,  let me take care of it for you!) Still she would never have guessed that lenticchie, lentils, could have been whipped into the most nutritious cookies this side of America.  Of course you can substitute store bought whole wheat flour, or any of the wonderful whole grain flours you find in the health food store (quinoa, etc). If you can, though, I do recommend a Vitamix or other similar equipment (no, I definitely do not represent the company in any way shape or form). So here you have my latest healthy sweet treat. Delicous, if I do say so myself!:

 

Rachelina’s Peanut Butter Cookies alla Lenticchia (with Lentils!)

¼ cup of olive oil

¾  cup natural chunky peanut butter

¼ cup raw sesame seeds

1 heaping tablespoon flax seeds

¾ cup maple syrup

1 egg

1 ¾  cups lentil flour (ground in my Vitamix from about 1 cup of dry lentils)

¾ tsp soda

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix flour, soda, baking powder and salt with fork. Add all other ingredients and mix with clean hands. Shape into one inch balls. Place on lightly oiled cookie sheet (or non stick). Gently flatten in a criss cross pattern with the back of a fork (about 2 inches in diameter). Bake for 10-12 minutes until set but not hard.

Enjoy for breakfast with your cappuccino or for dessert when you want something to curb that sweet tooth but not leave you in sugar-shock.

Felicita’: Happiness is Being Flexible

ipod

As I set out to walk my dog in the thick of our recent New England cold snap, I discovered I had left my ipod shuffle in the glove compartment overnight. Music is normally my joyful distraction, from let’s say noticing I am starting to turn into a block of ice. Of course, certain songs tend to do the job better than others. A few select tunes in my collection had come to grow on me  more than others. So I would typically play those over and over as I walked.

On this sub-zero morning, however, my shuffle dial was frozen!  I could not fast forward, nor go backward. After minutes of incessant pressing and trying to get it to do what I wanted, I heard the voice of my grandmother, when she would see me insist on forcing something that wasn’t working, despite all of my efforts.

“Lascia sta’”, she would admonish. “Let it be.”

I had to get my glove back on in a hurry anyway, so there was no choice but to let the ipod take charge of me.  I went with it.

To my surprise, I was led back to some fantastic songs  that I had almost forgotten about, having been so fixed on repeating my faves. Now I remembered why I had downloaded those tunes to begin with. It was because I loved them! And it was like hearing them again for the first time. I was now in such bliss that  I hardly noticed the cold at all anymore; I was so busy singing at the top of my lungs.

Sometimes letting things just “be” when we have done our best and still can’t change them, is the wisest strategy we can take.  Despite our tendency to want to be able to control everything in our lives, there will always be some things, that, despite our efforts, we have no say over. I fear we are gradually losing the ability to accept that fact, and in the process we become more stressed and frustrated, to the point of getting ourselves sick. In the end, we may have just been better off, letting things happen as they will, and going with the flow.  Happiness, after all , is about  enjoying each day as it comes–despite the glitches.

The next time you get frustrated over something you try to change to no avail, “lascia stare”, leave it alone, let it go. Work with whatever is meant to be, and let yourself feel happy anyway. Flex your flexibility muscle. Learn to make the best of any situation, and discover unexpected joys along the way. Most important–you will do it without paying the price of your well-being.

Abbracci (hugs)

Raeleen