Friday, February 25, 2011

The Unmistakable Touch of Grace: Embark on a Spiritual Journey

I am now open and receptive to the power of grace in my life. I ask to be shown clear examples of how I can face this challenge with courage, wisdom, and strength.

A few weeks ago I began reading Cheryl Richardson's "The Unmistakable Touch of Grace." In this book Richardson shares her experience opening herself to the Universe, moving from depression and an abusive relationship to a place of inner peace, guidance, and love. Each chapter she shares her progression, and provides assignments to the reader to encourage our own exploration of grace. In the second chapter she encourages us to share our Spiritual Journey, thus far, with someone else. This is my story.

From Hinduism to Atheism and Back Again: Or, My Journey to Spiritual Love
My family never went to church, discussed God, faith, or prayed. As a little kid, I attended various church camps or Sunday schools with friends. I always thought it odd that the children never questioned anything and took it all on faith, a concept I struggle with to this day. In third grade some kids on the playground asked me if I believed in God. Eh? I had no idea. I told them I needed to ask my Mom and I'd let them know the next day. My wonderful Mom took it  all in stride, sat me down, and told me that when I was older I would be able to determine what path was right for me. She shared some basics of various world religions and I decided I liked Hinduism. Cow worshipping vegetarians who believe in reincarnation, why not? The next day at school I proudly told the kids I was Hindu. Satisfied that I had a "religion" we ran off to play tether ball. 

 In high school I declared myself an Atheist. I even volunteered to participate in a Q&A for my Sociology class. Classmates asked me ridiculous questions, like, "what will you tell your kids on Easter?". Hello, we're 14, really? Basically I decided that there were a million available religions and how the heck would anyone really know which one was right, so I'd just find out when I died. Atheist and proud, I even wrote a special column for the school paper, just in time for Christmas. Hey, I found it amusing. As I moved into college I realized Agnostic was a more accurate term, because I didn't really know, and atheists are firm that there is no life after death. Satisfied, I really didn't think about it again until a few years ago, when I realized that Spirituality is more than the "life after death question" and doesn't involve following a specific doctrine. It's a connectedness to our inner self and a believe that all life is connected and sharing in this experience. I related my Spiritual beliefs to the "Force" in Star Wars. 

I still don't have all the answers, but I am coming to terms with the fact that I am a physical, emotional and spiritual being, and being healthy involves creating balance in all areas. I am more open to connecting with my spirit guides, reading Oracle Cards, meditation, and recognizing signs that all are all around us. A Course of Miracles states, "When you believe something, you have made it true for you." I believe my journey is just beginning, and that journey is heading towards Universal Love. 

What's your Spiritual Journey story? 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hello, My Name is Shanna and I am a Sugar Addict

I dream about chocolate. I make chocolate plans. I start to twitch when chocolate isn't near. I think about it hours before I know I'll "need" it, plotting, planning, making sure I'm never in a position where I don't have easy access to chocolate. I'm a chocoholic. I know part of it is the sugar, that addictive white powder that destroys immune systems with a grin.

This summer I'm attending a Vipssanna Retreat.  This 10 day experience includes a vow of silence, 4:30am rising time, 15 hours a day of deep meditation, and simple meals. This doesn't faze me. However, my Ego started to freak a few days ago when I realized that I would be going through a sugar detox during my experience. NO SUGAR NO CHOCOLATE FOR 10 DAYS!!! Yikes!

This is when I realized I need to get  a grip. At some point I am going to do some minor sugar detoxes before the retreat, however, until then I am vowing now to buy any more sugar for cooking. I have completely run out, so from here on out my baking needs will be experimenting with Stevia, Agave Nectar, Yacon Syrup, the new coconut sugar, etc. I will write a blog detailing the pros and cons of each alternative later in the week. For now, I'm going to drink a green smoothie and forget about those dark chocolate bars, lurking in the pantry.

Monday, February 14, 2011

30 Things: #19 and #28 Send Love Letters to Family/Friends/Mentors

"Love is your safety. Fear does not exist. Identify with love, and you are safe. Identify with love, and you are home. Identify with love, and find your Self. Love is your power. " A Course in Miracles

This past week I've written nearly a dozen Love Letters, with a few more to go. What an enchanting, moving, and uplifting experience! There is so much love in this world and inside each one of us. When was the last time you really told someone you loved them. Do you share that love as deeply with your friends, as with your lover? Love is all encompassing and should be shared openly, not hidden away. Writing these letters this week has been a cathartic release for me. I have never done well expressing emotions, except in words. This is a beautiful method to show someone you care. Forget email and text, get out some paper or a card, buy a stamp, and drop that baby in the mail! Remember how good it felt to get something other than bills and junk in the mail. Send your love the old fashioned way! 

Not sure what to say? Think with your heart. What do you admire about this person? How has this person enhanced your life? What special/funny memories do you share? 

Have you ever written someone a Love Letter? 

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Heart My Sleep Mask

Like most, sometimes sleep does not come easily to me. Between Triton's snoring, sounds from the neighborhood, and small slips of light coming through the sides of my blinds, it can take awhile to fall to sleep sometimes.  One item that has helped tremendously is the purchase of a Sleep Mask. This lovely little item blankets your eyes, blocking out ALL light fragments. Why is this important? Even in a seemingly dark room, any pinpricks of light can affect the depth of our sleep. Our Pineal Gland secrets Melatonin, a hormone that affects our biological rhythms, including our circadian rhythm. The darker our surroundings, the more melatonin our body is able to produce, and in many cases, the better we will sleep. Some nights I do not wear my mask, but I always put it on around dawn, when the sun gets up, because lets face it, I don't get up with the sun, and who can sleep through that?

Masks are fairly inexpensive, cozy, once you get used to them, and easily accessible. This is the one that I currently have, which has served me well for at least two years now.

What do you think of Sleep Masks? Have you ever worn one? Would you?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

EFT in Review

Last weekend I took an EFT class at my Mother's house. I had done a one on one class with her a few years ago, which, incredible! I laughed, cried, danced, had visions; serious emotional release. This past weekend I attended a class with three other ladies, all who experienced amazing changes during our afternoon. Not familiar with EFT? Here's a blurb written by the lady herself, my healer-Mom, Rhonda.

EFT is often referred to as emotional acupuncture only without the needles.
The theory behind EFT is that unresolved negative emotions are major contributors to most physical pain and disease. EFT is a simple, fast way to clear out the emotions that are disrupting your body’s energies by gently tapping on acupuncture points while focusing on your specific physical or emotional problem. It has been found to be amazingly effective for providing relief from phobias, fears, addictions, and an extraordinary range of problems. With EFT you can release the emotions surrounding major traumas without having to relive them. Often you can experience relief in a single session as opposed to months or even years of "talk therapy."
Almost anyone can quickly learn to release the stuck emotions that prevent them from experiencing health and happiness and achieving their goals in life. Many amazing results have been achieved by using EFT with children and pets. You can use EFT for just about everything from the common cold to cancer, and you use the same basic procedure for relieving a fear of public speaking as you do for improving your golf score or reducing pain. You can learn to tap away a bad mood, the pain in your back, or a craving for chocolate in just minutes!

Cool! In our class, we learned the basic tapping points, phrase options, the Choices Method, the Movie method, and much more. One lady had chronic pain issues, and since our class, she has not experienced any pain! Isn't that amazing? Now, I will say that some issues may take a little more effort. For instance, if you were robbed at gunpoint, you may have to tap through the experience several times to release. Why? It's like peeling the layers of an onion. You were probably frightened by the experience, angered, experienced loss, violated. You may be experiencing after effects, such as fear of going out in public (if that's where it occurred), fear of strangers, etc. Forgiveness is also important, and it's always a good idea to clear difficult situations with a forgiveness release. However, each round of tapping will reduce the emotional connection to the experience, making it easier and easier to think about, until at some point you can think of the experience without experiencing strong emotion. Then, you have released it. I have used EFT to eliminate headaches, release emotions surrounding the failing health of my Grandma, issues pertaining to my cancer, depression, food inhibitions, etc. Here's a video from my second favorite EFT guru, Brad Yates


EFT is a great tool for releasing emotional blockages, curing allergies, and can even help deal with behavioral problems with your pets! Here are a few of my favorite links:

EFT For the Health and Well Being of Our Pets
EFT for Allergy Relief
Empower Your Affirmations With EFT

To learn more about EFT, sign up for Rhonda (mommy's) class here.

Have you tried EFT? What was your experience? If you haven't tried it, are you willing to?

Monday, February 7, 2011

30 Things Before I Turn 30: #13 Attend a Roller Derby

I've had a desire to attend the Roller Derby for a few years now, but somehow always missed the season. Saturday night some gals pals and I headed down to Municipal Auditorium for the opening game of the season! We have four local teams: Black-Eyed Susans, Dreadnought Dorothys, Knockouts and Victory Vixens. If you are not familiar with the derby, essential, it's kick-ass chicks on roller skates, speeding around a ring, trying to score points, and knocking down anyone who gets in the way. The game is simple, once you get the hang of it, but violence and incredible skating moves play a large part. It's wild, crazy fun, the audience is spirited, and the Kansas City Roller Warriors do an excellent job of making a real production out it. I will say that the particular match we saw, which was a double header, would have been more entertaining if the teams had been more even. The Black-Eyed Susans killed the Dreadnought Dorothys, winning by an 80 point spread.  The second game between the Knockouts and Victory Vixens turned into an even bigger slaughter, with the Vixens coming out ahead by 100 points! The season runs through August, so hopefully we will make another game, with teams more evenly matched. Otherwise, great experience and I hope to do it again!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In the Kitchen With Shanna: Onion Rings, Vegetable Korma and Pasta Salad!

I've been in the kitchen a lot this past week, making so many delicious vegan delights. Once again I have to send my love to Isa Moskowitz for her amazing vegan cookbooks.  This week I've been focusing on her new one, Appetite For Reduction. The book focuses on low-fat, healthy options for vegans. After going raw, and cleaning out my diet, fried foods simply make me sick. I used to love fried pickles and onion rings, but sadly, they are no longer my friend. Until...Isa came along! She's created a fabulous OMG Oven Baked Onion Rings, which I made earlier this week. I also had some pickles on hand and thought, why not?

I served these with Garlic Aioli using a recipe modified from the Urban Vegan cookbook.

Garlic Aioli
Ingredients: 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup Vegenaise, 2 T lemon juice, 2 T olive oil, salt/pepper/garlic salt to taste

Directions: Mix everything in food processor until blended. Taste and add garlic seasoning as needed. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

This recipe for Vegetable Korma also comes from Isa's new book. Unfortunately, my pantry is really not stocked for unusual spices, however, this still came out tasting out of this world.

2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma

Ingredients: 1 tsp olive oil, 1 small red onion quartered and sliced thinly, 3 cloves garlic, 2 T minced ginger, 2 tsp curry power, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups vegetable broth, 1 1/2 lbs cauliflower cut into florets, 1 pound zucchini cut into 1/4 inch slices, 1/2 pound carrots peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices, 3/4 cup frozen peas, 3/4 cup light coconut milk, 1 tsp agave nectar, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions: Preheat 4-quart pot over medium heat.Saute the onion in oil for 5 minute; Add garlic and ginger and saute another minute. Add broth, mix in spices. Add cauliflower, zucchini, and carrots.  Cover the pot and boil for 10 minutes. Add the peas, coconut milk, agave and cilantro. Turn off the heat and let the flavors meld for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with brown rice.

Shanna's Pasta Salad

Ingredients: 16 oz tri-colored pasta, one whole cucumber peeled and diced, 2 tomatoes diced, one bell pepper diced, 1 can black olives sliced, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 T lemon juice, basil/oregano/garlic/salt/pepper to taste

Directions: Boil the pasta per bag instructions (Note: you could sub for a gluten free pasta if you have an intolerance). Chop all the veggies and place in a large boil. Mix the liquid ingredients. I do not measure my seasonings, but I would say I add a "dash" of the salt/black pepper, and a few teaspoons of each other seasoning. Drain the pasta and run cold water over it until it stops steaming. Add pasta to bowl of veggies, and toss with dressing. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

What's been cooking in your kitchen?

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