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Author Archives: Empowering Lightworks
Spring is the time of year when we become more active, go outside, and reawaken after the more sedentary winter energy phase. Our bodies go through a natural cleansing at this time of year. It is easy to see how the organs associated with this phase are the liver, gallbladder, and nervous system, the organs associated with detoxing the body. The liver and gallbladder are primarily responsible for purifying the blood. When these organs are working properly, they neutralize poisons and toxins and remove them from the blood. The liver also regulates the release of sugars into the body for fuel. If the liver is overtaxed from the over-consumption of dense fatty foods such as dairy foods, it cannot properly give the body energy. To make sure these important organs are working properly, we can incorporate the signature whole grain for spring, barley.
Barley is the whole grain known for cleansing the body. It is one of the oldest grains, originating in Southwest Asia around 8500 B.C. Roasted barley was one of the main foods of the gladiators because of its strength-building properties. Known for strengthening the blood and intestines, barley contains potassium, iron, calcium, protein, and fiber. When buying barley, look for whole barley. Pearl barley has the bran polished off, losing the fiber and other nutrients. Barley is excellent in soups, stews, salads, and vegetable dishes. It has a chewy, creamy texture, and a nice sweet taste. If you have gluten sensitivities, substitute brown rice for any recipe using barley.
Barley Vegetable Stew
9 cups water
1 cup barley
4 inch piece kombu
1 onion (diced)
5 garlic cloves (minced)
3 carrots (diced)
2 yellow summer squash (cut in small cubes)
2 celery stalks (diced)
2 cups mushrooms (cut up)
1 (15 oz.) can white beans (drained)
1/3 cup dark miso
1 tsp. sea salt
Bring the water to a boil in a soup pot. Add the kombu and cook for a couple minutes until kombu is soft. Remove from water, cut into small pieces, and add back to pot. Add the barley and reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, yellow summer squash, celery, and mushrooms. Continue simmering with cover on for 20 minutes more. Add the beans and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Take some of the hot broth and dissolve the miso and sea salt in it. Add back to the pot, turn off heat, and mix all together.
Chef Valerie Wilson, a.k.a, Macro Val, has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. Visit her website to purchase her new cookbook, Perceptions in Healthy Cooking Revised Edition, set up a phone consultation, or listen to her radio show, http://www.macrval.com. Facebook, Macro Val Food.
Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
As spring springs, birds migrate, buds blossom, bees buzz, and green returns to the forests. That clean, earthy aroma blows your winter blues away. The temptation to get off the winter-slumber sofa and be there when spring happens is irresistible. Take your phone along, not just to tell your friends to get off their butts and meet you outside, but to help you find interesting living things to photograph with your phone and upload to iNaturalist.org.
I’ve been using iNaturalist.org (iNat) since last summer. It’s amazing. Download the free iNaturalist app (App Store or Google Play). Take a picture of any living thing with your phone through the app (no humans or pets). You get a personalized species life list in your phone and online of what you saw, when you saw it and where you saw it – anywhere in the world! Your phone’s time and GPS coordinates are automatically recorded in the photo.
Even if you can’t identify the flower or critter in your photo, iNat’s amazing artificial intelligence engine will quickly analyze your photo and find the name for you! If your photo is good, the artificial intelligence is really good at identification. Photos can also be imported into iNat from Facebook, Picasa, or Flicker.
But wait, there’s much more waiting online when you get home. Go to your free iNat account. Someone else, a naturalist, an actual human, another iNat user has probably viewed one or more of your online photos and either agrees with your ID or corrected it. I’ve had iNat users from all over the United States and Canada, Italy, Norway, even Australia help ID my photos! Many of them are experts in their fields.
If two or more people agree with the name of the thing in your photo, it moves from “Needs ID” to “Research Grade” and can be used by researchers and organizations around the world who scientifically monitor and study nature. Your phone photos can contribute to the world of citizen science!
My Painted Lady and Red Admiral butterfly photos from Marquette are migrants from Texas. I never knew that! Those observations were found in iNat and used by the Vanessa Migration Project and by eButterfly North America.
While online, view the iNat map to discover instantly a species’ range, who else found it, when and where. Or specify any map location and all the observations by all the observers in that location will appear. Go to Marquette County, MI, US (my area) and you’ll see my observations along with others. View the “People” tab. My avatar is “nonfictionsteve.” iNat built a fantastic 2017 Year in Review page for me featuring my photos: inaturalist.org/stats/2017/nonfictionsteve.
I strive for extra high-quality photos with a DSLR camera and lenses, but that’s just my choice. Many iNat observers just use a phone camera with great results. Just be sure your subject mostly fills the photo frame, is reasonably clear, and is well lit. Use the phone’s focus and flash when necessary for a good exposure. Remember, you are trying to upload an image that can be recognized from millions of life forms on this planet: bugs, plants, reptiles, amphibians, fish, etc., so details are important.
Once you’re familiar with iNat’s features and power, you could host a “BioBlitz” where a group of friends, children, or adults can iNat one location en masse and photograph 50 to 100 species in just an hour. It’s educational, amazing, and fun.
Grab your phone. Get outside. Connect with a community of over 500,000 scientists and naturalists worldwide who can help you learn more about nature. For details, visit inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started.
Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Lean Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net
Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
I’m watching the Super Bowl and the running back takes the hand-off, racing to the right side where he sharply cuts upfield through the hole that his lineman opened for him. As he emerges from the hole, it quickly closes with a linebacker exploding into him. He astonishingly spins out of the tackler’s arms, keeping his footing and darting another five yards out of bounds, getting a key first down for his team.
Two nights later, I’m watching my favorite hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings, on TV when Dylan Larkin catches a crisp pass on his stick, leaning hard into the defenseman who is all over him, all the while firing a bullet at the opposing team’s net.
The next night, I’m at my Marquette City basketball game. At age fifty-nine, I play on a team with mostly 35 to 38-year-olds. We’re playing against the youngest team in the league, whose players average 28 years. We get a turnover and start a break-away during which a quick pass comes my way. It’s slightly deflected, causing me to spin my upper torso while running in the other direction. I lose my footing and fall hard to the ground as the ball bounces off my arm and out of bounds.
All of these situations have something in common, something that most of us take for granted – balance! As Wikipedia explains, “In biomechanics, balance is the ability to maintain the line of gravity (vertical line to the center of mass) of the body within the base of support with minimal postural support.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_(ability))
Many factors come into play to achieve good balance, which requires the coordination of input from multiple sensory systems. These systems include but are not limited to sense organs, as well as pressure and vibratory senses, skin, joints, plus visual senses that all work in unity, detecting changes in spatial orientation in relation to the base of support, whether the body moves or the base is altered in some way. Environmental factors such as surface and lighting conditions, ear infections, alcohol, some medications, and other drug use also impact balance.
As important as balance is, most people take it for granted. Have you ever misjudged the height of a curb while walking down the street, or caught your shoe on a raised crack in the sidewalk? There are various levels of stability, and while as an athlete, my ability to stay upright is pretty good, I’m still quite impressed by some of the people I see paddle boarding, snowboarding, surfing, downhill skiing or acrobatic skateboarding. Nonetheless, as with muscle tone, our balance typically declines with age. For example, my elderly aunt misjudged the second step going up to my brother’s house, lost her balance, and fell of the porch, breaking her hip.
As a lifelong athlete and a former coach, it is clear to me that my balance isn’t what it used to be. I also realize there are a slew of ways to improve it. One favorite that comes to mind is the dot drill. I place four dots forming a square on the floor, roughly three feet apart with another dot in the middle of them all. I begin by standing on the middle dot and then jumping with both feet to the upper right dot and back to the middle, then to the lower right dot and back to middle, followed by the lower left dot and returning to the middle, then up to the upper left dot and back to the middle. I repeat this clockwise sequence three times, followed by the same movements in a counter-clockwise sequence three times. Once I’m able to do that confidently without pause, I work toward doing it with a one-legged hop, changing legs when I change direction from clockwise to counterclockwise.
Zumba, yoga, tai chi or any other fitness class with trained professionals able to assist you in realizing your goals can also help you make great strides in improving your balance. Key here is finding what works best for you, whether done at home or with a group.
For me, quality of life is essential, and that doesn’t happen by doing nothing. In order to improve, you must practice. That’s a good reminder to me. While we may automatically pay more attention to having a healthier diet, or working on muscle tone as we age, it’s extremely important to work on balance improvement too. Our quality of life lies in the balance.
Kevin McGrath believes that life is a balancing act, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. He can be found stumbling his way through it.
Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation from performing in his first Broadway musical, In the Heights. He was exhausted and looking for a big, fat book to distract him, so he picked up a copy of Rob Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton in the airport bookstore.
Later, sitting on the beach, reading Chernow’s book, Miranda began hearing Hamilton’s life in song. By the time his vacation was over, he was on the road to creating his Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning hip-hop musical Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda discovered his masterpiece like a seashell in the sand.
Inspiration can be found in unlikely places. I’ve discovered poems while jogging, watching the film Citizen Kane, and baking a pecan pie for my mother. In fact, when I feel creatively stuck, I purposely take a break from my normal activities. I do something as far away from poetry as I can, and that is when poetry usually finds me.
If you are looking to jumpstart yourself creatively, here are prompts for how to find your seashell:
Pick up a book by one of your favorite writers. I love the poet Sharon Olds. When I read her poems, I find myself opening up like a tulip bulb.
Go for a walk in the woods or along a beach. If you are a writer, don’t bring your notebook with you. Instead, take your phone or a sketchbook. If you are a photographer, leave behind your camera. Bring a journal instead. Try your hand at a different art form to record your stroll in nature.
Todd Kaneko, author of the acclaimed poetry collection The Dead Wrestler Elegies, once told me his trick for finding his seashell. He said that he comes up with the absolute worst idea in the world (in his case, it was a series of poems about dead professional wrestlers), and then he pursues that worst idea.
When she feels creatively stuck, writer Natalie Goldberg makes a date to meet with one of her writing friends to share new work. Simply having a deadline can be enough of a kick in the pants to get started.
Listen to music that moves or inspires you. For me, recently, it has been the cast recording of Hamilton. However, I am equally moved by Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma or Billy Joel crooning “Captain Jack.”
Take a class in something you’ve always wanted to try—cooking or quilting or gardening or speaking Italian. Again, it’s about shaking the cobwebs out of your head. Forcing yourself to think “outside the box.”
Like Lin-Manuel Miranda, pick up a book you would never ordinarily read. I recently read a study of journalism at the turn of the 20th century. It ended up providing the background for an essay I wrote for Christmas.
Go someplace you have never been before, even if it’s a simple day trip to a local waterfall. A change of scenery often sparks new ideas. I once struggled with a poem for three months. I didn’t know how to finish it. Then I gave a reading in Sault Ste. Marie. As soon as I checked into my hotel in the Sault, I sat down at the desk in my room and wrote the ending to that poem.
Eat some dark chocolate. Just because chocolate helps everything.
Finding seashells is easy. They come in all shapes. All sizes. Tonight, I’m going to sit down and start reading a 1200-page biography of Charles Dickens that’s on my bookshelf. Who knows? I might find a poem or painting. Or maybe, just maybe, a Broadway musical.
U.P. Poet Laureate Martin Achatz teaches at NMU. He has published a collection of poems, and his work has appeared in anthologies and journals. Also a musician, Martin has released a CD of Christmas music and essays. Martin also enjoys hunting for Bigfoot with his son.
“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” – Spanish Proverb
Does the mere thought of procrastination provoke a sense of uneasiness and even mild-to-moderate guilt?
According to http://www.psychologicalscience.org, “experts define it as the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we’ll suffer as a result. Studies have found that procrastinators carry accompanying feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety with their decision to delay, in addition to negative impacts on ‘performance, well-being, health, relationships, regrets & bereavement.’ ”
Leading expert Pychyl, who runs the 20-year-old Procrastination Research Group, finds “Procrastinators get sick more often, report higher rates of depression, and suffer the somatic and psychological effects of elevated stress. Procrastination doesn’t only affect our personal well-being and integrity, but it has an ethical dimension, affecting those around us who suffer ‘second-hand,’ either because of the time we take away from them when we rush off to finish things last-minute, or because the stress we put ourselves under negatively affects the health of our relationships.”
While some of us are chronic procrastinators (20 percent of the U.S. population, according to psychologist Dr. Joseph Ferrari, a leading international researcher on the topic), most of us procrastinate at some time or another. Do you have a task you’ve been putting off? If so, I invite you to explore the following questions:
Is this actually a task or is it a goal? If it’s a goal, what is the first task for you to accomplish toward it? For example, if I want to lose weight, that is my goal. I will then need to choose concrete steps toward achieving it, perhaps no longer buying high-calorie snacks, or eating smaller portions. If what you initially chose is a goal, pick a beginning action step toward it, and apply the questions below.
Do I truly need to do this task? Is it actually a low priority item for my values, a “should” from a sense of social expectations or obligations? Or is it something that is more appropriately someone else’s responsibility? For example, has your child reached an age where he or she could put away his or her laundry, benefitting by taking responsibility for this task?
Do I want to do this task? Does it help me to achieve something I value? Or help to prevent something I find detrimental from taking place? Take a look at the longer-term benefits here. While your task may not have short-term appeal to you, its longer-term value may get you over the delaying-hump to act on it. For example, if I want healthy gums and teeth, I may choose to floss daily despite any dislike I may have for the action itself.
Am I able to do this task? Or do I need more information, skills, or other support? If so, what steps can I take to equip me to complete this task? Do I need to chunk this task down into a series of smaller, more easily accomplishable tasks?
Is there something else I need to do before tackling this task? Do I need more sleep and/or nutrition to be able to accomplish it? Do I need to clear a physical space (desk, counter, etc.) to be physically and/or mentally able to do it? Do I need to obtain and/or organize the materials involved to be able to do it? Is there a different task that really, truly is more important for me to take care of first?
Am I afraid of failing (or of succeeding) at this task? If so, what potential consequences of this are concerning me? How might I respond effectively to my concerns? Who or what might support me in responding to these concerns? Are these potential consequences of greater or lesser concern to me than the risks involved with not following through with this task?
Am I simply in the habit of not doing this task? If so, what steps can I take to help me create a new habit of accomplishing this task? Is there someone or something that might help support me in creating this new habit?
Is there a better way for me to accomplish this task? Is there a more efficient method for me to do this? A more enjoyable one? A better perspective on doing it? A better time of day for me to do it? Might it help me to schedule it in or tell someone supportive when I will accomplish it? Set a deadline for its completion? Reward myself in a healthy manner for following through at each step along the way? Would it be better for me to request, barter or pay someone else to do it?
As Pychyl explains “Procrastination is really a self-inflicted wound that gradually chips away at the most valuable resource in the world: time.” Only you can discover what you need to do to help heal that wound and reap the rewards of time well-spent.
Roslyn Elena McGrath is the author of Chakras Alive! and other personal growth books and CDs. She recently released a recording of the Chakras Alive! meditations, and also offers workshops and private appointments. For more info., visit http://www.empoweringlightworks.com or contact (906) 228-9097, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve made a career of technology. I’m an advocate of computer science education programs in our communities and public schools. I use a smartphone, a computer, and dozens of applications and internet resources every day, so it may seem odd that I don’t let my kids have a smartphone.
My eleven-year-old daughter wrote me an impressive, persuasive letter requesting a phone as a school assignment. I wrote her a letter in return. I took the opportunity to tell my daughter how much I love her, admire her, and have been proud of her patient efforts to convince me of her need for a phone. She’s been logical and creative in her approach. I had to give her credit. I have valid concerns, too – screen time, addictive distraction, cyber-bullying, texting, access to inappropriate or dangerous material. My core reason? I want to preserve her childhood. I want her to hold on to her ability to just be. I don’t want a phone taking over the spaces of her life that she fills with her innocence, presence, love of nature, and active pursuits. I don’t want texting and social media to consume the time she spends biking, writing, drawing, storytelling, or playing guitar. I want to spare her the dark side of technology.
So, I was honest. I wrote to her about her cherished childhood and about how much a phone can get in the way of the most joyous parts of life. I used myself as an example. I told her honestly about how technology sometimes consumes my time. I acknowledged my own distractions that she’s often noted with frustration. I reminded her of stories she’d shared with me about friends’ fixation on their phones.
Technology is an important part of our world today. Phones and other technology have brought our lives great benefits. I let her know I understand and support her need to have and use technology. Then I moved on to the real answer she’d been waiting for – when could she have a phone. Instead of an age or a date, I focused on important key concepts directly related to having a phone:
Responsibility – A smartphone is an expensive piece of equipment. It needs to be cared for and used responsibly: communicating maturely and respectfully with others, not bullying or gossiping; making good choices in online content, knowing when something is inappropriate; putting the phone down when it’s time to do other things.
Integrity and Trust – A smartphone gives access to apps and the internet, to communicating with people without parents knowing. With it come temptations and risks such as bullying, sending inappropriate pictures, communicating with prohibited people, and looking at adult content, so strong integrity and trustworthiness must be demonstrated.
Gratitude – A phone is a privilege. Far more people in the world do not have phones than do. A child who lives in a home with a loving family, regular food on the table, and clean drinking water is more fortunate than most. It’s important to be grateful for the things we have. A child who doesn’t recognize good fortune, express gratitude, and share his or her good fortune where possible is not ready to have a phone.
Presence – The greatest gifts we receive are simply our life and time. A phone brings a big potential drain on time, focus, and presence. So showing consistent ability to be present without a phone is a good step toward maintaining presence with a phone.
Money – Phones cost money up-front and every month thereafter, so one must have an understanding of money, value the things it’s used for, make good decisions about money, and be ready to help pay for the phone to be ready to have one.
I gave my daughter clear examples of how she could demonstrate maturity in each of these areas and told her that over the next year, we’d communicate and focus on these things with the goal of showing her readiness for a phone. I told her she could also hold me accountable for the things I was expecting of her. I closed the letter with a reminder of my love and admiration for her. She was happy to have a clear answer and seemed to beam with a sense of satisfaction over how it was delivered.
I don’t know when a child should get a phone. It’s a thorny parenting issue. I’m glad now to have created a clear construct for mature, respectful conversation with my daughter about it. I feel good about having empowered her to work on showing me when she’s ready. I can’t turn back the hands of time to simpler days when smartphones didn’t exist. Hopefully, though, with positive parenting, I can help her learn balance to preserve the simple joys in her life when she’s got her own phone.
Keith Glendon, father to three daughters and a son, a husband and practitioner of joy, always wanted to be a writer. In his early forties, he changed “I want to be a writer” to “I am a writer.” He’s grateful to share his voice with you.