Archive | December, 2011

Awakening to Emotions By Tina Gilbertson

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Jason

A divorced woman is told by her friends that she seems to be “stuck in grief” over her marriage.

A man who was fired from his job is accused by friends and family of “hanging on to his anger” about it.

A student is ashamed of “refusing to let go of her concern” about not doing well on exams.

As a mental health counselor, I often hear people talk about the painful feelings that bring them into therapy as if the feelings themselves were the problem. They see so-called “negative” emotions as a sort of psychic detritus clogging up their lives, rather than as valid and valuable responses to life’s challenges.

Emotions (or feelings – I use the words interchangeably) are more than meaningless waves on the surface of our minds. They’re more than random chemical occurrences in our brains. Emotions are nothing less than clues about who we are and what matters to us.

Like it or not, your personality, relationship style, career aspirations, mental health and subjective quality of life are all tied inextricably to your emotions.

Personality

Our feelings about what’s going on in our lives, and in the world around us, represent who we are. Without our unique emotional response, we would all have the same personality (i.e., none).

The fact that you and I have slightly – or wildly – different emotional reactions to the same person or situation is largely a function of our emotions.

The more you’re aware of your own authentic emotional reaction to something, the better you know yourself. Refuse to pay attention to your own feelings long enough, and you will start forgetting who you are.

Relationship Style

Your emotions affect how you behave in relationships, especially if you’re not fully conscious of them.

We tend to act out feelings we’re not aware of.  For example, a barely felt sense of being rejected might lead us to withdraw (the old “leave them before they leave you” maneuver), or else to seek repeated reassurances that eventually wear the other person out.

We need to be emotionally intimate with ourselves before we can be emotionally intimate with another person. Otherwise, how can we know what to share? Without emotional self-knowledge, we don’t have even the option of sharing our real selves. And if we can’t do that, we’re really alone.

Career Aspirations

Your career can be a reflection of your authentic self, if you want it to be. It can be a way of bringing your gifts to the world while getting paid to do it. But without access to all your emotions, you might not have the information you need to both identify and pursue your life’s work.

Why? Because the work you were born to do is in your heart, not in your head. It’s in what you enjoy doing, not what you think (or have been told) you’re good at. Enjoyment is an emotion. So is interest. Also desire and motivation.

Connecting to these emotions can fill in large blanks in your career decision-making.

Mental Health

When someone sits in my office in obvious anguish over a loss, I silently celebrate their good mental health, even as I acknowledge and validate their pain.

Emotional discomfort, like physical pain, is a message that something needs our attention.

People who suffer from a rare genetic disorder that leaves them insensitive to physical pain are in danger of injury and even death (e.g., from a burst appendix) because of their inability to experience pain. To be truly healthy, you must have functioning pain sensors.

Quality of Life

How do you measure your quality of life? Is it how much money you have? How successful or good-looking your partner, your children, or yourself? Is there even an objective measure of quality of life?

Quality of life can really only be measured in emotions. We feel good in our lives. We enjoy our lives. Or not. Regardless of what we have on paper, it’s our feelings that rule the day. Hence, we can be poor and happy, rich and miserable.

If you swat your emotions away, or try to ignore them, you will never experience high quality of life.

Emotions like dissatisfaction, rejection and anguish coexist with hope, enthusiasm and joy. They’re all in the same bottle, and that bottle is either corked or open. Let your emotions come out and guide you to make needed changes in your life.

Becoming aware of all your feelings may show you your pain, but if you’re interested in living an authentic life as YOU, it’s worthwhile to awaken to your emotions.

Tina Gilbertson is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in SE Portland. She offers individual therapy and personal growth classes in a variety of subjects. She is currently working on a book about how to “constructively wallow” in emotions. For more information, visit www.TinaGilbertson.com.

 

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Exploring the Last Frontier with Astronaut Edgar Mitchell

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Jason

The sixth of only 12 men to walk the lunar surface, Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell had a life-changing experience in 1971 as his spacecraft sailed back to Earth. Long before he first published The Way of the Explorer in 1996, he understood that the beautiful blue planet to which he was returning was part of a harmonious and whole living system and that we each participate in a universe of consciousness.

This expanded worldview led him to found the nonprofit Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in 1973, to support individual and collective transformation and realization of human potential. Since its inception, IONS has conducted research in: intentionality and prayer in healing; subtle fields and energy medicine; inner dimensions of the healing response; and emerging worldviews. Noetic means “intuitive mind” or “inner knowing” and IONS looks deeply into phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional science models while maintaining scientific rigor.

How would you describe the life-changing experience that happened on your way home from the moon?

The experience, which began with a startling recognition that the nature of the Universe was not as I’d been taught, continued to unfold as I saw how my existence was irrevocably connected with the movement and formation of planets, stars and galaxies. I saw the connectedness, felt it and experienced it emotionally. The natural response of my body to the overwhelming sense of unity was another way of knowing; it felt as trustworthy as my world of rationality and physical precision.

Today, the merging of many factors—including recent discoveries in quantum physics, cosmology, biology, chaos theory and self-organizing systems—is pointing to the recognition of the fundamental interconnectedness and interdependence of all things. It is also affirming the powerful role that directed intention plays in shifting our worldview toward one that focuses on the need to serve the greater good of all Nature.

Do you believe that if science and humanity focused more on the exploration of inner space and consciousness, we could discover sustainable solutions for our planet?

Civilization’s understanding of the nature of reality and hence, our survival and future well-being, depends entirely upon the emergence of a completely different worldview: a new paradigm that properly addresses, in verifiable scientific terms, our collective relationship to one another, the environment, nature and the Universe.

Establishing this fundamental shift in common perceptions can lead to changes in thinking, values, behavior and actions based on concepts of interconnectedness, cooperation and interdependence in all human endeavors. It can come about if a significant portion of humankind develops this new understanding and incorporates it into our individual and societal belief systems. Science can bolster this advance by providing reliable and credible empirical data that supports it as a basis for public education.

The hypothesis of interconnectedness, proposed by ancient sages from many pre-scientific cultures, has never been rigorously explored or tested by modern mainstream science. Achieving a truly sustainable civilization requires us to apply a more holistic view to the macroscopic world, one that encompasses living systems and social phenomena.

What is IONS doing to encourage the desired transformation of consciousness

Worldview Literacy (WVL) for high school students and beyond is IONS’s latest consciousness-based educational program. Its curriculum explores the pivotal role that our personal and cultural worldviews play in how we perceive and process information, act and behave.

WVL works to increase people’s awareness of our own largely unconscious worldviews by opening a conversational space of exploration where diverse views are welcomed with curiosity and wonder. Such recognition and joint engagement deepens individual and collective understanding and helps students better navigate life when they encounter differing perspectives.

Such education can help people of all ages discover critical connections between lived experiences and assumed habits of mind. It can help us develop greater cognitive flexibility, comfort with unfamiliarity, appreciation of diverse perspectives, ability to hold multiple points of view simultaneously, creative problem solving and a capacity for discernment that relies equally on intellect and intuition. It changes the human paradigm.

For more information, visit Noetic.org.

Linda Sechrist writes and edits for Natural Awakenings and is a student of Noetic Sciences.

 

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Interspecies Friendships Crossing Boundaries for Good

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Jason

 

Before Wally and Ann Collito, of North Attleborough, Massachusetts, had a chance to befriend the stray kitten that had appeared in their yard, the couple discovered that another caring being—a crow—had already done so.

Over the next few months, the Collitos witnessed an incredible friendship develop between the crow and cat they respectively named Moses and Cassie. The pair romped in the grass, swatting gently at each other like they were born playmates, rather than sworn enemies. Moses often dropped nutritious worms and bugs in the kitten’s mouth, following it around like a protective parent.

“If it wasn’t for the crow feeding and taking care of that cat, it would have been dead a long time ago,” relates Wally Collito in a video posted at InterspeciesFriends.blogspot.com. “When the cat would start crossing the road, the crow would holler as if to say, ‘Don’t go in the road, you’re going to get hit.’ Sometimes she would get in front of her and push her back on the sidewalk. It had to be love or friendship.”

The story of Moses and Cassie is not an anomaly, but rather an indication of the potential emotional bond between animals, according to Jennifer S. Holland, author of Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom. “A number of years ago, it was really taboo to attribute empathy to other animals,” she says, “but more scientists today are crossing that line comfortably.” She explains that no one really knows what emotions animal experience or how, although humans share the brain’s limbic system, considered the seat of emotions in humans, with other mammals. “There is no reason they don’t have experiences similar to ours in terms of basic emotions,” Holland surmises.

Holland’s new book is just one of a growing number of efforts to document the wild landscape of interspecies love, including blogs dedicated to the topic and countless children’s books; one of them, Cat and Crow, by Lisa Fleming, immortalizes Moses and Cassie. “Such stories give us a sense of hope at a time when there is a lot of negativity in the world,” observes Holland. “I think people are looking for a reprieve.”

Mother Love Knows No Bounds

A variety of recent studies by the likes of the University of Cambridge and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology indicate that empathy and altruism may be characteristics of species ranging from squirrels to sea lions. Consider the adventures of Finnegan, a squirrel that had fallen out of its nest and into the loving abode of Seattle resident Debby Cantlon. Her pregnant papillon, Mademoiselle Giselle, adopted the injured squirrel, pulling its cage close to her own dog bed. Giselle continued to care for Finnegan after she had her own litter, literally nursing the squirrel back to health.

“The drive to nurture and be nurtured is strong, particularly when an animal has lost its baby or parent. This story is a perfect example of the mothering instinct coming to life,” says Holland.

Like many human friendships, some unusual animal pairings develop out of the basic need for companionship. One well-known example is Tarra, an 8,700-pound former circus elephant retired to The Elephant Sanctuary, in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Elephants are known to pair up, but Tarra chose to instead bond with a rescued stray dog named Bella. The two became inseparable pals and Tarra proved to be no fair-weather friend: When Bella suffered a spinal cord injury, Tarra stood sentinel at the gate outside the sanctuary office, waiting three weeks for Bella before she could be carried outside for a happy reunion.

Baloo, the bear, Leo, the lion and Shere Khan, the tiger, were each just two months old when they were rescued during a residential drug raid. Noah’s Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center, in Locust Grove, Georgia, took in the trio, and the “BLT” (bear, lion and tiger) became so close that the sanctuary spent thousands of dollars to build a special clubhouse to house them. Eight years later, the three animals—each hailing from different continents—still live like blood brothers.

If peace between traditionally antagonistic species is possible, the implications for mankind are obvious. When basic needs are met, the instinct to protect or play can trump the urge to grab, neglect or fight. We can all share and get along better when we take responsibility for creating the circumstances to support that ideal.

“I joke that we should give my book to politicians to remind them that a lot of good can come from crossing boundaries,” smiles Holland. “Kindness and companionship can mean survival for all kinds of animals; that goes for humans, too.”

April Thompson is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. Connect at AprilWrites.com.

 

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New Location for VFC – Vancouver Food Cooperative

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Jason

Newly situated on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver Food Cooperative (VFC) has brought local products, fresh organic produce, pastured beef and eggs, wholesome food and more to an area of the city long under-served by grocery stores. In addition, VFC has brought a new approach to food shopping for many people – a member owned, volunteer run, cooperative store.
The store is open to the public; those who choose to become members own shares and elect the Board that plans and establishes policies. Members also receive benefits of special offers and discounts on store purchases.
The Co-op offers two modes of shopping: the Main Street location and the online store, listing over 3000 products. Shoppers love the convenience of placing an online order, which is ready for pick-up at the store a few days later. Hours are currently 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The website, vancouverfood.coop, is the connection to the online store, access to the monthly newsletter, and lists volunteer opportunities and contact information.
As the Co-op grows, look for expanded food selection, a chance to make case purchases, class offerings in food preservation and other food related topics. Many people today find themselves on their own personal food journey – discovering new foods, managing allergies, healthier diets and better food choices. VFC is becoming a valuable community resource along the way.

Visit vancouverfood.coop for more information. VFC is located at 1002 Main Street, Vancouver.

 

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Matrix Energetics Offers Life-Transforming Seminars

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Jason

Beginning in January and continuing throughout 2012, Matrix Energetics will offer its transformative seminars in cities across the United States and in Canada. Upcoming programs are scheduled for San Francisco; Asheville, North Carolina; Albuquerque; Scottsdale, Arizona; Fort Lauderdale; San Diego and Toronto.
Matrix Energetics, a consciousness technology for insight, healing and spiritual growth, was born from a set of energetic treatments discovered by Dr. Richard Bartlett in his chiropractic and naturopathic practice. Using principles of quantum and energy physics, Bartlett says this teachable, transferable system helps individuals to shift into a more balanced state and create new, infinite possibilities in their lives.
“Matrix Energetics offers easy-to-learn techniques and strategies for enhancing all areas of life, such as health, family, career, relationships and finances,” he explains.” Once you learn to catch the wave of Matrix Energetics, it can become whatever you let it. Some of my students have developed abilities I’ve never dreamed of having.”
Bartlett is the author of several books, including the award-winning Matrix Energetics: The Science and Art of Transformation, The Physics of Miracles and The Matrix Energetics Experience.

For seminar dates, locations and registration information, call 1-800-269-9513, email Info@MatrixEnergetics.com or visit MatrixEnergetics.com. Friday night demonstrations are free and open to the public, space permitting.

 

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Give the Gift that Gives Back

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Jason

This holiday season, your gifts can give more as they grow. For a tax-deductible donation of only $35, Friends of Trees will plant a young native tree in your gift recipient’s name. A donation of $100 will purchase a Gift Grove of six young native trees.
When you place your order, Friends of Trees prints your name and the name of the person being honored on a beautiful gift acknowledgment card along with a brief gift message of your choice. Cards are mailed within 48 hours of your order. All orders placed by December 19, 2011, will be sent in time for Christmas.
When you give Gift Trees you not only support a great local nonprofit and honor your gift recipient, you also give the tree-planting experience. Every year, Friends of Trees hosts two invitation-only Gift Tree planting events. All who purchase or receive holiday Gift Trees are invited to attend the March 2012 planting with their family and friends. Of course, all Gift Trees are planted regardless of whether purchasers or recipients can attend the Gift Tree planting.
One volunteer at Friends of Trees’ March 2011 planting shared, “We didn’t really know what to expect and ended up having a great time! The program was very organized and allowed each of us to honor our loved one in our own way and do something great for the environment, too!”
Friends of Trees is proud to be entering its 22nd year of bringing people in the Portland-Vancouver metro area together to plant and care for city trees and green spaces. Since 1989, thousands of Friends of Trees volunteers have planted more than 415,000 trees and native plants.

To learn more or to order Gift Trees, visit FriendsofTrees.org/GiftTrees or call Emma at 503-282-8846 ext. 531.

 

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Five Intentions for the New Year by Wayne Dyer

Posted on 08 December 2011 by Jason

These daily practices will help you move toward Spirit in your thoughts and actions.

1. Commit to at least one daily experience where you share something of yourself with no expectation of being acknowledged or thanked. For example, before I begin my daily routine, I go to my desk and choose my gift for that day. Sometimes it’s just a phone call to a stranger that’s written to me, or perhaps I order flowers or send a book or present to someone that has helped me in a local store. On one occasion, I wrote to the president of the university I graduated from to start a scholarship fund; on another day, I took a calendar to the yard man; on another, I sent a check to Habitat for Humanity; and on another, I sent three rolls of postage stamps to my son, who had just started his own business. It doesn’t matter if this activity is big or small—it’s a way to begin the day in-Spirit.

2. Become conscious of all thoughts that aren’t aligned with your Source. The moment you catch yourself excluding someone or having a judgmental thought, say the words “in-Spirit” to yourself. Then make a silent effort to shift that thought to match up with Source energy.

3. In the morning before you’re fully awake, and again as you’re going to sleep, take one or two minutes of what I call quiet time with God. Be in a state of appreciation and say aloud, “I want to feel good.”

4. Remind yourself of this statement: My life is bigger than I am. Print it out and post it strategically in your home, car or workplace. The “I” is your ego identification. Your life is Spirit flowing through you unhindered by ego—it’s what you showed up here to actualize—and is infinite. The “I” that identifies you is a fleeting snippet.

5. Dedicate your life to something that reflects an awareness of your Divinity. You are greatness personified, a resident genius and a creative master—regardless of anyone’s opinion. Make a silent dedication to encourage and express your Divine nature.

Excerpted from Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, by Wayne Dyer, with permission of Hay House, Inc.

 

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Good Vibrations – Sound Healing for the Soul

Posted on 08 December 2011 by Jason

Many sounds associated with holidays instantly cheer us up, but why? We naturally respond to sound, because everything in the Universe is comprised of vibration—also referred to as resonance. When we are exposed to healing sounds, our bodies and minds begin to resonate in harmony with them, supporting our well-being.

Fortunately, avenues of sound healing are readily accessible in our everyday lives. Engaging in activities such as singing, drumming or chanting often help us quickly reestablish a sense of balance in the midst of our multitasking lives. Attending an uplifting musical event can render a similar effect.

Sound Healing Therapy

Psychotherapist Meredith McFadden, a sound healing therapist in Medford, Oregon, observes that, “Receiving or creating intentional, healing sound vibrations is proving to be one of the most direct, most relevant healing modalities available today.”

McFadden appreciates sound for its immediate effect. She takes individual clients on sound journeys with the help of voices, crystal singing bowls, buffalo drums and other instruments. “When we bathe ourselves in healing sound waves,” she observes, “we open up a direct line of communication with our soul.” At the culmination of each session, she allows what she terms the “big music of silence” to envelope the one being healed.

McFadden notes that not all healing sounds need to be calming. “Activating music can be just as healing as soft and slow sounds,” she says. Whether we prefer listening to Lady Gaga, Native American flutes or the sound of a heavy rainstorm, the key is to discover what especially resonates with us.

Crystal Singing Bowls

Master crystal singing bowl artist Ashana, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, couples angelic vocals with her massive collection of bowls for a musical healing alchemy recognized worldwide. “Listening to the bowls can have a profound impact on a person’s well-being,” says Ashana.

Made from pure, crushed quartz, infused with precious gemstones, minerals and metals, “The bowls vibrate at a very high, pure frequency,” she explains. “As we come into resonance with the bowls, mental chatter slows or stops and the mind quiets. Within minutes, our nervous system starts to unwind. In a state of peaceful stillness, the ‘dial up’ to our higher self becomes accessible. This is the optimum state for healing to occur.”

Ashana emphasizes that we are all interconnected, so any healing work we do on ourselves affects all of humanity. “As we raise our personal frequency, we can become conscious tuning forks for divine energies to pour through us,” she believes. “We’re all holding a piece of the web.”

Healing through Song

“Since the dawn of time, humans have been sharing song in their tribe,” says Zurich, Switzerland, recording artist, educator and filmmaker Michael Stillwater. “Pop songs are modern tribal songs, although we have mostly become a culture of consumers and spectators, rather than participants.”

The founder of Inner Harmony Music and Song Without Borders, Stillwater’s is a strong voice in an emerging grassroots global movement devoted to helping people reclaim their inner song. “As a vocal art, singing is unique,” he advises. “It’s deeply connected to our sense of self.” He also notes that if our voice or singing is criticized in our developmental years, we may shut down our creative expression. “We then become like cave dwellers, hiding our voice; there are millions of vocal cave dwellers in our world,” he says.

Finding your song—or chant or mantra—almost inevitably becomes integrated with a pathway for rediscovering one’s authentic self. “It’s about letting our voice become part of our own healing medicine,” says Stillwater. His film documentary, In Search of the Great Song, celebrates the use of creative vocal expression for healing and transformation.

Experience a Kirtan

Kitzie Stern, producer of the New World Kirtan podcast, notes that kirtan, or sacred chanting, is known for bonding everyone in the moment of co-creation between audience and artists, followed by quiet meditation in community. Originating in India, kirtan is one of the oldest music traditions in the world.

The mantras used in kirtan open the listener to the experience of peace. Stern explains, “The music that accompanies kirtan also helps our minds to turn off. As wallah (chant leader) Dave Stringer puts it, ‘The chant is the medicine, but the music is what helps it go down.’”

One does not have to attend a live kirtan performance to reap its benefits. Stern’s podcast plays a variety of chants to help listeners tune into tranquility. She observes that, “Being able to access the quiet magnificence that exists within each one of us and live within it for some portion of the day, helps us to stay sane in the turmoil of the modern world.”

Learn more at SoundMovesWonder.com, AshanaMusic.com, InnerHarmony.com and NewWorldKirtan.com.

Erin Floresca is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. Connect at ErinLehnFloresca.com.

 

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Meaningful Giving – Tips to Simplify the Season

Posted on 08 December 2011 by Jason

’Tis the season, and a U.S. poll by Harris Interactive reveals that a majority of the stress 90 percent of us feel about the holidays is related to gift-giving. So, solving this problem will set us well on our way to a joyeux noel. The same study found that given a choice, most of us prefer investing in good family relationships instead of more material things, anyway.

Natural Awakenings has uncovered four ways that we can make the holidays less hectic and more relaxing and meaningful. First, says Barbara Kilikevich, author of A Mindful Christmas–How to Create a Meaningful, Peaceful Holiday, we have to stop buying into the notion that more is better and that extravagant, expensive gifts are equal to how much we care for one another. “We need to stop believing that doing it all is productive and having it all is meaningful.”

Get Crafty

Homemade gifts are always special. They carry a message of thoughtfulness and love, which is the heart of gift-giving. Making a memorable gift can take less time than we’d spend earning the money for a manufactured gift, driving to the store and back and coping with checkout lines. Ideas are endless; these may stimulate your creative juices.

  • Gather favorite family recipes and copy them into a personalized binder.
  • Mix jars of tasty combinations of loose teas and/or bulk herbs that might include lavender, chamomile or mint. Add a mesh tea strainer to complete the package.
  • Edible items are always a hit. Consider making something yummy that can be given to everyone on the list. Herbed olive oil, spiced nuts and homemade jams are favorites.
  • Attractive reusable shopping bags, made from repurposed or recycled fabric, make practical gifts that can be used again and again. Sew on monograms or paint on designs to personalize them.
  • Fashioning painted pottery, custom artwork and decorated picture frames can engage kids in anticipating fun holidays with friends and family.

 

Non-Material Gifts

The Center for a New American Dream, a national nonprofit organization that challenges a “more is better” definition of the good life, suggests giving of oneself—providing gifts of time or experiences that will be long remembered.

  • Invite loved ones to an outing to the zoo, a sports event or an indoor/outdoor picnic.
  • Give a friend their dream, based on an expressed interest. Sign her up for a class in cooking, sewing, photography or dancing, based on careful research—classes abound in most cities.
  • Purchase a gift certificate for a local massage, acupuncture session or other soothing therapy as a way to unwind during or after the holiday season.
  • Support the local art scene by giving tickets to a community theater or a museum membership.

Previously Enjoyed Gifts

Not every gift needs to be brand-new. Browse vintage and antique shops, estate sales, auctions and consignment stores for amazing treasures. Keep an open mind or go hunting for that certain something for that special someone. Online sources such as EstateSales.net, and gsalr.com can help locate garage, yard and estate sales in communities across the country. Look for items that are unusual or hold special significance.

  • A childhood reminder—perhaps a favorite toy or comic book.
  • Vintage jewelry.
  • Silk scarves, an unusual hat or fun bag.
  • Classic books, movies and music.
  • Unique housewares, from vases and candleholders to platters and teacups (Replacements.com can help in finding missing pieces for sets).

For the Family

For large families or families with grown children, it can be expensive and time-consuming shopping for a gift for every relative. Try one of these ideas to take the pressure off.

  • Instead of giving gifts to each member of a family or a couple, think in terms of a single gift for the household.
  • Draw names. Have everyone in the family put his or her name into a hat and ask each family member to draw one name, so that each person needs to buy only one or two gifts.
  • Set a limit. In his book, Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas, author Bill McKibben suggests that families limit the amount they spend and instead, make the holidays as much fun as possible, filled with song and food, creativity and connection.

With a little planning and a lot of love and care, we can fill the whole holiday season with less stuff and more satisfying joy.

Beth Davis is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazines.

 

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The Upside of Downhill Skiing – Make the Most of Peak Experiences

Posted on 08 December 2011 by Jason

Snow brings fresh fun with winter sports and recreation. Cross-country skiing and snowboarding are healthy options but neither offers the scope and variety in terrain, movement and exercise afforded by the perennial favorite of alpine downhill skiing.

Jen Butson, public affairs director of the Vermont Ski Areas Association, representing 48 facilities, believes that downhill particularly appeals to women, due to its, “ …accessibility to all ages, abilities and body types, its gracefulness, and being a way for a family to experience nature together.”

Yet, some skiers may experience diminished interest due to memories of cold limbs, residual aches and pains or crowded slopes. Or, they might be concerned about resorts’ perceived high energy usage. Cost is another factor. Here are some tips to get folks back on the slopes and max out mountain moments.

Warm-up exercises. Skiing demands slightly bent knees and a firm back to absorb bumps, so do some deep squats and short hops from that position beforehand, advises Dr. Joe Ethen, owner of Lakefront Chiropractic Center, in Glencoe, Illinois. “This close-chain exercise targets the upper quadriceps and provides full-range motion of joints.” Using ski poles to initiate turns and propel through chairlift lines works the arms and shoulders, so he also recommends upper body stretching.

Foot care. Boots need to be tight fitting in order to transmit the pressure to make turns from the foot through the boot and binding to the ski itself. The necessary snugness can hinder circulation and chill toes. A solution: Loosen boot buckles while waiting for and taking the chairlift, and wear thin, synthetic-blend socks that wick away moisture and accelerate evaporation.

Avoid the crowds. When skiing on a weekend, locate one or two trails serviced by a mid-mountain chairlift, which is usually far less crowded than the main lift closest to the lodge. “Many resorts have high-speed, four-seat chairlifts, which reduce wait time,” says Karl Winter, vice president of Ski the Rockies, which represents 30-plus resorts in California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Canada. Eat early or late to get in more skiing while others lunch in the lodge. Take a workweek vacation day or two to totally beat weekend crowds.

Safety. Call out, “On your right,” for example, if you pass a skier that’s to your left, to make sure he or she doesn’t ski into your path. Stay aware of faster moving skiers and boarders. “Don’t stop for too long in the middle of a steep trail to rest or take in the splendid views,” counsels Butson. “A speedy skier might not see you there beneath a mogul.”

Late-season benefits. More natural and manmade snow on the slopes is the norm as the season progresses. Warmer temperatures later in the season also tend to make conditions more comfortable and soften ice and hard-packed snow, slowing speeds a bit and making turns easier.

“More snow makes skis easier to control,” explains Winter. “It allows you to glide and carve your turns and maintain a turning rhythm. So, you don’t have to work as hard, which also saves energy.” Many resorts offer special late-season discounts.

Ski green. Joining a ski club can deliver savings on lift tickets, as well as lodging booked by the group. Plus, traveling by bus or carpooling saves gas. Remember to properly recycle or dispose of refuse and pick up any trash you spot in the snow.

When choosing a destination, check to see if the resort goes for electric vehicles, composting, local purchasing programs, efforts to reduce carbon footprints, water conservation and employee and guest sustainability education. All are elements of the National Ski Areas Association’s Environmental Charter, endorsed by190 resorts that together, host about 75 percent of all U.S. skier and snowboarder visits. Many resorts are adopting the association’s new sustainable slopes and climate challenge programs.

If you need skis, but are on a tight budget, consider renting or checking out early season ski swaps, which also can offer more traditional eco-friendly, gently-worn clothing. If you feel you must wax ski bases, select a product that is free of PFCs and the other petrochemicals, which can rub off into snow and eventually find their way into waterways. With the ultra-smooth, resilient bases of modern skis, waxing has become unnecessary for most recreational skiers.

Enjoy winter’s wonderland.

For consumer tips and destination directories visit nsaa.org, SkiTheRockies.com, SnowSports.org and SkiVermont.com.

 

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