Gratitude: How Might Your Life Be Different? and Oriah Mountain Dreamer Wants To Know “What You Ache For?”

New Year's Eve 2012 Asheville, N.C. Trip

You know the question,” If money weren’t a concern, what would you do with your life?”  My immediate answer is and always has been,” to make the world a little better.” –  Who doesn’t want some sort of loving, impactful legacy? 
In college (University of New Orleans is my Alma Mater) I studied Political Science and later, put my degree to use working as a Community Organizer in Indianapolis, In. I worked with  local politician’s and government agencies to promote and sustain good community building practices. I also wrote a bi-weekly article on the topic for the Indianapolis Star.
 While the job, which I held between 2005-2010, was extremely  rewarding, I’m also a spiritual person, and well…you know politics! I needed something to simmer the fiery passion , some balance and a retreat from the intensity of making ” The change we need” 
 
 It’s true. Politics can make your head spin – and just when I asked for more peaceful influences, God/The Universe/Higher Power and a friend introduced me to and I became involved in a supportive, like-minded women’s empowerment organization, Woman Within International.
 
  Woman Within International (WWI) http://womanwithin.org/, mission is simple…To empower women.
 WWI offers women the tools to delve deeper into their inner wisdom – help women to see which parts of themselves need further acknowledgement and integration, so that they can live their lives to the fullest. Rooted in the ancient tradition of women gathering in “circle,  it brought me the balance I needed and an opportunity to look with courage and honesty at the life I (and you) can create and to make choices about what you want to hold on to, what you want to deepen, and what you want to release.
While I am no longer connected to the organization, my experience with WWI nourished my spirit and strengthened my heart –  I was both challenged and accepted. 
 
It was through my WWI empowerment training that I was introduced to author and poet, Oriah Mountain Dreamer,  whose noted poem The Invitation changed my approach to my work, my idea’s on saving the world, and the way I connect to people today. I’ve been following Oriah’s Blog, The Green Bough for 8 years
 
I Invite you, to enjoy one of my favorite poem’s, The Invitation – an outlook that I re-visit often, to circle back and remember that..
 
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dreams for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon… I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain mine or your own without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful be realistic to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.  

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer from her book THE INVITATION (c) 1999.

  P.S. Here’s a Woman Within Introduction Video;  

  P.S.S. And, hey! Let’s hear it for the boys; Men! Check out Woman Within “brother” organization The Man Kind Project http://mankindproject.org/

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You Are What You Eat and What’s Eating AT You – Primary Food; All The Kale In The World Won’t Nourish You

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Food is so much more than what you find on your plate. Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. Integrative Nutrition refers to these lifestyle aspects as Primary Food, which when balanced and satiated, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary.

Primary Food

To complete the picture, the plate is surrounded with lifestyle factors that create optimal health – relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. The elements of primary food often more important than the food that’s on your plate.

Relationships:

Being well connected with others is an essential part of life, and the quality of our relationships explains a lot about the quality of our health.

Career:

Work is a huge part of our daily routine, yet how many of us really enjoy it? Finding work you love or way to love your current work is essential to living a healthy, balanced life.

Physical Activity:

Our bodies thrive on movement, and quickly degenerate without it. Find a routine that can nourish you on a regular basis. Hang up the car keys and run your next errand on foot.

Spirituality:

Spirituality can feed us on a very deep level and dramatically diminish our cravings for superficial rewards of life.

I encourage people to look at these aspects of life as a form of nutrition, a way to feed themselves at a much deeper level than food. The food you eat plays a critical role in your health and happiness, but the four forms of primary food make your life extraordinary.

The Integrative Nutrition Plate (pictured) is adapted from the USDA’s MyPlate nutrition guidelines and emphasizes the importance of local and organic produce, whole grains, high-quality proteins, plant-based fats, and water.

True, organic is best, local is better, and from garden to plate is supreme, I’d like to emphasize that simply starting somewhere; adding more nutrient rich foods and crowding out processed foods is more important.

The Integrative Nutrition Plate serves as a general guideline for healthy eating but should be adapted and customized according to what works best for you. Just as there is a no one-size-fits-all diet, there are no strict instructions on how everyone has to eat all the time.

Here are the essentials you should include every day;

Fruits:

Eat in season, and eat a variety of colors. Enjoy fruit craving sweets and snacks.

Vegetables:

Vegetables are nutritionally rich – so fill your plate! Go for many colors, choosing dark leafy greens as much as possible.I’ll be sharing Green Smoothie recipes later on.

Whole Grains:

Whole grains provide many nutrients and fiber. Avoid refined grains like white bread, white rice, and white flour products. If you cannot digest grains or choose not to eat them, perhaps you’d do better with more veggies instead!

Protein:

Choose healthy varieties such as beans, nuts, eggs, fish, and poultry. If you eat meat, like I do, choose grass-fed, organic for best quality.

Fats and Oils:

Use plant-based oils like olive oil as dressing on salad. Choose wild fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Balance your intake of saturated fats like butter, cream, and cheese (hmph! all of my weaknesses). Avoid trans fats.

Water:

Opt for water as your drink of choice. Limit caffeinated drinks and avoid sugary drinks. If you drink dairy, quality is key – choose milk free of added hormones and buy local, organic when possible.

Modern nutrition – carbs, proteins, fruits, and vegetables – is really just one source of nourishment – and these foods do nourish our bodies, but are not able to give us the joy, meaning, or fulfillment that primary food provides.

We hunger for play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, leadership, excitement, adventure, and spirituality. All these elements are essential forms of nourishment, and the extent to which we are able to incorporate them determines how enjoyable and worthwhile our lives feel.

When we use food as a way to alleviate or suppress our hunger for primary food, the body and mind suffer. Weight gain is just one of the consequences. Diet-related disorders such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are national epidemics, and one of the main reasons is because we are stuffing ourselves with food when we are really starving for primary food.

Sometimes we are fed not by food but by the energy in our lives. If you’re not getting the primary food you need, eating all the (right) foods in the world won’t satisfy your hunger.

My 1,2,3, Vitality program dives deep into these topics and gives you a roadmap for total wellbeing.