Friday, July 30, 2010
- Do the choices you make at the supermarket support the ethical treatment of animals? Do you know? Dairy and egg industries are notorious for abusive practices. Don't be fooled by the label on those products that boast words like 'natural', 'farm-raised', 'cage-free', or 'free-range'. Those terms are advertisements used to evoke down-home images that play on our ideals. Upon seeing such labels, most of us envision green pastures with happy cows grazing on grass and chickens clucking merrily, going about their daily business of pecking at bugs as nature intended. The farm life most of these dairy cows and laying hens are living is stark in contrast to that pristine image.
You may assume that because you purchase organic you are exempt from participation in the abuse of animals. Not so. Disturbingly, many organic farmers have found loopholes that allow them to meet the bare-minimum criteria in order for their products to gain the right to use that label. This month, do your research. There are farms that have cruelty-free practices. It can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack, but they're out there.
Here are some tips to get you started in your search for dairy and eggs raised in a humane way:
1. Get educated about what really goes on behind the scenes to bring dairy and eggs to your table. After doing your research you can make an informed choice about whether or not you want to support these practices. You can begin your research by visiting the Farm Sanctuary site. I have provided a direct link below to their "Truth Behind Labels" campaign.
2. Find out how your current dairy supplier scores both in terms of meeting organic standards and the ethical treatment of animals. Visit the Cornucopia Institute to view detailed reports and see your dairy's scorecard. The Cornucopia Institute's mission is to promote economic justice for family scale farming and humane practices. I have provided a direct link to their "Dairy Report and Scorecard" article.
3. Take advantage of the worldwide web. Do online research and explore animal welfare websites that can point you in the right direction to find ethically produced animal products. To get you started, I have supplied some helpful links below.
The American Humane Association has been protecting animals and children since 1877. By utilizing their search feature and entering the words 'dairy' and 'eggs' you can find extensive information about farm practices and those that have been approved by the AHA.
By utilizing the link below you will be led to the Animal Welfare Approved "Farm Profiles" page. Click on the region you live and get a listing of all Animal Welfare Approved farms in your area.
4. Nothing is as telling as seeing a farm's practices firsthand. Many farms offer public tours where you can actually see what goes on in a working day, allowing you to interact with both farmhands and animals. Seek out a local farm in your area that boasts humane practices and see if they not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. If you do find farms that hold themselves to a high-standard of cruelty-free practices, be sure to give them a shout out here on the comments section of this post. Whistle blowing is important and necessary but we also need to celebrate those who are doing good work in the world.
- Write a letter to your body. This is something I did recently and it was very cathartic for me. I have posted my letter here at "The Big Fat Lie" so you can see how I approached this exercise. This is a statement of ownership of your body. We only get one earth suit and its care is our responsibility alone. This letter is a way for you to acknowledge the current state of your relationship with your body.
Does your body need more attention? Have you been listening to your body and respecting its needs? Is your body hungry for love, affection, pampering, creative outlets, nurturing food, fresh air? Have you neglected your friend? Do you owe your body an apology? What do you plan to do to make amends?
This exercise may also highlight some stuck places. Through writing this letter you may recognize the need for more attention to self-care, yet not feel ready to make the commitment to yourself that is required to make this change. Allow your truth to emerge, whatever it may be. This is about getting real and owning where you're at. Allow space to explore feelings of resistance, fear, concern, or insecurity that may arise.
It's an act of power to own your experience... to claim full responsibility for your quality of life. If you do become aware of present limitations, give yourself a break. Judgment and guilt are useless emotions. View this exercise as an opportunity to raise awareness around areas that may have escaped your attention. This can be a potent catalyst for change. Never underestimate the power of truth-telling. Accept where you are presently. If you decide you want something better for yourself you can move forward from your current reality with intention and consciousness.
Periodically, you may want to renew your commitment to care for your body by writing follow-up letters. This will reflect the evolution of your healing path. The road to wellness is often a long, winding one with many twists, turns, and detours along the way. Such is the nature of any journey. Writing these letters can become like landmarks, highlighting your progress.
Keep these letters in a special place. When you feel stuck and like you've run out of options you can reflect back on their messages. You always have the power to chart a new course. Your path is never static. It moves and breathes right alongside you. Even when it feels like you are spinning your wheels, getting a whole lot of nowhere, there is movement happening. It's just that sometimes it's an inner movement, not yet evident to the outside world. This doesn't make it any less valuable. Progress is progress. These letters can become like a road map to the express route back to you.
- Take a summer stroll down to your local library and check out a cookbook that tickles your fancy. Think outside your recipe box. Choose a cookbook that peaks your interest and features cuisine outside your norm. Maybe you'll want to explore vegetarian cooking. Perhaps you'll be drawn to more worldly flavors like Indian, Thai, or Cuban cuisine. Each week for the month of August whip up one of the recipes from the cookbook. Go ahead... live on the edge and try something new. Variety is the spice of life and in terms of nutrition, a varied diet nurtures health. Enjoy exploring new tastes. You may discover what will become favorites for years to come.
- Nothing fills the well of your soul like giving back. What cause is near and dear to your heart? Where do you feel more awareness needs to be raised? This month, volunteer your time and energy to a worthwhile pursuit. Become a champion for a cause and receive the joy of service.
There are many ways you could go about doing this. You could volunteer your time at a center. You could hold a bake sale to raise money for donation. You could start a blog to become a voice for an issue that is important to you.
"In giving you are throwing a bridge across the chasm of your solitude."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands
Reach out, make the connection and touch another soul today, finding your own renewed.
Feel Your Connection to Nature:
- Now is the perfect time to go camping. Pitching a tent in the elements is a great way to experience the simplicity of being without the distraction of all the modern technological trappings. There is something about feeling that close to nature that reminds us of our connection to the wild wonder of this planet. It's also a great way to support your state parks. This gives back and provides services that protect our natural resources. Plus, it's fun! Who doesn't enjoy huddling around a campfire, roasting smores, and laughing the night away with good friends? You can even enjoy the adventure of a moonlit hike.
I know, I know, I hear the protests. Some of you would prefer a five star hotel to a night spent under the stars. When was the last time you gave it a try? Maybe you could be open to an overnighter. No major commitment required there. At the very least, gather together some loved ones and head out to a local state park to enjoy a full day of earthy fun. You can always call it a night in the comfort of your own bed.
I have been thinking about you a lot lately. I feel like there is some distance between us. I miss how close we used to be. You've been such a loyal friend to me and I realize I haven't been there for you lately. This doesn't sit right in my heart. I owe you an apology. That's why I am writing you this letter. There are some things I need to express to you. I hope you will hear me out. I know I have let you down. You have every reason to be upset with me. I want to heal our relationship and I am ready to own my part in the rift.
I'm sorry I have abandoned you. I have neglected your needs. You've always shown up for me. You've had my back, but when you needed me most, I checked out. I haven't been a very good listener. I have monopolized the conversation and been a bit of a bully, forcing you to put up with shit that no friend should ever have to tolerate. I know that when I have been hurt, it is healing to have my pain acknowledged. I am aware of the harm I have caused you and I want to make amends by owning up to the ways I have neglected our friendship.
- I have stayed up into the wee hours of the night watching the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I have pittered around the house tending to things that could easily be put off till tomorrow while you begged me for the respite of a warm bed and a soft pillow to rest your head upon. All you wanted was to let the tension of the day melt away as you slipped off to slumber. I have denied you this need.
- I have kept you cooped up inside, chained to the computer. These four walls have been creeping in around you. The computer has become your leash, tethering you in from taking fresh air into your lungs, feeling the warm breeze caress your face, the sunshine kissing your skin, the cool, green grass tickling your bare feet. You have been hungry for these things and I have served you an empty plate.
- You have been in pain. You have asked me for help, knowing my healing gifts. I have denied you the benefit of these gifts, instead bestowing them freely upon others. I have put the needs of others... some strangers to me... above those of my best friend.
- I see you come alive when you dance. Your passion... your inspiration... seeps through every pore of your being when immersed in that ecstatic movement. Dance is your lifeblood. Your connection to your creative power. Without dance, your soul becomes withered and small when your birthright is to live large in this world. I know you struggle to move at your current size. I have seen you labor... the gasping for air, the muscle weakness, the difficulty in letting yourself soar when you feel anchored to the ground with limitation. You need more tangible support from me so you can continue to enjoy the dance you love. I am aware you need physical therapy after dance class in order to recover. You need to be strengthened so you have a solid foundation to support your art. You need the release of yoga so the tightness in your muscles can melt away, giving you more freedom and ease of movement. You need the time and space to consistently practice so you can adapt to the physical demand that is being placed on you and evolve as an artist. I am aware of all of these needs and I have dropped the ball. You have suffered as a direct result of my lack of response. You have been sidelined by repeated injury and have been denied the dance that is like air for your soul to breathe.
- I have silenced your hunger. I know how important it is for you to have breakfast each day. When you are denied your morning meal, it lays out the welcome mat for ED to pay a visit. I am aware of this and have betrayed you by leaving you vulnerable to ED and his shenanigans. I have heard your pleas of hunger and drowned them out with copious amounts of coffee. I have distracted myself from listening to you, putting off addressing your needs until completing inconsequential tasks I have deemed more worthy of my attention. These tasks will always be there, ready for me to pick up where I left off later. If I don't take care of you, I am not guaranteed such grace. I need you. Without you, there is no me. It is time I moved your needs to the top of the list.
- I have been a slave to the grind. I have pilfered your energy by burning the candle at both ends. I have worked you into the ground. I have become a devotee to the dogma of the human doer. I have undervalued the experience of the human being. You have expressed your discontent in symbols... cricked neck, aching back, cluster migraines, stress, emotional strain, apathy, depression... a sign language articulating your need for downtime. I have pushed you to your limit... far beyond your means. I do not blame you for being angry with me. You are inflamed... incensed. You have raged. You have screamed. I have ignored you when all you wanted was to be heard.
- You are sacred and long to be honored. You wish to be pampered and lavished with love. You crave foot rubs, sensual touch, homespun facials, massages with luscious aromatherapy oils, manis and pedis. You relish being adorned in queenly finery... silky fabrics, precious baubles as rare and priceless as you, a trace of Egyptian Goddess perfume blessing your belly, the small of your back, your thighs. These things do not make the woman, but they do rouse a purr. It is treating you as my altar with each act an offering to honor, cherish, adore. It is a reverent bow to the sacred within.
- For many moons you have been encouraging me to adopt a vegetarian approach. You have shown me how supported you feel from the inside, out on this kind path. I didn't completely trust you. I wasn't all in. Even though you thanked me when I explored a whole foods vegetarian lifestyle with radiant energy, glowing skin, healed digestion, clarity and calm, I repaid your gratitude with questioning. I doubted you when you have always been honest with me. I continued to sporadically force feed you foods that made you howl with discomfort. You rebelled and rightfully so. I asked you to lead me to health and when you did, I bit the hand that feeds me.
Please forgive me for ignoring you, mistreating you, refusing you, dishonoring you, and taking your needs to be insignificant. You deserve so much better than this. Remember when I was a little girl? You and me... we sure had a lot of fun, didn't we? We've had some great times together...
Splashing through the creek chasing polliwogs...
Drinking in the sweet nectar of honeysuckle on lazy summer days...
Lying in the field gazing at a sea of clear blue sky with fluffy cotton candy clouds sailing by like ships in route to the land of daydreams...
We used to belly laugh, dance, twirl, leap, run, nap, create, imagine, dream, explore, discover. We still can. We can make new memories. Let's get back to the way we used to be before all the naysayers, dream crushers, and fear told us it wasn't OK to simply be. I know you have been ready for a long time. I've arrived a bit late to the party. I'm here now and I promise to never leave your side again.
Let's pinky swear on it.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
- Dreams speak of the unclaimed parts of ourselves... our hopes, fears, desires, needs... our truth. This month bring some awareness to your subconscious by engaging in dreamwork. Keep a dream journal by your bedside. Each night before you slip off to slumber, open your journal and write down a question for your subconscious to answer in your dreams. In order to invite your subconscious to come forward and speak to you through your dreams, phrase your question as, "What do I need to know about... my relationship, my career, my health, my family, my friendships (you fill in the blank)?" Simply jot down whatever has been troubling you or rattling around in your head with no apparent direction or solution. Create the invitation for the guidance you need to come forward from the deepest place within you. If you haven't had anything in particular on your mind you can leave the question open-ended and simply write, "What do I need to know at this time?" In the morning, when you rise, simply write down whatever you remember from your dreams underneath the question you posed in your journal. Don't worry about figuring any of it out in that moment, just log what's fresh in your memory. If you can't seem to recall any dreams, log any phrases, words, or images that come to mind in those first waking moments and don't worry if they make sense at this point. Simply make your notes. Sometimes, when engaged in dreamwork, you may wake in middle of the night from a vivid dream. If this is the case, go ahead a take a second to jot down the impressions you remember. Later, when you have time, sit with your dreamwork entry and see what it speaks to you. What does it symbolize? What guidance came filtering in through your dreams in relation to your question? Open your mind and see what threads of connection you can form. This is a wonderful way to begin to get in touch with your own internal guidance.
- Sinus issues are very common at this time of year. Air conditioning and the dry heat of sweltering days can irritate delicate sinus tissues. So many people throw away money on anti-histamines and nasal sprays when there is an extremely effective natural solution. Nasal irrigation with the use of a neti pot has been found to be very beneficial for preventing sinus infections, allergic responses, headaches, and asthma. Ayurvedic texts outline that the practice of nasal irrigation using a sea salt water blend can have a balancing effect on all the systems of the body, including the emotions. I have been using a neti pot upon the recommendation of my doctor and I am amazed by how much it has freed up my breathing. I have also noted benefits that extend beyond the alleviation of my sinus issues. If you struggle with sinus-related maladies, give yourself the opportunity to discover this healing approach. Now is the perfect time with summer in high gear to get some relief using a natural method. Neti pots are very inexpensive. When you add up all the costs of allergy medications, inhalers, and anti-histamines, it becomes clear what a wise investment this can be in your health. You can get your own neti pot by following the link below...
- Pay homage to the sun by starting your day with a sun salutation practice. Sun salutations are a series of yoga poses, or asanas, that are threaded together in a sequence that moves like a dance matched to breath. Opening poses or back bends are matched to inhale. Folding forward poses are matched to exhale. Sun salutations center and energize your entire being. It is a wonderful practice to begin your day with and is very much in harmony with the summer season. This sequence provides strengthening, cardiovascular, and flexibility conditioning in a relatively brief amount of time. Ten minutes spent in sun salutation can be of immense benefit physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, by helping you connect with yourself and the natural rhythm of the world around you. If sun salutations are a new practice for you, you may want to begin with as little as three rounds of the sequence. Each week as you feel strengthened, you can add more rounds until you reach a place that feels right for your body. I have included a video below that demonstrates this sequence for those of you who may be unfamiliar with yoga. The video features Shiva Rea and a sun salutation practice that is a little over 8 minutes in duration. Namaste...
Spirit & Feeling Your Connection With Nature:
- This month our spirit and nature focuses are combined. We are going to give ourselves the opportunity to experience nature as healer. At some point during this month gather together a blanket to spread out and lounge upon, some food and beverages, a soul-stirring book, journal, sketch pad, pens, pencils, markers, bubbles, whatever you like, along with the willingness to head outdoors and spend the day communing with the natural world around you. Give yourself the gift of this day to simply be and get reconnected with yourself. Sit and do nothing if you like, just listening to the rhythm of your breath, the sounds of nature swirling around you in this dance of life. Meditate or do some yoga barefoot upon the cool grass. Blow bubbles like you did as a kid or cartwheel yourself across an open field. Write in your journal about whatever comes up for recognition in your soul. Let out your creativity and doodle to your heart's content or draw a picture of your natural surroundings. Nap as the sun warms your bones and you are serenaded to sleep by the songs of birds. Ask those deep questions and listen for nature's answers. Feel your connection to all that is and the sublime beauty of simply being in nature's loving embrace.
Friday, July 2, 2010
"The Big Fat Lie" would like to wish all of you a happy 4th of July weekend. Go out and enjoy some down home BBQ. Soak up some sun. Catch the fireworks with the family. Most of all, have fun and be safe. Make sure to hand over your keys if you get carried away with the libation. Be sure to look out for family and friends by making them do the same. Let's do our part to ensure we all have a good time by practicing some common sense. Please don't drink and drive.
I'm off to enjoy a three-day weekend of festivities, but I will be back next week to post the July 2010 focus. Until then, make the most of this holiday break. Kick up your heels and have yourself some fun!