Would You Like To Volunteer?

Would You Like To Volunteer?

Send me your footage.

 Do you like to exercise but wonder if what you are doing is aggravating your body?

Do you have?

  • Severe foot pronation? Bunions?
  • Bowed or knocked knees?
  • Clicking joints?
  • Are you chronically injured?
  • One shoulder higher than the other? Hips unleveled?
  • Scoliosis? Kyphosis? Lordosis?

Do you feel as though you exercise like everyone else but wonder why your body doesn’t respond in the same way? How we eat plays an equally important role in our results but for this experiment I am focusing primarily on body alignment.

Part 1 of 2

I am looking for volunteers with incorrect body alignment. And by the way, none of us is aligned. We live in a world where we carry and haul things and are chronically imbalanced; one side of our body dominates. People who carry heavy handbags on one shoulder while walking; whether heavy or not, most often as a result only swing one arm as they walk, which causes an imbalance for the skeletal structure. Static sitting at workstations, slumped in postures, in intentionally characteristic and stylistic ways, while when driving the car, sitting on a bus or just posturing to look cool. All of these unwittingly or self-imposed postures can have and can leave painful and deforming side effects.

I am making a short educational video about the importance and relationship of correct anatomical alignment with exercise and everyday movement patterning.

I am looking for volunteers to submit video footage that they are willing to have critiqued and viewed publicly in the video I am producing.

As a result, your name or face need not appear in the video. I just need footage of incorrect body alignment in motion.

In exchange I will educate you on how you can help yourself correct any faulty patterns, either by email or you will learn this through watching the video once it has been complete.

Send me good quality, non-shaky, video footage (from your phone is OK) that is 15-30 seconds long (one video or multiple), showing clear foot patterning in walking or running from the front and back as well as arm swing. I would like footage of cyclists from behind showing leg placement. Also, swimmers, tennis players…of any sport, yoga, martial arts, etc. Sitting at workstations showing head and neck position. How about getting someone to take footage of how you look when you are looking at your hand held device? How do you sit in your car; as a passenger or at the wheel?

If you would like your name included in the final credits for your video contribution please indicate at the time of submitting your footage. However, I cannot guarantee that your video footage will make the final cut.

Only send footage that you are comfortable being included in my video for public viewing. By submitting your footage to me, it will be understood and agreed upon that the content will be considered my property and will or won’t be included in the final cut. Please only submit video of yourself, not of unsuspecting strangers. That’s just not nice.

Part 2 of 2

In addition, I have already selected a local volunteer from Vancouver who is willing to be filmed from head to toe on an on-going basis. This person is an avid exerciser who has some or all of the elements listed above. She is willing to experiment with following my advise for six to twelve months. The fun part will be to show footage of how simple it is to correct these imbalances, though it takes a lot of focus and being consistent. It definitely won’t happen over night and so I need a long-term commitment.

Deadline for the first video submission is June 25, 2014. How to submit your video(s)? Upload video(s) to YouTube. Keep them private and allow me to log in to view them. I would like to be able to offer suggestions that you would be willing to work on and then have you re-submit a second set of videos showing (if any) changes/ improvements.

  1. Create a YouTube account
  2. Once you have uploaded your video, click “Edit” under the video which is to be private. The “info settings” page will appear.
  3. Scroll down to “Broadcasting and Sharing Options” and click on “Private”.
  4. Click on “Limited Access URL”.
  5. A website address will appear in the box below.
  6. Copy and paste it into an email message.
  7. Or if you need to input an email address for me to access your private video use: youasamachine@gmail.com
  8. In writing indicate: “You have permission to publish my name for final credits; print your name here” or ” Please do not publish my name.”
  9. Please use landscape (horizontal) orientation for your videos. Not portrait (vertical).

Maybe you aren’t interested, but you know of someone who is? Please share this with your Facebook friends or share on Twitter!

 

THANKS!

-From Kathryn

 

Keep Learning. Be Consistent. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Smile.

Everyday Resolutions

The end of each December is a popular time

to turn over a new leaf.

Rather than making New Year’s Resolutions, I resolve to improve my weak links on a daily basis, as the need arises, and believe me the need arises. But New Year’s Day is as good a day as any to get started, however, it is getting started and never stopping that is what’s worth keeping in mind.

Over the years, I have adopted the motto: “If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.” And I practice implementing these words into my everyday actions.

Be it how I communicate with my kids, how I make lifestyle changes to eliminating plastic from my life or how I am constantly making adjustments with my body alignment, which causes me to re-evaluate and reconfigure my daily body maintenance routine. (My week 3 Day 7 progression has evolved greatly in the last three years.)

We must practice accepting that what we are doing may not be right and that through exploration we can continue to make improvements. Unless of course, you desire to live your life like a store display mannequin, frozen in time, not having to think or to adapt or to change; believing that what you are doing is right and that the problems you face must be faults outside your control. Most of us don’t know how to eat properly for optimal health, most of us don’t know how our body works, most of us don’t really know that much about the world we live in and how to take care of it.

When we take pause and consider that in order to survive, all of us must thrive on being right, on having the correct beliefs. In other words, if we don’t believe that what we do is correct would we not be crazy for repeating them over and over again? For even the addict, though often knows what he does isn’t right can find an excuse to justify and comfort his addiction. And so he believes that he is right, even if only for a moment in time. (There are many levels of addiction, from coffee, chocolate, exercise, drugs, pharmaceuticals, supplements, social media etc.)

What makes us do what we do?

Try as you might, to control your life, change is inevitable. As our lives change it is wise to become familiar with change in order to adapt without resistance, which enables a symbiotic synergy with family, community and the environment on a larger scale.

I like change. Similar to a cat, I like to see how I will land, and I have learned that there is no one way to land, (although the ideal is to land on ones feet!) which makes it all that more intriguing. As a result, I find myself constantly fine tuning my behaviours and habits, which puts me in a prime position to say a thing or two about how to initiate change.

Here are some basic suggestions:

Q: I want to change ______, but how do I even get started?

A: Getting started can be as simple as having an idea and making the decision to follow through on that idea. However, within this simple step there are a few sub-steps to climb:

You need discipline to develop skill. But, you need to spend some time developing skill to become disciplined.  You must have the willingness and desire, also known as passion or wanting it badly enough to spend the time developing the skill to become disciplined in the first place. Achieving goals and changing habits is not linear but rather cyclical and overlapping.

How To Cultivate Self-Discipline

So even when a person is committed to making change and making personal improvement, you can see it is not seamless. It is not easy or foolproof. It still requires a lot of work.  To outsiders having self-discipline looks effortless, but for those who practice being consistent there is no compliment in off-hand remarks such as: “oh, well you have self-discipline”, as if it were built-in. As if those who achieve anything remarkable is born with a natural talent.

Anyone can develop self-discipline, but it doesn’t just manifest, it must be cultivated. Anyone can be fit and healthy, but it takes effort, discipline and education. It takes practice to become consistent with self-discipline. Period.

Q: I’ve made many resolutions in the past but have always fallen short. How do I change this behavior?

A: By being consistent. Self-discipline is borne from being consistent. Don’t give up on yourself. There is a lot of self-coaching that goes along with keeping your word to yourself. It’s also helpful to understand that goals change along the way. Just because you initiate change with a certain idea doesn’t mean you will stick to that forever. As you learn more about yourself you will be required to re-evaluate your strategy and fine-tune your approach as you go along. You are a work in progress. The goal itself isn’t the point. The point is to realize your human potential and perpetually raise your own bar.

The goal isn't the goal

Q: I tend to stick to a program when I have someone to answer to, like a personal trainer or when I go to a group class.

A: Learn to become accountable to yourself. Try not even telling anyone what changes you have planned. Learn the necessary skills from someone more skilled than yourself and employ self-discipline to become your own expert.

When I had a studio, many of my clients had more money than discipline. Instead of practicing what I taught them so that we could develop their skills to the next level they would use me as a crutch to put them through their paces. Be a willing student because money cannot buy improved health, fitness or skill.

Q: How do I create lasting change?

A: Setting a new habit requires repetition. Let’s say for example that you want to lose weight and get in better physical condition. I believe it is best achieved by making very small changes so as to not overwhelm oneself, which is the idea behind my 4-minute morning series.

Hopefully, as you go through the progressions, you will learn more about yourself (how your mind works) and your body and discover areas that need further exploration. Note: ALL areas need further exploration 🙂 My 4 minute morning series of progressions is the foundation for developing a consistent practice of self-discipline. It is simple but can you do it? Oftentimes it is the simple things that are the most challenging.

I believe that exercise is meant to establish a balanced musculoskeletal system. When we are in balance, our body works at an optimal level (which is different for everyone).

Important: If you exercise with poor body alignment you will only reinforce an unbalanced musculoskeletal system. Keep in mind that when you practice Yoga, run, walk, swim, cycle or lift heavy weights among many other activities, the point of what you are doing is to build an ideal structure that is trained to move in an optimal way when you engage in life: sitting at your desk, driving a car, sitting on a bus, walking, grocery shopping etc. It is the mundane repetitive activities associated with living that require this steady stream of awareness. 

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

―Archilochus 

~Happy New Year 2014 ~Happy New Year 2014 ~Happy New Year 2014 ~

 

Practice vs. Duration Part 3

Today, I came across this article by Naomi Simson, founder of RedBalloon. I think it fits in perfectly with what I have been writing about in my last two posts. I hope that you will enjoy it and join me in putting it into practice.

The Key To Success Is Practice

by Naomi Simson

Dandapani and Naomi Simson

How fortunate I am to have met Dandapani (pictured) on several occasions and to have listened – and embraced what he shares about energy.

I am asked regularly – “tell me the ‘one’ thing that made you successful?” And most do not find my answer uplifting, which is simply “hard work and persistence.”

I pose the question – “Is living a good life the same as a happy life?” The relentless pursuit of happiness is in itself more likely to cause unhappiness.

Does success mean to live every day in happiness… or is success to live a good life? A life full of many human emotions that we experience – not just happiness — does that equate to a successful life?

I found Dandapani’s work insightful and uplifting as part of my relentless quest for understanding the ‘experience of happiness’ and well-being.

As a child my parents would say to me “practice makes perfect.” – And they were absolutely right. What we practice (over and over again) is how we create the neuro pathways in our brains – these pathways can be altered but it takes a great deal of conscious thought.

Dandapani shared:

  • “Practice does not have the ability to discriminate between constructive and destructive patterns.
  • “What ever you practice is what you become good at.
  • “It is a conscious choice about what you want to practice.
  • “There is a difference between the mind and awareness.
  • “Imagine your awareness is a ball of light – As an exercise to see how this works let your mind focus your awareness on a particular thing (the last wedding you attended) – that area of your mind lights up – when it lights up that area of your mind becomes conscious.
  • “Using your will power and your consciousness you can take your awareness to any area of the mind you want to – and you can hold it there for a period of time.

Where awareness goes energy flows

Four areas of focus

1. Learn to Concentrate:

  • Concentration is the ability to keep your awareness on one thing for a prolonged period of time.
  • The more you practice concentration the better you get at it
  • The power of observation is a natural by product of the ability to concentrate
  • The best way to improve your concentration is to practice every day – integrate it into your daily life.
  • (May I suggest you put away your smart phone whilst you practice concentration – and turn off your emails and facebook alerts)

2. Developing your Will:

  • The ‘Will’ has to be cultivated, the more we use your will the stronger it becomes
  • Ways to develop your Will Power:
  1. Finish those things you start (do you finish the sleeping process by making your bed?)
  2. Finish tasks well beyond expectations
  3. Do a little more than you think that you are able to do

3. The art of a balanced life:

“A balanced life is about managing your energy. A balanced life is when we are able to consciously direct awareness in turn energy, in a proportionate way to all the people and things in our life that matter to us.

4. Courage:

It takes tremendous courage, will and self-compassion to break habits. To challenge yourself to live a different way.

Life is energy – harness it and direct it to the ones that you love and what matters most in your life and to the things that are fulfilling to you.

By wisely discriminating where your energy flows we channel it to the people and things that uplift us. We can remain respectfully detached from others.

The key to success is practice –

               all success comes from within.

As I say “If it is meant to be it is up to me.” – I have the power to determine where my energy flows – and as such practice leads to success.

(If you have a chance to attend one of Dandapani’s session – absolutely do.)

Note: The above article, The Key To Success Is Practice, was written by Naomi Simson.

Practice vs. Duration Part 2

Continued from Part 1…

We have all heard the saying: Practice makes perfect. I have heard myself say it too. A few years ago, Simon, my brother-in-law, who is a life long soccer player and coach, quoted Vince Lombardi:

“Practice does not make perfect.

Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

~Vince Lombardi

Of course it does! So why do so many parents continue to force their children to practice for extended periods of time? Pushing our kids or yourself, through dragged out practice sessions will not automatically an expert make. Regardless of duration, the focus should be on practicing with precision and accuracy for any amount of time. Here is a great article about just this. Click this link to read it in its entirety. The article discusses the benefits of practice outside of sport, music or theatrical pursuits. How practice in everything we do has its place. This may seem obvious but it is often overlooked and definitely rarely practiced. 🙂

“Just remember not to stop as soon as you – or your charges – know how to do it right. The goal in these vital skill areas is not mere proficiency but excellence. The value of your practice, therefore, becomes more intense as you get better at the activity.”

“A critical goal of practice, then, should be ensuring that participants encode success – that they practice getting it right – whatever ‘it’ might be,” the authors stress.

They suggest you want your participants to complete the fastest possible right version of the activity.

Take the example of a youngster learning to hit a baseball in the backyard as her father feeds her slow pitches. It may seem to make more sense to take her to a batting cage where she faces hundreds of 60 mile-per-hour pitches, but that doesn’t allow her to apply the small corrections to her form that is needed to improve. Instead, eliminate complexity until you start to see mastery, and then start building the extras back in.

The law of the vital few – 80 per cent of results come from 20 per cent of our activity – should be applied to practice, they say.

~Harvey Schachter paraphrasing from Practice Perfect by, Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi.

Over the last few years, my husband and I have been experimenting with the duration of our kids’ practice time for their music lessons. It used to be our rule that they HAD to practice piano (or whatever their chosen instrument was to study) for a minimum of thirty minutes each day. But, because we were met with so much resistance (it often took thirty minutes of cajoling or arguing to even get the practice time started) that it became such an unpleasant situation overall. Who wants that kind of energy in his/her life? So we had to rethink the entire process and come up with a solution.

Our solution was to shorten the practice time.

Drum Kit

It seemed too simple and it felt wrong. And part of me was unconfident that any real long term learning would take place because it had been drilled into me that practice meant time and time meant success.

But because I have been experimenting with shorter duration activities for myself, (bed stretches, Tabata’s, 4 minute mornings, short bursts of house cleaning etc.), I speculated that the same theory could apply to the kids lessons and possibly everything!

Now, what you must remember is that we are talking about kids and kids are not very different from adults. Kids in fact, grow up and in most cases mature into adults. So, logically, the training for a mature adult begins at birth (this is often overlooked, too). Most kids, from my experience, do not like being told what to do, and interestingly I have also noticed the same characteristic among adults. Just because they have chosen said extra-curricular activity does not always indicate that they will want to do or practice said activity. Most often kids want to do what they want to do, which now-a-days has more to do with external stimulation via computer screens and less and less to do with self-generated imagination and creativity.

So this is what we did. We sat down with the kids and reviewed how our current approach wasn’t working out very well and that we had come up with an idea that we would like to try.  Our son likes to play video games (and is very skilled for his age), so in an effort to make everyone happy we have allotted him one hour of screen time per day, (dare I say) on school days; on weekends he gets more time; and in the summer months we experiment with allowing the kids to self-regulate (ha!). During the week, he can use that hour however he likes, i.e., all at once or he can break it up. This is what he usually chooses to do:

When our son wakes up in the morning, he goes through his checklist of personal obligations (on his own):

  • Bed stretches (his version)
  • Personal grooming: brush teeth, wash face etc. (remembers to flush toilet, keeps his sink area tidy etc.)
  • Makes his bed
  • Gets dressed
  • Good-morning greetings
  • 10 minutes drum-kit practice (Sept.– June/ Monday to Friday)
  • 15 minutes video games/ screen time
  • Breakfast
  • Packs up school bag
  • (Sometimes another 5 – 15 minutes video games/ screen time)
  • Clean/brush teeth from breakfast food
  • Leave for school

Five days a week he practices his drum-kit for 10 minutes and once per week has a thirty-minute private lesson; and never practices on the weekends! The results have been remarkable. OK, he is a talented kid, and he really gets the concept that if you’re going to bother doing something-then try to do it right the first time. So for those ten minutes he practices with accuracy and precision.

If you are going to bother spending any amount of time doing something, doesn’t it make sense to be as focused as possible?

Yet, in the same breath, he is still a kid and even though we think he has the makings of a great musician, we do not want to break his spirit by forcing him to practice, even though we know he might grow up to appreciate having studied an instrument outside of school. We have learned that what motivates one child does not work for another, so we practice working with their individual personalities – what a concept! 🙂

Puppy

We think of our kids a little bit like dogs. When we were learning to train our puppies, we were taught that the puppy, being a pack animal, had to know that the human was the alpha. But what was equally important to understand was that using force to discipline a puppy will only cause fear, and break the puppy’s spirit. We wanted brave, good-natured and confident dogs not submissive dogs. Our job as dog owners is to learn how to communicate with our pet. We think the same thing can happen to humans. We want our children to grow up into contributing members of society who are confident and can think for themselves. The training for such an adult begins at the beginning. We need to learn how to communicate with our children and teach them how to make decisions, not control them.

How many adults do you know who were forced to practice an instrument that they disliked as a child/teen, excelled at it, but discontinued playing it? I know of many who played at very high levels but lacked the passion; they played mechanically and tell sad stories of the instrument that they had really wanted to play but weren’t allowed. Just as it is true that kids do not always know what is good for them and parents need to make executive decisions, like if you start something then you should finish it (you can quit after you finish the term), and you should do your best, you don’t have to be THE best. We think that giving our kids the opportunity to be consistent with their shorter practice time sets the tone for their individual success. It also maps out the potential for a successful and varied adult life.

Practice vs. Duration

If I don’t like doing something,

 generally, it means that I’m not very good at it.

Backstroke

When we are not good at doing something, generally, it means that it doesn’t come naturally and so it is much easier to push it aside and focus on what does. In my opinion, the only way to get good at something, or to be able to perform better at something is to practice. Is practice synonymous with time? I don’t think so. But, to explain this we need to talk about two elements: 1) being consistent 2) correct information.

Pool Lap Lane

I immersed myself into swimming about five years ago. Sure, I could swim to save my life, but I didn’t know how to perform any of the strokes with much proficiency or accuracy. The bottom line is that I didn’t know what I was doing at all; so I took lessons. I didn’t really like doing backstroke, and when I heard my internal dialogue say so, I knew that I would have to work on it (meaning practice) to change my opinion of that stroke. It didn’t and doesn’t mean that I have to spend a lot of time doing it, but rather, when I do practice, I practice with my whole being. I dissect the mechanics of the movement to understand what it is that I don’t like about it. Now I like it, because I can do it, because I understand it – because, I understand what I need to do. But, to be clear, being able to do something well doesn’t automatically make it easy to do. In fact, each time I revisit the backstroke (or any stroke for that matter), I focus on the precision of each micro-movement, which makes up the whole and I continue to break it down, which makes it more challenging. This is why my practice sessions are relatively short, because they are intense. Now at the time of posting this, I can barely recall having any dislike for backstroke anymore…like water under the bridge.

“Practice, practice, practice.” ~Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Many people still believe that in order to become an expert at something, one must make an investment of nearly ten thousand hours worth of practice. This is a very popular held belief; it is not one of mine. This may sound like a contradiction but actually there is a distinction within this concept. Yes, I agree in practice, it is at the core of my being. What I disagree with is the statement of time. Duration or the amount of time spent practicing is meaningless. You can sit and practice for hours or years and still be mediocre at the thing you are practicing. Breaking down your body with hours of intense practice does not an expert make! Especially if that practice is done incorrectly. Intellectually, however, you may have become an expert in its theory. But, we all know that it is the application of theory, which is the goal. In other words, book knowledge vs. experience; a balance of both is ideal.

Sonia Simone writes: “I recently heard Yo-Yo Ma giving an interview about how he got started as a cellist. As it happens, Yo-Yo’s parents are both musicians, and had high musical expectations for their little son. So when Yo-Yo was three, they gave the boy a violin.

And Yo-Yo hated it. Wouldn’t practice. Wouldn’t focus. Didn’t have any zest for it. His frustrated parents finally gave up in disgust.

And then little Yo-Yo saw and heard something amazing, something that surprised and delighted him. Something that he knew was exactly what he wanted to play. It was a double bass — the violin’s really, really big brother. Now that was more like it.

He and his parents split the size difference, and Ma began to study first the viola and then settled (at four years old) on the cello. By seven he was a recognized prodigy, performing for Eisenhower and JFK, and by eight he played on national television, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

To have become so skilled between the ages of four and seven, he must have put in untold hours of practice. But they were hours spent on something he adored.

~ by Sonia Simone

Watch Karen X. Cheng. She wanted to learn how to dance in one year. You can too. You can learn anything if you set your mind to it. I have done it; I taught myself how to swim (I haven’t had a lesson in three years or so, but I keep on practicing, refining and researching. I taught myself how to do a Freestyle Flip Turn via GoSwim.tv and I continue to refine it. But don’t think that you need 10,000 hours to accomplish anything worth while. What you need is the WANT, the DESIRE and the WILL. And from that WANT comes the discipline to be consistent with practice. Just don’t kid yourself though, the practice has to be great! Practice with precision. Do it right, then practice again the next day and the day after that.

Read this: How To Become More Unstoppable Every Day

There is so very much to say on this subject; check back for Part 2…

In the meantime: Keep Learning. Be Consistent. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Smile.

Every Hour on the Hour

Every Hour on the Hour

What fun! Last night while tucking my kids into their beds, I was discussing with them the importance of keeping the body moving throughout the day. I try to impart that doing 30 minutes to one hour of intense physical activity per day does not cancel out the negative effects of prolonged sitting. This article written in 2011 from The New York Times discusses the subject: The Hazards of the Couch.

“Many of us sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, and then go home and head for the couch to surf the Web or watch television, exchanging one seat and screen for another. Even if we try to squeeze in an hour at the gym, is it enough to counteract all that motionless sitting?

A mounting body of evidence suggests not.

Increasingly, research is focusing not on how much exercise people get, but how much of their time is spent in sedentary activity, and the harm that does.”

It is the kids summer holidays after all, and aside from registering our kids for some half day camps or a week of one hour swim lessons, as a family we have agreed that summertime is the kids time to have their own kind of down time. My husband and I are a lot more lenient about how much time they spend on screens each day. I am usually busy in the kitchen, grocery shopping or doing various household chores and when I’m lucky I can sneak in an hour here or there of my own screen time to write posts like this one; but not all at once. I usually have to jump up from my desk to let the dog in or out, or for various other Mom-job reasons. For example, I started writing this post about forty minutes ago and have gotten up from my seat about twenty times already.

View from Top of Grouse

Both my husband and I are hyper sensitive to the immobility induced factor which is screen time of any kind. My husband works from home and all of of his work involves screens and conference calls. He has figured out how to ensure that he does not become chained to his desk. Quite simply: He moves. He stretches at his desk. He does push ups. Between calls he’ll run ten flights of stairs, which at most takes a minute and a half. He’ll do a set of chin ups. He’ll walk the dog. And a couple of times per week from Spring till Fall he’ll hike Grouse Mountain (Grouse Grind). Aside from that he spends 15 minutes in the gym three times per week lifting heavy weights and sprints a mile at the track once or twice a week. He just turned 52 years old and is getting better all the time.

So back to the kids. Last night I was pointing out how easy it is for them to spend hours a day on their handheld device, Wii or desktop computer, without moving. My son paraphrased that he should get up and do something every forty-five minutes. So I leaped at the opportunity and offered that starting in the morning we could experiment with a little bit of activity every hour on the hour! They loved the idea. Concepts are fantastic, but meaningless without action.

By 8am this morning, my son had already spent one hour on his computer! I had already done my bed stretches and morning routine and while putting in the first load of laundry of the day, I told my son that it was time to start his Hour on the Hour Practice. But he countered, “It hasn’t been an hour yet.” It’s quite amazing how quickly time slips away when we are staring at a screen.

True to his word, he got up from his chair and did 50 high knees, then got back to his screen. (He did eat breakfast)

9am: Son did 10 Push Ups followed by a doorway chest stretch. then back to his screen. (I did them after him and he complemented me on my form which made me laugh).

9am: Dot slept in but did her first set of 25 Jumping Jacks to start.

10am: Son and I did 25 Jumping Jacks, then back to his screen./ Dot did 5 Pull Ups.

11am: Son, Dot and I did 10 times flight of stairs.

12 noon: Son will do 5 standing roll downs, I will do 5 Sun Salutations, Dot will do 50 high knees.

We will do nothing until later in the day because we will go to the pool for 1:30pm. I will swim for 30minutes while the kids have their one hour swimming lesson.

I wanted to share this with you today. It is simple, yet it takes self-discipline to make it happen. Precision of movement is paramount but we cannot even begin to work on that if we haven’t got a regular daily practice under our belt. We have to know what we are doing before we can work on the details.

Try to understand this very important point: The amount of time we spend doing an activity is meaningless if what we are doing is done mindlessly without precision.

Exercise is multifaceted.

First things first. Take responsibility for your health. Once you develop a consistent daily body maintenance practice I can help you to see and fine tune the details.

And while you are at it, drink some water every hour on the hour!

On Valuing Your Life

How to Be Compassionate

Valuing Your Life

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“So, this human life is a precious endowment, potent yet fragile. Simply by virtue of being alive, you are at a very important juncture, and carry a great responsibility.

You can achieve powerful good for yourself and others, so becoming distracted by the minor affairs of this lifetime would be a tremendous waste. Resolve to use this lifetime in this body effectively, urging yourself on from the inside and seeking whatever assistance there is from the outside.  You should use your fleeting life for your benefit and that of others.  Physical happiness is just an occasional balance of elements in the body, not a deep harmony.  Recognize the temporary for what it is.  Do not assume that there will be time later.

Meditative Reflection

  1. It is certain that I will die.  Death cannot be avoided.  My lifetime is running out and cannot be extended.
  2. When I will die is unknown.  Human lifespan varies.  The causes of death are many, and the causes of life comparatively few.  The body is fragile.
  3. We are all in this same tenuous situation, so there is no  point in quarrelling and fighting, or wasting all our mental and physical energy on accumulating money and property.
  4. By mistaking what deteriorates moment by moment for something constant, I bring pain upon myself as well as others.  I should reduce my attachment to passing fancies.
  5. From the depths of my heart, I should seek to get beyond these cycles of suffering created by mistaking what is fleeting for permanent.
  6. In the long run, what helps most is my transformed attitude.

Being aware of impermanence calls for discipline – taming the mind – but this does not mean punishment, or control from the outside.  Discipline does not mean prohibition; rather, it means that when there is a contradiction between short-term and long-term interests, you sacrifice the former for the latter.  This is self-discipline, which is based on understanding the cause and effect of one’s own actions.  This type of discipline offers protection.  A tamed mind makes you peaceful, relaxed, and happy, whereas if your mind is not disciplined in this way, no matter how wonderful your external circumstances, you will be beset by fears and worries.  Realize that the root of your own happiness and welfare lies in a peaceful and tamed mind.  It is also a great benefit to those around you.

Human beings have all the potential necessary to create good things, but its full utilization requires freedom.  Totalitarianism stifles this growth.  Individualism means that you do not expect something from the outside, or that you are waiting for orders; rather, you yourself create the initiative.  Therefore, Buddha frequently called for “individual liberation,” meaning self-liberation, rather than freedom achieved through large-scale political or military action.  Each individual must create his or her own discipline.  If they are exploited by afflictive emotions, there will be negative consequences.  Freedom and self-discipline must work together.”

 

From: How to Be Compassionate, pages 51-53. 

Translated by Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D. 

My “Butter Chicken” Recipe

My "Butter Chicken" Recipe

Who doesn’t love great tasting food?

Honestly, I think it is really strange when people profess to be a foodie. We all love food don’t we? We all need it to survive. But there is a big difference between loving food and exercising self-control in the process to not cross that fine line that leads to gluttony. Please don’t tell me you are a foodie. Remember that the pleasure we derive from eating is not the primary goal – nourishment is. Nourishment and pleasure must go together; they feed each other (excuse the pun).  🙂

My eight year old daughter discovered Butter Chicken this past year and though she only eats a small amount (she only ever eats a small amount of anything), but is a discerning eater who eats slowly and savours her food. But because dairy doesn’t work well for her I decided that I would experiment in the kitchen and come up with a “Butter Chicken” that she could eat with confidence!

I have been experimenting with Eat Right 4 Your Type for the last few years and so have made modifications to this fantastic Butter Chicken recipe, to suit my needs. It works well for the rest of my family too (give or take some ingredients); each of us, a representative of the four blood types!

My version is for those who are dairy-free. I know it sounds strange to even call this dish Butter Chicken when there is no butter or decadent cream and by the way there is no chicken either; I have replaced the chicken with Turkey cutlets. My son is blood type B and my husband is blood type AB, both should avoid chicken. Generally, chicken is so over consumed by everyone that I have cut back on the amount of chicken I prepare and serve to them at home. So turkey it is!

I have made this dish only three or four times, but it has turned out great each time, so I feel ready to share it with you. If you try it please let me know how it turns out. My son thinks it could use a little more garlic and ginger for his taste, so I will experiment with those quantities next time.

Also, I find that it tastes even better the following days; I always make enough for leftovers.

Make this ginger / garlic paste ahead of time. Here’s how: chop up at least 2 inches of fresh ginger and 3 to 4 cloves of garlic to make a generous 1-2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger and garlic each; equal parts. But often when using a food processor it helps to have a larger quantity being processed for the machine to run smoothly. This is why I generally make more and keep it in the freezer. Place into a small food processor and add water in small amounts to create a paste. Set aside in the refrigerator or freezer depending on when you will be making the recipe.

Fresh Ginger/Garlic pasteFrozen Ginger/Garlic paste

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg boneless Turkey Cutlets
  • 1/4 Cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1 generous tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 dried Bay Leaves
  • 10 raw almonds
  • 4 pods of cardomom
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup or more of chopped yellow or Sweet cooking onions
  • 2 – 3 tsp (or more) of garlic/ ginger paste (see above)
  • 1- 14 oz. Can of unsalted diced Tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP dried Fenugreek Leaves (kasuri methi)
  • 2 Cups homemade Turkey stock (or chicken or vegetable stock)

Instructions:

  • cubed turkey cutlets1 kg boneless Turkey cutlets cubed (a cutlet is a breast cut in half or more slices) I use kitchen food scissors for cutting the cutlets into cubes.
  • 1/4 Cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately from 1 lime depending on juiciness)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1 generous tsp red chili flakes

Juice from 1 Lime

Sea Salt

1 tsp red chili flakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Combine the above ingredients. Place into a non-reactive (choose glass) food safe container and cover with a lid. (I like Frigoverre by Bormioli Rocco). Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Marinating Stage 1 of 2

2) Just before your hour is up, in a flat pan on medium heat, gently roast:

  • 2 dried Bay Leaves
  • 10 raw almonds

Roasting almonds & bay leaves

3) Gently roast until they darken slightly, turning over occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

  • Remove seeds from 4 pods of cardomom (there are 12 seeds in each pod).

seeds from cardamom pods

4) In a clean coffee grinder, place cooled roasted bay leaves, almonds and 48 cardamom seeds and grind into a coarse powder.

cardomom seeds and gently roasted almonds & bay leaves half-way ground in coffee grinder final coarse powder

 

 

 

 

5) In a small bowl combine the following spices:

  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

6) Mix the coarse powder mixture with the above spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric)

Spices

7) Add this combined spice mixture to the marinating Turkey cubes. Mix well.

marinating stage 2 of 2

8) Continue to marinate Turkey for an additional hour, covered in the refrigerator.

AFTER the second 1 Hour (two hours total), remove marinating Turkey from the refrigerator. It’s cooking time.

9) Heat 3 TBSP Olive Oil, on medium heat in a large high-sided frying pan or pot.

*NOT Virgin or Extra Virgin Olive Oil, because these oils are not meant for cooking with.

Olive Oil

10) When the Olive Oil is hot add approximately 1 Cup of chopped yellow or Sweet cooking onions. Fry until golden brown. About 10 minutes.

11) Add 2 generous teaspoons of previously prepared garlic/ ginger paste. Fry for one minute.

12) Add marinated Turkey cubes and any juices that may have collected in the marinating container. Cook on medium until Turkey cubes have sealed; they will take on an opaque appearance.

Cook until sealed

Simultaneously…

    • 1- 14 oz. Can of unsalted diced Tomatoes
    • 1 TBSP dried Fenugreek Leaves (kasuri methi)

13) With a food processor or in a container using a hand held blender, ground the tomatoes and fenugreek leaves into a smooth paste. Add to pot and combine with Turkey.

Dried Methi

Tomatoes & Fenugreek Leaves

14) Add 2 Cups Turkey stock to pot and combine. Add 2 Cups Turkey stock

15) Cook until Turkey is cooked and sauce is reduced by half. (approximately 45 minutes total cooking time.)

OPTIONAL: I don’t do this but as an optional Butter addition, melt 3 TBSP Butter or Ghee in another pot, then pour over top of cooked Turkey and mix in to finish.

Serve with homemade steamed Cumin Basmati Rice (easy recipe to follow – one of these days) and fresh steamed or roasted vegetables.

ENJOY!

Here are the instructions without photos for easy reading:

1) Combine the above ingredients. Place into a non-reactive (choose glass) food safe container and cover with a lid. (I like Frigoverre by Bormioli Rocco). Refrigerate for 1 hour.

2) Just before your hour is up, in a flat pan on medium heat, gently roast: 2 dried Bay Leaves and 10 raw almonds

3) Gently roast until they darken slightly, turning over occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

  • Remove seeds from 4 pods of cardomom (there are 12 seeds in each pod).

4) In a clean coffee grinder, place cooled roasted bay leaves, almonds and 48 cardamom seeds and grind into a coarse powder.

5) In a small bowl combine the following spices:

  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

6) Mix the coarse powder mixture with the above spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric)

7) Add this combined spice mixture to the marinating Turkey cubes. Mix well.

8) Continue to marinate Turkey for an additional hour, covered in the refrigerator.

AFTER the second 1 Hour (two hours total), remove marinating Turkey from the refrigerator. It’s cooking time.

9) Heat 3 TBSP Olive Oil, on medium heat in a large high-sided frying pan or pot.

*NOT Virgin or Extra Olive Oil, because these oils are not meant for cooking with.

10) When the Olive Oil is hot add approximately 1 Cup of chopped yellow or Sweet cooking onions. Fry until golden brown. About 10 minutes.

11) Add 2 generous teaspoons of previously prepared garlic/ ginger paste. Fry for one minute.

12) Add marinated Turkey cubes and any juices that may have collected in the marinating container. Cook on medium until Turkey cubes have sealed; they will take on an opaque appearance.

Simultaneously…

  • 1- 14 oz. Can of unsalted diced Tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP dried Fenugreek Leaves (kasuri methi)

13) With a food processor or in a container using a hand held blender, ground the tomatoes and fenugreek leaves into a smooth paste. Add to pot and combine with Turkey.

14) Add 2 Cups Turkey stock to pot and combine.

15) Cook until Turkey is cooked and sauce is reduced by half. (see feature photo above).

OPTIONAL: I don’t do this but as an optional Butter addition, melt 3 TBSP Butter or Ghee in another pot, then pour over top of cooked Turkey and mix in to finish.

Serve with homemade steamed Cumin Basmati Rice (easy recipe to follow – one of these days) and fresh steamed or roasted vegetables.

BE BRAVE

Because I believe that we are all interconnected.

Because…

“Each one of us is responsible for all of humankind, and for the environment in which we live. . . . We must seek to lessen the suffering of others. Rather than working solely to acquire wealth, we need to do something meaningful, something seriously directed toward the welfare of humanity as a whole. To do this, you need to recognize that the whole world is part of you.”

 —Dalai Lama, from How to Be Compassionate

Daniel Northcott – Circles

Because…

“We all have the same dreams, need the same things;

we are all more similar than we ever have been different.  

These wounds are deep, so equally deep must be the acceptance that frees us from this tolerance.  

I will not tolerate you – I will love you.  

I will accept you completely, whatever that means.”

– Daniel Northcott

Daniel Northcott

Be Brave – The Movie

I am posting this on behalf of my friend Erin Northcott. We are kindred spirits who actually don’t see one another often. We connect via email a couple times a year at most. But it was our initial meeting back in 2006 which cemented our friendship. I tend to make friendships like this. My friendship circle is not tight or closed. It is open and ripples out. Perhaps this is why I need to share this message with you. 

 
Quick backstory: 

In the fall of 2006 it was time for my two year old daughter to begin attending a parent participation pre-school class, for only two-hours on Friday mornings. I didn’t have anyone to mind my four year old son during that time, and his pre-school program only ran Monday to Thursday. Erin’s business was and still is in the service of placing nanniesShe came to our home to interview us, but because we only needed someone for two to three hours once per week, she was doubtful that she would be able to place anyone with us. She thought about it and decided that she would be our 3-hour nanny, for those eight months. My son and Erin clicked and they spent their time together creating incredible art projects. She often commented on how much my son reminded her of her little brother Daniel and how much her brother would love to meet him. We never met Dan.

Dan died from Leukemia in 2009 at age 29.

“A brother’s dying wish. A sister’s undying promise.

Be Brave is the true story of Daniel Northcott. Real footage captures this haunting and inspiring story of filmmaker Daniel Northcott’s dying wish to share his message of unity with the world.”

Daniel and Erin Northcott

Please view this two-minute film. What are friends for if we can’t stand up for, speak for and help each other out? At first you might wonder, what kind of friend just shows up at the eleventh hour? (There are only five days left for this campaign for crowd-funding this project). Believe me, I have thought about that too. Shouldn’t I have been more aware of this project earlier on? Watch the footage and you will see how busy Erin has been this past year fulfilling her promise. Well, there are reasons for everything. I had not been in touch with Erin for over a year and by chance I sent her an email on January 23, 2013. She followed up with what was going on and sent me the link to the preview of Dan’s film. You could say the film is haunting me. The next day I found out on Facebook, that January 23rd would have been Dan’s thirty-third birthday. Was it a coincidence that I contacted Erin on her brother’s birthday?  

I don’t think it was a random occurrence. 

Erin’s brother Dan had a message for the world:

That we are all interconnected.

We are all made of the same matter.

And we are all one beautiful organism. 

“Bursting with unquenchable curiosity and a boundless love for life, Daniel Northcott

was a one-of-a-kind filmmaker.  Barely 20, he set out on a decade-long quest to travel the world, spreading his infectious enthusiasm across four continents and dozens of cultures. Through ruins and cities, war zones and sacred sites, he captured each precious moment on camera with an eye for colourful characters of every age and description.

In April of 2007, Dan’s journey led him to a greater adventure than he had ever imagined.  Despite warnings of an ancient curse, he brought home a bone from a sacrificial Mayan burial cave in Yucatán, and just months later he was diagnosed with leukemia – cancer of the bone marrow.

When Daniel learned 8 years into his film project that he had only months to live he began a race to complete his unfinished film. Amazingly, he continued to document every detail of the roller-coaster ride that followed —from the doctor delivering the crushing news to every intense medical procedure, losing his hair, and intimate moments with friends and family.

With over a thousand hours of footage and no energy or time left he made a 40-minute sketch of the film he dreamed to make and left the footage in his will to his sister Erin Northcott. His last wish was to request she oversee the completion of his legacy, his film.”

Circles within Circles

Above photo: “Greece. Dan was all over this when he saw it amidst the ruins, to him the circles within circles he found around the world were reminders of humanity and natures interconnectedness; a fact humanity knew so well long ago, that Daniel wanted us to re-remember.” 

WORDS FROM THE DIRECTOR, MIKKI WILLIS

“In early 2012, I got a call from musician and filmmaker Chris Brickler.  He had stumbled upon some footage that he felt I should see immediately.  Chris has never been one to exaggerate, but when he pitched the story to me it sounded too fantastic to be true.  He sent me 40 minutes, which I watched with some of my team. 

When it was over, there was 10 minutes of silence. Only a few deep breaths, sniffles and one barely audible “whoa.”  It wasn’t until I felt a cold streak down my cheek that I realized I was crying. “What just happened?” It was hard to understand, let alone explain. 

 The footage was shot by and featured a young man named Daniel Northcott. Dan was gifted with the ability to perceive realities deeper than what meets the eye.  In the words of his own mother, “the kid was a star child.”

Director Mikki Willis and Elevate Studios are honored and grateful that Erin and the Northcott family have entrusted them to produce Be Brave.

WATCH THIS link: Be Brave filming Update from Mikki Willis

I haven’t come across a film that has such potential to make a positive impact in the heart of humanity.
Check out their trailer and campaign at http://www.indiegogo.com/Be-Brave

UPDATE:  

Their Indiegogo campaign is ending in 10 hours at midnight Wednesday, January 30, 2013 (unless they get an extension) and they need our help to reach their goal.

UPDATE #2: They were granted a one time only extension which means that their campaign ends at midnight Saturday, February 2, 2013.

$1 – $10 can make a difference if you feel moved to make a donation. 
Even if you can’t contribute, just sharing this message with 10 specific friends will be enormously helpful.
Please join me in bringing this profound story to the world.
Thank you so much!
FINAL UPDATE: WOW! What an incredible campaign. BE BRAVE exceeded their goal with an amazing outpouring of support! Keep your eyes out for this feature film when it comes out. Already, Daniel’s message is gathering momentum. It took a global community to get Be Brave to this point and that was the point! Well done. Let’s each of us do our part for Humanity.

Genuine Transformation

Genuine Transformation
My cousin Justin Kalef is currently teaching Logic at Rutgers University. I had a chance to chat with him briefly at a family dinner over the 2012 winter holidays. It was around the same time that I was mulling over the contents for the article I was composing on belief. Justin was the perfect person to ask some of the questions that I was working on. He told me what he tells his students on their first day of class, because from his experience teaching, it is inevitable that at some point during the course, one or some students will come to him completely overwhelmed.

We were talking about belief and how our beliefs can affect our ability to make long lasting change in our lives. When he said the following phrase:

“…but it’s only difficult for who you are now.

For the person you will become, 

it won’t be difficult at all.”

How great is this sentence? I think we could all do well to repeat this to ourselves daily. I asked him if I could use it for my belief article, and then I thought better of it…let’s tell the entire speech. So here you are, sit back and soak up these wise words.

“One of the things I do at the start of all my courses

is tell my students to think of the course like thinking of a physical training program (weight lifting or running). Suppose, I say, your goal is to run a 10k run in four months, but you can’t even run down the block now. Or suppose that you want to be able to do a shoulder press with fifty-pound weights in four months, but right now you can only do it with five-pound weights and you can barely lift ten-pound weights.

50 pound weights

These things are possible to achieve in four months’ time. If you go through a training program and are able to reach your goals by the end, you’ll be able to look back down the mountain when it’s all over and say:

‘Wow, I started out that far down and look where I am now!’

Looking down the mountain.

Look How Far You’ve Come!

Ideally, you’ll be able to do that at several points: each month, you should be able to look back to where you were the previous month and be impressed with how far you’ve come. If you can’t do that — if at the end you’re exactly where you were at the start — then that’s a sign that it didn’t work.  If you haven’t progressed in a month, then something went wrong. You didn’t commit enough or your guide didn’t find a way to climb the mountain — maybe both.

So my promise (I tell them) is this: I have worked out a path that you will be able to follow with me to the top of the mountain. There are some things you’ll be able to do at the end that you just can’t do now: here they are (and I set them out plainly). The mountain is high, but my path will allow you to get there a little at a time. If you need to go slower at some points, there are other paths for those times. And if you’re committed to it, you’ll see each month that you’re far in advance of what you could do the month before. That’ll be proof of your progress, and I make the promise to you now that you can make it if you follow my plan.

However, there’s a flipside to that. Logically speaking, if there’s something you’ll be able to do a month from now that you can’t do today, that same something must be out of your range today. And the things you’ll be able to do at the very end are way out of your range today. That comes with the course being a worthwhile one for you, but some people can find it scary.

They say, ‘I can’t do that!’

And they’re completely right:

They can’t.

If they could already do it, there would be no point in their taking the course!

Think of it this way (I tell them): if you can only shoulder-press with five-pound dumbbells and can barely lift the ten-pound ones out of the rack, then of course you can’t shoulder-press the fifty-pound ones. You might resolve to do it anyway, but you’d fail. You just can’t do it. That’s why you’re training toward that goal.

Going in circles

So: if there’s something you want to be able to do and already can do, then any training program designed to get you there is a waste of time and will only take you in a circle. So any reasonable goal must be something you can’t do yet.

And that means that any reasonable goal you have must be something that’s impossible for you to do!

Still, the situation isn’t hopeless. There’s one — and only one — reasonable way to see your training: your training takes something that’s currently impossible for you to do and makes it possible by changing you from someone who can’t into someone who can. So today, you can say ‘I can’t do this — but I can transform myself into someone who can.’ And that’s the key to training: transforming yourself into someone with more powers than you have today.

This is literal transformation: mentally or physically, you’ll be a different person with different abilities. You’ll even have different desires and values: things you find frustrating now won’t be to your future self, and things you find tempting now will be less so.

Genuine self-transformation can be very difficult in the short term,

but it’s only difficult for who you are now.

For the person you will become,

it won’t be difficult at all.

Today, you say to yourself “Living by this routine is so difficult — when will I be able to do the things that I want?” But perhaps you’re only thinking of what the present version of you wants: not the future you. If your self-transformation is to be successful, the routine will not remain difficult. You’ll miss it if you don’t  follow it.

So instead of saying: “This is difficult for me,”

say: “This is difficult for me now,

but I’m transforming myself into a person for whom it isn’t difficult.”

Otherwise, you run the risk of leaving it up to your present desires to choose the values and habits of your future.”

-Justin Kalef