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Archive for April, 2011

Saba

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Saba, a set on Flickr.

Pics of the beautiful island where I was on vacation. Enjoy!

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Heading Home

I’ve been on vacation for the last week. I’ve got a lot to write about but today, I’m heading home. We’ve been enjoying the beauty of Saba, a small island in the Dutch Caribbean. It’s where my wife grew up. We’ve been able to introduce the kids to family they’d never met, seen family we haven’t seen in years and spend a lot of time hiking and swimming and snorkeling and eating well. Today, as we get our bags together and get ready for the flight back to Maine, I’m feeling sadness about leaving and hope about going home. Every day, I’ve tried to go outside and meditate. It’s been an amazing experience to do that down here and I’m really going to miss this view. I’ll just have to learn a new lesson about attachment and impermanence.

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How To Meditate

It’s easy, really. Just do it like this.

The trick is to find a pool overlooking the ocean.

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From time to time, I give my thoughts about something that I’ve tried or experienced. I always do this because I like something. I have never made anything from this blog nor have I ever received anything from anyone/anything I write about. I don’t have any plans to change this policy. With that in mind, please enjoy this non-compensated review of a product I just tried and really liked.

I’m always looking for new ideas for vegetarian recipes and decided the other day to try my hand at a quick stir fry. I was wandering the aisles of the grocery store for ingredients, I realized I needed some soy sauce for the stir fry. It’s not something that I keep in my pantry because it’s basically salt sauce. However, this would be an exception. That’s when I saw a bottle of Annie Chun’s Chinese Stir Fry sauce. It caught my eye and I read through the ingredient list. It was vegetarian though the label said it was processed in a plant that processes meat products (you have been warned if you’re a hard core vegetarian). The sodium content was still on the high side but it was less than the soy sauce that I was holding in my other hand. I decided to take a chance on it and went home with everything I needed for a quick dinner.

I cooked the brown rice, chopped up garlic, ginger, carrots, asparagus, onions and got a big handful of snow peas ready. I cooked all the veggies in some olive oil in my wok and, after removing them, browned up some cubed extra firm tofu in the wok. At this point, the rice was done so I pulled it off of the burner and dumped it into the wok with the tofu and added the vegetables that I’d set aside. Once everything was mixed, I added the bottle of sauce. One bottle was enough for the stir fry that I made. My goal was to make enough to have dinner and lunch the next day.The bottle was enough to let this happen. When I tasted the results, I was quite pleased with the taste. The sauce added a really nice flavor and, since it was more than just soy sauce, allowed me to get a bit more of a Chinese takeout flavor than I would have gotten on my own. If you happen to be planning on making a stir fry any time soon, I would highly recommend trying this sauce as part of the recipe.

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Make Some Noise

New Beastie Boys track just dropped. Enjoy the awesome here. Looks like I’ve got a new track for my exercise mix list.

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Dirty Words

I’ve been a little behind in keeping up with the news lately and was shocked to learn that according to the Florida legislature “uterus” is a dirty word. I know that female anatomy is often a problem for a vast number of conservative lawmakers so I thought I would do my part by providing a list of other words that might be unacceptable to use in polite conversation or the floor of the Florida House of Representatives. Warning: children should not, under any circumstances be allowed to view this list as it may bruise their tender little minds beyond repair.

  • fallopian tube
  • perineum
  • menses
  • mucus
  • ovary
  • cilia
  • alveolus (bonus points if you know this one without having to look it up: if you can’t, check urban dictionary; it’s a bastion of filth)
  • labia
  • uvula
  • retina
  • aureola
  • pubic
  • colon (this one’s extra dirty)
  • abdomen
  • lumbar
  • spleen (I feel dirty just typing that one)
  • patella

Hopefully I haven’t harmed anyone by using all of these horrible words that one can find in any anatomy book. However, in the off-chance I did, I would advise you to avoid any standard book of anatomy and physiology: it’ll melt your eyes right out of their sockets (sorry for using the naughty words “eyes” and “sockets” back there) (oops I just used them again).

In case you’re wondering, I did a little research and did find an illustration that the Florida legislature approved for use in school textbooks in case a child should ever need to learn anything about health and anatomy.

As a further public service, I would like to refer any female readers of this blog to incorporatemyuterus.com for more information on what can be done to combat those who would like to pass laws barring access to quality reproductive health care.

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It’s confession time. Attentive readers will notice that I haven’t updated the widget that tracks my daily weight in a long time. There was a good reason for this: the numbers weren’t going in the right direction and updating it would be like admitting that I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do: lose weight. After all, if I didn’t admit it, it wasn’t really happening right? There were a lot of reasons for the gain. A lack of exercise, a lack of mindfulness, a lack of proper items to eat, a flare up of depression etc. Regardless of why, the fact is I was gaining instead of losing.

When you make losing weight a big part of what you are doing, you start to label weight gain synonymously with “losing”. Then, when you couple issues of depression and anxiety over weight with “losing” it morphs into “failure”. Then, in a particularly cruel twist of the mind turning in on itself, the reason for the “failure” is defined as “you”. Once that has happened, it becomes a relatively small step to the conclusion that “I have failed in losing weight because I myself am a failure”. So, I go from gaining a few pounds to accusing myself of being a failure as a human being who can’t lose weight because that extra layer of fat surrounding my organs is exactly what I deserve.

This is a pretty twisted way of looking at one’s self. It’s also a classic view of the ego of an addict. In the extended periods of meditation that I enjoyed [ed. note—mostly enjoyed] this weekend at the Providence Zen Center I was forced to confront this ego and get a grip on reality. There were a number of times when I had to stare my own unchecked desire in the face and I realized that I was allowing it to run away with me. Desire to be thin, desire to eat well, desire to eat sugars and fats, desire to just have something to eat, desire for a flavor—any flavor—to experience were calling the shots in my decision-making processes and causing me to spiral out of control again. This is the strength of practice: to cut through desires. Unchecked desire—whether for something good or bad—will lead to suffering. Do I desire to be healthy? Yes. Do I desire to be thin? Yes. Does it reflect on me as a person whether or not I am? No.

That last realization is what my practice reminds me. My real self—my true self—is not my desires. Practice makes it easier to cut through those desires and the delusions that they give birth to. Thanks to some hard practice this weekend I’ve gotten back in touch with my goals and not my desires. Taking the precepts gave me the time I needed to examine my attitudes and feelings and I am able to face reality without the need to shelter my delusions or fear being a failure. Sure, I’ve gained some weight and I’ll lose it again. This moment, this very moment, is all we have. Practice reminds us of this. With no delusions and a strong commitment to being present and mindful in this moment, it becomes no problem to do what is right. The happy side effect of doing what’s right just happens to be that I will become healthier and lose weight. Weight loss can’t be the goal: doing what is right in this moment is the closest thing to a goal I can have.

I’m 285 today. Tomorrow I may be 284, I may be 286 but I’ll be me.

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