Be Selfish — Forgive

TERESA QUEIRÓS

PHOTO | TERESA QUEIRÓS | ♡ HER WORK

Forgiveness always benefits you more than it benefits the person who hurt you. To forgive is to be free. If you don’t have it in you to be magnanimous, be selfish— forgive. 

The day is perfect. The sun shines warmly, good things happen all around, yet in the midst of pure delight, you feel nothing but a sharp pain coming from a tiny splinter lodged in your finger. The dang splinter is nothing in the grand scheme of things, your friends are laughing, the sun is shining— what is a splinter in the light of life. But how can you enjoy life when the gnawing pain imbibes your focus?

Unforgiveness is a splinter in the soul. It doesn’t matter how insignificant the original offense was. Once the thing gets lodged inside of you, it produces a gnawing pain.

The pain from a splinter is not the issue. In fact, the pain is healthy. It alarms you that something is wrong. There is a foreign object stuck in your flesh, and you must drop everything to pull it out before it causes serious issues. The soul splinter is just the same. Offense gets lodged inside of your heart, and you must remove it before it causes further damage.

If you keep a serious splinter inside of your body long enough, the risk is gangrene; it becomes life-threatening. When unforgiveness is left inside of your heart, expect all sorts of havoc. It’s a deadlock that holds you to the past, you can’t move forward in the relationship with the person that caused the offense, and it takes a toll on other relationships as well. In your desire to seek revenge or to hold them hostage with your refusal to forgive, you destroy your present happiness to prove something to the past.

How do You Remove a Splinter?

It’s gonna hurt, baby. When removing a splinter, expect pain. But suck it up, deal with it, and as soon as the thing is out, you will forget it completely. The body has an astounding ability to forget even the severest of pain as soon as the issue is solved and healing sets into motion.

For sure, to forgive a person can hurt like hell, after all, the forces of hell are bent on keeping you in a state slavery to the past, to the pain. To attain and maintain freedom is a constant battle, never a resting place. You have to fight to free yourself from anything that gains mastery over you. The grudges hurts, and pains that you cling to, have direct mastery over you.

The only way to break the bond that ties you to the person who hurt you is to is to forgive them. You only need to do it one time, but at the moment you must forgive genuinely and completely. This action seems like benevolence towards another, but in reality, forgiveness benefits you more than it can ever benefit anyone else. When you forgive you free your own soul.

If you don’t have it in you to be magnanimous— be selfish! Drop everything and make things right for yourself. Call those who offended, write them, repent of your part, forgive them for their part, and feel the splinter no more.

As soon as the thing gets done, the healing process begins. Eventually, you will forget the pain. You will be able to laugh with your friends, and delight in the shining sun as if nothing ever happened.

Forgiveness Doesn’t Erase Responsibility

As a side note, forgiveness doesn’t wipe out consequences. Legal or financial responsibilities still lay on whoever wreaked havoc. But it’s so much more pleasant to take care of wretched business when you are emotionally free of pain, bitterness, and the maddening desire for revenge.

Cinnamon: A Spice to Make Blood Sugar Nice

Vicente Villamón

Photo | Vicente Villamón | Thank you (via CC)

Cinnamon is the spice that makes sugar act nice.  I don’t like too many sugary things, but I do love honey.  For years I’ve been adding cinnamon and cardamom into raw honey and mixing it really well with a fork to create, what may be, the greatest sweetener of all time.  I had no idea that cinnamon balances blood sugar, but that detail turns this honey concoction into a super food.

This reddish spice derived from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree was used since the beginning of time.  Not to its credit— but the Proverbs 7 woman did perfume her bed with it.  Moses used it, the Greeks and Romans were over this spice. Cinnamon was added to ancient Chinese and Indian medicines for ages.

There are two varieties of cinnamon: cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) is the stronger, sweeter type which is generally preferred in the US, Europe, China and Southeast Asia; and what is known as true cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum) which is used in Mexico, Latin America, and South Asia.  But let’s talk about cassia.

Healing Qualities

A lot of research supports the effects of cinnamon.  It is proven to treat and prevent disorders like: cholesterol problems, Diabetes type 2 (not type 1), food poisoning, heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), insulin resistance (prediabetes), metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, high triglycerides, yeast infections and a few other things I don’t know much about.

Diabetes type 2 is a drastic problem in the US caused by chronically high blood sugar which attacks arteries and veins and increases the risk of heart disease and leads to many problems.  Nerve damage, skin ulcers, vision loss, blindness, kidney failure and in critical situations choked blood flow leads to amputation of gangrenous toes, feet and lower limbs(Aggarwal and Yost 80).  It’s unspeakable but common.  Thus, thinking about our blood sugar is something that we should all do from time to time.

Preventative Qualities

But it’s not just for problem-solving.  Cinnamon is great for us, even at the peak of health because it prevents elevated glucose and blood lipid levels.  Swedish researchers found that it lowers blood sugar levels after a meal and then helps to process and store glucose (Aggarwal and Yost 81).

And let’s not forget the delightful, warming flavor and that smell.  Cinnamon smells like the holidays.  It doesn’t have to be consumed daily, but the spice is the simplest way to counterbalance some of the effects of sugar when we have more sweets on our tables.  Maybe that’s why it’s such hit around the holidays.

How to Use It

The quills can be used to infuse flavor for liquid dishes or beverages.  Ground cinnamon is used for baking and sprinkling on things.  It’s most fragrant when freshly ground, but since the quills are tough, grinding them requires a really good spice grinder so it may be easier to buy it ground.

It pairs well with:

  • Fruit, especially apples and bananas and dried fruits.
  • Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, squashes, zucchini, rutabaga, and carrots
  • Baked goods: pies, muffins, zucchini bread, banana-breads, oatmeal cookies, etc.
  • Breakfast foods: oatmeal and French toast.
  • Hot beverages: spiced teas, Masala chai, spiced wine, hot cocoa and even coffee.
  • Honey: Mix it into honey with cardamom and nutmeg.

I wish you a Happy, Spicey, and Healthy Thanksgiving!

Sources

Aggarwal, Bharat B., and Debora Yost. Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. New York: Sterling Pub., 2011. Print.

Beach Therapy — 5 REASONS TO WALK THE BEACH

beach-frolic

Photo |  CHELSEA FUSS | ♡ Frolic

I like long walks on the beach.  That sounds like a line taken straight from a personals ad, but seriously— I like long walks on the beach.

Here in Clearwater, Florida the beach is easily accessible to everyone, yet as with most readily available things, it’s taken for granted.  Most locals don’t take advantage of the health benefits scattered, like seashells, along our white shores because it takes time to step out of the daily routine— but come on guys the beach is here for you!

I use the beach like a health tune up.  For years, I jogged or walked along the beach because the shoreline is the closest thing to nature.  We don’t have mountains, waterfalls or forests and our parks are too infested with mosquitoes to be useful for anything more than feeding those wretched blood-suckers.  This leaves the beach as the only place for fresh air and serenity.

The health benefits of my late night, beach excursions went unnoticed until I moved away and perceived that walking on the beach had a very different effect on my body than walking the same distance elsewhere.  This is not limited to my personal experience; numerous medical studies confirm the health benefits of the ocean.  The best thing is that everything is so passive, you enjoy a walk and your health improves in passing.  Five health benefits, I like best are:

  1. IT’S GREAT FOR YOUR LUNGS. Breathing the dewy, salt air clears the lungs.  For hundreds of years people suffering from respiratory problems retreated to the seaside and for good reason.  Current studies continue to support the notion that salt air provides many health benefits for lung disease patients helping to thin mucus, improve lung function, reduce coughing and decrease sinus pressure.
  2. IT’S GREAT FOR YOUR NERVES. The equilibrium of the ocean, murmuring of waves, dewy salt air and the far stretches of pale colors have a strong lulling effect on the mind and body.  The beach is powerfully relaxing.  I like it best during or after sunset, I avoid during the day because the scorching sun is brutal, if you prefer daytime— sunblock is vital.
  3. IT’S PASSIVE FOOT REFLEXOLOGY. Walking bare footed on the sand provides a natural foot massage.  Reflexology is a technique which divides the foot into zones.  Each zone is linked through our nerves to various organs in our body and pressure on the various zones influences the internal organs through the nervous system.  Sand has a way of wrapping around every part of the foot and naturally massages each zone as we walk.
  4. IT’S GREAT FOR EYES. Our eyes are constricted to nearsightedness as we stare into our smart phones, tablets, laptop screens and other flickering techno gadgets.  Our eye muscles don’t experience their full range of motion and the beach helps to take your gaze and stretch it to the end of the horizon.  Looking as far as we can helps to keep our eye muscles healthy.
  5. IT’S GREAT FOR THINKING. My mind really comes alive during my beach walks.  Anytime I get stuck on something, can’t find the necessary inspiration, or feel dullness in my mind I opt for a late night walk on the beach.  Something about the sound of water crashing on the shore, the vastness of the ocean and the endless stretch of sand makes my little troubles disappear while opening my mind to bigger things.  The things I need in order to get out of whatever mental rut I find myself in.

For those of you who live near the coast, these are just a several things to be thankful for and I really encourage you to take advantage of the beach just outside of your air-conditioned house.  Those of you who live inland, perhaps scheduling some beach therapy instead of another doctor visit would be something to consider?

Beach walk essentials:

backpack   sunblock   blanket

Why Turkish Coffee Beats Every Other

Jorge Cancela Flickr

Photo | JORGE CANCELA | CC Thanks!

Those who sip their way to the bottom of that minuscule cup of Turkish coffee will doubtlessly prefer it to every other kind of brew and they can’t be blamed.  This Arabic stimulant is the forerunner to Italian espresso, which is not as thick because it’s brewed with coarser grounds.  Turkish coffee is brewed with super fine-ground coffee resulting in a frothy, rich texture.  Turkish coffee is velvety, luxurious and the perfect way to kick off just about anything.

Brewing Turkish Coffee

You will need an ibrik (a metal Turkish coffee pot, usually made of copper, brass or steel). Medium roast coffee beans ground very fine, to an almost powder-like state which you can grind yourself using a Turkish coffee grinder; grind them at a grocery store or coffee shop (most commercial grinders have a Turkish coffee setting), or buy ground Turkish Coffee from any Mediterranean grocery store.

Preparation

  1. Measure and fill ibrik with cold water.  Place on stove and turn heat to medium-high.
  2. When water heats up, add 1 tablespoon of coffee per 3 ounces of water.  Do not stir the coffee, just let it float on the surface.
  3. Add sugar to taste.  Do not stir.
  4. When water gets warm enough to dissolve the sugar and coffee grounds begin to sink into the water, stir several times and turn heat to low. Keep stirring periodically until the coffee begins to foam.
  5. When little bubbles start to form in the foam, lift the ibrik away from the heat so it does not come to a boil, yet keep it near the heat to allow foam to build.
  6. Continue to let it foam until it begins to rise.  Move it away from the heat for a few seconds, then return it to the heat allowing ti to foam up again.
  7. While still foaming pour the coffee into small, two-ounce cups.  Distribute the foam evenly by pouring quickly, or scooping it out with a spoon.

First drink some water to clear your palette while leaving the coffee to sit, unstirred, for a minute to allow grounds to settle.  Turkish coffee is created to be lingered over.  Chugging is not the best idea since this method of brewing naturally leaves a fine settlement of bitter, sledge-like grounds.  Sip carefully allowing the grounds to remain at the bottom of the cup and enjoy the thick, frothy texture over a delightful conversation.

The Art of Sweating

Margarita

Photo | Teresa Queirós | ♡ Her Work

While melting into the flat cedar bench, stretched along a wooden wall in the sauna at Dragon Tree Spa

, My muscle knots sweated straight out of my body in the swelling heat.

Most proper Eastern Europeans are devoted to the practice of sweating inside the sturdy wooden walls of a banya. They do it for health, out of habit, for social purposes, and as a beauty treatment.  The benefits are worth whatever discomfort some complain of, and until now, I forgot well suffocating heat relaxes.

If you haven’t experienced the benefits of sweating, let me tell you why this practice keeps doctors away.

Wet + Dry Saunas

There are two types of saunas: wet and dry.  Both are heated to high temperatures from 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit using a stove or electric heater and volcanic rocks to keep the heat.

In the wet sauna, water gets splashed over the rocks, as it vaporizes hot steam rises.  The steam helps to open pores in our bodies causing us to sweat, unwanted toxins get released, and since viruses cannot survive high heat, illnesses decrease when practicing this peculiar art of sweating regularly.

In a dry sauna, there is no steam— just dry heat making it more tolerable for longer sessions.  Dry heat reaches the body more directly. The body sweats in the same way, removing toxins, tension, and stress while stimulating blood circulation, and rejuvenating skin through perspiration.

What to Wear

The right way to dry sauna, as I learned from my dad, is to wear a funny, triangular wool hat made just for this purpose.  The intense heat is good for the body, but not for the head.  The hat keeps your head from overheating and from drying out your hair.  If you don’t have a hat, just wrap a cotton towel around your head.

If you’re wearing swimsuits or shorts it’s best to choose fabrics made of natural fibers— synthetics can melt or shrivel, while metal buttons or zippers can scorch you.

Water + Aroma

Drink lots of water— this is vital for the sweating process.  Hot tea is another popular sauna drink. The hardcore Russians will down a shot of Vodka, but I highly don’t recommend that.

Adding essential oils isn’t necessary, but they make all the difference.  Just remember that undiluted oils should not get placed on the hot rocks undiluted. Use four drops or pure essential oil to 1 liter of water then splash it on the heated rocks.  A regular 1-liter water bottle can get used, just add the essential oil, close the lid, shake it up and splash the water on the rocks once they start to sizzle.

The most popular oils for saunas are eucalyptus, pine, birch, peppermint and citrus varieties.  But you can use whatever, sandalwood, clary sage and bergamot are also fragrant and healthful.

The Venik

Then comes the most important part— The Venik. A venik is a bundle of leafy birch or oak tree twigs tied together to form a broom-like bouquet.  After your body is well-heated, the venik gets dipped into a wooden bowl filled with water and someone whacks, strokes, lashes, rubs or waggles it over your hot, hot skin.

This is no joke, a venik massage releases phytoncides— the biologically active substance that kills or depresses growth and development of pathogens and improves blood circulation, intensifies skin capillary activities, and metabolism.

I’m completely sold out on the health benefits of the sauna.  Plus, there is nothing quite as bonding as the lightheaded conversations that happen while sweating your soul out with a few close friends. I mean, this beats sitting a cold and sterile doctors office visit.