The Heart of Wellness
Wellness isn’t just about a healthy heart, low cholesterol, low blood pressure and living at an ideal weight in a disciplined exercise program. It’s more than avoiding cancer or staying safe. It is so much more than that. And, yes, it involves your heart, but your soul heart. And, yes, when your soul heart is healthy, your body often follows. But it is important to note that if your body does get sick, it may be the perfect time to accept your humanness and get in touch with your soul.
Your life just works better when your heart is open.
How do you measure this depth of wellness? There are no biometric measures, or blood tests for spiritual health. You can’t get on a scale and see how much your soul weighs. But you can go inside and see how you feel. What’s churning? What’s getting in the way of your happiness and peace of mind? What do you need right now-physically, emotionally, spiritually?
Do whatever it takes, a walk in the park, reading a good book, helping a friend, giving to a charitable cause, or sitting in a quiet space with your own kind of prayer or meditation.
Health and Well-Being begin with a healthy mind and heart. Here are some of my favorite books for physical and emotional heart health.
BOOKS THAT HEAL THE HEART
You Can Heal Your Heart by Loise Hay and David Kessler
This book is about finding peace after loss from a breakup, divorce, or death. David Kessler was mentored by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and Louise Hay. I attended one of his all day workshops on grief, and learned so much about to work with grief in a way that promotes growth and finding peace of mind. Sharing real life stories that open the heart and comfort the soul, this book is a journey well taken for anyone suffering loss.
When The Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd
I love Sue Monk Kidd. The author of The Secret Life of Bees, goes on a journey into her own soul, to find her authentic spiritual self. Her heart waits as she dives deep into her own dark night of the soul by contemplative self direction and direction from others as she finds some answers to the sacred questions that guide her life.
Feeding the Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth
I have used Geneen Roth’s work on emotions and eating with coaching clients. I love how she writes about her own journey and shares stories of those she has worked with in her own practice. Eating was meant to be both to feed our bodies, but also in joy to nurture our souls, and when the heart is starving, we look for fulfillment in unhealthy overeating leaving us empty instead of satisfied.
Journey of the Heart by John Welwood
John Welwood is a psychologist who teaches the path of conscious love and deep spirituality as a way to nurture our relationships with ourselves and others. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. said it perfectly “ A profound and wonderful book. It is a spiritual text on intimate relationship that is grounded in real life.”
There are so many other books that help us with that journey from the head to the heart, and books about healing. These are just a few.
If you are interested in exploring your own heart’s journey, I’d love to chat with you to see if I can help.
My coaching doors are open. To schedule a free consultation with me, use my calendar link.
Figs Fabulous Figs
I love dates and figs and recently experimented with some fig bread recipes.
I am sharing the recipes but also wanted to share some interesting facts about figs.
- Figs come from the Ficus Carica tree. They can be eaten fresh or dried and have a significant amount of fiber as well as carbohydrate. When mixed with Senna they have been used as a laxative.
- Figs were one of the first plants that was cultivated by humans and dates back to 9400 BC. Figs were widespread in Greece and a favorite food of Aristotle. He noted that figs have an interesting cultivation cycle and recorded that the fruits of the wild fig contained a wasp, called a fig wasp. Like other wasps, they begin as a larvae, then pupa and finally as an adult flies out of the fig into a cultivated fig and eventually drops out of the fig. The figs you buy today have been cultivated without the fig wasp but what an interesting fact!
- World production of figs is led by Turkey, then Egypt, Morocco and Algeria but have been bred in other countries and the United States.
- “High priest of the Fig” Ira Condit and William Storey started a fig breeding program at the University of California Riverside in the early 20th century that closed in the 1980s. James Doyle and Louise Ferguson revived the program in 1989.
- Figs are a superfood and quite impressive in how they are beneficial to health and well-being. For my bread I used dried figs. These dehydrated figs contain 30% water, 64% carbohydrate, and minimal protein and fat. They are high in calories but also rich in fiber and essential minerals like manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin K. They also contain phytochemicals including the polyphenols. They are an excellent prebiotic and healthy for the colon.
- Figs also have Vitamin C and Vitamin E- great for skin and hair.
- In folk medicine, the milky sap, which is considered toxic to the skin if exposed to sunlight, has been used to soften calluses, remove warts and get rid of parasites. The syrup of figs mixed with Senna has been available since the 1800s as a laxative.
- In Babylonian mythology the fig tree and it’s fruit have been linked to female sexuality, and the Goddess symbol of the fig leaf is the conventional form of the yoni. (what is that) Even today figs have been touted as a fertility enhancer.
- In Genesis, Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit and then cover themselves with fig leaves. Could the forbidden tree have been a fig tree instead of an apple tree. In some Jewish texts the fig is the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
- Figs have been a symbol of fertility and in Micah 4.4 the fig was a symbol of peace and prosperity “each man under his own vine and fig tree”
- Muhammad loved figs and felt they descended from paradise because they were a fruit without pits. He also recommended them for preventing hemmorhoids and gout.
- Cautions with figs? Do not overeat them as they can cause diarreah and if you are on blood thinners, be cautious as they are a source of Vit. K. A daily dose of 2-3 figs is recommended.
THE WINNING RECIPE
The Winning Fig Bread Recipe
I recently spent the morning making three different recipes for fig bread. The first recipe had figs and bananas. The Second recipe was made with only figs but I added chocolate chips. The third recipe had no additional sweetener and more flour. I added flax seed to all three breads. When Steve and I did a taste test in the evening, the first bread won.
Here is the recipe for the winning bread. If you would like any of the other recipes, simply email me and I will be happy to share it.
Walnut and Fig Banana Bread
· 3 – 4 Bananas, very ripe
· 1/3 cup olive oil – my favorite oil
· 2 Eggs
· 1 tsp Vanilla
· ¼ cup of honey
· 1 1/4 cups Wholewheat flour
· ¼ cup ground flax seed
· 1 tsp Baking soda
· 1/4 tsp Salt
· 1 Tsp Cinnamon
· 1/3 cup nuts, roughly chopped- I used walnuts and almonds
· 1/4 cup Diced dried figs- I cut them up with kitchen scissors
- Preheat the oven to 350. Oil or spray a loaf pan for one loaf. I usually make three small breads for every traditional size loaf.
- In a large bowl mash the bananas and then mix in the oil, vanilla, and eggs. Then add the honey.
- In a separate bowl mix the flour, flax seed, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir into the wet ingredients just until moistened.
- Add the figs and nuts.
- Pour the batter in the prepared pan or pans. For one large loaf bake 45-50 minutes. For small loaves back 30-40 minutes. Check with a toothpick and make sure the center comes out clean. Better to be moist than dry.
- Take the bread out and cool for 5 minutes then remove from the pan and serve warm or at room temp.
- I always double or triple my recipes and freeze breads. Wrap them in foil and put in a plastic bag or plastic container. They make wonderful gifts or spontaneous treats with coffee or tea.
I have spent over 40 years studying the body and health, both illness and wellness and how the physical systems work and break down. I have also spent the last 30 years studying how we can prevent those systems from breaking down by adhering to a healthy lifestyle. I have dedicated the last 25 years of my life to studying how our thoughts and attitudes influence our health and wellness. I can summarize my findings by using four questions to evaluate your health and wellness or lifestyle.
I hope you had a nice holiday however you celebrate.
We celebrate Hanukah and Christmas. I grew up with Christmas, trees, lights, presents, midnight Mass, the Crib scene in the front yard-baby Jesus appearing Christmas morning. Then I married someone Jewish and my own house didn’t have any of that. Instead we would go to my parents house with my Jewish children -Santa came to Grandma’s house-made sense since Grandma and Grandpa were Catholic.
It wasn’t until after my parents died and my children were grown with their own families, that we stopped going home for Christmas. Then my husband surprised me with a tree and every Hanukah ornament they had at the Bronners Frankenmuth Michigan Christmas store. So in our house we celebrate Hanukah by lighting our menorahs including the ones in the window and Christmas with my little tree with presents below and I decorate the house with lots of blue and white.
This year one of my favorite things was giving everyone a Hanukah present from 10,000 Villages, a fair trade store, where gifts are orginal and hand made in third world countries.
There were lots of gifts for Christmas from and to everyone, but I think the favorite was the one my daughter gave to her nieces and nephew. She donated to the Wild Life Animal Foundation and they each got a stuffed animal representing the species recipient-Elephant, Cheetah, Twin Orangatangs, and a Hammer Head Shark. I was so glad she did that to represent more than getting presents but giving something meaningful to go along with it.
Unfortunately, one of my granddaughters tested positive for Covid the day before Christmas Eve leaving her family to celebrate in their own home. Thank goodness for FaceTime and for the fact that life goes on even when there is a pandemic that seems to ruin things a bit. Yes, we all got tested lots this season and to date we are all negative.
All of our holiday celebrations were with masks, open windows, and distancing and careful hugs-what shame but at least we can in some ways still be together.
We got lots of cards and holiday letters, and this year the day before New Year’s Eve, I wrote a poem that will go in my New Years Cards.
Well I can’t believe it’s 2022.
Another year of Covid Blues.
For the first time I look for negative results
Because positive means bodily insults.
Our 2021 was very much the same
But at least we were able to enjoy life’s game.
We traveled to beaches and hikes by car.
Hocking Hills, Gulf Shores, North and South Carolina-not too far.
We celebrated our Granddaughters’ special events
Their hard work on Bas Mitzvahs and arties in tents.
Enjoyed our families with dinners and sports.
And got to see friends for togethers of all sorts.
We experienced life’s joys as well as life’s sorrow.
Losing a dear friend -the funeral is tomorrow.*
We are all getting older making moments more dear
And grateful for the time we have left to be here.
Steve and I still enjoy our time with each other
And also our separate interests so we don’t smother.
For Steve it is stocks and sports, and caring for his back.
For me it’s my coaching, courses, reading, cooking and keeping nutrition on track.
Together we enjoy sharing The Enquirer and New York Times
Dinner with Netflix and Date Nights with wine.
Daily walks, evening talks, kids and grandkids and dogs.
Reading and writing and updating blogs.
That’s enough of our ramblings. I hope you don’t mind.
Us telling our year’s story in rhyme.
You take care, stay safe and most of all well.
Can’t wait to hear the stories you’ll tell.
* Poem composed by Mary on 12/30/2021
Feeling the Wings You’ve Grown, Lifting…Rumi
The photo of the swan was taken on our trip to Oregon many years ago, but I will never forget this day and the beautiful show of wings.
I love this poem full of positivity and blessings. We don’t grow in our comfort zone. Sometimes our greatest blessings are found in our pain. We have all felt it during this time of uncertainty, but can we admit there have been blessings along the way. Keep looking.
Rumi says it so well in this poem, Feeling the Wings …“ But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation, so everyone will understand the passage,We have opened you.”
How have you grown during this time? What are your blessings? Where are your wings taking you?
Who gets up early
to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who comes to a spring thirsty
and sees the moon reflected in it?
Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his lost son
and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down and brings up
a flowing prophet?
Or like Moses goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?
Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to the other world.
Soloman cuts open a fish, and there’s a gold ring.
Omar storms in to kill the prophet
and leaves with blessings.
Chase a deer and end up everywhere!
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop.
Now there’s a pearl.
A vagrant wanders empty ruins.
Suddenly he’s wealthy.
But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.
Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you’ve grown,
(Taken from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks)