Personal Liminal Space – A Cross-County Move In the Space Between  

movingI’ve reflected on the liminal space we are all experiencing during this pandemic here: https://carolbrusegar.com/liminal-spaces-in-between-time/  It is a time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. Now I am in a specific personal liminal space. Within a few weeks, I will be moving from Nashville, TN to Cypress, CA to be near my family. They moved from Nashville to California four years ago and I am delighted to be joining them.

Preparing to Move in Liminal Space

The liminal space begins with the preparation stage – not what it used to be and hopefully not what it will be in the future. The differences from previous moves begin with paring down belongs as we typically do. All the precautions must be followed; so trips to donate boxes of books to a library’s used book sale mean masks on both sides, a cart that I must load and leave at the door. When I make deliveries of donated items to Good Will, I must unload the boxes and bags filling my car into bins. Their employees aren’t allowed to gather items or help in any way. Some things that I might have sought out places to donate to – magazines, for example – don’t seem worth the additional hassle and go into recycle bins. I won’t ask or accept offers of help in the packing process from friends to eliminate risks. When I must have people in for a moving estimate or to remove furniture that is donated or purchased, it will be with utmost precautions.

As departure time comes closer, there won’t be any in-person gatherings to say good-bye to groups of friends or others. Even if they were done carefully, following all the recommended precautions, we couldn’t hug each other. So we will have a Zoom gathering instead. This makes it a rather strange departure. Hopefully the future holds something better.

All of the details of safe reunion with my family after I have traveled across country also need to be worked out. It will be a challenge to reunite after nearly eight months with no visits in a responsible, safe way. (Normally I see them every 3 months.)

The Challenge of Downsizing Memorabilia

Another aspect of this process, which would have happened regardless of the external circumstances, is the significant downsizing of the memorabilia of my life. Perhaps because of the context of 2020, I am thinking of this process in a liminal space framework also.

I have carried many boxes with me through two moves – a collection of things that only certified pack rats (or treasure keepers in gentler terms) would continue moving. I have eliminated things in each of my past two moves and what I still have are some of the most precious. These include items from my mother who died 18 years ago: costume jewelry, her crochet and latch hook projects, table linens, aprons.

Then there are letters she wrote me over many years and over 60 years-worth of her diaries. The letters and diaries will be used for writing I plan to do and thus will make this move too. I am taking photos of many of the other things as remembrances and letting go of the physical objects. I am paring down remembrances from other family members and friends as well as 40 years of print photos. I feel as though I am in a space of letting go at a deeper level than before. The connection to the physical things that connected me to the people is in some way changing.

Hanging on to so many physical items has been my past mode of operation. The process of letting go of these keepsakes is a physical manifestation of the letting go of some of the other things I have had to release for the past several months. Some of them will never return in any form. Some will be recreated. All will stay in my memories.

Preserving the Meaning Without All the Objects

As I move through this, I am motivated and inspired to capture and preserve some of the memories and reflections for the future. I kept things in boxes and brought them along because they were valuable to me. How can the meaning of such things be captured in ways that will sustain me and touch or inform members of my family or others? How can I honor and share the meaning and lessons? That is my challenge and another opportunity from the liminal space of 2020!

Perhaps you, too, are exploring how to capture your experiences, your story, your memoir in writing. There are many books available to assist us in this process.  https://amzn.to/3gSo6bo

Here’s one that has a unique approach that I have found to be helpful:  https://amzn.to/32OyHiH  The Stories We Leave Behind: A Legacy-Based Approach to Dealing with Stuff by Laura H Gilbert

Liminal Spaces in Our Lives – the ‘In Between’ That Continues

Unknown, liminal, doorI certainly didn’t imagine a few months ago that the pandemic and its myriad impacts would still be affecting us on a daily basis as we move into September! I hadn’t thought much about such occurrences, and I must admit in retrospect that I wasn’t really affected mentally or in any other way by the most recent H1-N1 or Ebola epidemics. It was on my radar, but it didn’t impact my day-to-day reality.

And here we are entering the fall months, still in this space between – this liminal space. This description from https://inaliminalspace.org/ is helpful: “The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.”   I wrote about this concept earlier here: https://carolbrusegar.com/using-liminal-space-next-phase/

As the months have passed, more and more things have been revealed, not only directly related to the pandemic, but to all the other crises we have faced. I hear people pondering what it will look like when we have come to the other side of this – whenever that may be.

Eileen Button wrote an interesting post, “Welcome to Liminal Space” https://flushingview.mihomepaper.com/articles/welcome-to-liminal-space/  in which she invites us to use this space to be open to examination of our lives and reality on a broad level and as it applies to us personally:

“This season asks us to notice and evaluate what we’re doing to the Earth and all its inhabitants. It begs us to examine how we collect and distribute our wealth. It demands that we not only notice the vulnerabilities of our neighbors, but to work to change the systems that keep them oppressed. And it pleads with us not only to thank those whom we have labeled “essential,” but to ensure that equitable adjustments will be made so that our resources are placed where our gratitude is.

“In short, this liminal space is illuminating. It’s shining a light on us, which is sometimes unflattering as it shows us harder truths about ourselves and the society in which we live.”

Everyone Has a Role to Play 

How can this reflection and examination happen? Surely businesses and organizations are looking at some of these questions. Hopefully citizen groups and networks are or will be as we move into another season. Our elected officials on all levels are faced with the issues in stronger ways and must respond.

And we individually can reflect, write/journal and discuss it with others. Perhaps a virtual gathering on Zoom, Google Meet, etc. with specific related topics can be stimulating and generate some creative ideas and directions. Invite friends and acquaintances and try it out. It’s a process in which we all have a role to play.

If you are interested in learning how to use Zoom, there are lots of resources at Amazon.com https://amzn.to/3aZg3sb  or available through a Google search.

Journaling is an incredible and flexible tool and has so much to offer during times like these. If you would like to explore ways to use journaling, check out my free online course that introduces several uses: https://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-explore-the-possibilities-with-my-free-ecourse/

 

 

Using Liminal Space to Create the Next Reality in America

unknown, liminal, tunnel“It would be difficult to exist in this time of global crisis and not feel caught between at least two worlds—the one we knew and the one to come. Our consciousness and that of future generations has been changed. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle.”

Those words by Richard Rohr, author and theologian, articulate something many of us are feeling. It has been several months (for lots of us) of being under “stay at home” orders  or other restrictions so that the infection rates can be reduced and our health care systems can be likely to handle what comes in the long haul. The more that we hear about what is to come, the more caught between we can feel.

There is a word that describes this position.  Not a common word, but one that grasps the essence of what lots of people are feeling.  We are in liminal space. The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing.

Richard Rohr addresses this directly: “This global pandemic we now face is an example of an immense, collective liminal space. The very vulnerability and openness of liminal space allows room for something genuinely new to happen. We are empty and receptive—erased tablets waiting for new words. Liminal space is where we are most teachable, often because we are most humbled. Liminality keeps us in an ongoing state of …calling so-called normalcy into creative question.”

I see this perspective as helpful in providing a framework for the days ahead. The most significant things we can do are to use this time to examine what opportunities this massive disruption of our “normal” can offer.

What about our personal normal of the past do we consider important and life-giving to ourselves and others in our immediate circle? What things would we like to modify, change significantly or eliminate?

Then there are the larger questions within our communities and country. This crisis has revealed (to some) and amplified (to others) some of the ways in which our country is not life-giving and nurturing to everyone. The obvious examples are these:

1) the disproportionately high infection and death rates among our African American, Latino, and indigenous groups

2) the high infection and death rates in long term care facilities – nursing homes, assist living facilities, etc.

3) the dire effects of lack of health care services, facilities and insurance among people in rural America as well as among the communities of color mentioned above.

As we view these things – among others – in this liminal space, what do we want to do about them? There is so much pressure to “get us back to normal” which is not going to happen quickly. In fact, it will never be the normal we had several months ago. There are ways in which that is good. To simply return to what was is not in the interest of many, many Americans.

We are having an extended time to look at how we will live, work, educate our children and ourselves, take care of the vulnerable, and make our country a more just and lifegiving place for all of our fellow citizens.

Liminal space is where all transformation takes place. We are on a threshold and we will be here for a while. How will we use this time and space to ponder the next phase for ourselves, the organizations of which we are a part, our communities, and our country?

Journaling is an incredible and flexible tool and has so much to offer during times like these. If you would like to explore ways to use journaling, check out my free online course that introduces several uses: https://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-explore-the-possibilities-with-my-free-ecourse/

 

 

 

 

 

Nurturing Creative Thinking in Challenging Times

thinking

 

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” ~ Mary Lou Cook  

“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” ~ Edward de Bono

Our ability to be creative has been called upon so much during these times when everything is different, changing and unpredictable. It’s required for each of us to navigate daily life. And it’s absolutely necessary for anyone involved in leadership and management of a group or organization of any kind. “Necessity is the mother of invention” has new meaning and significance!

Sometimes we tire of the pressure to come up with new solutions in so many areas of life and feel as though we don’t have much left creatively. Perhaps that is you right now.  There are a few practices to consider which could re-ignite your creative thinking. They are simple and may not be new – but I have found it easy to forget or set aside some of these helpful tools in the midst of everything swirling around me.

Our creativity is needed for small, daily things that come up like managing the disappointments and desires of children (or adults in the household) who are frustrated and unhappy about restrictions. And it is needed for finding ways to navigate the larger and longer term things such as the future of your work situation and managing your home space longer term with changing use – work at home, distance learning for students, etc.

These approaches can condition your brain to tap into your creativity easily. Give these a try:

  • Expect yourself to be creative. Nurture the mindset that there are ways to address whatever you are facing that will be positive and fulfill the needs expressed. In other words, don’t give up.
  • Start an Idea Catcher or Idea Journal. Capture ideas you have about anything, whether they apply to immediate situations or not. By doing so you are reinforcing your recognition that you are creative – and you will also have things to consider acting upon in the future.
  • Have a virtual sharing session with a few people. We can be inspired by others and inspire them in return. This takes it a step beyond one-on-one conversations you may be having. Use whatever tool or platform works for you – Zoom, Google Meet, etc. You may want to choose a specific topic like how each of you are managing some shared concern or situation. Or it could be a sharing session about how each person/family has innovated to meet the changes of the past few months. There is value in naming, acknowledging and celebrating what you all have done to manage and thrive!
  • Have a virtual brainstorming session. Invite people who are dealing with or anticipating the same situation, for example ways to provide support for distant parents when travel is not advisable. Or creative ways to celebrate upcoming holidays safely. These interactions and exchange of ideas can help you re-focus on the creative ideas that work best for you and help you narrow down your options.
  • Focus on fractals for a few minutes one or more times a day. Take photos of some you see in nature and post them where you can see them regularly. It can both relieve stress and free your mind to be creative. (See my blog post here: https://carolbrusegar.com/use-nature-and-fractals-to-reduce-overwhelm-and-stress/ )
  • Practice asking yourself “What if….” questions that focus on positive possibilities like “What if making dinner every night is a positive, interactive activity for the family?” (The alternative is “What if making dinner is another disaster of complaining and whining?”)  Or if you are alone, “What if I learn a new craft that I enjoy?” (Rather than “What if I sit here in front of the television all day again every day this week?) The positive questions shift our thinking in amazing ways and ideas can flow easily.
  • Meditate for 5 minutes, using whatever technique works for you.
  • Deep breathe throughout the day. https://carolbrusegar.com/deep-breathing-for-stress-relief/

We are by nature creative. By nurturing our creativity we can enhance our lives now and in any situation in the future. As we look forward, creativity is going to be necessary on every level. This reality shaking time opens up possibilities for innovation that can be life affirming at all levels. I, for one, intend to expand my creative skills to take advantage of this.  Two resources I recommend are the following:

Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you are feeling fear about the future and your ability to creatively live in the coming months and years, this can be inspiring and helpful.

The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp.  Included are simple exercises that can expand your creative thinking as you go about your daily life.

 

 

 

Summer Superfood Smoothies For Health And Energy

smoothies Summer is winding down, but warm weather continues for many areas. I have noticed my early summer focus on healthy eating has diminished. Perhaps you have also. This is a good time to re-look at some options and boost our health and energy as we move into fall with all of its unique 2020 challenges.

If you’d like to refresh your memory of options of summer superfoods and what they offer, I wrote about them here:  https://carolbrusegar.com/great-superfood-choices-for-summer/

Why are smoothies such a good way to consume those great superfoods? Here are three good reasons.

Quick and Easy Preparation

Superfood smoothies are very quick and easy to prepare. They take literally 5-10 minutes at the most to prepare. Gather your ingredients, do any chopping, throw the ingredients into the blender and within a minute the smoothie will be ready to drink.

If you are preparing for one person, I hope you have a personal blender which makes the process easier. There are many varieties; check them out here: Personal Blenders

They Taste Delicious

You can combine ingredients to fit your taste preferences, either of green-based or berry-type smoothies. Eating or drinking something “healthy” that we don’t enjoy means we likely won’t continue consuming it very long. So experiment with recipes and variations to find combinations you love and look forward to drinking. (I suggest a great recipe book below.)

Drinking Your Smoothie in the Morning Starts Your Day With Energy

Although smoothies are great whenever you choose, there can be benefits to having one for breakfast. Of course, they are a healthier alternative to sugary cereals and high-calorie pastries. And they deliver lots of nutrients which will help you to feel more alert and energetic and ready to start the day.

Now, let’s look at a few tips for creating healthy superfood smoothies.

1) Use either fresh or  frozen ingredients

Fresh ingredients are great when they are easily accessible and economical. But frozen ingredients can contain just as many nutrients as fresh. If they were picked and frozen right after being harvested, they’re going to maintain the same level of nutrients as they had when they were fresh. Many times frozen ingredients are cheaper to buy, and there is less waste too.

2) Use natural flavorings

If you find your superfood smoothies to be a little bland, always use natural flavorings to enhance them. Did you know for example, that dates can help to add sweetness to a smoothie instead of sugar? Honey is also an excellent natural flavoring to add sweetness.

3) Add water to thin the smoothie out

If you find the smoothie is too thick, water is the best thing to use to thin it out. It’s healthy, readily available and will help to thin the smoothie out without adding additional calories.

4) Tailor your ingredients to your needs

Any superfood smoothie will provide a healthy alternative to many of the other things you might eat. Perhaps you would like to boost your immune system or want to take off some pounds. If you have those goals, you can research ingredients or recipes that will work for that.

5) Pair your superfoods carefully

Not all superfoods will go well together. So, when thinking of what to add in the smoothie, be careful to match the right superfoods together. Orange fruits and avocado or kale and almonds, are great examples of superfoods which work well together.

This cookbook will help you with both tailoring your ingredients to your needs and in deciding on combinations of superfoods. It provides recipes, indicates what they offer your health, and is a great reference. http://Simple Superfood Smoothies: A Smoothie Recipe Book to Supercharge Your Health

smoothy book

 

Dixie, Stephen Foster and the Song Track of Our Childhoods

 

The Golden Book

 

“I wish I was in de land oh cotton, old times dar am not forgotten,

Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

In Dixie Land whar I was born in, Early on one frosty mornin’,

Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land! Den I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray, Hooray! 

In Dixie Land I’ll take my stand to lib and die in Dixie.Away, away, away down south in Dixie….”

I picture myself as one of about thirty white children ranging in age from six to thirteen, in a rural one-room school near Stoughton, Wisconsin in the 1950s, heartily singing this song, “Dixie,” (as we did). It takes me back and it prompts questions about the role of music in our early years and what if any imprinting it may have done.

In those rural one-room schools that endured until the mid-1900s, one teacher taught all subjects to all eight grades, including music. I really can’t imagine managing all that. Of course, they relied on basic curriculums and standard songbooks. For our regular music time, we relied heavily on The Golden Book of Favorite Songs, A Treasury of the Best Songs of Our People.

The Golden Book was first published in 1915 with subsequent copyrights in 1923 and 1946. Probably thousands of schools used this popular volume around the country as a first exposure to American music for millions of children. The nostalgic value for many of us is indicated by the price of “vintage” copies of the 1946 edition on Amazon.com: $799.39 and $855.58. Now reprint copies are also available.

I remember not only using it regularly at school but also receiving my own copy as a reward from my teacher Mrs. Olson at the end of first grade. She had written in the front “To a very sweet girl with a very sweet voice.” Somehow through the years, I lost that special copy of The Golden Book but happened to find one of those reprints on Amazon.com some years ago.

I haven’t paid much attention to it recently, until reading a reference to “Dixie” – one of the songs I first learned in that book. I found my songbook to see if the authorship and background of the song matched and took some time to examine the whole volume. I have recently been doing a lot of reading and viewing about cultural diversity and how racist policies and practices have been built into American culture and commerce. A part of that is also understanding how the actual events of our history have been taught and told from a largely white view over the years. There’s so much more to learn to have a full view of who we are as a nation and why.

Looking at The Golden Book as an iconic mode of learning during at least half of the past century is quite enlightening. It is an interesting combination of three major elements: 1) patriotism: quotes from the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge to the Flag, The American’s Creed, and the Gettysburg Address plus all of the typical patriotic songs; 2) religion:  a responsive reading from the Psalms, several Christmas carols, and a group of typical hymns sung in Protestant churches; and 3) culture.

Culture is the theme of the majority of the songs. One category, “Folk Songs,” includes several Stephen Foster compositions – “Old Black Joe,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Old Folks at Home,” “Uncle Ned,” and “Massa’s in the Cold Ground.” Other songs in that category come from Scottish, Irish, English and other Northern European countries.

Reading the words to the Foster songs makes me cringe. I wish I remembered how I reacted to them when I was 7 or 10 or 12 years old. Our area of southern Wisconsin was all white and far enough from Milwaukee that we weren’t regularly exposed to the diversity and issues of that city as young children. These songs provide imagery, words written in dialect, and depictions of formerly enslaved people as missing and yearning for a return to those days. Noted in this section of “The Golden Book” is that Stephen Foster lived from 1836 to 1864, pre-Civil War. It states that he often visited “Negro camp meetings and there studied the music of the colored people.”

For example, from “Massa’s in the Cold, Cold Ground” –

“Massa make de darkeys love him, Cayse he was so kind,Now dey sadly weep above him,

mourning cayse he leave dem behind. I cannot work before tomorrow, Cayse de tears drop now.

I try to drive away my sorrow, picking on de old banjo. Down in de cornfield, hear dat mournful sound;

all de darkeys am aweeping.Massa’s in de cold, cold ground.”

What did we think about that? How did we process it? What messages were implanted that we couldn’t even articulate? How did the songs fit into what we were explicitly taught? I wish I had access to some of the textbooks we used back then. How did they address slavery and describe Black people? How whitewashed were the descriptions?

 Going back to “Dixie,” notes in The Golden Book indicate it was written by Dan D. Emmett to be performed by the minstrel group of which he was a part, Bryant’s Minstrels, in 1859. This all-white group that performed in black face was one of the most popular of the time. “It became the great inspirational song of the Confederate Army” notes also indicated. (I learned elsewhere that Emmett disavowed the song’s association with the Confederacy.) Minstrelsy was popular from the late 1830s into the 1920s and even beyond in various forms.

Have you thought about how the music you heard and sang when you were a child affected you? What kinds of songs were they? What were the messages, implicit, explicit and inferred? How might these still be affecting your beliefs and attitudes today? Ask those same questions about the music your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and other children are hearing and singing today.

As white folks striving to expand our knowledge and awareness of American history in all its dimensions so that we can change things that must be changed, this kind of learning and reflection is so important. It’s an essential part of creating a more perfect union.

10 Minute Tasks – a Way to Break Through Overwhelm Fog

List

Do you ever experience overwhelm fog – kind of like brain fog? I certainly do, especially at times when things are so uncertain, when it’s hard to plan, and when there are so many things to manage that are different from what we are used to.

You may have used a variety of systems to manage all the parts of your life – home, school, work, volunteer commitments, personal care and development, family obligations of all kinds. But things are so different these days and I, at least, am not finding the usual tools as helpful.

Perhaps when things settle down some, looking at options again can be helpful: ways that we can manage the details of life that are geared toward our own ways of thinking, organizing information and even our personalities.

Right now, I suggest starting with a short-term approach which can help with the tasks that really don’t take that long to do. Having a way to manage that seemingly unending volume of items, whether they are in the daily/weekly tasks that always need to be done or are steps to larger projects, can help clear the overwhelm fog AND provide a feeling of accomplishment.

I remember the idea of writing each of those smaller tasks on a small slip of paper and putting them in a large jar. Then, as you have time to do a simple item or two, you reach into the jar and grab one out and get it done. I always thought that was a pretty good idea, but never actually did it.

Here’s a similar approach that I recommend, using a “10 Minute Tasks” tool. This is shorthand for tasks that are quick to do, usually 10 minutes or less. If it takes more than 10 minutes but is still brief, it can be completed. Or if once you start, it is clear that for some reason it will take longer, you can consider putting it off to when you have more time. The idea is to accomplish those short tasks and check them off. It can be amazing the impact this has on the overwhelm fog.

You can try this out with a sample journal page, which you can download at the link below and copy as many pages as you wish.  You can also grab the list of 100 10 minute tasks to stimulate the creation of your own list.  Click here to get your samples:

10 Minute Tasks Sample Sheet

10 Minute Tasks List

 

Would you like the full set of pages to work with?  Email me at carol@carolbrusegar.com and request them. You can make multiple copies and use them as much as you would like.

 

Ways to Use Five Healing Spices to Boost Your Immune System

assorted spicesIn a previous post, A Spicy Approach to Staying Healthy, I introduced five healing spices that are likely in your cupboard and that can help keep your immune system strong. How can we use turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, and cloves to make a difference in our health?

Here are some suggestions for using each.

How to Use Turmeric

You can choose to use either the ground powder or the fresh turmeric root. The powder is easier to find. Turmeric is largely used in Indian dishes. So you can use as an addition to homemade curry.

Turmeric is a great spice for many savory dishes – roasted vegetables (try cauliflower), rice, quinoa and other grains. You can make a turmeric broth, adding ground turmeric to taste in a bone, chicken or beef broth. It can be the base for soups, or you can drink the broth. Adding turmeric to soup or chili is a good boost also. Start with a small amount and add to your taste.

Turmeric tea is the easiest way to have the spice daily. You can easily add it to a basic green or black tea, or in a turmeric milk. This is often called golden milk and combines any type of milk you like with turmeric and other spices. It’s a soothing tasty beverage.

A spice rub or marinade using turmeric, ginger and other spices you choose can be great for chicken, beef or other meats.

How to Use Cinnamon

You can purchase cinnamon as a whole bark, or in dried powder form. The powder has a stronger taste than the whole bark does.

The bark/cinnamon sticks can be added to water to enhance the taste as you drink the needed amount each day. I like to combine them with apple slices in my infused water. And of course adding a cinnamon stick to a wide variety of warm beverages like apple cider, chai teas and more enhances the flavor.

Powdered cinnamon is an extremely versatile spice that is used in all kinds of baked goods we especially enjoy in the fall and winter – anything with apples or pumpkin and much more.

There are many ways to add cinnamon to your daily consumption by sprinkling it on top of yoghurt, granola, fruit (especially apples, bananas, and pears), or ice cream. You can add it to smoothies, whether fruit or those including peanut butter, chocolate, or honey. Stirring a little into juice, tea, or coffee is also great. Another morning tip is to sprinkle cinnamon onto your coffee grounds; it will go through into your coffee as it perks.

Fall vegetables including sweet potatoes, squash, etc. taste great roasted with cinnamon.

How to Use Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne peppers are a staple in Southwestern American, Mexican, Cajun, and Creole cuisine. They are used as a powdered spice for seasoning and used whole in many Korean, Sichuan, and other Asian recipes. Exploring those dishes can add to your menu.

Cayenne can be added to spice mixtures for barbecue rubs, or marinades and to olive oil vinegar, and other ingredients for a salad dressing with a kick. Look for recipes for salsas and slaws that incorporate cayenne – fruit salsas can be greatly enhanced with them.

How to Use Cumin

Cumin is an essential spice for Indian curries and chutneys, and also in many Mexican style dishes. It also works well in a variety of rice dishes, stews, soups, pickles, barbecue sauces, and chili con carne recipes. It’s even good in muffins and bread mixes.

Roasted Cumin Potatoes are simple and tasty dish. Use cubed medium potatoes or new red potatoes. Coat them with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin, salt and ground pepper and bake on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

It is best to be conservative when cooking with cumin as its flavor can easily overtake a dish. You can always add more later.

How to Use Cloves

Whole cloves are often used to flavor warm beverages – apple cider, teas, etc. Put them in a tea infuser/strainer so they are easily removed when you are ready to drink. You can  stud ham, onions, glazed pork or beef with them before roasting or baking.

Powdered cloves can be added to dishes that use curry powder. A good way to tell when clove will be appropriate for more savory dishes is to think about what you use curry in. For example, an Indian dish that is using curry powder, like rice, will taste great with clove as an added spice.

Cloves are a good addition to Asian dishes and as a marinade for chicken, fish, or other meat with other species like turmeric and ginger.

And of course, cloves are great in baked goods that include cinnamon. They are so complimentary.

I hope this introduction to five spices that can boost your immunity and health has been helpful. Having all of these powerhouse spices on hand and using them as often as possible can make a difference. Perhaps turmeric is a spice you are less familiar with. To see what’s available, check this out: https://amzn.to/3eS4hQE   Stay healthy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Spicy Approach to Staying Healthy

SpicesAs we continue during a time of pandemic, our concern about not being infected by the COVID-19 virus persists and grows. We know the actions that will decrease our chances of that happening from our public health officials.

Generally boosting our immune system is critical even more than usual to ensure our general health and wellness. We need to keep our bodies strong, address deficiencies and be able to ward off other illnesses and conditions while living in this strange reality. Summer is a great time to focus on summer superfoods – fruits and vegetables that provide great nutritional value. I wrote about them here: https://carolbrusegar.com/great-superfood-choices-for-summer/  These can also help us drop the extra weight many of us have added during the past few months – the “quarantine fifteen” or so!

SPICES – Another Tool  for General Wellness and Strong Immune Systems

Used in holistic medicine, healing spices have numerous awesome properties which can be used as useful preventatives and to treat everything from the common cold to inflammation. The majority of spices on the market boast at least some healing properties and different spices offer different healing properties. But generally speaking they all contain a high level of antioxidants.

These antioxidants can help fight off free radicals, protect against heart disease and other serious conditions, and keep you looking and feeling younger for longer. They also contain great anti-inflammatory properties which can help with allergies and even help to ward off more serious health conditions.

Due to the strength of many spices, they can also be used to boost the metabolism. This really aids in weight loss, while also helping to provide a delicious kick when added to your meals.

To get the full benefits, you will want to purchase quality spices – a well-known brand and organic versions if possible. Organic spices often also stay fresher for longer due to their production and cultivation method. You may be suspecting that healing spices are exotic varieties which are expensive and perhaps hard to find. Fortunately, that’s not true! Some of the best healing spices to boost our immune systems are common ones that may be in your cupboard, even if you don’t use them in all of the ways that can be beneficial. Here are five:  Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Cumin and Cloves.

Top 5 Healing Spices to Boost the Immune System

  • Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the best healing spices you can use, particularly in terms of boosting the immune system. It’s closely related to ginger and has been used for its medicinal benefits for more than 4000 years.

It is the active ingredient, Curcumin, which helps to boost the immune system. It contains a high level of anti-inflammatory properties, required to ensure the immune system is functioning correctly.

  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the more versatile spices and it’s great for the immune system.

This is because of its impressive mix of antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. All work together to protect the immune system, as well as fight off numerous illnesses.

  • Cayenne

It doesn’t matter whether you use the supplement capsules or the real thing, cayenne will help significantly boost the immune system.

It contains a lot of Vitamin A and antioxidants. These don’t just protect the immune system, but they also ensure the body is better able to fight off any illnesses which may develop.

  • Cumin

Cumin seeds are often used as a spice to help boost the immune system. In fact, they’ve even been used in traditional medicine to improve a weakened immune system. When consumed daily, you’ll start to see a difference in how you feel within weeks.

It’s largely the spice’s Vitamin C content which makes it so efficient at fighting off illness and protecting the immune system.

  • Cloves

While largely used to improve oral health and ease toothache, cloves can also be used to boost the immune system. They contain an exceptional level of antioxidants which help the immune system fight off free radicals, as well as oxidative stress.

They’re also good for reducing the symptoms of infections and fighting off disease. Or, use them to fight off the common cold and aid digestion.

 Check your cupboard for these spices, and if any are outdated, replace them and start using them intentionally and regularly. In an upcoming post, I will share a variety of ways to use these spices and a few recipes.

 

 

 

 

Are You A Worrier? Managing Worry In Difficult Times, Part II

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 “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”  ― Corrie Ten Boom

Many of us consider worry a given.  It may be, as a friend often says, “Worrying about my children and grandchildren is a mother’s job. It’s what we do.” Or it may be accepting it as part of what your parents imprinted upon you as worrying was a strong part of their mode of living. “I just can’t help myself.”  I personally reject those characterizations.

Taking Control of Your Worries

While it may not seem like it, it is possible to take control of your worries. With a little patience, practice and persistence, you can become calmer and learn how to take control over your worry as soon as it starts to occur.

Here are some of the best ways to do that.

Create a plan

Having a plan in place to combat toxic worry can be very helpful. For this, you’ll need to write down all of the things you’re worried about. I suggested doing that in the previous post, http://carolbrusegar.com/managing-worry-in-difficult-times-part-i/.

Then consider what kind of worry each is – generalized, perfection, fear of making  mistakes, social or post-traumatic stress worry. (These are described in Part I.) Knowing this will help you in the next steps.

Once you have your worry list, you can start to think of ways to reduce them. How can you eliminate the worry and what steps will you need to take? Creating a little to-do list of things you can do to reduce the worry, and then ticking off the tasks as you do them will help you feel more in control of the situation.

Arm yourself with facts

You’ll often find that toxic worry stems from either a lack of information or the wrong information. You could be worrying about something that you don’t fully understand or have adequate information about.

So, if you want to take control, arm yourself with facts. Learn everything you can about the thing you’re worrying about. The more knowledgeable you are about the thing you’re worried about, the less you’ll actually worry.

One of the most difficult things about these times is that there either aren’t “facts” available or there are differing opinions which people claim as facts. Perhaps part of your worry is how to deal with these discrepancies as you make personal decisions. So taking steps to put boundaries around your worries can be helpful.

Allow yourself small worry windows

It may not be possible, or even healthy, to never worry about anything. Particularly in times of great uncertainty, there can be a role for non-obsessive worry. Make time to acknowledge your worries. Set aside small windows of time each day and train your mind to worry only during these designated periods.

Then, once the time is up, you aim to forget about your worries for the rest of the day. This allows you to use your time to take some action or just be in the present and enjoy what is. This creates a much healthier balance, ensuring you aren’t burying your head in the sand, but you also aren’t letting your worries take over.

Challenge your thoughts

When you start to notice those negative worrying thoughts, challenge them. It’s common to make your worries appear worse than they actually are – jumping to the worst-case scenario. Most of us are really good at asking what if this or that bad thing happened and dwelling on that.

Leave yourself open to the possibility that things won’t be as bad as you think. Identify healthier, more positive ways to look at the situation. Look at what the probability of the worst-case scenario happening is. Also look at whether the worry is helping or hindering the situation. If it isn’t helping, why are you giving it the power to control you?

Interrupt the cycle

Sometimes, you just have to interrupt the cycle. When you catch yourself worrying over something, turn your focus to something else.

Four things many people use effectively are exercise, meditation, deep breathing, listening to particular kinds of music, and reading.

Overall, toxic worry can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. However, there are ways to tackle and control it. The above are some of the best things you can try to take control over toxic worry and start living a happier, healthier life, even in these times of uncertainty.

You will find options of music for relaxation and meditation that can help interrupt the cycle and manage your worry here: Music for Relaxation and Meditation

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