It’s All Good (Even When It’s Rotten)

Moose in deep snow.

It’s February. The sun is out. Dressed in shorts and sandals, children are playing in the park under the watchful gaze of parents who sun themselves on chaise lounges or towels placed on the grass. Bicyclists ring their bells as they pass walkers on the trail. An ice cream vendor hawks his delicious confections nearby. This is how I imagine it anyway, this February so far away. It’s all about perspective, you see, for this might be the picture in Sydney, Australia, but here, in the northern hemisphere, we’re up to our eyeballs in snow and ice. Our landscape is two colors: blackish-green and white. So much white. We wake up in the morning dreading the commute to work, the new snow to plow, and the extra ten minutes it takes to suit up in fifteen layers to go outside. Ah, wouldn’t it be lovely to just slip on some … Continue reading…

‘I May’ May: A New Spin on Commitment

I started the month thinking about its name and the possibilities inherent in the word “may.” Finishing up my third continuous month of daily commitment to a chosen goal, I thought about loosening the reins a little and going with the flow for a few weeks. I’d commit to daily meditation but would try to relax on some of the other “should/ought to” thoughts I’d built up over the previous months. “I need to do my weights.” “I should drink more water.” “I really ought to wear something other than pajamas to work.” Those would be replaced with “may” statements. “I may do some qi gong today.” “I may work on my blog post.” “I may put on pants at some point.” I thought I’d call this my “I may May.” As it turns out, that’s not quite what happened… After Moose’s dental surgery in April, things were going pretty … Continue reading…

Start Small: My February Commitment Update

Start small. To build any habit, the number one tip for success is to start small. Nobody becomes a pack-a-day smoker by puffing down 20 cigarettes one day and saying, “Gee, that was fun. I think I’ll do that again tomorrow.” We don’t become overweight by waking up one morning and deciding to; we just make choices that, over time, add up to larger pant sizes and an unwavering love of elastic waistbands. In an earlier post, “February Commitment: My Loyalty Cocktail,” I discussed different types of loyalty we all have to one degree or another, and shared with you my commitment to stretching for 15 minutes every day of the month. The goal was threefold: To participate in a challenge with a friend and serve as her accountability partner; To improve my health; and To flex my commitment muscles and reinforce my loyalty to my own intentions. “Loyalty to … Continue reading…

February Commitment: My Loyalty Cocktail

As I snapped the leash on Luna, our three-year-old bundle of Husky-shaped trouble, I told her, “If only you could be trusted not to run away and chase things, we could let you off this thing.” We live in the country so off-leash dogs are common. Those dogs, like our trusty 15-year-old flat coat retriever, Moose, want nothing more than to sniff things in their realm and know better than to chase deer or stray too far from home. Luna gave me a look that said, “Try me,” but I knew that look. I knew it spelled another runaway dog retrieval mission so I didn’t even take it seriously. I knew that it really meant, “Try me, foolish human.” Then I thought about loyalty. At first I thought that she lacks it. Unlike Moose, who follows me from room to room, Luna doesn’t seem particular about the humans in her … Continue reading…

Gratitude

Moose

It seems like everybody’s posting gratitude statements this month, which is awesome. Research has shown that expressing gratitude has a host of physiological, psychological, and social benefits, including stronger immune systems, higher levels of positive emotions, and fewer feelings of loneliness and isolation. Plus, stating what we are thankful for makes us feel good in the moment, like giving ourselves a warm-fuzzy hug as we count our blessings. November is a great month for this, especially when the weather outside turns from delightful to frightful, our heating bills rise, and we find ourselves skating to and from our appointments and jobs on black ice. In the dark. Over critter-crossed country roads. As a dedicated journal writer, I scribble down my thoughts and emotions several times a week. Often my words are just shooting off ideas, sometimes they’re just venting, and sometimes they’re my truth. And, despite that I may gurgle … Continue reading…

Barney and the Four-Day Win

Barney the Owl

I’m Leanna, and I’m a four-day winner. What? No, wait, that sounds weird. Let me start over. I’m Leanna, and I practice four-day wins, a habit- and sanity-building program advocated by Martha Beck, PhD, in her book, “The Four-Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace.” While her program is geared toward weight loss, it can be applied to any goal in mind. How this works is that you choose something “ridiculously easy” that you can commit to for four days. At the end of each successful day, you give yourself a small reward. At the end of four successful days, you give yourself a slightly larger reward. You string a few of these four-day wins together and, voilà, better habit built. I like the idea of small rewards to reinforce good habits and choices. It seems like a great psychological tool to help my brain trust that … Continue reading…

Lunch Peak Lookout

Lunch Peak Lookout Sign

Out every window, I see mountains. The window directly in front of me, in fact, displays the rusty tones of autumn as the ferns turn red and the aspens shed yellow leaves onto a hill rising, rising, rising until almost out of my view. Living in a river valley as I do, tucked between tree-covered slopes that cast shadows on the barn well before the darkness falls across the lawns and landscapes of our neighbors, I’m always looking up. I always have trees and hillsides towering above me. It’s enough to make a person feel downright insignificant at times. So for me, going to a place like Lunch Peak Lookout is a treat. Going there with my sweetie and my parents is even better. We started off at Base Camp Clark Fork (a.k.a. my parents’ house) and drove up Lighting Creek Road for several miles, where we unloaded the ATVs and headed further up the dirt road with … Continue reading…

Real Food

Twenty pounds of hand-picked tree-ripened peaches

Every year, we make the trek to Greenbluff, Washington, or to U-Pick farms in the Spokane Valley, to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Each time, I’m inspired by the farmers that put their heart and sweat into their crops, who take such obvious pride in what they grow. I’m also overwhelmed at the variety and perhaps get too excited reading the signs along the road. “Oooh, this one’s got peaches, corn, and watermelon!” I say as if I’ve never before seen vegetables, like corn is some sort of exotic creature. “This one’s got scapes and Azomite…What the hell is a scape? And what is Azomite?” So, of course, we have to visit the farm to find out.  A scape, I found, is a garlic sprout. I’ve actually grown them unintentionally when I’ve left garlic bulbs in my fridge a few months too long. Azomite is a mineral powder used to grow nutrient dense foods. … Continue reading…

Wheat-Free Chocolate Cookies Save Me From the Puffer Fish

Many of us avoid wheat these days, not to be difficult dining companions, but because it makes us feel oogie, puts us in a brain fog, and bloats us up like agitated puffer fish. I don’t pay attention anymore to the latest scientific data that contradicts last week’s latest scientific data on whether or not wheat intolerance is an actual “thing.” All I know is that I’ve done personal studies using a small pool of subjects, including a control group (yes, yes – okay, OKAY! They were all ME!) and my research indicates that wheat makes me feel like a certain poisonous marine creature having a really rough day. Since giving it up, I now feel less like an angry blowfish and more like the lumbering land creature I am. But I still like cookies. I have two go-to recipes for wheat-free  cookies that give me hope that the rest … Continue reading…

The Pecan Sandy Experience

I have inherited many traits from my mother. Beyond our physical resemblance, I’ve also grown up to share her love of naps, Mexican food, and repeatedly singing out loud the two lines of whatever song is stuck in your head at the moment. The other thing we share is this notion that baking is a great way to fill an hour that hasn’t otherwise been committed to something else. I’m not sure I’d call it a “love” of baking. It’s more like a compulsion. Have bananas in the kitchen that are starting to turn brown? Better bake some bread with those bad boys.  Oh dear, that rhubarb isn’t going to last forever in the freezer. Better “crisp” it up! No cookies for work lunches next week? Get on it, woman. And, today, the pecans that I bought a few weeks ago screamed, “We’re not going to eat ourselves, you know!” … Continue reading…