Tasty Rituals that Deepen the Holiday Spirit The holiday season is ripe with an array of spiritual, cultural and family rituals. We celebrate, reflect, give gifts and, of course, feast. Fortunately, the media also teems with tips on how to avoid high-calorie holiday goodies, says Dr. Michelle May, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. For our diet-driven culture to resolve its struggle with food, she says we must learn to honor its intrinsic value. Ritualized eating can help; a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science found that engaging in food rituals evokes mindfulness that enhances the enjoyment of eating. Pause Hunger, the body’s fuel gauge, manifests in physical symptoms like a growling stomach or low blood sugar, says May, citing a useful analogy. “You wouldn’t drive around and pull into every gas station you see; you’d check your fuel gauge first. Before filling up with food, pause and check your fuel gauge. Am I actually hungry, or is this desire coming from something else?” May suggests practicing FEASTing: First, focus on physical sensations, thoughts and emotions; perhaps we’re thirsty, rather than hungry, rationalizing that holiday foods are special, or feeling stressed or lonely. Next, explore why the feelings or thoughts are present, and then accept them without judgment. Strategize ways of satisfying the need and take a small step toward change. Savor Complex preparations for a major holiday can provoke anxiety and impatience, and likewise, feelings of longing or disappointment when it’s over. Sarah Ban Breathnach, bestselling author of Simple Abundance and Peace and Plenty, recommends allowing Christmastide to unfold at its own pace and celebrating all of December with a homemade Advent calendar. Craft a tree-shaped tower of tiny boxes or a garland of burlap mini-bags clipped with clothespins. Place and almond covered in organic chocolate in each container and use the treat as a daily mini-meditation. “Drop into the present moment, fully savor the luxurious, small bite and experience the pleasure of eating,” suggests May. Consider it symbolic of the season’s sweetness. Connect “Food connects us with one another, our heritage and our culture,” says May. Heather Evans, Ph.D., a Queen’s University professor and a holiday culinary history expert in Ontario, Canada, suggests creating a food diary of traditions to reinforce a connection with the past and support a holiday food legacy for the future. Ask grandparents about their childhood culinary memories, peruse family recipe books or discover new dishes that honor everyone’s ethnic heritage. Then create an heirloom holiday cookbook with handwritten recipes arranged alongside favorite photos and stories. Sync According to pagan philosophy, sharing seasonal food with loved ones during the winter solstice on December 21 symbolizes the shared trust that warmth and sunlight will return. Eating warm foods provides physical comfort and eating seasonally and locally connects us to the Earth, observes May. Sync body and spirit with the season by stewing root vegetables, baking breads, sipping hot cider and tea, and nibbling on nuts and dried fruits. “The repetition of predictable foods is reassuring,” remarks Evans, and it celebrates nature’s transitions. Play Stir-Up Sunday is a Victorian amusement filled with fun, mystery and mindfulness, says Ban Breathnach. Some December Sunday, have each family member help stir the batter of a special Christmas cake while stating a personal new year’s intention. Drop a clean coin, bean or trinket into the mix and bake. Serve it with a sprig of holly on Christmas Day; and the person with the piece containing the lucky charm will be rewarded with a prosperous, wholesome and positive new year, according to tradtion. Evan remarks, “This is a wonderful ritual for nurturing the health and spirit of the family.” Give Boxing Day offers something far more meaningful to celebrate than post-holiday sales. Originating as a tradition that thrived during the 19th century, “December 26 was a chance for land owners and homeowners to give back to household staff and local tradespeople,” says Evans. “It’s a tradition worth reviving to pause, reflect on our own good fortune and contribute to others’ comfort.” Consider serving a meal at a local soup kitchen, collecting items for a food drive or offering a box of healthy culinary treats to community stewards at a fire station, post office or library. On Christmas Day, says Ban Breathnach, “Our kids have the world lying at their feet.” Boxing Day, she says, provides a natural transition to reach out in charity. Article by Lane Vail, a freelance writer and blogger at DiscoveringHomemaking.com
November has to be one of my favorite months of the year. It’s a time where family, friends, neighbors and even those who you don’t know come together and enjoy each other’s company over Thanksgiving dinner. One of the things I enjoy and am thankful for is to volunteer at the Mustard Seed Thanksgiving Feast that they have every year for the families and neighbors of the community who have no where to go or don’t have any family.
A reminder that what you have is truly a blessing. If you happen to live in or close to Fort Pierce, Florida and you would like to come volunteer, you can just show up on Thanksgiving Day at 8:00 a.m or anytime before 11:00 a.m. and help out, we would love to have you join us. 772-465-6021 The Thanksgiving Feast will be located at the corner of 9th Street and Orange Ave., Fort Pierce, Florida (it will be in the grassy area right next to where the old St. Anastasia School used to be). There is also a location for our Port St. Lucie friends, which is The Dream Center, located in the Kings Plaza, 7646 S. U.S. Highway 1, Port St. Lucie, Florida. 772-777-5425.
If you are not able to volunteer on that day, you can also make donations. You can call the numbers listed above for more information.
Hope to see you there and maybe make some new friends!
Peace, love, blessings,
Good morning friends, neighbors, followers! Happy Sunday! I had the chance to see a movie called “The Ultimate Gift” which was not only an inspiration, but came with a message. Throughout the movie was a list of “ultimate gifts” that when you read them, you may not see some of them as such, but if you really think about it, they can be.
1. The Gift of Work– See your job as more than just a way to pay your bills. Whatever work you are doing, be thankful and know that you are helping someone or a group of someone’s in a bigger way than you could possibly imagine.
2. The Gift of Money– This is a reminder of the famous saying: “It is better to give than to receive” Now, I’m not talking about giving the gift of money to receive it back, that’s not the reason to give at all. We all have love and compassion which resides in our heart and we have the opportunity to share our blessings with someone who is not so fortunate. Maybe it’s a certain someone who is close to you that is behind on their rent or just needs a little extra money to pay a bill. Whatever the circumstance may be, sharing is caring. When you perform random acts of kindness, you will see how the universe opens up to you.
3. The Gift of Friends- “A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.” ~Elbert Hubbard
A true friend is hard to find.
That’s why when you come across one; you should hold onto them and cherish the joy that friendship brings. Friends help you be honest with yourself and they keep you from doing things that you might regret.
They are confidants, counselors and coaches. Friends helps you be you without apology.
4. The Gift of Learning- Learn to learn. There is so much information available on this planet and there is never too much you can learn. Maybe take some time to learn a new language or learn about different cultures. The possibilities of the mind are endless.
5. The Gift of Problems- You don’t begin to live until you’ve lost everything. Try not to see your problems as a failure or that you have been defeated. Instead look at them as an experience and what may be coming to you as a connection to something that will be beneficial for you and your life journey.
6. The Gift of Family- Spending time with family is a blessing. But maybe for some of us, being around our family is not our cup of tea. Yes, it’s possible that some members of our family can be a little difficult to be around or that we just don’t see eye to eye on some things. However much we may dislike our family at times, they are still our FAMILY and that in itself is a precious gift. Take time to be with family, because life is short and that little effort that you make means more than you could ever realize.
7. The Gift of Laughter- See life as joyous. Laughter is the best medicine, no matter who you are. Did you know that it takes more muscles to frown than smile? So, we should be smiling and laughing a lot! Besides that, laughing is just plain fun! So, go ahead….live, love and laugh, laugh, laugh!!!!
8. The Gift of Dreams- We are all free to dream. What was your dream when you were a child? Did you want to be a prima ballerina, a fireman, the president? What about as an adult? What is your dream? Have you made that dream/dreams reality? What is your life-long dream?
9. The Gift of Giving- Being generous is one of the greatest gifts. Giving is an act of kindness. It doesn’t have to necessarily be in the form of money, it could be clothes, food, your time. Giving someone a HUG!!!!
10. The Gift of Gratitude- Learn to be thankful for what you have. You might not have that shiny new car or that big house you always wanted or millions of dollars in the bank. Don’t focus on the things you don’t have, be grateful for those things that you do. Little things mean a lot.
11. The Gift of A Day- What would you do with your last day on Earth? Cherish every day and take those extra moments to look around and enjoy the outdoors, a friend, your husband/wife, your mom/dad, your kids.
12. The Gift of Love- Love unconditionally. We are on this planet to love each other, no matter what color we are, what religion, male, female. We are all one! Love as much as you can because that is the biggest gift of all!
Here we are…..Friday! The infamous day that starts the weekend for most of us hard working, dedicated humans. Why is it that everyone gets especially excited when Friday comes rolling around? Could it be that we can’t wait to dive in and enjoy the plans we made for the weekend? Maybe it’s that special someone you just can’t wait to see and embrace each other’s unique and wonderful qualities. Perhaps you get to see your children and share what they like to do, and it just so happens that you become a child yourself.
Yes, we can all say that Friday has been a kind of celebration day. But why not look at every day as something to celebrate? Every day we wake up is a precious gift. The sun is shining, maybe the birds are serenading you a sweet melody. Squirrels may be playing in the trees. It’s the simple things that we sometimes forget to stop and take a moment to enjoy.
Whatever you plan to do this weekend, make it awesome! Have fun, laugh out loud, get silly, love a lot and smile!!!!! May this day and everyday bring you peace, love and happiness!
In counting our daily blessings, we find that even uneventful or difficult days possess precious gifts. Consider all the contributions that make it possible for family members to gather for the holidays–the workers that helped construct and keep up the vehicles that brought us here, the house where we come together and the trees that light the fireplace. Consider the food that nourishes us, thanks to the Sun’s energy, Earth’s minerals and rain and the labor of the farmers, processors, truckers, retailers and cooks. Whether or not the holidays fulfill our expectations, we have much for which to be grateful.
As the Buddhist monk THich Nhat Hanh points out, every blessing is the gift of the universe. When we stop and really look, we see that we are supported continuously in countless ways.
Author Roger L’Estrange noted in the 17th century how humans tended to “mistake the gratuitous blessings of heaven for the fruits of our own industry.” We awaken when the alarm goes off due to the skill of the technology’s engineers, designers, assembly workers, distributors and salespeople. We can turn on the light because power company workers are supplying the electricity. Our morning spiritual practice is the gift of generations of teachers and writers that observed the truth and shared what they learned. It feels good to be bowled over by each moment of grace and the simplest act of kindness.
Such gratitude flows when we break out of a petty point of view–with its self-centered expectations and demands–to appreciate that through the labors, intentions and existence of an inconceivably large number of other people, life forms and elements, we have been given the miracle of life, with all its present goodness. This heightened awareness of our connection spontaneously fills us with a joy and gratitude that transforms our experience. Thankfully, gratitude can be cultivated. It simply takes practice in being present to what is being given.
It helps to stay aware of some of the most pernicious obstacles to thankfulness, and one of the most obvious is the failure to notice what we have, including a roof over our head and someone to love. As Joni Mitchell sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” So the first step is to start paying attention to gifts that have always been there, but until now went unnoticed and unappreciated.
We are rich in what counts and never truly alone, because we are always supported by the universe. The 13th-century mystic Meister Eckhart counseled, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.”
Frank Jude Boccio is the author of Mindfulness Yoga (MindfulnessYoga.net).
Softening your attitude opens your heart.