Mindfulness, Thoughts

Thoughts On An Orange

Oranges

Photo by Jackelin Slack on Unsplash

And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China.
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover.
Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

Sitting in the morning stillness, the fresh, tangy-sweet aroma of an orange being peeled suddenly filled my senses. My mouth watered and I immediately plunged into a whirlwind of thoughts …about oranges!

I thought of how I love fresh oranges but detest orange juice. I remembered how much I used to like eating an orange and a banana at the same time. First eating an orange segment, then following with a bite of banana — the best sour and sweet combination, ever! Oh, does anyone else remember orange/banana flavoured Jello?

My thoughts wandered to childhood Christmases, when I eagerly looked forward to our first box of mandarins of the season —Christmas Oranges, we called them. In those days, the small, round fruit came packed in a small wooden crate, each orange wrapped in green tissue paper. I remember how my siblings and I would marvel at how easy they were to peel and how sweet each little segment tasted. I remember the pure joy those oranges brought us!

Pictures of orange-flavoured candy and sweets danced in my head. Terry’s Chocolate Orange, the fruit made out of orange infused chocolate — which would break into segments just like the fruit. Orange jelly slices — artificially flavoured and covered in sparkly, white sugar, candy corn on Halloween, candied orange peel, and that [shudder] orange cream hiding in the box of assorted chocolates.

Aack!!! All that sugar!!

Somehow these memories led me to reminisce about my favourite muffin recipe — Oatmeal Orange muffins — made by soaking the oatmeal in orange juice, and adding in orange zest to enhance the flavour. I lost the recipe long ago and have never been able to find it — even my BFF, Google has failed to turn up the instructions!

Then I started thinking about the different kinds of oranges you can buy at the market. Navel oranges with their funny belly buttons; round Valencia oranges; the deep, red flesh of Blood oranges; Mandarins, of course, and the pretty Satsuma oranges. Sweet, juicy and oh, so fragrant!

My last thoughts — were centered around one of my most beautiful Mother’s Day gifts — a lovely, indoor orange tree. I can see it in my mind’s eye the tiny white blossoms nestled in the dark green leaves — a few baby oranges hanging from the branches. I loved to breathe in the delicate, orange perfume of the flowers. Alas, this thoughtful gift did not last long (not an unexpected event in my house — I LOVE plants, but I have the opposite of a green thumb!!)

All these memories rising up from the scent of a freshly peeled orange! I am grateful to live in a world where fresh fruit grows!

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Mindfulness Thought:
“Take the time to eat an orange in mindfulness. If you eat an orange in forgetfulness, caught in your anxiety and sorrow, the orange is not really there. But if you bring your mind and body together to produce true presence, you can see that the orange is a miracle. Peel the orange. Smell the fruit. See the orange blossoms in the orange, and the rain and the sun that have gone through the orange blossoms. The orange tree that has taken several months to bring this wonder to you. Put a section in your mouth, close your mouth mindfully, and with mindfulness feel the juice coming out of the orange. Taste the sweetness. Do you have the time to do so? If you think you don’t have time to eat an orange like this, what are you using that time for? Are you using your time to worry or using your time to live?”

~ from: The Moment is Perfect by Thich Nhat Hanh Read the entire article.

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Mindfulness

Changing My Mind

With the world today in turmoil — there seems to no end to the rampant cruelness and tragedy everywhere, I struggle to maintain a positive and hopeful outlook.

I needed a way to gain some equilibrium — to break out of this feeling of impending doom that was leaving me worried and full of despair.

After reading about others’ experiences, I decided to employ three strategies to help me get back on track.

Practice mindfulness. Living mindfully gives us room between our selves and our reactions allowing us to live with intent, wisdom and compassion. As Deborah Schoeberlein David writes: “…Stressed thoughts, words and actions can easily hurt others. The more balanced my emotional state, I less I risk harming others. The steadier and more emotionally healthy I become, the more energy and intention I have to contribute positively in my relationships and the world.” [Practice Mindfulness for Living Mindfully — Huffpost, May 17, 2016]

But how, you may ask, do you learn to live mindfully?

As with any new skill, there are steps and guidelines to follow as you work towards a goal. Luckily, we live in an age where information is virtually at our fingertips (have you met my BFF, Google?) A quick search brought up a plethora of articles, tips, and tutorials that can help.

Developing mindfulness can begin with learning to meditate — and learning to meditate does not need to be complicated. Simply sitting quietly for a few minutes every day while you pay attention to your body and your breath — can prepare you to build a meditation practice.

If you are interested in mindfulness and meditation, checkout Getting Started With Mindfulness 

Show gratitude. It may seem obvious — everyone knows that being grateful can help to change your attitude, but we sometimes forget to look for and recognize the good things in our lives.

Studies have shown that expressing gratitude can improve your health and the health of those around you. Being grateful can benefit your relationships, help you get a better sleep and improve your productivity. Read this, to find out more.

Practice compassion. Compassion connects us to others and is considered a natural human instinct that is essential for a healthy and happy life. Like gratitude, compassion can improve our relationships with others and benefit our physical and emotional life. Discover 10 Scientific and Medical Reasons Why We Should Be Compassionate 

Interested? Try this simple Mindful Challenge from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

I’m already feeling better as I move to put these three tactics into action and to learning more about living mindfully.

Here are more great resources to help you get started:
12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools
mindful — healthy mind, healthy life
Zen Habits

Do you practice mindfulness? Tell me about it — I would love to hear about your journey!

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8 Ways to Happiness

Blog Post #326

We are all looking for ways to improve ourselves. Here are a few steps to be happy and content that I have found useful. I believe the fifth one is the most important step to take and it is easier than you think! The sixth one is the most fun!!

Dancing

10 Steps to Happiness

  • Be humble
  • Laugh at yourself more often
  • Listen more, talk less
  • Smile, it’s contagious
  • Be grateful
  • Dance with abandon
  • Inspire others
  • Teach others
  • Give generously
  • Love unconditionally

How do you get happy?

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What I Found in My Mailbox

Blog Post #309

I received a card in the mail on Friday. I had been expecting it any day — I get one every year around this time and to be honest, I always dread its arrival.

The card, from the BC Cancer Agency, Provincial Health Services Authority, is sent to remind me to book my annual mammogram. I am reminded to have a yearly screening because I have a first degree relative (my mom) who has had breast cancer. I am grateful that I get those yearly prompts — even though I’m always a little apprehensive to make that appointment.

appointment card

Still, I do make the appointment and I show up for the screening. I think about my good fortune that I live in a country where I have access to excellent healthcare that is provided to me by my government. I think about my mother, a senior on a fixed income. She was able to be diagnosed and treated for breast cancer without the worry of a huge medical bill looming over her. I am thankful for that.

And I think back to last April, when my 24 year old daughter was in the hospital for 11 days. During those long days, she had many diagnostic tests and scans from ultrasounds to an MRI. Daily blood tests, several dialysis sessions, IVs, medications, and ultimately a surgery. And all of this was covered by BC MSP. Which was literally a life saver, as she would have been unable to pay for that kind of medical care. (She is fine now, by the way, fully recovered and forever grateful for the exceptional care she received.)

Universal affordable health care — think about it — it’s good for everyone.

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A Daily List For Gratitude

Blog Post #249

Tonight, we are celebrating my eldest daughter’s 28th birthday.

When I look at her, l can still see the sweet little girl who brought so much joy to our lives. She has grown into a wonderful, kind and loving young woman — everything a parent could want in their child. I am grateful to have her in my life.

morning scene image

Thinking about feeling thankful, I was reminded of an inspiring quote that expresses a compelling list of daily gratitudes — which I feel, are key reasons to be happy in life. What makes you feel grateful?

“Each day I am thankful for
Nights that turned into mornings,
Friends that turned into family,
Dreams that turned into reality, and
Likes that turned into love.”
~ unknown

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Illumination

Blog Post #226

I was a little worried all day at work. Today, was the first snowfall of December and the traffic had been horrendous as people tried their best to drive smoothly and safely in the wet, sloppy, slippery stuff.

My co-workers and I checked the weather often throughout the day, peering out the windows, trying to decide if it was raining or snowing. It was — sometimes fluffy white flakes drifting from the sky, sometimes a sleety kind of rain pelting down.

sunset-dec-05

The snow was the main topic of conversation — we speculated on how slippery the roads would be, how much snow would fall, would it stick? We checked the forecast for tomorrow — just how cold would the night be? Cold enough to freeze the snow on the roads into treacherous ice? We worried about buses, pedestrians, cars and slippery streets.

At the end of the work day, I rushed out of the office, in a hurry to catch the bus. It was slow going — the sidewalk was a sloshy, icy mess. I took to the road which was clear and dry (well, drier).

At the bus stop, I watched as the sun illuminated the clouds bathing the sky in lovely hues of pink and orange. A gorgeous sight!

A moment to feel gratitude and a scene to remember.

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Happy Thanksgiving — 4 Ways to Be Grateful

Blog Post #177

Today we had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. We gathered at my mother-in-law’s place to help her celebrate the holiday — to get together with each other as a family. We each brought some food to share around the table.

Feeling thankful that we were able to come together, we chatted, told family stories, laughed and reminisced.

turkey-dinner

 

I was reminded as we were eating that this was a celebration of gratitude and it made me consider the way I could become more aware on a daily basis of the abundance in my life.

There are many ways to show gratitude but sometimes we need reminders to help us appreciate and recognize everything we have in our lives. Here are four ways to become a more grateful person.

Start the day with thanks
By thinking of the things to be thankful for soon after you wake up can help you feel more positive. Writing your list in a gratitude journal will help you remember the good things in your life.

Say thank you
Adopt an attitude of gratitude and show your appreciation for all the goodness and beauty that surrounds you. Say thank you, smile and acknowledge those around you.

Celebrate every day
Look for ways to appreciate the day  — the sun shining through the trees, a friendly smile from a stranger, or the refreshing taste of your salad.

Be generous
Sharing your abundance with others is a great way to show appreciation. Be generous with your time, your knowledge and your heart. You know what they say: “Sharing is caring.”

Be kind to yourself and others
Kindness creates positivity and spreading kindness helps to create generosity in others. You never know when your acts of kindness will make a difference — but they will.

These four tips can help us all to become more grateful. We can all work together towards making every day a day of thanksgiving.

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The Great Lesson in Life — Wednesday Wisdom

Blog Post #173

“The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends and family, in one’s backyard.”  ~ Abraham Maslow

Girl on a swing

This quote reminds me of the beauty, wonder and abundance that is mine to behold every day. I have so much to be grateful for — and I truly am thankful for it all.

I know that I often take these things for granted and sometimes I dwell too much on “stuff” that is inconsequential to my happiness and well-being. Why is it so easy to slip into a place where negative thoughts and petty resentments fill our hearts?

These words bring help me to remember that life is beautiful even in my darkest moments. When I look at my life with gratitude, my heart fills with happiness. When I am happy, I find it easier to deal with those negative thoughts. I still think them, of course, but I now I can acknowledge them then let them slip away.

I will continue to focus on recognizing the sacred in the ordinary, everyday life of this beautiful world.

I am thankful for all that I have — a roof over my head, food in my belly, family and friends that I love (and who love me), freedom to live as I like and the power to be me!

 

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Can You Make Yourself Happy — What Does Science Say?

Blog Post #145

A friend of mine shared an article on her Facebook page — New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy.

happy

The article says, right at the beginning, there is a lot of “stuff” on the internet on happiness — countless ways to be happy, why being happy is good for you, happiness challenges (see my post on 101 days of happiness, here and here) And as it points out, a lot of it is written by people who don’t know what they are talking about.

I believe in choosing happiness, finding and expressing gratitude and spreading love through random acts of kindness. So, of course, I was curious to learn what neuroscientists had discovered about happiness and the brain.

The rituals that neuroscience has found to be instrumental in helping you to be happy are: feeling and expressing gratitude, naming your negative feelings, making a decision, and reaching out to touch someone.

I found it interesting that one of the best ways, studies have found, to combat negative feelings is to discover things that you are grateful for and to express feelings of gratitude. These efforts actually boost dopamine production in your brain, helping you to feel happier. And, even more fascinating, is that the search for gratitude is more important than actually finding something to be grateful for.

I like the advice of naming your negative feelings, as a way of acknowledging — not suppressing — those bad feelings and accepting them for what they are.  Also, I love the idea that making a “good enough” decision was more helpful than striving for the “perfect” decision.

As for human touch, well, I am a firm believer that hugs, pats on the back, and a gentle touches on the arm or shoulder, makes two people happy — the “huggee” and the “hugger.” And, as Charlotte Diamond said “four hugs a day, that’s the minimum, not the maximum”

If you’re interested, read the entire article. Tell me what you think — I’d love to know your opinion.

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8 More Things That Make Me Happy!

Blog Post #128

Another week has gone by, and I have been diligent about taking a “happy” photo every day. When I was putting the collage together for this post, I realized, again, how fortunate I am.

With every photo that I take, I am reminded that I am surrounded by abundance, beauty, and love. I see that I have more than I need in my life — and I am filled with gratitude. How lucky am I?

I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back (and in my closet), more than enough food on my table, friends, and loved ones. I live in a country that is not only beautiful, but is also a place where I have many freedoms and the ability to enjoy them. Not that my life is perfect — there are things that make me sad, frustrated and angry — but with each day’s image, I can see that my problems are small and my joys are huge.

This project has brought — is bringing me — a renewed appreciation for my life and everything that it holds. With every new photo, I can see that more clearly and any minor irritations, small hurts, and selfish desires are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

I love my life!

101 Days of Happiness

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