Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gluten-Free Blog

Have a gluten issue? Celiac Disease? This blog by Shauna James Ahern makes it all seem wonderful and do-able. Wonderful stories, recipes, and photos. Long list of recommended websites, books etc. Give it a look-see, even if you aren't gluten sensitive, I bet you will enjoy this site.

"Her blog is a lively mix of recipes and life experiences...[She] is clearly a woman who loves the path she's on, and she writes with intelligence, passion, and humor."
- The Seattle Times

The only way to get
the best of an argument
is to avoid it.

Dale Carnegie,

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Burgers, Fries, Diet Soda: Metabolic Syndrome Blue-plate Special

Do we really need another article telling us how bad fast food diets are for our health? Apparently...

Burgers, Fries, Diet Soda: Metabolic Syndrome Blue-plate Special

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2008) — Otherwise-healthy adults who eat two or more servings of meat a day -- the equivalent of two burger patties -- increase their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 25 percent compared with those who eat meat twice a week, according to research published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including elevated waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels. The presence of three or more of the factors increases a person's risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

But it's not just meat that adds inches to the waist, increases blood pressure and lowers HDL -- "it's fried foods as well," said Lyn M. Steffen, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., co-author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.

Dairy products, by contrast, appeared to offer some protection against metabolic syndrome.

Steffen said that, "Fried foods are typically synonymous with commonly eaten fast foods, so I think it is safe to say that these findings support a link between fast-food consumption and an increase in metabolic risk factors."

The findings emerged from an analysis of dietary intake by 9,514 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study. ARIC is a collaborative study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Unlike other researchers who have investigated relationships between nutrients and cardiovascular risk, "we specifically studied food intake. When making recommendations about dietary intake it is easier to do so using the framework of real foods eaten by real people," Steffen said.

Researchers assessed food intake using a 66-item food frequency questionnaire. From those responses, they categorized people by their dietary preferences into a Western-pattern diet or a prudent-pattern diet.

In general, the Western-pattern diet was heavy on refined grains, processed meat, fried foods, red meat, eggs and soda, and light on fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grain products.

Prudent diet eating patterns, by contrast, favored cruciferous vegetables (e.g., cabbage, radish and broccoli), carotenoid vegetables (e.g., carrots, pumpkins, red pepper, cabbage, broccoli and spinach), fruit, fish and seafood, poultry and whole grains, along with low-fat dairy.

Researchers also assessed associations with individual food items: fried foods, sweetened beverages (regular soda and fruit drinks), diet soda, nuts and coffee.

After nine years of follow-up, 3,782 (nearly 40 percent) of the participants had three or more of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

At baseline, participants were 45 to 64 years old -- ages at which many people gain weight.

Steffen said that weight gain over the years of follow-up might explain some of the cases of metabolic syndrome. But "after adjusting for demographic factors, smoking, physical activity and energy intake, consumption of a 'Western' dietary pattern was adversely associated with metabolic syndrome," she said.

"One surprising finding was while it didn't increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, there was no evidence of a beneficial effect of consuming a prudent diet either. I had expected to find a beneficial effect because we have seen that in other studies."

When Steffen and colleagues analyzed the results by specific foods, they found that meat, fried foods and diet soda were all significantly associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome, but consumption of dairy products was beneficial.

The study did not address the mechanisms involved in the increased risk of metabolic syndrome seen with certain foods, but Steffen speculated that "it may be a fatty acid mechanism since saturated fats are a common link and certainly overweight and obesity are contributing to the development of metabolic syndrome." She also said more research on the relationship between diet soda and its association to metabolic syndrome is needed.

The fact that 60.5 percent of the ARIC population had metabolic syndrome at the start of the study or developed it during nine years of follow-up is troubling, researchers said.

Steffen said the study's results are clear: Too much meat, fried foods and diet soda, do not add up to a healthy life.

American Heart Association dietary guidelines for healthy Americans age 2 and older include:

* Limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium in the diet.
* Minimize the intake of food and beverages with added sugars.
* Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole-grain foods.
* Select fat-free and low-fat dairy.
* Eat fish at least twice per week.
* Emphasize physical activity and weight control.
* Avoid use of and exposure to tobacco products.
* Achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

(Article emphases added by J. Davies)
Co-authors are Pamela L. Lutsey, M.P.H., and June Stevens, Ph.D., M.S., R.D.

Adapted from materials provided by American Heart Association, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
American Heart Association (2008, January 24). Burgers, Fries, Diet Soda: Metabolic Syndrome Blue-plate Special. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 24, 2008, from

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nutrients in Broccoli May Help Protect the Heart

Do we really need more evidence to confirm the health benefits of broccoli? Apparently so, not sure the rats appreciate their role in the study, though. Be Well! Janis

Broccoli Good for the Heart , Say Scientists Studying Rats By Miranda Hitti

WebMD Medical News

Jan. 18, 2008 -- Here's another reason to eat broccoli: It may help your heart.

University of Connecticut researchers report that news after studying broccoli and heart health in rats.

The scientists brewed a broccoli extract and fed it to rats for a month in addition to regular rat chow. For comparison, they fed other rats water instead of the broccoli extract in addition to their regular diet.

After feeding the rats broccoli extract or extra water for 30 days, the scientists tested the rats' hearts. Some of those tests deprived the heart of oxygen, similar to a heart attack.

The rats that had eaten the broccoli extract had three heart advantages over the other rats:

  • Better blood-pumping ability
  • Less heart damage during oxygen deprivation
  • Higher levels of heart-health chemicals during oxygen deprivation

Broccoli's key nutrients include selenium and sulforaphane, which may also curb cancer, note graduate student Subhendu Mukherjee and Dipak Das, PhD.

Their findings appear in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chico Events: Snow Goose Festival, Jan 25-27

Those who know me also know that I am a bird freak. A non-Audubon, seat-of-my-pants, self-educated wild bird lover. Whether watching the feeders out my office window or watching the skies on hiking trails, while driving (!?), and listening for the unusual calls of the raptors and songbirds of any neighborhood, they fascinate me and take me out of my earth-bound world for a brief spell. With that in mind, let me share this notice of wild-bird focused activities and events held in Chico, CA.

With the estimated overall population of Snow Geese exceeding 5 million, as many as one and a half million use the Pacific Flyway. Tens of thousands of these will winter right here in our own backyard. So it is with these things in mind that we once again invite you to come and rediscover this magnificent spectacle of nature at the 9th Annual Snow Goose Festival.

No time to join yourself? Enjoy this peaceful, 2-minute Snow Goose Festival multimedia presentation of photography and piano music at

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Grief can lead to health woes if not addressed

I often appreciate Dr. Wilkes inside take on the medical community's blessings and faults in his Inside Medicine column of the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Here is a portion of today's article on complicated grief and the health issues it can lead to. He strongly recommends the medical community sit up and take notice of the risks for recently bereaved individuals to become ill, and to take advantage of the appropriative support services, perhaps even before things get out of hand. In our community these services include bereavement workshops and one-on-one counseling with trained volunteers with Sierra Hospice (530-258-3412); as well as bereavement & health information counseling with myself, Janis Davies, Cert. Whole Health Educator (530-258-0377, #2). One can also seek local services from Plumas County Mental Health, or Kathleen Hughes, LCSW (530-596-4857).

Inside Medicine: Grief can lead to health woes if not addressed

By Dr. Michael Wilkes -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, January 13, 2008

Excerpts from the article published today in the Sunday Scene section of the Sacramento Bee:

Is bereavement – a profound sadness – a disease? While it probably is not, the death of a spouse ranks as one of life's most stressful events.

Research has shown that the period following the loss of a significant loved one is associated with premature death, the onset of other illnesses, intense suffering and a high use of doctor's services.

Such physical and mental ailments are by no means universal, and studies suggest that profound grief reactions (such as suicide) are more common among certain groups based on risk factors.

(The author goes on to list these risk factors.)

Perhaps we need to think about "preventive bereavement" – an attempt by the medical community to reach out early to those at risk for serious reaction to grief.

I do not mean to suggest that all bereavement requires medical attention, because it does not. Grief is a normal reaction after a profound loss. But when bereavement becomes severe, or there is reason to worry that a person is at high risk for mental or physical deterioration, then physicians, social workers, hospice workers, clergy, counselors and even an occasional prescription drug can help ease the suffering.

For doctors, the message is that the loss of a loved one should raise a red flag that there may be a need for close follow-up.

For patients, remember that you don't need to go this alone. Doctors can help you find well-trained experts who can help. (See the resources noted above.)

Go to: Sacbee / Back to story - complete article here

This article is protected by copyright and should not be printed or distributed for anything except personal use.

The Sacramento Bee, 2100 Q St., P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852

Phone: (916) 321-1000

Copyright © The Sacramento Bee

Green companies becoming a corporate hot ticket?

I read with interest today in the Business section of the Sacramento Bee an article (culled from the New York Times, written by Louise Story, Jan 6, 2008) about Burt's Bees being sold to Clorox for $913 million. In 2003, AEA Investors, a private equity firm bought 80% of Burt's for 141.6 million. Odd bedfellows indeed. What caught my interest even more was the following list of acquisitions: L'Oreal paid $1.4 billion for the Body Shop; Colgate-Palmolive bought 84% of Tom's of Maine for $100 million. It seems there is a corporate trend toward purchasing "green" companies... to make themselves look better?

Clorox claims they are interested in learning from Burt's Bees socially and environmentally friendly business practices. Still, it causes one to wonder about the destiny of some of our favorite and trusted "small market" homespun brands. What stake does the mega-corporation have in knowing the origin & safety of each and every ingredient? What impact does great financial growth and success have on the end-product? The current chief executive of Burt's Bees, John Replogle, was hired by AEA and came from another household product mega-corporation, Unilever.

Replogle states all of the beeswax used by Burt's is coming from Ethiopia. There is no comment about whether this is fair trade or not. He does mention it has to be shipped across the Atlantic adding to the carbon emissions load the company must buy offsets for to remain "green". Currently, employee bonuses are based partly on how well the company meets energy conservation goals.

This train of thought reminds me of the corporate buyout of IAMS dog foods by Procter & Gamble, taking IAMS from a carefully fostered premium dog food company into the nationally super-sized arena. This kind of growth has it's own inherent risks. Loss of control over product quality remains a top concern, especially with all the recent tainted manufacturing products coming out of China. I am sure there are more companies that have already been sold or are on the verge of being taken over.

Hard to imagine where this will lead. Roxanne Quimby, co-creator of Burt's Bees with Burt Shavitz (who left the company in 1999), took a significant portion of her profits to purchase 100,000 acres of land she will try to restore to its natural state. She sees this as a guilt-free way of giving up control of the company that she helped build up from $3 beeswax candles sold at craft fairs in 1984.

My closing thought here is buyer beware... do we know the corporate history of our favorite trusted brands? Does that homespun identity still represent family values, healthy ingredients, holistic business practices and authenticity? It's worth checking out...
Be well, Janis 01/13/08

Note: the bulk of this article is based on the information provided in the NYTimes article; I apologize for any unforeseen errors that I did not personally research.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Choose Your Food, Choose Your Mood

Food can change your mood. Avocado’s Vitamin B-6 and folic acid stimulate production of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin. Barley’s Vitamin B-1 calms and relieves tension. Chocolate’s magic ingredients boost production of serotonin and endorphins, improving mood and dulling pain. Cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B-6, B-12 and folic acid. These substances help fight depression.

And then there’s chicken soup, which brightens mood, calms nerves and induces restful sleep, although just how this legendary cure-all works remains a mystery. But make no mistake, today scientists are discovering what our grandmothers’ grandmothers knew all along: foods can alter your brain chemistry.

Imagine choosing one type of food to alleviate anxiety, another to bolster brainpower, and yet another to curb your urge to splurge on that donut. A new field of pioneering nutrition research, often referred to as the study of food and mood, is confirming what many of us have always suspected: what and when we eat can affect our mind and mood, the tendency to pile on pounds, and even the quality of our lives. For example, to curb the urge to splurge on that donut, you could choose instead a lower fat, sweet-fat food combination, such as graham crackers, fig newtons, or hot chocolate made with skim milk.

Here then, are some nutritional prescriptions, recommended by leading food researchers, that will help you to be the director of your emotional drama rather than merely an actor in it. And happily, they won’t pack on the pounds.

Eating carbohydrate-rich foods (breads, cereals, pasta, fruits and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, winter squash or corn) elevates serotonin levels, helping you to feel more relaxed and calm. High protein foods (nonfat dairy products such as cottage cheese, yogurt or milk; or beans, peas and nuts) have the opposite effect: They release other substances that let you think and react more quickly, or feel more alert and energetic.

“Women may be more sensitive to changes in serotonin than men,” explains Catherine Christie, Ph.D., R.D., a food-and-mood specialist in Jacksonville, Florida. “When estrogen levels fall and progesterone levels are high, serotonin levels may drop.”

Elizabeth Somer, in The Food and Mood Cookbook, provides three rules for an energizing, non-fattening breakfast.

Rule 1: Combine high-quality carbohydrates with a little protein.
Rule 2: Avoid high-sugar and high-fat breakfasts.
Rule 3: Be time savvy. Time is no excuse to skip breakfast.

Lunch, says Somer, should “supply a balance of quality carbohydrates (whole grains, starchy vegetables, or legumes) and protein-rich foods (lean meat, chicken breasts, fish, legumes or non-fat milk products).”

Choose your food, choose your mood. Now you can select foods that will power your brain, modify your moods, and in the process make you a more effective, more motivated and more contented person.

1/07/08: taken from the Dr Clark Store and Self Health Resource Center email newsletter.

Friday, January 4, 2008

7 Pains You Shouldn't Ignore

Experts describe the types of pain that require prompt medical attention.
By Leanna Skarnulis
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Whoever coined the term "necessary evil" might have been thinking of pain. No one wants it, yet it's the body's way of getting your attention when something is wrong. You're probably sufficiently in tune with your body to know when the pain is just a bother, perhaps the result of moving furniture a day or two before or eating that third enchilada. It's when pain might signal something more serious that the internal dialogue begins:

"OK, this isn't something to fool around with."
"But I can't miss my meeting."
"And how many meetings will you miss if you land in the hospital?"
"I'll give it one more day."

You need a guide. WebMD consulted doctors in cardiology, internal medicine, geriatrics, and psychiatry so you'll understand which pains you must not ignore -- and why. And, of course, if in doubt, get medical attention.

No. 1: Worst Headache of Your Life

Get medical attention immediately. "If you have a cold, it could be a sinus headache," says Sandra Fryhofer, MD, MACP, spokeswoman for the American College of Physicians. "But you could have a brain hemorrhage or brain tumor. With any pain, unless you're sure of what caused it, get it checked out."

Sharon Brangman, MD, FACP, spokeswoman for the American Geriatrics Society, tells WebMD that when someone says they have the worst headache of their life, "what we learned in medical training was that was a classic sign of a brain aneurysm. Go immediately to the ER."

No. 2: Pain or Discomfort in the Chest, Throat, Jaw, Shoulder, Arm, or Abdomen

Chest pain could be pneumonia or a heart attack. But be aware that heart conditions typically appear as discomfort, not pain. "Don't wait for pain," says cardiologist Jerome Cohen, MD. "Heart patients talk about pressure. They'll clench their fist and put it over their chest or say it's like an elephant sitting on their chest."

The discomfort associated with heart disease could also be in the upper chest, throat, jaw, left shoulder or arm, or abdomen and might be accompanied by nausea. "I'm not too much worried about the 18-year-old, but if a person has unexplained, persistent discomfort and knows they're high risk, they shouldn't wait," says Cohen. "Too often people delay because they misinterpret it as [heartburn] or GI distress. Call 911 or get to an emergency room or physician's office. If it turns out to be something else, that's great."

He tells WebMD that intermittent discomfort should be taken seriously as well. "There might be a pattern, such as discomfort related to excitement, emotional upset, or exertion. For example, if you experience it when you're gardening, but it goes away when you sit down, that's angina. It's usually worse in cold or hot weather."

"A woman's discomfort signs can be more subtle," says Cohen, who is director of preventive cardiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "Heart disease can masquerade as GI symptoms, such as bloating, GI distress, or discomfort in the abdomen. It's also associated with feeling tired. Risk for heart disease increases dramatically after menopause. It kills more women than men even though men are at higher risk at any age. Women and their physicians need to be on their toes."

No. 3: Pain in Lower Back or Between Shoulder Blades

"Most often it's arthritis," says Brangman, who is professor and chief of geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. Other possibilities include a heart attack or abdominal problems. "One danger is aortic dissection, which can appear as either a nagging or sudden pain. People who are at risk have conditions that can change the integrity of the vessel wall. These would include high blood pressure, a history of circulation problems, smoking, and diabetes."

No. 4: Severe Abdominal Pain

Still have your appendix? Don't flirt with the possibility of a rupture. Gallbladder and pancreas problems, stomach ulcers, and intestinal blockages are some other possible causes of abdominal pain that need attention.

No 5: Calf Pain

One of the lesser known dangers is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that can occur in the leg's deep veins. It affects 2 million Americans a year, and it can be life-threatening. "The danger is that a piece of the clot could break loose and cause pulmonary embolism [a clot in the lungs], which could be fatal," says Fryhofer. Cancer, obesity, immobility due to prolonged bed rest or long-distance travel, pregnancy, and advanced age are among the risk factors.

"Sometimes there's just swelling without pain," says Brangman. "If you have swelling and pain in your calf muscles, see a doctor immediately."

No. 6: Burning Feet or Legs

Nearly one-third of the 20 million Americans who have diabetes are undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association. "In some people who don't know they have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy could be one of the first signs," says Brangman. "It's a burning or pins-and-needles sensation in the feet or legs that can indicate nerve damage."

No 7: Vague, Combined, or Medically Unexplained Pains

"Various painful, physical symptoms are common in depression," says psychiatrist Thomas Wise, MD. "Patients will have vague complaints of headaches, abdominal pain, or limb pain, sometimes in combination."

Because the pain might be chronic and not terribly debilitating, depressed people, their families, and health care professionals might dismiss the symptoms. "Furthermore, the more depressed you are, the more difficulty you have describing your feelings," says Wise, who is the psychiatry department chairman at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Va. "All of this can lead the clinician astray."

Other symptoms must be present before a diagnosis of depression can be made. "Get help when you've lost interest in activities, you're unable to work or think effectively, and you can't get along with people," he says. "And don't suffer silently when you're hurting."

He adds there's more to depression than deterioration of the quality of life. "It has to be treated aggressively before it causes structural changes in the brain."

Reviewed on January 04, 2008

Being Open and Present to Today's Gifts

Center for Balanced Living

What's Possible Now?
By Stacey Mayo

When you wake up in the morning, what is possible?
Beyond what happened yesterday, beyond what happened years ago, beyond what has been before?

What feelings might awaken if today was better than those previously explored?

What else is possible beyond that which you already know?
And beyond that which you have experienced heretofore?

What is available to you that you have not considered?
Be curious.
What resources lie in wait for your eyes to see in a whole new light?
Be willing to see.
What surprises might lie in the people you think you know, but really don’t?
Be open.

Who do you not yet know that you might meet today or tomorrow or the next day?
Who lives down the block from you, that you might have a great connection with – someone you have yet to meet.
Be curious; be enthusiastic; reach out.

What part of you lies dormant or suppressed waiting to be fully expressed in the world?

How might you allow that part of you to shine?
Who can be a mirror for you so that you can finally see and accept the greatness in you?

Today, allow others to be your mirror.
It is okay for your brilliance to shine.
And be a mirror for those around you
Allowing their brilliance to shine

Let them contribute their gifts to you and make a difference in your world

And know that you too can make a difference and that you do, every day in some small way

And most of all, remember to have fun, to play, to laugh, to sing, to dance.

And from that joy-filled place, know everything is possible, including that which has never happened before.

Date: November 15, 2007
Publisher: Stacey Mayo

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The challenges of stress may motivate us to greatness

I found this article to be a good counterpoint to the more typical teachings of stress management: to practice balance in our lives, to remove chaos when possible, to cultivate calmness in the storm. Dr. Travis's point that stress is necessary is absolutely true. We are not motivated to eat without hunger, or to work without the need to support our basic needs, fear drives us from harm, and love fulfills the heart's need for belonging. Be Well, Janis

Don’t Play It Safe

Don't get the wrong idea! This is not a plea for foolhardiness, but rather a challenge to you to express more of your tremendous potential. To do so you need to cultivate stress up to a point, and you need to develop an appreciation for the lessons and potential growth that disease or problems can afford you. You may have the impression that stress and disease are enemies and your job is to eliminate them from your life. But that is not true. Stress is necessary for life. Without it you’d be slithering on the ground instead of walking upright. Without it you’d be dead! Illness is a virtually unavoidable fact of life, and the sooner you accept it as a friend and teacher, the better off you will be.

The first step . . . shall be to lose the way.

- Galway Kinnell

We invite you to take risks—the kind that stretch you beyond your limited definitions of yourself and of what is possible. Life is a great adventure filled with impossible goals, which may seem beyond your grasp, but that you commit to all the same. To paraphrase Woody Allen, if you aren’t making any mistakes, or if people aren’t criticizing you, you probably aren’t taking any risks. You probably aren’t having any fun, and you certainly aren’t living and growing to your fullest potential.

Life is too close for comfort.

- Lee Lozowick

Health is a function of your participation in life. Those who play it too safe often end up lonely, isolated from others, or obsessed with their own health issues. Such attitudes limit one’s world and weaken the immune system as well. How about it? When was the last time you took a risk? Did something uncharacteristic? Committed yourself to a great task? Here are a few simple suggestions to help keep life "unsafe":

  • Avoid the well-balanced life. A life that is perfectly balanced is safe, limited, homogenized, and boring. Any programs that promise complete harmony are sure setups for failure and disappointment.
  • Cultivate chaos. Without chaos the possibility of serendipity is eliminated. Operate without your usual rules and schedules for a day or two, and refuse to let it be a problem. Let things break down and don’t fix them; then deal with the consequences. Learn what happens.
  • Think stress. Build your inner strength by cultivating situations that tax your courage, discipline, and commitment. If you’ve got a problem that you think is big or important, give yourself a bigger problem by taking on a commitment to a task "bigger than you are." Now watch the first problem fall into place. And don’t be fooled by thinking that it necessarily means you will have to work harder. Busy, committed people quickly learn to work smarter!
  • Resist comfort. Avoid the numbing effects of a "walking death" by maintaining an edge of discomfort for yourself. If you run for a sweater every time you’re cold or turn up the air conditioner every time you’re hot, you’re keeping yourself insulated in more ways than one. Appreciate unavoidable pain and use it to learn what stuff you’re made of. Remedies that mask symptoms also mask the information that those symptoms might provide.
  • "Pig out." The healthier your diet, the more important it is to indulge yourself, occasionally, with all the foods you think are "bad" for you (unless you are actually allergic to them).
  • Put on some music, pump up the volume, and dance!
  • Don’t be nice. Be simple. Be straightforward. Be caring. Be daring. Be wild. Be silly. Be uncharacteristic. Be anything . . . but don’t be N-I-C-E. Not all the time. You know what we mean. Yes, nice is a four-letter word.
  • Apprentice yourself to greatness. There is nothing harder yet ultimately more satisfying than being stretched beyond the limited vision you have for yourself. Fraternize with people who provoke you to greatness, who make you uncomfortable, who ask more of you than you think is possible. Study what they have to teach you.
  • Live your questions. It is a natural human phenomenon to find or see what we are looking for, and to overlook or miss what we haven’t anticipated. Our thoughts, and in this case our questions, will therefore mold our experience of reality. (For example, if you are fascinated by the nature and meaning of time, your questioning will motivate and direct you into situations where you will learn about time.) It is important to cultivate questions that are open-ended in order to live in an open-ended world. Otherwise we mold our world into black and white, and answer all questions with right or wrong, yes or no.
Now: List some of the ways in which you currently play it safe in your life. Determine one rule you’re willing to break, and do it.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves . . . the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

- Rainer Maria Rilke,
Letters to a Young Poet

Reprinted with permission from Simply Well by John W. Travis, MD, & Regina Sara Ryan. Copyright 2001. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA.
Posted at:


Let's ring in the new year with blessings for peace, perfect health, the ability to live from our authentic, divine Self, and the inspiration to all leaders to guide our world creatively with compassion and wisdom. Be Well!!! Janis

Enjoy the beauty of this graphic image created by artist David Orchid:
Tendrils 'o Vajradhara Heart
Note: if you click on the image it will reload in its full size, try it, it is stunning!