News with Nic

Nine Months of Change

Much to my amazement it has been nine  months, far too long, since I have written. I never intended to take a hiatus as my blog is one of the things I enjoy writing. I love to research and discover new finds, green ideas and options, as well as staying up to date on the many changes in the laws governing GMOs. Sometimes life makes changes we never planned or expected and as always there is only so many hours in a day and priorities must be set.  Being a small business owner as well as a budding currency trader and a new Nana my days are filled with little room for much else. Because of this some things need to be set aside until time allows. I am not a believer in doing a job half way just to get it done so I set my blog aside as I only want to contribute meaningful and hopefully helpful posts. For the past 9 months I have been busy, really busy with many exciting events. Our Alzheimer's fundraiser, something very dear to my heart having lost my beautiful mom to this devastating disease in 2009, was a success. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are no survivors. This needs to change, now. We ride to honor the victims and loved ones battling every day. Every year we get bigger and better and one day will put an end to Alzheimer's.sott-snip-logo   Not only did we succeed in donating $4000. for the Alzheimer's Association, we gathered some of the best people to join our fight. Busy year for sure. And fun lots of fun even in the rain. zIMG_9901.jpg   In 2016 many exciting events transpired, the US Presidential election, the outstanding Cleveland Cavaliers won the championship, as well as our Cleveland Indians made the playoffs.  All super exciting events . However nothing  could ever be as exciting as the arrival of my first grandchild. The beautiful tiny blessing that is Avery Nicole Gaskins 20160720_180425 In always being a baby lover I knew this little miracle would fill my heart with love. I had no idea how deeply I would fall for her. For the first few weeks, every time I held her my eyes would fill with tears with the immense love that filled my heart. I could hardly put her down or leave my daughter and son-in-law's home because I would miss her the minute I did. You grandparents know what I am talking about. You know how you feel when you hug your grandbaby and look into their tiny face, pure joy, pure love in knowing this tiny person is part of your child, the child you loving raised who is now a parent. Another feeling I did not consider in being a Nana, the need to fiercely protect this new life. You know the feeling you felt when your babies were born, tiny, helpless, defenseless and more treasured than any person ever. The thought of  harm coming to  this child would cause you immediate anxiety and the need to stay close to your child. After all no one can replace this unique human, this baby that you created and brought into the world, no one can ever understand the deepness of your love. These feelings remind me of my mom and her informing me upon the birth of my daughter "your life will never be your own again" I thought I knew then what she meant, I am real sure of what she meant now. Now there is another love in my life. This adorable baby girl, who already at almost 6 months old is so much like her mommy at this age. Quick with a smile, easy going and happy all the time. As well as refusing to nap for more than 20 min ;)Yes I am bias :) My point being, child or grandchild this kind of love is ever enduring, powerful, deeper than you can imagine, irreplaceable.20160721_164524      
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10 Things You Should Know About Motherhood

In honor of my beautiful baby girl who is a soon to be mama I feel the need to share the things I have learned along the way. Plus  a few of my wise mom's that made the list years ago. Have you realized how the female mind changes over the years? Depending on what age group you are currently in you may not have noticed. Finally at 50 some years old I see it plain as day. The different phases a woman's mind and life travel through and how these phases affect our thinking. Like many others we often wish we had known so much more at certain points in our life. Such as at 16 or 17 years old why did we feel the need for a boyfriend so badly? Yes I know hormones, peer pressure and simply being a teenager. Why if it is all hormones do some young people know more than others? Why are some able to focus on their futures and careers more than the opposite sex? Is it their upbringing, environment, parents or other siblings? Or is it because some have better self esteem than others? Or is it really all in the chemical makeup of our brains? I am not sure but continue to be curious. It seems to me it may be a combination of many factors. In my family growing up in the 70's a girl was not supposed to have career aspirations or dreams of a college education. If a young woman was going to college it was to find a husband not to better herself or educate herself for a successful career. Young women then were to have one goal, get married and have babies. Why? Who decided this was what we were here for? Who decided we were not capable of anything else? Who decided that is what every young woman should want? Obviously this annoys me. Now I am not saying being a wife and mother is not wonderful, joyus and fulfilling. Believe me it is but why were we not encouraged to want more? Why were we always encouraged to be happy with doing and caring for others but not ourselves? Why were we not encouraged to educate and grow our beautiful minds? Because we were born without a penis we should be stifled?? I mean really, think about it. We, women, create life and bring beautiful babies into the world. The power we have to grow another human being, carry the baby and give it life is unmeasurable. The  miracle of life is incredible. The things a woman can accomplish on top of that are endless. Every woman should want and have the right to be everything she wants to be and more. I tried to raise my daughter this way. To teach her to believe in herself, to be strong, smart and determined. To be able to support herself and rely on herself only. To know that she can be everything she wants to be.And you know what? She is all those things and more today. So much more than I ever was at her age. This makes me happy and so proud of her and I know she will raise her daughter the same way. Sharing parenting knowledge is an age old tradition and the list grows by the years. Here are my top ten from experience. 10. Understand your life will never be your own again. 9. You will never be able to sleep soundly again. 8. You will be tired beyond belief. 7. Your heart will explode with the immense love you feel for your child. 6. The sound of your baby's laughter will bring you to tears. 5. The scent of your baby will calm your anxiety. 4. Disciplining your child will hurt you more. 3. Being a parent and not a friend will be required. 2. Chores can wait growing kids won't. 1. Eventually you have to let go. :)    
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Forming an Opinion

In my quest of the green life I know part of the journey is broadening my horizons, opening my mind to new and different ideas, trying new foods, exercises and more. Researching green topics, studying reports and hours of documentaries has helped me to learn and understand in depth some of our most controversial topics of 2016. From political debates, a topic I prefer to avoid, to GMOs, Eco-friendly sustainable living, health care alternatives and the  vaccine debate there is much to learn and share. Sometimes the things I discover shock and sadden me. Has anyone seen the documentary piece from Alec Baldwin on Tyson chicken and what inhumane monsters they really are? I just saw it this week and am shocked and appalled by Tysons behavior, policies and product. We must boycott Tyson and get others to do the same. I can not get the images and information out of my mind. I really want to go to  the Tyson headquarters and punch the people responsible in the throat or maybe hang them by their feet and starve them for starters. Be informed Google Alec Baldwin Tyson chicken. The controversial subject of vaccines and both sides of the issue have become a topic closer to home with the arrival of my first grandchild in just a few short months:) As any parent and grandparent would be I am concerned. Always having a plan, my first course of action is to learn everything I can, to research the issue from every angle while trying to remain objective. Objectivity is difficult, we all know how I feel about Big Pharma and their damage to our society. Being aware of this I try to remain neutral. I started my research with one man at the center of this debate Dr. Andrew Wakefield. If you are unfamiliar with Dr. Wakefield he is the doctor that put his career on the line for the truth. He sacrificed his future in medicine to save countless children from the adverse affects of vaccines. A soft spoken quiet man, he does not resort to hysteria to make his point just cold hard facts. Research that began in the 70's and 80's and continues today clearly proves his findings and they are not good for anyone, except of course Big Pharma. The findings reveal that if the course does not change by 2032 1 in 2 children will be diagnosed with Autism. One in two!! Unacceptable to say the least. Testing and research also proves that one in every four adults will be caring for a person with Autism by 2032. One in four, are you kidding me?? Couple this with the staggering statistics on Alzheimer's and just about every adult will be a victim or caregiver.Terrifying stats to say the least. learn more on Dr. Wakefield   What is the answer? Dr. William Thompson known as the whistleblowing doctor, formerly with the CDC, is another selfless pioneer in the fight against Autism and revealing  the truth. He too sacrificed his career to tell the truth, to try to save as many children as he can. The things he and Dr. Wakefield discovered will make the tiny hairs on your neck stand on end and may just really piss you off.
My name is William Thompson.  I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where I have worked since 1998. I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information  in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased  risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.
  Whistleblower status granted   From what I have learned not vaccinating is not the answer. We all know full well why we have vaccinated thus far. The issue comes now at the increase in amount of vaccines and combining too many vaccines at one time. Hmmm who could be behind such dangerous increases? Who could and would put millions at risk just to increase their profits? You and I know the answer. Their power is one of the ways these two dedicated, caring, ethical doctors lost their right to practice medicine. Get to know Dr. Wakefield and why things must change   Is America in their grips so far that nothing can be done?  God help us I hope not. Can we as a society rise up and demand answers to such insanity? Can we gather together to increase our power in demanding the truth? Dr. Wakefield and Dr. Thompson believe so, they bet their careers on it. Vaccines are needed, with a population of over 7 billion and growing by the second yes we need vaccines. However why so many? Why, when the program was in place and working, did so much need to change? Hmmm let's wonder why for a minute. Could it be greed? Larger profits? Oh Big Pharma yes we know you are responsible. Eight different drugs in one vaccine??= more $$$$ never mind this is the recommended dose by drs. today. Some doctors who, it seems, are influenced by Big Pharma and their ludicrous claims that this is a must. Doctors who, even after too many babies become sick after such high doses, still believe. As Dr. Wakefield says parents need to be heard, listened to, no one know more about a baby and symptoms than the parents. So why not go back to the days when vaccines were safer? When  the MMR was not given until 3 years of age or older a much safer age. When vaccines were in individual doses given over a period of time the safe smart way. Do you know that today every baby born in the US immediately gets a Hep B vaccine? Most parents are charged for this but are totally unaware that is was given. Unaware of the dangers for their newborn baby. Why if the mother is clearly not at risk for Hep B are these vaccines given? A Big Pharma executive was recorded as stating "because we can" Because we can??  Can you imagine the profits being made everyday by this practice? Could profits have anything to do with it? Watch the documentary, read the reports decide for yourself what  your options are if you are a young parent today. You still have the right to decide when your child receives what vaccine today.  Space them out demand single doses over a longer period of time and refuse the MMR until 3yrs of age or older. This may change in the future, as we as a society lose more and more rights to the giants that sadly control the USA. The laws are in place that you must vaccinate and in proper doses well regulated the risk can be lowered. There are many documentaries on the subject and many who dare to care. Dell Bigtree is another believer in the truth.You can find his research at www.vaxxedthemovie.com.          
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Will You Do It Tomorrow?

While away I have been working seven days a week on Milani Market. Reason being my  hard work and persistence led to a  blessing in meeting  amazing new business partners that produced over 9000 new items for our organic, eco-friendly market. It has taken many weeks to get everything organized and our store remodeled. Super exciting times for sure. I missed writing terribly and hope to catch up. As most of us do I can get totally absorbed in work leaving other task to wait always believing "I will do it tomorrow" Now, I am not a procrastinator I simply try to squeeze too many things into too little time. We all do it right? We put things on the back burner, we put off lunching with friends, going to the doctor, taking a vacation, taking a walk, taking a nap or finishing that garage project. We are by nature planners some more so than others. As some will plan the next six months of work, activities, dates and more. I know a few that have a whole year planned out. I am somewhere in the middle. I like being organized and as many of you know having a plan. My sweet dad's favorite lesson "never panic make a plan" or "every day is a gift what do you plan on doing with today"? was another question he would pose. Beautiful mind always asking. But do we really think we are in charge? It is comforting to think so and act as such. We go about our lives planning and usually enjoying ourselves. Too many times we fall into believing we have plenty of time. Simple things like I will start working out next month, I will go see my aunt next week when I have more time, I will go out with my girlfriends next month. Next month comes and goes and life moves on. We miss lunches, soccer games, date night because we are too busy and will go tomorrow. Alway busy with our well made plans. Always believing we have more time. In my quest for the healthy green life I have also been working on being present, enjoying life by the minute instead of milestones. It is said we all miss so much by living in the past or by always looking towards the future. Instead we need to pay attention to right now,  as we all learn eventually the most wonderful moments can be found in the smallest of places and the most simple of experiences. In a touch or a look, in a gesture or smile, a sunset or a walk. If we are not in the present we miss them. While working so hard over the last few months, planning and executing, life showed it's cruel side seen too many times in my opinion. I have always considered myself a rich woman in the fact that I have many friends. Friends of all ages and from all walks of life. Some I have known most of my life, many I have met along the way. Friends from countless careers, horse friends, family friends and more. I am blessed. On a work trip with my husband a few years ago I made a new friend, while the guys were working, we hit it off right away. Both being moms we talked about kids, careers and everything in between. Fast friends we became. We live an hour apart and only really had time to get together over corporate Christmas parties and events. Always promising to get together. My friend retired in the fall of last year. Full of exciting plans, to finally start riding, take the many trips she and her husband planned and dreamed of, start marathon running so much to do. They enjoyed an Alaskan trip full of beauty and quality time, she ran her second marathon, visited friends, all of the wonderful joys of retirement. Shortly after the first of the year she discovered,  randomly,  a lump in her abdomen. Being a healthy active woman she thought little of it. After making a doctor appointment she went on with her plans. Her doctor was puzzled and recommended a specialist. Surgery was needed to remove the lump. Believing in the best as I always do and looking forward to seeing my friend again life moves on. While working last week I had a call from my husband, I could tell by the tone in his voice he was unhappy. I apprehensively asked what was up? He quietly told me our friend had passed away that morning. Beyond shocked and saddened I asked for information. In thirty two short days from her first doctor appointment she was gone. The lump proved to be a large cancerous  tumor. An aggressive rare form of the terrible disease. So aggressive in fact that the doctors could never get ahead of it, she never had time to fight. In the best time of her life she ran out of time. She had plans, an empty nester, time to enjoy her husband and their bond again. Time to enjoy vacations and sleeping in, time to spend  on herself the classy wonderful woman she was. Plans, we all make them. Things to do, we will get to them tomorrow. At Jane's services seeing her young family so heartbroken, in shock. Devastating. How could someone so full of life, so seemingly healthy be taken so quickly? They thought they had time.  I was not lucky enough to be one of her close friends but I was touched by her grace, her class, her style and the way she made others feel important. It is with these thoughts we realize we need to live for today. For walking in the rain, for sleeping in, for long vacations. For rolling in the grass with your grandson because he asked you to, for lighting and burning that rose shaped candle. For spending time, real time with the ones we love, time for doing what we love even though others tell us we are too old. Grab the moment, seize the day do not put off till tomorrow what you can enjoy today. Run that marathon, ride that horse, take that vacation and when you do think of my friend Jane, her beautiful soul who like all of us, enjoyed life, love and family moment by moment.  
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Ten Ways To Dare To Care

As a naturally positive person I tend to look on the bright side and automatically believe most people to be the same. In my research towards a green life I try to search for the positive and share great things I believe my readers would benefit from, value and share. With this in mind I try not to focus too much on the negative nightmare of GMO's as it is a topic I have become very passionate about. However in my quest to live a healthier green life  the great GMO debate and the current state of affairs must be addressed especially after the events of this week.With Vermont leading the way in passing a labeling law in May of 2014, which goes into effect July 1,2016,  Main and Connecticut passed similar labeling laws, which will not go into effect until additional New England states pass similar legislation, Monsanto and Big Food are just beginning to feel the heat. The big boys are in a panic including the GMA ( Grocery Manufacturers Association ) this is understandable given that 75% of processed foods found in grocery stores contain GMOs and once properly labeled will cause a loss of billions of dollars to safe organics, grass fed brands and non-GMO. I am super pumped as this is just the beginning of our having the guts to dare to care, to starting a change, to standing up for our rights. Some believe they can not make an impact as the thought is "I am just one person" wrong, united we can and will make a difference and be the start of a better future for all. Monsanto, Big Food and Big Ag are already scared as they realize they can not just label their toxic foods in states having labeling laws.They know doing this would create a huge public relations disaster ( score 1 for us :) ) Their next bright idea they went to Congress in an attempt to preempt or nullify the Vermont law. We are all aware of politics and the reputation many politicians have rightfully earned. 275 of the big boys faithful followers( servants ) in the House of Representatives passed the highly unpopular H.R. 1599 bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan). This bill referred to as the DARK Act ( Deny Americans the Right to Know ) was passed in July 2015. Once again we the people rallied along  with our own good guys from the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Bronner's, Food Democracy Now, Center For Food and Safety and our good friends at Mercola.com and many others. This backlash (push) caused the Pompeo bill to stall out before reaching the Senate. Score another for our side, although we are far from victory as the greedy never rest. While pretending to respect consumers' right to know and each state's right to regulate GMOs pro-GMO politicians are still trying to create deceptive Senate legislation that would keep consumers in the dark. There are many thing you can do to take a stand and start the change. The big boys are sweating let's keep the heat on. Following are ideas that all of can implement today.             Ten Ways to Dare to Care
  1. Getting mad is not enough. You must channel that anger into a plan of attack. Hit the GMO and toxic food giants where it hurts the most:their profits. Since Monsanto and at least 300 Big Ag and large food corporations believe themselves to be untouchable we must boycott ALL of their many thousands of brands. We must take what matters the most from them as they are taking our most prized possession:our health. Check out a new app, Buycott. This cool app helps consumers know which products to boycott as well as  naming ethical brands that you want to purchase. This app is free and with it you can scan barcodes and immediately learn if a brand is a member of the GMA ( bad guys ) so you can boycott or if it is from a brand you wish to support. Green technology in action gotta love it!
  2.  Stop eating in restaurants or fast food restaurants that serve GMO tainted foods.                    Places such as Panera and Chipotle have transitioned into organic, non-GMO                            foods as well as local hometown family restaurants are going organic. One new trend            is grass-fed restaurants, cool. The best idea is to go organic, buy organic and cook at              home. Americans spend on average at least half of their food dollars eating out.                      Change our ways and restaurant corporate offices will feel the loss and realize a                     change must happen if they are to stay in business.   3.   If you support politicians who are in bed with Monsanto and Big Ag stop now.                           Especially do not support any of the 275 members who voted for H.R. 1599 , the                       DARK Act, as they are proven bed buddies with Monsanto ( Hillary ). Do not vote for               or support any Senator  who votes to preempt the Vermont law with bs like                               voluntary  labeling or the ridiculous QR codes.   4.  Painful yet true we can no longer trust the FDA or the EPA for that matter. Facts                       prove many from Monsanto are now holding positions in the FDA. This should not                 be allowed but it is true. How perfectly convenient for the Monsanto scientist to                     invent the growth hormone used today, that causes insane infections in cattle that                 are then treated with antibiotics that are passed onto the consumer,who is the same             person  then appointed to the beef inspection department of the FDA.  I do not feel               protected  nor do I trust any longer.   5. Dare to care  commit to making a change. Research, talk about your reasons and                      fears with everyone and anyone who will listen. Educate your friends and families on            the dangers of GMOs and how organics and permaculture is our future. Learn and                    share how pesticides are ruining our Earth and killing our bees and butterflies.                        Be passionate for change, set an example.   6.  The time has come for everyone to understand the damage being inflicted upon our               Earth daily from the fashion industry. Mass production of such toxic fabrics as                        polyester creating cheap but plentiful apparel is one of the biggest offenders. The                  process spews chemicals into the air and water supply at an alarming rate not to                      mention the chemical residue found in mass produced materials. Yes the clothes                    look good on but can you really feel good wearing them? I used to before I realized                  the cost. The answer organics, thrift store shopping and fair trade. Recycle, reuse,                  repurpose all in respect of our earth. Hand made clothing as well as hemp and                          organic is more durable, last longer and your conscience is clear. Dare to care.   7. When possible get involved join organic groups and organizations. Learn about                        alternatives to a more natural way of life and share what you have learned. Try new                foods and recipes that are more organic and healthy. Learn the benefits of juicing                  and proteins and commit to better health.   8. Refuse to stand for being treated as if your life and the lives of others  do not                            matter.In many other countries governments have banned all GMOs and refuse any              importing of GMO products. Why because they CARE about their citizens and they                  can not be bought and they are not in bed with Monsanto, Big Ag or Big Pharma. The              health and safety  of their people is priority not money or political status.   9. Commit to the fact that your one voice can make a change. Commit to the fact that                united we can and will be heard. Believe this and stay the course, walk your talk and              influence others to do the same. It feels really good and right.   10.Everyday practice one positive change regardless how big or small. You will soon                    see how this affects your life in such a positive way. When you want to go to the mall            for a new blouse or shirt hit the thrift store instead you will save money and find                    amazing ways to repurpose.Buy one organic apparel item, wear it wash it wear it over            and over and discover for yourself the amazing quality, softness and durability.              
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Epidemic or Natural Evolution?

As I have discussed before I am always concerned about my weight and health. Some may call it an obsession as I work out 6 days a week, weigh myself way too often and worry over what I ate yesterday. OK maybe I am slightly obsessing, can you obsess just a little? Or is the word obsessive all consuming? Probably so. In my quest to live a green life I am trying a different product each month to increase muscle, cut fat and promote overall wellness. One of the products I tried last month was a pure protein powder from my store, Milani Market, in our organic food department. I loved the vanilla flavor and unlike protein powders I have tried in the past there was no chalky aftertaste and it was really easy to drink and filling. I added hulled hemp seeds,  a tablespoon of the wonderful organic super food spread, a  organic banana and 2% milk yummy. This is the first time a protein powder did not end up in the back of the cupboard unused.2016-01-28 10.30.29 I worry about weight gain when using a protein supplement but my son, who has made weight training and being in top physical health his daily routine, assures me that is not the case. Proteins are needed to boost stamina and help build healthy muscle as well as a meal replacement. I found he is right after my workout I drank one of my custom smoothies daily  and after 1 month have noticed more toned muscles in my legs and arms. I went through my entire container in one month, replacing breakfast with my super food protein smoothie. The amount of stamina and pure energy I felt inspires me to continue with protein. This month I am trying one of the power proteins in blueberry.18-18-Product_Primary_Image In researching healthy weight loss and green alternatives I find interesting, thought provoking articles on the subject. I use our friend Dr. Mercola in my research as well as other green med info sources. I found this article and thought is is worth sharing. It is interesting to read different opinions on what some experts call the "Obesity Epidemic"and some call natural evolution. I would love to hear your thoughts as well.
By Dr. Mercola
The number of children under the age of 5 who are obese or overweight worldwide is an "exploding nightmare," according to a new report by the World Health Organization's (WHO) Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO).1,2 At least 41 million children now fall into this category, which is 10 million more than in 1990. And while rising obesity rates have long been a health issue plaguing developed countries, globalization and urbanization have driven up obesity rates in the developing world as well. In 1990, there were 7.5 million overweight children in developing countries, which had doubled to 15.5 million by 2014. In fact, due to widespread marketing of junk foods and sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, low- and middle-income countries now have more overweight and obese children than high-income countries, according to the WHO report.

Is Rising Obesity the Result of Natural Evolution?

In the U.S., about 75 percent of men and 67 percent of women are now either overweight or obese. This has risen significantly from figures gathered between 1988 and 1994, when "just" 63 percent of U.S. men and 55 percent of U.S. women were overweight or obese.3,4 Complicating matters, research published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that the same caloric intake and exercise program would result in a body mass index (BMI) that is about 5 pounds higher in 2006 than it would have been in 1988.5 In other words, in order to maintain the same weight as in 1988, today you'd need to exercise more and eat fewer calories. The results suggest "factors other than diet and physical activity may be contributing to the increase in BMI over time," but what factors, exactly?6 There are more than 100 possible causes of obesity published in peer-reviewed journals, according to Morgan Downey, past executive vice-president of the Obesity Society. This includes a laundry list of plausible explanations, like environmental pollution, stress and light at night. Too much homework, hormone therapy, heat-producing fat cells and even living with grandparents have also been implicated.7 The truth is, there are probably numerous explanations for why humankind appears to be getting fatter. One theory even posits that perhaps we're in the midst of an evolutionary blip, and obesity isn't a crisis at all but rather just the latest stage of evolution. As reported by the National Post:8
" … [A]s the race to find a 'cure' for obesity intensifies, emerging research is challenging the panic over our growing girth. It suggests excess fat may not be putting most of us in mortal danger and proposes a provocative theory for our struggle to lose weight and keep it off: some kind of evolutionary shift in body shape is underway, a change perhaps like average height or the size of our brains, that will leave softer, doughier generations looking back at our hand-wringing and wondering what all the fuss was about. The medical mystery around weight loss also suggests another possibility: that we aren't, in fact, meant to return to a thinner ideal — that the changes to our average body size are just another example that human evolution didn't stop at the end of the Paleolithic era. Daniel Lieberman, Ph.D. chairman of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, says, 'We have evidence that there is still selection going on.' The famous Framingham Heart Study, which has followed thousands of ordinary people since the 1950s, shows in the last generation or two, 'there has been a slight, positive selection for women who are actually plumper' for genetic reasons. Meaning: heavier women are more likely to get pregnant and have babies than those who are not."

The Case for Fat

A case could be made that humans are meant to be getting fatter, as there are many peculiarities in obesity research. Some research has shown that being overweight may have a protective effect and is associated with lower all-cause mortality, although body mass index (BMI) is often used as a measure of obesity.9 BMI is a seriously flawed measurement tool, in part because it uses weight as a measure of risk, when it is actually a high percentage of body fat that increases your disease risk.. Certain genes have also been discovered that appear to be associated with obesity. For instance, people with two copies of the FTO gene mutation may have a 70 percent increased risk of obesity (but, interestingly, only in people born after 1942).10 But even David Meyre, Ph.D., a research chair in Genetic Epidemiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada who helped discover the FTO gene, doesn't believe this means humans are destined to be fat. Exercise, he says, can overcome obesity-prone genetics by up to 75 percent. He told the National Post:11
"I don't think the next stage of evolution is to be fat.' If anything, he believes the next step in evolution may be to select for 'lean genes,' the way obesity genes were selected in the past."

Obesity Is a Leading Cause of Death

In 2014, a systematic review and meta-analysis that included data from more than 61,000 people found that obese individuals were more likely to die sooner or have heart-related problems than people of normal weight — even if they were otherwise healthy. Research shows that nearly 1 in 5 U.S. deaths is associated with obesity.12 In the U.S., eight obesity-related diseases account for a staggering 75 percent of healthcare costs. These diseases include:
Type 2 diabetes Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Hypertension Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Lipid problems Cancer (especially breast, endometrial, colon, gallbladder, prostate and kidney13)
Heart disease Dementia
The four diseases in the left column are associated with metabolic syndrome, which is a common factor in obesity. However, several other diseases fall within this category as well, which are listed on the right. And many more could be added to that list. According to the Surgeon General, in addition to the diseases mentioned above, obesity increases your risk for asthma, sleep disorders (including sleep apnea), depression, pregnancy complications and poor surgical outcomes.14 A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University researchers even found that women who are obese during pregnancy have nearly double the risk of having a child with autism as those who are not obese. And for women who are both obese and have diabetes, the risk is quadrupled.15 An animal study published in The Journal of Neuroscience even found that mice put on an obesity-promoting diet had declines in memory function and suggested epigenetic dysregulation among obese mice may be to blame.16

Why Are People Getting Fatter?

Environmental and lifestyle factors appear to play a significant role in this trend. Part of the problem is that many people don't realize they're affected by these stealthy factors and therefore fail to address them. This includes:
  • Overuse of antibiotics in food production and medicine
  • Growth-enhancing drugs used in food animals
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including pesticides and plastics chemicals
  • Inactivity and lack of sleep
  • Aggressive marketing of harmful junk food
Highly processed genetically engineered (GE) foods are a primary culprit, as they're chockfull of ingredients that both individually and in combination contribute to metabolic dysfunction and hard-to-control weight gain. GE corn syrup, trans fats, and GE sugar — along with heavily processed refined grains — these ingredients are now foundational in the U.S. diet and are increasingly found worldwide. There is virtually no doubt that they are primary contributors to Americans' failing health and rising rates of obesity. Non-starchy, carb-rich, highly-processed (and typically genetically-engineered) foods, along with being in continuous feast mode, are primary drivers of these statistics. Wherever a highly processed food diet becomes the norm, obesity inevitably follows.

How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy

Most overweight Americans have some degree of insulin and leptin resistance. Generally, in order for you to significantly gain weight, you must first become leptin resistant. Leptin is a hormone that helps you regulate your appetite. When your leptin levels rise, it signals your body that you're full, so you'll stop eating. However, as you become increasingly resistant to the effects of leptin, you end up eating more. Many people who are overweight also have an impairment in their body's ability to oxidize fat, which leads to a low-energy state. Dr. Richard Johnson's research clearly shows that refined sugar (in particular fructose) is exceptionally effective at causing leptin resistance in animals, and it's very effective at blocking the burning of fat. If you are insulin- or leptin-resistant, as long as you keep eating fructose and grains, you're programming your body to create and store fat. This is one of the key reasons why, if you are overweight (which means you are also likely insulin or leptin resistant), it would be prudent for you to restrict your fructose consumption to about 15 to 25 grams of fructose per day from all sources. Not only will this help you to avoid additional weight gain, it will also help you to avoid further metabolic dysfunction. You may find this fructose chart helpful in estimating how many grams of fructose you are consuming each day. Dietary sugar, especially fructose, is a significant "tripper of your fat switch," however, if you are serious about losing weight, you'll need a comprehensive plan that includes the following. This plan will help most people lose weight but, also, it will help you to gain metabolic health. So even if your weight is normal, you can follow this plan to ensure that you're metabolically healthy as well.
  • Eliminate or strictly limit fructose in your diet, and follow the healthy eating program in my comprehensive nutrition plan. Replace processed foods with real food.
    • You can also use intermittent fasting strategically with this program to greatly boost your body's fat-burning potential. Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel, and mounting evidence confirms that when your body becomes adapted to burning FAT instead of sugar as its primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Exercising in a fasted state (such as first thing in the morning) will bring it up yet another notch. A simple way to get started with intermittent fasting is to simply omit breakfast, making lunch the first meal of your day.
  • Engage in high-intensity Peak Fitness exercise to burn fat and increase muscle mass (a natural fat burner). Also, strive to sit less (much less, such as only three hours a day) and walk 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day in addition to your regular exercise program.
  • Address the emotional component of eating. For this I highly recommend the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which helps eliminate your food cravings naturally.
 
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The Secret in Your Gut

In the past I have shared my array of physical issues. I have broken many bones, endured too many surgeries (considering my grandma lived to 101 and had only 1 ) and even survived a punctured lung. Yes, many times because of my passion, my horse. Some understand, YOLO, some do not. I refuse to give up what I love because it can be somewhat dangerous. I know this and take every precaution to protect myself much like I do when I get in my car, also a dangerous venture. One of the issues I have had to "manage", like too many women, is having had a hysterectomy too early in life. For reasons I won't bore you with I had no choice at 38 years old.  I thought at the time" it is what it is" and my doctor assured me it really was no big deal anymore with so many HRT's available. Really???Your reassurance lies in toxic pharmaceuticals WTH?? Several months later I knew I was in trouble. Already on my fourth type of HRT with no good results, unable to sleep or stop crying ( seriously, a overflowing laundry basket would send me into a fit of tears ) I felt lied to and yes pissed off. During this time my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and shortly after I discovered at almost 70yrs old she was STILL on HRT's!! She too had to have a hysterectomy at 38 (weird I know ) and her doctor never took her off of them for fear of hot flashes! Really??? Pretty sure saving her brain was much more important than preventing hot flashes. Yes, I know how bad they are believe me I am going on 14 years of them. After researching the damaging effects on the brain I refused any type of HRT's and decided to sweat it out. Yes, I am still sweating but I believe this is why my beautiful mom, so young, succumbed to the nightmare that is Alzheimer's.  I refuse to let it happen to me as many of you know I am an Alzheimer's Warrior. Due to all of this, I was told, the chemicals in my brain were terribly unbalanced because of a lack of hormones. I continued to be a crying mess, everything was the end of the world and I felt like I was sinking daily. My doctor's solution, you guessed it, magical pills. Antidepressants, Big Pharma's answer to everything, take at bedtime and you will eventually feel better. No mention of side effects just take it. Believing my doctor knows best I did. After trying at least six different types, one seemed to help somewhat so there it started. Fast forward 14 years and guess what not working anymore.  My doctors says "here let's add another" WTH???Are you kidding me?? "This one will help boost the other and help you sleep" No worries on the insane nightmares and bad side effects ( weight gain, bitchiness ) yes, insanity. As my curious mind will do I researched for months and have finally found a little ray of hope. With my quest to live a greener life this new information has given me hope and a plan ( you know how much I love a plan ) Good news is much of this plan is already in play and continued, I will soon be able to kick the toxic pharmaceuticals to the trash for good. One of my most trusted suppliers at Milani Market, Dr. Mercola, shares the following information on natural green ways to deal with the so called chemical imbalance. Read on and start your own quest to a greener life. Talk to ya later  ;) By Dr. Mercola
It's estimated that 1 in 10 U.S. adults struggle with depression1 and another 40 million have anxiety. It's quite common, too, for someone with depression to also have anxiety. In fact, close to half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety.2 There's no doubt that both of these mental health conditions are at epidemic proportions, but the unanswered question remains why? Oftentimes you hear about depression or anxiety running in families, which leads to an assumption that your genetics may be to blame. Another popular theory is that depression is due to some sort of 'chemical imbalance' in your brain (more on this later). But the truth is, in most cases no one really knows why some people are depressed or anxious while others are not, and most likely there are multiple factors at play. Among them, and perhaps most important, could in fact be your life experiences, and particularly your experience of traumatic events.

Traumatic Life Events at the Root of Many Cases of Anxiety and Depression

A new study set out to determine what role familial risk, social circumstances and life events have on mental health, using surveys completed by nearly 33,000 people as their key form of data.3 They revealed that the single biggest determinant of anxiety and depression was traumatic life events, followed by to a lesser extent, family history of mental illness, income and education levels, relationship status and other social factors. According to the study's lead author:4
"Whilst we know that a person's genetics and life circumstances contribute to mental health problems, the results showed that traumatic life events are the main reason people suffer from anxiety and depression.
However, the way a person thinks about, and deals with, stressful events is as much an indicator of the level of stress and anxiety they feel.
Whilst we can't change a person's family history or their life experiences, it is possible to help a person to change the way they think and to teach them positive coping strategies that can mitigate and reduce stress levels."
This is key, as it means that you are not powerless against depression and anxiety. Rather, it's possible to modify the way you think about traumatic life events in order to minimize their impact on your mental health. Antidepressant drugs, of course, will do nothing to help in this regard.

20 Percent of Population May Have a Gene Variant Linked to Depression

Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), is a key growth hormone that promotes healthy brain neurons and plays a vital role in memory. BDNF levels are critically low in people with depression, which animal models suggest may actually be a primary contributing cause. Now researchers have determined that an alteration known as a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the BDNF gene may further contribute to the risk of anxiety, depression and memory loss. All it takes is for one 'letter' of BDNF's genetic code to be 'misspelled' for the alteration to occur. The SNP alteration not only decreases BDNF in neurons but also generates a protein (called Met66) that is different from the one produced by people without the alteration. About 20 percent of the US population is thought to have the BDNF SNP that produces the Met66 protein, which, in turn, has been found to induce shrinking of neurons in the hippocampus, in areas of the brain important for memory and emotions. The shrinkage would reduce the connectivity between brain cells. One of the study's researchers noted:5
"There can be a heritable component to these diseases and it makes sense that a common variant in a gene could be involved … Just like hypertension contributes to the risk for heart disease, the BDNF alteration increases the risk of depression, anxiety and memory disorders -- but is not the sole reason why they occur."
The researchers are currently looking to develop drugs that would target Met66 or block the proteins it binds to in people with the BDNF SNP alteration. However, it would be interesting to see how natural methods that promote optimal genetic expression would work instead. Growing evidence indicates that both fasting and exercise trigger the expression of genes and growth factors that recycle and rejuvenate your brain tissues. These growth factors include BDNF, which is known to be released in response to the stress of exercise. BDNF activates brain stem cells to differentiate into new neurons, while also triggering numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. Perhaps it is no coincidence, then, that exercise is also one of the best-known treatments for depression …

What About Chemical Imbalances?

As a physician, I have treated many thousands of depressed patients. Depression was actually one of my primary concerns in the mid-80s when I first started practicing. However, at that time my typical treatment tool was using antidepressants alone. I put thousands of people on these drugs and acquired a fair level of experience in this area. Thankfully, I learned more methods of treatment and was able to pretty much stop drugs. It was my experience that the chemical imbalance theory was merely a massive marketing gimmick to support the use of expensive and toxic antidepressants. Most of you have probably heard that depression is primarily due to a "chemical imbalance in your brain," which these drugs are designed to correct. Unfortunately this is not a scientific statement. So where did it come from? The low serotonin theory arose because they understood how the drugs acted on the brain; it was a hypothesis that tried to explain how the drug might be fixing something. However, that hypothesis didn't hold up to further investigation. Investigations were done to see whether or not depressed people actually had lower serotonin levels, and in 1983 the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) concluded:
"There is no evidence that there is anything wrong in the serotonergic system of depressed patients."
The serotonin theory is simply not a scientific statement. It's a botched theory—a hypothesis that was proven incorrect. The fact that this fallacy continues to thrive is likely harming the health of millions more than it's helping, because if you take an SSRI antidepressant drug that blocks the normal reuptake of serotonin, you end up with the very physiological problem the drug is designed to treat–low serotonin levels. Which, ironically, is the state hypothesized to bring on depression in the first place. In 1996, neuroscientist Steven Hyman, who was head of the NIMH at the time, and is today president of the society for Neuroscience, published the paper Initiation and Adaptation: A Paradigm for Understanding Psychotropic Drugs,6 in which he explains this chain of events. According to Dr. Hyman, once your brain has undergone a series of compensatory adaptations to the drug, your brain operates in a manner that is "both qualitatively and quantitatively different than normal." So, it's important to understand that these drugs are NOT normalizing agents. They're abnormalizing agents, and once you understand that, you can understand how they might provoke a manic episode, or why they might be associated with sexual dysfunction or violence and suicide, for example.
Getting back to the original study that found traumatic life events are the major determining factor in depression and anxiety – but that the way you think about them is an equally strong determining factor, let's discuss how you can overcome such an emotional hurdle. The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a form of psychological acupressure based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to transfer kinetic energy onto specific meridians on your head and chest while you think about your specific problem -- whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, anxiety, etc. -- and voice positive affirmations. This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the "short-circuit"—the emotional block—from your body's bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body's balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical and mental disease. Some people are initially wary of these principles that EFT is based on -- the electromagnetic energy that flows through the body and regulates our health is only recently becoming recognized by western medicine. Others are initially taken aback by (and sometimes amused by) the EFT tapping and affirmation methodology. But believe me when I say that, more than any traditional or alternative method I have used or researched, energy psychology (EFT being one type) has the most potential to literally work magic in this area. Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, the body can often rebalance itself, and accelerate healing. In the video above, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman shows how you can use EFT to even get rid of panic attacks.

The Gut Connection to Anxiety and Depression

Another factor worth mentioning is that unhealthy gut flora can impact your mental health, leading to issues such as anxiety, depression, autism and more. Research has found, for instance, that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA [an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes] levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.7 Interestingly, just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut, including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is also found in your brain. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, is found in your intestines, not your brain! (Perhaps this is another reason why antidepressants, which raise serotonin levels in your brain, are often ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes often help.) This is where dietary changes such as reducing sugar intake and increasing your intake of probiotic-rich fermented foods can be invaluable for mood support.

Six Additional Factors for Improving Your Mental Health

There's no doubt in my mind that addressing traumatic life events is a crucial step to prevent and/or address depression and anxiety. That said, here are six additional strategies that can help you even further:
  1. Exercise – If you have depression, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST. The research is overwhelmingly positive in this area, with studies confirming that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. One of the primary ways it does this is by increasing the level of endorphins, the "feel good" hormones, in your brain. It also helps to normalize your insulin and leptin signaling.
  2. Eat a healthy diet – A factor that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health. Avoiding sugar and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, and eliminating artificial sweeteners will eliminate your chances of suffering its toxic effects.
  3. Optimize your gut health – Fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables are also important for optimal mental health, as they are key for optimizing your gut health. Many fail to realize that your gut is literally your second brain, and can significantly influence your mind, mood, and behavior. Your gut actually produces more mood-boosting serotonin than your brain does.
  4. Support optimal brain functioning with essential fats – I also strongly recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil. This may be the single most important nutrient to battle depression.
  5. Get plenty of sunshine – Making sure you're getting enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels is also a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay. One previous study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and has previously been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders.
  6. Address your stress – Depression is a very serious condition, however it is not a "disease." Rather, it's a sign that your body and your life are out of balance. This is so important to remember, because as soon as you start to view depression as an "illness," you think you need to take a drug to fix it. In reality, all you need to do is return balance to your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing stress. Meditation or yoga can sometimes help. If weather permits, get outside for a walk. But in addition to that you can also use EFT, as mentioned.
If you have been personally affected by depression or anxiety my heart goes out to you. A broken body can be easier to fix than a broken mind. Depression and anxiety are real. It is my hope that you will be encouraged and inspired by the information in this article to help those who are struggling.
     
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A Little Bliss Anyone?

Always on my mind, my weight, is like a little devil sitting on my shoulder. I think about it all the time, I worry about it all the time and spend a great deal of time trying to control it. In my quest for the green life I am always looking for healthy green ways to keep it under what I feel is an acceptable number at my age ( young ;) ) I know many of you feel the same because lets admit it we all want to feel and look fantastic at any age right? One of the many reasons this little devil gets at me daily is because in the past I never had to worry. While always being physically active I could eat what I wanted and maintain a healthy weight. Now I know as we age our metabolism slows, we tend to thicken in the middle and sometimes get what I refer to as "fat face". This fat face thing, where mysteriously, our aging face changes dimension and size. How this happens I am not sure but I have seen it many times. Some who used to have a slim oval face, as years pass, turns into a round fuller face with a thicker nose and what appears to be a wider jaw line, weird. How does this happen and why?? Take a look at one of my favorite actors Val Kilmer, so great in Tombstone, what has happened to his handsome face? While yes it seems he has put on some weight his face looks extremely different in shape and size.  Weird. My own face has gotten fuller over the years which my grandma would have said is a good thing because she always said I was too skinny especially in the face. I don't like it.  My friends will say "it is a good thing it fills the wrinkles" OK agree but is it going to keep getting fatter?? Experts have said that the neck and face are the last things to gain weight so if your neck and face are getting fat you are borderline obese. Really worried now. So to battle weight gain and "fat face" clean eating and exercise are key. Researchers are learning more and more details on the connection between exercise and the brain. As we all know staying in shape keeps us healthy and able to enjoy a long active life but did you know exercise has recently been proven to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression? Better than most toxic pharmaceuticals?And studies also show that we can grow our brain with regular exercise! Amazing and wonderful!! Yes endorphin's  have long been known to produce what some call a "runner's high" these help some feel great after their workouts and keep them motivated to continue. However this does not explain the whole picture, as most related studies measure endorphin levels in your blood during exercise, which is different than the endorphin levels in your brain. What does increase in your brain with exercise is a neurotransmitter known as anandamide also  referred to as the "bliss" compound.  Our good friend Dr. Mercola explains it best; "Anandamide is a neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid produced in your brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. It's a derivative of the Sanskrit word "bliss," and a deficiency is associated with increased anxiety and stress.6 Anandamide is actually found in chocolate too and is thought to be one reason why eating chocolate may give you a boost in mood (chocolate also contains other chemicals that prolong the "feel-good" aspects of anandamide). In relation to exercise, however, anandamide levels are known to increase during and following exercise. Anandamide may also be involved in increasing a protein called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). In your brain, BDNF not only preserves existing brain cells,7 it also activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons and effectively makes your brain grow larger. Research published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology concluded:8
" … [A]cute exercise represents a physiological stressor able to increase peripheral levels of anandamide and that BDNF might be a mechanism by which anandamide influences the neuroplastic and antidepressant effects of exercise."
So with regular exercise not only can we lose weight and keep the "fat face"at bay,  grow and protect our brain, we can also toss the toxic pharmaceuticals in the trash. Using our own natural "bliss" we can overcome depression, feel less stressed and live a happier life.  Sounds like a green victory to me, I am in.  What about you?  
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It's Worth the Effort

In this new year I have many goals. I use the term goals because I don't like the word resolutions, it seems like a challenge instead of a positive change. Yes a change of any kind can be a challenge as most of us fear change or at least most resent it. I love a challenge, always have, as I am not the type to back down or fear failure.  I am not saying I love change, but being a positive person, I embrace it expecting the best. In my green  quest one of the things I want to master is meditation, as I have learned how very beneficial it can be especially in quieting the curious mind. My curious mind keeps me awake at times, at times I can feel so frazzled because my mind is working on three things at once and can not focus. I am driven and love to work especially on my passions which keep me working seven days a week.  I am not complaining I just wish I could be as productive with more focus. So gaining control of my mind is the mission and I have learned meditation as well as yoga is the key. Study successful people and you will find most if not all have unique control of their fantastic minds. Not all started out that way but learned how to become  more focused, as well as calm, and success soon followed. On to the secret, as always, I have a plan. I have been being treated by one of the top acupuncturist in the world, for several years now, as discussed in a previous entry. The things I have learned from Dr. Mok have been amazing and inspiring. Not only have I been released from constant debilitating pain in my spine,  but now I understand how meditation works and why it is so important. Now in search of green solutions for everything, including my lack of clear focus, I am trying meditation and yoga.  A green solution for sure as well as a positive, permanent change for the better. I am excited. I never gave yoga much attention because I have always been, in the past, the type of person that has to get my heart rate way up in order to burn fat. With little time to work out, I always opted for the stairmaster, eliptical and treadclimber. Now that I am older (read still really young ) I am learning all of the benefits of yoga and how I can incorporate it into my life.  Recently I  learned about this hot yoga thing. Let me tell you I am sweaty and hot flashing daily, pretty sure I can not hang doing both at the same time. I like to believe at my age ( young ) I am still in good shape and  pretty tough and plan on staying this way as long as possible. In researching for a suitable form of yoga I found this  interesting article.  This form of yoga incorporates meditation and is said to be very powerful. Kundalini  combines meditation, yoga and the use of prana, a word meaning "life force", I will be investigating deeper and getting started. Want to join me? Read on [polldaddy poll=9292338]     The following article is one of a two part series. Stop back for part two.

If Consciousness is a Door, Kundalini Yoga is the Key

If Consciousness is a Door, Kundalini Yoga is the Key

Imagine you could harness, at will, the mind-body connection responsible for the heightened mental states giving rise to creative genius, inspiration, bliss, mystical experiences, and possibly even enlightenment?

You may have noticed how sciences such as biology, physics, medicine, and even theology increasingly overlap, with energy and consciousness at the center. Energy medicine is revolutionizing our approach to health, as science gives us ever-increasing evidence for the inseparability of mind and body. But what is this thing called "energy"? You may accept that it exists—even welcome assistance by various energy healers from disciplines such as acupuncture, Qigong, EFT, Jin Shin Jyutsu and others. But do you understand exactly what they're doing or how it works? If someone asked you to describe this energy, you might struggle to come up with a definition. It's not easy to wrap our heads around things we cannot see, hear or touch, and it's even more challenging for scientists to quantify it. An ancient concept called "Kundalini" provides us with a framework for understanding this nebulous idea, and Kundalini Yoga gives us a way to work with it. This article is Part 1 in a two-part series about Kundalini as an intelligent life force, and Kundalini Yoga as the practice that can help it awaken.
"One of the first results of research on Kundalini, in my view, would be to show that the human brain is already evolving towards a higher predetermined state of consciousness, a state that has been the crowning vision of the mystics and prophets." - Gopi Krishna

The Yoga of Awareness

Kundalini Yoga is the most comprehensive of yoga traditions. The primary objective is to awaken the full potential in each of us. Kundalini Yoga helps us to cultivate inner stillness so we can truly listen, expand our awareness and achieve excellence in all that we do. "Kundalini" literally means "the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved," alluding to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, enabling us to "merge with the Universal Self." Kundalini Yoga blends meditation and ancient mantras with physical exercises (asanas), hand positions (mudras), breathing techniques (pranayama), and sound (naad). All of these are merged into carefully choreographed exercises called kriyas that open up energy flow in the body, channeling it in a way that begins stripping away the veils of consciousness. This type of yoga balances and purifies all of the systems of the body, while at the same time calming and sharpening the mind. Kundalini Yoga should not be taken lightly. One teacher describes it as "an express train that shakes us up and wakes us up." The significance of this cannot be appreciated without some understanding of the nature of Kundalini.

Kundalini: Ancient, Intelligent, and Powerful

"Energy is like the wind, invisible but with visible effects such as waves on a pond stirred by a breeze." – Chinese Proverb
Prana is the Sanskrit word for "life force," the intelligent energy that permeates all living things—and in fact everything in the cosmos. Just like we cannot see protons and electrons, we cannot see prana, although some can feel it shifting and moving through their bodies. The human body has a mechanism by which an enhanced flow of prana reaches the brain via the nerves in and around the spinal column, and this mechanism is called "Kundalini." Kundalini can be thought of as an intelligent live force channeling prana around the body's intricate network of energy highways. The chakras are part of this energy system and are described as energy centers, or transducers, that exchange prana between the physical body and the environment. Each of the seven major chakras is said to mediate a different level of consciousness with the outer world. Kundalini is described in the Upanishads, dating back to the fifth century B.C., although the oral tradition dates back even further. Kundalini is known in many cultures, including Tibetan, Indian, Sumerian, Chinese, Irish, Aztec, and Greek. Kundalini can open the doors of perception to vast realms of consciousness and is at the heart of all spiritual experiences. It also explains the wisdom of the sages. It can be enhanced to improve health, awaken creativity, and achieve inspiration. The primary goal of Kundalini Yoga is to "awaken" (or activate) Kundalini, meaning increase the amount of prana flowing to your brain. Under the right conditions, this enhanced prana can lead to higher states of consciousness such as genius, psychic abilities and mystical experiences—and at it's highest level, enlightenment (Shaktipat). Many believe Kundalini is key in preparing the human species for evolution. The father of Kundalini research Gopi Krishna is quoted to have said: "Kundalini is a manifestation of a cosmic evolutionary energy that is biologically based in the human body and capable of transforming the nervous system and brain so they can support expanded levels of consciousness."

When Kundalini Awakens Too Quickly

The goal of Kundalini Yoga is to awaken Kundalini and help you learn how to modulate it, i.e., turn it up or down at will. If Kundalini awakens too quickly, such as through very intensive meditation or yoga practice, an individual may experience spontaneous Kundalini "episodes," which can be emotionally challenging and even manifest as what might be mistakenly diagnosed as "mental illness." This results from heightened brain and nervous system sensitivity. If you begin a Kundalini Yoga practice, it's important to proceed slowly, being mindful of any uncomfortable feelings or mental states that may arise. Many physical symptoms and illnesses are manifestations of disrupted energy flow in the body. When done correctly, Kundalini Yoga is powerful medicine capable of producing widespread healing of both physical and emotional issues. In Part 2 of this series, we will explore the evidence for Kundalini Yoga's health benefits, looking first at how disorders—PTSD, addictions, dementia and many others—can be viewed as disruptions in Kundalini. We will also examine what the latest neuroscience and brain imaging technology reveal about how meditation, mysticism, and spirituality fundamentally change the brain. These discoveries are so profound that they have given birth to an entirely new branch of science called "neurotheology."
"Kundalini is a manifestation of a cosmic evolutionary energy that is biologically based in the human body and capable of transforming the nervous system and brain so they can support expanded levels of consciousness."
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How Important is It?

Lately I have been asked the same question again and again. Why am I such a big supporter of fair trade? Why do I talk about it? Why do I support it so passionately? Why have I based my business on fair trade and green living? I could list many reasons but the first and most important is because I care. Now, understand something, I have been told by many, at times in my life, that I care too much. That I am too compassionate, too empathetic. The reason some have said this is because my passion sometimes (read rarely ) gets me in trouble. At times I physically exhaust myself, other times I risk spending time in jail for my compassion and empathy. Remember I am half Sicilian and half Irish, yes a volatile combination. I have been called "Captain save them all" by some, you know who you are, and shocked my friends by my passionate actions. Why? Because I care. Now let's be real, can you ever care too much? Ever show too much compassion or empathy? No I think not. In today's world there is not enough caring or compassion. Sadly it has become an all about me society. Too few ever take the time to think about others lives, needs, or struggles. Too few times do we consider the mother in India that wakes every day at 4 am to walk 5 miles, one way, to carry water back for her family. Seriously could YOU do this?? The father in another part of India that is fighting to save his six year old daughter from being traded, like a commodity, to settle a feud among men of neighboring villages. The women and young girls that are disrespected and forced into prostitution and sex slavery. Where does it end?? How can you not care?? Do you ever stop to think or realize it is just a matter of really bad luck to be borne into one of these lives? That no one has a choice. That it could have been you?? To imagine just for a minute how horrific it would be to be traded, as future wife, to a grown man at six years old??? Imagine being a mother of little girls that are forced into prostitution at 9 years old because mom does not have the resources to fight back and save her babies all because of where she was born??? It all makes me angry really angry. I loose sleep thinking of these things. I also get really pissed off. I also can not get the thoughts or images out of my busy mind. Too empathetic I know I know. Bullshit. Being the new me that I am growing into I know I can and will make a difference. It may take a while and maybe very few will notice but guess what I don't care. I know even though I am just one person, one voice, I can and will make a difference. One day at a time I will teach another about fair trade and why YES IT DOES MATTER. I will encourage another to buy fair trade whenever possible and explain why it matters. I will influence as many as I can toward  greener life, towards caring about what they purchase and why. To influence others to care about the little girls and women that hope and pray daily that someone like me cares.   What about you?? Think about it.   See you tomorrow   :)  
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