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Food for thought.

Living a healthy life has always been my priority. Health, to me, includes diet, spirituality, relationships, and finances. I'm striving to find growth, balance, and delight in all these areas. It's my mission.

When I left New York for Arizona, many things changed for me. I went back to being a vegetarian. This is a big deal, and I'll discuss more later. I stopped drinking too much wine, and I stopped eating my feelings. I was doing both to self-medicate. The world is a crazy place, and whether the vice is food, drink, or some other combination of distractions, most people have something they turn to.

I started moving my body. I committed to my spiritual practice again. It took time, but I was getting back to Me. This Me was going to be wiser with more love and compassion and would learn from her mistakes--so, a new and improved Me. This was probably easier for me because I moved to the International Kadampa Retreat Center Grand Canyon when it was a year away from opening the 5th Kadampa Temple for World Peace. If you ever need to do a re-set in life, I highly recommend living and volunteering on a Temple Project to help that process along.

Over the last two years, I've lost about 40 pounds. Eczema that appeared in the cook of my arm and on my eyelids disappeared. I fit in my clothes again. I started sleeping better, and my mental and physical energy increased in a positive direction. I love the outdoors and hiking, and I have some space at home that I do yoga, pilates, and weights, so staying fit is definitely part of my life now. I'm not confident in my physical strength, but I know that I can accomplish anything I want. So, being physically fit is the medicine that I know is good for me. This is a long term goal, and I know I need help with this one.

I began brewing kombucha when I lived in Arizona. A hobby creating delicious and nutritious beverages that I could share with others was a win-win for me. Kombucha not only gave me something to be crafty and creative at, but it also provided an adult-like beverage to enjoy.

Being a vegetarian isn't something that came to me easily. I was raised in the South, where a meal without meat wasn't a meal. I decided to become a vegetarian when I became a practicing Buddhist. I don't eat animals because they are living beings, and I care about them. My food did not have a face and a mom.

I practice non-judgment. I don't judge people based on how they eat, pray, love, work, or live in general. I've made certain decisions on how and where I spend my money and time. Those are my decisions. Live and let live, as they say. I have Buddhist friends who eat meat because of health reasons. I have non-Buddhist friends who are vegetarian because they love animals. I also have friends who abstain from meat because they understand the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Regardless of your personal views on eating meat, if you are reading this, you probably have heard of climate change and factory farming's environmental effects. It's not a charming scenario. I'm not judging, but I do see the hypocritical nature of people who stand on their political soap-box and enjoy eating animals at every meal. It's time to face facts; eating meat isn't good for the plant or the animals.

I would love to be Vegan, but I really like cheese. I'm considering giving it up, but that would be a big deal because delicious cheese is a divine taste explosion in my mouth. Not American cheese, or Velveeta or processed cheese. No, no, no. I delight in sharp cheddars, sometimes a Manchego, or Gruyère, but my current favorite is the local Beecher's Flagship 4 year Aged that a friend recently shared and recommended. It's the crystals. You can taste them. It's so delicious.

The new improved me also drinks wine, but it's not for self-medication anymore. I'm partial to local Washington State red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot for now.

I've found that cooking and eating at home is the best way to lose unwanted pounds. Add movement and mindfulness, and you have a recipe for a healthy life. I drink coffee with oat milk for breakfast every day. We add greens, mostly arugula, to every meal. We eat simply on most days. We always include the best coffee and tea, a healthy and delicious smoothie, morsels of dark chocolate, or local vegan ice cream. The local Crumpet Shop at the Public Market provides scrumptious crumpets with ricotta, walnuts, and honey, which we enjoy on the regular too. We go to the Starbucks Reserve store to check out what specialty coffees and treats they are serving. We are partial to the Origin Flight and the Funghi pizza. There are so many local food options on the list, so I can't wait to share more. In the is delicious, and I'm enjoying every single bite.

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