A Song Begins to Form / Surprising Mental Benefits of Clean Eating / Friday: at School (Shakespeare Rehearsal)

“Nighttime sharpens,
Heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs,
And wakes imagination
Silently the senses
Abandon their defenses

Slowly, gently
Night unfurls it’s Splendor
Grasp it, sense it
Tremulous and tender.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart,
Richard Henry, Zachary Stilgoe

Remembering my precious “Kirby”.

There’s a whisper in the dark,
as Life comes to be
unafraid
to pierce the night
with imagination
and Love
and Light.
Unfolding in our dreams
we come to be,
where it seems,
there is no end
to what we can see.

Then a song begins to form
from deeply felt memories
that once were we,
echoing Love’s harmony
and joined in endless
flight
heard throughout the World
of our awareness,
on this precious
night.

And intoned we hear,
we shall never be alone,
as Hearts beat as one,
and again we find Love,

joined by cherished voices from the past,
and a deep Abiding Love
from Above.

“Oh Great Spirit,
Whose Voice I hear in the winds,
And whose Breath gives life to all the world,
hear me!
I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in Beauty,
and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength,
not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy –
myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when Life fades,
as the fading sunset
my Spirit

may come to you without shame.”
– Native American Prayer
listen here

Such is
the Miracle of Love,
that it goes
on and on and on.
Not through time,
that may have never really existed,
or space,
not without end,
but through
Grace,
Everlasting to Everlasting.
Such is the Precious Love of
God.

“Grace, amazing Grace,
takes the powerful nature of Love
to the next level.
Grace is the width, and depth, and breadth of Love
reaching out, rippling across the ponds of time
to reach into the Hearts
of the lost and searching.
Grace is the freeing element of Love.”
Antwuan Malone
read more

I am rendered silent
when trying to fathom
the “Grace” of God’s Love.
How great is the Love of our Father?
Were we to spend our entire Life
trying to comprehend,
we could never grasp
its depth.

“Yea,
I have Loved thee

with an everlasting Love;
therefore with Loving kindness
have I drawn thee.”
– Jeremiah 31:3

Day after day
God’s Love
rises like the Dawn,
and always shines
upon you and me.

And through the dark of night
voices from the past
keep calling,
until
the Light of Dawn
chases away
every whisper
of our remembrances and imaginings
that begged to stay.

Annie and Alex, ages 8 and 5 (1992)

Old friends they are,
the rocks I tread upon –
I kick out from
under my bare feet.
Familiar they are,
these old friends
as comforting as the
ground,
belonging to me
as I to them.

My memory
seemingly seeps from the
Sacred soil
and back into me,
giving me
a sense of Peace,
finding some comfort
here.

 The silence is my teacher.
The calming air I breathe,
I find warm and inviting
and free.

Under the comforting warmth
of a beautiful spreading Tree,
I look to the Heavens
through the flickering,
whispering leaves.

This Sacred Place
I can never leave –
It never left me.
I belong here,
beneath the beautiful
canopy
of God’s Eternal Love.
What God provides
in Nature,
nurtures me.
It steals my Heart,
and leaves my Spirit
free.

I Pray
you will find
God’s Love
hidden deep within
the Forest
of your Heart.

“There is One Ultimate Loving Energy
that is present in all that exists.
You may call it whatever you are comfortable with:
God, Spirit, Source, the Great I Am, Allah, Yahweh, etc.
This is not a personality outside of us,
but rather a Presence within each of us.
We are inherently Spiritual Beings
having a Human experience.
We live in an abundant, unlimited Universe
and within us lies all the Wisdom, Love and Power
needed to create full, Joyous
prosperous lives.”
– Rev. Lee Wolak
Agape Center For Spiritual Living

Such moments
as I am with my Mother,
Nature,
truly magnify
the Miracle of Life
in me.

Goodnight

What God provides in Nature, nurtures me.

“Did you ever think
That we could be so close, like brothers.
The future’s in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change.
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
in the wind of change
Walking down the street
Distant memories
Are buried in the past forever.”
Klaus Meine
listen here

The Surprising Benefits of Clean Eating

by Matthew Solan
read more

Eating unprocessed food is a great way to improve your overall diet, but proponents say it can also do great things for your mental health.

Erica learned the hard way how food affects her physical and mental health. Ten years ago, she worked in the high-pressure, go-go-go TV industry. Meals were devoured in minutes. Drinking two cans of Coke a day was the norm.

The work stress became overwhelming, and she soon left. But it wasn’t until later that she made the connection between what she ate and how it made her feel.

“I was not happy and my job at that time was no longer rewarding,” she says, “but I came to understand how my eating habits and choices had contributed to that.”

Erica realized that her food choices had aggravated her episodes of stress – and, conversely, that her stress had contributed to poor food choices.

“When I adopted a clean eating diet, where I cut out the processed and comfort foods, I immediately noticed a change not only in my mood, but how I reacted when things went wrong,” Erica says.

“No longer was my instinct to reach for the chips, soda, or ice cream.”

Less packaged, more whole

The term “clean eating” is trendy nowadays.

An entire magazine is devoted to the subject. From TV chef Curtis Stone and Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey to actresses Anne Hathaway and Jessica Alba, a slew of personalities and celebrities swear by clean eating.

But what does it mean exactly?

“Without all the excess sugar from processed foods and dairy, I had much less of the mental ups and downs that can happen when faced with daily stress.

“There are a lot of different interpretations, and no one fixed definition,” says

Pamela Fergusson, RD, PhD, a registered dietitian and consultant with Fresh Start Nutrition in Toronto.

“But generally, it refers to eating less processed foods and more whole foods.”

That means food in its natural or near-natural state, with minimal or no added chemicals, additives, or refined sugar. Ideally, what you eat should not be processed, or minimally processed, allowing it to retain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.

One way to approach clean eating is to skip anything that comes in a box, can, or similar packaging.

But there are exceptions.

“For instance, beans come in cans that may add a little extra salt for flavor and preservation, but they are still beans, which are a nutritious whole food,” Fergusson notes.

You can ID processed foods as those that undergo changes from their natural state: think instant oatmeal instead of steel-cut oats, or French fries instead of whole potatoes.

Sound simple?

For the most part, it is.

“Clean eating encourages eating more of the right kind of foods without thinking about low-fat, low-calorie, or low-carb,” says Fergusson.

If you follow a particular eating plan – including a vegetarian, vegan or Paleo diet – you can still incorporate clean eating into your regimen. Just make a point to avoid processed staples.

For instance, vegetarians may enjoy frozen veggie burgers, but they don’t meet the guidelines of clean eating. Vegans may opt for soy cheese, but that’s often made with additives and preservatives.

Food-mood connection 

Clean eating can have a positive impact on your mood. Indeed, research is beginning to demonstrate how our food choices – not just what we eat, but what we don’t eat – can influence how we think and feel.

The scientific connection between our brain and food is an intertwining path, but here’s an abbreviated version:

When you get stressed, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode, releasing the hormones adrenal and cortisol to combat the stressful event. This reaction typically suppresses our appetite.

If stress persists, however, and you find yourself in a constant state of worry, anxiety, or prolonged exposure to stressful situations, these hormones overload the body and cause heightened inflammation and negative emotions.

“The worse someone feels, the more likely they will seek comfort,” explains Eva Selhub, MD, author of the books Your Health Destiny, The Love Response and Your Brain on Nature.

“Food can act as that comfort, which is why we call foods high in fat and sugar ‘comfort foods.’”

While it can make people feel better in the short term, comfort food serves only as a temporary fix, Selhub warns.

“You find yourself craving more feel-good foods to help fight the stress,” she says. “High amounts of these trans fats and high-sugar foods can further flame inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, which creates more mental fog and depression.”

Healthy diet, enhanced mood

While your diet can contribute to stress, it may also control how your brain responds to them.

That’s why the goal of clean eating is to eliminate unhealthy “feel-good” food and replace it with natural choices that can actually promote greater brain health.

Studies have found that people who follow the Mediterranean diet, for example – which includes plenty of whole vegetables and fruits, unprocessed grains, fish, and other seafood – have a 25%-35% lower risk of depression compared with those who follow a typical “Western” diet high in processed and refined foods.

One reason that a diet abundant in natural-state foods benefits your brain and mood is that these foods contain high amounts of antioxidants, which have been shown to not only soothe inflammation and oxidative stress but help prevent it in the first place.

A “sweeter” outlook, naturally

If you battle unhealthy cravings as part of your stress, clean eating is a way to break free from your dependence.

Taylor, co-owner of St. Pete Strength and Conditioning in Florida, turned to clean eating when he became more dedicated to his weight-training regimen.

His approach: stick with foods close to their natural state, which helped eliminate high amounts of refined sugar in his diet.

Taylor says he noticed an almost instant change for the better.

“I’m detailed-oriented, I sweat the small stuff, and I get stressed easily. But the clean eating helps me stay more focused and not get sidetracked with distractions.”

Taylor pointed to cutting out sugar, a feeder of inflammation, as the main factor for his improved outlook.

“Without all the excess sugar from processed foods and dairy, I have much less of the mental ups and downs that can happen when faced with daily stress. I’m much better able to go with the flow,” he says.

Another advantage to clean eating is that it can expand your palate, so you’re not always stuck in a food rut.

“Clean eating encourages eating more of the right kind of foods without thinking about low-fat, low-calorie, or low-carb.”

“Clean eating is more about what you can have rather than what you can’t have,” says Rebecca Katz, MS, author of The Healthy Mind Cookbook.

“You’ll discover that when you eliminate a lot of processed ingredients, you’ll add more fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats that can turn into Technicolor meals full of bright greens, reds, and yellows.”

For her part, Erica discovered the many wonders of kale through clean eating.

“I learned that it was such a nutrient-rich food, and there were many ways to use it,” she says. “I use it in my breakfast smoothie, on lunchtime sandwiches, and as a side dish for dinner.”

Keep in mind that clean eating is designed to be flexible, so your healthy efforts will not collapse if you take a day off. If anything, the mental benefits of clean eating make it easier to rebound without guilt or stress.

“Now if I slip up, even over a few days, I’m aware of it and can more easily get back on track,” says Erica. “I don’t stress about it. That’s what’s so great about making positive change – it stays with you.”

Tips to Get Started

Here are some tips for making the move into clean eating:

Begin with breakfast. It’s a smaller meal and easier to prepare. Replace processed cereal with oatmeal, or a smoothie made with almond milk, greens, and frozen fruit.

Plan your meals. Organize and prep your meals for the week over the weekend. Have your fruits and vegetables chopped and stored in a container ready to go. It’s easier to reach into the fridge and grab what you need than to feel overwhelmed trying to prepare an entire meal from scratch.

Make a sweep of your kitchen. Get rid of processed foods lurking in your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer. “This frees up space for you to add healthier alternatives that make cooking much more efficient,” says Katz.

Examples of “Clean Eating” Foods

The focus of clean eating is to consume more whole foods in their natural state and to avoid heavily processed foods.

When in doubt, read the label. “The ingredient list should be short and recognizable,” says Katz. “If you can’t say them, don’t eat them.”

Avoid anything with chemical-sounding names or phrases like “artificial coloring” and “flavors.” Here are a few examples of food staples that make up clean eating, according to Katz:

  • Healthy fats such as olive oil, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil
  • Fresh fruits – or canned, frozen, or dried fruit with no added sugar
  • Fresh vegetables – or canned or frozen vegetables with no added sauces or salt
  • Nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts
  • Organic or vegetarian eggs
  • Unrefined grains, like whole-grain wheat bread and pasta, non-microwave popcorn, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and whole-wheat flour
  • Canned beans and legumes with little or no added salt (rinsing can reduce sodium by 35%)
  • Plain yogurt
  • Plain nut butters
  • Unsweetened almond or cashew milk
  • Organic or grass-fed meat, including beef and chicken
  • Fresh or frozen fish, including Pacific cod, salmon, and tilapia
  • Herbs and spices such as turmeric, basil, rosemary, cinnamon, and ginger

Cooking Tip

How you prepare your food can also help you eat clean. Stick with flash-cook methods like stir-frying and steaming, which lock in more vitamins and minerals. Avoid high-fat cooking techniques, like deep frying or stewing your food in animal or vegetable fats.

“Hold on to what is good,
even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
even if I’ve gone away from you.”
Pueblo Indian Prayer

Beneath the beautiful canopy of God’s Eternal Love.

IMPORTANT  DATES:

April 28             Scarborough Renaissance Festival (Weather permitting)
May 1                TUITION DUE for 2017-18
May 15 & 16      Shakespeare Production at Stage West Theater
May 22 – 26       Adventure Trip
May 26               Last Day of Semester.

Copyright Disclaimer – Section 107 – Copyright Act 1976,
allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship,and research. Fair use is permitted by copyright statute. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of “fair use”.

Lyrics/song texts are property and copyright of their owners and provided for educational purposes.

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