Language

It’s no secret: I love culture.  And I love the vehicle of culture, the vessel by which it is transmitted: language.

Learning other languages, such as Brazilian portugûes and español have really helped to broaden my view of the world.  It is such a gift to be able to communicate with people from other cultures and different countries in their own language, because it facilitates understanding of the beliefs, values and attitudes of that culture.

I have been very blessed to have the opportunity to travel to some beautiful countries and immerse myself in different cultures, and I hope to share this gift one day.

I strongly encourage anyone to pursue learning a second language-it can be a challenge but it’s not as impossible as you may think! There are some really great channels on YouTube where you can learn not only about the language, but the culture surrounding the language as well.  Who knows, you might even be inspired to visit one of them someday!

I personally use and highly recommend duolingo, both the website and the mobile app.

Please post any comments below about your favorite culture, language or if you have had any interesting experiences in learning another language or visiting another country.  And keep exploring our beautiful world through language and/or travel-it is medicine for the soul!

Gluten Free Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

The recipe is a title that is almost as much of a delicious mouthful as these muffins!

I like to add my own “flavor” to interesting recipes I come across, and today I did just that.  I was looking for a yummy way to incorporate the spiralized zucchini I had left over from dinner last night.  With this recipe I have thus combined my love for the two kitchen tools I find myself using more and more: my Vaggetti Pro (vegetable spiralizer) and the amazing Blendtec.

And away we go!

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups rolled oats (uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 ripened, brown bananas
  • 1 small zucchini (about 1 1/2 cup once spiralized)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbs white vinegar

Steps

Wash zucchini and cut off ends.  Use the smallest blade on the Veggetti spiralizer to spiralize the zucchini and discard the leftover end.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tin with virgin unprocessed coconut oil.  Place oats and flours into Blendtec.  Pulse 5-7 times until the oats have been pulverized into flour and the flours are thoroughly mixed.  Add all dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips into large mixing bowl and stir well with wooden spoon.

Mash ripe bananas in medium mixing bowl and add in zucchini spirals.  Stir together until well mixed-zucchini should be completely wet with the mashed banana.  Add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Fold in dry ingredients with the wet.  Once mixed together fold in chocolate chips.  Mix well and pour the mixture into the muffin cups, they will each be about 3/4 full.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (you can check doneness with a toothpick/fork/knife).  Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Mimosa (not the brunch beverage)

I first became acquainted with the non-alcoholic meaning of the word when I was bautizado (baptized) “Mimosa” by Mestre Samurai, my Capoeira instructor.  Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian dance-martial art performed to music that was developed by African slaves brought to Brazil, allowing them to practice martial arts, self-defense, and all-around body toning and flexibility right under the noses of their European oppressors.

Mimosa, or silk tree, has its origins in China and has been spread all over the world.  Brazil, for example, is home to a type of mimosa.  The delicate, beautiful silk flowers may be the influence for the term in Brazilian portugûes, which is used as a term of endearment for a sweet girl.  It is also the Brazilian equivalent of “Bessie,” which Brazilian farmers call their beloved cows.

According to Global Healing Center (http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-the-mimosa-tree/), the bark, flowers and leaves of the tree have long been used both in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as well as by peoples of Central America for its health benefits.  Healing properties included improving mood, aiding in healing of trauma or burns, toothache, skin disorders, colds and cough and aiding in the coagulation of blood, or the cessation of bleeding.  It has also been used to boost immunity.  I was so excited to see a bonsai version of the tree I couldn’t stop myself from ordering one from an Etsy store.  The Mimosa adds a beautiful, unique element of beauty to my green-friendly home.  I love it!

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the ancient healing arts developed thousands of years ago in the ancient Chinese civilization.  As one of the pillars of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is an effective therapy that is currently gaining a wider acceptance in Western Medicine to treat and lessen symptoms of conditions such as headaches, labor pain, fibromyalgia, chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting and menstrual cramps, to name a few (Mayo Clinic, 2016).  The World Health Organization has also recognized 40 conditions for which acupuncture treatment is effective (UCSF, 2012).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes acupuncture’s ability to manage chronic pain efforts, although it maintains the politically correct skepticism and inconclusive statements; I personally wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that it is much more cost effective than prescribing drugs to manage pain…

As for me-as you can see-I am a believer! I was introduced to acupuncture by a dear friend (you can check out her website at www.AuriannaJoy.com) who sought healing in Eastern Medicine after discovering shortcomings of Western Medicine to simply manage the symptoms rather than treat and heal the cause of disease.  She found truth and healing in acupuncture and shared that with me.

I have now been experiencing the healing effects of acupuncture for the past 6 years and am grateful to the healing benefits it offers.  I can always feel my qi (that’s the TCM term for energy) flowing during treatment sessions and leave feeling either refreshed or relieved, as if weight is lifted from my shoulders.  For me, the mental and emotional aspect of healing that acupuncture provides is just as, if not more valuable than the physical healing it assists.  Anxiety, depression, pent-up emotions from many years in the past, these are just a few of the conditions that are released with the use of acupuncture.

Feel free to learn more using the Western and Eastern Medicine links posted below, and leave a comment or ask a question if you like.  Cheers!

 

Eastern

http://acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_nov16/res.htm

http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/balanced-living/wellness-therapies/traditional-chinese-medicine/

Western

http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/basics/definition/prc-20020778

Acupuncture and Integrative Chinese Medicine

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/chinesemed.htm

Hope

In lieu of the week’s presidential election results, I would like to offer a sentiment which I have been working diligently all week to cultivate: Hope.

I am hopeful for the people of my country and the world in which I live.  I am hopeful that beautiful, peaceful ideas of acceptance of each others’ differences and forgiveness of shortcomings will take root and blossom into a positive future.  A future in which we respect the earth and the plants and animals that live and die to create an optimal living environment for all, including us humans.  In which we come together locally to peacefully discuss changes that we want to see in our own communities.  In which we empower ourselves and each other to become informed about issues that affect our fellow people and take a stand to protect and help those in need who do not have a voice.

I was raised knowing that “Love hopes all things.” So let us love one another-everyone-and let us have hope.  But hope is not merely a feeling or a wish; hope involves expectation, anticipation.  What we expect and anticipate can only be brought about by creating goals, planning and designing a way by which to arrive at those goals.  As with most things in life, this is best-and at times only-achieved collectively.  So I am anticipating great conversations, the sharing of information and the openness of minds that accept other points of view and work to peacefully find common ground.

I’d like to start that right here and now.  Please share any thoughts about what positive changes you would like to see in your community, country, world, right here.  Let’s discuss with open hearts and open minds in hopes of finding common ground upon which to create and travel the path of our lives together.

Thank a Nurse!

I recently reflected that I have officially been licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN) for 7 years.  Holy crap.  I can’t believe I survived that long in the nursing profession and am STILL in it!! Nursing is TOUGH work.  I mean, grueling, thankless, depressing, exhausting.  However, it is also highly rewarding, self-revealing and amazing.  I have nothing but respect to all the caring, prudent nurses out there who are still practicing in hospitals, in clinics, nursing homes.  Thank you so much for all you do, every day.  You may rarely get the recognition you deserve, but you are significant to the lives of every person you provide care for.

If you know or are in close proximity to any nurse, please, express your gratitude for their service and caring spirit-they sacrifice themselves to give their energy to others every day.  Nurses are love.  Peace be with all nurses.  

Ode to my Mother

When it comes to sharing the joys of traveling, I must begin by expressing my gratitude to my lovely mother.

My mom is a remarkably strong lady.  She overcame a childhood of emotional and psychological abuse by a father who probably was not shown much love in his own childhood.  Her joyful spirit and kind, generous nature-as well as her faith in God and higher love-strengthened her to endure years of living in a stressful environment.

Breaking the cycle.  That’s what my mom was all about.  She set the power of her mind to also break the cycle of poverty which was the backdrop of her upbringing.  Instead of rebelling against the negative influence of her father in a self-destructive way, she put her energy into studying and working hard in school, devoting herself to musical projects and studying Christian principles like love and forgiveness, which she continuously chose to apply to her life.  She studied for hours until it was too dark to read (her father did not allow use of electric lights after the sun went down).  She earned a scholarship and pursued higher education at the University of Florida, where she lived in a dorm to save money and worked part time in addition to studying.  She disciplined herself to live frugally-that means within her means, not spending money on frivolous items that were not necessary-and kept her standard of living low so that she could save money and sidestep the trap we call debt.

She was determined to give her children the opportunities that she never had, which means she invested the hard-earned money that she exchanged for years of her life’s energy into college tuition programs, wedding gift funds and gifts of many forms-academic, leisure and travel.  The greatest of these gifts was travel.

Not only did she take and send us-myself and my sister, Rebecca-on trips to beautiful places like Canada, Mexico and Yellowstone, she instilled in us the value of living within one’s means, saving one’s resources for the most important goals in one’s life and living in financial freedom.

The subsequent trips I have made over the course of my life would not have been possible without the tutelage and guidance of my mother.

My strong, beautiful, wise, patient, kind, gentle, loving mother.  This and all travel posts to come are dedicated to her.  Thank you for teaching me the value of living within my means, mom.  Thank you for teaching me not to use a credit card unless I could afford to pay off the entire amount spent right now.  Thank you for taking me to amazing places when I was young, even though I didn’t appreciate or see the significance of what you and it was doing for me and my life.  I appreciate it now and evermore, more than I can express.  Thank you.