Sunday, February 26, 2012

Don't skimp on health...or cacciatore

"Let's just agree right now that we are not going to skimp on our health." mon amour says convincingly.

This statement comes as we stand in the middle of a health food store and I am considering the merit of buying a Spoonk.  My purse is bulging with the tin of tennis balls I have also just purchased, at the advice of the massage therapist who treated me a couple days ago.   

I am slightly desperate.  Muscle pain in my upper back is begging for attention.  My punishment for years of hunching and far too much time spent sitting at my laptop lately. 

A woman from Denmark, who just happens to be in the store, passes by and tells me they are popular there and she has been using it for years with great success.  I can't get in line fast enough to buy my new treasure. 

Back home again, I don my apron and soon chicken and sausage cacciatore, studded with sundried olives and artichokes, is simmering.  Then I place tennis balls between my back and the wall and slowly roll from side to side...little moans accompany each move.  I decide that this may be the best $4.99 I have spent in a long time.  Such an inexpensive and effective way to massage that spot in between my shoulder blade and spine that I simply cannot reach any other way.  Mon chat is also very pleased as she takes one of the balls off to play with.  Next, I roll out my "spoonk" accupressure mat and ease myself on to it.  A few seconds of "what was I thinking this really hurts", then a few moments later the pleasant feeling of increased circulation, and in five minutes a gentle warmth. 

Will it live up to it's promises of relieving muscle tension, providing pain relief, decreasing stress, and improving sleep.  Please let it be true.  Then I roll it up and place it next to the 40 inch rebounder that was delivered this morning.  Yes, we are not skimping on our health.

I am reminding myself to sit up straight as I type this.  Just as I will when we sit down with a robust bottle of red wine and a big bowl of cacciatore.  However, you may feel free to sit any way you choose when you enjoy yours. 

k's Slow Cooker Cacciatore (enough for four good sized portions)

2 chicken breasts (cut in half crosswise or four thighs - whatever you prefer(skinless...boneless too if you like...but the bones do add flavor)
2 hot italian sausages (remove casing and cut into bite size pieces)
28 ounces or so, of Italian tomatoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (choose a color you like)
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 or more garlic cloves, finely chopped
a good splash of red wine
1 jar of artichokes, halved or quartered
3 good spoons of capers
20 or more pitted sundried black olives
a few oregano leaves or one teaspoon dried
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Oh...and if you happen to have the rind from a wedge of parmesan...put it in too...I save them up for just this sort of thing.

handful of fresh basil
handful of fresh italian parsley
parmigiano reggiano

Place bell pepper, carrot, and onion in slow cooker.  Place chicken and sausage on top. Sprinkle with garlic, artichokes, capers, and olives.   Pour tomatoes and wine over everything.  A little fresh sea salt and a good grind of fresh pepper, and that parmigiano rind if you have it, before closing the lid.  The slow cooker will take it from here.  Soon the aroma starts to warm your home and in anywhere from two to four hours, depending on your setting, you will open it to reveal a heavenly, earthy, dish.  All it needs is a topping of basil and parsley and a grating of parmesan.  I like a little lemon zest too.

Spoon over pasta, polenta, risotto, or savour all on its own.  Mon amour would say that crusty bread is not optional.  I say that a glass of good red wine makes it perfect.

All good things, k

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Someone Else

I was consoling a dear friend recently. 

A broken heart and health issue had literally left her breathless.  As we sat amongst the wine and kleenex, she suddenly said she had to get home to shovel the snow in the driveway.  Then proceeds to tell how hard it had been to do it earlier this week.  That she had to do it in stages, stopping at intervals to rest and breathe.  "There are so many things wrong with this story." I said.

But, it is a story that I know only too well.  We all do.  The "if I don't do it who will" fairytale.

I have a book of these stories.

It is what led me to take my freshly injured foot, cram it into a shoe, hobble on to two planes and partake in several days of meetings before, no longer being able to cope, to then and only then, see a doctor for the x-ray I should have had immediately.   My foot was broken in three places.  It has never properly healed....and won't. 

The times you should have stayed put in bed, but struggled up, clutching kleenex in one hand, aching head in the other, to get to the office, drive a friend to the airport, or prepare a dinner party for fourteen.  My son calls it "putting on your cape", as in trying to be a super hero.

So fold up the cape.  Or better yet, let it drape across the foot of your bed...crumpled for effect.  For today let someone else shovel the driveway, attend the meeting, bake cupcakes for the party. 

We will all take our turn.  If today is yours, settle in, pull the blanket up tight, two hands around the warm tea cup.  Who is going to do it?  Someone else.

"New members are urgently needed in the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Yourself.  Apply within."   Unknown

All good things, k

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Treat Yourself

Everyone deserves a treat.

Not just once in a while, but all the time.  This is within reach.  It has little to do with your finances and everything to do with your perspective.

When my son was little, he and I were out getting a few groceries with a friend.  She said to him, "Pick out any orange you like and I will buy it for you."  It took a few minutes for him to choose from the mountain of oranges.  Several were thoroughly examined until he found just the right one.  It was then carried with great pride through the store.  Our friend had the cashier ring it through separately. 

When we returned home, she washed and cut it, then placed it on a plate with a big napkin.  It was then carried to the table, where he was watching and waiting, like a beautiful gift.  It was. 

I don't know if either he or she remember that.  But I do.

Treat yourself.  Take that bowl of morning oatmeal, but today, warm the milk, drizzle a little honey, and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Open the package of deliciously scented soap you received at Christmas and fill the bathtub.  Pour afternoon tea in your most beautiful cup. 

There is nothng to wait for.  Today, and every day, is a special occasion.  Treat yourself.

"One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats."  Iris Murdoch

All good things, k

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Remembering David

Dr. David Simon passed away this week.

When he first shared he'd been diagnosed with a brain tumour, I felt sure that this ayurvedic, meditating, spiritual, healer, loving, man would soon be well again.  A neurologist and vaidya recognized for his work in mind, body, emotions, and health - he would be well again soon.  The very best of every form of treatments were being brought to bear - he would be well again soon. Healing prayers being sent from around the world - he would be well again soon.

But on January 31st, his best friend and Chopra Center partner, Deepak Chopra let us know that was not to be. 

As I read the words I wept.  I wept for his family, for his friends, for all those who had experienced his healing touch, and for those who now never would.  In amongst it all there were also tears for what felt like hopelessness.  If someone so pure of heart, mind, and body, could succumb in this way, what is there to do.

Then I remembered.  We don't do those things in order to live forever.  We do it in order to experience the fullness of every day we have.  

David leaves behind a body of work, including his books, which will continue to inspire and the world is remembering and responding with an outpouring of love on a special website Remembering David, created for the community to share their stories and celebrate the life of a man who touched so many lives, including mine.

"The best use of a physician's knowledge is to teach patients how to heal themselves."
~ Dr. David Simon

All good things, k