Fabulous Actresses

The fabulous actresses that are Anne Hathaway, Amy Adams, Sally Field, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Helen Hunt and Marion Cotillard, join The Hollywood Reporter’s news editor Matt Belloni and executive editor Stephen Galloway in an uncensored ’roundtable interview’.

On my first trip to L.A., back in the day when I thought I might give the acting thing ‘a go’, my old friend Mickey Knox, advised me to get myself a copy each, of the Hollywood Reporter and Variety, two must-haves, if I wanted to be on top of what was going down in the town!

The Hollywood Reporter is an American publication that’s been around since the 1930’s, reporting on … you’ve guessed it … what’s going on in the Hollywood movie industry!!  These days, so much good stuff is being produced out-of-Hollywood, it would be a bit limiting for them to stay focused just there, so now their reports encompass the broader ‘The Entertainment Industry’, and not just lil ol’ cutesie Hollywood!

It’s considered a most reputable publication, so it is with pleasure I bring you this uncensored interview with these lovely ladies.

I admire ALL these actresses and quite enjoy observing how they behave and interact, and to hear their personal reflections and experiences.  I especially appreciate it in these times of super-speedy information sharing and opinionated, paparazzi snapping, assumption based, biased reporting, not to mention those dreadful trashy magazines whose stories always seem to be based on “a close friend’s” remark!!!  Hahaha!

I prefer to enjoy something like this, as to me it is an offering from them to us.  Something we are presented with – an invitation to take, in a way that is less parasitic than a lot of the bombardment of ‘celebrity’ life that is flung at us daily!!

An intimate, and generous little revelation of themselves.  Of course it is set up, it is a structure that is simply as intimate and honest as they decide it to be, and as revealing as they choose.  But I feel much more comfortable being in on something like this where the actresses choose what they want to project, what they want to share, than the expose scenario, which just makes me shudder.

Anyway … hope you enjoy it too …

 

 

Compassion Training

I’ve always wanted to study at Stanford …. heh heh heh … 

Seriously though, I came across this workshop through my subscription to the Wake Up Project … I’m thinking I’m going to do this … it looks interesting … I need to learn me some more of that stuff …

STANFORD’S CENTRE FOR COMPASSION & ALTRUISM, RESEARCH & EDUCATION (CCARE) is a world-class academic centre within Stanford Universities School of Medicine. It was founded by Dr. James Doty – a renowned neurosurgeon, entrepreneur and philanthropist. It’s purpose is to scientifically study the neural, mental and social basis of compassion and altruism. In 2009, His Holiness the Dalai Lama provided his largest ever donation to help establish CCARE.

stanford-compassion

Compassion Training  

Here are the details taken from Wake Up Project‘s website:

Date/Time: November 1-3, 2013. Friday – Sunday 9am-4pm

Location: Mary Mackillop Place, Cnr Mount St & William St North Sydney, North Sydney, New South Wales.

Ticket Information

TICKET TYPE             SALES END         PRICE

Early Bird Ticket:    Sep 29, 2013         A$595.00

Standard Ticket:      Oct 31, 2013         A$745.00

Please note: All tickets are non-refundable, but fully transferable. In other words: if you can’t attend, send a friend.

Event Details

A 3-DAY INTENSIVE STANFORD’S COMPASSION TRAINING

Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) is a highly respected and science-based program designed to improve health, happiness and resilience. Research suggests that living with compassion vastly enriches purpose, lowers anxiety and fosters positive relationships in workplaces, homes and schools. In this program, you’ll learn practical skills for cultivating emotional resilience, vitality and thriving in a fast-paced world. Experience a 3-day immersion in compassion cultivation based on the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program developed by scientists and psychologists at Stanford University. Join us in creating a more compassionate and resilient society

> Reduce stress and engage more fully with life

> Develop skills to thrive in a fast-paced world

> Cultivate resilience, wellbeing & genuine happiness

> Foster empathy & cooperation in your personal & professional life

> Nurture a rewarding & compassionate lifestyle

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”
The Dalai Lama

Trainers

Margaret Cullen is a pioneer in the area of integrating mindfulness-based programs in business, health care and academic settings. She is a licensed therapist, educator and certified Teacher in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction based out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Margaret studied at Harvard University and is the author of innovative articles such as “Opening the Heart at Stanford, Google and Beyond” and “The Science of Goodness”.

Dr. Erika Rosenberg is a leader in the areas of human emotion, emotional functioning through meditation and a world-renowned expert in facial expression measurement using theFacial Action Coding System (FACS). She collaborates with scientists in the fields of psychology, medicine and computer science and currently conducts research with the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California.  She was a scientific consultant on the Fox TV drama Lie To Me and co-author of the book What the Face Reveals.

“The latest research suggests that a more compassionate workplace is a more productive, efficient and happy place to work.”

~ Stanford News

Getting There

Public TransportTrains: North Sydney station is a 5 minute walk from MMP.

Buses: Public buses stop on Miller Street and the Pacific Hwy in North Sydney. MMP is a 5 minute walk from the bus stops and two minutes from North Sydney Post Office which is on the corner of Mount St. and Pacific Hwy.

Transport Information: For information on bus and train timetables contact the Transport Infoline on 131500 or www.131500.com.au

DrivingStreet parking: is very limited and most parking stations in the area don’t open until around 11am on Sundays.

The Greenwood Plaza Car Park: is open from 6am on Mon – Sat (but does not open until 10am on Sundays). It’s located on Pacific Hwy North Sydney and is approx. 400m walk from MMP.

Lunch Tea, coffee, morning and afternoon tea will be provided. Workshop participants will need to bring their own lunch or purchase lunch from one of the nearby cafes.

 

INTERESTED BUT SKINT?

The Wake Up Project offer a helping hand:

Kindness Scholarships. We offer a handful of reduced priced scholarships per event. If cash is super tight, apply for a scholarship and we’ll do our best to help out. Please contact us and answer the following two questions: 1. What are your current challenges and why you need a scholarship? 2. What event you are applying for and why you’re excited about it? Please note: All tickets are non-refundable, but fully transferable. In other words: if you can’t attend, send a friend.

 

Have questions about Compassion Training?  Contact Wake Up Project.

Do let me know if you’re interested or thinking of coming along …

 

Just Breathe

How many times during your day, do you take a moment to just breathe?!  Do you ever even become conscious of the system and workings of that which is our life force, that without which we wouldn’t be alive?!  It’s nuts isn’t it, but most of us never even think about it!  I get a kick out of thinking about it.  It blows my mind!

Pranayama can be translated from Sanskrit to mean yogic breath control.  It is the 4th limb in yoga’s eightfold path, and is something worth practising regularly.

I do.  Every morning I spend at least 10 minutes breathing through alternate nostrils. In through the left, pause, out through the right, pause, in through the right, pause, out through the left, pause, and so on. Technically it’s called Nadi Sodana.  The nadis are the subtle energy channels that run up and down the body, or channels for the flow of consciousness, and sodana in Sanskrit means cleansing, so in yoga it is known as a practice to cleanse the energy channels, and bring the body and brain back into balance and harmony.

But for me it is a little bit more than that.  It is ten minutes out of my day that I can say is truly mine, or for me.  It is a time where I give myself the present of the present.  And it’s a time where I have real peace.  It brings stillness in that moment, and the residue of that stillness is something from which I benefit after I finish the practice.

I feel it is best to learn Nadi Sodana and other pranayama exercises from an experienced yoga teacher.  As there are contra-indications for some, and also, the breath is a powerful force.  You want all the best direction you can get to reap the most benefit.

But in the meantime, everyone can practice sitting. Yes. Just sitting!

PEACE

And I like to do it first thing in the morning for a few reasons:

1. I cringe when I hear myself spray the words “I don’t have time”.  Who DOES have time these days?  In my mind, it’s way too easy to say these words, which is why I cringe.  Time is big.  We just have to eek it out every now and then, and make our choices of how to spend it consciously. Shaping the life we want.  And so to say “I don’t have time”, for me, suggests there is not enough of it.  Some kind of deprivation.  I work towards abundance.  I know deep down, there is enough time. There is plenty of everything, especially for me. (Thank you Louise Hay!)

So I find it easier to make ten minutes for me, by waking up ten minutes earlier than I need to get going.  Those ten minutes become more elusive as the day’s moments pass.  The days that I say, “I’ll do it later”, are sadly, usually the days that I’ll be denied this gift to myself.

2. First thing in the morning is also physically and mentally an easier time for most of us to sit, as the body is still waking up and the mind is still working at a slower pace than later in the day, so it’s usually an easier time to practice stillness.

3. I feel good about making time for myself, even if it is only ten minutes – sometimes I sit for longer, like this morning, I sat in the stillness for another ten minutes of meditation because, well … I guess I needed it, but I think we all need it, I think it just felt very possible today, so I went with it.

4. Doing something that feels good is a clever way to start the day.  Nadi sodana is a calming, focusing, mind-balancing exercise, that works to slow the breathing, and I’ve shared below why this is a very beneficial thing to do.  It also works to teach us to remember to breathe diaphragmatically, is a tool to combat stress, and works to exercise the lungs and diaphragm.

I highly recommend a little morning sitting.  Don’t be afraid to start with 3 minutes, and slowly build your way up to something that will work for you. You don’t have to practise pranayama if you’re not familiar with it.  You can just sit.  Don’t worry about what happens in your mind … try not to have a rigid view of what should happen … just start with the intention of sitting comfortably and quietly first and foremost.

You can try to observe your thoughts if you like.  If you find you’re getting distressed with thoughts, refrain from being harsh towards yourself, just see what happens and notice it. Ultimately, it’s all about observing what comes up, eventually not getting caught up in the thinking through of the thoughts.

Maybe that in itself sounds too complicated for you right now?  So alternatively, maybe make it a gratitude practice.  Naming as many things as you can that you feel grateful for.  Set the timer on your phone or your watch, close your eyes and off you go!  It doesn’t have to be any particular thing or any particular way … let it just be whatever it is …. the important thing is that you do it.  That you continue to sit.  No expectations.  Just a commitment to sit.  I sit on a pillow in my bed!  But you can sit on a chair if that’s better for you.  Or on the floor – wherever, just make sure you are warm and comfortable, not straining and GOOD LUCK!  Remember it is a practice, so all you need is a little bit of discipline to keep practising.

Cartoon pranayama

I practise yoga at Sydney’s Yoga Synergy, and am a great admirer of the structure and background of their practice there.  I incorporate many of Simon & Bianca’s teachings into my classes, as I have been lucky to be able to attend some workshops with Simon on applied anatomy & physiology for yoga , and it’s added some stunning colour and texture to my understanding of yoga for the modern body.

I thought I’d share some of the golden bits for me, with you … this is about the breath … and how I practice and teach.  I definitely consider the teachings applicable on and off the mat, which never ceases to bring wonder and amazement to me!

Below I share what I have learned from some of Simon’s teachings, you can see more on the Yoga Synergy Blog.

Regulate your breath to control body and mind

Simon Borg-Olivier doing Pranayama in Kandasana

The ultimate state of pranayama (yogic breath-control) and meditation is a state where breathing is reduced as much as possible without force. However this is a process that can for most people take a life time. In order to work towards the mastery of yoga it is sometimes useful to breathe more than normal (hyperventilation) but eventually the aim to be able to comfortable live and practice while breathing less than normal (hypoventilation).

In yoga and life breathing may guided or controlled for five main reasons. These are:

  1. Physical
  2. Neurological
  3. Mental
  4. Emotional
  5. Cardiovascular
  6. Physiological

Pranayama (yogic breath-control) is the art of learning how to breathe less than normal (hypoventilation). Although sometimes fast, deep and/or complete breaths have benefits,  the less you breathe overall the better your mental capacity is and the greater is the blood flow to nourish the brain and the heart. The haemoglobin also transfers oxygen more efficiently to all the cells of the body (the Bohr effect). Many studies on meditation have shown that focus and concentration are better when you breathe less! Additionally, the nervous system is much calmer when you breathe less and this is reflected in a reduced desire to eat.

Breath-control is also useful on a mental level. Any type of focus on your breathing can help you concentrate but the nervous system works best if you breathe less than normal.

Breath-control works on the cardiovascular and circulatory system. You can enhance the movement of energy and information through your subtle channels and enhance the movement of blood and heat through your blood vessels by breathing differentially from your abdomen (diaphragmatic breathing) or from your chest (thoracic breathing). You can also bring more blood and oxygen to the brain and heart and less blood and oxygen to the arms and legs by breathing less than normal (hypoventilation). Conversely, you can bring less blood and oxygen to brain and heart and more blood and oxygen to the arms and legs by breathing more than normal (hyperventilation).

A brief summary of the the different possible effects of breathing is shown below.

1. Physical

  • Mobilising the spine
    • deep inhalation tends to cause spinal flexion (bends your spine more forward) while deep exhalation tends to cause spinal extension (bends your spine more backwards)
  • Stabilising the spine
    • the muscles of breathing out (especially from the chest) can make your spine more stable
  • Strengthening the spine and body
    • the diaphragm (the main muscle of inhalation) can be used as powerful strength muscle

2. Neurological

  • Control of the autonomic (automatic) nervous system via the diaphragm which can be controlled either by the conscious mind (somatic) or unconscious mind (autonomic)
  • Reciprocal relaxation of the muscles of abdominal exhalation (which include many of the muscles that can tend to over-tense and contribute to lower back pain) by the main muscle of inhalation (the diaphragm)

3. Mental

  • Focus on any type of breathing can help with concentration
  • Reduced breathing (hypoventilation) leaves the body slightly more acidic (with carbonic acid), which gives the physiological effect of calming the nervous system and the mind in general

4. Emotional

  • Slow abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing tends to enhance parasympathetic control of relaxation response with ahimsa (non-violence) and/or love and peace and happiness as dominant emotions
  • Faster chest (thoracic) breathing tends to enhance sympathetic control of ‘flight or fight’ response with tapas (passion to do your best) and/or fear anger and aggression as dominant emotions

5. Cardiovascular

  • deep breathing with the abdomen relax (which can be diaphragmatic and/or thoracic provided the abdomen is relaxed) causes an increase in blood flow
  • with this type of breathing heart rate increases on inhalation as does blood pressure
  • heart rate decreases and blood pressure decreases on exhalation
  • this type of breathing causes increased pressure into the abdomen on inhalation and decreased pressure on exhalation that increases blood flow and nervous system stimulation to the abdominal organs

6. Physiological

  • Reduced breathing (hypoventilation) for
    • Calmer nerves
    • Increased oxygenation and blood flow to brain and heart
    • Reduced hunger
  • Increased breathing (hyperventilation) for
    • Stimulation of nerves
    • Decreased oxygenation and blood flow to brain and heart
    • Increased hunger

Let Food Be Thy Medicine

A wise man once said ”LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE AND MEDICINE BE THY FOOD”. He was only Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Medicine’.

Em … what the hell happened?!!!

I’ve been thinking …

So if, let’s say for example, Cadbury’s advertising, can insidiously have us think that we need to eat their chocolate to “treat” ourselves, to feel better, to celebrate special occasions, to give to our children and teach THEM that this is a ”treat” ….

If advertising and the increase in creative media has fully ingrained in our psyche, that toast and packet cereal are what we eat for breakfast, that sandwiches or pasta are what we eat for lunch, that condiments with additives like corn by-products, wheat, and sugar are reasonable, every-day additions to home-cooked meals ….

… Then I’m thinking my consciously limited TV time, is indeed a blessing (less brainwashing, right?!), and instead, repeatedly watching videos like this one up the page here, is going to help me, and hey – maybe you, to remember that this way of eating is not cool folks.   This is us, allowing ourselves to be manipulated to think that packaged food is real food and perfectly fine to feed ourselves and our loved ones on regularly.  I’m all for a little in moderation.  And I’d like to believe the adverts, because yes … these foods can be faster to make.  But both my head and heart cry ‘NO’ to habitual meals being prepared, if you could call it that, in this way.

It is hard not to get swayed by the media, the beautiful images, the product placement, but when I see videos like this one, I am swayed by the science.  I’ve posted about it before here .

So, you can choose to believe it or not, you can choose to try it out and see how your body & brain responds, so that you can make up your own mind, make informed choices & conscious decisions.

Or you can continue to wonder what causes your issues, whether it be digestive problems, migraines, skin irritations, irritable bowel syndrome, overweight issues, diabetes, mood disorders including depression, aching muscles and joints, inflammation in the body, and so on, and decide to not bother reading/researching the labels on your food packaging … so maybe you don’t care … and that’s cool … I’m not saying you should … I’m just saying I do and as a matter of survival, I kind of think it’s in our interests to at least be aware that it is an issue of considerable consequence.

There is always going to be a slice of society who love this style of eating and have no intention of changing their diet, just like there will always be a slice of society that choose to continue smoking, regardless of the risk to theirs and other’s health, and the cost to the health sector.  I accept that.  And from time to time I will indulge myself in some ‘not-so-good-for-me type foods.  Sure, let there be a market for that.  But why must it be considered ‘the norm’?

My issue with it, is the veil behind which the truth is hidden.  Governments, foundations and institutes (many of whom have, shall we say, “ties” to big sugar/wheat companies) misleading people who don’t make time to research what they’re eating.  It’s a little bit evil and a big bit conspiratorial.  We are being conned, if you like!

You call me paranoid

So sharing the video above is good for starters … I find my fight against it being ‘normal’ to eat wheat and sugar is strengthened when I watch this sort of stuff.

We need to re-train the brain.

It has to start with that click with the brain I think, it has to be an “understanding”, the click that makes the story become not that we are trying NOT to eat things that are not good for us (oooh that’s a lot of nots), but that these foods actually begin to repulse us, to the same level that perhaps we may have once craved them.  Because we associate them with the negative effects we feel after we eat them.  So that it makes sense, and it also makes it much easier.  If it happens in the brain with a greater sense of understanding the whole issue, then it provides the motivation we need to organise ourselves enough to prepare the foods that will nourish and heal us, AS WELL as bringing us pleasure.  Thing is, we only notice the negative effects they may be having on us, if we ban them from our eating routine for a couple of weeks and sometimes longer.

I was so glad to see this (below) feature on ABC 1’s Catalyst program last week.  Basically taking this ‘crazy-out-there-idea-that-sugar-is-hugely-over-used-and-damaging’, that I and many others have been raving on about for the last two years, to the mainstream.  I think Maryanne De Masi and the Catalyst team, has done a great job here on explaining the science in a very accessible way. Please watch this one too, whatever you decide to eat, let it be an informed choice.  For those of you reading this interested in weight control, you might find the doctor’s research on the calories in /calories out theory interesting- how depending on what kind of calories you are eating – exercise may not make a difference to you losing weight!

I hope some of this helps click the switch in your brain!

Whatever you decide to eat, remember the most important thing of all really – to enjoy it, savour it, share it with friends, and give thanks for it!  LOVE your food!

Love Li. xo

 

 

Roast Fillet of Beef

I made this ROAST FILLET OF BEEF the other night and it was yummy, if I may say so  …

My local butcher sells beautiful direct-from-the-farm, grass fed beef, my kinda meat.  I bought a couple of small-ish fillets, with a roast in mind.

Here’s what I did:

I preheated the oven to 230*C, and lightly oiled a roasting pan with some avocado oil, and slipped it into the oven to heat up, (don’t let it burn!).  Then, I strung up each fillet with twine (to keep their shape as they cook).  I mixed up some Dijon mustard, salt, some ASAFOETIDA and gluten free plain flour.

Mustard Coat for Fillet of Beef

Then I rubbed the mix all over the fillets to coat them, and sprinkled with black pepper.

IMG_5297

Next, I browned them off on a hot oiled pan.  (I like to use coconut or avocado oil if I’m sealing or quick-frying something, as the high smoke point of these oils keeps them stable at a hot temperature and therefore better for you than the so called ‘vegetable’ oils. (There are no vegeteables in that there oil!))

Searing Fillets of Beef for Roasting

(Sealing them is totally optional!) … then to the roasting pan and they roasted for 15 minutes at 230*C, after which I reduced the heat to 200*C for a further 15 minutes, for medium-rare.  I let it rest for 15 minutes while I made the sauce.

I found this horseradish sauce in my local deli – contains no nasties.

To Make The Sauce:

Put the roasting pan with leftover juices/bits, on the hob over a medium heat.  Add the wine and bring to the boil, scraping up any beefy juices.  Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.  Strain into a small pan adding any juices from the beef.  Whisk in the horseradish sauce, butter and salt to taste, and keep warm.

I scattered the serving plate with some fresh watercress from the garden to serve, and poured the sauce into a little sauce boat for self-service.

 

IMG_5249

MY FAVOURITE SIDE FOR ROAST FILLET OF BEEF

STEAMED baby potatoes, mashed with skins on, a large knob of this (below) cultured butter, a handful of grated cheddar, a handful of grated parmesan and some sliced spring onions and mix together …. Mmmmmmmmmmmm …. I’m in (my Irish!) heaven!!

Cultured Butter

 

 

 Here’s the full Jill Dupleix Inspired Recipe:

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 prime beef fillet (grass fed) around 1.8k

1 tblsp gf flour

1/2 tspn asafoetida (optional!)

2 tblsn Dijon Mustard

Celtic sea salt

I tblspn cracked pepper

A little avocado oil for the pan

100ml red wine

100ml free range organic chicken stock

1 tblspn horseradish sauce

1 tblspn cold butter, diced

2 bunches watercress, washed

 

Method:

Heat the oven to 230*C/Gas 8.  Tuck in the tail end of the beef and tie with culinary twine to keep an even shape.  Mix the flour, mustard, asafoetida and 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt together to a paste, and spread evenly over the beef with your hands.  Sprinkle with cracked pepper.

This bit is optional: Seal the fillets in a hot oiled pan, rolling around to brown all sides.

Then place the beef fillets in a hot oiled roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes, reducing the heat to 200*C/Gas 6 for a further 15 minutes per kg, for rare to medium rare meat which is how we like fillet.

Transfer the beef to a warm plate, cover loosely with foil and rest for 15 minutes while you make the sauce.

Put the roasting pan with leftover juices/bits, on the hob over a medium heat.  Add the wine and bring to the boil, scraping up any beefy juices.  Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.  Strain into a small pan adding any juices from the beef.  Whisk in the horseradish sauce, butter and salt to taste, and keep warm.

Serve with red wine and horseradish sauce, and maybe some praties, or green beans, both, or whatever you like!

 

Hope you ENJOY!

 

Love Lila, xo

 

 

This Pothole

This pothole.

This sign

And this sign.

This unusual pet.

This unusual pet.

This Guard who is having none of it.

This Guard who is having none of it.

This sign.

This sign.

This political broadcast.

This political broadcast.

This news bulletin

This news bulletin.

This shop’s reaction to the heat.

This shop's reaction to the heat.

This community service.

This community service.

This cow getting a lift.

This cow getting a lift.

This Corkonian who got stuck in a Mc Donald’s high chair.

This Corkonian who got stuck in a Mc Donald's high chair.

This restaurant name.

This restaurant name.

This Michael “Tea” Higgins Cosy.

This tea cosy.

Jedward, wearing Irish flags, running in a race sponsored by Spar.

Jedward, wearing Irish flags, running in a race sponsored by Spar.

 This protest sign

 

This protest sign.

 This photo of Obama with a hurl.

This photo of Obama with a hurl.

This act of goodwill.

This act of goodwill.

 This flag of support for Olympic champ Katie Taylor.

This flag of support for Olympic champ Katie Taylor .

This Tweet.

This tweet.

And consequently, everything about this.

And consequently, everything about this.

Aren’t We All Graduates?

George Saunders. Photo via NY Times

Aren’t we all graduates in one way or another?  In a sense, and in my interpretation of Yoga, we are all graduating from life, IN EACH MOMENT!  That’s a lot of graduations!  The question is, are we learning from our mistakes?  Are we even recognising them.  That takes slowing down and introspection, and that’s what Yoga IS!  But hey, that’s another post!

In this one, I am sharing with you the thought-provoking speech from George Sanders.  I figured if we were graduating that many times, then this is something we could all benefit from.  

George Saunders delivered the convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013.  He speaks about the need for kindness and how life’s path can conspire against us achieving it, the risk in focusing too much on “success” (an old soapbox favourite of mine!), and other gems.  

Now can I ask you to ask yourself, when is the last time you found a quiet ten minutes, and read something that could truly be beneficial to you, (and no NOT a trashy magazine article!), something that might actually ASSIST you in graduating to the next phase of you, with a high distinction?!!  For goodness sake, lock yourself in the bathroom if you must, but read this!!!  

Read directly from The New York Times, or scroll down.

free-speech-microphone

Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).

And I intend to respect that tradition.

Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?”  And they’ll tell you.  Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked.  Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

So: What do I regret?  Being poor from time to time?  Not really.  Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?”  (And don’t even ASK what that entails.)  No.  I don’t regret that.  Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked?  And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months?  Not so much.  Do I regret the occasional humiliation?  Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl?  No.  I don’t even regret that.

But here’s something I do regret:

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class.  In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be “ELLEN.”  ELLEN was small, shy.  She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore.  When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” – that sort of thing).  I could see this hurt her.  I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear.  After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth.  At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.”  And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”

Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.

And then – they moved.  That was it.  No tragedy, no big final hazing.

One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.

End of story.

Now, why do I regret that?  Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it?  Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her.  I never said an unkind word to her.  In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.

But still.  It bothers me.

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

Now, the million-dollar question:  What’s our problem?  Why aren’t we kinder?

Here’s what I think:

Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian.  These are: (1) we’re central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we’re separate from the universe (there’s US and then, out there, all that other junk – dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we’re permanent (death is real, o.k., sure – for you, but not for me).

Now, we don’t really believe these things – intellectually we know better – but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.

So, the second million-dollar question:  How might we DO this?  How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc?

Well, yes, good question.

Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left.

So let me just say this.  There are ways.  You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter.  Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend;  establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition – recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.

Because kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well,everything.

One thing in our favor:  some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age.  It might be a simple matter of attrition:  as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish – how illogical, really.  We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality.  We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be.  We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now).  Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving.  I think this is true.  The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”

And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love.  YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.   If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment.  You really won’t care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit.  That’s one reason your parents are so proud and happy today.  One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever.

Congratulations, by the way.

When young, we’re anxious – understandably – to find out if we’ve got what it takes.  Can we succeed?  Can we build a viable life for ourselves?  But you – in particular you, of this generation – may have noticed a certain cyclical quality to ambition.  You do well in high-school, in hopes of getting into a good college, so you can do well in the good college, in the hopes of getting a good job, so you can do well in the good job so you can….

And this is actually O.K.  If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously – as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers.  We have to do that, to be our best selves.

Still, accomplishment is unreliable.  “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up.  Speed it along.  Start right now.  There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really:selfishness.  But there’s also a cure.  So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s.  Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place.  Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been.  I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.

Congratulations, Class of 2013.

I wish you great happiness, all the luck in the world, and a beautiful summer.

George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates – NYTimes.com.

Crazies Unite!

The Improv Everywhere gang are at it again!!  Sometimes life gets waaaay too serious!! A little light entertainment for you here, a good way to learn to laugh at ourselves!!  Someday I’m going to get in on this act … looks like SO MUCH FUN!!!!!

Day In Day Out (new improved version!)

So I listened to the Pink Floyd song recently “Wish You Were Here”.  It’s one that must be played VERY LOUD.  So LOUD that there is no risk that you are not gonna hear what it says.  But what does it say?!  For years I have loved it because it just reaches very far inside me, I feel a strong sensation in the pit of my stomach, like I’m gonna cry hard.  Oh and I do!  I can’t even write about it without crying.  Thing is, I don’t know why, there is something very mysterious about this one!

In the original album version, the song segues from the previous song as if a radio had been tuned away off from one station, through several others (including a radio play and one playing Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony), and finally to a new station where “Wish You Were Here” is beginning.  So clever.

It’s like nothing else I’ve heard, and while the lyrics cut deeply, it is a relatively short song.  But it just stops me in my tracks.  Something forces me to turn it up, and I wonder why it affects me so much.  It’s a song that conjures for me emotionally, the meaning of the Portuguese word saudade, for which there is no word in the English language.

Yes I have  “I Wish You Were Here” thoughts for lots of people, mainly my family and friends from back home, and for some people who have passed on, but it’s something more than that – it’s something else that I cannot visualise, or put my finger on.  Makes me feel a little scared, and a little excited at the same time.

The lyrics are motivated by Roger Waters’ feelings of alienation from other people. (I can connect with that feeling, is that it?). Like most of the album, it refers to former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett and his breakdown.  Clearly the lyrics are sad.

But it’s not depressing!!  It’s a reminder.

What I really dig about this song, is that it’s another perfect example of life’s ‘bitter-sweet’.  It is so beautifully and cleverly crafted that I am filled with admiration and positive, warm emotions when I hear it, but at the same time it makes me bawl and guts me!

Well … I think I’m very lucky and blessed to feel the range and depth of emotions that I do.  Thank you Pink Floyd!

goldfish

One of the lines bray “WE’RE LIKE TWO LOST SOULS SWIMMING IN A FISH BOWL, YEAR AFTER YEAR“.

We kind of all are, aren’t we.  Thanks to social constructs.  Which are good, but we just need to remember to question things.

I sat down to edit something in this original post “Day In Day Out”, a week after I published it.  The original post contained the video movie at the top of this page, and the following text referring to it:

“Thanks again to the fabulous Conscious Club for bringing  jewels like this to my attention …. I am confident this one will strike EVERYONE .”

As I began to edit it, the “Wish You Were Here” song came in to my mind.  I then connected the Day In Day Out movie video post to this song … they speak the same message, the same sad realisation.  The movie video however, makes me feel a little less overwhelmed!  It points out clearly, that we could all fall into this fishbowl trap if we’re not careful!

But … it gives tips on how to save ourselves … it’s all in the mind … in the brain … in the consciousness .. in the choices we make.  I invite you to watch it again even if you did so last week.  It’s not something we should ever let dim in our minds.

And so a new post was born.  Hope you like it!

Do YOU know this song?  Cry-much?  Or am I just off me rocker?!!  (And no – they’re not mutually exclusive options!)

Hope you get the bitter-sweet, and enjoy this song as much as I do,

Love Li, xo

 

 

How To Live To Be One Hundred

Do you know how to live to be one hundred?  Have you heard of Blue Zones?  A Blue Zone is a region of the world where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years. Scientists and demographers have classified these longevity hot-spots by having common healthy traits and life practices that result in higher-than-normal longevity.

If you dont feel like watching the vid … here are the main details in a nutshell:

According to Blue Zones, they have found 5 places in the world where people’s life practices result in higher-than-normal longevity:

  • Barbagia region of Sardinia – Mountainous highlands of inner Sardinia with the world’s highest concentration of male centenarians.
  • Ikaria, Greece – Aegean Island with one of the world’s lowest rates of middle age mortality and the lowest rates of dementia.
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica – World’s lowest rates of middle age mortality, second highest concentration of male centenarians.
  • Seventh Day Adventists – Highest concentration is around Loma Linda, California. They live 10 years longer than their North American counterparts.
  • Okinawa, Japan – Females over 70 are the longest-lived population in the world.

Once the scientists and demographers pin-pointed these spots, they then assembled a team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists to search for evidence-based common denominators among all places. They found nine.  I think it’s very interesting and seems to strike a chord of recognition for me …

Old yogi girl

9 Ways To Live Healthier, Happier, For Longer According To Blue Zones:

1. Move Naturally
 The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.

2. Purpose The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy

3. Down Shift
 Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.

4. 80% Rule
  “Hara hachi bu”  – the Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.

5. Plant Slant
  Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month.  Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of deck or cards.

6. Wine @ 5
 People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly.  Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all weekend and have 14 drinks on Saturday.

7. Belong
 All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to some faith-based community.  Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.

8. Loved Ones First 
Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes).

9. Right Tribe 
The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.

According to Blue Zones, to make it to age 100, you have to have won the genetic lottery. But most of us have the capacity to make it well into our early 90’s and largely without chronic disease. As the Adventists demonstrate, the average person’s life expectancy could increase by 10-12 years by adopting a Blue Zones lifestyle.

Stay healthy & happy!

Love Lila x