Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Autumn is here and the leaves are a' changing....

Changes abound in life. Some are self imposed like a healthier diet plan, an invigorating fitness program or perhaps a decision to change an unhealthy behavioral trait like always being late or being afraid to speak in public, or even a job change or a re-location. Then there are changes we have no control over like the seasons changing or your car breaking down, you break a leg or you lose your job. Change is a could be for the best or perhaps not but one thing is certain it always comes. Just when you think you have figured something out changes again. So the importance of adapting and going with the flow can not be underestimated.

How we adapt or transition into change is what truly counts. Just look at nature....the animals always know when a storm is coming and they take cover to get out of harm's way. The birds know when night turns to day and we can listen and know too. The adapting part is paramount to survival and a key to maintaining wellness. As the autumn winds blow and the days have that morning chill it's important energetically to prepare the body, mind and spirit for the coming winter. We start to drink more warm beverages and less chilled ones, we roast and bake more and grill less...this is a natural response. The time to start thinking of soups and stews is upon us and rightly so to start using warming herbs and spices like cinnamon and ginger. Protecting the physical body from the elements is vital to staying well. Keeping the neck covered with a scarf as well as keeping the low back and kidney area warm with layers is wise to protect the vital Qi or life force. Wearing socks, stockings and warm shoes and hats keep the body temperature stable as well as keeping the pernicious elements at bay. We have no control over the changing seasons but since it is a time of vulnerability mindful care must be taken to transition smoothly.

All change whether self imposed or not puts us in a state of vulnerability thereby requiring utmost attention and support. Enlisting the support of family members or friends is essential if you truly want to make the change go smoothly and have a positive outcome. The support person can help hold you accountable and also can greatly inspire sticking to your resolve to change. Recently I read in the Daily Progress, our local newspaper, about a woman who lost 73#, her story was remarkable and she emphasized support. Her husband and friends helped her greatly. It would be extremely hard to stick to a diet plan if your significant other is going to offer you candy and sweets.

Being able to reach out to others and make them aware of your need for support is a step in the right direction. Enlisting the help of a coach, checking in with them on a consistent basis is extremely helpful. Joining a group of people all going through a similar change is a good idea. It is a rare person who can go it alone and succeed wholeheartedly. Be aware also that sometimes there are people around you can somehow feel put off by your changing self and they can unconciously say things that are less than supportive, perhaps it brings up feelings inside of them of changes they'd like to make but find difficult. Change anyway and in time your efforts will inspire the best in them also. Sometimes your friendship circle will change to encompass new friends that support the change and that's very exciting.

The changing season has really been inspiring new ideas in me. The farmer's market has been bursting with vibrant colors of the harvest and each week I come home with an abundance of nourishing food. I've been busy washing and cleaning the veggies and planning the week's menus and as I am spending more time in my kitchen again I am super motivated to reach for more ease and efficiency in my small kitchen. I surprised myself as I thought of a new way to organize some of my cabinets to create more space. I'm ditching my huge spice rack for a peg board on the wall to hang my pans. Of course it's going to take a little work to find space for my spices but I've already cleared out some stuff I hardly use. I was convinced there was no more room in my kitchen but by simply looking outside the box.....poof...I found many new possibilities. The kitchen is just a start and a metaphor to a whole new me!

And now for a recipe!!!!!! Last week at the farmer's market I found escarole! How very excited I was! I grew up in a close knit Italian family and we lived in an attic apartment in my grandparents' house and would often come home to delicious aromas coming from my grandparents' kitchen. My grandfather did quite a lot of cooking and escarole and beans was a family favorite. Escarole is a bitter green that gets less bitter as you cook soothes the stomach and the palate and in this recipe is quite fast and easy to prepare as long as you have a some essentials in your pantry.

Escarole and Beans
serves 3-4

1 head escarole, cleaned and coarsely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2-3 Tbs olive oil
1 15 oz. can of Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 quart of broth, preferably chicken broth
sea salt to taste

In a 2 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil and lightly cook the garlic, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the chopped escarole, the broth, beans and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add more water or broth if it's too thick. Adjust the salt to taste.

Enjoy the soup! And especially enjoy the season! And in the words of Benjamin Franklin, "When you're finished changing-you're finished!"

All my best, Lisa