SPRING IS HERE

Today, the last day of April finally heralds spring to our small garden.

As usual, we lived through every season this month.

The messengers of spring nudged their way above the ground in the hope the frost is gone and spring is here to stay.   The sun and the warm wind strengthened their roots and stems so they could push their way up out of their covered beds.  The rich rain and the snow blanket nourished and protected the tender leaves as they slowly stretched their tendrils from the soil to the sky.

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The Peony pokes its nose above last fall’s leaves.  It grows straight and tall preparing for the heavy white blooms of July.

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The tiny fingers of the tender bleeding heart gather sunshine and air. Growing long and flexible for the pink and white hearts that will dangle there.

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The first blooms of the Silia bring hope to those of us eager for our gardens to grow and blossom with the summer.

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The alien eyes of the Rhubarb unfurl its ruby red stem and iconic leaves. The perfect harbinger of spring.

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I know tarts aren’t too far off.

spring baked fresh

In love and light

Cheryle

April 30, 2017

WHEN SHOULD WE MEDITATE?

The question of when to meditate can be answered with a quick “whenever you can”.  However that is an answer easier said than put into practice.  In an ideal world our lives would have sufficient unencumbered time to do everything we want, when we want to do it.  Today, that is hardly the case, we rush, from waking through the day keeping up with all of our obligations until we fall into bed at night and hopefully a restful sleep. With all of this busyness, when do we find time to create and maintain a meditation practice? 

We have all been told how important it is to meditate daily.  The benefits are well documented, the reduction in stress, anxiety, an increase in a calm wellbeing and the achievement of a tranquility we cannot obtain any other way. What wonderful attributes to aspire to.  Unfortunately, aspiration alone does not bring about peace of mind.  We have to exercise our intent through consistency, determination, confidence and patience.  

Deciding to meditate or setting the goal to meditate daily is the very first step to creating a successful practice.  Bringing that decision to fruition involves all of the steps we normally follow in order to accomplish any endeavour we undertake.   

How long will you meditate? 5 minutes 3 times a day,  15 minutes, 1/2 hour an hour?  How long do you want to meditate, how much time can you dedicate to meditation?  How much time will offer you the benefits you are looking to cultivate?  Once you determine how long you want to meditate make that an agreement you keep with yourself.

Decide when the best time would be for you to meditate.  Does your lifestyle offer you the opportunity to meditate at the same time in the same place every day?  Some people prefer to begin their day with a quiet meditation practice to gather their energy before facing the chaos.  Others find that calming the mind before bed works wonders for a deep restful sleep.  Would taking time during the middle of the day recharge and refresh you, make your more alert for your work and business?  

 Answering the when question occasionally involves answering the where question.  Where can you meditate during your day? There are many opportunities during the day,  many places that offer the quiet time needed to meditate in your room at home, your office, the bathroom at work, while waiting for a Doctors appointment, as a passenger in a car, taxi, on a bus,  

bench-for-meditation       or in the park outside your office at lunch.

Granted the Doctors office is not the optimal place to meditate, however it can offer you a quiet time to slow down during a day that is running on fast forward.  Rarely do patients talk to each other while waiting to discuss their personal health concerns with the Doctor. You don’t need to sit in the lotus position.  Quietly, sit in the waiting room chair,  close your eyes and begin your practice.  I usually keep my sunglasses on.  Nobody even knows my eyes are closed.  Set an alarm on your phone and place it in your pocket, it will silently alert you when the appropriate time has elapsed, without alerting anyone else.

While creating your meditation practice you may wish to consider if you prefer to meditate on your own, with a group or a combination of the two choices.  Each option has it advantages.   Give yourself the opportunity to attend a group meditation at one of your local meditation centres.  See how meditating with others may expand and enrich your own private practice. 

Be diligent and consistent in your effort.  Return each day to your practice.  Sit for the agreed time.  Maintain your focus on your chosen object, gently bring your mind back when it wanders off to finish the shopping list, or think about that email you need to send to a colleague. 

Follow the teachings you have been taught,  give yourself time to develop and grow within your practice.  Understand there will be days you will be frustrated, your mind won’t cooperate.  It will open a multitude of doors, releasing all sorts of thoughts and images to crowd out any attempt at calm.  Be patient.  There will also be days when your concentration will be like a sharp knife you steadily hold on the object of your focus.  Recognize and be aware of these small victories they will build your determination to continue, your confidence in yourself. 

Be determined not to give in to procrastination, laziness, or other attempts to avoid your practice.  Our mind can play many tricks on us in an effort to lure us away from meditation.  Meditation is a way for us to exert control over our mind, over our emotions.  It is a way to rein in the chaotic or looping thoughts.  Our Ego doesn’t want this,  it wants to be in charge, allowed to do whatever it desires with emotional abandon all the while wrecking havoc on our lives.  Each time you overcome an obstacle to your practice you strengthen your confidence.  Honour yourself –  Keep your promise to yourself meditate everyday.

Be confident in your ability to continue, have faith in yourself.  Practice daily.  Step by step your initial attempts will become an anticipated and appreciated daily habit. You will overcome any barrier you may place in your path.

Be patient. The benefits won’t be noticeable right away.  It will take time to build your practice and to see the positive results. Your friends and family may recognize the benefits before you do.  Keep at it.  Little by little you will become calm and experience more of the beauty in life.

Only you can experience your practice, reap its benefits, overcome the challenges.  Only you can appreciate your effort and only you can know when is the best time for you to meditate.  The first step is to decide to do it and then follow through. 

Bring harmony into your life, begin your practice. 

Cushion or Chair.jpg      Your meditation chair or cushion awaits you. 

 

Cheryle, October 2016

COME DRUM WITH ME

Drums on a Blue background   An unusual event took place in the Ogden House auditorium on May 5th, 2016.  For those members sitting in the lounge at the time, they heard and felt a rumbling never before experienced at the club.  What could it be?

a drum circle begins

A drum circle, of course.

As we arrived, each of us looked around the auditorium, skeptically, and wondered what had we gotten ourselves into?  The chairs were arranged in a large circle with a drum sitting in front of each spot.  Jamie Gore,  a Drum Circle Facilitator with Circles of Rhythms, greeted us and invited us to select a seat and a drum.  There were colourful Cuban Tubanos, shapely Djembes, and graceful Frame drums, all waiting to release their voices with just a touch from a drummer.

Each drum style, is unique in the way it looks, the sound it makes and in the way it is played.

A cuban drummer a   The Tubano, a tall floor standing drum, is played by used two beaters to hit the drum skin and by striking the hard straight side of the body with the beater handles.

A couple of djembe drummers   The Djembe, a goblet shaped drum from West Africa, is held between the legs, and is tilted slightly forward to allow the voice of the drum to escape through the bottom of its hollow body.  The drummer beats the drum skin with their open hands or the drum rim with their fingers.

a community drum with two frame drums  The community drum and the frame drums are used to keep the beat and set the pace for all the other drums.  Historically,  the frame drum is believed to have been styled after the original drum, which was developed from the grain sieves used by ancient agricultural communities.

a bunch of percussion

As the short hour flew by, everyone had an opportunity to try out each style of drum, and to play one of the percussion instruments which had been laid out on the floor in the centre of the circle.

a painted drum  We drummed for ourselves, we drummed for each other, and we drummed for those fleeing the fires in the north.  We energized our bodies, our minds, we played with our hearts and our spirits.  The room vibrated and bounced to the sounds we made.  Our faces broke out in smiles, our feet tapped in rhythm while our arms beat in time to each other.

a djembe quartet

 

A flute soars    Karin Foster, a musician and a Circle of Rhythms drum circle volunteer generously treated us to two haunting melodies played on her American Indian Flute.

A mother listens to her daughter play a  We sat quietly and meditated as her energy and love filled the room.

I had a drumming good time and look forward to the next drum circle, but from the looks on the faces of the members sitting in the lounge as we left, the next circle will need more chairs and more drums.

a gourd sound

Cheryle – May 2016

Originally published in the  Ogden House 50+ Seniors Activity Club – June Newsletter

 

 

Turmeric: True Gold

The topic for this post was suggested  by one of the members at the Ogden Seniors 50+ Activity Club  for publication in the April Newsletter .  I delayed posting it here until after the newsletter had been printed and distributed.   At the end of the post is a list of the articles I read as part of my research.  I hope this is the proper format.  I’m not a doctor or homeopath or any such person and want to make sure that my research is  available for any one who wishes to check it out for themselves.

TURMERIC:  TRUE GOLD

Put spice in your life and reap amazing rewards You can improve your health and wellbeing.

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Turmeric: True Gold

Turmeric, a rhizome native to India, has taken centre stage in the healing and wellness arena. It has the ability to positively affect more than 160 different physiological pathways, able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and is able to make your cells more orderly

Historically, turmeric was used as a flavour enhancer, preservative, and a food colourant in India, South East Asia and Africa.  Not only yummy it is beautiful too.  Due to its golden yellow colour it has been called gold.  It’s widely believed many of the ancient references to gold actually refer to turmeric, not to the soft yellow metal. Considered to be a holy spice for millennia, turmeric has been used in many religious rituals and ceremonies.  Thousands of years ago, Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners began to utilize and prescribe turmeric for a wide variety of ailments, including stomach, respiratory, blood and inflammation disorders, and to treat ulcers and wounds.

Today, scientists, researchers and big pharma are all investigating the healing and preventative properties of curcumin and turmerone, two of the bioactive ingredients found in Turmeric.  Curcumin, the more widely studied ingredient, has been found to have anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-spasmodic, anti-flatulent, anti-microbial and anti-mutagenic properties.  Turmerone, a volatile oil, has protective and regenerative properties. Wow!  These are just a few of turmeric’s qualities discovered, so far.

Studies report chronic inflammation is at the root of many illnesses and diseases, including heart ailments, rheumatism, and oral health.  Curcumin and other ingredients found in turmeric have demonstrated anti-inflammatory action, which reduces the pain and inflammation associated with certain types of arthritis. This promises an effective treatment for illnesses in which inflammation is either a precursor or primary symptom.

Of its’ many properties, the two most specifically exciting are turmeric’s neuroprotective and anti-carcinogenic effects. Good news for anyone who has witnessed the degenerative ravages Alzheimer’s disease or has first-hand experience with such cancers as colon, breast, and leukaemia.

Recent research has determined that in addition to anti-oxidant properties, turmeric inhibits the accumulation of the destructive amino acid peptides which form the sticky plaques that are indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.

Due to a process called apoptosis, in which cells literally commit suicide, Turmeric helps to inhibit the growth of abnormal cells which prevents the rapid reproduction of cancerous cells.

Turmeric, on its own is difficult to absorb into the body, therefore, unless prescribed or taken by supplement, make the most of Turmeric in your cooking by heating it, eating it with piperine – an ingredient in black pepper or with healthy fats such as Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut oil.

In conclusion, Turmeric is a versatile spice with a long history as a trusted remedy for a wide variety of ailments.  I suggest you look into the benefits of turmeric.  Talk to your doctor, your homeopath, or healthcare practitioner. 

References: include but are not limited to:
Turmeric: Doctors Say This Spice Is a Brain Health Miracle – from live in now Joshua Corn, Editor-in-Chief
-Turmeric and Curcumin: Biological actions and Medicinal Applications – Chattopadhyay, Ishita; Kaushik Biswas; Uday Bandyopadhayay; Ranajit K. Banerjee. Current Science (Indian Academy of Sciences) ISSN 0011-3891.
-Role of Curcumin in systemic and Oral Health: An Overview – Nagpa M. Sood S. 3 Nat Sc Biol Med 2013:4:3-7 http://www.jnsbm.org/text.asp(2013/4/1/3/107253
Turmeric: How to Whiten Your Teeth – fitlife.tv/benefits-turmeric
This is A Must Read before Ever Using turmeric Again – Feb 22, 2016 – Healthy food House – http://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/this-is-a-must-read-before-ever-using-turmeric-again/
Turmeric – Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia

 

April 2016 – Cheryle

 

 

THE 2015 MULTI-CULTURAL FIESTA

THE MULTI-CULTURAL FIESTA – June 26 2015

Every year Ogden House 50+ Seniors Activity Club and the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society celebrate the multi-cultural heritage of their senior members.  It is a wonderful event in which seniors from all over the world, who now live in Calgary, come together for a pot luck and to share the unique cultures through dress, entertainment and food.

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I enjoy attending this particular event, as I can sense the seniors excitement as they fill the room, visit with their long time friends and meet new ones.  It is contagious.

INTRODUCTIONS

What is your name and where are you from?

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This year a minimum of 11 countries were represented.  Brazil, Guatemala, Korea, Nigeria, Poland, Denmark, England, Japan, Vietnam, Mexico, Nicaragua and a few others that I cannot remember.

ENTERTAINMENT:  Some of the groups practice their showcase performances for months before the fiesta.  Others have the confidence to wing it.

MUSICAL INTERLUDES

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SINGERS

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DANCERS

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HISTORICAL TALES & POETRY

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DOOR PRIZES & WINNERS

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POT LUCK LUNCH

For lunch, everyone brings an food item from their home country.  The auditorium fills with the smells of cooking from all over the world.  Noodles,  enchiladas, casseroles, Cornish pasties, cabbage rolls, chicken, rice, sandwiches, samosas, salads and fragrant desserts, their aromas mingle in the air to create an exquisite scent all of its own.  I made Canadian style Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad, it is my own version where all the ingredients are purchased from a store in Canada, therefore, as far as I’m concerned it is a Canadian dish.

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I find it exciting to see the dances,  hear the music and taste the delicious food from other countries.  It satisfies my worldly curiosity.

Cheryle  July 2015

THE MEDITATION CUSHION

pillow-for-meditations

Meditation:  Where do we do it?

Meditation isn’t mysterious, isn’t difficult, doesn’t require special equipment nor does it require a special place or a specific spot.  You can meditate anywhere, if your intent is right.

Sitting meditation can be conducted on a comfy cushion, a hard bench, amoung the grasses on the ground, while a passenger in a car, on a train, a plane, or while sitting quietly in the Doctor’s office waiting for an appointment.  Anywhere you can find five minutes to sit without talking or visiting with someone is a place you can meditate, as long as your intent is to meditate and not to show off how well you meditate.

Walking meditation, conducted by walking up and down a designated lane or path, in your house, garden or forest, focusing on one of the five body points and silently repeating a word of prayer or mantra with your eyes hooded and downcast, is part of the Samatha tradition, which was discussed in the second post of the “Meditation Cushion”.

You can designate a walking path in your living room, a garden or somewhere in the woods, a place where you can walk in quiet, peacefully concentrating on the point of focus and the word of prayer or mantra.  You can walk with your shoes on, in your socks or your bare feet, depending on what is appropriate.

Walking meditation conducted while walking along the street, in a park or on a nature pathway, is part of mindfulness training and differs from Samatha meditation.

During mindfulness walking meditation, your eyes are fully open, you are aware of your surroundings.  Your focus is the experience of the moment.  What can you see, smell, or hear?  Can you smell the trees, the flowers; can you hears, birds, dogs, squirrels, bells.  Pay attention to one of these sensations.  When you find your mind has wandered off, thinking unhappy thoughts, of work or about the shopping list, remind yourself to be in the moment – recapture the sensation you were focused on and enjoy the walk.

Take advantage of your schedule, meditate whenever you have the opportunity, conduct meditation wherever you are.  Try mindfully washing the dishes, folding the laundry, gardening or washing the car.  Be there, in the moment.  Make an appointment with yourself to meditate in a more formal fashion, sit for five minutes when you wake up, another five minutes at lunch time and another five minutes before dinner.  Nothing on TV?  Do a half hour of walking meditation and half hour of sitting meditation instead of letting yourself become bored.

Whether you choose to practice Samatha or mindfulness walking, meditation provides your body with gentle exercise.  It allows the mind and consciousness a moment to rest and connect with a bit of peace and calm.

Meditation is easy, its’ conduction depends on you.  You reaps its’ rewards and its’ benefits, wherever you meditate.

By Cheryle L. Baker                                      March 31, 2015

Blogging U – Photography 101 – Day 3 – Water

BLOGGING U – PHOTOGRAPHY 101 – PHOTO A DAY

DAY 3 – WATER

MARCH 4, 2015

 

Water Day 3_Mar 04 Black n white cropped

Two Faces of Water

 

Cold drop on top of cold drop builds ice up high

A drip drop by drip drop erodes the ice by and by.

 

 

Cheryle March 4, 2014