Sunday, February 8, 2009

Run through the fire, not from it!

After reading some of the stories about all the terrible bush fires in Australia, I suddenly remembered an article that I read a while back. Thought I would share. :D

Running Through the Fire ~by Emily Eldredge

Recently, my mother shared with me an astounding tidbit she saw on National Geographic.

"Would you believe," she said, "that the animals in Africa mostly likely to survive a fire are not the ones who run from it - they're the ones who run through it? Those who run away get tired, collapse, and are engulfed by the flames. Zebras, on the other hand, are especially great survivors because, rather than running away from the fire, they run through the fire."

"What a powerful analogy for the healing process," she continued. "The fire is fear. If we run away from fear, we die. However, if we simply turn around, face it, and run through it, we survive. And discover that on the other side is simply scorched earth, fresh for rebirth. And the fire is no longer moving towards us but away from us, no longer a threat to our survival."

Wow. Who would have thought that actually running through the source of one's fear would be the way to survive... and even thrive?

Diane Rehm ( recently featured a gentleman who wrote a book called The Science of Fear: Why We Fear Things We Shouldn't and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger. He comments on a phenomenon that occurred post-911: "A lot of Americans were afraid to fly... So we got into our cars and drove.... But flying is far safer than driving. It's so much safer that, even if there had been a wave of fatal terrorist hijackings, flying still would have been far, far, far safer than driving.... Researchers found that the switch from flying to driving lasted for about one year. And during this time there was a spike in auto fatalities.... The estimated number of Americans who were killed because of the irrational decision to drive rather than fly: 1,595."

3,000 people killed in New York, and 1,600 more killed on the road.... because of an unreasoned fear.

Most "fears" and defense mechanisms are simply energies within us that we create or are taught to create during childhood. At the mercy of our environment and dependent on others for survival, we unconsciously devise strategies for getting our needs met and walls for protecting ourselves from those who may be violating our boundaries. Internally, we all have multiple personalities, reacting in different ways to different situations, depending on what served us best as children. These personalities are not to be feared or fought - they are simply trying to help. They are doing exactly what they were designed to do - to protect us from a perceived or actual threat.

As we grow older and more independent, these outdated and unnecessary personalities continue to operate. However, that's like running an updated computer on an outdated operating system. The old programs need to be removed, allowing the higher versions to be installed, opening the space for us to be who we truly are...

I frequently venture inside myself to unpack this concept of fear. It's one thing to tell myself, "Fear is an illusion", but when I'm swimming in that fear, the experience is truly intoxicating, like a poison warping my perception of what is truly worthy of fear. For example, if you've had a few glasses of wine but tell yourself, "No, I'm not drunk! This is all just an illusion!", it won't negate the fact that your tongue feels like lead and the room is spinning around you! Best to simply wait and allow the body to release the toxin.

This, too, will pass.

Sometimes I won't even realize that a fear is operating within me. I may be in a situation, reacting a certain way, and it isn't until I stop, take a breath, and become aware of my body that I sense the resistance to an uncomfortable energy within me. "Oh! I didn't realize that was there!" I relax the space around it, accept that it's there and that it's okay, and - POOF! - it usually disappears.

Sometimes, though, fear can be so intoxicating that my only choice is to surrender to it. Surrender: what a magnificent gift. Because, when I finally do, all resistances dissolve, and the "fear" floods in. I surrender by lying down, breathing into my body, and simply telling myself, "I surrender", "I accept that I feel afraid", or whatever feels right to say, whatever feels the most freeing.

And, in that moment, as my muscles release, my breathing deepens, and the fear floods in, the most spectacular awakening occurs. It finally dawns on me that:

1. It isn't "fear". It is just energy. I'm the only one who is feeling and labeling it as "fear". Energy comes and energy goes. As Einstein says, it is neither created nor destroyed - just transformed. Also, energy follows thought, so the only qualities and powers given to energy are the ones I give it.

2. The "fear" is almost always irrational - never a life-or-death situation, though I may have given it that power. It is typically the fear of experiencing more fear or some other uncomfortable emotion that I'd rather not feel, like anger. And what is anger? A message that something internal or external is not in alignment with our truth, with our love of self. Worth listening to.

3. My resistance to feeling it is what has given it power over me... which is always more power than it deserves. When I let go of my resistance to it, I allow it return to its natural flow of the Universe... to love. And I discover that it really, truly was just an illusion. And that I will survive whatever it is that I think I fear.

I often compare this process of awakening to what happens when your foot falls asleep and then wakes up. As the blood starts to flow again and the vessels stretch and the muscles twitch, it experiences the pain of awakening before it can walk again. Only, in this context, it is the heart that is waking up... thawing out from years of contraction and denial.

In A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle beautifully describes what happens when we allow this fear and pain inside us to melt: "The energy that was trapped in the pain-body then changes into vibrational frequency and is transmuted into Presence. In this way, the pain-body becomes fuel for consciousness. This is why many of the wisest, most enlightened men and women on our planet once had a heavy pain-body."

My God, if that isn't ever a brilliant and inspiring statement. You mean, this pain is useful for something? You mean, Buddha and Jesus and all of these enlightened teachers went through this, too? You mean, all of this pain that I am feeling can miraculously transform into exuberant love and indescribable joy? You mean I can actually be free of fear?

Yes! It's just energy that wants to flow again - that's all! It wants to be loved and returned to the current of universal love that flows through us all. It's the welcome sigh after holding your breath, the flood through a dam that electrifies a city, the relief we feel after a long cry, the spark of flame negating all darkness. It is the essence of our being - altered by the intentions of a fearful mind. Nothing more, nothing less. Fear is nothing to fear.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," and even that we don't have to fear!

Actor Will Smith has said he's driven by fear. "All it takes is just one person telling me I can't do it, and I'll use the fear of failure as fuel. I keep going because I doubt myself... It drives me to be better. I've learned that the mastery of self-doubt is the key to success."

He has learned to recognize that the feeling of fear is not something to fear. He feels the fear and does it anyway, thereby disempowering the feeling altogether and invigorating his trust and faith in himself.

For me, I take a more measured approach. I know that if I do something from a place of fear, then that is the energy I will attract in return. So I tend to face the fear internally first, recognize that it's just an illusion based on an old belief from childhood or my environment, which then clears enough Presence space within me to know what it is that I have to do and then do it.

I recently had an extraordinary epiphany when I made a choice I had long feared doing yet knew I had to do. I said to myself, "I'm going to do this. I don't know what will happen as a result of doing this. I just know that, in this moment right now, this is what I have to do."

I ran through the fire.... And came out glowing on the other side.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Blood Oranges

Another delicious addition to my diet! Mmmmm... I know, the name's kinda creepy, but WOW are they good! They are smaller than the average orange with a mottled red and orange skin, and the juice really is a blood red. They start out with a tart burst followed by an intense orange flavor with a hint of raspberry to it. Yes, raspberry. Two yummy things in one! What's not to like? I love working at the grocery store! So many new things to learn about. I've had blood orange tea before, but never the real deal. When a lady came through my checkout line with them, I was overjoyed. LOL! As soon as my shift was done, I clocked out and made a beeline for the produce section.

The reason for the bloody red pigmentation on the inside of the fruit is due to a pigment called anthocyanin, which is uncommon in citrus fruits. Anthocyanin is an antioxidant that reduces the risks associated with many ailments, including age-related illnesses. Blood oranges diminish the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer and "bad" cholesterol build-up. They may also reduce the risk of cataracts, and aid in the body's healing process. They are high in Vitamin C and potassium,so enjoy them often! :D The variety I got at the grocery store is known as Moro. Grown in California, not Florida, like I first thought. The blood orange tree needs cool nights that Florida can't provide. I'm thinking.... blood orange sorbet! The most nutritional benefits are achieved by juicing them or eating them natural though. ;D

Let's have a drink, shall we?

Blood Orange Cocktail

For one cocktail:

* 1 to 2 blood oranges
* 2 T fresh mint
* 1 t raw sugar
* 1 shot dark rum
* Champagne or soda water to top
* ice

Juice 3/4 of an orange, reserving 1/4 for *muddling. *Muddle 1/4 of the orange in a cocktail shaker along with the mint and the sugar. Shake with the rum, juice and some ice.

Strain into a champagne glass, with more ice if desired. Top with champagne or the soda water. Garnish with mint or a slice of orange.


To muddle is to combine ingredients, usually in the bottom of a mixing glass, by pressing them with a muddler before adding the majority of the liquid ingredients.

A muddler is a small wooden pestle shaped like a baseball bat. One end is large and rounded and it used to mash the ingredients. While the other end is skinnier and flat and is used to mix ingredients.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I love them. Never had one in my entire life up until about three months ago. They have the consistency of butter and a very mild flavor.

I put them on my salads, slice them and top a chicken sandwich. Of course, there's always guacamole dip too.

The following is from

Health Benefits

Promote Heart Health

Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol. In one study of people with moderately high cholesterol levels, individuals who ate a diet high in avocados showed clear health improvements. After seven days on the diet that included avocados, they had significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, along with an 11% increase in health promoting HDL cholesterol.

Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association has authorized a health claim that states: "Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke."

One cup of avocado has 23% of the Daily Value for folate, a nutrient important for heart health. To determine the relationship between folate intake and heart disease, researchers followed over 80,000 women for 14 years using dietary questionnaires. They found that women who had higher intakes of dietary folate had a 55% lower risk of having heart attacks or fatal heart disease. Another study showed that individuals who consume folate-rich diets have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke than those who do not consume as much of this vital nutrient.

Promote Optimal Health

Not only are avocados a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid, which has recently been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer, but it is also a very concentrated dietary source of the carotenoid lutein; it also contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) plus significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E).

In a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, an extract of avocado containing these carotenoids and tocopherols inhibited the growth of both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells.

But when researchers tried exposing the prostate cancer cells to lutein alone, the single carotenoid did not prevent cancer cell growth and replication. Not only was the whole matrix of carotenoids and tocopherols in avocado necessary for its ability to kill prostate cancer cells, but the researchers also noted that the significant amount of monounsaturated fat in avocado plays an important role. Carotenoids are lipid (fat)-soluble, which means fat must be present to ensure that these bioactive carotenoids will be absorbed into the bloodstream. Just as Nature intends, avocado delivers the whole heath-promoting package.

Increase Your Absorption of Carotenoids from Vegetables

Enjoying a few slices of avocado in your tossed salad, or mixing some chopped avocado into your favorite salsa will not only add a rich, creamy flavor, but will greatly increase your body's ability to absorb the health-promoting carotenoids that vegetables provide.

A study published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition tested the hypothesis that since carotenoids are lipophilic (literally, fat-loving, which means they are soluble in fat, not water), consuming carotenoid-rich foods along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocado might enhance their bioavailability.

Not only did adding avocado to a salad of carrot, lettuce and baby spinach or to salsa greatly increase study participants' absorption of carotenoids from these foods, but the improvement in carotenoid availability occurred even when a very small amount-as little as 2 ounces-of avocado was added.

Adding avocado to salad increased absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein 7.2, 15.3, and 5.1 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these carotenoids absorbed when avocado-free salad was eaten.

Adding avocado to salsa increased lycopene and beta-carotene absorption 4.4 and 2.6 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these nutrients absorbed from avocado-free salsa. Since avocados contain a large variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, eating a little avocado along with carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits is an excellent way to improve your body's ability to absorb carotenoids while also receiving other nutritional-and taste-benefits.

Avocado Phytonutrients Combat Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is even more likely to result in death than breast, skin, or cervical cancer, with a mortality rate of about 50% due to late detection, according to Great Britain's Mouth Cancer Foundation. Avocados may offer a delicious dietary strategy for the prevention of oral cancer. Phytonutrients in Hass avocados, the most readily available of the more than 500 varieties of avocados grown worldwide, target multiple signaling pathways, increasing the amount of free radicals (reactive oxygen species) within pre-cancerous and cancerous human oral cell lines, that leads to their death, but cause no harm to normal cells. ? Semin Cancer Biol. 2007 May 17. Earlier research by UCLA scientists also indicates that Hass avocados may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer as well. When analyzed, Hass avocados were found to contain the highest content of lutein among commonly eaten fruits as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene). Lutein accounted for 70% of the measured carotenoids, and the avocado also contained significant quantities of vitamin E. J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Jan;16(1):23-30.


The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word "ahuacatl."

Avocados are the fruit from the Persea Americana, a tall evergreen tree that can grow up to 65 feet in height. There are dozens of varieties of avocadoes, which fall into three main categories-Mexican, Guatemalean, and West Indian-which differ in their size, appearance, quality and susceptibility to cold. The most popular type of avocado in the United States is the Hass variety, which has rugged, pebbly brown-black skin. Another common type of avocado is the Fuerte, which is larger than the Hass and has smooth, dark green skin and a more defined pear shape.

Avocados vary in weight from 8 ounces to 3 pounds depending upon the variety. The edible portion of the avocado is its yellow-green flesh, which has a luscious, buttery consistency and a subtle nutty flavor. The skin and pit are inedible.


Avocados are native to Central and South America and have been cultivated in these regions since 8,000 B.C. In the mid-17th century, they were introduced to Jamaica and spread through the Asian tropical regions in the mid-1800s. Cultivation in United States, specifically in Florida and California, began in the early 20th century. While avocados are now grown in most tropical and subtropical countries, the major commercial producers include the United States (Florida and California), Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia.

How to Select and Store

A ripe, ready to eat avocado is slightly soft but should have no dark sunken spots or cracks. If the avocado has a slight neck, rather than being rounded on top, it was probably tree ripened and will have better flavor. A firmer, less mature fruit can be ripened at home and will be less likely to have bruises. The Hass avocado weighs about 8 ounces on average and has a pebbled dark green or black skin, while the Fuerte avocado has smoother, brighter green skin. Avoid Fuertes with skin that is too light and bright. Florida avocados, which can be as large as 5 pounds, have less fat and calories, but their taste is not as rich as California varieties.

A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. If you are refrigerating a whole avocado, it is best to keep it whole and not slice it in order to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air.

If you have used a portion of a ripe avocado, it is best to store the remainder in the refrigerator. Store in a plastic bag, wrap with plastic wrap, or place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Sprinkling the exposed surface(s) with lemon juice will help to prevent the browning that can occur when the flesh comes in contact with oxygen in the air.

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes

Tips for preparing avocados:

Use a stainless steel knife to cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Gently twist the two halves in opposite direction if you find the flesh clinging to the pit. Remove the pit, either with a spoon or by spearing with the tip of a knife. Place the halves face down, then peel and slice. If the flesh is too soft to be sliced, just slide a spoon along the inside of the skin and scoop it out. You can prevent the natural darkening of the avocado flesh that occurs with exposure to air by sprinkling with a little lemon juice or vinegar.

A few quick serving ideas:

Use chopped avocados as a garnish for black bean soup.

Add avocado to your favorite creamy tofu-based dressing recipe to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.

Mix chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings for a rich-tasting twist on traditional guacamole.

Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise when making a sandwich.

For an exceptional salad, combine sliced avocado with fennel, oranges and fresh mint.

For a beautiful accompaniment to your favorite Mexican dish, top quartered avocado slices with corn relish and serve with a wedge of lime.


Avocados and Latex Allergy

Like bananas and chestnuts, avocados contain substances called chitinases that are associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome. There is strong evidence of the cross-reaction between latex and these foods. If you have a latex allergy, you may very likely be allergic to these foods as well. Processing the fruit with ethylene gas increases these enzymes; organic produce not treated with gas will have fewer allergy-causing compounds. In addition, cooking the food may deactivate the enzymes.

Nutritional Profile

Avocados are a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and copper. Avocados are also a good source of potassium: they are higher in potassium than a medium banana.

Although they are fruits, avocados have a high fat content of between 71 to 88% of their total calories - about 20 times the average for other fruits. A typical avocado contains 30 grams of fat, but 20 of these fat grams are health-promoting monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid.