Cherish Each Day

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” ~Aboriginal Proverb

WELCOME PIC

PHOTO CREDIT: Shannon May

It’s basic human nature that we take things for granted. Wisdom does not come easy. I believe we find wisdom in different ways created by our unique journeys in life. From personal experience, I know that we gain wisdom from hardships. Hardships create awareness and spiritual awakening.

I was profoundly touched by an email that a very dear friend sent me last week. Her loved one is battling a deadly disease. Tears were running down my face as I read her email.

For every living soul, our ultimate destination is the same. We may take different paths in this life yet we will arrive at exactly the same place.  

Our greatest power in life is to be able to see the special things in the present moment. I believe when humans face the reality of death, they’re more able to honor the people that they have taken for granted.

We get so distracted by our everyday routines that we don’t see the special things around us such as spending some quality time with our loved ones. If we go away for a few days, we miss them. It seems to me that as humans we are more capable of appreciating the people in our lives when separated from them or when we’re about to lose them.

Most people know about “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.

Randy Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006. His last lecture in 2007 was wisdom about the life he wished to leave to his family and students. Since then millions throughout the world have been touched by his wisdom, including me. His lecture wasn’t about leaving this earth, but rather the importance of seizing every day and living in the present moment.

“Time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think.” ~Randy Pausch

As we gain wisdom, I believe we’re also learning not to be afraid of death. This is probably the ultimate wisdom. I believe when we face the prospect of dying, we’re liberated. We see everything more clearly. We don’t take anything for granted anymore. We become selfless and self-improved. We honor the special things of the present moment and people who deserve our attention.

During her eulogy to Steve Jobs, his sister Mona Simpson revealed that his final words were: “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW”

Is it possible to embrace the mystery of death?
I certainly believe it is. By embracing death, we die with ease, grace and wisdom.

Somewhere in outer space, the sun shines continuously, as does our soul. The soul will return from where it came and live in eternity.

Life and death are not two, but one.

Cherish each day. Live life fully!

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other. ~Randy Pausch

SUNFLOWER

PHOTO CREDIT: Shannon May

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. ~Henry Ward Beecher

The essence of a Thanksgiving celebration is our need to connect with loved ones, and to express gratitude for all our blessings.

The kitchen is the heart of a home. In cooking, we move beyond ourselves into loving and compassionate care of our loved ones and friends.

Cooking a Thanksgiving meal is a wonderful opportunity to share our love and practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a source of happiness. Let’s cook with our whole being. Let’s taste the abundance and blessings of the moment. Let’s be grateful.

You don’t have to sacrifice your healthy diet on Thanksgiving.
Here are my healthy Thanksgiving recipes that are both delicious and low in calories.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ROASTED TURKEY

INGREDIENTS

1 turkey rinsed well and patted dry. You should wash your hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and surfaces with hot soapy water after handling turkey.
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus 3 sprigs
8 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons grape seed oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 lemons, poked thoroughly with fork
Salt and ground pepper
1 quart apple cider

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Remove packet of giblets and neck from cavity. Rinse and refrigerate.
3. Turn turkey on it’s back.
4. In a small bowl, combine parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, 4 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Using your fingers, loosen skin of breast and around thighs, and rub herbal mixture under skin of both breast and thighs.
5. Fill cavity with lemons and rosemary sprigs.
6. Pour apple cider in bottom of roasting pan. Set roasting rack on top. Place turkey onto rack, breast side up. Rub turkey generously with remaining oil; season with salt and pepper.
7. Cover turkey loosely with foil. Roast about 1 hour. Uncover, basting frequently with pan juices and roast until the thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 170°F. Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Let stand about 30 minutes before carving.

PUMPKIN SALAD

INGREDIENTS

1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 sugar pumpkins (4 pounds each), peeled, seeded, and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
10 tablespoons grape seed oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 pounds arugula
12 ounces feta cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Spread pepitas on a large baking sheet; toast in oven, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. On a large baking sheet, toss pumpkin with 5 tablespoons oil, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Roast, until pumpkin is tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Drizzle pumpkin with 2 tablespoons maple syrup; toss well. Return to oven and continue roasting, until pumpkin is glazed, 10 minutes more.
4. In a large bowl, add lime juice, minced garlic, mustard and remaining maple syrup. Add remaining oil while whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add arugula and pumpkin; toss well.
6. To serve, sprinkle salad with toasted pepitas and crumbled feta cheese.

Serves 8

BUTTERNUT SQUASH GRATIN

INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons grape seed oil
4 medium leeks, white part only
1 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 pounds apples (preferably Gala or Fuji), peeled, cored and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add leeks and 3 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, until the leeks are brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add sherry and sage; cook about 3 more minutes. Set aside.
3. In a large baking dish, arrange squash in layers. Spread leeks evenly over the squash.
4. Arrange apples in layers over the leeks. Brush apples with remaining oil. Cover with foil. Bake about 45 minutes.
5. Uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake about 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. To serve, garnish with sage leaves.

Serves 8

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Arrange sweet potatoes in a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
3. Combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper in small bowl.
4. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes; toss well.
5. Cover with foil. Bake the sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes. Uncover, stir and bake until tender, about 50 minutes more.

Serves 8

ROASTED SQUASH WITH GARLIC AND PARSLEY

INGREDIENTS

6 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
5 tablespoons grape seed oil
Salt and ground pepper to taste
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Toss squash with 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper.
3. Spread squash chunks evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until all squash chunks are tender, about 30 minutes or more.
4. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook gently, about 1 minute.
5. Toss the roasted squash with the garlic and chopped parsley.

Serves 8

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH THYME

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons grape seed oil
4 shallots, chopped
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add shallots, Brussels sprouts; cook about 4 minutes. Stir in broth, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 15 minutes.

Serves 8

Bon Appetite!

Kathy Ireland ~ Living Life with Purpose

Achievement doesn’t come from what we do, but from who we are. Our career is an extension of our personality.” ~Marianne Williamson, from A Course in Miracles

I met Kathy Ireland on Twitter in early 2009. I was taken by her kindness and down-to-earth attitude. Since then Kathy’s multi-billion dollar empire has been growing larger each year. Kathy is the CEO and Chief Designer of kathy ireland Worldwide®. Her enthusiasm is contagious. She empowers others and surrounds herself with talented people who share her passion.

Recently, Kathy Ireland appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine. Last year alone, kathy ireland Worldwide® grossed close to $2 billion dollars in retail sales. And it all started with a line of socks. A mom herself, the mission statement of kathy ireland Worldwide® is “…finding solutions for families, especially busy moms.”™

Photo Courtesy of Forbes

kathy ireland Worldwide® founded in 1993, offers designs in Home, Office, Weddings, Fashion, Fine Jewelry, Baby Products, Destination Properties and More. Kathy is also Chief Designer for Window World, America’s largest window replacement company. Fairchild Publications names her one of the 50 Most Influential People in Fashion. Kathy Ireland Skincare products are incredible and affordable. These effective skincare products are from the Dead Sea.

Recent TV appearances include co-hosting “Oscars 2010 Red Carpet.” Prior to the live broadcast, Kathy had recently returned from a humanitarian trip to Haiti. On February 29, 2012, she was guest co-host on ” The View.”

Kathy has also written six books and produced several fitness videos. UCLA acknowledges Kathy as one of the top 10 Women’s Health Advocates in America.

Kathy Ireland recently added bridal fashions to her product line empire with a mission statement “…finding solutions for people in love.”™

Kathy is a dedicated Philanthropist. Her philanthropic work supports several non-profits including the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation, Feed The Children, the Alliance for Christian Education and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Kathy reminds me everyday that one person can make an enormous difference.

One of my favorite quotes of Kathy Ireland is: “Don’t just work for the money; that will bring only limited satisfaction.”

Kathy Ireland is and will always be a special friend to me.
Thank you for leading by example, a life with purpose and inspiring us all, Kathy!

Follow Kathy Ireland on Twitter
Visit kathyireland.com and kathyireland.org for more information

Cross-roads

I lost my beloved brother in a very tragic way. It seems like yesterday, but it was almost 20 years ago. Gone too soon. He was intelligent, loving and compassionate. When he died, I worked my way through the most unbearable pain I ever imagined. I vividly remember sleepless nights, cries of pain, long hours at the office and working through weekends. I’ve always managed difficult times by (the distraction) of working hard and keeping busy.

During this period of hardship, I moved from the apartment I shared with my brother. I formed a special friendship with my new neighbor. A very kind, elderly lady who lived alone in her two bedroom apartment. She had the most beautiful curly gray hair with a smile that could make your heart sing. We connected with each other in a miraculous way. I called her Grandma and she treated me as if I was her biological grand daughter. However, my new Grandma was very ill. She gave me a key to her apartment so I could check-in on her. Although she had children and grandchildren living in the same city, she was by herself most of the time. I didn’t know then that my beautiful Grandma was an Angel showing up in my life to ease my pain, the loss of my only brother.

One day I felt an overwhelming urge to go home at 5 pm instead of working overtime. When I entered the hallway of my apartment building, I smelled a strong burning odor. I remember being nervous and opening Grandma’s door with shaky hands. I found her on the kitchen floor. She had turned on the hot plate but fainted shortly thereafter. I called the paramedics and followed her to the ER. She was sent back home the same night. I remember, I didn’t work much overtime after that. I would rather come home and spend my evenings and weekends with Grandma. This special lady with her witty nature enhanced my life profoundly. She would always thank me. My answer would be: “Grandma, I’m sure I will never be able to express my gratitude for how much you helped me to become a stronger and better person.”

Ironically, I never would have met her if not for my brother’s sudden passing.

Years later, I was deeply affected by the loss of my Grandma. I’m grateful for knowing her. We shared so many things. I feel Grandma is my Guardian Angel. I love her with all my heart and I always will.

Your heart tells you who your true “family” is.

The love within us is the source of all good.
The act of giving fulfills a fundamental need.
It’s our spiritual fuel.

If we don’t love ourselves, how can we offer a loving act? My “best friend” could not bear to spend time with me after the tragic loss of my brother. She was not strong enough (emotionally and spiritually). That’s when I began (practicing) being nonjudgmental and compassionate towards others.

When we lend our hand to someone who needs it, the universe rewards us. Even when we don’t, the universe does not judge us. The universe is compassionate. The universe loves us unconditionally. When each of us act the same way as the universe, we form a loving circle. Giving gives back, becoming a “good” habit. A joyful experience enhancing our lives.

Are We Spiritual or Physical Beings?

Why do many relationships/friendships not last when they begin with so much promise?

I believe the quality of our relationships with our family, friends and loved ones is influenced by the quality of our lives. How we see ourselves directly effects how we see and treat others.

A true and authentic friendship is formed when nothing is expected in return whether online or in person. It’s the healthiest of relationships. It is pure and simple. No pretense or judgment. Nothing to prove or explain. No one is taken for granted. Both are equal.

A spiritual relationship begins with love, trust and understanding. The bond is pure, and the love unconditional. It warms my heart to have such relationships allowing each other to grow.

When we relate to others on a deeper level, we can maintain a more meaningful relationship. This has nothing to do with our (physical) presence.

My best friend and I have been living far away from each other most of our lives. We respect each others’ individuality. I chose to move away and live in different places whereas she chose to live in the same place. Our friendship is solid. It doesn’t matter the distance or length of the time we have not seen one another. We are always connected. It’s a giving friendship without boundaries. I am privileged to have friends like her. Just knowing that they are on this earth, gives me much joy.

A relationship is a place we go to give, not to receive.
To nurture our soul and spirit.

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Lucky Love

My Dear Friends,

This year, Feb 14th is a very special date.

The Chinese New Year (“The Year of the Tiger”) begins on Feb. 14, 2010 and ends Feb. 2, 2011. The Tiger represents vitality, courage and authority.

This year, Chinese New year and Valentine’s Day are being celebrated on the same day. A day of celebration for Lovers, Family and Friends!

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about red roses and heart-shaped red boxes. Valentine’s Day is about Love of all kinds. It’s about Friendship. It is a time of appreciation and gratitude for those that bring Joy into our lives.

Red is the color of the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.
For Chinese, Red is a Lucky color. For the western society, Red represents Love. Continue reading