Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blue Moon Musings

By Lenore Flynn

Tonight there is a “blue moon.” Two full moons in one month.
I started to think about  ”blue moons.”
Earlier this summer I went to Omega Institute and took a course to train to teach Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT).
I did this for several reasons; the most important one for myself. I had reached a place of disconnection and alienation from my body. I was overweight and out of shape. On retreat in May, I tried to do yoga and it was painful and I felt heavy and old. Aging has been taking a bit of toll especially since it is piled onto multiple orthopedic injuries and surgeries. For many years, I have tried to lose weight and be fit but I always slip back into a place that is neither comfortable nor easy. Meditation and mindfulness have helped my spirit and heart but my body felt left out, waiting at the station watching the happiness train pull out. I decided it was time to try something new while learning skills I could pass on to my mindfulness students.
For five days from 7 AM until 9 PM, including many meals, I learned about hunger signals, fullness signals, leaving food on my plate, making choices at a buffet, savoring food, enjoying food, etc. This was made all the more challenging by the fact Omega serves some of the best food I have ever eaten three times a day buffet style.  This was a 5 day mindful eating exercise. I reconnected with my yoga practice and each day felt my body waking up slowly. I had the time to honor my limitations and appreciate what was possible moment by moment.
Many of my classmates had similar histories and had come to learn what they could to go back to places like France, Denmark and Australia to teach their mindfulness students.
This program, MB-EAT, teaches participants over a couple of months to remember what it is like to be hungry, feel full and really enjoy food. Food is not an enemy. I remembered when I didn’t obsess over calories, fat grams and carbohydrates. I experienced the joy of eating because I was hungry and my body felt better after I ate. I loved being able to eat something without guilt and recrimination. I could see an end to days I was “good” or “bad” depending on what I ate. I have had the healthy choice eating thing pretty well down but now I could eat something like ice cream with pure joy. One afternoon I bought ice cream at the Omega cafe, awesome delicious ice cream, and I sat in their lovely garden and enjoyed it with an innocence I had lost long ago. Earlier that week I had shared ice cream with my grandchildren and thought I wanted to eat it like they did; it was just plain yummy.
Since then, it has not all been easy. It took almost 2 months before I could really feel hunger and fullness. I had literally lost the ability to really experience these things over the years. I have been exercising regularly and I feel so much better. I monitor all the negative self-talk and see it for what it is. I imagine it as the witch in the Wizard of Oz melting away. I have gone out to dinner a couple of times and really savored and enjoyed the meal without all the negative thinking that often followed. I have lost weight.
Once in a blue moon, I find a new and true path that brings ease to my day. Approaching eating and food in this mindful way has been such a path. It has been harder to let go of chastising myself over the fact as a mindfulness teacher of 20 years I should have been able to do this long ago. But then I am reminded that it is all about this moment.
Our deepest self-knowledge resides in the body, which a great deal of the time does not speak the same language as the mind.
Annemarie Colbin “Food and Healing”
Lenore Flynn teaches mindfulness classes in Albany and will be teaching an MB-EAT program beginning September 12th. Please go to for detailed information. This post appeared first in the Holistic Health blog at the Albany Times Union.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Journey We Take Alone -- Part 22

By Alexander "Sandy" Prisant

More American than the New York Yankees,

More American the Red, White and Blue,

Oh Hail our Constitutional Right

To Choose Home Depot for a new Barbecue!

We’re not exactly DIY royalty. In our house, there’s a missing nail here and a broken wire there. Cleaning is an extra challenge because you never know what’s going to collapse. Or when. But sometimes you see Susan hurdling through the air like an All-American fullback, saving something irreplaceable left us by our grandmothers.

So it was with naïve optimism we saw a trim box less than two feet square loaded into our car. The whole grill was in there. How hard could assembly be?

A few hours later we began to find out. Talk about shock and awe. This must be what the Germans felt like when the dawn lifted and all those D-Day ships were pounding the beach. With a bottle of wine firmly in hand, Sandy was laying out dozens of parts on the terrace. It was starting to look like an auto parts store doing inventory. There were odd metal plates, round rings of rubber and lots of instructions.

With all this stuff spread as far as the eye could see we quickly got serious. Like a surgical team preparing for a marathon procedure. Sandy held out his right hand: “Left Cart Lower Brace. Part 30.”

Susan, on her knees, desperately scanned the floor for Part 30, a three-sided, two-holed piece of metal that looked just like a half-dozen other parts in the Assembly Instructions.

And then…jubilation. First piece found. Fitted. And forgotten. We were on the way. 

Cautiously we began rummaging for the second piece—a Wheel Axle Bolt (Part 36). After an hour and a half turning over every part laid out on the floor, we came to a profound conclusion: This Wheel Axle Bolt could not be found. And who needed it anyway?

So the clinical surgery approach was quickly replaced by a treasure hunt. We scanned the instructions and the array of nuts and bolts and parts. Why was everything so small? At one point we had to get tweezers just to pick one up,..

After four hours we needed another new strategy. We wound up with something between a market stall search and military reconnaissance. Out on the terrace, we groped through rows of unidentifiable bits and pieces. They began to look like bobby pins and hair slides at a garage sale.

After eight hours we wished we hadn’t seemingly cornered the market on everything in this “sale”. But it was too late to take it back. We soldiered on into the night, finally collapsing over a dinner of corn flakes.

We faced the morning with a fresh outlook. All we needed was new outfits—like military camouflage. Control panel support brackets, valve fixed plates and tank retention brackets were not going to beat us—the people who launched the Walkman in Europe.

We just needed a boost from new outfits—maybe military camouflage? Dressed to kill, we marched out back to the terrace and huddled amongst the rows of parts. There were one-hundred-and-eighteen to go. Risking DIY Disqualification we had choose between going AWOL and achieving our mission. It was daunting.

And then suddenly, we found one piece that matched a crude picture in the instructions. It was not a bobby pin! More jubilation, followed by a breakthrough. Parts 11, 49, 21, 84 and 66 all fit. Together!

Our basic training was serving us well. We looked at parts 51, 17 and 96. We looked at the half-built object and the three parts and decided: Who needs them? With military precision, they were drummed out of service.

On it went, through the second day. We couldn’t see a barbecue yet, but they swore that’s what we were building. We only got the baby barbecue with lots less pieces. Yet somehow we were heading into the weekend. Before we’d started, a friend said, “45 minutes and you’re done.” 

But we were now on Hour 23. It was daunting. Again.

And then we came to this mystifying instruction:

“Attach tank brace by inserting the carriage belt through the keyhole, slide down and then use the wing nut to secure.”


By Sunday night we could see the outline of something, which if you sat there squinting, you could jus-s-s-s-t about make out the beginnings of a cooking device. 

Was a hamburger really worth all this? 

It was 1:38 AM Monday when the instructions said this:

“Place cooking grate on support ribs directly above heath distribution plates.” (Why couldn’t they just say ‘put the grill on top and you’re done’ ?)

But it was true. We were done. The thing stood on four legs. It opened and closed. And it made fire. Wow. 

At American labor rates, we racked up assembly costs of $540 for a grill retailing at $99. Throw in the tongs, spatulas and basting thingies and we wound with costs equivalent to the annual GDP of a small village in Gabon.

When we talk about the American Dream, surely this it.

But what looks like a blow to efficient free enterprise can still be averted if we can somehow compile the outdoor cook’s answer to Julia Child. Before Labor Day.

Sandy Prisant and his wife, Susan, live and write in Florida. Sandy is writing a long series of pieces for MyStoryLives about his struggle with a life-threatening kidney disease. He is currently awaiting a kidney and heart transplant.