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Pressed: Staying Forever Young Together

8 Aug

Staying Forever Young Together.

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Staying Forever Young Together
by Shelley Robinson, July 27

Eternal Youth: People are always wondering about how to stay eternally youthful. It would be the most wonderful thing to know what we know as more mature people while having a second chance at being and then staying young physically. People pay big money to try to freeze time.  In doing so, they hope to keep their relationships with others vital and vibrant. We often blame our aging for things like not being able to be leaner, mobile, adventurous, sexual and so forth. At the head of the Wurzburg Cathedral yesterday I observed to statues of two skeletons on the front doors greeting its parishioners with the text: “We are operating from dust to dust”. We come into this world as dust, and we leave the world in the same way. The topic is a depressing one for people, and so we do everything possible to delay this eventuality.

Fighting death a futile battle, but I believe that it is a good fight to stay fit and prolong life as long as possible, even to go as far as tricking the brain into believing that it is younger than it actually is chronologically. If we are only on this earth for a short while, then I believe that we should be on the earth in our very best bodies possible, living a life that affords us the optimal physical experience. How can this be done? I have been asked quite a bit on this trip about how I stay so young looking. When I met my Finnish relative for the first time, she commented that I looked like a young girl. It has been a flattering question because aging for me has been a relative thing for me over my fifty years. I would say that the answer is quite simple: live in moderation, and by God, have fun!

I have looked very old in my lifetime at a much younger age, and I have looked very young at a much older age. The question of my aging is a matter of attitude and life experience at the time. I have watched myself shape shift from moment to moment when life joys or traumas cause my body to go through sudden metamorphoses. I suddenly look younger or older, depending on my belief of my age at the time. When I am tired, I feel old, and visa versa. Lately, I have decided to be younger, and I hope that it is coming across in the same way in how I project myself into the world.

The Logistics of Good Health: What I have learned most profoundly is that there is a direct correlation to my looking and feeling OLD when I am NOT eating, sleeping or exercising regularly nor well. As well, stress has been a huge contributing factor to creating these circumstances, or, perhaps, being a result of these circumstances. The spiral of poor health is a cycle of circumstances that we sometimes feel is beyond our control. Fortunately, I am finding that if I make positive healthy experiences my priority, that I have the ability to influence the rest of my life experiences through it. We all experience the world through the body as our temple, and we need to honour this special place in which we reside, regardless of the challenges that we each have in the universe.

This idea of being “meta-kinesthetic” that I wrote about in my research on the five meta-learning domains, seems to be of greater value to me the further that I proceed through my life. The “meta” self is always hovering above each of us to lucidly evaluate what works best in our lives. I have always been interested in what inspires or blocks us cognitively (thoughts), conatively (motivation), affectively (feelings), physically, and spiritually? The road to good health is an important experiential domain, but not an easy one. The path of least resistance is always clearly marked on the trail and can sometimes distract us from the best course of action. This idea of being disciplined to do what works best for our bodies, is a critical one.

Having a Relationship with Our Bodies First: Before we can have a relationship with someone else in these five learning domains, we have to have a relationship with ourselves first. When we know who we are and how we can best operate through body, mind and spirit with ourselves, we can offer it to the rest of the world. For example, when we are doing the good work for our bodies in this regard, we can let someone physically into our lives. Only when we can turn ourselves on sexually, can we truly turn someone else on sexually. It has not been until I have been older that I have truly listened to what my body has been screaming at me through its various signs and symptoms.

We Are What We Breathe and Eat: I coughed most of my life, likely because my body was inflamed. I breathed air and ate foods that kept me from breathing well. When our bodies and lungs are inflamed, the life breath that we need to take in and exhale moment to moment, is impaired. When we do not breath well, we do not live well. Good breathing is fundamental to a good life. The slow inhale and exhale that fills our body with restorative energy is the basis of our good living. Without it, we die. I was dying until I figured out that what I was breathing and eating were killing me. A high altitude, dry climate, polluted city, cold weather and other breathing variables were not treating me well in my native city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and so I moved.

However, I did not move before I learned from a wise naturopath that I had been eating wheat, dairy and eggs to which I had been having terrible physical inflammation reactions my entire lifetime (phlegm and restrictive airways). My blood work indicated extreme allergies to beef, wheat (all grains and gluten), dairy (not just lactose), eggs (whole egg), and a few other odds and ends. When I cut them out, the reaction was dramatic over time. My body shed some of its weight. I could start breathing without medicine, and I was more energized than I had been before. With that being said, the external variables were still coming into play, and so I decided to move to BC to be in a warmer climate, by the ocean with a less-polluted environment. The trees became my friends with their humidity and oxygen. The ocean granted me its salt water frangrance. By managing both my diet and my air, I had discovered a healthier place to live so that I was not fighting against my own limitations. Now the challenge for me continues to be how to minimize work stress. This dilemma is a big one for many people.

Being in Relationship: Even though Chris does not need much reminding as he is very healthy, I do remind him to eat, drink water, and sleep regularly. We all need reminding. When we are in the flow of our life experiences, we can sometimes lose track. He is often so busy wanting to experience the world very actively, that he forgets that he needs to tend to his body so that he can enjoy it. Just as I remind him of what his body needs, so does he with me. He puts vitamins in front of me, and promotes various types of good food ideas so that we are living leanly and staying fit. We both enjoy hiking in the outdoors, and we are convinced that the trees speak to us in very physical ways when we are out enjoying the energy that they give back to our world for us.  In short, we are both tree freaks!

When we are cranky or unsure of ourselves, there is almost always a definite connection to what we did not do that day in terms of eating, drinking and sleeping well; and as well, any hormones (time of month) or fatigue from work. I believe that 90 percent of the troubles that we have experienced together (and for the most part, we have very few big troubles), I can attribute to our bodies having been depleted at the time of these minor relationship disconnections. What we do for our bodies, our bodies give back to our relationships ten-fold. Now, instead of delving too deeply into the angst of an argument, I just simply think, “When did we last eat?” Or, he suggests that we get into the woods.  I believe that it is always helpful to recruit someone to help us be strong and well, but not to put him or her in the driver’s seat of making us happy.

Last Thoughts: As a woman, I am both surprised and confused by my body on a regular basis; however, the closer that I pay attention, the more that I can work with it, and not against it. In turn, I can show Chris how to figure it out as well. This applies very directly to the physical domain, and one where we need to be very thoughtful of as we get older. Between the two of us, we can find ways to achieve some very positive and exciting physical experiences together. In doing so, I believe that we can stay young together for longer, and that will make all of the difference to our long term relationship. I want him to find me as physically attractive as possible for as long as possible because I find myself physically capable of being so.

Blake said that the body was the soul’s prison unless the five senses are fully developed and open. He considered the senses the ‘windows of the soul.’ When sex involves all the senses intensely, it can be like a mystical experence.

Jim Morrison

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52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 24: The Art of Pizza Making and Life by Shelley Robinson, Canada

19 Mar

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The Whoas of the Celiac: Unfortunately, I will not make many actual pizzas in my lifetime because I struggle with all of the ingredients. My Irish heritage has plagued me with the gift of gluten, dairy and egg issues that are typical of the Irish. However, “when in Florence, Italy” I chose to learn about the art of building a pizza in a class with a well-known pizza chef, Davide Rafa in The Food and Wine Academy of Florence (with permission). In doing so, I was reminded to think carefully about life and am richer (and fuller) for the experience. I caught myself wondering why I waited this long to learn the art of cooking something special in the good company of enthusiastic (and hungry) students. I realize that it is likely because food, for me, for most of my life, has been a means to an end (staying alive while busy), and keeping a growing boy from the brink of starvation every hour of every day until adulthood.

However, as a result of this short course, I thought about cooking food differently as I listened to this wonderful chef explain the love and art of the pizzeria. As he spoke, I saw the pizza metaphor for life emerging.

The Crust is Everything: It takes some skill and patience to bring this little ball of dough to life.

First, the choice of flour makes or breaks the pliability of the crust. We need to make sure that we are choosing soft flour for our crusts. If our flour is not ground soft, we need to sift it down until it is as fine as icing sugar. Then, it is necessary to hollow out a circle in the centre of the flour and fill it with the water and active yeast (that has been sitting in room temperature waiting for this moment to bring the flour to life). Slowly, you bring the flour, little-by-little into this little circle, while whisking it gently with a fork to build moist consistency and an easy texture. You cannot push the pace of this process, or it gets sticky and unmanageable.

Next, you pull the dough together and gently, and repetitively knead the dough away from you into a moist and flexible egg. You lift it gently from the bottom, and then ever so carefully knead outwards. You repeat this often. If you push down too hard, it gets gooey. If you knead it in too many directions, it gets tangled up and rips apart. If you put too much flour in it in an effort to speed up the process, it loses its pliability. You need to slowly and tenderly bring the dough to a smooth and flexible round ball. Once you have succeeded, you cover it, and wait for it to rise.

Remember to drink wine while you wait.

After that, you push down with flat fingers and start pulling the ball into a flat round base. If you push too hard, the crust will be too thin. The ingredients will then soak through, or it will burn in the fire. If you do not knead it carefully and evenly, it will start to take on an interesting shape instead of the desired circle that truly is the mathematical genius of the perfect pizza. With patience and careful kneading, flipping and pulling it outwards, the pizza crust begins its life. Its whole purpose is to support the rest of the marvellous ingredients that we choose to put on top of it.

The Choice of Toppings: This is the fun part. You get to add what you want on top of the pizza. He explained how important it was to keep the key ingredients fresh and simple. “Don’t add to much of any one thing so that all of the ingredients blend and complement each other”. This means that you do not want to have too much sauce, cheese or seasonings. The goal is to have a taste sensation that is balanced and full. I chose to use tomato puree, dry mozzarella, salami, oregano, basil and at the end, some olive oil.

The Metaphor: I suppose we could all interpret this process in multiple ways, but I chose to see the following in the pizza making experience:

-We need to consider our base. It needs to be the right size and density to support our dreams. We need to be patient with ourselves and work at being flexible. If we spread ourselves too thin, we burn in the fire. If we are not round and balanced, some of what we take on, falls off, or becomes difficult to slice.

-The spirit within us, like the yeast, needs to be alive and meaningful or it will not rise.

-We must always think carefully about what we add into our lives as “toppings” to bring us joy and fulfillment. If we put too many things into our day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year experiments with truth in an effort to experience it all at once, it takes away from the present moment of enjoying just a few tastes of life at a time.

-It is best to cook together in life with good mentors, friends and family. It is the process, not the outcome in life, that makes life worth living and this is always more enjoyable in good company.

-And always remember to drink wine. (I suppose that this is intended to be a literal translation from my pizza lesson as we all enjoyed a lot of it).

My first pizza experiment resulted in an odd shape, despite my efforts. However, it was delicious. Others around me chose other toppings, and they too, were very happy with the results. We were happy because we made time to slowly and methodically build our pizzas together. We expressed loving every step in the process. Eating it was just one part of the enjoyable process, albeit, it was the outcome for which we were all waiting.

Take care to make delicious pizzas with your life. Take time. Be patient with yourself, and do it so that you can savour life to its fullest in balance and wellness.

“Chi ha tempo, ha vita”
(He that has time has life).

**Permission to re-print elsewhere is provided to The Food and Wine Academy of Florence with reference to the author’s link Adventure Ahead by Shelley Robinson, Canada

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