Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Can't Believe I'm Saying This, But...

I'm cooking!
Since our beautiful new pup has come into our lives, I haven't had time to cook (or clean, but that's a different story!). Which is actually quite sad for me as cooking is like therapy... so you can imagine I do A LOT of cooking!
Today, its pineapple chicken. I cook a ton of chicken; party fowl!
All puns aside, though, chicken, turkey and duck are better for my tummy.
I do enjoy a good Alberta steak; rare, of course!
I'm ranting.
Anyways, pineapple chicken with a bit of a kick has always been a favourite of mine, especially when I was a picky eater as a small child and I thought that eating broccoli was about as bad as it could get (this was before I experienced kidney stones) and fruit was always my side of choice. Plus, now that I have some free time and both puppy and hubby are sleeping (my, its quiet!) I can cook some delicious pineapple chicken, blog and maybe have a nice small (large) glass of wine. Besides, those freezer burned chicken breasts need some cookin'!

And, just because she is the cutest, sweetest, most darling puppy in the world.... treat your eyes to RILEY! (It's okay if you weep a bit over how cute she is....)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nothing Warms The Heart Like A New Puppy

Today, I bought Thomas a puppy. She is the most adorable, well-behaved (for an 8 week old pup), calm, quiet and sweet dog! We named her Riley.
She is a border collie/black lab cross, so she will have a ton of energy and she is going to be smart.. she already is a little smartie!
The cats are quite inquisitive - Theo grew up around my parent's dog Bailey so he's really not that worried about Riley. Bella's a bit of a different story - a bit cautious, a bit curious, but I'm pleasantly surprised that there has been no hissing or growling from either party.
Riley and Theo had a face-to-face meeting (Riley on the leash of course) and Riley sat down and acted passive while Theo meowed playfully and rolled over, showing his tummy. Like I said, pleasantly surprised, but Riley's only been in the house 2 hours!

So, here's to many laughs, love and light from our new little baby... and to Tom and I no longer having excuses to go for walks!!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wanna Try Something New Today?

I am lactose intolerant. Not meaning I have a "severe allergy" or anything... just that if I have dairy I'm a bit difficult to be around, beside or behind! Anyways, it's no big deal... Totally manageable!
I have an awesome recipe for those that are lactose intolerant:

Almond Banana Smoothie!

1 1/2 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
1 banana, frozen
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Blend ingredients together. Pour into cup(s). Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

At Last, Let's Talk About... The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path is the substance of the Fourth Noble Truth and a set of Buddhist guidelines for living with purpose that will lead to living without suffering. Now, these do not claim to be an ironclad set of rules or commandments - that is not how The Buddha taught. They are a guided suggestion, a framework, that will make life a little bit easier, a bit simpler and will lead to eliminating suffering.

  • Right understanding: this means recognizing that all things must come to an end; life is not permanent. Suffering is linked to desire, and desire is linked to the human untruth that we are constantly lacking something within our lives. Right understanding has also been described as realizing the truth of karma (remember what we talked about when it comes to karma?) and the unity of all beings.
  • Right thought: this means thinking kindly and refusing to engage in cruel, mean, or nasty thoughts. "What you think, you become." - The Buddha
  • Right speech:  let's think back to the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts - "don't lie" was one of them. This relates directly to that precept - do not lie, be mean, gossip, command all attention, or attack people. Right speech should be kind, wise and minimal. You do not need many words to say something nice - "Thank you". Try not to be a chatterbox - this is something I should constantly work on.
  • Right action: this generally means following the Five Precepts (Buddhist morals). These are: nonviolence or refusal to kill, refusal to steal (this includes shoplifting, plagiarizing, or even stealing attention away that is not yours), control of the sense and appetites from overeating to lust, talking sincerely and honestly, and, refusal to alter the mind with intoxicants - this doesn't mean we can't enjoy a nice glass of wine with a meal it just means don't get smashed.
  • Right livelihood: this is an interesting one. It means choosing an occupation that is not harmful of unjust but, instead, is honest, upright, and furthering of love and compassion in the world. Let's think about The Sims here; you can be employed in the Criminal career path and this would not go over well with the Eightfold Path! The 'professions' generally, well, frowned upon by Buddhists include; trading of weapons, people, sex, drugs, alcohol, or poison. Also frowned upon (especially in Eastern countries where many Buddhists are vegetarian) that involve a degree of killing would be: fisherman, soldier, hunter, etc. However, this is different in different parts of the world, and means different things to different people. Right livelihood is not about telling other people they are doing it wrong, but finding what we feel is right livelihood and reflecting upon ourselves.
  • Right effort: this means making a conscious attempt to create positive qualities, thoughts, and actions in ourselves while also working to prevent or be rid of negative qualities, thought, and tendencies. Simply put, right effort means self- discipline.
  • Right mindfulness: means working on being mindful at all times. Being mindful means being constantly aware of our feelings, our surroundings, our bodies, and our thoughts and ideas. Buddhists believe that everyone has a Sixth Sense - no, we cannot all see dead people - of awareness. This means having a "Zen mind" - getting up and living rather than just going through the motions.
  • Right concentration: this means working on achieving a "one-pointed mind". If we are doing something, we should concentrate solely on it. This is absolutely NOT EASY, but we can achieve it if we put our minds to it. Sometimes this can be achieved through meditating and much self-discipline. The better our mind gets at completely surrounding itself with whatever we are doing (even if its folding sheets), the less we will be distracted by desires, and our daily existence will become easier and more fulfilling.
There are more points to this list; remember there are different takes and schools on Buddhism, but they are all come down to the same point: be true to yourself and be the best person you can be.
The Eightfold Path is beautiful and idyllic. However, I am not committed fully to it, but I rather embrace it and hold it dear. The oppurtunity to learn about the Eightfold Path is amazing to me, and trying to follow it, as little as I can each day, is extremely motivating. It is not that hard to tweak it so that it works for you; remember, the Eightfold Path is not a enforced set of rules, but is, essentially, a path that we may walk on.


There's Always Time If You Make Time For... Learning and Reflecting

Before we begin down the glorious Eightfold Path, let's review another set of Buddhist guidelines; the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts. Bodhisattva's and other extreme Zen practitioners commit fully to these precepts during an official, and beautiful, ceremony.
These precepts embody the spirit and values of Buddhism, and they are:
1) Be One with The Buddha
2) Be One with the Dharma
3) Be One with the Sangha
4) Don't do Evil
5) Do good
6) Do good for others
7) Don't kill
8) Don't steal
9) Don't misuse sex
10) Don't lie
11) Don't become intoxicated
12) Don't put other people down
13) Don't blame anyone or consider yourself above anyone
14) Don't be stingy
15) Don't become angry
16) Do not put down The Buddha, the Dharma, or the Sangha

Now, I obviously don't claim to be a monk. I enjoy my share of... alcohol... but the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts do have some good points that we can integrate into our everyday lives. Some points, ie. Don't kill, steal, etc. are obvious, but others are a bit more difficult to commit fully to. We can learn much from these precepts and, as we reflect on our lives, realize our mistakes and learn from them. I'm not saying that we commit fully to them, but to embrace them and respect them and vow to learn and reflect as per them.
Let's admire and be thankful for the oppurtunity.


Terms: "Bodhisattva": means an "enlightened being" or "essence of the way" - enlightenment benefits everyone
"Sangha": follower of the Dharma - this term is most attributed to Buddhist monks as they can truly say they completely follow the Dharma

Let's Talk About ... The Four Noble Truths

Ah, the Dharma... there is so much to learn from the Dharma. The Buddhist's "Bible", the Dharma is the best teacher.
The Four Noble Truths are the "heart" and well, "soul", of the Dharma. They cover the main issues that we, as humans, encounter, why we encounter it, and how to overcome it. You may remember my post about suffering; this will elaborate a bit more on that.

The Four Noble Truths:
1. Living means experiencing "dukkha". "Dukkha" is the Sanskrit word for many things like discontent, dissatisfaction, suffering, fear - all of these experiences from something tangible, psychological or something that we can't just quite explain - do you ever feel that something is just "off" in your life? This is, simply, human existence. However, sometimes this "something" is obvious - key in physical, emotion, spiritual - like losing a loved one, a possession, job.
In an earlier post, I said that I had one of those "what I am doing with my life?" moments. Well, that's "dukkha". Its the human condition.

2. Our second lovely Noble Truth tells us why we have "dukkha". So, why do we suffer? Noble Truth the Second tells us that sufffering is caused by desire; desire is wanting something we don't have, wishing something were something different, or just being plain old dissatisfied with the way things are. Desire holds the belief that, if things would pick up and be better, we would be happier, life would be sweeter and I would be married to Chris Evans... I mean... what?

3. Onto the third Noble Truth tells us that we can eliminate suffering. Okay, come on, how are we supposed to eliminate suffering? Simple; elimate desire. It's really just simple cause and effect - if we remove the cause, the effect will stop. However, this doesn't mean we give up living (meaning breathing, eating, etc. but also being 'alive' - having relationships, experiencing emotions, appreciating life). It just means that we give up the longing for what we don't have and realize that we do already have everything we already need.

4. When you've finished reading the Third Noble Truth, are you thinking, "How am I supposed to just 'give up' desire?" Well, the way to eliminating desire is through the amazing Eightfold Path. These are eight steps to living the Middle Way, as the Buddha suggested, help guide us on the path to living a way that eases our desires and, therefore, eases our suffering thus, bringing more joy into our life. Supreme Enlightenment is attained through following this Path.

Confused yet? Here's a tip; read it again. It will make more sense when you relate it to a real-life experience - cue "traffic jam" situation.

Our Eightfold Path will unfold before us in my next post. However, I want you to really consider suffering - "dukkha" - can you start to eliminate your desires? Start small; it will not happen overnight.