Monday, February 25, 2013

T'ai Chi and Happy New Year

Recently my husband and I along with a couple of friends attended the Chinese New Year celebration at the Twin Cities T'ai Chi Ch'uan studio in St. Paul. My T'ai Chi instructor, Julie Cisler, is very involved there and participated in some of the performances.

T'ai Chi is a Chinese martial art, which is very beneficial for health, strength and focus. It is the only martial art that can be continued late in life, some have even kept up the discipline through their nineties. 

Here's what Dr. Andrew Weil said about T'ai Chi in his blog today:

"Another option [to strengthen the core] is tai chi, a gentle form of movement, perfect for those with osteoarthritis or other musculoskeletal impairments [as well as the rest of us]. It can build core strength and musculature of the lower limbs, as well as improve posture, balance, flexibility, and mobility. Tai chi can also facilitate relaxation and focus even while executing the moves. And it synchronizes the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, helping to develop concentration and coordination and so reducing risk of falls."

T'ai Chi is varied and keeps your interest. There is enough to learn that you really can keep learning for 40-60+ years. After learning the solo form you can also learn the two person form, which demonstrates how the postures would work in an actual conflict with another person. You may also learn the sword form, fan form and spear form, which are all very cool and beautiful. 

This is my instructor, Julie, demonstrating one of the postures in the solo form. 

Chinese New Year was February 10 this year, so our celebration was a little late, but . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Here's to Your Success

Do you feel successful?

To answer that we need to know what success means to our individual life.

Off the top of my head, my answer is: I'd like to know I follow the plans God has for me and that I'm pleasing Him along the way. I'd like to use fiction writing and my interest in natural things to generate income. I'd like to earn enough money so that my husband and I could travel and visit family on a regular basis. I'd also like to be involved in our local community.

What does success look like to you?

Discovering your deepest, most valued goals takes time, time to think, ponder and pray. Here's where we Americans lock ourselves in a "no-success" closet. We rush through our day trying to check off as many things from our to-do list as possible. We rush through our meals, wishing food could be faster, then run to our evening activities. Finally we plop into bed and set the alarm to begin again.

If we don't schedule quiet time for prayer, meditation and just plain thinking, we'll never discover our real goals. Without this quiet time, we can't create either. It takes time to develop new ideas.

Try this exercise: Find a quiet place in the house where you won't be disturbed for at least 20 minutes. Sit comfortably. Breath slowly, allowing your breath to go deep into your abdomen. Think about the sounds around you for a moment. Now block out those sounds and think about your breath, slow and deep. Next focus your thoughts on an aspect of God's character, or on an idea you'd like to develop. Ask God to bless your thoughts and give you insight. Don't push your mind to hurry and come up with all the answers. Just relax. Breath. Ponder.

Once you decide what you really want, then you must make judgements about every opportunity that comes your way. This means saying "No." That one little word will enable your success more than any other single word or act. Read the last two sentences again. . . Ponder that!

You have to say "No" to everything that does not directly or indirectly feed your goals.

Another thing that increases creativity and productivity is allowing time for the basic necessities of life. We need to schedule time in our day to brush our teeth, bathe, clean house, organize our papers, pay the bills, check our emails, etc. (Be careful not to get sucked into Google search-land while on the computer. #1 Time-waster). These are the things that can bog us down and halt our creativity and thought life if we let them get out of control. And please don't forget sleep, water, and proper nutrition. Without these our brain doesn't function at optimal capacity.

It really is okay to take care of yourself.

So, to sum up:
1. Schedule time to pray and think. Use breathing exercises to help you relax and focus.
2. Decide on your goals
3. Say "No" to those things that don't fit in with your goals.
4. Keep up on the basics: neatness, cleanliness, exercise, drinking water, eating healthy food and sleeping.

Success isn't the biggest house with the most/best stuff in it. Success ins't working 60+ hours a week or even having the most prestigious title at the company. Success is accomplishing your own personal goals, while maintaining good relationships with those you love (first of all God), and enjoying good health along the way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Brain Power Enough to Heal?

I recently read an article about the effect placebos have on healing. "The Nothing Cure,Whole Living, Dec. 2012, cites studies that found the placebo to offer healing results as well as the medication being tested. This has led to more research on the effect of placebos and the power of the brain to heal the body.

"Even the ancients knew what powerful healers our beliefs could be, and for centuries medical training included instruction on placebo tactics to aid patients when nothing else seemed to work," the article states. Research is proving it, and now some say placebos could be our best option against illness.

"In humans, a strong belief in a remedy's effectiveness may produce even better results" (than the medication alone), says Bruce Barrett, M.D., a leading cold researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This idea is fascinating to me in light of a few verses in the Bible. (The following scripture are taken from the Common English Bible translation)

Mark 11:24: "Therefore, I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you will receive it and it will be so for you."

James 1:2-8: "My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking nothing. But anyone who needs wisdom should ask god, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask. Whoever asks shouldn't hesitate. They should ask in faith, without doubting. Whoever doubts is like the surf of the sea, tossed and turned by the wind. People like that should never imagine that they will receive anything from the Lord. They are double-minded, unstable in all their ways."

John 11:40: "Jesus replied, 'Didn't I tell you that if you believe, you will see God's glory?'"

James 5:15: "Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven."

Biblically we can easily argue the importance of believing and not being "double-minded." When our mind is divided, we accomplish nothing; sickness and depression have an open door.

I believe God heals supernaturally at times. And I believe God created gifts of healing for us to use in nature. Yet, He also created our minds, and He created us in His image, with minds that can create. How like Him to give us the ability to enhance His natural healing gifts with this ability to believe.

What are your thoughts about the mind's ability to heal?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Liebster Award Nomination

 The Christian Naturalist, has been nominated for the Liebster Award by my friend, Michelle Griep! (Check out her blog at Always fun and informative). Kind of like a chain letter, the Liebster award keeps getting forwarded and raises awareness of bloggers everywhere. 

“Liebster” is a German word for favorite, and the Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers deserving wider recognition, and who have less than 200 followers. The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to spread the word about these folks and their fine work.

The rules are:
  1. Tell 11 things about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  4. Post 11 questions for those who will be nominated by you.
  5. Get in contact with those 11 bloggers in order to inform them that you nominated them.

11 Things About Me:
  1. I lived in Luxembourg for a year.
  2. One of the main characters in my novel (wip) is Native American.
  3. Cooking for other people makes me happy.
  4. I always wanted horses.
  5. The words “natural” and “organic” give me a rush.
  6. Confession: I find it difficult to make the time to read blogs.
  7. My youngest is graduating from high school this year.
  8. I like to do things naturally, or the old-fashioned way, even if it takes longer.
  9. My grandmother’s antique secretary desk makes me feel writerly.
  10. Essential oils are my medicine of choice.
  11. I wear an oversized, alpaca sweater at home all winter long. 

11 Questions I was asked:
  1. Why did you start blogging? I wanted to build a platform and share tips on natural things as well as things that have inspired me spiritually.
  2. What is your favorite genre to read? I love to read Women’s fiction and Christian Fantasy. I always like a romance in the story as well.
  3. What fictional character do you most wish were real? I’ve never considered that. I love Hadassah, from Francine Rivers’s Mark of the Lion series. If she were real, I’d like her to be my mentor.
  4. Describe your dream office for writing. This I’ve thought about. I’d love a room with high ceilings, open and neat, not cluttered. I’d like a large bay window looking out over an open field with mountains in the near distance. I’d like to be able to watch the sky and weather changing. And I’d like a cushioned sitting-bench in that window. I’d like my desk positioned in such a way that I can see out. 
  5. Name one thing you couldn’t live without. I couldn’t live without the hope and peace that only Jesus gives.
  6. If you could keep only one book, what would it be? Definitely, the Bible.
  7. If you could magically transport yourself into a book, which one would you choose and what character would you be? A tough question. I imagine myself in all my books, though I’m not sure I’d want to live there. I give my characters too many struggles for me. That goes for other books I read too. I prefer for God to build my character without all those struggles, but that’s not really reasonable, even in real life, is it?
  8. Do you have any phobias? I don’t like small, enclosed places. 
  9. What is your biggest pet peeve? I’m not sure it’s the biggest, but here in Minnesota people don’t use the word “lend.” They’ll go so far as to say, “Will you borrow me a pencil?” While homeschooling, I harped on this so much that when my boys went to public school, they corrected their English teachers in class. ...Oops. lol
  10. Describe yourself in 5 words. Gentle, Thinker, Redeemed, Natural, Writer
  11. Who is your favorite well-known author and your favorite rising author? Again favorite is hard for me to commit to because I know I’m not thinking of them all. But Francine Rivers, Kathy Tyers and Bill Myers come to mind; and as far as rising author, I think, Michelle Griep. (No, she didn’t even pay me, but I may ask her later.) 

Questions for my Nominated bloggers:
  1. What kind of blogs do you read?
  2. Which blog do you hate to miss?
  3. What are three of your favorite novels?
  4. What are three of your favorite movies?
  5. What kind of food do you like?
  6. What’s the best health tip you ever received?
  7. If you received a ticket to anywhere, where would you go?
  8. What book has most influenced your life, besides the Bible?
  9. What are your favorite writing resources?
  10. Where do you go to get unbiased help with your writing?
  11. What social media do you use/avoid? Why?

My nominations for Liebster Award: (Please take the time to check out their blogs. You won't regret it).
  1. by Dan Thompson
  2. by Eunice Machette
  3. by Kevin Senapatiratne 
  4. by Leon Longard
  5. by Lori
  6. by Adam Haugeberg
  7. by Holly Michaels
  8. by a group of pastors
  9. by a group of speculative fiction authors
  10. by Chandra Lynn Smith
  11. by Paula Moldenhauer