Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Olympic Athletes Thriving on Vegetarian Diets

Long-time vegetarian and Olympian Lizzie Armitstead wins a silver medal for Great Britain at the London 2012 games.
On Sunday, Olympic cyclist Lizzie Armitstead took home a silver medal for Great Britain after enduring an 87-mile road cycling race, second to Marianne Vos from the Netherlands. A vegetarian since 10, Armitstead told the Montreal Gazette, “I don't like meat, and I can't sort of get my head around eating a corpse.” Fellow Olympians recognized for their meat-free diets include: runners Paavo Nurmi and Emil Voigt, track and field athletes Edwin Moses and Carl Lewis, skier Bode Miller, wrestler Christopher Campbell, tennis player Martina Navratilova, and vegan swimmer Murray Rose.

Coffee! The Good, the Bad, and the Ayurvedic Perspective.


"Coffee: Out of focud before, clearer after," by Ben Cumming.
In recent years, we have seen an astonishing amount of research being published touting the health benefits of coffee. The question is:  do these studies negate the health risks reported in studies past?
In this article and in the video below, I will dive into this very controversial issue of coffee—when it comes to our health, is coffee a friend, or foe? I will also discuss how different bodies may react to coffee differently based on their constitution, and take a look at coffee through the Ayurvedic lens.

Let’s take a look at some of the research on both sides before we can begin to judge for ourselves.

The Good

Recent findings show that if you drink one cup of coffee a day, you can reduce your risk of diabetes by 13% (1), but if you drank twelve cups a day, you could reduce the risk of diabetes by 67% (2). Twelve cups!
Six cups of coffee a day had an 18% reduction on prostate cancer and a 40% reduction of aggressive lethal cancer (3).
Four cups of coffee a day could reduce your risk of liver cirrhosis by 84% (4)!
Five cups a day for five weeks began to reverse Alzheimer’s damage in the brain by reducing levels of amyloid-beta, both in the blood and the brain (5).
One to four cups reduced the risk of Parkinson’s by 47% and five cups a day reduced it by 60% (6). In this study, the greater number of cups of coffee per day, the lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
And while there are many more studies citing the cardiovascular risks posed by coffee consumption, a recent study showed that women who drank 1-3 cups of coffee a day had a 24% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (7).
High blood pressure—once the holy grail of anti-coffee publicity—is now being questioned. Studies have shown for years that coffee will raise blood pressure(8), but new studies  show that while the blood pressure will go up initially, if you continue to drink it daily for 8 weeks, the blood pressure will normalize (9).

What’s the secret ingredient?

Photo courtesy of United Nations Photo
If you take the caffeine out of coffee, the benefits cited above remain relatively the same. So, if it isn’t the caffeine that is responsible for these benefits, then what is it?
There are about 1000 active constituents in the coffee bean and only a few of them are understood. We do know that the coffee bean, the seed of the fruit, is loaded with antioxidants.
Perhaps the most powerful known antioxidant in the coffee bean is called chlorogenic acid, a compound that is most concentrated in the green, unroasted coffee bean but dissipates somewhat in the roasting process. The weakening of this compound in the coffee bean’s journey from bean to beverage may be why we need such high amounts of coffee to reap its many benefits. Today, green coffee extracts are available to deliver the benefits of chlorogenic acid without actually having to drink the dark roasted brew.

The Bad

Most of the negative research on coffee can be linked to its impact on the nervous system. Coffee is a stimulant and increases the release of stress hormones, which are usually reserved for life or death, fight or flight situations (10). The elevation of these hormones is detectable hours after consumption. Interestingly, the release of the same hormones occurs with decaffeinated coffee (11).
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid hormone that decreases with the consumption of coffee. DHEA is responsible for cellular and tissue repair. It also enhances memory and cognitive function, protects against stress, and supports numerous physiological processes (12).
Coffee consumption (including decaffeinated coffee) releases an addictive neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone and when the brain is bathed in dopamine, it never forgets the source. After the coffee rush wears off, the brain starts thinking about its next cup, so that when a coffee drinker drives by a coffee shop, they may be compelled to stop even if they were not previously thinking about coffee. This is the effect of dopamine on the brain—it’s the addictive “I’ve gotta have it” hormone (13).
Dopamine may only be one mechanism for the addictive nature of coffee, however. Withdrawal symptoms such as painful headaches, nausea, vomiting, loose stools, depression, anxiety, and fatigue are common when a coffee drinker tries to stop (14).
In addition, coffee:
• Raises homocysteine levels – a major risk factor for heart disease (15).
• Raises blood pressure (16).
• Raises cholesterol (17).
• Is associated with heart irregularities (18).
• Increases inflammation (19).
• Damages the nervous system (20).
• Interferes with neurotransmitters in the brain (21).
• Alters DNA repair (22).
• Increases risk of kidney stones (23).
• Lowers bone density (24).
• Interferes with sleep (25).
• Is linked to erectile dysfunction (26)
• Increases gastric reflux and heartburn (27).

The Ayurvedic Perspective

It seems that most of the negative research on coffee stems from the damaging effects of the increased production of degenerative stress hormones. Because these effects seem to be true for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, it would be logical to assume there must be other stimulating elements in coffee.
If you are using coffee as a stimulant to get energy, that in itself creates an imbalance. Using a stimulant to create energy you do not naturally have can potentially push you into debt, sometimes referred to as adrenal exhaustion.
Also, coffee, via its dopamine activation, is a very addictive substance that creates highs and lows in energy. In turn, these highs and lows can affect mood and physiological function.
It is also recognized in Ayurveda that coffee has an effect on the quality of mind, stimulating it into a “rajasic”, or overly active, state. This goes against the volumes of teachings that expound on the health benefits of stilling the mind, as in meditation.
Our world is already over-stimulated to the point that many of us cannot keep up. Taking a stimulant on top of that will quite possibly drive us to exhaustion.

Food or Medicine?

That said, I am a believer that all plants have a purpose and we must try to understand them rather than pass judgment on them. Some plants are meant to be used as a food and are safe to eat regularly, others are more like medicines.
We also have to consider that the way we process coffee may seriously alter its properties. There is a long process from bean to brew, and many factors along the way that can change the effects of the original plant as nature intended it. Until more studies are done on the raw green bean, the research we have to work with is based on the coffee drink, and it’s clear from this research that coffee has medicinal properties. But is it safe for regular long-term use?
Sometimes the best way to understand a controversial substance is to look at how it was traditionally used. Before coffee became widely grown in so many parts of the world, it was considered an elite drink. In Europe as early as the mid-1600’s, coffee was only used in very small quantities after the large meal in the middle of the day. Being very acidic, coffee may stimulate the digestive process and act as a digestif. There is also research that suggests that coffee may help control after-meal blood sugar spikes. However, even using coffee in this way can have undesirable effects in the long-run:
1.    It is an intestinal irritant that can inflame the digestive tract.
2.    It is overly acidic, which can congest the lymph and detox pathways.
3.    It can desensitize the mucosa of the gut, causing chronic constipation.
4.    It is extremely dehydrating and can dry out the skin, gut, and respiratory tract.
For these reasons, I wouldn’t suggest an espresso with every meal, but in moderation and for the right body types, coffee may be supportive for digestion. However, that same cup of coffee on an empty stomach in the morning will stimulate the adrenals to make excess energy and stress hormones that may deplete the body’s reserves. As I mentioned, the boost one feels from coffee is in fact stimulating the body to prepare for an emergency.
It is possible that coffee has the capacity to create a higher state of health for a short period of time, so as to help the body best cope with the “emergency state” of an illness such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, to name a few that I mentioned earlier (see “The Good” section, above).
My concern is the long-term effect of stimulating the body in this way. Given the facts, it seems more logical to recognize coffee as a drug or medicine: it boosts dopamine and drives degenerative hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine,  and inhibits calming GABA. These changes may be helpful in an emergency state or illness, but whether you would want your nervous system affected in this way in the long-term is questionable.
As for the reported health benefits, I attribute them to
-    Stimulating the body into a medicinal/emergency response to deal with a potential health threat, and
-    The wealth of antioxidants present in coffee, which certainly can’t be ignored. But has the roasting process altered the natural blueprint of coffee’s delicate balance of caffeine and antioxidants?

A Constitutional Approach

Ayurvedically speaking, certain constitutions will tolerate coffee better than others:
Vata types: The hyper-metabolic vata types will be easily over-stimulated by coffee and quickly become depleted by the over-stimulation.
Pitta Types: The already over-competitive pitta types will be driven even further by the coffee boost. Coffee is also very acidic and heating. This can be too much for the already hot pitta body type.
Kapha types: The hypo-metabolic kapha types are easygoing and heavy by nature. Coffee may in some instances offer a medicinal boost to stimulate or enhance metabolic function of the body.
*What’s your body type? Take our easy quiz and find out now.


Coffee as a drug or medicine may have its place. But how long will the benefits last?
If you find yourself depending on coffee for boosting energy, mental clarity or keeping your bowels regular, this may be a problem as the benefits may be short-lived.
Soon, more coffee may be needed to create these “benefits,” eventually leading to over-stimulation, adrenal exhaustion, negative side effects and even addiction. And, as with any addiction, it will ultimately leave us and our health at a disadvantage.
The green coffee extracts on the market may show some promise as preventative and healing agents, and I look forward to more studies about their efficacy. If we could harness the amazing benefits of this plant without risking the negative side effects, that would of course be ideal.
1.    Diabetes Care. 2006 Feb;29(2):398-403
2.    Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Jun;21(6):418-23
3.    J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 June 8;103(11):876-84
4.    Aa Epidemiol. 2001;(7):458-65
5.    J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S117-26
6.    Mov Disord. 2007 Nov 15;22(15):2242-48
7.    Amer J Clin Nutr. 2006 May;83(5)1039-46
8.    J Human Hypertens. 2006 Dec;20(12):909-12
9.    Hypertens Res. 2009 Niv;32(11):969-74
10.    Am J Ren Phys. 2003. 284(1):F32-40
11.    Pharmacology of Biochem and Behav. 2000 66(1):19-28
12.    The Endocrinology of Agig, Science. 1997. 278(5337):419-24
13.    Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Oct 13. Epub2011 Oct 13. PMID: 22019894
14.    JAMA. 1994. 272:1043-1048
15.    Amer J Clin Nutr. 2001. 73(3):532-8
16.    Amer J Hypertension. 203. 16(11):919-24
17.    J Internal med. 1991. 230(4):299-305
18.    Scand J Social med. 1996. 24(2):140-4
19.    Amer J Clin Nutr. 2004. 80(4)862-7
20.    Neuroendocrinology. 2003 38(2):227-31
21.    Mol Pharm. 1988 May;33(5):481-85
22.    Euro J Epidemiology. 2003 18(4):289-98
23.    J Urology. 2004 172(2):555-8
24.    Life Sciences. 1990 47(6):557-64
25.    J Amer geriatric 1995 43(8):860-4
26.    Inter J Impotence research. 2003 15(suppl 1:S8-14)
27.    Gastroenterology 1995 108(1); 125-31

Dr. John Douillard, DC has been practicing and teaching Ayurveda since 1988. He is the founder, owner and practitioner at John Douillard's LifeSpa. He regularly lectures worldwide and is a faculty member at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. To sign up to receive his free, weekly video-newsletters right in your inbox, along with exclusive discounts on Lifespa's organic herbal supplements and skin care products, visit lifespa.com. Also check out our free eBook downloads, The Short Home Cleanse and Ayurvedic Weight Balancing. New to Ayurveda? Read about our new introductory eCourse, The 28-Day Ayurvedic Challenge, and discover how integrating simple Ayurvedic principles into your daily routine can change your life.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The Greatest Drug Ever.


Finland does 3x what we do? That’s crazy. -  We are talking COFFEE!!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Five Rules for Being Happy Forever.


two girls dancing
Courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt

Happy events come and go.

We seem to put a great deal of stock in “happy.” The truth is, the more we think it’s something “out there” somewhere that we can find and keep, the less we have it. Happiness—or peace, or love—starts inside. It’s not something we can chase after and get. We have to choose it. We have to plant it if it’s what we want to grow in our lives.

If you want to be happy, it has a lot more to do with what you give than what you get:

Monk With Dogs, Myanmar (Burma)

Monk With Dogs, Myanmar (Burma)

Photograph by Guillaume Megevand
This Month in Photo of the Day: Animal Pictures
A monk having a stroll with three dogs at a beautiful lake in the city of Mandalay in Burma. It was shot not far from the famous U Bein Bridge.

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

Pineapple upside-down cake

Pineapple upside-down cake

Retro rocks. This classic pineapple upside-down cake makes a fun centre piece for afternoon tea and brings back many childhood memories.

Difficulty and servings

Easy Serves 6

Preparation and cooking times

Preparation time Prep 15 mins
Cook time Cook 40 mins


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. For the topping, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Spread over the base and a quarter of the way up the sides of a 20-21cm round cake tin. Arrange pineapple rings on top, then place cherries in the centres of the rings.
  2. Place the cake ingredients in a bowl along with 2 tbsp of the pineapple syrup and, using an electric whisk, beat to a soft consistency. Spoon into the tin on top of the pineapple and smooth it out so it's level. Bake for 35 mins. Leave to stand for 5 mins, then turn out onto a plate. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Per serving

407 kcalories, protein 5g, carbohydrate 49g, fat 23 g, saturated fat 14g, fibre 1g, sugar 36g, salt 0.87 g
Recipe from Good Food magazine, March 2008.



  • 50g softened butter
  • 50g light soft brown sugar
  • 7 pineapples rings in syrup, drained and syrup
  • glacĂ© cherry


The Nazi Origins of the Olympic Torch Relay 2012 07 27
By Martin Rogers | Yahoo Sports

When the most famous flame in sports winds its way through the streets of London before entering the Olympic Stadium and providing the 2012 Games with one of its most iconic images, it will be seen as a touching gesture of symbolism, grace and a nod to the ancient world.

Yet while the torch relay began once again at the historic site of Olympia on May 10 and is an integral part of any Games, its modern incarnation comes laced with sinister undertones that can be traced back to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and the controversial 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Nazi soldiers line up during the Opening Ceremony in Berlin on Aug. 1, 1936 (AP)

Many of those witnessing the final journey of the flame July 27 will have little idea that its origins do not lie in ancient Greece, and was instead formulated as a major part of the Nazis’ plot to shift international opinion in their favor.

"There had been no such torch relays in the ancient Games or, for that matter, in any of the 10 modern Summer Olympics preceding the Berlin Games," wrote renowned author David Clay Large in his outstanding book, "Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936," which was published in 2007. "The torch relay was one of but many ways in which the Nazi Games helped define the modern Olympic experience as we know it today."

The torch relay would play a major role in the propaganda offensive backed by Hitler and orchestrated by Dr. Joseph Goebbels. In the lead-up to the Games, the Nazi Propaganda Ministry supported a relay of the Olympic flame that would not only provide spectacular footage for Olympia, the 1938 film that was used to promote the Nazi ideal ahead of World War II, but could also be used for significant political and public relations benefit.

The ancient Greeks had run relay races that involved flames as part of their worship to the Gods, but there had been no such symbolism in the modern Games. There had been a flame at Amsterdam in 1928 and Los Angeles in 1932, but it did not come from Olympia and there was no relay.

Yet ahead of Berlin, the Nazis wasted no opportunity to ensure the flame’s journey was used to promote the party ethos. At the lighting ceremony in Greece, a German ambassador dedicated the torch to Hitler himself, while a band played the marching song of the Sturmabteilung, the Nazi Party army, according to Large.

"The Nazis used the Olympics to give the German public an exaggerated sense of national superiority that later was used in the service of military aggression," said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of Holocaust Studies at the David S. Wyman Institute in Washington D.C. "The games also gave Hitler a way to soften his public image in order to allay the international community’s concerns about his bigotry, violence and militarism."

Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief, carefully orchestrated coverage of the torch’s journey toward Berlin, which stretched through the Sudetenland, the region of Western Czechoslovakia that Germany wished to, and eventually would, annex.

Organization of the relay was left to Carl Diem, a leading German sports administrator and chief organizer of the Berlin Games who willed his extraordinary collection of memorabilia to a trust when he died in 1962. Yet Diem himself had a mixed past. He was a strong administrator and promoter of sports, and was not a Party member. Indeed, his wife’s Jewish heritage led to him being regarded with suspicion by some Nazi higher-ups.

However, toward the end of the war he gave an impassioned speech exhorting young German soldiers to fight until the death even as the full force of the Allied machine closed in.

Walter Borgers, director of the Carl and Lies Diem Archive, spoke of Diem’s passionate belief in the torch relay.

"He saw this as his life’s work," Borgers said. "He decided to make the relay part of the ceremony. It was the best advertising campaign of all time."

Diem and film director Leni Riefenstahl created much of the vision, but it was wholeheartedly embraced by Hitler and the Nazis. On the last part of the relay through Germany, only blue-eyed blond males were selected and the torch led Hitler and other senior party members into the Olympic stadium.

The imagery was powerful and the PR spin was, sadly, effective in persuading many observers that the Nazi regime was strong, but not brutal.

"To a significant extent, these Nazi deceptions worked," Medoff said. "The New York Times reported to its readers that the Germans displayed ’good will’ and ’flawless hospitality.’ The Associated Press predicted that the games would help ’assure peace’ in Europe."

The truth of course, was very different and within three years the entire continent was at war. Yet when hostilities finally ceased and the Games restarted in London in 1948, the torch relay was considered an element worth keeping.

Over the past 10 weeks, about 8,000 people will have carried the torch through 1,019 cities, towns and villages en route to London. How many know of the relay’s murky origin is anyone’s guess.

Ten Ways to Find Out if You Are Too Sensitive.


Mercado by Cuauhtemoc
Hot sun rays squeezed juicy scents from the mangos and papayas and sent them swirling into the air, and up my nostrils. A man played the guitar for change, vendors melodiously announced prices, street dogs nonchalantly brushed up against me as we weaved our way through the bustling crowd, decorated in their Sunday best, sprayed with their expensive perfumes. I felt mother tug me close to her, my sweaty hand in hers, as we passed the dusty beggars, uncomfortably settled on the cobblestone road, their skinny hands outstretched toward me, weighing heavily on my heart.
Later that day my mother found me in my room, sitting alone against the wall, a sheet draped over my head like a veil, my hand outstretched, my head bowed. I had internalized the beggars suffering as my own. I sought to understand it. I sought to find an explanation for pain in their eyes. I ached to find a solution for their hurts.
Beggar by Peter Kojin
I am told I remained that way for long stretches of time, after each visit to the outdoor market. My mother insists that the first time she found me like this, I was only three years old. Just tall enough to be directly at eye level with the pleading eyes of beggars, which I can still remember.
And then there were the live chickens: tied together by their feet and mercilessly dangling in the hot sun until someone picked one out for dinner. I remember staring into a basket full of chicken heads when I was a little girl. Their eyes still open. Their headless bodies running around the market, wings flapping wildly, like feathered zombies.
By the time I entered adolescence, my diet reflected all the times I had listened to animals being slaughtered at the public market. Sometimes their screams squeezed my torso so hard I could hardly breathe. Their agony had automatically become my own. How could the others just walk by the butcher shops as easily as they would a clothing shop? Laughing and talking as if no pain was being inflicted. My childhood mind could not grasp this. Didn’t they feel it?
“Oh! You’re just too sensitive!” people would tell me, or “Toughen up!”
Eventually I realized that my sensitive nature seemed to hold negative stigma, so I learned to keep my perceptions to myself most of the time. Finding another sensitive person who could relate to my views was a rare treat. But who exactly determines what’s “too sensitive” and what isn’t? I questioned why society saw my sensitivities as a negative. It’s almost as if they were telling me that the way I experienced life was somehow wrong. But my way of being was who I was. And, as a little girl, I saw myself doing many things with it!
Layla by Katarina Silva
I wanted to be a magical healer when I grew up, because I automatically tuned into people’s pain. I was eager to be a dancer because music could never contain me, and sent me moving with each note. I was drawn to become a firefighter, because the big, loud fire engines excited me and fueled me with a sense of urgency. I saw myself as a vet because I was convinced I could speak the language of animals. And I definitely imagined myself a mystical sorceress, because as a little girl I was absolutely convinced I could communicate with the deceased. Then there was my love for baking. Life was so yummy and full of arousing options!
Every one of us wants to be deliciously aroused in one way or another.

We want life to awaken us, stir us, stroke us, and stimulate us just enough to delight in our existence, and not so much that we’re overwhelmed by it. We thirst for stimulation from the time we are born. Not too much and not too little, but just the perfectly balanced amount that will twirl us in a dance of experiences and growth. My mother tells me I was an usually astute toddler with an endless capacity for exploration and inquiry. I felt the world beckoning to me. Life’s an endless playground out there and it’s calling our name!
Playtime is about perception. Those who are aware of more stimulants in their environment will naturally have an expansive state of perception. Two people may be in the same situation, receiving the same stimulation, but they way they experience it, and how aroused their nervous system becomes by it, could be whole galaxies apart!
How much of life are you awakened to?
Tree Soul by Katarina Silva
Recent neurological research has discovered that some of us, (about 15 to 20%, to be exact), are more sensitive to the world around us than the rest. We move through life with a more pronounced state of awareness, and depth of experience. We are easily aroused by the subtleties in our surroundings, such as changing moon phases, ocean tides, shifting weather patterns, magnetic fields, sonic frequencies and the migration of animals, insects and birds, to name a few.
We are also more attuned to the activities in our own bodies such as imbalances, breath patterns, heart rate, digestion, muscle tension and sexual arousal. As well as being more active in our dreams, our fantasy life, memories, imaginations and especially, our intuition. Possibly, the most common way to detect us is that we are extremely empathetic to the feelings of others, including animals, almost as if they were our own. Sometimes it can all be very overwhelming and exhausting!
Being born with heightened sensitivity can become our greatest asset or our worst liability, depending on how we relate to it.

Although most most of contemporary society is structured in such a way that being extra sensitive can sometimes feel like a curse, ancient cultures recognized it as a special gift, and they admired  and valued those who possessed it as special guides. 


If you can relate to six or more of the case scenarios below, (or parallel ones you imagine in your mind), you are probably among the 20% of the population that has been gifted with this heightened level of sensitivity:
1. While others usually interact socially with many people at surface levels, you prefer to connect with just a handful of people but at very deep and meaningful levels.
2. While some merely watch movies, you participate in them on an emotional level nearly akin to the characters themselves, and use the ending credits after movies to transition from the world on the screen, back into the world around you. Oh! And did I mention we always bring tissues? 
3. While others seem to move through public education with no problem, you feel oddly out of your element restricted by the ringing bells, the buzzing florescent lights, the deadlines on assignments, the superimposed pace, the lack of creativity.
4. While some may only notice the “lovely” sounds of birds, you can’t help but to decipher the tone of the bird calls and realize that they are not lovely at all, but distress calls, in which a larger bird is targeting the fledgelings of another for its next meal!
5. While others can enter a room without having its details phase them, you notice everything from the stain on the left curtain panel, to the cooking smells from the previous meal, the texture of the couch upholstery, its temperature, lighting, how close the traffic sounds are, and any residue tension lingering in the air from the argument that transpired in the room before you even entered it.
6. While others can run with the monotonous rat race at urban speed, through multiple tasks, rush hour traffic, complaining bosses and many co-workers, day after day, year after year, your constitution is more suited to working at your own pace, in peaceful surroundings, or you may become rattled.
7. While most will just walk by a crying child being ignored by its mother in a supermarket cart without incident, you feel your heart beating faster as you’re compelled to relieve it of its discomfort.
8. While most people can go from work, to shopping, to socializing in a single day without even blinking an eye, you find yourself needing to pace yourself and take time to recharge in between stimulating activities or events.
9. While most people can rush through an art museum ingesting one work after another in a short amount of time, you prefer to take time to absorb the essence of each piece at a more gradual, thorough pace, usually involving connecting with the emotional make up and mind-set of each artist.
10. While most people can go through lovers like fashion styles, your erotic encounters are whole person experiences with someone you love, leaving you feeling as if the whole room is spinning, and in need of recovery time from your intense lovemaking before you can participate fully in the next activity.
If you are gifted with a heightened sensitivity, remember that most of the world is designed for those who do not have this personality trait. But please don’t let that silence you! 
If you ever felt as if you did not fit in, remember that there is nothing wrong with the way you are. We are the privileged minority! And although we may not always be welcomed or facilitated by most of the modern world’s structures, we compose most of the creative quotient on the planet, for we are always inventing new ways to go against the grain. And all life thrives on creativity!
People with heightened levels of sensitivity are often found designing our own alternative lifestyles, or innovating new approaches to living.
Shaman by Katarina Silva
We aim to surround ourselves with others who will respect our sensitive nature, and not try to change it. Tribal cultures view us as their spiritual guides, and humanity’s doorway to the mysteries of the universe. As Marie-Louise Von Franz, who worked closely with Jung once mentioned:
“On a primitive level the highly sensitive is the shaman, who knows what the gods and ghosts and ancestral spirits are planing, and who conveys their messages to the tribes….these sensitive ones know about the slow process that goes on in the collective unconscious.”
In Elaine. N Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person, she writes about how today, rather than becoming our tribe’s prophets and seers, we are the the world’s poets, inventors, artists, musicians, and dancers!
The highly sensitive are the wild and the wise. We are the rebels and radicals and revolutionaries. We are the visionaries who can glimpse the future. We are so many things to so many people, probing generally unnoticed areas and returning with our findings. And as Von Franz says, though we may be misunderstood by our peers, we will most likely be recognized by  “later generations, as a representation of what was going on in the collective unconscious at that time.” Life honors us!
 So, you who ingests life at a whole other level of awareness, who we find in well-stocked libraries, and rescuing dogs from shelters, and in meditation rooms or tending to organic gardens as the sun peeks over the horizon. You who volunteers for human rights organizations, and who forgets to eat you are so consumed by your latest art project, and notices the spider web that appeared in your favorite tree from one day to another. You modern day shaman, who navigates through life to your own tune, gently, conscientiously, and as gracefully as possible (as long as our adrenals kick in when we need them most!). You beautiful, sensitive soul: Just feel free to be yourself, without apologizing.

Katarina Silva is an emerging self-portraiture artist whose work’s unique signature is the absence of her face, and the creation of each image in only ten seconds. Her expressive photographic images are fueled by an intuitive and spontaneous, creative process that celebrates the feminine spirit. You may view her work at The Art of Katarina Silva. 

21 Faces of Brave New World – Happy Birthday, Aldous Huxley

Best remembered for his novel Brave New World, author Aldous Huxley wrote ten other novels and nearly that many collections of short stories. Today would be his 118th birthday. The circumstances of his death are interesting – not only did he request (and receive) a hefty intravenous dose of LSD on his deathbed, but also the date of his death, November 22nd 1963, is infamous. Huxley died that day, as did C.S. Lewis. Most memorably of all, the assassination of American president John F. Kennedy (JFK) was the same day.
Brave New World was Huxley’s fifth novel of 11. It was published originally in 1932, and is famously futuristic and dystopian, depicting a society starkly different in terms of rules and roles around sex, family, government, drugs, socialization and much more. Reproduction is largely unrecognizable next to its current iteration (and certainly when compared to 1932). Modern critics often remark upon some of the more shrewd and prescient aspects of the novel that have come to some degree of fruition – the deadening of the masses with electronics, the apathetic numbing by consumerism and such.
It is widely considered one of the finest English-language novels ever written. But while it may have been written in English, it is now available for non-English readers, too – the novel has been translated into over 25 languages. It has also had some spectacular covers. Here are 21 covers of the novel – 9 English, and 4 each of the Spanish, German and French translations. Hard to decide which is my favorite.
English language Brave New World covers:

Spanish language Brave New World covers:

German language Brave New World covers:

French language Brave New World covers:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Don't let your hot dog burn this summer...

Well, it's finally sunny here in the UK, and the more responsible sun worshippers are slapping on sun cream, covering up in direct sunlight and keeping hydrated (that's with water, not booze!). But are they doing the same for their dogs?

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust, explains:
"Dogs can suffer from sunburn just like us. Facing a higher risk are dogs with white or light-coloured hair, those with short or no hair at all and dogs that have lost hair through allergies or medical treatment."
Remember that it is also crucially important not to leave dogs in hot cars. Just twenty minutes waiting in a hot car can prove fatal.

You can keep your dog healthy and happy by following just a few tips:

  • Keep him in the shade during the hottest part of the day - preferably ion the cool indoors
  • NEVER leave her in the car in warm weather
  • Avoid long car journeys in hot weather
  • Clip fur and apply pet sun cream to easily burned areas: nose, ears, eyelids and belly. DON'T use human sun cream - it can be toxic so visit your local pet shop and get one made specifically for dogs.

More tips (updated July 2009):

  • Be extra vigilant with older and overweight dogs as they are more prone to overheat. In a real emergency wet your dog thoroughly and use a household fan to blow cool air over their head and body. Seek urgent veterinary attention.
  • If your dog takes a dip in a lake or pool make sure you rinse him as soon afterwards as possible. Never allow your dog to drink from ponds unless the water is clear as algae in the water can produce toxins that are rapidly fatal.

If your dog shows signs of distress – such as excessive panting, blueness of the tongue or collapse contact your local vet immediately. For more advice on dealing with heat and identifying the signs of heatstroke, please visit the 'heat' section of our website.
Spiritual Bliss

Found on Facebook - not all rubbish on there!

There always is light for us to access.

I wish you light in your darkest hours. When life seems to be confusing or empty, and when your path seems to be hidden in the shadows of pain, doubt, despair, or unrest, may you find the light inside of you that will help you to see things as they truly are, for every night comes to an end, every storm runs its course, and light and peace always return to us.

I wish you the power of a perspective that allows you to see the beauty of the darkness, no matter how threatening your current situation, or how uneasy you may feel. There always is light for us to access, whether it be the light of God or the light of a close friend, or even the light within ourselves that is the power and the strength with which we've all been blessed to one extent or another.

I wish you the ability to develop the light that is within you, to strengthen your spiritual faith, to help your faith in yourself to grow and thrive. You have the gift of self-sufficiency, and the possibility of growing into a person who is strong and able. But may you not grow too strong, though, so that you reject the help and love and caring of others who wish to be there for you. Balance your strength with your needs and the needs of others to be helpful and to show their caring. VIA POSITIVE THOUGHTS

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sunshine dogs

Pear Upside-Down Almond Cake (Gluten-Free)

Apr 9 2012
an attempt at a spiral a ring with smaller pieces in the middle
All upside-down cakes are essentially the same: you start by lining the pan with sugar and pieces of fruit. The batter goes on top, and after it’s baked and cooled, you hold your breath and turn it over. If it doesn’t stick to the pan or fall apart, the fruit on the bottom of the pan, which will have caramelized in the oven, should form a beautiful topping. No additional assembly or decoration necessary.
Pineapple is the American favorite, often with maraschino cherries tucked into the center of the rings. The French classic tarte tatin usually uses apples. I found myself with a glut of overripe pears again, so I thought I’d give those a try. I also wanted to keep it celiac-friendly, so I was delighted to find this recipe which uses ground almonds in place of any grain flours.From the original recipe at Epicurious
Flourless almond cake is apparently a specialty of several regions in Spain—I found it attributed to Galicia (in the northwest corner), Majorca (an island in the Mediterranean off the southeast coast), and Navarre (which borders France). It was likely created by Jews as a Passover dessert, as it’s free of both dairy and flour; the only ingredients are almonds, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and (sometimes) cinnamon. Pastry shops near the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia now sell it year-round, dusted with powdered sugar except for a Santiago cross stenciled in the center. At cafes and restaurants on Majorca, home to over 4 million almond trees, the same cake is served with a scoop of dairy-free almond ice cream, which is described as being so light and pure in flavor it’s almost more like a sorbet. In Navarre, it’s typically topped with apricot jam.
Although the pears break with Spanish tradition, I think they complement the recipe well. They add a welcome bit of additional sweetness without overwhelming the delicate combination of almond, lemon, and cinnamon. The caramel also adds moisture and richness, without which it might seem a bit plain. And if you’re not keeping kosher, a generous helping of cream whipped with vanilla or an orange liqueur is a fine substitute for the ice cream.
Only a 1/4 cup of caramel for each cake, but the pear juices also caramelize and seep into the cake; also, a recipe that doubles with no problems
Recipe: Pear Upside-Down Almond Cake (adapted from Gabby’s Gluten-Free and Bon Appetit)
basic caramel, which I opted for instead of the brown sugar versions which seem to use 4x as much sugar and can be grainyIngredients:
For the topping:
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 T. water
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1-2 large pears
For the cake:
  • 150 g. almond meal (1 1/4 cups; or 1 1/3 cups blanched, slivered almonds finely ground in a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • pinch of salt
Extras: more butter for greasing pan, parchment paper, whipped cream or ice cream to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Generously butter a 9”  cake pan and line with parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan.
my grocery store only carries that horrible "If You Care" brand, so my parchment is unbleached; I don't care about the color, but I hate supporting such a passive-aggressive brand name washing down the sides of the pan. you could probably skip this step if you add a tablespoon of corn syrup, which also prevents crystallization
2. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Put some more water in another bowl with a pastry brush. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir the sugar mixture until it dissolves. Continue cooking without stirring for 8-10 minutes or until it begins to darken. Use the pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pan with water periodically to prevent crystallization. Once it begins to color, swirl the pan so the caramel cooks evenly, and pull it off the heat once it’s a medium amber. Add the butter, which will bubble and foam, stir until combined and immediately pour into the prepared cake pan. If it wants to harden and won’t spread evenly, put the pan in the oven as it preheats for 5-10 minutes.
just beginning to color coating the bottom of the pans, doesn't have to be perfectly even
3. Core the pears and cut them into 1/8” slices. Arrange them in a single layer on top of the caramel.
spiral on the left, concentric circles on the right
4. Combine the egg yolks and sugar and beat until they’re pale and lemony. Add the almond meal, lemon zest, cinnamon, extract if using, and salt and stir until combined.
yolks and sugar, first combinedthis is how much they lighten with beating: no color correction!
5. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture in 3 parts. After each addition of whites, fold just until nearly combined—there will be some streaks of egg white remaining.  addition #1 all egg whites mixed in--you can still see a few faint streaks of white
6. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading so the surface is even.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
 in the pansdone--the structure of the cake is pretty firm once it's cooked
8. Let cool completely in the pan. When ready to unmold, place a plate upside down on top of the pan and invert. Shake to make sure the cake has released and remove the pan.