Tasty Low Calorie Food Alert

Now that that big speech about whole foods is out of the way, I am going to sound like I am contradicting myself here, but I am a practical person too. Of course whole foods are the best thing to eat but we don’t live by lettuce alone. When I find something at the grocery store that helps me hold the calories down and tastes great I go for it. Here are a couple of items that fit that description. 
The first one is The Laughing Cow Light spreadable cheese wedges. They come in wonderful flavors like Garlic and Herb and Sun Dried Tomato and only 35 calories a Wedge. The Wedges are a generous size and the fat content is also low: 1 gram saturated fat, no trans fats.

The second one is Skinny Cow Low Fat Ice Cream Bars. These are sooo good and only 100 calories per bar. They have several flavors but I highly recommend the Caramel Truffle. Saturated fat only 1.5! These treats will really help with the cravings with a minimum of guilt.
The “cows” have it going on!

Treat Yourself to the Good Stuff

The only way we can reduce the amount of food we eat is to make sure we leave the table feeling on some level, satisfied. If not in quantity than in quality. So taste matters and it matters a lot. We have to eat the foods we love. Favorite foods could include a lot of healthy items that we may not buy because they are expensive or out of season or maybe we just don’t think about them anymore because the junk food has taken over our taste buds. A few salted nuts can never stand up to the intense flavor of Doritos, Frito Lay is counting on that. Yet. if we stop buying the Doritos and keep a can of nuts on the pantry shelf instead, the next time the munchies hit we may find that those nuts hit the spot pretty well.  Everyone loves something that is healthy. What is it for you? Strawberries? Popcorn? Avocados? Consider keeping those items around to tempt you into eating right.

If you love to eat something that is unhealthy then take it slow. Wean yourself off of it by offering yourself a healthier replacement of some kind. For example. we all drink a lot of soda pop these days. I loved soda too and drank it a lot. I consumed a lot of empty calories that way as I never could abide diet soda, the taste of those chemicals just made me sick. Soda just isn’t good for you not matter what form it takes. I had to give it up. So, the first thing I did was to cut back on the amount of soda I drank. Then I invented substitutes like club soda mixed with fruit juice or even sweetened herb tea. Over time I stopped missing the soda. I sure don’t miss the calories. I will still have a soda once in a great while but as a dessert treat only.

Find your favorite whole food and keep it in the kitchen. Treat yourself with it and it will keep the feeling of deprivation from your door. If it’s a real food the damage to your body will be minimal. Worry about the calories later. The main thing is to get off the phony, high calorie, processed food. If you keep eating bananas or berries or sunflower seeds, the junk food might start to to taste…well, like junk. 

Acknowledging changes

Today I changed the title of my blog and am ready to begin this conversation with myself that can be overheard by anyone else who is interested. I am going to put my height and weight in a separate column and update it as I can. This way I can see which way the pounds are headed. My goal is not only to lose more weight but continue to eat the best food possible for my body’s health. My ongoing philosophy is that: 

Diets don’t work – Going on a diet means altering your eating habits temporarily. Yes, you lose weight and then you go back to your previous life and gain it all back.

Fanaticism isn’t healthy – I don’t want to get obsessive about this, I think that if you want to have an ice cream sundae sometime, you should have it. The trick is to make it a special treat and not have one every night. My personal weakness is potato chips, I could eat the whole bag, so I don’t buy them. I save them for parties or holidays and then eat what I want.

Moderation in all things This is similar to the fanaticism statement but I want to remember to keep balance in my life. An equilibrium of common sense that includes movement (not exercise per say) and rest, food intake variety that includes all the best categories: nuts, fruits, vegetables and grains, emotional tranquility, occasional treats, and a good even split between work and play.

Make less more – This is about portion control and I think it’s a big component in keeping us all fat. We just plain eat too much. So, my goal is to make my food so delicious that I feel satisfied eating less. 

Movement – A resolve to get out of the chair (I write a lot) and move. To keep up a certain amount of physical movement every day to help burn calories and improve muscle tone. 


The Weigh to Eat

I am going in a new direction on this blog. I was never much of a blogger as anyone can see,  I don’t have a lot of time for extra writing chores as I am working diligently on an Astrology book with hopes for publication. 

Now I have grown too frustrated not to vent somewhere and a blog seemed to be the right place. What I see everyday and everywhere are the people I love getting fatter and further away from healthy long lives. No one wants to gain weight or be unhealthy but it’s become a terrible struggle for all of us to do otherwise. 

I am constantly angry at food manufacturers, restaurants, grocery stores, and even the government! They are the people who present us with food options or make laws that determine how healthy our food will be. At the same time I know it is not all their fault either. Some of the time they only give us what we’ve asked for, but there are other instances when they have been downright devious at their manipulation of our taste buds and desires. So, in the end, it all comes down to us and what we want: the public. We are the ones that will ultimately dictate what food product stays on the supermarket shelf or how big the portions are at a restaurant. At home we hardly cook anymore because fast food is too easy an answer when we’re confused, tired and short on time. In addition we work long hours and money is tighter than ever. 

Now we can’t turn on the TV or pick up a magazine today without hearing about the obesity epidemic. What are we supposed to do? Where do we turn for help?  I think we are all between a rock and a hard place.

Last year I got fed up with my constant weight gain and really tried to, once and for all, lose the extra pounds that have been creeping up year after year. The idea was to add more whole foods to my meals and take away as much junk food as I could without feeling deprived. It turned out to be a much greater struggle than I thought it would be, to even lose one pound. I kept thinking, if this is taking up so much of my mental and physical energy to just lose a few pounds (I am about 35 pounds over weight) how the heck do people who find themselves on the other side of obese ever manage? Sometimes it seems completely overwhelming and even useless to try and that can’t be because if we give up then we are doomed to lose our quality of life, suffer from debilitating illnesses, and die younger than ever. 
There were (and still are) days of total frustration for me where the scale doesn’t seem to make any sense in comparison to what I am consuming. Finally I have made a little progress, having lost about 10 pounds over this last year. I am still far from slim but I have found a few things that have helped me. Some were recipes, some were products and a few lifestyle changes.

This is a very touchy subject to discuss with anyone. What we eat is a very personal choice but I don’t want to stand by and watch my friends and family get sick. What can I do? I can share what I have learned and what I am learning and how hard this is for me too and hope that it makes some difference in the world. This problem of constant weight gain and consumption of unhealthy food scares me because I see no sign of a permanent solution yet. I am scared for us all because if we can’t fix the way we eat we are all headed for very bad times. So, I will start this blog segment and see if I can find the time for regular postings. I hope to put out here what has worked for me and what hasn’t, to try and inspire not only myself but anyone else who might read this to just keep trying to: 
Eat a little less and a little more healthy every day.       

Autumn Poem






Geese honk October’s byword
In a sky suddenly a deeper shade of blue.

The secret season is here.
And leaves like Jack O’ Lanterns glow,
A final bonfire of color before the winter white.

Summer finery falls away to reveal stems of substantial strength
Ready for storms to come
Wild winds rattling dead grasses,
Lay the land bare like a skeleton bones

While inscrutable shadows creep across the landscape,
Creating moody kaleidoscopes with dizzying speed,
Exciting artistic inspiration ~C.W.


Haven’t been in the blogosphere for a long time. Life has been too good and too busy to bother but these long warm fall days are just too beautiful not to post a few pictures.
Seems appropriate to post some writing on contemplation here.

Contemplation: What we don’t have time for, may be just the thing we need.

Walk down any book aisle these days and you will notice a flood of titles all screaming that our lives have become overwhelming and we are way too busy in them. I don’t think we need anyone telling us what’s already in our face; no one is arguing that the pressure is on. Like an overbooked airline we consistently cling to the hope that some ticket holder on the next flight will be willing to take a later time or cancel altogether giving us the break we need. Yet, when we finally get some downtime, instead of relaxing, we tend to program that too, filling it up with “purposeful” activity.

As usual advertisers have caught on to what we dream about and the latest media catch word for selling anything is “simplify.” A lot of solutions are being sold out there, whole magazines dedicated to showing us how to do the quick fix simple thing in twelve easy steps. We may think we know how to combat craziness, but do we see is any detailed explanation as to why we should care? Other than being a bit tired and stressed, what’s the big deal about being over scheduled anyway?

We read about stress levels are significantly higher for the lowest worker on the corporate pole because he has the least amount of say over decisions in the workplace and beyond. The solution being offered seems to be work even harder, (demanding even more time and energy) and become some Big Cheese. I don’t really think that’s the answer most of us are looking for though. It isn’t that we have too many people telling us what to do, it’s the feeling that we are not in charge of our lives. We lack the security and the inner knowing that we are heading toward what we want in life. This is where our stress is coming from. If we were sure that everything we’re putting up with was carrying us to our own personal glory (whatever form that might take), I think we’d all be a whole lot more relaxed.

However (vague notions of wealth or fame aside), most of us just haven’t a very clear idea what goals to give ourselves. Our busy schedules are sacrificing more than quality time with the kids. Finding ourselves at the center of so much outside activity has created lives fraught with what I call: flitation. We flit from project to problem never getting much time to think anything through. In the process we’re not only losing a sense of accomplishment we’re losing the center of our SELF. We never seem to have the time to stop and see ourselves very clearly, to get a sense of who we are and what we need. If we could put our fingers on our places for a little while, we could hold a space in which to create some new ideas. As it is we aren’t able to stay still and focused for any length of time to know how we could make the changes we need to get us where we want to go. We must have some stillness and quiet to think and assess without an IPOD accompaniment.

The major themes of life may be family, home, money, and career, but minor details like: self knowledge, introspection, personal philosophy, and creativity, are extremely important nuances in a life well lived and they are getting left behind. Do you know what you believe and why? Do you have a personal code of ethics that you live by? What do you think you have an aptitude for? Do you understand your fears and how to ease them? How do you use your imagination? Do you give more to yourself or to others and why? How far would you go to achieve your goals?

Without clear answers to these questions and many more like them making personal plans and projections is harder if not impossible. It’s in the details of our life that we find our drive, the engine that lays down the tracks we follow to self actualization and satisfaction. If we don’t tend to the inside of ourselves: who we are, why we think what we do, how we feel and what we believe, then our outside life can fall apart. It comes unglued because there is no cohesion, no foundation or framework, nothing to give any personal meaning to what we are presently doing.

We need time for contemplation. Contemplation is an art that can be cultivated. If it’s been awhile since you sat still and quiet for any length of time without popcorn and a DVD it can get a little uncomfortable. It feels awfully foreign to be alone with nothing to do and the longer you stay there the chance that certain less than satisfying things about you or your life (once easily avoidable by way of distraction) float to the surface. You may have to acknowledge that you are in some depressing situation or even not (yet) the person you want to be. It could get pretty ugly. Don’t despair, it’s what you’re there for, to reassess and rectify, to clean out what you don’t like or doesn’t belong anymore. Then the dreaming and planning and restructuring can begin.

Once we know what we really want again and why, we have to keep our lives going in the direction that we intend and that too, requires the constant vigilance that regular contemplation can provide. Any time a rash of outside concerns demand our attention the more trivial any life on the inside will appear, making contemplation seem like a total time waster. Yet without it we lose our central core and the personal order we keep that helps us make sense of our lives. It takes a lot of discipline, fortitude and even courage to consistently go against the current flow of flitation.

After a few hours a month of this quiet: Awareness will develop naturally or deepen because we now have a more defined sense of self, we know more clearly why we make the choices we do. We are operating from a focused, organized center of our being. We have our mission statement. We are conscious. With our newfound awareness, that is: the ability to simultaneously hold on to all that we are and take in what is going on around us and see how these two things fit or don’t fit together, we can go about living our outside life. Armed with the knowledge we acquire during our downtime, we are better able to make decisions that bring us closer to our personal objectives.

Finding a time for personal contemplation may seem old fashion and a frivolous waste of something so finite but carving out some space to mentally regroup each month gives us perspective and the peace of mind that comes with understanding our true purpose. It isn’t an inconsequential interruption in our life; it is an invaluable resource for it. It is what’s known as living life deliberately.

The Importance of Vision

February 2007

“…Live the life you have imagined…” -Thoreau
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” -Gandhi

The second day of February is historically more than the Groundhog’s Day. On the old pastoral calendar it was the first day of spring! Now, we may have a foot of snow on the ground, but underneath the soil the seeds are stirring. When I walked out the other morning I heard the Chickadees singing “Say Phoebe” the translation of which must be something like, (among other things,) “Hey! Want to build a new life together?” Every year the hardy little birds lead us all in pushing nature’s restart button. In support of them (and breaking with tradition,) this is the time of year I am most likely to make personal resolutions or plans. This is time of year to have Vision.

For me, having Vision is an extension of being awake and aware in life. It is the simultaneous melding of accurate present circumstances with an imaginary future for the purpose of achieving my desired goals.

The first part of Vision is to periodically run reality checks on all our operations, to see things as they are in order to embrace what is really going on. To tell ourselves the absolute truth, we need some understanding of who we are, what we want and why. We don’t need to be psychic to see that when we take what has manifested around us and add our feelings and reactions to it, we project a future. It’s just like watching a movie where the leading man (or woman) has a peculiar attitude that you just know is going to propel them into certain circumstances for good or ill.

The other half of having Vision is holding onto a picture of the future as we imagine it. Where do we want to go? Picturing your life as you would like it to be means understanding who you would be in that life and that is the key to getting there. To overtake that future requires being that person right now. It is good to have some steps in mind for the journey but remember over-planning will get in the way of any unforeseen yet fortuitous happenings. We are interested in the result, not attached to the process. We must be willing to balance our idea of how we think things should happen and having faith, for the universe delights in unexpected short cuts. With that in mind have all the long range goals you want.

Now we stand back and marry both sides, asking ourselves: do they mesh? Are we headed for the future we want? Or is our Vision skewed in some way and why? What are we willing to do differently to get there?

Vision is our mooring in life, without it we drift on a tide of reaction and indifference. It’s another of those things I think is sadly lacking at the moment. We have mission statements, business models, projected sales and financial planning, but, I don’t see much Vision at work in our world, not positive vision anyway.

An example of global Vision would be for a country to have an accurate sense of the outcome on any action it may take. Governments especially, must have Vision; all good leaders should have a positive vision for what can be achieved. It’s not about who we have been but rather, what are we capable of? To be sure, always something far better than what we were. As a country called the United States: who would we like to be tomorrow? A kind-hearted people working toward peaceful coexistence? What kind of circumstances will be living with in 10 years? Prosperous and respected? Our present government never took this into account. True Vision in a governmental body organically produces responsibility for any outcome is a direct result of their viewpoint. Here, more than anywhere else we have the obligation to promote and preserve positive action at all times, preventing reckless reaction.

The ability to follow a present course of action to a thoughtful and logical conclusion is paramount. If our “leaders” could have skipped ahead to the idea that fighting, instead of working with enemies only breeds more animosity, and at the same time, held a vision of a world where countries could connect to what we have in common instead of fighting over what we don’t, well, we might all be living in a very different time.

Vision in a society or culture is seeing all the motivations that a group of people may possess in the pure light of day and then imagining, going beyond, to all possibilities of what they could be. Can they work through their fear of change, for instance, and learn to accept the variations of nature? Can they “see” a time when they are not afraid but confident and empowering to all? How will their new philosophy affect their infrastructure and their laws?

Vision in a community is being able to see how the town of Sandpoint’s present attitude can affect the way we will all live forever more. What do we want our town to look like, to feel like? We must understand how every decision we make today effects Sandpoint’s beauty, character, wealth and people for many decades to come.

At the foundation of all these though, remains Personal Vision, the most important of all. Everything begins at the individual level. To address your present attitude and circumstances with honesty and accuracy is to project a realistic result that one can study for acceptance or rejection. To then create and imagine a life experience that speaks more intensely to who you really are and what you are capable of is to see your life the way it should be and then, holding it in a stop frame use the image as a template to, like the Chickadees do, build a new life.

Authentic Astrology

People are passionate about Astrology. They either love it or they hate it. The big irony here is whichever side people are on, in all probability, they don’t really understand it.

First of all there are many different types of Astrology. Everything from Medical Astrology: the study of illness, and Astrocartography: the effect of changing locations, to Electional Astrology, encompassing timing and politics. The best known category is, of course: Natal Astrology. The study of human personality based on date, time and place of birth.

Astrology had it’s own birth approximately 4000 B.C. around Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). As you can imagine, historical records are a bit on the sketchy side and this, coupled with the speculation that what was committed to papyrus was destroyed in the great fire of Alexandria adds even more mystery to its origins.

We’ve been left with a fragmented knowledge of Astrology’s development and raffish reasons for it’s accuracy. There have been some interesting modern day theories put forth as to how Astrology works, one in particular by the Astro-physicist Percy Seymour regarding electromagnetic fields, but the truth is; at this point in time, we just don’t know why it works, only THAT it does. It is something that can be observed and studied and worked within, with most profound results. It has changed people’s lives. Why? Because knowledge is power and self knowledge is the most empowering of all and that’s exactly what Natal Astrology offers: the ability to “know thyself”.

For most people, the sum total of their Astrological exposure comes from those over-simplified sun sign columns in the daily newspaper. They may be fun to read but their imprecision and impracticality has given Astrology a very bad rap. The problem with lumping all the Taurians together and telling them what kind of day they are going to have is to assume that Taurians are all alike and they are not. People with the same sun signs, IE: all the Leos, Taurus’s Scorpios etc. out there do share some commonality but not enough to do any GENERALIZED DAY BY DAY forecasting. The sign the sun was in, the month you were born, is only the beginning of a personality profile. In addition to a sun sign each person has 11 other planets, 12 houses and several other pertinent points in a Natal chart to consider. The complexity of a Natal or birth chart is not to be underestimated. Considering how multi layered each human personality is this must be so to make any sense of it at all.

Our universe is composed of various vibrational energies starting at the subatomic level and building up to manifestation into the physical forms we live within and interact with. Astrology sorts all this energy into 12 categories, twelve differing vibrations and these are named for the 12 planets in our sky. (For simplicities sake Astrologers count our sun and moon as planets, although we know they are technically luminaries.) These planets encompass and rule the signs we are all so familiar with. The reason we began to use planets as representatives of these 12 energies has to do with years of observation by ancient Astronomers and is too detailed to go into here

When it comes to the human population we know well some of the categories and the generalities of energy patterns or vibes occurring at certain times and places, we can see them when we look at such things as eras in history and the generations born into them: Depression Era Children, Baby Boomers, and Generation Xers. .

As we move down to the individual level we find ourselves right back at the Natal chart. So, what is a natal chart exactly? It is a map of the sky at the time and place you were born, a freeze frame snapshot of everything that was going on above your head and consequently in the world, the second you took your first breath. It is a template, an imprint of what kind of energies were dominant and how they were interacting. Like a fractal, you are a reflection of the energy present in that moment of birth and by studying it; one begins the journey to self understanding.

Even with the endless assortment of information available in a person’s natal chart, it it still quite easy for a layperson to garner a rudimentary working knowledge of Astrology, enough to understand their strengths and weaknesses and do one’s own tracking of fortuitous times and minor disasters.

Another amazing thing about Astrology is that built within the system of each natal chart are levels to be traversed. It is not meant to be a fixed place by which to judge, blame and fall victim to, there is flexibility and choice. It is a framework and not a cage. It is not a religion either, but a system that gives us a language to consider and discuss those things that are sometimes too intangible to grasp, that of: attitude, emotional mood, and how different thinking processes foster various conclusions to the same problem.

I predict at some future point everyone will have a copy of their chart and check it regularly along with the weather channel because it not only gives us a way of seeing, embracing and using our unique talents but also allows us an understanding and acceptance of our fellow human beings and what they, in their turn, are dealing with.

Life is certainly no laugh-in, but the acquisition of self knowledge through a Natal chart can cultivate responsibility, give freedom of choice, show us where we fit in, release us from envy, bestow confidence, build respect and turn life’s trials into opportunities for growth.

When authentic Astrology is used we have the tools to comprehend what has always eluded us: real personal power. A life around us in balance with our true self, real integration within society, an understanding of the environment we find ourselves in and the ability to live ever deeper in a state of grace.