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SparkPeople Cincinnati Convention Anyone?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I'm giving serious thought to going to this one-day program on Saturday, September 26. I would drive up to Cincinnati on Friday (like 10+ hours of driving) and drive home Sunday and that's not at all daunting, since I'm a veteran driver after 11 years with the sweater co-op traversing the country. I live about an hour north of Little Rock, in Conway, Arkansas, off of I-40. If anyone wants to discuss carpooling, let me know! Here's the route -- I-40 East to Nashville; I-65 North to Louisville; I-71 North to Cincinnati.

The cost is $50.00 for registration prior to August 31, 2009. After August 31, 2009 the price goes up to $80.00. I joined the "Spark Your Life" Convention Cincinnati Team to keep up with all the developments.

Here's the convention agenda which I find quite appealing, both in terms of presenters and topics:
In prior years I've actually set up at the Greater Cincinnati Convention Center, where it's being held, and sold sweaters!

AND I just discovered that sisters Tracy ("T" or "Tee") and LynnAnn will be there, and Carolyn is THINKING of going. The three are Thanksgiving Community Team members.

So WHO ELSE might be going???

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NORLANA 7/29/2009 7:01PM

    I am seriously considering it. I need to be in Charlotte later that week to help my daughter move home to Pittsburgh. It would be so awesome to finally meet in person!

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WHATAGRL42 7/16/2009 4:02PM

    Hey M!

As you probably recall, I really enjoyed the San Diego convention. They've gotten a ton of feedback, both positive and constructive, and I'd imagine that the Cincinnati day will be even more fabulous.
Go for it!

Lisa emoticon

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    Sounds like tons of fun! Esp. the part about meeting other Sparkers! I say go for it!

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KUZINKEITH 7/15/2009 11:09PM

    I hope you find some folks to hook up with --- and take lots of pictures. I know you'll enjoy it ... you find a way to enjoy everything.

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SHEENADEE 7/15/2009 10:32PM

    I'll be there! Of course, I live in Cincinnati so it was a much easier decision for me to register. I wish you luck in finding carpoolers. That's a great idea!

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Yoga is SO Much More than Exercise....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I am so aware of how the waxing and waning of the emotions affects every part of my life. For example -- if someone lets me down I become sad, then my energy flags, negativity can sneak in, I have less motivation for self-care, and the downward spiral continues, ad naseum.

The Bhagavad Gita (Easwaran's translation) speaks precisely to this dilemma and the importance of training the mind as the way out in Chapter 2:50:

"When consciousness is unified, all anxiety is left behind. There is no cause for worry, whether things go well or ill. Therefore, devote yourself to the disciplines of yoga, for yoga is skill in action."

My goal is to live life skillfully and in balance in spite of the rocky moments and difficult situations that come my way. That is the best way to care for myself on all levels -- body, mind, and spirit. Stevenson and Easwaran explain it beautifully:

Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.
-- Robert Louis Stevenson

When the mind gets agitated, we do not see life as it truly is, as one. It is the constant agitation going on in our mind that deludes us into believing that you and I are separate.

The question we may well ask is, "If we are to have neither pleasure nor pain in life, are we not likely to become insensitive to the joy of life?" This doubt arises from a wrong assumption, that there is only pleasure and pain and nothing else. Always cutting things up into two classes -- everything must be either this or that -- is one of the fatal weaknesses of the intellect. Because of this dualistic trap, we find it difficult to understand that the rare person who is able to receive good fortune without getting excited, and bad fortune without getting depressed, lives in abiding joy.
-- Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CONSTANCELG 7/14/2009 2:17PM

    I love yoga, but I have to say I love Qigong even more! meditation in movement.

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SUSANLUSAN 7/13/2009 6:16AM

    I especially liked that last one. Out with light switch on/off thinking. Be like a rheostat! No one said you couldn't enjoy the sadness or appreciate the pain.

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GENKI_WARRIOR 7/12/2009 5:07PM

    "yoga is skill in action" is living life; with fervor, and without reservation.

thanks for sharing! XD

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BILLALEX70 7/12/2009 4:57PM

    I've missed my last two yoga sessions due to vacation. I can tell you that I haven't slept as well and feel 'tight' everywhere. I'm just not dedicated enough to practicing at home.

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GBOOMER 7/12/2009 4:54PM

    Hey hey. Exercise is SO much more than exercise too!

On another note, strength training and cardio work has made my yoga better! Who woulda thunk it?


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KUZINKEITH 7/12/2009 2:50PM

    I've been enjoying your daily "status" reports. I'll check out the links you provided on yoga --- gracias mi amiga.
I've been feeling for some time now that I'm on the cusp of a new "jumping off point" ... change is in the wind. I don't know which way it will blow me, but I'm nearly ready for the adventure... or nearly ready to have the courage for the adventure.
BLAH BLAH BLAH ... I do go on....
I'm off for a hike in the trees.

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    I just love what you have shared here, Maha. I´m going to borrow a few phrases to add to my blog today because they describe what is in my head. You have been so encouraging in your acknowledgement of my struggle to stay even. Today I was confronted several times with the wind of imbalance. I am doing fine and keep refusing to let any of these things paralyze me, even told hubby that this morning. I don´t think he understands. I am insisting on breathing deeply of what I know to be truth and resting in doing what I know I must do to be well.

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VALERIEMAHA 7/12/2009 2:22PM

    My dear sangha brother Keith,

The ultimate and primary purpose of yoga is to unify the mind through meditation. If you're meditating, you're practicing yoga: Raja Yoga (the Royal Path of meditation)!


The first four limbs, the external practices, aid us in the the last four limbs, the inner work of meditation. And actually the fourth, pranayama, is said to be a bridge between the outer and inner work (body and mind).

More delineation of this classical practice is here, though be aware that the commentary offers a very traditional approach to ethics and one's "higher power" (scroll down to "The Eight Limbs, Ashtanga, of Raja Yoga"):
BR>FYI: Donna Farhi offers a much more dynamic commentary on Ashtanga Yoga:

You will notice that Asana (posture), the uber-popular yoga "exercise," is ONE of the first four limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.

You are an amazing teacher as well...bowing in gratitude for your acknowledgments and your own continual offerings of wisdom.

Your yoga sistah,

FYI -- the precepts I have been posting on my feed each day recently are the yamas and niyamas of Ashtanga Yoga. Today I'm working on tapas.

Comment edited on: 7/12/2009 3:56:57 PM

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KUZINKEITH 7/12/2009 1:47PM

    There is so much going on in each paragraph here Maha. Does your yoga help "unify your mind"? I've not tried yoga yet. What a wonderful experience it is when that happens for me during meditation - even though the moments are fleeting.

The Stevenson quote is grand in its simplicity ... it would be ideal to "take a licking and keep on ticking" so to speak.

I do tend to separate myself from many people (and events) instead of living as though we were all part of the whole. Avoiding black & white labels does not mean living in the gray zone ... it appears instead to let ALL the colors in.

Thanks for sharing your insights with us. You are a wonderful teacher.

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The Dirty Dozen Food Additives

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Important information! I'm just gonna' copy-and-paste. It's from the Organic Consumers Association newsletter (which I HIGHLY recommend) --

1. Sodium nitrite
2. BHA & BHT
3 . Propyl gallate
4. Monosodium glutamate
5 . Trans fats
6 . Aspartame
7. Acesulfame-K
8. Food colorings (Blue & , Red , Green , Yellow )
9. Olestra
10. Potassium bromate
11. White sugar
12. Sodium chloride

There are many reasons that some people choose to shop and eat a completely organic range of foods, but the primary reason seems to center around the additives in various non-organic food items. Those additives have been studied and linked to various diseases, and instead of taking the chance that unhealthy preservatives and flavorings might be integrated into grocery store items, people often opt for the strictly organic route so as to avoid them altogether.

But everyone cannot afford the prices of organic foods or the time it takes to shop at specialty markets for them. Thus, becoming informed about the additives in everyday food items can make for an easier shopping experience and healthier items being ingested by everyone. In addition, a mass boycott of foods that contain such additives could prompt food manufacturers to remove such harmful ingredients from their products in the future.

Thanks to MSN Health & Fitness contributor Jean Weiss, a list of the most medically questionable and harmful additives in everyday foods has been compiled to educate the masses. There are several that may be recognizable due to news reports and popular opinion, but others may be new to some and worthy of notation.

One of the most common additives in food is the preservative, which can come in different forms. Sodium nitrite is one of them, as it is added to not only preserve food but to add color and flavor to meat products, most commonly bacon, ham, hot dogs, sandwich meats, and smoked fish. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydrozyttoluene) are other preservatives added to foods like cereal, gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils to prevent them from oxidizing. And propyl gallate has similar de-oxidizing values and is found in meats, chicken soup base, and gum. All of these preservatives have been found to cause cancer through certain types of food preparation, such as cooking meat at high temperatures. Though the studies are not conclusive and mostly conducted on animals, all of them contain reactive compounds that can be harmful.

As far as flavoring, monosodium glutamate (MSG) used to be a very common amino acid used in restaurant foods, soups, and salad dressings, though most food preparers and manufacturers have removed it from their list of ingredients. Beware of canned and frozen foods that still may attempt to use it, as MSG can cause migraines and other adverse effects. Trans fats are also being eliminated from most foods, as the studies linking them to heart disease, strokes, and kidney problems are widely-accepted.

Sweeteners are another item to avoid when possible. Aspartame is found in products like Nutrasweet and Equal as well as diet foods and soft drinks. And acesulfame-K is a newer sweetener used in soft drinks and some baked goods. These products, only preliminarily linked to cancer, have the same negative nutritional value as white sugar, all of which should be minimized in any diet.

Many food colorings have been banned by the FDA but some can still be found in foods that require a particular color. And Olestra is a product also discouraged by health food organizations that is rarely used anymore, though was common for a time in potato chips as an additive that prevented fat from being absorbed in the digestive system. Each of these items should be avoided at all costs, as the food colorings have been tied to cancer and Olestra simply blocks vitamins from being processed through the body and blocks the digestive process from functioning normally.

Potassium bromate is sometimes added to white flour, breads, and rolls to increase the volume of the products, but there are cancer-causing properties that have prompted some states in America to actually require a label to that effect.

Finally, sodium chloride is also known as salt, and though it is a common additive in many—if not most—foods, it can be dangerous if not kept to a minimum. Large doses can lead to heart and blood pressure problems, as well as strokes and kidney failure.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KUZINKEITH 7/16/2009 10:35AM

    I think I got sick just READING the blog. While I watch for most of these things, it seems nearly impossible to avoid them completely --- UNLESS I'm ready to stop buying processed food altogether. That may need to be the next step.
THANKS for making it in a nice & tidy list.

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FLOWINGWATER 7/16/2009 10:08AM

    Thanks Maha!

We've cut most additives out of our lives, but this article had some additional information on WHY they're bad for you that I appreciate.

I'm still dismayed that the Federal Government allows additives that are KNOWN to cause cancer.'s all about the almighty dollar. When are people going to get their priorities straight?

I used to get migraines all the time. Since I cut additives out of my life, I rarely get headaches now. MSG is one of my big migraine triggers, but I'm sure other additives are culprits too.

Now, I've cleansed my palate so much that I can TASTE the chemicals in food - even white sugar tastes "chemically" to me. What do they use to make it white anyways? Bleach? It sure tastes nasty anyways...

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SLAYINGDRAGONS 7/10/2009 10:04AM

    Great info! I appreciate reading all this in this condensed article. I have been intently reading labels for some time now and am always amazed at the way things are hidden from us. Sugar is also sucrose and saccharose. Splenda is also sucralose and is being manufactured under numerous brandnames. It is usually mixed with dextrose or maltodextrin which are from corn, which also sneaks into many foods, including ones using saccharine. Then there are the sugar alcohols, sweeteners that end in -tol, mannitol, sorbitol,

I just read the following in Wikipedia under D-Mannitol and wonder if this is why I had Posterior Vitreous Detachment last year (for some years, I had unsuspectingly used a sweetener containing sorbitol and other diet foods containing other -tol sweetners).

"Mannitol is also the first drug of choice for the treatment of acute glaucoma in veterinary medicine. It is administered as a 20% solution IV. It dehydrates the vitreous humor and thus lower the intraocular pressure."

And about sorbitol - "Even in the absence of dietary sorbitol, cells produce sorbitol naturally. Too much sorbitol production can cause damage. Diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy may be related to excess sorbitol in the cells of the eyes and nerves. The source of this sorbitol in diabetics is excess glucose, which goes through the sorbitol-aldose reductase pathway.

"In some human enzymes deficiencies such as galactosemia, sorbitol excess arises and can cause damage to the body. In diabetes mellitus, enzyme deficiency in the lens of the eye may cause sorbitol accumulation and cataracts."

This is just crazy! We are too trusting, aren´t we?!

Comment edited on: 7/10/2009 10:22:33 AM

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PEACEFULONE 7/10/2009 12:59AM

    Thank you for this excellent post.

I would add a piece of advice from the book "In Defense of Food"...if your Grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food...don't eat it.

Some more things to avoid:
high fructose corn syrup-keeps you from feeling full
cottonseed oil-it's the crop with the most pesticide used per acre
genetically modified foods
milk produced with growth hormones

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LADYIRIS313 7/9/2009 7:22PM

    Thank you for posting this. I've printed a copy to carry in my bag when I shop. Some of it I knew, but the Potassium bromate information was news to me.

I really wonder about how our health is going to suffer from all these compounds. I think my generation must be one of the first to be raised eating so many additives, and our children were born into it fully. Between what is in our food, in our cleaning solutions, our general environment, our water ... it is just overwhelming. I have to wonder if we aren't altering our very DNA with what we are subject to.

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LOLAGEEK 7/9/2009 5:12PM

    I have to admit I almost spit water up when I saw olestra on the list. I can't believe that stuff is still around. LOL.

Two books I read and reviewed on SP this year that are simply written with basic info related to additives are Food Matters by Mark Bittman (on how to eat simply) and Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels (yes, The Biggest Loser with some you-can-do-it rhetoric as well as basic info on how this stuff screws with your metabolism).

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Caretake This Moment

Monday, July 06, 2009

It's scary (big surprise) how quickly the structure of careful eating and enthusiastic exercise can become history...from one day to the next. I woke up this morning, discouraged by my weekend *performance* and feeling like continuing with the down hill slide.

And then I began reading this morning's poetry offering, written by an ancient Greek philosopher. And I read it a second time, startled at how deeply it resonated with me. And I looked within and realized that I have been given a new day, ready to be choreographed as I choose. So, I am going to stop giving myself needless trouble, I am going to give my best to fully inhabit the situation I am in now. I am "not some disinterested bystander" -- this is my life!


Caretake this moment.
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.

Quit the evasions.
Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
You are not some disinterested bystander.
Exert yourself.

Respect your partnership with providence.
Ask yourself often, How may I perform this particular deed
such that it would be consistent with and acceptable to the divine will?
Heed the answer and get to work.

When your doors are shut and your room is dark you are not alone.
The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.
Listen to its importunings.
Follow its directives.

As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.
No great thing is created suddenly.
There must be time.

Give your best and always be kind.

-- Epictetus
(ca. 55-ca. 135), Greek Stoic philosopher
(Epictetus: The Art of Living, a New Interpretation by Sharon Lebell.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BABYFACE26 7/9/2009 12:58PM

    Perfect wisdom. And I too, woke up after the july 4 week-end, wanting to just wallow in guilt, for the wrong foods I ate on Saturday, and giving myself a hard time. Also, I experienced the same emotions of surprise, at how I can be so dedicated to the plan, and motivated one day, and then the next, its gone! Great poem, thanks for sharing this. How often I treat my Life as if I am some "disinterested bystander." So profound.


Comment edited on: 7/9/2009 12:59:39 PM

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LOLAGEEK 7/6/2009 10:26AM

    Timely and perfect. I love the Stoics and their ideas of accountability.

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    How wonderful that this arrived at just the time YOU needed to gain perspective and focus on taking care of yourself! I am pleased to hear that you listened and are moving to make the change!

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CAROLYN4033 7/6/2009 9:12AM

    "I realized I had been given a new day"---I can't tell you how many times that has helped me...A new day, A new beginning....also, one of the most important things I learned in my recovery was that I was able to start my day over again at any time.....What a RELIEF! emoticonPeace, Carolyn

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KUZINKEITH 7/6/2009 8:50AM

    That is stirring ... "stop giving yourself needless trouble" Ouch, that hit home! So did "Respect your partnership with providence". There is an implied partnership with everything I do ... am I holding up my end?

I will follow the advice at the end of the poem today
"Give your best and always be kind. "

THANKS MAHA for sharing your discovery this morning.

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Breakdown in the Way Things Have Always Been Done

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The world is going totally bonkers and I'm ready for some *serious levity.* Who better to deliver it than Rob Brezsny --

All hail the Tricky Goddess of Benevolent Mischief, also known as the Cosmic Instigator of Healing Trouble. Let us praise and ratify her ingenious plan to turn the status quo upside-down.

The vivid exposure of greed, corruption, and delusion among the top echelons of the American political and financial hierarchy is a blessing on all of humanity.

The eruption of fertile chaos is making it difficult to carry on with business as usual, and we could not have received a more energizing gift.

A prayer:

Oh Wise Trickster Goddess, You Compassionate Conjurer of Relentless Change, You Righteous Rascal in Charge of Keeping a Steady Flow of Sacred Uproar Pouring into Our Lives:

Please continue to influence the masters of plutocracy and war and their media minions to be ever-more obvious as they spin out their perversions of your glorious creation, so that more and more of our sleeping tribe will wake up to the Open Secret.

Inspire the enforcers of mass hallucination to display their hypocrisy in an ever-escalating melodrama of spittle flecks and sour faces, as in a slapstick morality play from the Middle Ages, so that we, their captive audience, may convulse with purgative guffaws that shatter the mass hallucination.

And if you don't mind, Sweet Divine Rebel Goddess, please allow us to nurture a spark of hope that the breakdown in the Way Things Have Always Been Done will lead to fresh, hot, tidal-wave breakthroughs of beauty, truth, justice, equality and love everywhere we turn.
emoticon emoticon emoticon
-- Rob Brezsny (from his book Pronoia, the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FLOWINGWATER 7/1/2009 9:46AM

    Sacred Uproar. I like that! It puts change in the proper perspective. Thanks for the perspective-shifting blog, Maha! Very good, very, very good!

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BABYFACE26 7/1/2009 1:22AM

    Wow. Now that's Poetry. ..guess I'm not the only one noticing this! I am not familiar with the author, however...?

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CARLI_MAE 6/30/2009 11:54PM

    Ditto evwyting dat KuznKeit sayd ... was just following him thru my feed and got curious about this blog. Love it!

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KUZINKEITH 6/30/2009 11:07PM

    TANK YOU VEWY VEWY MUCH. I wove de pawt about de wighteous wascal in Chawge of Keeping a Steady Fwow of Sacwed Upwoa Pouwing into Ouwa wives ... a-a-a--a--aah.

And I wove to wead it awt wowed.


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SUSANLUSAN 6/30/2009 10:12PM

    Purgative gaffaws, eh? Sounds like loads of fun -- count me in! I'm a purdy good gaffawer -- all modesty still intact hopefully, lol.

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