Competition eating at its best!

Since veggies is in our blog name, I figured I better start writing about them! I believe there is nothing more important than vegetables and everyone should be eating 3 big whopping helpings a day (this is a big HINT as to my challenge to you below).

I prepare veggies a lot of different ways: steam, bake, saute, raw. I personally think lightly steaming or raw has absolutely the best nutritional value when eating veggies but since that can get boring, I try to steam once a day, usually eat raw veggies at lunch (like a highly nutritional salad) and get more creative for dinner. My latest obsession is brussels sprouts!!

First I have to preface this to say that I really disliked brussels sprouts as a child and didn’t start embracing them until about 5 years ago. Now the way I prepare them, I can eat them cold, warm and raw! In fact, Amélie and I compete over eating them. I realize I am shoveling them in my mouth (not the best way to eat) because I am afraid she will eat them all. She will say, “But Mom you got a whole one and I only got a half!” I stopped sharing a plate with her because I was feeling threatened!! So now we divvy them up and then we jokingly argue about how many she got on her plate vs me.

So here is a simple but easy way to prepare them:

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  • Cut the ends off brussels sprouts (1lb), and then cut them in 1/2. Put in bowl.
  • Cover them in extra virgin olive oil…not too much, not too little.
  • Juice of a 1/4 of a lemon or more if you like that lemony flavor.
  • Add 2 chopped shallots, 5-6 garlic cloves cut in 1/4′s (so kind of large garlic chunks), sea salt and pepper (you can also add red pepper flakes if you like a little kick).
  • Stir all ingredients up in bowl then spread out in large baking pan.
  • Cook 45 min to 1 hour until they start to slightly brown.
  • Voila! Super simple and easy and delicious!

I will be posting a raw shaved brussels sprouts recipe that I had last month when I was in NY that is to die for. I even called the restaurant for the recipe!

I have a challenge and a question…
Do yourself a favor and up your veggie intake. I could (and probably will) write a whole piece on just how important veggies are (above all else) but try and add veggies to every meal. If you skip your vegetables for one meal, eat extra at your next meal. Lance never ate veggies as a child and in fact many people across the country consider french fries as a vegetable!

Lastly, I would love to hear what your favorite vegetables are and how you prepare them. I always love new ideas!

Love, Laughter and Veggies!
Nancy

Beautiful Boy

I’m in Brazil. My flight connected through Atlanta and I picked up a 17-year-old boy at the airport. I met him the last time I was in Brazil. He was here with his family. This time his parents entrusted me with his safety. Little do they know that his presence in my life is a much bigger gift for me than my semi-parental/big brother role here in Brazil.

This journey of mine since January has given me so many gifts and sitting in the Atlanta airport with a young man who as been battling what I got in January since he was 9 is an indescribable experience. Not only is this one of the few people in the world who knows truly how I feel, but he’s 17 and its as if he’s my wise old teacher. He’s brilliant, taking 5 Advance Placement Honors classes usually held for Seniors as a Junior in High School. He quotes intricate texts from the bible in simple ways, applying biblical lessons to my daily life. There is so much unsaid between us that doesn’t need to be said. It’s like we’re Vietnam soldiers sitting around a fire but one of us is a rookie and the other is a 4-tour lifer. I’m the friggin rookie. Hardly anyone outside his family and docs knows about his condition. It doesn’t define him, he doesn’t let it limit his potential in any way and he does it all with a great big smile.

So here is this beautiful boy who I know would have been beautiful anyway but I cant help to think that the tragic ailment we share has deepened him beyond all measure. I find myself looking up to him daily. The stuff that comes out of this kid’s mouth (and heart) is as extemporaneous as it is profound. Every once in a while he’ll call me “dude” and it’s almost weird. My wise old Zen Master isn’t supposed to call me “dude.” Oh, wait, you’re 17!

We were eating dinner and he starts telling me about Zacharias in the Old Testament who denounced Archangel Gabriel for saying his wife was pregnant. Zacharias was immediately unable to speak until 9 months later when the baby was born (John the Baptist). Teach him to argue with an angel! Then I try to pull out some smart remark about Saul going blind on the Road the Damascus, then he starts going into a very interesting story about The Road to Emmaus and I am engrossed and in awe at the same time. Am I really having these conversations about life and love and faith with a person young enough to be my child?

A small window into the life that I have now that you may find boring but for me everyday is like an adventure. I was so touched by Nan’s last post I was hoping to share with you more of the same from the other end of the world. These two young people have one big thing in common: Faith. They have faith in everything. Themselves. Their friends and family. And most of all a Higher Power that gives them the security to live every day to the fullest. They trust in this faith completely. And it’s not a blind faith or a fundamental faith, things I used to be so judgmental of. Its a faith full of love and forgiveness and smiles. Big smiles.

Nan and I have started to soak a little bit of this in and sometimes we lay in bed together and pray side by side in silence, I’m not sure to whom, and count our blessings. And you have no idea how weird it is to watch my fingers type those words. If you would have told me a year ago I would say something like that, I would have laughed. Little did I know, Nan was doing it silently for years and never told me.
Love from Abadiania,
Lance

Beautiful girl

I met a beautiful girl last week. She is 24. I was afraid to meet her. But I wanted to help her however I could. The days leading up to meeting her I felt nervous. Why, you are asking? Because she was diagnosed with the same thing as Lance two months ago. She is in the middle of chemo and radiation and I was afraid of the emotions it was going to bring up. Memories I want to put in the past, rather than relive. You see, I like the fact that the people I am in touch with are anywhere from 5 to 20 years out. That comforts me. But to be in the presence of someone who is just a few months behind us scares me. However, it was she who ended up helping me.

How we got connected to this girl is how the universe works. It was no mistake. It was meant to be. I wanted to share whatever knowledge I could give her.  We are ahead of her in this game. I researched like crazy. I have the food thing down. I wanted to suggest some alternative things. I have all the latest research. I wanted to help this girl who I just assumed was alone. I knew her family lived in another state. However, when I opened the door and saw this beautiful girl, petite little being, with the most amazing eyes, I immediately felt at peace. I can’t explain it but all the emotions and nerves I had been feeling up to meeting her melted away.

So what was it? I know you must be wondering. She had the most inner calm. She was at total peace. How you must be wondering? Faith. She has strong faith that all this is meant to be. All I could think was, “I want to feel like you do.” She was like some angel that had come to my door. Instead of me imparting my wisdom, I suddenly wanted to interview her Barbara Wa Wa style (as Lance has often named me) and figure out how she has come to this peaceful place so quickly. I mean, I think Lance and I have worked hard to find that peace and we have obtained that feeling at times for sure but I still struggle intellectually sometimes about what faith means. So I wanted to know. She didn’t give me a straight answer because it isn’t something you can intellectualize. It’s just a feeling. She just said, “It’s in me. I know I will be okay whatever happens. The Holy Spirit is in me.” OMG. She was the messenger.

Before all this, the subject of religion made me uncomfortable. However, when something like this happens to you, you need something greater than yourself to believe in. In the beginning of our journey, I started asking every person I knew if they believed in God. I was amazed at the answers I got and who believed. It seemed like unanimously everyone had some sort of belief in God and rarely (or never actually) was it some man with a hairy face up in the sky. To some it was “God is in nature”, something bigger than themselves, to many it was something inside themselves. This was hard for me to grasp because of my experience with Sunday school when I was a child and how I was taught that God is separate from you (man up in the sky kind of guy). Thus the difference between spirituality and religion. So I continued to intellectualize all of this instead of just feel it.

Again as the universe makes no mistake, I hired a guitar teacher (yes, I am learning guitar! :)). The first day my teacher showed up at my house, my immediate impression was all wrong (without saying exactly what I thought), he is covered in tattoos, his license suspended from a DUI, has 3 kids and he’s young. Do you hear JUDGEMENT screaming from every pore of my body? I am ashamed the way I sized him up. But my impression changed quickly as soon as I started talking to him. Turns out he is this incredible musician, a very involved Dad and yes, also someone with a strong faith. I learned about that when I noticed his huge Jesus tattoo on his arm. Now Jesus is someone I can relate to. He was one cool dude and you can’t deny he was kinda hot. Barbara Wa Wa immediately surfaced and I had to inquire about it. Now every time we have a lesson, I have a ton of questions to ask him. And slowly I am learning what it all means. Getting my own interpretation of how to find that inner peace.

My big take away from all this and the message I want to convey is that whatever it is you do or do not believe, find something that is bigger than yourself NOW to fulfill yourself and give you peace. Maybe it’s meditation, maybe its the Universe, Buddha, Shiva, God, Allah, Jesus, maybe it’s nature or being at the top of a mountain or swimming in the middle of the ocean. If you work on it NOW and figure it out NOW you won’t have to do the crash course us Gentry’s had to do in case something life altering ever happens to you (and i sincerely hope it doesn’t). But even as we age, and life takes on challenges that are different from our youth, it will carry you through anything you may face in your life. Take it from the 24 year old. Who wouldn’t want to face such challenges with such an inner calm?

Love and Laughter,
Nancy

 

Tip of the week #1…Inflammation

Inflammation is the source of so many diseases from cancer to heart disease to arthritis and a TON of diseases in between. There are 2 things you can all do on a daily basis, to help control inflammation in your body NOW! And they are so easy!!

1) Cinnamon! Cinnamon actually has a lot of health benefits but so as not to overwhelm you, decreasing inflammation is a big one! Put it on your toast with your Justin’s Nut Butter (sorry I can’t help myself) or add it to your granola, oatmeal or yogurt. So easy!

2) Turmeric! Since the flavor is mild, I add it to everything!  I am a little nuts with turmeric. I add it to all my soups, I sprinkle it or grate it on my salads, I juice it, and use it in my grains and some lentils. You can find it in the spice section or as an actual root (see pic).

This is what the root looks like…it does stain as you can see from my chopping board…

Laughter is the best medicine

I LOVE TO LAUGH. Who doesn’t? I would go so far as to say, there are few things in life that I love as much as a huge belly laugh, tears streaming down my contorted face, sides aching, almost peeing in my pants kind of laugh. I love that feeling and yet, I asked around and almost unanimously, it’s rare! RARE! More specifically, laughing with your partner, your spouse, your significant other. So what’s the problem people? Why aren’t we all laughing more?? Why is life have to be taken so seriously? I know what you are thinking “THAT’S A BIG STATEMENT coming from you.” But even in our darkest moments, we have found humor to set us free. And truly, Lance and I laugh more now than we ever did. I love love love that feeling having a big laugh with Lance…it’s like some kind of high. Except he didn’t think it was so funny the other day when I told him his salad looked like it came from Denny’s :-(

I have always been someone who loves to laugh..often during inappropriate times (in yoga, in meditation, in places where you are supposed to be quiet…I think several of my witnesses will remember some of those uncomfortable situations). And I have always had big laughs with my friends. But I notice within myself and with my friends, we get more serious when we are with our partner. Talking about “responsibilities” (children, money, work, etc). Why not just take the night off, and just be with each other and with the kids (if you have them) and just laugh. Play games…charades makes everyone laugh in my family or watch a funny movie, or just be goofy. Sometimes I do this really weird fake laugh and I look like such a freak, but inevitable I can make my whole family laugh. Even just making a goofy face can make you laugh and you know what?….it feels good. It feels so good I ask myself, I ask all of you “why not just laugh a little more and frown a little less?”

Earlier this summer, I told Lance we needed to laugh MORE! That it was a key ingredient to his healing. So, we actually did seek out things that would add more humor to our lives. Here are a few things that we have actually brought more laughter in our lives.

  • For the first time EVER in our entire relationship, Lance and I occasionally watch a TV show…called Modern Family. I think anyone who watches it feels like they know at least one of those characters in real life. For us it’s the hilariously funny gay guy Cam.
  • Our friend Amos. He came to visit from Vegas where he does an opening act at the Wynn Hotel as a clown…not a creepy clown but a clown in a tux. Amos, come back. You had us all in hysterics for 4 days.
  • Some unmentionable things I just realized but they were funny!
  • Seeing Lance sitting on the couch bald, wearing his galabeya as if this was the most normal of attire was definitely my biggest laugh of 2011.

I called Lance the other night (I was out) and when he answered the phone his voice sounded weird (had he been crying was my first thought?). NOOO! He said ‘I’m watching Louis CK …and I almost peed in my pants.” Music to my ears…

There are some people I know that have a pretty sh**ty diet but I swear they laugh more than anyone I know and I swear they will live to be 100 and still be laughing. I believe in laughing so much that I think it’s not only something that prevents but heals. Science shows that laughter among other things, has the following effects:

  • boosts the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins (the body’s natural feel good chemicals & the body’s natural pain killers)
  • relaxes the whole body (for up to 45 min)
  • protects the heart  (it improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems).
  • stimulates the heart and lungs
  • improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

 So start laughing people.

Lance and I have realized that sometimes it’s more important to laugh than mediate. On that note, I would challenge all of you, to just notice, situations where you might typically be serious, and instead you could be silly. Is that so hard? I bet it’s a lot easier than juicing!

We would love to know what makes you laugh. Humor us with your humor.

Love and Laughter,
Nancy

PS: I am actually trying to relieve my dear friend Mary who has sent out every single update in disguise of myself or Lance. So if you want to get notification when we post, please subscribe at the top right. Thank you so much for reading.

Warriorship

I was hiking down Enchanted Mesa in the snow over the weekend thinking about being a warrior.

When I started this journey I was the “Mohawk Warrior.” Ready to overcome any obstacle in the way of my goal (staying alive). During that time my buddy, Micheal, surprised me at work with a present. A poster of Johnny Cash flipping off the camera with his guitar slung on his back. That was exactly how I felt and it hung over my desk for months. The first thing you saw when you walked in mine and Justin’s office was that poster and I loved it.

A few weeks ago I took it down. It didn’t feel right anymore. I’d gone to Bodhi School around that time with my kids (Buddhist Sunday school kind of thing put on by Shambala here in Boulder) and the teacher, Rachel, was talking to the class of about 50 children and she asked, “When you think of a warrior what comes to mind?” Kids raised their hands and said things like, “Ninja” “Brave” “Sword” “Gun” “Not Afraid.” Rachel then said, “A Shambala Warrior is a little bit different. A Shambala Warrior is not afraid of one of the scariest things. Does anyone know what it is? (Lots of little heads shaking.) A Shambala Warrior is not afraid to open their hearts to everyone and everything in the world. Sounds kinda scary doesn’t it? (Lots of nodding.) She said, “To just open your heart and let your heart be seen to everyone. Shambala Warriors live from their hearts.”

This was an unknown kind of warrior for me. But, thank God I decided to go to Bodhi School with Nan and the kids. It was as if Rachel was talking directly to my soul. I had recently opened my heart to the one thing I wanted eradicated from my body and spirit. I had realized this thing in my head has become a certain kind of friend, a very difficult one, but one that has taught me more lessons than anyone or anything in my life, and I was grateful to it for 2 big things: vulnerability and my ability to forgive.

My biggest healing and learning experience in this past year has been in a place of vulnerability. Something I hadn’t experience since being very young. To be vulnerable and surrounded by love on all sides from your spouse and parents, relatives and friends (all of you) is the most fulfilling place I’ve been on this journey. I would think that being a Shambala Warrior with your heart open all the time (I think it sounds scary just doing it for a few minutes!) must be a very vulnerable and healing place.

I also saw a bumper sticker at Home Depot yesterday that said “Love Your Enemies.” Something I’ve been working at lately but hadn’t put it to words. Now suddenly I had a reality check, because you can’t have your heart open to someone and not forgive them for past transgressions. I lay next to Nan every night going to sleep listening to guided visualizations while she reads. One of them says, “I know when I can forgive myself and others for errors of the past, I allow my body to heal.”
So Shambala Warrior here I come. Open, vulnerable, forgiving and perfectly healthy. I bet you can do it too. Don’t wait for some crazy thing to happen like I did.
Nancy still rocks as do all of you.
Still eternally grateful, Lance