Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eating Every Day... Live Long and Prosper?

Vegetarian 5-Ingredient GourmetTime to prepare food is rare, and I know that what I eat will directly effect how long I live and how well I live.  But why are vegetables so expensive?  And why does cooking take so much TIME?  AHA!  Have I got a treat for you! 

My aunt, who was almost a nun before she met my uncle, was a vegetarian for years.  After my bemoaning the difficulty of making healthy dishes that were both tasty and quick, she took the time to mail me The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet by Nava Atlas (to right).  Let me tell you something, I was skeptical... and then I tried a recipe.

The title is no joke, you only need to get 5 ingredients and most of the recipes are under 30 minutes prep and cook time.  If you have high cholesterol, or are just interested in maintaining low fat intake, each recipe is coupled with calorie counts and fat grams.  Plus, there are vegan options.  Brilliant!

My favorite TOFU AND SWEET POTATO CURRY (this is savory, not hot):
You'll need:
  2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes
  1 pound firm tofu, well drained and dried
  one 14 to 16 ounce can low-sodium stewed tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
  1 to 2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder, or to taste
  4 ounces arugula or baby spinach, well rinsed

1.  Bake or microwave the sweet potatoes in their skins until done but still firm.  When cool enough to handle, peel, and cut into large dice.
2. Combine the tofu, tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon of the curry powder in a stir-fry pan or wide skillet.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
3.  Add the diced sweet potato and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
4.  Add the arugula, cover, and cook very briefly, just until it wilts slightly.  Taste and season with more curry if desired.  Season with salt and serve.

Calories: 159, Total fat: 4g, Protein: 8g, Carbohydrate: 22g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 21mg

Bon Appetit!

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, In A Five-Ring BinderClear Solutions Jumbo Cookbook Holder

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spritiual Practice... Really?

Mr. Funny Bunny Easter Gift Tower of Chocolate and Candy Treats
Easter is Sunday and I am reminded of the millions of people who are commonly known as "C & E-ers."  These are the people who go to church on Christmas and Easter.  Right now, I am one of them.  Please note, I'm not about to make you feel guilty for ANYTHING - that's not how I roll.  The point here is that most psychologists agree that a spiritual practice, regardless of the belief system, is good to maintain happiness.

So what would this mean to you?  Every person needs to be included in a community.  This is how we are wired to live and succeed.  Ideally, our spiritual community will offer guidance, support, and encouragement during rough times and during exciting times.  Some people find this type of support in casts of shows, at work, or in other types of groups, but church (of any kind) can offer a specific nurturing of the soul that is not common to these other relationships.

Currently, I am on a quest to find a spiritual community.  I have had many struggles with organized religion, I grew up Evangelical, and have been a Buddhist for many years.  I believe in God and the many forms and views of this holy entity, not a belief common in the Christian community.  I think faith should inspire, forgive, offer hope, and encourage a person to strive to be better.  Until I find a spiritual community that offers this, I will keep looking.

If you have found your own spiritual practice and community, celebrate them!  You are among souls who will help you along your path.  If you are still searching or practicing mindfulness or something else instead of religion or faith, kudos.  There are so many ways to practice spirituality, embrace YOUR way and commit to it.

The wonder of life is all around us.  Currently, that is my church.  Happy Easter!

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin
The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness (Shambhala Library)
Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of GodHow to Practice : The Way to a Meaningful LifeThe Miracle of MindfulnessLiving Buddha, Living ChristTaking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and FearsLetters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Fire Can Light You Up - and Cool You Down

When you were a kid, did you go camping?  I did.  Not only was I a girl scout for 9 years, my grandfather built a cottage in the north woods of Wisconsin where my family spent our summers.  My folks were teachers so we had the summers to leave the bustling suburb of Chicago to migrate north.

I really learned to love fires while camping.  As a Girl Scout, we would go to White Pines Dude Ranch.  At night we would recount stories around the fire: the ghost of Sarah, (warble the next bit:) the girl who was killed by a horse-drawn carriage on the bridge.  If you spoke her name, you would see her - and something bad might happen to YOU!  Mwuh-huh-hah!

The crackle of the wood, the heat on my face, and the tending of the flame all bring back visceral memories of laughter, love, and a time when I had few responsibilities.  Being an adult is not all it's cracked up to be.  There are days I long for someone else to pay my bills, clean my house, feed me, and do my laundry. 

History can be remembered in kindling a fire: that kindles peace and soothes my soul. 

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin
The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (Oxford Books of Prose & Verse)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Great Books Inspire Hope

The AlchemistWhen I was leaving for college, the first time I ever moved away from home, a dear friend gifted me with THE ALCHEMIST (shown right).  When I read the back cover, I thought it might be hokey fable in simple language that would be a quick read and I could thank her for it later.  Instead, I was enthralled in a simple story about a boy on a journey, similar to mine, trying to discover who he is and what is important to him.  The book mirrored some of my thoughts which touched me deeply.  

Any dreamer who is on a path would love to read this book.  This is a great gift for the graduating student (of any age)!

Eleven Minutes: A Novel 
(P.S.)Veronika Decides to Die: A 
Novel of Redemption (P.S.)Some other great reads of Paulo Coelho include VERONICA DECIDES TO DIE - don't let the name fool you! 

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin


Saturday, March 27, 2010

To Vent or NOT to Vent, That is the Question

Do you ever find yourself sharing everything on your mind, when you know some thoughts might better be saved for your journal? I'm not saying you should bottle up frustration until you blow up at someone, I'm saying there are healthy and easy ways to get out your thoughts that do not require another person being your continual sounding - or more accurately battering - board.

The operative word in the last sentence is "continual." Of course you're going to need to share your thoughts and ideas from your day with your friend or honey! If you find you continually bitch rather than share, you may want to shift your focus.

Bitching is examining an experience with severe judgment that is not usually healthy. Excessive bitching can lead to a shift of focus in your daily life to the negative experiences thereby relegating the positive experiences. Note: Bitching is fine if it's not your habit.

Ways to vent that will give voice to your frustrations include:
  • journaling
  • writing a letter to the person (if it's about another person) and never sending it to them
  • dancing
  • singing
  • putting the imaginary person into a chair and speaking to that person as if they were there
So next time you're thinking of extolling the idiocy of the thing that is driving you crazy, stop and think: is this how I want to be spending my energy?

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Friday, March 26, 2010

When the Cat is Away, the Mouse Will Play

So my husband is out of town this weekend and I have plenty of solitude to cuddle my cat, read my Ph.D. books, and clean. While I was pondering all of the wild things I could do while he was away, I realized I just love down time to cultivate stillness or mindful activity. Okay, this is not a knew realization for me.

Creating order in my space and home helps me be clear and unfettered in my life. Having time to tend to the house without the distraction of cuddling up to my husband, is rare and reflective for me. I love the feeling a clean house gives me - AFTER it's done. The doing can be therapeutic, but not always something I hunger for. Plus, according to Psychology Today, a clean space (often) reflects an orderly mind.

Well, kids, I miss my husband. As it happens, you get to hear about it.

Okay, so I really should have titled this "Distance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder", but would it have been as enticing?

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where's Your Happy Place?

As I get older, I surround myself with things that inspire me. That takes effort, believe me. These elements include people, books, things, plants, -- whatever makes my heart sing. So I started to think about a common thread through these inspirations.

I have a little place inside me that vibrates - sometimes even quivers - when something makes me happy. That happy place is my guide inside my life. If I'm not sure about something, I check in with my happy place.

Ironically, as my husband will attest, there are times when the ferocity of my happy place makes my shy away from the very thing that I'm sure would make me happy. After all, that could mean I would be unhappy after having known such glee, right? Please. There's so much fear stopping us from being happy it's ridiculous! (I'm pointing a finger at myself right now.)

My suggestion? If you don't already know your happy place intimately, spend some time reflecting on the times in your life when you almost came out of your skin because something GREAT happened to you. Then think about the elements that event has for you. If you can pick your top five and commonalities, you're going to find out things about yourself that might surprise you. Happy hunting!

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Healthy Competition

Do you often see friends at auditions? Yesterday, I was auditioning for a hilarious spot that required a talented Shakespearean actress. Of course I'm going to see some friends there!!! After all, how many of us play Shakespeare in Los Angeles?

This started me thinking about healthy competition. I've never been one who feels that I need to knock off all of my competition to get ahead. That competition helps me refine my craft. These people are often my friends who I will work with again, enjoy, and admire.

So many artists are great. Each artist embodies special talents or traits (ideally enhanced by training). Each gig is going to require something special; the casting director is hired to match actors' unique gifts to the roles. Since I can't begin to guess what they think they're looking for, I simply do my best.

After the audition, I give myself the walk from the casting director's office to my car to beat myself up about what I might have done differently - and then I let it go. If I just can't seem to let it go for whatever reason, I do some sort of ritual to let it go like have a fire in my fire pit and write the word "anxiety" on a paper and burn it. Or take a shower and imagine the water is washing away the event. Okay, I like dramatic gestures.

Auditioning is part of the business. If I mulled over every audition for days, I'd soon loose my mind. If you find yourself doing that, try to audition more so you don't attach so much weight to each audition. Let the inevitable competition inspire you to rise to the occasion.

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Does Clutter Slow You Down?

Many people have the challenge of living in intimate (cough) spaces in Los Angeles, and clutter can be a problem. You may not be in need of Clutters Anonymous, but you may need some help organizing.

Tips to organize:
  1. Do you need all the things that are in your space?
  2. Do you have priorities to the things you have out? (Things you need more often than others... like the phone.)
  3. Are you keeping something out because of nostalgia or because you need it? Nostalgia is great, store it and save it for your next bigger space.
  4. Storage doesn't have to be bulky, ugly, or expensive. You have to be creative and find places in your place to store things. For example, you might consider a trunk or several storage bins to create a "coffee table" in your living room. Been to a consignment shop or estate sale for storage solutions? You might find a great gem - ONE, NOT 10.
  5. Are you keeping things you haven't used in over a year? This includes clothes. Give them away - someone will need them.
  6. Do you have a favorite space in your space? If you don't it's past time to make one. What elements do you need to love your space?
According to , clutter only takes four boxes:


Give Away/Sell


Put away

If you aren't sure if you want to part with it, invite a good friend over and do your best! Getting your space to be your haven is paramount to enjoying your life.

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Monday, March 22, 2010

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Eleanor Roosevelt spoke to the heart of every dreamer with her quote above. How often are we encouraged to intermingle practicality with our dreams?

Can an actor really be a great actor if she is wondering how she's going to pay for her next meal? Sadly, artists of most genres are not valued in our culture. As evidenced by the National Endowment for the Arts becoming more of a figurehead than a grant-giving institution as well as our schools cutting arts programs. *sigh* These schools are creating tomorrow's leaders.

I firmly believe that giving people, young and old, the power to creatively express helps people find a voice to articulate their experiences -- which increases happiness because we feel heard. We often don't have words to communicate the state of mind we're in, so we say things like "blah." If big feelings don't have words, creative expression allows that feeling to be recognized and diffused just by sitting with the feeling for a while.

If you're having big feelings that seem all bottled up, get a cheap paint brush and some water and find the nearest concrete, then water-paint. I used to do this as a child and never knew it is also used for expression therapy. If you want to one-up that, go get some inexpensive water colors and some paper and see what you come up with.

Your dream and future may require a sprinkle of practicality, do it with fervor!

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mary Oliver is an Inspiration to Me

Mary Oliver has a gift with words. This Pulitzer Prize winner and her dog are captured in a quiet moment to the right.

Following is a great poem of Ms. Oliver's:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wild Geese (Bloodaxe World Poets)~Mary Oliver

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin