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Items filtered by date: March 2017
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:44

Which Is Better: Fresh or Frozen?

Frozen fruits and vegetables get a lot of heat because most people assume that if an item is frozen, it must be of a lesser quality and nutritional value than the same item that's fresh in the produce department.

Is it true? Is fresh really better than frozen? And if so, is the difference great enough to spend more money to make sure we're always eating fresh?

According to nutritionist Cynthia Sass, frozen foods get a bad rap for being processed junk, but the truth is, some of the healthiest foods in the market are in the freezer section.

MATURITY.

Ask any nutritionist and you'll learn that the minute a fruit or vegetable is picked, it begins to lose nutrients. The amount of time between harvest and consumption impacts its nutritional value. Because most frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen shortly after they are harvested, those items scheduled for flash freezing are fully ripe. That means they are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Freezing actually locks in many of their nutrients.

On the other hand, the fresh produce in your supermarket could have been harvested as far as 1,500 miles away -- much of it in South America -- and had to travel by truck to get to the store. It may have been picked before it reached its nutritional peak and then artificially ripened during transport.

NUTRITION.

Frozen produce has been proven to be just as nutrient-rich, and even superior in nutrients to fresh items, retaining most of their antioxidants and vitamins.

Scientists from Leatherhead Food Research and the University of Chester carried out 40 tests to measure nutrient levels in produce that had been sitting in a fridge for three days compared to their frozen equivalents. They found more beneficial nutrients overall in the frozen samples, in everything from broccoli to blueberries.

Of course, eating produce within minutes of harvest is the healthiest option. However, frozen can be almost as good and is often better than items sold as fresh because unless you pick it yourself, you have no idea how long it has been since that produce was harvested.

ADDITIVE-FREE.

Frozen goodies like spinach and strawberries have no additives because additives are not necessary to preserve quality. Naked produce (e.g. no added salt or sugar) is the norm. That's why frozen fruits and vegetables carry a single-word ingredient lists -- the fruit or veggie itself. Always check the ingredients, but I bet you'll find at least a dozen varieties in the freezer aisle with absolutely nothing added.

CONVENIENCE.

Even the freshest produce comes with a prep requirement. Sometimes that extra time is just too much at the end of a stressful day. Know the feeling? Frozen produce magically preps itself. It comes washed, peeled and chopped. Frozen produce can save you a ton of time, making it more likely that you'll cook and eat at home rather than opting for takeout.

Mary Hunt

Published in Lifestyle

The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace, prosperity and freedom in the Asia-Pacific region, Vice President Mike Pence told U.S. service members aboard the USS Ronald Reagan at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, home of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet today.

As he stood aboard the aircraft carrier, Pence said President Donald J. Trump sent him to thank U.S. and Japanese service members who have “stood up and stepped forward to protect our countries, our values and our very way of life.”

Pence is in the Asia-Pacific region to visit top officials in Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Sydney for discussions on economic engagement and evolving security challenges.

“You are the sons and daughters of freedom willing to defend it with your life so that your families, fellow countrymen and future generations may continue to call themselves free. All of America is proud of you,” the vice president said.

‘Heroes All’

Pence told the service members they are, “the best of us, heroes all. The Americans among you are so far away from home because the United States of America and Japan are bound by history, a time-honored treaty and the abiding oath of friendship.”

The U.S. bond with Japan is strong and growing stronger every day, he said.

“It’s fitting today I deliver this message aboard this great ship, a majestic ship, the USS Ronald Reagan here at Yokosuka Naval Base,” Pence said. “Her steel deck literally signifies the ironclad alliance our country enjoys with Japan, and our enduring commitment to the Asia-Pacific.”

Today, more than 50,000 U.S. troops, and another 50,000 civilians and family members are stationed in Japan, Pence told the audience. And the United States will continue to deploy more of its advanced military assets to the region in the years ahead, he added.

“Beyond the noble ship and the carrier strike group that it leads, by the year 2020, this ocean will boast 60 percent of our Navy’s fleet. And the skies above already have F-35 [Lighting II] joint strike fighters flying for freedom,” Pence said.
Stronger Fighting Force

“The president and I will honor your commitment and secure America’s safety through historic investments in our national defense. Just as President Ronald Reagan restored the armed forces in his day, so too, President Donald Trump will make the strongest fighting force in the world even stronger still,” Pence said.

In Trump’s first 100 days in office, Pence noted, the new president has taken steps to strengthen America’s military.

“President Trump has submitted a budget, which will rebuild our military and restore the arsenal of democracy with the largest increase in defense spending since the days of the namesake of this ship sat in the Oval Office,” he said.

In the past two weeks, Pence said, the world saw strength and resolve when Trump took decisive actions in Syria and Afghanistan.

“The enemies of our freedom and this alliance would do well not to test the resolve of this president or the capabilities of the armed forces of the United States of America and our allies,” he said.

North Korea Threat

Pence referred to his visit to South Korea earlier in the week.

“North Korea is the most dangerous and urgent threat to the peace and security of the Asian Pacific,” he said. “For more than a generation, North Korea’s leaders have sought to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic weapons on which to deliver them. They have impoverished their people and embittered the region in their pursuit of this dangerous goal.”

And the United States and its allies have worked tirelessly to peacefully dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of its people, he added.

“But at every step of the way, North Korea answered with overtures of willful deception, with broken promises and nuclear and missile tests,” Pence said.

“As President Trump has made clear, the era of strategic patience is over,” the vice president said.

Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News

Published in Outdoor

United Airlines brought itself a world of hurt with its disastrous handling of a seat-shortage problem Sunday that led to an Asian-American passenger being beaten bloody and dragged, apparently unconscious, off a plane by security personnel at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. A potentially costly lawsuit by the passenger is probably the least of United's worries. The self-inflicted public relations wounds could be catastrophic.

The airline's stock price took a nosedive Tuesday. In China, one of the airline's major markets, reaction has been volcanic, largely because the abused passenger was reported to be ethnically Chinese. Within 36 hours of Sunday night's incident, a video of the man being dragged off the Flight 3411 to Louisville, Ky., had been viewed more than 210 million times. Outraged viewers in China called for an international boycott.

United claims to offer more nonstop flights to China than any other airline. The airline cannot afford to put that lucrative market in jeopardy. Deft handling of this incident was an absolute requirement. United blew it badly.

In a statement, chief executive Oscar Munoz offered an Orwellian apology: "This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers." He revised it Tuesday into a full-throated apology.

What's worse is the reason why the battered passenger and three others were forced off the flight. The airline said it had overbooked -- common in air travel -- and had offered up to $800 and a free night's hotel accommodation for passengers willing to give up their seats. None volunteered.

In desperation, the airline said four passengers were selected at random by computer and then ordered off -- but not to make room for other paying passengers. It was to clear seats so that four United employees could travel to Louisville as relief crew members for another flight. The airline later acknowledged there was never any overbooking.

The airline made a conscious decision to put its own operational priorities ahead of the needs and rights of its paying passengers. No matter how urgent it was for ticketed passengers to get to Louisville, United decided seats for its four employees were more important.

Equally incomprehensible was the airline's decision to board passengers before the overbooking problem had been resolved. It's far easier to deny entry when passengers are in the waiting area than when they're already buckled into their seats.

Various news reports identified the battered passenger as David Dao, a Louisville physician. Witnesses quoted him as saying that he needed to return to Louisville Sunday night because he had appointments with patients on Monday morning.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Dao had been in legal trouble from drug-related offenses more than a decade ago. His past should have no bearing on the appalling way he was treated Sunday night.

This is one case where the airline deserves all the rough re-accommodation customers can bestow upon it.

Published in Outdoor
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:20

HOW TO AVOID BUYING A LEMON CAR

Finding a trouble-free used car has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with applying good research and investigative skills.

To help you determine whether a used vehicle is a good value or potential trouble, here's some advice from Consumer Reports:

-- Check the reliability record. A good way to reduce the risk of purchasing a trouble-prone vehicle is to select models with a good reliability record before you begin shopping. Consumer Reports' annual subscriber survey provides exclusive real-world reliability information that can help you narrow your selections.

-- Read the window sticker. Usually attached to a window, the buyer's guide must contain certain information, including whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty, and what percentage of repair costs (if any) the dealer is obligated to pay. The buyer's guide information overrides any contrary provisions in your sales contract.

-- Check the exterior. Begin by doing a walk-around of the car, looking for dents, chipped paint, mismatched body panels or parts, broken lamp housings and chipped windows. Paint overspray on chrome or rubber trim or in the vehicle's wheel wells is a telltale sign of body-panel repair.

-- Check the interior. A long look into the cabin can reveal such obvious problems as a sagging headliner, cracked dashboard and missing knobs, handles and buttons. Frayed seat belts or ones with melted fibers (because of friction) may be evidence of a previous frontal impact above 15 mph -- damaged safety belts should always be replaced.
Prematurely worn pedals or a sagging driver's seat are signs that the vehicle has very high mileage.

-- Check under the hood. At first glance, the engine, radiator and battery should be relatively grease-free and have very little or no corrosion. Belts and hoses should be pliable and unworn. Look for wet spots, which can indicate leaking oil or fluids. Melted wires, tubes or lines, or a blackened firewall may be signs of overheating or even an engine fire.

-- Check the tires. Wear should be even across the width of the tread and the same on the left and right sides of the car. Tires that are frequently used while over-inflated tend to have more wear in the middle; tires driven while under-inflated tend to wear more on the sides. Heavy wear on the outside shoulder near the sidewall of the tire indicates a car that has been driven hard. This can be a sign that other parts of the car may suffer from excessive wear due to aggressive driving.

-- Check the vehicle's history. A vehicle-history report from CarFax or Experian Automotive can alert you to possible odometer fraud; reveal past fire, flood and accident damage; or tell you if a rebuilt or salvage title has ever been issued for the vehicle.

-- Visit a mechanic. Before you buy a used vehicle, Consumer Reports recommends having it inspected by a qualified mechanic who routinely does automotive diagnostic work. A thorough diagnosis should cost around $120.

ConsumerReports.org

Published in Lifestyle
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:18

War Cries Drown Out 'America First'

"Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?" tweeted President Donald Trump on Easter Sunday.

Earlier, after discovering "great chemistry" with Chinese President Xi Jinping over "the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake" at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had confided, "I explained ... that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!"

"America First" thus takes a back seat to big-power diplomacy with Beijing. One wonders: How much will Xi end up bilking us for his squeezing of Kim Jong Un?

Trump once seemed to understand how America had been taken to the cleaners during and after the Cold War. While allies supported us diplomatically, they piled up huge trade surpluses at our expense and became virtual free-riders off the U.S. defense effort.

No nations were more successful at this than South Korea and Japan. Now Xi is playing the game -- and perhaps playing Trump.

What is the "North Korean problem" Beijing will help solve in return for more indulgent consideration on future U.S.-China trade deals?

North Korea's nuclear arsenal. As 80 percent of Pyongyang's trade comes through China, Trump believes that Beijing can force Kim to stop testing missiles and atomic bombs before he produces an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S.

But what is to prevent Xi from pocketing Trump's concessions and continuing on the strategic course China has long pursued?

For in many ways, Pyongyang's goals parallel China's.

Neither could want an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula. For Kim, this would devastate his country, bring down his regime, and cost him his life. For China, war could mean millions of Koreans crossing the Yalu into Manchuria and a disruption of Beijing's march to Asian hegemony.

A continuing crisis on the peninsula, however, with Trump and the U.S. relying on Beijing's help, could leave Xi in the catbird seat.

And now that North Korea has declared its goal to be building missiles with nuclear warheads that could hit all U.S. bases in Asia -- and even California -- the clock is running for the White House.

"It won't happen," Trump has said of North Korea's developing an ICBM that could hit the United States. "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."

"The threat is upon us," says outgoing deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland. "This is something President Trump is going to deal with in the first year."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence have declared that our policy of "strategic patience" with Pyonyang is at an end.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday the U.S. has "to take action, short of armed conflict, so we can avoid the worst" in dealing with "this unpredictable regime."
With a stunning parade of missiles in Pyongyang on Saturday, the North's failed firing of a solid-fueled missile that same day, and the promise of new missile tests weekly, Kim is forcing our hand.

Either he backs away from building atomic bombs and long-range missiles or Trump and his generals must make good on their warnings.

How did we get to this point?

Why, 64 years after the Korean War, a quarter-century after the Cold War, are we still obliged to go to war to defend South Korea from a North with one-half the South's population and 3 percent of its gross domestic product?

Why are we, on the far side of the Pacific, still responsible for containing North Korea when two of its neighbors -- Russia and China -- are nuclear powers and South Korea and Japan could field nuclear and conventional forces far superior to Kim's?

How long into the future will containing militarist dictators in Pyongyang with nuclear missiles be America's primary responsibility?

Another issue arises. Before the U.S. launches any pre-emptive strike on North Korea, Congress should be called back into session to authorize any act of war against the North.

Perhaps this time, Congress would follow the Constitution.

Though Korea is the crisis of the moment, it is not the only one.

Not since 9/11 have the Afghan Taliban been stronger or controlled more territory. The United States' commanding general there is calling for thousands more U.S. troops. Russia and Iran are reportedly negotiating with the Taliban. Pakistan is said to be aiding them.

To counter Vladimir Putin's Russia, we have moved U.S. and NATO troops into Poland, the Baltic States, Romania and Bulgaria. We have fired missiles into Syria. We are reportedly preparing to back the Saudis in the latest escalation of their war on the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Twenty-four years after "Black Hawk Down," the weekend brought reports of U.S. troops returning to Somalia.

The promise of a Trump presidency -- that we would start looking out for our own country and own national interests first and let the rest of the world solve, or fail to solve, its own problems -- appears, not 100 days in, to have been a mirage.

Will more wars make America great again?

Patrick J. Buchanan

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 23:12

Two Very Different Tax Days

Leftist protesters around the country used the tax deadline on April 18 as an occasion to hold rallies demanding the release of President Trump's tax returns. They could use large inflatable chickens and signs with hammers and sickles saying "Show us your rubles" and no journalist would be offended.

Knowing the president, this will have all the effectiveness of national rallies that demand we get transcripts of Hillary Clinton's six-figure speeches. It's unlikely.

But the Saturday network newscasts promoted the anti-Trump "resistance" without really noting that it's a bit strange for left-wingers to be protesting on taxes, unless they think rates are dangerously low. CBS correspondent Errol Barnett announced, "As nationwide Tax Day protests reached the sunny streets of West Palm Beach, Florida, today, President Trump spent time at his International Golf Club and Mar-a-Lago resort nearby."

On ABC, they acknowledged "violent clashes" among protesters in California, and anchor Tom Llamas promoted the wave, saying, "There were about 150 Tax Day protests demanding to see the president's tax returns, even at the president's Mar-a-Lago resort." NBC led the whole newscast on the protests, including the violence that erupted in Berkeley.

Something was missing in all of this protest publicity: the notion that the protesters weren't a real grass-roots movement. Liberal journalists are always happy to see liberal protesters boosting any mob that matches their ideals. Because they are liberal, they are always presented as authentic, diverse and representative of the public, regardless of the last election's results. It can be rigidly organized by MoveOn and other leftist groups, but it will be painted as spontaneous.

But rewind to eight years ago: While the networks covered conservative Tax Day protests against then-President Obama, the emphasis was on how phony they were.

ABC reporter Dan Harris suggested the protesters were AstroTurf "cheered on by Fox News and talk radio." As opposed to "authentic" organizers cheered by ABC, CBS and NBC? Harris added: "Critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests. ... While the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost."

CBS reporter Dean Reynolds announced that while "a fistful of rightward-leaning websites and commentators embraced the cause. ... fresh polling indicates there is not all that much passion about high taxes in the country at large right now. Gallup this week found 61 percent of Americans see their federal income taxes as fair."

On NBC, Lee Cowan reported that "organizers insist today's tea parties were organic uprisings of like-minded taxpayers from both parties," but "some observers suggest not all of it was as home-grown as it may seem." His "observer" was colleague Chuck Todd, who didn't exactly have his finger on the 2010 pulse. Earlier that day, Todd insisted that the idea of these "so-called tea parties ... hasn't really caught on."

Oops. Wishful thinking trumped reporting.

The networks also spent the Obama years ignoring how the tea party was motivated by historically enormous trillion-dollar deficits. Facts like those were stubborn things. Journalists felt it was best to navigate around them as the "news" consisted of congratulating Obama for his ability to sing Al Green songs and his rib-tickling Obamacare-promoting interviews with supportive comedians.

It's ironic that the liberal media now accuse President Trump of lacking any principles and being indifferent to public policy matters. Perhaps after their performance in the last eight years, the anchormen should be looking in the mirror.
­

L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham

Published in Business

Let me get a good grip on the Main Stream Media (MSM), Left Wing, deceitful press reasoning. The Press has a Constitutional right to report the news and a moral obligation to seek and report the truth!!!

If Donald Trump refuses to release personal and private information about his taxes he MUST be hiding something! Now if I follow common sense, logic deductive reasoning then it must be true that withholding private information is evidence, maybe even “probable cause” that the withholder has “something to hide”! (Like someone that pleads the 5th is guilty right?) If we take it one step further, it should follow that if a person, especially the President of the US, hides personal information that would reveal a lie, indeed, a criminal act, then the MSM should do everything they can to “out” the lying SOB, shouldn’t they?

They should be relentless! Like they did to Nixon! Right?

Now IF those hidden documents would /could PROVE that the lying President committed a Federal Felony, by further covering up those lies, sort of why President Clinton was Impeached, then the MSM MOST CERTAINLY would have been relentless NO MATTER WHAT THAT PERSON”S POLITICAL AFFILIATION IS, to get the truth! Hmm… let’s think about that for a minute!
Let’s say President Trump didn’t release his Taxes because they show he earned less that we thought, or paid less that we thought or paid no Tax. Foul or no foul, legal or illegal? In my opinion, NO FOUL, NO CRIME and NO BODY’S FREAKING BUSINESS BUT HIS!!!

Now, playing “devil’s advocate…let’s just assume this scenario is TRUE (which it IS)… Barack Obama, sealed his birth records! Why? Did they show he wasn’t a Natural born US citizen?

Then after a lot of time and discussion a Birth Certificate was released, it was proven to be a FRAUDULENT Government document. He sealed his college Financial Aid Forms, Why? did they show he applied as a Foreigner, born outside the US?

He obtained a Social Security Number that was previously issued to a now deceased US citizen using fraudulent Birth Documents (SSA only reissues a SS number to the ORIGINAL owner). Why did he seal his passport, making it unavailable to anyone else? Could it be because it shows he was of “different” citizenship than US and born outside same?

His Selective Service card was altered and other, official US Achieves documents ( US Customs Port of Entry Documents ) were deleted or otherwise altered.
WHY…?

The DIFFERENCE is this…what Barack Obama did are ALL Federal Felonies and should have been the basis for Impeachment, Indictment and probably evidence that he IS a Muslim and consequently, evidence of Treason! HAD THE DECEITFULL, DISHONEST, UNETHICAL, CORRUPT, PRESS DONE THEIR JOB, Obama would most likely be in prison, on death row for Treason. There is no statute of limitations for treason? There is still hope!

J Gary DiLaura
FBI retired

Published in Politics

It was a month after Donald Trump won the presidency and, to be honest, many stunned journalists were still trying to figure out how they missed the tremors that led to the political earthquake.

That was the backdrop for an appearance by New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet on the "Fresh Air" program at National Public Radio. While the focus was politics and journalism, Baquet also offered a refreshingly candid sound bite about mainstream media efforts to cover religion news.

I think those remarks are worth a flashback this week, which marks the end of year 29 for my syndicated "On Religion" column. You see, I am just as convinced as ever that if journalists want to cover real stories in the real lives of real people in the real world, then they need to be real serious when handling religion.

Quoting a pre-election Times column by Jim Rutenberg, "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross said: "If you're a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation's worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him? Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century."

For Baquet, this topic was linked to stirred-up populist emotions out in the heartland. Journalists must strive, he said, to understand the "forces in America that led to Americans wanting a change so much" that they were willing to back Trump.

"I want to make sure that we are much more creative about beats out in the country so that we understand that anger and disconnectedness that people feel. And I think I use religion as an example because I was raised Catholic in New Orleans," said Baquet. "I think that the New York-based, and Washington-based too probably, media powerhouses don't quite get religion. ...

"We don't get religion. We don't get the role of religion in people's lives. And I think we can do much, much better. And I think there are things that we can be more creative about to understand the country."

Needless to say, his blunt statement -- "We don't get religion" -- hit home for me as editor of the GetReligion.org website that has, for 13 years, produced media criticism focusing on that very topic.

It's important that Baquet also noted that, while his newsroom contains a veteran religion-news specialist, one pro on this beat isn't enough -- if the goal is to listen to what Americans are saying outside elite zip codes in the urban Northeast.

Thus, it mattered that The New York Times later posted a job notice for a new "faith and values correspondent" to be based outside of New York City.

"In 2017, we'll roam even more widely and dig even more deeply into the issues, both those that animate and those that infuriate Americans," said the notice. Then it added, "We're seeking a skilled reporter and writer to tap into the beliefs and moral questions that guide Americans and affect how they live their lives, whom they vote for and how they reflect on the state of the country. You won't need to be an expert in religious doctrine."

Another media critic immediately underlined that reference to doctrine.
"I don't want to read too much into this, and to unfairly knock a good-faith (so to speak) effort," noted commentator Rod Dreher, writing at The American Conservative. "Certainly a general-news 'faith and values' correspondent doesn't need to be able to give a detailed explanation of the doctrine of the Trinity, or parse the finer points of sharia according to the Hanafi school. But the reporter certainly should be able to understand why doctrine matters to religious thought and belief.

"My concern here is that the Times is inadvertently minimizing the importance of religious knowledge, along the lines of, 'You don't really have to understand how religion works in order to report on it in the lives of ordinary Americans.'"

As I head into my third decade with this column, all I can add is this: "Amen."

Terry Mattingly

Published in General/Features
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 22:49

To Microchip Or Not To Microchip!

It's creepy enough, when you think about it, that we casually inject microchips into our pets so they can be tracked by a computer scanner. Certainly, we'd never think of treating humans that way. Would we?

In Sweden, employees at Epicenter, a high-tech startup hub, are opting to be injected with microchips so they can avoid the hassle of pulling out their swipe cards whenever they want to enter a facility or use a printer. Now they just wave a hand, and the scanner does the rest. The microchips, the size of grains of rice, can even be used to buy smoothies.

Outrageous, perhaps. But considering how thoroughly millions of humans have handed over their brains to smartphones, humanity already is skiing fast down that slippery cyborg slope.

Published in Lifestyle
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 22:42

April Showers Help You Flower

Are you having secret thoughts, dear reader, about jumping on your bike and pedaling up the road, foraging for fresh zucchinis at your farmers market, planning the kind of outdoor adventure that makes you feel happy, healthy and sweaty at the end of the day?

Of course you are. It's spring! Many people on the path are feeling that undeniable seasonal urge to get out and grow, to open up and sprout. But where do you begin?

You can always start where you are. Consider this short list of springtime strategies. Pick one or two that call to you. If you get a busy signal, slow down and go over the list one more time. In fact, less time with technology, more focus on live-action fun -- would give you a sweet taste of what your life could be all year round if you asserted your freedom to choose:

SIGN UP FOR SOMETHING NEW

Are you tired of tennis? Bored with running? Publicly humiliated by golf? Spring is the perfect time to come up with a new sport or activity to love, maybe something you've always wanted to try but felt inhibited about.

For one friend of mine, it was the tango. It happened many springs ago, but I always think of her, because taking five tango lessons in a high school gym changed her life. I saw it happen. Her inner Carmen just exploded, and she went from being sullen and contracted to being strong and sexy, from having a miserable social life to having more friends than she wants.

Life is too interesting to settle for workouts that aren't. What about aikido? Square dancing? Tai chi fly-fishing (a favorite in Santa Fe)? Now hear this: There's a sport for everyone. This spring find yours.

FIND THE TIME

Everything starts here. I'm too busy... to walk, to cook a good meal, to coach my daughter's softball team. Not having enough time is the No. 1 excuse we give ourselves for not living the lives we want. This spring, find time! Determine your priorities, and say a polite but firm no to people and projects that don't reflect them. Schedule yourself for fun stuff, the same way you do for car pool and grocery shopping. And don't spend a minute -- not even five seconds -- feeling guilty.

CRANK IT UP

Whatever sport you've been doing, challenge yourself to take it to a new level. If it's running, set new (but realistic) goals, try new terrain or do sprints at high-intensity intervals. If it's golf, concentrate on mastering your seven iron or getting out of the sand. If nothing thrills you, do what I wish everyone would at least “try” yoga. Give yourself six months of just showing up in the presence of a great teacher. Amazing things can happen.

FOCUS ON REAL FOOD

Find those farmers markets. Grow some food. This spring, continue your shift away from old patterns of eating that make you unhealthy, unhappy and overweight. Stop dieting-as-a-verb. Instead, use your smarts to come up with a new way of eating that focuses on tasty real food. Do a springtime kitchen makeover, and replace the processed food, junk food and toxic snack food with the healthier choices you know are out there. Admit you've always wanted to try a sea buckthorn and raspberry smoothie with chia seeds.

LET NATURE NURTURE

Knowing that spring is the obvious time for new beginnings and new habits is one thing. Experiencing it is another. This week, take a day, or an hour, and tune into seasonal change. Spend some quiet time in a green and blossoming space. Ready to sign up for adult soccer camp? Finally willing to trade in your Twitter time for a 20-minute walk? If you have an aha! experience, write it down and let that be the start of a springtime journal (a great tool for keeping you focused).

When you tap into the nature of seasonal change, you tap into something bigger than yourself. That helps you make lifestyle changes that last a lifetime -- or at least four months.

"Making contact with your creative self is vital to spring harmony. Who are you inside? ... You are continually creating your life; be aware of this, and dance and play the tune that you are!"
-- Elson M. Haas

Marilynn Preston

Published in Environment
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