The late (and great) Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

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© 2001 Tu Hoang

It is not easy to let go of our thoughts, feelings and tension as they arise. Commotion, distractions and other people requiring our attention surround us. We cannot always maintain a beginner’s mind and often we cannot afford to focus on our breathing because we are actively responding to something; this is especially true with first applying Zen techniques. But like everything else, continued practice allows us to live these techniques not just merely apply them.

One way to over come the initial hurdles of applying Zen in a busy day is to be Mindful; basically to be self-aware and self-monitoring with the aim of accepting all of the thoughts and feelings that arise in us without judging them or shutting them out.

When you are focused on your breathing, with a Beginner’s Mind you will sense feelings and thoughts arising. Focusing on your breathing will keep you centered, and with a Beginner’s Mind you will observe thoughts and feelings without judging them; rather let thoughts and feelings rise and subside while you pay attention but not cling to them.

In Zen, all that arises within us are natural; they are a result of what we are and how we are connected to the world. Our eyes, ears and nose sense the world; we perceive, conceptualize and feel because that is the statement of our body.

When we are mindful of anger, sadness, nervousness and joy we acknowledge them, welcome them when they appear but we do not cling to them. When we feel love or happiness we welcome these feelings. It should be the same with anger and nervousness. All these feelings are our mind, body and consciousness communicating to us. When we are mindful of them we can only become wiser and more insightful.

I may get nervous before a test. ‘I am nervous. Hello nervousness, how are you today? Glad to feel you again.’ Focused breathing keeps me centered. When the test begins my nervousness naturally subsides. ‘Farewell nervousness,’ and I am completely in tuned with the task at hand.

Do not try to resist or suppress your feelings. That only means you have turned your mind to them and are clinging to them even more. Let your feelings and thoughts. Be mindful of them. I find that as the situation dictates my distracting feelings and thoughts subside allowing me to respond unencumbered by the task at hand.

Focused breathing, Beginner’s Mind and Mindfulness are basic Zen practices. They are almost common sense but often we become mired in the complexities and details of every day living and lose sight of common sense wisdom. Zen is not a monastic way of life. The Zen ideal is to experience and embrace life experiences full on; not editing out the bad bits because there are no bad bits, just things are they are.

Baked Oatmeal Cupcakes To Go–Making these today more on this later..


(makes 24-25 cupcakes)

Adapted from: Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal.

  • 5 cups rolled oats (400g)
  • 2 1/2 cups over-ripe mashed banana (For all substitutions, see nutrition link below) measured after mashing (600g)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 NuNaturals stevia packets (or omit and use 5 tbsp liquid sweetener of choice–such as pure maple syrup or agave–instead)
  • optional: 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 2/3 cups water (640g) (If using the liquid-sweetener option, scale water back by 1/3 cup.)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp oil (45g) (I really like coconut, but veg oil will also work. For lower-fat substitution notes, see nutrition link below.)
  • 2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • optional add-ins: cinnamon, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, ground flax or wheat germ, raisins or other dried fruit, etc.

Preheat oven to 380 F, and line 24-25 cupcake tins. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir very well. In a separate bowl, combine and stir all wet ingredients (including banana). Mix wet into dry, then pour into the cupcake liners and bake 21 minutes. I also like to then broil for 1-2 minutes, but it’s optional. These oatmeal cakes can be eaten right away, or they can be frozen and reheated for an instant breakfast on a busy day.

Per cupcake:


Project 365


Happy New Year…ball has dropped…

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Food & a New Year…

Every year it’s a goal of mine to “lose weight”… I do fairly well in the first three months of the year then the next three months I start to slack off to the point that by the end of the year I am right back to where I was the previous year if not heavier…. it’s a battle and one that I apparently have been losing since 2002 and forward. Not saying that weight hasn’t always been a fight for me but it wasn’t until 2002 that I truly started to lose the war on my weight fight.. I am not going to sugar coat it no more.. I am “fat”.. not thick, not PHAT… just plain and simply  “fat” … it’s not to be mean nor harm any other female out there but it’s my truth… it stares me in the face every morning when I’m getting ready for work…. and there is so much more to this “war” pertaining to my weight.

I am a mom to a young daughter and I don’t want my daughter to have my unhealthy eating habits nor my unhealthy body image. I want to raise her to enjoy food but in moderation along with not viewing her weight as a means to beauty.. because women can be beautiful no matter the size as long as they are healthy… so my new journey against my “food addiction” will have to be walked lightly because I don’t want my daughter to view weight in the negative or to see me starving myself or weighting myself obsessively. I want to live to see my daughter grow up and do all the wonderful things in her life– first love, prom, first date, wedding day, grandchildren etc.. no life isn’t promised for tomorrow, even if I do “win” a battle or two pertaining to my weight but it’s not going to be because of weight that I am going to miss a moment of my daughter’s life… weight at some point is something that I can control…

Lastly, due to health issues that are now piling up as quickly as the  pounds have been over the years–such as high triglycerides, blood pressure increasing…along with being insulin resistant which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes among various other issues such as joint pain etc.. It’s time to harness in my addiction for food… I need to be a better example for myself, my spouse and especially my daughter…

This is going to be a hard journey for me… one that isn’t going to be easy because a person needs to eat to provide fuel to their body… it feels like it would be so much easier to be addicted to something else that a person could abstain from… food addiction is just not that easy– I have to re-teach myself healthy eating habits because I am a big emotion eater, I love comfort foods especially ones with lots of carbs &/or sugar and I have good memories of family time around the kitchen table eating… by no means is my addiction the result of anyone else’s fault but my own… I take full responsibility for the person I see in the mirror..

Well this is where I will be posting my struggles, challenges and triumphs…. at some point I hope to start running/walking in marathons once I have more energy etc.. so far my first steps on this journey– this blog, January Menu for dinners is almost complete along with purchased a small journal to jot down daily food intakes (which I hope to type here once a week along with favorite low carb, low fat and low salt recipes)…also met a nutritionist and will re-meet with him in a month and 10 days after 01/01/14…. hoping that I can correct my errors and reign in my addiction so that I may LIVE again.. this isn’t a matter of win or lose.. it’s a matter that I have to win because my life and those around me depend on me winning.. so here goes..