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Awakening to the New Year
January 1 - New Year, New You
If you didn't receive a journal as a holiday gift, go out and buy yourself a gorgeous one. This will encourage you to write when you have the need—be it once a day, once a week, or just once in a while.
January 2 - Looking At Your Life
Take a look at your life. Is there any time in your day for you? If you need more breathing room, then cut back on your schedule and learn how to say a kind but firm, "No!" to colleagues, family, and friends. Find a way to stop doing an uncontrolled plunge down the rabbit hole each day and examine your life to find a solution. Don't try to change everything overnight. Just apply the brakes, gently. Take a breath, a deep one from the diaphragm, before you burn yourself out.
January 3 - Every New Year is a New Opportunity
January gets its name from the Roman god "Janus," the patron of endings and beginnings. He is shown as having two faces looking in opposite directions. So, like Janus, look back on the past year and be prepared for the next year.
January 4 - Living By Giving
If you feel you have no purpose in life, try feeling for someone else. Call on an elderly neighbor or single mom to say "Hi" and see if they need anything, even if just a smile. Volunteer at a nursing home, or an animal shelter to give yourself a sense of purpose, of being useful. You'll make new friends, you'll feel joyful and uplifted and will stop wallowing in self-pity.
January 5 - Cancer Proof Your Diet
The World Cancer Research Fund, the American Cancer Society, and the Royal Cancer Society in Britain—all organizations that study the issue—agree that as many cases of cancer are caused by diet as are caused by smoking, and all of them make the same top-two recommendations for preventing cancer: Eat more plant-based foods and eat fewer animal based foods. In other words, "go vegan."
January 6 - First Steps to Better Health
If, however, you aren't doing too much but too little, try going for a brisk nature walk every morning. It'll wake you up and revitalize you. Use all your senses.
January 7 - Simple Soups
Hearty vegan soups are filling yet low in saturated fat, full of vitamins, protein, and fiber, and huge on comfort factor. Serve 'em up with a good quality crusty whole wheat bread. Then add a bowl of fresh salad. Make enough for two days, or pass half on to a neighbor or relative.
Here's one of my favorites:
Costa Rican Black Bean Soup
3 cups dried black beans, soaked 6-8 hours
10 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 can (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato paste
2 tablespoons hot sauce
Drain, sort, and rinse beans and place in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add water and salt, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Stir the celery, onion, bell pepper, oregano, black pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves into the beans. Return to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1½ hours or until beans are tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and hot sauce, stirring well. Return to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Check seasoning. Serves 8.
January 8 - The Cure for a Cold Winter's Day
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium leek, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 cups water
1 cup cooked white beans coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup cabbage or broccoli, shredded
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup whole wheat pasta, uncooked
½ cup vegan Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add leek, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes or until softened. Add water, beans, pepper, oregano, and tomato paste. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add more boiling water if it needs it. Add cabbage or broccoli, peas, parsley, pasta, and cheese. Stir and cook an additional 10 minutes. Serves 4-6.
January 9 - To Look Good is to Feel Good
January is a time of resolution and renewal. A chance to dream a new and wonderful dream and, like Janus, show a bright face. Showing that fresh face to the world comes from within, from an inner confidence, grace, health, happiness, and self-satisfaction. To look good you must feel good, or it will show in peevish lines around your lips, in tired eyes, or in tightened, dry-looking skin.
January 10 - Let's Check the Basics
Are you getting enough sleep? Most people need eight hours; some need more.
Are you eating properly, a diet low in fats and sugar, high in natural fiber, with six or more helpings of fresh fruit and vegetables each day?
Are you drinking plenty of water?
And not too much alcohol and caffeine?
Are you breathing from the diaphragm to oxygenate your blood?
Are you exercising, with at least one 20-30 minute brisk walk a day or the equivalent?
Do you relax and take time for you? Yoga, meditation, daydream, a good book?
Do you laugh and have fun every day?
Do you have a rewarding job that is fulfilling and makes use of your talents?
Do you have a happy, comfortable, and loving relationship with your partner, children, family, and friends?
Are you living each day to its fullest, as though it were your last?
Are you continually learning, growing, and experiencing life?
Are you a wonderful work in progress?
Do you need to work at any of these? I know I do! I'm sure we all do. Make observations of your own in your journal— write them down, read them, apply them to yourself and to your life.
January 11 - Skin Savers
If the blustery wind and indoor heating are leaving your skin gray, dry, and flaky, it's time to nourish it. Go get yourself a facial. If you don't have a regular salon, try visiting a few day spas and choose the one where you think you will feel most comfortable and cosseted. Ask about the treatments they offer and choose the one right for you, or ask for a recommendation.
You can also pamper yourself at home. Begin every day with gentle cleansing, toning, and a moisturizer for your skin type. Don't use any old soap and water. If you like that just-washed feeling on your skin, choose a gentle foaming cleanser that won't strip away your own natural oils. Once a week, use a gentle exfoliator to buff away those dead skin cells and an appropriate mask to deep cleanse.
Choose the right moisturizer for your skin condition; not just for whether it is dry, oily, or sensitive, but one that will help with firming, hydrating, tightening, or with wrinkles. If you spend time out of doors your moisturizer needs to have an SPF of at least 15, even in winter. I also recommend a good night cream that is heavier and will nourish your skin as you sleep.
Remember to use your moisturizer on your throat and neck twice a day also, as skin in this area is thin and can be the first to show signs of aging. And don't forget those eye creams. These are lighter and specific to dark shadows, puffiness, or laughter lines.
January 12 - Guilt-Free Beauty
Be sure to buy beauty products that have not been tested on animals. Check with www.leapingbunny.org for a list of companies that do not test finished products, ingredients, or formulations on animals, or you can phone 1-888-546-CCIC (Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics) and they'll be happy to send you a pocket shopping guide of companies that manufacture with compassion. Or look for the leaping bunny logo on the product.
January 13 - Return to the Library; Return to Reading
My very first job straight out of school at sixteen was as a library assistant. Libraries are wonderful. Everything's free, the resources are nearly endless, and you'll save many a tree!
January 14 - Conscious Crafts
When I watch TV, I love to knit and crochet. Everyone I know already has a colorful throw I've given to them. So now what to do with the products of all that handwork? Web sites to the rescue!
www.woolworks.org has a section on knitting and crocheting for charity listed by state, with links for organizations that make donations to U. S. troops; to centers for battered women and children; to Native American Reservations in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah; and to the homeless in cities all over the U. S.
www.newbornsinneed.org would love clothing and bedding items for newborn, sick, needy, and premature babies. You can donate blankets, hats, booties, and afghans. All they ask is that you use the softest yarn possible.
www.warmingfamilies.org is a 100% volunteer project that delivers donated blankets and other warm items to the homeless and displaced while strengthening families with their charity work. They supply to local shelters and nursing homes.
January 15 - We Are the Keepers of the Flame
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.
Those words were spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King. Today is his birthday. Take a moment today and think about what Dr. King's life means to you. Go to www.mlkday.org for more information on this great man and for suggestions of projects you can get involved with to help your community. Honor Dr. King, not just this week, but every week, and do your best to help other people.
January 16 - Meatless Mondays - Good for You AND the Planet
Whether you are motivated by concerns for yourself and your family's health, ending unnecessary animal suffering, environmental protection, or conserving scarce global food resources for the hungry, Meatout Mondays are the answer. Visit www.farmusa.org to sign up for a great weekly e-mail with a recipe, an inspirational message, and an informative feature that will help you kick the meat habit.
January 17 - Relax
When your life gets chaotic, try to relax. Open the front door and go for a walk or a jog. Enjoy the fresh air—the rain if it's raining, the sun if it's shining. Breathe deeply and forget about that pile of work on your desk, just for twenty minutes. A walk will help lower your stress levels, your blood pressure, and your bad temper.
January 18 - Baked Goods That Are Good for You
January is a great time for baking. The nights are long, the days are short, and in most parts of the country it's cold and dreary.
Here is my favorite: hardly any cholesterol, with soymilk and tofu for calcium, dates for iron, and whole wheat flour for fiber and B vitamins. This recipe is easy, foolproof, and very flavorful—enjoy!
Spicy Ladies Date Cake
1 ½cups pitted dates, chopped
1 cup vanilla soymilk
1 cup granulated sugar
6 ounces soft tofu, drained
3 tablespoons vegan margarine, softened
1 ½ cups all-purpose whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a small saucepan, combine dates and soymilk. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes until the dates are soft. Then place in a food processor and whiz until smooth. Add the sugar, tofu, and margarine and process until smooth. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in the date mixture, but don't over beat. Spread this batter into the baking dish. Scatter the brown sugar over the top, and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the dish for 10 minutes, and then remove to cool on a wire rack, or leave in the pan. Cut into squares and eat until gone!
January 19 - Making Memories
Ginger Molasses Cake
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
cup safflower or any light oil
cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8×8 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the soymilk, oil, molasses, maple syrup, grated ginger, and vanilla extract until well combined. Tip these ingredients into the dry ones and stir together until blended. Plop into your prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan before cutting into 9 pieces.
January 20 - Get a Move On
Try to make time for at least a twenty-minute cardio routine five days a week—somewhere, somehow. Set your alarm clock to go off a half-hour earlier and take a brisk walk or jog to wake yourself up. If that's too much (or you know it wouldn't last), then break it into more manageable sessions: ten minutes first thing to rise and shine, a fifteen-minute walk at lunchtime, then hit the gym on the way home for some strength training.
January 21 - It Is Far Easier Being Green
Are you green? It's easy to get complacent or cynical. One person switching off a light for one hour may not make much difference, but one million people across the country will—and it's not just a case of your fuel bill, it's an important way to save and preserve our planet Earth.
January 22 - Energy Smarts
Turn off lights when you leave a room.
Turn off the heater or air conditioning when you don't need it, or use a heater or fan only for the room you are using.
When doing the laundry, do a full load or use the economy setting.
January 23 - Save Water
Fill the sink with water when shaving, brushing teeth, or rinsing, instead of letting the tap run.
Share a shower or bath with a friend, or take quicker showers.
Don't overwater the garden and lawn. Remember to turn off the sprinklers when it rains.
Don't hose down driveways and walkways—use a broom.
Minimize the use of waste disposals as they use a lot of water.
January 24 - Waste Not
Use recycled items whenever you can.
Separate paper, metals, and plastics for recycling.
Reuse bags or take canvas bags to the market.
January 25 - Save the Air
Support political actions for clean air.
Avoid using harsh chemicals.
Have your gas heater and appliances serviced regularly.
Use less natural gas and electricity. Drive less and buy locally.
Car pool, ride public transit, or walk or cycle whenever you can.
Combine errands and shopping all in one trip. Resist the urge to buy an SUV and look for a smaller, efficient, lower-emissions vehicle.
Keep your car tuned and smog checked. Replace the air filter regularly.
Keep tires properly inflated.
When driving, accelerate gradually, use cruise control on the highway, and obey the speed limit for optimum fuel consumption.
January 26 - Shop Green
Buy items with less packaging, often larger sizes.
Reuse water bottles.
Buy items that can be reused.
Take your own commuter mug to coffeehouses.
Use rechargeable batteries in flashlights, toys, radios, CD players, etc.
Use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.
Stop using disposable plates and cups.
January 27 - Bless the Beasts and the Children
While working to prevent waste and solve pollution, we are also indirectly helping to save the planet's animals, many of which are hard pressed to find a secure place to live and feed.
Defenders of Wildlife is ... "dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities." They do a brilliant blend of education and advocacy and are not afraid to go directly to the source to save nature. You can join for just $15. Log onto www.defenders.org and join the Defenders' Environmental Network (DEN) to receive timely e-updates on how you can help protect wolves, dolphins, bears, birds, endangered species, and key wildlife habitats, such as refuges and forests.
January 28 - A Juicy Life
Now is a great time to include citrus fruits in those six fruits and veggies you eat each day. Choose navel oranges, a huge pink grapefruit, squeeze fresh lemons for lemonade, limes for salsa and in margaritas, or grab a handful of kumquats to eat with lunch. If you have a juicer, buy a big bagful of organic oranges for your breakfast juice, make lemon juice ice cubes to pop into your gin and tonic or club soda. Get messy and peel a juicy grapefruit to share with your partner.
Excerpted from BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD by Julie Fisher-McGarry. Copyright © 2006 Julie Fisher-McGarry. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
January Awakening to the New Year
February Kindness Does Matter
March Celebrate All Life
April Nature Renewed
May My self in Nature
June Love Is in the Little Things
July Summer's Inspiration
August Go Where Your Heart Draws You
September Honor and Respect the Creatures
October Harmonious Balance
December Peace and Reflection