Category Archives: Lifestyle

Why Natural Talent Is Overrated

Category : Lifestyle , Success

Have you ever wondered how it is that some people seem to have natural talent(in whatever activity: sports, music, academics, professions). In school, It was a constant source of puzzlement to me how some kids could just open a math book and understand everything in there so easily. I often wondered what was different in their brain from mine. For others, music genius comes naturally. We see those “geniuses” pop up on Facebook every once in a while. You know, the 11-year old that is playing first string in a symphonic orchestra.

It always looks like things come easily to them. It can be frustrating, really, how some just seem to soak up talent by osmosis. The rest of us sit on the sidelines wondering why we did not win the genetic lottery or receive the “golden trophy” of potential talent as we left the maternity ward. What is it, we may wonder, that these talented people have that we somehow missed out on?

Is It Always About Natural Talent?

It can be discouraging in school or university, where everyone is measured according to  ; performance and rewarded with academic “money” (grades), to see the same  people getting recognized, over and over, for their high achievements Some of them don’t even have to put in that much effort; they are just “naturally” smart.  Then there are the ones who are a “natural on every court, field, rink or wherever they play sports. They shoot right in and become Joe-Pro from the get-go. In the business world, there are those for whom everything comes so easily – they get the clients, they get the promotions while the rest of us sit and wonder what is wrong with us.

The Starting Point Really Doesn’t Matter

Everybody starts in different places  We may start from awkward beginnings, seemingly without out much talent that stands out at all.  However, over time, whether we improve is really entirely up to us.  The starting point doesn’t much matter. The natural talents that we have, begin to take a back seat over the course of time. Really, it depends on what we do with these talents through our own efforts that will make the difference.

Everything we do in has a beginning. While it is true that some people have a natural leaning toward certain skills or abilities talent is much, much more than that. Even the 11-year-old music prodigy still has to practice over and over. Micheal Jordan was not born knowing how to play basketball and Micheal Phelps had to first learn how to swim. Some of the talents that go unseen are those within us such as determination, refusal to quit, perseverance and willingness to fail. Without these very important qualities, no amount of  “natural talent” will get us very far.

So, we all have a starting point and potential. It is just that our starting point and our potential may differ from someone else’s and it may be in a very different area of skill. Comparing apples and oranges does not make the apples or the oranges taste any different.

Most of Us Really Are Just Average

Most of us are just Joe-average, not overly talented nor underly talented.  We like to think that we (or our children) are above average (like in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone community),  We tend to overestimate our abilities even though we may not have all that much working ability.  We like to think that just by watching others (who make things look so simple) we are just as good.

When we consider all the possible skills that human beings can have, we really just come out average. We can’t be good at everything and, overall, we are really just people gifted with potential. But the untapped and undeveloped potential remains just potential and nothing more. What makes us come out of the “average”  and into the “talented arena” is really a result of our choice to dream, to persevere, to plug away, to fail, and to not ever be defeated.

But They Make it Look So Easy

Martial artists (for example) make a punch look so smooth, easy and, of course, natural. What we (the spectators) don’t factor in are all the hours of practice the martial artist has put in to master this skill and others like it.  To master this skill, the martial artist has to learn to stand in a correct stable position and twist his body to transfer the energy from his torso into the punching arm. He must clench his fist at a specific angle to avoid injury to the fingers or wrist. This skill, one of many skills in martial arts, can take many hours and failures to perfect.

I have done martial arts (9 years) and I can tell you that to be a master of any skill in the martial arts (karate in my case), it requires repetition after repetition to develop muscle memory and automatic movements. Yes, it may look easy, done by a master, but that master has had to work hard at hand-eye coordination, strategy, developing rapid responses, and anticipating the moves of opponents (sometimes several moves).  The result looks smooth and expert, but it is the result and not the practice.

The Bottom Line: We Need to Do the Time

The bottom denominator is time. Whatever we hope to accomplish and do well will require a sustained effort (and focus) over a significant amount of time. Most things are harder than they seem at the beginning; the pros just make it look easy.

The more effort we put into something over time and the longer we continue doing this, the better the results we will eventually get. The catch: most people will not try that hard. Statistically, the majority of people will eventually find that it is either too hard or takes too much effort or too much time and they eventually give up.

So if we decide to stick with it, trying hard, giving it (whatever the activity is) our best, keeping at it over time, we will eventually outdistance than those who began with more natural talent than we had.  The opportunities are there, success is available, but are we willing to try hard enough, consistently enough and long enough to improve and narrow the gap?

The Tortoise and the Hare

The hare in the story had everything going for him. Winning this race was a done deal. In fact, it was laughable racing against a tortoise – how could a slow-in-the-mud tortoise even think he had a chance?  So the hare slacked off, had some burritos under a tree and settled down for a snooze But the tortoise just kept plodding along, slow and steady.

Maybe the hare had natural skill. Maybe he was Joe-Pro strutting around.  He didn’t even need to try -he was just fast. But what he failed to realize was that the compounding effect of consistent effort over time applied by the tortoise was gaining ground. At one point his bank account of talent was not enough. The tortoise may not have had natural ability, but he certainly had perseverance -that “stackability” and that was all he needed to win.

Don’t Be Like the Hare

For those who had an easy time, there is a danger of depending on or counting on these abilities to get you through. At one point, life will catch up and this “bank account” of talent will run out. If we don’t buckle down and adopt a regular discipline, if we just sit on our laurels and think we are good enough,  those other ones (the less talented, but hard-working ones) will eventually run right past us and leave us in the dust. But, if we are one of those “gifted ones” and choose to adopt a solid work ethic, we will soar right past everyone.

Take charge

Taking charge of ourselves is a key component to success; a major player in determining what we will be able to accomplish in the course of our life, how much of an impact we will have on people around us (families and communities) and, ultimately how happy we feel as we go through life.

Seeing ourselves as an asset, something valuable that can bring enormous personal, social and monetary returns, means we are more likely to protect and grow that asset.  We need to take charge of making good choices and decisions in order to protect this asset. One of the best keys to managing ourselves well is to realize that there is a “scoreboard of life.” Everything we do will have either a positive or negative impact short and long-term, so keeping an eye on the scoreboard (how we are doing at what we are doing) is a good way to keep track of our progress and see where we can improve.

Get In and Get Wet

Going from being a spectator in life’s bleachers to actually buckling down and learning to master the skills we need to move forward can easily overwhelm us.  We begin to realize that there is a lot more to success than we imagined.   We may begin to question ourselves regarding our goals: “will we ever be able to get where we want to go?” ” Will we ever be able to succeed at it?”  “What about all those people who are already so good, will I ever be able to catch up?” “There is just too much to learn,”

Sometimes we need a jumpstart to pull us out of this “deep freeze.”  Sometimes we need to stop behaving like a deer staring at the headlights of a car, locked in panic. Sometimes we need to shake ourselves up a bit and dive in. The water will only be cold for a bit. After that, we will be on our way. We can get mad enough at ourselves to start telling ourselves a new story; we are just as able as anyone else.

Yes, We Do Need to Change

At one point we realize that we need to change some things, starting with how we think. As the saying goes:

If you want to change some things in your life, you need to change some things in your life

Of course, nothing happens overnight. Whatever skills we are trying to master, whatever business we are trying to grow may require hundred if not thousands of hours of focus and practice. It may require hundreds of failures (big and small). Naturally, It will always require perseverance and hard work. All this focus and practice, all this work will eventually make it look so easy to do in the eyes of the bleacher crowd simply because we have practiced so much, in the right way,  for enough time that we have achieved mastery.

And, We Will Be Amazed

When we have finally come through the total immersion and come out on the other side with mastered skills, we can look at the process with amazement. First off, we may be amazed that we got through it all and survived. We may be amazed by our strength, our perseverance, and our staying power. We may be amazed at all the steps we had to pass through, at all the failures and all the times we had to pick ourselves back up again and move forward. We may be amazed at the complexity of everything we had to learn to get good at what we do.

Was this post helpful to you? Let me know in a comment below and feel free to share with others,

Read Also

The Seeds of Possibility

5 Essential Factors for Success

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 


Why I Don’t Do Christmas

Category : Lifestyle

Fair warning: just saying, this post may irk some people or offend others. It is different from some of my other articles. I am not going to write a fuzzy, feel-good article on Christmas. Although I have celebrated it for most of my life, I am ready to stop playing the Christmas charade.

I recognize that there is a lot of good that goes on at this time of the year and that many people reach out to those less fortunate. I am not saying that there are not good aspects to the season and a spirit of generosity. I am actually writing about the concept of Christmas. What I have an issue with, is the confusion surrounding what exactly Christmas represents and its impact. do we really know what we are celebrating or is it just “traditions of men”?

Saint Nick Mythology

First of all, there is the whole thing with Saint Nick (Santa Clause) Mythology, which has taught generations of children to believe in a fabricated story of a more or less benevolent and somewhat judgmental character who brings gifts (whatever the kids want) to “good” children while seeming to neglect the poorer children around the world. I guess his reindeer can’t make it to these children? And of course, none of this tradition teaches children about truth, since it is based on a fabrication, which is perpetuated generation to generation.

Jesus’ Birthday? Really?

Not only is there a problem with this Saint Nick Character, but there is also a problem with saying that Christmas is all about the baby Jesus, that Jesus was “born on Christmas day”.  No, he wasn’t!! Jesus has nothing to do with Christmas and it’s not his birthday! We sing all these carols “ad nauseum”  to talk about baby Jesus and Christmas without even knowing what Christmas really is all about.

So what is it all about? Well certainly, it is not about “A White Christmas” or “Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Don’t get me started on that one). And It is certainly not about “Petit Papa Noel” either. What is Christmas?

The True History of Christmas

There is so much to be said here, so I will only give a very brief account. Christmas has deeply rooted pagan origins going back to the Babylonian Empire. Later, during the Roman Empire, there was a lot of mixing of pagan festivals and Christian beliefs. A lot of compromising was done and watering down of Christian beliefs and practices. Essentially, the Pagans celebrated the winter solstice by worshipping their “fire god” Saturn (Saturnalia), which harkens back to Semiramis (Queen of Heaven) and her son (Tammuz), the sun god.  The compromising by the Christians and the Roman Catholic church led to an agreed-upon date to celebrate Jesus (December 25th), but in actual fact, nothing changed; Semiramis became Mary and Tammuz became Jesus and life went on. The Roman Catholic church instituted Christ-mass.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men

That is what we sing, don’t we? Christmas is all about bringing peace to the world. Or is it? Well, first of all, Jesus never said anything about bringing peace to the world. in fact, he said:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; i have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Wow! harsh words. He came to bring division. That doesn’t sound like the warm, fuzzy love of Christmas.

And what does Christmas mean to all those people who live in solitude, or are just struggling to get by? What about all the people going through tough times? The huge focus on  Christmas everywhere we look all through November and December just magnifies the pain of solitude and poverty (and homelessness). What are they supposed to think with all the focus on family gatherings, parties, and extravagant gift-giving that our society promotes? Does Santa (Saturn) care about the children living on the streets or in shanty towns around the world?

What Would Jesus Think?

I highly doubt that any of the buying frenzy, serial festivities, extravagant food fests have anything remotely connected to the real Jesus. He told us to take care of the widows and the orphans. He was concerned about the sick and the down and out. He spent time with the rejected in our society. I do not think he is impressed by what we call Christmas and pretend to celebrate in his name.

I am a believer who has celebrated Christmas all my life. I never questioned it, but just accepted it for what it was. I guess you could say, I went into automatic Christmas mode each year But now, I think it is time to rethink or think about what we are doing and what we are celebrating. Knowing what I know now, I can not in all good conscience continue with the Christmas charade.

Joy to the World!

Jesus brings joy and I wish you joy in abundance. He gives us life and I wish you life in abundance. There is no need for Christmas to have these gifts.

Thank you for reading. This is just my experience and reflection. I hope it will be a starting point for your own reflection on this season.

Blessings and all the best to you and your family.

Related Articles

Five Mistakes Not to Make as a Holiday Guest

How Not to Go Broke at Christmas

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 


Visit Spectacular Panama

Category : Lifestyle

Panama: a Land of Discovery

I have awesome memories of our trip to Panama, which is squeezed between Columbia to the South and Costa Rica to the North. Geographically, it is relatively small – you can drive from one shoreline to the other in a day, It is also a country filled with a beautiful diversity (rainforest diversity and cultural diversity). It boasts a pristine rainforest, a strong cultural history, and a thriving modern economy. It has one foot in the past and the other in the future. I hope that you will enjoy this exposé in Panama.

Panama City History

Panama City is the capital of Panama and its largest city. It was founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dévile. This city was the strategic point for launching exploration and conquest expeditions in Peru, primarily in search of gold and silver. Panama was also the transition site for loading ships with gold and silver and bringing them back to Spain.

Old Panama (Panama la Vieja) contains the ruins of the original city of Panama, which was destroyed by fire in 1671. The city of Panama was rebuilt in 1673 about five miles from the original city.

Panama City Today

Panama City is located between the Pacific Ocean and the tropical rainforest in the northern part of the country. It is a city of cultural diversity. Panama City boasts an ultramodern city center complete with skyscrapers and modern architectural design. The Skyscrapers produce an impressive skyline around the bay. To get across the canal, there are two bridges, the newest being the Centennial Bridge. It gives you a bird’s eye of the Canal. But a bridge is a bridge, so it is  better to find a lookout point such as the Miraflores visitor center.

 

Panama’s Old Quarter boasts diverse architectural styles including Spanish Colonial, French and Antillean influences.

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a lock-type canal connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Its length from one shoreline to the other is about 40 miles.

Construction of the Canal was completed in August 1914. It was controlled solely by the United States from 1914 to 1979 and in December 1999, Panama gained complete control over the Canal.

Negotiating the Canal can take about 25 hours, including the wait time. Once a vessel has been authorized to pass, it can take about 10 hours to go from one end to the other.

Panama Canal is one of the very rare examples of synergy between a vast engineering project and rainforest preservation. The rainforest has been kept in pristine condition and it provides the water and hydroelectricity needed for the Canal’s operations via the Chagres River.

The Embera People & the Rainforest

The Embera tribes are the indigenous people of Columbia and Panama. They originally lived a semi-nomadic life in Darien province (South-Eastern part of Panama) However, due to the increasing dangers of Columbian guerillas and drug traffickers, they moved north to the Chagres river region of Panama. The Rio Chagres is one of the most vital rivers in Panama. It feeds into Lake Alajuela, which provides 45% of all the water required by the canal.

A National Park

In 1985 this region was turned into a national park in order to protect the Embera people and their customs as well as protect the rainforest and the flow of water into the canal.

This new development meant that the Embera had to change their semi-nomadic activities such as hunting and raising large domestic animals due to new land restrictions. Their main source of food and survival was restricted so they had to turn to other ways to help the economy of their villages.

They have recently adopted or embraced cultural tourism as a way to provide for their needs. This means that they invite visitors (tourists) to visit them in their communities to share their way of life.

Traditionally, the Embera wear very little in the way of clothing and will only really “cover-up” (tops for the women and short skirts for the men over their loincloth) when they are expecting visitors. They wear traditional body paint which serves as both an insect repellant and an antibiotic.

Meeting the Embera Locals

On our visit to one of these villages in the Gamboa Rainforest, we were picked up and escorted in a dugout canoe to the village.

The village people greeted us warmly and then the men of the village took us on a tour through the rainforest.  They showed us the plants and trees and educated us about their medicinal uses. We learned about the techniques for hunting such as using the poison of the dart frog on their arrows. We saw and learned about leaf-carrying ants as well.

 

 

 

Following this tour into the rainforest, we were welcomed back to the village with a traditional meal of plantain and fish presented on banana leaves and prepared by the women of the village. We were then shown and invited to participate in traditional. dance.

 

 

 

 

 

I highly recommend Panama as a destination to discover a warm, friendly culture, an introduction to the biodiversity of the rainforest and beautiful landscapes. And to see the engineering feat of the famous Panama canal is worth it. I encourage you to discover all the beauty Panama has to offer.

Have a great day!

Have you enjoyed this post? Please leave a comment.

Click and share below.

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

Illustrious Hearst Castle

Tags :

Category : Lifestyle

 

Where is it?

The Hearst Castle Estate, a popular tourist site, is located along California Coastal Route 1 halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco (about a 4-hour drive from either city). It is high up in the hills overlooking the village of San Simeon and has a commanding view of the ocean as well.

Who Was William Randolph Hearst?

William Randolph Hearst was the only child of George and Pheobe Hearst, millionaire parents from the gold mining industry. William was raised primarily by his mother since his father was often away on mining business (he was a mining prospector and rancher). His father, George, was described as uncouth, preferring to hang around his mining buddies and dressing shabbily, despite his great wealth. As a child, Wiliam was overly protected by his mother and lived a very sheltered life. William is described as being a bit of a mischevious child who often pulled pranks around the house. He is described as being “difficult to discipline”.

When he was 10 years old, his mother took him on an 18-month tour of Europe. Even at this young age, Hearst was greatly impressed by what he saw in the culture, architecture, and art of Europe.

A lot can be said about William Randolph Hearst – that he was this and he was that,  that he had opportunities handed to him etc. etc. All the things that were written about him (and his character) may be legitimate, but let’s keep the focus on what he accomplished with a dream.  He was a man who appreciated art and was an eager student, despite not being a fan of formal education.

From Camping to Castle

The original plan was to build a bungalow (a family retreat) on ” Camp Hill” at the top of the family ranch. He wanted to build the main house and some guest houses to have something “more comfortable” than the platform tents they had. That is what he told architect Julia Morgan, with whom he would collaborate for 28 years building the castle. The family would regularly go “camping” at the ranch (probably more like “glamping” than camping) and he wanted to have a regular place to go to get away.

After the death of his mother, Pheobe Hearst (influenza epidemic), Willam Hearst became the inheritor of the family estate, including 250,000 acres of land.

Right from the beginning, William Hearst commissioned Julia Morgan (graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts) to start working with him on the project. They would work together over the next 28 years on what would become “La Cuesta Encantada” or The Enchanted Hill. The project evolved into a collection of luxurious buildings, the main one being Hearst Castle, inspired by European architecture and art.

The Main Building

The main building, Hearst Castle, was built in the Mediterranean – Moorish style. It resembles a Spanish cathedral complete with bell towers. There are 115 rooms including 38 bedrooms, about 40 bathrooms, a theatre, and a beauty salon. The main dining room served as an inspiration for the dining room hall in Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series.

Guest Houses

There are three guests houses as well: Casa Del Mar, Casa Del Sol and Casa Del Montes. Below is one of them, though I do not know which of them it is.

The Indoor Pool

The indoor pool is a beautiful creation inspired by the ancient Roman baths. It is made from blue and gold colored tiles inside the pool as well as the walls and ceiling.

The Neptune Pool

The outdoor Neptune pool is surrounded by sculptures and collonades and has the facade of a Roman Temple at one end.

credit: Hearst Castle / California State Park/ V. Garagliano

The Gardens

All around the main building and guest houses are magnificent European and Californian inspired gardens,

William Randolph Hearst: Citizen Kane?

Much has been written about William Randolph Hearst possibly being the inspiration behind the 1941 movie “Citizen Kane“(Orson Wells). One thing is very clear, William Hearst did everything he could to prevent the movie from being released, from refusing to have it advertised in his newspapers, to using his Hollywood connections as leverage. Despite his efforts, he was unable to prevent the release of Citizen Kane.

There certainly were some striking similarities between the two men (Kane being fictional). Both built publishing empires, both built extravagant mansions, and both had relationship voids despite being surround by and entertaining many people. In contrast to William Hearst, who was born into wealth, Citizen Kane rose from a life of poverty to a life of wealth.

Whether or not he is Charles Foster Kane, many people associated William Randolph Hearst with the character in Citizen Kane and imagined him wandering throughout his massive estate alone, surrounded by opulence, driven by power, but starving for deep human relationships.

A National Treasure

Today The Hearst Castle Estate is now Hearst San Simeon Historical Monument and registered with California State Parks. There are daily tours to tour the premises.

Conclusion: Hearst Castle is definitely a worthwhile stop if you happen to be visiting South California. Despite the colorful history of its builder and owner, it remains, as well a testimony to the power of a dream. You will definitely be inspired as you travel throughout the buildings and the grounds.

Have you enjoyed this post? Please leave a comment.

Please click to share with others.

 

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca


Change It up – Do Something Different!

Category : Lifestyle , Success

Have you ever found yourself in a rut where nothing seems to be advancing in your life? You wake up each with discouragement induced brain fog. No matter how hard you try you feel like your life is just spinning its wheels. Somedays you feel like a hamster going round and round, but not getting anywhere in particular. Sometimes it feels like the hamster wheel comes to an abrupt stop and you fall off and end up staring at the ceiling wondering to yourself “Is this all there is”?

There are different kinds of ruts. Maybe you are in a relationship rut. Maybe your dating life seems about as exciting as watching wet paint dry. Maybe your marriage life is in a drought and will need a firehose to revive it. Maybe you feel stuck in a job that does not inspire you, but you go in day after day because it pays the bills. We have all been there. Ruts just bring us down or put us into an automatic pilot mode.

Time for a Change?

Some of us just want something to change, but we have no idea how that will happen. We are looking for that magic bullet, that magic wand to just wave us out of the doldrums of our life and into a new life of something meaningful, something where we feel we are actually going somewhere and doing something of importance.

So, what can we do to change things? Is there any hope for us?. Well, actually there is. We can climb out of this “depth of despair”, as Anne of Green Gables famously and dramatically called her difficult life situations. We can change things up, we can make things happen.

Expose Yourself to New Things

Yes, that is right! We can show our brains all kinds of new things: new experiences, new ways of seeing things. We can take ourselves to new places, even within our own city. Why not go visit car dealers shops and take the cars for a test drive. You don’t actually have to plan on buying them. What you are looking for are new experiences. Why not go visit a million dollar house that is on the market? Go for a tour. Why not?  Try on new clothes (ones you can’t normally afford).  Go to a travel agency and get brochures of places you would like to visit.

What you are doing here is expanding, stretching your mind. You are giving yourself permission to dream again. Doing this – trying new things, seeing new things – will set your mind to believing that you too can dream and accomplish what you thought was too late for you or just for other people. And always make your dream bigger than your reality.

Decide

It really begins here, with a decision. That is really the first step. It is also the hardest and scariest step for most of us. But, really, nothing happens without a decision. It has been said that successful people are “quick to make decisions and slow to change their mind.”

What does this mean? It means that they get the information they need, they evaluate the data and make a decision. and once they have made their decision, they stick with it and manage it. They choose to ‘”stay in their lane.” The decision may not look like much and it may come with risks. Maybe they don ‘t have all the facts and most likely they can’t see the end of the road, but they stick to their guns and dive in.

This “making a decision” thing can apply to whatever we want to change, whether it be our financial situation, our parenting, our work situation or other. We simply have to decide to decide.

Change Your Thoughts

Any computer analyst will tell you that the output is dependant on the input. If good data goes in, then there will be good output on the other end. How do we get better input? Well, we need to change what information we are allowing into our mind. The fact is, the information we have received up until now is largely what has brought us to where we are in life. We need to get new and better information and throw out the baggage we have been used to, including the suitcases.

Whether it comes to changing your health, your fitness level or anything else in life, new information and new associations will change things for you. Get around new people who are going in the direction you want to go. If you want to improve your health or fitness, wouldn’t it make sense to get around people who are pursuing health goals? Now, of course, this doesn’t mean get rid of your friends and family; It just means associating with people who think differently and are getting the results you want.

Keep up the Momentum

Once you decide and are geared to make a change, it needs to become a habit. A habit takes 63 days (roughly just over 2 months) to solidify. so don’t give up. Stay on the path. Stay in your lane.

Find your motivation. Most of us have a 2-week motivation to go to work (pay check to pay check) and that is what keeps us going to work each day. It’s time to find a new motivation, one that comes from you, rather than a boss, whether it is a desire to change a situation you are tired of, or whether you are chasing a dream. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Ask for guidance from people who can help you. And most importantly, stay away from the “whiners and complainers” – they will only discourage you.

Finish What You Start

Winston Churchhill famously said:

Never, ever give up.

Don’t quit, don’t get distracted and don’t fall back. Be kind to yourself and take your new path in small steps. Every day, do something that is moving you forward toward your goal, whether it is reading a new book or talking with someone who can help you. Don’t sabotage the progress you have made by compromising or slacking off (a bit). Remember, the couch is not the best place to find motivated people.

No matter what, time will pass. Time is a relentless thief that will steal your time away from you when you are not looking. We need to redeem the time and make the most of the time we have to do what only we can do. Don’t let time take away the precious moments you could have used to change things in your life.

Know that You Have a Destiny

We were not born to just pay the bills and try to get by. We are worth so much more than that. We have so much to offer the world, but how will the world know what we have to offer if we don’t even know ourselves because we never believed we could do more and be more?

The economic world we live in loves for us is to stimulate the economy, pay our taxes and be “good” citizens. While none of these are wrong, we have greater contributions to make and a bigger impact to have on the world. There are people whose lives we can change and places we can discover. There are new inventions to create and books to write about.

Be bold, be courageous. Don’t hold back from doing what only you can do. Have questions bigger than your answers. Always go deeper than what you know and remember that in the end, we will never know it all.

Have a great day!

Has this post inspired you? Please leave a comment below.

Read Also

How to Be the Person Everyone Likes

Be Flexible and Win at Life

What is Going On in Your Canoe?

 

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

The Unforgettable Route 66

Tags :

Category : Lifestyle

Unforgettable and Fun Things to See on Route 66

Traveling along Route 66 is quite the experience. I really had no idea what to expect from this adventure or what we were in for. I hope that you will enjoy this post as wee explore some of the fun and curious things we saw along the way.

The Beginning

It begins in Chicago, Illinois. This city is well known for many reasons, not the least of them is Al Capone (Scarface), notorious gangster and businessman during the Prohibition era.  Chicago has many beautiful treasures, one of them being its beautiful lakeside front and downtown water canals.

  

So, We Begin Our Journey

Illinois

Travelling through the cornfields of Illinois, we saw these – Follow the yellow – no, red, I mean the red brick road –

and visit the  Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois  Don’t forget to visit the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site – the final resting place of the 16th president.

Missouri

A stop in St Louis to get some perspective:

The Gateway Arch reflects the role of St. Louis in the opening up of the West (Thomas Jefferson). St. Louis is also famous for the Dred Scott Trial (Dred and Hariette Dred) where the Dred couple filed in court for their freedom.

and a bite to eat at Angelo,s Taverna

Then we headed on our way toward, Missouri (Cuba) and stayed in this quaint hotel (The Wagon Wheel Hotel)

And ate at this wonderful country restaurant Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q right beside the Wagon Wheel hotel.

Don’t miss this little outpost store, not far from the Wagon Wheel hotel and the “biggest Rocking Chair in the world.”

Kansas

Look at this cute little fire hydrant we spotted in a small Kansas town on our way as well as the cars that inspired the movie by the same name: Cars

Sometimes we hit a few obstacles:

But we were soon back on the road again.-

Oklahoma

And onwards toward Oklahoma

Stop in and visit the Will Rogers Memorial & Museum (Claremore). Will Rogers was an Oklahoma country boy (of partly Cherokee heritage) who began actin in Wild West shows and then later, Vaudeville and ultimately Broadway. Rogers was also a nationally known writer (social moral issues of the day).

Texas

Here is another quaint restaurant: Pedro’s Bar and Grill

on our way into Texas

They say everything is big in Texas – this is the biggest cross I have ever seen –

In Groom, Texas, you will find this gem measuring 190 feet and reputed to be the tallest cross in the Northern Hemisphere.

And there are wide open spaces for growing anything (Cadillac Ranch)

Cadillac Ranch is a living, dynamic artwork /sculpture that invites participation (bring your spray paint). It has a bit of a quirky past, but essentially represents the “Golden Age” of the American automobile. You can find this gem just west of Amarillo, Texas on Old Route 66.

The Leaning Tower of – Texas?

Also in Groom, Texas

New Mexico

And we are off.. again.. en route for New Mexico…

And Albuquerque

Albuquerque is located on the upper edges of the Chihuahuan Desert in one of the highest elevated regions in the United States. The Old Historic Town was founded in 1706 by Spanish families. The brown adobe architecture is a Pueblo-Spanish style.

Arizona

Now to cross the Continental Divide…. on the way to Arizona

Sometimes you can be on the wrong side, but don’t worry, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel –  on our way to Arizona.

Take a step back in time as you drive into Oatman, Arizona, an old mining ghost town that still continues to thrive. Come to walk among the donkeys that are regulars around town.

  

Here is what we encountered on our way into Oatman

Meteor Crater

This meteor crater is the world’s best-preserved meteor impact site. It is located along Route 66 in Northern Arizona, near Winslow. The crater is nearly one mile wide and 550 feet deep.

Grand Canyon –

No need for a bio on the Grand Canyon. It is simply massive and very beautiful.

California

Along Route 66, don’t miss the Bagdad Café – made famous by the movie of the same name.

In Newberry Springs, California, on Old Route 66, you will find the Bagdad Café – in the middle of nowhere, but somewhere in the Mojave Desert. There is not much of anything for miles around – just sand and heat and dust.

Sometimes along this lonely road, you may find it necessary to rethink your path-

But, you will know you are almost there when –

And, all of a sudden –  you have made it!!

 

Now to explore the destination –

 

A little bit of Los Angeles

And a little fun at Universal Studios –

and me with a couple of my buddies –

 

Cheers to Route 66

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

 

Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

Discover Amazing Golden Milk

These days, it’s all about the turmeric in health circles. It is making waves in scientific studies and anecdotal experience.  Golden Milk, made with turmeric, is becoming very popular. And the taste is awesome.  It gives a new definition to the “Hot Toddy.” I think it is safe to say that if you haven’t tried Golden Milk yet, you have been missing out.

So what is Golden Milk? It is an ancient beverage, typically consumed warm, from Ayurvedic medicine and is known for its delicious taste and numerous therapeutic, health benefits.  In Ayurvedic tradition, this drink was taken to fight off colds, congestion, sore throats and headaches. Beginning in India, thousands of years ago, the drink has made its way across the world and now the main component, turmeric (curcumin), is being studied for these and other health benefits. Some other benefits attributed to turmeric are:

  • blood purifier
  • antibacterial
  • antiinflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • aids in digestion
  • aids in cancer therapies such as radiation
  • aids in brain function

Ingredients

Golden milk ingredients (livingandstuff.ca)

Here are the main ingredients you will want to have in your Golden Milk:

Coconut oil –  makes it easier (the fats) for our bodies to absorb the curcumin in the turmeric root. Curcumin is the main compound we are looking to absorb.

Coconut oil contains healthy saturated fats that satiate as well as protect our brain against degenerative diseases.

Black pepper – The piperine in black pepper seems to be able to activate the curcumin to make it more bioavailable to our bodies. It makes the curcumin more potent.

Turmeric– either fresh grated or raw ground turmeric powder. I prefer the ground turmeric powder because it is easier to mix and I can keep it for longer. Tumeric is an anti-inflammatory root, similar to ginger root.

Coconut milk- the original recipe used milk, but I think coconut milk tastes better and is healthier

Honey -.Raw honey is best because of the enzymes contained in raw honey. Honey also has antibacterial properties.

Other ingredients– you can also add cinnamon or ginger to add more spice, some might want to add in some ginger as well. Cinnamon has anti-oxidants and helps to regulate blood sugar. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It will also help to take away some of the bitterness of the turmeric root.

Directions

Add all ingredients except the (raw) honey to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently.

Boil for about 10 min. until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Boiling also takes away some of the bitter taste of the turmeric.

After 10 min; remove the saucepan from the burner and cool for 10-15 min.

Add the raw honey and mix thoroughly. The honey will give the mixture a cohesive paste texture as well as add a pleasant taste.

Put the paste into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator. It should keep well for a minimum of 2-3 weeks.

Golden paste (livingandstuff.ca)

Some Ways to Use Golden Paste

  • in smoothies
  • as a topping for pumpkin pie
  • in coffee
  • in Golden milk
  • as a broth (omit the raw honey)
  • in a salad dressing
  • in soups (omit the raw honey)

Other Uses

  • as a face mask
  • as a poultice for inflamed skin or sprains
  • as a whitening toothpaste (omit the raw honey and add baking soda and coconut oil)
  • as a skin soother for sunburns and poison ivy breakout (mix with aloe vera gel)

Conclusion:

There is no reason not to try golden milk or paste and add to your daily routine. With such outstanding health benefits and versatility, it merits becoming a staple in every home. From a warming drink in the evening to a tooth whitening paste, there is something for everyone. Why not give it a try?

Has this information been helpful to you? Let me know in a comment.

 

Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

Quebec City – My City – Ma Ville

Category : Lifestyle

livingandstuff.ca

La Porte St. Louis (livingandstuff.ca)

So In Love With My City

What is not to love about beautiful Quebec City?  It is a city that meshes the charm and drama of the 1600s with the modern landscapes and lifestyle of the 21st century. It is a citywhere cannons and fortress walls meet cafés and shoe shops. Perched high on a cape overlooking the majestic St Lawrence River, upstream and down, and the city of Lévis on the opposite shore, the city of Quebec literally commands respect.

Let’s Begin Our Tour: The Upper Town

A walking tour around the city will bring you up and down steep hills and along twisting streets between the upper and lower towns. Of course, you can always go up and down on the funiculaire, if you don’t fancy going up and down the Breakneck Stairs. Driving around the old city can be a bit tricky if you are not used to a city full of one-way streets. Parking is not easy either. It is best to do the city on foot if you are able.

Le Chateau Frontenac (livingandstuff.ca)

Two stone archway gates serve as entrances to the city: Port St. Louis and Port St. Jean, the first leading down St. Louis Street lined with restaurants to the emblem of the city: The Chateau Frontenac and the second leading into St. Jean street area lined with shops. Just outside the gate is the Carré d’Youville where there is an outdoor skating rink in the winter and any number of activities (outdoor cinema, concerts) during the summer. This is also the location of the Le Capital theatre ( a picturesque old cabaret-style theatre) as well as the more modern Montcalm theatre.

L’esplanade (livingandstuff.ca)

And Now for the Lower Town

Going down to the lower town, which you can access either by taking the funiculaire or byg oing down all the stairs to the bottom, you will find the cradle of North America as defined and settled by the French colonists. Here you will find narrow cobbled streets reminiscent of the 1600s. Right in the center of this lower town is Place Royal, which was the social and business center of the original city of Quebec. This is a town square surrounded by 17th- century houses/buildings. It was here that everything happened from the market to politics to public reprimands.

Meet Samuel de Champlain

Every August this town square hosts a colonial market complete with townspeople dressed in 1600s French-style dress. Samuel de Champlain is a regular character around town. You will also meet the locals: the women at the market, the town priest, the fur trappers, the native Americans ( and others) as well as have an opportunity to become involved in the local “gossip” of the town. Walking through the square and the neighboring streets, you will likely meet up with Samuel de Champlain. He is certainly hard to miss dressed in a royal blue aristocratic ensemble. Here is your chance to ask him all the questions you want.

La Petite Champlain (livingandstuff.ca)

La Rue la Petite Champlain

The Breakneck Stairs (livingandstuff.ca)

At the bottom of the Breakneck Stairs, you will find yourself on the historic rue de la Petite Champlain, a beautiful, romantic street lined with shops that promote local designers and artisans (clothing, jewelry, shoes, and boots, and much more). There are locally known restaurants such as Le Lapin Sauté (“off the wall rabbit”)  and Le Cochon Dingue (“The Crazy Pig”) to enjoy a meal. Next to the Lapin Sauté is a little park with bench swings and Muskoka chairs, to relax in and take in the activity and music of street musicians. This street is my absolute favorite street in the city. It is energizing and inspiring and filled with activity. The shops are decorated with floral arrangements. And, at Christmas time, this beautiful street becomes even more spectacular with the festive lights and decorations illuminating the snow of the season.

Le Lapin Sauté (livingandstuff.ca)

Let’s Head Over to the Market

Down a bit from Place Royal along Blvd. Champlain ( a road that runs alongside the St. Lawrence River) is the port where you can often see cruise ships docked, marina activities and summer concerts and shows. If you go along this street towards the North East you will go past the art galleries and restaurants and come to the local farmer’s market near the marina-great place to stock up on local food and artisanal culinary creations. Just a little bit further and you will see our beautifully designed train station (La Gare de Train), keeping in line with the architecture of the city.

La Porte St. Louis (livingandstuff.ca)

Here Ends the Tour

Here is the end of our tour. I hope you enjoyed your virtual time in Quebec City.  It truly is a city to put on your bucket list of places to see. You may end up staying a while.  I hope that you will come by to visit our beautiful city, a city of charm, historical drama, excellent cuisine for every taste and budget, as well as ample opportunities to work off the calories.

Rue Ste. Anne (Livingandstuff.ca)

along Blvd. Champlain (livingandstuff.ca)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great day!

Related Posts

Spectacular Panama

The Unforgettable Route 66

Illustrious Hearst Castle

How to Avoid Cultural Body Language Faux Pas

The Breathtaking Magdalen Islands- A Summer Paradise

Was this post helpful to you? Please leave a comment below.

Click and share

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 


Weird and Wonderful Kombucha

Category : Life Tips , Lifestyle

It’s Getting Around Town

Kombucha.  You’ve probably seen it somewhere. Maybe you’ve seen it at the grocery store alongside other drinks and paid no attention to it. Maybe you have wandered into a “Hipster Hangout” at a local vegetarian or vegan “café, Or maybe you have one of those friends who is fanatical about “growing things” in their kitchen and you have seen “something” growing in jars on their kitchen counter. It is likely that you have come into contact with this “on the rise” drink.

The New Health Baby on the Block

Kombucha has a bubbly, tangy taste to it. When you first try it, you don’t quite know what to make of it. The bottle ingredients may say that it is a cherry flavor or raspberry flavor, so you may expect a fruity drink. Well, it is that, but it seems to taste more like a fruity beer with maybe a twist of vinegar than a fruit drink.  In fact, you might even believe it is actually beer since the taste is so similar, except it has that fruity taste as well.  And it is… really.. bubbly.

We may have tried it because of all the “health hype” about it. It is the new thing to try,  Kombochu is the new healthy baby on the block and we don’t want to in the dark about what it is. So we try it just to say that we have.

So, What Is it?

Basically, Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented for a period of 1-3 weeks. The cloudy “floaty bits” floating around in it are called the SCOBY -some call it a mushroom.

A Bit of History

So where does it come from?  It seems that everything old is new again – new to us, that is. Kombucha was originally consumed in ancient China – about 2,200 years ago. It was revered for its detoxifying and energizing qualities. But, of course, it didn’t remain an “ancient Chinese secret”, Kombucha traveled on to Russia through trade routes and then eventually found its way into Eastern Europe. Around the time of WWII, Kombucha made its way into Germany and then later France and Northern Africa.

Fascinating Kombucha Facts

(1)  Don’t spill Kombucha on your rubber shoes

The acid in the Kombucha together with the friction from the rubber will eat at your skin. It is better to wash it off straight away.

(2) It’s not a mushroom and It is alive!

The “floaty thing” is often called a mushroom (as in a fungus). It is not a mushroom at all, but is, instead, a biofilm ( a cellulose particle) which is produced by bacteria.

(3) It’s like beer

Depending on how long the kombucha has been left to ferment, the alcohol content can range from between 0.5% and 5%. So it really is like beer and drinking enough of it….well.. you could (maybe) get drunk on it.

(4) It’s Chinese

Kombucha is said to have originated in China (The North-Eastern part) around 220 B.C.

(5) It gets things moving

All the probiotics in Kombucha certainly help the metabolism and the digestive process to speed things up. So, the bathroom routine may definitely improve.

(6) It can be turned into clothing -seriously!

The bacteria in Kombucha from microfilm which can be made into the fabric with a leather-like texture. From it, we can make shirts, shoes, coats and more.

(7) It can be addictive

People do develop an addiction to this drink, but not as much as coffee or tea.

 

Some Health Benefits of Kombucha

It seems that the probiotics, the B vitamins and the acidic compounds in Kombucha are responsible for most of the healthful benefits derived from drinking Kombucha.

(1) Kombucha may help with anxiety and other mood disorders

“In conclusion, the emerging concept of a gut microbiota-brain axis suggests that the modulation of the gut microbiota may provide a novel therapeutic target for the treatment and/or prevention of mood and anxiety disorders.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25470391 

(2) Kombucha may boost the immune system

“These data show that probiotics can be used as innovative tools to alleviate intestinal inflammation, normalize gut mucosal dysfunction, and down-regulate hypersensitivity reactions. More recent data show that differences exist in the immunomodulatory effects of candidate probiotic bacteria. Moreover, distinct regulatory effects have been detected in healthy subjects and in patients with inflammatory diseases. These results suggest that specific immunomodulatory properties of probiotic bacteria should be characterized when developing clinical applications for extended target populations.”

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/73/2/444s/4737576

(3) Kombucha may decrease the incidence of heart disease

“Probiotics create acids that counter cholesterol production: As probiotic bacteria absorb fiber from the intestines, they generate acids. One of the specific acids, i.e. propionic acid, reduces the production of cholesterol by the liver.

Probiotics break down liver bile acids: Bile acids assist the body in digesting fats, and the liver produces these bile acids from cholesterol. The liver recycles bile acids and utilizes them over and over. Probiotics break down bile acids and, therefore, the liver has to make additional bile acids, using up more cholesterol in the progression.”

Probiotics actually eat cholesterol: Probiotic bacteria have been shown to break down cholesterol and use it for nourishment.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023901/

(4) Kombucha may fight yeast infection

“…exhibiting the most important inhibition zone observed against the Candida strains tested (Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, Candida sake, Candida dubliniensis, and Candida albicans). In view of their antimicrobial activity demonstrated against a range of pathogenic bacteria and against a number of clinical Candida species, the fermented L. citriodora and F. vulgare may be very healthful.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643812000023

(5) Kombucha may help with type II diabetes

“The findings revealed that kombucha tea administration induced attractive curative effects on diabetic rats, particularly in terms of liver-kidney functions. Kombucha tea can, therefore, be considered as a potentially strong candidate for future application as a functional supplement for the treatment and prevention of diabetes..”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3403982/

The Downside of Kombucha

(1) Ketoacidosis

Overconsumption or daily consumption may lead to acidosis, which is an abnormally high level of acid in the blood (the ph drops below 7.35).  To be fair, one would have to drink a whole lot of kombucha to get acidosis.

The symptoms of acidosis include: confusion, headaches, tiredness, shaking and rapid breathing or shortness of breath. If acidosis is left unattended to, it can lead to serious medical emergency conditions of brain damage, coma and it may even lead to death.

For more information on acidosis read:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001181.htm

(2) Lead poisoning

Lead poisoning is a risk depending on how the kombucha was brewed. If it was brewed in a pot that contains ceramic, clay, lead crystals or paint, the acid in the brew will draw out and absorb the lead in the pot.

There are many symptoms of lead poisoning which may include: headaches, stomach pains, sleep problems, constipation, tiredness, irritability, loss of appetite, numbness in the extremities.

Homebrewing needs to be done with careful attention to the pots used and measures are taken to test for traces of lead. If strict procedures are followed, then there should not be an issue with lead poisoning.

(3) Mold and pathogen contamination

This risk is higher in the home-brewed and ‘raw’ (unpasteurized) varieties and usually only if and when certain precautions are not taken. Without going into detail on this subject, it is important to make sure that proper fermentation procedure is followed (length of time, no exposure to direct sunlight or to other objects -cross-contamination) and sanitary guidelines are respected.

Kombucha purchased commercially usually does not have mold and pathogen issues because it has been properly tested.

(4) Kombucha can be addictive

Kombucha contains caffeine (it is made from fermented tea, after all). The high quantity of sugar in it also makes you want to drink more and more.  Initially, it makes you feel good and energized, so of course, you want to get this feeling over and over.

(5)  High acidity

The acidic level in kombucha should be a warning signal to people with IBS or other digestive issues.

Also, there may be the possibility of wearing away the enamel on your teeth with regular consumption. the takeaway on kombucha?

The Takeaway

Kombucha has an interesting history and appears to have several health benefits (for having been around for so long).  Most of the health benefits appear to be centered around the probiotic content of the drink more than anything else. The health studies done specifically on Kombucha are practically (almost) inexistent (for whatever reason).  The lack of studies does not necessarily make it unhealthy (or healthy); it is just that the benefits seem to be largely based on anecdotal evidence together with the current understanding of the health benefits of probiotics.

If a person is generally in good health, drinks kombucha in moderation (not becoming obsessed and fanatical about it) and obtains the kombucha from a reputable source (I do not know enough about homebrewing to endorse it), then there should be no problem enjoying this sweet, tangy and bubbly drink.

So, pour yourself a glass of “bubbly” and raise a toast to life. Life is for Living, after all!

Was this post helpful to you?  Leave a comment below to you? Let me know your thoughts

Click and share below
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

Perplexing Chocolate Facts

Category : Lifestyle

We Love Our Chocolate, Don’t We?

We love it as a drink, in a chocolate bar, in cake, in ice cream, and in numerous other ways. It is a gift we like to give and receive. We celebrate special holidays with chocolate, adding in flavors such as mint, raspberry, and many others.  Chocolate is enjoyed around the world, crossing all cultural boundaries. Chocolate makes us feel good, we believe. And chocolate is associated with love and romance (Valentine’s Day).  We sometimes even say that chocolate is “decadent” when our chosen dessert or snack is brimming with chocolate. Yes, indeed, we love our chocolate!

Some Little Known Facts About Chocolate

(1) Chocolate inspired the invention of the microwave

A scientist who was working on WWI radar and weapon projects also happened to be a  chocolate fan and probably always had some on hand. As it turns out, he had some chocolate in his pocket and noticed that the chocolate softened fairly quickly when he was near a device called a magnetron. He thought that maybe the magnetron would make it possible to heat up food quickly – and the microwave was born.

(2) Chocolate actually does make us happy (for a time)

Chocolate contains different chemicals including tryptophan, which through a chemical process can when we eat chocolate, bring us into a state of euphoria.

(3) Chocolate was once used as currency

The Aztecs and the Mayans placed an extremely high value on the cocoa bean and considered chocolate to be the “Food of the Gods”. To them, it was like “gold.”  They would exchange cocoa beans for the goods and services they needed.

(4) Chocolate may protect against tooth decay

Pure cocoa (without the sugar) contains natural chemicals that can fight against the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Maybe one day there will be “cocoa toothpaste” (if it doesn’t exist already).

(5) Too much chocolate can kill you

It’s true; chocolate can kill (for all you “Death by Chocolate” fans). Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which, if taken in very high doses, can cause heart failure, seizures, kidney failure, and dehydration. It is highly unlikely that we would consume the amount of chocolate required for this to happen, but dogs, which are much smaller, only require a small amount of chocolate to bring about these symptoms. so. no chocolate for Fido!!

(6) Chocolate slices created for your sandwiches

There is a company in Japan that specializes in making chocolate slices (similar to cheese slices) for sandwiches and, probably, more importantly, to make chocolate flower decorations (by the very skilled, of course).

(7) There may be bugs in your chocolate

A chocolate bar can typically contain about 8 insect parts. The FDA still considers this safe. When the proportion goes beyond 60 insect parts per 100 grams, then it would be considered unsafe to eat. But let’s not worry. Today, you can find many opportunities to eat chocolate-covered insects (grasshoppers and maggots), right? So. no worries!

A Bit of History

Chocolate found its beginnings in what is now called Mexico about 4,ooo years ago when the first cocoa plants were found. One of the earliest civilizations in the region -the Olmec- were the pioneers in transforming the cocoa bean into a bitter chocolate drink. Later, this bitter drink was named “xocolat” by the Mayans.

Chocolate was considered by the Mayans and the Aztecs to be the “Food of the Gods” It was used in the sacred rituals of birth, marriage, and death. It was also given to victims being sacrificed as a way to “cheer them up” and was often tainted with the blood of previous sacrificial victims.

The Spanish Conquistadors were introduced to this bitter drink and brought it back to Europe’s upper class.  Eventually chocolate moved beyond the upper classes and into the general population. In the 19th century innovation led to creating solid chocolate, milk chocolate (Switzerland: Daniel Peter) and, of course, lots of sugar.

Today we may wonder if the ancient Mayan and Aztec would even recognize the drink they once called: The Food of the Gods.”

 

So, Is Chocolate Really a Health Food or a Superfood?

Chocolate, especially high percentage dark chocolate, has been hailed, in recent years as one of the superfoods of the 21st century. Many health claims have been attributed to this bitter seed from the rainforests of South and Central America and the African varieties. It seems, from all the studies, that chocolate may:

  • lower blood pressure
  • improve blood circulation
  • protect skin from sun damage
  • improve vision
  • improve brain function
  • fight off disease

These are some of the claims associated with eating chocolate. They all seem plausible and cocoa is natural, isn’t it? And what about the overwhelming number of studies that substantiate these claims? What are we, the consumers and chocolate lovers, to make of all this?

Is It Good to Eat?

First of all,  even if these study results are all legitimate, who would seriously want to eat chocolate (cocoa) without the sugar – no sugar at all? Not too many of us, I would guess. Even the rainforest animals enjoy nibbling away at the tangy tasting pulp surrounding the seeds but will spit the bitter seeds out on the ground. What do they know that we don’t? Clearly, they are not buying into the health benefits of the cocoa bean pod seeds.  It seems that, cocoa. by itself, is not ideal for consumption and that is why we need to sweeten it up.  We are certainly, today, very far from the “Food of the Gods” version, aren’t we?

When and why did all this interest in chocolate health properties appear? Chocolate has been with us for a very long time, so when did it become a superfood and how?

Heavy Investing?

It seems that for the past 30 years or so, major chocolate producing companies have been investing heavily into “scientific studies and research grants” that are more favorable to the study of cocoa. The result of all this industry investment is that dark chocolate has skyrocketed into the sphere of “health food stardom.” Yet, despite the massive amounts of money poured into research, the long-term health benefits of cocoa are still questionable.

Vox had this to say about chocolate (cocoa) research studies:

“Here at Vox, we examined 100 Mars-funded health studies and found they overwhelmingly drew glowing conclusions about cocoa and chocolate — promoting everything from chocolate’s heart health benefits to cocoa’s ability to fight disease. This research — and the media hype it inevitably attracts — has yielded a clear shift in the public perception of the products.”

“Mars and [other chocolate companies] made a conscious decision to invest in science to transform the image of their product from a treat to health food,” said New York University nutrition researcher Marion Nestle (no relation to the chocolate maker). “You can now sit there with your [chocolate bar] and say I’m getting my flavonoids.”

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/10/18/15995478/chocolate-health-benefits-heart-disease

And the Guardian adds:

Prof Marion Nestle, a nutritional scientist at New York University, uses the word “nutrifluff” to describe “sensational research findings of a single food or nutrient based on one, usually highly preliminary, the study”. She points out that most studies on chocolate and health get industry funding, but journalists generally fail to highlight this. “Industry-funded research tends to set up questions that will give them desirable results, and tends to be interpreted in ways that are beneficial to their interests,” she says.

 A Few of the Health Claims of (Dark) Chocolate

(1) Chocolate may improve blood circulation and decrease blood pressure

“More good news for chocolate lovers: A new Harvard study finds that eating a small square of dark chocolate daily can help lower blood pressure for people with hypertension.”

“The study joins the growing research into the heart-healthy benefits of flavonoids, compounds in unsweetened chocolate that cause dilation of the blood vessels. The Harvard study was announced today in Atlanta at the American Heart Association’s science session on cardiovascular disease. “

https://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-03-2011/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-your-blood-pressure.html

(2) Chocolate may protect skin from sun damage

“Our study demonstrated that regular consumption of a chocolate rich in flavanols confers significant photoprotection and can thus be effective at protecting human skin from harmful UV effects. Conventional chocolate has no such effect.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19735513

(3) Chocolate improves brain function

“In Dr. Berk’s findings, eating chocolate with 70 percent cacao was shown to increase communication involved in a number of immune responses, such as T-cell activation, cellular immune response and genes involved in neural signaling and sensory perception, associated with the brains ability to adapt and learn new information and skills, according to a press release of the study.”

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/apr/26/eating-dark-chocolate-improves-brain-function-new-/

(4) Chocolate may be helpful in improving vision

More than 70 percent of the people scored significantly higher on the vision tests after eating the dark chocolate bar than they did after the milk bar.

One category that saw the biggest enhancement was contrast sensitivity, which is the ability to distinguish between light and dark values especially in situations of low light, fog or glare. Driving at night is an example of an activity that requires good contrast sensitivity for safety.”

http://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2018/06/27/good-news-research-suggests-that-dark-chocolate-could-improve-your-eyesight/

There Are Some Downsides

(1) Chocolate may weaken bones

“Increased chocolate consumption was associated with lower mean bone density at all the measured sites. When the researchers took into account other factors, such as age, BMI and lifestyle, that could potentially affect this relationship, they found that some of these relationships (e.g. when bone density and strength were measured in the shin) were no longer significant.”

https://www.nhs.uk/news/older-people/chocolate-causes-weak-bones/

(2) Chocolate may have a negative effect on moods

“You can see the problem: the tyramine and PEA in chocolate may slow each other’s metabolism. The consequence is having both of these chemicals hang around too long in the body would be high blood pressure, a fast-beating heart, heightened arousal, racing thoughts, anger,anxiety, and rage.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/your-brain-food/201011/chocolate-the-good-the-bad-and-the-angry

(3) Chocolate is high in fat and sugar

“Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar.”

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/

So, what are we to conclude?

There is so much confusing information out there. Is chocolate healthy, or is it just a hyped “superfood?” There are certainly more than enough studies to highlight its health benefits, but, as we have seen, the studies are funded for marketing purposes. I don’t think we should stop eating chocolate for all of this, but, everything in moderation, right? So go ahead, enjoy a bit of chocolate. Life is too short to worry about the details.

Have a great day!
Has this post been helpful to you?
Click and share
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 


error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email
Facebook