Do I Like Work?

When in the early phases of the gardens here at Agnus Dei hermitage,  Joyful Hermit considered a small gazebo to be built fairly close to the subdivision pond.  A man came who builds such garden structures, and JH showed the approximate area.  The man could not begin the project for a few weeks.  Fine.

In the meantime, Joyful collected interesting items to incorporate in the structure.  Another man who was laying stone paths and patios worked steadily, with upbeat attitude and creative spirit.  He also planted the larger trees and shrubs.  The gardens were taking beautiful form, and we left open the spot where the gazebo would be.

But the gazebo man returned the night before he was to commence work, and declared that the spot left was not possible due to needing to be so many feet from the easeway by the pond.  (Later someone said these gazebos can be built on wood runners so if ever, ever they need to be moved, they can be.)  The gazebo man had been negative every step of the way, and this was the final negative.  Joyful did not want the gazebo 8 feet from the house!

So while writing a settlement check for what the man said was his time in planning, plus filing for a building permit, he apprised the gardens in what was then minimal planting compared to now.  “Hmm.  Sure going to be a lot of WORK–this yard,” he whined.  Joyful Hermit confidently responded, “Well…I LIKE WORK!”

Now is the beginning of the fifth summer, and each year the gardens have evolved to include weeping specimens and conifers, then Japanese Maples, dwarf Ginkgo Bilobas and tiny English Truffle Oaks (Quercus Rober), varieties of roses, plus numerous perennials, herbs, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, vegetables, and annuals dotted here and there.

What are now called the Glory Gardens are, indeed, a lot of work.

This early spring, Joyful peered out from the cozy, contented sofa perch.  “Do I really like work?  Is this too much work, and is it worth the effort?  How on earth will I manage?”  But soon after it was time to get up, get out and get garden-groovin’.  The stretch-and-tone workout, fresh air, meditative garden mode, and the irresistible inspiration that comes from new growth, fresh scents, and hands in the earth reminded me:  Yes, I LIKE WORK.

Michelangelo, the great artist and sculptor, said that his work contained 99 percent hard work and 1 percent genius.  The Benedictines have as a motto and embedded in their rule of life the words ora et labora, which mean:  pray and work.  St. Paul in his epistles says that those who do not work should not eat.

Joyful Hermit has pondered the benefits and values of hard work.  This means work that one puts oneself into as if the shoulder to the plow, not looking back, but forging ahead and doing one’s best…passionately so.  Any work counts: washing dishes, scrambling eggs, shoveling snow, writing a note, listening to someone’s problems–mental, manual, menial or magnus work–or tending gardens that don’t have output other than sheer beauty.

Through simple attitude adjustment, work can be as play.  And when work becomes prayer, it is not only edifying to the worker but also to those people and situations in the prayers.  Work may be lifted to a joyfully productive state of body, heart, mind and spirit.  The rewards of honest, heart-felt, focused work go beyond tangible goods such as providing for oneself and family, or being able to help others, to a heavenly height of utilizing God-given talents and abilities in sheer human capacity to do and be.

Some say gardening is good for the soul.  Well, truth-be-told, any work done and prayed well for the glory of God and others, is good for our own souls and the souls of many.  Individuals and families who joyfully embrace a strong work ethic can improve their own circumstances and uplift the world.

Let’s LOVE WORK!

Posted in Living Holy, Spirit Lifters | 2 Comments

Doing the Best with What We’ve Got Left

Sometimes Joyful Hermit feels a little guilty that God has provided so much good in my life.  It is sad that there are so many people in the world who have not enough food to eat, or not the best types of food, or who are not educated in what is best to eat–let alone have vitamins and supplements.  Some people were never taught to take care of themselves, and others are born into impoverished homes in poor countries.

Nonetheless, our bodies are meant to be taken care of to the best of our abilities and means.  This includes diet, exercise and rest.  Joyful has been known to say, regarding the spiritual life, that every step we take is a step toward heaven or a step toward hell.  The other day JH heard a doctor say that whatever we put into our mouths is going to be either good for our bodies or bad.

As for cost effectiveness and aid to feeling the best we possibly can, eating healthy foods is the way to go.  For those with added ailments, not of their own choosing or doing, extra effort is well worth it in researching and consuming the foods, vitamins and supplements that are known to assist–even if slightly–our body’s ability to endure and even enjoy life.

A positive attitude is invaluable; but often attitude is governed by bodily well-being.  Pain up; attitude down.  Mind over matter only stretches so far.  Prayer is critical in all aspects of our lives, but God does love a cheerful giver.  This includes what we cheerfully give our body in improved chances for success in all decades of our lives.

As for vitamins, minerals and supplements, drugstores often offer a buy one, get one free deal.  Learn to read the little information panels as to daily dosage and amounts of ingredients, and compare that to cost per pill.  Pharmacists are there to advise; ask them!

Online sites can also provide good prices and quality in vitamins and health supplements.  Vitacost is one such entity, as is Drugstore.com.  Joyful has utilized Vitacost recently and shares the process.  They offered free shipping for over $49 in products.  The mg’s in each pill in most of the Vitacost items are slightly higher than the ones purchased at a local drugstore, on sale.  However, when the bottles arrived, JH noticed that the recommended daily servings were doubled.  Checking again with the B-complex in use,  for example, the Vitacost recommended dose was simply more than what is necessary.  Of course, they sell more that way; but do your reading and comparing or pay!  Vitacost sends numerous ad emails even when you checkmark not.  But Vitacost is still per price and mg’s, a very good deal.

One of our dear readers emailed that buying quality vitamins is worth it if the less expensive ones are not friable.  (Love that word; means can be easily broken down; fragile.)  Joyful Hermit immediately tested the sale vitamins by placing them in a glass of water overnight.  All dissolved, so they would be easily absorbed into the system.  But if not, just pound them with a pestle until they are dust.  Joyful might soak the little suckers overnight all the time because they went down very well with the morning glass of Green Glop.  Might it be a vitamin enhancer to take them partially decomposed for starters?

Regardless, Joyful Hermit is experiencing gradual, long-range help from taking such supplements as glucosamine chondroitin (joints), tumeric extract (body and brain), calcium (bones), B-complex (energy), D (energy, pain, mood), fish oil (heart and joints), magnesium (energy), and daily multi-vitamin.  Diet should provide what we need, but Joyful has fairly high level, constant pain, and it is seems wise, since God has so provided us with the luxury of these dietary aids and the ability to budget for them, to be grateful.

In the long run, keeping our bodies as healthy as possible by intermediary means is far less expensive than major medical costs later on.  Plus, God desires us to love life and to live it to the full, in health and holiness, in joy and love with upbeat spirits.  There are crosses enough that we are asked to bear, sooner or later.  And as we age, does it not seem wise to do our best with what we’ve got left?

Posted in Hermit Ponderings, Spirit Lifters | Leave a comment

Joyfully Healthy Amaranth

Flowering Amaranth Plants Photo by Dysviz

Joyful Hermit ordered some seeds this spring of herbs and flowers not so easily located.  Amaranth is among them, although these seeds may be purchased in stores.  Another name for it is:  Love Lies Bleeding.  This flower is also a grain, of which I did not realize until deciding to cook some from the bag of amaranth purchased a month or so ago.

JH grew Love Lies Bleeding/Amaranth several years ago.  These are fascinating plants, growing to 4-5 feet; but the “flower” heads droop down, rose-colored, looking like upholstery tassels more than the typical flower blooms.  In fact, the blooms are masses of these tiny grains that eventually turn tan-colored when picked and dried.

Popped Amaranth Photo by Orphanjones

It is these tiny, tan grains that were cooked the other night, right in with some basmati rice.  There are various ways to cook and eat amaranth, including popping it like popcorn!  I assume they will be tiny kernals when popped due to their tiny little grains to begin with.  But amaranth may be cooked in water, simmered for 30 minutes, and eaten solo.  It also may be used in baked items, or ground into flour itself.

Amaranth was a staple food of the Aztecs and preferred grain of their royalty.  Of all grains, amaranth has the highest protein content and is high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A and E, lysine, fiber and iron.  Cooking 1/4 cup of amaranth with 3/4 cups of water, we gain 7 grams of protein, 60% of our daily need for iron, and 8% calcium.  In researching this grain, amaranth is a complete protein, like soya.

The flavor is mild, nutty, and has a nice texture with a touch of crunch.  It is delicious with the basmati rice, and soon Joyful Hermit will try simmering it in some fruit juice or with raisins or other dried fruit with water, for a solid breakfast grain.  Will let you know more about this joyfully healthy amaranth grain after experimentation.  Also am going to see if the plants grown here in the gardens are able to be harvested.  Why not?

A 1 lb. bag of amaranth contains 9 protein-iron packed servings.  JH paid $4.49 but am sure it can be purchased for less than this–and far less if the garden produces a good crop!

Posted in Gardening, Health Helps | 2 Comments

Joyful Reports on Various Experiments

Three weeks into slurping Green Glop first thing every morning, Joyful Hermit is pleased to report improvement in energy.  Consume a glass with morning pain med, head to Mass, return later for some oatmeal or eggs.  (Just learned that breakfast cereals, even though high in vitamins and minerals, are way too high in carbohydrates.  Seek out lower-carb breakfast fare.)

Joyful wrote awhile back a long list of how to use a condiment such as Tapanade.  Mix 1 Tbsp. of Tapanade with yolks of two hard-cooked eggs.  Add 1 tsp. mayonnaise or sour cream for smoother consistency, if desired.  Tapanade in omelets is great.  Also, try 2-3 Tbsp. in sauteed onion and garlic when adding broth or tomato juice for a soup; Tapanade adds flavor.  Bake a potato, and use Tapanade with or instead of butter.  Put it in the hollow of an avocado, and what a natural, colorful complement.  Tapanade is mostly chopped olive with other seasonings and sometimes vegetables, such Vegetable Tapanade [pictured].

The indoor greenhouse would have been a total success had we more sun this spring.  Despite keeping lights on (factor the energy cost), only half of the seedlings survived.  But those that survived are doing well, now “hardening off” outside before JH plants them.  The shelves will  be used in the garage to store light-weight items (cardboard boxes and shipping materials, etc.) Next year fluorescent lights will help.

A friend gave JH a huge bottle of over-the-counter pain reliever, generic for Excedrin.  The tablets are getting on in age, but some old meds are still effective.  In order to have better absorption, Joyful uses a mortar to grind the little pills to powder.  They bring far better results, ground.  A detriment to older med tablets: the coating hardens.  Smash ’em!

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Joyful Presentation with Purpose

Someone ordered 18 Joyful Hermit Hermits.  Is taking them to her parish sewing group for a little something different snack.  Since Joyful Hermit prays while baking and packaging each order, prayer concerns are given: health of some of the older women in the group as well as a woman who just lost her husband of many years.

Joyful sets about the baking process, using fresh, organic eggs and trying out a dollop of heather honey.  But it is evening, and the hermit’s pain climbs high, and JH lets the hermits bake 2 minutes beyond their prime.  Two minutes may not seem much, but the cookies appear slightly too dark.  [Not the ones pictured!]

In the morning, Joyful Hermit realizes God surely wants more prayers offered.  Joyful sets about the baking process again, from start to finish.  This time prayers are added for the recipients of the sewing group’s project: “cancer pads” for cancer patients.  Many prayers offered for all who suffer with cancer!

The Joyful Hermit Hermits exit the oven just right!  The slightly darker versions will provide JH with healthy, sumptuous breakfast and snack fare in days ahead.  The just-right hermit cookies are packaged for the women who gather each week to sew cancer pads.  These cookies needed purposeful packaging for such a noble cause.

Presentation is important.  It really is–along with process.  How we do something whether it is praying, thinking, eating, working, sleeping, living–truly matters.  And how we present anything, be it ourselves, our projects, our goods and services, matters as well. 

Joyful calls it living omnia pro Deo, or all for God.  In this way, all thoughts and actions with or without tangible results, are gifts and offerings to God, shared with others.  Paying attention to details can make all the difference.  It does not have to be expensive or take hours and hours, but inspiration comes from God and is simply packaged and presented.

Often one idea can extend to another…yet personalized.  Nothing needs to be done the same way.  Creation is unique.  And if the idea takes a little time, or is rather simplistic like cutting out little letters to form a word or two, ponder the days in kindergarten, learning to cut neatly.  What a joy!  Praise God for the gift of sight, and for colors, and being able to paste!  Or if none of these, praise God for whatever it is that you are able to do…but do your very best!  Do it with prayer and thanksgiving! 

Do all as a gift to God and to God-in-others, whether a best-ever smile, a school paper put together neatly, or a squirt of whipped cream on a pancake.  How we package ourselves, too, is important.  We are presenting ourselves as the beautiful creation God has made, and each “package” is unique, holy, and full of love and life!  Our voices, eyes, smiles, listening ears, cleanliness, posture, neatness, modesty, kind thoughts, gentle touches, encouraging words–all these are presentations, too!  Package and present with purpose!

Posted in Hermit Ponderings, Misc | Leave a comment

Life Coach: Joyful Hermit Offers Personal Counsel

What is a Life Coach?  This term applies to a current trend of help for people who desire to improve their personal lives in creative and practical ways.  Life coaching is not for those who require therapy for various diagnosable psychological and mental issues.

Rather, those who seek out a Life Coach desire short-term counsel to help become “unstuck” in some area such as career choices, education goals, job search, child rearing, relationship hurdles, self-image and body make-over plans, life changes, grieving process, problem solving, possibility thinking, individualized goal-setting, or whatever other topics the person wishes to discuss in order to effect personal change and improvement.

The advantage to having someone such as Joyful Hermit as a Life Coach is not only Joyful’s varied life experiences and professional background, but also the eclectic interests and areas of practical knowledge.  But more, Joyful Hermit can provide help for one’s spiritual life:  levels of prayer, comprehending Scripture, mystical and ascetical theology, dream interpretation, and offering spiritual insights which will heighten one’s life experience through spiritual development of the soul drawn closer to God.

In addition to a doctoral degree, Joyful Hermit has over 50 credit hours in master-doctoral level clinical psychology courses plus a clinical certification.  Fees are per suggested donation for a prearranged number of sessions, follow-up phone calls, and email options.  Joyful’s clinical approach is multi-dimensional; but Joyful Hermit is a results-oriented Life Coach.  (For anyone desiring spiritual coaching, Joyful coins the term: Christ Coach®!)

Those coached by Joyful Hermit may be assured there is no time to be wasted.  Joyful is direct once the dilemma is ascertained and the pro-active plan mapped out.  Breaking through personal and spiritual barriers is a matter of learning how to discern and to metamorphose into a new phase, an improved way and love of life.  Why not now?

Contact Dr. Joyful Hermit via email  (joyfulhermit@gmail.com) to discuss your personal needs and begin immediately to enter and enact the possibilities!

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Hermit Cookies Sold the Joyful Hermit Way

What can one expect from an order of Joyful Hermit Hermits?  This past week brought an online order, and Joyful Hermit found out what it is to be a hermit-put-to-work.  Ora et labore, advised St. Benedict:  Pray and work!  Joyful had an order for a half-dozen Joyful Hermit Hermits shipped to four separate addresses.  First thing, a hermit prays for the success of the venture, as confidence has been placed, and to be honored.

Then off to purchase fresh eggs, for JH uses quality ingredients and some secret ones, too.  The suggested donation for the Hermits is below commercial online prices, but JH offers an ingredient that only Joyful Hermit provides, gratis:  Prayers for the order’s recipients!

From start to finish in the sifting, mixing, spice-selecting process, a joyful hermit prays.  Then comes weighing and packaging.  Each Joyful Hermit Hermit amply provides 1.25 ounces of substance, health, and savor.  And as Joyful Hermit is a solitary enterprise, every step from start to finish is unique–say, homespun–down to the hand-crafted, individualized gift boxes, this time.Why just this time?

Well, with each order Joyful uses card stock come upon here and there.  Do you expect an authentic hermit to mass produce?  Surely not!  Ingredients and size do not vary unless one requests certain dried fruits and nuts over others, and the prayers remain steadfast and focused.  However, the packaging may vary by what’s around the hermitage that seems joyfully creative!

The hand-written note from JH is yet another reminder that this is not a money-making venture.  (Yet even hermits need to earn a buck in this day and age.)  The effort takes hours; Joyful Hermit, rather fatigued, rejoices when the parcels ship to destinations without a hitch.  JH ponders anew the process, appreciating the expense for one ordering and donating generously.  Thanks be to God!  Joyful also notes: Prayer for others and the world is a hermit’s number one work.  Might these hermit cookies be a sweet secondary?

Visitors to the hermitage this afternoon offered a great idea.  Why not get the Joyful Hermit Hermits in a monastery catalog?  Sales would increase dramatically!  But JH is first about the spiritual life, of helping others in heart and soul–as well as body.  Keeping things simple and solo  for now seems faithful and true to a true hermit’s calling….

Posted in Hermit Shoppe, Misc | 4 Comments

Healthy Green Glop

Joyful Hermit suffers from intractable, rather high-level pain.  This has been going on for nearly 27 years as a result of a teen driver who was drunk.  Surgeons years ago said the pain would worsen with age, and they have proven to be joyfully truthful.

Awhile ago Joyful watched a news video clip online about a blender drink that promised results in three days.  There is no secret ingredient but offers common dietary sense.  A health food specialist a couple years ago told JH to have some fruit first thing, daily.  Gets the metabolism rolling.

Select some fruits and green vegetables.  Romaine lettuce is recommended over spinach in this case.  Spinach contains C, but has lycopene that is invaluable to the body.  Only steamed or cooked spinach releases lycopene.  The vitamin C in spinach comes in many other fruits and vegetables.  Joyful researched this fact so will cook spinach from here on out.

Break up romaine (or other dark green lettuce) into blender.  Add celery, cucumber, etc.  Blend with 1-2 cups water.  Then add whatever fruits; liquefy.  Joyful uses papaya and pineapple often since these fruits are anti-inflammatory aids.  (Red meat increases inflammation, BTW.) JH also adds ground flax seed and lecithin granules.

Imbibe a glass of Green Glop!  Consume first thing in the morning, leaving oatmeal or egg until a bit later.  The remaining Green Glop may be frozen in small containers for future mornings.  The drink is supposed to improve skin, hair, metabolism, and remove toxins.  Also, a man who drank it for a month claims 1o pounds lost.

Hermits traditionally ate fruits, greens, nuts, legumes and herbs.  Joyful still does.  Green Glop (1 week) has not impacted the high pain levels in this body.  Perhaps there is more energy?  Regardless, what we put into our mortal bodies affects our attitudes, efficiency, and effectiveness in a world increasingly clogged and unhealthy in far too many aspects.

Posted in Health Helps, Misc | 4 Comments

More Joyful Grandparenting

Little guests visited Joyful Hermit’s hermitage this week, wherein JH had a project in mind.  Two unfinished birdhouses with red, white and green paints and brushes (purchased for $3.99 each at Tuesday Morning) seemed just the activity to enjoy on an April day that was too chilly and windy to spend much time outdoors.

Since Mommy and Daddy came along with Kelsey and Jocelyn, this project remained fairly tidy.  Joyful Hermit’s grandparenting job was simply to place out the birdhouses on old packing paper, open the paints, add some additional colors from Joyful’s stash, take photos, provide paper towels, and encourage the artists at work!

Kelsey brush-painted;  Jocelyn finger-painted.

Daddy helped Kelsey mix colors to see what they’d make.

Mommy helped Jocelyn glob paint and wipe messes.

Then it was clean-up time at the bathroom sink with parents literally carrying each artist down the hallway, hoping hands would not touch walls, with JH not minding if they did because most  joyful grandparents, hermit or not, have grown into a relaxed mode and are  so happy to have grandchildren visit that it seems these or any precious little ones can do no wrong.

In fact, Joyful Hermit would have had to work this project, solo, in an entirely different format.  There would be paper down on the table, and paints set out, but it would be a free-for-all in the hermitage nook paint studio.  Brushes, fingers, hands and faces, chairs and birdhouses would be open canvas for artistic endeavor.  Clean up at kitchen sink by standing on overturned bucket would work with paper towels, wet and dry.  Later in the day would be soon enough to wipe paint off chairs.  However, JH is going to prudently procure fun fabric to make pint-size paint smocks for artists’ future projects. 

After drying time, the artists posed for a picture holding their hand-painted birdhouses.  Kelsey practiced holding hers as a princess might stand; Jocelyn determined to go against her mother’s pleas to look at the camera.  Artists are known for being unique and individual in their temperaments.  They signed their works of art on the birdhouse bases, and JH dated each to memorialize such a joyful experience.

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Religious Art on Joyful Hermit Shoppe Page

Check out the selections of antique religious art prints as well as a beautifully framed photograph of Pope Benedict XVI on the newly created listing page of The Joyful Hermit Shoppe: Religious Art.

More selections will be added.  Simply order your choice by emailing:  joyfulhermit@gmail.com to confirm order, then make suggested donation via paypal or other arranged payment.  Shipping and handling to be determined based upon your locale.

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