PREPARE Curriculum: 7 Intensive Units to Be Ready for A Bright Future

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really one to just sit around and wait for things.

If I’m contained in our house, I learn to bake bread and switch to a plant-based diet, I study Buddhist meditation and become a yogi, I manage our investments to ensure ongoing passive income.

But these things have been mostly for myself and my family.

So one day I asked myself, how can I expand this to help the people and lives around the planet who are suffering and need some love?

Tim, Megan and I just finished a 4-day Tony Robbins virtual event for unleashing our beautiful inner selves, and this is what I came up with.

I was inspired by the story of Nelson Mandela describing his time in prison: “I didn’t survive, I PREPARED.” And so…

My PREPARE Curriculum. I created a self-study program that might take me a few years to fully immerse myself in and emerge from wiser and stronger.

Why? To learn as much as I can to be ready for our bright future, and to find like minds as we discover the incredible gifts of this unusual time.

I decided to share it here with you, both for my own accountability and in case you want to borrow any of it for yourself… Go ahead!

(Also, I don’t get any money or rewards at all for sharing these resources with you – I just want to contribute to our collective comeback after months of quarantine.)

Without further ado, the 7 intensive units of my PREPARE curriculum are…

1. Mindfulness and psychology

The main thing I seem to need right now is a way to balance emotions, stay grateful, and understand what’s happening in my mind. These are my top wishlist resources that I’m diving into first:

2. Compassionate relationships

The next thing I need is a sustainable way to maintain peaceful, loving relationships. Connections that are stress-proof where people love each other no matter what. I will be learning from these masters:

3. Homesteading in Hawai’i

Our plan is to create a sustainable farm in Hawai’i that provides for our food needs and strengthens our community. This is still a little ways off, but I can learn and prepare from these fine folks:

4. Sustainable income

With the uncertain future ahead, it’s making more and more sense to be self-sufficient when it comes to money as well as food. I believe it’s a wise investment to learn from these pioneers:

5. Cooking and movement

One thing we all need for a bright future is a healthy body. The ways we can help it are putting nutritious food in, moving ourselves, and getting enough rest. Here are my inspirations for optimizing health:

  • Isa Chandra Moskowitz. That’s all I have to say here. She dominates the plant-based cookbook space, and every single recipe I’ve made of hers is AMAZING. I will be studying her brilliant methods in depth. Some of her books include…
  • Sasha Martin’s Global Table Adventure for inspiration to cook recipes from the remaining 158 countries we have yet to taste
  • Paul Hollywood’s Bread – the Great British Baking Show judge shares his tips for artisan bread (I’ve already made variations on his cottage loaf and chelsea buns, which were delicious)
  • How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger (I’ve skimmed it so far, looks like useful, evidence-based tips on which foods to eat and avoid for different disease tendencies)
  • The End of Alzheimer’s by Dr. Dale Bredesen (I read it once but will need to read it again now that I’m almost in my mid-forties, since there’s Alzheimer’s in my family)
  • 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back by Esther Gokhale (I have chronic shoulder pain and need to learn better ergonomics and posture)
  • Yoga with Adriene free yoga videos (we follow her YouTube channel and monthly calendar of yoga classes, which we do every evening at 7 pm as a family)
  • Kinrgy virtual movement classes – a lively and loving combination of dance, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and positivity (we have a pass until the end of September)
  • Egoscue is a method of posture-based exercises to remove pain (I’ve tried some of them and they do help, just need to try the rest and implement a regular schedule)
  • Qi Gong exercises with Plum Village (can’t wait to try these out in my daily routine!)

6. Building community

Life isn’t much fun if you don’t have people to share it with. I don’t personally need a LOT of people around me, just a few like-minded folks in person and a wider global community that I can wake up each day to serve. I’ll be re-learning how to do this post-quarantine from these lovely people:

7. Helping the planet

Living happily and healthfully is all well and good, but we still need a planet to live on. These are some things I’ll be reading and working on to do my part:

OK, that seems like a good start! Megan is starting high school this year, so I guess I’m starting my own 4-year learning program too. 🙂

Now it’s time to put it all in a spreadsheet and track my progress.

I’ll occasionally share what I’m learning here on the blog as I go along, in between the recipes, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks for being here, lots of love, and I hope you keep learning and growing too, in whatever direction strikes your fancy!

Alexandra 😀 <3

9 Nutritionally-Balanced Recipes to Keep You Happy and Healthy

When someone in our house is having a hard day, the way I like to help best is by making a healing, nourishing meal for all of us.

Here are some go-to recipes I pull out for whenever we need some extra tender loving care.

I hope they bring you comfort, extra health, and happiness too.

Wishing you ease and strength in your day today.

#1: Lentils and Greens with Goddess Dressing

There are a million ways to assemble a rice bowl, and this one is especially delicious. You cook lentils, rice, and celery together, top it with sauteed farm fresh onions and greens, then drizzle with a divine lemon tahini vegan dressing. It will help you feel amazing!

#2. Green Peas and Ham Risotto

Instead of green eggs and ham (that’s another recipe to come for avocado scrambled eggs), how about green peas and ham? This risotto uses a mix of blended and whole peas to create the vibrant color and luxurious taste. I hope you try this for lunch or dinner sometime, it’s a treat!

#3. California Pad Thai

Noodles are always a favorite around here. This is our California-inspired version of pad thai, a traditional stirfry favorite from the streets of Thailand.

#4. Five-Layer Dip from Jan and Nick

This amazing dip recipe comes from my in-laws in Canada. It’s a crowd-pleaser, super easy to make, and nutritious too! We like to have it at home for lunch or a snack, but it’s also a great potluck idea for the holidays.

#5. Coconut Cranberry Spinach

This is a fantastic spinach dish originally from Tanzania (called mchicha wa nazi). It has spinach, onions, and cranberries simmered in coconut milk, and I threw a bit of roasted chicken in too. We served it over rice, but it would also make a nourishing meal on its own. It’s too good not to try it!

#6. Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes with Mushrooms

Here is a healthy version of mashed potatoes with gravy, a classic comfort food. We mash cauliflower in with the potatoes for a lovely moistness, then smother it in a vegan mushroom gravy that satisfies even the folks who are used to meat and dairy-based gravies. 

#7. Healing Lentil Soup

Lentils and turmeric are both superfoods, filled with nutritional benefits for the human body as well as our mental health. This is a comforting soup that mixes in some potato, onion, and sage for a lovely dinner. I like to have it with some stir-fried greens on the side. It’s a meal that makes my whole self smile.

#8. Asparagus Leek Potato Soup

In the spring and early summer, we can get fresh asparagus delivered in our farm box. One of the treats I like to make when this happens is a creamy asparagus and potato soup with leeks and sage. It’s a comforting, nourishing bowl of healing goodness.

#9. Moroccan Chicken Couscous

What happens when you marry couscous, or little balls of pasta, with oranges, lemons, cumin, chicken, and a bright array of vegetables? Kind of a party in your mouth. My kids’ reaction: “Wow! My tongue is so confused. Can I have some more?” I hope your family enjoys this healthy and tasty couscous creation too. Feel free to improvise with whatever veggies you have on hand!

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please feel free to forward this to a friend who might need a bit of extra TLC today.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

Our Daily Routine During Quarantine

Humans like routines.

Having a daily rhythm is good for our mental health. This is why having a dog helps us be happier – they love sticking to routines and getting us out for daily walks.

But even if you’re not a dog person, you might find it helpful to wake up at the same time every day and build self-care activities into your daily plan.

Here’s what our routine looks like during this ongoing coronavirus shutdown. It helps keep us all on the same page and functioning mostly smoothly.

Do you have a routine? What does it look like?

8 am – Breakfast and 1/2 mile morning walk

We’re up every morning by 7 am, although I’m often up earlier. Most of us do a morning meditation either with the Headspace or Plum Village apps. Then we gather for breakfast at 8 am and go for a short walk around our neighborhood before starting the day. One of our breakfast favorites is these Hawaii oat cakes.

9 am – Home learning fun and snack

If it’s a weekday, the kiddos have some home learning to do. We check in on Google Classroom, get the assignments for the day, and update tasks on the whiteboard in our designated learning area, aka the dining room. They choose what to work on first, and part way through the morning we bring out a small snack. It’s often something fruity and chocolatey, like apples or bananas with nuts and chocolate chips or homemade nutella.

12 pm – Lunch and longer hilly walk

At noon we all break for lunch in the backyard. It feels great to get some fresh air and sunshine after a morning inside. Lunch can either be a salad, some leftovers, or something more creative like these broccoli mashed potatoes. Then we power up for the afternoon with a half hour loop walk that takes us up and down some big hills.

1 pm – Home learning fun and inspiration

After our walk it’s back for another chunk of learning. The parents get some time to either work or learn too – we’ve been exploring courses on Udemy and Coursera recently. During this quiet focus time we often put on the Classical radio station on Apple Music. And when I get overwhelmed, I remind myself of these 13 simple truths for a peaceful mind.

3 pm – Dessert and showers

By 3 pm the kids are ready to be done with assignments, so it’s time to transition to fun and self-care time. We discovered that having dessert in the afternoon, like a British tea time, helps everyone sleep better than eating sweets after dinner. These fudgy cookie brownies are always a hit. Anyone who wants a refreshing shower is free to take one too.

4 pm – Free time and cooking dinner

Next we have a couple hours of play, dance, rest, and time on passion projects. Sometimes there are musical performances being choreographed and composed and rehearsed, or there’s quiet phone/iPad time, or we think up recipes or ideas like how to save the world with Megan right now.

6 pm – Dinner with nature or comedy

I love to get expert help in the kitchen from Megan and Tim, but I enjoy cooking on my own as well. Since we all chat a bunch on our daily walks and have just been sitting at the dining room table all day, we’ll often eat on the couches and put on an inspiring nature show like Our Planet or a funny movie. Dinner is usually something comforting like turkey chili with zucchini, and we pause the show if anyone wants to go back for seconds.

7 pm – Yoga and meditation

For the past several months we’ve been doing a daily wind down of movement, gratitude, and stillness. It’s all with the help of our online yoga teacher Adriene. She releases free monthly schedules to follow for daily yoga and meditation, and it’s a wonderful way to take care of ourselves, together.

8 pm – Get ready for bed and prep for tomorrow

And another day is done. Kids go off to brush their teeth, we clean up the kitchen and prepare for tomorrow. A super quick and nourishing breakfast to throw together the night before are these easiest overnight oats, for example. Everyone is settled and in bed by 9 pm, with goodnights and hugs and any last reassurances.

Tomorrow is another day. And the sun always rises.

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. I hope you have or find a nourishing daily routine for yourself as well.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

13 Simple Truths for a Peaceful Mind

Life gives us a variety of experiences, and we get to choose our way of handling those experiences.

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is one constructive way to navigate our way back to a peaceful mind, no matter what is happening around us.

It’s like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which retrains your thinking, but with a focus on reframing both emotions and thoughts.

Here are 13 constructive REBT alternatives to irrational beliefs that I find very helpful to be reminded of in stressful times:

1. I give myself love and approval, whether or not others approve of me.

2. I am inherently worthwhile as a person, and I sometimes make mistakes.

3. Other people make mistakes too, and are doing the best they can in their current situation.

4. Things will not always be the way I want them to be, and that’s ok.

5. There is always something I can do to feel a bit better if I’m unhappy.

6. I trust myself to handle anything life sends my way, so there’s no need to worry.

7. Life includes difficulties, unpleasantness and responsibility – these are often our greatest teachers.

8. I am strong and can depend on myself.

9. I learn from the past but it doesn’t control me.

10. I feel compassion when other people have problems, but it’s not my job to rescue everyone.

11. I expect and can tolerate discomfort and pain as part of a rich life experience.

12. Not every problem can be solved (or solved ideally).

13. There are always choices. I always have a choice.

The way I interpret these lessons is: if I am less demanding and hard on myself, it will help me be kinder and gentler to others.

I can keep building my distress tolerance, avoid over-generalizing, look for other stories and alternate explanations to triggers.

I can feel each emotion and not need to ride a horse on a horse (when you’re feeling an emotion about an emotion, like I’m angry about feeling sad).

And I can question assumptions, asking “is this useful?”

The goal of all this is not happiness per se, but an awareness and acceptance of the reality around us. This brings peace of mind.

Return to this list anytime you need a loving reminder.