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Posts from the ‘positive energy’ Category

Worth writing a novel about

Please make sure you check out the gallery pictures closer to the end!

Latvia is a place I come from. Most of my family still resides there but I went for a chance to change my life dramatically a bit more than 13 years ago and relocated to Canada. Everything was different, I had to adjust myself, learn a lot and, basically, I can say I’m fine by now. It feels like I started fresh at the age of 46 again.

Time passes so fast, but there are things which I miss a lot while in Canada. I definitely miss my mom, my daughter, grandchildren, my sister and also friends. The other thing which is quite important and which I miss every time I go to the grocery store is Latvian food. I miss the huge variety, the very natural produce, wild mushrooms, wild berries, endless salads, soups and deserts. I miss dairy products and the huge selection of fresh-water and salt-water fish which we do not have in Canada, and it is hard to live without their cakes, pastries, pies and all the stuff that comes on the table just rarely, but makes all the difference. For instance, black or rather grey peas with crunchy bites of Latvian bacon and kefir, or thousands of dishes made of Latvian cottage cheese which is always excellent quality compared to what I have when I can find it in Canada. I mean the raw, nothing added, nothing removed cottage cheese. Their daily bread selection is worth writing a novel about: from dark rye and carrot bread baked using ancient Latvian recipes to all kinds of white, dark bread made with or without seeds and from all kinds of grains. The freshness is breathtaking, and so is the taste. I have always hard times finding a good quality bread at home, it goes bad and stale next morning, and it usually falls apart. My guess is: it consists of hardly anything, but costs a lot.

Therefore, I try everything Latvia can offer, and that is plenty. Neither I want, nor I intend to avoid such a delicious pleasure: it is a feast from the day 1 of my stay here until the dinner before my flight back home.

As I walk along the Central Market (I came here with just one intention: to take a few pictures because this is sort of very large farmer’s market, the largest in Europe), my eyes run all around and it’s great I’m not hungry because otherwise I’d end up buying too much stuff. Most people, however, prefer the ecologically clean product stores. Prices are quite high in stores which offer organic, biologically and ecologically clean produce and all kinds of other foods, and frequently above the affordable level, but still: Latvians take food seriously and they can certainly choose something great even when the wallet is not that full.

There is something else: traditionally Latvians do gardening, even these who live in the downtown of Riga, usually have some out-of-town place where they can grow something. Latvia did a lot of farming in the soviet times, and it was actually quite agricultural outside the biggest cities. The first Latvian Republic before the World War II was famous for its fantastic dairy products, bacon, butter, meats and produce. Although, agriculturally used land and the number, as well as size of farms have decreased, the need for good quality food is the same. People know what is good, Latvians know what delicious and fresh means, and therefore, the food quality standards remain high.

If you are wondering what I mean with all this praising, I do suggest you stop by in Latvia for the greatest and cleanest foods one can try. It’s worth it. I did not notice where their fast food places were, I know there are some, but people who think about their health won’t eat in such places. I personally never learned loving fast food, I don’t think they are popular here because everything is geared towards healthier, fresher, cleaner and less processed.

I have taken pictures also of smoked fish and meats, and these are certainly not for daily consumption, they are not part of a healthy diet, however, small bit here and there cannot harm. They taste incredibly good. If you have never tried, you won’t know how delicious these things are: smoked fish and chicken especially, and I miss such treats a lot. Some fishing villages still smoke fish like Latvian fishermen did 200, 300 and more hundred years ago.

Caraway seed cheese is my favorite, it always has been. When I was 12 or so I worked at a dairy plant during the summer (all kids worked). I had to help by preparation of caraway seed cheese. It was warm and so yummy that I never forgot this taste. The only place I get it as I like is Latvia. I tried to make my own in Canada, but milk and cottage cheese were totally unsuitable: they are too processed and do not have the same properties, so, I did not get very good caraway seed cheese. Dairy products are definitely bad and low quality in Canada. I sometimes wonder: why wouldn’t they go to Latvia, for example, and learn how to achieve greatness in dairy products. It’ s not going to happen because their profits come always first.

Well, wild mushrooms and wild berries are something Ontarians do not get to see or taste. Some might, but it’ s not everybody by far. Mushrooms are still in season, but there are less and less berries in the forest because fall sets in sooner in Latvia than in Canada.

mouth-watering Latvian dairy products

Meats and smoked meats

Fresh, live and smoked fish

A few veggies (because they looked so nice) and some wild berries and mushrooms

I actually wanted to publish separate posts about separate food groups, but time is really short, so I will leave you with these pictures and I am going back home soon.

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How to feel good and survive the dullness of depressing winter days

Do you have your favorite recipe for surviving dark, cold, nasty winter days?

I’ve seen and heard from a lot of people recently who are in cold and bad winter weather areas that they don’t feel well. Sneezing, coughing and aching is nothing new in winters when we change rapidly from minus 20 and move up to plus 7 degrees within a few days. What do you do not to stress out your body and yourself even more?

Most people assume stress comes from outside: too much work, too many interruptions, inability to do any task properly because of so many obstacles and disturbances, emptying and exhausting relationships, impact from energetically draining people with bad attitude around us, failure to implement our plans and goals and so on. In fact, most stresses come from inside the body, hence, we have so many adaptive mechanisms and so many systems that try to regulate the processes inside the body and mind in order to bring us back in balance.

This is certainly a period when we should nurture ourselves. Be easy and loving towards ourselves. Be patient and take one step at a time. My personal favorite tools for surviving winter come from my grandmother, my mom uses the same things, I continue using these simple remedies, and my daughter doesn’t mind them either.

Cold or heat: our body systems have to take on any stresses. That can cause mood fluctuations and add to discomfort, especially if we are already having some condition. Brain chemicals sound complicated and so they are, however, there are nice extremely uncomplicated things which can help them return to balance. Once the digestive and immune system are properly taken care of, headaches and heart aches disappear, anxiety and nervousness evaporates, blood pressure and blood glucose levels normalize, and having no inflammation is the best thing that can happen to us. Inflammation within the body causes most of our troubles.

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Tea will not only warm up, but also provide with numerous health benefits.

Rose hip tea for toning ourselves in the morning: it is a strong antioxidant, rich in vitamin C, helps digestive and immune system and decreases inflammations in the body, it helps fighting all diseases caused by inflammation, and almost anything can be related to inflammation. I know an older man who would never miss his morning dose of rose hip tea. He said it was really boosting his energy and activating his defense mechanism to take on any difficult tasks he has to face that day.

Chamomile tea for calming, warming and healing: relieve your stress, anxiety. Enjoy a cup and it will also reduce pain and any kind of stomach disorder, as well as take care of good sleep and your immune system.

Mint is always handy for keeping us in good shape because it improves digestion, reduces pain, eliminates inflammation, relaxes the body and mind and boosts the immune system.

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Did you know that you can test any tea putting it in cold water to see if it is really natural? If putting tea in cold water results in color which could be only achieved with very hot water, it is clear: coloring agents are added.

Do people with strong immune system also get colds or only those ones who have some underlying conditions?  If you are mainly healthy and still young, such cold periods should be shorter and affect you less. Cold is not flu, but it is caused by multiple viruses, especially rhinovirus. We all know how to treat colds, but when cold is persistent and doesn’t go away with over-the-counter remedies; we have to see the doctor in order to avoid all kinds of complications.

SAD? Seasonal affective disorder, I mean? We can become sad, sluggish and start feeling drained, definitely. It often seems that alcohol could be just the right cure from this sadness, upset and depressed mood, but, in fact, alcohol is a bad company for winter time, especially when one is heading outdoors. Feeling hot is very misleading because we get such sensation due to widening blood vessels. We do not feel how cold the air in reality is, and that can have serious sequences. Secondly, alcohol makes depression, anxiety and stress worse. For a moment one can be uplifted and flying in clouds, not that much later and the next morning when all bad experiences return with double force. We are already fragile in frequently changing weather conditions due to lack of fresh air and outdoor activities. Why to add more stress to our sensitive self?

You will have heard most likely about vitamin D supplements. The sunshine vitamin. Much less daylight can affect us, no doubt about that, however, if you are a person who always believes more is better, remember that we still need to be tested for vitamin D levels in order to know how much and if to take it. Overdoing a lot with vitamin D will cause kidney failure. We have nowadays all kinds of things added to regular foods, so take into account in how many combinations you’re already getting it supplemented.

We cannot go wrong with vitamin C since it is very difficult to actually consume it in levels that we could talk about overdose. The only important thing is that artificial vitamins and other substances will not be absorbed in the same way as the ones from natural sources. That means, naturally occurring amino acids and vitamins are much more effective because your body cells recognize them and know how to use. The absorption level usually varies and depends on plenty of other nutritional components; however, absorption level of an artificial supplement is never 100%.

We are drinking less water when it is cold, and when temperatures are so low it is very easy to overlook dehydration. Also, if your home or work place isn’t that cozy and warm it is extremely tough to make one consume some half a liter of water in the morning. People who are not diabetics can try hot water with honey and lemon. Diabetics should still stick to water. One bottle of water before anything else on empty stomach makes huge difference.

The other very useful, healthy and nutritious way of helping ourselves is replacing heavy dinners or big lunches with soup. Like all Latvians, I love soups, as well. Normal Latvian family can have a soup dinner a few times a week. We make soups from everything what is available, but very often beet soup, fresh cabbage borscht (definitely our family’s favorite!). We make beet soup with any type of meat. We love all kinds of vegetable soups, melted cheese soup with paprika, Latvian style meatball soup, obviously chicken soup, pea soup, smoked salmon soup, sauerkraut soup, bean soup with smoked ribs, many kinds of sweet fruit and dumpling soups … The list is endless since it is possible to cook a very warming and delicious soup using just basic vegetables, bones and meat. Soup is an extract of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Everybody can adjust it to their taste and preferences. Soup heals, warms up and recharges. Plus, it’s not going to give your stomach digestive issues.

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Winter is a time when we should be really taking good care of ourselves. I do not deny the importance of being physically active and engaging in physical exercises, but for lots of people the main part of surviving winter will be as basic as: how to keep ourselves healthy. Making a cup of herbal tea is so hilariously easy! Just do it; a few times a day and one more time before you go to sleep. Even these who do not feel well can manage that.

It is also important to have plenty of light whatever light one prefers: soft light, warm light, bright light for hobbies, candle light for soul and good thoughts; it doesn’t matter. We need a lot of light until the sun moves higher up in the sky.

Blessings from people who wish us well go long ways

I am very thankful and grateful to all my friends, fellow bloggers who have supported me so much during this extremely tough time.  It might seem like nothing special to those who do not blog frequently or have done this for a short time yet. However, there are moments when our life reaches the point when we become completely upset because of some health issues, we lose our determination and all good intentions are forgotten since there is no energy to implement any of them. During these times, my friends, bloggers were right there. There were hundreds and hundreds of prayers, good thoughts and blessings sent.

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I think the aspect which makes blogging so unique among all other forms of social interaction is the ability to really discover people, make new friends, even though, they are far away and scattered over all countries of the globe. I am certainly grateful for this ongoing, never stopping support. Among you are many people who suffer or have suffered from all kinds of health problems. That’s life and that’s something which we get as a side effect of living not in a perfect world. One second can turn our life upside down, and the sequences can stretch over decades. We need courage to realistically access our condition, and we need lots and lots of strength. What was the most pleasurable experience during the days when I was totally off? Those were encouragements, wishes feeling better and blessings which arrived from all sides of the globe.

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It is so wonderful that there is love which never ends; there is kindness, appreciation and gratitude. It is wonderful to feel better, and lots of friends have contributed to my inner comfort.

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I can only repeat that starting my two blogs (one 4 years ago and this one just last year) was the best thing I could ever do. There isn’t anything else like blogging; no Facebooks, Twitters or other media can ever replace that because of content, unlimited exchange of thoughts, ideas and inspiration.

I am attaching 3 fall photos from my personal archive; I hope you’ll love these.

Those who love art are invited to check out https://inesepogagallery.com/2016/09/25/2949/

and http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/inese-poga.html

And finally: I feel blessed for all this help and am sending back my prayers and blessings to those of you who need them at this moment.

Christmas memories that can make us cry

There is a house on a hill far, far away, across the ocean, across huge fields and deep forests, and my mom is writing a Christmas card to me sitting at her old table, wearing a blue warm shawl around shoulders in her small lovely room. Letters are lining up unevenly, and the card always starts with “My dear daughter”.

Winter night light

Christmas time is very special time not only because we are trying to do something good for others, to give more than take, to support more than we usually do, but also because it brings back memories. If you’re older like me, you are having plenty of memories, as well. Each year has been marked with some event, some person, some special gift, somebody’s birth, wedding or death. I intentionally sometimes do not look through photos. These are the old, real photos on paper that I’m talking about; a few are grey-yellowish already since they’ve been taken more than 50 years ago. I don’t want to hurt myself too much because that is the past and it’s not in our power to return to life those people who have walked away either from us, or from this dimension.

If you are like me, your friends and family live very far away in another continent. My husband’s family is in Canada, but nobody resides close to us. Our Christmas means only two of us, and I am so grateful it is two, not only one. I have had completely lonely Christmas and bad ones, too, when there was no food on the table and when I even couldn’t get a bus ticked to get to my family back then in Latvia. I have been sick during some Christmas and I have been extremely happy also. I have been even freezing terribly during some Christmas, there was very little firewood at home, and we needed it badly to keep the fire in the stove going and ourselves from freezing.

If you are a very sensitive person who easily slides into depression, you should keep yourself away from the most painful memories, too. Some tear or a few running down the cheek is absolutely fine, but we shouldn’t submerge ourselves into a deep, dark, lonely lake of tears and melancholy. It helps to be among other people, at least chatting with online friends or somebody over the phone will make it feel as if together with somebody. There are always events at the church, and nobody feels lonely there. It is wrong to assume that one has to be only smiles if they want to cry in reality. It is fine to let your memories unfold as long as they don’t wrap you up in a too thick layer of regrets, feeling of guilt and sadness. The worst companion for a lonely grieving person is alcohol. It can create the illusion of joy and pleasure, but it fades away very quickly leaving one in deeper depression than ever. Whatever you do, do not use alcohol as a pain reliever. The blurry mind gives us wrong instructions and takes onto wrong route.

Winter night Christmas memories

Whatever our memories and situation at Christmas, there is always something to be grateful for. It is fantastic to be with somebody. It is great to have good food. It is excellent to have lights and candles and to be warm. It is a blessing to have somebody who loves you and who you can love in return. Don’t have a party? So what? Have to stay in bed? Well, next year should be having a better ending then. Things did not happen as you expected? They here and there do, and they very often don’t. Too busy, too many guests, too boring and tiring party? Relax; take your time, one can always find an excuse to sit down at some quiet corner.

My best Christmas memories are associated with family which is far away at the moment. We were very happy together. Celebration was not that much about plenty or expensive gifts those times, but mostly about the great feeling, Christmas warmth, delicious self-made meals, Christmas songs. Our tradition also includes saying a Christmas poem at the tree, and all kids were doing that in order to receive their gifts. It was always a bit different in Latvia: the biggest celebration is on December 24. We are supposed to have 9 dishes on the table; we are supposed to eat something 9 times during this night, we sing a lot of special Christmas songs and we have also other 2000 year old traditions: like dressing up in special costumes and visiting other houses in the neighbourhood.  It used to be so much fun that sometimes we returned home only by 3 or 4 in the morning. We were laughing a lot, even dancing. Giving, receiving and unwrapping of gifts was always done on December 24, as well. Therefore, Canadian Christmas seems quite boring to me. It’s most likely a very nice celebration when somebody gives a Christmas party, but it is a really slowly unwinding night for people who do not have any guests, visitors and who are simply lonely.

Winter sky and tree

We cannot buy love or happiness with a gift, but we can show our love and gratitude. Giving somebody an opportunity to feel safe and preventing somebody from loneliness is a valuable gift, as well. There are people who only need you to be with them, and not much more. To light up a candle, to make a place for joy.

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