Mindfulness and Meditation are Gifts for Yourself

Mindfulness and Meditation are Gifts for Yourself

In these trying times, self-care is essential.

As I was writing the book summary for The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, an all time favorite, I was inspired to share my experience with mindfulness and meditation. In these extremely challenging times, it is even more important to be able to find your place of stillness. Your place of total rest. Thich Nhat Hanh shares that each of us needs total rest and most of us do not get enough. In his words, “Even a night of sleep doesn’t provide total rest. Twisting and turning, the facial muscles tense, all the while dreaming – hardly rest.” Mindfulness and meditation are gifts for yourself. It goes beyond relaxation and is the path to your center of joy, peace, and a clear mind. 

Reading The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh is like receiving letters from a wise friend about how to introduce mindfulness into your busy, stressful life. The book evolved from letters that Nhat Hanh wrote to Brother Quang to encourage workers during a dark time in Vietnam. Read our summary here.

The Miracle of Mindfulness

By Thich Nhat Nanh

My meditation practice gives me comfort and joy, and opens my heart to opportunities.

While I am not an expert, my meditation practice gives me comfort and joy, and opens my heart to opportunities. I started exploring meditation over 20 years ago when a friend of mine introduced me to Deepak Chopra’s books. By nature, I like to understand both the approach and the science behind it. Deepak does a great job of bringing years of meditation learning and science to the layperson. It has been a slow journey for me to get some routine to my practice. Today, I meditate most mornings for about 30 minutes. During my meditation, I take time to remember my aspirations for the future and to focus on what I am grateful for right now. Then, I get ready for the day with a deep sense of joy. Throughout the day, I try to take time to be present. I use simple exercises to bring me back to the now. For example, in the afternoon, I take a cappuccino break. When drinking the cappuccino, I focus on the smell, the taste, and the warmth — and enjoy. It may sound crazy, but it gets me out of my head and back to the here and now. 

When I get way out of balance, I take a day of mindfulness. I choose a weekend day when I can make sure I have no other commitments. It is almost like an at-home spa day. I start with my morning meditation, then my cup of tea, followed by a warm bath. With each activity, I am focused on just being in the moment. Experts recommend that you try to maintain a spirit of silence all day. I am only partially able to keep silent, but I keep talking to a minimum throughout the day. At lunch, I have a small, healthy lunch that I prepare for myself. I spend the rest of the day looking out the window, reading, or taking a walk. Then a light dinner and off to bed. This quiet, peaceful day gives me strength and joy. While I only take a few mindfulness days a year, each time I gain a sense of renewal. 

One thing for sure, mindfulness and meditation make my life more joyful.  

By nature, I am not a structured person, so my practice has its ups and downs. One thing for sure, mindfulness and meditation make my life more joyful.  

In these trying times, self-care is essential and if you have not tried meditation, why not give it a try? I started in my early days with the guided meditations by Deepak Chopra. You can find them on the Chopra app. 

My sincerest hope is that this glimpse into my mindfulness experience and sources are helpful. I would love to hear about your meditation practice.  

Chopra App

Irish Brown Bread

Irish Brown Bread

This hearty Irish Brown Bread is perfect for breakfast simply topped with butter or serve with soup for a satisfying lunch.

Yield: 1 loaf



1 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant), such as McCann’s, plus extra for sprinkling

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, such as Heckers, or stone ground whole wheat

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed.   Could substitute molasses

2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 (11- to 12-ounce) bottle Guinness extra stout beer, at room temperature

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for brushing the pan

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Salted butter, such as Irish Kerrygold

Oats and Flour Image
Brown Sugar and Buttermilk Image

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the beer, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. With your fingers, stir the batter from the middle of the bowl to the outside, until it’s well mixed. It will look more like cake batter than bread dough.

Brush a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with melted butter. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle the top with oats. Put the bread in the oven, immediately turn the temperature down to 400 degrees, and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn the bread out onto a baking rack and allow to cool completely. Slice and serve with salted butter.

Lunch Suggestion:  Pair this delicious Irish Brown Bread with our Butternut Squash Bisque.  You can find the recipe here.

Sam Shane Image

Recipe compliments of Home Chef and OPL Community member Sam Shane


OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

Choose Kindness for Yourself, Others and the Planet

Choose Kindness for Yourself, Others and the Planet

We need to double down on kindness.

Choosing kindness for yourself, others and the planet is good for the health and wellness of all.  We are living in extraordinary times with a pandemic that is escalating around the world and impacting our medical and economic systems. We tense as we hear daily news and work to keep ourselves and others safe. It is easy to get lost in anxiety. We have always needed kindness but even more so now. We need to double down on kindness. With so much negativity, we all need to increase positive messages to keep our balance. Kindness is the simplest thing you can do to make a difference for yourself, others, and the planet. 

All people respond positively to kindness. Think about a time when someone said something kind to you. In response, something inside lights up.  Remarkably,  this is true when a kind word or gesture comes from someone you know or a stranger. Even random acts of kindness have a positive impact. Kindness is a gentle and powerful way to lift someone up. When someone is kind to you, it makes you feel good.  You want to pass it on.  Kindness is contagious and it gives joy to both the giver and the receiver. 

Let’s amp up our kindness!

As we begin, we can look to Bernadette Russel for inspiration. She decided to do daily acts of kindness every day for one year. Her book, The Little Book of Kindness, shares her ideas on acts of kindness and is a great place to help you get started. 

The Little Book of Kindness cover.
Be Kind to Yourself

Start with being your own best friend and giving yourself positive messages and taking kind actions. They do not need to be big, but they have a big impact. This is how you build your strength and it enables you to be kind to others. One way to get started is to create a list of the things that you like. Focus on small things that bring a smile to your face or give you a moment to relax. For example, I love my morning tea and a cappuccino in the afternoon. I have made it a habit to sit a few minutes and relax while sipping my hot drink. They are the little things that help me get out of my head and enjoy a moment. This is only one example, but there are many little things that I try to do each day. And on the days that I do not have treat moments, I am grumpy. So start your list of ideas including treats, people you can laugh with, movement, eating healthy, meditation, reading, listening to music, and so on. Once you have your list, make it a habit to be kind to yourself several times a day. 

Be Kind to Others

The best thing you can do for someone else is to say “how are you doing?” and then listen. They are almost magical words – “how are you doing?”. When someone asks you this in kindness, you relax and feel cared for. As people we are social and it feels so good to have someone else see you and care about how you are doing. Your family, friends, and strangers can all benefit from kindness. When it comes to family it is easy to get stuck in routines, so shake it up with a little surprise kindness. 

In The Little Book of Kindness by Bernadette Russell, there is a whole section on how to be kind to the people you love the most. The top ten list includes treating them to breakfast in bed, leaving them notes that they will find later in the day, and making them their favorite food. When it comes to strangers it can be more difficult. We know that being kind to others that you do not know is putting yourself out there. You smile but you may not get one in return. It is a risk but well worth it. Because even if you do not see it, it does make a difference. You have the power to make a difference. There are so many ways to be kind. For example, it can be a smile, holding a door open, a thoughtful note, thanking someone, being a good listener, treating someone to coffee or tea. There is even an organization, Random Acts of Kindness Organization (randomactsofkindness.org) with materials and ideas. So select some kind of activities that suit you and share them with the world. It will make you happier and give joy to someone else.

Be Kind to the Planet 

Humans and our planet are intimately linked. We need to be able to make choices that benefit the planet and all life. One of the best ways to be kind is to be more environmentally aware. Stepping back and thinking about actions and how to reduce your footprint. There are many ways to do this and you will hear much more about this in 2020 from One Planet Life. To get started, look to be more thoughtful in shopping. Consider if you need new or can buy used. Buy more durable goods and buy from companies that are making changes to reduce their footprint. There are B-corporations that are dedicated to environmental sustainability. For example, Patagonia has wonderful products and is deeply focused on the community and causing no harm to the environment. Another example is Looptworks, a business that re-purposes and epicycles abandoned, pre-consumer, and post-consumer materials into limited edition products. Reduce your water usage to save on this most precious resource. Reduce the use of single-use plastic that is clogging up our waterways. Plant a tree in your area or support our local parks, wetlands, and local  land. Or donate to an organization such as One Tree Planted Organization (onetreeplanted.org).  

 It’s time to get started by identifying your kindness list. Make sure you start with actions for yourself and then move on to others and the planet. Here is a Little Kindness Tracker. It is a simple tracking form that can help you give this aspect of life more attention. Get better balance in your day with kindness acts to increase your positivity. Think about it as your kindness journal. Let yourself feel good about the little acts of kindness by jotting them down. Then once a week, take a look and reflect on the happiness you are creating through kindness. 

Kindness is the easiest way to make the world better!  Choose kindness with us! 

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with a Cinnamon Maple Glaze

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with a Cinnamon Maple Glaze

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with a Cinnamon Maple Glaze are a perfect Autumn-inspired afternoon treat served with tea, or to have on hand for a light breakfast during the Holidays.

Total Time: 2 hours (includes cooling time)

Yield: 8 servings

  • ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 ounces chopped pecans (3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Pumpkin Puree Image
Pecans and Eggs Image


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla and egg.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

Using a pastry blender (or two forks), cut the butter into the flour mixture.

Add the pecans and toss to combine. Use a fork to stir in the pumpkin mixture just until you have rugged dough.

Do not over mix.

Tip the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet and pat it into a 6-inch circle.

Cut the dough into 8 equal triangles and freeze them for at least 15 minutes. (Once they’re frozen, you could transfer them to an airtight container and keep them frozen for up to a month.) 

Spread the scones out on the baking sheet and brush with a bit of cream.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

Instructions for the Maple Glaze:

In a medium bowl, stir together sifted confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon.  Cover with a damp towel until you are ready to use.  Dip the top of each scone in the glaze, letting any excess glaze drip back into the bowl.  Place on a cooling rack.  Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and let set. 

Sarah Biddle Image

Recipe compliments of Home Chef Sarah Biddle and OPL Community Member

OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

Enjoy Your Coffee and Make a Difference

Enjoy Your Coffee and Make a Difference

As we enter the winter months, a good cup of coffee or tea is warm and invigorating.  It’s even more satisfying when you buy your coffee or tea from a company dedicated to making a difference.  If you live in North America where you cannot grow coffee or tea, then the only way to get them is through trade.  When we engage in long-distance trade the social and environmental implications are usually invisible.

Is the farmer being paid properly?

Is the ground being nurtured sustainably?

Are the people throughout the entire process being treated fairly and kindly?

So many questions. Well, if you are like us, you want a good cup of coffee and you want to promote good in the world.  The good news is many others care, too!

As a matter of fact there are over 60 B-corporations around that world that focus on great coffee or tea while improving the farming community and reducing the impact on the environment.  Whether buying for yourself or as gifts, you can make a difference the next time you buy your coffee. B-corps are a great way to shop with a positive impact!

To help you get to know these companies, we selected a few of the Certified B-Corporations in the United States focused on coffee. Enjoy your next cup of coffee!

Here are a few of the Certified B-Corporations Focused on Coffee:
Conscious Coffees Logo

Organic Fair Trade Coffee Roaster

Certified Since:  December, 2014

Location:  Boulder, Colorado, USA


Grounds for Change Logo

Coffee Roasting

Certified Since:  September, 2010

Location:  Poulsbo, Washington, USA



Just Coffee Coop Logo

Wholesale Coffee Roaster

Certified Since:  September, 2017

Location:  Madison, Wisconsin, USA


Mutu Coffee Logo

Fresh Roasted Coffee and Accessories

Certified Since:  February, 2018

Location:  Spokane, Washington, USA


Sustainable Harvest Logo

Coffee Importer

Certified Since: June, 2008

Location:  Portland, Oregon, USA


DeansBeans Logo

Organic, Fair Trade Coffee and Chocolates; Social Justice and Development Work

Certified Since:  October, 2018

Location:  Orange, Massachusetts, USA


Higher Grounds Trading Logo

100% Organic, Fair Trade Coffee.  Equipment, Training, and Technical Support.

Certified Since:  January, 2016

Location:  Traverse City, Michigan, USA


Larrys Coffee Logo

Roasted Coffee Beans, Tea, Coffee Mugs, Cold Brew

Certified Since:  March, 2011

Location:  Raleigh, North Carolina, USA


Peace Coffee Logo

Organic Coffee Roaster and Retailer

Certified Since:  November, 2017

Location:  Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


Thrive Farmers

Farm to Table Platform for Wholesale and  Retail Sales of Coffee and Tea

Certified Since: December, 2016

Location:  Roswell, Georgia, USA


If you would like to learn more about companies focused on doing good, please read our blogs, Social Enterprises and B-Corporations Make a Difference and Shopping to Make a Difference

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