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A couple of weeks ago the Los Angeles Times ran the article Better Sleep, Better Living, which I found very interesting.  I meant to blog about the subject matter for that week’s Wellness Wednesday.  However, I ended up blogging about the post-election chaos in Iran instead, as it was heavily on my mind.

What type of sleeper are you? I used to be a deep sleeper. Somehow as I have gotten older that has changed.  I am not a morning person, yet, I have never been one of those people who can sleep in or sleep until past noon.  When I used to have a regular 8 to 5 job I always struggled to get out of bed in the morning, yet when the weekend came around I could not sleep past 8am, a whole two hours later than my usual wake up time during the week.

Interestingly, my sleep patterns do not reflect the outcome of the study presented in the article. As I have gotten older my sleep patterns have also become affected about how I feel. If there is something that bothers me profoundly, I will lose sleep over it. I have been known to toss and turn all night unable to sleep.

There are also other things that can have an impact on my sleep. I won’t talk to you about the hardship falling  asleep and all the nightmares that I would have the night before any exam.  The nightmares were always the same, I either never made it to the exam because I get lost or I had no means to get there OR I just sat there and because I forget everything.

I have found that there are also other factors that can affect my sleep. I know that it is in my best interest to stay away from coffee or strong tea in the afternoon, as well as not have a heavy dinner.  I have also found that Chamomile Tea works like a charm. It completely relaxes me and I eventually fall asleep.

Two other points of interest for me about the article were “cooling the brain” and “happy, rested couples.” I kind of chuckled at both.  Cooling the brain, yeah, I really have an issue with that. Sometimes, there are so many things going on in my head that I don’t seem to be able shut down my brain at night.  It is crazy how at times I have solved issues in my sleep simply because my brain just didn’t stop working.  Point and case,  last Friday morning I woke up and had a solution in regards to what to do with our dog while we are going on our road trip.  I woke up with a plan for the pending logistics of the last two days of it.

Now without reveling too much…my comment to the following quote was: YOU DON’T SAY!!!!

The quality of a couple’s sleep and relationship tend to follow the same trajectory, researchers said. On a day-to-day basis, a couple’s relationship affects how well they sleep. And how well they sleep affects how the relationship functions the following day.

Holly mother of God if that ain’t true, I don’t know what is! I have spent a few sleepless nights when I was furious with my significant other.  If things were bad the night before, then you better believe it that they are not going to be any better after a night spent tossing and turning!!

They always say that sleep can have an effect on your mood, alertness, state of mind, and weight.  I always try to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep.  I find that if I go past that, I don’t feel as good.  I also know that it is not as easy for me to go back to sleep once awakened in the middle of the night. I hate being awakened for this very issue.  You may be so amused to know that The Sous Chef works nights and gets home around 3am.  So needless to say that I don’t really get the luxury of having continues sleep because I get awakened by his not so subtle entrance. Or that he complains about the fact that The Dog and I have left him no room on the bed or there is not enough covers for him.  Or the latest? He woke me up one day last week at crack of dawn telling me to stop pinching him. In my perplexity over the accusation all I could utter was, “how can I pinch you if I was asleep?” But he was convinced and angry that I was pinching him.  Seriously, I had better things to do, such such as sleep! In retrospect, it may have been true, it must have been my subconscious mind telling my fingers to pinch him for waking me up as much as he does!!!!

Have you ever pondered about your own sleeping patterns?

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Last week I talked about having had the honor of having joined a group of Persian Ladies during their marathon vegetable and eggplant pickle making session.  I say marathon because they make bottle after bottle in preparation for the Iranian Bazaar which takes place on March 14th and 15th this year.  I joined them again for the first night that they started making kumquat jam. At some point during the evening we started  affectionately calling the evening “torture jam.” This is because we first picked through boxes after boxes of these tangy orange fruit discarding the bad ones and dividing the good ones into two piles, big ones and small ones.

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Then we washed them. Little did I know that the hardest part was about to being. We had to cut each kumquat and then squeeze them a bit in order for the seeds to fall off.  We worked as a team during this process where some did the cutting while others did the squeezing.

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Batch after batch the kumquats were boiled a few times in order to remove their bitterness before adding sugar and letting it all boil down into a jam.

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Now you would say “what the hell does all of this have to do with Wellness Wednesday?” Here is where these two subjects collide in my mind. In my little world it is important to take just as good care of your mental health as your physical health. Self esteem and how you generally feel about yourself is part of your mental health. How does one feel good about one self? It certainly doesn’t happen with looking at yourself in the mirror and saying ” You are a cool cat!!!!” Truth of the matter is that everyone has their own way. For me doing volunteer work has always been something important. Frankly, I have always believed that you should give back to your community anyway you can. I have always tried doing volunteer work. For me there is a huge sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that I dedicated a few hours of my own time to do something that makes a difference in someone else’s life. These emotions make me feel all peachy and fuzzy inside. In order words I feel better about myself as a human being.

As I had written in the previous post about the Iranian Bazaar all the proceeds of the sales of the pickles and jams go to charity.  For the few weeks leading up to the Bazaar the ladies of IAS of PV who belong to the Torshi/Moraba Committee are hard at work volunteering THEIR time every evening to get together and work as a team to make these delicious treats.  What is truly amazing about this group is that everything is donated, from the fruit and vegetables to the bottles.  So day after day they go the the house which has been designated as the Torshi and Moraba central and they work hard for a good few hours while chatting away with each other.  At the end of the Bazaar weekend all the proceeds of the sales are donated to charity.

I was told that the funds collected go to women’s shelter and eduction for Iranians in need. Upon attending an IAS meeting I was shell-shocked from the stories that I heard directly from Iranian social workers who work in the field in Los Angeles and Orange County and come across Iranian women who are abused.  When I heard the stories and what these women have been through it became very clear to me that I was in the right place and doing the right thing. These few hours are the epitome of the more fortunate helping the less fortunate. I don’t live in PV nor am I in a position where I can make substantial donations to those in need. While highly educated, I am currently unemployed due to our lovely economy. However, what I CAN do is give my own personal time for a good cause.

So what I am trying to say here is a couple of things. One is good to feel good about yourself. For me giving back to my community and belonging to a group who makes a pledge to make a difference by helping the less fortunate is a good way to feel good about myself. There is a huge sense of belonging and purpose that comes with being aware of what goes on around you and being aware that as a society we need to lean on each other, and work with each other, to make this world a little better for those who don’t have it as good as we do.

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Our friend Elena came up with the concept of Wellness Wednesday on her blog a couple of years ago.

Wellness Wednesday is about empowerment, acknowledgment and sharing.  Its about celebrating the millions of unique ways we can enhance our health and be responsible for the bodies we have.

For the past year the weekly post went into temporary hiatus.  She recently decided to bring it all back to life and I decided that it would be a cool thing to try out for my own blog. Let’s see how I do with this!

For the first post of this series I would like to start with something that I have mentioned a few times while posting for recipes. One of the many wonderful things that The Sous Chef brought into my life is the importance to shop at our local Farmers’ Market. We are regulars at the Torrance Farmers’ Market which is on Tuesday and Saturday mornings from 8am to 1pm.

By going shopping at the Farmers’ Market you are not only supporting your local farmers and economy, but you are also making a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.  People may not realize that going to the Farmers’ Market is also an environmentally friendly option because what you are buying has been grown locally and only travels a few miles. But most importantly you know where the fruit and veggies that you purchase come from. Also of great importance is the taste of the produce. One of the things that one notices immediately about the fruit and vegetables purchased at the Farmers’ Market is the difference in taste. Everything tastes so much better than the local grocery store.

Interestingly, I read an article on the  LA Times about how Farmers’ Market have become more popular among students. This is really exciting news and the article is well worth reading.

Please feel free to contribute to Wellness Wednesday. I would love to hear what the rest of you do. Also don’t be shy about leaving comments, I love comments!

Cheers!

The Chef 🙂

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