Many of us don't necessarily think of our bodies as intelligent beings. After all, our dominant conscious mind is a function of the brain, not the body, right? But there are literally thousands of impulses moving throughout our bodies, to our brains, and back, every second that we're alive. And some of those impulses actually are conscious, and even more of them have the potential to be - if we just listen....

Eastern mystics and yogis for centuries have learned to consciously regulate things as "automatic" as their heartbeat, and meditation is a way of consciously altering brain function. So why do so many of us treat our bodies as inanimate objects - sacks of blood and bones, incapable of doing anything other than responding to stimuli unless told to do so by our almighty brains? If you stop and listen to your body once in a while, you might be surprised at what you might learn.

Obviously you know that your body can tell you things like when it's hungry, thirsty, or needs to sleep. But did you know it can also tell you what food is good and bad for it? How to relieve pain? What kind of exercise it needs? Actually it tells you these things all the time. We just don't notice, as most of us aren't trained to listen.

College costs continue to rise every year - and so do the number of students graduating with heavy debt loads. Nothing can throw your long-term financial plan off balance like $100,000 of student loan debt right when you're starting your new adult life at an entry-level job! And if you're a parent, nothing can throw your long-term financial plan off track like having to figure out how to get your kids through college, while facing the prospect of retirement just a few years later....

More and more families are forced to put their retirement plans on hold due to the high cost of college, while more and more graduates face daunting levels of debt all the way into their 40's - and sometimes even beyond. College costs don't seem likely to drop anytime soon, so how can you maintain financial balance and still get a good education?

Today I'll share three helpful tips that can help you navigate the costly maze that is a college education, and come out ahead - or at least not so far behind. Whether you are a parent or a student, these tips should help!

Last week we talked about the ethics of eating meat, and in particular, the problem of animal suffering. What we did not talk about, although Michael Pollan goes into it in some depth in his book, is the opposite side - the question of animal happiness.

I'm sure if you've ever been to a grocery store, you've seen some variation of "the happy cow." Maybe it was in the form of a smiling cartoon cow on a milk carton or package of cheese, or cows grazing peacefully in a meadow on the label of a plastic-wrapped roast.  Whichever form it was in, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Because although we humans don't like to think too deeply about the fact that the steak we're cutting into was not so long ago a live animal, when we do think about it, we like to think of the animals we eat as happy.  We want to believe that they had happy cow/chicken/pig lives, doing what cows/chickens/pigs like to do, before they became dinner on our plates.

Sadly, this is rarely (VERY rarely) the case in reality.... But we don't dig too deeply. For most of us, the happy cow on the box is enough "proof" to assuage our guilty conscience - although, as I often remind people, just because you refuse to know it's happening doesn't mean it isn't!
To tell the truth, if you will take a moment to look a little further, and not turn away this time, the majority of animals in the industrial food system are treated pretty horribly. Not necessarily abused in a malicious sense (although that almost certainly happens sometimes), but certainly not living out their natural desires. Most are kept in tiny cages or pens, without access to the outdoors - contrary to what that pretty, grassy pasture looks like on the milk carton. Some (cattle in particular) are basically force-fed things they were never meant to eat (i.e. corn), which makes them sick, which makes them require lots of antibiotics and other drugs to keep them alive long enough to slaughter. 

Thanks to those of you who submitted suggestions in reply to our question last week! Keep an eye out for posts addressing your preferred topic(s) coming soon....

I am nearing the end of The Omnivore's Dilemma, having taken my time to really think about each section, and enjoying my leisurely way through the story that is so well-told in its pages. I am now well into the hunting & gathering section, and it has made me think (again, as I often have before) about my feelings about eating meat.

As you probably know by now, I am not a vegetarian, and don't intend to become one. However, you never know how your tastes may change, so I won't say it's out of the realm of possibility. If I ever do make such a change, it probably will be for one reason only. As you also probably know by now, I do see humans as omnivores, and (clean, naturally & sustainably raised) meat as a healthy thing to eat (in moderation). After all, humans from all cultures, areas of the globe, and walks of life have been eating meat for thousands of years.