Getting Comfortable In My Own Skin

Trusting a process. Visibility. Expectations. Not small themes I think. They come up frequently with my clients a lot also. One year ago this month, I hired a professional photographer to take photos of me for business. Sounds nice, right? The truth was, I'd put this off for many years, in many ways, and for plenty of good and not so good reasons. I found a lovely woman to work with and we got rolling. 

I wrote about the experience right afterwards, but wasn't ready to share it until now. Sometimes I need to process and wait until the right time. My earliest experience with a professional photographer was when I was a kid; my brother and I were taking theater/acting classes, and they suggested we get head shots for auditions. I'll never forget the man who lead the company telling me (in his deep, chain-smoker voice) that I 'didn't have the look and didn't photograph well'. I was devastated. I remember feeling so bad about myself in that moment - 'too fat, not pretty, not good enough'. Our culture and mass media messaging hasn't exactly helped with this either eh? These sorts of experiences allow us to make up stories that become imprinted and, later, proven over and over again - and what else was I to think? My brother was adorable, took fantastic photos, and booked commercials. The result was placing him on a pedestal - one I would never be on. 

Having professional photos taken all these years later - even though the context and my own personality is very different - I still carried some of those beliefs and stories with me. We all do that, don't we? Find ways to prove those old stories right, even if it means making up more stories in our minds? We just vacuum that junk right up. My good friend Michelle often laughs with me about this very thing as we say: "Let that shit go." Easier said than done, sometimes.

Last summer was already a very challenging time for me, but I was open to learning from being with that pain. It is often through those difficult times that there are countless healing moments, hidden gems, and things that can save - if you allow them. I thought, "This is the time to get those photos taken. It will be different, it will help me feel better!" Talk about high expectations. I thought I'd feel AMAZING during the shoot...and I didn't. I was petrified, nervous, and tense. I had created an entire fantasy that having photos taken would be an immediate, transformative and magical experience, but the reality was that although the photographer was fabulous and one which I highly recommend, I felt exhausted and spaced out by the end. As I dragged myself to Whole Foods to try and piece together some sort of dinner and catch the fleeting sunset to enjoy my 'accomplishment', I realized this was just like any other day. I had put so much pressure on myself!  

We often reap the rewards of our actions and accomplishments LATER (hence the term 'hind-site is 20/20’). Immediate gratification is what we get sometimes (social media has messed with us on this), but many things of real value are worth waiting for, and grow over time. Now, I can look back and see that I did have some fun and learn a lot - it just wasn't what I expected, and that's okay! I am so proud of myself for taking those photos, and I feel like it's a good time to share about it. Then, I was filled with fear and loneliness during a difficult time - and that photo shoot did eventually help me feel better. It just wasn't in the way or at the time I thought it would happen. 

I took a scary leap. I trusted a capable, talented woman, and learned a lot through something uncomfortable. Next time, it will actually be different. I now know what to do. I was reminded of how hard I am on myself, how human I am, and that I need to remember: 'perfectly imperfectly perfect'. We allow so many limiting beliefs to yank us down to homeostasis - but getting more comfortable in your skin takes time and is possible. I am grateful for that. 

It's All Connected

"I’m a grown woman, and I don’t know how to eat. As I sit here writing this, I’m trying to resist the urge to get up and buy the giant coconut cream doughnut calling my name from the bakery case at the other end of the coffee shop." 

Can you relate? Most of us can. It can feel so confusing. So overwhelming. So frustrating as we try to manage, navigate and decipher the conflicting messages of our minds, bodies and emotions in relation to "how to best nourish ourselves".  Our environment impacts us, and some of the things we learned early on -- later we come to see we need to unlearn.... 

The experience that Elizabeth went through wasn't just impactful for her but for many people I know and work with, including myself. I understand the challenges associated with emotional eating, feeling run down and grabbing for anything to pick me up, feeling lonely and stuck in what seemed like an endless cycle that I wanted out of. And I ALSO know that satisfying and pleasurable results are absolutely possible - I am committed to this. Witnessing someone go through so much transformation is always a little mind-blowing. 

Learning how to properly nourish and befriend our bodies can be a battle that all of us go through at one time or another, and it changes as we change. Some of us go through this profoundly early in life and outgrow, heal and recover as part of our life story. Some of us realize it's happening as adults. We can't do this life alone - that's for sure. I loved being able to help Elizabeth through this process. Like many of us she is on a continuum and there is more......Releasing our outdated and harmful relationship with food (and other things in our lives) leaves us with freedom and energy that are hard to imagine until you go through it.  One must go through this with guidance, support and care with someone who truly gets it from the inside out and the outside in. 

You can read Elizabeth's full article on her experience here. Are you looking for some support? Do you want to discover how to take real-deal care of yourself (and in turn those you love)?

Being of Greater Service

Believe it or not, I recently returned from my second trip to Japan this year. WOW. Epic travels. I told someone that trips like that are a universe all to themselves. Quite different in almost every way than the last one, though equally as beautiful, challenging, surprising and fascinating. I always learn so much through my travels about my own health and also how I can be of greater service to others.

ONE of the ways I find I can be of greater service to myself and my community has to do with managing sleep routine. I've certainly noticed the things that don't feel great when I am out of sync with getting good sleep. It's no wonder, even just one sleep-deprived night can impact your stress hormones (like cortisol) levels for days.

This sometimes means I feel hungrier, gain weight, feel more anxious and am left with increased inflammation. I can sometimes fall into emotional eating to boost my energy and mood. These are not great cycles to get caught in for any of us. 
 
To help with my sleep routine I put together breath work exercises to unwind at the end of the day. As a bonus, it ALSO has an impact on my skin! Last month I shared with you all about a group I was a part of to help others learn ways to "feel good in the skin you're living in" and breath work is a piece of that. All this to say that breath work is one tool that has many benefits. (I love things like that!)

I wanted to share these benefits with others, SO I made a video of some simple yet impactful breathing exercises that I highly recommend trying out for yourself.  These exercises can also be really helpful in managing any pain you might be experiencing (both emotionally and/or physically-- I have used them a lot for both and especially now as I am nursing an injury that is really putting me to the test.) I hope the video is a helpful for you. Let me know! And cheers to better sleep and all else!

Love The Skin You're In

Guess what people, your skin is your largest organ. We tend to forget that fact just like we forget or disconnect from many things regarding our body and what is going on. There are many things we can do that impact the vitality of our skin from both the inside out and the outside in.

So here’s the deal. Detoxification and absorption of nutrients or toxins also applies to your skin! What we put ON our skin can either help or harm our health (and of course the same is true for what we eat or supplement with). I learned that it takes 23 seconds for our skin to literally absorb what you put on it and then it goes into your tissues and bloodstream. The digestion workshops I teach include skin health because our skin connects with everything else in our bodies. As we know, the cosmetic industry is a biggie—people spend endless amounts of money on “smooth, ageless skin”. Yes, the skincare aisles are filled with products claiming to smooth wrinkles, reduce fine lines and create a glow—some of these DO work, but at what cost? Some of the best skin boosters are things you may not even have considered! Here are just a few quick skin-care faves sans the surgery or harsh chemicals. 

1. MEGA HYDRATION: Without enough H2Ohhhhhhh, your skin can become dry, flaky and even prone to breakouts and wrinkles. Quality water, without chlorine, which kills good gut bacteria on contact, is one key! The probiotic strains of bacteria in your gut are crucial to functions such as extracting nutrients from your food that make their way to your skin. (Something I am always learning more about!). Drinking lots of natural spring water or glass bottled water is one of the best ways to keep your skin hydrated! Hydration is crucial for maintaining skin's moisture and flushing out toxins. 
 
2. SLEEP and CORTISOL: Did you know that falling asleep while watching TV prevents your body from releasing sufficient melatonin and getting the deep restorative rest it needs to repair and recover properly? During our sleep is when our bodies do ALL the detox and repair work, which in turn affects the regenerative effect of skin health. When people overwork themselves at the expense of quality sleep, their cortisol (stress hormones) elevates and strains their adrenals—all of which causes damaging effects on our skin health and the delicate balance of our body. Very little is more damaging to your skin's health than long term heightened levels of cortisol, your fight or flight hormone, pumping through your body. It’s essential to get this flowing at a normal rate. Even more important than the number of hours you sleep is  the quality of the sleep you do get. Focus on a dark, quiet and cool room without technology around you.
 
3. STRESS: We ALL encounter different degrees and types of “stress”. It’s part of being a human in the world. Sometimes stress is helpful like during physical exertion or exercise, but prolonged, ongoing stress can be really damaging even to our appearance. Stress can cause immune compromise which results in acne or rashes in some people. It can be helpful to incorporate stress adapting foods and supplementation which helps counteract the effect of this kind of stress. Adaptogens, which I have previously written about, along with stress reducing breathing exercises, short meditations and spending time in nature, thankfully, all have stress reducing effects. So does laughter!!
 
4. HERBS and ESSENTIAL OILS: So much to say about this one. They nourish you at a deeper level than regular fruits and vegetables can and in different ways. David Wolfe writes a lot about super herbs like reishi, chaga and schizandra, but I’m talking about simpler things you can consume often like cilantro, parsley and bergamot oil (three of my faves!). These directly influence the appearance of your skin from the inside out, and you can consume daily without your body developing resistance. 
 
5. FOODS: Add in the right fats! Quality fats are key components for glowing and healthy skin. Bad oils like canola, which are oxidized and damaged will not boost that glow. Good fats like coconut oil, avocado, grass fed butter, cacao, sesame oil and extra virgin olive oil are loaded with vitamins and minerals that make it shiny, moist and rich. And I mean both topically and internally. Also, working to cut sugar cravings tremendously helps your skin, and overall health, thrive.
 
Your skin is easily influenced by what you take in. Skin goes through many cycles of renewal and repair. Optimal nutrition gives your skin the materials it needs to thrive and that means eating a variety of whole foods which include a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins and omega 3 fatty acids, along with proper supplementation, which we also need. 

Make nutritional skincare a priority and ensure these are included!!
 
6.VITAMIN C and BEYOND: Healthy skin needs a good supply of the protein called collagen, which you may have heard of. This is the most abundant protein in your body and it’s found in the connective tissue and skin. It gives skin durability, structure, elasticity and bounce. We need Vitamin C to manage the collagen. The antioxidant Vitamin C is also a free radical scavenger and can aid in repairing the oxidative damage done to your skin cells to keep it looking healthy. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, spinach, broccoli and more. Additionally, supplementing with high quality Vitamin C will boost the nutrient value of these foods. There are several other vitamins and minerals that boost skin health for a host of reasons. The key is getting only high quality supplementation. Glucosamine, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Coenzyme Q10, Alpha-Lipoic Acid (also great at fighting free radicals and giving you that “glow” because it regulates nitric oxide levels and ALA also regulates Glutathione) and Cucumin (derived from tumeric, reduces puffiness and inflammation).
 
Your skin is only as healthy as the cells that make it! Beware—I can get a little nerdy sometimes with all of this. Science fascinates me, bridges being built fascinates me, what humans are capable of fascinates me, and I see the human body as a micro version of the macro world we live in. Cells work together by communicating through electrical and chemical impulses. SOME of these impulses even occur through our stress responses and the messages we send them but that’s another conversation. Cellular communication is the foundation for skin health, and the vitality of all your overall health. What we consume and what we put on our skin ensures your skin cells are a well-oiled machine and fit for duty. Promoting your cells’ natural ability to communicate helps your body and skin look good and feel great. We have choices in this matter! When selecting nutritional supplements and shopping for food, look for items that provide a wide range of vitamins (especially C and E), minerals, omega-3s and healthy proteins. Think about what you can do to support healthy cellular communication. That includes consuming foods and supplements that have plenty of antioxidant activity, are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals and contain plenty of phytonutrients. What you choose not to eat is also important. Limiting sugar and refined carbs can be helpful for your skin. So next time you reach for a snack, think about how it might feed into the beauty of your skin. 

What I'm Up To

April is the first month where it fully feels like spring - in all it's fickle ways. Flowers are poking out and it slowly feels a little like a heavy burden has been lifted after a long winter. Do you feel that way? I also know it's a time when we begin feeling like we want to 'lighten up' as we seasonally transition. 

What heavy burden needs to be lifted from you this spring? Is it an emotional load, a challenging relationship, over-eating, physical pain that just won't go away? Maybe just the feeling of day-to-day life feeling flat? If you still need to shake off the last of the winter blues and start blooming with all of your potential this spring, take a cue from the flowers.

Spend Time Outside
Get outside and get moving. I mean just breathe outside! The Earth is waking up, the ground below is slowly thawing, rejuvenated and ready - let some of that energy pass on to you. Literally place your hands on the ground and touch it, make contact with the dirt! Take a long walk, or sit on your balcony at night and enjoy the longer days. Just get out there and get some sun in your face even when the air is still cool. 

Time To Rest
Many flowers close in once the sun sets; this allows them to stay protected, conserves and revitalizes their energy, and ensures that they're ready to bloom bright and early the next morning. If you need to lighten your load a bit, try living this way. Meditation can be a simple five or ten minutes using an app to lead you. Make a commitment to go to sleep earlier, and allow your body to reset its energy for the next day. 

My Trip To Japan

As you may know, I traveled to Japan recently, and it was a diverse and fascinating experience. I am happy to share even a few chunks with you! 

One reason I love traveling abroad is because it obviously allows me to experience other cultures firsthand and step out of my comfort zone.

Japanese culture is beautiful, while being both wild and controlled all at the same time. It is steeped in ancient artful traditions, yet also embracing new fads, fashions, and technologies. 

I really appreciate how Japanese culture is expressed artistically and aesthetically through various mediums. Food of course is one of those mediums, and it's just gorgeous what they create - brilliant actually. The same goes for the way they use paper folding (more than just origami!), and also the art of the environment - like feng shui, but called 'fusui' in Japan. Or there is the art of pottery that looks different depending on the region. Then, of course, there is the spiritual and medicinal parts of Japanese culture which of course I love, and the therapeutic art of the 'onsen' - an old ritual of the bath house and hot springs - divine!! (Each one of these could have its own newsletter, this is only a mention because I believe all of these connect with the various aspects of holistic health and wellness, so certainly worth mentioning). 

Japanese culture takes real honor and pleasure in the art of things, and they have been studying these practices for thousands of years. It leaves me asking - how can we take pleasure in these in our lives more, and as an act of self care and presence. I'm curious what that means to you!

Making mundane tasks an art form can be extremely beautiful and peaceful. It requires a calm focus.... actions that are intentional rather than random, and there is so much to be learned through that present intentionality!

Are You Wanting to Feel Simply Fabulous?

I hope you are in some way or another finding ways to love yourself more compassionately, fully, and graciously.

I know this is not always so easy to do especially in moments when we feel we have failed or don't like some part of what the mirror tells us. What a twisted game that can be, right? Oh don't I know it.

In 2018, I took a long trek to Japan.

I was fortunate to take this richly fulfilling trip though it also actually took a much harder toll on my health than I had anticipated. I have traveled my whole life and it's something that I have always made a priority and which I gain so much from each time. This time what I gained in terms of my physical health was navigating some real deal food allergies which I am now recovering from. I usually can manage these pretty well with when I travel. This time was very different. Some of you might be able to relate! I am allergic to wheat and have a difficult time with soy and let me tell you those are the two MAIN ingredients in EVERYTHING in Japanese cooking. I didn't realize just how prevalent it was even though I read and did research before leaving it still was really tough for me and I was exposed WAY more than ever.

I talk with my clients frequently about navigating nutrition, minimizing or avoiding gluten, dairy and sometimes corn and soy too. It can be tricky to do here in the US at times but in Japan it was a whole other ball park and at many times there was nothing I could do about it. I am really so grateful for this diverse and extraordinary adventure while at the same time--not feeling good physically-- still getting over the jet lag and also very swollen and inflamed from the over exposure to things I am allergic to. Not so pretty let me tell you. And I am learning, once again, to be patient with myself and with the set backs in life that we all have sometimes. Se la vie! 

Comfort zone pushing goals

One of my "comfort zone pushing goals" in 2018, aside from foreign travel, was to create (one minute) videos, because it's something I'd been petrified of. I had hoped that by doing it I could be of greater service in the world and also shift some things in myself in the process. It is a process indeed-- most things in life that matter seem to be, and patience, acceptance and letting go are certainly some helpful pieces, just like that with our health struggles as I just mentioned above-- PATIENCE and care, true self care.

I started an experiment/challenge with my good friend Mary. She kept encouraging me to make these videos about the things we talk about and more! It was time to stop letting my fear rule me so much. So the "Simply Fabulous VideoChallenge" began on January 1st, and went from the original 14 days to the whole month. I would choose something in-the-present-moment to focus on which somehow related to simple ways to feel good. Holistic health tips, speaking your truth, and making your life a little more "Simply Fabulous" we all can use more of I'm sure. These videos are all a minute or less and are a source for things like setting intentionsquick mood-boosting recipes, and expanding your comfort zone.  

The videos can be found on my YouTube channel here.

I'm so grateful for the opportunities that stepping out of my comfort zone has given me - traveling, learning how other cultures view holistic health, and getting to engage more with my clients! 

Here's to loving ourselves more fully, and doing things that scare us!

Spring and Your Health Checklist!

As Spring approaches, I am reminded that with the sunshine comes a time to practice self-love for my body. It can be more natural to focus on internal health and growth during the winter months, because the cold makes it easier for us to look inward, feel more calm, and to store up that energy. Just as Mother Nature uses winter as a time of rest, our bodies and minds do the same. And, as Mother Nature uses Spring to burst forward with life and color, we have the opportunity to follow her lead! 

As the season for sunshine and being outdoors comes up, focus some intentionality on your physical being.

Get Dirty!
Getting dirty can be exposure to common bacteria, and common bacteria are good for you. When they routinely inhabit our bodies, they can produce vitamins and proteins we need to help make our immune and gastrointestinal systems work. That's why kids love to play in the dirt, right? Getting dirty also usually involves exercise of some sort; going on a walk, taking a hike, spending the day running along the beach - all of these get your heart rate up, and will leave you feeling fabulous. 

Check out community-supported agriculture. 
When you sign-up for weekly deliveries or pickups, you get access to seasonal produce, flowers, and eggs, while local farmers get a guaranteed income base. Most seasons run from late spring through early fall. Visit http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ to find the CSA program near you. The other benefit of supporting local agriculture is that it gives you the opportunity to eat good food - food that is back to the basics, allows you to do more home cooking, and is sourced close to home.

Listen to your body. 
Whether it's your heartbeat, your hurt knee, your level of fatigue, your love for the sensation of speed skating that you're always ignoring - there are always messages there. Part of listening to your body is taking care of it before that pain comes up. Prevention is always easier than the cure, and that means keeping up on the right screenings, immunizations, and exams (even if you feel healthy!). This helpful graphic below from www.forhims.com gives you a list of what tests, etc. you should be getting done based on your age.

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I hope that as this new season of warmth unfolds, you feel sunshine within your soul, freedom in your own skin, and excitement for a time of blooming and beauty. Happy Spring! 

Making Room for Love

I hope that you are setting intentions to love yourself more compassionately, fully, and graciously! One way that I have been improving my self-love is stretching my comfort zone. It feels so good in those zones, doesn't it?

But around that comfort zone is fear. Fear is there for a reason, and we have to learn to talk to it. So at the beginning of 2018, I decided to partner with my fear and allow facing it to grow me and my soul. I started my Simply Fabulous Video Challenge on January 1st, and it has been such a journey! I was nervous about doing the videos, and to be honest, most days I didn't necessarily feel like doing them. But I am so proud of myself for following through on something I committed to, and I always felt better after doing them. 

One of my favorite parts of this one-minute a day series was that it connected me with other people in a new way. Asking clients, friends, and even strangers how they felt Simply Fabulous gave me insight to their soul, created beautiful conversations, and encouraged those that watched the videos. I noticed that every answer to the question, "how do you feel Simply Fabulous", had to do with love. Self-love, love for others, or love for community. It made me realize that in breaking through my comfort zone, I had made more room for love.

Loving yourself enough to break through your comfort zone will always open the path for more love to come into your life, and for you to spread more love to others. 

I'm so excited to share my Simply Fabulous video challenge with you. 

Each of these videos includes simple tips to enrich your life, and get you thinking. This journey has pushed me to do things that have held me back, and I'm so grateful for the growth it has provided. To follow my videos, go to my YouTube or Facebook!! 

Here's to loving ourselves more fully, and doing things that scare us! 

Setting Holistic Health Goals

With a new year comes a "reset button" of sorts, and for many of us it also means remembering or recommitting to goals, desires and ways we want to feel (notice I did NOT say "resolutions"--that is SO 1995!)

One of my past goals was to connect with people through different mediums. That's right... I'm talking videos. (See more on my video challenge below). I knew it was time to shift my energy and one way to do that is to do something that scares you a bit-- or pushes your comfort zone because that is one of the ways we grow. 

Whether you've recently reconnected with any goals/dreams/visions/deep desires or not for yourself, consider these things as you move forward into a new time...

Your Authentic Inner Voice
Goals, dreams, desires -- all that-- usually consist of some form of actions we can take: meditate more consistently- or at all, try a yoga class, cook more nourishingly, manage our finances differently-- the list goes on and on. While the actions themselves have benefits, sometimes we forget to ask oursevles why we've chosen those action steps at all. Why do you want to cook more nourishingly? Is it to feel better about yourself? To have more energy? To find joy in your body and all it's capable of or heal some inflammation?

Knowing why you want to achieve something is just as important as achieving it because it will give you a glimpse into what you really need. If you're wanting to lose weight to have more energy, you may want to try different types of exercise than if you're wanting to find out what your body is capable of. One reason we fail in our goals or desires is because we never asked our body for wisdom in why we need to accomplish that goal in the first place-- we just think we are "supposed to do it". 

Everything Ties Together
Our body and mind are connected, which means they need to be allowed to connect in regards to goals. Maybe one of your goals is to be a more free person; free of others expectations, free of guilt, whatever it may be. Your spirit craves freedom, so what is your body doing to cage it in? Are you not wearing that dress because of fear of others' opinions, or not reaching out to create a new community for yourself because you're "too busy" (and using that excuse to remain hidden from your true self)? When a goal appears from the outside to be in a certain category (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc.), ask yourself how it relates to the other categories so your whole person knows what the goal is and can achieve it. 

I'm feeling "bashfully excited"  to share my 'Simply Fabulous video challenge' with you. 

I decided to make a one minute video every day for 30 days to connect with others and, in a new way, to continue to be of service in a healthy, creative and fun way AND to do something that terrified me. My goal with each video is to bring simple things to enrich your life. It's pushed me to do things that scare me and have held me back for a very long time. To me, this is just as much a part of holistic health as how we fill our plates or get massages-- it's all connected and all important to care for. 

Plugging into Our Energy Source

At the end of the year, I hear people saying "thank god THIS year is over" as if it was "all bad" and as if they didn't say the same thing last year. I don't like to think of a whole year in such black and white terms, but marking time as a place where we get to press the "reset button" and start a new year usually feels good regardless. I certainly need that!

At the beginning of the 2017 holiday season, I had intended on sending a newsletter before Christmas but my body had other plans for me - I got sick! Talk about all "plans" on hold. I'm sure a few of you can relate to this, eh? Not only that but the mix of nasty virus AND Christmas time was perfect breeding ground for some emotional turmoil. I often feel quite vulnerable when I'm sick and it creates that interesting blend of both total gratitude for all I have AND sadness for the loss of what is now gone or totally changed.

Holidays stir this up for me but so does being sick. Can any of you relate to these things? 

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One of the most challenging aspects of the holiday season is finding balance; our external surroundings demand a lot of us - much of which is positive, while still pulling from our energy. Our internal being needs rest and nourishment to keep up with everything. It can be hard to strike that "sweet spot" between our social engagements and holiday traditions, and responding to what our body needs. So, sometimes we just get sick right at that time. OR we can prevent it by saying NO more and letting things GO. 

SLOW. LET GO. AND NO. 

When you find yourself starting to feel stressed or worn out during the holidays, consider this....

Holiday Lights

Yes, the lights hanging from houses and around trees and possibly still sitting in storage because you haven't had time to put them up yet (and so what if you haven't!). I enjoy lighting Hanukkah candles purely for the sake of bringing in more light during such dark times and because it connects me to something beyond just myself. 

The lights are gorgeous, and they are not "on" all the time. In fact, for most of the day they sit, unplugged and unlit. This doesn't diminish their beauty or usefulness at all, it leaves them prepared to do what they do best at night - create light. I am giving you permission to unplug; if it's five minutes or five hours, take time to breathe, to actually practice gratitude, and to ask your body what it needs to feel respected. When you unplug, you're making room to create light for yourself and others when it's time. Lights that stay plugged in all day burn out quickly. Your energy is the same way....

Lights also must be plugged in to their source to create light. In the same way, you need to be plugged into a source that will feed you energy. Find a daily ritual that brings you peace, and create room for that ritual every day. We have an opportunity to breathe life and calm into the craziness of the holidays, or to let it consume us; choose to plug into your source and maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. And if you don't know what it will take for you to have that-- let me know-- I'll help you find it. 

Finally, lights bring joy. Who doesn't love walking down the street and seeing houses lit up, trees decorated, and the city dressed up? As you shine your light, you give others permission to shine theirs and there is room for EVERYONE to shine, always. You have something so valuable to give that no one else can give quite like you do; it's actually true. Spending time recharging is  as much for yourself as for others, so that you may bring your best self into all relationships. I guess that nasty virus detox was my recharge/rest version this time. 

I hope you can tackle the holiday seasons and all seasons with passion, grace for yourself and others, and the ability to presently enjoy every second you spend with others. I would love to hear how you decide to unplug and fill your energy source during the holidays, or anytime. 

Coffee!

I have always been intrigued with the ways we use food and beverages to impact and alter our moods, emotions, and bodies...as well as our brain chemistry and, of course, our health. I hear about these issues all the time.

Recently a dear friend sent me a message that stuck with me, “Coffee is my courage”. Wow, what a statement. It says so much! Many of us find ourselves relying on one of the most popular substances throughout time, so I wanted to say a little bit about it.

Coffee!!

Don't worry friends, I'm not here to tell you to stop, only to consider. Clients often ask me things like "is coffee good or bad?" and I tell them the same thing I do about many things we consume....

  1. How does it make YOU feel? What is your personal experience with coffee/caffeine? 
  2. Things are not always black and white (Oreos and Zebras not included) There are variables for quantity, quality and frequency...
  3. What are your health concerns? For example, if you told me that you have high anxiety and/or massive adrenal fatigue, insomnia (or a host of other things) then coffee might not be right for you. Or maybe you should consider the occasional organic decaf. Sometimes all you need is to take "time off the stuff" twice a year, or cut on how much you consume. I have experimented with ALL of these things. 
  4. I would also say that for every "top ten benefits of coffee” you will find a list of “top ten not-so-beneficial effects of coffee”. ALL can be true and we must find what really works best for us as individuals. What is right for YOU and your body, time of life, stress and anxiety levels, hormonal issues, digestive health and much more. Not to mention the kind of coffee and how you prepare it. YEP. ALL of these things.
  5. The other thing I like to mention is about rituals of pleasure and coffee is certainly one for people-- the smell, the social aspects, the cafes, the morning quiet time with your rich warm beverage. This one I also enjoy talking about, the ways that it brings so much pleasure to peoples lives.
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In life we strive for balance, and coffee is included in that. There are health benefits to coffee, I read about them daily and from the health practitioners and educators I look up to and consult with. Coffee has also been scrutinized for health risks, So what's "the truth" about coffee? I have collected dozens of articles on this topic since it comes up so much. I'm not posting them all here but I will share more of them over the coming months along with other popular topics. 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, "moderate coffee consumption (three to four cups per day) has been linked with longer lifespan. In fact, a November 2015 study in Circulation found that coffee consumption was associated with an 8% to 15% reduction in the risk of death (with larger reductions among those with higher coffee consumption)." Lower risk of death?! This made me laugh. Of course there are plenty of other ways to get the same health benefits from other substances but for those of you who are die hard coffee peeps I'm sure you'll be happy to hear this. 

Coffee continues to be investigated. Scan the following list; these are all conditions that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of: 

  • cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke)
  • type 2 diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • uterine and liver cancer
  • cirrhosis
  • gout

Consider the things I mentioned above and see what rings true for you. Some things we do or consume in our lives change as time goes on. We find that what used to work doesn't and vice versa.
My personal experience with coffee has had many incarnations over the years along with all I have been through with my physical and mental health-- and there are plenty of times I couldn't have any at all for long periods of time. Some times I missed it and other times not. One thing is for sure I have always had a love affair with it that sexy brew!

Courage, Creativity, and Cookies

People often come to me seeking to heal something -- physical pain, weight loss, inflammation, or another health issue. Moments before I was about to get on the call to do my interview for the Rewire Your Brain Training Series, a grouping of words flooded forward:

Clarity, Commitment, Compassion, Challenge, Consciousness, Courage, Connection, Community, Change, and last but not least, Cookies and Creativity.

OK - so why these words? What's the connection with the work I do and with this talk series?

The title of the talk series is "Rewiring our brains to think thin."
First of all I want to say that thin does not automatically mean healthy, nor do I believe that one isn't healthy if they aren't "thin." NOT AT ALL! And of course "thin" means different things to each person, each body type, time of life, health issues and more. One of the joys of humanity is variation and beauty in all shapes and sizes.  What I tell my clients is that any weight loss is a happy side effect of some kind of essential healing going on and NEVER do we use the word "diet." In fact, I would even say throw away all of your "diet books" and think more about these C's to rewire your "thinking thin healthy mindset."

CLARITY
What is your deeper WHY? You must stay connected to this essential part daily as to WHY you are wanting healthy change in your body/life and it has to be YOUR reason, no one else.

COMMITMENT
Your word and your worth are everything. Another daily choice needed for true change: to Commit and recommit over and over and over again.  Committing to your deeper why and to your vision. Daily commitment to this relationship is a choice and an important one -- it's more than trying. It's actually doing it no matter what and that's not always easy of course. That's why we can't do it alone. Which brings me to...

COMMUNITY and CONNECTION
There's a saying "community builds immunity!" It is also support and accountability. And most importantly we need to be witnessed in our lives -- those who really "see us" and stand for us as we commit, connect and get healthier in whatever ways we deeply desire. We need close connections. Healing and mind-set actually don't happen all in isolation, yes alone time in essential, but we need to balance it with community and authentic connection. 

COMPASSION
For ourselves! For our imperfectly perfect bodies exactly as they are the whole time. Improving our health is a non-linear process and we must trust that process and continue finding gentle compassion for ourselves along the way. This is a hard one for so many people -- we can be compassionate towards others but I most often see in myself and others the challenges that come when we aren't being compassionate with ourselves as we work towards our deepest desires, goals and dreams and especially as we learn to listen to the wisdom of our bodies.

CHANGE
All of this means inevitable change and even the good kind of change can be confronting and hard to accept. We get comfortable with our negative patterns as well...

COURAGE
All of this takes courage to challenge our comfort zone, despite a million moments that scream "forget it!" Even when it's tough -- it's courageous to say "no way I'm not giving up on living my best self."

COOKIES AND CREATIVITY
There are obviously a lot of C words that came to mind and I had to list this one because it's a great reminder that sometimes we need to do what I call "Flip It!" For example: I stopped my emotional crutch of eating cookies late at night before bed and instead decided to FLIP IT. I created a delicious and healthy breakfast cookie recipe that I now enjoy in the morning instead! I look forward to it and feel that having treats is essential, plus it's got fantastic ingredients that fill and fuel me in the best way AND set me up so that I don't even crave them at night anymore. I "flipped it" and can start my day that way. Many of my clients now do this. Where can you "FLIP IT" somewhere in your life? Get creative and flip your cookies ; )

Adaptogens

Adaptogens!

Adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants that "meet you where you are" --they can help promote hormonal balance and protection from the effects of raised cortisol levels caused by everyone's favorite thing: STRESS.

I have tried them all at different times. You may have heard of some: maca, astragalus, Asian ginseng, rhodiola. I look forward to sharing more with you about ALL of these! For now, I'll mention one of my personal regulars, which is always a favorite in Ayurvedic medicine: ashwaganda.

Ashwagandha has been shown to lower the hormones that disrupt endocrine function and prompt premature aging. Some people also report positive effects in dealing with anxiety, depression, and systems of menopause. Try it out and see what it does for you!

Rewiring Our Thinking

The old photo here is one from many years ago and one I'll never forget. My family was on a trip together and the place where we were staying had a trampoline right on the beach.

Now, I really love a good trampoline but at the time the idea of jumping on one in my bikini sounded like a nightmare. I'm sure there is no need for explanation for that one. The punch line really is that I decided to get the hell out of my own way and go for it despite things jiggling and feeling self conscious and "huge"-- I mean, when else would I ever have the chance to jump like wild on a trampoline and then leap into the ocean again? I can tell you that I never have done that again since AND that once I started just doing it-- I did NOT care about how it looked AT ALL. All that mattered was the laughter and liberation. Finding ways to take pleasure and joy in our bodies no matter where we are along the way is something I certainly work on with myself and in my work daily. Rewiring our thinking is a huge part of that!!

Now is the Time!

I know, time flies, right? EVERY year people are like, "Wait- how is it August already?" Well my friends, it is, and time waits for no one- not even in the long days of summer. I have always loved summer's bounty, its colorful gardens, playful adventures in the sunshine, and also its growing pains. I remember going to summer camp (I lived for it all year long!). Camp shaped me and taught me how to love better in community and in forming new and important relationships. I learned how to be in nature and have it feed my spirit and also how to enjoy being a creative girl in all ways and have it be appreciated. I learned about love and heartbreak and how to keep going in preparation for the year to come. These things still all are real and true, and I am looking forward to the ways I am going to help you all in the coming months.

I am here to remind you that even though it still is summer, stay connected to the ways in which you deeply desire to transform your painful or somehow "damaging" life experiences. Can you see how an injury, a heartbreak, or a health crisis is not only an opportunity for learning, but also something that somehow serves your existence on this planet? Transform it!

Ask yourself everyday: How badly do I want to feel better in my body? What is it worth, and what is it COSTING me? For example, when I was very sick and in extreme pain about 5 years ago, some days I actually understood why people with chronic pain would want to die (and I am not a suicidal person). But living with that pain is like a constant noise in your ear that no once else can hear. And I still was like, "NO WAY! I am NOT giving up-- I will find a way! I don't know what that means or totally looks like, but I will find it and heal this." I would lay in bed thinking things like, "If someone told me that I had to move to Mongolia and live in a cave alone for 3 years and THAT would make this pain go away, I would do it." I would make things like that up in my head all the time, thinking that some extreme measure was what it would take. Sometimes it is extreme measures, and sometimes it's about LESS extremes and a hell of a lot more LOVE to let in. So in time, I did find a way, through many things-- life changing and ultimate investment in my wellness-- AND allowing others in to help even more. 
This summer has been full of a lot of serious growing pains for me and I know it has been for many of you, too. SO THE QUESTION IS: HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH— OR ANYTHING FOR THAT MATTER— WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU IF YOU DON'T?..... Please reach out and let me know. It's time.

AND soak up these last gems of summer....no matter what!

Summertime Fun

Hey friends!

So yes, it's summer and I'm sure you're all off frolicking through sprinklers and beach hopping. Or if you're sitting at your overly air conditioned office shivering in a sweater staring at the clock-- fret not-- you can still do this little exercise that I've decided to share with you. Most people fall somewhere on the spectrum of body shaming/self blaming/negative self talk. Geez what a waste of our energy right? But somehow it's gotten beaten down into us along the way..."my thighs are too_____" or "my hips are not enough______" or a number of any variation of self punishing messages we fill our heads with. You fill in the blank or write your own line-- or several lines. I'm sure you're sick of that voice saying those things right? Yep, you are. What would happen if instead-- every time you heard that voice pop up you said back: "Oh hey! I know you! Thanks for sharing but I'm not interested in what you have to say anymore. This is MY life and I'd like to enjoy this body I'm living in now. OR "Hey body-- I am so sorry I've been beating you up all these years, I actually love you and thank you for taking care of me all of my life-- even when things have felt broken or gone wrong you still were there for me doing your best and trying hard to care for me". OR maybe you can write your own letter. Try it. Send it to me, I'm happy to listen. I get it. What about just simply, "Dear body, I love you, thank you for being uniquely YOU and I'm going to enjoy this day no matter what". There are a thousand ways to write your body a love letter. Try it out and see what happens. Really, try it. And try it again. You might be surprised with what you discover. And guess what, life is meant to be discovered and so is your body-- discover it in whole new ways, we get to keep doing that!! Give it a try. I didn't say "easy" but maybe it's easier than you think....

Words From The Heart

Behind the scenes, creating anything out of my own comfort zone brings a lot up for me. What I mean by “comfort zone” is the part of me that wants to hide out (in a sense) and not be seen—I just want to help support people to become their best selves in whatever way that means for them. But part of that for me means stepping it up also and seeing where I need to improve, as well. I’ve been wanting to bring more groups together again. I love and appreciate the work I am doing and have been able to do one-on-one with people, and yet I also know the magic that happens within a group and the ways that we all are better having come together to uplift, support, and learn from the collective. A group is its own entity— its own living, breathing organism all to itself, and that is a unique thing! I love that.

I have to be honest with you: the creation process for me can be really challenging sometimes— so much that it often makes me want to quit like 20 times a day. But then I push forward and reach out for help and support from the people who “get me” (that is a HUGE GIFT). Because guess what people: we are all just creating our lives as we go along, and that can be a strange, confusing, and FANTASTIC thing, and we ALL need help along the way. 

I’m sure you’ve gone through this in some way or another- trying to take on things that scare you, maybe even consume you! I know what it's like. You will never feel like doing the stuff that scares you. You can't listen to those feelings. It’s more about what you want and desire badly enough. Our brains seek comfort, so they want to quit. Taking risks is not “comfortable”. So you have to go back and override those feelings. You have to do it. You have to do it for yourself. The temporary discomfort of this is what leads you to what you actually want.

And it's worth it. Today, another client of mine emailed me in response to my workshop and told me that it came at the perfect time for her. I was shocked to hear from her!! Gosh I’m glad I didn’t quit. See we just never know until we try what surprises may come from taking those steps; one step at a time DOES lead to great leaps. I know this is true for all of you, and that can show up in all sorts of ways in our lives, having nothing to do with what my version is. It’s what YOUR STORY is. 

Just remember: when things get hard, when you’re trying to face the things you’re scared of or that you want to avoid, return to the basics. Breathe, rest, listen to your body's messages, take things one bit at a time, and turn to the people you know who love and care about you. You’re never as alone as your mind may tell you….

A Little Experiment, Because You're Selfish!

Stress is an ongoing thing for people no matter what month it is, but sometimes it feels more pressing than others. Apparently, April was just “stress awareness month”. Why April? Good question. I don’t know the answer, and I actually don’t care. But what I DO care about is the impact it can have on your health and your awareness is the first step. And yes, stress is a natural part of life.

As a way to create some outreach and support, last month I led a free call on stress relief/management and its impact on our daily health in ways that relate to everything from the stress on your cells from a toxic environment or too much junk food or the stress of an overly demanding boss. This is the perfect time to revisit this topic as it relates to that term you hear, “self care”. 

What do you think of when you hear the word “selfish”? What about selfish versus self-centered or self-involved? Different things, wouldn’t you say? Here’s what I invite you to try, and it may seem silly, but try this. Read this (below) OUT LOUD (ok, I know some of you can’t do this, but at least pretend like you are saying it out loud— maybe even picture an audience if you want or wait and see if someone’s face pops up in your mind as you read it slowly). See what you feel like; see how it sits with you. It’s just an experiment. Give it a try: 

“I am the selfish one. I don’t drop everything to take care of your immediate needs which derail me and keeps me from myself. I don’t feel badly for saying NO and claiming it, because holding true to healthy boundaries means I can say YES to other vital parts of myself and what I am meant to be doing. I listen to the messages of my intuition and let those messages guide me, because approval and outside influence aren’t always the key to truth. I realize the real need and impact for radical self care for the sake of bettering myself so that I CAN be of service to others. I see how “self care” can show up in many forms, both internally and externally, for myself. As “the selfish one”, I also allow and graciously receive the help and care of others. I place high value in my evolution, which means on all levels (mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically), and support others to do the same. I see how my “selfishness” only helps make things better all around because I am also giving you space and room to grow and breathe without me imposing or overstepping. I don’t need to “fix” you or everything; it’s not my job. I also don’t need to explain myself for everything; I can just be. When I don’t “take care” (however that means to me, even in the nature of my thoughts!), I get irritated, angry, tense, worn out, and STRESSED.”

Now. Did you try it? How did it make you feel to say all of that? Was it uncomfortable or make you think of ways you neglect or avoid yourself? Maybe you need to change a few words here or there to make it more personal. Does being “selfish” evoke a negative connotation for you, or can you see how it can actually be a really caring thing especially if you spend a lot of time caring for others? I have noticed lately the ways that some of my clients refer to self care as not deserving or not wanting to be judged for being selfish. I am trying to show you how “selfish” isn’t a bad thing! Self care and being selfish happens from moment to moment. We have more opportunities than we realize to be selfish in a great way. To “take care of ourselves” even in seemingly small ways— whether it’s grabbing an apple and some nuts at the last minute and having it with us for when we know later we are going to need it OR something like saying NO to an invitation that you usually say yes to because you think you “should". These things DO connect with how we manage stress. Listen to your gut— it will guide you, too. And as they say— progress not perfection.