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Three Things I Learned in 2018

FLOW

…with the unexpected.

The year began in snowy, icy South Carolina beach town. It was the first time in over 20 years that the area experienced that much snow and they did NOT have proper ways to deal with it.

My family and I were on vacation, with our dog, so we flowed with the snow storm, so to speak! We hunkered down, played games, read books, cooked meals inside.

For someone who gets uncomfortable when feeling ‘out of control,’ this was an important lesson I have to experience in real life, as often as possible!

PATIENCE

…with the body.

The first few months of 2018 taught me to be patient with my body.

I chopped off a good chunk of the tip of a finger using the mandolin improperly (please read directions carefully!). That took a long, painful amount of time to heal.

Then I had a pinched nerve in my neck which prevented me from regular exercise, forced me to rest and made time for healing and therapy.

I was definitely cranky and impatient for several weeks!

And yet… both things healed in time.

The body DOES heal itself if you give it patience and time. It is so easy to forget to be grateful for our body’s own wisdom and ability to heal itself.

COLLABORATE AND SURROUND

…with like minded people.

2018 was a year of finding the people I want to work with, people I want to be with, people who can inspire, challenge, and help me grow (my word of 2018, by the way).

From co-founding Bexley Wellness Collective, to joining Self Coaching Scholars, to collaborating with talented healers and practitioners for workshops, to finding walking and talking buddies near and far, I am a much better person at the end of the year because of the collaborations I created, found, and made this year.

Sometimes it can feel so lonely even in this big, seemingly connected world. It feels like there should be so much connection everywhere, but I am certain that there is NO replacing that human connection we all need to thrive.

If your people don’t come to you, go to them!

Reach out, raise your hand, ask, create those connections.

They are out there waiting to find you, too.

• • • •

What did you learn this year that helped you grow? And what are you hoping to learn in 2019 that will help you thrive?

Wishing you a healthy and peaceful year to come!

Real Food Reset: Mindful Eating and more

The last 5-day Real Food Reset Challenge of the year begins tomorrow!

With each Reset, I offer tips and tools for us all to refocus on why, what and when we eat to nourish our body for optimum health.

Eating should be intuitive and simple, and yet it can be so frustrating. 

Food should be nutritious and delicious and uncomplicated, and yet so many of us have challenges around it.

My free 5-day Reset challenges attempt to help you take away the complicated, frustrating relationships with food and eating.

The answer to all of this is in Mindful Eating.

 


 

I am excited to cohost this one with the beautifully talented Kelly Schmidt.

Kelly is a Bexley resident, a mother of two, a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes. She’s a wealth of knowledge and is going to help lead us through Intermittent Fasting (IF) during this Reset.

You can choose to do the regular Reset, or give IF a try. It’s totally up to you!

It is not too late to join us!

Come see what it’s like to eat mindfully, and treat your body the way it’s meant to be treated.

If you have been curious about intermittent fasting, and want to give it a try, this is your opportunity!

Join my RESET now and you will get the guidelines, recipes, and all the information you need for Intermittent Fasting today.

 

 

6 Lessons learned in 15 years as a mother

Our kids just turned 15!

The combination of preparing for their birthday and loading the Shutterfly app onto my phone, I got lost in reflective mode and became a little sappy and sentimental.

I could feel weird, but then, it’s to be expected right?

The real question is: how can something not much bigger than two butternut squashes become amazing human beings who will most likely be driving this time next year — in just 15 years?!

The shortest, and longest 15 years!

 


For six days leading up to their birthday, I posted a different lesson I learned in 15 years as a mother on my instagram account. I thought I would combine all the lessons here, and share it all in one place.

Here are the 6 lessons I have learned in the last 15 years as a mother:

1 : ASK 

I learned even before they were born that I needed to ask for help if I wanted or needed help.

Our good friends with twins told us about this very important lesson. People, even the ones who don’t know you at all, are always ready to help. Speak up, and you shall be heard (and helped)!

Asking is a practice.

2 : PAUSE

Some days, especially when they were little,  felt like they would never end.

And yet the years seemed to speed by.

Those long days (a rare occurrence now) were meant for us to pause and take it all in. Those pauses allowed us to witness the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I think I paused, but I am learning to pause even more now.

Pausing is a practice.

3: LISTEN

My ears and my hearing got an upgrade over night, especially after they returned home from the NICU where they spent the first week or so (they were a bit early, but seriously, they were running out of room in my belly!).

We, as parents, first listened for those cries. Then we listened to their attempts at talking. Now we listen to their stories, and those gaps in between the stories.

These days, we get to hear about their hopes, dreams, their fears and sadness. Listening, for us as it is for them, is the best gift we can give.

Listening is a practice.

4: GIVE

There is no doubt that we give to our kids.

But what is also true and required is that we also need to give to ourselves.

What we give to them is what we must give to ourselves: time, patience, unconditional love. The more we give to ourselves, the more we can give to others.

Giving is a practice.

5: TRUST

In general, I might trust too easily, usually from a place of intuition. Or some may call that, gullible.

Becoming a parent, I trusted even more readily.

I first had to trust that all those doctors knew what they were doing with two babies at once (well, there were actually 8 minutes in between, thankfully).

Then I had to trust my body that it would know what to do.

I had to trust that I could step up and learn how to be a mother of twins.

Fast forward 15 years, I now trust that I have given my kids enough thus far so that they can trust themselves, their decisions, and actions.

Trusting is a practice.

6: GROW

There is no question that becoming a mother requires that we grow.

We grow into being a parent; we watch them grow; and we grow with them.

Growth is not an option, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Growing is a practice.


 

Are you a parent?

What lessons have you learned that you are still learning today?

What lessons are you still practicing, with or without children in tow?

 

 

Strength: What Does It Cost?

It is not often that I look up from the dumbbells.

It’s even less often that I spend anytime noticing other people’s workout gear.

When working out, I’m usually in a meditative zone (trying to catch my own breath), minding my own business (keeping count and not dropping heavy things on my toes!).

But today, in between sets of sumo squats, I caught a glimpse of someone’s shirt.

In big letters, it said: “Fort est gratuit.”

Thanks to my high school and college French lessons, I was translated the phrase in my head.

“Strong is free.”

As I picked up the dumbbells to complete my last set of squats, I pondered the phrase.

“Strong is free.”

We require strength to be strong.

Is strength really free? 

I asked myself.

Then I remembered what my older brother once told me: “Nothing is free in this life, sis.”


I remember not liking that wisdom from him… at all.

I wanted to not believe him.

I remember wanting to argue with him, and tell him:

“Of course there are some free things in life: Air! Water! Trees! Love! 

But are they?

They may be “free” as in, you don’t have to exchange money, silver, or gold for them.

But for us to have them, are they truly free? 


Back to the gym, and the T-shirt, and strength.

Like I said, I was pondering whether strength is free while sumo squatting.

In the last sets of squats, as my thighs were burning, I decided right then and there that to be strength is not free.

Strong is not free.

I was feeling my muscles burning – a sensation we are expected to feel if we want to build muscles, and get stronger.

It’s common knowledge that if we want more physical STRENGTH, we can’t stay comfortable.

Then I thought about emotional strength and how much thought work needs to happen to manage our mind. It hurts my head sometimes to think about thinking, and feeling. It would be easier to not think, and just ignore and avoid any unpleasant thoughts.

It is not comfortable to do emotional work. 

Emotional strength definitely does not come for free.


 

Putting down the heavy dumbbells, I looked up at the lady’s shirt again.

It matters not what language, what country, or where we are in the world and in life… I decided that I am going to disagree with “Fort est gratuit.” 

Strong is not free. 

Strong requires strength which does not come for free.

The more strength we have, the stronger we are.

Strength requires patience, perseverance, and commitment. 

Strength requires time.

Strength requires that we show up for ourselves, no matter what. 

The price tag for strength?

All the above, which can be boiled down to one word: discomfort. 

Discomfort is the currency to strength. 

We must allow ourselves to feel discomfort in order to grow… physical and emotional strength. 

Is it worth the payment?

If you want more strength in some way shape or form, for sure it is worth every ounce of discomfort.

Maybe I will design a shirt that says: “Fort est gagné.” 

Strong is earned.

If I wear it to the gym, I wonder if she would notice?

 

Following Fall: Learning to Let Go

I have been reluctant to write about fall this year.

It felt like it was not going to arrive.

The wet and warm summer days lingered into the first weeks of this new season. Even though the days were getting shorter, the trees were hanging on to those green leaves and the temperatures were some days warmer than warm.

In some ways it felt good to have summer linger.

Even if innately it felt wrong and delayed.

Maybe we were all taking our time to transition this year?

Maybe nature was trying to tell us that  it was okay to start letting go a little later?


 

I still believe that nature has a way of teaching us everything we need to know. If we pause to watch, hear, and feel, we can learn so much from the rhythm of the days.

Now that fall has truly arrived with crispy air and fall foliage, shorter days and Halloween decorations, let’s tune in and learn from nature how to let go of what we don’t need anymore. By doing so, we will be better prepared for the darker and shorter days to come.

Like the leaves that are falling from the trees, and the days that are letting go of sunlight, we must let go of some things that are no longer serving our mind and body.

Here are 4 simple ways to let go of things so that you can improve your life.

The first two have to do with your food choices to best nourish your body.

1. Let go of foods that don’t serve our body.

You know what these foods are. They are foods that make you feel bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable. They are also foods that you can’t stop eating even if it does not make you feel good (candy? alcohol? chips?).

Your body knows best and will let you know what it wants to let go of. All you have to do is listen to it, and choose to nourish the body instead of satisfying your mind.

2. Let go of eating at night

Night time eating is largely emotional eating (boredom, fatigue, anxiety) or part of a habit (eating while watching TV or browsing the computer/phone).

Our digestion needs a break to digest, heal and rebalance. The best time to do that is between your last meal (dinner) to your first meal the next day (breakfast).

So, let go of night time eating to allow your body to rest and digest. Again, choose to nourish the body instead of satisfying your mind.


The second two are mind-related. Letting go of some unproductive thoughts or words will give you so much freedom.

3. Let go of negative stories 

What negative stories do you have running in your brain? Are they true or are they projections of your mind? Are they serving you in some positive ways or are they causing more anxiety and worry?

You have the power to change these stories. Let go of them if these stories aren’t giving you positive results.

4. Let go of the shoulds

How long is your to-do list? How many of the items are considered “should dos”?

Prioritize how you spend your time, and let go of the shoulds if they are just clogging up your to-dos.

Often, the shoulds create unnecessary stress (or guilt, shame, disappointment). If you can let them go, even if for the time being, you will be giving yourself a gift of time and mental space to prioritize things that you can actually implement and accomplish.

 

 

Mid-Life Project: the coffee update

It’s been two weeks since I changed my coffee habits, as in, I gave it up cold turkey.

Granted, I still make coffee for my husband daily (he’s a lucky dude). Its aroma that fills the house each morning triggers the pleasure center in my brain. I sense that same desire for coffee immediately. The want is still there and there is a definite longing. I know this because these thoughts would twirl around in my mind:

“Should I have a small amount?”

“A little bit won’t hurt.”

“Nobody will know!”

Then I follow with these conversations with myself:

“You don’t need it right now.” answer: yup you’re right. 

“It won’t serve you today.” answer: nope, it won’t. 

“What are you capable of doing?” answer: a lot! I don’t need coffee. 

“How will you feel if you did have it?” answer: like I can’t trust myself, and I don’t want to feel that. 

 


Each day that goes by, that desire for coffee lingers a little less.

What I am finding is this: my body adjusted to no caffeine in just a few days, no problem, but my mind has not caught up yet. It still wants to create drama around this situation.

Clearly, the body requires less time to adapt to changes.

But it’s the mind that is in control.

How has giving up coffee serve me these last two weeks? I am not sure it has done too much in terms of physiological changes (I may be sleeping better). More importantly, what these two weeks have taught me is that my body is more than capable of taking care of itself when I allow it to do so. 

In addition, I am learning that when I manage my mind (like babysitting a toddler), I can pretty much withstand any emotions that appear. Those conversations are to be expected. How I respond to them will lead me to my actions which are entirely my own decisions.

I just need to remember that:

Change takes practice.

Change takes pausing.

Change takes persistence.

What about you? Do you find that your body excepts change so much more readily than your mind?

 

 

 

 

A Mid-Life Project: My Personal Journey

It’s been knocking at my door, this mid-life thing.

I turned 43 recently, and in so many ways, I am ecstatic.

  • I can properly call myself an adult, even though most of the time I am still looking for the adult in the room.
  • I am a legitimate mother of two amazing teenagers.
  • I am in a safe and loving marriage.
  • I have healthy parents and brother who are living full, exciting lives.
  • I love what I chose to and capable of doing in my profession.

I have so much gratitude at mid-life.

Seriously, I have nothing to complain about!

Except that my body is changing and showing signs of a woman experiencing mid-life. Slowly, but surely, I am being challenged by these classic symptoms (not inclusive):

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Night Sweats
  • Water retention
  • Hair loss
  • Food cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Unpredictable periods

Even though I realize that these are normal and to be expected (and tolerated), I am not ready to settle.

I am curious to see if there are things I am doing that exacerbate the process and symptoms.

 


This morning, drenched in sweat when I awoke, I stumbled downstairs to have my only cup of coffee of the day (strong, black, delicious).

I have to tell you that this might be one of my favorite parts of the day: early morning, quiet, me-time with coffee.

I love the smell, the ritual, the way it tastes and feels in my mouth.

Within minutes of drinking coffee, my head started buzzing, and I began to experience that false energy that caffeine provides.

I felt “ready” for the day.

Still nursing my coffee, I scrolled down my Instagram account quickly before getting ready for my 5am exercise class.

While doing so, I took off my rings that were tight on my puffy finger (water retention); my joints felt stiff (inflammation?). All the while, my clothes are still wet from the night sweat from my slumber.

I stopped at an instagram quote that said:

“What you resist the most, you need the most.”

Whoa!

I looked at my cup of coffee that I had been reluctant to give up despite what I know about its impact on hormones.

“What you resist the most, you need the most.” 

I have resisted giving up my cup of coffee for a long time. I have come up with many excuses of why it’s still okay for me to drink that one cup. I have felt sad ahead of time thinking about not having that coffee.

“What you resist the most, you need the most.”

And in that moment, I made the decision: No more caffeine. 

It’s just a start, I know.

There will be other resistants that I will challenge. But for now, it’s caffeine: coffee, chocolate, caffeinated teas. No sodas for me already, so that’s not hard.

 


 

Let’s see where this will take me, my mid-life body, and my resistant mind.

I am sharing this journey and this project here because I know that I do best with outer accountability. I also know that there are some of you out there who are in the same place, resisting something that might benefit you the most. 

Here’s to exploring what might be super uncomfortable!

It’s a good thing I like herbal tea. 🙂

 

 

 

Overcoming Anxiety : A Mind-Body Strategy

Anxiety is a common, albeit an unpleasant feeling.

It usually has to do with a feeling of negative anticipation about something that has not yet happened. Or it can occur when we think about unpleasant past events.

It seldom has to do with the present moment.

Anxiety can be fleeting, but when severe, it can feel out of control and unmanageable.

Most of the time, anxiety resides in our mind. It’s an uncomfortable sensation when we feel anxious, but for the most part, we are able to tolerate the feeling.

When it’s chronic, or severe, however, physical symptoms can present themselves. These symptoms can include (but not limited to) shortness of breath, palpitations, sweating, shaking, chest tightness, insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances.

In short, anxiety is a condition that manifests both in the mind and in the body.

{When anxiety is severe, please seek professional help immediately.}

When chronic and / mild, there are several ways to manage anxiety without taking medications.

It is helpful to seek out mind-body strategies, or techniques that can help calm your nervous system to shift the body’s response from the automatic fight-flight mode.

Some helpful strategies include:

  1. Exercise: movement releases natural endorphins which helps calm the mind and body.
  2. Meditation: slowing down your breathing will naturally decrease anxiety and allow you to focus on the present moment.
  3. Dietary changes: eating healthy, real foods and avoiding processed foods will reset your microbiome which is directly linked with your brain chemistry.
  4. Sleep: a restful body will function optimally. Sleeplessness can trigger fight-flight system regardless of what you are dealing with in your normal life. When you are sleep deprived, your body thinks you are under constant stress and will be on guard to protect you from the perceived danger. Anxiety ensues.
  5. Connection: talking or simply being with and around people you love and who understand you will make you feel at home and taken care of. Being connected with others help you feel physically safe, and emotionally nurtured.
  6. Coaching: working with an experienced coach can help you process your thoughts so you can overcome the same negative patterns. Coaching also creates clarity and provides accountability for you to move forward with ease.
  7. Mind-Body therapies like massage, tapping, hypnosis, acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy, or biofeedback will allow your body to heal physically and emotionally, naturally.

 

 

I am offering a Group Acupuncture & Hypnosis workshop to reduce anxiety this coming Sunday at Bexley Yoga Studio.

Acupuncture is a wonderful and safe modality that allows the body’s nervous system to relax and find balance.

Hypnosis works with the subconscious mind where feelings and emotions reside.

This simple guided meditation technique will let you shift and reframe your thoughts and beliefs. Together, acupuncture & hypnosis can help you end the vicious cycle of anxiety.

The mind is powerful. Why not use what we already have to make us feel the best we can feel!

To register for the workshop, you can to this link.

 

Self Trust: How to Overcome Self Doubt

“I can’t do it!” she yelled out loud.

That was my daughter during a recent cross country race, somewhere between mile 2 and 3.

She hadn’t done that before… the out loud yelling thing. It startled us, her parents, her biggest fans, her #1 and #2 spectators. Her coach might have been surprised as well.

The day was hot, and humid, and there were some VERY fast varsity girls running in front of her.

Not only did she yell out those words, she followed up with a grunt.

An innate, loud, frustration-announcing-grunt.

_______________

 

That kind of  “I CAN’T DO IT!” moment happens to all of us, no matter how old we are. It usually happens inside our head. And sometimes, it happens frequently especially when we are trying to do something that we find challenging.

It’s when our brain sends us a message of “you are in pain, and you should stop the pain because you might literally collapse from mental or emotional exhaustion.”

Most of the time – 99.9% of the time – this message is an error.

Because it’s not entirely true.

My daughter was in pain, no doubt, but it was not true that she COULDN’T do it.

Because she did.

Not only did she finish in the top 5 of that varsity race, she cut off her personal best time by one minute.

If you know anything about cross country running… you will know she didn’t just do it, SHE CRUSHED IT.

 

________________

 

That error message, “I CAN’T DO IT!”, is simply a way that our primitive brain is challenging our human brain.

It’s a bit of a war in our head.

It’s a challenge between the lower brain (animal) to the higher brain (human).

Can the human brain, the one that has evolved to solve challenging problems, rise to the occasion, and challenge that error message?

Can we respond to it by saying, “What if we can?”

Can we challenge it by saying, “Actually, I can!”

Can we blow its socks off by doing the opposite of what it expects?

 

________________

 

A few hours after the race, we were all home having dinner around our family table.

The tired runner, though happy with her new 5K personal record, was recounting her experience.

“Tell us how you did it despite what you were feeling,” inquired my husband.

“I don’t know… it was so hard. It was so hot. They were so fast. I didn’t know if I could finish,” she replied with that familiar teenager-tone in her voice.

“But you did so well. How did you do it?” I followed up.

Her reply was pretty magical. She said:

“I guess I stopped thinking about it, and just let my body do it.”

 

___________________

 

She stopped trying, and started doing.

She stopped listening to her primitive brain that was hoping to protect her, and allowed her body to do what it was capable of. 

Like a famous character once said : “There is no try. There is only DO.”

And that is how we rise above our self doubt, and discomfort. We allow our ability to DO and in doing so, we cultivate self trust in the most profound way.

 

 

Acupuncture for Better Sleep

At the very foundation of a healthy life, we need good food, clean water, and quality sleep.

You may hear about the recommended (mandatory?) 8-hour sleep we should get — which is not false — but are you getting quality sleep for those 8 hours?

The question is: do you feel rested upon waking up?

Are you alert and productive during the day?

Quality sleep, even if it is less than 8 hours (because every body is unique and will require different amounts), will give you the rest that your body needs to function at its optimum.

Most people in the US are walking around without adequate sleep, either because they did not get the proper amount, or the proper quality. Over time, this state of sleep deprivation can effect your immune system which may lead to undesirable long term or serious health problems.

There are so many reasons why you may be not getting the sleep your body needs. An over-scheduled life, excessive stress, imbalanced hormones, poor diet, poor sleeping habits are just some of the common causes of insomnia.

So, how can you get proper quality sleep that you need?

The body needs deep rest when the nervous system can go into repair mode while we are sleeping. All day long, when we are awake and alert, we overload the nervous system with stimuli required for the fight-flight (survival) mechanism. When healthy and in balance, the well rested nervous system works in harmony and our mind and body function well. We are energized, alert and productive. We are able to enjoy and create the life we want.

If the body does not get the rest it requires, however, we are in constant survival mode that does not turn off for that needed rest and repair mode.  The parasympathetic nervous system – our rest and digest system – can’t function at its optimum. We only get by with what is crucial for survival and end up with a tired body, a fatigued mind, and a relatively negative experience in daily life.

Recent research has implicated that impaired parasympathetic nervous function is responsible for a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

How can we foster our parasympathetic nervous system while we sleep?

There are lots of ways, most of them require that we decrease stress stimuli during our daily lives.

How are YOU decreasing stress in your life?

Are you prioritizing your health by allowing your body and mind to rest?

Are you taking a break from electronics, choosing healthy foods, exercising our body?

Are you pausing during the day to allow space and peace in your day?

Are you getting the support you need in your life?

Are you implementing tools that can help you further decrease stress?

 


 

Where does acupuncture come in?

Acupuncture, like other forms of natural medicine, works to help the body find its natural balance.

Research has proved that acupuncture helps reduce stress by stimulating the release of oxytocin, a hormone and signaling substance that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. It is a safe and effective tool that helps our body find its own equilibrium for that quality sleep we all need and deserve.

Because the body knows how to heal itself, a natural form of therapy like acupuncture can put your body back into balance. When rest and relaxation can be restored, better sleep quality can be achieved.

 

Want to give acupuncture a try?

 

Come to our Group Acupuncture Workshop on August 26 @ Bexley Yoga Studio. Registration is open, and space is limited. Sign up soon, right here.