Maybe, just maybe, today we are enough

So often we decide that our life would be so much better if we could just get that new house, that new job, a new car with that new car smell, or lose 10 or 20 pounds. Then we would be happy. One of my favorite sayings is in a Dave Matthews song, "The future is no place to place your better days."

We can become so obsessed or focused on these things that we forget to notice the good in our lives. For example, maybe you've decided to lose 20 pounds. So you start eating differently and you start walking every evening. But you remain fixated on the scale. You might not notice that you start to feel a little more relaxed during the evening, maybe you're sleeping more soundly, maybe you're saving some money from not buying your morning mocha and vanilla scone and now can afford a monthly pedicure. Maybe you are learning about different foods and discovering new ways to cook. Maybe you feel better about yourself and the positive changes you are sharing with your family. But you don't see these wonderful things, or appreciate them, because all you are noticing is that you've hit a plateau or have only lost x number of pounds when you thought you should have lost xx number by now.

The benefits and rewards that we experience on a daily basis can become overshadowed and often times overlooked when we are focusing on the finish line. Change doesn't happen overnight ~ but changes happen every day, and one sure way to a happier life is to pay attention and appreciate every single one.

Pillow Fight

The term pillow fight takes on a whole new meaning when you get a bit older and your pillow can become a huge source of strife. Your pillow is one of your most valuable possessions, if, you have the right one. It's been years since I've had a pillow that I'm happy with, and believe me, my linen closet is starting to look like the back room at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Piles of rejected pillows.

Like most of you I'm sure, I toss around a good part of the night. On one side, onto my back, next side, and all the while turning the pillow, punching the pillow, squishing the pillow as I go.

I've tried the down pillows (too soft and flat for me), the memory foam (feels too constrictive), and even toyed with the synthetics, the cheapest of the bunch, which are usually okay only for a night or two. Pillows in their new packages indicate, side-sleeper or back-sleeper, or a certain position. Does anyone have just one position? I'm not sure what kind of sleeper I am. Oh great, another one of those soul searching questions.

Anyway, the pillow is of utmost importance when it comes to a good night's sleep, and we all know how important sleep is to our good health. It takes a lot of work and experimentation to find the right one. I'm still searching. But here is a guide that at least helps break down the difference of all those pillow types out there. If you've found the perfect pillow, I'd love to hear about it!


Getting off the Hamster Wheel

Have you been trying to implement positive changes in your life for about as long as you can remember? Swear that you will start a new diet and exercise routine on Monday, give up coffee on Tuesday, start writing your book on Wednesday, make more time for friends on Thursday, and then on Friday kick yourself once again for not keeping your word and promise yourself you'll start again next week, or after the holidays or after you return from your summer vacation?

Life is kind of like that. Rinse and repeat. Coming from one of the guiltiest of the bunch, my intentions are so much more ambitious than my actions.

I’m the type who never liked group activities. I was even kicked out of my Bluebird troop  at a young age for not being “a team player.” I never liked joining clubs of any kind. It’s not that I don’t like people; I just never liked rules, or having to abide by them.

But now at 58, I’d have to say that one of the most valuable lessons I have learned so far, much to my chagrin, is that it really does take a village. That support, friendship, encouragement and group hugs are extremely important. We can go it alone, but in all honesty, why would we want to? It can make the trip so much more uncomfortable ~ kind of like being in coach when you could’ve flown first class.

If you’ve been trying over and over again to reach the same goals, to feel a certain way, to live a life that you are passionate about, but it just seems that you’ve gotten nowhere, embrace the help of a coach, or a friend, or an accountability partner. Someone. Someone that can motivate you, inspire you, cheer you on, and keep you on track. Because in reality, how much fun will it be when you do finally win the race and no one is there to cheer you across the finish line?

A little yin with my yang

I didn’t have the best week last week. Things were going extremely well, when all of a sudden the week took a nasty turn. On came a head cold, that after a few days decided to migrate to my chest; then while making myself a cup of peppermint tea, I broke one of my favorite coffee cups; and the worst thing that happened was that I missed the bottom stair on our evil spiral staircase one night as I was coming down and did a pretty good body slam on our concrete floor. I spent the rest of the week babying my bruised thigh, hip, icing my twisted ankle and rubbing my sore wrists (guess I used both of them to break my fall.)

I had hesitated moving into this urban style loft because of the spiral staircase. Being a Feng Shui practitioner, I know that spiral staircases are considered to be like a corkscrew, drilling into your home, causing holes and pressure. This is extremely concerning when the staircase is in certain areas of the house, like health, relationships, or money. But because the loft had so many other desirable features, I figured I could live with the staircase and just apply Feng Shui cures where needed. Hmmm, not sure now if  I need more cures, better lighting, or a one-level house.

Why am I telling you this? Because this is what life looks like. The good and the bad. The yin and the yang. They go together and we will always have our share of both. Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets to bypass the eventual slip and falls that life will throw at you.

Now if you haven't heard of or read, The Big Leap by Dr. Gay Hendricks, he has a very interesting take on the human tendency to unconsciously sabotage ourselves when things get going a little too good. He says that humans can only take so much good in one part of their life before they create problems in another area. We hit what he calls, our "upper limit." Whether or not this was the case for me getting sick and taking my first attempt at skydiving, I can't be sure, because I've always believed that in life there are both cherries and pits.  I never expected to have only the perfect cherry pie. But it is an interesting concept and seems to be a recurring theme in most people's lives.  The-Big-Leap-Conquer-Hidden-ebook

But luckily, when I reflect on the happenings of the past week, even the “bad” things that happened really weren’t that bad. My cold didn’t turn into pneumonia. I didn’t cut myself on the broken coffee cup. I didn’t hit my head, break a bone, or knock out a tooth when I played stunt woman for the night. All in all, these things were pretty benign.

When these types of things happen it's easy to put all of our focus on them. The whole world seems to be conspiring against us, determined to trip us up. But if I allow myself to look past these few mishaps and inconveniences, I will also be able to see some of the good things that happened during that time period as well. I made great progress on my writing. I’ve had a great response to my first workshop. Michael made me two incredible home cooked dinners while I was sick. The sunsets have been literally out of this world. I’m having a great time making wedding plans with my daughter. I attended a movie premier on the Midway Aircraft Carrier in San Diego and got to spend the night at a bayside hotel with a gorgeous view and one of the best mattresses I’ve ever slept on. And to top it off, my wonderful neighbor brought over a one lb. bag of a deliciously dark roast coffee from Jackson Hole. Yes, it seems there are always blessings to count. Now how sweet is that?

"You put your pills in here?"

So this might not be news to anyone out there, certainly not any major network breaking news, but I think I have figured out one of the main problems when trying to build and maintain relationships.

It hit me like a lead balloon recently while I was sitting at my gate in the Portland airport waiting to board a plane. An older couple was seated across from me and as the woman was rummaging through her carry on I heard her sharply ask her partner "You put your pills in here?" It was more of an accusation than a true question. His response to her was a grouchy "Well where was I suppose to put them?" Obviously annoyed, there was some huffing and puffing, a bit more muffled bickering back and forth, as each was determined to get their point across.

I started thinking about how easy life is when you spend it with your best friend. No bickering, lots of laughing, some sarcasm but more just good wit, tolerance, understanding and never ending support.  We make allowances for our best friends shortcomings and would gladly put their pills in our purse, or whatever else they might need us to carry for that matter. We give and take. True best friends don't keep score. The key to having a best friend is that we remain two very separate individuals, we are not trying to meld into one. There is no ownership involved. No "ball and chain." 

Two become one. How horrible really. Somewhat of a disappearing act. Why can't we be in a relationship, but still be two? We can take care of ourselves as far as packing our own suitcase, gassing up our own car, buying our own toiletries, can't we? We don't have to take care of each other's every need. It is impossible really. The idea of marriage is that we are expected to meld, or rather melt into the same pot. To blend perfectly, no curdling, no separating, hard to tell where one spice begins and the other ends. And while this might work in the culinary world, it does not translate as well when it involves two individuals. 

Observing many long-term couples, I see the bickering, the intolerance, the fade, the let-down of the happily ever after.  It has now become more of a working relationship, one which runs on autopilot. We become such a reflection of one another, our actions become their actions.  So we are always on top of things, making sure the other doesn't mess up, because it makes us look bad. There is no line in the sand anymore, no distinction between the two.

I guess it wasn't me who figured out one of the main problems with relationships ~ it seems other's figured it out long before I had my epiphany. From Khalil Gibran ~ exquisite and perfect ~

The Prophet on Marriage
by Khalil Gibran

The Need to Please

When I was a teenager in the early 70’s, it was a time wedged between two schools of thought. The newer “women’s liberation” movement and the views of the women who came before me, generations of women who accepted their lot in life and fulfilled their womanly and motherly requirements without question.

It was a time when opportunities were opening up, but a lot of us weren’t sure if we wanted to take them. Babies and husbands, little clean houses with well manicured yards, that should be enough, right?  For many women it was, and then again, for many women, it wasn’t.  But true liberation comes when you can make this choice, or any choice for that matter, for yourself, and not feel pressured into choosing one over the other. No one should make you feel guilty for whichever path you take, and in this case, especially other women.  Either choice is a good one, and the right one, as long as it is your choice.

But I was thinking more about how women (I’m talking about myself here, and many women of my generation) as liberated as we’ve become, still have the need to be the “yes” girl. No rocking the boat, wanting to be liked, never asking for the raise they so deserve or even thinking to negotiate. Women who feel it is their role to please, that it is their duty to make everyone else’s life around them better, more comfortable, even if it comes at the expense of their own health and happiness. 

As important to our health as any food we eat, is the reduction of stress in our lives. Too many women are trying to do too many things.  Working outside the home long hours and still coming home to the same role of caretaker, endless household chores, good mother, the good wife or partner, and it has taken a toll.  Women are exhausted.  Enter IBS, digestive issues, depression, headaches and numerous other stress related physical ailments.

We are pleasers by nature. We bend over backwards to fill everyone’s needs, whether it be our children, spouse, friends, family, boss, or co-workers.  Now, when women are asked to do something and they don’t want to do it, they usually end up doing it anyway or they feel they have to make up a thousand excuses (some are downright lies) to get out of it.

For example, it could be something as simple as a friend calls and asks you to go to dinner with her on Thursday night.  You really don’t want to. You’ve had a busy week and all you want to do is go home after work, get in you pj’s and watch a movie.  But instead of telling your friend that, out of fear of hurting her feelings, you will concoct some sort of story, make up something that indicates you are already committed.  

One of the many spiritual teachers I was lucky enough to have known, was a woman named Shirley, who lived in Sonoma. She gave me one of the most important pieces of advice that I ever received in my life.  She advised me, that on those occasions, all we have to say is “No”.  Politely, of course.  We just have to say “Thanks for the invite, but I already have plans on Thursday.” And you do.  It is not a lie.  Your plans are to be with yourself.  Watching a movie, taking a bath, cutting your toenails.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It is time you are spending with you.  And we all need that desperately in our lives. Now if our friend/business associate or whoever has any manners, he/she will not question you about your plans.  And if they do, and they give you a hard time about it, you might want to consider what kind of friend this is.  

There is nothing wrong with giving, in fact, it is one of our most wonderful attributes. But in order to give we must keep ourselves full, and we can't do that if we never get time to replenish our supply.

So if you find it difficult to say no, practice that line and be ready to use it next time you want some down time.  “Thank you, but no. I already have plans that day/night/time”. Practice saying “no” ~ and saying “yes” to time spent with yourself, to rejuvenate, to breathe, to give you the energy to keep on giving.

For more information about health coaching, click here to visit my website ~

For the sake of argument

You want to be right, or you want to be happy?

I know many have said this, including Wayne Dyer, but I think the first time I heard it was years ago on Dr. Phil. There is plenty of his wise advice that I agree with, such as, if you didn’t get the love or support you needed as a child, give it to yourself now.  Or, being from a broken home is better than living in one.

But the advice, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” needs to have the line drawn somewhere. By asking this question, it is also asking us to possibly give up our strong beliefs, our value systems and our true essence.

I get that a lot of times ego gets in the way. That we think our own point of view is so important and superior that we must express it, and we fight for the listener to understand it.

Now, if this saying applies to simple things in life, like, in a simple conversation, I thought they used egg noodles in Chow Mein, and your partner is arguing that they use rice noodles, well, you just might want to surrender and let it go. It really is not that important.  Sometimes it seems we argue just for the sake of arguing. And there are many of these things that can come up on a daily basis, and it’s best to, as they say on the east coast, "fuhgeddaboudit."

But, on the other hand, if it is something that really matters to you, something that you need to express, that is a part of your belief system, a part of who you are, and you give in, in order to keep the peace, then you are being dishonest with yourself. And you will find that the more you do this, the more it will begin to eat away at you. The trick is discovering what to keep and what to let go. And, that's not always easy.

So, do you want to be someone other than who you really are? That is the question that you need to weigh carefully. True health can’t be ours if we are living a lie, if we are not speaking our truth so as not to rock the boat. Because once we start giving in, little by little, letting go for the sake of argument, letting go so that someone else can be right, eventually we will no longer be right or happy.

What are your thoughts on this?

All the Little Big Things

There’s a well known quote that I’m sure you’ve all heard, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things.”

Every time that quote crosses my mind it reminds me of how fortunate I am, in so many areas of my life. This morning as I turned on the running water to brush my teeth, it hit me how unbelievably blessed I am (we are) to have water at our immediate disposal. Whenever we want it. These things that we take for granted are things that are truly miraculous on some level. Most of us don’t give a second thought to having access to water, both hot and cold, to shower in, bathe in, to wash our clothes and dishes in, to cook with and to drink. But these “little things,” these little conveniences, really aren't that little. They are actually huge things.

How lucky are we?
We forget that things like running water are luxuries that many people and countries don’t have. There are nearly a billion people around the world that do not have access to clean water. And to get it, women in these countries will walk over 3 miles a day to fill up their jugs, come home, only to make the same trek the next day! This chore that is usually designated to the females, has kept the women from working, kept the girls from being able to attend school, and as I'm sure you can imagine, the heavy loads that they carry on their heads, end up causing them severe neck and spine damage over time. All of this for water. Water, that we can have at any time, just by turning on the tap.

The long trek for water 
When every thing we do requires water, from bathing to our actual survival, every single drop is precious. So, in honor of these women, of these people, the next time you turn on the faucet, think twice about letting it run. Think twice about how much we use and how we might want to try a little harder to conserve. 

This is just one of those “little” big things. Little things are everywhere, they are all around us, we just need to pay closer attention, be grateful and give them the big recognition that they deserve.

P.S. ~ Thank you, Anabella Funk, for sharing your story with us, for all of your hard work and dedication to this cause. You are amazing <3

Leave your guilt at the door ~

Tis the season. Full of thanks and Ho Ho Ho’s. We’ve survived another candy coated Halloween and are now sitting down to the Thanksgiving meal which encompasses an entire day of non-stop eating and a day or two of filling up on leftovers. Then, we are off running to the month of holiday parties, get-togethers, school and work functions and various other food filled festivities. 

I just want to remind everyone, that if we focus on all of the sugar (and as many of you know, I’m pretty serious about getting sugar out of my diet), and all of the carbs and calories that we will be consuming, we will spend the season singing the blues instead of Joy to the World. And this, my friends, is not healthy.
November and December, for most, are filled with tradition. Traditions are good, and lets face it, food is usually the center of family traditions. Having fun in your life, feeling joyful, laughing and spending time with loved ones is just as important (or more so) than the food we consume. I don't want to downplay the importance of eating a good diet and taking care of yourself on a regular basis, but feeding our soul is what gives us the fuel to love and live a life of passion. 

So, during these types of events, relax, let it go. The stress and worry about what and what not to eat can be more harmful to your health than that slice of pumpkin pie or serving of stuffing with a little extra gravy. That said, if you find yourself slumping down in the front seat of your car, eating a pumpkin pie straight from the box that you just bought at the grocery store, you might have something to worry about.  But otherwise, you don't need to deprive yourself and you don't need to be a glutton, either.  Practice moderation and enjoy.  This is life ~ it is short, and every moment should be savored.

For more information about health coaching, click here to visit my website ~

Batch and Freeze (aka leftovers)

One of the obstacles to healthy eating is not planning ahead, not having the right foods on hands and enough "ready to eat" items nearby. It's so easy to set good intentions. I know I do. I plan on packing a lunch or some healthy snacks to take with me as I head out the door, but somedays I find I'm rushed and don't take the time or  I don't have the necessary food in the house.

So, instead, I end up stopping at the nearby market, grabbing a coconut water, some "healthy" energy bar (okay, not really healthy, but I at least pick the one with the least sugar) and maybe an already prepared fruit salad or watermelon, if it's in season.  Not a balanced lunch at all.

So like the good ole' Boy Scouts, that "Be Prepared" motto of theirs is really good advice. There are many things that can help with this, like meal planning, for instance.  But sometimes it's not always practical or we might not want to figure out what were going to eat for the next week.

I have found one easy solution for this problem is to do what some people refer to as "batching" or as it was probably referred to in the "old days," making enough to have leftovers. Cooking once and eating twice (or many times). It takes approximately the same amount of time to bake one potato as it does to bake six, right? And now, with the fall and winter season upon us, we tend to spend more time in the kitchen anyway.

So many things lend themselves to "batch" cooking. All forms of potatoes, soups, stews, breakfast bars, oatmeal, roasted vegetables, rice, to name a few. Next time you steam some broccoli, cook a chicken breast and make some rice, double that recipe or plan on making enough for leftovers. Or find some batch and freeze friendly recipes here. Having all of these cooked and ready to eat items in the refrigerator makes it much easier to put something together for the next days lunch or tomorrow nights dinner.

And if you're like a lot of people that get bored eating the same thing day after day, go ahead and cook like you're cooking for a small army and then freeze it. There are so many different kinds of food that do well frozen, any kind of batter, mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower (one of my favorites) soups, stews and cooked vegetables  (if you're not sure a food item will freeze well, just Google it and you'll find the answer.)  Such a great time saver, great for your wallet and let's not forget, a real plus for your good health.

For more information about health coaching, click here to visit my website ~

Cut yourself some slack (and a small piece of pie)

While it is admirable to commit to a healthy diet and live a life of clean eating, it can also become an obsession with some. And obsessions of any kind can actually be unhealthy.

We've all heard of anorexia, but there is also an eating disorder called, "orthorexia" ~ this is an obsession with eating "pure." It actually starts out with the good intention of wanting to be healthier, but gets taken to an extreme.

When we have such strict rules and standards set for ourselves, we can become guilt-ridden if we get off track, we beat ourselves up, and consider ourselves failures. We basically become unbearable, and frankly, a bore to be around!  Our righteous obsession with eating "whole" can sometimes turn us into believing that we are "holier" than others around us, the ones who haven't quite joined the "only whole, unprocessed, real foods bandwagon."

Depriving yourself of all treats, sweets and foods that aren't necessarily the best for you, simply isn't sustainable. And the holiday season makes sticking to this way of eating even more challenging. If we can give ourselves some slack, and instead eat by the 80/20 rule, it is a much healthier, and sustainable approach to healthy eating and living, in general. The rule goes that you choose to eat healthy foods 80% of the time, leaving you 20% of the time to eat your favorite foods, family favorites or treats. This is especially important when holidays or special events are upon us, and we all know what a big part food plays in these festivities. You can then partake without feeling that you need to go to confession afterwards or spend the next few days on a water fast. (You don't have to overindulge, but it sure won't hurt to have a small piece of pumpkin pie.)

While it is good to have discipline and be able to stick to your guns, with fewer restrictions, it is much easier to implement long-term healthy changes and life can be just a little sweeter.

For more information about health coaching, click here to visit my website ~

Dear Sir, I write to you today concerning a large sum of money

Stress is one of the biggest factors when it comes to the state of our health. As I've said before, you can eat the healthiest diet, exercise regularly, but if your mind and body are being assaulted by stress, it is pretty much a guarantee that your health will be compromised.

In today's world with all of the gadgets, inventions and technology that we have, designed to make our lives easier, it sure can cause us to "lose it" when it isn't working properly. Like, for example, when your wifi goes down and you can't get online, or the garbage disposal backs up on Thanksgiving after the big meal, or heaven forbid, the cable TV goes down and the latest episode of House of Cards is about to start, and instead you spend hours on the phone with some customer service rep in another country.

But one of the things that can wreak havoc on our lives, and can be more than just a mere nuisance, is Spam. It can turn your life upside down.  And while it seems many of us are getting rather Spam savvy, a lot of us are still confused and scared by what shows up in our inbox. 

Spam is coming at us from all directions, our emails, on Craigslist, on home rental sites, just about everywhere. It seems that the Spammers can't really be monitored so the only solution I see is to educate ourselves. 

So, first and foremost, when you get ANYTHING from institutions like your bank, the IRS, credit card company, or PayPal via email stating that they need account info from you, or any other Urgent message, disregard it. If you look closely at any of these emails, something will be off.  Like their spelling. Or punctuation. If there is truly an account problem you will receive a phone call. And, if you think that possibly the email is valid, do not respond, but instead you should call whatever company is emailing you directly. And not to the number on the email, if there is one, but to the correct number that you have in your records or that you can locate legitimately. 

I mean seriously, are you kidding me? I keep getting this email from, what they would like me to believe, is PayPal. I love the use of the word "here" in the body of this email. But many people won't even see that ~ and they will panic and respond immediately to the Update Your Info button.

Your Account Will Be Limited.
Dear customer,
Your Account Will Be Limited , Until We Here From You . To Update Your Info . Simply click on the web address below (or copy and paste the link into your browser):
Update Your Info

So what I am asking all of you, is to look closely when you receive these types of things and share this information with others you know, especially older people who aren't quite as tech savvy and have a strong sense of "doing the right thing" ~ they are extremely vulnerable and the Spammers know it. Heaven knows, we don't need this kind of bulls*#t causing us any more stress in an already stressful world.

I'm not goin' all chia seed porridge on you ~

I’ve always admired athletic people. The ones that I see riding their bikes up the steep mountain grade or the loyal followers of yoga, with mats rolled up under their arms, entering the studio for their 6:00 am class. Not being able to make simple commitments has always been one of my biggest challenges. I don’t know exactly why, but I’m working on finding out. It just seems that the minute I make one, I feel like my freedom has been snatched away and now there is one more rule to follow. And this is even when the commitments are good for me.

The funny thing is that I am finding that most of the people I am health coaching are the same way. Maybe for different reasons, but many of us seem to have an aversion to too much regulation, too many “musts” ~ even the good stuff.

So instead of asking or telling you that you need to get up and get in a 30 minute workout, give up your coffee, and eat chia seed porridge (which by the way, I actually love) I’m going to give you something much simpler to start out your day. And yes, it is a bit of a commitment, but one so simple that you just might find yourself wanting to do it on a regular basis!

Begin with a good stretch
 ~ take a cue from your cat or dog.  Notice how they wake up. With a stretch ~ and it feels so good. Spend a couple of minutes stretching. This, you can even do while still in bed.
Now, get up. Follow this with a few “holding up the sky” stretches. Reach as high as you can with both arms, keeping your hands flat as though you are holding up a tray. Hold the stretch for a count of 10, then let your arms and head hang down toward the floor.  Repeat this a few times. And now, maybe a few, "touching the earth" ~ gently bend forward reaching for your toes (or maybe your knees). Do those a few times and then finish up with some waist twists, letting your arms swing.
If you’re anything like me, you are anxiously heading to the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot about now.  So, while you’re waiting for the annoying buzzer to let you know that the coffee is done, you can take a seat and sit with your eyes slightly open (which shouldn’t be hard, since you just woke up!) Sit on the chair with your back straight, feet flat on the ground, and hands in your lap. Take a few deep breaths and wish the world well—whomever and whatever enters your mind at this time, simply think, I wish you well.

Continue to breathe quietly and deeply, paying attention to your breath. If you find yourself worrying or grouchy about something just tell yourself, It’s OK and go back to breathing.  A great morning mantra is “My life is amazing. Thank you, *God.” (*universe, world, whatever works for you.) I say this several times a day, and especially when I'm feeling the opposite! It kind of brings me back into a more grateful state. 
Giving thanks helps set the tone for the rest of the day. You can always find something to be thankful for upon waking. This should be fairly easy. There are a few obvious choices here: you woke up, you have a chair to sit in, and maybe even a delicious cup of coffee/tea/lemon water. Finish this morning practice off with another few deep cleansing breaths.

This way of starting each day can loosen up the knots in both our physical and mental bodies. These simple, feel good baby steps can often turn into big leaps, and who knows, you might just find yourself enrolling in a yoga class soon or joining a bike team, or hey, maybe even able to touch your toes. Sounds crazy, but one never knows. 

Holiday in May?

We all get hung-up on the rules occassionaly. And while many of them are worth following, it can be good, and also necessary, to break away from the pack sometimes. That lone drummer is at times worth following.

In today's world, with families being of a different configuration from families in years gone by, it can be difficult to navigate the holiday "come visit me"  plan ~ now people have Mom to visit, Dad to visit, their partner's mom and her new boyfriend, dad and his new wife, kids that are spread all across the country. For many, it's not the cozy  "let's all go to Grandma's house" and be one big happy family event anymore. There are lots of logistics, who went where last year, we want to stay home this year, and my oh my, we end up getting all stressed out about the whole thing. There is pressure involved, guilt, and things become more of an obligation than a celebration.

I had lunch with my good friend, Connie, the other day and I brought this up to her. Her suggestion was simple, yet for me, one I had never really entertained. She said to pick a different day to celebrate. Instead of doing without seeing our kids, or our parents, because the holiday falls on an inconvenient day (whether for work, other visitations or obligations), just pick a different day. She is from Holland and told me that there they have a tradition that you must throw yourself a 21st birthday party. And as long as you do it before you're 30, it's all good!  Her 24 year old son is just celebrating his 21st this year. I think that's brilliant!

Point is, you don't always have to follow the rules. If you can't be there on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day with your family, maybe you can on the 15th, the 28th, late May or whatever works. What we are really celebrating is connection, family, friends, whenever it can be arranged, and who can put a "must use by" date on that?

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Your Next Chapter

  I hate where I live. I don't deserve to be loved. My life is boring. I can't lose weight. I’ll never get a decent job. I'm not good enough.

Certain things we say to ourselves and accept as the absolute truth. We carry these beliefs or attitudes with us into each new day and they become a part of our make-up.

We have heard these things enough (whether we've said them to ourselves or they’ve been said to us by others) to not question them anymore. But we should question them. We should question everything. This is our life, our very own, and it is our choice how we want to live it and who we want to be.  
Have you ever wanted to write a book? Well, you already are. You are the author of your life. Like a book, where some chapters are extraordinary and others leave something to be desired, if you don’t like how your story is unfolding, you have the power to change  and write a remarkable next chapter. What parts of your life would you like to change? What things do you want to do? What really matters to you?
Many of us spend much of our time dwelling on the past, what we did wrong or how we were wronged. Instead of looking at our past with kindness, knowing that every day is a learning experience, we beat ourselves up for bad choices we’ve made and certain actions that we’ve taken, always entertaining the “why’s and what if’s.” Our power comes with the control we have over today.

Look at your life up to this point. Who are you as a person? What do you value? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? When someone tells your story, how would you like it to read? Now is the time to do some more character development and start a new chapter.

But how? If you find yourself using your past as an excuse for why you can’t get ahead in life, you need to make peace with it. Love that person (you) and all he/she has been through. Be gentle, be a best friend. Give him/her a little motherly bird push. Forgive. Now move on. (Yes, I know I’ve simplified this, but you can actually go back and rewrite your past. If you're interested and not sure how to start, contact me for information.)

Give yourself a powerful voice. Don’t be afraid to be heard. If you don’t speak your truth you won’t be able to communicate the essence of your soul, which is who you really are. And if you are speaking with a voice that isn’t your own, you will always feel less than, unauthentic and have a disconnect with your own self. Your voice is your power and knowing your own voice gives you strength of character.

In your story, surround yourself with notable characters. Just like in a great novel, fill your pages with people who make you feel more alive. People who help you grow, inspire, motivate and cause you to think and look at things in new ways. Look at the people you now surround yourself with. Are they happy, optimistic, enthusiastic, adventurous, supportive, fun? Make sure the people in your life are the types of characters that you want in your story.

There are lots of ways to take control and live the life that you truly want to live. In my practice as a Wellness Coach and Feng Shui Practitioner, I help my clients reach their full potential by examining all the different life areas, setting goals and designing a personalized roadmap for them to get there. The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of life you want to live.

So, don’t forget ~ you are the author and main character of this book ~ make it a best seller.

Sometimes it's okay to be a control freak ~

Recently I posted about dangerous toxins and how they have invaded every part of our lives. Whether it is the toxins in food, household items, self-care products or even toxic people (we call them energy vampires, I believe) we need to find a way to rid ourselves of them.
Did you know there are thousands of ingredients that the FDA has approved for use, but no one has studied in over 3 decades, or for that matter, some not at all? And little to no studies have been done on the cumulative effect of all these industrial food-scientist-created ingredients in our food system. 

Many of these ingredients are created by substances contaminated with carcinogens, some make us addicted to non-food substances that are cheaper to produce than real food, and some are downright dangerous.
If you feel overwhelmed and are tired of all the conflicting reports and information out there, making you want to throw your hands up in the air, I have one suggestion. And it's simple. It will reduce your exposure to these toxic substances, at least in your food, and it's called, cook at home. 

“The most important thing you can do with your health is cook. Cooking is more powerful than any medication.” ~ Michael Pollan
But the key here is that you cook using whole foods, meaning food that is not processed, not from a box, and with ingredients you can pronounce and know what they are. Eat at least 15 meals a week at home using ingredients you buy (so you are in control of what you are consuming) and cook yourself.  Make it fun and  involve other family members. It is a great gift to teach your children to cook. 

That's 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners. And these can be simple meals, you don't have to get all fancy with it. That leaves you 6 meals a week where you can be flexible to eat wherever you choose, dinner at a friends,  have a night of take-out, or at a restaurant.

Cooking at home is beneficial in so many ways; you save money, more time with family, you can flex your creativity, and of course, you know exactly what is being consumed by your body. You control the amount of salt, sugar, and fat you use, as well as being in charge of portion control. Another extremely important benefit that you will get from cooking at home is that you will nourish and ground your relationships, creating a loving and healthy environment for those around you. 

Do you take sugar in your coffee? 1 teaspoon or 2?

I remember when I moved up to Olympia, Washington in 1987. There was this incredible and edgy new Coffee Roaster in town, Batdorf and Bronson. This was well before Starbucks became the rage and was situated on every street corner in America.

On my first visit I sat down at the counter and ordered some crazy (at the time) concoction. I think they called it an iced cappuccino, but really, it was anything but that. It came in a large glass, poured so that the espresso and 1/2 and 1/2 separated, creating these wonderful layers, almost too pretty to stir. It was one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted. It was like drinking an adult milkshake, without the guilt. I mean, come on, it was coffee.

Now, loving coffee like I do, I really appreciate the idea behind the coffee house. The gathering place where friends meet and conversation is cultivated. And for many years, it felt that way to me. It was a place geared towards adult and the adult beverage. But slowly it changed. Everything about it changed.

Starbucks and the other large chains became the place to bring your kids. It became the Ronald McDonald playland for the hip young moms and the grandmother's with their little grandchildren in tow. A place where they could get their "coffee" and buy the kids a little something as well. What's the problem with that, you might ask? Well, for starters, what we are now calling "coffee" is really just a major sugar high in disguise. Actually, it's not even in disguise, and it's not coffee. It's in a cup called a "Grande"~ it is filled with caramel, vanilla or chocolate syrups and topped with whipped cream and another helping of caramel, or . . . yes, yes, I know, everyone loves them.  And what's wrong with giving our kids a little treat?

Only about 15 tsps of sugar!
But they are not a special treat anymore, not a once in awhile delight.  They have become a part of our daily lives.  They say most people now average spending $90 a month on "coffee" ~ the drinks we buy outside the home. And the cost is much larger than the dollar amount we are spending.

Now I must admit, years ago, during the winter, I got into the habit of getting a Starbucks "tall, non-fat, 2-pump mocha" on my way to work, at least 4 times a week. Later in the summer, I would treat myself to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Vanilla Blended. A small one. Oh, how much I loved them! I haven't had one in a long time and the other day I felt I wanted to treat myself. It was the first time I ever asked the barista how much sugar the small Vanilla Blended contained. He didn't know, so he went to look it up. He came back over and said "not too bad, it has about 44 grams of sugar." 44 grams! That comes out to about 10 teaspoons of sugar in that one small drink!  I ordered an iced coffee instead.

What we have started here is an awful habit and for some, addiction, in our young people. I see teens with these monstrous sugary "coffee" drinks and I can now see that it's no wonder we have such an obesity and early childhood diabetes problem in this country, and spreading quickly to many more I might add. We have got to get our sugar addiction under control, as consuming sugar only leads us to craving it more and more. (And just an FYI ~ Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappaccino comes in at a whopping 59 grams of sugar.)

I was really sad to learn about the sugar content in my favorite Iced Vanilla Blended. One more item on my "never to do" list. I don't see it though as deprivation, but more, a new found appreciation and dedication to my health. There are other ways to treat your taste buds and get that warm and cozy feeling without harming yourself in the process.You can recreate many of your favorites. For example, when this fall, Starbucks re-introduces their crowd pleasing, Pumpkin Spice latte, do yourself and the ones you love a favor, and make a healthier version of it at home.

My Elimination "Diet"

Detoxing has become the new black as far as health and diet activists are concerned. It is something we do when we want to give our bodies a breather. But why detox, you ask,  is it really necessary? Since we live in a time with more toxins in our environment than ever, many say an occasional detox is a good idea. Whether you do a simple juice/water fast for a few days, a brief cleanse or an extended, restrictive food detox, they can be quite beneficial.

And toxins enter our bodies through much more than just the foods we eat. We also receive toxins regularly through the cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, lotions, deodorants perfumes, hair coloring and makeup that we use on a regular basis.  It would be best if we could minimize the use of these chemical based items and substitute natural and chemical free products where we can.

But I believe that what is just as important and necessary for many of us is a media detox for our mind, spirit and soul. One thing that has happened in the past 20 years or so is that we have become overloaded with activity with very little time left for rest, rejuvenation and relaxation. We are on call 24/7 and most of us are not ER doctors, nurses, or first responders. We have programmed our phones to let us know when we receive an email, a Facebook post, or a text message and these alerts come through at all hours of the day and night. For some reason, we feel that if we don’t find out immediately what is going on, we might be missing out on something.  The truth is, most of this information is far from an emergency that needs our immediate attention, and more than likely doesn’t require our attention at all. We are overfeeding ourselves ~ too much news, too much information, and it has created an overload that is clogging up our mind and starving our spirit.

I realize in this high-tech day and age, it is hard to let go of something that seems so vital to our existence.  But if you really look at things, do you need to be on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and every other social media site out there? It is exhausting to say the least. And what are the true benefits? You might want to ask yourself this question. What would benefit you more; adding another post or link on your Twitter account or using that time to do something like, read a book, spend time with a friend, relax in a chair and watch the clouds go by?

I have had to pull in the reins on my own social networking. I was told it was necessary to be involved in all of these if I was to become successful in my business. But after attempting it for only a short time I found that what I was doing wasn’t authentic ~ it wasn’t my true voice or serving my soul purpose. I was so busy trying to figure out what to tweet on Twitter, which hashtags to use on Instagram and finding recipes to share on my website, that I was falling behind on the things that really matter to me. So I eliminated what I could and settled on just a couple of the things that I like to do best; my blog, my business Facebook page, and spreading my message the good old fashioned way, by talking, by word of mouth.

If you are feeling what I am feeling, a bit overwhelmed, then my suggestion is to try a media detox for a short period of time. I can hear you screaming “Nooo” right about now. I realize it is asking a lot.  But if you can, take some baby steps here, and at least set some boundaries for yourself where you are “off limits” to the rest of the world ~ establish periods of time that you are available for work calls, phone calls, returning emails and the like. Try to spend the first hour or so of your morning without turning on your computer or the morning news. Set a time in the evening where you turn it all off and don’t recheck it again until morning. Stick to it for a little while and I have a feeling you might just end up sticking with it.

Sleeping our way to the top ~

It seems that sleep is a rare commodity for many ~ most of us are sleep deprived, myself included. Though I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, I don’t stay asleep for long. I wake several times a night. The reasons are always different, whether it is the train that goes by at all hours during the night and early morning, or the fights I have with the covers on my bed, or the one too many cups of tea that I have in the evening, it doesn’t matter the cause, the symptom is always the same. Not enough sleep.

Now, for some strange reason, for many of us in this society, we don’t like to admit to sleeping. We boast about our sleepless nights and how little sleep we need to survive on. Or the fact that we were up at 4:00 am working on our latest blog, or having closed the deal with clients on the east coast before most of us here in the west have even had our first cup of coffee. We wear this lack of sleep like a badge of honor. Like we are some kind of superhero.

It's as if we fear that by admitting to, or actually sleeping an 8 hour night, we might appear weak or unproductive. You know, the phone rings, it wakes you.  You answer with an obviously sleepy Brenda Vaccaro kind of  “Hello?” The person on the other end, “Oh I’m sorry, did I wake you?” And for some reason, even if we are in a dead sleep, we say “Oh no, I’m awake, I’ve been up for a while.” It’s like there is something embarrassing about being asleep.  We don’t want anyone to think that we either went to bed too early or that we are sleeping in too late.  A dead giveaway of a slacker, and heaven forbid we don’t want anyone to think of us as a slacker.

Why do we confuse and sometimes associate sleep with laziness?  I know highly successful people who take daily naps, power naps, as they are sometimes called.  There are cultures that take an entire 3 hour “lunch” break during the work week to catch up on perhaps, a nap or quick snooze.  It seems that if we want to be successful in whatever we do in life, we need to get our share of sleep. Sleep is what keeps us focused, fit and fueled.

There are so many health benefits to getting adequate sleep. It is when we sleep that our bodies heal and repair themselves. Sleep can help to keep our heart healthy, reduce stress, improve our memory and help to control our body weight.  So now that we know that, why don't we all just try to get a little more sleep.