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Category Archives: life

with a little help from my friends

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Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter

There is no right time. There will never the perfect time to do what you have been dreaming about. There will never be a magical moment when all of our obligations are neatly bundled and put away. Because of this, any time is the right time. You can do it now. It can be messy. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to drop some of the balls you happen to be juggling today. We use excuses to keep us stuck in our comfort zone. I’m too old, I’m too young, I don’t have the right education, I’m too heavy, the list could go on and on. It really comes down to fear. It’s ok to be afraid. But be afraid and do it anyway. I have been working on a project that feels big to me. I am taking steps each day to move forward with something that I am very passionate about. It’s a program that educates and encourages women to be the healthiest they can be. There are moments that I feel excited and sure that this is the right thing for this time. And then there are moments that I want to go hide in my bed for hours. I hear the voices of self-doubt creep in. They say things like, “Who would want to listen to you?” or “Who do you think you are?” Fortunately, I know how to answer back. I have been through similar situations and have learned to be able hush the chatter and walk through the fear. Every time I walk through the fear, I come out the other side a little stronger. In moments of weakness, I ask myself how I will feel a year from now if I don’t follow through. I imagine that I would have regret if I stop now. They say that we are more likely to regret the things we haven’t done. I would rather try and fail than not try. I also rely heavily on my community. My husband, sisters, parents, friends, and even people who I have never met face to face are helping me every step of the way. It is so important for me to remember that even though this is a solo project, I don’t have to do anything alone. A supportive community has been a key to my sanity for the past 17 years.

Is there something that you are wanting to do? Are you holding back? What are you waiting for? We have one chance to live the life we want to live. Allow yourself to express yourself fully. Get comfortable with imperfection. Be available to support and encourage others who are putting themselves out there. As Marianne Williamson so beautifully stated in Our Deepest Fear, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”

Adventures in DIY Products

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DIY Sunscreen and bug spray

DIY Sunscreen and bug spray

Because I am always searching for healthy, affordable options, I have been wanting to experiment with some natural homemade products. Until recently, I have only seen recipes that required odd ingredients that didn’t seem easy to get. Or even worse, excessive steps that needed unfamiliar equipment. This combination turned me off and left me to wander the aisles of health food stores reading labels and sometimes purchasing things that I felt were overpriced and just didn’t deliver the promised results. Don’t get me wrong, I have also found some great products that I am happy to pay top dollar for. This past week I stumbled across two DIY recipes that I happened to have all of the ingredients for and that seemed really easy to make. Yay! I made a natural sunscreen and a natural bug spray. I have found both to be easy to make, effective, and affordable. Not only that, but I feel good about putting them on myself and my family.

Let’s start with the bug spray. In a 1 ounce bottle, I added 20 drops of lemongrass essential oil, filled the bottle halfway with witch hazel and filled the rest with filtered water. When I need to use it, I shake and spray. For people who live in ares known for ticks, you may want to add tea tree essential oil (20 drops). This can be used on pets too!

Now for the sunscreen. I used a recipe that I saw on Facebook by Earth Remedy. If you would like to see the original article with all of the variations, click here. This is the recipe I used:

  • 1/2 cup of fresh aloe gel. I took it from my garden. I cut a leaf in half and scooped out the gel. I’m sure you can buy this gel at health food stores.
  • 5 tbsp of coconut oil. This is the thick, white form used for cooking.
  • 3 capsules of vitamin E oil (discarding the casing).
  • 20 drops of carrot seed essential oil.

I mixed the above ingredients and placed them in a jar. As many of you know, I am really fair so I am trying this slowly. It worked well when I was out in the sun for 45 minutes. It was during a run so my face was sweaty and I wiped it a few times. I did get a little more sun than I would have liked on my face, but it worked great on my arms and shoulders. A few days later, I went to the beach. I started with this DIY sunscreen but I ended up using commercial sunscreen after a while. This is due to the fact that I hadn’t tested it for long-term use and I was in and out of the water a lot. As someone who has had melanoma, I don’t feel like I can fool around with this stuff.

Once I had all of the ingredients in my home, I would say that it may have taken me 25 minutes total to make both of these items. This is something that the kids can get involved in too. If you don’t want to let them help with the mixing and blending, maybe they can decorate the labels. If you are interested in purchasing essential oils, I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs. This is where I purchase most of mine from. They are high quality and this company is known for being environmentally aware. Just click on their name and it will take you to their website.

I would be really interested to hear how either of these work for you. I would also be interested to hear about anything you are making yourself that you find relatively easy to make and effective.

Balancing tip-Pick one chemically laden commercial product that you use on your body frequently and commit to switching it out. If you are pressed for time or just not interested in making your own products, there are plenty of excellent products on the market these days to choose from. Do a quick Google search and you are half way there!

Saluting the Moon

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Saluting the moon

Saluting the moon

As we begin to lead a healthier lifestyle, many people begin to notice that they feel better when they are in line with the rhythms of nature. The art and science of Ayurveda gives us guidelines to follow to help establish routines that correspond not only to the rhythms of the day, but also the month and the season. It is for this reason that we will include this flow tonight in our restorative yoga class at ReFlex Arts. Today is a very powerful full moon. Sometimes just taking a few minutes (or rounds of salutations) to pause, reflect and appreciate the beauty and infinite wisdom of the universe can bring serenity to our mind. When this happens, our whole energy field shifts to a higher vibration as we come into balance with Mother Nature.

Balancing tip-Join us tonight! If time or space prohibits you from joining us this evening, I invite you to move through this sequence. Move slow enough to be able to decipher your body’s feedback and make sure you keep breathing. Allow curiosity and awareness to take the lead. Be fully present to be able to truly experience the practice. Let me know how it goes. Namaste.

**Unfortunately I can’t find a link to the source of this photo to be able to give credit. The name says Susie Anderson so I will just say, “Thank you, Susie Anderson.”

softening my gaze

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yoga workshopI had the opportunity recently to study with some of the greats in the yoga community. My Christmas gift from my boss at ReFlex Arts was a weekend in Miami at a Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman workshop. One word: Amazing!

There was so much information shared. They instructed on poses and breath, led wonderful guided meditations, chanted and spoke of yoga philosophy. I was particularly struck by the energetic conversation. Many of the poses were basic but we were able to tune into a more subtle energy and focus. One of the recurring themes of the weekend was drishti, or gaze. Where are we looking? Where is our focus? I am very familiar with this practice and I often talk about it in my classes. The idea that our attention follows our eyes, that where the gaze goes, the body and mind will follow. What was new and really cool to me was incorporating an element of pratyahara into drishti. Pratyahara is the fifth step or limb in the system of yoga according to the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (the most ancient and revered sourcebook for yoga practice). Pratyahara is defined as “the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses.” I have been able to experience this when in deep meditation or in that space between being awake and being asleep. I may notice lights, sounds and sensations but they don’t disturb my stillness. This wasn’t something that I could easily slip into until this workshop. More than once we were told to “pull your eyes to the back of your head.” “Don’t have your eyes bulging out of the front of your head.” Something within these repeated instructions clicked with me. I was able to withdrawal and soften my gaze. Not only that, but I was able to withdrawal the other senses as well by thinking of them moving deeper into my body.

I may have moved through triangle pose one thousand times but I found something deeper this time. Practicing a pratyahara inspired drishti made a world of difference and I have been able to take the practice into my life and bring a softer gaze to areas of struggle and resistance. Pulling my attention inward, where the true answers are, and seeing things from a different perspective is always a step in the right direction.

Balancing tip-Where is your gaze? What are you focusing on? Where the gaze goes, the body and mind will follow. What is on your TV? What are the lyrics to the songs you listen to? If you are a parent of young children, what are your children focusing on? It may be interesting to take a day or two and notice what you are letting into your soul. Namaste.

The Comfort Zone

My comfort zone gets quite cramped after a while. It seems that I fall into a groove with something, it feels good, and then it starts to feel bad and I am forced to grow and change. I never grow and change out of virtue. It’s always due to the strong discomfort of stagnation. Anyway, there’s been a lot of growing and changing lately. The most obvious is that I finally posted my picture on the blog. This alone makes me want to hide in bed for the next couple days. One less obvious change is that I started taking Tae Kwon Do classes at a local studio with my son. This is a big challenge for me. When we left class the other night, he said, “You don’t always seem like you enjoy the class.” He is right. I don’t always enjoy the class. I’m not sure why, though. I don’t want to stop just because it’s out of my comfort zone. It has been good for me, as a teacher, to experience being brand new at something. I have a much better understanding of what adults feel like starting to move in ways that they may have never moved before in their life. I am understanding why some people have such a hesitancy in their motions and why they may not come back after what seems to be a rewarding experience. There are a few reasons that I stay. First of all, I love sharing an activity with one of my children. Second, I don’t want to quit before the magic happens. Third, I will be teaching yoga there and I want a better understanding of what the studio is all about. And, lastly, it’s a good exercise for me to sit in discomfort and know that it’s ok for me to feel uncomfortable.

This may all seem silly to some people, but it is big for me. I have also been expanding in my career. Some cool things seem to be taking off and I have had opportunities to connect with people from all over the country looking for ways to incorporate more wellness into their lives. Stepping out of my comfort zone has renewed my enthusiasm for living fully. I want to experience it all and share it with anyone who’s interested. I no longer want to make any decisions out of fear. There is a momentum moving me forward at this point and I am going to try to ride the wave. I trust my experience that I will arrive safely at a temporary destination. It is at this next destination that I will find my next comfort zone. There will be a brief leveling out and then I will be off again.

Balancing tip-Rethink salt. Table salt is terrible. In fact, it is really far removed from true salt. Pick up some pink Himalayan salt. Use it as you would any other salt. It contains 84 trace minerals that your body needs. This salt comes from deep in the Himalayan Mountains. It is free of chemicals and additives and can aid you in your healthy lifestyle.

Himalayan Crystal Salt Benefits:

  • Controls the water levels of the body
  • Promotes a stable pH balance in the cells
  • Encourages proper blood sugar levels
  • Reduces signs of aging
  • Promotes cellular hydroelectric energy creation
  • Aids vascular health
  • Supports healthy respiration
  • Supports healthy sinus conditions
  • Increases bone strength

 

 

looking for clear skies

Clear sky and clouds

Clear sky and clouds (Photo credit: Archbob)

When we practice mind-body techniques we can fairly quickly start to see some benefits. Whether it’s yoga, tai chi, qigong or meditation we will notice a sense of peace and calm. This isn’t just an emotional response. The  emotional response comes from the physiology in our body actually changing. Our respiration slows and lengthens, blood pressure drops, feel-good neurotransmitters increase, stress hormones decrease, etc. The result is that sense of peace and calm. When we continue to practice whichever techniques we are drawn to, more profound changes begin to take place in our bodies and in our minds. We begin to see that stressors occurring in our lives have less of an impact on us. We feel that we can handle tough situations with some ease. We may even start to feel that we have the ability to overcome long-standing issues. Then, maybe one day after practicing for some time, we have the realization that we are not our thoughts, our emotions, or our titles. We start to familiarize ourselves with who we truly are: the vast being behind all else. This being is not influenced by our idea of reality. This being could be compared to the sky. Always present in the background. Our thoughts could be like clouds. Sometimes light and fluffy and sometimes dark, low and dense. Issues that we struggle with are like storms in the sky, sometimes seeming like they will never pass. But they always do, they pass and the sight of the sky returns, unchanged. Just as the sky seems endless, so is our true nature. There is always more to explore, ways to go deeper. Our access point can be as simple as the breath.

Once we connect to this vastness, we no longer need to be reacting to things around us. We can begin to take positive action and see things on a larger scale. We can let things go that seem minor. We can allow someone else to win the argument or get in front of us in line. We can apologize first and know that we are not less of a person for doing so. When we release fear, we can build others up knowing that their strength will not make us week. This connection is a total game changer. It allows us to widen our lens and change our perspective and see what is really important. Once we stop reacting and start acting with love, we will find we have much more control over our lives. We can stop playing the victim and step into a place of power. I often say “I’m so lucky”, but the truth is that I’m not lucky at all. I have consciously made a series of decisions over the course of years that have led me to the situation that I am in now. My situation may or may not appeal to you, but I am very happy to be exactly where I am today. We do not need to be victims of circumstance. We are powerful beings navigating through a world of illusion. The answers will never be in the illusion, they are always within.

Balancing Tip-Check the ingredients in your vitamins and supplements. Since my friend, Jackie, recently wrote a great article on this topic, I am just going to put the link here for you to enjoy her writing  🙂   The Truth about Vitamins

A Compassionate Warrior

Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion,...

Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, 16th century image from Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many people in our country and around the world who are feeling the effects of recent events. The vibration of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. has reached far and wide. I have been wondering what I could do from my little corner of the world. Of course, I have been sending love and positive energy to all who are in need. As a group on Friday night, my friend led us through a beautiful meditation helping us to bring love and compassion to this situation and releasing some of our fear, anger and anxiety. She talked about the situation being a dark space and letting our light shine through the darkness. It was very healing. Saturday I cried. A lot. The more I learned about what had taken place, the more shaken I was. I believe the best thing for me to do (besides hold my children super tight) is to keep my heart open, to continue to cultivate compassion, and to continue to strengthen my body. The combination of these three elements will hopefully contribute to me becoming a compassionate warrior. My idea of a compassionate warrior is someone who actively looks for ways to bring more love into the world. It is someone who will stand up for peace and shine so brightly that the dark spaces become a little less scary. Keeping my heart open will allow love to flow easily. Cultivating compassion will allow me to connect with people and situations through kindness and tolerance. A strong, healthy body allows me to do my work at an optimal level.

We can all be our own compassionate warrior, shining our light brightly for all to see. This, of course, was the theme for my yoga class this morning. We practiced heart openers and strong warrior poses. We practiced breathing and silence and we focused on growing a feeling of compassion for all. It was truly a beautiful, sacred space. I’m not sure if everyone felt it but I certainly did. If nothing else, my healing has begun and I have renewed faith in where I am being led.

Balancing Tip–Cultivating Compassion. We are all connected to each other and rely on one another. We are social beings who feel the most joy while in community. Cultivating compassion can not only help us to see others in a different light, but it can also help us to love ourselves more deeply. This is a practice that sometimes comes easier than others. Sit and get quiet for a minute or two. Bring a soft focus to the breath. Bring to mind someone you love that may be going through a difficult situation. Spend a few minutes feeling empathy for them and wishing them well. Notice the physical sensations that arise in the body. Next, bring to mind a more neutral person (maybe the bus driver or mail carrier, someone who you don’t have strong feelings about). Try to continue to have the same empathy and physical sensations while focusing on this neutral person. Wish them well. Finally, bring your attention to someone who brings you challenge. See if you can hold compassion for this challenging person. Wish them well. This practice can get more involved, this is just a quick beginners version. This practice is simple but not easy and may take quite some time before you are truly able to feel compassion as you move your focus away from those whom you love. I can tell you that it is worth any effort you put into this practice. This practice creates freedom. It may even help you to become a compassionate warrior.

Gluten-free December

imgresMy children and I have a sensitivity to gluten. How do I know this? Well, I guess I don’t know for sure yet. There is a blood test but we haven’t taken it. We will know for sure by the way we feel once we eat it again. Some of our symptoms include gastrointestinal issues, allergies, irritability, and skin issues. We have made a commitment to eating gluten-free for the month of December. Really it was two days after Thanksgiving until Christmas. Each of us has chosen to do this. No one is being forced.  It has been two and a half weeks and we are doing really well. Not only are some symptoms subsiding but we have enjoyed the challenge of finding nutritious foods without wheat, barley or rye ingredients. I have been surprised over and over again to find how pervasive gluten is in our food supply. The best way to avoid it is to eat whole foods (the way they are presented in nature). It seems that as soon as we start processing products, we need to find things to fill and bind. Apparently, gluten is good for that.

This adventure has already brought more gifts than challenges. With a shared goal, we are a unified group. As with many families raising teens, it can be hard to find common ground. We have been looking for meal solutions together and the kids are even making some stuff ahead of time to bring for their lunch and activities. Another cool result of being gluten-free is that we are all reading food labels. Both children are noticing other odd ingredients in standard American diet foods and commenting on it. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal but it really is. We have a nutritional epidemic happening in our country because adults have no idea what they are eating or what they are feeding their children. I am super proud of my kids for choosing to be aware and make the necessary changes. I am not saying that it has been easy. There is plenty that we miss but I most definitely am enjoying the experience.

Balancing tip – Just because something says it is gluten-free does NOT mean it is healthy. If you are on a gluten-free diet or considering trying it, please continue to read the description beyond the gluten-free labeling. Use good judgement and know that it is always the best option to eat food exactly as Mother Nature intended.

*Following up from my announcement a couple of weeks ago, I have launched a web boutique called Red Earth Warrior. I don’t have everything loaded into the site yet but you are welcome to take a look around. I would love to hear any feedback you might have. In addition to the essential oil blends and clothing that is there, I am offering Salt Lamps, Salt Inhalers, Fair Trade Thai Silk Scarves, and more. Please feel free to share the link with your friends!

I Voted!

Vote Oregon!

Vote Oregon! (Photo credit: jugbo)

As much as I am ready to be beyond the election this year, I was really psyched to vote today! I’m not sure why, but we are allowed to vote early in Florida. Maybe because it takes so much time to fill the little circles in on the ballot. I find it mind-boggling that it isn’t computerized here! Anyway, this isn’t the point of this post. The point is that I felt empowered as I left the polling place. I thought of all the women in the past who weren’t able to vote. I thought of the first few brave women who stood up and acknowledged the crime in not allowing women to be part of the process. I wondered if their mothers’ secretly cheered them on, if their husbands’ gave them the silent treatment, if their children were embarrassed. Women risked their lives more than once for me to be able to place my preference on a ballot. I am honored and humbled by the heroism that needed to be inside each and every man and woman who stood up and said there should be equality. I was proud to show my support for them today by utilizing this privilege of voting. I hope we never forget their struggle and take for granted this right.

There are many wonderful things about our country and I am proud to be an American. There are also many things that need to be worked out. Because we are always growing and changing, it would seem logical that our country would grow and change too. Some things that were relevent 200 years ago are still relevent today and somethings need to change that maybe were enacted only 10 years ago. Sometimes (or always) change is scary but holding onto old ideas for the sake of holding on can be painful. As we see injustices happening and as we feel progress being stifled, we can find strength and encouragement by remembering the men and women who first brought up the preposterous idea of gender equality at the polls. It isn’t easy or glamorous to make an unpopular stand and speak the truth about what is happening. If we want to see our country evolve and grow along with us, it is not only our right but our duty.

Balancing tip-Your doctor doesn’t have the last word on your health! You have the ability to take control of your health starting right now. You decide your health is important when you make positive food choices. You decide that your body is important when you move it a little each day. You take control when you seek out trusted alternative health practitioners and get second and third opinions. If you need help navigating through some of the information out there that sometimes seems conflicting, please reach out to me. I have developed an unofficial network of holistic practitioners in many parts of the country. These people are doing amazing things with nutrition, energy, acupuncture, herbs, IV vitamin therapy, kinesiology, nutritional supplements, yoga therapy and much more. I am talking about disease reversal! I am talking about moving away from pharmaceuticals. Please know that I know that some pharmaceuticals are a blessing and we may need to take them for some conditions. My point is that things have gotten out of hand and this is me standing up and saying, “Something is wrong and we need to evolve!”

gratitude continued…

Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My focus for the past week has been on gratitude. It started, as most of you know, with being the theme of a yoga class. I decided to see what would happen if I really made an effort to stay with that as my primary focus. Of course I would think of other things and go about my normal life, but my intention was to keep returning to a place of gratitude and look for things to feel grateful about. I even used an app on my iPad to draw a picture of something I felt really grateful for. Whenever I was having trouble finding that feeling in my heart, I pulled up the picture and let myself sink into it emotionally so that soon enough–I was feeling a swelling in my chest and an expansion in my body. I wanted to let you know that I have had an amazing week! Not only do I feel really lucky for all the good things in my life, but I have actually had a bunch of things happen this week that give me reason to be even more grateful! I know it sounds like a bunch of crap but I’m telling you this really worked for me.

I am going to challenge each of you to try it for 7 days. Just shift your focus to the things you are grateful for. If you don’t feel like you can draw, print a picture from the computer of something you are super grateful for and put it in your pocket or purse. Whenever you catch yourself feeling lack or fear, pull it out and look at it for a minute until your focus shifts. Feel gratitude for a couple of minutes when you first wake up and right before you go to bed. It’s that simple. That which we focus on grows. As we focus our attention on gratitude, we are provided more opportunities to feel grateful. Have fun and let me know what happens for you!

Balancing tip-Start weaning off the Teflon! This chemical non-stick coating although very convenient, emits toxic fumes when overheated. Not only that, but as normal wear and tear happen, we ingest tiny particles into our body with the food we are eating. Some of the health dangers include: flu-like symptoms, smaller birth weight and size in newborns, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid function, liver inflammation, and weakened immune system. There are safer alternatives available such as stainless steel and cast iron. You don’t need to break the bank replacing all of your cookware. I picked up a cast iron skillet recently at Goodwill for $10. You can just replace a piece at a time. If you need to continue using the non-stick for a while, do so on the lowest temperature possible to cook your food safely. Learning to cook on these different surfaces takes a little practice but I have found the transition to be pretty painless.  🙂

 

 

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