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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.  🙂

 

 

Gratitude

Today’s theme was gratitude. We started our yoga practice bringing to mind something that we felt incredibly grateful for. This could have been anything: a person in our life, a situation we were happy with, or even the fact that we made it to a yoga class this morning. We focused on this idea until we could actually feel a swell of emotion in our chest. It was easier for some, but we all felt the energy. Once this feeling was recognized and cultivated by continuing to keep our awareness there, we began to move our bodies and engage the breath. Our goal was to open energy channels in the body to allow this feeling of gratitude in our chest to expand freely through our whole being. We wanted to end the practice feeling like large vibrating balls of grateful energy. As we came to areas of tightness and constriction we had an option of focusing on the discomfort or focusing on this beautiful flow of gratitude. When we chose to focus on the discomfort, it grew. When we would shift our focus and reconnect with that feeling of gratitude, that’s what grew. We laughed during some particularly difficult postures and thought we would never be able to get back to feeling grateful.

This was one of my favorite classes that I have ever led. As we move through the rest of our week, I hope we can remember to focus on gratitude as opposed to the problems we are dealing with at any given moment. It doesn’t matter if we are in a class or living our daily life, our focus causes expansion. What do you want to expand?

Balancing Tip-Ayurveda tells us that incorporating hot spices into our diet can stoke our digestive fire. We call this fire Agni. Using spices early in the day can keep our digestion humming for the whole day. An easy way to add spice is by adding cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, and ginger to our smoothie or oatmeal or any hot cereal in the morning. Don’t be afraid to eat nontraditional breakfast items in the morning. We had blackened salmon last night and I took the left overs and put it over a salad this morning. The spice was a nice addition to the taste but I also know that my body will be effectively breaking down everything else I eat today. 🙂

What is Ayurveda?

The translation of the word Ayurveda is the science of life. It is the traditional healing system of India. This system is over 5000 years old. Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga. The two systems often work hand-in-hand. An Ayurvedic consultation will help you to understand your own body type and ways in which you can work with your body to preserve and maintain wellness. Digestion is a big focus in Ayurveda. Proper nutrition and the use of herbs can help us to get our digestive system in order. Because food is our fuel, we need to be able to assimilate it properly in order to get the benefits of our diet. I can help you figure out which foods are most beneficial for you and explain how incorporating healing herbs into your diet may support you in moving towards wellness.

In addition to dietary recommendations, an Ayurvedic consultation will include lifestyle suggestions, stress management strategies, and advice on exercise options for your current fitness level. An Ayurvedic practitioner can give advice and support on many levels because it is a system of healing that gives attention to body, mind and spirit. I am happy to be able to offer this not only to local clients but to anyone interested in learning more about how this ancient art can improve their health and well-being. You don’t have to settle for less than vibrant health!

I am giving away a FREE 45 minute Ayurvedic consultation via Skype or phone in exchange for some feedback about detoxing. In my previous post, Free Ayurvedic Consultation, I stated the steps to take in order to be in the running to win the consultation. I noticed that plenty of people were viewing the post but not many were commenting. I am hoping by explaining in some detail about what an Ayurvedic consultation is, we may get some more comments on the post regarding issues with seasonal cleanses. The winner won’t be drawn until the middle of November 2012, so there is still time to get in on it. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. 

Balancing Tip-Pay attention to the words you choose today. Try to find positive ways to say things even if the situation is less than positive. Our words have tremendous power. Choosing our words carefully can have a big impact on how we perceive the world around us. Namaste.

Free Ayurvedic Consultation

I am in the process of creating an easy 3 day seasonal detox for better health with two of my favorite colleagues, Melina Economos and Andrew Saxon. We are scheduled to launch this initial 3 day detox in January at ReFLEX Arts in Sarasota. My contribution to this cleanse is my knowledge and experience in Ayurvedic practices. This seasonal cleanse something I do myself at least twice a year. As a busy working mom, it needs to be something that I can incorporate into my regular life. Although I try to work it around our schedules in such a way that I am able to take a little downtime each day, it is not something I need to go away for or take time off from work. I make sure that I am stocked with the ingredients I need and that some of the meals are prepared ahead of time.

In preparing to present this simple cleanse, I am curious to know what comes to your mind as the biggest obstacle for you to complete a successful detox. Maybe you have done them before and it was terrible because you were hungry or felt sick during the process. Maybe you have never done one before and wouldn’t know what would be appropriate to eat and aren’t sure who to take nutritional advice from. Maybe you think you wouldn’t be able to follow through with the plan if you have a young family. Whatever the case may be, I would like to hear about it.

My friends and I will take this information and create a plan that has solutions to these problems built right into it. I’m sure that no matter what is stopping you from moving toward wellness with a seasonal detox, we can find a manageable formula that will work for your situation.

In return for your input, we are offering a free Ayurvedic consultation to get you started to a random person who provides a comment on this post. This 45 minute consultation will offer you simple ways to incorporate more wellness into your daily life. These tips and techniques will be suited to your own personal needs and your specific body type or dosha. You will need to subscribe to this blog, like this post, and leave a comment about your personal hurdles when in comes to seasonal cleansing. Your location is not a factor for the consultation. This will be available via Skype, i chat, or telephone. A winner will be selected and notified by the middle of November 2012. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

We are super excited about this project and look forward to sharing information and tips with you in the future!

Summer Loving

So I took the summer off from blogging. I decided to focus any extra time I had on my family. It has been a great summer. We took a couple of vacations as well as enjoyed the beauty Sarasota has to offer. I continued to work and even had the opportunity to teach some yoga on the road. School starts on Monday and I think we are all feeling restored as individuals and as a family. During this time, I’ve made some new connections and strengthened existing friendships. Reflecting on the past couple months, I would have to say that this time has been about relationships with others.

There has even been a shift in my relationship with my husband. I feel we have grown as a couple because of our willingness to look at each other with appreciation, to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and to look for ways to find solutions instead of proving a point. After seeing the impact yoga has made on my life, spiritually, emotionally and physically, my husband is getting ready to start a yoga teacher training program. I am super excited for him! He really has no idea what he is getting himself into, but I think he will love it if he lets himself fully experience even half of what this program has to offer. I feel like this will expand our relationship even further. I look forward to sharing ideas with him about the deeper meaning of the Sutras, about the physical practice and about how the study of this practice can impact our family. I am content in knowing it will all unfold just as it should.

Balancing Tip- cha, cha, cha Chia! Yes, that’s right. The same seeds many people spread on ceramic heads and animals years ago are what we should have been eating all along. Here is a link to a great article on the wonders of chia seeds and a couple of ways to incorporate them into your diet. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4353/6-Reasons-Why-You-Should-Eat-Chia.html

practicing off the mat

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Often overheard in any of my yoga classes is a statement about feeling appreciation for all of the things our bodies are doing right in any given moment. We often neglect to observe this phenomenon in lue of focusing on what is going wrong. Many times pain in one area of the body will become our primary focus(understandably so). If we can widen the lens even just a bit, we may begin to see that there is more happening, which may then bring a small amount of relief. I have found for myself and others that once our focal point is slightly shifted, we can create the space for miracles to happen. This can happen within a posture as well. We may feel frustration because our hamstrings are too tight for us to be able to bend over and touch our toes. In widening our focus, we can see the interconnectedness in our bodies. We can back off slightly, breath through some discomfort, and put ourselves in a position of allowing that may even let us sink a little further. Incorporating feelings of appreciation will bring ease to the movements and we may find that we go further than we ever thought we would in a relatively short period of time.

Last week, I found myself focusing on what another person was doing wrong. This person is close to me and my attention to the undesirable behavior was making me unhappy. After a day or two of this, it hit me: my attention to this matter was only impeding me from my own bliss. Why was I choosing to focus on this one issue when there were tons of things that this person does right all the time? I instantly felt better. That little shift in awareness made a huge impact on my mood and my ability to see things objectively. This doesn’t mean that I don’t need to deal with the undesirable behavior, but I can deal with it from a place of love and with a clear head. By taking a step back, I created some space for my own healing. I immediately connected this with what I find myself saying in classes all the time and was amused by my humanness. Progress, not perfection.

Balancing tip-remove MSG from your diet. Reading labels can be intimidating, but if you can remember just one ingredient to find on the label and then return that product to the shelf, make it monosodium glutamate. It is a flavor enhancer added to many of the foods we all love. The problem is that MSG causes obesity. Sadly, everyone in the food and drug business seems to be aware of this. When doing studies on obesity, scientists use rats and mice. These animals aren’t naturally overweight. To get them to gain weight, they are fed diets enhanced with MSG. This ingredient alone causes obesity in the study animals. I found this information to be really disturbing but true. It is up to you to read labels!!!! Eliminating MSG is a huge step in the right direction towards better health. If large amounts of the population stop buying products containing this killer, the food industry will be forced to change. I would love to hear about what you discover as you begin to read the labels of your staple foods.

asking for help

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These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activities and events. Many of which have given me cause to reflect on what is happening in my life. I celebrated a birthday, Mother’s Day, and my 16 year sobriety anniversary within two weeks. I am so grateful to be where I am today and I have been enjoying all of the mayhem that goes along with juggling family and career. Mixed in with the feeling of gratitude was some uneasiness. I’m sure many of you know the feeling and have heard the voice. The one that says, “Who am I to be thinking of expanding my business?, Who would want to learn from me?, What makes me think I have that much to offer?” This voice sucks. I hear it less and less as the years go by, but every once in a while I find myself caught up in self-doubt. Luckily, I have acquired some tools over the years for just this very situation. As I sat in my morning meditation the other day, I asked the Universe to show me if I was ready. I asked that my ego step aside and I become a channel for something greater than me. With that, I got up and got ready for the day while continuing to beat myself up. (It’s funny-or crazy-how quickly I can vacillate from one extreme to the other.)

My morning was unusually smooth, everyone off to work and school without a hitch. I arrived to work feeling less capable than normal but wanting to find clues that I was on the right path. I had three massages scheduled. All of them were new clients. As I talked with the first woman before her session, she revealed that she was struggling with some emotional issues and that she would be open to any suggestions that I may have. I stepped out of the room to let her undress and thought to myself, “I don’t know what to tell her.” Just then, I passed a regular client in the hall who had a session the week before. She said, “Thank you so much for the visualization exercise you gave me last week. It really helped. Every time I feel pain, I think of what you said and within minutes the pain is gone.” Then she gave me a hug and walked into a yoga class. My first clue. I was on the right path. I can help the woman who is in the treatment room waiting for me. That client left with a renewed hope and willingness to continue to make time for wellness. My next client came in for stress relief and floated out, stating that she thought my “hands had eyes because they stopped at every area in need.” My second clue. I do have something offer. My final client of the day is very much on edge. While I am talking to her before her session, she sternly stops the conversation and says, “With all do respect, I just need a massage.” Thankfully, I was beginning to feel better and her attitude didn’t bother me at all. Shortly after putting my hands on her, she began to release. She cried like a baby and hugged me three times before she booked another appointment. My third and final clue. I thanked the Universe for providing encouragement and I stated out loud, “OK, I get it, I’m moving in the right direction!”

My point in sharing this is to offer some hope and tools in case you experience similar negative self talk. I think a lot of people feel this from time to time. Please know that it is ok to ask for help from a friend, a professional, or whatever your idea is of a Higher Power. I have always received the help and support I needed when I have had the courage to ask. It hasn’t always been what I wanted, but it has been exactly what I needed.

Balancing Tip: Since I am still obsessed with my new juicer, I am going to share my current favorite morning juice. 1 large cucumber, 1 large carrot, a handful of leaves (romaine, spinach, or other green leaf), 1 granny smith apple, 1/2 lemon, about an inch of ginger. I have been pouring it over ice thanks to a tip from the writer of babeandablender.com (Thank you!). Super delicious!

An Evening with the Lama

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This evening I had the pleasure of listening to Anyen Rinpoche speak about emotions and difficult situations. Anyen Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist Lama based out of Denver who travels and teaches ancient Buddhist wisdom. He was soft-spoken, intelligent and full of humor. He explained that we, as Westerners, are attached to a certain idea about what life is and should be. When events happen that differ from our idea, suffering happens. The truth is that we live in a world full of impermanence, yet we continually conceptualize things to be static. Continued suffering. This is not only true in our situations and relationships, but also with our own bodies. Anyen Rinpoche said, “The physical body is only a guest of our Consciousness.” Coming to terms with the fact that we will eventually die can ease much suffering. He briefly spoke of the concept of Samsara which is the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. This idea of reincarnation allows for a continuous flow and less attachment.

Releasing attachment to our ideas of what should be is the first step to equanimity. The next step, as Anyen Rinpoche suggested, was to use the breath. This can be a simple as paying attention to the inhales and the exhales for four or five minutes. Even when in a rush, taking that time will make the remainder of the day markedly better. The third step deals with thought. Not resisting the thoughts and emotions that arise, and at the same time, not chasing the thoughts and emotions. Number three is the hardest for me. When I am feeling strong emotion, good or bad, I have a hard time letting it go. This is where a daily practice of meditation helps. When I am practicing regularly, I have a much easier time allowing things to flow. When I fall off the meditation wagon, I am often in a state of resistance or holding onto something. He spent a little time speaking of the importance of exercise. He spoke specifically of yoga and tai chi. He was quick to add that although exercise can be helpful, we can’t just focus on the physical aspects. Breathwork and meditation are essential to our well-being.

I was able to receive a personal blessing at the end of the talk. The tradition is to present the Rinpoche with a white silk scarf called a Kada. He may keep the scarf or give it to you to keep. I was trying to not be attached to that outcome, even though I really wanted to keep the Kada. He gave me a blessing and gently put the scarf around my neck. I felt lucky for both the blessing and the scarf!

Balancing Tip–You guessed it–Juicing! I think this topic deserves entire posts dedicated to this art. For today, I just want to say that I have begun to incorporate it into my daily life and love it. I haven’t found the best tasting recipes yet, but when you are drinking something that looks like the picture shown, you know you are doing the body good. It also eases the guilt for ordering pizza tonight because I had somewhere important to be!

Namaste.

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