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$20 bags or minibar wine

As my plane landed back in Florida on Sunday afternoon, I was greeted with the news of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Like every other recovering addict I know, I felt sick. 2.5 million people die each year from a disease that I tend to forget about. Every so often I am slapped back to reality. This was one of those slaps. It was as if someone was grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me, saying,  It doesn’t matter that you have been sober for over 17 years, you are still a drunk and a drug addict. You are one slip away from your kids finding you on the bathroom floor. Even while I write this , days later, I can feel the heaviness on my chest and a lump in my throat.

Later that same day, a friend of mine posted something on Facebook which read:  I’m not sure which is more sad, the death of PSH or the small bottles of wine that I keep for cooking that I can’t stop drinking. I wanted to respond to her that these events are equally devastating, that I understood how she felt, that I had been her. I know what it is like to have no control over the substance I am putting into my body. I have lied, cheated, and stole among many other things to get the next drink or drug. But I didn’t. I didn’t respond. I was tired from my trip. The next day the post was down.

I struggled with reaching out to her. It’s not that she doesn’t know that I am in recovery. Everybody knows I’m in recovery. It’s not that I didn’t want to help, I do. I’m not sure why I hesitated. I think it’s a part of me pretending that I am removed from the messy stuff now. It’s funny that this realization makes me closer to the messiness than ever. I sent a private message and I’m hoping to hear back. Either way, I have put the offer out to her. I hope to be able to tell her that she has a chance at another life if she can stay away from the small bottles one day (or minute) at a time. Because that’s what it feels like sometimes, like a whole other life in the same body. I want to let her know that although life has many challenges, everything is manageable when we give up the drink and the drug. I want to show her that there is a huge support system available 24/7 for the times when the urge is stronger than we are. She doesn’t need to do this alone.

As it says in the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, this disease is cunning, baffling, and powerful. These words are as true to me now as they were the first time I heard them. As a person in recovery, I make choices each day that are either leading me towards a drink or away from one. I am grateful that I have made it through another day and that I have plans tomorrow that will continue to lead me away from taking that first drink or drug.

Hello 2014

perfectHappy New Year! I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions but I like to acknowledge the idea of a fresh start. There is something really freeing and exciting when I think of new beginnings. It feels like once again, anything can happen. In honor of this, I am practicing Sankalpa. Sankalpa is an ancient Ayurvedic practice in which we honor the deeper meaning of our life. So even though I have intentions of losing the 8 pounds that I have gained since Halloween, the practice of Sankalpa asks us to dive deeper with our intentions.

The process is simple but certainly not easy. We need to come from the knowledge that we already are who we need to be to fulfill our life’s purpose or dharma. We only need to peel back layers of resistance and old patterns that are no longer serving us. Like I said, simple but not easy. Ideally we can bring forth a statement or vow that we can call upon to remind us of our true nature and guide our choices.

The first stage is to listen in meditation to your heart’s desire. What is it you truly want? This desire is already present within you. You don’t need to create anything. Next, welcome the desire. Feel it with your whole being. The final stage takes courage. The final step is to take the action required. Think about actions that you can commit to that are consistent with this heartfelt desire. Some of the actions will require a strong warrior spirit mixed with loving compassion. This is already a part of you. Let it out.

Balancing tip-So what about that 8 pounds? This is a perfect time to do a mini home detox. When we cleanse in the winter, we want it to be gentle (especially for those of you who are living in colder regions). My plan is to incorporate some self-care practices into my day for the next few days. This will include skin brushing, oil massages, neti, and daily yoga and meditation. I will be drinking at least 1 green juice and/or smoothie each day. I will be drinking herbal teas and limiting caffeine. I will be taking some cleansing herbs and I will be eating plenty of vegetables, mostly leafy greens. My protein and carbohydrate requirements will come from a classic Indian comfort food called Khichadi. It consists of white Basmati rice and yellow mung dahl beans mixed with Indian spices. It is delicious and I will eat it twice a day. This dish is very easy to digest which will give my digestive system a much-needed break from the holiday chaos. The mung dahl beans are soaking as I write.  I (or my husband) will be making the Khichadi tomorrow. If you are local and would like to try a serving, let me know. The recipe makes a lot and I am happy to share.

Feel free to contact me if you would like try something like this for yourself and have some questions.

Finding My Breath

Art and Science of Pranayama

Art and Science of Pranayama

Breathing is something I think about a lot. As a massage therapist, I watch the breath of my client. I use the rhythm of their breath to pace my movements. I allow my breath to sync with theirs and encourage them to breathe when they want to hold their breath.

As a yoga teacher, I tell my students that breath is primary in the practice and that movement or postures are secondary. In yoga we encourage ourselves and others to breathe through difficult situations which hopefully allows for some ease within the challenge. We hope the lessons learned during our practice will translate into our everyday life so that we can stay calm when life throws us the inevitable curveball.

As a meditation facilitator, I have taught many people to become more in tune with their breath. I’ve created countless visualizations to allow the breath to move freely in the body, releasing stagnant or negative energy and allowing an unobstructed flow of life force energy.

When my friend, Emily Seymour from Mind Body Mandala, recently invited me to take a telecourse she was offering in Pranayama (the ancient practice of breath awareness and control), I was eager to find out more. Emily not only has over 1000 hours of yoga training but she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Traditional Eastern Arts. Emily’s approach is always thoughtful and deliberate. I knew this would be an excellent resource for me. My big concern was the time commitment as I am in the processes of learning to not overextend myself. She assured me that it would be no more than 20 minutes a day for a week. I was in.

I had initially expected her to teach me some far out, advanced breathing techniques. I quickly realized this wasn’t the case. It was subtle. Really subtle. The more I opened up to it, the more open I became. I had huge shifts in perspective during the time of the course. At one point, Emily instructs to breathe into my back. I can’t. I try again. Nothing. I am able to feel breath in the entire front of my body but nothing goes to my back. A flood of metaphors fill my mind: what in my life am I turning my back on? What am I ignoring? Etc. Tears flow and I return once again to the breath. Breathing through the discomfort, finding ease in the challenge, sitting in the unknown.

Each day of the teleclass builds on the one before and I could feel my practice getting stronger. This class brought me healing on many levels. Emily is truly a gifted facilitator. I now incorporate pranayama each morning with my meditation. In discovering a part of myself that I had ignored or forgotten or maybe never even saw before, I have found a greater connection between mind, body and spirit. Breath being the common thread.

If you are interested in learning more about pranayama, you will want to check this telecourse out. Emily is offering it at a discounted rate for a limited time. You can find out more by following this link: Art and Science of Pranayama. Make sure you tell Emily that I said “Hello.”

What I wish I knew when I started High School

me and my girl

me and my girl

My daughter started high school this year.  As a mother, this feels a little scary.  I am continually reminding myself that she isn’t me and that her life experiences up to this point have been very different than my experiences were at her age. I am happy for her to begin to feel some freedom and explore new things and ideas. I am happy to know that she will build friendships that may last for many years.

There are a few things that I would love to tell her. Things that I wish I knew when I started high school.

  • Even the “cool kids” feel insecure often
  • Not everybody is doing it (that goes for sex, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes)
  • If they are doing it, they aren’t having as much fun as they are saying
  • People respect you when you respect yourself
  • Being mean is not cool
  • Getting good grades matters
  • What your classmates think of you may change from day to day and won’t matter in 10 years
  • It’s more fun when you don’t take yourself too seriously

So far, she is navigating the unknown territory beautifully. She seems to take much of the drama in stride and tries to stay away from trouble. I am grateful for a handful of wonderful woman who serve as a mentor to her when she doesn’t want to listen to her mother. I can’t blame her, I didn’t want to listen to my mother either. Now I can’t get enough of my mom.

I have also started to share pieces of my story with my daughter. She knows that I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. She asks questions and I tell her the truth that I think she can take in that moment. It scares her. It takes her a while, sometimes months, before she asks the next question. I’m in no rush. I want her to know that she has choices in life. Every step is a choice. Every choice has consequences. I don’t want this to be a burden for her, I want it to give her freedom. Freedom to express herself fully without fear, to see the big picture and not feel threatened by the small shit. These years can be a time of experimenting, learning, pushing boundaries and testing the water without diving into the depths of chaos.

I hope that she has the strength to choose differently than I did, that she chooses to listen to her inner guidance even when it is the softest voice in the room.

Challenge for the week: Replace one toxic product

I recently ran a program that focused on overall wellness. We covered things like our mindset, nutrition, exercise and our environment.  I learned so much during the four-week course. I hope the participants learned half as much as I did. As the facilitator of the process, I had to take a good look at my own life and the choices that I make for myself. As you know, having knowledge of a subject and putting the knowledge to use are two very different things. I realized that I have a lot of room for growth in all areas. This isn’t something to be upset about, in fact, I’m glad to have things to work on and a direction to move in.

Seasonal Local DishI am inspired to take a closer look at the foods I am eating. I encouraged the women in the group to check out seasonal, local foods and find recipes to share with each other. My dish was Wilted Red Swiss Chard, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast for added punch in taste as well as nutritional value.

I encouraged the group to continually return to their breath and create space in their day to just sit and focus on the breath for a few minutes. Talking about this reminded me to do it in times of stress or frustration.

I found myself looking for more opportunities to move my body and fit some fitness into each day.

One of the coolest things for me is putting more effort into making sure I am doing what I can to prevent using toxic chemicals in my home. Many products boast that they are green but are in fact causing harm to you and your family. My new favorite all-purpose cleaner is

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 20 drops essential oil (I’m using Purification from Young Living Oils but lemon works well too)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place in a large spray bottle. This can be used on counter tops, kitchen appliances, toilets, etc.

What are you working on? How are you challenging yourself? In what ways are you taking better care of yourself today than you were a year ago?

Balancing tip-Challenge yourself to replace one unhealthy (aka-chemically laden) product that you use either in your home or on your body with something natural this week. You don’t have to make it yourself, although there are many great recipes available for DIY personal care products as well as cleaning products that are effective and simple to make. Leave a comment about what you are replacing and what you will use instead. I will be posting my switches as well.

Overnight Oats

Overnight oatsI put this recipe in my newsletter but I wanted to make sure I added it here too. This is perfect for those busy, back to school mornings.

I recently found a similar recipe on Lauren Conrad’s website (you should check it out if you have a couple of hours to get lost in cyber space). As much as I love a warm bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning, this chilled version has been great during the warm months. I also enjoy the ease of being able to pack it on my way out the door. It met all of my criteria: delicious, easy, minimal number of healthy ingredients and a minimal number of steps.

  • 1/2 cup of dry uncooked oats
  • 2/3 cup of milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla depending on your taste)
  • cinnamon to taste
  • optional: 1-2 teaspoons chia seeds

Combine all ingredients and cover. Place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you have a quick grab and go breakfast. You can easily mix in fruit,  raisins, or anything else.
Delicious, healthy, and easy.

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The Nourished Woman

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If you are a woman in the prime of your life who is struggling with trying to live a healthy lifestyle, I want to share with you an opportunity to make a transformation with the support of a community of likeminded women. I have been having great success with my clients sharing the things that I have learned over the years through both academic means and life experience. Now I want to share this information with as many women as I can. I have had health and lifestyle challenges in my own life that have been the catalyst to get me where I am today. For years I neglected my own needs to take care of others. Many women find themselves in this position because we often fall naturally into caregiving roles. It may be children who require our attention or an ill spouse, maybe it’s aging parents, grandchildren or neighbors. Regardless, we need to remember the oxygen mask theory and begin to help ourselves so that we can help others. 

I am really excited to think that we will create a community of women who will nurture and support each other through this process. Some of us have been going it alone for too long and it’s time to let someone support you. In this spirit, I am thrilled to announce that 5% of the proceeds of this program will be donated to Salah Freedom. This is a nonprofit organization committed to confronting the issue of sex trafficking and exploitation through advocacy, training, and restorative services. It means so much to me that our community will not only be supporting each other but we will be supporting victims that are rescued from these horrible circumstances. You can check out more about this organization here: Selah Freedom.

You can find out all the details of the program I am offering here: The Nourished Woman. Feel free to email or message me with any questions or concerns. I can help you decide if this program is the right fit for you. I hope to hear from you soon.

Oats and Nut Butter Snacks

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Oats and Nut Butter SnacksMy friend, Sara, submitted an awesome snack recipe for me to share with everyone. I really appreciate her contribution and would love to share more recipes or ideas that any of you have. These Oats and Nut Butter Balls were really simple to make and disappeared quickly.

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or raisins)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup almond butter)
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (I used 1/4 cup ground flaxseed and 1/4 cup chia seeds)
  • 1/3 cup honey (more or less depending on sweetness of nut butters)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients and roll into balls. Refrigerate to set. Perfect for work/school lunches.

Balancing tip-Pause. Before you take the next bite of food, before you say something negative to someone you love, or before you purchase another item, pause. Take a moment, take a breath, be still. You may begin to make some different choices. Let me know what changes for you.

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.”

Easy, Breezy Zucchini

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Zucchini Dogs

Zucchini Dogs

In the hot summer months no one wants to be standing around the oven or stove cooking. I like to head out to my grill. It’s nice to be out of the kitchen and there is usually a lot less clean up. Unfortunately, BBQ foods tend to be a little meat heavy for me. Sure, I could through on some veggie burgers but I am trying to stay away from processed foods. Today I made Zucchini Dogs with Cole Slaw. It was really easy and satisfied my picnic food craving. This recipe made 4 sandwiches with leftover cole slaw.

For the Cole Slaw:

  • small head of cabbage chopped (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red for a prettier picture)
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon honey
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes (I made mine a little spicy)

Mix the oil, vinegar, honey and lemon together. Pour over chopped cabbage and season to taste.

For the Zucchini Dogs:

  • 2 Zucchini quartered lengthwise
  • Preferred cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
  • Garlic (chopped, minced or even powder)
  • Hot dog rolls (I used millet and brown rice flour rolls)

Rub oil on the cut zucchini to coat and then rub with some garlic. Place on the grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Be sure to let it sit on each side for long enough to get the char marks. At the last minutes, toast the rolls on the grill.

Assemble zucchini and cole slaw onto the rolls. If your rolls are large, you may want to place two pieces of zucchini on each. Enjoy!

Balancing tip-If you feel like I have gone too far over the healthy line with this recipe, it’s ok. Maybe you can pull one thing out of this and add it to your usual BBQ. Maybe you NEED mayo in your cole slaw or maybe you can’t live without white flour hot dog rolls. Wherever you need to draw the line today is fine. This is not the recipe I would have made 5 years ago. And there is no way my family would have eaten this last year. Think of the recipe suggestions that I post as a buffet (everyone loves a buffet). You can take what you like and leave the rest.

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