Posts In: self care

Holiday Sanity?

December 9, 2018
holiday-wreath


How’s your holiday season ramping up? A few years ago I ran into a yoga teacher I know and we talked about the stress of the holidays. I mentioned that next year I would be doing things differently by choosing fewer things to participate in. Her response? “But by next year you’ll forget.” 

Was she right? I made a pact with myself right then not to forget. I’ve always felt like at the time of year when we naturally want to hibernate, when the days are darker, when our natural rhythm invites us to be more internal, we plan even more gatherings. I decided to be really selective and choose only a couple events each December. 

This year I’m going to Regina, a local sound healer’s event on December 21. Then on Christmas morning my partner and I are volunteering at an event that brings breakfast and some essential items like socks, garbage bags, and flashlights to the local homeless population. That’s it. 

Want to know the other thing that created ease in my holidays? A few years back my sister lived in London and even though I sent my packages weeks ahead she didn’t receive them until after the holidays. In fact, she didn’t receive any of the gifts from my family in time. I felt terrible. The next year I mailed my gifts a month ahead. If I was going to get hers in the mail I might as well send the rest of my families gifts at the same time. 

That was the most restful December I’d had in years. It worked so well that, even though my sis now lives in Washington D.C. area, I’ve continued the tradition. My gifts were in the mail by November 26 this year. I’m not telling you this to pat myself on the back. I find plenty of ways to stress myself out. But I’ve gotten good at keeping the holidays restful and special. 

My challenge to you? Take one minute right now and list the one thing that’s most important to include in your holiday season.  Then take another minute to make a note of some obligation you can let go of. I bet there’s at least one. You really don’t have to attend that staff party you hate or make cookies for the exchange or do the secret Santa thing. Unless you really want to. Be mindful about what would feel good to you. 

By the way, I have two remaining spots in my February Purposeful Yoga Retreat in Mexico. It would make a great holiday gift, don’t you think? You can get the details here. 

27 Vegetables

January 7, 2018
veggie salad

In November when I listened to a message from my Mom asking me to call as soon as possible I figured my 89-year-old father was back in the hospital. I was shocked when she told me that my healthy 62-year-old brother fell, was slurring his words, and had been admitted to the hospital. A few days later my recently retired, laid back, lean and fit brother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. My family reeled.

I’m a helper. Wellness has been a big part of my life personally and professionally for years. I went to work figuring out how I could help. My offers to fly back to the Midwest were turned down. Pat, a nurse and my sister-in-law’s, sister drove over for moral support during the surgery. Not much else was needed while my brother spent a month in the hospital and rehab recovering and regaining strength, mobility, and speech. I went to work researching. One of the great resources I found was the book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber.

The author was a 30-something doc when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Servan’s oncologist offered no info when asked about supportive dietary changes Dr. Servan could make. So he got to work researching the topic as if his life depended on it because, in fact, it did. His book is the result of that research as well as his experience plus that of his clients.

27 Vegetables

One of the bits of research he mentions is that women with the gene marker for breast cancer lived longer if they consumed at least 27 different fruits and vegetables per week. I love fruits and veggies and eat a variety every week. But I doubted that I made it to the magic 27. I decided to set myself a challenge to get to that level.

I started to keep a list in my note app on my phone. The first week my count was 28! I happy to say it wasn’t hard at all. But I wouldn’t have eaten that much variety if I weren’t focusing on it.

Here’s my list from week one.

  1. Arugula
  2. Onion
  3. Garlic
  4. Ginger
  5. Romaine
  6. Spinach
  7. Chard
  8. Mushrooms (not technically a fruit or vegetable, but I’m counting it. Hey, it’s my list.)
  9. Carrots
  10. Brussels sprouts
  11. Avocado
  12. Apple
  13. Boysenberry
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet potato
  16. Celery
  17. Peppers
  18. Beets
  19. Blueberries
  20. Peaches
  21. Cabbage
  22. Persimmon
  23. Kale
  24. Artichoke hearts
  25. Dates
  26. Rutabaga
  27. Parsnip
  28. Lime

Will I maintain that? I don’t know. I want this variety in my diet to become a habit. I do eat an assortment of fruit and vegetables already, but I also have my regular “dining companions.” I don’t want to count what I’m eating every week because I know that wouldn’t be sustainable for me. But keeping the concept in mind, I believe, will help. And maybe I’ll periodically try counting.

Here are a few of my strategies for getting an array of produce into my diet.

  1. When at the grocery store I fill up my cart with produce first. It leaves less room for other stuff.
  2. I keep my usual, easy-to-prepare standards on hand at all times. Apples and berries for my smoothies, lettuce for salads and smoothies, always carrots. Plus I like to keep a few jarred veggies and frozen fruits on hand so even when I return from a trip too late to stop at the grocery store I have something to eat. My staples are fermented veggies (carrots, beets, and ginger are one of my favorites,) sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts in the veggie department and frozen berries for my fruit needs.
  3. Peruse the seasonal specials. I’ll go for a pomegranate, lemon cucumbers, or a persimmon when they’re in season.
  4. I choose dishes that easily let me include multiple veggies and fruits. My morning green smoothie usually includes 1-3 types of fruit. Maybe an apple or a cup of mixed berries. Then I add mixed greens. I love knowing that it’s early in the day and I’ve already ingested at least 3 different plants. Salads, soups, casseroles are other good options for mixing it up.
  5. Kathy Abascal, author of The Abascal Way, a book about how to quiet inflammation, suggests that at least 50% of breakfast and 2/3 of every other meal and snack should come from fruit and vegetables. I’ve found that a helpful guideline to follow.
  6. Grow your own. My friend Allison grows much of her own produce. The images she posts on Facebook of veggie friendly meals make my mouth water. Because I live in the woods AND have goats growing my own produce has been a challenge here. But I’m a regular at the farmer’s market and I keep thinking I’ll sign up for one of the many CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) in my area. In other words, there are lots of options
  7. Gather your veggies. I’ve been a forager since high school. In advanced biology my final project was camping for a weekend and only eating food I gathered from the woods. Yesterday I gathered some dock leaves and nibbled on violet blossoms, chickweed, and blackberry shoots all while doing yard work. DON’T do this unless you know what you’re doing. Learn a few plants and make sure you’re gathering from a place that doesn’t spray. Don’t over harvest and make sure you have permission. Those “weeds” will add variety and freshness to your diet.

Do you want to take the 27 fruit/veg challenge? Share your tips and struggles here.

 

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Aging: The Inside Story

August 3, 2016
beautiful-older-woman

I saw an ad today for a “beauty” system that looked like a torture device. Picture a tiny paint roller with fine needles projecting from the surface. When you roll the device over your face the needles penetrate your skin. The fine print says “No known negative side effects.” I guess pain isn’t considered a side effect. Granted I haven’t tried it, but it sure looks like it would be painful.

I went onto YouTube to listen to reviews expecting to see people screaming in agony as they “beautified” themselves. The first reviewer I watched mentioned she had put a numbing cream on her face for 25 minutes before use. She said not to be afraid of the device. I’m afraid of anything that requires me to use numbing cream.

The theory behind the roller is that it “might” stimulate the production of collagen, reduce wrinkles, cellulite, etc. The holes it puts in your face also help you absorb serums and creams better.

Looking for Youth in all the Wrong Places

What strikes me about this (and many other beauty treatments that are uncomfortable, expensive, and potentially dangerous) is the amount of focus on trying to look younger on the outside. I’ve known people that forgot about their “inside” life because they were so focused on the external.

I’m all for looking vital and healthy. I would love to have the same skin I had when I was 30. But I’m not 30. I’m 59 and happily counting. (There are more senior discounts in my future.) While I want to look vital and healthy and make choices that help me with that, I’m much more interested in FEELING vital and healthy.

Everyone makes his or her own choices about how much time and energy (and what type of time and energy) they want to put into looking “good.” And we also get to make up our minds about what we think looks good. We don’t all love purple hair, tartan plaid, or pearls. Thank goodness for that because it makes people watching much more interesting.

But there’s something disturbing to me about the hunt for pseudo youth. Dying your hair back to its original shade does not, after all, make you that age again. I believe it’s possible to do things like laser treatments, Botox, hair dye, even torture devices for your face because you love yourself and love looking your best. If getting your butt Botoxed makes you feel great then Botox away. But I think it’s equally possible (maybe more likely?) that many women are rolling torture devices over their faces because they don’t like who they see in the mirror. They don’t like the changes that aging can bring.

Embracing Change

You are changing. We all change. We don’t expect the tree we plant as a sapling to look the same in five years. We don’t expect our toddlers to stay the same or the oak tree to keep its leaves all year. Change is part of the beauty of life.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love all the changes I see in my body. I don’t obsess about aging and I’m grateful that I’ve very healthy—no medications, no arthritis, no high blood pressure. I don’t mind that my hair is gray because it’s thick and healthy. BUT I would love to have fewer lines and tauter skin on my face. I WANT to love all the changes including those lines. I’m working on that. My goals are to 1) accept the changes 2) love myself and 3) look and FEEL as vital and healthy as possible.

I do, however, love some of the changes that have come with age and maturing. I love that I’m more direct than when I was 25. I love that I don’t fall into victim mode anymore. I love that I don’t drink alcohol. It saves money and calories and I feel better. I love the community of friends I’ve gathered over the years. I love that I’m strong.

Being Edith-like

Cousin-EdithI’ve had the good fortune to have some outstanding role models for vital aging in my life. My
grandfather’s cousin Edith stands out. Edith lived to 108 years young. She lived independently until the last few months of her life. The year she turned 100 she was invited to be the Grand Marshall in her community’s annual Arkalalah celebration (yes, that’s really the name.) She walked to the DMV to renew her driver’s license so she could drive her 1950 Chevy, the only car she ever owned, in the parade. Not only did she get her driver’s license for the event, but also she bought a stylish modern dress that I would have been happy to wear at the time and I was in my early 30’s.

But Edith didn’t look 30. While her erect posture and lively movements belied her 100 years, she looked like an older woman. That didn’t seem to bother her. She was able to garden, take daily walks, play bridge, live on her own, and participate in a book group. She stayed active mentally and physically throughout her life. I never heard her complain about saggy skin, gray hair, or achy joints. She was far too busy for that. Maybe far too happy would be a better description. She once said she realized she could choose to be miserable or happy. She chose happy.

The theme of my coaching and retreat work is living a life of purpose well. Spending time trying to rewind time or focusing on what you don’t like about yourself takes time away from living that well life of purpose. I want to invite you to a life as rich, full, and happy as cousin Edith’s for as long as you live.

Your Vital Aging Challenge

1.    What do you value about your aging or maturing process?

2.    What about your maturing process do you want to learn to embrace or accept?

Here’s what I would love: Share your answer to #1 here. I think if we all start celebrating the wisdom of maturing instead of fighting against aging we’ll have more energy for what matters to us. The world will be a better place. And if you share here we can all celebrate each other’s awesomeness. Ready to join me?

Down with Self-loathing!

August 6, 2015

I grew up chubby and have often seen “fat” when I looked in the mirror, even when the scales said differently. Only in recent years have I begun to accept, even like my body.

No wonder I love the trend toward accepting one’s body— curvy hips, belly rolls, the slope of one’s nose, cellulite, freckles… I applaud the women who say,“I’m not covering up these jiggly thighs for your pleasure. I will wear skintight yoga pants if I choose. I will shake these hips and let my flesh spill out in celebration.”

Self love=Self care

Self-love is healthier than the self-loathing that has been the norm. For years I’ve listened to females from pre-pubescent to elderly “dis” their bodies. Too short, too skinny, ugly knees, and the most prevalent, “too fat.” Along with scores of “sisters” I’ve looked in the mirror and asked the proverbial question, “Does this make me look fat?”

All that self-loathing takes a toll. It takes time and energy, which could be spent doing something you love—painting, hiking, snuggling, reading, growing a business… But instead that time is spent putting yourself down or worrying about how your butt looks.

Plus there’s the emotional and energetic toll. Your body, mind, and spirit register that mean spirited talk. And that registering, even for a comment that might seem small and insignificant, takes a toll. It’s a punch in the gut. A kick to the heart.

It’s self-abuse. So you can see why I’m heartened to hear and see the trend in the opposite direction.

I believe in self-love.

For years we’ve been “fed” images by the media of thin, too thin, and photoshopped lovelies. Many of us received the message loud and clear that we too should look just like the women in the ads. And we don’t.

As the pendulum swings to the other side we’re getting messages that it’s acceptable, maybe even preferable to be as Meghan Trainor says in her popular song, “all about that bass.” If you’ve worked long and hard to get your body to look like Kate Moss, only to feel like a failure, you’re probably ready to embrace the current trend to love every bit of you. Love away.

BUT…

Here’s my concern.

I think for some self-acceptance has come to mean “I can eat a bag of Doritos because I love myself and I’m not punishing myself any longer. Rather than watching what I eat I’m learning to love all of me.”

True that punishing yourself is not self-love. Lose the punishment. Yes to loving all of you. But feeding your body foods that cause you to be obese, to be unwell, to not feel good, or have energy is NOT self-love. No matter what you look like.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the well-documented risks of making poor diet choices and being overweight. Stroke, heart attack, cancer, osteoarthritis, mobility issues, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, reproductive concerns, gallbladder problems, back pain… Self-love does not include behaviors that put you at risk for these kinds of issues.

Pendulum dilemma

In my perfect world:

  • We all learn to accept, even cherish our precious bodies. They are a miracle. (Isn’t it amazing that your body can take a peach or a Big Mac and turn them into energy?)
  • We all make choices that support, honor, and grow the miracles that we walk around in. I’m talking about that body of yours. You know, the one that feels love, can drive a stick shift, and fills out government forms. Okay, so maybe you never learned to drive a stick shift. Still you’re amazing and deserve to be treated that way.

So maybe you’ve ridden the pendulum to one side: “I need to wear a size 2 or my life is over” or the other “My curves are beautiful so I don’t need to worry about what I eat ever again.” Seek your perfect balance point. That point will let you, on most days, love the body you have. And because you love that body you treat it accordingly, discovering what it loves, what nurtures it, what heals it.

I hear some of you saying, “But my body loves sour cream and onion potato chips.” You might love the taste of those chips. (I do too.) But I’m asking you to go deeper. How do you feel when you eat them? How do you sleep? How easy is it to move? How much energy do you have for the things that you really want to do?

I find that I don’t feel or look as amazing if I eat lots of chips and sugar. I think more clearly without them in my world. I sleep better. I stay healthier. And all of those things help me live the life of my dreams.

My goal is to make a self-loving choice with food more often than not. (If you see me in line at my favorite health food store with a pint of Luna & Larry’s Mint Galactica Coconut Bliss and a spoon you might not want to take that moment to suggest that I make a more loving choice.) But stalk me at my favorite health food store and you’ll find my cart is usually filled with healthy, non-sugar, non-chip foods.

But not always. I’m not saying be perfect. I’m saying be loving. To your cells. To your heart. To your head.

The pendulum swings. Riding it to the middle can be challenging. Having the support of a coach can make a world of difference. Coaching can help you find a place where you feel like you’re making choices rather than being driven by your cravings, your habits, or your emotions. You can find a place where you accept yourself AND learn to make healthy choices your way.

What do you think? Are you on one side of the pendulum? What are your ideas about finding and managing your balance point? I’d love it if you’d share them here. Might help me or someone else on one of those less than balanced days.

 

Five Common Self-care Traps

January 27, 2015

You’ve made efforts, maybe even heroic efforts toward improving your self-care. Maybe you set a New Year’s resolution or intention. But you’re just not feeling that successful. Doesn’t seem fair.

Real self-care can be slippery. You may have fallen into one of these common self-care traps. (Don’t worry. It’s not like the commercial. Even if you’ve fallen you’ll be able to get up.)

 

  1. Random Acts of Self-care

 

A mani-pedi. A day at the spa. A luxurious morning in bed with your favorite book and beverage. A quiet walk in the woods. A week of vacation.

If these activities feed your soul, then bring them on baby.

The problem comes with confusing random acts of self-care with the ongoing self-care practice you MUST have in order to sustain yourself.

Random acts of self-care are fun. They feel good and fill you up. But they won’t sustain you for the long haul. Short-term solutions get you short-term results.

Don’t get me wrong. All of these things can be part of your self-care plan. Don’t throw them out if you love them. Just know they don’t automatically equal a self-care practice.

  1. Template approach

You see something that works. Your bestie drops 15 pounds from her recent diet. You hear about a celebrity that lost her baby weight while doing zumba six days a week. Your boss, who looks 20 years younger than her age and manages to stay oh, so Zen-like all the time, talks about the wonders of her morning kale smoothie.

So you try the diet, shake your booty at a zumba class, and drink your weight in green smoothies. Problem is the diet leaves you feeling deprived, you don’t like dancing, and you despise kale.

Putting on someone else’s self-care, be it a diet plan, a fitness regime, or a week at a spa might work for awhile.

But only for a while. You’ll find yourself dumping the regime and often feeling like a failure. It worked for them. Why not you?

Because, beautiful, you’re not THEM.

  1. Discipline, deprivation, and hard work

You “know” you need to knuckle down, to “get with the program.” Your brain figures out the “solution” to your overwhelm, clutter, anxiety, or food cravings. The problem is you forget to check in with the rest of you.

You might need some discipline in your self-care program. It might even feel like work sometimes. But without some of the other key ingredients like pleasure and joy, your plan will collapse in on itself.

  1. Wake up call

Whether your wakeup call sounds like a tiny child knocking at your door or a bulldozer running into your home, something gets your attention. A series of colds, a call from the doctor suggesting you come in for more tests, a bounced check, a foreclosure, a diagnosis of a scary disease, a divorce, ten pounds that you don’t recognize…

You pay attention. You attack the problem. Make big changes. Get great results. But too often once the high blood sugar stabilizes, the new relationship appears, or those mystery pounds go away you fall right back to pre-wakeup call habits. And with those habits you get pre-wakeup call results.

A wake up call can be powerful. But if the wake up call is your only call to self-care, your solutions won’t last.

  1. That Still, Small Voice

You listen to your inner guidance. And because it sounds so wise you follow its directions.

Do you want to know a secret? That wise voice may come from your brain. To create a sustainable approach you must listen to more than your big, beautiful brain.

You have a wealth of wisdom. Everyone I work with is surprised by the wisdom they bring forth. And that wisdom helps create your plan.

And how about another secret? Your inner wisdom may give you conflicting advice. Part of you needs to rest. Another part needs to run. Which part do you listen to? In order to arrive at a solution that feels good and is sustainable you must listen to the whole of you. Your head may say you should go out for a run today. But your body feels fatigued because you are fighting off a cold. The best solution for you, the one that will give you the most vitality and balance, isn’t necessarily the first one that comes to mind.

  1. Rinse and Repeat

It’s not that you’ve never tended to your loveliness. It’s not that you’ve never eaten a healthy meal or moved your body in ways that delighted you.

You’ve probably even had moments of flow with your self-care. Moments where everything was bright and beautiful. You knew what to do.

So you do the same thing that worked before only now it’s not working.

You are not the same. Different you, different plan needed.

Be not discouraged!

You just haven’t learned the hows of crafting YOUR sustainable self-care plan. I’m not saying you can create THE PLAN for your self-care for the rest of your life. Who you are today is different than who you’ll be tomorrow or in six months or 30 years. And because of that your self-care plan will shift and grow. (In fact, trying to stay the course with your self-care is a common self-care trap.)

Why Are You Making a Big Deal Out of This?

Self-care is at the heart of a life well lived. Purpose offers you reason for being. If you want to live a well life, a life with meaning written all over its face then you will need to tend to you, the purveyor of that big life purpose.

And by the way, living a life of purpose IS self-care.

A sustainable life of purpose requires focus, energy, enthusiasm, and wellness to pull off. You get that from self-care that’s a regular and integrated part of you life. You need an approach that you can endure. Not one that keeps falling down and skinning its knees. Not one that you bury in the backyard because it quits breathing.

If you’re ready to have the vitality and wellness you need to live your BIG dream then sign up for a no-obligation, no-cost chat. I’d love to help you find your way.


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