In Honor of Black History Month: How Michelle Obama’s Book Becoming is an Inspiration to Us All
I just finished Michelle Obama’s amazing memoir Becoming and I felt inspired to share a few reflections with you.
Let me be clear, even before reading her book, my love for Michelle Obama ran deep. Never before have I been so happy to share my name with someone. Her commitment to her family, her country, her career, her husband and partner are all inspiring. I am also inspired by her voice and commitment to important causes like children’s health, girls’ education worldwide, and to our veterans returning from war. She used her position of power as First Lady to not only focus on these amazing causes, but she also did an incredible job of protecting her daughters so that they could grow up as “normal” as possible while living in the White House.
Besides learning more about how Michelle grew up on the South Side of Chicago, I also loved learning very human things about Barack Obama, like how he would leave his clothes lying around every where! I also smiled reading how cool and calm he is by temperament and how Michelle would be much more likely to get worked up about something (sounds a lot like me and my husband Gary!).
Lastly, what I loved as a through-line from the title to every section of the book was this idea of BECOMING.
She writes in the Epilogue:
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. . . It’s all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.” (419)
You see, that is why I also love the work that I do. My clients may come in because they want to lose weight or change their eating habits or improve their digestive system or let go of their cravings to sugar . . . . but really what they want is to see is CHANGE. They think, “This is not working. Something needs to change and I might need some help in making those changes.” And I get the honor and privilege of being on that path or journey with them for a little while, to guide, support, encourage, and cheer along the way.
I think just like Michelle Obama, we are
doing our best to continue to grow into new ways of being. And health and
wellness for many is a part of that path.
Maybe this has you thinking? Was is it that I am becoming next? What part of my path is unfolding next? What small steps am I taking forward today? This may be in terms of your health, your family and relationships, your career, your community, your spiritual life.
For me, a new path I am exploring is reaching out to progressive leaders in my community so that I can empower them in actively achieving health, well being, and balance. If they feel strong, healthy, clear, and powerful by taking charge of their health and well-being, then they can better go out into the world and be the amazing agents of positive change we all so need them to be!
If you’d like to read more about this new direction or how you might be able to help me find these amazing leaders, please check out my blog post: I Am an Agent of Positive Change.
I will leave you with Michelle’s final words
in the book:
“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”
I am committed to empowering progressive leaders in actively achieving health, well being, and balance so that they can lead others in making positive changes.
My vision includes:
1. Working with progressive leaders one-on-one on their health goals.
2. Starting small online groups at a price point that the average employee in a progressive company or organization can invest in to invest in their health.
3. Workshops and seminars in organizations and companies on wellness and health and self-care.
4. Continuing with a lot of great free content available to a wide audience.
I am so fired up about this!
It feels so good to finally be sharing this with you all!
So if you or someone you know is a progressive leader in a company, non-profit, educational setting, think tank, start-up, or any other progressive organization and would be open to either having a quick phone conversation with me or answering a few questions via an anonymous questionnaire, please let me know. Or if you know about cool organizations—local, national or international—that are doing amazing things and you want me to know about them, please share! You don’t need to know anyone there—with the help of my awesome intern, I’m amassing a database of organizations and causes.
I feel so passionate about
this new direction with my practice. Thank you for any of your support!
Causes I feel committed to
include but are not limited to (and in no particular order):
Women’s Rights (including reproductive rights, domestic violence, intersectional feminism)
Racial and Social Justice
LGBTQ+ rights and representation
Food (organic farming, food justice, food safety)
Housing and homelessness
Inmate and ex-inmate support services
Progressive political organizations
Arts (dance, music, visual, drama)
A little back story . . .
It’s the two year anniversary of the Woman’s March on Washington. For those of you who don’t know, I went to Washington, D.C. in January 2017 to show up for what I stand for, to make my body seen and my voice heard. I showed up because I have the privilege to be able to do so—a flexible work schedule, no kids or ailing parents to care for, and the financial ability, although not easy, to do so. I had to go.
after the election I woke up with such heavy grief, and the depression stayed
with me for days. I am not one prone to depression so this inability to work,
to get dressed, to shower, to eat, to move was new to me. I functioned but it
was like moving through a molasses of grief, bewilderment and fear.
And I could see
it in my clients as well. In the weeks leading up to the election, the amount
of stress-eating, over-drinking, and fear was often spoken about by my clients.
I was trying to support them, helping them focus on self-care in the midst of
it all, but I understood their challenges.
A few days after the election, I started to pull myself out and being the person that I am—full of fire, determination, and optimism—I started to take positive action.
I started small, creating a free online self-care Facebook group called “Self-Care is a Radical Act of Love” and instead of accepting payment, I asked participants, if they could afford it, to donate to their favorite charity. Part of my mission with the group was “we need to take care of ourselves so that we are able to take care of others and be positive agents of change.” I knew if I was struggling, others would be too and might benefit from the support.
(By the way, I’ve reopened the group so that it is live and going again! It’s free and you can join HERE!)
Right now I’m going to pause and answer the
question that might be in some of your minds . . . Why am I talking about politics on my health coaching business website?
The truth for me is that this election and the
shifts that have occurred the past two years go way beyond politics. This is
not about red/blue or which side of the aisle one supports. This is about important
values that I hold dear and that I am willing to stand up FOR. The election of
2017 made one thing very clear to me. I am an agent of positive change.
Now what was I going to do about it?
So flash forward to the
present, January 2019. This is what I’m excited to share with you and where I
need your help . . . See above!!!
October is a poignant month for me. You see, my mom passed away on October 15, 1995 from complications from metastatic breast cancer. I was 21 years old. She was only 48.
Way too young. Both of us. Me, too young to lose my mother. My mother, way too young to die.
And ironically October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, I like to call it BREAST HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH instead.
This is more than an abstract pink-ribbon month for me. It’s personal. For me, I’d rather focus on having a healthy and balanced body.
At the age of 21 I made a choice. I was not going to go down the road of my mother’s body. I was going to do what I could, on a daily basis, to take good care of myself. I realized I had two choices: I could choose FEAR or I could choose LOVE. I chose LOVE. Love for myself, my body, my breasts, my health, my future.
And so, decades before I would eventually become a holistic health coach and nutrition consultant, I started to pay attention to my health in a way most 21-year-olds don’t. For years I’ve been clearing out potential carcinogens like harmful beauty products and cleaning supplies, unnecessary plastics, toxic food, and even harmful stress and mindsets (and people). I wasn’t anywhere near perfect (and I’m still not) but I have been making a conscious effort to be mindful of what goes on my body, in body, near my body.
Let me take a moment to tell you a little about my mom because I don’t want her to be defined by how she died. My mom was a strong woman and taught my sister and me to be strong women, too. She put herself through college at UC Santa Barbara and taught high school her entire adult life (first home economics and then history when they began to phase out home ec classes). She loved to shop and had a great eye for color. She was a fantastic gift giver and would shower us with presents at Christmas, often with gifts she had been collecting for us all year. She was actually very “crafty” and made all sorts of decorations (many of which we still have). She loved going to Hawaii, visiting historical sites, and planning amazing trips for our family. She could be incredibly “thrifty” but also was incredibly generous. We didn’t always agree (what mother and daughter do?) but I never doubted that she loved us deeply. Or that she continues to watch over us.
This is a picture of my family at my sister’s graduation from high school, just four months before we’d lose our mother. (My sister asked me to crop it! LOL!)
Each year I choose a different way to honor and celebrate my mother and this year it is the form of hosting a pop up event focusing on breast health and safer, cleaner beauty. Please join me. Here are all the details:
Thursday, November 1: 7:00 p.m. in Oakland, CA (exact location TBA)
At this small, intimate event we will address:
How our personal care products are affecting our health and may contribute to cancer risk, autoimmune issues, hormonal imbalance, allergies, and many other health concerns.
How to make cleaner, safer choices in terms of our beauty products, foods, and self-care practices.
How to read labels on your beauty products and what to look for. (Bring one or two of your favorites and we can take a look together!)
We’ll also have to sample a line of non-toxic makeup and skincare from Beautycounter! It’ll be fun to play with some of our favorite products and hear what this B Corporation is doing to move the market to safety!
***This is a FREE event but please RSVP HERE so that we can plan the space accordingly!**
Can’t make the event but want to make difference . . . please consider making a donation to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). BCPP works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. They are a founding member and national coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition working to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.
It’s Spring! And it’s the five year anniversary of launching my practice!
Five years ago in March 2013, I officially launched my practice as a holistic health coach and certified nutrition consultant and my life has never been the same. I have learned so much and it is with great gratitude that I thank all of you for being part of this journey. Whether we’ve worked together one-one-one or you’ve done a sugar challenge with me or if you did a Discovery Session or joined my newsletter, I’m here to say thank to each and every one of you for connecting with me around health, vitality, and wellness.
As some of you know, I entered this field after my own health struggle (you can read more about it here) and as weird as it sounds, I am truly grateful for the challenge because it led me to this path. You know when you make a decision and everything suddenly seems to line up perfectly? Well, that’s how it was for me once the world of holistic nutrition opened up for me (and I had healed the imbalances in my body). And here I am more than 6 1/2 years after making that decision with so many wonderful lessons learned. And that is what I’d like to share with you!
Lessons I am learning . . .
Be open: A cliché as it sounds, life is always in flux and we have to be open to changing in order to live the life presented to us at this moment. For me and many of my clients, it means being open to a new way of eating or a new relationship with food. For others, it may be about being open to trying supplements or a new workout routine. I find that openness is a powerful key to shift out of place of feeling “stuck” or “hopeless.”
Be a life-long learner: About six years ago I decided to go back to graduate school (again! I already have an MA in literature) to get a Master of Science degree in Health and Nutrition Education and I loved every moment of it! As much as I learned with my training, I’ve continued to dig deeper in my knowledge and expertise through my work with my clients, ongoing research, conferences, trainings and seminars. I love geeking out about nutrition and health! And I know the body is a wondrous and complicated set of systems and there is always something new to learn that will be of benefit to my clients.
Be in partnership and create community: I often tell clients that we are in a partnership together focusing on their health and well-being. I also appreciate the amazing partnerships I’ve made with other health practitioners, my community, and with my amazing joint ventures like the online program Feng Shui Your Mind-Body-Spirit with my dear friend and colleague Jill Lebeau. We are social creatures and I think we thrive when we are in connection with others.
Trust and have faith (even when it’s scary): I know what it feels like to feel sick and tired and scared and alone. I’ve been there. I also know how important it is to have trust and faith, whether that’s in the process, the protocol, or your own body’s ability to heal. I also know how much trust my clients put in our work together and it’s something I treat very carefully.
Learn how to receive: This has been a big life lesson for me. Many of us, especially those of us socialized as women, are great at giving but receiving can be more challenging. Receiving can be about receiving guidance or receiving help and support or even receiving love from our partners, friends and family.
Trust in your body’s wisdom and innate desire to be in balance: This might be one of the single most powerful beliefs that grounds and rules my days. I believe the body wants to be in balance so that when something is “off” (like our digestion, hormones, blood sugar, weight, cravings, sleep, etc.) then that is our bodies’ way of saying, “Hey! Pay attention!” I believe that with shifts in our nutrition, addressing underlying causes of imbalance, and making lifestyle changes, we can support optimal health in our bodies.
We need each other and it’s okay to ask for help (or accountability or suggestions or insight): Often I hear, “I know what to do; I just need support/guidance/accountability to make it happen consistently and long-term.” And I believe them! I agree, you know your body best. Most of us know what supports our bodies’ health, but we may need to connect with a group or with other people to make it happen. I know when I tell someone else I am going to do something that I am much more likely to actually follow through with it. We are social creatures and I think it’s powerful when we reach out to one another.
Take care of yourself. Always: Want to do great things in the world? Want to show up as your best self for your family, your work, your art, your community, the world? Then you have to take care of yourself. You can’t give from an empty cup. And you need to fill yourself up daily, not once a year on vacation. What are the small things you can do every day to take care of yourself? They need not take a lot of time or money, and a small act of self-care can be powerful. Pobody’s nerfect, but I do try to walk the walk and no longer push myself beyond the point of self-care.
Follow your passion: I know it is a privilege to do work that nourishes me on so many levels and I do not take that for granted for one second. Both of my grandmothers were single moms (one was a widow and one escaped an abusive marriage) and I know they didn’t have the luxury of their work always being their passion. But they still had passion and followed through with that in the way that they could. My grandmother Olga traveled the entire world on a budget once she retired. She went to all seven continents! One of her passions was travel and she made it happen. My passion is to be an educator and an agent of positive change, and I’m thrilled that I get the opportunity to do this as my life’s work. I also have found that passion, creativity, meaningful livelihood are all crucial to our health and well-being.
These first five years have been incredible and I am excited to see what unfolds for the next five years! Thank you all again for making it possible.
I’m thrilled to be putting together an exclusive new online group called Nourish Yourself. There is currently a group running, but the next one will start August 2017. I am excited about creating a really dynamic, positive, focused group of women who will support each other in self-care practices, truly nourishing ourselves, and cultivating our mind-body-spirit connection so that we can show up powerfully in the world.
I’m calling the group Nourish Yourselfbecause I think these times are calling for us to nourish ourselves in so many ways—food, movement, sleep, creativity, joy, and self-love. I also think we are more powerful together, which is why I want to create a group experience.
Having facilitated and participated in many groups over the years, I know how fantastic a well-guided group can be when we compassionately hold each other accountable, draw on our collective wisdom, celebrate the positive steps forward, and raise each other up.
What you will get out of the group:
★ Discover a personal solution that works for you because one size does not fit all!
★ Develop a platform for personal growth and transformation that addresses your thoughts, feelings, habits, and patterns to create new ones that help you achieve your goals around health and nutrition.
★ Practice ways to let go of guilt and fear around eating and instead really enjoy and celebrate food.
★ Learn to feel more confident in your ability to create nourishing meals or meal plans that support your body, mind and spirit.
★ Focus on gratitude for our body, enthusiasm for making small changes that lead to big results, and creating awareness about what we really need and want.
★ Explore various ways to nourish yourself and bring more joy to every day.
Email me at [email protected] if you are interested in adding yourself to the waiting list for the next group!