In the midst of so much uncertainty and daily changes to our reality, I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to share with you that might be helpful. I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt almost bombarded the last few weeks with so much information, ideas, tips, resources, and suggestions. Some I have felt truly helpful and grounding. I wanted to share a few of my personal commitments and take-aways that I am doing my best each day to truly PRACTICE . . . with grace, kindness, and compassion. Perhaps you might find them helpful, too.
The Simple Practices (or scroll below for more details):
Eat to NOURISH your body
Honor your need for sleep and rest
Move your body every day
Be in nature
Express gratitude and appreciation
Affirm the importance of creativity, play, humor, and love
Welcome opportunities for empathy, compassion, kindness, radical acceptance, and receiving/giving support
Create healthy boundaries through discernment
The Practices in More Detail:
Eat to NOURISH your body: Foods that support your immune system include colorful, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein, and healthy fats. Adding spices and fresh herbs can also be beneficial (think onion, garlic, fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley, and spices like turmeric). Fermented foods like raw apple cider vinegar, raw fermented vegetables, and kimchi may also be beneficial–a happy belly supports a strong immune system. Be mindful of sugar and processed foods as these can deplete your immune strength. If you are feeling “phlegmy” I also suggest taking dairy out for a while since it is quite mucous-producing. Most importantly, if you do find yourself stress-eating, be kind to yourself and reach out for support.
Stay hydrated: This one may seem obvious but I added it to my personal list when I noticed early last week that I was not drinking enough water. I think I got thrown off my routine. So now I’m making a conscious effort to drink plenty of water and herbal tea throughout the day. A cup of nourishing broth works too! I try to use a colorful cup for my water so that it catches my eye and I’m reminded to drink. Adding a little lemon or lime to water can also make it more enticing to drink (plus a little vitamin C!). Herbal teas like ginger, licorice, and mint would be beneficial too.
Honor your need for sleep and rest: You might be finding that as we adjust to our new routines and ways of working that you have more energy fluctuations. Be gentle with yourself in this time and rest when you need to rest. It’s okay to need a break. I also encourage you to keep to your regular sleep times as sleep and rest are also an important part of supporting our immune system. If you can sleep in a little now that you don’t have to commute, do so! But still go to bed at your regular hour to keep consistency there.
Move your body every day: There are absolutely no shoulds on exactly how to move your body every day. Have a dance party, join a streaming fitness class, create your own home workout, walk your neighborhood, go up and down the stairs in your home, do some stretches. Just move!! Many of us are sitting way more than we usually would, so you might need to be more conscious about body your body daily. Beyond my daily walks and fitness routine, I have also found it helpful to take mini-breaks through the day to stretch, grab a cup of tea, sit in a different location or sit in a different way (like on the floor instead of at my desk).
Practice mindfulness: Again, there are a myriad of ways to do this including meditation, yoga, taking a hot bath, reading a comforting spiritual book, taking 5 deep breaths throughout the day, using essential oils for aromatherapy, coloring, knitting/crocheting, walking, gardening. New to meditation and want to give it a try, Deepka Chopra and Oprah are offering for free their 21-Day Meditation Series “Finding hope in uncertain times.”
Be in nature: If you feel comfortable doing so, get out into nature every day. Find nature in small places like your neighborhood (the flowers are glorious here in Oakland right now!), your backyard, your patio. Plant and grow something, if you can. Garden. Get your hands in dirt. Watch the sun rise or set. Look at the stars. Connecting with nature on a daily basis is one of the most important things we can do right now.
Express gratitude and appreciation: My husband and I have made it a daily practice to share each day: one “win” from the day, one challenge, one gratitude, and one appreciation to the other person. It’s become a lovely ritual, one I hope to continue. Gratitude is key right now. Even on the most challenging days, we can find something to be grateful for. Some days it might be something big like, “I’m so grateful for the health of my body” and other days it might be simple like, “I’m grateful for running hot and cold water.” Even in the midst of great unknowns, we can practice expressing our gratitude. Appreciation is slightly different in that it is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. If you’re co-housing and co-working suddenly with a lot of people, a little appreciation can go a long way: “I appreciate that you gave me space to do my video meeting today” or “I appreciate how you cleaned up our morning dishes today.” If you live alone this appreciation might extend to a friend, family member or neighbor: “I appreciate you checking in on me.”
Affirm the importance of creativity and humor and love: Even in the midst of great challenge and difficulty, there are opportunities for laughter, joy, and pleasure. Take these moments and cherish them. I truly believe this time is calling on us to get creative. This may look like actually creating some piece of art like music, painting, knitting, writing, cooking, etc. Or it can be about having a creative mindset and getting innovative with solutions. And humor is also so important right now. Not only does it feel good to laugh but it can also boost our immune system! Lastly, and most importantly, these times are calling on us to CHOOSE LOVE. This might be love for our families and loved ones but also radical self-love. Love is the antidote to fear.
Welcome opportunities for empathy, compassion, kindness, radical acceptance, and receiving/giving support: I know I’m not alone in appreciating the myriad of stories out there of someone expressing kindness to strangers in these difficult times. I believe that what we give our attention to expands, so I am choosing to focus on places where I can be compassionate to myself and others. We are all handling this major event in different ways and I know I handle it differently depending on the day, the hour, the minute. That is all ok. Radical acceptance is about fully being with what is happening right now. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you stop resisting or denying it or wishing for a different outcome. Letting go of expectations or the sense that we can control things can be challenging, but it is good work to practice right now. Lastly, if you are in a place to give support right now, please do so: donate to a favorite non-profit, buy gift certificates to your local businesses who are closed right now, call a friend or neighbor to check on them. And if you need support right now, practice receiving kindness and generosity.
Create healthy boundaries through discernment: Right now we are all being asked to create a physical boundary for the well-being of our society, but remember to also create healthy boundaries mentally, psychically, and spiritually. This might mean being careful about how much news you watch (or when you watch it), being mindful about time spent on social media, choosing thoughtfully what shows you are watching, or even being more conscious of your own thoughts and where you place your attention and intention. Discernment is about consciously deciding what you bring into your world . . . whether that’s food, people, information, or your own thoughts. I find this to be very empowering.
Like all of you, I’m taking my life day by day right now. What this time of sheltering at home amidst a global pandemic seems to be highlighting for me are my daily practices of self-care so that I can show up for the world feeling as healthy, strong, energetic, clear, and grounded as possible. I hope you have found some of these to be helpful, too.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below: What daily practices are working for you and your household?
This program is for YOU, the changemaker, the progressive leader, the one who needs to optimize your health and well-being so that you can show up as an agent of positive transformation for our world!
Be the amazing changemaker you were called to be without the burnout and fatigue!
We need to practice radical self-care NOW more than ever.
Next group starts May 2020
This four-month online coaching program is specifically designed to optimize your health and well-being—mind, body and spirit!
I know these are challenging times and I know we are all feeling overwhelmed some days with burnout looming . . . but here’s the deal, you can take small steps on a daily basis to better support your health and well-being so that you can show up for your mission, yourself, your team, your relationships, and our planet.
So how do you make this happen? With support and guidance and prioritizing your health and well-being, knowing that you can’t give from an empty cup.
The WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT program will address your health and well-being from the following angles:
* Establish more clarity and confidence around your FOOD/NUTRITION choices and routines so that you can feel more energized, balanced, and nourished all day long.
* Practice effective strategies to support better quality SLEEP/REST because sleep is essential to having more energy, less cravings, and more resilience in handling everyday challenges.
* Create the healthy SCHEDULE/HABITS/ROUTINES that allow you to move through your day with greater ease, energy, and focus.
* Prioritize more daily MOVEMENT into your routine so that you can be more present in your body, relieve stress, and feel stronger.
* Cultivate ways to have moments of meaningful CONNECTION TO SELF in the form self-care practices, self-love mindset, expressions of creativity, and opportunities for pleasure and joy.
* Focus on your MINDSET and creating more mindfulness, practice slowing down, and cultivating rest.
* Continue to build meaningful CONNECTION TO OTHERS (your larger community, your personal and professional relationships, your organization/business, your cause, our planet) from a place of authenticity, giving from the overflow, and healthy boundaries.
* Continue to develop and nurture your sense of PURPOSE/MISSION/LEADERSHIP because I know you came into this world at this time to make the largest positive impact!
Over the course of four months, you’ll receive:
Twice a month intimate video group coaching calls to build community, support, accountability, and clear guidance to meet your health and wellness goals. We do better when we’re connected together and can support each other!
Two engaging, inspiring, and video modules a month to support your ongoing well-being that you can listen to or watch any time (works great as a “mental health” break!). My signature WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT program focuses on all aspects of your life–nutrition, sleep, movement, connection, etc. to holistically support your wellness.
Private Facebook group page to easily stay in contact with each other in between calls to ask questions, receive ongoing support, share wins, and stay connected.
Accountability partners to help you stay on track with peers who can celebrate your wins and understand your challenges.
Theconvenience of anonline group. I know you have a full life and I want to make prioritizing your health as easy as possible!
And as a very special offer . . . TWO 1:1 30 minute sessions with me (in person in Oakland, CA or over the phone/Zoom) to personalize this Whole Life Nourishment experience for you!!
If you want to learn how to optimize your health and well-being so that you can continue to be an energized changemaker, then let’s set up a 15-Minute Clarity Callphone conversation to see if this program is the right fit for you!
Have questions? Set up a complimentary Clarity Call or email me directly at [email protected]
Next group starts May 2020!
“Michelle has a breadth of knowledge on holistic healing but what sets her apart is her care for her clients. She’s gotten me through a major health crisis and I wouldn’t be where I am today professionally or personally without her.” –AZ, activist and university professor
“Michelle is the most intuitive and attentive practitioner I’ve
ever worked with and has given me very usable and helpful advice. I’ve already
made great strides toward all of my health goals and look forward to continuing
to work with her in the future.” –AO, grant writer
“Michelle is knowledgeable, engaging, and on point. All of her recommendations are evidenced-based, simple to implement, and life-changing. She’s wonderful!” –JS, Executive director of a foundation committed to a thriving planet
* More energy, better quality sleep, and practical ways to nourish yourself with food (even when traveling)! *Greater ease in creating healthy habits that support your well-being on a daily basis. Small steps lead to great shifts! *Practical tips and suggestions that you can apply immediately. Let’s stop waiting for “when” or “if” and take action today! *Personalized guidance in how to make small changes that yield big results. Every body is different and I’m here to support you through a model that works for your unique body, lifestyle, and situation. *Opportunities to set practical goals/action steps that you can actually achieve to keep you on track with your health and well-being (so you can keep being an amazing changemaker!). *Ongoing accountability, encouragement, and connection so that you can really show up as your best–this is key! We can’t do it alone! *The support and wisdom of your fellow group members who know exactly what you’re going through!
Do you ever get messages from multiple sources and they are all telling you the same thing? Well, I have and the message is SLOW DOWN and be in the flow!
I love the holiday season . . . the lights, the songs, the gatherings with friends and family, the holiday cheer! It’s a truly beautiful and magical time of year.
However, it can also be very challenging for many people. We can often feel overwhelmed, rushed, tired, and stretched too thin.
This time of year, we are meant to slow down, go within more, start hibernating a bit. In Feng Shui, we will soon be moving into the Water element which is all about stillness, quiet, self-care, contemplation, and rejuvenation.
And yet society asks us to DO MORE this holiday season. More parties, more obligations, more presents, more cards, more eating, more drinking, more “things” on the to-do list. No wonder so many people get sick once the holidaysare over. Their bodies are exhausted by all the pushing and over-doing!
Instead, what if we focus more on doing less, taking items off our to-do list, creating more opportunities for self-care, being present with our loved ones, and maybe even saying NO to anything that does not truly lift our spirits.
I know I need my own reminders to slow down and so I got inspired to do my “Twelve Ways of SLOWING DOWN this Holiday Season.” I hope they inspire you!
May your holiday season be filled with love, laughter, and peace.
In health and gratitude, Michelle Dwyer
On the 1st day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . a minute break to do nothing!
I know slowing down can be challenging, especially during this time of year. So I thought we’d start small: let’s take a ONE-MINUTE vacation right now!
Today, for *just one minute* practice taking a break. You can look at something beautiful, close your eyes and just breathe, or do nothing.
On the 2nd day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . a moment to fill up your own cup first so that you can give from the overflow!
It may be helpful to take a moment to scan and see how full is your cup right now. If it’s feeling a little empty and depleted, see if there are some small ways to nourish yourself and fill it back up. Could be a chat with a friend, a walk around the block, a delicious and nourishing meal.
And remember, self-care is not selfish. If you are not taking care of yourself, then it is hard to show up in all the ways you want to as a person, whether that’s at work, with your family, or for your community.
On the 3rd day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . the encouragement to schedule ONE treat for yourself some time in the next few weeks.
Could be an acupuncture appointment, a massage, a pedicure, a hike with a friend, a restorative yoga class, or some time at a cafe to just read a book. You don’t have to necessarily schedule this for now (although you could!) but take a moment to get something on your calendar. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
On the 4th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . do some stretches or a little yoga!
Doing the “legs up the wall” pose or Viparita karani is one of my favorite suggestions for lowering our cortisol (stress hormone) levels and resetting any time of day! Take just 2 minutes to do this pose and I promise you’ll feel better. Child’s pose is another pose and relaxing to do. Not into yoga? How about a few stretches while on a quick break from work or while you’re waiting in line? Doing a few yoga poses or stretches are great for a little mid-day break, as a way to unwind when you get home from work (or holiday errands), or right before bed.
On the 5th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . the idea of giving presence instead of presents.
A recent study “suggests that small acts of kindness, not grand overtures, make people feel most loved and supported.”
Check out this great article to help bring some perspective this holiday season about gift-giving. It’s a great breakdown of how many people experience more stress during the holiday season and how the antidote is slowing down, connecting with people more, and taking good care of yourself.
What is your favorite way to connect with people during the holidays?
On the 6th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . a moment to contemplate the beauty of nature!
Connecting with nature is a beautiful way to slow down and be more present. And it can be free and easy! This can be as simple as noticing the sunrise or sunset, a bird in a tree, the way the light comes in your kitchen in the afternoon. I’ve personally been watching the hummingbirds outside my work desk window!
What sights of nature have you noticed lately and how did you feel?
On the 7th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . new and old traditions!
One of the things that can make the holidays so special are the traditions that are passed down. Whether it’s lighting the candles, singing songs, decorating the house, or making special foods, most of us can think fondly of new or old family traditions.
That said, certain traditions, when they start to feel like a “should” rather than a true heart’s desire can take some of the magic out of the tradition and make it feel more like a chore or creates stress instead of joy.
So I encourage you this holiday season to check in on your traditions . . . what makes you feel joyful? What’s fun and easy? What feels truly special? And what maybe just doesn’t anymore? Maybe it’s time to release a tradition that is no longer serving you or anyone else.
Or maybe it’s time to make a NEW tradition, one that creates more moments of calm and presence and joy and ease!
I would love to hear what traditions you cherish and maybe which ones you have let go of.
On the 8th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . the gift of reading a good book!
Reading a really great book is personally one of my favorite ways to slow down and get some time for myself.
Many of you may not know, but before becoming a holistic nutritionist I was an English teacher and have MA in literature. I love love love books!
I usually read fiction over non-fiction but I do love a well-written memoir or biography. Women’s lit, multicultural American lit, African-American lit, Sci-fi and dystopian lit, spiritual books, modern lit, chick lit—I love it all! I love when I can fall into a book, and I love when I am so into a book that I can’t wait to get back to it.
Do you love to read? Do you find it relaxing? What is one of your favorite books?
On the 9th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . a great online program about how to LIVE IN THE FLOW and create more happiness, wealth, health and love in your life!
On the 10th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . 50 ways to take a break!
Really. Go take a break. You’ll be glad you did! What’s your favorite way to take a break? I love these ideas because they can be really simple.
What’s your favorite way to take a quick break, even in the “busy” holiday season?
On the 11th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . a simple, nourishing meal.
I know with the rush of holidays and the onslaught of sugar everywhere, it can feel challenging to take the time to slow down and eat a nourishing meal. But trust me, your body will thank you for it!
One of my favorites is this Tuscan Bean Soup with Kale. I usually use poultry seasoning instead of the individual spices and it turns out great.
This recipe is vegan (minus the parmesan cheese) but you can also add grilled chicken or use bone broth if desired.
On the 12th day of SLOWING DOWN, my true love of self gave to me . . . wishes for a wonderful Winter Solstice!
Usually around December 21 is the first day of winter and from this point forward, each day we will have more light. Although many traditional celebrations this time of year focus on the importance of bringing the light into the darkness, I think it’s important to also honor what darkness brings as well: rest, rejuvenation, magic, mystery, and dreams.
And just like the new year celebrations, the Winter Solstice is also a time to focus on all the good things to come in the new year. I wish you and your loved ones all the love, joy, and peace of the holiday season!
Thank you for joining me for the Twelve Ways of Slowing Down and enjoying the holiday season! I hope you received a helpful reminder or inspiration along the way.
I love sharing information with people . . . I am a teacher by trade and by heart. So when I had a chance to go to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s first-ever Leadership Summit on Clean and Healthy Living, I jumped at the chance!
I’ve been following the EWG for years now and use their
resources all the time with clients, so it was especially exciting to hear the
founder and CEO Ken Cook speak along
with many of the scientists doing the excellent work every day to put out
clear, evidence-based, relevant health information on everything from water
safety to clean beauty products to pesticides to healthy cleaning products. You
will find a wealth of helpful information on the EWG page!
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!!!
QUICK UPDATE: February 2020!
The new program is here!!! I’m thrilled to share with you all: