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!**
Light refreshments will be served!
We will be meeting in Oakland–exact location TBA via email as the event gets closer. Please be sure to RSVP here!
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.
Curious about safer, cleaner beauty products? Take a moment to check out Beautycounter products here: https://www.beautycounter.com/michelledwyer I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite products in future blog posts!
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.
In gratitude, Michelle
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 Yourself because 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!
Fun fact! Parsley was thought to be sacred by the ancient Greeks and has been cultivated for over 2,500 years. It is a rich, dense source of vitamin C, K and E, as folic acid and iron. And, is extremely rich in the minerals calcium and potassium and has high percentages of carotenoids and flavonoids.
- Parsley contains volatile oils that have been shown to inhibit tumor formation and increase antioxidant formation in the blood.
- Its carminative properties reduces flatulence and colic.
- Parsley is an emmenagogue, meaning it stimulates the menses, therefore be cautious and do not use in large amounts if you’re currently pregnant.
- Does parsley have any other special attributes? Yes. Parsley is an excellent breath freshener!
Adding parsley to your cooking and recipes not only enhance brightness and flavor but it’s also easy and fun to explore new ways to incorporate them in.
Ways to use parsley in your cooking:
- Add chopped fresh parsley to salads, soups, sauces, vegetable sautés and grilled meats.
- Add to pesto sauce for more texture and green color.
- Tabbouleh salad with parsley, bulgur wheat or quinoa, garlic,mint, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Great for juicing or when making broths.
- Easy tapenade with parsley, olives, pistachios, and olive oil: This is one of my FAVORITE recipes and is always a hit at parties!
TIP: Add fresh parsley at the end of cooking to retain its color, flavor and freshness!
Recipe: Parsley Tabbouleh
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup water
1/2 cup bulgur or quinoa
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tomatoes, diced
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, (about 2 bunches)
- Combine water and bulgur or quinoa in a small saucepan. Bring to a full boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand until the water is absorbed and the bulgur/quinoa is tender, 25 minutes or according to package directions. If any water remains, drain bulgur/quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber and scallions to the bulgur. Add the dressing and toss.
- Serve at room temperature or chill for at least 1 hour to serve cold.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Recipe adapted from EatingWell.com
I’m very excited to start this Herb Series on various culinary herbs. Each post will highlight a particular herb and easy ways to incorporate it into your daily eating.
Herbs are such a nutritious and delicious way to upgrade your nutrition!
So let’s start with a favorite: BASIL!
Fun fact! There are more than 60 varieties of basil besides the sweet basil we are most familiar, including lemon basil, Thai basil, cinnamon basil and holy basil.
Benefits of BASIL
- good source of flavonoids, particularly those found to protect cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and oxidation
- antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties
- effective in restricting growth of certain bacteria namely e coli and staphylococcus aureus
- good source of vitamins K, A, calcium and potassium and beta-carotene
BASIL in cooking and recipes
- Pesto with garlic, olive oil and a nut (walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios)
- Add to fruit and fruit smoothies for a refreshing twist. Especially delicious with watermelon and other melons!
- Add to water with slices of citrus for a pretty and tasty treat
- Caprese salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil
- Add to the top of stir fry, pasta dishes or soups for a fresh taste and added flavor
Tip: Store basil in the refrigerator wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag. Can also be frozen. Even better idea is to buy a basil plant! Very easy to grow!
Want some basil inspiration? Check out this Huffington Post article with over 34 ways to use basil in a recipe! Yum!
What’s your favorite way to use basil?