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?
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:
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.
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.
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.