Twelve Ways of SLOWING DOWN this Holiday Season

Twelve Ways of SLOWING DOWN this Holiday Season

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.

Want to take this on deeper level? Consider joining my next Nourish Your Whole Self group starting in the new year! https://healthcoachmichelle.com/nutrition/nourish-the-whole-self/


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!

As I was thinking about different tips and strategies for slowing down this holiday season, I realized this is something my colleague Jill Lebeau and I have already put together in our uplifting and energizing online program called Live in the Flow: Manifest Happiness, Wealth, Health & Love!


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.

Clean and Healthy Living! Best tips from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Leadership Summit

Clean and Healthy Living! Best tips from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Leadership Summit

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!

I’d love to share a few of my favorite takeaways from the day with you in this video.

After you watch, I’d love to hear what is one small action step you feel ready to take!

All of Us Are BECOMING: Inspired by Michelle Obama and in Honor of Black History Month

All of Us Are BECOMING: Inspired by Michelle Obama and in Honor of Black History Month

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 an agent of positive change: So excited to share a new direction for my practice!

I am an agent of positive change: So excited to share a new direction for my practice!

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):

  • Environmental (water, land, climate change, conservation, animals)
  • 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)
  • Health
  • Children
  • Education
  • Civil Liberties
  • Veterans/PTSD
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Crisis services
  • Inmate and ex-inmate support services
  • Progressive political organizations
  • Arts (dance, music, visual, drama)
  • Spiritual/religious

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.

The morning 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:

“Whole Life Nourishment for Changemakers!”

Find out all of the information today by going to https://healthcoachmichelle.com/nutrition/whole-life-nourishment/

Lessons I am learning . . . First five years as a holistic health coach and nutrition consultant

Lessons I am learning . . . First five years as a holistic health coach and nutrition consultant

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 . . . 

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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

 

The Herb Series: Parsley

The Herb Series: Parsley

PARSLEY

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 picHealth Benefits:

  • 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

 parsley tabbouleh
Servings: 4

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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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