Celebrate Women’s Health Week with Radical Self-Care!

I love Women’s Health Week . Just love it. It sounds rather silly, perhaps – but rather than this being a “holiday” that pressures our loved ones into showing their appreciation for us, it’s a time for us to pay attention to the ways we do (or don’t!) take care of ourselves and our wellness. After all, as Mao Zedong said, “Women hold up half the sky.” We can’t carry the weight of the heavens (and our families, and careers, and…..) if we’re spiritually exhausted, emotionally depleted, or physically ill!

So this is a good time to ask: what does it mean to you to be a well woman, and how do you tend to your wellness?

The Women’s Health.Gov web page on National Women’s Health Week makes the following five suggestions:

  • Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings.
  • Get active.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet.

While I agree 100% with these suggestions, I’d like to add a few thoughts on three of them, and share one or two of my own….

Get Active

“Get active” – that is so much better than saying “Exercise!” Where “exercise” brings to mind “no pain no gain” routines like cross-training, Zumba, or Pilates, “activity” could refer to free-flowing, fun practices like gardening, walking or bicycling, bellydancing, Tai Chi, yoga…the list is endless. If you’re looking for a super-efficient form of activity to fit into a busy schedule, many nutritional and physical fitness experts are recommending “burst” training (Extremely short duration high intensity interval training), which helps your body adapt to stress, burn fat, regulate blood sugar and boost production of Human Growth Hormone.

And there are added, hidden benefits. Doing your physical activity barefoot on the Earth (“Earthing”) helps to activate the root chakra and sacral chakras, release pent-up emotions and keep you grounded and centered (among many other benefits!). Outdoor activity also gives you a good dose of Vitamin D, as well as the mental and spiritual benefits of being in nature.

And all of this is essential to keeping your bones strong, your joints supple, and your heart healthy.

Eat Healthy –

Women’s Health.Gov is singing my song here! I could talk for hours (and often do) about the importance of healthy eating in maintaining wellness. Here are just a few of the key points to remember:

  • Hydrate – drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water
  • Tip your diet toward a better pH balance, and reduce inflammation and disease, with more alkaline foods such as lemons, limes, all greens, cruciferous vegetables
  • Try fermented foods such a kimchi and sauerkraut  – they naturally produce more of the “good” probiotic bacteria in your gut, which aids in digestion and helps decrease sugar cravings
  • Reduce your consumption of sugar, caffeine, processed foods and breads/pasta
  • Eat high water content fruits and vegetables – they’re a great source of antioxidants, and keep your skin supple and you your juices flowing
  • Boost your magnesium (thus boosting dopamine production in your brain and helping your body to process estrogen) by adding Swiss chard, spinach, nettle, pumpkin seeds, cashews and almonds to your diet.
  • Boost your calcium while you avoid the side effects of dairy: indulge in green goddess foods such as tahini , spinach and nettle.

Mental Wellness

Did you know that Women’s Health Week comes in the middle of Mental Health Month? It’s a wonderful twofer, reminding us to support not only our physical health, but also the balance of our body/mind/spirit. It’s important to take positive steps toward mental self-care, starting with practices like these:

  • Connecting with supportive, loving people
  • Taking time to play
  • Laughing!
  • Taking part in activities you enjoy
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Connecting with your higher power

Most important – if life is seeming bleak, or you are having difficulty functioning, see a therapist or other mental health care professional! Whether you choose cognitive therapy, medication, or a naturopathic path to relieve your struggle, you do not need to suffer alone. Get help.

Bottom line? Be proactive with self care activities!

As women, we often wind up tending to everyone around us while we neglect ourselves. Women’s Health Week is an important week-long reminder, but we need to bring the lesson home all year long: to make the time to nurture our own wellness with self nourishing activities.

So – start building your self-care habits now! Why not try doing just one of these activities each day…and plan to enjoy them for a lifetime…

  • Turn your plate into an artist’s palette with colorful fresh, local fruits and vegetables
  • Check in with your intuition before agreeing to something

Treat yourself to a massage, pedicure or manicure

  • End a tough day with a soothing salt bath, scented with essential oils
  • Read a challenging or inspirational book
  • Meditate
  • Lastly, remember to breathe.

To your self-care!


Anxious? The Problem May Be In Your Pantry..

Perhaps you’ve been putting it down to the times we’re living in…between the economy, the environment, the atmosphere at work and all the rest, who can blame anyone for being on edge?

But if you’re like millions of people – more than 4 million in the U.S. alone! – there may be something more going on.

Called Generalized Anxiety Disorder, this condition takes basic everyday worries and amps them up to overwhelming levels. If you suffer from GAD (according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition), you’re stressing about a variety of topics, more days than not, over a period of at least six months, and you’re finding it hard to control your worry.

You may also be experiencing restlessness, edginess, or feelings of fear; fatigue; difficulty concentrating; irritability; difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping restfully; or your mind going blank. Physical symptoms may include rapid heart beat, cold and clammy hands, dizziness, shortness of breath, muscle tension, jumpiness and/or gastrointestinal discomfort (see Positively Positive for more details).

While a little bit of fear can serve as a thrill (which is why roller coasters and horror movies draw crowds year after year) and mild anxiety can boost your performance and protect you from danger, chronic anxiety is a debilitating condition that saps energy and enjoyment, reduces work performance and damages relationships, and ultimately can have a dire impact on your health: heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, respiratory disorders, and even autoimmune disease and cancer have all been linked to long-term anxiety.

So – yes, in a very real sense, stress kills! And the pharmaceutical industry is all too eager to offer solutions.

But what if you’d rather bypass the chemical side effects and go the natural route – is that even an option?

I’m asked this question time and again, and the answer is – yes, if you’re willing to go slowly, take the time to get to know your body and observe your mental functioning, and make conscious lifestyle changes! You see, your anxiety isn’t occurring in a vacuum – it’s arises out of processes taking place in your brain that affect – and are affected by – processes taking place in your body. Very literally, it is a mind/body/spirit condition!

I work with my clients toward reducing stress and anxiety on every level, mind, body, and spirit, and offer a bulging toolbox full of techniques…but for now I just want to look at one, a big one:

What are you putting into your body?

In next week’s blog find out about the 5 anxiety building ingredients.

When Mother Nature Hits the Snooze Button…

What’s going on with Spring, already? One day we’re out in short sleeves, admiring the crocuses and daffodils budding, and then – whoosh – next thing we know we’re shivering under a torrent of white stuff coming down. We’re past the Equinox – surely the weather should be cooperating? Is Mother Nature playing Lucy’s football trick from Charlie Brown?

And more to the point, how do you practice wellness in what our mothers’ generation used to call “pneumonia weather?” I’ve heard a number of my clients asking this very question over the past several weeks, and I’d like to look at it here through the Five Elements lens.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is the most Yin time of year…time for cocooning inside, resting, and looking inward, gathering strength for the burst of growth and activity in spring. In this tradition, activity arises in Spring, peaks in Summer, begins to subside with the harvest in Late Summer, fades and dies back in Autumn, and rests deeply during Winter.

Foods, activities, and wellness practices all revolve around this cycle in Traditional Chinese Medicine. ..and all the modern Western compulsion to be busy-busy-busy, 24/7/365, is actually dead against this seasonal cycle.

But when you’ve been curtailing activities due to snow and ice, and the kids have been home for – how many? – snow days, you might ask: what role does Spring play in Winter weather (or vice versa)? How do you adapt?

I don’t think that it’s so much a matter of forcing Spring practices onto snowy, blustery days, as it is a matter of looking at the longer-term picture.

If you look back at 2013, it seemed to arrive and be gone in a flash. I heard client after client saying that they felt as if they were on a treadmill that was going 100 miles per hour; life was just passing them by. No sooner did spring arrive than it was summer, and hey presto, it was autumn, and – how could it be Winter already?

If you believe, as I do, that we are integrally connected to the Cosmos, and that our experience and desires shape the reality that we experience, then, I wonder, could our collective breathless race to keep up last year maybe – just maybe – have affected our collective reality and resulted in a long winter that forces us to slow down?

There are those who would laugh this off from a scientific perspective: research is showing that as our global climate devolves, the polar weather patterns have destabilized and swept southward, bringing with them the snowstorms and bitter weather we’ve been seeing.

But if you look at the outcome of our cultural drive to busy-ness – the lights and computers running around the clock, the nonstop road and rail and air travel, all of this adding tons of carbon to the atmosphere, resulting in the world’s carbon-sequestering forests being leveled to provide more power through coal and Tar Sands oil – all of which contributes to global climate change.

Perhaps Mother Nature is telling us to slow down, reflect, look to a more holistic, conscious approach to wellness for ourselves and the world? Perhaps this is an opportunity to turn off the lights for a while, step away from our ever-present screens and enjoy the softness of candlelight or the dark…to nestle under a pile of blankets with a loved one…or to bundle up and marvel anew at the beauty of frozen crystals of water in all their many forms. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to slow down and fall in love with the world, and with each other, all over again.

So let’s take some time to be grateful for this long winter. Appreciating the deeper perspective and the rest that winter gives us will help us to transition into the increased activity of spring much more easily and consciously. If we allow ourselves to rest, reflect and replenish our bodies, minds and spirits during this last fling of winter, our spring and summer activity can be much more balanced, grounded, healthy and enjoyable.

You could say Mother Nature is hitting the Snooze button again; the warm weather wake-up call will come all too soon. Enjoy this slow time while it’s here!

Balance Rising Spring Passions with Natural Grounding and Centering Tools

With the fading of the cold winds come the first signs of spring – the daffodils and crocus poking their green shoots out of the ground; the first sighting of a robin; the geese flying north. All nature seems to take a deep breath and poise for a surge of growth.

With this upward-springing thrust of stems and trunks and sprouting leaves, it’s no surprise that Wood is the element of Spring in Chinese Five Element tradition. From the deep, dark, inward-looking Yin of Winter, we are jumping to the Yang of active outward growth and greening – time to put your Wintertime dreams and visions into action!

The Liver and Gall Bladder are the organs related to Spring and Wood in traditional Chinese medicine. They are associated with planning and decision-making…and this fits well with the new growth burgeoning on all sides.

If your Wood element is out of balance and your Liver and Gall Bladder are not functioning properly, you may find yourself acting on your visions without planning, for example, or stifling them without taking action. When this happens, the Spring energy of planning and discernment can cause irritability, even anger, shouting, and tears…or, on the other hand, to a frustrated inability to express or implement your dreams. This inward paralysis can lead to a slow burn and disastrous explosion of anger, or to your anger being turned inward and showing up as depression.

So what is the best way to stay balanced, conscious, peaceful and healthy this spring?

On the purely physical level, you can support your Liver by sweeping away any stagnant energy from the Winter’s processing and clearing the decks for action. Talk with your nutritionist about setting up a simple diet of organic fruits and veggies and (of course) fresh pure water. Be sure to include spring greens, artichokes, and asparagus, and herbs such as milk thistle and burdock root, all of which are superb liver tonics. To clear your system even better, consider a 1-3 day cleanse under your wellness coach’s supervision. You’ll be amazed at the way your energy and outlook on life improve!

But that’s not all you can do to clear and clean your mental energy. Try taking a break from the computer and television once or twice a day, and going outside and enjoying nature. Talk with your wellness coach about setting up a exercise program. You’ll strengthen your muscles and tendons, sweat out even more toxins, and get the endorphins flowing for mental clarity and emotional bliss.

To cleanse and ground your spirit, tap into the green and growing energy of the season by connecting with Mama Earth in any way you can. Go out for long rambling walks in a park and spend time just sitting under a tree, listening to the wind and watching the clouds and birds soar overhead. Or try planning and planting a garden, whether you’re out in the country with acres to farm or in a tiny apartment with just a balcony, window boxes, or even window sills! No matter where you are, you can make space for green and growing things that will boost chi, freshen the air, and remove toxins and electromagnetic fields.

Here’s a springtime mind/body/spirit grounding exercise that will last you through the whole year: go out to your favorite place in nature at the same time every day. Spend at least 15 minutes there just looking – really looking – and connecting with all the beings there, from the tiniest bugs and worms to the tallest trees. Do animals and birds pass by when you sit very quietly? Pay attention even to the quality of the soil – is it sandy or clayey, hard-packed or loose and rich? Are the stones crumbly or solid, tiny gravel or large boulders? What small shoots are starting to emerge? Sit quietly, emptying your mind, and listen – what do you hear?

Now reach deeper – choose one of the beings in this special space and put yourself in its place. Imagine how it would feel to live here, what pleasures and challenges you would face. Is this a life you would choose if you could? Empty your mind and listen with your spirit: what does this space and its beings want to tell you?

Come back to visit this spot as often as you can throughout the spring…and through the year if it calls you. See how it changes through the seasons. Bring your sketch pad or your journal to record what you see, hear, feel, sense. Make it your spot for relaxation and contemplation and renewal.

Finally:  while you are out in your special space, ask yourself: what are the qualities you want to bring into your life, what are the changes you want to make, and how can they best be achieved? Be aware – the seeds that you plant now will bear the harvest of autumn, to be stored for winter, so choose and plant them, literally and metaphorically, with care!




The Keys To Love

It’s the most popular myth in the world…that your true love is “out there,” and one day you will discover that person. It’s just a matter of enduring the loneliness and looking in the right places to find him or her. S/he’s your other half, your soulmate, your twin flame…your life until you are united will be incomplete.

It’s the undercurrent of the whole singles scene, every “lonely hearts” bar, and half the world’s popular love songs. And it’s complete baloney.

No, we’re not saying that you’re doomed to a life of solitude, or that you will never find romance – quite the contrary! The myth is that life without romance is a “half-life,” an incomplete life that must be endured; that until you find your “other half,” you cannot live fully.

“Yeah, yeah,” we can hear you saying wearily. “Whitney Houston says that the greatest love is love of yourself (sigh). But that’s not going to put its arms around me in the middle of the night.”

True…however, we believe that a life that’s fulfilled and fulfilling throughout your waking hours leads to greater joy in the long run than a midnight hug to distract you from inner emptiness! And a life with that kind of fulfillment is always the result when you open your heart to love yourself.

“But isn’t that selfish?” you might be asking. Actually, no – sez not only Ms. Houston, but also the world’s greatest spiritual teachers. Jesus, for example, said that the first law was to love God, and the second to love your neighbor as yourself. Not to love only your neighbor (or only yourself for that matter), but to love both, equally.

It’s not about pulling inward to focus on how wonderful you are to the exclusion of all others; it’s about learning to appreciate yourself and your existence as a wonderful, magical part of a wonderful, magical cosmos. To celebrate the fact that you – and everyone and everything around you – are inseparable from an amazing, miraculous creation.

As Albert Einstein said, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Simply because you are alive, you are part of that miracle.

This is the difference between codependence and love. While you are looking for an “other half” to complete you, seeing yourself as incomplete, you are missing your unfailing connection to the miracle of All That Is. When you enter a relationship in that state of incompleteness, you become dependent upon the other person to fill your need for cosmic connection, subconsciously expecting them to be perfect and limitless in their love. If you’re entering a relationship while seeing yourself as bad or worthless, undeserving of love (your own or anybody else’s), that will show up in your treatment of the other person, and of yourself.

You can see how these issues would be deal-breakers in any relationship!

And when you love others from a place of secure self-love and cosmic connection, you can relate to them with authenticity and trust, accepting them in all that they are, no matter how much like you or different from you they may be. You can forgive their failings, because you aren’t basing your identity and your self-worth on their perfection.

So before you start looking for love from others, learn to affirm and believe that you are a miraculous part of the cosmos, you are lovable and beloved whether or not you have a partner by your side. Just as there is no division between your mind and body, there is no point at which the energy of the cosmos ends and you begin. You’re not separate, you’re not fallen, you’re not lost, you’re not alone. You are connected to everything that exists, and no matter where you are, you have your place within the universe. You only need to recognize it to tap into that energy.

So how do you find that sense of connection? Here are just a few ideas…

  • Go out in the woods, or by the ocean, turn off your mental chatter, and simply focus on feeling all that’s around you…the breezes, the earth, the birds, the light, the fragrances…immerse yourself in your senses, feel yourself as a part of All That Is.
  • Go to your sacred space, light a candle, and call on your Source energy, Higher Power, God/Goddess, Divinity by whatever name. Clear your mind and feel the love and light fill your heart.
  • In your sacred space, after calling on the positive energies of the universe, journal, draw, sing, drum, dance, releasing your spiritual clutter and creating space in your soul for Love.

Isn’t that better than suffering the loneliness of believing that another human being is the Only One who can fulfill you, and you can’t live without him or her?

Balancing Your Emotions Through the Passionate Sacral Chakra

If the first chakra is all about our survival in the material world, the second is about connection — in fact, Caroline Myss calls the second or sacral chakra “the partnership chakra.” Located just below the navel — around womb level for women — this chakra is described in Hindu tradition as the “feminine creative abode,” or the “seat of life.”

It’s also called the “dwelling place of the Self,” writes intuitive healer Anarah, because this chakra not only influences partnership and relationships, but also our groundedness in our own identity: our ability to set boundaries and maintain our personal space. This balance of individuality and partnership is the essence of the sacral chakra’s fluid energy, governing emotions, sensuality, sexuality, intuition and creativity. It also helps us to determine where we want to attach our energy, whether materially, socially, or spiritually.

Ruled by the element of Water, the Sacral chakra is responsible not only for flowing emotions, but also for the organs that process fluids: kidneys, bladder, large intestine. It not only influences your imaginative creativity; it also governs your body’s procreative functions through the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, as well as cell division and growth.

When your sacral chakra is in balance, you’re confident and at peace within yourself; you come to your relationships with healthy boundaries, a positive self-image, and a keen, grounded “people sense.” You enjoy and nurture your body, and you are comfortable with engaging your creativity, whether you are aiming to conceive a child, a work of art, or a technical project.

When your second chakra is out of balance, on the other hand, your emotional life may be full of challenges like these:

  • Feeling others’ emotions (sometimes overwhelmingly)
  • Losing yourself in your relationships, or hearing others complain that you smother them
  • Projecting your powerful emotions outward to create all kinds of drama in your life, or feeling numbed-out and depressed
  • Clinging to memories, grudges, people, roles, or things

So how can you rebalance your sacral chakra? It’s not as hard as it may seem. Here are a few tips…

Keep your system flowing smoothly with vital nutrients

  • To function at their best, the organs governed by this chakra need water, and plenty of it. So, drink plenty of water — half your weight in ounces of water, or until your pee is clear.
  • Lubricate your system by taking in plenty of oils: almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, and avocado oil. All of these have different cooking properties; to use them healthily, use this guide
  • Support your brain function, endocrine system and immune system with foods high in essential fatty acids such as dark oily fish – wild caught salmon and tuna, flaxseed meal, and walnuts.
  • Seeds are the beginning of life: keep your energy level strong and steady with seeds such as flax, poppy, pumpkin, sesame, hemp and sunflower.
  • Orange is the color associated with the sacral chakra, and it’s nourished by orange foods – apricots, cantaloupes, kumquats, mandarin oranges, tangerines, oranges, nectarines, papayas, peaches, persimmons, carrots, orange bell peppers, pumpkin, yams

Use essential oils

You can get the benefits of essential oils by using them in a diffuser, in candles, or in your bath (Do not use them in food or drink, and always dilute for safety — see http://www.essentialoils.co.za/dilutions.htm). Some oils that balance the sacral chakra are: sandalwood, tangerine, orange, bergamont, rosemary, jasmine, ylang-ylang.

Use semiprecious stones

You can apply stones as an energy treatment by lying down and placing them on your chakras, or keeping them in a pocket or on a necklace as you go about your day. The chakras, which act as energy vortices, channel energy from the stones into the meridians of your body, and finally into your aura.

Here are a few of the stones that can support your sacral chakra (learn more about using stones for chakra balancing here:

Amber – Balances emotions, builds mental clarity, clears negative energy, and releases phobias and fears
Carnelian – Builds emotional balance, positive self image, and perception, as well as creativity, peace, and unity with nature and other people.
Orange calcite — Eases overwhelming emotions of fear, depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal thoughts. Restores emotional balance and can boost intuition. Also supports the reproductive, gastrointestinal, and excretory systems, and balances sexual energies.
Red Jasper — Builds Earth connection for emotional and spiritual balance and grounding. Aids clarity and stability in the midst of personal difficulties.
Tiger’s Eye — Builds inner peace and balance; helps to release fear and anxiety. Inspires action, supports discernment and clarity in decision-making, unclouded by emotions.

Other ways to nourish your sacral chakra

Finally, don’t neglect these important techniques:

  • Hip opening exercises and yoga asanas
  • Dancing
  • Visualizing orange — sunsets, terra cotta, pumpkins, fruit — imagine!
  • Setting aside time to do something creative — writing, painting, cooking, singing, doing crafts
  • Journaling about your womb story or sex story
  • Having a womb sauna treatment

Next time we’ll look at the powerful Solar Plexus Chakra — seat of the will and self-determination. Stay tuned!

Roasted Beet and Garlic Soup Recipe

Adapted from Skin Guy Gourmet

This soup recipe has beets which are filled with potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid. Beets also contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones. Feeling a little scattered and or overwhelmed this holiday season? Beets also help to ground you energetically.
This recipe also contains garlic which supports the immune system with is antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

A healthy delicious soup to enjoy this winter season.


4 large beets – peeled and diced

2 large Vidalia or yellow onions – peeled and chopped into quarters

3 cloves garlic – peeled and smashed

2 TBS coconut oil
2 cups baby carrots

2 cups vegetable stock

Himalayan Sea Salt and pepper to taste


– Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
– Line pan with parchment paper
– Add the beets, carrots, onion and garlic
– Add coconut oil, salt and pepper and mix well
– Roast in oven for one hour – but toss the mixture at 30 minutes so all sides cook evenly
– Reduce heat to 350 degrees after one hour and cook until fork-tender; checking every 20 minutes or so and tossing using tongs.
– When mixture is fork-tender, remove from oven and set aside to cook for at least 30 minutes. Put the mixture in the blender in batches.
– Add the vegetable stock and blend until you get your desired texture.

Pour in a bowl and enjoy!

Start Your New Year with Steps Toward Empowerment!

Happy New Year! I’m hoping that your holidays have been joyous and filled with family, friends, and fun, and that 2014 is filled with wonder and wellness.

And if you’re like 90% of the world, you’re probably beginning the year with a list of resolutions in your shiny new calendar… Maybe something like this:

Resolved: in the next 365 days, I will diet and exercise… stick to a budget… manage time effectively…end hunger…eradicate disease… and accomplish world peace!

Of course the last three of those resolutions are just a smidge over the top…but what’s wrong with the first three? Aren’t they the same commitments that nearly everyone makes…year after year?

Yes, they are…and that’s the trouble. Not that you want to achieve these goals, but that just about everyone tries to accomplish them in the same way…

By making resolutions. And because resolutions are made to be rebelled against, they’re just about as effective as those last three world-shaking aspirations.

What’s that — resolutions are made to be rebelled against??

I like to say that resolutions are channeled from our inner drill sergeant…the shadowy adult in our past who would never be satisfied. They’re built on a foundation of “I’m not enough” or “I’m lacking” and re-solving to solve the problem/defect/lack, rather than affirming and intending your highest good. And our souls recognize that underlying message, and refuse to accept it.

Just listen to the meta-messages of fear and not-enoughness that underlie these common resolutions, and you’ll see what I mean…

I will diet/exercise — let’s not even get into the shame messages of “fat/lazy” that drive these resolutions! Ideals regarding weight and fitness carry enormous baggage in our society of anorexic, Photoshopped models; even when we believe we’re doing everything for the right reasons, that old message of shame slides in. And we start feeling that it’s simpler just to avoid the whole issue…(where is that remote, anyway? )

I will stick to a budget — Don’t the very words sound punitive? They call to mind Ebenezer Scrooge, doling out meager pleasures with an eyedropper and begrudging every one. The Ghost of Christmas Present didn’t walk the malls with a calculator and price list in hand, did he? Just the thought of budgeting is enough to send us off to the mall for some retail therapy…

I will manage time effectively — Whether you’re dodging onto Facebook or checking your email every 10 minutes – whether you’re chronically procrastinating, or multitasking to the point of being unable to finish any project — struggles with time management are epidemic these days. Nearly all of us feel that we should be far more productive than we are….and whether we admit it or not, we know where our time-sinks lie. And they are sooo comforting….

And therein lies the trouble! As long as we’re resolving to turn aside from temptation, the temptations remind us of just how pleasant they are, and how bleak our chosen strategies are…

So what do you do about it? Clearly a healthy, fit body, money in the bank, and free time in the day are good things that you want in your future, right?

Of course they are. And so I invite you to work toward these goals not as resolutions but as intentions.

What’s the difference? Where resolutions are fixing a lack, driven by fear and shame, intentions start by affirming your enoughness and highest good. They can be so empowering and inspiring, you’ll want to repeat them every morning as affirmations!

For example, let’s look at that diet and exercise resolution again…

I see my body whole, healthy, and fit. I make choices that support my perfect body. This intention puts the focus on the vision you desire, and empowers the decision-making process to get there. Rather than locking you into the same well-worn series of options you’ve tried before, it opens up the door to all sorts of choices. Perhaps, rather than working with a personal trainer, you’ll work with a nutritionist, a kitchen consultant, or a wellness coach!

How about the budget resolution? Let’s try this:

I have access to all the money I need for my needs, desires, and future. I earn, save and spend consciously, keeping the big picture in mind. This starts out with the idea that you have access to enough; you’re not limited to your salary. Money management is just a balancing act, one that you are capable of doing. How much more empowering this is than the inner Scrooge with his candlelit ledger!

But what about that time management question? Let’s try reframing it thusly:

I cherish the hours of my day as an irreplaceable gift. I invest every moment wisely to gain its fullest value for myself and for the world. Your employer leases a portion of your days…that’s a given as far as goals and tasks are concerned. But you have a deeper commitment to yourself and to Life, to wring the most wonderful, purposeful experience possible out of every second: to love your family, to heal your body, to change the world. And your choices matter — they determine the value of the time you spend, whether you’re de-stressing in a bubble bath, visiting a sick parent, or having tea with friends. You matter.

Imagine New Year aspirations that challenge, support and empower you…that feed your soul rather than triggering self-criticism! That’s the way to start the year for joy and wellness….

Blessings for the New Year!

Make It a Cool — and Healthy — Yule with Cold-Water Bathing!

As the temperature drops and we start to cocoon for winter, warmth tends to be the thing uppermost in our minds. Ahh, warmth…warm fingers, toes, ears…body…like coming in out of the cold to a delicious enveloping embrace…ahh, warm…who’d want to leave it?

But the truth is that bacteria and viruses also bask in that delicious warmth, especially when your house is closed up tight against the wintry winds. And when you’re cocooned up nice and snug indoors, your body isn’t getting the vital nutrients that it requires from sunlight and fresh air…so not only are you living in a pathogen-friendly environment, but you’re also handicapping your immune system!

What’s the answer? Actually one that has been known for millennia: “hydrotherapy,” in the form of a hot/cold shower. According to naturopathic physician Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, it’s a highly effective way to prepare your body for the temperature shock of stepping outside, while it also boosts your immune system and prevents colds and flu during the winter months.

The principle is simple: to flip back and forth seven times between the hottest water you can tolerate to the coldest water you can tolerate, making the water little hotter and a little colder each time, and making sure that every part of your body gets completely exposed to the temperature with each switch. As you do, you’re boosting your heart rate and circulation, opening up the pores of your skin, boosting elimination of toxins, relieving inflammation, and easing depression.

Sound extreme? Variations of this healing technique have been used in various forms, including around the world since prehistoric times (saunas and sweat lodges are just two of the ancient forms that we still know today). You get thoroughly cooked in the steam, with the help of aromatic medicinal herbs, then go out and roll in snow or jump in an icy lake, then run back shivering to the heat for another round. When it’s all over, you emerge tingling and feeling wonderful!
There are a number of forms of cold-water therapy…and they don’t just promote overall wellness. Tests demonstrate that when you skip the hot-cold switches and immerse in a tub or shower at 10-15 degrees C (50-59 degrees F) for about 24 minutes, you gain all sorts of other health benefits. For starters:

  • slowing down your heart rate and increasing production of the powerful antioxidant glutathione
  • reducing the uric acid that’s associated with gout, hypertension, heart disease, fatty liver, kidney disease and obesity
  • preventing the delayed-onset muscle soreness that shows up one to four days after a workout.
  • helping to increase your body’s metabolism and resistance to cold weather.

There’s another side benefit, too, that’s particularly nice after the holidays: cold water therapy activates your “brown fat” — a type of fat that actually generates heat and burns energy — and fat!
Now, there are a couple of important warnings to consider if you’re planning on trying this powerful wellness tool: first, it’s important to build up your tolerance. Don’t try heroically Polar Bear Plunging into a bathtub full of ice water first thing! If you’re used to steamy-hot showers, try just finishing off one with a cold-water chaser, then build up from that point on. Alternatively, say the doctors at Mercola.com, you could drink 2 cups (500 ml) of ice water first thing every morning, or sit with ice packs on your upper back and upper chest for 30 minutes per day for a few days, before you venture into an icy shower or bath.

Second, as this kind of hydrotherapy opens up your pores and stimulates circulation to expel toxins through your skin, it’s important that your shower or bath isn’t soaking you with chlorine, fluoride, lead, arsenic, or other toxins that are often found in public water! I recommend finding a home water filter that cleans your municipal water where it enters your house. If this isn’t possible, check out your local housewares store or plumber’s supply for a shower head filter that removes chemical, mineral, and bacterial contaminants.

(In fact, I’d recommend water filters even (and especially) if you plan to continue using hot showers and baths, as research has established that heat vaporizes the contaminants in water and sends them into your lungs and throughout your house.)

Oh — and there are a couple of other benefits I almost forgot to mention. If you’re hesitating to try cold-water therapy because cold showers are reputed to reduce sex drive, have no fear: so far from reducing libido, tests show that cold water actually increases testosterone production — thereby making your playtimes very frisky indeed!

Secondly, when I tried out the hot-cold shower for the first time, I felt very invigorated afterwards. The hot water was very relaxing and then when I turned on the cold, I was gasping for breath and squeaking “Oh, oh!” very loudly — then laughing hysterically because I sounded so funny! So now I enjoy getting all the benefits of a good belly laugh on top of the benefits of the hot/ cold water therapy. What a great way to enter the holidays!

Happy bathing!

Tweet: cold water therapy activates your “brown fat” — a type of fat that actually generates heat and burns energy — and fat! #ImmuneBooster Tweet: cold water therapy activates your “brown fat” — a type of fat that actually generates heat and burns energy — and fat! #ImmuneBooster


Introducing The Chakra’s – The Root Chakra

Introducing the Chakras: The Root Chakra
Very often I’m asked — what are the chakras, and why are they important to wellness? The answer goes deep into the ancient knowledge of many cultures…far too much to detail here…but I do want to give the basics in this and the next six posts.
Essentially, the chakras are centers of life force in your energy body that are intimately linked to specific aspects of your mind/body/spirit. Some yogic teachers say that each chakra interacts with one of the seven endocrine glands and with groups or “plexuses” of nerves, arteries and veins.

Each chakra controls the functions associated with one gland or plexus. For this reason, keeping your chakras in balance is an important aspect of maintaining your wellness!

There are seven chakras, affecting every aspect of your being:

  • Root — located in the genital area, governing issues of personal and tribal survival
  • Sacral — located just below the bellybutton, governing feelings and social interaction
  • Solar Plexus — located at stomach level, governing personal power and responsibility
  • Heart — located at the breastbone, governing relationships and emotional intimacy
  • Throat — located just above the thymus, governing communication, honesty, self-expression in relationship
  • Brow — located at the third eye, governing self-realization, intuition and insight
  • Crown — located at the top of the head, governing spirituality and connection with the Divine

Balancing the Root Chakra

First of all, the root chakra is all about survival and the most basic needs: eating, drinking, sleeping, making a living, being safe in the world, having a right to exist! Located in the genital area, it also fuels the sex drive at the most basic level. Appropriately, it’s associated with the color red.chakras19112819_s

When your root chakra is out of balance, you may feel you’re disconnected from the warmth and vitality of life. You may be fatigued or anemic; your immune system may be weak and you may catch contagious diseases easily. You may have low back pain, constipation or other low-GI issues, or issues with your reproductive system. Emotionally, you may feel depressed, angry, or anxious; you may overreact as if simple things threaten your survival. Scarcity is a haunting fear, whether scarcity of food, resources, or money – an unbalanced root chakra weakens your sense of security in the world!

So what can you do about this? In a word — Ground yourself.

Eat Grounding Foods

Nourishing yourself is one of the most grounding things you can do…and there are plenty of foods that specifically nourish the root chakra. They start — not surprisingly — with root vegetables:

  • Parsnip
  • Carrot
  • Turnip
  • Celery root, Celeriac
  • Rutabaga
  • Cassava
  • Parsley root
  • Potatoes
  • Burdock root
  • Sweet potato
  • Yams

Root spices such as ginger and turmeric, and root drinks such as roasted dandelion root tea, help to build your immune system while grounding you.

You’ll also benefit if you eat red roots and fruits, such as:

  • Beets
  • Red peppers
  • Strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Pomegranates
  • Cherries
  • Radishes
  • Cranberries
  • Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Blood oranges

Surround Yourself with Earthy Fragrance

Smell is our most visceral sense — it connects directly with the most primitive parts of the brain. . So you can ground yourself deeply and instinctually by using organic candles or essential oils with the fragrances of patchouli, myrrh, cedarwood, and vetiver.

Do Grounding Activities

Most important, ground your body in the simplest way — by connecting physically with the Earth (ideally while you’re wearing red!):

  • Sitting on the ground
  • Spreading out a blanket on the ground and having a picnic
  • Dancing barefoot
  • Walking barefoot
  • Sitting or walking in meditation (especially barefoot on the earth)
  • Hugging a tree or putting your back up against a tree
  • Practicing Yoga, qi gong or tai chi( especially outside and barefoot)

Visualize and Tone

Last of all, I want to give you this chakra toning video, featuring visionary artist Lahrinda’s visualizations, coupled with Healing Sounds pioneer Jonathan Goldman’s sounding of the sacred vowel sounds associated with each chakra. Put this on when you are in a quiet place and have the time to focus and tone the vowels yourself for the greatest benefit in balancing and aligning your chakras.

Next up — the passionate sacral chakra!