Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's Official...

Follow Your Heart... Let Your Spirit Fly Free

We have launched the HerStory social network

Come join us...

"Gather the women... Save the world" ~ Jean Shinoda-Bolen

Friday, April 15, 2011

Making HerStory!

The Team proudly announces the imminent launching of our social network. That's right... out with the old, in with the new. We will be moving to new and improved digs. The current forum and group blog will be scrapped. This change has been a long time coming. A lot of what has held us back has been financing. Well, the Team has decided it is now or never. We are going to take a leap, trusting that the abundance needed to keep this community growing and evolving well into the future will manifest. Sometimes, you have to dig deep, summon your courage, take a risk and just go for it already! In a big way, we are following our hearts. We will no longer let fear hold us back.

The current format has not been working for the full scope of our vision for quite some time. In essence, it has limited us. We have become affiliated with "Intuitive Eating" and promoting the visions of others, when really we have our own message to share. We have dreams and we dream big.

We've known for a long time that no one overcomes food and body obsession by putting more focus on the particulars of what, when, or how to eat. Nor does fixating on body size serve any meaningful purpose. We heal by reconnecting with our heart's desires. In doing so, we reclaim ourselves and find inspiration beyond the obsession. This bold act of defiance against all the 'shoulds' we've been sold launches us into the potential of limitless possibility. Through exploring what we find personally meaningful we discover the hidden treasure of fulfillment. The need to disconnect from our experience falls away, along with the eating disorder mentality. This allows us to become who we were born to be... strong, capable, empowered, brilliant women who are a force to be reckoned with.

We will not insult your intelligence. You do not need to be told what to do. You can determine what suits you best. You do not need a set of guidelines to direct your course. The compass is found in your heart. Life is an open book full of limitless possibility. You write the script.

Our dream is to empower women to be the change they wish to see in the world. We hope to inspire you to reclaim your lives, your dreams, your hopes, your passions, your purpose... Your Self. We want to see empowered women passing on the message of selfhood to young girls. Through mentorship our girls can grow up with the knowledge that they are more than a body size or some narrow definition of beauty. They are a spark that can grow into a flame that will set the world ablaze. United, reminded of our sisterhood, we can be that fire of transformation. It is time.

Now, don't get us wrong. We love men, but feel called to focus our energy on lifting up women. Women need this so desperately. We need a place of our own where we can remember our bond... where we can connect, network, encourage, and support one another in sharing our unique gifts with the world. Men who love women will be more than welcome to participate in our community. No one seeking genuine support and connection will ever be turned away.

One thing that is often missed when the topic of beauty comes up is the way these ideals have driven a wedge between women, creating an air of competition and division amongst us. When we are divided, we are disempowered. Wouldn't it be amazing if women stopped playing into media's hands? What if we stopped comparing ourselves to each other to determine how we measure up? What if we looked into our hearts to discover our self-worth instead of turning to the doctored images in fashion magazines for validation? What if rather than body-bashing and judging one another on the superficial basis of homogenized beauty ideals, age, ethnicity, or social background, we instead united as women, celebrating the perfection of diversity? Can you imagine what it would be like to truly support each and every woman in being the amazing being she was born to be? How incredible it would feel to truly honor each other's unique gifts and encourage one another to share our meaningful contributions with the world! Let's stop playing into the hands of those who would like to keep us down. Let's remember our sisterhood.

Our community is going to go to the next level. Of course, we will continue to support you in taking the very best care of yourself physically. We will cover topics that have drawn you to this community like body image and leaving the misery of restriction behind. We will also go beyond this limited scope. You are more than a body. You are more than a pretty face. You are a multi-dimensional woman. Many of you have forgotten this truth. We are going to help you remember just how magnificent and powerful you truly are.

It was important to us to mark this next chapter in our evolution by christening our community with a new name. While the idea behind "Through Thick & Thin" has served us well, it is time to release this old image and redefine ourselves. Our community has always been about coming together to share our experience with one another. It is through sharing our stories that we grow and heal. One thing that each of us has in common is a story. Every woman has one. We also have the power to rewrite the story of our lives to more accurately reflect who we are coming to be as we reconnect with our authentic selves. We choose the plot, the cast of characters, the next chapter to be written. For this reason, we are marking the transition to the new social network by renaming our community...


We all grew up learning about history in school. What about herstory? We feel it's time for women's voices to be heard.

The new network will become a hub that connects women from all over the world. Each member will have their own page where we encourage you to share what is meaningful to you. We hope you will take this opportunity to highlight the work you are doing in the world. What causes are near and dear to your heart? What dreams are you brewing? How do you wish to share yourself creatively? This is your space to introduce yourself and your unique contribution. It is also a place for you to intimately connect with your sisters all over the globe, fostering a true sense of communal spirit.

Additionally, the new network has the ability for members to form groups so you can connect with other women who share your passions and interests. We will have a forum that is more streamlined and user friendly than our current format. The new network will also feature a blog, website, the ability to chat live, send messages, and many more features that are going to enhance your experience.

I'm also going to be going through an evolution of my own. As many of you know, I am an intuitive eating counselor listed on the National Directory. I was trained by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the authors of "Intuitive Eating" and went through their certification program. It is time for me to begin offering my services in a professional capacity. This is something I will be launching with the new network. I am going to create a program that offers one on one direct counseling support that is accessible for everyone. I'm really excited to be moving in this new direction with my career. The Team also has some cool things in the works... workshops, video seminars, an e-store, even a subscription e-zine. We are very excited to be able to expand our offerings in order to enrich the time you spend with the community.

In keeping with our unconditional promise, there will be no membership fee to participate in the HerStory network. This is our gift to you. We will gladly continue to accept donations from those of you who feel moved to pay it forward. Donations will be put back into the community to cover the costs of hosting the network.

So, when will this move take place? Soon... very soon. Right now our target launch date is to be up and running no later than May 1st, 2011. We will leave the forum and group blog up for a few months after the transition, but they will be inactive. With funds being diverted into the social network, the ads will begin to pop up on the forum. Eventually, both the forum and blog will be deleted. We encourage you to begin saving journal entries and posts that you want to keep as there is not the ability for us to import these files to the new network. Our members will be given ample notice prior to the forum and blog being shut down. You will have time to prepare for this shift.

To all of you who have believed in our vision and supported this community "Through Thick & Thin", we offer a deep bow of respect to you. We are excited to open this new chapter with you and look forward to making HerStory!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

By, Shannon Elsom

Cherry blossoms blush
At the mere mention of spring
Like a smitten maid

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Spring is upon us. Everywhere we look we see the first signs of life stirring after the cold of winter. The thaw brings on renewal. Nowhere is this more evident than in the plant and animal kingdom. We can feel the shift in seasons when we notice the first cherry blossoms bloom. Our ears pick up the quickening rhythm of life in the sounds of chirping birds and buzzing bees swirling about, tending to the day's busy work. The stark grayness of winter gives way to a colorful burst of fresh promising energy. We see the potential for rebirth as light reenters the world out of the safe womb of darkness. A lone blade of grass pushing its way through a crack in the sidewalk illustrates so simply the newness that is born out of what was once cold and barren. As the daffodils raise their cheerful faces toward the sun it reminds us to open ourselves to the warmth now entering the world. The new life blooming blossoms hope within us. We feel the beat of invigorated life and intuit the miracle of growth it brings.

One of the most intimate ways we can connect with the earth and her cycles is by planting a garden. By tending the soil and nurturing seedlings to full fruition we see the symbolism of our own soul's work. Many gardeners have experienced this sense of connection. Those who work the land sense the parallels between caring for their earthly gardens and nurturing the growth of spirit. Upon entering this partnership of co-creation with nature, we come to understand that the earth is not a possession, but is actually part of us. Never do we experience this more directly than when we grow our own food. Cultivating a vegetable garden helps us foster an appreciation for the earth and the bounty she blesses us with. We develop gratitude for our meals understanding the many hands and forces of nature that must come together to put food on the table. This helps us develop a true appreciation for real food. Not lifeless food that is produced in some factory but food brimming with life-force, born from the soil we walk upon. When we nurture this level of respect for the earth and move in harmony with her cycles, we enter a sacred dance of union. In doing so, we value the gift of life. From this space, treating our bodies with love and honor becomes a natural response. This is born from experiencing the wonder of being a note within the symphony of life.

Not everyone has space for a grand garden. Truth is, you don't need to have a big plot of land to grow your own food. Many of us live in urban environments where putting in a large veggie patch is not really an option. However, there are many ways that we can creatively garden. It only requires a little willingness to think outside the box. Those who have limited yard space can have a container garden. Half a wine barrel can accommodate a variety of produce. Even city dwellers can have a windowsill garden where they grow their own cooking herbs. Of course, there are always green thumbs who look toward spring with excitement because it means they get to dig their hands in the dirt and renew the passion they had to put on ice during the cold winter months.

No matter where you are on the gardening scale, open yourself to growing some of your own food this spring. It's not hard to get started. All you need is a little planning and preparation. First of all, consider the space you have. This will greatly determine your overall garden plan. Decide if you have room to put in a raised bed. If space is limited you can opt for the convenience and ease of a container or windowsill garden. Also consider what kind of sunlight you will get consistently in your planting location. This is very important to factor in and will largely determine which crops you plant. Once you have outlined the space you have available and the growing conditions, it is time to plan your crops. What do you want to grow?

In creating your garden plan it is important to remember that it is best to wait for all threat of frost to pass before you put your summer producing crops in the ground. However, there are some hardy transplants that you can get started with in early spring beginning in the month of March. These hardier transplants are:
  • Lettuce
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Globe artichokes
  • Kohl rabi
  • Bok choy
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Seed parsnips
  • Swiss chard
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
Hold off on your enthusiasm to put beets, carrots and potatoes in the ground. It's not that they won't make it when planted this early, but they will tend to thrive better if planted a little later into the spring season. If you are opting to grow a small windowsill herb garden the possibilities are endless because you have instant climate control. Parsley, basil, thyme and sage are good starters for those new to gardening. Once you feel more confident, you can expand your horizons by trying your green thumb at, rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, chervil, chamomile, cilantro... just about any herb you can think of can be grown indoors. Do remember when planning a windowsill garden that herbs need plenty of sunlight. You need a location that will provide at least a few hours of sunshine daily. It is also important to remember the balance of nature. Make sure you have blinds or a curtain that can be drawn. While herbs need plenty of light, more of a good thing is not necessarily better. You don't want to scorch delicate leaves. Be mindful of this during midday when the sun's rays are their strongest. Give your herbs a little break in the early afternoon so they don't get toasted. Also, be sure that herbs have good drainage. They don't take kindly to sitting in soggy soil. Of course, herbs will do very well outdoors too. You would take the same growing conditions into consideration.

Sometimes, it can seem overwhelming to try your hand at gardening if it is something completely new to you. In this case, I highly recommend you visit your local nursery and get yourself some starter plants rather than working from seed. It's also a good idea to connect with your local nursery if this is your first try at gardening because you will find plenty of helpful people ready and willing to answer any questions you may have. They can also assist you in selecting starters that will do well in your regional area. Each starter plant has a tag that includes very clear directions about the type of light the plant needs, which soil conditions it prefers and when it is best planted. It's helpful to rely on this information as you are learning the ropes. I also recommend utilizing your local library to check out books on gardening. You can find inspiration and clear directive in the pages of these simple guides, giving your confidence a boost.

The final element you want to consider is soil quality. Many people get overly wrapped up in worrying about fertilizing. It doesn't need to be that complicated. If you can get your hands on some quality compost your crops are sure to thrive. Most nurseries have compost available at reasonable prices. If you feel like really invoking your inner earth mama, you can do your own composting. It's not as difficult as people think it is. You can actually get started relatively easy and it's a wonderful way to recycle waste.

I personally compost and use an old plastic salad container to collect waste that I keep in the cabinet under my kitchen sink. When the container gets full, it is emptied into the compost bin out back. You can find affordable compost bins. There's no need for anything fancy. In fact, if you are in a pinch a simple garbage pail with a secured lid will do. You need to make sure to frequently turn over the contents in the bin manually with a shovel or sturdy rake if you decide to go this route. Additionally, you can find numerous resources online that will tell you how to build a bin from the ground up.

When first starting a compost bin, you want to work in layers, kind of like when you are building a lasagna. The first layer of your compost pile will contain organic materials like the ones listed below. The second layer will include manures or starters to help activate the initial heating of the compost pile. The pile is finished off with a final layer, (about 1-2 inches) of quality top soil. Within about two weeks, your compost pile will sit and stew. At this time, you can continue to add fresh ingredients to your pile by recycling your wastes into the bin. When you add new material, be sure to turn your pile and water it. A compost pile started in the early spring can be added to all the way up to late winter. By the time the following spring season rolls around you will have quality compost to nurture your new crops with. Ideally, you would turn your pile weekly, but realistically most gardeners only get to this task every month or so. This doesn't seem to have a compromising effect. The compost seems to do just fine.

So much of what we normally toss in the trash can be recycled. The following items can be composted:
  • Leaves/Grass clippings/Hay/Wood chips/Pine needles/Weeds/Wood ashes/Sawdust/Trimmings from houseplants/Garden soil/Flowers that have died/Straw/Broken-down cardboard
  • Paper napkins/Post-it notes/Paper towels/Old bills/Old newspapers (shredded)/Tissues/Q-tips (cardboard only, no plastic)/Wooden toothpicks/Pencil shavings/Brown paper bags/Envelopes
  • Veggies (note that corn cobs will break down slowly)/Fruits that have spoiled
  • Natural coffee filters/Burlap coffee bags/Coffee grounds/Tea bags
  • Pet hair/Leftovers from cleaning out the bird or Guinea pig cage/Feathers
  • Popcorn/Stale spices/Moldy bread/Egg shells/Pasta/Nut shells/Moldy cheese/Expired yogurt/Shellfish shells/Oatmeal/Rice/Tofu/Wine that's headed south (you wouldn't want to waste perfectly good wine)/Spoiled Beer (check note on wine)/Cereal
  • Matches (paper or wood)
  • Worn-out leather gloves/Leather wallets/Cotton socks
  • Hair and nail clippings
  • Dryer lint
This is just a snapshot of what can be composted. It certainly doesn't cover the whole picture. Think of how much waste we could eliminate if we gave back to the earth what we normally toss in the trash so something new can grow from it. This is recycling at its finest. Composting allows us to directly experience the circle of life. It is a direct route to a thriving garden. It is also a great way to reduce waste and give back to the planet.

Try your hand at a veggie or herb garden this season. Whether you have grand gardening plans or your plot is small enough to fit on your windowsill, makes no difference. This is a way to reconnect with nature, develop an appreciation for the blessing of food and to honor the earth as a great provider. Get your green thumb on  and let it grow, baby grow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Organic Matters


Spring is the perfect time to begin thinking of incorporating more organic foods. There are many reasons why choosing organic has value. If you want to protect the earth's resources it makes sense to purchase organic, whenever possible. This is often a decision that stems from our deepest values. Organic produce is pesticide-free. This is noteworthy because pesticides have a negative impact on the quality of our soil and water. This also naturally affects wildlife populations.

Factory farming is heavily reliant on the production of genetically modified crops. There has been little research conducted in the area of GMO's. We aren't clear about what the long-term health implications may be of consuming these man-altered foods. We largely remain in the dark when it comes to GMO's. Until we see the impact these foods are going to have on our health and the environment, many in the fields of science and nutrition feel it may be in our best interest to not jump on the genetically modified bandwagon. In fact, since the induction of GMO's into our food supply there has been an escalating rise in the incidence of food allergies. The issue doesn't become any clearer with the so-called 'experts' completely divided on the topic. While some believe that GMO's are playing a part in the increase in food allergies, others claim this statement has no basis in fact. The great debate rages on and meanwhile, the public is ingesting food on a regular basis that in truth, we know little about.

Purchasing organic is a show of financial support for farmers who are more fairly compensated by growing organic crops. The pittance farmers earn producing government subsidized crops like corn is disgraceful. By supporting organic farmers we ensure that we will have a wider variety of foods to choose from when going to the grocery store. In fact, there has been a revival of heirloom crops within the organic farming community. It is important that we preserve the availability of these foods for the sake of biodiversity.

The verdict is still out on whether or not organic foods are actually healthier for us. With the current information available the decision to buy organic has more to do with how you feel about certain social and environmental issues than it does with building a healthier body. However, tests conducted by the USDA have confirmed washing commercial produce does little to remove pesticides. The residues linger behind on the fruits and veggies that you and your family eat. Considering that pesticides are another murky area and we aren't sure what the long-term impact of ingesting these chemical agents will be, it makes sense to be mindful of which commercially grown fruits and vegetables you are willing to put in your shopping cart.

This information is being presented for your personal knowledge and awareness. I think it is unrealistic to expect that an individual is going to be able to switch to all organic food choices overnight. We tend to approach change in an all or nothing manner in our culture. It makes sense to integrate changes slowly so you can look to your internal compass and feel out what is a fit for you in your life. The message at, "Through Thick & Thin" is one of personal empowerment. We want you to start questioning advertisements. We hope you will begin to lift the veil from the pretty package that 'Big Food' is peddling. What does the content really look like when you get behind the slick advertising campaigns and media hype? No one knows what is better for your body than you. Our mission is merely to share information. It is up to you how you choose to apply what you learn.

At "Through Thick & Thin" we support a HAES approach. We don't believe in diving headfirst into making life changes. If organics is something that interests you, we suggest you begin by dipping your toes in and testing the waters. We'll start simply by addressing which fruits and vegetables are important to purchase organic in order to reduce your exposure to pesticides. We are sharing the biggest pesticide offenders out of respect for those of you who may be on tighter budgets. After all, it costs more to produce organic crops. The production cost hikes are passed on to you when you head to the supermarket. It makes sense to share which conventional produce selections you can get away with purchasing in order to save some cash.

I do want to share a little insight though on how our consumer dollars can have an impact and subsequently drive down the price of organic foods so they can be affordable for everyone, indiscriminate of economic bracket. I live in the San Francisco North Bay Area in the heart of the Wine Country. People are passionate about whole foods and organics in these parts. In fact, the SLOW food movement is pressing forward full-steam ahead in my corner of the world. It is common for people in this area to purchase local whenever possible and to put money back into the hands of community farmers. In Sonoma County there is a major chain grocery store, Oliver's Market. They feature a wide variety of foods, both factory and organically produced. Since the consumers in this area largely favor organic produce, it has lowered the profit margin between organic and conventionally produced fruits and vegetables. In essence, the price of organics has been driven down to the extent that there is little cost variance between organic and factory farmed produce. The margin has become so slim in fact, that Oliver's Market is considering going all organic with their produce section. Now that is consumer power in action!

While I recognize that not everyone may currently be able to afford organic foods, if those of us who can shell out the cash did our part, we could help lower the cost of these wholesome foods for everyone. We can collectively change the world by pitching in and doing what we can. It sounds idealistic, but it's true. Small changes lead to major results. I share this story to illustrate that we do have the power to create a shift in our current food climate. If we each had a sense of personal responsibility to do our part, lasting change would become our new reality. Our dollars are the vote that counts the most in this consumer-driven society. Keep that in mind the next time you are at the grocery store. Even if you can only pick up one or two organic items, you are doing your part to make a difference. We can take our power back from the media and 'Big Food' corporations... one bite at a time.

Fruits and Vegetables Containing the Highest Level of Pesticides
*Buy organic whenever possible.
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Imported grapes
  • Red raspberries
Want a side of ethylene oxide with your fresh strawberries and whipped cream? How about a generous dollop of para-dichlorobenzyne on that baked potato? Or would you rather enjoy a ripe juicy peach as nature intended... pure and simple. No added fillers needed. The choice is yours.

The Fresh Seasonal Bounty of Spring

Spring has sprung, ushering in a wider variety of fresh seasonal fruits and veggies for our enjoyment. Having this kind of selection is like a breath of fresh air! Make some room on your plate for the great produce available this season. Be sure to bring a bouquet of spring blooms into your home to invite a splash of color and cheerfulness into your world.


Spring Seasonal Veggies (March-April-May)
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Belgian endive
  • Broccoli
  • Butter lettuce
  • Chayote squash
  • Cherimoya
  • Chives
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • English peas
  • Fava beans
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Morel mushrooms
  • Mustard greens
  • Pea pods
  • Ramps
  • Rhubarb
  • Snow peas
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Spring baby lettuce
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Vidalia onions
  • Watercress

Spring Seasonal Fruits (March-April-May)
  • Apricots
  • Honeydew
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Limes
  • Lychee
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries

Spring Seasonal Blooms (March-April-May)
  • Agapanthus
  • Amaryllis
  • Anemone
  • Birds of Paradise
  • Cherry blossom
  • Daffodil
  • Dahlia
  • Freesia
  • Heather
  • Hyacinth
  • Orchids
  • Peony
  • Rose
  • Sweet Pea
  • Tulip
  • Zinnia

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"The Journey" By, Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Raising Love for Japan

Yesterday I went to my ANAD group for the first time in months. Barbara Murphy, the therapist who leads the sessions, always opens group with a meditation. It helps us come into our bodies and leave whatever was pulling at us before stepping into the room behind so we can receive the healing we need. It's a way to center ourselves and call our attention to the present.

During yesterday's meditation Barbara led us into our hearts. She then asked us to open up space within our hearts to hold all those being affected by the devastation in Japan, sending them love. It was very powerful to feel the reality that we are all interconnected. Distance does not separate us. What affects one, affects the whole.

It is the web of life. When one intricate thread is altered the entire web is forever changed. As I sat there in meditation breathing into my heart, I could feel the expansiveness of connecting with those in Japan, clear across the globe. The experience brought me to tears. It sounds rather esoteric but in that moment it was very tangible. I could feel the presence of their suffering... filling my heart... filling the room I was sitting in thousands of miles away in California.

At first, I felt a little self-conscious. I'm highly sensitive. Only recently have I started to embrace this quality as a blessing and not a hindrance. I tend to feel very deeply and have been ridiculed for my sensitivity in the past. I was surprised when I opened my eyes to see that there were many who shared this experience. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. The group was shedding their tears openly. So many of us felt this connection and were emotionally impacted by it. This feeling has stayed with me.

In the space of a quiet moment, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Leave behind the cares or concerns that have been weighing heavily on your mind. For this moment, simply be here. Come into your body. Breathe deeply into your belly. Follow your breath in and out. Notice the temperature of the air as it enters your nostrils. Sense how the temperature of the air changes on the exhale. Feel your clothes resting upon your skin. Become aware of the chair you are sitting on. Notice how it supports you... how you can let your body go and feel held. Feel your feet planted on the ground. Become aware of the way your soles connect you to the earth.

Once you feel fully in your body... in your experience... breathe into your heart. Imagine the breath opening your heart wide like a beautiful white rose unfurling its petals. Feel your heart expanding with each inhale. Allow each exhale to release whatever you are holding that is now ready to be surrendered. See if you can create space for those in Japan. Bring them into your heart. Acknowledge their suffering and flood them with the intention of your love. Envision your heart embracing all of those who have been touched by this tragedy. Stay in this moment, raising love and healing energy for as long as you feel comfortable. Notice what this brings up in you.

This practice is beautifully paired with the Tibetan Loving-Kindness Meditation. As you breathe into your heart and open this center first speak words of blessing to yourself...

May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.

May I be free of mental suffering or distress.
May I be happy.

May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
May I be healthy and strong.

May I be able to live in this world happily,
peacefully, joyfully, with ease.

Then, expand your heart to hold those suffering in Japan and all their loved ones throughout the world. Continue to breathe into your heart as you recite the following blessing...

May all beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously...

Repeat this blessing like a mantra, over and over, until you feel the fullness of the world in your heart. Then add this blessing...

May all beings in Japan and their loved ones live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.

Repeat this blessing until your heart overflows with love. Know that you have contributed your healing energy to those in need.

Japan needs lots of love right now. We each can do our part to send love their way. Love shared is always returned to the sender. In this way we are reminded of the interconnectedness of all things. Love has no limits.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Path of Kindness - ED Recovery Through Self-Care

Self-care is the cornerstone of eating disorder recovery. It is essential to learn new ways to cope in order to move beyond food and body obsession. Notice that I say cope and not distract. The very nature of eating disorder is rooted in disconnection. In order to heal, a foundation of support needs to be cultivated that allows us to feel held through difficulties, while keeping connected to our experience and emotions.

In order to enter fully into recovery, the eating disorder identity needs to be shed so the authentic self can emerge. This requires us to make the long journey from our heads, into our hearts. As we explore our interests and passions, we align with our purpose. When we dare to dream, we discover who we truly are and find our feet firmly on the heart-centered path. Rather than tightening our grip and continuing to cling to the notion that our issues are caused by food or the size of our bodies, we need to recognize that these distortions exist because of a deep call within us for something more meaningful. What our souls really long for is connection and fulfillment. Our eating disorder issues are merely a representation of these needs going unmet.

As we learn to respond through self-care when faced with potentially triggering situations, our reactive attachment to the eating disorder falls away. We find empowerment in our ability to face any issue with a spirit of love and receptivity for the teaching inherent in the experience.

It can be challenging to think of alternatives when feeling overwhelmed. I have found it helps to have some self-care options in mind before stress strikes. Consider the list below tools for your toolbox. The next time you feel triggered, instead of turning to the dysfunction of eating disorder, empower yourself with self-care.

~55 Ways to Nurture Self-Care~
  • Go for a stroll in nature.
  • Listen to your favorite music and dance like no one's watching.
  • Sing your heart out.
  • Write a letter expressing bottled-up emotions. Then release the letter by safely burning it, or burying it in the ground as a symbolic act of surrendering the issue.
  • Rewrite the story of a painful experience in your life. In the retelling, give yourself the opportunity to say all those things you weren't able to express at the time.
  • Visit or call a friend who truly loves and supports you.
  • Paint your feelings on a canvas.
  • Mold your intangible emotions into something you can see and feel by working with clay.
  • Using push-pins chart a course of all the places you would love to travel on a world map.
  • Create space to dream.
  • Light candles in a darkened room and listen to Loreena McKennit, Mazzy Star, Deva Premal, Mozart, or any music that stirs your soul.
  • Breathe slowly and rhythmically into the places you are holding in your body. Notice how the breath dissolves the tension and frees up space for emotional release.
  • Experience the healing power of touch. Treat yourself to a massage.
  • Slather on a luxurious body butter, sending love to every part of you.
  • Slip a bath bomb into the tub and immerse yourself in a soothing soak.
  • Indulge in a foot rub with a relaxing aromatherapy oil.
  • Get crafty by exploring a creative hobby that has always interested you such as, beading, designing mandalas, woodworking, or knitting.
  • Put together a scrapbook that chronicles your journey into recovery. Let it inspire you to see how far you have come.
  • Make a vision board. Create a collage to call in your heart's desires.
  • Enjoy the silence... surrender your worries to meditation.
  • Get all decked out just for the fun of it and treat yourself to a day on the town.
  • Find comfort in a warm cup of tea shared with a good listener.
  • Light incense and allow its scent to carry your prayers to the heavens.
  • Take your pup for a walk. If you don't have a pooch of your own, offer to walk the neighbor's dog.
  • Get organized. Sort through your belongings. Collect clothes to donate. Clear out what has served its purpose and is no longer needed. Decorate your abode with some warming touches. Do so with intention, visualizing welcoming in the new as you release the old.
  • Go on a road trip. Adventure down new roads. Go where you have never gone before.
  • Invite a friend over and treat each other to a makeover. Let your new look represent the true you... the person you are now allowing yourself to be.
  • Invite friends over for a slumber party reminiscent of the ones you had as a teenager.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Curl up in bed for a cozy nap.
  • Steep in a jacuzzi.
  • Pamper yourself with beauty treat like a facial or a mani and pedi.
  • Go on a walk with camera in hand and take photos of the sights that inspire you.
  • Head out for a bike ride and explore uncharted paths.
  • Take a dip at the local pool.
  • Visit the woods or the ocean and experience the grounding energy.
  • Make a list of affirmations and read them out loud to yourself whenever you need a boost.
  • Leave it all on the mat. Release with yoga.
  • Cash in on kisses and hugs from loved ones when you need them most.
  • Spend time with your pet.
  • Capture your experience with a soundtrack. Put together a mixed CD of songs that describe what you are feeling at this time in your life. 
  • Relax with a hot shower. Imagine the water washing away your worries. 
  • Browse in a bookstore. What titles are you drawn to? How do you think this speaks to your current situation?
  • Head downtown for a cup of coffee and some people watching.
  • Visit a museum. Let yourself be inspired by the creative expression of others. What pieces speak to you? What feelings do they provoke? Can you connect these emotions with your current experience?
  • Read your favorite book from childhood to remind yourself of simpler times and the magic of imagination.
  • Have someone you love brush or braid your hair.
  • Punch a pillow to let go of anger.
  • Have a good cry. Feel the relief of letting go.
  • Pleasure yourself.
  • Make a cuddle date with your mate with no expectations for it to lead to more.
  • Grab your crayons and color in a coloring book. Feel free to scribble outside the lines.
  • Start a gratitude journal. Each night before turning in list at least three blessings that graced your day. When you are having a rough time, read through your journal to remind yourself of how much you have to be grateful for.
  • Have a pajama day. Lounge about in your cozies guilt-free and do a whole lot of nothing.
  • Treat yourself to a beautiful bouquet of flowers to remind yourself that love begins with you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The New Face of Fat

Holly Madison is most known for her roles on "The Girls Next Door" and as Hugh Hefner's former leading lady. She has now made a name for herself starring in her own E! Reality Show, "Holly's World". The reality series follows Ms. Madison's adventures in Sin City where she stars in "Peepshow" on the Las Vegas Strip. The striptease revue requires Holly to show a lot of skin. According to "Peepshow" producers, she's had a bit too much skin to show off as of late.

Producers slammed Holly for her weight, pressing her to trim the fat. She was accused of lowering "Peepshow" standards because of the 15 lbs. she put on since her move to Las Vegas. Holly was rather resistant to suggestions she should go on a diet, citing her love of french fries and body pride as grounds for dismissal of such a ridiculous proposal. As the story often goes in the entertainment industry, she eventually succumbed to pressure to trim down in order to appease "Peepshow" producer's demands and one can speculate, to save her job.

Ms. Madison did need to have one last word before relenting and did so in a bold way, posing in a bikini sans photoshop in the current issue of Life & Style magazine. Holly wanted to send the message that she is comfortable with her body stating, "I've always had a butt, and I want to keep it - cellulite and all. I'm proud of my body."

While I think it's admirable that Holly embraces her imperfections, I can't help but wonder what kind of message this really sends, particularly to young girls. Clearly, it's obvious that Holly Madison is hardly what you would call fat by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, at a height of 5'7" weighing in at a mere 115 lbs., Holly falls into the underweight category by nearly a dime. Her "Peepshow" producers want to see 15 of those pounds gone. Once again, this is a case of media promoting both an unrealistic and unhealthy body ideal.

Eating disorders are influenced by a wide range of genetic, environmental, and societal factors. Media, a multi-billion dollar industry, bears a fair share of the brunt for the perpetuation of distorted body images. How are impressionable young women supposed to feel about their bodies when the bar has been set so unrealistically high?

Unfortunately, as long as there is demand for these images, they will continue to exist. What is needed is a collective wake-up call. We, as consumers, have the power to impact media directly. Through conscious consumerism we can turn the tide. Every time we make a purchase, we cast a vote.

The next time you are at the grocery store contemplating picking up the latest issue of that fashion magazine, think twice. What message does the publication promote? Is this message in alignment with your values? Do you have subscriptions to magazines that support an unrealistic beauty ideal? What is keeping you from canceling those subscriptions? Are diet books lining your shelves? What DVDs are in your collection? Think of the influence this constant bombardment of distorted messages is having on you.

Be particularly mindful if you are a parent. How do you think these images influence your children? If you don't know... ask. Their feedback may surprise you. Honestly look at where your dollars are going. How do you feel about the purchases you make? Do they reflect your truth? If not, don't you think it's about time they did?

If more of us engaged this level of awareness when making purchases we could greatly shift the current trend in a more positive direction. Change doesn't happen overnight, but it is possible. Let's start a movement, one purchase at a time. Join "Through Thick & Thin" by spreading the word in your community. Bring this message into your local schools. Write about it on your blogs. Do your part to pass it on.

Together we can create a world where diversity is appreciated. The change begins with us... in our homes, our communities, and the choices we make.

What will you choose?

Yoga for Depression - A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga

I'm currently reading a book that is having a powerful impact on me. "Yoga for Depression - A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga" By, Amy Weintraub is a wonderful resource for anyone going through tough times.

When my marriage fell apart, I found I defaulted to that old ED mindset. I downplayed my experience and put on a brave face. I wore a mask of self-confidence. I talked the talk. When my disassociation wore off I was confronted with the emotional reality of my situation. Inside, I felt like I was crumbling... falling apart at the seams.

I think initially, I was in complete shock. The unravelling of my marriage was brutal and abrupt. I was completely blindsided. The level of betrayal was intense. I was left reeling... wondering who was this man I had been sharing my life with for 13 years and even more so... who the hell was I to have been so unaware of what was staring me in the face all along? My life was in crisis... a crisis I continue to emotionally sort through.

The experience was confusing, disorienting, and devastating. Despite my attempts to remain positive and upbeat, I knew the piper had to be paid. I could not ignore the truth of my situation, nor the gravity of my feelings. I spent months in grief. I continue to grieve and feel very much like what I refer to as "my young self". It's almost as if I am pushing the restart button on my life and have to learn everything all over again.

Not wanting to carry any baggage into my future, I've been sitting with the discomfort. It hasn't been easy. The nature of my situation has been somewhat isolating. That in and of itself has been tremendously difficult. I have not been able to attend my weekly ANAD group or eating disorder therapy for three months now. I didn't realize what a tremendous support this had been for me until that very support was stripped away.

It didn't take long for me to realize that I was falling into a depression. I felt hopeless and try as I might to look for the silver lining, all my eyes could take in were skies of gray. Each morning I woke with this painful sinking feeling in my chest and wondered how on earth I was going to drag myself through another day. Nothing gave me pleasure anymore. I felt like I had been cast as an actor in my own life. The show had to go on and I needed to put on my game face. Circumstances were calling on me to hit the ground running and keep it glued together. This only made me more aware of my pain because I felt inauthentic and yet, to some degree showing a stiff upper lip to the rest of the world was necessary. I couldn't allow myself to collapse into the grief. I had to continue to function.

I did my best to keep it moving. I stayed in contact with friends and family. I continued to come to the "Through Thick & Thin" forum for support. I made sure to spend time outdoors to be reminded of the cyclical nature of life even on days when all I wanted to do was pull the covers up over my head and sleep away the pain. One day when I was downtown, I popped into a used bookstore and came across this amazing book. Desperate for a solution to this dismal fog that had blanketed my entire life, I decided to purchase it. I had nothing to lose.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who has been struggling with hard times and bitter tea. The woman who rung me up commented that it had been a really rough start to her new year. She had eyed this book when it first came in. In fact, so many people I know are going through difficult transitions. We're talking major paradigm shifts... no small potatoes. I've heard of so many marriages and long-term relationships disintegrating. People have lost their careers, their homes, their faith. There seems to be a universal theme of upheaval running through the lives of so many. It is time to discern what is meaningful. When I intuitively tap into this collective shift I feel it is a call to move away from fear and to align ourselves with love. An awakening drawing us back into our hearts so we may live from that wide open emotional space. We are creating authentic lives and casting aside all the 'shoulds'. Each of us, in our own way, are coming into our truth and living from that space.

Of course, in making this choice our entire lives come up for review. Whatever is inauthentic and not in alignment with the integrity of our heart's truest desires will be surrendered.... willingly with grace, or fiercely with resistance. Nothing can avert the fire of truth from burning away what is false when you choose to follow your heart. It can be tough because this choice calls us to confront our shadow and all that is the mirror opposite of love... our fear, attachment, insecurity, feelings of worthlessness... everything that creates a barrier between who we have settled to be and who we were born to be.

"Yoga for Depression" has been a lifesaver for me. I cannot express how much this compassionate book has lovingly held me through these soul-stretching times. It's a must read for anyone facing a major life transition and certainly valuable for those who have struggled with chronic depression. The author, Amy Weintraub, suffered with clinical depression for many years. Through the path of yoga and meditation, she was able to recover. In fact, she has not had a depressive episode or the need for medication since 1989. Amy has maintained her recovery even in the face of crisis which inevitably surfaced in her life over the years since she came to the path of yoga.

She now teaches at the Kripalu Institute and works with people struggling with all degrees of depression... from depression brought on by traumatic events and painful experiences, to the severity of bi-polar disorder. The people Amy works with are claiming recovery through yoga , leaving pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, and doctor's visits behind.

It is an immensely inspiring book that teaches step by step how to create your very own therapeutic yoga and meditation practice to combat depression. Amy authentically shares her personal story and struggles with depression. Her truthfulness in expressing the challenges she has faced allows her compassion to come shining through. I highly recommend this read. I wanted to share the following excerpt in order to capture the essence of this heartfelt book that has been helping me in my own life transition...

Let's return to my therapist's couch in Providence, Rhode Island, twenty years ago. "Empty pockets," she said. I felt she was dooming me to an unsatisfying life in which no matter how much I loved and was loved, no matter what I achieved, I would always yearn for more. Today I understand that sometimes my pockets feel full to overflowing, that I have abundant energy, abundant love, and a solid sense of self that is rooted in the knowledge of my wholeness, my feeling that I am not separate from the universe. When I forget who I am, I have only to return to my Yoga mat to remember. But I also understand that though those pockets are chock full of blessings, from time to time they can still feel empty. It is my embrace of that emptiness that brings me closest to the truth of being human. I would never wish for a life without pain. Pain is my teacher; it is what allows me to feel the suffering of others. I rejoice that I have a heart big enough to break over and over again. And because I can accept the emptiness I sometimes feel, I have learned that it is in my yearning that I am most fulfilled. The thirteenth-century mystic and poet Rumi said, "When you look for God, God is in the look in your eyes." Empty pockets are our reality, the source of both our suffering and wholeness.

~Excerpt from "Yoga for Depression - A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga" By, Amy Weintraub  


There's No Place Like Om

Our point of power is the present moment. Meditation is a gateway to the now. Some of you may have experienced the sweet surrender of meditation. Others may view this practice as inaccessible, completely foreign, or mired in religious dogma. I want to clear up any misconceptions by reassuring those who have these concerns that meditation is completely approachable for anyone. Although some religions incorporate meditation into their spiritual practices, the art of self-inquiry is not in and of itself, a religious act. What is meditation then?

Meditation is like making a direct call to your sacred self. It is a way for you to dance below the surface and come into contact with your deeper knowing. It allows you to experience the wonder of being the calm eye in the center of the storm... finding peace amidst the chaos of life. It is a practice that facilitates decompression and release. A path leading to serenity and grounding.

Besides all the numerous internal rewards, there are many health advantages gleaned from engaging in a regular meditation practice. Some noteworthy benefits of meditation are:

- Lowered blood pressure

- Stress reduction

- Improved exercise tolerance in cardiovascular patients

- Reduced anxiety

- Relief from muscle tension and headaches

- Improved mood through increased serotonin production significantly aiding the alleviation of depression

- Therapeutic value in the case of chronic disease and pain management

- Beneficial for post-operative healing

- Soothing effect on PMS, lessening symptoms

- Invigorating effect on the immune system

- Provides a sense of emotional stability and calm

- Proven to be a highly effective adjunct to eating disorder therapy 

As you can see, meditation is a practice that can enhance your life and state of well-being on multiple levels.

How do you meditate?

Find a place where you can have some peace and quiet. Not a lot of time is required. Even 10 minutes alone to yourself where you do not have to worry about being disturbed by intrusions can have a potent effect.

Settle into a comfortable position. For some of you, this will mean sitting cross-legged, or in a chair with a supportive back. Others may prefer to lie down. Do whatever makes you comfortable, including providing yourself with blankets for warmth, or pillows for cushioning and body support.

If you are seated, sit with your spine erect. Think of creating space in-between your vertebrae, as if someone is pulling a string up from the top of your head. Think lengthening. If lying, quickly scan your body and notice if there are any adjustments you need to make in order for your body to feel balanced and supported.

Close your eyes, let your tongue rest gently against the roof of your mouth, relax your lips so they are slightly parted, and begin to focus on your breathing.

Don't worry about trying to control your breath. Simply observe its movement. Notice the way it flows in and out of your body. Follow your in breath all the way down to your belly and then retrace its exiting path out of your nostrils on the exhale. Notice the temperature of the air as it enters your body on the inhale. Does the temperature change on the exhale? Pay attention to any places that the breath gets stuck or seems to be obstructed. Bring awareness to those areas of your body and continue to breathe into the tightness and tension. Imagine your breath going into the stuck places... behind, before, above, below... visualize the air encircling this area of physical holding. Allow the breath to slowly thaw these frozen places like an ice cube melting in the heat of the sun. Find your personal rhythm and settle into deep, relaxing nose breathing.

Come into your body... have an in-body experience. Feel the surface you are sitting upon. Sense the way it supports you. Notice how your clothing rests against your skin. Pay attention when your mind wants to take you out of this experience and gently draw your attention back to the moment... simply observing. Feel your feet resting against the floor if you are sitting in a chair. Note how the back of the chair presses gently against your ribs when you inhale. Take in the sounds and smells in your environment. Simply show up and be here in this moment. When distractions come, notice how your minds reacts. Where do you go? There is nothing for you to do... nowhere to go. Sink into the present and allow yourself to experience it fully on a multi-sensory level.

When thoughts come up, let them surface and float by like a leaf in a stream. You may become caught up in mental chatter. Sometimes, when we become very quiet we are able to witness how loud our minds are. Practice non-attachment. Rest easy. Your busy thoughts will silence the more you allow them to simply 'be'. No need to get wrapped up in creating a storyline. Let your thoughts ebb and flow without engaging them. Be the witness in silent observation, bringing your attention back to the experience of feeling, sensing, intuiting.

Sometimes using a mantra, or word that has personal meaning, internally repeated over and over again can help you focus. You could choose a common mantra such as "om". Even a simple word or phrase like "love" or "I am peace" can help you center. When intruding thoughts surface, allow them to be surrendered to the repetition of the mantra you have chosen. This practice is particularly beneficial for beginners.

Spend as much time in meditation as you like. There are no rules or set times you must remain in quiet reflection. Tune in and flow with what feels right for you.

I can't stay still! It drives me nuts! Maybe meditation isn't for me.

Many feel this way when first approaching meditation. We are used to disconnecting. Meditation is the fast track to connection and initially, this may cause feelings of discomfort, uneasiness, or agitation to arise. Often this leads to the abandonment of the practice before the reward of self-inquiry is ever experienced. Be willing to be with the discomfort. I encourage you to allow several sessions for exploration before you decide that meditation isn't for you. Keep it simple and start from an approachable place. Maybe this means that you begin by practicing meditation for 2 minutes and gradually increase your time until you arrive at a place that feels supportive.

If you really find it a struggle to sit or lie still, you may want to consider walking meditation. This is when you go on a walk and match your gait to the rhythm of your breath. You can also use mantra with walking meditation. Use movement as an opportunity to develop body awareness. Feel your muscles working. Notice the way your foot makes contact with the ground as you take a step. Pay attention to your environment. Notice the smells in the air. Tune into the sounds around you. Become aware of the shapes, colors and textures of the natural environment you find yourself in. Sense the way the breeze kisses your face. Go on... have an experience. Really allow yourself the pleasure of feeling. Drink in this moment. This is meditation in motion and is equally beneficial as traditional approaches to meditation.

Explore the world of meditation throughout this week as a way to tune into your inner experience. Allow yourself to experiment with meditation in a variety of ways and discover which approach speaks to you. You may decide that this is a practice you would like to carry with you throughout your life, integrating time to turn within and connect each day. This simple practice has a way of filtering into each moment, infusing your experience with presence and awareness. The gift is the present. Show up and open yourself to receive.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Magic Is Afoot!

My cup runneth over... literally...

I love to go to this groovy little spot downtown. It's a funky shop that carries an eclectic mix of all things Goddessy. Milk & Honey boasts a lush Goddess lounge complete with plush velveteen love seats and cozy yoni pillows. Yes... you read right... yoni pillows...

Milk & Honey has become a sanctuary for me... a home away from home. I go there to vibe with other Goddesses for wise-woman conversation and soul-stirring synchronicity. I enjoy passing time doing readings with oracle cards as I sip away at my Hot Mama Chocolate with lavender and fresh whipped cream... Mother size please, or occasionally when I feel rather decadent, I'll splurge for the Crone size.

The other day I paid the lounge a visit and plopped down in my favorite spot awaiting the arrival of my hot cocoa. It was a rather ordinary day and I was going about my usual routine until something slightly magical entered the mix. Now mind you, you must be magically bent to catch the wee bits of Fairy dust that tend to sprinkle their way into otherwise ordinary moments. Remember, there are no ordinary moments, as Dan Millman once said. These magical moments are happening all the time, but most of us take them for granted... too wrapped up in our melodrama... the magic eludes us.

Maybe it is because I have been in a funk for months now with life seeming so worn and gray that I was able to capture this little pocket of light and hold tight to it. In the mundane I found hope. I tended the first flickers of optimism like the last flame of a fire on a cold winter's night. What is this magic I speak of?

It came into my field of awareness in a rather simple way (it often does), free of frills or embellishment. It would have been easy to miss, but my spidey-senses picked it up. As my cocoa was brought to me, it was on the verge of spilling over... filled to the brim. The lovely Goddess who prepared it for me apologized profusely telling me she always seems to fill the cup too full. I was warned that an urgent sip would be required to prevent overflowing. I was all too happy to oblige as I said, "Hey, I always welcome abundance!" The woman next to me responded, "Blessed Be!" And there, my friends, was the magic. The incantation had been spoken... so mote it be.

You see, in that instant, I issued an invitation. I placed my order with the Universe and stated rather clearly that I was open to receiving. This is how the cauldron is stirred. In these seemingly mundane moments, magic happens. If you are waiting for the bells and whistles, the opportunity to be a co-creator with the Divine will pass you by. Once in a blue moon you do get the big fanfare... it's true... but most of the time, pure magic is found in the tiniest of details. This was such a time. Remember...

Thoughts are things and carry the weight of responsibility.

I opened a gateway in my consciousness and from this moment forward my cup runneth over. The abundance greeted me a second time before I even stepped foot out of Milk & Honey. The same lovely lady who filled my cup so full earlier informed me that she was going to give me another cocoa on the house because she still had some leftover lavender and milk. Why let it go to waste? I couldn't have agreed more. I gladly accepted the offering as I said a silent prayer of gratitude to the Goddess for the abundance She was showering upon me.

My evening continued on like this. Instead of having to trudge up the hill on one of the most frigidly cold nights we've seen in a spell, I was offered a ride. I felt the gratitude swell within my heart. Such simple things... things most take for granted... were suddenly imbued with an otherworldly tone as if the entire Universe was conspiring to bless me. I felt my faith return. That faith was validated later that evening when my neighbor knocked on my door and gave me a gift of grapefruit-melon Italian shower cream as she said something about "wanting to spread good karma."

I went to bed with a warm feeling in the center of my chest... a place that had felt so cold and vacant for months now. Could it be the magic was returning? With thoughts of blessing dancing in my head I drifted blissfully into slumber.

As of tonight I can answer this inquiry with a resounding "Yes!" As I relaxed on my couch opportunity came knocking once again. The rapping on my door took me by surprise. I was not expecting any visitors. I swung the door open to see my friend Doug standing there, beaming. "I've brought you offerings and treats", he said.

I have not seen Doug since my marriage fell apart. He has known my husband since they were little kids so it didn't shock me when he fell away. I figured his loyalty would lie with my ex. It did sadden me though because over the past 13 years, Doug and I had become close friends. I'd missed his presence greatly over these difficult months. I invited him in and he gave me a big bear hug.

He unloaded the grocery bag that he brought with him, its contents revealing it to be somewhat of a care package...

Fresh hot chicken soup from Whole Foods with oyster crackers, a six pack of ginger beer, organic apple juice, gourmet sugar cookies from a local bakery, chocolate-dipped ice cream bars, and a box of Girl Scout Tagalongs.

It was so thoughtful, unexpected, and generous of him. I felt filled with gratitude. I could feel a surge of abundance permeating my every pore. His kindness literally brought tears to my eyes.

Earlier in the day I had pulled a card from one of my oracle decks. It read...


~Helpful Person~
"Someone wants to help you. Think of whom that might be, and initiate contact."

Doug picked the card up from my altar, looked at me and smiled saying, "Looks like your reading came true."

I now know that these are not random experiences, but a chain of events set into motion by a shift in my consciousness. Life will always make good on my requests. If I focus on lack, then I will always be lacking. If I'm constantly ruminating on what's missing, I will miss what's there. Everything my eyes see will seem vacant and void. Now my eyes see clearly the beauty all around me and it is so. Expressing gratitude in anticipation of needs fulfilled, everything needed is showing up for me. All I have to do is receive.

Being empty is not a bad thing. It is the birth of all potentiality. Anything is possible from a space of emptiness. That space of nothingness creates openness, welcoming in possibility and blessing. Yes, magic is afoot. Dare I say, it's time for a new adventure. Let the Magical Mystery Tour begin!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

You in?

I had an interesting conversation with my kids last week at dinner. They were saying I love you to eachother and to me. Then Ricky asked Isabelle if she loved herself. She got quiet and said, "I don't know". So I said, "Well, I love myself". She gave me a weird look like, it's ok to love yourself?

I said, "Well, I have a bunch of people around me that love me so much, why wouldn't I love myself? I am important and mean a lot to people in different ways. And of coarse I am responsible for myself and live with myself everyday. Why wouldn't I love myself?"

She thought on this for a min and smiled then said, yes, she does love herself. :)

Seems to me the world is so stuck on saying you have to have this "will power" to fit into this mold, this idea where everyone has to strive to be a certain way in this world. No?

Where is our self esteem!? Where is the self love, self care? Where is SELF! in anything we do? Will power makes it sound as though we are supposed to sit there and move objects with our mind if we look real hard at that object.

Craziness! I don't want my kids having a low self esteem. I want them to be confident in themselves. I don't want them to struggle the way I have. I feel, looking back over the years, I wasted so much time trying move things with my mind and allowing my self esteem to hit its lowest.

Lets start spreading the word. You ever hear of the movie "Pay It Forward"? It's a really good movie. I love the message behind it. If one person helps 3 people and each of those 3 people help 3 other people themselves, just watch how fast something can spread just by that one person helping 3 people.

It's great, really. So I am helping my 3 people, actually 4, including helping mySELF!

You in?

Let's start this! Let's all start kicking up our self care, our self esteem, our self love. How about some self respect?

Keeping the number 3 in our minds, how about each day think of 3 positive things... doesn't have to be about that particular day, but bring light into your day, ya know. Compliment yourself often. Start treating yourself as you would treat some one you are close to, love, respect, and admire.

We aren't all perfect. Let's stop comparing one human to another. Be different! Be unique! It can be done and I so can't wait to see you shine!

You can start paying it forward just by helping others change their train of thought. If some one is all down on themselves, break out of your shell and be a lil bird (lil birdy told me).

Get involved with people... just start spreading the light. I would love to get more involved in my community somehow. I don't yet know how, but one day... who knows when... it could happen.

Not everyone has some one close to them where they could feel worth something, ya know. Maybe the nursing home, or a local boys and girls club. Heck, why not even at the gym? Leave a post-it note on the mirror in the locker room.

Think outside the box and let's all encourage and support one another.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Amazing January Weight Loss

I posted this to my own blog but also felt a pull to share it here. I hope you'll like this, I see it as a refreshing antidote to all the diet related tosh in the media over the past month.

It’s nearly the end of January and I’d like to share with you the amazing weight loss I’ve had so far this month. It’s been a fantastic month and I’ve had far more success than I ever thought possible. At times it was hard, at times emotional, but I stuck with it and I’m pleased to announce my weight loss success publicly.

In January, I lost the following:

  • the anxiety about not being able to feign interest in a career in IT Service Management
  • the torment of trying to have a pristine house at all times
  • that Sunday afternoon/evening dread of going to a job which makes me feel dead inside the next day
  • the burden of believing having a job is the only way to pay the bills

I quit my job. I quit a 10 year career in IT. It pays well and it’s pretty secure. And I’ve just walked away from it.

I can honestly say I have not felt this good, this happy, relieved and positive about my life for a long time. I remember a Sunday afternoon at the end of last year when I was cleaning the bathroom, trying to get all my housework done before the treadmill of Monday morning started up again. A few bottles fell off the shelf into the bath. Nothing was broken, but I burst into floods of tears and shouted “I hate my life”.

I can say now that I love my life. The security has gone, but it’s been replaced by an excitement and positivity for the future that I’ve not felt in a long time. I feel as if I am finally living as the authentic me, and no longer living as what society says I “should” be.

My desire to overeat has fallen away. I’ve been working on this for a while now, and the desire to bolt to the fridge does still rear its head from time to time. The main place it shouted and screamed for attention was at work, sat in my battery cage desk, trapped and forced to perform tasks which I had no interest in or desire to do. As I work out my notice, this nagging voice which demands crisps, Mars Bars, toast – well anything I can lay my hand on really – has shrunk.

I do have plans for the future, and I will be sharing them here. But in the meantime, I just want to pat myself on the back for a great amount of weight lost in January. I look forward to shedding more , including self-doubt and anxiety, over the coming year.

ps – if you’re wondering where the amount of lbs I’ve lost/dress sizes I’ve dropped comes into it I’m sorry I have no idea. I don’t own a pair of scales and I’ve cut all the size labels out of my clothes. These numbers are simply not important to me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Simply Move

When you think of fitness, what images come to mind? If you are like most Americans, you probably have visions of sweat-soaked hard bodies hoisting weights and running like hamsters on the treadmill at the gym. As much as the evidence disputes the validity of the 'no pain, no gain' approach, it continues to be a fitness doctrine that the majority buy into. Part of this stems from trying to live up to a body ideal that is far from realistic. Another aspect factoring into this equation is our collective addictive need for instant gratification. We want more, better, faster results and we want them now. Unfortunately, our bodies do not punch clocks. It takes time to build a foundation of fitness. Willpower doesn't hold much sway over the laws of biology. What many sadly discover is that approaching fitness in this all or nothing manner is not only supremely unrewarding, it can also be detrimental to our health.

What is often overlooked is that over-exercise has the ability to trigger the feast or famine response in our bodies in much the same manner that starvation does. People scratch their heads in disbelief when in spite of restrictive eating and excessive hours spent in the gym, that picture of health they covet only seems to slip further from view. Here's the cold hard truth folks... intense exercise lacking a strong foundation of both practical and nutritional support only throws our bodies into crisis.

This is why many individuals find their motivation to exercise comes in stints. You can only keep up that break-neck speed for so long. Your enthusiasm wanes when working so hard produces little end benefit. Eventually, you will run out of steam. If you don't respect the communication of your body you can rest assured that it will demand you listen to its pleas. Your body will breakdown in hopes it will awaken a breakthrough in your consciousness. You'll hit the wall and experience subsequent burnout, or in some cases injury, that results from over-training.

Over-training syndrome is very real. Many people are unaware of this common condition that affects so many in our diet and exercise obsessed culture. Athletes understand intense training needs to be backed up by optimal fuel in the form of solid consistent nourishment. Furthermore, this level of activity cannot be sustained indefinitely. Athletes incorporate peak training for brief periods of time. Intense activity is built up to throughout the year through a training cycle that incorporates periodization, by focusing on different foundational components of fitness so the body can effectively respond to the increase in workload without courting injury, or diminishing athletic performance. Talk with any seasoned athlete and you will quickly realize that rest is an equally important component when it comes to optimal fitness. Your average gym rat will put themselves through punishing workouts over extended periods of time without adequate fuel due to restrictive dieting. Most gym goers do not take the time to ensure a strong foundation of fitness is in place. They continue to push ahead even though their body is demanding a timeout, falsely assuming that if some exercise is good, then more would certainly be better. Something is very wrong with this picture.

I see one of the main sources of the problem is a fundamental lack of knowledge when it comes to fitness. If you think about it, where have most people received their information about exercise? The answer is overwhelmingly, from the diet industry. The diet industry promotes the illusion of the quick fix. The hype is very seductive. In a culture that values thinness above all else, or in the case of men, a chiseled, fat-free physique, it's easy to get caught up in the hope of the speedy results these spin doctors promise.

This gives rise to an important question. How much is too much? Tune in and ask yourself the following questions...
  • Do you feel drained, washed-out, tired and unmotivated?
  • Do you experience chronic aches and pains, or soreness in your legs?
  • Do you have joint pain?
  • When you exercise are you finding your performance suffering? Is it becoming increasingly difficult to make it through your workouts? Do you feel as if you are getting weaker, rather than stronger, despite your efforts?
  • Are you having trouble sleeping, or are you experiencing insomnia?
  • Do you have frequent headaches?
  • Do you generally feel under the weather? Are you catching colds more frequently?
  • Have you noticed a decrease in your threshold for intense exercise? Does your body react to your workouts with an inflammatory response, leaving you in pain for days? Do you feel exhausted? Are you having trouble rebounding after your gym sessions?
  • Are you experiencing mood changes? Are you irritable?
  • Are you becoming depressed?
  • Do physical activities you once enjoyed no longer appeal to you?
  • Are you finding your appetite diminishing? Are you eating less and less?
  • Are you working through injury?
  • Do you feel a compulsive need to exercise? If you take a day off from working out do you feel guilty?
If you answered in the affirmative to several of these questions it is time to bring your relationship with exercise up for review. Individuals struggling with these issues have not only hit over-training syndrome, they have also headed into slippery territory where eating disorder may be a root issue. It is important to answer these questions honestly and address these areas if your responses give rise for concern.

Let's clear up any confusion. Unless you are a professional athlete, or have a sport that is your passion in life, there is no need for such intense training. Remember, even athletes rest and renew. In fact, they often work with a team of professionals who guide their training sessions. They receive plenty of support from physical therapists, coaches, nutritionists and sports medicine doctors who help them manage their training in a way that will not be depleting or damaging. How many of you have a team like this in your corner?

Moving your body should be a pleasure. It should be fun. If you are trying to survive your workouts, you will never develop a life-practice of fitness where you thrive. It's important that you begin to explore the kinds of movement you truly enjoy. If fitness is not a satisfying life-enhancing practice you will quickly find your enthusiasm dwindling. It's also important to think outside the box. Not all fitness is structured. Fitness can find its way into your day to day life experiences. I like to call these 'real life' workouts, or what scientists have dubbed, NEAT.

NEAT is an acronym for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. To simplify matters, NEAT is the movement you get in when you are living the rest of your life outside the gym, or the confines of structured workouts. Scientists have discovered a direct link between NEAT and physical well-being. One Mayo Clinic study found a correlation between a high NEAT factor and the body's ability to more effectively assimilate the energy from food. In essence, the key to being fit may be as simple as getting more daily movement into our lives sans gym.

Never in history have we been as inactive as we are today. Modern technology has provided us with many conveniences. These same conveniences have been somewhat detrimental to our health. Instead of getting up to turn the channel on the TV, we now use a remote. In fact, we have remotes for just about everything from stereo systems and garage doors, to something as simple as turning on and off lights. Rather than washing dishes by hand, we toss them in the dishwasher. We hop in our cars to drive to locations that are as close as a 5 minute walk away. We spend our time zoned out in front of the tube or the computer screen rather than being out in the world connecting with others and exploring our interests. We watch movies instead of enjoying days in the park. Kids play video games in favor of riding their bikes through the neighborhood.

If sweating it out in the gym was the route to wellness, we would be a nation of healthy people. Sadly, that's not the case. Our current rates of heart disease and diabetes speak volumes on the reality of our nation's state of health. Too many approach movement from the angle of trying to change the appearance of their body when really, it should be about feeling your best. There is no denying the beneficial effect of movement, but there is absolutely zero support for the idea that a foundational level of fitness can only be achieved in a gym, or by engaging in rigid workouts. We've all tried the conventional approach and it has fallen short. Instead of mindlessly adhering to the current fitness dogma, how about questioning these ideas we have been sold by a multi-billion dollar industry?

I encourage you to bring more NEAT into your life. Discover the benefit of natural movement. This may be the key to getting off the bench and back into the game of life. The following suggestions are easy ways you can boost your NEAT factor. Some of these tips also give back to the environment and stash money in the bank. Now that's a win-win for everyone...
  • Instead of driving, walk or bike to nearby locations.
  • Lower your carbon footprint by utilizing public transportation from time to time instead of always relying on your vehicle to get around.
  • Enjoy a walk on your lunch break even if it's just for a stroll around the block.
  • If you have a desk job, take mini breaks throughout the day. Get up out of your seat and stretch a little. Move around a bit.
  • Instead of e-mailing your co-worker, take the time to walk down to their office and speak with them in person.
  • Wash your dishes by hand.
  • Get up to turn the channel on your television.
  • Rather than disconnecting via TV, video games and the computer, get outdoors and bring back the simple pleasures of walks around the neighborhood, playing in the park with your kids, roller-blading the local paths, gathering together friends at the basketball court for a game of H.O.R.S.E, or enjoying a hike in nature.
  • Opt for the stairs over elevators and escalators.
  • Park at the far end of the lot when you go to the store.
  • Rather than eating out, cook a meal at home.
  • Turn on your favorite music and dance around the house while you do your cleaning.
  • Get out in your garden and dig in the dirt.
  • If you have a cordless phone, walk around a bit while talking.
  • Swap out a physioball for your usual desk chair.
These are a few ideas to get you started. Take a look at your life and see if there is a way you can build more movement into your day. You don't need to grind out taxing workouts. Simply use those feet of yours and get moving. With a little creativity and willingness you are sure to discover the many benefits that come from regular movement. Challenge your long-held beliefs about exercise and open yourself to experiencing fitness on a whole new level. Wouldn't it be great to free up some of that time you devote to the gym toward actually living your life? Give yourself the opportunity to find out just how wonderful it can be to move more and stress less.