Here is a letter that I wrote to my clients this week, so many commented how much it meant to them that I decided to share it with a wider audience. As I wrote this letter I felt like I was writing a bit to myself and I didn't realize how therapeutic it would feel. Because of this, I encourage you to take my same step, write a letter to "someone" about how things are, how you feel, thoughts, concerns, whatever comes to mind. Then feel free to send it or just rip it up. Either way, I promise you will feel better.
I wanted to take a minute and check in with everyone. It has been a while and I miss everyone. Although the studio is beginning to awaken, there are many faces I have not seen in some time. I hope you all are doing well, not just surviving, but thriving if that's possible.
We are living in tumultuous times which is not news to anyone. Lately I often feel like quoting Dickens... "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." And this is how it feels right now. There are so many challenges that we are facing each and every day, yet at the same time there is opportunity woven in there as well. We often need a reminder of this though as the challenges take center stage and it is easy to overlook the good.
As we come into the season of Thanksgiving I want to invite you to take the opportunity to focus on some silver lining moments that you have had through our COVID/election year. What are the changes you have had to make, either by choice or necessity during this time? How have they impacted your mental and physical health? If all you can think of is negative, switch your mindset and ask yourself 'What have I learned during this?' Maybe you don't see a glowing "perk" but if you examine what you have learned then perhaps you can see some benefit in that. I, for one, have learned a lot of lessons during this time and I am still being educated in many areas.
In addition, here is a reminder to take care of yourself. I know that you are hearing this a lot and your response may even be along the lines of "easier said than done" and I hear you. In fact I am there with you. There are more times than I care to admit that I spend sitting in a state of fear and worry. Keeping our sanity during times like these requires more than just a bubble bath and glass of wine (although those do sound fantastic). It requires us to go a little deeper. It requires us to move into a state of non-judgement, non-judgement towards ourselves and non-judgement towards others. Judgement is an easy outlet right now. We can point fingers and blame for the pain and hurt we feel. But what would happen if we all took a moment to think through our response in a situation rather than reacting. This isn't just to others, its also to ourselves. It is said that when we judge we are just looking in a mirror. Moving into non-judgement can be as easy as showing more kindness to yourself. The effect will be 10 fold. In fact, this is where the real work happens.
As you work through these thoughts remember, you don't have to do this perfectly. In fact I wouldn't expect any of us to ever be perfect. That's the beauty of this life. We are constantly growing as a person, evolving into a higher state of being. There are many bumps along that road.
And remember when all else fails, go to your mat. Maybe you just sit there, maybe you practice, maybe you take a nap. But continue to go back there. Build that consistency. Experience that grounding. Find your peace.
Have a wonderful week!
What a crazy moment in time we are experiencing. In another post I wrote today, I took the time to encourage everyone to pause and reflect on this moment. And for me when I pause then I start to think. I think about a lot, in fact, I over analyze and get myself worked up with my over-thinking. Today is definitely one of those days, in fact we could say its one of those weeks even. On my mind today, amongst so many other things, is a reflection of how our efforts to keep safe during COVID could impact our planet in a negative way.
When COVID started (I just love this phrase and I probably use it more than I should..) I thought that this was a fantastic opportunity for the earth to take a moment to breath. I felt like we would finally be able to have the opportunity to reverse some of the damage we have so rapidly been inflicting. I struggled in other areas around COVID of course, but I often took comfort in the idea of the earth renewing itself. Then as we started to slowly awaken, re-open and move around again, I saw the reverse take place. Our collective fear of this virus pushed aside any thought towards sustainability or conservation. Everyone shifted into survival mode. The phrase we would often hear was "we just have to get through right now.." This meant that suddenly plastic, whom we all had started to recognize as not so good, was welcomed back. We started covering everything in it. The reusable bags at stores- no longer allowed, back to- "paper or plastic?". Regular plates and utensils at a restaurant were replaced with plastic and styrofoam. Anywhere you looked items were starting to be individually wrapped in plastic. It is an understatement to say that plastic definitely worked its way back into our lives. Don't even get me started on not being able to use reusable cups and mugs.....Reusable was the enemy and disposable became our friend.
Another change.. suddenly ride sharing isn't a good idea and public transportation is frowned upon. So instead of clearing the roadways we added more cars back on.
Then we see the ma and pa shops who had worked so hard to bring home cooked and hopefully healthy food can barely keep their doors open as cars line up outside of fast food establishments.
Remember when we got so excited that people were actually getting outside again? That they were enjoying the outdoors? Well this is still fantastic of course, but we need to take a look at how people are enjoying those outdoors. ATV sales are through the roof. What does this mean? More fossil fuel usage and more emissions. I am not demonizing the use of these vehicles because we too own an ATV (the same one for the past 16 years) and we use it to haul wood, to pull fallen logs, and sometimes for a ride. So no, I am not ripping on their use, I am merely pointing out our skewed idea of what it means to spend time outside. Some people are on the right track and recognize the opportunity to do more camping, hiking and biking. This has increased ten fold (not a true statistic- I made this data up- no need to fact check). Many of these individuals are new to outdoor recreation and don't have the understanding of sustainability while doing these activities. They have their brand new or rented camper of some sort with their propane grill set up, they spray their bug fogger everywhere, light their tiki torches and settle in for a night of outdoor living. No one is actually roughing it except those that have been camping well before COVID started. And so many of these outdoor enthusiasts bring their plastic wrapped granola bars or plastic water bottles and let's just hope everyone is taking the time to separate out their trash and at least recycle.
In addition to all this, we start using hand sanitizer like its our one saving grace. For years now I have been fighting the use of excess hand sanitizer with my clients, emphasizing the importance of "good bugs" and keeping their immune system strong by cultivating the bacteria in and on their body. Now people are so fearful that they have actually resorted to trying to DRINK hand sanitizer, there are warnings now "not to ingest this product". Do I have hand sanitizer at my establishment? Absolutely! Do I use it? Absolutely. Do I use it in place of washing my hands? No! Do I use it unnecessarily out of fear and just because it's there. No! Washing our hands still does the trick and should be our first choice. For me I use hand sanitizer if I am in a situation where I can not wash my hands and I will be touching, or have touched surfaces that others will potentially touch within a window of time.
Obviously I have gotten off on a bit of a tangent and I might say a hypocritical one as well as I am also guilty of slipping in my eco ways and I have bought a plastic water bottle or two, and I certainly visit the coffee shop more than my wallet should allow. I also threw away things that could have been repurposed or re-homed. And I definitely have succumbed to convenience more than I want to admit. I justified some of these things as ways to support the businesses struggling, but most I did because my desire for whatever I wanted at the time superseded my need to support the planet.
As cranky as this post sounds it is actually meant to be a reminder to us all that it is time to snap out of it. We need to get back to being sustainable and mindful. We need to care for our planet again. Let's encourage the science over the fear and get back to taking care of our planet because if we don't it won't be able to take care of us.
Today seems like a good day to reflect and remember. It is also a good day to look forward to the future, as well as acknowledge the present. This day will forever be embedded in my memory and will forever fill me with a sense of pride for my country and for my countrymen. I realize that we are in a state of great unrest right now. We are battling a pandemic, dealing with challenges in our communities around racism and police brutality, we have wildfires devouring our forests and politicians devouring our media. Wearing a mask or not has suddenly become a political statement. Our children are battling each other on social media around their "political views" and I say that with air quotes because let's face it, most of our children end up just mirroring our own political inclinations. We have become communities of tattle tailors, calling in our neighbor for not wearing a mask or for having a gathering. We have become individual experts in areas of science, civics and history- areas that many of us have not researched or reviewed since our high school days if even then. The media is filled with hashtags to #standtogether #alonetogether #wewillovercome... the list goes on. But how many of us are actually listening to each other? How many of us are taking the time to try to understand another viewpoint? From where I see it, not as many as should.
This day brings us all together again. It reminds us of a time when none of our differences mattered, when we literally pulled each other from the rubble. Of course I say we collectively, I wasn't in New York that day and neither were my friends or family, but I felt that pain across the country and I shared that sorrow after. New York is the quintessential american city. It is the city we all romanticize about in one capacity or another. Movies are made about it, people travel there to pursue their dreams. Heck, I am not a fan of cities and even I have been there. That attack, which honestly feels like not that long ago, hit us all in our hearts and if there is one silver lining from the suffering that was endured not only that day but in the weeks, months and years following, is that it is a day we all share. It is not a holiday for one religion or a historical event that only favors half the population. This is an event that we can all remember and take a moment of silence for. This event binds us all and reminds us that despite our differences we are one nation and I hope that we can all strive to remember that.
Do you have that friend whom you can share anything with? Does he or she listen without judgement, give feedback if needed, or otherwise just lends an ear? I do and sometimes I throw a lot at her. In fact, I have a couple of friends that fit that profile. Great friends who are always there for me no matter what and they truly listen without bias or judgement, because honestly, they know I am already judging myself far more than anyone else ever could. Sometimes I even treat these friends like my diary. I send them my thoughts throughout the day, my musings, my introspection of the world and myself. I send them my opinions on current topics and my interpretation of popular science. I basically use them as an outlet for all the thoughts that ruminate in my head day in and day out. During the past few months I have had an extra amount of material to share and today was no exception. In fact, today I spent some time alone and therefore had even more time to cultivate theories and proclamations and what have you. In fact, about an hour ago as I was once again sending a long story like stream of text to Friend #1, I realized that I could be sharing these thoughts with everyone (I know, lucky you..). In fact some of the things that go through my head have some merit and are pretty profound and others might actually gain some insight into their own life from my over-analytic, hyper sensitive, silver-lining edged trains of thought (see you are getting wiser by the moment in reading my self-descriptive phraseology). So, here is the start of an occasional blog series that won’t gain its own heading, but will rather be occasionally titled My Daily Reflections. I know, super original and creative.
My Daily Reflections: Thursday June 25th, 2020
Today I had the opportunity to listen to three podcasts. Now, 4 months ago when I was driving back and forth to the hospital I was working at twice a week this would have been a regular Monday for me, however with all the changes and being furloughed for an extended amount of time I find myself rarely, if ever, listening to anything anymore. I am sure there is a deeper reason underneath this shift, just as it correlates and relates to so many other recent changes, but for now I am going to superficially say I am just too “busy” to listen to them. ANYWAYS….. The three podcasts I listened to all had a different theme but yet they all connected in some cosmic way.
The first one was about many things but a message I took from it was the danger of accumulation. Not just clutter in our homes although accumulation affects us on all levels and often the space around us reflects our internal state as well –(something to think about as you pile that mail up on the counter), but rather her focus was on the internal accumulation of poor habits and poor health. This leads into Ayurveda a bit in that disease is imbalance in the body and the build-up of ama (toxins from unhealthy lifestyle, pollution, and all sorts of other things). She discusses her own health journey in letting stress, success, chasing the dream, all these things accumulate into heart disease, fatigue, weight gain, and more. I found myself feeling a bit of kinship to her struggle. She discusses how success for the sake of success will only lead to disappointment. We need to seek happiness and fulfillment and let success manifest on its own into whatever form it wants to take, not the picture we see in our mind. This led me to think about attachment which has been a hot topic in my head the entire duration of COVID. I have never been forced to confront my attachments as much as I have these past four months. I finished that podcast thinking how attached we are to the picture that our ego paints of what our lives SHOULD look like rather than trusting the space and events that are happening to be part of a bigger plan. She talked about approaching things in life from a place of love of faith instead of fear. I especially like how she connected our current health and wellness efforts, although cloaked well in the guise of self-care, are often fueled by fear. Fear of old age, fear of death, fear of weight gain, fear of incapacitation. She was so right. No one ever comes to me and says, “Hi Jessica, I want to love myself more can you guide me on this journey?”. They say- “Please- my blood pressure is high, and my dad died of heart failure at age 50, HELP! What can I eat?” or “I’ve tried every diet, how can I lose the extra 20 pounds I have been carrying since my last baby?” I had honestly never looked at where their request stemmed from. Of course, I try to dig down with each patient and find what is inspiring them to make change, but I never thought about the fact that fear is the deep-down motivator for nearly everyone. See- PROFOUND! This is the actionable item I took away from this particular talk- I need to have better self-care that is truly about loving myself, not self-care focused the “outcome” of the act that was motivated by a desire to prevent something I fear. That is seriously deep there, I mean I brush my teeth because I don’t want cavities, I fear having bad teeth when I am older because I won’t be able to eat the foods I want, I will spend way too much money at the dentist, and ultimately my vanity gets the best of me every time. How can I now start brushing my teeth because I love my teeth? Can I even do that? It’s certainly something to reflect on…..
The second podcast I listened to was about acceptance. Which I thought complemented the prior message in that we can’t move forward with a life of love and faith and not of fear if we don’t have acceptance for where we actually are in our life. This podcast was a little shorter and was not an interview type like I so enjoy but rather the host giving his thoughts on what acceptance means to him and how he works every day to let that guide his behavior. He discussed how we can get through challenging times not by giving in or succumbing to a situation, but rather by accepting that things are what they are. We don’t have to agree or disagree, acceptance is about being in the moment and understanding that you may not be able to control or change the situation at that very moment but you can learn from it and not let it destroy you with worry or stress. This was a hugely important message for me, anyone who knows me knows that I worry so much you would think I was getting paid for it. I worry about the weather, I worry about the climate, I worry about current events, I worry about my kids, I worry about my extended and my immediate family, god knows I worry about my husband far more than I should, I worry about my pets, I worry about money, I worry about bears when I take a walk, I worry about bees when I work outside, I worry about cancer, I worry about heart disease, I worry about flesh eating bacteria, I worry about amoebas in a neti-pot, I worry about mold in coffee… (I think you get the point….). For me to sit in something and accept that it “is what it is” is honestly almost too difficult for me to even approach, but its good stuff and I know I need to work on it. I had a difficult time wrapping my head around how I could bring this into action, it seems easy enough- stop worrying, accept the moment- but it’s not that easy to take years of this accumulation (see how they connect….) of worry and way of thinking and just let it all go. IT should be that easy, but it doesn’t feel that way. I am practicing a little tonight, at least trying, I am the only one home right now, so this is when my worry is in full force. But I am working on trusting that everyone is ok. I even resisted the urge to drive a bottle of Benadryl to my daughter who is at a friend’s house because she called me and was stung by a bee. She’s fine but my worrying mind thought-‘what if she swells up and has a delayed reaction?’ I have no reason to think she would have an abnormal reaction to this sting, she was exhibiting no signs of severe allergic reaction, yet my fear (another connection to the prior podcast) and worry were so great that they consumed my thoughts and I got in the car with Benadryl and headed out. I did settle down in the drive and called her and realized she was just fine, and I was overreacting, I accepted that she was ok in the situation without my interference. That was HARD! So maybe I am doing the work, we’ll see. My big take away, aside from practicing acceptance as often as I can, is to do the work and follow up with some of the resources he shared. If you are interested in these resources I will share them at the end of the post.
Last but not least, the third podcast I listened to was much more current events focused. It was an interview with a reverend regarding us being in a state of two pandemics, the COVID pandemic and the racial pandemic. The discussion was very interesting and focused on how we are in the dawn of a new era on this planet and that we are all integral in the forward movement. He discussed the role that white people play and he called upon white people to dig deep into their ancestry and pull out the abolitionists and suffragists in ourselves during this time. He shared his views on how we are all important and we all need to participate in the changes that are occurring. He shared how recent events are different than past movements and what makes them more impactful. He discussed sharing love and forgiveness with our neighbors. He discussed the meaning of the word sacrifice and how we often need to remember that it is “to make sacred” and whenever we look at something as a sacrifice, we need to reflect how what we gave up made space for something great. Overall it was very uplifting and inspiring. My big take away from this was tied into the other two. I learned that I need to look at the accumulation of centuries of racism and how it has integrated its way into every system, I need to look for this, I need to be aware of it and work to educate myself, my friends, my family and most important, my children on this. I also learned that I need to find acceptance in these tumultuous times. Without acceptance I can’t open myself up to the beauty of what the future will hold. Without acceptance I will live in worry and fear and this will block me from doing the good work and moving forward. Above all though, this reverend reminded me that I need to continue to learn about racism and to stop defending myself in it (more acceptance- see it’s all so connected!!).
So much I know! If you made it to the end, I applaud you. I’m not even sure I will make it to the end for a re-read. In fact, aside from a quick spell check, I don’t think I’m going to edit this post. I wrote it all in one sitting and usually those are my favorite pieces to share. I’m sure there are errors and it’s probably not the most well written post online today, but it feels real, it feels raw and that’s kind of what we need right now. We don’t need things fancied up and made to look pretty. We need to see what is really there, what people are feeling, what they are experiencing. That’s how we move forward, with transparent honesty and acceptance of each other.
Resources- The three podcasts I listened to today were all from The Broken Brain podcast with Dhru Puroit and the resources I wanted to share from him are:
Book by Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth
www.thework.com – Byron Katie, and her book is titled “I Need Your Love- Is That True?”
Travel is one of the most spectacular things we do. It introduces us to new people, new places and a whole new experience in culinary delights. Travel affords us the opportunity to sample everything from crisped insects in Indonesia to bulls testicles in Denver. Everywhere we go, we get the opportunity to try new and exciting things, but as fantastic as this sounds, it can also lead to overeating, unhealthy choices, and inevitably bringing home an unwanted souvenir of a few extra pounds around our middle. How does one manage this and still enjoy their trip? Is it possible to feel pleasure with the culinary aspects of a trip without sacrificing the pure joy of eating good food? Of course there is a way, it just takes a closer look at your choices and creating more balance with them.
Airport Food Choices- First and foremost don’t waste calories on airport food before you board. Either pack a healthy snack or if necessary get a light salad. Don’t get me wrong, I have had fantastic food in the airport and I do love eating and drinking during a layover, however the food in airports tends to be expensive, is not necessarily cooked for health and can be overly salted to enhance the flavor. If you need/want to eat before the flight and have access to Delta SkyClub or some other club status I highly recommend you take advantage of this. They usually offer some healthier choices and most often have vegan options as well. They are buffet style so you only take what you want, and they include a place to comfortably relax between flights. You can also fill your water bottle, have a small glass of wine and chill before take off. However, do not take the “all you can eat” as an excuse to eat more. Whenever I eat at a buffet I try to imagine that I am paying for each dish and each glass of wine. This can help keep it into perspective. Resist that urge to “Get the most for your money”- you are in sky lounge, act like VIP and pretend like it doesn’t matter if the food is free.
If sky club is not an option for you, then try to eat before your flight and pack a light snack for in flight to carry through security. Remember to make sure you follow TSA rules on what you bring through.
Prefer to eat at the airport still? Then find a restaurant or café near your gate to have something light, lower in carbs (since you will be sitting you do not need the extra energy from added carbohydrates) and a good source of protein and vegetables (the first will help you feel full and the latter will give you fiber to help manage travelers constipation).
Inflight meals- If you are preparing for a long flight and meal service is part of your passage, then order the vegetarian option. This usually means you will be served more vegetables which many times correlates to “healthier”. Sometimes these choices are a bit fresher as well.
If you are not seated in a cabin that has meal service, then it is a good idea to purchase something to bring on board rather than settling for the inflight options. Airports have come a long way from plastic wrapped sandwiches in a stand-up cooler. Depending on where you are leaving from you can get anything from sushi to a gourmet salad in an eco friendly compostable container. Make sure you are mindful of the smell of your food and its always wise to avoid bring peanuts on board as you may not know of potential peanut allergies in flight. Also make sure you drink plenty of water the days leading up to your travel so that you are well hydrated for your flight and for when you arrive in your location. It is inconvenient to have to go to the bathroom in flight, but it is also very important to stay hydrated while flying as this is important for feeling your best when you land.
Drink plenty of water while in the air and even ask for a hot tea while in flight to help keep your fluids moving through your system. If you brought food with you, time your meal when it is most in line with what a normal eating time would be. It’s always important to keep as normal of hours as possible while traveling, this includes meal timing.
Once you land - Make sure you drink plenty of water, again (notice a trend here??). Depending on the time that you land and the type of travel you are doing will determine when, what and if you should eat a meal right away, or fast until the next day. If you have a long vacation planned, are traveling solo and/or arrive at your destination later in the day it may be a good idea to just settle into your dwelling, drink some more water (J ) and get an early night’s rest. This will give your system an opportunity to refresh and restore before your vacation begins. If you have a very short trip where every moment counts, and/or if you arrive early in the morning to your destination, then settle into your routine and eat at the next appropriate meal time.
Eating while on the trip-
Once you have settled in and woken up fresh in your destination it is time to enjoy yourself -NOT to stress about food choices. However, pick which meals you plan to indulge and which meals you can be more mindful at. Perhaps alternating this over the course of each day is a good way to have opportunity to explore different options at different meals. Sometimes it is so decadent to sit down to the richest most decadent breakfast you can think of, or maybe you are traveling where there is a world-renowned donut shop. Why WOULDN’T you have one?? Balance would mean that this is not the day to also have that triple chocolate cake you eyed up at one of the restaurants on your list.
Another tip is to alternate your more indulgent meals with added activity. Take a walk in the early morning, go to the gym at your hotel, plan some hikes if you are in a spot to do so, or go for a swim in the pool or ocean. Activity doesn’t negate unhealthy food choices, but it does allow your body to use the energy from those foods in a better way.
Try to avoid snacks while traveling, unless of course it suits the time and place, in which case make sure that you balance those snacks with a lighter dinner. When choosing meals at your destination make sure that you try to choose foods that are local and special to the area. Supplement with nutrient rich accompaniments, these accompaniments are usually the diamonds in the rough. Traveling to the southern part of Portugal is not necessarily where you want to eat a burger with fries. This is where you want to try some octopus with a side of roasted olives. The burger and fries IS totally appropriate though for a trip to the American Midwest, especially if those fries and burger are sourced from a local farm. Try to avoid eating from chain foods while traveling and try to avoid all inclusive if at all possible. Travel should support the local economy of your destination, not hurt it. Research locally owned restaurants and visit these. Not only will you feel good about doing so but chances are the food will be far superior to anywhere else.
Drinking while on vacay- This is the area where most people slip up. Vacation equals relaxation and where I come from relaxation also correlates with having a drink. Now an argument could definitely be made that the area of change needs to be made in that association, but that is for a different discussion. Instead figure out what is the best way to balance alcohol intake in your style of travel. If you are traveling to watch a baseball game at Yankees stadium its completely appropriate and expected to indulge in some beers with your hotdog and popcorn. Same to say if you are traveling to the Valencian region in eastern Spain. A gorgeous glass of sparkling Cava would be wonderfully appropriate while you enjoy the setting sunset on your garden terrace and wait patiently for your traditional paella. The point is that this is the time to step out of your box. Sample Scotch while in Scotland, sip on Saki in Japan and toast a glass of whisky while in Tennessee. Ask for suggestions from the locals or your waitstaff.
Desserts while on vacation- I saved the best for last and appropriately so as dessert typically comes at the end of the meal. The best suggestion I can say (and this comes from an honest to goodness dessert fiend) is to do your research here. Sometimes you can go to a restaurant that has the most amazing steak in the world with Brussels sprouts grown in gardens on the roof, but their desserts are frozen and plopped onto a plate before serving. Around the corner from that same restaurant might be a 24/7 diner with handmade pies. Logical option: enjoy the meal, pass on dessert and go find your pie.
Look at the menu before you order. Maybe you won’t know how things are prepared but you can always ask or look for key words in the description. Find out if things are baked in house and if they are baked the day of. Aside from talking to your server, read reviews beforehand if available. Notice if desserts are seasonal and ask the server if they change. What does the description say on the menu? Are there ingredients used to enhance the flavor, things like spices? Maybe you don’t have dessert everyday and especially not every meal. Perhaps pick your best times and locations to enjoy your dessert and then don’t worry about what the menu says, ask the waitstaff for their favorite.
Always split dessert if it’s an option. Depending on the style of restaurant you are dining at, desserts tend to be much too big and way too much for just one person. Everyone will feel better for sharing. Flying solo? Bring it back to your room to enjoy after an evening stroll with a glass of wine off of your private terrace.
Now that you have a plan in place, I want to share the most important tip of all.
Enjoy each and every eating adventure you embark on. Savor each spoonful and truly bask in the beauty of a well-crafted meal. Any potential guilt felt overindulgence will only bring negative energy to your trip. Eat it, enjoy it and move on.
How many times do you stop to think about your own personal impact on the environment? Do you feel like what you do doesn't make a difference? We often think about how "we" as humans impact the planet, but its so often a collective thought like, "we" should drive less, "we" should get rid of all plastic straws, "we" should be using reusable containers, "we" should be using solar energy, "we" should be buying less clothes... there are a lot of things we think and tell ourselves that "we" should be doing. But how often do you shift that focus to "I". What would happen if you actually drove less? What does that even look like? Maybe its not as drastic as moving to a more bike friendly state, perhaps it is just that you don't drive on one of your days off. You stay home for the whole day, never leaving the house. Or how many times have you driven back into town because you forgot floss for the 500th time at the store? (this happens to me a lot...) Maybe don't drive back to town. Maybe twice a week eat in at your office instead of driving home for lunch, OR maybe you work close enough to walk somewhere for lunch. Simple ways to make a difference. What does it look like not to use plastic straws? Could you say no thank you at restaurants? Could you stop buying cute candy cane straws for your daughters birthday party? How about using reusable containers? You do not have to go spend money on these items. Simply wash and reuse jars and containers from other food items you have purchased. This not only saves money, but it also supports the environment in reducing waste. What about solar energy? This feels like a big expensive change. But have you actually looked into what this would cost? Some people find that in the end they save money because of energy credits you can earn from the electric company. Last on the short list above... buying less clothes. Simple! (Unless of course you have teenage girls, this is a hard sell for them...) Solution- buy second hand. When I was a kid second hand clothes were not very cool, today- super cool! In fact if you can't find what you want in your local thrift shops check out www.thredup.com. This site allows you to even return items! Some of these clothes are brand new with tags still attached.
So many ways that YOU can make a difference. You don't need to be part of a group effort. The burden doesn't lie on the masses. It only takes one stone to ripple the entire pond. Be that stone, start that motion. Get things moving. Make a change today.
Imagine walking into your local yoga studio. What do you expect to see?
You might expect to see Jen, the perky 20 something wearing the trendiest leggings, a snug racer back tank and stretching out in the back, showing off her flexibility. This is what most of us imagine when we think of yoga. Skinny middle -class women doing headstands and impossible balancing acts.
Would you be surprised then that next to her is Sue, an overweight 57-year-old grandma who recently cut back to part time and signed up for this class through community ed? She’s wearing some old sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt she picked up in Jamaica 15 years ago. No tight spandex for her. It might surprise you even more to notice that her and Jen are talking in that familiar way about what they did over the weekend. What could these women possibly have in common? Are they friends?
Would you be equally taken aback to see that next to Sue, stretching his back in a forward fold, is Steve. Steve is a 34-year-old former marine sergeant who started yoga per recommendation from his counselor to help manage his PTSD.
To the front of him are Karen and Don who always lay their mats together and bicker over who made the other late that day. Would you expect that they are in their late 70’s and they just started yoga the year before last?
Is this how you imagine the practitioners of yoga to be?
Are these the next great yogis of our time?
Or are they simply a representation of yoga today?
Yoga is many things, but what it is not is exclusive. Yoga is for everybody. Every age. Every ability. Every person can practice some form of yoga. Yoga brings people together from all walks of life. The young, the old, the able bodied, the hurt. Yoga is not a religion. It is not a sport. It is a practice that connects the body, mind and spirit through the breath. You can find classes in a studio, in a park, in a church basement, on the beach, even online. Yoga is everywhere. As you sit in your car pulled up to the stop light, you notice the young woman next to you close her eyes for a moment and breath deeply through her nose. Is she practicing yoga? Of course she is! She’s practicing pranayama- breath work. Maybe she doesn’t know she’s practicing yoga but she is. At your next work meeting you notice the presenter do something funny with his hands, he holds them in a sort of steeple with the finger tips touching and the fingers widened apart. Is that yoga? Yes it is! That’s what yogis call a mudra- a way of working with your bodies energy systems. Perhaps he learned that trick at a leadership conference and never knew he was beginning a journey into such a powerful practice. At lunch your co-worker tells you about some exercises from her physical therapy. They kind of sound like yoga. Are they? They might be. Again- Yoga is all around us.
Some people say that America has ruined yoga. They say that we have ripped away the tradition and importance of the practice. I say that America is young and eager. We see the benefits and we know deep down that we need those benefits for ourself. But the underlying thread and importance of yoga can never be altered. None of us are living the life of traditional yogis. So how can we take a traditional practice and expect it to work today. The truth is we can’t without completely changing everything about what makes our lives run the way they do. Now that’s not saying there isn’t room to change but yoga brings that change in its own way. You don’t have to change yourself to do yoga because yoga will bring about the change for you. Yoga forces you to confront your ego and it humbles you. Not in a degrading sort of way, but in the way that reminds you of what’s truly important in life. Yoga not only allows you to live in the moment and to just be, but it also works on a physical level to strengthen and bring balance to your body systems, no matter what style of yoga you practice.
So next time you have insecurity or trepidation about attending a yoga class, take a moment and remember Sue, Steve, Don and Karen. Even think of Jen because she is part of this yoga conglomerate. The names have been changed but they represent real individuals. These are the people of modern yoga. Not the contortionists we imagine in our mind, but our neighbors, our coworkers, our family and our friends. This is what yoga looks like today and I am proud to be part of it.
A: Great question. Like most things we ingest, fish oil has an impact on every area in our body and each person may be affected differently based on their individual needs. Historically there has been a lot of research to support that fish oil can help to reduce triglycerides. Triglycerides are a measure of the fat that can build up and store in our blood vessels. High triglycerides are associated with an increased risk for a heart attack, therefore fish oil may reduce this risk. Recent research even shows fish oil to help improve brain function in those suffering from cognitive decline such as Alzheimer's. Aside from what research tells us, I have personally had many clients rave over how healthy and supple their skin feels when they add fish oil into their diet. In supplement form fish oil works therapeutically in the body, meaning it works like medicine so it should be treated as such. Never start a supplement without consulting your doctor first. Even with a substance that is so helpful such as fish oil, there are instances where it would not be recommended. If you are just looking to eat more fish each week then choose a sustainable-wild caught fatty fish such as salmon or sardines. Add these in once or twice a week and reap the benefits without the cautions of a supplement. For more information on how fish oil may be helpful for your individual health please reach out to Jessica and schedule a free 15 minute consult to discuss.
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...." - George R.R. Martin
Open your mind and heart to a new world.
It all started last night when I was lying in bed finishing a book. The book was sad. It made me cry and my daughter came up and asked why I was so sad. I explained to her a little about the plot and the characters. She then started talking about some of the characters in her book and sharing her feelings about them. We began having a conversation about the stories we were reading, everything from our concerns for the main character to our shock at the twist at the end. For a few brief moments, in our minds, our books took on a life of their own, it was as if they were real people that we had met and conversed with, real situations and experiences that we had witnessed. It felt like it was all happening in a sort of alternate universe that was running parallel to ours. I didn't really think too much about this at the time, I just enjoyed the opportunity for a somewhat intellectual conversation with my 9 year old. This morning however I had additional thoughts. Was it silly that we felt so connected with what we read, or had we in fact taken an opportunity to briefly live another life? Isn't that what reading is all about? Immersing yourself in a world outside of your own? Whether it be a great new fiction read or the lastest bio-chem text book- it is written at a different time, in a different context, and even from a different mindset. The books almost have a life of their own. And how amazing is it for us to be able walk, for a brief moment, in someone else shoes.
Books not only open up a new world, but they also give us new perspective. They educate our minds to the world around us. We learn how to manage the present we are in by looking at the mistakes and triumphs of history. We gain understanding of ways to communicate by reading dialogue in fictional work. We learn propriety and manners through class novels. We develop problem solving skills from a thrilling murder mystery paperback. It doesn't take a boring text book to teach us something, but if we were so bold as to pick up something non-fiction- oh how our minds would expand.
Reading not only opens your world, but it enriches your mind. And it's free. No expensive procedure to undergo. No hidden fees every month. You can read anything, anywhere and everywhere. Who knows- maybe that boring sailing magazine at the doctors office will open your mind to a new hobby.
So put down your phone, pick up a book and change your life.