Living with Viruses and Bacteria

We live in a world that is filled with invisible living creatures known as microbes.  Algae, fungi, and bacteria are types of microbes. Microbes are single-celled, living creatures. Look at a drop of pond water under a microscope and you will see a variety of fascinating creatures of different shapes, sizes and methods of movement.

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Acne & Cystic Acne: Diet

Part 3 of a 4-Part Series

Can the foods we eat be related to acne outbreaks?

Ask any teen-ager if they think foods can cause an acne outbreak and I’m pretty sure they will mention chocolate. Well, in addition to chocolate, greasy foods, sugary foods and drinks, as well as highly processed, refined foods are all suspected of contributing to acne outbreaks.

Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates tend to cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is known to increase incidents of acne. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation may help decrease acne outbreaks.

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Becoming Your Own Best Friend: Loving Yourself

Part 3 of a 3-Part Series

As mentioned earlier, a significant aspect of self-mothering is self-reflection, becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings on a deeper level. Journaling and meditation go hand in hand to help us develop the habit of being still and listening. 

Some people love to journal. They’ve been pouring their heart out, solving problems, complaining and expressing gratitude in writing for years. Other people have tried to keep a journal, find it tedious or just don’t keep it up, or have used it occasionally to remember a special trip or period in their life. Then there are those who have never journaled and find the thought foreign and unappealing.

Personally, I fall into the second group.  I am aware that keeping a journal is a powerful tool toward self-discovery, yet, I have never been able to get started and stick with it. However, I have recently discovered a different kind of journal. It is a five-year journal.

A five-year journal allows you to write just a very few lines about your day, a thought, an experience, or an event. It only takes a few minutes at bedtime and there is no pressure. There are no year dates, only a page for each day of the year and each page has five sections of a few lines each. So, the first year, you write the year date and a few lines, then the next year you go back to the same day and can see what you wrote the year before as you begin to describe your current day for the new year.

At the end of the day, you write what has happened. There need be nothing more than that to get you thinking and listening to yourself. As I began to write my few lines, I discovered I often wanted to say something else, but didn’t have any more room for that day. So, I began to write those few extra things into another journal. Suddenly, I was journaling and enjoying the process.

If you have never journaled, or have never been consistent, using a five-year journal could be your gateway to writing and investigating your thoughts and feelings. 

In addition to writing our thoughts on a regular basis, meditation is the most ancient practice of self-discovery. The earliest written records of meditation come from Hindu writings 1500 years before Christ. In addition to Hindu traditions, many other religious traditions have included some form of meditation. Meditation was introduced to the United States following World War II, by soldiers who encountered it while serving in the Pacific Theater.

Regardless of which tradition practices meditation, the purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind, become still emotionally and physically, and become open to inspiration and the energies of the universe. 

Today we often hear the term “Mindfulness” to describe becoming still and quieting our minds so we can become more fully aware of who we are and where our thoughts lead us. Whether you call it mindfulness or meditation, the result of the practice is a calmer, more relaxed state of being, that often leads to personal insight and personal growth.

Finding time for yourself to learn who you are is a great gift. It is an ultimate expression of self-mothering.

There are online courses and centers all over the country where one can learn the art of mindfulness and meditation.  All you have to do is Google. I encourage you to search the internet to find books, centers, courses, DVD’s, and/or CD’s that appeal to you.  The practice of meditation will change your life.

 To end this series, I am including a list of references to help you in your search toward self-love, self-mothering, and better health.

Websites to learn about healthy living:

www.brightlineeating.com   

www.drjockers.com

www.forksoverknives.com

www.oceanrobbins.com

https://selfhacked.com/starthere

Books about healthy eating: 

Bright Line Eating, by Susan Pierce Thompson, PhD

Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook,by Del Sroufe and Chandra Moskowitz

Books for inspiration and personal growth:

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron

The Four Agreements,by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Hidden Words,by Bahá’u’lláh

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer


Becoming Your Own Best Friend: Healthy Diet

Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

Last week, we began a three-part series. Click here to read the first entry.  This week, we conquer an important health habit — a healthy diet!

Loving ourselves requires thinking about what we eat and how it affects our health and well-being. We are inundated with foods that have been designed for maximum shelf life and maximum taste appeal. Many of these foods contain ingredients that have been genetically modified for any number of different reasons: promote faster growth; resistance to disease; contain chemicals to control insects; create sweeter taste; or to insure longer shelf life.

Processed foods are chemically manufactured using refined ingredients, artificial additives, and high levels of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. They are foods engineered to appeal to our natural affinity for sweet, salty and fat, resulting in overconsumption.

Processed foods contain preservatives, colorants, and chemically created flavors and textures. Because processed foods have been engineered to appeal to our taste buds, they are extremely rewarding and can become highly addictive. They often contain refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and are low in fiber and nutrients. 

Don’t use artificial sweeteners!

A word about artificial sweeteners: DON’T! We should always avoid putting things into our bodies that were chemically created and have nothing to do with natural processes.

The scientific evidence is clear: plant-based, unprocessed, natural whole food diets have been proven to promote health, prevent disease, and even reverse conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  

A plant-based diet consists of emphasis on eating a variety of vegetables and fruits that are supplemented with whole grains, beans and legumes. Animal products, including dairy, if eaten at all, are a very minor part of this way of eating.

The most important aspect of plant-based eating is that it is not a “diet” in the traditional sense.  It is a lifestyle choice. The concept of a vegetarian lifestyle, has been talked about for more than 80 years.  Robert Bootzin, widely known as Gypsy Boots, was the first person to bring public attention to the importance of organic food, vegetarian eating and fitness. He is actually reported to have opened the very first health food store in the country.

An interesting fact about Gypsy Boots is that in the 1950’s, he was considered a kook, a weirdo, with strange ideas. We now can see he was a leader, so far ahead of his time that people could not understand the truth and wisdom of his teachings. Today, being vegetarian, using organic produce, and exercising to stay fit is a way of life embraced by millions of people. The best part about this lifestyle is that it has been proven by scientific investigation to produce optimal health and prevent disease.


Health in the New Year

This time of year brings about a flurry of extra activities, many of which we are unwilling or unable to say, “No” to. Last year (well, actually last month), we discussed the ways various people celebrate during this time of year. Today, we wanted to offer helpful advice about how to stay healthy in 2019 and beyond. To read part 1, click here.

The additional pull on our (likely already) overscheduled lives, leads to additional stress, generally compounded by lack of sleep. Stress can sap our natural resources, leaving us susceptible to illness. University of Birmingham researcher, Dr. Anna Phillips, warns that:

“A breakdown in usual routines, less sleep, more alcohol and immense pressure to be the perfect host can combine to create a very real risk of Christmas making people ill.” 

Illness

This time of year brings about a flurry of extra activities, many of which we are unwilling or unable to say, “No” to. The additional pull on our (likely already) over-scheduled lives, leads to additional stress, generally compounded by lack of sleep. Stress can sap our natural resources, leaving us susceptible to illness.

It’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of activities you really don’t want to miss, and those which you are alright eliminating from your schedule this season. This ensures that the activities you do participate in are ones that you really enjoy, and, by not overscheduling yourself, you are better able to fully experience them – stress-free!

Unhealthy Diet

Unless you are the picture of restraint, everybody indulges a bit more during the Christmas and holiday season. Each event we attend has platters heaped with scrumptious treats, and most of us attend a ton of events during this season. 

University of Birmingham researcher, Dr. Anna Phillips, warns that, “A breakdown in usual routines, less sleep, more alcohol and immense pressure to be the perfect host can combine to create a very real risk of Christmas making people ill.” 

Additionally, the added load on our schedules, leaves less time than usual for fitness.

This disruption to our fitness routine, combined with our loosened diets, can do real damage to our bodies. As I stated in my last blog post, the average person puts on between 1 and 4 lbs. each holiday season, and most do not go on to lose the extra weight afterward.

Mindfulness and preplanning go a long way toward helping you successfully navigate the holiday treats. Moderation really can be the key to helping you enjoy the seasonal treats, without the extra weight. 

When you are doing your Christmas shopping, park as far away from the entrance as possible, forcing you to get some extra walking in, and freeing you from competing for the “prime” spots.

Poor Mental Health

The winter holidays and Christmas are a joyous, warm, wonderful time of the year, but for many, they are also filled with painful reminders of dreams, and loved ones we’ve lost. While the message of Christmas and the other holidays around the winter season is one of hope and joy, the heart wrenching emptiness felt at the loss of a loved one, can make it difficult to feel that hope, let alone celebrate it.

Guard Your Mental Health with Mindfulness

It may be helpful to participate in charity events during this season; sometimes putting the focus on others (and their needs) can distract us from our own pain. For some, continuing with favorite traditions is a soothing comfort.

Whatever gatherings, ceremonies, celebrations, and traditions in which you participate, I want to wish you a healthy and joyous holiday season. And, if you need a little restart, feel free to contact me for assistance with your wellness journey. 


Ways People Celebrate the Season

While we are part of a society that focuses on Christmas, we often forget that not everyone we meet personally celebrates Christian traditions.Throughout the world, millions of people are participating in joyous and holy celebrations unrelated to Christmas.

  1. Diwali 
    This five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. It is a celebration of good triumphing over evil and is usually held in November.

  2. Chanukah 
    A Jewish holiday, this is an eight-day festival of lights.  It is a celebration of triumph over adversity and the miracle of a small jar of holy oil that burned for eight days instead of one, which allowed the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. 

  3. Kwanza 
    A seven-day holiday of lights, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate family culture and heritage, and is modeled after the first harvest celebrations in Africa.

  4. Winter Solstice 
    The shortest day and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. This year it falls on Friday, December 21st. There will only be 7 hours and 50 minutes of daylight hours. Throughout human history, from prehistoric time to the present, this time of year has been a time of celebration and ceremony. 

Ancient civilizations around the world built temples and structures designed to capture the rays of the sun at the moment of the Solstice. One of the most famous of these is Stonehenge, located in Wiltshire, England. The Winter Solstice is particularly important for Druid, Wicca, and Pagan communities. Today, people around the world celebrate the Winter Solstice with bonfires, music, family gatherings, dancing and singing.

Shalako Kachina Ceremony is a series of dances and ceremonies conducted by the Zuni people at the winter solstice, typically following the harvest. For other tribes, this is commemorated as the season when the river freezes and the land sleeps, known as Luut’aa and also the season of K’aliyee, the time of the north wind blowing.

The Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony involves extinguishing old fires and lighting new ones. The Hopi Holy Cycle celebrates the changing of the seasons and the nature of the Hopi sacred universe.   

Chinese New Year
  • Chinese New Year
    Also known as the Lunar New Year, this is the most important date of the Chinese calendar and is related to the Chinese Zodiac. Because the Chinese calendar is both a Solar and Lunar calendar, the actual New Year’s Day changes from year to year. Prior to the New Year, people clean their houses thoroughly and set up traditional decorations. 

This is a time of year for family reunions, parties, gift giving, and fireworks.Many of us look forward to the holiday season each year, and revel in the traditions that accompany it. However, with the holiday season, comes a myriad of potential threats to your health. Check back next year (on January 1), when we will post about how to stay healthy in the New Year.  

Whatever gatherings, ceremonies, celebrations, and traditions in which you participate, I want to wish you a healthy and joyous holiday season. 


Tips for Maintaining Holiday Wellness

Thanksgiving Well WishesCan you believe we are in the midst of the holiday season? With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought we should discuss something generally overlooked during the holidays – wellness. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for gathering together with loved ones and indulging in a massive feast. Thoughts of health and wellness are not usually at the forefront of people’s minds. However, as enjoyable as the holidays are, they can take a toll on your overall health and wellness. I’d like to help you have the healthiest Thanksgiving possible.

FoodHealthy Thanksgiving Food

The holiday season, and Thanksgiving in particular, are loaded with decadent, fatty, rich foods. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average person puts on an extra pound during the holidays, with people who are already overweight gaining around five pounds. The alarming thing about this is that most people don’t lose the extra weight after the holidays. And over time, the this adds up to an unhealthy situation. Read More


Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Benefit Plant Based DietWe are a culture obsessed with finding the “next best thing.” And our diets are no exception. We’re constantly bombarded with new diet trends, “must-have” supplements, “miracle cures,” and “superfoods.” So, how will you recognize those things which are worth incorporating into your diet? In this blog post, I’m focusing on a diet which has stood the test of time — a plant-based diet, often used interchangeably with terms “vegetarian” or “vegan” diets. Note that my use of the word “diet.” This doesn’t reflect a fad, but rather a lifestyle.

Perhaps you’ve wondered what the difference is between a vegetarian and vegan diet?

While these two diets are similar, key differences exist. Modern vegetarians tend to consume dairy (lacto) and eggs (ovo), and some also include seafood (pescatarian). Vegans, on the other hand, do not consume or useany animal products. Veganism is a lifestyle, while vegetarianism is a diet. Read More