A season of expectancy and why to stay in the game.

This time last year, I was a bad-tempered girl complaining I wasn’t getting any Christmas presents. I don’t know who that girl is anymore. I want to be her again because she didn’t know what would be savaged and almost lost. And yet, I don’t want to be her because of all I’ve gained.
— Jo, Little Women

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The oldest of my little women started watching Little Women on her own volition. So last Saturday morning when I stumbled downstairs after sleeping in a bit, I cuddled with my little ones on the couch and listened to these poignant words boldly proclaimed by Jo.

They fell on me like a weight.

So much can change, so fast.

Be it a moment, a month, a year – or three.

Sometimes we’re impatient because we feel we aren’t getting somewhere fast enough; our goals and dreams still seem too far off. And so we quit.

But what if we stayed in the game a little bit longer and refused to give up, knowing that whether or not we succeed, we will be changed; whether or not we were able to physically hold our dream in our hands, we will have gained.

With Christmas 3 days away (side note: what the heck? This was the FASTEST year ever!), I find that despite the hustle and bustle, in the backs of our minds we know the new year is around the bend. We know New Year’s resolutions are thing whether or not we subscribe to them. We know we should be mindful of setting some goals and not let another year pass us by.

We know, but do we plan on pursuing that person we want to become or the idea that has been rattling around in our brain? Or do we let fear hold us back because we don’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t work out in the time span we gave ourselves?

Sigh! It’s ok!

It is a season pregnant with anticipation after all, and I want to remind you of that.

While I’m most definitely NOT pregnant, the excitement of the season reminds me of my anticipation of meeting my babies for the first time.

In this season of expectancy - of Christmas gift giving and receiving, of fresh beginnings with the coming of the new year - there is renewed hope.

Hope that our resolutions, our goals and dreams will come to fruition, and the new year will magically transform us.

Now let’s get one thing straight. There is no magic! Those hopes and dreams don’t simply happen! It’s a PROCESS requiring planning, discipline, and effort....a certain gestation so to speak.

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Did you know the average elephant pregnancy lasts 640 – 660 days? That’s roughly 95 WEEKS or 22 MONTHS! Granted, a baby elephant is rather large at birth, about 200 lbs to be exact, but that is a long ass time. I certainly would not want to be pregnant for nearly 2 years. No thank you!

But you see, things take time! I’m sure the mama elephant is just as content carrying her baby for 22 months because, like I did, I knew it was going to be worth it, no matter how unconformable I was at the end.

When things don’t come easily or naturally, we’re inclined to give up because it’s harder than we expected. It’s not ok to quit (unless perhaps it was a terrible idea to begin with) but it’s ok if it demands some elbow grease and patience.

Another side note: my second grader naturally loves words, reading and writing. Math, like her mama, is like a foreign language to her. It takes effort. Nowadays math is also extremely different from when I grew up and I have no idea how to help her, nor the time to YouTube how to do it every night. Both of us want to give up. That’s not really the answer though. She needs a foundation in math to continue to make progress. I don’t expect her to be a mathematician someday, but today, I trust that as we put the effort in, we will succeed.

That’s faith. That’s hope.

HOPE changes things....the way you face your day, the way you walk and talk. Hope, a level of unseen expectancy, puts that fire in your belly to look for miracles, to be patient through the trials, and to keep pushing through, turning the intangible ideas in our minds into tangible facets in our lives.

Be faithful to YOUR process. Stay true to your intuition, your values. Don’t let the shiny stories and objects of others - or even your own doubts and fears - distract you. Stay true to you, friend, and find a few friends to celebrate the victories along the way. We must stop and celebrate otherwise we’re susceptible to burnout, or worse yet, not even realize the progress we’ve made.

In conclusion, I’m not saying it will be easy, but I have faith that in a year, when you reflect back on the previous year and look ahead to the next, you will be proud of your growth - the successes and the perceived lows that taught you how to problem solve in a different way. And like Jo says in Little Women, “…I don’t want to be her because of all I’ve gained,” you will have gained a new perspective on where you stand versus who you were a year prior.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot!

So, embrace the rhythms of life (know the universal laws), be generous, love, be responsible (you’re in control, don’t play victim), and take captive your thoughts - unraveling yourself from the lies you’ve believed, the stories you’ve narrated that hold you back, and unlock yourself from limitations.

Enjoy this very merry Christmas season and have the happiest of new years!

I trust you’ll get after 2019 and embrace all that it has in store for you. In fact, I can’t wait to see what you do over the next 12 months.

xox, erin  

 

C is for cookie, that's good enough for me. A holiday cookie round-up!

Cranberry jam thumbprint cookies and gingersnaps

Cranberry jam thumbprint cookies and gingersnaps

Neither Halloween, nor the pumpkin spice November craze, phase me. It’s the peppermint this time of year that calls to me and entangles me in all of it’s minty goodness. In particular, the eating evolved peppermint coconut cups (which you can now only purchase on Thrive Market or make your own - recipe to come) are by far my favorite.

That being said, I’ve created a short cookie round-up for you. Don’t be fooled by it being “short.”

While I appreciate the 80-recipe round-ups, I know I don’t have time to look through 80 recipes, nor whittle it down to my top 10, nor bake said top 10 different cookies. The thought of the mess alone kills me.

I doubt you have the time either!

Since our little family has been going a mile a minute lately, we hunkered down this weekend and made several different cookies, got crafty, and watched Elf and the pbs series of Little Women (I may have shed a tear or two!).

Without further ado, here are the COOKIE RECIPES I think you should get busy making this winter season:

Cranberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

We adapted Caroline Potter’s gluten free blackberry jam thumbprint cookies to be a delicious cranberry jam thumbprint cookie. We made enough jam to go on top of oatmeal or eat by the spoonful after we topped our cookies.

To make the jam:

Ingredients

1 lb fresh cranberries

¼ cup water

4 tbsp honey

2 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice

1 ½ tsp grass-fed gelatin

Directions

Warm a skillet to medium-low heat. Add the cranberries and water and heat for 10 minutes.

Use the back of a spoon to crush the cranberries, releasing their juices.

Stir in in the honey, orange juice, and gelatin. Heat for an additional 10 minutes, allowing the jam to simmer slightly.

Remove from heat and let cool.

If you like it chunky, leave as it, otherwise use an immersion or high-speed blender to puree the jam.

Refrigerate.

 

Gingersnap Cookies

You can’t let the Christmas season go by without making gingersnaps. These cookies, created by Danielle Walker, are my Charlie Bear’s favorite.

Or if you want to get super fancy, try these iced gingersnap cookies.

 

Chocolate Orange Cookies

A new treat but one we’ll be keeping! Note, this recipe is NOT gluten-free or even paleo for that matter. I repeat, this is not GF or paleo…yet. I paleofied it today but it still needs a few tweaks. To get this into your hands now, this is the real deal, sugar laden cookie. I’ll repost soon when I have the paleo version in a better state.

 

Keto Sugar Cookies

Say what?! Yep, it’s a thing, and Brittany Angell kills it again!

 

No Bake Peppermint Hot Cocoa Bites

I’ll take it! Once again, I’ll need to post my recipe for peppermint coconut cups another time, but this recipe for peppermint hot cocoa bites Is divine, with an extra boost from the collagen peptides.

 


I hope you slow down to make a few of these yourself. If you do, let me know which ones you decided to make and what you thought of them.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Basically my wild children all weekend. I don’t think the cookies helped!

Basically my wild children all weekend. I don’t think the cookies helped!

Hold on, have hope! Tips to navigate life's rollercoasters.

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Rather than New Year’s Resolutions, I themed 2017 my year of freedom; 2018 of peace and joy.

Like most things in life, you plant a seed and eagerly, rather impatiently, wait for it to take root and grow. While we may be in our last 30 days of 2018, I’m (finally) seeing the fruit of these intentional themes. Hallelujah!

While I feasted and played card games in my aunt and uncle’s cabin on Donner Lake over the Thanksgiving weekend, it dawned on me that 3 years ago I was in a very different -  a very dark, lonely -   place.

REWIND:

  • In 2015 I spent Thanksgiving alone, housesitting for my sister and eating Vixen Kitchen’s paleo Chai & I ice cream for dinner.

  • I had no desire to be around family.

  • I felt like a failure.

  • I felt unworthy, unloved, and alone.

  • I didn’t want to see people happy; families together and putting in the effort to spend the holidays side by side.

. . .

  • My marriage was over.

  • I had moved two states away from my “home” for the last 16 years and had been living with different family members for two months, bouncing my daughters here and there as we found some stability.

  • I didn’t have a job (I had been raising our daughters and freelancing off and on for the last 4 years).

  • I didn’t have a home to call our own.

  • I had just spent half of my savings on marriage counseling (that didn’t work) and moving out of state to set clearly defined boundaries.

. . .  .

Talk about rock bottom.


I haven’t shared my marriage and divorce before because I didn’t think anyone would care. Perhaps no one will. However, I’ve felt a pull on my heart for months to share my story. Maybe it will resonate with one person, offering a glimmer of light and truth - of companionship. If so, I’ve done my job.

With a topic like this, I’m not sure where to begin…

 

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We joked that if we had a band this would be our cover art. 

This day back in April 2009, and all it encapsulated, was the beginning of something epic, or so we thought.

But, our first year of marriage was difficult. The highs were high, but the lows were miserable. We were ridden with selfishness, naivety and conflict.

In conflict, I retreat. I need space to walk and think or journal or a night to sleep on it. That didn’t go down so well, and if memory serves me right, I may never have explained to him my way to process. Instead, I was questioned, pushed too far out of my comfort zone - which pushed me farther away - and utterly frustrated, resorting to anger because I couldn’t understand or articulate my feelings well enough to be heard or known.

Sometimes we need to be pushed a little to see that our way isn’t the only way. However, there needs to be patience, grace, love, and communication in doing so. That didn’t exist. Only the feeling that he was right, and I was always so wrong, my feelings wouldn’t be validated because other people had it worse than me.

And so, this vicious cycle continued.

My parents who divorced when I was 10 were not examples of a good marriage, offering zero guidance when it came to conflict resolution. Since it was never modeled to me, unfortunately my marriage became the battle ground to figure it out. Yet at the time, I didn’t realize it. Nor did I give myself the space and grace to settle in and accept myself as a new wife trying to navigate marriage; letting go of the ideal of the happy all of the time, white picket fence married life image I had in my mind.

I figured there was something wrong with me. While I shared the good, the bad, and the ugly, I still held on closely to my hidden fears of thinking I wasn’t good enough, or worthy enough to be loved.

Despite showing the ugliness, my unrelenting, high walls kept me from exposing my heart and letting go of any pain and limiting beliefs from childhood as well as previous hurtful relationships. I thought if I didn’t measure up, he would leave. I thought if I wasn’t perfect (though we both knew we were both far from it) he would abandon me.

If I’m truly honest, I thought he could fill a part of my heart that ached with emptiness. Though a Christian who knows better, I thought he could save me and make me whole.

These unspoken, juvenile expectations kept me from uniquely showing up. And in turn pushed him away. Exactly what I was trying to prevent, I manifested the outcome by my actions and behavior.

Now, he wasn’t a saint either, but I’ll tell the story from my POV.

Many nights I went for long drives or sat in our car to escape the noise.

On a couple of occasions, I got myself a hotel room because I needed to get away. Our pseudo one-bedroom apartment didn’t provide the space I needed to retreat. yes, I’m an introvert and my introvert need for alone time was not met in that first city apartment of ours. Also, a friend I greatly respected told me of all the nights she got a hotel room for herself and how it saved her marriage.

I thought it could do the same for ours.

I hate to even admit this, but at times I would pack my bags, ready to leave and never look back because I didn’t know what else to do.

I felt so stuck. So small. Unheard and unloved.

Here I was, next to a man who was adored at work, passionately throwing himself into his job, leaving me at home alone or on the sidelines, soaking in his fans praises but ignoring mine.

I wanted to be in the ring with him. Doing life with him. Not an afterthought.

Fast forward to the day we were leaving for our one-year anniversary trip to South Africa. A trip I was so looking forward to as it had been 5 years since I had last stepped foot on that fine, bewitching soil. I had it planned to a T - with a safari, a coastal drive, wine, my beloved babies at Kwethu Children’s Village (an orphanage I had volunteered at 5 years prior), and an adventure we’d take together – one we’d tell our children about some day.

Of course, I have no clue what we were fighting about now, but hours before our flight, we had an intense fight, culminating in me watching a stack of our plates thrown to floor, smashing into a hundred little, jagged pieces.

Anger seethed in both of us.

To be honest, I can’t believe our friends even drove us to the airport in that state.

But again, we continued to push it under the rug, hoping it would sort itself out if we ignored it.

Sidenote: we went on our South African trip and had an amazing adventure, minus the time I thought he was going to get killed by a lion, or the time I pictured us getting murdered in the backseat of a car in Jo’berg, or our car getting broken into and my bag being stolen in Cape Town. Despite a all of that, it really is a beautiful country and If you need travel tips, I have them!

However, we returned and life continued as it had.

Our next big fight, shortly after returning (and going back to school to study nutrition) was when my beloved goldfish Pinto and his fish bowl were thrown on the floor, vanishing forever. I watched again in horror as another thousand little pieces of glass and water covered our floor.

A mere hour later, I took a pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant.

It was time to clean up our shit.

Easier said than done!

Having a baby doesn’t make ANYTHING easier. Emotions, expectations, fatigue, uncertainty, you name it, are heightened. In fact, more is left to ambiguity as you stumble through those first months simply trying to survive and keep this little person alive.

Amidst quitting my job to stay home with our Charlie Bear, taking a break from school, and navigating this new life I had as a mom + wife, I also had my eye on someone who, based on intuition, was no good to have in OUR life.

I met her awhile back and upon meeting her, I felt I had to keep her close. There was something about her that rubbed me the wrong way and I didn’t care for her presence in my husband’s life.

Always listen to your intuition!

However, my lack of trust for her didn’t really matter. She had finagled her way into our life and my husband was beyond pleased with it. Especially when they decided to have a relationship.

I don’t need to get into the details of how that went down. Your imagination of trying to rationally talk with someone who believes they were placed on the planet to be with your husband will suffice…..

If this happens to be where you are now, know that while hindsight is 20/20 and in the midst of things you want to think the best of your spouse by giving them the benefit of the doubt with excuses  - stress, fatigue, finances, etc – you have to face up to the truth.

Sit down and ask!

Be brave, be bold, prepare for an answer you may not like, yet know that you are still worthy. You may have had a piece of the unraveling of the relationship, but that doesn’t mean you are less than. Their actions are on them. Own yours, yes, but don’t carry the burden of their poor choices as well.

Chin up!

Take comfort in this from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Or if you’re an ’80’s child like me listen to this on repeat!

So…..

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Why am I writing this now?

I know someone needs to hear that there is still hope.

This minute, this day, this month, may not be what you expected in your life, but it’s not over. There is hope to be had; dreams to dream, goals to crush, laughter to be relished in, and love to be shared.

You aren’t alone.

Life - for everyone -is messy, good, bad, happy, sad, hard and easy. See Ecclesiastes above!

Seasons come, and seasons go. Like the leaves that fall in winter, they bloom again in the Spring with the light of the sun. You will get through this and be a better person for it - if you choose to be!

It’s up to you to look for the good. To make a choice to not give up. To make the choice to show up. No one cares more about you and your dreams than you. Let go of what your parents told you, let go of the limits your teachers put on you, let go of the ideals you cling to, and show up as your weird, badass self. Shine, my dear!

You, yes you, are more powerful and wonderful than you allow yourself to be. Lean into that power!

For me, my current goals are still a few miles off, but with each day I show up, the closer I get to achieving them. Once achieved, there will be more goals to set. One foot in front of the other, dear friend!

The process continues and so must you. You must be brave enough to keep putting one foot forward, even if the world if pitch black and cold. Believe in yourself and that ache for more in your heart.

 

What else have I learned?

I was a month shy of turning 28 when I got married. Now edging closer to 38, I look back and see that scared, young girl, unwilling to stand up and speak her voice. Too scared to risk sharing her heart.

I look back and see myself trying to have at it alone, despite having this person next to be who was in it with me.

Today, I know my worth. Today, I know my voice. Today I’m clearer on what I will and will not allow in my life.

It’s ok to take care of yourself. It’s not selfish! Especially this time of year, amidst the enchanting carols and twinkling lights, a lot of people are stressed with the financial burden, the chaos of activities, the family obligations, etc.


Here are some tips on how to say sane this (holiday) season:

  1. Remember you can’t be perfect.

  2. Take time out to 1) have a bath (or go to the spa), 2) have lunch with a friend, 3) sleep in, 4) eat the damn chocolate or drink 2 glasses of wine, 5) exercise – whether that’s at a gym or a walk, and 6) say “No!” to the activities that won’t bring you joy.

  3. Slow down. Have a dance party with your kids or by yourself. Crank up the music. Watch a movie and don’t do anything else. Schedule down time.

  4. Avoid the crowds. Shop online or locally.

  5. Get into the real holiday spirit. Visit an ice skating rink, visit Santa, make gingerbread cookies, build a gingerbread house, catch a holiday play

  6. Get crafty if that’s your thing!

  7. Spend time with family or friends that make you smile! You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with – choose your friends well! Happiness and joy is contagious, let their joy rub off on you. Just don’t be the Debby downer in the group ; )

  8. Give! Be kind; give a hug; give a compliment; smile; donate; buy coffee for the person in line behind you.

  9. Practice gratitude.

 

 

A Healthy Black Friday Round-up

First and foremost, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of delicious food, laughter with family and friends,  memory making opportunities, fresh air on your crisp walks outside, pockets of gratitude and rest, and plenty of football.

Like me, I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with Black Friday deals all week.

As more and more people are choosing to #optoutside and disconnect this week, it makes sense that the deals are starting earlier and earlier. No more 2am wake up calls, no more fights over the last item in aisle 9, no more walking aimlessly around the mall in search of the deal. Our digital age is something spectacular and way too convenient these days. Then again, it’s so much fun to take advantage of the deals and stock up on items you’ve been foregoing the rest of the year – warm and cozy in your home!

Whether it’s to cross off every person on your Christmas list or simply splurge on something for yourself, I have some fun things below I think you’ll love.

NOW is truly the time to try out those brands you’ve been eyeing! Not to mention support many of which are small businesses, including myself!

 

SKINCARE

Beautycounter

I love Beautycounter's Mission because most of us don't know what ingredients are in the products that we put on our skin every day. We’ve come to know how to read food labels but when it comes to our personal products, it’s like reading a foreign language. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and therefore naïve about the products we use.

Beautycounter has removed the guesswork for us.

Along with diet changes, stress relief efforts, and changing my skincare regimen, I cured my post-partum hormonal acne. The thing is, it wasn’t until I tried the Charcoal Cleansing bar did I notice a difference. Needless to say, I was hooked on Beautycounter!

If you’ve been wanting to try something, NOW is the time!

As for holiday gifts, forego the wine or the A+ teacher mug and stock up on lotions, gloss, and soap for host gifts, stocking stuffers and teachers gifts!

The Deal: Now through Monday receive 15% off + free shipping on orders over $50 for the whole family.

How to: click any link below or HERE to shop!

Limited Holiday Collection Gift ideas:

1. Instant Awakening Trio ($89)

2. Intense Moisture Duo ($59)

3. First Light Highlighter Palette ($49)

4. Mini Lip Gloss Vault ($89) – or the Mini lipstick color vault ($79).

5. Counterman Travel Set ($45) - Men care about their skin and health too!!
6. Glow & Go Mini Oils ($30)

FATCO

The Deal: I’m still waiting to find out but I trust it will be awesome

How to: simply click HERE to shop!

Gift ideas:

  • Calming Body Butta (love using this lotion on my daughters after a bath)

  • Baby Butta (clean and unscented for the precious babes in your family )

  • Stank Stop (looking for a safe and effective deodorant, this is it!)

FOOD

Kasandrinos Olive Oil

This is the best olive oil you can find and they're an awesome GREEK family, of course ; )

The Deal: 20%-off your order!

How to: Simply click HERE to shop and use code “Turkey20” at checkout.

EatingEvolved

The Deal: BOGO on all Perfectly Imperfect products.

Simply the best clean chocolate out there!

Foursigmatic Mushroom Coffee and Elixirs

The Deal: 20%-50% off of the top products

How to: simply click here or one of the links below; use CODE: COACHERIN for an additional 10% off!

Gift ideas:

·         Mushroom Coffee Mix with Lion’s Mane (For the coffee lover who doesn’t love the jitters)

·         Chaga Elixir (Support your Immune system with the antioxidant properties of Chaga)

·         Reishi Elixir (reduce stress and support your sleep!)

·         Matcha with Lion’s Mane (my favorite!)

Footwear

Plae

The deal: Select styles 40-60% off

For the parents out there, these shoes kick ass for the kiddos.

How to: click here.

 

Health

Health coaching with me!

The deal: 20% off my health coaching services

If you’re looking to confront some of your health issues – by cleaning up your mental and physical diet, address allergies, tackle a meal plan - try a 21-day sugar detox. I’ve got you covered!

How to: Email me at erin@erinsholland.com or fill out the form on my website!

Thanksgiving recipe round-up

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You’re in luck!! I’m sharing the Thanksgiving recipe round up I shared with my newsletter friends.

Side note: If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, you’re missing out. Sign-up here.

I wanna know, do you brave the grocery store crowds a week before thanksgiving to grab all of the accouterments for your turkey dinner or are you the procrastinating type to wait until the day before, or the heaven forbid, the morning of?

If you’re in the latter camp or simply need inspiration for the items you have in your fridge, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite recipes around the interwebs for you.

You’re on your own for the turkey though. Since I’ve never made one, I don’t feel like I should be giving advice. If it’s anything like the whole roasted chicken I make every week, I suggest using more salt than you feel comfortable with! It makes for a tasty bird!

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Tell me, do you have a Thanksgiving family tradition?

Our Portuguese tradition is to enjoy a breakfast of carne vinho d’alhos, poached eggs, Grandma’s Portuguese bread, sliced pineapple and a shot of gin to get that blood flowing first thing in the morning.

Cheers to gratitude, to tasty food, to health and wellness, and to family and friends!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

The top 10 ways to benefit from connecting IRL.

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The heat of the sun on your back.

The fresh air in your lungs.

The impeccable views and sounds of nature and life buzzing around.

Whether I’m out in the great outdoors on an inspiring hike, dipping my toes in the sea, on a run into town (typically pushing a stroller with over-sized children in it), or even simply sitting on the outside patio at my local coffee shop, there is something about getting out of the house and feeling the energy around you.

However, all to often I’m a homebody.

Sure, there’s the laundry to do, the dishes to wash, the floors to clean, the piles of school artwork to recycle, the side hustle to grind through, yet sifting through those I find excuses for not wanting to put on real clothes and leave the house.

There is a time and place for comfort, yet we need to create the space to get out and connect, both with nature and with other human beings!

In a recent newsletter (you can sign-up on my website) I sent to my health coaching clients, I discussed the four pillars of health:

  • Sleep

  • Nutrition

  • Exercise

  • Connection

Today I want to focus on connection.

We so often dismiss it as a necessary element in our overall health; much like sleep, we’re fooled by the illusion that we don’t need it to thrive.

Numerous studies have shown that a lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.

Time and time again, it’s been proven that social connection improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being. When a strong social connection is maintained, we:

  • increased chance of longevity by 50%

  • strengthen our immune system

  • recover from disease faster

Brene Brown, has said, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

Regardless of what where you fall within the spectrum of introvert or extrovert, we are made to connect. We are social creatures by nature.

Shiny objects tend to lure us, deceiving us into believing the fancy cars, the money, the power, the big homes and lavish vacations will fulfill us. While those objects aren’t inherently bad, we need to be conscious of how we’re using them to make us feel. This also tends to flesh itself out in the way we treat our body – whether we binge on food or starve ourselves or put up silly boundaries around the “good” and “bad” foods we eat, even over exercising to make an amends for one thing or another. In the end, all of this will disappoint us.

All along we’ve been looking for meaningful connections - relationships.

It is a fundamental human need to belong, to be accepted, and loved.

You are not too sensitive or too much to want these things. They are good, natural desires!

In fact, people who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteemgreater empathy, are more trusting and cooperative and, therefore, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.

Those are all wonderful benefits of being connected! No one should ever dismiss the power of a hug, a phone call, a date, or even a simple touch, let alone these desires.

They are good, healthy feelings.

Being present and making time for those you care about is not hard, rather putting the effort in to create the time and space can be difficult in today’s culture of finding pride in our busy-ness and independence.

Some practical tips to connect:

  1. say hello or smile at a stranger

  2. Go to local farmers market and talk to the vendors. I’ve heard the best stories from our smoked salmon vendor. As an ex-Marine World whale trainer, he has a bounty of stories to share of the tricks the whales would play on the trainers. You don’t have to spend countless hours with these people, but a weekly hello and five minute conversation reaps massive connection rewards. You feel known AND you’ve learned a thing or two.

  3. Make time with a friend (spontaneous, last minute calls are fine!) to go for a 20-minute walk or have a quick dinner.

  4. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

  5. Turn your phone off and talk to your family after dinner.

  6. Read a book with your kids or spouse.

  7. Go for a hike and eavesdrop on the conversations – both those nature provides as well as the other hikers!

  8. Invite your neighbors over for a seasonal treat.

  9. Grab a coworker and buy them an afternoon drink.

  10. Make small talk with anyone helping you – the cashier at the grocery store or at the coffee shop, your waitress, your kid’s teacher, the person in line behind you, etc.

These are just a few to get you started. How do you like to connect?

P.S. Don’t Google “ideas how to connect.” The only options it offers are troubleshooting tips to connect to the internet. That’s not what we’re going for here!

Do you have eyes and arms?

baby hugs.jpg

Ten years ago, while out on a date at a Tavolata, Ethan Stowell’s deliciously, fancy Italian restaurant in Belltown, we delved into the topic of physical traits we were drawn to. Joking I said, “eyes and arms.” It was a quick, flippant comment, with some actual depth behind it. 

Let me explain.

Yes, I would prefer my significant other to have a pair of eyes and two functional arms, but all joking aside, it is these physical body parts that give me a sneak peek into the person they belong to.

Eyes.

Eyes hold so much truth and personality. Personally, I want to look at someone with kind eyes; someone who will listen not only with their ears but with their eyes. Intention – whether kind or malicious – can be seen in someone’s eyes. Quite simply, when in fear, when in love, when in distress, when simply needing a hug, I want someone to look me in the eye and with a single glance confirm, ‘all is well, whether I understand you completely or not, I’ve got your back.’ In the same vain, I want someone to look me in the eye when I’m out of line and lovingly tell me to redirect my gaze to a better path.

Arms.

Similar to eyes, arms are important in the sense of comfort. I want a hand to hold and a hug that means business. No sloppy, loosey-goose hugs for me. Bring you’re A-game, dude!

Charlotte, the genius eight-legged star of Charlotte’s Web explained, “With the right words, you can change the world.”

Yes, words, whether spoken out loud or repeated in our minds, are crucial, but so are our actions.

With children, as I realized this morning while cuddling my gangling 5-year old back to sleep at 5:30 a.m., I value the same traits in them as I do in a significant other. As their mother, I’m confident they look for the same thing in me: comfort, safety, truth, eye-to-eye contact when both right and wrong, and strong arms to embrace them when scared, mad, tired, or sad…or just because.

I love the book Hug Time for that very reason.

“The world is so big and yet so small. It’s time that we embrace it all. That’s something that we all can do. Start with the one closest to you.”

I realize this is a silly, simple post, but.....

If I need to remind myself after four, quiet (and selfish) days without my children, that we all need some love; that along with the sappy, mind-blowing moments, there will be the opposite extreme of disobedience, whininess, and 1am wake up calls because a finger hurts, I figured I wasn’t alone.

Perhaps you needed to be reminded that a gentle, thoughtful touch, or a simple glance that says ‘I forgive you, I really like you’ is always in fashion….and always welcomed. Perhaps this is a reminder to be abundantly grateful for the sweet moments, but not sideswiped and discouraged by the darker opposites.

Let this be the reminder to hug those you love…a little longer, a little tighter. To look them in the eye and say what you need to say, hopefully in love and not selfish gain. To see them for who they are, not someone you want them to be. To accept the good, with the not so good.

 

No recipe.

No nutrition advice.

No health and beauty tip.

Simply a request to choose. To make the choice, which you’ve always had, to love well today.

 

Tell me, are you a hugger? A hand holder? An eyes and arms kind of person? Or is physical touch and quality time, not your thing?

                                          

I was simply heartbroken.


Seven!

Seven!


July is birthday month around here.

My wee Samurai kicks us off on the 1st, followed by her older sister's birthday on the 3rd. You can only imagine how that goes down. Your little sister has her birthday first and the day between feels like an effing eternity, so tantruming it out is the best thing to do. But I digress.

A hefty handful of family birthday's follow, not to mention the good ol' 4th of July. Needless to say there is a lot of celebrating going on.

Despite having an uncanny memory for anyone and everyone's birthday, birthdays were never my thing. Or perhaps it's because gifts are not my love language. Similar to Christmas there is too much pressure, and quite honestly, I prefer experiences - quality time with my favorite people, a hike, a picnic, a fancy dinner, a flight to Greece - over some gift you felt pressured to give me. 

Gift giving, is also a struggle. I'm happy to give the gift of a delicious meal I prepared, or packing your bags for a surprise trip, or buying you a book to read while sitting next to me in quiet. Beyond that, I'm left dumbfounded.

As I write this, I sit in the still aftermath of a giddy pool party, the last installment of birthday week. I take that back, I had to take a nap after everyone left. I was toast. 

Leading up to July, the wonder and excitement of my girls is rather contagious: the counting down of days, the crossing off each calendar square with a monster, unruly "X," and wide-eyes as we discuss birthday plans. It's endearing. Simple pure joy. 

But let's be honest, for the parent, back to back birthdays, especially for competitive sisters, is challenging.

The Samurai was totally down with visiting the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield. Ironically as it sounds being a nutrition coach, I recommend the trip out there. Perhaps not on a weekend since you won't see any live jelly belly action in the factory, but regardless, the tour is still a good time. I even tried a few flavors and enjoyed them; coconut and strawberry jam topped my list. Shocking because for most of my life I thought jelly beans were the worst candy ever made.

Not quite sugared out, more treats ensued as we rounded out her day at Pressed Juicery for a soft serve dessert. At least I didn't feel bad about this dessert since it's made with dates and almonds.

Her requested birthday dessert at Pressed

Her requested birthday dessert at Pressed

Soon enough Charlie Bear's birthday arrived. Thank goodness! Having taken the day off, I was intent on spending some one-on-one time with my 7-year old! She aches for quality time and we simply don't have enough of it. Truth be told, that one-on-one time with my children is pure gold. No rivalry, no bickering, only their sweet souls in pure bliss with all of the attention.

We chatted over a steamer and matcha, we hugged, we held hands, we did our own business (a little bit of work for me and for her, a puzzle) at home, until we picked up Sam from school to have a picnic before heading out to the Oakland zoo. In the blazing July, afternoon sun, we had our fill of animals, carousels, and even a rollercoaster before heading home. 

To make it fair, since her sister had a treat even after the Jelly Belly factory, we stopped for her requested bubble tea at Mr. Green Bubble. Dessert before dinner? Only on your birthday lady! However, being a Tuesday, which meant TACOS, it was imperative not to get full!

I spell all of this out because the heartbreaking moment came after dinner, after this full day of fun, love, and splurging.

I can't even recall what started it, but I found myself with a screaming 7-year old telling me I was the worst. Words loosely falling out of her mouth as she stomped up the stairs, declaring that no one liked her. 

Perplexed, I tried to name off all of the amazing things we did that day; that I did out of love.

I tell ya, 7:45 - 8:15pm in our household, is a witching hour.

By that time of day, we've held it together for so long that we fall apart. Our brains want to shut off. We're physically and mentally done, yet still awake. We're tired but before we manage to climb in to bed and keep our mouths shut, we turn into reactive, ugly creatures. It's so common it's nearly become a terrible habit I'm aware I need to stop. 

Sigh!

Once we were able to regain control, which involved a hug - one that can take up to 20 minutes to receive because we're all to stubborn to initiate - we chatted and the statement that broke this mama's heart was:

"I don't think I'm important to you."

Talk about a punch to the gut. 

Immediately tears streamed down my face and thoughts raced: How can she articulate this thought already? Where did I fail her? Why does she feel this?

Her caring nature took over as she wiped my tears and told me I didn't need to cry. 

I never thought I would hear those words being uttered from either of my babes mouths. 

Oh how my heart aches for more freedom. Time with my children that isn't wrought with stress as we race from school or an activity, or chores, or meal prep, or time management of this and that.

I don't accept that this is the only reality of motherhood, of being an adult. 

My heart aches for my children to know they are wholly and beautifully loved, even in their imperfect, fumbling messes of childhood. 

My heart aches for them to enjoy these moments, to know the tension of joy and disappointment, yet still be content.

My heart aches for them slow down, to not be in a hurry to grow up.

I have no solid conclusion. 

I'm still coming to terms with the fact that my babies are no longer babies. Their gangly arms and legs are awkward to carry. Their understanding of the world is expanding. They're more independent, but still need me. It's a transition for all of us. 

The only real conclusion is that part of me is glad birthday week is over. The pressure is off for another year, when I'm certain I'll be in shock again at how fast a year flies.

Another conclusion is that by actively working to change our situation - so that we don't get sucked into the time and stress conundrum - by this time next year, we won't have a repeat. 

I get it, it's hard to treasure the mundane moments or even be fully present through dinner conversations as my mind races and scans all the things that need to be done against the racing clock. 

But like we did that night after hugging it out, and again, for the thousandth time, confirming how important she truly was to me, we read a book together. A birthday gift, A Tree for Peter, I think is going to be a really special book for us. We alternated between reading until both little ones drifted off to sleep on either side of me. 

It's these moments I treasure above all. It's these gifts of their lives, of their thoughts, of our time together, reading, even drooling on me as they sleep, that are the best gifts a mama can receive on their birthday - a day that forever changed my life.

seem like yesterday we were celebrating her 1st birthday and refusing to let her eat ALL of the chocolate cake

seem like yesterday we were celebrating her 1st birthday and refusing to let her eat ALL of the chocolate cake

Can anyone relate? 

Eat your veggies! Another recipe to help fulfill your veggie quota.

I get asked these questions all the time:

  1. How do I get my kids to eat veggies?

  2. How do I get my kids to lay off XYZ?

  3. How do I make healthy meals that everyone will eat?

 

curried meatball.jpg

You can see my previous post that addresses some of these items.

But let’s start from the top and break it down.

First and foremost, you know yourself and your family best.

You know your time commitments or what you’re willing to do to make healthy cooking and eating a priority.

These values are the foundation we need to establish. Simply ask yourself:

  1. Do I have time to meal prep?

  2. Do I even want to meal prep?

  3. Would I benefit from meal prepping?

  4. What is my definition of health?

  5. What am I willing to sacrifice to be healthy?

Answer these questions and you’ll free yourself from any guilt you may have around not having it all together, in addition to understanding the parameters you’re working with to establish a new routine.

If the answer is Yes to most of these questions, let’s begin…..

Stock up on the items y’all love and don’t mind eating on repeat. These may include:

  • Chicken

  • Fish

  • Ground beef or steak

  • Veggies

  • Fruit

  • Eggs

  • Butter

  • Jerky

  • Salad fixings

  • Smoothie fixings

  • Avocados

  • Frozen fruit and veggies

     

    Come meal prep time, simply cook more!

    Heat up the grill and grill chicken, flank steak, portobello mushrooms and onions, a salmon filet, foil wrapped asparagus, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers.

Don’t have a grill?

  

Roast a whole chicken in your oven alongside roasted beets, fennel, and sweet potato. Perhaps even some egg muffins. Or simply make some hard-boiled eggs for on the go protein.

Take that chicken carcass and throw it on your instant pot to make broth, to either sip throughout the week or to make a carrot ginger or minestrone soup (see post from June 14th).

 

Not into meal planning?

That’s ok!

Buy a rotisserie chicken, or easy to heat meals such as frozen items from Trader Joe’s, or use a meal planning program such as Good Eggs, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Acme Farms & Kitchen, or even Uber Eats.

What about hiding those veggies?

Smoothies, soup, scrambles, meatballs, and even chocolate pudding are an incredibly easy and tasty way to get your kids to eat their greens.

These combinations allow you to pack a punch with nutrient dense veggies, with little to no acknowledgement they’re even there. When my kids regularly ask for these meals or treats, I secretly smile knowing all the goodness hiding behind the yum factor.

For example, this meatball recipe was a hit this past week. I typically do some combo of meat and veggies for meatballs, but this time I added some green curry powder and it was fantastic. Delicious and happily devoured even when cold!!!!

Curried Meatballs
 

Ingredients

4 mushrooms

½ an onion

3 garlic cloves

1 tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil

3 carrots

1 tbsp curry

1 lb ground meat

Directions

Preheat oven to 400

Over medium heat, melt fat of choice and sauté mushrooms, onions and 1 clove garlic for about 10 minutes and let cool.

In food processor chop 3 carrots, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tbsp curry powder.

When the mushroom mix has cooled, add to food processor and mix lightly.

Add 1-pound ground meat and blend again until just mixed. You want to still be acble to see chunks of carrots!

Bake for 30 min.

We ate these babies in a variety of ways, but like most protein in my life it ends up in a salad. Have fun and get creative with how you dish them up. Or simply eat them plain, they're that good!

 

P.S. I also can’t say enough about organifi. On those days when you feel you’re not hitting your green quota, reach for this dried Superfood Greens Powder. (I'm not an affiliate, just love the stuff!)

 

Since I have your attention, humor me two more minutes!

As most of you know, I still take part in the 9-5 hamster wheel as a Marketing coordinator for an engineering firm.

To rewind the scene, I’m taking you back to summer of 2003.

Fresh out of college and totally green, I began my career. It was unrealistically easy to get this job. For one of my journalism classes I interviewed an architecture firm, and in turn, they offered me a job. Yeah, ok!

The thing is, they weren’t sure what to do with me. My beloved, quirky Marketing Manager had worked for a number year on her own. Having this young, naïve person in her space, though there to help, was challenging. As a dog lover, she treated me like a puppy. Are you hungry? Should we go for a walk? She was hesitant, unsure, grateful but inexperienced as a leader.

Yesterday my Marketing Assistant joined our crew. Though younger than my original counterpart, I find myself in a similar position. Judging myself as her mentor and leader, judging her as being a new graduate. How much hand holding do I offer? How much do I share? How much does she care? I have two kids. She’s young, free, and grappling with her new-found home in California, as a new graduate, living with her boyfriend and working in San Francisco. Suddenly I feel old. Disregard the number of years, so many life experiences, separate us.

But I was once her.

I had the boyfriend, the new job, the excitement of years before me. Nothing but money and time to burn, and travel adventures to be had.

As a mother, I tenderly look at her and I wonder if she knows what she’s getting herself into. I wonder if this is her dream or just a stepping stone. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder……

And then I’m grateful for the chance to intersect into her life to mentor her. It will take time, as all things do, but I‘m sure we’ll learn from each other.

Perspective is funny like that, and life never fails to come full circle.

Susie, I get it now….

 

Five ways to feed the little people in your life

Smoothie Face

If you’re a parent, you know the struggle that exists around mealtime - multiple snacks, every hour it seems, if your children are anything like mine.

Despite your greatest efforts, does convenience allure you, convincing you to purchase the bright-colored, health-touting packaged food items at the grocery store?

It doesn’t have to be that way!

As a parent, I’m all too familiar with the day-to-day stress, hangry kids, and too much to do in too little time. Stressing about how to nourish not only my body, but these growing children, should  not be a burden, but rather an empowering choice of health. There is freedom in creating routines and committing to discipline. Your health and the daily meal times are no exception. 

Since feeding our family does not need to be difficult, you may wonder where to begin.

Let’s start with a few basics that are good for you and your littles:

1. Be a healthy model

Make mealtimes fun by setting a good, healthy example - eat your veggies and try new foods. Nosh on sauerkraut with your breakfast sausage; wrap a big, leafy green around a piece of chicken; sauté green apples in coconut oil or ghee and sprinkle with cinnamon for dessert (it tastes like apple pie, folks!).

The more your kids see you enjoying healthy meals, the more they will want to join you. If your kids lean toward the picky side, hiding veggies in meatballs or egg muffins is a great tool to have under your belt. Also, make sure they know you’re not their personal chef; cook meals for the family not for each individual person.

 

2. Include protein with every snack or meal

Since protein is satiating, be sure to add protein to every meal or snack. Include hard-boiled eggs or egg muffins, sugar free deli meat or protein-laden leftovers, whole-milk yogurt or chia seed pudding, sugar free jerky or smoothies with collagen.

 

3. Involve your kids

You might think taking your kids to the grocery store or having them help in the kitchen is a nightmare waiting to crash and burn on your family dreams. On the other hand, if you preface the outing as a treasure hunt allowing them to pick out healthy items, such as 2 - 3 vegetables or fruit they will eat during the week, you may have success.

Including your children in the kitchen with meal planning, cooking a meal – if old enough – or simply letting younger kids stir in some spices while you’re preparing dinner, encourages them to try new flavors and makes them curious about all the combinations they could create . Better yet, planting a garden with seeds your kids pick out and watching your garden grow, takes the learning experience to yet another level.

Regardless of whichever approach you take, exposing your kids to whole, nutrient dense foods and including them in decisions will get them excited about buying, preparing, and eating real food.

 

4. Utilize dips for healthy fats

If you have a picky eater, including some dips might be the game changer. With a dollop of almond butter, any green apple or banana gets an extra kick. Use avocado or guacamole, along with kalamata olives to spice up carrots, cucumbers, celery sticks, and other veggie slices. Drizzle warmed coconut butter and cinnamon on a mashed sweet potato.

 

5. How much to eat

It takes a sufficient amount of energy to swim, have dance parties, and jump on the bed. In general, children have no limits when it comes to eating whole, real food. They also eat more often for a good reason – their minds and bodies are growing. While high-quality (ideally grass-fed, organic) proteins, healthy fats and nutrient dense carbohydrates are good for all of us, for kids, extra carbohydrates in the form of starchy vegetables and fruit, are important.

 

Keep it simple with these snacks:

raw

Apples
Bananas
Berries
Carrots

Cucumber

Grapefruit

Grapes

Kiwi
Tomato
Zucchini noodles

  

roasted

Asparagus

Beets
Broccoli

Carrots

Delicata squash

Parsnips

Zucchini slices

  • Coconut butter stuffed Dates

  • Banana and almond butter sandwiches

  • Whole Milk, grass-fed yogurt (with a dollop of raw, organic honey)

  • Avocado with salt

  • Egg muffins or crustless quiche

  • Hard-boiled eggs

  • Chocolate Pudding (made with avocado and coconut milk)

 

When convenience reigns, these packaged items are, well, convenient:

  • Sausage (we like applegate or aidells)

  • Deli meat (we like applegate)

  • Plantain chips

  • Trader Joe's Apple Fruit Bars

  • Larabars or Kit’s Organic fruit and nut bar (Clif Bar)

  • Epic bars and bites

  • Chomps

  • Applesauce packets

  • Individually packaged nuts

  • Siete chips

  • RX bars

 

So far this has worked for me. My kids are adventurous eaters, love helping in the kitchen and honestly don't know how spoiled they are when it comes to the delicious food I feed them. Now if only I could get them to do more chores!

What other tips do you have? Want some of these recipes?