In the company of pain

ambulance.jpg

“I’ve given birth to two kids,” I joked. “Nothing compares to the pain of childbirth.”

The two male EMTs laughed as they lifted me into the ambulance, proceeding to question me about my pain level and vertical jump standards.

Clearly my vertical jump was not as high as I thought since I failed my school playground (pick-up play time) box jump, resulting in tearing that sweet spot between your knee and your shin.

It was such a freak accident.

I missed, felt the pain, but DID NOT expect to lift up my unscathed pant leg to see a 3” gaping hole in my leg. I was not supposed to be witnessing the inside of my body, let alone the collection of blood pooling.

Perplexed by the sight, I quickly ordered my oldest to get her friend’s mom that just walked by; to my youngest, to go to the car and get my wallet and dying phone.

They obeyed, not quite understanding the urgency as my mind raced on what to do next. It was obvious I would need stitches. Going to the ER however, was not on my Wednesday evening agenda.

In their absence, as they followed my orders, I closed my eyes and breathed. I prayed and visualized my leg healing.

Their running steps with a fellow teacher brought me back to the moment, needing to explain what happened again and again to the newcomers and EMTs.

Once situated on the gurney, I kissed my girls goodbye as they went with their friend for the evening and I went to the closest ER.

The pain was bearable but escalating in intensity. My body shaking and cramping out of holding my leg in a weird position, and most likely warding off shock.

I%27m+in+an+ambulance.jpg

It wasn’t until the EMTs left me in the ER waiting room when I felt the gravity of the pain: I was alone, my leg was throbbing, and the anticipation of what was coming (shots and stitches), heavily clung to me. For the first time, I let it all go, cried and felt all of the feels.

The 1% left on my phone was my lifeline – texts to friends to pray, a call to my dad to come, if he could, and of course an Instagram post. Ha!

In that moment, the following dawned on me:

It’s ok to feel pain without having to rationalize it.

It’s ok to cry

Its ok to hate being alone

It’s ok to be scared.

It’s ok to surrender.

What a simple concept in theory. Yet in practice, we make it more difficult.

As women, we hold onto this façade of having our lives together when we may be falling apart inside. We may not be able to articulate the feelings in their heaviness, so we don’t. We shield our wounds, our pain, our questions, and only show a little bit of vulnerability, to appear authentic but not weak.

Yet, when we grip onto our expectations, our routines, our kids, our spouse, our past, our fears, our anger, our façade, our life so tightly, we miss out on the blessings that surround us every day.

Let go!

From the point of the injury to the waiting room, I clung onto composure. I confidently directed my kids to find help and to gather my belongings from the car; I maintained focus and an upbeat attitude. It wasn’t until I was in that waiting room I could let it go and feel. I could let the anxety and shakiness I was holding in, pour out externally.

I’ll say it again, let go! It’s ok!

When we let go, we can accept the waves of emotions that consume us – the fear, the pain, the annoyances of others not moving fast enough, as well as the highs of joy, love, sunsets, and beauty – but we don’t need to allow them to define us. We’re emotional beings after all. Not allowing yourself to feel the weight of an emotion or the circumstance means you’re disengaging from what it means to be human, to be authentically YOU.

You’re disengaging from a God-given emotion that is inherently you.

SIDENOTE: You’re held by an incredible God who knows you and loves you, and wants to graciously bless you, despite all of your mess-ups, failures, mistakes, cruel words, and busted shins. I may not understand now why this needed to happen, but it did. I can accept that and move on with my life, grateful for the doctors and nurses that know what they’re doing, as well as knowing that I’m loved and cared for by someone who holds the universe in his hands. I can feel the pain, and yet laugh knowing this is part of my story, even if it’s a silly one in the grand scheme of the tapestry of my life. I can let go of wanting to control everything because the creator of the universe, who ensures the sun sets and rises daily, knows ME and has a plan. Sure, I need to participate and not sit idly by, but I relax and loosen my grip.

How often do we do this? How often can we fully surrender all the pieces of the puzzle to God?

While I knew my injury wasn’t life threatening (although I will admit that at one point, I thought, this is it, I’m going to have to get my leg amputated!), I couldn’t help but think about how accidents like this happen in a split second, all of the time. Lives altered by a jump, by a glance down while driving, by uncontrollable circumstances…..

I was leaving my girls for the night, but some leave for good.

Not to be totally morbid but it’s the truth!

Something so silly as a freak accident playing on the playground with my daughters reminded me that our days are not in our control; our lives are rather short. Stop playing small and pursue those things that light you up; love hard; give hugs; have living room dance parties; travel the world, do all the things and LIVE!!

Above all, love this one life!

We’re not guaranteed tomorrow. Carpe diem!

- - - - - - - - -

In case you’re curious, the remaining night unfolded as such:

Like a jouster preparing for battle, ER attendants wheeled me back with my leg sticking straight out in front of me. Once comfortable-ish in my private room, nurses took x-rays to make sure I didn’t fracture anything, as well as to ensure no foreign pieces entered my body. We confirmed I was good to go on stitches and nothing else, I got a tetanus shot as they cleaned out the wound (double whammy of distracting pain), followed by several rounds of numbing agent directly into the wound and 10 stitches, creating an excellent check mark on my left leg. Now on to recovery. For tips on what I’m doing to help the process, check out this post.

 

On being a (working) M-O-M!

working mom tired pic.jpg

There’s no crying in parenting!

It was nearing midnight as I folded the corners of my clean sheets over my mattress - to merely climb in my bed 5 minutes later - as I reflected on the many dark facets of my Saturday. It started at the breakfast table when my youngest, who is on the older side of being 5, started crying for no apparent reason. Thick tears and pure exasperation came over her as she hunched over her full plate of home-cooked waffles, bacon and fruit. Stubborn as all hell, she also wouldn’t say what was wrong.

All I wanted to do was rectify the situation and make her stop crying. For heaven’s sake, it was only 8:30am on a Saturday morning and my brain couldn’t function with what appeared to me was sheer nonsense. What possibly could have happened when I turned my back to get something in the kitchen?

A few hours later, I ran (literally ran, pushing both of them in our non-jogging stroller, ha!) to the park. We hadn’t done this in quite possibly a year and it was the perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky, the first warm temperatures of the year, and we were ready to get our wiggles out.

Again, I have no clue what set off now my oldest but as she climbed off the stroller her temper flared and she kicked a branch. Sometimes as moms we should really keep our mouths shut, but as I tried to tell her that she should be grateful we were at the park, the branch got stuck to her foot and I laughed.

Perhaps I was shaming her some - call it what you want - but of course that made her more mad. More so that I was laughing, not that the branch was now attacking her shoe. Karma lady!

This quickly escalated. Once she got the branch free, she threw it at me, resulting in a time out. Not that anyone rejoices in a time out (except for me perhaps, when I lock myself in my room to take a parenting breather), but this contributed to her anger going up another 5 notches. I get it, you’re at the one place where you want to be to have fun and you’re not allowed to have fun. This also included myself.

I’m a firm believer in teaching my kids that there are consequences to their behavior. You don’t get to be mean, rude, or hurtful and not get away with it. Not all of life plays to those rules, but I think there is value in teaching little people that our actions *most of the time* will have repercussions – whether good or bad – and that the good ones make the world a nicer place. 

Let’s be honest here, you can’t be an asshole and expect your life to smell like roses.

As you can imagine, this didn’t go well. She got louder, disrupting everyone on the playground and I got more annoyed as I just wanted to have some fun in the sun – and selfishly get a workout in as they played. I suggested doing what she needed to do - a reset of her liking, breathing techniques, a good ol’ conversation, but nothing worked. Never mind that every time I stepped away to make sure I could see her sister or to possibly diffuse the situation, she screamed “MOM” incessantly.

Since she wasn’t calming down, I decided to remove all of us from the situation. With the library nearby, I thought that perhaps changing her environment, where she had to be quiet, would be helpful.

Needless to say, it was another fail and we basically got kicked out for being loud.

Completely frustrated, I simply ran us home. Thankfully I had headphones with me so that I could drown out her complaining the entire 1.5 miles back. Do note that this was the FIRST time I’ve ever run with headphones with my kids in tow. I like to talk with them on our runs, but this time it was necessary!

Long story short, motherhood – parenting in general – can suck. Especially when there isn’t another adult to punt to, I easily find myself in a tizzy.

Motherhood.

Work.

Commutes.

Drop-offs and pick-ups.

Side hustles.

Household chores.

Dreams to chase.

Piles of books to read.

Relationships to nurture.

Summer planning (in March!)

Exercise.

Self care.

Fun.

Sleep.

Phew!

Everyone has burdens to carry, that’s life. However, I do feel that mothers carry a disproportionate load.  We don’t need articles like this one, reminding us that here in the U.S. working moms are “drowning” in stress. We already feel it, as we live it every.single.day.

Nor this study about how moms are sleep deprived until their first child is 6-years old! Or another outlining that the average moms work is 98 hours a week - basically 2.5 jobs!

Simply put, give yourself grace and share these studies with your spouse to confirm that you’re not crazy, simply tired!

Yet, what’s the solution?

Sadly, I don’t have one.

I’m the last person to say buck up and deal with it. However, I do want more women to recognize their value, their worth, their voice, and their power.

Too many times I see moms completely fall apart when their husbands are away for any length of time. Their whole world is turned upside down and they go insane. I get it, a two-parent household is so much easier than doing it on your own. I understand the comfort of having an adult to talk through your day with or the arms to nestle into in pure exasperation or to handle the nightly battle of brushing little people’s teeth. A family was designed to have two parents and therefore, yes, it’s amazing when intact.

As a single parent though, I’ve experienced both worlds, and let me remind you, ladies, YOU CAN DO THIS!

  • You can ask for help.

  • You can have a conversation with your spouse about how to help around the house or with the kids, or simply how to love you best.

  • You can speak up at work and see how you can contribute differently (not more) to get the raise or the promotion.

  • You can create boundaries – at home and at work – to help you stay sane and be present. It shouldn’t be an all or nothing mentality, nor should you feel like you’re shackled to your desk missing out on all of the school potlucks or the only parent present to do all of the parenting duties.

I do believe we should expect greatness and look for wonder in all things in our lives, but that doesn’t mean it will be void of hardships or hard conversations or some introspection to help decide what it is we truly want.

In short, you can use your voice, create balance AND you can do all of the hard things! You’re more powerful than you think!

In closing, at the root of my recent internal wrestling, is that I’m understanding more how the political side of the corporate world works. Not that I didn’t have any idea but being closer to the inner circle has given me insight into the policies and procedures. Looking in from the outside, I’m more frustrated than ever, especially being a woman.

I stepped away from the corporate world for four years.

Four years, which now seems like a death sentence.

I shouldn’t have to, but forgive me for stepping away from a J-O-B to raise my daughters. For wanting to spend time with them and be their primary caretaker from day one.

Now I simply feel overlooked, undervalued, and “behind” in my career. And you know what? Sure, I have some lofty aspirations on how I want to help people, but ultimately, the only thing I really, really care about is being present with my girls - being the best mom I can be.

At this point quite frankly, I’m too burned out to be any good..

At the end of the day, I don’t mind putting effort in and working hard, but when you trade dollars for time, miss out on your children’s lives, and feel like you’re barely scraping by because of the economic climate (and living off of one income) in the area, I think something is wrong.

The mere fact that we’re having this conversation today, that women are still fighting their way in the work force for equal pay and acknowledgment is disgustingly wrong.

Honestly, I could rant all day, but I’ll stop! I’m truly curious….

  • How do you steward your money?

  • Do you have the same sentiments?

  • How do you feel about being a working mom?

  • What works for your family?

  • How do you handle the emotions of your children?

  • How do you execute time-outs or how many bottles of wine or CBD oil to you go through?

Curious minds want to know!

Vitamin D: Why you need it and how to get it + Hawaiian travel recommendations.

beach.jpg

Until recently, I haven’t seen an OB, or any doctor for that matter, beside my acupuncturist. In fact, I believe that last time I’ve seen an OB was shortly after my youngest was born. She’s now 5 and a half!

I don’t know for certain, but I feel I may be in the in the majority with the lack of maintaining my routine exams. Truth be told, unless I’m dying, I still probably wouldn’t go.

Where do you fall in the spectrum?

At my recent visit, we ran all of the usual blood tests.


Sidenote: you should get these typical labs done to have a baseline knowledge of your health:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC)

  2. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)

  3. Lipids

If you want to take it a step further, and begin to address root issues, you should include these labs:

  1. GI MAP

  2. MRT (food sensitivity test)

  3. DUTCH Complete (sex hormones + adrenals)

  4. Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis

If you’re curious about these, please reach out for more info or talk to your physician (who may or may not agree - it’s more about politics than health!)


Back to my lab results - I didn’t expect any shocking news, even when she told me my vitamin D levels were scary low.

Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D without knowing it, but there are some consequences if we don’t take actions to rectify the situation. The normal range of vitamin D for adults and children is recommended between levels of 25-80 ng/mL. That’s quite a range. Regardless, my levels were at 18. Well below adequate levels.

Despite living in California, I’m rarely outside soaking up the sunny rays. I’m sure you can relate with working a typical 9-5 job, with most of those hours sitting behind a screen (I won’t even get into the negative side effects of siting all day). With it being winter, I’m also not winning any sunshine points. That in addition to my office being in a not so nice area of San Francisco, as well as in a basement (it’s a pleasant basement, but a basement nonetheless), are further strikes against me in attaining the midday sun.

So why should we even care about vitamin D?

First of all, without enough vitamin D, calcium cannot be absorbed. Calcium is essential for signaling between brain cells, development of bone, and tooth formation. In essence, vitamin D helps to maintain bone density. We all have that grandma who is hunched over because her bones are becoming more brittle. Don’t let that become you.

Studies also reveal that low vitamin D levels are associated with:

  • Increased loss of muscle strength and mass as we age

  • Increased risk of cancers

  • Lower levels of immunity

  • Higher blood pressure

  • The development of neurological disorders

  • The development of diabetes

Vitamin D levels can also be affected by age, body fat levels, time of year, and skin color/ethnicity.

Did you know that as we age, our ability to make vitamin D is reduced by a whopping 75%!

Did you also know that depending on where you live, your body’s natural ability to create vitamin D from the sun will fluctuate? For example, if you live north of Atlanta, GA, you will make zero vitamin D from the sunlight between November and March. If you live below Atlanta, GA, you’ll be all right. Crazy, right?

How do we get Vitamin D?

The best way to create vitamin D is via natural sunlight. In fact, vitamin D isn’t really a “true” vitamin, as we don’t need food to attain it.

If you need to supplement, I recommend a liquid D3. In fact, I’m taking this one now and really like it.

For more info, I highly recommend giving this article a glance, especially the last bit about how much vitamin D you can create through the sun based on where you live and the time of year.


This past week I was in Honolulu attending a SMPS (marketing) conference and found enough sun breaks to get sunburned. While I don’t advise getting sunburned, I do suggest getting out in the sun without sunscreen for a good 10 minutes before applying your favorite SPF (mine happens to be this one). This way you will absorb a good amount of Vitamin D, whereas applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher will decrease the amount of vitamin D made in the body by about 99%!

me and sam.jpg

Speaking of Hawaii, I wanted to also share our top 3 restaurants to hit up the next time you jetset to Honolulu. If you’re like me and typically travel to Maui, Waikiki was new and foreign. Since it’s been nearly 25 years from the last time I stepped foot on Oahu, my bearings were a wee bit rocky!

While we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which provided enough restaurants and activities to never leave the site, we ventured nearby to get a flavor of Waikiki.

 

SCRATCH– a short distance from the hotel is Alo Moana and Ward Village, shopping centers that have everything you need. You don’t come to Hawaii to spend time at the mall, but to find some basic necessities and a meal, I would recommend these two. Based on yelp reviews and proximity, we hit up Scratch and had a great dinner. My mom and I shared a steak and eggs dinner, which was not only a fun play on the standard steak and eggs breakfast, but also plenty of food to share. Flavorful steak, lightly dressed arugula, brussel sprouts, crispy potatoes, and a fancy deviled egg. My girls got steak tacos which also looked amazing. At the rate they ate them, they were either starving or delicious – or both.

 

GOOFYS– I was a little skeptical by the name, but the yelp reviews offered only positive marks and since it was a 5-minute walk away, I was willing to try it. Hands down, this place was awesome. Local and organic ingredients, plenty of options for everyone and super friendly staff. After working up a good sweat in the gym prior to going, as well as being up since 4:30am with the little people who were still on California time, I was a little worried I wasn’t going to get enough to eat. I ordered an omelette and kale salad. It was perfectly divine, keeping me full until dinner.

 

HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY – For our last night in Hawaii, we decided to go fancy! Since I was determined to go somewhere to see the sunset in it’s pure Hawaiian splendor, in addition to jonesing for poke or sushi, we chose House Without a Key. We put on our finest and walked just under a mile along the beach to Halekulani, the gorgeous hotel where the restaurant is tucked away, facing west toward the sea. A live Hawaiian band welcomed us, as well as hula dancers silhouetted in the fading sunlight. Shortly after we were seated, the sun continuing is setting journey, peaked in it’s fiery glory behind the sailboat races and cruise ships neatly placed along the horizon. We soaked it in, watching Diamond Head grow darker in the night shadows behind us. Ambiance obviously is a huge factor, but the food also needs to live up to the hype. I ordered poke, sautéed asparagus, and a Halekulani Sunset (a guava pineapple mai tai – a girl likes to indulge ever so often). My poke was a hefty portion and just what this mama wanted. The asparagus was just as nice, lightly buttered and seasoned with garlic. My mai tai which I savored after my meal, felt more like dessert, capping the evening off on just the right note.

poke.jpg

 

Bonus/snack spots:

Lanikai Juice – the Kale Tonic was everything I needed in the morning without my usual Organifi Green Juice. The acai bowls also looked tasty.

lanikai.jpg

Leonard’s Bakery – Though not paleo, I hear the malasadas are the best around. My mom took the girls one day and they said they were the tastiest they’ve ever had. Then again, they never tasted my Grandma’s so the jury is still out.

 

What are your favorite restaurants in Honolulu?

I can’t wait to get back and explore without having to also attend a conference!

The secret sauce to parenting + recipes

smoothiex2.JPG

You know when you set out to do something that seems fairly straightforward, that is until you get 10 minutes into it to realize there are about a thousand other intricate steps that need to happen before the one simple task can be completed?

That’s been my first full weeks of 2019! Yikes!

When I write down my daily goals and to-do list, it looks reasonable. I even question why I don’t get it done most days. Then I remember it’s those pesky “behind-the scenes,” smaller steps that trip me up. As well as the loftier, ambitious goals I haven’t taken the time to break down into manageable steps. They stare at me, whispering I’m a failure, because they linger on the page untouched for days.

Truth is, I’m far from a failure. This goes for you, too.

Balancing life - motherhood, parenting, work, sleep, exercise, goals, dreams - you name it - truly is a juggling act. Balance and successfully getting our to-do list done each and every day, perfectly wrapped with a nifty little bow, is simply a lie.

So today, I’m starting my day early, restructuring my to-do list, and crossing off some of those tasks. Join me in tackling those items that you keep pushing off. I challenge you to look at the ones that you keep pushing to the side because you’ll get to them “someday.”

Because they’re not necessarily “urgent.”

Because they’re just some things you’d “like to do.”

STOP.

Would any of those tasks bring you immense joy?

Do any of those goals you’ve declared for 2019 feel too far off because you feel there are other pressing life issues to handle?

DO them! Do them today.

In fact, sit down right now and spend 10 minutes, yes, just 10 minutes, focused on you, on an item that you keep pushing off that would tickle your heart and mind. Forget Marie Kondo-ing your home right now (unless that is something on your list) and bring joy to your heart.

Just 10 minutes my friend!

I promise that when you shift the mindset of spending just a little bit of time on something you want to do, the ripple effect of creating greater leaps of success and joy in other areas of your life will happen!


 Ok, getting back to the reason I started this post in the first place.

While I was in Seattle last week, I enjoyed a dinner out with some dear friends I haven’t seen in quite some time. It was life to these bones to reconnect, catch up, talk about the challenges of parenting, and of course devour some tasty food. BTW, the brussels sprouts are tasty at Perihelion.

There’s no question about it, parenting is hard. As mamas there is a baseline pulse of being in the arena together, bonded by the mere fact we’re trying to raise healthy – physically, mentally, spiritually, etc – children. On top of that though, we’re all fighting battles. whether or not is blatantly apparent, or we dare speak of them, motherhood affects almost our every move and thought.

I don’t think we’ll ever feel like we’ve found the secret sauce to balance as a parent, but after listening to and commiserating with my friends as we search to keep our family’s sane and healthy, I hope to help you find some balance with some easy, tasty recipes.

When it comes to food, I hear it all the time, “I want to eat better but I don’t have the time,” or “my son won’t eat XYZ,” or “I’m so busy taking care of the kids, I don’t have time to feed myself,” and on and on. Smoothies and soups are my go-to avenues to pack in nutrition, especially on the go.

Health comes in many shapes, but it’s my goal to give you tools to get momentum in your life, to fuel the good stuff - the joy!

 

Green ginger smoothie

Ingredients

  • 5 slices of cucumber

  • Handful of spinach

  • 2 celery stalks

  • juice from ½  a lemon or lime

  • 1 apple, sliced

  • A knob of ginger (a little goes a long way)

  • ½ an avocado

  • 2 tbsp collagen

Preparation

Blend until smooth in a high-speed blender, like a vitamix

 

Superfood smoothie

  • 1 scoop or packet of organifi green juice on-the-go (you could also simply mix this with water and collagen and call it a day!)

  • 1 green-tipped, frozen banana

  • Handful of spinach

  • 1 ½ cups of milk of choice

  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds

  • 1 tsp of flax seeds

  • 1 tbsp. collagen

Preparation

Blend until smooth in a high-speed blender, like a vitamix


siena soup.JPG

Tuscan vegetable soup (stove or InstantPot)

  • 1 bunch kale

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped

  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped

  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1-28 oz can diced, peeled tomatoes, drained

  • 8 c chicken or vegetable broth (preferably bone broth)

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Salt and pepper

  • Sprig of thyme

  • 2+ cups of cooked, diced chicken based on your preference

  • Parmesan cheese (optional)


Preparation

Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add carrots and celery, stir until softened, about 6-8 minutes. This can also be done in an InstantPot on the sauté function.

Add kale, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until kale wilts, about 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes.

Cook until the liquid is almost evaporated.

If using an InstantPot, turn off the sauté function. Either cooking style, add broth, spices and bay leaf.

In InstantPot: use the soup function to cook for 5 minutes

On the stove: Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 35-40 minutes.

Add cooked chicken, garnish with olive oil, and parmesan cheese, if desired.

 

Here’s a throwback to a similar post with a recipe for a Turmeric chicken and veggie soup and a chocolate smoothie, with some hidden veggies.

Enjoy!

Chin up, buttercup! If you have the post-holiday blues, I've got you covered.

A Seattle stormy day…

A Seattle stormy day…

Now that the holiday cheer and merriment that kept you busy from Halloween to New Years is over, you (or a loved one) may be feeling a range of emotions from relief to sadness to fatigue to explainable body aches.

While we expect the holiday season to be busy, somewhat stressful even, we tend to ignore the emotional aftermath, which can leave us navigating unfamiliar, dark territory. Unlike a physical wound where we would apply a bandage, emotional distress can be harder to acknowledge and therefore heal. As humans we also have a propensity to make our emotional wounds worse by discounting them as something else.

Post-holiday blues are unique to everyone. However, when some basic symptoms arise that seem out of the ordinary, you may want to slow down to evaluate why they may be cropping up.

Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue or insomnia

  • Muscle tension

  • Negative self-talk

  • Lack of focus or ability to concentrate

  • Anxiety

  • Hopelessness

  • Anger

Now, if you simply feel off this winter or show any of the above signs, read through the following list to determine what resonates with you. Pick one or two that you can commit to, to help remedy your symptoms.

Be sure you’re maintaining an excellent baseline for your body to function.

This includes:

  1. Quality sleep (ideally 6.5-9 hours) in a cool, dark room; if this is not possible, carve out a time to take a power nap. Most Americans undervalue sleep, yet if the majority of us would get enough sleep and drink water, our lives would be dramatically different!

  2. Staying hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day; set yourself up right by beginning your day (yes, before your coffee), with a large cup of lukewarm, lemon water to get your body hydrated and active, flushing out toxins that have settled while sleeping.

  3. Eating fresh, whole foods; include vegetables with every meal, as well as some healthy fats (nuts, avocado, coconut and extra-virgin olive oil); skip the sugar and processed foods and drinks. The old adage, “you are what you eat,” is scarier today than in any other modern time. Buy organic meats and know the Dirty Dozen list to avoid breaking the bank on fresh produce.

    People like to bypass the importance of nutrition and focus on the exercise component. I can’t emphasize it enough that you CANNOT exercise your way out of a bad diet. Those abs truly are made (or lost) in the kitchen.

    If this is an area you truly struggle in, I highly suggest you reach to me so that I can help you achieve your body health goals or at the very least outline a plan to help you create healthy eating habits. I have 21-Day Sugar Detox groups monthly or can also coach you one-on-one, digging deeper into the root cause of your health, or lack thereof.

  4. Exercising. This doesn’t have to be intense. Simply start your day with a minimum of 10 minutes of your favorite movements. This could be push-ups in your living room, squats while brushing your teeth, a dance party with your kids, or getting off of the bus or train a stop early to walk to the office, etc. Extra points if you can get outside in natural sunlight while exercising.

  5. Speaking of sunlight, get outside every chance you get. We have a very bad habit of sitting for hours, tucked inside, possibly never seeing the light of day for more than 5 minutes during the winter. By regulating your circadian rhythm, you’ll naturally have a lighter mood. Shoot for 20 minutes outside in the light. Better yet, break up your day with a walk at lunch with your best bud.

Create new  routines in your day that provide proper outlets and boundaries to help you thrive, including:

  1. Breath work – most of us take our breath for granted. Take a few minutes out of your day (ideally first thing in the morning or before going to bed) to slow down and pay attention to your breath. Simply breathe deeply in and out of your nose slowly 10 times or better yet meditate for 10 minutes.

  2. Be grateful – express your gratitude by pen or by voice daily. Finding 3-5 things to be grateful for daily, big or small, has a significant impact on your mental health.

  3. Draw or journal.

  4. Create time for creativity and play; detox from technology and the competing noise from being plugged in. We become more inspired and creativity flows freely in these “white” spaces of time in our day than forcing the hustle mentality.

  5. Get into nature – as noted above.

  6. Exercise – again, as noted above, make this a non-negotiable. If you’re sitting most of the day in front of a computer, be sure to take breaks every couple of hours and walk around the office or go for a walk outside. Getting your eyes off the screen and moving your body will dramatically alter your state and clear your mind, making room for better creativity.

  7. Mantras – your thoughts are incredibly powerful. What do you say about yourself; how do you talk to yourself? If necessary, change the self-talk to something positive and/or proclaiming powerful, optimistic statements that start with “I AM _____!”

  8. Level up your squad – Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” To expand on that, 1) you become more like your entire circle of influence, and 2) you should audit the people you spend time with. Are they encouraging you to be a better person? Do they promote healthy habits? Do they help you be the person you excel to be? Do they help you pursue the activities that speak to your heart? Excellence and joy are contagious –make sure you surround yourself with people that make you better.

  9. In the same vain, genuinely connect with people and environment. Unplug your phone. Show up and sit down for family meals. Look people in the eye. Tell people you appreciate them. Look around at the sights and sounds, the architecture and the diverse people, when you’re walking. Listen closely as someone speaks; think before you speak. Stop and smell the roses.

  10. Celebrate little victories – it’s easy to get swept away in the busyness of the season or the work week or the deadlines, but if we don’t stop and celebrate the little wins, we keep plodding ahead with little to no enthusiasm. By nature, we beat ourselves up over perceived poor performance or mistakes. However, when we celebrate our little wins, we are building our confidence, pride in our work, and reinforcing the good behavior that produced the successful result. in contrast to the hustle attitude, it’s energizing. Don’t forget to find people to celebrate with you!

  11. Give – whether that’s giving of your time by volunteering, giving back to the earth by planting a tree, donating to your favorite charity, or purely giving of your time and being present, the ROI is always more than expected.

  12. Give yourself grace. Some days are simply easier than others, don’t beat yourself up. Especially after the holidays, it will take some time to get back to a normal routine. If all else fails, a good Epsom salt bath usually does the trick!

  13. Break down larger projects into bite size, actionable tasks. When you write your to-do list, either at home or at work, be sure to keep your tasks specific, and limit each day with no more than 8 priority items. Tackle the hardest item first to get it out of the way, gain momentum and be more confident moving forward. (remember, we want to celebrate the little victories!).

  14. Research shows that physical clutter clutters your mind and reduces your productive. Gift yourself the best gift this year and purge your desk or your closets at home. Take the one-minute to tidy up at the end of each day.

While creating new habits can feel overwhelming, take one day at a time. Reject the idea that you must do everything all at once and perfectly. Choose one thing to focus on and master it before moving on. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. So, remember one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow or how often you must get up and try again.

All that being said, if your winter blues seem a shade darker, refusing to lift in the days and weeks upon returning to the office, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common, legit issue that should be addressed properly. Above all, know that you’re not alone in the process.

Filling my cup and how you can fill yours....or just make chocolate peppermint cups (recipe)!

Homemade peppermint coconut cups

Homemade peppermint coconut cups

Four-day weekends should be a thing at least once a month, don’t you think?

During these four-day holiday breaks from work, I’ve:

  • slept. A lot. Man did this exhausted mama need it!

  • read.

  • tidied up the pantry, the bane of my existence craft cupboard, and tomorrow will be for my children’s messy room. Shhhh, don’t tell them I’m in a purging mode.

  • taken my time at the gym.

  • made yummy, chocolate treats. More on that below.

  • Taken at least one Epsom bath so far.

  • watched both seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I highly recommend it. I may have even shed a tear when Season 2 concluded.

Most importantly, I’ve connected with family, friends, and my community.

Today I hit up my local, Walnut Creek farmer’s market to visit my friend Chris at the smoked salmon stand. Since I get most of my produce from Imperfect Produce and rarely need anything else during the week, grabbing a salmon filet (and possibly a waffle from Rooted) is the only reason I go to the Farmer’s Market. Strange, I know!

Anyway, I knew Chris was taking January off, so it would be a good 5 weeks until I got my salmon fix. Prepared to buy more than usual, Chris, pleased to see me, went on to bless me with 3 salmon filets, for FREE. What? He said it was a gift because he enjoyed seeing me and the girls on Sundays.  We’re far from regulars, but I’ve made a point to not only consume but take my time and get to know him. We banter with his neighbor vendor, the sweet potato pie guy, and genuinely like to chat. There’s something about having friends and being known, even if it’s not a deep relationship.

Before the crowds became too overwhelming, we hugged it out and I wished him well until I saw him again in February.

This interaction reminds me of the vendors I befriended at Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market, when I lived near the market and was a SAHM. Everyday I’d push my babies through the market, to say hello, grab some veggies or eggs, and just be a kind face in the sea of consumers.

That’s how you get to know people anyway, right?

A simple hello, a smile, some kind words…..it doesn’t take much. Or as Ed Sheeran says, “Love can change the world in a moment…”

Last night, I was also able to sneak out with some moms from school. Turns out 3 hours at True Food was just the thing I needed – perhaps what all three of us needed. If we hadn’t shut down True Food, I’m sure we could have talked the night away drinking our pomegranate kombucha! Ha!

Connection, let alone sharing stories that make you feel not so alone, is important. We may come from all sorts of backgrounds, but we share common denominators of being moms, working moms at that, trying to figure out this life as an adult, being transplants - moving across stateliness, even countries, to name a few.

It’s refreshing to commiserate, as well as celebrate this moment in our lives; share our worries and fears, hopes and dreams, question our school’s hippiness and horrible math homework, and our awkward conversations with our kids about sex, the internet, and gender. Who knew back in the 80’s that we’d have so many different gender pronouns in 2018! Sheesh! And why in the world have they changed the way they teach math?!

Anyway, I implore to get out. To connect. To smile at a stranger. To say hello and ask them out.


santa's cup.jpg

Moving on to tasty things though.

I was on dessert duty for Christmas and made some deliciously rich peppermint fudge cups I saw on the eating evolved website here. They were a hit. You’ve been warned though, they’re very rich and one is sufficient, even for this chocoholic. As well as Santa!

Earlier in the month I also made my own peppermint coconut cups which were just as wonderful. They’re very similar (i.e easy) to make as outlined in the recipe above, but I’ll note it here:

Coconut center Ingredients:

  • 1 cup homemade or premade coconut butter

    (To make homemade coconut butter, simply dump 16oz of shredded coconut  - feel free to lightly toast beforehand - with a pinch of salt in a food processor an let ‘er whirl until you have a smooth consistency, about 10 minutes.)

  • 2-3 drops or an ⅛ tsp peppermint oil - a small amount goes a long way

  • 1 crushed candy cane--optional

Chocolate Cup Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup dark chocolate melted

Instructions

Filling Instructions:

  1. Once you have your coconut butter, add the peppermint oil and blend again until mixed.

Chocolate Cup Instructions:

  1. Take a wax lined cupcake liner OR silicone cupcake liner an spoon 2 tablespoons of melted primal chocolate into bottom. Swirl around, covering the ¾ of the cupcake liner. Place on a flat surface and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Assemble:

  1.  Drop 1-2 tbsp of the coconut butter into the bottom of the chocolate cup (with the liner still on). Liquid coconut butter is easier to work with, so you may need to warm it up slightly, but be sure it’s not hot otherwise you’ll melt the chocolate! Let harden some – 5 minutes in the fridge should suffice.

  2. Pour another tbsp of chocolate over the top, spread to the sides, and place back in fridge for at least 20 minutes.

  3. Enjoy!


How did you relax this holiday season and what did you make? I’d love to know!

P.S. If you need help weaning yourself from chocolate and all of the sugar this season, or simply need some inspiration on how to create healthy habits or a kick start a healthy eating plan come January, reach out or join my January 21-Day Sugar Detox group! I’ve got you covered.

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

together.jpg

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.

elephant.jpg

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!