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

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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%!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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


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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.


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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

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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!