connection

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.

The top 10 ways to benefit from connecting IRL.

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The heat of the sun on your back.

The fresh air in your lungs.

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

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

However, all to often I’m a homebody.

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

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

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

  • Sleep

  • Nutrition

  • Exercise

  • Connection

Today I want to focus on connection.

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

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

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

  • increased chance of longevity by 50%

  • strengthen our immune system

  • recover from disease faster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are good, healthy feelings.

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

Some practical tips to connect:

  1. say hello or smile at a stranger

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

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

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

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

  6. Read a book with your kids or spouse.

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

  8. Invite your neighbors over for a seasonal treat.

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

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

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

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