After Holidays Hangover

I’m not talking about the alcohol kind of hangover. Or the sugar crash, or the sluggish feeling from all the heavy, processed foods. This is more of an emotional hangover. And I’m not sure why it has happened again, but it has.

The holiday season of 2017 is a blur. I was so numb, so sad, so overwhelmed and I just wanted it to be over. Gone were my dreams of having our first Christmas season with not just one baby, but two. It was one of the very first things I looked forward to when I found out I was pregnant. “When will they be born, oh by October. That means we’ll have babies at Christmas.” My heart exploded at the excitement. And now I’m still trying to come to a place of acceptance, they are not here, and they are not going to be, and it’s so, so hard.

This most recent holiday season, I felt better coming into it. I had a little bit of pep in my step. I looked at everything that had happened in 2018 and I was feeling good about the year ending with a fresh start on the horizon. And then, again, it hit. I don’t know what to call it. Holiday dread? Holiday sadness? Seasonal sadness? Whatever it is, it just plain sucks. What it feels like, is I just want to stay at home. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I don’t want to see anyone unless they completely get what I am going through and unless they can sit in it with me. And that’s hard, because there is only one person who can truly be there for me like that, and that’s my husband. Even then, our experiences are parallel, and not exactly the same.

I didn’t want to attend any parties or events, or family gatherings. And family reading this may not understand and that’s ok, I don’t expect them to. It’s impossible to understand a pain you have never experienced. For whatever reason, the holiday dread was real this year. And since it snuck up on me, I wasn’t prepared and it stopped me in my tracks. Instead of using my tools and resources, I just ended up wallowing in it. And in some way, I still am.

Emotions are exhausting, especially heavy emotions. They rip the vitality right out of you. It’s all I can do to survive on a day when I feel taken down by my emotions, to just get out of bed and go through the motions. There’s not much bandwidth for anything else. Not even for self care that could possibly help. Maybe a bath, maybe a walk, maybe a few minutes of yoga. They might feel ok in the moment, but I’ve noticed that one those really gut wrenching days, they’re mostly just distractions. All I can do is sit in it and feel.

So the overwhelm of all the exhausting emotions during the holidays has left me with an emotional hangover. It’s still lingering. And I believe it’s continuing to linger because 1-it needs to and 2-I’m allowing it to. I’m not trying to tell myself to get over it. I want to feel better, I really do. I’d invite in any feeling but the feelings of sadness that stops me in my tracks. Yet it’s here. So that means it’s time to sit with it, be with it, and find out what I can do to survive within it. That’s where the practice comes in. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s exhausting. And it’s necessary, because all I desire is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even if it’s 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. I just want to keep moving. Healing isn’t linear, it’s going to be a mess of scraggly lines and sharp edges. It’s important to me to honor what comes and to just keep moving. So literally, that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been exercising a bit more and it helps. I’m cooking meals I enjoy and it helps. I try to find one tiny moment of fulfillment or joy, and it helps. Yes it’s fleeting, but it also helps.

I don’t know how long this holiday hangover will last. I think it’s being compounded because of what happened with my cat Zoey in December, and because of the hormones I’m taking for the fertility treatments we have started to undergo. And yes, we started those just before the holidays. I didn’t want to, and then all of a sudden I got tired of waiting, and felt ready. Of course I wasn’t fully ready, I don’t think we’ll ever be. But again, I just wanted to start taking some steps. They may not be in the right direction, but moving in any direction feels better than sitting still.

Can my hangover be cured? I’m not sure. Slowly I believe the ache will fade. I was really looking forward to January, and now that it’s here, I’m trying to make it work for me. I’m slowly letting go of anything that I find triggering, anything that is not serving me 100%. I don’t always know what is not serving me until it feels overwhelming and too much, and that’s ok. I can still let go anytime I need to. Just giving myself that permission to put me and my family first feels so freeing and that feels fulfilling in and of itself. I don’t need anyone to understand, and I don’t expect them to. Most days I don’t even understand this journey myself.

If you find yourself in a holiday hangover, or with a new year’s hangover, or with a something hangover this time of year, be gentle with yourself. Do less. Rest more. Spend time doing what you truly enjoy, or spend time binge watching tv or a movie that will completely distract you. Take time to just be. Enjoy the stillness of winter, the quiet of the crisp leafless rows of trees, the steady rhythm of the rain or the softness of the snow. I believe nature tries to show us what we need all along. To me winter’s message is, this too will pass. Ahhhh, I feel better already.

Thanks for reading as I process my emotions and experiences out loud. I appreciate you being on this journey with me. Although we all have our own realities, they mirror each other more than we realize. Different situations still bring on similar feelings, and I believe because of that, we can start to recognize our similarities and hold more empathy for each other. It might even be the only way.

When Grief Resurfaces

It’s really trendy right now to hear about triggers, or trigger warnings. I’m not a psychologist so I won’t go into details of why we have them or what can be a trigger. I can only speak from my own experience. I find it interesting that we need “warnings” because often a trigger is spontaneous and unexpected. And in my own experience, a trigger is UNCONTROLLABLE, meaning we have no idea what is going to trigger, when it’s going to trigger, or how it will come about. An article about a topic, let’s say grief, might come with a trigger warning, and I can read it and not have a harmful reaction. Yet someone else experiencing grief may have a very uncomfortable reaction. It’s completely unpredictable. And like I said, I am not a psychologist, so I’m sure there are many situations where trigger warnings are necessary and effective. In a case where this is not so, I leave you my thought on this … Why are we so afraid to feel our feelings? What are we trying to protect ourselves from? What is the worse that can happen if those feelings potentially resurface?

Recently, deep feelings of grief came up when my cat became sick. She’s 12 years old, and is very special to me. When we were young and not having babies, my husband brought home a kitty who became our first furbaby. Her name is Misha and now she is 13 years old. She has been with us through everything and I can’t imagine life without her. When we had had her for about 1.5 years, we decided she needed a friend. I went to the same cat adoption facility and there was Zoey. The minute I spotted her, laying on a cat that didn’t have ears and giving him a massage while pawing and purring away, I knew she was ours. I went back a second time and she literally picked me. She ran up to me, jumped on my back and ran up my shoulder. That was it, and she came home with me that day. This little spicy orange tabby is my soulmate. She is so friendly and soft and ridiculously cute and I am (most likely unhealthily) attached to her. We’re so close and she often just wants to be held. Honestly, if I had a cat baby carrier, this cat would be happy to be in it all day by my side. Our fur babies are very special to me, as they have been with us through countless moves, ups and downs of trying to grow our family, job loss, intense transitions, and all that life brings. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

We’ve had our fair share of random vet visits and emergency vet scares. But things have been going well with our cats and their health for some time. A few weeks ago Zoey was sneezy and goopy in the corners of her eyes and we thought she might be coming down with something. The next day, all of a sudden, one of her eyes looked really bad. Swollen, the inner lid (3rd eyelid) covering some of her eye, and her pupil just didn’t look right. After taking her in to the vet, to receive a possible diagnosis, she continued to not get any better. Two days later she was even worse, and the next day I took her back to the vet again. At this time, whenever I wasn’t at a class teaching yoga, I was by her side. Chores, cooking, doing other things like this blogging, none of it mattered. I just wanted to comfort her and do what I could to help her feel better.

The next day, things became even worse. She started to walk very wobbly, and wasn’t jumping up on the couch or the bed like a cat normally does. She was falling and seemed very out of balance. I started freaking out big time, and I stayed home with her for the next 24 hours to see if her conditions persisted or if they calmed down. There was talk of possibly needing an MRI to rule out a spinal tumor, and a spinal tap to test her for meningitis.

I was a wreck. Emotions can be exhausting when you really let them course through you and feel what you need to feel. And I was feeling all of it and it was so tiring. I just held her and sobbed. I prayed for her, prayed to all the divine beings I could think of, and to our angel sons, asking for her to receive relief and for her health to improve. I practiced yoga and dedicated the energy of my practice to her healing. I sobbed and prayed some more. I just held her, and didn’t want to let her go. I told her she can’t be sick, she can’t go yet, that it’s too soon and I need her to stay with me for at least a few more years.

The realization that I might have to say goodbye to her was too much. I was worried sick about what was going on with her. We had no concrete answers and that made it even more difficult. All I could do was feel my feelings and process them the way that felt right, and that mostly meant holding my fur baby and sobbing my eyes out.

Those four days were so hard. I was numb. My thoughts were consumed with what was possibly wrong with her, and what I could do about it. I didn’t want to do anything but hold my kitty. I could have cared less about food, about smiling or laughing, and I’m not even sure I cared about showering. This all felt very familiar. This experience, I knew it. It had happened before, and it was being resurrected. Not on the same scale, not to the same degree, but it was all too familiar.

My grief had resurfaced.

I didn’t expect it too, I didn’t ask for it too, and no amount of trigger warnings could have done anything about it. The wave came crashing and all I could do was try to stay afloat and gasp for air every moment I was able to. I tried to do what provided seconds, moments, of relief when I was deeply grieving for our twin sons. It started coming back to me.

It may seem simple, but in those moments where all you can do is cling to survival, here are some practices that may help:

  • drink lots of water

  • pause every so often to take some slow, deep breaths

  • sleep as much as you need to, and nap too

  • if you don’t feel like going out of the house, that’s ok

  • if you do feel like getting out, try going on an easy walk

  • ask for help with whatever you might need

  • if you’re not up to cooking, have dinner delivered

  • journal

  • watch mindless tv

  • read a book

  • take a soothing epsom salt bath with essential oils

  • do some gentle yoga

  • meditate

  • try to stay away from stimulants or depressants (caffeine/alcohol)

  • try CBD if it has helped you (it has definitely helped my anxiety at times)

  • make some soothing herbal tea

  • hit pillows or scream into them

  • jump up and down, run around, and shake it out

  • ground yourself by stepping outside barefoot, feeling the earth, the air around you, and the sun on your face

This is not a cure all, absolute list. Some things may resonate with you, others not at all. Take it at your pace. You might find something else that I didn’t even mention helps, and that is perfect as well.

This is also not specific to just grief. An experience that brings of certain emotions, that can be triggered again, can happen to anyone at any time. Be gentle with yourself. This is part of the human experience and more of more, it’s time we bring awareness to our emotions, honor them, and accept that they support us, help us, and teach us.

I’m curious to know what has helped you regulate and journey through resurfacing grief or other emotions. Let me know so that we can share, for what has helped you at one time is bound to help someone else, and the more we share, the more we support and uplift one another.

Are There Stages of Grief?

There could be. According to Elisabeth Kubler Ross in her book, On Death and Dying (1969) there are five stages of grief:

  • denial

  • anger

  • bargaining

  • depression

  • acceptance

Ross was a psychiatrist and a pioneer in studying near death experiences. What she has brought to the table about grief is important and valuable. And I also think there is so much more, as each individual’s experience is so unique. Of course, there is a thread of similarity in our collective human experiences. And because there is no separation, we can find a vein of familiarity in the spectrum of how humans experience loss and grief. And at the same time, so many other issues in the background inform someone’s own unique journey, and can be very different from the next. All I can offer is my own experience, so that is the place I’m coming from.

Before my journey with grief began, I didn’t know much about it. I’m sure I’ve had it ebb and flow through me from time to time, but I never felt like it was anything really talked about, and that is mostly happened when someone died. I confused grief with mourning, which can be the expression of grief, and also the expression of any other feelings and emotions that come from loss (and loss doesn’t have to be a death). Grief, I have come to learn, is a process, is a journey, is a part of life. It is not an event like I used to confuse it for. According to Better Health Channel, grief is a response to loss. It can be the emotions, thoughts, physical symptoms, and more that surround a tragic or traumatic loss.

So do these stages occur? Probably for most people to some degree. And I’m wondering if sometimes it is so minute that one “phase” can seem like it didn’t even come. I personally don’t accept that the stages of grief are a linear continuum where you enter on one end and come out on the other. The ins and out of the stages can be rocky, turbulent, disturbing, and at other times, fluid, easy and possibly even unexpected. I do think it is extremely possible to be in more than one stage of grief at a time as well. And overall they seem very limited to me. I do understand that the stages are supposed to be very general and overall encompassing for the vast array of human experiences. However, just shrinking grief down to five stages seems very limiting and stifling to me.

I can’t say that I had an angry stage, maybe a few days where I felt some anger, but it didn’t feel like an entire phase. What I did feel, which isn’t even in the five stages, is anxiety. SO MUCH ANXIETY. For at least a year, it was really intense. The first 6-8 months anxiety raged whenever it wanted and showed up unexpectedly all the time. It could come on emotionally or physically, and sometimes both. Or my thoughts were affected by anxiety, and even my actions. Yes I absolutely experienced sadness and depression, and some days still really do, but the anxiety was really intense, far beyond depression. And I doubt I’m the only one who has had this kind of response to grief.

Another thing I have read about the stages is that once you are in acceptance, you are in a place where you may feel your grief, and it will come from a place of more understanding and knowing that this is your new reality. I do like that and have absolutely felt that at times in the last few months. And I don’t believe it’s the end. I have felt acceptance at times, and then really deep, painful sadness sets in. And I will always miss our sons, always. I will always wonder what our life with them on earth would have been like. And maybe those feelings will ebb and flow, and some days I’ll feel angry and others I’ll still be in denial. Also, I think these blanket definition of these emotions is just that, an overall umbrella of what they truly are. No two people can feel grief the same, which means no two people feel sadness the same, or acceptance the same.

Overall, I believe the stages of grief can be helpful to read about, and they are not absolute on any terms. And they may not even apply to you at all, and that’s ok. What I found more helpful was reading spiritual books about grief, especially books by spiritual intuitive and medium James Van Praagh. I appreciate his outlook and his approach to grief as a spiritual matter in his book Healing Grief. That resonates with me much more than a scientific or secular description or understanding of grief. And again, that is just me! Another great resource is Refuge in Grief and the book, It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok. I found the support and resources on this site to be extremely helpful, real, raw and honest. Some days you just feel like crap, and it’s perfectly ok. Even though I tend to have a more spiritual outlook, some days you just need a dose of honest reality as well.

Grief is a part of life, because loss is a part of life. Grief is how we react to, process and journey through the experience of loss. It might be through stages, and it might be on your entirely own path that you are forging for the first time, or something in between. You will ebb and flow as you need to. Some days will hurt more than you can ever imagine, and other days you’ll be ok and wonder if that is ok that you actually feel ok. And it is. And any other way you need to feel or think about this process is more than valid,

What Acceptance Looks Like

Often there are “stages” of grief spoken about. I don’t believe in that concept. I don’t believe that experience, trauma, emotions, and healing can be boxed in like that. Of course, you’ll see people say things like, “The stages of grief aren’t linear” or “You can go in and out of any stage 10 years after your trauma with a simple trigger”. Ok, I appreciate that outlook on the stages of grief for sure. But I still it’s just so cut and dry like that. Recently I was listening to Cheryl Strayed on a podcast (the woman who wrote Wild which eventually became a film starring Reese Witherspoon) and she was discussing the loss of her mother. It has been some time, maybe almost 20 years, since her mother passed away. She said she still misses her mother every single day. That’s what grief can really look like. Maybe she’s not angry, maybe she’s not sad, but she still misses her. This feels like the way I approach grief as well. I miss our sons and always will. I’m not sure I had an “angry” phase, and maybe I never will. Because I don’t believe there are any stages. But a piece of me will always be sad, always miss them, and always have a little bit of pain around the experience of holding them so briefly and having to say goodbye so quickly.

Recently we went to Yosemite National Park, at one of the worst times of the year, fall. It’s so cold, don’t go there in the fall, there’s no water in the falls and it’s just cold and miserable …. Ok so that’s not true but I tell you that so that it doesn’t get overcrowded there during our favorite time of year! Fall is the most lovely time of year in Yosemite. I’m sure spring is beautiful as well. But fall is just really special there. So do check it out at least once in your life :)

On a walk along the valley floor to a trail head, there was a family with two small boys walking right behind us. The boys sped up, went past us, and proceeded to play around along the trail, balancing on logs on the side and throwing fall leaves around. Then they stopped and I got a good look at them. They were twins, identical. They were probably in their late 3’s or early 4’s, with big brown eyes and the cutest but most mischievous little smiles. I bantered with them for a moment, smiled to the parents, and then we kept walking on. One more time they ran past us and then stalled back, waiting for their parents. After a few moments we were well past them (they stopped a lot to just be curious kids) and I started bawling. I buried my face into Ryan’s arm and we just kept walking, the only sound was a few birds, the leaves in the breeze, and my sniffles from crying. Although we didn’t have identical twin boys, and they wouldn’t be almost 4 years old by now, it just really hit me. Hard.

We’d never go on a family vacation with our sons, travel and explore all the curiosities of the world around us. That is not going to happen in this lifetime. And then I started to wonder if we’d ever have any children to share the world with. The wonder of a child’s eye when they are in nature is the most exciting experience, and I found myself crying over the loss that we may never have a life like that. The tears came hard and fast, and then subsided after a few minutes. We stopped, I had a drink of water and started to breathe. I was probably breathing before, I just don’t remember. I asked Ryan if he was ok, and he said he was. He’s so amazing, I don’t know how he does it. He has told me time and time again, that our boys left when they did, and that stopped his “what if’s” about anything in the future. He knows they are not here, so his mind doesn’t go there. It’s a gift really. I’d give anything to never have a “what if” float through my head and ruin my day!

After a few deeper breaths, the crisp air revitalized me. We kept going on the trail, a very simple nature walk, and I started to look around at all the beauty immediately surrounding me. The grandeur of the sheer, granite cliffs surrounding the valley. The fall leaves covering the forest floor with a blanket of golden softness. The unique and intricate features of the hiking path, winding past massive boulders, under trees, over bridges and alongside a dry creek bed. I took it all in, with such a feeling of presence, reverence, and awe for the incredible world around me that I am so fortunate to be a part of. And all of a sudden, I was ok. I really was. There was a calm that came over me that I can’t explain, and can still feel in this moment as I think of it. Along with that calm, I felt a massive shift took place. I can only describe this shift as acceptance. And as someone who doesn’t believe in the stages of grief, maybe I did get a glimpse of what is possible and maybe there are stages, just in various unique forms that are impossible to identify because they are so individual to each circumstance.

So what does this acceptance feel like? I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s not like our loss has been ignored. It’s not like our feelings and experience have been diminished. But something shifted to deeply in me on that day that I can’t help but feel like it’s something to the effect of accepting a new reality, accepting what cannot be changed, and accepting that there is a new future ahead to hope for and to live for.

Hope. Acceptance feels like hope. Hope for what, I don’t know. Maybe just hope, because does hope need to have an outcome? Does hope need to have something attached to it. I don’t think so.

Acceptance feels like hope. In that moment, with that experience of seeing the twin boys and having such a radical shift in that moment, acceptance feels like hope. I’ll take it, because I’ve had days where I’ve felt much less than something that could even resemble hope. It’s a journey, ever winding and changing. So for now, if a wave of acceptance is showing up, I will definitely ride this one out.

Sustainable Consent

The definition of consent is

Permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something

Recently I took some time off, and in that time I did some really wonderful things that filled me up and really nourished me. We spent a few days in Yosemite (fall is my favorite time there) and I attended a 5 day yoga teacher training intensive. Time was suspended as I got to dive in to all the things that I love, nature and yoga! And now the integration has begun. Personally I find it impossible to have an experience and not have it create a ripple effect in our lives, in some way. And lucky me, I had 2 of these experiences in a short amount of time. Something happened while we were at Yosemite that I’ll blog about soon. But for now, what on earth do I mean by sustainable consent?

There are a lot of conversations about consent occurring, and they are important. They are valid, and worthy, and worthwhile, and need to happen. This is not going to be a conversation about outward consent with others. This is a conversation about inward consent. Consent with yourself, to yourself, and for yourself. Giving YOURSELF permission. This concept really struck a chord with me during my yoga teacher training, so much so that it is starting to change things for me, so I thought I’d share it with you, in hopes that you might get something out of it as well.

Something that you might hear a lot, is take care of yourself. The self care movement has exploded in the last 5-10 years. There’s a lot happening now in the workplace, like the ability to take a mental health day, which is so important that we start to move in this direction. I have also heard a lot in the realm of thinking and self talk. Using positive self talk, and talking to yourself as if you were a little child whom you loved dearly. Would you speak down to this child, or lift them up, encourage them, and be their inner best friend? These are all amazing practices. And what about when it comes to decision making? How many decisions do we make in a day? Probably hundreds of thousands, they are just so fast and many of them feel so automatic, it doesn’t seem like a decision. What did you have for breakfast? Let’s say you had the choice between an apple and a banana, so you picked one. Whether you were aware of it or not. Or let’s say all you had on hand was a banana. You still made a choice, to eat that banana or to eat nothing at all. You even choose as to whether you want to turn the light switch on when you enter a room or not. You could go into a dark room, but you choose the light. It takes a millisecond and it’s so automatic, and it’s still a choice. Still with me?

Let’s translate this to the choices you make that you might need to think a little bit about. Do you pick up your phone or pick up a book? Do you answer emails or watch tv? Do you go to the gym or yoga class or stay home on the couch (if you are sick, please stay home, just sayin!)? Do you eat the vegetables and healthy complex cards, or eat the fat ridden meal? These choices might be very obvious to you, but they happen, all day long. And as you are making these choices all day long, where is your consent? Where does your consent come from, what is your motivation or value behind the choice you are making and the permission you are giving yourself? This is where it really hit me!

For example, as a yoga teacher, I receive a lot of requests to substitute classes. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that some weeks, I get over 50+ email requests to sub. They are not specifically to me, but to the entire network of teachers in a given system. I have a choice, every single time of one of the sub requests comes through, to respond with yes or no. Often if it is a no, no reply is needed. But I still respond to myself to know what action to take. If I respond with yes, I need to take further steps to claim that class and relieve the current instructor so they can have the time off. Sometimes, when these sub requests are exciting, like a prime time class I know will have a lot of students, or at a place that offers really nice pay, or a unique corporate location where I have never been (lots of those in Silicon Valley!), it’s really tempting to say yes. When I was first teaching, I said yes to everything. I found myself teaching about 17 or 18 classes a week during the holidays my first year as a yoga teacher. I had said yes so much, was so excited about all the money I’d be making and all the people I’d get to offer yoga to, that the offers were too enticing to say no to. But did I actually WANT to say no to any of those offers? Did I check in with my own consent? Did I actually give myself permission, or did I somehow feel obligated, so I said yes? Was I playing some old programming in my subconscious mind, that I wanted to be liked, that I wanted to be reliable, that I wanted to be of worth, so I took all of those on?

When I started to look at personal consent like this, a huge light went off! What are we doing to take care of ourselves in a sustainable way? I have learned that before I say yes to subbing, I look at my week before and after the class that needs a sub. Then I need to see if I’m already subbing, if I have any social events or workshops I have already said yes to, do I have any appointments that need attending, or any personal matters that need attending to that are on my calendar. THEN, after all that is settled, I can say yes or no to subbing the class. This is the process it takes to be able to sustainably give myself permission. It took me about a year or 1.5 years of teaching yoga to develop this system of personal consent for myself. That’s a LONG time! How long is it going to take in other areas of life? When it comes to how I decide to eat, to move my body, who I spend my time with, etc.

I have discovered that the key behind personal consent is focusing on how you want to FEEL. What permission do you need to give yourself to support how you want to FEEL? If you get invited to a social event, will it produce the feeling that you desire? If you want to have fun and enjoy time with friends, sounds like a good choice! If you desire quiet time, time for introspection, or maybe just time to clean your house or go grocery shopping, saying yes would not be consenting to how you really want to feel.

This seems so simple and yet very radical at the same time! And like all other forms of self study (known as svadyaya in the yoga world), it takes time to practice what works for you. And when things don’t work out, there are bound to be lessons along the way. Life is always full of lessons for us!

So, what have you said YES to lately that you are really excited about?? What have you said YES to lately that gives you a not so good feeling in the pit of your stomach? And what have you said NO to that feels really, really good to say no to? And what have you said NO to that makes you feel regretful, remorseful or downtrodden?

It’s all in the practice. Take time to tap into your own personal values and what is right and good for you. No one else can tell you this, it comes from within. And then practice. Start giving consent for little things along the way. And then make them bigger. There is no wrong way to practice sustainable self consent, and you can’t mess it up! What you choose will have an effect no matter what, and you get to learn and grow from that experience. This can actually be a really fun way to practice getting clear on what you really believe and to show yourself how valuable and worthy you truly are (because you are and you don’t need to prove it, just feel it for yourself!).

Have fun with creating more sustainable, self-consenting choices that support you in feeling good, worthy, and happy to be you!

Radical Self Care

It happens to me more and more, every time I go to the grocery store, to Costco, to a restaurant, to the farmer’s market. I am deeply, acutely aware of how sick we are. I am appalled at the choices of what is disgustingly called “food” that we are seemingly forced to chose from. We aren’t told we have options. We aren’t told we can get better. I see more and more people staggering, stumbling to walk, with all kinds of devices hooked to them to keep them alive.

As I go out to these places and see what is all around us, I literally ask myself if this is real life. And it gets to me on a deep level. My heart hurts for how much everyone is suffering. My heart hurts for the truth that so many are not aware of, or that they ignore, or the limited beliefs that keep them from opening up to what is possible. My heart hurts for the animals being needlessly killed to become “food” that is slowly killing us (because how can we eat dead flesh and not be effected, physically, emotionally and spiritually?). My heart hurts for sick children, for those with debilitating issues where no medical doctor or expert can give them any answers, and for those who don’t know that they can take their health into their own hands because they give up their power to who they believe can help them, when no one has the answers that they need.

We are sicker than ever, we are more overweight than ever. There has never been more confusing information out there about nutrition, diet, supplements and in medical research. One thing is great for you and the next day it’s deadly. There is so much competing information from interest groups and those looking to make a profit and they do not have your best interest in mind. There are also some amazing doctors out there who don’t have the answers, because the research and information just isn’t there. And they don’t have the time, they are tired, overworked and trying to make a difference as best as they can with what they know. But we know so little, truly. My own doctor told me that the more he learns about the human body, the less he feels that he knows and he’s been practicing medicine for over 30 years.

This is an epidemic. It’s time to take your power back. You have the authority to be your own agent of your health. It’s your body, your life, and you can do this. The human body is designed to heal. We just haven’t come far enough to see true healing on a deep level and on a massive level. Yes surgeries can heal broken bones, torn ligaments, even a shattered pelvis. I have seen my own family members come back from what could have been an accident that ended their life. Modern medicine is amazing for that. But the deeper issues are still a mystery.

For the last 8 years, I’ve been on a quest for holistic and natural living. Something inside of me started searching for more, because I could not accept that this was the way life was supposed to be. I almost got my tonsils out, and when I changed my diet, I no longer get strep throat, at all. I had it chronically for the first 28 years of my life. I haven’t had once incident in almost 10 years. That wasn’t because I got my tonsils out. I kept my tonsils because they are an important part of the body that provide immune defense. I stepped up to radical self care, and that is what has changed everything for me.

Radical self care is doing EVERYTHING in your power and in your heart that you know to be true and that you know you need to do for yourself. It is IGNORING the naysayers, ignoring the trends and the traps of what is trying to hook you in, it is STANDING UP for your health no matter what.

Our world is not normal. It’s not normal to work an incredibly long week and be so exhausted you don’t have time to prepare nutrient rich food so you grab whatever you can and shove it down to appease the hunger. It’s not normal to numb ourselves with a neurotoxin (alcohol) or other substances that give us a hit of dopamine, just because we feel that we can’t be sociable or around others without it, or just because it’s a social “tradition”. It’s not normal for a young child to be on medication because they can’t “sit still”. It’s not normal to take 15 bottles of pills just to stay alive, and half of them are to counter the adverse side effects of the first 5 or 10 that you take. This is not how we are supposed to live. Yet is is how we are living, because somehow it hasn’t become apparent that there is another way.

Some are trying and there is a movement, there always has been. Witches burned at the stake were skilled herbal healers. Midwives shunned by white western doctors at the turn of the 20th century were women of color who had generations of healing expertise and experience behind them. Yet fear was created and they were attacked instead of celebrated for their skills as competent midwives. The “alternative” healer is not alternative at all, they are just not what gets the most noise, they’re not what spreads the message louder, and they are not where the money is. So they get drowned out by the big guys. And it can be hard to listen. It can be confusing because the messages are so loud, so filled with fear, and so widely accepted by almost everyone in society. When you go against the grain and follow your heart, it takes an amount of bravery that is so courageous and so vigilant that many don’t believe in themselves and that it is possible for them. Once you take that first step, you will realize how strong you are and how possible it really is.

So what is radical self care to me? It means bringing my own food almost everywhere I go. It means having a daily routine of herbal teas, essential oils, tinctures and supplements that I try to express my utmost gratitude for. It can get me down to stay consistent and on top of my game with all of my healing tonics. But I know what the alternative feels like, and I don’t want that. I try and continue to remind myself to try to express immense gratitude for the knowledge I have gained and for the easy access I have to all of these healing items. Radical self care looks like saying no when I need to, and reminding myself to say it more often if necessary. It looks like not picking up a drink with everyone else and being ok with it that, because I am in the company of who I want to be with and I don’t need to numb myself to be present. It looks like getting herbal tea when I meet a friend for coffee, as much as I want that delicious coffee, because I know my liver and adrenals will be paying for it later, and it’s not worth it to me. It looks like stopping to meditate, even when I don’t want to, and it looks like giving myself permission to FEEL my feelings. It looks like deep self introspection and always working on my shit. Yes its hard. Growth is challenging and can be so painful. Shedding limited beliefs and recognizing when the ego is trying to sabotage me is tricky stuff. So I take it a day at a time.

Radical self care means trying to go to bed early, trying! And it also means throwing all caution and doing something amazing and crazy just because you want to have fun! Go to that amusement park, go see the action movie that you secretly love, none of those are bad if they make you feel good in a POSITIVE way. That’s the complicated part. Feeling good can be a blip of a moment from a hit of dopamine. Or it can be deeply soul filling. There is a big difference, and it takes a lot of exploration and curiosity to discover the difference.

Radical self care means living a life that is not ordinary, that goes against the grain and is the least popular way to live according to what society portrays. It’s not an easy road, it takes daily work and commitment. And it might feel lonely at times. But you will definitely find your people that get you. You will find your community of others who feel the same way you do. And even when others do not, it’s not a big deal. Because when you know who you are, know what choices you need to make to care for yourself, you can stand in your truth just about anywhere. You don’t need anyone’s approval except your own.

Radical self care is not radical at all if you think about why you are doing it and the outcome you are experiencing. For me, I want to live a life of wellness and vitality for as long as I can. I know what helps me feel good, and it is worth all of the effort. Because living life in the present moment, feeling the best we can given what we have, might just be what this life is all about.

Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway

When I was pregnant and in my first trimester, I learned of a prenatal yoga teacher training program in my area and thought it might be fun to take the training while I was pregnant. Once the nausea, tiredness, lightheadedness and then high risks came into the picture, I knew it wasn’t an option. And then the opportunity came around again shortly after we had lost the boys, and there was no way that even sounded remotely fun to me. It sounded like torture.

And all this time, lingering in the back of my mind, has been this whisper that it’s something I will end up doing. I feel so drawn to support women through fertility challenges, pregnancy loss, and even high risk pregnancies or even women who become pregnant after a loss. And so, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.

I’m scared out of my mind, and I’m going to do it anyway. Starting in January 2019, I’ll be enrolled in prenatal yoga teacher training. Right now I’m excited, and that is probably going to change a lot by January! This, along with learning of trauma informed yoga which I have just barely started to do, is the first step towards this new venture. Two years ago, I would have not even had this on my radar. Everything changed after our sons came and left, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s going to take time, a lot of patience and dedication, a lot of learning and a lot of growing pains. A LOT of growing pains.

Another reason I’m excited for this is because I am going to be facing a fear and limited belief head on, and I see no other way that will help me to grow and blossom out of this experience than one that is surrounded by the support and community of a teacher training cohort. What I mean is, I’m going to be around pregnant women, a lot. And that used to be very painful for me. Extremely painful. All those years of not being pregnant, and I would just glare at a woman who walked by rubbing her belly, as if she was gloating about it. When in reality, she probably was trying to soothe some heartburn or nausea! I see pregnant women different now, but I’m still scared of them. And I used to be one, and the outcome was not what we had been hoping for from my pregnancy. So I’m still scared of pregnant women, to an extent. I know now that there are no guarantees, and I have NO idea what their back story is or how their pregnancy came to be. I try to be sensitive and don’t ask questions or pry, because I didn’t like that when I was pregnant. So I am going into a whole new territory with this experience. I am stepping into what might be the most uncomfortable thing for me. And I’m actually looking forward to it.

I’m looking forward to it because I’m hoping to shed the limited beliefs I have around pregnancy. I was pregnant once, for less than 5 months. I am going to encounter a lot of women with a lot of experiences and a lot of stories completely different than my own. I am hoping to be humbled, and awed, and to learn and listen and learn and listen some more. And I’m also hoping to fully embrace being around mama energy. Because I feel that is what I so desperately need. It is so hard to feel like a mother with our boys gone from this earth. And I honestly feel that part of my healing process is going to happen during this training. Maybe that part that I have been waiting for, for a long, long time.

So here I go, feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Because life is short, so why not?

Grief and the Holidays

There’s no way around it, it’s just really, really hard. This time of year is so painful and difficult for so many. And you will get through it. You may not get through it well, you may feel awful or just melancholy. You may not feel like it was successful, but you will get through, and you are not alone.

Last year the holidays were incredibly difficult for me and for us. After over 10 years of wanting to have children, one of the most exciting events I was looking forward to, when I found out I was pregnant, was Christmas. Christmas feels incredibly isolating when you are the only couple in your family without children, and year after year, the kids get older, and yours still haven’t come yet. And everything that is depicted in our society and on social media is all about kids and families during the holidays. This is hurtful for so many, not just those who do not have children, but those who have lost, who are not on speaking terms with their adult children, adult children who have lost their parent or parents, and for so so many others. The outward message we get is that the holidays are a joyful time. For many, nothing could be further from the truth. They are often painful and full of sadness.

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have a few tips that might help. Or they might not. Everyone’s experience with grief and sadness around the holidays is different. So take what feels good to you and feel free to leave the rest.

By the way, this is for ANYONE who feels the holidays are a hard time of year. You don’t have to be experiencing grief to feel sad or lonely during the holidays. You don’t have to be mourning to feel like you just can’t leave the house or get to that party. This is for anyone who is hurting. Your feelings are real and they are valid and they deserve to be felt.

Ramp up your self care

Whatever you love, do more of it. And really, really try to enjoy it. And it doesn’t have to be taking a bath. Maybe it’s playing video games or binge watching your favorite show, or eating at your favorite restaurant a too few many times. Maybe you want to read more, or journal, or spend more time on your yoga mat. Do more of it, give yourself this permission and know that no one can take that permission away from you.

Say no as often as you need to

It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to not go to the party, the dinner, the gift exchange. You deserve to feel ok, and if saying no will help you with that, say no as often as you need to.

Stay close to good friends who are always there for you

The friends who just let you cry, who bring you a meal when you can’t leave the house, who go with you to the movies even if they’ll stay up too late or have to pay for a babysitter, the friend who just lets you talk and who is there to listen. Whoever this person is in your life, ask them to be your buoy during the holidays if you need it.

Have a plan for social events

You are allowed to leave whenever you need to. You are allowed to sit by whoever you need to sit with. Talk to those who you trust before hand, and create a plan so that you feel safe, taken care of, and in your power. You don’t need to stay anywhere that feels uncomfortable or triggering. And you don’t need to apologize for yourself if you leave earlier than expected.

Cultivate self awareness

This is a time to be vigilant and selfless about your well being. Take moments often to check in with your heart. Close your eyes if you can or want to and breathe as you find stillness. See how you are really doing. Be honest. And then be kind enough to adjust what you are doing, if needed, to serve how you are feeling.

I hope something I have said here can give you a little bit of light and a little bit of hope if you are downtrodden about the holidays. You will get through it, even if it’s messy, even if it’s uncomfortable, even if you dread it, you will get through it.

Some Days it's Hard to be Vegan

And no, that’s not because I want to eat an animal or wear it’s skin or drink it’s bodily fluids. Some days, it’s hard to be vegan because it feels like everything around you is one big hypocrisy, and it can even make you question your sanity.

This is a hard conversation to have. A lot of vegans feel they are “woke” and are aware of something so terribly deplorable, and that they have the upper hand and are better citizens for being aware and for doing something about it. I’ll admit, I’ve fallen in to that trap before. It’s easy to look around at advertisements, into restaurant windows, just walk the outer aisles of the grocery store and want to scream at everyone “YOU ARE EATING DEAD ANIMALS AND IT’S DESPICABLE THAT YOU DON’T CARE!!!!!” I’ve had my days like that for sure. And then I come back to reality and the awareness that is is not ANYONE’S fault. We have been conditioned for probably tens of thousands of years that eating animals, using their bodies for coats and shoes and bags and sweaters and using their fluids for cosmetics and anything else, is NORMAL, NATURAL, and NECESSARY.

It’s called Carnism, the invisible belief system that permeates our world, or most of the western world for sure. The belief that animals are here for us to use, to exploit, to kill, and that it doesn’t matter because we have dominion over them, we are the superiors, and they are subservient to us. It’s so ingrained into our lives that no one even stops to think about it. No one questions whether the ground beef they are buying is from a cow who could have had cancer, how many baby calves the mother cow birthed to give her milk away for, and where are those calves now (probably on a grocery shelf), no one questions why we make animals suffer for our enjoyment (rodeos, Seaworld, even some zoos), no one bothers to think about the dead animal that could have been skinned while it was still alive for their fur, their leather handbag, or their down jacket.

This is why it’s hard some days to be vegan. We live in a world that wants to save some animals (whales, dolphins, elephants, monk seals, sea turtles) and then raise other animals into captivity to kill them, dismember them, skin them, and package them up to sell at a store because we’re told we need protein. Once you learn of the hypocrisy that our world is made up of, and the double standard that permeates the thinking of so many, it can become very difficult to just even face the day at times.

Here are some examples of when it’s especially hard to be vegan. Because once you are aware, you can’t unsee what’s all around you, and it is mind boggling why we continue to destroy these animals, and in the process our health and our environment.

  • Celebrating a holiday with family and loved ones, while everyone sits around a table talking about how excited they are to eat the dead body of the dismembered animal that is in front of you

  • Walking the aisles of the grocery store and seeing ALL the animal parts and pieces, and especially all the dairy. All I think about are all those baby cows who are taken away from their mother, never to have their milk, so that humans can be the only species to take in the milk of another species.

  • Seeing the cafe menu at a zoo, animal wildlife sanctuary, aquarium, petting zoo, or any other place where animals are on “display”, and the menu is full of animal products. We come to look at some animals that we feel are worth our praise and admiration, while we eat others.

  • Knowing that banquet meals that are held to raise money for organizations like the ASPCA serve animal flesh and fluids. Again, because some animals are worth saving and others are not. It’s mind boggling.

  • World Animal Day, a day that tries to bring awareness to global welfare standards for animals, while farm animals are completely left out of this initiative.

  • Animals that are farmed and are in the animal agriculture industry are considered property. If the animal is sick and someone wants to rescue the animal, it is illegal because the animal is property. So it just gets killed. It’s life was created to be exploited and then it was killed.

  • We love dogs but wear cows and eat pigs

  • Cosmetics and other industries are allowed to test on animals, but if a person individually did what is done to these animals, they would be arrested for animal cruelty

  • Animal cruelty laws apply to domestic animals like dogs and cats but not farm animals because they are considered property and not individuals.

This list can go on and on. And this is not to say that there are MANY other things in this world that are full of hypocrisy and can make someone go crazy when they are faced with it everyday. Take the educational system, or the issues we have with food justice, distribution of wealth, etc. These issues permeate our world. We live in a world of duality, hypocrisy and double standards.

The animals are close to my heart, so this is where I concentrate my efforts. I cannot stand what is happening in our world. How can we ever hope to find peace if we continue to kill these sentient beings who deserve to live? They actually shouldn’t even be bred to exist in the first place. If we did not eat animals, they wouldn’t be bred into existence, to live their miserable lives just to be killed and eaten.

Ugh, it’s tough. I cry a lot. Some days are better than others. A lot of days I actually have hope, that the world is changing. We are more plant based than ever. There are more alternatives to animal skins and animal furs than ever. Things are getting better. So I will continue to speak up for the animals.

And I hope you know I don’t mean any of this with judgement. Our world is the way it is because we have ALL allowed it to be this way. I used to eat animals and wear them too. I still have some leather shoes I will continue to wear until they are worn out. It is no one’s fault, we have all contributed to this together. So I hold no one to blame and I judge no one for their choices and their beliefs. We are all victims of a system that is made of very outdated, and very unethical ideals. My hope is that we can all become more mindful. Not everyone is going to be vegan. But we can be aware, and make sure that our choices reflect our morals and the direction we want to see our society go in.

Our health depends on it.

Our planet depends on it.

Our future generations depend on it.

So yeah, some days it’s really hard to be vegan, or to just be human at all. Stay strong folks and keep fighting the good fight.

30 Days of Blogging

This blog entry marks 30 consecutive blog posts in (about) 30 days. Some days I have doubled or tripled up! My goal is to create 90 blog posts in 90 days, finishing on December 31, 2018. Why 90 days? That’s the time it takes to really create a habit on consistency, of taking my work seriously, of getting in to something so deep that it becomes a part of my life that I enjoy and can’t live without!

So, from the heart, how am I feeling about 30 days of blogs? I feel lots of feelings! Maybe all the feels! It feels like an awesome accomplishment, and something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I LOVE to write, absolutely love it, and I often don’t give myself enough time or attention to spend moments doing what I truly love. I’m proud of myself, proud that I have accomplished this. I’m 1/3 of the way to my goal! And that’s a pretty good feeling overall, to know that I have stuck to what I said I was going to do, and so far I have done it and I don’t want to stop.

Ok, how else am I feeling? It’s totally possible to feel completely differing, even opposite feelings at once. Because I feel annoyed with this challenge! I spend so much time on it every day. And I haven’t quite changed my life around to fit this in to my life yet. That whole “it takes 21 days to start a habit”? Yeah, don’t believe it anymore, AT ALL! I still struggle every day to get my blog post in. Some days it is fun and I’m in the flow and enjoying it. Other days it feels like pulling teeth. I’m at a loss for what to write, it’s taking forever to get the post done, and if I add anything besides text, it-takes-a-really-long-time. I don’t have a specific time a day that I sit down to blog because my days are all different. As a yoga teacher and fitness instructor, no two days are alike! I try to blog most days after lunch, and that has worked out ok for the most part, but it’s not always the most convenient. Sometimes I need to do laundry, or go to the grocery store, or I have an acupuncture appointment, or an appointment with my grief counselor, so consistency is not always there for me to count on.

What else I’m struggling with, is finding time to actually EXPLORE what I want to blog about, because I’m spending so much time on the actual damn blog, and that’s what I’m doing instead of figuring out what to blog about. I have to be honest, some days have been quite a stretch. And this aspect of the blogging challenge has really frustrated me, it has left me feeling hard on myself, feeling like a loser, and feeling like I can’t really accomplish what I set out to do because I’m just not good enough.

When I took a closer look at this, I realized it’s really my time leaks. It’s what I’m choosing to do with my time that is creating these feelings in me, not the actual blogging itself. When I first started the blog challenge, I wrote down what I did in 30 min increments for a week, and then I loved it so much that I did it for another week. I stayed off of social media and mindless activities because I did not want to write it down! I didn’t want to show myself what I was wasting my time doing! Well, that lasted for a few weeks and then went down the drain. I became too confident, telling myself that I can keep track of my time and I don’t need to write it down. And guess what happened, my time management slipped away, quite easily. I tried blaming it on being alone all day long (unless I’m teaching a class, I’m flying solo), not having deadlines and anyone to hold me accountable to what I am doing. But I don’t really believe myself when I mentally word vomit up those excuses. I realize they are limited beliefs expressing themselves to keep me safe and to keep me from being even harder on myself.

So where does this leave me now? Back to keeping track of the time!! Oh it’s a pain, it really is. Growth is such a pain! But I refuse to live any other way. And I have hope that one day this blogging challenge will get really fun, and that I’ll start to explore some incredible things that are really worth sharing. Because I kind of feel like I gave it all, and after only 30 days, I’m not sure what I have left! If I keep reminding myself that I’m keeping track of my time to free up time, and to really own my day and feel like I’m winning at life, that’s pretty motivating. Not every day is going to be great, even with being more mindful about how I’m spending my time. And that’s ok, because it’s all for learning.

This experience is so interesting because it’s really not about the blogging at all. It’s about creating a life that I truly align with, the life that I honestly want to live. And what shows up as obstacles during this blogging challenge, are what I need to move through and overcome, in order to have that life that flows, that feels good, that is fulfilling, meaningful and joyful. What I need to learn will keep showing up. I’ll try to keep an open mind, go a little easier on myself, and meditate on what the big learning really is. Because it’s not about sharing a blog everyday, even though that’s what it looks like on the outside.

My takeaways so far …

  • Consistency is hard and doesn’t always feel amazing, even when you are doing what you say you’re going to do. Do it anyway for the teachings and learnings.

  • Keeping track of my time is one of the best uses of my time everyday

  • Excuses are just limitations we put on ourselves

  • Desire is not enough to get you there, it takes action, daily action

  • I have no idea what I’m going to blog about next, and that’s ok

Onward, to the next 60 days!!

I Am Vegan For ...

In honor of World Vegan Day, I thought I’d share the reasons why I am vegan!!

Being vegan goes far beyond my food choices. It means I try as best as possible to eliminate animal suffering. This can be a very loaded, messy topic because when food justice comes to mind, there is so much injustice with unfair wages, child labor and more abuse happening with farm workers, food deserts where access to healthy food isn’t possible, and so on. It is absolutely possible to stand up for these issues AND take animal flesh and fluids off your plate and out of your mugs and cups. We still have a long way to go. I believe together we can make a difference, and we don’t have that long to do it for the survival of our planet and the human race. Not to bring you down, because I do optimistically believe that it starts on our plates, and this is all something we can do!

So, why am I vegan?

I am vegan for the animals

Back in 2008 or 2009 I read a book called Skinny Bitch. I didn’t realize it was all about how terrible factory farming is and how everyone should be vegan. I learned that whole chickens, after being plucked and beheaded, are dipped in arsenic to stay “fresh”. I learned that dairy cows are milked no matter the state of their udders, which means if they are raw, sore, and have open sores, they are still milked. And I learned that chocolate milk is made from the worst looking milk that is discolored from blood and other secretions that come from sick udders who are being over milked. I learned that pigs who are raised to breed “pork” pigs can’t even move in their crates, and the baby pigs are castrated at one month old without any anesthesia. They are shackled down and sent on their way.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had NEVER thought about where my food came from or realized that a holocaust was occurring at every animal farm around the world. I hopped onto websites and watched videos. One that was popular at the time is called “Meet Your Meat”. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was done. I went vegetarian soon after that. I didn’t know how to completely omit meat, because it felt kind of extreme. And I didn’t want to eat a lot of soy. Did I have other alternatives?

It took a long time for me to completely understand what veganism truly is. At it’s core, veganism is anti-speciesism. It is against the idea that animals are here for our use. It is against the idea that using animals for our gain is normal, natural, and necessary.

I went back and forth for a long time. What kept me going was constantly reminding myself what was happening to the animals. Their suffering is immense, and lasts their entire lives. And then they are killed for 15 minutes of pleasure on someone’s taste buds. I did not want to be a part of that at all. I did not want my dollars to vote for animals being killed, when I knew I could thrive on a plant based diet. I didn’t want to buy products that are tested on animals or that use animals in them (a lot of cosmetics have animals in them). I did not want to wear animals anymore. This one took a while for me, and I don’t know why it took so long to sink in. And that’s ok. Because I feel good knowing that moving forward, I will not be consciously contributing the the use of animals for my food, cosmetics, cleaners, clothing, shoes, handbags, or anything else.

More than 150 billion animals are killed every year, and this does not include sea animals and sea creatures. When you add their numbers in, it is well over 200 billion. What this counter HERE for a live physical representation of what this looks like (it’s non-graphic).

And to learn more about the dreadful lives that animals face when they are bred in to being raised just for slaughter, read this HERE, which shares 10 alarming facts you may have not known.

I am vegan for my health

We have no nutritional need for animal flesh or fluids. We can not only survive, but thrive, on a whole foods, plant based diet. Our digestive systems, from our teeth (yes they are part of digestion) to the type of acid in our stomachs, to the size of our colons, are made to digest, break down, assimilate, and eliminate plants. Read HERE to learn more about how humans are herbivores. Something I find really fascinating is how we might actually, mostly, be frugivores! This article explains it here. Not very popular for marketing, sales of processed food items, dairy, beef, pork and chicken, etc. So you won’t hear this one too often!

I could spend all day researching to spout at facts at you to try to convince you as to why a plant based diet is the way to go. But that is not why I am vegan for my health. I am vegan for my health because I have experienced that eating whole foods, plant based, is the best way to eat for a life of wellness, health and vitality. The rumor that vegans are always tired all the time and that they get sick might be true for those who eat junk food. The truth is, isn’t everyone sick and tired when they eat like crap? Eating WFPB, even if it’s not 100% of your diet, will leave you feeling better than someone who eats vegan pizza full of gluten, fat ridden vegan cheese and potato chips as their main staple.

I can honestly tell you that I rarely get sick, and if I do, I kick back my natural remedies and it’s gone within a few days. I used to LIVE on antibiotics, asthma medication, allergy meds, and OTC sinus medication. I had strep throat, bronchitis, asthma, and allergies day in and day out almost my entire childhood and early adult life. When I changed my diet, I stopped feeding the viruses in my body, so they stopped flaring up. For more info on what feeds latent viruses and bacteria in our body, check out this resource from Medical Medium HERE.

I am also completely disgusted by eating animals. Once you take them away, or have a realization of how they become “food”, at least for me, the desire completely diminished. Meat is dead, rotting flesh. Dairy is bovine mammary gland secretions and is mostly pus. If it’s cheese, the fat has just been rendered and a lot of salt has been added. Eggs are the product of a hen’s reproductive system, and fish are just not desirable to me. Also, pigs are completely adorable and after having met pigs who have been saved, there is no way I could ever consider a pig’s flesh as my food. Animals are friends, not food!

For more info on the health benefits of eating WFPB, my two favorite resources are:
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

I am vegan for the planet

Our planet is dying, and human beings have 100% caused the destruction. I truly believe that we will not destroy our beautiful Mother Earth, but that we will destroy ourselves. Factory farming, and the use and exploitation of animals in general, has done a HUGE number on the environment. And we can’t go back. We can only change and do better, and hope it isn’t too late.

I always knew that the disgusting amount of waste that animal farms produce, not only feces and urine from the animals, but their blood from being slaughtered and the leftover body pieces that don’t get used, are huge contributors to ground water pollution, and ocean water pollution as well. The waste particulates get into the air and can cause major respiratory damage, not only to the animals, but to farm and slaughterhouse workers, and to residents who live nearby.

I also knew that cattle farming, raising cattle for meat, for leather, is the number one killer of the rainforest. More deforestation has occurred to make room for cattle than for any other reason. So not only do we have more cows creating more waste, we have less rainforest to protect our fragile oxygen/carbon dioxide balance on our planet.

It wasn’t until I watched Cowspiracy, that I had a grip on how terrible the destruction really is. You can find the documentary on Netflix, and read all the facts shared in the film, plus any new facts, HERE.

It’s not only the waste that the animals and their dismembered bodies create, but think about all the fossil fuel used to transport the animals, transport their dead flesh to the grocery stories, and ALL of the plastic waste that is involved in this process as well. Plastic trays for meat, plastic jugs for milk, plastic containers for dairy items like butter and yogurt, and so much more.

The use of animals as a food source is destroying our planet. I was astounded when I learned this fact, that animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gasses, and that is more than any other forms of land, sea and air transportation combined. Check the Cowspiracy link above for more info.

And did you know that 47% of California’s water, a state that is constantly in drought, goes to animal agriculture? I was so mad when I learned this!!!! The city passes out fliers for us to only water our yards at night and shorten our showers, but 47% of the state’s water is going to animal agriculture???? This article HERE shares more info about this, and is a very compelling read.

Bottom line is that every day, I get to be an activist and follows my values by what I choose to eat. And this has an effect on my health, on the environment, and it saves animals. Being vegan is the least I can do. It’s such an easy choice, and there is nothing but positive benefits to gain. I can’t imagine living any other way.

Normalizing Pregnancy Loss

I’m on a mission. There are millions of women out there who are suffering in silence. Suffering from fertility struggles, unexplained issues with their reproductive health, pregnancy loss in all the ways a loss can happen during pregnancy. There’s a lot of work to do in this realm. Things need to change. We can normalize this, so that no one feels left out, isolated, ashamed or cast aside.

I don’t know what needs to change first, but our lexicon definitely needs to shift. Did you know that there are only 2 words to describe pregnancy loss in the medical community, miscarriage and stillborn, and that’s it? A miscarriage is defined as a pregnancy lost up to 20 weeks and 0 days. A stillborn is a loss starting at 20 weeks and 1 day of the gestational period. Technically speaking, I had a miscarriage. I delivered 2 babies preterm, too small to survive outside the womb, and all I get to say, medically, is that I had a miscarriage. Recently I just heard of a woman who delivered a baby at 39 weeks and the baby died during birth. This is considered a stillborn. This is ALL WE HAVE and is desperately needs to change.

I like saying pregnancy loss better, but I don’t even like the word loss. A pregnancy that did not go to full term? A pregnancy that did not result in babies coming home with us? I work with a spiritual intuitive, and she channels spirit babies, those who have been born and left their bodies, and those who have yet to come to earth. What she said the spirit babies say to her the most is that they are not lost. They are just not on earth. Now, as a mother of angels, this is hard, so hard. I struggle every day to discover how I can mother our babies when they are not here in my arms. And I think they are right, these spirit babies. The word loss is a somewhat careless description of what happened. It’s a word that is easy to use but empty from meaning. The only way it’s going to change, is if we change it.

Recently I’ve had a lot of conversations about pregnancy struggles and how families become a family. I talked to one friend who said she was in a prenatal class, and a woman in the class was 16 weeks pregnant and when she introduced herself, she said “I just hope I can keep coming and that this pregnancy sticks”. I spoke with another woman who agreed that normalizing all of our experiences needs to happen, because even a mother with 4 children could have potentially had many pregnancies that did not make it full term. I know someone who has had more than 10 pregnancies that have not resulted in a full term baby. This is often an everyday occurrence for women all around the world, most likely in your own neighborhood.

There are other complications with this as well. Some women lose a pregnancy and do not have adequate health coverage and end up with an astronomical bill, to pay for the delivery of a baby that is no longer with them. I can’t imagine anything hurting more than having that happen. Insult to injury to the extreme.

Also, pregnancy loss does not happen to the mother, it happens to the couple (if she has a partner). Often the partner who was not pregnant handles the situation in their own unique way. It can be isolating and just as painful, just in a different way, for their partner. I haven’t come across any non-hetero couples who have experienced pregnancy loss, but I’m sure it happens often. Any couple needs support, love and care when they have experienced such sadness and devastation.

We are not meant to be alone in this experience. There is an entire community out there of parents who do not have their babies earthside, and who are going through tremendous pain, sadness and who are feeling alone. My hope is that more and more people, if they choose this is right for them, open up about their experience. I am, obviously, an open book about our sons Nicholas and Lucas. I am not ashamed of our experience. I know we are not alone and that there are so many couples who need to hear the story of our sons. And we need to hear their stories as well.

Our babies deserve to have their lives be known, even as short as they are. A woman who has experienced a pregnancy ending early has done nothing wrong. No one is to blame. It is my deepest hope that pregnancy loss can not only become normalized, but gain a new lexicon to be spoken of in a light that is not degrading, shameful, guilt inducing or painful in any way.

Soldier on warrior parents, I stand by you in solidarity. We need community, we need each other. Together we can rise above and normalize what is every day life for us and our families.

What I Eat In A Day

I get asked this every now and then. Mostly it’s from folks who want to transition to a whole foods, plant based way of eating and it just feels so daunting and overwhelming. It took me a few years to really hone in on how I eat, and even then, it is ever changing and ever evolving. So, go easy on yourself, take it meal by meal, day by day and week by week. Find what you love and then just experiment and add from there! You might get some ideas here, and I hope they help you out when you might be stuck in a rut. That happens to me a lot, so I often head to Instagram and search hashtags or search my favorite IGers who share their amazing recipes. Pinterest in another great one too. You are not alone, there are countless resources out there to support you on your way!

This is what a typical day looks like for me, and some days are anything but typical. I try to stick to this “formula” as best as I can, and if I don’t, tomorrow is another day!


You can find my morning routine explained HERE in a previous blog post, so I won’t go over it in full details.

Usually, I have mono fruit (as in one type of fruit) or a combination of 2-3 fruits for breakfast. This is after my celery juice. I never used to eat fruit for breakfast, and now it’s all my body wants, and it has been that way for almost 2 years! Ever since I discovered Medical Medium, I have embraced fruit wholeheartedly. You can read what he has to say about fruit HERE. Fruit is your friend!

After about 2 hours, I’ll have my Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie, and I’ve posted about that too, so you can find that HERE.

Sometimes, I’ll have a quick snack like a banana, or an adrenal snack like the snack combinations you can find HERE (my favorite is apple, date, celery) but usually I’m not eating again until lunch. It all depends on the day, but I always have fruit with me just in case!


My lunch is really varied! It depends on 1-how much time I have to make lunch, 2-if I have dinner leftovers hanging around and 3-what the rest of my day looks like. Sometimes I work out after I teach mid morning, so I don’t eat lunch until after I’ve done a workout. This means I may not eat until 2pm. Other days, I don’t eat until around 4pm because I teach a later class and won’t be getting home eating dinner until around 8:30pm. Gasp, but that’s so late!! Well, that why I eat fruit for breakfast and don’t usually eat an actual meal until somewhere between 12:30-2:00pm each day.

If I have time, I like a huge loaded salad. It takes me like an hour to eat it, and I love that! It also takes a while to prep and to clean up, so this is more of a luxury :) I’ll add filling foods like potatoes, sometimes a whole avocado, or lots of veggies, and maybe some quinoa. I like a variety of steamed and raw veggies in my salad. I top my salad with sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds, and usually tons of dulse! It’s a meal for sure.

I’ll often make veggie wraps too, either using coconut wraps or coconut flour tortillas, or raw nori. If I use nori, it’s often sushi themed and so yummy.

If I eat lunch earlier, I’ll have another smoothie, an adrenal snack, or let’s face it, sometimes a heaping spoonful of almond butter with some vegan chocolate chips. I’m normal and I love treats too!


Because of my varied schedule teaching yoga at different times of the day, dinner is kind of all over the place. I’ve done a pretty good job at making more of a routine about it, but it’s still kind of chaotic. And I’m ok with that, for the most part. It means I have to be really honest with my time in the day, and prep dinner BEFORE I go to teach. This helps me keep my day in a little bit more order, and keeps me from doing mindless activities all the time. Yeah I get stuck on my phone every so often, but not at the expense of not being able to have dinner!

So, what do I make for dinner?

On busy nights, I make a soup or some kind of stew/chili in the Instant Pot. I got mine 2 years ago on black Friday from Amazon and it has been a LIFESAVER! I would have paid double and it still would have been completely worth it. If you are limited on time for food prep, do yourself a favor and get one of these! My soups are all veggie with lots of roots, hearty veggies like peas and green beans, or cauliflower, and sometimes I use a veggie broth or sometimes not at all. My secret ingredient is celery root, they make a soup so delicious in my opinion! I also love to add sunchokes when I can find them. I’ll make curry stews, or a chili. Super easy, I can time it to be done cooking the minute I get home, and we can just eat and the mess is already cleaned up. And there are usually leftovers for at least another day.

On other nights, I’ll make potatoes with steamed veggies, have another type of salad (especially if lunch was leftover), we’ll make tacos, stir frys, pesto veggies with brown rice pasta, and sometimes we’ll grill veggies and have them with quinoa or rice. This is just a random sampling, as I make a lot of food, and I should probably start keeping track better! One of my favorite go to meals is to make a cashew nacho cheeze sauce, bake potatoes, steam broccoli and cauliflower, and top all the food with the cheeze sauce. It’s comforting, filling, and pretty healthy! And the cheeze sauce lasts for a few days.

Remember, you are not alone. Google for recipe ideas. Check Instagram, and follow mine too!!

I don’t make dessert very often, if at all. I find it time consuming, and I can just grab a few dates, or make a quick avocado chocolate mousse and be totally satisfied. If I do make dessert, I gorge myself on it. I can polish down half of a baking pan (8x8) of black bean brownies in one night. So I don’t need to do that to myself, I don’t feel good when I do it, and I am totally fine if I don’t make anything like that!

I didn’t go over snacks too much, and that’s because I don’t snack very often. I’ll have fruit, veggies and hummus or veggies dipped in guac, a smoothie, or something really simple. One of my favorite quick snacks is sweet potato “toast” of sweet potato sliced thin and broiled on both sides, then you can top it with almond butter and banana, or avocado, sprouts and hemp seeds, and a little dulse. It’s super good, and I’ll broil a bunch of sweet potatoes at once to have enough for a few days. When I eat like this, I don’t even need bread!

I hope you have found this helpful, have a few new ideas, and mostly, I hope I have helped you to feel empowered, to know that your food choices and your health is in your hands! Let your food be your medicine!

Why I Eat Whole Foods & Plant Based

Yes I could technically say I am vegan. But vegan is not a diet, vegan is something more than food choices, which I’ll get into in a little bit. Someone could be vegan and not eat whole foods. Technically a vegan is a plant based eater, an herbivore, and much more than that as well. However, I don’t really feel good about calling processed foods plant based, even if they are made from plants, it’s hard to recognize the plant with all the fillers, starches, gum, glutens, even if there are no animal ingredients!

Whole Foods & Plant Based

I try to eat foods as closest to their original form as possible. This is not something I do 100% of the time, and I try as often as I can. Yes I buy food in cans and jars. Yes I could buy more in bulk and do my own prep (like make beans in bulk and freeze them). I do occasionally buy sauces but mostly try to make my own. I don’t use salad dressing, I make it or just mash up an avocado with a little lemon juice (easiest dressing ever!). I have some frozen food items, especially frozen fruit. And sometimes during a busy week, you can find a Daiya vegan and gluten free pizza in my freezer. Plant based? Sure. Whole foods? Absolutely not!! It’s super processed.

I also try to stay away from oil as much as possible. Oils are too concentrated for our body to handle, and the liver freaks out and doesn’t like oil so much. I’m gluten free too. I’ve posted before that coming off of gluten, dairy and eggs took away all symptoms and asthma and allergies, for good. I am 7+ years medication free, and I’d like to stay that way! Gluten is inflammatory and causes mucous in the body. Excess mucous blocks up the lymphatic system, and can cause congestion. I am not 100% grain free but I do limit grains because I just feel better when I don’t eat them very much.

Eating a whole foods diet to me, means eating foods that are closest to their original form, and foods that are beneficial and healing for my body. I don’t count macronutrients, I focus on micronutrients. And I don’t even bother with protein. If you are eating enough calories, you are getting enough protein. No one is protein deficient, but we absolutely are nutrient deficient. So eating as whole as possible, and healing foods that have benefits for my body, is how I like to eat. I feel better when I eat this way. I’m honestly not really tempted by junk food because I feel hungover, bloated, lethargic and gross when I eat it. If you are thinking about incorporating more whole foods into your diet, know this: The body craves what you eat. If you have been eating heavy foods, full of processed sugar, processed oils, salt, and artificial ingredients, your taste buds are not going to like whole foods. Give it time. It can take a while, and that’s ok. Over time, a mandarin orange will taste like the sweetest candy and be the best dessert. Or an artichoke is bursting with flavor that you never noticed before!

One thing you can do to help your taste buds adjust to the change is to scrape your tongue! Yes, invest in a tongue scraper. Get a metal one, they are under $10. Scrape your tongue 2x a day. It will help to remove the film and residue from processed foods off your tongue, and real, whole fresh foods will start to taste GOOD!

I truly believe you are what you eat! I have too many benefits from eating whole foods and plant based to eat any other way!

On Being Vegan

I also consider myself vegan, but I don’t call my diet vegan. My lifestyle is vegan. I have been plant based and have attempted to be as cruelty free as possible for a long time. To me, being vegan means living a life free of exploiting animals. Free of using animals for my gain. I can tell you right now, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be a pure vegan. So if you are an absolutist, go easy on yourself, and do the best you can, and know that the animals are better off with each and every choice you make. Being vegan is not about all or nothing. It’s about always striving to do better, and for standing up for the values I believe in. I do not believe animals are here for us. They are not for our use, they are not for our exploitation, they are not for our gain, we do not have the right to have dominion over them. I try to exercise these values with every choice I make. It’s a process and a journey, there is no perfection in it.

To be completely honest, I have items with wool, down, and leather. I have some skincare items that are vegetarian because they might have honey or lanolin in them. And even last year, when I thought I had been living vegan for years, I bought snow boots made out of leather. The sale enticed me, and I thought to myself “They are already here, the cow has already been killed, and I don’t want it’s death to have been in vain”. I’m not happy with the choice. I have vowed that I will not purchase items with animal skins or animal fluids in their ingredients or as their construction anymore. It’s been a year. I thought that for 7 years I was not contributing to cruelty. It took me learning that the animals are not here for us to come to this realization. Before, I just didn’t want to hurt animals. But now I hold to my value that they are not commodities for us to eat, wear or exploit in any way.

Only you can decide if eating whole foods & plant based is right for you (I can’t imagine it being wrong for anyone, but you get to experiment to see!). Only you get to decide if living a vegan lifestyle, minimizing as much animal suffering and animal exploitation as you can, is right for you.

If you have any questions about eating plant based and how to get started, the first thing I can recommend is to keep eating what you love, and just eat more veggies and more fruit! Eventually your body will love the changes and you’ll crave more nutrients and less of the processed foods you used to eat.

I hope you have fun getting started, and if you already eat WFPB, I’d love to hear how it has helped out your health and wellness!

Cheers to healthy eating and a life of wellness!

Essential Oils-Part 3

I use essential oils every day, and I’d like to share with you the typical ways that I use them. Oils are easy to incorporate, just grab one and use it! I’ve started to just grab an oil when I have an issue that I want to support. For example, when writing this blog post right now, I can use some peppermint or citrus oil for mental clarity and uplift. Or I have several blends like Focus, Crystal Clear, and Envision, that will help me stay focused, on task and in the present moment. You can use an oil for almost everything (unless it’s something you need a doctor for, or a repair man, or a chore. An oil will not fix the dents in your car, remove the toy that has been shoved in to the toilet, or clean the cat litter box!)

Here I present to you, my favorite ways to use essential oils.

Topical Application

Oils are so easy to use topically!! My one piece of advice, is to test the oil on your skin. I use a lot of oils neat (without a carrier oil). This is up to you, if you will use an oil this way or blended with a carrier oil. The oils I do use with a carrier oil are peppermint, tea trea, and anytime I’m making a blend where the carrier oil is part of the blend and it enhances the synergy of the oils. For example, I’d make a blend with black pepper, lemongrass and cypress, and blend it with St. John’s Wort carrier oil (I’ve only found it HERE from Primavera) to help with pain and inflammation.

A good place to put oils in on the bottoms of your feet. Essential oils rush into the system immediately, and the dna of the plants syncs with our systems very well. Even if you don’t put the oil where you think it needs to be, the oil intuitively can be guided, by your body, to where it needs to go. You may not believe me and that’s fine! Putting oils on the bottoms of your feet is a safe place where less irritation will occur, and if you are not sensitive to the oil, you generally won’t need a carrier oil when applying this way. Always test, don’t take my advice without doing your own experimenting to see if this works for you.


My second favorite way, and sometimes favorite way, to use essential oils! Diffusing can make your entire space smell amazing and create an atmosphere that feels clean, fresh, healthy and full of life! I don’t really have a favorite oil to diffuse, because I’m basically diffusing them non stop, all the time! I like to diffuse single oils, blends that I create, and an oil that is already blended. Actually, I do have to say that I diffuse eucalyptus the most. It smells so fresh, is anti-bacterial and anti-viral, and helps to oxygenate the air. We live by a busy street with a lot of air pollution from cars always going by, so this oil keeps the air in my home clean.

There are a few types of diffusers. I used to use a nebulizing diffuser, which requires no water, no heat and pressurizes the oil to release it. This worked well and I used it for a few years, and then it became really sticky, gunked up and was impossible to clean. Eventually it broke, that was after about 5 years of use, so I feel like I got my use out of it! I moved on to ultrasonic diffusers, which take cold water, about 8-14 drops of essential oil, and create a mist to dispense the oil into the air. The ultrasonic waves break up the molecules of the oil to create even distribution. There are other types of diffusers but I have not used them so I can’t really comment on them! I would say ultrasonic are the most popular because they are more affordable, and nebulizers are also popular, but more expensive, and not as widely known about.

As far as safety diffusing oils, I have not come across any safety issues using any of the oils that I love to diffuse. Some people say pets are sensitive to certain oils, especially eucalyptus, but I have never had a problem and my cats are 13 and 11 years old and have been around oils for 8 years! There are some oils that might be very harsh for children, someone who is very sensitive, or pregnancy, so always do your research. It’s best to test an oil on yourself first before deciding to diffuse it.

Currently I am using two ultrasonic diffusers from Young Living. I have one that came in my premium starter kit when I started my wholesale account with Young Living (which is available to anyone by the way!) and I received the Desert Mist diffuser from my friend who ran a contest, and I won! The Desert Mist is my favorite of the two for sure. It has 3 settings, and I can run it all day using 10 drops of oils and I smell the oil the entire time. Some diffusers are less effective at dispersing the oil, and you will smell a lot for the first hour, and then after that it seems like it’s just pumping out a mist of water.

You can find Young Living diffusers HERE

Goddess of Spring also has a variety of diffusers on their website (they are the company in Montana where I get my oils from Europe from) and you can find those HERE. Use this code “AJWELLNESS” at checkout for a 10% discount, ANYTIME you order!

Taking Oils Internally

I have done this and have had a lot of success with it. It can be quite a controversial topic, so I leave this one up to you, to research and decide if it’s right for you. I do not encapsulate oils, I’ll put a drop or two in water and drink it, or I put a drop on my hand and lick it off. I do this with yarrow for blood building, with oils like eucalyptus and ravensara during times when I want to up my immunity, and with oils like fennel, sage or a digestive blend for digestion.

I hope if you haven’t started with oils yet, you get started soon! They are so fun and such an awesome way to support your health and wellness. I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you when you start to use them. If anything, just start smelling them, because once you smell pure essential oils, you’ll want to use them everywhere and all the time!

Essential Oils-Part 2

Hi there, I’m back again to talk more about oils!! Today I’d like to share with you my top favorite essential oils and how I use them. Oils have HUNDREDS of properties that lend themselves to a possible combination of thousands of uses. Remembering what each oil is good for is just too much for my brain. Instead, I try an oil for a situation and if I have a good result, I use that oil again when the situation arises at another time. I like to use single essential oils and blends. And I like different kinds of blends. Something to keep in mind is that some oils DO NOT smell nice! But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be effective. Sometimes the worst smelling oil has been glorious when I’ve used it. So let your body react in the way it needs to, and tell your nose to not worry about it ;)

In no particular order, these are my top favorite SINGLE essential oils

  • Peppermint

  • Lavender

  • Eucalyptus

  • Black Pepper

  • Myrtle Peru

  • Roman Chamomile

  • Helichrysum

  • Yarrow

  • Angelica

  • All of the citrus oils

  • Cedarwood

  • Basil

  • Sandalwood

  • Frankincense

  • Patchouli

So, how do I use these oils and what are they for? Well again, that’s a difficult question with a long answer. I’ll attempt to give a little bit of info on each oil and how I like to use it. Some of them have physical qualities, some are more emotional, mental or spiritual.


This oil is for a LOT of things! I use it for headaches, to freshen my breath, on bug bites (the cooling helps the itching), it smells amazing so it’s nice to diffuse, it’s great for a pick me up for mental clarity, and so many more uses. I always have one in my purse. Always!


The GO TO for just about everything. Of course, it’s not going to magically take dents out of your car or clean your house for you, but this oil rocks on so many levels. I use it for anything skin related, like rashes, burns, cuts, acne, etc. This oil is great for mellowing out or relaxation, helps with anxiety and calming. It has so many other uses, but these are a lot if you’re just getting started!


My number one respiratory oil. When the air is funky, smoggy, smoky, I run to this oil. If my chest feels tight, sore throat, sniffly, I run to this oil. I diffuse this oil all the time. It helps to increase the oxygen levels in the air and smells amazing.

Black Pepper

I love this oil for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, its effects on pain and on the nervous system. I also like it for circulation of blood and the lymphatic system. It helps a lot with menstrual cramps and sore muscles.

Myrtle Peru

This oil smells incredible! I used to not like it, and one day I loved it and couldn’t get enough and that has been happening since. I like this oil a lot for my skin. I’ll add it to a carrier oil and moisturize at night after doing a face scrub or a facial mask. It’s a good oil for immunity, respiratory system and the nervous system.

Roman Chamomile

This oil is my go to oil for anxiety. When I started experiencing a lot of postpartum anxiety, coupled with and magnified by grief with the loss of our twin boys, I used this oil and lot and found a lot of relief from it. This is a great skin oil as well, and is very gentle and mild for babies and children. I’ve even used it when my cat has had a goopy eye and it’s helped!


First aid oil I will not go without! Amazing detoxifier, and especially supports the liver. Helichrysum in anti-inflammatory and awesome for the lymphatic system as well.


Another first aid oil that is essential. This oil has an infinity for the blood and circulatory system. It’s awesome to help a fever, and great for wounds. I have heard miracle stories about yarrow. I myself have used it to support my blood building and it has worked very well.


So many amazing uses and benefits. This oil, mostly, I use to support my heart and my spirituality. It is the oil of the angels and contains a very high frequency. According to Goddess of Spring, Angelica also has the following benefits: Excellent overall detoxifier, Tonic for the nervous system, Eases fatigue, stress and depression, Good for respiratory problems, including asthma, sinus infections and coughs, Aids indigestion, gas and bloating, Strengthens the immune system, Fights anemia, poor circulation and rheumatism, Antiseptic, Analgesic, Supports the adrenals and urinary system, Strengthens the cardiovascular system, Stomach tonic and stimulant

All of the citrus oils

Ahhh, citrus oils smell incredible and are an instant mood lifter! They help to clear and sharpen the mind and improve the mood. I also love cleaning with these oils. They bring so much cheer and brightness. Citrus oils are also great for circulation and detoxification.


Smells like a walk in a fresh forest after a rain, I adore this oil. It’s a mood lifter and encourages focus and clarity, as well as it is mildly sedative, so it can be very relaxing as well. It’s great for inflammation and lymphatic circulation. It’s also a good skin and hair oil! I diffuse cedarwood a lot.


I love this oil for it’s effect on the adrenal glands. It helps to remove access cortisol and helps fatigue. It also helps fight free radicals, cleans the blood, is good for circulation and the nervous system. This is an oil that might be understated, but I consider it a must have!


I can’t even begin to name how many incredible uses this oil has. I’ve also used it for anxiety with great benefits. Goddess of Spring has an entire list of benefits for sandalwood, and they aren’t even close to hitting the surface, and this is a long list too! Increases circulation and lymphatic flow, Anti-inflammatory, Soothes agitation and anxiety, Alleviates headache and insomnia, Antidepressant, Eases respiratory tract infections, Astringent for mucous and congestion, Promotes healthy kidneys, bladder and urinary tract, Soothing to inflamed or irritated skin, Balances sebum production, Diuretic, Skin and tissue regenerator, Antifungal, Insect repellent, Aids morning sickness, Decreases varicose veins, Aphrodisiac


Although this oil has a large list of physical benefits, I mostly use it for it’s emotional and spiritual benefits. Frankincense is a very sacred oil with a high frequency. I use it to help my intution, help to keep my energy stable, and to help cleanse the energetic space around me.


Awesome oil for the skin, for kidney and liver detox, for inflammation, and for circulation. Emotionally and mentally, this oil is very grounding and has a positive effect on the mood. To be honest, I use this oil because I love it’s smell and I love smelling like a hippie :)

I could go on and on, and this may not be my go to list next month, or next year. And I’m sure I left a lot of oils off the list. But in summary, oils are amazing and once you learn more about them and start using them, you realize how much richer life is and you’ll wonder what you ever did without them!

Essential Oils-Part 1

I have been using essential oils for 8 years with tremendous success! I’ve taken holistic classes on essential oils and learning of their healing power and potential for not only physical healing, but for mental, emotional and spiritual healing as well. It’s a joke in the essential oils community that when anything comes up, an oil user will say “There’s an oil for that!”. And it’s kind of true. Kind of ;) I’m not a certified aromatherapist, I’m an enthusiastic oil user who has seen my own first hand benefits from incorporating oils in to my almost daily life. I say almost daily, because sometimes I forget. Sometimes I forget to acknowledge that I have healing tools right in front of me. And other times, I use them a lot. So I just let it go with the flow.

I’d like to share about how to use oils, what my favorite go to oils are, what I use them for, why use essential oils, and how you can benefit from essential oils. I’ll share with you how I discovered essential oils, and how I replaced every prescription and over the counter medication that one could have in their medicine cabinet with essential oils. I want to preface that this is my experience and I am not giving you medical advice. I’m simply sharing what has worked for me.

First off, I’ll get started sharing about the three brands of essential oils that I use and why I like them. In the next few consecutive blog posts, I’ll share more about the hands on experience you can have with essential oils.


I discovered this brand when I was learning footzoning from the Nordblom American Institute of FootZonology in Paradise Valley, Montana. Primavera is a brand that comes from Germany, so there isn’t a lot of information in the United States about this brand, but you can find their non-German website HERE. They are organic, come from small farms, and are extremely high quality. Goddess of Spring is North America’s only retailer of Primavera essential oils. They can be found HERE at Goddess of Spring. Personally I use the Primavera single oils the most (not the blends as much), and I also love their carrier oils. Their carrier oils are unparalleled in quality and performance.

I have had a lot of success with oils such as eucalyptus, yarrow, ravinsara, myrtle, frankincense, black pepper, lavender, peppermint and so many more from Primavera. And if you want an amazing skin oil, the pomegranate seed oil will give you the silkiest, smoothest complexion ever.

If you’d like to try out Primavera oils, use the code “AJWELLNESS” for 10% off any and all of your orders at!

Butterfly Express

Butterfly Express is a small family company out of a tiny town in Idaho. I mostly use Butterfly Express for their blends, and a few of their single oils too. I like to use these oils for cleaning purposes or diffusing, because you can buy them in bulk at a good price.

I don’t know a lot about Butterfly Express, even though I’ve been using them for 8 years! The information they give about essential oils on their website, in their oils book, and on their YouTube channel, is very comprehensive. I have attempted to call them and ask about their oils and if they are organic, where they get them from, etc. I was not given a lot of information, except that they are not certified organic but the plants come from growers who do not use any toxic chemicals, or they are wild crafted. I’m not sure why they don’t have this on their blog, most likely because they are a small company and keep it as simple and as old school as possible. I think when using Butterfly Express, the oils speak for themselves. The only information I can find is the story about how they get started, which you can find here:

The cool thing about Butterfly Express is that anyone can get a wholesale account, and then the oils are yours to do as you please with them. You can rebottle them and put different labels on them, sell them at your own price point, etc. I don’t do this as I don’t have the space or the time to invest in creating an oil selling business. I do have a wholesale account and use it often. You can find their website HERE.

Young Living

I absolute love Young Living oils. I will be completely honest, what I don’t love about them is that they are an MLM, because I believe that drives up their prices too high. They also have way more than essential oils, which I think is cool because they infuse the oils in to their other products. I have tried their Thieves concentrated cleaner and it works pretty good. I like that they have 15 ml bottles because those last a bit longer, and I feel like I am getting a better deal when I buy a larger bottle, when the smaller bottle is maybe only $5-10 less.

I find their oils to have a thicker viscosity than the other oils I use, and I’m not sure why. What I also like is their Seed to Seal quality guarantee. They do all kinds of testing on their oils to make sure they are pure. That isn’t super important to me. When I use an oil, I pay attention to the action of the oil and the response my body has. I have a good response to these oils, they smell great, they diffuse nicely, and overall I believe are high quality. You can find Young Living essential oils HERE.

So, those are the oils I use! There are other brands of essential oils out there that I’ve heard are great. I’ve also used Shirley Price, from England, and like their oils a lot as well. I’ve heard that Florama from France has really high quality, effective oils too. The best advice I can give you when you are looking for oils to use is to do your research, and USE the oils! I have tried another brand that is very popular and had a less than favorable reaction to them. No matter how great they might seem, they are not for me. It’s up to you to decide what oils will work best for you and your family, and no one can tell you otherwise!

My Morning Routine

Ah, the ever elusive morning routine. One that I have wanted to have locked down for years. One that I imagine more than I actually do it. I listen to others explain their morning routines and I am envious of their perfect morning full of gratitude, journal writing, meditation practicing and maybe even a lovely sunrise walk. I have spent years obsessing over what I want to do in the morning, obsessing so much that I don’t actually do it. Sound familiar?

I think there is a myth that comes with a morning routine, and the myth is that you can wake up and perfectly execute it, and by the time you walk out the door you have already owned the day and you feel like a boss. The reason this is a myth is because the morning routine is not special in and of itself, it is a LIFE ROUTINE. What you do the day before, the night before, informs your morning activities as well. And I think this is the missing key element when discussing a morning routine. It’s not going to happen magically. Your morning will go smoothly if you set yourself up for it, the night before, the day before, even the morning before. And your morning may not go smoothly, a lot of the times. That doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, that’s life!

I would love to tell you that I wake up before sunrise, meditate with my spirit guides, do an hour of yoga, make some juice, go on a walk, journal and blog and make a video for YouTube, oh and then get my workout in, have a plant based protein shake, take a shower, and walk out the door owning the day by 8am. But you know what, I would be EXHAUSTED by noon if I did all of that! In all seriousness though, I do wish I got up earlier and did some yoga, meditation and journaling before my day needs to really get moving. Sometimes I do. And when I do, I’m happy about it. When I don’t, I just go on with the day. And maybe I meditate mid day or journal that evening. Does it really matter WHEN you are doing it? If you are happy about it, when you get to it, that’s all that matters.

I do have somewhat or a morning routine. If I get to it. If the dishes from the night before are done. If I don’t have to clean up cat puke that I almost stepped in when walking to the bathroom first thing in the morning. And if I don’t sleep in. Because sometimes we just need sleep too!

So, when I have a routine, here’s what it consists of:

First thing when I get up is I drink water, and then I’ll go to the kitchen and make some lemon or lime water and have that too. I have a lemon tree so I am extremely privileged in this regard. I don’t deny that.

Either before or after my lemon water, I’ll take my vitamin B12. I’d love to say more about B12, but just know that EVERYONE needs B12, not just vegans. We are all deficient in this bacteria that grows in the soil and in our gut. I like Global Healing or Vimergy B12 the best. It’s best to take on an empty stomach so that’s why I have it first thing.

IF I have time, I’ll roll out my mat (or just get on my area rug to be quite honest, cat hair and all) and do about 5-10 minutes or stretching or super light yoga.

After that, I’ll make my juice. A few days a week it’s straight up celery juice. A few other days a week it’s whatever I have that I want to make juice out of. I really like cucumber, celery and apple. It’s a very healing juice, as well as just cucumber or just celery. And some days I’ll do a kale, cilantro, lime, pineapple, cucumber juice. If you have not had freshly juiced pineapple, you are missing out. It is so frothy and creamy and delicious! I drink the juice and clean up from it right away, that way I can use the blender again to make a smoothie!

Even if I don’t juice, I almost always make a smoothie, specifically the heavy metal detox smoothie. You can go to my blog post about that smoothie here. I make 2 servings, one for me and one for hubbs.

THEN if I have time, I’ll meditate, do some more yoga, etc. Sometimes I’ll make my lunch and take it with me because it’s a busy day. Sometimes I’ll take a shower. I know how that sounds. If I teach a fitness class first thing in the a.m., I don’t shower until after. I’ll even catch up on emails if I have time in the morning. Or yes, of course, I’m human with a dopamine addiction, so sometimes I’ll get on social media for a bit in the morning.

If I eat before I go teach my morning class, I’ll have fruit like papaya, pineapple, mango or banana. I like to stick to mono fruit first thing in the morning, or I’ll have 2 fruits, like papaya and mango. I rarely eat anything else for breakfast, and then after I teach my class in the mornings, I’ll have my smoothie.

So that’s it!

No magic, no secret sauce. If you want a rockin morning routine, set yourself up for success the night before. If you want to feel good about your morning routine and not stress, do what works and know that you’ll be able to have another change at it again the next day. Just don’t forget to take your B12 on an empty stomach ;)

How I Make Celery Juice

I have a secret … I don’t have a juicer and I still make celery juice almost every day! It can be done, quite easily actually, and I find I get more yield in juice, and it’s quick to clean up.

So, here’s how to juice without a blender!


Chop up celery and prepare to rinse. You can rinse it before hand too.


Add to blender with some water. Yes, I add a little bit of water. Some people don’t, and I do, and it works for me! I usually add about 2-4 oz water. Then blend until smooth.


Squeeze the bag until the liquid runs out and only the pulp remains. It’s like squeezing an almost empty tube of toothpaste, or yes, like milking the udder of a mammal. But I don’t like that comparison because we are not exploiting animals here, we’re making a health tonic!


Rinse thoroughly, or you can wash with your favorite produce wash.

After the celery is completely liquified, line a large container with a nut milk bag, and pour the celery juice in to the bag. I use a mesh one, and it’s really easy to clean. The cloth bags can get gunky and slimy. Also, this bag is stained because we used to use it to make kombucha, so it is NOT stained from the celery juice, haha!

Voila, you have your celery juice! I clean out the nut milk bag and blender right away. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes. Sometimes I just drink the juice straight out of the measuring glass, or if I’m feeling fancy or have time, I’ll put in in another glass.

Celery Juice Q&A

How much celery makes 16 oz of juice?

I have found this really varies. Sometimes I can get 16 oz out of a large head of celery, and sometimes I need 1.5 heads or even 2 whole heads of celery. The small, skinny stalks and small heads of celery will obviously produce less juice.

Where do you buy your celery?

I go back and forth between Sprouts, Trader Joes and Costco, and sometimes even Whole Foods. It seems expensive at Whole Foods, but sometimes I only need one head or even less than one head of celery and I can get up to 20 oz of juice from the celery at Whole Foods. Sprouts will often have larger heads of celery as well, and a better price, so sometimes I will get a bunch at Sprouts. Mostly, it depends on where I am geographically and on what day I need to buy more celery! You can expect this to cost about $50-75/month, which is why I do not make it every day. I make it about 3x a week. Try not to think of it as just juice though, it is a healing tonic and can do miraculous things for the body.

How does it taste?

It’s actually really good! It’s mild and salty, yum! Try to leave out the leaves because they can add a bitterness to it.

My celery juice turned out brown, should I drink it?

No, this is old celery or not as potent of celery, so please don’t drink it. It’ll be gross. To get the brightest green celery juice, use the brightest green celery! If the celery is more whitish, the juice will have a browner color to it. So go for as green as you can find!

Can I just blend celery and drink it, why make juice?

This can be explained much better by Medical Medium, so I’ll link his info below. Suffice it to say, the juice goes down a lot easier and it is 100% bioavailable. The pulp will act like a plug, stopping the body from being able to absorb all the juice goodness.

Does your husband drink it?

No, he does not. But I make him a heavy metal detox smoothie every day :)

There is even more info here on Medical Medium’s website, where he does a very comprehensive Celery Juice 101, so check it out!

Happy Juicing!

What's the Deal With Celery Juice?

A few years ago, I discovered a man named Anthony William who calls himself the Medical Medium. I listened to a few of his podcasts on the recommendation of a friend, and immediately wasn’t sure about the guy. My friend’s and I are generally very into holistic health and natural wellness, so usually when a friend recommends something, I go for it. But I just really wasn’t sure about this Medical Medium guy. I think at this time his first book had just been released, and I just wasn’t interested.

Six months later I tried celery juice and knew there was something going on here. Was this guy, the Medical Medium, the real deal? I love juicing and have juiced often. There was something about celery juice that felt different. I felt less bloated, my digestion improved. I had more energy and just overall felt good. Like something a little extra was going on but I couldn’t put my finger on it, just more vitality and more life force was happening. It was subtle, but noticeable.

Since then I have gone in spurts drinking celery juice. I get to it when I can, and don’t worry about it if it doesn’t happen. I don’t worry about it on vacations or anywhere I don’t have access to my high speed blender. Sure, I could make it happen. But I know that celery juice will be there again when I feel like I need it. Doing it EVERY SINGLE DAY can be too much. If it’s causing you stress, don’t do it! If you feel good, do it! Easy, right? ;)

So, why celery juice?

I’ll take it straight from Medical Medium. Now, keep in mind that a lot of people don’t like his stuff because he doesn’t share scientific or medical research to back up his claims. That’s because the research isn’t there yet. What he is sharing, we are decades away from discovering. If that doesn’t sit well with you, you are welcome to pass on anything you might see from him and don’t worry about it. But I can tell you, anecdotal evidence speaks volumes to me. Why we live in a world where everything has to be PROVEN by numbers, charts and graphs is beyond me. Why we don’t rely more on our INTUITION and FEELINGS is obvious, because we are not taught that this is the way, but how is the other way working out for us? Your body knows how to heal, and you can be guided to what you need. I truly believe this. So why do we need the numbers and the evidence, when we have our own internal system of intuition that can guide us? Because we don’t trust it. I can say that after studying and learning holistic health, your intuition can guide you. It takes a lot of faith and trust, and it can happen for you. I wish mine guided me more and I knew how to tap in to it in any moment, but that’s ok, I have trust that this can be further developed. So, that’s just a little side note about why there is no medical research. If you are skeptical, maybe try it first. Or read the hundreds of thousands of accounts online, on Facebook, Instagram, other platforms, where people share how their Medical Medium protocol has healed them when they thought all hope was lost and no doctor (I’m talking sometimes over 30 specialists people have been to) has been able to truly help them.

Here’s what Medical Medium has to say about celery juice:

If people knew all the potent healing properties of celery juice, it would be widely hailed as a miraculous superfood. Celery has an incredible ability to create sweeping improvements for all kinds of health issues. 


Celery is truly the savior when it comes to chronic illness. I’ve seen thousands of people who suffer from chronic and mystery illness restore their health by drinking 16 ounces of celery juice daily on an empty stomach. That’s why long ago I started the movement of drinking pure, straight celery juice, and it’s why I want to be sure people know how to use this potent drink correctly and successfully. 

Celery juice is most powerful when you drink it solo. While it’s great to consume other green juices or vegetables juices and add in items like spinach, kale, parsley, cilantro, or apples, drink those mixed juices at a different time than your straight celery juice. These blends function differently than what I’m recommending as your greatest tool for recovering your health: pure celery juice taken on an empty stomach. If you drink your celery juice first thing in the morning, it will also strengthen your digestion of foods you eat for the rest of the day. 

You can read the full article here:

Next time we meet, I’ll share how I make celery juice and share some of my own personal insights and questions I get asked most about it!