Featured

Ahimsa: an introduction

I’m starting to learn a few things about myself and this life.  I’m learning that life’s mysteries need not be so scary; that when I become still and listen, I can tune in to a stillness inside myself that guides and comforts me and I now know that my sensitive spirit needs space to nurture itself and feed my soul. I’ve also learned that this term Ahimsa, one I started intimately knowing many years ago- means way more than I ever knew possible and is more relevant now than ever. I’m not sure how I first stumbled upon the term Ahimsa;  it feels like it’s been a part of me my whole life, but growing up in an Irish/Italian Catholic family, I know Ahimsa somehow found its way to me, and it stuck.

In its simplest sense, ahimsa is a yogic term meaning to live your life causing the least amount of harm to others as possible.  As a vegan, I relate to the concept of ahimsa in a very intimate and profound way. Ahimsa is the foundational concept of living a compassionate life, to seeing the inherent worth in all beings and believing that all beings are sacred and divine. Ahimsa influences what I eat, how I spend my free time, how I treat both friends and strangers, and what I buy.

I was called to create this space to share how this thread of ahimsa inspires me each day and connects me to you and all of us together as one. In a world that sometimes feels like divisiveness and insults are becoming the norm, the warmth and love from living a life guided by Ahimsa is a call back to my own heart.

post

Parenting With Grace During the Holidays

The holidays can be very evocative for some of us. It can bring up cozy warm feelings as we reminisce about family gatherings and happy memories and also bring up anxious feelings or worry about finances, upcoming events and an overall busier season. Whatever it brings up in you, it’s all ok. It’s also ok for the holiday season to bring up all kinds of feeling in our children. So as we embark on another hustling bustling season of events, let’s take a deeper look at how we can manage it with grace and self-love.

Connect to the True Meaning. Being mindful about the “why” behind the season can help us get back to the roots of what these holiday traditions are all about. It can help us deepen our spiritual connection to the season, become closer as a family, and reduce some of the noise and distraction of the consumerism that we are faced with in many of our cultures. Take some time to be curious and ponder some questions. What would you like the holidays to be about for your family? If the answer is gratitude, how can you make that a daily practice? How can it be modeled? If it’s kindness and compassion, what would that look like? Tuning in with ourselves and refining our focus can go a long way in helping us to teach our children the life lessons we hope will make them loving and caring adults.

Consider focusing on a few centering family traditions– There are plenty of events going on between Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/ Solstice. Try to scale back to a few foundational traditions that you would like to focus on for your family. These will help everyone feel more grounded and bring your family closer together. They can be very specific to your tradition or more general. For example, in our home we visit a local Farm Sanctuary around Thanksgiving for their annual celebration of the turkeys. We also have a book tradition around Christmas where we unwrap a different Winter/Christmas themed book from our collection every day for the first 12 days of December. We enjoy lots of cozy reading time with these books all month long. We also love music in our home, so we incorporate impromptu holiday dance party and jam sessions all season long. Find the peace in knowing you are creating lasting joy filled memories that your child will treasure as they get older.

Be Gentle with Expectations– Keep in mind that the holiday hype, while intending to be fun and jolly, can be very overwhelming for many of our kiddos. Before an event, help them prepare by using a calendar, having lots of conversation of what an event may look like and if appropriate, view YouTube videos of an event so they can see or understand what to expect, listen and validate any feelings they have about the upcoming experience, and allow for extra time in your schedule so nobody feels rushed. During the event, check in with your child to see how they are managing and allow for flexibility if they need some space or time away to regulate their body. Bring along a favorite comfort item or fun activity, set aside a quiet space away from the action, and connect with them often either physically or emotionally. After the event, make sure to take extra time with your child to listen to their experience, answer any questions they may have and reflect on how it felt for you both. Holding space before and after gatherings and events to process and decompress in a relaxed way will help everyone feel less stressed and more connected.

Don’t forget Self-Care It’s so easy to put our needs aside when we are busy. With all the planning and preparing, how do we take care of ourselves too? Start small. Just five minutes can make a huge difference and create space to reset. Choose something you can do regularly and just get started. Drink more water, go to bed earlier, read for enjoyment, do standing stretches between tasks, close your eyes and focus on your breath, feel the sun on your face, look up at the sky, breathe deeply. If you have more time, one of the most healing things you can do is connect with nature every day. Bring the kiddos along too! Playing and being in the fresh air and sun can do wonders, especially during the darker winter days. It’s soothing and grounding for the whole family!

Release Judgment. This is truly a lifelong practice for everyone in the family. Whether we are coming down hard on ourselves as parents for not doing enough, giving enough or providing enough, or judging other for the way they react to this time of year- we all could use a little more grace. Keep in mind that each of us are doing the best we can in any given situation. Love on yourself a little more. Be patient. Scale back. Spend less. We don’t need to participate in every holiday event. We don’t need to have Instagram worthy tables, gift wrapping and families. We are beautifully imperfect and infinitely special just as we are. So are our children. Allow the mess, embrace home made decorations that focus on the process instead of the product, involve your kids in menu planning and simple cooking tasks. Invite them to prepare the house for the holidays to develop a greater sense of responsibility and care for their environment. Most of all, remember to keep age-appropriate expectations for them. A 5 year old cannot sit for as long as a 10 year old- and a 3 year old may not tolerate sitting at all. Sometimes children have very different ideas about something you meticulously planned. Listen to them and see where you can adjust and adapt things for them to feel accepted and seen. Just meet them where they are. Wherever they are is OK. Wherever you are is OK too.

Blessings to you and yours for a joy and love filled holiday season.

Peace to all, life to all, love to all. Sat Nam.

How to Keep the Family Healthy This Fall

The days are shorter, the nights cooler and we are all starting to settle into our new Fall rituals and rhythms. Along with that may come some more time indoors, slowing down and eating heavier foods. We might notice more sniffles around us and the kids are coming home with colds/flus are some other viral expression. Here’s a quick list of simple things that we can incorporate into our lives to help our families stay healthy as we head into this slower time.

  1. Bring in more fresh fruit and veggies. We tend to be drawn into warmer and richer foods as the days get cooler. It’s definitely much harder for me to drink smoothies on a cold morning or be excited about a salad after a brisk walk outdoors. We are not striving for perfection here, but awareness. Find what’s seasonal in your area and load up. If you are able to get in raw food, do it. If cooked food feels better for your body, go that route. Listen deeply and do what you can. Apples and pears and squashes are abundant this time of year around the NY area where I live. So I start there. Get as much in as you can every day- every bit helps.
  2. Utilize warming and immune boosting spices in your recipes. Garlic, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon and clove are all beautifully healing. They can boost flavor and warm up a dish on a cool day. They are antiviral, antibacterial and anti parasitic. Consider how you can bring them into more meals to give your immune system some extra loving support.
  3. Stay hydrated with living water and fresh juices. Hydration is important all year long and the colder weather is no exception. Our sinuses and airways dry out from indoor heat making it the perfect home for viruses to linger. Keep that juicer out and juice up some hydrating combos such as apple, cucumber, celery. Plain cucumber juice is a favorite of ours to get some great hydration in fast. No juicer? No problem. Lemon water, aloe water and cucumber water are all excellent ways to boost your daily water into something extraordinarily hydrating. Add a little bit into your glass and enjoy! A favorite drink in our home is maple lemon water. It’s a little sweet, a little sour and gets all the healing properties of glucose in as well.
  4. Pass the salt…. inhaler that is. Salt inhalers are a great way to kill viruses in our sinuses. They are easy to travel with so we can use them often. Use it after spending any amount of time in a public space, public transport or large gathering for optimal health. I really like keeping this salt inhaler in my bag all the time.
  5. Silver spray. Sovereign silver can be ingested or used topically for immune support. Everyone in our household uses both of these as a preventative and also to treat the first signs of illness. Use the nose spray in combination with the throat spray to shorten the length of your cold.
  6. Let’s do shots. Mix up a round of ginger, garlic, and turmeric shots. Freeze them in some Souper cubes and you will have an amazing natural tool at your fingertips for whenever you start to feel run down. Check out the recipe here
  7. Zinc Shock Therapy and Vitamin C Shock Therapy. Medical medium shared these powerful therapies to give our immune system the best chance at knocking out a bug. Both are easy enough to even give to children. Here is the recipe for zinc shock therapy and for vitamin C shock therapy.
  8. Get Outside. Fresh air, sunshine and movement can do wonders. Even if all you do is stand on your porch for 10 minutes, you will be giving your body a tremendous gift. Our homes are meant to shelter our bodies but our bodies are not built to remain indoors all the time.
  9. Move your lymph. Our lymphatic system is responsible for moving waste, such as bacteria, viruses and toxins, out of our bodies. Yoga, dry brushing, lymphatic drainage massage and rebounding are all gentle ways to keep that lymph flowing.

Healing My Chronic Illness with Medical Medium Information

I’ve been waiting to write this post for a while. When I was at the peak of my symptoms, I promised myself that I would share my journey when I was on the other side of things. But healing is not linear, there are ups and downs, hills and valleys and while I’m mostly pain-free, there are definitely days when I have a flare and my symptoms return for a brief while. The difference is that I now have learned what I can do to heal my body and trust my intuition each and every time I go through it. Most people in real life aren’t even aware that I’ve been impacted by chronic illness, it’s one of those things I’ve felt like doesn’t really come up casually unless I’m really struggling to move and it’s super obvious. So, I’m excited to finally share my story.

It all began when I was recovering from a viral exposure in the Summer of 2021 and I found myself with a host of new and chronic symptoms. I had severe pain, stiffness and inflammation in my toes and foot and mysterious rashes all over my body. The stiffness and swelling began moving to other joints such as my ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and jaw. The pain would stay in one spot for up to a few weeks, subside and then take up residence in another joint. There was a day when I couldn’t open my jaw, another when I couldn’t lift my left arm, and lots of days when I couldn’t bear any weight on my ankle or knee and had to remain on the couch. Finally in January the pain and symptoms peaked and I needed a cane for assistance to walk even short distances from the couch to the kitchen. All the while caring for a 3 year old full time making it even more imperative that I find a way to heal. It was hard. There were lots of times when I would well up with tears of despair as my 3 year old would ask me again and again to play with him when I couldn’t lift my body off the couch. I remember crying when he needed help with his socks, and I couldn’t find a way to bend down to help him. Then there was the brain fog, headaches, word retrieval issues and fatigue. I vowed to heal, for both myself and for my family. I knew I would do whatever it took to get some semblance of a normal life back- one that involved me playing cars on the floor and running around outside with my little guy. I knew I would someday hike again, I just didn’t yet know how I would get there.

I presented with symptoms consistent with what traditional doctors would call Psoriatic Arthritis-characterized as an incurable autoimmune disease. It is believed that auto immune diseases occur when the body attacks itself and there is not much one can do to recover. However, as a long time follower of Medical Medium information I’ve come to learn that the body can heal with the right support, lifestyle changes and time. I began reaching out to multiple practitioners, researching every bit of information I could find, and joining healing groups that could guide me along this path in community. According to MM information, auto immune diseases are caused by viruses and viral debris that we all carry in our bodies- our viral load. I have learned that my initial viral exposure triggered this underlying viral load, which for me was caused by both Epstein Barr and Shingles viruses. This is where I began focusing my healing.

My treatment protocol consisted of a few key things; elimating any foods that would feed the virus, adding in foods that would support my liver to help me clear viral debris, taking supportive herbs and vitamins to boost my immune system, calm my adrenals, and alleviate pain. It took a while, but gradually the healing began. The pain subsided, inflammation calmed and stopped spreading, and I could walk unassisted just in time to enjoy the coming of Spring. Then finally, after being in significant pain for 7 months, I was pain free by the end of March!

Here are some of the key things that helped me turn the corner:

  • Elimination Diet. I already don’t consume gluten, dairy, meat, corn, soy, or canola oil, but I also eliminated vinegar, citric acid, natural flavor, nutritional yeast, and refined sugar. I stopped all grains for a long time and gradually worked them back in little by little.
  • Raw until 4. One of the best healing tips for me has been eating raw food all day and steamed food at dinner.
  • No radical fat. I eliminated all fats-including healthy fats to allow my body to focus on cleansing.
  • Celery Juice. An all around crucial part to healing. Taken first thing in the morning after lemon water on an empty stomach to flush and heal the gut. I started with 16 ounces and worked up to 40 ounces when I could.
  • Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie. This was super important because of the psoriatic component to my symptoms. Dermatoxins release and react to the metals which caused the rashes. Clearing the metals helped clear up the rashes. Recipe is here
  • Supplements. In consultation with my practitioners, I added in additional supplements to my existing protocol at much higher dosages. These vitamins and herbal tinctures consisted of antivirals, adrenal support and pain management. (B12, Zinc, Ashwagandha, Cat’s Claw, Eyebright, Goldenseal, Mullein, Licorice Root, Lemon Balm, Nettle, Olive Leaf, Vitamin C, Lysine, Curcumin, 5MTHF, Magnesium Glycinate, Chaga, Glutathione, NAC, MSM, and Silica)
  • Slowing Down. One of the best things i could do for myself was to slow down and let my adrenals rest. I cleared the calendar, focused on simple living and just laid low for a while.

I’d like to say that life returned to “normal”, but there is now a new normal. I continue to eliminate the trouble maker foods from my diet, drink my CJ and HMDS every morning and take high dosages of herbs and supplements. Our meals are very intentionally created and I spend an enormous amount of time in the kitchen- which is not only the center of our home but is literally my pharmacy as well. But I can move! I can build train tracks on the floor and give airplane rides and run with my son as he peddles full speed down the block. I can go for walks and attend community festivals. I can bike to the farmers market and walk around the grocery store.

I will never take any of this for granted again.

Chronic illness has taught me to shift, to adapt and to listen. It has taught me to be humble, intuitive and to trust my body. It has taught me to make the most of the days when my energy feels good and I can move freely and easily- and to be patient on those days when I am in a flare and just don’t have the same physical capacity. It has taught me to appreciate every day.

It has been a long road, but my body is healing. We are all on our own healing journeys, and it is my sincere hope that this experience can help someone else with their journey too.

Peace to All. Life to All. Love to All. Sat Nam.

Sustainable Living Swaps for Everyone

Just in time for Earth day! We are continuing our conversation about sustainable living practices, the Zero Waste lifestyle, and living as a spiritual being in a very practical and accessible way. I’m here to say that Zero Waste/Sustainable living is available to each of us to a certain degree and encourage you to feel into what changes you are comfortable exploring.

At this point, I think most people are already doing some of the more mainstream “first tier” swaps (reusable water bottles/straws/coffee cups/shopping bags etc). But I want to encourage you to give some of these others swaps a try. You might just find a new favorite.

After all, in order for there to be real impact, we all need to be doing “something” and that “something” is very individualized. For some, it may be to eliminate air travel or live in a car optional community. For others, it may be to only purchase items from companies that are Fair Trade certified or Certified B corporations. The point is, only YOU can decide- but we all need to start taking some steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle. But don’t stop there, keep moving until you find your edge. You may be more comfortable with more change than you are giving yourself credit for.

So, here we go- my Top Zero Waste/Sustainable Living Swaps with specific brand recommendations that I can personally stand by:

  1. Green up your Toothbrushing Routine! This is one of the first swaps I did because it was so simple and there was barely any adjustment period . We all switched out to bamboo toothbrushes and Bite Bits for our toothpaste and floss. They have a subscription available that comes with zero waste refills and now even have Bite Bits for children ages 3 and up. I love that we are no longer tossing small bits of plastic in the trash, and to be honest, the little glass bottles on the bathroom vanity just make me smile.
  2. Modernize your Period experience! This is a great experiment- take all the trash from your next period and put it aside in a bag. If you are using disposable products, the amount of trash each month is probably more than you imagined. Time to rethink your routine with some great re-usable options.
    • Menstrual Cup– it may take some getting used to, but users absolutely love the freedom that wearing a cup can bring. There are lots of options to choose from and many places to purchase them. Some may even be sold in your local pharmacy.
    • Organic/Zero Waste Products– My absolute fave here is Tampon Tribe. Their products are all organic, zero plastic, women owned, compostable and socially responsible. You can subscribe for a customized package each month that comes with refill packs for their really cute burlap bags.
    • Period Underwear– Again so many options to choose from here. The feeling may take a little bit of getting used to, but so worth it. Period underwear are super easy to use and come in lots of styles and price points. My favorite are the ones from The Period Company. They contain no PFOAS at all, are socially responsible, extremely absorbent and at a very attractive price point.
  3. Skip the Plastic Jugs of Detergent! There are many companies offering excellent sustainable options to those huge jugs of laundry detergent. Drops laundry pods are a popular choice here. Made in the USA, free of all the bad stuff, compostable packaging and carbon neutral shipping make this a great choice. Another popular one is Meliora. They disclose every ingredient used, are MADE SAFE certified, a Certified B Corp, Made in the USA, and package free. I am in LOVE with every Meliora product I’ve used so far. They smell great (only using essential oils) and clean extremely effectively.
  4. Welcome Bar Soap back into your life! Remember those bars, you know, back before everything came in a little plastic bottle? From bar soap for hands, face, dishes to shampoo and conditioner bars, there are bars for everything. My shampoo and conditioner bar of choice is NueBar. They are made of high quality ingredients, no artificial fragrances, contain no soap, SLS, SLES, or SCS, carbon neutral and plastic free packaging. They even have a smart lettering system on the bars so you don’t get them mixed up in the shower. They are also Curly girl method approved. I also love their facial bars, especially the one for mature skin. For dish soap, you can’t go wrong with Meliora here again. Their products are really superior and well crafted.
  5. Try out some DIY Personal Care Products! Plastic free and zero waste versions of your fave products are super easy to find. Here are my go-to recipes for products I use every single day.
    • Flax seed hair gel. This was the first DIY I ever tried and was so floored by how great it worked and how amazing my hair felt afterward, it’s now the only product I use in my hair. Flax seeds are full of Omega-3 fatty acids and are nutrient rich. You can freeze this gel in portions in an ice cube tray so you always have a stash made and it literally costs pennies per ounce. Here’s my go to recipe for flax hair gel.
    • Body Butter. I love this all natural and simple body butter made of only 3 ingredients: shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil. Our whole family uses it- including our toddler. I even use it on my face. It feels great and soaks right in. The best part is that there are no mystery ingredients to worry about and its so easy to make.
    • Moisturizing Skin Serum. This lovely skin serum is made of organic, cold- pressed plant oils and is a relatively new addition to my routine. I put this on and allow it to soak in and follow up with the body butter recipe above. Using it makes me feel like I’m in a spa. Here’s the recipe.
  6. How about some DIY Cleaning products? There are tons of recipes out there. We’ve been using this one for our dishwashing detergent and have not been disappointed- one more plastic bottle down! And as soon as my bottled toilet bowl cleaner is finished, I’ll be replacing it with this.
  7. Let’s Talk Toileting! Speaking of toilets, we swapped our TP for one made of recycled content and all compostable packaging. I’m loving Who Gives A Crap for their commitment to a worthwhile cause and humanitarian effort. They are a Certified B Corp and have carbon neutral shipping. I am super pleased with their products and bonus, they have cheery wrapping that is quite pretty (and can be repurposed!) A next step for us is purchasing a bidet. While we are not quite there yet (our toddler would have a literal blast with it) we do have this one on our radar.
  8. Ditch the plastic and go for glass, glass, and more glass! Start buying things in glass packaging whenever possible. You like mustard? Buy the one in glass. Salad dressing? Find the one in glass. Start a jar stash and literally use them for everything. You can freeze in them, store dry goods in them, use them for leftovers, organize your office supplies, drink out of them, put flowers in them, make DIY gifts in them. The list goes on!

So there it is for now, I hope some of these swaps spark interest and hopefully excitement for starting something new and fresh this Spring. It’s a perfect time for renewing our commitment to this planet and to ourselves.

You’ve all seen the bumper sticker, “There is no Planet B” after all.

Sat Nam

Zero Waste Living as Spiritual Practice

As the climate crisis looms heavily in our awareness, more and more people are becoming curious about living a zero waste lifestyle. This movement has been getting a lot more attention and understandably so. Zero Waste is defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance as, “Conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health”. That’s something I think we can all get behind- but what about the term “zero waste”? The name itself is often misleading and misunderstood as the intention to be truly zero waste is a nearly impossible feat to achieve. Here, I am offering the suggestion to approach a zero waste lifestyle with a side of self compassion and a whole lot of patience. I would like to banish those images of people holding up a mason jar containing a year’s worth of their trash. Instead let’s consider how simple changes in our daily lives can help lower our environmental impact, bring us closer into alignment with our spirit and relationship to nature, and even teach us a few things about humility along the way.

One of the first thing I noticed when researching all things zero waste was the array of aesthetically pleasing items composed of natural materials: wood, cork, organic cotton, and glass. It was beautiful. I was nearly tempted to dump every plastic item in my home and replace it with something sustainable. I didn’t want to use one more plastic item. Then I paused-wouldn’t that be the opposite of what this movement is all about? So I started slowly and wanted to share my exploration here.

If you’re considering a zero waste lifestyle, here’s a great place to begin

  1. Take a fridge inventory. Do you have a lot of takeout containers? Food rotting and forgotten in the back? An excess of packaged and processed items? A foundational part of being zero waste is reducing our food waste. Consider how you could cook at home more often. Research plant based meals which are inherently produced with a smaller carbon footprint than animal products. Go simple and make extra portions for the freezer. Look at creative ways to make meals with leftovers and recipes with “scraps”. All of these efforts will not only bring you closer to your zero waste goals, but also to an overall healthier and thriftier lifestyle.
  2. Consider prepping your own DIY cleaners. Find simple recipes for homemade cleaners and have the ingredients at the ready for when you run out of your conventional cleaner. Start with one item at a time and find a recipe that works best for your lifestyle. You can re-use the plastic spray bottles from your old cleaners or store the new concoctions in jars. Once you find a good DIY replacement, move on to another cleaning product.
  3. Use the personal care products you have completely before buying a “zero waste” replacement. You can still use your toothpaste, shaving cream, shampoo etc. Just have a new replacement at the ready for when they are finished. I’m reminded of the saying, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” here.
  4. Peek in your recycling bin. Are there items you can take out to be repurposed or reused? Can someone else use it? ( think about your local “Buy Nothing” group). Are you seeing a lot of the same type of packaging? Where can you cut back on plastic? Just start becoming aware…and creative.
  5. Observe your daily habits. What disposables could you replace with reusables? This is very personal and specific. If you never use straws, it wouldn’t make sense to purchase a stainless steel straw. That said, if you buy coffee everyday, buying a reusable coffee mug is a practical and easy swap. Start with what works for you and your comfort level.
  6. Begin building your stash of reusables. Everyday items make easy swaps. A great example of this is repurposing old T shirts, cotton burp cloths, and flannel to replace paper towels for cleaning. It is also much cheaper and less wasteful than purchasing a new item, such as un-paper towels, even if it is zero waste. Re-use containers, jars, plastic packaging rather than buying reusable ziploc bags or a matching set of mason jars.
  7. Re-think new items coming into your home. Is it necessary? Could you find a diy alternative? Is it made sustainably? Is it fair trade? Will it last a long time? Is it in alignment with your philosophy?

Taking time for reflection, focusing on a clear intention and being thoughtful about taking steps is all part of this process. It is a way to deepen our connection to ourselves, build community, engage in a larger world issue and enact real change. Keep striving for self improvement and for a better world-we will get there.

And remember, small steps are still steps.

Sat Nam.

.

My Vegan Re-Awakening

 

afterglow background beautiful branches
Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com

I’ve learned a lot about who I am through my journey to veganism.

When I first became vegetarian 29 years ago it was a crystal clear and empowering decision.  I became keenly aware that I could no longer eat animals and vowed to make a difference.  I was still young at the time and my newly found vegetarianism was not received in a supportive way.  There was no guidance or words of encouragement from my family.  I found PETA and other animal advocacy groups and began learning.  Through reading their newsletters, I became aware of how animals were being used in other ways; through animal testing, entertainment, and for fashion.  This was eye-opening! My life had changed.  When I was 18, I put my animal advocacy stickers on my car.  I knew I wanted to make the world a better place for the animals and hoped to change the opinions of those who I was closest with along the way.

Then something unexpected happened. My passion for the animal rights movement faded into the background. It just shrunk. While I was proud of my actions, I learned to be quiet and not share information with others so I wouldn’t offend anyone or sound “preachy”.  Being vegetarian simply became a part of me, like having brown eyes or being female. It was just a fact.

I went to college, studied well, began my career, went back to school for my M.A., bought my first house and kept checking things off my goal list.  But what about my passion for saving the animals? Was it silent, gone?  Sure I still sought out vegan cosmetics and non-leather shoes, but those decisions had become second-nature.   I had yet to meet another vegetarian.

In 2015 I became vegan.  I saw a shocking image shared on Facebook by my former yoga teacher turned vegan lifestyle coach.  It wasn’t graphic, but it helped me connect the dots in a way that I had never done before.  On the spot, I was vegan!   I removed dairy and eggs from my diet and even joined a vegan activist group and for the first time in my life, I sat in a room surrounded by other vegans! Then I returned to my life.  I focused on building up my small business and gave my energy away to everything else.  Feeling depleted and unhappy, I began some deep inner work.  For the first time, I listened and realized I was not living in alignment with my truth.

The truth is that the vegan movement is really exciting to me, that meeting and talking with other vegans is supportive and nourishing to my spirit, that the food can be incredibly inventive and delicious and that spreading the vegan message is really important for both the animals and planet.  I had learned to stifle this enthusiasm and pursued all the things in life I thought I was “supposed to” pursue, but was not fulfilled.  I began the process of reclaiming this lost part of myself.

So, what did I do as a 40 year old re-awakened vegan? I learned, I engaged, I shared, and I became active! There was a new-found celebration of veganism arising from my spirit! I no longer pushed my vegan identity off to the side, but invited it along for the ride- front and center!  I found incredible vegan podcasts to listen to, watched documentaries, read books, and created a grass roots support group right in my little neighborhood.  My inner young vegan self became so joyful now that she was recognized!

I am living a more joyful life than ever before.  I know I am making a difference for the animals who I made a promise to those 29 years ago. I am enthusiastic, alert and energetic.  I have come full circle.

Some people refer to this as the “call of Spirit” and it very well feels that way to me.  I just needed to learn to listen and watch how it all begins to unfold for me.

SAT NAM

 

Choosing Non-Toxic Cookware

How much thought do you give to the food you eat? What about the type of water you drink? Skin products? Cookware?  All of these things have an impact on our health and well-being. I’ve been carefully working on cleaning up my act these last few years.  I switched out my skin and personal care products, became really conscious of my food and drink choices, but cookware? No, I didn’t really even think about it.  As I discovered though, the type of pots and pans we are using can actually make us sick.  It really got me thinking, with all the care I give to eating really healthy and detoxing my body, why would I cook my food in potentially harmful cookware? I began researching right away.  I quickly became overwhelmed by all of the buzz words out there, “green”, “clean”, and “healthy” were used in a general sense to describe cookware that for me didn’t really seem that healthy at all.  Below I outline some of the most popular types of cookware used and the potential health risks they pose.

Teflon (PTFE) Coated–  PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) is a chemical used in the process of making Teflon and is toxic to our bodies and the environment.  This chemical has been linked to some cancers. Teflon coatings can flake off and contaminate the food being cooked. Cooking in Teflon coated pans can also release toxins into the air that are particularly harmful to pets. A lot of cookware is now being advertised as “PFOA free”.

Stainless Steel- Stainless steel cookware contains other metals (such as nickel and chromium).  If pans become pitted or scratched, these metals can leach into the food as it cooks. When choosing stainless steel, opt for high quality/pharmaceutical grade stainless steel to reduce your risk of exposure to heavy metals.

Cast Iron- While a common fixture in many kitchens (including mine until recently), cast iron pans leach iron into the food as it cooks.  Iron encourages the formation of free radicals and has been associated with increase cancer risk.  While we need small amounts of iron to produce red blood cells, we often have too much iron in our bodies which we have no way of ridding ourselves of. Excess iron in tissues and organs has also been linked to infertility.

Ceramic Coated- Ceramic cookware has gained popularity recently because it conducts heat well and metal does not come into direct contact with the food as it cooks.  The ceramic coating is typically applied to an aluminum pan for better heat conduction.  If the coating becomes scratched or chipped, aluminum from these pans can leach into the food.  Aluminum has been found in the plaques on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and is known to be associated with the disease. In addition, ceramic coated cookware is commonly glazed with a nonstick substance that may contain traces of lead or cadmium.  It is best to do a thorough amount of research if you are considering ceramic coated cookware.

Solid Ceramic (no coating)- This cookware is less popular and contains no applied coatings.  It is aluminum free and contains no chemicals.  There is no coating to chip or peel off. While they are durable, food can stick to the surface.

Glass- Visionware  is still on the market and a good option for those concerned about heavy metals and chemicals leaching into food.  Some of the reviews caution about the cookware shattering, but with proper care, glass cookware can be a healthy alternative.

So how to decide?  After weeks of researching I narrowed it down to 2 options. Saladmaster, a pharmaceutical grade titanium/stainless steel was at the top of my list.  I had seen a cooking demonstration on the HHAS cruise this past February and was impressed with the product.  In addition to the quality of the material, this cookware is meant to cook on low heat with no oil to optimize the flavor in vegetables.  The downside? Saladmaster cookware is very pricey.  For me, it was cost prohibitive.

My second option was Xtrema Ceramcor ceramic cookware.  I love how transparent the company is- putting toxicity and health front and center. All of their cookware has been through leaching tests and results are posted on their website. The cookware is 100% ceramic, no polymers, metals or chemicals.  In addition, the cookware is in adherence to the stringent California Prop 65 testing by the FDA.   I was surprised to find that this product was in such close alignment with what I was looking for and have been extremely happy with it so far.  Most importantly, I have the peace of mind  knowing that the food I’m cooking is clean.

Cruising Into Health

IMG_8885How a Vegan Cruise opened my heart and nourished my soul!

It’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged, but I had to share my experience of The Holistic Holiday At Sea, Vegan Cruise aboard the MSC Divina.  Living a plant based lifestyle, I’m always very careful about how I travel and it normally means a tremendous amount of preparation, packing and research.  I had heard about this cruise for years, but this year just seemed right.  For me, this cruise worked on so many levels. Gifting me with the most up to date and scientifically proven knowledge from speakers like Drs. T Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, Michael Greger and more- these are the superstars of the plant based movement!!! Then there were the animal advocacy speakers and researchers like Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, James Aspey, Gene Bauer, and Ingrid Newkirk.  I know I’m doing a lot of name dropping here, but being in their presence was an absolute inspiration!  On top of all of this, we got fed the most delicious, clean and nourishing food (without any of the prep work)- oh and did I mention we were in the Caribbean with 2000 other vegans!!

I am now signed up to do this vegan cruise again next year (yippee).  The support, love and encouragement of community was beyond what I ever expected.  It was 10 days of self care and life giving expansion.

Healing Cleanse- Week 2

Last week I explained how I found myself on this path to the 28 day Healing Cleanse by the Medical Medium, Anthony William.  I just completed week 2 and still feeling pretty great.

I experienced some detox symptoms at the start of my second week (irritability, impatience, and a lot of mind chatter).  As this is a very deep level of cleansing, the symptoms were not a surprise and I listened carefully to my body to see if there was anything I should change. I realized I was pushing myself a bit too hard in my everyday life and decided to slow down, breathe, and create more opportunities for ease.  I also began doing some dry brushing to help move the lymph and release the toxins faster.

Today is my wedding anniversary.  Each year we celebrate with a fantastic dinner out and a very nice bottle of wine, so this year is different for us.  I am fortunate that my husband is doing the cleanse with me, he’s a tremendous support and I’d recommend anyone doing the cleanse to find someone (or a group of people) to do the cleanse with- it makes it a lot easier!  Anyhow, tonight we will celebrate with loads of veggies, fresh guacamole (with plenty of cilantro), and fruit for dessert.  Sounds like a good night to me, after all, it’s not about the food- although it sometimes feels as though it is.

On to week 3!!

The 28 Day Healing Cleanse- Week 1

Healing infertility through nutrition and gentle detox

Vegetables and FruitsI’m so excited to write this blog today.  One week ago I began the Medical Medium 28 day Healing Cleanse and felt called to share my experience. I’ve been following the Medical Medium (Anthony William) for some time now.  I’ve worked closely with gifted teachers and practitioners who are skilled in his work and have guided me through supplements and herb selection and supported me through viral flares and symptoms of detoxing. For those of you unfamiliar with Anthony’s work, his books, The Medical Medium and Life Changing Foods, are game changers in every sense of the word. The overall message is that:  1. We are surrounded by environmental toxins which can build up over our lifetime. 2. We carry viral loads and heavy metals which along with environmental toxins, can make us sick. 3. Thebody can REVERSE disease and heal itself.  That’s a really oversimplified version, but the basic premise.

I am very lucky in that I haven’t been diagnosed with any serious disease.  That said, there is the issue of what hasn’t exactly been diagnosed.  I am one of those women who falls into the category of having “unexplained infertility”.   It’s a horribly befuddling term that left me full of questions and despair. Four years ago my husband and I began trying to have a baby. After an unsuccessful year and a half, we turned to the medical model for help.  Nobody had answers. My husband was healthy, I was healthy.  All the numbers looked really good, tests couldn’t find anything wrong.  They suggested IUI (intrauterine insemination) and medication.  Not knowing what else to do, we went for it. It failed- four times.  I was devastated and vowed to focus on our health and find another path.

In April 2016, I started seeing an acupuncturist and began taking chinese herbs. In addition, we started working with a homeopathic doctor specializing in removing heavy metals from the body in a safe and systematic way. He explained that my husband was loaded with heavy metals and that I had them too, mainly in my ovaries.  We detoxed and followed his protocols for 5 months.  We were both mostly clear and ready to start trying again.  I felt that I needed to go further though, and in October 2016 began working with a new healer who introduced me to Anthony’s work.   This healing path has consisted of nutritional support and a lot of really good self care (ahimsa at its finest!). For months I’ve been clearing out viral debris, improving my immune and nervous system, detoxing my liver, and removing any residual heavy metals.  I feel really, really great and probably the healthiest I’ve ever been.

Back to present day, I am doing the 28 day Healing Cleanse as described in the Medical Medium book 1 to do a final really deep detox before attempting to try to conceive again. This cleanse is really simple (one thing I love about it) and all natural (the other thing I really love).  For 28 days, eat only raw fruit and vegetables.  That’s it.  I was reluctant to give up olive oil, potatoes, and seeds/nuts at first.  Even though I knew I could get incredible amounts of macronutrients and dense amount of nutrition from these foods, it was still a big shift.  After a week, I feel amazing.  My energy is really great, I feel calm, grounded and radiant.  I am practicing listening to my body for any signals that things are moving too fast, but so far, it’s been extremely positive.

Now…on to week 2!!!!

Below are some references for support in this work:

Medical Medium: Secrets behind chronic and mystery illness and how to finally heal

Medical Medium Life Changing Foods: Save yourself and the ones youlove with the hidden healing power of fruits and vegetables

Food Matters  (documentary 2008)

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead