Friday, October 28, 2016

I'm Still Alive!

I'm aliiiiiive!!  The past week or so I've had a lot of people suddenly ask me, "What happened to your blog?" "Why haven't you posted anything lately?" etc.  So I thought, what the heck, I'll pop in and say hi to you all.

But, to answer your questions:

What happened to my blog?  It's still here!  And I reference it a LOT, and I hope you do too!  I'm really glad I posted all those recipes in the past because I use a lot of them pretty frequently.  I find my Post Index and Recipe Box rather helpful.  I need to post more recipes because I've discovered some gems in the past months.  Like this Paleo Chocolate Pecan Pie.  Oh. Em. Gee.

And why haven't I posted anything lately?  Because I'm friggin busy, that's why.  Business has been busy, I took on a 5k project throughout the summer to benefit the Love Abby foundation, which turned into a half marathon event earlier this month (which I didn't help with as much as I'd hoped, but did, however, learn to not bite off more than I can chew anymore!).  Not to mention I have two little kids that demand a lot of attention, and a marriage that I'd really like to enjoy when those two little kids move out (which means nurturing that marriage NOW, people, I've realized a lot of couples learn that the hard way when they put marriage on hold and make family the priority then suddenly don't know what to do with each other when kids grow up and start their own families.  Don't let that be you!  I know I don't want that to be me!)

I did kinda want to write a post about when I went to California to learn Touch For Health in June... but I've found a lot of satisfaction in just appreciating that trip on my own, and seeing the profound results in my practice with my clients.  That trip, and that class, literally changed my life.  Not in the cliche way, and I'm totally not exaggerating.  Thanks to TFH Energy Balancing, I have more confidence, patience, clarity, and ambition, just to name a few things.  Time management, prioritizing, and focusing have gotten a lot better, and I feel like a better person overall.  I can help bring that kind of change to my clients too!  And I want to!  But it's not something I can really explain here, it's something you just have to try, trust, and experience first-hand.  It's amazing.

Anyway, just because I haven't been blogging doesn't mean I haven't been writing.  I've just gotten back into creative writing.  I may have mentioned in a past post or maybe on my bio that I've always enjoyed creative writing, but since I've gotten out of that I used this blog as my writing outlet.  Well, not anymore.  My muse came back a year or so ago and finally I just had to get the ideas out of my head.  I am currently 150 pages into a creative writing project and have some good, strong momentum going and I don't intend to stop.  So long as my muse sticks around... (she's been known to ditch me before, but I'm really feeling good about this one!).  So, basically, any chance I have to sit and unload these ideas out of my head (which are rare finds but they do happen), that's what I'm doing.  Which is why I don't blog.  Or get on Facebook much anymore, either.  Or finish my kids' photo books...  Ha.

Lastly, I've kinda fallen off the blog train because I feel like my posts are either a) preaching to the choir, b) falling on deaf ears, or c) are only looked at if they feature a recipe and are read by someone following a specialty diet.  Which is totally cool, I love helping out people on a health quest.  So I'll try to update with recipes as often as I can.  But as far as a and b, if you're part of the choir, I'm wasting your time, and if you're deaf, I'm wasting my time.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  I've found over the last couple years that I don't need to preach.  I need to do what I feel works for myself and my family, and I've shared a lot about what we do here, but I recognize that doesn't work for everybody, and the people it would work for usually find me on their own and we have great, fulfilling conversations and we both part ways wiser and more motivated.

So, as you may have guessed, I probably won't be posting much anymore.  I do want to try to post recipes more often though, mostly for my personal reference but also for you guys who like to try healthy alternatives that taste good too, so I promise I'll try harder!  Doesn't mean I'll succeed... but I'll try!!  However, if you want natural lifestyle advice, don't hesitate to ask me personally.  Avoiding drugs, cleaning up diet to not just look better but feel and function better, warding off illness, recovering from illness, recovering/detoxing from having taken conventional medicine (sometimes it's a necessary evil!), and anything in that category.  I'm happy to chat!  I'm still the same research-a-holic I've always been, just getting kinda selfish with my time and my knowledge over the years... Sorry bout it!

Hope you've all been well!  Happy Halloween, and if I don't pop in here with a delicious pumpkin recipe anytime soon, then Happy Thanksgiving as well!  Thank you all for the support that I have gotten, I appreciate your time and interest, and I look forward to chatting in person in the future! :)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Update on Life, Natural Pinkeye Remedy, Stress, and Tuna/Salmon Salad Recipe

Hello strangers!  Sorry I've gone MIA again.  I've entered a time in my life where stress has reared its ugly head and I'm trying really hard to find the balance amidst it all.  I've taken on a few too many projects, and I think all these projects would work out a lot better if I were tackling them about a decade later.  Because let's face it, taking on personal projects is reeaaaalllyyy hard to do when you have two small children to take care of.  Or for me it is, anyway.  I'm not a very maternal person, believe it or not, so honestly I think of all the stressors in my life, parenting is the hardest and the one getting to me the most.

Other than that, business has been BOOMING.  I have some amazing clients that I am soooo so grateful for.  One major thing I need to do business-wise is learn how to schedule time for my secretary (a.k.a. me), my bookkeeper (a.k.a. me), and my cleaning lady (a.k.a. me).  Sometimes I feel like all I have is a massage therapist on staff, as my files are piling up, my birthday coupons are weeks overdue to be sent out, and dust bunnies are nesting in my corners.  It's overwhelming I tell you!  Though, like I said, I am so grateful that this is the problem I have, being so busy.  It's definitely a good problem.

I've been doing an alternative market once a month too, which has been going very well.  I spend a the day (and some of the day before if I time it right) baking some of the recipes you find on this blog, as well as making pre-mixed packages of my paleo tortillas, cookies, and pancakes.  That evening I sell them at Market on Main in Red Bud, and I've gotten a lot of great feedback from my customers!  It's been very fun and rewarding, yet takes a lot of thought and planning making sure I get the ingredients I need as well as figuring up prices for my items.

Another project I've taken on is a 5k.  This idea started towards the end of last year when Justin and I were talking about the year a member of our community created a "Pay It Forward" run, which was an unofficial 5k that happened once a month, and she'd choose a different charity to donate to each time.  We'd donate whatever we felt like, she'd tell us the route, we'd take a group picture, and off we'd go.  Justin and I tried to make it to each one, and that was the year both of us were in our best shape.  We wanted to try to get back into running again, so I said how about we try to recreate the idea of the Pay it Forward run?  Not long after, Terri Liefer and I were talking about her new charity, Love Abby, in honor of her step daughter who's life was taken too early by a drunk driver.  The charity donates items to foster children in the local area, as well as homeless and women's shelters.  She said if I had any fundraiser ideas to let her know, so that's when I told her about my thoughts about a 5k.  It took off from there!  We're going to try to meet once or twice a month from April to October, and each time we'll collect items to donate to the Love Abby charity.

Maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew?  The first run is next Saturday, the 16th, and the only thing I have done is a 3.5 mile route planned out.  I intend to create a 5 mile route for bikers and more advanced runners, and a 1 mile route for walkers or novice runners.  I need to print maps, run copies of the printed maps, and create markers to put along the routes to direct people who don't do well with maps (or I'll just have to tell people to deal with it, ha).  But, at this point in time, I'm going to keep the routes the same each time.  So the next times, I wont have to think as much.  Just show up.

In amongst all this I'm still trying to keep my family eating healthy, manage the mundane tasks of homeownership like bills and cleaning and planning for the next projects we want to tackle with this new house, and raise these two lovely yet demanding children.  I've had to keep Harlee's karate schedule straight in my head, which I've screwed up a few times, and Elliot is at an age where I simply can't take him anywhere lest I go insane.  He refuses to talk at his ripe age of 20 months old (I could have full conversations with Harlee at this age), and lets me know with an adamant shake of the head that he's uninterested in vocally communicating with me, thank you very much.  And instead cries or whines or yells to communicate.  I'm so over it.

Natural Pink Eye Remedy

On top of all that, this has been the year of the pink eye at our house.  UGH it's relentless!!  What is up with that??  In case you're interested, I've cured it naturally every time.  But it seems like once I get rid of it, only three weeks later one of them will either bring another case home from school or daycare.  It's soooooooo contagious.  To treat it I put colloidal silver in their drinks, which is a natural antibiotic.  It's silver particles suspended in water, and bacteria cannot live on silver, and silver kills bacteria on contact.  I'm still working on researching how exactly that works, but I've known about it for decades and you can see it in action if you host a Norwex party.  I found this article, for starters, if you want to look into it yourself.  Anyway, I continue that a couple times a day until symptoms are gone. I follow up with lots of probiotics (I just break a capsule into their drinks), as you want to keep that beneficial bacteria thriving in your gut - that's what makes up most of your immune system!  I also use homeopathic eyedrops (they need to contain Euphrasia) 3-4 times a day until symptoms are gone.  Believe it or not, you can get these eyedrops at Walmart.  I've had it beat in no more than 3 days each time, usually it's gone within a day and a half.  If you choose to treat pink eye naturally in your own home, the rules according to our doctor are to wait 24 hours after symptoms have cleared up before returning to school or daycare.  I'm currently dealing with it again - Harlee brought it home from school and I had it kicked in a day and a half, but of course he shared it with Elliot, and I am still treating that.  That then messes up the schedule, as they have to stay home from school and daycare, which only adds to my stress with having to reschedule clients and find back-up to watch the boys (my mom has been a lifesaver).

So, that's where I am in life.  Not to mention it's getting nice out, so we've begun gardening, we've got lots of chickens, and we're getting ready to start landscaping and spend some tax return money on cabinets for our home office/mudroom (and hopefully get a little more organization into our lives).


One of these days (or weeks or months) I'm going to write a decent article about the effects of stress on our well-being.  Because I am totally experiencing that first-hand.  I've maintained a workout schedule, which amazes me to no end, yet I've been noticing the scale creeping up little by little.  Not cool! Especially after all the hard work I've put in to get it down!  I've been eating as healthy as I can, but I believe the stress in my life has thrown off some of my hormone production/transportation, as I've noticed with other symptoms going on.  I've been super bloated, feeling feeling fatigued during the day, I have a really hard time getting up out of bed in the morning, I'm craving junk food, my brain isn't firing on all cylinders, and I've been increasingly crabby despite the supplements I'm taking that I've always had success with.  I decided to start a mild cleanse.  I purchased a 14-day herbal cleanse kit from our local health store which basically contains two different herbal supplements to help detox your organs as well as a fiber supplement to help flush everything out.  I'm trying to focus on eating healthy during these two weeks as well as exercise regularly like I have been.  I'm on day 3 and already my fatigue is gone!  I actually got up with Justin at 5:30 this morning and did some basic stretching and yoga poses to start my day.  It felt really good!  Usually right about now I'd be ready to crawl back to bed for a nap and I'm still going strong!  I really hope I'm onto something!

It's almost time to pick up Harlee from school.  But before I wrap this up, I wanted to share a recipe with you, since it's been a long time since I've done that.  It's a tuna or salmon salad that I've made similar to my favorite chicken salad.  I've made it a few times both ways and it's been delicious every time!  I like to scoop some onto a bed of mixed salad greens and just eat it like that.  So good!

That's all for now, it was great to finally get to write again!  I miss this!  Hope you've been well, and I look forward to writing again!

Tuna or Salmon Salad

Sorry, can't come up with a more clever name.  It's got a lot of goodies in it!

2 cans tuna or 1 can salmon
1 boiled egg, chopped
1/4 cup real mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard (whichever kind you like)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2-1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
handful of dried berries
handful of chopped pecans or walnuts
(I didn't measure the berries or nuts - just put however much you like in there, or omit completely)

Mix ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chocolate Carrot Cake Muffins and Chocolate Maple-Pecan Glaze

I'm going to start this post out with a late THANK YOU to everyone for you support after my last rant.  It means a lot to know people care about what I write and what I have to share.  It means even more to know I'm not alone in my line of thinking!

The whole "Ask and you shall receive" thing has become very apparent during this time, too.  It's one of those biblical things that have been taught to a lot of us throughout our youth, but it never really meant anything to me until I got older and realized, hey, this stuff really works!  And I've since left my "biblical/religious" past behind and have moved into a more "spiritual" life instead, but the saying rings true no matter what your persuasion.  If you put your desires out there to God or the Universe or whatever you believe in, you'll get a response.  It's all in how you put it out there, though, and all in what lies in your heart when you do so.  It's pretty cool.  And since putting it out there that I'd love to know I have a support system, that I'm not completely crazy and completely alone in my line of thinking, people have been coming out of the woodwork!  Okay so of course I already knew I wasn't alone, I have a lot of clients whom I get into lengthy conversations with about our natural lifestyles, and whether we have the exact same opinions and feelings or not we support each other and I've had really great experiences talking to all of them.  It's just that, in the recent past, it seemed like the more medical/pharmaceutical-minded people and the SAD- (Standard American Diet) eaters were more prevalent than those who, like me, realize all those chemical drugs are killing us and so is the processed food handed to us on a daily basis.  And it gets discouraging when that happens.  Anytime you believe in something, if the non-believers far outweigh the people who are in your support system, it gets hard to hang onto your beliefs and hard to still feel supported.

So, I'm going to take this moment to reflect on a post I wrote a few months back and express some gratitude, not only to you guys who are like-minded and appreciate what I have to say here, but also to the Universe (/God, /Higher Power - you know, that great Source energy we all come from and will return to, call it what you will) for answering me when I asked for more support.  I've heard from and met some really awesome people and am feeling more encouraged to keep sharing what I do instead of hiding in my little bubble at home healing my family naturally and eating my clean food and not sharing any of that knowledge with anyone else.

I decided to share a recipe too, before I forget how I made it!  I have a ton of recipes in the line-up to share with you but this is the most recent one and the one that's freshest on my mind.

So we have this co-op, right?  Most of you local readers know about that, and if not, it's if you want to check it out.  It's been a HUGE help for us in keeping our fridge stocked with produce.  And I order extras besides just the box so that way we're guaranteed to have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables through the next couple weeks.  Well, I wanted to order some carrots, and they have options like the 1lb bag, 2lb bag, 5lb bag, etc.  I thought I selected the 2lb bag.  No, this was definitely one of the larger ones.  This sack of carrots was the size of a couple basketballs.  I was not paying attention when I ordered, apparently!!  So now I have a ton of carrots to use up, thus the inspiration (/necessity) for carrot cake.  And chocolate.  Because my world is a better place when there's chocolate in it.

What's even cooler is that this recipe calls for only coconut flour.  Normally I bake with almond flour and limit my coconut flour use because it tends to make things turn out sort of bitter...  Not this time!  I was so impressed by how delicious these were!!  I may have been converted...

I got the original recipe from Primally Inspired, and of course made my modifications.  So this is my modified recipe, inspired by the one I just linked you to :).

I feel like these didn't turn out very pretty... Well, the glaze did, but not the cake itself.  Don't be fooled, they taste AMAZING!!

Paleo Chocolate Carrot Cake Muffins


6 cups shredded carrots
16 pitted dates, finely chopped
8 eggs (that's one thing I really dislike about coconut flour - it needs LOTS of eggs)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place chopped dates, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla in a mixing bowl (or in a food processor - I chopped the dates in my food processor and added the rest of the ingredients to it).  Mix or blend until well incorporated. 
  3. Add the coconut flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder and mix until combined.
  4. Fold in the shredded carrots.
  5. Spoon or pour batter into cupcake lined muffin pan and bak for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool and either eat plain or frost with icing (recipe follows)

The glaze I put on it was a maple-pecan glaze recipe I found from Detonxinista, which of course I modified a bit to suit my needs (and added chocolate to it... I may have a bit of a chocolate addiction...).

It's finger-lickin' good

Chocolate Maple-Pecan Icing 

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp tapioca or arrowroot starch

3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

  1. Microwave the chocolate chips and coconut oil for 30 seconds and stir until combined and smooth.
  2. Mix in the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.  Stir in the starch to thicken and stabilize.
  3. Finely chop the pecans, or add to the mix whole and blend in a blender until smooth. (I did not blend, so my icing was a bit chunkier)
  4. Spoon on top of muffins and refrigerate to set up.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Raw Honesty, and Alternative Devil's Food Cake

Well, I'm home today with a not sick kid, who happens to be napping right now, so I figured I'd take this moment to catch up on my blog a bit.  For those of you who check in and read this regularly, I'm sorry I've been MIA.  But, I do want to say thank you for checking in and reading what I post, and for the feedback you give me whether in emails or in person.  It makes me feel like I'm not so alone with my line of thinking.  Lately I've been feeling super lonely, so any of you like-minded friends out there, I could use a little extra love.  Justin sayin...

And that's why I've been MIA.  I've just felt sorta discouraged, like what's the point of posting this stuff?  My home remedies and whatnot, that is.  I know more and more people are checking out my recipes, which is super cool, and my first day of Alternative Market went over with flying colors, so that's awesome too.  But when it comes to eating healthy on a regular basis, or healing illnesses or ailments with natural remedies, or avoiding problems by watching our diet, it seems like I'm totally alone on that one.

RSV has been traveling around my boys' daycare, and we were afraid Elliot might have it as he's had the symptoms, which are mostly just common cold symptoms.  And basically that's what RSV is, the common cold, but it can be dangerous for babies and little kids if it gets out of control, and it can get out of control pretty quickly, which it did for my niece (who was playing quite a bit with Elliot the day she got it).  But it's super common, a lot of times it just goes undiagnosed because symptoms remain mild like that of a regular cold and there's no reason to go to the doctor about it.  I'm sure we've had it a ton of times.  Anyway.  It's super contagious, so I'm just keeping Elliot home away from the babies at the daycare, and preventing further spread to our family because I'm going away with my husband this weekend for my birthday and I would love to go guilt-free and not leave a sick kid with my parents!

I'm not sure if he's RSV positive or not, though.  We had him tested at our doctor's office (which is a horrible nasal swab!), but they don't keep rapid results tests there, which I didn't realize until after we did the swab.  Sorry Elliot.  We won't get results for a couple days, so what was the point of having it done, right?  They don't keep those tests there, though, because they'd expire before they got used, because that's not something they routinely check.  Because they treat people primarily homeopathically.  I'm among a certain group of people that don't go in looking for an ailment like RSV.  We think differently.  We take action differently.

And this whole thing has been yet another moment thrown in my face with flashing lights that I am very alone.  Because all the other daycare parents are getting their results for their kids within minutes and I have to wait a few days.  I was sent home with a homeopathic remedy to treat Elliot's cough, which should assist in preventing RSV symptoms from escalating if that is, in fact, what he has, and his cough diminished as the day went on and I used the remedy.  That's how it is every time I go there - we have an ailment, we get a remedy, it works.  On we go with our lives, no side effects, no complications to our organs because of foreign chemical substances in drugs, no damages to our gut flora (and in turn our immune systems) because of harmful antibiotics.  These doctors know what drugs can do to our insides, and they respect that they should be saved for worst-case scenarios.  They know that our around 80% of our immune system resides in our intestines, so antibiotics are also saved as a last resort, and probiotics are strongly encouraged.  They recognize the importance of diet to a healthy immune system and overall well-being, and recommend diet changes to assist in achieving optimum health.  They see the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, which have been used for centuries, and they work.  It's amazing how they work.  And for those of you who don't know the difference between homeopathic and holistic/natural, there's a big difference, please look it up.  I'm not talking about crushing a plant with a mortar and pestle and making a tea.  That's not homeopathic.  This is homeopathic.  Make sure you know what I'm talking about.

So anyway.  I see this stuff work time and time again, so effectively and harmlessly, that I can't help but wonder, why is this not mainstream?  Why is this not conventional medicine?  Why oh why am I a minority?  Why would everyone willingly choose chemical drugs with potential side effects and put their organs at risk when there is a better way right here under their noses?  And I get so confused, wondering why I'm alone...

I've gotten to the point where I don't really talk much about my natural lifestyle in the open.  Still, a lot of people email me on a very regular basis wanting advice.  But it's getting frustrating because I don't know exactly what you're looking for.  I give what advice I can, what I would do in your situation, and I'm beginning to realize that what I'm suggesting - the things that are very normal to me - are totally "out there" for you.  And food is another thing - I'll find myself amongst people talking about the Fruit Loops they gave their kids for breakfast, and I'm trying to keep my jaw off the floor.  And I have to step back and say, No Jami, most people aren't aware that starting your day with processed sugar and food dye is a very bad idea.

And it makes me sad.  And I stop and have a moment of gratitude that I have the awareness that I have, and the open mind to continue to learn more and try new things that are safe, that I have the knowledge to treat the problems rather than the symptoms if we come down with any sort of ailment.  And I wish I weren't so alone.

Am I really that alone, you guys?  Or are all you natural lifestyle enthusiasts just keeping quiet in your own little world just like I've begun doing lately, and that's why I don't know about you?  I'm tired of being the crazy one for doing what I feel is safer and healthier for myself and my family.  I'm tired of being surrounded by people who just give into the fear tactics used by the medical field.  I'm tired of being surrounded by people who blindly trust their physician.  I'm not saying doctors or physicians are bad people, I know it totally sounds like that's what I'm saying, I know they're not, and I want to believe that a lot of them truly do care about your well being more than they care about their wallet, they just don't know how to treat holistically and weren't trained to do so.  They treat your symptoms because that's how they were trained.  Because that's the kind of world we live in.  You're willing to take drug after drug after drug to treat your symptoms and completely ignore the problem that your symptoms are trying to warn you about, and then you're willing to take on the side effects of those drugs that may have long term damages you'll have to deal with late into life.

I'm sorry, guys.  This is a depressing post.  I just wanted to share some honesty though.  And vent some frustration.  Because being alone in your lifestyle choices is very frustrating.  Like I said, I need a little love.  So if you don't mind, leave a comment or shoot me an email letting me know you care about my posts on here, you care that I share my first-hand experience with you, that you've learned something through all this.  I've got so much to share - more remedies for the common cold, how to heal pink eye, basic solutions for boosting the immune system safely, etc.  I know some people care, I've talked to you at my office and sent you on your way with information.  But sharing it here... I don't know.  I'm losing ambition to make my knowledge available to the public.  So please let me know if this blog makes a difference to you.  I'd really appreciate it.

In the meantime, the best way to combat the blues is chocolate, right??  I think so!  I whipped up this chocolate cake based on my cinnamon scone recipe, and made the icing from scratch, and it turned out amazing.  Harlee took a bite of it and moaned happily, it was so good.  Seriously, forget that these are "healthy".  Alternative, yes, as they're grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free, but they taste too good to be "healthy".  They're sinful.  I'm totally calling it a Devil's food cake.

Alternative Devil's Food Cake

1 ½ cups cashews (or 1 1/3 cups ground)
¼ cup arrowroot powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp organic maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9” metal cake pan with parchment paper.  Blend the cashews in a food processor until ground into a flour.  Add the remainder of the ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth.  You should have a thick, sticky batter.  Pour into the parchment-lined cake pan and spread out toward the edges.
Bake for 30 minutes, then top with prepared icing.  Let cool, cut into wedges, and enjoy!

Chocolate Icing

1/2 cup coconut butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
 Coconut butter works way better than coconut oil.  Oil would work just fine too, but you'd have to keep it cool as it can melt. 

Add all ingredients to a bowl and beat with a stand or hand mixer until thoroughly combined.  I found it easier to spread over a warm cake, as it melts and doesn't make the cake crumby.  Once cooled, it sets up well.

Everything in moderation, guys... Don't eat the whole cake...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Love Yourself!

So we finally got the boys to bed, Justin crashed since he has to get up earlier than me and I went on to finish cleaning the kitchen and switch out the laundry.  I went out to the garage to turn the light off and caught a snippet of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" on the radio (which plays all the time out there... I keep forgetting to ask Justin why he likes to leave it on) and then it got stuck in my head.  So as I was folding laundry I sang it to myself.  And reflected on how there's been this big body-loving movement going on encouraging everyone to love yourself no matter what size you are. Which is pretty awesome.

I'm on Instagram a lot - I use it as my online health journal.  Yep, I'm the person that posts swelfies after a workout or pictures of my super healthy meals.  If you don't like it, don't follow it (the glory of Instagram).  That being said, I follow a lot of like-minded people using IG as their online health journal as well.  I read the stories of people going from severely overweight to fit, and I read their stories about their journey, and find them so inspirational, then I go on to read some of the comments from other followers who say things like, "Your story makes it sound like fat people are bad."  Or, "What you said sounds a lot like fat shaming."

I've posted before and after pictures along my way too, and I always think, gee, I hope nobody thinks that of me.

I've worked my butt off to get to where I am (literally!).  Does that mean I think heavier people (is that the "politically correct" term?) are bad?  No.  I got to thinking about this whole concept as I was folding laundry...

What it all boils down to is self love.  Why did I want to lose weight?  Because I wasn't happy where I was before.  I lacked confidence, I felt sluggish, I felt fatigued, I felt weak, and I was depressed.  Diet and exercise changed all that for me, and while I lost weight, the most important thing is that I found happiness.

A lot of people have complained about themselves and their size or shape around me.  It sounds like a lack of confidence, but there's definitely a lack of self love. (I always liked the quote, "Would you talk about your best friend the way you talk about yourself?"  Think about that...)

So here's the thing.  There's nothing wrong with being fat, or skinny, or anywhere in between or beyond.  There's only something wrong with it if you're not happy in your skin.  And if you're willing to do something to change how you feel about yourself, no matter what amount of effort and hard work it takes, then do it.  If you're not willing to put forth the effort to change, then find a way to love yourself for who you are and what you are.

Better yet, do that anyway, even if you do have full intentions of embarking on a health or fitness journey.  It makes the journey much more successful, trust me.

Let's all practice self love this year!  And reap the benefits!  Quit comparing, quit shaming, and quit putting yourself down.  You are you - own it and rock it.

That's all!  Sorry I haven't posted in awhile, by the way.  I've been too busy juggling my business, preparing for adventures in 2016, organizing things from 2015, doing the family thing, recovering from the holidays, making it a priority to work out regularly, obsessing over trying to break my sugar addiction (which was my Christmas present to myself, hooray.) and trying to eat healthier.  I'm getting back there.  Maybe I'll blog about that next...

Anyway, I felt like sharing my musings from a late-night laundry folding session, short and sweet though it may be.  Hope everyone's 2016 is off to a great start!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Power of Gratitude

Well, here I am again, it's been over a MONTH since I've blogged.  A MONTH.  That is unacceptable.  Okay fine I guess it has to be acceptable, because it happened.  But here I am, so let's do this.

I had a whole idea about Halloween to blog about (we had the best Halloween yet, by the way, it was SO much fun!) and never got to it.  Then I had this post that I wanted to write before Thanksgiving and never did.  But what can I say?  I'm living life.  Running a business, being part of a family - those two things in themselves are time consuming.  But it's a good thing to have that problem!  Life is definitely good right now.

Which brings me to this topic.  Gratitude.  I wanted to write about it before Thanksgiving, but really it reigns true throughout the year, throughout all of life, so anytime is a good time to talk about this.  But since I like to be all theme-y, I guess technically it's still within a week of Thanksgiving so I'm good, right? :)

This is SO TRUE.  This quote says it all.

Story time!

Granny would always  make comments about how I live a "charmed life".  She would ALWAYS say that.  And she's right, things have always sort of worked out for me.

My dad kind of set that foundation for me.  He got me started in life with the awareness that a positive attitude attracts positive things into life.  And I found it to be true.  But don't just think positive thoughts - BELIEVE them. And a step further from there, live as though you've already received what you're asking for.

And be thankful for it.  Be grateful.  Stop and honor what you've been given in your life, and more good will come.  More things will happen to you thank you can be grateful for.

And not just all the good things.  It's one thing to say "I'm grateful for my spouse.  I'm grateful for my kids.  I'm grateful for the roof over my head, the clothes on my back and the food on my table."  Finding silver linings in bad things and finding ways to be grateful for those can make a HUGE impact on your overall life and well-being.  I ALWAYS reflect on my gratitude for my learning experiences.  Yes, I agree with Granny that I've lived a charmed life, but it hasn't been perfect by any means.  But for that, I am grateful.  Here's why.

This post ties in with my post about The Other Side of Hardship, Depression, Pain, and Trauma.  But I'm going to dig a little deeper - perhaps you'll be able to relate to some of these experiences, or they'll help you to reflect on your own and find your own gratitude.

My first love (yes, we were only in like 8th grade but teenagers know what love is.  Granted, it's not the same when you're in your 20's, or 30's, or 70's, but it's love.  Just throwing that out there.) broke it to me that he was gay and it crushed my poor little teenage heart.  It was a huge struggle for both of us - him with his confusion and realizing he may have to face a lifetime of persecution just to be happy, and me having to come to terms that we can't be together, and I have to be open-minded and accepting of his lifestyle, which was completely foreign to me.

I learned to love and accept people.  If it weren't for him I wouldn't be as open and accepting and understanding as I am today.  Everyone has a journey.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has battles.  I accept everyone for them, no matter who they are or what they're battling, or if it even makes any sense to me.  For that I am grateful.

I've been stabbed in the back, and nearly lost a job over it.  I had to learn not to harbor anger and resentment.  Life ended up working out for the better for me, as life usually does when struggles arise.  For that I am grateful.  It taught me to be cautious with my trust. Sometimes maybe a little too cautious... And I also had to learn forgiveness.  That's a hard lesson to learn.  But for that, I am grateful.

I've been in an emotionally abusive relationship, without even realizing it.  I was trapped for nearly two years, unable to see what it was doing to me.  I finally got out of it, and realized the importance of protecting my emotions and listening to my heart.  I had a bad feeling about it the whole time, I just never tuned in and listened and instead made excuses.  I know better.  I tune into my gut instincts, and I've developed my ability to understand what my heart is telling me.  For that I am grateful.

I've been the victim of huge misunderstandings founded in jealousy, close-mindedness, and lack of empathy or flexibility or willingness to change or stretch.  Another lesson in forgiveness, and a reminder that everyone has inner demons and personal weaknesses.  I can choose to either get sucked in with them, or let them travel their own journey.  I have the choice.  For that I am grateful.

I've fallen in love with someone still battling inner demons.  I was about to leave when a good friend gave me some sage advice that has stuck with me to this day, and I will share it with you:

"When you pray, what do you ask for?  What kind of person do you want to be?  What kind of qualities or characteristics do you want God to give you?"

And I thought about it and then said, "Patience, strength, courage..."

To which she said,

"Isn't that what you're getting from this experience by being with him? Isn't that the kind of lessons he's brought into your life?"

God (or Universe, or Spirit, or Source, whatever you want to call it) can't just GIVE you the qualities you want in yourself.  You have to earn them and develop them.  That's what you're here for!

I went back with patience in my heart and a new readiness to forgive and give it one more chance.  We both were willing to put in the work, which we did, and we made it through, stronger and more connected than ever before, and we're married today!  For those hardships, for his personal battles and how they affected us, I am grateful.  And he's amazing - through all of that, he grew in his own strengths - patience, forgiveness, understanding, and perseverance.  For that, I am very grateful.

I poured my heart and soul into my desire for a home birth with Harlee, who resulted in a hospital transfer and c-section, followed by the darkest days I've ever experienced in my life.  It left me questioning if my "charmed life" was all just a sick joke played by the Universe.  That there's no such thing as "think positive and positive things will happen."  Even though my entire life has proven otherwise.  I lost all faith and trust in everything I once believed in.  That is a very scary place to be.

But I made new friends through my search for support.  I strengthened friendships with people I didn't realize had gone through similar experiences.  I was led to discover fitness, and then healthy eating habits.  My life changed physically and I regained confidence and most of my happiness.  I then "stumbled" (divine intervention at it's finest, I like to believe) upon a therapist who led me even further into my journey of self-discovery.  I grew stronger.  I developed awareness, stronger consciousness, and I was more "tuned in" to myself and the world around me.

Which, interestingly enough, is everything I wanted before.  I used to want more awareness, higher consciousness, and connectedness.

The sage advice my friend gave me came around again.

I earned those characteristics and strengths.

And so, for the trauma of Harlee's birth and the darkness that followed, I am SO grateful.  Eternally grateful.  I could cry just thinking about how grateful I am.  I never EVER thought I'd be saying that when I was in the midst of the darkness.  But it's restored my faith in life and the Universe, that EVERYTHING happens for a reason.  And the worst of things that happen, if you handle them properly, can turn into the best learning experiences you'll ever get in this life.  And the person you can become when you rise from the ashes is more amazing than you ever dreamed you could be.

For my friend's advice that stuck with me, I am grateful.

For the people that came into my life "by chance" when I needed them most, I am grateful.

For my restored faith in the Universe, and my trust that good things happen when you think positive, I am grateful.  But also for the realization that you do get what you ask for, but sometimes you have to put in the work too which can turn out to be pretty difficult, I am definitely grateful.

Gratitude.  It's huge.  It's what makes the who positive attitude "Law of Attraction" thing work.

Now, every day I express gratitude.  Especially for the little obstacles that later unveil their reason for happening (which is always SO cool).  Like the other morning, I was about to head out the door when Harlee said something that reminded me I forgot something inside.  I felt gratitude for Harlee's comment. I went inside to get it and realized I left the fireplace on.  "Yikes, that could have been bad!" I thought.  I took a moment to feel gratitude for the fact that I forgot something that required me to come back inside and see that I needed to turn the fireplace off.  Call it a guardian angel, call it God's protection, call it coincidence, but I call it the law of attraction in action.  The more gratitude I express, the more things come into my life to be grateful for.

Try it!  What are you grateful for?  Of course you're grateful for your family and friends, your job and your home and your well-being.  But stop and think about where you've been in this life.  Everything that happened to you that brought you to where you are today.  Who are you because of it all?  How was your life made better because of the things that once made it worse?  Life is filled with learning experiences and opportunities to make the rest of your life absolutely incredible.  Seize them with gratitude and enjoy the ride!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Breastfeeding: A Love-Hate Relationship

While I'm on the subject of TMI (did you read my last post about yeast infections? lovely...) and now that my breastfeeding days have drawn to a close, I've decided to talk about it.  I want to share my honesty, as well as personal advice for other BF mamas.  If you're a hardcore breastfeeding advocate, you may not like this post a whole lot, but I encourage you to read it regardless.

I want to talk both about the emotional aspects and the physical aspects of breastfeeding.  I'll start with physical.  I don't know enough about it to give much in-depth advice, believe it or not, but I'll cover what I do know here, so if I miss something you'd like more information about then get in touch with a lactation counselor, or check out La Leche League either online or find your local group, or has good info too.

Breastfeeding has, thankfully, been easy for me.  Which is why I haven't done a whole lot of research on it - it's just something that came naturally.  I can imagine how devastating it must be for moms who can't or who struggle - it seems as though their emotions somewhat match the emotions I had after my c-section with Harlee and I was left feeling broken and defective.  You feel like you failed yourself and you failed your child and everyone looks at you as a failure.  I honestly don't believe ALL women can do it.  Difficulty is something women faced throughout history.  Ever heard of a wet nurse?  She's a breastfeeding mom who nurses the child of a mom who couldn't do it.  I don't know what the reasons are for not being able to, but if you're one of those women, it's okay.  You're not defective.  Of the women who were unsuccessful, however, I do believe a lot of them could have done it with a proper support team and the proper information provided to them.  Which is another reason to get in touch with a lactation counselor or La Leche League.  If you're relying on a breastfeeding class provided by your hospital, you're probably not going to get a whole lot, sorry.

Like I said, I've had a pretty smooth breastfeeding experience.  With Harlee I didn't have much of a clientele built up at work so I was able to leave him for short periods of time with my mom or grandma and come back to feed him without needing to pump in between.  I'd still pump just to make sure I was producing extra in the event I did need to leave him longer, but otherwise this set-up worked well.

Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand kind of thing.  If there isn't a demand, your body will supply less and less.  If there's more of a demand, your body will do what it can to keep up, provided you're well hydrated, healthy, and other factors like stress or illness or medication don't hinder you.  Nursing the baby directly produces more than just strictly pumping, too.

When both my boys were born, I felt like I was producing enough to keep up with quadruplets.  It was crazy.  Within a month or so it regulated, though, and I wasn't feeling constantly engorged nor was I drowning them every time they ate.

With Elliot I was at work a lot more than I was with Harlee, so I pumped more regularly.  It's definitely been a different experience.  I had to make sure I scheduled time between every two-three clients to sit and pump so I could keep my supply up.

I noticed when I started working out a lot more intensely that my supply seemed to start waning, and I was getting a bit nervous about it.  Then one day at personal training I got a charley horse in my leg and I suddenly remembered I had been forgetting to take my salt sole in the morning!  I started taking it again and that day and all the days following my milk supply increased more and more too - I'm definitely thinking there's a connection!  Yet another amazing benefit of balanced trace minerals in the body...

More Ways to Increase Supply

Salt Sole, which I mentioned above.

Fennel essential oil, which I used with success.  I diluted it with coconut oil and rubbed it on topically.

Mother's Milk tea is also a good option, but I'm not an avid tea drinker enough to be able to say whether I think that works for me or not.  It's worked for other moms though.

Fenugreek supplements are another good option, which is the primary component of the mother's milk tea.  I can't speak from personal experience, but I do know a few moms who took this with success.

How To Decrease Supply 

Peppermint essential oil.  It works like a charm.  I'll share the story about my final days of breastfeeding Elliot below, but basically the last couple days I was feeling slightly engorged as my body was still trying to keep up with night feedings, which weren't happening anymore.  I diluted some peppermint oil with coconut oil and rubbed it on where it was the sorest, and within minutes I was feeling relief.  That stuff will dry you up, so if you don't want that, then avoid it.

The Good...

Breastfeeding has some incredible health benefits for you and your child, and gives them such a great start to life.  There's no way I, personally, would have chosen not to do it.  You're passing along your antibodies to support your baby's developing immune system, as well as providing them with complete nutrition and beneficial fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to help them grow and develop.  There are a lot of good formulas on the market, but nothing holds a candle to the power of real breastmilk.

If you do need a good formula, I recommend Nature's One Baby's Only Organic Formula. A friend of mine told me about it, which she used for her baby, and I looked into it myself.  They promote it as a toddler formula because they encourage breastfeeding for the first year, but according to the company it can be used for infants and babies.  I really think this is one of the best products out there.  Please don't just feed your baby anything if you find you can't breastfeed.  That first year of their life is SO important as they develop, so nourishing them properly is HUGE.  Food is medicine, people.  I will say that over and over and over.  Feed your new developing baby the best, and give them the best start in life that you can.  They're fully dependent on you for that.

The Bad...

Now let's talk about the emotional aspect.  Sometimes (or most times) I can totally see why people choose not too.

'Cause at the same time as it's wonderful, it also kinda sucks.

This is just my personal opinion about it.  Not everyone thinks it sucks.  A lot of people absolutely LOVE it.  And I did have a lot of moments when I held my sweet little guy, feeding him with the nourishment that I produced, that MY body made for him, and was mystified by that bond and how incredible this experience actually is.  It's pretty amazing when you think about it. But that was only hit or miss in the comfort of my home.

There's still mixed feelings out there on the subject of nursing in public, and I like to respect the fact that it does make some people uncomfortable, so I'd either try to do it in private or I'd cover up (unless we're friends or relatives, in which case get over it :-)).  So that meant when my baby was hungry, I was either sitting all alone with him in an out-of-sight area feeling completely secluded and anti-social, or I'd be covered up and he's hot and uncomfortable and can't eat steadily and ends up causing me discomfort and then he's crabby and then I'm crabby and it just goes downhill from there.  Can't really win.

Then there's my husband, who meant well, but seemed to think that any time Harlee or Elliot was cranky or fussy that I should "give him some boob" (yeah that's the kind of crude language we use, don't judge! :-)).  Which means I'm expected to stop what I'm doing to see if that's what he really does want, and then I'm enslaved to the couch or wherever I happen to land with him.  And I feed on demand, I feel that's best when they're that little, I don't really believe you can "schedule" a baby with something like this.  But that makes things unpredictable.  Sometimes he eats all the time.  Sometimes not.  Do I have time to start laundry or dishes without getting interrupted? Can I have my friends over to work out without having to stop to take a nurse break? Can we go out to eat as a family and I can actually sit and enjoy a meal from beginning to end without at some point having a baby attached to me?

"Oh but it's such a beautiful bonding experience," they say.  "They're so precious, and what a miracle to be able to feed your baby with your own body, what amazing creatures we are!" they say.

Yeah yeah, I just said that a few paragraphs ago.  And yes, I would usually agree with that.  Like going to bed at night and all is quiet and he really is just so precious and we are bonding.  Or when I don't have things to do that I don't want interrupted. Or we're not out in public and I'm not distracted with the thought of "am I offending anyone?"

Once Harlee was on solids, I went down to only nursing him at home - at naptime, right before bed, if he'd wake up in the middle of the night, and first thing in the morning.  It was great, but there were moments when it was more of a nuisance.  And sure, I hear all the statistics of how we're supposed to nurse our babies until at least two, but I'm sorry, there ain't no way :-|.

I know I may risk getting judged for saying that, and I understand because I honestly used to judge people who wouldn't even TRY breastfeeding - I mean I know it's hard but it's sooooo good for your child.  But then a friend of mine voluntarily quit breastfeeding her daughter between 3-5 months (I can't quite remember the actual age).  She was stressed out with pumping at work, trying to balance it with her schedule, and maxed out.  It changed my outlook.  She shouldn't be expected to just suck it up because she's doing what's best for her child - no, in fact, finding ways to reduce stress in her life was what was best for her child, and if it meant breastfeeding had to go, then maybe it was better for her daughter to be on formula than stressed-out breastmilk.  I felt she was doing the right thing.  And I looked at the situation with a more open mind from there on out.

I'd still find myself placing a little judgement on people who didn't even try though.  Until I talked to a few more people and learned that they were just looking ahead realistically - it just wouldn't fit in their work schedule and made more sense if they just didn't even start, rather than risk stressing themselves out over it by trying to make it work.  I believe it's important for babies to have moms with as little stress as they can manage, and being a mom is so stressful it's ridiculous anyway (in my opinion), so I support moms when they recognize stress factors and do what they can to eliminate them.

And now, since being more of a working mom with Elliot than I was with Harlee, I totally saw breastfeeding as being a stressor more so than a joy.

Why didn't I stay at home more, since I have the liberty of making my own schedule?  Because I love my job and wanted to be there.  Being at home too much makes me crazy, which takes us back to the topic of stressed-out moms.  I took two months off after having Elliot.  I was definitely feeling a bit crazed by the end of it.  I wanted to be back in my own familiar environment, doing what I love, and feeling more connected to ME, which happens to be at work.  Some women are cut out to stay at home with their kids, and have the patience for it.  I am not one of those women.

Breastfeeding made me feel confined.  It made me feel stifled.  I don't do well in those kinds of situations.  

Drawing to a Close

I'm proud that I did it.  And I'm grateful that I could do it.  But I was also glad to be done, both times.  Harlee officially stopped nursing at 18 months, and I was glad to be done.  He conveniently started sleeping straight through the night at that point too... interestingly enough...  Elliot actually seemed to prefer solid food over breastmilk, and around 10 months old he started refusing bottles or cups of it when he was with babysitters.  I nursed him inconsistently until he was a year old, then went down to just naptime, bedtime, middle of the night, and upon waking in the morning.  Soon naptime phased out, then a couple of times when I was out late for whatever reason and Justin put him to bed, the bedtime feeding phased out.  He's now 15 months old and I'm no longer nursing him at all, and he's actually sleeping through the night now in his own bed.

The first two nights in a row of this, I started getting slightly engorged, as my body was still used to producing enough to feed him every night.  I was almost tempted to nurse him one last time, as the realization set in that this is it.  I'm done.  I'll never nurse a baby again.  I'll never cradle him in my arms and feed him the nourishment that I made myself, to help him grow, or to comfort him if he's upset.  He's a big boy now.

This was a slightly bittersweet feeling...  As I guess all ends of chapters are.  But definitely more sweet than bitter.  I didn't nurse him one last time.  I like that the relationship ended without me knowing it.  I rubbed the peppermint oil on, and moved forward.

Enjoying his "special" chocolate milk
I do have a lot of expressed milk stored up, which I give him occasionally mixed with almond milk and sometimes a little Barlean's Greens Chocolate Silk (he really doesn't like it plain, trust me, he gets really mad and makes horrible faces), so he's still getting something, but I'm free of the "shackles" that I felt breastfeeding was more often than not.   My stress levels are lower, I feel more like myself, more "normal", which makes me a happier person, and that, in my opinion, is what's most important for my kids.  I have no problem with breastfeeding for as long as you want.  I do have a problem with moms judging other moms about it.  And I do encourage moms to do what makes them the happiest, because that, ultimately, is what's best for their children.  This is how I personally feel about it, and I just wanted to be honest with you, and let you know it's okay to feel however it is you feel about it.  Do what you need to do to make you happy, and your kids will benefit from that.  And that's what makes you a great mom.