Out With the Old…

I have been MIA for the last few months because I’ve been doing a lot of intense self work. It has been quite a roller coaster and rather than blog it all out, I chose the retreat and regroup approach. I’m still in the midst of it all, but I’m finally feeling like I’m standing on more steady emotional ground and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Except of course that it was a full moon yesterday, and that means the girls and I are more. Everything is just more and has been for a few days now. More tired, more whiny, more squabbling… just MORE. It doesn’t help that we’ve had two blizzards that kept us in the house all day for three whole days. BUT the bright side of that is we have tons of snow to dig caves and tunnels in, which has been a blast! I have even enjoyed being out in the cold, which would definitely get a good chuckle out of those who know me 😉

On top of all the self work and doing the stay-at-home mom thing, I’ve started my second year of herbalist school as well as Tammi Sweet’s online Anatomy and Physiology course, both of which I’m exceedingly happy about. And while they’ve added more to my daily load, they have each helped me so much that it is more than worth it. A healthier body has been vital during this time.

But back to the self work. It’s tough! Like really tough some days. It turns out trying to rid yourself of old, stuck down deep emotions, thought patterns, and habits is not easy. Who would have thought, right?! It’s tough to have to learn to speak kindly to yourself, treat yourself with kindness, forgive yourself… and others. It’s tough to let go of anger, bitterness, and resentment you’ve carried around for so long, especially when you thought you had already dealt with all of these issues ages ago. It’s tough to realize that the clutter you’ve allowed to build up around your house is a direct reflection of the clutter and chaos going on inside of you. And… and and and… it’s really damn tough to not really know how exactly you’re going to change these things, but knowing deep down it’s the only choice you have, if you want balance and happiness in your life.

Which I do. I really really do. I’m tired of trying to control everything because I’m afraid it won’t turn out the way I’d like it to. Sometimes not getting what I want is the best thing for me and my family. I’m tired of the mood swings, the general feelings of irritation and discontent that mar even my happiest moments, because there is something I should be doing, I just don’t know what. I’m annoyed that I don’t know what it is because I should know dammit.

And more than being tired with all of those things, I am really scared of this feeling of apathy that was starting to creep in. Not knowing what to do, not being sure of my next step, feeling like I’m not hearing my guides and angels right, not trusting my gut has caused me to kind of curl up in on myself, which was starting to look and feel like apathy. I am anything but apathetic. I’m passionate about so many things. I want to do all the things and be all the things. My biggest issue is this knowing that I have a big purpose in this life and this overwhelming sense of urgency I feel to get on with it.

That sort of mentality has been hard to overcome. In fact, I still haven’t overcome it. Mindfulness and being in the present moment is something I struggle with every single day. I have always lived and planned for the future. When I’m older, I’ll be this… When I’m this, I’ll do that… And if I’m not busily planning out the future, I’m reminiscing about days gone by or trying to work through all the different emotions attached to those memories. There have been very few times in my life, other than when I was a very small child, that I have actually fully embraced the moment I am in. This and patience are my two biggest challenges in life.

And that leads us to an overall lesson on trust. I need to trust Spirit and myself and the ebb and flow life. I need to not just say that it will all be ok and truly start believing that on every level because it always has been ok, and it always will be ok. In fact, it will be more than ok. It will be good, really good, and not because I force it, but because I trust that it will be, and the Universe will always meet me where I’m at with my thoughts and feelings. Just like it always does for all of us, which brings me back to changing those old thought patterns…

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With Fear Comes Self Reflection

“Fear is simply a distraction from your life purpose, a distraction from happiness.” ~Doreen Virtue

I know I have been allowing fear to hold me back, especially lately, and I have been feeling pretty down and unmotivated because of it. I have questioned more than once if I’m on the right path, if I’m doing what it is I came into this life to accomplish. What I have learned after much reflection and prayer is that I am in fact on the right path. I am doing the work I was sent here to do. What I am realizing and being shown is that my journey will have a long and winding path, often one that will cross back onto itself, and that I am closer to the beginning than I am to the end. In other words, I need to have patience and give myself forgiveness for not being where I see myself being ultimately because I have many many years to get there. I need to embrace the now and the lessons I am learning, the progress I am making, and I need to honor that. I need to honor myself. Often I find I live so much in the future the present moment is overlooked. I am seeing just how much living in the now is vital to happiness and abundance. Yes, I can dream and plan for the future, that helps manifest it, but I don’t need to obsess over it and worry it out of existence.

So I ask are you allowing your fears to hold you back, from letting your light shine? Are you allowing your worries of what others may think to keep you from pursuing something that speaks to you?

I am choosing to say “bye bye buzzing fly!” to that pesky ego-based fear. I am choosing to stand in my light, speak my truth, and live my life the way it was meant to be lived. It is taking a lot of courage and a lot of patience on my part, but I believe the happiness and fulfillment I will experience by letting go of the fear will far outweigh all of that.

How about you? Will you continue to let fear rule your life or will you step out into the light and walk free and happy? Or have you already claimed that freedom and happiness for yourself? Sharing this with you all has been a part of my healing process. Perhaps sharing your own journey and experiences will be a part of yours. I’d love to hear from you!

Many blessings for love and light!

Memorial Day

Despite the overcast skies and the predicted rain later in the morning, we decided to venture out this Memorial Day. Our first stop was a local beach. My husband loves the beach before, during, and after a storm, so he was one happy guy standing there watching the waves crash one after the other as the wind whipped us all about and the girls played._IGP6072
While I stood there absorbed in the moment, wearing my dad’s Marine hoodie, I took some time to reflect and thank Spirit for this time that I get with my family when so many service families no longer have that luxury. My father is a retired Marine with 23 years of service, so I’m pretty familiar with military life. Thankfully, my dad never had to fight in any wars, but I know a few friends who have or whose husbands who have, and it is tough._IGP6052
These men and women serve our country because they feel a calling to protect our country, our freedoms, and our lives. Each and every one of them are amazing for the sacrifice they make each day of their service. Some give the ultimate sacrifice and for that gratitude doesn’t come close to covering it.
As I stood there on that beach, seeing the joy on my girls faces, my heart ached for their families and friends left behind. War is a shitty business, one I wish we no longer felt we needed to engage in, but my feelings on that in no way detract from the appreciation I feel for the men and women in arms who make my life a reality._IGP6059
To all the service men and women out there, from the bottom of my heart thank you and may God continue to bless your every day.

Pretty Little Ball of Sunshine

Holy shit guys! I have an herbal pharmacy in my front yard, and I bet you do too! Well, I’ll call it a yard, even though it’s mostly a gravel driveway with random patches of grass and plant growth, but that doesn’t detract from the awesomeness that is going on out there! Amazing medicines growing right outside my door. It’s truly incredible!
I have dandelions a plenty, plantains coming out of my ears, yellow dock, red clover, oh the red clover!, morning glories, common mallow, garlic mustard, celandine. And those are just the ones I’ve either been able to identify myself through previous knowledge and internet searches or have had my teachers help me with. I have at least a handful more yet to be identified.
So why the excitement? What do these plants do that has me in awe that all of them grow right outside my house, and I’m just now realizing it? Good question, and it just so happens that I have the answers thanks to herbalist school!
This week we’ll focus on the ever amazing dandelion. Always seen as an evil invader weed intent on destroying the perfection of your lawn, yet cherished by children since the dawn of time (I’m making a generalization, but I feel pretty confident in it), dandelion is wonderful medicine that should be utilized and revered not sprayed into Roundup oblivion.dead_dandy
The entire plant from flower to roots can be utilized. They’re nutrient rich, containing “substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon,” according to Mountain Rose Herbs. Dandelion leaves are great for cleansing the kidneys, while the roots work wonders for an overtaxed liver through the gentle stimulation of bile production. I prefer mine roasted because it tastes remarkably similar to coffee without all that caffeine, and it is helping me be able to process healthy fats better, so it’s a win win!
In the herbal community dandelions are a well known diuretic, which means they make you pee a lot! I mean, they increase urination 😉 The great thing about them, though, is that unlike some diuretics, they don’t leach away your potassium. They actually replenish it. How cool is that?!
Even the flowers can be used for a million and one things (this might be a slight exaggeration). From jellies and baked goods to lotions and salves is there anything this pretty yellow ball of sunshine can’t be used for? Truly amazing! One of these days I’ll write a blog with a month’s worth of dandelion recipes I’ve been dying to try.cropped-igp5846.jpg
Dandelion leaves and roots are two of the ingredients in my Endocrine Cleanse Oxymel. I started my first batch a couple weeks ago, and I can’t wait to try it. It promises to be really great medicine that will be utilized by many, I hope! I also have some of the flowers I harvested from the yard decocting in a jar of apple cider vinegar, which I plan to use for a nice, bright salad dressing. Good medicine with good food, the perfect combination 🙂endocrine cleanse
Surely this post has you wanting to run right out and harvest all the dandelions in your yard, but hold your horses just a hot minute! There are a few things to keep in mind when harvesting. The first rule of thumb is the Rule of Thirds. If you can see where the herb ends, then you employ this rule, which is to say you leave a third for the animals, a third for the rest of the herb, and then the humans can take a third. Keep in mind, however, that you may not be the only human harvesting in that location. Also, be aware of where you are harvesting. You want to avoid anything near railroads, roadways, or heavily polluted areas. In fact, if you’re not sure about the soil content where you want to harvest, it is probably best not to harvest there. Just remember to always be mindful.
Happy harvesting and happy healing!

To Bean or Not to Bean?

The saying “Old habits die hard” is so accurate, but it falls way short of conveying just how hard that death truly is, especially when it comes to food. Needless to say, I have been struggling lately. I was having a bit of a pity party about all the things I can’t eat and how hard it is and how I’m not sure how to reconcile this new knowledge I’ve gained about different foods with my spiritual beliefs where foods are concerned.
A little back story is in order, I think. Before I started herbalist school and learned all that I have about how certain foods affect the body, I was well on the road to becoming a dairy free ovo/pecto vegetarian, or as I liked to think of it, a vegan who still ate seafood and eggs 🙂 The only time my girls and I ate other types of meat was at dinner because my husband is a diehard carnivore, and it was too costly for us, and I was too unmotivated, to prepare separate meals. Dinner is his meal after all. He loves to cook as much, if not more than I do. I couldn’t take that from him, right?
So how did I come to the 3/4 vegan path? The short answer is through my spiritual journey. I have read many Doreen Virtue books in which she talks about healing herself through her veganism. She says that when you eat meat, you’re taking that animals essence into yourself, so all the pain and suffering most animals go through in their lives is locked away in that meat, and you consume it with each bite. Even if the animal is humanely raised, it was still killed, so we could eat it.
At the time I read this, I was already having some aversions to meat, especially pork. I prayed about it and asked the angels for help releasing all the foods that no longer served my highest good. My aversion to meat increased so quickly that I had to ask them to dial it back a bit because I was having a tough time with the transition. When you’ve eaten meat for 27 years, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to no longer eat it ever, even if I was a ¾ vegan.
Now with school I’m being taught that legumes have lots of toxins in them and very little nutrients and in order to even get to those nutrients, I have to soak and rinse my beans twice a day for a couple days. If I don’t do this, I will be gassy and bloated and will disturb my gut flora, which is already highly disturbed. And even if I do all this, beans aren’t actually as complete a protein as meat, even when consumed with a grain like rice. Well, shit. Now what? Any vegetarian/vegan knows that beans are a HUGE part of the diet. And I find it truly difficult to eat a lot of animal products.
This paleo thing is getting hard. Having to eat meat with every meal is tough. Really tough. Not to mention expensive. And I miss my black beans, pink beans, and chick peas dammit! But can I commit to soaking and rinsing over the course of a couple days just to eat some beany goodness? I sure as hell hope so!
I’m all for cutting out all grains except for rice, which is now limited, and I’ve already proven I’m fine with being dairy free. I’m good with not eating soy, limiting my fruit and nut consumption, although that is hard for a confessed fruit and nut lover, and eating twice as much veggies in a day as I was previously. I’m totally on board with all of those things, but I’m struggling hardcore with this inundation of meat and lack of beans.
Do I stick with this paleo lifestyle until I heal my body, and then slowly add the beans back in? Or do I say “Screw this!” and add the beans back in now, while sticking to everything else? My teachers did say that they could get behind someone who wanted to be an ovo/pecto vegetarian because you’re still getting the necessary animal proteins. So maybe I should stop overcomplicating things and go with that with the addition of my super soaker beans 😉
I am hyper aware now of all the stomach and digestive issues I have, which is part of the reason I was led to herbalism in the first place. I need to get those resolved through a whole foods diet supported by herbs, but that doesn’t mean I have to consume something that is not aligned with my spiritual path just because my mentors do. I am learning to trust in my gut more and more each day, and that is wonderful and about damn time!

On the Outside Looking Slim

On the inside hungry as sin. Ha! But seriously. Where can a girl get a healthy bite to eat around here?
A couple weekends ago my husband told me to go out and have some fun for a couple hours because I’d had a pretty tough couple of days emotionally. I was super tired because our littlest little was sick, and I didn’t really want to go. But since it was such a sweet gesture on his part, and I knew I’d have fun once I was out, I went.
We have a piano bar/Italian restaurant downtown that some friends of the family own, so that’s where I ended up. His parents and sister were there, along with many other familiar faces, good music and some much needed laughs. It was nice to be out with other adults. Damn nice, in fact. Why don’t I do this more often?
The downside, though, to being a grain free dairy free girl in an Italian restaurant world is that you can’t have ANY of the things on the menu. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I could have ordered the house salad minus the feta. It’s a really great salad with craisins and sunflower seeds and this amazing lime dressing, but I wasn’t in a salad kind of a mood. I wanted “real” food. I was willing to have a few breadcrumbs in a meatball only to find out the meatballs are made with cheese inside them. Noooooo!
My only other recourse at that point was a glass of water, which I admittedly needed more of, so that was fine. I did splurge a little and have the remnants of my mother-in-law’s watered down grapefruit martini. I’m not much of a drinker (read almost never) and I’m a lightweight. Like really lightweight, so this was perfect and delicious! It may well be the only martini I’ve ever tried that I can say that about. Apparently I like a little martini with my ice 😉
It’s pretty daunting to think that I may not ever be able to eat out again. At least not in our town that is filled with pizza places and sub shops with not much in the way of healthy options. What we need is a local place to open up that caters to those of us on the fringe of dining society. The paleos, vegetarians, and vegans alike. I LOVE food, and I really enjoy eating out. I need a place where I have many healthful options rather than being relegated to the same tired dish every time I’m brave enough to venture out of my own kitchen. Surely I’m not the only one who feels this way, right??

My Road to Healthy

My quest to a healthier me started for vanity reasons, as is often the case for many people. At just shy of 5 feet 2 inches I refused to walk down the aisle at nearly 190 pounds. The turning point came when I saw a picture of myself on my 22nd birthday. I couldn’t believe that was me. That’s definitely not how I saw myself or how I felt.
And then I came across SparkPeople.com. After setting up my account, I made sure I logged everything that passed through my lips and went to the gym four days a week and walked or hiked with my then fiance one of the weekend days diligently for 6 months.
And you know what? I lost about 50 pounds. I did it, and it felt awesome! I was light years ahead of where I was when I started, and I had learned a ton about healthful eating and exercise habits. I shared them with as many people as I could because I felt liberated by my newly acquired knowledge, and I wanted to share that high.
“I need you to stop losing weight or I won’t be able to fit the dress to you properly.” Hmm… well, that threw me for a loop. My dressmaker was begging me to stop losing weight so she could get the fit I wanted on my wedding dress, but how the heck did I do that? I didn’t know how to eat the way I had been eating and exercising the way I had been and not lose weight. I had just learned how to lose the weight, dammit. Now I have to learn to stop losing it?! The only solution I could think of was to not go to the gym as often and not eat nearly as healthfully. Turns out, that’s not the best solution!
After getting off the wagon so my dress would fit amazingly, I had a hard time getting back on the wagon, and on my honeymoon I lost my mind. I was eating pastries, fried food, and cheesy goodness like it was going out of style.
Have you been to Ireland? If not, go! Preferably before starting your journey because they have some insane cakes and sweets! I’m pretty sure I tried every variety. And the Irish breakfasts? Forget it! It was no surprise to come home to a 10 lb weight gain, but I was still pissed. After all my hard work, how did I let this happen?
And then I got discouraged, thinking “I’ll never be able to eat anything good again!” Turns out my sweet tooth has a loud mouth and is pretty damn whiny, when she feels deprived, which she did. Often.
I was able to get it together and lose 7 of the 10 pounds over the next few months, and I maintained that for a few months until yay! There was a bun in the oven! And then all hell broke loose… again.
There are two feelings I hate more than nearly anything on this planet. Hunger and nausea. Yeah. Pregnant, remember? When I feel either of those things, my solution is to eat. So eat I did. And eat, and eat, and eat. Thankfully, my guilt kept me in check to a certain degree, so I was eating a good amount of healthy foods still, but I was also eating a really good amount of pancakes (chocolate chip to be exact) and spaghetti and pancakes. I love pancakes. All breakfast foods really, but I have a love affair with pancakes.
How I managed to only gain 36 pounds during my first pregnancy was a miracle. One that I’m very thankful for! That still put me very close to my original starting weight before I started on this whole journey 27 months prior. Too close for comfort.
To say I was elated to have 21 of those pounds drop off quickly after birth is an understatement, but it didn’t last. Nope, it didn’t last, when hunger reared its ugly head, which it did often as I was nursing on demand. Nuts and peanut butter crackers were consumed on the regular. Those are healthy, though, right? Yeah, when you’re not eating five or six handfuls of nuts in a sitting or three packages of crackers a day along with all the other things I was eating. Needless to say, the weight loss train gave me the boot. The joy ride was over!
I hovered at 161 for two years until I decided to get serious about weight loss again. I was determined to go into my second pregnancy with a healthy frame of mind, with healthful eating habits firmly established, and exercise happening regularly. And I did. I lost 7 pounds and then got pregnant 🙂
Now, don’t get me wrong. Vanity was still a big part of wanting to lose the weight and change my habits but along the way I also truly wanted to be the healthiest version of myself that I could be. I continued to eat really well, still going to the gym for a while. Hell, I was even running (jogging…slowly, if I’m being honest) on the treadmill at 13 weeks pregnant. I certainly couldn’t do that my first pregnancy, so that was a big deal for me.
I gained just 26 pounds with my second daughter. I was really scared that I would become that ravenous nursing mother again and ruin all my hard work, but I didn’t. I credit this to how well I ate throughout the pregnancy and the mindset I had. I was able to continue my healthful habits, and when coupled with nursing a ton, I lost all the weight I had gained by four months postpartum.
Wow! Really? Is this for real? Even I couldn’t believe it. I continued to lose weight until I got down to 143 pounds. Right where I was when I got pregnant with my first daughter and just 5 measly pounds shy of my wedding weight (also my lowest weight). But it didn’t feel quite right. I felt like something was missing. Why did I have this layer of fluff still? Why was I still having my IBS symptoms? Why didn’t I feel like I was in control? I felt like food, my cravings and hypoglycemia, ruled my every day. Every second of every day. I didn’t want to live like that anymore.
And then discouragement struck again, and I stopped going to the gym regularly. I’d have a few days here and there where I’d eat horribly and berate myself after. So it isn’t any wonder that I yo-yo’d between 144 and 149. No surprise, perhaps, but lots of feelings of failure and shame.
There had to be an easier way, right? There just had to be. Or at least a way that worked better for me because really this lifestyle change in today’s society can be labeled many things, but easy is not one of them. At least not for this girl!
Fast forward to March 2014. I had been praying and praying to find an herbalist school that would work for my stay-at-home-mom schedule. This was another extension of my quest to become a Jill-of-all-trades healer. I had already taken on Reiki and Angel card reading, was working with my mediumship abilities, as well as my medical intuitive skills, so now I wanted to find a way to add herbs into that mix. Basically, I wanted and still want to be the healer lady who everyone in the village comes to for their various physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. The all-in-one healer extraordinaire 😉 It may be a bit lofty of a goal, but I’m determined to work toward it to the best of my ability because helping and teaching others is my passion, my purpose, my drive.
So what does all this have to do with a healthy lifestyle, you ask? Other than everything, um… everything! Ha! But back to herbalist school. Thankfully Spirit pointed me in the right direction, and I started classes at an amazing school called CommonWealth Center for Herbal Medicine in Brookline, MA, and it is here that I found the thing (or combination of things) that has worked better for me. And no, it hasn’t always been easy, but it has been necessary and great for my person body, mind, and soul. What is this amazingness? The simple answer: a grain free, dairy free lifestyle supported by herbs.
I felt like it should be a fairly easy transition considering I had already cut so much from my diet already. Caffeine (other than chocolate. I still struggle with that damn chocolate), most dairy, alcohol, many processed foods, went low sodium, was eating vegetarian or vegan two meals a day, and more recently dabbling with gluten free. But it hasn’t been as easy of a transition as I had assumed, unfortunately.
Once I heard the reasoning behind going grain free dairy free, coupled with my intuition and knowledge of my body and those of my children, I knew it was vital to do it. It was time to take the plunge, stop being wishy washy, and pull off the band aid, so to speak. No more dabbling. No more “Oh, this one time it’ll be ok. I’ll just deal with the gas, bloating, and subsequent diarrhea because how can I say no to pizza?!”
I was tired of feeling guilty when I did eat things that made me sick. I was tired of discovering yet another form of rash on my oldest daughter. I was tired of the IBS. I was tired of being tired, grouchy, in pain, and totally ruled by my food and my hypoglycemia. I wanted my power back, and now I have it. Or rather I’m in the process of snatching it back, and I also have lots of new knowledge (with more to come) that I’m so eager to share with the world because if I can help even one person to feel happy and whole and healthy, I have accomplished my purpose in life.
I will reiterate I am still a work in progress, which is where this blog comes into play. I may have some of the knowledge, but that doesn’t mean it makes implementing it any less difficult. I mean, I’m having to undo decades worth of food programming here. That doesn’t happen overnight no matter how much I’d love it to! BUT it can be done! And it can be fun and tasty and so beneficial on so many levels.
I’ll be sharing recipe successes, as well as flops. I’ll be sharing my discouraging moments, so you don’t feel alone. I’ll be sharing my successes, so you know it’s possible for you too. And I’ll be sharing some herbal remedies I find helpful along the way.

“You cannot bring the same stale self to the world and expect the world to be new for you” just as you cannot do the same things you’ve always done and expect a different result. It’s time for a new you, so you can have that fresh, new, and exciting world. It’s time to take back your power one step at a time! So please, join me and make your transition to a healthier you not only possible, but fun.