Dancing with Life’s Challenges

Dancing with Life’s Challenges

dancing with lifeAs a therapist and a life-redesign coach for women, I often hear clients talk about struggling.

In fact, we women over 40 use this word – struggle – often.

Life presents challenge and we struggle. We struggle with knowing what to do next. We struggle with difficult emotions. We struggle with how to handle situations.

I believe it’s time for a reframe. After all, here we are over 40, facing the second half of life. It’s time to do it all differently.

Ever watched ballroom dancing? I’m no professional dancer, but I can watch and observe the ebb and flow. The give and take. The pauses and then the bursts of energy. The harmony.

Ah…. there’s the difference between struggling and dancing!

When we struggle there is tension, pushing and pulling. Struggling connotes a furrowed brow, a white-knuckled grip.

When we dance there is a harmonious flow, blending and cooperation.

So what would this look like to dance with life’s challenges? How about this 5 step plan…

1. Challenge arises. Be with it. When a challenge arises, first, consider it a puzzle to be solved. A feat to be faced. Rather than bowing up with resistance, try to accept that it is here and simply have a look.With mindfulness practice, we are able to gently observe what is happening without reaction or judgment. Just gentle observation.

2. Feel the Rhythm. Now that you’ve noticed the challenge and are just hanging out with it sans reaction, go inward. Take note of sensations in your physical body. Scan for unnecessary tension. See if you can allow the tension to release and soften. Make a note of emotions that are stirring around and breathe into the feelings, noticing the physical sensations that go along with them. Just notice without acting or reacting. Feel your body in space just as a dancer does. Feel the pulse of life in your body.

3. Survey the dance-floor. Consider your options. What is possible? What is within your control? What is outside of your control? What is in the best interest of all involved? What are the consequences of the various choices?

4. Choreograph your plan. Now that you’ve outlined all your options, measure your steps. Consciously choose which course of action you will take and begin mapping it out.

5. Go with the flow. Allow your plan to be the framework for your dance but allow there to be flow. When the factors of the challenge intensify, you can grow softer and move with that intensity rather than matching it with resistance.  When the factors of the challenge back down and ease up, you might lean in and take the lead with action.

The key to dancing with life’s challenges is harmonizing. Know when to give. When to take. When to move and when to be still. This is the dance.

The next time you hear yourself saying “I’m really struggling…” take pause. Take a breath. Consider shifting that mind-set and even changing the language to reflect a choice to dance with it rather than struggle.

 

Time for a Life-Redesign?

Time for a Life-Redesign?

woman at lakeAfter years as a licensed professional counselor and yoga/meditation instructor, my work in the world has expanded and morphed. My own life experience enriches my understanding of what others are going through. This past year I launched Wonders Wellness to support women over 40.  I help women in mid-life with the process of life-redesign.

Life-redesign is a process of consciously and mindfully renovating the structure, systems, beliefs and perspectives of your life!

I’ve always been a fan of HGTV shows where people take these outdated, run-down houses and completely redesign, refurbish and remodel, creating a beautiful new home from the old.

It is so inspiring and uplifting to watch people have a vision, work hard to bring that vision to life and then with the reveal of the finished product they are able to stand back with happy tears as they contemplate the transformation of their home.

This is very much like the work I do with women over 40.

When women get to mid-life, it is here they often realize a profound discontent with life as it is.  Mid-life is when a woman’s body begins to age more rapidly. We experience menopause. Our children are leaving the nest.

Mid-life is often the time for a life-redesign.

And the process is not too different than what they go through on those television shows.

I’ve created a map that I use with my coaching clients to help them with life-redesign. There are basically 8 steps to the process. You can use these 8 steps to create your own life-redesign!

  1. Do an initial inventory – Gather data! It is important to observe and assess where your life is right now. Take note of your physical health, the state of your physical body. Look at where you live, what you do day to day, habits you have, people you surround yourself with. Take an inventory and write it all down. Describe it as it is. Note how you feel as you are describing it. Use lots of adjectives.
  2. Make a wish-list: Circle all the things and feelings you’ve written down that you DON’T want anymore. Turn those things around into the things you DO want and the ways you DO want to feel and write the wants down on a separate piece of paper.
  3. Design your dream life: Take all those things you DO want and weave them into a vision of how your life will be when they are all plugged in. You can create a vision board with images and words or a map or just a description of what life will be like when you’re done with your redesign. Post it somewhere you can look at it everyday.
  4. Create a master to-do list: Now, what specific things do you need to do to make this happen? Join a gym? Hire a life-coach? See a doctor? Sell your house? Get your resume together? Re-prioritize your obligations? Start a blog?
  5. Circle the wagons: It’s time to create a dream team of support people. This team might be people you hire to delegate certain tasks to support you on your mission or it might be friends and colleagues who are willing to pitch in and contribute to the project. It might mean you go to therapy, hire a mentor or seek other consultation with experts. This team might include your health care practitioner, coaching support, a massage therapist, a handy-man or a virtual assistant.
  6. Dig in: Get to work! Dedicate yourself mentally to the tasks at hand every day. Remind yourself this redesign is going to take time, persistence and hard work every day. This is most often where people fall off track. Hang in there and keep moving forward.
  7. Be gentle with yourself: Be sure you are balancing all that hard work with meaningful breaks to attend to the care of your body, mind and spirit along the way. Don’t mistake dedication for being hard on yourself! Be proud of your progress. Nurture yourself.
  8. Celebrate!: Once you have realized your dream and your life is looking and feeling so much better, take time to celebrate yourself. Stand back, admire your work and breathe in to this place of realizing that YOU DID IT! Take time to sink into the new life you have created for yourself and frequently take pause to reflect on how far you have come.

If you should decide you’d like some support along the way, contact me directly to set up a free Connection Session so we can talk about where you are now and where you’d like to be!

Healthy Morning Smoothie Recipes

Healthy Morning Smoothie Recipes

smoothieI have come up with some amazingly delicious healthy morning smoothie recipes I am eager to share with you to start you off on the right foot in 2015!

These are quick and easy (literally takes seconds!)

Though I still LOVE juicing green drinks, smoothies are the quicker go-to and they provide your fiber AND your phytonutrients and protein to get you going for the day.

Here are my top three new morning smoothie recipes – just pick your recipe, combine all ingredients in your Vitamix, blend until smooth and enjoy right away for maximum benefit…

Power Berry Smoothie

1/4 cup organic frozen blueberries, 1/4 cup organic frozen strawberries, 1 inch rhubarb, 1 sprig of fresh mint, 1 scoop of Real Meal protein powder (derived from grass-fed cows), 1 cup of organic baby spinach, 2 cups of ice water

Lean Green Morning Machine

1 cup organic romaine lettuce, 2 organic kale leaves, 1/4 cup fresh organic parsley, 1 lemon wedge with rind, 1 small organic apple, 1 scoop of Real Meal protein powder, 2 cups of ice water

Orange You Ready for the Day Smoothie

1 medium size orange peeled and seeded, 1 whole organic carrot, 1/2 inch fresh ginger peeled, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 small organic apple, 1 scoop of Real Meal protein powder, 2 cups of ice water

If you don’t have a Vitamix, by now you know this is my blender of choice and I urge you to go order one now. I have tried the other brands – they collect dust in a cabinet because they don’t measure up to my Vitamix.

My Vitamix sits on my kitchen counter and is used daily. Same machine for 14 years! Vitamix has amazing machines and they will last and last and last… best investment ever.

vitamix-banner

The BEST blender on the market

 

Menopause and Anxiety

Menopause and Anxiety

woman in poppy fieldWhile conventional medicine tends to minimize the experience of anxiety for women in mid-life, I have a broader view I am eager to share with you. Menopause and anxiety go hand in hand for many women.

Anxiety can feel like a snowball rolling downhill. It is both mental and physical. Physical symptoms can provoke worry thoughts which can then trigger more physical symptoms and then bigger worry thoughts.

Left unchecked this snow ball rolling downhill can create an avalanche of anxiety disrupting a woman over 40’s ability to function.

Women in mid-life are particularly prone to experiencing anxiety because:

  • Hormones are fluctuating, shifting often wreaking havoc on your sense of mental and emotional balance. Consider how the drastic hormone shifts after delivering a baby affect a woman’s emotions. In mid-life as approach and go through menopause, a similar experience can happen.
  • Signs of aging are often rapidly showing. This alone is enough to send many women into a tailspin as it can feel like a runaway train. Between the numbers on the scale increasing, the changes to our skin many women experience emotional imbalance as they face the fact they’ve landed in mid-life.
  • Our roles are changing. The kids are leaving the nest. We may feel a need to make a career change – or enter the work-force for the first time. Many women in mid-life experience changes in relationship. Divorce. Deaths. All of these big life changes create anxiety.
  • Our adrenal glands are tired. Many women have been going and going non-stop for years and years, running on adrenaline. By the time we hit our 40’s the adrenal glands don’t work like they use to. Adrenal fatigue is a serious issue for many women over 40 resulting in exhaustion and inability to function. There can be a terrible cycle of stress, anxiety and resulting fatigue of the adrenals.

So, what to do? Here are key tips for dealing with anxiety during menopause:

  1. Change the way you breathe. I teach women how to breathe in my job as a therapist and coach. It’s may sound crazy but most people do not know how to utilize their own breath the help themselves feel better. So take note: You need to learn to relax your belly and chest so that you can take in a FULL breath using the full capacity of your lungs first.
    • *Get the deep, full breathing down first. Breathe in deeply and fully, filling your lungs with air to the slow count of 5. Hold it in for 2… THEN, exhale to a slow count of 5 and hold out for 2. Repeat 5 times.
    • *Try the drinking straw breath technique: Take a deep full breath in and then exhale through a drinking straw which forces you to make the exhale TWICE as long as the inhale bringing automatic soothing to the nervous system when repeated 3 times.
    • *Alternate nostril breathing helps balance out the emotions and the overactive worry brain. Using your thumb and your ring finger, close off one nostril with your thumb and inhale deeply through the other nostril. Close off that nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the first nostril. Then, inhale into the first nostril and close it off and exhale through the second nostril. Repeat 5 cycles.
  2. Drink your greens. Juicing and blending organic dark leafy greens daily will support healthy adrenals and are reported to assist in balancing your body. The phytonutrients in live greens literally bring life into your body and have a calming affect on the mind and emotions as a result.
  3. Consider kava kava. This is an herb long used on the islands of the Pacific for soothing anxiety. Research indicates the effects of this herb are similar to the benefits of anti anxiety medications. I recommend taking kava in tincture or capsule form from a reputable company I partner with that uses only organic ingredients for all their products. Otherwise, you don’t know what you’re getting buying off the shelf.
  4. Sleep tight. It is crucial to your health and to aiding in the combat against anxiety and menopause to get a good night’s sleep. Easier said than done, I know. That’s why I’ve written a free guidebook on how to create quality sleep specifically for women over 40. Grab your free copy here. 
  5. Practice a little yoga every day. After teaching traditional yoga classes at gyms, studios, office conference rooms, outdoor parks for many years, I know the benefit of yoga. But I also know that women over 40 may not have the time or inclination to go to a full-blown 90 minute yoga class. So, I’ve created a virtual yoga studio for you. In my little online yoga studio you will find videos and audio guided mini classes specifically for women over 40. Some are as short as 4 minutes! Most are 20 or under. That’s because I want you to have an easy way to experience the myriad benefits of yoga in the comfort of your home with simple, gentle postures and meditations on a regular basis. Research shows regular yoga and meditation practice help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.
  6. Be Mindful. It’s a practice and a path that will lead you to profound peace in your mind, body and your life. Coming into present moment fully and with acceptance and surrender allows you to meet life as it is and let go of the fear-based clutching and grasping habits that keep you tied in knots. Adopting a seated meditation practice can help build this mindfulness muscle.  Read more about mindfulness practice here.

While menopause and anxiety go hand in hand, there is no reason to suffer. Creating a plan for the way you live your life day to day can bring profound relief. If you feel like you’re in over your head and need more personal coaching support to help you create a new life design, contact me and let’s connect personally.

 

Natural, Inexpensive, Easy DIY Skincare

Natural, Inexpensive, Easy DIY Skincare

skin care made simple

 

Okay ladies…. if you don’t have time or interest for my DIY Skincare tricks just skip over this blog post and go shopping for my FAVORITE brand of all natural, mostly organic, simple products made by my friend Gilly….

BUT…. you’ve come to this article because chances are you want to:

  • save money
  • simplify the skin care routine
  • put only the most natural cleansing, toning and moisturizing items on your face because you are into CLEAN health and lifestyle

So, I’m about to do the unthinkable and deliver the skinny on how to have beautiful skin without ever buying another cream, toner, or gimmick again….It’s unthinkable because we could put some cosmetic companies out of business with this…

This is all you need:

  1. plain castile soap  (16 ounces for $6 will last you 3 months worth of face washings)
  2. baking soda (get this at your grocery for pennies)
  3. witch hazel (pick this up at your drugstore for under $1 and it will last you 3 months)
  4. coconut oil (you can order it here or you can pick up a jar from Trader Joe’s for $6 that will last you months!)
  5. organic plain full fat greek yogurt
  6. extra virgin olive oil
  7. lemons and/or limes
  8. OPTIONAL EXTRAS: Frankincense essential oil for anti aging, Lavender for soothing

You do NOT want to use petroleum, dimethicone and other chemicals on your skin because what you put on your skin absorbs into your whole body.

Here is my most simple formula and method step by step:

Daily Routine:

CLEAN YOUR FACE:

Just a dime size dot of castile soap and a bit of warm water is all you need… massage in circular motion all over your face and even removes eye makeup. Rinse with warm water.

EXFOLIATE, DETOX & BRIGHTEN YOUR FACE:

Take a teaspoon of baking soda and just a little bit of warm water and mix in your palm. Gently massage your face and neck in circular motion and rinse with warm water, pat dry.

CLEAN AND TONE YOUR FACE:

Half soak a cotton ball with witch hazel and apply. Allow to air dry.

MOISTURIZE:

All you need is a half teaspoon of coconut oil spread all over your face for moisturizing. Apply to neck and chest as well.

Weekly Treatment:

Once a week, create a mask by combining 2 tablespoons of organic, full fat greek yogurt, 1 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp of fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice. Mix it well and after cleaning your face, apply mask and allow to sit and dry for 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.

For Blemishes:

In the case you occasionally get a blemish (a.k.a. “pimple” or infected pore) use the above cleansing treatment and spot treat the blemish with a special concoction I have discovered as follows:

  • 1 apsirin
  • 2 cloves
  • dash cinnamon
  • drop of witch hazel

Crush the first three ingredients with mortal and pestle and then transfer to a spoon and mix in a drop of witch hazel to create paste. Dab paste on blemish and leave overnight. Rinse in morning.

With these tricks there is no longer a need to have a cluttered bathroom counter full of lotions and products. You will save money and have a clean, beautiful face every day.

 

Lost the Weight? Here’s How to Keep it Off!

Lost the Weight? Here’s How to Keep it Off!

DSC00483So you’ve released the weight! Congrats!

NOW…. for keeping the weight off

Once you have succeeded in losing that excess weight, it’s important to have a plan to stabilize for life and not gain it back…

As many other reputable weight management programs report, there is a Plan for Life that observes something experts in fitness and nutrition call the 80/20 rule.

In order to maintain your healthy new weight for life, we eat “clean and lean” 80% of the time. 20% of the time we allow ourselves those indulgences we abstained from while on our weight release program.

Keeping the Weight Off: The 80/20 Rule

eating 80/20 ruleAccording to many of the health and fitness magazines, books, and blogs, many nutrition and fitness experts are recommending the 80/20 Rule – 80% of your food choices coming from whole, nutritionally dense foods (like veggies, fruits, lean protein, some whole grains) and 20% from the things you enjoy that might not be the best for your body (like birthday cake, milkshake, a martini, a beer, buttered white bread, loaded baked potato). There is a lot of reasoning to support approaching healthy eating in this way. Here are the values of this way of living in relationship to food:

  • You don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to be perfect. Psychologically you need some wiggle room in your relationship with food. If you don’t have space for allowed/planned indulgence you might be setting yourself up for an emotional crash and binge followed by further emotional crashing. Terrible cycle to fall into.
  • 80/20 Plan promotes lifestyle you can live with. Though 80/20 provides wiggle room it also provides structure. Structure allows for the wonderful thing called consistency. Consistency helps us get and maintain healthy results. When you don’t feel deprived, you can actually live with this plan. Lifestyle not diet fad.
  • No more crazed obsessing about weight loss, dieting and food cravings. This plan enables you to know there is room in your life to have those naughty foods and drinks. You plan for them though. You work them into your schedule and you stay on track. No more head-games. You indulge in a planned evening of Mexican food and margaritas and the next day you get back to your clean-n-lean eating way of life.

So what does 20% look like? How do you divide that time?

healthy weight managementA good rule is to have a day of indulgence and get back to clean-n-lean for at least 3 days – preferably 5. Try never to have two days in a row of indulgence. 1 day of indulgence every 5 days is 20% of the time.  or you could go out for Mexican or Italian and eat fatty, carb-laden foods with Sangria or wine every Saturday night and then one other day during the week have a piece of chocolate cake.

Do NOT make your 20% a binge…. If you’re inclined to do that, you have some emotional issues around food that need to be addressed with a professional counselor (I can provide referrals to some excellent colleagues of mine!)

life management planWith this plan we do have wiggle room in our eating habits and we do not have to be perfect, but that we also must remain mindful.

Do what works for you, but remain mindful…so you can consistently give your body the best in a way you can do for life.

Following this plan will ensure you are successful in keeping the weight off!