Yearly Archives: 2018

🎁 You Are The Gift 🎁

December can be a tricky month. It involves the holidays, which means more company than usual, parties, house cleaning and decorating, extra expenses, and usually gift giving. But all this extra giving does not feel good unless we’re giving from the heart.

Self-care is critically important, especially during the holiday season, to avoid stress, burnout, resentment, exhaustion, and overindulging in sugar and alcohol. We must fill up our own cup first before serving others. We all know this, but it’s not always so easy to do during the holiday season.

Remember, “No” is a complete sentence! It requires no further explanation. And there are many ways to say it: “Oh, no no no, but thanks anyway” or “Thank you so much, but no.” If this feels too uncomfortable, you can always say, “I will have to think about it and get back to you. If you need an answer now, it would have to be no.”

The reason to say NO is so you can say YES to something else! Here are some ways you might want to practice saying YES to self-care:

  • Carve out “me” time (block it out in your calendar!)
  • Take time for quiet reflection
  • Prepare nourishing meals to share with people you love
  • Take a luxurious bath
  • Make time for daily stretching or yoga
  • Snuggle up by the fire and ready a book
  • Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with a dear friend
  • Walk in the healing beauty of nature
  • Have fun playing with your dog or cat
  • Do a new craft project (to give as gifts?)

When we take care of ourselves, we create the opportunity to think of what we actually want to give others, and it feels so much better. And it’s important to keep in mind that gifts don’t have to be things or cost much money.

WE ARE A GIFT. Our time is one of the most precious gifts we can give others. It could be something we have spent time making with our own hands. Sometimes designing fun experiences to share can be the best gifts of all. A gift does not always have to come in a box, although an idea could be written down and placed in a box for added surprise (or sprinkle clues inside several boxes for extra excitement).

Our creativity will begin to emerge, but only if we have taken time for ourselves first.

The greatest gift we can give is to take really good care of ourselves so others won’t have to. Self-care sets an example for others to follow as well.

Honor the gift of who you are.

Blessings for a warm, cozy, and healthy holiday season!

The Grateful Heart ❤️❤️❤️

“If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘thank you’ that would suffice.”
Meister Eckhart

Everyone has heard how important gratitude is for overcoming fear, bringing more joy into our lives, reducing stress, healing, and so much more. Dr. Emmons of UC Davis and Joanna Hill, authors of “Words of Gratitude,” have concluded from their scientific research that “grateful people elicit more support from others, cope better, have better health, and are more socially adaptable.” As humans we are conditioned to focus on the negative for self-preserving reasons, but we can also recondition our thinking to a more positive outlook, and gratitude is one way to begin.

So why don’t we practice gratitude more often? Life’s fast pace and multiple distractions are certainly reasons. Writer Alexis de Tocqueville describes gratitude as “a habit of the heart.” We must take the time to listen to our heart and act upon it. If you don’t have a gratitude practice in place, you can begin one now, knowing that regularly and deliberately expressing appreciation and genuine thankfulness will improve your health and well-being.

Starting new habits can be fun and easier than you may think. Here are a few ideas to maintain a sense of gratitude in your everyday life.

  1. Start a gratitude journal and write in it first thing in the morning and/or at night before bed. Write down at least 5 things you are grateful for.
  2. Choose a consistent activity, like drinking water, and think of something you are grateful for every time you take a sip.
  3. Take a gratitude walk. Notice the beauty around you.
  4. Send a thank you/appreciation note to someone you’ve been thinking about. Do this once a week — or even once a day!
  5. Talk to your loved ones and pets and tell them how much they mean to you.
  6. Practice gratitude while cooking a meal. This adds lots of essential Vitamin L (love) to the food.
  7. Everyday write down something you are grateful for on a small piece of paper and place in a jar. Include other family members in this practice and take turns pulling a note out and reading it aloud before dinner or breakfast.

Last Thanksgiving my family did an activity where each of us told all the other members at the dinner table what we were grateful for about them. It was surprising what was said, and it made everyone feel so special and loved.These kind of exercises can bring everyone closer and provide positive and lasting memories.Start your own gratitude Thanksgiving tradition!

Gratitude is a feeling that comes from within — however, it is also a choice we make. While gratitude is a feeling and an also an attitude, we can express it by words or deeds, extending our time, gifts, and so many other ways. Our expression of gratitude creates an opening that invites other positive experiences into our lives.

May you find your grateful heart and be the light that leads others to wellness.

🎃 🎃 Pumpkins Everywhere! 🎃 🎃

 

“The best time to set up a new discipline is when the idea is strong”

-Jim John

 

 

 

Tell Cinderella that turning into a pumpkin may not be so bad.

October always makes me think of pumpkins. Those bright orange spheres of cheeriness. Whether you like carving them at Halloween or making soup they are a source loaded with nutrition and beauty support.

Pumpkin flesh contains enzymes that are useful in a skin care mask or for improving digestion.

As a mask ingredient pumpkin is useful to exfoliate dead skin cells, diminish scarring and age spots, stimulate circulation, improve skin texture, and promote healing. Pumpkin is a good choice for sensitive or acne-prone skin instead of more intrusive peels like glycolic acid.

Pumpkin enzymes break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into smaller components. This is a great help for digestion and overall gut health.

Recipe for Pumpkin Face mask
2 T fresh pumpkin puree (organic from the can is ok)
1 T raw honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp pumpkin seed oil (organic, cold pressed)
1T plain yogurt (cow or goat) or 1 T mashed avocado (optional but good for dry skin)
Mix all ingredients well and apply to clean face. Leave on 15-20 minutes. Rinse, blot dry and follow up with moisturizer or facial oil.

Raw Pumpkin seeds are a power house of nutrition: protein, unsaturated fats including oleic fatty acid along with omega 6 and trace amounts of omega 3, iron, calcium, B and C vitamins, beta-carotene (which converts to Vitamin A). Pumpkin seeds biggest claim to fame is high levels of magnesium and zinc. They enhance memory and thinking skills and contain stress fighting tryptophan: a precursor to good mood serotonin. Raw seeds contain methionine recognized for its power to remove heavy metals from the body as well as support libido and sexual function. What a great snack or addition to salad!

Pumpkin seed oil (cold pressed and organic) is beneficial both nutritionally and to the skin. It has all the above properties as well as phytonutrients. This is a great oil to add to your salad dressing or use as a scalp treatment (warmed) and is known to support new hair growth. Oiling the scalp is also a wonderful way to reduce anxiety and calm the nervous system. You can add it to almond or olive oil if you prefer.

Gay’s Recipe for Pumpkin and Chard with Cashew/coconut sauce

Prep-
Soak 1/2 cup raw organic cashews in fresh water for 2-4 hours. Rinse and drain
Peel and cube 1 medium baking pumpkin (sometimes called pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins. They are smaller than jack-o-lantern pumpkins)
Clean and rinse 2 bunches fresh chard; chop into 2 inch strips and set aside

Steam pumpkin cubes-
1.5 Cups Vegetable broth for steaming Pumpkin 
Sea salt/ pepper to taste
Place pumpkin pieces in steamer with broth and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer for approximately 20 minutes until tender (don’t over cook)

Make Sauce:
Place into blender or vitamix;
1/2 C pre-soaked raw cashews
2 inches fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1 tsp tumeric
1/2-1 cup coconut milk
leftover vegetable broth
sea salt
dash of Bragg’s liquid aminos (optional)

Blend on high until creamy add more broth/coconut milk as needed to get a creamy pourable consistency.
fresh parsley chopped for garnish

Prepare Chard
1 red onion chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic minced
2 T Olive Oil
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt and pepper

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a large enough pan to hold the chard. 
Add chard and lemon juice, salt and pepper and allow to steam/cook with the lid on for 10 min or until tender.

Divide pumpkin amongst individual bowls. When chard is ready spoon over pumpkin and finish with sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Resources:
The beauty diet by David Wolfe.
The Nutrition Almanac by Lavon J. Dunne
and the Institute for Integrative nutrition.

What is Your Skin Trying to Tell You? (Part 2)

What is Your Skin Trying to Tell You?

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
-Buddha

The condition of the skin is a result of many biochemical and physical factors that are subject to change both internally and externally. The purpose of skin care is to maintain skin in it’s most healthy and attractive state. The skin needs many things: water, minerals, lipids, proteins, vitamins, good circulation and elimination.

Skin function can be improved through good nutrition, adequate water intake, sleep, exercise and stress management. These along with a regular skin care program will optimize the skin’s appearance.

A holistic approach to healthy skin care always considers the whole person. The skin is really a mirror for what goes on inside the body. In general, because the skin is a sense organ it is closely related to the emotional state of the individual. Understanding your emotional nature is important to address especially if there are skin issues present. I personally love flower essences and essential oils for support in this area as well as other therapies.

Related to the skin– All substances needed by the body to maintain metabolic functions such as fats and oils especially unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins, phospholipids, vitamins and enzymes.

Foreign to the skin- Substances the body does not need and do not occur in the body as either a whole or part- such as paraffin, plastics, petro-chemicals, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, hydroquinone and too many other chemicals to mention here. All synthetic chemicals are highly suspect!

Beauty Counter has created The Never List a handy guide for what you should avoid when buying skin care products and cosmetics. Get your copy of The Never List here.

What does your skin need? Does it need oil or water? Internally and or externally? Are there bumps and if so what kind, what color and where are they?

The skin does not stop at the face… Are there signs of trouble anywhere else on the body?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine different parts of the face and body reflect different organs and meridians. Depending on what is going on with your overall health, the skin will often leave us clues as to where the problem might be and can help us to determine an appropriate plan. Start with changes in diet and skin care and check with your physician or functional medical doctor if you suspect anything serious.

Skin care to consider:

  • Baths
  • Massage oils
  • Compresses
  • Face and body mists
  • Masks
  • Exfoliants
  • Cleansing and wash products
  • Oils and creams
  • Protection- physical sunscreen, clothing
  • Botanical support in the form of herbs, tea, essential oils & flower essences
  • Getting plenty of fresh air/oxygen

The skin responds well to routine. If you do not currently have a skin care program in place, start one. Using The Never List as a guideline, check to see what’s in the products you are using and what you may be exposing yourself to.

If you’re discovering that you don’t like the ingredients in your current products, check out cleaner safer skin care at www.beautycounter.com/gaydering

Drink adequate water and get enough sleep preferably on a routine that your body is accustomed to. So much of the restorative, re-building and clean up activity amongst our cells takes place while we sleep. The term “beauty sleep” is no joke!

Eat a balanced whole foods diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, avoid sugar, processed foods and watch the alcohol consumption as well as carbonated beverages.

Remember this beauty rule:
Never go to bed without washing your face no matter what time it is. No exceptions!

Hopefully you found this information useful and have a new interest in taking even better care of your skin. It is time to appreciate all the amazing things your skin does for you. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you.

References:

  • Physiology Of The Skin by Peter Pugliese MD,
  • Chinese Medicine by Tom Williams
  • Principles of Holistic Therapy with Herbal Essences by Dettrich Gumbel

What is Your Skin Trying to Tell You? (Part 1)

What is Your Skin Trying to Tell You?

The mind and body are not separate units, but one integrated system. How we act and what we think, eat, and feel are all related to our health.
-Bernie Siegel

In the body’s infinite wisdom, our skin is considered a non-essential if there are other more important needs going on. Blood flow and nutrients may be needed elsewhere especially if the body is under stress and the fight or flight response has been triggered. This is why managing stress is so important for our overall beauty and our health!

The cells that are fed in the underlying skin dermis are depending on us to provide the essential nutrients they need for building beautiful glowing skin. This is also why it is never enough to work solely from the outside of the skin topically. We must also nourish and feed it with good solid nutrition; to nourish the skin from the inside.

That said, the skin will react and give us some information if we learn how to read it, and there are many things we can do to make it happier.

The skin is our largest vital organ so lets take a closer look at it.

Skin covers an average of eighteen square feet and weighs around 7 pounds.

In a square centimeter there are:

  • one hundred sweat glands
  • twelve feet of nerves
  • hundreds of nerve endings
  • ten hair follicles
  • fifteen sebaceous glands
  • three feet of blood vessels
  • and hundreds of sensory receptors for pain, pressure, touch, heat and cold.

Unbroken, the skin is a protective barrier and our first line of defense against disease and bacterial invasion. It regulates body temperature by constricting blood vessels in cold temperatures to preserve body heat and producing sweat in warm temperatures to cool the body by water evaporation. Sweating is also one of the ways the body eliminates toxins. Including skin, there are five vital organs that eliminate waste: the liver, lungs, intestines and kidneys.

The skin is our largest sensory organ, sending neurological messages to the brain. 

It breathes (takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide), manufactures vitamin D and protects the body from ultraviolet damage from the sun.

The skin acts as a protective barrier in three specific ways.

  1. It keeps out harmful bacteria by secreting a fatty substance (sebum) that is a bactericide, fungicide and lubricant. Sebum mixes with perspiration and dead cells on the surface forming the acid mantle (pH 4-5) which has anti-bacterial properties. It can be easily disturbed by over washing or by the use of products with harmful chemicals.
  2. The skin protects the body from ultraviolet radiation from the sun by producing melanin which absorbs the rays. Melanin is also what gives skin it’s varying shades of color, from white to darkest brown/black.
  3. The skin’s subcutaneous layer also absorbs shocks and blows to protect the internal organs, muscles and tissue.

In addition to sebaceous glands that secrete sebum and the sudoriferous glands that produce sweat, there is keratin, a product of skin metabolism that transforms soft living cells into hardened, non-living protective cells. It comes in two forms: hard as found in hair and nails, and soft as found in skin. Keratin contains the elements of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus, oxygen and sulphur. Hard keratin has a large amount of sulphur, and has no tendency to break off or flake away, but remains in a continuous structure. Soft keratin contains more moisture, a small percentage of fats and sheds continually. Every month we completely regenerate the outside layer of our skin although this process begins to slow down as we age. Here’s where good skin care practices CAN make a difference.

Next month I’ll show you how to best care for skin, and how to read the warning signs that your skin is giving you.

Here’s a quick tip: Never go to bed without washing your face no matter what time it is. No exceptions!

For now, enjoy The Never List, a handy tool that Beauty Counter has created to let you know what to avoid when buying cosmetics and skin care products.
www.beautycounter.com/the-never-list

 

References:

  • Physiology Of The Skin by Peter Pugliese MD,
  • Chinese Medicine by Tom Williams
  • Principles of Holistic Therapy with Herbal Essences by Dettrich Gumbel

Summer Means Sunshine!

Summer Means Sunshine!

“It does not require many words to speak the truth”

-Chief Joseph Nez Perce 
(Nerburn, Native American Wisdom)

 

 

Summer is just around the corner and life gets busy with graduations, Fathers day and wedding season. Cherries and corn on the cob appear in the market and fresh fruit and veggies are abundant. There is more daylight now and the summer solstice is soon coming.  It is the time when spring is leaving and now it is time for growth, new projects, vacations and time to play.

A time for buoyant good health and well being.

If you did not manage to get a cleanse in earlier this spring it is not too late to consider one now and in fact many people wait til the weather is nicer because it is more conducive to the body for eating raw vegetables and juicing when the temperature is warmer outside. (Read my March post about cleansing here.)

It is also time to think about sun protection. I myself have had a problem with sunscreens in that my skin does not like them very much so I tend to carry a hat with me and walk on the shady side of the street as well as wear protective clothing whenever possible. The sun is a source of Vitamin D although most of us never spend enough time in the sun with little clothing and wait the necessary time before showering to get enough benefit. You may need to supplement Vitamin D.

Sunscreens: You may have heard the news recently about how some areas are banning sunscreen from the beaches because the chemicals in sunscreen are killing off the coral. And if it is killing off the coral, imagine what it is doing to us! Do we really want to slather ourselves and our children with dangerous chemicals? Of course we don’t.

As most of you know I have joined the BeautyCounter movement which has a mission to put safer products into the hands of everyone. I hope you will join me because they are putting a large portion of profits toward lobbying in Washington DC to push for safer laws to protect us in what is virtually an un-regulated industry. They just came out with some fabulous new sunscreens that are free of nano particles and all the other harmful chemicals we do not want on our skin. www.beautycounter/gaydering

If by chance you do get a sunburn… Aloe vera gel (preferably taken from the plant itself) with a drop or two of lavender essential oil will take care of it fast.

It is important to protect your eyes from sun too though especially if you have a blue or lighter eye color. Not all sunglasses are equal either so invest in a pair that has both UVA and UVB protection. There is also a thing called blue light which is the light emitted from our computers, TV’s and smart devices. For very little money you can get orange shade glasses that protect you from this blue light. LED’s emit blue light as well.

Jeesh…who knew.

Gardens and Grounding

Gardens and Grounding

“Speak to the earth and it shall teach thee.”

-Job 12:8

The garden is my favorite sanctuary and I love this month because the flowers are in bloom.

It is finally safe to plant with out fear of frost. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or not it is really fun to plant at least some herbs and watch them grow. I love to pull fresh mint, parsley, sage or whatever out of the garden for cooking and smoothies. Lettuce and spinach is super easy to grow now and makes your salad even more delicious. Its too soon for tomatoes and basil but you can begin preparing the soil for these and other veggies if you have some sun and room.

Bee balm, chamomile and lemon verbena make wonderful teas and are all calming to our nervous systems if you want to give those a try for harvesting later on.

A favorite passion of mine is to cut fresh flowers and make floral arrangements so that I have life and color to bring indoors. This brightens up the spirit big time.

Another truly wonderful practice is to ground yourself by walking on grass, sand or the earth with bare feet. Literally feel the earth beneath your feet and take a few long deep breaths. We are surrounded by electro magnetic frequencies (EMF’s) because of technology and we desperately need this regular grounding to stay healthy. Try it!

The connection to Mother Earth is so important to our well being. If gardening is not your thing then maybe walking or hiking in the woods will do it for you. Or visiting a garden or park area is in order. How about a bike ride? Spending at least some time each day outdoors is a healthy practice you might want to consider. It really makes a difference.

Detoxing

Detoxing

“Your philosophy determines whether you will go for the disciplines or continue the errors”

-Jim Rohn

Detoxing is an ongoing practice. Nowadays we are exposed to so many pollutants that it can seem overwhelming. I live in Northern California where all the fires raged last fall and experienced first hand what toxic chemical filled air is all about. Seriously we all had to wear masks before going outside and many people I know invested in air filters because it was so bad. There is also the water to worry about…I know it is a pain but putting a filter system on your kitchen sink so you can drink pure clean water that is free of chlorine and all the other chemicals is not only a good idea but can be a cost effective one too because you will never have to purchase plastic bottles of water again which do not break down and adds to our land fill problems not to mention exposes us to harmful plastic that is hormone disruptive.

Then there are all the personal care products we use that are often swimming in chemicals. The USA has a very poor record of safety standards in this area and I highly recommend visiting the ewg.org site to see how what you are using rates. You will probably be very surprised. Consider switching to safer products www.beautycounter.com/gaydering

Our cars, new carpet or building materials can off gas with harmful chemicals and our new furniture that is covered in flame retardant can be dangerous. Then there’s mold and gas fumes….I could go on but you get the picture.

We live in a toxic world and we need to finds ways to navigate this.

What we eat truly matters more than ever.

The good news…Yes finally some good news here. People are waking up and companies are offering more and more clean, organic and safer products for us to choose and choose we must. Its time to vote with our dollars.

Become a regular at your local farmers market or join a CSA and support an organic farm.

You will feel better, look better and be better for it.

Spring Clean

Spring Clean

“It is better to prevent than to cure” -Peruvian proverb

Spring is in the air or at least the promise of it is, and it’s time to think about cleaning out the cobwebs, cupboards and closets. This time of year is a good time to clean up our digestive tract as well and consider a cleanse. Now I know you might be groaning about this idea but honestly after the holidays and the long winter have you maybe let some extra sugar and heavier meals creep into your diet? This is the perfect way to clean the slate and reset with some good new habits.

There is a cleanse for everyone and for you it may be just simply drinking more water, cutting back on caffeine and or eliminating sugar, dairy, gluten and meat for a period of time. For others who are seasoned cleansers you may embark on a specific program like arise and shine or blessed herbs. A vegetable juice cleanse for a few days to a few weeks is also easy enough to try or you may choose to fast. As I said there is a cleanse for everyone and you should get your doctor’s or health professional’s okay before you start.

It is a good idea to prepare yourself at least a week before the cleanse by cutting back on caffeine and sugar to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The first three days of any cleanse can feel pretty crappy especially if you just jump in without preparation.

Tips

  • Pick a period of time that is not super busy so you have some downtime to rest.
  • It is sometimes easier to do a cleanse with a group or with a buddy so you have support.
  • Do some research first and find the right cleanse for you. Talk with your health coach.
  • Shop ahead and make sure you have everything you will need
  • Keep a journal and write down your experiences, thoughts and track your meals/bowel activity.
  • Have a cooler with all your food/drinks handy if you are on the go.
  • Take plenty of epsom salt baths
  • Get extra sleep

Happy Cleansing!