Renewal of the Mind

A new year might bring on many thoughts of renewing ourselves in some way, maybe in our outlook on life, health, spirituality or relationships. It’s a good time to reflect on what we’d like to change and improve. But it doesn’t mean we have to take on the responsibility of making drastic changes all at once.

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Small changes over time are what bring results. In considering this, we can use the beginning of the year as a time of reflection on how we would like to renew ourselves as we move forward. Many blessings in the new year.

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Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

 

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The Freedom to Make Resolutions Any Ole’ Time You Please

Eat, Breathe, Think

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Did you get that gym membership yet? Swear off sugar, wine or cigarettes? Feeling a bit overwhelmed? A little jittery from chocolate withdrawal, maybe? Yes, yes, I know it’s only January 3rd, but a sense of discouragement can set in surprisingly quickly sometimes. Why? Unattainable goals are not real goals. They’ll only lead to quick burnout and bad feelings.

Resolutions are decisions. We make them at a point when we’re so tired of wanting to change that we decide to take the steps to do things differently. For many, coming to that point is a journey of frustrating and sometimes unfortunate events. And this is precisely why New Year’s resolutions usually tend to fail. They begin on a day chosen collectively by society, rather than by a true inner desire to change and the much needed experiences that drive our resolve forward.

New Year’s resolutions may often feel like a burdensome obligation instead of an exciting, well thought out plan. Just because we’re embarking on…

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Just Say “No” and Other Ways to Turn Down Amazing Holiday Foods Because it Just Wouldn’t End Well

Eat, Breathe, Think

IMG_1731 - Version 2Oh, the sparkly decorations, holiday parties and all that alluring food that gives you the come hither look that no one else can see. During the holidays, it is sometimes difficult to say no to all of the variety available at the table. You’re laughing and talking and maybe drinking a few sips of alcohol throughout the evening. You’re having a great time, the conversations are intriguing, your inhibitions are slowly slipping away.

Even though some of us may know exactly what foods trigger our allergic and inflammatory responses, it’s tempting to overlook the repercussions in the moment, particularly when dining with others. As though it’s not hard enough to fight off the urge to try every little delightful dish on the table, there’s also Good Food That’s Oh, So Bad for Me peer pressure. The act of sharing a meal is a significant custom in many parts of the world. It is…

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When Listening Heals

pics-373“I never thought I’d need to see someone like YOU,” is something I hear from time to time. They don’t expect to ever talk to a “shrink” and they swear they’re not “crazy” but alas, they have a hard time reconciling how they ended up on my couch.

People often seem perplexed and disappointed that, by their description, they’ve arrived at such a point of desperation that they need to consult with a professional. They were confident they could “handle it” on their own and couldn’t understand what went wrong.  Yet only here, in our self-proclaimed progressive society, do we see the reliance on others as a shameful act. So for those who don’t necessarily believe in the power of counseling, it has taken a lot for them to pull together their courage and strip away their pride to see me.

Yet, as I’ve come to learn, listening is an art and gift that has healed over the ages and across many cultures. From etchings of hieroglyphics and those who interpreted them, to pastors’ laying of hands, curanderos’ use of herbs and natural elements, and the sweating out of emotional toxins in temazcals, there has always been some form of storytelling and intentional listening.

The art of listening is not an unusual or foreign practice, and in fact, the beauty of finding healing through someone’s readiness to carefully hold each of our wounds and tend to them, is in our very nature.

Where You Hiding, Sunshine?

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What is going on? This isn’t right. Why’s it dark at 4pm? Why am I sleepy by 8? And also, why is it so cold that the city’s a big ole’ ice rink? I had to check in with someone else to see if I was the only one who was this disgruntled. “Ladybug, what do you feel like doing when it’s cold outside?”

“Nothing.”

“What a coincidence! Me too.”

And on top of all that, many people’s vitamin D levels drop fast with sunlight deprivation, especially people with darker pigmentation. Although, don’t think this doesn’t affect you, my pigment-less friends. Anyone can be vitamin D deficient.

I have to say though, of all the annoying winter-related inconveniences, the vitamin D thing is what I cared about the least, because I didn’t think it was really causing any problems. But I was wrong. In fact, the more I read about it, the more I think a lot of us are affected. Apparently, vitamin D deficiency can be the explanation for several concerns, like fatigue, poor immune functioning, insulin resistance, multiple sclerosis and depression. So it’s time to pay more attention.

According to researchers, vitamin D deficiency is very treatable. Foods like the ones listed below, supplements and the sun (the optimal and most natural choice) can help increase vitamin D levels:

  • fatty fish
  • beef
  • cheese
  • egg yolks

Many foods are also vitamin D fortified, for example:

  • milk
  • some cereals
  • yogurt
  • orange juice

By the way, the sun is so vital to our health that there’s a whole website dedicated to it: http://www.sunshinevitamin.org.

I realize it sounds like a terrible contradiction to have to go outside and freeze your tail off in order to feel good, but apparently, it’s completely worth it.

Breaking Up is Still Hard to Do

IMG_1920As it is with many relationships, breaking up can be torture. Although I believed coffee and I were over (Breaking Up is Hard to Do), because it mimics gluten, I indulged in a bit of a reunion a few days ago. And it felt so good. Because I’m stubborn and in denial about the new and unjust effects of caffeine on my body, I took a few sips of espresso. Yes, of all things, espresso. I said, if I’m gonna do it, might as well get ridiculous. It made me weak in the knees and butterflies swirled in my stomach, typical of a reunion with a missed beloved.

Except, I quickly realized the butterflies weren’t the good kind. They were pangs of agony, and the cold, hard reminder that coffee and I should most definitely remain apart.

But then, because I just can’t seem to torture myself enough and because denial is an astonishingly powerful thing, I tried a milder coffee blend a couple of days later. I was surprised to find that I tolerated it pretty well this time. Except, after a couple of cups, back to the same problem. So my conclusion is that the strength of the coffee bean is a factor in whether it can impact a person with gluten sensitivity, but amount is also a part of it.

I’m sure I’ll keep experimenting to find the perfect coffee for me (and regret it after), but in the meantime, I’m reconnecting with my first love, chai. But I’m not talking about coffeehouse “Chai Tea Latte,” (which actually just means tea tea latte) with 50 grams of sugar and tons of additives, but homemade chai grounds boiled to perfection, milk added in at just the right time, and spices thrown in.

So far, it’s going pretty well. Rebounds are the best, at least for a little while.

Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Real?

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The weather outside is frightful. Sidewalks are littered with gray, slushy snow. The cold is bitter and comparable to needles slapping you in the face. The sun refuses to come out and when it does, it makes a very brief guest appearance, shattering any delusions of warmth.

Winter is hard. There’s no other way to put it. I told myself the change in weather brings in new fashion, but reality is, I don’t care. I’m a tomboy. I do however love boots, so I tried to deal by justifying that winter’s the perfect reason to buy a new pair, or mayber 3 or 4. But that only helps so much. Sometimes, when I think of how dreadfully long I’ll have to endure the cold, I count and recount November, December and January, like the total will change or as if winter is exclusive to only these 3 months. As if.

The holidays are a nice distraction, but as soon as January hits, time seems to freeze and spring begins to sound like a childhood fairytale. To add to the gloominess, some people might suffer from vitamin D deficiency around this time, something that can add to feelings of low energy and motivation.

Many people I’ve spoken to agree that winter is yucky and annoying. And they all enthusiastically second my proclamation that all people affected by anything lower than 40 degree weather should be awarded beach houses, just for the winter of course.

For some, however, deprivation of sunlight and warmth is far more impactful than transforming into a whiner or conjuring up dreams of beach houses. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is not a fleeting feeling, and it’s not just the tendency to want to eat a little more or stay under the covers a little longer. People who suffer from SAD have a change in overall mood, lose interest in things they used to enjoy and have trouble concentrating.

Loss of sunlight resulting in disruption of the body’s biological rhythm might be to blame. Sometimes, people I’ve met who suffer from SAD minimize their symptoms. They think it’s silly that they’re having a hard time adapting to the change in seasons. But it’s not their fault. It’s depression, something that should never be ignored or minimized. Good news is there are treatments, including natural ones like light therapy, exercise programs and nutrition options. Even though there are some winter enthusiasts out there, I believe many of us are on some spectrum of being annoyed with cold weather to becoming depressed by it. If you’re seeing a pattern of mood symptoms returning every year, it may be time to speak to a therapist. Winter is hard and we don’t have to pretend it’s not. Believe me, I’ve tried.