family wellness | success

This is 40: The Responsibility of Healing Generations of Pain

By on July 25, 2020

On Turning 40

I turned 40 in May. The day I turned 40 I received a phone call from my mom to wish me a happy birthday and to tell me that she is homeless. Sometimes I go months without hearing from her, and when we do talk it is like hearing the tale of a trainwreck.

Since early childhood I watched her walk a path of destruction. I always hoped she would “wake up” and make wise decisions, it just never happened. I wanted me and my brother to be important enough for her to fight to create a good life for us.

When I was about 14, I knew that one day homelessness would be her reality. I also kind of knew that if I wanted a different outcome, it was going to be up to me.

It is a sad reality, and at this point my life I have grieved the loss of a mother. Over the past decade, I have worked really hard on healing my mother wound. I know the women in my lineage have struggled for generations.

Choosing to Heal

The hardest work I do is on myself. Throughout this healing space sometimes the only thing I have truly known is that I have to go forward. Along the way I have to face fears or make steps even when my inner dialogue is less than pleasant.

My inner work is like “mental fitness”. I can either choose to be mentally-ill or balance and uplift and create the life I want to live. I have had to make the decision that I do not want to live in pain. One day I learned that I was responsible for my outcome.

My parents had bad circumstances, they felt a lot of pain and created a life of pain for their children. It was unfortunate. My dad overdosed when I was 33. That year I knew I had to wake up and stop allowing pain, failure, and unfortunate circumstances to dictate my behavior and moods.

I realized I could wake up and choose to fight like hell and make my dreams become a reality. That didn’t mean to wake up and fight like hell with the outside world so I had to fight with myself and find ways to relieve the lineage of pain.

The ways I’ve been able to balance myself and work out my past traumas and wounds has been quite an interesting journey and enlightening one, too.

My Top 5 Tools

I am going to share some of the things that have truly been life changers and have empowered me to find peace and healing.

  1. The one thing that has been constant in my life is having someone who believed in me. In each stage of my growth, I have had a friend, a mentor, a family member, or someone who showed me my worth. Believe it or not, when my mom is sober or having a moment of clarity, has been one of the cheerleaders. So the company I keep is tremendously important. Any success book I have ever read states that you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with. This lesson has been a tough one for me to learn.
  2. In a previous blog, I mentioned that essential oils have been a major tool for my healing. The simplicity and ease of using oil is super appealing to me and the benefits have been profound.
  3. Having a regular meditation practice is something else that keeps me grounded and peaceful. It is a place I can return each and every day and improves my daily life.
  4. The Emotion Code is something I found last summer and has really helped change some of my old patterns. It is truly a simple technique that can bring profound release.
  5. And believe it or not, my business has been huge. It has provided security (which relieves stress), personal growth, and has allowed me to serve others. It has provided more fulfillment than any other profession I have tried.

I write these tools down and look at them in retrospect and think “wow, that’s all”. I truly think the take-away message is that the strength came from within, once I stopped looking for it on the outside and started empowering myself to heal the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together rather magically.

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family wellness | health research | women's health

Small Changes, Big Results: Reducing Your Toxic Burden

By on July 15, 2020

I have brushed on the topic of chemical exposure and health concerns in many blogs. Today I want to dive a little deeper into the meaning of toxic burden. The toxic burden is the toxic load our bodies carry while still trying to function normally. We are exposed to chemicals and toxic substances in so many ways. There are toxins in our food supply, the air, the water, personal care products, household cleaning products, lawn maintenance, make-up, packaging, and so much more.

Green Washing

“Clean”, “green”, “non-toxic”– these are words that are trendy, or bougie these days. So many companies have “green” versions of products to cater to that trend. I have fallen into the trap of “green-washing”. You know, when the package looks non-toxic and good for the environment? The claims on the label even support it? However, the actual ingredient list is far from clean. The list is full of hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and artificial fragrances.

I have been keeping an eye on current environmental laws and recently 100 protections have been reversed. This means that even more, harmful chemicals will find their way into our personal care products and the environment. There are over 1400 chemicals that have been banned in Europe but are allowed in the USA. To become aware of these chemicals we have to become adept at reading labels and knowing what is in our products.

Risks of Toxic Burden

Like I said, the toxic burden is the load our bodies carry while still functioning normally. What about those times when our bodies say enough is enough? There is a time when the toxins build-up and start to affect our health. For me, it started happening in my teens (although I didn’t have a clue) but by my 30’s I had a lot going on. It was showing up in my bloodwork, health appointments, and truly making me feel unwell.

Some of us are more sensitive than others and there are a variety of ways toxicity will manifest. Fatigue, headaches, eczema, sleep issues, allergies/breathing issues, infertility, acne, certain cancers, and so much more. The toxic burden can also fuel existing conditions– think autoimmune hell!

Areas of Concern

There are so many things we encounter in our lives that are toxic offenders. In our family, we have several key areas we work to keep as pure as possible. We can not control all that happens in the world around us, however, we can control what goes on in our homes. I’ll share a list of the areas we are mindful of in our home.

  • Water Quality — Nothing quite wakes you up about water quality until you live through a “water crisis“. 2014 did it for me! In our home, we are particularly careful with our cooking and drinking water. Ultimately, a whole-home system is on my list but right now we make sure what we are ingesting is clean. You can receive a local report from your public water system to know where the areas of concern are in your system. We use a Berkey Water Filter in our home and also purchase some 5-gallon refillable jugs from a local water supplier. I am careful about the plastic our water is packaged in and won’t buy single-use bottles.
  • Air Quality— Mold, allergens, and synthetic aromas are all a cause for concern and air toxicity. Removing candles, air fresheners and synthetic fragrances improve the air quality rather quickly. We only use pure essential oils and diffusers and natural cleaning products.
  • Personal Care Products/Household Cleaning— These are one of the biggest offenders. After learning how to read the labels more closely (or even scan the barcode Think Dirty App or EWG) I’ve found that I am not comfortable using about 90% of the items found in most stores. I have a few places that I shop for the majority of these items. This means less choices or experimentation and sometimes I pay a little more. I’m okay with that. Less choices = less stress and also you generally get what you pay for. I’ve found that most higher quality products require less (a little goes a long way) and I have less waste and clutter as a side benefit.
  • Food— I know I’ve shared this info many times but it is worth repeating. I generally try to eat food that is as close to natural as possible. A diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, humanely raised meats/dairy, organic if I can or at least following the dirty-dozen list. Eating locally and in season is also great but isn’t always the most accessible.

Getting to Know Yourself

It is important to know yourself and do your own research. Information is so readily available and it is easy to find contradictory information. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You have to know yourself and what level of “green” living you want to adopt. My best advice is to find out what is most important to you when making the switch and start there. Baby-steps are always the best and most sustainable. When researching look at all sides and from different perspectives, from a reputable source.

In our family we have worked within our budget and have found solutions and for us, we are very, very cautious about what we use. Like I mentioned above, we avoid 90% (if not more) of mainstream-store personal and home care items.

I have a few companies I trust, I make some things and purchase some locally made items. The majority of our products come from Young Living, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. They offer so much, I love everything they create, and the ease of one-stop shopping does it for me.

Another thing that happens when you begin to remove toxic substances from your life is that you will begin to have keener sense of body awareness. Most likely your health will improve (issues you may not even know you have will clear) and you will definitely notice when you come in contact with a chemical and have a reaction.

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family wellness

5 Easy Immune Boosters for Children

By on November 25, 2019

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A couple of posts ago I wrote about the lost art of convalescence. My little kids are going through their developmental time of catching viruses and building their immune systems. At Mira’s 6 month well-check her pediatrician told us to expect about 1 new virus per month and expect fevers of 103 as “normal”. I am a mom who loves home remedies and tries to avoid antibiotics unless we are in a situation where they can not be avoided, so I spend a lot of time learning and trying new things.

As my kids develop their immune systems I have several things I am passionate about and have found great success with. My new favorite thing is cod liver oil. My grandparents always swore by it, I watched my oldest son’s Norwegian family administer it to the kids, and for me, I never quite caught on until reading some incredible information in Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. This book has several informative chapters on caring for babies and young children through illnesses.

I laugh at myself because I get excited about fat-soluble vitamins and remedies, lol. My five favorites for this season are:

1. Cod liver oil Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K are tremendous for building a healthy immune system. Vitamin A and Vitamin D in adequate doses (so it is truly important to look for a good brand, some commercial brands contain very little Vitamin D) can help to stave off colds, flus, and asthma. Fat-soluble vitamins help with mineral metabolism, cognitive development, intellectual development, and vision. 

When a child runs a fever, the heat and inflammation in the body quickly deplete vitamin A. It is said that a Vitamin A deficiency is why some children have febrile seizures or end up with febrile blindness.

2.Hydration– Staying hydrated is also important, and in the time of a high fever, it is difficult to stay hydrated. Pedialyte and those types of beverages are loaded with crap. I have been mixing up my favorite mineral supplement and having my toddler drink it to stay hydrated. It provides excellent sources of minerals and electrolytes and tastes so yummy. I usually make a glass for myself and just fill his sippy. Babies only need breastmilk or formula.

3. Elderberry Elixir is another super immune booster. I have been interested in elderberry syrups and have researched a lot about elderberry immune-boosting properties. I wasn’t too keen on giving the honey or maple syrups to the little kids and not being able to find where the berries were sourced from was another one of my mind-bogglers, so I was happy to come across this elixir that is farmed in Maine (hubby’s home state), on a biodynamic farm, with a very controlled process.

4. Probiotics— I have blogged and blogged about gut health and probiotics. A healthy gut contains 5-7 pounds of healthy gut bacteria, which secretes vitamins that we absorb, creates anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral substances that fight pathogens and helps us detox and keeps our feel-good chemicals in balance. If our balance gets disrupted then our whole immune system is compromised. A good quality probiotic is vital so that the necessary strains of bacteria survive the digestive tract and juices and can reach the gut to populate and do their job.

5. Outdoor time– Fresh air and sunshine are amazing. 10-30 min per day can work wonders. It supports healthy vitamin d levels. I luckily live in Florida, so our outdoor weather is usually pleasant. However, if you’re in a different climate, appropriate clothing still makes outdoor time possible.

Generally, if it seems like your child is always catching a cold, don’t panic. The advice my pediatrician gave me was that the kids’ immune systems are still developing, and because of that, they are more susceptible to colds and infections. Over time, as long as health is supported with a healthy diet and physical activity their immune systems will catch up and this too shall pass.

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family wellness

Taking a Pause: The Art of Convalescence

By on November 19, 2019

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Cough, cough, sniff, sniff. Those are the sounds that have been traveling through our house the past few days. I have had 2 kids down with a virus, Ezra taking the brunt of it. He has entered preschool a few hours a week this year, and it seems each Friday he comes home with something. This time, the illness truly got my attention and required me to switch my mindset a bit. Recently my focus has been on what to do to care for my sick child when the importance was truly just caring for my sick child.

I’m a great caregiver, in theory. I will calmly make sure all of the logistics are taken care of, however, truly taking time to notice intuitively what my kids needed was missing. My mind fluctuated on everyone’s basic needs, the work I needed to do, and our recent sleep deprivation. Immediately, I went into “fix” mode with them. Fix the symptoms… you know, we have things to do!

I had a little ah-ha when the only thing that could console Ezra was me. I took the time to observe him, both physically and intuitively. What I realized at that moment was that he truly needed time to convalesce. Historically, this was something that was a standard for illnesses. We live in a society now where suppressing symptoms and getting back to “real life” is marketed heavily. We have “quick fixes” for everything. Yes, I believe in being comfortable and will not forgo medical care when necessary. But truly, just riding it out (even if it takes weeks) is often what we really require.

When our bodies are down, and especially when a child is ill, it is important to give space and time to truly heal. Symptoms may subside, but moving back into a hurried pace can keep the immune system weak and allow other illnesses to creep in easily. I have noticed with my kids that very often following a virus, they will have a physical or developmental leap.

The prescription I find the most helpful when we have sick kiddos is quiet time, less stimulation, and TLC. The definition of vitality is the state of being strong and active; energy. The power giving continuance of life, present in all living things. Overstimulation robs children of their vital energy. The very nature of screen time is vitality depleting, so that is something I am very cautious about allowing during illness. If I do allow screen time, we watch very gentle, calming shows. However, quiet play, books, mama cuddles, eucalyptus baths, etc are what I gravitate toward.

For me to nurture and tune into a time of convalescence, I had to release the expectations I have of myself and others and truly invite in a sense of stillness. The slower pace is necessary so the kids can replenish their vitality and do their inner work to heal. These moments are a great time to reevaluate our family rhythm and see what is serving us well and what needs adjusting so that we can all live together harmoniously and with minimal chaos.

The funny thing is, that when I spent a different kind of time with the kids I realized I was way off the mark in recognizing their needs. Ezra needed mama time, Mira needed me to loosen the reigns, and Keenan was squared away (he’s taken a lot of my brainpower lately). Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow and find new awarenesses for sure!

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family wellness | gut health

Tummy Troubles

By on March 19, 2018

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Hippocrates, the Greek physician and “Father of Medicine” stated that “all disease begins in the gut”. Leaky Gut Syndrome is becoming quite the catch word these days. A few years ago I was at a conference and heard a presentation about this issue. I listened, found it fascinating, but did not see the connection to it and my health problems at the time. Having digestive issues, skin issues, and hormone issues were just my lot in life. Maybe passed down genetically, or quite “normal” to feel this way. Taking a dose of Pepto Bismol was pretty standard practice during my childhood.

Babies are in fact, born with a “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability. This means that there are small gaps in the intestinal lining, which are beneficial in a new baby because larger immune-boosting molecules can pass directly into the baby’s bloodstream. As a newborn, this is important because the baby is using the antibodies of mama’s milk to protect against viruses, bacteria, and other dangerous microorganisms. During the first few months after birth, a baby’s organ systems develop rapidly and the gaps in the intestinal lining begin to close. That is if all systems are working appropriately– the best case scenario. In my post on the microbiome I share that Ezra was not born in the best case scenario for gut health.

In our world, much about development is based on facts and figures. Conventionally, if a baby is 6 months old, has a pincer grasp, and can sit up– it is time to start solids.  I am not sold on that school of thought. Leaky Gut Syndrome is not recognized in western medicine, although I believe it is gaining some popularity in functional or integrative medicine. My little guy has been showing symptoms of digestive discomfort since we brought him home from the NICU. He had reflux, was a “happy spitter“, and grunted constantly for several months with very uncomfortable gas. We kept him as comfortable as possible with many holistic interventions. The biggest shift in Ezra’s health occurred when I changed to a ketogenic diet. He immediately began to gain weight at an accelerated rate, and managed to grow off the preemie charts and on to the full-term charts, and sleep through the night. He was meeting his growth and milestone requirements, so I took it for granted that his internal environment had caught up. The diet was helpful for us both, and a wonderful system reset– however not quite sustainable for a long period of time.

When the gut is “leaky”, the one layer thick lining of the intestines has tiny holes scattered throughout. These essentially spring “leaks” allowing undigested food particles, bacteria and other substances to pass directly into the bloodstream. The immune system is then fired to attack these foreign invaders, creating a near constant immune response. So, what is designed to protect you in times of distress is over functioning and going a bit haywire. When the body is in this near constant state of distress, chronic inflammation begins to set in. After only a few months of eating solid foods, Ezra began to have many symptoms of chronic inflammation.  At the 12 month mark, we had several indicators that his gut still needed quite a bit of support, so some changes were in order.

Some symptoms are: eczema, psoriasis, anxiety/depression, migraines, respiratory problems, chronic fatigue, sugar cravings, allergies, behavior problems, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, weight loss or weight gain issues, and so many more. Navigating the world of infant feeding is difficult. We all want to give our children the best start. Often cereals are the first recommended food, then moving on to green beans or peas (legumes), many fruits are suggested, and age 1 is the magic age for whole milk. What if our recommended feeding guidelines are keeping us and our children sick? How do we discern what the experts are suggesting?

If Hippocrates was correct that “all health begins in the gut”, what can I do to ensure our guts are healthy? For Ezra the diet change begins with me, since he is still breastfeeding. My internal environment will be the precursor to his. At this point, our family diet is roughly 80% vegetables. We stick to leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, small portions of pastured/grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, and A2 dairy. We are avoiding grains, root vegetables, legumes, nightshade vegetables, most fruits, conventionally farmed meats/fish, and sugar. So far, we are adapting quite well and my husband and I have both released some weight within just a few weeks of this switch. This week I will introduce a new supplement into my daily regimen,  I will adjust and adapt as we go along, although right now I am seeing the proof that our systems are beginning to heal and shift toward wellness.

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