Inspiring Others

I met with my mentor, Pamela Hawley last night and was so inspired by our conversation that I woke up at 4:00 a.m. this morning, unable to get back to sleep because I was bursting with ideas. Pamela is one of the most giving and enthusiastic people I've ever met and was an instructor of mine at the UC Berkeley Business School Extension Program. I was always so on fire when I walked out of her class that when the class wrapped up for good, I decided to ask if she would meet me for a cup of coffee so I could pick her brain a little about The Healing Farm and get a feel for what she thought of the idea (and me). It was a little intimidating e-mailing her and asking so I was honored and thrilled when she not only agreed to meet with me, but she asked if I wanted a mentor. Here we are two years later and she's still dedicating time to me and The Healing Farm while running her own non-profit (Universal Giving) and writing her own blog called Living and Giving.

While I was on the train on my way to our meeting, I was reading Conscious Company magazine which is my favorite read in the world right now, other than John Muir Meditations, the Sunday New York Times and fiction novels. The magazine often interviews “conscious company” business owners and in the current issue there is an interview with Sam Mogannam of Bi-Rite which is a local San Francisco food market (among other things!). Apparently Mr. Mogannam wakes up at 4:00 AM most days and uses the first couple of hours as quiet reading and writing time. I use the first couple of hours of my day for meditation, reading and exercise; but admittedly it’s more like 7:00 - 9:00 AM. Inspiration and writing time will likely never happen at 4:00 AM for me, but it sure would be nice to experience this on a regular basis!

I was inspired by Pamela and I was inspired by the “conscious company” business owners I read about in the current issue of the magazine. It’s that kind of inspiration that keeps me going in this pursuit of The Healing Farm. I told Pamela last night that as much as I long to do something easier in my quest for a new career, there is something in me that just won’t let The Healing Farm concept go. It’s burning within me. I’ve read over and over that it’s that fire that seems to be what keeps entrepreneurs going when they start a business. If the fire weren’t there, those businesses would likely not succeed. Money is not enough of a desire (Lord knows it’s not what’s keeping me going with The Healing Farm since it is a business that is not yet profitable or fully realized). I’ve written before that personal growth at this level is not an easy path. It’s that passion to help others in their pursuit of practical and natural wellness that keeps me on fire.

It’s also inspiring others while on this path, which keeps me going too. It’s something I did not anticipate at all in this process, but every once in awhile I’ll get validation by someone that I may be on the right path in my ideas and pursuit of THF. It’s that validation and the thought of inspiring others that gives me little kicks in the bottom to propel me forward.

Thank you to Claire and Rae for their lovely notes:

I met Claire briefly last fall when I was in Montana. I was having dinner with a friend and had my Healing Farm bag hanging on the back of my chair. When we finished our meal, one of the servers in the restaurant came up to me and asked where The Healing Farm was located. I laughed and said it didn’t yet exist, but told her about the concept and gave her a business card. Last Friday after I emailed the latest THF newsletter, I got this lovely email from Claire:

Hi Julie,

Been following your posts/events/blogs ever since meeting you last summer at Lucca’s in Helena, Montana.  I feel so inspired by what you are doing!  I’ve recently been searching for work that is a true expression of who I am and would be so excited to talk with you about any little possibility of you doing work here in Montana.  Or, I would also love to know how it was you decided to go for this!  What were your initial steps?  What were your biggest lessons?  What would you say to a young woman with a desire in her heart but no sense of which direction to go first?

And, just a thank you for being a person who follows her heart and emulates what is means to be brave and go for her dream.  Every time I encounter another person like you, it lifts me up and gives me a little hit of hope.
— Best, Claire

I can’t tell you how much this kind of validation helps me to keep going. Inspiring Claire, ended up inspiring me. It’s some kind of a great kharma circle. It never occurred to me that someday I might be mentoring others, but last summer the lovely Tricia in Vancouver, BC contacted me to see if I would have a few mentoring chats with her. We don’t talk as often anymore, but I had fun doing a little mentoring despite feeling like I was getting a little ahead of myself. Claire and I have scheduled a phone call for the beginning of August and if there’s any way I can help propel her forward in her own dreams, I’m going to darned well try.

I also had lunch with a mutual friend of a friend who attended the women’s retreat last January and I was commenting on how fabulous she looked. Rae told me that her lifestyle completely changed after her experience at The Healing Farm retreat. In the six months since the retreat she’s made some hard changes in diet and lifestyle, but is feeling great and credits her experience in helping her to achieve this level of well-being. Said Rae:

After my weekend with the Healing Farm, I felt empowered by information, inspired by other women who were facing similar challenges, and enabled to make healthy choices for myself.  In the six months since the retreat, I have used that momentum to create a new lifestyle that truly supports and nourishes me.
— Rae Richman

Thank you to all that have written to me in the past couple of years. I can’t tell you how much hearing from you helps me and in helping me, you will hopefully be helping others. My hope is that The Healing Farm will ultimately be a property that inspires all sorts of people to live a healthier and more fulfilled life. It’s hard work, but once you start seeing the feedback and results the feeling is so great that it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.

Join our 3rd Act Retreat this fall to hear from our speakers about how to create great change in your own life to renew your purpose and passion!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness!

Announcing Yoga and Bodywork Practitioners for the Fall 3rd Act Retreat!

Excited to announce our 3rd Act retreat practitioner line-up!

Strength Training

Our nutritionist/finance lecturer and three-time Healing Farm retreat participant, Catie Fitzgerald will be offering a special 30-minute light strength building class. Women in mid-life have some very specific needs, especially in regard to building/maintaining healthy bones, regulating hormones (i.e., thyroid, adrenal, etc.), preserving flexibility and balance, and preventing heart disease so we've included this 30-minute functional strength training class lead by Catie.

Yoga and Guided Meditation

I believe yoga (practiced safely and at your level) to be one of the best well-rounded physical activities for any body, but especially for the aging body. I don't do it on a regular basis, but sometimes practice at home on my own or using videos. Every time I get back into it, I appreciate the way it opens up and stretches my body, but also how it makes me focus. It's meditative in it's own right when you truly focus on your poses and your breathing. I'm excited to announce our yoga practitioner for the 3rd Act retreat!

I've known Rachel Heron for several years now and have traded massage for photographing her headshots and yoga poses a couple of times. She's a woman of many talents and has a truly caring practice on many levels now incorporating her more than 20 years experience as a yoga instructor and bodywork practitioner into her life-coaching practice. Although we will not be utilizing Rachel's coaching practice at this retreat, we will experience her deeply caring yoga practice daily and her talented hands as an overflow massage therapist (after Angela's schedule fills up!). Rachel will also lead us in one of our guided meditation sessions.  "Rachel's yoga classes are vigorous, deep, and anchored in therapeutic alignment principles. Her aim is to help students experience a profound inner stillness. We do this by bringing mindful awareness to our physical bodies, engaging our fullest breathing capacity, clarifying the energy body, and investigating the space between our thoughts. Students will leave class feeling alive and refreshed on all levels." You can schedule a private yoga session with Rachel by clicking here.

Bodywork

I've know Angela Bausch for many years and have gotten countless massages from her! I included in the gallery above one of the maternity photos I took of her many years ago. I think it demonstrates her joy and embrace of nature and life. It's who she is at so many levels. Angela has recently moved her practice from Berkeley to Sebastapol, but still comes to Berkeley once a week and shares office space with Chris Kresser. This is how I originally learned of Chris Kresser's work - which of course is what has set me on my current path of healing and career/life change. I feel like it all stemmed from Angela so she holds a particularly special place in my heart. Plus she has very talented and caring hands and will lead you to a blissful state during your massage sessions! You can click here to schedule a massage at the retreat.

Guided Meditation - take two!

The entire team agrees that meditation - even a few minutes a day (I do about ten minutes a day a few times a week) is incredibly important in midlife. Meditation calms the mind. It helps you connect to who you are at a deeper level and helps to re-direct your obsessive and stressful thoughts (I think most of us have those) to a place of calm deep within. It truly is life-changing (it even reduces inflammation!) and so we're incorporating guided meditation sessions in the schedule led by different members of the team so you can get well-rounded advice on how to start (or deepen) your practice. There will also be an art meditation session led by me!

QiGong 

QiGong and Tai Chi are also great meditative practices that incorporate safe, light movement and light strength conditioning. We will be including an intro to ChiGong at this retreat and will announce the practitioner soon!

Looking forward to joining you on the mat, seeing you in guided meditation and seeing your blissful faces after your bodywork. Most of all, I hope to see you and hang out with you at the retreat!

 

A Couple of Tips for Big Change: Physical and Great Life Changes

I’ve communicated a lot on this blog and in my newsletters about my own midlife crisis, why I have been inspired to facilitate two menopause retreats, and why I was inspired to put together the upcoming fall retreat focused on “The 3rd Act” with Patricia Cavanaugh and Ellie Klevins. I started my own midlife crisis in my mid-forties, when I was not only coming to the realization that having a child was never going to happen for me, but also years of chronic health conditions were adding up and really bringing me down. I was also discovering that I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing for my career anymore. Everything seemed to be coming at me at once and adding the heartbreak of aging parents just about put me over the top. Needless to say, the second half of my forties was challenging and I realized I was in a “midlife crisis”.

I’ve done a lot since that discovery. I’ve healed most of my chronic conditions through change of diet and exercise and because of that work was inspired to start The Healing Farm | Retreat business. Since my own healing journey started, I dreamt of an affordable wellness retreat property where I could pass along practical life-changes to prevent and/or alleviate chronic illness and conditions. The Healing Farm concept was born and the “midlife crisis” started turning into my midlife “renaissance” as I started calling it. I know I’m still in midlife crisis because this personal transformation has been anything but easy, but I’ve taught myself enough tools at this point to navigate without freaking out too much.

 When a dear friend told me about the book “Hidden Blessings” by Jett Psaris, PhD I went online almost immediately to buy it. I have to say that I’ve never been into “self help” books - until I went into midlife crisis. The book “Fail Fast, Fail Often” by John D. Krumboltz and Ryan Babineaux was the first book I read that truly inspired me to not be afraid of change. I’m a creature of habit and needed to be inspired by people who were telling me that change and failing is not the end of the world. In fact, it can be the catalyst for a truer and more meaningful existence. This simple midwestern girl was suddenly inspired to challenge herself, find greater meaning, and create a legacy. If my legacy wasn’t going to be a child, then damnit, I was inspired to try to create a legacy of helping others to heal.

That’s what “Hidden Blessings” is about. Moving through midlife crisis to find the hidden gem within. It definitely doesn’t sugar-coat the midlife process, in fact when I read that most midlife crises last 10-12 years my stomach did a little lurch. That means I may not even be halfway through mine. That’s pretty depressing. But the book gives tools to guide you through and Ms. Psaris talks about midlife crisis being more of a metamorphosis rather than a crisis. This I can relate to. She quotes George Elliot:

 “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

Ms Psaris says: “....[the guidance given] comes from my own midlife experience and that of others, draws on many traditions and schools of thought to help us respond fully to the transformative invitation of midlife. That invitation is to step away from taking life literally - and perhaps, superficially - to discover a deep and profound underlying existence. Midlife invites us to surrender the narrowly defined view of ourselves and others that prevails during the first half of life, so that we can become more complex and multi-dimensional beings capable of living the largest lives possible moving forward."

Truth be told, I haven’t yet read the entire book, but I’m very much looking forward to what the author suggests and also what the ladies of The 3rd Act will teach us about transitioning in midlife during The Healing Farm’s fall retreat at Mayacamas Ranch. I’ve been so inspired by this book that I’ve already recommended it to friends realizing that more and more as I open up about my own midlife crisis, my friends are wanting to share their challenges too. It really does help to know that you are NOT the only one.

Another thing I’ve been sharing a lot recently with friends is Magdalena Wszelaki’s  “Cooking for Balance” online workshop. As I hear more and more people talking about stress, fatigue, stomach issues, among a multitude of other things, I’m more and more inspired not only to get The Healing Farm wellness retreat property off the ground, but I’m also inspired to continue to share tips about how we can heal a lot of our chronic issues ourselves just through changing our diet. Sure, it wasn’t JUST diet that helped me to work through my long-term chronic conditions (read here about how I worked through mine), but I’ve learned it’s a really important start and Magdalena’s workshop is informative and practical, plus the workshop video/format makes it easy to follow. I watched the free intro video last fall and bought the program right away - it’s four parts with a primer and very important to watch EVERYTHING. I even watched the free intro video a second time to refresh my memory before I started the program.

Needing to understand what various foods and allergies do to our bodies from a nutritional and scientific perspective is important and Magdalena makes it easy to follow. The cooking part of it is also helpful with charts of do’s and dont’s for various conditions, recipes, food guides and how-to videos. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but if you are tired of being sick and tired, it is so worth it. Having all this information in one easy to follow format is great. It’s like one-stop-shopping for affordable and practical long-term healing (like The Healing Farm concept!). Way easier than researching it all on your own online AND cheaper (and quicker) than going through traditional western medicine and medications to manage your health issues.

One of the reasons I didn’t start the workshop for months is because I’m running two businesses. One of the important things I’ve learned in this midlife journey is re-organizing my time and priorities which is how I found the time to take the workshop. I was finding that I was obsessing over the news and reading it with my coffee every morning. It was getting overwhelming and depressing so I decided that I would allow myself to read the news one weekday morning and continue to dive in deep with my Sunday New York Times. The rest of the mornings I would dedicate to doing something inspiring and worthwhile with my morning coffee. So every morning, I set my timer for half and hour, climb back in bed with my bulletproof coffee (you’ll see why I drink coffee with fat after you take the workshop) and I listen to a small part of the workshop.

My favorite tips so far:

  • Testing for an appropriate amount of stomach acid using a simple baking soda solution (I’ve had trouble with indigestion since my twenties so this is important to me).
  • Re-building stomach acid when it’s too low by drinking warm water with lime, lemon or apple cider vinegar while your stomach is empty.
  • The importance of seed rotation and ridding your life of toxins for balance of hormones.
  • What truly are some worthwhile nutrient-dense foods (like seaweed) and sardines.
  • Adding sprouts to my salads (did you know a large handful of broccoli sprouts is the nutritional equivalent of a whole head of broccoli?).
  • An in-depth study of why my diet needs to be so low in sugar (bad gut bacteria feeds on sugar for one thing!).
  • Why fats are so important for brain health and satiation after meals and why NOT to be afraid of fats - contrary to what I’ve believed all my life.
  • A simple meditative breathing technique that I now incorporate into my almost daily meditation practice - something I’ve easily fit into my day by doing while I’m brewing coffee.

All of the information I’ve been getting through this program I’ve also learned from other sources like through my work with Chris Kresser, the retreats I’ve put on and the Keto Clarity book, but I feel like Magdalena’s program is so concise and realistic I highly recommend checking it out.

Another good place to learn about some of this is the fall 3rd Act Healing Farm retreat! Join us for a look into midlife and nutritional tips for this transition as well!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness!

Three Stone Hearth Retreat: Fermenting Fun!

I’ve been taking the online course by Magdalena Wszelaki called “Cooking for Balance”. It’s a pretty intensive course about balancing your hormones through diet. She covers general nutrition, gut health, sugar detox, adrenal fatigue and much more... I’m loving it! The reason I bring this up is because she stresses ALL THE TIME the importance of daily bone broth and ferments for gut healing and health (which of course I’ve heard many times before in my healing process). I’ve been working on my own bone broths for some time and have had some success in producing a healthful gelatinous broth, but have been a little timid about trying to ferment. All I imagine is a lot of work and jars full of mold. Magdalena has a sauerkraut-making video that’s incorporated into the program, but there’s nothing like a hands-on experience to ease intimidation. That’s why I was so thrilled that Three Stone Hearth incorporated a fermenting and pickling lesson into last Saturday’s Healing Farm retreat.

The first time I went to Three Stone Hearth for a tour, I was blown away not just by their incredibly nutrient-dense whole pre-made foods, but also by their business model and passion about their vision and mission. They are trying out a new slogan, “Social Change in a Mason Jar”, and I think that sums up who they are well. They are just as passionate about the sustainable way their food is packaged as they are about customer service, local, nutrient-dense whole foods PLUS having a business model that is not only good for the business, but also good for the local community, the environment, their suppliers and their co-op team members. They are also just as passionate about food and nutrition education as they are about all of the previous mentioned too. They have so many educational programs available: kitchen tours, fermenting lessons, and detailed lectures about the Westin-Price philosophy of eating and the Three Stone Hearth business model. They are serving their community well and are a business-model inspiration for me as I grow The Healing Farm concept.

I was thrilled to offer this intimate day through The Healing Farm | Retreats and was so happy to have Healing Farm fans around me as Jessica Prentice (one of the co-founders of Three Stone Hearth and author of “Full Moon Feast”) described the genesis of Three Stone Hearth and their business structure in the “holacracy” style. Three Stone Hearth even offers new and aspiring business owners a week-long workshop on holacracy! Jessica took us on a tour of the commercial kitchens and the public areas of the business, introducing us to staff along the way and showing us the incredible process they have set up over the years for food pickup and in-house jar return and recycling programs. During the tour we had our first introduction to Andy, their in-house fermenting scientist extraordinaire, who would be our fermenting lead after our tour. He is so incredibly passionate about what he does and I knew we were in for a fermenting treat!

Our hands-on lesson (that's me in the faux-leopard print, Marge Simpson looking bandana!) included pickling Meyer lemons and making sauerkraut. It was such fun chatting, listening, cutting lemons, learning about how much salt to put in and why, learning about burping jars, and being able to ask questions along the way. As a gift to the participants, we even included their small jars of the Meyer lemon preserves to take home.  Andy made it fun, informative, AND easy. I feel like I could now go out and get some jars and begin - if only I had the room in my house!!!! BUT cheaper to make my own sauerkraut's than buy them, right? I need to make room!

We had an incredible lunch with the staff after our lesson. They were testing out a new recipe (which we got to try) and then Andy discovered that the Meyer lemon preserves were a perfect compliment to the ground beef dish we were testing out, so right then and there they decided to add it to the finished recipe. TSH in action. Jessica ended our day with a two hour lecture on the Westin Price philosophy behind ancestral nutritional health, which was fascinating. She’s so passionate and her lecture was convincing and informative.

Overall, this program by Three Stone Hearth was an A+ experience and I would highly recommend signing up for one of their workshops/classes directly. I will probably offer another Healing Farm day at Three Stone Hearth in the fall or next winter just in case you need a little reminder to check it out. Getting to order their pre-made food and take it home at the end is also an added bonus. I’ve been eating the most nutrient-dense, filling, and satisfying food, since I've been home. I even picked up some liver pate (delicious) since because Magdalena is also trying to get us, that are in the program, to eat more liver. I can definitely eat spoonfuls of pate from Three Stone Hearth. No problem there!

 

3rd Act Guest Blog Post: Find Out More of What We'll Cover in the 3rd Act Retreat This Fall!

I’ve been a professional photographer for 25+ years and photographing weddings for 15 – it’s a demanding job! Everyone assumes it’s all joy, gorgeous venues, flowers, and food. And it is most of the time, but photographing a wedding is not only stressful emotionally (I can’t miss a beat or a moment!), but it’s also incredibly physically demanding. Standing and running around with pounds of equipment strapped to my body for an average of eight hours on top of the mental stress has taken its toll. Plus, hours in front of a computer in a dark room has never been very joyful for someone who loves light, air, and the outdoors.

I’ve been working on transitioning into a new career for the past 4-5 years and it’s been a challenge like no other in my life. Adding mid-life crisis, peri-menopause, aging parents, and the financial burden of my husband and I both exploring new careers at the same time? Well, that’s a whole different level of challenge!

I knew I had to be ready both mentally and physically for this transition into a new life and career and that’s how the seeds of The Healing Farm idea popped into my head. For 4-5 years, I’ve been working on healing my body from the inside out, plus building The Healing Farm | Retreat business into a new career to pursue work I am passionate about for the next 20 or so years of my work life. It’s also my retirement plan (I want to live on The Healing Farm property eventually!). The seeds I started planting a few years ago are finally starting to take root and now, I want to help others prepare for the longer lives we are now living – and look forward to healthy and happy lives.

A friend of mine introduced me to Patricia Cavanaugh, founder of “The 3rd Act” and after a two-time THF retreat participant suggested I create a retreat specifically for women who are experiencing this mid-life and pre/post retirement transition, I figured these two things dovetailed beautifully into a new retreat idea. Serendipity!

I am thrilled to welcome the Third Act to our retreat at Mayacamas Ranch, scheduled for October 29th through November 2nd (my 51st birthday!). Click here for more details about the retreat, but I had a chance to interview Patricia her colleague, Ellie Klevins – who will lead the workshop and here’s what they had to say about their workshop for our retreat:

So, what is the 3rd Act?

Our work guides people (typically age 50+) to develop intentional plans for creating happy and fulfilling lives – and take full advantage of our years ahead. Living longer than previous generations, is both a challenge and an opportunity.  We need to shed old paradigms of aging, find inspiring role models, and learn new skills so we can “begin again.” Our clients are people who are approaching typical retirement age – and know they don’t want a typical retirement!

What are the outcomes participants can expect?
Realizing you are not alone in facing down the aging process. We share many of the same fears and we avoid thinking about what’s uncomfortable for us. Together we uncover those fears and identify ways to take control now.  Denying and pushing away fear takes so much energy – we free up that energy and focus it on what you can do NOW to take control.  Like healthy eating! Exercise!  And having and inspiring plan for the rest of your life!
The principles of Positive Psychology are the foundation for 3rd Act life planning.

We ask and help you answer these fundamental questions:

  • What are your skills and strengths –– and how could you  use these strengths in creating your 3rd Act?

  • What do you want to leave behind – and what do you want to bring forward as you transition?

  • How can you find fulfillment in life’s everyday pleasures?

  • Where will you find new meaning and purpose ?

  • What choices do you have now that were not available to you before?

  • How can you build community, make new friends, deepen your relationships?

And to borrow a line from Mary Oliver, explore your answers to this question: “What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I hope you can join us this fall for this comprehensive retreat. I know I have a lot to learn and am particularly looking forward to the finance portion given by our other speaker, Catie Fitzgerald (look for an upcoming guest post from Catie!). The work I’ve done in the past 4-5 years has begun to change my life in profound ways and my hope is that this retreat can help you to change the course of the rest of your life too. It’s a journey that’s challenging, but challenging like a good workout that you weren’t looking forward to. Once you get going, you get into the groove and feel so good and empowered when you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness! 

Why I’m So Inspired and Happy to Announce The Healing Farm’s Next Immersion Retreat - The 3rd Act: Renewing Your Purpose and Passion Mid-Life

A couple of close friends, when viewing my “manifestation board” (detail above, plus read about this project here), asked why there was an illustration representing a girl in a bathing suit and cap coming out of a pool. It’s true, I am not a swimmer. I’m not a swimmer, but as I’ve gotten older, floating and spending time in, and under, water has become one of my favorite things to do on vacation. I just LOVE being in water. Especially warm water! In my 50th year, I want to learn how to swim. How to REALLY swim.

I was inspired last year by a two-time Healing Farm retreat participant who was embracing her 50th year by doing something either that she never tried before, or just something she loved, each month of her 50th year. She called the year her “jubilee adventures” and I was honored that two of her months during her jubilee adventures included THF retreats! You can read about her experience at the very challenging solo Joshua Tree retreat on my blog. Given my 50th year was fast approaching I was completely inspired by Stephanie to do my own sort of jubilee adventure year.

I turned 50 last November 2nd. Given how challenging the final half of my 40th decade was, I was fearful of 50 and not feeling so celebratory. Despite that, I threw myself a big open house 50th birthday party in a lovely location on the coast of California. I served healthy food, kicked it off with a little yoga session, encouraged my guests to wander and hike the property, and then danced until we had to leave. It wasn’t entirely perfect or what I had envisioned, but learning to let go of expectations has been part of the process I’ve been working through in the past 4-5 years; as I’ve explored how to transition out of my old career and into the new one, as well as how to heal my body and mind from the inside out. I was determined to learn to let go of expectations. It’s a challenge the German in me has faced all of my life. I’m a planner and I like efficiency, but to a fault. Through meditation (just ten minutes a few days per week), I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself and others when things don’t go quite as my idealistic vision has planned. It’s a good thing I figured that out because one of things I’ve read over and over about entrepreneurs is that you need to learn to accept unexpected change, learn how to adapt quickly, and to roll with the punches (not stress about the inevitable ups-and-downs of big change).

I was proud of myself for embracing my birthday party as it unfolded and realized the imperfection of it was the perfect kick-off to my 50th year. I started to open my mind to thinking about how I wanted to continue to embrace it. I’m going through huge changes physically (I’m now one month away from FINALLY being in full menopause) and I’m on the cusp of either making a go of The Healing Farm business that I’ve been working so hard to start for the past two years or letting it go if it proves too much stress for this time in my life. I’m also understanding and feeling I’m on the final leg of my physical healing journey too. All this makes it fitting that in my 50th year jubilee, I didn’t want to plan for what I wanted to accomplish. I thought I would just wait to see what popped up and inspired me.

Not long after my birthday, I walked in the door to my house and found my husband practicing his drumming rudiments. I’m always impressed that he can sit for an hour and practice the same beats over and over again. He’s been doing this for years and it has contributed to his discipline about a lot of things. Even though I recognize that he and I are very different (I’ll never be a perfectionist and I kind of despise “practicing” anything), I wanted to pick something in my 50th year to practice and really learn. I thought briefly of surfing because I know it’s physically GREAT for the body and it’s also meditative but decided it wasn’t realistic. Paying for lessons (not cheap) and driving to the ocean a few times a week was not practical - and I’m all about practical. Then I thought about swimming. It’s a bit more practical, I love the water, it’s good exercise, AND it’s meditative. Voila! I had found my 50th year goal and have been taking private and group swim lessons on and off since January. It’s really hard, but I’m proud of myself for sticking with it and love looking at my manifestation board and seeing that darling woman getting out of the pool in her yellow bathing suit and cap (yellow is definitely the color of my energy AND has always been my favorite color).

I’ve done several other things so far in my 50th year to challenge myself (solo travel and camping, plus writing more!) and to continue to embrace the change I want to make in my life so that I feel like I can leave a legacy behind. I want to feel like I’ve done something to contribute to helping this world, the people in it and our planet in any small way that I can. I want to continue to explore this fascinating path of “finding myself” so I can reach for a higher purpose in my life, become a practical wellness practitioner in my own general way and inspire others on their paths to practical wellness too.

It’s fitting then that the next multi-day retreat for The Healing Farm will be with Patricia Cavanaugh and Ellie Klevins of The 3rd Act. They will lead a workshop taking participants through much of what I’ve explored on my own for the last 4-5 years to get to the place of profound growth I’m in now. You can read more about the retreat on The Healing Farm’s site and I’ll also be posting a short Q&A with Ellie and Patricia on the blog so you can get a better idea of the work we’ll be doing at the retreat. I’ll also be welcoming three-time THF retreat participant, Catie Fitzgerald. With her brand-new MS in nutrition and her 20+ years of financial consulting, Catie will be covering how to transition your body and finances (I’ll be paying especially close attention to the finance portion of this retreat!) into mid and later life.

The final day of the retreat just happened to land on my 51st birthday (the retreat dates were the only dates still available this year at Mayacamas Ranch). At first I was a little bummed to “work” on my birthday; but then I let go of all of my past birthday expectations and embraced the fact that wrapping up this retreat with a group of women with whom I’ve just shared a potentially profound experience couldn’t be a more fitting end to my 50th year jubilee of unplanned exploration and learning! It actually couldn’t be more perfect and if for some reason it isn’t, I’m ok with that too!

I hope to see you in the fall and PS - that picture of me (going gray!) was taken not long after my 50th by my friend Laura Turbow who does lovely boudoir photo sessions of all women, but especially women in their "3rd act"!

 The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness!

June 3rd! Upcoming Intimate Three Stone Hearth Retreat: The Importance of an Ancestral Diet, Regular Bone Broth and Fermented Foods!

I'm getting more and more excited for The Healing Farm's one-day retreat at Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley! There's only room for ten and we have a few spots left, so please sign up sooner than later.

I've FINALLY been listening to an incredible hormone balance workshop called "Cooking for Balance" with Magdalena Wszelaki, the nutritionist behind the site Hormones & Balance. I just love how informative Magdalena is about the importance of gut health, liver detox, inflammation reduction, etc. in helping restore hormone balance in the body. Although the upcoming Three Stone Hearth retreat is NOT female only (we can ALL benefit in huge ways by eating a whole foods, ancestral diet), fermented foods and bone broth go a long way in helping women restore balance in the body and I would highly recommend taking one of Magdalena's workshops.

I was just listening this morning to one of the sections of the "Cooking with Balance" workshop and Magdalena brought up - yet again - how daily doses of fermented foods and bone broth (collagen) are so instrumental in keeping the gut healthy and the body balanced naturally. I've been trying to add fermented foods into my diet and through trial and error have realized that for my body, I can tolerate sauerkraut well. For a while I was adding Kambucha into my smoothies but have realized that I get bloating from kambucha so now try to limit my intake. Sauerkraut on the other hand is yummy and I can put it easily on a cooked brat (no bun!) which fits in well with the high fat eating plan I'm currently trying out (for my brain health and weight loss). Jury is still out for the Ketogenic Diet and my body (I'm only two weeks in) and I'll update as I move further along.

What I do believe in wholeheartedly and have embraced almost 100% is an ancestral diet and what better place to go to learn the basics than to Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley  - a business that has been at the forefront of ancestral eating and the importance of bone broth. Starting the week before out retreat, participants can go to Three Stone Hearth's site and pre-order whole pre-made foods, house made kambucha and of course the most collagen-filled bone broth I have ever seen! Participants can place orders starting Thursday, May 25th through Wednesday, May 31st for pickup on retreat day!

Although I try to make my own bone broth (both beef and chicken), I've only ONCE reached the level of collagen that Three Stone Hearth has perfected. It's also hard to get the organic grass-finished and pastured raised bones and chicken feet necessary to get that amount of collagen so ordering pre-made bone from from a reliable source can be key. It's not cheap, that's for sure, but if you're kicking off an elimination diet, trying to reduce systemic inflammation to reduce chronic pain and illness or want to strengthen your immune system or balance your hormones and don't have time to start learning to make a collagen-rich bone broth on your own, this would be a good place to start.

Same goes for fermented foods. Magdalena does a few video lessons in making fermented foods in her "Cooking for Balance" workshop, but we will have a firsthand demo at the retreat and will even have a little bit to take home with us! If you want more than our little bit we've made ourselves, you can pre-order your TSH fermented foods and drinks to take home with you too. 

If you forget to pre-order, rest-assured they have a tiny storefront in which you can pick up foods on-site. It's just a more limited selection.

Since I've started my ancestral heath journey, I've always shied away from doing such "hippie dippy" things as making bone broth and fermenting foods, but as I go deeper and realize how much better my body feels, I've realized that it's fun and CHEAPER to make my own. I've only gone as far as making the bone broth at home and am excited to learn fermenting and pickling on-site on June 3rd with the experts where I can ask questions and see firsthand (I'm a visual learner!) how it's done so I'm more comfortable exploring a little more at home.

I've been using Dr. Axe's bone broth recipe for my own beef broth and  Chris Kresser's for chicken. I find that I get the best results for the chicken broth by using chicken feet (I've found them at the Berkeley Bowl). I roast the chicken first via Chris Kresser's recipe and then crack and use the bones, veggies and add the chicken feet and cook for 48 hours in my Instant Pot.  For the Dr. Axe recipe I buy knuckle and beef marrow bones from Prather Ranch at the Temescal Farmer's Market.

Happy cooking and healing everyone and I hope to see you at The Three Stone Hearth Retreat! Sign up here!:

Inspired and On Fire: What One Quote and One E-Mail can do to Stoke the Fires Within

This is the magnetic board, next to my desk.

This is the magnetic board, next to my desk.

I was recently reading the most current issue of the only magazine I read (besides the Sunday New York Times magazine) and one quote really hit me hard. I believe Conscious Company Magazine is one of the most important publications out there today and it inspires me every time knowing there are other business owners and entrepreneurs who are passionate about building responsible businesses. In the about section of the Conscious Company Magazine it says they are here to , "share inspiring, cutting edge stories about business as a force for good, host educational events and workshops, and connect talented individuals with purpose-driven work, all with the higher purpose of elevating consciousness in the business world."

The current issue is about hope and features various articles about how social entrepreneurship and other “conscious” for-profit businesses can help build a more sustainable future for the earth and for its inhabitants: starting with responsible business practices. The article I was reading was “19 Social Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017”. They featured “inspirations, recommendations and recent lessons from the social entrepreneurs” they interviewed. The first person featured was Jessica Norwood, Founder of “The Runway Project”. It always seems that just when I feel like throwing in the towel I see something that inspires me to pick myself up by the bootstraps and keep moving forward with The Healing Farm concept. Jessica’s quote now hangs on the magnetic board next to my desk (pictured above) alongside The Healing Farm’s trademark certificate which is something that took WAY longer than I thought it would take to obtain, but with perseverance actually happened. It now hangs where I can see it every day to remind myself that I worked hard for it so I need to make The Healing Farm happen!

The quote they featured is: “If you believe, stick with it. Too many people give up right before the tide changes.” 

Almost everything I read about obtaining big dreams or striving for something more in life states that it’s hard and it’s full of challenges. It’s what I experience almost everyday in this start-up phase of The Healing Farm and it’s important for me to see that others struggle too, but with great challenges comes great accomplishment. I’m in a tricky place right now straddling between letting go of my photography business (but still needing the income) and trying to find the time to focus on growing The Healing Farm business and it’s really easy sometimes to think about how being a bartender in Mexico might be a lot more fun and WAY less stressful. It’s also a slow process starting this business and I get frustrated, wanting to build The Healing Farm right away. When I get overwhelmed thinking about it, I truly want to throw in the towel and pursue something easier in my middle age. Some days I truly feel that way, but then there are days when I have such a great confidence in this dream and KNOW it’s a missing link in the healthcare industry. Healing centers and places shouldn’t just be for the wealthy, yet so many are built for the luxury market. Healing places also don’t have to be just for those already dedicated to a yoga or meditation practice. Healing places don’t have to be western medicine based either. I want to create a true natural healing place for all and I don’t want to give up. It needs to happen and I’ll figure out how to make it so.

After mulling over the quote for a week or so, an email landed in my inbox and I want to share it with you here. This is not the first time I’ve received an email like this and it sets me on fire to build The Healing Farm. I’ve taken out names and paraphrased to protect privacy, here it is:

Julie,

I've been following you for a while on Facebook and tonight while searching for a friend in need your site popped up. This is a random chance but do you or the community you've created offer short term healing housing opportunities (I don't think that exists as I think I made that up)...

Here's the situation: I have a friend, named ______, battling _______ disease and it feels like she literally has her last opportunity to live.

{Through my business I try to give her as much organic nourishment as I can}, but she needs so much more. She needs a place to heal. She's _____ single mother of 2, lives {in a supported situation} and is unable to care for her children. Her current living situation is very unstable and unhealthy. I feel in my heart of hearts if she could just go away and heal - she has a chance to win this battle.

That's where your site popped up in my search. I know it's a random outreach but I thought it couldn't hurt.

If you or someone you know have any leads to help manifest this idea I welcome it.

Either way... keep up the awesome work and I hope one day to be at one of your retreats and I'll remind you I was the crazy lady with the crazy idea.

Thanks for even reading this!

Cheers,

_________

This reinforced to me that the tide is indeed changing. More and more people are following The Healing Farm and are inspired by the vision and want me to make my dream come true, to help others. After seeing this email come through, I’m inspired to try to create a crowd-funding campaign to get seed money from passionate people who want this property to happen. Letting go of the photography business to focus fully on The Healing Farm could be the next step I need to focus on how to make The Healing Farm a reality.

Healing myself and healing others. It’s what I’m working toward and it’s a missing link in the health and wellness industry. Let’s together make this happen! The Healing Farm. Cultivating practical wellness!

Solo Travel: Inspiring Women to be Brave and to Explore Yourself

Chatting with a man with no pants. A desert super bloom with flowers as far as the eye can see. Dancing solo by the fire under the full starry night sky in the warm desert breeze. Plus, unexpectedly learning to accept changes in my idealized plans somewhere along the way. This is living. This is my joy. I finished both “The Untethered Soul”  and “The Crossroads of Should and Must” on this trip. Appropriate reading for a solo desert camping trip. And all stemming from a decision to travel by myself before and in between Southern California photo shoots.

I camped in Joshua Tree solo several years ago when I was at the very beginning of my journey to find out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Husband? I decided resolutely that he’s who I want to grow old with and since that decision, we’ve gotten closer and closer (we’ve been together for twelve years and married for almost nine). I decided about a year ago that he’s my soulmate and I said it out loud in December. Seems a little strange after all these years to finally come to these solid conclusions, but I now understand the concept of a slow burn vs. the beginning fireworks of a relationship. It’s the slow burn that ends up being sustainable and once those coals are lit, it gets stronger and stronger. Camping solo for four days can do that for you. It can show you your greatest heights and loves and passions and your deepest fears and misgivings. But mostly it can bring you to depths of understanding about yourself and your place in this universe.

tent_camping

The reassurance about my marriage was an unexpected outcome of that first trip, but the journey I started on that first solo trip to Joshua Tree really was that of The Healing Farm. I read the book “Fail Fast, Fail Often” in my tent and at the same time I was seeing a career counselor. I had already decided I no longer wanted to be a wedding photographer and had started dreaming of a place called “The Healing Farm”. From that trip and the work I did with the career counselor, I have started building The Healing Farm brand, I’ve held single and multi-day retreats and continue to try to grow into this new role of founder of a dream. Founder of a big dream. I needed this time alone in the desert to reaffirm. So far I still don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m on the right path for me. One of opening and healing. I’m finding the dreamer in me that’s always been there. I’ve not trusted that dreamer completely and I’m still hesitant, but I’m getting closer to letting go and letting her take over again. It’s about time after 40 or so years.

As I read more about Buddhism and meditating I’m learning to let go. Learning to be the dreamer again. I’m learning to let go of my fears and am embracing living in the moment and trusting that if I do what I love, and love what I do that success will follow. Success is a funny word though. Success to me doesn’t have a monetary meaning. Success to me is finding what my true passion is. Being excited to go to work, living and working with enthusiastic people in a beautiful setting and helping others in the process would be the greatest successful outcome of my life. I understand all businesses need to make a profit, but there’s a new movement in business in which profit is not the driving force behind the vision. Workplace culture, helping others, helping this planet, showing others the ecstasy one can find in nature and the joy and energy received from natural healing, meditation and gratitude will lead to a successful business. I’m so happy I found “Conscious Company” magazine. It’s something that has put a definition to what I’m trying to do with The Healing Farm.

As I finished “The Untethered Soul”, I was struggling with learning to let go of the energy of the spring breakers surrounding me while I tried to camp in “solitude” at Joshua Tree. There are “quiet hours” at any campground and being 19-21 year old kids on spring break I should be glad they weren’t more obnoxious and I was actually really happy they were out camping and hiking at Joshua Tree rather than participating in wet t-shirt contests in Ft. Lauderdale, but still I was hoping for the peace and joy I found the night before camping at The Salton Sea and had a hard time “letting go”. So I came up with a plan that would keep me from thinking about it obsessively and spending my precious time annoyed (which is what I would normally do). I’m sure this is not what the book had in mind for letting go --planning is really not part of it, but if I didn’t do that I would have been stressed the whole time.

Basically on the second day (my first full day) I decided I would go on a huge hike (in the plan anyway) and to go early enough that when I returned, the spring breakers would still be out hiking since they would likely get a later start. Then when I came back to camp, I would spend a few mid-to-late afternoon quiet hours napping and reading while they were still out. As they filtered back into their camps, I would go out in the car to explore some areas along the road that had some wildflowers I wanted to check out and I would come back around dusk to start my fire and dinner. Sure enough, when I got back all the spring break camps around me had their music going (not too loud thankfully), but I was prepared with my plan and therefore remained pretty zen. I cooked my dinner and when it became apparent they would keep their music going, I sat by the fire for the rest of the evening with my headphones on being inspired by my own music. Part of the plan had been to ask the biggest group if they were planning on staying the next night and if they said yes, I decided I would pack it up and move on to another plan for my last solo night. Indeed they were staying, so without upset I packed it up the next morning and went back to the Salton Sea for a little photo shoot of “kickass solo camper Julie with the axe” and moved on to Palm Springs to stay in comfort at a place called “The Nurturing Nest”. My body was craving water at that point so staying at the Nurturing Nest and soaking in their natural hot springs water was lovely and I was able to take a long shower and prep for my re-entry into the real world. Amazingly, my plan worked and I didn’t get all worked up about the spring breakers ruining my camping trip plan. Normally I’m pretty good about expressing my displeasure with other’s noise in peaceful places, but I decided I didn’t want to dampen their pretty wholesome spring break camping fun which is another reason I came up with another plan.

palm_tree_rows

Learning to let go, not being too tied to a plan and accepting change is all part of the person I’m trying to be. Building this business of The Healing Farm is a constant high and low, feeling of being “untethered” and unsure and feeling like I’m all alone. There’s nothing like traveling alone (doesn’t have to be camping!) to realize that you can rely on yourself, roll with the punches, accept changes and be confident that you’re going to learn some great lessons along the way.

I would love to offer immersion retreats for women to feel more empowered to have experiences like this. When I got to Los Angeles after being out in the desert, I stayed with an old roommate. She laughed when I got out of the car and said she half expected me to be carrying the axe from my Salton Sea photo shoot. Perhaps on that future immersion retreat, I’ll get axes branded with The Healing Farm logo to give as gifts to my kickass women’s retreat participants.

Cultivating practical wellness means a lot of things to me. Reducing inflammation in the body through an elimination diet and finding what works for you to get rid of or manage your chronic conditions, building a regular meditation practice into your life (even if it’s a few minutes a day), finding a realistic sustainable exercise plan are all a big part of what I want to teach at The Healing Farm, but also finding that place in you where you feel strong and confident is important too. These are all things that are hard to start, but inexpensive and easy to maintain in the long run and in finding what works for you, you will learn to naturally thrive. I promise. It’s happening for me and I can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel of uncertainty. I’m becoming “Untethered” and ready to really live.

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness.

NeuroMuscular Reprogramming

I've written before about my chronic back pain in the SI joint area and that the work I did with Chris Kresser brought my eight year chronic pain from feeling it 60-100% of the time down to 0-20% of the time just by reducing inflammation in my body, but alas, the pain still lurks. Although reducing inflammation has been life-changing in reducing the pain, the underlying issue is still unresolved

For my 50th birthday, my in-laws gave me a gift of an initial consultation and treatment with Jocelyn Olivier of Healus Neuro-Rehab Center. I had never heard of "NeuroMuscular Reprogramming" but my mother-in-law was pretty enthusiastic so I gave it a try. From the minute Jocelyn started working on me I was amazed at her quick and confident actions. I was literally in good hands with someone I could tell could "feel" my body and what it needed. 

NeuroMuscular Reprogramming, or NMR, is an elegant and efficient protocol for figuring out and correcting the coordination dysfunctions that cause most musculo-skeletal pain, joint misalignment and degeneration. It can be done clothed or in the context of your regular bodywork practice. It fits inside your other modalities and increases the effectiveness of your work.

I'm still working with Jocelyn and one of her other therapists (Terez!) to try to unpeel the layers of years of corrections my body has made from past injuries. In my last session, Jocelyn had me in a position and started pressing on a point in my lower back that actually pinpointed where the deep pain was coming from. This is something nobody has been able to do because the pain was so deeply buried. At first it hurt a lot, but she kept pressing but then the pain diminished little by little and when finally it was completely gone I started crying. Even though I still feel the pain (we haven't quite gotten to it 100%), through all the work she's done thus far, something was finally released and the crying was an emotional release from years of pain being buried deep within.

I'm pretty passionate about the work she's doing and thought I would share this walking workshop she's offering on April 29th. I have a commitment already for that day, but I'm going to try to work this walking program into my schedule if I can and hope I see some familiar faces!

Working with Healus is not inexpensive, but if you have a chronic pain issue and reducing inflammation alone isn't quite getting to the bottom of it, maybe give it an initial consultation and see if this therapy might be a good fit for you.