Women's Health Topics This M.D. is Not Shy to Talk About!

Dryness? Low libido? "Urgency"? And we thought hot flashes, weight gain and emotional ups and downs were difficult enough to encounter during peri menopause and menopause!

Since I am lucky enough to do marketing photography for Rancho La Puerta (the #1 destination spa in the world according to Travel and Leisure readers for four out of the past six years), I was at "The Ranch" (as it's lovingly called by its many repeat guests) last week. Given that I'm producing a women's health retreat in January, I was thrilled to learn that there was a gynecologist on site who was to be speaking about women's health issues that are not so easy to discuss. Even with your gynecologist! 

Dr. Lauren Streicher, M.D. practices in my original hometown of Chicago and was NOT shy about discussing "uncomfortable" women's health issues. In fact she was downright funny which is why she makes these topics so approachable. It's no wonder she's been a guest on Oprah!, Dr. Oz and Good Morning America (among others).

I'll be ordering her book and will have it on hand at The Healing Farm's Women's Hormone Balance and Detox Health Retreat January 13th - the 16th at Mayacamas Ranch (a few spots left!) since she does talk a bit about natural solutions for many issues. Among my favorites......

Why not combine a solution for the three issues I mention above? Vaginal dryness (about 50% of women experience during and post-menopause), Low Libido (can be partially due to discomfort due to the following AND preceding issues) and urinary incontinence (about 30-40% of women in middle age experience stress incontinence). 

Did you know that the more you have sex, the more maintained lubrication is? Did you know that strengthening the pelvic floor (yes, kegel exercises) will intensify your orgasms and also help with urinary urgency (the stress kind). Keeping up with maintenance "down there" is the number one way you can naturally keep these issues at bay during your middle years! 

Dr. Streicher speaks in WAY more detail about all of these issues both during her talks and presumably in her book, but my favorite (and based on the discussion at dinner that night and breakfast in the morning - everyone else's too) is a device called "intensity" created by a company called "Pour Moi". Apparently most women who try to do kegel exercises are not doing them correctly and not only that, don't keep up with them long enough to properly strengthen the pelvic floor in order to alleviate these chronic midlife health issues. 

Believe it or not, you can see a certified pelvic physical therapist who can properly help you strengthen your pelvic floor (and in some cases, Dr. Streicher does refer patients to them), but the original Pour Moi device that was created helps you strengthen your pelvic floor for a lot less money AND in the comfort of your own home. The device vibrates when you are doing your kegels properly and after 4-6 weeks (4-6 days a week for ten minutes a day) your pelvic floor will be sufficiently strengthened and in most cases, the stress urgency will be gone. PLUS, you should be experiencing more intense orgasms which presumably will make you want to have more sex, which then helps keep everything healthy and lubricated. Voila!

But wait - it wasn't the original Pour Moi device that had everyone talking. Ahhh. Then Dr. Streicher showed us a picture of the "intensity" version. The company got smart and realized they could help women get into more of a routine by making it more fun. Why not add some external stimulation and add an orgasm to the exercise plan? Ha! Brilliant. Not only would you remember to do (and look forward to doing) your exercises, but you can also have fun while doing them AND help keep it all lubed up down there. Now this made everyone giggle and then seriously discuss!

According to Dr. Streicher, in most cases, there's no reason for 50% or more women to experience these common symptoms of aging and there's REALLY no reason we should feel uncomfortable discussing these issues. ESPECIALLY with our gynecologist! This is one of the reasons I wanted to create a women's retreat. I want us to come together and discuss these issues that so many of us experience in a comfortable setting amongst other women so that we can bring that discussion openly out to other women. Let's not be shy about these things!

I hope you can join us in January to hear Dr. Amy Nett talk about an ancestral functional medicine approach to natural solutions for women's health issues during middle age.

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness!


Washington Post Features Rancho La Puerta in the Sunday Travel Section - Two of my Photos Used!

A Thrill that two of my photos were used to illustrate a travel story in the Washington Post about Rancho La Puerta - a little bummed to not get a photo credit, but hey, visits to RLP are enough!!!

A Thrill that two of my photos were used to illustrate a travel story in the Washington Post about Rancho La Puerta - a little bummed to not get a photo credit, but hey, visits to RLP are enough!!!

I always call it my "favorite place in the world" and I think Dina Mishev writing for the Washington Post hits the nail right on the head when she describes what's so special about Rancho La Puerta. It's precisely ALL of what she writes about that has inspired me to want to found The Healing Farm: Rancho La Puetra-esque with more of an affordable cost structure, a focus on functional healing.... and meat!

Funny. The first time I went to Rancho La Puerta was probably almost the same week and year as Dina! I was lucky enough to be called on to help them re-build their photo library for their marketing materials. I'm now proud to say many of my photos have become some of the iconic shots in the RLP marketing materials including a lovely photo of my friend Patti enjoying the view under Alex's oak, my friend Lyn on the cover of the spa brochure, a photo of a visiting yoga instructor doing dancer's pose and of course that outdoor shot at the lounge building with the wisteria which has ben one of the post cards you receive in your room every time you visit. See my photography site for more samples of my photos from RLP.

Whether I build The Healing Farm or not, RLP will always be one of my favorite places to go in the world and I'll always be honored to tell the newbies on the bus that this is my _________ time (currently eight) that I've been to "The Ranch" and that I have the honor of getting to know the guests so well having fun with them while photographing. They all are more than happy to sign model releases because everyone is on board with promoting our "favorite place in the world"!

The second of my photos used to illustrate the Washington Post's article on Rancho La Puerta.

The second of my photos used to illustrate the Washington Post's article on Rancho La Puerta.



Favorite Place in the World!

Rancho La Puerta

The wisteria was in bloom, the hills were green, the organic garden was brimming with asparagus, lettuce and all sorts of other goodness that we ate in our meals and the guests were, as always such fun to meet and all so interesting! I've posted a few of my personal photos here, but you'll have to go to Rancho La Puerta's site to see the pro pics!

I am truly blessed to go to Rancho La Puerta to do photography for their marketing materials. It's been an inspiration to me since the first time I went and will always be my favorite place in the world, unless I successfully build The Healing Farm property! 

I learned so much this time about the history of the ranch, attending a lecture series by Ludwig Max Fischer PHD and watching a new documentary about the life of Rancho La Puerta founder Edmond Szekely and the origins of this first wellness spa in the world (established in the forties!). Edmond Szekely was so ahead of his time studying other cultures as well as ancient cultures to uncover various natural healing, spiritual  and meditation practices. Founding the ranch in the forties with his wife Deborah the now hugely successful wellness spa started as a tiny camp in Tecate Mexico. Deborah often comes to the ranch to speak to the guests and I was fortunate that Max's appearance and lectures last week also coincided with a visit by Deborah who is still active in health and wellness advocacy. Deborah's "people's lobby" called Wellness Warrior should be an inspiration to all who yearn to get back to whole foods and simple, organic and local agriculture practices and want to lobby congress about big ag!

I would highly recommend watching "Tree of Life, The Living Legacy of Edmond Szekely" here if you want to be inspired by a true forward thinker about our health and longevity and natural healing processes:

Viva Rancho La Puerta! - until the next time.....


Inspiration From a True Renaissance Woman - Leslie McGuirk

From the blog of Leslie McGuirk

From the blog of Leslie McGuirk

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite places in the world is Rancho La Puerta in Tecate Mexico. I'm fortunate enough to go there about once a year to photograph for their marketing materials. A couple of years ago, one of their visiting speakers was Leslie McGuirk. Serendipity! I am so inspired by this woman and all of her talents!

When Leslie was at the ranch, my sister-in-law happened to be with me and was excited to see a talk by an astrologer on the speaker schedule. I was skeptical, but have always loved reading my horoscope once in a while and curiosity was peaked! We went to see her speak and I ended up going to the rest of her lectures that week and then ended up getting a private consultation to get my chart read! No matter what you believe, life will always be a true mystery and this was such a fascinating process! 

Leslie and I have kept in touch and when I announced the Mayacamas Ranch retreat with Chris Kresser, Leslie contacted me and was so excited about attending because she has followed Chris Kresser for a long time. I was exited to talk to Leslie about the possibility of speaking at the retreat, but alas, due to a family emergency she can't attend. She forwarded her latest websites so I could check out what she's been up to lately and as always, I was inspired by her. 

Not only is Leslie a world-famous astrologer, but she's also a well-known children's book illustrator and author! As I poured through her fascinating work online, I was particularly struck by both the blog post above which was in relation to a lecture she recently did at Rancho La Puerta, but also her Quirkyville cast of characters. I told her it reminded me of a long-ago experience when I was working at a tiny ad agency in San Francisco.  Our VERY quirky Creative Director exclaimed one day that our small cast of 11 at the agency were equivalent to "The Land of Misfit Toys". My dear friend who was on the account side, was a little insulted by this comment, but I laughed and said I was proud to be compared to the "misfit toys". I remembered that scene so well from "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", the classic Christmas show I watched as a kid. I remember thinking  way back then that I loved the quirkiness of the land of misfit toys and wouldn't mind being a part of it! So when I saw Leslie's Quirkyville characters, I decided I wanted that to be my next gift for my friend's kids.

It's ok to be different! Embrace it and don't be afraid to be quirky. It may just lead you to that place "where the magic happens"!

THF - Cultivating Practical Wellness!