From the Sounds of Silence to Perpetual Motion

Just a few snaps since the beginning of the year...

And it’s time to write. And write. And write. This is a long one for a lot has happened in the last five months...

I’m sitting at a writer’s retreat house in the Eastern Sierras right now and finally putting “pen to paper” after a few long and transformative months. A couple months back, I was invited to stay here to photograph for the retreat’s marketing materials. Even after making a huge life decision to move out of the Bay Area and with the move scheduled for a couple of weeks from now, I decided it was important for Brennan and I to go on this little trip. Given our ten year wedding anniversary is June 3rd and we'll be unpacking and living in a trailer for our anniversary, we also decided to celebrate our ten years together here in this spectacular place. I also went forward with a previously planned trip to Mercey Hot Springs with friends (and a couple of blissful days alone with Brennan). What I’ve discovered in the last few months has been life-changing and I want it to be a part of what’s taught at The Healing Farm and The Healing Farm | Retreats in addition to the nutrition and exercise components.

Something I’ve learned through meditation (and lots of self-exploration) is to not let my emotions and ego rule my life and decision-making and to also go a little more with the flow rather than letting situations, planning and fear rule my life and schedule; something my new “boss” echoed when I was racing around trying to make a big decision and freaking out a bit a few weeks ago. Made me feel like where I was headed was in the right direction (thanks, Steven).

My “boss” you ask? For someone who’s been self-employed and has started two businesses, this is pretty freaky to say! So let me explain what has happened since my last heart-wrenching blog entry!

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE

My 50th year ended with some major challenges (see my previous blog post for more details). I was writing a business plan for The Healing Farm and had planned for a big women’s retreat to keep the business moving in a direction which would give me more experience and more visibility for The Healing Farm | Retreats. I was keeping my head above water until Mayacamas Ranch (the retreat property at which I was to hold my last retreat) burned down. It was three weeks before my 51st birthday, the end of the wedding photography season and I was in the intense Renaissance business plan writing program twice a week. Try finishing a business plan while trying to resuscitate the women’s retreat and also go away for the holidays. Not an easy end to the year.

2018 rolled in with the month of January:

  • Making the decision not to move forward with rescheduling the retreat since I couldn’t find a location that I truly felt could accommodate my specifications and having to let my retreat team and guests know of this decision
  • Starting to try to work out the financial losses with Mayacamas Ranch (huge!)
  • Finishing the business plan + graduation

Thankfully I had all of my photo projects behind me, I split the “best business plan” award at graduation and presumably had a “plan” for moving forward with The Healing Farm business - after all that’s what a business plan is for! I should have been rearing to go to start working toward making 2018 the year I took a leap of faith forward with The Healing Farm business! But one gorgeous Saturday, I went to a shoreline cleanup event with the Trident Project which is a non-profit a business friend started to build awareness about pollution in our oceans.

Something happened that morning as I realized the enormity of the planet’s peril. I spent an hour working on about a six square foot patch on the East Bay shoreline. Picking up tiny pieces of plastic, styrofoam, hypodermic needles, plastic straws, plastic portable flossing devices (I’m all for flossing, but let’s get rid of those things. They are EVERYWHERE), plastic caps, etc. This didn’t even include all the micro-fibers which is what my friend who is in the sailing clothing business wants to build awareness about. I had about a ¼ mile, maybe ½ mile walk to get back to my car and I couldn’t move beyond a snail’s pace. I got home and slept for two hours and when I woke up I just couldn’t get my energy back. And the next day was the same. And the next day was the same. I entered into what I might now call a depression and deep exhaustion. I was:

  • Exhausted from running one business while starting another
  • Exhausted emotionally from the devastating wildfires which even affected my business in a big way and so many others who lost lives and homes.
  • Exhausted financially
  • Exhausted worrying about the future of this planet
  • Exhausted by our political climate and situation
  • Exhausted from writing a 45 page business plan complete with two years of financials (something is is not in my natural tool house)
  • Exhausted trying to change my life
  • Exhausted from perimenopause
  • Exhausted from my mid-life crisis which is in about year 7 (yes, really!)
  • Exhausted worrying about family illness

I just couldn’t get motivated. So I didn’t. I decided to let myself rest as long as I needed. I guess you could say I took a sabbatical. I’m sure to most people this sounds like a luxury and I admit I’m lucky to be self-employed. It was a huge financial risk and setback, but I strongly believe this kind of time of reflection should be available to all of us. It’s a crime that our workforce encourages long hours and constant work and it’s a disservice to all Americans that the majority are underpaid and overworked with only 1-3 weeks of vacation for the typical person. I’ve thought about a lot of big issues during this time of reflection and sabbatical and feel strongly that it shouldn’t be a luxury for just a few.

So this is what I did:

  • I slept as long as I liked
  • I took the time to pray on my knees
  • I took the time for longer meditations
  • I took the time to not only read Jett Psaris’ book “Hidden Blessings” (about midlife crisis), but also to do every exercise in the book and wrote them down in a journal
  • I took the time to hike
  • I only answered essential emails to keep my businesses running on pilot light
  • But mostly, I just took time to be with myself, in my house and let my mind run free

And here's what happened from my time of silence:

INTO (almost) PERPETUAL MOTION

I found the time to help care for a dying friend and her children - something that has had a profound effect on my life. I had the honor of taking her to Ocean Beach for what turned out to be her last time.

I was re-contacted by a friend who in the spring of 2017 asked if I would be interested in helping to develop a 50 acre organic farm in the Sierra Foothills.

Just as I was finishing the “Hidden Blessings” book, I was contacted by a woman who was interested in talking about partnering on a retreat property in Idaho. It wasn’t the right fit/place or timing, but she sent me a message the week I finished Jett’s book. Knowing I was wrestling with some big decisions and emotions, there was a new moon that coming Friday and with a new moon (she told me) it’s a good time to contemplate big decisions so she suggested I take some time that Friday to reflect on a big decision. Sounded a little woo woo to me and then I read one of the last exercises in Jett’s book which suggested a “meditation” in nature. More of a walking meditation. A time to go out into nature and connect in a profound way to the universe and myself. More woo woo, but I thought the coincidence was just too big. Friday came and I announced to Brennan that I was going to pack a small daypack and go to our local regional park and spend the day. I planned on hiking a three mile loop and brought food, a little pot vape pipe (yes, it’s legal now in CA!) a blanket and a backpacking chair and I had the most blissful day of reflection I’ve ever had. It took me seven hours to do that loop. I stopped and communed with nature. I felt the sun on my face. I laughed and I cried. I slept and I hiked. I had a vision of wanting more security in my life and that I wanted to be cared for and then I realized I’m cared for in an incredibly deep emotional way by my husband which matters the most (to me). I realized that although I knew we needed to move out of the Bay Area I wasn’t interested in moving outside of my beloved West Coast (unless it’s back to the Midwest with my family) and I realized I still wanted to pursue The Healing Farm, but that maybe I needed to take a different path to get there. That few hours of bliss lifted me out of that depression and malaise just enough that I could see the point of light and plan the next tiny steps to get fully beyond that dark place. The pot helped too.

And then more and more profound things started to happen.

I opened my mind up to exploring the offer in the Sierra Foothills further and took baby steps to take a realistic look at what it would be like to move and the opportunity the experience offered to help develop a small retreat property on an organic farm. Wasn’t that what I wanted The Healing Farm to be on a larger scale anyway? Brennan and I went for a night. Then we went for a whole week, then I typed up a proposal and went back a couple more times on my own and slowly it started to occur to me that it was the absolute right next step to take. I could spearhead a retreat property development at very low risk to myself and at the same time take a baby step out of the Bay Area which allows me to finish out my 2018 wedding photography season and still see my friends and family in the Bay Area which made the idea of a move not so heart-wrenching. And so it happened and we started making plans for a move at the end of May. I started working part-time for the farm a few weeks ago and love every minute of it. Every time I go to the farm for a night, I don’t want to leave. The air is clear. I can collect fresh eggs from the henhouse. I can eat all the organic produce I can get my hands on. I can envision a retreat property and hosting my own healing retreats once it’s finished (or rustic retreats while it’s in development). I can live with a little community of people who care about the land and what we eat and how to live their lives mindfully. If I hadn’t given myself that time to relax and reflect, I’m not sure I would have been ready to take such a big leap and despite the fact that we’re going to move into a 26’ trailer and will have to walk outside to get to a shower and a toilet, I’m learning to embrace living so minimally for a little while. We’ll have nature and an organic farm, two mountain rivers and three warm and sunny seasons to live outdoors. It’s going to be a challenge. For sure. BUT I’ve built up my energy reserves in the last few months and am truly ready to jump in and give this next step my all. Check out Stone’s Throw Farm CA. This will be my new home.

Embracing what came my way without fear and without judgement on myself for making what seemed to be extravagant decisions given my work and financial situation was also part of this time of reflection. After I had my “visionquest” day as I’m now calling it, situations that just seemed right started to come my way and I started embracing what felt right despite that I was feeling a little fearful:

I serendipitously realized that Jett Psaris, the author of that profound book on midlife crisis that I can’t shut up about was doing a workshop at Esalen Institute. I’d been wanting to go to Esalen for many years since it’s been an inspiration for The Healing Farm and I’ve never been! I tried to get a “sleeping bag” space, but they were sold out, so I booked a shared room and contacted a friend and Healing Farm client who I know also got a lot out of the “Hidden Blessings” book. She had recently moved to the East Coast, but she happened to be coming to the Bay Area for some meetings and we roomed together. It was a great experience. I fell in love with Esalen and really loved the workshop and listening to others who were also trying to change their lives in their midlife transition, plus I got to bond with this very special woman who was my roommate and who made some of her own big decisions that weekend. A new deep friendship (thanks, Rae!)!

I had also been wanting to experience 1440 Mutiversity - the new retreat center development in the Santa Cruz mountains. My fave publication “Conscious Company” was holding a “World Changing Women’s Summit” there and damnit! I really want to be a World Changing Woman. I couldn’t really afford it, so I reached out to see if there was a volunteer opportunity or a scholarship (something I never would have thought to do in the past since I would have thought I wasn’t worthy). We worked it out and I was so on fire and inspired by the women at this conference that it also turned out to be somewhat of a life-changing experience. I stayed at the last minute on property in one of the “bunk bed” rooms. Although 1440 is NOTHING like I envision for The Healing Farm property, it was good to get a feel for a large and new property, their programs, their food AND their accommodations.

Brennan and I have been rocking our house as we get closer to moving. We’ve loved living in our little neighborhood and house in Oakland and although I’m sad to leave, I realized I’m ready for this big shift. We’ve made the time to enjoy our last couple of months and I’ve become inspired by a whole new side of myself and my relationship which I’ve been hinting at for several months. Sex is a big part of my life and relationship and I’ve realized how important release is and I have ideas percolating for sharing this side of myself and my relationship as a future part of the retreat business so stay tuned!

I’ve made time to book some weddings, shoot and deliver some gorgeous photos to happy clients, write a mini-business plan (and had fun doing it) for Stone’s Throw Farm’s event arm of the business. I’ve held the hand of someone within the last week of her life, who was younger than me and had so much more of her life to live and have been further inspired to build The Healing Farm to try to prevent so many deaths of those far too young. I happened to be driving up to Mt. Shasta to photograph a small retreat property  (Hestia Magic  - my photos not up yet!) on the day of my friend’s death and I felt like I was channelling her spirit as I sang and cried and then I realized she had just climbed Mt. Shasta two years ago for breast cancer awareness. More seemingly perfect timing. Brennan and I made time for that little trip to Mercey Hot Springs and this current trip to the Eastern Sierras.

I feel like my wings are opening up and I’m finally embracing who I am at my core. I don’t know where this current road will take me, but am pretty sure it’s a leap of faith on the right path for who I am. Taking the time to let myself feel exhausted and depressed ultimately has helped me work to the next level of my journey and I’m slowly getting my energy back and more and more excited about the work ahead.

I visited a friend from my very first business class yesterday. In the second class of the program, she and I met a few times to be part of each other’s business start-up support system. She was tired of the rat race of the Bay Area and wanted to get out of the construction business which is something she’d always done just because it was just what she ended up doing, but she wanted something more. She wanted to follow a dream of opening up a coffee shop. Fast forward three years and I drank the most lovely cup of coffee you’ll get on this side of the Sierras at her Pupfish Cafe coffee shop in Bishop, CA. She took a huge leap of faith and left the Bay Area and a relationship to follow her dream in a place where she never imagined she would live. She looked happy and relaxed. She’s running her small coffee shop, laughed at the fact that she’s living in a trailer community with mostly retired people (we compared notes about our trailers), hikes and has developed friendships out here. I asked her how much she works and she said 50 hours a week (not bad for owning and running a business). I asked her if she likes it and she said it’s the best thing she’s ever done. She was proud of her offerings and her employees and for now is content with where she’s at.

Janette and Pupfish Cafe, Steven and Bryanna and the folks at Stone’s Throw Farm, Jett Psaris and the awesome women at the Conscious Company Women’s Summit, Sydney of Ocean’s SF, Belinda and Hestia Magic, all of my friends and family who have been supportive of my crazy dream, the brave souls who wrote business plans last fall taking two classes per week while working full time, brave Jill who fought so hard to fight her cancer but said she was “ready to leave her body” a few days before she died, the woman in Idaho who is trying to follow her dream, and the people who continue to reach out to me to ask when I’m going to host my next retreat or “where is The Healing Farm property”, I say this: Thank you. Continue to follow your dreams. Find out who you really are. Let go of fear and influence and just be. Maybe, just maybe you’ll find your way, get your energy back and have a more hopeful outlook for your life and your very short time on this beautiful planet. My biggest hope is that everything that I do in the next few years will lead to The Healing Farm property where I can share my dreams and life with you.

Reach for the stars because we are (as Carl Sagan says) all made of star stuff.

On month five and two weeks out from a major move and feeling incredibly creative and beautiful. I should listen to myself more often.....

Wild Willy's Hot Springs in the Eastern Sierra - taken the week I wrote this post and yes, I'm naked and covered in mud. LIVE A LITTLE!

How to Add a Little Control to Your Day When Going Through Big Change? Make Your Bed!

Our simple (and made!) bed.

Our simple (and made!) bed.

Many years ago I was working as an office manager in a small office. Since some of my co-workers were (presumably - I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt) too busy to do their dishes, I took it on as one of my duties to make sure the kitchen was clean and neat.

Once-in-a-while when I would go in to tidy up, I would find the on-site business partner already doing the dishes and I would be mortified that I didn’t get to it sooner. I would thank her and try to brush her to the side so that she could get back to her more important work and I could take over. She finally explained to me that sometimes she just liked to do the dishes. It was a task that she could accomplish easily and actually complete and it gave her satisfaction to finish up and see the benefits of her accomplishments immediately (a clean kitchen!). When she explained it, I knew instantly that she was being sincere. Her days were so chaotic and overwhelming that by completing this one simple task, she felt like she had a little more control.

Fast forward 15 years and here I am running two business and starting to write a business plan (while going to a class two nights a week). Overwhelmed can barely describe how I feel sometimes. The coping mechanisms I’ve learned in the last couple of years have helped and are these:

  • Regular meditation (10-20 minutes a day)

  • Regular exercise (7-20 minutes a day during the week and one longer workout (hike or bike ride) on the weekend.

  • Good eating habits - reducing inflammation in my body so I can have optimal energy and mental clarity

  • Take most Saturdays and all Sundays completely off and mostly electronics free with unplanned and unstructured time

  • Schedule regular time with hubby and friends

  • Cooking a proper dinner at least three nights a week

But one thing I haven’t quite gotten a handle on is feeling under control in my house. Thankfully I’m married to a minimalist so the house - for the most part - feels light and airy and clutter-free. My husband would probably disagree with me on this since we have different ideas of what is clutter-free! But that aside, I never feel like I’m under control keeping up the house. I bought Maria Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”  and then put it on my bed stand never to be opened. It DID prompt me to organize my office and closet though which made me feel better about never reading it.

I can’t afford to hire someone to clean my house for me and my husband (who also works at home) tries to keep up with light cleaning here and there, but I never feel like the house is a pristine place of calm and order (do any of us really even if we have a cleaning service? I don’t know!). Then I read Katherine Rosman’s article “Want to Have a Good Day? Try Making the Bed First”.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never been a bed-maker. My mother tried the best she could to instill good housekeeping habits but when it came right down to it, she had six kids and a full time job so making sure we all made our beds wasn’t exactly a top priority so it never became a habit for me. When I married my husband he never said anything about the making the bed and he never made it, so it always remained unmade. This article, coming at a time of great change and chaos in my life, made me think about little habits (smaller than meditation and exercise) I could probably build into my life that will give me a small sense of accomplishment and control.

But how does one become a bed-maker after 50 years of being a messy bed keeper? Isn’t there a saying (or probably a book) that claims it takes 10 days to make a habit? I didn’t have time to look that up, so I decided I could just put it to the test and see if it stuck.

  • The first few days, I just tried to remember to do it and made the bed about 50% of the time. That wasn’t working.

  • Then I thought about the one thing I do EVERY MORNING without fail. Make coffee. So I decided to live with a post-it note on the coffee maker for a while to see if it would get me in the habit.

  • Oddly enough though, I decided I actually like making the bed as soon as I get out of it. Before I even have a sip of water. We don’t have a complicated bed with a ton of pillows, so it’s quick and easy and it really does feel good. I feel like by accomplishing something as the first thing I do in the day it puts me in a good mindset for the entire day. If I forget to do it as soon as I get out of bed, I have the post-it note on the coffee-maker!

  • Add the meditation and exercise onto that and I go into my work day with confidence (most of the time) having already reached a few goals I have set for myself.

So my verdict is that you really can develop a habit in ten days (check back in with me in a year!) AND this article is worth a read! Here are just a few tips from the article:

  • It’s an anchor point for your day

  • It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task and another

  • Wrinkle (less) sheets: take out of the dryer five minutes before they are completely dry and fit the bottom sheet on the bed to let air dry and drape the top sheet somewhere to let the wrinkles hang out (a clothing line is good for this) - BTW - I don’t care about wrinkled sheets, but I was staying at my in-laws and wanted crisp sheets on their bed when I remade it. When I went to iron them the iron wasn’t working. I remembered this article, washed the sheets again and air dried them damp and voila! It worked!

  • Folding a bottom sheet: there’s a video within the article of Ariel Kaye of Parachute Home folding a bottom sheet.

  • Top sheet vs. no top sheet? It’s simpler to make the bed without one, but then you have to wash your duvet more often (which I think is a pain), I use a top sheet and actually find it satisfying to fold it over and tuck it in when I make the bed.

Read the article if you feel you need to add more habits and anchor points into your chaotic life. Pick up William H. McRaven’s book: “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life….and Maybe the World” and good luck! Share with me on Facebook if you are a bed-maker or not and if you are successful in developing this habit! I’m still working on it, but I now make the bed most days!

Guest Blog Post by The 3rd Act Retreat’s Yoga Instructor - Rachel Heron

Even yoga teachers and doula’s make big changes midlife. Read on to hear from Rachel Heron (our 3rd Act Retreat Yoga Instructor) about how yoga transformed her life and why yoga can help you in your life at the retreat!

From Rachel:

"One rainy afternoon in NYC, in late October of 1992, my life changed.  I walked into the Jivamukti Yoga Center on 2nd Avenue, full of doubt, heartache and discontent.  Various things were not going the way I planned or wanted, and I found myself feeling jaded, cynical and stuck in a rut.  A friend had recommended yoga to me months before and I finally decided to check it out for myself, not un-reluctantly, somewhat ready to be disappointed...again.

On that day I discovered a seed of grace, faith, and beauty that has remained ever-present for me in some form.  I found a way of communicating with myself that simultaneously touched a deep place of longing and also felt like a homecoming.  I found practice.

As a trained professional dancer, I understood the value of disciplined practice.  What felt so different to me about Yoga and meditation was the absence of a goal, culmination, or public presentation.  This created a significant shift in my perception, which at first was not altogether exciting.  It was hard to orient toward my inner witness, to practice without striving or reaching for something different or better or definitive.  It took a long time for me to realize, in an embodied way, that Hatha yoga (the physical practice) was a gateway toward meditation--the practice of sitting/witnessing/holding spacious awareness.

After 25 years, what I know about practice is this--it's about showing up as you are--joyful, expansive, faithful, inspired, clear, distracted, heartbroken, angry, confused, resigned, or apathetic.  It doesn't really matter because the practice is here as a way to engage with ALL OF IT.  We don't have to be better or more in shape or happier or even in the mood.  We DO have to show up to get the benefit.  We have to be somewhat willing to look a little deeper, to feel a little more, to be with our distraction and discomfort.  

I'm not saying this is easy.  It often isn't.  But it's what we've got.  We've got this body, this mind, this tender heart, and the capacity to take some action in relation to our suffering.  Cultivating a practice allows us to discover an abiding and steadfast ‘center’.  When we anchor into our practices we can notice the winds of change are always blowing--and in this recognition we may find some more space and ease and perspective amidst the ever-changing conditions.

When we anchor into our practices we can notice the winds of change are always blowing—and in this recognition we may find some more space and ease and perspective amidst the ever-changing conditions.
— Rachel Heron

Since that pivotal moment in 1992, I have followed a few different life paths, each one strong in its own right, each one essential for clarifying the next phase.  I have learned that life is deeply mysterious, non-linear, uncontrollable, and unpredictable.  I know what it feels like to make choices from fear and anxiety, and I also know what it feels like to make choices from a place of inner wisdom and guidance.  While we don't know what lies ahead, we can take responsibility for our actions and do our best to make holistic choices that support our deepest well-being.

As I was turning 40, I started getting hints that my next round of work in the world would be connecting with women at potent times of their lives.  This lead to a rich and rewarding bunch of years as a birth doula--truly a time of concentrated vitality and major life transition!  And in the midst of that work, I was continually asked by yoga students and bodywork/doula clients for something else as well--they were seeking guidance around how to be in their lives more fully, presently, healthfully--they were looking for ways to alleviate suffering.  It became clear to me that my next move was to formalize a counseling practice that could address these inquiries.  And it was just at the time when my doula energy started to wane (at age 45, staying up all night with a mama in labor is not ideal!) that the form of the counseling practice really started to blossom.

These last many years I have been refining a modality I call "Intuitive Somatic Counseling". I catalyze real, lasting change for women in transition who want to create the next phase of their life with more clarity, satisfaction, and nourishment.  The basis of this work combines compassionate listening, gentle bodywork, and strategic coaching in order to help you access your inner guidance.  In affirming your own intuitive wisdom, we co-create potent daily routines and rituals that will inspire and sustain the changes you want to make.

And this brings me back to practice... We learn to show up, to engage, and to be with what is.  We can make small incremental shifts and over time we notice something new arises.  There is sacredness in the mundane, as we bring presence and mindfulness to the myriad details of life.  In this modern age of abundant technology, stimulation, and options, it is my great pleasure to connect with women on a healing and awakening path: co-creating, exploring, and living in our vitality and radiance. "

My Flirtation with Keto: What I Learned and Why I'm not Afraid of Fat Anymore!

I remember when I hit 100 pounds. I don't remember the age, but I remember I was being weighed at a doctor's appointment. I was starting to be self-conscious about my body because the girls at school were starting to get a little snarky about looks and weight. It must have been around 4th, 5th or 6th grade. This was in the 1970s! I can't even imagine what it's like for girls in this day and age of body shaming! 

Anyway, I remember feeling mortified about being 100 pounds and I'm thinking I might have started the dieting yoyo from that point on. That would be about 40 years of dieting on and off. Sheesh. I've never been extremely overweight, but I know at which point my body and mind feel good and I've rarely been at that target. Of course most of my "diets" have revolved around low fat which is what we've all been taught for the past 50 or so years since American's weight (and health problems) has creeped up and up into the danger zone. It wasn't until about five years ago that I started thinking of my overall chronic health conditions and started working with Chris Kresser to solve my health issues. He described the process as "peeling an onion": years of upon years of bad choices + a parasite added in had gotten me to the point of needing to solve my unhealthy body once and for all.

Although I was turned off a little bit about the "paleo" term at the time, I liked that he was more about finding out what would make my own body feel better and getting down to my own health issues to resole them, but yes, it did require a paleo "reset" which is basically an elimination diet. We worked together and the chronic conditions that I blamed on "my bad luck body" slowly (and not so slowly) lifted. Here's a list:

  • Indigestion (for twenty years)
  • SI joint pain (back pain) (for eight years)
  • Sinus headaches bordering on migraines (for twenty years)
  • Restless legs
  • Excess weight
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue (for twenty years)
  • Low sex drive

Quite a laundry list, huh? But, I worked through most of this with Chris. Got rid of the parasite and pretty much all of the other conditions until I had enough clarity and energy to want to start sharing this natural healing with others which is why (and how) I got the energy up to start The Healing Farm.

Fast forward to 2017 (my 50th year) and I'm now completely in tune to the food and drink choices I make and how they effect my body. I try to keep to the following:

  • Mostly gluten free
  • Mostly dairy free
  • Mostly sugar free
  • Low caffeine
  • Low alcohol
  • Mostly whole foods eating, mostly organic and mostly grass-fed

It's not been easy to get to this point, but every time I go overboard and "off the wagon" as they say, my chronic conditions creep back. The back and joint pain kick in, I wake up with the sinus headaches, I get a pimple (or two) and sometimes I even get sick (a cold!). Frustrating, but in reality I know when I screw up and I know when I screw up badly, so slowly as I learn to hate having these conditions come back, I've learned to be MOSTLY sticking to what works for me.

The piece of the puzzle I have not yet figured out is the fluctuating weight issues. I came close to hitting that optimal weight when I worked with Chris, but it has slowly been creeping back and I've gone up and down since. After the last THF retreat, a few of the retreat participants and I got together and one of them told me about Keto and the "Keto Clarity" book by Jimmy Moore. She had lost 30 pounds and felt great. But what really caught my interest was that she said she felt "sharp". Since peri menopause kicked in I have not felt "sharp". In fact, I'm not sure I've felt "sharp" since maybe my early twenties. There was a period of time when I first started taking my business classes and started thinking about The Healing Farm that I felt energized and on fire, but I'm not sure if I ever felt "sharp". She explained that one of the concepts behind keto is that the brain feeds on fat. The more "good" fats you give it, the sharper it will become.

This intrigued me even more than the potential weight loss. Since I have Alzheimer's in my family, I'm more than interested in ANYTHING having to do with keeping my brain healthy. I thought of my father who was diagnosed almost two years ago and thought about his low fat diet since the mid 1980s after he had his heart surgery. His diet at home was low fat, but also a lot of carbs and sugar. When he went out, it was all bets off and high fat, sugar AND carbs AND saturated fats. I was a little scared because I've been the same way for years. I decided I wanted to test out keto for myself and weight loss WAS a big incentive.

Doing a "keto" eating plan is hard. Keto is basically VERY low carb (almost no carb), VERY high fat and pretty low protein. I think I may have had an easier time if I could have eaten more protein, but I felt like I was constantly eating too much protein which resulted in not being in a ketogenic state enough to warrant eating all that fat. As a result, I didn't lose as much weight as I had hoped. BUT, there were three benefits that came out of trying the keto thing:

1 - For the first time in my "dieting" life, I didn't dream about buffet tables of food. I'm not kidding. Every time I would go on a low fat/ low calorie diet, I would dream about buffets of food. It's a little embarrassing admitting that, but this time I was losing weight and not feeling deprived. That was an eye opener that my body did indeed like fat. Once I got through the first week of not knowing what I could eat and feeling miserable and headachey, I loaded up on the fat and felt better and didn't dream of buffets. To be fair to Jimmy, he does give some good ideas on what to eat, but I just didn't feel comfortable eating butter with cheese rolled around it. Plus I'm sensitive to dairy, so I was avoiding that anyway! Bottom line was that I had a hard time figuring out what to eat. Plus I also didn't feel comfortable eating so few fruits and healthy carbs, but if I had stuck with it longer, all that probably would have been figured out.

2 - I had more energy and mental clarity than I've had in a LONG time (when I was in a ketogenic state). There were a handful of golden days and hours when I did reach a ketogenic state and I was on fire. I felt like I could accomplish anything. It was great. This was AFTER I started using MCT oil in my coffee though. After three weeks of not really hitting the ketognic state, I read online that MCT oil is key. It really does work and I only use one TBS. in my coffee in the morning (eased into it starting with a tsp, working my way up). What is MCT oil? Says Dr. Axe (read more here)

“MCTs” are medium-chain triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid that has numerous health benefits, ranging from improved cognitive function to better weight management. Coconut oil is one great source of MCTs — roughly 62–65 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs — but recently more concentrated “MCT oils” have also been growing in popularity."

3 - I DID lose some weight. In fact, I've lost about 12 pounds in three months and the three months have included two vacations in which I was most definitely NOT in a ketogenic state.  

BUT, once I starting seeing the summer fruit at the farmer's market, I decided there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with a total keto plan. The peaches and cherries just looked too good! I also was getting headaches here and there still, my restless legs were kicking in every time I was not producing enough ketones and when I DID go off the plan, I kind of went bananas. That was a good indicator that this was not going to be sustainable for me.

I just finished up with Magdalena's "Cooking for Balance" program and am inspired again to add back in a small portion of healthy fruits and carbs into my diet. I've learned from the keto plan that I'm no longer afraid of fat. In fact, I lost some weight, felt satisfied AND felt great when I WAS eating a lot of fat so feel confident that I can rein in my tendencies to go overboard when eating if I continue to eat enough fat and not deprive myself of anything. I've also learned to rein in the carb intake too. Although I may add in a sweet potato here and there, it will probably only be a half or a very small one. I may even start adding in small portions of quinoa or rice to my stir fry meals. I'm not drinking nearly as much wine (although I did go overboard on vacation) and I'm definitely much more satisfied with eating nuts and seeds and not craving anything sweet or full of trans fats. I'm also not dreaming of buffet lines, so all-in-all, I think the keto trial was worth it in the end.

Now let's see if I can reach that weight sweet spot, but more importantly, I'm going to incorporate some of the "Cooking for Balance" tips by nutritionist Magdalena Wszelaki to tackle some final stubborn issues having to do with hormone balance and possibly SIBO. Maybe then I will reach my optimal health state once and for all. It's a work-in-progress that is taking several years, but as Chris said it's like peeling an onion. I hope that soon, I'll get to that core!

Come to the fall 3rd Act Retreat to immerse yourself in going through big change and at the same time kick off an elimination diet with a great whole food/paleo type meal plan and a nutrition lecture. The nutrition and eating plan will ALWAYS be a big part of EVERY Healing Farm retreat!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness.

 

 

 

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!

How Can You Break the Glass Ceiling if You Don't Reach for the Stars?: Creating a "Manifestation" Board

Julie's Manifestation Board for Life and The Healing Farm

Julie's Manifestation Board for Life and The Healing Farm

I was hiking recently when the title of this blog post came to me. I'm sure it's been said a hundred times (or maybe a thousand) by others way before I came up with it, but it struck me as profound. Especially for the midlife process I'm currently experiencing. 

As I was hiking I was thinking about the audacity of parts of my manifestation board. Here I was awed by nature on my hike and thinking of great things other's have done with their careers and lives in the past and I suddenly felt a wave of guilt and a sense of "who do I think I am?" go over me. I thought of some of the things I had put on my board including:

  • "Gamechangers 500"
  • "Corner Office" by Adam Bryant
  • "Conscious Company"
  • "Guru"

I mean, really. Who do I think I am? Sometimes I fantasize about being interviewed for the regular "Corner Office" interview in the Sunday New York Times. As the founder and CEO of The Healing Farm I would talk about inspiring others with average means and education to aspire to become extraordinary human beings and to reach for bigger dreams than you can imagine. When I read "Conscious Company" magazine, I can't help but think that if I realize my true dream of The Healing Farm, THF will most certainly be featured as a prime example of the "conscious company" of the future. A "For Benefit" company that invests back into itself, its team and its community championing fair business practices and acting as a model for the future of affordable and practical wellness around the country. An example of healthcare of the future! And of course, as The Healing Farm expands and THF outposts pop up throughout the country in places like appalachia, the deep south and middle America where we're not just preaching natural preventative wellness to the choir, but we're also providing employment opportunities to those communities most hurt by lost manufacturing jobs and the crippling effects of addiction (big breath and run-on sentence), how could it not make the "Gamechangers 500" list? Gamechangers 500 by the way is like a new kind of Fortune 500 list for companies that are NOT profit-driven. Companies that top this year's list: 

I really want The Healing Farm to make this list as a leader in the future of sustainable, affordable and practical healthcare. 

WOW. As I said, pretty audacious. Especially for a midwestern girl of average (to below average) means with an education in fine art and a very average record of self employment!

But also on that manifestation board, I have included words like:

  • Inspire
  • For People and Planet
  • Gratitude
  • Confidence
  • Together
  • Thin

I feel like these words represent who I am already and who I strive to be on a more practical and short-term level. A little more modesty represented here.

The manifestation board came out of a group activity at the last Healing Farm retreat. I wanted to have an art meditation session on the retreat agenda because I was inspired by a guest at my last multi-day retreat who wanted to share her art meditation practice with others. I was inspired after the last retreat to create some art in nature so I wanted to share the practice with the guests at this new retreat. It was a few weeks before the retreat that someone mentioned doing a "manifestation board" and that within a year, two of the most important things on her board were coming to be (a husband and a child). It's now over two years since she completed her board and she said she has never been happier.

This inspired me to suggest that guests bring magazines to contribute during the art meditation just in case someone wanted to do one of these boards. I could not believe the excitement and turnout over this project. It was so inspiring to see my guests quietly going about searching for words and pictures that might represent what they envision for their lives in the future. What a perfect project at a women's health retreat that focussed on midlife transitions. I didn't have time to do a board of my own at the retreat since I was facilitating, but took a much needed week off at home after the retreat and on inauguration day 2017 after a long walk in my neighborhood I got out my materials and began. What I created was so personal and inspiring to me it was overwhelming. What a hopeful thing to do on a day I felt was a little scary for the future.

What is represented on the board is my hope for myself, my marriage and my husband but overwhelmingly my hopes for The Healing Farm. It's representative of something that I can't let go. No matter how scared I am. No matter my lack of confidence. My perceived lack of education and smarts. My lack of experience and financing. It's something that's burning inside of me. It's the passion, the healing, the realization and the "best self" that I've been working on bringing out and discovering for the past five years. It's the emerging butterfly represented. It's the eagle that is the future me. It's my hopes for my future, the future of wellness and the future of the world. It represents peace, growth, joy, connecting to better self, for people and planet, quality time and gratitude. It is my future.

It's audacious, but as I realized on my solo hike the other day: If I don't reach for the stars, how can I ever break that glass ceiling for myself and others? The day after I made my board I decided at the last minute to participate in the women's march in Oakland. I happened to have materials left over from the manifestation board project but had no idea what I wanted my first "activist" sign to read. I remembered that one phrase I had included on my board the day before was: "Women Can Transform the World". I changed it to "Women Will Transform the World". Added some peace signs, a heart, a smiley face and the colors of the chakras (something else I'm learning about recently) and off I went to march for women, for equality, for hope in the future and for peace.

I'm reaching for the stars in my midlife renaissance and I want to inspire others to do the same. I want to discover my true potential. I know it's there somewhere underneath all that fear and lack of confidence. It's slowly emerging. The butterfly is emerging and the eagle waits in the wings.

Photos are from: Demonstration day, hike that inspired the glass ceiling quote, manifestation board making at The Healing Farm retreat and some pics from the urban Oakland hike I did on inauguration day 2017 which was also the day I made my "manifestation board". I can't recommend this project enough.

You can also read about a THF retreat client's experience making her board at the retreat: 

The Healing Farm. Cultivating Practical Wellness.

 

 

Amanda Crutcher Joins the Women's Health Retreat Team as our Yoga Instructor!

I'm so excited to announce that Amanda Crutcher will be joining our January Women's Retreat team as our daily yoga instructor! 

Amanda contacted me a few weeks ago because she was passionate about my vision for The Healing Farm and recognized in my mission that I was truly filling a void in the retreat industry: A yoga retreat with meat? A paleo themed retreat that didn't feature killer exercise programs but focused more on an elimination diet to teach folks who are struggling with chronic health issues ideas about functional medicine and natural healing? I hear this from a lot of people and am trying to fill that niche! 

We met soon after our initial contact at my 50th birthday party. I asked if she would jump in to teach a short yoga class at Slide Ranch to kick off my birthday festivities. Driving all the way from Sebastopol to Slide Ranch to teach in the chill of the coastal fog, I instantly loved her passion and her warmth and sincerity. We met for lunch a couple of weeks later and again felt a great connection and I invited her to join the women's retreat team.

Amanda has a diverse background in the healing arts and as a dedicated twice daily meditator will open up her meditation time to allow our retreat participants to join her. If you saw my previous blog post about meditation you know that I only meditate ten minutes a day so when Amanda told me she meditates twice a day for an hour each "sit" I couldn't believe her dedication!  We will provide a spot for her twice daily meditations and she will discuss "dropping" in during her restorative yoga session on the first day of the retreat. Don't be intimidated! She stresses that you can pop in any time within the hour and meditate for as long as you like. Plus if you're new to mediation, Dr. Nett and I will will be offering a couple of short guided meditation sessions too!

Amanda says about joining the team:

"I am very excited to be joining the staff of The Healing Farm for the January 2017 Women’s Health Detox and Hormone Balance Retreat, where I will be teaching the daily Yoga classes, and offering private Yoga sessions. There are few places that I would rather be than on a retreat immersed in healing practices, people and foods!

The Healing Farm’s mission to merge agriculture, evolutionary health, and mindful wellness practices resonated with me like a load clear deep Burmese gong! My life’s journey is about vibrant health. As a child I was blessed to be mentored in nature connection while living in the west village of NYC. From age 6 to 9 my schooling focused on studying the local ecosystem in western NJ, raising ducks from eggs, tapping maple trees, dying wool with plant dyes to weave, digging clay to make pots, while learning to read, write, and look at the world mathematically. This gift of loving the outdoors inspired me to ski, cycle, rock climb, backpack, sail, play and swim.

My other childhood love was the circus, my British Mom gave me the book, “Mr. Galiano’s Circus” and my world was changed. I juggled, tumbled, rode a unicycle, jumped and flipped endlessly on the trampoline, and even attended circus school on the Bowrey in NYC. My determination to build the strength to take it to another level wasn’t there, and instead my embodied way of being got channeled into college level competitive Ultimate Disc, dance and mid-distance running.

My work in college focused on studying biology; my thesis was on inflammation and nutrition. I continued my studies at the New England School of Acupuncture, where I became a licensed acupuncturist in Massachusetts. Currently I am pursuing a masters degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, continuing the exploration of inflammation, natural cures and traditional healing ways.

Finding Yoga in college was coming home to a place I had missed. I love the challenges Yoga offers, such as, balancing in handstands, or simply breathing and being present; deepening my abilities to be aware, balance, feel, and strengthen. Now the magic of Yoga is most powerful in calming my nervous system in the throws of our modern wired life. In this pursuit I have also devoted myself to the practice of Vipassana meditation as taught by Sayagi U Ba Khin and SN Goenka. I am grateful for the valuable guidance I have been given. My Yoga asana practice has been inspired by the teachings of BKS Iyengar and his many students, as well as Patabhi Jois. Currently my Yoga teacher is Jill Miller, the founder of Yoga Tune Up.

Jill has synthesized the teachings of the masters, within the context of modern humans. Integrating ancient wisdom with innovative props, Yoga therapy balls, and addressing current global human movement issues.

My teaching is inspired by practice, both on my cushion, on my Yoga mat and in life. I am delighted to bring this training to the January retreat, to share tools to gain a calm, balanced, strong, flexible and healthy body. It starts with nourishment from the earth; It is then our loving attention that transforms that food prana into connection with our hearts, each other, and back to the earth. May we each find that gracefully! May we help make peace prevail inside and everywhere."

Welcome Amanda!!!

 

 

 

Mayacamas Paleo Reset - I couldn't have asked for a better group and outcome!

There is so much I want to say about this retreat, the team and the guests. There's not enough time in the day for me to express my gratefulness, my joy, my feelings and my gratitude. Brennan and I are taking off tomorrow for Mercy Hot Springs for the retreat after the retreat so I'm feeling a bit rushed in posting this so I think I'll just suffice it to say for now that I've come out of the retreat feeling like a new person on so many levels. It's thanks mostly to my guests who shared so much with me last week. Not only about the reasons why they were there, but also the physical and emotional breakthroughs they experienced throughout the week. I wish we did the group shot earlier in the week when we were at a full 30+ people. We're missing so many in this shot, but  a HUGE thank you to my guests. It would not have been the retreat it was without your warmth and enthusiasm!

 

A career change and starting a new business mid-life is not easy and I've had lots of challenges, heartache, joys and breakthroughs along the path of producing this first multi-night retreat. I started a blog last year called "Birthing a Business" which I haven't kept up with much because I was afraid to post about all the truly difficult times, but I feel like last week I really did birth a business. I don't think I'll be afraid to post the challenges and heartache and panic along with all of the achievements because now I truly understand the rewards that come from really putting yourself out there and taking a chance and going outside your comfort zone. I would imagine it's like when people decide to have a baby. You are going into the unknown and you know it's not going to be an easy road, but the growth and rewards that come out of it far outweigh the challenges.

The team that supported me all week was not just professional and incredibly knowledgable, but as I got my two hour delicious massage from Diane Gibbs yesterday, I also realized that every single person on the team: the educators, the practitioners and the Mayacamas staff cared so much for our participants (and me). I really don't think I could have put together a more caring team and it made all the difference in the world. Thank you to:


Chris Kresser for such an inspiring and informative keynote lecture. Most people were there for you and you delivered a million times over. I can't thank you enough for putting your trust and faith in me with your patients and fans. We all want more!!!!


Kelsey Marksteiner of Healthy Gut, Healthy Life

Kelsey Marksteiner of Healthy Gut, Healthy Life. I knew that anyone who works for and with Chris Kresser would be incredibly knowledgable but how could I have known just how brilliant, informed and passionate you really would be. Everyone loved your lectures and for those who had a private consultation, I heard nothing but rave reviews and how much they got out of their sessions.


Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites - What a thrill it was for us all to watch you in action and in person! Also so knowledgable about the paleo diet and cooking and the two dishes you made were so outstanding and soooo doable at home. I couldn't believe a zucchini, tomato salad would be something I would consider bringing to a party - any party, not just for the paleo crowd. Delicious!


A huge thank you to Erin Cookston for planning two yoga classes a day and for your constant smile and enthusiasm! Everyone loved you and your classes and you were one with the program, people and team. Your spirit and talent were felt by all! And Oh my. I just realized I never photographed one of your classes! Ugh!

Coach Emily Boorstein - Inner Fitness

Coach Emily Boorstein - A last minute addition, but I wasn't surprised to see her lectures packed every time. Adding personal/inside growth I realized as the week went on was just as important as feeding our bodies with healing and nutritional foods. Everyone agreed it was a valuable addition to the experience.


Diane Gibbs - I swear I would know who just walked out of a massage session with you based on the dreamy look they had on their face. Your caring, healing hands were also a much-needed addition to the retreat and the Feldenkrais classes you taught I think produced a LOT of Felednkrais converts!


Chris Randle of Oakland Community Acupuncture - I can't tell you how many people told me they went from a treatment with you right to sleep. Your treatments were all the rage and your QiGong series was a great addition of movement meditation. A lot of people agreed that more meditation type activities would be a terrific addition to the "inner fitness" (to use coach Emily's term) portion of the retreat.



The Mayacamas Ranch team and especially our chef Miguel. For a first stab at a paleo retreat - especially one as extreme as a reset - you guys nailed it. A+ all around. I was especially touched on the last day when Miguel told the remaining guests how inspired he was cooking the paleo diet and that he was so inspired he actually ate our meal plan all week and had some of his own physical breakthroughs! I could not have gotten a better compliment and hope to see the whole Mayacamas team again at the NEXT paleo reset retreat!


My Husband Brennan

For his unwavering support and patience.

A Million Thanks to everyone. I'm inspired to move forward with The Healing Farm and The Healing Farm | Retreats because of all of you and if I ever build The Healing Farm property I will create a "Founders" week and invite my first retreat group as an annual reunion!

Much Love - Julie

Women's Health Retreat Highlights!

Wow! What a day we had for the Women's Health Retreat this past Saturday! Held at Headlands Center for the Arts in the Marin Headlands, we had gorgeous weather, terrific speakers, great exercise and a terrific group of women. Despite being the facilitator and running around a good portion of the day making sure everything was running smoothly, even I walked away from the day feeling inspired and relaxed!

I first want to thank our lovely participants for taking the time out of their busy lives to gather and to talk about a not-so-easy transition in life. You were all inspiring in your own ways, so open to discuss and so full of good spirit. Truly appreciated! 

Secondly, thank you to our speaker Marnie Reasor, CCH of Resplendent Healing! Coming all the way from Tennessee, we were all fortunate to listen to two informative lectures giving us her gathered knowledge from over fifteen years experience working on natural healing of female-specific health issues. You can see a partial list of the tips she distributed at the end of this post. She covered a lot more, so I would highly recommend contacting her for a consult!

We ALL raved about the food! Katie Powers, exclusive caterer for Headlands Center for the Arts is a passionate advocate of sourcing local and organic foods for most of her cooking. She went to her local farmer's market the day before our event to shop for the incredibly fresh ingredients she used for our two meals. I heard more than one person say they felt like they were eating freshly picked lettuce right out of the garden. She also took great care in presenting everything so beautifully for us AND took the time to talk to us about what we were eating and where it came from. Truly another highlight of the day!

Jessica Prentice of Three Stone Hearth was another highlight and dang does this woman know her stuff about whole foods and ancestral cooking! She talked to us about the nutritional benefits of bone broth (I make my own, but seriously - consider ordering some from TSH - theirs is incredibly gelatinous (read: NUTRIENT FULL) and eating whole foods all-the-while showing us how to make a chock-full of nutritional goodness spring nettle soup. I'm now kicking myself for not have the energy to go to the Farmer's Market the next morning to get nettles from Happy Boy Farms. I have lots of leftover containers of Three Stone Hearth bone broth in my fridge and would have loved making the soup this week! Asking a group of women to quietly sip our soup sample in silence so we could appreciate the flavor was not easy to do, but I think most of us were stunned into silence at the incredible flavor and obvious nutrient-dense soup. Then we instantly started talking again because we couldn't help raving about the soup! 

Topped off by a bit of light exercise, between the hike and Dr. Alicia Thomsen's restorative yoga session, I think I can speak for us all saying we walked away from the day feeling stretched, relaxed, informed and having truly enjoyed the peace and gorgeousness of Headlands Center for the Arts and the Marin Headlands. We all probably would have loved to spend a little more time on Rodeo Beach, but there was some more learning to do!


Here are some tips from Marnie and the nettle soup recipe to leave you with. What a great day!

For hot flashes

Know your triggers like:

  • Spicy foods
  • Hot drinks
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Heavy Exercise, saunas and hot tubs
  • Toxins in food and personal care products 
  • Minimize wheat, sugar and dairy
  • Large meals

What you can do:

  • Exercise moderately 
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Dress in layers
  • Keep a fan in the bedroom

Sounder sleep tips

  • Blackout curtains, earplugs, eye shades
  • Sleep between 10:00PM and 5:00AM
  • Natural Calm powder
  • Remove any blue light from bedroom (computer, phone, no wifi router)
  • Epsom salts bath or foot bath before bed
  • Alternate nostril breathing

Resources

  • Marnie's consult!
  • The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change by Christine Northrup, M.D.
  • The Natural Center for Homeopathy: Homeopathy Center.org
  • Environmental Working Group Guides

NETTLE SOUP RECIPE by Jessica Prentice as published in her book Full Moon Feast

SPRING TONIC NETTLE SOUP - Copied from Edible East Bay's Online Published Version February 16, 2015 in Soup

This recipe is adapted from Jessica Prentice’s Full Moon Feast (March 2006) and is printed with permission from Chelsea Green Publishing.

Some important notes about nettles: If you’re picking wild nettles for eating, don’t touch them with your bare hands, and harvest only the top 4 inches of the plant. In the kitchen use tongs or a large fork to pick them up. You may want to remove the thick stems from the nettle tops before cooking.

Serves 3–4

2 leeks, cut into rounds
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
¼ pound stinging nettle tops
1 bouquet garni
1 quart chicken broth, filtered water, or other light chicken stock made without vegetables or herbs
(A strong stock will overwhelm the flavor of the nettles: The broth from Three Stone Hearth would be perfect for this recipe.)
2 egg yolks
½ cup crème fraîche
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste

Sauté the leeks in the butter or olive oil. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Add the nettles (being careful not to touch them with your bare hands!), bouquet garni, and stock or water. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until the nettles are very soft.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and crème fraîche.

Remove the bouquet garni from the soup, turn the heat to low, and purée using an immersion blender, adding a generous pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.

Take a ladleful of soup and stir it into the egg mixture. Return the egg-nettle mixture to the soup and stir gently over very low heat (do not let it boil again).

Grate some fresh nutmeg into the soup, taste, and add more salt as necessary to make it savory and delicious

Variation: Add a handful of sorrel leaves to the soup for a lemony flavor. ✦

 

 

 

I Took Three Weeks Off- Irresponsible or Much Needed Break?

An oak tree on a hike in the east bay hills. 

An oak tree on a hike in the east bay hills. 

From The Healing Farm blog.....

I had a really tough fall in 2015 and against everything I want The Healing Farm to teach, I ended up working 6-7 days a week for about three-four months. As I try to transition my life and career and move closer to my 50th year and all the challenges one faces (especially women) during middle age, I got pretty overwhelmed. I'm very fortunate to have a huge support network of family and friends and managed for the most part to eat well and keep up with moderate exercise through it all. But I needed a huge break.

I went to Chicago to visit my family for the holidays and stayed almost two weeks. Was it the last time I would spend Christmas in my childhood home? It was definitely the last time for a cherished Christmas Eve extended family tradition which has been going on for well over 70 years. I wanted to be there for a good chunk of time not only to immerse myself in what may be the very tail end of being a daughter, but I wanted to spend long quality hours with my parents, siblings and extended family. I barely checked e-mail the entire time I was there, I didn't do one blog or instagram post and it was heaven. I read three books!

Then I came home and I couldn't get myself back to work, no matter how limited it was going to be the week of New Year's. I just couldn't. I'm fortunate enough to own my own business(es) and can take this kind of time off at this time of the year (it's the wedding slow season in CA!), but as I flew home and watched the woman next to me type away at her laptop the entire flight (as I drank wine and finished my fourth book), I wondered if I was being irresponsible. After all, I'm starting a new business. I should be posting all the time, completely on top of social media, etc, etc. But is that really what I want?

As I explore this new business and career path in 2016, I need to consider seriously what I want my next twenty + years of work to look like. Sometimes I think, to heck with it! I want to do something easy! I don't want to think about work all the time! Often, I half joke about wanting to be the bartender on the Amtrak train - only I'm not really joking! But sometimes I believe I can build The Healing Farm concept in which I build a culture at which employees can have a decent work-load with decent pay. At which people can job-share and take time off for long, much-needed breaks. I want to give that gift to future THF staff and I want to build a business at which my executive support team can truly support each other so that we can have that too. I don't think it's un-achievable. The Healing Farm should practice what it preaches. And when one comes back from a long true break, one should feel inspired, creative and ready for more!  So here's to 2016! It will be a telling year for me AND The Healing Farm concept. Who knows where I will be at the end of the year, but I will do my best to cultivate The Healing Farm concept, nurture it, and hope to watch it grow and thrive!

THF - Cultivating Practical Wellness.