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!

Healthy Aging - Take a Cue From the Greeks!

The Greek Lifestyle/eating which I would like to emulate for my own healthy aging:

  1. Lots of fruits and veggies (preferably fresh from the farmer's market or garden)
  2. Yogurt
  3. Lots of fish and nuts
  4. Olives and olive oil
  5. Healthy grains
  6. Goat's milk products
  7. Wine! (in moderation - I'll try to stick to red since white is higher in sugar)
  8. Sleeping until I wake up naturally (I already do this!)
  9. Social eating (I need to do more of this!)
  10. Great sleep and rest during the day
  11. Lots of natural exercise like walking (I need to build more errand running on my bike!)

My dear gorgeous, healthy and always fabulous-looking Greek-heritage friend, Kirsten and I had a lovely time the other day having lunch at the cafe at our favorite grocery store (Berkeley Bowl!) and then had fun running into each other while shopping. It was a day off for me and we had been trying to get together for a while so we decided to tie it in with my grocery shopping trip. We love to talk about food and even took a cooking class together while we were at Rancho La Puerta last Spring.

While we had our leisurely social lunch (so Greek!) we were talking about the Mediterranean way of eating and how she's starting to move back to it. We were talking about how we obsess about food these days and she's been realizing she's just happy and healthy eating the diet of her ancestors. Although I'm not Greek (I'm Polish and German), I was thinking a lot about the Mediterranean way of eating and while I shopped and decided to buy some clams to cook that night. Right now I'm on an anti-candida protocol which is pretty strict, but other than being sensitive to gluten and dairy and trying to keep my sugar intake low, if I ever get rid of this candida, I'm looking forward to eating a more diverse diet.

The day after we met, Kirsten shared with me an article she remembered reading long ago about the Greek diet and I was inspired.  The article starts by talking about a man who moved back to a tiny island in Greece (from the states) to live out his lung cancer diagnosis. Getting back to the fresh air, socializing with friends, sleeping late, napping, working in the garden and the Mediterranean diet is the reason (he thinks) he was still alive many years after his diagnosis. He never had any cancer treatments and although I would not necessarily recommend that, somehow it worked for him and it says a lot about the Greek lifestyle. I've been eating a lot of saturated fats recently and although I've been feeling pretty good and am losing weight without even trying, I think I'm going to start shifting back to more healthy fats like olive oil rather than so much coconut oil and having avocados with my eggs rather than bacon or sausage (that's the German in me) - and lots more fatty fish (will I EVER like sardines?). My hubby isn't too social, but I love long leisurely meals with friends, so need to start scheduling more of that too. 

As I prepare for the upcoming 3rd Act retreat (I hope to see you there!) and as I hear more and more friends starting to talk about retirement plans, I'm thinking a lot more about healthy aging and this article couldn't have come at a better time. So there you go, thanks to a healthy social lunch with a friend, I'm inspired and BTW - I had the Ahi salad with seaweed for lunch that day. No wine since I've cut down on the sugar for my candida protocol, but once I'm rid of the candida, I'll be going back to drinking red wine a few times a week!

Here is the article:

 

 

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.

 

 

Something YOU can Control in Many Cases - Your Health!

 From the Washington Post

From the Washington Post

As someone who may be effected by possible upcoming changes in our healthcare system, the Washington Post article in my Google newsfeed today caught my eye. It's really not just that the new administration may make changes that could effect millions of people that made me look at this article, but also that I'm trying to start a business that will help us all realize that we don't have to be so dependent on our current healthcare and insurance industries to relieve some of our chronic conditions. I suppose that might be what the new administration is trying to say by dumping the Affordable Care Act, but alas, they are not talking about prevention to avoid high healthcare and insurance costs or programs which teach people how to avoid those costs to begin with.

This Washington Post article is such an eye opener about just how much we are spending in the industry on health conditions that CAN be preventable and in many cases managed through diet and exercise. The thing is that having someone else do the work for us (procedures, surgeries, pharmaceuticals, etc) is WAY easier than doing the hard work ourselves and if someone else is paying for it - all the better, right? But the thing is we're ALL paying for it, whether through government programs OR through our escalating coverage costs through private work plans. I remember when I was in my mid-twenties and some of my chronic conditions started rearing their ugly heads. I had really good insurance through my employer. I thought nothing of going to the doctor every couple of months (thinking that I really wasn't paying for it). Getting tested for this and tested for that. Getting this prescription and that prescription...fast forward twenty-something years and I'm self employed with terrible health insurance. I had to re-think my approach to dealing with all of my chronic conditions (which seemed to be multiplying with age). 

In walks functional medicine. Digging deep with a practitioner to figure out the core issues that might have been causing all my misery over the years was the easy part (and the most expensive but still far less than what I've spent over the last twenty years). Doing the work to naturally rid myself of these conditions was the hard part. But considering I came out the other side of the treatment and commitment almost 100% chronic pain and condition free has inspired me to re-think our healthcare industry. For sure there are treatments and meds that save lives and relieve pain - if I hadn't gotten an appendectomy several years ago, I would not be typing here today! But in reading the Washington Post article it's right there in black and white that we really CAN be controlling these out of control healthcare costs if we are actually willing to bite the bullet and do the hard work. To lose the weight, to become more fit and to alleviate some of those chronic conditions naturally and ultimately at a much lower cost AND to not be so dependent on treatments and prescriptions can save all of us literally TRILLIONS of dollars.

The Healing Farm and The Healing Farm | Retreats concept is all about prevention. I want to inspire other people struggling with one, two or multiple chronic conditions, auto-immune diseases, obesity and all that comes with it, to try the preventative route. Start with an elimination diet to reduce inflammation in your body. This may help with not just your physical chronic conditions, but also your emotional state as well. Two books that I used and will always recommend are: "The Paleo Cure" by Chris Kresser (what my Healing Farm Retreat's meal plan and concept is based on) and Dr. Kelly Brogan's book "A Mind of your Own". If you are still suffering after your elimination diet, then it might be time to see a functional medicine practitioner to get some blood work done. This is the expensive part and is probably not covered in your insurance plan (something that needs to change!), but if it reveals a host of underlying issues (in my case a parasite living in my system and deficiencies in some key vitamins) think of how much money in co-pays and prescription costs you may save in the long term by figuring it out in one fell swoop and then tackling the cures naturally!

As I said, we've gotten so used to depending on our healthcare and insurance system to cure our multiple ills - but it's at a huge cost for our country. Envision healing centers throughout the country that are affordable and all about preventative measures and natural healing. It could do us all a world of good both in our bodies and in our pocketbooks!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Health!

SF Gate Article - How Skinny People Stay Skinny

I'm always saying that The Healing Farm | Retreats and eventually The Healing Farm focusses and will focus on practical wellness solutions to build into your everyday life. Even though (according to this article) I'm about 20 pounds overweight right now, my focus in working with Chris Kresser and everything I've done in the past few years for myself has been about reducing inflammation in my body to reduce my chronic pain and health conditions - and doing so through practical means (like an elimination diet) that have (so far) worked in alleviating some (if not most) of my symptoms.

That doesn't mean I don't want to lose that 20 pounds, darn it! But given my age (almost 50) and my history with fluctuating weight, it's just not my focus right now since overall, I feel good and mostly chronic condition free. However, whenever I've talked to my husband and my close friends who have NEVER struggled with their weight, I'm always fascinated by the fact that they have never had to think about it. My husband and my very good friend have slightly different experiences in that my husband doesn't even think about food. He simply eats for sustenance. He eats when he's hungry. My good friend on the other hand has very sensitive taste buds and is a great cook. She loves food and wine, but has never struggled with her weight. She's always said she simply eats until she's full and then puts it aside. She'll even choose not to eat dessert if it isn't completely worth it taste-wise! I've NEVER had that kind of willpower.

Even though I'm convinced by newish studies about  weight being influenced by a whole host of things like your exposure to toxins, what your mother's body chemistry and biology were when she was pregnant with you, etc, I do think there's something to be said about willpower and the very simple things this article suggests. Given The Healing Farm wants to cultivate practical wellness, I feel it's important to reiterate those simple things this article mentions. Weight IS a huge issue for many in this country and IS a contributing factor to many chronic conditions, so maybe it's time to revisit what this article suggests!:

Routines of participants of the Global Healthy Weight Registry

1 - Eat breakfast: 96 percent

2 - Exercise:

  • Exercise 5+ days per week: 42 percent
  • Exercise 3 to 4 days per week: 27 percent
  • Exercise 0 to 2 days per week: 32 percent
  • Don't exercise: 10 percent

3 - Scale

  • Weigh themselves weekly: 50 percent
  • Weigh themselves infrequently: 27 percent

4 - Diet

  • Never or rarely diet: 74 percent
  • Have at least one non-restrictive strategy: 44 percent
  • "Non-restrictive strategies" include listening to inner hunger cues, eating high-quality (and non-processed foods), as well as cooking at home.

5 - Food Choices

  • Chicken is their favorite meat: 61 percent
  • Vegetarians: 7 percent
  • Don't drink alcohol: 33 percent
  • Eat salad for lunch every day: 35 percent
  • Eat vegetables at dinner every day: 65 percent

6 - Breakfast

  • Daily breakfast includes fruits and vegetables: 51 percent
  • Daily breakfast includes eggs: 31 percent

7 - Snack

  • Favorite snack is nuts: 21 percent
  • Favorite snack is fruit: 44 percent

8 - Beverage

  • Soft drink of choice is a diet soda: 33 percent
  • Favorite soft drink is regular: 25 percent
  • Don't drink soda: 37 percent

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!

MOO Blog Post - TEDx Talk About Finding the Work You Love

I was so pleased to see that the affordable printing site MOO posted this article on their blog. Not only was I inspired by this article and Scott Dinsmore's TEDx talk, I'm also always impressed with businesses that have a mission of offering a good service at an affordable price. It goes way back to Martha Stewart heralding the idea of bringing good design to the masses. Whether you love her or not, she purposely catered to a non-luxury market. She knew there was a middle market that had good taste and didn't want to go broke pursuing lovely things! 

I want The Healing Farm to be the Martha Stewart or MOO of the spa and retreat industry. I have my Week-long Paleo Reset Retreat at Mayacamas Ranch advertised as "A spa-like vacation without the spa prices". That is the business model I'm striving for with The Healing Farm and I was inspired by Scott's TEDx talk because I have been working so hard toward "Living my Legend". I am absolutely taking a huge risk switching careers at the age of almost 50, but not only can I not physically do what I do currently anymore, but I've had this nagging feeling I'm supposed to do more! I want to provide people with practical and affordable solutions for their long-term wellness and I've worked hard the last few years, doing all the things Scott talks about in his talk to get to the place I'm at now. Will I fail? Will I succeed? I don't know, but I was inspired to hear Scott say "Learn your own impossible." Sometimes I think what I'm trying to do is impossible for me. But to Scott's point in his talk, as I say to myself "How can I do this?" I'm also finding myself saying "How can I not?".

I read online when I was researching for this post that Scott was tragically killed this past fall while hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro with his wife. You know, you always hear the saying: If you died tomorrow are you happy with your life today?  I'm sure Scott never imagined he would die at the age of 33. But dang. It looks like he would have emphatically said YES to that question right before he died. It's such a strong message to us all to strive to do what you believe in. Imagine the impossible and maybe you too can change a life or two - or millions. 

I love this quote Scott ends his talk with:

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” ― Mahatma Gandhi.

I might be in the "ignore" phase right now, but I hope to build The Healing Farm one day to bring practical, affordable wellness to the masses in beautiful places around the country and perhaps the world. Impossible? Only if that's what I believe.