How to survive the winter

There are 52 days until spring. 52 long, dark, cold, and boring days left. I don’t know about you but I’m starting to lose it. My boys have been sick the past week and a half with bronchitis, ear, and eye infections. We have been house bound for what feels like eternity. Top that off with nonstop whining, crying, or screaming paired with naps that are too short and mid night wake ups and this momma is in over her head. Since I’m a planner, I decided to come up with a plan to survive the winter and early spring since it will still be cold as hell in March (boo hoo). Here are my recommendations:

  1. Drink. Fact is there’s not much I can do about the situation at hand. It sucks. Might as well have a glass of wine so I can enjoy part of the day.
  2. Ask for help. A few days ago, Maddox refused to go down for a nap. He would instantly fall asleep in my arms and then immediately pop up to standing the minute I put him down in his crib. Since he literally threw himself on the floor (from inside his crib with the mattress on the lowest setting), I was squeamish about leaving him alone in bed as he screamed his little head off. Luckily for both of our sakes, my mother-in -aw was over. After three unsuccessful attempts at putting him down, I was able to hand him over to her with tears in my eyes. Thirty minutes later, I no longer felt like screaming at the top of my lungs and pulling my hair out and I was ready to be a mother again.
  3. Invest in a face mask, a tub of hand sanitizer, and every supplement claiming that it will keep you from getting sick. It’s hard enough trying to stay healthy during the winter months without having little snot monsters coughing in your face, putting their sticky little fingers in your mouth, and giving you kisses covered in snot. My hands are raw from washing them and I have bought every possible tea, herb, and supplement that is supposed to fight off sickness. So far it’s working…but barely.
  4. Meditate- in a room by yourself. One day not long ago, I was with my boys in the family room and I told them that I needed a minute to myself. I laid on the floor and closed my eyes only to have Maddox drop the iPad on my face. I learned that lesson quickly. The incessant whining is really almost impossible to deal with 12-14 hours a day so even 5 minutes of quiet time (alone) can be the difference between a loving mother and a raving maniac. Trust me, you’ll be doing them a favor.

Well, that’s all I got. I can’t tell you that this list is working magic. I’m still exhausted, impatient, stir-crazy, and bored. If anyone has any amazing ideas of how to get through the next 52 days, I’m all ears.

Cheers to good health and snotty little noses.

 

Gratitude

A few weeks ago one of my friends posted on Facebook a recap of her year along with a list of things she was grateful for (thanks Jess for the inspiration). I loved reading about her year and I also loved that it reminded me to take the time to reflect on my experiences. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and never take the time to really reflect on the overall picture. Some of the highlights for 2015 for me were:

  • Vegas with Chris in January
  • Ft Lauderdale with the boys and great friends in February
  • Surviving a hellish trip home by myself with the boys
  • Family trip to Aruba in May with friends
  • Spending a week in Ohio in June with friends and family
  • Learning about Maddox’s food allergies and therefore helping him to heal
  • Watching Brooks start school. I continue to be so proud and amazed at his bravery, willingness to learn, and love of other people
  • Napa in October with a great group of friends
  • The surprise birthday party Chris threw for my 35th birthday
  • Going back to school for nutrition consulting. I love the curriculum and I feel good taking the time to do something for myself
  • Being with family for the holidays
  • Having my mother-in-law in our lives. We’ve been in Chicago for over 12 years and we didn’t have any family here until recently. It’s been great having her in our lives and more importantly in our boys’ lives.
  • Ringing in the new year with great friends and the boys
  • The work Chris and I have done together with our life coach. I feel so blessed that after almost 15 years together that we continue to grow closer
  • The work I have done alone with our life coach
  • New and old friends
  • Watching the boys grow. They make me laugh everyday. It’s amazing to see who they are becoming.
  • Taking the time to grow my yoga and meditation practice. The practice of consciousness is a work in progress but I feel blessed to have a growing awareness around it
  • My decision to become a Beauty Counter consultant. I don’t know what this will become but I’m happy to stand behind and share clean products
  • The fact that I’m still blogging. I get super discouraged pretty often. I have a difficult time finding the time to write. I don’t promote the blog very well. I often wonder if anyone reads it and why I take the time to write but it’s soothing for my soul. I write because I feel the need to. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of this.

There is no doubt that 2015 had its challenges but overall I’m really grateful for a blessed year. I hope that this sparks something in each of you so that we can all find something to be grateful for. Please, if you feel inclined, share with me and with others. Let’s keep this positive energy flowing.

 

Thank you for reading and for being a part of my passion. If you like what you read, please share with others.

Be blessed,

Melanie

Unsettled

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I love this time of year. Something about Christmas music, decorations, and celebrations always pull me towards my family. I can remember multiple times over the last decade, after spending Christmas in Ohio, crying to Chris because I hate living so far from our families. I used to ask him to promise me that we would move back someday. He was always honest with me; explaining that family is important to him too but that he couldn’t make that promise. A year or two ago we went as far as driving around Ohio to see if we could see ourselves there. As much as I hated to say it out loud, it honestly didn’t feel right at the time. That helped me to become more content with where we are but I’ve always kept the hope alive that someday our kids would be closer to family.

This year was no different. As much as I was ready to come back home, I loved being with family over Christmas. I love watching my boys play with their cousins and see their love and excitement for their grandparents. It warms my heart. It makes me second guess our decisions.

I find myself as conflicted on this today as I have been for the past five years. We have a wonderful life in Chicago, yet none of us are getting any younger. Maybe we are losing precious time with the ones we love. Still, picking up and moving to the suburbs in Ohio is scary and unsettling. Surely being close to family in a new place will bring its own set of problems. Will there be enough opportunities and stimulation for Chris? Will our marriage grow stronger or suffer? Are the things we want for the boys reason enough to pick up and move?

I don’t know the answer to any of this. I know that we aren’t moving back to Ohio tomorrow or anytime this year for that matter. I also know that I still hold hope in my heart. More than anything I ask God to guide us. I ask Him to allow me to lift up my worries and help me to trust that this too is in His plan for us. Each day, I work to allow myself to let go of my own will and the illusion that my life is totally in my control. Deep down I believe that we are living out God’s plan for us and that plan is perfect. It is a daily struggle for me and a difficult practice of letting go.

Spreading Joy

 

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It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only 15 days away. With so many November birthdays, Thanksgiving, and being back in school, Christmas has really snuck up on me this year. Instead of stressing about presents, Christmas cards, and other nonsense, I’ve decided to instead focus on helping others. There is so much uncertainty in the world right now. Between the recent San Bernardino shooting, ISIS, and the never ending war, there is undeniably a lot of fear and sadness.  On top of this there are people in our own neighborhoods that are grieving, hungry, sick, or cold. It’s easy to get caught up in all the fear and sadness and become paralyzed by it. Instead, I’m trying to focus on the goodness all around me. I am grateful for so much. I believe that each of us can find gratitude in our hearts. If we can really focus on it and feel that gratitude, then maybe we can all be compelled to share it. What better way can we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas than by serving and loving others? What an amazing way to honor God during this special time of year. I hope that each of you will find gratitude in your heart and be open to ways that you can spread this joy. I realize that everyone doesn’t have money to give and that’s more than okay. Maybe your way to spread joy is through words of encouragement for someone in need, offering your time & service, or simply just being joyful with others you meet.

Last Sunday a group of girlfriends and I prepared and served food to a group of people in need. On Tuesday, another small group of us went to buy food for a church’s pantry to feed the homeless, and toys for children in the hospital. These small acts of kindness remind me how much I have, how grateful I am for my health and my family, and just how much more there is to do. Sure, life is never perfect. Each of us carries our own load but focusing on this only feels heavy and hopeless. Focusing on others feels hopeful, light, and fulfilling. I have asked God to utilize me as a tool to do some of His work. I know there is more for me to do, and I feel blessed to do whatever task, large or small, that He sets before me.

What is it today that you can do to spread some joy? Please share your stories- on my blog, on Facebook, anywhere. Lets help to lift each other up during this sad yet joyous time.

 

Blah

I have a case of the Mondays. I’m tired for no particular reason. I can’t concentrate despite the looming deadline of my homework being due. I have anxiety and a persistent unsettled feeling. My stomach is off and my back and my neck are super sore. I’m not sure if my stomachache is due to my anxiety or to my poor food and lifestyle choices that I made for a solid week. Maybe it’s all due to that. Who knows? All I know is that despite all the sleep I got this weekend, despite not having a drop of alcohol since Thursday, and despite my morning yoga, I’m still in a funk.

I remember reading a study about how the food children eat affects their mood. Apparently there is a real connection between our guts and our brains. Really I don’t know why this is so shocking. Isn’t everything in our bodies connected?  Regardless, something tells me the week of drinking, excessive coffee, small doses of gluten & dairy, and lack of sleep have majorly caught up with me. Oh, and did I mention that I didn’t exercise for over a week and hardly found time to mediate?

Traveling, especially home for the holidays, is always a bit tricky. Don’t get me wrong, I love time spent with family. Every time we go back to Ohio with our boys, a part of me wants to pack them up and move them closer to our loved ones. But traveling also means we are out of our routine. We don’t have access to all of the same foods, or our blender for that matter. No one sleeps as much or as well. And regardless of how many times I’ve been down this road, I always end up drinking too much at least one night.

I find it interesting that I spend so much time, energy, and money on keeping myself and my boys healthy, but periodically I wash it all down the toilet with about about four (or more) drinks. If I’ve learned anything through the years, I’ve learned that I have a very low tolerance for alcohol. It’s something that you may or may not notice. I’m not fall over myself drunk. Typically, I can hang and I’m fine the night of. It’s the next day and even a few days later that I pay for it. This time I took so many activated charcoals that I literally threw them up. This was probably a blessing considering we had to fly home the next day. The point is that I know better but I continue to make myself suffer.

I feel like I’m beating myself up which isn’t exactly making me feel any better. Perfection is certainly not the goal either. I guess the point is that I’m paying for my poor choices. It isn’t fun but this too shall pass.

Despite my complaining and all this nonsense, my heart is full. God is good. I’m thankful on Thanksgiving as I am each and everyday. Slowly God is teaching me to step aside and let him lead the way. I’m thankful for the journey.

I hope that each of you had a happy Thanksgiving, a heart full of love, and a beautiful Monday. Cheers to making better choices and to the beauty of imperfection.

 

As always, if you like what you read, please share. Thanks for your time and for sharing in my passion.

Holy sugar!

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Sugar has been on my mind a lot lately. I always cringe around Halloween thinking about all of the sugar (and HFCS, food dyes, and chemicals) that are loaded in typical candy.  Also, about 8 weeks ago, I started my candida cleanse which made me rethink everything that I was eating. I quickly realized how much sugar was in my diet. It was very normal for me to eat something sweet after each meal. This coupled with my morning, fruit filled, smoothie, was quickly adding up to yeast overgrowth. I went cold turkey. For about 6 weeks, I had no almost no sugar in my diet. The only fruit that I had was lemon in my water. I didn’t eat anything processed that had sugar in it. Quickly my cravings subsided. It’s been about 10 weeks now and I can honestly say that I don’t crave sugar anymore. I have added some natural sugars back into my diet though, mostly in the form of fruits and starchy vegetables. But how much sugar is okay? Should natural sugar from fruit (veggies do have some sugar but other than limiting beets & potatoes, I didn’t worry about this) be treated the same as added sugar? And what about my kiddos? How much is too much?

In order to evaluate the sugar intake in my diet as well as in Brooks’ diet (my 3-year-old), I wrote down everything that we ate one day.

Me:

Breakfast: smoothie with blueberries (7 g), blackberries (4 g) , raspberries (8 g), 2 pears (18 g), spinach, carrots (5 g), coconut water (16 g), greens, Vega One protein powder (2 g), Body Vitality Super Greens(1 g): Estimated total for my portion: 20 g

(Sugar content taken from Pop Sugar blog)

Snack: 2 Bulletproof coffees with total of 4 Tbsp grass-fed butter, & 2 Tbsp Brain Octane

Lunch: left over beef soup (broth, beef, onion, rosemary, carrot, celery, garlic, bone marrow) with avocado, Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar Concord Grape Drink (5 g)

Snack: salt & vinegar chips (1 g) , Kevita Probiotic Drink, blueberry & cherry (6 g)

Dinner: Homemade meatballs (no added sugar), bok choy with garlic, ginger, olive oil, 1/2 sweet potato with butter (3 g), zucchini sticks with sauce (3 g) , homemade chicken broth

Snack: Nu-Medica Chocolate Greens (2 g); Ginger-chammomile tea with stevia

Estimated total sugar intake: 40 grams


Brooks:

Breakfast: Smoothie (Estimated 10 g for his portion); gluten free blueberry waffle (3 g) with maple syrup 1/8 cup (24 g), yogurt (11 g for whole container, he had about 1/2)

Snack: apple (19 g)

Lunch: 1/2 Sunbutter (3 g) & jelly (10g/Tbsp) sandwich on gluten free bread (1.5 g for 1 slice), Gluten free sesame seed crackers, cutie (13 g), apple (19 g), 1/2 avocado toast on gluten free bread (1.5 g), Good pop popsicle (14 g)

S: salt & vinegar chips (1 g) , 1/2 banana (7 g) , 1 Plum Organics pumpkin & banana pouch (9 g)

D: meatballs, 1/4 sweet potato (1.5 g)

S: 1/3 cup cranberries (26 g), chips (1 g), 1/2 banana (7 g)

Brooks’ estimated total sugar intake 180 grams

Total added sugar (not from fruits & veggies): approximately 62 grams


These numbers, especially Brooks’, are a bit alarming to me especially since I consider this to be a pretty clean diet for a toddler. This was also not a day that he had juice. According to recommendations by the World Health Organization, adults and children should keep their daily intake of sugar at or below 25 grams. (Link here) It is important to note, “The WHO guideline does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.”

So what’s the problem with containing too much sugar? Well, sugar is linked to weight gain, heart disease, tooth decay (Harvard Health Edu), decreased immunity (WebMd), and cancer.

“According to Dr. Mercola, “They (Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets) named several ways in which dietary fructose can promote cancer growth, including:

Altered cellular metabolism
Increased reactive oxygen species (free radicals)
DNA damage
Inflammation” (click here for whole article)

While this information is not meant to scare anyone, it is meant to be eye opening. Clearly, Brooks is getting too much sugar in his diet. I recognize that the majority of this is coming from fruits and vegetables which have important nutrients. Regardless, there was too much added sugar and this wasn’t the worst of days. I’m not suggesting that his diet is poor. I believe that he’s eating better than most toddlers. If this is true, then the average American toddler/child is getting way too much sugar in his/her diet.

The point is of this is only to be aware of what we eat and what we feed our children. Every decision that we make has either positive or negative health consequences. I believe in balance and in enjoying our food but I also believe that we can do better.

 

As always, if you like what you read, please share. Thanks for your time and for sharing in my passion.

xo, Melanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silly little lessons

Just a short while ago I was in my gym locker room getting ready for my day. I had set my stuff down and plugged in my hair straighter in a room where no one else was sitting. After I set up shop, I realized that my eyebrows desperately needed tended to. A few seats down from mine was a magnifying mirror so I took my tweezers and relocated in front of the mirror. A minute or so later, an older lady came to sit next to me where her stuff was lying. I could instantly tell she was annoyed with me. I asked her if I was in her way and she replied, “No, I’ll just move my stuff over. There is another mirror over there though.” This was not said in the nicest tone. Being the pleaser that I am, I immediately got up and said, “Ok, I’ll move”. As I did my eyebrows, a series of thoughts ran through my head. My thoughts sounded something like this, “What a bitch. Why does she feel so entitled? I wasn’t even that close to her stuff. I shouldn’t have m0ved. If I made her uncomfortable, then she should have moved….” and on and on. Sometime during this banter, another lady sat down right where I was sitting. I laughed inside. I wanted to laugh outside. I smiled and a part of me wanted that lady to see it. While I dried by hair, I became curious about the whole encounter. I desperately wanted to ask her why I had made her uncomfortable. I think a part of me thought that she needed to learn a lesson from the whole experience. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I realized at this moment that this is a pattern for me. I tend to think that experiences are here to teach someone else a lesson. I was almost done drying my hair, when I thought, “I wonder what this experience is here to teach me?” This is totally a statement that my beloved life coach would ask me. As I thought about this, a few questions came to mind 1. Why did this experience bother me so much? 2. Why do I feel the need to win people over? 3. Why do I care what this lady thinks of me? Shakti, my life coach, has also taught me (or has been trying to teach me) not to try to change or belittle my parts, but instead to love all of them. I guess I came to a few conclusions.

1. The part of me that always wants to please people is a kind part of myself that should be celebrated but also sometimes quieted.

2. The part of me that was calling that lady a bitch is a part of me that I’m always trying to hide. Truthfully, it needs to come out sometimes. I’m not suggesting that I say it out loud but even now when I call her a bitch in my head, it makes me feel kind of giddy.

3. My sense of entitlement was also at play which is strictly coming from ego.

4. This is all a bunch of nonsense because I’m talking about a mirror and a seventy year old lady.

This my friends, is what it’s like to be in my mind for 15 minutes…exhausting isn’t it? 🙂

The things I know now…

 

 

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Roughly two years ago I was trying to get pregnant with Maddox. I was frustrated because my cycles were irregular and I didn’t get pregnant right away. I decided to go back to The Nest for acupuncture. I remember talking to Sae, my acupuncturist,  about some of the things that were going on with me: sinus congestion, sore throats, PMS, irregular periods. Sae told me that she was happy that I wasn’t pregnant yet. She felt that we needed to work on building me up before I got pregnant. When I saw her for my next appointment two weeks later, I had a positive pregnancy test. Of course I was ecstatic. Sae was happy for me but I could tell she had wished we had more time to work on me first. My pregnancy with Maddox was a little more challenging than my pregnancy with Brooks. I attributed this to chasing Brooks around but looking back I think that Maddox and I both would have benefited had I spent time healing myself. I had tons of sinus issues during my pregnancy. I had a painful double ear infection. Only 6 weeks after Maddox was born he was diagnosed with a dairy allergy. He developed eczema when he was three months old. He had 3 ear infections from the time he was 6 months old to 1 year. Although it is quite possible that all of this would have happened regardless of what I did, my intuition tells me differently.

According to Donna Gates from The Body Ecology Diet,  “a baby’s inner ecosystem is passed down from the mother”. (Click here to read more about this) Therefore, if my gut biome was out of whack then I was passing this compromised system down to Maddox. I have spent the last six months trying to heal Maddox’s gut, but I can’t help but wonder if he would have had these problems if  I done some things differently before and during my pregnancy.

The decision to get pregnant is an exciting but stressful time in a woman’s life. Every month that ends with her period instead of a positive pregnancy test is extremely disappointing. If you are like me, you want to be pregnant the minute you and your partner decide that you are ready. I remember a little over two years ago, I went into our wine cellar and we were out of Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc (my favorite summer wine). I jokingly (but kind of seriously) went upstairs to tell Chris that it must be time to get pregnant. Honestly I didn’t think about preparing my body for the mighty task at hand. Instead I thought about drinking all the wine and eating all the sushi I could before it was no longer allowed. Looking back this seems silly. Of course we should prepare for the major undertaking of growing another human being. Clearly the wine I was drinking wasn’t helping anything.

So what would I do? I think if I were to decide to get pregnant again I would give myself a 6 month prep period to make sure that I was as healthy as possible. During this time, I would get acupunture. I would eat really clean- meaning organic veggies, organic fruits, grass-fed meats, organic chicken. I would cut out all gluten (damaging to the gut) as well as dairy, which is mucus forming. I would try to eliminate added sugar. I would drink in moderation. I would take probiotics and eat fermented foods daily. Fermented foods that are currently in my daily diet are, Vitality Super Greens, Farmhouse Culture Kimchi (I like the spicy ginger), Gut Shot (Also from Farmhouse Culture) , Bubbies Sauerkraut & Pickles, Kevita Probiotic Drinks, and occasionally kefir (I’ve had small amounts of goat milk kefir). I would also drink bone broth daily. Bone broth is loaded with vitamins, minerals, collagen, gelatin, and amino acids. According to The Bone Broth Miracle, pregnancy can “strain the naturally occurring levels of glycine”, which is an amino acid in bone broth that has important functions in the body such as converting energy to glucose, “regulating blood sugar levels, energy levels, DNA, RNA, and the production of bile”. Glutamine, another amino acid in bone broth, is helpful for healing the body and the intestines. It can also be helpful for weight issues. Collagen, which is abundant in bone broth, “strengthens hollow organs in the body, like the uterus, intestines, and artery walls.” Ariane, the author of ‘The Bone Broth Miracle’, goes on to say that “Type V (of the 28 or more types of collagen) makes up the placenta, hair, and the surface of cells.” I’m sipping on some homemade chicken bone broth as I write this.

My pregnancy diet would basically be the same as my pre-pregnancy prep diet. Remember, this way of eating isn’t about restricting calories. Actually, I’m a huge fan of high calorie, nutrient dense foods like nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, butter, and avocados. I’m a believer in eating whole, nutrient dense foods and listening to our bodies. Eat when you are are hungry. Don’t worry about how much you are eating. Instead worry about what you are eating.

Although I haven’t been successful in getting Maddox to eat everything I want him to, it is important to note, that his eczema is totally gone and he hasn’t had an ear infection in the four months since I started trying to heal his gut. The power of the food we eat is not to be questioned.

Obviously exercise shouldn’t be overlooked. Once again, I think it’s important to listen to our bodies. When you are trying to get pregnant or if you are pregnant, don’t feel like you need to push yourself. Be active but do what feels good.

Stress is another huge factor in our lives during this time. As challenging as it is, this is the most important time in our lives to carve out time for meditation. Start with 5 minutes a day. Take the time to take care of yourself.

I think it’s also important to mention that I have no financial gain to promoting any of these products. I do a lot of reading and these are things that I wished I had known two to four years ago. I think there is a serious lack of education on this subject. I have a lot of friends that have had fertility issues. I’m not trying to tell anyone that I can solve their problems. Although I haven’t experienced these things, my heart honestly breaks for you. I understand what a physically and emotionally stressful time this is and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Obviously I’m not a doctor or even a nutritonalist. I’m just a girl that wants to share what I’ve learned so far in the hopes that it can positively influence someone out there. Given the chance, this is what I would do with what I know now. I know it wouldn’t be perfect but our bodies are amazing at healing themselves. Sometimes they just need a little T.L.C.

A new approach to parenting

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This past Saturday Chris and I attended an all day Conscious Parenting Seminar. We had heard about it through our life coach and between the two of us we were familiar with both of the keynote speakers. I had read Dr. Shefali’s, ” The Conscious Parent” book and Chris has been involved with Jim Dethmer’s Conscious Leadership Group for the last year or two. The day flew by. It was both transformational and loving. In a parenting seminar, you might expect to talk about your children’s issues and how to discipline them. Although we did touch on discipline, the day was more about us as parents. The goal of a conscious parent, or a conscious human being for that matter, is to be fully present, to learn to separate our emotions from the event, and to be mindful instead of being reactive. The day, of course, came at a perfect time. The night before Chris and I were discussing feeling disconnected. Also, the morning of, Brooks was being particularly whiney. I was feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and although I can’t speak for Chris, he was quite obviously irritated. We came home that day with a totally different mindset.

Dr. Shefali gives a very direct, funny, yet kind point of view that I found quite refreshing. She had us laughing out load several times. She talks about how having kids is the ultimate ego booster. We come into this stage of our lives with all kinds of false delusions. We have thoughts of how our children will look, act, and be. We think that they should be thanking us for the life that they were born into and all the kind things that we do. When they inevitably act out of what we would consider ideal, we get triggered, and reactive. Often times the issue isn’t what the child is or isn’t doing. Instead why did this behavior trigger us in the first place? What does this mean in my life? If we can learn to get curious about our feelings we can allow our children to be the mirrors and teachers that they are meant to be.

I found Jim Dethmer to be calm, kind, and informative. His overall message is very similar to Dr. Shefali’s but his approach, description, and personality are quite different.

So what does it mean to practice conscious parenting? In my (unenlightened) opinion, it means really slowing down. It means that when I’m spending time with my kids to really be there, mentally as much as physically. It means setting my agenda aside and learning how to just be. It also means learning to check in with myself. It means disciplining when necessary but not from an angry, reactive state. It means learning to let go a little, to be silly and make things fun.

I can imagine my family reading this thinking that I’m going to stop discipling my children and let all hell break loose. This isn’t what conscious parenting is about. It’s about setting boundaries and guiding them to be the people that they are meant to be, not the illusion that we created. It’s about paying attention. In my opinion this takes a lot more work than the traditional model of parenting but in this version, it allows much more room for personal growth. The purpose, of course, is not to try to be perfect. It’s not even about not being mad. It’s about realizing that you are mad; then asking yourself if you can accept that you are mad. Perhaps letting go of this anger before discipling your child or perhaps not. Conscious living is a journey not to be mastered but definitely to be practiced.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Shefali’s work, I invite you to watch her Ted talk, here. Also, please learn more about Conscious Leadership, here.

It is my hope that in practicing conscious parenting I will raise conscious human beings. How are you practicing conscious parenting? I would love to hear from you!

Say Goodbye to Hangovers

Anyone that knows me well probably knows that I’ve always suffered from horrible hangovers. In college and for a few crazy years after, it was pretty normal for me to throw up the next morning after binge drinking. You would find me laying on the floor in our sorority house until it was time for me to get showered and dressed for another night out. These days I do a lot less binge drinking but I still suffer the consequences of having a few drinks. I’ve tried a few “hangover cures” that other people recommended through the years but with no avail. I still woke up drowsy, irritable, and stuffed-up, with a headache and major GI issues. That was until recently. A few months ago at my girlfriend’s bachelorette party, the host (also a friend) handed out activated charcoal pills as party favors. I was instantly intrigued. I followed her instructions to a tee: have one activated charcoal after your first drink, another one about 2 hours later, and then Advil before bed. The next day I was tired but felt amazingly better than I should have.

Since then, I have (of course) done some research on the topic. Since I’ve been pretty obsessed with Bulletproof radio (and everything Bulleproof for that matter), I came across a 10 minute podcast on Hacking the Hangover. To give you the cliff notes, Dave basically suggests that you 1. Drink clear alcohol 2. Drink one glass of water for each alcoholic drink 3. Take activated charcoal 4. Take Glutatathione Force (an antioxidant).

This past weekend Chris and I along with 4 other couples went to Napa for 3 nights. Clearly, I wasn’t going to drink clear alcohol there. We were in beautiful wine country. I did; however, come armed with a bottle of activated charcoal as well as Glutatathione Force. I can tell you without a doubt that the activated charcoal was the saving grace. I passed them out like candy and took about 4 per day. Other than being tired and a little off, I felt amazing. I cut the Advil out of the regimen since I’m all for natural cures. I never took or needed a pain reliever or another pill. I also made a few of our friends believers.

So what is activated charcoal and how does it work? According to WebMD:

“Common charcoal is made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell, or petroleum. “Activated charcoal” is similar to common charcoal, but is made especially for use as a medicine. To make activated charcoal, manufacturers heat common charcoal in the presence of a gas that causes the charcoal to develop lots of internal spaces or “pores.” These pores help activated charcoal “trap” chemicals.

Activated charcoal is used to treat poisonings, reduce intestinal gas (flatulence), lower cholesterol levels, prevent hangover, and treat bile flow problems (cholestasis) during pregnancy.”

To put this in layman’s terms, activated charcoal helps your body rid itself of toxins- including alcohol. I was worried that maybe I was overdoing it but according to the Bulletproof blog, “Taking activated coconut charcoal on a daily basis is a great way to help you thrive in an overly toxin-filled environment.” Dave goes on to say that he also takes activated charcoal when he eats out at restaurants because lets face it, the quality of ingredients is rarely what you use at home.

Bulletproof sells a Coconut Charcoal Capsule that I just purchased. It’s not the one that I had in Napa. That one came from Whole Foods, but I believe in the quality of Bulletproof products and having the cleanest charcoal possible seems like a good idea.

  • Please note, if you are taking medications don’t take them with activated charcoal. Also, if you have any health issues, always consult with your physician.

Cheers! I hope you find the results as amazing as I have.