Happy September! It's back to school season (insert Happy Dance gif here)! This is my favorite time of year for all kinds of reasons. Back to school means fall is coming!! If you know me then you know that fall is my season. Boots & sweaters, lower temperatures, dense issues of Vogue magazine and best of all, soups, stews and fall produce! After all these years I still have a hot crush on butternut squash, brussels sprouts & chanterelle mushrooms. Being in the kitchen makes me happy and cooking fall foods makes me even happier.
I was recently talking with a group of people about Wellness and it was revealed that several of them did not have a clear understanding of what Wellness was "supposed" to mean. They had many varying opinions. Some seemed to think that Wellness was a vague and over-generalized concept, some felt it was strictly about being in good health and others felt that it referred to how healthy they were or if they exercised and ate a "healthy" diet.I choose to go with The National Wellness Institute's definition of Wellness as "a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential."
We all get stuck sometimes - even us coaches. But for all of us, the ONLY way to get unstuck is by making different choices or choosing a different response to an ongoing situation.
In other words, making some kind of change is the way to get unstuck.
Change requires accountability and uncovering what's holding us back. It’s usually not just about journaling our intentions, closing our eyes and then manifesting our hearts desire. Knowing what we want and taking steps (even teeny tiny ones) towards it is the only way to make it happen.
I've been on a bit of a chia pudding kick again lately - probably due to the abundance of fresh berries in the summertime. I'm all about anything that can be a vehicle for those berries! We can easily go through a couple of half-flats per week at our house. This morning I had vanilla chia pudding with a heap of gorgeous blueberries and some cacao nibs and as I was taking a picture for Instagram (as one does) I realized that while I have shared some recipes for chia pudding in my newsletter, I have never shared one on my blog.
My friend Lisa C. turned me on to this delicious quinoa salad that is fast becoming a staple at my house. She makes it a little differently each time depending on what's in her garden and in her fridge. Her rule of thumb is to use a mix of colors and textures with "a punch of sweet and a little bit of crunch." After cooking the quinoa in veggie or chicken broth she'll add things like small cubed/steamed beets, slivers of kale, diced cucumber and bell pepper along with currants or golden raisins and then pistachios, almond slices or toasted pine nuts. You can also add feta or goat cheese or some grilled chicken to make it even heartier. The final ingredient is a whole mess of finely chopped herbs like flat leaf parsley or mint or dill. Don't be afraid to experiment using whatever is available to you. This salad is really versatile!
Since I've been spending more time working at The Riveter I've noticed how many people run out and grab lunch instead of bringing something from home and I know from experience that eating out all the time can start to seriously add up. If you are spending an average of $10 per day, 3 x per week on lunch then you are spending in the vicinity of $15,00 per year on lunch. And if you're eating out more or spending more than that like most people, well, you do the math. Bottom line: it's a lot of dough (and not the tasty kind). Plus, you don't always know what you're getting when you eat out and that can impact your weight and your health.
Has this ever happened to you? You're late for an appointment and looking for parking. You end up driving right by a prime spot in front of your destination because there's a car on your tail and you feel bad about abruptly stopping, so you decide to drive around the block and go back for the spot but when you get there someone else has already grabbed it. This happened to me last week and my first reaction was to say to myself (using the unkind voice that lives in my mind), "Lisa, you idiot! You should have taken the spot when you first saw it." But lately I've been training myself to notice that unkind voice and what it's saying so I caught the thought pretty quickly. I consciously switched my inner dialogue and told myself "Lisa, it's OK. You are not an idiot. I love you." I immediately started to feel better.
There's an epidemic of sleeplessness in our culture that comes from too much cortisol and other hormones, ridiculous amounts of sugar in our diets, too much stress, too many screens and multitudes of things constantly clamoring for our attention. I have been an insomniac for over 20 years and as a result I've become an expert in some great ways to kick insomnia to the curb.
Last month I got to perform in a local community theater production of Guys and Dolls. Performing in musical theater again had been on my "wish" list for about 25 years and I am so freaking glad that I got to do it! Musical theater was a big part of my identity when I was younger. I was in everything from Bye Bye Birdie to Oliver and I loved singing and performing. Up until my sophomore year at college I was often in plays until I got way too cool and spent all my free time listening to music, dying my hair black, wearing armloads of silver bangle bracelets, going to clubs at 11:00 pm to hear bands and obsessing over cute British bass players- but that's a story for some other blog post…
While I absolutely love to cook and spend a lot of time tinkering with recipes and ideas in the kitchen, I have never been much of a baker. In part this is because baking is more of a science. Back in the day, when I tried things like baking bread but I always seemed to kill the yeast and when I made layer cakes they usually came out uneven and messy. But a larger reason for my not baking was if I baked something then I would eat it - and keep eating it. Cookies and sweet treats have always been a weakness for me. There was always the "bake and release" option but I didn't love baking enough to do it in my spare time so mostly I didn't bake.
When life is extra busy you want something warm, flavorful and comforting on deck, this Green Chicken Curry totally fits the bill. It comes together on no time and it's easily as good as anything you would order from your local Thai place. Once you've made it a couple of times it becomes a real no-brainer and as long as you have the basic ingredients on hand it can be on the table sooner than if you had it delivered.
A couple of years ago, with the big 5-0 on my horizon, I found myself in a bit of a meltdown. On paper my life was pretty awesome. I was married to a great guy, had 2 healthy, reasonably well-adjusted teenagers, I was living in an old craftsman house in a city that I loved and working from home with hours that I chose myself. I was healthy, had an active social calendar and regular trips to NY & LA. But as I got closer to that big birthday I started feeling lost. 50 sounded so BIG. So old. So middle aged. It was doing my head in.
No mater what your beliefs are, it's impossible to avoid seeing that this country is in the middle of some crazier than usual bullsh*t. It's really easy to get sucked into a sinkhole of anxiety, frustration and anger, and while sometimes those feelings can ultimately inspire action and change, they need to be balanced with some radical self-care or they will burn you out.
I don't know about you, but I am wrestling with keeping my shit together right now. I'll be going along, managing just fine, and then I will see or hear something that will send me spinning down a rabbit hole and running towards anything that will numb me out, like a bottomless bag of chocolate chips or endless hours of playing Hearts on my phone. I have nothing against chocolate or playing games on my phone but regularly numbing out to avoid reality is not a good long-term plan. So I decided to make a list of things I can do to balance the numbing and the upcoming right-wing agenda.
As you may already know, I am a big fan of a well-placed "f-bomb" and I'm fairly unapologetic about it. But there are words that I've become much more careful about using and they may not be what you think. Here's a list of the top 3 "bad words" that I try to avoid:
2016 was difficult in so many ways. For me it started with the death of David Bowie and went downhill from there. My husband was unemployed for 6 months, I gained around 15 lbs (hello menopause), I have teenagers (enough said), the election wrung me out, and then, like many of you, things came to an unimaginable, screeching smackdown in early November. This whole year it felt like the hits just kept coming. But despite these indisputable challenges, the year has also been full of wins. There have been goals met and shout-outs from the Universe that have been wonderful and deserve acknowledgement.
In getting back to the business of living my life these past couple of weeks, the practice of gratitude has been a very effective tool for moving out of the fear of an unknown future and into the present moment where all things are possible. So, in the spirit of giving thanks, I'd like to share with you my current gratitude list.
Lots of people have asked me for the hummus recipes from my Yes, this! Wellness retreat last weekend so here they are. Hummus is one of those things that is super simple to make and way more yummy when you make it yourself. It's also not an exact science: taste after you blend in your food processor or blender and then tweak accordingly.
I just returned home from leading my first Wellness retreat out on the Oregon coast and it was so much fun! My friend and co-facilitator, Dr. Louise Rose, and I taught our retreaters all kinds of cool stuff from TRE™ and reflexology with essential oils to how to reduce chronic inflammation in your body and in your mind (aka "stinkin' thinkin'"). There were foot baths and sauna time and journaling exercises and lots more, and it was all pretty wonderful but one of the things we loved the most was feeding everyone. Louse and I have a long history of geeking out over preparing delicious food with healthy ingredients and sharing inspirations and recipes so cooking for our retreat was a no-brainer.
I may have said this before, but I have a big crush on winter squash, and pumpkin is no exception. Pumpkin Spice lattes have too much sugar for me (sorry to be a buzzkill but a 16oz #PSL has a whopping 50g!) so I make other arrangements to get my pumpkin spice on. This is my recipe for Pumpkin Spice granola and it is the bomb! It's grain-free so a little goes a long way. It's great sprinkled on Greek yogurt, in a little bowl with the milk of your choice or in a bag as a snack. It's healthy, delicious and tastes like fall.