Winter Survival Guide- 34 Days Until Spring!

The fresh snow clinging to the tree limbs after a storm is breathtakingly beautiful…the first day. After what feels like weeks of cold and snow, I’m over it! The skiers are happy, but I don’t have anything that helps me love winter. I just try to wait it out and pray for spring. In the process, I try to make it tolerable.  Some Vitamin D and these strategies help.

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Practice mindfulness.

I’m trying to enjoy the beauty of winter. Tree limbs are gently lined with snow. Ice formations have appeared in surprising spots. The crisp air fills my lungs. I have much to be grateful for and try to focus my attention there.


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Spend time with friends and family.

In January we had a lot of company. It was so fun to have friends and family around us. It’s amazing how much fun you can have hanging out at home with people you love. It reminded me that I need to put on a pot of soup, invite some friends over, and dig out those board games more often.


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Catch up on books and movies that are on your list. 

Winter is a great time to read some of those books on your list that can’t wait for the beach. If you are a movie buff, catch up on all the Oscar nominated films you missed.


iStock_000002434392SmallAdd color to your surroundings.

Citrus and flowers make me smile. A bowl of lemons, oranges or limes on the counter give me something cheery to focus on. A blooming orchid will add beauty for weeks. Even a few single flowers can add a lot to a room.


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Plan your garden or containers.

The view outside of my kitchen window is dreadful. Last year I planted two climbing hydrangeas. This year I want to add to it so that when I look out the window, I see a lovely little shade garden rather than just a fence. I’m also dreaming about ways to enhance the rest of the yard.


Almalfi

Plan a trip.

I don’t know when my next trip will be, but the travel books are on the coffee table!

What do you do to survive the winter?

Back to Basics

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Over the past year, I have enjoyed my journey of recovery through healthier eating and living. At the start of the year, I was strict. Honestly very little of the food I ate was actually delicious, but it was healthy. After I started feeling a little better, I incorporated a little oil back into the diet. I also started including sugar on occasion too, mostly just for treats. With the holidays and being so busy, the “splurges” started to occur much more frequently. I know that for me once sugar is reintroduced, I want it all the time! That is the risk of “cheating”.

So I have decided to go back to basics for a while. For me this means focusing on a plant-based, gluten-free, vegan diet with a lot of greens, especially cruciferous vegetables. I started today with a green smoothie made of spinach, a banana, and a few pieces of papaya. I’ve made my favorite oil free salad dressing from Dr. Fuhrman, and I’ll be creating a beautiful salad for dinner. I’m back to basics, and it feels good!

Three essential steps make it possible to pull this off:

  • Have a plan. I make a list of things to make for the week. With menu options ready to go, I am much less likely to start dreaming of take-out options.
  • Prepare everything in advance. Prep vegetables for salads or snacks. If the carrot is peeled and cut it is much more likely to find it’s way into my mouth.
  • VARIETY, VARIETY, VARIETY! Variety is everything.

Mango Crumble

I love shopping at Costco and returning home with a car full of healthy food. At some point after a shopping trip, the fruit will start to ripen at the same time. Usually I will put what I can’t eat in a freezer so that I can use it in a smoothie. Today I opted for a Mango Crumble. It was delicious! Here is the recipe, which has been adapted from It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great, by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen. This would be delicious with whatever kind of fruit or combination you have on hand, so get creative!

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Ingredients:

4 mangos peeled and diced

5 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 cup almond meal

1 cup oatmeal

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the fruit in a shallow baking dish with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix the almond meal, oatmeal, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Add the olive oil and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and mix until combined. Pour the crumble over the fruit and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Beautiful Inside and Out

Last week I attended a yoga class after work. An hour after the class started, a woman entered the room and set up her mat. My teacher continued nonplussed by this late addition. As the latecomer got organized, the woman next to me hissed, “This class started an hour ago.” The latecomer looked shocked. Maybe she had just had one of those days. My teacher then paused and said, “Hi Dee! I’m so glad you are here. You are just in time for the floor portion of class.”

Those reactions were not planned. They were viseral. In that moment, I admired my teacher so much. That’s the kind of person I want to be on and off of the mat- welcoming and genuine. She cared more about that student than anything else at that moment. It was beautiful.

Survive the Cold with Hot Yoga

Across many parts of the country people are trying to stay warm. Extra layers of cloths, lots of hot tea, and comfort foods have all been part of my strategy for surviving this wintery weather. While it is tempting to head straight home and avoid the cold nights, my secret weapon isn’t at home. It’s hot yoga. On Monday, my teacher got there early to make the studio extra toasty for us. Even though the temperatures were dipping especially low on Tuesday, I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I usually am in these temperatures.

For those of us who suffer from Raynaud’s Disease, the cold is especially difficult. My fingers and toes go numb, which makes it really difficult to do simple tasks. This escalates to pain in some of my toes. With regular yoga classes each week, I have been able to avoid the pain in my toes and have reduced the numbness. I’m so grateful for yoga, my teacher, and a generous community at the studio. I’m grateful for a body that moves, for the finances to pay for the classes, and for the discipline it takes to get there consistently.

I can’t say that I am loving winter, but I’m not uncomfortable. That is progress. What do you do to deal with the cold?

Looking Ahead to 2014

Vector 2014 Happy New Year background.

As I contemplate the year ahead, I hear Mary Oliver whispering in my ear, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?” What do I have planned for this year? month? week? day? hour?

The list of wishes is endless- visit new places, try new things, and make new friends. I want to make some big, bold decisions. I want it to be a year to remember. I want my family to be safe, healthy and happy. I want my friends to be filled with hope and surrounded by love. I want to inspire others and to find inspiration for myself.

I’m clear on the big picture, but what are the micro-decisions that make a big impact? For me, practicing mindfulness is essential. I had a lot going on during the month of December. On top of all of the holiday activities, there was drama at work, and my dad had surgery. I started feeling the pressure and some of my symptoms started to flare. One day before heading to the hospital, I noticed how my brain was racing from thought to thought frantically trying to process events and prioritize the things that needed to get done. My body was tense and even though it was early in the morning, I felt exhausted. It occurred to me that I was just zooming through the motions of my daily life, so I tried to focus on the moment. As soon as I made that shift, the endless stream of thoughts slowed, and I could feel my body relax a bit.

My intention for the past few months has been to take care of myself so that I have the capacity to care for others. I have made a lot of progress with this, so now I want to focus on mindfulness and reaping the benefits this practice can bring. How do you stay mindful? How will you answer Mary Oliver’s question?

Looking Back on 2013

gratitudeLately I have been reflecting on the past year and how important it has been for me. I realized that while the last thing anyone wants to hear is that they have a chronic disease that will likely never go away, I was grateful for a diagnosis. It meant that I wasn’t falling into some inexplicable depression. I was physically sick but mentally relieved.

I am grateful for the ability to stick with my experiment of eating vegan and gluten-free for 1 year! In the beginning, I kept telling myself it was for three months, then six months, or until my next round of blood work. Now I don’t even think about the end. I am grateful for the support, resources, and will to try it long enough to see results.

I am grateful for birthday surprises. The love and care that was shown to me for my birthday was a turning point for me. That weekend at Canyon Ranch opened a door that has launched the transformation.

I am grateful for yoga and for inspiring teachers who encourage me to take the next step in my practice.

I am grateful for the courage to imagine new possibilities and to dream of new horizons.

I am grateful for new beginnings.