Remember that creative, balanced, colorful, self you used to be? Yeah, me neither some days.
A couple kids, a couple jobs, and way too many take-out dinners have come between you and your younger, energetic self. It’s time for a deep Spring cleaning.
Before you jump on the juice cleanse bandwagon, consider taking a more radical step for deeper health gains.
Below the Surface
Americans pay millions every year for cleansing products that claim to boost the body’s power to ‘de-toxify’ and purge toxic waste.
Call me a skeptic. But 3 days of juicing and pooping are a pretty inadequate attempt to fix a lifetime of bad habits and all those environmental chemicals, absorbed and excreted along with your daily body waste.
What if you could really clean house? Get into those corners that never see the light of day. Yeah, deep tissue. But even deeper than that. Clean out all that toxic emotional waste that’s been dragging you down.
As Spring approaches, we come into the Wood element season, according to Chinese 5-element theory. Your Wood element organs are your Liver and Gallbladder. Some pretty fierce emotions come up when these organs are out of balance.
How do you know if your Liver or Gallbladder are out of harmony as Spring approaches?
9 Signs That You Need a Liver Cleanse:
- You feel stuck and mildly depressed – you feel the need for change, but can’t take the first step.
- You’ve lost your sense of direction or purpose in life – you’re asleep at life’s wheel.
- People you love and trust often feel the brunt of your anger and arrogance.
- You’re always making excuses for not taking steps to achieve your dream in life.
- You feel especially irritated and crabby at everyone around you right now, for no particular reason.
- It’s been years since you did something creative – write, paint, sing, act, dance.
- You’ve been stubborn, inflexible, and unwilling to adapt to a new situation.
- Black, brown, and gray are your main wardrobe colors (even if they ARE slimming).
- Resentments over old injustices keep coming between you and others.
Spring Cleaning Your Mind and Heart
Instead of feeling powerless and stuck, open the emotional gates with a gentle, 2-week Liver cleanse. Purge your body’s hidden waste and revive sluggish emotions. Adopt easy, seasonal food guidelines that align your body, mind, and soul, with Spring.
Start thinking of yourself as a balanced human, with all the qualities of a healthy Wood element – creative, forward-thinking, forgiving, flexible, vibrant.
Even if you’ve never thought about cleansing before, there’s a healthy plan that fits your lifestyle. Contact Natural Healing Omaha at firstname.lastname@example.org for a personalized, guided cleanse appointment.
Spring back to the old you this season.
Read more about seasonal cleansing: Wake up Your Liver This Spring!
Tony and I meet in a small room once a year for a couple hours, and what we do is enough to satisfy both of us for another year. I feel so good after we’ve spent time together. We don’t waste time on small talk. We get right down to business.
Tony is my health insurance agent.
We get along great, because we agree completely on one very important thing – the best way to lower health costs is to take care of yourself.
Taking His Own Advice
Tony’s an ambitious guy, and he makes it a priority to keep my health insurance cheap. He’s gotta make a living, just like me, so he makes it his job to keep me happy. I’m not his typical client, as you can imagine.
And he’s not your typical insurance agent. We had our annual insurance review recently, and I noticed that Tony, who is 70 years old, looks as good or better than he did last year. From the smile on his face to his enthusiasm for work, he’s one of those rare people you know you’re gonna like right when you meet ’em.
“Did you lose weight?” I asked him.
“About 12 pounds,” he answered in his typical no nonsense, matter-of-fact tone. Then he excitedly shared that he recently took up practicing yoga at home 4 days a week. “I want to improve my flexibility and strength so I can keep golfing 3 days a week.”
Can you believe this guy?
My 70-year old insurance agent is practicing downward dog to his “Yoga for Wimps” CD 2 hours a week, between a 15–minute recumbent bicycle warm-up and 15 more minutes of stretching and hamstring work.
The Power of Inertia
For the same reason that I want my healthcare providers to be the picture of health, I appreciate that my health insurance agent practices what he preaches. And does he ever.
What keeps a guy like that working – and working out – at his age? It’s like that law of physics – an object in motion tends to stay in motion. His philosophy is “use it or lose it”.
People fascinate me, especially the ones who live in ways contrary to popular habits. On my morning walk one day, I greeted this guy who had paused his daily jog momentarily to pick up trash from the street. During our brief conversation, I discovered he’s long past retirement but still teaches at a local university Math department.
What compels him to jog in his 70’s? “You gotta keep moving to feel young and healthy.” Today, after our usual quick exchange of hellos, he proudly announced that he’d beaten his one and only health problem (insomnia) by quitting soft drinks. This guy totally gets it – he’s exercising his power to choose health.
Uphill Battle Worth Fighting
I’m 52 next year, and staying in shape and good health takes a bigger commitment than it did 20 years ago. This is truer every year.
Up through my 40’s, I could take a 45-minute walk 5 days a week and that kept me at a consistent weight, without too many reasons to see a doctor, other than yearly checkups.
These days, I need twice as much exercise, plenty of daily herbs, and I have to be on guard about everything I put in my mouth. Weight goes on SO easily and comes off only with serious struggle. And it’s not just me. Women around my age tell me this every day.
I watched my dad exercise every day until he died jogging at age 60 – 15 years longer than his father and brothers lived. He set a good example, and I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t quit exercising, no matter how lousy I felt.
Walking, yoga, Qi Gong and hiking make me feel energetic. When I feel good, I’m likely to eat well and feel optimistic. I try not to resent the time it takes. Of course, sometimes I’d rather be spending it on my butt watching TV or eating vanilla sugar wafers. Man, I love sugar wafers. But they don’t love me.
Some days it’s a struggle and some days I look forward to the time outside or on the mat, sweating and swearing at my yoga teacher under my breath – “Oh pleeeease, not another plank”.
The Lesser of Two Evils
Staying healthy as we age takes a bigger chunk of our time and attention. And some days that kind of sucks.
But it doesn’t suck as much as being sick all the time.
If you need help getting well enough to start working out, let’s talk. Adaptogen herbs can restore the strength and energy you’ve lost to chronic illness or poor lifestyle habits. You can read more about adaptogen herbs in this earlier blog.
The next time I see Tony will be around Christmas next year. And that’s soon enough. He’s already given me the gift that keeps on giving – a cheaper monthly premium than last year and a good reminder to keep moving.
I’m planning for plenty of healthy years ahead of me.
Related Post: An Ounce of prevention and a Pinch of Attention
LouAnn suffers from painful arthritis and persistent fatigue.
LouAnn’s been coming to see me for a year, but around 6 months ago, her progress started to level off. When this happens, sometimes it’s because the client is tired of taking herbs and constantly having to monitor their health habits and practices.
Getting healthy when you’ve been struggling with chronic illness can be a chore. It’s like a full-time job with no vacation.
But LouAnn takes her personal health seriously. She never takes a day off from the herbal and lifestyle plan we put together.
Definitely not a quitter.
No one to blame
But something happened. She stopped improving. For a month or two, whenever she visited me, we’d try to sort out why no changes were happening.
“Did you stop taking your herbs?” No.
“Has your life been extra stressful lately?” No, not particularly.
“Are you still exercising?” Yep, still at it.
Do you ever feel like just when you have a grasp on something, you have to return to the basics and re-learn what you thought you knew?
It was so tempting to take her lack of progress personally.
Digging deep for answers
Instead of blaming and quitting, or seeing another practitioner, LouAnn talked about her stalled progress and asked if I had anything else in my bag of tricks. She wanted me to go deeper, talk to my colleagues for ideas, do some research.
Rather than guessing based on what I already knew, I questioned what information was missing. Then I leaned into the complexity of her health history. Outside our regular appointments, I had hours of extra work to do.
I set her file aside and in my down time, I dug deep into my herbal resources – professional books, textbooks, practitioner guides and Chinese Medicine philosophy – for answers.
It paid off.
Studying clients like LouAnn, with complicated health histories and unusual symptom patterns, has made me question my assumptions. And in the end, it’s rearranged what I understand about ALL of my clients.
I’m glad my practice is attracting clients with more complex concerns.
Otherwise, my clinical skills might get a little stale.
I might start to think I know everything.
Today, I’m back to blogging just long enough to tell you that I’m still here.
I’ve just been a little quiet lately. Questioning my assumptions.
Sharpening my herbalist skills. Coming up with a new plan for LouAnn.
Thanks for hanging in there with me…
Related post: Are You Listening Or Just Waiting Your Turn?
As a student in herb school, I remember learning about a system of medicine where families would pay the village doctor to keep them healthy, but once a family member became ill, the service was free. What a brilliant twist on today’s approach to medicine – provide incentive to keep you from becoming a patient.
I’m not suggesting you pay me in chickens to keep you well all year. But if you could correct unhealthy patterns before they become disease, would you? If you could switch the focus to staying well instead of insuring expensive fixes to preventable problems, wouldn’t that make good sense?
Today, I saw a client who totally gets this approach. She isn’t suffering from any serious problems, eats a healthy diet, does work she loves, and is in a fulfilling relationship.
She’s a model client, and frankly, seeing her was a no-brainer. Until I understood what she was asking from me.
She wanted a different kind of client-provider relationship than I’m used to having. Instead of struggling to correct problems, she wanted my support and guidance to stay well.
She saw me as someone who could step back, look at her whole life, her daily practices, her dreams for the future, and offer some advice on how to stay in the good health place she’s in.
In the end, what she wanted was help managing her enthusiasm for the projects ahead of her, without getting overwhelmed and disorganized.
Health care isn’t about insuring against what might go wrong. It’s what you do to prevent that: exercise, schedule down-time, stay in community, laugh, work, eat a variety of foods, and check in with someone who asks what you’re doing right, not what’s going wrong.
Who’s keeping you accountable for your own good health? Is there someone you can call to ask about minor concerns before they become major problems?
For years of vitality, not a future of prescriptions and surgeries, start now with a baseline herbal assessment, then follow up regularly to stay on the health track.
You can expect to feel healthy and vital as you age, and if that’s not the message you’re getting, then it’s time to see someone who practices health, not medicine.
What are your practices for staying healthy? Do you follow a special diet, workout plan or spiritual practice that keeps you well? Share your comments here and let us know what’s been working for you.
8 seconds. That’s how long I scrolled on Facebook to find a blog/link/post about the latest unhealthy food. Then, when I Googled the phrase ‘bad food’, I got 2.1 billion search results. Billion!
Food-fear is nothing new.
In the 70’s, we were warned that fat was bad for our arteries, so Mom switched us to margarine instead of butter. Remember how that margarine thing worked out?
Then, my dad’s doctor warned him against too much salt, so out the door that went. And forget about eggs. No way. Big killer.
In the 80’s, we counted calories, to drop the weight from the processed foods that replaced the evil fats we cut out in the 70’s.
In the 90’s, convenience was king, and we threw out all the rules and enjoyed our fast food lunches crammed into our 10-hour workdays. Life was all about success and big houses and keeping up with the Joneses.
Honestly, I don’t remember all the food fads over the past 40 years (and excuse me if I mixed up my decades), but some pretty lousy advice has been handed down under the guise of ‘research’ from food manufacturers, healthcare providers, and mass media.
I feel so guilty eating practically everything these days. Every food on the shelves, in the CSA box, or from the garden, has been so demonized.
Even something as purely healthy as an egg gets analyzed, researched, and questioned, until someone comes up with a ludicrous list of qualifications a simple egg should meet to enter our mouths:
- Omega-3 enhanced (what in the world did those poor chickens have to go through to qualify?)
- Gluten-free (seriously?)
- Farm-raised – is ANY farm strict enough to meet this standard?
- Local (that’s always nice, I guess)
- Fresh (doesn’t that go without saying?)
Once upon a time, eggs came in 4 sizes and by-the-dozen only.
Remember when the only bread choice we considered was homemade or store-bought? Now we worry about gluten, whole-grain, trans fats vs polyunsaturated ones, and food coloring. Since when does bread need to be colored?
For just one meal, I want to eat without running through the pedigree of my meal. I know I should be buying my food from local, organic farmers with free-range animal products and environmentally sustainable practices. I fully support these practices, but this takes an enormous amount of time. And a good plan.
And I’m working on it, little by little. I started by shopping the organic section of my grocery stores, reading food and farming blogs, and I’m finally going to join a CSA this Spring and see what THAT’S all about.
But for now, I’d like to pour a bowl of oatmeal without worrying about whether it’s organic or gluten-free, and top it with walnuts without wondering if they’re covered in pesticides, and mix it up with some organic milk that might not be from a farm nearby, and top it off with dried cranberries that probably have some sugar added because I couldn’t find the unsweetened ones I’m supposed to buy.
It would be a little slice of heaven to enjoy a warm spoonful of breakfast and not for a split second wonder if the grain is genetically modified.
I love to eat, but we’ve taken all the fun out of eating in our culture. Food is a minefield of potential cancer-causing, inflammation-inducing terror. No wonder everyone is so confused and stressed about what to feed their families.
Today, for just one meal, eat without guilt, or fear, or disappointment. Before you start your new eating habits – low fat, high fat, low sugar, no sugar, vegetarian, paleo, vegan, grass-fed – enjoy that juicy steak and baked potato smothered in gravy with a side of delicious, and sugary, gluten-laden pie for dessert with a smile on your face.
Life is stressful enough. Enjoy your food, even if it’s not the most healthy thing you’ve had this week. Then tomorrow, pick just one thing to do differently. Eat a little less, skip dessert, add a vegetable to your plate without worrying about who grew it. You’ll get there. It’s a process. One step at a time.
Could forgiveness heal a relationship that’s important to you? My guest blogger, Life Coach Nancy Dennis, shares personal insight on how she learned the lesson of forgiveness.
I remember when I was first presented with the concept of forgiveness being a conscious choice. It had nothing to do with how I felt, wrongs being righted, or justice. Now this was news to me, because I had been wronged, deeply wronged, and anyone would agree with me. But here was an opportunity to see something differently. Not looking at what had happened, but looking at how I was going to choose to ‘be’ in the light of it.
What I learned was that forgiveness was not about saying what had happened was now OK or forgotten. It simply meant two things:
1. I would choose to no longer allow myself to roast the other person on the spit – to turn over and over again the wrongs done, and turn up the heat of my anger and resentment.
2. I would choose to no longer play the victim card — not in my mind, my conversation or my actions. The facts were facts, without right or wrong, and I was no longer reopening the wound and poking at it.
Up until that time, I believed that you had to feel ready to forgive, to in some way say “this is now OK”.
But forgiveness had nothing to do with feelings, or never remembering, or saying it no longer mattered. It had everything to do with moving on.
I was encouraged to begin this process when I was ready to commit to those two things – no more roasting on the spit, and no more victim.
Now here’s the interesting part…I found myself resisting this guidance. I convinced myself I just needed to get my head around it, needed more time, wanted to feel better about the concept – you get the drift. And then I proceeded to wrap this up in a nice tidy bundle and put it on the shelf way back in the recesses of my mind – in my “someday I’ll do this…” box.
It wasn’t until about 6 months later that forgiveness came up again. I was asked to look at how much time I had spent reviewing and rehashing the wrong done to me. And then to look at how long in physical time, the event had taken.
Lastly, how much longer was I going to surround myself with this toxic essence, when I could just decide to set it down, let it go, and be present and thankful for the here and now?
I realized it was time to forgive. To just lay it down, no more roasting on the spit, no more victim, no more looking back. Just let it go. I made the conscious decision to forgive, and I made the promise to myself that if I ever again brought up the thoughts or feelings, as soon as I recognized what I was doing, I would remember that I was no longer allowing myself to think like that – I had let this go. Love and peace and blessings to all.
If you’re reading this, and you find there is something or someone you need to forgive – if it’s niggling your heart – then I encourage you to make the choice to forgive. I guarantee you it is not serving you well.
From my own personal experience, forgiveness has been one of the best things I have done in my life.
You can reach Nancy for more life wisdom at email@example.com or http://www.coachnancydennis.com.
For those of you contemplating change in 2020, here’s a little food for thought from my guest blogger, Flame Schoeder. She reminds us that what we call ourselves becomes our truth. So, choosing your names carefully is naturally good medicine for the mind.
A friend of mine once told me there is a Native American belief that if you have ‘K’ in your name, you’ll always be confused. I’ve heard stuff like that before, haven’t you? I’ve heard stuff like that about my name, my personality, my body type, and on and on, ad nauseum.
We take this stuff to the bank, don’t we? “You’re right! I WILL ALWAYS be confused.” Then, when confusing situations came up we throw our hands up and say, “See… there it is… my confusion. No way around it. It simply cannot be helped.” And plunk ourselves down, frozen in despair.
These ideas that we take to the bank are called “Structures of Knowing.” We all have them and they’re not all bad. A structure of knowing that the glowing red metal is hot keeps us safe from being burned by it. The problem comes when we solidify these structures of knowing into the truth without occasionally checking their validity. “Am I always confused?”
I’d hazard a guess that, even if you have a ‘K’ in your name, you have clarity at least once in a while. If left un-checked, though, this structure of knowing might wreak havoc on your life.
It lets you off the hook, for one thing. “I AM confused,” you say, as if in physical reality someone could reach out and pinch your confusion. You are not confused. You experience confusion sometimes (and when you’re in it, it seems like you experience it all the time). Positing that you are the very being of confusion, though, isn’t very empowering.
So your goals? Your dreams? All that stuff you want written in your obituary? It doesn’t happen. That “I’m confused” structure of knowing quickly becomes a self-limiting conversation. You were more interested in proving yourself confused than you were in achieving your goals and dreams. (Take heart. You’re not alone, that kind of self-limiting thinking happens to all of us.)
What if it we frame it differently, though? What if the wisdom in the Native American tradition was accurate but it wasn’t the final word? After years of introspection, spiritual work and coaching, I see the bigger container that holds statements like “if you have a ‘K’ in your name you’ll always be confused.”
Instead of a ‘K’ meaning you’ll ALWAYS be confused, it may simply point to your capacity to be confused, which may be more than average. I maintain that if your capacity for confusion is great, then so is your capacity for clarity—more than average! You can only have confusion as a counterpoint to its opposite. Confusion in and of itself doesn’t exist (or at the very least it is incredibly hard to conceptualize and understand). So if you can master confusion, then you will, by default, become a master of clarity.
Having clarity, and the skills to find it, IS empowering. That’s a toolkit you can take with you anywhere and it will serve you well. When the exact same situation that sent you into despair before comes up anew, you handle it. You use these skills to get through it. At the end you experience yourself as being powerful, capable, and ultimately, confident.
The next time you hear yourself solidifying an idea into “who you are” give it the physical reality test. Is this the truth? Can someone reach out and touch my:
If not, look at where you have a choice over your behavior. Am I more interested in perfectionism or being a loving mom? Am I more interested in procrastinating or being a published author? Lazy bum or creator of beauty? Shopaholic or financially successful? You get the gist. These antidotes to our structures of knowing are called our ‘intentions.’ Intentions are one of the things we can always be clear about and when we’re demonstrating them, life is sweet.
With any luck, as you ask these questions, you will also see pretty clearly what the next step to take is, too. What do loving moms do? They let the dishes sit sometimes so that they can snuggle a sick kiddo. What do published authors do? They schedule time to do their writing and then they actually write. What do confused people do? They consult their trusted confidantes until the answer becomes clear.
That structure of knowing that used to keep you from your goals and dreams will become less and less powerful as you stay focused on your intention. As you focus on your intentions, people around you will notice some sweet changes in you, and you’ll notice them in yourself. So, go ahead, question your structures of knowing; everyone in your tribe will thank you for it.
Flame Schoeder, PCC, has been a Professional Certified Coach in the International Coach Federation for 16 years. She is an expert in building conscious communities, including corporate ones, through emotional intelligence. A recovering perfectionist who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and the Harvard Business Review, she specializes in working with mid-career professionals to find personal and professional fulfillment. Find out more at coachflame.com – and yes, that is her real name.
Are you guilty of being this kind of friend? Sadly, it’s so common that you might not notice the problem at first. You ask someone ‘How’s it going?’ and the conversation goes like this:
Friend: I’m annoyed because I feel like I’m giving everything I’ve got at work, but no one recognizes the effort.
You: Yeah, I know how that feels. My boss sucks at recognition and praise.
Friend: Right. The boss just walks right by without ever asking how I’m doing or to say ‘good job’.
You: I know how you feel. Sometimes I just wanna scream. One time, I worked overtime on this big project for two weeks and nobody even said ‘thanks, good job.’
Friend: Geez, that sucks. I hate my job. I wish I could quit.
This conversation is going nowhere fast, and both of you are bound to end up resentful and bitter. Neither one of you is really hearing the other person. You’re both waiting your turn to tell your own sad tale of woe.
What if you stopped to really listen to your friend? You could change the whole direction of the conversation.
In this next scenario, you’ll see how the dynamic changes when you stop to hear the words. See if you can figure out what’s different about this:
Friend: I’m annoyed because I feel like I’m giving my all at work, but no one recognizes my efforts.
You: It sounds like you don’t feel appreciated.
Friend: Right. The boss just walks right by without ever asking how I’m doing or to say ‘good job’.
You: Hmm. I’m guessing there’s something you’re especially proud of that you’d like your boss to notice.
Friend: Actually, there is. I just finished a project in record time and the client was so happy because she saved quite a few dollars in the process.
You: So, your client took the time to say how great your work was? That’s cool.
Friend: Hey, you know, that is cool. I’m feeling pretty good about that.
You: Way to go. How about we celebrate over coffee?
What’s different about this exchange? The focus is not on you.
Instead of offering an example of how lousy your life is, too, you can turn it around. Demonstrate that you hear what was said by saying it back in a different way.
Let your friend be heard.
You’ll get your turn another time. This is her moment. Make an effort to listen. Don’t expect the favor to be returned. Give without asking for anything back.
During the holidays, you can start feeling stressed right about now. Stress is a major cause of health problems. Being heard is a simple, powerful, natural remedy for stress.
The effects are subtle but profound. Relationships start to heal. Anxiety and depression lessen. Stomach aches and headaches and body pain ease up.
When you use a simple tool like this to shift the course of a conversation, you raise the vibe of your relationships. Step by tiny step, resentment, helplessness, and that ‘poor me’ attitude dissolve. A problem becomes a celebration.
Can you do it? Can you offer your generous, complete, undistracted, attention to someone?
It’s not necessary to completely understand and share in their feelings. It’s only necessary to listen. Try it.
What better gift can you give this season? Or any time or year!
Related Post: A Naturally Healing Tea for This Time of Year
Something special happens in the first few minutes after I close my office door to talk privately with a client. Something very personal and comfortable is exchanged in those quiet conversations.
For centuries, women have been the family healers, applying herbs to aches and pains with only the knowledge passed down from mothers and grandmothers.