Boldly Going Nowhere

Boldly going nowhere. Just think about that sentence for a moment. No speeding down the interstate in the middle of a traffic nightmare to get to work on time. No rushing to get the kids to band practice on time. No relentless internet surfing to get on board with the next trendy fad that will bring beauty, riches, success, or the most heart clicks on Twitter. No more climbing the corporate ladder. Boldly going nowhere.

What would that look like? Is it even a possibility in this competitive, technologically demanding, 24/7 society that we call home? What if time stood still? Even for just a week? What if you actually immersed yourself in the daily experience of being? Seeing everything with new eyes, as if it is your first time? So mindful of the present that you could actually remember the drive to work and what you had for breakfast?

I had an amazing opportunity to do just that while surrounded by the verdant, flourishing foliage of the Mexican jungle. Needless to say, it was an immediate culture shock. First of all, the jungle sounds nothing like the city. The slow steady hum of traffic is nonexistent. The obnoxious sound of leaf blowers and lawn mowers is mercifully absent, the clanging cacophony of construction equipment does not exist, and not a single aerodynamic rumble of a jet airplane is to be found anywhere in the beautiful blue sky. Every day is calm, serene, restful, mellow, restorative, and inspirational, allowing me to collect myself and just breathe. How did I happen upon this amazing sanctuary? I attended a spiritual retreat with Bob Sima and Shannon Plummer, aptly named Boldly Going Nowhere, with the intention of being present in the now and the here. Nowhere.

I, and my twenty other retreat mates, experienced a now moment in time while here in the ageless jungle intertwined in the immortal spiritual energy of the Ancient Mayans. This amazing retreat took place at the beautiful Hotel Oka’an, so close to Chichen Itza, you could see El Castillo in the distance. Completely surrounded by lush vegetation, beautiful turquoise skies, soft breezes, warm healing sunshine, a pool that looked as if it was a celestial creation from the energy of the jungle floor, bungalows with thatched roofs, a turtle inspired sweat lodge, and a relaxing spa, it was truly a spiritual sanctuary. We were even greeted by a statue of the corn god, the creator of humanity, according to Mayan legend.

Through meaningful song and verse, challenging and illuminating discussions, soul searching revelations, shamanic healing, and the calm stillness of the mystical jungle we were challenged with the task of looking within to find divine purpose and direction, strength to endure the perpetual journey, courage to step out of the box and live a more authentic life, and a cosmic awareness of our connection to everything on our amazing planet. I think I speak for everyone when I say, we found precisely that and more.

We explored the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, purified our bodies and minds in a sweat lodge ceremony, swam in a sacred cenote of life giving water, learned new songs, made new friends, gained new perspectives, and found contentment in just being in the here and the now. Not regretting the past or fearing the future. We were able to just be. Right here, right now. The grace of the present moment is an invaluable gift.

Nowhere. It’s the best place to be.


Our soul resides in the present moment, in the here and now. And it is capable of receiving insights and resolutions to obstacles that our minds could never conceive of.

Carolyn Myss

What’s Our Microbiome Got To Do With COVID? Everything!

If there is anything the pandemic has taught us, other than the best strategies for hoarding toilet paper, it brought an awareness of our own vulnerability. We are not invincible. In fact, quite the opposite. Many people suffered serious complications and others succumbed to this new and deadly disease that took everyone by surprise.

Research has shown that COVID elicits an extreme inflammatory response in some people referred to as a cytokine storm. When the immune system overreacts in this way, it can cause widespread damage to all parts of the body. It is this over reaction of the immune system that causes death in people with severe cases of COVID.

Predictably, there has been extensive research to understand why the virus wreaks havoc in some people and others only have negligible symptoms. What have we learned? People who have existing chronic health conditions are overwhelmingly at risk for complications from COVID. Those who are obese, diabetic, or have existing heart or lung conditions, are most at risk for developing problems or a deadly outcome. These disorders are 4 of the most common chronic conditions in the US. What is the common denominator in these chronic diseases? Diet and lifestyle. Almost all chronic disease is related to poor diet and lack of exercise, and they can be prevented with a healthy diet and a less sedentary daily routine.

So what does diet and lifestyle have to do with our gut microbiome? EVERYTHING! Our gut is located in the center of our body for a reason. Everything goes through the gut for processing before being sent to all the other organs of the body. In addition, 70% of our immunity is in our gut. What is the crucial component that maintains a healthy gut lining, digests our nutrients, fights incoming invaders (including COVID), activates our hormones and sends messages to our brain to process the continual flow of information that bombards us on a daily basis? The human microbiome. All those microscopic creatures residing in our gut.

How do we nurture this precious symbiotic relationship that keeps us alive, functioning, and healthy?

  • Eat lots of fiber!

Fruits and cruciferous veggies are the spice of life to all those little creatures living in our gut. Your fridge should always be stocked with the likes of apples, bananas, pineapples, berries, kale, cauliflower, asparagus, and broccoli, for starters.

  • Add fermented foods to your daily diet.

Kimchi and sauerkraut are excellent prebiotic foods with live bacteria. Make sure to buy the sauerkraut from the refrigerated section to preserve the live bacteria. Yogurt is not the best choice for live bacteria because it has been pasteurized, and kombucha has added sugars, which means extra calories.

  • Eat real food.

In other words, eat food that comes out of the ground or picked from a tree. The fresher the produce, the higher the nutrient levels. Avoid factory foods, because they are inundated with additives, aka chemicals and GMO’s.

  • Decrease meat and dairy consumption.

Livestock are treated with antibiotics which can decrease the diversity of our microbiome. When you eat less meat and dairy there is more room for plants.

  • Cut back on sugar.

Sugar feeds the bad gut bacteria and creates an unhealthy imbalance in our microbes. Switch to honey, but only in moderation. It is unprocessed and it doesn’t spike your blood sugar.

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

It keeps your skin and mucous membranes intact to fight off infections, and it flushes toxins out of your body. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water.

  • Don’t be a sofa spud.

Don’t be a mouse potato, either. Get moving and be active. Try a new exercise class, join a local sports team, take a hike, ride a bike, or just take a walk around the block, for crying out loud.

  • Unwind, relax, breathe easy!

Do what you like. Hang out with people who make you feel good. Focus on your breath. Meditate. If something is not working, leave it behind and move on.

  • Remember your beauty sleep.

You need 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night to look and feel your best and keep your immune system ready to fight off invaders.

  • Go hug trees.

Enjoy nature. It calms your busy mind, lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, decreases anxiety, and increases feelings of well-being and happiness. Furthermore, sunlight provides essential Vitamin D, which plays a key role in boosting our immune system. Don’t forget – turn off that cell phone.

This is just a brief overview of the Anti-Viral Gut Plan outlined in the latest book by gastroenterologist, Robynne Chutkan. For an in-depth guide to changing your life and changing your gut, read The Anti-Viral Gut. It may help you survive the next pandemic.

Chutkan, Robynne. (2022). The Anti-Viral Gut: Tackling pathogens from the inside out. New York: Penguin Random House

The Blessing of Choice

I have choices.
I live in a country that protects my freedom of choice. Freedom to choose my words, spoken
and written. Freedom to choose my friends and acquaintances, freedom to choose my place of worship and my place of employment. I have the freedom to travel and explore without
restrictions. I am allowed to vote for my choice of government leaders. When any of these
inalienable rights are compromised, which unfortunately, is a deplorable but inevitable
occurrence, I have the freedom to gather with others and ensure that my basic human rights and those of others are guaranteed. That is a blessing.

I have choices.
I have friends and family that support me in my choices. They accept me unconditionally and allow my sometimes-unconventional freedom of expression. Our differences of opinion are an opportunity to discuss new ideas, learn from each other, and grow mentally and spiritually. They also recognize a choice as a basic human right that should not be denied. Furthermore, the diversity of our beliefs and opinions, which are choices, only serve to enrich our relationships and strengthen our community. That is a blessing.

I have choices.
My mind is clear and focused. I am capable of making informed and competent decisions.
Making personal lifestyle decisions related to work responsibilities, leisure activities, and family commitments is an opportunity and an asset so often overlooked. We fail to recognize the enormity of this benefit until we realize that as we age, we may one day be denied this opportunity, through no fault of our own. The mental capacity to make a choice is a blessing.

The gift of a choice is a blessing indeed. It is grace in action. We sometimes overlook the dignity of this grace until we no longer have the mental capacity, the encouragement and support of those close to us, or the legal guarantees of basic human rights, to make those personal choices that influence our physical health, our financial wealth, and our mental stability. In fact, our ability to live abundant and productive lives is dependent upon choices. We make choices every day and many times we are blissfully unaware of the significance these decisions can make in our lives. Starting with the seemingly inconsequential choices of deciding what to prepare for dinner to the painful and sometimes agonizing choices of dealing with a family member crippled by an addiction, every choice is a blessing and an occasion for mindful connection. Be grateful for the opportunity to choose. These moments provide a chance for reflection, a chance to search one’s soul and discover the strength, resilience, compassion and divinity within each one of us.
Every aspect of our lives is impacted by our choices. We don’t always have a choice in
circumstances, but we decide how to respond to those difficult and painful events that are part of the human condition. Regardless of the situation before us, we should commit to being the voice of kindness, empathy, and respect for everyone involved, including ourselves. We must choose to be positive, and empower others with strength, honesty, and compassion. We must choose to resist all forms of negativity, tirelessly opposing deceit, oppression, and hatred.

Ultimately, it is only about one choice, and that is love.


In today’s world we are bombarded with distractions that alter our innate and intimate relationship with the universe. There is constant noise – a cacophony of sound that drowns out the soft whispers of nature. Sounds of engines from vehicles on the ground, in the air, and at sea. Sirens and alarms that are redundant and dismissible, and all manner of beeps, whirrs, buzzes, tinkles, and rings from our omnipresent devices. The odors of automobile exhaust, factory fumes, and greenhouse gases encourage us to keep all the windows and doors closed. City streets are clogged with all modes of transportation because no one walks anymore. Buildings block the sky, the sun, and the wind. Constant artificial lights disrupt our circadian rhythms and keep us from ever knowing the calming and restorative darkness. Concrete obstructs the flow of earth’s terrestrial energy. And let’s not forget the constant onslaught of media information from negative vitriol to fake news, needless and superficial advertisements, celebrity gossip, disturbing news clips, and a plethora of articles to help you improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. All of these constant disturbances are only obstructions that block our flow of energy, stifle our communication with others, and block our connection with mother earth.

When do we sit quietly to listen to the sounds of birds? Or for that matter, how often are we somewhere that we can even hear a bird? When are we still enough to feel the air on our skin, hear the soft rustle of the wind in the trees, experience the stillness within us, just be in the present moment? We are constantly focusing on the demanding diversions of our whirlwind existence, full of regret for the past and fear for the future. There is no time left to even be aware of the present moment – to just BE. When all is quiet, we can concentrate on the natural rhythm of the breath and return to our inherent wholeness. Focusing on the breath of life is to experience the divine source, the divinity within. Realizing the full potential of this essential life affirming energy sustains us, calms us, and inspires us.

My introduction to breathwork was through Sudarshan Kriya, and it was life-changing. The course is called the Happiness Program, and I was definitely happier upon completing the 3-day course. I was also more energetic and focused, and at the same time calmer, less anxious, and ready to deal with whatever obstacles life might throw in my path. The class helped me realize that my thoughts create my reality, and I began to work on keeping those negative thoughts at bay, which is not an easy task for me. Performing SKY daily is the secret, because consistency is the key to radical results.

How does Sudarshan Kriya, more commonly referred to as SKY, work? It is a simple rhythmic breathing technique that harnesses the energy within the breath. SKY practice helps to harmonize body, mind, and spirit, and acts as a bridge for effortless meditation.  Breathwork is one of the best and least expensive forms of self-care. Scientific studies have demonstrated that SKY breath and meditation lower levels of stress, anxiety, and anger, while increasing mental alertness. Participants have also reported better sleep habits, improved relationships, more energy, and increased confidence. Overall, everyone is happier!

SKY breath programs are offered through the Art of Living, which is a global humanitarian organization founded by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It operates in over 150 countries bringing education, empowerment, and hope to countless individuals and communities through trauma relief, prisoner rehabilitation, rural development, medical camps, and schools. Sri Sri’s goal is to bring peace to a chaotic and violent world, one person at a time and one healing breath at a time.

Please contact me if you would like more information about Art of Living and check out the website, It truly is life-changing.

Cerebral Calisthenics

Would you like to decrease depression and anxiety, boost your self-confidence, sharpen your memory, AND sleep better? All this can be accomplished in about 3 – 5 hours per week. What is this magic treatment? Exercise. That’s right. That thing your mom used to tell you to go outside and get when you were a child just to get you out of the house. Now you are older, and you still need to go outside and get some exercise.

It is a well-known fact that exercise lowers our risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. That alone is enough reason to get up and move, but the emotional benefits are just as valuable and amazing, if not more so. After only one exercise session, you release mood enhancing hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, which act as messengers to the brain to create a sense of well-being and satisfaction. This is probably why people who exercise report higher energy levels and less anxiety and depression than their sedentary counterparts. Why does exercise improve our health in such significant ways? One reason is neurogenesis, which is the growth of new cells. Exercise creates new nerve cells, which generate new connections in your brain. Also, exercise stimulates the production of human growth hormone (HGH), otherwise known as youth serum, which tells your body to make new cells. This is a hormone that declines as we age so exercise is important to keep this hormone flowing and creating new stem cells, which act as a repair system for the body.

Exercise has been demonstrated to improve brain function and reduce the risk for dementia. A study written in the scientific journal, Gerontology, found that leg muscle strength correlated with cognition. Increased leg power was associated with improved cognitive ageing over a 10-year period. In other words, the people with stronger leg muscles had sharper brains.

To reap all these wonderful benefits do you need to run the Boston Marathon, or qualify for the Olympics in swimming, or train to be a challenger in the Iron Man competition? No, you can do something as simple and cost free as walking in the neighborhood. Or you can lift weights, dance, swim, play tennis or golf. In fact, a study of elderly participants in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that dance was the exercise that had the best chance of decreasing dementia. Nevertheless, any exercise that you enjoy will do the trick.

Guess what else? A gym is great if that’s what you prefer, but studies show that levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are lower in people who engage in outdoor exercise as opposed to those who exercise indoors. Also, people who prefer outdoor activities have less anxiety, depression and stress than those that prefer to workout indoors. Could it be the bright healing solar rays that boost our mood? Or the warm Vitamin D that we absorb to build strong bones and boost our immune system? Or maybe it is the ancient spiritual connection with nature? There is actually a new field of psychology, ecotherapy, that examines our relationship with the environment, and studies our interaction with nature to promote physical and mental healing. Nature is a powerful healer and it is free to enjoy, regardless of whether you are playing, relaxing, or listening to the calming sounds of divine creation.

You don’t have to join an expensive gym or a yoga studio if that is not your thing. Movement is all that is needed. Get creative! Most of all, have a good time!

  • Plan a scavenger hunt with friends
  • Throw a Frisbee
  • Play catch with the dog
  • Throw a football with the kids
  • Take a dance class
  • Go hiking
  • Join a team sport
  • Go bowling
  • Clean the house
  • Play laser tag
  • Mow the grass
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Kayak or paddleboard
  • Bike ride

Plentiful Produce

Signs of spring are everywhere! April showers. May flowers. Sparkling sunshine. Blossoming flowers and flourishing gardens. Colorful fresh produce. Farmer’s Markets.

I love the Marietta Farmer’s Market. There are over 50 vendors with a variety of edibles ranging from cucumbers to watermelons, home-made breads to sweet desserts, and healthy teas to infused oils. So many wonderful delights! My favorite is the produce. All those wonderful fruits and vegetables are perfect for creating fresh summer recipes.  Of course, most of the farmers at our market offer organic, non-GMO produce, or do not use pesticides. That’s the other reason I love the Farmer’s Market. I get healthy organic produce without pesticides while supporting local farmers. It’s a great win for everyone. Except, of course, the pesticide companies.

Should we be concerned about those chemicals spliced into and sprayed on our plants? We already know that pesticides are not good for us. The question is how much is too much? Research studies have linked pesticide exposure to certain cancers such as colorectal and breast cancer. It is also associated with a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, studies have indicated a negative effect on children in particular because their bodies are still developing. Preliminary research has identified a possible link between environmental chemical exposure and autism. Obviously, more research is necessary before a causative answer can be confirmed, but the prognosis does not look good.

Are pesticides necessary? Agribusiness corporations are certainly proponents. Commercially grown produce uses pesticides to cultivate a greater yield, a more perfect product that is pleasing to the eye, and a longer shelf life. Maximum residue levels (MRL) are set by national and international regulatory bodies, including the USDA.  After the plant is harvested, if pesticide levels exceed the MRL, the product is not allowed to be sold.

There is another organization that takes this process one step further. Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization that protects public health by monitoring legislative proposals and industry standards and educating people so they can make healthy choices.  One of their projects involves a produce list called the Dirty Dozen – Clean Fifteen. The Dirty Dozen is a list of produce with the highest levels of pesticide (all within the legal limit, of course), and the Clean Fifteen is a list of plants with the lowest levels of pesticide. If 100% organic is not a possibility, which it isn’t for most of us, then at the very least, try to buy organic if it is on the Dirty Dozen list. Another thing to look for is the Non-GMO label, which means it has no pesticides inside the plant genes.

The following are some tips to decrease the amount of pesticide residue before eating:

  • Rinse in cold water while scrubbing with a soft brush.
  • Peel fruits and veggies on the Dirty Dozen list when applicable.
  • Use a mixture of 1% baking soda and water to soak apples for 12 – 15 minutes.
  • Rinse produce with ozonated water. This is water mixed with a specific type of oxygen.

Now is the time to buy fresh locally grown produce from your local farmer’s market.  Be sure and ask the farmer about pesticide use before you buy. If you are buying in store, be sure to keep the Dirty Dozen – Clean Fifteen list on your phone for reference.

Best advice? Grow your own garden!

Dirty Dozen

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale/Collard/Mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

 Clean Fifteen

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Frozen sweet peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwifruit
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew
  15. Cantaloupe

Silent Sustainable Slumber

Sleep, a five letter word meaning a condition of the body in which the muscles are relaxed, the eyes are closed, and consciousness is suspended. For most of us, the word sleep conjures up relaxing thoughts and images such as fluffy sheep leaping over fences, raindrops showering metal roofs, meditating beside a waterfall, watching babies sleep to the soft sounds of lullabies, snuggling with a warm, fluffy kitten, hugging our favorite pillow while visions of sugarplums dance in our heads. Everyone loves to sleep. Who wants to get out of bed when the alarm goes off? Not me. So why are we all sleep deprived and not sleeping the requisite 7 – 9 hours nightly? Could it be the 60-hour work week in the corporate world? Maybe the stress of working two jobs just to make ends meet? Maybe it is our addiction to our electronic devices? Could it be the baby who doesn’t sleep through the night or just the stress of raising children on a daily basis? It could most certainly be the fear of the next pandemic! There is another potential culprit to add to the list. Lack of sleep is influenced by your microbiome. OMG! Does every medical condition relate to our gut bugs? Apparently, yes.

It is an established fact that the microbiome interacts with every other organ in our body. Microbes are essential to the production of neurotransmitters which are messengers that communicate with the brain, the intestines, and every other organ system in the body. These messengers regulate multiple processes in addition to the obvious one of digestion. They control muscle movement, heart rate, breathing, mood, and guess what? They even coordinate our sleep cycles.

These messengers also assist with the production of serotonin.  If our gut bugs are not blossoming with robust, healthy, good bacteria, our serotonin levels are low. If serotonin levels are low, anxiety and depression and sadness dominate our emotions. They also impact our sleep cycles. Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having deep restorative sleep depends on our serotonin levels. Flourishing gut bugs are essential for adequate serotonin production which helps with maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, but a satisfactory amount of sleep is necessary to maintain a healthy microbiome. It’s a potential catch 22 situation.

So here is the good news. You can eat your way to health, relaxation, and somnolent slumber. No drugs or procedures involved. Obviously, there are other distractions, obstacles, and conditions that affect sleep, but remedying the external issues will not work unless the internal issues are resolved. Just another reason to eat those fruits and vegetables. So go ahead and prepare for your journey to the Land of Nod. Fix a green smoothie, have a salad for lunch, eat an apple for a snack, and keep nuts on hand for those between meal munchies. If you are already doing that and still battle with the sandman nightly, make sure you are not sabotaging your sleep by following these guidelines:

  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Have a cup of chamomile or herbal tea.
  • Read a book before bedtime.
  • Avoid using electronic devices with a screen such as phones and laptops.                     
  • Keep light and noise levels to a minimum in the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon and limit alcohol late in the evening.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Wake up at the same time every day and avoid daytime naps.
  • Quit smoking.

“Also, I could finally sleep. And this was the real gift, because when you cannot sleep, you cannot get yourself out of the ditch—there’s not a chance.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. Retrieved from:

Insomnia: How do I stay asleep? Retrieved from:

How gut microbiomes contribute to good sleep. Retrieved from:

Healthy Holidays!

Fall is here, bringing with it that special time of year from October through December, that we associate with the holidays, Pumpkin Season! Here’s the best news! The great orange pumpkin is not just for family gatherings anymore. We can enjoy it on a daily basis with friends and family or completely alone. Everything from pumpkin lattes, pumpkin butter, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin hummus, pumpkin pies, and pumpkin quiche are available with just a swipe of your credit card. While browsing through Pinterest the other day, I even found a recipe for pumpkin lasagna. Nourishment does not get any better than the lovely orange gourd.

As a pumpkin lover myself, I never complain about the abundance of pumpkin treats, but it’s also a time to enjoy many other taste sensations that are quintessential culinary celebrations during this magical time of year. Cornbread stuffing with the wonderful aromas of rosemary, thyme, and sage, green beans almondine, citrusy cranberry relish, sweet potatoes rich with the warm woodsy fragrant aroma of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg are not only traditional but essential. Who doesn’t love the scents of Christmas? While we are all looking forward to the scrumptious tastes of this savory season, we should also be aware of the fantastic nutritional benefits in so many of the foods we indulge in at this time of year.

Let’s start with the green beans. They are full of Vitamin A and folic acid which decreases inflammation and supports our nervous and immune system. Cornmeal, used for the cornbread in our classic Southern stuffing is also a great source of folate which enhances red blood cell growth and function. Sweet potatoes have lots of Vitamin A for healthy teeth, eyes and skin, as well as Vitamin C for a healthy immune system. They are loaded with fiber and antioxidants, both of which boost gut health by promoting the growth of good gut bacteria and maintaining a leak-proof intestinal lining. Research studies in animals have indicated that the nutrients in sweet potatoes have cancer fighting properties and they enhance brain function. Pumpkin is loaded with the same wonderful nutrients as sweet potato, yet pumpkin is only 49 calories per cup versus 188 calories per cup of sweet potato. It contains lots of potassium for heart health as well. Here’s a fun fact – pumpkin seeds have plenty of the amino acid tryptophan, the same ingredient in turkey that makes you want to take a nap. Try a handful before bedtime and prevent that 3 am insomniac attack. 

What about the herbs and spices that we use in abundance to create the delicious culinary delights for friends and family throughout the holiday season? These flavorful ingredients derived from dried plants, contain antioxidants which means they prevent cell damage and decrease inflammation. That’s reason enough to use lots of fresh herbs in all your recipes, but each of these spices also have unique medicinal properties that have been recognized for centuries. All of these spices and herbs are used in Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient Indian holistic treatment for maintaining wellness. Rosemary can improve digestion and enhance focus and performance. Sage improves oral health and may prevent dental plaque. Cloves are good for oral health, toothache pain and respiratory ailments. Additionally, cloves contain manganese which is important for good brain function and strong bones. Sage and cinnamon decrease blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing insulin resistance.  Cinnamon is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can potentially decrease risk for many common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Nutmeg has also been shown to stabilize blood sugar and increase heart health.

Who knew the Holidays could be so healthy, right? So, whether you are gathering for Thanksgiving, planning a happy Hanukkah, hosting a convivial Kwanzaa, or celebrating a candlelight Christmas, indulge, imbibe, and enjoy!

Letting Go

For four amazingly wonderful days in October, I enjoyed a relaxing respite at the Art of Living Ayurveda spa in Boone, NC. The retreat sits atop a mountain surrounded by rolling green hills that are just beginning to reveal the beautiful colors of fall, soothing saffron, ardent amber, and colorful crimson. My days there were ideal with a clear blue sky, a perfect 72 degrees in the sunshine, and a soft autumn breeze sending whispers through the chameleon leaves. It was a time to enjoy the majesty and wonder of creation, reflect on my past experiences and the prospect of things to come, and the relationships that have impacted my life in very meaningful ways. A time to be still, enter the silence, listen for the quiet, calming voice of God, and let go. Let go of desires and expectations, absolve anger, surrender shame, forgive mistakes, and most importantly, set fear free.

Fear holds us back and stifles creativity. Fear keeps us from exploring, from seeking answers to questions because the response may be unacceptable. Fear oppresses, controls, and isolates.  Fear is a weight dragging you down a desolate path. Fear keeps us from loving. Fear keeps us from living.  

If you release all fear, only love remains. Love for the earth and sky and everything in between. Love for the people in your life and even those outside the immediate circle, love of the struggle, success, and surrender that is life’s journey, but mostly love for yourself.

We currently live in an epidemic of fear. Fear of disease, which is certainly relevant today. Fear of exposure and vulnerability. Fear of betrayal and brutality, just to name a few. Fear breeds distrust, causing us to doubt our neighbors, friends, workplace environments, and government.  Distrust abounds not just in our nation, but in our world, and the result is tangible and physical. Many nations are struggling with chronic illnesses which are perplexing and difficult to treat. Depression and suicide are global issues. Even before the pandemic hit, we felt unhappy and isolated. COVID only accentuated the situation. Fear cannot be eliminated, but as the song says, “Never let your fear decide your fate”.

There are many things in life which we cannot control. It is in recognizing this one truth that we become free. Acceptance follows. Accept the laws of nature, accept others as they are, accept yourself. Affirmation of your strengths and weaknesses and all the parts in between allow you to relinquish control, liberating you to be the person you are meant to be. You become happy being you. You can follow your passion regardless of monetary rewards or accolades. You can live inside your own skin and be happy.

Others approval is not necessary. Living for other people only brings confusion, distrust, feelings of inadequacy and ultimately, failure. You can never be what others require of you because then you are nothing more than a counterfeit. You are hollow and empty on the inside.  The only person you are capable of being is you. 

The essence of you, the core of you is your shining light where love resides. In love lies approval, kindness, strength, resilience, faith, hope, and creativity. Love will never fail you.

Gut Health Equals Brain Health

I recently watched Ocean Robbins interview Team Sherzai in relation to their research on preventing Alzheimer’s disease and maintaining optimal brain health. Their years of research have identified the most critical components of having a well-functioning brain for a lifetime. Guess what they are? Diet, exercise, stress reduction. Sounds easy, but most of us fall short of making these simple lifestyle changes. And it’s not all our fault. We live in a very complex, fast paced, stressful society that has high expectations and demands our attention 24/7. At some point, all of us reach that point where the only thing left to say is, “Enough!” Maybe that day is today.

Team Sherzai recommended the following ten things to Incorporate into your lifestyle to maintain a healthy brain for a lifetime:

  1. Follow the MIND diet. This is a Mediterranean style diet that is a whole plant diet. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, but decrease the amount of meat and dairy. Preliminary studies with the MIND diet have shown a decrease risk for Alzheimer’s.
  2. Build cross brain connections. Meditation or grounding techniques, such as recitation or abdominal breathing, will help to redirect the brain and focus the mind on pleasant memories or sensations.
  3. Switch up your routine. Don’t follow the same route to work every day. Learn something new, maybe a new hobby or exercise routine.
  4. Take brisk walks. This decreases the inflammatory hormone, cortisol, and it encourages the growth of new blood vessels.
  5. Use these three exercise strategies: Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise, include some strength training for your muscles, and do this consistently for 5 days a week. Random acts of exercise don’t count.
  6. Replace bad stress with good stress. Seriously and with intention, look at your life and release those things that are no longer needed or not relevant to the life you want to live.
  7. Eat foods your brain loves. Leafy greens, blueberries, turmeric, and coffee are great starters.
  8. SLEEP! Lack of sleep is destructive to your brain. Aim for 7-9 hours per night.
  9. Establish healthy routines. Arbitrary healthy acts are not beneficial. Once your healthy routines are hard wired, they will occur naturally.
  10. Use SMART goals. The acronym stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Sensitive.

Gut health equals brain health. The science of the microbiome is life changing for everyone, not just those of us with gastrointestinal disorders. Gut health can determine whether or not we will have a life of good health, well-being, emotional stability, and productivity well into our golden years or a life of sickness, disease, fatigue and emotional unhappiness. Good gut health can potentially prevent a diagnosis of heart disease, autoimmune diseases such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Grave’s disease, and even Alzheimer’s.

The notion that good nutrition equals good health is a concept that has been accepted for years. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Thanks to current research, it is now an established fact. Eating a healthy diet has never been more important than now that we have experienced the results of a pandemic. We must boost our immunity in order to save not only our lives, but those we love as well. Good nutrition is essential for holistic health.