Your Big, Beautiful, Messy Life
Yesterday, my husband and I went to a party. A PARTY! After fourteen months at home, it felt so strange to dress up, pick up my purse, tell the kids to order Chipotle, and jump in the car. All the guests were fully vaccinated, and it was a small, outdoor Kentucky Derby party. But it still felt strange. And wonderful.
Someone there asked me what I do. Of course. Maybe one day I'll write another post about how I've forgotten how to do small talk, and I'm not sure I want to remember how. I might be done with small talk.
Anyway, after I explained that I'm a health coach and a life coach, he said, "So, you like, tell people what to eat and stuff?" I said, no, I don't put people on programs. I help people get clear on their goals and change their habits to reach those goals. I also mentioned that the vast majority of people who come to me for health coaching really end up here for life coaching. Which includes health, of course, but also so many other things. "Oh. So, helping people get their $h!t together?" Nope. Not that either. But at least we weren't doing small talk anymore.
And it did get me thinking. When you work with a coach, you're not being told what to do. You're being guided to open up to possibility. Your possibilities.
When I was in my early 30s, I was at my gynecologist's office, of all places, complaining to her about my job. I was there because my husband and I had recently decided to start a family. And somehow I ended up talking about how what I thought was important had changed. I didn't hate practicing law, but I felt a little like I was going through the motions. She said, "You know what you need? A life coach!" I was like, a WHAT?! That sounds ridiculous. Especially in 2002, when there weren't many coaches around. The industry, as you know, has since taken off.
Do I wish I had taken her advice? Maybe. But my wonderful life had a way of helping me along. Intuition kicked in when I needed it. I made mistakes. I made just as many wonderful choices. Plus, complex relationships, cancer, children, a global pandemic, for God's sake . . . these things all served me well in their own way.
So what's a coach? A coach is the person who will ask you questions to help you pause and hear your intuition. To open your heart. To be vulnerable. To set boundaries. To seek all the things your heart desires, while walking that delicious fine line between loving and caring for yourself, while loving and caring for your neighbor and your community. To drop the limiting beliefs and silence the vicious self-talk. To dream big and be present for the small.
It doesn't mean life won't bring you heartache and struggle. But you'll be able to face it, to lean on yourself and the people who love you, and to use those moments to build your big beautiful, messy life.
Summer Is Not Canceled . . .
My house has a lot of my grandmother’s furniture, including our kitchen table. Yesterday I made a grocery run, which has this way of completely draining me. Grocery shopping was never my favorite, but now with the masks and the one-way aisles, and the line outside and all the extra effort it takes, it just wears me out. But I decided to pick up a festive tablecloth and a few things to put around the house to remind us that summer is coming. And when I put the tablecloth on the table, memories came rushing back to me of my grandmother’s kitchen table in the summertime, out in the country where they lived. Memories of just lying in the grass by the pond behind her house, walking through the woods, visiting the cows, eating hamburgers at the table with the checked tablecloth and the little mustard & ketchup set. And I got a little bit sad. Nostalgia can do that. And it’s easy to feel sad, because this Memorial Day weekend doesn’t feel like the ones in the past. It’s not sunny, in fact it’s cool and rainy here in Northern Virginia. There’s no Viva Vienna, with its carnival rides and food trucks and live music. The pool isn’t open, my son isn’t starting his lifeguard job. But then I remember that none of those things were happening at my grandmother’s house on those glorious summer days. I ran around barefoot, and played in the creek and lay on the grass staring at the sky. I drank from the hose and we made lemonade and peach ice cream. And I can do all those things with MY kids. Maybe I'll even bake my famous Cole's Moveable Feast sweet tea cupcakes with lemonade frosting. We’ll walk in the woods, and splash in the creek instead of the pool. I’ll make my grandmother’s peach ice cream and we’ll do some laying around and staring at the sky. And it will be awesome.
Let’s talk about FREEDOM today. Sometimes my daughter puts on an outfit that makes me ... pause for second. I bite back advice about things that “go together” or about not tucking shirts into elastic waist pants. And then I remember. Remember when you were a kid? And what you put on your body was based solely on what colors you liked? Or how comfortable it felt? Or how easily you could play outside or jump in the creek? I remember, too. Do you know how many decades I spent picking out my outfit based on how tall, skinny and “in style” I’d look? Does anyone here relate to the closet crisis? Did you know there was a time I wouldn’t dream of wearing flats (or my glasses)? I nearly ruined my feet running around New York City for twelve years in high heels. How liberating it was when I started thinking like a kid again! Sometimes I even tuck my shirt into elastic waist pants! Now, I admit some of this freedom comes from reaching an age where I make decisions based on MY preferences, rather than others’ perceptions. And the struggles that come with being a human have a way of putting things into perspective. There came a time in my life when I realized I LOVE every part of me that I used to consider imperfect, because now it is healthy. But play with freedom in your mind’s eye for a minute, if you’re not already there. Think about how wonderful it would be to feel free. Because others’ opinions of you are none of your business. And you deserve to be happy and feel good. And when you do, every little choice you make will fall in line with that. You’ll nourish your happy, loved self with foods that energize and heal you. You’ll move that wonderful body like a kid again. And your spirit will thank you. And you're right, that’s not my daughter in the first picture. XOXO
Quarantine & the Happy Hour Habit
There can be a dark side to all the Zoom happy hours and days that feel like Groundhog Day. I posted about it on social media, and then I started receiving lots of comments on my personal Facebook page, plus private texts and messages about how universal that slippery slope can be. So I thought it was worth re-posting here. And by the way, the recipe for the virgin margarita can be found here, and the spritzer was just half Belvoir cucumber mint lemonade and half seltzer, with a few slices of cucumber and a sprig of mint. Enjoy, and read on . . .
Can we talk alcohol for a minute? And bear in mind, this is coming from the wife of a man who works in the industry. But during the COVID-19 crisis, I have found myself pouring a glass of wine almost every night. Sometimes two glasses. And that is WAY more than I would like to be drinking, not to mention the fact that excess alcohol consumption has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer and several other health conditions. And for me, a lot of the pleasure in a glass of wine is really about the ceremony, not so much the wine itself. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there’s a perfect glass of wine for certain meals. Sometimes, on a hot summer day, a cold glass of white wine or rosé just can’t be beat. And it’s Cinco de Mayo on Taco Tuesday during the coronavirus, for God’s sake. That just screams margarita! But today, I decided to introduce some new non-alcoholic options into my repertoire, so that I can still make a special drink after a long day of homeschooling and working from home. I even ordered some Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits to try out. So, let me know if you’re with me on this, and if so, share your favorite mocktails. And listen ... I’m not going to pretend I’m becoming a teetotaler, but I do want to be more intentional about how often I’m taking a drink. Are you with me?
Embrace Your Beautiful Life TODAY
I have deliberately avoided writing about the COVID-19 crisis. We are all at home, hoping and praying that the precautions we are taking now will slow the spread of the virus. Our inboxes are full of devastating news, helpful hints and encouragement in the face of social distancing, economic uncertainty and quarantine. I will not presume to provide the same. Instead, I will say, do not wait another second to pursue the life you want. In all its authenticity, messiness and beauty. Every moment is only NOW. Do not wait until you've earned more money, found a partner, left a relationship, finished treatment, lost weight, changed jobs. Do it TODAY, not "when . . ." One of my core beliefs is: A BEAUTIFUL LIFE IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT. Claim it. RIGHT NOW.
Private Events & Workplace Wellness
Remember those awesome pumpkin doughnuts on Fox 5 Good Day DC? Okay, not exactly a superfood, but certainly a seasonal treat (which I believe in) and inclusive for people with food allergies (which I really believe in).
Believe it or not, the foods that pack the maximum nutrient punch can also be delicious ~ thanks to my husband. We recently had the privilege of sharing my love of anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods and his love of cooking ~ at a private event showcasing leafy greens and organic wines. (Oh, did I forget to mention he's in the wine industry?)
We have a million more tricks up our sleeves for helping you love what's good for you. If you're interested in setting up a private workshop and cooking demo (and even a wine tasting) for you friends, organization or workplace wellness initiative, contact me for more information and pricing.
I'm turning 50!
I'll turn 50 at the end of May, and I want you to be a part of it. Make sure you're following Wellness Feast on Instagram, because I intend to celebrate this milestone all year long. Until recently, I didn't exactly love the idea of turning 50. But lately I've experienced a shift, and now I'm truly excited about it. Might I suggest we spend the rest of 2020 celebrating all the beauty, growth and opportunity coming our way in this new stage? Join me on Instagram and tag Wellness Feast and #50andfabulous with all the ways you are thriving in your 50s ~ growing, stretching, being true to yourself, serving your community, experiencing love, overcoming obstacles, celebrating your friendships, nurturing your spirit . . . I want to hear it all!
I think it's difficult for anyone to describe their typical day, and I certainly wouldn't presume to bore you with my hour-to-hour schedule. But I often get asked what I do when it comes to the areas I find myself discussing the most in my coaching work: food, movement, spirit and sleep. So I thought I'd share what I "typically" do here.
I'm sure everyone knows by now that hands down, the best habit I've changed is my morning routine. I used to wake up with my mind racing, make coffee with the phone already in my hand and start worrying about everything I'd seen in my texts and emails, all while trying to make the first of multiple breakfasts and three lunches at 5:45 in the morning. (My kids are 10, 13 and 16, and they go to three different schools at three different times!) I wasn't doing anyone any favors ~ by the time everyone had woken up, I was anxious and overwhelmed.
As I've read about the importance of an intentional start to the day, I've revised mine and now it makes all the difference in the world.
When the alarm goes off and I sit up, the first thing I do is say "thank you." I get up, ignore the phone, start the coffee maker, pour a huge glass of water, squeeze a lemon into it and drink it down. Then I pour my coffee (I put ghee and MCT oil in mine) and head to the couch for meditation. Sometimes I'll use a guided meditation. Other times, I'll hear my middle schooler start the shower and I know I only have a few minutes, so I'll just spend a minute or two bringing my attention to my breath.
Breakfast for me is usually a big handful of berries, a couple tablespoons of flax seed meal and chia or hemp seeds, raw nuts, a dash of ground cinnamon, a sprinkling of granola and unsweetened soy or almond milk. I'll also take a whole bunch of supplements with breakfast. And I often have a cup of green tea mid-morning.
I'm pretty active anyway, but before I settle down to work, especially if I'm going to be sitting in front of the computer or meeting with clients, I'll try to dedicate some time to exercise. Some days I'll ride (my bike or a horse) or go for a brisk walk. I don't like going to the gym, so if I can't get outside, I'll do yoga, weights or high intensity interval training with an app on my iPad. If it's a nice evening or the weekend, I'll go on a long bike ride with my husband.
If I have time, I'll do transcendental meditation or kundalini yoga, as well as some Bible study or spiritual reading.
Lunch is hard for me. I never want to stop what I'm doing, and I don't really like typical lunch foods. So I'll usually have avocado toast with an egg, or salad and a veggie frittata. If I'm really feeling uninspired to put together a proper lunch (or I'm pressed for time), I'll just make a quick smoothie. A typical smoothie will have berries, greens, avocado, cucumber, frozen bananas, flax chia blend, coconut oil, nut butter and soy milk, with some cinnamon and vanilla extract thrown in.
Dinner can also be a challenge, because my weekday afternoons and evenings are so busy with the kids' activities. I'll have whatever vegetables everyone's having with their dinner, but I don't eat meat, so I'll add a huge salad or chickpea pasta with tomato sauce. If we're out, I'll share my daughter's veggie burrito and order a salad, or I'll get pizza with tons and tons of vegetables (Mod Pizza is a favorite of ours). But my husband is a great cook, so when we can all eat together, we'll usually have fish or a plant-based dish (we love daal, lentils and spinach, kale pesto with black bean spaghetti, vegetarian chili) and lots of veggies, and I always add a big serving of mixed greens with some flavored balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I do like wine, so I will have a glass or two on the weekends. Right after dinner I take bone supplements with calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K.
My kids get a little energy surge after dinner, so sometimes we head out for a walk around the neighborhood to look at the holiday lights (or in the summer, we'll walk down to the park for a little while before the sun goes down). Otherwise, we'll clean up and I'll hit the couch with my husband. Sometimes I'll have a cup of herbal tea ~ my favorite this time of year is a harvest blend with orange peel, ginger and cinnamon. I'll also have a book with me, but I'll inevitably get sucked into something he's watching. Ken Burns' documentary on country music was my most recent favorite (other than the World Series, of course!).
My pre-bed/sleep routine is one area where I'm pretty disciplined because I have to get up so early in the morning. I'm often asleep before the kids! I turn off my phone and leave it in the kitchen. Since a lot of my books and my alarm are on my iPad, I put it on airplane mode so I'm not tempted to check email or social media. All my devices are programmed to switch to warm light at sunset so they're easier on my eyes (and brain). I'm usually in bed by 9:30 with my book and I'm asleep within 15 minutes.
About those pictures . . .
May 15, 2019
Here's the story behind those pictures you saw on the "About" page. If you follow me on social media, you already know this. As I sifted through photos to find a profile pic for Facebook and Instagram, I started to think about what wellness looks like. It's different for everybody (and every BODY). For me, it’s not about kale chips and the gym. It’s about balance, God, family and friends, moving my body, cheering on the people I love, eating healthy food, sometimes eating that slice of chocolate cake (I'm also a BAKER, for heaven's sake!) or having a glass of wine, being outdoors, being attentive to my body’s wisdom and intentional about my time, and learning from those times when I’m not. For you, it’s a whole different list of things.
A coach isn't your doctor or nutritionist. I'm not here to assess, diagnose and prescribe. I'm here to help you transform your mind set and build new habits to live your best life. And that's not always (or even necessarily) about food. It can be about fitness, stress management, mental health, connection, spiritual well-being . . . so many things. So that's what those pictures up there are about. The giant mushroom. Eating vegetables but also having a treat every now and then. Being around animals, and touching a horse every chance I get. Cheering on my swimmer and my lacrosse player and my piano player and my ice skater. Connecting with my husband, learning a new skill, overcoming physical challenges, laughing at myself. Making mistakes, asking for and granting forgiveness, and trying to keep my heart open. Life is a tapestry: can we accept and embrace every part of it? Because that might be the very first step to health and wellness.