Why self-care is important: one client's story

A picture is worth a thousand words.

So, since this is a picture plus words, how many does that equal?

Seriously, this is a powerful visual I’ve used to illustrate the impact of self-care.

Unplugged? 3 (surprising) Lessons and 3 Rewards

A friend challenged me to unplug and disconnect for my birthday. I thought, “That won’t be a problem. I’m already disciplined in my social media, email, and entertainment.”

Maybe not.

Listen in to find out what I learned…and then try it yourself for a day and share your results. I can’t wait to hear!


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Top Ten Tips for Aging Healthy

I don’t like the term “anti-aging” because it somehow implies aging is a bad thing. It is not only not a bad thing, it is an inevitable thing you’ve done a few seconds of since opening this post and reading it.

Your goal is not to prevent aging but to age well. I’ll go a step further. Your goal is to get to your 90+ year old self, look back with bright eyes in a strong body and say “Yes! That was the way to live.”


So, how do you create that strong life lived?

Here are the top ten tips from my two favorite age-well books:

  1. Keep your arteries healthy. Not very glamorous sounding, I know. But this guards against heart attack, stroke, memory loss, vascular disease, and even some wrinkles. Markers to watch? Blood pressure and C-reactive protein (for inflammation). Actions to take? Exercise, eat several vegetable servings a day, and get your annual check up.

  2. Pump up your immune system. Actions to take? Enjoy tomato sauces regularly, get your vitamin D, and see your dentist to prevent periodontal disease which increases inflammation in your body.

  3. Avoid smoking. Actions to take? Simple. Either don’t start or get whatever help you need to stop.

  4. Manage your stress. I literally mean your stress. What stresses your friends or spouse or neighbor may not stress you. And how you manage it may be different than their method, too. Actions to take? List what the major stressors are in your life and find ways to eliminate, work around, or re-frame them. Also, this month try at least one new way plus a “tried-and-true” to relieve your stress. (Hmmm…makes me want to break out my favorite old comedy, “Oscar”.)

  5. Increase your circle of friends and deepen the relationships you have. Your social network is shown in numerous studies to not only increase life satisfaction, but lengthen your life as well.

  6. Get it out. If you have experienced secret traumas in your life and you have not processed them yet, please seek counsel. The silence is killing you.

  7. Manage your money. In both books this is directly or indirectly covered as a means to lower your stress and provide for your needs throughout your life.

  8. Discover your purpose. Even if you haven’t found your “big calling” in life, focus on finding meaning in the everyday things you do and enjoy.

  9. Find faith. In one study “the risk of dying over nearly three decades was 36 percent lower for frequent church attendees than for infrequent attendees.” In Emotional Longevity the author tells a powerful story of Maya Angelou’s faith for her son’s physical healing. The doctors said he would be paralyzed. She said “Thank God, my son will walk out of this hospital.” Three days later he moved his toes.

  10. Live in positive emotions. Walk through negative ones. Sadness, grief, anxiety will come. Your ability to come through those and back into a positive place increases your “resiliency” and ability to age healthy.


Here’s to your 90 year old self, saying “Well done. Now watch this,” while you wink at your great grandkids.

(Books: Emotional Longevity by Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D. and The Real Age Makeover by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.)

Six (Healthy) Books. Pick Your Favorite.

It is back to school time and, hopefully, the kids are settling into good study habits again.  Why not join them and pick out a book, too?

Here are six books to help you live a healthy lifestyle.  One of the books is a bit rigid in its philosophy (listen in to hear which one), but it is definitely less rigid than a diet.  The other five books range from creative experiments to a step-by-step program to fun physical movement.

Trouble deciding which one is right for you?  Let me know in the comments what your needs are and I'll help you choose.  (Of course, you can't go wrong with Go Forward: 28 Days to Eat, Move, and Enjoy Life God's Way to get you started. :-))




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Diet lessons from a 100 year old textbook


Science progresses and the old ideas we have lived by are built upon or changed.  We go to school, learn, experiment, update the knowledge base, and then start over again, mentoring the next generation to do the same.  That is an ideal. 

Unfortunately, one area seems to have stopped with this textbook from 1916.  Repackaged?  Yes. New versions? Yes.  But current long-term research no longer backs up what is taught in this book and through modern media versions.


The picture above is a 100+ year old chamber to measure the metabolic requirement of babies.  The technology has progressed, but the science is principally the same.  I have stayed overnight, for several research studies, in the metabolic chamber at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  (In case you are wondering, it is a small room with a bed, desk, and window.)  This technology measures how many calories a person burns during the time they are in the chamber.


This device measures the calorie content of food.  Again, technology may look different 100 years ago, but the basic science is as today.

So, what is the problem?  Calories burned.  Calories eaten.  Simple math, right?

That is what was assumed 100 years ago.  I actually have nothing harsh to say about what they taught then.  For then.



calories a day for a man to lose weight



calories a day for a woman to lose weight

They taught the latest information they had.  However, the knowledge base has changed since then.  Research shows (though seldom promoted by diet gurus) -

  • restricting calories this low decreases muscle mass and metabolism
  • counting (carbs, calories, fat, protein) distorts your relationship with food and creates food obsessions
  • living with food rules increases binge eating
  • dieting of all kinds decreases trust of yourself and food
  • dieting fails long-term 90-98% of the time (a.k.a. you gain the weight back, usually plus some)
  • food restrictions negatively impact relationships and mental health

So, what is a healthy way to eat?

  • Listen to when your body tells you to eat.
  • Learn what foods make you feel fantastic and energetic, and which ones don't.
  • Give yourself unconditional permission to eat - even the foods that don't make you feel great.  When you truly want them, eat them fully aware of the result and without any guilt.
  • Savor the food you eat.  Turn off the TV and put down the screen.  (Hint: research also reveals that we eat 10% more when multi-tasking a meal.)
  • Stop when you are no longer physically hungry.
  • Trust that your body wants to be at a healthy weight and it will tell you what to do.

Next time you are tempted with "I'm going to try the new ABCXYD diet" (no, that is not a new diet - at least not one I've heard of), remember it is really not new. 

It's just the newest flavor of the dieting that gained ground during the Victorian era.  (That is a history lesson for another post.)

If you truly want to try the latest and greatest research has to offer, experiment with the list above.  It is mindful-intuitive eating.  And it works. 

You are not a failure. Here's why.

If 90% - 98% of a particular smartphone failed to work after a few months, would you believe it was a problem with the phones or with the users?

If 90% - 98% of diets failed to "work" long-term, would you believe it was a problem with the diets or with the dieters?

The truth is that those statistics are accurate for diets.  (I don't know about for smartphones.)  

This video shares a few more truths (some of them scary), as well as a solution that actually does work.  I'll tell you how your body and mind were created to function best.

Watch it and then let me know your experience with diets.  (Your smartphone?  I wish I could help you with that one.)




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A Five Course Lunch? An Experiment Worth Tasting.

When you sit down (or stand up?) to eat, are you sick of the "shoulds" and want more of the "savors" of a meal?  I did.

Because of my grew-up-dieting childhood, I used to rely solely on external rules and control (a.k.a. diets) to govern my eating.  We all know those eventually lead to rebel-raids of the pantry.  Now I believe that internal cues and mindful pleasure are the path to healthy eating.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, I continue to read and experiment.  I often read about the French way of slowing down and savoring a meal by using courses.  So, I decided to turn a typical lunch into a five course meal.

Typical lunch: Salad greens topped with tomatoes, chicken, and a bit of cheese/dressing.  Fruit, either in the salad or as a dessert.  What did the five courses look like and what did I learn?


The tomatoes became an appetizer


The chicken and some of the vegetables became an entree


The simple salad course came next


The cheese course


Fruit plus a bite of dark chocolate for dessert

What I liked?  The fresh tomatoes did not get lost in the salad.  Delicious.  Each plate had much more focus and pleasure.  Even the truly tiny bit of effort to plate each course added to the enjoyment and focus.  It would have been almost impossible to eat mindlessly.

It did not take longer to prepare and only a bit longer to clean up.  The meal lasted about 30 minutes (eating slower plus getting up to change courses) vs. 10-15 minutes to eat it all in one big salad.

The only down side, and this is because I am not used to eating this way, was figuring out how much food I needed to satisfy my hunger and bring my energy up to normal.  Spreading it out over five courses made it look like a massive amount of food, so I reduced a couple of portion sizes, did not add dressing on my salad greens, and cut half a banana instead of a whole.

After the meal I kept thinking "I just had a five course meal, why am I still hungry?"  Part of Intuitive Eating is not making yourself go hungry. So, I ate another bite of cheese (probably bringing the fat content of the meal closer to what a little salad dressing would have added) and the other half banana.  Then I was satisfied and had energy for hours.

I enjoyed it so much I will continue experimenting with the multi-course concept.

What about you?  Are you willing to experiment and see how a multi-course meal helps you to slowly savor your food?


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Why Thomas Edison was (Dangerously) Wrong

In 1889 Thomas Edison told Scientific American that he slept only four hours a night.  In 1913, John Hubert Greusel wrote “When [Edison's employees] fell from sheer exhaustion he seemed to begrudge the brief hours they were sleeping.”

It appears that Edison's body/brain was wired for about half of the normal sleep need.  His choice.  And, by choice, those who worked for him attempted to do the same.

The following year, 1914, Edison said "There is really no reason why men should go to bed at all."  This is where I say Thomas Edison was dangerously wrong.  Research is very clear now that the vast majority (actually, almost everyone) needs 7-8+ hours of sleep to function well mentally and physically.

When folks don't get enough sleep, it not only impacts production and performance, it can be dangerous if they are dealing with equipment.

In fact, I sometimes wonder if Thomas Edison - or at least his employees - had slept more normal hours if the 1000 attempts to make a light bulb would have been 500?  We will never know.

So, how can getting enough sleep benefit you?  How to improve your ability to sleep well?  Watch this video and let me know how getting enough sleep helps you.


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How to Harvest, Process, and Store Chamomile

Once you start growing herbs, they really produce.  So then the question comes:  how do I store them for the future?

This video is my experiment learning how to harvest and store chamomile ... come learn with me.


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Six Easy Steps for Herbal Infusions

Making an infusion is similar to making tea.  Once you know which herbs you want and if you are using fresh, frozen, or dried, the rest is easy.

For this example, I am using fresh Holy Basil from my garden.  Holy Basil is an "adaptogen" - which helps the body adapt to stress.  

Step One:


Harvest the stems and leaves before flowers form, in early morning, just after the dew is off. That's the ideal. However, these I harvested at 5:45 a.m. because that is when I needed to make my infusion.  Also, the tops had flowered, so I used them.  Amount?  Enough for 2+ tablespoons fresh per cup of water. (If using dried herbs, use 1+ tablespoon per cup of water.)

Step Two:

Rinse off any obvious dirt.  


Step Three:

Strip the leaves and flowers to use.  (Some people also use the stems.)


Step Four:

Chop Coarsely.

Step Five:


Place the herbs in either a mason jar or a french press.  When I began making infusions I used a mason jar and then strained the herbs through a cheesecloth.  If you are going to make infusions several days a week, invest in a french press to save you time.

Steep for 4 hours minimum.  The longer the herb steeps (generally), the stronger the infusion.  I either make my infusion at night and let it steep overnight to drink in the first few hours of the day, or begin steeping in the morning and drink during the afternoon.

Step Six:


Drink the infusion within a day or two, putting it in the refrigerator if over 12-24 hours.  Or freeze the infusion in ice cube trays.  This is especially useful for infusions you want to use as herbal remedies.  For example, if you want sweet basil, chamomile, and mint to steep together for 4 hours to help with digestion or headaches, you don't want to wait 4 hours for relief.  Having it made and frozen, you can pour boiling water over 2-3 cubes and have instant help.

If you have questions, or ways that you make infusions, I'd love to chat in the comments.

10 No-Exercise Workouts

You've had no-bake cookies, right?  Well, here are 10 no-exercise workouts.  At least they aren't traditional exercise, anyway.

What no-exercise workouts (otherwise known as play) do you like?


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Three Tips to Grillin' Out Safely


You think (hopefully) about safety when you grill: keep the flame away from the fabric and the house, use long utensils to stay distant from the flame, pour water over the coals, and so forth.

Do you think about the safety of your body's cells when your grill?  Here are 3 simple ways to decrease the carcinogenic load of your grilling festivities:

1.  Vitamin C - Make sure to add lots of fresh fruit salad and raw broccoli as side items for your grilled meat.  Vitamin C and other antioxidants consumed with grilled meat help protect you.

2.  Rosemary - When you make an herb mix to season your meat, include plenty of rosemary.  Constituents in rosemary have also been shown to protect you from the harmful impact of grilling.

3.  Avoid charring.  I know, I know.  The charred pieces can add flavor.  But grill at a lower temperature and avoid charring the meat (or remove charred areas) to decrease the chemicals formed that increase your risk of cancer.

You don't have to skip the grilling the summer.  Just grill safely.


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Take Weight off the Table

You did not fail. Dieting failed you. Even though the U.S. weight loss industry has grown to almost $59 BILLION annually, chronic disease statistics have not improved and over 90% of dieters experience weight regain (Bacon and Aphramor 2011).


Short-term weight loss lures us into thinking that food restriction is the answer to long-term weight loss. Someone says, "I lost 17 pounds this month" and everyone cheers. But weight loss through restriction only causes weight-cycling (a.k.a. yo-yo dieting). So, what's wrong with that? Not only does it negatively impact your thinking ("I failed again"), weight cycling increases your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol while promoting inflammation in your body.

On the other hand, people who are dieting often see benefits in the short run, such as more energy and decreased pain. However, is it weight loss (alone) causing those benefits OR is it the increase in nutrient-dense foods (a.k.a. more vegetables and fruit) with a decrease in sugar-filled processed food?


In fact, research shows changing the types of foods you eat is one of the reasons for improved health. People can eat healthier foods and increase their physical activity - and without losing weight - decrease their risk of disease (Ikeda et al. 2005).

Much of the research around "non-diet healthy eating" is with Intuitive Eating. The focus of Intuitive Eating is listening to your body's cues about eating, re-building trust that your body will tell you what it needs, when it needs it, and how much it needs. We all did this as young children.

Also, with Intuitive Eating you learn to address feelings and life-issues without the use of food as a fake-comforter.

The results of Intuitive Eating? Research shows that you actually choose more nutritious foods and you don't gain weight. If your body needs to lose weight, it will over time (Bacon 2011; Tribole & Resch 2012).

Stop blaming yourself.  Stop dieting.  Start Intuitively Eating.

(The research cited is derived from ACE Fitness Journal May 2018 "Health at Every Size")


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Simple Steps for Men's Health

You typically think of Men's Health Week in relation to scheduling your annual physical/prostate exam/psa test.  Yep, sorry.  That's part of it.

But since sons, brothers, husbands, fathers all impact everyone around them, I encourage men to look at their health beyond an annual physical.

I asked some of the high-achieving men I admire WHAT they do for their health and WHY they do it.  Here are a couple of responses:

"I exercise and always stay moving, I am aware of portion sizes and what I am consuming. It is important to me because I am an older dad and I want to be around for my kids and their kids. :-)" - Will Brown, CPA, Solution Point Consulting

"I workout almost every morning, and try to eat healthy foods 80% of the time. For me, it's about energy. I want to be able to keep up with my kids and never tell them I'm too tired to play." - John Michael Morgan, Business Author, Speaker and Coach 

These men are a great example.  Below are four very simple steps to take to improve your own health.  If you need help implementing these ideas into your life, let me know.  I can help.

(Click here for a printable version of the graphic.)

classroom rules.png




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Two Powerful Practices to Get Things Done

High-intensity.  Does the thought of high-intensity excite you or make you back away?  

Multi-tasking.  Do you like trying to multi-task or does it exhaust you?


Believe it or not, these two concepts are related.  But only one of these is a powerful way to get things done.  High-intensity here is not about physical intensity (e.g. wind sprints, hill work, interval training).  Mental high-intensity is our focus ... literally.  You can use your exercise time to increase your ability to concentrate, which increases your ability to get things done.

Multi-tasking generally decreases performance by up to 40% according to Schwartz and Goldstein (2017).  In a study by Gallagher (2009), distractions increased brain fatigue and thoughts began to wander toward negativity.


So, how do you train for better focus?  Here are two ways:

Practice mindfulness when you workout. 

Pay close attention to one of aspect of your exercise.  For example, while walking focus intently on the breath or foot strike or arm swing.  After a minute or two (or five) bring your attention to another aspect.  Or during a bicep curl, think about how the biceps feel as they contract and then focus on executing the curl with perfect form.  This practice will both train you to focus and will relax you into the moment.


Add feedback to focus for deliberate practice. 

I was first introduced to the concept of deliberate practice in the book "Left Brain, Right Stuff" by Philip Rosenzweig.  His illustrations showed that deliberate practice was good for situations of repeatable skills (playing an instrument) and was not useful in non-repeatable scenarios (making a "big decision").  This makes sense. 

If you are deciding whether to take a job in another state and move your family, you don't get the feedback for whether that was a "good" decision until months later.  Plus, you hope not to repeat that decision very often.  (For a detailed explanation of deliberate practice, read "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle.)

Repeatable scenarios, including public speaking, cooking, crafts, customer interactions, bookkeeping, and evaluating processes in your daily life to name a tiny few, each give you feedback regularly.  So it is worth using your exercise time to hone your deliberate practice skills. 

How to use deliberate practice in your workouts?  



Set a goal in your exercise performance that is just outside your regular routine.  For example, learn a new leg exercise, or begin taking a Pilates or barre or martial arts class.



Break the new skill into chunks.  If the leg exercise is a walking lunge, learn to swing your leg into position and catch your balance first.  Another day, learn to engage the front leg to pull you up and forward.  Master each phase of the lunge.



Get feedback.  From your trainer, get feedback on your form.  From your body, get feedback on what muscles are engaging as you move.

As you learn to focus intently on one moment and then engage feedback to fine-tune the next moment of your workouts, these skills will translate into greater mindfulness, productivity, and mastery practice in your life.  (Side bonus - you'll get better workouts, too.)


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Vacation Snack-Fix (aka homemade granola)

I asked on my Facebook page what road-trip foods people liked.  Tons of varied responses - from sit-down restaurants to picnics to snacks in the car.  One of my favorites is homemade granola, whether on the road or hiking or topping your oatmeal for breakfast.  Easy to make and easy to carry.  This one has a little savory and a little sweet combo.



  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup nut-seed mix (walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, etc.)
  • .5 cup dried fruit (figs, apples, goji berries, raisins, etc.)
  • Orange zest (the more the merrier)
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons olive or melted coconut oil
  • .5 teaspoon EACH of grated nutmeg, mace, Chinese Five Spice, vanilla extract
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon EACH cinnamon, honey, molasses

Mix dry ingredients.  Mix wet ingredients.  Then mix them together and ... spread on baking sheets or pans.  Bake at 250 F for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.


Let cool and store in the refrigerator.  Pre-bag portions for the road-trip or hiking ... because if you open the entire container, mindless munching might occur and, well, there would be none left for tomorrow. 


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DASH Diet to Good Blood Pressure

I'm not contradicting myself when I teach you about the DASH diet.  Intuitive Eating, the form of Nutrition you learn about from me, says, "Don't Diet."  (Diets have been shown in numerous research to cause stress, poor eating habits, and long-term weight gain in the majority of people.)

However, Intuitive Eating includes "gentle nutrition" - which definitely involves knowing what eating patterns are best for any medical issue you manage.  

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month.  So, here are three ways to help manage high blood pressure:

1.  Move More (aka Exercise and Physical Activity throughout your day)

2.  Manage your Stress

3.  Follow the DASH diet.  If high blood pressure runs in your family, or you are currently dealing with it, watch this video to learn the details.


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7 Steps to Conquer Your Challenges


When you are making a new habit - whether walking every day or eating vegetables at dinner - you will face challenges...

  • Your work and family are busy. When do you fit in the walking?

  • No one likes vegetables, including you. How do you hide them in recipes?

  • You don't know how to start or who can help. Where do you turn?

In my 16 week Thrive Series I help clients discover and defeat their barriers to success. Here are seven ways you can conquer your challenges to living healthy:

1.  Check your beliefs.  Journal for a day or two the thoughts that go through your head about fitness.  Some common ones are "Oh, this is boring," "I need to ______; I'll go for my walk later," "______ needs me to help them.  I don't want to be selfish; I'll just grab a quick bite and fix a nice dinner tomorrow night," and "I only have 10 minutes, so what's the point."

Once you have written your thoughts you can check their validity and come up with truth.

2.  Meditate.  We live our current patterns by reflex and without thought.  To change to a new manner of living, you must consciously choose your actions each moment, until the new way of living is automatic.  How do you change to a new pattern?  Think constantly on the new habit you want to form.

3. Stop believing the media lies.  When 75-90% of dieters re-gain the weight they lost, it cannot be "dieters" - but must be the "diets." (There is a lot of research explaining the physiology and psychology of diets.)  So, get off the diets and find an approach to eating that you enjoy, that your body was created to do.


4.  Prioritize and Delegate.  If lack of time is an issue, write down what you feel responsible to do and then tell yourself "Only do what only I can do."  Start there and delegate, delay, or delete everything else.

5.  Eliminate all-or-none thinking.  Ten minutes is better than none.  Vegetables on five nights is better than three.  Six cups of water is better than two.  Believe in progress.

6.  Choose fun physical activity over exercise.  I do not enjoy indoor cardio.  However, in the winter I despise exercising in a cold wind.  So, my solution is two-fold.  Sometimes I ride a stationary bike and catch up on reading and sometimes I deep clean the house at a fast pace to get up my heart rate.  Well, a third option is walking the mall at a brisk pace, too.  

In the spring and summer, if you don't enjoy traditional exercise, try Frisbee golf, paddleboating, playing tag.

7.  Intentionally pick friends who support you.  Remember the ABC's of friendship -

  • A - Always encourage you

  • B - Believe in you

  • C - Correct and sharpen you

  • D - Don't tell others about your mistakes

Pick the tip that will help you the most and focus on it this week.  You can do this!





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Patience Pays Off


These simple pictures don't reflect the emotions they evoke in me. This is an "oh, my" step in a personal journey. We planted this chamomile and coneflower this weekend.


Have you ever had something that you worked (and worked) toward and no matter how hard and long you worked it seemed to get further away?

Two and a half years ago Doug Traxler and I decided to turn our side yard into a Medicinal Herb Garden. With the help of Nashville Foodscapes and Lisa Bedner, RN and certified herbalist, the soil was prepped, the plants selected, and the garden designed. But then ...

All of 2017 was spent re-weeding. (Ok, not all. We did go to a friend's wedding in CA.) We would weed a section, then by the time the next section was weeded, the bermuda grass would reappear in another area. Evenings. Weekends. Over and over.

This spring we started weeding again.

But you know what happened? Enough of the deep roots were out that there were fewer and fewer weeds and grass. As fewer weeds came up, there were fewer to go to seed.

(Is anyone seeing a life lesson here, too?)

So, this weekend, after making the final layout of one of the herb beds, I was able to plant my first herbs in this garden.

As I sat listening to the rain, I felt such a sense of wonder and hope. "Wow. Something I had begun to feel discouraged over, finally has a tangible proof that IT CAN BE DONE." (Yes, there is still much more to do, but I have hope.)

If you are struggling to make something happen, drink a cup of chamomile tea (not from my garden yet, though ... it's not grown enough) and remember IT CAN BE DONE.


5 Herbs for Stress Management

Are you in (or just out of) a stressful time?  I encourage you to live the essentials of exercise, sunshine, Intuitive Eating and Powerful Plate, prayer, meditation...

While those habits are working on your stress, if you need a boost, these five herbal teas/infusions may help, too.  (Of course, just making a cup of tea sounds relaxing, right?)

Oh, if you are wondering like I did, "What's the difference between a tea and an infusion?" - it is simply how long the herb steeps.  An infusion can be steeped for several hours.

Which of these herbs do you already use?  What other herbs do you like for stress management?


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