I LOVE a statistic! Maybe because most of the time they totally take me by surprise, and who doesn’t love surprises?!? A recent statistic that caught my attention is that the average American spends 90% of their time indoors. Yes, there are people who work in the great outdoors and benefit from all that fresh air, but most people go from their home to work and back. Given all this “indoor” time, it is of vital importance that the air in our homes, schools and offices be of good quality. Sadly, this is not always the case and indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the Top 5 environmental risks to public health! This is serious!! Poor air quality can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, ear nose and eye issues and can lead to various health issues including asthma, allergies and inflammation. Inflammation in the body is a risk factor for many diseases. Everything from the building materials used, the glue that holds things together, the furniture, rugs and upholstery, to the cleaning products we use can all give off a variety of toxins including formaldehyde – yuk! Other contaminants like pollen, bacteria and mold also find their way in. Don’t panic – there’s a simple, affordable solution to the problem. In the late 1980’s NASA scientists conducted a study to find ways to improve air quality and what they discovered is that houseplants do the job perfectly! Don’t you just love when the solution is a simple one! The plants filter out the toxins so we can breathe in good, clean, healthy air. 6 Houseplants that purify the air – aah!!
A New Year! As I head into this brand new year, my mind is full of thoughts and questions about the year that lies ahead of me. Thinking about it makes me both excited and a wee bit terrified all at the same time! Looking back on my life, there have been years that stand out as pivotal, significant years. I didn’t necessarily know going into them that they would be so important, but by the end it was clear that they were literally “life-changing”. I seem to be having more of them these days. Last year, 2015 was an unexpectedly big year which culminated in my “Cups of Prevention” project and starting my new blog.
Here we go!However, as I enter 2016, I know this is going to be a HUGE year for me. I’m not sure I’ve started many years actually “knowing” this in advance?! I feel like I’m entering a whole new phase of my life as I embark on my new Masters program. I will be learning new things, meeting new people, spending time in a different place…and these are just the obvious things I can predict. I have a sense that along with these there will be many other new things in my future this year. This is both an exhilarating and scary thought!
Ready, Steady, Go!Several people have asked me if I feel ready. From a practical standpoint, I’m ready. I’ve registered for my classes, I have my schedule and I have my books. More than this though, I’m ready to get started on what feels like the beginning of a journey towards fulfilling my true life’s purpose. I’ve wondered over the years, what my true purpose in life is, and used to try to make it fit into something I was doing, so as I could make sense of it and feel like maybe I had actually found it. I never did truly find it, until now. It’s been an interesting, winding road to this place, but I am so grateful to have finally reached this point.
Starting Point.Of course, as much as I feel that I have finally “arrived” at my life’s purpose, I’m also more than aware that this is really just the beginning. Wheee! I trust that all will be revealed to me as time goes on. I’m trying not to focus too far ahead or feel like I have to have all the answers right now. I am going to allow the next 2 years while I’m in this program to reveal these answers to me and point me in the right direction.
“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” -Buddhist Proverb
Am I nervous?Yes! I can’t help but think that everyone else in my class will somehow be further ahead than me already. That they will already have a grasp on Organic Chemistry (just the title alone freaks me out a bit). I’m wondering if I’ll be the oldest person in my class…and by how much? Rationally I know these things don’t matter and I know that once I get there these wee worries will dissolve. Roll on January 15th!
“You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” -Brian TracySo as my amazing husband Randall always says when something big is about to happen…”Buckle Up!” So “buckle up” with me and have an epic 2016!! What does the new year hold for you? Are you trying something new? Embarking on a new project, hobby or career? I’d love to hear what your hopes and dreams for the year are. Please share in the comments.
We hear and see phrases like these all the time these days: "Just Breathe." "Breath is Life." "Take a deep breathe." "Catch your breath" But, what do they really mean by breathe? Surely, I AM breathing?! Of course I’m breathing, or I would not be alive.
Breathing: we simply can’t live without it!The truth is, most of us are not breathing effectively. Notice your breathing right now. Is anything moving? If not, then chances are your breathing is shallow. Deep breathing should be an essential part of everyday life. It can help you to feel happier, give you more energy and even make you more productive. Deep breathing is probably best known for stress relief, but this #DailyMeasure has many other amazing health benefits, and I’ve highlighted some of my favorites for you.
Breathing Detoxifies and Releases ToxinsThe body is designed to release 70% of its toxins through breathing. I know – I was surprised too! You know I’m a huge fan of detoxing the body to keep it healthy and happy, so this is reason enough for me breathe deeply! If you don’t release these toxins through your breath, other systems in the body have to work overtime to help out, which can eventually lead to illness.
Improved Oxygen DeliveryDeep breathing removes the carbon dioxide from your blood and floods it with oxygen – ah! Your cells will thank you! This increases the functionality of every system in your body.
Deep Breathing Makes You CalmerDeep breathing naturally relaxes the body and the mind. We all have times in our day when stress creeps up on us and we know that stress is at the core of most diseases, so finding a simple way to manage stress is key. When we feel stressed our breathing tends to become short and shallow. When we breathe shallowly our body doesn’t receive as much oxygen as it needs and this constricts our muscles. We’ve probably all had that feeling of tightness in our body when we’re stressed or angry. This response triggers the sympathetic nervous system to release cortisol and adrenaline into the body, fueling the response again. The parasympathetic nervous system is the antidote to this and breath is the fastest way for these two systems to communicate. Deep breathing will quickly stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, to help you relax. So the next time you feel stressed, anxious or angry…take a few deep breaths and think about breathing in “the good” and breathing out “the bad”.
Breathing Relieves PainWhen we anticipate or feel pain our natural reaction tends to be to hold our breath. This is the absolute opposite of what we should be doing. Studies show that breathing into your pain actually helps to ease it. Deep breathing releases endorphins, which improves feelings of well-being and provides pain relief. Yay!
Deep Breathing Helps to Regulate WeightDeep breathing can help whether you are overweight or underweight. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen feeds the cells and tissues. If you are overweight, the extra oxygen in the body will help to burn up excess fat more efficiently. When we are stressed (and most of us are at some point in the day) your body burns glycogen instead of fat. However, when you practice deep breathing and engage the relaxation response, this encourages the body to burn fat instead. Other Benefits of Deep Breathing
- Elevates your mood
- Helps you sleep
- Lowers blood pressure
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves posture
- Increases energy
- Improves digestion
- Strengthens lungs
- Clear thinking & improved concentration
Keep it simpleIt doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. It can be as simple as spending some time each day consciously breathing slowly and rhythmically. Draw your breath deep into your lungs and imagine and feel them expanding. When you’re breathing is shallow you’re only using a small portion of your lungs. Breathing deep into the lungs drives more oxygen into the body, which cleanses the blood and in turn benefits your entire body. You can practice this anytime, anywhere. Driving, sitting at your desk or computer or lying in bed at night.
Deep BreathingFind 5-10 minutes once or twice a day to practice Deep Breathing. I can hear you all now, saying this is just one more thing you don’t have time for :) I totally get it. This is the one thing I had the hardest time with, and yet I find it incredibly beneficial, and I know you will too! There are several different breathing techniques, but I’m going to share just one simple version.
OverviewIn order to breathe properly, you need to breathe deeply into your abdomen not just your chest. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmic, and through the nose, not the mouth. Are you sitting comfortably?
- Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down
- Take a moment to relax your muscles. Find where there’s tension in your body and release it.
- Inhale through your nose, expanding your diaphragm (belly) then fill your lungs, counting to 5
- Hold and count to 3. Feel your cells filled with golden, healing light.
- Exhale fully through your mouth, emptying your lungs completely. Again counting to 5. As you exhale release tension from your muscles.
- Continue this pattern for 5-10 minutes. You may need to build up this time. If you can only start with 2 or 3 minutes, that’s OK. It is better to do it for a shorter time than not at all. Doing this twice a day is ideal.
- Concentrate on your breathing and counting, which will give your mind a much-needed break.
If you had told me that the best gift I would ever receive in my life would be an old-fashioned bicycle horn, I would have thought you were crazy! I received this perfect gift three years ago. It arrived in a care package from my sister and brother-in-law, designed to cheer me up as I prepared for my scheduled bilateral mastectomy. Of all the lovely, thoughtful, heartfelt gifts I received during that time, none could beat this horn.
Here JamesThose early days after surgery when my body needed rest and sleep, my husband would sneak out of the bedroom early taking our Scottie dog Dolley with him, leaving me to rest and repair. When I would finally wake, I would reach for my horn (strategically placed close to me, as reaching wasn’t easy after surgery) and toot the horn until Randall and Dolley showed up. I enjoyed this SO much!! It made me smile just squeezing the soft bubble of the horn, and of course I loved that it brought the love of my life to my side!
This would go on for some time.The surprising thing is, it would go on longer than I expected. I am constantly amazed at how the physical body can heal. I watched and documented in photographs, my entire healing process and there would be visible difference from day to day. I was in awe of my body for all that it was doing. The more surprising part for me was that all this healing and mending takes energy and I was obviously giving a lot of that up to this process. This meant that I slept a lot! This also meant that my horn became my best friend when I woke. Now, as time went on, sure I could have popped out of bed on my own and gone downstairs to find my husband…but that’s not nearly as fun as tooting a horn and having him lovingly appear!
Music to my earsNever once did I hear Randall complain about the noise. He just kept showing up, cheery as ever. He would plump up my pillows and bring me a lovely cup of tea and this was my life for a surprising length of time.
Never could say goodbyeThree years later, and this horn still sits by my bed and I still use it on occasion…maybe when I need a wee lie-in on a Sunday morning to recharge. Mostly, I just love the comfort of having it there and all that it now symbolizes to me. So yes, as unlikely as it may seem, this horn was the “best gift ever” and if you should ever know anyone going through a similar experience, I would highly recommend it as a thoughtful, powerful and darned practical gift! Toot toot!
Get your glow on with this simple, quick, feel-good Daily Measure! Dry skin brushing will help you achieve softer, smoother skin, while also helping to cleanse the body – inside and out.
Give your body a helping hand.Your skin is the largest organ in the body and is an organ of elimination. One third of your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin, and dry brushing helps to unclog pores so your body can remove these toxins more efficiently.
The Benefits of Dry BrushingSofter, Smoother Skin with Improved Texture Dry skin brushing exfoliates your skin, removing dead dry skin (and encourages new cell renewal), clears clogged pores and allows your skin to breathe! Practicing dry brushing regularly will leave your skin looking clear and feeling soft, smooth and supple. It also prepares your skin to receive more nutrients. Stimulates Lymphatic Drainage Your lymphatic system is responsible for eliminating cellular waste from your body. Did you know there are hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules in your body, which is responsible for collecting waste from your tissues and transporting it to your blood for elimination? This process is what’s referred to as Lymphatic Drainage. When your lymph system isn’t working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick, and worse yet, can lead to inflammation and disease. Dry brushing helps stimulate the lymphatic system and help the body with this vital detoxification. Improves Circulation Dry brushing increases circulation to your skin, which encourages the elimination of metabolic waste. Reduces the Appearance of Cellulite Cellulite is simply toxic material that has accumulated in your fat cells. Dry skin brushing may help to soften hard fat deposits below the skin while distributing fat deposits more evenly. Dry brushing breaks down those toxins, allowing them to be removed from your body and therefore improving the appearance of cellulite.
The BasicsThe brush. You’ll need a brush with all natural bristles (no toxic synthetic versions allowed). Choose one with firm (but not hard) bristles. A brush with a long handle will help you reach all areas of your body. It can be tricky to brush your back if your brush doesn’t have a handle, unless of course you’re the super flexible person in your yoga class! When? Ideally you should dry brush in the morning right before you shower. You’ll find this practice quite invigorating and energizing, so it’s a perfect way to jump-start your day! How Often? In an ideal world (which we know it’s not :) ) you’d dry brush everyday. Some people even recommend twice a day! I’m all about doing it as often as you can. If you can only squeeze it in a few times a week, it is still well worth doing and you’re still benefiting your body. Caution When starting out don’t brush too hard or too much in one area. Get used to the feeling, and how your skin reacts before you get carried away :) Skin should be stimulated but not irritated. A little pink is fine! If you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis be cautious. Avoid any areas of broken skin and varicose veins. Do not Dry Brush your face unless you have a special separate brush for this purpose only. Brush Care Wash your brush with warm soapy water once a week and allow it to dry thoroughly before your next session.
Let’s DO this!!
- Get naked
- Stand in the shower or tub so as to contain the dead skin cells
- With brush in hand, start on the soles of your feet and brush in gentle, circular strokes. Continue with long sweeping strokes up towards your knees. Circular strokes on the knees, and again long sweeping strokes up the thighs.
- Brush multiple times, overlapping as you go.
- If you’re working on cellulite, you might want to give a little extra time and love to the thighs and buttocks and throw in some good circular motion there too.
- Brush the stomach in a gentle circular motion.
- Move up the chest towards the neck (be super gentle with the delicate breast tissue)
- Use long upward strokes on the back and short downward strokes on your shoulders
- Move to the fingers and work up the arms in the same sweeping fashion.
- Apply a moisturizer. These days, I am loving body oils. Argan oil and coconut oil are great. If your skin is extra dry, apply a lotion after the oil.
TipsDon’t get too caught up in whether you’re dry brushing perfectly! A good general guideline is to brush towards your heart, which is best for circulation and the lymphatic system. Do what feels right to you! Have some fun with it and make it your own. You can’t mess it up! You can spend 2 minutes or 20 minutes depending on the time you have available. If you only have time for a quick once over, that’s fine. Maybe on a Sunday morning you’ll indulge and take 15 minutes! It’s all good! Don’t dry brush at night, as it can be stimulating and give you energy (not what you want when you’re trying to fall asleep) but ideal when you want to wake up in the morning! This is a simple daily measure that you can add to your morning routine just like brushing your teeth and brushing your hair…now you can add in brushing your skin! It just feels SO good and your body will thank you!! Do you already Dry Brush? What benefits have you noticed? Are you going to give it a try? Please share your results in the comments, we’d love to hear!
Today the unthinkable happened to me. I dropped a mirror and it shattered!! I gasped as I looked at it on the floor and of course my first thought went immediately to the superstition “that’ll be 7 years of bad luck”. A few years ago I would have totally bought into this, but not today! I quickly regrouped, picked the mirror off the floor and told it “You don’t have power over me”. It felt good to look defiantly at the cracks and see things differently. My next thought was, “where’s a ladder? I need to walk under one”! I used to be the queen of superstition. It’s so interesting how this has shifted and I didn’t even really notice it happen, until I was confronted by this incident.