Creating Your Sanctuary

Creating Your Sanctuary

My first thought when approached with the subject of Creating Your Sanctuary was “easy peasy, I’m a designer at McCready Interiors, I do that for clients and customers every day”. I ask many questions to find what they want their environment to reflect, then select styles and fabrics or leathers that will be successful in creating that feeling.

A sanctuary is a place of refuge, a place of safety, a place to retreat, it should reflect whatever brings you a sense of peace and tranquility.

In reflecting and researching for my blog, I considered that my personal sanctuary actually changes quite often. My home is obviously a sanctuary where I retreat at the end of the day, but I soon realized I have many opportunities for a sanctuary; a walk in the woods, my gardens, a yoga class, even a visit to the home of my best friend since high school to enjoy the hot tub and catch up.

Your sanctuary may be the beach, an exercise class, a girls night out, or a space in your home you can make your own. It could be those moments when you have the opportunity for “no boys (or kids) allowed”, a big comfy reading chair or a place you can have quiet time to reflect, meditate, or just slow down to recharge.

As women, many of our lives are centered around taking care of others;  we are nurturers, caregivers, helpmates. We tend to do for others before taking care of ourselves. When we give our all to everyone else, there is little left for ourselves.  The importance of self-care is critical to our well-being. We must take the time to regard ourselves highly enough to carve out time and space to enjoy a sanctuary of our own.

Creating your sanctuary is simply making a space that gives you the opportunity to surround yourself with an area to take a breath and unwind.

If you are able to start with a blank slate space, select a wall color that reflects calm to you. Select pieces that avoid clutter and chaos, keep the space simple. This is an area you want to be able to completely relax in.

Carefully edit what you place in your sacred space, less is usually more when you are looking for a place for quiet or meditation. If nature brings you calm and joy, place greenery or nature-inspired artwork there. Position your comfy reading chair facing a window so you can enjoy the view. If the beach is your sanctum, use colors that reflect the sand, sea, and sky. Surround yourself with beauty and an atmosphere of calm. Turn off the TV and turn on your favorite music if you don’t want silence. I have many Pandora stations I can select from to enhance whatever mood or feeling I want to focus on. I choose Motown if I want to escape and maybe dance a little (when no one is watching), Glenn Miller if I’m feeling nostalgic, Eric Clapton or the Beatles for a variety of reasons, and slow smooth jazz or classical choices to for a quieter environment.

Candles whether real or the real-looking battery powered styles can set the mood with soft lighting. Many of us have essential oils and diffusers to provide soothing scents to help create the perfect environment.

When we make time to devote to ourselves and nurture ourselves, we become our better selves. A sacred space is a perfect place to let our best selves shine through. Creating a sanctuary isn’t difficult. Just remember to keep it reflective of who you are and what kind of energy you want it to invoke.

Last diet hack for lifelong wellness

Last diet hack for lifelong wellness

In 2015, I was among the almost 40% of American adults that are obese, and me, morbidly so. Little kids would hug my leg and call me Santa Claus. I was on several blood pressure (BP) medications, cholesterol control, antacids and used a sleep apnea machine.

After almost 2 weeks in hospital due to a septic infection, I had plenty of time to think about how I wanted to live after I got better. It wasn’t as a big guy on a bunch of medication anymore…

Diet and exercise is a start

I started with diet and exercise to lose weight. It can work, I lost 150 lbs doing just that. I used the “Lose It” app along with a Fitbit. Every day I faithfully recorded exercise and everything I ate to make sure I was in a calorie deficit and losing weight. But after my initial success a year into dieting, I started questioning if I wanted to diet like this forever. Also while I had greatly reduced medications due to the weight loss, I was still on BP and cholesterol pills.

A change with good results

In Oct 2016, I was able to attend a 10-day immersion program focused on eating a whole-food plant-based diet. At the end of the program—in just 10 days of eating differently—not only did I start losing more weight, my BP and blood work results showed I could stop the rest of my Medications.

The hack

A whole-food plant-based diet that works two-fold.

First, calorie density is the term used to describe food mass versus calorie content. In various articles, there are diagrams depicting how full your stomach gets when eating whole-food plant-based (WFPB) items like vegetables, potatoes, rice, beans, fruits, whole wheat pasta, and bread, versus processed food and snacks, oil, sugar, cheese, and meat.

For example, see Forks Over Knives article, “The Calorie Density Approach to Nutrition and Lifelong Weight Management.”  Check out the Calorie Density Scale illustration toward the end.

Picture a liter bottle of soda as your stomach. The WFPB foods fill up the bottle, and you feel full without excessive calories. For the same amount of calories, meat, cheese, and processed foods only fill the bottle up a third and keep you wanting more. Even worse, you pack on excess calories if you do eat until you fill the bottle – and the want to feel full is a natural response from your body!

So by eating minimally-processed plant-based food, you lose weight or maintain weight without calorie counting.

Secondly, if you eat mostly meat and cheeses, and oils, then you are at risk of having issues with cholesterol and various inflammatory problems. There is also a lot of evidence of problems with industrialized meat and milk production such as the overuse of antibiotics. A whole-food plant-based diet also looks to minimize sodium intake; a big contributor to BP issues.  For example, see The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health article, “Plant-Based Diets: A Physicians Guide.”

It’s working for me

Over a year and a half eating this way, I lost 30 more pounds – and I’m not focused on restraint and rigorous dieting. I’m feeling more in harmony with my body by eating when I’m hungry and making sure I’m full. I am also still off on blood pressure and cholesterol medications with my Doctor’s blessing. Throw in some moderate exercise and I can do this long term.

It could work for you

There are lots of free helpful recipes, resources, and tips on the internet to help you start. Just do a search on WFPB diet. You can do it without an expensive program or a fad approach with a celebrity spokesperson. Don’t want to jump in all the way? Start by adding 1000 calories of plant-based food to your diet to begin to feel full and more satisfied.  It worked for me, it could work for you. I’d be happy to correspond.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Mike Solon.

Discover Fun Ways to Nourish Your World

Discover Fun Ways to Nourish Your World

Nourish: provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.

July is the month of Nourishing at Mind Body Align. Nourish is one of my favorite words. You can nourish your body, your mind, your spirit, a child, a friend, a friend’s child, an animal, your environment, and even the community. And, I am going to challenge you to come up with some fun ways to do just that this month.

First, grab a writing implement and piece of paper, I’ll wait.

Next, find a comfortable place to sit, lightly close your eyes and take five slow, deep, cleansing breaths.  I am going to wait right here until you finish. You can even roll your shoulders or your eyes a few times before you answer the following questions:

1.  How will you nourish yourself?

2.  How will you nourish family and friends?

3.  How will you nourish the environment?

4.  How will you nourish community?

I want you to be creative, detailed and have some fun!

How can you support growth, health and good condition in each of those areas this month? I will share my answers with you so you can hold me accountable and I would love it if you shared some of yours!

Here goes.

I, Linda Snyder…

1. Will nourish myself by eating a healthy breakfast at least 5 days a week, listening to music when I cook, and creating 30 minutes daily for outside meditation. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS!

2.  I will nourish family and friends by actively listening, not only in person, but when on the telephone by turning off any distractions that may be present while on the call.

3.  I will nourish the environment by refraining from purchasing anything made of plastic during the month of July (this includes polyester and acrylic clothing) and reducing my shower time to 5 minutes, even when I travel for work. I will sing my naked woman song while showering. (This song was created many years ago while my daughter and I were tent camping in Maine. It cost .25 cents to shower so we showered together, quickly.)

4.  I will nourish my community by attending public events, exploring places I can volunteer, and purchasing goods from local establishments.

See? That’s do-able isn’t it?

Now it’s YOUR turn – please share your answers below.

What does “Nourish” really mean?

What does “Nourish” really mean?

When the MBA team gave me the topic of “Nourish” it seemed like a logical fit for someone in the restaurant business. But the longer I thought about the topic, the less I felt qualified to write about it!

What does “Nourish” really mean?  Synonyms include: feed, provide for, sustain, maintain, enhance, cherish, nurture, foster, harbor, etc.

So, OK, I feed people; I provide food for people; I give the opportunity to people to enhance their diets with healthy food options. Those are the obvious reasons for me to write on this topic. But to me, Nourish has a more spiritual meaning.

Humans nourish themselves not only by feeding their bodies, but also through doing the things that they are passionate about and that make them happy. Which is precisely why I wasn’t sure that I was qualified to write about this topic. Being a business owner is hard work, and while I am happy doing it I find that I have ignored myself in the process. The things that I used to be passionate about have been pushed aside.

I was not nourishing myself. Or, so I thought.

While pondering these revelations, I kept being reminded of a profound experience that happened to me at the restaurant one day.

It was a very busy day and we had a full dining room plus many delivery orders to fill. I was feeling pretty stressed when all of a sudden I stopped and listened to the sounds of happy people talking and laughing in the dining room, and I had an overwhelming feeling that my Italian Grandma would be so proud if she could see what I have accomplished (and yes, tears are streaming down my face while I write this.)

My Grandma would invite all the nuns and the priest and anyone else who didn’t have somewhere to go for holiday meals… she loved to feed a crowd. Feeding people in a warm, loving environment nourished her soul. That profound experience nourished my soul.

With loving nourishment

Maybe one day I can get back to those things that I used to be passionate about. For now, I will nourish my soul by helping others find nourishment… not only through offering the healthy food options, but also by providing a place where they will always be greeted with a welcome, a smile, and a warm, loving place to meet friends.

I hope that you have/take time to nourish whatever you are passionate about. Feed your soul! And if, like me, you feel that you’ve had to push aside the things you are passionate about, I hope you can find nourishment being exactly where you are. Your soul will thank you.

Running to Live Vibrantly with Diabetes

Running to Live Vibrantly with Diabetes

When Mind Body Align asked me to write the Live Vibrantly blog, I was honored and excited to be given this topic.  It is, as a matter of fact, the way I strive to live my life.  My hope is that my story will inspire you to live vibrantly no matter what curve ball is thrown your way… like the curve ball thrown my way at a young age.

Welcome to Your New Life

Let’s rewind 32 years.

At the age of 18 and one week prior to graduation, overwhelming news was given to me.  I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and I was immediately required to inject insulin with a needle.  A big fear!  As any teenager would react, I was confused, scared and not sure how I was going to handle this burden since my life up until now was fairly “normal.”

I had two choices:

Let diabetes wreak havoc on my life and become depressed about it,  -OR-

Take control of the disease and do whatever I could to stay healthy.

You guessed it, I took control!

Don’t get me wrong, there were ups and downs of life events dealing with diabetes.  I won’t sugarcoat it (no pun intended).

Strong family support and a great team of doctors kept me in check.  Diabetes didn’t cause me to be angry at life nor to question why I ended up with it.  I learned to appreciate the challenges of the disease and use my mantra “let’s look at the positive side” to change negative habits into positive ones.

A friend once said, “You’re diabetic? But you’re always so happy and active.”  It was this comment I knew I needed to be a role model for others diagnosed with this disease. There is no way diabetes has to slow anyone down!

Hit the Ground Running

I took up running at the age of 30 and switched from injecting insulin with needles to wearing an insulin pump.  Running became a new passion for me. It gives me time to clear my mind, enjoy the scenery and re-energize myself. Any form of exercise can physically, emotionally and mentally make you feel amazing!  When you feel amazing and share your passion with the world, it positively impacts others.  It’s a ripple effect.

In my mid-40s, I challenged myself to run a Tough Mudder obstacle race and a ½ marathon. (I have three Tough Mudders and three ½ marathons under my belt so far!)  Those types of challenges might not be the definition of living vibrantly for everyone, but for me, it’s what keeps me smiling and motivated.  What motivates you?

The New Normal

My life now consists of checking my blood sugar up to ten times a day, visits to the Endocrinologist and eating healthy.  Running keeps me positive and well-balanced, plus I enjoy sharing tips with others on exercise and diabetes.   Having diabetes has taught me discipline, appreciation and bravery. Diabetes altered my life and I’m thankful for it. It has put me on a path to a healthier life style with the purpose to enrich the lives of others with my story.

As I searched living vibrantly topics on the internet, the definition “pulsating with vigor and energy” kept appearing.  I laughed to myself thinking, yep, that’s me!  We all want a happy, vibrant life.  We all have circumstances in our lives that throw us a curve ball and it’s how we choose to live our lives that will make the difference.  Do your very best at whatever life hands you.  Surround yourself with positive influences.  Find support groups.  Live your life with passion.  Go out into the world with a smile on your face and share your enthusiasm with others.  We all deserve a vibrant life.

Growing a better life

Growing a better life

20150526_091012When I go into the garden, my fast-paced life seems to slow down. The texture of the soil, the sounds of nature, and the sights of new growth all coalesce into a joyful experience that transforms me from stressed out drone to peaceful human being.

Knowing that the simple act of gardening has numerous benefits eases my goal-oriented mind. Some might call this getting a lot of bang for my buck; the field of sustainable agriculture calls it stacking functions; I just know that growing my own food makes sense on a lot of levels. One small act of tending a vegetable plot benefits me, my family, my neighborhood and my world.

First off, gardening is my therapy.

My mantra is:

“I go into my garden with problems, and I come out with dirty hands. Then I wash my hands, and my troubles go down the drain.”

There’s something totally satisfying about playing in the soil. I thought it was just me, but then I read about research suggesting that one of the components of dirt could be the new Prozac*. Yes it’s true, soil really is good for the soul!

Gardening facilitates life.

To be sure the seed grows itself, but I help the seed land on fertile soil and nurture the plants. I feel incredible pride when my plants are successful and produce. I photograph my harvests regularly, as my Facebook friends can attest.

My garden helps me eat better. Because I grow mostly vegetables, fruits and herbs, my better half and I eat a lot healthier during the harvest season. I hate to see garden produce go to waste, so we are almost obligated to eat our homegrown harvest daily. And let’s face it, fresh food that is grown and prepared with love tastes and feels better.

Gardening has other physical benefits as well. My garden is a great incentive to be outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. I exercise more: moving in and out of the garden, digging my planting spaces, even adding a few yoga stretches while weeding.

Growing my own food increases my self-sufficiency, which feels empowering to me. I’m making a political and an economic statement. My food is grown according to my values. I am less dependent on Franken-farms and big box retailers. And I can do this for little or no cost by saving seed, utilizing free seed libraries, turning foods scraps into compost, and reusing containers that would otherwise go in the trash.

Gardening grows relationships.

In my experience a garden is a kid magnet, inspiring interest and dozens of questions from all who enter. I get to know the children in the neighborhood and the parents who tag along. As our neighborliness grows, I swap my berries for a fresh baked pie, or just share excess harvest for goodwill.

Gardening also helps me learn about cultures. When I grow a plant from another region, I connect more with the place where it grew and the people who cultivated it. Sharing recipes with neighbors teaches me about their culture and family traditions as well.

So not surprisingly, gardens grow communities too. Gardens can beautify a vacant lot or sterile lawn, transforming them into fresh food oases with fruits, vegetables and flowers. The people tending the garden send the message that someone cares, so gardens make a community seem friendlier too.

Gardens can benefit our environment.

When I grow naturally using sustainable practices, I promote a healthier ecosystem, preserve water and natural resources, and protect pollinators. Plus I spend less time and gas driving to the grocery store.

So next time you see me in the garden, I hope you’ll see more than just a woman digging in the dirt. You’ll see a person who, with one small act, is exercising her body and soul, growing healthy food, connecting with her community, enhancing the environment, and flexing her political power, all while increasing her self-sufficiency.

Would you like to join me? Drop me a line at jean@necic-ohio.org or 419-525- 3101 to learn more about free gardening classes and resources, community garden grants, and even a farmers market to sell homemade and home grown goodies.

Dig in and grow!