Embracing The Holidays

With Thanksgiving a week away and the holidays in full swing, this is also prime time for diet talk, juice cleanses, low carb diets, and fasting to dominate social media feeds, television and radio commercials, and our general discussion amongst friends and family.

This time of year and it’s diet-obsessed energy always kicks my messaging into high gear, because I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to be terrified of the food that will be before me that day, and the day before, and the day after. I know what it’s like to feel weak, like a failure because my willpower failed me once again. If you are feeling anxious about being around family and friends this holiday season, if you’re feeling anxious about this body you inhabit, and the food you may or may not be consuming- I see you and I hear you.

I also know that you deserve so much more than the experiences described above. You deserve to feel empowered in your body and around food. You deserve to be able to be around food- any type of food- and be relaxed. And you deserve to set healthy boundaries.

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I’ve listed a few simple tips below that may be helpful to keep in mind over the next couple of months.

1. Identify & Acknowledge Triggers

If we don’t identify and acknowledge what is triggering our feelings of depression, anxiety, or perhaps body shaming during this time of year (or any time of year!), we won’t be able to heal it.

This is a difficult journey because we have to come face to face with the deeper reasoning behind these feelings. However, once we get to this place, the healing can begin. You may know right away what may trigger emotions this time of year. If you do- excellent! If you aren’t aware of underlying emotions or triggers, journaling is a great way to identify and acknowledge. Simply put pen to paper and write about feelings or thoughts that have been arising for you lately. Don’t stop to analyze what you’re writing, just keep writing for 3-5 minutes. You could also ask trusted friends or family and they may be able to provide you with some insight.

Identifying and acknowledging is an amazing first step. Once we identify and acknowledge, we can start to pay attention to our feelings and emotions as they arise. At first we may only recognize them after the fact. This is fine- still acknowledge and sit with that feeling. Identify it- give it a name. Then perhaps you will be able to identify these feelings in the midst of the trigger, and maybe you’ll then be able to notice when they may occur before the trigger happens. Also keep in mind, you may never reach this point and that is ok! The power lies in identifying and acknowledging, not preventing the feeling from occurring.

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2. Set Boundaries

As the incredible Brene Brown says “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” Wow, how powerful is that?!

If you find yourself at a place where you’ve had or attempted to have healthy discussions about your feelings and the environment remains toxic, it may be time to set some boundaries.

Setting boundaries is choice we make to no longer expose ourselves to an environment that is harmful or toxic. They exist to give us permission to establish or maintain our mental health.

The concept of boundaries often comes up around the holidays because much of the anxiety that is felt this time of year is related to being around family members that we may only be exposed to during this season.  Further, many of us are taught to suck it up, to tolerate it in the moment, only to walk away feeling shame, pain, resentment for the remainder of the year until it happens all over again. Yes, there may be some anger or pain in response to boundaries being set, but this time the energy of this response will be different- because you will be different. When healthy boundaries are set, you will be treated differently because you have established your value.

Even if this means no longer participating in the family’s traditional holiday celebrations, you have freed yourself of a toxic environment and can move forward in your new boundary-setting journey!

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

3. Eat Food

Yes, most of us are surrounded by and consume more food than we normally do on holidays like Thanksgiving. Sometimes we also have parties to attend with friends, events at work in which food is catered or provided by your fellow co-workers. Simply being around food and consuming food does not mean anything about you as a person. Not eating some food does not inherently make you better than others, and eating large quantities of food does not inherently make you less than anyone else.

Diet culture kicks into high gear around the holidays. I’m always amazed with the advertising of the average number of calories that are consumed on Thanksgiving. Just think about that- what is the purpose of this discussion? Does it change what you chose to consume that day, or does it only serve to make you feel worthless while doing so? On a day that is meant to stir feelings of gratitude for all that we have in this life, many of us expend that precious time and energy berating ourselves for what we’re putting in our bodies on one day. I also discuss how dangerous it is to label foods as “good” and “bad” here, and this is very apparent around the holidays.

Maybe this year instead of focusing on the food, take some deep breaths and look around. Look at the faces of your loved ones around the space. Feel your body and send gratitude towards it for keeping you here one more year. List some things you are grateful for, in that moment. And then eat.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

Frankincense: Benefits & Creative Uses

I’ve been sharing my journey with essential oils on the blog here and there. As I learn about the incredible healing powers of essential oils, I get so excited to pass along this knowledge to you!

Although I have yet to come across an essential oil I don’t love, I have a few that I consistently reach for based on their amazing benefits. One of these oils is Frankincense and below I’ll explain why this is one of my favorites, and share some creative uses for this oil in your life.

What Is Frankincense?

Frankincense oil is sourced from the resin of Olibanum trees, otherwise known as the Boswellia Carteri. These trees grow in Oman, Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia. Frankincense is the dried sap of these trees, and when dried, the sap is burned as incense and thought to have several medicinal properties.

Frankincense oil has been discovered in the remains of ancient Egyptian and Anglo-Saxon civilizations, and is closely associated with religious traditions and rites, particularly the Christian tradition. Although it is ancient, it’s healing properties are still closely studied and utilized by traditional and non-traditional practitioners.

Benefits & Creative Uses: 

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: 

An active agent within Frankincense called Boswellic acid is thought to be the reason why this essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and can mimic the action of NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

If you’ve been following my healing journey as well, you’ll know that I’ve been dealing with inflammation related to Dyshidrotic Eczema, and Frankincense has been imperative throughout this process. Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of Boswellic acid, Frankincense can be used to treat diseases such as arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s, and even bladder, pancreatic, and skin cancers. Frankincense also shows a lower risk of unpleasant or dangerous side effects compared to NSAIDs.

Home:

Frankincense is naturally disinfecting, so it can be used to get rid of bugs and germs in your home, without the need to introduce harsh chemicals.  Dilute the Frankincense by adding 5-7 drops into a medium sized spray bottle.  Bonus: Your home will smell amazing!!!!

Beauty:

Frankincense has the ability to encourage skill cell regeneration while also toning, tightening, and lifting. It can also help to decrease wrinkle, reduce acne breakouts, diminish stretch marks, scars, sun spots, and more. Tip: When applying to the skin, be sure to use a carrier oil such as jojoba, coconut, or sweet almond oil. I know it sounds counter intuitive to put oil on your face, but they can do wonders for the skin!

Stress Relief:

Using Frankincense to relieve stress, fatigue, and anxiety is how I was originally introduced to this oil. I typically rub it on my pulse points (wrists and sides of neck), and also rub it into my feet. Did you know the soles of the feet have over 200 pores?! Also be sure to use carrier oils such as jojoba, coconut or sweet almond oil, when putting essential oils directly on the skin.

I also rub it on my palms, hold my palms up to my face and take 5 deep breaths. Sometimes I will also speak affirmations or mantras on each inhale and exhale. The combination of the aromatherapy, the long deep breaths, and the mantra immediately decreases my stress and anxiety. Some examples of mantras would be: inhale “I breathe in safety and peace”, exhale: “I release what I cannot control”. Or simply stating “I am breathing in” on each inhale and “I am breathing out” on each exhale.

Have you tried Frankincense, or any essential oils? If so, how do you use them in your life?  What are your favorites? You know I love to hear from you!

The light in me honors the light in you.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Warm Milk

The cooler temperatures have finally arrived and it looks like they’re here to stay!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently on a healing journey after being diagnosed with Dyshidrotic eczema. On this healing journey, I’ve been examining the foods I eat and have been going back to basics. I feel my body is needing a massive reset due to the amount of inflammation it has been experiencing. Reducing this inflammation and preventing future flare-ups involves keeping things simple- my food, my commitments, my life in general. I am honoring my body and giving it what it is requesting of me.

Throughout this journey I will be sharing recipes, successes, and lessons with you! I have enjoyed playing with new recipes and finding so much pleasure in returning to basic foods. It’s amazing how quickly our sense of taste can change when we allow it to by integrating new foods into our diet.

I have felt called to utilize some Ayurvedic recipes to heal my body.  One recipe that I’ve really been loving is a warm pumpkin beverage that is based on Ayurvedic medicine. I can do another post devoted entirely to Ayurveda, but in general, Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated mind-body healing systems, originating from sages in India. Ayurveda is much more than the food you put in your body, but food is extremely important in how our mind, body, and spirit are balanced and connected.

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I have this warm milk beverage at the end of the evening, before bed. The combination of the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and warmth are the perfect signal to my body that it’s time to rest and prepare to sleep. I have been struggling with difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep for several months now and this beverage has allowed me to sleep without any medication.

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SERVES 1

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups milk of choice (I am a non-dairy consumer so I chose almond or coconut milk)
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated (about 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut sugar (add more or less according to your desired sweetness)
1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In small saucepan, combine all ingredients except coconut sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until completely heated.
  2. Optional: Froth with an electric frother.
  3. Pour contents into mug. Add coconut sugar for desired sweetness. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Drink warm.

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I find that the amount of coconut sugar my body craves is different each day so I save that step until the end. This is a lovely ritual to close each day. Do you have rituals to end each day? I’d love to hear them!

I look forward to sharing many more stories and recipes with you as the end of 2018 approaches! Let me know what you think of this recipe as well- I’d love your feedback!

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

doTERRA

Throughout my healing journey, I’ve experienced the firsthand benefits of yoga, meditation, Reiki, Vedic Yoga Thai Bodywork, and more. However essential oils weren’t included in that path until recently.

One of my mentors utilizes doTERRA essential oils within AromaTouch therapy. She also incorporates it into her Reiki practice, and has been working her healing techniques on me. As with most new experiences, I was skeptical at first, thinking there would be a placebo effect at play during these sessions.

After going over my initial symptoms, including digestive issues and general anxiety, she performed her healing modalities and then sent me home with samples of essential oils, with instructions of how to utilize them until our next appointment. I started by implementing Frankincense and then incorporated Cedarwood as well. Within days I noticed improvements of my digestive issues, and then started to notice how these essential oils have uplifted my mood and general anxiety. I knew I wanted to dive into this healing modality more deeply.

Since I have personally experienced the benefits of these essential oils I have been pouring over literature about the science of essential oils, the various essential oil companies, origins of essential oils, the list goes on and on. I contacted my mentor to purchase the large sizes of oils and we also discussed me joining her doTERRA team. I wasn’t sure I was ready to take that leap yet (as a Taurus, I have to examine all perspectives and angles before making a final decision!). However after meditating on this further, I knew this was a company and a healing modality that I need to be a part of so we went for it!

My first order came today, in which I received my first essential oil diffuser, among other fun items. I cannot say enough amazing things about the peaceful sound, the soothing aroma of the oil I selected to diffuse, and the soft lighting that the diffuser offers. I feel strongly that essential oils have not been a part of my healing journey until now because I wasn’t ready to commit to the extensive learning involved in this endeavor, but now I am diving in completely.

I can’t wait to share more of this journey with all of you. Right now I am using this new role as a way to increase my education and will then begin to spread that knowledge with others, to empower them in their own healing journeys! If you have any questions, tips or more, please reach out!

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The light in me honors the light in you.

Love Letter To My Body

Now that we’re deep into the months of summer, I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with my body over my lifetime, particularly in relation to the seasons. The summer season was traditionally a season of manic ups and downs, depending upon the reflection I saw in the mirror, the number on the scale, or the food I had consumed. The past few summers, however, have been seasons that I simply allow to come and go. I honor my body as it is in that season of my life and continue to treat it with love.

I suppose as I develop to nurture my relationship with food and my body, this is a natural result, and can also be easily overlooked. I am taking a moment to pause and celebrate how far I have come because there were times when I truly never thought I could have the relationship I have with my body. For that I am eternally thankful and grateful!
In honor of these reflections, I have written a love letter to my body.

 

To My Uniquely Perfect Body,

Wow, what a journey it’s been so far!

First, I come to you to humbly ask for your forgiveness. Although I don’t have clear memories of loving and appreciating you prior to when I started hating you and then harming you, I do remember days of childhood where I felt completely comfortable within you. Memories of wearing colorful swimsuits as an 8 year-old without feeling the need to cover up; of coordinating daily outfits that included shorts and tank tops throughout the summer without picking apart each piece of flesh that was exposed.

Remember when I sunburned you so badly at cheer camp in eighth grade…? Me too. Sorry about that. I was only trying to toast you slightly. Unfortunately for you, it would take me years to realize we are both much happier sitting under the umbrella, with a big floppy hat and sunglasses.

Throughout the years we’ve definitely been through our ups and downs. There are too many years when I told you how disgusting you are, while abusing you day in and day out. But all the while, you were there. You’ve always been there for me, talking to me, supporting me, healing yourself to show me how strong and amazing you truly are. I only needed to listen.

Years went by and then slowly, very slowly, I started to see you differently. I began to eat  foods based upon what you needed. I started to drink more water and less alcohol. And I felt you responding to me with love and comfort, which only made me want to continue to provide you with more abundant goodness.

When we finished our first 10k… how amazing was that?! I could feel my heart pumping with enthusiastic euphoria- asking when we could do that again! And in the dim lights of a yoga studio, when I started to feel you again. When tears of gratitude, shame, and support overflowed down my face. And I could hear you whisper to me “Stay here with me, and we can find each other again. I want our healthy relationship back. I’m here.”

I can’t wait to continue to discover more of you, and all of the amazing things that we can do together.  May I continue to come as I am to my mat, and to live each day to fully embrace this body I’ve been blessed to inhabit.

With gratitude,
Jessica

 

The light in me honors to the light in you. 

Another Published Article!

Another article of mine has been published- this time by the amazing Harness Magazine! This is my second article to be published by this magazine and I continue to choose to send them my pieces because of their mission of equipping women to share, empathize, and uplift one another.

Check out my latest article here, and check out Harness Magazine here!

 

The light in me honors the light in you

Words To Share

The following poem by Marianne Williamson has spoken to me currently. Just last night I printed this poem and framed it to place in my office. I need to be surrounded by these words right now.

It also reminds me of this post about the fear of success. I hope you find what you need in these words as well:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.