With spring in the air, there is a sense of opening things up and getting around to spring cleaning. I hope you have been able to do a little cleaning and clearing of your space this month.
Trust me, the thought of cleaning anything does not excite me, but I was looking for one of my favorite herbal products recently and spent too long trying to locate it.
Searching for one herbal remedy made me think my medicine cabinet needed a spring cleaning.
As an herbalist, I have herbs and plant remedies in almost every room of my house. Yes, confession time; I have products in my kitchen, bathroom, home office, travel bag, and garage!
I am sure by now you are wondering why I might have herbal products in the garage—I prepare seasonal supplement packets for my horse, so I even have herbs for that. It is almost comical that I have this many herbs and have difficulty locating the one I need. So, you can see why the idea of spring cleaning might enter the picture.
Do you have cabinets full of herbal products, supplements, and prescription medications?
Be honest with yourself here without judgment. We all do it. Someone suggests an herbal remedy that will be perfect for whatever problem we are dealing with, and we take it for some time, then it gets pushed to the back of the cabinet and forgotten.
If you are no longer taking some of these supplements, vitamins, or herbal products, do they need to occupy valuable space in your medicine cabinet?
How much do you know about your prescription medications—are you taking them as prescribed? Do you need to take it with or without food? Does the time of day make a difference?
Here is what I want you to do. Take everything out of your medicine cabinet, kitchen cabinet, or any other obscure place (like my garage) where you store your vitamins, supplements, herbal products, and prescription medications.
You might recognize this tactic if you have read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, where she instructs the reader to bring out EVERY item in your home in a specified category, such as books. Once everything is in plain view, you must hold each one to see if it sparks joy.
I assure you that while I am asking you to bring ALL of your bottles and containers out into plain view, I am not expecting any of them to spark joy as you hold them, but you get the picture.
We need EVERYTHING on display to make serious decisions about what goes back into the cabinet.
Once ALL the items are on display, you can quickly view them and separate them into categories: Prescription medications, Herbal Remedies, Nutritional Supplements, and Vitamins.
To begin, look at each bottle for the expiration date. If it has expired, set it aside for disposal.
Next, on a sheet of paper, make five columns with the following headings:
Name of Medication, Herb, Supplement, or Vitamin
Why Do I take this product?
Who prescribed or recommended it?
Do I take it consistently as recommended?
How does this product benefit or enhance my health?
Once you have completed your table, look at the products you take regularly or responded yes in column #4. If you answered ‘no’ to taking something regularly, is it because you have side effects or do not feel it benefits your overall health?
**If you are taking prescription medications, please do not stop without discussing them with your healthcare provider.
This process can be a challenging but valuable exercise to see the overall picture of the products you are currently using or simply storing.
Remember, the FDA offers advice and tips for properly disposing of used medications or supplements.
Drop me comment and let me know how this process is going for you or if you need assistance with your self-care routine.
How do we choose what to invite in when information is coming at us constantly?
Wow, what a week it has been!!! I just finished up my virtual live course “Gentle Medicine for Balance in Body and Peace of Mind” on Saturday with a 2-hour virtual medicine making class. What an amazing group of women who came together to learn about partnering with plants and making their own medicine.
Then, on Sunday, I had 4 beautiful women join me for a face to face, socially distanced, outdoor 3-hour Release and Reclaim: Guided by Horse to the Life you Desire! Such powerful transformation happened for everyone. It was absolutely beautiful and inspiring.
While the need for social distancing has made attending some workshops and retreat experiences more challenging, technology has allowed us to meet in virtual classrooms, which is good, but can sometimes leave us feeling less connected in the end.
Do not get me wrong, I have been incredibly grateful for zoom over the past year while in lockdown, but after this past weekend, I am feeling the need for connection with others now more than ever.
I must admit, there are days when I have experienced “zoom fatigue.”
I am not sure that this is a real thing, but I am calling it out for what it is—too much screen time. I personally feel that in the past year I have had way too much screen time, and this includes my phone, computer, and TV.
Screen time is an interesting phenomenon! On one end of the spectrum, we have social media which portrays mostly the ‘highlight reel’ of everyone’s life while on the other end is the news media which is all too often fear-oriented and energetically uncomfortable, especially during this past year.
Not to mention, we are so connected to our smart phones that a sense of panic sets in if we happen to notice that our phone is not within 2 feet of us at any given time. I have recently had many conversations with clients in my office who tell me that their spouses and other family members NEVER put their phone’s down—even during dinner or family time!
How have we gotten to this point with the information coming at us at such an alarming rate? We have gotten here because it has been easy. Access to information is instantaneous and constant.
So now, the hard part. Spring is a great time to clear energy from your mind, your body, your living space, and your electronics. What are you willing to do to free up space in your life for what you really want?
I challenge you to commit to a 7-day news and social media fast. There, I said it. If you were to totally eliminate the news and social media from your life for 7 days, what do you think that would feel like?
Next, at the end of 7 days, I challenge you to make very clear, conscious choices about what you allow back into your life.
If I can do anything to support your self-care journey, schedule a virtual or Face to Face visit with me HERE.
Did you know that even in chaos, there might be something perfect?
Some days it is tough for me to wrap my head around everything that has happened in the past year. When we first started to learn about COVID-19 last spring, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what our world would look like right now.
As I have tried to make some sense out of everything and all of the changes that everyone has had to make, I reflected on something that one of my mentors asked me when I was dealing with what I thought was a crisis at the time. After listening to my “story,” she said:
Yes, AND what might be perfect about this situation that you might not have recognized amid turmoil, chaos, and confusion.
Well, those were sort of her words anyway, but I think you get the point. While events this past year challenged us in so many ways, look around and ask:
What about this present moment, situation, or event might be PERFECT?
I know this might be a reach, but the PEFECTNESS found in my situation has been my ability to slow things down a bit and focus on offering my gifts to the world in a different way. I have had the opportunity to adjust my practice to fit today’s reality, and you know what, it has not been all bad. I have been able to find more exciting ways to interact with my clients than ever before. For this, I am eternally grateful to you.
While I hope that you can find some PERFECTNESS in your world, I also want you to continue taking care of yourself and keep moving forward. Some simple self-care tips for this perfect moment include:
1) Incorporate the herb Thyme into your foods when possible, think pasta sauce (Thyme has antiseptic properties and helps fight respiratory infections) or make a cup of thyme tea by taking 1 tsp herb and placing it in a cup. Cover with boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, and strain and enjoy tea with a teaspoon of honey). Delicious.
2) Avoid prolonged exposure to windy weather or drafts (remember when your mother or grandmother told you to always cover your head and ears, well it seems that they were on to something). If you need to be outside or around other people, place a small amount of cotton in both ears and wear a scarf. Yes, still wear your mask, but in TCM, colds, viruses, and flu are considered external wind conditions—they blow into the body with the wind.
3) If you start to feel the effects of a cold or virus, make Ginger tea by adding chopped fresh ginger into a cup with boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, add honey and lemon to taste. Drink 3-4 times/day.
I wish for you to be well and stay safe. Reach out if I can support your self-care and healing journey in any way!
What Should Be Your Focus This Month?
Happy New Year!!! In many ways, it is hard to believe that we have jumped right into 2021, while in other ways, it could not come quickly enough. Regardless of how you viewed it, I hope that this newsletter finds you healthy and doing a few things that you love.
While social isolation and changes in routine became commonplace for everyone in 2020, I know, for many, this has created a huge amount of emotional, physical, and financial hardship.
If you are suffering in any area of your life, please reach out for support. I would love to hear from you. While I might not be able to remedy the immediate problem or situation, I can certainly listen and work with you to develop some solutions or at least some strategies to help you manage whatever is happening in your life.
A positive outcome of spending more time at home afforded me the opportunity to participate in an online course with one of my mentors, Kathy Pike. During one of our online lessons, my assignment was to go out to the barn with my horse, G, and practice an exercise called Release and Reclaim.
Without going into excessive detail, here is a quick overview. I was to walk around beside G while stating out loud all of the things that I wanted to release and any energy I was prepared to let go of from my life. For example, I wanted to release my perfectionist tendencies, my concern about what others think—I think you get the idea.
Trust me when I tell you that the list was quite long and we had to walk for a bit to get it all out!
However, the most interesting part about the experience happened when I started walking and talking about what I was ready to welcome into my life. Yikes, I could only come up with a couple of things that felt genuine and authentic!
At this point, G stopped walking with me as if to say, ‘well if you don’t know what you want, I can’t help you.” I had to ask myself, how could I be so unclear about what I want?
While 2020 introduced us all to many new challenges and gave us a good dose of what we don’t want in our lives, it occurred to me that a developing pattern for most of us might have become focusing on that which we don’t want.
If you have spent any time studying the Law of Attraction, you will recognize the statement, “what we resist, persists.” As we kick off 2021 (and kick out 2020), let’s turn our energy, focus, and attention to what we want for ourselves, making small daily choices that align with our core values.
“Never underestimate the big importance of small things.”
~Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
So, to reclaim those parts of yourself that are so vitally important, make a list of 3 things that you truly want for your life. Write them on post-it notes and paste them all over your house, car, and office, if needed, as daily reminders. For example, instead of focusing on your current debt, shift your focus to becoming financially secure. What areas of your life are both the most important AND need attention?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Are you okay with Just Being?
I stumbled on a video this week by author Elizabeth Gilbert. She talked a great deal about the pandemic and the status of our world; then, she said something that stuck with me.
She said, “we have to learn to be okay with just being.”
This did not sound so profound on the surface, but as I reflected on this statement, I realized that this is precisely what I have been trying to do. In the last couple of months, I have been very fortunate to spend some time in the mountains where I feel like I have been “nesting,” eliminating clutter and searching around my beautiful property for some meditation spaces.
When I mention meditation, I really mean a short meditation followed by a much longer nap. So, you can see that the proper location is paramount to the success of my meditation practice. While my way may defy meditation logic, it does allow my mind to be still and my body to become quiet.
Interestingly, I have found that my most profound meditation moments have come when I am sharing space with my horse, G.
I realized this summer instead of focusing so much on doing, doing, doing, I would try to focus on being. Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for making it okay to just be.
Horses always live in the present moment and are happiest when they are with others who appreciate being and not doing.
Spending time with horses, in the present moment, allows your mind to quiet, your heart rate to slow down, and your ability to detect subtle energetic shifts in the environment becomes more apparent.
When was the last time you felt okay with just being? Do you know what that feels like, or do you remain in constant motion to gloss over any actual body sensations you might experience? My challenge to you as we move into the holiday season is to take some time to rest, restore, and rejuvenate.
For today, try to spend 5 minutes in meditation (or quiet reflection) and ask yourself:
1) What matters most to me today?
2) What energy, thoughts, emotions, or feelings would I like to
let go of today?
3) What core value do I choose to express and live today?
Next, take a few minutes to write down a few thoughts about any or all of these questions. Take time throughout the day to review and reflect on the intention you set for your day.
I find that doing this daily keeps me focused on what is most important to me and helps me select my thoughts for the day.
What can you do right this moment to feel settled?
What a couple of months it has been!!! I am not usually one to overly complain or point out the not so great things that happen because most days, I do feel genuinely grateful for all the good things in my life. However, as most of you might be aware, in Southeastern NC, we experienced our first named storm of the hurricane season just a few short weeks ago.
We were fortunate, actually (compared to the recent Gulf Coast hurricane), because our power returned within about 12 hours (hallelujah). We did not sustain any significant damage or flooding…but the truckloads of yard debris that we cleaned up for days were exhausting. (I now sort of understand why some folks in hurricane-prone regions have prophylactically cut down all their trees, but that is another matter altogether).
Fast forward a few days when I packed up my husband, 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 1 horse (no minor undertaking, I assure you, especially the husband part, LOL), to move to the mountains for a vacation just in time to be a mere 8 miles away from the epicenter of a 5.1 earthquake. The first earthquake of this magnitude to hit NC since 1916!! Yes, and we were here for it. Again, I am happy to report no significant damage, but our world was certainly rocked, literally, and figuratively.
Anyway, between these natural events occurring and the shit show that is our world right now, the only word that I can come up with to describe how I am feeling is “unsettled.”
Yes, I said it. Despite my efforts to stay grounded and roll with the punches, I am feeling very “unsettled.”
According to the dictionary, unsettled is defined as lacking stability, not yet resolved, and not calm or tranquil. Well, if that is not the understatement of the year, I am not sure what might be at this point.
However, upon reflection of recent events and feeling unsettled, I was reminded of a quote that I read years ago by author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the book Flow--
“People who learn to control their inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives.”
So, I decided to look at what I could do in the present moment to help me feel more settled because how we respond to stressors determines the outcome for each of us.
What do you need to do right now to feel settled?
Ask yourself, what can you do to help control your inner experience (aka response to stress and current events) at this moment to change the quality of your experience. I offer a few suggestions that I am working hard to employ.
What limiting beliefs are holding you back?
I hope that you are doing well. I know some of you have been exposed to Covid-19, have been infected with Covid-19, or have family and friends affected in some way. To say this is a challenging time would be an understatement.
What insights about yourself, your health, or your life have you been able to have during this time whether you have sheltered in place or been an essential worker on the front lines of this pandemic?
Interestingly enough, in the process of some deep self-reflection, I have had time to examine a few limiting beliefs I hold about myself and my abilities. It has not always been fun, nor has it been particularly pretty.
Confession time here—despite writing a doctoral dissertation, publishing several articles in peer-reviewed nursing journals, and writing most of my adult life, I continue to struggle with writing and putting myself out there.
I always have great ideas for children’s stories or works of fiction, but every time I sit down to put my thoughts on paper, I see a big, fat RED “F.” How can that be, you might be wondering? Well, I am sharing something with you that I have not shared before.
When I was in the 7th grade, I had an English composition teacher that made us write a gazillion essays. His grading system was simple—you would receive an “A” for the perfect, grammatically correct piece or you would receive an “F” for the slightest infraction or error. No kidding, that was—an A or an F.
Talk about pressure. As you might have guessed, I saw a considerable number of big, red “Fs” that year. To say this squelched any enthusiasm I had for writing would be a dire understatement.
As a result, I have struggled my entire adult life to write and have felt that my ideas and thoughts might not be good enough to share with others. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe that this newsletter is a gift to the literary community. Still, it represents one thing that I am doing to release myself from the limiting belief that I am not a writer, so thank you for being a part of my self-care community and reading this composition of my thoughts.
What is one limiting belief that you have about yourself that prevents you from putting yourself out there and offering your real gifts to the world?
What belief are you holding onto—I am not smart enough, I am not thin enough, I am not ________ enough—you fill in the blank!
I challenge you to tell someone this not enough story that you have held onto and notice their response. Saying this “thing” out loud, you will move the energy that has been stuck in your body and mind for so long. Most of the time, what limits us from doing what we want or from living the life we desire, is some tired, old rhetoric that can be traced back to the 7th grade or before.
Now is the time to examine this and release it to the universe.
Your time to shine has come.
So, I am meeting my challenge for myself this month and sharing one of my deepest, limiting beliefs with you. I don’t aspire to be a Nobel Prize-winning author like Toni Morrison, but I would like to be able to put pen to paper to project my thoughts and ideas in a manner that is good enough! More importantly, I want to believe that it is good enough.
Yesterday morning, I had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours with my amazing horse, G. This was my first early morning ride this spring (appropriately timed on the first day after the spring equinox).
You see, I am a morning person by nature, but because of winter weather, my work schedule, and other time demands over the past few months, I have been getting to the barn later in the afternoon when my energy level can be less than optimal.
Well, the beautiful morning weather and the need for social distancing created the perfect opportunity to get to the barn bright and early when the dew was still on the grass, G was quietly munching hay, and the air was cool and crisp.
I was in heaven to say the least.
As I was playing with G (we do lots of play and positive reinforcement training), it occurred to me that so much of our interactions involve curiosity and possibility. For example, when he starts playing with something or seeks information through curious behavior, he is rewarded handsomely with treats.
I have worked with other horses who have experienced more fear based training and they may not play or seek out new possibilities.
Their behavior is structured to prevent negative reinforcement or punishment.
These horses operate from a place of fear, whereas horses like G, who have been rewarded for being playful, working from a place of curiosity and possibility, look for ways to interact that will give him the reward that he is seeking.
Sometimes the actual horse behaviors (standing quietly when asked, moving over with slight pressure to their sides, etc.) may appear the same to an observer.
However, the mindset of the horse and the way the horse views the world and his situation is quite different.
So, I ask you as you are dealing with everything surrounding COVID-19,
“Are you responding from a place of fear or one of curiosity and possibility?”
Fear language looks like this (you fill in the blanks for yourself):
If I can’t _______________, then _________________.
If I lose ____________________, then I won’t be able to __________________.
Curiosity and Possibility language looks like this (you fill in the blanks):
Since I can’t ________________________, it may give me time to ________________.
Without the burden of _______________, I can explore ways to do ______________.
So, ask yourself how you want to approach the current situation that we find ourselves in today. Right now, everything may hinge on the decisions and choices we make in this moment.
I know that everyone is rushing around to fill the voids made by social distancing, but ask yourself this “Do I really need to fill every minute with something?”
Could this be our opportunity to take stock of what is really important to us?
I challenge you to grab a cup of lemon balm tea (great for calming the nervous system) and take a good hard look at your core values. Spending time on activities that align with your values will help you feel grounded and centered. Letting go of the “I should” thoughts and behaviors will give you time to focus on activities that make your heart happy. If I can support you in any way, please REACH OUT and let me know.
Be Well, Julie & G
Can you find the 'positive' in this moment?
Here in southeastern NC, we are quite familiar with dealing with weather disasters like hurricanes, which can paralyze our area for days or weeks. However, most of the time, other areas of the state or country can provide relief in the way of supplies and support services that help to get things back to normal rather quickly.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented experience that most of us in this country have fortunately not experienced in the past. As a result, you can’t watch the news, read the paper, or link to the internet without being bombarded with images of maps or government agencies telling us just how critical the situation is worldwide. Travel is stressful, significant events (yes, even sporting events) canceled, and health care organizations are overwhelmed.
I have struggled with balancing my need to reach out to each of you to offer support and information with my concern that you might already be on overload. So, today I would like to suggest that perhaps in these challenging times, we ask ourselves
“What might be positive in this situation that we may not be able to see at this time?”
Please understand, I am not making light of school closings, travel restrictions, deaths related to this virus, or financial struggles affecting everyone. However, if you can’t travel or attend to most of the things on your schedule, what might you do with your ‘spare’ time?
I suggest that you use this time to step up your daily self-care routine.
While diligent handwashing, face touch avoidance, and social distancing are somewhat effective in preventing viral spread, I would like to suggest some other self-care strategies that you can use to boost your immune response. With a little practice, you might even continue these strategies into the future (when the virus is no longer a threat).
First, modulate the stress and fear that seems to be spreading as fast as the virus itself. Anxiety and fear can compromise your immune response leaving you more vulnerable to infection in the long term. Strategies to decrease the cortisol release associated with stress can mitigate the effect.
I would like to suggest that you:
If you need any additional support or information, please reach out to me. At this time, I am continuing to see clients in my office with some restrictions. This pandemic is going to affect everyone on some level, but I know that if we all work together, we can weather this storm. Be well and reach out if you need additional help or support.
LET'S MANIFEST BABY!
I hope that 2020 is off to a healthy start for you. It is hard to believe that we are already edging toward mid-February and alas, another full moon cycle (Snow Moon in Native American Culture) has come and gone.
I recently returned from presenting and coaching at a retreat in Tucson, Arizona, sponsored by the Academy of Coaching with Horses. It was an incredible opportunity to spend time with my co-facilitators and the 24 participants (all women).
What I gleaned from being in the desert with the energy of these amazing women and more than 150 horses around me 24/7 was that 2020 is OUR year to start manifesting all that we desire in this life.
We often keep ourselves small and have been conditioned to believe that to keep things neat and tidy, we must not shine our light too brightly for fear that we might overshadow others.
Well, if we don’t shine our light and play big in this world now (manifesting the life that we want and desire), when will we ever get around to it? The answer is a resounding “never.”
So I challenge you to break out those intentions you set earlier and let's get to manifesting them in 2020!!
However, if those intentions that you set earlier seem a little small and unassuming, let me help you set some new ones to hit the reset button for 2020 with my simple, daily intention-setting meditation (no special equipment required).
Intention Setting Meditation
Let's agree to stop playing small and get on with that amazing life that we desire and deserve.
"YOUR PLAYING SMALL DOES NOT SERVE THE WORLD"