Hi and welcome to my blog. I've been involved in natural health for over two decades and I've had the privilege of sharing my wellness knowledge with millions of people. And I look forward to sharing my knowledge here with you. Some of these posts will be education, some entertaining and some touching. But my intention is that you will walk away from every one with some insight into your own life, inspired to make a small change that will lead you to better health. Thanks for joining and please let me know how I can help you in your journey to improved health.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Magic, Mystery and Majesty; The Four Henges in England

We have certain dreams as a child. One of mine was to visit Stonehenge. And when the opportunity arose in 2009, I jumped at the chance. My husband was going to be in Germany and though I couldn't go with him, I took the time to go to England. It was a bit intimidating trying to plan my first trip overseas, and by myself for that matter. I realized that the set tours weren't going to fit my lofty dreams so I decided to rent a car, another intimidating concept of driving on the "wrong side of the road" and frankly, the wrong side of the car. I planned my journey of 2 days in London and then off into the countryside.

Kathy at Stonehenge
My first stop was Stonehenge. I had no clue you could see it from the side of the freeway and I turned a bend and saw it loom off next to me. I burst into tears. A dream had been realized. I parked the car and practically ran to see it. It is roped off so you couldn't get too close to it, but just to be there. I was in awe. I pondered how it was built, what was the purpose and the millions and millions of people throughout history that have walked amongst those stones. I was transferred to another time. Frankly, I was so in awe I barely remember being there, but the proof is in the pictures and how ecstatic I look.

Kathy at Woodhenge, just a few miles up the road
In my research on Stonehenge I learned that just a few miles down the road was Woodhenge. What?! Who heard of that? I had to see it. I bought a packaged sandwich in the store at Stonehenge (I'm sure made by real Druids) and set off to see Woodhenge. It was just a few miles away and no one was there. I'm sure one reason was very few people even knew it existed, but it also wasn't as dynamic as its famed sister Stonehenge. I sat in the middle of the wood pylons wondering what in the world its purpose could have been. Another sacred site, a theatre, a map, something astrological? I had no clue, but it's well worth a visit.

My next stop was Avebury where another henge stood and there were 2 routes I could take, one from the maps I printed off line and the other was what my GPS said. The map won and as I rounded a corner I caught a glimpse of the horse on the hill. I had read about it but I had no idea that I would get to see it. I drove by once again pondering it's purpose and who put it there. But on to the next adventure.

Horse on the hill
Part of the henge in Avebury
As I drove through the small town of Avebury I noticed large stones off the side of the road. I realized that it was basically an alley of stones. At the end was a small parking lot and I parked and started to walk through this path of giants. They were gorgeous and you could touch them, lean against them, feel the power that they embraced. I hugged one, because, why not? After a great walk through the stones I came to the henge itself. It was HUGE. It took up the whole town and there was a great church and cemetery right next to it. If you go don't forget to check out Silbury Hill. I spent quite a bit of time there drinking in what it was like to be amongst such beauty and power. The people that lived there walked around the stones as I'm sure they do everyday. My awe and wonder kept in check by those that are used to being surrounded by such history. When you see it everyday do you still ponder it's majesty? 

Kathy enjoying the baths in Bath

My next stop was the town of Bath, I thought it would pale in comparison to the three henges I had just seen, but it was incredible. I wish I would have had more time to explore the whole town. I did a tour of the ancient Roman baths and spent time at the water fall in the center of town. And learned that my parallel parking skills did translate as I parked on the wrong side of the street from the wrong side of the car and did it in one try. Dad would be proud.

Henge at Stanton Drew
My final stop before Glastonbury was Stanton Drew. This was going to be a tough one as it wasn't on any maps. I found it very much by accident on a website that I could never find again. For some reason I remembered the name. I programmed Stanton Drew into my GPS and of course that took me to the center of town. It was a very small town. I looked frantically for anything that might look like a henge. And then I thought about ancient societies. I bet it was by the church. I saw what looked like a stone on the side of the road and tore into the parking lot to find I arrived quite unexpectedly in someone's driveway. They looked less than happy to see me. I backed out and continued my trek. I finally found a very small parking lot with a very small sign that said 'henge'. I followed the path and realized I was basically in someone's yard. There was a small gate with a little money box that asked for a donation. I plunked a pound into the metal box and walked through the gate. I was met with dozens of cows and sheep as I crossed the long meadow and there in the middle of the creatures was a gorgeous henge. I was awestruck. It was amazing. I didn't have tons of time but found enough to plop dead center and meditate. I was the only one there and found myself practically transported to an ancient time. All of a sudden I heard a sound, melodious and haunting. I thought for a second it was the cows and sheep singing and then I realized it was human. I continued my meditation as the song rose to a peak and then subsided into silence. I finished my meditation and turned to see about 4 women who had been vocalizing behind a rock. We hadn't seen each other before I sat down with my back to where they were. It was magical and perfect. I wanted to stay, to continue to enjoy the magic of this sacred place. But the sun was setting and it was off to Glastonbury...Ancient Avalon.

Stay tuned for part two, coming soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Who me meditate?

So...I'm a bit Type A. I'm driven, a Capricorn, competitive, an only child daughter of a dad that wanted a son. Therefore, if you tell me to meditate, it just isn't going to work. I do hip hop and flying trapeze to relax, so to have me sit on a pillow and quiet my mind and still my body, I stilly and quietly lose my mind. I find it stressful. My to do list runs through my head, everything suddenly cramps, my hair tickles my face and there is that itch...that itch that must be addressed. Every sound is magnified and I want to run around the room.

When I found myself studying stress at Harvard at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine and they said we were going to meditate, I thought, "Oh crap!" We were going to learn the rules of meditation and I got ready. I mean, you have to sit a certain way on a pillow, and stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth, you hold your hands a certain way, breath from your stomach, roll your eyes up into your head and then you float away into a million bubbles, right? I thought so. I was wrong.
Their kind of meditation had just 2 rules.

TWO RULES?! That I might actually be able to do.
1. Concentrate on something repetitive.
2. If thoughts intrude (and they probably will), dismiss them without judgement.

WHAT? Just 2 rules. It can't be that simple. But it was. And it was called a mini meditation. The instructor asked who in the room meditated and me being in the front row (of course I was), I turned to look at the few hundred people behind me and a fair amount of hands were raised. She asked who thought they couldn't meditate and she looked directly at me. Stared actually, it was quite disturbing. It was as if I had a scarlet (type) A embroidered on my proudly worn Harvard t-shirt. I tentatively raised my hand and she nodded as if Buddha himself had told her who I was.

She explained to us those 2 rules I mentioned earlier and had us close our eyes. We concentrated on our breath, the rise and fall of our chest. And on the inhale were to think, "I am." and repeat with every inhale. And on the exhale, "at peace." and repeat that. So, "I am...at peace." And breathe in and out. We did this for about 5 minutes and when she told us to return to the room, I smiled and shook my head no. I finally opened my eyes and she was looking at me, so proud. A meditation convert. I have used the minis ever since.

I've taught them to millions, whether in person, on the radio or in articles I've participated in. (click here for guided instruction) And if I can do it...seriously folks, you can too. Minis stop the stress response that is so detrimental to our health. Bring us back to the present moment, slow our heart and respiratory rate, lower our blood pressure, ready our brains for higher functioning, help digestion and boosts the immune system. I can think of nothing simpler to improve our health.
Give them a shot. I realized though there is certainly a traditional way to meditate, there is no wrong way if it works for you.

And I say good night from my little round pillow. Namaste!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Why I" Dance.

Another installment in the “Why I” series. 

Why I dance.

Ballet circa 1977?

Tap recital 1985ish
I think I shot out of the womb wearing tap shoes, or at the very least my mother put them on my feet as soon as she could. It was her dream as a child to dance but she was never able to take classes. So her dream got transferred to me. I took ballet and tap and gymnastics. When I was old enough I moved into a different dance school where I took ballet, moving into pointe, tap, jazz and acrobatics. I loathed being on pointe. My body just didn't enjoy doing it. I loved the jazz and gymnastics and that's what I really poured my heart and soul into. But it wasn't my passion at that time. I hated having to run to five dance classes a week. It took time away from so many other things that I thought I wanted to do was a child. When I got into college as a theatre major, I decided I would keep up with my dancing. If nothing else it kept me in good shape. I took jazz and tap classes at the theatre arts school where I attended. When I left college I left my dance career behind. After all, it was something you did as a child or if you were performing. Though I did a few musical theatre pieces where I had to dance, I didn't take a class any of the time I was in California.
     Until I got to Santa Barbara and I was trying to find something to do for exercise. I had joined countless gyms for the sole purpose of apparently paying and not going. I was at one time doing Curves pretty religiously. My husband came home from jury duty one day and told me he had met a woman that does hip-hop. I wondered about hip-hop. I loved watching it but it never tried it. He encouraged me to go to class. I looked it up online and a few weeks later found myself sitting in a parking lot scared to death to try to dance class again. I was talking to my dad on the cell phone as I waited for class and expressed my unease about stepping into a dance class after 20 years. He said, “Do the best you can, you'll be fine.” Encouraging as always. I showed up to the class and met the dance instructor Tamarr Paul who was amazingly energetic and somewhat intimidating. I made it through class without killing myself or hurting anyone around me. At one point he dragged me out of the back row saying, "You're kicking ass" and put me in the front of the room. Terrifying!
I called my dad after class sweaty, out of breath and with a headache starting and told him I finished. And he said "And what, it took 10 minutes for it to come back, didn't it?" Yes it certainly did.
Me, Tamarr and others in class

     I realized after that class how much passion I had for dance. It strengthens not only my body but also my mind as I struggle to keep up with the next 5, 6, 7, 8. Tamarr's choreography was complicated, intricate and so filled with energy there were times I could barely keep up. But I persisted. I went every Saturday for quite a few months. And then realized that once a week was not enough. And how did I ever live without dance in my life? When looking through my old dance pictures I found one of me in a T-shirt that said “To dance is to live.” I remembered that it was.  
I decided that I was giving so much to my clients and very little to myself. So I reworked my schedule so one or two nights a week I could go to do some more dance. Soon I was dancing five times a week. And I moved to the front row. 
Flashmob - Jabbawockeez

     Tamarr announced that we were going to dance in the local Solstice Parade and I jumped at the opportunity to once again perform in front of a crowd. It was a long haul up State St here in Santa Barbara but at the end I turned to the gal next to me and said, “Can we do it again?” She thought I was nuts.

Solstice Parade
Solstice Parade

We did a few flash mobs, another stint in the solstice parade and I realized dance is still a complete and utter passion of mine. I let very few things interfere with my dance classes now. The reason I do it is it keeps me young, it keeps me active, it keeps my brain working. It’s allowed me to meet some amazing people, some I’ve been able to help with a job, advice or just a listening ear. It's my drug, my church, my exercise. And never again will I let it fade from my life. I cherish every movement my body makes. I have had clients who have lost mobility to the point where they are bed bound. And sometimes in class I just grin, smiling at the freedom of movement and the knowledge that I can dance, free and liberated. Sometimes I dance for my mom, sometimes for my clients who are old or motionless. And sometimes it's purely for me. 

Find your dance, what makes you feel alive. And do it. Frequently.

For more information on Tamarr Paul and Rhythm

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Corporate Health Tips Vol. 1

It's often hard enough to deal with stress in our own lives without taking it to the office with us. Here are a few tips to de-stress on the job. First off remember to stretch. You should get up and move around at least every 50 minutes. Take a walk around the office, go up and down the stairs, walk around the outside of the building. Do things to take care of yourself in that moment. Here are a few of my favorite stretches.

Do this frequently to help those hardworking computer arms. 

And then flip your hand over and do it the other way. Hold for 30 seconds on each arm with each stretch. 

As well as taking time to move about and stretch, make sure you're getting enough water. Often times that afternoon slump has nothing to do with needing more coffee or another doughnut. It has to do with drinking some water, taking some deep breaths and having a small amount of protein. Remember that starting your day with just carbohydrates and caffeine is not going to fuel you for the rest of the day. You need to start out with a good wholesome breakfast of protein, fats and carbohydrates. And I'm not sure who decided the breakfast had to be a breakfast food. Often times I will have leftover meal from last night such as a pork chop or a piece of fish. One of my favorite breakfasts is mixed greens with a drizzle of olive oil with a crab cake, with an egg on top. Fabulous and sustaining.

Another thing to help you get through your day is to remember to do your meditation. I'm not talking about the sit on a pillow meditation though if you enjoy doing that please do it. I'm talking about those mini meditations that I've been teaching to millions. Concentrate on your breath. The rise and fall of your chest. On the inhale think "I am" and on the exhale think "at peace". And repeat as many times as you can. This brings you back to the present moment, shuts out those negative thoughts and allows you to focus more clearly. It boosts our memory and cognitive function. Studies show people who are less stressed at work are more productive, make more sales, communicate better and have less absenteeism. Who wouldn't want all that? And if you can get it from that simple meditation why not?

My last tip simply has to do with where you place your focus. We have a choice of where we put our attention with every given moment. I have had so many people in my office complain about their jobs, their bosses or their coworkers. You probably can’t just quit so I say focus on something positive. Maybe it's the view from your window, maybe it's the coworker who you really like to joke with, maybe it's simply the paycheck or the health insurance. Showing up someplace every day and focusing on the negative is not going to help the situation. You will find yourself resentful, missing work more, and getting sick more frequently. Find something positive to focus on and see how your day changes. And since that will make you nicer maybe you will be treated differently as well. I hope these tips help, look for more office tips in the near future. And look for my upcoming corporate health programs and how I can come to your company to help you be healthier.  

Why suffer twice?


     2014, though soon coming to an end, was deemed the year of mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply going about a task or activity with total focus presence and curiosity. You can do any activity mindfully. For example if you're going to do the dishes, truly feel how the water feels on your hands, what does the lemony soap smell like, how does the light hit the bubbles causing little rainbows, then one floats away and pops with the little spray water. Suddenly, you find that you have a kitchen full of clean dishes and you basically meditated the whole time. Thich Nhat Hanh says you can either do the dishes to have clean dishes or you can do the dishes to simply do the dishes. The physical outcome is the same but the emotional ramifications are completely different. Being mindful is simply staying in the present moment. Because really that is all we have.
     We cannot change the past no matter how often we dwell on it and we cannot control the future no matter how frequently we want to worry about it. I had a client whose husband had been diagnosed with cancer. He had gone through the cancer treatment and was deemed healthy. But there was concern that the cancer had come back. She worried about whether or not the diagnosis was going to be positive and if so how could she live without him. I reminded her that he was there with her now alive and well. Why should she suffer twice?
     That is an important lesson and I have seen many people including myself to this. We hold the cat close and cry worried that it could die someday. We limit what we're going to do in fear of the future. We miss out on opportunities with those around us because we worry they might be gone someday. All we have is the present and I encourage you to live it to its fullest. Dwelling in the past simply manifests a new stress response. Worrying about the future pulls you out of the joy of the moment. Why suffer twice?