Wishing for a PAUSE button on life

I don’t know if you are having a good week or a bad week? A restful or a stressful week?

 

I was travelling all weekend and launched into a week full of late nights. (I had the pleasure of meeting some of you though, at Gilda’s club on Monday night and it was such a treat! I had a lovely time.)

 

If I’m being honest, it’s been a long week.

 

It didn’t go as perfectly executed as I hoped. I didn’t make all the dinners I had planned, or catch my workouts.

 

We all have these weeks and it can be entire months sometimes.

 

I wish I could just PUSH PAUSE on all areas of my life: catch up on sleep, catch up on cooking, chores, self care, time with my family, etc.

 

Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE my work- and I love my (day) job.

 

Like most of you, its ONE of MANY JOBS I have and one of many ROLES I play.

 

Like you, I am also a partner, mother, sister and friend.

 

Somewhere between all those roles, I can easily lose sight of “ME”.

 
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I see this so much in patients, especially ones that are sicker right now than they want to be.  Ones that are caring for loved ones.

 

Life isn’t really going to give us a pause button- we have to create it.

 

It may not look like a weekly massage- although if you can do that, that’s AMAZING.

 

But it can look like moments of quiet, moments to sip tea, moments to walk alone with our thoughts.

 

It is in these times we CREATE a feeling of pause. And that stillness amidst the hustle of our lives, it feeds us.

 

It sustains us.

 

So take an intentional pause with me today. Take one everyday if you can. It is a secret to health. Mental and Physical Health. 

 

If life has felt more overwhelming than normal, reach out to any health professional for help. 

 

Be Well.

 

My FAVORITE Supplement for Fighting Stress

Chronic stress can show up like abdominal obesity, pre-diabetes, headaches, muscle tension, insomnia, FEELING EXHAUSTED, or even stomach & reproductive issues.

When I see that stress is an OVERACTIVE part of your life, I start looking into why. HOW has your stress hormone, Cortisol, been affected?

Are you wired and unable to sleep, or sleepy all the time?

When are you the MOST tired in your day? How do you feel after eating?

These are just a few questions to start peeling back HOW the stress is affecting you.

Stress isn’t all-bad though. It protects us when we are in real danger, and helps us get things done, too.

The GOAL is to be able to WEATHER the stress in our lives a little EASIER.

There is a class of plant medicines that helps with this exactly.

They are called ADAPTOGENS. They help us build RESILIENCE to stress


My FAVORITE adaptogen is called Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera).


 
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It has been widely used in the Indian subcontinent for centuries.

I've been putting in in my smoothie.

It’s exciting to me to see that the research is catching up- to what this herb can do. It has been more recently studied for its effects on lowering anxiety, improving insomnia, low sex drive, weight loss etc. One study showed that 60 days of use helped lower stress levels by 44%. [1]


I’m going to be talking about a couple more of my favorite supplements for stress on Wednesday 5/30, 6:30 at True Rest Float Spa in Farmington Hills.

If you are done having stress run your life, I'll see you there.



[1] Chandrasekhar, K., Jyoti Kapoor, and Sridhar Anishetty. "A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults." Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine34.3 (2012): 255.


Sharma, Ashok Kumar, Indraneel Basu, and Siddarth Singh. "Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 24.3 (2018):


Dongre, Swati, Deepak Langade, and Sauvik Bhattacharyya. "Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract in improving sexual function in women: a pilot study." BioMed research international 2015 (2015).



Enjoy the Sun AND Keep your Skin Looking Younger

I don't know about you but I have been waiting for spring since Christmas. Now that the sun is roaring, let's talk about how to enjoy the sun and still give our skin a break! 

What's the big deal?

The sun’s UV rays damage our skin cells and cause mutations, which increases our ability to develop skin cancer. In addition, the sun ACCELERATES THE SIGNS OF AGING.

Use these 5 QUICK tips to enjoy the sun more safely. Your skin will thank you. 

  1. Try avoiding direct sunlight from 11-3PM. 
    This is when the sun’s UV rays are a lot higher
     

  2. Use tight woven cotton clothing if you need to be outside to act as a BARRIER, and its still breathable and light. 
     

  3. Use a hat, that is WIDE brimmed. Our faces are exposed to the sun so frequently they need extra protection.
     

  4. Use a high quality SPF and REAPPLY
     

  5. This one technically isn’t SKIN related, but find sunglasses that use 100% UV protection OR UV 400 protection

Happy SPRING. 

 Be WELL 

What Does it Mean to be a Woman in Survivorship?

Nayana, a black girl with a swan-like neck and startling cheekbones is far too young for three years with metastatic lung. She looks at the ground and blinks twice.“I miss my eyelashes. Without them, I don’t feel quite….human,” she states.

Sarai,an older lady with a terrific will and metastatic breast, breaks down for the first time in the three years I have been treating her. Her voice soggy and bleak, she cries, “They took my breast and I gained all this weight in my stomach. I don’t feel like a woman anymore.”

Danae, a glossy manicured blond and mother of five young children, presents following bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, “I can’t even look at them in a mirror, I feel betrayed by my body. I don’t even look at my husband’s face when we have sex.”

Irai, a Jewish nomad, writer and farmer, presents with suicidal thoughts following port placement. “My skin just sits all wrong, this thing makes me nauseous, it skeeves me out…like I am an alien or a robot. I can’t do this anymore.”


Laila, 42, newly married, with a recent diagnosis of BRCA positive ovarian cancer, following surgical debulking and bilateral mastectomy, looks straight ahead and cools the room with her quiet words, “I feel like I have failed him…what kind of wife can I be? It hurts to have sex, I have lost my hair, my breasts, I just don’t know what I can give him anymore.”

All of these women are survivors.

We run a survivorship clinic. Our work is to partner with our patients and their team to:

1. Protect our patients from acute and late term effects from treatment

2. Lower risk of recurrence and progression with cancer

3. Empower our patients to use Food and Natural Therapies to fight cancer

4. Support our patients in feeling optimally well.

But, when we talk about survivorship, from the first day of diagnosis through the balance of a person’s life, there are certain topics that just don’t get much play in oncology.

One of these is what we looklike when treatment is all said and done.

Part of why this conversation is so hard is it begs the question, What does it mean to be a woman?

From the time we are young, we are indoctrinated with a belief that:

What makes us beautiful, makes us female.

And

What makes us female, makes us worthy.

So when we are asked "What does it mean to be a woman?" for many of us, what we hear is, What Does it Mean to be Beautiful?

The answer has become, universally: youthfulness, long hair, long eyelashes, thick brows, radiant skin, symmetrical breasts, a small waist, white teeth, pretty nails. Someone to call me a wife, mother, daughter, sister.

And because these things, all at once, are difficult to sustain, they have become rings that we reach for, perpetually justout of reach.

A multibillion dollar industry gets fatter on our core belief by leveraging our need to feel worthy. That the standards are skittish and mercurial keeps the beauty business, IN business. I mean, big bottoms are in, then they are too too. Skin the color of baby powder is the height of fine and then the deepest bronze is deck. Windblown blond curls are on fleek, then Kardashian black, takes center stage. Thin and bony, is loish and in the same five-year period, a sinewy, masculine build makes the grade.

It can be a challenge for anywoman, as she moves through her life cycle.

But what of the Survivor?

When one is diagnosed with cancer, the shock catapults us into a fight for our lives. Quickly, almost gratefully, we accept “necessary losses”: our breasts, our nails, our hair, our uteruses…

We are expected to feel thankful to simply be alive, but when all is said and done and we look in the mirror, we are left feeling alone and bewildered as we seek to redefine our essential worth and choose to Live.


The American Cancer Societyhas been trying to start the conversation with its Look Good Feel Betterprogram.  This program partners thousands of beauty professionals with patients to teach them how to manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. The goal is to give women (and men), a way to feel normal, when “normal” no longer exists.

Margot European Day Spa, in Birmingham is looking to join this movement by bringing on aestheticians and massage therapists trained in treating survivors. The owner and founder of the salon, Margot Kohler, and salon director, Ursula Froehlich, have a personal commitment to making women feel beautiful from the inside out, regardless of their circumstance.

Kristina Juhas, with Eyedolize, also in Birmingham, is the first lash and brow specialist in SE Michigan to consult with survivors.

This is wonderful, and….there is still much more we need to do to truly meet the needs of any person who faces disability, loss, death.

Early last Spring, I was forced to consider a personaldiagnosis with a poor prognosis. 

I knew I would be offered surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. My body would become a testament to the deformity associated with diagnosis; no chance, short of Divine intercession, at cure.

I have failed to meet most of the standards society sets for being a “woman”.

I am not a wife. I am not a mother. I am complement in a male dominated field that requires a compromise in my emotional landscape. I am a business owner and a single earner. I am held to a level of professional conduct that rejects creativity and intuition. I am getting older and beginning to think about the changes I will face hormonally and metabolically.

I have lost one, and stand to lose, within the year, two more, of the only people that call me daughter

As a consequence, quite privately, I have cherished my “beauty.” I love my breasts and the color and texture of my skin. I have what we call in my communities of origin, “good hair.” (long and it does what I tell it to do) I have a nice figure, strong nails and bones, and I haven’t yet had to think about whether I am ready to give up my fertility.

As a patient, however, I had to consider my own “necessary losses”. Following a period of grief, I came to a quick acceptance for I am a person of faith and I believe that we are not our bodies, we are our souls. 

But truthfully, I wasn’t tested, because I thought I was going to die. One can face almost anything when death is imminent. The true test of my faith is Can I livefrom my Soul?

Living, I would have wanted my breasts, my lashes, my hair…All of It! And at the very least, I would want to know that beauty professionals who care about how to make me feel beautiful, exist.

I was cleared of the diagnosis of cancer, but I realized that to live with the anticipated losses would have forced me to redefine what made me a woman.

So began a conversation with myself about what makes me beautiful outside of my appearance and what others think of me. This has brought me into a fuller, more grounded version of myself.

I invite you to have the same conversation with yourself. It is entirely personal, individual and intimately yours…because what you decide makes you beautiful, simply has to be, just that…..yours.


I can tell you, what I see now:


For Nayana, it is her willingnessto be stand in the breach between living and dying and choose hope, her ability to stay in grace, all teeth in her smile, that makes her beautiful to me.


ForSarai,it’s that inspiredby the challenges that her grown son faces with gambling, she has begun a spiritualjourney to understand addiction, her commitmentto personal responsibilitya beacon for her family.


For Danae, it’s her devotionto her children, despite the fact that being a mother doesn’t come naturally to her...the drive to give everything she has, unselfishly, and quite consciously.


For Irai,it’s that she has opted out of surveillance and is living on a farm in Israel, where she runs through fields every morning until her lungs give out, her choice to be the revolution, to live outsideof the parameters that we as oncology professionals have set for her.


For Laila, it’s that she tells her story of what it means to be a wife in front of a room full of male medical students, one of whom may be quietly moved to be a better doctor, a better husband, a better son.  She is a livingtestament, her story, a prophecy.


A new definition, new words: willingnessgraceoutsider, drive, personal responsibility...What I have come to understand is We are born female, but we become women.

 
 
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Fertility Smoothie

Fertility Smoothie

Last week I shared with you the reason why I did my 3-day juice cleanse.  (SPOILER ALERT: I wanna be a mama!)

Today, I’m sharing my recipe for the FERTILITY SMOOTHIE that I’ve been drinking for the past few weeks.  Not only is it NUTRITIOUS and highly supportive for fertility, it’s DELICIOUS too!

WHAT do I put into my fertility smoothie and WHY?

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The Best Way to Make Grocery Trips MUCH easier

The Best Way to Make Grocery Trips MUCH easier

It's Friday afternoon. Your stomach is giving you that all-too familiar grumble.
You open the fridge, and there is…. nothing.
Your produce and snacks for the week are either gone or too old.
SIGH.  If you are like me, the end of the week is a little bit of a danger zone.

Is it just me- or am I the only one that is SO much less motivated to go to the grocery store as the week winds down?

So my latest solution?

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More than Just a Juice Cleanse

More than Just a Juice Cleanse

Some of you may have seen part of my 3-day juice cleanse journey from Drought last month via Facebook. 
 
I SURVIVED, despite my husband, Kevin, bringing home pizza on the first day (I was literally drooling). 
 
It was challenging.  I felt hungry, a little irritable, and had some digestive issues, but what got me through was my reason for doing the cleanse.
 
Why did I choose to do this 3-day cleanse? 

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How to CHEAT When You Are TOO Tired to Cook

How to CHEAT When You Are TOO Tired to Cook

It’s the end of the week. You are tired.

Maybe its been a long day or you are just not motivated to cook tonight.

Buddy’s pizza is calling your name.
But you know you aren’t going to love how you feel afterward.

This is REAL LIFE. Real life is filled with times like this- where healthy eating and weight loss feels a bit like a chore.

You know that your body needs it, though. So what CAN you do?

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Handling Change and the Journey Back to Center

Lately, life has been constantly shifting for me and I have allowed my health to take a back seat. Sound familiar? If I tell you that the last several months have included a cross-country move, buying and selling cars, buying a house (without seeing it!), the trappings of life with a toddler, and both my husband and I starting new jobs, you can understand how that may have happened.

We all face this in some way. No one is immune to life’s unique set of challenges for us. Something knocks us out of center and it is a constant journey to come back. Sometimes the return is quick and fairly painless. Other times, it requires more energy and some real pain.

I’ll tell you, this one has been longer and more painful than I expected. I want to skip this part and fast forward to building a community and just get to the "fun parts" of life here. I’m realizing that is not the point. These experiences are here to teach me: lessons about managing my time, lessons about so much more.

One of my teachers once told me that these experiences are very similar to the practice of yoga. Say- when you start to hold Warrior II pose. At first, you feel the pinch of uncomfortable-ness and you confront your own resistance. As the instructor tells you to “use your breath and breathe into the pose”, half your mind is SCREAMING to stop, the other half lets you stay there. It shows up. You hold on, beads of sweat rolling down your back and you can feel the tension ease in certain parts and hold tight in others.

Change is like that, too. Our brains are screaming for the uncomfortable-ness to stop. The practice comes when we use our breath to relax into the pose. That does not mean that we aren’t going to feel the stretch or that it suddenly becomes easy. It just means we know we can experience it and come out on the other side. We have to keep showing up to learn the lessons, though.  

Through my BIG move, I have learned so much.  In fact, some easy tips that I can’t wait to share with you like how to eat out and be healthier. I learned how to simplify and automate parts of my life, cheat with food prep, and how to practice mindfulness and get back to some basic self care when it’s the last thing I want to do. But that’s too much for today… I’ll save that for next week.

What is your current Warrior II? Are you relaxing into the pose?

back to center