Thanks & Giving

A Heart of Gratitude Can Help You Heal even While Coping with Unbearable Loss

Frank came to me, I felt him all throughout my body like I was vibrating! He was saying, “I’m here, it’s OK, I’m with you.” It was amazing. I started smiling all while sobbing, finally, with gratitude.

The holiday season is upon us and it is not easy for everyone. There are so many moments where joy gets mixed with sorrow, and dealing with another day when those we loved so much are gone can stop us from getting the most out of the life we deserve. It is because of such a painful loss that I want to share this story and what I have learned, again the hard way, from such a personal tragedy.

I recently lost my brother-in-law, Frank, who was more like a brother to me these last 20 years. It was a very shocking, unexpected loss and my family will forever miss and love him. As you can imagine when he passed away the last thing I thought about was taking care of myself. My diet, my self-care, my self-love all went out the window and all I could do was feel sad, confused and depressed. I couldn’t think about food or meditating or applying coconut oil on my skin. Nothing mattered to me anymore. It made me question everything and I felt lost.

Moments like these force you to think about death, life, why we are here and what it all means, and for some reason, holidays always make it harder. However, it does make me feel good to think when people die, when they are 80 years old, that they are ready to go and did the job they were here to do or learned the lessons they were here to learn. It makes it harder when they are younger and in their 40s or even younger and had only short moments in time to permanently change the universe. It is hard to grasp that people are called to move on through death, but I believe there is a purpose in everything.

When I look back at Frank’s life, I see a lot of joy he felt through his kids, his family and at one time in his life, my sister. I smile thinking of that joy I’d see in his eyes, all the Christmas gift opening, funny conversations around the dinner table, hugs hello, and giving me the honor of health coaching him – even for just a few months before he died. I can’t help but feel he gave me this gift; some extra time with him where we’d chat, bond and I’d share in his excitement of losing weight and feeling better. I feel so honored to have been able to help him feel good before he left.

Feeling good and trying to find gratitude is so desperately what I wanted weeks after he died, but I couldn’t find it until one day when I got in his car and heard everything in my body tell me he was with me. I automatically felt better in that moment. Something huge lifted and I started seeking out those moments where I would feel him. He now helps me feel good just like I did for him and it just warms my heart! Even this morning, I was walking and thinking of him as my tears welled up, then the strangest thing happened: He was with me and I knew it. I felt him making my body vibrate all over. Something in me just knew it was him and I said, “That’s you isn’t it?” and I felt the vibration responding which was a big YES! I felt inspired to write and immediately marched over to the nearest coffee shop, ordered a tea and wrote this blog. He wanted us to know something huge. He wanted to remind us to do whatever we can in this lifetime to feel good and to keep a gracious and open heart. It was a reminder to find something their soul and being taught us and to feel grateful about it. They don’t want us to live in pain, grief, regret and illness.  They don’t want to only be remembered for the incident that took their life. They want you to appreciate yours and the wonderful times they were part of it. Is that not a simple and incredible reminder of what we should try to do? Then why is it so hard sometimes?

After he left us, I slowly I got back to my self-care and self-love…slowly. I gave myself permission to stop beating myself up for falling off my nutrition/self-love wagon. I said ‘no’ to the guilty thoughts which looking back was the exact self- love I needed! It’s so simple sometimes that we miss it right in front of our eyes. If we stopped in the midst of that not so nice thought (I look fat or I suck at this or I’m the only person who has hurt this much after the loss of a loved one) and asked ourselves if that thought is loving, then reach for the thought that feels better, I promise you that subtle and magical things will happen. Go back and read that last sentence again slowly. I want you to really hear and understand what I’m asking you to do because you will feel GOOD if you do this even if just in that moment. You will feel better and it will make you want to reach for more loving thoughts as you live your life. We all have thousands of those moments on a daily basis where our egos verbally abuse us, so trust me, you will have plenty of opportunities to try this. Just remember what it’s all about, what this life is all about – joy, happiness, feeling GOOD all while maintaining a heart that truly gives thanks.

Start by remembering why you are here. I know in my heart I’m here to learn how to love myself. I know that’s why I got psoriasis. I know most people won’t agree with me and that’s okay. I’m a big believer in bio-individuality, whether it’s food we are talking about or thoughts, hopes and dreams. These thoughts make me feel better and when I look back at my life all I ever wanted was to feel good. Isn’t that what we all strive for? Feeling good…

What makes you feel good? Make a list and start to do those things each week, each day! What do you want to feel while you are here? I want to feel as many good things as I can before I am ready to go. I think instead of a “to do” list we need a “feel good” list! I’ll share my feel good list with you here:

  • Feeling the breeze and sun on my face.
  • Moving my body.
  • Loving my husband.
  • Spending time with my family and friends.
  • Having deep conversations with good friends.
  • Appreciating my family.
  • Eating healthy food.
  • Helping others feel good.
  • Writing.
  • Giving and giving and giving.

These are just a few, but you get it. Frank has helped me stumble across another tool to keep in my toolbox and now it’s yours too. How much better would our lives be if we started our days by looking at our feel good list and remind ourselves to do something on it? You know the saying – life is short? WELL, IT IS! Yes, I just yelled that out loud! So why don’t we start living with the intention of feeling good each day? I mean, actually go out of our way to feel good! How profound yet simple is that?

I know Frank inspired me to write this blog. I believe he’s writing it through me. I hope he’s helping you as much as he’s helping me because that’s what he would have wanted. Now go write your “feel good” list and hang it up on your bathroom mirror. Then, I always want you to do your best to remember to give thanks for those things you have now and those people in your life now. I want you to cherish those moments from the ones you have lost and not face life every year with bitterness and pain because of the loss but try (and I know it is hard) to remember the wonderful moments; how that person shaped you and your life and all the beautiful mysterious lessons you were taught along the way.  Then, I want you to do your best to go out and give.  Give a hug, give help at a shelter, give grace to those who are in need of forgiveness and most of all give love to yourself. Life is hard. Suffering from illness and loss is even harder, but I promise you if you take on a gracious heart and fill it with love and gratitude you will have the best Thanksgiving ever while remembering what the day is truly about: thanks and giving.

 

Transition

 

As most of you know, I’m in the middle of a transition in my life right now, but it’s way bigger than I could have ever expected, or maybe it’s just all happening in a short time, so it feels incredibly overwhelming (in a good way). Within a few months, I’ve gotten married, turned 40, launched my Healing My Skin business, and am halfway through writing my book! There is one more exciting life-changing event happening, too, that I can’t talk about right now, but I promise to fill you in as soon as I can! No, I’m not pregnant! 🙂

It’s all been quite surreal—that’s truly the best word to describe it. What’s really sinking in on my journey is discovering that, when you go out of your way to become your best self, really magical things happen. What I mean by becoming your best self is everything from taking control of your health, to chasing and believing in your dreams, to everything in between.

The in-between means taking stock of every moment in your life and working to find more happiness in each one of them.  And, I use the word work because being conscious of our behaviors and our attitudes is a huge part of what leads us to become our best self.  It is not always the things on the outside that make us happy; often, it is the thoughts and beliefs from the inside that need to be modified so that we can make the best of situations around us. Taking mindful and compassionate control of these moments, dousing them with self-love, and then moving forward in our practical day-to-day affairs is what truly defines being our best self—at least in my mind.

Once you nurture your mind, then it is time to work on the external in-betweens, such as taking time to exercise (even if only for 20 minutes), spending more time with friends or family, trying a new veggie with dinner, tackling one little task you might have been putting off (that you know will feel like a burden lifted when complete), or anything that gets you feeling good about trying to move forward—even though some days that might seem impossible.

The point is that when we develop and work on creating our best self we are doing the most important thing, nourishing ourselves with self-love, and this is key to a happy and healthy life.  It could be anything from thinking of two things you are grateful for before going to sleep, to saying I love you to yourself in the mirror, to whatever that extra loving thing is that will somehow pass along the beautiful message to the universe that you want more of these things in your life because it makes you feel so good. Just remember, you get what you expect, so go ahead and expect things in your life to get better, easier, and happier! Expect your skin to be clear and those spots of psoriasis to fade away. What have you got to lose by expecting the best for your life? In my opinion, you will only gain!

My new transition has brought up some terrifying yet exhilarating emotions in me. Luckily, the exhilarating emotions far outweigh the terrifying ones. But, even though wonderful things are happening, there is still stress involved. It is good to remember that when you are going through a stressful time. When I used to audition, I would be so grateful I had the opportunity to act that day. It was wonderful, but along with it came the fear of being judged or not doing well. My nervous system felt unsafe in that room, and I would sometimes find myself shaking. I would plow through it, though, because I refused to let the fear stop me. Even if I came out of there feeling awesome, it was still stress on my body.  So keep that in mind, whatever you’re doing—starting a new job, going on a date or a trip, whatever great thing it is—there will always be stress that comes along with it in some way.  It’s how you handle the stress that matters.

My average day lately is a game of ping-pong in my brain with thoughts that look like this:

“Move the hell over fear, you are not standing in my way!” to,

“Can I do this? Ok, breathe Kim!” to,

“Hell, yeah, I got this!” to,

“What if I’m not good enough and fail?” to,

“I always believed I was supposed to do something big, this is it!”

I can assure you, you are not the only person whose mind can race all day long!

Somewhere in my body, I’m scared and shaking; but, at the same time, I’ve never felt so happy and ecstatic. I’ve been walking around super-overwhelmed, yet on cloud nine!  Have you ever felt both yin and yang at the same time? It’s stressful on our bodies, and I realize I need to calm the hell down. I know that all those ping-pong thoughts are not good for anyone.

Because I am just like everyone else, human, I wanted to share my four ‘go-tos’ that work best for me to get myself grounded and quiet my racing thoughts so that I’m not all over the place. Perhaps when you are feeling a bit yin and yang they will help you as well:

1) Step outside, ground your feet (especially if there is some place you can take your shoes off and step in the grass) and/or take a walk outside—even if it’s just around the block.

2) Meditate, even if it is only for two minutes, and even if it is just taking a succession of deep breathes in and out, five seconds for each, a few times in a row.

3) Step away from the electronics, silence your phone for one minute, turn off all the external computer, TV, music, and auxiliary noise and listen to the beauty of silence.

4) And, my ultimate favorite, watch the synchronicity of the birds flying above. You can do this while you are walking around the block.  You can walk to your window and look up.  For this, I’d even let you look at this on a computer screen, because looking at the synchronicity of the birds is like looking at fish swimming in a fish bowl; it calms the mind and can physically reduce your heart rate. I always watch the birds while I’m waiting for the train.  I can’t help but seek them out, up there on that platform.

Strange, but now they find me! I’ll be driving and out of nowhere a huge flock of them will gracefully fly by in such incredible unity.  It is amazing. It forces me into the present moment more than anything else.  The moon does that for me as well. I love to stare at the moon.  You get my point.  Find anything in nature, in its perfect creation, to focus on, and you will find your mind has taken a quick break from its worries.  When is the last time you stopped working or talking on the phone to admire a beautiful tree or flower?

It’s time.  Your transition time is here, so think about the exciting things you are on the verge of. Think of how you are going to be healed soon. Think about how you are going to be the person who will give yourself self-love at all times and think about having your mind and body merge in the unified and beautifully loving way that you deserve.  Know that you are loved.  Actively work to do things that will make you happier. Try out a few of my suggestions and know that your body was designed to heal.  The way the universe sends the flock of birds to your life, the way they work in unison, that is what your body can and will do for you.  So, transition for the better.  Stay hopeful and know that if you need help, motivation, a shoulder to cry on, or a word of encouragement, I am here for you.

Remember, you get what you expect. I always expect to have an impact on this world, and so should you.  What would happen if we all expected greatness and moved the universe in that direction? Greatness would be achieved. Now, that gives me chills. And that is what motivates me to want to help transition you!

Heart Picture

Kim

Fighting Through Fear

“When your desire to make a difference outweighs your fear of failure, you will succeed.”  This was recently stated by a fellow health coach at a conference I attended, whose mother was diagnosed with cancer and healed herself through nutrition after her doctor told her if she does not get chemo and radiation she will die in one year.  This statement deeply resonated with me! As many of you know, I’m in the middle of a transition right now, starting to take the steps of leaving behind a career in TV and film to begin a career as an integrative nutrition health coach, teacher, and writer.

I currently work full time at a TV production company, which I thought and hoped could be my bread and butter while I finished nutrition school, built my company (Healing My Skin), and got it off the ground. That would have been the perfect situation. Unfortunately, all of it was energy draining, time sucking, and stressful. I pushed through for a while, but eventually I got sick – so sick I was out of work for two weeks. I knew deep in my gut I was sick because of the stress I was feeling. It wasn’t just stress of the job, though; it was stress I felt from not having enough time and energy to focus on what I loved: helping people, school, building my company, and spending quality time with family, friends, and the love of my life.

I found myself sacrificing sleep to squeeze in all the important things. Then, slowly, the realization started to kick in. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t I be spending more time doing what I love and with who I love, and squeezing in everything else? I spoke to some close friends who pointed out the obvious, that I’ve been complaining about my job for a long time and that I should re-evaluate my situation. I don’t know why I needed to hear it from them instead of listening to my gut, which was telling me the exact same thing. Apparently, I don’t trust my gut until my friends and family are pointing it out to me! My gut tends to want to do scary things. Lesson learned on listening to it more. I’m working on it!

The thing is, I know why I wasn’t listening to my gut. I was terrified! If I listened to it, I knew I would have to quit my job—and I couldn’t face that fear quite yet, I wasn’t ready. If I quit, how would I make money? I had just launched Healing My Skin and knew it would take time to grow. I wanted to work part-time, so I could have the time and freedom to focus on building it. But who would hire me part time that would pay well enough to take care my bills and have a life?  I’m almost 40, and I actually enjoy being able to go out to eat or treat myself to a manicure! As the questions raced through my mind, the stress levels rose.

There was one question I kept asking myself that finally helped me make my decision: How am I supposed to help people make their health a priority if I can’t do that for myself?

I was returning to work after being out sick, and I now knew what I had to do. I couldn’t ignore my gut another day. Although I knew it so deeply, I asked the universe to show me a sign that if I quit I would be okay. I must have asked 50 times! I’d be quitting my job while building my business… and, did I mention I’m saving for my wedding? High stakes, people! I kept second-guessing my decision, and my gut kept screaming, “DO IT FOR YOUR HEALTH!”

To make things worse, I had developed a small patch of psoriasis on my leg that was definitely the result of stress! I hadn’t been loving myself as much as I needed to regarding my diet, exercise, and my spiritual practice. A new or growing spot is always a devastating feeling that hits me right in my heart.  It’s my body telling me that I’m not taking care of it, that I’m not meeting its needs. That, in turn, makes me feel all sorts of negative emotions – guilt, sadness, and anger are my top three. Not good! I woke up Monday with the intention of quitting sometime that week. I was giving myself some extra love that morning, sipping on my hot water with lemon, repeating the affirmations, “I can heal” and, “the universe will take care of me.” But deep down I was terrified it wouldn’t take care of me.

I WAS TERRIFIED!

I didn’t allow this fear to stop me, though. I wasn’t going to change my mind. I walked to work with the intention to believe and trust I was going to be okay, and that I would find the perfect, stress-free, part-time gig working from home so I could have more energy and time to focus on what was important to me. I’m following my gut and my dream; I’ll be supported, right?

I’m sure you are all wondering what the hell happened by now. Well, I quit. And, not only did I quit, but the universe presented me with five tangible opportunities that Monday, one after another, after another…and all working remotely, part-time from home. It was miraculous! A dear friend said to me, “Kim, it’s amazing how, when you take the leap, the universe rewards you!” She’s so right!

I wanted to share this story with you to help you fight through your fear. This is the thing: there will always be fear creeping into our lives. We can’t escape it. But we can make the decision of whether or not we are going to allow it to get in our way. I know it might seem so easy for me to say that, now, after I’ve already quit and have other work that will give me a paycheck. But the fear I was feeling while taking that risk was incredibly scary and real. Scarier than anything I’ve felt in a long time. There was a little voice in me telling me I had to do it, and I trusted that voice. I’m asking you to trust yours. I’m not asking you to leave your toxic job or relationship, or give up sugar. I’m asking you to listen to your inner voice that will guide you to the healthy path you want to be on to thrive and live your happiest life. It might take a day or a year, but it’ll happen. Trust that you will get there when YOU are ready.

When your desire to make a difference outweighs your fear of failure, you will succeed. Love that!

I would love to hear how you deal with fear. Do you find yourself avoiding it? Confronting it? Please share your stories with me to help inspire others!

Why I Want to Help People Heal and Love Their Skin

I find it fascinating how the universe always seems to swoop in to reassure us when we are feeling fear about something we were born to do.  Let me explain. I’m almost six months into my studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a health coach, and I’m beyond scared! My passion is to specialize in helping people who suffer from skin diseases so I can help them heal the way I am healing myself, through nutrition and self-love. I’ll be pre-certified in two weeks and have officially started my business, Healing My Skin. It’s scary to start a new career at almost forty, and it doesn’t help when the little voice in my head is negatively thinking thoughts like “What if I disappoint my clients?” Luckily, my passion and enthusiasm are keeping my negative thoughts at bay, and I’m not allowing fear to stop me. I genuinely love helping people, because it makes me feel so damn good inside, and I believe when you’re passionate about something, you have to do it! Plus, everything in me believes in the healing power of whole foods and love, and my mission is to spread the word one person at a time!

I have been talking to a few people lately whom I consider to be my “practice clients.” Some have psoriasis, and some just want to feel better in general. It’s truly an honor to be on their journey! One of these practice clients, whom I now consider a friend, is a woman who has been suffering from severe psoriasis for a long time. She’s a busy wife and mother of two little boys. When we first spoke, she admitted to being really nervous talking about her skin because, much like I had been when I was younger, she didn’t talk to anyone about it, not even her husband. She hid it from most of the world as much as she could like a dirty little secret, feeling ashamed and embarrassed. She was disgusted by it, and when she found the courage to send me photos, I understood her fear.

This disease isn’t pretty, but it’s our bodies communicating with us that something needs to change.  It took me over twenty years to listen, and I don’t want others to have to wait that long. Can you imagine walking around feeling ashamed of your body every day of your life? We are not here to carry around feelings of shame and embarrassment; we are here to feel happiness and joy. At least, that’s what I believe in every core of my being. It’s why I finally “came out” about my psoriasis.

This woman I’m now friends with is so gorgeous, too—downright stunning! What’s a shame is that someone so beautiful on both the inside and outside ended up feeling such disgust about herself. It makes me sad. I totally relate to what she has been feeling most of her life, which is what drives me to help people like her find their empowerment. In that empowerment, they find love and appreciation for themselves and their bodies. This beautiful woman started learning what was actually occurring inside of her body, how hard it was working to protect her, and she found a whole new respect and understanding for it. This changed everything for her, and she is starting to feel some control. She’s not just looking at the symptom anymore; she’s now looking at the cause.

This is what we all need to do with any illness or condition. We need to ask the question: What’s causing this, and how can we work on healing that from the inside out? A perfect example is that when I get sick, it’s always at a time when I’m most stressed out. My body is fighting to rest, and I’m usually not allowing it to. Then I get sick and am forced to cancel plans, not go to work, and lie on the couch.

This woman has been so inspired to heal, that in just one month, she has implemented new lifestyle changes into her family’s home—which I’m sure wasn’t easy, given that she has three boys! She sends me photos of her healthy cooking all the time, and I am so proud of her for staying motivated. I love getting those photos because I know she is now feeling the way I was feeling at the very beginning of my journey: open, hopeful, and excited. I am so happy for her that she feels in control of her body for the first time and ultimately feels more confident.

To see the changes in her skin only a month and a half into her new diet and her new outlook on life leaves me feeling elated. The feeling is enough to move mountains, people! It’s A-mazing!

 

Our bodies are miracles, aren’t they?

On the day she sent me some photos of her progress, they came with a beautiful message thanking me, telling me how grateful she was for having met me, that she and her husband both saw the difference and were so happy to see some clearing for the first time. Her text brought me to tears, because what she didn’t know was that I was having such a bad day at work that day. I needed that text so badly. I was feeling no enjoyment in my day job anymore, on top of feeling doubt and fear about my new path as a health coach. The discouragement had me close to tears–then, bam! I got her text. I quietly thanked the universe because I knew, at that moment, it was reminding me that my path of true fulfillment was just starting. I smiled and thought, I am meant to do this. I believe everyone comes into our lives for a reason, no matter how big or small. She and I were so clearly meant to give each other empowerment, hope, confidence, and love—which heals a lot more than just our skin.

When you are having doubts about something in life, just ask the universe to show you the signs. It will, whether you want it to or not. Soon, with a positive attitude, your situation will change for the better or show you a new direction.

And, that is why healing Ps is all about love!

Be Present Enough to Say YES! to Life

I was sitting in my kitchen eating lunch, trying to be present with my food, when I noticed a huge part of me wanted so badly to bring it back to my desk and eat while I worked. I actually grabbed my bowl and proceeded to get up until I caught myself. I stopped, sat down, put my food back on the table, and thought, “Whoa, what was that? My computer and phone can wait! I’m going to eat my lunch and be with my food now.”

So I took a few bites, tried to focus on the taste and chewing, but it felt really hard to stay put. Everything in me wanted to get work done while I ate. Everything! I even giggled a little because I couldn’t believe I felt that out of control. Why in the world couldn’t I just sit there for ten minutes and enjoy my meal? What was so pressing? The answer is nothing. But my mind didn’t think so. I realized, at that moment, by staying put I was saying “no” to say “yes” to myself—saying “yes” to being more present, as hard as it felt at that moment.

I’ve been thinking about saying yes more to life in ways that I haven’t been, such as being present with my food when I eat. This made me think about an event I attended back in the fall. It was Kris Carr’s new book launch, where she talked all about saying yes to life. It was an amazing event, and I was so excited I finally got to meet her because she is my biggest role model! It was her and two other incredible ladies, Gabrielle Bernstein and Marie Forleo, who changed my life. (If you are unfamiliar with these three inspirational women, I urge you to Google them.)

Kris opened up the night by sharing an “Aha!” moment she had. She was working on the new book and was feeling uninspired and exhausted. While venting to her husband, he said, “Let’s just go do something fun. Let’s get out of here.” Kris did something she wouldn’t normally do when she has a deadline; she went with him for a bike ride in the woods. As she was riding, she stopped to look up, feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the beauty—the colorful trees, birds singing, various sounds of plant and animal life, etc.—and said she found herself sitting in mother nature thinking, “YES!” She felt invigorated at that moment and thought about how beautiful and amazing life is. Right then, she was inspired and felt open to everything.

Kris jokes about saying no all the time and how she likes to be at home all comfy in her pajamas, so the next time she received an invitation to a party, she said yes—all because of her experience in the woods that day. She went and ended up meeting someone who invited her to an event where he was giving a talk. Again, she would normally have said no, but she felt compelled to say yes, and as she walked into this event, she noticed a poster for it that stated the topic of the talk, which was “Saying Yes to Life.”

Something on that bike ride told her to say yes to life, and she heard it loud and clear. She was amazed at how the universe spoke to and guided her toward more happiness and fulfillment. She wanted to share this story to remind us to listen and say yes more.

Do you ever find yourself having one of those moments where you feel so damn inspired and excited and scared (a good scared)? Maybe something wonderful just happened in your job, or you met someone, or maybe you are just going for a run or a bike ride, like Kris, and feel something great inside of you for no reason. Maybe something is just reminding you of how beautiful and perfect you are, and you feel it throughout your entire body. I think we all have these awesome moments. They might feel rare, but they come more often when you are open for them. I try my best to be present so that, when they come, I’m ready, willing, and able to say yes to them.

Synchronicity is what happened to Kris when she went for that ride in the woods, and she was present enough to hear and feel it. My teacher, Joshua Rosenthal, at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, says that once we develop a knack for noticing and welcoming synchronicity, life becomes more interesting and rewarding. We start to meet the right people at the right time to lead us to the next station in life.

I try my best to be present enough to read the signs and feel the direction my life wants to go. This reminds me of birds when they fly together. I have recently gotten into watching and admiring the synchronicity of them as they fly overhead in big waves, and not one is out of alignment. I think it’s the coolest thing! To me, it’s a huge sign that there is something bigger happening here beyond just us.

One morning, I was standing on the train platform with a ton of other commuters, waiting for our train to arrive. I was watching in awe as the birds circled above our heads. I swear they knew I was watching and were saying something to me! Maybe they were saying good morning! So I said (to myself), “Morning, birdies!”

I glanced over at the pack of people huddled where the train doors usually stop. No one was looking at the birds. Not one person. Instead, they were all looking down and appeared quite tired, cranky and unhappy. I looked at all these people all around me, and then back up at the large flock of birds circling so gracefully over our heads, round and round. The birds just didn’t stop, and it was so obvious they were trying to get our attention! I was mesmerized, and couldn’t believe no one else was even looking. They were going to miss them completely in thirty seconds!  I wanted to shout, “Wake up, people!”

Many of us miss the beauty of the everyday. That used to be me. I was so busy, consumed by my job, working countless hours, caring too much what others thought, and covering up my skin, that I missed all the beauty around me. It took a while, but I have finally arrived and am the most awake I’ve ever been. I love this beautiful life! I love that I have this skin disease, because it has changed my world for the better and woke my ass up! I love that it helped teach me to become more present than I’ve ever been my whole life.

When we are present, we are saying YES! to life. Next time you are outside, look for the birds. They will appear. And when they do, I bet you’ll never miss them again.

Back in my kitchen, I wrote this blog in my mind as I ate my lunch. Then I heard my phone beeping. Someone was texting me! I smiled, wanting so badly to see who it was. Instead, I sat there and finished my lunch.

I hope you all also have the most beautiful, synchronistic moments in the New Year!

 

Self-love this Holiday Season

The holidays are stressful. With shopping, attending parties, wrapping up things at work, and preparing for the new year, there’s no end of things on the calendar. This season, I am feeling that stress more than ever, and it’s forcing me to look at myself very deeply. It’s hard to squeeze in any me-time in December, and I always look forward to my break from work because it’s a week where I can make a few dates with myself and catch up on my life without feeling like I have to squeeze it in.

I didn’t realize how much me-time I needed until recently when I had a bit of a meltdown that brought me to tears. The truth is, I haven’t been making myself a priority these past few months, and I’m feeling all sorts of guilt and anger with myself. Filling up my calendar is no one’s fault but my own. I know this. So why do I constantly do it during a time when I need to have space and time to myself more than usual?

I dug deep within myself to understand why this is such a struggle, and why it’s so hard for me to say no. This is what I learned: I love the people in my life so much, and they bring me so much love. I want to see them and spend quality time with all of them—I genuinely do. The issue is that, between a busy work schedule, attending school, and taking care of myself, there isn’t a lot of time left. Life is busy, isn’t it?

So why can’t I say no? Don’t get me wrong, I do say no all the time. But I say yes more times than I want to. Part of me does so because I genuinely want to see my friends and family. The other part is because I have a deep need to please people. I can’t tell you the uncomfortable emotions that come up in me when I admit that, but it’s 100 percent true—and I want to start standing in my truth more. I do a disservice to myself when I don’t.

While being a people pleaser and a bit of a perfectionist might sound like positives, those are two things that will stand in your way to living a truly happy life. One thing I’ve learned through years of therapy is that you cannot be truly happy while needing to be in control. It’s just not possible, even if we convince ourselves otherwise. I’ve worked very hard on my issues over the years, but they still pop up here and there. When they do, I always think, “Really? Are you still here? I thought I got rid of you!”

I am learning that just because we are aware of our issues and work on them doesn’t mean they just disappear. I think they stay with us on some subconscious level to remind us of the lessons we are here to learn. For me, that lesson is about self-care and love. I need to practice a lot of it in this lifetime to live my happiest. That means saying no more often to everyone else and saying yes more often to me.

To that end, I’ve added a few small, loving things I’ve incorporated into my mornings to give myself a little love on a daily basis, which I’ve listed below. If these resonate with you on some level, in any aspect of your life, maybe they can help you too:

  • I meditate for ten minutes:Every morning is different. Sometimes I lie in bed and sometimes I do it on the train on my way to work. I plug in my earbuds and listen to soothing music. I breathe and pay attention to it. Every time a thought pops into my head, which is about every 5-10 seconds, I ask it to leave and return my attention to my breathing and silently repeat “let go” or “release.”
  • I boil water and squeeze fresh lemon into it with a slice of ginger:I sip it while getting ready in the morning. It’s detoxing, energizing, and warming to my soul. It also cleans me out … if you know what I mean.
  • I massage my skin with coconut oil:I massage it with grateful thoughts, knowing its healing properties are giving my skin much-needed love.
  • I talk to my skin and tell it how much I appreciate and love it:It needs love too, you know! After all, it’s our largest organ and has a lot of work to do every day!

I look in the mirror, look into my eyes, and say “I love you” three times: This might sound strange, but we need love every day and what better way to give it to ourselves? As strange as it feels at first, I guarantee it will eventually make you smile.

My Journey with Psoriasis

Hi everyone,

I recently met an amazing woman, Michaela Bentley, at a healing retreat in San Diego.  She is a Meditation and Wellness Coach who founded Live Well, Live Green, a company whose mission is to share their vision of total mind, body and soul wellness from a holistic perspective through nutrition and balanced living. On her website you will find everything from plant-based recipes to articles on fitness to advice from wellness experts. The list goes on & on. It’s a abundance of healthy information! Check it out:)  www.livewelllivegreen.com

Unfortunately, we didn’t meet earlier in the retreat, but on the way home in the super shuttle! Clearly the universe wanted our paths to cross because we bonded our entire way to the airport. I briefly told her what brought me to the retreat right as we were pulling up to the terminal. While getting out of the shuttle she asked me to write an article for her company’s blog and I was deeply touched! Of course I said yes and we hugged goodbye.

One month later she published my article and I would love to share it with you! I hope you enjoy it and that it resonates with you in some small way.  I would love to hear about your journeys too – even if you don’t have a skin disease:)

For almost 20 years I’ve struggled with psoriasis. I developed this embarrassing skin condition in my teens (that ideal age when we all have zero body issues…yeah, right). As I write this, though, I’m happy to say that I don’t consider it a struggle anymore. While my skin isn’t 100 percent clear, I have figured out how to control the symptoms and, more importantly, learned to accept living with it. And I’m honored to share that with you here.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis (or Ps for short) is an autoimmune skin disease, which Dr. Mark Hyman explains well: “Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissue gets caught in the crossfire. Your body is designed to fight off harmful things like infections, toxins, allergens, or a stress response. Sometimes and for reasons not fully known, that immune army directs its hostile attack on your joints, brain, skin, and sometimes your whole body.”

In the case of Ps, where a normal person’s skin sheds about once a month when our cells mature, the skin of Ps sufferers sheds rapidly every few days, not giving the cells a chance to mature and faster than the body can handle. What are left are layers of red, thick, scaly patches on your body that are itchy (and downright unattractive!)

You can imagine how devastating this could be for your self-esteem. It was for me. As a result, for most of my young adult life, rather than effectively deal with it, I tried to hide it as much as possible (and did a pretty good job of it, too). Meanwhile, I visited numerous dermatologists, tried every steroid cream or ointment out there, and came close to getting laser treatments. While some efforts proved to be good Band-Aids, I hadn’t known there was a root cause I’d been unaware of all that time and that none of the dermatologists had ever told me about.

It all started with Max…

In my mid-thirties, my little dog Max became very ill. My vet suggested a diet of healthy (human) food such as organic animal protein, brown rice, sweet potatoes, veggies and fruit, saying that the raw dog food I was buying him (at $80 a bag!) was basically leftover scraps of dubious origin. I was so desperate to help Max, I decided to give it a try.

Not only did he love his new diet, in a few months, he went from hardly walking to outright running! He also lost nine pounds and I was able to take him off all his medications. I didn’t know it at the time, but I also added a few years onto Max’s life! Pretty awesome, huh?

Making the Jump

This made me realize there was something much bigger going on and I started looking for a connection between Ps and what I was eating. Around this time, I came across Healing Psoriasis, a book by Dr. John O.A. Pagano that proposes healing Ps through a mostly alkaline, plant-based diet. Given how desperate I was to live a life without Ps, I decided to commit to it.

The diet was structured around veggies, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and a little organic animal protein (which, at the time, I decided to forego). I ate nothing processed, no sugar except that from fruit, no red meat or dairy, and no coffee or alcohol. (My biggest challenges were cheese and coffee, which I’m sure most people can relate to!)

After 10 months—and for the first time in 20 years—I was clear of psoriasis!

You can imagine how AMAZING this felt. I got to wear t-shirts again! I felt empowered and wanted to tell the world, to help others out there struggling with Ps. Did they know about this? Did anyone know you could heal yourself through nutrition? Why didn’t any of my doctors tell me about this? What took me so long to research this on my own instead of just listening to my doctors? I had so many questions!

This was life changing!

But I hadn’t realized one huge thing: How much love I would need to give to myself to maintain this lifestyle. My new life was just beginning and the path was going to be hard—something I have been figuring out these past three years.

Embarking on a Life-Changing Journey

The first year, it was all about my symptoms and figuring out which inflammatory foods didn’t agree with me. It was also a lot of learning and gaining knowledge about which foods nourish our bodies and which don’t. Through obsessively watching documentaries like Food, Inc., Hungry for Change, and Forks over Knives, to reading every book about juicing and plant-based diets, I was disgusted to learn how much sugar and chemicals I’d consumed in my lifetime.

I now had a new perspective about nutrition and couldn’t look back. I knew too much! I told my family and friends about my new venture and they were all very supportive and excited about my progress.

Then came the second year of my journey. Although I was Ps-free for the most part, after falling in love and having a bad accident requiring surgery, I fell completely off the alkaline wagon and found it hard to get back on. Because I was living Ps-free existence for the moment, a big part of me didn’t care that I was now eating “conveniently” again (i.e., processed foods). Soon enough, though, I noticed a few small spots of Ps reappear on my elbows (my biggest problem area).

I was beyond disappointed to say the least. I now realized (again) that there were consequences if I continued to eat like crap. I felt like all my hard work that first year had been for nothing. Seeing spots was devastating on so many levels. I went from feeling so empowered to feeling completely helpless. My outlook descended into “It’s too hard to live like this,” or “I can’t enjoy my life eating this way,” or “This lifestyle is impossible.”

I am a big believer that we get what we expect, so I got what I expected alright!

Going Forward with Love

Looking back, I am grateful everything happened the way it did because it taught me something huge: I had spent a lifetime looking at my Ps as an obstacle, but obstacles are nothing but opportunities.

I’m now in the third year of this journey. I continue to eat a diet of primarily plant-based foods, though I allow myself the occasional animal protein. I still have some spots that I am working on clearing, but have had a huge epiphany this year that I believe changes everything: You have to give yourself a lot of love to heal anything!

Giving yourself love means everything from waking up early and drinking fresh lemon water, to meditating and exercising. It’s not allowing yourself to care what people think of you when you don’t eat that cupcake at the office birthday party. It’s doing what makes you happy no matter how selfish others may think you are. It’s (my biggest challenge!) learning to say no when you need to. It’s chasing your dreams and not allowing fear to get in your way. It’s surrounding yourself with only loving and supportive people. It’s being conscious enough to replace that negative thought with a positive one in any moment. It’s choosing to be present and live in this moment, right here, right now.

For half of my life, my focus was on those red, scaly patches on my skin and nothing else. Now, I wish I’d taken my focus off of it enough to focus on all the things to be grateful for. This life we’re given is so beautiful, and if you focus on all that’s beautiful, you’ll notice a big shift in everything you experience in your life that needs healing.

I’m happy to say that I work on clearing my skin everyday by eating nutritious foods and giving myself a lot of love. I try my best to live consciously and I don’t allow Ps to get in the way of living joyfully. I am appreciative for the Ps because it has guided me to a new chapter where I get to help people. Because of this, I am currently transitioning out of a long TV and film career into what I believe is my true calling, helping people with skin disorders.

I couldn’t be more excited. Ps has taught me how to love myself and for that I am super grateful!