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In scrolling through my calendar recently, I came across a few dates of note:

  • May 2 is the 4th anniversary of when I officially established my practice although it’s been five years since I started taking clients.
  • June marks the 1st anniversary of the (Sorta) Secret Sisterhood.
  • And on a personal note, July will mark 10 years since we moved to Ann Arbor: how is that even possible?

Thinking back reminded me once again of how important community can be—and how we can build a positive community by being intentional about curating it and celebrating it.

So it’s time to celebrate you, and I’m planning some fun and games for the month of June—and of course, it’s only going to be fun if you join me—in person or online. And of course, there will be presents and (oooh! aaah!) fabulous prizes, and the more you participate, the better your chances to win them.

enter to win

What are the prizes, you may ask?

  • 3rd prize: a copy of Fl!p Your K!tchen and free access to the online Meal Planning Made Simple course that accompanies it
  • 2nd prize: a 1.5-hour health mapping session, during which we talk about YOUR health goals and set you on a path to reaching them
  • 1st prize: free access to the Declutter Your Daytimer online course
  • Grand prize: 3 months of 1:1 health coaching
how to join in the fun on the blog

For the month of June, I’ll be taking a look back at some of the highlights of the (Sorta) Secret Sisterhood’s year and posting some clips from our “Q+A with the Experts”—some very wise women who support women in peri/menopause through a variety of modalities, from conventional to alternative.

Take a listen, get inspired, and enter to win a prize by leaving a comment on the blog that week about your biggest Aha! moment in the clip.

I recognize that it can be difficult to comment publicly on what can still feel like a taboo topic, and if you’d rather submit your comment privately, see how to do so by email below.

by email

If you are on my email list, you’ll be getting notified about each new blog post as usual—hit “reply” with your biggest Aha! moment in the shared clip for the week and enter to win a prize that way.

Not on my list yet? What are you waiting for? Sign up!

Know someone who could benefit from being on my email list? Invite her to join, and she’ll get an entry for signing up!

on social media

If you’re on social media, join the celebration on your platform of choice: I’ll be posting most weekdays on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, so check in!

You’ll get 1 entry to win a prize by liking, 1 for commenting, 2 for sharing the post, or 3 for tagging 3 friends and encouraging them to join the conversation.

in the clubhouse

If you’re already in the clubhouse, get ready for really terrific bonus Q+As!

I’ve lined up some extra special experts, and in June, we’ll be holding one call a week rather than just the one for the month. Stay tuned for details….

If you’re not yet in the (Sorta) Secret Sisterhood, my online membership site for women 40+, hop on in! Your first month is FREE when you use coupon code TRIBE.

If you join during the month of June, you’ll get 3 entries to win a prize AND a beautiful bonus gift (hint: it has to do with what we sometimes do in the Sisterhood and what traditionally represents the first anniversary gift).

on Zoom

Throughout the month, I’ll be asking you to submit your questions via email, on the blog, on social media—about health coaching in general, about peri/menopause, and about my own health journey—and at the end of June, we’re going to flip the camera: I’ll be in the hotseat as someone interviews me for a change!

Each question gets you an entry to win a prize.

And we’ll be drawing the winning names on this call, so make sure to join and claim your prize.

make the connection

I’ve been awed and inspired by the people I’ve met on my journey in the past few years: some of them are now close friends and colleagues, others may never know the impact they had on me.

The lesson? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone in our crazy world, whether you’re building a business or going through some sort of transition—and the antidote for me has been to consciously build a strong community, especially a strong community of wise, powerful women.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating that community in June—and maybe find a way to celebrate your own village!

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Spring is here—which in Michigan means the temperature still dips below 40ºF and yet the upper limits (in the 60s) are starting to show up more often than the dips.

The farmers’ co-op where I buy my raw milk (I know, gasp!) and meats is starting to carry more and more spring greens in place of root veggies, and I’m inspired to step away from writing about primary foods to post a secondary foods recipe this week!

#eatmorekale

Yes, I’m a kale pusher.

And yes, I know it’s been dethroned by cauliflower. I’m still a loyal fan.

No, you don’t have to love kale or even eat it to be my friend or a client.

And no, you don’t have to use kale in this recipe—the variations are endless, exactly the kind of recipe I love because it can be changed to suit your preferences, the season, and what is available to you locally.

baby kale salad ingredients
  • 6 oz of baby kale
  • 1 lb cooked garbanzo beans/chickpeas or 1 15-oz can of them, rinsed and drained
  • 2 T red onion, sliced thinly or diced small
  • 1 lemon, zested and cut in 1/2
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 2 T Parmesan or other hard cheese, shaved or grated (optional)
method
  1. Wash the greens well and spin or pat them dry.
  2. Put the greens, garbanzo beans, and onion into a large bowl.
  3. Squeeze 1/2 of the lemon over the greens, add the olive oil, some salt and pepper and mix gently (preferably with your hands).
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning (more lemon? more oil? more salt and/or pepper?), remembering that if you’re adding cheese, you can add less salt.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with cheese and lemon zest.
variations
  • You can change up the greens, using what you like and what’s available/in season, even a mix of greens—just remember that kale will stand up to the dressing longer than something like spinach or arugula. If you are using mature kale, use your hands to massage the dressing into the leaves to tenderize them.
  • Vary the type of beans you use.
  • Substitute any relative of onions you like—spring onions, scallions, shallots….
  • Try using orange, lime, and/or grapefruit in place of/along with the lemon.
  • Use cubed cheese in place of grated—Havarti? Gouda?
  • Add any other veggies you like—blanched asparagus would be a natural spring companion.
do ahead
  • Made with kale, this salad can be put together up to 24 hours ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. More tender greens will wilt more and should be used closer to the time you serve it.
  • You can prep all the ingredients up to a week ahead of time and keep them separate in the refrigerator for easy assembly. Greens should be washed, spun or patted very dry, and stored in a tightly-covered container or bag with a dry paper towel included. Lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper can be combined in a small container.
make the connection

For more information on seasonal eating and food energetics, check out SOLE food | Seasonal. As you dive into spring vegetables, think (or even journal) about how you feel—some clients have reported a feeling of lightness, even buoyancy, and many have actually become addicted to dark leafy greens and feel “off” if they miss their daily dose.

What’s your favorite spring salad? Leave a note in the comments and let us know!

And if you are curious about food energetics, there’s still time to register for the Art of Food reTreat on May 19 at the beautiful Farm on Jennings with Cara Cummings, Carole Caplan, and me! (The two botanical illustrations in this post are Cara’s work!

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Have you ever changed your name?

My friend Audrey, a business coach for women entrepreneurs, has a podcast called Women Are the Journey, on which she talks to women about the entrepreneurial path (yup, I’m in there!) and also does solo segments called “Chew on this” about her own journey.

If you identify as a woman and an entrepreneur, check out the podcast for a weekly dose of inspiration, excellent business tips, and humor!

In a recent episode, Audrey talked about her decision to return to her maiden name, and it’s sparked some interesting discussion in the (Sorta) Secret Sisterhood, where I posted the episode as a resource. I can’t share those conversations because what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse—and I’d like to open it up to the public here.

to change or not to change?

Women (and—to be fair—now men, too) are no longer always following tradition when it comes to what to do with their last names at the point which they get married or otherwise enter into a committed relationship.

Some change their names to their partner’s, others keep their maiden names.

Some hyphenate, some just put the two names together without a hyphen.

I even know a couple whose original names were very similar, so hyphenating would have sounded odd. Their solution? Remove the first part of each last name and keep the part of their last names that were similar and make that the legal last name of both.

I would expect nothing less creative from this fabulous duo, whose wedding vows were spoken à la Dr. Seuss. (Google it—it’s a thing!)

The possibilities are many—and I have way too much fun encouraging a couple I know to finally get married and hyphenate, the result of which would be a delicious 25-character soup of Polish and German representing practically every letter of the alphabet.

what’s my name story?

Apparently, my parents presciently realized in the 60s that there was a move toward crazy spellings for first names and decided that their kids would have the most standard spellings of very common names.

Well, sorta common—don’t ask my brother what his middle name is.

My father’s middle name was Lawrance, and he hated spelling it for people, which he had to do since the more common spelling is Lawrence. You can bet my brother was named Lawrence.

I’m Elizabeth Anne, which according to family tradition positively thrilled some elderly great aunts who were probably some of the earliest royal watchers.

And I think it ruined my father’s day when I told him that people often clarify: Is that Elizabeth with an s or a z? Anne with or without an e?

Our last name, Baker, really isn’t too much of a problem. Usually.

Elizabeth poses an entirely different problem—it probably has 20-some short forms. I was Lisa growing up (pronounced in the Russian style, where the s was more of a z).

In college, I decided it was time to grow up and go by Elizabeth, which was fine unless people assumed it was okay to shorten it to Liz.

Of all the short forms, this is the one I absolutely will not answer to—I think it has to do with two Lizzes (sp?) I knew in middle and high school who, in retrospect, would probably be called bullies today. Ironically, the two Lizzes I know as a grownup are their polar opposite. (Still, don’t like it when people just assume it’s my name.)

So back to the Russian short form I went, this time spelling it Liza.

And it’s interesting to watch who pronounces it Lie-zah and who says Leeza. It used to fall along generational lines, older people tending toward the first, younger toward the second, but that’s now shifting as Lie-zah seems to be making a comeback.

When I got married, I lucked into another super simple last name: my husband is Chinese, and his last name is Tang.

Speaking of generational things, when I tell people his last name, I have varying luck with “Tang, like the breakfast drink.” Apparently, it’s not a thing anymore, because younger people sometimes look at me blankly.

I made the decision to keep my own last name for several reasons:

  1. I got married two years after my father died, and I wanted to keep his name.
  2. Taking a Chinese last name felt odd—years later we laughed long and hard about the Seinfeld episode (it’s #90!) with Donna Chang, née Changstein.
  3.  I thought that if I hyphenated, it might sound really odd—and indeed I have friends who call us the Taker-Bangs, others who have dubbed us the Baker Tang Gang.

And finally, I felt as though the Chinese have been way, way ahead of the name game for centuries, and ever further ahead when women entered the industrialized workforce: a Chinese woman usually keeps her maiden name in the professional world (I’d be Ms. Baker) and goes by her husband’s name in certain (but not all?) social situations (I’d be Mrs. Tang).

So when my kids were growing up or when I would meet more traditionally-minded older generations, it felt fine—if a bit jarring—to be called Mrs. Tang. It’s like having the best of both worlds without all the paperwork involved!

And what about my children? We joke that if the world does indeed operate on the superpower principle, they should be fine no matter who takes over: Russian first names in honor of my mother’s side, American middle name in honor of my father’s, Chinese last name. And each has an unofficial-in-America Chinese given name as well, a mix of their paternal grandparents’ names and their father’s creativity.

what’s the point?

What does all this have to do with health coaching?

The conversation on Audrey’s podcast and the ensuing discussion in the online clubhouse are fascinating to me because they delved into how our names are taken on, owned, cast off, put aside—largely on an energetic level.

And these conversations made me think about our other names—not just our given and middle and last names, but names we are called and labels we are given.

As parents, how often to we say out loud or even think, “That’s the smart one, the funny one, the difficult one…?”

As kids, how often are we similarly labeled by our peers?

And what do we do with these names?

Very often, particularly when the namer is in a position of authority, we accept them as our truth: I’m the fat one, the athletic one, the ugly one, the smart one….

And this unquestioning acceptance follows us into adulthood (I’m the leader, I’m a follower, I’m a visionary, I’m a details person) and into our health: I’m a cancer patient, I’m a diabetic, I’m a vegetarian, I’m an omnivore, I’m a runner, I’m a yogi….

When I work with coaching clients, the point at which they suddenly see that they are not necessarily their label is usually the turning point in their journey.

When they have done enough of the inner work of shifting their mindset around who they (think they) are and who they want to be, that’s when the magic begins.

  • If they are on a weight loss journey—even if they’ve lost only a few pounds and have a long way to go—they stop thinking of themselves as “a fat person.”
  • If they are riddled with anxiety and can learn some tools to manage it, they stop thinking of themselves as anxious.
  • If they recognize that “being hormonal” is, indeed, part of perimenopause and that it can be a positive label, they can often mitigate even the most troublesome symptoms.
make the connection

Our names and labels are intricately enmeshed with our identities—and sometimes taking a closer look at how we’ve embraced or set them aside can hold the key to effecting change in our lives, particularly in our health.

And seeing and naming our future self—sometimes in opposition to those (including ourselves) who named us in the past—is often the first step to reclaiming our health.

Leave me a comment and tell me your name story: how has it served you on your health journey—or not?

Want to join the conversation in the (Sorta) Secret Sisterhood? Our first anniversary is coming up in June, and while I’ll be celebrating out loud on the blog, on social media, and in person at live events, the real fun will be happening in the clubhouse. Use coupon code TRIBE to get your first month free and have time to poke around a bit before committing!

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One of the principles of Integrative Nutrition® is the idea of bioindividuality: what is healthy for one person may be toxic to another, whether we’re talking about secondary foods (what we put in our mouths) or primary (the myriad other facets of our lives that nourish us—or don’t).

Those on the fringes of the secondary food spectrum (extreme vegans and extreme carnivores) will argue vociferously that this is incorrect, that their way is, in fact (because it’s “evidence-based”) the only one true way. And yes, it is rather reminiscent of politics and religion, isn’t it?

but what about science?

Science may be some people’s deity—and yet even Einstein was more of an agnostic than an atheist, and apparently even he suffered bouts of impostor syndrome.

My sense is that true enlightenment (around any topic) comes from recognizing that truth is always subjective—it’s our truth, just as reality is always subjective, the prime example of that being that we rarely perceive ourselves the way others see us.

Once we find our truth, we can revel in it; once we recognize that it’s subjective, we can allow others to find their own truth—which may be very different from our own.

But that’s all too heavy for my real topic today—let’s talk about food instead.

p(ee) for proof

Ever heard someone say they can’t stand the taste of cilantro because it’s reminiscent of soap? Others love it and say, “What are you talking about?!?”

On a really basic level, that’s our bioindividuality talking: our olfactory receptors vary by individual, even within the same family—my mother strongly dislikes cilantro, I love it.

Want further proof of bioindividuality? Look no further than the culinary harbinger of spring: asparagus!

To the delight of my children, my stepfather refers to it as Vitamin P(ee).

Asparagus can indeed make your urine smell unusual—and interestingly, it might be “double proof” of bioindividuality: the jury is still out, but apparently our bodies may not just process asparagusic acid differently; we may also perceive its smell differently.

Whether asparagus makes our urine smell funny (or whether we just don’t smell it), most of us look forward to the first green stalks to appear in our garden, at the farmers’ market, or at the grocery store.

In Michigan, asparagus appeared a few weeks ago in the grocery stores. It’s still being imported from warmer regions, and it’s still a happy sign that Spring is on her way despite the fact that snow is in the forecast for the weekend.

cooking asparagus

My favorite way to cook asparagus is to use a combination of simmering/steaming and sautéing: it’s quick, and if you want to use some intentional leftovers in other dishes during the week, go ahead and pre-prep a big batch of it—asparagus goes well in omelets, salads, pasta dishes, pilafs and risottos….

When you buy asparagus, look for slender stalks with tightly closed “heads” that have been standing with their cut ends in water or ice. The cut ends should still look fairly moist; if they’re dry and look old, move on—not worth it.

And just because I’m all about teaching technique rather than recipes, I’m asking you to have a little comfort with ambiguity today—no specific measurements included here. Just take a deep breath and plunge in—you’ve got this.

(You can use this cooking technique for any sturdy green vegetable—asparagus, broccoli, green beans, etc.)

Clean the asparagus by snapping off the stem ends where they naturally break rather than cutting them off with a knife. This will ensure you get only the tender part of the vegetable.

Is a lot breaking off? The asparagus is either overgrown or was improperly stored—you’ll lose a lot (and therefore pay a lot more per pound) and you’ll also be spared chewing through a bitter, woody stem. And next time, you’ll be clearer on what to look for!

Put just enough water into a skillet or sauté pan to cover the bottom. Lay the stalks in the skillet, spreading them out as much as possible.

Turn the burner onto high and cover the pan. Once it begins to boil, turn the heat down to medium and gently shake the pan.

The vegetable will cook through relatively quickly, so peek at it at 1-minute intervals after the first few minutes. You want it to look bright green and be a little flexible.

You’ll know if you overcook it at this stage because it will turn a sort of drab olive color—all green veggies will if you cook them too long, especially covered, because they release an acid into the cooking water,and when that water becomes steam, rises, condenses on the lid, and falls back on the veggie, it causes that change in color.

Once the asparagus is bright green and cooked but still a bit crunchy (take one out and try it if you’re unsure!), you can either finish cooking it or rinse it in cold water and save it for later use.

If you’re going to finish it right away, pour out any of the remaining water and put the pan back on the burner on low heat. Add a splash of olive oil or a pat of butter, a minced clove (or more) of garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté briefly, turning with tongs, just until the garlic smells fragrant—don’t let it brown or it will be bitter.

Serve it hot or at room temperature—yummmm.

make the connection

Want to learn more about bioindividuality and primary and secondary foods? Join me tomorrow for the Ann Arbor Wellness Coalition‘s first annual Wellness Fair! It’s a chance to check out some of the wonderful health and wellness practitioners in our city in an open house format. We’ll also have speakers talking about their area of expertise—my workshop, titled Kale + Kryptonite, is at 10:30!

Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on bioindividuality … or asparagus!

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In the months leading up to and following the 2016 election, I stopped reading and listening to the news and I purged my social media channels.

That doesn’t mean I deleted those who don’t share my views: I simply unfollowed those who overposted divisive content about any topic—not just politics—to drive the gap wider rather than to find ways to a middle ground.

I don’t think I missed out on any major headlines, and I certainly didn’t miss the endless dissection of the gory details of each news story that goes on until a new major event occurs.

Over the past 3 years, I gradually returned to the news in a very selective way—until yesterday, when you couldn’t find anything on any media platform other than the dissection of the Mueller report.

Yup, going back to that voluntary news blackout.

It’s part of my personal healthcare policy: if knowing something does not serve me—if it does not make me a better, healthier person—I choose not to take it in or I find a way to release it immediately.

I’m sure a lot of people are appalled by my policy: Isn’t it irresponsible to be uninformed? And in a world where technology makes it possible, isn’t it important to know about the news as it’s happening?

I guess the answer depends on whether you are looking for facts on which to base your own views or for validation of your views from so-called experts.

who is the expert?

I’ve recently been struck by what’s being called the gender data gap.

The topic came up in a podcast about the masculine and feminine approach to doing chores, where the discussion was about whether the data on productivity loss at work due to task switching was based on a study of only/mostly men in the workplace.

It came up again in Women suffer needless pain because almost everything is designed for men, an article about the sometimes lethal consequences of the “gender pain gap,” which exists because our conventional medical model is based on “Reference Man:” “He is considered the standard human and he is a man. Usually a white man in his 30s, around 70 kg [155 pounds]. He’s the person we’ve used for decades in all sorts of research….”

So much juicy stuff to argue about here if you are on a crusade to overthrow the patriarchy or the Western medical model.

And that’s not why I’m interested in it.

There are plenty of times when I am perfectly willing to listen to the experts—and more often than not, I don’t need to: I have an expert inside myself.

When my daughter was a toddler, I took her to the doctor because she was feverish, and when she got a fever, it was always a high one.

“What was her temperature when you last took it?”

“I don’t know, I just know she has a fever.”

“If you didn’t take it, how do you know?”

“Because her palms and the soles of her feet are blazing hot, and that’s what happens when she has a fever.”

I could have said what was on the tip of my tongue: that she had woken up 3 times the night before, and in my experience as her mother, this was a sure sign she was going to come down with a fever.

And “Because I’m her mother” didn’t seem to be a great way to respond.

In case you’re curious—she did have a very high fever over 103ºF, confirmed by the nurse.

Looking back on this episode as my daughter is about to turn 20 (WHATTT?), I realize that “because I’m her mother, and I AM the expert on my child until she grows up” could really have been a valid response if delivered with love—and it’s taken awhile for me to recognize and trust that expert.

healthcare agency

By questioning our expertise about our own health, we have relinquished our agency to others, and nowhere do I see it more clearly than when I’m talking to women going through perimenopause.

The most common sentences I hear from them start with “Am I crazy to think that…” or end with “…and I was told it’s all in my head.”

I go back to the story about my daughter often when talking to clients about their healthcare “agency.” Not to convince them to turn to (or away from) a particular type of healthcare, but to encourage them to reclaim their expertise over their own bodies and to keep seeking an answer (and a practitioner) to satisfy them and alleviate their symptoms in a way that aligns with their own values and beliefs.

“Breaking up” with a healthcare practitioner or style of medicine can be very difficult—heck, some have a hard time breaking up with a hairstylist!

And yet we deserve to have our health concerns heard and our needs met—not as a woman who lives in Reference Man’s world but as an individual—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unique.

a place at the table

So why did I start this by writing about the news?

Because the field of health and well-being can be as divided as the political arena—for many, it’s an either/or proposition: you either follow the conventional, Western medical model or you go over to the hippie woo-woo alternative side.

And by the way, how did it happen that “conventional” refers to the much newer model of medicine and farming while the much more traditional models are considered “alternative?” To me, it’s just as perplexing as why we charge more for food without a lot of added ingredients!

But I digress.

The reason I started by referencing politics is that in an increasingly divided world, there seems to be little room for those who believe that we all deserve a place at the table and that our diversity is our strength, and that trend seems to be leaking into all sorts of other areas of our lives.

Or is it that schisms in those other areas are driving the politics of division?

I feel that there is a place at the table for the entire, diverse spectrum of healthcare modalities, and that we can—if we are so privileged—take advantage of more than one at a time in our search for optimal health.

Rather than an either/or, it is a both/and—or even an and/and/and.

make the connection

Ultimately, you are the expert on your body/mind/spirit—perhaps not (yet) on how to heal yourself, but at least as to how you feel and what forms of treating dis-ease are aligned with your values.

If you’ve contemplated learning more about other healthcare modalities and practitioners—either to replace or complement your current one/s, I hope you’ll join me at the Ann Arbor Wellness Coalition‘s first annual Wellness Fair on April 27th. It’s a FREE open-house style event with a few scheduled presentations—I’m doing an interactive Kale + Kryptonite workshop at 10:30am!

What I love about the Coalition is that it’s a group of health and wellness practitioners who are finding strength in diversity and our ability to work together through complementary and referral services to provide the best, most personalized healthcare for those who are seeking to reclaim their agency to make informed decisions about their options.

As the Coalition’s tagline reads, “Well-being begins with you!”

Drop a comment below and let me know about a time when you listened to the expert inside you—or when in hindsight you wish you had!

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Helllp! I seem to have fallen into a Netflix trap, one that features crime dramas from the UK: first there was Shetland, then there was Hinterland, then Broadchurch, and now River, featuring the incomparable Stellan Skarsgård, who somehow conveys an incredibly wide range of emotion—all without moving a muscle of his face.

One of the lines in River that popped out at me is an Orson Welles quote “We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”

How’s that for a downer?

external communities

Loneliness is the “L” in the HALT acronym some of us adopt to bring more intention to our relationship with food, specifically when we are about to put food in our mouths. The practice is to stop (halt!) before eating and ask, “Am I truly Hungry, or am I Angry, Lonley, or Tired?” and, of course, to only eat if we are truly hungry.

Loneliness is a topic that comes up frequently in my sessions with health coaching clients: in all the bustle and connectivity options around us, many feel not just alone but lonely—whether we’re alone or in a crowd.

Building a truly supportive community is not easy even for the most extroverted individuals who regularly engage with people in person at work and socially; if we add introversion, solopreneurship, and/or telecommuting/working from home to the mix, it can seem downright impossible.

There are stages of life in which we find ourselves losing a community we thought we’d keep forever: moving from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, and as relevant from high school to college and beyond and
through the stages of our careers, marriage, parenthood, empty nesting, and retirement.

What I’ve noticed in my own life, which has included living in seven US states and one foreign country for an extended amount of time, is that certain members of our communities can remain in our orbit while others spin away into deep space.

The ones who remain are our “perennials”—with a little love, attention, and intention on our part, they make life beautiful for the long term.

They’re the “keepers”—the ones you can talk to once a year (or less!) yet every conversation feels comfortable and naturally picks up where you left off as if it was just yesterday.

So I have to disagree with Welles on this—or at least say that sometimes illusions are healthy.

internal communities

There’s been a lot written recently about the gut-brain axis, gut health, and all those bacteria that live in us, and that’s not where I’m going with the idea of internal communities at all! I’m referring to those voices inside our heads. (Yes, I’m dating myself, and you’re welcome for the earworm.)

Let’s go back to John River, this time quoting Jean Paul Sartre: “If you are lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”

[Spoiler alert: John River is rarely truly alone, and the show is as much about how he navigates the company he keeps in the world—and in his mind—as it is about catching a murderer.]

I’ve written a bit about our inner voices and our inner board of directors, and it occurs to me that in order to not be alone, we cultivate our external communities; in order to not be lonely, we can curate our internal communities in the same way: intentionally, over time, and with an eye toward balancing out the members!

With our natural negativity bias, we tend to hear the negative voices much more loudly than the positive ones, and bumping up those positive ones is something I work on with my clients.

Sometimes that’s as simple as bringing awareness to our inner chatter: would you speak to someone you love the way you just spoke to yourself?

Other times it take a bit more work—and it’s always fun to hear people learning to do what my daughter calls “High five, self!”

Ultimately, the result is less negativity in general, much better company inside your head, and a sharp decrease in loneliness.

make the connection

Full disclosure: I haven’t finished River yet, and I can’t wait to see what the title character does with his communities—external and internal. Knowing Stellan Skarsgård, though, I’ll bet it’s going to be done well (this is me, fangirling)!

I’m thinking a lot about community and how to build a positive one—keep an eye out for some community-building activities coming at you in June! And in the meantime, check out how you can connect with me in person on my Events page!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on loneliness, being alone, and curating/cultivating community—drop a comment below, and let’s discuss!

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If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve probably come across my Kale + Kryptonite exercise, which is a tool I use with my clients to help them assess the nutritional status of their primary foods.

I’ve mentioned before that the question of their relationship with time often gives them pause—another one that brings them up short is creativity.

Maybe I should rephrase that: the idea that busy working wives and mothers in the sandwich generation have time for creativity usually makes them laugh out loud. Or start weeping with frustration.

Quite honestly, making time to be creative is usually last on our list of priorities: just getting everyone at home fed, watered, tucked in, woken up, and delivered where they need to be requires 26 hours.

Wait, what? There’s only 24 in a day?

What would it take to make space for creativity and deep nourishment?

The response is normally “a day away from everyone and everything”—in other words, a retreat.

retreat? no, thanks.

It was a well-known fact in my office job years that the words “staff retreat” would make me 1) squirm, 2) break out in hives, 3) groan out loud, 4) all of the above.

The notion that you can seclude (unwilling) staff members of an organization for a lengthy amount of time (no matter how lovely the setting) and accomplish much of anything important just seemed disingenuous.

And for a “doer” like me, it was downright crazy-making: This-is-ridiculous-I-have-way-too-much-work-to-do-to-sit-here-and-play-games!

At one organization, we renamed the annual staff retreat a “staff advance” just so I would shut up, uncross my arms, and stop scowling.

It’s something to consider if you’re an employer or manager with recalcitrant employees (like me). In a workplace, the retreat (ack!) is a means to an end that is external to the activity itself—which feels highly inauthentic.

Over the past few years, my stance on retreats has softened somewhat—perhaps because as a health coach, the idea of retreating from the noisy world around us is about nourishing our bodies, minds, and spirits for their own sakes rather than increasing efficiency or growing a bottom line.

In a true retreat, the nourishment is the end and any positive outcomes (renewed energy, clarity of mind, improved ability to focus, etc.) are added benefits.

pattern interrupt

Spring has sprung in Michigan, and in some ways it feels more like the beginning of a new year than the somewhat arbitrary January 1.

If you’re feeling the urge to make some changes in your life, it could be time to find a way to interrupt your pattern of overscheduling, overwork, and overwhelm.

I firmly believe in bioindividuality—the idea that one person’s food is another one’s poison—and what nourishes you on the primary food level might be very different from what someone else finds satisfying, even necessary for survival.

This spring, I urge you to commit to one activity that nurtures you on a soul level: it might be a class at a local art center, it might be a yoga, meditation, and/or breath practice, it might be cooking from scratch more regularly (stop laughing!), it might be—dare I suggest it?—a retreat.

Creativity comes in many forms, and one might just be a creative use of your time.

make the connection

I’m excited to be partnering with Cara Cummings of Cara’s Garden and Carole Caplan of The Farm on Jennings to offer a daylong retreat we’re calling The Art of Food.

If you live in the Ann Arbor area (or you want to come in for the weekend and stay at one of the many AirBnBs available here?), join us for a relaxing day on the farm to nourish your health and creativity.

We will connect to our food on a deeper level by walking the farm, learning about how to nourish yourself in a way that works for you, and communicating about food through art.

details
  • Sunday, May 19, 2019
  • 9:30am—3:30pm
  • The Farm on Jennings, 6900 N. Joy Rd., Ann Arbor
agenda
  • 9:30     Arrive, tea and coffee available
  • 9:45     Gathering
  • 10:00   Get in touch with the nourishment that’s right for you, right now (Liza)
  • 11:30   Yoga (Carole)
  • 12:00   Lunch, farm tour
  • 1:00     Botanical art, presentation and creation (Cara)
  • 3:15     Closing
your investment
  • $250 includes all materials, art supplies, and refreshment (Bring a yoga mat if you have one!)
  • $200 early bird pricing until May 1! Use coupon code “sprout” at checkout.

Register

post scriptum

Mother’s Day is coming up—maybe Mom would like the gift of a retreat rather than one more thing she has to dust?

Leave a comment and let me know what you are committing to doing as a retreat in your own life!

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Once again, our family’s Spring Breaks didn’t align this year—and we did manage to have some fun anyway!

After last year’s epic fishing adventure, my son and I decided to leave the dog home with Dad—they had their own adventure, by all accounts—and flew to Arizona to visit dear friends/former neighbors there. We absolutely wallowed in good company and delicious food (homemade pasta! European cream cakes! Argentinian grilled meats!)

We also drove to Joshua Tree National Park to see my BFF from our LA days (she’s 100% healthy and doing amazing things, now!) and check out the hiking there, which also allowed us to stay at our first domestic Airbnb—I’d only stayed in a number of them in the UK last summer. (Two thumbs way up for Joshua Tree’s Copper Cabin!)

This week’s learnings: life’s all about human connections that endure, the desert does bloom, no pool is ever too cold, and one can always find water—and aquariums—even in a desert.

No long post this week—just a peek into our vacation!

Click to view slideshow.
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Spring has sprung, the grass is riz…. My father used to recite the poem every year around this time.

In Michigan, it’s still blustery, and the the grass is not yet “riz”—and yet, the light is different, the sun (when we see it!) feels warmer, and Kermit and I see robins everywhere on our walks.

Mother Nature wields the Spring wind like a broom around here—spring cleaning is definitely underway!

And if we pay attention to our bodies, we may notice a tendency toward lighter, greener foods and a desire to detox and shed some pounds from our own hibernation as the seasonal energy shifts from the more inward-facing yin of the cold months to the outward-facing yang of the warmer ones.

Spring offers us another chance for a new beginning: if you lingered indoors and struggled with your health goals on your own all winter, help has arrived!

I’m involved in a number of health-promoting local events this season and wanted to give you a quick update on where we can connect in person.

Don’t live in the A2 area? The full-day Art of Food event in May would be a great focal point for a weekend in town—with or without friends and family—and there are plenty of AirBnBs in the area!

Follow the links below for more information on each event.

upcoming events reclaim your flame workshop thursday, april 4, 6pm

Turn your hot flashes into power surges and reclaim your inner fire to light you up with joy instead of making you feel like a hot mess!

Thanks to a generous donor, on Thursday, April 4, I’ll be presenting a FREE Reclaim Your Flame workshop for women 40+ hosted by the Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan. Please let me know you’re coming!

wellness fair saturday, april 27, 10am

Well-being begins with you—and navigating all the healthcare options out there can feel overwhelming.

Drop in at Joy Ann Arbor for the FREE first annual Wellness Fair put on my the Ann Arbor Wellness Coalition. Meet healthcare practitioners who represent practices all along the spectrum from conventional to alternative—all dedicated to helping you achieving optimal health and wellness. Discover real health-care in a disease-care world.

art of food retreat sunday, may 19, 9:30am

Join botanical illustrator Cara Cummings and me for a daylong retreat at The Farm on Jennings. Begin the day with a 30-minute yoga session with certified yoga instructor and farm owner Carole Caplan, tour the farm, create a piece of botanical art, share a mindful meal, and learn how to connect with your food and nourish yourself on a deeper level.

Never tried yoga? Not an artist? Never fear—this retreat is for all abilities and skill levels! (Will I finally realize I can draw?!?)

$250 includes all materials, art supplies, and food. Register

(Bring your own yoga mat if you have one!)

make the connection

Let me know in the comments below how you’d like to connect this Spring!

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The American Socialist Party organized the first Women’s Day in 1909, but it was in Soviet Russian that March 8 became a national holiday after women gained suffrage there in 1917. After that, it was celebrated mostly in communist countries and by the socialist movement until it was adopted by the feminist movement in 1967. It wasn’t until 1975 that the United Nations celebrated March 8 as International Women’s Day.

My father was an early adopter: having been among the few Cold War-era American graduate students who studied in the USSR, he brought the holiday home with him and never missed it—there was always a card and often flowers for my mother on March 8.

Completely as an aside, I think after years of being associated with the Evil Empire, my father had a good chuckle over Bernie Sanders’s rise in politics in his adopted home state of Vermont—he was pretty proud to live in the state where a democratic socialist became the mayor of its largest city. He lived long enough to see Sanders reach the US House of Representatives, but not long enough to see him become a US Senator and presidential candidate.

So International Women’s Day often brings with it memories of my father as much as it reminds me to celebrate women, recognize how far we’ve come, and recommit to empowering ourselves.

lean into language

Women’s empowerment is a huge focus in my individual coaching practice, and I’m constantly looking for resources to add to my clients’ “toolboxes.”

Empowerment is an inside job that starts with shifting our mindset: believe you’re a victim and you’ll find evidence to support that and create a narrative that perpetuates it; believe you’ve got power and you’ll find evidence to support that and take steps toward greater power.

Our thoughts become real when we put them into words, and the effect of these thoughts expressed—silently or out loud—can be as evident as physical impacts on and in our bodies, so I’m always encouraging clients to mind their language.

Swapping “I have to” out for “I get to”, “I should” for “I choose to,” “and” for “but” seem to be silly exercises at first—and there’s evidence that our language can, in time and with practice, rewire our brains.

Simply bringing attention to these choices teaches us that we do have choices, and that can restore a sense of agency in our lives—not necessarily control, but at least agency.

please don’t apologize

I was happy to encounter this piece about apologizing on the TED website and because it came across my radar so close to International Women’s Day, I was especially intrigued by the comments about how we as women tend to apologize much more than men.

Apologies have become our habitual way of communicating
~Maja Jovanovic

Best of all, I appreciated that the article provides suggestions for how to be considerate rather than apologetic:

  • Step into your power (I have an idea)—instead of minimizing yourself (Sorry to disagree).
  • Give a reason (I was held up in traffic, and so I’m late)—not an apology (Sorry for being late).
  • Express gratitude (Thank you for listening)—rather than apologizing (Sorry for venting).
make the connection

I like Jovanovic’s idea of observing when and how often others apologize although she takes it a step further:

I have been interrupting these apologies for three years now. I’ll do it everywhere. I’ll do it in the parking lot, I’ll do it to total strangers at the grocery store, in line somewhere. One hundred percent of the time when I interrupt another woman and I say, “Why did you just say sorry for that?” she’ll say to me, “I don’t know.”

I’m not so into the idea of this type of intervention—and (not but) I prefer to recognize the observation is perhaps a first step toward catching the tendency in ourselves and then taking steps to reduce it.

Drop me a comment and let me know, when have you observed women apologizing unnecessarily and in a disempowering fashion? How often do you give your power away through unnecessary apologies?

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