Ignite Your Fire

The Season of Hope

Hope says, ‘I make a difference.’
— Jon Vroman

2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge 6

Congratulations!  The calendar tells us that winter has ended and spring has begun. Though it is simply a change in season, it somehow feels like a personal accomplishment to make it through the winter and put it behind us.  Our days ahead will offer us more light and warmth. The light and warmth of spring can also lighten and brighten your energy level and mood.  As we transition to a new season, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the last 10 weeks.  

Contemplate these few questions:

  • Has your relationship with your body or environment changed at all?  
  • How has this winter compared to winters of the past?  
  • Have you created any new habits you’d like to continue?

It is said that spring is the season of hope. After a pregnancy loss or when struggling to conceive, hope can feel like a dangerous concept. Yet, it is exactly hope that keeps us moving forward and trying again. It creeps in despite the grief, the frustration, and the disappointment. Hope pushes us to get up again. Hope is the universe reminding us our story is not yet over.

Over the last several weeks, I have helped you in your resolve to tune into yourself and take time to care for yourself amidst life’s daily tasks; to help you recharge and nurture yourself throughout the winter.  I encourage you to continue to do so because a well body and soul are your foundation for accomplishing everything you want and deserve out of life.  

Now as we look ahead, with hope, I have one final challenge for you: Can you bring a little hope to someone else’s day?  

The Dalai Lama said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”  There is a science to the relationship between performing acts of kindness and an increase in serotonin in our bodies.  I have wonderful news - being generous is healthy!

Over the next couple of weeks, think about how you can unexpectedly infuse a little goodness into someone’s day and go for it!  It could be a stranger, coworker, friend, family member or your partner.  Consider how you can make someone feel appreciated, worthy, and noticed.  Here are some small ideas to get your wheels turning:

  • Smile.
  • Offer a compliment.
  • Give someone a small, unexpected gift, like their favorite snack or a single flower.
  • Leave a nice note to brighten someone’s day.
  • Call or text someone you haven’t connected with in a long time.
  • Express gratitude for the little things others do that make your life a bit easier.
  • Take someone for a coffee date and make a point to listen with curiosity more than you speak.

We simply do not know what weight others may be carrying and what a difference a kind gesture can make. You can be the one to make that difference, and it sure will feel good!

  

Do you have an idea for how to infuse a little hope into someone else’s day?  How do you feel after making someone else smile?  Share it in the comments below!

Take A Breath Of Fresh Air

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
— Lao Tzu

2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge 5

March has arrived! While winter is not quite done with us, mother nature has teased us with a few warmer and sunny day.  I don't know about you but as the daylight lingers a little longer each day and temperatures creep up, I'm feeling energized and excited about what spring could bring.  Guess what that means for our survival challenge: It means it's about time to get your blood flowing and noticing just how good fresh air in your lungs feels.  It’s time to get outside and move your body!

This week’s challenge is to enjoy an outdoor activity - which, depending on the weather, could be the most challenging challenge yet! Stay with me, though.  It is true that winter naturally makes us want to spend more time indoors and that our energy levels are lower but we are still creatures of nature, after all. Being in nature and moving our bodies is both healthy and therapeutic, and that does not change no matter what the season.

If this idea makes you want to crawl under the covers, I don’t blame you, but you will feel so refreshed by fresh air in your lungs and getting your blood flowing that it will be worth it!

The first step is to gear up for the weather.  Wearing appropriate clothing is half the battle so bundle up if it’s chilly.  Wear a hat, dry socks, proper footwear and keep your chest warm.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the outdoors is to simply go for an enjoyable walk - such as around your neighborhood, an outdoor mall, or around the city. Make it fun by adding a destination with a treat for yourself, such as grabbing a steamed almond milk at a local cafe, or asking a friend or loved one to join you. Have a dog? Grab your furry friend and visit a new park! 

With any luck, this activity will get your blood flowing and your energy up.  Consider what your daily physical activity level is like when you are feeling your best.  Are you honoring what your body has told you it needs? Could it be time to explore a new way to get some movement in, or perhaps return to a tried-and-true fitness routine?

Now that you've gotten a taste of fresh air, I'll bet you're craving more. How can you let more fresh air in this time of year?  

  • Crack open those car and home windows for a moment and let the air cleanse your space.  
  • Bring nature inside with you by decorating with fresh flowers, greens, or wood accents.  
  • If you commute by foot, take a moment to notice and appreciate how good it feels to take some mindful deep breaths along your way.

Soon enough, the temperatures will be warmer, the sun will shine a little brighter, and you’ll get much more of it!

What outdoor activity do you enjoy this time of year? How will you get yourself outside and moving over the next couple of weeks?  Please share in the comments section below!

Do Something You Truly Love

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
— Unknown

2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge 4

Great news friends - we’re one month away from the first day of spring, and even closer to springing those clocks ahead! More daylight is on its way. Hopefully some of the self care you’ve been implementing is making this winter more nurturing and enjoyable than usual. Given that February and March can feel a little… long (ahem, dark and cold and mundane)… it’s a perfect time to heat things up!

This week I ask you - what sets you on fire?  

Have you ever wondered where the “Ignite Your Fire” in Feel.Fire.Flow. comes from?  I got the inspiration from a quote that found its way to me at a time when I needed it most: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”  

What does that mean exactly? Well, when was the last time you focused and made a conscious effort to do more things that bring you joy? I’m not talking about splurging on that cupcake because it tastes so good. I’m talking about making time for specifically chosen activities because they make you feel alive and at home at the same time. The kind of activities that make you feel connected to your most authentic self and energize you on a higher level.

There are several beneficial outcomes that make it so important, or even critical, to implement doing things that truly bring joy into your daily life:

  • Builds confidence
  • Reminds you who you are
  • Refreshes your values
  • Nurtures a more positive outlook
  • Reduces inflammation-building cortisol
  • Induces stress balancing “rest & digest” response
  • Brings awareness to the present moment
  • Tells the universe what you want more of in your life
  • Gives you energy to apply to all areas of life - including work, relationships, and self-love
  • Helps you gain insight on what your passion and purpose is

All of that simply from doing the things you like to do!

I’d like to challenge you to think about and identify something that sets you on fire and to find a way to incorporate it into your life over the next two weeks.  See how you feel and if you can incorporate more of it, and other things that make you feel that way, going forward.

Think big or small.  Perhaps it’s taking a class, such as dance or cooking, going to a concert or the theater, or even booking a weekend getaway or vacation. These are simply suggestions - only you know deep down what sets you on fire because they are things that are natural and authentic to you.  

Now go have fun - I dare you!

Share what sets you on fire and how you’re going to treat yourself to an experience below!

Indulge In Warming Foods

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
— Hippocrates

2018 Winter Survival Self Care Challenge 3

Are you feeling cold, sluggish, and slow?  I have great news - it’s not you, it’s winter. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is a yin season, meaning it is cool, dark, and damp.  It is also a naturally slower time meant for turning inward and storing energy.  Our bodies are programmed to have less energy to exert so as to conserve it for the warmer, drier season and to want to spend more time at home and indoors.

You can let yourself off the hook for feeling the way you do.  That of course doesn’t necessarily mean life slows down to accommodate this natural rhythm, unfortunately. So, how can we energize ourselves naturally?  By eating in harmony with the yin season. Foods that naturally grow during this season, that are slow cooked and warming help get our blood circulating and counteract the cold, wet and sluggish feelings. Keeping our body in balance and our blood circulating this way is important for our immune system, hormone balance, and fertility.  

This week I challenge you to try some new warming foods and notice how you feel before and after consuming them.  Do they seem to help?  Give you energy?  Lift your mood?

Here are some warming foods, flavors and recipes to try over the next couple of weeks:

EAT

  • Winter squashes
  • Root vegetables (carrots, yams, beets, kohlrabi, parsnips, onion, ginger)
  • Winter greens (chard, kale, collards)
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Citrus fruit
  • Animal proteins
  • Whole slow grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet, brown rice)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom

HOW

  • Soups, stews and broths
  • Roasted vegetables and meats
  • Quinoa and rice bowls
  • Tea, hot water with lemon, steamed almond milk

RECIPES

BREAKFAST

Sweet Potato Apple Breakfast Bake from 40 Aprons

Breakfast Egg Muffins that are perfect for on the go! 

WINTER DETOX ORANGE GINGER TURMERIC SMOOTHIE from The Endless Meal

HEALTHY PEAR GINGER CHIA SMOOTHIE from Yay! For Food

LUNCHES AND DINNERS

Slow Cooker Quinoa Vegetable Soup from Eating Bird Food

One Pan Sweet Potato Broccoli Chicken Bake from The Real Food Dieticians

Slow-Cooker Beef Stew from Lexis Clean Kitchen

Paleo Meatloaf from The Lean Green Bean

LIQUID GOODNESS

Look for this smooth Ginger Tea at your local grocery store.

Warm Spiced Almond Milk from Simple Green Smoothies

 

Three down, three to go!!  We are halfway through the Winter Survival Wellness Challenge - how have you been doing with implementing more self care into your lifestyle? Have you noticed any changes in your mood or mindset? Any challenges? 

Share in the comments below!

Level Up Your Cozy

You are the only person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with. Love yourself and make yourself proud.

2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge 2

Welcome back to the Winter Survival Self Care Challenge Series! I hope you’ve found a way to make a gratitude practice work for you and are feeling the benefits of it already.

This week, I challenge you to Level Up Your Cozy.  What does that mean? It’s time to focus on your environment and indulge in all things soft and cozy. How fun is that?!  

My guess is you’re spending a lot more time indoors these days so it’s important to make your surroundings feel warm, comfortable, and nurturing. There’s a reason that whole hygge movement was a big deal - because it feels good.

WRAP YOURSELF IN COZY.  You know that feeling when you put on your favorite sweater or curl up in a cozy blanket? We want more of THAT.  Treat yourself to soft, warm blankets, sweaters, slippers, scarves, gloves, anything that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling while you’re wearing it. Need something new? All of these items are on sale at various stores at this time - splurge on a small treat for yourself, because you deserve it.

MAKE SPACE.  Is there clutter around your desk at work, or piling up at home? Designate some time to tidying up. Make it a point to create visual organization in the spaces you spend the most time in and let go of items that are no longer serving you. These items can fall into three categories: 1) storage, 2) donate, or 3) trash.  By clearing out clutter and feeling organized, you can create tangible space in your life for new things to enter, while making your surroundings more visually calming.

USE TEXTURES.  Incorporate wool, chunky knits, and faux fur. Not just in your wardrobe but also in your home with blankets, pillows, seasonal rugs and more.  

CREATE YOUR AMBIANCE.  Use candles and lamps to soften the lighting you’re in at work and at home and use aromatherapy to stimulate your senses. Scents like cinnamon, sage, pine, sandlewood or frankincense are all warming and comforting for winter. Also remember to let natural sunlight in as much as possible during the day.

BATHROOM "SPA" TIME.  If you have a bathtub, nothing says cozy and pampering like a warm, aromatherapy bath. If not, there are plenty of ways to designate shower time as wellness time. For either option, light the room with candles (aromatherapy scented for the shower) and turn on some enjoyable music. Practice mindfulness by bringing your attention to how the water feels on your skin, the scents in the room, the noises you hear. Add some relaxing essential oils and a scoop of coconut oil to your bathwater and use the time to meditate. Guided meditation apps like Insight Timer are great for this! Afterwards, moisturize purposefully by massaging lotion or oil into your skin and acknowledging each body part for all that it does for you with gratitude as you do.

Can you Up Level Your Cozy this week?  Share one thing you can treat yourself to in the comments below!

Start A Gratitude Practice

What you pay attention to grows. Pay attention to your loveliness, your magnificent self. Begin now.
— Geneen Roth

2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge 1

Happy New Year!  It’s that time again...the feeling of a fresh start, new resolutions, and renewed hope.  It’s also the dead of winter, hooray!  Winter has its charms - a crisp, clean, sunny morning that sparkles with new snow after a storm, Starbucks’ Gingerbread (almond milk) lattes, skiing and sledding, and if you live with me - the Super Bowl, to name a few.  

Winter also comes with its challenges.  It can have a way of trying to spotlight sadness, insecurities and inconveniences.  But if we embrace this season and appreciate it for what it is meant to be, it can definitely work for us.

Winter is a natural time to go inward, slow down the pace, and take comfort. If we think of it as time for reflection and recharging, as Mother Nature intended, then we can use it to our advantage.

I hope you’ll accept my challenge to implement new self care habits as the New Year kicks off and we look ahead to the next few months of winter.  Every two weeks I’ll be issuing a new “challenge” to help keep your spirits and energy up, connect with and tune into yourself, and feel good.  You’ll have plenty of time over the course of two weeks to give each challenge a try and make it work for you!  

Start A Gratitude Practice

What can a gratitude practice do for you?  Daily reflection of what IS working for you in your life is a great tool for building emotional and mental strength.  So often we hear “focus on the positive” and “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  These are fantastic affirmations and small reminders - but how do you actually DO them, especially during a time when everything seems difficult and unfair, such as after a miscarriage, loss, or when battling infertility?

A gratitude practice is exactly how.  All it takes is writing down three things you are grateful for every day.  Try to find something new and different each day.  

Two suggestions for implementing this daily are:  

  1. You can start your day off with this little exercise by incorporating it into a morning routine.  Simply keep a notebook by your bedside and write down three things you’re grateful for that you’re looking forward to or that happened the day before.

  2. Before going to bed, write down three things you are grateful that happened during your day.

This seems so simple that it’s easy to question its impact but when done regularly, you will begin to feel more positive.  At the same time, what you give your attention to is what grows, so by giving positive energy to the things that you do want in your life, you will begin to attract more of those things to yourself.  Who doesn’t want that!?

Let’s start now!  Share something you are grateful for today in the comments below, and see if you can keep the momentum going as part of your daily routine over the next couple of weeks!  

Feel.Fire.Flow. Announcement: The 2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge

Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.
— Yoko Ono

Your journey of motherhood begins the day you decide you want to become pregnant. You realize a genuine level of selflessness and attention that goes into trying to become pregnant.  As the road unfolds, that energy never softens.

You understand that, suddenly, your body serves an entirely new purpose and it’s easy to become disconnected from it - especially when it does not work the way you want it to.  First, there is the amount mental energy and space that is consumed by tracking your periods, paying attention to what you’re eating and drinking, how you’re exercising, wondering... worrying. There is also time dedicated to appointments with your doctors and “appointments” with your partner.  

The moment you get that positive pregnancy test result, much more of your physical, mental, and emotional energy automatically goes to the new life growing inside you - half of which is out of your control due to your natural hormone changes. Losing that life feels incredibly unnatural and unfair, and is painful in a way that only those who have experienced it can comprehend.

In a natural way, all of this attention, energy and emotion is for that new life you’re aching to create and bring into this world, for your family and for your future. At the same time, you're forgetting the most important element in this process, which is to nurture the spirit that is you.  It’s understandable that while juggling trying to have a baby, your career, your relationships and the rest of everyday life, you may just forget how important YOU are and how important it is to relish in what makes you feel good inside and out. To remember your essence.

As the new year gets closer and hope for a fresh start is renewed, I would like to challenge you to consider a different kind of resolution.  You may be feeling like you have nothing left in your reserve tank and that what is there is only enough to go to all things- except yourself.  Resolve to nurture yourself.  I would like to help you in your resolve. Together, lets make this season one that includes self care and ways to motivate you to nurture yourself and enjoy life a bit more, in spite of winter’s cold temperatures and life’s most difficult tests.

And with that, I’m excited to announce the 2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge!  Starting January 8, I’ll be issuing a new “challenge” every two weeks to help keep your spirits and energy up, connect with and tune in to yourself, and feel good.  You’ll have plenty of time over the course of two weeks to give each challenge a try and make it work for you! 

Want to partake in the 2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge?  Subscribe today to receive each challenge directly in your inbox!  

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Holiday Survival: The Perfect Answer to “When Are You Going To Have Kids?”

It’s Thanksgiving Week!  I hope you are looking forward to a little break from work, great food, good drinks and loving company.  But what if you’re not… exactly?  It is possible to look forward to spending time with family and friends and dread it at the same time.  If you’ve recently experienced a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, ended a very much wanted pregnancy, or are having difficulty conceiving, the holidays can sometimes have a way of sparking loneliness, sadness and longing, despite our best efforts.

It can be painful to spend time among families with babies or to hear all about an old friend or family member’s pregnancy or birth.  And I know just how much you’re looking forward to getting the influx of holiday cards with pregnancy announcements or all those new, tiny humans’ faces looking back at you from the inside of a stocking or gift box under the Christmas tree.

Among the worst of triggers is the inevitable question from a well-meaning family member or old friend, “when are you going to have kids?” or “when are you guys going to have number two!?”  The thing is, those who have been out of the fertility game for years or whose journey was different than yours often do not realize how painful these simple questions can be - or how complex the truth really is.

So how do you get through the holidays without drinking a bottle of wine and crying yourself to sleep at night?  There are some tools to get you through:

1. PREPARE. People will ask. The cards will come.  It’s inevitable and uncontrollable.  What you can control is knowing these things are coming your way and deciding ahead of time how you’re going to deal with them, mentally and emotionally.

2. BE COMPASSIONATE WITH YOURSELF. Is it painful?  Yes.  Do you wish things were different?  Wholeheartedly. And the best you can do is talk to and treat yourself as you would anyone else who was experiencing what you are.  Do not beat yourself up.  For every negative thought you have, make sure to think another one of love and acceptance towards yourself. 

3. TRY NOT TO COMPARE. Comparing your journey to someone else’s is the kiss of death. Notice when you find yourself comparing and distract your thoughts with again, self compassion.  Remind yourself that you deserve happiness just as much as anyone else, and while your path may be different, you will get there.

 Photo by  sydney zentz  on  Unsplash

As the questions about your intent to have a baby come, you essentially have three options as to how to answer.  Options being the keyword here.  You are in control of and can choose how you want to react, what you want to share, and who you want to share with.  You can either be honest, lie, or throw a bit of a curve ball.  Let’s explore these options:

1. BE HONEST. This can take on whatever form you are comfortable with but you do have the option to share your truth, to whatever extent you want.  You can explain that you’ve actually recently experienced a loss or that you are in fact trying IVF.  Often times when this information is shared, you learn more about the person that you’re sharing with than you would expect.  Fertility issues are so incredibly common that it only takes one person to open up to get others to share what they’ve been through.  You could be that person.  Also, it can feel good to be open about such a big part of your life and not feel like you have to “fake it.”

2. LIE.  Yes, here is permission to lie - but there are stipulations.  You don’t have to share anything at all.  You can easily dodge the conversation with the wave of a hand, say “we’re not ready yet,” and ask a question of the person you’re speaking with that will turn the topic on to them.  If you choose to keep your journey personal, that is your right and completely understandable.  But - do it because it is your right and it is personal, and not because you feel embarrassed, are disappointed in yourself or where you’re at, or are worried others will be uncomfortable.  Here is where the self compassion comes in again.  You are doing the very best you can every day.  You are stronger than you know.  This is your story to own.  How others feel about it is their business.  What matters is doing and saying what will help you.

3. “WHEN (Life/God/the Universe) FEELS WE ARE READY.”  (Use whatever higher power speaks to you.)  

It’s out there, right?  Hear me out.  It’s deep enough to end the conversation with those who can’t understand it, and yet for those who can understand it, it says everything.  In one sentence, it sums up that you do want a baby.  In fact, if you had complete control you’d have one in your arms right now, but it isn’t nearly that simple.

I’ve actually tried this one a few times and I can attest that it does either shut down the conversation, or elicit a knowing and compassionate nod.  In that case, either not much else needs to be said or it leads to support and inspiration from some of the people you’d least expect.  

In the end, your journey is an incredibly personal one and you must do what you are most comfortable with.  However you prepare and decide to handle these tricky interactions - make sure that, above all else, it feels right for you and that you make your choice and go forward with confidence.   

What’s the most awkward question you’ve received and how did you handle it?  

Share your story below!