Journaling Along the Journey of Life

Journaling Along the Journey of Life

journaling

After 35 years of keeping a journal myself, I can attest to the fact that the process of journaling helps enrich the journey of life. I am a big fan of writing regularly for a host of reasons and benefits.

Here are just a few:

  1. Journaling helps track thoughts and behavior when you are working to create new and healthier habits.
  2. Run-away thoughts and anxiety can be dumped onto the pages of a journal.
  3. Journaling provides accountability when you are striving toward goals in life.
  4. Writing in a journal allows for processing ideas, dreams, reflections and worries.
  5. Journaling can provide a spark for creativity and a place to envision projects and new realities.
  6. Journaling can be a spiritual experience, opening the heart, mind and put you in touch with your inner world and intuitive senses.

I have discovered over the years of working with clients that sometimes it feels difficult to get started or know what to write.

I was happy to see that one of my colleagues has developed a one-year online e-course that provides 52 journaling prompts geared toward helping people create a more fulfilling life for themselves.

Nicole Liloia, LCSW is a licensed social worker, therapist and a life coach who specializes in helping people create lives they love and learn to reduced stress. Her new course called The Live More E-Course and it provides 4 wonderful video tutorials plus weekly journaling prompts for an entire year - all focused on helping you to create a much more fulfilling life.

When journaling becomes a regular habit, it's amazing what shows up on the pages. Journaling can become like a trusted friend, a faithful companion, a mirror that helps you see yourself more clearly, a trainer and an accountability partner to keep you on track.

You can use write using good ole pen-n-paper or you can register for a free account at www.penzu.com. If  privacy is a concern, Penzu has a yearly fee to keep your journal safely encrypted.

Don't worry about your writing skills. It's not necessary to be a strong writer to keep a journal. In fact, I find it best to let go of all concerns about grammar and proper writing style. Journaling is a place for you to freely spill your feelings, thoughts, ideas, dreams, anxieties in whatever format feels right for you in the moment sans judgment and editorial.

Go check out Nicole's e-course and commit to a year of journaling for a clearer mind, a lighter heart and a more focused outlook.

Serving the Needs of Women Around the World

Serving the Needs of Women Around the World

Indian Woman

Be of service. Join me in helping women around the world.

In Yoga there is an important practice called seva.

Seva is a Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service” or work performed without any thought of reward or repayment.

In ancient India seva was believed to help one's spiritual growth and at the same time contribute to the improvement of a community.

An important part of our spiritual development is opening our hearts and extending love and help to those in need. And part of growing a heart-based business is having a commitment to giving back and helping for the good of the world.

Here at Wonders Wellness, I believe deeply in observing seva and I invite you to join me.african woman

Together, we can help women around the world who have limiting circumstances and are under-privleged. Please join me in helping! You can donate your time, money, specific items or your expertise to helping women around the world who need our help.

There are many women's charities but here are a few of my favorites that I like to support and hope you will too!

Just this year alone, Wonders Wellness has donated 25% of profits to these charities and there is a plan to continue donating a sizeable portion of all proceeds from the sales that come from this website.

women's global empowerment

The mission of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund is to support women through economic, social and political programs; creating opportunities while addressing inequality, strengthening families and communities. The strategy is to provide women with the framework necessary to create viable opportunities for themselves and their families.  Through grassroots strategies, marginalized women are given the tools necessary to alleviate poverty thus facilitating sustainable development and empowerment. Our goal is to work for social justice, increased human security and women’s empowerment. LEARN MORE as to how YOU can help here!

alliance for international women's rights

 

The Alliance's mission is to support women’s rights efforts in developing countries (with an initial focus on the Central Asia region) by developing a network of professionals in developed countries who are willing to use their skills and experience to help promote women’s rights.  The Alliance believes in the rights and values outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action. These human rights instruments assert that "women's rights are human rights" and recognize the essential dignity and inherent rights of every person, male or female. LEARN MORE and see how YOU can be of service!

 

becky's fundBecky Lee Women's Support Fund (Becky's Fund) was founded in November 2006 by Becky Lee, an advocate and attorney for battered women's rights. After seeing the lack of support for small domestic violence organizations, she decided to create an organization to help both battered women and other organizations that fight domestic violence continue the work they were doing on behalf of these battered women. Becky’s Fund strives to address domestic violence in all sectors of our community, establish prevention-based educational programs to counter domestic violence, and collaborate with others in the community to find ways to change the behavior and thinking behind issues that cause and perpetuate domestic violence. CLICK HERE to learn more about how you can help!

 

virginia gildersleeve fundThe Virginia Gildersleeve Internationa Fund is an international women’s fund based in the United States and governed by an international Board of Directors providing grants globally to fund locally generated projects that advance the rights of women and girls; projects that help improve the lives of women and girls by advancing women’s rights and social justice. VGIF was founded in 1969 and has funded over 515 projects in 93 countries, focusing on issues ranging from education and health to economic empowerment and human rights. LOOK HERE to learn MORE about how you may be of service!

 

women's vpicesWomen’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. WVE envisions a world where women lead to create a healthy environment without toxic chemicals in our workplaces, homes, and communities. LEARN MORE about how you can join with other women to help our planet earth.
This is just a short list. There are opportunities all around us to extend ourselves, to share what we know and what we have without any expectation of anything in return.
There is a time to build business and earn profits. There is a time for self-care. And there is a time to reach out beyond the comforts of our lives to reach those who truly need our help.

Aligning and Allowing: Living a Full & Authentic Life Over 40

Aligning and Allowing: Living a Full & Authentic Life Over 40

LIVE color

Since I am a woman who has spent most of my life practicing gentle yoga and meditation, I often borrow from these principles and experience in discussing life to my clients and students.

Even if you aren't into yoga, lean in and take some guidance from this analogy.

Once we have crossed over into midlife, we go one of two directions:

  1. We age rapidly. We see our health decline. We lose our luster for life. We often fall into a state of malaise or depression. We resent and resist what is and we get nowhere with that.   OR....
  2. We choose to do it differently. We allow what is but we begin to work with where we are making different choices, changing our habits, shifting and living authentically. We seek balance. When we do this we feel ALIVE, excited, peaceful, hopeful and fulfilled.

In the practice of yoga, we apply principles to achieve balance between contraction and expansion of both the mind and heart. In fact, the entire path and practice of yoga is about finding balancing and center.

The physical practice of yoga helps us to find the center  and balance in the body. If you are able to find physical balance, it is natural for your mind to follow. If your mind is scattered, your body will also be off balance.

Whether or not you practice yoga, these same principles apply for life.  And living a full and authentic life over 40 requires a practice of seeking center and balance.

In yoga we talk a lot about alignment. Aligning the body and the mind throughout the practice in order to have balance.

I think in life it is essential we constantly check our alignment and practice allowing what is so that we can work with the challenges and the joys that life presents rather than resisting. I recently wrote another article about dancing with life's challenges that speaks to this notion of working with your challenges rather than resisting and fighting.

Here are some steps you can take to begin creating a practice of aligning with your most authentic self, allowing what is, working with your present situation and creating a FULL life over the age of 40:

  1. Set appointments for your self-care. I'm not talking about routine medical or salon appointments (although that is important too!). I'm talking about the care of your spirit and your body in daily life. You know how to take care of others. You've been doing it all your life. Now, it's time to really dedicate time to care for yourself. Set appointments to go for a walk every day! To meditate... to shop and prepare and eat 3 meals/day that are rich in healthy whole foods.
  2. Get your beauty rest. Make time to do guided relaxation (I've got a great free one right here on this website!) Create a healthy sleep routine (grab my free guide Sleep Tight here) With appropriate rest, you will feel more energized and more joyful in your daily life.
  3. Embrace aromatherapy. I've been in love with essential oils for nearly 20 years. I joke about the fact that if there is a housefire and I can only grab one thing it will be my case of essential oils. In mid-life we need to be looking to natural ways to feel good, look our best and live a more fulfilling life - Get away from synthetics and toxic fragrances and check out essential oils. You'll be amazed how they will change the way you feel and look at daily life.
  4. Chug H2O. We hear it all the time but I can't emphasize enough how important this is.... Staying hydrated is so important for every aspect of our health especially as we grow older.
  5. Learn to say no. Sometimes living an authentic and full life over 40 means turning down invitations, politely declining time-consuming projects and making room for open space on your calendar. Open space is time that can be enjoyed taking care of your own self (see #1)

In my 12 Weeks to Total Transformation program and in my coaching programs I address how important it is that we lovingly and gently move into a plan for aligning and allowing.  In all my programs I very purposefully provide a step by step, week by week guide to getting everything in your life lined up. Your eating, your sleeping, your breathing, your movement, your thinking, your feeling... It's all there.

If 12 weeks feels like too much all at once, check out this little bitty one-new-habit-each-week program!  You can create a healthier way of living that will help you be aligned with your authentic self by incorporating just one new habit each week. It's easy really...

Allow what is and embrace who you are, where you are but then choose to align. Take simple, gentle action to redesign your life over 40.

 

Herbs to Aid Digestion for Women Over 40

Herbs to Aid Digestion for Women Over 40

 

herbal tea

Normal digestive functioning can get thrown off pretty easily. When women reach the mid-life point and hormones start becoming more erratic, our digestive health can take a hit.

Fortunately there are a number of herbs to aid digestion for women over 40. And I have a very affordable resource for you. I order all of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs because they are all organic, a high integrity company and the best prices I've found. I love Mountain Rose Herbs so much I have partnered with them as an affiliate to make their products available to my clients and customers.

So let me tell you about how herbs can help with your digestion!herbs

According to Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP, the science of using botanical remedies to treat health conditions is finding its way back into mainstream medicine. Nature’s healing properties, found in plants, herbs, roots, and flowers have been an essential part of restoring health for centuries, long before we could reach for pills from grocery store shelves.

Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD based in Atlanta recommends people consult with their doctor or registered dietitian to rule out intestinal disease or conditions and incorporate a healthy diet of nutrition-rich foods rather than relying on herbs.

I agree, that women should always consult with their health practitioner before taking herbs, depending on your health and any medications you may be taking.

According to herbalists there are three important herbal properties that can be helpful when our digestive system is off balance include bitters, aromatics, and demulcents. Let's take a closer look…

Bitters

bitters sodaA lot of people turn up their nose to the taste of bitter.... but the bitter taste is actually a very important piece of the flavor spectrum for overall health and well-being.

Bitter herbs can assist to stimulate digestion by helping gastric juices flow and encourage peristalsis. Just a drop of this flavor on the tongue is effective in activating the production of beneficial digestive secretions including saliva, gastric acid, and bile.

This will often help to promote normal elimination, provide relief for gassy cramping and to support a healthy appetite for nutritious foods after an illness or while traveling. It's a good idea to keep a bottle of these bitters on-hand to take by the drop or to make a super easy bitter soda. Here's a recipe:

Dandy Bitter Soda

Fill 1/3 of a 4oz jar with the herb mix. Pour a high grade unflavored vodka over the herbs until the jar is filled. Allow to extract for 2 weeks and strain. Use several droppers in a pint of seltzer water with a squeeze of fresh grapefruit juice, or take a few drops straight on the tongue.

 

Aromatics

Aromatic herbs have been used in cuisines around the world to add bursts of flavor to a meal, and also to help stimulate healthy digestion. These plants have volatile essential oils that present strong aromas like fennelpeppermintdillcoriander, and ginger to name a few. Many aromatic herbs are warming to the digestive tract and carminative, meaning they help expel gas. This action can ease an uncomfortable feeling of fullness especially after a meal by making flatulence more productive and less stagnant.

After-Dinner Digestif Lozengesherbal-digestif-loz

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Use a glass dropper to add one dropperful of liquid at a time to the bowl. Keep adding one dropper of liquid until the mixture holds together in a clump, similar to the consistency of cookie dough. Be careful not to add too much liquid. Form into small lozenges about the size of a pencil eraser. They will be strong! Coat the outsides with additional licorice root powder if desired. Allow to dry on a screen or plate for a few days. Store in a glass jar or tin.

Demulcents

Some herbs are mucilaginous and produce a slippery texture that coats, soothes, and protects mucus membranes. These plants also help to ease dry conditions. The slippery action triggers a reflex that promotes natural moistening secretions within the body systems such as respiratory, digestive, renal, and reproductive. Best extracted as an infusion in water rather than in alcohol tincture form, they can be helpful for hot and dried out conditions.

herbsSoothing Marshmallow Rose Tea

Fill 1/3 of a pint jar with herb mix (you can also bundle the herbs in cheesecloth) and cover completely with cool water. Refrigerate overnight and strain. Add honey to taste if you’d like a little more sweetness. Drink and enjoy!

 

*DISCLAIMER: For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Anti-aging Smoothie Recipes for Women Over 40

Anti-aging Smoothie Recipes for Women Over 40

woman in grass

Are you ready for some anti-aging smoothie recipes?

Grab your shopping list!

Click here to download antiagingsmoothieshoppinglist.pdf

and get your Vitamix out on the kitchen counter and let's start whipping up some special smoothies every day to introduce your skin to the BEST anti-aging regimen around.

Is all natural skin care is important? Absolutely.

But what you put into your body, many nutritional experts say is MORE important in terms of seeing ongoing anti-aging results.

In order to help your skin look and feel youthful, there are some specific nutrients you want to consume on a daily basis and smoothies are a great way to incorporate a powerful combination of these. I'm going to provide for you 3 anti-aging recipes for women over 40.

But first, let's take a look at the nutrition specifics we are aiming for in order to create these delicious anti-aging concoctions.

Vitamin C

This antioxidant vitamin encourages new cell growth and some experts say that a diet high enough in vitamin C can help minimize wrinkles. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb other good vitamins so this is an important one!

Vitamin E

This vitamin helps the skin retain moisture, promotes healing and fights off free-radicals (those cancer-causing menaces). It's important to ensure you have enough Vitamin E in your diet and you will find spinach, avocados, sunflower seeds and almonds give you a good dose of E.

Beta Carotene

This little anti-aging buddy is a carotenoid antioxidant, protecting your skin cells from  sun damage and helps improve your eyesight - which we can all use as we hit mid-life!

Fiber

Getting plenty of fiber daily is going to keep your intestines moving, removing toxins from the body and slowing the absorption of the natural sugars that occur in the fruits we are using in the smoothies.

Healthy Fat

Once you get over the age of 40 you probably begin to notice your skin is aging.  As the hormones in our bodies begin to shift and change, your skin begins to lose its natural moisture and the elasticity of youth begins to give out. This is why your skin begins showing lines and wrinkles. The healthy fat of omega 3  helps hydrate your skin by plumping up your skin cells. Omega 3 also has anti-inflammatory benefits. You can read more about healthy fats HERE.

Here are your recipes for 3 anti-aging smoothies below. I recommend you drink one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Be sure to drink them on an empty stomach as the fruits will digest rapidly and you want the full benefit of all these high powered nutrients.

green smoothie 3Hail to the Kale Smoothie

This smoothie is a great way to get your greens and beta carotenes in! Sure to give your whole body a boost first thing in the morning or in the afternoon.

Ingredients:

1 cup packed kale leaves (remove the stems) Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Fiber
 1  medium carrot Beta Carotene
 1/2 green apple (remove stem and seeds) Fiber, Vitamin C
 1/4 lemon (remove rind and seeds) Vitamin C
 1/2 banana Fiber, Potassium
 1/2 cup coconut water hydrating, contains electrolytes and healthy fat
1/2 cup almond milk Vitamin E, Fiber, Healthy Fat

 

Directions: Combine ingredients in your Vitamix. Blend until smooth, serve and enjoy!

berry smoothie 2

Berry Berry Fairy God-Mother Smoothie

This is such an anti-aging power punch it's like having a magic potion from your fairy god-mother!

Ingredients:1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries Vitamin C, Fiber, and LOTS of extra powerful anti-aging anti-oxidants!

1/2 cup strawberries Vitamin C, Fiber, and LOTS of extra powerful anti-aging anti-oxidants!
1/2 cup of raspberries Vitamin C, Fiber, and LOTS of extra powerful anti-aging anti-oxidants!
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk Hydrating healthy fat, fiber
1 teaspoon chia seeds Omega 3, Fiber
1 tablespoon of fresh mint leaves (vitamin C)

 

Directions: Combine ingredients in your Vitamix. Blend until smooth, serve and enjoy!

  • green smootie

 Spring Green Smoothie

Ingredients:
 1 cup of tightly packed spinach Vitamin E, Fiber, Vitamin C
 1/2 green apple Fiber, Vitamin C
 1/2 banana Potassium, Fiber
 2 Tablespoons  ripe avocado flesh Vitamin E and Healthy Fat
 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds Vitamin E, Healthy Fat
 2 Tablespoons lemon juice Vitamin C
 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk Vitamin E, Healthy Fat

Directions:

Combine ingredients in your Vitamix. Blend until smooth, serve and enjoy!

The Female Brain: Understanding hormones, body, and mind over 40 

The Female Brain: Understanding hormones, body, and mind over 40 

woman brain

Today I am excited to have Debbie Hampton as my guest on the Wonders Wellness Be Well Blog. After a serious brain injury, Debbie learned all about the brain and engineered her own rehabilitation. Here, Debbie writes about the female brain and what happens once we cross the line over 40.

Throughout most of history, science has treated women like they're men in smaller bodies - with obvious reproductive differences.

But, that's just not true. (Something any woman could have told you all along.) And, you may be surprised to find that the major differences are in our brains.

Every brain starts out as female. At eight weeks, the fetus either gets surge of testosterone or estrogen.  The testosterone bath creates more cells in the sex and aggression centers resulting in a male. Females receive large amounts of estrogen which spurs brain growth in areas for observation, communication, gut feelings, and caring. From this point on, female hormones impact every stage of her life shaping who she is and her reality.

According to The Female Brain, by Laura Brisendine M.D., after girlhood the female brain, much like the weather, changes daily, monthly, and over her life influencing a woman's thoughts, desires, emotions, values, and behavior.

The Maturing Girl Brain

After girlhood, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone increase to bring on menstruation.  Once the monthly cycle begins, the female brain changes a little bit every day, with some parts of the brain differing as much as 25% every month.

From a biological standpoint during puberty, a girl’s primary focus is to become sexually desirable and attractive with her attention on relationships, choosing a life path, and finding a mate compatible to raise a family.

The Mommy Brain

There really is such a thing as "mommy brain."

During pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing, the female brain experiences huge increases in hormones with the goal being to ensure the survival of the species. During the child rearing years, the mother gets continual rewards of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, from physical touch with her child and partner.  This helps keep her focused on tending to and caring for her family and avoiding conflict to keep the family together.

The Peri-menopausal Brain

Starting at around age 43, girls go through a second adolescence of sorts called peri-menopause which can make them as moody as a teenager.

The female brain becomes less sensitive to estrogen and the ovaries make erratic amounts of it before stopping production altogether.  This begins a cascade of symptoms ranging from hot flashes and irritability to erratic sleep, fatigue, joint pain, decreased sex drive, anxiety, and worry.

Since estrogen also affects the brain's levels of neurotransmitters controlling mood and memory, many peri-menopausal women suffer from depression and memory lapses.

But, it's not all bad news.

Because brain circuits fueled by hormones become less active, the mommy brain begins to unplug, and a woman's interests begin to expand and shift to herself: staying healthy, improving well-being, and embracing new challenges.  The average age of menopause is 51.

The Post-Menopausal Brain

Once estrogen levels drop and the kids leave home, oxytocin also plummets decreasing the nesting and nursing impulses, and the mature female brain gets a second wind. What WAS important: connection, communication, approval, children, making sure the family stayed together is no longer the biological priority.

Her brain circuits are free to entertain new thoughts, ambitions, and ideas. At this time, many women feel terribly sad, lost, and disoriented because the changing chemicals in their brains literally shift their realities.

A lot of women leave their marriages about now.  More than 65 percent of divorces after the age of 50 are initiated by women which Dr. Brizendine attributes to something she calls “post-menopausal zest.”

Women want their turn. They want to find and pursue their passions and step out in the world in a more independent way. Their top concern isn't taking care of everyone else anymore. (A cruel joke of nature is that men start to show increased interest in relationships as they age.)

Whether the mature female sows her newly wild oats by traveling, picking up hobbies, going back to school, or playing the field depends on the person, of course.

But for many women in mid-life, the twilight years are characterized by a renewed energy for life and appetite for adventure. The female brain actually becomes more stable now with lower, steadier hormones which translates into a calmer, less emotional brain not as reactive to stress.

A Word About The Mature Female Brain And Alzheimer's/Dementia

I would encourage post-menopausal women to follow their brain's thirst for novelty and challenge and to keep active because dementia hits the mature female brain the hardest.

According to a 2014 report from the Alzheimer's Association, two-thirds of Americans with the disease are women. A UK study found that women over the age of 60 were twice as likely to get dementia as breast cancer, and dementia surpassed heart disease and cancer to become the most common cause of death in women.

The reasons are not exactly clear, but possible explanations are that women live longer and have different brain structure, physiology, genetics, and sex specific hormones.  The best prevention for the disease is a brain healthy diet and lifestyle.

My Mature Female Brain

As a 51 year-old woman, I can whole-heartedly attest to living every one of the female brain stages to the letter. Upon graduating from college, I chose to get married at the ripe-old age of 21.

After being a stay-at-home Mom to two sons and married for 18 years, I left the marriage and found myself completely lost, depressed, without any idea who I was. At the age of 43, I tried to commit suicide by downing a bunch of pills resulting in a serious brain injury and losing custody of my sons who moved out of state with their father.  (Read the story here.)

Because the brain injury affected my hormones, I went through menopause early at 47 and maybe even a little bit because the kids weren't around anymore.

Now that I am years into my post-menopausal brain, I take comfort in knowing that my lack of maternal focus and disinterest in nesting is partly due to hormones. I've never let my home get as messy as it does now, and I find it really odd that it's OK with me. I have no interest in cooking, fashion, or decorating, and hardly ever wear makeup, but I do feel totally psyched about my new endeavors: writing and my yoga studio.

My mature brain and I are enjoying ourselves and looking forward to the years ahead without being jerked around by hormones!

 

debbiehamptonDebbie Hampton recovered from depression, a suicide attempt, and resulting brain injury to become an inspirational writer. On her blog, The Best Brain Possible she tells about lifestyle, behavior and thought modifications, alternative therapies, and mental health practices she used to rebuild her brain and life to find joy and thrive and tells you how to do the same.

 

 

 

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