Mothering Ourselves

Mother’s Day is this weekend. It’s the day that generates the largest number of phone calls, the highest Sunday brunch attendance at restaurants, the greatest number of floral arrangements delivered, and a profusion of hugs and kisses from our children of all ages. As a mom, I’m deeply appreciative of the recognition on my “special day,” and everyday.

But mothering goes beyond biology. There are many among us who might never give physical birth to children, yet are the best mothers we can encounter.

Mothering also goes beyond the acts of care, guidance, and discipline we give children. We need mothering, too–not just from our biological moms, but from ourselves as well.

Inside each one of us is that little girl who needs patience, forgiveness, trust, support, encouragement, protection, and love. These are all actions we take to benefit many in our midst. But these same actions are at the core of the self-care we all need.

Mothering ourselves, our offspring, and our community from a natural, more enlightened space. That is what it means to be WHOLE.

Question of the week: Are you mothering yourself?

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Filed under Inspirations, Self-Care, Wellness, Women's Support

Sleep: A Healing Tonic

One of the best tonics to promote healing is sleep. Yet far too often the bedroom functions as a multipurpose area where you watch TV, use the computer, pay bills, sort and fold laundry, and do numerous other sleep-interrupting tasks. Your bedroom is not merely a place where a piece of furniture called a bed resides. It is the restorative chamber where you recharge, quiet frayed nerves, regain composure, and center yourself once again.

Consider relocating the TV into the living room. Find more suitable spaces for other items not related to sleep. An assortment of covered baskets in all sizes, styles, and colors can become storage containers for many task materials. This yields a three-fold benefit: getting back a truly functional bedroom, organizing unsightly (but necessary) projects, and adding a personal flair to other rooms.

Here are some hints to help restful sleep come more easily*:

  • Keep regular hours. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Develop a sleep ritual. If you do the same things before you go to bed each night, it will train your body to get ready for sleep.
  • Take some time to relax and unwind before you go to sleep. You may try stretching, relaxation exercises, a hot shower or bath, meditation, or a cup of herbal tea to help you relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol or other stimulants in the evening.
  • If you are taking a diuretic, try taking it in the morning. Diuretics increase urination, and this may keep you up at night.

Question of the week: What have you found that helps you sleep?

*Tips on getting a good night’s sleep provided by Targeted Health Solutions, MediResource Inc.

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Filed under Lifestyle, Self-Care, Wellness, Women's health

What Have You Done For YOU Lately?

You’re a busy woman, playing so many roles in life. A mother, partner, worker, confidant, problem-solver, listener, breadwinner, master-planner, nurturer, chauffeur, tutor…the list could fill the page! Every waking moment you are revving in high gear taking care of others, and you spend many a sleepless night continuing to stress over all that remains to be done. Yes there are many rewards, but giving your all to others is exhausting!

You cannot keep pushing and neglecting yourself, without it taking a toll on you—mentally physically, and spiritually. This fast-track pace is not sustainable—at least not in a healthy fashion.

What about what YOU need? What have you done for YOU lately?

The demands of your busy life won’t go away. But how you approach them, and how you take care of yourself in the process can change. It’s about self-care. Investing the time and resources necessary to maintain balance and support your health in the process.

When we speak of self-care, it is more than going to the spa, the weekly manicure and pedicure, or the occasional “retail therapy” to lift your spirits. Self-care is a way of thinking and prioritizing that takes care of your most valuable resource—YOU! Self-care is a lifestyle; routine choices and behaviors that provide your mind, body, and spirit with the sustenance needed to function best.

Many women think of self-care as selfish. Nothing can be further from the truth! Viewed another way, taking care of yourself and being at your best is the optimal way of fulfilling your responsibilities to others.

So WeSpeakLoudly is starting this blog to open up a conversation with you about self-care, wellness, and your health. We’ve got lots of information to share including practical tools and tips to improve your health and well-being. We’re regular women just like you who struggle everyday to “walk the talk” and take better care of ourselves. The posts you’ll find here are “battle-tested,” doable, practical, real-world solutions to the complex issues we face everyday.

We are hoping you’ll make WeSpeakLoudly your self-care accountability buddy. Let’s meet here every week for encouragement, fresh ideas, the latest news on women’s health and well-being. We’re building a community of women who support each other—just like you! Comeback next week for Self-Care Tip #1—Sleep!

Question of the week: What have you done for YOU lately?

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Filed under Self-Care, Wellness, Women's health, Women's Support

Tea Poached Apricots

When you think of tea, it’s usually for drinking–whether hot or cold. Well tea is also the perfect poaching liquid for your favorite fruits too! Here’s a quick and easy recipe for Tea Poached Apricots you’ve just got to try! We use WHOLE Bush Tea–our custom-blended tea–but you can use jasmine tea as well with equally tasty results.

Tea Poached Apricots
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
4 cups water
4 tsp WHOLE Bush or Jasmine Tea
1/3 cup Light Agave Nectar, or honey
8 ripe Apricots
1 cup creme fraiche or vanilla yogurt for garnish

Preparation:
1. In medium saucepan, bring water just to a boil. Add tea; cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove tea. Stir in Agave Nectar  or honey.
2. Meanwhile, thoroughly wash and dry apricots.
3. Add apricots to tea mixture in saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes until fruit is tender, but intact.
4. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove apricots to four serving bowls, 2 per bowl.
5. Raise heat under pot of reserved tea to high, and boil vigorously until tea reduces by half to a syrup.
6. Drizzle tea syrup over apricots, then top with crème fraiche or yogurt. Enjoy!

To order WHOLE Bush Tea visit Marketplace at WeSpeakLoudly.

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Filed under healthy eating, Nutrition, Recipes, WHOLE Kitchen

Good Lovin’ For Your Feet!

Get your feet summer-ready with Golden Foot Spa–a luscious make-your-own footcare regimen from my buddy Donna Maria Coles Johnson at Make Your Own Cosmetics.

Golden Foot Spa contains everything you need to give yourself a pedicure and get those tootsies in shape for summer! Soften your skin naturally with fresh milk and use Dead Sea Salts to slough dead skin and invigorate. Lemon awakens your senses and provides aromatherapy benefits to boot!

Ingredients:
1/2 gallon whole milk
1 handful calendula flowers (dried or fresh)
1 drop lemon essential oil
2 cups Dead Sea Salts
1/2 cup sweet almond oil
1 bag marbles

Blending Procedure:
1. Warm the milk over a low flame in a large soup pot. Do not microwave and be sure not to scald the milk. It should be sufficiently warm in about 15 minutes. Toss in the calendula petals (to make the milk golden in color!) and stir to wet them. While the milk is warming, prepare the salt scrub. (The extremely busy woman can dispense with warming the milk and the calendula. Just let the milk come to room temperature and use it that way. It won”t be warm or “golden,” but it will still make a good foot soak!)

2. Make the salt scrub by combining the Dead Sea Salts and almond oil in a large plastic bowl. Stir well. Add essential oil and stir again.

3. Remove the milk from heat. Pour it into a large dish pan or any plastic container large enough for both of your feet. Pour in the marbles. If you’re not doing this treatment in the bathroom (which is the best place; I’ve done it in front of the boob tube in the family room while watching Oprah), spread a large beach towel so that when the salt flies a bit during scrubbing, it lands on the towel and not in your carpet.

4. If you’re in the tub, sit in it dry and put the container of warm calendula milk in a position where it’s comfortable to dunk your feet in and exercise your toes by picking up the marbles. Soak to soften the skin for 10 minutes.

5. Scoop up a handful of the lemon scented Dead Sea Salts/almond oil mixture and begin scrubbing your lower legs and feet. If possible, do the scrubbing over the milk so any unused salt falls into it. This feels so good that if you have the space (the tub is best), you can scrub your knees and elbows and anything else dry!

6. Dunk your feet back into the milk mixture and rinse everything you scrubbed, including legs, etc. Soak for 5 more minutes. This second soak further softens skin (now that the dead layers have been removed!), plus gives your feet the added benefit of the melted Dead Sea Salt.

7. If you made a mess in the tub, that’s OK because now you can just bathe it away. (If you made a mess in your living room, well, you should have foreseen that so just get out the vacume cleaner!) Pat your skin dry and apply a creamy foot cream. If you have time, file your nails, push back your cuticles and use a nail brush to thoroughly clean them. If you decide to apply polish, remember to remove the cream from your nails first so the polish adheres better. Most any product designed as a facial toner can do this adequately, or you can use witch hazel. Enjoy!!

Copyright 2010 for Golden Foot Spa by Donna Maria Coles Johnson & Affiliates. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Black women, Do-It-Yourself, Natural beauty, Recipes, Self-Care, WHOLE Kitchen

WHOLE Fresh Tomato Sauce. YUM!!!

Summer is almost here, and I can’t wait! The bounty of fresh veggies is just amazing, and the flavors are at their peak. I found some perfectly ripe grape tomatoes today, and just couldn’t resist making one of my favorite summer dishes.

Here’s my recipe for a quick tomato sauce, served here over spaghetti squash.

WHOLE Fresh Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
1 lb. grape tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, cut in fine strips
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation:
1.    Place olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a medium sauté pan. Warm over medium heat for about 3 minutes to infuse the oil with the flavors of the red pepper and garlic. Watch closely to prevent the red pepper and garlic from burning.
2.    Add tomatoes and stir to coat with the flavored oil. Cook over medium-high heat to flash cook the tomatoes. Tomato skins will burst and release the juices to blend with the hot oil.
3.    Reduce heat and add basil. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until tomatoes and basil soften into a chunky sauce. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve, pictured here over spaghetti squash. This sauce may also be served over whole grain pasta or polenta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!

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Eating Your Stress?

My relationship with food is out of control! I certainly was forced to realize this fact on a recent unpleasant meeting with my bathroom scale!

This has been a stressful year, with the death and illness of loved ones, family upheaval, and financial challenges. I live the perfect life for someone who can become a stress eater.  I work from home, and am a pretty good cook. So all day long, I am in close proximity to a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry that calls me away from my office. And I travel a lot too, so I’m often in a position of eating at weird times, and foods that are fast–not healthy. It’s the quintessential recipe (pun intended!) for mindless, stress-induced eating.

It’s amazing how food can morph into the answer to so many of life’s hard questions. Happy? Great! Let’s eat! Depressed or bored? No problem! Comfort is only a bite away! Want to celebrate and show your love to family and friends? Cook a feast of everyone’s favorite foods and gorge yourselves! Stressed out? Relief is just a fork-full away!

Eating equals immediate gratification! Problem is, it’s the aftermath fraught with the extra pounds, self-criticism, embarrassment, and feeling “icky” that can set you up for the endless feedback loop of self-sabotaging behavior.

I’m working to change my relationship with food, and have found a great book that is really helping. It’s called, “Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food” by Jan Chozen Bays, MD. It really is helping me to get a handle on my bad eating habits.

I’m just getting started with it, but I’ve already had an “Aha Moment” in reading it. I understand now that there are many different kinds of hunger–few of which have anything to do with the nutritional needs of our bodies. Our senses, our emotions, our habits all have the ability to trigger eating. Transformative stuff!

I highly recommend this book! Let’s read it together, and share ideas–and support!

Question: What triggers emotional eating for you?

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Filed under Health Topics, Nutrition, Self-Care