Sometimes you get to a point in your life where you’ve just got to step out on faith and take the leap towards what you truly want in your life. You have to walk away from what is familiar and move toward what you feel most closely resembles your dreams. This is what I did recently. [Read more…]
A Change Is Gonna Come…
Hey Friend! In the last few months, I’ve been planning some big changes… HUGE changes! In just about every aspect of my life, there’s been a big shift that has occurred or that will occur in the very near future. This type of change is very exciting, and (if I’m honest) it’s also a bit scary to say the very least. [Read more…]
Mental Health, Depression, and Suicide
This week, two iconic people took their lives by committing suicide. Though I didn’t follow either of them, the fact that they were mega-starts in their respective fields has really struck me. These two people, Kate Spade (fashion) and Anthony Bourdain (food and travel), had money, fame, and they were both “at the top” of their industries. But the reality is that they both still suffered. They had the finest things this life had to offer, and they both still felt like taking their own lives was the most viable option for them to escape. This is why we need to have more discussions about Mental Health, Depression, and Suicide. This is why we need to open our own minds and hearts not only to physical illnesses, but to mental and emotional illnesses as well.
While thinking about what these suicides mean for them, their family & friends, and to me personally, I came up with 5 realizations:
- Depression and Suicide know no boundaries
- People wear their masks really well
- We, as a society, need to plug into one another more and get reacquainted on a more personal level
- We should all be aware of the suicide prevention hotline contact info
- Sometimes knowing suicide prevention contact info isn’t as important as making a real connection with the person/people around you.
Igbo / Yoruba Proverb – It Takes a Village…
There is an African Proverb that says, “It takes a Village to Raise a Child.” Usually when we hear that phrase, we think of how many resources and community members it takes to have children grow up in safe, happy, healthy homes and become flourishing members of society. But I think that is only part of the story.
I believe that it takes a village to help ALL the members of that village become the best versions of themselves. In order to become happy, health, flourishing parts of society, it takes the entire community to chip in and support. In order to keep all of our loved ones from feeling so low that they think the only viable option they have for relief is to end it all, is a community effort. Now, I’m not saying that we bear the blame for the choices that other people make [I would never tell you that because I know first hand how horrible that feels. And it’s not fair to any of you!]. What I AM saying is that many times the people that take their own lives feel so disconnected and helpless that they don’t feel that anyone is there for them or can help them. In that regard, we as a society can do better.
Her are 9 ways that each of us can help build a stronger community so that the people that are anxious, depressed or suicidal can possibly feel more connected to the community around them.
- Talk to People: at least a few times a week, preferably daily, try to pick up the phone and have an actual conversation! Not just with your closest friends and family members. Have a conversation with that long lost cousin. Speak to that former colleague that you used to have lunch with. Reach out to that former teacher/student/acquaintance. Say hello to that elder that used to live down the street from you and make those pies. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but just reaching out can let them know that you care. Pick up the phone and have an actual conversation with them. Hear their voice and let them hear yours.
- Visit One Another: Talking on the phone is great, but every now and again we need to step it up a notch and make a face-to-face appearance in someone else’s life. Invite them out for coffee or tea. Invite them over for family dinner. Go visit them on your way to the store. Invite them on a morning walk through the park. Or just drop by and say hello. It really doesn’t take much to BEGIN to (re)build a connection to another person.
- Pay Attention / Don’t Be Distracted: With so many images and messages, notifications and comments, friend requests and page likes coming at us at all times, we’re beginning to lose the ability to focus. Our attention spans are shortening and it won’t change until we do something about it. What can we do? Well, I’m glad you asked! For starters, we can begin to reverse this trend when we are having a conversation with a friend or colleague. While talking to them, don’t divide your attention. Look them in the eyes. Listen to their words. Watch their facial expression and body language. Don’t check your watch. Don’t look at your phone (as a matter of fact, turn it OFF!) Try not to get distracted so they know that all of you is there, and they have your full attention. This will help them AND you!
- Don’t Dismiss Someone Else’s Struggles: Just because you haven’t had the same experiences doesn’t mean that they are not having them. As humans, we tend to relate to others according to our own experiences. That’s called sympathy. Sympathy is fantastic, except when we haven’t had those particular experiences and don’t even attempt to relate to what THEY are going through despite our own lack of experience in that area.
- Have EMPATHY: empathy is when you haven’t personally had an experience yourself, but you can still connect with someone else’s struggles. At minimum, you make a strong effort to “walk a mile in their shoes” to try to understand what another person is going through. And you do this without dismissing their feelings and experiences simply because you haven’t personally had them.
- Don’t Feed Into The Mental Health Stigma: We live in a society that makes it really hard for people with Mental Health Problems to come forward, tell their story, and feel safe enough to seek the help they need. I recently read a report that talked about how high depression and suicide are amongst physicians, partly because they don’t feel safe enough to go seek the health that they would prescribe to their patients! That is the burden of all of us. Collectively, we need to stop making others feel as though their mental health problems are less important and not worth of the same level of love, respect and care as every other disease (example: diabetes, cancer, etc).
- Get Into Nature: All of us, not just those with diagnosed mental health disease, need to reconnect with the earth around us. There is lots of research that talks about the positive affect that nature, water, and plants have on human health, emotions and well-being. The bottom line is that reconnecting with nature, free from distractions, does some really good things for you and your overall level of health. Some ways that you can connect are as follows: Sit in the grass. Put your bare feet on the ground. Re-pot and water a plant. Play in the ocean. Sit under a tree. There are a number of ways that we can do it, we just need to step out of our daily routine and step into nature for a few moments.
- Check Your Own Internal Conversation: Most of us talk REALLY bad to ourselves. If we paid attention to all the self talk and internal dialogues we had over the course of the day, we would see that it is self-destructive and negative. If someone around you talked to you on a regular basis with the SAME words that you talk to you, would you still want to be friends with them? Would that be a person that you’d want to keep around? Think about it!
- Focus on Right NOW!! Oftentimes, these feelings of anxiety and depression are caused by us looking too far into the future or too deep into the past. We are saddened by the choices we made or that were made for us. We are overwhelmed at the number of tasks that must be done or the amount of resources it will take to get them done. We begin to feel helpless because of the things that we have no control over. Let’s begin to get out of our head and revel in the present moment. Allow your body and mind to relax and sink into THIS moment right here and right now. The present is all you really have right now, so what are some ways you can enjoy life right this moment?
I know that this list is not exhaustive by any means. These are just a few simple steps that each of us can take every day to help bring all of us together as a community.
I hope this helps you. I hope it helps your community. My desire is that we will begin to hear less stories about our friends and loved ones taking their own lives. I want the root cause of their depression/anxiety/mental health disease to actually be worked on and healed. We all deserve love, happiness and to feel heard.
What are some things that YOU want to do right now to help heal your own mental health, and strengthen the community?
According to the CDC, it is now safe to eat Romaine Lettuce again.
If you recall, there have been a string of illnesses relating to people trying to do what is right and healthy by eating more leafy green veggies, namely by eating more salads. Unfortunately, because the romaine lettuce that came out of Yuma, AZ was contaminated with e Coli, over 170 got very ill, and one person passed away. These illnesses happened all over the U.S. After some investigation, it was found that all of the contaminated lettuce came from a farm in Yuma, a tiny town in Arizona.
How do we know it’s safe?
One thing to keep in mind when considering if you want to risk eating romaine lettuce again is this: ALL fresh produce has a shelf-life. It can only be on the shelf for so long before it starts to whither and go bad. For romaine lettuce that is 21 days. In just 3 short weeks, all the lettuce in your fridge is no good if you have not yet eaten it (so eat up!) The reason why we can start to trust this 21 day rule for this particular batch of lettuce is that the growing season in Yuma is officially over and the last batch of lettuce is well over 21 days old.
What to do if you are still worried
If you are still worried about eating romaine lettuce, here are 3 tips that can help you ease your fears and know that the fresh greens that you are eating are safe.
- Buy from local farmers: by getting your produce from a local grower, you are likely to have food that was grown with more care. This is also usually more tasty because it is picked at the peak of ripeness.
- Buy from smaller farms: by purchasing your food from smaller farms and gardeners, you are less likely to have the conditions that can lead to contamination of e Coli.
- Eat a variety: I heard someone once say that they couldn’t eat a salad because they didn’t want to eat romaine lettuce. PLEASE remember that there are more salad greens that just romaine! Broaden your salad experience by opening your eyes and your pallet to experiencing different salad greens on your next plate. Here are just a few examples of leafy salad greens that you should try:
- Red Leaf
- Green Leaf
- Butter Lettuce
- Baby Chard
- Baby Spinach
- Bok choy
You should also consider trying different pre-made salad mixes like Spring Mix or one of the blends with Arugula or Dandelion.
There’s no limit
There’s really no limit to how you can vary up your salad experience. You don’t have to fear eating Romaine lettuce and you don’t have to stop eating salads. Just start eating a greater variety and know that you are doing good for your body!
Want delicious and easy salad dressings?
If you’d like to make your salads even better, read THIS and THIS about making your own salad dressings! And if you’d like over 100 easy-to-make salad dressing recipes, get my new book Get Dressed Up! You can purchase your copy HERE!!
To Organic or Not To Organic
When people decide to get healthy and eat clean the very first thing that most people usually do is give up meat. Mostly red meat, but sometimes also pork, chicken, and seafood. After the meat goes, it’s usually the desire to eat organic. The question is always, “to organic, or not to organic?” One big reason why people choose to go organic is because they believe that organic is the ULTIMATE version of ‘healthy’. The reason most people don’t actually go organic is because it can be more costly, unfortunately. But other people will weigh the risks vs the benefits and decide to go organic. So, what should you do? Let’s explore.
But What is Organic?
First, let’s talk about what organic is NOT! Organic does not mean the same as “Healthy”. There is no guarantee that something that is organic is going to be healthier than something that is not. This is where the controversy lies with regard to whether or not we should eat organic or not. The reality is that understanding whether or not something is healthier for you is more nuanced. It is much more than putting a word or a label on it.
The official USDA definition of organic is this:
- Produce: fruits and veggies are labeled organic when they have been proven to be grown in soil that had no “prohibited substances” for at least 3 years prior to harvest. This means that in general, no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides were used to grow the food.
- Meats: organic meats were “raised in living conditions that accommodating their natural behaviors”, were allowed to forage for some portion of their food, was given organic feed, and is free from antibiotics and hormones. This means that the cow, for example, was allowed to graze on some grass, and was given organic food while not being injected with antibiotics or any kind of hormones.
Is Organic Healthier?
Organic is definitely a healthier option. In my opinion, it is food the way it was intended. When food is not grown with extra chemicals or tampering (genetically modifying it) then it’s easier for your body to recognize it and process it to get the nutrients out.
Organic foods MAY have more nutrients, but how much nutrition that is in a food depends on the soil that it was grown in (healthier soil makes healthier foods) as well as when it was harvested (vine-ripened foods generally have more foods and better flavor than those that were picked un-ripe and ripened on the shelf).
Isn’t it more expensive?
Many times organic foods are more expensive, but there are many factors that contribute to this.
- Organic certification is a costly process. The farmers that do it have to pay a LOT of money to get that designation, so it is passed down to the consumer, YOU.
- A big reason your conventionally grown food is usually less expensive is because it has been subsidized by the government. Meaning that the government pays the farmer for part of your food. This doesn’t happen with organic foods so you have to pay ALL the costs. Not just the remaining cost after subsidization.
- Food is supposed to have an expiration date. Since it does, that means that your food that it grown without certain chemicals will likely go bad before the other type (and that’s not a bad thing!)
- Food is often eaten out of season. If the season for a food is not now, then it will be more expensive because it has to be shipped from further away. You are basically paying shipping and handling for that fresh fruit in December that only grows in the Summer.
These are just a few reasons why organic food seems to be so much more expensive than other. There are ways that you can begin incorporating more Organic foods into your diet without breaking the bank. Stay tuned for the “Dirty Dozen, Clean 15” blog post coming soon!
Do you incorporate organic foods into your diet on a regular basis? Why or why not?