Are you afraid to say this word?

I've been thinking a lot about consent, and the fear of saying "no."

As women, we are taught that consent is the default state. Only if really needed do we remove consent, and there must be a solid explanation for doing it. In other words, our default answer is "yes" unless we absolutely must say "no."

But what if it were the opposite? What if "no" is the default answer unless there was a good reason to say "yes"? I proposed this idea at my retreat last weekend, and it lead to a lengthy, rich discussion.

  • One woman pointed out that children are often shamed for their first word being "no" when in reality it is a vital communication tool.

  • Another noticed that she feels resentment from saying "yes" so often.

  • Another noticed that when men say "no" they are "putting their foot down" and showing their strength; whereas a woman may be seen as too stern, stuck up, or worse.

This is still a growing edge for me. I find myself leaning toward yes without taking the time to consider if my answer truly is yes.

Photo by Tonya Lewis Photography

Photo by Tonya Lewis Photography

Here are a few ways that I've found helpful to support me in saying yes only when I really mean it (I'd love to hear what you'd add to this list!)

  • Pause and take a breath (or 3) before responding. Giving myself a pause interrupts the automatic response so I can feel more into my true answer.

  • If, after the pause, there remains hesitation, I do not say yes. I might say "not now" or give myself more time to decide.

  • When I am not a yes, I say no as soon as possible. I do my best to be lovingly honest, and avoid explaining my no, especially if that explanation puts the responsibility on another person.

For example, if a friend asks me to help redecorate this afternoon, instead of saying "Oh, I wish I could, but my daughter has been really clingy so I need to be with her today." I might say "Thanks for thinking of me, but no, I don't have availability today. Good luck with the project!" This frees us both up. She can invite someone else (no need to try to work around with my excuses), and I can simply spend time with my daughter like I want to.

  • Keep in mind that "No." is a complete sentence. Others' reaction to my "No" is not my responsibility.

  • Practice receiving "No" without judging the person who said it. I find my respect goes up for people in my life who can clearly decline my request without justification. This way, I know that when they say "Yes" they really mean it!

Again, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, what you might add to this list, or what you feel inspired to implement. Let me know how it goes! Please leave a comment below.

A surprisingly simple method to ride the waves of this season

I was just sitting in a circle of women discussing the “wave” many of us are feeling.  The ebbs and flows of life are often heightened this time of year. Joy. Grief. Inspiration. Doubt. Expansion. Contraction. Sunshine. Rain. Inhale. Exhale.

For me, it’s been the flow of facilitating powerful events, followed by health concerns at home.  When I’m leading a retreat, I’m expanding, and inviting participants into that expansion. When my little ones are hurting, I contract, closing in, protecting home.

There was a time that I would have created a less-than-helpful story about this.  A story like “things can only get so good, and then it’s time for the other shoe to drop.”

But now, although life feels quite full, and some moments stressful, my sense of self goes with the flow.

How? What’s different?

Many things have contributed to my journey.  In the coming months, I’ll be sharing something about each one.

Today, I offer air.

May 17 Blog.jpg

Let’s take a nice, deep breathe right this very moment…. Inhale…. Exhale… Ahhh…

Air is our most basic need. We share the air we breathe with everyone else on the planet, past, present and future.

The wind has the power to clear away, and transform.

Fresh air is healing.

Air is the central element of Spring.

Here are a few ways I’ve been welcoming air into my life:

  • As I write this, I am taking deep breaths along the way. There is expansion and contraction in the writing process.  My breath helps me work with it.

  • I led a retreat last weekend. At just the moment we were putting intentions into the creek nearby, a breeze came through, carrying our wishes.

  • As I sip coffee, I notice my breath rippling across the top of the liquid.

How might you connect with or benefit from air? I’d love to hear your ideas, and how you’re navigating this season of your life! Hop on over to my blog and leave a comment.

PS:  If you’ve wanted to attend one of my retreats, there is a unique opportunity coming up to join in for a full day experience in the beautiful, cool pine forest of Mountainaire, Arizona. (Notice the word “air” in the name of the location. We will enjoy fresh air for sure.)

Note: Most of my retreats are part of an ongoing group experience, so this is a rare drop-in opportunity.

Plus... if you want to make a weekend out of it, the venue has a few spaces for lodging! (Booked separately)

june day retreat-01.jpg





Bumpy Start to the New Year? 4 ways you've been set up for disappointment...

It's a new year! Ahh... the excitement... the pressure... the disappointment...

I was leading a workshop on Saturday all about visioning our lives for 2019.  Part of the dialogue was about the ways the new year sets us up for disappointment. Most obvious are the resolutions we make and quickly break. But why does this happen? It occurs to me that there are 4 main flaws in the usual way of celebrating the New Year. I'd love to know what you think, and what you might add to this list. And, because I believe the new year can be a nourishing experience, I offer alternatives for each flaw...

1. The start of the year comes just as winter begins.
Winter is a season to hibernate. It's a time to cozy up, to reflect by the light of a warm fire, to honor and let go of the previous year.  You're just getting started with this internal time, yet you're asked to be in massive external action to improve your life.

Instead... what if you honored the winter season? You could certainly set intentions for the New Year, but take your time to feel into the pause, leaving ample time (and generous grace) before taking action.

2. Resolutions assume you are broken.
"New Year. New You"  This slogan gets me riled. It assumes that who you are is not right or enough. And if you're not able to reinvent yourself in January, you're a failure. (It's also used to sell you products that promise to "fix" you in some way.)

Instead... "New Year. New Level of Love"  This deepening love begins with love for self, forgiveness of past mistakes and wrongs, and appreciation for your continued growth.

Photo by Tonya Lewis Photography

Photo by Tonya Lewis Photography

3. Resolutions ask you to add to an already full life without support.
A New Years Resolution can feel a lot like this... "You already have a lot of responsibilities, and routines. Without letting any of them go, it's time to add in time at the gym, a new way of eating, and a new way of being!" The worst part? You're expected to accomplish this through will power (aka without support)!

Instead... winter is an ideal time to clear clutter in all it's forms: time, objects, and unreleased emotion. Imagine how it would feel to focus on creating space for what you want to experience next (rather than rushing in). And imagine feeling supported through this process. I believe this would make for a more a meaningful, positive New Year ritual.

4. New Year rituals miss the mark.
Like many holidays, the New Year celebration comes with a sense of obligation... you must stay up late, drink alcohol, and be a new person in the morning!

Instead... what if you welcomed the New Year with stillness, and reflection? What if you allowed the New Year ritual to be nourishing rather than obligatory, to feel inspired about growth (and look forward to more), rather taking on a punishment for being "broken"? 

Photo by Blue Russ at January 2019 workshop

Photo by Blue Russ at January 2019 workshop

If ongoing ritual that lifts you up, and connection with other inspired women is something you'd benefit from this year, there are just 3 spots left in "Life Your Purpose" - let 's hop on the phone to discover if this the right fithttp://blue-russ.genbook.com/
(Learn more about this 3 month experience that includes retreats here)

May your love grow,
~Blue

5 signs that it may be time to change your career

Inertia.  You know the feeling.  The more you keep doing what you're doing, the more you keep doing what you're doing.

I was trapped by inertia this spring, continuing to identify myself as a health coach because I had been one already for so many years (6 years to be exact).  But it had been at least a year since I was lit up about wellness.  I was no longer reading about nutrition for fun, I was avoiding talking about my work, and found myself recycling old content instead of sharing new, inspired content...  that's when it hit me.  I was experiencing (and resisting!) a career transition.

Funny enough, in my case, I was transitioning to a career... as a Career Transition Coach! Looking around, I realized that all of my clients in the past year had been women feeling stuck in their jobs, seeking a path to more fulfillment.  For each of them, I had combined powerful habit change strategies with job coaching resources from my previous career... full circle!

Blue contemplating at Arcosanti.jpg

Whatever your experience, here are 5 sure fire signs that you too may be embarking on a career transition:

  1. At the end of the day, you feel depleted.
    Tired is different than depleted. Even if you were tired, you used to also feel fulfilled at the end of your work day (or imagined you would). Now the clock seems to slow down, and you're dying to be done with your work day.

  2. You're way more interested in other careers than your own.
    The books and articles you read are unrelated to your work. You're curious about how people got to do really fun or crazy kinds of jobs. You daydream about doing something, anything, but what you're supposed to be doing at work right now. (Like reading this blog post perhaps!)

  3. You avoid talking about your work.
    Whether with current friends, or new people you meet, you dread questions like "What do you do?" or "How are things going at work?"

  4. You easily connect with others around hating work.
    Perhaps you don't mind talking about work with your friends, but only to list and compare complaints.

  5. When you reach a goal or promotion, the excitement is short-lived (or non-existent).
    You finally reach that goal you've been working toward, or that promotion you've been wishing for... and drum roll... nothing. The excitement that should be there isn't. Instead there's a sense of "Is that it?"

It is challenging to change careers.  From bills to pay, a family to feed, fear of what starting over may be like, concern about what others will think, to lack of clarity about what exactly to pursue next (what if you pick the wrong thing?)... there are many reasons we remain stuck in a career we no longer enjoy.

I'll be sharing more tips and tricks I use with my clients in the coming months.  And, if you'd like to chat personally about your situation, hop on my calendar here.  These are my favorite conversations!

In the meantime, please comment below how you know (or knew) it's time for a career change!

Does travel mean an end to healthy habits?

As my family prepares for summer travel, I thought of you. I'm wondering if this sounds familiar...

"I do pretty well at home, but when I travel, it all goes out the window!"

This is one of the things I hear most often from my clients...They're referring to food, physical activity, daily meditation, positive self-talk, and more. I used to feel this way too!

Yes, there is a way in which travel disrupts our usual routine... and it doesn't have to completely derail our efforts to nourish ourselves. What if it could open up even greater opportunity to take great care of you?

This summer, I challenge you to notice what you ARE doing to nourish yourself when you travel.

  • Are you nourishing your sense of adventure?
  • Are you allowing yourself to relax?
  • Are you actually quite physically active - walking, biking, swimming?
Mom and daughter explore the beach

 

Celebrate all that you are doing right! And, I invite you to consider ways you can bring nourishing habits from home onto the road. Here are few ideas to get you started:

  1. Look into healthy eating options before you leave. Where are the Farmer Markets, and healthy restaurants where you're going?
     
  2. Bring quality snacks, even if it's packaged. Avoid those starving moments that have a way of driving your car into a drive-thru.

    One of my trip staples is literally the easiest way to consume fresh raw fruits & veggies daily (in a capsule) --  Juice Plus+. They also make a shakes & snack bars that can serve as a meal - they are surprisingly tasty & filling!  All Juice Plus+ products are made without pesticides, herbicides, gluten, dairy or GMO's.  That's why they're my favorite!
     
  3. Schedule "nothing" time. Be sure to leave time and space to simply relax. It's ok to NOT see and do it all so you can enjoy what you DO see and do more.

Nourishing yourself will give you energy to enjoy your vacation more fully! What would you add to this list? Please leave a comment below with how you will you nourish yourself this summer.

Mother's Day - fresh gift ideas

I have to be honest. Mother's Day disappoints me every year.

I know it's just an arbitrary day to celebrate Moms, and I shouldn't have expectations, but I do. I want the day to be relaxing… I wish all the chores would be done…. the food prepared… and the day planned by anyone but me.... in short, the chance to fully unwind. And I want the same for my mother. Somehow, it hasn't happen that way.

This year, I’m taking a different approach to Mother’s Day, and I invite you to join me.

First, I am asking for what I want!  I may not get it all, but if I don’t ask, I definitely won’t receive.

Second, I’m looking into unique gifts, and am sharing a few below. Take a look. If you’re seeking a gift, I hope you gain some inspiration. If you’re a mother who would love to receive one of these gifts, please share this message to your loved ones. 
 

Mother’s Day Gift Idea #1

Let her sleep in, and take the kids out for at least 6 hours, leaving her with a clean house.
That's it. That's what she wants. 

Bonus that puts this one over the top of awesome: Arrange for her favorite restaurant to deliver food while you're gone. And chocolate. Definitely chocolate that she doesn't share with anyone.
 

Mother’s Day Gift Idea #2

Why not give a gift that truly keeps on giving?! 
... a TOWER GARDEN!

I love my aeroponic garden so much, and have asked for this gift so often, that I now own 3 of them!  A few highlights:

  • Grow up to 28 plants in a 3 sq ft space
  • Grow indoor, outdoor, on a patio, balcony, school, anywhere!
  • No dirt, no weeding, far fewer pests (easy to grow organic)
  • Uses just 10% of the water of an in-ground garden (water is recirculated)
  • Use any seeds you like!  (No root veggies, but all else is possible)

My friend calls it “Gardening for Dummies” – No, Mama isn’t a dummy, but she doesn’t have time for complicated!

***Learn more, and order online here.  (Or hit reply with questions)

Tip: Set up Mom's new garden for her!  It’s super easy to maintain after that! (my kids take care of mine)
 

Mother’s Day Gift Idea #3

Give her MAGIC… 

Sign her up for Magical Mother’s Day!

Photo by Grace Marcellino Photography

Photo by Grace Marcellino Photography


I'm delighted to team up with Jennifer Hoeprich (of Moxie Midwifery & Moxie Meditation), and eight of our favorite healers to offer this annual nourishing event..."6 Hours of Awesome" is how Jennifer describes it. And boy will it ever be!!... Massage, reiki, henna organic lunch, sisterhood, guided meditation... by the end of the day, we will be a bunch of blissed out Mamas...

The best part? It’s NOT on Mother’s Day… it’s a week later. So, if Mom is disappointed with how Mother’s Day went, she has this event to look forward to! ;)

Magical Mother’s Day
Saturday, May 19th from 10:00am to 4:00pm
Mesa, AZ
***Check out the full details (and grab one of the final 8 spots) here.

Please add your gift ideas in the comments below!

3 Tips to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

Perhaps you've been here... trying to be everything to everyone, and then getting frustrated with the people you care about the most for needing too much from you.

This happened to me yesterday morning. At the end of a busy week, I was looking forward to an opportunity to ease into Saturday.  But my plans were disrupted by others' early morning needs -- my cat's need for food, my daughter's need for reassurance from a nightmare, my husband's head cold (can I cover for him at the Community Garden today?), and then a business partner had a last minute request. I found myself overwhelmed, and angry about what felt like a plot to keep me from relaxing. I lashed out at my husband.  "You don't have a fever, you're fine!" I yelled.


And then I caught myself.... I wasn't angry at the people (and cat) I love for needing so much, I was angry at myself for my inability to meet those needs. I also felt helpless in a larger way. So much conflict, action and change is happening right now. How can I contribute to a better world?  None of my actions (calling, marching) feel adequate. It was a perfect storm for those old self-judgements to come up...

"I should be able to handle this."
"I should do more." 
"I should be patient and kind at all times. If I'm not, that means I'm a bad mom."

As one of my mentors would say, I was "shoulding" all over myself!

In the past, I might have continued "shoulding" all day (or week!). But now I recognize mornings like this as a gift. It was a clear reminder to honor my capacity, and to communicate it proactively. I was reminded to prioritize self-care while allowing myself to implement it imperfectly (ie. sometimes morning yoga becomes afternoon yoga when my daughter requests a snuggle). And it reminded me that I have a choice about whether to allow those old self-judgements to control me.

I apologized, took responsibility for my actions, and requested help. My amazing husband made breakfast, while we created a strategy together that would meet everyone's needs. This included him curling up with the kids and the iPad so I could take care of myself.

I wasn't always able to experience a frantic morning as a gift. It's taken a lot of reflection and guidance to come to this place (plus a lot of studying about how the mind and body work!) In case you catch yourself in a similar pattern, I'd love to save you some time by offering you a few key tips...

 

  1. Name and feel your feelings. 

    Ever try to stop laughing when you have the giggles? Does it make you laugh more or less? It's the same with all emotions - suppressing them makes them stronger. And, as we all know, being in the midst of a tantrum throws reason and quality decision making ability out the window. 

    There is science behind this. For example, UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb shares in his book The Upward Spiral that simply naming the emotion activates the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (the "rational brain"), which reduces the emotional amygdala reactivity. (1)

    What are you feeling? Name it. Write it. Speak it.
     
  2. Dance, even if you don't feel like it. 

    Once you've called out those emotions, let them move through you! There is a direct link between your brain and body. The brain feels an emotion, which causes the body to react, which contributes to emotion. It's a cycle that can self-perpetuate. Luckily, you can stick a spoke in the wheel... Changing your "motion" literally alters your "emotion." 

    Swedish researchers recently found that adolescent girls who took the dance classes improved their mental health and reported a boost in mood—positive effects that lasted up to eight months after the classes ended. How amazing is that?

    This, by the way, is one thing I did to take care of myself yesterday. I turned up some tunes and danced around my house - my daughter joined in! (I've also done it a few times while writing this!)
     
  3. Reach out for support.

    Ever felt better about your life after connecting with a close friend who showed you compassion? It's easy to get tripped up expecting to be able to do and handle it all alone. The truth is, we need each other. According to Melanie Greenberg, in her book The Stress-Proof Brain, "research shows that social support is one of the strongest buffers against the negative effects of stress on mental and physical health." (3)

    The key to reaching out is to find those people who believe in you, help you gain perspective, and nudge you to be a better person (vs. put you down, or feed into negativity or gossip).

Interested in more personalized guidance?  Book a chat with me. I'd be honored to help you navigate your best path to more joy, and less overwhelm.
 

Photo by Grace Marcelino Photography

Sources:
(1)A neuroscience researcher reveals 4 rituals that will make you happier. Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/a-neuroscience-researcher-reveals-4-rituals-that-will-make-you-a-happier-person-2015-9
(2)The happiness trick you haven't tried. Prevention. http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/dancing-shown-help-boost-happiness-and-mental-health
(3) The Stress-Proof Brain by Melanie Greenberg, PhD. New Harbinger Publications. 2016

Easy Nourishing Breakfast

I love a savory breakfast. So many breakfast foods are loaded with sugar, which just makes me sleepy. I like a meal that gives me energy... and doesn't take too much effort to prepare.

Today, I share my current favorite breakfast... But first, a word about eggs... There is a lot of debate about whether eggs are good for us. Like all debates on food, the best way to determine if something is "good" is to notice how you feel when you eat it.

I didn't eat eggs for many years. This was mostly an ethical decision. The way that hens are treated in factory farms is definitely not something I want to participate in.  My decision was reinforced by the fact that when I did eat eggs, my digestion was majorly disrupted.

And then something interesting happened -- my dear friend Phoebe treated me to an egg breakfast one morning in her home, and I felt great! The eggs she prepared were fresh from her backyard chickens, and being with her brings me joy. I believe it was that combination that made it easy for me to digest those eggs.

So, I did some further experimenting. And I found that I could digest eggs just fine when they were fresh from friends' chickens (which also relieved my ethical concerns)-- "Pastured" is a good label to look for if getting eggs from a grocer). And, interestingly, my body enjoys eggs especially in the week leading up to menstruation. I later learned that egg yolks are a natural source of progesterone - a hormone we need more of during the luteal (pre-menstrual) phase. So cool!

Below you will find my current favorite way to enjoy eggs. I like to bake a couple of these over the weekend, and enjoy slices thru the week - hot or cold! 

Spinach and Mushroom Frittata

 1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

½ lb fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 bunch fresh spinach (or chard)

6 eggs

½ tsp each of oregano, salt, pepper, or to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, sauté onions, garlic and mushrooms for a few minutes.  Add in the spinach and wilt.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and spices together.
  4. Pour eggs over the veggies.  Put skillet into the oven.
  5. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until eggs are not runny.
  6. Tastes great hot or cold.

Notes:  If you do not have a cast iron skillet, you can use any pan and then transfer the veggies to an oven-safe container, such as a pie plate.  Try this with other veggie combinations, such as broccoli and bell pepper or tomato and basil.

I would love to hear what you think of the recipe, and what your favorite breakfast is. Please leave a comment below!

Oh! Any by the way, the greens & basil you see in the photo came from my Tower Garden! Reach out if you'd like to learn more about this super easy way to grow food anywhere! You can also learn more here.

Letting Go

I just filled the recycle bin - again. I'm clearing clutter from my home office, and already feeling the inspiration to create coming through the space that's opening up... writing is one of my favorite creative outlets, and connecting with you through writing this newsletter inspires me every time.

Today, as I let go of physical things, I want to share with you about a dear friend who is on my heart because of what she taught me about letting go...

Seneca travels a lot. She is a free spirit, expressing love openly and connecting deeply wherever she goes, even if she never sees a person she connects with again.

She has no need for ownership - of people, houses, things... Becoming close friends with her years ago shifted something within me.

As a child, my family moved many times, and the ache of missing friends I left behind became more and more painful. Without realizing it, I was building a wall around my heart, only connecting with those I was guaranteed to see again.  But Seneca helped me realize (simply by exuding love without attachment) that I was missing out on enriching experiences and people by walling myself off in this way... I love to travel, but was closed to the people I met along the way. The truth is, we never truly know what will happen in the future, nor who we will or won't see again.

Now instead of requiring friends to be nearby for me to be close with them, I am able to revel in their next adventure, wherever it takes them... I am filled with gratitude that our journeys caused us to cross paths... that I have them to miss. I am free to love and connect. I have dear friends across the globe. I love them whether I see them or not.

And if I am free in this way, perhaps I can be free in other ways... by letting of the need to own or control anything that I desire... the perfect vacation, meal, moment, clients... and instead surrender and trust that what I desire longs for me too... that we will find each other, and in beautiful ways I could not have foreseen. Instead of grasping and earning what I want, what if I let go and simply allow myself to have it?

I'm curious... what are you holding on to that you may benefit from letting go? ...unhealthy habits... limiting beliefs... clutter... perfectionism... self-doubt... wishing for a previous time in your life to return...

I'd love to have a conversation to support you in letting go, and in receiving what you really want in life. I invite you to book a time on my calendar here, so we can hop on the phone with open hearts, open to possibility, unattached to outcome.

Get Better Sleep Tonight

Are you struggling to get enough sleep, or long to feel more rested when you wake?

You're not alone. The CDC lists insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic. Seriously, check it out here.

Luckily, it is within your power to remedy your own lack of sleep problem. Today, I share 3 things that have helped me get more sleep in hopes that one of them will work for you.

Please leave a comment with what you will try out tonight - or what has worked for you in the past to get better sleep.
 

Sweet Dreams,

~Blue

Note: Nothing in this post is intended to diagnose or treat disease. Lack of ability to sleep can indicate serious health concerns, which should be discussed with your trusted healthcare advisor.