It’s that time…when I like to take a few moments to ponder the previous year.
What went right in 2016? So much!
Simplification has been a key theme for me in 2016. I continue to fight the battle against stuff, finding inspiration in minimalist blogs and podcasts. I have no intention of living in a sparse, tiny house. However, I find that when I am more intentional about the stuff I allow in my home, I end up living in a home that is truly me, rather than in a space full of stuff.
My daughter started her Senior year of high school, got her license and started her college search. If this isn’t a growth opportunity for mom, I don’t know what is. The idea of my baby becoming an adult and leaving the nest is crazy to me and brings about so many emotions! Happiness, sadness, pride, fear, etc etc. Thank god for time in meditation to sort it all out!
My business is growing and changing as an idea took on a life of its own! After a few conversations with a new acquaintance, the universe shoved us along until we partnered up and opened Holistic Hub. HH offers yoga, meditation, nutrition/wellness coaching, wellness and creative classes and more. It’s been (and still is) a whirlwind ride and I am so excited to be a part of it! And, I am so grateful that I have a loving husband that has been supportive and understanding about it all.
I have reconnected with my favorite hobby. I always loved to read, but as life gets busy, reading was one of the easiest things to let go. I did still read, but not as much as I would have liked. Then I stumbled upon a podcast that inspired me to head to the library and grab a book! Since finding “What Should I Read Next” in June, I have read so many books I can hardly believe it. And not because I cleared my schedule and suddenly had nothing else to do. I simply made it one of my priorities…and that is all it took! You find time for what you prioritize. (“Instead of saying ”I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.” – Laura Vanderkam)
I started a bullet journal, which I have found to be a great tool for scheduling, planning and keeping track of things (like books to read). This tool has a lot more potential, which I hope to harness in 2017.
What went wrong? Luckily nothing too big!
Relationships, sigh. I'm not the best at making time to nurture relationships. I had told myself I was going to be more intentional about reaching out and connecting with friends and family in 2016. I did not do as well as I had hoped. As a matter of fact, I almost failed. Not to say I didn't connect with friends at all...I did. And I did have lots of fun in 2016. But in the end, I didn't make the soulful, personal connections I had hoped for because I didn't truly make it a priority.
I may have made time for reading, but another passion that I have been ignoring is writing. I had intended to spend more time writing in 2016, even if it was simply writing thoughts in a journal. I didn't write even a fraction of what I had hoped to.
A new year brings new opportunities to grow and expand, I can't wait to learn what 2017 has in store for us. But before it gets here, I highly recommend that you spend just a few moments contemplating 2016. Then, thank it for all the lessons it offered, and set your sights on 2017.
Here's to 2017! May it be the best year we've experienced so far!!
~ Namaste ~
Meal planning and grocery shopping…two tasks that can stand between people and healthy eating. Some people find meal planning and grocery shopping to be a wonderful experience, others loathe the task. If you loathe it, simply aren’t real good at it or just don’t have the time, there are businesses out there designed to help you.
In my last post, I gave Blue Apron a try. This week, I tried Hello Fresh. The options are little different with Hello Fresh. There are 3 baskets to choose from: Vegetarian, Original and Kid Friendly. There is also the option of feeding 2 or 4. There was no pescatarian option like with Blue Apron, but I did like that the vegetarian box was a slight bit cheaper. In addition to no fish option, there are also no meal substitutions for the vegetarian box. I’m not a picky eater, so this wasn’t a big deal for me, but I can imagine it would be for some.
Other than that, things were very similar with a couple exceptions. While Blue Apron packaged all ingredients together and I had to sort them depending on what meal they belonged with, Hello Fresh packages each meal separately in boxes that fit easily into the refrigerator. Blue Apron meals seemed rather large to me, while Hello Fresh seemed to offer more reasonable sized entrees. While both had way too much packaging, I did like that Hello Fresh assumed I would have butter and flour rather than supplying me with wasteful plastic containers of just a small amount of these pantry staples. However, I must mention that I was a bit let down with the ingredient quality of Hello Fresh. The ear of corn that was included was usable, but clearly not overly fresh and the package of fresh thyme was off colored and moldy. Luckily I have thyme growing in my herb garden so it wasn’t a big deal for me to replace it.
My Hello Fresh meals were…. Stuffed Zucchini Boats (best zucchini boats I’ve ever had), Peach and Mozzarella Flatbread (sounded good, but the flavor fell flat), and Zesty Corn & Red Bean Salad (I will surely make this one again!). As I put this post together I received a 2nd Hello Fresh delivery with these dishes: Caramelized Veggie Skewers with Corn Relish and Couscous, Peach & Nectarine Orzo Salad with Feta, Cucumber and Mint, and Sicilian Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew with Couscous. These sound pretty yummy, don’t they?
Overall, I was pleased with both companies, I would recommend both. But which would work best for you? It depends on what you are looking for. However, both offer great deals on the first shipments, so you can give them a try and see which you prefer!
Try them out, let me know what you think.
I tried something new this week…I floated.
I’m talking about floatation therapy. Great for stress management, pain management, sleep issues and much more. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a wonderful experience of complete relaxation and meditation, mixed with a bit of a nap. At least that was my experience.
It starts with a shower, then climbing into an enclosed pod that is approximately 8 feet long, 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall. The pod contains 10 inches of very salty water…saltier than the dead sea. Inside the pod it is quiet and dark. The water is the same temperature as your skin, so you aren’t warm or cold (perfect for Goldilocks). You lay back and float. That’s all there is to it. The water is so incredibly salty that you don’t have to think about floating…you just do.
I found that I was so excited to just get in and start, that I barely even looked around the pod, I think I actually closed my eyes before I even laid back. So what was it like? Well, at first, I struggled to relax. I became very mindful of my body, realizing every place I was still holding tension. As I slowly relaxed, my back started to ache…as if it wasn’t used to the lack of muscle tension. I felt every sensation in my body, until eventually I felt very little. My body was in a state of complete relaxation...I barely felt the water, because the temperature was so similar to my body temp. And because I was floating, there was no areas of pressure from laying on a surface…it was like being weightless…without gravity. For a while I felt a connection to my body that I had never felt before…I enjoyed a sensation of relaxation beyond words. Then very slowly I drifted away from my body. I was still in a complete sense of relaxation, but with no sight (it was dark and my eyes were closed), no sound other than my heartbeat and no feeling, I lost that sense of connection to my body. At that time I truly understood that we are spiritual beings, simply inhabiting a body for a time.
I spent 90 minutes floating in this tank. I didn’t move a muscle…I just floated. I had assumed my mind would be very busy, but it was quiet. I floated in what I must say, was the deepest meditation I have ever experienced. As my body continued to relax, I would occasionally notice a twitch…in an arm or a leg…but it felt so different than the twitches I get when lying in bed at night. I did eventually dose…slipping between meditation and sleep very easily…never moving, never opening my eyes.
When my 90 minutes came to a close, music started to play…a subtle and relaxing way to bring my attention back to the here and now. I slowly removed myself from the pod, showered again (I was covered in salt residue) and went back to the world, more relaxed and at peace than I have ever been.
If you live anywhere near the Rochester area, I highly recommend you check out The Rochester Bodymind Float Center (www.bodymindfloatcenter.com). If you live elsewhere, go online and find something similar near you! You won't be disappointed!
Namaste and happy floating -
We are well into Autumn, the temperatures are starting to drop, and Cold and Flu season is right around the corner. Today, I started one of my favorite cold & flu prevention / remedies….Fire Cider. This recipe came from my herbal teacher and mentor, Rosemary Gladstar. I love this recipe so much, I talk about it in almost every herbal class I teach!
Are you wondering yet, what exactly is Fire Cider? It is a delicious and spicy vinegar based tincture. It can be used in salad dressings or simply eaten by the spoonful to ward off those nasty viruses. Wondering what is in Fire Cider that kills viruses?
Garlic, Onion, Horseradish, Ginger & Cayenne…and raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).
These ingredients will certainly kill what ails you! Don’t worry too much about amounts…just peel and chop a bunch of each (for the cayenne, just use an inch of a fresh pepper or a teaspoon or so of dried pepper flakes). Fill a mason jar with your chopped ingredients and cayenne, then pour in ACV to fully cover them. Put on a lid and shake it around a bit.
Now we wait. It typically takes 3-6 weeks (shaking every day or two) for all of the herbal goodness to leave the plant material and fortify your ACV. You will notice the chopped roots and bulbs start breaking down and looking a bit spent by the end of the process. When you deem it complete, simply strain the vinegar and put it in a bottle or pretty cruet.
When you notice people around you coughing and blowing their nose, or when you feel that scratchiness in your throat or tightness in your lungs, take a TBSP of the vinegar once or twice a day, until you feel the threat pass! Don’t welcome those sick bugs into your body – let them know they are unwanted.
The flavor is potent, but eventually you get used to it. However, if you are sensitive to strong flavors, feel free to dilute it in a small glass of water.
Stay healthy and happy!
.I have spent a lot of time over the years, contemplating who I am; assuming that if I could just come up with all the correct labels, I would feel comfortable in every situation, I would never feel out of place, I would be whole and fulfilled, I would handle every situation with true grace and authenticity and I would be happy and balanced.
Most people would say that I am most of these things much of the time, but I worried that maybe I wasn’t being real… maybe I was just faking it, wearing a façade.
I struggled with this, because in any given situation, on any given day, a label I felt fit me so well yesterday, no longer seemed to fit. Or, I found myself trying to identify with a label that fit me 20 years ago, without realizing I have changed so much since then, that those labels are no longer true. (that realization was a gift I found through journaling)
Some might call me an ambivert, someone balanced between extrovert and introvert…which of course is just another way of labeling myself! However, that term itself is a weird label, because the definition is 2 opposing labels. So if I’m feeling introverted and I wish to just smile and nod vs getting into a long discussion on something I disagree with you about, am I just wearing a façade or am I being my authentic self? Is my introvert side allowed to feel that my opinions are none of your business or is that being non-authentic to my extrovert side? Yes, my mind can over think things for sure!
So I question and I search and I journal and I contemplate…but still struggle with how to balance being authentic and unique with fitting into my surroundings, pushing through fear or anger or sadness vs being comfortable, smiling at the innocent stranger even when I’m irritated by something, etc? I feel like I can never quite find the correct labels that my analytical side desires in order to figure out who I really am.
If my mind considers all of these things, I have to assume other people occasionally have similar thoughts (it’s not just me, right?). So, let me share a little gift with you that I recently found. It may just change your life…
I recently read and then immediately re-read, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth- Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. In that book I found so many nuggets of wisdom; but my all-time favorite, the one that changed the way I think of “who am i?” is below. Enjoy.
The mind will come in and say “Let’s see. How can I be myself?” Then, the mind will develop some kind of strategy: “How to be myself”. Another role. “How can I be myself?” is, in fact, the wrong question. It implies you have to do something to be yourself. But how doesn’t apply here because you are already yourself. Just stop adding unnecessary baggage to who you already are. “But I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what it means to be myself.” If you can be absolutely comfortable with not knowing who you are, then what’s left is who you are – the Being behind the human, a field of pure potential, rather than something that is already defined.”
Take a minute to soak that in… be comfortable with not knowing who you are, and what is left is indeed, who you are. Brilliant.
Since reading this, I’m doing my best to stop labeling myself. I am not worrying if I’m being authentic vs living in façade. When I stop trying to be authentic, that’s exactly who I am… my most unique and authentic self.
I find that people over-complicate making changes to their lives. We forget what healthy eating is and instead turn to processed food or a diet gimmick. We often, at some point in our lives, get out of balance. We forget that it is important to nourish all aspects of ourselves. I wanted to help people get past all this. I wanted to inspire people to make healthier choices, not just today, but in a way that would transform their whole lifestyle.
This idea was the founding concept of my business, Holistic Wellness with Tracy. I teach classes on various topics around holistic wellness, I help my 1:1 clients identify small changes they can make to improve their level of health and wellness…but something was missing. How do I reach more people? How could I coach people I’ve never met into making their lives healthier and happier? The answer was through a book.
For years there has been something in the back of my head…something I wanted to do, but put off because I was afraid. I was afraid of the work involved, afraid of criticism, afraid that maybe I couldn’t really do it, afraid of putting myself out there and yes, I was even afraid of success. What was I so afraid of? I was afraid to write my first book, but I was drawn to write it before I even knew what I really wanted to say.
When the concept of 90 Days to Holistic Wellness – balancing your Body, Mind, Heart and Soul came to me, it brought with it a bunch of insecurities. Could I really do this? I don’t know! I’m typically a confident person, but did I really want to take on this project and risk failure (or success)? I was paralyzed at first. I had this idea, but I was afraid to act on it. So I procrastinated. I let the idea simmer. Then one day it hit me! Follow your own advice, silly!
I believe in small changes, in baby steps. So that is how I started my book. I worked on an outline to see if I could design a complete book concept. Once I was happy with that, I wrote chapter 1. Hmm, that wasn’t too bad. So, I wrote chapter 2. Then I wrote chapter 3. You can probably figure out what came next. Yep, chapter 4…and so on and so forth. Eventually I had the book pretty much finished, except for a lot of editing. I had an almost completed book, now what? Fear started up again. I needed a publisher, but had read horror stories of rejection letters and feelings of failure. The thought of that sounded horrible and I really wanted this whole experience to be as positive as possible. So while I could have pushed through that fear and sent proposals to 25 different publishers, I didn’t. I chose instead to use a self-publishing company, Balboa Press.
This of course brings up a whole different set of fears. Putting up the money myself to publish the books, and hope that I can recoup enough to pay myself back, let alone maybe actually make some profit. This fear was actually a little more comfortable than facing the fear of rejection…proving to me that sometime you just have to pick the better of two evils and push ahead!
So now, I am so excited to say that my book is available to the public! I still have a couple more hurdles to jump through – like 2 book signing celebrations! Yes, I’m a little nervous no one will come or no one will buy my book; but in the end, I know that I did something that was meaningful and fulfilling to me. I pushed through my fear to create something that I hope will help people…and of that I am extremely proud!
If you are in the area, please consider stopping my one (or even both) of my book celebrations. Books will be available for purchase, we will have refreshments and giveaways, as well as raising some money for local charities. Details on these events can be found on my website, under EVENTS.
If you can’t make a book signing but are interested in reading the book, you can order your copy at
or from Balboa Press, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Thank you to everyone that has supported me in this project, especially my husband Andrew, my daughter Paige and my friend/unofficial editor, Diane
I recently went on a lovely, week long, tropical vacation with my husband and a couple of our dearest friends. Before I left, I promised myself that I would spend the week in the moment or in a good book. No mindless internet, minimal email and absolutely no Facebook. Why was I so adamant about this? Because more and more, I find myself filling every down moment cuddled up with my smart phone. Standing in line? Better check my phone. A lull in conversation? Better check my phone. Sitting at a stop light? Better check my phone. You get the pattern here, right? I bet you do, because I see many of you doing the same exact thing!
I realized awhile back that this pattern was becoming my new normal, and I didn’t like it. So I started paying attention and realized I turn to Facebook every time I get a spare moment. All the time! I find this rather funny (in an odd way), because I love quiet and solitude. Why would I fall into a habit of avoiding it?
Truthfully, I have no idea why. There is just something about the constant contact that is addictive…maybe it’s the fear I might miss something “important”. But it really doesn’t matter why…the point is that I decided to take a break while I was on vacation. But I was seriously concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Are you wondering if I was successful? Are you a bit curious? Did I struggle or cheat? What did I think of it? You probably know the answer already...It was awesome! I checked for emails once a day, twice if I thought there might be something from my daughter. But I did not open Facebook, despite several emails from them. Facebook quickly became aware of my absence and started emailing me…to be sure I was aware of the growing number of notifications I was missing out on. LOL. I was pretty sure none were too earth shattering!
Vacation came to an end and we returned home. A day later, I finally logged in to like something I knew my husband had posted. I didn’t care to look at anything else, so I didn’t. The next day (2 days after return) I logged in to acknowledge a post I had been tagged in, but I didn’t care to look at anything else, so I didn’t. 3 days after my return I logged in, did a quick 5 minute scan of my notifications, liked a couple pictures people posted for Father’s Day and that was it. I am really loving less Facebook in my life. Over a week later, I am checking Facebook 1-2 times a day, for 5-10 minutes. Does this give me time to see everything in my newsfeed? Nope…and I’m okay with that.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Facebook has some wonderful qualities!! I love seeing pictures of friends and family I can’t visit often enough, I love my friend’s inspirational posts and I love some of the funny ones as well. I love learning of new books from my favorite authors, meditation programs offered by my mentors or herbal tidbits posted by other holistic practitioners. All of this stuff is great! Luckily, I have made it a habit to unfollow people that post things I don’t really appreciate, so my newsfeed tends to be pretty positive and happy, but it still seems like many of us are falling into the trap of confusing Facebook with real life.
So I am making a commitment to myself, to increase my mindfulness…and the only way to do this is to decrease time spent in mindlessness. I am committing to minimal Facebook. I encourage you to do the same. Maybe your Facebook isn’t your thing. What is your mindless poison? Too much TV? Twitter? Pinterest? Instagram? Snapchat?
Could you spend a little more time being present in the moment rather than reaching for your computer, tablet or phone every time you have a moment to yourself? Maybe instead, just sit and enjoy that moment of peace. That is certainly what I’ve been doing, and loving every minute of it.
Here in the U.S. we have a holiday weekend coming up. Consider putting social media in timeout for the weekend…to just relax and enjoy living in the moment. Try enjoying real, live socialization with friends and family, or get out in nature for a solo walk. Enjoy some introspection, read a book or watch some fireworks. Often, life is better when you live it unplugged!!!!
Enjoy the peace!
Do you know the word “tincture”? If you are familiar with herbal remedies, you may…but often, people I speak with have never heard the word. That’s unfortunate because it is a great way to use herbs .
If you have ever seen an herbed vinegar (a fancy decanter of vinegar with a sprig of tarragon perhaps), then you have seen a tincture. Typically, the idea behind a tincture is that you extract the medicinal (and culinary) goodness out of your herbs into either alcohol or vinegar (you can also use vegetable glycerin if you want something for children).
I typically use alcohol for stinky herbs (ones that don’t taste very good in teas) or for a blend that I will use for more of an acute issue. I use vinegar for more tonic herbs…something I might want to take daily and even incorporate into my food.
So, how does one make a tincture you ask? It’s very simple. Get yourself a mason jar, add a bunch of dried herbs, and then fill it up with either vodka or a good apple cider vinegar (ACV). You can also use rum or brandy….the higher the alcohol % the better. Seal it up and set it on your counter. Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources. Let it sit for several weeks (3-6), gently inverting to mix every couple days. The longer you let it sit, the stronger your tincture will be. When you’re ready, strain out the herbs and you put the liquid into a nice container. I like to use a bottle with a dropper for alcohol tinctures and a vinegar cruet for vinegar tinctures.
So what will you tincture? You could start with a nice culinary vinegar, since most culinary herbs do have medicinal properties. Basil, garlic & thyme with ACV is delicious and it’s antibacterial & antiviral.
Do you have a nice herbal remedy tea blend? Tea is a great way to take herbs, but when you are traveling or unable to easily make tea, a tincture is a great option. Take a small jar, add in a bunch of your loose tea, then add vodka or vinegar to cover. Let sit, strain and enjoy!!
Don’t get too caught up in amounts. Fill the jar about ½ full of herbs then fill with liquid...if you want a stronger product, fill the jar ¾ with herbs. It’s all good! Just get it in the jar ASAP so you have your tincture ready when you need it!
Meditation is nothing more than mindfulness. We can turn any activity into a meditation if we simply do it in a very mindful way. This means concentrating on the task at hand and experiencing the moment with all of our senses. When we do this, we find that our brain is focused on the here and now…letting thoughts of past and future subside. You can do this washing your hands – feel the temperature of the water, smell the soap, see the suds being created, hear the water running into the sink, notice if the smell of the soap brings with it a slight taste. It may only last for 30 seconds, but this is a form of meditation.
Now imagine the same thing occurring over a cup of tea; hear the sound of the pouring of the tea, see the color of the tea, feel the warmth of your cup in your hands, smell the aroma of the tea, taste the tea…take the time to really appreciate each sense…repeat. Notice the feel of your body as you drink your tea; notice how you are sitting, if you are relaxed, feel the warmth running down your throat into your belly. Resist the urge to check your phone or make a to-do list, simply sit in the present moment, doing nothing but enjoy your tea. Thoughts may pop up, just let them go. You can think about those things later. Right now, you are simply in the moment…lingering over the details of your tea.
This is a simple practice that can be done for 1 minute, 5 minutes, 20 minutes or an hour. Practice sitting still…in silence…in the present moment. This helps calm your mind, center your soul and bring you to a feeling peace.
Start slow. Use fruit juice if that entices you more than tea. Find a way to make this practice your own. Reap the benefits of this simple, but effective mindfulness meditation.
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.