We all want to be happy. We pursue happiness.
We all want to be comfortable in our bodies. For many this means weight loss, and we pursue that as well.
Have you ever considered that you are pursuing the wrong thing?
We so often search for happiness in money, possessions or in our significant other. Sometimes we search for it in substances or shallow relationships.
We so often search for weight loss in fad diets and unhealthy behaviors.
And sometimes, we get what we are searching for… But does it last? Is it really what is best for us? Did we get it in a holistic and fulfilling manner?
What if, instead of pursuing happiness, we pursued a meaningful life?
What if, instead of pursuing weight loss, we pursued healthy, balanced living?
Living a meaningful life will lead to happiness. Happiness is one of the many benefits of living your values. Fundamental happiness…from the core of your being.
Living a healthy, balanced life will lead to a healthy body (and if you are overweight, it will lead to weight loss). A healthy body is one of the many benefits of living a holistic lifestyle. Fundamental, healthy, well-being…
Take a moment to look at what you are pursuing.
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 -
Something about this time of year always makes me want to purge my belongings, simplify, get rid of all the excess stuff. I am inspired by The Minimalists, Joshua Becker (from Becoming Minimalist) and my friend Diane, who is writing a blog series on decluttering (check it out here).
I do truly find that neat, uncluttered surroundings make me feel more comfortable. I do not feel at home in the midst of chaos and clutter. I prefer my sanctuary, my home, to be filled with things I love, but not to the point that it’s busting at the seams. I have spent years trying to find a balance of having things I love, but not too many. I used to have many more tchotchkes in my house. If I saw something and liked it, I wanted it, I bought it. But then I realized I had so much stuff, that even in a pristine state, my house was almost cluttery. So then, when just 1 or 2 things were out of place, it tipped the scale to feeling cluttered. Over the years I have slowly but surely purged many of my possessions and given away a lot of stuff. When I think of how much money I spent on that stuff, I get a little nauseous.
But even after years of attempting to simplify, and many big bouts of decluttering, it seems stuff always finds a way back into my house. Don't get me wrong, my house is still pretty clutter-free by most standards. However, it still feels like a never ending battle. Why? Mostly, I blame Amazon.com! LOL – seriously. That 1-click, free shipping with prime is my downfall! Okay, it’s not just amazon, it’s Thredup (an online used clothing store), Target.com, Wayfair and it’s facebook ads showing me things I didn’t even know I needed! We live in a very consumer driven society, and the internet puts a whole world of shopping right at my fingertips. Sometimes I’ve hit buy before I even really think about whether I need it or not..or what I'm even going to do with it. And may family is no help! Last night we were talking about an underwater camera for an upcoming vacation. Within moments my daughter had some pulled up on Amazon and my husband was saying “just buy it”. In this instance I was the voice of reason; "Wait…I think we need to think about this purchase for, oh I don’t know, more than the 5 minutes it took to scroll to a decent priced option with good ratings!!" I managed to press the pause button on that purchase! Yea me!
Then, later in the evening, I was reading through some facebook posts that I follow from my favorite inspirational minimalist people and I found one that spoke to me. (and then I proceeded to lose my place and now I can’t find it! ) Grrr. Sometimes Facebook and my phone don’t play nice. Anyway, I think it was from Joshua Becker, but it could have been someone else (sorry if I’m giving the wrong person credit for this)…but it was a post about The 30 Day Shopping List. It is an idea to curb these impulse purchases. The idea is that if you see something you would like to buy, but it’s not something you absolutely need, you put in on a list, and revisit it in 30 days. If you still want it, go ahead and purchase it…but often by then the excitement about the item will have waned, you will have had time to really consider whether or not it will bring you a benefit and chances are, you will chose not to make the purchase. Honestly, I can’t tell you how often a package arrives at my house and neither my husband nor I can even remember what it is. How bad could we want it if we already forgot we ordered it just 2 days ago?
I don’t know if 30 days is really the best number. I’m afraid I could talk myself out of using the tool by rationalizing that it may not be available in 30 days. Even a 1 or 2 days would be plenty. Often all we need is just a little time gap to stop the impulsive purchase.
As I sit here, I think maybe a 2 day rule is good enough for me. I know how my mind works…too much time and I will buy it anyway for reasons stated above. Too little time and I will justify the purchase by telling myself I know I’m still going to want it tomorrow, so why waste the time. My plan then, is this… If I consider purchasing something, I will write it down in my planner. I will revisit the item in a couple of days and see how I feel about it then. I expect most of the things I think about buying, I will not buy in the end. I expect this tool will work well for me because I'm primarily an online shopper.
Does anyone have a similar trick they use to curb impulse buys when out shopping in the real world? I would love to hear about them.
Wish me luck with the 2 Day Shopping List! Try it yourself and let me know how it works for you!
PS – It also occurs to me how blessed I am that this is my problem. I have access to more than I need and would like to stop consuming so much. This is clearly a 1st World problem. I feel a little embarrassed to think about how so many in the world struggle for basic needs, live in war torn countries, struggle with disease and death…and here, I am so blessed, that
having too much is my problem. Remembering this on a daily basis is also a great way to avoid buying stuff I don’t need.
I am spoiling myself this December, which I try to do every year. So many people find this time of year stressful; and it can be, if you don’t start early and make an intention not to stress out!
Every year, I schedule vacation time around the holidays. Sometimes a few days before Christmas, sometimes it’s the time between Christmas and the New Year. This year it’s both! I find having a little down time, to relax and spend time by myself really sets me up to enjoy a stress free holiday season…which allows me to really cherish my time with friends and family!
I am currently sitting by the Christmas tree, drinking a cup of tea, listening to Christmas music and writing this blog. I can’t tell you how happy and spoiled this makes me feel. During this time off, I am being productive. I am doing laundry, blending tea for customers, working on my business plans for 2016 and more; but I am doing those things in between reading a good book, watching cheesy Christmas movies, journaling, meditating and doing yoga. I have this time to myself because the final gifts were purchased and wrapped days ago, the only task left is to grocery shop for Christmas dinner, which I will do tomorrow.
Do I feel a little guilty sharing this with you? Absolutely not! Because if you are one of the many people who are stressed out and feeling overwhelmed, I hope that I inspire you to do something different next year. It’s not difficult, it’s all about planning. The holidays come every year…it shouldn’t be a surprise. Don’t wait until they are upon us before you start to prepare.
I wish you the best for the remainder of this year and I am looking forward to all the possibilities 2016 will bring!
I am a self- improvement, self-development, be a better person than you were yesterday, contemplate the spirituality of life and lifelong learning junkie. I fully admit it, and as a matter of fact, I love that about me. I have come across many valuable nuggets of information over the years…ideas that have seeded in my brain to slowly grow into life altering paradigm shifts and simple ways of understanding myself better.
I saw this picture on facebook today and felt called to write about it. This concept is probably the most valuable concept I’ve come across in my own path of self-growth. The idea that what we see in the world and in others is really a reflection of our self, is a life changing concept. How? With just a little analysis of how we think, judge and define the world, we can begin to learn a great amount about ourselves…and then use that knowledge to become the person we want to be! Want some examples?
Think of someone that has a quality you admire. Maybe a friend of yours is generous with her time, she volunteers hours of her time every week to a charity organization and you admire her for her generosity and compassion. Maybe your brain stops there…you admire her, that’s why she’s your friend. You clearly have a generous and compassionate heart also; otherwise you would not be able to recognize those characteristics in her. Maybe you are comfortable with your contributions to the world and all is well. You just learned a little about yourself.
But maybe you feel that you don’t have the same opportunity to demonstrate those qualities because you have a full time job and family responsibilities. Maybe you feel guilty that you didn’t even make the time last week to drop off your clothing donation to the homeless shelter. Again, you clearly have a generous and compassionate heart, but because there is some negativity in your judgments, there is surely a larger lesson underneath. If this were me (and since I’m writing this, there is a good chance it was), I would set aside some time to journal or meditate on what is going on in my mind. I may consider how good it feels when I donate my time to charity. I may consider my priorities regarding how I spend my time…maybe I could spend more time doing charitable work or maybe something else is a higher priority. Or, am I feeling guilty because I’m unjustly comparing myself to someone else? Maybe I’m simply not giving myself credit for all the things I do to support various programs and groups. As I take a closer look at what generosity and compassion mean to me, I will start to see how that is impacting my thoughts and judgments. I can either change how I prioritize my time so that I can do more, or I can simply acknowledge that I’m doing all I can do right now and understand that life is not a competition. I am generous and compassionate….it may just look a little different on me than on her; and that’s okay!
So, that was an easy example. Now let’s think of something negative. Maybe you have an acquaintance that really drives you nuts. Maybe he has no sense of responsibility, doesn’t pay his bills because he doesn’t want to work, he looks to others to bail him out of hot water (including you)…and this drives you insane! Why? Because, you are always responsible. You went to college, you have a full time career, you have always taken care of your responsibilities and you would freak out if you couldn’t pay a bill, taking on secondary work if needed. Off the top of my head, I can think of 5 different people that have come into my life over the years that, to some degree, fit this example. I didn’t see myself in these people at all, as a matter of fact I resented them. Hmmm, l bet there’s a lesson here.
Now keep in mind, my perception is not truth, it’s a reflection of me. So, what I think I see in all of these people is possibly not the exact truth…maybe one of them was just immature at the time and eventually grew into his responsibility. Maybe one learned from an abusive relationship not to trust himself, and copes with this self-doubt by leaning heavily on others. Maybe one lost a loved one early in life and unconsciously decided not to waste precious time on responsibilities. Bottom line, their truth is probably very different than my perception.
But regardless of what the truth is, how is what I see in them a reflection of me? I’m ultra-uber-responsible…right? This idea is clearly nonsense. But probably not…
The truth is, if I react so negatively to this idea on irresponsibility, it must be in me somewhere; I just don’t admit it! This is one of my shadows…an unconscious part of my personality that my ego completely denies. At some point in my life, I learned that responsibility is good, and irresponsibility is bad. I learned to stop identifying with the irresponsibility in my nature. It’s not that it doesn’t exist, I just don’t admit it. This doesn’t mean I should run out and quit my job, but recognizing that this exists in me, allows me to experiment with letting go of responsibility. It is freeing for me to let go of control every now and then…recognizing this shadow reflected back at me has been a gift.
In all honesty, this is much easier to see in someone else…we all know someone that seems to think they are positive when they complain non-stop, or someone who would never admit they are angry, even though anger exudes from their pores. It may be easier to see other people’s shadows, but until you start looking at your own (reflected right back at you in the people around you) you cannot grow. Keep your eyes open and pay attention to what you are seeing in the world!! If you can identify something in the world, it in some way exists in you.
Wow, what seems like a simple concept is very complex. Play with it, contemplate it, journal about it…use it as a tool to learn more about yourself! The more you know about you, the easier it is to live in a manner that makes you happy.
Wow. This time of year I am overwhelmed with the number of catalogs I get in the mail and the sale emails delivered to my inbox. I understand companies want to make some sales, but it doesn’t have to be at the cost of the environment or our sanity (useless emails drive me insane)!
Catalogs – if you too are bombarded with catalogs this time of year (or all year long), check out this handy website for getting off the mailing lists:
For the next week, save up your catalogs and then sit down with this website and enter in the information from each catalog. Or, if shorter stints online are more appealing, do it every day. Keep at it, and eventually the catalogs will stop.
Inbox – some companies send so many emails I want to boycott them for annoying me so. Instead, the key is being diligent about unsubscribing. Personally, I know I get so many emails because I keep giving my email address out. I’m a sucker for “give us your email and get access to our webinar on a topic we aren’t even going to discuss, I just want to sell you something”. Okay, if they really worded it that way, I probably wouldn’t give them my email. But they always make the webinars sound so interesting…
I also do a lot of online shopping because I don’t have the time or desire to walk around endless stores trying to find what I’m looking for. Every time I order something, I get on their email list and become the target for their email invasion!
When an annoying email comes in, it’s easiest to just delete it. But that doesn’t solve the issue. The only way to decrease the endless barrage of emails is to take the time to unsubscribe, every time I receive one of these unwanted messages. Sure it’s a pain, but after a couple of weeks of diligence, the emails really do quiet down.
Do you need to declutter your inbox and mailbox. Give it a try…be persistent…and it will pay off!
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.
People often ask me for healthy and simple meal ideas. One of my favorites is Nicoise salad, because it is mostly plant-based, easy to throw together with just a little forethought, it’s filling and easily modifiable.
Let start with the classic version:
Greens, dressed with a simple mixture of lemon, white wine vinegar, mustard and olive oil.
Boiled egg, sliced or quartered.
Small boiled potatoes.
Blanched Green beans.
Olives and/or radishes.
As is, it is a delicious salad, full of veggies, protein, a little starch and a lot of deliciousness. However, for those of us who like to push the rules, there are several variations you can make within these basic guidelines of this delicious salad. Here are a few suggestions:
Greens – get creative. Why use just one lettuce type? You could use green leaf lettuce, bib lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, beat greens, kale, romaine, arugula or any combination of these.
Egg- it could be hard boiled, soft boiled, poached or even fried (over easy or sunny side up).
Boiled potatoes – use left over baked potato, saute some with onion or use cubed sweet potato.
Beans – try blanched asparagus, broccoli or snow peas.
Tuna – good canned tuna will work, or you could use slices of seared sushi grade tuna or even some leftover salmon.
Tomatoes – quartered or chucked tomatoes are the norm, but you could use grape tomatoes or a yellow heirloom variety.
Olive/Radishes – there are lots of varieties to choose from for both of these. You could also slice cooked beets, or use sliced raw turnip.
For the dressing you can zest it up with garlic, thyme, parsley, basil or use lime juice instead of lemon.
I bet you already thought of some other options I didn’t even mention. Any combination of these will create a similar, but unique version of this classic salad; all very healthy and delicious. Try one this week and let me know what you think about it! Inspire me!
Here's to healthy and delicious meals!!!
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
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.