Slaying the Sugar Dragon: The Whole30 Adventure Begins

via @sugarhouseworkshop on Instagram
Sugar is a huge crutch for me. I use it when I feel tired and need a pick-me-up. I use it when I want to celebrate. I use it when I’m feeling low and want to feel happier. And I use it when I want to numb difficult emotions.

But sugar is a fair weather friend.

It actually doesn’t make me happier. For a brief tasty moment, sure. But not in the long term.

Folks, the truth is, sugar isn’t good for us. It acts like a drug in the body and alters our brain activity. (You can learn more about that in this excellent lecture from  University of California professor Dr. Robert Lustig). I’m coming to terms with just how differently I behave when under the sugar spell. Verdict? Not good. Sometimes I feel like I’m of literally two minds when I act out or say something I don’t mean to. I’ve been asking myself much too frequently these days, Where did that come from??

I’m ready to be my better self. And that means slaying the sugar dragon. To help, I’ve enlisted the support of a program called Whole30 which outlines how to eat for 30 days in order to disrupt food addictions and make other positive changes.

For the next 30 days (the 30 part of Whole30) I won’t be eating any added sugars whatsoever. In addition, I won’t be eating grains, dairy, beans, legumes, or alcohol. What will I be eating? Lots and lots of vegetables, meat, and fruit.

It’s the perfect time to try going “clean.” (If there is such a thing as a perfect time). Tons of fresh produce is available now in our region and we have an abundance of local organic options for veggies and fruits. I’m getting into cooking more and what better way to be in control of what I consume than to cook it myself!

The success of this experiment will be determined in large part to how I feel physicially, mentally and emotionally on July 20 but also in how I manage my preparation for meals and handle carvings. I’m not going to fault myself for feeling out of control but I do want to set myself up to never feel deprived. Overall, I’m treating this next month as an experiment more than a diet. 

I’m eager to see how I feel after the change in food consumption and to see what “non scale victories” arise for me. The originators of the Whole30 encourage people not to use their weight or a scale to determine their “success” but rather to focus on other wins they might experience during or after the 30 days. I’m curious and hopeful that the next month will help improve these persistent and nagging symptoms:

  • Low energy
  • Brain fog
  • Sugar addiction
  • Ashy skin
  • Dehydration
  • Irritability
  • Slow mental processing
  • Poor concentration
  • Sluggishness
  • Bloating
  • Slow circulation 
  • Numbness

It takes courage to change a deeply held habit and truthfully, I’m scared. I must learn and relearn tools for coping with life, with difficult feelings, with difficult people. I can’t blindly turn to my sugar friend and expect to feel “good.”

What is “good” anyway? What happens if we don’t take the time to be with what is?

In the wake of the Orlando tragedy I read some of the truest words about hate and fear and violence from a DJ named Tasha Black:

The underlying condition of violence is the belief that we are separate.

And paradoxically, in order to touch the place where we are most deeply connected with others, we have to go to the centerpoint of ourselves. 

If we want to deal with the root cause of fear, we have to go to the place where love lives: the place we actually are.
The center point in me, that place where true love lives is right now heavily guarded by a terrifying dragon. To heal myself and begin helping the world to heal I must slay that inner dragon and free the best parts of me.

I’ve got a plan, I’ve got support…I’m ready to go! To the place where love lives.

Two years!


On June 14th Simeon and I celebrate our second anniversary!

Two years ago we flew out to California and said our “I dos” in front of our closest friends and family. It was magical. Absolutely magical.

One year later Eli, our son, was born. And here we are this year with an almost one-year old! Which begs the question, what will next year bring?

To be married was always a goal of mine. And now to be beyond the first year and it’s associated honeymoon phase is quite something. I am proud of my marriage and happy to be where I am in our relationship. While I’ve been considering our two-year milestone I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something related: what is marriage really for?

Today, modern men and women no longer need to be married (though of course, this is up for debate); certainly many more couples choose not to marry than ever before.

In centuries past, marriage was critically important for political and economic reasons. It was the only way families and communities could be viable. And still to this day, any sociologist will argue that at the core of our political and economic viability is the marriage institution.

So, when two people stand together in front of their community and commit themselves to one another and the family they create together, what is it they are committing to exactly? And more curiously, why?

This is something I’m still pondering; I would love to share more thoughts with you about my answer soon. In the meantime, I’m going to go celebrate two solid years with my hubby with some good food and good drink.

While I go do that, enjoy some of these fun photos from our wedding. All shots by superb photographer, Heather Elizabeth.




Model the Work First


At WholeHeart, we help folks find new portals for accessing their innermost wisdom. Whether that looks like discovering new tools for self authorship, or finding ways to become more mindful in work and life, we use particular methods and activities to shepherd people towards their own homecoming.

It’s vital to this work we do that we model the work ourselves.

There are many pithy sayings that speak to this. You may have recently heard some:
+ Be the change you want to see.
+ Teach what you want to learn.
+ Put your oxygen mask on first before assisting another.

Implicit to this is that we are using the tools on ourselves and actively engaged in a search for our own inner wise woman.

In a WholeHeart workshop, there is always time made for spaciousness. We make sure to offer participants an opportunity–or two or three–to explore deep parts of themselves by scheduling in open spaces and open time. Both have the desired effect of loosening the knitted knots in one’s heart. We never try to pull or tug someone into a place of renewal. How absurd! To use force to move someone into a state of grace? And yet, how many times have we fallen into the habit of letting the inner Drill Sergeant control how we come home to ourselves? You can’t command peace. You must allow it.

The question then becomes, what do I need to do to be in a state of allowing?

Ah. That’s the work. That’s what my colleagues and I must model. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should actively process our personal stuff in front of others. More so, when I have gone to the deep places in myself from doing my inner work,  I can go to deep places with you, too. If I take time to be quiet and listen for what arises, I won’t be afraid of what you might discover in your stillness and you will be more trusting of what you might discover inside yourself, too. As a guide, I can share what I’ve uncovered during my journey but more importantly, as a facilitator, I can be trusted with yours.

To teach is to learn. To show is to go. To model the work I must be willing to navigate what’s uncharted in myself so that I can show you my map and help you find your own way home.

As You Are

as_you_are.pngLast night I spent an unnecessary amount of time scrolling through my Facebook photo albums. Honestly, I can’t even remember what prompted it. But the visual reminder of people I’ve known, places that I’ve been, and memories I hold dear was somehow soothing.

More to the point, I came to realize how much my perspective has shifted in the 10 years since I posted those first photos. Who I am now and how I see the world is in some ways radically different. And it should be! This isn’t a “Eureka, I’ve discovered that things change!” kind of thing. I mean, obviously, right?

More so it’s a joy to discover how much compassion I have for the 20 year-old who just wanted to find her way. And the 21 year-old who was brave enough to test out a few paths. And the 22 year-old who adventured onto one that changed her entire life. And the me in all the years from then until this point looking back.

I wonder what the me in 10 years time will see and believe about me now? Compassion, certainly. And I hope, pride too.


Currenty []

Finding pockets of time to check in with my workload

Cherishing the last coaching training session with my cohort

Watching my baby make faces, sleep, eat, dream, squeak, and stare

Taking family walks in the evenings

Viewing Netflix nightly. If you haven’t seen the documentary TIG yet, see it!

Trying to become adept at doing things one handed…and learning but mostly failing (hence Netflix)

Reading All the Light We Cannot See (just finished it and I highly recommend it!)

Eating food from friends’ farms and relishing the high quality, delicious products we have such easy access to

Planning multiple get-aways for the winter and feeling very, very happy about it (yay for friends getting married!)

Making progress on my knitting goal

Drinking so. much. water.

Listening to new music: The Staves, Ben Howard, and Bear’s Den

An Almost-Mother’s Day

I had no plans to celebrate Mother’s Day other than celebrating the mamas in my life, but it turned out to be extra special nonetheless.

We spent an easy day doing things we love. Sim went ramp picking with a colleague and when the guys came back they moved our new king size bed frame upstairs where I unpacked the parts. We hung out enjoying the warm spring air and laughing at the cat’s antics before heading out to Montpelier for the remainder of the day.

We had planned to get Sim a haircut and go grocery shopping (fun to do when you’re a foodie!) but when we realized the salon was closed we opted for iced coffees and newspaper read instead.

And well, since we were already in town, why not take in a movie and go out to dinner too? So we went with the flow and bought tickets to the new Avengers flick–in 3D no less!

First, a stop at a small candy boutique down the street to pick up some goodies and a stroll through the block and we were on our way to the theater. After the movie we finished our shopping errands and ended the night at our favorite Thai place in town. Of course a couple other Sterling College folks were dining out too and I remembered why I love living in rural places where you really do get the feeling you know everyone.

I so enjoyed spending time with Sim, just us two, knowing that soon it will be “us three” and there won’t be a lot of quiet time to simply be with one another, spontaneously, effortlessly.

It was a perfect Almost-Mother’s Day. Thank you, Sim, for making it and every day special.

Self care rituals.

With the harried days of working two jobs and long hours, sometimes self-care has taken the back burner in favor of say…sleep. Ok, and reading blogs. But mostly sleep.

But recently, my friend Jana invited me and a few other friends over for a fun evening and it was altogether kind of, well, amazingly soothing!

We got together to laugh, commiserate, share stories and plan futures. But most of all, to do facials! To get the process started we enjoyed a hot steam that included calendula, rose and other healing flowers.

photo 3

Yes, that’s me waving. Ha.

We followed that up with a French green clay mask mixed with honey and rose water. Luscious.

photo 5While we waited for the clay to dry we enjoyed gluten-free cake I baked for the occasion. If your going to try this at home, don’t leave this step out. The cake is crucial.

When the clay dried, some of us enjoyed peeling off the pieces bit by bit. Perhaps a little too much…

photo 4

After rinsing off the mask, we lathered on non-toxic lotion and admired each other’s glow.

It was such a great night – not least of all because of how relaxed and nourished I felt.  Later, Jana and I commented to each other about how important it is to take time to enjoy, honor and respect our bodies. Creating fun communal rituals like our recent facials night encourages us to keep it up even when we get busy.

Do you have any tried and true self care rituals?