Gratitude for a dead car battery

For those just tuning in, let me give you the Reader’s Digest version: 3 years ago when my husband and I left full-time ministry, we left behind all security and stability we had in our lives (home, cars, retirement, furniture, benefits, etc). We had our personal possessions and six months severance in our pockets. This didn’t come as a shock, we knew what we were leaving behind and had planned for our “get out and start over as brand-new adults” strategy, but there wasn’t an extra cent to be had.

Then the pandemic shut the world down. At that time, my husband had a job that was essential and I was still able to operate my business. Because my business was literally six weeks old when we were all at home, I didn’t qualify (business-wise) for grants or loans made available to small businesses. I had applied for over 50 business grants that first year. Not a penny. The one bright side, because the money coming into my business was keeping the business running, I wasn’t paying myself and qualified for pandemic unemployment (not immediately as there were A LOT of hoops to jump through being self employed to get started).

That was 2020.

2021 was a year of growth. I got my ducks in a row with some great coaching, branded, and started bringing multiple revenue streams into my business outside of 1:1 client care. Husband got a new job after working a temporary job (he had left trucking in favor of being home) that was perfect for him. We got by.

2022 was centered to start out with a bang…and it did, just not in the way we anticipated. My husband got Covid and was out of work for 10 days. He doesn’t receive paid time off (this is literally the only downside of his job–he loves it so much). While it doesn’t seem like much, this financially devastated us for a time. The snowball from that missed income hit our household hard. We didn’t talk about this much publicly.

But, 2022 was also a year of MASSIVE growth in my business. More revenue streams, consistent client base, and truly establishing myself in the niche of people I serve. We recovered from hubby’s covid hit, but it took the rest of the year. One of the big milestones was getting transportation (a motorcycle) for my husband, which freed up time that I didn’t need to get him to and from work (and when you do the math, ended up saving us money for what it cost just in vehicle expenses to chauffer him).

Q1 of 2023 has my head spinning from momentum. My revenue streams are flourishing and my client base is consistent, stable, and growing. I am not a one-woman show anymore. I have the ability to hire independent contractors to take some of the workload off my shoulders. Personally, we have an emergency fund, savings, a complete package of benefits I’ve put together for us, we’re on track to finish paying the small amount of debt accrued in 2022 by the end of the year, we are stable enough for my husband to take a week off of work for a vacation to come with me to California next month while I do some business, and we’re able to make a few larger purchases–like a new insulin pump for my husband (even with insurance, not cheap!).

Now, fast forward to today. I walked out of the house before dawn to meet with a client and then teach a class. My car wouldn’t start. The battery was dead. I mean, dead dead. Not even my jumper pack dealie could pump any life into it to at least get it started for me to limp it to teach my class and then the auto parts store.

I was upset (don’t mess with my schedule), but I came in the house and (not so calmly) got a substitute out of bed to take my class and waited for AAA battery service. The technician arrived, did his thing, changed my battery, I handed him my debit card, and went on with the day. My biggest anxiety was hoping not to miss my 10am appointment for my annual mammogram.

As I was driving to the hospital this morning, I had a lightbulb moment and a wave of gratitude washed over me. Had this happened in 2021 or 2022 and I walked out and my car didn’t start, I would’ve had a meltdown. I would’ve sent myself into a panic attack trying to figure out how to pay for it and played the “what if” game for far too long.

But my battery died today. I was upset to miss a class (because the participants are awesome and I love teaching it), but I didn’t bemoan the missing income from those few hours. I was able to hand over my debit card to pay for a new battery without batting an eye. I didn’t have to go play financial jenga or figure out what we would have to do without in order to get our vehicle on the road.

I just went on with life.

The gratitude (and tears) came when I reflected on the morning and realized that this morning wasn’t the end of the world (as it used to feel when these things cropped up). We’re stable. We’re secure. The future is bright and abundant. I was able to see that and experience that peace firsthand today.

If you go back in this blog, you’ll find where I talked about God paving the path for us to leave full-time ministry and start over at breakneck speed–far faster than in our humanness we planned to exit. Even in the hard times over the last few years, we have been faithful–and He has been faithful to us.

While the reward is much greater for eternity, we are absolutely reaping the benefits of our faith here on earth. Life’s a wild ride.

Why do I tell this story? Because it matters. I’m in the wellness business. I serve people body, mind, and soul on a daily basis. Financial wellness plays into our holistic wellness. It affects stress, hormones, blood pressure, sleep, ability and accessibility to care, nutrition, mental health and more.

If there’s an area of wellness that you’re struggling, no, you’re not alone. But we can work together to change things for your whole being. Not sure where to turn for what you need? I’m here for it. Let’s chat.

Daith Piercings for Migraines

This particular blog is going to be a living document–I’m going to be coming back an updating it over time with my own experiences and some of the research for, neutral, and against so others can have a resource in making a decision if this might be a migraine mitigation or severity altering possibility for you. (*Contents of this post is not individual medical advice. It is my own anecdotal evidence and external links are provided for further educational reading.)

I have suffered migraines since I was in college. It took about 10-12 years (yes, years) to settle into a cocktail of medication management that worked for me. It got bad…in my late 20s/early 30s, I would get about 3 migraines a week. I take a daily meditation that’s secondary use had been shown to help prevent migraines (it’s primary use is a seizure medication). I also take a “rescue” medication that dissolves under my tongue at the onset of a migraine that usually knocks it out, but if needed, I can take a second dose 2 hours later. I rarely get migraines of that severity, but the downside is–two doses in 24-hrs is the max. Once I’ve taken it, I’m stuck in pain if that doesn’t shut it down.

I rarely get migraines that last beyond that point–and if I do, that’s when I’m in bed. Occasionally there were times when the pain was so bad that I would have to go to the emergency room, and they would do an IV with all kinds of goodies…but with the state of our healthcare system and wait times, I’d rather save my $350 emergency room insurance copay and call a mobile IV to get the same treatment without a wait and exposure to other illnesses at a fraction of the cost.

I’m also blessed that probably 90% of my migraines are functional…I don’t get auras or nausea. Beyond the excruciating pain, the most common symptom for me is sound sensitivity, but that’s something I’m easily able to control in my environment for the most part without too much interruption to life.

Knowing migraine triggers is a big thing–and mine are varied, took years to narrow down, and sometimes feels like a game of Whack-a-Mole to land on which triggers set off the landmine. Barometric pressure changes, sinus issues (I’ve had chronic sinus issues for years, so if I’m not feeling well and it hits my sinuses and isn’t resolved quickly…forget it, that sinus headache is headed for full-blown migraine), nitrates (I have found that I can have some, but haven’t found that magic threshold…basically no more than one meal in a 24 hour period–so if I have a hot dog for dinner, I can’t have lunch meat on a sandwich for lunch the next day), MSG (contrary to popular belief, this only affects 2-3% of the population…MSG gets an unnecessary bad wrap, but that’s another story for another day), white wine (which is interesting, because it’s usually red wine that is a migraine trigger for most…I handle red wine jusssttt finnneeee), and increased stress.

Is avoiding triggers a perfect science? No. We don’t live in a bubble. It doesn’t work that way, and since mine are food, environmental, and socioemotional, sometimes it’s just the perfect storm I can’t control. I am aware of my triggers in every day life, and in addition to medication, also ensure that I eat a vast and varied diet that supports my overall health and take some other supplements that help with muscle relaxation and recovery to give my body a fighting chance.

Now, back to the daith piercing. This had been recommended to me for years by people that had it done and swore it helped them, but the scientific evidence doesn’t really push in its favor (I’ll be linking more here soon about that). I’m not surprised, as this is not a medical treatment–with the type of holistic medicine that piercings fall into, while older than much of western medicine–it’s harder to place within the constructs of evidentiary studies.

The majority of what I read for years crossed the spectrum of “yes, in some cases people do see an improvement of frequency and intensity of migraines” to “it’s bullshit science.” One thing that recently came on my radar was the idea of daith piercings making migraines worse–this is something that I had not seen much on either in personal accounts or scholarly works, until I took a dive using biased search terms (purposely looking for negative outcomes). When I had asked my physician about it, she didn’t nix the idea, but she had the same on-the-fence feelings I started with…”well, maybe…”

Remember when I said that I’m functional with most of my migraines? Earlier this month I had a migraine that knocked me on my rear–literally. I was in bed for two and half days, maxed out all the medications I could take, got a mobile IV, and was still in excruciating pain with no relief. This is not a common migraine for me. I couldn’t pinpoint the trigger…I settled on it possibly being some dental work I had the day before it started jostling my head in just the right way to get my sinuses and everything irritated (sometimes you don’t get a perfect answer). My migraines have also increased in frequency and intensity over the last 6-9 months…I’m not sure if it’s the result of a good monsoon season or what, but the trend isn’t pretty and I’m not particularly interested in playing medication roulette again or increasing dosages because of the load it puts on my body.

After being not functional for three days, I decided that I really had nothing to lose in trying a daith piercing and made an appointment for the following weekend–and as added bonus I had a residual headache the ENTIRE week. I don’t even know how to put into words what it’s like to be in pain that you can’t make go away despite any effort for an extended period of time (and don’t come at me about living with chronic pain–I live with joint pain daily from an autoimmune condition, I’ve got the baseline of pain to start with).

The piercing itself hurt like hell–I’m not going to sugar coat that. The piercer that I saw at a reputable and recommended tattoo establishment was experienced and did an incredible job–she timed it well with some deep breathing so that even though it hurt a lot, that wave of pain was over quickly (the pain doesn’t last and it’s a fast process). It was pretty uncomfortable then when she put the earring in because that’s a little wiggly process and closing the hinges on it, but not intolerable. I didn’t check my watch, but I was about 10 minutes early for my appointment and am pretty sure I left just a few minutes after my appointment time–and that was with the piercer giving an apprentice a few tips and talking through things while she did my piercing (with my permission–I’m all about people learning!).

My only mistake was not eating enough before I went in. I had a full day up to that point and had eaten breakfast at like 6:30am and my appointment was 2:45pm and I hadn’t eaten anything since, so when I was in the grocery store immediately after, I could tell that I was a little spacy and definitely needed to get home quickly and get some food into me.

I had a little soreness that afternoon that a couple ibuprofen took care of and then I was fine, and haven’t taken anything since. The first night and the next morning it was a little sensitive when I cleaned it, but it doesn’t really bother me now to clean it. I’m a side sleeper and it took me a few nights to turn my head that way, but after the first couple, I think it was more fear than anything–the earring is tucked in well and doesn’t push on anything if you lay on your side–last night (3 days later) was the first night I slept on that side for any length of time and it felt okay.

I’m super skeptical when it comes to results, because of course I want this piercing to make a difference–so I keep looking at things like, “is this true or is this a placebo?” Either way, these are the changes I see at the 3 day point:

  • Immediate headache relief. Remember I said going into the appointment I had a residual headache from my last migraine that I couldn’t shake? Within 30 minutes (I think it was less, but we’ll say 30 minutes to be conservative), I was headache free and it didn’t return. Now, again…this is one of those instances where I have to wonder is it the piercing, or the placebo of “hey, you just had a painful experience from the piercing so it distracted you from the pain of the headache.”
  • Muscle relaxation. I started to notice it a bit on Sunday evening, but even more dramatically on Monday that the muscles on left side of my face, head, neck, and shoulders (I was pierced on the left) are significantly more relaxed. For YEARS I’ve struggled with extremely tight muscles in my neck and shoulders–like I can get a massage and 10 minutes later you can bounce a quarter off my scalenes and levators. If you run your hand around my neck right now, it’s bizarre–my right side is tight like usual and the muscles on the left are not constricted. (Not in a scary something’s wrong palsy way–I am able to move, use, tighten, and relax all of those muscles properly)

Update (4/30/2023)

  • Migraines have significantly decreased in frequency and intensity. I’ve only had 2-3 full blown migraines in the roughly 2 months since I’ve gotten pierced and they didn’t last more than a few hours. I’ve not had to take a second dose of migraine medicine yet. (I take Maxalt at migraine onset, you take one dose and then another 2 hours later if pain isn’t managed)
  • I’ve had several other headaches (tension and sinus) and they didn’t last long either. Usually a single dose of regular ibuprofen takes care of it.
  • The muscle relaxation on the left side of my neck and shoulders has continued–while there is some stress in those muscles, there’s still the distinct difference in tightness between sides. For this fact alone, once it’s done healing I’m getting the other side done.
  • My only complaint is my impatience in waiting for it to heal. I was told with no hesitation it takes six months (or more). I can sleep on it for longer periods, but there are some days with mild tenderness still. I am diligent about cleaning it twice a day as it still gets a little crusty and I’m paranoid about infection because I certainly don’t want to remove it with the results I’ve seen!
  • Several weeks ago, I was accepted into a clinical trial for migraines (which is amazing because I’ve been denied from more than I can count in the past). I’m still in the first 28-day observance period, so I have not changed treatment protocols yet (from what I gather this is not a pharmaceutical medication trial but rather a medical device…I’ll be getting more details as it continues).
  • Don’t regret the decision for a second.

I’m definitely interested to see what happens as time goes on, which is why I’ll continue to update this page with progress and my experiences. A daith piercing can take 4-6 months to completely heal, and some people to don’t see results/maximum results until that point. I only got one side pierced, some people choose to get both–and honestly, if the muscle relaxation appears to be a long term thing after a few months, I will absolutely go back and get the other side done because that muscle tension can contribute to migraines due to stress–if that’s something I can mitigate, I’m here for it!

Here’s some of the research (for and against) and some anecdotal (individual) experiences:

Please feel free to comment on this post and share your experiences with daith piercings–you might just help someone else make the choice for themselves!

Ditch the Diet Swap: Turmeric Tacos

Happy Taco…not just for Tuesday! Let’s be real, you can have tacos any day of the week! It’s been a minute since I’ve shared a Ditch The Diet Swap recipe, so here’s a reminder of the game–so many recipes infiltrating our eyeballs these days have “swaps” to alter recipes using ingredients to make a recipe fit into a particular diet’s schtick. My goal is to reclaim food, flavor, and remove the demonization of ingredients (for the love of cauliflower) and remind the world, one delicious meal at a time, that all foods fit.

Awhile back, I shared in my newspaper column a bit about the benefits of adding more turmeric in one’s diet. In my own personal testing and use of turmeric, I’ve come up with some great recipes and additions to meals that I’ll be sharing over time (turmeric in your coffee: yes).

Let’s get to it!


  • 1 pound ground beef (or choice of ground turkey, chicken, pork, ground plant-based alternative)
  • 1 can of Rotel (for those not in the know, it’s chiles, onion, and tomatoes) or if you’re like me and allergic to tomatoes, a can of green chile (1/2 cup fresh chopped) and 1/2 cup finely chopped mirepoix
  • 1 packet of Taco Seasoning of your choice (In a pinch–a tablespoon garlic powder, onion powder, and a teaspoon of cumin works)
  • 1 tablespoon of Fiji Joe Turmeric
  • Taco Shells of your choice
  • Toppings (lettuce, cheese, cabbage, onion, salsa, guacamole, crema, hot sauce, etc)


  • Brown ground beef (or meat of choice) until fully cooked through and drain additional fat. I use a small saucepan vs a frying/sauté pan to accommodate the next steps
  • To the meat, add the can of Rotel (or appropriate substitutes)–do not drain the Rotel! (it’s the liquid for your taco seasoning), taco seasoning, and turmeric and stir.
  • Bring to a simmer/low boil, stir, and turn heat to low to simmer
  • Preheat oven to 350 and bake taco shells for 5-7 minutes until heated through (or follow the directions for your preferred taco shells)
  • Drain excess liquid from taco meat, and serve with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Have you tried turmeric tacos yet? It gives the recipe an extra depth of flavor and savory-ness. Come back and comment with your experience!

Homemade Chicken Soup

It seems like when you’re not feeling well that chicken soup is the magical cure. There’s so many recipes and different ways to make it, so of course, I’ve got to throw my tried and true version in the mix.

It starts with homemade chicken stock. In my home (especially with the rising cost of groceries), my husband and I are conscious about food waste and making sure we use food to its fullest potential. Any roasted chicken that I prepare or rotisserie chicken from the store becomes the base for stock–aka: liquid gold.

Once we get all of the chicken off the bone from a roasted or rotisserie chicken (check out my video on the 5 recipes that come from 1 chicken!), I take our pasta pot (a giant pot with a large metal insert for draining pasta) and fill it with water and place the chicken carcass, bones, and skin into the pasta drain insert and fill the pot full of water. I add just a couple vegetables at this point–carrots, celery, and onion–very rough chopped. They’re going to get boiled through and thrown away, this isn’t the point in the soup to overload with vegetables. I like a flavorful and strong stock, and we’re garlic fans in our home, so at this stage is where there’s a LOT (probably ~20 cloves) of chopped garlic added in too. Bring the stock to a boil over medium-low heat and then turn heat down to low, simmering for another 12-36 hours (it just gets richer!). I usually go about 18-24 hours. Plus the house smells amazing. When you’re ready, strain the stock to get all of the bones, large veg, etc out so all that remains is your smooth stock. I typically get about 2-3 gallons per batch and freeze it in jars so I always have it available for cooking.

Now, onto the soup:


  • Chicken stock
  • Chicken pieces (diced or shredded, cooked)
  • Vegetables (I prefer a classic mirepoix: carrots, celery, and onion–but you can get as creative as you want), chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Noodles (Totally a preference thing, I prefer wide egg noodles, others prefer the fideo cut noodles–whatever type of pasta noodle you prefer)
  • Herbs and spices (this is totally subjective on your taste–I use a bit more garlic and fresh cracked pepper. Others like things such as parsley, thyme, dill, oregano, and others. Experiment with your favorite combo!)
  • Splash of olive oil

Notice I didn’t give you any amounts in the above ingredients…you measure that stuff with your heart, but moreover, you can make a batch as large or small as you like. I typically make about a half gallon at a time.

Placing the dutch oven on the stove, I get it hot over medium-high heat and warm the olive oil. Adding my vegetables to the hot pot, I allow them to soften for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Then I add the chicken, chicken stock, and herbs/spices and allow it to come to a boil. Reducing the heat to medium, I allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes and then add the egg noodles. Once the soup begins to boil again on medium heat with the noodles, I turn it down to low and simmer for another 2 hours. This allows all the flavors to marry and for the soup to thicken just slightly. Serve immediately or can be reheated from the fridge for a couple days….if it sticks around that long!

This is one of those dishes that while it is time consuming, doesn’t take a lot of time to babysit–you can throw it together while doing other things in between. I made a batch a couple weeks ago for our home and to bring a container to a sick friend and kept coming back to it between clients throughout the morning. And it made the house smell great and warmed us up on a colder day!

Let me know in the comments if you make it, or what some of your favorite herb and spice combinations are!

*Amazon makes me tell you that as an Amazon Associate I have the potential to earn from qualifying purchases. I have yet to, but it’s

Essential Oils to Help Through the Holidays

Overworked? Overwhelmed? Over it all?

Touted as “the most wonderful time of the year,” the holidays can also add pressure and stress to our already busy lives. They can also be reminders of loss of love and loved ones, leaving us with heavy feelings of the past. The  rising  demand  of  expectations  from  our workplace,  home  and  family  can  take  its  toll  on  health,  vitality  and  experiencing  the  simple  pleasures  that  season of life has  to  offer.  

The use of essential oils is one of the most effective ways to adapt to stress. It provides a gentle, natural  treatment and a feeling of control over their own well being, offering a sense of self empowerment and a deeper connection to one’s true nature. 

Adora Winquist, author of “Detox, Nourish, Activate: Plant and Vibrational Medicine for Energy, Mood, and Love, a modern alchemist and universally known healer who shared the following:

“These essential oils will encourage that Zen vibe,  so that when you share the sentiment “Happy Holidays” it really comes from the heart! Enjoy!”:

5 Essential Oils to Help You Through the Holidays

Peppermint – is invigorating and refreshing and perfect for a foot soak after a long day of shopping or socializing. It is an oil of strength and fortitude for the body, mind and emotions. It is also a wonderful digestive aid, especially this time of the year when our typical diet is stretched to the limits of what is agreeable to our bodies. Dilute one drop in a tablespoon of carrier oil and massage the stomach in circular motions after eating, or simply add a peppermint tea to your evening relaxation time. 

Carrot Seed – is nourishing and revitalizing. This nutrient rich aromatic  including vitamins C, A and B deeply nourishes the adrenal system and increases our resilience to stress. The warm, deep aroma is grounding, balancing and supportive to the liver which can be important this time of year with overconsumption of fats and alcohol. 

Lemon – is clarifying and uplifting. Its crisp citrus aroma clears the mind, enhances benevolent feelings and supports focus. Where our attention goes our energy flows, this makes lemon a number one aromatic feeling of overwhelm and to encourage a positive outlook. Used in massage it is wonderful for circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Lavender – is calming and soothing and generates a sense of peace. It is an excellent aromatic for tension headaches, muscular discomfort and soothing those emotional peaks and valleys all too common this time of year. You can make a spray with 15 drops of Lavender in a one ounce bottle of distilled water to mist your sheets and pillow cases before bed to drift off to a restful and restorative nights sleep. 

Frankincense – allay anxieties and deppens spiritual reflection. This is an exceptional oil of tranquility, inviting that quietude for pause and reflection that is such a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. Add this oil to your meditation or sacred intentional practice to stay centered and connected. 

Peppermint Foot Soak

Add 5 drops of Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita) and one cup of Epson Salts to a foot soak in warm water and luxuriate for twenty minutes and invigorate your feet and entire body, mind and spirit with this popular aromatic. 

Zen Hydrotherapy

4 drops of Lavender  essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

3 drops of Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carteri)

3 drops Carrot Seed essential oil (Daucus carota)

This rejuvenating bath is sure to sooth your spirit and renew your body-mind during the holidays and all seasons. Blend the essential oils above into one tablespoon of jojoba or olive oil and add to a warm bath. Increase the benefits of your hydrotherapy with one – two cups of Epsom salts. 

Cultivating a Happy Holiday Season

Clinical Psychologist, Health Service Psychologist, Adjunct Professor, a Board Certified Music Therapist, Dr. Bethany Cook shares 9 tips to a happy and less manic, Holiday Season!

  1. Gratitude Attitude – At meals, or  another appointed time, have everyone offer one thing they are grateful for; you can have categories like self, others, family, friends, nature. Studies have shown we can develop a gratitude mindset through effort and focus. When we bring to consciousness our blessings/positive aspects of life this improves our overall mental health.  The cocktail of stress hormones are replaced by the ‘love’ ones which is a win-win. 
  2. Validation Vase – As a family, design a jar/box and put small papers beside it with a pencil.  As things happen over the holidays (or throughout the year), ask family members to write down things they appreciate in others.  Read them together at predetermined times.  Hearing nice things about yourself and perhaps things you didn’t think anyone noticed, reinforces a sense of self within the family system. 
  3. Map the Holiday Months- Include not only dates for dinners but mark off time for shopping, couples time, alone time, etc. The holidays get mental and before you know it you’re overwhelmed and stressed. No one benefits. Add a budget to this map. Carve out 1-2 hours to talk about budgets, gifts, where to buy them, who will get them, who will watch the kids, etc. then stick to the map. Any diversions should be shared and pre approved if possible. Life is moving at the pace of the autobahn and one wrong turn or sudden break could derail those you are trying most to please. 
  4. ‘No Pressure Post Pics” –  Yes I know, we all want our ‘Hallmark’ memory or two over the next few months to be captured on film.  Problem is, when these moments are forced or that’s the focus during the event you are not actually ‘present’ to appreciate the real happiness that can be created by closely connecting to your loved ones.  Special moments are about slowing down time, stopping long enough to observe and your heart takes a picture with all your senses and stores it in your memory.  This heart picture can be triggered by any of the memories associated with your 5 senses; this increases the chances of the memory being ‘triggered’ thus making it a more powerful moment than a posed picture memory will ever be.  
  5. Limits Facilitate Leisure- You will want to set boundaries and limits with extended family and  friends before throwing or attending events.  Have an ‘action plan’ ready to go in case someone doesn’t respect your limit or your family isn’t respecting someone else’s.  If people arrive with more than that number of gifts you’ve said is ok to give the kids, do you put some away for later, allow a few gifts or turn the person away entirely and not let them in? If your child screams and runs around at a party do you walk out of the space and help them recenter then try again or leave immediately? 
  6. Build in Breaks- If you, or someone in your immediate crew, needs downtime to refuel, don’t plan events back to back. Mark off hours each day for downtime. If some people in your family don’t ‘recharge’ in low stimulating environments offer a different space or activity they can do to refill; maybe head to a local park or play ‘pick-up’ basketball right after Thanksgiving while the rest of the house naps. 
  7. The Helping High- It’s hard to help someone else and not feel better yourself. Sit down with your family and talk about ways to ‘give back’. This can be in the form of financial donations, volunteering your time/talents, buying gifts for a family, writing letters to those in the  military etc. Model for your children the importance of community and connection.  
  8. Be Able to Identify Raisins vs Chocolate Chips – Pause to reflect on what stresses you out the most about the holiday season; money, family events, past trauma, etc.  Once you have identified what ‘gets under your skin’ the most you can do your best to be ‘prepared’.  Let your partner and family know why holiday meals around a single table irritate you.  Share with your spouse how watching the ‘women’ in a family do all the cooking and cleaning bothers you so you want to help.  This prepares you mentally to pack your coping backpack and make sure you have all the necessary supplies to manage. 
  9. Keep Schedules Simple-  Don’t over schedule yourself or kids. Do as much as you can ahead of time.  Be ok with saying “no” and practice saying it so it doesn’t get stuck in your throat. 

Personalized Meditation Coaching–It’s a Thing

New Online Meditation and Wellness Coaching Service Provides Personalized Support

Calm Scholar connects people looking for guidance with experienced meditation coaches

The new online meditation and wellness coaching service Calm Scholar is providing people with personalized support to help them experience greater peace and well-being. The service connects clients with meditation guides who provide virtual, one-on-one meditation and wellness coaching. This unique approach ensures that each person receives the individualized attention they need to make lasting changes in their lives.

Meditation is an important part of many different cultures and religions, and its benefits are well-documented. Studies have shown that meditation can help to reduce stress levels, improve focus and concentration, and promote a healthier well-being. However, despite its many benefits, meditation can be difficult to learn without the proper guidance of an experienced teacher.

“Lots of people are interested in meditation and know it could help them, but they have no idea where to start. And once they begin, they may wonder if they are doing it right. Working with an expert meditation coach takes all of the guesswork out, making it easier to free your mind and start experiencing the benefits of meditation.” says Ben Palmer, co-founder.

This is where Calm Scholar comes in. They offer one-on-one sessions with experienced instructors who will help guide you and personalize your experience.

Calm Scholar was started by three friends who shared a common interest in meditation, self-exploration, and mental health. Meditation greatly improved their lives, and they wanted to share this important practice with others.

“Some people believe meditation is just sitting still, trying not to think – and that can be intimidating. But what most people find after working with us is that meditation can be so much more than that. Our coaches really take the time to get to know you, and offer recommendations and techniques that will be most helpful for you,” said co-founder Alex Evangelista. “That might mean taking one-minute mindfulness breaks throughout the day, doing breathing exercises, or something just for you.”

The company does not believe there is a “right way” to meditate or find inner peace. Calm Scholar allows each of their coaches to bring their own philosophy and teaching style, giving clients the ability to choose from a broad range of coaches and experiences.

Calm Scholar offers a 30-minute introductory session free of charge, so clients can be confident that they have found a coach who is right for them. During this session, participants have the opportunity to ask questions, get to know their coach, and experience a guided meditation. 

Sarjeet Dagar, a coach with Calm Scholar, says “It’s been a great journey working with Calm Scholar as a mindfulness coach. They have given me the freedom to keep a good balance between my way of working and what a client needs. I’m grateful to Calm Scholar for enhancing my confidence as a coach.”

Calm Scholar coaches have extensive experience working with clients who face a variety of challenges – such as depression, anxiety, addiction, illness, stress, overwhelm, grief, and more. All sessions are virtual and completed via video chat, so clients receive the support they need from the comfort of their own homes.

Alex adds, “We know our coaches well and are always looking to help clients get paired with a coach who will make a real difference in their life. Our coaches offer a lot more than just teaching you how to meditate. You may discover you need creative visualization, yoga, or something different – like energy healing, reiki, or even nutrition and holistic wellness. You have the freedom to explore and find what works best for you.”

To get started, schedule a free intro session at

Finish Line Ready! Group 5K Training

Whether you’re ready to walk or run your first 5K or are a seasoned racer and wanting to improve your fitness, speed, strength, and flexibility in a group setting—this is the training group for you!  Welcoming all bodies and fitness abilities, we will spend some of the most beautiful months of Lake Havasu City’s weather to enjoy the outdoors and get race-ready!

Training Program Includes:

  • Weekly group walk/runs and stretching (Saturdays @ 7am—various locations in Havasu)
  • Ongoing endurance nutrition support specific to your individual needs
  • Full (written) 5K training plan for independent workouts
  • Group accountability and fun
  • (Optional) 60-minute Monday night virtual meeting for a 20-minute guided body-weight resistance strength workout, group discussion on hot topics (gear, fueling, recovery, etc), and to address any additional support issues (Meeting recorded, even if you can’t attend, you’ll still have access!)

Round 1: Havasu Balloon Festival 5K (Race Day: Saturday, January 21, 2023)

Meets Saturday, October 8, 2022, through Saturday, January 21, 2023 (Dark dates: 10/29/22, 12/24/22)

Round 2: Havasu Half 5K or Half Marathon (Saturday, April 15, 2023)

Meets Saturday, January 28, 2023, through Saturday, April 15, 2023 (No dark dates; subject to change)

Investment: $147/round or $267 for both rounds (Race registration not included; participant must complete their own registrations and waivers as required by race organizers)

(*If you are planning to attempt the 4/15/23 half marathon, both rounds are recommended to build endurance and ensure safe and healthy racing for the participant—a half marathon training plan will be provided in place of the 5K training plan)

Registration for each round closes 3 weeks after the start of each round to provide participant adequate training time to enjoy a safe and fun experience.

To register, email, message Stephanie Lueras on social media, or text 602-621-3392 or click here to fill out an interest form.

Both races have a virtual option if you aren’t local or available on race day here in Lake Havasu City—the only thing you will miss if you aren’t with us in person through the training process is our Saturday group workouts, but we’ll be sure to include you in the encouragement and accountability of those workouts, so you still feel like part of the group!

*This is an independent program of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness LLC and not in conjunction with any specific race organizer

Unpopular Opinion: Drink the soda

Hear me out…

If you tool around on any of the social media platforms, you might have seen the “healthy coke” that’s gone viral combining ice, sparkling water, and balsamic vinegar.

Now, let me first say, I love balsamic vinegar. I use it in cooking, probably more than palatable to most, but whatevs…it gives food amazing flavor. Never in my life have I thought, “I wonder how I can make this into a drink?!”

Second, and more importantly: you are under no obligation to “healthy hack” anything that you consume.

In my top five things I hear from clients and consultations is some iteration of, “I’m so bad for drinking soda.” To which we do a little more investigative work:

  • Why do you feel drinking soda makes you “bad?”
  • Why do you think soda is bad?
  • What type of soda do you enjoy?
  • How much soda do you consume?
  • When and where do you consume soda?
  • Do you enjoy soda?
  • What/how much of other beverages do you enjoy?

Soda has no moral value. You are so much more than your food and drink consumption habits. Drinking soda doesn’t make you a good or bad person–a beverage simply isn’t that powerful.

Soda in and of itself is not “bad.” It’s our habits and actions around its consumption that might be problematic due to your relationship with it, but its mere existence in any form (regular, diet, zero sugar, various sweeteners, caffeine free, etc) is not good or bad.

I only ask what type of soda someone consumes to have a little extra knowledge in how that particular beverage might be affecting their body on a more global scale. There is no right or wrong answer if you tell me that you drink regular, diet, sodas made with alternative sweeteners to cane sugar, caffeinated vs caffeine free, etc. The other reason I ask someone to share what type of soda they drink is to understand do they prefer this because it’s really what they enjoy, or they choose it because it’s “healthier” than another?

Questioning consumption is not a matter of this vs that (subtraction and restriction), but rather a question of quantity in terms of balancing soda with other beverages (adding to hydration–ensuring that soda isn’t the only beverage you consume in a day). The enjoyment factor is important because it helps to understand whether or not you’re drinking soda because you actually like it, or it is convenient, available, and/or a mindless grab.

An important piece of information is the when/where with soda drinking. Are you drinking it on its own or with meals? Having a large quantity to sip on through the day in absence of other choices? Do you use it to soothe or treat emotional or physical feelings.

This might seem excessive, but it’s actually not a long conversation, but it helps me to see where someone might be at in order to help them see that they’re demonizing something that isn’t “bad,” or help someone to process how looking at their choices differently might empower them to consume soda in a different way that helps them feel better about the choice or the physical result of what they are consuming.

Now, down to the brass tack that hits with the soda argument: diet vs regular. Personally, I don’t give a rip what you choose as long as you are consuming which you prefer taste-wise–here’s why: regular soda contains calories that can satiate hunger and contains sugar (perhaps by a myriad of different names for sugar–but it’s still sugar) and satisfies not only a craving (emotional boost), but can provide a boost physically (blood sugar spike/caffeine kick). Diet soda is (mostly) calorie-free and uses natural or artificial sweeteners/sugar derivatives that also meet that craving and physical boost (might or might not spike blood sugar depending on your sensitivity to sweeteners/caffeine kick). At the end of the day, it really comes down to preference.

All this said–here’s my encouragement when it comes to soda consumption:

  • Too much of any one thing is not beneficial. Ensure you’re balancing your soda consumption with other beverages, especially water, to foster good hydration habits.
  • Explore your “why” behind soda, and sometimes that honesty factor empowers one to make different choices if they find it beneficial
  • Drink and enjoy your soda independent of meals. There are so many flavors and textures that go on with eating a meal, that water or another beverage can be more satisfying. If you drink soda, drink it in such a way that you’re honoring the choice and you can consume it mindfully–enjoying the taste, experiencing the carbonation/bubbles, how it makes your body feel, etc (If one is concerned about the amount of soda they consume, these mindful consumption habits can help to decrease the amount of soda one drinks if they find that personally necessary)

I often get asked if I drink soda (which is a loaded question because what I consume isn’t necessarily an appropriate choice for you), and the answer is yes, but rarely. Years ago I drank a lot more soda than I do now, but diet soda started to have an adverse effect on me from the artificial sweeteners used and I found that I didn’t have the same problem drinking regular soda. However, my soda consumption is limited because of how I perceive it–about 6-7 years ago I began a migraine prevention medication that has a side effect of dulling one’s sense of effervescence/carbonation. Basically all of these beverages taste flat to me (it’s bizarre, I know), so I don’t really crave drinking soda because who likes flat soda? It tastes like flat, colored sweet water to me. That said, I’ll occasionally have a ginger ale or coke to settle my stomach if I’m not well, or a sprite for a fast sugar boost on a hot day after a depleting workout outside in the absence of other electrolytes, but I much prefer other beverages that taste better and satisfy me more–mostly water, but I do drink coffee (daily), lemonade, iced tea, and occasionally adult beverages.

Oh, and another note on this ridiculous viral soda-hack: vinegars are fabulous! They provide some great nutritional support in your FOOD. Drinking/shooting vinegars in excess can damage tooth enamel, interrupt the natural gut biome over extended periods of time, and cause other forms of digestive distress.

There you have it–now, enjoy your drinks!

There Is No Magic Wand

(Originally published in the Today’s News-Herald on Thursday, June 2, 2022)

Last week I started discussing how to niche into the area of movement that you enjoy to build long term sustainability and consistency, and as we continue this topic over the several weeks, today I want to back up and look at fitness, nutrition, or any wellness pursuit and the “magic wand” effect.

You’ve seen it before–a great testimonial on how someone’s life has been changed by a program or product, and you can have the same results (or better) if you sign up for this short-term challenge or program.

In many cases, we have arrived at our desire to change through years of habits contrary to the ones we want to cultivate in our lives.  Studies show that not only does it take longer than these short-term challenges to create long term change, but the results also you might or might not achieve during these challenges tend not to be sustainable.

There are many examples of the magic wand effect under all umbrellas of wellness programs and products, but one of the easiest to breakdown is weight loss.  A 21-day program might promise that if you follow their diet and exercise program fully, that you will experience a certain level of success toward a weight loss goal.

You participate in the program, and not only does it have a restrictive diet where you find yourself maybe preparing foods that aren’t your fancy, you also have to purchase proprietary supplement products, and participate in an exercise program that some days you enjoy, other days you have to force yourself because it doesn’t fit your schedule/ability/energy/etc., and at the end of the challenge you might see some changes.

What happens at the end of the challenge to maintain your results?  Do you continue with something that you’re not fully enjoying and doesn’t integrate fully into your schedule, lifestyle, or budget?  Do you modify it?  Or do you stop the program?

The overwhelming majority tend to do the latter—abandon the program.  You achieve some success and live under the assumption that without the structure you’ve been under to attain it that you will sustain the change.  Others leave because the scheduling, cost, or other commitments involved don’t align with their needs.  There is a small group that do continue and maintain their success over the long term—about 5% in these instances.

Let me be VERY clear: you are not a failure for leaving a program or abandoning a product after a short-term challenge.  The program or product have failed you, and that is the very nature of the diet industry and its marketing. You are not weak, lacking willpower, or undisciplined.  It just wasn’t right for you.

Change takes time, consistency, and flexibility.  I’m not knocking the concept of the challenge in and of itself, but simply as a stand-alone solution to reach our goals, it falls flat.  It can be a motivator, a jump start, an education tool, and more—but a short-term challenge is just a start.  For any type of challenge or short-term program to be successful, you need to start at the end first and ask a few important questions: what is the end point of the program?  How does it help me transition habits from the rigidity of the challenge or programmed lifestyle into MY daily life?  Where does continued support come from?  Is this financially feasible for me to continue for the long term?  Does the nature of this program align with my values and goals?

All these questions help us to make the choice to move forward with something that might be the springboard to our long-term success or fall into the continual stop and start of looking for the overnight transformation to look and/or feel how we want to feel—which doesn’t exist.  When it comes to habits and our wellness, there’s no easy button, but as we’ll continue to explore, we can make the journey enjoyable.