Polar Bear Projects

This year has been so unlike any other!

On some level, we’ve gotten used to our new world, including “expecting the unexpected”!

This past spring (which felt like a long winter), I kept thinking about the polar bears at the zoo.

Did you know the zookeepers have to keep those poor bears super challenged?

They place fresh fish in ice chests, tie them shut, then throw them in the water for the polar bears to open up.

It gives the polar bears something to focus on besides how dang small their world is.

Sound familiar??

When we were buried in our homes this past summer thanks to the toxic smoke outside, I know many of you who are also here on the west coast experienced what I did: a form of PTSD. Feeling a bit too much like the polar bears in their too-small runs, and like this pandemic is going on too long.

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about the importance of resilience, not to mention the...

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Sugar and the Holidays

I grew up baking—I loved it! I would find the most challenging recipe in the Joy of Cooking and take it on as a weekend project. On a typical Friday night when I was in my middle school years, my parents would be out at a concert, my brother would be out with his friends, and I would be home baking up a storm, making pastry cream for poppy-seed cake, baking oodles of cookies or pies while Beatles tunes blared on the stereo. I was filled with joy as I placed my creations on the table to share with my family when they returned home.

I knew sugar had calories, and that it probably supported the healthy amount of adipose tissue I had! But I had no idea how else it affected my body, nor did I know about any alternatives to baking with sugar.

Sugar can work wonders in baked goods, and it certainly tastes delicious, but it also greatly decreases your white blood cells’ ability to destroy bacteria, viruses, or anything else. If you consume a half...

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Why I Hate the Land of Beige

One of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever hiked is the Green Lakes Trail in Central Oregon. I first hiked there with my dad when I was 20 years old. It was a truly amazing experience to hike it again 30 years later, after he died.  

I went running down the mountain after completing the 9.5-mile hike, gloriously singing in my head.

Why? Because for many years my life was like this:

I sat in my bed wishing I could just walk up Mount Tabor again, the 600-foot (extinct!) volcano behind my home. I couldn’t make it downstairs, let alone around the block.

That was back in 1996. 

I was pretty sure I was Wonder Woman till I landed in bed. 

I decided to be a physician when I was six months pregnant and single. And my knee was so badly damaged at the time that I couldn’t do what I had done for money anymore: bake.

I was totally broke.

Deciding to be a single momma forced me to see myself in a way I had not before. Making a commitment to medicine the same...

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Are You On the Road to Burnout?

Are you on the high-speed train to burnout and exhaustion?

Most of us don’t realize that fatigue, like pain, is an ALERT sign that your body, mind, and spirit are sending to say:

WATCH OUT!!

Early signs can be the first stop on the high-speed train to deep-seated fatigue.

I find that there are usually four phases on the path to deep-seated fatigue, which is also called chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), and which includes fibromyalgia.

I have experienced all FOUR of these phases.

Oh, how I wish I knew back then what I know now.

Where are you? Where have you been? Where do you want to be? OFF THIS TRAIN RIDE, I HOPE!

I still have to STOP myself from hurtling toward the train wreck of chronic fatigue! Thankfully, I have the tools to do that now.

Phase 1: Overdoing It

Yeah, but who isn’t overdoing it right now? There’s the pandemic, election stress (here in the US), juggling kids at home,...

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Stress Baking Anyone?

OK, today is election day. 

Hopefully you voted. 

The work is done, for the moment. 

All we can do is wait… and feel what? 

Stress? There are lots of healthy ways to handle stress: we can reach out to others, sing, move our bodies (dance, take a walk)… or we can bake. 

In our home we call these situations IBMs: Inappropriate Baking Moments! 

Honestly, their timing may be inappropriate, but no one really complains since the outcome is so yummy. 

I choose to bake treats that are gluten-free and often vegan. I only use natural sweeteners. I love foods that are nutritionally dense. 

Here are my favorite fall and winter pie recipes, along with some yummy fall foods.

AND, in case you are gluten-free and want to actually roll out a flaky white crust to de-stresshere ya go. This is the recipe I have been holding close to my chest. It was created by accident. It is NOT nutritionally...

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Zoom Got You Down?

I felt utterly drained and did not know what had hit me. 

During the first few weeks of the pandemic I crashed hard after full days on the computer, staring at the screen. 

You too? 

I am a ninja at figuring out what is draining people’s energy, especially my own. Why was I so tired?   

My path of healing from chronic fatigue was long and deep. And now I have listened to so many other people’s stories of suffering from exhaustion. 

I have long said, “People with chronic fatigue can talk about the different kinds of ‘tired’ like wine connoisseurs talk about fine wine.” 

So when I stumbled out of my home office feeling fried after eight hours of patient visits over Zoom, I immediately took an internal inventory: What kind of tired is this? Where is it coming from? Like a computer checking for a virus, I bounced the pieces of data back and forth. 

I was drained. I could not look at another screen. I...

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Smoke Sick

As the west coast is blanketed in toxic smoke, our beloved forests are burning and many people are losing everything, some their lives. 

I sit in the smoke, grateful for my home, my air filters, and my ability to use natural medicine to heal—but most importantly, for the LOVE I feel. I am surrounded by you, my family and neighbors. I know we are all here for each other when we need it most. I believe this is THE most important part of being human. 

Here’s one thing I feel is happening to us all: we’re building incredible resilience and capacity for change, learning how to turn on a dime and find resources in ourselves and in our communities 

With the intense upheaval we’ve been in all year, there is a lot of fear in the air. And the natural human response to this is to try to make sense of it all—to create a narrative to tie it all together, create a story we can wrap our minds around. I believe that’s part of why so many conspiracy...

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What I’ve been afraid to say

This time is like no other.

When we are really ill, even dying, an opportunity for deeper healing arises. 

The same is true of our society.

The riots and protests this past week are like a fever. They’re showing us that our society has been sick—it has an infection, and it needs attention. The illness has been endemic in our culture for eons, and now smartphones are making it impossible for our society to ignore. 

Facing our current condition is scary and hard, and the outcome is uncertain, just like in any serious illness. And yet we can use this breakdown as a chance to rise up. I see the gift in these very hard times as an opportunity to choose to heal. 

As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his ““Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

I am not comfortable talking about this. I am white. I have seen the injustice, felt the pain, read the history, and still felt relatively powerless. Being white felt like being...

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Ready, Set, or PANIC? Coronavirus

Ready, set, or panic? We’re all faced with the unknown every day, but it’s rarely been more evident than now, with the appearance of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. 

I just got over the flu, so I have a recent reminder of what it feels like to be ill. It is hard to have your body taken over by a virus. It is uncomfortable, but it also passes. And oddly, it can have its benefits. 

I have avoided the flu for over a decade by using the tips in my flu guide. I am reposting them here for you, and also sharing an essential oil protocols created by a colleague (see my note below). 

How should we prepare for the coronavirus? I have been scouring the news and science reports daily for months, trying to get my head around this outbreak to answer my own questions. 

I have been watching my neighbors panic-shop, my friends either in total freak-out mode or the opposite: disbelieving anything bad will happen. 

What is the truth? Who is at risk? How do...

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Do You Get Sad, Irritable, or Blue in the Winter Months?

SAD is a serious and real issue for many people living in any temperate, rainy climate zone like the Pacific Northwest. I will post on this throughout the winter to keep you filled with tips on staying in joy all year.

Three key tips right here:

  1. Get a full spectrum light. USE IT NOW. Don’t wait until January or February when you finally figure out this is why you feel so BLAH. The sun is out for shorter days as we head into winter solstice. Stay on top of your mood curve and turn your light on. I use Verulux “Happy Light” (no affiliation). Times to think about using it: in your office, in the morning when doing your morning rituals: yoga, meditation, make-up, or making breakfast/ lunches. I leave my smaller light on all day in my office!
  2. Diffuse uplifting essential oils. They will increase your mood by boosting serotonin and dopamine. I love to use Bergamot, Wild Orange and Siberian Fir!
  3. Plan your vacations. A few years into our marriage my husband and I made a...
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