Simple Summer Salad

I was shocked to be impressed by this simple recipe for the perfect summer salad!

Torn Romain Lettuce

Diced Pink Lady Apple

Diced Cucumber

Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Mix

& sprinkle your favorite nut (I used a homemade trail mix which had pecans, pistachios and cashews)

It provides such a fresh taste with an array of flavor, from bursts of crisp sweetness from the apple to smokey heat from the black pepper. It was so yummy!

Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Do you have a favorite summer recipe? Share below!

Gems

I’m sitting here at my dining table, looking out the window. It’s snowing. It’s 10:00 am. I have a cup of tea, with almond milk and I’ve just finished eating a piece of artisan bread with butter and a bit of honey. The heat is on and I’m toasty even though my arms are bare in this nude colored maxi dress turned housecoat. I feel good. I’m surrounded by an atmosphere that I’ve created to specifically please myself. Let’s take a look around….

The Flowers

The Fruit Basket

The Tree

The Easel

The Books

The Couch

The Chairs

The Tables

And the Art

All hand picked for me, by me. Life is grand and I’m able to see the great in things much better these days; much quicker. This, of course, didn’t come to me for free. Many struggles, frustrations and difficult times were pushed through to get here and I have a much more intentional and happy life because of those hurdles.

I haven’t always been sure what about what I have to share with the world, but today I am confident beyond measure that what I have to say could save a life, change a life or turn a life around because these gems are exactly what did all those things for me.

I, by no means, claim to be an expert in mental health but I am a living testament to the practices I subscribe to and have been blessed with the gift of word to spread a message of hope, love, and healing.

How did I find these gems? I googled them, of course! I set out looking to find the keys to happiness, so that is exactly what I found.

Here are some of the gems that have helped me along my path….

Make a list of all the small things that make you happy
Do more of what you love, love more of what you do 
Fall in love with as many things as possible
Even mixed signals are clear signals
Accept the apology you never received
Apologize, often
Leave the world better than you found it
Breath deeply and with intention
Appreciate the space between “Not Anymore” and “Not Yet”
Enjoy the process

Struggles with mental health are real, and not readily understood by all. There are as many paths to healing as there are paths that brought you into seeking healing in the first place.

I also found it helpful to read and reread books that focus on reshaping the mind and reprogramming old habits into transformative new ones. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson are among my favorites and can be purchased by using the links below.

                                                         .                         

Do you have any gems that have influenced your personal journey? Please share them below. Let’s keep the dialogue going because depression works best when hidden. Uncover and heal!

Blessings.

 

Working Together To Improve Birth Outcomes

I find that in many cases, people tend to be of the opinion that life is either black or it is white. You are a man or a woman. You are a liberal or a conservative. You either believe in God or in Science. You are gay or you are straight. As time goes on, people who live in shades of gray are helping others to see the true broadness of life by being vocal about where they stand on all these spectrums that make up individuality.

There are people who were born with male genitalia, but identify as women and are sexually attracted to both. There are people who are conservative on issues of women’s reproductive rights and liberal when talking about the legalization of marijuana. I am of the opinion that the best way to improve birth outcomes is through the joining of modern medicine and tradition midwifery ideals because it has been my experience that seemingly opposing views, tend to work well when combined.

Imagine a world, where doulas and midwives work with clients to provide safe, comfortable and supportive birthing environments, right next to traditional medical personnel who are providing medical oversight, as necessary. These two notions need not be in contradiction to one another. The best possible outcome is when all supports can work together to give a pregnant person what they need in all areas, emotionally, physically and medically.

I have a friend who shares many things in common with me. When I go through something difficult, I know that I can go to her for complete understanding and camaraderie. We can talk for hours about all of our shared experiences and feelings. I find this type of support to be necessary for my growth as a human being. I need to feel like I’m not the only one going through certain challenges and I gain strength from knowing this, but growth cannot stop there. I know that without our awareness, we can sometimes get caught in a cycle of venting, which can be dangerous. I’m lucky though. While I have this friend, I also have my fiance. My fiance pushes me to take action. It is because of the type of support that he offers, that I’ve made many of the lifestyle changes that are leading me to be a better, stronger and wiser human. But when he pushes me, I sometimes feel rushed, unprepared and unsupported. It is the combination of ideals that lead me to feel fully backed, in a very wholesome way. Supported to cry, whine and complain, and equally as important, I feel supported to act on the areas where I feel dissatisfied.

I believe the same applies to improving birth outcomes. We need a balance of the knowledge of modern medicine, which can save lives, in combination with the knowledge of traditional midwifery, which can prevent birth trauma and improve overall experiences. We need both and we need to work together.

Review: Tapping The Power Within

One of the books I read towards my Doula certification is “Tapping The Power Within” by Iyanla Vanzant. I  chose this book because I am a fan of Iyanla, and based off the title, I knew this book would add to my new career as a Doula, but more importantly to my life as a whole.

The most personally influential concept addressed in this book, was that of alignment. Iyanla writes, “When we are in alignment, we can recognize and accept the lessons that will lead us to a fuller, more peace-filled, and more purposeful sense of living.” The idea of alignment has been increasing present in my life over the past few months. In December, I attended a three week yoga workshop and that is where I first heard the word, in this context. The workshop discussed how being aligned with our higher purpose increases the flow of our lives. When we aren’t aligned, we find ourselves feeling unsatisfied and displeased.

In January I  read “A Return To Love” by Marianne Williamson and I saw her speak later that month. The part of her seminar that resonated with me the most was when she said “When you are aligned, you cannot separate your spiritual self from your personal or professional self.” This truly spoke to me, as it also did while reading “Tapping The Power Within”.

For the past 10 years, I have been employed by an agency that serves the developmentally disabled population. It is a frustrating job for someone like me, because I feel like administration, overseeing agencies and bureaucracy in general, held me back from implementing change in the lives of the people I  served. My initial disalignment was the catalyst for finding my higher purpose.

Through many conversations with myself, family and God I  came to find that I am truly served by serving other women and their babies. This realization led me to people who were and/or knew Doulas. I was overwhelmed with the thought that I  could be fully aligned in my life’s purpose and create a career out of it, at the same time! “Although thoughts govern how we respond throughout life, they may not be in alignment with the spiritual purpose or meaning of the experience,” Iyanla writes. As a doula, I  feel like my spirit is at ease, because every aspect of my being is working together to serve the world and to equally serve myself.

Image result for tapping the power within iyanla vanzant

Use this link for Amazon Books:

Books

Oils

I am obsessed with oils! I have many in my home, such as castor, argon, coconut, avocado, aloe vera, mango, lavender, tea tree, peppermint and rosehip seed. I like making natural products such as deodorant, lip gloss and butters and I often use one of these oils as the main ingredient. I like how many uses each oil has, they’re so versatile!

My absolute favorite is Castor Oil. It has a thick molasses-like consistency that is perfect for coating natural hair and adding shine and life to dull lips. I recently learned that castor oil can help with menstrual cramps when applied topically. I am always amazed by how much and how far just a little bit of castor oil can go.

My second favorite oil is Coconut Oil. It’s accessible from nearly any supermarket or local store, which makes it extremely convenient to find. I use coconut oil primarily on my skin and hair and I find that it’s great for braid/twist-outs. I stopped using any type of cream on my hair, so I’m always in search of the perfect oil that will add or retain as much moisture as possible, and coconut fits the bill! The key is to not use too much, otherwise, expect your soul to glow all over the place (Coming to America reference).

. . . but the most convenient store of them all is Amazon, so I can easily and quickly have all my oils delivered to my door in just two days. Check out the links below to some my favorite oils using Amazon.


63 through 66

7/17/14

3:42 AM. I lay motionless. Hearing only the steady breathing of my sleeping child. She represented everything right with the world. At six years old she was inquisitive and curious; kind and gentle; energetic yet thoughtful. I never understood how she managed to be balanced in a world so reckless and unreliable. She must have been born with a predisposed tolerance to chaos and madness. I offered her little relief. She is wonderful in spite of her mother, what a resilient little thing.

She inhaled deeply and let out a quiet sigh as she exhaled. Another trickle of sweat rolled down my temple.  63. That’s how many sweat beads had found it’s way from my pores to my now soaked bed sheets by route of my body. Like small well-mannered track stars, who let their opponents finish before they began the same course.

I thought of getting out of bed, taking an ice cold shower, changing the sheets and giving sleep another chance. I thought of how I would need to call out from work again as I certainly was in no condition to rise and shine in three hours and tackle another day in the office. I thought about how I had already called out from work one time each week in the past month and how supervisors were beginning to watch me suspiciously.  I thought about how it was now too late for an Ambien. I thought about how it maybe wasn’t too late to roll and enjoy a blunt. At least then my daughter and I could both enjoy inhalation, although in very different ways.

Food. I should eat. It had been maybe four days since I felt motivated to open my mouth. Chew. Swallow. Repeat. What daunting tasks. This grumbling stomach didn’t make sleep anymore of an achievable goal than explaining to my daughter why bad things happen to good people, why I happened to her.

64. I closed my eyes again, trying to remember a time unlike now. Live in the present, often advice for those seeking happiness but my present was where I wished to be furthest from. The future is unknown and frightening, but the past was a place of certainty, security. Less favorable memories were easy to forget or alter to my liking, which sometimes made life confusing. Confusing yes, but bearable.

65. 66. These two were neck and neck. Hope stretched her arms around my torso, seeking a comforting embrace. All she received was a cold, near lifeless shell where her mother should have been.

 

Baby Baby Please

5/23/16

Baby baby please gimme one more chance. It’s what my last sleeping breath begged of the universe before my eyes opened each morning. One more chance is all I need to get this right. Today will be different. And like all the days before, this one was the same. Poor decisions, letting the wrong people claim love and letting the right ones wait.

Night time was the hardest. Child asleep. House still. Sirens, maybe. Honking probably. Commuters wanting to get through that tunnel; me, wishing I had an ounce of their direction. Countless friends, and oh so lonely. Never a recipient of true love by the definition that felt intended for me, and beginning to believe this was it. Forever.

Baby baby please gimme one more chance. One more chance is all I need to get this right. Night was hard and wrong, it wasn’t for me, yet it was me. I hated that I belonged to the dusk and was terrified of it too.

Wake up.

Get out.

Smile.

Make it back home without pulling out the Kleenex.

Make it home and pull out the Kleenex.

Pop one or pull one.

Sleep.

… and repeat.

Until I saw the snail. Walking past a Brooklyn bush, there slugged a snail. Small and almost unnoticeable yet it caught my eye. I snapped a pic and posted it on Instagram with a caption that came to me as my fingers swiped along,

“A snail! I declare this a sign of excellent health, prosperity and good sex because that’s the typa shit one declares when choosing happiness! Happy Wednesday Y’all”

I didn’t know I had chosen happiness until the decision was made. And as sneakily as depression cloaked my life, it had been lifted up by this arbitrary symbol of everything I needed. Nothing was the same from then on. No more begging for chances to make things right. I would only plead for another day to see the world, to learn more and to love harder. Finally Alive. Finally awake; and awoken by a snail no less, on a Brooklyn bush listening to beggars’ cries.