Gifts in our Stories

Gifts in our Stories

As I sit down and write these words, I am grateful for friends like Karen and Mike who inspire me to continue to share my story.   I often think about writing my blog but always seem to find something else to do or someone else to take care of.  It seems to be a pattern for me; and I am sure some of you can relate.   But, first the kitchen needs to be clean and then I can sit down and write.   Oh… and then I have to get to the paperwork for the kids to take to school.  I can’t forget that, can I?  Then, the grocery list needs to be made… and soon and so on.  Why do I constantly have something else to do and not take the time to do what I am so passionate about?

As many of you know, at the beginning of 2018 I had a very difficult “emotional” time.  Struggling with my husband Marty working away, trying to keep up with life schedules, supporting our kids (especially our son who needs extra love) and I was too proud to admit that I needed help.   I like to say that I have learned my lesson, but it is a slow process.   I know we don’t change overnight and I certainly need others to help keep me accountable.  

I have found more time for me (piano, biking, dancing, friends, and moving forward with my passion of teaching kids about food).  My openness to continue to share my struggles with friends and family helps to remind me that I am not alone.  For many years, I have found ways to “stay small” by continuously cleaning my house, staying busy doing things that don’t serve me well, wasting time on Facebook and unconsciously downplaying my potential.  My belief that I am “not smart enough”, “not good enough” and the anxiety that comes with these beliefs have kept me hostage for a long time. The relentless thinking, many sleepless nights, pounding heart and the feeling of exhaustion that then spirals into negative thoughts which all propel the vortex of “not good enough.”  It can be a hard cycle to get out of until you “hit the ground” and all that is left to do is “get up.” 

No one likes to be in those dark places, but I have learned that with light, there is always dark.   We can’t avoid it… it is part of life, and the more we can embrace the dark and be mindful that it soon will pass, the more inner calm we can find.  I never believed that I was anxious and a person that often worried.   Being more mindful of my thoughts I often catch myself in my negative “worry” thoughts.   I think this is half the battle… being aware and catching myself in “negative thought.” Wow…I have been very surprised how often I am catching myself in these negative thought patterns.   I saw agreat sign the other day, “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.” Erma Bombeck.   Yep… that about sums it up. 

It is not easy to share what is in our heart, but closing our heart is not the answer either.  Mark Nepo says it so well, “It is essential to realize and embrace that paradox that while no one can go through your journey for you, you are not alone.   Everyone is on the same journey.  Everyone shares the same pains, the same confusions, the same fears, which if put out between us, lose their edges and so cut us less.“ 

As we move towards winter I am mindful of my patterns and how the winter weather and shorter days can affect my mood and motivation.  I continue to be open-minded and trying new things and recognize that it is okay if things don’t go the way I expected them to go as it doesn’t make me any less of a person.   It makes me who I am! 

 

Our Deepest Fear
ByMarianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God.

Your playing small 
Does not serve the world. 
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking 
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, 
As children do. 
We were born to make manifest 
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; 
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, 
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we’re liberated from our own fear, 
Our presence automatically liberates others.

December 4, 2018 at 4:24 am 2 comments

When things fall apart

Haven - BlogAs I sit down to try and write about the last two months of our life, I feel anxious, as I don’t know how I will put it into words. All I know is that I believe that sharing our stories creates connection and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable gives others permission to be vulnerable as well.  It seems only weeks ago that I surrendered to my anxiety and a deep need to convince everyone (including myself) that I could, “Do it all.”

It was late Sunday night at the beginning of January and Marty was going back to the mainland for work and he asked me if I was going to be okay. My pride in the past kept a strong face but that night I had nothing left.   My response to my husband Marty was, “No… I am not going to be okay” as I broke down in tears.  As Marty drove away, I wondered how I would get up in the morning to get our kids to school and also how I would make it through another six days of trying to raise our twins, both who were struggling so much themselves.   How could I help them? I couldn’t even help myself!   I felt like I had nothing left. I felt so alone, so afraid and I just wanted it to all go away.

It is hard to believe that we can get to these dark places in our lives, but I am sure that many of you reading this right now can somehow relate to the pain I was feeling either personally or through someone dear to your heart.   Marty and I moved to Vancouver Island one and a half years ago and many people asked if I would be able to be on my own so much with the kids.  I wanted to prove everyone wrong as I have always been the ‘Strong Shannon.’ I have been through a lot in my lifetime: abuse as a child; breast cancer; raising a son with autism, and now trying to support his twin sister’s need of living with a brother with autism.  What I now know is that we can’t be strong unless we are putting our needs first.  My belief was that my kids’ needs were supposed to come first.  An old belief that somehow became ingrained in my mind.   But if their needs come first… what happens to us (the parents)?   In the end… I fell apart and I couldn’t help myself, or, my kids.   I don’t need to explain to any parents out there about how much work it is to raise a family, cook healthy meals, get to activities, work, volunteer, do house chores, and also find time for self-care.  We all know it is no easy feast.   But, what I do know is that we are not meant to raise our children on our own and we need to schedule in family time, self-care time and parent-bonding time.

It has been said that there needs to be a breakdown before there is a breakthrough. We often continue on our path doing the same things over and over again that are not serving us well.  It was hard to admit that I was not functioning well.   I was drinking wine every night (not lots but enough), I was drinking coffee in the morning (to help wake me up), I was not sleeping well, I had become very reactive to my children and was starting to have anxiety attacks almost every day… something had to give.

Marty came home to support me for six weeks while I slowly recovered and we worked together on finding support for our family. Many blessings have come our way since the beginning of January that has changed our lives and connected Marty and I like we have never been connected before.   With Marty being home we were able to join a parenting course for kids with anxiety to connect with other families going through similar life situations which helped us feel less alone.   Abigail was able to join a ten week kid’s anxiety class which has given her tools to help deal with bullies at school and living with her autistic brother.  Marty and I also met an amazing counsellor in Courtenay that was able to help both of us express our deep fears and frustrations in a safe and compassionate way to each other.   We have found a babysitter to help us get out of the house weekly.  I took six days and went to the Haven on Gabriola Island to do some deep heart work and shed many much needed tears.  I now schedule in exercise 5 days a week like a doctor appointment and make time to go out with girlfriends.  We have found an amazing man to work with Nolan for 4 hours every Wednesday teaching him about mindfulness, breathing exercises, environmental education and using the forest as a teacher.

Nolan’s anxiety has decreased substantially.  What I find interesting is that for some time I have been quick to blame my anxiety and frustration on my son Nolan (who is autistic) and also on my husband Marty for being away so often.   What I have learned is that we are in control of our own happiness and under all my anger and frustration was the anxiety and under the anxiety was deep sadness.  I just needed to allow myself to be vulnerable and look within.  Everything I needed was always right there.

 

The quote below from Melody Beattie says it all.

“Our strength will continue if we allow ourselves the courage to feel scared, weak, and vulnerable.”

 

 

Books to read:

 When things fall apart: Pema Chodron

True love: Thich Nhat Hanh

The book of awakening: Mark Nepo

 

Comox Valley Resources:

Group: Creating Calm: A group for kids dealing with Anxiety

Location:  Comox Valley Family Services Association

Cost: Free

http://www.comoxvalleyfamilyservices.com/services-and-programs/creating-calm-child-and-youth-anxiety-group

Group: Parenting Through Anxiety

Location: Comox Valley Family Services Association

Cost:  Free

https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/community/new-group-in-comox-valley-for-parents-with-anxiety/

March 20, 2018 at 2:44 am Leave a comment

Space In Your Heart

Holding Space in your heart was something that I first heard about on one of my cancer retreats with the Callanish Society. I had never heard this before and really did not truly know what it meant.  My vivid memory of the Callanish retreat was crying more than I have ever cried in my entire life.  I remember sitting in a circle and sharing our losses and as each person spoke it was like they were speaking for me.  But there was one person…who I will never forget…who changed my life in that very room forever.   A young man, so full of love, kindness and wisdom but his life was soon coming to an end.  How can this be…how is this fair and how can I ever be sad about the little upsets in my life…I have the privilege to live.

This year has been full of memories, new friendships, leaning about farm life and creating a new community for our family. It has also been a year of many great losses.  A dear family friend (whom I called Mommy), our neighbor who was like a grandfather to Abigail and Nolan, a cherished friend from our Callanish retreat and one of my best friends Crystal.

I was not sure that it was possible to have enough space in my heart for all these beautiful people to leave so soon in such a short period of time. I did not have the power to make them stay…so I had to say goodbye.

What I have learned is that life will always bring dark and difficult times.   Just like the tide…it ebbs and flows.  Learning to feel and stay in the difficult times…cry, scream, punch a pillow, allow the emotions to come is all part of being human and growing as a person.  Feelings are meant to be expressed not suppressed.  Allowing ourselves to feel helps us to reset and live a more authentic life. Somehow in the end there is always good that comes out of the difficult times.  When people pass away…people come together.

 

Thank you to the Janie, Danielle and the ladies of Callanish.   I will never forget all you have taught me.

 

The Callanish Society creates a healing space for people who have been irrevocably changed by cancer.

https://www.callanish.org/

 

 

 

September 21, 2017 at 11:43 pm 1 comment

Time for Connection and Time to Heal

When we moved to Vancouver Island from the Lower Mainland one year ago today we were excited for the opportunity to start over and be able to provide an amazing space for our children to learn and grow. With that said, there were still many times I thought, “what the Hell are we doing?” There is no doubt that it has been a roller coaster ride and we are still learning new things every day. Finding a good doctor, dentist and even a new hairdresser can prove to be challenging. Life has slowed down which has given us more time with the kids and more time to be in the moment. There is time for card games, building forts, blasting Michael Jackson and rocking it out on the trampoline, painting tree houses, organizing community block parties, biking in the forest, spending time with neighbors, play dates and quiet times reading in the swing on the back porch. The childhood memories I remember.

It has just been within the last month that we have started to really feel our roots settle here in Courtenay. The end of the school year has proven to be the best year school year EVER for Abigail and Nolan. Both kids had amazing teachers and have connected with some great friends that have wonderful families. Nolan has settled into routine with his chickens, reading often, trampoline time and looking forward to his baby chicks hatching. Abigail has become excited about new things like sewing, horseback riding and doing her gymnastics flips every chance she can. Marty and I have found our groove with him travelling back and forth to the Mainland for work.   We are grateful to our friend Rav who allows Marty to stay in his condo in Surrey, while he is currently living in England. Marty’s self- care has improved significantly too as he is taking time to go to the gym, working outside on projects and making time for friends and family too. I have connected with some very special people working (and now running) the salad bar at the kids school and volunteering at a local Farm. I come alive when I am around great people that are inspired to make a difference and open to talking about all the ebbs and flows that life brings.

Staying at home has also allowed me to focus on Nolan and Abigail’s healing. We have connected with a great Doctor in Kelowna (Dr Bratt). She is a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) Naturopathic Doctor. She also has a son with Autism so she can relate to what families are going through. If you did not know already, our son Nolan is diagnosed with Autism and is also gifted. We took hair samples that show that Nolan is still very high in Mercury (due to the fish, seaweed and sushi we have been eating). He was also very high in arsenic which was very surprising to me. Because we eat gluten free, we often eat a lot of processed rice products (pasta, crackers, bread, and waffle mix).  Rice that is grown in North America has a lot of arsenic in it because it is grown in the soil that previously grew cotton. Cotton farmers used to use arsenic-based chemicals to kill boll weevils and to remove plants leaves before harvest. Now rice is grown in that toxic soil.  The other interesting thing Nolan was high in was Manganese. Manganese is a mineral that naturally occurs in rocks, soil and has tested high in our well water. Exposure to high levels of manganese in drinking water can affect children’s brain development. We have recently put in a whole house water system to decrease the manganese.

Finally we did comprehensive stool analysis on both Abigail and Nolan. Yes, sounds disgusting but a really great way to see what is going on in the digestive system. Did you know that in years past, the Kings and Queens of our time would have their stool examined daily to determine their health? With that said, the test looks at: beneficial flora, imbalanced flora, dysbiotic flora, parasites, yeast, digestion / absorption, inflammation, and more. With Abigail and Nolan being twins it was very interesting to look at the two tests side by side. This test gave us a window into the affects the gut has on the brain as Abigail’s test came back significantly more positive than Nolan’s. Often people mistake Autism for a mental condition only and we are looking to “fix” the brain. But if we know that the gut controls the brain… we know that gut health is key to helping Nolan and others with Autism and sensitivities. The part of the test that was the most mind blowing was Nolan’s Secretory IgA. Reference range is: 51-204 mg/dL. Secretory Iga is secreted by mucosal tissue and represents the first line of defense of the GI mucosa and is central to the normal function of the GI tract an immune barrier. Abigail’s was in range at 105 but Nolan’s was out of range at a staggering 566 which means his gut has been chronically inflamed for YEARS. Chronic inflammation causes the body to constantly be on high alert and can cause lasting damage to the body and brain.

So what are we doing to help heal Nolan and Abigail’s GI tract you ask?

  • Curcumin (bioavailable form of turmeric) – for inflammation
  • 5HTP – to help with anxiety and sleep
  • Grapefruit seed extract to kill the bad bacteria
  • A great probiotic to increase the good bacteria
  • Broccoli sprouts, garlic, cilantro, MCT oil, chlorella daily for detox
  • Reduce rice (bread, crackers, pasta) to decrease arsenic
  • Reduce seaweed/sushi/seafood to decrease mercury
  • We replaced our whole house water system to decrease manganese

This probably feels like a lot but we just take it day by day and do the best that we can. Because Nolan (and many kids with Autism) detoxification pathways do not work as well as most of ours, it makes sense that his toxins are higher than Abigail’s. With all this said we are excited to see what unfolds in Nolan’s healing journey in the next six months.

 

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” Albert Einstein.

 

Great book to read: Healing the New Childhood Epidemics – Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies by Kenneth Bock, M.D., and Cameron Stauth

Dr. Anita Bratt – Naturopathic Physician –  https://drbratt.com/

 

 

July 7, 2017 at 3:06 am 1 comment

Follow Your Heart

When I reflect back on the last eight months, it is clear to me why I have not written a blog since February. My good friend Alison told me that this year has been described as “the year of change” and this is most definitely true for myself, and MANY other people in my life.

Since February, we have pulled Nolan out of French school and taken Abigail to art therapy lessons to help her move through her emotions and distress around being bullied at school. With support from my husband, family and friends I completed my three and a half years of schooling at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. In May, we put our house up for sale, on Mother’s Day weekend and purchased a home in beautiful Courtenay on Vancouver Island at the very same time.  Just three weeks later, we sold our business of 10 years (Clover Clean) and, with continued support from my amazing counselor Colleen, we packed and moved our entire life, this summer, to Courtenay on July 8th.   Yes… the year of CHANGE.

Our world seemed to be falling apart in February and everything felt very uneasy. We had been talking about moving to the island but in the middle of chaos, it was not the right time to do so.  In April, things became more settled.  Nolan was in a new school, Abigail was getting good support from outside of school and the Principal at her school was being very helpful.  I had one class to complete and on top of all that, we had a serious buyer for Clover Clean.  Then, a new MLS listing came up and Marty sent me an email saying, “This house is AMAZING.”  It was in Courtenay and we went over to see it that week, and the rest is history.

Many of our family and friends were unsure of our move (some still are) but sometimes we need to think outside the box and follow our heart, not our head. Too often we listen to our mind and intuitively we know that our heart is right.  Science has proven that the heart is smarter than our head.  I (we) followed our heart and it has been quite the ride.  Four months later we are in our beautiful home, moving at a MUCH slower pace, spending way more time in nature and surrounded by a community of amazing, kind, and generous people.  I am glad I listened to my heart.

At night I listen to the wind in the trees and often hear owls in the distance. In the morning I light the fire, head out to the barn to let out the chickens, feed the cats and bunnies.  I make breakfast, walk the kids to the school bus (9 minutes from the house through the forest).  Afterwards, I take the long way home for an extended walk (because I can).  When I get home, I have time to make a coffee, tidy up from breakfast, plan dinner, get outside and cut wood, and volunteer at the school.  My new life if a very different lifestyle from before.  Still lots to do, but it feels good to give my children the same type of childhood that I was so very blessed to have. Thanks mom and dad!  My dad said to recently me, “I hope you crossed all your T’s and dotted all your I’s Shannon?”   I replied, “I want my kids have the same childhood I had dad.”  Dad’s reply was, “I can’t argue with that.”

This last Saturday I come back to the mainland to attend a funeral for a dear family friend. She was our neighbor for 18 years, close family friend for 39 years and we celebrated every Christmas Eve together.  The amount of people that attended her funeral was a true representation to the beautiful, caring person she was.  Many people called her mommy, including myself.   The stories shared at her celebration of life reminded me how very lucky were to grow up in the small, close knit Port Kells Community.  Many of the families from our small community attended and we reminisced, laughed and cried.  What a blessing!   I walked away on Saturday wanting to be a better mom, love more and also was reminded why community is so important.

If you have been thinking about making changes in your life, don’t let fear hold you back. Follow your heart because it knows best.   I am glad I did.

 

Xo

Shannon

fear

 

Quotes:

What we fear doing most is usually what we need to do – Tim Ferriss

Stars can’t shine without darkness – Author Unknown

 

Great Books to Read:

When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron

Simplicity Parenting – Kim John Payne, Lisa M. Ross

Less is More – Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska

 

Great articles

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Listen-to-Your-Heart-Not-Your-Head

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11982/7-scientific-reasons-you-should-listen-to-your-heart-not-your-brain.html

November 18, 2016 at 5:08 am Leave a comment

Stories Of The Heart

Stories from the Heart

As I sit down to write this blog, I am moved to share the story of the last several weeks in our home in hope that it might help others. Marty and I decided to pull our son Nolan out of school, as we could see that the traditional school environment was not a fit for him.  Nolan would hold it together all day at school, but when he got home (in his safe place), he would erupt and let out all his frustrations (especially on his twin sister). This became too much for Marty and I as we could clearly see that Nolan’s world was coming undone, and our hearts were breaking.  Nolan was always putting his hand on his heart to see if it was still beating (anxiety behaviour), and his passion and excitement for learning seemed to be gone.  He started to have bouts of anger that we had never quite experienced before.  That same week, we found out that Abigail had been bullied at school for several months, and it was very clear that this has affected her mental health.  Hands down, parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done.   My heart has never felt so much and been so broken all at the same time.   These little people that we bring into the world that we are so excited to teach, I have come to learn, that they will and they do teach you more than you will ever teach them.   They make us do, say and feel things we never imagined.   The term “mama bear” really does have meaning!

I have found a lot of comfort in sharing my story with other parents and our counsellor and I am always humbled and reminded that we are not alone and people genuinely want to help.   We are all going through struggles and when we talk to others and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share our stories we also give others permission to share their stories and be vulnerable too.   Then all of a sudden… we are not alone.   Just by sharing my story I was able to connect with several people that have gone through the same thing as we have.  I love how the universe answers when you ask for help.  I just finished reading an AMAZING book by Brene Brown called, “The Gifts of Imperfection.”   She really does say it well… “Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”   She also talks about the word “Resilience.”  I really love this word.   I learned a lot about resilience when I went on my cancer retreats with the Callanish Society where we took the time to dig deep and do some very healing but also very difficult “heart work.”  Brene says that if you look at the research that the five most common factors of resilient people are:

  1. They are resourceful and have good problem solving skills;
  2. They are more likely to seek help;
  3. They hold the belief that they can do something that will help them manage their feelings and to cope;
  4. They have social support available to them; and
  5. They are connected with others such as family and friends.

We all have it in us to be “resilient” and the more we share our stories, we realize we are not alone. We can connect with others that have been through similar situations and all of a sudden, we find “Hope” and knowing that “this is tough, but I can do this.”

I have a deck of virtue cards and each card has a different word along with a description of the word with beautiful quotes, pictures and sayings.   Each night before I go to bed I like to pull a card from the deck and often the card is synchronized with my day or the day to come.  I am always amazed how things come into your life just at the right time.   Last week I pulled the card “Determination” which brought a huge smile to my face.   Determination is the power of intent that drives our dreams.  We focus our energy on a purpose and persevere until we meet our goal.   We care about something so much that even when difficulties arise, and things don’t come easy, we keep on keeping on.   If one path doesn’t work, we try another way.   With determination… we will succeed.  The last several weeks have been very difficult for us, and once again, I am reminded that there will always be ebbs and flows in life.   The word determination really resonated with me as our journey in raising twins with a unique bond, a son that is very sensitive and smarter than his parents and a sensitive daughter that constantly reminds us that she has always been in her brother’s shadow.  Ever since the twins were born we have experienced so many highs and lows, been down so many paths, shared so many laughs, so many tears, but determination allows us to keep on keeping on.

DSC_0740

 

DSC_0742

 

Great Quote by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:  “People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”

 

Great books by Brene Brown:

Daring Greatly

The Gifts of Imperfection

Rising Strong

 

Great intention setting reminder called the vowel check: A E I O U Y (from Brene’s book – The Gifts of Imperfection)

A = Have I been Abstinent today (however you define that – can be challenging when you think of things like food, work, cell phones, facebook and computers)

E = Have I Exercised today

I = What have I done for myself today

O = What have I done for Others today

U = Am I holding onto Unexpressed emotions today

Y = Yeah!  What is something good that has happened today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 24, 2016 at 4:57 am 2 comments

Breakfast On The Go

Fall is here, school days are back and so are early morning routines.   Sometimes, this can create some anxiety for our kids but also for the parents as lunches need to be packed, forms need to be filled out, drop off and pick up’s needs to be coordinated, and a healthy breakfast created to start the day.  Because we are often rushing in the mornings, breakfast can  be a challenging meal and this is why I have decided to make this blog about BREAKFAST; one of the most important meals of the day.   Breakfast can be fast and healthy especially if it can be created the night before.

Here are some Great Breakfast ideas: 

Slow cooker pumpkin pie oatmeal:   

http://www.alive.com/recipe/slow-cooker-pumpkinpie-steel-cut-oats/

Chocolate / banana Chia Pudding: 

http://tohercore.com/overnight-chocolate-chiaoat-pudding/

Chocolate / coconut chia pudding: 

http://minimalistbaker.com/overnight-chocolatechia-seed-pudding/

Apple cinnamon muffins: 

http://wellnessmama.com/2185/apple-cinnamonmuffins/

Carrot/date/ apple spice muffins:

http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/carrot-dateapple-spice-muffins-recipe

Shannon’s Shake: 

1 Banana, any frozen berries, hand full of spinach ( you can’t taste), cinnamon, avocado, pumpkin protein, cacao powder, hemp seeds, add water to thickness you like, blend!  Yum!

Chocolate hemp smoothie:

http://ohsheglows.com/2014/07/03/creamychocolate-hemp-smoothie-for-two/

Homemade granola bars:

http://wellnessmama.com/7942/chocolate-coconutenergy-bars

Avocado/eggs on toast:

http://simplegreenmoms.com/skinny-fried-eggavocado-toast/

Banana nut butter wrap:

Whole grain wrap, nut butter, raisins, and one uncut banana.   Roll and eat!

Plain yogurt: add granola, seeds, and berries

Breakfast wrap:

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/black-bean-andavocado-breakfast-burritos/

Oat Squares:

http://www.alive.com/recipe/sticky-fruit-and-oatsquares/

chocolate-pudding-650wbreakfast granola

Other Great Ideas to Try:

  • Try sun butter on your toast/apples/celery
  • Pumpkin protein can be added to chia pudding, shakes, pancakes and more
  • Sprinkle seeds (hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower) on your breakfast for more protein and brain power
  • Add bee pollen (I use Western Sage) to your shakes for extra immune and energy booster
  • Purchase coconut wraps. Cover with nut butter & roll in a banana. Yum!
  • Make your own hemp milk: cost effective, great protein and good fat for a great brain:   http://feedlife.ca/simple-hemp-milk/
  • Try coconut butter on your toast or in your shake –I like Artisiano brand

egg wrap

Below are some great sites for recipes:

Wellness Mama: http://wellnessmama.com/

The Healthy Family and Home: http://thehealthyfamilyandhome.com/

Feel life: http://feedlife.ca/recipes/

Alive Magazine recipes: http://www.alive.com/category/food/

Yum food for living: http://yumfoodforliving.com/

Food Matters: http://www.foodmatters.tv/recipes

Fresh raspberries an oat flakes in bowl of yogurt on wooden surface

Great (Documentary):

Food Matters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4DOQ6Xhqss

 

Did you know? Our bodies are made up of 10 Trillion cells.

Quote of the Month: A HEALTHY outside starts from a healthy inside – Robert Urich

 

 

 

September 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment

The Dangers Of Commercial Sunscreens and How to Protect Ourselves From The Sun Naturally

Oh my goodness!!!!  It is July in two days!   School has come to an end and Abigail and Nolan are heading into Gr 2.   I officially have 5 courses left at IHN and will be done in May 2016.   Yeah!   With all the crazy heat we have been having there have been lots of questions about suntan lotions and creams.   I hope this blog will answer a few of your questions.

There is growing awareness of the importance of being smart about sun exposure.  The skin is your largest organ and absorbs 60% of what you put on it.   Knowing this, we want to be mindful of the products we are putting on our skin… including sunscreen.   There are potentially harmful chemicals that are found in many commercial sunscreen formulas.

Organizations like The Environmental Working Group have identified the following common sunscreen ingredients as being potentially harmful to human health:

  • Octocrylene
  • PABA
  • Octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • Benzophenone-3
  • 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC)
  • Homosalate

Consumer reports are also saying not to use spray sunscreens:  The Food and Drug Administration announced it was investigating the risks including people accidentally breathing in the ingredients.  See links below:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/07/don-t-spray-sunscreens-on-kids-at-least-for-now/index.htm

http://fox13now.com/2014/07/22/consumer-reports-dont-use-spray-sunscreen-on-children-just-yet/

 6 Tips to a Healthy Relationship with the Sun

  1. Get your D on Spend no more than 5-15 minutes in the sun (with no sunscreen) a few times per week to meet your vitamin D needs. Be aware that getting some sunlight on your skin can be immensely helpful to your health, mainly because UV-B rays in sunlight converts cholesterol found in your skin into vitamin D. Ensuring adequate vitamin D status is essential to experiencing optimal health; every organ system in your body requires an adequate vitamin D level to function properly.
  2. Buy safer sunscreen Check labels for toxic chemicals and use EWG’s guide to choose the best sunscreen for you. Look for broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) coverage and a SPF of at least 15 and no more than 50.
  3. Use sunscreen responsibly Apply the recommended amount (usually about 1 shot glass) 30 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply according to the SPF or even more often if you are sweating or swimming.
  4. Try to limit the amount of time you spend outdoors  On extremely hot days and when the sun feels hottest – usually between 11 am and 2 to 3 pm.
  5. Cover up! We can’t emphasise this enough. The best protection from the sun is complete protection. Hats, clothing (long sleeve shirt and light pants), a shady tree or an umbrella are some of the easiest ways to help prevent sun damage.
  6. Always be prepared Carry sun protection and sunscreen with you at all times. You never know when you or your children will need it.

And here are some of EWG’s top-rated sun care products in the beach and sport sunscreens category, for adults and kids:

 

  • Green Screen D Organic Sunscreen, Original, SPF 35
  • Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen with Hydresia, SPF 40
  • Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sunscreen, Green Tea, SPF 30+
  • Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sport Stick Sunscreen, SPF 30+
  • Releve’ Organic Skincare by Emerald Essentials Sun-Lite Sunscreen, SPF 20
  • Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
  • Seventh Generation Wee Generation Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Goddess Garden Natural Sunscreen

 

The Bottom Line

So long as you don’t get burned, it’s good for you to get some sunlight exposure on your skin. When circumstances require that you stay outdoors for an extended period of time, your best first line of defense against sun-related skin damage is a hat with a wide brim, appropriate clothing, and shade if available. Whenever you need extra protection against potentially damaging UV-A and UV-B rays, use a sunscreen lotion that relies on physical rather than chemical blockers, and that is free of harsh chemicals that may do more harm than good to your skin and overall health.

The EWG Guide to Sunscreens 2015 is chock full of research and product information. Check it out to get the scoop on more than 1,800 products including sunscreens, lip balms with SPF, moisturizers and makeup.

EWG GUIDE:   http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/

 

What if you do get a sunburn?

Nature’s Aid is an amazing product.  I use it for EVERYTHING from sunburn, bug bites, rashes, cuts, scrapes, etc.   It is made up of aloe vera, tea tree, witch hazel, vitamin e and rosemary.   You can get it at any local health store.

 

Some good resources below:

http://wholefoodmatters.net/blog/2010/06/safe-summer-sunscreen/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/06/do-you-know-which-sunscreen-products-to-avoid.aspx

 

June 30, 2015 at 4:29 am Leave a comment

Community

I have been thinking about writing a blog for some time now but life seems to get in the way.  As you can all understand. It is 11:45 pm and got out of bed to write this as my thoughts of gratitude needed to be articulated.

Marty and I watched an amazing movie last night called “The Theory of Everything” (based on the life story of Physicist, Stephen Hawking).  It moved me and reminded me that not only can we do anything that we put our mind to, but also that our bodies are truly amazing.  Stephen was diagnosed with ALS early on in his life (while attending University) and truly lives his life to his full potential and defies all odds by becoming a doctor, having a family, writing two books, traveling the world and becoming a grandfather.  Everyone has their journey in life and they are all as unique as we are.

I am feeling very blessed to have the ability to learn all the amazing things that I have and share it with all that want to listen.  This movie reminds me again that we are not alone and that in sharing our stories, and in times of struggle, it can only bring us all closer together and build that sense of community that we crave… one of the reasons I created my blog.

This year is about building community and surrounding myself with people that want to be part of something bigger.

I think back to my childhood where I was so blessed to grow up in the small community of Port Kells where we were all known by name.  The people in Port Kells would say “Shannon is part of the Donohoe family.”  It really was a “small” community where neighbors knew one another and would visit one another’s home.  The parents of friends could act as surrogate parents to other children.  Children played in the streets under the gaze of friendly and protective adults.  At the corner we had the PK store, PK Building supplies, PK library (with Sharon – best librarian ever!), PK fire hall, PK community hall, Burnies Garage, PK elementary school and of course PK park.  Recently I was at the corner store and they still remembered me…16 years later.  My dad tells me that the owners of PK Building Supplies still ask about me.  Wow!  All the parents knew the kids by name and ALL of Port Kells was our playground.  We left the house early and come home for dinner and mom and dad did not worry… they had many friends in the community that were always keeping an eye out for us.

Today… things are different.  Many of us live in homes where both parents have to go to work and drive long distances to get there.  Often grandparents can not help with looking after the children as they too live far away and are might still be working themselves.  When we get home we are busy going from one activity to the next, making dinner, doing homework and getting the children ready for bed.  Many of us don’t even have time to get to know our neighbors and often we keep our kids close.  Something has been lost…

There are so many ways to be connected to community whether it is your church, the place you volunteer, your school, your local coffee shop, your neighbors next door.  Community has this amazing way of making you feel connected, supported, listened to, inspired, and alive.

I have had the honor to be part of A Rocha’s community for over a year now working with young girls at risk teaching education programs about nutrition and healthy eating.  The sense of community that I feel there even when I walk into the kitchen is truly amazing.  My parents have a home on Mayne Island and every time I go there I also feel an amazing sense of community.  It has been 24 years that our family has been going there and the islanders know us as the “Donohoe” family.   When I was sick I went on retreats with the Callanish Society and YACC (Young Adult Cancer Canada) and I am still part of both of these amazing communities.  Communities are all around us and we all benefit from being part of something bigger… not just our kids.  We are not meant to be independent but interdependent as the saying goes, it really does “Take a village to raise a child.”

 

community 6

 

 

How to build a community:   http://www.thepeacecompany.com/store/prod_cards_community.php

 

 

 

 

April 4, 2015 at 5:31 am 1 comment

Why Children Need to Play Outside…even in the Winter Months.

As I sit and write this news letter, I reflect back on my years of growing up in Port Kells. We were very fortunate to live behind Port Kells Nursery where there was LOTS of space to play, create, build forts, and do whatever we pleased. I am sure many of you can relate to those years of leaving your house, your parents not knowing where you were and not coming home till you heard your name called by your mom in the distance. Other memories might include a favorite climbing tree or a secret hiding place, learning to turn cartwheels with a friend, or playing tag with the family dog.

When the weather is nice and the sun is shining, most parents have absolutely no problems sending their children outside to play. Why? Because we all know that playing outside is good for our kids, but for a lot of us, playing outside means that we can actually get a few things done inside without being distracted. Perhaps, this is why so many people dread the winter months.

The weather changes from warm and sunny to cold and “dreary,” which means that the kids can’t go outside and play, right? Wrong! It is still necessary for children to go outside and play – even in the winter months. There are a lot of “real” benefits for your children when they play outside. Below you will find several of them.

  • Builds Up their Immune System:

It’s no surprise that many children that are raised on, or around, a farm are generally healthier than those that aren’t. This is because on a regular basis these children are exposed to dirt, animals, pests, bacteria and everything else that send some parents running. While we like to think that dirt, animals, pests and bacteria do more harm than good it’s actually the opposite. When your children come into contact with these things in a natural way (outside) and on a regular basis, they are less likely to develop autoimmune disorders and allergies.

  • Provides Exercise:

Playing outside provides children with something many children don’t get enough of anymore – exercise. Exercising while having fun is the best kind of exercise, and that’s exactly what playing outside does. Riding bikes, playing tag with friends, building a snowman, sledding, having snowball fights and other outside activities get our children’s bodies moving…something most video games can’t do.

  • Stimulates the Imagination:

Sadly, one of the things that today’s children are lacking is an imagination. This is because we’re in the technological age – today children are literally shown everything. Why go outside and play cops and robbers when we can watch a movie about it or play a video game? Playing outside helps children develop their imagination, which is something that television, video games, computers, iPods, etc. don’t do. (Goldie Hawn – 10 Mindful mintues).

  • It Promotes Problem Solving Skills:

Children who play outside learn how to solve real life problems better than children who are always in their rooms playing video games or secluding themselves. Regardless of if they’re learning how to get along with friends or trying to figure out the best way to build a fort – they’re problem solving.

  • It Provides Vitamin D:

It’s important that your children get Vitamin D, which is provided by the sun. Vitamin D helps promote better moods, energy levels, memory, overall health and more. Just 10-15 minutes out in the sun will give your children their daily dose of Vitamin D. It doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter outside, your children need everything listed above and playing outside is a great way to get them all at once! Obviously, if it’s blizzard-like conditions outside, your children should stay inside, but if it’s nice outside then bundle the kids up and let them play for half an hour or so.

  • Contributes to Learning (social/emotional development)

Outside, children are more likely to invent games. As they do, they’re able to express themselves and learn about the world in their own way. They feel safe and in control, which promotes autonomy, decision-making, and organizational skills. Inventing rules for games promotes an understanding of why rules are necessary. Although the children are only playing to have fun, they’re learning

  • social customs (as they learn to play together and cooperate).
  • number relationships (as they keep score and count)
  • communication skills and vocabulary (as they invent, modify, and enforce rules).

 

  • Learning to Appreciate the Outdoors

We can’t underestimate the value of the aesthetic development promoted by being outside. Aesthetic awareness refers to a heightened sensitivity to the beauty around us. Because the natural world is filled with beautiful sights, sounds, and textures, it’s the perfect resource for the development of aesthetics in young children.

  • Promotes learning through their senses.

Outside there are many different and wonderful things for them to see (animals, birds, and green leafy plants), to hear (the wind rustling through the leaves, a robin’s song), to smell fragrant flowers and the rain-soaked ground, to touch (a fuzzy caterpillar or the bark of a tree), and even to taste (newly fallen snow or a raindrop on the tongue). Children who spend a lot of time acquiring their experiences through television and computers are using only two senses (hearing and sight), which can seriously affect their perceptual abilities. (Goldie Hawn – 10 Mindful Minutes).

  • Last but not lease…a place to be noisy.

Finally, what better place than the outdoors for children to be loud and messy and boisterous? Outside they can run and jump and yell, and expend some of the energy that can usually be annoying – indoors.

Like adults, kids need exercise.  Most children need at least an hour of physical activity every day. Regular exercise helps children:

  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Sleep better at night
  • Kids who exercise are more likely to keep exercising as an adult.
  • Help to build and maintain strong, healthy muscles, bones and joints.
  • aids in the development of important interpersonal skills—this is especially true for participation in team sports.
  • promotes improved school attendance and enhances academic performance.
  • greater self-esteem and better self-images.
  • Children who are active report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and a better overall mood.
  • helps improve motor coordination and enhances the development of various motor performance skills.
  • prevents or delays the development of many chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension) and promotes health.

 Conclusion

In the past parents worried more about their children being home by the time the street lights came on then whether or not they got the recommended amount of daily activity. Today the obesity epidemic among children ages 6-19 has reached 15 percent, almost quadruple what it was in the late 1960s.  As kids spend more time watching TV, they spend less time running and playing. Parents should limit TV, video game and computer time. Parents can set a good example by being active themselves. Exercising together can be fun for everyone.  Walking or biking to school can be a great way to increase exercise in the day and get outside.

 

Activities for the Great Outdoors:

  •  Nature walk – (Nature trails in Surrey)  http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/2294.aspx
  • Go ice skating.
  • Build a winter bonfire and make s’mores.
  • Rent some snowshoes and go snowshoeing.
  • If you have the equipment, go winter camping. If that’s too ambitious, check out your state parks for cabin or yurt rentals. Once you’re there, go on beautiful winter hikes (afterwards, a cozy fire is definitely in order).
  • Take your dog for a walk. It’s one of the main benefits of having and owning a dog.
  • Go cross-country skiing.
  • Attend a dog-sled race. You don’t have to live in Alaska to see one of these – check your state’s Department of Natural Resources page, they usually have a list of upcoming events.
  • http://www.hellobc.com/british-columbia/things-to-do/winter-activities/dogsledding.aspx
  • Go sledding.
  • Build a fort and have a snowball fight with your kids (or your spouse/partner). Or buy a snow block maker and build an igloo.
  • Take a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa and sit outside on your front porch swing.
  • Shovel paths in the snow.
  • Feed the birds or go birdwatching. Make your own birdfeeders out of pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed.   Check out Campbell Valley Park.
  • Go on a winter picnic. Take blankets, sandwiches and hot soup in a thermos. This might give you some fun, cheap date ideas for couples as well.       Check out the Reifel Bird Sanctuary.
  • Head out on a photo expedition to take pictures of the winter landscape.
  • Have kids or dogs? Set up an obstacle course in the yard with jumps, tunnels and other challenges.
  • Make snow paint. Simply add food coloring to water and put in a spray bottle, then go out and paint your yard!
  • Geocaching is great fun.   Places in Surrey: http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/3103.aspx

 

 Link to outdoor activities in BC – some great ideas:

http://www.hellobc.com/british-columbia/things-to-do/outdoor-activities.aspx

 

Related books:

January 23, 2015 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

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