Spring Has Sprung!

For most of us, our concept of seasonal timing is way off. Unless you are a gardener, work with plants, farmer or otherwise spending your days outside, it probably feels quite early for Spring.

February 1st, 2018 marked the midway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. While both the Solstice and Equinox are thought to be the beginnings of their respective seasons, they are the height of their respective seasons. Really we look to the Lunar New Year as the Spring festival which was February 16th this year. 

The energy of the Spring is a huge shift from winter and no matter where you live the light is changing and so is nature. It is one of the most important seasons in terms of tuning in to pay attention to the needs and requests of your body, mind and spirit. 

In Chinese Medicine the Spring connects with the Wood element which connects to the Liver & Gall Bladder. The wood element is a lot about rigidity vs. flexibility, expansion and inspiration. Since the Liver is our biggest filter it helps to process all the good and bad we take in. Physically it helps us process toxins, supplements, alcohol, and all of the emotions. 

BODY - Your body craves flexibility in the spring. It can be hard if you are out of balance to get into stretching, but start a yoga practice today. Hip openers, can be wonderful to open up the Liver channel which runs from your big toe up into your groin and your rib cage. Working on stretching the outward side body is additionally helpful as the Gall Bladder has much to do with symptoms of tight IT bands, temple headaches, shortening of the torso and much neck & shoulder tension. Adding in some lemon water to your morning routine, herbs for the Liver and sour can help ease stress and add flexibility into your tendons. The Liver also does very will with spring bitter greens such as dandelion. 

MIND - When you are health the spring feels joyous and like a great time to get creative, you will dive in and start a garden or an art project. It's a great time to sign up for a course or start training for an athletic event. However, if you are depleted or overwhelmed the Spring can be a very difficult time for your. Mental stress is the most common way that people are out of balance. In Chinese medicine this mental stress is most often seen as Liver Qi Stagnation. Usually this leads to feelings of irritability and anger, and a short frustrated fuse. Using this time to expand your mindset can be deeply rewarding if you start a mindfulness practice and meditate, even 5 minutes a day.


SPIRIT - As mentioned above your mind will be delighted if you act on any inspiration that you have. A healthy Liver is not only full of ideas, but also uses energy to express them and communicate them outwardly to the world. 

They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds. - Mexican proverb

If you took downtime and looked inward during the winter, the spring is a great time to make a leap forward on anything that came to mind. Often things that have been simmering in your subconscious come to light during the spring and can become even more fully expressed during the summer. It is a time that you might have vivid dreams, pay attention to them as that is often where you are processing the goings of each day as well as gaining insight to who you are and what work you are ready to do in the world. 

For a more in-depth look at your specific body and what you might need this season - join Emerge, a Spring Women's Circle. It's all virtual and it's beginning March 28th!

Bringing Vacation Home

mountains tetons nature

Vacation is amazing. Nature is restorative. Both of them are vital to surviving life in an urban environment. 

Each time I leave town, especially if it is out into nature, I can feel my whole body relaxing. That's the point right? It's to take a break and do less. The point is not only to do less, but also to think less.

This break was amazing, not everything went to plan, but problem-solving there helped really put me there. All the thoughts of business, writing, wedding planning melted far, far away.

Now that I am back in the middle of a city, sirens run loud, my block smells like urine, people all around me are stressed and tapped out, I feel lost. I feel warm and cozy and happy in my body surrounded by lots of discontent. 

In cities, we run ourselves ragged. From work, to social lives, to exercise, even self-care can become another bullet on a never-ending to-do list.

What if we, stopped adding to our to-do lists?

What if we had less stuff to take care of?

What if we bring our vacation home?

Can you do that? Can you do less? Explore more? Get curious about all the amazing things that surround you in this life?

I invite you to try this out. Explore something new where you live. Take some things off of the to-do list, put your phone down, and take some time to just BE in your daily routine. 

City to Sea to the Mountains

I have always been a city girl. I was raised in a small city and I have chosen to live in bigger cities my whole adult life. I love the pace, the culture, the food. I love being a hub for friends to come visit. 

I love being able to walk out my door and have a variety of activities to choose from.

While in a city, I have also always lived by the sea. From Berkeley to New York to Spain back to San Francisco, being close to the water has always provided me comfort, stability and a huge natural resource to check in with. 

When shit hits the fan, the city shifts suddenly. The beautiful cacophony of yells, music, trash cans, neighbors, garbage trucks and traffic simply transform into NOISE. The energy of being in a hub with interesting people who are eating great food and going to interesting events transforms into OVERWHELM.

It is in those moments of personal chaos, there is no other option but to seek nature. It is simply to save myself that my feet must touch the sand, I must stand at the edge of the ocean, and remember how small I am. How insignificant this problem is. How the world keeps turning no matter the heartbreak, sorrow, turmoil, joy, drama or worry we carry. 

On days when I can barely function, I get out of the city. I cook myself some food, pack a picnic, drive myself down the coast, take off my shoes, put my feet in the sand. These moments when my feet touch the ocean remind me that I am alive. The way my body feels laying in the warmth of the rays of sun help me to feel protected in the chaos of nature. It was only there that I found solace. 

While the sea has been a great resource to me, I got an idea, a whisper, an intuitive feeling that the mountains were what was calling me this year.

I can't wait to see what comes of the trip, what adventures come. I can't wait to come home with clarity, and mental space and feeling resourced.

John Muir said it best - 

All She Needed

Over the weekend I spent 16 hours learning about pediatric acupuncture and herbalism with an amazing teacher. What I walked away with was the knowledge of how to treat so many ailments and the reminder of what this medicine is really for.

With the teachings of Raven Lang I learned more in two days than I learned in some 15 week classes. Raven has over 40 years of experience practicing medicine and is constantly curious and keeping up with current research. In her 70's, her long silver hair hugs her shoulders and her energy is palpable in the room. She has a firm, commanding presence and she also has a soft maternal energy that radiates kindness and compassion.

Our inner child truly shouts for help when we are sick or injured. It is common for adults of all ages to really want their mom as they fight a fever off or are lethargic from being sick for a week. 

Raven's years of experience span treating people of all ages and she is full to the brim of resources and homework for patients to learn how to take care of themselves at home.

This weekend taught me recipes, remedies, herbal dosages, and point prescriptions. But even more so it taught me that our role as a practitioner is an incredible important and intimate one. 

I see patients come in with various aches, pains, ailments, discomforts, being under-slept, overtired, overstressed - as adults we often forget how to take care of ourselves. Self-care of eating, sleeping and breathing gets put aside as we conquer to-do lists and strive to become more productive and powerful. 

We rush things. When moving quickly is no longer working our bodies start to sound the alarms. A small headache, a little nausea, some tiredness. And if we don't listen, the alarms turn to sirens and they make sure they are heard. Headaches morph into migraines, nausea turns into digestive ailments and tiredness turns into fatigue and total lethargy.

When the alarms sound, it is time to slow down and listen. If you need help listening - go get acupuncture. If you can know what your body is needing, do it. Rest more. Eat some healthy foods. Go have fun. Get to nature. Exercise. Breathe. Meditate. Just be. Do what you need to do, for you, before the sirens.

In our busy lives, minds and bodies we often forget that a little bit of space and stillness can take us a long way. This is a reminder, that sometimes the best way to help yourself is as simple as that.

stillness support raven lang

Creating Space - The Depth of Winter & Contraction

What is space? How do we create it? 

Space is simple. It is padding of time, a breath or physical distance. It can be being alone, away, but there can be space in the midst of a bustling city corner with rushing pedestrians and honking horns.

If you are an introvert you probably 'get' what space is, and how to take it or make it for yourself. Space is downtime, time you don't need to be 'on'. This is something that introverts need. It's a way to balance the time they are out in the world and need to be on and engaged with groups of people.

While downtime and making space can be something that is familiar to many, it's also foreign to many others. We live in a world where there is a lot of value on action, results and being seen socially. Life appears as images on social media, when we hang out with friends, being out in the world. Often these works can be bettered by having invisible time, being alone, not doing anything, sleeping a lot, taking time to write (just for yourself) and look inward.

This space is a natural part of our Winter season. Many of us dread winter, it's cold, dark, miserable. There is a major key to living in it well, rather than surviving it: accept and embrace it.  Winter is necessary, take time to contract, take time alone. It is a great time to look deep inward. It is the perfect time to evaluate your calendar year and look to the next one. It is the perfect time to make resolutions (not to take action on them). It is the perfect time of year to access some of our deepest dreams and desires.

Sleep, hibernate, eat well, spend candlelit nights writing about your deepest, and darkest thoughts.

The Darkest Day

December 22, 2015 marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. It is the day where we will have the least amount of light in our lives. While many think of this as the beginning of winter, it is really the mark of the peak of winter. Right in the middle of the cold, comes this day where there is little light and a long night.

Has your year been heavy? Dark? Sad? Have you felt a list of physically draining symptoms (low-libido, fatigue, pain)? Are you ready to shift away from the many things that are hard for you and move towards a life that is more of what you love?

The winter solstice is a pivotal moment where our hours in the night have a beautiful way of telling us,  "This is as dark as it gets. It just gets lighter from here."

If you have been carrying pain, suffering and you are ready to let go of it, today is a great day to get it out of your system. Write a journal entry, paint something, and toss it into your fireplace or burn it safely over a candle. Think to yourself, "I am releasing..." 

With this same intention of movement and shifting we are moving into longer days, which means more light! While we look at what we want to release, we can also look at what we are ready to have more of in our lives. Light a candle, think of what you want and bring anything that represents more of what you want.

Wishing you a warm and cozy dark day. May you light as many candles as your heart desires. 

Why we want Superfoods to Save us

And how Health is never about just one thing.

While headlines like, "10 foods that will save your life" are catchy, easy to click and we want them to be all we need. If all we needed was more almonds or avocados, wouldn't life be swell? Unfortunately it's not that simple. While I will not argue with the indefinite benefits of super foods such as kale, seaweed, chia seeds, ginger, turmeric, etc. Our attempts to isolate these key foods and praise them as our saviors leaves a huge gap in how we can improve our nutrition and overall health.

In Chinese Medicine much of what is nutritious and beneficial to your health is based on your constitution. Each of us has a given constitution, some people are born hearty, and some more fragile. Within that there are certain foods that play to our constitution's strengths and some that will likely lead to various types of illness. While there are plenty of super foods that we can all add that help us, learning to know your body, your tastes and cravings is a much more effective way to look for longevity.

With many schools of thought and different ways of eating, it is also not too complicated. Here ar the best things you can do when choosing your food.

-shop at your farmers market (seasonal produce has immense health benefits to help keep you healthy through the season. Additionally, the less time between harvest and eating, the better! Grocery stores often have produce that has been picked and shipped, letting nutrients fall off slowly)

-cook at home (this doesn't have to be complicated or expensive! My easiest at home meal is greens with sausage and a grain. It takes 20 minutes and is healthy, affordable and has far less sodium than eating out)

-cook & eat warm foods (raw is ok once in awhile, but in general your digestion loves you to pre-digest aka cook your food! This helps longevity because your body isn't working so hard each and every meal)

If this seems more complicated than drinking that Kale smoothie today, get started on one small part today. Start to shop seasonally. Then add on the cooking in a few months. We are biodiverse creatures and need more than one food or food group to keep us going! Believe me, health and wellness will be all yours.