2016 Year in Review

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Playing in the rain on my wedding day

2016 was a great year overall for us. We had our ups and downs as anyone does, but we had so many wins this year it made all the crummy stuff worth it.

Some of the things from our family vision board manifested themselves into reality this year. I’m totally into what many refer to as woo woo; I believe in visualization and I look at my vision board every morning before I meditate. In February we traveled to Arizona for a week to check out potential places to live and scope out the local scene. In December we married on Maui next to the ocean underneath the beautiful palm trees, something we had dreamt of for many years. It was such a fun week celebrating with family and friends on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. If you had told me ten years ago all these things I wished for would actually happen, I probably would have told you, “You’re crazy!”. My life was just stumbling along until I discovered and added in some of these success habits and goal setting techniques. I also began writing my future book about my cancer story and how I recovered from treatments, which I can’t wait to share with you!

This year also marked an important milestone for me. 15 years that I have been blessedly cancer free. I feel like that is a reason to celebrate! I have made it this far with no chronic illness besides my hypothyroidism from radiation therapy. It does not mean much to life insurance companies however, they think I will die soon apparently so they refuse to insure me at any cost. It’s quite unfortunate that you get treated like some kind of defective human after cancer. I can’t donate blood either. I’m just going to keep living as healthy a lifestyle as I can so I can live to 100! (My current goal) I’m still thinking about ways I can help and inspire other childhood cancer survivors that being healthy can be accomplished after cancer, I do not like the current statistic that 80% of childhood cancer survivors have a chronic illness by age 40. I want to lower that number.

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Myself all puffed up on steroids during treatment in 2001

We’ve also been dealing with the toxic black mold situation that has progressively gotten worse the longer we are living here. It’s such a nightmare to try to get out of if you don’t have a safe place to go and a wedding already planned and paid for with non refundable plane tickets. I have read multiple books on minimalism over the past few years and made it my goal to lose the materialism and stuff that doesn’t bring me joy, but I’ve floundered at it quite honestly. I seriously cut back on buying things, but I felt like I couldn’t ever get rid of enough stuff! Well, now we really don’t have a choice. The universe has brought me a lesson on the importance of minimalism and shedding excess stuff. We can bring what we deem safe and the furniture is all going. A new mattress on the floor in an empty room is better than being ill!

Myself now with my family

Myself now with my family

This next year will be super exciting as more things manifest into our lives from our vision board. Currently we are packing, selling and donating in preparation to move to Arizona. I’m immensely excited about this as I have dreamt of moving to a warm climate for a decade now. It’s finally happening! When you evaluate your life and gain clarity on what you really want it can happen. Years of hard work eventually do pay off. When we looked at the current environment we live in (weather included) it was not conducive to the type of lifestyle we’d like to lead, so we made the decision to move across the country. It’s interesting how it all came together in the past few years, as if it were simply meant to be. The universe works in mysterious ways indeed. Have a happy, healthy, amazing New Year!

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The Invisible Enemy

mold“If, however, the mark breaks out again in the house after he has torn out the stones and scraped the house, and after it has been replastered, then the priest shall come in and make an inspection. If he sees that the mark has indeed spread in the house, it is a malignant mark in the house; it is unclean. “He shall therefore tear down the house, its stones, and its timbers, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall take them outside the city to an unclean place.” – New American Standard Bible

I apologize as I haven’t written a post for quite a few weeks. We’ve been dealing with a monster in the closet, so to speak. Actually, the monster is in the walls somewhere. I was very ill through April into May with a raging sinus infection that knocked me down and dragged me around for three weeks. On and off 103 degree fevers, I could not breathe through my nose, and I contemplated buying stock in Kleenex. The otolaryngologist put me on oral and injectable antibiotics for the haemophilus influenzae that came up in my nasal culture. For the first time since I beat cancer 15 years ago, I was actually scared. I thought I might end up in the hospital, but I mustered up the energy to make it through my work day and go home to lay in bed. To attempt to combat the warfare that the multiple antibiotics were going to wreak upon my intestinal flora, I forced myself to eat a yogurt each morning. That was all I had the appetite for, so I started losing weight too. My coworkers were very concerned about my health, every day they would ask me how I was doing. I got by on yogurt and lots of organic herbal teas that month.

The whole experience cost me time, my health, and quite a bit of money in doctor and pharmacy bills. I was barely functional for my son’s birthday in April, so I did not have a party for him this year. He also had a sinus infection, albeit much milder. I usually am dead set against any radiation exposure since my cancer experience, but I conceded and had a sinus CT scan. The report showed just maxillary sinus disease, which is typical of fungal sinusitis. Because I knew how much better I felt when we were in Arizona I decided against sinus surgery. I made the decision then that I was done with this house, with the humidity and wetness in NJ, and the only thing that kept me from leaving everything behind right now and driving to the desert with some clothing in a bag was our upcoming nuptials. Airline tickets were already purchased (non-refundable); plans were already in place, things that weighed heavily on how much more I was willing to take to get past this. I have been through hell before with my health before, so now I’m stressing over this whole situation. We have no family to stay with that have a clean(er) house. There are no guarantees that a nearby apartment will be any cleaner and the rent for a 1 bed in my town is 1500, plus you have to lock yourself into a long term lease. I don’t want to be locked into a lease in a state I don’t want to stay in. We decided it’s only a few months, we can make it right??

Two months after the sinus infection episode, my hair started falling out. Usually this would be an indicator of my thyroid being off, but I felt normal energy wise. My thyroid labs seemed ok to confound this even more. My physician thinks it could be a combination of the stress of the mold illness and the stress it has put on me mentally knowing what caused it. I upped my intake of vitamins and switched to a thinning hair shampoo to try to help my hair grow. It did stop falling out after about a month, but the damage had been done, and right before our wedding!

Four months after the episode with my sinus infection I got the ERMI test done from Mycometrics. It showed all 5 toxic black molds that are of the most concern in the home, along with some other nasty varieties like aspergillus niger.

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My Ikea Dresser

This was not a good sign, and meant that we would have to give away or trash most of our porous possessions. This is a hard thing to do, especially for me because I have tons of artwork I created growing up and lots of photographs from before we had digital cameras. I also amassed an extensive book collection over the years which I love, even autographed copies of books for my son. Paper is a big carrier of mycotoxins unfortunately, and impossible to clean. Photos and documents can be scanned at least, but the artwork is too large to scan most of it. Luckily for me, I had bought IKEA furniture for us, and it just so happens they are recalling all the dressers now. One less thing for me to worry about getting rid of! I’m trying to look at the positive side of joyful minimalism and getting rid of everything. (I have learned that over a long time the toxins can dissipate, so I will be saving the most sentimental paper items and things in a plastic tote.)

Five months passed now, I have been taking Cholestyramine powder to help bind the toxins. It causes some GI issues such as cramping, constipation, or diarrhea, but it is better than doing nothing. I started my son on activated charcoal and bentonite clay. Now it’s just a nightmarish waiting game of counting down the days to moving day, of being able to see Dr. Gray or Dr. Ackerley in Arizona to detox after the big move. I am praying for a clean space out there and dream of the nice dry warm air. We removed everything from the dressers to give them back to IKEA and I was horrified to see mold growing on the jewelry compartment that had never had a spill! I was so glad to get rid of those dressers.

These 5 molds are the worst of the worst; even one spore of stachybotrys chartarum could indicate a serious indoor mold problem:

  • Aspergillus penicillioides
  • Aspergillus versicolor
  • Chaetomium globosum
  • Stachybotrys chartarum
  • Wallemia sebi
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The ERMI test

Toxic black mold is extremely dangerous for everyone living in the building, even if they do not have the genetic susceptibility to be a canary in the coal mine as I am. I’m not sure if it’s a gift or a curse at times; where we are living there is no mold smell to tip us off. The only way I figured it out was my chronic sinusitis; I refused to listen to the doctors after a while when they would insist it’s not mold. I had a lightbulb moment one day listening to Bulletproof Radio and Dave Asprey discussed how he grew up in a moldy house and it messed him up; he had chronic sinus infections and autoimmune disease. Mold can suppress your immune system, cause inflammation, and damage the myelin sheath. Symptoms can vary so greatly from person to person, from acne or eczema to ulcerative colitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. I also believe that my eye floaters I have acquired more recently are due to the mold exposures, if you research the subject there is a lot to support this theory. I will have to find out if that goes away once I am detoxed, but I am optimistic.

 

Multiple Sclerosis is a rather common result of long term exposure of Stachybotrys or Chaetomium, according to studies they both can destroy the myelin sheath; the security system to your highway of nerves, which can lead to a host of permanent and severe health problems. When the World Health Organization recently convened, Dr. A.V. Costantini, head of the organization; an internist who modestly claims to be a “just a country doctor,” listed fourteen diseases wherein fungal (mold & Candida Albicans) forms of microorganisms have been found include the following: atherosclerosiscancer, AIDSdiabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritisSjogren’s syndromesystemic lupus erythematosusgoutCrohn’s diseasemultiple sclerosishyperactivity syndromeinfertilitypsoriasiscirrhosis of the liverAlzheimer’s disease, sclerodermaRaynaud’s Diseasesarcoidosiskidney stonesamyloidosis, vasculitis, and Cushing’s disease. The government and insurance companies offer little to no protection against this hidden menace, even though it can be just as damaging as a house fire. (Many people lose almost all of their possessions due to microscopic mycotoxin contamination.)

Things I’ve been utilizing to detox myself:

  1. Cholestyramine powder – This is a powdered resin that you have to drink in a liquid. Only available as a prescription, but has minimal side effects and is currently one of the best binders for mycotoxins. (That I know of.)
  2. Activated Charcoal – You can use any variety of activated charcoal, I use a powdered one in liquid for my son and we take the capsule form. Bulletproof offers a great activated charcoal.
  3. Diffusing Rocky Mountain oil’s Purify blend or my own version of Thieves oil. These essential oils help to combat biotoxins and bacteria in the air.
  4. HEPA air purifier – I’m not sure how well the one I currently have works, I plan to upgrade to a better one after we move.
  5. Supplements – I take a slew of supplements to help with inflammation: fish oil, reduced glutathione, turmeric, CoQ10, probiotics, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 + K2, and a multivitamin. (All of my inflammation marker labs have turned up negative so I guess it is working!)
  6. Neti pot with salt, colloidal silver, oil of oregano, or Manuka honey dissolved in distilled water. I rotate these around as they are all powerful against microbes in their own ways.
  7. Nasal spray with Xylitol or Olive leaf extract. Xylitol helps break down biofilms so that other substances can get to the bacteria in the sinuses and eradicate them. Olive leaf is a great remedy against viruses and bacteria.
  8. Bentonite clay, salt, and essential oils in the bath to pull toxins.

Have you ever experienced mold problems before? I would love to hear from you and how you dealt with it. And please share this if you found it helpful, I fear many people have chronic health issues or children with asthma and they have no idea that it could be their home or work causing their health problems, especially in humid climates.

If you would like more information visit:

http://www.momsaware.com

http://www.survivingtoxicmold.com

http://www.paradigmchange.me

http://www.survivingmold.com

http://www.moldymovie.com (This documentary featured more than one person from NJ!)

A Joyful Life

IMG_9858About this time fifteen years ago, my biopsy came back positive for recurrent malignancy. I seriously thought my life was over just before my 21st birthday. I made sure I enjoyed plenty of time with my friends and had lots of fun before I went into the hospital. Having cancer is a great teacher, but no one should have to go through such a horrible ordeal to learn these valuable lessons that I am about to discuss. 

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” -Sam Levenson

I spent way too many years not loving myself. My body was not fit enough, my face wasn’t pretty enough, my teeth weren’t white enough, and my hair wasn’t straight enough. The list would go on and on. I could totally drone on with the things I thought were wrong, but I won’t. There’s nothing but self-love from me now. 😉 I learned the number one most important thing in life is my health, which is why I eat intentionally, exercise regularly, and meditate. You can read my posts on how we eat and how we supplement if you are curious. The second most important thing is living your dreams. If you aren’t happy and joyful most of the time, you can’t be truly healthy.

IMG_9844Recently, we went to visit Arizona for a week to visit different towns and look at places to live. This has been a dream of mine for over a decade now, to move to Arizona. Before this trip, I had only seen Arizona in pictures; so many people are puzzled as to how I just decided I am moving to a place I have never been in my life. Why Arizona? I think the fascination started in two ways. First, my aunt growing up was my role model. She was amazingly smart, beautiful, kind, and always impeccably dressed. She often visited Arizona (sometimes to test missiles) and talked about how she’d love to live there. (She never did get to move there before passing away.) Second, after I survived cancer the second time, I found Dr. Andrew Weil’s books and fell in love with his work in integrative medicine. He told a story in 8 Weeks to Optimum Health about how his car broke down in the desert of Arizona in 1973. He fell in love with the beauty of the desert and never left. For some reason or another, that story really stuck with me and created a seed of vision.

This trip was dedicated to enjoying everything Arizona has to offer and finding out where we’d like to start our lives out there. I have to say, it more than exceeded the expectations I had set in my mind. I felt like I was finally at home. The weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and the food was amazing! Needless to say, we were all sad to board the plane to go back to NJ, for we had fallen in love with our forever home. We are very excited to make our way out there next year to start a new chapter in our lives.

I hear so many people make excuses for not living their life their way on their terms. When I tell people I want to leave NJ and move halfway across the country to AZ where I know no one, they often have this very similar response, “I would love to leave NJ, but I can’t because my family is here.” Well, my family is here too! I love my family, but do I really want to spend my life not pursuing my dreams to be near them 24/7? Not really. I am most joyful in the summertime, it gives me more energy. Why would I want to stay where it is cold and grey for months every year? If I loved winter and winter sports it might be a great place to be, but I do not.

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We are fools to waste our time, make the most of your time here. If you moan and complain you will only get negative energy back. If you have your health you have all the wealth in the world, you are truly blessed. Do what brings you joy, go live in that place you’ve always dreamt of, find your dream job, your dream spouse. There’s no reason not to, and if you tell yourself otherwise, it’s really just an excuse to stay in your comfort zone. So many of our limitations are self imposed. I heard a great idea, to plan your life backwards from your death, that way you will live in alignment with your true goals. I would say that works as I had to evaluate my life as if it were over any day; it creates a lot of clarity as to what is important.

You only live once; go live your dreams! Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone to chase your dreams? What is stopping you? 

My Thoughts on Supplementation 

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A beautiful bounty of organic produce

I went back and forth on whether or not to take supplements as I grew up. The media tends to confuse us with the back and forth studies: Multivitamins will raise mortality rates, no wait, vitamins are good for you! The thing I’ve come to realize over time and much researching is that the Type and Quality of the supplements you take matter. You can indeed cause harm by taking the wrong type of supplements or the wrong doses. Vitamin A in beta carotene form is way different than Vitamin A in retinol form. Vitamin C as ascorbic acid is very different from whole food Vitamin C derived from oranges.

So, what do we take for supplementation? Should you supplement? What about children?

It’s also important to understand your body’s unique needs and genetics. If you can afford to do it, I highly recommend getting your genome test done from a site such as 23andme.com. This allows you to better understand what your body’s individual needs are. For example, if you have a defect in the MTFHR gene you should be taking methyl folate. What you take will also be based on your dietary needs as well. Supplementation is meant to enhance and supplement your healthy diet, not supplant a bad diet.

From the time I thought about possibly having a baby, I took a multivitamin only with a separate fish oil supplement. I did this throughout my pregnancy. I did not want to use the prescription prenatal with all of the additives and artificial colors. I used New Chapter Perfect Prenatal organic whole food derived vitamins, and Garden of Life Ocean’s Mom 3 Prenatal fish oil supplement. Optimally, you would skip the multivitamin and try to buy each supplement you need individually. This is not the easiest route and it takes more research and money, but if you can do it, go for it!

What do I take today? A slew of supplements, which I understand is not a fit for everyone, but it works for me to keep my health optimal. It is costly and you have to put in the effort to swallow 20 pills a day. This is my current list of vitamins:

  1. Gotu Kola by Nature’s Way – I heard of this from Wim Hof, it is good for the skin sag I have from the rapid wasting I had in the hospital on chemo.
  2. Caprylic Acid by Now – This is good antifungal and has many uses. From PubMed: Caprylic acid is superior to & less expensive than Diflucan, & has potential application for anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-Alzheimer’s disease, anti-Autism, anti-infection, & general circulatory improvement.
  3. Hawthorn Extract by Now – This has been studied many times on PubMed for use in treating CHF, or heart failure. It is also good for Hypertension. Anyone who has been through cancer treatments knows that your cardiovascular system could use some support!
  4. Organic Olive Leaf Oil by Barlean’s – The oleuropein, and other compound found in olive leaf, have a unique feature that makes the leaves particularly effective in fighting against various micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses. These substances impair the ability of the viruses to create amino acids, thus preventing their ability to reproduce and multiply. It has been found that oleuropein is able to relax the blood vessels, lower blood pressure and even prevent the formation of blood clots. In addition, olive leaf also helps to stop irregular heartbeat, improve blood flow in the coronary arteries and balances blood sugar levels.
  5. Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 by Life Extension – I have been taking CoQ10 for a long time to offset the hardships my body endured from chemo. Recently I have stepped it up with this CoQ10 + Ubiquinol. Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 with BioPQQ® contains shilajit (which studies have shown doubles CoQ10 levels in the mitochondria) plus the breakthrough compound PQQ (shown to support the spontaneous generation of new mitochondria in aging cells). This represents a three-way strategy for enhanced mitochondrial support.
  6. Ultra-C 400 by MegaFoodA landmark study published in 2004 in the Journal of American College of Nutrition studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and vitamin C over the past half century.  Today’s fruits and veggies were found to contain 30% less vitamin C than your grandparents’ fruits and vegetables.
  7. EGCg by Now – From PubMed: Intervention studies using similar amounts of green tea, containing 200-300 mg ofEGCG, have demonstrated its usefulness for maintaining cardiovascular and metabolic health.
  8. Organic Evening Primrose Oil by Barlean’s – I take this for its health benefit for hypothyroidism and hair loss/brittleness. It does seem to help with hair and skin!
  9. Vital Proteins Collagen – Collagen peptides contain the same amino acids as gelatin which is identical to the protein found in skin, nails, hair, bones, cartilage, and joints. You can add this grass fed, pasture raised collagen to any liquid or yogurt for extra nutrition.
  10. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega – Fish oil is well studied to help with inflammation and cell function. (30% of your brain is made of DHA) I also eat fish every week. Nordic Naturals uses nitrogen to process their fish oil and keep it from oxidizing. Make sure to refrigerate these!
  11. Vitamin Code Raw Calcium by Garden of Life – I was low in calcium after pregnancy so I spent time researching calcium supplements. I found that vitamin D, magnesium and K2 are very important for your body to be able to use calcium, they work synergistically. This supplement uses plant calcium along with vitamin D3, MK-7 from natto (converts to K2 in the body), magnesium, and other naturally occurring minerals and trace elements.
  12. Vitamin D3 by Life ExtensionVitamin D3 can be synthesized by humans in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from sunlight. But, due to the winter season, weather conditions, and sun block, the body’s ability to produce optimal vitamin D levels may be inhibited. I take this D3 along with the D3 in my calcium supplement to keep my D level optimal. I do not live in a sunny state (yet!) so I have my D tested regularly.
  13. Probiotic with FOS by Jarrow – Probiotics are well known to benefit gut health, the immune system, and possibly even brain health. It contains strains that help protect and maintain a balanced intestinal microflora, and support immune function and intestinal health. (FOS is a natural prebiotic fiber that enhances the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract.) They must be kept refrigerated.
  14. Turmeric Strength by MegaFoods – Curcumin is the potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer active ingredient in turmeric. It has been well studied to be full of awesome, with minimal contraindications. Look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids.

For my toddler, I give him a few things to supplement his diet and picky on and off toddler eating.

  1. Rainbow Light chewable multivitamin – My integrative medicine pediatrician recommended these over gummies. Are they organic? No. But so far it is hard to find a great vitamin for kids.
  2. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 gummies – Fish oil is important for good health and brain development, and this is one of the best brands out there for fish oil. It also doesn’t smell or taste fishy. (So that kids will eat them!)
  3. Green Pastures Blue Ice Infused Organic Coconut Oil – Each serving has 65% min coconut oil, 2+/-ml of Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and .5ml +/- of X-Factor Gold High Vitamin Butter oil and / or Blue Ice Skate Liver Oil. I mix this in warm juice so that my little one will take it and get his healthy fats.
  4. Udo’s Choice Flora Infant’s Probiotic -includes 6 strains of beneficial bacteria for infants and toddlers 0-5 years old. One serving per day helps maintain healthy intestinal flora, support the immune system, synthesize important B vitamins necessary for development, and is ideal for travelers to maintain healthy flora while away from home. I have used this since my son was born, I would mix it in breastmilk and now in his drinks. I use extra whenever he isn’t feeling well.

Always do your research on vitamins before you start. Some people may not need to supplement if they are getting all of their nutrients from food. It is of my opinion that most people nowadays are very busy, we get old food from grocery stores that could have lost some nutrition, and we have poisoned and depleted much of our soil that it is not up to its full potential to create nutrient dense foods. For these reasons and more, I feel very comfortable taking vitamins. Nutrition is important, and we all do the best we can with what we know.

Do you supplement? What are some of your favorite supplements? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Our Food Budget and Grocery List

 

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One of our many fancy nut, cheese, and fruit salads

I have recently become a fan of the Frugalwoods blog since I had stumbled across it one day while perusing the internet. We had already been working on becoming more frugal so that we could save as much as we can for our move to Arizona. I’ve looked back with remorse at all the money wasted over the years on material items that rarely brought me joy for more than a few days. I had totally bought into the consumerist machine that is fed to us from birth in this country. Nowadays, organic food brings me more joy than designer bags. I suppose being a mom could do that to you!

Everything we purchase is organic whenever possible. We try to keep our food budget at $400 or less every month, buying bulk as much as we can. Here I will share our strategies for living healthy on a budget, it can indeed be done! We only eat out at a restaurant for special occasions, maybe 3 times in a year. I rely on Chipotle or Panera if we are out on a day trip and need a fast food lunch in a pinch, because they are relatively inexpensive and I trust the food quality.

I believe everyone should have access to as much organic whole food as possible. Food is thy medicine; I made a conscious choice to not compromise my family’s health by purchasing cheap food. As a cancer surviving badass as well, I attribute my great health to my diet and lifestyle. The only medication I take is natural porcine thyroid supplement because the radiation to my neck atrophied my poor little thyroid gland over time. It took about 10 years (15 to 25yrs old) for that side effect to manifest itself, but that is another story.

 

A favorite weeknight dinner, veggie stir fry

These are our staples that we purchase on a regular basis:

Costco

  • Organic eggs
  • Jasmine rice
  • Coconut water
  • Organic chicken
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon (frozen)
  • Cheese (cheddar, parmesan)
  • Kerrygold butter
  • Organic bananas
  • Nature’s Path organic oatmeal
  • Organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • San Pellegrino water
  • Organic coffee beans
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Organic extra virgin olive oil
  • Organic fruit snacks
  • Organic bread (currently Dave’s Killer Bread)
  • Organic frozen fruit (for smoothies)
  • Chips (non GMO)
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers (organic, gluten free)

Whole Foods

  • 365 organic beans (black, chickpeas, kidney beans, etc.)
  • 365 organic lentils (dry)
  • Frozen pizza
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon (when on sale)
  • 365 organic whole wheat pastas
  • Organic salad greens
  • Organic fruit (apples, pears, grapes, berries, lemon, lime, avocado)
  • Almond or Coconut Milk
  • Organic vegetables (carrots, peppers, greens, squash, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, cucumbers, onions, garlic)
  • Fancy cheeses (when on sale)
  • Organic dark chocolate (when on sale)
  • Organic yogurt (whichever brand is on sale)
  • Organic teas (Yogi, Choice, Rishi)
  • Occasional beer and wine
  • Organic cereal
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts

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Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with veggies

Our typical menus are simple right now as we are trying to save as much money as possible. We have been fancy in the past as I wanted the baby to be exposed to as many foods as possible during those important formative times of introducing foods. He has no food allergies at all and has rarely been ill, even being in school! I could attribute that partially to the magic of extended breastfeeding I suppose. Meat is not eaten in our home daily. Fish such as sardines and salmon I incorporate 2 to 3x a week for the healthy fats. The Mr. really enjoys chicken and bacon so we have that on occasion but only organic pastured meats.

 

A dragonfruit smoothie bowl

Breakfasts

I tend to eat simply for breakfasts during the workweek, usually yogurt and a hard-boiled egg or piece of fruit. Sometimes I will eat oatmeal instead of yogurt, and some days I have toast or muesli bread with peanut butter. Occasionally I’ll add a piece of cheese to my breakfast. I also get free coffee from work too, bonus perk!

The little guy eats cereal and a banana sometimes if he has to get to school. We usually try to do eggs and spinach cooked with coconut oil or butter if we can for him. Some days I will give him bread with peanut butter and fruit with a hard-boiled egg. On weekends I will make him pancakes from organic buckwheat flour and add fruit or organic dark chocolate chips to them for a treat. He also enjoys toast with butter and honey. I get our honey from a local friend who keeps bees.

The Mr. usually drinks bulletproof coffee during the week and does intermittent fasting. On weekends he will cook things like eggs with lentils and spinach, and sometimes bacon. Or I come up with something to make that I want to try, like this dragon fruit smoothie bowl!

 

One of our fancy weekend breakfasts

Lunches

I always pack lunch for work. I tend to bring yesterday’s dinner leftovers most days. Once a week I have a can of sardines and a salad or gluten free crackers. Sometimes I will make a tuna sandwich or beans and rice.

For the little one we try to vary his lunches more, he loves PB&J and mac n cheese like most children of course. Sometimes I will give him cut up vegetables with ranch dressing or hummus to dip them in and cheese or a hard-boiled egg. He also loves pasta with red sauce. Rice and beans are a big favorite of his as well. I just keep tossing veggies at him really. His favorites are broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, cucumber, pepper, green beans, and spinach.

We make soups on the weekends and freeze the extra

Dinners

Dinners on the weekdays are usually quicker than weekend dinners. Once a week we junk out and eat pizza. Tuesdays I typically do Taco Tuesday with black beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce. I usually have a salad or a pasta on other days. The Mr. has been working more nights now so sometimes he will set something up for us so when I get home I can finish it or just serve it. 😁 Recently he made crockpot sesame chicken with broccoli over rice. It was delicious!

I hope this peek at how we eat has helped give you an idea how to eat the best foods on a budget. My diet inspiration comes from a combination of somewhere between The Blue Zones and Bulletproof. I don’t feel like we sacrifice at all with how we eat. I would love to be able to grow all of our own food, but that will have to wait until we have our dream house in Arizona, as it gets really cold here for many months and tends to kill the garden.

 Let me know what you think, do you eat organic? How do you afford it?

A Frozen Inspired Gratitude Jar

Frozen Gratitude JarWhen I first heard about gratitude jars, I wanted to make one so that I could use it to help my son learn about being grateful for what he has and also create a good lifelong habit for him. I immediately started perusing Pinterest for ideas. I wanted it to be gorgeous as well as functional so that it would spark joy when I looked at it; I knew if it was displayed we would be more likely to use it. The first thing I did was pick out the glitter paint for the jar. I found some pretty glitter at Michael’s and some Mod Podge. If you would like to make your very own gratitude jar, I have outlined here how we created ours, step by step.

Supply list:

  1. Mason Jar
  2. Glitter
  3. Mod Podge
  4. Craft sticks for mixing (optional)
  5. Coin slot lid (optional)
  6. Ribbon
  7. Stickers

Now you are ready to start making your jar!

Frozen Gratitude JarStep 1: Mix the glitter and Mod Podge together and pour into your mason jar. It will all be on the bottom. Next, start to slowly swirl the jar until it is evenly coated on the inside and the jar is now upside down. Allow the excess to drip out. Prop the jar over whatever you would like and let it dry upside down. I just left mine overnight to make sure it was set.

Frozen Gratitude JarStep 2: Decorate. Now comes the fun part! I chose sparkly blue stickers and ribbons for our jar. I kept with the Frozen theme by using snowflakes and glitter. You can decorate it with anything you’d like. Have fun with it, come up with your own theme! I used scrapbook stickers, rhinestones, and ribbons. The jar lid was replaced with a coin bank jar lid to make it easy to slip our notes into the jar.

Step 3: Coat the jar with Mod Podge after it is decorated to seal it. Let it dry and then add the ribbons. That’s it! Now your jar is ready to add lovely notes of gratitude or wonderful things that happened today. At the end of each year we empty ours and read them together as a family. It has become something to look forward to each New Year. Enjoy!

New Year’s Detox & Goals

Each year I make it my goal to make the coming new year my best year ever. This way as I progress through life I am assuredly becoming a better version of myself. I’d like to share my goals for this year with you lovelies:

  1. Drink green juices or smoothies more frequently. These help get more nutrients into your body quickly and they are great to drink first thing in the morning for energy all day. It’s also a good way to squeeze more fruits and veggies into your diet. (But let’s face it, that juicer is a pain to clean!)
  2. Unfollow people on social media who do not have a positive outlook on life. I no longer wish to clutter my newsfeed with things that do not serve me in any way. What you put in your mind is just as important as what you put in your mouth.
  3. Get to the gym before work. This one is hard for some people. I know as a former night owl, it’s painful to get out of bed by 5am. Especially when it’s cold and dark and the covers are so warm and inviting. The research shows that early morning workouts get your blood going, make you more productive throughout your day, they give you energy and help you sleep well.
  4. Journal every day and use a planner to plan your days out. This year I’m going to try the Passion Planner and see how I like it, I’ve heard great things about it. I also use the Freedom Journal to do my morning journaling. These habits have really helped me to become more productive and organized, which everyone could benefit from.
  5. Meal plan more consistently. Meal plans make it easier to get through a busy week and they help you eat better too. You can also save money by only buying the ingredients you need.
  6. No screen time one hour before bed. I am notorious for breaking this rule by reading and writing on my phone in bed. The research is pretty solid that we get a better nights sleep when we cut the lights out at least an hour before shut eye.
  7. Learn to say no to things that do not serve you. If it doesn’t feel right or help you move toward your goals, saying no to things is ok.

I hope this list inspires you to create your own list for the New Year! I’d love to hear some of your goals in the comments section. What would you add?

10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Cancer Treatments

It’s pretty overwhelming and life changing to hear you have cancer when you’re a kid. It is at any age really, but especially unexpected when you’re very young. Here are my top ten tips based on things I wish I had known then: 

1. Look into fertility preservation. I would have done this for sure if I had known the risks of possibly losing my fertility forever. It gets a mention when you start talking about treatment options but I felt like I was so upset about just trying to make it through treatments the thought of Will I be able to have kids when I’m 30? never really crossed my mind. I also learned later down the survivor road that women face possible early menopause after chemotherapy. I am very fortunate that I was able to have at least one healthy child, but if I could do it over again? I would have spent the money to preserve my eggs, just in case. 

2. Decide if radiation is really worth the risks. I had a relapse after radiation therapy, so if I could do it over again, I would have opted out of the radiation with chemotherapy. It destroyed my thyroid and some of my neck muscles and salivary glands. There are studies going on right now to see if there is any benefit to the radiation vs just chemotherapy. Knowing what I know now, I would have just gone with straight chemotherapy and added healing alternative therapies such as acupuncture and juicing to supplement my body’s recovery. 

3. Really, really care for your oral health. I am now 14 years out from my last treatments for my relapse. I’ve had so much work done to my teeth to try to preserve them that I seriously could have bought myself a house by now. My most recent bridge replacement cost $7400, but I need to be able to eat right? I didn’t realize the damage that all the radiation and chemotherapy would cause my teeth. I’m holding out for the stem cell replacement teeth, but in the meantime I have to keep replacing bridges and working on implants, which are very expensive and time consuming procedures. Your body also tends to not like foreign objects, so I know that I could face side effects from implants as well. There wasn’t much I could do for my teeth while I was in a coma on a ventilator, but before I would have gotten extra cleanings and really cleaned my teeth after vomiting more often. Maybe I would have tried the oil pulling after cleaning my mouth out. I also would have invested in a Waterpik sooner! Making sure to have good nutrition would have helped as well. I was eating things like Doritos, soda, and Taco Bell…stuff that I wouldn’t touch now if you paid me. I really miss my teeth. 

4. Make sure you have a plan for meeting your nutritional needs. Juicing your greens and taking supplements is a good start. Having the proper amount of good fats is vital too, if you look at Dr. Weston A. Price’s work on nutrition and teeth, you can connect this to #3.   I know how hard it is to keep food down sometimes when you are on chemotherapy, but your body can’t thrive without nutrients. I’ve also read promising research on the ketogenic diet with chemotherapy. 

5. Go take a yoga class. I wish I had discovered yoga much earlier in my life. It has improved so many things for me, physically and mentally. I am very grateful to have yoga in my life. I just can’t say enough good things about yoga.  It has made me a calmer, stronger, more balanced person.

6. Try some alternative therapies. I started getting into alternative or natural medicine after my last treatments were long over. I have used acupuncture and essential oils to Manuka honey and colloidial silver. These things have helped me clear up sinus infections without antibiotics! I wish I had known about the power of supplementing your immune system so it could better do its job.  

7. Read as many books as you can. I’ve read so many books now on spirituality, health, self-improvement, how to prevent cancer and live longer. One of my favorites is Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. I also recommend The Blue Zones and The China Study

8. Your mindset is a very powerful tool. If you think you will get better then you will have a much better chance than if you have doubts. Negative emotions create disease so let it go. Forgive anyone who has ever hurt you, and forgive yourself. It’s not your fault, and feeling guilty will not help you heal. I didn’t have the easiest or happiest childhood, and it may have contributed to my own disease. I don’t know, and I never will, but it surely couldn’t have hurt to let a lot of the negative stuff go and forgive everyone.  

9. Get enough sleep. Sleep is super important and I was not taking sleep seriously when I was dealing with cancer. I had partying to do! I think we regularly stayed up till 4am and slept till lunchtime which wasn’t the healthiest thing ever. The body does a lot of repair work at night so make sure that you get plenty of sleep. 

10. Therapy does not mean you’re a failure. Everyone needs help to succeed. The top CEOs have an amazing team in their corner, you need the same. Fighting for your life is the biggest struggle you could ever face, so don’t be afraid of getting some help for your emotions during this stressful time in your life. I wish I had. 

The Holiday Hugging Challenge

KHPhoto_0848I’ve had an aversion to touch for as long as I can recall. I’m not quite sure where it came from; my best guess is a traumatic early childhood memory. I can still vividly remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car as a child not wanting my thighs to touch my sibling’s. This was pretty difficult to accomplish mind you,  as I have three brothers, so the car was crowded.

I assumed that others did not want to be touched either based on my own paradigm, so I just went through my young adult life avoiding physical contact with anyone that I wasn’t really comfortable with. I would hug and kiss my boyfriends of course when I started dating, but I would receive complaints from some that I was not affectionate enough. Still though, I never enjoyed hugging much, it just felt expected. It may be the introvert in me, the jury is still out on that.

kuzco

This was me!

Then of course, I had a baby. All of a sudden my world was filled with snuggles and cuddling all the time, and I loved it! There is no fear of rejection with a child, they are so full of love. I felt so at peace hugging my baby boy. It made me wonder why I found it so easy to be affectionate with him but not with adults.

In more recent years I started to come to the realization that this fear of rejection and intimacy is holding me back in life. There’s this little child inside that says, “Hey, it’s easier to not do anything than to try and be horribly rejected!” Sadly, I listen to this voice far too often! When I joined the yoga community and saw how friendly everyone was, I almost felt like an outsider looking in at all the happy squealing women embracing each other. I longed to be part of that world. So here is where my challenge began. I would force myself out of my comfort zone and hug people! It has taken a lot of mental work to push myself to get over my fear of hugging random people, but I have been doing really well so far.

So, I propose a hugging challenge for the month of December! Anyone can join me at anytime. My goal is to try to hug at least one person every day. Hug everyone and anyone this holiday season and spread some joy and love. Tis’ the season of giving hugs! If you’re already a big hugger then some other random acts of kindness will work too. 😉 Spread the word and let me know in the comments if you have ever been afraid to be intimate with someone.

The Best Holiday Gifts for Yogis 2015

The holiday season is upon us, and some of you may be scrambling to find the perfect gift for that special yogi in your life. Here are some of my favorite things this year:

Holiday gifts

  1. Yummi Yogi Yoga Cookie Cutters
  2. Lotus Peace Petals spoon ring by Alex and Ani
  3. Mama Ganache fair trade organic chocolate truffles
  4. Manduka PRO Mat – Limited Edition
  5. Dr Bronner’s Organic Unscented shaving gel
  6. Suki face exfoliate foaming cleanser
  7. PWNXMAS ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ blue yoga leggings
  8. Lifefactory glass bottles
  9. Yogitoes towel
  10. The Magic Path of Yoga by Upside Down Games