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  • Did you know this? You have a Brain in your gut!

    A fascinating fact to remember- we have a secondary brain in our gut! This is an actual fact, in case you’re doubting it or have never heard of it. The ENS or Enteric Nervous System is located in the sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon. It is a series of neurons, neuro-transmitters and proteins that zap messages between neurons, support cells like those found in your “main” brain and a complex circuitry that enables it to act independently, learn, remember and produce “gut feelings!”

    What!!?? I know right? How cool is that? I never would have guessed that our two brains could work independently of each other! If you experience colitis, irritable bowel syndrome or some other stomach or intestinal issue, the “how” our two brains communicate with each other directly affects what our gut will be doing. Bacteria plays an important part as well, since every person’s gut bacteria is unique to them.

    There is way too much science to list here on how it all works, but the message is clear: your body is a well-oiled machine, tuned and working in the background at all times. This brain is known to help you make decisions based on “gut feelings”.  It is also directly affected when we feel emotions like anxiety and fear that may immediately result in symptoms in the gut that send you to the nearest bathroom.

    Your higher brain sends signals based on these feelings and decisions but the “gut brain” can actually work independently of it! Have you ever had that burning in your “gut” that lead to you changing your mind about something, like getting in that cab or all of a sudden realizing that you need to turn around “right now!” These are signs of your intuitive second brain in action!

    When you pay attention to these “feelings” or whatever it is that draws your attention, it is trying to tell you or make you aware of something that’s not quite right or different, so don’t ignore it!!

    The more information you have about how your body works, the more you can make decisions on feeding it properly by providing the best nutrition. Regulating your inner machine workings will go a long way in guaranteeing that your two brains will signal each other in a balanced way and you can always trust your natural “gut” instinct!!



    I love this word! I love what it makes me feel just saying it in my head or out loud. I love the pictures that form instantly when I say awaken, like a flip book that goes from one picture to another randomly. There are a lot of great words in our language that trigger a visceral response, let’s delve a little deeper into this one shall we?

    The first picture this brings to mind for me is a baby, learning something new for the first time. The expression on their little face, the emotion they feel while experiencing this new thing leads to the awakening of their soul to something new as well. It’s absolutely priceless to be there and witness it with them.

    The same could be said of anyone I suppose learning or experiencing or even witnessing something for the first time that leads to some form of growth. The awakening of something new. A beautiful circle develops between people that experience an awakening of their own and the people that are there to witness it.

    Awakening also brings to mind my journey to where I am now, how I’ve evolved.

    I’ve learned a great deal about myself over the years. I was always the one watching and caring for others in certain situations, never really wanting to be front and center, don’t pick me etc. I was content with this, I was learning everything and learning about others as they learned too. When I started coming out of my shell, or comfort zone and made to participate more in the learning process, my awakening began!

    I had to come face to face with my flaws, (yes I had some, hard to believe,lol) I had to step out and be recognized for myself and I had to deal with the emotional backlash of that. We all feel not enough at some point in our lives, I was no exception, I was just better at hiding it and acting like it was all good.

    Awakening began when I stepped out and confronted myself from a different angle. Accepting these parts of myself that were not good enough and allowing growth and room to feel ok with that. As soon as I started this process, felt the emotions rolling through, allowed them the freedom of expression (crying, laughing, and getting angry) my insides started to unfold, like the petals of a flower. With each lift of release, I felt lighter.

    Walking into a room full of peers felt different and because I felt different, everyone around me reacted differently. I no longer felt invisible or shy, so lots more people met me in the eye and started talking to me. People that had intimidated me were the first ones to smile and wave.

    Awakening can be so much to so many, I hope this helps others that can relate to what I’ve been through. Being around the right people at the right time, reading a book at the right moment to spark a flame in you, participating in a webinar at the right time to help move you through to the next phase of life. These can all help awaken you to the power you alone have inside and allow you to be witness to others awakenings.



    Ahhh, Winter… 6 things to keep your spirits up this winter season!

    Here it is for us up north, the cold, blustery weather and the bleak and colorless landscapes. Yet, we all stay here! (Unless retired and snow birding it) Why?

    Some of us have no choice, that’s for sure. Families, histories, real estate etc. keep us where we are located and we deal with winter the best we can.

    How can we make this an uplifting season? Let’s go over 6 things to do this winter to keep our mood elevated and help us to look forward to each day.

    Winter is a harder season for some of us, mostly because of the driving conditions and cold winds. We can all agree on the beauty of it when the sun is shining and the wind is still, but honestly, how often is that? Let’s make a pledge to try these six ways to stay positive and hopeful this winter!

    1. Shoveling is great exercise! You can really burn some calories working the snow blower or shoveling by hand. When dressed properly for the wind, but not too heavily that you sweat and catch a chill, don’t hesitate to get out there and work it! If you regularly exercise, you’ll know your limits, if you don’t, make sure you never go past the initial muscle fatigue right away. Build your stamina, so that by the end of the season, you’re in better shape than when you started!
    2. Cuddle with the family! Winter is awesome for family time. Take out the board games, light some candles and enjoy a long night of Monopoly, Risk or your favorite game. How often during the busier months do we enjoy face to face time with each other?
    3. Read a good book or ten. Find your new favorite author or re-read your favorites from ten years ago. There’s nothing cozier than snow falling outside while warm and comfortable on the couch reading! Don’t forget that reading builds your vocabulary as well as sending a good message to your kids that reading can be fun and relaxing, not just a chore for school.
    4. Visit relatives that live in warmer climates! January is a great month for visiting relatives in the south in my experience. We always go after X-mas and before Valentine’s day to take a break from the weather and visit loved ones we won’t see for a few more months. It is absolutely revitalizing to get actual warmth from the sun mid-winter!
    5. Snow ski, Cross country ski, Snow board! If you’ve never done any winter sports, (I’m a summer person if you couldn’t tell already) this is the time to try something new! If you already do these things, bring someone new to them with you! The only way to get me out there is with someone I trust that knows how to teach me!
    6. Taking walks in the park in winter is great too when weather and snow levels permit. The quiet of winter is remarkably different than any other season. Take note of what birds have hung around, what animal tracks you can see and take some pictures of the crazy patterns that snow can make on the trees and man-made structures.

    For those of you that love winter, great! You can share your own favorite things to do this winter, please feel free to go to the Comment section!

    Stay positive this season! Enjoy what Mother Nature throws at you as best you can. Before you know it, it’s over!



    Mindfulness and Present Moment Awareness

    You’ve seen many emails and articles on our website now that have mentioned Present moment awareness and Mindfulness. To explain them further and give you an understanding of just what they are, I found a great explanation that follows:

    Mindfulness is conscious awareness of what you are feeling and experiencing in the present moment. But there is more. To get to joy it’s not enough to just be aware of the present. To get to joy you have to trust that the present moment is exactly where you belong.

    Joy comes from the knowing, the trust, the deep understanding that you are, right now, enough. With that trust and the joy it brings, you can let down your defenses and stop seeking validation. You can lean into happiness, which is the bubbling up of little pieces of joy in the moment.

    As adults with histories, we can’t know happiness unless we know it’s opposite and find it in our hearts to trust despite that knowledge. It takes vulnerability and reliance on forces outside of our control, but, mostly, it takes a commitment to creating live out loud joy for ourselves.

    Huffington post; Debbie Woodbury, author, speaker, survivor

    Wow, that says a lot! I find this to be a beautiful explanation of what we’re talking about when we mention these terms. A real example in my life; things are running smooth and happy, my husband was able to retire from the Fire Dept after thirty years of putting his life on the line. Then, BAM, someone comes in to our home and steals our emergency money, right out from under us. All the plans we had for that money, gone…..

    How do you stay present when these things happen? Debbie said it best above, that it takes being vulnerable to trust in the things that we cannot control! Yes, we felt violated and crummy!!

    Yet, we allowed ourselves to feel these emotions and then come back up from them to more positive feelings, like gratitude and love. Does this happen overnight? Everyone is different as to how long they stay in that space and hold negative emotions, but the more practice you have in processing through them, the quicker you can move.

    Our strategy? We started counting the good things about it all; they did not hurt anyone or anything! They took nothing else. We can always replace the cash! Present moment awareness example; where do we go from here? Better, stronger locks; no hidden keys for starters! So, no big vacations for us this year, we’ll take smaller local ones. Wait until next year though, we’ll have saved more and learned more from this than we ever thought possible and we will concentrate on Today until then!

    Summer: Nurture yourself with Nature

    Hiking, walking or meandering through the woods in the summer is so much more special to those of us in the North. Our season is so short here, we have to be very careful not to miss it!

    It doesn’t have to be summer necessarily to enjoy nature, but warmth, sun and wildlife activity tend to make the experience a more pleasant one. There is no comparison to the sounds of summer! A bubbling brook, a roaring waterfall, the birds, locusts and bees all forming another eco system that we rarely let ourselves be a part of.

    Bathing in Nature, sitting quietly in the middle of a field or forest can quiet the mind and lift the spirit. Notice the details around you as you walk slowly, picking up pine cones, shells, stones or fossils. Can you identify the birds you hear? Do you see any signs of wildlife?

    Breathe deeply and slowly, place your hands on your belly or chest and feel your breath going in and coming out, all while standing still or sitting in this natural environment.

    Communing with that part of yourself that benefits from the peace and quiet of your surroundings can lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress, improve your mood, boost your immune system and on and on it goes!

    Shinrin-yoku is an actual practice of Forest Bathing. Specifically walking through a forest at a slow pace, sitting, noticing, and practicing silence to commune with nature.


    What part of nature can you reach this summer? Can you get out and enjoy a peaceful piece of it more than once this season? If you have a high stress job or lifestyle, try to make a point of Nature walking as often as possible. Nurture your soul with the spirit of the outdoors!

    You deserve it!

    • This is Part one of a four Season Nurture with Nature series


    Labyrinth Blog

    By Kelly Kralles

    Walking a labyrinth has always been in my sphere of influence. Hearing it spoken about, speaking to people that ran it, all going on around me for years. I never actually walked one until now.

    Wow, what a great experience!! The atmosphere generated by the participants was so peaceful, the beautiful flutes and magical music being played by Sonam Targee such a perfect accompaniment. This particular labyrinth was held at a church by the Labyrinth Society.

    I started at the mouth with shoes removed and thought of what I’d like to release or work through while walking the labyrinth. (This is what I was told to do, everyone is very helpful getting you started). Then I started following the person in front of me, stepping one foot at a time, single file, staying on the path or circuit. Taking the turns at first was a study in concentration, but I quickly got the hang of it, so that I could stop thinking about the turns as I approached them.

    About half way through, I started to feel slightly light headed. I started smiling to myself (and possibly to others) as I progressed further, because the feelings were starting to overwhelm the thoughts! As I reached the middle of the labyrinth, I joined the others gathered there to stop and say a quick blessing to the room and to the Universe for helping me find this quiet place in my mind.

    Now it is time to turn around and follow the path or circuit back out. Same feelings coming in waves now, light, airy, slightly dizzy. No room for actual thoughts anymore at all. Moving around others now too as I work back, so effortless to continue around each other without thinking about who was going to move where.

    Following one foot in front of the other, around and around until coming out again. Thank goodness for the chairs, had to go sit down, close my eyes and stay with the feelings for as long as possible. What a treat!!

    I have been around energy work and am a Wellness facilitator, so I am more sensitive to energy than some. I can honestly say, this was so much fun in more than just an energy sense. It really clears the head and allows you to concentrate on nothing but where your feet are going for just a little while. We all need that for balance and restoration. I highly recommend walking a labyrinth if given the opportunity.

    Go to the labyrinthsociety.org for more on how to find the next labyrinth walk!

    Does this beach paradise hold the secret for long life?

    Does this beach paradise hold the secret for long life?

    And what does this have in common with

    “Stay grounded and listen to your Dad?

    I watched a wonderful show on CNN, it is Bill Weir’s The Wonder List. Each week he visits different places and cultures, mainly ones that have tradition and have not changed very much over time, treasures of the world that are not well known. He mentions that he wants to visit these unique and special places while they are still there, before they change.

    Meeting Dan Buettner, BlueZones.com, and listening to his adventure stories, Bill learned some very interesting things. One being a statistic from the World Health Organization that claimed that Okinawa Japan had the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world. They lived longer and healthier. This became his kick off for this interesting series.
    The question, after looking at United States longevity statistics is, ‘How do we get those extra 13 years?”

    The episode that I am writing about here is his visit to Ikaria, a small island off Greece where people live well into their 90’s and 100’s.

    Being in touch with life while slowing down to enjoy it, lots of movement and their diet, are major factors of their long lives.
    Growing their own food means that for every meal they are bending, picking doing some form of movement to gather and prepare. They did not know what Organic was as they have never used anything on the plants they grow.
    Meat’s a rare treat and a tomato is a snack with their diets being mainly 95% plants.
    Interaction across generations is common with Grandparents watching and playing with children.

    A few general comments from the Island were:
    Having a sense of value, feeling needed.
    Hiking, walking, dancing
    A life of service
    Moderation for everything
    Here, life is slow.
    Longevity is 25% genetics. 75% comes from where and how you live.
    Daily routines that help with stress
    Eat a plant based diet

    Does this beach paradise hold the secret for long life?

    This is the opening line on the CNN page about longevity on the island of Ikaria.

    “Stay grounded and listen to your Dad”
    This is Bill Weir’s comment to his daughter at her very young stage of aging.
    He is watching his daughter grow up, become independent much too soon and, from my perspective, wondering about his own longevity and hers, maybe without him to guide her.

    So the common bond, of these seemingly unrelated two statements, is the unknown question of how long will we live?

    He also mentions the following statement, as a side note, because his daughter is included as he personalizes his story.

    “The real lesson is, when they reach a certain age of freedom your kid is going to ignore everything you have ever said.” Bill Weir

    “Very Useful” – The Most Important Part

    19122011“Very Useful”  –  The Most Important Part

    “When talking with another friend this afternoon, I shared with her what you said about how the most important part of any interaction is the way you feel about yourself, and it was a very useful insight for her. I will definitely be reflecting on and drawing upon that for years to come.”

    After we had a business conversation on the phone I received the above message from my friend, Alyce, the next day.
    What I was drawn to was her wording “very useful”.
    If someone had asked me what our conversation was about I would have answered that we talked about how important it is to feel good, or actually great, about yourself.  This is a very important piece of any communication or connection and thinking of it as “very useful” seems to add more clarity and even an “aha!” Yes not only is this a good idea, about knowing yourself and being aware of how you feel in the moment, but it is also “very useful”.
    I can do something with this.
    I started wondering about how many things we talk about each day that have little meaning and are not especially useful, let alone “very useful”.
    Taking care of our self is important, not only for us but for everyone we come in contact with. Note: we exchange energies with each other.

    Think about this, would you rather be in a room with a very happy, enthusiastic person or a nervous, angry or upset one? . . . and when you are, pay attention to how that has an affect on you and how you feel.

    It is also interesting, and useful, to remember and know that we learn many things by repetition and the power of suggestion.
    That is what I have done in the paragraph above (and below)
    I have repeated that this is “very useful”, have drawn attention to it by bolding the wording and hopefully have gotten your attention as to what is “very useful” in this writing.

    Now back to my friend Alyce’s comment on what was “very useful”. That is, knowing and understanding that an “important part of any interaction is the way you feel about yourself”.

    Next step, pay attention to your conversations and notice if your chosen words had any real meaning. After you have a little insight on that then pay attention to how you are actually feeling about yourself. And then think about how your own thoughts, about yourself, are a part of how you feel. Not the whole thing but a piece to consider.

    Are you feeling alert, confident, curious, interested, trusting?
    Are you willing to pay attention or are you daydreaming and thinking of other things to talk about.
    If this is the most important part of an interaction and is “very useful” to know, then our mission with any connection, besides being informed and prepared, is to feel balanced, alert, aware, and grateful to be with the person we are interacting with.

    I have been taught that we need to hear or see something at least seven times to even remember it let alone have it be part of who we are.  In this writing I have repeated, that this is “very useful” information, eleven times, if I counted correctly.
    If you have read this far then you have the idea and the rest is up to you.

    A Mesmerizing Meditation – Romancing The Wind

    34829931Now here is a 5 minute inspiring meditation that will keep your focus, create a sense of peacefulness and just plain feel good.

    This whole 5 minutes is mesmerizing- watch the end landing
    Romancing The Wind

    The guy flying the 3 kites is in his 80s, and he’s from Canada. He comes to the Washington State International Kite Festival every year. His skin is like leather as he normally flies with his shirt off. He is deaf, so when he flies we hold our hands up and wave them for applause.

    You must watch to the end to see the amazing landing of that last kite!

    Go For It!

    Recently, while talking with my 7 year old grandson – he said, very matter-of-factly, that when he grows up he is going to play football for the Buffalo Bills or maybe play baseball for the Red Wings.
    At 7, he believes this – he’s not limiting his dreams to the realities of his skills or the improbable chances of making it into a major league team. Such undaunted determination is not just heartwarming to this grandma but awe-inspiring into the possibilities of dreams, goals and hopes. When and Why, as adults, do we become so practical and dismissive as to forget our dreams and limit our reach for the stars?
    I recently saw a quote from contemporary poet, Kurtis Lamkin: “Believing is all a child does for a living.”
    As adults, we should try to remember what it’s like to see the world through those childhood eyes! Whether it’s just declared 2012 goals that you aspire to or a long ago buried dream – don’t weigh down the goal with practicalities and realizations – go for it!