Heart of the Matter Sessions

Symptoms of Something Below the Surface

The woman in her twenties who has recurrent yeast infections and wants to know about how to do a Candida diet…she is also really struggling in her marriage – doesn’t feel loved or connected to her spouse.

The mom with young children who cannot seem to drop the baby weight, is often bloated, and has sugar cravings…she is also working a stressful job, has very little energy, and is haunted by a traumatic event that happened a few years ago.

The woman in her forties who is struggling with multiple hormone imbalances resulting in multiple surgeries and medications…deep down she feels disappointment about her life and a fear that she has missed her own vocation.

Don’t miss it.

Though the physical and the emotional can seem totally separate, they are intricately connected.

I am not saying the symptoms are “all in their heads.” I am saying that the physical, emotional, and spiritual are all part of the story and must be part of the healing process. Yet, it can be hard to see how these elements fit together and how to restore balance and vitality.

It can also be hard to find some one to talk to who is willing to look at the whole picture.

The Heart of the Matter

This phrase: “The Heart of the Matter” has been coming up for me often lately. You will find it scribbled in my planner, at the top of lists of ideas sitting beside my bed, in designs on my Canva (web design application) page. Many health practitioners talk about getting to the root cause or finding answers or tracking down clues like a health detective.

Yet, I am drawn to the heart.

I have found over the past several years of listening to people’s stories about their health, that I can almost see the heart of the matter rise to the surface in what they are saying. There are headaches, rashes, and low energy to discuss. But, there is always something more – something deeper below the surface that includes both underlying physical imbalances and emotions/fears they are holding onto. Something that is keeping them stuck, making their symptoms chronic.

Once I can see something deeper, this directs the few simple action steps I recommend – addressing the physical is a key piece of the puzzle, and I honor the part it plays. We also talk through ways of addressing the emotional piece – stress, grief, fear. If they are open to it, one of my favorite things is to pray with my clients and teach them a technique to use on their own. There is great power in being honest about what is at the heart of our struggles, releasing feelings, and then listening to the still small voice – the Counselor, the Healer, the God who sees.

Do You Need to Be Heard and Supported this Month?

This February (a month when we’re inundated with images of hearts!), I have carved out space for 10 “Heart of the Matter” Sessions. 

We will talk and pray, and you’ll receive 2 to 3 simple strategies to help you start feeling better.

Click Here to Find a Time that Works for You.

Or, you can email me to set up a time at sweetwateroffering@gmail.com.

Self Care While Your Kids Are Sick (or during other unexpectedly hard weeks)

On Sunday evening, we were having a lovely meal and game night with one of our favorite families. They had invited us to come over a couple of times over the past month, but it hadn’t worked out for various reasons. I was so happy that we were finally having this fun evening together, when my 5-year old walked up to me and whispered, “My tummy hurts. I think I might throw up.” Of course, we made it only halfway to the bathroom before his dinner came up all over the shiny hardwood floors (so very happy it wasn’t carpet, though!).

That was how my week started. The night that followed was a long night, with hourly calls for help from my little one. He went back to school on Wednesday, but by then my daughter had joined in on the fun. She had a much lighter case, but she stayed home from school that day.

I have been reflecting on self care a lot lately, so my question this week was: what does self care look like on a week like this?

Here are a few thoughts…

Welcome the Gifts of These Moments

When our regular routine gets disrupted by illness or other unexpected needs, our whole focus changes. We have to adjust our plans. The to do list we already made gets scratched out, and a whole new list of more urgent to-dos replace it. We cannot go through our day on autopilot, we are forced to “wake up,” to be present, and to notice our surroundings.

These times are filled with frustrations, disappointments, and plenty of things to complain about. We are often left exhausted by less sleep and stressed by what we have to cancel or left undone. But, if we shift our focus, we can also find beautiful gifts and simple joys that may get lost in the hustle and bustle of regular life.

For me, it is a matter of shifting into a mindset of welcoming and being present with what comes. I cannot simply do what I always do, I have to notice more, listen more, and usually pray more. Making the shift into welcoming helps me to feel happy to be one there caring for my sick child instead of feeling mad about the extra work or fearful about what else may happen.

I can let go of my other plans more easily and welcome a quiet moment holding my child, reading stories together, or playing together – all things I would not have had much time for on a regular day. This is really a more feminine – receptive – mindset, and I find it fits me well. Somehow, meaning and connection flourish more easily for me in this mode than in a task-oriented one. There are unexpected gifts and beauty, if I’ll have the eyes to see them.

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is a baseline need for all of us, and we must prioritize it even more on the hard weeks. Again, this may require canceling plans or letting the house devolve into messiness or even the dreaded “asking for help.” Trust me, sleep is worth it.

Remember the saying for new mommas: “Sleep when the baby sleeps”? The same goes for a week like this – take your opportunities for sleep and rest during hard days and weeks – you’ll have time for your to do list later.

Getting sleep means a greater capacity to be relational, it means increased immunity, and it means a better ability to handle stress. You need this right now (more than you need order and a clean house – and I know you need those, too!). At the very least, forego Netflix, turn off your phone, and get to bed at a decent hour.

Do your own Immune Support

Care for yourself by nourishing and supporting your body. When we’re caring for other people, taking care of our own health needs can feel like “one more thing.” We can easily crave sweets to satisfy our need for dopamine, which gives us that feeling of reward for our hard work.

I’m not telling you to give up eating (reasonably healthy) sweets every now and then. What I am saying is, don’t give in to the urge to “give up” and eat junk food and stop taking care of yourself on weeks like this. Instead, find ways throughout your day to nourish your body and support your immune system.

Teas are a great way to do this, because they support your immune system and they feel comforting. Take immune support supplements (read more here). Eat simple but nutrient dense foods like soups with bone broth or green smoothies.

Practice Letting Things Go (Stop Listening to the Ideal Woman)

I mention Alison Armstrong and her amazing team at Pax Programs fairly often, because they have given me so much transformational information about myself and my relationships. One thing Alison taught me was about how women usually compare themselves to an “ideal woman.”

When they feel like they come up short (with parenting, housecleaning, career, whatever…), women tend to think of how an “ideal” woman would have done it better. For instance, the ideal woman would have kept up with the dishes, gotten to bed on time, slept on the floor beside her sick child, been more patient with her other children, etc. Your expectations and standards will be different depending on your own values and perspective on life.

If you are like me and constantly compare yourself to your own internal standards of what an ideal woman would do, weeks like this are a great time to practice letting go of that stuff. Just think “Is that something I really need to do, or is that the ideal woman talking?” Allow yourself, to weed through and choose to do what is a priority or what is important for your own self care, and then take a deep breath and let the rest go.

A Good Week?

This is honestly how I got through the past week. There were rough, gross, and trying moments, but there were also some really sweet ones. And, I really did get back to my to do list and achieve a reasonably clean house when the kids went back to school (the ideal woman is always trying to convince me I should do it now or everything will spin out of control). And, I’m a little surprised at myself, but I might even say it was a pretty good week in the end.

I’d love to know: What works for you during days/weeks/months with sick children or unexpected setbacks? Comment below or send me an email at sweetwateroffering@gmail.com.

One Reason I Talk So Much About Self Care

I see self care as the beginning of becoming your own health advocate and of trusting your own body’s ability to heal. I am a believer in natural health approaches, in integrative treatment, and in the ability of the body to heal itself given holistic support. I have seen real change and healing in myself, in my clients, and in my family through these natural means.

 

But, there is a real shift that is necessary in order to walk that path. That shift has less to do with which practitioners you see and what information you read (though that is part of the picture), and more to do with how you see yourself in that process….

Read more

What Cooking With my Kids Has Meant To Me

 

As a child and a teenager, I wasn’t very keen on cooking. I thought of myself as “above” that in some way. I excelled at math and science and planned to have an important job and leave the cooking to other people. Truthfully, I never felt drawn to the homemaking arts at all, and I considered myself to be not very good at them. I lived in my head and had little time for wiping down counters, unloading dishwashers, or helping get dinner on the table. It all seemed unimportant and uninspiring.

 

It’s funny how much things have changed for me.

 

Though I did graduate with a biology degree, something inside me cried out against the math & science route I had been planning on. I ended up getting a Masters in counseling and then becoming a mom to three fascinating and fantastic children.

 

In fact, most of my adult life has been spent cooking and cleaning.

 

As a dreamy, oblivious child, I didn’t put it together that these are tasks few people are able to escape completely. They are the daily work of most lives. In a strange turn of events I have actually found the meat and meaning of life in the repetitive daily tasks…cooking in particular.

 

I have found hope for changing the world, an outlet for creativity, a place to teach and connect with my children, a way to bring production back into the home, answers to my family’s health concerns, a deeper connection with creation, and even a new understanding of God. I’m really not exaggerating here – cooking has been all this and more, a beautiful gift in my life.

 

Cooking in traditional ways, with raw ingredients while reaping health benefits and the simple joy of delicious foods has become part of every day of my life as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. My kids could not help but see me cook, see the delight I take in it, and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

 

I guess it was natural for them to want to join in the fun!

 

My oldest wanted to help before he was even a year old. I realized then that watching some one cook (especially for a young child, but even for us adults, I think!) is like watching magic happen before your eyes. Interesting ingredients from different containers get mixed together, eggs completely transform, new enticing smells fill the air, and then something totally new and delicious that you can eat is created. Sitting in front of the oven and watching the bread bake can be better than watching a video on Netflix! All of this is so much better than toys or movies, and so – of course! – my kids wanted to be a part of it.

 

Though all my children enjoy helping me cook, it is my daughter (my middle child) who has taken to it with the most passion and ease. She is eight years old and a better cook than many adults I know. She “gets it” at a level that I did not achieve for many years. In my childhood, I thought cooking was merely a matter of following directions – not worthy of my time or energy. As I have become a cook, I have learned that recipes are only a helpful starting place – adding in creativity, having an intuitive feel of ratios of different ingredients and what could substitute for ingredients you are low on or missing altogether – this begins the expertise and the fun of cooking. My daughter is getting that, and it makes my heart full and my eyes well up with tears.

 

Cooking is a gift that I am passing on to my children. In a world full of technology, standardized tests, prescription medications, and pre-made foods, it is an invaluable gift of vibrant, real life that will empower them and nourish them. It’s absolutely worth a few messes and wasted ingredients, because there is so much more here than just pulling something together for lunch. Teaching my kids to cook is equipping them to provide for themselves, to be healthy, to truly experience and enjoy life, and to cooperate in creation itself!


Want to experience the fun and meaning in cooking with your children?

Sign up for Let’s Cook Together: A Healthy Cooking Class for Kids and Their Parents. Classes begin May 8th!

Self Care for Menstrual Cramp Pain

Did you know that tight points in your muscles (trigger points) could be the cause of your menstrual cramp pain? Today, I’m giving you my best self care techniques to help you be free of pain during your periods!

These techniques give me relief almost immediately and a few times working on them can even last through several cycles!

I’d love to hear from you if you try it. Did you find it easy to find the points? Did you notice a difference?

Note: There’s one correction on the video. When I go to the floor, the first step is to warm up the whole abdominal area. Then, I work the abdominal obliques (I say rectus – but I do the obliques first).

Books that Have Been Good for My Mental Health Lately

autumn

I love to read. And – an odd little secret about me – I love to read out loud. I started reading my textbooks and literature out loud in middle and high school, when my baby sister (10 years younger) would happily sit and listen. I soon realized I remembered everything so much better when I read out loud and that it was way more fun than just zipping through it in my head.

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Foundations for Mental Health without Medication: What You Eat for Breakfast Matters

albert-einstein

Last week, we talked about how a healthy circadian rhythm is key to mental and emotional well-being. I gave you several strategies for how to create a morning ritual that will set your wake-up time and result in benefits like increased energy, better digestion, improved mental clarity, and reduced mood swings throughout the day.

There is one morning practice that I left off of the list on purpose.

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Finding Healing in My Own Backyard: Yarrow

by Candace McCallister

yarrow flower
yarrow flower

I first learned about yarrow in this beautiful piece by my friend Meredith Martin-Moats. As Meredith explains so well, yarrow is a hearty plant with lovely flowers and leaves, considered by many people to be a weed. Yet, it has hundreds of traditional medicinal uses, including bringing down fevers, treating colds, improving digestion, and reducing bleeding. It is also a pollinator plant, helping to nourish butterflies and bees that are so necessary to our ecosystem.

Meredith actually came to our house last summer and ceremoniously scattered yarrow seeds in our flower bed. As she shared her seeds, she also shared touching stories of how flower gardens help people deal with grief.

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