Thursday, August 27, 2015

President John F. Kennedy's American University Speech, June 10, 1963

At the time of John F. Kennedy's American University Speech the cold war was right on the brink of turning hot. Both the democratic United States and communist Soviet Union, two of the worlds leading powers, had nuclear weapons. Both Nikita Khrushchev (the Soviet Premier) and President Kennedy knew that the unleashing of nuclear war would mean certain death for all life on earth. While both men were surrounded by advisors pushing them to the brink, they had secretly been communicating through letters to bring an end to the Cold War. Not to win or lose, but put aside their need of victory to bring peace. These men, who began as adversaries, earned great respect for their counterpart throughout the course of their exchanges. While their ideals had changed to bring peace, they were both concerned the matter had gotten too far out of their hands to reel the issue back in. This speech that Kennedy made, strategically at the same time the Soviet council would be meeting, was a clear and international declaration of peace. In response Khrushchev had the speech printed out and dispersed throughout Russia, so all citizens could read the worlds of the American President. Khrushchev and Kennedy would then both go on to sign the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty on August 5, 1963 which "prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in outer space, underwater or in the atmosphere." This speech is a beautiful demonstration of diplomacy, and peaceful politics in action.

Five months later President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated. Though this huge step banning nuclear testing had been accomplished, the cold war would continue on for three more decades. Many historians have speculated that this would not have been the case, that the Cold War would not have continued on, if Kennedy had lived to serve his full term as President.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Healing Anxiety Naturally

Let me start this post by saying that I am not a doctor or a certified mental health specialist. I am writing this post from the perspective of someone who used to suffer from intense, chronic, anxiety and no longer does.

20 years old- anxiety consumed night
out dancing salsa
So why natural? I grew up in a holistic minded household. My mom fed us organics and we took homeopathic remedies when we got sick (and would recover from our colds more quickly than our friends).  My mother also healed from agoraphobia (even worse then anxiety; she suffered from a case so terrible she couldn't even leave her house) naturally in her mid twenties, a condition that the majority of those who suffer never come out of.  In addition to this I researched antidepressants and felt strongly that the negative effects greatly out weigh the possible beneficial effects. The thing about medication is there are not "side effects." There are only effects of taking the medicine. Only marketing puts forth their desired result, and state anything else is a "possible side effect." I did not want to be numbed out and I did not want to risk my symptoms getting worse. My wish for anyone on the path to healing mental health, or anything for that matter, is to research any medication a doctor is wanting to prescribe to them and make an independent, educated decision on whether or not this is a good fit for them.

My tango with anxiety started when I was 17 years old. I moved to a new high school for my senior year of high school, I thought it would be an adventure. Keep my old friends, and make new ones. Something about that time period, the huge change, my age, everything, knocked me into anxiety. It was so terrible. I woke up every single day feeling like I was under water. Being around people that I knew intellectually I loved, and loved me, but feeling miles and miles away from them. Being in the middle of a festive party and feeling emotionally dead. Feeling a continuos tightness in my chest, like a hand was gripping my heart. On top of these symptoms, and maybe even worse then them, is I felt so shameful. I felt like SUCH a freak for having anxiety. Everyone else was walking around living life, what was wrong with me??

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The road to healing was not a straight shot for me. There was a lot of two steps forward one step back. I held onto the advice my mom gave me like a life preserver. She had a psychiatrist teach her that it is impossible to be depressed when you do one hour of cardio every day. My mom also gave up white sugar and white flour during her healing time, which I just wasn't ready to implement yet. I did the cardio but was still very addicted to white sugar. I even read a great book "Sugar Blues" which opened my mind to the effect white sugar has on our mental health. White sugar was one of those things that I quit several times before I actually quit for good.

I also delved into mindfulness. Reading spiritual teachings, and working to apply them in my everyday life. Learning about the power of our minds and thinking to create our lives. In the depths of what felt like endless anxiety I just had this kernel of hope, one I borrowed from my mom. She had told me that in her twenties she knew that if just ONE person had healed from this, then she could too. I adopted that and took that stance myself.

Right after turning 22 (and living with anxiety for 5 solid years) I had had enough. Something had to give. I was in the depths of desperation. I had been living in an internal hell for years. Though, on the outside I had appeared to be a typical girl. I went to class, had had boyfriends, worked with other people, had people tell me what I lovely young woman I was- but I knew I had been hiding.  I finally gave up white sugar. I also gave up eating meat. I had already been gluten free for a few years. I started eating organic WHOLE FOODS. Real food. I would over time start to enjoy running. This dietary lifestyle change is when things started cooking with oil.

Shortly after changing my diet and lifestyle I discovered that my school's health insurance included mental health. I went right over and signed up for therapy. As a requirement I had to have one meeting with a psychiatrist (the one who doles out the meds). I told her about all the changes I have made, and all the research I had done. I will never forget what she said. She looked right at me and said, "you will not be able to heal from anxiety without medication. Especially eating a vegetarian diet. You need the omega-3's, which is impossible to get without eating meat and fish." At that moment I felt so validated by my hesitation to trust the medical society. This was a Harvard doctor, speaking with total authority, and completely wrong. I knew that there are an abundance of plant based omega-3 sources. I very graciously left her office, without saying anything, but also never returning to her.  Though I DID meet with the therapist once a month for a year, and it was one of the best experiences. Just being able to say all of my fears, terrors and anxieties to a neutral person was so freeing.

Which leads to another important part of healing from anxiety. Embracing and accepting it. In the depths of anxiety I felt like a total freak, once I started climbing out of it I could see that I was not so unique. Every single person walking this planet suffers from anxiety to varying degrees. Thats why we come home and drink a few glasses of wine, eat that bowl of ice cream, juggle a few lovers, smoke that joint, etc. Everyone is managing anxiety. When we stop fearing it, it loses its grip.

26 years old - happy day, spontaneously
getting matching tattoos with friends
These days, after walking down this winding road to wellness, I am a completely different person. I genuinely love life. I have a consistent feeling of well being. I thoroughly enjoy and am present spending time with friends and family. I get excited about the simple things in life. In place of a tightness in my chest and impending feeling of doom there is this sense of, "everything is always working out for me." Always evolving, changing and growing.

Occasionally I will wake up with anxiety, and luckily now it is such a foreign feeling for me. I even think, "wow, I can't believe I used to feel this every day!" What helps me the most now when those moments happen is to welcome it, remember "this too shall pass," and not let it effect how I live my life. I will even think, "okay, Im just gunna do what I need to do. Im gunna be kind to the people around me. And anxiety is just gunna have to come along for the ride I guess." Then, next thing I know, quickly the feeling has passed.

So, in summary, here are the things that helped me the most to heal from chronic anxiety:

-running (one hour each day of any cardio will do)
-practicing mindful meditations (Louis Hay has great meditations on YouTube)
-giving up eating white sugar
-giving up eating white flour (I went gluten free)
-giving up eating meat
-and when I am feeling off, taking it easy on myself
-positive self talk

We each have our own individual path. Not everyone's story of anxiety is the same as mine, so everyone's process will vary. I am not writing this post from a place of authority. I am writing as an imperfect, evolving, messy human being saying that I have been there. I have been in that place of tremendous, constant, mental suffering and I am not there anymore! Like my mom told herself in her mid twenties, and I told myself in the depths of mental hell,  "if one person has healed from this, I can too." So, I guess I am that person here to say that if I did it, you can do it too.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Shampoo Less for Beautiful Hair

The other morning I took pause on my "shampoo day" and thought, "I can't believe I used to do this every day." Yes, I used to absolutely have to shampoo my hair every single day. It looked extremely oily if I did not. Now I've come to a place where I can shampoo every three days, and get away with it! Though I envy those who can go five or more days no shampoo, I am proud of how far I have come in this no shampoo path, and my hair has really shown the benefits.

Over five years ago was the first time this shampoo less for beautiful hair concept was even introduced to me. A beautiful young woman from Tunisia, named Ines, came to live with my family while she went to school in Boston. Ines had the most beautiful hair I had ever seen. What I learned from living with her was that she only washed her hair every four days. I did not make the connection at the time that I too could benefit from shampooing less, I just figured it was genetic.

Then over the years I noticed a pattern. I started to notice that the women I met with the most beautiful hair had something in common: they did not wash their hair every day.  So I started researching and learning that this was a thing. That first of all standard shampoos are full of chemicals that damage our hair. Then second that shampooing our hair daily strips it of its natural oils and dries it out leaving it unable to thrive and be healthy. I also heard from friends, and read online, that there is a transition period when training our hair to be washed less, that it will be oily at first. When our hair is stripped of its natural oils, our body works over time to produce plenty of oil to replenish our hair. It takes a while for our bodies to chill and adjust to not having to over compensate.

I flirted with this shampoo less concept for years, and just couldn't do it. Was overwhelmed by these women who could go days without shampooing and still look great. Then, I had an epiphany. That if I just did every other day that would be 180 days in the year that I am not shampooing. When I thought of it like that I felt like it was a big difference. I took the leap January 2013 and never looked back. 

Today my hair routine is:

Day 1: Shampoo and Condition (with natural shampoo and conditioner)
comb hair with wide tooth comb
blow dry top section of hair with big round brush

Day 2: Brush hair with a paddle brush
either wear half up, in braid or some up-do

Day 3: Brush hair with paddle brush
Use dry shampoo on roots
wear in up-do
(here is a link to some dirty hair day style inspiration!)

Note: I do shower every day, I just don't wash my hair every day.  

I have noticed that my hair is healthier and shinier then it has ever been. When my  hair was long before it was ALWAYS in a tangle, and it looked pretty dull. Now it is shiny, smooth and healthy. It is a completely different head of hair. Though part of this is adopting a wholesome, organic diet, I have seen an even greater improvement since stepping away from over washing. 

<3 Kelly

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tips for an Effortlessly Healthy Vacation

It can be very easy to let our diet go to hell when traveling. Let me clarify, by diet I dont mean some meal constricting "plan," I'm talking about the original meaning "a days journey." Our general lifestyle. Personally, I am gluten free, meat free and white sugar free, and consume a mostly whole foods diet.

On vacation I have done it all. I have used vacation time to punish myself with food, and I have also used vacation time to stress out, over analyze and anal retentive plan out food. Which is just the flip side of the same punishment. Then usually Ive ended up WAY over indulging after being so constricted. Just a guilty undertone that cuts into vacation fun.
I dont know exactly when it happened but I have completely changed about it. I dont think about food before going away hardly at all. I pack some granola bars, some powdered organic wheat grass and figure "hey, I can live off of this for a couple of weeks." Then let it go. Ironically I've started eating healthier then ever when adventuring. Fruits, veggies, plenty of water mixed with some cape cod potato chips, an occasional gluten free beer and some organically sweetened treats ("Grab 'n Go" in Provincetown, Ma makes the BEST non dairy organically sweetened soft serve ever- I enjoyed one every single day I was there).

"Grab 'n Go" chocolate peanut butter soft serve <3

Overall it's about finding that middle ground. Having some fun treats, while also taking care of ourselves enough that we still feel good to enjoy our vacation. Hold the guilt and serve up a whole lotta good times.

<3 Kelly