Free Virtual Event Roundup, January 23

1) Winter of Wellness

On now through February 11

winter of wellness

During Winter of Wellness, you’ll discover leading-edge solutions to your personal health objectives — with esteemed teachers, doctors and practitioners sharing their proven methods that address YOU as an integrative, interconnected WHOLE.

Attend

2)Vitamin Mastery

Ends Wednesday January 25

Vitamin Mastery

An extension of That Vitamin Movie, with more content. It's a 7-day free online event that brings together the unedited interviews that were used to make That Vitamin Movie AND the full interviews from That Vitamin Summit AND a brand new course from Andrew Saul, all being streamed free of charge for seven days.

Some of these experts had never agreed to be interviewed for anything like this before. They will  share their tips and strategies for using vitamins and supplements to put your health journey back on the right path.

Attend

3) Autoimmune Revolution Summit

January 30-February 6 (Monday to Monday)

The Autoimmune Revolution

The average lifespan of someone with an autoimmune disease is 10 years shorter than a healthy person. It’s time to achieve greater health and improved happiness so you can break the cycle of pain and start living again! Join  The Autoimmune Revolution, online and free from January 30 – February 6, 2017!

Attend

If you want to buy the series to add to your resource library, it's the least expensive before the summit starts. Here's the price schedule.

The Autoimmune Revolution Price

I almost always recommend buying summits  – at the lowest price if you get there in time – because many of the lifetime access packages such as this one include transcripts (for those who learn best through reading, and perhaps want to highlight and annotate), along with bonuses that are sometimes worth in the $100's of dollars. The bonuses in the Autoimmune Revolution bundle are worth over $600!

Choose Your Package

Hot Chocolate Smoothie Bowl Pudding Bites

Hot Chocolate Smoothie Bowl Pudding Bites

When I posted this a little over a week ago, I didn't know that my second version of smoothie bowl would provide me with two types of treats in one bowl.

I'll keep this introduction brief, because when I find a recipe on someone's blog via Google I don't want to read through their entire narrative, I just want the recipe.

As I said in that Instagram post on Tuesday of last week, I craved a warm smoothie after a snowy dog walk. I usually cringe at the idea of a “smoothie bowl”. It's a trend that I don't understand. Why put a smoothie in a bowl when you can drink it from a nice glass and a glass straw, like the ones from Strawesome? (I own around 4.) I prefer my smoothies more liquid than thick. I don't want to eat smoothies with a spoon. That's like soup.

And yet, rather than a regular hot chocolate smoothie, I wanted to try something new and be adventurous. I also wanted to use “superfood powders” that I've had in my cupboard for years, because I don't use them anymore and don't want to throw them out. For many years I was a hoarder of superfood powders. Now I'm over it.
(If you subscribe to my newsletter you might get a free ebook called, “5 Superfoods That You Might Already Have in Your Kitchen” and if you don't, email me. I'm working on updating the book with updated links and don't know if it's automatically sending with newsletter subscription confirmations anymore. Updates to the book and such are on my to do list.)

Brief explanations about the superfoods used follows the recipe.

Two days after making the first hot chocolate smoothie bowl I made another one that was even better because I included the ingredients that I'd forgotten in the first round.

Using my favourite Genuine Health products

This smoothie bowl also uses two of my favourite products from Genuine Health: Greens + Extra Energy (cappuccino flavour) and fermented Greek yogurt proteins+.

No one from Genuine Health knows I'm posting this. They haven't sponsored it. I'm not being obsequious. I haven't been to a GH promotional event in a long time. However, it was around this time last year that I was introduced to Greens + Extra Energy (as I posted one year ago yesterday- with my introduction to fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ being five months later). This recipe finally killed my big container of greens.

Something cool about this recipe which I discovered after (as you'll read below): It contains many mood-boosting ingredients! I could call it “The Anti-Anxiety Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie” or “The Mood-Boosting Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie” or, if you consume it in its “after” stage, “Mood-Boosting Chocolate Almond Smoothie Bites”.

As a smoothie, it will be thin liquid at first but with the gelatin, it will thicken as it cools and no longer be “hot chocolate”. (More on that below the recipe.)  If you want it thicker, add the suggested oats.


Yield: 1 serving

It's gluten-free, sugar free and can be made with or without dairy.

Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie

(A prettier, printable version with less detail follows.)

Ingredients

1 C milk of your choice (dairy, almond, rice, etc.)
2 Tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder (I like the Organic Traditions brand)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp grass fed gelatin powder (I use the one by Great Lakes)
1/2 Tsp vanilla powder (also Organic Traditions) or a drop of vanilla extract.
Optional: 1/4 C rolled oats

2 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp Genuine Health Fermented Greek Yogurt Proteins+ (or other vanilla protein powder of your choice).
1 Tsp chaga mushroom powder
1/2 Tsp gelatinized maca
1/4 Tsp slippery elm powder
1 scoop of Greens + Extra Energy, cappuccino flavour
1/2 banana
3 pitted dates (for sweetness)

Toppings:
Banana (definitely), cocoa nibs, hemp seeds – if you want/have.

Directions

Option 1

  1. Add the gelatin powder to your measuring cup where you pour the milk. Stir and let sit for one minute. It will be smooth.
  2. In a small pot, combine milk-gelatin powder mixture with chocolate powder, coconut oil,   vanilla, and oats (if using). Whisk as you bring it to a boil.
  3. Transfer to a blender (I use a Vitamix) and add the almond butter, protein powder, chaga mushroom, maca and slippery elm. Put the lid on tight. Blend until creamy and smooth.
  4. Pour into a bowl and top with banana, hemp seeds and cocoa nibs, or pour it in a nice glass and drink it.
    (Brands of hemp seeds I prefer are Manitoba Harvest and Ruth's Hemp. I'm not too brand loyal with cocoa nibs but am currently enjoying a big bag of Giddy YoYo.)

Option 2

Instead of heating the milk/gelatin in a pot you could heat it in the microwave alone and then transfer it to a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend. I suspect that using a stick blender in the pot would work too instead of a whisk + blender.

Notes

  • Instead of gelatin powder you could use Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate, which is cold water soluble.
  • Please don't go out and buy all of those powders, unless you want to, and unless you're going to use them again. Use what you've got. You can omit them all if you'd like. I recommend always having vanilla powder, cacao (obviously), coconut oil (my favourite head-to-toe oil) and almond butter around, but save your money and don't buy the rest just for this. I do always like to have the Collagen Hydrolysate on hand, but that's because I use it to make my own Bulletproof-inspired coffee.
  • Don't worry if you get globs of gelatin in the pot. The blender will break it up.
  • A brief description of the superfood powders used is located at the bottom of this post.
hot chocolate smoothie bowl ingredients-labeled
After initially posting this I made it again & took this photo. A few pinches of ginger made it in this time. Click to see it bigger.

IMPORTANT: IF YOU HAVE LEFTOVERS…

Put the bowl in the fridge (or transfer to a container). When you remove it, the gelatin will have transformed the smoothie from liquid to solid snack that's between a pudding and a Jello – a creamy Jello.

If you've ever made Jello or cooked with gelatin you know that  it dissolves in hot water and sets to a gel when it cools. I wasn't thinking about that when I put my smoothie in the fridge. I knew it would thicken, and it certainly thickened as I ate (I eat slowly), but I didn't anticipate how thick it would be after refrigeration. How thick? It went from this:

Hot Chocolate Smoothie cooking

To this…

 

Hot Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

To this… Ta da! I present to you Chocolate Almond Energy Pudding Bites:

Chocolate Smoothie Bites
I like how the banana looks. Imagine if I'd transferred the smoothie to a container, and then either sliced into squares or used a cookie cutter.

Yes, I should choose a name and stick with it.

If you want a chocolate-almond butter pudding-like snack…

…make the recipe above, immediately put it into a container and chill.

I will use a 1/2 Tbsp of gelatin next time and report back.

Disclaimer:

If you use Greens+ Extra Energy, and you're affected by caffeine, don't consume later in the day. You could use another greens powder but I think that here, cappuccino flavour was key. I've had to remind myself not to sneak bites later in the day. It looks like dessert. The next time I make this I probably will omit the Extra Energy for this reason.

A cool observation:

On Monday morning my mental state was in rough shape. I was having an existential meltdown after finding an old journal/workbook that, upon reading some of it, upset me and made me question my life. After eating a few squares of this I felt so much better. It was like I'd taken an anti-depressant. It could be coincidence, but here's my theory:

  • Chocolate is mood-boosting. Cocoa boosts the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which affects mood, anxiety and happiness. Further research lead me to a CNN article with this information: “According to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in May 2013, those who drank a chocolate drink once daily (the equivalent of 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate) reported feeling calmer and more content than those who didn't.” Here's the study.
  • Some of the ingredients in the Greens+ Extra Energy are mood boosting/balancing. I went to have a look at the ingredients to check that theory and found a lot of mood-boosting ingredients in there, including:
    • Ginseng, a powerful adaptogen that helps your body cope with stress. A study published in Human psychopharmacology in August 2010 found that 200 milligrams of ginseng for eight days slowed the fall in mood. The 400 milligram dose improved calmness. This wouldn't have affected me after a few bites, but it's worth noting.
    • Rhodiola, another adaptogen, which I sometimes take as a supplement to help with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies have shown Rhodiola to significantly reduce symptoms in patients with mild to moderate depression
    • L-Tyrosine, an amino acid used to produce dopamine. Tyrosine improves mood and stress response and supports energy and motivation. According to WebMD, People take tyrosine for depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other issues.
  • A little bit of research told me that one banana contains up to 10 milligrams of neurotransmitter dopamine.

…Now, I'm not sure that small amount I ate would affect my mood, but there is an indication that it could have.

A brief explanation of the superfoods used

Chaga mushroom powder
Among chaga's potential heath benefits: Supports the immune system and balances it, has high antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, could help protect your cells

Maca
Maca is rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. According to various studies, maca helps balance hormones in both women and men, is beneficial for libido (female and male) and fertility. Black maca has positive effects on sperm production. In addition to that, and related to it, maca has a positive affect on mood (as does increased libido), energy and stamina. Yes, sexual stamina too. People call it the “sexy root”.

Slippery elm
Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes mucous membranes  in the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines while also absorbing toxins that can cause intestinal imbalances. It soothes inflammation in the stomach and small intestine.

So, go on and make this mood boosting drink/pudding-like snack.

Tell me: What would YOU call the smoothie and the chilled version?

Click here for a prettier & printer-friendly version of the recipe

Spirit Tuesday: My New Favorite Online Yoga Instructor

First off, I've gone and done something out of character for me:

I've created… wait for it… a blog content calendar. It's true. After blogging for about 20 years, since before blogging was called that, I've finally done it.  I'd been hearing about content calendars for years and even had a related WordPress plugin for awhile that I didn't use. After reading a couple of articles on Problogger, I decided to give it a try. It's a work in progress spreadsheet. Every day has a theme and I might or might not blog daily Monday to Friday.

Yesterday I gave you Promotion Monday, what's coming up in summits, webinars and other events. Today I give you Spirit Tuesday  – posts related to yoga and meditation.

On to today's share….

My yoga journey

I'm no beginner to yoga.

I've been practicing yoga on and off for a long time. On and off.

In 2010 on my old blog I had a blog series about the 40 day yoga challenge I was doing at a local hot yoga studio (and other studios). The way I remember it,  I'd get up before dawn, wait for a streetcar and go to a 6:30 a.m. class before work. Coincidentally, 6 years ago today I was on day 3, as I discovered when I jumped over to my old blog while writing this post. Before that I regularly attended classes at another hot yoga studio near where  lived.

I attend The Toronto Yoga Conference & Show almost every year. I own multiple yoga mats (one specifically for hot yoga), a yoga block, a yoga towel for my hot yoga mat, and a yoga bag.

I haven't had a consistent yoga practice in a few years, though.

Recently, with my commitment to meditate every day for a year, I decided to throw yoga into it. Classes at a local studio (and there are many local studios) aren't in my budget right now so I turned to home practice. Home practice also has the benefit of being time efficient. I do yoga right before or right after I meditate, or I meditate, walk dog, yoga, and I meditate twice a day. In the last 10 days I've only missed one day of yoga.

At first I was doing my own routine, going with the flow, so to speak. Doing what moved me (pun unintended there, too), letting memory and intuition guide me. Then I got curious and went down the rabbit hole of Google, which took me to the website Greatist, where I found Brett Larkin and then went down the rabbit hole of her YouTube channel. I've watched a fraction of her videos. There are so many. (More on that below.)

I was familiar with other prolific yoga teachers – the yoga celebrities – and had some of their DVDs back when I used to use DVD, but Brett is new to me and I think I get what she's doing overall as a yoga business, because I've been watching the online business world for years. I've been on the periphery of it with blogging, content marketing, social media, working with startups and staying connected to the tech world.

Into yoga? Want to start a home practice?…

Why you should check out Brett

There's a lot I like about her. For example:

Yoga in bed.

Yes, she has videos in which she does yoga in bed. Morning yoga, bedtime yoga. In bed.

Yoga for everyone, all levels

I appreciate that a lot of her videos are suited to all levels because I might be a “level 1” in some poses but more advanced in others. I'm familiar with the poses, but my body is pretty tight and inflexible so I need modifications. Some days I feel like the tin man. I've almost been tight and inflexible so I can't blame age, but generally after doing yoga for awhile I see improvement.

She has videos specifically for beginners, that are accessible and welcoming.

The variety

Over 30 playlists on YouTube. 22 videos under the “Morning Yoga Classes ” alone. 50 videos under the playlist “15 Minutes or Less (Yoga for Busy People)”. 9 videos under the playlist “Free 20 Minute Yoga Classes”, including a video called, “Yoga for Constipation Relief, Cramps and Fatigue”. Playlist “Yoga for Beginners” includes a video “How to Modify Common Yoga Poses (Yoga Modifications)”There's a video called How to Do Yoga in the Car, which is great for road trips. In other words, it appears that she has a yoga routine for every conceivable situation.

Brett Larkin Yoga – YouTube.

Ones I've done include yoga/meditation combinations that last under 20 minutes. That's efficient.

Brett Larkin YouTube playlists
18 of 32 playlists

Facebook group

Brett Larkin's Facebook group seems fairly engaged. I've posted/commented a few times already today and the community was helpful.

Group challenges.

In September and October she had the Chakra Challenge. Currently she's doing Yoga Sculpt. Her challenges include emails with yoga classes, meditations and podcasts.

The Instruction

I've done about 5 of Brett's videos and enjoy her instruction a lot. I feel challenged when I want to be and I feel safe because the instruction is thorough. She takes time without feeling slow. Her cues make a lot of sense. Her metaphors have metaphors and alternative metaphors. Sometimes instructor metaphors can be a turn off, like the instructor who once told the class, in a breathy voice, to make the pose feel “delicious”, causing me to consider my exit strategy from the small room.

Knowledge

She's got the knowledge, like and trust value. She creates high quality, valuable content. Her knowledge seems to extend beyond yoga into the areas related to yoga.

It's not just yoga instruction either. She answers fundamental questions such as, what to wear under your yoga pants.

Monthly membership

A true online entrepreneur, she also has a monthly membership, which is really smart, and the price is low, which is also smart.

At $12.95 paid monthly, or $129 for the year (save 15% and get 2 months free), It's WAY cheaper than visiting a yoga studio and more convenient. You can't even attend a single class at a studio for $13. At least, not in my city.
I'm considering joining despite my moratorium on spending money on American products because of the exchange rate. (Sorry, Americans, but this Canadian is on a budget.)

Monthly membership includes

  • Unlimited Downloads
  • Member-Only Training Guides & Challenges
  • Personalized Feedback
  • Early Access to Content
  • VIP Discounts on her specialty courses and more.

I've learned a lot about online marketing in the last few years and I can imagine what technology she uses for each part of her business. Her landing pages (Lead Pages), her sales funnels (ConvertKit?) her shopping cart (WooCommerce), etc. She's an amazing content marketer – or has an amazing team that does it.

Another reason she's a great content marketer:  I feel that she gives so much away for free that you have to give her money for stuff out of the goodness of your heart. The exchange and knowing how much goes into each video. That's an excellent example of content marketing.

There's a distinct evolution of quality in her videos, from an empty studio with minimal equipment to professionally-looking shoots in her home. I like that. This is how it's done, people. And, being the content marketing nerd I am, I find myself wondering if she batched all her videos – recorded them in a short amount of time – or did it over a longer period.

Yay, technology

The other thing that makes it convenient isn't really related to Brett: It's our home theatre set up with the Roku. The living room is my yoga/meditation space in the mornings and his man cave/entertainment room in the evenings. In the recent old days, I'd put a YouTube video on my laptop. When I started this current yoga practice I was watching YouTube videos on my phone in the living room – until this morning when I remembered that Roku has YouTube and now I can watch the YouTube videos on our big-ass projection screen.

Brett Larkin Chakra series
My day-after-posting attempt to get a better photo than the one originally posted, possibly to be replaced tomorrow (again).

I'll report back when I've done more.

P.S. This was my breakfast after, because I was craving a green (pink) smoothie with frozen greens and frozen berries and Genuine Health Fermented Greek Yogurt Proteins+.

pink smoothie

*To be clear, I am not affiliated with Brett and I'm not being compensated in any way. I found her videos on my own and am telling you about them because one of my missions is to connect people with quality stuff.

Update: I create a YouTube video to go with this post:

Upcoming Events for January

Hi everyone,

I want to make sure that you don't miss out on these.

1) Winter of Wellness

On now through February 11

During Winter of Wellness, you’ll discover leading-edge solutions to your personal health objectives — with esteemed teachers, doctors and practitioners sharing their proven methods that address YOU as an integrative, interconnected WHOLE.

Attend for Free

2) The Vitamin Movie

On now through Wednesday

That Vitamin Movie

The free online screening of The Vitamin Movie has been extended until January 18! You have until this Wednesday to watch it if you haven't yet.

Attend for Free

3)Vitamin Mastery

Thursday January 19-Wednesday January 25

Vitamin Mastery

This is basically an extension of That Vitamin Movie, with more content. It's a 7-day free online event that brings together the unedited interviews that were used to make That Vitamin Movie AND the full interviews from That Vitamin Summit AND a brand new course from Andrew Saul, all being streamed free of charge for seven days.

Some of these experts had never agreed to be interviewed for anything like this before. They will  share their tips and strategies for using vitamins and supplements to put your health journey back on the right path.

Attend for Free

4.  Autoimmune Revolution Summit

January 30-February 6 (Monday to Monday)
The Autoimmune Revolution
The average lifespan of someone with an autoimmune disease is 10 years shorter than a healthy person! It’s time to achieve greater health and improved happiness so you can break the cycle of pain and start living again! Join me at The Autoimmune Revolution, online and free from January 30 – February 6, 2017!

Attend for Free

If you want to buy the series to add to your resource library, it's the least expensive before the summit starts. Here's the price schedule.

The Autoimmune Revolution Price

I almost always recommend buying summits  – at the lowest price if you get there in time – because many of the lifetime access packages such as this one include transcripts (for those who learn best through reading, and perhaps want to highlight and annotate), along with bonuses that are sometimes worth in the $100's of dollars. The bonuses in the Autoimmune Revolution bundle are worth over $600!

Choose Your Package

5. Create Your Shining Year

Create Your Shining Year by Leonie Dawson

And if you missed my post on Friday, there's a huge sale on Create Your Shining Year Biz & Life workbooks and other related products in that line.

Note that I get a commission if you choose to buy anything via this page. See my Affiliate code of Conduct (which I created on my own, at my own initiative in August 2015) for more information.

Create Your Shining Year by Leonie Dawson

Massive Discount on Your Shining Year Products

Create Your Shining Year

In a recent post, I mentioned that I tend to buy productivity planners and abandon them. It's just my way. I bought some recently, though, and I couldn't keep this to myself when my mission is to connect you with cool shit.

Leonie Dawson is having a HUGE clearance sale on her Create Your Shining Year Biz & Life workbooks. I've bought these ones numerous times and they're great.  Leonie has thousands of satisfied customers.

In Leonie's words:

So – I made a fairly large ordering mistake this year… and ordered WAY too much printed stock! We've still sold more than we did last year… we've continued growing which is SUCH a beautiful thing… but I have so much stock leftover… and I don't want it sitting around in warehouses when it could be out there helping people now!

So for the first time in history… I am having a HUGE STOCK CLEARANCE SALE!

You'll score a WHOPPING 50% off EVERYTHING – printed workbooks + planners, bundles and digital products.

The day she released the offer to her email list, it crashed her server for hours. (A good lesson for people having a big product launch.)

Here's why I think you should buy it:

  1. If you're like me and have a habit of buying planners and abandoning them, then it's less of a financial commitment.
  2. For my fellow Canadians, the 50% makes the U.S.-Canada exchange rate much more tolerable.
  3. If you buy the digital products, like I did, you don't have to pay for shipping. That's great for Americans, extra great for Canadians.
  4. Leonie's products really are awesome. Don't take my failure to use the tool as an indication that they're not. For one, they're GORGEOUS.  I'm in awe of her graphic design skills. Secondly, they're comprehensive. Third, they're inspiring.

Testimonials about the Shining Year products:

I love these workbooks and have used them for years for my life and business. Whatever I write in there ends up happening. I highly recommend them.

-Nathalie Lussier, founder of software startup AmbitionAlly.

I’ve been using the workbooks for a few years now. They’ve allowed me to achieve some really crazy goals I’ve set for myself. I’m a huge fan. They are a must-have if you want to create an amazing year. Make sure you grab them.

-Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Lucky Bitch.

I follow both of those women online. You'll find more testimonials here.

With this amazng sale, the highest price is $32.50, for the Your Shining Year Biz Bundle. This includes both print + digital versions of her Biz Goals Workbook, Life Goals Workbook & 2017 Weekly Diary/Planner + 2 print copies of the 2017 Wall Planner (one for your office + one for your home).

I bought the digital versions for the 2017 Shining Year Workbooks bundle with the 2017 Life Goals Workbook, the 2017 Biz Goals Workbook, and the 2017 Dairy/Planner. That bundle costs $10.95 in U.S. dollars, the default for most online purchases.
Together, it all cost me less than $15 Canadian. The exchange rate has been brutal for Canadians for a long time but sales like this make it palatable.

The three books contain nearly 600 pages combined.

Three potential ways I envision interacting with the digital versions:

  1. Visit a local printing store to have all three books printed and bound.
  2. Visit a local printing store to have all three books printed on 3-hole punched paper, and add them to a binder myself.
  3. Fill it all in online.

With options 1 & 2 if I mess up any pages when I'm filling them in, I can print them out myself. The paper quality might not be as good, but I'm okay with that.

With option #3 I could always print out pages as needed.

I do recommend buying the hard copies, though, on their original quality paper. You won't regret it.

I do want to remind you that as well reviewed as these books are, your mileage may vary. The best product for you is the one you'll use.

My New Favourite Part of the Day

I wrote this in my journal at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday night (Sunday morning) with the note, “Blog this”. What's here is a slightly edited version with a context note at the bottom:

I've discovered the joy and beauty of late night dog park visits.

Late at night it's dark. No one is there. It's silent.

Between throws of the ball (for a game of fetch) I stand and listen. I hear people walking past the park at the top of the hill, speaking on their cell phones or to their companions. I hear cars drive past and the occasional dog bark in the distance.*

For now when I look down I see a glossy sheet of ice. In a few days it will all melt. I look up at the sky and see moon and stars.

I stay present in the moment.

This is mindfulness. 

During the day I prefer to find people there so that both my dog and I can be social. Late at night I like the solitude. Two of my four Core Desired Feelings for 2017 are joy(ful) and peace(ful). This embodies both. It's calming and energizing. It's reaffirming. It's reassuring.  It's so freakin' beautiful that I stand motionless even when I'm freezing in the sub-zero (celcius) temperatures with the windchill of -20°C/-4°F. I don't leave until my body insists that it's time. My mind protests as long as it can. I want to stay in the moment. My dog is happy staying or going. She likes the cold much more than I do and can go for hours.

Night Sky, Toronto park
Taken at my park at 5:30 p.m today, not late night, but it's similar – slightly brighter, on a cloudy evening.

*The park is essentially a bowl or a pit, downhill, with an alley on one side and a school between the park and a major street to the north. My “night time” visits have been between 11 p.m. and midnight. I did it Friday and Saturday and it will become routine as long as I can stay awake but I imagine that as early as 10 p.m. will suffice.

 

Vaccines Revealed: The docu-series

vaccines revealed
I've put this up in this website's event calendar but wanted to editorialize a little. I didn't change much of the copy that was provided to me. Both suggested promotional emails are alarmist and look like propaganda, and yet, I always feel like the truth is somewhere in the middle. You might agree or disagree. Either way is okay, as long as it's respectful.

Enough with the labels, already

I am NOT an anti-vaxxer. The term makes me cringe. The term “pro-vaxxer” also makes me cringe. They're awful labels, thrown around like knives to hurt, discredit and condescend. I hate that the world is divided into “pro-vaxx”and “anti-vaxx”. When you divide like that, you create disharmony and it's harder for people to open their minds in either direction. If anything, I consider myself a “conscious vaxxer”, which does put me at odds with some people close to me who are on one side or the other. I don't believe that all vaccinations are necessary as directed by medical experts. Take the flu shot, for example,

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season. The vaccine’s effectiveness also can vary depending on who is being vaccinated. At least two factors play an important role in determining the likelihood that flu vaccine will protect a person from flu illness: 1) characteristics of the person being vaccinated (such as their age and health), and 2) the similarity or “match” between the flu viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against and the flu viruses spreading in the community. During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed.

I know someone who claimed to have gotten sick from the flu shot and years later strongly denied it, because he tricked himself into thinking that it couldn't be true.

Furthermore, a study done three years ago reported that the flu vaccine had no impact on healthcare workers who care for people aged 60 or older living in long-term care institutions.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation,

A 1978 survey of 30 states showed that more than half of all children who contracted measles had been fully vaccinated. Sweden abandoned its whooping cough vaccine after it examined 5,140 cases of whooping cough in 1978 and found that 84 percent had been vaccinated three times. A 1990 Journal of American Medicine Association article stated that “Although more than 95 percent of school-aged children in the US are vaccinated against measles, large measles outbreaks continue to occur in schools and most cases. . . occur among previously vaccinated children.” The medical literature is filled with example after example of the failure of vaccination to furnish protection against common childhood diseases.

They also say,

…publications and statistics from the past two hundred years reveals that infectious diseases declined 90 percent before mass vaccination was ever introduced.

Experts attribute the cessation of epidemic diseases not to mass vaccination, but to a major sanitation reform movement that swept Europe during the 1800s. These reforms included moving human waste out of streets via plumbing systems; regularly cleaning streets and stables of horse manure and human waste; improving roads so that meats, vegetables and raw milk could be distributed in cities while still fresh; and upgrading water distribution systems to prevent bacterial contamination.

However, that was written over 11 years ago. There are certain correlations that I can't deny. The correlation between fewer parents vaccinating their children and increased outbreak of certain diseases is compelling, but it's not complete.  We're also living in a world that in many ways is more toxic & polluted than previous generations. The food we eat, the air we breathe, the way food is grown. Increased incidents of allergies, sensitivities, mental illness, physical illness. I've heard people claim that there's no such things as “toxins” or “detoxing”, but that's like Trump's statement that there's no such thing as global warming, and that it's a conspiracy theory.

We're living longer than before, but at what cost? Are we playing god? These are things that I don't think about often because doing so is a burden. I hope you know what I mean by that. It's not quite “blissful ignorance” but it's choosing to see the light instead of what could go wrong.

There are so many factors involved in wellness approaches and it's not up to me to say what's right and what's wrong. In the end, I hope, we do the research, taking account conflicting information rather than only seeking confirmation of what we think we know, and make what we feel are informed decisions for the best of us and our children.

I believe that the area of vaccination is a complicated issue that the public ISN'T hearing all of it.

Vaccines Revealed

That's why I think that films such as Vaccines Revealed  are important and why I'm promoting it.

There is so much information online. So quality, some less so. Some researchers event compared the quality of pro- and anti-vaccination online information. They sampled 514 webpages in favor of vaccination, 471 against, and 108 neutral.

“Vaccines Revealed” is broadcasting their exclusive docu-series event for 9 days only. From Tuesday, January 10th through the 18th. And you can watch the whole thing for free.

Here's some other promotional copy I received:

This is powerful – – If you want the latest, real information you will not want to miss this.

It's time to expose the truth and take back our health care system.

With an award-winning film crew, we flew all over the world and got exclusive access to whistleblowers, former drug reps and university scientists.

As you probably know already…

The drug and vaccine industry is a multi-BILLION dollar enterprise… focused more on profits than human lives.

I was not ready to see things like…

Drug and vaccine companies blatantly falsifying documents…

Whistleblowers getting completely BURIED…

Our Government looking the other way…

Bribery…

And that's not even to mention the tragic human cost of families ruined by vaccine injuries, endless medical bills… ruined marriages… and a rapid rise in chronic disease (especially in children).

It took months and months of care, attention and energy to edit each part of this stunning series. And now it's finally ready for the world to see.

Featuring exclusive interviews with the world's most acclaimed experts in research, medicine, holistic care and natural health.

“Vaccines Revealed” tells the hidden story behind the vaccine industry.

It starts out alarmist to get your attention. “real information”. “expose the truth”. I have no doubt that some truths will be exposed and that some people – whether they watch or choose to judge without watching – will claim that it's all bullshit. I might or might not believe everything I hear, but look forward to seeing the evidence. I also have no doubt that the drug and vaccine industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise and that there's more money in treating sick people than in keeping people healthy. Falsifying documents? I believe that, only because it's been proven in other cases.

Research suggests that most anti-vaccine sites use emotion-based persuasion, such as pictures and stories (source), but so much of science starts with a hypothesis based on anecdotal evidence, and I always say that I believe anecdotal evidence because people don’t exist in labs. I say that people should read all they can about controversial topics and analysis it critically.

I read and watch with interest, an open mind and a dose of skepticism. Whichever side you're on, or whether you fall in the middle, check it out.

When you register, you'll receive a 5 minute trailer. It might be all you want to watch, or you might want to watch further. Up to you.

manipulating the immune system

Rant: New Year, New You?

My New Year’s 2017 Post

The purpose of this post to keep with my tradition of sharing my goals, theme word of the year and Core Desired Feelings for the year.

Last year's links to previous years'.

Goals

My 2016 goals:

  1. Learning through training (also from 2015)
  2. New experiences (also from 2015)
  3. Be healthy
  4. Be a better partner

Did I reach them?

1.  Training: I finished up my training in transformational nutrition.

2. New experiences: Yes! I became a trailer park person for the summer. I hiked in new locations. I traveled to new places. I read new books. “New experiences” seems like a throwaway goal in a way because there's always new experiences to be had, but at the same time it's an important one to keep from getting stuck in a rut.

3. Be healthy: 2016 was the year I took care of my mental health, so that's a win. When answering the question “Looking back on 2016, what are you most proud of?” in a Facebook post a couple of days ago, my answer was this:

That I finally started going to therapy, figured out some of my issues and changed my attitude about certain things. I finally started to release what blocks me and to get out of my own way, which has been a goal for years. I got honest with myself in certain areas. For example, I realized that I WANT to be employed full time for the structure and regular income but I also want to work on my business(s) on the side. That's what “freedom” means to me, and all of that is okay! I don't need to subscribe to the idea that “freedom” means working on a beach. It would be lovely, but it's not me.
I want to do work that serves and helps others but I can only do that if I'm feeling healthy and balanced myself.

2017 is going to be so much easier.

#Win.

Core Desired Feelings 2016

Joy, accomplished, peace, lit up.

To be perfectly honest, I kind of shit the bed on these ones. It was a rough year. That said, there were things I accomplished. Things done and undone. I didn't write the great Canadian novel, but I took steps and 2017 is going to be better. I had joyful moments. Moments when I felt lit up. Moments of peace.

I haven't nailed down any for 2017 yet and I might not. Last year it was the CFDs that came to me intuitively. This year they'll either come to me or I'll go through the exercise.

[Update: My Core Desired Feelings later came to me after doing a couple of exercises in meditation, but I've decided to keep them private.]

Theme word

This year's theme word came to me out of nowhere. Last year it was ACHIEVEMENT, another one I kind of shit the bed on. (2016 was full of good moments, some minor achievements and a lot of shitting the bed.)

For 2017:

Perseverance

That means forgiving myself for what I felt I did wrong or didn't achieve in 2016. Leave it behind and go forward. Push through (welcome in) the hard stuff, because the fear of it is worse than the action itself.

It means being okay with the fact that I start journals and planners in January and abandon them by March. I buy excellent products such as The Desire Map and Leonie Dawson's Shining Year workbooks, and then abandon them, through no fault of their creators. Amazing products, but I can't get the habit to stick! My wishlist is full of planners that I'm afraid to invest in because I might not use them, planners such as the Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change, The Five Minute Journal, also by Intelligent Change, and Passion Planner. I've had the evergreen (dateless) version of The Desire Map planner in an online shopping carts for months. Of course the best planner (the best anything, really) is the one you'll use. It's not right for you if you're not using it. I tried to mitigate the financial risk of journals and planners by creating my own version in Evernote.  I didn't make it through January. So, maybe journals in that format aren't for me and I need to accept it as an imperfection, or maybe I need to delve into why the habit doesn't stick.

Going forward

I will share some of the results of a mediation that I did on December 29, looking forward to the new year.

  • My intuition told me to focus on the qualities of patience, consistency and listening to my intuition, for my highest good.
  • When I asked myself what other areas I should focus on, I got “health” and “friendships”. The latter surprised me, but not entirely.

When I subsequently did some free writing (writing without thinking much about it), I wrote “Write a little. Read a little.” [meaning every day.] and then I wrote the following in my paper journal, in light blue ink with handwriting that is barely legible:

 

Two days later I noted that 2017 is about renewal. I jotted down some stuff I want to achieve and reiterated “Write a little. Read a little. Every day.” as well as some of what's in the above image in the same words and others. I urged myself to spend less time online and advised that if I'm online I should be productive. “If I'm online and not DOING anything, get offline and read.”*

I finished it off with the following:

So that's 2017 laid out.

*Clearly, the “Read A Book Instead” wallpaper on my phone's lock screen hasn't worked. However, I'm pleased to say that a couple nights this week, instead of watching TV in bed before going to sleep, I finished a book – and fell asleep to a guided meditation, as has become routine.

 

 

meditation silhouette

365 Days of Meditation

I've been meditating for many years. As I noted in this blog post, I've always been a dabbler in meditation and spirituality. I meditate. I occasionally pray. I believe in a lot of spiritual stuff based on my own and other people's experiences. I believe that meditation is part of a complete breakfast, so to speak.

You don't need to be “spiritual” to meditate. You don't need to believe in any “higher power” at all. You can choose to do the sorts of meditations that connect you with angels, if you believe in that, or you can sit in silence. It doesn't have to be a new-agey thing.

Benefits of Meditation

There are many including better focus, better mood, less stress, improved ability to regulate your emotions (see this report from Stanford University's med school), improved immune system, decreased pain (see study here), relief from fibromyalgia (see reports here and here),  and more. It can improve your work life, your relationships, your sex life and more.

You might see benefits immediately. Research shows that  significant improvement in health happens within 8 weeks of daily practice.

Benefits of Meditation

How to Meditate & Where to Meditate

You don't need to follow any rituals, listen to any particular style of music or wear certain clothes. Be you. Do you.

You can meditate it anywhere, although I prefer to do it with privacy with few distractions. I used to meditate in my cubicle as soon as I arrived at work, but I was one of the first in and had a corner desk, so it was relatively private. You could meditate on public transit, while waiting for a bus or while stuck on the freeway during rush hour. You can sit cross-legged on the floor, on a cushion or not, or cross-legged or seated on the couch. You can sit upright in a chair. You can lie down. Because I can't resist, here's the Green Eggs & Ham version:

You CAN meditate on a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train, in a car, in a train, in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse, here and there and anywhere.

I enjoy meditating while camping, out in nature. A few years ago on my last day of a wellness retreat in St. Lucia I chose to do my own yoga and meditation outside on a deck under palm trees rather than join the group.

I have a favourite place at home (the living room doubles as “man cave” and my meditation room), with a favourite blanket that I sometimes cover myself with. It's red and fleecy. Red is my spirit colour. I don't know why, but I connect to it. Most often, I'm sitting on my couch sessions wearing my PJs. Other times I'm in bed. A couple of times I sat on the kitchen floor on the dog's bed because I was cooking breakfast at the same time and wanted to stay close to the stove. My dog often joins me on the couch, sometimes with her head in my lap.  I posted this about a year ago, which shows just one of the ways I meditate:

Then there's this:

Famous & successful people who meditate

This club includes Madonna, Katy Perry, Kristen Bell and Jerry Seinfeld (among other celebrities), along with famous business people such as Rupert Murdoch, Padmasree Warrior ( CTO, Cisco Systems), Bill Ford (Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company), Arianna Huffington and many others. Steve Jobs meditated. People say that meditation helps them be better business people and better at life.

Insight Timer

One of my favourite meditation tools, of which I've been a user since 2015, has been Insight Timer, an app for iPhone and Android. It started as a timer but is now so much more. When I started with the app, there was a free version and a paid version and after maybe a month, I upgraded. Even though I could have used the timer on my phone, I preferred an app. Then they made it 100% free – the result of new company owners, I recently learned. Among the app's features that I like:

  • Stats – summaries, detailed charts, milestones. It sort of “gamifies” it, in that if you're competitive with yourself you can track your streaks and use that to motivate you.
  • The timer counts down by default, but you can make it count up. So, either do timed sessions (e.g. 20 minutes) or start the timer before you know how long you intend to meditate for. A newer feature is that when the timer goes off at the end of a session you can keep going and it will keep counting the “extra time”, which you can choose to log or not.
  • Guided meditations, which are relatively new. There are now over 3000 free guided meditations, music tracks, talks and courses in the app, lead by over 900 meditation teachers, in various styles and multiple languages. I used to have go-to meditations on YouTube, but didn't like that YouTube only works with the phone is on. I have a few go-to meditations stored in Dropbox, which I use. I like that I have the option to meditate to a guided meditation in the app or not. There's a bookmarking feature that they're working on improving. The newest feature for guided meditation is playlists, which are meditations in categories generated by the app team. (No ability for users to create their own, yet.)

Other features include nearly 4000 groups, the ability see who's currently meditating worldwide and near you, and the ability to “friend” people. I have yet to find the “Find friends/”Invite friends” feature useful because the search function is limited. With “find” you can search by First name, name and location or email address to find existing users. For “Invite” it's email only. I'd like social media integration.

I've used other apps such as Calm, Headspace, Omvana and Mindroid and while they remain on my phone, I always go back to Insight Timer.

insight timer

365 Days of Meditation

The CEO – or he refers to himself, “custodian” – of the app recently committed to 365 days of meditation in 2017 and invited users to join him. There are currently 38.5K people registered. Almost 40,000! I've never done 365 days of anything, except sleep and brush my teeth. I've come close with one game on my phone that I've been playing almost daily since February. According to the app, my longest meditation streak since May 2015 is 33 days. My current is 13 days, though I feel like it's cheated a bit because there was one day I didn't meditate, but falling asleep to a meditation after midnight counted for that day.

The playlist for the 365 days, which will have one new meditation added daily (Australia time, night before North America time) includes a 1-minute meditation that's part of a series. That particular series, for those who seek it out, is 20 days of meditation, starting with 1 minute and working up to 20. If you're a beginner, or are impatient, it's a good place to start. I generally meditate for anywhere 10-20 minutes, depending on what I feel I need. Some days 10 minutes feels too short, other days it feels like just enough. I don't judge myself if my mind wanders, I ask myself if my thoughts serve me and whether I need to follow their path. Sometimes I count breaths. One of the ways that guided meditation benefits me is that my mind is less likely to wander if I'm focusing on someone's guidance than it is if I'm sitting in complete silence.

If you have a half hour and want to hear more about Insight Timer and the 365 Days of Meditation, listen to this podcast in which Christopher Plowman, co-founder of the Insight Network and CEO of the Insight Timer phone app, share his vision for a kinder and calmer world where the whole world meditates every day. I heard it in the app itself (it's on the 365 Days Together playlist) and found it really interesting as a longtime user of the app.

Insight Timer 365 Days meditation
Current screen capture from my phone

Read my post “Meditation and the Monkey Mind” from May 2015

Some of my favourite meditation resources

Other meditations sources I like:

  • YouTube
  • Rebecca Campbell, author of Light is the New Black and Rise Sister Rise. Join her mailing list to get her Sourcing meditation for free. It's one of my go-tos.
  • Gabrielle Bernstein. Her website and her books. Her books often have supplemental information and meditations online. I recently finished her latest book, The Universe Has Your Back. I adore her because she defies the stereotypes of spirituality. She swears, wears makeup and heels. She talks about “losing her shit” and not always practicing what she preaches. That's my kind of girl. Human, vulnerable, accessible. It's easy to adopt someone's practices and listen to their guidance when you can related to them. So what if I don't like wearing heels? I appreciate authentic, no-bullshit people who do.
  • Spirit Voyage. They have a lot of 40 day Global Sadhanas, during which the same meditation is done daily for 40 days, on your own time. When you sign up you get daily emails. Read more about them here. I've done a few but haven't reached 40 days.

I like the Kundalini yoga style, which is essentially chanting with breathing. Kundalini Yoga breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, and sometimes movement. The associated “songs”, the tunes with the chants, often pop into my head and become ear worms. Sometimes they pop into my head and calm me down. I enjoy the music, 'cause I like music, and like guided meditations, the mantras give me something to focus on even if I'm listening rather than saying them and even if I don't understand them.  Some of my favourites are on Spotify playlists that I've put together – I have one list exclusively for meditations, and another list of “pick me ups” which includes songs that uplift me with a few Kundalini mantras. Another good resources to learn more is 3HO. I only recently found that site, and it's become one of my 2 main resources (along with Spirit Voyage).

So, I encourage you to start meditating, or keep meditating. Daily for a year, or a few times a week. Get the app and sign up for the 365 days, or get the app and don't. (It's a good app.)

Additional resource:

Check out the 5-week Master Your Mind meditation course. I'm going to work through it.

I'll try to remember to check in on my progress from time-to-time.

If you currently meditate, tell me about it.

More new year's posts to follow.

 

Medicinal Supplements Summit Day 5

The Top Medicinal Supplements for Common Health Conditions

Here's the short version today:

Medicinal Supplements Summit Day 5

Today's speakers review the top medicinal supplements for common health conditions: heart disease, pain, adrenal fatigue, thyroid dysfunction, gut health and autoimmunity.

ACCESS IT HERE

Today's Medicinal Supplements Summit experts:

Sayer Ji
Best Supplements for Heart Health and High Cholesterol

  • Myth of “high cholesterol” as a causative factor in heart disease
  • he dangers of statins and natural alternatives
  • Supplements to improve contributors to heart disease

Website: GreenMedInfo

Amy Myers, MD
Supplements for Optimal Thyroid Function

  • Supplements to improve thyroid function
  • Best supplements for autoimmune disease
  • Iodine for Hashimoto’s Disease, yes or no?

Website: Amy Myers MD.

Tom O'Bryan, DC
Best Supplements for Gut Health and Autoimmunity

  • Hidden gluten in supplements
  • Best supplements for digestive issues
  • How gluten and leaky gut foster autoimmunity

Website: theDr.com

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS
A Killer Key to Detox You Haven’t Heard of…Yet!

  • How sluggish bile causes health issues!
  • Why bile is needed to detox heavy metals
  • Supplements/foods to improve bile flow and production

Website: annlouise.com

Noah De Koyer, DC
Best Supplements for Pain

  • Addressing inflammation is the key to reducing pain
  • Supplements to reduce acute pain and inflammation
  • Best supplements for chronic pain

Website: Centre for Epigenetic Expression

Evan Brand, CFMP, NTP, CPT
Top Supplements to Heal Adrenal Fatigue

  • Fatigue, low mood, low motivation and poor memory
  • Ideal supplements to heal the adrenals
  • How adaptogenic herbs calm the adrenals

Website: Not Just Paleo

ACCESS IT HERE