Rise & Shine

What's your first thought when you wake up?  Are you a chronic snoozer who dreads getting out of bed?  Are you bombarded by thoughts of all the things you need to do in the day?  Are there no thoughts at all, just fuzziness as you shuffle to the kitchen to make coffee and feel human again?

With the busy-ness of our days, it’s easy to just get up and go -- business. as. usual.

Setting the tone for our day by implanting a thought, word or desired feeling can make all the difference for what our experience and baseline level of connection will be for the upcoming 24 hours.

If you don't know what your first thought is, set the intention to be aware of it for the next few days.  It's easy to forget.  Maybe write yourself a sticky note and keep it by your bedside or if you're using an alarm on your phone, write yourself a note that will pop up.  Don't judge it or feel bad if it's not working out perfectly.  It takes time to shift habits.

One of the busiest people I know recently shared on his vlog that the first thought of his day is to say the word love.  Love  unconditional love; romantic love; that feeling of fullness, peace, and tranquility that feels like it oozes out of you.  It sets the tone for his day and reminds him that this is the feeling he wants to put out to the world.

It's hard to argue with that, but if love isn't your thing or you want a specific vibe for the day (first day at Crossfit?  Job interview?), try out a few words:

"confident

happy

peaceful"

"joy"

"energized"

Observe how you feel when you say them out loud; see how you feel when you think them.  The aim here is to feel it.  Our words carry meaning, which in turn creates feeling.  That feeling isn't just something you experience as an emotion, we experience this on a biochemical and physical level as well.  Just as we know what it feels like to be angry or frustrated, stressed, worried and scared (tense, with shallow breathing; narrowed focus - you can only think about that problem; a racing heart and pounding of our pulse in our ears), the opposite emotions of peacefulness, happiness, ease, and grace have an impact.  They release feel good hormones & endorphins, they slow our heart rate, balance our blood pressure, they widen our focus to see more possibilities.  The area of science known as psychoneuroendocrinology studies this (long name, I know).

Making the shift

  • Rise & shine -- if you think youre going to fall back to sleep, prop yourself up in bed or move to a location that feels nice and is comfortable.  If youre bombarded by little people or pets the moment your eyes open, finding space in the bathroom might work.

Start with just a minute if thats all you can take.  Set a timer if you need one, take a few deep breaths, and with closed eyes, focus on your chosen word and how you want to feel -- then feel it.

  • Try starting a gratitude journal and jot down just three things you are grateful for in the morning and at bedtime.  This can take as little as 10 seconds and helps prime our brain to focus on the positive.
  • Spread the love send a quick text or email to tell people you love them.  Smile.  A good mood is just as contagious as a bad mood.
  • Feel some good vibrations in the morning, rather than turning on the news, which can be a huge downer, put on some fun or uplifting music.   Use headphones so you won't wake up the family or your roommate(s) or dont use them and get everyone involved.  Sing in the shower.  Do you think you'll feel silly?  That's a good thing being silly gets us close to laughing.  And I don't think we need to wait around for the meta-analysis of 100 double blind studies to show us that laughter really is the best medicine.  I laughed really hard the time I was rocking out to the crescendo in Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind piano solo and found my roommate staring me like I'd lost it.

*   *   *

It's a common saying that "life is short" and I get what that is trying to tell us, but life is actually the longest thing we will experience.  Each day is another opportunity to start fresh.  We have a choice in how we feel and we have a choice in how we respond to events in our path.  Even a glimmer of positivity can make a difference for the rest of our day.

In health,

Dr. Tara

Does this resonate?

  

Naturally Speaking in the South Shore Breaker

In March I started writing a column, "Naturally Speaking", for the South Shore Breaker, a new newspaper for Nova Scotia's South Shore.  I've been a bit shy about posting to my blog, but today is better than never for making this stuff public on my website.

I'll be picking through and posting columns here and there on this blog, but for the full listing, you can head over here.

Peace & love, in health

Dr. Tara

Serpents & Doves

"Observe the wisdom that operates in doves and in flowers and trees and the whole of Nature.  It is the same wisdom that does for us what our [mind] could never do:  It circulates our blood, digests our food, pumps our hearts, expands our lungs, immunizes our bodies and heals our wounds while our conscious minds are engaged in other matters".

Anthony De Mello

"The Way to Love" - Meditations for Life

being true to yourself -- it's all about perspective

How often do we say and hear the words:

“should, would, need to, have to”?

For those of us reading books and articles in the self-help section, you’ve probably heard we are best served if these words are removed from our vocabulary -- and I wholeheartedly agree.

But, why?

These words imply you have to do something from the perspective (ie - value system) of another person.  This can lead us to ignore what we want to do (what's high on our value system) to follow a path other than our own.  If we align ourselves to what feels right and pay attention to those things that nag us, give us a vibe (good or bad), excite us, and scare us, then we can be sure we are being more true to ourselves.  As we tap into our true wants and needs, “should, would, need to and have to” fall away and we move forward doing what we want rather than what we feel obligated to do.  When you start being true to yourself, you’d be surprised at how often what we want to do and "should" be doing is one and the same.

“Look out for number one”

Looking out for what is right for you is not a bad thing, but many of us are conditioned to believe it is wrong to put our priorities first.  We may become a martyr or doormat, saying “yes” over and over again when we know we are spreading ourselves too thin, doing something for another when we don’t want to, or embarking on a path to which our heart is not committed.  Living this way, we can easily wear ourselves out, leading to the possibility of adopting a habitually negative outlook, poor health, and potentially damaging our close relationships by harbouring resentment or latent anger.  Listen to your gut and say no when you feel it is right.

Dear Diary...

Often our own voice is the one we hear the least and our opinion can be brushed aside when faced with opposing views of our loved ones.  Take time to reflect on what is going on in your life and help determine what is right for you.  

It can be very challenging for us to put ourselves first and journalling is a great way to start hearing your voice again.  From a beautiful journal to a coiled notebook to typing on your laptop, journalling can take many forms.  You can blast on about what’s irritated you in the day, put down some music or poetry, or follow a more structured way of reflection by checking in with yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually -- there is no right or wrong.  By allowing yourself the space to reflect and getting your hands moving by recording your thoughts, it helps remove that critical part of your conscious mind.  Jumbled thoughts and emotions get clarity as they’re put to paper.  

You might be surprised at what comes out of you when you sit down and clear the clutter from your mind.  

Breathe deep and be thankful for your path and the challenges life brings your way.

In health,

Dr Tara

 

Hungry for change

I watched the documentary Hungry for Change last night and was blown away.  The contributors and producers do an amazing job of presenting a wealth of health information that addresses mind, body, spirit and science in an accessible format.

You can stream it online for free until March 31st.

 
hungry-for-change-300x3001-1.jpg
 

Health is more than just finding a diet or tools to lose and keep off weight, tips for preventing cancer, heart disease and other chronic disease with the "right" vitamin or supplement cocktail, or getting the strongest adrenal support or Meyer's cocktail to let you push through life -- it's about feeling happy, healthy, energized and engaged in our everyday lives.  

If you have questions about how to start make that life a reality, I encourage you to take an hour and a half and watch this.  It doesn't have all the answers -- nothing does -- but it can be a starting point.  Write down any questions you have and ask your health care provider.  If they don't have answers that feel right to you, keep asking!  Find someone who does or look for resources* as a starting point to help you learn more.  Education is empowerment.

We're facing the first generation of kids whose life expectancy may be shorter than their parents due to obesity and related, preventable chronic disease.  That's shocking.  Something needs to change, and it starts with us.

In health,

Dr Tara

*regarding resources: many of the contributors to Hungry For Change are published by Hay House and speak on Hay House Radio, including Kris Carr and Dr Christiane Northrup.  Body Ecology Hour with Donna Gates is another great one.  I often stream Hay House Radio on my iphone or computer while cleaning my house and washing dishes.  It's one of my top finds in 2012 :)

An update on my practice -- home is where the heart is

In November, I made the decision to move back to Nova Scotia.  Born in Vancouver, raised in Hope until 7 and on Vancouver Island (in the Comox Valley) until 18, I'm definitely an Island Girl and BC will always be a home for me.  But in my last six months in Vancouver, I had a nagging feeling that it wasn't the right fit.  

I made the move to the East Coast at the start of this month and I couldn't be happier.  Having spent 8 years of my 20's living in Halifax, Nova Scotia is another home to me.  The Lantz side of my family arrived in what's now Lunenburg County on a ship from Germany in 1754, so it really is coming back to my roots.  My parents, a sister and brother-in-law, my niece, nephew, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and great friends from years ago are all within an hour drive.  I may not see or talk to them every day, but it is amazing to be so close.

To start out with practice, once a month I am traveling to the southern tip of the province to provide naturopathic medical care in Yarmouth at Cornerstone Naturopathic.  I spent several days this past week getting acquainted with the area and shadowing Dr Ben Connolly at the clinic.  Cornerstone Naturopathic Yarmouth is inside an 1800's heritage house that looks out over a lake; I love it.  I feel blessed to be working with such a great group of dedicated people and am excited to be a part of a caring, collaborative naturopathic clinic.

                                              In true Nova Scotia fashion, it went from a sunny 10 degrees the day before, to this.

It is definitely an eye opening experience to be starting practice in rural Nova Scotia.  I took for granted the opportunities for medical care, social programs, access to work and amenities that city-living affords us.  Outside of Halifax, there are literally tens of thousands of people who do not have access to a family physician.  Over the years, I'd heard news stories and read that rural Canada was in desperate need of family doctors, but reading it online or listening to a news story isn't the same as hearing first-hand accounts from residents and reading about economic concerns and the lack of health care services in articles and letters to the editor in the community newspaper.

It's not all doom and gloom though.  Change needs to start from somewhere and I can't begin to convey how excited I am to connect with new-to-me community groups, young entrepreneurs and those moving toward making a change in our province.  Although there is a lot to be said/read about disconnection from others due to technology, Twitter (and to a lesser extent, Facebook) has really helped me connect and learn about these groups.

For the Vancouverites:

All of that being said -- I may not live there, but Vancouver is still another home to me and I will be back often.  I'll be back for workshops, retreats, and to focus on the sides of my practice/life that aren't necessarily "naturopathic medicine" (ie not taught in school), but when taken in the context of the principles of naturopathic medicine, I feel they provide other key avenues for growth, healing and connection to our inner selves.

In health,

Dr Tara