Q&A With Heavenlei Artisan

We chatted with Founder of Napa-based Heavenlei Artisan, Chiree Dilley, to learn more about her delightful new body care creations.

Article by Verdure Magazine Team|January 22, 2023

We tapped Chiree Dilley of Napa-based Heavenlei Artisan to learn a little bit more about who she is and what inspired her to create a luscious new organic skin care line.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: I love people and I enjoy making an organic contribution to the Wellness community. I have dedicated my heart and soul into creating a positive health journey for myself and those I love. I hope I can lead many others to my wellness path!

Q: What inspired you to create Heavenlei Organic Skin Care?

A: I was inspired to find the cleanest water source available when I stumbled on the Kangen Water Ionizer. I joined a community called Know Your Why Co. of like minded individuals and mentors who were dedicated to a toxin-free environment and are on a sustainable mind, body, and planet mission. I was also on a journey to calm my central nervous system and realized that my skin was one of my largest organs working in synergy with my mind, also seeking a calm and soothing environment. I soon realized gaining access to Kangen Water was the only way to get there!

Q: What makes these scrubs different than others?

A: We use only the finest organic ingredients that are local, bio-available, and ethically sourced. We support other small businesses to create the Heavenlei journey.

Q: What should one consider when selecting one of your scrubs?

A: When purchasing a Heavenlei body Scrub, one should consider promoting a state of calmness for their skin, embracing the internal season they are currently in and nurturing the season they yearn to be in. To find a proper balance for your skin, consider the ingredients and type of scrub that you purchase. Our sugar scrubs are soothing and nourishing with the perfect exfoliation. Our sea salt scrubs are detoxifying and healing for your skin with the perfect amount of exfoliation.

Q: Where can your products be purchased?

A: They are currently available online only. If you join my online Instagram community, @heavenleiartisan, you will find my Website link in my Bio. This year we plan to expand and reach out to our local community.

Q: Do you have plans to expand your offerings?

A: This year we have a lot of wonderful ideas and new creations in mind that we are diligently working on, so please stay tuned to our online Instagram community to see our current products launch.  This year we plan to expand to local Napa and Sonoma Valley boutiques and also local Northern California Esthetician Spas.

To learn more about Heavenlei Artisan and purchase products, please visit their Instagram page, @heavenleiartisan.

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Catching Up With Jen Bakane

Former NFL cheerleader and founder of Essential Whole Body Wellness | Essential Wellness Project, Jen Bakane, shares her tips for recommitting to your fitness goals in 2023, plus where you can move mindfully with her this year in Sonoma and Napa.

Article by Divina Helene|January 10, 2023

Set yourself up for a nourished new year! Jen Bakane shares her tips for recommitting to your fitness goals in 2023:

“Create intentions rather than resolutions,” she says.” An intention is how you want to show up for yourself, rather than a flaw that needs to be fixed.”

“Instead of restricting your diet, add more plant-based and healthful choices to each meal. Crowd out the less healthy foods by filling your plate with extra organic veggies and plant proteins.” Lastly, Jen reminds us: “Exercise is not punishment. Move your body in celebration of all that it is capable of and because you always feel better physically and mentally after a good sweat sesh!”

You can find Jen teaching yoga and barre classes in Napa and Sonoma at Halehouse at Stanly Ranch, Sonoma Yoga, and hosting Essential Wellness Project mini-retreats at picturesque locations throughout the valley. Read about her Simple 3-Day Reset here.

2023 Mini-Retreats:

A New Year Reset – One Day Retreat at Halehouse at Stanly Ranch on Saturday, January 14

Half-Day Mini-Retreat & Wine Tasting at Viansa Winery  Sunday, March 19 and Sunday, September 17

Half-Day Mini-Retreat & Farm Tour at Charlie’s Acres Sunday, June 11

Jen Bakane is a fitness and wellness professional living in Sonoma. She works as the Fitness and Wellbeing Manager at Stanly Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection and is the founder of Essential Whole Body Wellness | Essential Wellness Project—and the occasional goat yoga at Charlie’s Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary. Jen honors the mind-body connection and is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Meditation Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Barre Instructor, and RYT Yoga Instructor. Jen’s guided meditations are available on the Core by Hyperice app. Follow her: @jenbakane @essential_wellness_project

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Setting Goals That Stick

Tips for setting goals that will stick with you throughout the new year.

Article by Krissy Nevero|December 30, 2022

It’s that time again for New Year’s resolutions. And, you’ve likely heard, studies show that most people that set New Year’s resolutions don’t achieve them. In fact, many people give up on their resolutions before the end of January.

So, should you even make them?

Personally, I’m a big fan of goal setting—when done right. However, most resolutions aren’t thought out very well. You hear things like, “I want to do better this year”, “I’m going to get healthier this year”, “I need to figure out my life this year”—but what do these things even mean? Without clarity, achievement will be tough, for sure.

I think goal setting can be an excellent way to visualize your future. That said, it doesn’t have to be done for the new year only. You can set goals anytime you like so if you’re not feeling it right now, don’t feel pressured to come up with something only to be disappointed in yourself when you don’t succeed.

But if you’re ready, I’ve got some thoughts for you. One of the most powerful ways to accomplish a goal is by visualizing that you’ve already achieved the outcome. Your actions greatly depend on your thoughts and this visualization can actually help to shift your behaviors and thoughts to train your subconscious mind. So, tap into your imagination, visualize your life as if you accomplished your goals and get planning. I like to use the SMART goal method to develop a plan.

What’s a SMART goal?

  • Specific. What did you visualize? Where do you want to be? What specifically is the goal?
  • Measurable. How will you know when you achieved your goal? Can you track progress or milestones along the way? Tip: measuring progress can help keep you motivated.
  • Achievable. Is your goal realistic? Do you have the means to achieve it?
  • Relevance. Does it align with your values, ambitions and desires for your life?
  • Timely. In what time period can you realistically achieve this goal?

Here’s an example of a goal using the SMART method:

I want to run a 5K—specific. I will run 3x per week and track the increase in mileage each week—measurable. I feel good running 1 mile so I think if I increase my mileage gradually I can do it—achievable. I’ve been improving my fitness level and this goal will help me continue to do that—relevance. There is a local 5K 3-months from now so I will sign up and create a training schedule to be ready by then—timely.

OK so you’ve got your goal spelled out clearly, you’re done, right? Not exactly! A clearly spelled out goal is great but if you want to succeed and make it past January, you may need to go a bit further.

Shout your goal from the rooftop!

OK, that may be dramatic. How about you just share your goal with others? I’m a huge advocate of accountability. Oftentimes, when left to our own devices, we’ll quit when the going gets tough. Ask a friend or family member to help hold you accountable in achieving your goal. Maybe you can do the same for them.

Speak with conviction when talking about your goal.

Instead of saying “I wish” or “I want” or “I hope”  say “I will” or “I am”.  There is so much power in words and in repetition. Tell yourself (and others) that you will attain your goal. You can do anything. You’re strong. You’re capable. Never stop affirming yourself and never stop working towards what you want!

Celebrate along the way. 

We already talked about being able to measure progress and each breakthrough is worthy of acknowledgment for your effort and accomplishment. Celebrating your accomplishments can boost your confidence, help to stave off burnout, and fuel your continued success.

Whether big or small, setting goals can:

  • Provide you with a sense of focus.
  • Allow you to measure your progress.
  • Clarify your boundaries.
  • Resist procrastination.
  • Give you something to celebrate.

So, if you’re looking to set a goal for the new year, or at a later date, use these tips and you’ll be off to a good start. Happy New Year!

Krissy Nevero is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Sonoma, California. To learn more about Krissy and her services, please visit her website: www.regainhealthcoaching.com

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Yoga Off the Mat and Into the World

Lisa Ellisen of Soul Yoga & Wellness reminds us how to take yoga off the mat and into our every-day life.

Article by Divina Helene|December 14, 2022

Yoga, a layered practice, is like a gift that keeps on giving. A committed practice provides you with a strong and more flexible body, a resilient mind and spirit, and the tools to navigate the world outside of the yoga studio. As we draw parallels between our practice on the mat and our real-world experiences off the mat, our yoga tool belt can help us move through life’s highs and lows with a little more grace and ease.

Lisa Ellisen of Soul Yoga & Wellness in Santa Rosa, California shares how to take the many gifts of yoga off your mat and into the real world.

1. Breathe through uncomfortable sensations.
Do you ever feel fearful, angry, disappointed, overwhelmed, overstimulated, or sad? Just as you would on the mat when in an uncomfortable pose, perhaps you can try breathing through those difficult moments. It might not take it all away, but it will help.

2. Focus & concentration
Do you have too much to do and too little time? Do you not know where to begin? Try slowing down and taking it one task at a time. Just like on the yoga mat—one pose at a time. Give each task (like each pose) the attention it deserves. 

A labyrinth is a wonderful tool to help bring focus, or maybe try a puzzle; anything that helps you focus your mind.

3. Be mindful
I love this quote from Lao Tzu: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” Take a pause before you speak or act and then try doing both with mindful awareness, as you would move through a yoga practice on your mat. 

Being in nature is a great place to practice mindfulness.

4. Always do your best.
Do you hold yourself to unreasonable standards? Do you always feel or wish you could do better? Is this evident when you practice yoga, for example, looking to others and feeling less than? The key word in this phrase is your. Always do your best. Check in with your heart; did you do your best? Then forgive yourself if it wasn’t ‘perfect’. Perfect is an unreasonable standard and a yoga practice makes it clear that we aren’t after perfection, rather we are after practice. There is always another level, another place to get to, be where you are and do your best right now. 

A cactus can never be a rose and it wouldn’t want to be. Keep doing what brings you joy
. Do what brings you joy and discard the rest.

To learn more about Lisa Ellisen, please visit her website at: www.soulyogasr.com or her Instagram page, @soulyogasr.

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The Final Full Moon of 2022

We connected with Sonoma County-based Astrologer, LeeAnna Gregorio, for ways to celebrate the last Full Moon of 2022.

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Setting Healthy Boundaries

Protect your peace this Holiday season and beyond.

Article by Krissy Nevero|December 6, 2022

You’ve likely heard of the importance of having healthy boundaries, but what does that actually mean? Boundaries can be defined as limits you identify for yourself and apply through action or communication to protect your time and energy.

Another way to think about boundaries is like a property line. You may see a fence or a “NO TRESPASSING” sign, which clearly indicates a boundary or even a consequence. Of course these boundaries are much easier to see and understand whereas personal boundaries require a bit more communication.

Why are boundaries important?

Having set, personal boundaries:

  • is an essential piece of self-care and self-respect
  • allow you to set limits for healthy relationships
  • enable you to communicate your needs in a relationship
  • encourage you to make space for your feelings and emotions
  • facilitates more positive interactions with others

Often, we go beyond our comfortable limits and push boundaries because we feel guilty about something or feel as though we need to live up to a certain expectation that has been set for us. This can lead to feelings of discomfort and resentment.

So while setting boundaries may be uncomfortable at first, it’s essential for your overall well being.

How do you define your boundaries?

When it comes to setting healthy boundaries in your life, the first step is determining where and what those boundaries are. As you go through your day, take note of what actions make you uncomfortable, then decide how much of those actions you can tolerate and accept. As you determine where you choose to draw the line in every situation, consider your physical, emotional, and mental limits.

Here are a few examples to get you thinking:

  • If you consider yourself an introvert and it takes a lot out of you to go out on the town with friends, take some time to think about how that extra energy affects your physical, emotional, and mental health. Are you physically exhausted the day after a night of socializing? If so, do you need to decline certain invitations in the future or is there a way you can plan to recharge the next day and make space for that?
  • When you’re in a situation that you don’t feel great about, check in to see if you’re feeling discomfort or resentment, then ask yourself what could be influencing that feeling. Is it the way an interaction is going? Does the other person have a specific expectation that’s bothering you? Do you feel as though you’re being taken advantage of? Or unappreciated? How can you communicate that or avoid this type of situation in the future?
  • Consider your work environment. Is it normal for your coworkers to work beyond the 8-hour workday? This feeling of wanting to measure up could be wreaking havoc on your physical and mental health. Is this truly a requirement of your job or can you meet the expectations of your employer during standard business hours? Do you need to have a conversation with your boss about it?

Once you define your boundaries, you will need to communicate them.

Tips for communicating boundaries :

When we first start practicing setting boundaries, it can feel challenging. We might feel guilty, afraid, or self-conscious but it’s important to remember that setting limits will help make relationships healthier in the long-run.

  • Start small. Before you tackle important relationships or significant life changes, start with something small that doesn’t seem super threatening to you. This could include scheduling time blocks for work, exercise, a meal or self-care.
  • Get support. Develop a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries.
  • Communicate clearly. When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, calmly, firmly, respectfully, and concisely.
  • Take action. If you set a boundary, follow through with it. Stay strong; don’t give in.
  • Learn to say no. If your plate is full, it’s OK to say “no” or “not right now”.
  • Take the emotions out of it. You’re not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you’re setting. You’re only responsible for communicating your boundary in a respectful manner. If it upsets them, know it is their problem.

Like any new skill, communicating and maintaining boundaries will take practice. You deserve to be comfortable in everyday situations as often as possible. If you have the opportunity to make your day easier or less stressful, why not do it? Remember, boundaries can protect your time and energy and these days that is priceless!

Krissy Nevero is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Sonoma, California. To learn more about Krissy and her services, please visit her website: www.regainhealthcoaching.com

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Verdure’s 2022 Local Holiday Gift Guide

Cheers to celebrating local businesses, artists, curators and creators this Holiday season.

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3 Ways to Reuse Your Coffee Grounds

Are you still throwing away your coffee grounds? Here are three useful, practical and convenient ways to reuse those leftovers.

Article by Divina Helene|May 23, 2022

Stop right there. Are you about to toss those perfectly damp coffee grounds into the trash? Before you do, consider the several very useful, practical, and convenient ways to put them to good use:

01. Use them as a fertilizer in your garden. Coffee lowers the pH in the soil, and it adds nitrogen and potassium to the soil as well. It’s a fun morning task for the kiddos, and your plants will thank you.

02. Use them as a deodorizer. Use your leftover coffee grounds as a kitchen sink or cutting board scrub to eliminate odors fast. You can also place leftover coffee grounds in a small, uncovered glass jar in the refrigerator to soak up any lingering smells.

03. Use them as a body scrub. Yes, that’s right. This is perhaps my favorite use of leftover coffee grounds—as a constant supply of clean beauty product! The caffeine and chlorogenic acids (CGA) contained in coffee beans can help reduce skin inflammation and contain antimicrobial properties, too. Coffee grounds are a gentle skin exfoliator and are perfect to use on the lips, face, and body, leaving behind soft, supple skin. You can create your own delightfully-scented scrubs, adding some vanilla or unrefined coconut oil, and keep them handy in glass mason jars for clean, long-lasting, home-made skin-care.



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Tame Your Tech

A mindful approach to living in our tech-saturated world.

Article by Divina Helene|December 30, 2021

Airplane mode? Sure, that’s better than nothing, but try as you might, you can’t escape technology’s reach completely, even after you’ve turned everything off for the night. With access to WiFi in some of the most remote, obscure places on Earth these days, it’s pretty safe to say that we are surrounded by a constant barrage of man-made, non-ionizing electromagnetic frequencies (EMF’s) emitted by wireless routers, cell phone towers, SmartMeters, mobile devices and the like, day in and day out. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified non-ionizing EMF’s as category 2B, meaning there is enough evidence to suggest a link between their use and cancer.

I’ve always believed it important to set limits and create boundaries when it comes to technology, EMF’s being only one of those reasons why. While we’re unable to escape technology’s grasp altogether, we can certainly take steps to mitigate our exposure to EMF’s and artificial light emitted by these devices, especially when at home. Below you’ll find some practical tips for taming your tech, creating a balanced and more peaceful home environment.

Unplug your WiFi router when not in use and especially at night. WiFi is certainly convenient but it doesn’t make much sense to keep it on while you sleep. While it may be an extra step in your bedtime routine, unplugging your WiFi router when not in use and especially at night reduces your exposure to EMF’s—it’s worth it.

Opt-out of your SmartMeter. You may not even know it, but most homes were outfitted with a newer technology years ago that sends power usage information to the power supplier wirelessly, eliminating the need for someone to come and read your meter. It sounds good, but these SmartMeters emit very high EMF’s, and are often placed on the back side of homes near the bedrooms. And you may not even know it, but you have the option to opt-out of the SmartMeter program altogether; you may keep or have an old-fashioned analogue meter reinstalled for a small fee. Again—totally worth it, in my opinion.

Invest in an EMF-shielding cell phone case and/or laptop blanket. We can do almost anything from our mobile phones these days, which means that most of us are on them a lot. I purchased a Radi Armor cell phone case that I love. They have many more EMF-shielding products to choose from like headphones, laptop blankets, and bed canopies, that block up to 90% of EMF radiation.

Invest in high-end blue light blocking lenses. Since we can’t avoid technologically-advanced electronic devices completely, you may want to consider investing in blue light blocking lenses. But not just any blue light blocking lenses you find on the internet; you need the real deal. Talk to your local optician about your options, but I highly recommend DuraVision® BlueProtect from ZEISS which protects the eyes from the excess blue light we’re exposed to from modern light sources and display screens. Too much artificial blue light can negatively effect our melatonin production and natural circadian rhythm.

Set boundaries. I don’t turn on my phone until 8:00AM, and I set it to Airplane mode throughout the day, to provide myself with ample undisturbed time; most calls, texts, and emails can wait. I turn my phone off again about an hour before I go to bed. I don’t want to be attached to my digital devices, and I certainly don’t want my kids to think it’s appropriate, either.

Place shungite around the home. Shungite is well-known to absorb impurities and free radicals from drinking water thanks to it’s specialized structure comprised of fullerenes, or hollow molecular carbon-cages, but it is now widely believed that shungite can help to neutralize EMF’s, too. I keep a raw shungite stone in our living room near the TV and WiFi router that I purchased from Sentience Sonoma.

So while technology can be considered a blessing in many ways, we mustn’t forget the opposing elements; that is, the potentially harmful physiological effects, and the time-thief capabilities of too much tech if one isn’t careful. Now, set down your phone and go take a walk.

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Walnut Chocolate-Chip Cookies with Yogurt and Almond Flour

A grain-free twist on an old-time favorite.

Article by Divina Helene|July 1, 2021

These walnut chocolate-chip cookies made with yogurt and almond flour are a delicious, grain-free twist on an old time favorite. They were delightfully soft and gooey with these perfectly browned, crispy edges—so good! Try them out and let me know what you think!


1/2 cup of plain, full-fat Greek yogurt (I use www.wallabyyogurt.com)

3/4 cup of coconut sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup almond flour (I use www.bobsredmill.com)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnuts chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Mix the yogurt and the sugar until mixture becomes creamy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients, stirring with a rubber spatula until no lumps remain.
  5. Add chocolate chips.
  6. Add walnuts.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop to portion the cookie dough and arrange on baking sheets about 3 inches apart.
  8. Bake cookies for 14 minutes.
  9. Remove and cool (move to a wire rack after 5 minutes).
  10. ENJOY!



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Ashley Rarick’s Calming Chamomile-Rose Tea

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3 Ways to Boost Your Immunity Now

We can over-complicate it, but let's not.

Article by Divina Helene|March 27, 2021

More and more Americans are lacking three fundamental components required in building and sustaining a robust immune system: sleep, sunshine, and movement. There are likely many reasons for this, from sedentary lifestyles (as compared to our ancestors), high-demand, high-stress jobs, and an exaggerated fear of the sun (disclaimer: burning is never good).

Consistent sleep is paramount when it comes to boosting both our immediate (innate) and learned (adaptive) immune function. Even if you aren’t obviously hurt or sick, studies have shown that our immune system revs up the production of cytokines (proteins that act as immune system messengers), helping to strengthen our body’s “immune memory”. As the body begins to wake (thanks to our circadian rhythm), this inflammatory response winds down. When you don’t get adequate sleep, you risk compromising this delicate self-regulating system, allowing inflammation to persist, and risk many unfavorable short-term side effects and in some cases, the development of  chronic conditions. You may function on insufficient sleep, but your body will never grow accustomed to it; human beings need a minimum of 6-7 hours of restful sleep at night. For tips on establishing better bed-time habits, be sure to read Seven Steps to Better Sleep.

Human beings need sunlight. Vitamin D isn’t found naturally in many foods but your body produces it when exposed to direct sunlight. Vitamin D is integral for bone health, but it also plays a crucial role in both the body’s innate and adaptive immune response (hello, monocytes, DC’s, T and B-cells!). Vitamin D deficiency is associated with autoimmunity and an increased risk of infection. It’s best to get outside in the sun, but if sunshine is lacking, you may wish to supplement daily with 600IU of Vitamin D. Remember, there’s a difference between safely spending time in the sun and burning, which is never good.

Movement is also an important component of healthy immune function as movement and exercise mobilizes immune cells. Depending on the intensity and duration of your exercise, the number of circulating immune cells increases by 50-400% for up to three hours! Research shows that even 20-40 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day is enough to boost the immune system. So while we may think of exercise and movement as mere methods of slimming down, we can see that an active lifestyle is important in many ways.

These three simple, yet vital, components of healthy immune response are worth emphasizing in a world that’s constantly barraging us with the latest high-price health trends and modalities. It can seem overwhelming to sift through. I encourage you to keep it simple by sticking to the time-tested basics.

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Vegan, Grain-Free, No-Bake Fudge Brownies

Boy, are you in for a treat with these decadent and wildly satisfying vegan brownies! Not only are they vegan, but they're grain-free and refined-sugar-free, making them a much more favorable alternative to the traditional sweet treat.

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Tricia Rose Stone’s 28 Acts of Kindness

Spark joy this February with Tricia Rose Stone's 28 Acts of Kindness.

Article by Divina Helene|February 2, 2021

I came across Tricia Rose Stone’s 28 Acts of Kindness on her uplifting and inspiring lifestyle blog, Rose Colored Glasses. Small acts of kindness are a sure-fire method of sparking joy and cheerfulness within your community and it leaves those giving just as happy as those receiving (hello, oxytocin). February is a time to celebrate the bold expressions of the heart chakra and small, random acts of kindness is a prime example of that. And who knows, perhaps your month-long commitment to an act of kindness a day will transform into something more permanent—the world could use that now more than ever.

1. Pay it Backward: buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
2. Compliment the first three people you talk to today. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could
make someone’s entire day.
3. Send a positive text message to five different people throughout the day.
4. Donate old towels or blankets to your local animal shelter.
5. Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats.
6. Send a friend a helpful or inspiring article that made you think of them.
7. Have a LinkedIn account? Write a recommendation for a coworker or connection.
8. Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant
other, or a family member.
9. Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford, along with an encouraging note.
10. Pick up any litter you see around you as you go through your day.
11. Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
12. Run an errand for a family member or friend who could use some extra help.
13. Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
14. Slow down so someone can merge in front of you in traffic.
15. Email or write to someone who has made a difference in your life.
16. Write a positive comment on your favorite blog, website, or a friend’s social media account.
17. If you’re an Amazon.com customer, you can donate Amazon.com’s money to your favorite U.S. Nonprofit through Amazon Smile. Once set up, Amazon will contribute to your favorite nonprofit each time you purchase.
18. Write a great online review for a restaurant or local business you love.
19. Reconnect with an old friend you have lost touch with over the years.
20. Let someone cut in front of you in line at the grocery store.
21. Say something encouraging to a parent who struggles with rambunctious kids in a
restaurant or grocery store.
22. Offer to return a stranger’s grocery cart to the front of the store.
23. Write a sweet, encouraging note and put it under your child’s pillow.
24. Call your mom, dad, or siblings to say I love you.
25. Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
26. Send a care package to a service member.
27. Donate your old cell phone or other electronics to charity.
28. Collect and donate sample-size toiletries to a local homeless shelter.

Visit Tricia’s blog at Rose Colored Glasses and Instagram at @rosecoloredglasses_official.

Reflections From a Walk in the Woods

We must remember that our single greatest power as free and sovereign beings, is the ability to create our own reality; a reality that deeply resonates with us and truly feeds our soul and purpose here on Earth. We get to choose freedom over enslavement, peace over war, individuality over conformity.

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Manifest Your 2021 Dreams Into Reality

Mindset is key in manifesting an epic year ahead, no matter what comes your way in 2021.

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When Stress Becomes Chronic

I don’t want to believe that it took a pandemic of global proportions to prove to us that this sub-life is unsustainable. But I guess it did. The subliminal signs weren’t enough to slow down our lives on our own accord. It’s remarkable, in a dark, strange way, just how much stress the body can take before complete and utter exhaustion, and how the mind continues to justify it.

Article by Divina Helene|December 16, 2020

In a habitually flurried modern world, burning the midnight oil has become the new normal rather than the exception to the normal. The high-demand jobs, the late nights and inadequate sleep, the poor and overly-processed diets, the unresolved traumas, the lack of connection—connection to ourselves, to others, and to nature—have led us to a sub-life of heightened stress, fear, and anxiety.

I don’t want to believe that it took a pandemic of global proportions to prove to us that this sub-life is unsustainable. But I guess it did. The subliminal signs weren’t enough to slow down our lives on our own accord. It’s remarkable, in a dark, strange way, just how much stress the body can take before complete and utter exhaustion, and how the mind continues to justify it.

We are designed for stressful situations just not chronic ones. Many of us are so disillusioned or numbed-up with caffeine, alcohol, or drugs that we’re unable to recognize that we’re living in a state of perpetual heightened stress. Only when symptoms like irritability, headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, and depression or withdrawal begin to rear their ugly heads do we finally pause in search of respite.

From purely holistic perspective, the root cause of our habitual chronic stress must be addressed—and this is no small feat. For one, it would require a massive socio-cultural awakening and a collective mindset shift. This won’t happen overnight (although, I think we’re on the way). So, for now, we may have to settle for second best: managing it with mindful awareness and a nurtured brain-body connection.

At the helm of the brain-body connection lies the almighty vagus nerve, a discerning bundle of nerve fibers that govern the parasympathetic—or rest, digest, repair—branch of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Because these expansive pair of nerves connect with all the organs of the visceral body, the vagus nerve is able to continuously relay information to the brain about the body and how well everything is—or isn’t—functioning, via neurotransmitters. The vagus nerve is also comprised of descending fibers that relay information from the brain to the body. These bi-directional interactions between the brain and the body via the vagus nerve are everything.

Chronic stress impairs, or lowers, vagal tone, or the functionality of the vagus nerve, creating an unpleasant ripple effect throughout the body. Low vagal tone has been linked with chronic inflammation, digestive disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, heart conditions, and many other familiar ailments. Similarly, low vagal tone caused by issues in the gastrointestinal tract (the vagus nerve rules the gut-brain axis), alcohol use, excessive dental work, muscular trauma, or even genetics, hinders the ability to handle chronic stress. It’s a two-way street.

To avoid the undesirable side-effects of chronic stress, we must uncover the uncomfortable truth about what’s causing it. This is challenging. Often times, it’s more than just one thing but many things compiled together over time. This kind of deeper housekeeping requires a mental, physical, and spiritual commitment, one that many, ironically, don’t have the time (or desire) for. I do believe that the tides are slowly shifting and that perhaps more people will be ready and willing to do the work. In the meantime, we can learn to better support our body’s ability to rest, digest and repair and learn to manage and cope with our stress effectively.

Managing chronic stress effectively isn’t all that complicated; it just tends to be overlooked. For example, regular movement and a diverse, whole-foods diet is paramount in managing stress yet how often are both placed on the back burner? We must also set boundaries—at home, at work, and in our social lives—and get comfortable saying no. We must keep good company—that is, surround ourselves with people who are positive, supportive, and a good influence. We must get off our screens and out of the fluorescent-lit classrooms and offices and ground in nature daily (also known as earthing). We should spend more time doing the things that bring us true joy and happiness; getting lost in the rhythm of good music, writing or journaling, coffee with a good friend, or volunteering with a favorite nonprofit.  And let’s not forget that the vagus nerve is a key player in stress management. We can mindfully integrate the practice of vagus nerve stimulation, which increases vagal tone—and increases our resilience to stress—into our daily lives.

This can be achieved in many ways but consistency is key. We can practice slow, rhythmic belly-breathing (diaphragmatic breathing), commit to daily movement and mild exercise like walking or yoga, try cold therapy (ice baths or cryotherapy), take a few minutes a day to gargle, sing or hum, utilize sound therapy (listening to calming ocean waves, for example), increase our sun exposure, commit to deep, restorative sleep by turning screens off early, meditate often, book a massage (lymphatic massage, if possible, or gently massage your own neck, abdomen and belly daily), and generally cultivating a deep sense of gratitude, connection, and purpose in life through writing, therapy, soul-work, and meaningful social relationships.

I’ll conclude by saying this: we must stop wearing our chronic stress as if it were a badge of honor. Instead, let’s be cognizant of the many ways that chronic stress manifests in the body, slowly crippling our quality of life. We must purposely and mindfully make the choice to lean in to a slower, more sustainable way of life that supports our health and well-being. We just can’t run ourselves ragged anymore; there’s too much on the line for that now.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry—Without the Guilt

It's hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner! As a Holistic Nutritionist and clean-eating advocate, I have a few tips to share with you about enjoying the upcoming Holiday—guilt free.

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A Goddess State of Mind

Peel back the layers and discover your Divine Feminine.

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A is for Accountability

Outsourcing our deep inner work doesn't shift anything—it leaves us running in circles. We must be accountable.

Article by Divina Helene|November 9, 2020

As we’ve lost touch with our true selves we’ve also lost touch with a little something called accountability. The two go hand-in-hand—if you’re not at the helm of your own ship, then accountability would seem to be a rather foreign concept, or an altogether useless one, would it not?

For the truly out-of-touch, there may be an appeal to outsourcing the inner work, pointing fingers, and passing the blame as they wait for someone else to swoop in and save the day, but this lackadaisical approach isn’t sustainable any longer. We’re simply moving in circles. We need more individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves, dig deep, and do the inner work that is required for everlasting change—in other words, we need people to take personal accountability instead of merely passing off the work.

The correlation between those who are quick to relinquish control (and/or their freedom) and those who lack accountability is worth examining, too. Perhaps they have forgotten (or refuse to accept) the fact that despite what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they’re in full control—sovereign and with limitless potential. Let this be a reminder.

Only once these connections have been made (or re-made), will we begin to see a true shift in the collective toward true peace, joy and freedom.

Thoughts on the Times

More emphasis must be placed on educating the masses on other ways to “slow the spread”—more like “slow the spread of the many chronic diseases plaguing Americans and leaving them susceptible to complications from COVID-19 or any other cold or flu."

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A Note to My Boys in 2020

To my discerning and ever-curious young men: I hope you continue to ask the difficult questions even when—actually, especially when—it's unpopular to do so.

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‘Ol Blue Eyes

Our high-tech world is affecting our eyes in a massive way, and the current shelter-in-place isn't helping.

Article by Nestorius Owner-DeKelaita|May 9, 2020

Our high-tech world is affecting our eyes in a massive way, and the current shelter-in-place isn’t helping.

More than half of children and over seventy-percent of adults experience symptoms of digital eye strain. These numbers are likely climbing due to the global pandemic where distance learning and working-from-home have us depending on our digital devices more than ever before. So what’s the big deal? Well, after prolonged exposure to screens and other digital devices, all which sit close to the eye, the eye’s auto-focus system (known as “accommodation”) becomes stiff and locked in place. Distant objects will now appear blurry, and the eyes will feel strained when refocusing on distant objects. This excessive strain on the eyes will manifest itself in various forms, such as:

  • HEADACHES – especially common in the temple or upper neck area.
  • DRY, ITCHY EYES – while staring we blink less, and this dries out our eyes and causes them to itch.
  • FATIGUE AND MALAISE – poor vision causes squinting and bad posture, tiring the muscles around the eyes and face, straining the body and reducing natural energy levels.

To make matters worse, these digital devices emit artificial blue light, which our eyes have not yet evolved to filter. Artificial blue light is a more powerful suppressor of melatonin than any drug known to man. When we are exposed to blue light in the evening hours and especially before bedtime, it is extremely disruptive to our sleep patterns. Exposure to blue light at night wreaks havoc on our circadian rhythms, because there are special light-sensing cells in the back of our eye that control our sleep-wake cycle and these cells are especially sensitive to blue light in the 459 – 485nm range.

The good news? Your local optician can offer state of the art protection against digital eye strain and blue light exposure with products such as ZEISS Blue Protect. ZEISS Blue Protect has been thoroughly researched to block the harmful effects of blue light in children and adults. It’s ideal for:

  • Students (reading and writing on screens)
  • PC/console gaming
  • General indoor protection and comfort
  • Working around bright fluorescent or LED lights
  • Watching widescreen HD television/movies

If you can, be sure to turn off blue light sources at least three hours before going to bed, or wear a blue-filtering lens. Our understanding of blue light’s impact is growing every year. We’re sure to learn even more, but there’s no better time than right now to protect something as valuable as your vision.

Get Back to the Basics

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Human in the Mirror

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Seven Steps to Better Sleep

Struggling with sound sleep? Here's an Ayurvedic practitioner's tips for deeper and more restorative sleep.

Article by Divina Helene|January 1, 2020

We all know that adequate sleep is crucial to optimal health and immune function so make a promise to yourself here and now: get enough sleep—no matter what. We spoke with Ayurvedic practitioner Ashley Rarick of Ayurvedic Vitality about getting a better nights’ sleep, and here are her tips for inducing a deep and restful slumber, naturally:

1. Take 10 deep belly breaths: when lying in bed place your hand over the belly button and breathe in deeply and slowly to the point where you can feel the belly rise for ten breaths. This will stimulate the Vagus nerve, bringing natural relaxation to the body. This can also be done if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night.
2. Have a cup of warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg and/or a natural sweetener of your choice about an hour before bed. Nutmeg is traditionally used in Ayurveda to naturally relax the body to help induce sound sleep.
3. Have your last meal at least 3 hours before bed.
4. Do not take day naps if you are having trouble sleeping at night.
5. Take a warm bath with rose essential oil before bedtime. This will help you unwind and soothe the mind, preparing for sound sleep. Rose helps heal not only skin, but also brings about a state of deep mental calm and healing.
6. Spend the hour before bed without the use of electronics.
7. Have a cup of warm chamomile tea before bedtime. Chamomile brings deep calm to the nervous system.

Wishing you a better night’s sleep…

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