Searching for Happiness? Look for the Trash Can.

I can say with confidence that, at times, I can be my own worst enemy.

I have transformed so many aspects of my life to align with my purpose and goal of becoming healthier, learning compassion and living a joyful life – yet, there was still (and I imagine will always be) negative thoughts that popped up in my head that I had difficulty as distinguishing as being separate from me.

“If not everybody likes me then there must be something wrong with me.”

“If I make a mistake that means I’m not smart enough.”

Negative thoughts that we experience hold the potential to be a hundred times more addictive and destructive than any drug.

And I admit, I was junkie.

The negative thoughts don’t even have to be about you – they can be about other people too!

“She won’t last long at that job. She’s not right for it.”

“He cheated on his wife so he’s a terrible person.”

Now, I’m not saying cheating on someone is right – or that the woman is going to excel at that position, but what I am saying is – WHY THINK ABOUT IT?

Why not choose to think of something else?

For me, I found it paramount to effectively deal with choosing such thoughts.

It’s not as easy as simply saying to yourself, “I’m going to be positive today” – removing damaging thoughts and your attention to those thoughts has to be a proactive approach.

You have to do something about it!


Pretty obvious….

You can not address negative thoughts in your life until you first realize that certain thoughts are not doing you any benefit. 

Sounds easy enough ….however a person that just spent the last 2 hours gossiping about people and then acknowledging that they just had one negative thought is not going to change their life –

Hello! They aren’t even aware that the last two hours were filled with damaging thoughts - even if it is about someone else, it affects you THE SAME WAY!

The poison being spewed at another is being grown and produced by the speaker.

For me, I recognize that I am having harmful thoughts when I feel distressed, anxious or gloomy. No one is immune to experiencing crap ideas and thoughts, its all about recognizing them AND doing something about it.


There are a few things I do when I find myself saying– “Hey, thinking this isn’t doing any good.”
Firstly – I find the quickest thing I am thankful for. I know, I know – It sounds corny. But it does help!

I remember getting lost, all by myself, driving home from Berlin, Ohio sometime the end of July. I was leaving my brother’s rehearsal dinner for his wedding.  It was late, my boobs were engorged from not nursing for so long, the GPS had no signal, it started raining, it was dark outside and there was nothing in sight. I was completely lost.  

I remember saying out loud how I was grateful that I had enough gas to drive around as far as I needed to find my way back. I kept saying how grateful I was that I was able to enjoy the country side, and that it wasn’t snowing, and that I had good windshield wipers, etc.

I think I went a bit crazy that night – but in essence, I did not allow myself to feed off of terrible thoughts and I found that it worked!

In the end, I found myself – an hour out of my way, off route….in a good mood and thankful again, this reason being to finally be home.

Action – Trash’em

I used to say to myself “delete” when thoughts came up that were destructive…even though it seemed to work in the short term – the same thoughts continued to resurface.


I recently read about research published in Psychological Science which found when people wrote down their unwanted, negative thoughts on paper and then threw the paper away – they also mentally discarded the thoughts as well.

Seems too easy huh? Two words for you – TRY. IT.

“At some level, it can sound silly. But we found that it really works — by physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts.”

For the last few days, I’ve been taking a few minutes in the morning to jot down whatever thoughts or concerns that aren’t beneficial to my life...

and then I tear them up into tiny pieces and throwthem in the trash...

and I have to say – it feels remarkable and I don’t think about them.  

Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the thought(s) completely but it allows you to make a break in the recurrence of the thoughts for a period of time – which is all you need to start replacing them with positive ones!

Action – Replace’em

The same study mentioned above also found that if you write down beneficial thoughts and keep them close to you that you have the ability to magnify them and make them more important in your life.

What I do, after throwing my bad thoughts away in the trash every morning – immediately following, I write down one thing I am grateful for and post it at my desk so I can see it all day...after awhile they start to accumulate -

It doesn’t have to be something colossal. Just a small thought, like a little seed you plant, will cultivate and grow many more similar, positive thoughts throughout the day.

- - -

Better believe it - Your thoughts affect how you feel and act in any given day, as well as affect the people who you love.  

Don’t feel trapped - We absolutely have the ability to modify our thoughts and significantly improve our lives.

People who are positive cope with stress better, experience better health and immunity, and are more resilient when trauma and crisis occur.

What do you have to lose by trying these few steps out every morning?

I would love to hear your comments or tips on positive thinking. Do you struggle with negative thoughts? Please leave a comment below!


"If a pebble in our boot torments us, we expel it. We take off the boot and shake it out. And once the matter is fairly understood, it is just as easy to expel an intruding and obnoxious thought from your mind, as it is to shake a stone out of your shoe."
- Edward Carpenter

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

Every year for Thanksgiving, I make green bean casserole. 

This year, however, I had to tweek my recipe a bit – making it completely from scratch.

It turned out absolutely delicious! All my family members raved how great it was (with none of them the wiser it was completely vegan!).

Even if you are not vegan – I urge you to try this next time you think about making green bean casserole!  Enjoy –


4 cups chopped mushrooms
2 tb chopped onions
2 small cloves of garlic
3-4tb vegan friendly butter
2tb corn starch
2 ½ c soy or almond milk
4cans of green beans (you could use frozen or better yet fresh!)
2 containers of French fried onions
salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 350.
Chop up mushrooms – I used baby portabellas for this recipe.

Chop up onions and garlic

Melt butter

Saute mushrooms, garlic, onions – add some pepper as well (skip the salt here for now because it will make the mushrooms wacky)

Add 2 cups of soy or almond milk (I used organic soy in my recipe) to the sauté mix and bring to a boil.

While that is heating up mix ½ cup of milk and your corn starch – whisk together with fork and make sure it is well incorporated.

Add the cornstarch mixture and reduce to a simmer – uncovered

While that is simmering (stir occasionally) – drain/clean green beans.

Add greenbeans to a nice container and mix with French fried onions. Once you approve of the consitency of the mix/mushroom mixture – pour over green beans – add salt and pepper – mix together well.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes
Stir again and add remaining French onions to top – back for about 6 more minutes.

Remove from oven and enjoy!

Stages Parents Experience On Their Journey to Understanding Vaccines

I speak to many parents who choose an alternative vaccine schedule – whether it is to selectively choose which vaccines to administer, delay certain vaccines until a certain age, or decline vaccines all together….

We all seem to be on a journey of attaining more education to answer questions we hold (many of which our pediatricians are unable/unwilling to address). To those who are new to the debate, it seems they are the most willing to absorb it like a dry, thirsty sponge…just be cautious of your sources (on both sides of the issue).

Whether you are just starting to ask questions while pregnant or if you waited until your child was a toddler – it seems that the initial journey starts out in predictable stages.  For me, this is how my journey started…

The Delaying Stage - “Maybe There Can Be Too Many …”

Some parents start by delaying vaccines or selectively choosing which vaccines to administer. It’s overwhelming to see just how many more vaccines our children are receiving then when we were children.

The ol’ stand by suggested book of Dr. Sears (The Vaccine Book) address this issue. This book is popular among new parents just starting out and I remember reading this initially before my daughter’s first well-child visit.

Although the book has the potential to be beneficial at providing a platform to start further research, I would definitely recommend further reading.

I remember, after reading The Vaccine Book, telling my pediatrician my concerns about the amount vaccines that were going to be given to my daughter. I suggested only administering one at a time. I didn’t yet know enough about why exactly we were going to give them, how safe they were, what adverse reactions I should expect, what to do if there was a reaction… etc.
But instead of advising me to wait until I was sure – she responded :
 “We don’t recommend that. It’s more convenient to make one trip and your daughter may start to feel anxiety in the office if she’s here too many times to receive shots.”
What the frig - I was completely unprepared, anxious and unsure what to do.
What that book didn’t tell me (nor anyone else) is that pediatricians (in general) really aren’t equipped well at address parental concern over vaccines. For one, they really don’t have enough time to sit down and talk to you about the research available and where you start. Frankly, they aren’t there to be your own personal medical counselor.
Sorry to say, but that is your/our responsibility.

Needless to say, I went along with the doctor’s advice – I felt like I didn’t have enough information yet to make an informed choice, so I trusted the doctor to make that choice for me. I obediently agreed and stood there while my concerns were thrown out like yesterday’s trash.

The Ingredient Stage -
“You Said They Were Made Of What?!”

Usually starting off with headway on mercury alone, it doesn’t take long to find out this isn’t the only ingredient to be leery of.

I remember being in the pediatrician’s office (the second pediatrician - we switched after the debacle of the 2 month-shots) and they proudly posted an article about how mercury is no longer in vaccines in the small examination room.
Why is it always mercury?
Sorry to say – but mercury is still in a number of vaccines given in the US.  (thimerosal is in the following vaccines: Tripedia (DTaP),Afluria (Influenza), Fluvirin (Influenza), Flulaval (Influenza), Fluzone (Influenza),Decavac (Td), Mass Biologics (Td)
Here is a list provided by the CDC of the ingredients in each vaccine. After reviewing, you might ask yourself – how is this acceptable? Why can’t vaccines be made with something other then crap ingredients? (polysorbate 80, aluminum, etc.)

Good question there – heck if I know…maybe because they are so effective the way they are already being made? Ugh -Check out this and this and this and this.
Let’s just say when we searched and found a second pediatrician, hoping that the DO (versus MD) title would lend more kindly to our concerns, we weren’t met with an understanding ear. Instead, we were expected to list everything we knew at that point about vaccines (whilst a baby fussed and cried – tired and hungry) next to the large poster spouting vaccine safety. At least by this point in our journey, we had enough gusto to say no – no matter how bullied we were!

The Adverse Reaction Stage - “Just a Mild Fever and Fussiness is to be Expected, Right?”

I remember a nurse offering several papers (all printed on fun, different pastel colored paper to make them more interesting and light hearted) informing us of about the  vaccines that they wanted to administer. (If you ask me, these should be printed out on red paper with black bold print minus illustrations and decals)

She told me that they were for me to read and they were to inform me of a few common reactions that I may see in my baby following vaccines.

 That was the only paperwork and information I was ever provided by my doctor. (If you don’t count the letter we received informing us we where fired from the practice)
Interestingly, I never received an offer to see any of the manufacturers inserts for the 7 vaccines they wanted to inject that day. Although, again, this is my responsibility – why aren’t more parents told about that?   

Only later did I find out there was more to those pastel colored pages. There was a whole data base listing side effects.
These side effects include (but are not limited to) convulsions and epilepsy, permanent brain damage, anaphylactic (life threatening allergic) reactions, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), retinal/brain hemorrhages and death.

And that’s only immediate side effects.

What about long term side effects? Vaccines have been associated with such conditions as asthma, eczema, insulin dependent diabetes, arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, attention deficit disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer. Near 40% of all children in the
US now suffer from such chronic conditions. (read here for more published literature on the safety of vaccines)

If all this could happen then why did my doctor just tell me these were safe?


The Safety Stage - “I Thought You Said These Were Tested and Safe.”

The gold standard of medical science is the double blind crossover saline-placebo study.
This test is rarely performed on vaccines currently licensed in the US.
In an astounding leap of logic, contrary to all rules of science, vaccines are assumed to be safe and effective and therefore, it is considered to be unethical to withhold vaccinations for the purposes of testing them. The placebo groups in vaccine safety trials are given another vaccine (or adjuvant injection) to compare and assess safety results.

While the CDC continues to spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year in promoting and implementing vaccination campaigns and little or no money on independent research, parents will continue to mistrust the research that has been performed by vested interests and I don’t blame them!
Just consider the conflict of interest involved in the data collected or the use of placebos in the research reviewed. [1][2][3][4][5]

I guess this stage could easily transform into the “conspiracy theory stage” if you become bitter and linger here too long…so don’t.


The Bigger Picture Stage -  “Maybe Getting Measles or Chicken Pox serves a bigger purpose”

Being fearful of certain diseases is helpful in obtaining the highest level of immunization in our population.
Being educated is not.  I recommend you take the time to learn about the illnesses you are considering vaccinating against (in fact, this should be your first step!)

Countless studies have shown that contracting the common childhood illnesses help to prime and strengthen the immune system in a way that vaccinations just simply cannot do. This priming means that children are much less likely to suffer from the now common allergic and autoimmune conditions that plague them today.

Just one example, contracting measles, for instance, has been shown to treat such autoimmune conditions as eczema and many studies performed which show that children who do not contract measles naturally as a child are more likely to suffer from certain cancers later in life. Would you rather have measles or cancer?

Another huge benefit to contracting the wild strain of these diseases is ‘vertical’ immunity (the ability for mother’s to pass on immunity to their newborns). It is not known if vaccinated mothers can confer immunity to their babies. This facet of immunity is critical at protect all newborns during their most vulnerable first months and years of life.

Consider this, immunity passed to infants for chicken pox dies with my generation.

Consider this, this vertical immunity to measles and mumps died with my mother’s generation.

Now, a vaccinated mother will give birth to a child who will be susceptible to these infections when, prior to vaccines, they would normally have been immune…

For me, this stage was huge– learning about the immune system will probably something I will be doing for the rest of my life. It’s simple, yet the most complex subject I’ve ever read about (even more complex the quantum theory – yet it mirrors common facets of the subject which is really interesting).

I feel with this stage came an abundance of trust in my daughter’s (and my) body and huge responsibility in providing her with healthy nourishment. It has seemed to click in line with every other aspect of my holistic outlook to health and medicine as well.   
If you are currently on the hunt to learn more about our national vaccine campaign -I hope reading this lets you know that you are not alone. I also hope that the overwhelming feeling of ‘information overload’ doesn’t deter you from learning more.

“To prevent disease, we must create health.”


[1] Mark Friedberg et all. Evaluation of conflict of interest in economic analyses of new drugs used in oncology. JAMA. Vol 282, No 15. Oct 1999

[2] Joel Lexchin. Lisa Bero. Ben Djulbegovic. Otavio Clark. Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review. BMJ. 326:1167. May 2003.

[3] J P Orlowski. L Wateska. The effects of pharmaceutical firm enticements on physician prescribing patterns. Chest Journal. 102(1): 270-273. 1992.

[4] ICMJE Forms. Annals of Internal Medicine. American
of Physicans. 2012

[5]Mark Cicero. Michael Curi. Mark Mercurio. Ethics for the pediatrician: physician interaction with the pharmaceutical industry. Pediatrics. Vol 32. No 1. Jan 2011.

Breastfeeding Toddlers - Why it's Not Entirely Insane

Due to the insurmountable research about the benefits of nursing, more and more women are breastfeeding their babes (*clap*clap* - way to go mamas!) … which also means more women are also considering breastfeeding past the glass ceiling age of 6 months – and, even better, 12 months! 

So what’s the deal with moms breastfeeding those little mobile monsters (aka toddlers)?

Well, science affirms it is remarkable, beneficial, and one-of-a kind…. not to mention it is plain commonsense.

Pure Convenience

It’s free.

No bottle - no sippy cup needed.

Plus, it’s pretty tricky for your little one to spill breast milk while nursing (although it can happen > > squeeze < < ).

I don’t have to warm it or tote around an ice pack.

Oh! And I don’t have to clean anything – reason enough.

Less cleaning is good.

In the middle of the night, it is a glorious blessing from all that is heavenly…sometimes, I think of mothers who have toddlers that DO NOT nurse and I consider that I might have it monumentally easier at night and during naptime.

Amen for nursing toddlers.

It’s Normal and Recommended

Well, duh.

Ok, it’s not the norm thing to do here… in the States I mean…well, I’m sure it was at one point in time, but not anymore – not yet.

Betcha this woman breastfed AND she was packing heat.
Now that's one  bass-ass mama

 Given the proven advantages of extended breastfeeding – one could ask: how can this not be considered normal?

No scientific data exists stating that human beings were ever intended to nurse for any less than two years. UNICEF and WHO officially encourage breastfeeding till the age of 2 – while the AAP persuades mothers for at the very least one year. 

If you look at the science behind determining the natural age of weaning by using age by birth weight –the natural weaning age would be approximately 25 months in humans.

Silly humans.

Toast to a Mother’s Health 

When mamas choose not to nurse there is an innumerable amount of significant consequences to their health.

Benefits of breastfeeding for just a short amount of time are largely significant – however, when you calculate nursing for an extended amount of time (12 months or more) the benefits are only compounded.


Get this – the longer a mom nurses the less likely she is at risk of type 2 diabetes (regardless of BMI). Since diabetes runs in my family – this one was a good motivator to nurse into toddler-hood.

Another mammoth reason: cancer.

For every 12 months a mama breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer decreases – if you have a mother or sister who had breast cancer: moms who breastfed had about 60 percent less risk.

Now that is prevention.

Mini Vacation

If you have read my blog for any amount of time you may very well know that I had severe anxiety problems for several years of my young adult life (severe indicating random panic attacks, avoidance of social situations, sleep problems and physical symptoms).

Although I conquered the majority of these issues prior to becoming a mother, I make it a priority in my life to consistently be mindful and aware of my thoughts, emotions and feelings – to circumvent any possible future relapses.

Breastfeeding is a powerful anti-anxiety ritual.

As you might know, the hormones released during nursing are very distinct in their purpose.  The neurotransmitter oxytocin decreases blood pressure, heart rate and aggression – promoting calm behavior (and of course bonding). It has also been shown to lower the activity in the amygdale (which is overactive in social phobics) and diminishes fears that we may hold. 

Don't be scared Dorothy.

If you think once you stop breastfeeding this benefits stops – then you would be wrong! Research now confirms that moms who breastfeed over a long period of time get really good at releasing oxytocin at stressful other times throughout their day which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and alleviates stress and anxiety.

How amazing is that?!

Fitting into size 8

You see it on TV, a woman gives birth and they are automatically back into their pre-mommy clothes.

Ha – yeah right.

Nursing is amazing at helping new mamas lose weight, fast – and extended breastfeeding helps maintain and keep it off.

Did you know that women who choose not to breastfeed have, on average, nearly 8 centimeters of fat around their waists?

Yeah, 'cause I'm this happy to do sit-ups.
Breastfeeding = less sit-ups.

I actually weigh less then I did before I got pregnant the first time.


Periods Suck. Period.

Another neat thing? Prolactin is another one of those miraculous horomones released during nursing.

Prolactin inhibits ovulation. (Hooray!)

I don’t think any woman considers getting her period extraordinary news. Over the last 4 years (and two daughters), I had to deal with my period twice.



Weapons of Mass Destruction

You wanna talk about some serious nutrition and immune support – then nursing into toddlerhood is what you’ve been searching for.

So many moms out there hunt for supplements, vitamins, remedies and medicine that will help there exploring and fearless toddlers stay healthy.

Hello? You got it all mama. (plus its free – see first reason again)

Not only does breastmilk improve health and even IQ, but the benefits of nursing appear to linger for years after nursing stops. Breastfeeding lowers the incidence of asthma and obesity and even increases brain development. 

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Lasting brain power!

Research also confirms that the energy and fat content of breast milk increase after the first year.

Hecks yeah.

The big whammy? Breastmilk fosters colonies of microbiotic flora in the intestinal tract that help with nutrient absorption along with immune development. 

My little Charlotte @ 14 months 

The science of it - your milk contains immunoglobulin (IgA) which coats the lining of your little one’s intestines. This prevents germs from penetrating – thousands of antiviral, anti-parasitic and antibacterial factors protect your little one from hundreds of infections and even juvenile cancers.

This stuff really is amazing – even at 12 months and beyond!


Steinkraus, Kyla. “Extend Breastfeeding's Benefits” Mothering Magazine, Issue 144, 2007

Duke Medicine News and Communications. Breast Milk Promotes a Different Gut Flora Growth Than Infant Formula. Duke Heath Website (accessed 2012)

Kellymom Parenting & Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Past Infancy: Reference Page:

Katherine Harmon. How Breastfeeding Benefits Mothers’ Heath. Scientific American. Apr 2010

Juniper Russo. Natural Weaning Age: Science of Extended Breastfeeding. Feb 2009