Spreading JOY through Balance

Seasons Greetings!

What is your best holiday memory from when you were a kid?  My guess is that it had something to do with a family or spiritual gathering, a holiday gesture of love and giving or a Christmas morning blanketed with fresh snow.  It probably wasn’t a beautifully decorated house, a perfectly shaped Christmas tree or the best set table. So WHY do we torture ourselves with the details and chaos of the holiday season? Why do we eat and drink too much, sleep too little and put our health and well being at the bottom of our “to do” list?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course we want things to be welcoming and festive, but in doing so, we lose the joy and meaning of the season. We stray so far from the present moment trying to create the “perfect moment” that we lose not only the “moment”, but the whole season.  We run ourselves so ragged and neglect healthy habits that we start to dread the next fun party and the way we are going to feel on January 1st!

One of my best memories from when my kids were little was the year that my then was unemployed over the holidays. We made a very conscience decision to scale WAY back on all material aspects of the holiday.  We did get a tree and used the decorations that we saved from season to season, but cut out our normal holiday decor budget and didn’t send out a card We decided not to exchange gifts with each other, siblings, parents and friends and just got a couple of special things for our girls. Because we had scaled back so much, we actually had the time and energy to really enjoy the season!  I think it was the first time we were not stressed around Christmas, grateful for the little things that make the season so special and so much more mindful for how lucky we really were. We had our health, our family and our homeso much more than many less fortunate souls.

So this year, as we move through the season, try to step back and enjoy the little moments that make this season so magical. Take a moment to hold the door for a stranger, smile at someone who is clearly having a bad day or give generously to someone less fortunate than yourself. These moments that make up our lives move by so quickly, what do you want to remember about the 2014 holidays?
Wishing you the many joys of the season!

Shannon’s recipe for Emperor’s bowl: Forbidden Salad


The concept behind this dish was first presented to me by Marilyn Diamond who co- wrote Fit For Life which was originally published in 1985. The concepts taught in the book are timeless and excellent tools for creating excellent health and a balanced body weight.

This dish is a hearty end of summer “Main Course Salad” style of dish.
It’s quick, easy and adaptable depending on taste and available ingredients. It’s similar to a Buddha Bowl type of meal but greener, more nutrient dense, digests easily and fits well into a high-raw diet which I find works best for energy and well being for most people.

1 cup heirloom forbidden rice 1 3/4 cups water
1 pinch Himalayan pink salt

Bring the ingredients to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes.

3 carrots diced
1 medium beet diced
1 stalk (tops and peeled stem) broccoli chopped

Lightly steam the carrots and beets for 3 minutes. Toss the broccoli into the steamer and steam an additional 2 minutes.


6-10 leaves of kale stem removed up to leaf, chopped lengthwise
Corn from 1 cob, decobbed (To do this safely snap the ear in 1/2 and trim the corn from the cob with the 1/2 cob standing upright.)
2 cups sunflower or pea sprouts chopped
1 small zucchini grated
3 stalks celery sliced thin horizontally.
1 red onion quartered and sliced thin


3/4 cup raw, sprouted or tamari almonds chopped or sliced 1/2 cup lightly soaked sun-dried tomatoes sliced 1avocado, pitted and sliced for garnish


1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. tamari or Braggs (optional)
4 Tbsp. raw honey
1″ peeled ginger (if not using a high speed blender chop the ginger) 1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste


While rice is cooking prepare raw veggies, add optional additions and prepare dressing. When rice is done steam the steamed veggies. When veggies are done add rice, steamed veggies and dressing to the raw veggies. (Optionally steam the veggies at the beginning of rice prep and allow to cool to room temp.)

Toss everything together and serve in bountiful bowls, garnished with avocado slices. As this is a properly combined meal you may eat until your heart’s content and you will digest and assimilate the food with ease.

Bon appétit!

Season of Gratitude

As we  approach this season of gratitude, I ofter reflect upon my life and the special people who surround and help to shape the person that I am. I often catch myself getting caught up in the little things that shape our days and overlook the bigger picture. It is so easy to get mired in the day to day stress of our lives and overlook the many blessings that we have to be grateful for. The weather is too hot, too cold, too windy or rainy.  My knee hurts, my tooth hurts, I have an annoying hangnail! Sometimes the work piles up, we get lazy and/or loose our sense of perspective. It is times like these that I take to my mat…sometimes it’s a 6am yoga class, a killer Pilates class or a jaw clenching barre class.  Sometimes, not as often as I would like, it’s 20 minutes of meditation that grounds me brings me back to balance.IMG_8594cropsmall
Lately, it seems that I am inspired by those around me who have born so much stress, loss and heartache yet still inspire others around them with their strength. Life is the thing that happens to us on a daily basis, the good, the bad and the ugly.  It is what helps to shape us, strengthen us or it leave us in the dust.  It is up to each and every one of us to take it on with the best that we have to give, to inspire, to encourage, to support those in need and those who need us.
It sounds so trite to say, “Be grateful for the little things.” However, the little things in life are the things that make us smile, laugh and help to shape kindness and caring. A small gesture of thanks or appreciate can change a person’s day. A smile, a thank you or a thoughtful note can cause a long lasting chain of positive effects that can reach out exponentially.
So when life gets out of hand, try to think about this poem that a friend shared with me:
Kiss your life.  Accept it.
just as it is.
Today. Now.
So that these moments
of happiness you’re
waiting for don’t pass you by.
Blessings of the season!

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