Being mindful doesn’t mean you always have good days. It means when things are rough, you remember to breathe because you’ve practiced it. And when tears come, you don’t judge them. You just be with your feelings in the moment, notice your thoughts, tell yourself you are not the same as them, and call on wisdom you’ve read or heard or cultivated on your yoga mat. This can still look messy, don’t get me wrong. But as long as there is openness to believing there is something to be gained, even from pain, there is possibility. Even though I got there late, I found inspiration at the Achieving Optimal Health Conference.
Spring is always full of great events. This May, join me at events where other women and I will be sharing our experiences as mothers, healers and creative individuals. Read More
The BirthKeeper movement was created to use the power of individuals and organizations to create a platform in which to improve the beginning of life for human beings. The inaugural gathering took place in 2015, and organizers are bringing the movement this spring to Washington, DC with a series of events May 14-16 happening in conjunction with the Annual Clinical Meeting of ACOG, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Read More
It’s easy to tell from the cold morning temps that winter is on its way. With the end of Daylight Savings Time November 1, the days will be feeling a lot shorter. So even though the leaves are still gorgeously colorful here in Metro DC, it’s time to start thinking ahead to winter.
We here at Mindful Healthy Life are putting together a list of Winter Activities to appeal to healthy- and natural-minded families. Post outdoor activities, nature craft workshops, healthy living talks and demos and conferences in our calendar. Once they are there, we will add them to our compilation, and we just might share them on our Facebook page, too! If you have a list of a bunch of events, you can also send them to us so we can add them easily to our compilation.
As holidays and the New Year approach, we also want to promote local and sustainable companies in our first Green & Healthy Gift Guide. Send us your suggestions for locally-sourced food, skincare, eco-art, toys, clothing and other green-minded or health-promoting — or healthfully delicious! — goodies to info (at) mindfulhealthylife (dot) com by November 24 or reach out to us via Facebook.
The Grow Your Health gardening, food & wellness festival seemed so important when it first launched in 2013, I left a yoga retreat early to make it back in time! I learned a ton that year and the following and am excited to return for next Saturday, March 28, for a third year. The featured film this year is GMO OMG.
In addition to all the great hour-long classes that parents might enjoy at 11:00 and 1:30, families can enjoy a “Gardening with Kids” class given by national volunteer organization FoodCorps during both sessions.
The winter solstice is coming on Sunday, December 21, and there are lots of great opportunities for reflection. So many that we haven’t even had a chance to put them all in our calendar yet!
So here’s a quick compilation of solstice and winter events. Be sure to follow the links for information on prices and registration. Most of these events are not free.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Yoga Nidra: Relax and Renew at lil omm yoga in NW DC, 6:15-7:45 p.m.
Winter Solstice Hike at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, VA, 3:00-4:15 p.m.
Winter Solstice Shakti Flow with Jeneen Piccuro at Local Motion Studio in Alexandria, VA, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Note – this class has been canceled. Look for it to run in January!
Winter Solstice Celebration (ages 3 and up) at Locust Grove Nature Center, Bethesda, MD, 4-6 p.m.
Winter Solstice Celebration at Brookside Nature Center in Silver Spring, MD, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Winter Solstice Yoga class for donations to ASPAN, Sun & Moon Yoga, Arlington, VA, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Note that the Fairfax County Solstice Event for Sunday was canceled due to low numbers, but there will be some discussion of the solstice at the Friday, December 19 Wintertime Warmth Campfire at 7:00 p.m.
Other ways to welcome winter:
Host a Solstice Party of your own. You could do crafts related to dark and light, make special snacks, sing songs about cold or about sun, do things by candlelight.
Read books like Winter, Awake!, The Winter Solstice, and Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice, or make up stories in the wordless Gerda Muller Winter board book.
December 28: Warm Up to Winter Dance Party, lil omm yoga, 6:30-7:45 p.m.
December 31: Family New Years Eve party at lil omm yoga, 4:00-5:00 p.m. for ages 0-3, 5:30-7:00 p.m. for ages 3 and up.
And of course, for more winter fun beyond the solstice, consult all the other great websites that feature lists of children’s activities around the DC area. Scroll to the bottom of our Around DC page for all the ones we know about.
There may be a lot of fall festivals and holiday bazaars, but there’s nothing quite like an event at a Waldorf school. Even the classrooms — with their soothing pastel colors, soft light and natural materials — make you feel like you just curled up with a candle and a cozy blanket.
But then there are the activities that fill those homey rooms. Potomac Crescent Waldorf School in Arlington recently held its Fall Festival, the last at its home near Crystal City before the school begins a 10-year lease at Fairlington Presbyterian in Alexandria in 2015. Despite the chilly weather, there were plenty of children enjoying the marble run and other outdoor fun, including a visit with a blacksmith. Inside children enjoyed crafts with wool, leaves and silk.
And oh, the puppet shows. Waldorf schools may be the one place where art is so sacred that no one is going to snap a photo during a marionette show or a puppet play. It’s like against a silent code that you’re only allowed to pay attention to what is in front of you and to hold it in your head — not on a screen — for eternity. So I have n o image, but trust me, these performances are truly magical – slow, patient, pentatonic, and dreamy. If you’ve ever doubted the ability of children to sit still if something is not blinking and buzzing at them, see one of these shows for yourself and become a believer.
This Saturday you’ll have the chance at the Washington Waldorf School annual Fall Bazaar, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Celebrating 45 years of educating children in pre-K through high school, the Bethesda-based school puts on an amazing event with a wide variety of crafts and activities for children as well as vendors and artisans. Click here for a full listing of the offerings, which include a children’s shop where little ones can purchase treasures for others using tickets.
Tickets for activities ($1 each, activities vary in number of tickets) are available at three locations throughout the school in addition to at the main entrance. However, tickets for the puppet plays are only available outside on a first-come, first-served basis. “The Magic Gourd” is geared toward children ages 4-8 and will be performed in the library at 10:30 and 11:15 a.m. “Mouth Finds His Winter Home” is for children aged 2-3 and will be performed at 12:00 and 12:45 p.m. Tickets sell out, so be sure to arrive early to get yours.
Click here for a map of the day’s activities. The school even has a newsletter with reflections by bazaar contributors and organizers. New this year this year is a woodworking room and the making of thumb pianos with the help of NeighborWood‘s Bill Merkel.
Also debuting is a vendor preview night on Friday, 7:00-9:00 p.m. so you can shop without children in tow! The array of artisans is always impressive and includes vendors selling beeswax candles, ornaments, textiles, jewelry, wooden toys and art, and much more. You could really spend all day there and never take your child to a single activity. So instead, go Friday night! Tickets are limited and cost $10.
On Saturday, refreshments will be available in the Snack Shop 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Bistro Café and Patisserie 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be coffee in the auditorium for the whole 10-3 event.
The school even produced a video to showcase the event and let you know what to expect. Enjoy!
Washington Waldorf school photos courtesy of the school.
When the Freedom for Family Wellness Summit came to town in 2010, it was an impressive gathering, to say the least! For anyone interested in health and wellness, and especially the connection between healthy birth and future health or between a sound physical structure and optimal energetic wellness, this conference is not to be missed. The event is the third of its kind organized by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), which runs 150 seminars a year for 4000 members and publishes the Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, reaching an audience of some 35,000.
I attended the 2010 summit with my two-month-old daughter, who had been born at home (a home VBAC, or HBAC) four years after her brother had been born via c-section. I had my mind blown by the summit speakers, and while I was staffing the Holistic Moms Network table, I got to talk with midwife extraordinaire Ina May Gaskin, who was at the table next to us with Safe Motherhood Quilt project and who also got her first chiropractic adjustment at the event!
The HMN table was also right behind the table of Dr. Jennifer Mercier whose knowledge about women’s pelvic pain helped me to understand that it was my c-section scar that was causing me discomfort since my daughter’s vaginal birth.
I’m excited to go back this year to the large gathering for lots of reasons (including to watch Dr. Jennifer’s new movie about fertility, which I hear she will be screening at her exhibit hall booth), and I hope to to cover at least a slice of what I learn this weekend to share here.
But with more than 30 speakers and 50 exhibitors, the possibilities are endless. If you’re into family wellness, this is a stellar conference to attend! There’s no telling when or if an event of this magnitude will return. Ina May is coming back this year and is joined by numerous other speakers including Business of Baby author Jennifer Margulis, Karen Brody, author of Birth the play and founder of the BOLD method, and Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology and Genetic Roulette.
I had a chance to speak with ICPA Executive Director Dr. Jeanne Ohm who referenced the event’s subtitle: “Celebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice.” She said she senses a powerful shift of people wanting to reclaim their right to informed choice, and she hopes the event will empower parents and practitioners to believe that we have the right to make informed choices for our children.
A chiropractor, Dr. Ohm says the event promotes respect: “Whatever you want is what’s best for you and your family,” she says. When parents approach her unsure what to do about a medical decision, she tells them that a state of fear is not the place from which a parent should make any choice. She recommends you ask yourself what resonates with your highest core value.”
And she also recommends having a respect and trust for the intelligence of life. She’s written about the paradigm called “vitalism,” which she wants to describe now simply as “life is intelligent.” She referenced a saying of Einstein’s that the most important decision we’re going to make is whether we live in a hostile universe or a friendly one. “It’s a friendly universe when you trust that the universe knows what it’s doing,” Dr. Ohm says. “If you think your body doesn’t know what it’s doing, you live in fear. When you believe it’s friendly, you can let go and enjoy life a little more.”
The purpose of the event is to bring together groups of people who are all saying the same thing but from different perspectives, that of holistic practitioners, psychologists, parents, educators, and more. “In chiropractic,” Dr. Ohm says, “we call it the above down inside out lifestyle. There is intelligence inherent in all of us. So respect the child and let her educate herself, respect the body in birth instead of trying to regulate and control it, respect the body that it will do the right thing rather than subject it to unnecessary intervention.”
What this weekend is about, she says, is that there is a sense of order and intelligence in life, and how can we respond accordingly in our personal choices. See registration information here.
See this full roster of speakers and the complete schedule of the event that opens Thursday, November 13 and runs through Sunday, November 16 at the Hyatt Regency Reston. In addition to these presentations will be a packed exhibit hall with practitioners, businesses, organizations and authors. See this list of sponsors and exhibitors.
Exhibitors include the following:
- Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH)
- Biomat Network
- Birth Boot Camp
- Birthworks International
- Information Medicine
- Books Institute for Neural Freedom
- Chiro Ink
- Chiropractic Leadership Alliance
- DOTERRA Essential Oils
- Dr. Kate Engelhardt/ Bennie Gets Adjusted – A Chiropractic Story
- Educated Pregnancy
- Elizabeth Eyre Seltzer Designs
- Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation
- Full Circle Coaching & Co
- Holistic Moms Network
- International Chiropractic Pediatric Association
- International Federation of Chiropractors & Organizations (IFCO)
- League of Chiropractic Women
- Life Chiropractic College West
- Life University
- Love Your Body
- Makin’ Miracles
- Marialuchsinger.com – Sammy the Centipede Books
- McCoy Press
- Med-Chem Labs, Inc. (Lauricidin)
- Mercier Therapy
- National Vaccine Information Center
- OptiMOM Coaching
- Palmercare Chiropractic
- Pathways to Family Wellness Magazine
- Serola Biomechanics
- Sherman College of Chiropractic
- Smart Health, Inc.
- The BOLD Method
- White Light Media (Happy Healthy Child)
- Whole-Listic Children’s Foundation
- Wuji Firgrove
- Young Living Essential Oils-Lemon Dropper
- Wellesley Chiropractic Office
Also exhibiting are One More Page Books and authors: Maria Gavriel, Tara Gesling, Kathleen DiChiara and Nydia Kastra.
Photo credits (except Dr. Mercier demonstrating pelvic self-assessment): Christine Zichittella-Heeren.
Disclosure: I’ve been offered a complimentary press pass to attend this event.
Different diets work for different people, but there is certainly a growing interest in grain-free eating these days, especially for issues related to inflammation and autoimmune conditions. I remember thinking that a cookbook for gluten-free kids sounded like a great idea when I first saw something about Eat Like a Dinosaur shortly after it was released in 2012. Since then, authors Stacy Toth and Matt McCarry, the Northern Virginia-based couple behind PaleoParents.com, have become rock stars in the health and wellness community and the Paleo world. Their personal story of transformation is incredibly inspiring.
Eat Like a Dinosaur is a cheery delight with a story about kids who feel better when they change their diet, family-friendly recipes, and everything you need to get started on a life without gluten.
Beyond Bacon shows just how much diversity there is to be found in cooking with pastured pigs. The photography is beautiful, and in addition to the amazing recipes, it really lays out a vision for sustainable farming and eating.
I am humbled to note that in the time it has taken me to execute on this Mindful Healthy Life concept I had when Beyond Bacon was released in the summer of 2013, Stacy — a mom of three with a full-time job — has done a bunch of speaking (including to the Arlington/Alexandria Holistic Moms chapter in December 2013) and won the title of NOVA’s Strongest Woman, and she and her husband Matt McCarry have penned a third book, Real Life Paleo.
I can’t wait to get my hands on Real Life Paleo on Sunday at the Take Back Your Health Conference and will do a giveaway on the new book at some point down the line, probably with a recap of the conference talk. But for now, I wouldn’t want to stop you from ordering your own copy or buying one in person! Every writer knows how important early sales are. So the winner of the giveaway can get started with the first two Paleo Parents books, Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon.
Meet Stacy this weekend at the TBYH conference. Sunday morning, November 2, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne of ThePaleoMom.com (author of The Paleo Approach) speaks at 9:00 about using diet to manage immune and autoimmune diseases, Stacy Toth speaks at 11:00 about a three-phased approach to going Paleo, and there’s a panel at 12 noon with both women and two doctors (click here for the full schedule).
If that’s not enough for you, check out the Real Life Paleo book release event on November 4 at the Barnes & Noble in Bethesda. We have to be out of town and would love to hear how the Election Day event goes!
Stacy and Matt write in their newsletter of the November 4 event that they will be signing books and giving out door prize packs valued at over $300 each featuring some of their favorite vendors: Pure Indian Ghee, Paleo Treats, Exo Protein Bars, and treats made by Out of the Box Bakery from the book. Let them know you’re coming by RSVPing to Eventbrite at bit.ly/RLPreleaseparty or to via Meetup at the Paleo Parents & Friends group. More info on the whole U.S. book tour for Real Life Paleo is at http://TVPBookTour.bit.ly/
Also through the Paleo Friends Meetup group is Stacy and Matt’s annual costumed no-candy Halloween party on November 1, which this year features Sarah Ballantyne as special guest at the Toth/McCarry Northern Virginia home. If you are not nearly-concurrently on a soccer field, at a birthday party or at a housewarming like me on Saturday, get yourself into the group to RSVP for this not-to-be-missed event.
We’ll run this giveaway of the Paleo Parents’ first two books for a full week, concluding on Friday, November 8.
To hear Takoma Park mom and strategic consultant Grace Ogden talk about attending a kirtan with Jai Uttal, one gets the impression that not taking your child would be like shielding her from a rainbow.
A kirtan is a participatory music event that can simultaneously calm and energize the spirit. The experience of chanting, usually in Sanskrit, is aimed to be a healing one, helping participants connect to their heart and more generally to a shared vibration and bigger sense of spirit. A father himself, Jai has a joyful spirit, Grace says, that creates an inclusive and loving vibe for the musical chant-dance experience.
On Thursday, October 23, Grace’s event-planning firm, Grace Productions, is partnering with BuddhaFest to bring Jai Uttal and mantra performer Gaura Vani to the Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere in Rosslyn, Arlington. The event runs from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m.
Grace says that a kirtan typically becomes more energetic toward the end, like most any concert, but that it’s completely normal for people to leave when they need to. She’s seen children come to kirtans in pajamas if they have a long drive home. Children under age five get in free. Tickets for children ages six to seventeen are $10, and adult tickets are $30, but Grace emphasizes that the event welcomes everyone and that no one will be turned away.
Grace has brought Jai to DC twice before, once for an evening performance suitable for all ages and in November 2013 for two events, including a Kids Kirtan geared to young children. Jai includes children’s voices in his Kirtan Kids CD, and DC-area parents wanted a child-focused event that would include the funny stories about Hanuman. Stories about the mischievous monkey help children connect with their understanding of themselves.
When Jai performs for a mixed-age crowd, he begins the show by inviting children to come to the front where they can dance, usually layering themselves naturally with little children closest to the stage and the taller ones in back.
For those who have never attended a kirtan, Grace says not to worry if you’re not familiar with Hindu traditions or Sanskrit words. The music, she says, “lights up the heart, connects us universal qualities that are present in all of life. It’s just like singing about the sun or the moon or a radiant flower.” The chants evoke feelings of “joy, beauty, safety, love, healing, forgiveness, and inspiration,” Grace says, adding that Jai has a “natural awareness of and connection to children’s energy.” Being so loving and respectful of children and approaching his work with such joy helps children feel at ease participating in the experience, which is not a quiet one. In fact, it’s loud and interactive, Grace emphasizes. Jai studied in India and was led on a spiritual path that includes concerts and retreats, but he also is a Grammy-nominated artist with a varied background in jazz and many forms of world music.
At the kids’ kirtan, Grace’s daughter, Julia, aged 11, hung back as one of the older children in the crowd. But at the all-ages evening event like the one happening Thursday, Julia “danced her sweet self into a state of bliss.” It was exciting for a child to see talented musicians so happy to play to her, just six or eight feet away in a very immediate experience unlike most concerts. Julia was “seen and touched in her heart and inspired” to be invited into participation, Grace says, adding of watching all children at a Jai kirtan: “I love that they are awakened into the light of music.”
Grace says that Jai’s performances inspire joy. “It’s hard to just get joy straight off” in the midst of our complicated and stressful lives, she says, so Thursday’s kirtan is just the ticket if you’re looking to be in a space of joy with your children.
To see a video of last year’s Kids Kirtan in Silver Spring, see the Willow Street Yoga Facebook page.
Photo credit: Christine Alicino
Disclosure: I was offered free admission for my family to attend this event.
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