Silver Lining

The Magic of this Pandemic

“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.”
​- Laurie Halse Anderson
​The entire modern world is at a standstill.

Streets are empty.
Playgrounds are eerily quiet.
Music venues are silent.
Sport fields are barren.
Going out in public is a risky adventure.

Birds chirp.
Deer roam.
Alarm clocks are unset.
Dogs enjoy company all day.
Neighbors help neighbors.

Hitting a collective pause button has never happened in our lifetimes. It was inconceivable.

So much was lost when we hit the pause button. Big games, weddings, birthday parties, family vacations, grand openings, anniversary celebrations, graduations, baby showers and countless other special occasions.

When external activities disappear from our calendars, what’s left? What are the side-effects of this crisis?

  • Long phone calls talking about nothing & everything.
  • Sunsets glowing over families at a dinner table filled with odds & ends.​
  • Forgetting what day of the week it is.
  • Discovering new hobbies.
  • Finding solace in music.
  • Rekindling old pastimes.
  • Neighborhood walks.
  • Growing food.
  • Supporting a struggling small business with an order.
  • Watching old TV shows.
  • Stargazing.

In the midst of a pandemic that has disrupted our daily lives, this is where the magic resides.

We can choose to focus on the moments that matter.

We can embrace the surprising side-effects of our lives on hold. We can graciously accept that aspects of our former lives will undergo a transformation beyond our control. We can linger in the unknowing of when our new normal might begin. This pandemic will pass.  We will all have new beginnings. There is no going back.

Embrace the magic because we’ll never have this time again.

Sunset on the beach

Why I Disappear For 4 Days, 4 Times a Year

Where pink clouds meet blue water…4 times a year, I disappear for 4 days to visit this lake to experience a symphony of silence, solitude, introspection & inspiration.

While it’s technically a self-led spiritual retreat, I affectionately call it “Mom Camp” because that phrase makes sense to my four-year-old. The truth is coming here makes me a better mother, wife, friend, doctor & human.

Every trip here is a different experience. The only constant is I’m always transformed by the time I get home.

I highly recommend finding your own version of Mom Camp. Because once you find it, you will never be the same.

Healing Food: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This is one of my family’s favorite soups. It’s easy to make and every bite is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals that are soothing to the digestive system. It’s the perfect soup to eat when recovering from an illness or surgery.

I serve it blended and creamy, not chunky. It’s a meal in itself or a filling side dish.

Butternut Squash Soup
1 large organic butternut squash (Costco has pre-packaged cubes)
1 sweet onion
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
Handful of baby carrots, sliced or ribboned
1 box of organic chicken bone broth
1 can of organic full-fat coconut milk
1/8th teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sea salt and pepper
Organic extra virgin olive oil.

Have all of your ingredients? Let’s do this!

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (I use a toaster oven)
  2. Place the squash cubes and carrots in a large bowl and toss to coat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper.
  3. Line baking dish or rimmed tray with parchment paper. Spread the squash and carrots evenly across the tray. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are soft.
  4. Coat bottom of large soup pot with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and place on medium heat.
  5. Slice onion and add to soup pot. Saute onion until soft and season with salt and pepper.
  6. At medium heat, add garlic to onions and stir until the garlic is light brown.
  7. Dump in your tray of roasted squash and carrots.
  8. Add about 2 cups of the bone broth, stir everything, and bring to simmer (medium-high heat).
  9. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Add more broth if the vegetables are not coated.
  10. Remove pot from heat and blend the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or transfer the (Caution: Hot!) soup to a heavy-duty blender (Vitamix, Ninja, etc).
  11. Once blended and smooth, bring the soup pot back to simmering heat.
  12. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg (about 1/8th teaspoon) to the soup and stir it in.
  13. Slowly stir in coconut milk to your desired soup consistency. We like our soups to be more hearty, less watery, so I typically add about 1/4 cup of coconut milk or less.
  14. Turn off the heat, take a taste and season with more sea salt and pepper if needed.

That’s it! You’ve made a delicious, healthy soup that nourishes the Lungs, Kidneys, and Stomach! It keeps in the refrigerator for about 3 days in an airtight container.

Another tip: To make an easy one-pot dinner, add chunks of rotisserie chicken to the finished soup.

3 Things to Know About Vitamins & Supplements

  • Did you take a vitamin or supplement today? 
  • Where did it come from?
  • Are you sure you know what was in it?

It can be tempting to use the internet (eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, etc.) to save a few bucks on vitamins & supplements. The capsules & pills look the same so they must be the same, right? Absolutely not!

There are 3 things to know before you pop pills purchased on the internet:

  1. They may be fake: not contain any of the advertised ingredient
  2. They may be expired: old products repackaged as new
  3. They may be contaminated: unsafe handling leading to contamination or blatant tampering with ingredients

2013 research study used DNA analysis to identify the ingredients of 44 herbal supplements and 1 out of 3 of the supplements did not contain the advertised main ingredient! The supplements tested were brands available for purchase in supermarkets, health food stores, and pharmacies in Canada and the US.

2015 investigation by the Attorney General of New York found 4 out of 5 supplements purchased off the shelf from big box stores did not contain the advertised ingredient and even worse contained substances like sawdust, powdered vegetables, wheat, rice, and even powdered houseplants!

I urge all of my patients, family and friends to purchase vitamins and supplements from trusted sources. My definition of a trusted source is a seller that you can contact easily and will accept returns of a questionable product (i.e. safety seal broken, unusual odor/color/taste, unusual reaction to taking the supplement).  Licensed healthcare practitioners often carry high-quality brands that are not available for public sale… these are the brands I trust for my own family.

Know this: High-quality vitamins & supplements always cost more because they contain high-quality, verifiable real ingredients without cheap fillers.

You may think popping vitamins & supplements everyday will improve your health, but if they are counterfeit, fake, mislabeled, expired, or contaminated they are most likely causing harm to you now and damaging your long-term health.

Confession: The Biggest Mistake I Made About My Health

I’ve always had “problem” skin. Red, painful cystic pustule acne plagued me until my late 20s. After years of anti-acne face washes, toners, topical antibiotics and astringent creams, I had it under control enough to hide my problem areas with just a little concealer.

When I was in my early 30’s, my acne changed from cystic to a plethora of small red papules on my forehead, cheeks, and chin. My dermatologist prescribed retinols and steroidal creams to reduce the inflammation. They worked a little, but my skin was still red, irritated, and bumpy. The texture of it made me very self-conscious as there’s no way to hide bumps with everyday makeup!

At the same time, in my early 30’s, I started waking up in the middle of the night like clockwork. It was always 1am when severe abdominal cramps roused me from sleep. Dripping with sweat, I would sit in the bathroom not pooping or passing gas, but just breathing and waiting for the pain to pass. The cramping would usually stop within 20 minutes.

After a few weeks, I made an appointment with my primary care physician. She ordered a CT scan of my pelvis, which revealed nothing. She recommended taking an osmotic laxative once a day to ensure the cramping wasn’t caused by constipation (full disclosure: it wasn’t).

Flash forward another two years, and I was in my first year of graduate school for Chinese Medicine. I was receiving almost daily acupuncture treatments from my teachers and classmates. My chief complaint was chronic acne.

One of my teachers observed out loud in class that the redness and papules on my face provided a visual map of the Stomach meridian. That’s when a light bulb went on in my brain that illuminated everything… food was the cause of it!

I quickly purchased a copy of Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet and devoured it in one day. The next day, I purged all processed foods and gluten from our family’s kitchen and started the Paleo lifestyle. As Robb recommended, I ate Paleo for 30 days.  A few amazing things happened:

  • By day 2, I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night with abdominal cramps.
  • By days 5-6, my skin was clearing up.
  • By day 7, I was thinking more clearly, almost as if a fog had lifted from my brain.
  • By Day 14, I had lost 10 pounds, but was eating more. More real food.
  • By Day 29, my entire face was clear and I knew I could never resume my old ways of eating a bowl of shredded wheat for breakfast and a sandwich on whole-wheat bread for lunch.

If you’ve read this far, then it’s time to acknowledge the biggest mistake I made about my health

My biggest mistake was not listening to my body, when it was very clearly telling what was wrong! 

If I had listened, I would have saved myself years of unnecessary pain, sleepless nights, worry, stress, and embarrassment about my appearance. And money. I would have saved a LOT of money by not trying every acne treatment program I could find.

​My so-called healthy vegetarian diet was making me sick. Really sick. I had completely ignored all of my body’s warning signs. Even worse, I hadn’t realized the root of the problem… gluten-intolerance. I had eaten gluten all of my life, so why was there suddenly a problem now?

But the truth was, there were signs all along, I just chose to ignore them or call them something else.
Like mistaking a face rash for acne.

Side note: If I eat gluten now (always by accident), I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with those terrible abdominal cramps and wear a face rash for 3-5 days.

The biggest takeaway from my story is that the human body is smart. Smarter than we typically give it credit for.  If something is wrong, physically or emotionally, it’s going to show up as what Western medicine calls a sign or symptom.

Be observant because the longer a sign or symptom is ignored, the louder(!) your body will demand your attention.

So, is your body trying to tell you something? Sometimes we all need an outside perspective to uncover the truth, the root of our health problems. Let’s work together to get to the root of solving your health mysteries.

Defend Your Qi: One Thing You Must Wear on an Airplane

Getting on an airplane soon? Defend your Qi! 

The most important thing to wear during air travel is a lightweight scarf around your neck.  Summer or winter, it doesn’t matter and here’s why…

In Chinese Medicine, the Foot Taiyang meridian descends parallel to the spine and the Governing Vessel runs up the back of the spine. Several points on these channels are located on the back of the neck.

These points are susceptible to external conditions, like Wind.

Wind, in Chinese Medicine, is a pathogen that attacks the exterior of the body. If the body’s defenses are not strong enough to deflect it, Wind will penetrate the points and can cause disease ranging from the common cold to influenza or even pneumonia.

Wearing a scarf to keep your neck covered supplements the body’s Defensive ​Qand can keep you from contracting an illness while traveling.

To further enhance immunity, add a few drops of essential oil to the scarf before wearing it. My favorites are:

  • Melaleuca (aka Tea Tree)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint

These essential oils are great choices because they smell good and have antiviral properties.

Happy travels!

​Moving the Qi with Modern Exercise

Exercise. We all need it. Getting in 10,000 steps today is better than the 9,999 steps you took yesterday.

It keeps the qi moving… in other words, it keeps life-energy circulating.

As many of you know, when it comes to health or wellness, I try something out myself before recommending it to patients/friends/family/the guy sitting next to me on the plane/everybody&anybody.

For the past 8 months, I’ve been testing Beachbody on Demand.

Now before you stop reading, I am NOT affiliated with the Beachbody corporation in any way.  I’m not a coach, I don’t get any kickbacks. I’m just a customer who works out at home in front of my computer on a daily basis.

After 6 rounds of 21 Day Fix, I’m 35 pounds lighter and a whole lot stronger. It’s absolutely true that the pounds measured on a scale is just a number. In my case, I am 35 pounds more fit and it feels great. That is why I’m sharing my experience with you.

If you’ve never heard of it, 21 Day Fix is one of many Beachbody on Demand programs. It requires moving (aka exercising) 7 days a week for 30 minutes using a combination of cardio and weights. It also has an accompanying meal plan that is simple and makes a lot of sense nutritionally.

Yesterday, to mix things up, I tried another workout called YOUv2. It was a hilariously awesome way to sweat for 30 minutes. There were spirit fingers, shimmies, and rainbow prances. Via the magic of pre-recorded video, Leandro told me I was a beautiful dancer, which I have never heard from anyone before. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling during our 30 minutes together. If you are new to exercising, this workout is a safe and fun place to start.

The most important thing you can do for your health is to stand up and get moving.

Go for a walk, let some guy from Beachbody teach you spirit fingers while performing a walking squat, take the bike out for a leisurely ride, swim some laps across the pool.

It all counts, one step at a time. 

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Looking to learn more about how to improve your life through a more holistic approach to wellness? Sign up for our newsletter.

*Any Chinese Herb and/or product mentioned on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

© 2020 Indigo Healing Acupuncture. All Rights Reserved.