My secrets for a GREAT Salad

My secrets for a GREAT Salad

Can you believe it’s Monday already? And we’re already in February!

How was your Super Bowl Sunday? I only watched the halftime show, and I thought Katy Perry and Missy Elliott did a great job. Oh, and Lenny Kravitz was great too, but I’m all about girl-power, so I really enjoyed watching two beautiful women creatively express themselves in such a strong, powerful way. What an amazing show!

And I don’t know about you, but Monday morning came too soon, eh? Although I’m not a sports fan, I was busy all day yesterday. While Greg enjoyed the game, I got some household chores done, did some self-care, and even knocked out a couple of chores in my home office. I probably overdid it with the vacuuming – my back is sore, and in big need of some massage therapy!

But still, it was a really good weekend. And now it’s Monday morning, and I’m excited to get back to work, as I’ve got some exciting projects lined up for this year.

Well, anyway, back to the purpose of this email. I wanted to disrupt your Monday with a healthy recipe. It’s similar to the ones in my 28 Day Jumpstart To a New You program.

I love to make this recipe, and this is one of my family’s all-time favorites. And guess what? It’s 100% HEALTHY, EASY and DELICIOUS!

BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE

Makes 2 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 handful frozen or fresh organic wild blueberries
    1 banana
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon hemp seeds
    1 tablespoon chia seeds
    1 pinch of cinnamon
    ½ cup to 1 cup hemp milk, almond milk, oat milk, or coconut water as your base
  • Optional: Stevia, or 1 tablespoon raw honey if you need to sweeten it. Add more water if it’s too thick.DIRECTIONS
    Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until creamy (1-2 minutes).

AND…I didn’t forget about that salad.

My Secrets for a GREAT Salad

Here’s my secrets for making a GREAT salad:

  1. The trick to making a great salad is to always use FRESH, organic ingredients when possible.
  2. If I use organic pre-rinsed salad mix, I still rinse it again 2-3 times. I’m picky like that, but do what feels right.
  3. I never use pre-washed spinach – the chlorine water gives it a gritty texture that sticks to my teeth when I chew it.
    If you prefer spinach, grab the unwashed spinach, and when you get home, put it in a bowl of water and add a splash of veggie wash. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then agitate it with your hands to loosen the dirt and sand. Do this as often as you need, until your spinach is clean. I have been known to rinse my spinach 5-6 times, if it’s really caked with mud. And I love it when my veggies still have the dirt from the ground on it, it means it came straight from the farm to my kitchen!
  4. Rinse loose leaf greens in cold filtered water and use a salad spinner to discard excess water.
  5. Place loose leaf greens in a large bowl, and drizzle it with about 1-2 Tbsp of good quality organic extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil.
  6. Add a pinch of sea salt flakes. I prefer Maldon Sea Salt.
  7. Using a large wooden spoon, stir the salad until all leaves are well coated with the olive oil.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT – NEVER SKIP THIS STEP!!!
  8. Now you’re ready to add all your other salad fixings. I like to put my salad toppings in little serving bowls, and let my family members build their own salad.

Salad Fixing Suggestions:

  • Grab olives from Whole Food’s olive bar. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with anything there, but make sure to skip the olives that aren’t pitted. Your teeth will thank you.
  • Diced cucumber (peel off the skin first).
  • Diced green apple
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced heirloom tomatoes, topped with a finishing sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, thinly sliced basil, drizzled with olive oil
  • Thinly sliced red, yellow and orange bell pepper (seeds and stem removed)
  • Orange slices (peeled, remove all seeds, pith, and skin)
  • Fresh chopped herbs like mint, basil, or cilantro
  • Chopped watermelon (goes well with mint and balsamic vinegar)
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Steamed peas, chickpeas, or black beans
  • Sliced avocado (my substitute for cheese, as I am lactose-intolerant)
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Splash of fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice

Enjoy!

 

5 Ways to Feel Like Beyonce Everyday

5 Ways to Feel Like Beyonce Everyday

Don’t let the media fool you. Not everyone needs to know what Beyonce wore to dinner last night, what brand shampoo Katy Perry washes her hair  with, and where Jennifer Lopez vacations. (Well, I might be only vaguely interested in the vacation part – wink.)  This is not valuable information when it comes to our lives, our values, our happiness, and how we feel from day to day.

If magazines, social media, and the internet were any indication of where we put our values, it would seem we’re all obsessed with the extravagant lifestyles of celebrities, or the rich and famous. I can’t remember the last time I scanned through Facebook or Pinterest, or even CNN, without some mention of a famous celebrity – who’s getting married, who’s having a baby, who’s breaking up.  What is the fascination with celebrities?  And more importantly, how does it make you feel? Do you find yourself fantasizing about how celebrities live, or do you find yourself comparing their quality of life to yours? How is comparisonitis (a fake word I just made up, for the act of constantly compare one’s self to others) working out for you?

There is a better way.

Instead of obsessing over the glamorous lifestyles of movie stars and models, and feeling like your life is shitty in comparison, try the following ideas on how to feel good about your life.  Once you incorporate this new perspective in your life repeatedly, you may even begin to feel like you’re the superstar of YOUR life, every day! Soon you’ll stop comparing your boring, drab life to celebrities, because you’ll be completely engaged in your life – you are the “Beyonce” or “Lady Gaga” of your world!

1. Clear the White Noise
Ditch the social gossip websites, unsubscribe, hide, delete, block – whatever it takes to disconnect from the white noise that feeds into the hype and lures you into comparisonitis. Stop reading gossip magazines, and instead, visit the Self-Help or Spiritual section of the bookstore. I’ve curated a selection of great books that inspire your inner Modern Goddess.

2. Identify Your Core Values
 Get clear on your core values. What is the absolute MUST HAVE for your complete happiness? What are the base requirements and nice to haves (think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs meets Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map)? Write them down, post them on a wall where you can see them every day.

Sample core values and desired feelings: abundance of money/joy/time/love, clear mind, relaxed, calm, excitement, authenticity, empowered, aligned, connected to the present, freedom, spontaneous, feminine energy, generous, gratitude. I’ll share a few of my core values:  for my complete and sheer happiness, and for me to feel like I’m a superstar of my life, I must feel immersed in beauty (I love the beach, mountains, the forest, pink and white decor, a clean home, fresh flowers, uncluttered office space), be able to luxuriate in my five senses: smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing (I play jazz music when I cook, and use fresh herbs and produce when I cook), and I also have a portion  of unstructured, spontaneous time in my day to get quiet, meditate, and tap into my 6th sense: my intuition. I give myself reiki energy healing everyday to keep my chakras clear, I use essential oils, candles, and incense to enhance my meditations experience and really dial up the intensity of indulging in sight, smell, etc.

Hint: core values isn’t something you DO, rather, is something that you FEEL or something you want to BE.
Tip: Speak them loud and clear. Make them your mantra to live by. Decide they are your birthrights, and you don’t have to earn them, you have a right to feel this way every day of your life. Expect to attract these things, places, or feelings in your life.

3. Protect and Defend
Get clear on what your core values are, and refuse to compromise them. If having 6-8 hours of sleep is an absolute requirement for your health and happiness, let nothing stop you from getting the rest you need. If you know you get cranky in noisy, crowded places, or if you’re an Empath like me, and you know certain people (I call them Energy Vampires) drain your energy, avoid them at all costs. I have certain “friends” and family that I keep at a safe perimeter of my life.

I’ve chosen to love them at a safe distance, because their energy is such an energetic drain to me, and I value having a high level of positive, high vibration energy.
Other core values might be reciprocity in relationships, trust among friends, integrity in business dealings, peace, moments of solitude for meditation. Think about how you want to feel on a day-to-day basis. What feelings are non-negotiable for your base level of happiness? Now turn up the volume on this level of happiness you’re willing to accept in your life. This could give you insight to your core values. Protect and defend these core values just like you imagine your favorite celebrity would if it were them!

4. Make Everyday Special

We feel down when we feel like we have no control to change what is our life. We feel happy when we feel empowered to change and make things better. You CAN change your life, instantly! Here’s one great way to feel empowered immediately and feel like a celebrity in your life: Don’t save the expensive perfume, wine, fresh flowers, outfits, or jewelry for certain times of the year like holidays or birthdays. Make every day special: wear your BEST outfits like today is special. Why? Because when you look great, you send your brain a message, and your brain then tells you that you FEEL GREAT. When you dress in old gym sweats, granny panties, and ugly socks, I guarantee the way you’re dressed is sending your brain mixed messages, and you won’t feel great! So Dress UP like TODAY is a SPECIAL DAY, even if no one else will see you. Rinse and repeat every day! Take time for you with a chapter of a good book, enroll in a fun class like yoga, cooking, art, break out the good china, nice tablecloth, use the special wine glasses, even for plain water. (Or make plain water special by adding fresh cut fruit or herbs like mint or basil.) Everyday, decide THIS day is special, and treat it as if it were a special day, because it is…it’s the PRESENT, a gift to you!

5. Don’t Be A Martyr

Somehow, somewhere down the road of life, something bad or even devastating happened like a bad romance, losing a friend, or death in the family, and in some way, you may have accepted pain or misery as a part of life. In some ways, this is true: pain is a part of life. A part of the human experience is to feel pain and suffering, because like TEDTalk public speaker and author Brené Brown says on Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays, pain is the best teacher. For some reason, we learn life lessons best after experiencing things we DON’T like, like a heartbreak after a romance ends, a car accident, or an embarrassing moment. But I believe we also have the power of choice, and we can CHOOSE to experience life, for the most part, through a graceful flow of ease, happiness, and joy. I believe we can also learn our life lessons without pain, that we can CHOOSE happiness over sadness. I believe emotions are a choice.

Brene says on Spirituality & Health Magazine:

“The overwhelming message in our culture today is that an ordinary life is a meaningless life unless you are grabbing a lot of attention and you have lots of Twitter followers and Facebook fans who know everything you know. I use the shame-based fear of being ordinary as my definition for narcissism. I definitely see it in younger generations, where people fear they are not big enough. No matter how happy and fulfilling their small, quiet life is, they feel it must not mean very much, because it’s not the way people are measuring success. Which is just terrifying.” – See more here.

You Can Decide to Live a High Vibrational Life

If one day you wake up sad, Brene would have you accept that sadness as vulnerability. She writes and speaks about the power in giving ourselves permission to be vulnerable. I agree with her that there is strength in being vulnerable. I also feel at that moment, we must also take decisive action when we feel low vibration emotions (like anger, jealousy, sadness) – we must recognize the emotion as low vibration, and decide in that moment to CHOOSE a higher vibration emotion, like joy, love, gratitude, and take decisive action to support that positive emotion.

Then watch as the domino affect happen in your life – instead of choosing to be a marty and suffer in life, you choose to live your life like a superstar, what that image represents for you, in terms of your core values. Then as you begin to make the shift towards deciding to BE happy and indulge in your core values, you attract MORE of the same: you become a magnet for more love, more joy, more abundance, more freedom, etc. You become the Beyonce of YOUR LIFE. No need to compare, no need to keep track of what celebrities are doing, because your life is holding all of your attention, and your needs are being fulfilled. Your life holds meaning, and your full attention.

I’ll offer myself as an example:  I am a native Texan. I grew up in Houston, TX, but now live in Cypress with my husband. I love Texas, and I think Houston and Cypress are great places to live. The cities have a lot to offer for growing families. Our two sons went to school here, but have now grown up and moved away.  Although my husband and I enjoy having an empty home here, we are entertaining the idea of selling the house and becoming Digital Nomads, moving from place to place until we find a new city to settle in and call home. For me, that means LOTS of time near clean beaches, or natural lakes with crystal clear or blue water. 

Until then, I still deal with things I don’t love. Summer heat and humidity. Mosquitos. Restaurants that love to put cheese and bacon on everything (I’m extremely dairy-sensitive and I don’t eat pork). Bad hair days. (Thank you The Dry Bar for helping me stay cute!) In spite of these things, I still make it a high priority to live like a Modern Goddess, an ideal which represents living gracefully through life, empowered, with gratitude, feeling beautiful, feeling my divine feminine energy, and taking positive action to support, protect, and defend my core values in this lifetime. We travel whenever we can, or at least take weekend trips when possible. I cook (dairy-free, gluten-free, pork-free) at home as much as possible, I use essential oils and take a raw Vitamin B to keep mosquitoes at away, and I do whatever it takes to make my remaining time here enjoyable. 

I am mindful of what I expose myself to on social media, with my social circle, and even music I listen to. I refuse to listen to music with lyrics (especially a lot of pop or rap music) that I feel are low vibration or are demeaning to women. I strive everyday to keep my eyes on my path, and not compare myself with others. I avoid people that always complain, so that low vibration energy doesn’t rub off on me. I protect and defend my core values, even if it means doing a social purge, letting certain people, places and or things go. I make my happiness my highest priority, because I can do more in life from a place of happiness, than I can feeling down and unempowered.

So, I’d love to hear from you. How do you live in a celebrity-obsessed world, and maintain balance by avoiding self-comparison? How do you protect your core values? What do you do to be the superstar or Modern Goddess in your life?

How I Got into the Holiday Spirit

How I Got into the Holiday Spirit

Me and Mom - 2005

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m sitting here at my desk reflecting on why I feel so much more happier this holiday season than in the past couple of years.

See, in February 2009, I lost my mother to breast cancer.  It was devastating enough to watch her take her last breath.  I realize now, looking back, that for many months following, I hadn’t given myself permission to go through the natural stages of grief, because I was still very much in shock. The official term is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but for me, it was mostly a period of huge memory gaps, brain fog, and emotional detachment. I can recall having entire conversations with other fellow students at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City, where I eventually graduated as a certified Holistic Health Coach. I would talk with a fellow student after a lecture, and then a few hours later, I would totally forget having met that person. I remember once I paid an $800+ electric bill, only to forget that I had already paid it, and paid it again…in the same week. I’m so grateful that my husband understood what I was going through, and showed a helluva lotta patience and love with me during this time!

In the aftermath, holidays were difficult, bittersweet, and a blue cloud hung over me, as I resigned to “get through the holidays” and decided to just put on a smile. In doing so, that smile I wore became my mask. The mask served me well, and soon after, I began to put on the mask everyday, using it as a way to hide from the world.

But the truth is, I really didn’t enjoy the holidays, because I wasn’t fully present. I masked my pain, my sorrows, my grieving, and in doing so, delayed my healing process.

It wasn’t until last year that I finally came to reckon with this, and truly allowed myself to “hit rock bottom.”  I allowed myself to break down, slowly, bit by bit, to shed and release all the hurt, pain, heartbreak, sorrow, anger, and bitterness around losing my biggest fan, my best friend, my sweet angel, my mother.  In 2012, I allowed myself to sit in solitude and finally hear my thoughts, something I had been avoiding since my birthday, September 25, 2008, when I got the call at work that the cancer was not only back for a third time, but that it had also spread to over 90% of her body.  She was gone in 6 months.   In 2012, I went through yoga teacher training, twice, with the primary focus of allowing my grieving to finally happen. I meditated, I learned about asanas (yoga body movement and positions), and pranas (breathing exercises), chakras (energy channels), and female power from a body energy perspective.  While I didn’t graduate  and become certified in yoga due to physical limitations (more on this in a future post), I achieved what I desired: assistance with grieving and healing for myself, so I could finally release my mom’s passing, and move forward in life without a heavy heart. During this time, I also took a year or so off from my holistic practice, so I could give 100% focus on my own personal development.

And taking that time to do my emotional work paid off.  When I woke up January 1, 2013, I felt like a brand new woman, the blue cloud had been lifted and I felt lighter, STRONGER, more than ever before.  So, this holiday season has me feeling much, much happier, healthier, and WHOLE again, and I feel I have come full circle again.  I found myself watching old Christmas movies I used to watch with my mom as a little girl, and I noticed instead of feeling pain, I experienced full head on JOY that is just unexplainable.  In fact, it was watching Elf that inspired this post. Here’s other ways I get into the holiday spirit:

  1. Release all guilt and “I should” for shopping and gift giving. If it happens, great. If not, run a quick check of your priorities from now and January 2, 2014: what really matters?
  2. Create some space and time for YOU. For me, that means EVERY DAY I take at least an hour to do something that really relaxes me: a hot candle lit bath, baking gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free cookies, calling a friend, watching old Christmas movies with organic sea salted popcorn, or snuggling with my husband by the fire.
  3. Set reminders during work hours to BREATH and take a stretch break. I learned in yoga teacher training that managing our breath is a large part of stress management and self control. I tend to stop breathing when I get stressed over something as little as my computer moving slow. So I set reminders for myself to BREATH, even take a quick 3-2 minute short stress-busting walk every hour, to hit the Stress RESET button and relax.
  4. Allow myself some fun food, within reason, as long as I stay within the 80/20 rule: eat 80% healthy, and have fun (within reason – my body cannot tolerate gluten, beef, or pork animal protein) with the 20%.  This ratio shifts back to 90% healthy and 10% fun after New Year’s.
  5. Be flexible – people will do what people do, and I can’t control them. But I can control me, and my reactions. In fact, I can also choose to NOT react, but rather, to observe other’s behavior and ask with curiosity and compassion, what is the underlying reason? I also ask, “How can I look at this from a different perspective?
  6. Gratitude:  I approach the Holiday season, or any other for that matter, with gratitude, because this is the most powerful way to activate abundance and manifest your desires. The Universe (God) begins to return to you whatever you direct your energy towards. So, for example, if you direct your energy towards complaining about traffic, you will only receive more frustration with being stuck in traffic. If you, on the other hand, approach traffic with an attitude of gratitude, like, “I am grateful to have a vehicle, to have normal function in my brain, my hands, my legs, to be able to drive,” or “I’m grateful that my vehicle is working properly and that I am safe” would invite more of the same, and most likely you would not feel frustration, but feel much more positive in spirit.

I hope that you find some benefit in my story, as well as my tips to get in to the holiday spirit, so that you may release what might be blocking you from feeling the holiday spirit as well. I don’t know your story, but I would love to hear from you. How do you get into the holiday spirit?

In Other News

I am glad to say that I happy to have returned to coaching, having relaunched my business on my 41st birthday this year, and I have very exciting programs coming up for 2014!

I’m also ecstatic about finally launching my brand new website: www.venusavivwellness.com!  I still have the old website at www.venusaviv.com, and will keep this website up until I have all existing content transferred to this site.  Please be patient, as you may see changes on the fly during the remainder of December 2013 until the transition is complete.

Till next time, Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

Venus Aviv