Solitude and Resolutions

January 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Photo of my son D at Kerry Park

Photo of my son D at Kerry Park

I am reading this amazing book – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it is a fantastic read.

You can listen to the author, Susan Cain give her Ted Talk here (which has been viewed more than five million times).

In the chapter “When Collaboration Kills Creativity” she writes on the now-famous study conducted by Anders Ericsson. Regarding the value of solitary practice among the elite in their fields (violinists, chess players and athletes):

What’s so magical about solitude? In many fields, Ericsson told me, it’s only when you’re alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice, which he identified as the key to exceptional achievement. When you practice deliberately, you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly. Practice sessions that fall short of this standard are not only less useful–they’re counterproductive. They reinforce existing cognitive mechanisms instead of improving them.

Deliberate Practice is best conducted alone for several reasons. It takes intense concentration, and other people can be distracting. It requires deep motivation, often self-generated. But most important, it involves working on a task that’s most challenging to you personally. Only when you’re alone, Ericsson told me, can you “go directly to the part that’s challenging to you. If you want to improve what you’re doing, you have to the be the one who generates the move. Imagine a group class-you’re the one generating the move only a small percentage of the time.”

You can read a fantastic summary on the study’s findings here.

Reading about this at the same moment I’ve been slowing down and thinking about my life and my goals for the new year feels very apropos. I’ve been cleaning house both literally and mindfully, and working to, in the words of my very wise mother-in-law, “clear out of your mind that which has outgrown its usefulness” to make space for the new. As life picks up speed next week as we settle in to 2014, I will continue to make time for the Quiet; to recharge, be inspired and appreciate all that is around me.



September 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

This summer when I was coming down with an unseasonable cold one of my clients said I had go get this thing called NeilMed. She was emphatic and said “It will change your life!” This is a totally un-glamorous thing to write about, but seriously this thing is sort of life changing.

I had tried to use a neti pot before especially during high allergy season but I never could get the angle right. Instead of the water going in one nostril and out the other as it should, it always felt like the water was just pooling in my sinuses and it felt so horrible that that was the last I touched it. But THIS thing is like a neti pot for people who are afraid of neti pots! It is pretty foolproof to use.

So this week when the first cold of the season hit our house, I pulled it out again. There is something so satisfying seeing all that gunk get flushed out that you could never otherwise get to and I swear it has made my colds that much shorter just getting all that stuff out. Enough with the un-glamorous details. Just go get one at your local pharmacy to keep in your wellness arsenal for cold, flu and allergy season.

A new mantra

August 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

self portrait of my son D

self portrait of my son D

speak less, listen more
say less, do more
worry less, work more
ride less, walk more
eat less, chew more
start less, finish more
correct less, prevent more
blame less, forgive more
wrestle less, embrace more
compete less, cooperate more
take less, give more
have less, be more
frown less, laugh more

From Joslyn’s perfect post here.

Feeling under the weather…

June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

I woke up yesterday with a cold so I thought it would be a good time to share my favorite and super effective cold remedy. A few years ago I read this article in Vogue about Dr Daphne Miller who has a integrative primary care practice in San Francisco. I see a Naturopath as my primary doctor and her approach resonated with me. My favorite part of the article was this:

“Patients who come to Miller for relief from the sniffles get a “prescription” for mushroom-ginger soup. She points out that ginger is an excellent decongestant, and there’s scientific evidence that mushrooms boost your immune system. Patients with depression or diabetes might leave with recipes that feature omega-3 rich fish or slow-release carbs along with their standard prescriptions. ‘If you have certain illnesses, it’s better to use medications as a complement to foods,’she says.”

I wanted to know what her mushroom-ginger soup recipe was so I googled it and sure enough (bless the internet) I found it here!

Daphne Miller’s Mushroom Soup with Ginger

1 ¼ cup shiitake, white button, maitake, cremini, or oyster mushrooms cut in

¼ inch slices

1/2 inch cube of fresh ginger (you can add a bit more if you really love ginger)

2 cups cold water

1 tablespoon white or red miso paste

1 tsp Mirin, sake or rice vinegar

1 tbsp finely chopped scallion

Put mushrooms, ginger and water in a pot with a lid and bring to a boil, immediately turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and take out ginger. Put ¼ up of broth in a bowl and stir in miso paste and Mirin.

Stir this mixture into the pot. Serve topped with scallions.

Serving size: 1 dose

The next time I felt a cold coming on I made it and couldn’t believe how well it worked. It is amazing. Every.single.time I am under the weather this does the trick and I feel better, I won’t say instantly, but ridiculously fast. It is my secret weapon.

A few other things I try to follow when battling a cold are eliminating dairy and sugar, take a good probiotic and drink as much water as possible. I also love ginger and drink this concoction daily even when I’m not sick.

– Grated ginger (the easiest way to do this is to keep a nob of ginger in the freezer and grate as needed using a microplane zester)

– Juice from 1/2 a lemon

– Honey to taste

– Pinch of cayenne (optional)

– Add hot water

As a final note, Daphne Miller wrote the Jungle Effect which is a very interesting read and I just noticed she has new book out, Farmacology, that I just added to my Amazon wishlist. You can read more about her here.

Be well.

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