Shining a light on mirroring

MirroringShortly after high school, I moved from Long Island, where I had grown up, to a New Jersey suburb. Without realizing it, I adopted the accent and mannerisms prevalent in my new area. When I went back to my home town for a visit, however, I noticed that I almost immediately reverted to “Long Island English” and “talking with my hands.” Why did that happen, and why is it important?

Mirroring

Much later, when I was developing my skills as a coach, I learned the term “mirroring.” Mirroring is the behavior in which one person subconsciously imitates the gestures, speech pattern, or attitude of another. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) We begin to mirror as infants. Psychologists believe it is through mirroring that children develop empathy and, in being mirrored by their parents, a sense of validation and belonging which helps them establish a sense of self.

As adults, we continue to subconsciously mirror others, particularly in social settings where we desire to fit in. It is a signal to the others that you are like them and agree with what they are saying or doing. It can be very subtle, such briefly mimicking a gesture, or as bold as repeating a phrase louder and with more gusto. Others then mirror you and you think, “Yes! These are my people!”

As a coach, I learned to use mirroring to build rapport and trust with clients. Successful salespeople, negotiators and politicians are masters at mirroring. They will have you thinking they totally get you, so whatever they are selling must be what you need.

Avoiding manipulative salespeople is only one reason I think it is important to understand mirroring. The value of that understanding grows as we become more mentally and emotionally mature. It is then we begin to develop an expanded or different sense of self that is less dependent on being part of a group.

Remember, though, that mirroring is deeply engrained in your subconscious, as is the desire to belong. What happens when, with your new sense of self, you walk into your high school reunion and the peers who used to mirror you are saying the same things and behaving the same way they always did? Or at a family dinner when those who were instrumental in creating your original sense of self are no longer mimicking your gestures and, instead of repeating your words back to you, are disagreeing with them?

As much as we would like to believe we can stand on our own, most of us aren’t comfortable being outsiders. The security of belonging is a basic energy of the Root Chakra. When we don’t get those validating signals, it shakes the foundation on which our individual sense of self is built.

How can we each maintain and continue to develop our individual sense of self and still have a sense of belonging and validation? Find a circle.

The power of circle

It is, of course, easiest to find some people who think and act like you do to spend time with, because they will mirror you. But I think the real opportunity in an artfully facilitated circle is to be able to practice sharing your truth, to be heard and held, and have it not matter if anyone agrees with you. Circle can set up a sense of belonging and validation without mirroring.

Circle also gives us practice in listening deeply without taking on other people’s stuff, or even judging it. Especially for an introvert, like me, being able to just sit and listen without the social pressures of needing to interact in the “right” way (i.e. mirroring), or even to respond beyond “I hear you,” creates a sphere of safety. That is powerful validation of both parties’ self-worth, as well as a useful skill for your next family get-together.

I hope that your new awareness of mirroring will shed light on those times when you feel your sense of self is challenged. Perhaps you will be inspired to seek out ways to build a strong sense of self and belonging without needing subconscious validation from mirroring. I hope you will find your circle.

What do you think? Have you noticed yourself mirroring others, or looking for others who will mirror you? How do you feel when they don’t? I’d love it if you would share your insights, so we can all grow together.

Show your liver some love

2015-09 LiverBring your hand to your right lower ribs. Behind the bones, just below your diaphragm, is your 3 pound, rubbery liver. Most of us are unaware of the body’s largest gland, unless there is a problem. But now is the time to start showing your liver some love.

You cannot survive without your liver. It supports almost all the other organs. Your liver is a filter for blood leaving the digestive tract. It detoxifies chemicals, metabolizes drugs, and makes proteins important for blood clotting. Special cells, called Kupffer cells, capture and digest bacteria, fungi, parasites, worn-out blood cells and a bunch of debris from cellular processes throughout your body. Imagine the constant fight your immune system would have without your liver’s help.

Viruses, like Hepatitis A, B and C, overuse of acetaminophen, and chronic alcohol abuse can cause scarring in the liver. Over time, the growth of scar tissue destroys the liver cells, a condition known as cirrhosis. Just because you don’t have cirrhosis doesn’t mean your liver is healthy, however. An overload of the bad stuff your liver should be filtering results in toxicity. An overloaded liver might show up as chronic fatigue, moodiness, bloating after a meal, or being unable to lose weight despite lots of dieting and exercising. Or you might not even notice it.

When I was researching my last “Lunch Date” call, I found out that eating too much fructose can lead to fatty liver and insulin resistance. Cutting down on or eliminating refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup helps ease your liver’s load. Eating whole, organic foods reduces the amount of toxic chemicals your liver has to filter out. Taking probiotics or eating fermented foods helps maintain your digestive system’s health so less bad bacteria and other microbes get to your liver.

Supporting your liver is supporting your whole body’s health. What other signs and symptoms of liver toxicity are there? How are you caring for your liver? Please share by leaving a comment.

Lunch Date: the science behind the sugar blues

This week’s “lunch date” is a 15 minute rundown on sugar. The history of sugar (including an interesting tidbit about the American Revolution), what sugar is, how your body processes sugar and what happens when you eat too much of it are covered. Plus I share how to spot hidden sugar in processed food and some tips on giving it up.

Listen in during your lunch break, or anytime. You can join me live on meet.FM every other Monday at 1:00 pm ET for another topic. Find the upcoming topics on my calendar, or join my email list for an invitation in your inbox.

Freedom has four wheels

2015-08 Freedom Car

That’s me with my new Honda Fit. Snazzy, isn’t she?

I am very excited to have a new car. (I might have said “squeeeeee!” in the dealership.) And while I’m very glad that it has room for lots of yoga mats, gets great gas mileage and is fun to drive, the reason I’m smiling so much is because I’m free.

You see, as every car in our driveway passed the 150,000 mile mark, they started to break down. Often. Car repair bills were getting out of hand, and even my mechanic started hinting that we should consider retiring them. Then one died, and suddenly we had three drivers with different but equally crazy schedules juggling two cars.

For someone who places a high value on freedom, being trapped at home without wheels is a drag. Yes, I can walk, and I did, but there were things I wanted to do that weren’t within walking distance. Plus, I was getting pretty stressed out about how I was going to manage the drive to Essex, New York, this winter to lead teacher training with one of the two remaining ailing cars. And there were a bunch of opportunities to lead workshops and yoga classes that I’ve been saying “maybe, someday” to, while thinking that someday would probably never come.

As weeks went by, my body tightened and my heart ached with wanderlust. I wanted to share all the tools I have for getting well and to support as many people as I can, but I was walled in. Then my coach asked a simple question:

“What is holding you back?”

And I knew what it was. I knew that until getting places was no longer a problem, I couldn’t move forward, literally or figuratively. And I couldn’t authentically help other women explore their ideas of freedom until I stepped into my own.

Buying a new car was a financial risk, but waiting risked everything.

On the day I picked up the car, I drew Elk from my Medicine Card deck. Elk’s medicine is stamina – energy to go the distance. I took it as a sign that the Universe is on my side.

Consider your dreams, goals, and plans. What is holding you back? And what would you be willing to risk to break down that wall? I’d love to hear from you. You can share by leaving a comment below.

“Lunch Date” talk – 5 ways de-stress your workday

Please enjoy this talk when I share five tricks I’ve learned to keep workday stress under control, wherever you work. These are techniques I used when I worked in public accounting and then in corporate finance. I still use them now, in my home office. My intention is to show you how to be calm, centered and much less stressed at work.

Join me for another lunchtime webinar every other Monday at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. Upcoming topics will include yoga, nutrition, aromatherapy and Reiki. Get the call-in information by signing up for my email newsletter or liking my Facebook page.

If you are going to be a chicken, be chicken number six

1...2...3...4...5...where's number 6?

1…2…3…4…5…where’s number 6?

Before I brought home six chicks, nobody told me how noisy chickens were. I knew roosters crowed, of course, but the hens? It starts in the morning with the “where’s that boy with our breakfast?” complaints and builds to the egg-laying announcements that I’m sure echo off the mountains. And at least once a day there is the alarmed squawking that brings the dogs running and at least one human member of the household outside to count chickens.

It goes like this: “One…two…three…four…five…(pause to look around)…where’s number six?”

When you share space with foxes and coyotes, you don’t name your chickens. We’ve been lucky so far and have all six still with us, but you never know. We thought we lost chicken number six to a feral cat last fall, but a day later she showed up at the gate.

You see, chicken number six won’t stay in the yard. While the other five chickens are content to hunt bugs within the fence-line or to lounge under the picnic table, number six is over the fence and scratching in the woods or, occasionally, wandering down the road. We’re not sure if she’s at the bottom of the pecking order or just an adventurous soul, but she’s always somewhere else.

I was watching number six in the woods today and it struck me that she seemed to be the happiest of the chickens. Since she takes the whole “free range” thing seriously, I imagine she is very well nourished. She has the juicy bugs, seeds and fresh greens that grow outside the fence all to herself. She is clearly fearless, having now had more than one encounter with cats that all end in the cat being told in no uncertain terms to back off. And she refuses to allow anything to limit her freedom.

Today number six is out there on her own, but every now and then the others follow her over the fence. Maybe all chicken souls are a bit adventurous, but only number six has the courage to lead the way. When I think of the women who have inspired me to nourish myself, be fearless and embrace freedom, I am grateful that there are number sixes out there.

Which chicken would you be like? Would you be scratching your way through the woods, or eyeing freedom from inside the fence? Who inspires you to test your wings? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments!

How to make your dream come true

The stories are everywhere, always uplifting, always inspiring:

Every day, people just like you go out into the world and make their dreams come true.

They did it. Why not you? You’re no different than any of these individuals.

Why Couldn’t Your Dream Come True?

2015-05 butterfly+pulling+rockTrue, it sounds hard. In fact, it probably is hard, with a number of obstacles to overcome. That may be excuse enough to put your dream on permanent hold. But how would you feel if you made your dream a reality? How badly do you want that feeling?

“Obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them… they are liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.”
– Orison Swett Marden, writer

Could a Plan Help?

The easiest way to turn a dream into reality is one step at a time:

  • Choose one small thing to get done. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
  • Identify what scares you most about taking that step. Ask yourself: What’s the worst thing that could happen if I face this fear? Write down the worst-case scenario, and also write how you would confront it.
  • Choose a small reward for yourself once you’ve accomplished that activity.
  • Then just do it – and check that task off your list.
  • Now treat yourself to the reward, rejoice, and celebrate!
  • Repeat the above steps as many times as necessary and watch yourself get happier and healthier as you move in the direction of your dream. And enjoy the journey.

Need more inspiration? Check out Daily Good – a news blog full of uplifting stories. It’s my favorite source for good news.

What’s your dream? What one small thing can you do today to bring that dream closer to reality? What scares you? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

What are your intentions for 2015?

I love being on the cusp of the new year. It feels like the slate has been wiped clean and anything is possible. I always give thought to what I would like to accomplish in the coming year. Sometimes it’s one or two simple things, but most years I dream big. I often dream too big, without thought to how many hours are actually available for all of the things I want to tackle. I’ve learned to be more reasonable with my time and try to keep my intentions achievable.

This year I categorized my intentions by the element they most related to – earth, air, fire, water or spirit. It was a good check to make sure my plans will keep me balanced. It’s great to want to have a hugely successful career, but if it doesn’t leave time for creativity or exercise or spiritual pursuits it might not be worth it. When you look ahead, are you thinking about balance?

Below is a summary of my intentions for 2015. They all are much more specific, of course. Each has a deadline and is achievable and measurable. For example, “I will complete my work, pass the final test and graduate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition on February 22, 2015, after which I will be a fully certified holistic health coach.” With intentions like that, I can easily track my progress and remember what I need to schedule time for.

Intentions 2015

What are your intentions for 2015? I’d love it if you would share some in the comments below, or link to your own post about your plans for the new year.

My sugar and grain-free Thanksgiving

I’m trying hard to maintain my clean-eating lifestyle through the holidays. It’s not easy. Besides the turkey, my family’s usual Thanksgiving menu is loaded with flour and refined sugar. This year we have the added challenge of including some vegan-friendly selections.

If you are looking for some no sugar, paleo, GAPS diet friendly additions to your Thanksgiving meal, browse the recipes I tried this year.

Most cranberry sauce recipes are made with sugar. I was happy to find this paleo version on Amazing!Paleo. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of raw honey, but that seemed too sweet for me so I cut it in half. It’s tart, but good.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 15 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Paleo Cranberry SauceIngredients:
1 pound fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/4 cup honey (raw honey if you can get it)
1/8 teaspoon allspice

  1. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, honey and allspice in a saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring, until the honey melts. The juices will be lightly simmering.
  2. Add the cranberries and continue to stir.
  3. The cranberries will begin to pop. (Keep stirring or they will pop all over your stovetop.) Continue cooking until all the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened. (Will take 5 to 10 minutes.)
  4. Let sauce cool in refrigerator and serve with turkey.

I love my mom’s sweet potato casserole, but the brown sugar topping will not work for me this year. I found a yummy paleo version on CupcakesOMG! And with no butter, it’s vegan.

Instead of mashed potatoes, I’m making a parsnip and turnip puree that I found on Against All Grain. To give the vegans another option, I replaced the chicken broth with vegetable broth and the butter with Earth Balance spread.

My husband makes a magazine cover-worthy turkey every year. I’m paring it with paleo gravy from Brittany Angell. Thick without gluten. Ahhh…

And dessert. What did I do about dessert? I found a lovely recipe for pumpkin bread pudding on Paleo Parents. It was hard not to eat the pumpkin bread before it got made into bread pudding. Very yummy!

I hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Fall Food: Onion and Apple Smothered Pork Chops

pork chop apple onionMy big take-away from the 21 Day Sugar Detox was to do everything I can to avoid feeling like I did at the start, so I’ve been pretty good about staying away from sugar. That has meant a whole new way of preparing food, since most of the old go-to dinners were full of grains and dairy. From following lots of new recipes, I’m figuring out how to adapt some of our favorites. Plus, my family is trying new foods and loving them (like Paleo Butter Chicken from My Heart Beets – yum! – and she even has a grain-free naan recipe).

I wanted to try a sugar detox safe version of a fall staple, pork chops smothered in caramelized onions and apples. After looking at a couple of recipes online which added sugar, I came up with my own version. They are super easy to make and paired nicely with fresh green beans. Best of all, they were good.

Pork Chops Smothered in Onions and Apples

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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pork chop apple onion
Ingredients:
4 boneless pork chops
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter or ghee
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 (about 1 cup) tart apple, unpeeled, cored, thinly sliced
2 medium (about 2 cups) onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic

Directions:

  1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet and stir in cinnamon. When it sizzles, add pork chops. Cook over medium heat, turning once, 6-8 minutes or until browned. Remove chops to serving platter; keep warm.
  3. Place apple and onion slices into same skillet with pan juices. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking, stirring every minute or so, another 5-10 minutes or until apples are soft and onions are dark but not burned.
  4. Stir in garlic; continue cooking 2-3 minutes or until garlic is softened.
  5. Return chops to pan and raise heat to medium; continue cooking 2-3 minutes or until internal temperature of pork reaches at least 145°F and is no longer pink.