Dear Holly,

Every year until you were twenty-one I made you a birthday crown on your birthday!

At first with colored paper and crayons and gold stickers and then later on with quotes and inspiration and dreams of the year to come. This year it’s a birthday blog! And it’s not to inspire you (although I hope it does) but to thank you for what you’ve taught me and how you’ve inspired me as we’ve grown into women together.

Happy Birthday! I wish you a day full of gratitude and appreciation for being born at this time, in this place, on this great earth, to do just the work you are doing!

I love you so much, Gretchen

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Life From My Sister Holly

Honesty trumps being sincere or nice. There have been moments when I really didn’t like what she had to say and she said it without sugar-coating it. Like when she told me, “He’s not the one!” or when I asked, “Do I look pregnant in my face?” And she said, “Yes you do.” Being honest builds trust and she’s someone I know I can count on to set me straight. When I need an ear that will not only listen but hold me accountable to being my biggest and my best self I call Holly.

When Holly moved from Georgia to California by herself, got her undergraduate degree in Holistic Health, and become a massage therapist, I was inspired. She opened the world of holistic healing to me and her boldness inspired me to go back to school to study herbal medicine. I’ve learned that life is an experiment. There are no wrong turns and no mistakes and every new chapter is an opportunity to learn.

Nana always told us, “just smile!” And it’s true. Holly’s smile lights up a room, her laugh makes you laugh, her storytelling is hilarious, and her dry humor often makes you pee your pants, o.k. maybe just me. But there are things that only sisters who have known each other intimately for more than a quarter of a century laugh at together and I love that I get to share that kind of lightness with you.

You don’t have to climb to the top of every mountain. If there are mosquitos in your face biting you and you don’t have good shoes and you’re slipping on a steep slope and you have cramps and you’re hungry for lunch and you didn’t pack enough water and you’ve gone 80% of the way and you have a great view and you have gotten great pictures (to show your friends) and you’ve climbed plenty of other mountains all over the world and you’re just plain tired of the climb. You really can turn around. It doesn’t mean anything about you, your toughness, the mountain, or any of the reasons listed above, it just means you’re choosing to turn around. In other words you can choose powerfully to create your future in any moment.

Life doesn’t have to be serious or significant. One time I made Holly a journal for a road trip she was taking, I think the move from Georgia to California. It had little inspiring quotes on different pages and a map and drawings of things she might see along the way. She joked at me about how I had written her out a plan to follow, “You will have this discovery on this day” and “on this day you’ll become very wise and have all the answers!” Humor and lightness about the journey we’re on is essential and I’ve learned that from Holly!

Huge life lesson: don’t compare yourself to others. Holly always reminds me of that. It’s a dark alley and a bad place for your brain to go alone. It takes you away from all that you have, the present moment, and what’s possible in the next moment.

Be kind to people. Sometimes people need extra kindness and tenderness and love. Sometimes they need extra attention and support and compassion. Sometimes they need holding and snuggling and tea. I’ve learned that being kind is important and definately more important than being right.

Following your dreams takes great courage. My sister is now going into her second year of a Master’s program in Acupuncture. Moving back to Maryland, living with family, taking out more loans, working a part-time job, making new friends, life hasn’t always been easy. Holly has shown me that you can go from difficult to blossoming, from unsure to being a healer, from worried and stressed about yourself to getting out there and making a difference with other people. She’s taken herself and her life on and done the work within herself, in her relationships, at school, and in her job to truly live and dance in the present moment and that inspires me.

Be gentle with life. As older sisters do, there has been more than one occasion when I’ve hurt my little sister. I’ve learned that being gentle will get you farther than being angry.

One time for my birthday Holly got me the gift of jumping out of an airplane. I went first and was absolutely terrified. I swear I wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t been down on the ground, watching, waiting for me to go first. Be daring! Even if you’re scared and don’t want to. Just do it! This is your one wild and precious life so you might as well jump!

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First off, I’m pregnant! 

So beyond being an expert in the field of holistic health, nutrition and herbal medicine, I am now, even more than ever before, an expert in the field of weird cravings, energy drops, mood swings, and figuring out what I need to eat day by day to be happy and healthy!

The last time I shared exciting news with you was when Danny proposed at the end of July! Basically, the next weekend I found out I was pregnant! Funny thing is that on the summer solstice I had let the universe know, “I’m ready to move to the next stage of womanhood, I’m ready to be a mother.” Well, the universe definately heard me!

It’s perfect. Danny is starting a solar, wind, and energy products business in Belfast, I have tons of new ideas for books and teleclasses to expand my business while being a new mom working from home, I’m due in mid April, we’ll have the wedding in August, our families are super supportive and excited, it’s beautiful!

The thing is that nothing prepares you for pregnancy and no one talks about it. Nausea, exhaustion, food apathy, irritability, crazy emotions, and I’m told, “It’s ok you’re perfectly normal!” But that didn’t give me much peace of mind. There must be something I could do to support my body in building both a new organ and a new human being inside of me, while still staying sane!

In short, I set out to discover what I needed to be stable, have energy, eat well, and not kill my new fiance (baby daddy) in the first trimester. But isn’t this what we all need to figure out to some degree at different times in our lives? If you’re wondering how to eat well, have energy, and have true peace of mind in your relationships too, keep reading!

You are your own best healer!

I feel confident that what I’ve learned by listening to my body in the last couple months applies to anyone who has sugar cravings, mood swings, low energy, random aches and pains, constipation, acne outbreaks, or symptoms you can’t quite figure out (in other words not only pregnant women). First you’ve got to reframe the way you think about your health and your body.

Trust yourself and trust your body as your teacher. Let go of anyone else’s ideas about what you should or shouldn’t be eating! Be a dectective! Ask yourself, what is my body trying to communicate to me? What food is really going to satisfy me right now? What activity is really going to nourish me deeply today? 

When I found out I was pregnant I made a checklist. I hung it in my kitchen where I would see it every day. It said, “water, protien, fish oils, vitamins, greens, veggies, whole grains, herbal tea, yoga, walk, rest.” When I hit a wall or a slump I’d look at the list and sure enough I hadn’t been drinking water that day or I hadn’t done yoga or taken a walk yet. Two weeks later the list was no longer motivating so I created another one in a daily journal. Two weeks later that was defunct too. It’s ok. Change is slow. We need to allow for a constant revision, creation, and change in the way we view taking care of ourselves. If I were to create another list today it might also include, “connect with friends, reach out for support, get hugs and kisses from Danny, be patient with yourself, be outside in nature, read fiction.”

You can make your own list for whatever it is you are dealing with in your life. Sweet cravings, digestion, or a stressful time at work? What could you add in to support you? The next step is to stop and listen to your body at different points throughout the day. What is your body really craving? What are you really wanting?

Sweet Veggies

One day I absolutely had to have a chocolate ice cream cone, so I did. It was wonderful! I hadn’t had an icecream cone in a very long long time, I was pregnant, I felt ultra deserving of the sweet, rich, creamy, satisfying coldness. Of course then I was thirsty and craving salt, so I had some chips. Later I felt tired and the next day I was craving more sweets! A “healthy” brownie, some sherbert, a “healthy cookie” I never do this! Before I knew it I had set off a whole festival of mood-food drama in body. I’m pretty sure I actually created morning sickness. Luckily I knew what to do to get right back on track!

If you’re craving sweets yeah you can have the icecream but if you don’t want to deal with the downward spiral of low energy, mood swings, and sweet cravings add in sweet vegetables first. In retrospect I wish I had packed a healthy lunch for the beach with sweet potatoes, apples, cheese and yogurt.  It would have saved me from weeks of trying to get my blood sugar balanced again!

Protien

Although I’ve known this for years in the past couple of weeks I’ve intimately re-discovered there is a direct relationship between protien and sweet cravings. If you are craving sweets (I knew I was in trouble when I started eyeing ding dongs in the grocery store and I don’t even like ding dongs) try increasing the amount of good quality protien you are eating at each meal. It really works!

Water

Yeah peeing every hour isn’t that much fun, trust me! But if you aren’t getting enough water your body could be craving sweets, feeling exhausted, cranky or distracted. Try increasing the amount of water you drink, starting with two huge glasses in the morning, then more water in between your meals verses with your meals during the day (which weakens digestion). Do this for a month and your body will adjust to process the water more efficiently so you won’t be peeing so much.

Greens

I’m convinced at this point that there is some kind of weird evolutionary hormone that signals women in their first trimester to be absolutely digusted with greens. Perhaps so that you don’t try something new during this stage of your pregnancy your appetite makes you stick to bland foods avoiding anything potentially poisonous. This crazy anti-greens campaign had me going down the cereal aisle for the first time in many years, in search of bland foods like cream of wheat, which is delicious for dinner by the way!

Greens are an awesome source of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fiber, calcium, iron, and tons of stuff we need. Plus they’re great for balancing emotions so I knew I needed to sneak some in somehow.  If you’re not a big fan try to sneak chopped kale into eggs, add peas to pasta, crunch broccoli with hummus, add spirulina to a shake, even asparagus on toast is a start! There are lots of ways to sneak greens into your diet and if you do you’ll notice peace of mind, improved digestion, increased energy, and radiant skin! I noticed a difference overnight when I added in more greens! I’m so happy to be enjoying salad again!

Eat frequently

This is tricky cause you don’t necessarily want your body to have to deal with high blood sugar all day long since your body actually needs time to rest from the process of digestion. But if you’re craving sweets morning, noon, and night then you’re already on the “pin ball diet” (think spikes then crashes). You will definately benefit from eating nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and whole grains more frequently throughout the day to balance your blood sugar levels. 

One day I worked an hour past being hungry not thinking much of it (yes I have been known to do this in the past) and it really impacted the rest of my afternoon with sweet cravings, irritability, low energy, and not wanting to eat dinner. Yikes! When you’re body is hungry, feed it. Listen to the pregnant woman on this one!

Trust yourself

Trust your body. Listen to what you need. When you are tired take a nap. When you are stressed stretch, cry, yell, go for a walk, have a spontaneous mid-day dance party, do something to shift your energy. When you are feeling low go outside and lay in the grass and look up at the trees and the sky and reconnect with the mystery of life and how magical it all really is.

Hire a coach

I am so thankful for my amazing midwife! She’s knowledgable, she’s been exactly where I am and so she knows what it feels like, I don’t have to re-invent the wheel and figure it all out on my own, she’s looking out for my body and my health but also for my mind and my spirit, it’s incredible to be fully supported in this way! I just recently started acupuncture too! It feels so good to be nourishing myself deeply at this time.

If you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to get results, my number one recommendation for you is that you hire a coach! The peace of mind, support, and forward momentum you’ll gain is absolutely invaluable! 

If you are interested in working with me I literally only have 8 openings left in 2009 for clients to begin my power-packed 3-month Eating for Energy signature system! The top three results? Increase your energy, decrease your cravings, and lose weight! Seriously, it’s easy, it’s sustainable, it’s the best investment you’ll make this year! If you miss out you’ll have to wait till 2011 after the post pregnancy sebatical!

So don’t miss your chance to create vibrant health, abundant energy, and peace of mind in 2009 email me at gretchenheilman [at] gmail.com to set up your initial holistic health consultation today! Also stay tuned for pictures of the bump!

I just wanted to share this funny and inspiring story from a client with you!

“The grocery store has become a scary place! At every turn are a number of traps designed to ensnare the weak and uninformed. Since working with Gretchen, I’m able to eliminate entire aisles with a quick glance and move on. There’s the cookie aisle, the chips and soda aisle, the sugared cereal aisle and the aisle with pudding snacks and highly sugared juices. There’s also the processed, meals in a box aisle. Just add water and stir. I was once able to go to the salad bar and only see veggies, but now there’s pudding to mix with your fruit and even double size portions of cake with frosting. There’s no sacred place in the grocery store these days. The final assault comes as you’re standing in the checkout line with stacks of candy on either side of you. They’ve even started placing double size portions of carrot cake on a table as you enter the line. Each piece has a little orange carrot made of frosting on top. I suppose this gives some people the false idea that they’re getting their vegetables with each piece of cake. It takes a skilled shopper to make it through this maze with healthy choices in your cart. Gretchen’s coaching has helped me eliminate cravings for these dead end foods. I don’t even miss them! There are so many wholesome foods available, we just have to be wise shoppers as we enter the spider’s web.” – 52 year old male

Here’s to navigating the grocery store! My next health food store tour is coming up November 14th at NOON at the Belfast Coop! Free tour of the store and much more fun than the scary grocery store! Email me at gretchenheilman [at] gmail.com for more information!

I’m standing on the edge of a big rock, on an island, in the middle of “Kingdom Bog,” overlooking lilly pads, lotus blossoms, and a bright fuchsia sunset. I’m thinking about how much I love Maine, how great is it that we can drive 10 minutes from our house to go on a spontaneous canoe ride on a random Thursday night, and how good my life is!

We’re planning to camp out here on this little island this weekend so I’m asking Danny if we can bring two tents cause I’m worried about our hound dog sleeping outside at night, since he’s never been camping before, and then he hands me this card… “Read it,” he says. Here’s the card…

Resemblence of a Ring

Signifying Love, Trust, and Growth

Unconditional love from me to you
The warmth and comfort of our touch
Our dedicated way of reconnecting

Trust that we hold in one another
Our special moments of sacred intimacy
The committment we share to our relationship

Life long symbiotic growth
Creating ourselves and our lives
Empowered with possibilities and togetherness
Nourishment for our ever-changing relationship

This ring will resemble the meaning I hold for you in my life

“What!? Is this for real?” are my first words. Then he gets down on one knee and says “Honey” with this huge beautiful smile on his face, “I’ll give you my onlyness if you’ll give me your tomorrow” (later I find out this is from the Johnny Cash song “If I Were a Carpenter”). “Marry me” he says and then I say “Yes!” and then I of course start crying!

Kingdom Bog

Danny Piper is such a good man. He’s kind, loving, thoughtful, patient, passionate, and inspiring. He’s a carpenter, a potter, an artist, a gardener, a lover of the earth and nature and good food. We met in Colorado 527 days before he proposed and I knew he was “the one” from the moment we met.

I remember watching his broad shoulders as he walked back to his jeep after asking me to dinner (we met at the Bamboo Market, a Health Food Store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado) and my first thought was “I think that’s my husband!” And if you know me at all, you know that I never ever planned on getting married or having a “husband!”

It’s totally corny but I feel like the luckiest woman alive!

I want to share with you the power of intentionally creating your life verses sitting back and waiting for it to happen. On February 4th 2007 after a lifetime of serial monogomy I made an intentional choice to spend six months on a solo spiritual cebatical, no dating, no flirting, just getting clear about what I wanted for myself and my life.

I then spent the next six months on a dating rampage, the point of which was to date without getting attached and without getting into a relationship! What a powerful exercise! After six months of this experiment I was so done with dating! So on February 4th of 2008 I decided I would only see people I thought could be “the one.”

I made a list, which I still keep in my desk drawer, called “qualities of my life partner.” So that I could begin calling this person to me. Here it is…

Adventurous, compassionate, loving, adores me and I adore them, committed to making a difference, loves the outdoors, romantic, funny, considerate, beautiful, in love, likes to surprise me, faithful, believes anything is possible, loves to snowboard, swim, hike, camp, snuggle, environmentally conscious, and then I thought, “Well if I could have anything I wanted,” so I added rich to the top!

Danny and I went on our first date 7 days later on February 11th. I told him I loved him that night. He’s everything on the list except rich but that was an afterthought anyway and plus he’s young! We spent spring in Colorado, summer in Alaska, fall in New Hampshire, and winter in Maine. I feel like I could spend several lifetimes with him and never run out of in-love-ness.

At Gina & Matt's Wedding

I know this might start sounding unbelievable but Tuesday night in my “Creating Happiness” Seminar with Landmark Education I was looking at an area of my life I’ll call “not being proposed to yet.” I saw that I had been missing out on my actual relationship with Danny due to worrying about the future. I created the possibility of being “radiant and free” and then after thinking about Wilbur in Charolotte’s Web I changed it to, “radiant pig!”

Inspired by being a “radiant pig” on Thursday morning I created a set of intentions for my life between now and the end of the year to inspire me and wake me up to that I am creating my life not just along for the ride. In the relationship category I wrote, “I am present to the miracles I have created with Danny! I am happy, joyous, kind, trusting, and in love with my soulmate! I am engaged!” That night he proposed.

Cool. Huh?

I’m sharing this with you because I want you to know magic is possible. In any area of your life magic is possible. Especially in the areas of your life you’ve given up on, feel resigned about, are worried, annoyed, stuck, troubled, or afraid of. Be it your health, relationships, weight, career, whatever it is. This is it! This is your life! This is your one precious lifetime! Why not create some miracles?!

I’m also sharing this with you cause I want you to know that eating well, eating awesomely outrageously well, taking extrememly good care of yourself, being able to think well and sleep well, being vibrant and alive, and taking time out to reflect on creating your life, is worth it! It’s worth your life!

To celebrate our engagement we came home from canoeing and made a wonderfully yummy fruit dessert that I’ll share with you!

Healthy Dessert Recipe

Engagement Dessert

In a food processor combine strawberries, rasberries, blueberries, mango, bananas, and a tiny bit of organic milk just enough to loosen it up! It should be creamy and soft. You could also add a nut butter or nuts as a topping or coconut flakes but it’s delicous plain too!

If you want the secret recipe for creating the relationship of your dreams sign up for a free holistic health consultation with me! I’d also recommend you check out Redefining Monogomy or Have the Relationship you Want for a fresh new approach to finding your soulmate.

Thank you for listening to my most romantic story, for being a part of my life, and for sharing in my joy! Yippee!

Who are my best clients?

Successful moms who juggle work outside or inside the home and are committed to themselves and their families eating well and being healthy!

People in their fifties or sixties who want to live vibrantly into their golden years and teach their families how to eat well too!

Social workers, nurses, and health providers who “know how to eat well” but don’t do it and need some help with creating a balanced life that works!

Althletes; mountain bikers and climbers who want to take their passion to the next level, lose weight, and continue to thrive at their favorite sport without worrying about injury or keeping up!

Those are just a few of the folks I am working with who are increasing energy, losing weight, and understanding what foods work for them! What I want you to get is that these are real people getting real results in real time!

I’m going to thumb through my client folders and give you an idea of what I mean.

Here’s the list of some of the results I’ve been charting during the past six months of my private practice:

lost 18 lbs in 4 months, lost 15 lbs in 5 months, increase in energy levels in the afternoon, happy, cooking meals by myself, not interested in sweets anymore, hot flashes are gone in 1 month (this is before using herbal formula, simply with dietary changes), empowered, walking daily, loving my life, quit drinking wine, went from 20 cups of coffee to 8 cups to 2 cups to 0 cups (this was not my recommendation simply his idea and a great result), decreasing my medication and I feel great (with her doctor’s approval), eating breakfast, packing my lunch, sleeping through the night, lost 10 lbs in 3 months, not craving sugar, lost 8 lbs in 2 months, I feel good in my body, cut out soda (again her idea), chewing my food… I could go on and on!

My point is these folks are just like you! What have you accomplished in the last six months? What would you like to accomplish in the next six months?

You can create anything you want! It’s your life! The secret is… it’s much easier to cause breakthrough results when you have the support of a coach!

 

 Are you my ideal client?

If you want to find out ask yourself these questions:

Are you ready to transform your life? Does my website and my approach resonate with you? Are you done with dieting, feeling guilty, or frustrated? Will you do the work outside our meetings in your own life to make this program count?

If you answered yes to more than one of the above questions then my guess is you’d be perfect for any of my programs!

What are you waiting for? Find out about your free holistic health consultation and let’s get started today! This offer is for a limited time only. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

All people living vibrant, inspired, balanced lives that make a difference for their families, their communities, and for the planet we live on.

Alive and Awake Healing Arts combines all of the things that I love: food, herbs, awareness, activism, teaching, causing transformation in people’s individual lives, community organizing, art, environmentalism, education, gardening, spirituality, movement, yoga…

I believe that we all have within us the ability to heal, bring joy, and create new possibilities for the future for ourselves and the world. As a Healer it’s my job to remind you of the possibility of being alive and awake in every moment. Like this moment. Are you alive and awake to being alive and awake?

My dad is my hero. He lives on a small farm outside of Hickman, Nebraska with a big organic vegetable garden and a collection of cows, chickens, sheep, goats, horses, barn cats, and a donkey named Oaty! Get it? Donkey-oaty! Oh and something like nine dogs at this point! I’m pretty sure he is the only dogsled racer in the state of Nebraska.

Yesterday he left a voice mail on my machine prompted by the question, “What do you love about your life?” His answer, “I can do whatever I want, whenever I want!” Thus the new interest in cooking fresh local foods from his garden and reading Michael Pollan. “But I’m retired,” he tells me, “You, have to work hard and save your money!” 

One of the many things I love about my dad is that he’s had this self taught quest for adventure and learning his entire life. He’s an avid reader and taught himself to be an artist, a sailor, a potter, a gardener, a farmer…

One time he rigged the vaccum cleaner hose to his snorkel mask, so he could practice his “Eskimo roll” in his kayak and still breathe underwater in our swimming pool! It worked and he got his roll down!

My dad

I love you dad. Thank you for being such a great father and for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for teaching me to see life as a great adventure and for supporting me through all the ups and downs.

Thank you for teaching me to appreciate beauty and nature and simple things. Thank you for being yourself. Thank you for giving me my life! I am so grateful for our relationship. Happy Father’s Day!

In honor of my father, Steven Charles Heilman, and all fathers, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day!

Although my dad has made many famous meals, I remember most fondly the Easter he prepared fish soup with a hearty homemade bread. The house smelled amazing, the grace was fitting, and we celebrated with our whole family.

 

Fish Soup Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 large onions
4-6 cloves garlic
olive oil
handfulls of tomatoes
handfulls of spinach
a handful of fresh basil
4 small salmon fillets
2 portions of rice noodles (or cooked grains)
2 pints of vegetable stock 

 

Directions:
In a pot, sautee your onions and garlic with olive oil.  While this is happening, broil your salmon fillets for about 5 min, or until the skin comes easily off the salmon.

To your onions and garlic, add tomatoes and 2pt vegtable stock. Bring to a boil and then add the salmon. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the basil (chopped) and fresh spinach and rice noodles (cooked). Simmer for 5 more mins.

No need to serve with anything other than a bowl, a spoon and a large appetite! But it does go great with homemade bread!