The Sober Season...
In the past, if someone said they were "sober," it usually meant they were “on the wagon”… a recovering alcoholic. But over the past few years, a noticeable shift has started to occur toward sobriety. Americans have put more and more focus on health and wellness. Drinking habits will be the next frontier to be conquered.
In the last year especially, helmed by several wellness influencers, the sobriety movement has presented itself as one of the top solutions for the growing dissatisfaction we have with our lack of authentic, genuine connections and/or careers that don't challenge, energize and inspire us. Included in our quest to gain a better sense of self and quality of life is the ever-present deleterious effects of alcohol on the body and mind. According to Dr. Mark Hyman in his book, The UltraMind Solution, “alcohol damages the liver and prevents it from excreting excess estrogen… a factor that influences hormonal imbalance. Men who drink too much literally grow breasts along with their beer bellies!” This raises the question as to whether or not one may drink and still take an effective approach to dieting and wellness.
Biet Simkin, Founder of Center of the Cyclone, a musician and meditation expert, believes substances actually disconnect us from our true selves, making sobriety not just beneficial but actually a prerequisite to finding and fulfilling our purpose. "Having explored alcohol and drugs in some depth myself, I know that they don't propagate intentional living. When substances get involved, the experience you have tends to get farther and farther from the experience you intended to have." So, what does she say to people who think they need "liquid courage" to be honest—for whom alcohol is a means of facilitating intimacy? "Vulnerability requires authenticity, and authenticity requires vulnerability. Neither of these outcomes is encouraged by the crutch of substances."
The popularity of alcohol-free get togethers is growing, and in 2017, we will see even more of a shift toward mindful interactions and refreshing alternatives to booze. Cities like LA and NYC are already gaining momentum, propelled by cutting-edge and trendy watering holes and restaurants eager to catch the wave. In New York, high-end bar and eatery, The Nomad Hotel, has added a selection of nonalcoholic drinks referred to as “Mocktails”, to their cocktail menu. Farm-to-table restaurant, Riverpark, is offering Temperance Coolers, inspired by and composed of local, seasonal ingredients—just like everything else on the menu. But this isn't just an East Coast thing…
On the West Coast, in San Francisco and Oakland, microbreweries like Copenhagen-based Mikkeller are starting to cater to the connoisseur who wants to enjoy the experience and taste of a well-crafted beer without the buzz. Mikkeller's “Drink'in The Sun 13” rates at just 0.26 ABV, but features flavors as rich and diverse as lemon, grapefruit, peach, and apricot. At the same alcohol level, “Drink'in The Snow” gives you a holiday flavor profile complete with clove, coriander, and orange.
In 2017, we will see the availability and variety of nonalcoholic options continue to grow even more. Along with the increase in options, we can expect our choices to become more intentional and better integrated with our long-term dreams, goals and life purpose. Ruari Fairbairns, Founder of the alcohol-free movement “One Year No Beer”, has experienced this change personally and has seen it in other converts of the program: "I'd always dreamed of achieving so much, and part of me suspected the booze was holding me back. Now I can say with absolute authority, “The booze was holding you back, mate”.
By: Nicole Celentano Gallagher
live a brown dog life
It has taken me awhile to write this post, as I am still grieving the loss of our Camouflage Girl "Cammie". In fact, I have started and stopped writing several times.
I know everyone thinks their dog is the best, but Cammie was THE best dog ever!
The name of my coaching business is Tactical Brown Dog because of the effect our beautiful, chocolate lab had on our family. She taught us how to live and in her death we will find life. I always had a unique ability to help others with everything from being a good listener to analyzing options, setting goals and holding my friends accountable. Cammie did the same for me. She was my best friend, my ally and my conscience. This led me to my desire to help others... to pay it forward. I became a Life Coach to honor my dog and to make a difference. My passion has turned into a dream with realization. Helping people find focus and direction, while gaining physical benefits... with the help of nature and dogs. If you stay with me on this journey, you will soon see accessories and bags for purchase. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to provide research, education and awareness of Lyme Disease and Lyme Nephritis in Dogs... in memory of Cammie.
Cammie was only four years old when she was diagnosed and she "hung on", with A LOT medications and food restrictions, for approximately three months . It was heartbreaking to watch her fight a losing battle. I researched and found a vet who seemed to be the foremost authority on Lyme Nephritis. She was affiliated with Penn Vet. I sent her an
e-mail desperately pleading for her to help our dog. She answered with genuine concern and was willing to listen to our current course of treatment, even though she was on sabbatical, overseas.
Cammie was always happy and loving. She was the most loyal dog I have ever had and she was my best friend. My oldest son, Chamber 1, left for the Marines and I will admit, my life was moving way to fast and I just was not ready for the kids to grow up and out. In my search to find peace and get ahead of the anxiety and heartbreak, we got a puppy. That puppy had many "military related" names before we settled on "Camouflage Girl", Cammie for short. She quickly became the heart and positive energy in our home. While she was always loyal and loving with all of us, my middle son seemed to have a special connection with her. He took her everywhere and she slept in his room. My daughter went away to college and another Chamber of my heart was feeling empty. Chamber number 2 had cracks for some time before she left, because she was always "leaving" in some way. Then my middle son joined the Army. Chamber number 3. There are 4 chambers in the heart and I always say that each of my children represent a chamber. Chamber number 3 was a tipping point, now with greater than a 50% compromise, my heart was really struggling. My once open heart, was slowing emptying. My youngest son, thankfully, is only 10 years old and is still home for a bit. That 4th chamber is full! Cammie was always the constant, with unconditional love. She filled the chambers intermittently when the older kids would be away.
When I woke up one morning in April 2016, and she did not get up with me, I knew something was wrong. As the day went on, she seemed to be more lethargic and not herself. She tried to be a good dog and she would rally to follow any commands. She looked at me with an apathetic and concerned look. I knew in my heart and my gut this was more than just an odd bad day. We went to the vet where she was very quickly diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Damn those deer in the backyard! I had always enjoyed seeing them, as I grew up in Florida and we lived in the "concrete jungle", with no wildlife to be found, with the exception of alligators. Moving to Pennsylvania, I always admired it's picturesque beauty with the changes each season. I was always wide-eyed with amazement when I saw all the deer in our yard. I fed them, in fact. Cammie would chase them... and inevitably always come back after they outran her. We followed the recommendations and she was vaccinated per protocol. How could she get Lyme Disease? I was now beginning to not like the deer. My oldest son had also been diagnosed with Lyme Disease several years back. He recovered without incident, thankfully. The vet told me that the vaccine does not always cover the complete 12 months and that is how dogs can get Lyme Disease even if they are vaccinated. The vet said she came up positive very quickly and that she needed to stay there for a few days to receive IV fluids. I was alone and scared. I didn't want to leave her, but I wanted her to get the care she needed. I left her there and I went home to cry. I feverishly scoured the internet for answers and support. I would visit Cammie 2-3 times a day while she was in the hospital. It was very quickly explained to me that she had a very poor prognosis. She did not have a straight-forward case of Lyme Disease, but rather a very complicated case of Lyme Nephritis. Her kidneys were were failing. My heart was broken. Lyme nephritis is seen in <1–2% of Lyme seropositive dogs, with an average onset at 5–6 years. Labrador and Golden Retrievers are predisposed to this condition.
I became determined to find a cure and that she would beat the odds. Over the next several weeks, she would have good days and bad days. Our days revolved around her medications and diet. She was taking 8 pills each morning and 7 each evening. We researched nutrition and followed every holistic approach that we could. Grandma, the kids and I all would cook her fresh chicken, rice, ground turkey, vegetables, etc. All low sodium, low phosphate, protein was a balancing act, etc. She would not eat the special kidney care dog foods. Her medications were very costly and getting her to take them was definitely a process of trial and error, along with trickery and variation. Cammie was eating better than the rest of the family. She was hungry and was still eating, albeit she became very picky. She became addicted to ice... in particular the crushed ice from Sonic that came in the blue coconut water slushy. She also started to only drink from the toilets, which she had never done. Keeping the lids closed became a new norm. When we would go to the vet to have a urinalysis, I would hold my breath. Some days the vet seemed cautiously optimistic. The Penn Vet tweaked some of her medications and she too was somewhat happy with the days when her BUN and Creatinine levels (kidney function studies) were improving, but overall cautioned me that this disease is fatal and has a poor prognosis. The roller coaster ride was becoming nauseating and dizzying. Sleepless nights from my gripping fear that I would wake to find her unresponsive. She was not alone in this fight! But as the weeks drew on she could not keep anything down, no matter what we tried. On July 22, 2016, she was more lethargic than previous days. She was craving ice water only, but then would not even keep that down. We filled the puppy pool with water to let her have some splash time, which she loved. She climbed in and did circles before lying down. She looked at me with pathetic and heart-wrenching sadness. I knew when this day came, I would just know. But my heart was not ready...
I loved my Cammie and could not imagine our home without her, but I did not want her to suffer. I called the vet and took her in that evening. I still held out hope that she would come home again. It was a very short visit. Our vet was very empathetic and honest that "she was ready" and that her body was shutting down. The decision to put her to sleep was the most difficult decision that I have had to make since my divorce. (I am thankful that my cousin met me at the vet to hold Cammie's paw and support me during this horrible moment).
I could not get up off the floor. This all seemed surreal and unfair. The thought of going home without my best friend, the dog who saw me through my children growing up and out, relationships, anxiety issues, all the losses that have chipped away at me... this was unbearable. It was as if 3/4 of my heart were instantly empty. I sat in my car in the parking lot, sobbing hysterically and unable to breath. After what seemed like forever, I drove home in a fog and could not go inside the house with just a collar and leash. I sat outside on the Adirondack chair, watching cars drive up my street, for what seemed like another forever. My daughter came home with my youngest son. I had a brief moment of peace that I was not alone. Cammie will forever be in our hearts and she will always be the strength that carried me through. She was always there for me. My fears were calmed with Cammie by my side, but now she is gone because of some tiny tick. Ticks Suck!!!!!
Tactical Brown Dog's mission is forever changed and we are committed to donating for research, education and awareness of Lyme Nephritis in Dogs.
My heart seemed to have stop that day, along with Cammie's. I felt paralyzed and unable to move. It became a year of losses that were simply too much to handle. In my concerned search to find myself and my purpose, I have been busy getting my coaching certifications, researching life coaching strategies, planning and executing specific realistic steps, studying human behavior, educating myself on the dog/human connection and dedicating myself to helping others who are feeling "lost", in a unique way that includes fitness, outdoors/nature and our beloved friend, the dog... using the life lessons my dog taught me. Walk and talk "off the leash".
LIVE A BROWN DOG LIFE
Browns and greys are perfect colors for many things; brown puppies are adorable, milk chocolate is brown, grey walls in your home are classic and chic, Fifty Shades of Grey sold over one hundred million copies. But, too much of anything is bad; brown puppies sometimes leave brown messes, milk chocolate can cause unwanted weight gain, the grey walled rooms require pops of color accents, even FSG has a red room.
February in the northeast can be downright dismal and depressing with the dullness of brown and grey day after day. It seems like forever since you've felt the warmth of the sun on your face and the “brey days” are turning your grey matter blue. Holiday bills are high, temperatures are low, and the days are way too short. It is the middle of winter and the winter blues are the only pop of color accenting your browns and greys.
It’s right around this time every year when you start to feel a little bummed. You don't have to wait until Spring to get out of your funk and start smiling again. Here are 9 scientifically proven ways to lift your spirits and ease the winter blues… err browns, greys and blues.
1. Brighten your environment. When your body is craving more daylight, sitting next to an artificial light—also called a light box—for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Opening blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sitting closer to windows can also help provide an extra dose of sunshine.
2. Eat smarter. Foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
3. Simulate dawn. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.
4. Exercise. A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only. Try yoga. to find your inner self and peace. Yoga is food for the heart and soul.
5. Tune in. In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term. Choose your genre and exercise the “brey days” away.
6. Plan a vacation. The beach is calling. Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness.
7. Help others. Spending time at the soup kitchen for the local shelter or volunteering your time can improve mental health and life satisfaction. The act of helping others is rewarding and humbling.
8. Get outside. Spending time outside (even when it's chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels.
9. Reconnect. Reconnecting with friends and spending time laughing and sharing makes memories that comfort the soul. This does not mean via social media, but rather Face-2-Face.
Don’t get stuck sitting in your room with grey walls, your adorable chocolate lab puppy and a box of chocolates, while reading FSG… sans a Valentine. You can always paint your walls orange and adopt another puppy. Orange is the happiest color! Or you can wait for Spring… it will be here soon!
"The Universe seeks balance. In seeking balance, our part of the Universe creates everything with two poles. Everything has it's opposite. Like has dislike, black has white, light has dark, hot has cold". -execonn
My best friend and I have known each other for almost 25 years. In all those years we have seen marriages, divorces, babies, countless jobs, etc. In our younger years we were carefee and living in the moment. As we have grown, we have often discussed "the Universe" and whether or not it dictates our paths. We have shared EVERY single corner of our worlds. The one thing I keep questioning: the universe demanding balance. Is it possible that we are two people whose lives are so connected...or, disconnected...that we are living polar opposite lives? We have NEVER both been happy or content at the same time. Like clockwork, if one of our lives starts to be filled with joy and positives, the other's will be taking a downward spiral. How can this be? We are best friends. We support each other through everything. We remind each other to remain positive and work on ourselves constantly. We rejoice in each other's accomplishments and good fortune. But, on some deeper level, we know...We feel the shift in the Universe. It is not a good thing. It is a pull in the wrong direction for one of us, always. If we cease to be friends would we still be the polar opposites? Can we affect the Universe with our mental state?
The ancients say "To change your mental state, one must change their vibration, by deliberately turning your attention onto a more desirable state. If you are sad, focus on remembering times when you were happy. One does not have to get rid of the darkness, just bring a candle into the room and the darkness will disappear."
The Law of Compensation is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If the pendulum swings one way, it must always swing back the other way. Much like my best friend and I and our ever-opposite lives that oscillate between happiness and sadness. To know the highs, one must know the lows. It is all relative. In other words, if you have never known sadness or low, how would you recognize happiness or the highs in life? Mentally, however, it is possible to escape the lows by rising above with our thoughts.
"You only get to keep what you give away". The Universe is a giant mirror, always reflecting ourselves back to us. -Edgar Cayse. We are always compensated for what we do. Every thought we think, every action, every deed, creates results both directly and indirectly.