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
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.
No one told me that life was a game of Musical Chairs...
At a certain age, the music stops and you're left without a chair, i.e. a partner. If you stand for too long, you will get tired...you will collapse from exhaustion.
In my twenties most people thought I was pretty, smart and happy. That I could have anyone and anything I wanted.
I always had a boyfriend, I was a successful ER nurse, living a carefree life. I was NEVER alone. In my recent marriage, I was very happy with a successful husband and 7 children. We lived in a beautiful suburban home with a pool, always entertaining friends and family. We traveled the world! An amazing and perfect life, until my world crashed down with his infidelity. Since my divorce, I lost a sense of who I am or who I was. I sometimes do not even believe those times actually ever were.
I am lonely now, tired of making all the decisions... aching for a human connection. Still, though, by outward appearances, people assume I am happy and loved. That surely since I have remained a somewhat attractive, kind and smart woman, I must not be lonely, but I am very lonely and I am struggling to find love and belonging. I am grateful for my children and the love that we share. It is a different love that I miss. One they cannot be responsible for. The holidays, especially, can be harsh and unbearable. All the Christmas music playing, everyone is "dancing", yet there are still no chairs available.
I have no real friends left. I have moved a lot and therefore I lost my friends along the way. My life had revolved around his friends and family, whom I lost when the marriage crumbled. With the busy world we live in, no one has time to stay connected or to make time to foster a new relationship. I want to feel loved and give love. Something I once took for granted, now eludes me...
Left feeling as though shattered is the new state of my being. All the King's Horse and All the King's Men Could Not Put Me Back Together Again. This in no way means that I am an unlovable person. There is someone for everyone, right? Where is my accepting someone...my chair?
Musical Chairs. The music stopped and I did not get a chair. I was too busy looking for the best and most comfy chair...A chair is a chair...or is it? Should we be picky and wait for a chair that will hold us for years to come or settle for the folding chair that can collapse and fall away? I'm exhausted and I can no longer stand. I need a place to sit and someone to depend on...to support me...to give me rest...to tell me everything will be okay. It used to be that men gave up chairs for women. This is no longer an option...everyone wants a damn chair!
In my quest to find a chair and find myself, perhaps I should become a maker of chairs. Really comfy and safe chairs.
Chairs that play their own music. Then the music would never stop and I could both dance and have my chair for the occasional support.
A disorganized home creates stress...emotionally, mentally, and physically. Too much stuff in our homes is one of the greatest stress triggers. When we have a lot of stuff and disorganization in our homes, we can become overwhelmed and it can cause chronic anxiety and restlessness.
For most of us, all this "stuff" accumulates over time. We don’t notice how much stuff we are accumulating until we hit a breaking point. Often it's a major life event — such as a move, death, marriage, divorce, or even empty nesting – that forces us to find organization and balance...to simplify, so that we can move on free from the weight of objects that have outlived their usefulness to us or that carry memories of the past.
Organize your home...organize your mind. Take the time to put your home in order and your thoughts will become clearer. I have read the Kon-Mari Method, which I found helpful and definitely simplifying. I must caution that I did throw away A LOT of things that I have needed since. It may be that I was a bit impulsive in my attempt to gain control and peace instantly. There is no magic remedy for the clutter and chaos that has built up over time.
Sometimes, in this rush-rush, extremely fast-paced and seemingly disposable world we live in, we are too quick to discard people and things. We believe that out of sight is out of mind, but the people and memories that truly impact us, cannot be erased...they always resurface.
EVERYTHING IN MODERATION...Eat often (small amounts), Stay open to Love (not everyone has rock climbing skills), Cherish every Breath (we only get a finite number), Practice Yoga (nourishes the body and mind), Stay Humble (be a better you, Be Kind to Everyone you meet (you never know what people are going through or why your paths have crossed), Be Kind to Yourself (you are doing the best that you can-this life is not easy), Laugh often (it burns calories), Laugh at yourself (this builds humility), Be Good company (you attract who and what you are), Spend Time with your Family (remember whens are what life is about).