7/23/2015

Inspiring Women //Audrey Bodisco

Inspiring Women // Audrey Bodisco

Hello friends! I’m back with the next Inspiring Women interview and am so happy to share it today. Sometime last year I met Audrey Bodisco via Instagram and we’ve been connected ever since. What I love about her posts is that she shares all of her life as a new mama and artist, not just the parts that look good on social media. When you read about her experiences and life you feel like you’re really getting a glimpse into her world and feels authentic and totally her. As a woman who tries to share honestly and create a level of intimacy in our virtual world, I immediately felt a kinship with Audrey and wanted to learn more of her story.

In addition to being a mama and wife, Audrey is a talented artist. She creates quiet, minimalist watercolor paintings that evoke the same lightness and simplicity I get from her interior photographs. Today we dive deep into the practice of surrender, the importance of connecting to nature and trusting your intuition as a mama.

Inspiring Women // Audrey Bodisco
When did you know you wanted to be a Mom?
It took me a long time to commit to the idea of having a child. It happened gradually. I started noticing mothers and their children more and more and began to feel the desire to have a family of my own. But it took until I was about 35/36 years old. After an awkward conversation with my husband, who was understandably surprised by my sudden change of heart, we stewed on the idea for a bit and then it was like, ‘ok, let’s do this.’

Share three of your favorite and most challenging aspects of Motherhood thus far.
1. Getting over the whole birthing thing was a big challenge and a great introduction into the selflessness of motherhood. To be specific, I had a natural birth plan and that went out the window when we learned River was both breech and had IUGR. I was going to have to deliver him early, either by being induced if the doctors could externally flip him or by c-section if the procedure failed. I was really upset about that and also terrified to go under the knife. Many people advised me that as time passed, the way in which River came into this world would not matter to me once I held him in my arms. They were right. And I learned that a mother doesn’t always get to do what she wants. It’s all about River now and I’m totally ok with that.

2. Breastfeeding has been a continuing challenge to me. I thought it would come so naturally! But premature infants can have more difficulty latching due to their small mouths (plus River had a severe tongue-tie) and I ended up with mastitis and now thrush! We’ve been through the wringer, he and I, but the deepest bonds I’ve made with River have been while breastfeeding. It’s such a powerful and heart-exploding experience for a mother.

3. The realization that I did, indeed have what it takes to be a mother.

Inspiring Women // Audrey Bodisco

Who are the women in your life that you look up to?
This is a really interesting question for me. The women in my family never got along and have modeled some very toxic behavior. It’s really sad. I myself have had a complicated and estranged relationship with my own mother. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 15 years old. The years prior to her diagnosis were honestly terrifying for me. I didn’t have much faith in the feminine. Nowadays I do. I look up to all mothers – we have the hardest job.

What motivates you to create?
A desire to communicate and connect with others. To put what’s in my heart to paper and release it into the world. It’s very cathartic for me.

Inspiring Women // Audrey Bodisco

Is connecting to nature something that you value?
Very much so. I’ve always had a love and respect for nature and animals. These were values my father encouraged in my older brother and I as children. As an adult I became an avid rock climber, spending weekends and all vacations climbing all over North America and Europe. Climbing and camping, getting dirty and sun-soaked – those were some of the best years of my life.

How do you establish harmony within your new family?
I’m still struggling with that. Currently it’s feeling overwhelming – it’s hard to be the best mother and wife you can be when you’re up all night and have such little time to yourself throughout the day.

Inspiring Women // Audrey Bodisco

Name three books that you refer to often.
1. Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.
2. The New Father by Mitchell Beazley.
3. What to Expect the First Year by Eisenberg, Murkoff, and Hathaway.

Have you ever struggled with self care in your life? How did you navigate that?
I have. I’ve struggled with my perception of body image pretty much my entire life. It took me getting pregnant to start REALLY taking care of myself, to be more gentle on myself. Before my pregnancy I would work out and limit food intake to an unhealthy level. And I still was never happy with how I looked.

During my pregnancy I continued to exercise, maybe more than I should have, but I scaled things way, way back. I focused more on keeping my heart and lungs strong, my muscles and connective tissues limber, and my body nourished. I took the responsibility of pregnancy really seriously by eating only organic foods and I stuck to my plant-based diet the whole way through, limiting sugar and any processed or refined foods.

Post baby I’ve wrestled a bit with the extra ‘softness’ of my body, but I recognize the profound experience of giving birth and breastfeeding outweigh any silly expectations or aspirations I might have for the way my body looks.

Inspiring Women // Audrey Bodisco

What advice would you give to new Mamas?
It can’t be said enough: follow your instincts above all else! The doctors, your family and friends, other mothers, and Google don’t know you and your baby as intimately and deeply as you.

Oh, and consider encapsulating your placenta. The benefits far outweigh any of the ick factor. I personally feel it aided in my quick recovery from my c-section, and helped me keep my sanity in those exhausting first few weeks of motherhood.

What are you most grateful for?
My husband. He’s my rock.

7/19/2015

Coconut Cilantro Cooler

Coconut Cilantro Cooler by Ashley NeeseHello friends! I haven’t shared a recipe in a while and I’ve been looking forward to posting this cooler, it’s the perfect antidote to this summer heat!

A few months back I was invited to contribute a series of recipes to my friends over at Freunde von Freunden. This recipe was included in our feature and I wanted to share it on the blog too. I had a blast making this recipe which was inspired by a delicious coconut ice cream I had years ago in San Francisco. I love pairing fresh herbs in sweet drinks and smoothies. It makes for such a punchy flavor and has loads of health benefits to boot!

Coconut Cilantro C ooler by Ashley Neese

Coconut Cilantro Cooler by Ashley Neese

Coconut Cilantro Cooler by Ashley Neese

Coconu tCilantro Cooler by Ashley Neese

The beauty of this cooler is it uses stevia as the sweetener which is a zero on the glycemic index. If you are watching your sugar intake stevia is a wonderful alternative. It’s very sweet so start with 5 drops and work your way up! If stevia isn’t your thing feel free to add a couple of dates or a small spoon full of raw honey to this instead.

Coconut milk is wonderful in the summer for replenishing electrolytes and the aloe juice is hydrating for the skin. Cilantro is a powerful heavy metal detoxifier which is important to make part of your regular wellness regime.

The secret ingredient in this cooler is the lemongrass essential oil which adds another cooling  element to the drink. This is really beneficial hen we feel overheated. Because essential oils are so potent, just put a drop on a toothpick and stir the toothpick into the cooler. Trust me, don’t get crazy with the lemongrass oil, it will make the cooler bitter.

Coconut Cilantro Cooler by Ashley Neese

Coconut Cilantro Cooler by Ashley Neese

Coconut Cilantro Cooler by Ashley Neese

Coconut Cilantro Cooler

Serves 2

 

Ingredients //

  • 1 young coconut
  • 1 c. Aloe juice
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 5-10 drops liquid stevia
  • 1 drop lemongrass essential oil on toothpick (see above)

 

Method //

Crack open the coconut with a sharp cleaver. Start by cutting off of the husk on the top then use the edge of your knife to crack it open completely. Here is a How-To video that shows you the best way to crack it.

Once opened, pour the coconut water directly into your blender.  Scoop the meat out of the shell. Use a small, sharp knife to remove brown, pieces of shell from the meat. Then add the meat to the blender.

Add the aloe juice and blend that with the coconut water and meat until smooth. Next add the cilantro, lime juice, stevia and lemongrass oil. Blend well.

Pour into glasses and serve.

The juice can be kept in the fridge for 1 day. Blend before serving. If you prefer a different sweetener, dates or raw honey would work really well in this.

 

Hope you are staying cool this weekend! Enjoy!

xoa

 

Photographs by Asami Zenri, pottery from my friends over at Individual Medley and ingredients from Thrive Market.

7/15/2015

Summer Sleep Remedies That Work

Summer Sleep Remedies with Traditional Medicinals by Ashley Neese

Sleeping is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Scientific research has proven what most of us know intuitively. Sleeping  is an essential ingredient for a sustainable healthy life.

During the summer, energy is often on high as we fill our schedules with social events and travel plans. While it is important to align with the season and enjoy the abundance of warm weather and light filled days, this can often leave us feeling burnt out.

It’s also natural to have a later bedtime in the summer than in the winter. When we’re living in tune with the vibrancy of summer, chances are we will attend a slew of celebratory gatherings and explore nature well into the evening hours. Learning how to balance that higher summer energy with quality sleep is really important, especially for those of us who tend to take on too much.

The flip side to the joyful abundant attitude of summer is one of agitation, exhaustion, and stress. Fire is the element associated with summer and it represents joy, transformation, and peak growth. It has an upward movement, or rather strong pull towards bringing to light what we have been cultivating all year. According to Chinese Medicine, too much of this fire element can produce anxiety, decreased immune function, and insomnia.

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the easiest ways to balance the fire element, relieve anxiety, and boost immunity. It’s amazing how much sleep affects our entire state of wellness; reason enough to get a handle on sleeping well.

Summer Sleep Remedies with Traditional Medicinals by Ashley Neese

If you find yourself struggling with summer sleeplessness you are not alone. To support yourself in the evenings create a bedtime ritual with some of my favorite summer sleep remedies. A simple breathing practice, restorative yoga pose and herbal teas are a good foundation for sleeping well. I’ve found two special teas from Traditional Medicinals that help me get a good night’s sleep. Both Nighty Night tea and Cup of Calm help me ease into sleep smoothly and leave me feeling refreshed in the morning.

Summer Sleep Remedies with Traditional Medicinals by Ashley Neese

Nighty Night Tea

Enjoying this mildly sweet tea with a hint of bitterness is a favorite evening ritual of mine. Nighty Night tea has several of my preferred herbs for promoting relaxation and relieving stress.*

Passionflower is a natural sleep aid that helps relax muscles and diminish stress. This beautiful flower has a long history for being used to address sleeplessness without leaving you groggy in the morning.

Chamomile is a sweet flower that has a long reputation for effectively addressing nervousness, and stress.

In addition, the herbs lemon verbena and spearmint contribute notes of citrus and a minty flavor to this pleasant-tasting tea.

Brew and consume this tea as directed on the package. On particularly hot days I let the tea come to room temperature before drinking. Drink Nighty Night when you need some assistance winding down in the evening or simply sleeping through the night.
Summer Sleep Remedies with Traditional Medicinals by Ashley Neese
Long Exhales

Grounding the nervous system is really important during the summer, especially where insomnia is concerned. Taking longer exhales helps soothe the frayed edges of our nerves and can quickly calm us down.

Breathe in and out through your nose. Make each exhalation 1-3 counts longer than the inhalation. This is an excellent breathing technique to practice before bed as it slows down our energy and mind. Stay focused on the breath and make sure each breath is full and smooth. Practice lying down in bed to help you drift off into sleep.

Summer Sleep Remedies with Traditional Medicinals by Ashley Neese
Cup of Calm

Lavender and catnip join forces in this soothing tea to help bring you peace of mind any time of day. Cup of Calm tea features a blend of herbs called nervines which help to nourish the nervous system.* This relaxing blend also includes the queens of calm: chamomile and passionflower.

Lavender offers a floral flavor and has sedative properties to help you slow down and relish in the present moment.

Catnip is a gentle and potent sleep-inducing herb that promotes rest and relaxation.

Brew and consume this tea as directed on the package. Enjoy Cup of Calm any time you need help reducing stress.* Enjoy this tea warm or at room temperature for maximum benefits.

Summer Sleep Remedies with Traditional Medicinals by Ashley Neese
Legs Up The Wall

This is an excellent pose for grounding at the end of a long summer day. It is a simple yet deeply restorative posture. Often times, if we’re not getting adequate sleep going to bed can increase anxiety because we’re so worried about not sleeping. Taking five or ten minutes to put your legs up the wall can make a huge difference. Learn more about this healing pose and all of its incredible benefits (from promoting sleep to increasing beauty).

We want to have energy in the summer and be present for every exciting moment. The best way to ensure you stay healthy and get to enjoy as much of this expansive season as possible it to take good care of your sleep.

Although the rise in temperatures and increased energy can make it challenging to wind down in the evenings, the remedies I’ve shared are my foundation for calming down and resting well. Summer is a time of action and expansion. It is the season to manifest dreams, feel the abundant sun energy all around us, and open our hearts to the compassion and wisdom we have been cultivating during the winter and spring. Quality sleep ensures we are able to enjoy the magic of summer, while taking care of ourselves on a deeper level.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

This post was sponsored by Traditional Medicinals.

7/13/2015

We Heal In Community

We Heal in Community by Ashley Neese

All of my years going to A.A. meetings taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my life: we heal in community. There is a special magic that reveals itself when we allow ourselves to let it all hang out in front of each other. Sharing honestly in a group of people with similar intentions sets our spirit free. It wasn’t until I started teaching and leading groups on my own that I recognized how much my A.A. experiences shaped the kind of leader I want to be today.

In my early years of getting sober it was critical for me to be part of a group of people that were not getting wasted. I needed a place to go, to listen, to share, to connect and to relate. I needed to hear every story of darkness, despair, tragedy, sorrow, pain and fear. I also need to hear that there was hope for someone who hated themselves as much as I did at the time. That it was possible to learn how to take care of myself and experience the laughter and joy that was dying to get out of my depleted, lifeless shell.

The day I raised my hand in an A.A. meeting and said “My name is Ashley and I’m an alcoholic,” was a defining moment, a radical step towards the light I had been running from since I could remember. It’s hard to pinpoint when it all happened, when the overwhelming bouts of anxiety and depression made themselves regular experiences in my life. For years therapists told me I took a turn towards the darkness when my parents split up. Or maybe it was the moment my mother left me crying on that soft beige couch at my psychologist’s office and told me that she never wanted to see me again. Or it was the night I got on the tour bus of an L.A. based rap group after their show, high as a kite, fifteen years old, wanting to lose my virginity as fast as possible because I didn’t believe it was sacred, that any thing in life mattered.

The moment that life changing phrase came out of my mouth, “I’m Ashley and I’m an alcoholic”, a weight the size of Georgia lifted from my center and I felt a flash of what I would later name relief come over my body. It took me years to begin to understand just what a big threshold I crossed over that day. It was the first time I admitted, to a group of strangers, that I was like them and that I couldn’t do my life alone anymore.

Fast forward over fourteen years later and I am still showing up and sharing my soul in community. I have experienced time and time again that when I share the truth with others in a safe space, it takes the power out of the pain, fear or frustration and allows me to live a little lighter, a little more free. There is a saying in the rooms that we are only as sick as our secrets. These days I make it a point to share honestly with friends and in groups on a regular basis to let the energy that is weighing me down start to evaporate. I want to travel light and they way that happens is with you.

I’ve had times in my life where I have stayed away from opening up in front of groups and while nothing terrible happened I didn’t feel as seen. Even after writing and blogging for years there is a very different energy when you are sharing your truth in front of live humans. You really have no where to hide! And that is what I love about it. I am done hiding. Period.

There are loads of studies out there that prove what we have known intuitively for ages, that we heal the best in community with others. A.A. worked for me because it was a group of people moving towards a common goal, a sober life. As I grew in my recovery and stopped defining my life by my past behaviors, I sought out communities where people were living in a way that resonated with my spirit on a deeper level. While the groups that I participate in have shifted over the years, the need to let myself be witnessed in front of others remains. In our ever advancing fast paced culture, coming together to share, heal and grow along side each other is more important that it has ever been. We need this real deal type of connection for ourselves, each other and the planet.

Today I have the honor and joy of teaching and leading groups of women where we slow down, celebrate each other, listen deeply and tap into our inner wisdom on levels that blow me away every time I show up to hold this sacred space. Since declaring my new moon intention to create a container for more women to heal and shine last year, I am in awe of how the groups have been growing and presenting themselves to me. Each time a woman comes to a circle with a new friend, I see the chain grow longer and the ripple effect reaching beyond what I ever imagined possible.

It’s been said in many traditions that the greatest spiritual teachers are the ones who have lived in darkness. While I don’t believe it’s an either/or scenario, I feel in my heart of hearts that even in the throes of my addiction I was created in this lifetime to help other women tap into themselves and change our world.

xoa

7/9/2015

Amethyst

Mineral Therapy // Amethyst

We’re back with the second installment of Mineral Therapy. I am very pleased to share the next mineral with your today. Amethyst is one of my favorite varieties of quartz. This beautiful stone has been used throughout history for protection, to open spiritual centers in the crown chakara, promote restful sleep and focus energy.

Historically amethyst has many uses  from everything to warding off drunkenness and bringing about a clear mind. The word amethyst comes from the Greek phrase, ‘without drunkeness’. Catholic Bishops wore amethyst rings to prevent getting drunk on mystical thinking. Kissing this ring was thought to keep people grounded in spiritual thought.

Ancient Egyptians valued the power of this cooling quartz and used it for self protection against nightmares and fearful thoughts. Amethyst was also carried by travelers to promote safety and

 

WHAT IS AMETHYST?

Amethyst is considered a semi precious stone and correlates to February on the birthstone chart. Amethyst is in the quartz family and gets its color from radiation, impurities and and presence of trace elements [Wikipedia]. The color of amethyst can range from light to deep purple and the most beautiful pieces come from eastern Brazil and Sri Lanka and the most expensive amethyst is from Siberia. Amethysts can be giant, the GIA in New York has one that is 164 pounds.

It is a variety of Quartz found in many locations around the world, and forms as transparent, terminated crystals of all sizes in geodes, clusters and as long single terminations. It is also found in vitreous masses and polished into wonderful specimens and personal talismans. The presence of manganese in clear Quartz produces Amethyst, while additional amounts of iron vary the purple coloration. Amethyst ranges in hue from pale red-violet to deep violet, and may be transparent or opaque. It is sometimes layered with white Quartz as Chevron Amethyst, found in combination with Cacoxenite, mixed with Citrine as Ametrine, or in rare cases, “rutilated” with Goethite. [Crystal Vaults]

Up until the 18th century amethyst was as pricey as rubies. Once it was discovered in such large quantities in Brazil the price dropped and it has remained a very inexpensive gemstone. These days amethysts can be found in a variety of jewelry and at new age shops all over.

 

HEALING BENEFITS

The first time I used amethyst for a headache I was amazed at the relief it brought. I placed a small piece on my forehead and rested for about fifteen minutes until the pain lessened significantly. Amethyst is known for helping with insomnia, dreaming, breathing issues, heart trouble, addiction, cravings and deepening spiritual development.

These days amethyst is still widely used to calm the mind and help one reach higher states of consciousness. It is an excellent choice for purifying electromagnetic energy, strengthening intuition and creates a protective layer around your aura which is very beneficial if you do any kind of work with others.

Amethyst activates the 6th chakra (third eye), the 7th chakra (crown) and the Etheric chakra (soul chakra). It is often used for those wishing to develop their psychic capabilities and advance metaphysical studies. Amethyst has the ability to focus energy and is often worn by healers during sessions with clients.

 

HOW TO USE

There are many ways to effectively work with amethyst. Try a few of the suggestions below to see what supports you right now. Above all, trust yourself when working with minerals. There is no right or wrong way to incorporate them into your life.

 

Place amethyst on your forehead to….

  • Relieve headaches and insomnia
  • To awaken your third eye, intuition center
  • Calm and focus your mind
  • Sooth the nervous system

 

Wear amethyst to….

  • Heal your heart and lungs
  • Protect your energy
  • Support romantic relationships and open to deeper levels of union with your partner

 

Meditate with amethyst for…

  • Increasing positive thoughts
  • Comfort yourself during a loss

 

Carry a small piece in your pocket for…

  • Help overcoming addictions and fears
  • Support staying clear and centered during the day
  • Assistance in work situations where you need to stand your ground
  • Reducing tendency to overspend or gamble

 

Place amethyst on your desk to….

  • Cleanse electromagnetic waves
  • Keep the energy clear and positive
  • Remind you that the answers are within
  • Amplify creative projects

 

Place amethyst under your pillow to…..

  • Support restful sleep
  • Reduce nightmares (great for children too)
  • Encourage pleasant dreams

 

/////

Is amethyst part of your life? How and why are you using it? Please share in the comment section.

 

xoa

© ASHLEY NEESE 2015