Apr 25

Coming Up For Air

Have you ever had a dream that you’re drowning?  One of those dreams where you feel like you can’t hold your breath for even one more second but somehow you do?  And then either you finally wake up gasping or suddenly you manage to break free and swim to the surface.  There is a moment in the dream that’s the turning point, when you feel like you just can’t take it anymore but somehow you find the strength to come up for air.

This is the turning point.  This is that moment where you decide that you have a choice, that you’re strong enough to make it and that it’s worth the struggle.  There is usually some discomfort involved in the early stages of recovery.  Change can be a scary thing; working through feelings can be painful.  For some of us there is guilt that needs to be laid to rest, truth that needs to be faced, or maybe someone we need to forgive or set free.  Sometimes it feels like it might be easier to keep our heads underwater and in fact it probably would be but then what?

Back to the dream analogy.  The decision to swim to the surface is not the easy way out.  It requires a burst of energy, a commitment, absolute determination to stay alive.  It’s worth the struggle because we know for a fact that there is air up there!  It’s just as true for us now, we know there is relief when you break through the surface.  There is life on the other side.  Once you commit and decide that there is no turning back you’ll find the strength.


May 04

Heroes in Recovery

Greetings!  Yes, Jane Doe is alive and well, but this blog has been quiet for quite some time. While the Jane Doe Recovery Facebook page did stay up and running, most of my writing has been focused on new projects and a new job that I started last year.  At one point I had considered simply turning this space into an archive site where people could reference information and look back on past entries. However it recently occurred to me that  this would serve nicely as a place to promote and share what I’m working on now. Much of the content here has found its way into the pages of the handbook and workbook for Miracle in Progress but most of what I’m writing lately has been dedicated to breaking the stigma of addiction and mental health issues as a lead advocate for Heroes in Recovery.

Heroes in Recovery is a movement committed to starting conversations that save lives and celebrating the stories of the individuals, friends and families who are in recovery from addiction and co-occurring disorders.  I was personally attracted to the cause because of the broad and inclusive focus on the breaking the stigma placed not only on those in active addiction but also in relation to the labels placed on those who face mental and emotional health issues. Sadly the stigma seems to apply during every phase of the process, impacting those who are in the midst of seeking help and even those who are living healthy lives in recovery.

I have found this to be true in so many different circumstances.  For anyone recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol the judgements are often harsh and shaming, for those of us living in recovery for grief, codependency, anxiety or depression there may be some pity  and maybe even some compassion but all contribute to a feeling of isolation.  The labels that society has placed on people who are honest about their difficulties only further the sense of division and hopelessness for those who still suffer.

In truth there are very few of us who reach adulthood without having endured some sort of trauma or least some challenges that have been painfully difficult to resolve. When we get honest about our personal stories the barriers and judgements start to fall away. In the recognition that we are not so very different we find understanding and the realization that we are not alone.  This is the mission of Heroes in Recovery:: to eliminate the social stigma that keeps individuals with addiction and mental health issues from seeking help, to share stories of recovery for the purpose of encouragement and inspiration, and to create an engaged sober community that empowers people to get involved, give back, and live healthy, active lives.

We spread this encouragement in many ways, holding events across the country to raise awareness and to carry a message of hope. Our primary events to date have been the Heroes 6K races that grow in number each year.  We also hold regular local events in some areas to make personal connections and increase a sense of fellowship in the community.  While I do play a part in the event process I also write for the Heroes blog.  It is my intention to share some of those posts here on janedoerecovery.com to increase awareness and the readership on the Heroes website.

Which brings us to my primary function as a lead advocate – collecting inspiring stories.  As it turns out everybody in recovery has one.  No matter what you are recovering from your experience can help break the stigma and make all the difference for someone who is still out there in the trenches looking for help.  You can click on this link for the Heroes website to share stories of recovery and tell them that Marta sent you or you can email me personally at jane@janedoerecovery.com and I can help you through the process.

Here’s to breaking the stigma with love,



Nov 25

Five Years Ago Today

From my amazingly strong and inspiring sister in law… About grief, healing and love that never ends.


Five years ago today and one day before Thanksgiving, TIM, my husband and the love of my life, passed away.  I have come to call November 25 my personal Ground Zero, the day when my whole world crumbled and life as I knew it, was completely obliterated.  Suddenly, I had entered a parallel universe – two worlds where everything co-existed but were separated by a chasm of contradictions so wide I didn’t think my mind would ever be able to reconcile them.  While the outside world saw my normal and  efficient self, my internal world was in shambles. My heart had shattered into a thousand agonizing pieces.  I was in pain and yet I was numb. I had never felt so alone and yet I found no comfort in being around people.  I knew Tim was gone but I talked about him as if he were still here. There was no question that he was ever coming back and yet I begged him with all my heart to come home and get me off this nightmarish rollercoaster ride. Tim and Death were so diametrically opposed because he had such a lust for life. He savored every moment of everything he experienced. He showed me how fun life could be. He was a survivor and, in my mind, he was supposed to live forever.


After the funeral and everyone had left, the tears had mercifully come. When they came, I could not stop until my body was limp and wrung dry as a rag. I cried myself to sleep and cried at every waking moment. I cried for him and all that he had agreed to go through to get well for our sake; for my children who would never experience the love and guidance of their father; for everybody who knew and loved him; for what our love had built in 21 years and for all our future plans and dreams that were now irrevocably gone. Lastly, I cried for the part of me that had died with him and the other piece left behind, now alone to navigate and rebuild a life that had turned into a wasteland.


Year after year, I avoided putting my thoughts about my grief journey in writing for fear that I would get too close and Ground Zero would swallow me up and I would never be able to climb out of its depths again. I made it my mission to get as far away from Ground Zero as possible. Everything became a conscious choice that my survival seemed to depend on. I chose to move forward – conquering one challenge after another that I put in my path. Surviving “triggers” became my daily goal. I forced myself to stand still and feel when grief came to wallop me with all its might so that when the next wave came, it no longer had the same power to hurt and devastate.


Contrary to romantic belief, time does not heal our wounded hearts. It just blunts our memory of the sharp edges of pain and grief. There will always be that sadness when I look back to where my journey began. I will always miss Tim with every fiber of my being for the remainder of my days. My loss has wrapped around my heart like scar tissue, attempting to make it whole again, imperfect as it is. Grief will never go away because it has become a part of who I am today.  


This Thanksgiving, among many blessings, I am most thankful for the transformative change that my loss has brought about in my life and the life lessons that came with it.  It has taught me that we grieve deeply because we have loved deeply.  Grief is not a one-time event but a life-long journey – we can heal from it but we will never get over it. With it, though, is a message of hope that we can survive it and make a new life for ourselves.  I have learned to trust that my God is bigger than my loss and He continues to give me the grace to come out of my grief time and time again, mercifully unscathed. It has taught me to be more compassionate toward myself and others, especially the kindred souls experiencing a similar loss that grief has brought into my reality.  It has taught me to let everyone who matters in my life know how much I love them every single day because life is short and death is a certainty that we can never prepare for. I have learned that even in the midst of experiencing our grief, it is okay to laugh, to live, to experience and to enjoy new moments again.  This is what Tim would want me to do – to continue to live and savor life for the both of us. And I will do so to honor him. Lastly, I am thankful for all the love and support of friends and family during our difficult moments through the years and who continue to be there for us. God bless each and every one of you.


I no longer fear Ground Zero nor Death. The duality of loss has shown me that we never truly experience life until we experience death. Even if we spend the rest of this life without our beloved, our days on this earth are numbered and every day we live is a step closer to reuniting with them. This is my biggest take away from living life to the fullest and also my greatest comfort. So for Nau, I go and live!



Grief never ends,

But it changes.


It’s a passage,

Not a place to stay.


The sense of loss must give way,

If we are to value

the life that was lived.


Grief is not a sign of weakness,

Nor lack of faith.

It is the price of love.  – Author Unknown

Oct 20

A Humble Posture

Every Sunday I teach a Recovery Yoga class/Wellness Meeting with a principle focus and this week we’re working on humility. It’s not always an easy subject to address. Humbling experiences can carry many complex emotions and often include something that resembles shame. Recognizing the difference between humility and shame is a key factor in recovery. Humility is not meant to bring us down but rather to build us up and teach respect for ourselves and others. It provides a clear perspective that takes us out of denial. It leads to contentment, it defines our purpose and teaches respect and gratitude for one’s true place.

The Steps that lead to the principle and practice of humility usually include processing painful experiences from the past. We admit the harms that we have caused, the resentments we have carried and the shame that we tend to carry long after the initial incidents have passed. We are learning that humility does not need to infer weakness and that shame will never serve the purpose of healing.

Humbling ourselves is about finding the strength of character to do what needs to be done. We can begin to see ourselves as we are, both our inner excellence and shortcomings, with loving acceptance for the whole person. While taking full responsibility for all of our actions we are also learning to humbly ask for the help we need to heal.  So often the simple act of identifying our own shame and perceived weakness becomes the catalyst that leads to the resources and tools for uncovering our greatest strengths.

The work we do in any practice requires a humble mental posture to be of any real value. We are learning to accept ourselves as we are right now and surrender to the grace of a Higher Power. This is actually something that can be expressed in a very physical way. As we lovingly accept our limitations and use our energy responsibly in physical practice we can more easily recognize what needs changing in everyday life. We step away from the mental struggle to connect with the peace and the wisdom that is available within.  As our perspective becomes clearer we find that self-honesty always lifts us up and eventually it changes us. The Ego, and every defect of character, is overcome through this ongoing practice of surrender.

Consider creating your own physical practice and the ways that you can incorporate the spiritual principles of recovery. If you’re looking for some direction there are many resources here on this site and on our Wellness Meetings page for making any physical exercise a meditation on healing.

Contentment, strength and the power to change are all found here as we practice turning our lives over to God and trust Him to guide us in all of our affairs.


For more information on Recovery Yoga and Wellness Meetings visit  http://wellnessmeetings.com/


Oct 15

Hard Work or Hardly Working?

I am happy to report that the companion workbook for Miracle in Progress is finally finished and out on Amazon. You can follow the links here or at the bottom of the page to check it out for yourself!  The idea of getting these two books published was an endeavor that seemed like it might be a little too grand for me at the start.  It took some time and it took a lot of work but the entire experience has been a huge blessing.  I do have to admit that this blog, this beautiful space that so lovingly provided the feedback to create much of the content in the books,  always ends up being the first thing to go when the time comes to sit down and put it all together with a cover on it.  Thank you so much for your patience, for your support and for the many ways that you lift me up with your comments here and on the Facebook page every single day.  It is a great joy as well as a huge relief for me to be back and devoting my writing time to the blog.

So on to the subject at hand.  Why can something like a blank computer screen feel so exhilarating one day and so completely daunting the next?  There were days when the words would flow out and I really did feel like I was hardly working.  It was fun!  I felt inspired, connected and useful.  Time would fly and sometimes I could barely pull myself away.  But sometimes I would wake up the next morning feeling optimistic and productive only to find myself wordless… and sometimes really discouraged.  The seconds, minutes and hours would tick by with little more than a few flurries of activity and a lot of back spacing.  Those days were hard work and often left me with very little energy or desire to get busy with anything that involved stringing words together.  Guess how I felt about sitting down to write the morning after that kind of experience?  Not totally stoked, but it was important to me, so I just kept showing up and putting in the time until everything finally fell into place.


“The greatest weariness comes from work not done.” – Eric Hoffer

I provide that simple example as just one of many in my life but I’m sure you have your own.  How do we get past those moments when the task at hand seems too difficult?  Or too boring?  Or too unpleasant?  And what about those that are ongoing and never really finished?  Even when we love what we are doing it’s not always easy.  It’s true that it can be daunting, and at times discouraging, but the only way to succeed at anything is to keep showing up and put in the work. 

Which bring us, of course, to my favorite subject.  What does all this have to do with recovery?  Well, I may have a blog and a couple of books to show for the last three years of my life but my daughter has something far better.  She’s got this chip.  This incredibly beautiful three year chip.  She gets up every morning and some days there is inspiration everywhere, and time flies, and she feels useful and excited, and connected, and it doesn’t feel like work at all.  But then are there other days when the seconds, the minutes and the hours tick by.  Days when she’s left discouraged and with very little energy or desire to get busy with anything that involves recovery.  But she does it anyway.  She shows up and does the work, even when it’s hard. 

I know I have the same experience with my own recovery and I would imagine that most of you do too.  No matter what we are recovering from, no matter how long we’ve been working at it, there will be times when recovery feels like hard work.  Whether it feels too simple to be worth anything or too difficult to bear, when it feels easy and especially when it feels the hardest, we keep showing up.  We take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time, and by the grace of a loving Higher Power those hard times become fewer and farther between.

We know that it really does work if you work it.  Is it a grand endeavor?  Why yes, yes it almost always is…  But is it an extravagant promise?  We think not.  Whether it happens quickly or slowly, healing is always worth it.


Miracle in Progress Workbook

Available now on Amazon!











Jul 22

Vision Clearing Exercise

“Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The World gives us is a way to change the projector—mind—rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.” ― Byron Katie


I often wonder why the same kinds of people, situations and dramas appear over and over again…. I mean when we’re not actively creating it with our behavior.  Could it be something far less obvious?  Like worry?  Fear? Too much energy going in the wrong directions?… Sometimes all I can see is what could go wrong and I start searching for what I could DO to change it. There is a sense of near panic when I realize that the answer is “nothing” and then even my prayers turn desperate, pleading, begging. The only solution is to step back and clear my perspective by changing the way I THINK.


Whenever you notice a negative thought, just as soon as you notice it, take a deep breath and try this:


- First imagine that negative image as a smudge on the lens of your mind. It’s actually dirt that is at the very least clouding your vision or even worse poisoning your thought life. It has to go!

- Then take a moment to recognize this nasty smudge for what it really is (just a thought) and its location. It’s important to note that your thoughts and feelings are yours. As much as you might like to believe that they are justified by something outside of you they are not really caused by external entities and circumstances. Remind yourself that the reverse is also true, any negative image you hold will not change any person or situation for the better.

 - This negative thought does not need to be a part of you or something that defines you.  Whether it is resentment, fear, anger or worry it is simply an image and it can be removed. It cannot possibly serve who you are or who you are becoming.

 - Now start replacing that image, that thought, with a picture of yourself, your true, genuine and loving Self, very carefully and thoroughly removing that smudge from the lens of your mind. Take a few slow deep breaths and visualize washing it away with your loving intentions. Stay with this meditation until you really feel that the negative thought has been removed.

 - Take a few moments to enjoy the sense of clarity, the relief, that comes from this simple act of mental cleansing. Look around now at everything that is good, notice everything that is positive in your life right now. Affirm that you and you alone are responsible for keeping the lens of your mind clean.


This is an empowering exercise that can be used over and over again, especially if you notice yourself engaging negativity and adding to it with more distressing scenarios or verbalizing them. You are not a victim. YOU are the one who chooses the thoughts that will eventually create your reality. Take a deep breath. Pray for peace. Let go. And look again from a new and quieter space.


The dramas that play out in the world around us are just reminders to clear the lens. It’s your mind. Clean it up and you WILL SEE.




May 23

Looking Within

In the previous post Addicted to Looking Away we talked about the dangers of resisting reality and the many methods people use to avoid the present moment.  Today I want to offer a practical strategy for becoming fully present and surrendering to what is…  We need to develop a method for looking within.

It’s called Ardha-Kurmasana or Half Tortoise Pose. This is, in my opinion, the mother of all postures for people in recovery.  Ardha-Kurmasana is an amazingly powerful recovery and rejuvenation pose offering maximum relaxation and healing.  It is said to provide the equivalent to eight of hours of sleep.  Now I’m not sure if that’s an accurate claim but I can tell you I spent two nearly sleepless years using this pose to keep my sanity.  I believe anyone in any kind of recovery can benefit from this one simple meditative practice.  Nearly every expression of the spiritual malady stems from a sense of stress when we are faced with perceived discomfort.  Yoga, and this pose in particular, provides physical action that can be taken to effectively alter your physical state and relieve that stress.  When that immediate physical burden is lifted we find the clarity and perspective needed to step back and move into acceptance and peace.

Take this position and connect deeply with the breath, keeping it slow and rhythmic. Maintain your breathing as your primary focus throughout.  If your attention strays come back to noticing the sensations of the breath moving through the body.  Notice every detail of what breathing feels like.  Instead of struggling with your thoughts, just notice them, put your focus back on connecting with the breath and using it to keep the pose active. This is a potent meditative and healing posture.  Be sure to scroll all the way down and read on for more on the many compelling reasons to spend time in Half Tortoise every day!


Step by Step:

  • Sit back on your heels in Hero’s Pose with the knees and feet together.
  •  Inhale and lift both arms overhead. Bring the palms together and cross the thumbs. Arms should be straight, biceps touching your ears. Straighten your back and feel the stretch.
  • Exhale and slowly pivot down from your waist until the outside edge of your little fingers, the tip of your nose and forehead touch the floor. Arms stay active reaching forward, hips stay relaxed back toward the heels.
  • To come out of the pose engage the core and come up slowly all in one solid piece. Release your arms to your sides.  You may stay in Hero’s pose sitting back on your heels to further your meditation or take another comfortable position to continue with the breath and reflection.
  • You can stay in this pose as long as it feels comfortable; there is no minimum or maximum timeframe on this one.  Repeat as many times and as often as needed.


Benefits :

  • Stimulates the pineal and pituitary gland helping to regulate serotonin and melatonin. This helps to balance sleep cycles, relieve insomnia, prevent anxiety, lift addictive cravings and cure depression. Generally beneficial for all forms of stress.
  • Opens the chakra at the third eye. When this Chakra is balanced we experience high levels of mental ability and clarity. We are able to clearly distinguish between our own imaginations and reality. When we live with a balanced Third Eye chakra, we experience overall good health. Clear thinking and focus lead to the proper combination of logic and emotion. A healthy third eye chakra will encourage intuition, empathy for others and build trust in oneself.
  • Half Tortoise can actually help you live longer. This posture results in a rush of blood to the brain cells. This improves brain function by ensuring that the brain receives sufficient nutrition. With regular practice, this exercise is also said to activate the dormant cells in the brain, slowing the “normal” degradation of brain cells to slow the process of aging.
  • The increased circulation to the brain enhances memory and mental clarity.
  • Increases circulation to facial muscles, helping to prevent and erase the signs of age.
  • Massages and stretches the lungs, creating a dramatic increase in oxygenation of the blood required for every healing and rejuvenation in every cell in the body. This is also very helpful for people suffering from respiratory disorders.
  • An effective posture for ailments of the digestive system, helps counter Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • An excellent exercise for those suffering from migraines.
  • The posture is also said to helpful for diabetics as it may help in controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Relieves tense necks and shoulders.

May 09

Addicted to Looking Away

I spent some time this week checking out the Recovery 2.0 online conference and I have to say that it was a pretty impressive gathering of recovery and wellness experts.  Of all the incredible information presented this one line stuck in my head, “I’m addicted to looking away.”  Tommy Rosen said it in his interview with Nikki Myers and I think it might be the best explanation I’ve ever heard for the many ways in which the spiritual malady plays out in our lives.  When looking at the present moment gets to painful it’s natural to want to look away.  We all do it sometimes, but when looking away from what’s real becomes a habit we’ve got a problem.

The basic idea is that anything we do to escape the present moment can become an addiction of sorts.  It doesn’t have to be drugs or alcohol, but those are certainly two very common methods for escaping the reality of current circumstances.  In fact anything we do habitually to avoid facing reality will almost certainly harm us in some way.  The lessons of today are not always pretty and the blessings are not always easy to see. Sometimes they come in packages that are hard to look at and sometimes they come in moments so small that we might miss them altogether if we’re not paying attention.

Oddly enough it seems that most often even the worst of what happens in the present moment is bearable.  It may be uncomfortable, some of it is actually painful, but the most excruciating part of the present is usually created by our own thinking patterns.  Our obsession with the past and the future, along with worry and the rehashing of events, creates an exaggerated fear of being fully present.  We don’t have to be so afraid of what’s happening, in fact stuff happens all the time to everyone and eventually every crisis will pass. Fear is a feeling not an event. As much as we might like to deny it, our primary source of discomfort stems from what we feel, what we think and what we do or don’t do about what’s happening in our lives. In the end what we are really looking away from is ourselves.

Recovery asks us to look at not only the present conditions in our lives but to move into a posture of self examination and self acceptance.  We find the courage to look at ourselves with new and compassionate eyes.  We are given the clarity to see what needs changing and the strength to change it. It isn’t so much what we have to face but how we choose to face it that makes the difference.  Accepting current reality, including the truth about ourselves offers peace and a whole lot more.  Our mindful presence will point out the lesson and the blessing to be gained in even the most difficult situations.  When we stop looking away and start looking at the Truth we’ll find the breathing room we need to look around and appreciate the beauty of now.

For more on the Recovery 2.0 Conference follow the link. All videos are free until Sunday, May 11th, 2014.




Apr 28

Taking Care of Your Brain

This is a big deal for me personally so I had share.  Mental illness is one of the things I have feared most in life.  I lost my mother to early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  I am in recovery for grief and anxiety myself and have two children in addiction recovery.  As it turns out nutrition may be one of the major pieces that is missing in healing many forms of mental and neurological disorder. Taking care of your brain can save your life in so many different ways. This post is basically a reworking, an abridged version, of an incredible article on mercola.com that I believe every person on the planet should read. It’s based on the work of neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the book Grain Brain. It’s pretty long, has a lot of medical jargon and a focus on Alzheimer’s disease so I thought maybe more of you would be willing to read it if I parsed out the basics. I’ve taken a few liberties but I don’t think Dr. Mercola would mind, we’ve got to get the information out there any way we can. (The link to the full article, with many other links to related studies is at the bottom of this post.)


Eat the Right Types of Fat – Food Is Information

According to Dr. Perlmutter all brain dysfunction is rooted in a flawed diet, particularly our modern-day high-grain diet.  At some point we decided all fat was bad and our culture turned to carbs to fill the void. The rise in neurological disorder correlates directly to this trend. We need fat in our diets to stay healthy but the type of fat makes all the difference in the world. A brain healthy diet will benefit all neurological disorders.  A high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet is not just for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It’s the right diet for ALL brain-related disorders, including but not limited to:  Parkinson’s disease, migraines, seizure disorders like epilepsy, autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and I would add that it plays a major role in depression, fatigue and anxiety as well as playing a major role in recovery from all forms of addiction.

Sources of healthy fats to add to your diet include:

  • Avocados
  • Butter made from raw, grass-fed organic milk
  • Raw dairy
  • Organic pastured egg yolks
  • Coconuts and coconut oil (coconut oil actually shows promise as an effective Alzheimer’s treatment in and of itself as well as almost immediate benefits for anxiety. 1-2 tablespoons daily)
  • Unheated oil extracted from organic nuts
  • Raw nuts, such as pecans and macadamia, which are low in protein and high in healthy fats
  • Grass-fed meats and wild fish
  • Avoid all trans fats or hydrogenated fats that have been modified in such a way to extend their longevity on the grocery store shelf. This includes margarine, vegetable oils, and various butter-like spreads.

Simply put nearly all food contains fat, protein or carbs.  While there are many nutrient rich fruits and vegetables that contain carbohydrates, most of the carbs in the modern diet come from breads and pastas that have no such benefit. Careful consideration and attention to adding healthy fats are especially important issues for vegans. No matter what your food or lifestyle preference you must understand two important things:

(1) The human requirement for carbohydrates is zero. Generally speaking, we require no carbohydrates in the diet, we do require nutrients, fat and protein.

(2) Maybe even more important, far beyond being the source of calories that we take in, food is information. The foods that we choose to consume are instructing our DNA in terms of its expression. How empowering is that?  What you eat today will create who you are tomorrow. You get to decide.


Rebuilding the Brain – Exercise Promotes Neurogenesis

Beyond its ability to burn calories and fat, aerobic exercise is powerful for regeneration. It can help alter your gene expression to code for a longer and healthier life. Exercise also reduces free radical production and inflammation, both of which are drivers for chronic disease. More directly, exercise has been shown to turn on a brain growth hormone called BDNF, which stands for “brain-derived neurotrophic factor.” BDNF codes for your brain’s ability to both repair itself and grow new brain cells. The latter occurs through a process known as neurogenesis.


Other Important Factors for Brain Health

Intermittent Fasting – Intermittent fasting can jumpstart your body into burning fat instead of carbs as its primary fuel.  It is important to note that intermittent fasting is not about binge eating followed by starvation, or any other extreme form of dieting. It involves timing your meals to allow for regular periods of fasting.  For daily intermittent fasting to be effective the length of your fast must be at least 16 hours. This means eating only between the hours 9am to 5pm or 11am until 7pm, as examples. Not to in any way suggest eating just one meal a day but rather to make sure that the hours when you are not eating go undisturbed by anything but water.  This is because it takes about six to eight hours for your body to metabolize your glycogen stores; after that you start to shift to burning fat. However, if you are replenishing your glycogen by eating every eight hours (or sooner), you make it far more difficult for your body to use your fat stores as fuel.

Naturally Occurring Nutrients and Vitamins – Two biggies for brain health are turmeric and vitamin D. Turmeric, for its anti-inflammatory potential and ability to activate BDNF, the hormone involved in brain health and neurogenesis.  Maintain an optimal level of vitamin D through exposure to natural light, responsible sunlight exposure. A vitamin D3 supplement can be used if necessary. Just remember that if you take supplemental vitamin D, you also increase your body’s need for vitamin K2.


Gut Health – Optimize your gut health by reseeding your gut with beneficial bacteria (probiotics).  Equally important as adding probiotics is avoiding antibiotics. Poor gut health can place your brain at significant risk. Reduce gluten.  The gluten found in wheat, barley and rye can affect neurological health through the inflammation it causes.


Summary for Taking Control of Your Brain Health — For Life

Your lifestyle choices have a huge role to play in determining whether your brain will maintain its function throughout your lifetime, or degenerate with age into a potentially deadly neurological disease like Alzheimer’s. Again, the key lifestyle factors that will promote lifelong brain health are:

  • Eat a whole food, low- or no-carb, high-fat diet; ideally organic with a focus on raw foods. Your main source of carbohydrates would be above-ground vegetables, which are low in starch and high in beneficial fiber. Avoid carbohydrates (think processed foods, refined sugars, processed fructose, and all grains).
  • Intermittent fasting to help “reset” the body’s ability to use fat as its primary fuel.
  • Maintaining a healthy gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods (and/or a probiotic supplement), and avoiding all medically unnecessary sources of antibiotics.
  • Optimizing your vitamin D levels and overall nutrition with exposure to sunlight and a nutrient rich diet. I would add B12 or another good B complex supplement here for added benefit.
  • Exercise, move your body. Get your heart rate up and the healing energy moving!





Apr 24

Reason to Celebrate

Yesterday was Jane’s birthday! Two years ago today she was born (with the creation of this blog) in the early morning hours of my own birthday, at my kitchen table. I thought we should celebrate a little, and a peace cake seemed fitting, since that was all I was looking for and what being Jane has given me in so many ways.

I have to admit that I was never much into celebrating my birthday. Of course as I child it was pretty fun but even then all the attention was a little embarrassing somehow.  As I got older it just seemed like a lot of fuss over me when I felt like people should have been handing those gifts over to my mom for what she went through that day to get me here… None of that is meant to say that I haven’t been grateful for the loving wishes and gifts sent my way over the years.  I’m blessed to have so many people in my life that care enough to say so, I think we all need to hear it sometimes, and I believe birthdays are in fact a good time to celebrate the people we love.

No doubt birth is an incredible miracle and I’m not only talking about the birth of a baby. Relationships, businesses, literature, every work of art and idea was just a magical, unexplainable little spark at some point that was brought into the physical world eventually through someone’s desire and effort.  I was honored to be there to witness the birth of my first grandchild last September.  There was indeed a lot of effort involved but the crazy part was that all of the sudden he was here!  We could see him, we could touch him and kiss his sweet face!  Life is astonishingly beautiful in moments like that one.  Human beings are amazing, miraculous creatures.  Not just that first breath but EVERY breath should be enough cause for celebration.

Birthdays have become a time of reflection for me, for appreciating what I have right now and considering what I would like to create in the future.  This year that ritual has been especially poignant not only because of all that I have so miraculously gained in my own life but also because of the losses suffered by those around me. On Monday we got the news that a friend of the family had suddenly and tragically died.  Totally random, an accident in her own home, she fell down the stairs, and that was it. No warning, no preparation. Just gone in an instant.  She was a wonderful woman, with a husband who’s been battling cancer, three beautiful kids and her first brand new grandbaby almost exactly the same age as my own sweet little guy. How does that happen?  How could this be her time to go?  How could that happen to her family when they need her so much right now?

I don’t know the answers to those questions even though I’ve experienced my share of death.  All I know is that death is the exact opposite of birth. It’s mysterious and unexplainable. All of the sudden someone is gone…  I have come to accept that (although sometimes grudgingly) because I feel certain that the beautiful spirit within, the original magical spark, must surely live on.  While that does bring at least some degree of comfort and should be a reason to celebrate there is still a gaping empty space where that vibrant, strong woman used to be on this physical plane.  As I prepare myself to see the faces of her family members tomorrow and the grief of so many people that were far closer to her than I was I am reminded once again that life is short.  It’s precious and fragile.  Although I have never intended to make this a memorial site I find myself needing to sit down to write most urgently when coming to terms with death and contemplating the fleeting yet brilliant nature of human life.  It has been a cornerstone of my own recovery, centered primarily on pouring out my thoughts on the many ways people process different kinds of grief.

In spite of this sad news I did end up celebrating all day long yesterday.  I was definitely feeling the love, with friends, with family and in my yogic practice. There was such joy and celebratory energy in every breath.  How could I possibly be so ungrateful as to ignore that, the miracle of breathing, even on the most ordinary days?  Why do we wait to celebrate being alive?! This is the only moment we know we have for sure.  We can’t afford to wait for the perfect moment or the right time. This is the moment, this is the time to appreciate what we have, just as it is, and if there are things that really need changing then now is the time to change them. What good are even our greatest intentions if we never act on them? Now is the time for telling people they’re special and that we love them. Now is the time to appreciate and love yourself! Set your intentions on living in the beauty of all that you have right now and celebrate the brilliance of all that you are today.

Mar 29

Getting Out of Your Head

We hear this advice a lot in recovery. Most people can’t, or rather don’t, get out of their own heads because they never realize that there is an alternative. We simply start to believe that this is how life is going to be. We strengthen our conviction that we have no control over our thoughts and feelings with excuses and even affirmations that we can’t help the way we think or feel. But the big question is if we don’t then who does?
We have all experienced that loud mental chatter – that much is true. Even in meditation or prayer the mind has a way of taking off in its own direction and we tend to wander along with it usually without even noticing. We most often blame this on our circumstances or other people. We just can’t seem to keep our thoughts from racing to whatever happened or needs to happen and rehashing what someone else did, said or might be thinking. It doesn’t take long before you’ve have lost focus, motivation and most likely your sense of peace and happiness to boot. But really what has changed? You’re still sitting in the same exact spot; everything is basically just as it was except now you feel rotten. In this way we sabotage many of our most sincere efforts and true desire for healing.Here are some really great tips for getting out of your head almost immediately and changing your state:

· First things first, take three deep breaths, put a small smile on your face (even if you don’t totally mean it) and turn the situation over to your Higher Power. Say a prayer, meditate if that works well for you. If you have a mantra now is the time to use it. “I choose to find the good in this situation, help me to let go and move on, I choose peace…”
· Physical movement and environment. Get up and go outside, or at least into another room to change your physical environment and then keep moving. Walk, hike, run, swim, do pushups, yoga or even start cleaning something! Just decide you’re not going to sit there and think about it anymore.
· Talk to someone who inspires you. If you have a sponsor call them, maybe it’s a mentor or a trusted friend, anyone you can rely on for positive feedback. Yeah, you may blow off a little steam venting at first but as long as you don’t blow it out of proportion, you have an honest desire to feel better and you’re talking to the right person the conversation will almost always lead you in the right direction. This includes going to meetings, support groups and therapy – all good ways to change your state.
· Help someone out. Service work can take many forms so your opportunities are only limited by your desire to help. A Twelve Step call is of course pure genius for this one but not the only option. Carry the old lady next door’s groceries up the stairs, wash your parent’s car, save the kitten on the side of the road. This one is especially helpful if you’ve laid some groundwork by joining volunteer organizations and maintain relationships with the fellowship or even nearby churches that can use your help.
· Make a list or journal. If writing things down helps you clear your head get out some paper. Grab a pen and be sure to spend a few minutes writing about something positive after the brain dump. I personally feel that the physical act of writing is helpful here as opposed to using a computer but do whatever works for you.
· Read, watch or listen to something that inspires you. A movie, the Big Book, a poem, a song, again choosing something that you already know makes you feel good and brings you joy or peace.

Those are just a few ideas but certainly not a comprehensive list. It doesn’t have to be one of these and it doesn’t have to be just one! The point is that we can choose our thoughts and we are responsible for our wellbeing. No excuses today, just positivity and progress. Love, Jane

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