Love What Your Mama Gave You

Today before my shower, I was brushing my skin and was thinking about how I would love to lose a little bit of weight.  I thought, man, my thighs are looking a bit thick and wouldn’t it be nice if my abs were just a little bit tighter?  Why am I beating myself up like this?  I’m a naturally curvy lady and I should be proud of what I have instead of having a negative body image.

Being a woman can sometimes be tough because everywhere you look there are models, actresses, singers who make a living flaunting their bodies, and it can leave us normal women feeling a wee bit insecure.

I’ve decided that I’m going to LOVE my body and appreciate it instead of being so hard on myself.  Nobody is perfect.  What is perfect anyway?

Positive thinking is sorta like working out.  You have to force yourself to work your brain muscles in order to keep those positive thoughts flowing.  So these are some of the things I am going to say when the mind starts to go negative:

I love my body because…

It allows me to live my life

It allows me to chase my little children around the park

It allows me to feel things and experience life

It is what God gave me, so I am going to nourish it with healthy food so I can maximize its potential

I will embrace my body and be thankful for all it has provided for me

I want to be a positive role model for my daughter and teach her that the shape of her body doesn’t determine her value in society

Who cares if you are too curvy, too skinny, too short or too tall?

We are all beautiful in our own unique way. Don’t forget that!  (that’s what I’ll be telling myself!)

DIY Cleaning – Bathroom

My sister-in-law Lisa did it again.  She kindly shares her child-friendly, pet-friendly, wallet-friendly and environmentally friendly cleaning tips with us.  This one’s for the bathroom.

Here are a few of the homemade cleaning concoctions I thought you might find useful:

Tile and grout discoloration: Make a paste with plant-based castile soap and baking soda. Scrub paste into grout and rinse with hot water.  I use an old tooth-brush to scrub.

To kill mold and mildew left behind: dip a sponge in distilled vinegar and apply directly to grout.

Toilet Rust buster: Pour salt directly onto the stain. Next squeeze a lemon onto the bowl brush or heavy-duty paper towel. Scrub over the affected area.

Wall and Ceiling grime fighter:Wipe distilled vinegar onto the affected area. Wait 15 minutes. Repeat, letting stand overnight. The following day use a sponge soaked in hydrogen peroxide to illuminate the stain and to prevent mold from returning.

Thanks, Lisa!  You’re da bomb!

If you have any tips to share, please email them to theinnerpeaceproject@gmail.com


I Heart Traveling

One of my favorite things to do is to daydream about traveling the world with my family. I get excited thinking about taking Stella and Harry to – the top of the Eiffel Tower, The Great Wall of China, on a safari in Africa, St. Sophia mosque in Turkey, the mountain tops of Switzerland, the Grand Canyon, the beaches in California, etc. You get the point.  I know they will love it and they might learn a thing or two from other cultures.

Our next destination?  New York City!  Actually, we are staying in Park Slope, Brooklyn visiting my fly sister Krystle and her boyfriend, Tim.  Fun times ahead!  I’ll share some stories and my own pics afterwards!

What’s The Point Anyway?

You may be wondering why I’m writing this blog, what direction I want to go with it and what the point of it is. Well, here’s how The InnerPeace Project started and what the goal is…

My quest for innerpeace started about seven years ago. I was 23, newly married, a college grad, just came back from backpacking around Europe for almost two months, had great friends and family – basically had a fantastic life, but I would suffer from intense anxiety. I was anxious about my career path, the state of my friendships, my family, not having enough savings, not having the latest purse, carrying on a few extra pounds…the important stuff, right?

I would get these terrible stomach aches that would literally stop me in my tracks and cause me to double over in pain. I saw several doctors and they diagnosed me with ulcers, acid reflux, IBS, and lactose intolerance. I had none of those.  I finally saw an insightful doctor who took the time to ask about my mental state. I told him my list of worries and he diagnosed me with trapped gas caused by anxiety. Hmmmm….anxiety was what was giving me these horrible, debilitating stomach aches? Interesting.  It turns out how and what I was thinking about was causing a physical/physiological effect on my body. Wow.

I went on a low dosage of an antianxiety medication and started to feel a bit normal again. I remember thinking to myself, ‘oh this is what it’s like not to worry so much.’ I was more even keeled – maybe a little too even keeled because I realized not only was I not experiencing the lows, but I wasn’t experiencing the highs either.

I got off the medication (it’s not easy and if you are thinking of doing this, please consult a doctor). After about two weeks of horrendous withdrawal effects, I started to feel normal again but the nagging thoughts were beginning to creep back into my head and I was starting that whole vicious cycle again. Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who is the most empathetic person I have ever met. He would listen to my worrisome thoughts and finally he said, “Clear your head of the clutter.” That phrase struck a chord and made me realize, yes, I will not worry about things I have no control over and I will not feed that ego-driven aspect of my personality anymore.

Once I let go, things started falling into place for me. Because I wasn’t so preoccupied with negative or worrisome thoughts, I was open to broader and greater opportunities.  Great books fell in my lap, inspiring people came into my life, and I finally got that challenging and exciting job opportunity . Don’t get me wrong, I still went through trials and tribulations, but with my newfound attitude, life was just a bit easier to deal with.

I had all this free time to read as many books as I could. As I read and read, I would share information with my friends and family and could see that they were benefitting from the information as well.  I’m opinionated and love to help people. My dear friend, Megan, is very similar so we thought we would start a blog to share our thoughts, new information, and our stories.

As for the present moment…

Megan is heading down her own path right now and wants to help others in a different way. I will share her exciting situation as she progresses.

As for me, I will continue to read and meditate in pursuit for real happiness, MY innerpeace. I want to be a positive role model for my children, my husband, my family, my friends and to people who share a desire to live their best life possible. I try my best everyday and it’s HARD. I’m very far from perfect, but I am going to do my best to share what I learn in hopes of inspiring just one person. We don’t have to be a miserable society with jealous, hateful and negative thoughts.

This blog is my way of thanking the universe for all the opportunities that have been presented to me.

Let’s do this together and see what kind of difference we can make.  Good luck with your journey and wish me luck with mine!

Channeling Your Inner Kid

You know what the best thing about being a parent is?  Getting to relive your childhood again with your kids.

I encourage everyone with or without children, old or young to go out there and have fun for a day or even an hour.  Check out an amusement park, hit the swings at your local park, play hide and go seek with friends, sing at the top of your lungs, put your favorite song on and dance your heart out, shoot some hoops, have a water balloon fight, read a comic book, go fishing, ride your bike with no hands, LAUGH. Whatever it is, have fun.  As adults, we take everything so seriously.  Make a conscious effort not to worry about whatever it is you think about on a daily basis.  Put it aside for a bit and embrace that inner kid.

Encourage the people around you to do the same.  They will thank you and you might be surprised by how good you feel afterwards!

Nananana Booboo!  You can’t catch me!

Update On My Clean Journey – Life Is Good!

So let me tell you, the elimination diet is freaking hard. I didn’t realize so many things I put in my body are so toxic. The first few days of eliminating the “bad stuff” I had tremendous headaches, could barely focus, was extremely fatigued, and was soooo moody (sorry, family!) I thought to myself many times, ‘is it worth it?’

Eliminating caffeine was the worst. Ever have a caffeine headache? It feels like someone is taking a sledge hammer and whacking your skull. The first couple of days I had to give in and have a cup.

I haven’t actually moved into the detox stage yet – actually trying to get my body used to the elimination phase because I’ve come to realize this is the way I want to eat.  I want my diet and my family’s to consist of fresh, healthy foods without all of that crappy, processed stuff that’s out there.  I’ve just started the book Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and I’m feeling a bit frustrated with our food industry.  More on that later.

Now I’m going on my third week without caffeine and processed foods and I feel GREAT!

My moods are leveled and my energy is higher than ever. I think it has a lot has to do with caffeine.  Caffeine seems to be my enemy when I always thought the opposite.  Do I miss having a cup of coffee while my children are having breakfast?  HELL YES!  I miss the smell, the taste, and the whole experience of relaxing with my cup of joe, but I realized after eliminating it, it does me no good.  I’ve succumbed to some bread and a bit of sugar, but I am going to continue eating healthy (salads with lots of veggies, green tea, bean soups, and fruits) so I can continue to feel as good as I possibly can. I feel positive, enlightened, healthy, energetic, supportive towards my family, and young again. What more could I ask for?

I’ll continue to update y’all on this journey!  If you are up for giving up coffee or anything else for that matter and need some support, leave me a message at theinnerpeaceproject@gmail.com.  I’m here for you.

I Finally Found It!

Reading about food and the way it affects people has been a passion of mine for the past couple of years.  I have family members who suffer from illnesses and watching their food intake is no joke.  So they have inspired me to dig deeper to figure out how food effects my body.  As a kid and into adulthood, I suffer from a fair share of sinus infections and I wanted to figure out why.  After many conversations with doctors and reading copious amounts of books, I realize it may be due to the drastic weather change (I live in Chicago, nuff said) and the food I eat.  So unless I move somewhere warmer (crossing my fingers) I am going to control what I can and that’s the food I put into my body.

I have searched for an interesting AND informative book that not only inspires change, but allows the reader to fully understand the consequences of “toxic” chemicals in our bodies – from food  to environment.  It may behoove you to check out this book if you are lethargic, have heart problems,  have allergies, get sinus infections often, have anxiety, IBS, depression, get brain fog, feeling ‘off’ or have family members who suffer from any of these conditions, including cancer.

At the end of the book there’s a guide to walk someone through a detox if they are feeling up for it.

I AM FEELING UP FOR IT!  And I am going to use the blog to update you on my process.  I’m hoping that if I commit to it and announce that I’m doing it, it will keep me motivated.  I hope you don’t feel used…

First, I’m going to prepare my body by doing The Elimination Diet:

  • Environment – Avoid and replace what you can to lower daily exposure. According to the book, everyday sources of toxicity are: cleaning supplies, car exhaust, gardening and lawn chemicals, dry cleaning products, air conditioners, chlorine, lead paint, aluminum-containing deodorant, fluoride-containing toothpaste, cosmetics, pots and pans with cooking surfaces coated with aluminum or Teflon and cell phones.
  • Diet – Eliminate the toxic foods (the duration of this step depends on your current lifestyle and habits).  THIS IS THE STEP I’M ON! This is a toughie for me because I love sweets and good food in general.  No matter what the cuisine, there is a restaurant on my block.  According to Clean, I need to stay away from sugar, processed foods, wheat, caffeine and alcohol – basically my whole diet summed up.

After you “prepare your body” you are ready to do a 1, 2 or 3 week detox, which consists of 2 liquid meals a day (juicing – YYYYEEES!) and a meal that consists of fruits, veggies and organic meat.  Dr. Junger includes some recipes that actually sound pretty decent.  Also, he encourages getting rid of “toxic thoughts” by meditating.  He’s claiming that after you finish the detox, your health is generally better, you’re in a better mood, your energy levels are high as ever, mental clarity and weight loss.  Sounds good to me!

I’m on my 4th day of trying to eliminate the “toxic foods”.  Has it been easy? No way, jose.  The first few days I had headaches, was extremely tired, and irritable.  I cheated several times (I justified it as easing my way into this) but it’s getting easier.  I’m jotting down what I eat, I went to the grocery store and purchased my favorite produce, I drink a boat load of water and stopped my nightly cocktail. I am going to keep this up for another week or so then move towards the detox.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress!!!

Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

What do you want in life? (hmmmmm…?)

Would you like to lead a happy life? (um, yes.)

What’s “happy” to you? Traveling, feeling passionate about your life’s work, a white picket fence, a thriving business, innerpeace, a big family, early retirement, a healthy life, fame, a fancy car? Whatever it is you want, you can get or so they say.  My sister is an excellent example of someone who thinks about what she wants, visualizes and things happen.  Pretty cool, if you ask me.  She’s always telling me, “Ashley, figure out what you want and visualize it.”  Okay, sounds easy enough.

A couple of months ago, I started by writing down short-term goals and some long-term goals on a post-it, and now, I try to visit the list as often as possible.  I remember doing this activity freshman year of highschool in health class.  I’m back at it, and I look forward to seeing how everything will pan out!  Should I put my goals on here?!  (kinda scary!)

Here’s a start:

My dream "green" house. I would love to live in an open, modern, electrically efficient home that's surrounded by nature.

I see myself wearing comfy clothes, sitting with my husband and children, reading books, laughing, listening and playing music while sharing our thoughts with one another.

May all our dreams come true!

Put It In Perspective, Will Ya?!

Nothing annoys me more than a person who doesn’t appreciate the good things in life. Okay, I know I’m guilty of it sometimes – ya know, feeling sorry for myself during the days I have a million things to do, a house to clean and two toddlers wanting every ounce of my attention. But I am able to sit back and appreciate the greatness that is in my life – health, joy, family, and the ability to recognize that life isn’t all about ME.

I am experiencing a situation with a close family member of mine who does not realize how blessed he is. He goes on feeling sorry for himself and cannot recognize the positive people/things he has in his life. As I listen to him complain “woe is me” I cannot help but feel a bit of disgust. Why disgust and not compassion for a person who is extremely close to me? because his priorities are backwards and truly mixed up in his head. the thoughts he chooses to emphasize are EGO related and for some reason it bugs the crap out of me. I feel like yelling, “PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE, WILL YA?!”  He can’t grasp that there’s more to life than his own feelings, reputation, status, and how much money he has in his pocket. I wonder if he will ever realize there’s more to life than himself.

What would you do if you knew someone like this? I’ve suggested many things that could help him such as meditation (a incomprehensible act for someone who is so EGO-driven), church, volunteering, spending more time with family, tai chi, vacations, etc. None of it has helped. I’ve spent many years trying to help him out, but he doesn’t seem to get “it”. The whole situation makes me sad and I’m at the point that I set up major boundaries when I’m near him – I do not let him express his thoughts to me about particular subjects, but then I feel bad about not listening to him.

How do you help someone who’s not willing to help themselves?

It’s not up to me to save the world, but I do want to help out those so close to me and who have given me so much. This is my last attempt. Do you have any suggestions on helping someone gain innerpeace when they are extremely EGO driven? How do you help them put life in perspective?  Or should we just not care?

Addicted To Juice

My mom has been doing it for over a decade, my aunt and uncle swear by it, my sister-in-law loves it and now my in-laws are getting into it.  What you ask?  Juicing!  I am super passionate about it and I just can’t hide it.  My friends think I’m slightly crazy because of my love for natural juice.

It’s one of the best ways to get all of your daily vitamins, plus more.  It makes me feel healthy, makes my skin glow and I know I am feeding my body the nutrients it needs.  It’s also fabulous for the kiddos.  I don’t care if they eat marshmallows all day long, just as long as they drink their momma’s juice (which almost always consists of beets, celery, carrots, apples, pineapples and when we need the extra boost we add kale, spinach, dandelion and/or grapes).  And it tastes AWESOME!  Just make sure you add a couple of sweet tasting fruits in the mix and you’re good to go.  I have to admit, I consider myself a juice snob now.  I don’t even look at the watered down or high-fructose corn syrup laden crap they sell in the store.

This is what our juice usually consists of

If you get your kids involved in the whole juicing process, they are more likely to drink it and ask for seconds.  It makes me giddy that Harry and Stella enjoy it as much as I do. Seriously, there’s nothing healthier you can put in your body.

Get the kids involved!

The Beets give it that beautiful pink color that my daughter loves and they are great for your heart and liver

Harry with his "beet" stache

I use the Jack LaLanne because it got high ratings online and it was rather inexpensive compared to what’s on the market.

If you have ANY questions about juicing, please email me at theinnerpeaceproject@gmail.com.  I’m more than happy to answer any questions/concerns.

Give it a try…your health is worth it!