It's Friday! And it's supposed to be unseasonably warm in Chicago tomorrow (woohoo)! This means those that live in Chicago will be jogging in shorts (yes, it's true), biking without coats and well, locals get a bit overzealous - haha.
I'm excited to share below my top 'go to' wellness resources!
We have SO many wellness resources at our fingertips - gaaaaa! It's amazing! I appreciate (so much) having trusted sustainable wellness sources to rely on that remove all of the guesswork via safety & sustainability of products, charities, restaurants, etc.
I broke them down into simple categories with only ONE referral each (because I like to keep things simple) so, feel free to grab a cub of coffee or tea and browse below:
BeautyCounter is a DREAM because every single product on their site is screened rigorously for safety. Although I personally use BeautyCounter for makeup, they have a wide variety of products via skincare, bath & body. Bonnie Knobloch is a director in Chicago for any questions, recommendations, product orders, etc.
Echo Vie Organic Body Oil
I've written about Echo Vie Body Oil all over Snapshots of Wellness! To here more details go here. I have used Echo Vie as a moisturizer on my face for a few years now and my skin is consistently left hydrated, supple & glowing....even in the winter! This product is incredible & boasts the highest quality truly natural ingredients. Natural doesn't mean much these days with the amount it's 'misused' or misrepresented. But in this case, Echo Vie Organic Body Oil has zero parabens, chemicals, toxins and no animal is ever harmed. When I say it's 'natural', I mean it is completely clean, pure and safe.
My absolute go to for sustainable clothing is Tentree!
Please go read about Tentree to explore their global footprint. I think you'll be blown away like I was. I support a company that is giving back, not only to our fragile environment but, to source incomes & jobs for people around the world. And the clothing itself is casual, chic and incredibly comfortable that will take you from brunch to a hike to running errands for the day.
Organic Neighborhood Eats:
If you follow me on Instagram, you'd know that I am absolutely in LOVE with JuiceRX in Bucktown! You'd might even think I rep. for them but, I am just a super happy paying customer. If I could eat at one place every single day, every meal, every day of the year, it would be JuiceRX. Truly. You MUST go! I HIGHLY recommend the Old World Order smoothie, the Immunity Boost shot (your sinuses will be cleared by the time you gulp it all), the Spring Rolls and the peanut butter cup pudding. I just cannot get enough of JuiceRX. Ohhh the savory toast too is delish!
I am intrigued by Lauren Scruggs Kennedy's NEW LSK Lifestyle blog with the theme of 'rooted in wellness'. I just learned about LSK actually but, based on the sustainability behind her new dry shampoo, Stranded, Lauren is fast becoming a trusted wellness source. Eager to see what we will all learn from her.
Hands down, Deliciously Ella's books are my favorite. You all knew that though if you have been reading Snapshots of Wellness for any amount of time. Ella's recipes are EASY, budget friendly and so good for our bodies. I think she has brought 'simple' back to wellness. Most cookbooks I read and place on a shelf afterwards (and they accumulate dust). But, Ella's cookbooks are worn with torn pages and smudges of food on the pages.
I think that's enough links to keep you busy for awhile (Plus, I am tired of typing) (0: I will share more wellness referrals very soon b/c the categories are endless!!!
Enjoy the weekend!
Happy New Year's ......9 days after the fact! I hope you are all keeping up with the hustle & bustle that a new year brings!
I personally feel like the entire month of January is the 'prep' for the start to the new year. January is a slower paced month coming after Thanksgiving/Christmas gatherings, travel, parties, etc. It's a month of preperation, nesting via books, naps, journaling and decluttering our lives. While most do not think January has much to offer, I have always welcomed this month as an opportunity to 'minimize' which is all encompassing.
Snapshots of Wellness is shifting in 2017! I am so excited about the NEW changes & I hope you will be too!
This year, Snapshots of Wellness content will center around 'global wellness'. What does this mean? This means we will focus more outward via how we can collectively serve the world. I will shine the spotlight on what is happening via wellness across the globe because it's absolutely incredible.
Also, I have decided to recreate Snapshots of Wellness into a 'Lifestyle Blog'. I desire a much more vast canvas to be more creative & artistic via content. Looking back, I had my own guidelines of what I woud write about and I boxed myself in. Have you ever done that to yourself? I didn't even realize I did it at the time but, hindsight comes in handy (0;
Looking forward to big changes this year..... both on the site & off! And looking forward to hearing from all of you!
I'll end this post with a glimmer into my personal life via 2017:
“*I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago...
*So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right.
*We get one story, you and I, and one story alone....It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.”
― Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road
Happy Holidays everyone!!!
We are in full swing here in the city of Chicago! The city is blizted out in twinkling lights, fast paced energy & all of the delights that come with the holidays!
I am personally lying in bed today. I am taking a self care day to rest my mind and body - so needed.I encourage you (especially all of you with chronic illness) that if you just feel completely depleted, take a step back to replenish your mind, body, spirit and then try again.
Let's get to this Friday's 'Holiday Bits & Bites'!! We will be covering a lot - quickly - so, prepare to move quickly along with me:
The holidays can bring a wide variety of internal emotions for numerous people. While we hope every interaction to be merry, there are time we experience conflict as well. And I think conflict is to be expected in extremely close relationships. But it is how we handle conflict that matters. Conflict can be the BEST opportunity for two to grow closer together and build even more intimacy in relationships.
I've even read from the likes from Don Miller, Henry Cloud, Bob Goff, Priscilla Shrier, etc. that if you never experience relational challenges, you might not be experiencing the intimacy that comes with going through obstacles together.
Matter of fact, this article by Don Miller's wife is fantastic. And this particular article by Don Miller himself is great too.
I received the article below from a leader at my church. And it does not matter what your faith is (so please do not be scared off by the biblical references), this conflict guide below is - hands down - the most brilliant I have seen for marriage, singles, friendships, co-workers, etc.. I cannot say I've always used it but, that's where grace comes in.
Check it out:
If you want to attend an incredibly festive event this holiday season, Holi-Dose is a MUST!!!! You can get tickets & check out the details of this sparkly Dose Market event here.
I must say that Holi-Dose is one of my favorite events of the month. It's a great way to spend the day and purchasing holiday gifts locally for those you love.
Other events are ChristkindleMarket, The Nutcracker, Millienium Park Ice Skating, A Christmas Carol at The Goodman Theatre....and this list can be endless. There is no better city to be in during the holidays than Chicago!
This is definitely time to place our hearts on Jesus who was born. And the true meaning of Christmas. This means it's a season of giving back to those who are in need, passing along kindness in a phlethora of creative routes (smile), forgiving one another, extending grace, sitting by a cozy fire to spend quality time and joining together in prayer.
It is a season not to be clouded by materialism, spending money on gifts for those who are already living in abundance. This season is not to be clouded by stress, hidden resentments or flustered spirits.
I encourage all of us to ask God to fill us with The Fruit of the Spirit and then go do our very best to put those into action. The Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, FORBEARANCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS AND FAITHFULNESS. How are you doing with those? I have some work to do myself.
If you are looking for some absolutely phenomenal organizations to donate to this holiday season, my heart just leaps for the following! But, read this article before you donate anywhere or to anyone!
Enjoy this weekend everyone! And thank you for stopping by Snapshots of Wellness!! I am grateful!
"This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!" - D.M. Dellinger
The month of December is an absolute sugar -tsunami. It's easy to get swept up in all of the toxic foods and yet, they leave you feeling completely ill or at least lethargic.
Once you begin eating unprocessed organic foods from the earth, your entire body changes on a cellular level. You begin to crave healthy organic whole foods. You also quickly 'feel' the difference when you indulge in say, cookies, donuts or a processed meal.
I recall the last time I ate a donut, I felt this film inside my mouth after eating it. It was an actual film along the roof of my mouth and gums. And I felt sick to my stomach within 15 minutes afterwards. I mean, sick.
So I wanted to share a super easy idea for 'Edamame Pasta'! It's a simple, clean (protein packed) and detoxifying dish for lunch or dinner! And you can make your own variaion in approximately 10 minutes!
Gluten Free Noodles of your choice (bring to a boil and set aside once softened).
A large varity of chopped organic veggies of your choice.
Organic steamed spinach
Steam Edamame and remove the shells.
Combine all of the above
Add seasonings of your choice w/ a sprinkle of sea salt.
Drizzle lemon, olive oil and apple cidar vinegar
This dish is always a crowd pleaser in my home. And it can be served with a large variety of options. I tend to serve with a crispy gluten free rye bread.
I personally think it is so satisfying to make handmade holiday gifts for loved ones vs. purchasing clothing or items that...let's face it, no one really needs.
It's sad to see people making long lists of material items with expectations of 'more, more, more'. Ugh. When I see people do this, I immediately want to hug them and tell them they don't know the true meaning of Christmas (but I would never do that -haha)!
In a season of such gross excess, I wanted to share what I will be gifting my loved ones this year!
I love to bake, create delicious meals or schedule quality time together. So, I typically choose from those three options.
There is absolutely nothing better than hot chocolate by the fire with loved ones, a homemade meal of your loved ones favorite foods or wrapping a big bow around a jar of moist warm chocolate chip cookies.
Here is what I am whipping up this year:
Homemade Cookies + Homemade Almond Milk:
Is there anything better - truly -than homemade cookies & almond milk to wash them down? I think not. My favorite cookie recipes are from Oh She Glows.....particularly Angela's Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies (so crazy good)! And the easiet & delectable homemade almond milk is by Deliciously Ella - a must try!
Munchie Bowl for Mom Friends:
My friends who are mom are like superwomen! They do it all and make it look completely effortless (when I know the level of effort they are putting into raising a child and children)! I am in awe of them!
So I came up with this idea to gift them 'Munche Bowls'! It's a rather simple prepared meal in a bowl - quinoa, mashed sweet potatoes, glazed carrorts, sun dried tomato crackers, kale salad, etc. The whole thought behind a 'Munchie Bowl' is that they often do not have time to cook or eat themselves because they are so busy feeding their families. It's SO wonderful to receive an organic homemade meal prepared for you. It just is. Put a big festive bow around a Munchie Bowl and make someone in your life happy!
Simple Mills Banana Muffins:
It does not get any easier or healthier than a basket full of freshly baked Simple Mills Banana Muffins. And there are so many products to choose from (here). I think Simple Mills products are crowd pleasers because they are all delicious with the added benefits of being gluten free, soy free, paleo/vegan friendly (you can use an egg subsitute) and gum free. You cannot go wrong and the muffins take about 8 minutes to make and 12-15 minutes to bake! Easy peasy & yummy!
Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows has THE BEST dairy free hot cocoa recipe! Making some over the stove while you & friends or family bundle up in the living room is pure bliss. It also serves a dual purpose of treating them not only to a scrumptious hot coca but also, spending quality time together.
The pace of the holidays is pure madness so, a festive night w/ loved ones, by the fire is the best gift of all.
Indulging in a healthy workout together is yet another idea!
Grab a friend and walk the 606, hit the gym, choose a pilates class (Chi50 Megaformer Chicago in Bucktown is supposed to be incredible). I first heard about the latter from Ashlee Piper of The Lil Foxes.
Get moving together!
And finally, spend quality time together strolling through the city feeling the magic of the twinkling lights overhead! There are numerous events in the city that do not cost a dollar to attend. I even think watching ice skators at Millineium Park raises the holiday spirit!
December & Christmas are fast paced & the holidays 'could' be such a special season to gather together and love on those you love! Choose peace, choose togetherness, choose less materialism & choose love!
Grab a cup of hot cocoa. It's been awhile. Let's chat.
What a season folks. This last quarter of 2016 has the country riding waves of massive change.
Where do I begin today.
I deliberately made the decision not to engage in discussions via the election on Snapshots of Wellness or elsewhere via social media. I genuinely believe that at such a sensitive time across the world, discussions need to be taking place face to face, over coffee, in living rooms & across tables. My hope is that as President Trump is inaugurated in January, people take a step back and observe their own behavior through the election and presently. My hope is that people make decisions to spring into action to better the lives of others by being of service. I pray that people push 'pause'...amidst their emotional reactions.....and that by self reflection, real lasting change emerges.
We all want change. But, so many are completely unwilling to do the work to create that change. Because change can be excruciatingly difficult and we are a country who values comfort, materialism and success to a degree that change isn't our thing.
It's hard to write about holiday gifts and recipes when people in Syria & elsewhere are being tear gassed and losing their lives.
So, let's talk about 'If'....
What if everyone reading this today donated to Save The Children which provides enormous aid to Syrian children......wow, what if.
What if each of us, instead of talking so much about President Trump and where 'we stand' with him being President, asked one another what we are going to do to make this world a better place. And then we actually listened...and then followed through.
What if we each listened to one another to 'understand' vs. simply responding to defend our righteousness. Hmmm, what if.
What if we each took the money we were going to use to buy our loved ones holiday gifts we don't even need and donated that money to a charity whose dollars go 100% directly to the cause. Ponder that. Can you imagine if we ALL did that.......wow, what if.
What if we gathered together.....communally......on weekends and became strategists together via how we can 'give back' to those in need. Can you imagine if we chose to do that? What if.
What if we actually followed God's Word. What if we actually obeyed Him. Do you think your relationships would change? Do you think you would change? Do you think you would know Him better? Yeah....hmmm...what if.
What if we all lived with less. And shared the rest with those who are hurting. What if we did that....what if.
What if we loved one another the way God intended. What if.
What if we spoke out and SPOKE UP about social injustice when we see it? Scary I know but, what if.
What if we EACH protected the voiceless. I am thinking the world might shift....what if.
What if we each got educated on health, wellness. climate change, sustainability. Yes, even those of you who already think you've mastered these topics. What if you opened yourself up to learning even more. What if your health improved as a result? What if your families lives improved? What if your neighborhoods improved? What if.
What if we stopped seeking comfort. And we stopped seeking what WE want and desire. And we started seeking what God is seeking. What if.
What if we all stopped being so self involved and started being selfless. Would your day to day life change? What if.
What if....as a result of so much change, we all lived in a brand new world where no one felt alone and no one was left behind.
It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity. Cesar Chavez
Happy October SW Readers! I am hoping you enjoy the brand NEW SW site design. The intent w/ this new design is that you'll be able to navigate through the tabs much more quickly along w/ a much higher quality visual photographic experience.
With that said, there are a wide variety of companies & products that I will be bringing to your attention this month ranging from skincare, holistic health/healing, sustainable clothing & eco-friendly gear for 'movement' whether you are traveling, hiking or biking. Everything we discuss on SW are essentials that will make your life overall healthier while contributing to improving (and preserving) our environment. It's important to be intentional with every purchase we make.
Why don't you head over to the 'Bits & Bites' tab Daily Essentials to get a super quick overview of my latest favorite 'must haves' and then throughout October, I will be elaborating on a few of these essentials right here on the Daily.
Tis the season!
Hi everyone! Seasons are close to changing and I am not just referring to the weather.
I've hinted repeatedly in the last 4-5 blogs that I am about to 'go off the grid'. I am choosing not to share any details of the experience on my blog or elsewhere. But you will all hear about my experience one day in an unexpected format (I'll leave that as a lingering surprise)!
This will be my last blog post for the summer but, I will be back in October/November with a site redesign and redirection. I cannot wait for both! You are all in for quite the treat! We've worked hard behind the scenes for the last 6 months to determine the future of Snapshots of Wellness.
There are few times in life where one can just leave a cell phone, contact with others, a computer & social media...far far behind. And opt to have a private traveling experience where you are fully immersed in the 'now' w/ those who are along side of you. An experience where memories & photos are cherished and 'yours' vs. sharing with say, all those on Facebook or elsewhere. I think sharing every single last thing about your life on social media or even a blog, takes away some of the preciousness of our personal experiences. Given everyone is attached to their phones to a degree that is frankly, unhealthy, I think it will be absolutely dreamy!!!
I strongly encourage all of you to consider putting down your phones more and more. I encourage you to opt out of say, Facebook for 30 to 60 days to use that time for more fruitful endeavors in your life. Try it! My guess is you will look back and wonder why in the world you were spending your time stuck in front of a screen, as you now revel in the trade off of real experiences & connections!
If there was one area this past year that I hope to have inspired/encouraged all of you, it is in the area of sustainability, taking care of this precious earth and nurturing not only yourself and those you love but, our planet. Enjoy this beautiful summer's end everyone! I'll leave you all with this beautiful & tenderly written quote below that holds such sentimental value in my life . Au Revoir!
Can all of you believe it is August? It's such a precious time in the city of Chicago as we relish these last weeks of summer sun. Whenever August taps us on the shoulder, it's whispering 'Hey, the reality of a summer's end is looming so, soak it in'.
If you have been reading SW for even a short length of time, you've come across two other blogs referencing the book 'Tell Me Everything' by Jason Helveston. And the day has arrived that we are going to chat about this phenomenal read.
Let's start with the Author, Jason.
Jason is a Pastor at Park Community Church in Chicago. Park has nine campuses and Jason leads the campus in Logan Square. Shout out to all of you Logan Square peeps & Chicago Diner. The latter is a random & completely unrelated shout out but, if you live in LS, it's a must stop. I digress.
When I heard that Jason had written Tell Me Everything, I knew I wanted to read it. Why? Because Jason is so gifted at speaking/teaching. If someone asked me what his teaching style is like, I would say 'He sounds like a combination of classic jazz, a little symphonic style blues and a poetry slam. I often describe speakers & writers as melodies. Whenever I hear Jason teach at a Sunday service, I do not just leave knowing more about Jesus but, I leave desiring more of Him...and less of myself. If you want to hear a Pastor preach in such a way that you feel fervor in your heart while your adrenaline races & your eyes often well with tears, I am inviting you to church to learn about Jesus, through his words.
So why don't we grab some coffee & chat about the book, Tell Me Everything.
I love the title of this book. Don't you? It's so simple yet intimate & deeply personal:
Tell - Me - Everything. Don't just tell me how you are. Don't just tell me a part of your story. Don't just tell me the climax of the story, Tell Me Everything.
This book has me tongue tied...and trust me, that's a rarity. I read the book twice - slowly - taking so many notes up and down the margins that it looks as if a child caught hold of it with markers. I have contemplated a gross amount of time as to how to tell all of you about it. I personally think Tell Me Everything is a fabulous choice for a book club, small group or meetup. It's a remarkable book to discuss with your spouse or over a meal w/ a friend.
I am about to share with you what this book is about but frankly, I tend to go buy a book after a friend says 'This one....this is a MUST read Kel, go get it' vs. say, coming across a lengthy book review on a blog. In other words, just head over to Amazon & buy the book (smile)!
'Tell Me Everything' obliterates the religious dogma of Christianity and replaces it with the beautiful truth of the story of Jesus. You jump into His story - with Him -and go on a journey with Jesus throughout the pages that you may have never taken before. I've not read a book even resembling this one (and those that know me well, know that I read more than the average number of books). By the end of the book, my eyes were opened to a new way of seeing Him, myself and our entire world. I would say I was 'startled' which is why I had to go back and read it twice. And I am not counting out a third time soon (yes, that good).
Jason says 'Religion is a hope which is ultimately anchored in ourselves. In other words, moralism is based on our ability to follow through on rules God sets in place'. Jason also writes 'Religion puts people in the center of faith. Spirituality then becomes contingent on an individual's ability to define and maintain moral perfection. Religion is about what we do, what we say, what we think, what we believe, what we wear. ALL the power religion possesses is based upon personal faithfulness and goodness'. Oh my word!!!!! I am doing a vertical head bob, 'Yessssssss'. Isn't that the truth....of all of us? We focus on reading the Bible, doing what we are told, doing 'good' - we focus on ourselves.....it's all so nauseatingly about us. We may say it isn't but examine your thoughts, your speech......it is. Admit it. It's true. My hand is raised.
Tell Me Everything shares such cool (and numerous) factual accounts of Jesus's ministry on earth and how Jesus 're-framed faith around God Himself'. 'Christianity is about someone who finds you, draws you in, then never let's go'. Isn't that incredible? Don't you want to be a part of THAT story? Christianity IS a story. Christianity is NOT a religion. I need to stop quoting the book but, I can't help myself. This book is so beautifully written.
Dare I say I see the world differently after reading this book twice? Dare I go a step further and say that I see my own life, faith & all of Christianity through a brand new lens? How can one say that after reading a book, twice. It's true and certainly unexpected.
I am part of the story Jesus is telling with our lives. And so you are. We all are. And Jason describes in depth the various aspects of every story 'exposition, rise in action, climax, fall in action, and resolution'. 'And 'every story makes a promise. And the good stories keep their word. The Christian story promises God will be faithful'.
And one of my absolute favorite moments in the book is this sentence below....
'Faith is seeing reality even when you cannot see reality with your own eyes'.
Every chapter of this book is filled with dazzling depictions of faith, God, love, heartache, surrender, redemption, humor.....detailing a triumphant story of ongoing salvation. Jason, the way you tell this story is extraordinary.
Folks, I am postulating that your perspective of Him - your faith - your life - might 'shift' after reading Tell Me Everything. You're perspective about Jesus and faith might even radically change.
After reading Tell Me Everything, my own narrative is no longer the story I am telling. My own narrative is not - even - true. How about that?!?!?! Let that one soak in. Again, you need to read this.
'Approaching Christianity as a story devastates our will and aspirations. Jesus creates a stir religion cannot manufacture'.
Don't those words increase blood flow in your veins? Don't those words peak your interest enough to desire to know more about this 'story'?
To learn more about Tell Me Everything & the Author, Jason Helveston, head over to his blog, stop in to Park's Logan Square campus or contact him directly via any of his social media handles found at the bottom of his website.
Hi there. It's been awhile. How is summer for all of you fab people? The weather in Chicago this summer has been absolute perfection. We have been & continue to be blessed!
I wanted to share what is to come in the next three weeks on Snapshots of Wellness! Please tune in each Tuesday for a NEW blog post starting now until August 19th. After the 19th, I will be on a lengthy holiday from the blog and social media. I am completely going 'off the grid' as I like to say until this winter! I know, it'll be a long time. I cannot wait!
So what is on the horizon for Snapshots of Wellness readers?
This upcoming Tuesday, I will be sharing with all of you all about the book, Tell Me Everything by Jason Helveston (which I mentioned in this previous blog post). I highly recommend the book folks! You can order it here on Amazon. We will talk about it and how the book has changed my perspective and 'moved me to action'. I think it might do the same for all of you. I have only reviewed one handful of books (over several years) on SW so, I hope you all realize that when I recommend a book, it obviously impacted my life in a profound way. And I am sharing it because I am hoping it will do the same for you. I think this particular book can rock your mind and heart in such a way that you see things very differently - I'll explain next week.
Next, you will all be learning about a company I was recently introduced to that I am SO INSPIRED by named Jambu & Co.
And then, one last blog for the season until this girl is disappearing from social media for a long while. I'll share my last blog about that.
Get excited along side of me & come back on Tuesday as we kick off this 'variety series of blogs' which I hope will INSPIRE YOU as much as I have been inspired.
Have you ever just wanted to pack a bag and go? Me too.
I am planning my 'great escape'.
SW will be blogging once in awhile in July and then that will be a wrap for the summer & fall.
I will be shutting my phone off the day I get on an airplane and going incognito for a long while!!! And I cannot wait! The only people I will be sharing details of my 'great escape' with are my dearest loved ones. I know, that doesn't seem fun but, it's something we don't experience much anymore b/c of all of our relationships with social media. For me, it'll be magical.
Certainly blogging is fun and Instagram is this techo colored-photog of inspiration (so I will be posting a lot on IG throughout July) but, as for the rest of social media? I am not into it. I honestly do not even understand the draw anymore now that I use FB so rarely. I will share a photo to appease family but, other than that I am either in a phase or a new path to not use that site anymore. Time will tell.
I used to be ultra private....about everyyyything. And then my life became fully exposed because of my health (as most of you know). When your life becomes that much of an open book, it's oddly freeing...for awhile. I also became a Christian around the same time of my health demise and I was sharing with a large church community on an entirely new level....about every aspect of my life.
It is such a comfort to share with my dearest loved ones. It's a comfort to pray with community. But, that's where my comfort level stopped. I started to feel uncomfortably exposed and a LOT of acquaintances, new people I was/am discerning whether to build friendships with and complete strangers, ask me the most invasive questions. People from my past (aka hometown) who I have not talked to in a year or more, felt it to be OK to ask me any question imaginable about my health. Some in the city share one meal with me and think we are best friends because of a commonality. It's not welcoming, it's invasive. And I have learned not to ask others invasive questions either as a result.
And who created this over exposure? I did. I am the one who over shared about my life. And I am the one who has to change that. After tremendous amount of conversations w/ wise counsel, one of my Pastors, my mentor and those that really truly know me.....I realize that this was far from healthy.
I am someone who still welcome 'the process' of getting to know who someone is. And trust is built over time...not overnight or weeks/months (at least the relationships I am involved in). The beauty of relationships is their natural and organic revolution. My closest male friend and I (he lives in Chicago) took about two years to become as close as we are. We got to know one another very slowly and it felt effortless. My five closest girl friends.....gosh, we have all gotten to know one another well over 'years'. I love using these incredibly healthy & special relationships as my present example for how - as of 'now' - I will be moving forward with others.
I had (and have) to set up new boundaries. People haven't responded well to 'I do not feel comfortable talking about that'. But, the beauty in putting my worth in Christ is that I don't really care what people think (other than those in my tribe). I really don't. Boundaries are so healthy and anyone that respects themselves, has good ones. So yes.....I am backing up from certain people that are drawing too close...too soon. And I am drawing very near to my tribe. I am amazed at how life changes when you stay close to those who you feel safest with.
I really encourage all of you to use discernment and wisdom as to who gets to be 'in the arena' with you. Moving forward, the only ones in the arena with me will be those that have been with me for quite some time. And the others, I will discern and potentially build over time.
I hope this resonates with some of you! And I hope you enjoy the long weekend ahead. I will be 'under the radar' and then back chatting with you all soon.
Happy 4th of July!
Hi there everyone! This letter is to my SW community who tune in on the weekly. I am so grateful and always surprised by so many of your positive feedback. Also, I am always caught quite off guard when I discover that people out there are actually reading what I have to say (smile).
With that being said, I am getting an enormous number of emails with detailed specific questions about many of your health challenges. I recently told one of you I was going to share a rather transparent email about the changes I am making. And today is the day that my typing fingers and heart feel like colliding on screen.
I wanted to explain to all of you why I will no longer be answering your questions about your health. And I pray I verbalize this with grace.
Weekly, people across the country reach out to me with their stories of ill health. Sometimes I receive 75 emails a week, other times a few and there have been times I have received over 100+ (yes, it's true). You see, people are desperate for answers. So they come to me for those answers.
I read these emails and my heart breaks time and time again. I read about the lack of answers in Western medicine and clinical academia - I read about how people have lost their savings going to Functional Medicine Physicians only to find themselves worse off than they were before - I read about the pain and sadness that ensures as folks are utterly depleted from searching for healing.
I can very literally feel the desperation in so many of your written words and I know all too well, that level of uncertainty. When I had gotten sick, I reached out to people on the internet...just.like.so.many.of.you. I share the latter to say, I am with you - I understand you - I really get it. And it brings up so much frustration via the medical system.
With that being said, I cannot answer your health questions anymore. I think it's plain irresponsible of me. Why? Those that ask me questions....I have never met any of you. I don't know your health history, lifestyle, diet, genetic makeup, supplemental schedules, prescriptions and prescription doses, medical protocols, previous tests done, lab results, etc. And even if I had a health history, I am not a doctor nor should I be weighing in.
I can certainly recommend a physician. I can share my faith with you or recommend a chiropractor/nutritionist/acupuncturist or I can share what I do for my own health but, I cannot give any specific medical/health advice..at all.
Soooo, when I get these types of emails moving forward, I will reply with the link to this blog.
I think we are all made so uniquely and our rise out of health challenges are just as individualized. What works for one, can be horrid for another. So, tune into yourself and to God. Ask Him. He will guide you down the right path. Stay focused - persist - endure - don't quit...ever. And you will get there. I am amazed at the stamina of those climbing out of sickness to healthy energetic bodies!!! It's a climb that will absolutely transform every part of you - inside & out. If you all want to talk about 'that' sometime, I am up for - just let me know.
Love to you all. Enjoy the long weekend ahead!!!
We are on the 'Eve' of 4th of July weekend in Chicago!!! I cannot believe how fast this year is going by!!!! And I am not one to say that every year. I feel like last summer was perfectly paced and this summer is a blink. If I could sum up this year - thus far - in 5 words, they would be: Surprising. Faith Filled. Challenging. Beautiful. Wow. What words would you choose to describe your year thus far?
Today, I wanted to kick off the week (a day late but, I tend to consider Tuesday the start to the week) with a 'Best of Summer in Chicago'. If you are coming to Chicago for a long weekend stretch or you are a neighbor, here are 'SW' options to give you a healthy, lively and nature filled taste of this stunning city. All of my choices center around health & wellness....no surprise there! Let's go!
1. Green City Market
The Green City Market in Chicago is absolutely beautiful! It is nestled in Lincoln Park between the city backdrop and the lakefront. It truly is spectacular. The market itself is very large and filled with organic goodness. The farmers are so educated and willing to spend time educating you as well. While you gather fresh ingredients, live music plays from a short distance. And families gather with blankets and chairs to listen. You're a short walk to the Nature Museum, Lincoln Park Conservatory, lakefront and Cafe Brauer. I think it's the best location to spend a full day in the city. It's a must stop!
2. Architectural Tour.
Whether you live in Chicago or you are visiting, you have to take an architectural tour (there are so many to choose from). You relax with a group on the water while you are carried through the nooks of the city. You experience Chicago from such a special 'view' and the city landscape is gorgeous!
3. Roof Top restaurants & lounges. You really need to share a meal overlooking the city. Chicago is well known for it's breathtaking rooftop views. One location that just leaves you speechless: Cindy's is a rustic & natural restaurant nestled atop the Chicago Athletic Association. I highly recommend a casual meal with loved ones here. The food is superb and the views are inspiring. If you are desiring an after dinner cocktail with fab ambiance, I'd recommend Drumbar.
4. Las Palmas
Off the beaten path in Wicker Park, you'll find Las Palmas tucked into the busy street of North Avenue. Of all of the Mexican cuisine in the city (and Wicker Park for that matter), I still prefer Las Palmas. It has such a casual & neighborhood vibe. And the outdoor seating via their atrium with it's twinkling lights overhead is quaint and cozy. The guacamole is the best in the city (made table side) and the chef is willing to get creative if you are say, vegan or wanting a unique combination. Finally, I really appreciate that you can throw your hair up and toss on a t & skirt or get fancy here - anything goes.
I think kayaking is a Chicago summer 'must'. Kayaking in Chicago is one of the best ways to get in an early morning workout while experiencing the beauty of the city....from the water.
Finally, I would recommend biking to Northerly Island Park. It's so pretty & peaceful!! The view of the skyline is amazing and you are engulfed in nature. Incredible!
I've said it a great deal of times but, there is no city like Chicago in the summer. And I feel like Chicago is an oasis for healthy living! Let me know if you try any of these activities, rooftops, markets, sites, etc. And also, let me know what your 'Best of Chicago' consists of! My social media contacts are at the top of the page.
Revel in this season Chicago!
I'm super pressed for time this week but, I wanted to encourage you all to take a peak at the global heavy hitter transforming lives - Sama Group!
I am receiving such a vast education about global poverty by getting educated by Sama & the Founder, Leila Janah. And you can do the same. Tune into the Sama site and get fully educated on how you can get involved. You can also read this fabulous article which captures both Leila & Sama beautifully!!!!
We will be chatting about Sama in greater detail over the next month!
Enjoy your week! Step outside of yourself - your challenges - your life in general to peak out into the world. We all need to be better informed about the realities across the globe (from poverty to factory farms to sustainability practices - the list is so long). I appreciate Sama because they are not putting a band-aid on global rampant poverty rather they have gotten to 'the root' cause. And they are step - by - step - solving it. YES! Getting to the root of any global atrocity requires tremendous 'global effort'. And we can all be a part of that change. We have to be for our planet to heal and evolve.
Numerous of you chat w/ me via my social media outlets (particularly email). And I love interacting with all of you. I have noticed that I am getting the same questions over and over in my inbox. So, I'm going to answer them for you below! Thanks for inquiring! It's sweet that you even care to know! I love hearing about all of you too - whatever you feel compelled to share! I have been told I have one of the most interactive wellness sites in Chicago and that makes me smile.
Why do you not share more about your personal life on SW?
This is my most frequent question in 2016.
I do not share more about my personal life for several reasons, 1). I am not ready to share more details of my story on the internet and don't know if this is the arena that I ever will share details of my story, 2). If you really read my blog, you see 'bits & bites' of my story threaded throughout including my testimony under the 'Him' tab, 3). Some blogs document their travels and what they do with their time daily, who they are dating, what restaurants they are frequenting, all about their marriage, their health journey, etc. I personally love reading them. But that blogging style is just not for me. 4). The intent of SW is to get you focused on your own wellness, well being, faith walk and health. And to motivate you to look inward & outward to how you can contribute - with your gifts - to improving the health of the world. So you will not find where I am traveling, who I am dating, details of my personal pursuits, etc. You will find a LOT about health, community, faith and wellness though (0;
P.S. I have zero interest in becoming a blogging 'personality' like many do. I personally don't like that type of attention. I thrive 'behind the scenes'. I am truly passionate about marketing so, shining the spotlight on organizations, people, companies, books, products, etc. that are changing the world. And I love to team with them behind the scenes - quietly. I also prefer to share about more of who I am with those I trust - sitting across a community dinner table - breakin' bread together.
What are your 'go to' favorite meals?
I love a Vega One Smoothie( Mocha, Chocolate & French Vanilla are my favorites) to start my day. I mix with homemade almond milk (so much protein & beyond budget friendly) and I often toss in whatever I feel like on that given day - sometimes it's hemp & chia seeds, other days it's blueberries or almond butter. The nutritional benefits of Vega Smoothies is that you don't have to add anything in at all.
I love: Sweet potatoes and kale/chard/spinach, nuts & seeds, blueberries, apples & almond butter. Those are some of my favorite snacks!
My favorite meal is one that I throw together from leftovers in my pantry. I saute a large variety of greens, top with seeds, nuts, avocados, roasted veggies and sauerkraut.
I do not eat grains of any kind, dairy, rarely processed food and I stay away from sugar (most of the time). I eat 100% organic (when I am cookin') and gluten free. And I love it!
Are you fully Vegan?
I eat primarily plant based which means not entirely. I eat what my body needs to thrive - I eat what is best for healing & energizing my body 'in the present' - and I identify mostly with Tara Stiles outlook in her 'Make Your Own Rules Diet'.
I don't identify with personal labels at all anymore nor have I for about two years. I am a huge Animal Rights Activist and support a number of organizations that are saving animals in laboratories and elsewhere. A few examples are Beagle Freedom Project, PCRM & Wild Aid.
I use 100% cruelty free products via home, skincare, body care, etc. and I no longer purchase leather items at all. I am furthering my education on environmental sustainability as well. My goal is always to be better informed vs. opinionated.
You talk about community a lot. How do I even get into community?
I love this question and get it all the time. It confirms how much we need community - everyone desires it.
I used to think 'being in community' meant being with a lot of people - showing up to events - parties - being in large groups. And that can be fruitful and fulfilling or it can be so lonely. For me, it was SO lonely (and frankly, beyond boring) because having surface conversations over and over again with the same people - never building real relationships - isn't my 'thing'. I need to be highly intellectually stimulated (just my personality) so, these types of exchanges have me longing to be anywhere else.
Community to me is finding a tribe that is your family - that goes to bat for you (and you for them) when the hard times hit. Community to me is people I grow with. Community to me are those willing to go into uncharted waters with me and me, them. You know, when the others scatter b/c they do. Community to me means going 'deep' with a tribe you cultivated - sharing one another's burdens - and encouraging one another to evolve. And community also means doing all of the lighthearted fun activities together too.
So how do you become a part of community? In my opinion, you pray to God about it first and foremost. Tell Him the desires of your heart. And secondly, start getting to know people. You can join a church, meetups, local neighborhood community events, etc. And then comes wisdom and discernment.
It takes a lot of time and effort. It did for me. But when you find those you trust - those that are safe - and that have your back and you there's....it changes you internally. And when you are all willing to walk through life together - all of life (the messiness especially), you have found gold. Life changes within the context of community. And so does faith in God.
Is there anywhere in the world you plan to visit or have visited that you will share on SW?
Yes, Kenya - South Africa - Canada - Italy.
Would you ever date a SW reader?
Haha - I actually get this question so frequently. Yes, if I am single, I certainly wouldn't rule it out. But you won't find me chatting about my personal dating life on here (0;
Thanks for the questions guys & gals! I enjoy them! And I enjoy hearing about all of you!!!!
Enjoy the summer!
There is no city on this planet more beautiful, vibrant or electric than Chicago. Chicago is a massive playground in the summer. It's vacation for all of us. Farmers Markets - Lakefront - Sailing - Concerts - Festivals - Belmont Harbor - Navy Pier - Northerly Island - Beaches - Outdoor Cafes - Rooftop Gatherings - - just endless daily activities and entertainment. Living here during the summer months feels like a complete dream come true. I hope you are all soaking in every last hour of every day because it goes by in a blink.
Today I wanted to share a few bits & bites! If you are new to Snapshots of Wellness, Bits & Bites is a frequent 'Friday' blog about a large variety of bits & bites of wellness/life/health. I share whatever comes to mind.
First & foremost, the number of fantastic books on the market continues to rise. I am eager to read a book by Jason Helveston, Tell Me Everything.
If you are unfamiliar with Jason or Jason's website, go here and learn more. I am going to do a mini-book club with some in Chicago to discuss Tell Me Everything! We can all order the book via Amazon on June 20th which is right around the corner. So after we order it, we can meet back here on SW and discuss a time to meet over coffee - a roundtable discussion if you will over how these pages brought life to our own stories. Sound good? And if you are wondering what the book is about, I encourage you to be resourceful and head over to watch the ah-mazing - trailer.
I recently read 'If' by Mark Batterson. This book really had me looking inward at how I am walking in faith and with God. I highly recommend 'If'. And this self evaluation led me to observing my speech and types of conversations I am having on the daily.
God says that we have the power of life or death in the tongue...in our words (Proverbs 18:21). We literally have the 'power' of 'life' or 'death' in our speech. I notice that I talk about my problems a tremendous amount. And I notice others do too. So I began scouring The Bible for every single instruction from God regarding my speech - hours upon hours of diving into His Word. And the conclusion I came to was that I need to communicate in a brand new way. NOW - not tomorrow or 'one day'. NOW. And I need accountability. I need to replace every single doubt, complaint, fear based communication with The Word of God. So, I organized massive accountability. And I am changing my language, re-framing my perspective and talking about joys vs. tribulations.
Have any of you read 'A Complaint Free World' by Will Bowen? I was just gifted the book. And if you have read it, tell me your thoughts via any of my social media outlets. Yesterday, I decided to do a 30 Day No Complaint Challenge with anyone on IG that wanted to join me. If you want to join in, well come on! Head over to my IG (link to your right). June 8th - July 8th, we are not sharing ONE complaint and not discussing problems of any sort. We are replacing all complaining and negativity with sharing joys, gratitude and speaking LIFE into our lives. It's a FREE challenge that can only benefit our speech. Are you in? I hope so.
My next blog will be a Q&A from my readers. I continue to be asked the same questions over and over. So, I thought I would answer with a short blog post! So, expect that shortly.
Enjoy this weekend. Get outdoors. Hug someone you love. Better yet, tell someone you love just how much you love them and why. And get out of your comfort zone. Have FUN!
I'll meet you back here next week. I appreciate you tuning in (grateful)!
People ask me why I rarely share recipes on SW. And it's because 1). I never measure anything, 2). I creatively make meals spontaneously each day.
My body really responds well to whole organic foods from the earth. And I - unlike many others - have an appetite for less ingredients in everything I make....or bake.
I love purchasing large amounts of organic produce (for example) and then pick & choose that evening what to saute. When I bake, I tend to look over someone's recipe and then create my own version.
Today, I want to talk about these raw gooey brownies I make all - the - time. I freeze them and like having them on hand to satisfy my sweet tooth. They are made with all healthy organic ingredients and I - thankfully - miss out on the sugar crash and 'white carbs'....all of that toxicity that so many baked goods come with. And there is no processed sugar of any kind (hence the lack of a 'crash' after eating). You actually gain energy after eating them. So delicious!
I first learned how to make raw brownies after reading Deliciously Ella's recipe here.
Deliciously Ella's Raw Brownies were soooo good that I just started making my own variations over time. And that's the fun in baking!
I'll share various ingredients I toss into the blender: Organic Medjool Dates, Raw Cacao, whatever organic 'nut' I have in my pantry (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.), Coconut Oil & a little bit of Maple Syrup. And those are the base for Ella's recipe and many others. And then I get creative! I love to then sprinkle in whatever seeds I have: Chia, Hemp, Pumpkin, Flax, etc. Sometimes I add in goji berries or raisins. I make them differently every single time. This last batch, I added in roasted almond butter. And I blend.
Oh wait....you know what I did once? Prepare to salivate. I made the raw brownies and then melted a portion of a dark chocolate bar over low heat. And then poured it over the brownies - placed in the freezer - and they were so insanely good!!!! The dark chocolate served as the icing. Oh my goodness.
Try these sometime vs. grabbing for that doughnut or packaged/processed 'treat'.
I am jumping off the internet for the rest of the weekend. And ya'll know what I am about to do right now.....yes, grab a raw gooey brownie out of the freezer.
Happy Memorial Day weekend (again....see post below)!
It's Friday!!!! This makes me soooo happy. Can you believe it's Memorial Day weekend? This year is just flying by at warp speed! I almost cannot wrap my brain around it.
So here we are on the 'eve' of summer and I thought this was a perfect day to share with you my experience with the recent DIY Beauty event hosted by Sarah Baker & Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market! And you are all in for a treat because I am sharing The Matcha Face Mask 'recipe' that you can make at home as soon as this weekend to get your skin hydrated, supple and glowing!
Let's get to it!
Who is Sarah Baker & what/where is Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market? As if. I'll explain anyway....
Sarah Baker is the wildly popular -Chicago based wellness media personality - Certified Plant Based Nutrition & Holistic Heath/Lifestyle Coach & Founder of The Balanced Babe. The list does not stop there so pa-lease go join the Balanced Babe community! From my own perspective, The Balanced Babe community is a worldwide community of diverse people who are health and wellness minded - people who desire to evolve into and through a holistic lifestyle. And Sarah will walk that path with you. What I appreciate is that she has so many options for us to choose from as far as how we want to be best educated to be our healthiest selves.
Sooo, if you want to attend her events, they are so fun & educational. If you don't wanna leave your home and rather watch her on various television shows, you'll pick up invaluable health tips. And, let's not leave out the 'jaw dropping' success of the BeHealthful Retreats (psst, my favorite retreat each year).
OK, I need to stop sharing about what Sarah does b/c I am supposed to talk about DIY Beauty! But.....what is crazy is she does WAY more then what I just share above. Isn't that cray? And she has stayed humble and filled with integrity while doing it all.
Are ya'll still with me? I hope so!
Sarah teamed up with Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market. This quaint (and incredible) organic farmers market is located on Elston in the city. Who knew?!!! I continue to digress but, I had no idea this fab organic & holistic market was even here! And it's an 8 minute trek for those in Wicker Park!
In my own interpretation, Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market is a combination of various outdoor farmers markets in the city - all in one....but even better!!!! The store design has this grassroots & cozy feel with the most healthy organic produce in the city of Chicago (along with numerous other healthy food & products). And here I was shopping at Whole Foods all this time....missing out on this (and these prices)! You guys, please - head - over! And tell me about your experience!
This blog is not going as planned b/c I haven't even talked about the event yet - haha. Oh come on. Tell me you all stay on topic when you are chattin' with friends - OK then.
Let's get to the DIY Beauty event! Sarah hosted this event at Fresh Thyme.
The scene: A group of ladies snacked on organic fruits & hydrating sips while learning about natural beauty hacks you can do right at home! And not just learning but, making them along side Sarah! Sarah educated us on various benefits of matcha, botanical steams, etc.
What was great was after you learned how to make the face masks, steams & essential oil sprays, you can simply walk over and shop for the products at Fresh Thyme! What was even better is that Sarah breaks it down for you.....meaning, you learn the 'why' behind the benefits of matcha for your skin and the why behind every beauty regimen she shared. It's one thing to eat healthy & choose a holistic healthcare regimen. But it's empowering when your informed as to why it's the best choice for your body.
Do you all know how budget friendly, healthy & FUN it is to make your own skincare at home?!! And what is even better is.... the results!
I am going to share the Matcha Face Mask recipe below (you are so very welcome) and then, I am going to share more about this event after Memorial Day weekend! I am aware this blog is getting long and we all have places to be...am I right?
Matcha Face Mask:
3 tsp of Republic of Tea Matcha Powder
1 tsp Coconut Oil or 1 tsp aloe vera gel
Squirt of Lemon
Note: For extra dry skin - add one tsp of seasame oil
Result? The softest and most hydrating skin. It's ah-ma-zing.
Cost? Combining all of the ingredients above, the cost is less than 20.00 AND there is enough product for about 10-12 of these face masks!!! Just take that in folks - a fully organic - healthy - antioxidant infused - facial at home (x 10) for around 20.00.
If you are not running over to Fresh Thyme by the time your done reading this & heading over to The Balanced Babe to learn more......well, then I didn't do my job here today (0; So, I'll be back after the holiday weekend to tell you even more (and I promise to share more DIY recipes and make the blog short...and sweet)!
Cheers to supple skin & the kick off to the summer months ahead! Happy Memorial Day weekend friends!
Happy Saturday! I am starting off this blog by specifying that....that is not my foot. It is a male foot (0; haha - vanity. I was like 'I do not want my readers to think that is MY foot'. But doesn't that organic plant based box looks incredible?!
I had somehow mentally convinced myself that having a monthly veggie/fruit organic delivery to my door was 'way too expensive' but, when calculating food budgets both small and large (my own and many friends), it's actually LESS expensive for all of us to have organic deliveries and more healthy TO invest in this.
In Chicago, the two best organic deliveries (in my opinion) are Angela's Organics and Door to Door Organics. I have not tried either but, I will be trying both to decide which I prefer! Have you ever used either? Let me know!
Also, Farmer's Market season is starting NOW! Yay! Here is a list of 'all' of the Chicago's farmers markets in the city. My personal fav. is the Green City Market in Lincoln Park. Why? It's festive and the location is so beautiful! It really feels like bliss when I am there on a Saturday. Living in this city is a such a blessing.
Enjoy your weekend! It's gorgeous out so, don't waste it indoors! How long have we waited for the sun & warm weather? Longgggg.
I don't know about you but, I have a major sweet tooth. Some people crave savory snacks and others have a palette whispering 'Sweets please'.
You can satisfy your sweet tooth without added processed sugar. You can even thoroughly enjoy sweets that are actually HEALTHY! Yes, it's true.
One of my favorite sweet treats is so simple:
A scoop of Vega One French Vanilla + Organic Raspberries (a big handful or two) + Homemade Almond Milk (raw organic almonds soaked overnight) and blend. It's this thick, yummy and protein packed hearty smoothie that tastes like berry/vanilla bliss. Seriously yummy.
The fact that this smoothie is packed with a level of nutrition that will have you raising that brow, makes it even more satisfying: 20 grams of Protein, 6 servings of greens, 50% of your daily vitamins/minerals, 25% of your daily Fiber intake, 1.5g of Omega-3S, 1 Billion Probiotics, 160 Calories (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, No Sugar Added).
If I am just wanting to devour anything sweet, I will add more to the smoothie like almond butter or peanut butter, bananas, cacao, etc. This girl loves her smoothies and it's fun to get creative in the kitchen.
I hope you are all enjoying your Sunday. I hear that Chicago is about to warm up and stay warm! We earned this Chicago.....we earned this.
Keep it healthy! You're body will thank you and you're worth it!
Created and curated by Kelly, Snapshots of Wellness encourages all of you to cultivate your 'joie de vivre': Compassion for Animals via food, style & lifestyle.