Pregnant, MD: What’s Safe in Pregnancy Myth vs Fact, Part 1

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Photo Credit: Fiona Margo Photography

Hey mamas and mamas-to-be! There is a lot of confusing and alarmist information out there on the interwebs about the safety of lots of things everything in pregnancy. We all want to be safe, but also to not be deprived of allofthethings for 9+ months. This post is a quickie guide to set the record straight on some of the most common questions we pregnancy providers get. This, like all my posts, are not ever meant to replace the personal guidance of your own health care provider – when in doubt, as them! I’m breaking this down on the following very non-scientific scale:

Myth – Mostly Myth – Kind of Fact – Mostly Fact- Fact

No Coffee – Myth

Our family lived in Portugal when I was in Kindergarten and first grade, so that was about the time I started drinking coffee. No joke. So, when I was learning about pregnancy, you better believe I looked up all the information on this topic! I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to – even other doctors – who are under the impression people have to stop drinking all caffeine the moment they conceive. That’s just cruel.

My actual face if you told me not to drink coffee while pregnant.

The truth is, The Cochrane Review looked at the research and the best studies have shown no difference in pregnancy outcomes with moderate caffeine intake. What’s “moderate caffeine intake”? About 200mg caffeine daily. That’s one tall Starbucks brewed coffee or an espresso drink with 2 shots. Strong black tea has about 50mg per cup and regular or diet soda (bad for other reasons….but) about 35mg. Energy drinks vary widely – if you want to look up your specific fave bev, check out Caffeine Informer.

No Hot Tubs – Mostly Fact

This one is legit. Studies have shown that raising your core body temperature can increase the risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy and other complications later on in pregnancy. This is true whether it’s a high fever from being sick or you are in a hot tub, sauna, hot yoga, or even hot bath or shower at home.

Does this mean you can’t take a quick hot shower ever? No! You can go in any of these warm environments for a little while. What’s a little while? As soon as you feel hot, break a sweat, or of course if you feel light headed at all, leave and cool off immediately. If you can’t trust yourself to make that judgement, avoid altogether.

No Hair Treatment – Mostly Myth

The old types of hair treatments for dying and perming had toxic chemical derivatives which were potentially dangerous, especially in first trimester of pregnancy.

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Definitely got my hair did before these pics.

Newer dyes should be free of these chemicals and are ok. Highlights that aren’t applied to your scalp are also fine – just stay in a well-ventilated area because your breathing can be more sensitive during pregnancy. Perms and straightening treatments again vary – ask your salon if they offer safe, natural alternatives to the older more harsh treatments. More info HERE on American Pregnancy’s Website.

No Nail Polish – Mostly Myth

You can get your nails did with no worries as long as the salon uses good hygiene practices. One of my favorite midwives from my training at UCSF, Judith Bishop, wrote a great summary HERE on this. Any kind of polish and even fake nails are ok. Beware though – the chemical smells might make your sensitive nose and stomach unhappy!

No Cheese – Mostly Myth

The key here is *pasteurized*. You can get Listeria, a dangerous bacterial infection that can cause miscarriage, from unpasteurized dairy products. Pasteurized cheeses that are within their expiration dates and have been properly stored are fine. Even soft cheeses. Most restaurants should be able to tell you if their cheese is “raw” or pasteurized – if they can’t skip it.

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No Lunchmeat – Kind of Fact

This again is due to Listeria concern. You should avoid lunch meat unless it’s been heating to steaming in the microwave, stovetop or oven. Not sure how you feel about warm lunchmeat, but this preggo is NOT for it! Opt for grilled chicken, tuna salad (no more than 2 servings per week though) or other choice if you don’t like warm sliced meat.

 

No Fish – Kind of Fact

Speaking of tuna…. The main concern with seafood is about mercury. Check out and print yourself THIS PDF from American Pregnancy if you want a quick guide to which fish are “highest mercury” aka, avoid entirely or just “high mercury” aka have no more than 2 small servings weekly or lower and you can enjoy at will.

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

What about sushi?? So, cooked sushi is always ok as long as you are paying attention to mercury issues. Raw sushi *theoretically* should all be flash frozen based on USDA safety regulations and therefore should NOT have the parasites that are of concern in pregnancy. However, you are putting your trust in the sushi fish purchaser and preparer in this care, so approach with caution.

 

 

 

 

No Strenuous Exercise – Mostly Myth

There are no strict guidelines regarding exercise in pregnancy because this is highly variable as to what is safe and normal for YOU. There are elite athletes who’s “norm” is to run 10 miles or lift hundreds of pounds of weights on the regular. There are couch potatoes who get winded walking up a single flight of stairs.

Seriously, though… Exercising in pregnancy is actually key to having a healthy pregnancy, easier delivery, and – get this – fewer stretch marks! The main guide here is how the exercise makes YOU feel. Yes, that’s right, you have to listen to your body. This is not the time to “push through” and override your body telling you it is hot, too winded or  overworked. You will need to be more cautious with yourself because your blood flow is altered, your body shape is changing and your muscles, ligaments and tendons will be affected by relaxin hormone eventually.

No Sex – Mostly Myth

OK, think about it. If having sex while pregnant was dangerous, do you really think humans would have survived this long? A lot of pregnant woman have their libido skyrocket thanks to increased blood flow to the lady parts (though if you don’t that’s nothing to worry about). It is ok and GOOD to have sex if you want to in pregnancy. Get. It. On.

A few words of caution though… If you have pain or bleeding during sex, stop. Have your doctor check you and tell you if it’s safe to continue having intercourse during your pregnancy. And if you’re pregnant and single – you need to be ultra careful about not contracting an STD. They can cause severe birth defects, miscarriage or stillbirth if contracted while you are gestating. Safe sex – good. Unsafe sex – bad.

No Smoking – Fact

This includes ALL smoking. Smoking cigarettes and being exposed to second-hand or even third-hand (if you smell it even though no smoke is around, that’s third-hand smoke) can cause complications in pregnancy. If you are smoking when you conceive, talk to your provider right away about how they can help you quit. If people around you are smokers, same goes. It is NOT sufficient for them to just go outside. If your sensitive sniffer can smell the smoke, you’re being exposed. 

What about pot? It’s legal now and stuff, and doesn’t it help with appetite? NO, not safe in pregnancy. Marijuana has been shown to increase rates of ADHD, anxiety and other cognitive disorders in children who were exposed in utero. Stay away.

No Alcohol – Mostly Fact

Saved the most controversial for last! So, here in the USA, all of the official guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, etc… go along these lines, “There is no amount of alcohol known to be safe in pregnancy”. So, pregnancy providers will tell you to abstain completely from the time of ovulation if you might conceive through birth.

The Royal College of OBGYNs (Britain’s version of ACOG) takes a slightly more relaxed tone, saying “The safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all if you are pregnant, if you think you could become pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Although the risk of harm to the baby is low with small amounts of alcohol before becoming
aware of the pregnancy, there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol to drink when you are pregnant”. None of the large studies done recently showed negative effects on the baby or child with having a few drinks per week. However, the risk of preterm birth with alcohol exposure and of the devastating fetal alcohol syndrome makes pregnancy providers approach this with significant caution.

I know you are looking for a straight forward “yes you can have a glass of wine now and then” or “no, alcohol is truly dangerous”. We don’t have that yet. As a health provider, I follow the lines of saying, no amount is safe. As a woman physician, I know a whole lot of doctors who have read the studies and comfortably go ahead and have a drink now and then in the later parts of pregnancy. Ultimately, you’re in charge of making that decision for yourself and your unborn. Think about whether the anxiety when your kid seems hyper at age 3 that maybe they have subtle effects because you had a glass of wine at that dinner party is manageable vs the benefit you’ll really get from said glass of wine. You should for SURE never get drunk or even tipsy – that’s a no-brainer.

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Photo Credit: Fiona Margo Photography

What else?

This is why I called this Part 1… Please, comment away with questions, Myths you want busted, funny examples of crap your mother in law told you was unsafe in pregnancy! Part 2 will be based on your input. Whatcha wanna know??

Dr. Annie is a married mom of 2 with 1 more on the way (bump captured by Fiona Margo in the above pics, if you’re in the PNW look her up!!) and family physician in California.

Wine Wednesday: Sancerre

What we’re drinking right now: Sancerre

Sancerre is a region of France that produces some of our favorite white wine of all time for splurge nights. According to Wine.com:

Marked by its charming hilltop village in the easternmost territory of the Loire, Sancerre is famous for its racy, vivacious, citrus-dominant Sauvignon blanc.

It also happens to be the wine drunk frequently by one Mr. Grey throughout the 50 Shades books, if you were paying attention…

If you like drier whites, and you happen to find a Sancerre for under $30, buy a case. This one by Robert Cantin Les Pierblancs has a rating of 92/100 and is priced at $22.

We love this one paired with your favorite seafood appetizer like local raw oysters or shrimp cocktail.

This one was $25 in store

My husband and I splurged on a $52 bottle during a date night suggested by the local Restaurant known for its raw bar selections and pairings.52$ in restaurant $25 in store.

Certainly not at our price point for the day-to-day wine consumption, but well worth it for special occasions.

It was worth every penny. We’d never had a Sancerre before, and boy did we swoon!

Happy Whining! Wining!

Try and enjoy responsibly. (Which means uber)

The Tale of the Contaminated Pool

My family and I just had a wonderful camping week at the beach. The sun, swimming, tiki bar (what what?), and nights by the wonderful campfire with extended family were all relaxing and rejuvenating.

We reflected on the the fact that the only things we took away from camping were wonderful memories, big smiles, sun-kissed skin, and a better understanding of a need for personal space.

“Well,” we thought. “That one day was weird when we had to leave the pool because it had been contaminated.” We had just thought some kid (even though “it” happens, amirite?🤣) had pooed, which is awful in and of itself. But what it turns out to be, oh, is much worse.

Resuming daily activities Monday morning is when I quickly realized that sunsational vibes were not the only thing we brought home with us.

Phone rings: 10:00am

“Hi, Mrs. Wright…….little #2 has HEAD LICE and needs to be picked up immediately”

<Screech screech screech horror movie noise>

Those who really know me understand that I have an incredible visceral repulsion and hair-trigger panic button when it comes  to flying insects and now also to tiny creatures you can barely see that latch on for dear life and suck your bodily juices for sustenance.(Is that too graphic?)

I panic. BIGTIME. We’ve never had lice in our house before!

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It’s coming from INSIDE THE HOUSEEEEEEEEEEE

I immediately stop my work and go to get her, all the while assuming I am going to pick her up and she’s going to be covered in these horrible blood thirsty pests.

A little History with my bug hysteria can be explained in the flea “epidemic” of 2015 when my dog had two fleas. I assumed the whole house had been taken over and went a little nuts and replaced all our carpets and our couch, bought a Dyson cordless and vacuumed six times a day. Totally normal behavior…

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So, I vow to go immediately home, burn all clothes, shoes, beds, pillows, couches, carpets.

“That won’t be enough. The whole house will have to go up in flames. BURN IT DOWN”

So instead of going back down the road of epidemic, I reassure myself that I should assess the situation first, then react. High fives for rational thought.

Restoring my wits, I remember the thousands of other parents/kids/humans that have dealt with this issue in the past. And I got a lovely suggestion from our daycare provider (who was an angel and bagged two to educate me since this was our first time dealing with it) for a service we have here in Virginia called “The Nit Fairy”  They searched for, treated, checked me and my daughter and scheduled a follow up with us! I paid for it….$300 to be exact…but the peace of mind that someone did a thorough job in finding them and treating them while teaching me what to do step by step feels priceless to me. Hopefully y’all have this in your area as well! It’s worth the search.

Now…..the aftermath. As soon as my son and husband get home, they are checked and treated. I use the OTC RID lice treatment on both, and vacuum and spray all carseat heads, and regular seats, seat belts, bike helmets with the home spray included in the kit.

Now, we wait….

24 Hour Report: So far so good. All have been checked several times with combing twice.  Bug and egg free for today.

1)Mental itching and feeling of bugs all over level: expert.

2)Shampoo game: on point

3)House cleaning status: laundry done, things bagged and tagged, brushes/toys/ shoes drowned for two hours and counting.

What Do I Do Now?

I am not going to lie to you, looking through photos to show you what one of these things looks like made me throw up in my mouth.

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HOWEVER! For the sake of me never wanting YOU to have to question “what the heck do I do?” upon the words “Mommy/Daddy, my head itches.” arriving at your door, here is a guide on what to do:

Step one: Saddle up, you’re riding this suck fest for two weeks plus.

The average lice egg takes up to a week to hatch. Meaning, if you don’t get the nits (lice eggs) out, you’ll have a brand new harvest in a weeks time. You’ll have to go through the WHOLE rigamaroll again if they go unnoticed.

Get a treatment kit either OTC, call for a prescription from your pediatrician on what they recommend, or go to a place like I did that treats you there. To decide, think about how you feel about chemical OTC treatments versus using an oil based solution such as a blend of Rosemary and Tea Tree Oil in a carrier Olive Oil.

Step Two: Treat yo’self and your WHOLE FAMILY

Get enough kits for your whole crew. Even if you don’t SEE anything on them, chances are there at least one. After you treat, wait seven days and treat again.

********Always follow the FULL instructions on how to treat in the pamphlet. Better yet, call your doctor and ask them!***********

This Comb is pretty legit as a replacement for the normal comb! Not necessary, but made me feel like I was doing more to alleviate my irrational tiny bug abhorrence.

Step Three: Housekeeping Diligence

The second most important step is to be violently and insanely diligent with cleaning up anything that anyone treated has touched in the last two days before finding the, gulp, infestation.

Wash: All clothes, sheets, pillow cases, hats, princess dresses, gloves, blenders, miniature schnauzer-doodles, goldfish… I don’t care ….WHATEVER THE KID(s) or y’all HAVE TOUCHED, wash it in 130 degree water. High heat for 20 minutes and roast the little things.

Dry Clean: Anything you cannot wash at 130 degrees and put on HIGH heat in dryer for at least 20-45 minutes, should be dry cleaned. Comforters, pillows, dragon pillows, fort roofs, fort sides, fort anything.

Bag: Anything else such as toys, tiaras, magic wands, and seal it for FOUR weeks in a bag and shake it like a polaroid picture when you take it out before use.

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Vaccuum: Everything. Everywhere. All the time. Carpets, floors, couches, mattresses, headrests and car seats, your desk, headboards on bed. Just get an iRobot and call it a day.

Step Four: Pete and Repeat.

You know the old joke, “Pete and Repeat were on a boat. Pete fell off, who was left?” Yup…..basically you can clean and wash and vacuum for as long as you want. But everyone needs to be checked daily until you see no more lice or nits. Up to two weeks after last treatment. If you still see lice or nits after the two treatments, get your butt to a doctor cause you’ve got a superbug.

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You could also just shave your head if you want. Believe me, in my initial freak out mode I told the day care provider that I was going home to shave everyone’s head. I mean, why not?

Please Share what has worked for you and your family to rid yourself of these evil effers that can hold their breath for TWO HOURS under water. Unless you say Powdered Sugar is delicious and the lice hate the sugar. (name that movie??) download (8).jpeg

<Kristy mumbles “holding their breath for two f$%king hours?” BLEEECCCHHHH >

Hope this helps you not to freak out like I did. Do as I say, not as I do:)

48 hour report: One sluggish bug found……Repeating steps above….AGAIN.

Godspeed good soldiers…

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Kristy, Au Naturale: Survival in the woods, aka tent camping with kids.

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Camping is one of those activities that our family has always enjoyed doing together. Being in nature, grounding ourselves, and slowing down for a weekend has been really effective in helping us reconnect and bond when daily  life seems so busy. We camp with extended family as well, which, for us, has always been an amazing time.

Our camping journey started in a tent for seven people. There were only two of us and a puppy, so that made it roomy and doable. Our spacious luxury camping getaway quickly became a cramped space when we had our first kiddo.

When little #2 came around, that seven person tent turned into a giant canvas bag of emotions!

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So, we bought a Pop-up.

 

Now at least we had a roof overhead, a stove, and heat and air conditioning!

“What a step up!” we thought until even that became cramped with “baby stuff” and then the space above began to feel like more like this…

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Our camping nights started to become very very difficult. It was almost like going back to newborn stages for the first two nights every time we took a trip.

8 pm: Honey, the cloth diaper blew out, we need to go to bathhouse to hose the baby off.

10 pm: Mommy, I have to potty

Midnight: Dangit, now I have to pee

1am: diaper leaks onto mattress

3 am: Mommy I have to potty (again)

Suffice it to say, we…never…slept.

Now that we are GLAMPING it up in a tag along trailer with a bathroom, queen bed, and kitchen, I can look back and give a list of all the things necessary for tent camping with tiny kids. (If you’re not wanting to totally give up on it like I admittedly did)

Kristy’s no bull survival guide to tent camping with kids:

A large tent: 

Don’t want to pay $250 for a large WATERPROOF tent? Well, sorry Charlie, you’re gonna be cold and wet in a cheaper one. They can leak, not hold up in the wind, and have a tendency to be crackly and loud when the wind does blow.  Better investments equal better experiences in my opinion. This tent is big enough for your overnight bags, the essential change of clothes needed for any accidents, and extra towels/wetbags for any messes or laundry. Dew will make everyone damp and miserable even if you’re not rained on while camping.

A Sleeping Pad

Content_Team_081417_71478_Choosing_Sleeping_Pads_lg.jpgIn addition to a specific sleeping bag meant for outdoor slumber, you’ll need a buffer between you and the ground. TRUST ME, even if the beautiful weather during the day is warm, the ground at night gets cold! Putting a pocket of air between you, your littles, and the ground can help insure a better night sleep for you all. You can also use a camping pad, or an air mattress (but good luck trying to get the kiddos to sleep when you’ve basically just blown up a bouncy house in a tent!)

Pillows

One of the things people don’t usually think of, is how bulky pillow can be in the car ride and especially in a tent. They make specific camping pillows that have their own cases for storage when you’re out and about during the day and need more room in your tent to move around.

Proper Footware

What shoes you will need for your kiddos depends on time of year, and typography of your campground. We usually do a water based (crick, creek, or lake) campground so our kids can explore, fish, and collect shells and rocks. So we select our favorite Keens that can be amphibious. They are also great on hiking trails that aren’t too rocky. You’ll want an option that’s easy to slip on and off for those bathroom breaks.

Fire Utensils

Whether you’re roasting hot dogs or marshmallows, let’s be real…who knows who has let their dog pee on a stick nearby! I usually resort to bringing my washable Roasting sticks for all things S’mores related.

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For fire stoking, do yourself a favor and have a proper set of fire gloves incase you need to adjust any logs or one goes astray.

For cooking, we use this adjustable tripod that cooks veggies, meats, and will even toast bread right over the fire! It breaks down and goes right back in the box as well for easy traveling.

Lighting

You’ll obviously need flashlights for when you’re walking around at night. We always have these solar lamps hanging around as well, for use inside the tent as well as around the site itself. Kids and adults alike do well with headlamps as well. Just make sure you teach your kids not to shine it at your eyeballs.

Snacks

Overestimate the snacks you bring – basically double what they would go through at home. Pick things unlikely to melt/squash like nuts, dried fruit, whole grain crackers and peanut butter, etc…. One of the worst possible camping situation is running out of food. While you’re at it, pack yourself some extra adult beverages.

Cooler packing hack: Prep ahead of time by freezing water bottles, juice boxes or pouches, and squeezable yogurts. Use these along with ice packs and bags of ice. These will keep things cold in there for longer and also be nicely chilled when your kiddos or yourself want to eat them.

And the Piece De La Resistance

The Toilet Tent

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I cannot stress to you enough how important this little bugger is. You think, “Oh, we are camping, there’s a bathhouse right there that I’ll walk to” or “I’ll just pee in the woods cause I am woman hear me roar!”

Awesome thought. Really, it is.

HOWEVER, 9 times out of ten when your kid wakes up, you wont want to trek the 100 yards to the actual toilet when they are freaking out about the dark walk or first thing in the morning when the entire campground is sleeping and your kid is screaming that they have to go.

This tent is taller as well, so you can change in it without the hassle of ducking, if you’re tall like my family.

Putting The Fun in Family Time

We like to stay at campgrounds with lots of activities. Crabbing on piers, shark tooth treasure hunts, easy hiking, wagon rides with water balloon fights, splash parks, gem mining, local watering holes and breweries with picnic style seating can be all great things to look for. When hanging fireside, though, we always love to add magic to the experience of being outside and away from home as a family.

These amazing fire color packets change your campfire into a magical rainbow of colors that can spark the imagination of even the curmudgeonist of curmudgeons.

I hope this helps some of y’all get your family out and exploring your area or surrounding areas in order for more tiny humans to learn to appreciate and love this earth that sustains our lives. I know I am awed by the majesty of its landscapes, and weather patterns every time we go.

Oh, and no light pollution of rural campgrounds equals amazing star gazing! (Throw in a little romance for you and your partner as well!) Or some educational constellation spotting with your science kid! (There is an App for that)

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Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”

 

Sing Peace: The Power of Positive Intention

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Our scene opens to an Amphitheater. Its Grandparents Day and its my son’s first year at this Montessori School. I am excited to show my Father in Law and his wife how AMAZING this school is. It’s reputable accreditations, top notch facilities, child led education model, etc. Then the kids come out. They get in their positions for a song. Then the music starts…

Light a candle for peace

Light a candle for love

Light a candle that shines all the way ’round the world

Light a candle for me, light a candle for you

That our dream of peace, will one day come true

Sing peace around the world.

Goosebumps. Tears.

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I am utterly inspired by this song that my son’s Montessori Primary class is singing. Mesmerized by the message, I soon forget about all the impressive outward characteristics that the school offered. They, in front of my eyes, are showing me that they are teaching the kids about world peace.

What a notion! Light a candle for peace? Is it really that simple? Can I really believe that me lighting a candle for peace for all, will be enough to actualize that peace?

Yes, the power of positive intention is exactly that. Amazing, untapped, raw, power. 

“This morning, in this room, these children are using their power to change the world.”

<Andddddd……scene>

Many folks ask me whether or not I’ve heard the latest on local, national, or world news.  The many tragedies that happen daily, the “government’s latest screw up” and “this party is responsible for the demise of all humankind”. For those who absorb and feel energy,  frequently called Empaths, these types of things go beyond effecting just their thoughts. We feel this sort of devastation viscerally, which is why it can be hard for us to stay “up-to-date” with current events. It physically and emotionally hurts….quite literally.

There is a feeling of hopelessness that comes with constantly being bombarded with the negative things that go on in the world. It is not that we wish to remain ignorant, it is that the physical and emotional pain of feeling it becomes too much, and we must protect ourselves from it in order to live our best life.

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I know, kid. I feel it too.

Within the last ten years, I have developed a ritual that helps me feel the power of proactivity within what feels like a muddy bog of the energy of today’s world. When I feel taken by the overwhelming feeling of the worlds tragedy, I stop and light a candle. This grounding technique helps me to send up a prayer of protection for myself and the world. I take one moment to speak aloud my intention for that day. “I intend to live today happily and in gratitude” or “I intend to offer a feeling of peace to all whom I encounter.” Walking in that truth, I believe, has the power to effect maybe even ONE person. If I can effect one person, then the ripple effect can begin.

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I feel as though it is safe to say that most of us have heard of the Power of Intention. Ever heard of the book, The Secret? Oprah has!!!!

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Whaddup Oprah’s Book Club List?

The book explains that in the theory of Quantum Physics, everything has an energy; including thoughts. If we think about all that we have to be grateful for, we tend to open our hearts and minds to attract MORE of the same. This goes both ways. Both negative thoughts AND positive thoughts attract one another. Relying on this can have profound changes on one’s life. Simply speak your intention until it ultimately becomes your reality. In the book, that can mean financially, spiritually, romantically, or anything you else can imagine. We are, in essence, limitless.

After all, we’ve heard this same notion since we were littles ourselves.

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.” 

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Nice one, Jimminy. Thanks.

And why the heck shouldn’t they? If we are all individually powerful enough to make this happen,

imagine the potential energy of the collective?

The mountains of positivity that things like The World Kindness Movement can move.

An example lies in yesterday’s stresses I faced.  For me, they were almost too overwhelming for me to function. Money, parenting, and hormones (TMI? ah, lighten up;))got the best of me. So today, I woke up with the intention that I would feel nothing but butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows. (photo below) I even dressed the part as a reminder. Needless to say, I had an amazing day today in that I could see the good, the fun, and especially the hope in all the things that had stressed me the day before. Had I not intended to live differently today, I would have most likely felt the same stresses take me over. Silver linings are just that. Shiny lines in the proverbial sand that let us choose whether to stay on the side the negative, or to choose to see the positive.

There are ways you can get yourself involved bringing kindness to the world. The Random Acts of Kindness Organization has plenty of ideas, lesson plans, and even motivational quotes to help you on your way. If you’d like to keep it simple, then just smile at a stranger every now and again. It is said to be hella contagious:)

Or, be like this kid,  Maurice Adams, Jr..

We can all learn from Maurice. Well done, good sir.

“The Days Of Our Lives” The Power of Emotional Freedom

I spent time today talking with a dear friend, a sister in spirit if you will, who recently broke her ankle. After bringing her breakfast, which was subsequently eaten by both of our kiddos, we got to talking about praying and how we need to do more of it to attract the things we want. We spoke about being frustrated with jobs, social relationships, the diseases and illnesses that are just unfair, etc., and something she said hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m paraphrasing here, but she said to me,

“Shouldn’t we assume that people have positive intent?”

It occurred to me in that instant.  In ALL of the changes that I have been making mentally and physically, in all of the relationships that have ebbed and flowed over the past couple of years that have caused I thought have caused me pain, have been because I forgot to remember that most people are inherently good.jim-carrey-duh-meme.jpg

I was assuming, based on words or behaviors of those around me, that I was not worthy of being nurtured as a friend. I basically lost my faith in my ability to even be a good friend, and therefore, lost my faith in the excitement of new people.

This led me to a philosophy my mother and I have talked about for years, that I manage over and over again to forget.

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The Four Agreements is a book written by Miguel Ruiz that takes folks on their journey towards true personal freedom. It explores

“..self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering”

One of the keys to personal love is to follow these four simple rules in all moments of your life. It will help avoid at least some of the “triggers” that inspire the downward spiral of thoughts and emotional suffering.

Be Impeccable With Your Word

For lack of a better explanation, we must speak with integrity. This means avoiding gossip, or negative self talk. It also involves building others up, which will in turn provide you with the language and tools to build yourself in the same manner.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

DING DING DING. If I had a freaking magic button that could help me grip onto this notion, there is no limit to the price I would pay for it. This is where in the above conversation, I realized that I had totally failed. Not only had I chosen to take almost EVERYTHING personally from some people, I have also been taking things my children have said/done personally as well. And digging further, taking my SELF talk as truth. (What a mess) My personal key to emotional freedom is making THIS agreement priority in the practice.

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Don’t Make Assumptions

If you do not understand something or someone, be it their behavior, words, actions, heart, mind, anything, ASK THEM.  To avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings that don’t serve us, it is imperative that we feel brave enough to communicate in the first place. In order to not be the victim of suffering in your own mind, open your words and your heart to rid it of sadness and drama. After all, imagination is usually worse than the reality.

Always Do Your Best

My take on this agreement is that if we go forth in our day to do the best we can with all things, than any judgements coming from others or yourself are utterly unnecessary. This will vary from day to day of course, but we must remind ourselves that we are only playing with the hand we are dealt, and all we can do is face it one day at a time the best we can. Be proud of yourself, and know that we are all walking our paths.

It was in the realization that I had spent so much time not speaking with integrity, taking everything personally, not communicating effectively that allows me to understand my perceptions, that I honestly was not living my best life.

Dovetailing on Annie’s summer reading list from yesterday, The Four Agreements is my first choice read to finding a path that supports emotional freedom.  Having something everyday to remind me of these four agreements can help me, you, anyone, live a life constructed around that liberation.

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Challenge yourself everyday with honoring these four. Set reminders, put up post its or wall art, wear empowering jewelry. Hell, get a tattoo if you want! Let’s choose to live a life lifted by empowerment of self and others.

Will you join me?

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Dr. Annie Answers: Summer Reading

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Anyone who knows me well will tell you I have a bit of a book obsession. My husband has dubbed my problem “binge-reading disorder”. It’s been there since childhood. I think my personality testing (ESFJ) lands me 49% introvert, 51% extrovert for the sole reason that I like books almost as much as people. Well, if we’re being honest here, more than most people.

I’m asked a lot for book recommendations and absolutely love giving them! I read all kinds of genres from non-fiction to youth dystopian to raunchy romance to historical fiction… you name it. I usually read books that come in series – trilogies or more, but know not everyone suffers from the same binge-reading disorder I have, haha… I love specific requests, but also have some all-time faves and recent finds that would be great summer reads!

Drama/Romance Singles: Best for Quick/Busy Vacations

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

For Outlander fans like myself who were marooned with no more sequels after the last book, this one is a fabulous read. I love that the romance, drama and mystery take place in one of my favorite cities in Italy as well and features a kick-ass female lead character.

The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer

Before you roll your eyes too hard at the author here, this second work out of the Twilight author is a whole different level of maturity. Where Twilight was all teen angst and predictable plot twists (yes I read them, yes I loved them, everyone’s entitled to their own book preferences), The Chemist actually surprised me and kept me dying to get back to it when I had to put it down. Plus, again, brilliant main character chick rules.

The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

 

This one is a young adult fiction romance that will appeal to grown-ups as well. The main character is struggling through the end of high school to college transition, teen romance and a new, supernatural ability all at once (puts ordinary life in perspective!). Beautifully written story that makes you think with new parts of your brain in a fun way.

Trilogies and Beyond: Best for Longer and More Leisurely Trips

The Atlantis Gene (Origin Mystery Series) by A. G. Riddle

This series is an absolutely riveting Dan Brown-esque mystery/thriller with romance about the origins of humans on Earth. It brings in a life-on-other-planets dimension that is very mind-stretching and so fun. Again, love the smart and capable main female character and the star-crossed romance woven through.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

The penultimate book in this series just released in May, we will have to wait for 2019 to get the final addition. If you’re a quick reader – maybe wait because the anticipation is killing. me. This story of a dystopian alternate world where humans and Fae (think hunky super-strong and magical humanoid fairies, not little Tinkerbell types) have been separated and one strong-willed young woman’s actions will bring about a radical shift. Romance and mystery and drama abound in the beautiful set of books. I’ve already read the whole series twice and can’t get enough!

Non-fiction That is Actually Fun to Read: Best for when you want to learn something but also not be bored

The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz

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I’ve already posted about the low-fat lies that have been spread throughout western society due to lack of good science and a few big egos along with a whole lot of well-meaning people. This book breaks down in readable terms the actual history of this, the impact for nutrition science today and also how you can change your health and life with the knowledge. Backed up by meticulous footnotes full of research, this book is worth reading and sharing.

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington

This is another thing modern, western society has been getting WAY wrong. We don’t sleep enough at baseline and lots of people are sabotaging their natural sleep and then drugging themselves. This can have very serious negative health effects. I’m not talking about ‘feeling groggy’, I’m talking about car accidents, dementia and even increased risk of cancer. This goes over real, practical advice for improving your own sleep that aligns with the best research out there.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Lawson herself suffers from mental health issues and is able to be honest and raw and f*cking hilarious about them in a way that magically uplifts your own mind. I laughed so hard at this book, I had tears rolling down my face and ab cramps. I still giggle every time I pass a piece of taxidermy to this day. Do yourself a favor and get it.

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OK, ok…. I’m cutting myself off! I could go on all day.  I’ll just have to do more of these posts – have a specific request? Leave a comment and I’ll add to my list for next time!! For now, g

rab your beverage of choice and relax with one of these great reads.

Love to you all, especially our faithful followers 😉

1Dr. Annie is a married mom of 2, family doctor and self-acknowledged book addict in the Sacramento area.