BLOG

Radical Self Care || Cultivating abundance from within

I am going to be really honest with you here… I am not very good at self-care! I probably shouldn’t be telling you this since I’m trying to promote myself as a health practitioner! But truth be known, even health practitioners struggle with self discipline! Self care can be as simple as taking the time to enjoy a bath, read a book, floss your teeth, or just lie still and do absolutely nothing for a moment… Its basically any way that you can nurture, nourish and give your body, mind and spirit what it really needs.

I have come to understand that the SINGLE BIGGEST THING that gets in the way of me being the best person I can be (the best practitioner, partner, mother, positive contributor to the world) is LACK of self care. Or, to put this in a positive empowered way… THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT I CAN DO IN ORDER TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF OTHERS AND THE WORLD IS TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF MYSELF. The more I give to myself, the more I have to give. Simple right?! Then why is it so hard to actually do!?!

I’m one of those people that will give and give to others, but who neglects giving to herself. I will cook and serve up a beautiful nourishing meal for my extended family and then I’ll just pick at the scraps at the end (its called burned toast syndrome!). This is an inherited condition, through my maternal line… I come from a stoic line of women who are incredible caregivers, but who take this service to such an extent that it becomes complete self-sacrifice. Which may seem noble, but what I’ve come to realise is that if we truly want to be of service, we need to honour our own physical, mental, spiritual needs for nourishment. It’s easy to give, but do I actually take responsibility for my wellbeing and give myself permission to receive? When we DO give to ourselves, we have SO much more to give. We are not giving from an empty cup, we are cultivating abundance from within. We can grow ourselves to be bigger, MORE of who we really are. We can start thriving instead of just surviving.

As a Chinese Medicine practitioner I know that my ability to offer really good treatments to my community is directly proportional to how much I am looking after myself… If I am doing yoga, eating well, making time for creativity and rest, I feel inspired in my medicine practice. It radiates through me with very little effort. Whereas, when I am just getting by on coffee and sugar, I create all sorts of excuses for myself about why I can’t give and soon those little seeds of self-doubt start to creep in.

Being a mother of an 11month old and a 7yr old (who is being homeschooled), it is often a challenge just finding the space to have a shower by myself, let alone do those things that really fill me up. But I’m realising that being empowered in this journey of motherhood, rather than playing the victim, means asking for help… Consciously creating and carving out those spaces for self care. If you just wait and hope that you’ll get an opportunity somewhere in the day, it will never happen. You actually need to be assertive enough to say, “I’m going to claim this hour for myself and call in the support I need to make this possible” (without feeling guilty or like your imposing). If your partner or parents aren’t an option for support then ask other mothers for help; they’ll understand!

Sometimes it means just leaving the house messy and going to a space where you don’t see all the things that need doing. It may also mean, turning off all your devices! Imagine how many magical moments of emptiness you would gain if life wasn’t punctuated by checking your devices!

The other night after catching up with a friend who is VERY good at self care… I was up later than I should be, eating more dark chocolate than I should be, and I caught myself scroll-scroll-scrolling through Pinterest, vacantly looking up inspirational quotes about self care (how ironic!) I had this great WAKE UP moment where self accountability slapped me in the face and said, “Come on Lara! You know this is the main thing getting in the way of being the BEST you, you can be Just get on with it… I DARE YOU!” I am rebellious by nature and tend to rebel against myself;  I know whats good for me but I do the opposite! So sometimes I have to dare myself to do things differently. So I said to myself… “I DARE you to drink a hot water with lemon tomorrow morning rather than a coffee!” And guess what, I did it!! Hurrah! Changing habits just takes one step… And then another. 

I got totally inspired by my little step forward and started writing a list of tangible ways that I could bring RADICAL self care into my daily life. What’s the ‘radical’ bit about you ask? Actually I’ve just used the word radical to inspire the rebel in me! In fact, these are all very small and simple practices that don’t require a complete overhaul of my life. Sometimes the littlest change can bring the deepest reward. From little things big things grow.

Here is my list of RADICAL SELF CARE IDEAS…

  • Turn off devices for a whole day. Practice listening to my own inner guidance and allow for synchronicity
  • Eat a huge kale salad with the sun shining on my face, absorb light energy like a plant
  • Do yoga for at least 30mins, including resting still and quietening my mind to finish
  • Wake up just before sunrise and drink a cup of tea whilst listening to the birdsong
  • Light some sage and thoroughly smudge the house, myself and my family
  • Book in for an Acupuncture session
  • Eat protein all day instead of sugar and carbs
  • Replace my morning coffee with a delicious smoothie and a walk on the beach
  • Light some candles and have a bath with flowers and essential oils
  • Eat smaller portions of food very slowly and consciously, chewing each bite
  • Put on some music and dance around the house
  • Sit under a tree and write or draw in my diary
  • Have a nap in the middle of the day!
  • Lay on the grass and read a book
  • Breathe consciously into my body, especially through the side ribs and back of the neck, imagine myself expanding
  • Put prayers and positive thoughts into a glass of water and then drink it

It took me 4 years to get back to consistent work after my first child. Primarily because I was trying to do it all on my own and not looking after myself. This time round I’m feeling empowered and supported, choosing to fill my cup up so I have much more to give, in every aspect of my life.

If you live on the Central Coast NSW or in the Newcastle and Sydney regions, come see me for a deeply nurturing session of Massage, Acupuncture, Moxa, Cupping and Chinese Herbs. The easiest way that you can care for yourself is just lay on a massage table and give yourself permission to receive!

Off the Grid || Living Self Sufficiently

I grew up in the densely populated area of Melbourne and always sought solace in its parklands, so the idea of living in a quiet natural environment with clean air and water was always appealing.

After University I left the city behind and moved to Alice Springs where I met some wonderful friends who were living on the land and growing their own food despite the arid environment. I loved how surplus food inspired big cook ups and creative adventures in jams, pickles and preserves. I saw how putting all that energy into the land gave so much back, not just in terms of food but also in the way it nourished spirit, family and community.

While in Alice Springs I also met my husband Billy who was born in North Queensland and had spent many years here living “off the grid”. I decided to move here and bought our 12 acre property in Koah just over a 2 years ago. We’ve been planting seeds ever since.

I’ve since discovered that living on the land is hard work! In the early stages of getting established there are multiple projects on the go and it takes time and a lot of energy. One thing we have found particularly useful is utilising the traveller networks like WOOFers (“Willing Workers On Organic Farms”), whereby travellers come and work on the property in exchange for food and accommodation. This is a great way to get help with tedious tasks like weeding! We have also connected with a good network of like-minded people in the area, so there is a regular exchange of produce and knowledge.

It is such a joy to be sharing this way of life with our three year old son Noah. I am so grateful he has such space and freedom to run around and I love watching his connection with nature grow. He loves helping out and getting his hands dirty, tending to the goats and chickens, planting seeds, collecting food, spreading mulch. I love that he understands where his food and water comes from.

Living self-sustainably means living in in harmony with nature and being responsible for what you put in and take out. It means generating your own power and recycling all your waste. We have around 30 chickens, which produce enough eggs to feed ourselves and many local families, and four goats which we hope to milk and make cheese and yoghurt from. We are also planning on hosting some permaculture courses and other retreats in the near future.

Choosing to live ‘off the grid’ is a way of actively creating a healthier world. Whenever I hear disturbing news of corporate greed and destruction of the environment I feel compelled to go outside and plant more food, to do more that generates healthy, harmonious energy. As a health practitioner I know the importance of nourishment. I can feel that this lifestyle offers a regenerative cycle of nourishment, whereby the more you put in the more you prosper and grow.

 

 

 

 

Connect Magazine || “Healthy Lunch Boxes”, March 2014 (Issue 111)

Hello and welcome to my first ever blog!  Its very exciting to be sharing information and inspiration with you. If you’re living in North Queensland, you have probably come across a wonderful local and independent magazine called “Connect Magazine”. I recently contributed article called “Healthy Lunch Boxes” (March 2014, Edition 111).  In case you missed it, I thought I’d share with you  here…

This article introduces a few basic ideas for replacing common lunchbox foods with more nutritious options. In April, I am offering a free talk called “Healthy Lunch Boxes” which will offer many more ideas on the topic. If you are in the Cairns area and know parents/caregivers who might be interested, it would be wonderful to have you along for the talk… Monday 28th April at the Marlin Coast Family Daycare Office in Smithfield @ 6.45pm.

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

HEALTHY LUNCH BOXES

Simple Ways to Create Healthier  Lunch Boxes

We all hope to feed our children food that nourishes them deeply.  But choosing good food for children’s lunch boxes each day can be a real challenge! Not only are we faced with the task of choosing foods that are healthy; we also need to find foods that our children will actually eat without our supervision. To make matter worse, there are often multiple lunch boxes being packed amid a flurry of morning activity, within a limited time frame!

Sadly, most of the foods that are marketed as “lunchbox foods” or “kid’s snacks” are highly processed and full of sugar and unhealthy fats. While this is a quick and easy way to fill a lunch box, these foods have very little nutritional value for children. It might seem like we are giving our kids a “treat” by including such foods, but often they mess with children’s energy levels, moods, behaviour and ability concentrate. When even a few of these colourful packages find their way into a lunchbox, it is usually the first thing (and often the only thing) that kids will choose to eat.

Creating healthier lunch boxes doesn’t need to cause a major upheaval. It can be achieved quite simply, by replacing “less-healthy” foods with “more-healthy” alternatives. In many cases this is a shift from processed foods to whole grains.  From pre-packaged to fresh. From white to brown.

Some basic changes include:

  • Choosing to buy rye/multigrain bread rather than white bread.larajoffe.com.au
  • Choosing wholegrain crackers rather than heavily processed white crackers. Look in the health food section at the supermarket; there are so many great options for crackers these days.
  • Instead of buying chips that are covered in flavours and colours, choose lightly salted chips. Again, there are many healthy chips in the health food section at the supermarket.
  • Try to replace flavoured yoghurts (which often contain lots of sugar and colours) with natural or honey-sweetened yoghurt. You might need to buy a big tub and put into little containers on the day (it doesn’t take long and it is more cost effective).
  • Use fresh fruits rather than tubs of fruit in syrup or processed fruit sticks.
  • Use real meat (dinner leftovers) rather than processed meats like ham, salami and those strange meat sticks!
  • The same goes for cheese; Use real cheese rather than cheesy dips and spreads.
  • Muesli bars are another product marketed as “healthy”, but often contain as much sugar as chocolate! You can replace these with tubs of mixed nuts or even wholegrain cereal. (Check out the “Delicious and Nutritious Muesli Bar Recipe” in April’s Edition of Connect Magazine).

Often it is just a matter of reading the labels and becoming more educated about what is actually hidden beneath the colourful packaging.  When we make educated food choices, we are not just choosing to nourish our children. We are also teaching them to not to be lured into the world of pretty packaging and other marketing ploys.

Easier said than done, you say? The ongoing “battle” to get kids to eat well can make you want to pull your hair out! This battle is usually laden with many accumulated emotions and complex behavioural patterns. With most fussy eaters it is predominantly a case of mind over matter. There is nothing actually wrong with food being offered, it is a battle of willpower; ‘Wants’ over ‘Needs”. A child may want sugary food, but we know that what they need in order to grow and thrive is good wholesome food.

As with any change, there is certainly going to be an adjustment period (for some more dramatic than others). Many kids these days are addicted to sugar from a very young age. As with any form of addiction, there is likely will be a withdrawal/weaning period. This can be a daunting undertaking, but the benefits are far-reaching. As caregivers we need to remember that we know better than our children when it comes to understanding what is healthy or harmful. Parents who have experienced weaning their children off breast-milk or bottles know that this process can only begin when the mother/caregiver is resolute and ready to hold her ground. It takes courage, consistency and commitment to the cause. If you don’t waiver, the weaning will often occur quicker than you had expected. Remember, this is an opportunity to make a shift that will benefit the child for many years to come, and indeed the whole family; Opening the doors to many delicious and nutritious food adventures; And to wellness on many levels.