Things that will help #8

  • all things in this edition of “Things that will help” are geared towards transitioning into Fall!

  1. Elderberry Syrup ~ Last year our family started taking elderberry syrup preventatively in the fall and winter months. I think it really keeps away the cold weather sickness! Matt and I take 2 tsp and Otis takes one every morning. It is pretty expensive to buy it when you use it every day, so this year I am researching how to make my own. Stay tuned!

  2. Weekly Check in ~ Lately, we have adopted a weekly check in on Sunday nights. After Otis is in bed, we sit down together with a cup of tea to discuss the week that just happened and the week coming up. It usually leads to powerful conversations that strengthen our partnership, helps us each self reflect on how we felt about our personal goals, and it gives voice to anything that needs to be said. It has become a mainstay. These are our questions: How did your week feel, and was there anything that is left unfinished or that you want to discuss? Did you feel supported? How and how not? In the upcoming week, can you anticipate how you might need my support? Then- we share anything that feels like bright spots of the week, having to do with one another- or not.

  3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara ~ A long novel and a little dark. But just breathtaking so far…and a perfect one to start as the cooler weather begins to roll in. I am not close to the end, but feel confident enough to recommend. It is exquisite. * EDIT * trigger warning* in the original post I recommended the book “A Little Life”. I wasn’t very far into reading it, and loved the language and the story. Last night I got to a part in the story that is incredibly dark and potentially triggering in terms of the physical and sexual abuse of a child. While the book seems to be beautifully written so far- I would say it belongs with a strong disclaimer and warning tag. As of now- I plan to keep reading, but I’m suggesting here that you pick this book up with discernment and eyes open to the trauma inside.

  4. Foam Rolling ~ Get a foam roller to roll out your low back, hips, thighs, and calves. I have been doing this nightly, and what a difference it makes! My body feels less bound up, I ache so much less, it seems to iron out the skin and make it smoother, and it flushes out what needs to be unwound. If this is not already part of your routine, I highly suggest it!

  5. Legs up the wall ~ Put your legs up the wall for at least 5 minutes a day. It is such a healing and grounding pose, and settles you down almost instantly. This time of year when the wind picks up, the anxiety is high and the air is super dry, it is like a salve for the nervous system. Don’t miss this little sweetness in your day. Easy.

  6. Pranayama ~ Most public yoga classes/teachers do not take the time to include breath work. If they do, it’s usually bookended at the front and back of the class and not taught in depth. If you don’t have the chance to study the breath in depth with a qualified teacher, start to explore some techniques on your own. There are plenty of resources out there to learn, and you could pick a different technique each week to discover. This week, try Nadi Shodana. (alternate nostril breath). It’s an incredibly balancing breath, reduces stress and anxiety, and calms as well as rejuvenates the whole system. Practice every day this week, and notice the difference at the end of 7 days. Wow!

  7. Favorite fall soup ~ This soup, which is a combination of some of my favorite recipes blended together over the years and then making it my own, is a fall and winter staple in this house! It’s warming, cozy, nutritious and mouth watering good. Check it out! It’s very freezable too. https://www.buffybarfoot.com/wellness/2019/9/29/favorite-fallwinter-soup

  8. Mantra ~ Lately, I have really been feeling the effects of the changing season, and how it can knock me off balance- not just in body but also in spirit. I have gone back to a very simple mantra this week: “I am peaceful” It is working and after a week or so of repetitive use, I do feel much more peaceful and at home with myself. If that one doesn’t feel relevant to you, choose a different one. But it’s nice to have some simple language to hang your hat on and replace some of the mind gunk that plays in our brains so often.

***Things That Will Help backstory:

More than a decade ago, my big brother, Benjamin, died from a drug overdose after struggling for years to survive the stranglehold of addiction. My mom and I found a small, spiral notebook next to Benjamin’s bed with the handwritten title Things That Will Help. Inspired by his, I have been writing my own list all these years. I decided recently to begin publishing them.

This practice has always been an homage to him—something that has gotten me through the hardest things in my life and has now blossomed into life medicine that I hope to keep sharing.

Things that will help #7

  1. DEEP WORK- Incorporate planned stretches of time that are free from distraction, internet, email, social media, texting, and all networking tools. Deep work requires organized hours that are devoted to your truest work, and this precious time is not littered with the mundane tasks that keep your head and your heart in the various obligatory checklists of the day. In addition ~ do yourself a giant favor and read “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. It’s all about training yourself to do this deep work, despite the planet’s pull on you currently to stay in the shallow end of multi-tasking. This book is revolutionizing my perspective on how I work and why, and my productivity is bursting through the ceiling.

  2. TIRES AND BEDS- My Dad always told me to spend money on good tires and quality mattresses. Many miles of sleeping and driving will be supported by these upgrades, and I have found this advice to be true gold, even when I am low on cash. If you are in the market for either of these things, go for the best you can get. You won’t be sorry.

  3. PANCAKES- My new favorite pancakes have exactly 2 ingredients. To make the batter, put 1 banana per every 2 eggs into a blender and blend. Pour into pan and cook and flip until golden. That’s it. Grain free and delicious, and plenty sweet enough from the banana to serve without syrup. Kids and adults love them, and they make you feel like you are eating bread-y pancakes but you are not! They are so easy and our family’s new favorite!

  4. MEDITATION- One of my favorite meditations is below. I have used it for years, and it is so simple and incredible special. (I don’t know who originally wrote it, but I am not the author)

    Sit comfortably and tall, with an easy breath and your eyes closed. After a couple of minutes of quiet centering, imagine you are speaking the following words to yourself, as if you could look into you own eyes.

    May you be happy

    May you be healthy in body and in mind

    May you be safe from inner and outer harm

    May you be free from the fears that keep you stuck

    (Repeat: imagining you are saying the words to someone you love dearly, then someone who is an acquaintance, then someone who is hard to love or who betrayed you, and finally for all living beings)

  5. NEW PAJAMAS- I threw away my threadbare pj’s yesterday, and replaced them with soft, bamboo, aqua ones that match. I am sure I slept better, and have wondered why I waited so long to upgrade my nightly ritual with this. It is equally as good as brand new socks, which many people know is my obsession. Do this immediately, and make sure you count texture as the most important.

  6. WALK- everywhere you can this fall. What a sparkly season! I am trying to walk outside for at least 20 minutes daily, and much more if it’s possible. Don’t miss the leaves!

  7. TIMELINE- As a contemplative exercise, draw a timeline of your life from start to now, highlighting the things that feel the most relevant. Notice the dips, the darkness, and the places that are flooded with light. Take stock, practice gratitude as you look things over, and move forward from now with more attention and insight.

  8. WOODSHEDDING- My husband told me about woodshedding, and I just love love love the concept. It’s when you leave your obligations temporarily and go “out back” to make art, writing, music, or whatever passion work has been tugging at you to finish or begin. It’s a serious deep dive, and can happen over a weekend or an entire sabbatical or period of time. Most importantly, it has to be a conscious period of time to focus or binge on that said passion, leaving all the to-do lists behind for that concentrated period of time. Matt is woodshedding with his song writing partner in a cabin in the woods in October, and that kind of concentrated time is glorious and in the category of “deep work” (mentioned in the first part of the post). If you have the luxury, all of you artists, carve out out this time for yourself. It is everything it’s cracked up to be.

    ***Things That Will Help backstory:

    More than a decade ago, my big brother, Benjamin, died from a drug overdose after struggling for years to survive the stranglehold of addiction. My mom and I found a small, spiral notebook next to Benjamin’s bed with the handwritten title Things That Will Help. Inspired by his, I have been writing my own list all these years. I decided recently to begin publishing them.

    This practice has always been an homage to him—something that has gotten me through the hardest things in my life and has now blossomed into life medicine that I hope to keep sharing.

Things that will help #6

Push Yourself: Lately, we are hearing so much about self care, following your bliss, and doing what you love. I agree with all this - to a point. But I think we are getting a little soft. There are times, even daily, that we need to get up, put on our pants, and do something hard. The hardest thing can be the thing that creates the most wide open space- in your heart, in your body, and in your spirit. Self care can sometimes look like friction.

Black eyed Peas: If you did not grow up in the Deep South, you might not have enjoyed black eyed peas as a main course for supper. It’s something I fix regularly, and they are packed with nutrition and filling enough to be the main event. Later this week I will put my recipe on the wellness section of my website. Black eyed peas are full of folate, Vitamin A, fiber and protein. I usually pair these hearty peas with cornbread and some kind of sautéed greens. It’s a family favorite. DELICIOUS!

Take Facebook off your phone: I am trying it. I have not loved how addicted I have been lately to mindless scrolling, and when I look at social media I want it to be more conscious and a choice I make on purpose instead of scrolling in empty moments. I will let you know how it goes, but for today it is really helping keep my mind more clear!

Treat: This is a brand of lip care that I have fallen in love with. All organic and very clean ingredients. GIANT (3x the regular size) chapsticks that taste like heaven, keep your lips hydrated, and you never lose in your purse. They are so good. You are welcome. https://www.treatbeauty.com

Water off a duck: Are you spending your precious energy and inner resources worrying about things that don’t belong to you? ahhhhhhh the human condition. Shake it off like water off a duck’s back. With this gorgeous change of season~ keep only what belongs to you. The rest- it’s noise and ugly clutter.

Cheer squad: Could you send someone a note to champion their progress? A text, an email, or better yet- a snail mail card. Keep going. I am proud of you. You are killing it. I see you. It will take a small amount of time and it will be a giant amount of heart real estate.

Sunshine patch: Those few minutes that you used to use scrolling…but now you have deleted FB from your phone….step outside of your busy day for 5 minutes. Find a patch of sunshine, close your eyes, and let the warmth and the vitamin D shine down on your skin. Imagine the sunlight pouring into your inner body and bathing your organs. Step back into your full day renewed.

***Things That Will Help backstory:

More than a decade ago, my big brother, Benjamin, died from a drug overdose after struggling for years to survive the stranglehold of addiction. My mom and I found a small, spiral notebook next to Benjamin’s bed with the handwritten title Things That Will Help. Inspired by his, I have been writing my own list all these years. I decided recently to begin publishing them.

This practice has always been an homage to him—something that has gotten me through the hardest things in my life and has now blossomed into life medicine that I hope to keep sharing.

Things that will help #5

Friends and goals: Make a short list of your most important goals. (No more than 3) Pick the ones you have your head and heart around, and put the rest away. Tell at least 3 close friends about all 3 goals, your plan to execute them, and ask for support. Specifically, ask them to check in on you, hold you accountable, and ask you questions. Build a team to support your discipline, growth, and thriving success! I do this with my 5 am. writing discipline It is so so so helpful to have your prime people checking on you.

Creative space: I have been adding conscious creative space to my day. This is different than my meditation practice, and it feels less formal. I have set aside a small amount of time every day to daydream. No music, no phone, no stimulation, no chores, no reading, no people and no agenda. Just daydreaming and time to internally wander. This space has opened up so much creativity and new ideas. I used to do this as a child, but as an adult it didn’t feel productive enough. So many riches are coming from it now, and I cannot recommend it enough!

5 Minute standing forward bend: Need more grounding? Try a long standing forward bend (Uttanasana)~ at the wall, preferably. (With your back pressed up against the wall). Even if you don’t have time for any other pose, practicing this can turn your whole day around. It’s a great way to open the hamstrings, bring more space to the lower back and shoulders, and create a sense of peaceful grounding throughout your entire body. Try this pose in your home, office, kitchen, or local airport. It will drain the grumpy right out of you.

Foods to keep on hand: When I am the most healthy and eating the cleanest, it’s because I am prepared. I keep most of these on hand in the fridge, and when I am ravenous I reach for them instead of potato chips or something with empty calories. It seems like common sense, but for me it's really been a game changer. Click link here: https://www.buffybarfoot.com/wellness/2019/7/8/easy-foods-to-have-on-hand

Care Package: One of my favorite things to do is to send a surprise care package! Pick a friend, especially one that might be blue or overwhelmed, and send them something to brighten their day. Everyone loves getting real mail, especially when it’s unexpected! Once, I mailed a girlfriend some new underwear. She had just had a baby and wasn’t paying much attention to herself because she was taking care of everyone else. It was nothing fancy, just 4 or 5 new pairs of new, brightly colored, comfy underwear. I remember how much she gushed about it! That might be too personal for you, but pick something that will light them up.

Chakra test: If you are interested in yoga, you have likely heard of or studied the chakras. Even if you know all about them, it is fun to revisit and check in with your different energy centers. Which ones are open and which ones are out of balance? A great book that has been around for ages is “Wheels of Life” by Anodea Judith. Brush up on where you can balance and support yourself energetically. They even have Chakra tests online to help you discover where you are out of balance. (just google “chakra test”)

***Things That Will Help backstory:

More than a decade ago, my big brother, Benjamin, died from a drug overdose after struggling for years to survive the stranglehold of addiction. My mom and I found a small, spiral notebook next to Benjamin’s bed with the handwritten title Things That Will Help. Inspired by his, I have been writing my own list all these years. I decided recently to begin publishing them.

This practice has always been an homage to him—something that has gotten me through the hardest things in my life and has now blossomed into life medicine that I hope to keep sharing.

Things that Will Help #4

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding” - Cheryl Strayed

  1. Cheer loudly for other people. It doesn’t mean you are less positioned for victory if someone around you has found their pot of gold. In fact, surround yourself with as many lucky and talented people as possible. Celebrate them to the fullest, and begin to notice how happy you are. Your own miracles are coming too.

  2. “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis. Listen to the album in order, preferably on vinyl. If you have a front porch, pipe it out so you can sit outside and still hear it. One of our favorites in my house.

  3. Be the honest friend who says the hard things. Be the person who loves your people so fiercely that they come to you for the most clear and heartbreaking advice. Say to them what they cannot even bear to say to themselves, and then walk with them to the end of the earth.

  4. Up your intake of Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Calcium. As it turns out, almost all of us are deficient in all three of these. (Vit D cannot be absorbed effectively without taking Calcium alongside it, apparently.)

  5. Create a travel bucket list and book your next trip now, even if it’s months away. Plan ahead, and make seeing the world a priority. We just started this process, and it’s so liberating to action what we have wished for and put it into a plan.

  6. I consider us to be reasonably intelligent people. Matt and I have been homeowners for awhile now, and have owned two houses. Somehow, we both missed the common sense day when they tell you to change the air filter on your HVAC system every month or two. We had NEVER changed it (in either house), and ours blew up. So, now it’s on the calendar regularly. I feel certain that all of you reading already know this and are laughing right now, but just in case…..

  7. Wear the shorts even if you don’t like your legs. Let your face be naked even if you don’t love your skin. Put on your bathing suit even if you hate your body. Be comfortable, fearless, fun and unashamed. That is truest beauty of all.


Things That Will Help backstory:

More than a decade ago, my big brother, Benjamin, died from a drug overdose after struggling for years to survive the stranglehold of addiction. My mom and I found a small, spiral notebook next to Benjamin’s bed with the handwritten title Things That Will Help. Inspired by his, I have been writing my own list all these years. I decided recently to begin publishing them.

This practice has always been an homage to him—something that has gotten me through the hardest things in my life and has now blossomed into life medicine that I hope to keep sharing.







Things that will help #3

  1. “Imitation is the highest form of flattery” ~ A tough one- when you think you have come up with something new, brilliant, and particularly different. Especially in the age of social media, when it seems like everyone is fighting for space on the greenest grass. Maybe scroll and compare less, and spend more of that bonus time creating. Don’t get knocked off balance, and remember there is enough space for everyone to make an offering. Check that your intentions are on track, and that your ego is not driving the car.

  2. Dance Parties ~ I am lucky to have a small child who is obsessed with music. Currently, his favorites are Prince, Devo, The White Stripes and anyone who sings “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Remember that song? Daily, Otis requires that I stop what I’m doing to have dance parties with him, which have become a large part of my cardio workout. Our neighbors get quite the show, and we both work up a sweat. It is easily the best part of the day. Even if you don’t have a tiny coach like me, have a dance party daily anyway. Total anti-depressant.

  3. Stop Procrastinating~ Finish the manuscript. Clean out your inbox. Take the old bags to Goodwill. Change the oil. Clean out the garage. Write your mama a real letter, or if you are lucky enough to still have her nearby, cook her supper. Put down your phone and look at your people. Forgive the friend you are holding hurt about- and call them.

  4. Clean your headlights~ Every couple of years, have someone clean the inside of the plastic that protects your headlight. The first time I did this I couldn’t believe how well I could see at night on the road. Little thing- big clarity.

  5. Fill someone’s bucket~ As soon as you start wondering why something isn’t happening for you, spend some energy filling someone’s bucket. Ask how you can help, and do something that takes your mind off your own emptiness. Make a casserole, run an errand for someone, or pick them up off the floor. It is the fastest way to rise out of your own shit. It helps everyone.

  6. “Desperation is unsustainable”- Cheryl Strayed. Yes it is, Cheryl. Yes it is.

  7. Broccoli~ If you know broccoli is good for you, but, like me you don’t love it, here’s what to do. Get a few organic heads of fresh broccoli. Cut it into VERY TINY pieces (this is the key step), and put it on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake until CRISPY at 375 degrees. Way better than your average broccoli situation, and as delicious as french fries. Well, almost.

  8. Be better at loving than you are at judging. It helps your insides heal and it makes everyone around you want to do it too. Gossip and judging breed more of the same. Love does too, thank goodness.