Things that will help #10

1.    BUNDLE UP

It’s cold. Bundle up anyway, and get your body out into the morning. Move your legs and your arms and your heart, and be grateful for all the things that are not broken. Breathe in the fresh air around you, and make time for an electronic free walk in the world. 

 

2.    INDEX CARDS

I got this one from Anne Lamott. Keep index cards and a pen in all your purses, pocket, bags, and cars. Writers, especially, when something crosses your mind that feels like a spark or a valuable moment, write it down. You will forget and you do forget, and this how we can hold onto to our ideas before the wind blows them away. 

3.    TALK TO DEAD PEOPLE

So much has happened, and Benjamin never knew most of my dearest people. So, I talk to him. I tell him, sometimes aloud, about my life and my people. I ask him for advice, to show up in the day somehow, and it helps.

 

4.    BANANA/ QUINOA MUFFINS (GF)

These are a family staple in our house. Easy, healthy and delicious. Check out the recipe here.

https://www.buffybarfoot.com/wellness/2019/10/25/banana-quinoa-muffins-gluten-free

5.    ASK

If something breaks too early and you just bought it, ask the company for a solution. I am always surprised that when I ask, there is usually a support system in place and people are happy to help make it right. I spent years not asking and trying not to be “trouble” for anyone. I swallowed a lot of things I shouldn’t have, because I was afraid to ask. Because I learned this valuable lesson, I have new boots on the way to replace my torn ones that broke way too early.

6.     A REAL LETTER

This is one of the original “things that will help” we found in Benjamin’s little red book. Write a letter to the true source of the problem, and pour out your story. Even if it is a letter never sent, there will be something healing in the process, and just that act of writing it will cleanse your insides.

7.   INVERSION TIMINGS

Get upside down regularly. I love the strength and clarity that comes from yoga inversion timings. (handstand, forearm stand, headstand, dolphin, legs up the wall, downward facing dog, L-pose). Set your timer for a minute (or something relevant and doable for you), and practice daily. **If new to this practice, please seek instruction and alignment clarity from a qualified instructor before diving in. 

***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 #9

1. Defer talent~ Don’t try to do everything that needs to be done. When you defer certain things to other people, it frees you up to invest your time in valuable pursuit of your own desires, gifts, and offerings. Most of the time, it means you have to pay someone to perform these things, but know you will be paid back in time and productivity. For me- taxes, websites, math problems, furniture delivery, car maintenance and ironing- are some of the things I now defer. The time and creative wealth that has sprung from that space is irreplaceable.

2. Support small business~ Whenever you can and however you can, support small businesses, local artists and teachers, and anyone who is cobbling their path together to support themselves. It’s so easy to order from Amazon- I know- but make it a goal to buy the old fashioned way as much as you can. It’s better for the planet, and most of the time the quality difference is through the roof. Do you love the painting on the cover of this blog? It’s painted by my friend Marcy Wurzburg Stagner. You can contact her at marcystagner@gmail.com to buy this painting or others like it! I love her work!

3. Water~ Drink more water than you think. Especially this time of year when it’s so dry and the season is changing! I cut up a lemon into small pieces, which helps me know how many glasses I have had. Super simple- an easy way to track hydration!

4. Rearrange furniture~ My husband is better at this than me- but we regularly move our furniture around in new formations. If you want a refresh without buying new pieces, then move them around! It’s like a whole new room. Currently, I am in love with our new living room.

5. Save it~ You don’t always have to tell everything about what you’re up to. Holding things close to your vest while they marinate will often give them potency, especially when you don’t know exactly where things are headed. There is a time for outside feedback, and there is a time to cook things in your own cauldron for awhile- learn to detect what your work needs to flourish.

6. Sesame oil~ Favorite fall and winter ritual- sesame oil on my feet before bed! It’s warming and calming- and a great way to lock in moisture and support a good night sleep. Add your favorite essential oil too! It’s a small thing but a sweet addition to the end of your day.

7. Teachers~ Take time to honor your teachers- whatever form they come to you. When we remember our teachers, it’s a way of telling how our path was built. I have had so many along the way, but today I will name a few. My mother, Anne Lamott, Cheryl Strayed, Annie Dillard, Elena Brower, my current 300 hour trainees, Otis, Matt, and pregnancy.

8. Move everyday~ If the space for a workout doesn’t magically appear, then make an opportunity for movement anyway. Do lunges while you wait for the tea kettle to boil, or make a game for you and your toddler to race to the park. Get your heart pumping and move your body every day, even for a tiny amount of time. It will make a difference in your health, happiness, and heart!


***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 #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.