The Art Of Advice

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Relearning Living

Do what feels good. Earlier this year that sounded like such an easy thing to do. As I continue my journey with Tammy, uncovering and discovering all kinds of things inside of me it's time for me to make some discoveries and changes outside of me.

Before I get to that, let me announce, with great triumph and joy, a name has come to me. Better than 2/3 of the way in, this six months to a better me with the professional advice of my good friend, Tammy, is the Relearning Living chapter of my life. Everything that I once knew just doesn't apply anymore. All the things I was working towards, thought I wanted and just pined so fiercely after, suddenly don't matter.

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Living in the Now: The Only Way to Create a Better Future is to Show Up Right Now

Right now! Everything is important. Let me explain why. 

Take a look at recent events around the world-the stuff hitting the headlines and the stuff registering under the radar. Genetically Modified foods are permeating the American food supply while other countries are banning them, natural disasters are striking at an increasing rate, oil is running out and wars aren't being won. In fact, the more attempts many seem to make end up to be in vain-as they just exacerbate the situation.

Why? Because people aren't here right now. It's a little along the lines of Zen-but this is about more than spirituality and clearing our minds. The thing about the NOW is that it's asking us to show up. If you quiet yourself, I'm sure you can hear it calling you. You know, like in the fifth grade when teacher gives roll call. Are you there raising your hand? And upon raising your hand, are you daydreaming or fully in the present?

When we're present, we notice all of these things happening in the world. All the calls to action to save the forests, save the Earth, save the polar bears, save the mangroves, save, save, save because it's going away! Gratefully movements such as slow food, sustainable living, permaculture and so on are a great start, but when we're seeing the disappearing of a species such as bees, this is the greatest wake-up call. It's the smallest of creatures indicate symptoms of a larger imbalance. When the little things that keep the bigger stuff tied together aren't around anymore, we know the symptoms are serious.

SYMPTOMS. The vanishing of Earth's bounty aren't independent problems of their own. They're signs, or symptoms, of the larger problem: unconscious living.

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Diva Meet Flow: An Eco-Friendly Approach to Feminity


I'm putting my foot down. I've had enough! I am 100%, positively, absolutely fed-up with tampons! The word itself "tampon" is embarrassing. I've even heard teenagers toss it around as an insult to other kids. The word tampon doesn't conjur up any nice emotions, and guess what, it doesn't leave anything nice around either.

For awhile, tampons were a nice quiet way to deal with a woman's monthly cycle. Now, I want to call an end to dealing with woman's issues and start talking about them, discussing them. Let us bring to light how natural a woman's cycle is, how essential it is to her health, both physical and mental.

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Public Transportation and Relating: Stephanie Larson Elaborates on Closeness and Security

You ever hear of something, only to have it continually reappearing in your life? Some call this chance or coincidence, others call it serendipity or perhaps even a message. Never the less-the issue of relationships and the deepening isolation many feel in our modern society seems to keep coming up.

Case in point-this video was posted by one of my friends on Facebook the other day. The next day I received Steph's article to post here on The AoA. I invite you to explore the video and what Steph has to say on the matter. I also encourage you to share your feelings and thoughts in the comments.


Stephanie Larson writes:

Public transit is an relational phenomenon.  I've sat on the "L" a number of times and the image radiates every time.  We are solemn, melancholy almost. I have my thoughts, as they have theirs. To others, I am simply another person on the "L" with the same solemn look, I suppose. We are all there for a common purpose -- to travel to our destination; to get to where we are going as fast as we can. We pack ourselves in as tight as possible, invading our own personal bubble - awkwardness ensues. We get that uneasy touch in the subway, our armpits are exposed - holding on so we don't all topple over.  As I ride through on public transit, walk the city streets or drive my car and gaze at the others next to me that are in their own little bubble; I must remind myself through John Powell's words, "There is no fixed, true and real person inside of you or me, precisely because being a person necessarily implies becoming a person, being in the process. If I am anything as a person, it is what I :: Think . Judge . Feel . Value . Honor . Esteem . Love . Hate . Fear . Desire . Hope for . Believe in . & am committed to ."  How do I begin to answer that with words?  For daily living answers those for me, for us.

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Liver Detox: What to Expect When Cleansing

Last week I wrote about my experience with colon hydrotherapy. This week, and get ready this post isn't for the squeamish, I'm going to share my liver (also known as gallbladder) cleansing experience.

First, here are the basic steps to doing a liver cleanse.

  • It's advised to get a colonic before cleansing the liver. This preps the intestines by clearing them out, making stones easier to pass. Your liver also gets a nice little massage too.
  • For at least three days prior to the liver cleanse, drink Organic, Unfiltered Apple Juice.
  • For three days, consume Ortho Phos or Orthophosphoric Acid in your apple juice.
  • On the days leading up to the liver cleanse, eat light, healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Avoid heavy foods that are processed or fried. This will make the process easier.
  • On the night of the third day of the apple juice-mix together 1 Cup of Organic, Cold Pressed Olive Oil with the juice of 1 grapefruit and 1 lemon, preferably organic.
  • Try to not eat anything 2-4 hours before drinking the mixture. I ate my "dinner" of rice and mung beans at 4pm that day and drank the mixture at 6pm.
  • You'll need to shake the mixture. Drink it down. I used a straw to help. Took me almost an hour to get it all down.
  • One you've drank the oil/juice mixture, lay on your right side for at least 30 minutes. I had no trouble with this. It's when I tried to get up I immediately felt nauseated.
  • It's advised to thoroughly clean your mouth and teeth following the oil/juice. Also, drinking peppermint tea will help with nausea. Thanks to the tea, I was able to keep all of the oil down.
  • Take 2-3 Turkey Rhubarb capsules before bed. This will help with elimination in the morning. Many liver cleanses include drinking epsom salts which is too harsh on my sensitive digestive track. Other people have reported the salts causing vomiting-which you don't want to do-you want to keep the oil down.
  • In the morning, you will pass gallstones in your bowel movements. How they look will vary depending on the person. Just use Google for pictures of gallstones to get an idea of what you're looking for.

Gallery sneak peek (5 images):

View the gallery...
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Colon Hydrotherapy: The Key to Happiness is Found From Within

Are you happy? If you know it, by the time you're reading the next line you'll have raised your hand, clapped your hands, and if you're really happy, already done a little dance.

Any sign of waiver, I have to ask you: What's stopping you (from being happy)?

I find it funny how the simplest questions often throw us for the biggest loops. So let me tell you the easiest, most efficient and effective way to happiness, health and building a deeper relationship with yourself and your body. Colonics.

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The Future of Friendship

Friends are angels. This is the future of friendship as I see it.

Friends keep watch over us, they guide us, they love us and without our even knowing it. There's been a bit of debate lately over the definition or description of what a true friend is, as if there were a lesser, true friend option. The latter being the lesser really isn't a friend at all. Describe away with words like, best, true or kind of, but a friend is a friend.

You don't have to know someone long to know if they are a friend to you. You don't have to stumble over yourself before knowing if you want to be a friend to someone else. Friendship is the kindleling for the highest of all, love.

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Forgiving Myself: How I'm Making Peace With the Past

If you read my entry a couple weeks ago, you know that my past has been a bit tumultuous, by no one's fault but my own. There it is, the word "fault." Now, I'm a big fan of looking up the meaning of words. We all know what fault means or implies, but here's a refresher for the sake of the story.

As defined by

1. a defect or imperfection; flaw; failing: a fault in the brakes; a fault in one's character.
2. responsibility for failure or a wrongful act: It is my fault that we have not finished.
3. an error or mistake: a fault in addition.
4. a misdeed or transgression: to confess one's faults.
5. Sports . (in tennis, handball, etc.)
a. a ball that when served does not land in the proper section of an opponent's court.
b. a failure to serve the ball according to the rules, as from within a certain area.
6. Geology, Mining . a break in the continuity of a body of rock or of a vein, with dislocation along the plane of the fracture (fault plane).
7. Manège . (of a horse jumping in a show) any of a number of improper executions in negotiating a jump, as a tick, knockdown, refusal, or run-out.
8. Electricity . a partial or total local failure in the insulation or continuity of a conductor or in the functioning of an electric system.
9. Hunting . a break in the line of scent; a losing of the scent; check.
10. Obsolete . lack; want.

Reading any of that doesn't really inspire positivity, now does it? For me, fault finding is a horrid habit of mine. I can find fault in just about everything, most easily in myself. I used to blame my Virgo side. (September 23rd birthday here makes my Sun sign a Virgo/Libra cusp.) Alas, that's not only really silly, but it's also pretty dumb. It's dumb because putting blame on something out there is basically assigning responsibility outside of myself. Anything outside of myself is out of my control; it makes me the victim; it says, "Rachel, you can't do anything about this. This is just the way you are." That's not really a nice thing to do to myself, or at least this is what I'm learning with Tammy.

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Attitude is Everything in The Circle of Life

I'm a big fan of symbols, the intuited, the ethereal, emotional, everything and anything intangible. But there are sometimes when only real, see-it-to-believe-it evidence is needed. That time is now. I need to know I'm making real progress with my work with Tammy. She must have sensed this need (she's pretty darn good at that sort of thing). Without my asking, she sent this chart along to me the other day. All I had to do was put a little dot in the sections of the circle to correspond with how I was feeling about each. The further in toward the middle, the less satisfied I'm feeling, the further toward the outer edge, the better. Simple, and who doesn't love simple?

The first circle represents where I was when we started with this sort of work I've been doing and she's been coaching me with. It's pretty kattywompus if you ask me. I wouldn't want to try to roll that ball down a hill!

The second circle represents where I'm at now, three months after our start. It's pretty awesome, right? I mean, the difference between the two is pretty striking.

What's even more awesome is that not much has actually changed in my life. Ok, ok, some things have changed. I'm doing more yoga, I've cut out tons of sugar in my diet, trimmed my nicotine to a sporadic indulgence instead of a compulsory habit, we got a doggie and work has been more steady. However, my day to day life has changed very little. I mean, I still live in the same house, still enjoy the same relationships. In other words, if you were to take a snapshot of my life three months ago and compare it to now, the only difference you might see is more happiness in my eyes; the rest of the stuff more or less looks the same.

This is a BIG DEAL if you ask me. This is evidence and proof enough, for my needs anyway, that attitude really is everything! How else on this Earth could I feel better about my career and education when all I've done is travel down my current path a little farther? I haven't taken any classes, elevated my degree from a Bachelor to a Master, or anything like that. 

I have noticed I do make more time for reading and pleasureable things in my life. Maybe that's it? Choosing to enjoy life instead of making everything work, work, work all the time. There is definitely something to that! We all talk about it, but it's the doing the living and stopping the complaining and victim mindset that changes everything.

The thing about all of these changes I'm seeing in my circle is I've made only the slightest of shifts in these areas, and I feel a world differently about them.

This is pretty cool stuff to me! So if you want to see what a little attitude change can do for your life, just find Tammy on Facebook, YouTube or on her site and she'll get you set up with her charts and ideas for making your circle of life more complete. It doesn't take nearly as long as you might think! Ok, I'm off for some cartwheels! Seriously, when was the last time you did a cartwheel?

Gallery sneak peek (6 images):

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Old Habits Do In Fact Die Hard

Things had been going pretty hunky dory during these past few months with Tammy. Lots of positive change and growth! I must have stretched myself a bit too far in some capacity because last week was a bit of a doozy for me. Nothing particularly bad happened. I continued my yoga, journaling, single cigarette because I feel like it, healthy eating, new attitude towards the world-way of life. But I got majorly stressed out.

There's nothing like having two exhibitions in one month to get me all riled up. While this might seem like a lot for many-I tend to be one of those, kinda, sorta, private types. Don't get me wrong, when we meet-I'll probably be either chatting or dancing up a storm, appearing to be an extrovert, but I often choose books, knitting and walking around with my camera over bars and parties. The time has come for me to emerge from my Winter work cave and I'm really excited about it. And when I get excited about something, my already high energy surges. When that energy doesn't have anywhere to go-it turns into tension or anxiety. I somehow managed to think I needed to work more hours, forego working out and going to bed at a decent time because "I have so much work to do." But really-I think I did more spinning my wheels than anything.

This seems like a fairly common thing-at least according to Tammy. People make huge amounts of progress, but sometimes slip back into old habits. My old habit of skipping meals, exercise and sleep to work more, get more done and just try to be superwoman left me feeling vaguely ill, grumpy, snarky and pretty embarrassed of myself.

We had a great meeting over the weekend and she got me set straight! We talked about guilt, love, having purpose and all kinds of things that got me back on track. It's amazing what a single hour with her can do to keep things going in the direction we want them! I'd love to get into everything we discussed and all the exciting new revelations-but I really want to tell you about these exhibitions I'm so excited about! (I promise, these posts are coming-I'm also excited about those!)

I am lucky. I feel really damn lucky to know Brett Manning. She's not only an extraordinarily gifted artist, she's also incredibly motivated. Brett put together this fantastic show coming up this Saturday, March 12th, at The Garden. Learn more about the Patterns and Portraits show by clicking here: PnP Blog Anything more I say will just be endless gushing about her work and how honored I am to be showing my work amongst many other up and coming artists in Chicago.

I am also extra damn lucky because I have another opening the next week! I mentioned the Contemporary Portraits by Women Exhibition a little over a week ago right here on the AoA, but I wanted to add a little reminder to make sure to make it to this event this St. Patrick's Day! The opening is early, so you could start your night at the Northern Trust Bank before making your way to your final destination. See more information in the photo slideshow or by revisiting:

An Ending is Always a Beginning

or my other blog: Wolfe Log

See you soon!

Gallery sneak peek (5 images):

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Peak Oil: When Reduce, Reuse Recycle Isn't Enough

Good thing I'm kind of a hippy. I relish in enjoying the most basic in life, nature, cooking, doing-it-myself, living with less and soon, growing my own food. I dig holistic health, natural healing, spirituality and building communities. All of these things which are becoming more and more mainstream-this is a very good thing.

Have you ever thought about why these things are growing in popularity? How the New Age is transforming into the Now Age? I think a lot of people are slowing down and starting to notice the way we've been living, increasingly over the past 30 years, is just not sustainable. The not-so-funny thing about it all is we aren't going to have much choice in how we live our lives soon.

I watched a move a week ago that presented a great analogy to the current state of things, and when I say things-I mean everything: the economy, agriculture, relationships, anything that is life and living. Michael Ruppert said the collapse that's happening now is like the Titanic sinking. In this situation, you have three basic groups of people:

  • The deer in headlights people, the people panicking and causing chaos for nothing.
  • The people who say, ok, let's build a boat. Show me how, I want to help.
  • The people that say, ah you crazies, I'm going to get a drink at the bar.

Collapse is a documentary movie about peak oil, the water crisis, government coverups and other things those people at the bar call conspiracy theories. The thing is, they aren't theories at all-they are real facts. While the media is often a bunch of bullhooey, the important information is still there. The facts, the scientific data doesn't lie, doesn't have an opinion and doesn't care how you feel about it either. (Don't worry, that's what I'm here for-to care about how you feel about all of this!)

We are running out of oil-fast. Funny thing is a lot of people think alternative energy sources are going to save us. This is funny because it's just not going to happen that way. Think about it, it takes energy, power and oil to build EVERYTHING that is a part of our daily lives. Coal plants, nuclear plants, hydro-plants, even solar panels and windmills take energy to make. Airplanes, tires, bottles, food, cars, cell phones, you name it-even if it doesn't take oil to run it, it takes oil to make it. Without oil, our whole lives are in for an abrupt change-that is, unless you're prepared.

I can get into everything the movie covers, but you're better off just watching it. It's streaming from Netflix right now. I'm sure you can rent it. Better yet, why not grab a copy and get your neighbors together for a movie night? Community is going to be the answer to everything.

Together, we can grow our own food, wash our clothes by hand, work, share stories and play games. Conjur images of those living off the grid if you will-but they're ahead of the curve here. They're learning skills we are all going to need. 

I encourage you to learn about peak oil, sustainable agriculture, living off the grid, ditching your cell phone and getting a landline, building community and trust amongst each other.

While the movie presents the facts, I can help present a few solutions. By the way, this is happening now, the collapse, so I strongly suggest preparing yourself and those in your life now, so when we no longer have a choice to live without oil, there isn't mass hysteria. Goodness, that would just be awful, now wouldn't it?

So let's think on the bright side! Here are some things I'm going to be doing over the next several years:

  • Learn about organic farming.
  • Buy organic seeds, stock up! Stick 'em in the freezer to make 'em last longer. Learn about seeds in general.
  • Pick a location with a good water supply. I will not be moving to the L.A. area because of this. However, wherever you're living, start collecting rainwater in big barrells.
  • Stop buying things wrapped in plastic.
  • Stop buying things shipped from half way around the world.
  • Stop valuing money. It's not real anyway.
  • Start learning skills that have real world value. Sewing, furniture building, natural healing, you name it-things that people NEED for survival are really important skills to have.
  • Continue art, music and FUN! advocacy. We're all going to need outlets for expression and joy!
  • Practice mindful exercising and living. Yoga is my favorite thing for this. It gets me in tune to my body and the planet.
  • Tuning into the planet.
  • Realizing every action has a consequence. Everything matters!

Watch the movie, there are a few suggestions there-but I have many many more. There are already people out there building communities, educating about sustainable living and farming. I can help point you in the right direction. Why not use Facebook to connect with people and learn? I've learned a whole lot about holistic dog food, to organic seeds, to yoga schools and more from my FB connections.

Take a crash course about the economy. Chris Martenson has a great starter series right here: The Crash Course

Learn about Michael Ruppert and please take 80 minutes sometime in the near soon to view Collapse. The information is presenting in such a concise and gripping manner. Be informed for the sake of survival and for the love of life! I don't know about you, but I certainly to be one of the types of people learning how to and building boats. Come sailing with me sometime-ok?!

Collapse Trailer-Enjoy!

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An Ending is Always A Beginning

I'm seeing the end to the way I once was, the way I thought, spoke and behaved. Most of what's ending for me cannot be seen, but I can feel it. One thing that you can see, is my work hanging in the Northern Trust Bank at 50 S. LaSalle Street now until April 1, 2011. 

The work is from a new and ongoing project, titled Sibylline. Get a preview of the work below and then go see it in person! The work is for sale, and I appreciate all the support I can get. I'm working on a new photography book and two other book projects right now, so I sure could use it! Plus, the project itself could use some support. Here's more information about it:

SIBYLLINE / To have a secret or hidden meaning or to be characteristic of a prophet. Our stories run deeper than we see. The modern-day embodiment of an old soul and the unseen are what these photographs aim to uncover. I ask the question, what can we know from what we see? This woman has been living with epilepsy since childhood and shares her comparable and extraordinary experiences in this story. By exploring the daily habits and rituals of a young woman with an old soul, I hope to tell the story of the striking similarities and differences we face as our lives unfold.

This exhibition came so easily, at least, in comparison to other exposure I've gained. Having taught myself photography and having to go out there and make all my own connections, it hasn't been easy-not that it's easy for any artist, but going to an art school does come with those connection benefits. Anyway, I sure hope this is the beginning of more shows that just seem to float in my direction. 

Here's the information again:

Contemporary Portraits by Women Photographers

Northern Trust Bank, 1st floor Main Lobby

50 S LaSalle St, Chicago

February 28th - April 1st 2011

Opening Reception and Cocktail Event

March 17th 5:30-7:30pm

Gallery sneak peek (2 images):

View the gallery...

The Best Way to Stop Smoking: Have Faith In Yourself

Whooo! No more cigarettes! Icky, icky, phooey! Ok, I'm still letting myself have one if I want to. And that was it: I'll have one if I want to.

That little sentence right there became incredibly powerful for me. Suddenly, quitting smoking became easier after that thought. It works because I want to quit, really bad! But I'm a bit romantic about the notion of smoking. Conjure images of French films and sexy cigarette ads. Yes, it's absolutely silly. I never said I was a rational human being! I am, however, a feeling human being. I do what moves me, what makes me feel right and wonderful.

Truth be told, not smoking does make me feel better. There are times I still want one though-just because. So I keep a pack around. Just knowing there's a cigarette waiting for me, makes me want one less. It's kinda weird. Reverse psychology or whatever you want to call it-does it matter what it is if it's working?

So if you're trying to quit smoking, I suggest you keep a pack around. Cold turkey works for some people, but withdraw symptoms are enough to make anyone go running back to the WHOLE PACK! And that's not really progress, now is it? So taper down, switch from a chemically tobacco to a cleaner one. American Spirits seem to be ok. They don't stink quite as bad either. Hey, some people enjoy the smell of tobacco.

The thing about doing this, keeping a pack around thing is you can't just have one anytime you THINK you want one. You have to learn the difference between a body nicotine craving, a psychological craving and just wanting one. Quitting smoking can get you back in tune with your body. I'm feeling more in tune with mine! Then again, I do yoga quite a bit-which is awesome for just about everything!

Happy not-smoking, or only smoking when you REALLY want to!

It's Working: How I'm Manifesting My Dreams Into Reality

Relearning how to live isn't easy. I'm generally a happy, healthy person-but over the past couple months, I've been working with Tammy on how to be an even more content and optimumly healthy person. (Yes, I know optimumly is not a real word.)

Before I get into what's happening now, it's important to understand a little about my background. The past seven years, ok more, have been really hard. I'm not looking for sympathy here, but let me just tell you I've been through a lot. I survived an insomnia filled adolescence, complete with suicidal thoughts and therapy sessions. I pushed myself through college in three years, gaining a bachelor degree I was more ashamed of than proud. Work after college wasn't the best. Sexual harrassment involving goverment officials, I'm not kidding here, and an inability to get excited about the mundacity of what I was doing-writing copy for products I would strongly advise no one to buy! (Most of the stuff on our grocery store shelves is poison! And if you want more information on this, please get in touch with me!) Life in the city was squashing my tree-hugging ways. There was tons of stuff to do, tons of people to meet all the time, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't find my place. So I moved to Austin, oh, for about a month. Then I went and did something really nuts; I got married to someone I hardly knew. We moved back to the area, and I learned a lot about what marriage is, isn't and should and should not be. That didn't last long, and I wound up back where it all started-in my hometown of Byron, Illinois. I wasn't there long either. I wasn't anywhere long for the past seven years. Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it all. I ran around trying to make everyone happy all the time, leaving me depleted and overwhelmed with how the hell I was going to make it out of the hole I'd dug myself in. 

Then something shifted around July last year. It was slow at the start, but I knew I was onto something. My best friend of seven years became my boyfriend, and just months later we were living together. We still are, and it's getting better everyday. My work situation seems to be picking up too. I'm actually gaining more paid freelance photography, writing and art opportunities. (This just after I made a declaration to everyone I knew, I'm NOT doing anymore work for free!) It seems the more I focus on just doing and less on being afraid of how things will turn out, the more good stuff just keeps coming my way! The power of intention is really a beautiful thing!

Don't get me wrong. I still have downer days, but overall, I'm finding myself surrounded by trees (which I prefer to concrete), nice people that "get" me and I am more content and healthier than I've been in many years. And I'm having mini-epiphanies all the time. Here's the latest one:

Understanding current conditions in my life matters less than figuring out what I can do about them, to form and literally create the conditions I want.

In other words, it seems therapy didn't do so much for me. DOING stuff does something for me. This isn't for everyone, and we all need some theraputic time with a friend, relative, ourselves or someone else we can trust-but I think that instead of dwelling on how things ARE, I can create what I want by dwelling on what I WANT and what I LOVE about what I have NOW.

I'm going to be manifesting a lot of stuff in the near future! More exhibitions for my photography, more books published, more time for me, more love, better health, more energized body, more traveling and dammit, a puppy!

The time for wanting has ceased. The time for manifesting dreams into reality is now. And a little secret here, it is for everybody!

So stay tuned for more art news, information about my forthcoming gift book, memoir and manifesto, and travels! And I sincerely hope we will meet someday soon. This is where I'll be:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I will meet you there. -Rumi

So if you want to know more about anything I mentioned in this little diddy here, please write to me. If you are a publisher or know anyone who is, please get in touch with me:

Love is in The Air, and Everywhere!

Like it or not, it's Valentine's Day! And I wish you a happy one at that! For me, a lover of love, this day is great, grand, magnifico, but to be honest-it really isn't too much different than every other day of the year.

To me, love is life. Love is everything that is alive and well. When there is trouble, misery, dissatisfaction-there is a definciency of love. Look over the globe. The worste that's out there, has no love given to it. We see health problems, lack of clean water, I mean, this list can go on and on. We continue to see these problems as bigger than us and needing complex solutions. While, in part, this may be true, it is love that is the source of all solutions. Apply love, heart and passion to anyone, anything, anywhere and you'll see positive changes over time.

Go ahead and give it a try. Try to love more. We are capable of loving beyond our wildest imaginations, so just go out there and see what we all can do! Here's a little quote from one of my favorite love experts to get you in the mood:

To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is--solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves. Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate--?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself for another's sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things. --Rainer Maria Rilke

A New Beauty Regime: Less Really Is More

All of this making my life better has got me doing make-overs in all areas of my life. One of the places needing an overhaul is my beauty routine. It takes, or I should say used to take, a really long time. For the longest time, I really luxuriated in my vanity. Then one day a last week, I just decided I was tired of it and ready for something new.

Before I get to what I'm doing now, let's run over what I was doing. In 2007 I sold Mary Kay. Yes, way. This means I was hopped up on all kinds of creams, treatments and eye shadows. When I decided that Mary Kay and her crew didn't exactly align with my organic inclinations and free-spirit attitude, I sold all my product back to the company and began looking into the ingredients on the shelves at Whole Food's. I sampled regimes from Weleda, Dr. Hauscka, Burt's Bee's, Aubrey Organices, oh my, the list goes on and on. I tried it all. I finally settled on Evan Healy for awhile. I still love her moisturizers and creams, but I really craved more simplicity in my life. Plus, I wanted even more perfect skin-you know, the kind you can only find on an airbrushed model in a magazine? Yeah, that kind. So I picked up this serum from Juice Beauty. BIG MISTAKE! The slight redness I was promised would fade, made my face inflamed and irritated. In a few short weeks, I went from trying to perfect my pores to a full on break out. It was painful, unsightly and quite frankly, embarrassing.

I told Tammy about this experience, and she suggested I just not use any of that stuff. She said I should only put on my face what I'd be willing to eat. Ok, so what on Earth could that be!?

These days I'm washing my face with raw organic honey and moisturizing with aloe vera. That's it. Within two days, the irritation started to clear up. Within a week, no new pimples and by now any lingering redness is barely noticeable.

Back up, so let's be clear of two things: honey and aloe. Honey is yummy, yes-but aloe? Yes, and try some! Trader Joe's and tons of markets like Mitsuwa or Joong Boo carry aloe juice to drink. It's super yummy like honey if you ask me. And if you're wondering how I wash my face with honey, it's easy and just like regular face wash but with fewer bubbles. Try it sometime!

I still luxuriate in my vanity routine, but it takes me way less time than it used to. I'm ecstatic I have more time for living life and less time in the bathroom primping, not to mention the hours I'd spend in hot pursuit of the hotest make-me-pretty serum, cream or wash. There's plenty of other ways I pamper myself these days. With my new found time, I can practice more yoga, read more, cook more, photograph more-just all of the things I really like to do, but more! Plus, without the need for expensive creams and such I have more money left for things I'd rather be buying, like film, organic food or saving for my Yoga Teacher Training.

Basically, I took everything I thought I knew about beauty and threw it out the door. This might not be the remedy for everybody, but it's sure working out for me! Let me know if you have any questions or comments at:  And if you want the real expert on it, just go straight to Tammy, she'll for sure help you out!

Making the Most Out of Living With Less Sugar

Sugar! I love it, but really need a lot less of it in my life. One of my goals while working with Tammy these next few months is to severly cut back on my sugar intake. My sugar addiction, how bad could it really be? Let's just say I've been known to make a meal out of sweets, eat more than the suggested daily allotment of fresh fruit and consume more than my fair share of chocolate. Since I'm an active type, can't sit still in my chair, enjoy running, yoga and all kinds of outdoor activities, my indulgent side hasn't really effected my waistline.

While I might be able to put on the same pants year after year, my sugar cravings are something I know I need to gain better control of. Health is, afterall, a lot more about what's happening on the inside than how stuff looks on the outside. Since I've cut back on my candy, chocolate and excessive consumption of both dried and fresh fruit, I've noticed my thinking is less foggy, more focused, my energy levels more consistent, moods more stable and sleep more sound. With all of these great things happening, I thought I'd share some of the tricks I've been practicing to kick my sweet tooth to the curb.

  • Instead of any 'ol chocolate, I enjoy raw chocolate. It was a bit of an aquired taste for me and is a little more pricey, so it helps me indulge less often. Raw cacao nibs don't have any added sugar, so I'm able to get my chocolate fix without the jitters. I even sprinkle the nibs on my cereal in the morning. What sugar junkie doesn't love a little desert for breakfast? Except there's no guilt with this stuff. Just a tablespoon or two, and I got my cravings under control!
  • Ginger candy. Yes, this candy still has quite a great deal of sugar, but Trader Joe's sells this stuff without added sugar. It has a strong flavor, so I don't need to eat a lot of it to feel satisfied.
  • Homemade hot cocoa. I used unsweetened almond milk which is mighty tasty and full of good stuff for you! Unsweetened coconut milk works too! I just heat some up in a pan or in the microwave, stir in some raw cocao powder or unsweetened chocolate like Droste and drink! Sometimes I'll add a 'lil scoop of honey powder, but you can experiment with whatever you want, just don't use a lot. A dash of cayenne pepper makes a tasty Mexican hot chocolate treat that seriously helps anybody warm up on these chilly Winter nights!
  • Dried fruit is still a good option. I just make sure it's organic and to check the serving sizes. I don't eat dried fruit everyday anymore. Anytime I'm feeling snacky, I try to grab some carrot sticks, cucumbers or other portable veggie instead.

If you want more healthy, sweet options to help tame your appetite, email Tammy. Or if you'd like to share your tips, just leave a comment or email I can also share some of my favorite recipes if if you like!

Happy New Year Round Two!



I love a reason to celebrate! I celebrate the morning with a quiet cup of tea, celebrate my body with the bending and stretching of yoga, celebrate my vision with the joy of photography. There's more, oh yes, to celebrate. This list could go on for days, but today is the Chinese New Year, the year of the Metal Rabbit. Why not go and celebrate another culture? Read about it, head down to Chinatown, enjoy a parade, some Boba or tea and a nice red bean paste bun? It's always so much fun to celebrate living with the passing of last year and entering anew! I certainly will be, how about you?

A few fun facts about the year of the rabbit:

Rabbits are born in 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Rabbits tend to be cautious and wise. They tend to be beautiful and adore beauty in their surroundings. Calm and gentle, rabbits are often peacemakers of their group.

Today, a surge of new energy begins! Planetary influences urge us to step into our true selves and leave behind any habits or thoughts that are keeping us in a pattern. This month, we break those patterns with increasing intensity, allowing our inner self to emerge fully.

February is also a 6-month, in numerology. The 6 hightlights relationships, emotions, compassion, love and harmony.

If you'd like to learn more about numerology or what's happening astrologically, I can certainly help and send you some resources. Just comment below or send a note to me at:

Organics vs GMO Debate: Whole Foods or Not. Who's On Your Side?

Last week a big vote was made. Whether you heard about it or not, I seriously suggest looking into what's happening to the food on your plate. It's common knowledge high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, MSG and other nasties are just not good for us. But what isn't as well known and certainly not advertised, is the real scene behind the charade. Since starting this six-months to a better me thing with Tammy, I've taken a heightened interest from the inside all the way out. I want to know more about why things are good for me or not, where they come from, how and why. So, I've been doing a lot of extra reading and movie watching. It's a bit like being back in college, studying up every night. But this time, I'm learning about things happening every single day, while I'm awake and asleep, that go into making my life and everyone's life possible.

Last night I watched The Future of Food. Put that on your Netflix cue. It's well worth it. After last week's news about Monsanto, GMO's, Organics and Whole Food's, I felt I really should know more about what all this news really means. 

First off, I know it's not good. Reading the news put an ill feeling in my side. If you


haven't yet, browse this letter from the Organic Consumer Association. In short, things with our food supply could go from not-so-good to pretty darn worse, and fast. If Whole Food's stocks are any indication of what the letter outlines, people are not happy.

So here's why, well at least, a very short version of it.

Monsanto=not nice. Why? Monsanto sells genetically modified seeds to farmers. These seeds seem fine and dandy because they'll grow under some of the harshest conditions, stand up to chemicals and pesticides, producing glorious looking foods for our super markets. Seems ok right? These seeds are patented, which is fine if you're selling a lampshade or computer, but seeds like to travel. There are things like wind, birds and other forces of nature that like to transport seeds from one field to another. If Monsanto finds a farmer with plants from their seeds in their field, Monsanto can and will sue the living daylights out of said farmer. This forces farmers who'd been cultivating their own seeds for decades into buying Monsanto seeds, using pesticides. Many farmers are forced into lawsuits and horrible debts that rob retirements right from the hard working families. Really, that's not very nice at all.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. When you get down to it, owning a patent on a live, living anything runs some serious ethical risks. Why on Earth would a massive corporate company want to own seeds? If they own the seeds, they can dictate how they're planted, cultivated and produced. Monsanto and other large corporations end up owning a massive portion (and all of it if they had their way) of the food supply, and I'm just scratching the top here. The Future of Food really explains the whole thing in detail, right down to the genetics and ethics of it all.

So that's the GMO side. On the Organics side, you have a lot of smiling faces. A lot of people not giving up. I'm one of them. I have hope. I believe if we can all voice what we think is right to our local, state and federal governments, we can change all of this. Organics aren't just better for your body, they're better for the planet. If you want evidence of this, just start looking into it more. And if you don't know where to start, I have a number of movies you should add to your Netflix cue and books to investigate. But really, I think doing our own research is the greatest motivation we can all gain so much from.

Now Whole Food's comes into the picture. What people are now learning is a lot of products Whole Food's has been carrying on their shelves contain GM ingredients. Wait a second? I thought Whole Food's was on my side, our side, the Organics side. I mean, they sell things that are good for my body and planet right? In theory sure, and some of their stuff checks out ok, but the fact of the matter is, they've been selling a whole lot of GM food under people's noses, complete with Natural and Organic labeling. Not so nice either.

So who's on your side? And by side, I mean the side of creating sustainable agriculture and commerce, healthy foods, happy communities and a generally better world. There's a reason I'm not getting into the specifics here, it'd be about a whole book, or five. But I strongly encourage you to check into this stuff, share with your friends and family, take action and make the most of this situation.


Screen shot 2011-01-30 at 10.09.10 PM.png

The future our food is facing right now is not a pretty picture, and it's not happening in another country. It's happening right here and right now. We are all a part of a massive shift taking place in all areas of life. Despite the seriousness of this situation, learning about it can be fun and helpful, starting now.

If you see: The Future of Food, Food Matters, No Impact Man, Blue Gold and even The Cove, you will be moved. There isn't a better time than Wintertime in Chicago to make a move and get thee in front of a screen to view these movies. It's cold, it's going to snow a lot and we can't sit around doing nothing any longer. I promise, these movies are well produced and are as entertaining as they are informative.

So let me know what you decide. How do you think we can make a difference, who's on our side, who's not and how we can positively change things?

It's kind of funny really how I learned about all this stuff. I just wanted to take better care of my self. Take my healthy eating to the next level, ease my arthritis, clear up my skin, enjoy more fulfilling relationships and so many other little changes that can make my life better, and I wind up learning about all kinds of not nice stuff happening in the world. It seems to me if I'm going to keep treating my body and mind in a way that's healthy and beneficial, it's only right and good to ensure others have the same opportunity today, tomorrow and hundreds of years down the road.

How I See The Past Year: A Room of Doors

My whole life has been leading up to this. I went to college, I remained flexible, I said ok to whatever came my way. Maybe I said ok a little too often. Wait, I know I did otherwise I wouldn't be stuck in this room. My own personalized waiting room of 2010. Internet dictation, mobile phone citations, recording mumblings and revelations. Journal pages stuffed of reasons why. Reasons why I couldn't let go of my storyline. And in this room, about midway through, I realize my waiting room walls are adorned by doors. Varying heights, keyholes I can nearly peek through, they appear sealed shut but something whispers to me-they are indeed, unlocked. Liberated by brief moments of bursting exclamation, yet truly I am not. Check-out time is not infinite, my friends remind me. The more I see, the harder it is for me to move from seated lotus on the floor. Minutes, days and months will pass before I can put my face to any door. Can my tears pry open a peak into what lies behind? Then it's an ear, and then I'm pressing my heart, will it just beat hard enough for me, can't it just choose for me-which door. For if I were to claim one for my own, would I wind up back in this room, again, again, again, again. And one day or night, I'm not sure which, something beneath  my nose caused and itch-a never sneezer made quite a noise and immediately my attention was drawn to a single door. Pacing, wondering whether or not this door was the one to go for, a glint or ocre, azure and emerald emmanated from the slight my sneeze must have made ajar. Then I was through-no longer in the room. Mountains, valleys, frozen rivers and lush ponds surrounding waterfalls lay before my eyes. I had arrived, and yet I cried-still. For not contained within any means, I saw how much of the journey had yet to begin for me.


And so that is my answer to Stephanie's query below. So whatever 2011 will be, is somewhere beyond that door I finally passed through. The terrain does not appear horrible, yet I know I'll need my energy. There are no trains, cars or planes to expedite my travels here. There are only metaphors for me to explain what I encounter here, in this new realm that leads to no place with doors.

Oh, and if you must have a visual, view this trailer. About one minute and 40 seconds into it, so much of what they're saying is resonating with me right now:

Please continue to join Stephanie and I, as we explore our dialogue as creative writers here on The Art of Advice. For every post she makes, a place in me is sparked so inspired. I've never really believed in muses, but she is a great teacher for me, and I hope you can find humor and more in our written endeavors. We're always looking for topics and ideas, so send them in!

Thank you!

Seeing 2010 Living 2011

2010 passed through us day by day, moment through moment, it rolled on by. There were kisses and cries, friends accepted, friends defriended, schedules upon schedules that deemed demands. The trees blended the seasons holding onto a blur of a dissipating moment.

So here is a new year, an irrelevant new year. But a monumental new day.

I'm here again absorbing and dwelling in the peace I abide in. There is something in the starkness of the snow that makes me new. And all dwelling of days past melt into streams trickling down and away into a darkness, a solid color that is a blend of all colors. And there wrapped in this unknowable color I see my past. The 2010 calender year. A ladder of sorts where the rungs are perhaps the new months but there are ribbon rungs tied as well. Different color ribbons that are matched to a certain event - yet I cannot define their color, I simply know. The ribbons mark the beginning and end [if perhaps there is an end] of a season to an "event". Yet within this "ladder" there is also a landscape rolling through - encapsulating the feeling of each month that flows into a season. Perhaps these landscapes which are more of an emotion-based land are projections of the outer seasons occuring, but I think not. Throughout 2010 I see rolling hills, green pastures, brooks and streams, hidden lakes and fields and farms off in the distance. Even though for 9 out of the 12 months I've lived as "little miss urban" - I see country this year rolling through my "ladder".

Do you see the words and imagery I have used? The mind has its own foreign tongue - images and words yet when I try to express my mind I find I can only use tactile objects and situations at hand - metaphors - to hopefully parallel & find life in the communication between my mind and this world. For I can only express with the tactile images I have present with me - in my sight and senses. But by no means are they what truly abide in my mind. It pales completely to my mind's encompassing view of the year, but it will have to do [for now]. This is the only way I know how to "express" it - with tactile 'known' worlds.

How do you see your 2010?

Embrace Change: Why Changing is Easier Said Than Done and How I'm Coping

Things have been pretty good since I started the New Year with Tammy. Overall, I've felt more optimistic, more fulfilled, less fearful and have whittled my smoking down to no more than one emergency cigarette a day. It has been a lot easier than I thought it would be, I suppose mostly because I wanted to change, I really wanted it.

One of the more unexpected and somewhat unpleasant changes I've been experiencing is in my relationships, all of them. We're talking about my love life, my friendships, my peers, strangers and everyone here. The more I work at living how I want to and aligning my inner values with what I'm doing out there in the world, the better some things and people are sticking, while others seem to be drifting away.

Simply put, everything in my life is shifting. I knew this would happen, and I kinda of asked for it. No, I asked for it. So if it's what I wanted, then why is it sometimes so hard to let go? I've been asking myself this over the past few weeks.

I'm not by any means over all my fears and successfully liberating all of my desires. Getting there, but just not fully arrived yet. And I'm realizing the only things that are holding me back are my attachments from the past. Figuratively speaking, I am not. For one reason or another, it seems almost easier for me to hang on to people or things that don't feel right anymore, or to keep thinking things a certain way, or doing things a certain way just because I don't know what will happen if I do anything any other way. I know intellectually and rationally that I need to do things a different way, let the natural ebb happen. I wonder how and I wanted to find out fast because the harder I try to hold onto someone or something that needs to move on, the harder it hurts.

This is where having a good friend and especially a good friend who's a pro at this stuff comes quite in handy! The answer is FEAR, or rather, letting go of it, tuning it out and tuning into that other voice in your head. I came to this one after a talk with Tammy. Funny thing about talking with her is, she doesn't tell me what to do or solve anything for me, but she sure knows how to ask me the right questions. In a way, she's like a mirror. She holds up my questions, back at myself, so I can see the answer shining right back at me. I don't just see my reflection, I'm able to see that feeling in the pit of my stomach (my gut instincts) right in my eyes! It's a powerful experience to say the least!

Remember little epiphany I had the other day? Awesome day, but after that burst of bliss, I also encountered a habit from my past, getting upset about something out of my control. I responded poorly, at least three times off the top of my head, over the past week to how people spoke to or treated me. I clammed up, reverted to old ways and kicked myself for doing it. Then these two videos just came to me, like little messengers reminding me of what I learned about acting out of fear versus acting out of love. One was attached in an email newsletter I signed up for from the Raw Food World, and the other was posted as the first thing on my news feed as I logged onto Facebook to share this little article I wrote on Pick the Brain about Resolutions with a Reason: 10 Things That Should Be On Your List That Probably Aren't.

I LOVE the messages in these videos so much. You might too! They came at the perfect time for me. See how to deal with negative energy right here! And then, for a little shorter video with Jim Carrey, yuh yeah! A video about intention and reality. My favorite visual cue from the both of them, I'm keeping in mind anytime I encounter a finger pointed at me or I try to point my finger, whoever is pointing a finger has three pointing right back at them. I just love it!

So while learning to turn a deaf ear to my fear, there seems to be plenty help out there for me, which makes me think there's help for anybody! I haven't totally tuned out fear yet, but I managed to come up with a good exercise to help. I'm in the process of writing letters to all the people, memories, things and habits I'd like to rid myself of. Then, I seal them up in an envelope, address them and who knows what then. I'm not sending them. I wrote them for me! Maybe I'll frame them all, or burn them or recycle them. Maybe I'll send them into this project Too Hard to Keep! It doesn't matter really because I already feel better having said what I need to say. And by the way, I think this whole changing thing is more about changing my orientation and attitude about myself and the world, which in turn changes my behaviors, my relationships, oh hell, you know, I think it's really all related.

Wish me luck as I forge past my fears, letting go of things that aren't working for me and adding new things that rock-and let me know if you're going through anything similar, dealing with fear and such. Everything seems easier when you share the journey! Just write to: with your advice or experiences with change and fear or simply leave a comment below!

A Little Epiphany: When The World Sends Something Big Your Way

One of the first things Tammy asked me when I embarked upon this path of six-months of betterment, holistic health and life realization (still looking for a name for this thing I'm doing here) was, "When do you remember feeling your best, your happiest, healthiest and most confident?" It surprisingly didn't take long for me to reply, "Before I went to college!" (Yes, exclamation point. I was feeling really good about myself and the future then. Afterall, I had the whole world in front of me!)

Wait a second though, I graduated college awhile ago. High school? That feels like a whole lifetime ago! That's when I really, really got it. What had I been doing all these years if I wasn't truly living? I'd been just "getting by" for a lot longer than I thought. You see people do it all the time who trudge through their days, unhappy, disatisfied, depressed, angry, oh my goodness, my stomach's flopping at the memory of it all. Yeah, we all think it's fun to comiserate about our misery at the bar, or wherever we are, but the complainers are the one's that are missing out.

And this brings me to my first mini-epiphany. It was just a little thought I had while driving to visit my family over the weekend. I was just taking in the snowy landscape, singing along to whatever song I had on and generally enjoying doing pretty much nothing for a change. I didn't feel elated or particularly "on," in fact, I think I was still a little sleepy.

Suddenly, I started noticing that I wasn't just seeing scenery or singing songs, I was feeling alive. ALIVE! Not that half dead, ickness that I'd grown tired of. As I realized how in touch with that moment I was feeling, I began to think of my gratitude lists. Then I realized, they look a lot like my "dream life" lists I've been making my whole life.

Since I was a little girl, I used to fantasize about how I wanted life to be, as I'm sure a lot of little girls like to do. I'd think about what sort of man would sweep me off my feet, what sort of job I'd like to do, would living in the mountains be more fun than the flatlands of Illinois, does the countryside suite me better than city living? You know, things of that nature. So all of my fantasies, lists of what I'd like in my life are becoming my gratitude lists. HOW ON EARTH DID THIS HAPPEN?! That is what I wanted to know! 

I'm kind of obsessed with figuring stuff out, getting to the root of things. (Probably pretty obvious at this point, but anyway.) Realizing my lists, all the stuff I'm grateful for means I'm, right now, living my dreams. It doesn't look anything how I thought it would look, but it FEELS exactly how I wanted life to feel. So maybe that was a little revelation in the little epiphany too. I was so hung up on how I thought my life should look, I had been completely disregarding how it felt. Settling for misery is just not an option anymore, and I don't see why anyone else would have to either!

So it comes back to these gratitude lists Tammy's asked me to make. It seems, the more I write them, the more I focus on what I like about my life, the more those things stay and come into my life. I used to be all wrapped up in worry all the time. Well, what if this happens, or that happens or that doesn't. Inevitably everything I feared happened. Yup! I was always afraid of becoming a starving artist, having my boyfriend leave me, having no friends and just on and on. At different points in my life, over the past five years all, and I mean ALL, of those things happened. Obviously, living and making decisions based on my fear resulted in a lot of unhappy and things I didn't want. What other option do I have now but to choose based off of gratitude and love? There might be some grey area in between on this one, but for me, I think I'm going to stick with this good feeling stuff from now on!

I think there was a big hoodoo about The Secret several years back. And that's really what it was about, my little ephiphany. I realized the secret to happiness, to the end of suffering, to just be, realize your true self, and all of that is just focusing on what you want and trusting all the rest will come to you. Putting intention out there, accepting what you get and making the most out of it. It's always sounded simple to me. Intellectually, I got it, but that's really NOT the same as realizing it. Kind of like that movie, Inception. For anything to be real, it has to originate in you.

My mind is boggled, I'm not sure where this thought came from. It's like an amazing rainbows and sunshine asteroid came charging at me from a different dimension. Whatever it is, I'm also starting to realize, my mind is a funny thing. It thinks a lot of stuff, but the stuff it's thinking is also the stuff that's happening. I'm not totally sold either way that I'm in charge of my destiny or something else bigger is, but I'm beginning to think me and that bigger thing are dancing. In a way, sometimes we're waltzing, sometimes shakin' it up with some salsa hip-shaking, bouncing off the walls hip-hop and sometimes we're just chilling. Oh, well, you get the picture.

It's one thing to think, intellectualize and understand, but it's like opening up a new world when you understand from a gut level how things can work in life if you let them. So I hope you have and awesome day, you're able to make the most-because I'm telling you, I feel awesome, and it's the kind of awesome I hope to share with everyone. Wouldn't it just be cool if we all walked around feeling awesome all the time? Oh it'd be groovy man. Oh. yeah.

While I'm chillin' with these good vibes, why not say hello and let me know what you think, if you've had any little ephiphanies that just rocked your world right by leaving a comment or emailing me here:

OOPS! And before I forget-remember how I talked about focusing too much on how stuff looks, instead of how it felt? I spent over two years making art about it. I showed it at the Harris Gallery in The Old Town School of Folk Music and now you can view the photographs in the nifty slideshow below, and head over to the Wolfe Shoppe on Etsy to buy whatever you like. I also have a limited edition of postcards from this show available right here: Wolfe Shoppe via Wolfe Log

I'm collecting the sales from all of my work to help me save up for my YTT, Yoga Teacher Training and Pilates Certification. Thank you in advance for any and all of your support!

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

View the gallery...

Starting is the Hardest Part: A Update on The New Life

Since the next since months are about forging ahead, making anew and documenting my adventures in exploring myself and my dreams, I'd like to start off the week with something new, a confession maybe a few of you could relate to.

I have one helluva time writing the first line. Isn't that the damndest thing? Starting is the hardest part, especially when you realize the enormity of the ball you're about to get rolling. Maybe that was the thing stopping me from committing to my dreams to begin with. They just seem so big. I know they're possible. Collectively, the people I admire have achieved or are living parts of what I want my whole to be.

The thing I don't want in my ball anymore? Cigarettes. I know I might have made out like a smoking fiend, so let me clarify. I took up smoking in college. The habit started socially over drinks, and developed into a full blown love afair with the idealized of smoke swirls, post-party mornings and that whole romance of college life. Somehow I clung to the smoking as I graduated and entered, da dah! Adult World. I think it was my access pass to my past or something.

The whole time I've smoked, I've been quitting. I quite three times during the five years I've been smoking. Twice for a whole summer, once for a full year and a few months. Since I took up smoking again, I've been at three to five a day. Nothing worth killing myself over! But really the habit isn't killing be because of the smoke or nicotine. I've been able to enjoy six-mile runs while indulging in my American Spirit ways. The thing that bothers me the most about smoking is my addiction to it. It's a crutch for me. A way for me to shut off my emotions, quiet my anxiety or escape from anything, with a, to a lesser degree these days, socially acceptable route.

In the business world I tried to swim but quickly sank in, it's not so acceptable to be a feeling person like me. At least, it never seemed that way. My tangental mind and visions felt left of any field, leaving me wondering where the hell I was suppose to go at all. What game am I supposed to play? So while I pondered, I smoked. Instead of doing something productive with my feelings or dreams, I just smoked.

Well I'm tired of procrastinating, and really, the whole quarter-life or even mid-life crisis thing is such a bore to me. Really people! Life is so amazing, and I mean that. So thank goodness for Tammy. She suggested a couple things for me to do until our next meeting. Just doing those things has seemed to do the trick! I've finally given up on staying in this staring contest with this big ball of dreams.

The most effective efforts made yet this year: exercise and gratitude lists. Plus, I've started this One Line A Day Five-Year Memory Book I picked up at Barnes & Noble. I'm still smoking emergency cigarettes, to ease my body off the chemicals and make this the last time I ever have to quit. But anway, there isn't a lot of time when acting on plans for the now and future, writing gratitude lists and moving my body, then sharing that all with you. So I that's probably a good thing.

Just for the hell of it, here are a few things that keep popping up on my gratitude lists (along with some of my personal thoughts):

  • Sunshine (Isn't it amazing what a difference it can make on the mind?)
  • Hot showers (The magic of washing off sweat and hard work just never gets old me.)
  • Open land (Yeah, I'm probably forever in love with nature.)
  • Sex (Yeah, I do my best to take my own advice.)
  • Yummy: water, tea, cocoa, food. (I seem to be noticing and appreciating what I feed myself more.)
  • Feeling supported. (I'm always amazed at how much my partner, friends and family support my ideas when I'm really going after them, instead of just talking about them.)

There's a lot of other, more specific things that pop up on my lists, but you get the idea. If you're really curious, just ask. But in the interest of moving along, I've got a few more things to share with you today. Here are some of my entries from my One Line A Day Five-Year Memory Book:

  • Bottled emotions upredicatably erupt at less fortunate times than deisred. Better to keep a steady flow!
  • If I don't value my work, no one else will. Opportunity flows like a current; you just have to catch a ride.
  • Completing tasks feels like a load off. Self-motivated tasks feel even better, but nothing beats love.
  • Sunday Slump Syndrome is exacerbated by computers and completely alleviated by going outside. Nature makes me feel alive!
  • When there's no good reason to worry, just let go of it. And I can't really think of anything worth worry.
  • Face fear feels like standing atop a mountain smiling to the heavens.

It really is better to be doing than sitting around thinking about doing something or wishing I could do something. All that weight, claustrophobia or social pressure I thought was real, was just in my head. It doesn't really exist! And I think that is just wonderful.

Six Months to a New Life Starts Now

The first day of my new life was last week. Wait, that sounds a little dramatic, even for me. Either way, I signed up for a six month course on how to do whatever I need to do to get to where I want to go in life. Yeah, it's a little vague from the outside, but let me tell you, I've spent the past five years defining, redefining and sharpening the redefined, finedness of it all-starting with figuring out what I don't want.

If you followed The AoA at all for the past six months, you've read a slew of varying advice I was able to give on good conscious, based off my personal learning experiences, what many often refer to as mistakes. At the volume I was churning those out, (it's a safe assumption I've made my fair share) I figured, why not help others out there so they don't have to go through the same crap I did? Seemed like a worthwhile cause, and it always felt like one until one day I wasn't sure I had anything else to say.

Maybe I was burned out, blogged out or I don't know, but I didn't have much life left in me. I took a break and sought out a change, something to make 2011 THE year of making my dreams come true. And after all that advice giving, I was more than ready to sit back and let someone else do the talking.

So that brings me to my first consultation with Tammy. EUREEKA! BING! BANG! LIGHTS! Holywow, did that all happen when I spoke with her! I'm not kidding here either. In one hour, I learned about my tendency to "steer" too hard in life, how I should listen to that little voice inside instead of following my fear and the biggest revelation for me, my brain is a washing machine!

Yeah, the way I figure is we all have closets, or stuff we put our clothes on right? You can see them all hanging before you, different colors, styles or maybe a little more monochromatic, like mine. Either way, whether you're grabbing a sweater, pants or a fuzzy hat-it's all plain to see. Now, you dump all those clothes in a washer and start the cycle. Pretty hard to tell what from what, now isn't it? And that's if you got the kind of washer with a window. A lot of us look are looking at a blank screen, yikes! So my brain is a lot like that. I have all these great separate pieces or ideas floating around up there, but at some point in the day, something gets my rinse cycle going. Anxiety starts to creep up, and I can't tell what from what anymore; my head spins and I just want someone to come over, empty me out and hang me out to dry. So I smoke, freak out, loathe my bad habits and repeat. I haven't even lived half my life yet, and I was feeling ready for a new machine. But as far as I know-I only have one body, so it's time for some maintenance.

All of that, from one hour. I think I'm already liking this new life/me/career thing! Now, putting real life, practical plans to those, hmmm, concerns I want to change about myself is what Tammy said she can do for me. Ok, really, I have to do the work, but she guides me along. That's the deal. So I'm pretty excited because Tammy has promised to help me:

  • Set and accomplish my goals: The list is long, plenty of stuff to talk about for six months, at least!
  • Explore new foods: Can't wait! YUM!
  • Understand and reduce my cravings: Cough, cough, icky cigarettes!
  • Increase my energy: Not sure I need more energy, but I'm hoping to learn how to better manage it.
  • Feel better about my body: Because I have downer days, weeks or sometimes months like a lot of other people.
  • And improve my relationships: Break my hermetic ways? Or embrace them? I'll find out!

I'm going to do this with a lot of personal work and:

  • Two sessions a month: This feels a little like therapy here, but maybe a little more time for time-outs will be good for me.
  • Group classes: I can't wait to meet some new people!
  • Unlimited email support: Thank goodness! Because I have a horrible memory, and I'm sure I'll think of a million things after we meet-up.
  • Books, CDs, DVDs: I'm a nerd for learning, so this might be my favorite part!
  • Food and beauty samples: If I'd known this, I'd have signed up months ago!

So that's the story on my start to my new life/me/career. Since Day One I've already put my Wolfe Shoppe up, with tons of good stuff for sale because as I've learned, I deserve to earn a living just like everyone else! I'm back to submitting my work to galleries and competitions, revising my rate cards and planning my website. There's a coupld other nifty things I've been up to, but that's for next time. In between all the work-work and self-work, I've already been learning all kinds of new health information on Healthy Tammy's Facebook page. It's been a great break in my day as I forge ahead with my plans for my new life/me/career.

I've got to come up with a better name for that: new life/me/career. Got any ideas? Let me hear from you and what you think by contributing your comments below or to me via email: And share the good vibes by liking The AoA on Facebook and sharing with your friends too!

Big Changes in 2011: Rolling Out News for The Art of Advice

One week later than planned, I'm back. And I have figured it out! The future of The AoA is bright, and I'm (finally) here to tell you why.

So I went on a bit of a hiatus. For over six months I'd been doling out advice on a daily basis, covering anything from healing stys, and finding the artist in you, to etiquette in public and moving past divorce. The AoA tackled the topic of male, female friendships, why everyone should have more sex and the art of sexting. I even took you down memory lane with me and got personal with my love life. My friend, Tammy, gave all kinds of health advice about body types, good for you comfort food and the importance of getting in touch with nature.  Needless to say, I was tired and running out of ideas.

Yeah, that happens to artistic types too. On top of that, I was feeling overwhelmed staying up with people on Facebook, email and Twitter. Something had to give. I really didn't want to leave The AoA high and dry, so I took Twitter to the curb and gave a fond farewell. I'm still on Facebook, probably for another few years, but I can guarantee that will last long either. I will not have time or energy to maintain that once kids are around. Woah, hey, so am I trying to tell you I'm pregnant?! GOD NO! Not yet. That is one life experience I have not had yet, hence the gaping hole in this blog about kids and families. All the advice I offer is from personal experience. Gain from that what you will, but I'm just about out of life experiences to share advice on-at least, for now.

So instead of giving advice, over the next six months I'm going to be taking advice. To mix things up even further, plan on seeing some blogs from contributors sprinkled in to my new adventure. I am bowled over with excitement! I have wanted to and am long overdue for some big changes in my life. This isn't about quitting smoking or launching a different career-though those are parts of it. This is about changing my whole outlook on myself and life.

Why on Earth, you might be wondering, would I want to do such a thing? Don't worry, I'm not going to go and get all "normal" on you. I'm not going to get all stoic or be any less philosophical either. Enthusiasm and thoughtfulness are stuck-what I do need is a swift shoe to my bum to get going on my dreams.

For the past four, no wait, five or six years (yikes!) I've dreamed of finding a way to combine the two things I love to do most, photography and writing, and make a living out of it. Yet, I continued to carry on doing odd jobs and copywriting to make ends meet. Doing this led to some habits I'd really like to kick as well, like smoking. GASP! Yeah, the health fanatic I am, I smoke. Not a lot! But enough that I'm embarrassed to hide it. I have a lot of other goals to get to over the next six months, but I'll get to those in another article.

So I have a lot on my plate this year-but that means I have plenty to share with you right here. And I am not doing this alone, thank goodness. My friend, and as you'll remember, my health expert here, Tammy Fana, is going to be guiding me the whole way. I signed up for her six month holistic health and life overhaul (my words here, not hers). Read all about what I'm getting myself into here and if this is the right time for a change in your life, on Highway to Health.

For me, the right time is always right now. So I've already gone ahead and had my first consultation! Which makes me all the more excited! And I'm going to tell you all about how that went later this week. TTFN! Ta ta for now.

Please join me in this new journey by contributing your comments below or to me via email: And share the good vibes by liking The AoA on Facebook and sharing with your friends!


A Time for Change is Upon Us

Guten Morgan! What on Earth have I been doing with all my free time you might wonder. Well, what have you been doing with yours?

I've watched some great movies, both at home and out there in the theatre.

Food Matters, Black Swan and Tron top the list! Played in the snow, got some and gave some Christmas cheer, and now I'm gearing up for the New Year! Website making isn't the most fun I've had, but it's something that desperately needs to be done. There's a lot of other stuff on my resolution list, but I'll save that for another time.

The most important changes are still in the conceptual phases. Basically, what does the future hold for The AoA? I need your feedback! At the present time, the daily blog it's been cannot continue the way it has been.

So let me know what you want to see stick around or what you think could go. Don't hold back whatever you do. There have been plenty of loves and loathes from many of you. While there isn't really such a thing as a fresh start, there is always opportunity to take off in a new direction.

Here we are. This is not the end, nor a new beginning, just shift in routine and how things are going to be. Until 2011, I bid you friendly adieu!

I'll still be responding to questions, so please continue to send your inquiries to me at: And check out The AoA on Facebook and over here too: Tweet Tweet

Monday Morning Mantra: A Merry Christmas Monday

Good morning to all, and to all a good-bye! Ok, not really, but kind of. I'm taking a bit of an internet hiatus to tend to some projects, work and fun that have long gone to the wayside, and I'm taking The Art of Advice with me. During this time, I will not be writing The AoA this week or next. I will pop in to say hello in a week, but look for my full return early 2011. (That was so fun to type, 2011!)

Ahhh, yes, the New Year. You bet there's going to be a whole lot of new stuff coming. A lot of changes have happened over the past six months. Yes, six months, that's how old The Art of Advice will be on December 25th. Christmas Day! What a wonderful celebration it shall be.

So I do wish you much merry this week. Play safe and make sure to have fun! It's all you have to do.

So where's the mantra this week? I didn't forget, I just figured we could use a break from those too. See if you can come up with one, and if you do, why not share it in a friendly comment below!

And should anything arise, you know you can always write to me. I will be checking my mail, because I love it so, and will get back to you faster than you might think! So send me your questions, comments and Christmas cards here: And check out The AoA on Facebook and over here too: Tweet Tweet


Baking With Bliss: The Art of Out-of-the-Box Holiday Baking

Sugar! Oh yes! Sugar, like gifts, are what the holiday season often does best. While tradition often reigns the kitchen, I always like to see if I can cook up something new.

This year I made a total of one traditional cookie, the gingerbread. Since gingerbread is my all time favorite of all cookies, I made it gluten-free so I can actually enjoy them! Then, I decided, who says they have to be men? I mean, what about other animals? One year I made reindeer, so this year I made bears. I thought it had a nice ring to it. All I did was take my favorite recipe and swap regular flour for brown rice flour. No one could tell the different.

I made a lot of other goodies and plan to bake some more, but there are  few points to make when baking artfully. You see, the kitchen is the perfect place to me, an amalgamation of science and art in something warm, delicious and down right invigorating. Just have a couple of my cookies, and you'll see what I mean!

Here are a few guidelines for successfully turning your kitchen into a haven for creative experimentation:

Rule 1: Read the directions, all of them, before you even step foot in the


© Rachel Wolfe 2010

kitchen. Make sure you have all supplies on hand and a good understanding of what you're getting yourself into.

Rule 2: Once you understand the recipe, explore the ingredients. See if there's anything you can swap out for another. I often prefer to use carob powder instead of cocoa, just to mix it up. Nuts are fairly easy to exchange, just consider the oil content. Example, your recipe calls for chopped almonds, which are a bit drier than say, walnuts, which can secrete a lot of their tastiness into the surrounding dough. Similar with fruits and moisture content. You're going to want to consider cutting back on oil or something to make sure things don't get too runny.

Rule 3: Baking is science; it really is. If you're going to turn a regular recipe gluten-free or make something lower in fat (I really recommend avoiding fat-free anything, icky!) just consider the ratio's of water and dry ingredients. This is where a little experience can help a lot. But even if you don't, the science of baking is mostly common sense. Just think about what you're doing a little, let your gut guide your decisions. They may not all come out perfect every time, but it's better to have tried and lost some than to not try something new at all!

Rule 4: Do what feels right. I started talking about it up there, but the topic deserves it's own space. The best part of baking, besides the science, is the art of of. What is art anyway? It's a feeling, a message, a story wrapped up into a single something. That something could be a photograph, a carving or a baking sculpture. Baking is a form of sculpture if you think about it, so get in tune with your creative spirit, see what it's saying, and let it guide you through the process.

Rule 5: The final rule. Don't be afraid to get messy. Roll up your sleeves, and dive right in! Let the flour fly! Just keep your hair pulled back, please.

And that's it! These tips come from years of personal experience. I started cooking at, wait, "Mom, how old was I?" I think I was around three or four when I began my appreciation for all things made from scratch, by hand.

If you're not feeling so adventurous, that's ok too. Turns out maybe tradition isn't so bad after all. At least you get what you were expecting. But in the case you're looking to broaden your cookie repertoire, there are more than enough options! So get baking, and let the oooh's and ahhh's ensue.

If you want some more recipes for baking or other holiday cooking, you're in luck. I love creativity in the kitchen. Just let me know what you're looking for, health, decadence or maybe something else all together. Send me your questions and comments at: And check out The AoA on Facebook and over here too: Tweet Tweet



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