Blog / Category_holistic health

listen up! a recent interview by Amy Lynn of Holistic Pilgrimage!

Amy Lynn interviews Linda Mahns about her own personal raw food path and business journey with VT Fiddle Heads, the former cafe and current online store supplied with her own hemp and nylon mesh strainer bags for making nut milks, juices, coffee, tea, sprouting, and other uses. We compare the raw food movement in Vermont in the last 10 years and how requesting raw food items at health markets and coops in the past lead to the selection we have today in Vermont. We also discuss her new pursuits in helping others to live their own juicy life and her future hopes for VT Fiddle Heads. Linda's notes: Amy Lynn did a great job of interviewing and editing. It has been a LONG time since I had an interview done and it has turned into a catalyst for us to begin a raw vegan potluck again: and the FB page: So be on the lookout for new and fun things! Thank you, Amy Lynn, for your interest in VT Fiddle Heads and for your own passions! May we have fun with these potlucks, events and other fun things in our immediate future! xoxoxo potluck
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words to remember

So much of the art I like to do includes words. Unsure if it's because I was an English major at one time or what but I have a particular interest in the origins of words. In this latest collage, I was interested in pulling out words as well as images that really seem to speak to me at present. I have hung this on the wall and I enjoy looking at it as a daily reminder...
some words to live by
Some words to live by: "Life is a journey, not a destination" Pep Calm Momentum Beautiful Change Starts with a single step Peace poetry excitement meditate spirit guts confidence sparkle nerve resolve glee Overcome the notion that you must be regular. it robs you of the change to be extraordinary."
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super moon, full moon intentions

today is the super moon - the full moon near the summer solstice. When the moon and sun goes into Cancer, my own sun and moon sign. It's been a super difficult week this past week. I don't even want to go into it. I have been under and extreme amount of stress to the point where I had a couple days of having difficulty taking care of myself. Thankfully I can see the signs early enough and I have many tools inside my tool belt that I can use to pick myself up by the bootstraps. Let's just say out of many life changing things that could happen, I have about 4 happening simultaneously. On Monday and Tuesday, I contemplated adding a couple more to the list and it sent me over the edge of what I could and really wanted to deal with. So it was time to get my soul back in focus and get some art done. I had a lot of fun art projects to do with my holistic spirituality homework but here's one more that seemed great to focus on for this day, this super moon. Here it is: Collaging is great and pretty easy to do. Anyone can do it and you don't have to be artistically inclined, necessarily. Just take some of your favorite magazines and look to see what appeals to you. Cut and paste and repeat. Everything that is on this art board is something that means something important to me RIGHT IN THIS MOMENT. This is what I want to cultivate in my life. This is what feeds and fuels my soul (and mind and body) I know what it feels like to live an authentic life and I also know what it feels like to live a life of constriction dominated by fear. I choose the former.
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today's soul musings

Today my soul creation that I want to share with you is an altar box that I made a couple weeks ago.
inside of the altar boxinside of altar box
inside of the altar box
another view of the inside I took an old notions box that belonged to my mom. It was sturdy and in good shape. I gave the top of it to my art buddy and I kept the bottom. We sat and talked and collaged one day. I took old ribbons from the notions box and if you look carefully in that first picture, you'll see a bit of bling glued to the bottom of the box. That was also in the notion box. There are photos of the Buddha in there, St. Francis of Assisi, humming birds, flowers and I even found this artwork done by a woman - her art was done in the form of journal writing and drawing with a fountain pen. I used fabric that my art buddy brought, too. It all came together nicely. I used the words RELATIONSHIPS and OPENING and EVERYWHERE on the box as you can see if you study the photos. Inside it says "A NEW WAY OF SEEING" over St Francis of Assisi. This is my wish for new openings, new ways of seeing, new relationships. I place it on top of my book case and I have a tiny statue of kwan yin inside as well as a little urn that is black and smooth - I have NO idea where the little urn came from. It sits askew - not quite level. I bring these items with me when a few of us gather for a women's night and we share altar items for the time we are together. Otherwise, I see it daily as soon as I come downstairs in the morning. These little art intentions, for me, are strategically placed around so that I am forever elevating myself and reminding myself of where I'd like to point my boat in the direction of. Please share what you do to set intentions and daily reminders for yourself. I'd love to learn from you.
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today's soul musings

I have been listening to the sound track from 1 Giant Leap since I watched it last week. Here is the link to this awesome awesome video: - I find it so damned inspiring. I love the funky world music, the faces, the images, the quotes - it's all fantastic. There's still so much on my plate at present. We are meeting with a realtor to see about selling a house. I'll post up more about that later. There is school for me, finishing up school for the kids (which means putting together the portfolio to show in order to appease the dept of education), work, life and relationship issues and so forth. I'm honest when I say some moments are tiring. I came back from my vacation and during the weekend felt a little worn out, mainly - I THINK - because I wasn't ready to come back here. So I sat in my favorite lil chair and put on the music to this documentary and it was almost immediate, I felt elevated and way better. By Monday, I felt great. Things felt magical, like they did when I was on vacation. I had to do some crafty projects for homework. One of them was to find a photo of me at the age of 7 and write with my non-dominant hand the things that I enjoyed as a kid of that age. This is what I did. It was not elaborate but I remember doing these little images way back when. If I look hard enough, I'd be able to find a very colorful drawing that I did at that age. I wouldn't know where to begin to find it but I know I have it. Here's the seven year old girl that I was:

My daughter looked at the photo album with me and her comment when she saw this photo was that I looked bright and happy. That was sweet to hear. I can remember being in my 20s, looking at the fat kid that I was. I have a lot more sweetness for myself when I see these photos now and that's probably because I have kids now... This was a sweet kid in this photo - one who had a big curiosity for life and found beauty in so much. P.S. you can find fun exercises like this and more if you go here: - you can read Plotkin's book "Nature and the Human Soul" and do these exercises. They are fun and get you thinking. Good night and happy soul searching!
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soul journaling

this semester is Holistic Spirituality and one of the fun things we get to do is keep a journal. I am excited about this. I actually do this as much as I can. I do collage and painting for fun and to feed my spirit. Sometimes I meet up with a couple friends to do this and other times, I do it alone. It feeds/fuels me, ignites me, recharges me and gives me an outlet for hopes, dreams, wishes, prayers, intentions, etc. I want to begin this semester by including a collage that I did recently. It is colorful and reflects my wish to become a living prayer.
become a living prayer
The colors in this excite me and speak to me deeply, as do all the images of playfulness, meditation, mothering, standing in the sand and of the "be your own guru" Buddha that takes up so much space on this poster paper. My intention is to actually use a journal and do it up in all these ways that I do for my usual collage projects. That might be difficult since I tend to like to paint on everything! (See image below to see what I mean)
the door to the privy
That is the door in my living room (the door to the bathtub.) I have this thing for Kwan Yin and I have her everywhere. This past December I decided it was time to paint the door and what better painting than Kwan Yin. I painted her in under a work day and it pleases me to see her life size on my door. This is what I mean, my life is my art and my art is my life but I will try to contain it into an actual journal. That will be more portable and easy to deal with. As it is, I have so many posters and paintings around that I need a gallery or something to house them. I invite you to seek inside yourself for a soul stirring journal entry. What is burning and alive in you? I look forward to finding out. :-)
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mother's day

I want to write about this before the bliss of the day's events completely leave... :-)

I woke up yesterday morning and did a little meditation first thing. I got out of bed around 8 and made myself a big huge green smoothie:

(I actually made enough for 4 people)

3 medium bananas
local frozen blueberries
1 orange
rice protein powder
vitamineral green

I added quite a lot of kale so it was very dark green. It was pretty yummy, though and I felt pimped out for the day. I got dressed and met a friend for our mother's day treat to ourselves.

We went to Stowe, VT to a place called Stoweflake. There's a spa and resort there. It's a beautiful spot. My friend Linda and I drove there and got caught up on a slew of things that are good, bad, stressful and otherwise in our lives and when we opened the doors for the spa, there was an almost immediate sense of dropping everything and taking a big luxurious pause. Linda treated me to this day, which was very surprising. I didn't plan on that at all and I started to cry. For years and years now, if I want to celebrate and honor anything for myself and my family, I have to do it myself. I have for years bought my own gifts and planned things for various holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. It's just rote now. So Linda and I planned on getting a massage and she told me about this thing at Stoweflake where you can do a spa day for about the same money and have access to the whole spa and have lunch, etc. Her treating me to this was so unexpected and sweet and I just welled up and thanked her with a BIG BIG hug.

We selected our lunch and then went to the back room where we were given plush robes and slippers. Linda showed me around to the place where the cushy lounge chairs are, the pools, saunas and locker room and showers are. We got dressed into bathing suits and then went to the mineral pool. It is 101 degrees of sheer pleasure. We sat in there and floated around until we got good and warm and then went to the waterfall pool. It was awesome to have the waterfall beating down on my head, neck, shoulders and back for I don't know how many minutes. Then it was time to go back to the mineral pool until all tension and stiffness went away.

We sat in the lounge for a minute and drank the cucumber water that was delicious. Why don't I drink this all the time?! Then we went into the steam sauna for a few minutes. That was interesting. I had never been in a hot steamy humid sauna before - only dry ones. It took some getting used to and I couldn't stay in there longer than about 5 minutes. Afterwards, a shower with beautiful smelling products and then back in our plush robes to meander about. We walked down the hall in slippers and robes and ate lunch at their cafe. (We actually sat outside near the closed pool but wanted to get some fresh air.)

Linda remarked how nice it would be if this was more standard for our culture: things like turkish baths and the custom of communally caring for ourselves. It was great to see people of all shapes and sizes just taking care of themselves. It was wonderful to see the standard uniform of women walking around our private sanctuary in robes and slippers languishing in a few hours of peace. Even better to see was when the women came back from their massages with their complimentary bottle of water and the blissed out, relaxed facial expressions. Just wonderful.

After lunch, we laid out on the lounge chairs and waited peacefully for our massages. My body felt weighty in a very good way. I had no plan for these hours other than to nourish myself in this peaceful way. We talked sometimes and other times just closed our eyes and got ourselves into a deeper place of peace. My body was very very happy for this experience and it caused a deep sense of peace in my mind, too. AHHH, I really needed this and I shouldn't wait another year to do it again. With any luck, I won't.

It was a magical 5 hours at the spa. I had a glorious massage and then we rested for another hour and a half on that lounge chair, drinking cucumber water. I brought a piece of chocolate to share with Linda. It was very difficult to get up. Who would want to leave this paradise?!

We drove home on a beautiful VT country rode during beautiful weather. The magic never ends sometimes. We were remarking about how wonderful and good we feel when we get out of our heads and into our bodies. I think that's when we are open to real magic in our lives. It was great to see the difference in our speech and body language after the day of relaxation. We had so little to say in comparison that was processing and more of gratitude and sharing in all the beauty around us. We also did a bit of dreaming for future field trips here and there. :-)

The evening was spent with my children. We went to montpelier for dinner - there was only like 1 restaurant open on mother's day! What a crazy town! It was nice. Afterwards, I took the kids to get some shorts and things for upcoming trips and just because they are growing so tall now that they need the stuff.

Here's a wish for more mindful times spent in our bodies, in our lives and an openness for magical moments.

lots of love,


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morning meditation and visualization

I'm still committed to my daily meditations. This morning I woke up and was tired. Lately it seems, I get an adequate amount of sleep every other night. What is a girl to do? Maybe I could start taking valerian but I honestly just think I've got a lot on my plate. This morning I woke up early after not a lot of sleep and once again my mind went into a tailspin of worries. I remember the first thought this morning being, "Oh right, I have to deal with all this shit again today." It's getting boring to notice the continual dialogues that I run in my head. I sit in meditation to get my mind connected with my body. I also did some stretches this morning and I nearly slept on the floor. Lately, what has been working is this picture that I hold in my head. I imagine that all people around me are full of empathy and compassion towards me, themselves and one another. I imagine that my problems find solutions that are better than I could even imagine. I imagine that I have something really grand to look forward to and that I have good friends here where I live that want to be with me just because of who I am and not because of how I might be able to help them or provide for them. This helps me to stop the endless mind chatter of worry that my brain likes to engage itself in. I also like to start and end the day in gratitude. This helps to keep a feeling of thanksgiving present with me throughout the day. These days have been rough, no doubt about it. Life is full to over-flowing and stress is present. I am doing the best self-care that I can provide for myself amidst a busy life with dogs and kids and homeschool. If I could somehow get 7-8 hours of sleep consistently each night, I would feel more able to function through the daily stressors. The gratitude helps me to remember that there's always something really to be thankful for amidst the chaos. Right now I'm grateful for an easier week of school assignments. I'm grateful for the walk today in the beautiful weather. I'm grateful for a fun day of homeschooling with the kids. I'm grateful to have gotten some homework assignments handed in. I'm grateful for good friends in NJ who are keeping me on track and keeping me in check. I'm grateful for the plethora of healing peeps here in VT who help me to stay healthy. I'm going to take my tired body and ride the bike for a little bit. This will help to tucker me out so that I (hopefully) get a great night's sleep. Here's to meditation, visualization and gratitude, Linda
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more mindfulness in pain

it was such a full week last week, stressful and difficult. My time was fractured and I barely had time to do very simple tasks for myself some days (like make a smoothie!) It's amazing how that can happen sometimes. There's a lot going on in my life but these past couple/few weeks, it has been exponentially greater. Still, I usually have and take the time to care for my body. I work hard to make sure that I take care of myself throughout all the daily chores, needs, requirements of the house, the dogs, the kids, my work, my classes. It's taken years to develop this habit and it's essential for me to sleep well and function the best that I can.

This past week, however, I didn't do very much in the way of my normal exercise routine. I walked the dogs each day but that was only at most a 3 mile walk each day. I typically ride the stationary bike for 10 miles a day and I have to get in yoga each week. The minimum is 1 full yoga practice each week with stretching every day or every other day. This past week, I didn't get anything more than short walks in and what happens to me is stiffness that accumulates to the point of inflammation and then spasming if I don't get to exercise and stretching routinely.

I had 6 papers to write last week plus another 1200-1600 paper to hand in as a writing example some place else. I managed that PLUS ended up writing another 8 page paper for yet another commitment I have. This means that I was at the computer a lot. Each time I get up, it feels like my body just gets stuck in the seated position. My body is really slow to move and I have to ease myself into movement. I always wonder if this is what it feels like for mildly arthritic folks...

For the past 3 years, I've been standing mostly at the cafe and that has its own pain associated with it but at least I was always moving, hardly sat. That came with it's own host of side effects for my legs and hips but it's always better for me to keep moving.

Since January of this year, I've been having a numbness/pins and needles kind of experience in my foot. It happens when I sit, when I stand, when I walk. Something seems to be pinching a nerve down my leg and into my foot. I have visited the chiropractor and have had massage to help move whatever but it's still present. I want to look into this more deeply. Maybe it is time for some structural integration? An MRI? I don't know.

Today I can feel the numbness/tingling in my foot as I write this. I can also feel a band of low-level pain all around the bones of my pelvis. This typically means that my pelvis/sacrum are not in good alignment. My hips, too, have been talking to me - I've been needing to put a pillow in between my knees at night again. Exercise really does help me to keep a modicum of flexibility to my daily life. Even when I don't do this stuff for a week, my body really starts talking back in a major way.

Today I plan on doing yoga because the stretching is so essential for my piroformis and psoas muscles (These are terribly tight and stiff all the time.) It helps my groin muscles and hamstrings that get so tight they start to experience charlie horses. It helps my hips and pelvis and sacrum that has been so twisted since the kids were born... maybe sooner but the pain really began after Emily was born. SO that's 12 years of some variety and intensity of pain. I have such a high pain tolerance now that it's silly for me to fill out pain forms.

On this day, I have to begin again. NO MATTER how many papers there are, no matter what is happening in my life. My body speaks to me all the time and I listen as best as I can. I do the best I can and when I know better, I do better. My practice today is to not just listen to my body but to actually begin again with my routine after one week off and hope that my body's stiffness, tightness and pain softens quickly.

I probably will be doing my final paper on Meditation for Pain Management since it is something that I have been doing for 12 years. Maybe this is good that this week off from my usual daily exercise program happened because I was wondering what I'd do my final paper on. :-)

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more middle of the night thoughts, imaginings & meditations

I got up just before 2 am because I was desperately hot. I went pee and as soon as my mind recognized that I was not sleeping, thoughts started to rain down inside my head on so many issues that are present in my life right now. There was nothing that I immediately had to do, although there are several things I need to say/advocate for once the weekend is over. My brain wants to remember them and it seems like this repetition happens until I write down what I must not forget later. I'm trying not to judge this as it happens but honestly, I'm trying to replace these thoughts with ANYTHING and it just doesn't work. I spent some time between 2-3 am to get into my body - to feel the sensations of my body and the environment around me in hopes of just spending less time/energy in my thoughts. I tried to focus my thoughts on my breathing. I prayed, I cried, I put my thoughts on what I was grateful for. I finally got to sleep sometime after three and woke up at 8. I am telling myself that I'm getting enough sleep for someone going through so many lifestyle changes. But honestly, the past couple/few weeks/months, my body is pretty exhausted. My brain at night in the middle of the night is pretty awake and alert and I'm finding myself begging my own brain to stop being so active because my body is not keeping up at times during the day. I desperately need a break and I just don't see it happening until this semester is over. I am HOPEFUL that I can have even a few days all to myself. I thought about it. I haven't had time to myself since November when I took a weekend to go to NJ to see the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Anyway, the gratitude thing worked. I also put my thoughts into thinking/imagining generosity and compassion and empathy coming to me. I imagined people calling me and doing the job that they are assigned to do for me. I imagined the possibility of having a friend or two where I live here who aren't seeking anything from me other than friendship, who have my back and actually want to and are able to spend some time with me. I'm imagining myself having some time and space to heal these wounds so that I can begin to have new things to look forward to. I want to see the light at the end of this tunnel and I guess I do to some extent. I started to really feel nice inside my body when I started to think about having time and space to imagine something sweet to do in my life and with the kids and the ability to do that without a fight or some big push/pull in order to make it happen. That's when I could really feel the rest of my body, my belly, my feet, my legs and could relax into myself enough to drift back to sleep. I woke up hearing sounds downstairs at 8 am. My brain went right back into the mode of thinking-thinking-thinking. To wake up and immediately feel exhausted is not a great feeling. I scanned down into my body and concentrated on the breathing. From all the books we've read in these past 5+ weeks of school, I appreciate the simplicity of Kornfield the most. I believe that establishing this simple meditation ability of getting back to the breath and getting back to the body is something that takes time and is essential to do before moving forward with more complex ideas and practices. The meditation class is good to give an overview but by comparison, it takes monks/nuns YEARS to get to this place from meditating for hours a day on those basics first. I think it could be easily experienced as overwhelming to try to process, assimilate and practice all these new things that we are learning each week. So I am processing enough to understand the lessons each week and it is kind of fun to try on some new technique but I find that in these middle of the night thought-fests, I have so many tools in my toolbelt that it is almost as if I had none. I don't know which tool is going to be the best. This morning, I went back to my original commitment to sitting and doing the simple Kornfield practices. That feels like a relief to me. Keep it simple. Meditation this morning was not the best I've experienced thus far, but at least I am continuing to do it. I suppose that is a judgment to say that it's not the best thus far. I suppose it's successful to see how incessant this thinking-thinking-thinking is. I can also observe my attachment to the exhaustion I feel. I've been up three hours and I'm wishing I had more sleep. It's a beautiful day out and maybe it's time to take a nap outside. It's so difficult because I want to spend the day with my daughter but right now, I feel truly a loss of energy right in this very moment...
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5 am meditation and sometimes you just gotta listen...

This morning I woke up around 5 am. I felt exhausted still but suddenly my mind became very active. I hate when this happens. I put my attention in my body and really let myself relax and fall into the bed, to feel weighty and it did have a calming effect. Still, each time I felt myself drift off, my mind went into a repetitive thought. I had had a meeting on Monday afternoon and there were a couple issues that suddenly came to mind of great importance. I acknowledged the thoughts. I said that I would get to them as soon as I got more sleep. I even said that I'd be in a better place to function with more sleep. It was like I was trying to beg to a young child that I would be a better parent if I had more sleep to function better... I kept trying to let my body drift back to sleep but these thoughts kept chiming in so loudly. After about 30 minutes, I decided to go pee and then come back to do a meditation practice.

I sat with the thoughts and acknowledged that they kept coming up. I realized I wanted to remember these items of importance because I want to advocate for myself and my family. I scanned down into my body and relaxed all the way down to my feet and back up to my head. I can't tell you how different these thoughts were than other thoughts in the (not so distant) past. They were so strong and powerful and I actually yelled loudly to myself in thought, "PLEASE!! STOP! I HEAR YOU! I LOVE YOU! I HEAR YOU!" (I thought this was kind of funny. It reminded me a little bit of what I read years ago in Eat, Pray, Love, when Elizabeth Gilbert was yelling at herself in meditation.) The pervasive thoughts stopped only briefly but then kept streaming in in the same succession, in the same order. So I just said, "Ok, fine! I'll write this down so I can get back to sleep!" It was like I was bargaining with myself.

I wrote down all the things on my mind. I listed it out and read it and edited and read it again. I did this until every issue and need was listed out. I asked myself if this seemed good and the answer was yes. I put down the computer and I laid back down. The thoughts that kept going in my head after that is, "I love you. I love you. I love you," and I drifted back to sleep finally.

We are reading a Course in Miracles this week and the main points are that thoughts, feelings, things are all illusions and the lesson is to practice to not attach to them, to view them with non-judgement and with curiosity. It was an interesting thing that happened to me. My brain wouldn't let go of these items until I wrote them down and then it was almost too easy to fall back asleep. I had the impression that my mind and body were working in cahoots or something! Maybe sometimes, some thoughts are more worth paying attention to than others. I don't know what meditation masters would say but I was just happy to get my requests down and get my body back to bed. I suppose according to the Course in Miracles, I would need lots of training to realize that these thoughts were nothing... I do wonder, though about the creative spirit that chimes in sometimes and says, "Listen." I'm not sure if this was the creative spirit but this was a very repetitive thought telling me to "Listen and do what I say." I was trying to use all these tools and they worked only briefly... Sometimes, maybe, you just gotta listen and do...

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monday's meditation with my dog

I woke up pretty early yesterday morning and I dashed downstairs because I heard the dog whimpering. I didn't know what was wrong and was happy to find out that he was just whimpering at matt to get on the bed with him. I sat in the kitchen and my dog came with me. I sat in the chair and decided to meditate. The dog sat on my lap and we settled in. I have to say it was much easier to follow the breathing of my dog than my own breathing. Why is that? I don't really know for sure. It was cute and sweet and very fun to listen to his breathing turn to sleeping breaths. I was smiling and at some point I decided to open my eyes and continue on with the meditation with my eyes open.

I looked at the dogs hair. He's mostly a black dog, with white on his chin and a small bit on his chest but he's kind of a rainbow because there's gray, black, brown, auburn and white in his hair. His hair is so much longer than when we brought them home in December. What a cutie. I watched his belly move as he was breathing. I just observed his body curled in a little u-shape. I felt the weight of his small body on my lap. It was a really sweet observation. I do it all the time but this felt extra special.

An interesting thing to note. Mister Noah (my dog) and I were doing this little meditation and Matt decided to bring Noah's brother in the room (Cooper.) As soon as he put Cooper near us, Noah made a tiny little half-hearted growl. What was that all about? Was he saying, "This is my time with this lady! Leave us alone!"? I can't say but it made me chuckle.

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