Simple Ways to Calm Down Fast


Life can be very difficult, but it is up to us how we choose to react to it.  Last week due to external stressors and chemical exposures I found myself down the stress rabbit hole. I recognized it and moved through but not without fallout on my family and physical being.  I realized I was zipping through the grocery store at too fast a pace, operating at too high of a frequency, was low on patience with my children and husband, and needed to rest more.  Post cancer I have actively worked to compile quite a toolbox of various techniques and I am always adding to it. The KEY is to reach for the tools as quickly as possible to rid our bodies of mental and physical stress before fallout happens to ourselves and our loved ones. 

Stress seems to be ingrained into American life.  As a culture we seem to pride ourselves on being busy, wanting more than we have, and not allowing ourselves time and space to just be. This puts our body into a state of dis-ease, the opposite of wellness. Stress can be useful if we need to be on alert but in today's modern society much of our physical stress is created by us.  Historically humans needed physical stress to keep them alive. If a lion was chasing someone they needed an increase in adrenaline and cortisol to escape. That person would run and through exercise their hormones would return to normal. In today's society this scenario looks much different. Our stress hormones rise, but without proper outlets stress becomes chronic. We all have various stressors in our lives (busy schedules, school stress, health issues, financial worries, aging parents, work duties, raising children, job loss) and we may feel out of control in dealing with them. 

Although we can't control situations that bring us stress,  we CAN control our response. We can consciously acknowledge the warning signs when stress physically enters our bodies and use several strategies to Calm Down Fast. These strategies may not come natural to you but practicing will make them easier to access. 



1. Recognize the first truth of stress: ONLY WE CREATE IT.  Stress is your physical and mental reaction to external stimuli. We can't change a crazy hectic world, but we can control our response to it. We can choose to react to stressful situations with grace, calm, humor, and humility. Just like alcoholism, 50% of the cure is admitting there is a problem to work on. 


2. Seek Connection. When you are frustrated, stressed, or at wits end, call a friend, ask for a hug, or simply share that you are feeling stressed.  Connection, both physical and emotional, is scientifically proven to be an important factor in health, wellness, and longevity.  Connection helps prevent stress hormones from escalating. 


3. Intentionally clench and unclench your muscles. Tense your hands and feet for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 3 times. You can also tense your face and jaw and then release. Legs, butt, and feet can be tensed easily under a table or desk, but save the face clenching for home, the car, or your bio break :) 


4. Practice Gratitude. Wherever you are, whatever you are thinking, think of or write down 3 things you are grateful for. Gratitude directly leads to hope. Gratitude replaces negative thoughts, patterns and actions. We tend to engage in unhealthy behaviors when we are stressed so before you choose something that will cause more dis-ease in your body try to choose gratitude first. Practice makes this an easier tool to reach for. 

5. List 3 things you see that you like. No matter where you are notice 3 things around you that you find interesting, bring joy, or you simply like. This will focus your brain away from stress and negative thoughts. Beauty is where you find it! 

6.  Get outside.  Look up and notice the clouds, sky or tree tops. Fresh air and nature can shift your perspective in just a few minutes. A long walk is even better.  A change in our literal view can change our perspective. 



Try one at a time, practice and remember it is best to anchor new habits to existing ones. For example complete your 3 deep cleansing breaths as soon as you shut off your alarm and before you check your phone.

1. Before you get out of bed take 3 deep breaths, making sure to expand your belly. This will wake up your lymphatic system, support your nervous system and immune system. You can create a morning mantra. Mine is, "Thank you for today." Maybe you can list 3 things you are grateful. Some people start their day with a gratitude e-mail thanking someone, or a quick text or phone call.  

2. Incorporate intentional breathing 3 times a day. This can simple be 3-5 deep breaths or more focused breathing exercises. I close my eyes and breathe in for a count of 6 and exhale for a count of 8.

3. Incorporate intentional breathing, yoga or mediation into your week. You can take 5-10 minutes a day and you should notice a positive difference.

4. Plan for at least 6 hours a week for relaxation time. This is time that there is nothing scheduled. Your only task is to be. You can ask yourself, "What would I like to do?" You can rest, meditate, read a book, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or tea, knit. GUARD THIS TIME AS YOU DO YOUR ATM PIN.

5. Eat to support your nervous system. Sip tea, eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and be aware of your alcohol, caffeine, sugar and processed food consumption. 


Remember you can't pour from an empty cup! Self care is important, especially during this busy time of year. There are many ways to calm down fast and to live a less stressful life. Choose which options best work for you! 

Sources and additional info on ways to reduce stress:

Your Brain on Nature

M.D. Anderson

American Psychological Association



I GOT TO TURN 40! I wrote the following entry the week of my birthday and still reflect on it. As I get ready to launch something great with one of my closest friends I think, "I get to be here on this beautiful earth. What will my continued impact be?" I want to have a greater impact teaching and inspiring others to live their best life and to use products that nourish our bodies and our entire selves. 

Stay tuned: It is my belief that the best is yet to come!

This week I have the joy and privilege of turning 40. 40! At age 32 I was living as my body worked to actively destroy cancer cells with the help of surgery and poisonous chemo drugs. I thought I only had a few years and that soon I would be actively dying. 


It is a common sentiment among young cancer survivors, especially those that have had a parent die young. We think our story will be as our parents. That cancer cells will come back and take our health, and eventually our body. I thought I had only 4 years, as my mom did.


Many think that as soon as treatment is done and someone lives a few years past active treatment that cancer is cured. In some people it is and they get to live to an old age. However for many young (and older) survivors, that is not the case. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, never taking my life for granted, as I know any day this gift of life could be taken away.

Once active treatment ends there is new phase of life to navigate, survivorship, or simply “life after cancer.” It can still be filled with dr. appointments, medications, additional surgeries, anxiety, physical limitations, chronic pain, and hormonal changes. For young survivors we are living with this phase of survivorship for more years which is a beautiful thing but brings its own challenges as the months pass. 

This week I GET to turn 40 and I am ecstatic. I get to celebrate my LIFE, my FAMILY, and my FRIENDS. I am so very grateful for what I consider bonus time on this earth. Every year brings joy, sadness, new challenges, and celebration and I am open to it all because I get to be here. I get to be alive on this earth. I GET TO TURN 40.

I try to live my life with intention and in my 40th on the earth I vow to live with deeper intention, kindness, and joy. I invite you to do the same and share the joy of life with me.

Thanks for reading, love, joy, friendship and wellness to you all,



Pink, October, and Pinkwashing


Last weekend I took a flight to visit dear friends and to celebrate another 40th Birthday. The morning of this above photo I was with one of my closest friends and her family in NYC. We left the house a bit late to catch some very important soccer games :) at different locations in the city. With my travel I remembered my glass water bottle, but forgot my ceramic coffee mug which led us to a coffee shop where I was handed the above coffee. Darn! First annoyance was I purchased one use plastic, and second it was PINK! 

As I sat in a cab I snapped this photo reflecting on the absurdity of this PINK plastic lid in the name of Breast Cancer Research, supposedly saving lives while poisoning us with BPA, hormone disruptors, and other chemicals and killing marine life. Hmmm... I can not wrap my head around this one. (For the record I did not drink from the lid.)

Here are some facts that a plastic pink coffee cover does not address:

1. In 2017, an estimated 255,180 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men and women with an additional 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer (also known as carcinoma in situ). 

2. About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer and 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

3. Overall, African-American women are 42% more likely to die of breast cancer.

4. Only 7-10% of breast cancers are based on hereditary gene variants. 

So the pink plastic coffee is an example of pinkwashing. Companies profiting from slogans such as "for the cure" while contributing to the lack of significant funds for metastatic research and actually causing harm to our bodies and immune system. Here is a list of questions to ask, created by the Think Before You Pink Campaign: 

I am so grateful for my life, grateful for my family and friends, grateful I have had the opportunity to turn 40 and to celebrate with my friends as they turn 40. I am grateful every morning as I wake and as I see my children's smiles, and help them navigate through their difficulties. Pink plastic lids are lost on me, and I can only hope that it led to at least one woman doing a self exam and minimal funds raised making a difference somewhere. 

In October we swim in a sea of pink, yes we are aware, yet there are still harsh treatments to treat a terrible disease with the hope that it does not spread to metastatic cancer, or come back as recurrence. And there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, too many of our friends, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and aunts are losing their lives to this terrible disease. 

So how can you honor survivors? Do a self exam, as this is how most breast cancers are detected. Be your own health care advocate and even if you are young, know that young women can and do get breast cancer even with no family history. Exercise! Did you know that being overweight is the number 1 risk factor? Find one new way to eliminate toxins in your home. Eat one healthier meal a week.

Many women are currently battling metastatic breast cancer and THERE IS NO CURE! If you are looking to donate money to help support research you can donate to  

I am a volunteer local outreach coordinator for FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered and a State Leader for Young Survival Coalition. I also co-lead a young support group in the Chapel Hill/Durham N.C. area. I work to empower young women and it is fulfilling in many ways. It is also difficult as I connect with more women each year, newly diagnosed, in treatment, dealing with the harsh aftermath of surgery and treatments, and navigating the world of metastatic cancer. This is why I can't help the resentment when I see a company profiting from a pink plastic coffee lid, (even if a very small donation is made by the plastic producing company) while I know young women actively dying of a terrible disease. Research and health advocacy is needed, not smiling Instagram photos of people with toxic pink coffee lids.  

Resources and Links:


Ditch the plastic Week 3 - Bring your own travel coffee or tea mug

This week to ditch some plastic in your life, use a reusable travel coffee or tea mug instead of styrofoam or plastic coated paper. I used to think the inside of paper cups was wax, nope, it is plastic leaching into your hot beverage of choice! Reusable cups can work for iced coffees and teas as well! I brew coffee in the morning and bring with me in this reusable mug with silicone cover. I also use my travel mug to get coffee on the go. I have never had anyone turn me down on a refill in my reusable ceramic cup. A win for your health avoiding leaching toxins. A win for your tastebuds because coffee and tea just taste better in glass! Using a reusable coffee/tea mug is also a win for the environment and sea turtles! 

Refill with delicious Joe Van Gogh Organic coffee at Weaver Street Market, our local Co-op  in Carrboro, NC  Cup was purchased from World Market.

Refill with delicious Joe Van Gogh Organic coffee at Weaver Street Market, our local Co-op  in Carrboro, NC  Cup was purchased from World Market.

Four Facts About Plastic:

1. Americans throw away 25 billion cups each year (363 millions pounds of waste) and using a ceramic mug is associated with 30 times less solid waste and 60 times less air pollution than the equivalent drinks in a disposable or foam cup. 

2. Plastic items contain and leach endocrine disruptors which produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in humans and wildlife according the the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

3. There are 5 areas of floating plastic wastein our oceans, a plastic soup if you will, with the largest being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, estimated at 386,000 square miles. (

4. A 2008 Yale study showed BPA cause loss of connection between brain cells. BPA was found in the urine of over 90% of adults tested. 

Sources and more info:

"True Green@ Work" McKay, Bonnin, Wallace

Ditch the Plastic Week #2 - Just Say No to the Straw!

Four Facts About Plastic:

1. Eating Fresh Foods not packaged in plastic can reduce your BPA exposure by 50% in just 3-5 days!

2. 50% of plastic is used for single use and remember only 7-8% is recycled in the U.S! (10% is recycled worldwide).

3. Plastic makes up 60-80% of ocean debris.

4. Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. That’s 175 Billion a year filtering into landfills (environment) and littering our waterways and oceans. o understand just how many straws 500 million really is, this would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. That's 46,400 school buses every year! (

Single use straws are an easy way to cut down on single use plastic. "JUST SAY NO" to the straw when out at dinner, lunch, or whenever you are offered one. OR purchase these reusable straws and carry them in your purse. They are healthier and will HELP SAVE SEA TURTLES! My mouth burns when I have put a plastic or stainless steel straw in my mouth. These silicone straws have been great for my family and I have had them for 5 years and counting... 

Sources and where to read more!



Ditch the Plastic Week #1

Four Facts about Plastic:

1. Only 10% of plastic that is discarded is recycled world wide (8% is recycled in U.S.) 

2. Eating more real food equates to less plastic in our body and in landfill (think leaching and packaging waste). As a scientist stated, "If you don't have any chemicals from plastic you are not living in the modern world."

3. Using less plastic helps limit ocean pollution and helps to SAVE THE SEA TURTLES! 

4. Americans consume more plastic than any other nation (326 pounds per person in 2010)

Weekly Tip to Reduce Plastic! Use glass and stainless steel containers for food storage. Ditch the Ziploc bags and containers. I use these glass storage bowls for leftovers and food storage: Pyrex Glass bowl set with lids. I also use this Glasslock set, also available at Costco sometimes: Glasslock 14-Piece Oven Safe Box Set with Lids. Stainless steel is a good lighter weight option, but at home I prefer glass due to zero leaching.  I use various stainless steel containers for packed lunches. This one is great for a sandwich or quesadilla or salad and 2 snacks: Lunch Bots Trio. These pair great with: Stainless Steel Nesting Containers great for snacks. 

Amazon Affiliate Links: If you purchase these products through this site EcoThriver will get a small percentage to keep the site going! 

Bento Box Container:

Sources and More information:

Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles! by Michael SanClements




Simple ways to ditch plastic: weekly tips

Reducing plastic use can feel overwhelming, especially since in many ways it is more convenient and cheaper in the short term. However, there are many reasons to ditch plastic. Starting next week I will focus on one way to ditch (or reduce) plastic each week. I will briefly discuss the "why" and "how" to switch out plastic for reusable eco-friendly and healthier options! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the weekly switch from this to that! I have chosen to present one product each week to give you time to incorporate the change! I would love to hear stories about your switch! Hope you will join us! 

Eat Collard Greens - Why does Kale get all the love?

Prior to meeting with a nutritionist post cancer I had never heard of collard greens. I was a New Jersey girl whose greens included spinach and lettuce, that was it. Post chemo I added Kale and swiss chard into my diet. 

After learning I had osteopenia (stage of bone loss prior to osteoporosis) I had to increase my calcium.  A nutritionist told me to think of my daily green smoothie as my calcium drink to keep my bones strong and to add collard greens into my diet. Now, I am hooked! 

Kale gets all the attention these days but Collard Greens are another important leafy green vegetable. They contain calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin C are immune boosting, and anti-inflammatory.

When I moved to the South I learned Collards are a part of southern cooking and I learned they are almost always cooked with pork fat or bacon. If you go out to eat this is not listed on the menu, it is just known that a side of Collard Greens will include pork of some kind. I learned this the hard way as I thought it was "safe" vegetarian dish. 

So I make my Collard Greens at home. I usually saute them in the morning with my eggs, add them into my smoothies, or sprinkle them on whatever I am eating for some extra calcium.

Collards can be a little bitter raw, but everyone in my family enjoys them sauteed with olive oil, onions, garlic and sea salt. Kale is another super green, but let's not forget about Collards as well! See if you can incorporate them into your meal planning this week. If you do, share your recipe! 

Cookbook Suggestion: Updated version of a cookbook that began my eating to nourish journey! Delicious recipes!

Water, Water, Water

As a child and young adult I didn't pay much attention to the taste of water or whether or how it contributed to my health. I remember drinking out of our dirty plastic hose daily during the summer, and tap water for most of my life, until bottled water became popular. I remember drinking water that tasted like plastic without flinching. After I became pregnant I started paying more attention to water and following chemo I could really taste the difference in clean water and I began to feel it in my body as well. I had a refrigerator filter for my home water and then I remember being at a friend's house and literally spitting out the water because I had a mouthful of chlorine.  So I started researching and sorted through lots of research and products and put off buying a water filtration system because they were expensive and I couldn't decide on one! When we moved to North Carolina I brought glass 5 gallon water bottles to Whole Foods to fill with Reverse Osmosis Drinking water. 2 Years ago we finally selected a drinking water system and it was WAY cheaper than the thousands of dollars I was quoted by "water experts". 

Water is the elixir of life and there is no doubt the cleaner the water you drink the healthier you will be. Flint, Michigan has put the dangers of toxic water to the forefront of our national conversation again. Locally, our local NC water company dealt with a 24 hour water emergency due to an error that over fluoridated our local water supply. We could not use any water due to danger of further contaminating our water supply. 

Water out of the tap or water fountain contains pharmaceuticals, chlorine or chloramine, heavy metals, VOC's, phthalates, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and more fluoride than is needed. These chemicals disrupt our bodies in various ways including early puberty, decreased immune function, higher cancer rates, obesity, migraines, endocrine disruption, increased allergies. I have attached links for more scientific information at the bottom of the blog. 

For optimum health we should all be filtering our drinking water (and our shower water too!) We are bombarded by toxins in our daily life and this is an important way to limit toxins. 

Bottled water is quite frequently filtered tap water and the plastic leeches into the water so it contains BPA and other chemicals. This is especially true if the plastic sits in heat in a warehouse or in your car. Also, bottled water is a great expense and the plastic creates waste that pollutes our waterways, soil, and endangers wildlife. Did you know that there is currently more than 8 million tons of plastic dumped in our oceans every year?

So how do you improve your drinking water? There are various water filtration systems on the market from pitcher type to whole house systems. Which system should you buy to make drinking water safer, to optimize your health and immune system and the health of your family?  You have a few options and depending on your home situation you can decide which is best for you! If none of the options below work for you a cheaper pitcher system can be purchased or the refrigerator filter will work some, but check specifics for which each filters out. If you would like additional consultation, I am available through my consulting services. 

My best recommendation is to purchase an under the kitchen sink reverse osmosis water system. This is what I use in my home and it delivers fresh, clean water! How do I know? Because for better or worse I can sense chemicals in my body. If I drink water that is not pure I feel ill immediately. I feel great with this water, it is the same quality as the filtered water at Whole Foods. I used to fill glass containers at Whole Foods however it got to be cumbersome and a few times I got home and the water smelled like chlorine. At home, I know when it is time to change the filters. 

My husband installed this filter Home Master Artesian Under Sink RO Water Filter at home 2 years ago and we are still happy with it! We drink a lot of water and I think we are replacing the filters on average every 8 months, but on average every 12 months is recommended. A plumber can install it as well. 

Another option is this counter top water system, Big Berkey. It is better suited if you are renting or you just don't want to deal with installing something. I have a travel version that I use when away from home. 

If you know you will be staying in your home for years it may be worthwhile to consider a whole house system. Then your shower and bath water is filtered as well and you can drink out of any sink. This is my recommendation: The Home Master Whole House Filter. This can also be used for well water, although you should always have your water tested to determine specific filter needs. 

And don't forget about a non-toxic reusable water bottle! This is my favorite and I have various sizes for the kids. I haven't had luck with the straws or flip top as they both have leaked for me. But these are one of my favorite products! 


If you decide to purchase, I have linked through the affiliate program so EcoThriver will receive a small percentage of your purchase, which will help support more content :) 

Disclaimer: I have not been paid for these suggestions. I am not liable for the suggestions made or for the product in any way. These are simply the products I use and recommend. 

Links for additional info:

WHO Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water

hornafjörður, Iceland - One of the few places you can drink the world's purest water right off the glacier or right out of the tap. Delicious, clean water was a treat in Iceland! No joke, this was one of my trip highlights! The water was amazingly delicious! 

hornafjörður, Iceland - One of the few places you can drink the world's purest water right off the glacier or right out of the tap. Delicious, clean water was a treat in Iceland! No joke, this was one of my trip highlights! The water was amazingly delicious! 


Warming Sweet Potato Chili Recipe: Autoimmune Allergen Friendly

The weather is finally getting colder in North Carolina and we are expecting snow which means being at home for possibly a few days (yes even a sprinkling will cause the state to shut down!). It is a great time to make a yummy, immune boosting chili recipe! I have tried various recipes and have created a hybrid of various recipes. This is a recipe that my entire family gobbles up. It can be served with simply a spoon, in a taco shell, or scooped up with tortilla chips (my family's preference). You can top with fresh cilantro for a splash of color and taste. Happy Cooking! 




  • 2 cups diced sweet potatoes

  • 1 cup butternut squash or carrots 

  • 2 cups chopped onions

  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey meat (use kidney beans or chick peas for vegetarian version)

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 1 jar diced tomatoes in glass (Jovial Brand is my go to, cans leach BPA and other chemicals)

  • 1/2 cup - 1 cup water or veggie broth (can add more if you want it more of a soup)

  • 1 tsp greek oregano (any oregano will do, but I prefer Greek)

  • 1 tsp coriander

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1 tsp paprika

1. peel and dice the sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, onions, garlic (chop to preference)

2. heat some olive oil and cook the garlic and onions until fragrant and translucent (5-8 minutes)

3. add the spices, vegetables, tomatoes, and water. Cook for 30 minutes or until tender.

4. while chili is simmering, cook the ground turkey or chicken in a pan until no longer pink. 

5. Add in meat or cooked beans and simmer for an additional 5 minutes and salt to taste.

6. ENJOY a healthy, immune boosting, tasty meal!

OPTIONS:  you can add green beans or sliced okra, red or green peppers, top with fresh cilantro and add avocado slices.