A tagine is a classic Moroccan stew cooked in a clay pot. This seasonal take uses a Dutch oven and blends sweet butternut squash and plums with smoky spices and buttery pistachios to create a unique texture and flavor. Serve it with quick-cooking couscous for a delicious weeknight meal.
Our handwriting, letters and words can say as much about our frame of mind as the pictures we draw. Using letters in art is both revealing and fun: it can create whimsical, beautiful artworks or express the deepest parts of our emotions. It is also a good way to tackle art if you find words comforting but pictures difficult. The exercise below is a fun and easy way to lose oneself in art. The words, images and colors chosen can say volumes about our mental health. When you are done, add it to your art journal to look back on.
For this exercise, you will need a white pen and white acrylic paint, paper and markers in the colors of your choice (fine-tipped black marker, calligraphy markers, etc.)
Pick a color palette that you love. You can find inspiration anywhere: your favorite colors, a beautiful dress, a home décor magazine, etc. Find markers and pens that match this color scheme. You can also prepare your paper in this color.
Begin by writing words. If you don’t know what to write, start with the alphabet. An easy way to start is with your own handwriting. Then branch out: elongate the letters, stack them on each other, overlap them and so on.
Let the rhythm of writing calm your mind and emotions. When you have created a lettered background that you are happy with, sketch an image that inspires you over the top: leaves in the wind, a woman and eggs are all examples.
When the image is done, continue writing. It is important not to overthink this; just let the words come through your hands. Quotes, lyrics, titles and book passages can all help get you out of a creative stump.
When you feel finished, add white lettering to highlight existing words. Finally, survey your work. How does it make you feel? What does it say about your emotional state?
Each year I visit the Huntington gardens in southern California. The Japanese, Shakespeare and rose gardens are beautiful and tranquil spaces to spend an afternoon. The ever-balmy weather is a perfect place to showcase a variety of gardens. It is so different to our own currently frozen, leafless mornings in Tennessee!
We put so much effort into our beautiful gardens here, planting each year to watch flowers grow and fade away. We put a lot of time and energy into something so ephemeral. Do you follow the cycle of the seasons in your garden?
There is a joy in the yearly routine and evolution of a garden, in seeing everything grow and die and sometimes grow again. It provides a framework for the cycles of our own lives, for the nature of gain and loss, life and death, success and failure. All of these things we watch in our gardens. The lifecycles of our roses allows us to better understand that after every winter comes a burst of color and joy.
Gardens are so beautiful for their ever-shifting and impermanent nature. I suspect that if my garden never changed, its beauty would somehow be diminished. But it is a changing organism that both reflects and impacts the world around it.
Like a rose garden, our lives grow and change, are cultivated, nurtured and trimmed.
Gardening is a creative and rhythmic activity with many mental health benefits. We can expend our joys and sorrows in the soil. It mirrors the shifting nature of our own lives. In our yearly accomplishments and failures, we find an activity that boosts self-esteem and reduces stress. Most of all, it allows us to better understand ourselves and the world around us.
After all the recent holiday feasting, women can find their minds and bodies reeling from overindulgence. Returning to healthy eating habits is not always easy, as leftovers are plentiful and women may be prone to stress and depression about overeating.
Mindful eating provides important principles for returning to healthy eating habits: to eat when hungry, be present with each bite of food consumed and to stop eating when hunger cues subside.
Many women turn to deprivation after overconsumption. Television ads after the holidays reinforce this: it seems as if every other ad sells a new diet fad that returns participants to “happiness.” However, restriction is emotionally destructive; it contributes to negative emotional patterns that harm mental health and destroy self-respect.
Mindfulness encourages self-esteem and healthy habits. Nutrition is an essential component of self-love because it is the way we physically nourish our bodies. That is why focusing on diet becomes part of recovery from mental health and substance abuse.
It is important not to dwell on feelings of guilt, but to focus on healthy habits instead. When we treat our bodies well, our minds feel better. Brookhaven Retreat encourages a continued balance of fresh, seasonal food, plenty of liquids and moderate exercise after the holidays in order to nurture self-love and continued recovery from mental health issues.
Because Brookhaven Retreat believes in maintaining the highest standards in women’s health, its recent juicing program uses solely organic produce. Research shows that trace amounts of pesticides are still available in the produce we purchase at the supermarket. When fruits and vegetables are imported, these pesticides may even be varieties that are banned from use in the U.S. These can interact with our cells in ways we don’t yet understand.
Because of this, Brookhaven Retreat uses organic and garden-grown ingredients wherever possible. This is especially important when we consume the skin of these fruits and vegetables. However, buying organic can become cost-prohibitive for many women.
Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases a list of the worst pesticide-laden produce alongside a list of those with the least pesticide residue. By focusing on buying the top 12 offenders organically, it says we can eliminate up to 80 percent of pesticides from our diet.
Focusing on the source and benefits of what we eat creates an awareness of nutrition that benefits women’s health. Women learn to nurture themselves by making nutritional choices that benefit their body and mood. This develops a foundation of self-respect and awareness upon which residential treatment flourishes.
The holidays are a difficult time for women who are suffering from grief or struggling with mental illness. While others are busy thinking about wrapping gifts or assembling a holiday feast, some women worry about simply making it through the holidays without having an emotional breakdown.
Brookhaven Retreat shares this set of tips for surviving or even averting the possible depression and anxiety that can result from the holidays:
Prepare for the worst: Prepare for the worst possible scenario so that you are ready in the event that something bad does occur. Know your triggers and prepare a course of action for averting disaster should you find yourself faced with those triggers. This way, when faced with the temptation of alcohol, a toxic person or a difficult place, you are prepared with an action plan to overcome that trigger and walk away rather than let it become dangerous to your mental health.
Keep things simple: Keeping things simple is about not overdoing things or overtaxing yourself. If you are unsure about being able to face something, don’t. If you don’t know how to deal with a trigger at an event, avoid it. Avoid toxic people who are detrimental to your recovery. This is not rude; it’s common sense. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays; you are protecting your ability to do so by avoiding dangerous situations.
Take care of your body: Adequate exercise, good nutrition and proper sleep all keep the mind and body calm and charged. It is not possible to appropriately deal with stress and anxiety if the body is already under it. When you are physically well, you experience greater mental clarity and are better able to deal with any emotional issues that arise.
Make appointments and prepare your support team: It is quite possible that women facing depression, anxiety and stress over the holidays will ignore the phone and mail, and try to back out of engagements even if those engagements are important for their wellbeing. If you need to see a doctor or lawyer, prepare your appointments in advance so you are less likely to find an excuse not to go. Make appointments to see a therapist if needed, and have a group of go-to friends and family to talk to or spend time with outside the house.
Most importantly, laugh. Laughing and having a good time shifts perspective. In both 2006 and 2008, researchers at Loma Linda University found that anticipating laughter simultaneously increases beta-endorphins that alleviate depression and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. So, even being prepared to have a good time reduces stress and increases happiness. If you try to perceive things positively and feel ready to have a good time, you view the world with less stress and are more likely to enjoy the holidays.
By using these tips and the coping skills learned in therapy, women can maintain a more positive outlook and even enjoy the holiday moments they may have been anxious about before.
Vinegar-based hair rinses remove excess buildup of hair care products, preventing hair from becoming dull and heavy with silicones and other residue. They also restore the pH balance of hair, making them great for maintaining the health of both our hair and scalp.
Many people are afraid of vinegar’s strong aroma. While it is quite potent in the shower, the smell completely vanishes by the time the hair is dry. In return, you are left with soft, silky, shiny hair.
This herbal-infused hair rinse recipe includes beneficial botanicals to improve the health of your scalp. Burdock root fights dandruff, chamomile is anti-inflammatory and soothes dry scalp, oat straw promotes softness and shine, and rosemary balances oil production.
To use this hair rinse, simply shampoo and rinse as usual. Then pour the vinegar rinse over your hair, soaking it completely. Let the rinse sit and massage it into your scalp. Rinse your hair clean.
Herb-Infused Vinegar Hair Rinse
This recipe will keep for two months in a cool, dry place. To make a similar recipe in a pinch, use one part vinegar and one part water and use in the same way.
One of the best things about autumn and winter is the rich spices we infuse in our cooking. Though gone are the tender vegetables and abundant fruit of early spring and summer, we are able to explore entirely different dimensions of flavor. This aromatic pork dish uses a pressure cooker to create a moist and richly-spiced meat that you’ll want to cook all year long.
Hey readers! I thought this week I would add some of my favorite quotes about art. They may add insight for your own creative process. If you’d like an art project, you may add one of these quotes to a piece of your artwork or create a sign with one of these quotes.
“You are the artist of your own life.” - Unknown
“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.” - Frida Kahlo
“If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” (opposite action!) - Vincent Van Gogh
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” - Aristotle
“Art is a means to enter, to play with, to dance with, to wrestle with anything that intrigues, delights, disturbs, or terrifies us.” - Pat B. Allen, PhD, ATR
“I cry out for order and find it only in art.” - *Helen Hayes *
“Every good painter paints what he is.” - Jackson Pollock
“What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.” - John Updike
“Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.” - Theodore Dreiser
“Painting is by nature a luminous language.” - Robert Delaunay
“The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.” - Eugene Delacroix
Nuts are a nutrient-dense addition to our daily diets. They are full of unsaturated fats that benefit our health and magnesium that provides a natural energy boost. However, each nut offers different benefits. Here is a guide to common varieties that may convince you to eat them all!
Almonds: Almonds provide the most nutrients per ounce. They are higher in fiber than other nuts and provide plenty of protein and calcium.
Brazil nuts: Brazil nuts are high in antioxidants that prevent free radical damage. They are also a good source of selenium, a mineral that boosts the immune system and produces thyroid hormones. Eating just two will provide your entire day’s dose!
Cashews: This buttery nut contains more iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus than any other tree nut.
Hazelnuts: Beside a delightful woodsy flavor, they are also the most plentiful nut-source of manganese with 633 percent of our daily value per 100 gram serving. Manganese is required for healthy bone development, nutrient absorption and blood sugar regulation.
Macadamia: Macadamia nuts are the highest in calories and fat, but still provide plenty of healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Don’t be afraid to indulge in a few!
Peanuts: These legumes pack the most protein aside from walnuts. Studies have shown that they, along with other nuts, can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. They are high in folate, a B-vitamin that reduces risk of cognitive decline.
Pecans: This traditionally Southern nut is the next highest source of manganese after hazelnuts.
Pistachio: Unlike other nuts, pistachios provide lutein and zexanthin, two nutrients that have been shown to reduce the risk of age-related eye disease.
Walnuts: Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent heart disease and depression.
Regardless of which is your favorite, all nuts provide healthy fats, fibers and nutrients essential to maintaining physical and mental health. They can be enjoyed in myriad ways; try them in smoothies, nut butters, flours, and sprinkled over sweet and savory dishes. Nuts will go rancid, so keep them in the refrigerator anywhere from three months to a year.