Journey to VA

Welcome, and happy Friday! 

As many know, I have a burning passion to work with veterans, particularly through the VHA and the DoD. This goal requires an Office of Personnel (OPM) code, which recognizes standardized physicians, across all 50 states, currently MDs & DOs.

After much careful consideration, I have withdrawn from naturopathic medical school with working plans to pursue conventional medical school.

I withdrew in time begin 2 last fall semester courses needed for my application, and begin Princeton Review MCAT boot camp prep for January test date.  I am where I need to be for the coming application cycle; I have a well-rounded, competitive application.  I am excited!

While it may seem sudden to some, I have considered this since the end of my first year, when I was first denied the opportunity to complete field observations at the local VA hospital.

My Backstory: Where it all started

My field observation request was approved and supported by SCNM administration and the locally by the Phoenix VA Chief of Staff of Medical Education.  Ultimately, the affiliation agreement request was ultimately denied by the VHA’s Office of Academic Affiliations in Washington, DC, as I was deemed unemployable by the VA.

Medical Mentorship 

Months later, the same Chief of Staff extended an invitation to me to host a Grand Rounds talk at the VA hospital.  Being so early in my medical education at the time of time of his invitation, I extended the invite to a physician at SCNM. 9 months later, an ND provided a VA Hospital Grand Rounds presentation, titled, Integrative Treatments for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy.  Based on my research, this was the first time a naturopathic physician hosted a VA Grand Rounds presentation. It was very exciting for me to witness!

I will be receiving supplemental recommendation letters from two Chief of Staff mentors for my centralized applications for conventional programs. Their feedback and support has been deeply validating and encouraging on my unique path.

Action and Advocacy: My Pearls of Wisdom

I have spent endless hours interacting with congressmen and congresswomen, locally in AZ & nationally in DC. I have gone up on microphone to ask Senator McCain about ND inclusion in the VA Choice Program. I’ve met with VA leadership and wore a unique hat of intention to help bridge the gap between naturopathic medicine and veterans.

Medicare and the VHA work intimately together, but typically, Medicare takes the lead. As federal agencies, both have clear definitions on occupations with an OPM (Office of Personnel Management) aka federal employment code.

That being said, I realized that while I was incurring the same debt as a conventional program — the federal opportunities that have been deeply and profoundly important to me — would not be available to me during my education, post graduation and beyond.

Throughout my time as a student, I ignored my gut feelings and decided I would pursue a master’s to receive an OPM code at the VA. Whenever I was asked what I wanted to do when I graduated, I would always answer WHO I wanted to work with, that became the most important thing for me, driving my energies to create and build our SVA and the PRC veterans study.

The reality of this has literally led to tears and a sense that my spirit was being drained. I have wanted this so badly, for so long. Reality was a hard pill for me to swallow.

And ultimately, those opportunities mean the most to me. 

Challenges that pose with this specific goal of federal inclusion

In Arizona, a true ND can prescribe something as strong as Schedule II Morphine, while in NJ, an ND cannot even touch the patient. The inconsistency amongst all 50 states makes it a challenge for Medicare to define NDs as a national profession, as our scope of practice isn’t defined on a national level, but rather a state level. As well, the online ND programs don’t help in the definition obstacles.

Arizona has the most practicing NDs in the country (not simply holding the degree) – at a # of 200 – not enough to address the staggering numbers of primary care physician shortages. As shared by the Medical Director, in 2017 alone, Phoenix VA Hospital had 7,000 new veteran patients…

Futuristic Solutions

The long term solutions for federal inclusion include ALL 50 states being licensed and some commonality on provider definition and scope of practice.  When this is in place, federal agencies will be more willing to welcome inclusion with clearly defined roles and scope of practice.

There is a myth going around (I believed it myself – until I sat with the AANP Federal and State Affairs Committee at this past AANP convention), that when 25 states are licensed, Medicare will automatically provide inclusion — this is a myth. Medicare will not NOT automatically provide inclusion, at 25, nor 50 states.

All 50 US states can be licensed and it is at Medicare’s discretion as to whether they would like to federally include the naturopathic profession. However, 50 states licensure makes it more realistic for inclusion.

That being said, I realized that while I was incurring the same debt as a conventional program — the federal opportunities that have been deeply and profoundly important to me — would not be available to me during my education, post graduation and beyond.

Onward, Forward

This brings me full circle to today, sharing my decision with you all. I am withdrawing in time to begin 2 last fall semester courses needed for my application, and begin MCAT boot camp prep for January test date. This coming week, I will be signed off from FB for the remainder of the year to grind and focus for the road ahead.

Reflections of health and happiness 

Pursuing naturopathic medicine has been a deeply rewarding experience – it has brought health and vitality to me, my husband, and more. Through my experiences, I’ve been empowered with lifelong skills and a deep appreciation for diversification of modalities and health philosophies. This is a PRICELESS gift.  I am forever grateful!

I’m truly excited for the road ahead: opportunities to be able to experience VA rotations as a medical student and seize veteran-specific opportunities that are near and dear to my heart. I look forward to the opportunity to engaging in collaborative change –

My core values continues on my journey with me.  The healing continues.   My message continues.  The best is yet to come! 🙂 

With love and gratitude,

❤ Gigi


Extra Resources 

If you’re interested to explore plant-based medical doctors (and some NDs):

My two favorite plant-based, vegan medical doctors

  •  Dr. Garth Davis, MD
  • Dr. John A. McDougall, MD

Plant-based on a budget is possible! 

 

 

Onward we go, 2016!

Happy holidays friends!

I hope 2015 ends on a positive note for you and your loved ones! I love when the New Years roll around.  The New Year is filled with open horizons and a time of reflection.

So many wonderful things have happened this year, I will bring you up to speed in a future post—stay tuned!

Reflection provides a special opportunity to see if, and, how fear limits my daily operations, visions, relationships, life pursuits.

Reflection has been a critical piece of my wellness journey, including: lessons learned, challenges overcome, opportunities seized/missed, realized strengths, weaknesses, lingering fears, and aspirations moving forward.

Fear is an interesting human creation.  Fear is theoretical, self-created, fed by our thoughts— amplified by worry, anxiety, unnecessary stress.  Fear is a poor use of our imagination.  To me, fear operates as an injury to the mind and spirit.

Fear paralyzes people from seizing action.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of change.  Fear of failure.  Fear of abandonment.  Fear of betrayal.  Fear of pain.  Fear of loss.  Fear of death.  Fear.  It cultivates self-limiting beliefs, disabling thoughts, self-destructive behaviors.

My best antidote for fear— faith.  Fear and faith stems from choice of thoughts, which impacts our daily decisions and life decisions.  It molds the life we live.  May we have the courage to see we always have the power to choose.  

On the last day of 2015, I ask YOU…

  • What are your reflections of 2015?
  • What were your lessons learned?
  • What were your challenges?
  • Were challenges overcome or avoided?
  • What opportunities were seized?
  • What opportunities slipped away?
  • What are your strengths?  Your weaknesses?
  • What is on your bucket-list?
  • Where does fear show up in your life?
  • Will you choose fear over faith?

What are your aspirations for 2016?  What is your vision? 

And last, but not least, what are you waiting for?

Onward to 2016,

~Gigi

PS. Interested to hear your reflections and aspirations.  Please comment below!  Cheers! 🙂

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The Illusion of Time: Part 2

Happy Wednesday friends! 🙂

A few weeks back, I watched a fascinating episode called “The Origin of Time,” Season 5, Episode 10 of the “Through The Wormhole” series.  I watched in awe and curiosity in this elusive constant.

Likewise, I reflected on what time means: on a personal level, a cultural level, and most amazingly, on an astrophysics & quantum physics level.

I pose my question again: What does time mean to you?  Does it feel like it is elusive, always outside of your control?  Does your time reservoir seem to be dwindling down or just out of your reach?  What does it mean to lose touch with time when you enter subconsciousness during sleep?

Culturally, Americans operate on a constant notion that time is money and there is never enough time, which leaves most people living in a perpetual mindFULL state, rather than mindful.  We get anxious about the future and we tend to mentally relive the past more times than we’d like to admit.

Globally, we operate on 24 time zones, based on our orientation to the sun and space.  Roman, Egyptian, Islamic, Gregorian, Julian calendars have existed to explain such an elusive concept–time.

Today, it is the 15th century in Saudi Arabia, while it is 58th century in Israel.  But when did time begin?  Did it begin at the birth of universe? Or did our cosmic calendar start ticking after?  How can we truly measure time?  And what does time even mean?

Among astrophysicists, there are various theories and perspectives regarding time as a concept, its origin, its measurable definition.  Astrophysicists debate and question the existence of time.

Through Einstein’s concept of space time, many physicists believe time is fundamental and flows forward, smoothly and eternally.  Time is a measure of entropy (or disorder) in the universe.

Some astrophyscists believe time does not flow at all, and it pops into existence, every fraction of a second.  Others believe time is dependent on the presence of light (≈3.00×108 m/s) via the electromagnetic disturbances.

Other physicists believe time is dependent on heat, which by definition, makes an event irreversible via thermodynamics.  Beyond Isaac Newton’s classical system, thermal time is considered to extend from quantum physics.  Thermal time postulates that physical time flow does not exist, nor operate on a fundamental level.  Rather, thermal time is a macroscopic feature of thermodynamical origin–heat.

I am fascinated by the elusive nature of time.

Among global time zones, cultural interpretations, and dedicated astrophysicists, there is no clear consensus of time.

From my perspective, there is some common ground:  

  1. Time is measured via variable methods and interpretations.
  2. Time is valuable, even on a basic level.  When people pass away, their lives are measured from the recorded time of their first breath to their very last breath. 

From my perspective, time is directly related to our life experiences.  Without life, we, as living, breathing humans, have no time to physically experience.

So, my last questions to you… Is your own illusion of time aligned with what you want out of your life?  What meaning will you assign to your own illusion of time?

Thank you for sharing your time with me, reading my blog.  I would love to hear from you!

In light and love,

Gigi ❤

“What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” –Dr. Robert Schuller

The Illusion of Time: Part 1

Happy Saturday, my friends!

Today is Day 6 of a 7 day unprecedented Team Pendlebury couples juice cleanse.  But more on that later, future blog post. Stay tuned!  🙂

It is has been a while since I have blogged.  I have entered my 3rd quarter of naturopathic medical school.  It has been a great journey!  During my second quarter, I began teaching my own cycle class and also worked a couple of other jobs.

To my pleasant surprise, my final grades improved despite my tighter schedule.  I received a few As, rather than all Bs like my first quarter.  Regardless, I firmly believe that B is for Balanced & Badass.  🙂

As I embark on a various personal and professional projects, I have found myself wanting to do so much personally, professionally, socially, yet I have felt as if there is so little time.

Time has felt scarce, precious, fleeting.  I have caught myself thinking, I only have two hands and there are only 24 hours in the day.

Likewise, I have caught myself on various occasions, reliving an encounter or pondering on the future, ultimately losing the elusive nature of the present moment.

During my one week break between quarters, I had the opportunity to embark on fully compensated travel to NJ for a Consensus Conference for a research project near and dear to my heart, through Rutgers University.  It was a beautiful and unforgettable experience.  The conference provided a special opportunity to meet people who shared paralleling visions–together our voices were amplified in winds of change.

On the plane ride home, I watched a fascinating episode called “The Origin of Time,” episode 10 of the “Through The Wormhole” series.  Despite my interests in medicine, the human body, disease, wellness, I have always been a curious watcher of the stars, the vast unknown, the multiverse.

My recent experiences: my own perspective of time and “The Origin of Time” episode has led to the beginning of a personal shift.

In Part 2 of this topic, I will share what might be a new perspective for you.  But first, I would like to ask you:

What does time mean to you?

Chat soon,

Gigi ❤

Nature’s Bronzer: Discover Your Inner Naturalista!

Hello friends, happy Friday!!

I hope this post finds you well and in rhythm with your intentions and aspirations for today!

Yesterday morning I took my first exam for Biochemistry 2, and it well went!  I got a B!

B for Balanced.  B for Badass. 🙂

As a treat to myself, I promised myself that the rest of my day would be school work-free.  So, I headed straight to the gym for a sweaty lifting session.  Then, I attended to an item on my back-burner: DIY, all natural bronzer!  I recycled an old Bare Minerals bronzer sifter container!

Allow me to share, my new and improved bronzer with the following pronounceable, cruelty free, natural ingredients (free of endocrine disrupting chemicals):

Gigi’s naturalista Bronzer:

  • Unprocessed Dutch cocoa powder for the dark brown tones
  • Cinnamon for the lighter/medium brown tones
  • Nutmeg for the lighter tan tones
  • Powdered sugar (some use corn starch, but I have not tried corn starch) to lighten the blend

For the ingredients, organic products are ideal.  Still, any cinnamon is better than Maybelline’s controversial beauty cocktail!  Likewise, any cocoa powder (unprocessed or not) is better than the standard synthetic bronzer, sorry Loreal! #notsorry

Here are the quick and dirty DIY directions, TWO easy steps!

    1.  In a bowl (or you can pick whatever suits your fancy),  mix any combination of the ingredients according to your skin tone and how dark you would like to make your bronzer.  Note: Test on yourself!  Darken or lighten your blend as desired.
    2. Transfer onto bronzer sifter (or any small container with a lid).  Note:  If you use a small container, tap the brush on the edge to remove excess powder from the brush.                                                        

Smile to maximize use of your sun-kissed look, 🙂

that’s all folks, enjoy!

xo, Gigi 

use this

A Labor of Love

Happy Tuesday!  For my philosophy course, we were asked to reflect on what green exercise feels like to us.  Allow me to share my reflection. 🙂

To me, physical movement feels like my soul is dancing. Exercise is an art, an expression of physical form, endurance and capacity. Exercise preference is unique to everyone–I once heard that we all have a “soul mate exercise.” This was in response to the idea that many people do not enjoy exercise and view it as drudgery or torturous monotony. This idea resonated with me. Whether we are aware or not, we all have a “soul mate movement” that sings to our soul.

My soul mate movement involves green exercise such as running, indoor/outdoor cycling, swimming, as well as weight lifting, body weight workouts, Zumba dance workouts, the list goes on. In these liberating movements, I feel as though I am free as a bird. It is an evolutionary process where I discover new aspects of my body.

I discover new territories within my own imaginary limitations. Likewise, I become more aware of my perceived limitations. I consequently strive to crush the barriers I created in my own mind. My workouts motivate me to expand my potential, expand my vision. I develop new beliefs of self-competency.

In these reflective moments of sweat, my world becomes expanded, liberated. I feel at one with the universe when I am outdoors, running in the sun, feeling the breeze on my skin, feeling the sweat on my body, and drinking water with the most ancient elements of the universe, hydrogen and oxygen.

Through my green exercise movements, I cultivate further confidence, courage, faith, tenacity, focus, strength, empowerment. One step at a time, I cultivate the patience needed to respect and honor the steady, slow blossoming of my own personal evolution.

It is an intimate process of becoming, despite the setbacks, the challenges, the heartbreaks, the defeats.   My daily physical movements generate personal, determined diligence–a resolution to live with steadfast purpose and joy.

My movements are a labor of love, a life of my own design.

Thank you for taking the time to support my blog.  Wishing you a harmonious and pleasant day!

Cheers! ❤

xo, G

A life of design (not default): Celebrate your victories, live without limits

Happy Wednesday friends! 🙂

I hope you are having a fantastic day!  I sure am. Today will be a full day for me. I will be ending my day with an evening Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class at a local church.

This morning I needed a workout.  As a self-care practice, I consider exercise a personal necessity.  Honoring my self-care needs, I walked over to the residential gym. I had about 10 minutes of exercise time to work with. I decided to make it count and attempted to run my fastest half mile.  I am not in a running training program or signed up for an upcoming event. This was simply a motivational self-challenge to make the most of the little time, while tracking my own cardiovascular exercise progress.

I hit a new PR–I ran a half mile in 3:50 min at an 8 min/mile pace.  This small motivational endeavor ended up being an unprecedented personal record! This an exciting running victory for me, it reflects my overall improved state of health through daily movement and plant-based whole foods. Yay! 🙂

Historically, endurance has been my running strong suit.  I never considered speed as a strength.  I actually affirmed, many times, that speed is NOT my strength.  I closed that door of possibility long ago, without ever reassessing the validity of this affirmation.

Today I opened that door of possibility. 

This morning taught me about my unlocked running abilities, but it also taught me the importance of living without perceived limitations. I realized I have been believing self-created limitations about my running abilities.

Lesson learned: my perceived limitations and perspective define my moment-to-moment life experience. 

This experience raises the critical self-reflective question:

Do you choose to see “problems” as an obstacle or an opportunity for growth?  Are you aware of that choice when it occurs?  

Your thoughts create your reality, your mood, trigger physiological responses through flight or fight response, hormonal responses, perceived stress.  Thoughts create behaviors.  Behaviors fall into patterns.  Patterns dictate lifestyle.

This is a powerful realization: tools for personal success.

Today I invite you create thoughts that build you, strengthen you, instead of thoughts that break or self-destroy.  Live a life by YOUR design–Live life by YOUR definition of success. 

Conquer yourself

It’s never too late, and it’s never too early.  Now is the best place to be. I invite you to start with me, right here, right now.

Connect with me–experience your own personal evolution along your own crafted wellness journey! 🙂

To your greatest success,
xo, Gigi

Operation Wedding, OOH-RAH!

Happy Memorial Day!  Thank you to all our military men and women, you guys ROCK!  🙂

Big news–I am officially engaged and Operation Wedding has commenced!!!

My sweet Joshua traveled to Arizona and proposed in the middle of his trip!  He had been planning the proposal for a long time, and he had a stranger video the proposal.  It was the most incredible moment I have ever experienced and I am so lucky to be able to watch it again and again… 🙂

I met Joshua when I was 16, we have been in love for 10 wonderful years.  Our story is special and unique.  Our life journey together has been a bumpy, but incredibly rewarding ride.  We have grown closer together throughout the last 10 years.

We have experienced major life struggles and milestones that many married couples never experience.  Overcoming these challenges have made us wiser and stronger individuals, as well as a powerful, united life force.  Unstoppable and focused, especially when we are in harmonized union.

This photo was taken 5 years ago, at the 2010 Marine Corps Ball.  It has truly been an incredible and exciting journey.  The best is yet to come! 🙂

USMC Ball

I would like to thank you for your support to my blog.  I am so thankful for your presence and attention.  I am thrilled to share this special life event with you for it is an extra special milestone along my wellness journey!  Cheers to new beginnings!!

gigi and josh

Today, I invite you to say YES to life.  Life does not happen by suppression, the life force is not meant to be suppressed.  All barriers to health (toxic lifestyle choices, addictions, sedentary living, unhealthy habits, etc) suppress the life force.  Suppressing the life force makes us shrink.   When we remove the barriers to health, our bodies heal naturally.  What a beautiful process.

I invite you to explore your passions, your greater purpose, your calling, your inner life force—allow it to expand you, TRANSFORM you.

Join my wellness movement!  Walk with me, learn with me, evolve with me. 

You can reach me by leaving a comment below or you can send me a private email by accessing my “About Me” page at https://about.me/gigi.naser and clicking on the top left tab, marked “Email Me.”  You can also connect with my other social media pages by clicking the various social media icons on the right sidebar of my blog.

As always, I wish you a harmonious day and a fulfilled life.

xo, Gigi

“We are the warriors of light.   With the force of our love and our will, we can change our own destiny and that of many other people.” ~Paul Coelho

The Journey Within – Fruition to Health

Hello, and happy Wednesday!

I would like to give you a big thank you for taking the time to read my blog!  One of the most valuable things you can give someone is your attention and time.

In a world filled with distractions, undivided attention has become even more valuable.  So, THANK YOU!  I truly appreciate your attention and support to my blog.  Thank you for sharing your valuable time with me. 🙂

Today I am sharing another academic reflective writing assignment, perhaps my favorite writing thus far.  We were instructed to answer and reflect the simple question:

How healthy am I?

The Journey Within – Fruition to Health

As I reflect on my state of health, I recognize that my health is multidimensional; Progress is not linear. In the last decade, I have slowly achieved a greater sense of wellness and clarity. My goals have and continue to evolve on a daily basis. Today, I perceive myself to be in good health. Yet, my state of health was vastly different during the majority of my teenage years and late 20s. Allow me to share…

Life is the greatest journey; I feel blessed to be able to experience it every single day. I currently perceive my wellness goals as simple checkpoints along this epic journey of life. These wellness goals, or checkpoints, swiftly adapt to the evolving “road of life”—which can be bumpy and turbulent.

I celebrate milestones; I am in love with the rewarding journey of personal growth–the process of self-cultivation, becoming a physician, a better Gigi.

In this new season of my life, I celebrate the milestones of becoming a physician. It is all too common for medical students to become so focused on passing board exams, graduating, and moving onto life as a practicing physician. I feel that this perspective sucks the beauty out of such a unique journey.

The road to becoming a physician is a tough road, not for the faint of heart (literally). For me, the journey of becoming a physician is a road to be honored and cherished.

Many people never come close to experiencing such a special process. That alone, makes the journey that much more exciting. Becoming a physician is not a process common to all in the world. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Once medical degrees are conferred, the medical school experience and journey will be gone forever. Consequently, a new season of clinical practice will be on the horizon.

I believe the journey to medical school should be embraced, relished, absorbed to every possible capacity. This unique process harvests much personal, academic, and professional growth, challenge, strength. I also believe this applies to the journey of life.

For years, I struggled with the Destination Happiness mindset. The Destination Happiness mentality locks people into a mental focus of seeking happiness from the outside world through acquisition, which prevents them from being blissful with the current moment.

We often forget that happiness is achievable right here, right now. This concept is not encouraged by advertising in our American culture. There is always some hot technology gadget or beauty product that you must have. And when you obtain it, you will be happier, better, prettier, smarter for it.

It is a dangerously toxic cocktail that can leave people feeling inadequate, looking for happiness in all the wrong places. It can cause a lot of financial debt, and perpetuate various addictions and disease.

This warped concept causes a huge lack of fulfillment. Yet, it is simpler than we make it out to be—joyful fulfillment can be harvest immediately from our mind.

If you find yourself locked in the Destination Happiness mindset, I challenge you to look within. You may surprise yourself by what you discover.

For many years, I mentally tortured myself with the disordered cognition that, a certain number on the scale, my weight, or body size would provide me an abundance of happiness and mental peace. I was a slave to the scale; I adopted severely detrimental practices to my body, mind, and spirit.

The worst part was that when that certain number was achieved, my mind automatically recalibrated to a lower number, yet another Destination Happiness.

At the time, I thought I was in the pursuit of happiness and peace, yet I was trapped in an isolated prison I created for myself. I locked myself inside a dark prison cell, but instead of throwing away the key, I swallowed it. The key was in my control, inside of me, but impossible to obtain in order to open the prison door so that I could experience true freedom.

Today, I do not get caught up on “Destination Happiness.” With the help of God and years of past work with professionals, I enjoy a true life of freedom. I actively work on my wellness goals, embracing the milestones.

My self-care practices have become a non-negotiable piece of my life. I focus on my energy on the positive thoughts, beliefs, people, and behaviors. Intention is not a passive process. It requires commitment and dedication.

Intention (positively or negatively) affects our consciousness, which harvests our reality–our experience of life.

I strive to live a life that does not remove or put excessive strain on my self-care practices. When my self-care practices become compromised, I reevaluate my environment and modify in a way that best suits my health. The conscious process of (mentally, emotionally, physically) stopping, checking, and reassessing the stressors in my life, has become a critical skill that I continue to develop. It is important to note that this important self-care practice did not come to fruition overnight. There was no “ah-ha!” moment for me, just a lot of baby steps, along filled with trial and error.

The process of writing about my healing is cathartic and therapeutic. This writing allows me to consciously reflect and process the physical, mental, emotional, physical damage.

For me, my blog writing nurtures the delicate healing process. The most challenging aspect of healing has been: letting go, forgiving others, and forgiving myself. Every day, God gives me another chance to be a better individual than the prior day. For that, I am grateful and happy.

At times, I mentally stop and think—who was I? Who am I now? Who will I be? My past, present and future self are uniquely different, in a positive way. This hindsight and foresight reflection is encouraging and uplifting.

I perceive my old self to be a foreign entity, not the Gigi I project to the mirror every morning. Yet, this foreign entity molded me into the resilient individual I am today. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my story.

My story, once frightening to openly discuss, is now very liberating—it symbolically exemplifies the amazing freedom I experience on a daily basis. My testimony allows me to be real with others. My testimony has harvested some very meaningful and special connections with individuals throughout the country. It has enriched my experience of life.

My motto is “nourish to flourish”—nourish the mind, body, and spirit. This evolving mind shift change has been so gradual, filled with gentle, doable baby steps. (Realistic, doable baby steps have been prevailing theme in my blog writings. I cannot emphasize on this concept enough.) Yet, the change is radically different when comparing opposite ends of the spectrum.

I am able to look behind me and realize: I approached a miniature molehill at the start of my wellness journey, yet I now stand on a magnificent mountain.

Today, I believe I am well. I identify as a healthy person, with a nourished mind, body, spirit.

Of course, there is much room for improvement in all areas of my life. That’s the beauty of being a flawed human.

Every sunrise gives me the opportunity to be a better, kinder, stronger, wiser individual than the prior day. Day by day, I continue to create evolving and diverse wellness goals, as I create my colorful future on a blank slate. I am truly enjoying the beautiful process of molding into a physician—every sweet minute of it.

I hope this thought plants a seed for you. May this thought cultivate and harvest a joyful life for you:

Don’t live your life in your circumstances. Live life in your vision.

As always, wishing you a life of abundance and vitality. Cheers! ❤

xo, G

ps. I teach my first cycle class at the YMCA tonight–so pumped!
Keep moving, keep smiling. 🙂

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A grand adventure has begun, an epic journey…

Hello again, and happy Tuesday! I am happy to share a reflective writing piece, originally written for academic purposes.  I was prompted to write regarding what being a naturopathic physician means to me, and why I chose naturopathic medicine.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Life the life you’ve imagined.” -Emerson

For me, a naturopathic physician is a healer and community servant that integrates the art of healing and the science of medicine for the betterment of humanity. A naturopathic physician wears many hats, unique to the naturopathic profession.

They are teachers to their patients and the community at large. Education and compassion is the foundation for their practice. Their compassion allows them to be an emotional support for patients who are grieving or experiencing effects of trauma. Healing comes from within, and naturopathic physicians assist to stimulate this beautiful process.

Naturopathic physicians heal and educate to eliminate disease and pathologies. They take it a step further and educate health promotion and facilitate holistic healing and help stimulate our bodies’ abilities to thrive.

Naturopathic physicians help patients and the community understand that we must nourish to flourish. They facilitate the essential process to create new and improved health practices and lifestyle modifications—this includes support, education, treatment plans, resources and encouragement.

I perceive naturopathic physicians as inspiring pioneers that go against the grain of the conventional medical model. A determined and resilient perspective allows them to honor values and naturopathic principles, despite outside criticism or close-minded views.

As an individual who has survived an acute bacterial meningitis hospitalization crisis, I fully understand the delicate value of life and its finite time. Time and time again, my body has shown me firsthand, its ability to heal, if barriers to health are removed.

In this past two years, I have embarked on a holistic healing journey. My journey was without the assistance of a naturopathic physician. However, I fully incorporated naturopathic principles and philosophies. Interestingly, at the beginning of my wellness journey, I was not aware of naturopathic principles. I realized I had reached a state of disease, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. I told myself that I would no longer search for quick fixes or band-aids. I realized that I was long overdue for this healing, and I mentally prepared myself for the long journey ahead.

I started to truly understand that my state of health did not occur overnight, and that it would certainly not go away overnight. I adopted a gentle and forgiving mindset for myself, which made all the difference. I am still in the process of healing, forgiving myself, and others. I believe this will be a life journey for me. Instead of focusing on destinations for joy, I celebrate special milestones, my small personal victories.

In a way, I feel like I wandered into naturopathic medicine without realizing it. As a New Jersey native, naturopathic medicine was not commonly discussed. I attended Rutgers University and worked in a nearby hospital. I had a fairly wide range of medical exposure, yet did not know anything about naturopathic medicine.

I ultimately abandoned my pursuit for naturopathic medical school, when the incredibly high standards (coupled with my struggle for perfectionism), my life degraded into a state of very poor health. I was mentally, emotionally, physically drained. I gained a great deal of weight and experienced  extra self-imposed stress.

With the way things were going, I felt like I would become a medical student and a physician who would be in poor health. How could I say I understood health and become an icon of health, when I couldn’t even incorporate it into my own life? It seemed like I would be an imposter and very hypocritical. So, I abandoned my dream for medical school, feeling that the medicine I dreamed of, did not exist.

Consequently, I began to focus on within and heal myself so I could harvest my true purpose and passion. As a result, I began to live and practice naturopathic principles (without evening knowing it!)—it was so natural to do, once I rewired my mind.

Then one day, I watched Food Matters in July 2014; I watched an ND talk about all the values I believed in. Eyes wide, I pulled out my laptop and started to quickly research into this medicine. I found the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and the rest is sweet history.

My first phone conversations with Dr. Laura Mittman and Jen from admissions confirmed the chemistry I felt towards the school dynamics. Since then, SCNM has become my home away from home. How beautiful that my dream ultimately came to fruition. It feels surreal, as I now sit in a medical school library to reflect on such a beautiful process. I am on my way to becoming the physician of my dreams!

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your own intuition.  What you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover is yourself” -Alan Alda

In good health, Gigi 😊

Changing in Arizona, Inspired by North Carolina

Hello all, and happy Easter!

Today was a quiet, but peaceful and joyous celebration of Jesus’ victory at the cross.  Yesterday marked one month of living in Arizona.  All is well today, but my relocation started off bumpy, to put it mildly!

Speedy update: Two weeks after my relocation, I experienced an unexpected health crisis, which was a direct result of a “preventative” pesticide spray (which I did not agree with from the beginning!).  I was hospitalized twice and experienced great distress to my state of health.

Now more than ever, I detest pesticides, whether sprayed in the house or sprayed on our produce.  Pesti-“cides” are designed to KILL.  These toxic carcinogens do not belong in our body or in our homes.  It is hard to conceptualize that the idea of organic living is controversial.

Under the supervision of a naturopathic physician who specializes in environmental medicine, I am undergoing a thorough detoxification regimen via diverse modalities.  I have been made aware that now, more than ever, organic food is a conscious choice, but also now a necessity for me.

Through this unexpected crisis, I learned so much about myself.

  • I experienced firsthand, the body’s powerful ability to rapidly self-heal, if given the proper conditions. In my case, I had to completely relocate from the pesticides that had permeated my apartment.  I had medical orders from both allopathic and naturopathic physicians to not return to that residence.  Lucky for me, my incredible mate, Joshua, chose to travel across the country during this crisis to be a strong source of support and facilitate the transition out of the contaminated apartment. My body has rapidly healed, and I am back on track for my first coming quarter at my naturopathic medical school.
  • This health crisis has peaked a profound interest in environmental medicine.  A passion has birthed in me. 

Perhaps that was not a speedy update (sorry I tried), but hey, it’s been a month!

Moving onto the main purpose of this blog: the idea that I am living in Arizona, yet heavily influenced by inspiring individuals in North Carolina, on a daily basis.

Tonight, I have been soaking henna plant in my hair, as a natural, plant hair dye: free of chemicals, PPD, metallic salts, ammonia, pesticides, peroxides, preservatives AND cruelty free. Yes!

As the henna naturally dyes my hair,  I reviewed medical terminology and practiced my knowledge and memory retention.  I did this while I listened to the “On Air With Ella” podcast.  Ella, or Elizabeth, is a highly influential person that I am very grateful to know.  I first met Elizabeth when I was working out at the YMCA in North Carolina.  I noticed Elizabeth by her dynamic workouts that kept catching my eye.  Her body was strong and she radiated vibrant health and wellness. So, I approached her curious to learn more about her workout regimen and lifestyle practices.

Long story short, Ella planted seeds of insight about food.  Yet, she made it sound ridiculously simple; I started to realize I was over-complicating nutrition, much more than I realized.

At the end of our conversation, Ella left me with one statement–if you clean up your diet and simply eat REAL food, your body will change, simply by that.  And likewise, the body would self-heal and function with vitality.  She noted at the end, “And if you hear or do nothing else, stop eating fake butter!”  She recommended the grass-fed butter at Trader Joe’s.  It was a powerful first interaction that really stuck with me, to this very day.  I stayed in touch with Ella via email and social media.  I am forever grateful for her seeds, for now I have a garden. 🙂

At this point, I did not know about naturopathic medicine.  In hindsight, this planted seed was very significant.  I came to gradually change, slowly but surely.  Walking at times, sometimes crawling, and other times running with positive change.

Ultimately, this seed blossomed through my holistic wellness journey and my epiphany “ah-ha!” moment took place while watching the “Food Matters” documentary.  Now, I am in naturopathic medical school!

I continue to grow and learn with Ella’s powerful podcast.  Her shows are all filled with unique purpose, but one of my favorite shows was with Food Babe, a publicly outspoken food investigator, a fellow North Carolinian.

The link to the show with Food Babe: http://onairwithella.com/podcast-012-vani-hari/

Vani Hari, aka Food Babe, has triggered a consumer movement that is revolutionizing the way people eat, think, and live.  In just three years, Food Babe’s work has forced dozens of companies, from Kraft to Chipotle to Starbucks and Subway to eliminate controversial and toxic ingredients from their products.

McDonald’s announced in the beginning of March 2015 that over the next two years, they will phase out antibiotic-fed chicken and offering antibiotic-free chicken.  As a popular global food restaurant, this vital decision has been called a game-changer.  This decision did not happen by chance or coincidence; it was driven by consumer demand.

Now, other restaurants like KFC are in the hot seat and feeling the pressure to make changes to their antibiotic-fed chicken.  Food Babe has helped me learn to be my own food investigator, activist and nutritionist.  She is single-handedly changing lives every single day.  Kudos, Food Babe!

So tonight, I was reading her book “The Food Babe Way” when I read an excerpt that stopped my reading and redirected me to my blog.  I thought to myself–blog time, long overdue!

Food Babe wrote about her confrontation with apathetic Kraft employees with a powerful question, “Why did you reformulate mac and cheese without artificial dyes overseas, but not here in the United States?”  Artificial dyes are still allowed in Europe—but you reformulated them there. Why?”

She received an apathetic tone with no true response from the Kraft representatives.

Food Babe explains that in Europe, Kraft has removed artificial dyes and replaced them with natural ingredients like paprika and beta-carotene.  She goes on to write,

These mega-corporations have chosen to be the primary vendors of foods that are supposed to fortify families across the country, if not the globe, yet they stuff them full of chemicals not for any nutritional benefit but rather to broaden their reach and fatten their bottom lines.

These companies, and many others, need to be on fire and in the hot seat.  And it’s happening. McDonald’s uses a chemical in their fast food french fries, that is also used in silly putty.  Packaged cheese utilizes cellulose, which derives from wood pulp.

I don’t know about you, but I am don’t want to eat anything is composed of wood pulp or shares a formulation ingredient with Silly Putty.  And if that labels me as a hippie or liberal, then so be it.

To date, there are about 10,000 chemically-based preservatives created by companies–chemicals that our bodies were not designed to digest or effectively metabolize.

Combine this with chronically high levels of stress, sleep deprivation, unhealthy lifestyle practices, and a sedentary lifestyle, and the product is a massive epidemic of completely preventable diseases. 

Back to those 10,000 chemicals, there are banned pesticides and chemicals that are banned or highly regulated in other countries, yet still legally permitted by United States government.

Such banned substances include:

  • Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is used in all cereals, bagged chips, and many other processed food-like products.
  • rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) is injected in cows, a total endocrine disruptor.
  • Food dyes (such as red #40, red #3, yellow #5, yellow #6, blue #1, blue #2, green #3) are all associated with hyperactivity in children.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Chlorinated chicken, meaning the chickens have been washed in chlorine.

May I add, that all of these chemicals and practices (such as washing chicken in chlorine) have detrimental  health outcomes.  In other words, they are all banned for valid reasons.

Food industry practices have all changed for the worse, driven by the bottom-line. We are entitled to take our power and our health back. We have rights as consumers to know if our foods have GMOs through labeling.

Simply put, these profit-driven practices are unhealthy, unethical and gives more power into the sister, corrupted pharmaceutical companies that sell a pill for every ill. The same ills that we get from our food-like products and sedentary, indoor lifestyle.  Now, more than ever, our country desperately needs naturopathic medicine.  The tides are turning.

Speaking of naturopathic medicine, another favorite podcast from On Air With Ella, is her show with Dr. Jillian Teta, a naturopathic physician practicing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Dr. Teta gives an powerful perspective on gut health and ways to achieve true gut health, encompassing a broad perspective.  Our digestive tract is aligned closely with our immune system and overall health.  When the body is not functioning well, the digestive tract is usually affected.  Dr. Teta also discusses that the gluten today is not the same gluten our grandparents ate, and there are detrimental health outcomes in our digestive tract, with this evolved more dense gluten.

Link to the show to hear more: http://onairwithella.com/007-dr-jillian-teta-talks-guts-and-glory/

I am inspired by these powerful messages and influential individuals, all in North Carolina, the state where I, slowly but surely, embarked on my own wellness journey and discovered naturopathic medicine.  For that reason, North Carolina always has an extra special place in my heart (and also for my sweet family!).

It is exciting that as I am now here in Arizona, I am still heavily influenced by such inspiring health advocates in North Carolina.  I have heard so many great things about Asheville, its natural beauty and organic culture.  There is definitely unfinished business for me in North Carolina.

Tonight, I learned further seeds of knowledge for my wellness, growth and future practice.  From a macro-perspective, I envisioned my passions, laced with compassion, coming to fruition.

It is exciting to think of all the people I have yet to meet, but will encounter and help. Many faces to meet, names to learn–communities I have yet to experience.  There is so much on the horizon, open with possibility and opportunities waiting to unfold.  Who knows what is to come in the future… When nothing is sure, everything is possible. And there’s so much beauty and peace in that thought.

Time to rinse this earthy goodness out of my hair, y’all.

Wishing you an abundance of vitality and joy! 🙂

xo, Gigi

Eleutheromania: An Intense & Irresistable Desire For Freedom

Hello all!

Happy soon-to-be snow day, NC!  It may be my last snow day for a long time.  Good riddance, ice cold temperatures!  I am super excited to experience 80 degree sunshine.  I can’t wait to feel the daily sunshine and warmth.  I miss summer weather so much; I can’t wait to experience warmer weather year-round.  Yes, bring on the Arizona summers!

During my packing and organizing for my big move next week, I found another poem, written shortly after I started my journey with my treatment team, spring of 2008. It is has been such a long time since I browsed through my recovery journals. My mindset was so different, I have changed in many ways.  It is motivating to reflect on this personal evolution and positive growth.  Moving onward and upward…

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” -Brene Brown

Freedom

freedom is living fully
breathing deeply
stepping into the unknownn
freedom is the unplanned,
not the planner
freedom is not fat-free
it is joy, happiness, abundance
freedom is self-love
freedom embraces today
it conquers fear
freedom has no boundaries,
no limits,
no expectations
freedom is red, white, and blue
freedom soars high and proud
freedom is open to change,
an open book, an open mind
it is pure love
freedom gets up and goes,
whenever, wherever
freedom is not knowing the time
freedom twinkles in the stars,
it is courage and persistence
freedom promises life for me,

my chains

are gone.

We were made to thrive

Happy Wednesday!  Today has been a beautiful day full of sunny blue skies.  This pleasant blend of aesthetic sensory sparked a desire to write about my passion for wellness.  I am having so much fun with my blog. Here I go!

The latin root of the word “doctor” is “docēre” which means “to teach.”

Teaching is a critical component missing from our healthcare model.  A vast majority of allopathic physicians are not trained in nutrition.  Instead, allopathic medical schools place a heavy emphasis on pharmacology.

This pharmaceutical approach does not offer a true cure to origin of illness.  Instead, pharmaceutical drugs suppress symptoms; it is essentially a crappy band-aid.  Everything is fixed or “cured” with a pill.

A pill for each ill, and even a pill for side effects from another pill.  Pills upon pills–there is a pill for everything: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, sleep, energy, depression, anxiety, and many more health issues.  Likewise, medical practices financially prosper by maintaining sickness and high ticket procedures such as artery bypass surgeries.

What if our doctors taught us how to live well, so we wouldn’t be dependent on drugs or other expensive therapies?  What if our healthcare system was about the enhancement of our health and the bolstering of our systems, so we could actually THRIVE in this world?  What if we lived with vitality and a greater zest for life and embrace all aspects of what it means to be human?

The average American sits 9.3 hours a day and sleeps 7.3 hours per day–that’s a lot of not moving!  Movement is life and life is movement.  Likewise, food is meant to be medicine and the most healing medicine is food.

Most Americans are addicted to caffeine and other stimulants.  It’s like we need to borrow energy from tomorrow to get through today.  How crazy is that?

On a basic level, many people are unable to live the life they want due to their lack of energy.  Our body has daily energy needs.  Where we get our energy and nutritional resources will determine our state of health.

If we extract optimal nutrition from our foods, get enough oxygen, exercise, rest and recover when we need to–then we have a properly functioning system that takes care of itself and helps stave off disease.

As a result, the body will work the way it was designed to–we will feel alive and robust, as we were designed to feel.  We can enjoy an optimized lifestyle through nurturing self-care practices and stress management skills.

Let us reconnect with ourselves and become our own advocates and take our health back in our own hands.  Rather than being reactive, let us be proactive.  That is true healthcare. Our bodies were meant for movement–move in a way that sings to your soul.

We were made to THRIVE.  May we live well, full of harmony and holistic energy.  May we always nourish to flourish.

The greatest wealth is health.

It’s Okay to be Brave and Scared at the Same Time

Happy Monday! Today is February 9th.  It’s almost three weeks before I relocate to Arizona, and despite medical school being my greatest life dream, I have felt an enormous amount of fear and worry.

Fear is self-constructed.  We can create it, and we can destroy it.  I also realize that worry is a total waste of time. It doesn’t change anything.  All it does is steal your joy and keeps you very busy doing nothing.  Yet, our own fear and worry can paralyze our decisions, and ultimately, our happiness.

As a born and raised Jersey girl living in the sweet south, I have experienced this type of fear and worry about leaving the New Jersey familiarity  and comfort.  In fact, my fear was so profound, that I almost completely backed out of the relocation.  I challenged my intense fears by bargaining with myself–I promised myself that if North Carolina was not for me, I could always go back home to New Jersey.

By challenging my fears and taking a leap of faith, I was able holistically transform, discover naturopathic medicine, and meet amazing and unforgettable individuals who have helped me grow and flourish.  These wonderful opportunities and experiences surpassed my expectations for what life would be like in North Carolina, a beautiful surprise, indeed.

Saying goodbye is incredibly hard, but asking myself “what if…?” is spiritual death.  Sometimes our only available transportation is a leap of faith.

Faith and fear oppose each other.  Fear is lacking in faith and vice versa.  Tolerating fear will contaminate my faith.  It’s okay to be brave and scared at the same time.  I firmly believe strength and faith can be summoned from fear.  Today, I choose to make my faith stronger than my fears.  I choose to chase my dreams, my goals, and my spiritual calling in naturopathic medicine. I choose to live in the light, flourish in every single moment, and seize every opportunity to smile and laugh.

How lucky am I to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard…

Supercharge Your Life: 5 Steps to Start Your Health Revolution

Happy Friday, friends!

I am officially a married woman!  It has been a special life season.  Recently, people have praised my personal transformation and have asked me how I lost weight. Essentially, I pursued healing the root cause of chronic health issues.  My weight loss was nothing more than a byproduct of my healing journey.

Humbled and appreciative by people’s kind words and inquisitive nature, I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to create a blog post for others who are seeking to transform their health status.

To preface my tips, I would like to note that my physical transformation happened organically and naturally, as the body heals itself, holistically.  Truth be told, I put more energy into transforming my mindset and belief systems.

I do not count calories or restrict food.  My diet consists of mainly fruits and vegetables.   I do not purchase food that is inflammatory in nature: bread, dairy, gluten, wheat.  If I eat any of those products, it is not derived from my kitchen or part of my daily diet.

I use physician-grade supplementation, therapeutic probiotics.  I rarely drink alcohol or coffee on a yearly basis.  I drink mainly water and fresh juices/smoothies.  I drink tea occasionally.  I sleep no less than 7 hours per night, my sleep is sacred.  I try my best to engage in activities that are spiritually and mentally fulfilling, this blog included.

Most importantly, I work with a naturopathic physician to guide my healing journey.  

I use the verb “work” because my health, healing, happiness is MY work, MY responsibility. 

That being said, I am going to share my top 5 tips to start your health revolution. Let’s go! 🙂

     1. COMMIT to yourself.

Truth be told, the hardest part is getting started.  For some people, this is a huge obstacle.  If committing to self-care is a huge barrier, address those issues.  Once you commit to your wellness and healing, the path will begin to form.   Figuring out the game plan and first steps are much easier when you are committed to your wellness journey.

     2. ADDRESS the root cause of your dis-ease.

Since the start of my program, I worked closely with various naturopathic physicians.   I have also worked with an amazing holistic nutritionist, Kirstin Carey.  

You can find more information on Kirstin and her healing programs here.  Through Kirstin, I learned that I am gluten-sensitive and dairy-sensitive, among other important key details about my health.  It has been a collaborative journey of ups and downs, with trials and errors, and some tears along the way.

You can find a naturopathic physician in your area by visiting the American Association of Naturopathic Physician’s site here.

If you are in the American Southwest region, you can begin your health journey at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine by clicking here.

    3.  TRUST yourself, you have all the answers! 

Once I started naturopathic medical school, I pursued a curriculum option that would allow me to take extra time to graduate, by 1 year.  I intuitively chose this option with some intention setting.  I have since been able to pour into my cup and pursue my professional aspirations.  I firmly believe that my health is the most important facet of my academic and life success.

How can I perform well in school if my health is not well?  More importantly, if I don’t walk the walk, how can I teach others to become well and take care of themselves?  How can I teach others to take care of themselves, if I don’t live by the same philosophies?

Choosing a longer curriculum was a no-brainer for me.  At the end of the day, I listened to my intuitive heart.  I regret nothing.  In fact, I am deeply grateful that I had the opportunity to boost my health.

All in all, TRUST yourself.  Listen to your intuition and tune out the noise of others’ opinions.   This is YOUR journey, YOUR life.

   4. BARGAIN with yourself: visualize the shades of gray.   

Change is NOT black and white! When trying something that is new, I tell myself, that if I don’t enjoy it or like it, I don’t have to keep it as a permanent part of my life.

With this flexible and experimental mindset, I tried Party on a Bike at a local spin studio called The Madison.  As a result, I have been hooked on the workouts and I have introduced this amazing workout to dozens of people.  I have tried Crossfit, Zumba, and various other exercises and group exercise classes.  I am always open to try a new workout. 🙂

What better way to discover what works, by sampling all the wonderful ways you can move your body?

Food is medicine; I have experimented with different nutritional philosophies, including vegan, paleo, raw vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, eating for my blood type, etc.  I am learning more and more along the way.

Telling myself “it doesn’t hurt to try” has allowed me to venture outside of my comfort zone.  Thus far, I have been more pleasantly surprised and I have met amazing people along the way!

    5. HAVE FUN!

Step #4 transitions nicely into my last tip – have fun! This may sound overly obvious, but I think the mark is missed, especially for the New Year’s Resolutioners.

Side note: I love New Year’s resolutions; I see New Year’s resolutions as intention setting for the year.  More than focusing on behaviors, I focus on mindsets I want to adopt to my life or things that no longer serve me.  So far, so good!

Engaging in anything that is not fun or genuinely enjoyed (food, exercise, other lifestyle modifications) is NOT a sustainable practice.

Lifestyle changes can become permanent and intuitive when the modifications are FUN and ENJOYABLE, whatever that means for you!  🙂

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.  Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”

What’s holding you back?  Let’s walk together. Start your health revolution!  

Sneak peek into my fridge… 

IMG_2881.JPG

wellness revolution

To your wellness,

Gigi ❤

 

 

La Vida Es Un Carnival

Hi sweet friends,
When I was driving today, I heard a special song, “La Vida Es Un Carnival” by the legendary Celia Cruz. The song title translates: life is a carnival.  The lyrics are so beautiful and empowering. In the midst of so many tragedies, life can begin to feel heavy…
Life is precious, beautiful, and fragile. May life be a carnival that can be celebrated in the midst of tragedy.
Celia Cruz ended this song on such a powerful note. I am sharing these lyrics in hopes to uplift others. Enjoy!
With love,
G ❤

“La Vida Es Un Carnival” 

Translated Lyrics:
All those who think life is rough,
Have to know it’s not like that,
That life is a beauty, but you must live it.
Anyone thinking they’re alone and that life is bad
Needs to know that’s not the case,
that in life no one is alone, there is always someone
Ay, you don’t have to cry, because life is a carnival,
It’s more beautiful to live singing.
Oh, Ay, you don’t have to cry,
For life is a carnival
And your pains go away by singing.
Anyone thinking that life is cruel,
Needs to know that’s not the case,
That there are just bad times, and it will pass.
Anyone thinking that things will never change,
Needs to know that’s not the case,
smile to the hard times, and they will pass.
Ay, you don’t have to cry, because life is a carnival,
It’s more beautiful to live singing.
Oh, Ay, you don’t have to cry
For life is a carnival
And your pains go away by singing.
For those who only complain.  Go away!
For those that only criticize. Go away!
For those that use weapons. Go away!
For those who contaminate the world. Go away!
For those who create wars. Go away!
For those that live in sin. Go away!
For those that mistreat us. Go away!
For those who contaminate us. Go away!
En Español: 
Cuando yo estaba conduciendo hoy, oí una canción especial. La letra es tan hermoso y poderoso. En medio de tantas tragedias, la vida puede comenzar a sentirse pesado…
La vida es preciosa, hermosa y frágil. La vida puede ser un carnaval que puede ser celebrado en medio de la tragedia. 
Celia Cruz terminó la canción con una nota tan poderosa.  Estoy compartiendo estas letras con la esperanza de elevar a los demás. Disfruta!
Con amor,
G ❤ xo

“La Vida Es Un Carnival”

Todo aquel que piense
que la vida es desigual
tiene que saber que no es así
que la vida es una hermosura
hay que vivirla
Todo aquel que piense
que está solo y que está mal
tiene que saber que no es así
que en la vida no hay nadie solo
y siempre hay alguien
Ay, no hay que llorar,
que la vida es un carnaval
y es más bello vivir cantando, oh, oh, oh,
Ay, no hay que llorar
que la vida es un carnaval
y las penas se van cantando
Ay, no hay que llorar,
que la vida es un carnaval
y es más bello vivir cantando, oh, oh, oh
Ay, no hay que llorar
que la vida es un carnaval
y las penas se van cantando
Todo aquel que piense
que la vida siempre es cruel
tiene que saber que no es así
que tan solo hay momentos malos
y todo pasa
Todo aquel que piense
que esto nunca va a cambiar
tiene que saber que no es así
que al mal tiempo, buena cara
y todo cambia
Ay, no hay que llorar,
que la vida es un carnaval
y es más bello vivir cantando, oh, oh, oh
Ay, no hay que llorar
que la vida es un carnaval
y las penas se van cantando
Ay, no hay que llorar,
que la vida es un carnaval
y es más bello vivir cantando, oh, oh, oh
Ay, no hay que llorar
que la vida es un carnaval
y las penas se van cantando
Para aquellos que se quejan tanto
para aquellos que sólo critican
para aquellos que usan las armas
para aquellos que nos contaminan
para aquellos que hacen la guerra
para aquellos que viven pecando
para aquellos que nos maltratan
para aquellos que nos contagian
Thank you for your love and support!  Gracias por su amor y apoyo! 🙂
In wellness,
❤ G

Life is But A Breath

Happy Thursday, friends!

I hope this message finds you in good health.  Recently, my good friend’s mother passed away abruptly due to complications in an emergency surgery. At her funeral, this was played as her life-song.

Life is but a breath.
Life is fragile.
Time waits for no one, yet it is the greatest illusion.
Time is something we balance, calculate, budget, and overestimate.
May we cherish every moment.
May we choose happiness over sadness.
May we choose to thrive, rather than survive.
May we move our bodies.
May we conquer our mountains.
May we nourish our bodies with Mother Earth’s abundance.

 

In honor of my dear friend’s mother’s passing, I share this beautiful song and lyrics… Please say a prayer for my friend and her family during this healing season.

Lauren Daigle – Trust In You

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!

Choose health.  Choose life.  Choose today.

Thank you for supporting my blog.  This is a gift to me.

To your healing,

Gigi ❤

Fiancé Friendship

Happy Saturday, beautiful friends!

I would like to devote this writing space to my special fiancé and best friend of 11 years (and counting)!

Simply put – I love my fiancé! ❤

Together, we share a deep, profound love: the kind of love that stirs up every possible emotion, the kind of love that is electric, passionate, and beautiful. He and I have been through so much together.  Our journey continues onward, every single day.

  • We grow together.
  • We continue to let go of what does not serve our health and happiness.
    •  Things, people, places, belief systems, dynamics.  If it doesn’t serve us, we collectively let it go and move on to something that is aligned with our vision for our lives.
  • We encourage each other.
  • We inspire each other.
  • We strengthen each other.
  • We forgive each other.

He sacrifices amazing efforts to work a full time management position.  He also works a part time position in adaptive recreation, enhancing the quality of life for youth with disabilities. He  challenges himself in leadership roles that will serve his career aspirations, while providing much-needed financial stability during these lean medical school years.

FullSizeRender-1.jpgHe revived our beloved pup Lady when she entered anaphylactic shock at a remote lake from multiple bee stings. He had to acted quickly on his feet to revive her, as he administered life-saving compressions with one hand as he used his other hand to drive and use his phone to call for emergency care and operate his GPS.

With powerful prayer and emergency compressions, he was able to revive Lady from being limp, lifeless in his hands to her sitting upright on his lap.  By the time he arrived to the emergency hospital, she was sitting upright on his lap, with increased consciousness.  He’s literally a life-saver, a true hero! 

He drove as quickly as he could to the nearest emergency hospital, 25 minutes away. He maneuvered acting fast, with the odds against him.  I had to stay behind with a family member as we were with two kayaks, and we could not load one sedan with both kayaks.  When my fiancé dashed, I was frozen with fear and paralyzed with panic.

I was in complete awe of him. I was stunned by how he could act so quickly and courageously.  I was amazed by his ability to make brave decisions, with swift thinking and fast feet.

In the eleven years I’ve loved my fiancé, Lady’s life-threatening emergency was the first time that I saw him as a Marine, more than anything else.  I saw his Marine Combat training come to life, right before my eyes. He will always be an infantryman at heart, ready to act in emergency situations with quick clarity and rationality.  

I could see his well-trained Marine instincts, it continues to run through his veins.  

He is my hero, my why, my best friend, my soulmate. He encouraged to me create my own blog, amplify my voice, and shine my message to the world. I am forever grateful for his everlasting love and genuine friendship.

Once a Marine, always a Marine.  I salute you, Marine! OOH-RAH! 

Semper fidelis,

A proud fiancé

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Evolving Perceptions: Victory for Veterans

Happy Monday, friends!

Last week, I officially completed my first year of medical school.  It’s crazy how time flies!

I have learned special lessons from my first year of medical school.  In the past year, I have cultivated my passions and my WHY — increasing naturopathic medicine access to veterans.  My WHY has led me an unforgettable journey to meet Senator McCain, Cindy McCain, incredible physicians, injured veterans, homeless veterans, chronically disabled veterans, veterans advocacy leaders, and more.  I have had the special opportunity to receive mentorship from admired physicians within the VA and within my medical school.

Town Hall Meeting with Senator John McCain

I was personally invited to Senator McCain’s town hall meeting today.  It was an extraordinary and unforgettable experience.  Senator McCain shared his short term plans and long term plans for VA reforms, as well as his frustrations associated with VA healthcare policy.

His full-time constituent advocate staff members were on-site to assist veterans encountering problems receiving care from the VA.

Senator McCain highlighted a key point: Despite the staffing issues within the VA healthcare system, we must not forget the dedicated staff who do their best to support veterans.

Beyond problems with staff and best practices, Senator McCain noted the need for improved policy and implementation on an organizational and leadership level.

After sharing his plan, Senator McCain opened the floor for veteran feedback.  He spoke directly with Arizona veterans to hear their views and concerns. It was uplifting to see Senator McCain’s genuine efforts to support local veterans and their specific needs.   

Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Treating Veterans with Chronic Pain

When given the opportunity, I asked about the Dear Colleague Letter  initiative between AMVETS and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians to reduce opioid dependency.  Naturopathic medicine found its way into the conversation!   In the audience, a veteran, also a former healthcare professional, verbalized his support for inclusion of naturopathic medicine in the VA.

Many others chimed in, and after the town hall meeting, I was flooded by a dozen veterans who expressed support to my message and efforts.

My Why

During the town hall, I heard stories that brought tears to my eyes.  A daughter expressed the pain with seeing her father struggle in the VA healthcare system, and ultimately die waiting for care.  She said her father’s wheelchair arrived, 2 months after his death.  With courage, she expressed how her father was so excited about the wheelchair. Yet, he never had the chance to experience the wheelchair before his death.  Hearing stories from the brave veterans and caregivers was an unforgettable experience…

AANP & AMVETS Legislative Progress

Now, more than ever, our beloved veterans deserve quality medical attention and administrative support.  I will be traveling to Washington, DC this upcoming May for the annual American Association of Naturopathic Physicians DC-Federal Legislative Initiative conference.  The AANP is achieving unprecedented legislative progress to incorporate naturopathic physicians in the VA healthcare system!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this key conversation; I am humbled by the veterans’ love and support.

When saying goodbye to Senator McCain, he gave me a big hug and asked me to thank my fiancé for his service.  This meant the world to me, as my fiancé’s journey inspired my mission and vision.

I appreciate your efforts to support my blog.  Thank you for your time.  Thank you for walking with me.

Little by little, one travels far… 🇺🇸

Onward,

~G

PS. On my way home, I passed a thin man wearing a ripped Marine Corps t-shirt.  He stood with a cardboard sign that said “Homeless veteran.  Anything helps.  God bless you.”  I pulled over and I found out that he had never heard of the VA Community Resource and Referral Center, an agency devoted to homeless veterans.  I left a detailed message for the CRRC.  I also called the Homeless Veteran Hotline and found out that he could dial 211 to get connected to local services.  He did not want to leave the street corner without his wife.   My fiancé met him and I on the corner and dropped off a bag of produce and a reusable water bottle filled with cold water. He was so grateful and smiled when we parted.

Please say a prayer tonight for our struggling veterans.

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FullyRaw Inspired Vegan Cupcakes

Happy Friday friends!

I recently met up with my sweet friend Sulinya, who had just arrived home from an epic adventure in Asia.  Sulinya is a seasoned raw chef; I am so inspired by her journey.

My sweet friend Sulinya and I made our own version of FullyRaw Kristina’s Rainbow Unicorn Cupcakes – SO MUCH YUM!

Our cupcake collaboration was an amazing turning point in my wellness journey!! It was my very first time creating a raw vegan treat — definitely more to come!  We created decadent vegan cupcakes – gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, yeast-free, wheat-free.  Our cupcakes were a delicious treat – budget friendly & nourishing to the body!

FullyRaw Inspired Vegan Cupcake, Sulinya & Gigi style:

Cupcake base:

  • Pre-soaked walnuts
  • Pre-soaked almonds
    • Kristina used almond flour, we processed the almonds in my Vitamix*
  • Raisins
    • Kristina used mulberries. Raisins are comparable and less expensive*
  • Seven Turkish figs
  • Five pitted dates
  • 1 capful of Trader Joe’s Alcohol Free Vanilla Extract
  • Dash of Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Water to adjust texture

Cupcake icing:

  • Pre-soaked cashews
  • 1 Ripe banana
  • Two dates
  • One Turkish figs
  • Blue Majik
    • As written on E3Live’s website: “Blue Majik is a proprietary, certified organic, and chemical free extract of Arthrospira platensis (Spiralina), a Nutrient Dense AquaBotanicalTM. Its stunning blue pigment contains both phycocyanin (PC) and non-PC compounds. This unique combination is not seen in standard Spirulina powder. PC is clinically shown to relieve physical discomfort, which means consumers feel better, can do more activity, and enjoy an overall better quality of life.”

Directions: 

  • Blend all ingredients from base*
  • Blend all ingredients from icing*
    • You can use a food processor or high speed blender, like a Vitamix*
  • Use a cupcake tray and fill with non bleached cupcake liners
  • Fill cupcake liner with base, pat down and mold as desired
  • Top with cupcake icing
    • DIY piping bag can be created by inserting icing in a ziplock bag and pocking a small hole in the corner. We didn’t do this, so our icing looked less artsy. 🙂
  • Enjoy!

Vegan Cupcapes

Note:

  • All ingredients were organic 
  • All ingredients were gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, and egg-free
  • To keep things simple, we created one blue cupcake swirl topping

Sulinya, thank you for sharing your tips & trick!  Special thanks to my amazing Vitamix, without my kitchen companion, this would have not been possible. 🙂  ❤

Please feel free to share questions, comments, suggestions, etc.  Thank you for stopping by my blog! Cheers to new beginnings! ❤

Onward,

~G

 

 

The Universe

We were once our own universe;
We held the moon in our palms,
and cradled planets as our own.
The stars were our masterpieces
The sun was envious of our expanse,
a majestic journey.

We created our own dimensions,
limitless without fear.
Without cares, without worries.
We were shooting stars,
blazing across the cosmos,
such starry skies.
We danced in the black skies,
illuminated by our incandescent love.

Consumed by our broken pieces,
we self-imploded into
a fiery supernova –
a dazzling death, a fiery star
now extinct, collapsed
Self-consumed into a blackhole,
A luminous self-destruction.
Our once expansive love,
now marginalized matter
into fractionalized space.

Illumination, now replaced with profound gravity,
a fallen star.
Invisible love, with tangible magnetism,
the pull of what once was.
Lost love, bonded to an eternity of stellar collapse.
We were once our own universe.

~GN

© 2016 Gehan Naser-Ahmed. All rights reserved.

Copyright Notice: © Gehan Naser-Ahmed and Wellness Warrior: My Fruition to ND, 2015-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gehan Naser-Ahmed and Wellness Warrior: My Fruition To ND with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gratitude Changes Everything – Part 1

Happy March friends! 🙂

Another month closer to marrying my best friend! 🙂 March 2016 marks my 1 year anniversary living in Arizona.  It’s been a beautiful journey and a transformative and healing experience.

I am learning such rich knowledge at my naturopathic medical school.  I am deeply grateful for the amazing naturopathic physicians who guide my healing and wellness.  I have been taking charge of my fertility as I learn and practice the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for natural birth control.

I highly recommend “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler.  Ladies, that book will change your life!

I am beginning to understand and experience gratitude in an unprecedented way.  It has been so incredibly healing and eye-opening, as challenges have presented along my journey.

Lately, I have been reflecting on the power of fear and all the toxins it produces.  Fear induces paralysis and inaction. Fear feeds anxiety, depression, self-sabotage.  Fear kills dreams.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marianne Williamson

This blog is short and sweet.  One question, simply put:

What are you afraid of?  How do your fears show up in your life? 

With open eyes, think about it.

Thank you for walking with me.  Your attention to my blog is a precious gift to me.

Love, peace and gratitude,

G


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~JFK

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The Healing Power of Reflection & Rides

Happy February, friends!

I recently celebrated my one year blog anniversary!  When the celebratory email arrived in my inbox, I took a few minutes to sit and reflect on the transformation that has taken place.

As I continue to reflect on my journey, I would like to share a few updates in non-chronological order.  Allow me to share!

  1. I rode my first Party on a Bike in Arizona, and I have been hooked ever since!  This dynamic workout in such an energizing and positive environment has led to much personal, professional, academic, and spiritual growth.  It is so much more than a workout!
  2. Fiance and I completed our first juice cleanse of 2016.  The cleanse energized us, spiritually and nutritionally.  We have entered a new and exciting chapter in our wellness journey.  Lots of healing!
  3. I met Cindy McCain and connected with John McCain’s campaign staff over our mutual interest to support veterans!
  4. I volunteered at the yearly AZ StandDown to help homeless veterans in the community.  I created a team – “Victory for Vets” 🙂
  5. I tried my first serving of kefir!  A delicious way to get quality probiotics to support my guts.  I mix with chia seeds, which are detoxifying and great for the body.  A delicious treat!
  6. Fiancee and I have been experimenting with a lot of yummy and nutrient-rich whole foods.  We are officially foodies!

Ready for a celebratory ride with my good friend and classmate!

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Take some time to reflect with yourself and your intentions.  How is 2016 unfolding for you?

Remember you can change your momentum, at any moment.

To your success,

~G