Rude or Blessed Awakenings?



 IN THE MORNING, ARE YOU  jumping sunshine      OR     clip-art-waking-up-913613  ??

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?

  1. Embracing life
  2. Hiding under the covers
  3. The work you love
  4. How to call in sick
  5. Yoga class
  6. Coffee and donuts
  7. Loved ones
  8. The bathroom scale
  9. Gratitude
  10. Regret
  11. _______________? 


Yes, how we wake up and our first thoughts can tell us a lot about how yesterday was, how our day will be, but more importantly about our state of being and health. Whether we bound out of bed singing sunny songs, slide out on the “wrong side of the bed” into a foul mood, pull the covers tightly (when every side of the bed seems wrong), or sit on our bed’s edge waiting for some motivation to spur our achy body on — mornings are a telling part of our health journey.

My mom used to come in every morning with a glass of OJ, piece of buttered toast, a flip of the light switch and a “Good Morning” song. As a child, I loved this. As a teen I dreaded it. And now, there are days I wish my 77 year old mom would drive over and greet me with breakfast (gluten and dairy-free now, of course) and a cheerful serenade just to get me to embrace my day. As a “health choreographer” you would think I’d have figured it all out, every morning would be a ray of sunshine and I would jump out of bed with healthy enthusiasm. But even I have the struggles of chronic illness, caring for a special needs child, daily aches and pains and self doubts. There are mornings when I know that just looking in the mirror will bring back unwanted old “tapes” from the past and I will have to work on reminding myself of my worth and beauty. But friends, this is part of being human. Because then there are days when all I see is the sunshine through the clouds, hear only my children’s laughter and focus on all the beauty in nature around me — and on those days I can remember why I love being alive. And I have grown to appreciate and learn from the grumpy mornings, the days I want to stay in bed, and the ones where I start out self-judging from the get-go.

So, what is your morning story? Why don’t you take advantage of what your body is telling you in the first moments of your day (especially the ones that aren’t so good) and ask it questions –it would really like to educate you!

Practice Exercise: (You fill in the blanks)

“Because” Questions: This morning I am ____________ because___________?

  1. Sluggish because I stayed up too late, didn’t eat enough yesterday, last night’s binge…?
  2. Achy because I didn’t drink enough water, took five aerobics classes, am afraid of eating good fat….?
  3. Grumpy because I am working too much, not happy in my relationship, need more fun, angry at my bathroom scale…?
  4. Sad because I don’t feel worthy, won’t let myself eat fun food, hate my job…?
  5. etc.

Then take inventory of what your body needs you to do to feel better. It might be as simple just adding healthy fat or more food to your day, eating regular meals, moving your body more, exercising less, or throwing away your scale. It could be as big as eliminating a negative person from your life, changing careers or getting real on how to love your body more.  You might even need to talk to someone, a trusted friend, spiritual counselor or a health/life coach who can be your sounding board. You may find journaling your concerns and desires a way to let go of the toxins and fears that hold you captive.

What ever it is, look into it.

Next time you wake up, listen to what your body is telling you and ask it what it needs!


Morning Blessings,

The Health Choreographer




Spring Cleaning/Nutritional Detox-Cleanses: Are You Healthy Enough?


Spring is finally here! Time for cleaning of our homes AND our bodies. But, are you really ready?

For myself, I know that I’m not quite ready to dive into my closet to purge and donate the stuff I don’t wear anymore; and I’m not sure if my nose is ready for the great dust-athon. I must prepare and make time to sort piles of clothes into charity bins and make sure my seasonal allergies (Birch trees and snow mold) are fully calmed before I dig in to bring order to my home again.

spring cleaning

Well, it’s the same process with a nutritional detox of the body. You need to prepare before you dive in.

You have to be in a place (physically, mentally and emotionally) to handle the side effects of a cleansing program — whether it be a day-long fast, a week of juicing or an herbal-assisted colon blast. Although when done correctly, and at the right time, these techniques can be beneficial, you don’t want to “shock” your body into these processes.

For example, if you are to have a colonoscopy, the doctor will give you medicine to take that helps clean out your gut before the procedure. It preps your bowel to be spiffy clean. But the instructions also say to prep for this colon prep. You must gradually decrease heavy fiber and bulky foods the day or two before so that your gut does not need to purge fibrous items or mass quantities quickly. 

This is done both for your own comfort and for a more thorough and complete cleanse. If you have ever had this done before you will also remember the feeling of being too quickly forced to cleanse — it is not a particularly fun or feel-good experience. And you will be happy that you listened to your doctor’s advice on prepping your prep.


It’s the same with a natural cleanse (albeit, hopefully less traumatic). You also need to make time for restorative rest, extra fluids, and gentle movement that helps circulate and rid toxins during your cleanse. You must be prepared to handle the negative side effects you might experience as toxins dislodge and make their journey out of your body: cold-like symptoms, headaches, fatigue or all over “yuckiness” (and crankiness) — maybe even some emotional vulnerability or mood swings.

Cleanses are good from time to time – they can reset the body’s natural barometers and systems, giving a well-deserved break from the work of digestion and the burden of toxins. But unless you are doing an “emergency” cleanse (because of an urgent or serious health need), you want to make sure you are as healthy as you can be before you start.

So, please make sure you take time to nourish your body in the few weeks before: with an increase in healthy organic fruits, veggies, grains and protein sources, gradually ease off of fibers and animal products in the days before, rest a lot and move in enjoyable activities. Reduce your stress load and prepare (as if you were going on a trip) for your cleanse journey. This will put you in a better place physically (and a better state of mind) to handle the process of cleaning out our body — your most important home.


Happy, Smart, and Safe Cleaning!


Watch the Wind


So… it seems that I (once again) survived winter in Minnesota (barely) and all the arctic wind that it brought with it this year. I can write about it now, only because we have hit the 40’s and 50’s and are a week past our last snow. As I look back, there were a couple things that helped me to do so: drinking everything warm I could find (ginger tea and lemon was my fave) and wearing hats and scarves inside.


Etiquette says that it is rude to wear hats inside, it shows disrespect in church, restaurants and other people’s homes. But when I am in my own home and I’m feeling chilly – my hat and scarf stay on. Yes, I’ve upgraded to lighter weight infinity scarves that you can wrap as many times around you as you want (double up on them in subzero nip). I’ve collected a basket full of light-weight knit stocking caps (in as many colors as I have scarves). I am not picky about where I buy these – my Whole Foods or a local health store usually have handmade gems on sale. I bought one with my son’s school logo – to justify wearing it to his basketball games. I even love children’s ones with frog faces and dinosaur heads. I almost bought myself a ladybug one this year to stave the mid-winter dulls and give me some good luck – but my son would have given me “the look.”ladybug-hat

Gradually, I started wearing them while in indoor public places: the store, the movie theatre, even at my women’s choir rehearsals (I wasn’t the only one who did). Yes, the heat was on –but if I didn’t have a hat or scarf on I’d get chilled. I soon discovered that my innate need to wrap my throat and brain was actually a good measure of self-protection. With the wind howling through crevices in foundations and window panes there were lots of drafts this winter every place I’d go. No escaping.

According to Oriental Medicine, the back of the neck is very susceptible to drafts (and so are the orifices of the head, the upper back and especially area near the occipital bones). But the neck is a prime place for wind to “enter” the body and it is important to keep covered. When I researched the subject, I found that there are quite a few different “winds” in Oriental Medicine: cold, heat, damp, water, rash and various winds that affect the lungs, liver, the blood strength and body heat (like heat stroke). Wind symbolizes some type of movement (external or internal) that can combine with a negative, almost pathogenic, agent or response (or incoming germ) in the body. Ultimately the wind causes disharmony and imbalance. Many common colds, fevers, arthritic symptoms, edema and sudden rashes can be attributed to one of these “winds”. Most can be treated with herbs and dietary changes, but even though I’ve learned about all the yin and yang herbs to combat “wind illnesses” — I prefer the prevention.


So I thought about it. Did my body sense the strong winds of the season and caused me to binge-shop on neck wraps and head coverings? Or is there something rather intuitive about this ancient practice that is really quite sound and unconsciously understood. Some people say (and some study this) that you can tell the strength of a wind by how it howls through the trees and how far it makes them sway or bend. There are mathematical formulas for this. But what about the strength of the wind that blows through our body – do we each have an internal barometer within us to gage the strength and possible danger of certain wind to our body’s constitution and health. And does each body have a predisposition to withstand a certain temperature or humidity of wind and fear the others?

For me, I am quite fine with furnace-like desert breezes or even a gust of tropical beach air. I’m in awe of the people who love skiing – with the rush of cold air in their face as they catapult down the mountains. No amount of scarves could help me there.

Interestingly enough, the blood deficiency piece of Oriental Medicine and the wind that causes it, really hits home with me. You see, because of chronic illness, I struggle with low iron and this can cause an intolerance to cold. I do everything I can to plump up my blood via diet and supplements (and for much of the year I’m successful). But winter is its own game. I don’t consciously tell myself to bundle up because I am borderline anemic – it seems my body is really quite aware of the situation. It gets that winter and its arctic blasts is something to brace against. When I come in from outside and try to melt a bit – I notice how short my neck has become with my shoulders at ear height. My body knows it would probably survive better if it could evolve into a turtle-like neck and shell to hibernate with. My intuitive nephew even notices that his “aunt Cindy wears hats in the house when she isn’t feeling good.”


Last year, I promised that I would do my best to find affection for winter – and I gave it a graduate-level “college try”. But the near 7 months of brisk tundra really did me in. I fully appreciate my scarf collection and my own innate body wisdom to shield against the elements, I even honor ancient medicine and acupuncture – but I think next year I’ll be flying south with the birds…probably leaving just after the drop of leaves.


Happy Spring-




balanced stones


Perched precariously


beginning and end

past and future

mistakes and growth




until we are ready

to be free.

                                ~cynthia lehew-nerhbass

Eating and Embodiment


Fun With Food!

Fun With Food!

Hello Friends,

Remember that when you eat it is important to embody the experience. So take some deep breaths, offer a blessing over your food, take it in via all your senses (color, smell, taste and texture) and eat slowly, savoring each morsel. Your food is both your nourishment and your nutrition, but it can also be a pleasure. So enjoy it completely and be thankful for its gifts to your health dance!

Blessed Eating!




Please, slow down and…


…enjoy your food!