Monday, September 11, 2017

Lessons from Summer

by Catherine McLaughlin
For me, fall is a time to get back into a routine. With three young children, summers are an all-out party for us - my kids want to go all the places and do all the things. In my former life as a School Counselor, I had summers off, so I could make that happen for us. But working over the summer changes things. Here’s what I learned, and what I’ll take with me to next summer.
1. Stay on a schedule - Most kids respond better when they’re on a schedule, even when they think they don’t. Remember when they were babies and we tried to nap and feed them at the same times? Being on a schedule also works better for a family with two working parents. Being on a schedule doesn’t mean that life has to be boring - it just provides kids with a framework for their days. Most kids can relax when they know what’s up next.
2. Mix it up - Plan some fun activities and surprises. During summer, days are longer, more daylight, more time to fill. Planning some surprise outings will keep everyone guessing and having fun. It will also score you some parent points.
3. Maintain your own routine - This is a big one for me. Letting my own exercise and meditation routine fall to the wayside did nothing for my parenting. Like my kids, I need a schedule to be able to relax and feel comfortable. With kids at home all day, making time for yourself can be difficult. Next summer I’ll have to be creative - waking up earlier than usual or exercising after kids go to bed. Practicing mindfulness meditation can be especially helpful, especially when dealing with more family time than we’re used to. 

Happy Back to School!

Catherine McLaughlin is a Licensed Professional Counselor and School Counselor. She sees adolescents and adults in private practice, specializing in issues of adolescence and providing therapy for parents of teens experiencing difficult times. Catherine can be reached at 267-800-5073 and

Sunday, September 10, 2017

It’s Harvest Time!! Autumn – A Perfect Time to Nourish the Body, Mind, and Soul

by Kristin Fulmer, Certified Nutritional Therapist

Autumn is officially here, the days are getter shorter, the leaves are changing, and the kids are busy with school and activities. And if you are like me….perhaps you may have indulged over the summer on way too much barbeque, beer, and burgers. Thankfully, the Fall provides us with wonderful opportunities to get back into a routine, reevaluate our needs and make some healthy improvements.

Our body, mind, and spirit flourish when we can appreciate and experience the changing seasons while also being aware of our changing seasonal needs both physical and emotional. For me, one of the greatest joys of Autumn is visiting the numerous local farmers markets and enjoying the bountiful selections of delicious produce, meats, cheeses, teas, and chocolates. As a nutritional therapist, I encourage my clients to become more nourished by eating seasonally, cooking locally produced real food, and sitting down with the friends and family to enjoy lovingly prepared meals. Frequenting local farmers markets also means supporting local economies, local farmers and food artisans, which can enhance our individual health while contributing to a thriving community wellness. It’s a yummy win-win proposition!

Happy harvesting!

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few great places to begin…

Local Harvest,, connects people looking for good food with the farmers who produce it. For Local Harvest, the goal of the local food movement is to create thriving community-based food systems that will make high quality local food available to everyone.

Farm to City, Real Farmers, Real Food, manages 13 weekly, outdoor farmers’ markets. These markets provide neighborhoods with fresh foods produced in the region.

The Food Trust, , in partnership with Get Healthy Philly, operates 22 farmers markets in Philadelphia, including Clark Park Farmers Market, Philly’s oldest year-round market and The Headhouse Farmers Market the city's largest outdoor market. Many of The Food Trust's farmers markets are located in neighborhoods that otherwise lack access to healthy foods; these markets accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits and Philly Food Bucks to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to everyone.

Pennsylvania Farmers Markets Directory is a helpful search for open air markets in PA,

Kristin Fulmer, MS, NCC, LPC, NTP, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Nutritional Therapist, providing individual, family, and group counseling. Kristin utilizes an integrative and functional whole-person, mind-body approach with an emphasis on nutritionally-dense, whole foods approach to improve emotional and physical wellbeing. To learn more about her practice and to schedule an appointment, contact Kristin at (267) 843-4888 or website:

Stuffed Heirloom Squash with Sausage, Bacon, Caramelized Onions, and Sage

Recipe by Kristin Fulmer, adapted from

The flavors of the roasted squash with its filling seasoned with sage and cardamom complimented each other well. Sweet and savory filled with spice.

2 heirloom or acorn squash (suitable for stuffing)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to season
3 thick sliced pieces of (pastured, nitrate-free) bacon, diced
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1lb ground (pastured, nitrate-free) chicken, pork, beef, bison, or lamb
2 cups market greens or veggies – use whatever you bought at the market (kale, chard, spinach, zucchini)
1 tablespoon, chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbl apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sliced preferably raw cheese (omit if problems with dairy)

Cut the squashes in half, scraping out all of the seeds. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. (reserve the seeds to toast later with some fats and salt)

Place on a baking stone or sheet, cut side up, and roast at 375F for 1 hour or until its soft and can be pierced with a fork.

Once the squash has been roasted:
In a small cast iron pan or skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until its fat has been rendered and the meat is brown and crispy. Set aside.

In the bacon fat, saute the onion until it's soft and begins to turn brown and caramelize, add market greens and saute lightly. Set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet or pan, cook the ground pork over medium heat.

Once it's cooked through, add the onion, 1/2 of the bacon, sage, cardamom, 1 tsp salt, and apple cider vinegar. Mix through.

Cook on medium low heat for about 5 minutes allowing the flavors to incorporate.

Stuff the Squash.

Divide the mixture into the four squash pieces.

Garnish with cheddar cheese, fresh cut sage, and the remaining bacon pieces.

Return to the oven for an additional five minutes, allowing the cheese to melt.

Adapted from:

Kristin Fulmer, MS, NCC, LPC, NTP, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Nutritional Therapist, providing individual, family, and group counseling. Kristin utilizes an integrative and functional whole-person, mind-body approach with an emphasis on nutritionally-dense, whole foods approach to improve emotional and physical wellbeing. To learn more about her practice and to schedule an appointment, contact Kristin at (267) 843-4888 or website:

Autumn and The Art of Gracefully Letting Go

by Tracie Nichols, MA, CCSP

Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors, the way the earth smells, and I especially enjoy having fewer humid days. But, what I most love is how the seasonal rhythm encourages me to deepen my personal development journey.

Every year autumn invites us to distill all we have acquired, learned, and experienced through spring and summer. New habits, freshly discovered strengths, new ways of seeing ourselves - these are all integrated and refined to guide us as we discern the next right steps.

Autumn also demonstrates the art of gracefully releasing what we no longer choose to carry. Take a moment to notice what your wild neighbors are doing, now. Trees release leaves. Plants let go of what is above ground and pull their energy into their roots. Deer drop antlers.

Consider consciously aligning with autumn’s gentle releasing rhythm to let go of beliefs, fears, or habits that no longer nurture you.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Spend uninterrupted time outdoors observing and feeling the pace of life in your ecosystem. Let it sink into your bones. 

As you watch leaves fall, visualize the things you choose to release drifting away from you.

If you rake leaves or pull weeds, imagine gathering those things that no longer serve and composting them with the garden trimmings.

On foggy autumn mornings, imagine that the fog represents the things you are releasing. See them being evaporated as the sun rises.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Listen to the poem here:

Tracie Nichols, MA, CCSP is a Holistic Career Coach who believes we can learn a lot from nature about being happy humans. She offers individual career coaching and strategy sessions, as well as classes helping highly sensitive and multipotentialed people create a meaningful, enjoyable work life. Learn more about Tracie at or connect with her at or 215-527-5457.

Slowing Down This Fall ~ Living Life From a Place of Rest

by Jen Perry, LPC

Summer had a spontaneity to it for me this year with lots of kids activities and spur-of-the-moment trips to the lake and beach. This fall, I find myself craving a bit more paced of a schedule and routine. The benefits of rituals and routines are many - including a gentle holding pattern that allows us to live our lives from a place of rest.

Can you imagine what living life from a place of rest might be like? Instead of letting the frantic and frenetic pace of modern life dictate our personal pace in the world ~ living life from a place of rest has three important components: 1) prioritizing the essential basic need of sleep; 2) daily scheduling periods of activity with periods of downtime; as well as 2) cultivating a sense of calm moment to moment. This article will focus on the first component: Sleep.

"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” ~ Thomas Dekker

Living life from a place of rest means to emphasize that we rise each morning from rest and will return again in the evening to this restful state. It means to be intentional about our nighttime routines so that we can deepen the level of rest we can achieve. It is knowing how to skillfully meet occasional bouts of insomnia with confidence. Insomnia and sleep problems are often considered effects of stress, depression, and anxiety but new research shows that it can be a considerable contributor to these problems. Here is an article about just that: Being intentional about how we approach this important third of our lives can be preventative as well as help address many mental health challenges.

Sleep “is a pragmatic response to good health. If you have good sleep, it increases your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills, health. If you get sleep, it reduces your mood changes, your stress, your levels of anger, your impulsivity, and your tendency to drink and take drugs.” ~ Russell Foster. His Ted Talk can be found here:

There must be some important reason that our bodies require so much rest. For a fascinating dip into the history of humans trying to figure out why and how we sleep here: I’m struck by the apparent import of sleep: if you live to be 100 you will have spent a cumulative 30 years asleep. I firmly believe in working with our bodies and natural rhythms for health and wellness and given the sheer percentage of time dedicated to sleep from an evolutionary standpoint I think it is worth considering how we approach it nightly.

And yet, many of us (myself included at times) deny or at a minimum rail against this very basic human need for rest. Many of us find we have an inner revolt of sorts towards bedtime, most of us carry an inner child who continues to throw a tantrum at bedtime. This is an invitation to re-parent ourselves and take our inner three year old to bed with intention.

A few suggestions to get a good night’s sleep:

Have a bedtime routine that puts you to sleep on purpose. This does not need to be complicated, just a few simple cues to your body that sleep is coming. Washing your face, brushing teeth, making a gratitude list, doing a guided meditation are all good ideas. Instead of crashing on the couch, send yourself off to bed with the intention for rest.

Lower the temperature in your room. Experts seem to suggest a temperature between 60-67 degrees for adults, 65-70 for kids.

Darken your room. Turn off all lights, electronics, get dark out curtains or a bed tent. (Find a bed tent here: Bed tents are great for kids!

Use a white noise maker such as this one at Amazon:

Shut down screens at least an hour before bed

Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep

Go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time each day. Your body is amazing … if you ask it to stay up beyond bedtime you WILL get a second wind and be able to stay up, albeit at some cost to your health and well-being that accumulates over time. Read more at

What to do when you can’t sleep. If you have insomnia, the worst thing you can do is freak out. This will push sleep further away. Instead, emphasize to yourself that rest counts for something and sleep studies show that we often get more sleep than we think we do during sleepless nights. Breathing and intentionally relaxing your body, or practicing sleep yoga or yoga nidra can be very helpful. Here is an example of a yoga nidra: Counseling can help with insomnia and other self-care issues.

Jen Perry is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, Peaceful Parenting Educator and Coach. Jen’s approach to her client’s mental health and wellbeing focuses on implementing mindful self-care and self-compassion practices. Jen helps people prioritize what is truly important to them and build a heartful life that they love. In addition to seeing clients individually, Jen works with families and runs a weekly Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Therapy Group. Jen can be reached at or 215-292-5056. Additional blog posts can be found at