Self Care

“Practice self care as if everything depends on it.”

-Rolf Gates


What is ‘self care?’

Does it mean eating healthy food? Taking care of your body by exercising? Cultivating a sense of peace and well-being by meditating, praying, or simply allowing yourself times of stillness?

And what about relationships? How can we care for ourselves when we’re so busy taking care of others?

We have a saying in my family that sometimes we need to “fill the well.” This metaphor implies that our energy, our vitality, our joy and creativity are like the water in a well that we can draw from to sustain ourselves and others.

As we draw down from the source, our reserves can start to become depleted.

Self care is the practice of replenishing those reserves.

It’s also a gift we give ourselves simply for the sake of giving it, not just so we can tap into greater reserves in order to use them.

Here’s what I know from my own life about self care…

  •  It starts with moving my body, every day, especially in my yoga practice…
  •  Being in an uplifted environment matters: my home, the places I choose to practice yoga, even where I shop…
  • Mindful eating (of healthy food!) transforms sustenance for the body into sustenance for the whole self…
  • Spending time apart from goal-driven activities by walking in the woods, meditating, or simply retreating to my bedroom to read quietly in the midst of a busy family weekend can restore my sense of balance…

When I practice self care, the world seems to brighten, and I become a gentler, softer version of myself. Self care allows me to better ride the waves of parenting two teenagers, running a household and a business, and participating wholeheartedly in relationships.

When I fill the well by practicing self care, I’m available for my life, my people, and my work.

I encourage you to gift yourself with a full day of self care at Habersham Mills on Saturday, November 4th, as we gather to do yoga, breathe, walk mindfully through the woods, eat wonderful food together, and re-connect with our source.

You can register at

STUDIO.BNA architects
675 Pulaski St.  Suite 200
Athens, GA  30601

o.  706-850-4224
c.  706-308-8339

The Healthy Gut

Herb Girls here,

If you didn't already know, we're hosting a fermentation workshop at Thrive this Saturday! In prelude to that, we thought we'd introduce you to your gut. Eileen wrote a little snippet to help you get acquainted. Enjoy!



The Healthy Gut

The gut is the jungle of the body- it is a biodiverse region teaming with trillions of microbes (bacteria and yeasts). Even germaphobes who eat no fermented food or veggies are still internally crawling with bacteria. It’s a complex environment that we are only beginning to understand. But we do know one thing: chronic inflammatory conditions, degenerative diseases, and neurological imbalances like autism and depression are all linked to insufficient probiotics in the gut.

A little bit of live ferments goes a long way. Just as too many “bad” bacteria wreck havoc, too many “good” bacteria can also turn into a negative situation, or dysbiosis. For example, someone who eats bowls of kimchi, liters of kombucha, sourdough bread, and nutritional yeast with every meal might be feeding his bacteria rather than his own cells, causing him belly distension and discomfort. It’s all about the balance. “Good” bacteria in wild ferments keep the bad guys like Candida and E. Coli at bay, but healthy guts need these “bad” guys in small numbers to maintain the balance. It’s only when they invade areas they aren’t supposed to be or proliferate extensively that issues arise. By eating a little bit of fermented food each day, washing your hands, meat, and vegetables, and keeping simple sugar ingestion to a minimum (Candida and cancer cells need simple sugar to thrive), you are ensuring that you have a well balanced microbial community with the right ratio of good versus bad guys.

The gut is the source of life! Foster a healthy one by eating wild ferments every day.


A Very Abbreviated List of What Gut Bacteria Do


  • Create B vitamins- essential vitamin complex that provide cellular energy and support nervous and immune system function

  • Create Vitamin K2- essential vitamin that deserves more attention. K2 is needed to deliver Calcium to the bone matrix, keeping it out of arteries and joints. Doctors are now connecting K2 deficiency with atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, stroke, bone spurs, and stones; fermented foods are one of the greatest sources of K2.  

  • Assimilate minerals- many minerals, like iron and copper, can’t be properly utilized without sufficient stomach acid to unlock enzymes and good bacteria to process them. With mineral-rich soil quality depleting (this is largely the reason how Americans are well-fed but undernourished; just like our guts, our soils lack the microbial life responsible for making critical vitamins and minerals available to us), it is more important than ever to optimize mineral absorption.

  • Remove toxins- healthy populations of good bacteria keep bad bacteria at bay. If left unchecked, bad bacteria produce endotoxins. Our body responds by initiating its alarm state, which is inflammation. Long-term inflammation causes our gut walls to become highly permeable (“Leaky Gut Syndrome”), allowing those toxins to escape into our bloodstream and circulate throughout our body, furthering inflammation in other parts of the body.

(You can remove toxins by reducing your consumption of “junk foods”- i.e. processed foods, sugars, and trans fats. Bad bacteria and yeast love sugary, processed foods. When we eat these foods regularly, we are feeding bad bacteria rather than our own cells.)

  • Prevent obesity and diabetes- gut bacteria moderate fat absorption and glucose processing- central for proper insulin signaling and metabolism. Furthermore, the hypothalamus is the appetite control center of the body. Studies have shown inflamed and damaged hypothalamic in obese individuals. When inflammation affects your brain- especially the control center- the entire way we metabolize morphs to a suboptimal state.

  • Improves immune system and antioxidant defense- 80% of immune system cells are made in our gut. Why? If you consider how our immune system is our body’s defense and that we are constantly ingesting foreign elements from the outside world through our gastrointestinal tract, this design makes perfect sense.

  • Glutathione, aka The Mother of All Antioxidants, is more powerful than any antioxidant we could ever ingest, but it has to be produced endogenously- that is, we can’t supplement with it. A very smart microbiologist, Marika Mikelsaar, was the first one to identify and isolate a bacterial strain, Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3- especially efficient at boosting immunity by producing glutathione. When we have ample glutathione, oxidative damage is greatly reduced, antioxidants like Vitamin C and E are recycled, and cells have more energy. Glutathione production wanes with age and when we don’t supply the right raw materials to create it (Dr. Ohhira products contain ME-3).

  • Improve mental health- in utero, the same tissue that becomes our brain also becomes our gastrointestinal track. This is why the Central Nervous System (CNS) is so entangled with our Enteric Nervous System (ENS)- enteric means “intestines”. Producing 70% of serotonin and interacting with our brain in profound ways, gut microflora significantly influence brain signaling and neurotransmitter manufacturing.

  • Improve liver function- When our bacterial populations are functioning, the breakdown and assimilation of food is relatively complete. When our populations are jeopardized, the liver has an added burden to its already incredible task of breaking down every single thing we ingest, from the unforeseeable pollutants in the air to the food we eat. An overburdened liver can’t eliminate toxins efficiently, leading to systemic dysregulation.

  • Prevent acne- signals from our gut microorganisms interact with organisms on our skin. Grain and sugar carbohydrates cause a surge of insulin and IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor) secretion, stimulating excessive male hormone production. Excessive male hormones cause overproduction of sebum and the keratinocyte skin cells- both associated with acne. Carb-rich foods, especially refined carbohydrates, also increase inflammation in the body, triggering acne and wreaking havoc on your good gut microbes.

An Introduction to Mindfulness

From time to time, Rebecca Shisler Marshall, PhD will be bringing us helpful tips on self-care, happiness, and how to be less stressed. Rebecca is a certified life coach, yoga and mindfulness instructor, Reiki Master, and shamanic practitioner in training. She brings 12 years experience in mindfulness research to her own meditation practice. You can find out more about Rebecca on her website, or attend her workshop, Everyday Mindfulness on September 10th.

As an associate professor at UGA, business owner, and mother of two, things can get pretty busy in my life. As the summer comes to an end and the school year is getting ready to start again, I know the best way to help reduce my stress is to meditate. And yet, even I have so much resistance to meditating more! What do I mean by resistance? Anytime I decide I want to add more mindfulness (or really any self-care practice) to my schedule, the lizard (basically the inner critic, or reptilian part of the brain) starts its familiar conversation:

“You don’t have time! You can barely get everything done as it is! It’s not possible!”

Yep, that’s resistance, and we all have it! Instead of listening to that voice, I choose to use a practice I learned when my kids were first born. Adding in more mindfulness into everyday activities. When my children were babies I would mindfully change the diapers, nurse, or fold laundry; now I mindfully wash dishes or brush my teeth, or even mindfully work. It’s not what task I chose, but how I do it. It means that I’m going to be as present as possible while I’m doing a task as mundane as washing the dishes. Being present in the now.

This is been an amazing help for me. When I practice more mindfulness, I feel lighter, happier, and more connected. Life’s challenges don’t seem so difficult and I’m able to respond instead of react. I just feel better. 

What is mindfulness?

I’ve been reading and conducting mindfulness meditation research for the last 12 years and there’s a growing stack of scientific evidence. Mindfulness is helpful for everything from lowering stress, anxiety, depression, and can even help your immune system function better (to name a few). Mindfulness has even been found to increase the thickness of the brain. Isn’t that amazing?! I think mindfulness is so great, I teach it to all of my clients.

How do you practice mindfulness?

To practice mindfulness, it is simple but not necessarily easy. Think of it as building a new muscle and practice is the key to learning any new skill. First find something to pay attention to in the present moment- the breath, sounds, or your body. With each breath, bring your attention back to what is present right now- the sound of the fan running in your room, an ache in your body, or even your stomach grumbling. If your mind wanders, simply bring it back to whatever your focus is and let go of any thoughts of future (What am I going to eat?) or past (repeating a conversation from earlier in the day).

I hope you give mindfulness a try- and let me know how it goes. 

Peace and Meditation,


                                                  Learn more about mindfulness!

                                           Everyday Mindfulness Workshop at Thrive

                                                         September 10th, 1pm


Rebecca helps people who are stressed and overwhelmed, and ready to feel better. You can schedule your complimentary appointment with her, or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram


Well, the Abrams family has been busy lately!  Y'all saw our recent post about Doug's new book, The Book of Joy, which he wrote with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  This one's written by Doug's wife, Rachel.  Rachel and I worked together in Santa Cruz and developed Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine, which was the model for Thrive.  She's an amazing woman, and an excellent practitioner.  I can't say enough great things about her.  You won't wanna miss this book!  Follow link on title of book to Rachel's website for more info.


New Year's Re-Start

New Year's Re-Start

Are you tired of Resolutions that don't stick? Join us at Thrive for a New Year's Re-Start in 2017!  Come and learn how to make long term sustainable changes for optimum health, without giving up everything you love forever!

The basic program is $75, or add on comprehensive blood work with functional analysis for an addition $224.  Read all the FAQ below and let us know if you have further questions or concerns.

If you are ready to register, you can call 706.850.2000, email, or register online by clicking HERE to create a free Mindbody account, and following the instructions.

Book Of Joy

My good friend Doug Abrams co-wrote this book with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  I haven't tucked into it yet, but I heard some sections of the audio when Doug was recording this summer.  What little I heard touched me profoundly.  Check it out!!!  Follow the link on title below.



The Ten-Series of Rolfing by Leah McKellop

 To start at the very beginning, what is Rolfing and what are it’s goals?  

 Rolfing is a form a Manual Therapy that aims to relieve pain and stress on our bodies by balancing posture.  To do this, Rolfers focus on releasing strain patterns in our soft tissue, especially the very sculptable fascial system.  Though your Rolfer may work on a specific area where you are having symptoms, in the back of their minds Rolfers are looking for the root cause of that symptom.  Was that painful area already compromised due to postural strain? If muscles and joints can’t move through their full range of motion that area is easy to strain.  It’s with this way of looking at our bodies that the Ten-Series was developed.

 Rolfing has a reputation of creating changes that hold,  greatly due to this "whole body" process known as the Ten-Series.  Rolfers are not looking for a change that will last 24 hours,  but for a long lasting shift.  For a shift like that to hold, it may require a person’s whole body to change.  


The series is roadmap that journeys through the body, adjusting posture in a way that the body can integrate without backtracking.  The sessions build on each other, laying a foundation of support for more challenging areas to balance.    Everyone’s series follow a general set of guidelines, that are customized based on each person’s unique needs.   If you are plagued with chronic hip pain, we might touch in on that area for a bit every session.  If there is an emotional component to your physical needs, that may be an important part of our sessions.  If you are an active person, we may have a very participatory movement filled session.  


For me, the Ten-Series has always felt like a journey to get to know yourself, whether that be on physical level or another.


The Surface Sessions

Session One: The Breathe

-Free up restrictions of the breath.

-Work to get the breath to move not just the ribs, but the full body.  Eb and flow with breathing.

-Use the breathe as a catalyst for movement, working from the inside.  This is a tool for future sessions.

*As with all future sessions, this is also a time to begin addressing your specific issues/interests.


Session Two: Grounding

-Building your foundation.

-Grounding, dropping into gravity.

-Feet, lower legs and the action of pressing/sinking down.


Session Three: Beginning to Find Your Balance

-Starting to perceive where you are in space

-How you are balanced front and back over your midline?

-Working along the side-body and first accessing the deeper parts of your body that hold your body in space.


The Deep Sessions

Session 4: Beginning to Find your Center (“core”)

-The first true core session

-Working from the feet to the pelvic floor along the inner line of your legs.


Session 5: Continuing to Find your Core (it takes a little while)

-A continuation of session 4, working the core muscles

-This time we work from above down to the pelvis on the “upper core”.


Session 6: Finding your “Back” and noticing your surroundings

-All the way up the back, from the soles of your feet to the top of your scalp.

-Bringing awareness to what’s behind you, what you can’t see.  Feeling your back and whats behind your back.


Session 7: Cranial Opening

-“Putting on the Head” and decompressing the cranium.

-This involves neck and head work as well as potential intra-oral (inside the mouth) and intra-nasal (into the sinuses) work.  The later two areas are based on need and involve very gentle work with gloved hands.  


Integrative Sessions

The final three sessions are about integrating all of the work that we have done up to now.  An integrated body with stay supported and fluid when you get up off the table and stand or move.  An integrated body works as one interconnected whole. A movement in one area will set off a chain of supportive movements across the whole body.  To be integrated you are both fluid and strong.

Session 8: Integration of Structure

-Session 8 is highly customized to each person’s needs, but in general it looks to free up any lasting structural restrictions that effect movement across joints(more full body).  Clients may be asked to move more or assume more challenging positions on the table.


Session 9: Integration of Function

This is a continuation of session 8, with similar goals.  In general session 9 looks to address more functional restrictions.  Do your initial movement in a way that uses your new found support?  Can you move with fluidity and strength?


Session 10: Smoothing the Sheet

-Once we have meticulously gone through the whole body and released everything that was hiding deep down in there, now we go back over and make sure everything is nice and neat and in place.  

-We are looking for “uniform brilliance”

After the 10-Series

The goal of the ten series is to help your body come to a balanced place.

-Often people complete the 10-Series, feel balanced and don’t need any more sessions

-Plenty of others use Rolfing as “maintenance” for their body and come in on a continued basis, to keep things balanced. This is especially true for people who do repetitive movement like desk work, running, biking, parenting...

-Some people use Rolfing for more general relaxation.

-And finally, some people come in when they have an injury or something feels out-of-wack.

All are great options, so do what feels good to you.



“What it was to not Fear Movement” by John Albright

I woke this morning, like most mornings of late, to my newborn son’s beckoning for a diaper change and feeding. My pets stirred like leaves in the wake of passing vehicles, circling my feet, also wanting food and affection, opened doors for AM adventures in the rising sun. The birds outside sang to gain territory, the earliestexuberance claiming stakes to shares of worms, but also calling house-cats to challenge that hard-earned right.

When I entered the bathroom to get ready for the day ahead, my cat, Shrimp,hollered for acknowledgement. My dog, Gingo, thwapped her tail and curled her body like koi in pond at feeding time. I leaned down to quell their rebellion aimed to break the previous night’s stillness. But, something was different.

Years of cumulative stress had taught me to bend my knees, even when not lifting heavy objects. Just to greet my animal friends, to pat their heads and gesture good greetings, I needed to heed lower back pain. Not today. Returning upright from hands on fuzzy ears below, I noticed precisely nothing. The twinge of unchecked movement, to which I’d grown accustomed, never tightened it's grip. The cat still crooned for water fresh in his bowl. The dog’s tail still threatened to re-awaken our just-fed and fully satisfied son by drumming back-and- forth between walls and cabinet doors.

But, the pain in the hinge above my tailbone no longer spoke.

I leaned again, just in case I’d missed its all-too- familiar protestations. Nope. Nothing. At that point I remembered… What it was to not fear movement. What it had felt like before so many traumas. Just like the sun’s rise after evening’s occlusion, light revealed no longer hidden. I remembered what it was like to feel light, unburdened by the density of past injuries’ propensities to stay stuck in webs of fascia wound around joints meant to bend.

One session of Rolfing with Leah McKellop the day before... That made all the difference.

Seasonal Allergies and Chinese medicine

Hey y'all,

'Tis the season...

The weather is perfect.  The sun.  The colors. The birdsong.  The magic of Spring.  The, um, pollen...

Rain is washing yellow rivers down the street as I write. And lots of folks are suffering from the effects of the magic of Spring.  

Chinese medicine has lots to offer in terms of mitigating symptoms of seasonal allergies.  We also love to help folks toward a state of balanced health such that allergies play a smaller and smaller role in their lives, period.  I'll talk a bit about our strategies for treating seasonal allergies, and as always, please get in touch with us here if you have any questions.

Acute Phase

The acute phase is all about managing symptoms.  Acupuncture and herbs are wonderful for treating sinus congestion, fatigue, itchy eyes, cough, etc.   Chinese medicine views an allergen as a "external pathogenic influence".  This is the same way we refer to viral and bacterial infections, however in this case we are talking about an environmental irritant.  

Preventative Care

People are often upset when they come in during allergy season and find out that I wanted to see them two months ago!!  In order to build the body's natural defenses and avoid the affects of seasonal allergies (or at least lessen them) we really need to begin our work ahead of time.  Patients that are diligent will begin scheduling appointments just BEFORE Spring begins so that we can give the body time to prepare.

Deeper Healing

The bottom line in treatment of seasonal allergies, is that the healthier the person, the less likely they are to be influenced negatively by environmental irritants.   For instance, if a person is already experiencing higher than normal levels of inflammation in the body, the introduction of an irritant will cause far more significant symptoms than it would in a healthy person.  At the end of the day, we want to employ Chinese medicine to move us closer to a state of optimum health, such that we resist damage from any source.  Or that if we do experience damage, we are more quick to bounce back.  And for that, you can come in any time of year to get started!

Hope everyone is loving this gorgeous season!!  And if you're not, due to allergies, lets see if we can turn that around!


First Time in a Float Tank by: Leah McKellop

First Time in a Float Tank

 Flotation tanks go by a number of names, including isolation tanks, sensory deprivation tanks, sensory attenuation tanks.  I’ve known about these tanks since living in Colorado, where they are considered a fairly normal part of health routines.   At first impression floating seem as much like something out of a sci fi movie as out of a health center.  Essentially you get into a person sized pod filled with a carefully monitored saline solution.  It is warm, dark, and silent- essentially a man made womb or maybe a cryogenic sleep chamber for traveling through deep space.   I was a little apprehensive.

My main uneasiness surrounding the pods was claustrophobia, feeling trapped and not getting enough air.  Others I spoke to were concerned about being in total darkness, the panic of not being able to see your hand in front of your face.  These little relaxation space ships seem to bring up a lot of deep rooted fears for people.

Anyways, despite my nervousness,  I finally went floating with my boyfriend/fellow Rolfer, Michael, at a new place that opened up in Braselton, GA.  The center is on Braselton’s main street in an old law office, mostly filled by two pod-style float tanks, each in their own private room. I was still having visions of panicking in darkness on the drive over, but once inside I immediately started to relax.  The owner walked us through the orientation.  We could leave the lid open if we liked, or keep lights on in the tank.  There was an intercom inside the take if we needed anything from her.  She put a water bottle and a wet washcloth inside the pods for each of us in case we got salt in our eyes. Basically you could set yourself up to do full sensory deprivation or float tank-lite.  Michael went for the first option, while I was a little closer to the later. 

In our own rooms we showered, put ear plugs in and stepped into our tanks.  It was exactly 98.6 degrees and felt like a warm blanket.  I pulled down the lid, leaving a little crack open for light and air to come in.  I turned off the inner pod lights and reclined back, immediately floating.  The saline solution is made with Magnesium Sulfate, essentially an extremely concentrated Epsom Salt bath.  Immediately my muscles started twitching and relaxing.  At first I moved around, stretching, twisting and playing around with the feeling of weightlessness.  Then I splashed myself in the eye with that concentrated salt water and decided to try staying still.

I meditated, coming in and out of concentration as I drifted into the sides of the container.  I was expecting the weightlessness of floating to feel like nothing, but in fact I could feel the tensions and twists of my body much more acutely.  I observed as some of that tension released or changed throughout the float.  At times I felt physically uncomfortable. At other times I felt totally relaxed- floating in and out of mediation.  With the tiny bit of light and air I had coming in, I felt perfectly safe.

After an hour had passed the inner tank lights slowly came on and I sat up for the first time to find my body the consistency of jello.  I felt a little wobbly as I showered off the salt and made my way back to the lobby.  My eye lids were heavy, my limbs were weighted and when Michael and I spoke to each other, our voices had dropped an octave thanks to relaxed vocal chords.  It was wonderful.

Michael had a similar experience of floating in an out of deep relaxation and in an out of bodily discomfort.  He was in complete darkness and said he freaked himself out once opening his eyes to nothing, but ultimately he thought the full darkness was helpful to relax.  He had much less room in the tank than I did so he couldn’t move around much, but he also had no issues splashing water into his own eyes. 

There are many touted health benefits, but in my experience, floating was mostly a nice way to calm down my nervous system.  The feeling lasted for days.  If I feel like I need another “reset” I would definitely head back to the tank to unwind.

Anatomy of Trust by Allison Kennamer

As I dive deeper into my own journey of wholehearted living, I continue to be amazed at the truth and depth in Brene Brown’s work.  She has created an online learning community based on her work that takes her books to the next level.

Below is a link to a free online course on Trust, one of the pillars of living from a place of authenticity.  Please, if possible, invest an hour and dive in.  I promise it is worth your time.

The pearls I took from the course the “Anatomy of Trust” are vast. Trust is such an integral part of a relationship but often it’s difficult for me to put my finger on exactly why I do or do not trust someone.  This course gives us a framework to talk about trust.  She has created an acronym that breaks trust down into behaviors.  By looking at these behaviors, we can have a more precise conversation around what part of our trust has been broken and what we need to move forward.  

Below is the acronym BRAVING.  After each letter, there are questions to ask yourself specific to the relationship. 

B is for Boundaries.  Am I clear about my boundaries and hold them?  Does this person honor my boundaries?

R is for Reliability.  Can I depend on this person? Do you do what you say you are going to do? (and not only once).  Our role in being a trustworthy person is being reliable.  That means we must be clear on our limitations so we       don’t fall short on our commitments.

A is for Accountability.  I can only trust you if when you make a mistake you own it, apologize for it and make amends.  In addition, I am allowed the same freedom-- Am I allowed to own it, apologize and make amends? 

V is for Vault.  Is this person trustworthy?  (and trustworthy not only with my secrets)  Is he/she trustworthy of others secrets too or is he/she a gossip?  Does this person share information that is not his/hers to share?  What I share with you -  will you hold it in confidence? And you must be clear that.  What you share with me, will I hold in confidence?

I is for Integrity.  Dr. Brown defines integrity as:

             1- choosing courage over comfort

             2 - choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast and easy

              3 - practicing values, not just professing them

N is for Non-Judgement.  Can I fall apart, ask for help and you don’t judge me? Real trust doesn’t exist if asking for help is not reciprocal and non-judgmental.  

G is for Generosity.  Can you assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions and behaviors and then check in on me.  So, if I mess up, will you call me out on my mess ups?  Can I let you know when I am feeling hurt by you?

Please use these notes as a jumping off point to dive deeper into this journey of Trust.  Learning how to trust others, how to tell others when you no longer trust them and why is the key to lasting authentic relationships.  

Lastly, trust is a two way street.  Maybe even three.  I have to be able to trust you, you must be able to trust me and I must be able to trust myself.  These behaviors can be used as guidepost to learn to trust yourself.  To me, one of the most profound statements of the course was the research revealed that “if I can’t count on myself, I cannot ask others to give me what I don’t have.”  In other words, if you find yourself in struggle with trust, check with yourself first.

A Not-So-Fast-Forward

What does the word blogging even mean? Where did it come from, etymologically speaking? I mean really!!  Don’t we have better things to do with our time?  The word sounds ridiculous. I feel ridiculous doing it. Yet, here I am.  (Exasperated sigh) So let’s dive in.

OK so my brother-in-law forwarded me a video months ago with the subject line “This is pretty neat”.  No further comments were included.

Dude, Bro

I have a forwarded-email backlog dating back to 2012 with articles on and links to... I’m not sure really, I think maybe the secret of lasting peace and the source of enlightenment.  Or maybe it’s recipes and SNL skits...I’ll find out when I finally read them. Regardless I need more than “pretty neat” to tempt me to spend more that 30 seconds on a forward.

So I clicked the video to see if it was by chance 30 seconds long.  Nope. It’s a Ted Talk: 17 minutes long!  See you in 2025, forwarded Ted Talk.  Welcome to the backlog.

But then something weird happened a few days ago. I showed up early to my daughter’s school for pickup. Usually I’m flying in on 2 wheels, five minutes late, having crammed tasks until the very last moment. I wasn’t early enough to squeeze in another errand. I was only about.....17 minutes early (see where this is going?).  So I sat in my car and decided to chip away at the backlog. Yep, you guessed it. I watched the video.

WOW. I mean WOW.

What to say? I guess the only thing I can say is:  This is pretty neat. I hope you’ll find the 17 minutes to watch it.

Breaking up with Facebook

By: Shauna Greeson

Facebook led you to this journal entry. For that I am grateful. And I get the importance of social media to businesses, families, artists, etc... This is just my own personal experience.

Here's my story: What started as a temporary break from social media has been so transformative in my life that I am urged to share. For me it has been the beginning of the end of isolation from myself - of who and what I actually am and a clearer understanding of who and what I could be. These are only my experiences to share. In no way am I suggesting a negative or shaming view of anyone else’s relationship with social media. My intent is to share, not to shame. 

Back in Spring of 2015 I realized that years had gone by with me checking my various social media accounts before turning the lights off at the end of the day and beginning every day the same way. I began to feel like time was being stolen from me and decided right then and there to finally take a break from it all (it was something I'd thought about for a while). It began as an experiment of awareness... Would I miss it? Was I a Facebook addict and would it be like quitting any other addiction? What would actually happen in my daily life if I deactivated all of it and became fully present to what was actually right in front of me?... 

Guess what? The Earth, the Sun and the Moon still did their thing. As time passed and my awareness grew I started writing down the changes. The list was surprising to me. Here's what I noticed:

Mornings were different, less rushed as I suddenly had extra time. Selfies and stalking ceased. Work was different and became more productive... So. Much. More. Time... - as if the day had more hours in it. I gained the ability to focus on how I relate to the World around me without an undercurrent of what my 300+ 'friends' might think (I was unaware of the undercurrent until I was free of it). Suddenly, I was forming autonomous thoughts free of peer pressure or fear of judgment. Speaking of friends... I actually have less than ten friendships that are nurtured regularly and feel very blessed to have that many. Those relationships are now richer and brighter because of the extra time and intention I have. I've noticed an increase in reading books as well as more time spent creating things- music, art, jewelry, phone calls to friends and family... 

You know, the most important thing I'm taking from this experiment is this: The understanding that  I once believed that my importance was effected and even gauged by cyber likes and the most flattering angle of a camera lens. Today I know that is a lie. My importance is measured by my usefulness to the Earth and to others.

It's been over 6 months and I can honestly say that for metaking a break from social media has been a wonderful change in my daily life that I think I'll hold on to. I don't miss it like I thought I would and it was much easier to let go of than I expected. All in all it has enriched my... well, my everything. 




TCM and Pregnancy Care: Before, During and After

by: Tony Galis

When we were pregnant with our first child, one of the things that struck me was how in the dark we felt going into birth and raising children. Here is an activity that 74% of adults in this country engage in (Gallup, 2013), along with countless ancestors (your parents did it, guaranteed), and we have almost no generational knowledge base to support us in the process.

Traditional or indigenous medical systems have typically preserved significant wisdom and practical application of that wisdom pertaining to pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one such system and, as a practitioner, I would like to give a brief overview of how Chinese medicine can offer critical support and intervention before, during, and after pregnancy.

First, it’s important to recognize that this knowledge comes from direct clinical experience accumulated over thousands of years of caring for patients in all stages of life. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system that treats all kinds of conditions in every aspect of the population. Although it is sometimes mislabeled as such, this is not an “alternative” health system being extrapolated on to address women’s concerns around having children. This is an ancient life-science which has been intimately engaged at every step of the birth process since the beginning of our days on earth.

(Note: Though Acupuncture is the most commonly known modality within Chinese medicine, it is certainly not the only one. In our practice, we just as often employ herbal medicine, diet/lifestyle therapy, cupping, and moxibustion among other modalities, in treatment.)


TCM’s role in enhancing fertility is well-known and well-documented. Most large fertility clinics in major cities across the world employ acupuncturists in order to increase chances of success.  Chinese medicine has the ability to prepare the body for pregnancy by determining the (often sub-clinical) imbalances that are making pregnancy difficult. Once these imbalances are corrected, the body often responds with success.  


During pregnancy, TCM continues to care for the expectant mother through the ups and downs of life, while preserving the gift in the womb. Aches and pains, colds and flus, long standing conditions that persist through pregnancy all need to be continually addressed, and a natural medicine offers gentle and effective treatment. Thousands of years of clinical consistency provide clarity on exactly which interventions are appropriate during pregnancy and which are not.

Problems specific to pregnancy are also treated quite effectively with Chinese medicine.  Nausea and loss of appetite so common in the first trimester respond well to treatment. And during the third trimester, when fluid retention can cause additional inflammation and physical pain, TCM can help reduce swelling and address injury.

There are two specific applications of Chinese medicine during pregnancy which are helpful in turning a baby to a more favorable position, and labor induction/ripening. There is a long history of both of these treatments being used successfully and we see significant results when they’re applied at the right time during pregnancy.

Postpartum care

This is perhaps Chinese medicine’s greatest contribution to the mother and her family…it is also often the most overlooked. The need for postpartum care remains one of the most significant oversights in women’s health and I am continually surprised in the clinic when I trace a particularly stubborn health concern back to poor care following childbirth. The problem stems from, quite simply, a lack of understanding.

Chinese medicine has more tools that support a woman after childbirth than can be mentioned in a blog post. But, its biggest strength may be its recognition of the need for care. A midwife once commented to me that childbirth is the Mt. Everest of physiological function. Well said. If that were the end of the process, it would still require intensive recovery. But of course, childbirth is just the beginning of the process. Breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and adapting to new family structures can take a significant toll on a woman who is already recovering from the most physically demanding event she may likely ever experience. The importance of postpartum care simply cannot be overstressed.

At Thrive Integrative Medicine, we have multiple practitioners who focus a sizeable portion of their practice on the care of women in pregnancy, through childbirth, and into the postpartum period. If there is any way we can serve you, please let us know. And as always, feel free to come by or contact us with questions.

Happy Birthing!


Healing the Wounds of War, Breath by Breath

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“Healing the Wounds of War, Breath by Breath” - Yoga Warriors International

By Michelle Arington

Recently I had the enormous privilege to attend Yoga Warriors teacher training at Active Sol Yoga in Atlanta. Dharma Richards, a Hatha-Raja and Kundalini Yoga instructor, and founder of Yoga Garden in Cary, NC guided our group of 13 compassionate and eager-to-serve yogis through the training with passion, elegance and grace. The Yoga Warrior method, created by Lucy Cimini, is firmly grounded in the science of yoga, and offers a unique trauma-sensitive approach that is designed specifically for veterans, active military personnel, and first responders that are suffering from the psychological, emotional and physical impact of trauma. The mission of Yoga Warriors is “to alleviate symptoms of combat stress (COSR), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and increase the resilience of critical task performers working in high stress environments, including affected caregivers and family members by providing evidence-based yoga and mindfulness practices.”

While it is difficult to determine how many veterans are suffering from PTSD, according to current studies, it is estimated that 20% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan combat troops meet the criteria of PTSD and/or depression and 11% of Vietnam veterans still suffer with symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Less than 50% of veterans actually seek treatment and many, many others go undiagnosed. Symptoms may include anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, numbing, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, irritability, headaches, chronic pain, exaggerated startle response, lack of concentration and a feeling of detachment. Alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, inability to maintain employment, homelessness and suicide can be the devastating consequences of PTSD left untreated.

Trauma is imprinted in the body and can leave those suffering stuck in a perpetual loop of “fight or flight.” The nurturing environment of a Yoga Warrior session can help them safely dissolve and release these memories in ways that traditional talk therapy may not. By creating a safe, supportive environment and through the use of the cognitive-behavioral technique of repeating positive affirmations while practicing carefully chosen yoga postures and breathing techniques, students are better able to cultivate positive thoughts, attitudes and experiences that promote inner peace, resiliency and greater vitality. Gently guiding students back to their body and breath with non-judgmental awareness brings them back to the present moment and gives them the power to evoke the relaxation response, calming and balancing the autonomic nervous system, and allowing the mind to safely associate the body with pleasant sensations. Yoga Warrior students report reduced anxiety, anger, pain and stress, ability to recognize and safely release emotions, increased ability to self-regulate, reduction of intrusive thoughts, improvement in sleep quality, decreased hyper vigilance, and increased self-acceptance and self-esteem.

While yoga does not replace traditional therapy methods as a treatment for PTSD, it can be a powerful and necessary complimentary practice. According to Bessel van der Kolk , trauma expert and professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, “Yoga is part of the overall healing process. Learning to tolerate and be curious about dreaded physical sensations gives people a sense of mastery. The visceral experience of mastery, involving emotions and sensations, provides new resources of energy, and the capacity to take effective action. Somatic experiencing, with an intuitive knowledge that there is a natural flow in and out of emotions, opens up an appetite for even deeper experiencing.”

**To learn more about the Yoga Warrior Method or to schedule private or group sessions please contact Michelle Arington, or call 706-850-2000.

* October 2016 Yoga Warrior Graduates

What does the THRIVE symbol mean?

Hello everyone. It’s me. Jana. Blogging again. I am a blogger. I’m coming to accept that.   Acceptance is so much gentler than resistance. But that’s a subject for another time.

Today I want to talk to y’all about the Thrive Symbol. You know the one? It’s on our sign, Facebook page, website, shirts, cards...  You love it but you don’t know why.  You may even love it so much you secretly tattooed it somewhere on your body. (If so, DEFINITELY come show us for some serious hook ups...and maybe also seek therapy)

Well, today is the day that we will finally unveil the mystery of: “WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?!?”

And while I’m at it I should probably apologize if it was implied that the symbol is a legitimate Chinese character. It’s totally not. We made it up. And by “we” I mean my husband and business partner Tony.

It’s significance is pretty interesting though (at least I think so). It was created by Tony while he and I were in Chinese medical school together.  He envisioned a drawing which would represent the Three Treasures transforming within the Human Body

Wait, what?! We have treasures inside us?? Yes, young grasshopper, we do. 

Basically the idea is if you were to take the entire spectrum of Human composition, from the most solid to the most ethereal, and divide this into into three, you would have the 3 treasures.  Body Mind and Spirit is the current catch phrase for this idea. But it’s an ancient and fundamental concept in Chinese Medicine.

The Three Treasures are known as Jing, Qi and Shen. Jing is the most physically dense of the three. It is the entire basis of our bodies.  It is our essence.  The individual nature of our Jing has to do with our constitution and is influenced by our Ancestral inheritance.  And hence in modern terms can be loosely seen to include our genetic material and it’s potential, though it is much more than that.  Qi!!! Wow. Trying to translate Qi is probably THE bane of my existence.  No it’s not. That’s a huge exaggeration. Anyway. For the sake of this being a blog I will stick to the cop-out watered-down version and say it’s “life-force” or “breath of life.”  It is not made of matter and therefore our culture generally struggles to conceptualize it. But all Life has Qi.  Let’s leave that there for now. And Shen means Spirit. Our Human Spirit. THE Spirit.  That Spirit that no one can define, though we can all perceive It in our own ways.

The Three Treasures are inseparable and interchangeable.  There is a process of internal alchemy within us whereby these transform into each other in different centers of our body. These “centers” are the Three Dan Tian.  Similar to the Chakra system, the Dan Tian are non-anatomical areas where very important processes occur.  I say non-anatomical to imply you can’t SEE them when you cut a body open.  Therefore you as a Westerner you are probably experiencing a healthy degree of skepticism at this point.  To that I will say; you can’ t see Love either and I’m pretty darn sure it exists.  Ironically it is often the things I have no physical proof of that are the mostmeaningful for me...but I digress.

Jing becomes Qi in our Lower Dan Tian, Qi becomes Shen in our MiddleDan Tian, and Shen becomes Wuji in our Upper Dan Tian.  New Vocab! What’s the Wuji?! Oo la la this is a fun one.  The term Wuji first appears in a (ca. 4th century BCE) Daodejing context about returning to one's original nature.  It can be translated as ‘limitless’, ‘the void’, ‘Infinity,’ and (my personal favorite) the ‘ultimate of beinglessness.’  OK. Hold up a sec. Are you getting this visual!? There’s this HUGE Universe of Wuji and it is not separate from us but we actually participate in it’s creation and it’s manifestation within us. WOW.

And if that doesn’t blow your mind; check this out.  Jing, Qi and Shen are all different states of the same thing.  Like water can be solid, liquid or vapor? So can these Treasures be varying states of consistency.  And in these states have different functions.  I’m not going to get into the specifics of these functions because I’m worried I may lose my audience here soon.

And there’s a little more.  Look back at the diagram.  You see the Taiji pole? Looks like a big lightening rod? It kinda is. Within our body it runs right down the center from the top of our head to our perineum.  It’s ever so loosely associated with the spine. For the sake of this blog let’s think of it like lightening rod that works in TWO directions. It is the connection between The Wuji (Heaven) and our bodies (Earth).

Then all this amazing stuff is wrapped up in the beautiful package that is our physical bodies.  The outer limit of which is called the ‘Wei Qi.’  Again, loosely associated with our skin and immune system.  It is where we end and the rest of the world begins. But because there is no absolute ending to us (as we are connected to everything) the Wei Qi is also like the dynamic interface of our inner and outer experience.

Are you still reading this? I’m so so so impressed. 

So Tony had all of this understanding of these concepts and basically thought up a way to draw it.  He took this idea to Joanna Zhao, the founder and director of our University, who is also a talented Doctor, Chinese Medical Practitioner and Classical Chinese Calligrapher.  She created a beautiful rendition of this, which hangs in our office.  When we opened Thrive we made a digital version as our logo.

We wanted this to be the symbol our Thrive because that is where we see the landscape of our work taking place.  In these transformations, these alchemical rarifying and solidifying processes through the entire spectrum of Human Experience.

Pretty cool, eh? Now you actually ARE considering that tattoo, aren’t you?

In all seriousness, I just love this paradigm of seeing the world and our place in it. And we here at Thrive feel honored to be part of your journey through it all, in any way we can. 

Thanks for your time and attention.  Wishing you peace everyday.