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December 2020 Edition

What's New

Though you can't see it happening, every minute of the day we lose about 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells off the surface of our skin. That's almost 9 pounds of cells every year! Talk about change....we are constantly changing.

Navigating Change in Uncertain Times

Here's a truth we're all facing: none of us is invincible against the winds of change. But we also don't have to be defenseless. When confronted by tumultuous times, as we have been in 2020, we each have the power to make choices that can move us through uncertainty and difficulty.

Regardless of how change happens - whether by your own action or in-action or due to circumstances beyond your control - it's important to "dig deep" and become fully aware of your needs and your fears. This self-awareness allows you to more easily accept what is, clarify priorities, and identify new strategies that help us flourish and meet needs that matter most.

When we allow fear to drive our actions, we become defensive, often taking sides and disregarding different points of view. We see this happening within families and social organizations, between political and religious institutions, and in our online social networks. Fear promotes unclear thinking and makes us reactive as opposed to being consciously and intentionally responsive. We do things just to get them done, without considering the timing or consequences of our actions. This is how we become a victim of our circumstances. Only when we are self-aware, grounded emotionally and mentally, can we spark hope in even the most chaotic and challenging moments.

Often we hear of people who soar through adversity: The surfer who lost a limb in a shark attack at age sixteen, only to win the biggest surfing championship event a year later. The person who lost everything in a natural disaster, only to rebuild her life and her community in the year to follow. Siblings held captive by their own relatives, only to escape and go on to lead empowering lives and have healthy families of their own. What characteristics do these people possess? Clearly, they are resilient. Where does it come from? What makes up this type of resilience? Research points to a number of attributes:

Self-worth. People who beat adversity are aware of themselves as actualized beings who, no matter what, can exert influence over their situation, even in the smallest way. They believe in their innate goodness, no matter how bad their circumstance; in other words, they recognize their own self-worth.

Realistic Optimism. They don't expect to be rescued by a superhero. While they have dark days, they don't let that darkness infiltrate their mind and heart. They hold onto hope of a better tomorrow and stay focused on how to create that.

Grit. Survivors of hardship display grit: a combination of resilience and perseverance. They don't succumb to the mental trap of worrying about the future or holding on to what was lost from the past. Since we can't go back and change what was, nor predict the future, worry over either of these is a disempowering loss of energy. After the initial shock of whatever has come their way, Grit-y people have the ability to manage their emotions and see hardship as an opportunity for growth and to explore new possibilities. They stay focussed on the choices that are within their power and formulate plans, in the smallest steps, to move toward a new future (perseverance).

Relationships. We encounter chaos in life in many ways: losing a job, an unexpected medical diagnosis, or civil unrest and feeling unsafe in our own community. Seventy years worth of research shows there's one thing that consistently contributes to our health and happiness: Good relationships. Feeling connected to others proffers many health benefits such as helping the nervous system relax, supporting brain health, and reducing intensity of emotional and physical pain. If you aren't close with family, a support system can help you manage chaos. This can be a personal coach, counselor, spiritual advisor, friend, or formal support group.


Food for Thought. . .

"The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude." - Oprah Winfrey

Persimmon: a Nutritious, Fruity Gem

Persimmon is an Asian specialty or "rare" fruit, available in several varieties, classified broadly by sweetness or astringency. Two of the most common are Fuyu and Hachiya.

Persimmons are packed with antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants can help counteract oxidative stress in the body, which has been linked to inflammation and certain chronic diseases. They also contain a good amount of fiber, which is good for the gut, as well as manganese, a trace mineral that helps support the nervous system.

Fuyu persimmon is a short, squat fruit that almost resembles an orange tomato. Best eaten when firm and raw, it's ideal for salads, adding a splash of color and delightful sweetness. You might enjoy adding persimmon to smoothie bowls or even to a turkey or egg-white sandwich. For dessert, try the Fuyu persimmon with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of frozen whipped topping or Greek yogurt.

Hachiya persimmon is longer than the Fuyu and is somewhat heart-shaped. It's quite bitter until soft and very ripe. Enjoy ripe, alongside other foods, spooned directly from the fruit, much like one would a halved kiwi. Hachiya persimmons are high in tannins which makes them astringent (bitter, drying). It also means you should not eat too many raw Hachiyas on an empty stomach because they can turn into an indigestible mass in your intestines. Follow these three rules for enjoying Hachiya persimmon.

  1. Freeze, dry, or mechanically whip the fruit in a blender before using.
  2. Place fruit in a bag in a warm place for a few days before using to break down the tannins.
  3. Always pair Hachiya persimmons with other foods.

Persimmon is available in the winter months and it can be fun to experiment with their unique flavor.


Vegan Persimmon Cookies

These moist, scrumptious, and delicately sweet persimmon cookies are light enough for a mid-morning snack and perfect as an after-dinner treat with a cup of tea. As the cookies bake, your kitchen will fill with the aroma of nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon and you'll be swept right into the spirit of the holiday season.


  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, or coconut oil (solid form)
  • 1/2 cup Fuyu persimmon puree, about 1 persimmon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup raisins or cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oat and almond flours, coconut sugar, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well.
  4. Cut in vegan butter until the mixture becomes crumbly.
  5. Add persimmon puree and vanilla, and mix well to form a dough.
  6. Fold in raisins and walnuts. If your mixture is too dry, add more puree.
  7. Drop by teaspoonful onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 12 -15 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling and crisp up.


The Calming Power of Passionflower

For centuries, the unusual looking violet and white passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has been used as a calming botanical treatment. Its use dates back to the Aztecs in Central America who used parts of the vine to treat insomnia. Native Americans used it to soothe inflammation in wounds. Spanish conquistadors brought passionflower to Europe and from there it made its way to North America. As the herb traveled the world, new uses were discovered. It has been used as a calming tonic for babies during weaning, to tame anxiety, and to support a general state of relaxation. Today, passionflower has therapeutic uses as a gentle sedative to reduce anxiousness and as a sleep aid.

The exact pathways through which passionflower brings about calming effects are still being studied. We know that some compounds in passionflower bind to the same areas of brain cells affected by a neurotransmitter known as GABA. Like GABA, passionflower soothes the nervous system by reducing activity in certain brain cells, resulting in a relaxation response.

There are many ways to use passionflower: loose leaf and bagged tea, capsule or tablet, and tincture. Drowsiness and dizziness can occur when taking passionflower. When taken with other medications, it can increase the effects of those medications. Passionflower also contains compounds that can stimulate the uterus, so it is not suitable for pregnant women. Before using passionflower in any form, consult with a holistic physician or experienced herbalist.


Vitamin E: Potent Antioxidant and Much More

Many people are surprised to learn that "vitamin E" is not a single vitamin. It's actually a collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds. Naturally occurring vitamin E exists in eight unique chemical forms: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol. Each has varying levels of biological activity, and it's best to take as a complex, (usually listed on a supplement label as "mixed tocopherols") for maximum benefit. Vitamin E is found naturally in some foods, added to many food products (as a preservative), and is available as a dietary supplement.

In the body, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is involved in immunity, cellular communication, and other metabolic processes. As an antioxidant, vitamin E works extremely well to protect cells from damage - one of the reasons why it is also used as a food preservative. This antioxidant activity can potentially protect against the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

You can get the recommended amount of vitamin E by eating a variety of foods including:

  • Vegetable oils like wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower oils
  • Nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, and, especially, almonds) and seeds (sunflower seeds)
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli

Because the digestive tract requires fat to absorb vitamin E, people with fat-malabsorption disorders are more likely to become deficient. Some people may need a vitamin E nutritional supplement.

When you shop for a supplement look for "mixed tocopherols" on the label. Many supplements use only the d-alpha-tocopherol part of vitamin E and it is better to use the entire complex, similar to how it occurs in food.

Vitamin E supplements have the potential to interact with several types of medications. It's best to speak with your holistic doctor before adding any supplement to your nutrition regimen.


Elevating Self-Awareness with "Shadow Journaling"

When it comes to journaling, many people have a tendency to write down what they want or hope to be true or even what they think should be true. The more difficult work in journaling, perhaps even the scary work, is to write about what is actually true for a given situation, for the relationships in our lives, and for the relationship with one's self. Without a doubt, it's much easier to sweep what we don't want to see or acknowledge into the shadows. But this is not the true purpose of journaling, which is intended to elevate self-awareness by providing a safe passage deeper into the shadows to reveal what you need to see in yourself, in others, and in your life. You might call this type approach "Shadow Journaling." Here's an example:

Let's say you're journaling about a relationship that's not going well with. The psyche's protective tendency is to write down just the facts - who did and said what, when, and the feelings it conjured up (angry, sad, disappointed). To go deeper, try exploring beyond the situation and superficial reactions: is there something you dislike about the other person? Name and describe that in as much detail as you can. And remember, sometimes we dislike in others something that is part of our own make-up. You may discover that as you explore the issue and your feelings.

Consider the benefits of this type of honest probing through journaling:

  • garnering more meaningful self-awareness
  • developing/enhancing resilience
  • lowering reactivity in stressful situations
  • reducing mental and emotional stress
  • promotes emotionally healing
  • helps you see the "you in me, and the me in you"
  • helps you make better choices
  • deepens understanding of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior

The format for this type of journaling matters less than the fact that you are honest in your exploration of people, situations, thoughts, and feelings. You might use bullet points, collage of pictures and keywords, free writing, or prompts. Here are a few tools for journaling out of the shadows and into the light.

Journaling for Self-Awareness provides three tips for seeing yourself more clearly and identifies journaling traps that can hinder the benefits of the process.

Search Pinterest for journaling images and written prompts. Using the search phrases "journaling for self-awareness," "self-discovery journaling prompts" yields interesting tools to facilitate journaling. Also, google for guided journaling prompts such as these for self-discovery.

Use a guided journaling book. There are many out there. A favorite is a series by author Sarah Ban Breathnac: Simple Abundance, Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self, and Romancing the Ordinary. Other guides you might explore include Layers of Meaning-Elements of Visual Journaling (Rakefet Hadar); Shadow Journal: Find Your Inner-self by Journaling for Self-discovery and Transformation (D.S. Park).

Techie journaling options. While we advocate for the pen and paper journaling method for the most benefit, journaling apps have their place and can be used alone, but to garner the depth that truly brings about self-discovery you'll want to combine with traditional methods. Check out these in iTunes or Android: Perspective, Jour, Reflect, DiveThru.

If you've experienced trauma, PTSD or abuse, please consult with your healthcare provider before initiating a journaling practice such as shadow journaling. Emotional support is vital when shining a light onto the negative or dark corners of our lives.

Guiding Principles

The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.       
Julianne Forbes, ND

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Julianne M. Forbes, N.D. LLC · 120 N. Bridgton Rd. · P.O. Box 167 · N. Bridgton, ME 04057 · USA

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