“To be a successful farmer, one must first know the nature of the soil.” – Xenophon
In our gut lie 100 trillion tiny organisms, an amazing collection of bacteria and yeast that work synergistically with us, not only helping digest food, but impacting body systems from brain health to immunity. Our gut flora is truly the soil of the body, and real health cannot flourish in a garden where the soil has become imbalanced or depleted. At The Strong Woman we explore the research in this area and implement simple strategies – some ancient, some new-fangled – to make sure the gut is operating as the dynamic organ nature intended.
“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” – Frank McCourt
We want a mind that we control, not one that controls us. The challenge in modern life is to feed the mind well, both with the right food and the right thoughts. We seek techniques to free ourselves from old negative entanglements without beating ourselves up about it or seeking perfection. Ideally, we choose our thoughts – whether they be “positive” or “negative,” and we offer our minds rest – both with adequate sleep and through the luxury of space, which we find when we walk or meditate. Gradually we notice the things that make our minds feel strong, and then we make our choices accordingly.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
It’s remarkable how often we do not heed the whispers of the heart, given what an excellent compass it invariably proves to be. The Heart is the Principle that we can feel but not touch. No doctor can take measurements of it. What scientists call the mind-body connection is really the heart-body connection. Put simply, we must feel some enthusiasm for life, and we must feel connected to the part of the universe that genuinely interests us. If you’re struggling to be well, it may be that the Heart is the area of your being that needs the most critical care. The good news is the Heart does not itself become weak or sick – only ignored. Simply by listening to its soft but insistent voice, and acting on its call, we can immediately create an inner healing environment, where all our other wellness efforts receive a powerful burst of energy.
“A strong body makes the mind strong.” – Thomas Jefferson
The body is a collection of many things, including organs, glands and blood, but most of us know it as that framework of fat and musculature that never seems to measure up to society’s expectations of us. And yet our body is also that most critical of things – the vehicle in which we navigate through the world. Ideal weight can manifest as curvy or lean, depending on our genetics and personal preference – but a Strong Woman understands it’s only partly about looks. Ultimately, there’s something thrilling about hiking a mountain, easily lifting a plump toddler, or tossing the groceries into the car. Being physically strong makes us mentally strong, and reminds us that we can do anything.
“Hormonal problems are our bodies trying to tell us that something is wrong.” – Sara Gottfried, M.D.
Our bodies have an amazing network of messengers who work night and day to make sure all our metabolic and energetic systems are operating properly. When our hormones get out of whack – which can happen after a period of intense stress, childbirth or illness — things like maintaining a healthy weight, a sharp mind or a happy demeanor can become a serious struggle, if not downright impossible. For women especially, this piece of the life puzzle must be looked at head-on. If hormonal issues are not recognized or treated, many other efforts towards wellness will be frustratingly ineffective.
“Tidyness is necessary.” – German proverb
Our home is not the first thing we think of when we ponder our health. And yet I have found it to be a remarkable barometer of what is going on in our bodies and minds. It’s hard to feel strong and happy if you’re immersed in an aggressively cluttered or chaotic environment. The home is also the place where we house our relationships, and relationships that are tense or congested will adversely impact the clarity of our hearts and our minds. Focusing deeply on clearing our physical space often opens up insights, or inspires us to take action in some other area. As Marie Kondo has said, “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order too.” The home is the critical hub where the other Principles meet.