Last weekend, I was catching up with a girlfriend when she said something kind of shocking. “I know this is controversial,” she confided in a hushed tone, “but I love January.”

She doesn’t ski or snowshoe or get anything special out of the season.

She loves January for the same reason most people – including me—tend to hate itit’s super yin.

It’s dark. It’s cold.

Nature is quiet and seemingly dormant. And because we are a part of nature (though it’s easy to forget when we live inside and online) it can be harder to get motivated to do things.

In January, she argued, “it feels OK to do things like sleep late, stay inside all day, not talk to anyone, and take a nap. If this was my day in July, I’d judge myself.”

Uh, yeah. In our yang-addicted society that glorifies productivity, speed, efficiency, doing, and hustling, it can be easy to judge ourselves for “giving in” to the desire to rest, to nap, to just chill. It can even feel morally wrong.

But in January, doing less than you’re humanly capable of is seasonally appropriate. Once upon a time, your life may have even depended on it: if we didn’t conserve scarce resources like fuel and food, (literally the opposite of burning the candle at both ends) we would likely die in winter, as nature is not exactly supplying these in abundance.

Slowing down, doing less, and giving ourselves permission to rest – especially when we’re managing a lot – is essential. This is the heart of true self-care.

We need good deep rich, juicy yin (sleep, rest, inward, quiet, cool) to have good strong, vibrant yang (creative, warm, expansive, transformative) energy. But apart being a necessary counterpoint to the always-moving, relentless drumbeat of productivity that culture prizes and making a living often demands, we need some Big Yin January Energy for its own sake.

When we give ourselves permission to slow down, it’s easier to be better stewards of our bodies – and each other. We’re able to do things like:

  • Relax, get into parasympathetic mode, and heal. These things don’t happen very well when we’re stressed.
  • Be able to sense the sublte: like feel tension in our lower backs and be able to stretch it in just the right way to allow it to open up again: true self-healing qi gong, or
  • Stop eating when we’re 80% full, for optimal digestion and thus gut health, immune health, and overall energy
  • Sense reactivity in ourselves, thus being able to manage that reactivity, not blow up at people we love, gain deeper understanding of what’s triggering us so we can tone that down and keep our equanimity
  • Sense changes in other people’s voices or body language, allowing us to inquire about and better understand and empathize with their experience, thus enhancing our connections
  • Increase our ability to be present with and appreciate the present moment, thus waking up to our lives.

Since hearing of the passing of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist spiritual teacher, international ambassador of mindfulness and peace, I’ve been re-reading and listening to his teachings, among them that “true presence is the first act of love.”

We access true presence when we meet the present moment with as much mindful awareness as possible.

Whether we are sitting in meditation, moving in meditation like qi gong or yoga, washing the dishes, or eating a meal, we have the opportunity to practice giving that moment our full attention. And presence is the greatest gift we can give each other — and ourselves — especially when we are struggling.

So welcoming in the Big Yin January Energy is important.

But what if you still want to get things done?

As I’ve been suggesting, low motivation this time of year might not be a problem in that we’re part of nature and subject to its cycles.

It might also be a sign that that

  • you’re fighting something off (your immune system is busy),
  • that you haven’t been digesting well (converting food into energy isn’t going well – simplify! Make soup!),
  • that that we’re almost three years into an exhausting, isolating global pandemic (long-term stress depletes your reserves)
  • the existential resignation over the state of the world and the collapse of American democracy, (the consciousness leads the energy),
  • or that you’re dealing with depression (mind-body-spirit connection is real) –all real, serious worthy of our utmost compassion towards ourselves, and attention.

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, qi gong, nourishing food, good sleep hygiene may all be important; I’m here to help if you need me – just hit reply and let me know what’s up.

I am all about giving you – and myself– permission to do less. But I also feel most alive and vital when I’m learning and growing in some way. I’ve had a bunch of continuing education classes I’ve enrolled in but haven’t completed for almost a year that I’ve been putting off. It’s felt kind of daunting to spend a weekend in class, even when it’s cold and rainy outside.

So I pretended I was one of my coaching clients and did 3 things:

1) I broke down the big, daunting thing into small digestible pieces. Rather than summoning the will to dedicate a whole weekend day to knocking it out, I decided I was going to take these classes in twenty- to sixty-minute chunks.

2) I put these class time chunks on my calendar.

3) I reduced friction: instead of having to log into the website, find a document to take notes in, O I have both the class tab and a word document open on my computer, so it’s just as easy to jump into class as it is to surf over to Facebook or play Wordle.

Not only am I over my resistance to doing these classes, I look forward to spending that time. Plus, I’m back in touch with the excitement and desire to help people that I felt when I first signed up.

Maybe there’s something you’ve been meaning to get off your plate but have been putting off. How could you make the big thing smaller? How could you reduce friction? Then commit: get it on your calendar and honor your commitment to yourself just as you would a meeting with a work colleague or your doctor.

May you receive and appreciate all the yin yumminess the season has to offer, while moving effortlessly in the direction of your goals.


We’re over a year into this global pandemic and if you’re anything like my clients and patients,

You’ve been feeling a little less sparkly than you’d like.

You’re tired of being stuck in this holding pattern and the less than stellar habits that have crept in (when will we be “back to normal?”)

You’re ready to get onto a NEW normal – one that has you feeling a little less like face mask that hasn’t been washed in 10 months and a bit more fresh and vibrant.

You’re can kinda make out the light at the end of the tunnel, but still kinda dragging a$$, leaning hard into the coffee and comfort food.

​It’s understandable. Pandemic fatigue is real.

A great way to press the reset button is through a seasonal cleanse. And spring is a great time for it according to Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. Like spring cleaning from the inside out.

I resisted this concept for a long time, because I “tried that already” back n my early twenties and “it didn’t work.” In fact, it had the opposite of the desired effect.

woman saying "HARD PASS" and blinking

From my own failed attempt, and watching my friends, my understanding of how a cleanse worked was something like this:

Step 1 – Buy a bunch of random detox supplements from the natural food store

Step 2 – Not knowing what was OK to eat, I go with the spicy maple syrup lemonade all day (remember the Master cleanse, anyone?)

Step 3 – Despite drinking 2 liters of the lemonade, feel dehydrated, spacey, cold, and weak by mid-afternoon.

Step 4 – Sit down to a salad for dinner, feeling cold resentful. Angrily eat the salad. Feel unsatisfied (physically and emotionally).

Step 5– Push myself to continue for 5 more days, because I’m disciplined and this is supposed to be good for me.

Step 6– Promptly get a cold and give up.

My misguided, ill-informed approach to cleaning left me cranky, exhausted, hungry, frustrated, sick, and guilty all at once. Which led me to

Step 7: conclude “this isn’t for me“.

Can you relate?

I’ve heard some pretty alarming stories about cleansing.

Friends who starved themselves for days,
suffered immense full body aches, headaches, and felt out of their bodies.

Folks who took way too much of the wrong supplements and couldn’t poop for days.

And of course, those who have been stuck in the potentially dangerous cycle of dieting under the guise of detox – yo-yo-ing between the disordered eating patterns of bingeing and starvation.

Without the right support, and the right structure, cleansing can mess you up.

But done correctly, it could well be exactly the thing your body is craving right now.

d "elements of the cleanse," "flushing ama"," and elements of the cleanse

My friend Carly is leading an Ayurvedic cleanse that lasts 3 weeks. (So I don’t have to! Yay!)

And this isn’t a 3-week “take these vitamins and starve yourself, then go back to what you were doing before and promptly feel like crap again” detox.

The 21-day Ayurveda cleanse will teach you a ton of simple daily tools for every day self care, that you can use all year-round.

The kind of simple tools that:

  • Give you all day energy + solid night’s sleep (no more #zombiemode) without relying on caffeine and sugar.
  • Get your digestion right, and your bowels moving healthfully (tmi I know, but healthy poops matter.)
  • Help you kick unhealthy cravings to the curb (buhbye blackout snacking, it’s not me it’s you).
  • Improve the clarity of your thoughts (as well as your skin!)

Here’s how this kinder, gentler, cleanse works:

Week 1: slowly dialing back the heavy stuff, removing some of the poor quality foods and other energy drains currently burdening your system

Week 2: a week of plant-based cleansing (but still completely delicious) foods, and specific practices to moving toxins out of your bod,

Week 3 a week of easing back into a new version of normal – lighter, clearer, happier.

It all starts April 9.

Cleaning is really about simplifying digestion enough so that we can let go of the undigested crud that’s been gunking up the works. In Chinese Medicine, we call this “dampness” or “phlegm;” in Ayurveda, it’s “ama,” stemming from improper diet, mental and emotional overload.

Carly gets that we need time to process all of this, so she’ll encourage you to take time and space to digest the old stuff while you simplify your nourishment.

You’ll get a 60-page recipe guide, grocery shopping lists, group calls for community support, and even some Emotional Freedom Technique / tapping practice.

Not having to worry about how about what to eat for three solid weeks is its own form of simplifying.

Check out all the details of this kinder, compassionate cleanse here.

Spring is Liver season in Chinese medicine, which means it’s a great time to lighten up your diet, but also time to detoxify your life from what’s no longer working. This allows your qi to funnel into what you want to grow in your life. For me, what hasn’t been working for a long time is pushing myself to do too much. More on that next time. What are you ready to let go of? And what plants in your life’s garden do you want to grow?

Note: I only promote other people’s programs who I know and trust and would participate in myself. I’ve known Carly for years, had her on my podcast, and am so grateful that she’s leading this thing because I don’t have the bandwidth for it. If you sign up through my link, I’ll get to share in the profit at no extra cost to you.

There are ZERO daily push-ups or ice buckets involved, I promise.

My challenge to myself, and to you is this:

If you’re like me, simply DOING LESS is wicked hard because

A) I pride myself on getting things done and

B) Overfunctioning is how I manage stress: it’s a survival strategy I adopted early on

C) Staying in motion is often easier than resting and feeling what’s there to feel: the worry about the upcoming election, the gross mismanagement of the pandemic, the wildfires and the climate crisis they represent, all the things that are scary, maddening, frustrating, and heart-breaking.

Yet it’s critical that we not be in go-mode all the time. There are limits to our reserves, and yet most of us have been tapping into these reserves to adapt to this unprecedented year again and again.

When those reserves start to run dry, we experience burnout. In Episode 200 (yes, 200!!!) of my podcast, A Healthy Curiosity, we talk how to move from burnout to breakthrough. I share some of my own story about burnout prevention and recovery and cultivating resilience.

It’s especially critical NOW, at this stage in the pandemic that we stop operating in varying degrees of overwhelm and overwork, as it’s become clear that we need to stay the course not for a few weeks or a few months, but for the indefinite future.

And while you might have initially jumped into Emergency Mode reconfiguring your life back in March, continuing to operate in this gear is untenable: your hormones, digestion, sleep, immmunity, pain levels, and mental/ emotional state could all be adversely impacted.

One way I see this showing up for my clients and patients is acedia: spiritual apathy, numbness, lack of care about one’s self, soul, and purpose. Pausing long enough to recognize and experience what it is we’re feeling can help snap us out of acedia, and the numbing behaviors that perpetuate it.

What does this have to do with fall, you may wonder? Because this is the season where nature moves from yang mode (busy, active, hot, moving, expressive) to yin: restful, quiet, cool, still, inward, conserving. If our ancestors didn’t start conserving food, fuel, and energy, they might not have survived the winter.

This short video I created a few years back offer some practical tips on how to do that. It still applies, with one critical exception specific to our Covid situation: we need to counterbalance the natural downward-inward tendencies this time of year with our very real need as humans to stay connected to each other.

Creating new habits and routines that can help you fill up the well to feel calm, confident, content, and energized can be especially tough if you’re already stressed or suffering from acedia. It’s way easier with help.

As always, I’m here to support you in taking good care of yourself on all levels: body, mind, spirit. I’ve added additional hours to my acupuncture clinic schedule: call 541-757-4868 to get on it. And I have room in my coaching calendar for two people looking the upgrade their energy, confidence, and daily routines. Hit reply to raise your hand if that’s you.

With love,


Me, doing less, outside