Raising a Minimalist

If traveling has taught me one thing it is that happiness is resilient and not dependent on things.  I have seen music and song, laughter and smiles blooming from the most modest of circumstances.  Mothering.com struck a chord in me with “Why I’m Raising a Minimalist” by Sherri Vettel.  Vettel’s message is of self-sufficiency and finding a freedom to focus on what is important in life.

Link to Original Article

Why I am Raising a Minimalist

Our writer explains why she's teaching her children minimalism. While I do not live a completely minimalist lifestyle, there is a certain freedom that I have come to associate with it, a freedom I wish to share with my son.

It’s a freedom to live without superfluous stuff weighing me down; freedom from meaningless items and monotony; freedom to find a passion and a purpose; freedom to focus on what really matters in my life.

Several months ago my family and I were handed a blessing in disguise. We found we needed to make several lifestyle changes and evaluate what we really wanted out of life. My initial reaction was to think about all the stuff that I would have to let go of. My husband, a true minimalist at heart, quickly convinced me otherwise.

Within a few months, we had a pond for an aquaponics venture in our backyard, a nearly constructed chicken coop and more time together as a family — all of which were dreams we had deferred. We now have a plan to start living with less, while opening ourselves up to a fresh way of sorting our day-to-day lives.

Minimalism is defined as “a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise.”

Here’s why I want to raise my son as a minimalist:

1. I want my son to be self-sufficient.

Between the high price tag of wholesome, organic food and the rising cost of living expenses, we decided self-sufficiency is key.

We are slowly teaching our son how to grow and prepare his own food.  He worked on a farm, planted his own seeds and harvested homegrown vegetables. He is watching his father build, create and plan for a better life for ourselves and our community. Our investment in these principles is an investment in his future. He will need less if he has the freedom to do more.

2. I want him to have a zest for life, not money.

Is life worth working 40+ hours a week for a little extra spending money? What lifestyle changes can be made to consume less? I believe self-sufficiency is one answer — if you can do something for yourself, you may not have to pay someone else to do it for you.

Changing my beliefs about money has served as a starting point for me. I began thinking about the money that I spent as energy. Before I purchase anything I ask myself: “Is this where I want my energy to go? Will this purchase help us fulfill our life journey and what we believe in?”

Because of this thinking pattern, my purchases have been wiser. We are working less and have saved money, even though we are paying higher prices for what we value (buying goods from a small business owner may be more expensive, but we no longer spend money on things that are not meaningful).

I hope that teaching my son to appreciate money in this way will help him avoid buying into consumerism and allow him to find financial freedom at a younger age. This freedom will ideally give him a zest for life and going after what he really sees as his purpose.

3. I want him to collect memories, not things.

When I reflect on my childhood, I value the experiences that I had, not the toys that I got to play with. I hope my son will do the same.

I want my son to collect so many memories that he is bursting at the seams with them! He will be the best person that he can be because he tasted new experiences, gained fresh perspectives and stepped outside of his comfort zone a time or two.

To honor this, we are choosing to gift him with these experiences instead of flashy toys. In lieu of gifts, we spend his birthday on an adventure of his choosing. Instead of requesting birthday party presents we encourage donations to a local charity or non-profit. Two Christmases ago we saved for months, and instead of blowing the budget on “things,” we gave him his first passport stamp and went to Costa Rica (he still talks about it even though he was less than two!).

My son has a minimal amount of toys and he is happy. He finds delight in nature and is perfectly content to throw rocks in a pond, make mandalas out of leaves, splash in mud puddles and hike for miles. I have fewer trinkets to organize and he has more opportunity to use his imagination.

Getting rid of the extra toys can be quite freeing too!

4. I want him to appreciate the people in his life.

I am awakened to the fact that in the past I often appreciated ‘things.’ I worked harder for better grades and more money than I did for the people who really mattered in my life. There is no comparison between things and loved ones. Loving people and loving yourself is worth more than all of the material things in the world. I hope my son always remembers this.

John Green summed it up nicely: “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved and people are being used.”

Photo credit: Philippe Put 

Gluta-What?!? Mother of Antioxidants, Five Fast Facts

In preparation for the onslaught of free radical damage coming our way courtesy of the BBQ extravagance made possible by memorial day weekend, we thought it important to introduce you to Glutathione. Glutathione meet people, people meet Glutathione.

Maybe you’ve already met or heard the name passed around town. Glutathione has more nicks than Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen. She is called “Mother of all Antioxidants, Master of Antioxidants, and Your Preeminent Free Radical Scavenger.” She is one of the most talked about supplements in the natural health and medical circles. Rightfully, so too! 131,985 peer reviewed journal articles mention Glutathione.

What exactly is Glutathione? It is a peptide used and made by every cell in your body essential to maintaining a healthy immune system, and fundamental to achieving wellness. Glutathione helps prevent damage to cells by neutralizing harmful molecules generated during energy production while playing a role in processing medications and cancer-causing compounds, and building DNA, proteins, and other important cellular components.

Five things you don’t know about Glutathione:

Glutathione Deficiency Causes

Glutathione deficiency is caused by hard living (think excesses), recurrent infections, chronic physical/mental/emotional stress, injuries, toxic environments including heavy metals, GMOs, Splenda and its artificially sweetening cronies, overuse of antibiotics, and hot dogs (think processed foods).

Glutathione & Anti-aging

Researchers observed mean and maximum life longevity increases of 42% and 44% respectively when blood levels of glutathione were increased in animals. This is a very promising anti-aging treatment.

Glutathione Detoxification

Glutathione binds to heavy metals, toxins, and free radicals caused by our diet and environment and shows them the door. This includes helping rid the body of pernicious mercury.  Additionally, Glutathione helps protect our lungs through an enzymatic metabolic pathway that protects cellular proteins and DNA from oxidation caused by airborne pollutants like cigarette smoke and smog.

Glutathione & Cognitive Function & Cancer

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Disease, and cancer have been linked to a deficiency in Glutathione due to the effects of oxidative damage in its absence.

If you are thinking about righting the wrongs from this weekend…

We, at Thornburg Pediatrics, call her GlutaGut.  We carry it as a supplement in a more absorbent form called S-Acetyl Glutathione carefully manufactured by cGMP certification for purity and efficacy in 200 mg acid-resistant vegetarian capsules. If you would like to give Glutathione a try give us a jingle, slide through, drop a tweet, find us on Facebook, or send us a postie.  

Mother’s Day Monday | A Special Guest Feature by Becky Kimbell

Monday morning. I lurch out of bed late; brew much-needed coffee as I hurriedly attempt to create lunches that will pass the muster of Martha Stewart, Michelle Obama, and oh, yes, my kids; change my kale omelet idea to plain toaster waffles and a juice box in the car; and race to school hoping that I don’t encounter stop lights or radar. The kids run in the school door on time (barely). I breathe, enjoying the drive home in sacred silence. Then I walk through the door and remember with dread: yesterday was Mother’s Day.

In our home Mother’s Day ranks up there with Christmas or birthdays in excitement for the kids. That’s right…the kids. Homemade table decor, party lights, adorable cards, gorgeous fragrant blossoms adorning the breakfast table with a feast prepared for a queen. Right? Almost.

As I walked through the door this fateful Mother’s Day Monday a few years ago, I was greeted with the lingering aroma of scorched eggs and burnt toast. Paper clippings, open glue bottles, puddles of glitter and kiddie scissors remained on the table in the den. Wrapping paper and ribbon spilled out of boxes in the basement. It hit me. Is Mother’s Day really about being a mother? As I began cleaning up the mess in the silence of my own company, I of course felt guilty. Guilty that I selfishly wished I could have just gone away on my own. Guilty that I grumbled to myself about petty things like wasted glue bottles and baked-on glitter left over from creating the treasures my children had proudly presented to me the day before. Guilty that I felt encumbered to now have to prominently incorporate a paper mache penguin into our living room décor. A friend had displayed her children’s creative output in a manner suggesting she had hired a museum curator. Why couldn’t I honor my children in the same way? Surely I would rue the day I underappreciated their talents.

Motherhood and self-doubt go hand-in-hand, as do motherhood and self-reproach. No matter how hard we try, how much we seem to accomplish in a day, or how compassionate, smart, and fit our children are, someone always seems to do it better. We kick ourselves when we don’t measure up to what we feel is the ideal mother – often falsely finding this ideal in each other and competing to reign supreme. It is an endless destructive cycle that makes us all feel terrible at one time or another. Self-criticism is not written in our DNA, and fulfilling our needs and desires is not selfish or unmotherly.

Our kids grow up so fast; mine are now in high school. This year on Mother’s Day Monday I scooped up a nothing but a few Amazon boxes, eyeing with nostalgia the untouched glitter tubes and the brand new glue bottles that at some point I purchased to replace the dried out relics from Mother’s Days past. I felt a different pang of guilt, now centered around the should-haves. We should have used this glue together to make some sort of abstract masterpiece. I should have shown more admiration of their creative talents. I should have framed every piece of their artwork since pre-K and turned our home into a family art museum to build their self-esteem. Long ago I committed to remove “should have” from my vocabulary, yet at this moment it struck me that there is one critical area of second-guessing that remains in my life: motherhood.

There are about 2 billion mothers in the world. We all need to take a few collective cleansing breathes and agree to give ourselves a break. Wherever we are in our parenting journey, we need to stop to collect ourselves. Stop feeling guilty. Stop being rushed. Stop worrying that our friends are better mothers that we are. Stop using our children as pawns in an endless and fruitless pursuit to win the game of motherhood that has been going on for generations. In our own kids’ eyes, we are always the winners.

Just two years remain before my first fledgling leaves the nest. Though I long for the days of pudgy arms and finger paint, I delight every day in the bigger, lasting rewards of seeing my children grow strong, confident and self-reliant. I realize now that how I treat myself is more important than how I treat their artwork. This Mother’s Day Monday I made a commitment to give myself a break. To show my kids the importance of self-forgiveness. To model mindfulness – literally stopping to smell the roses like we used to when they were toddlers. Happy moms don’t just make happy kids. Happy moms also make future happy moms by showing the next generation a happier, more balanced picture of motherhood.

Children Caffeinated: What are safe limits for kids?









Tragedy struck on April 26th when a teenager died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event after drinking three caffeinated drinks.  The article can be found here.

What are Caffeine Safe Limits for Children?

Children’s brains are developing and their bodies are growing so limiting caffeine is recommended.

Sleep is vitally important for a child’s developing brain. Since caffeine can interfere with sleep, it should be avoided.

Caffeine should be treated as any other drug and used with caution until a person understands how it interacts with his/her particular genetic make-up and health profile.  It’s also important to understand that a person’s safe limit of caffeine can change over time as a person’s health evolves over his/her lifetime.

Ages 12 and Under

Caffeine isn’t recommended for children under 12.

I may recommend caffeine for children diagnosed with ADHD, but generally, there really is no reason for children under 12 to consume caffeine.

For children 4 or older an occasional caffeinated soda or chocolate treat will likely pose no concern and around 45mg per day is recognized as a safe amount, but caffeine shouldn’t be a daily part of a child’s diet.

Ages 13-18

Teens are still developing and need 8-9 hours of sleep a night.  They should consume no more than 100mg of caffeine daily.

This is equivalent to about:

  • 1.3 shots of espresso
  • 1.25 8 fl.oz. Red Bulls
  • .5 of a 5 Hour Energy Shot
  • .6 of a 16 fl.oz. can of Monster Energy Drink
  • .2 of a Starbucks Venti brewed coffee
  • 3 12 fl.oz. Cokes

Medical Quackery, Complement or Criticism?

I was at a dinner party listening to conversations brewing around the table. Fun to hear what people will talk about after a nice dinner and wine. A seedling of a story sprouted into a deeper conversation concerning alternative medicine. Sam had just returned from Thailand and spoke about an experience at a massage center. We teased him that massage parlors in Southeast Asia don’t really give massages but “massage alternatives.” He smiled, understanding what we meant, and politely restated his interpretation of massage therapy changed his western perception of alternative medicine.

Sam had been exploring Buddhist Temples in the traditional northern city of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is 12 hours by train and a world apart from the more corporeal Bangkok. People from all over the world go to Chiang Mai to study massage therapy and a friend who studied there insisted he seek out a Mr. Kai for a massage saying, “Mr. Kai would change your life.”

After winding through stone alleyways and lanes he located the massage center. He was at once surprised to realize that all the massage therapists were blind.  In the open-air communal massage room he announced himself adding he was looking for Mr. Kai because a friend insisted he get a massage from him.

An old man with wispy white hair turned and said he was Mr. Kai. He had all the peace and calmness of a Buddhist master, martial arts master, or Eastern studies scholar – that’s when Sam noticed Mr. Kai was working with a middle-aged western woman. She turned to meet Sam’s gaze and Sam related that her eyes were soulful. Her eyes harbored 40 years of pain and suffering behind a glimmer of growing hope as Sam looked on. Tears started in her eyes and her body trembled. She was having a great emotional release at the hands of Mr. Kai. Sam was wonderstruck.

This woman was overcome with peace by the time the massage was over. This was no typical massage. This was a massage alternative. Mr. Kai was a healer.

Mr. Kai explained her body was re-living pain from the mind and spirit that was entangled in suffering from emotions and past experience. He was a conduit between the pain of the body and the mind-spirit. He worked with people to get them to acknowledge their pain, their responsibility in it, see need for maintenance of their pain body, and facilitated a release. Physical disease starts in the mind as energy and later manifests in the body, he said. Mr. Kai was helping restore, maintain, and promote a sense of good health and wellness.

Sam was intrigued. As a westerner he always thought of his body, mind and spirit as separate entities. To mainstream US medicine Sam was separated into organ systems and treated in parts. He thought wryly of Frankenstein’s monster where separate parts do not make a whole.

At this point in the dinner conversation the more rational and logical voices began to question the credibility of such claims. How do you make the jump from massage to healer? At the worst, this man must certainly be milking these sad saps for all their worth, or at best these are anecdotal tales without rigorous science to back up such claims.

I chirped in with a historical perspective on medicine. The 1800s medicine system was an eclectic pursuit of various healing methods. There were traditional MDs, spiritual MDs, homeopathic MDs and osteopathic physicians. Today we only have traditional MDs and osteopaths.

Former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop said, “During the 19th century, American medicine was an eclectic pursuit where a number of competing ideas and approaches thrived. Doctors were able to draw on elements from different traditions in attempting to make people well. Perhaps there is more to this older model of American medicine than we in the 20th century had been willing to example.” The most famous of all surgeon generals was noting that different people heal in various ways and one system cannot address all needs. This gave the more philosophical dinner guests something to chew on. But for the more doubting, I acknowledged the incredible advances of scientific medicine while sharing its failures to highlight my point.

The extent of alternative medicine utilization confounds proponents of western scientific medicine. In 2010, people made 202 million visits, laid out over $14 billion, and regular users were above 20 million for Oriental Medicine Doctors, Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, and Massage Therapists. In some cases, the cost of good medicine is also problematic. The cost of healthcare will reach $10,000 per person for the first time this year and each year is consuming more and more of the GDP. The current medical system is cannibalizing our economy.

I went on to say that a lack of trust of the mainstream medical establishment is driving away both patients and doctors alike. We are in a bureaucratic and information healthcare crisis. Doctors want to heal but the quality of research is suspect at times and the paperwork to see a patient is too cumbersome.

John Ioannidis MD, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, Professor of Medicine, Professor of Health Research and Policy, Professor (by courtesy) of Biomedical Data Science at the School of Medicine; Professor of Statistics (by courtesy) at the School of Humanities and Sciences; co-Director, Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford; Director of the PhD program in Epidemiology and Clinical Research and Harvard med school graduate, notes that greater than 75% of clinical research is paid for by private companies with specific interests. “We think of the scientific process as being objective, rigorous, and even ruthless in separating out what is true from what we merely wish to be true, but in fact it’s easy to manipulate results, even unintentionally or unconsciously. At every step in the process, there is room to distort results, a way to make a strong claim, or to select what is going to be concluded.” Dr. Ioannidis is widely published. JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine accept his finding on the bias in medical research. This turns the scientific method on its head a bit.

I went on to say there are three reasons people test the waters of alternative medicine. First, someone may have been raised up in an environment where alternative medicine is already part of the repertoire for health and wellness. Second, others feel helpless after exhausting the options that modern medicine has to offer, or unsatisfied with medicating symptoms away without addressing the underlying problem. The third type to venture into alternative medicine is the one with a philosophical approach towards healing, who recognizes MD medicine is practiced differently even in advanced western countries of which the US  does rank as well in term of preventing diseases.

This last point is the reason I started to investigate alternative medicine. I listened to the parents in my practice request non-traditional treatments and researched their request. This led me to examine various respected and diverse medical systems around the world. My conclusion is medicine is a combination of science and culture.

Mainstream medicine can alleviate symptoms and make someone symptom free but this is a long way off from feeling healthy. Additionally, I believe people are looking for more natural and holistic approaches to feeling well by addressing the mind, body and spirit through personalizing factors of everyday living.

I concluded with the question, “How can one system address everyone’s needs?” We all see the world differently. Look at Lynn Payer’s book, Culture and Medicine. She outlines how Great Britain, Germany, France and the US use the same scientific literature to treat common adult illnesses but interpret the literature through a culture prism. Each country has its own take on medicine and each would be considered malpractice in the other countries. Who are we to say alternative medicine does not work? Maybe the private interests that guide 75% of the mainstream literature are not asking the right questions when they pay for the results of their studies.

The dinner conversation was lively and enjoyable. Everyone partook and walked away with a feeling of being heard and with compelling reasons to take ownership of their participation in the Road to Wellville.