The Watermelon Feta Salad you always wanted to make and never dared to try...

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You know how restaurants feature fancy watermelon salads with mint and feta. They are a fresh summer side dish, delicious and quick. You love all the ingredients, but somehow you never see yourself making it at home... So a few weeks ago, we started gardening on our little deck. One of the key ingredients I wanted were a few herb plants. I'm not great at landscaping and I've already forgotten which flowers go by which name. Ahem...

BUT: I got mint. And it is alive and kicking. So yesterday I made watermelon feta salad with mint. And it turned out delicious.

You need: 1/4 watermelon, cut into bite size pieces, 2oz feta cheese (or more if you like), black pepper, 3-4 tbs EVOO, 2 limes and 1/4 medium onion chopped very fine, one handful of mint chopped.

Toss the watermelon with the mint, juice of 2 limes and onion and let it sit. Add the EVOO, feta, pepper. Take a photo for Instagram and voila!

ENJOY!

I baked bread! So you can, too (gluten free option)

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I am notorious for baking bread rolls with a beautiful yeast base and ruining them EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. The result of my attempts to make brioche, challah or bread can be used to smash in windows and even Zola won't eat them. So when I heard about this bread that would only take about 15 minutes active time, I was skeptical to say the least.

But I did it and it worked out beautifully.

You will need:

2 cups of (gluten-free) rolled oats

2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour (Bob's Red Mill makes a gf version that you could use)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1.5 cups buttermilk

1 egg

Pulse the oats in a food processor until fine. Then combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the egg plus buttermilk in a different bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the buttermilk gently folding it in. The dough will be very sticky but resist the urge to over mix it.

Place the dough on a floured surface and gently kneed it - if too sticky add a little flour. Then score the center in a cross shape (it is almost Easter after all!).

Grease an oven-proof cast iron skillet and place the dough in the center. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes and then reducing the heat to 400 for another 25 minutes.

At this point you should see a beautiful cross shape on top of your bread and when you knock on the bottom it should sound hollow.

Here! You're done!

This bread, warm with butter is literally heaven. At least my idea of heaven. I'm German, after all.

ENJOY! xx

On Procrastinating

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Procrastinating... we all do it in one way or another. Sometimes more consciously and sometimes more unconscious. It can be a matter of a day within which we don't manage to finish all our tasks, or pushing aside a different task over the span of days/ weeks/ months. Usually it's about something uncomfortable. But whenever we wake up from procrastinating we feel worse for it... Everyone does it and mind you I initially started writing this post 4 weeks ago :)

So here are some facts on what procrastination is psychologically (and what it is not). And further down I will share some ways I have learned to break through it or methods that are generally recommended. And then you can decide whether you want to call yourself a chronic procrastinator - like 20% of the US population - or maybe you're just a person who is looking for the right moment and inspiration!

  1. Procrastinating is something you learned at home. So if it's something you picked up, you can drop it again. Yes, really!
  2. Procrastinating is actually bad for your health. Being immobile, which is usually the way of dealing with things, weakens your immune system and can cause gastrointestinal problems and even insomnia.
  3. It is not poor time management or planning. You are simple a little bit more "optimistic" with your time.
  4. Are you trying to piss someone off? Because they may take it that way...

Now here's what to do:

  1. Find someone to jump-start you. It takes extra effort to come back to discipline, so find someone who will nag you repeatedly. When it's done, take them out for brunch. This year...
  2. Make a list and then do the hard stuff first. No task is so hard you can't find a way to motivate yourself. Be nice to yourself.
  3. Focus on one thing at a time and turn off distractions. Instant gratification of counting your Instagram or Facebook likes is awesome. But imagine how much greater it will be when you check back later and suddenly the number of likes is double digits instead of individual.
  4. Schedule breaks and how long they should last (!). Then if it's a longer project schedule the end time and reward yourself. Now go check your likes and have some ice cream.

Oh and while you're on Facebook and Instagram, come over to my pages and say hello, too! But only AFTER you're done.

xxR

Healing and a New Moon

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2014 is charging ahead. It is supposed to be ripe with opportunity and to favour the quick thinkers and decision makers. It is also full of new moons already! In less than three days, we will have a new moon again, the third one this year. This new moon will be in Pisces. I won't attempt to give you an astrological or mystical breakdown of what awaits, but I have come to appreciate new moons as mini new beginnings so I will do the same with this one. Also, the topic of healing came up (my husband compared me to Chiron... I'll write a separate post on that, ha!). As you may know, I suffered from sciatica for three years. It was excruciatingly painful and had absolutely no physical source (at least initially). I talked to a few new mothers this week and some of them told me about their experiences with lower back issues and also sciatica. Sciatica just like many other ailments and pains, usually stems from imbalance, emotional or physical. We can treat the symptoms but until we attack the root cause, the problem will keep returning. It took me another 2 years to get to the root and work on eliminating it and therefore reducing the pain and it took some pretty big changes in attitude and behavioural patterns. I was able to heal with a lot of support from others but mainly because I sought and went after more balance in my life.

Now this new moon on March 1st is in Pisces and asking for a closer look at some of our patterns, it is supposed to set a tone for pause and reflection while we consider where our energy has become totally out of balance.

There it is again: balance. The word pops up a lot. We talk about work-life balance, mind-body balance, balancing acts, balanced meals, the balance of power, standing balances and being well-balanced mentally.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

Balance is such an integrative part of our vocabulary but still, we rarely achieve it in our life. This upcoming new moon wants to remind us how to do it. It asks us to tune inward and listen. To pay attention to our dreams. To flow and be connected. To merge and take a break from mundane activities. My interpretation and what I'm intending to do (especially since it's coming on the weekend) is the following:

  • Seeing people that I don't often see and miss (!). I started today with a lovely lunch and it made me happy.
  • Engaging in activities that I love and that allow me to reflect. I will probably go for a run.
  • Taking some me time.
  • Trying to refrain from being impatient for x amount of hours per day. With others AND myself.
  • Preparing and savouring nourishing food. And ideally sharing it in lovely company.
  • Resting and taking a moment in the morning to reflect on my dreams.
  • Beginning or ending the day reminding myself of what I'm grateful for (and writing it down).
  • Writing down my dreams for the future as a way of manifesting them / announcing them to the Universe.

I can't believe we are almost in March. Three weeks and change until Spring. Could it be true?

Let me know what you will be doing for the new moon or what you have done to heal after a difficult emotional or physical setback.

I would love to hear from you!

xxR

Do what you love

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In his commencement address to the students of Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs said "You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. [...] And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. When I quit my office job and started my career in wellness, a lot of people thought I was crazy. I had been in said job for several years, it provided a very healthy paycheck that included all benefits that one could imagine (and then some) . Still I was lacking passion for what I was doing...

And on top of it, the job had made me sick. For half of the time, that I spent there, I suffered from sciatica, a condition which once diagnosed,turned out not to be rooted in a physical fall or injury. It was a consequence of the fact that my current situation had made me incredibly anxious and unhappy.

It took guts and a lot of self examination to come to the decision to leave a safe job and start anew but here are five things, I learned in the process leading up to and following through on this (so far) best decision of my life:

  1. When you do what you love, it doesn't feel like work: nobody said you won't have to work anymore, but being passionate about what you do, is fulfilling and ultimately makes you provide a better service to the people you work with and for.
  2. The money will come: Changing careers is never easy. Whether it is in the same industry or doing something completely new. One good think you can do is have savings before changing careers. But then dive into the new direction and trust that you are doing the right thing. And your income will come to reflect that.
  3. Being passionate = being healthy: none of us can escape the occasional sniffles but overall, doing things and loving them will eliminate stress and anxiety from your life which pose an enormous threat to our system and mental and physical well-being.
  4. Being passionate attracts support: believe it or not, the more your body language screams "passion" and "satisfaction" the more people will gravitate towards you. It will shine through what you write and say and these new people in your life will want to help your cause and see it grow.
  5. Being passionate, will be a powerful teacher: just because you are suddenly doing what you love doesn't mean it will always be easy. There will be setbacks and you will need to deal with them. When you are passionate about something, giving up is not an option. This new situation will teach you to look at yourself closely, examine where you are stuck and force you to move through it.

Ever since I started working in wellness, I have seen all the points above come true. My old job felt like an obligation at times, a chore and necessary part of my life. The daily grind became my reality and I accepted it as how work should be.

Being passionate about what I do has helped me navigate all the things that we are confronted with in our work lives and made them a lot easier. It has taught me confidence and to trust that I am doing the right thing, or forced me to re-examine, adjust, adapt and find new ways of dealing with situations where things didn't work out.

Personally, I think there is no better way to grow in my life than to do what you love and ultimately that for me is the purest form of self-love.

Yoga Happiness

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Does yoga bring happiness? For the longest time I was mainly a runner. I was a passionate fencer for many years and I love show jumping on horseback. And then not too long ago I threw yoga into the mix. My husband who has been practicing for decades promised me that if I stuck with it past the point in which downward dog would actually become a relaxing pose, I wouldn't regret it. He is a wise man, my husband :) I can't think of a better way to stretch out after a long run or to start other days building heat in my body (especially in this weather), than through yoga. It has helped me deal with anxiety, makes my skin looks rosy (say my friends) and it is a perfect way for me to end each of my classes and sessions with people that I work with.

Yoga makes me happy. It is the balance to my running. It has helped me trust in things instead of wanting to control them.

Balance + Trust = Happiness

Let me know if you agree or how yoga has helped you, below in the comments!

xxR

Discipline: Rad or Bad?

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I just read this article about discipline and how celebrities apply the 80/20 rule to stay fit and slim without denying themselves occasional indulgences. It sounds reasonable and I try to live by that same rule. It's often more along the lines of 70/30... but what I am trying to do these days is keep my meal plan simple during the week and allow myself a day on the weekend during which I don't have to think about what I eat and can indulge. I have found that it keeps my cravings at bay and improves my overall well being tremendously. Ok, so maybe I apply 80/20 on those other days sometimes, too :) As I have mentioned before, my schedule as an athlete used to be very structured, time wise, but also in terms of what I ate and when. The structure provided me with a sense of safety and stability in my life, it made me feel invincible to be able to be so physically active and high school was its own structure, too - that I fit in between workouts. During intense weeks, I would run 5-6 times a week, swim 3-4 times, fence 3 times, shoot 3 times (plus autogenic training) and ride once or twice. Phew... just typing this makes me tired now. Days would start at 6am (in the pool) and end sometimes at 9pm (leaving the fencing gymnasium). Wash (often!). Rinse. Repeat.

I was recently invited by a group of women (who have families to take care of), to run with them. Meeting place was 6am at Grand Army Plaza. Which meant getting up at 5.30 and being out of the door by 5.40am. It was remarkable to see how these women met with such fun at such an early time, I thoroughly enjoyed their company and when we were done, their day started with making sure that their kids were out the house and off to school, etc. My only responsibility was to feed my dog and then check my schedule for the day. I won't be doing it all the time, but there was something that made me feel very proud about adding so many hours to my day and having been productive already by the time I got home at 7am.

Being self-employed demands a certain amount of discipline. Working with people and helping them create a different lifestyle demands being creative in my approaches to mask that discipline as enjoyable exercise and delicious meals. Working with people in public class settings means, picking up on each person's vibe, and rewarding the discipline of them showing up with an experience that will be memorable physically and emotionally.

Getting positive feedback is a direct reward of my discipline. What a beautiful circle.

I have learned in the past years, to be less harsh with myself. The control freak in me has to consciously relinquish the rigor of that discipline that is such a strong part of me and allow myself to go with the flow and let events unfold.

I have found that creating structure is important when it is around practical things, such as my calendar, exercises planning for the people I work with but in my personal life, I am allowing a few more elements of surprise. I still don't like surprise parties or ordering dishes for the table instead of me (more on this in a different post)... but I have learned through my dear friends, that life can be a delicious "box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get".

And I'm ready to embrace it. I dare you to try the same!

xxR

3 ways to manage stressful situations

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This week presents two stressful situations for me. One was teaching a first class at a new place, you know, will the music work, will the owners like it and will the participants like it? Yes, yes and yes. It was a great hour with lovely people, sweaty, heart pumping and incredibly relaxing at the end. Just so beautiful. I tend to get very stressed and forget to focus during stressful situations. This week, in addition to teaching my first class at Melt Massage I'm also running the Miles for Midwives 5k fun run. I am a professional procrastinator so I started preparing for class the night before and the day of but with the race on Saturday there are a few more things I need to remember. Most importantly: to chill out.

Here are 3 ways that help me when my mind starts racing, my jaw clenches up, my brain is already focused on an appointment 5 hours from now and my stomach acts up, which is especially uncomfortable during workouts:

  1. Stop! Turn your eyes away from the computer, the phone and for a moment focus your mind on something else. I like to look out the window and watch the squirrels chase each other down a tree, a dog helps too, playing with Zola calms me down and makes me happy or if you are in the office, get up and walk over to a nice colleague of yours, say hi and chat about something or go get some water.
  2. Nap! Seriously. The racing monkey mind creates a lot of physical anxiety too and that's tiring. If you can close your eyes and snooze or at least drift off for about 15 minutes, it does wonders to your state of mind, emotional and physical well-being. I find that when my stomach gets really worked up, that helps calm it down, too. You can do that outside on a bench, at your desk or at home you can lie down.
  3. Laugh! Remind yourself that nothing horrible will happen. It will probably go incredibly well and by the end of whatever it is you are dreading (public speaking, a sports event, or anything else) your relief will make you happy and crave even more of that adrenaline rush. If you can't think of something funny yourself, ask a friend to check in with you beforehand and make you laugh. If they do, they are truly good friends. Laughing releases dopamine and dopamine makes us smile. Win-win situation.  which help the body stay in tune and even heal.

As children, we didn't anxiously await horrible outcomes to new situations, we were able to live much more in the present and go about our daily business. With experience comes fear. But that doesn't mean we can't remind ourselves of these three simple things that were so simple once and are so vital to our well-being.

I dare you to try it! I'm going to go take a nap now.

xxR

Tasty Tuesday: Turmeric Honey Iced Tea/ Kurkuma Honig Tee

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I love tea! But let's be honest in the summer we usually tend to drink fresher things. So I came up with this iced tea recipe to bid summer farewell and welcome fall. The honey is soothing and local honey will help you keep seasonal allergies in check and turmeric is 2013's wonder spice. It boosts your immune system, reduces your cholesterol, improves digestion, it can help control diabetes, prevent cancer and heals wounds. Boom! For the recipe I like to use loose tea (2 tsp), either Darjeeling as I did or if you don't like caffeinated teas, use Rooibos tea, a pinch of turmeric, 1-2 tsp of honey. Brew it, steep it and then cool it down with ice cubes. Enjoy!

Ich liebe Tee. Aber im Sommer war es hier in New York so heiss dass mir meist nach etwas frischeren Getränken war. Aber nun habe ich dieses Rezept ausprobiert um den Sommer artgerecht zu verabschieden und den Herbst standesgemäss zu begrüssen. Der Honig vor allem wenn er aus der eigenen Region ist, kann mit Allergien helfen und Kurkuma scheint das Wundermittel des jahres 2013 zu sein. Es hilft das Immunsystem zu stärken, senkt den Cholesterinspiegel, hilft mit der Verdauung, kann mit Diabetes helfen, Krebs verhindern und heilt Wunden. Ich habs euch doch gesagt!

Um den Tee zu zu bereiten, verwende ich gerne losen Tee (2 Teelöffel) entweder Darjeeling oder Teein frei Roibusch Tee, eine Prise Kurkuma, 1-2 Teelöffel Honig. Lass den Tee eine Weile ziehen, und kühle ihn mit Eiswürfeln ab. Lecker!

Monday Moves: Get back in the saddle/ Sich wieder aufschwingen

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I went riding yesterday. Unfortunately since moving to NYC, it has been sporadic and this time I was aching to finally do a little bit of obstacle jumping again. And I did. A small jump trotting and two in a row cantering. It's like riding a bicycle, you don't forget. There's the hand-eye coordination, giving the horse impulses, verbal and physical, looking at the obstacles, not turning the corner too narrow to stay in a easy canter, looking ahead, lifting out of the saddle (just a bit) and then take off :) I am the happiest person in the world today. I'm also super sore. And if this experience has reminded me of one thing it is that all it takes often to overcome set backs or difficult situations is to giddy up or to be less literal, to get back in the saddle. To try again and to ultimately stick with things until they become a routine. Then, when the routine is there... tackle something new.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.”

― Mary Anne Radmacher

Gestern bin ich reiten gegangen. Leider kann ich das nicht mehr so oft, seit ich nach NYC gezogen bin und diesmal war ich sehr aufgeregt, weil ich endlich wieder Springreiten wollte. Und ich hab es getan. Ein kleiner Sprung aus dem Trab und zwei hinter einander weg aus dem Gallopp. Und was kann ich sagen, es ist wie Radfahren, man vergisst es nicht. Da ist einmal die Hand-Augen Koordination, dem Pferd Impulse zu geben, sowohl mit Worten als auch nur mit dem Körper, sich das Hindernis anzusehen, die Kurve nicht zu eng zu nehmen um in einem leichten Gallopp zu bleiben, vorausschauen, sich aus dem Sattel erheben (nur ein wenig) und dann der Absprung :) Ich bin heute die glücklichste Person auf der Welt. Und ich habe mega Muskelkater. Und gestern hat mich besonders an eines erinnert, nämlich dass es oft nur die eine Möglichkeit gibt, des sich wieder Aufschwingens um sich von einer schwierigen Situation zu befreien oder schwierige Umstände zu überwinden. Man muss sich wieder aufschwingen. Es wieder versuchen und im Ende dabei bleiben bis es zur Routine wird. Dann, wenn die Routine wieder da ist.... tu etwas Neues.

"Mut ist nicht immer ein lautes Gebrüll. Mut ist manchmal die leise Stimme, die am Ende des Tages spricht: “Morgen versuche ich es wieder”

― Mary Anne Radmacher

Words on Wednesday: Less is More

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I just stumbled across an old friend from Uni online, who commented on a Facebook post saying that "we have lost the awareness to be excited by the little things"... Ever since I left my office job, I realized that while I'm doing what I really love, time slows down. I have an awesome session with a client and the hour seems much longer (I think for them too, depending on what we're doing). No but in a positive sense I cherish moments much more.  Before, I obviously also had really great days at the office, but the simple setting which was an office that forced me to be at my desk at certain times of the day and dictated that I was to have lunch around 12-2pm made me really look forward to 6pm and the freedom that came with it.

I tried to bring food to the office to not have to rely on food chains because ultimately in a 5 day week I would have at least one, twice. I'm not good at leaving things on my plate, so the places dictated how much I was eating... Now I take my time to prepare breakfast and some of the results you see on here. I enjoy eating it, I go workout, by the time I come back I really look forward to preparing a nice lunch. And I cook most evenings. There was never really time for that before.

Even though I work physically and mentally harder getting Chitta off the ground, I run around, I work out with my clients and I try to keep up with my own exercise routine, I feel less tired than I often felt after a whole day at the desk. My anxiety levels are lower even though every new client feels like going on a first date, my hair and skin are healthier and my digestion... well, you know :)

My friend's comment was on an article about how we consume a lot these days and I must admit as a budding entrepreneur I consume much less these days. And interestingly I'm happier.

This NY Times article also weighs in on how we have become a society of consumers and how the author scaled back which - you guessed it - made him happy.

How does all this relate to what I'm doing?

I once met a client who told me she was working out six times a week, she had changed trainers a few times, she did her own cardio but still she said "I don't run faster than some New Yorkers walk".

In my trainings, I try to bring as much versatility to each session as I can. Often I switch up exercises after only a few sets or combine them and I try to squeeze the maximum result out of each proposed exercise. And I am seeing peoples' results. My pregnant ladies felt energized after sessions albeit challenged, other people have lost weight and others were able to increase their strength, flexibility, coordination, etc. All of them - if I had them do their very first session again today - would do it without breaking a sweat and hardly being out of breath.

These results make me incredibly happy! And they show that by tickling my clients with these 1-3 hours per week, which is easily incorporated into their busy schedules, we are making amazing progress in a relatively short time. Think of their muscles being excited too by the diverse, rapidly changing movement and because they are happy, they interact better, within (intramuscular coordination) and between each other (intermuscular coordination). It all creates a well oiled machine. Moreover, because the results stick, this new regimen becomes sustainable: it's fun to see yourself transform.

I strongly believe in breaking the loop of living to work, rewarding ourselves by consuming more, buying more, eating more and ultimately feeling obliged to exercise more.

I dare you to work to LIVE, then the work itself becomes rewarding, consuming becomes a luxury and eating is a part of a delicious routine that creates balance in our body... a strong body that loves to be tickled regularly.

xxR

PS: Every now and then, stop and smell the flowers...

Keeping things in perspective - how our puppy taught us to focus on the positive

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In December, my husband and I - after not much deliberation - decided to get a Vizsla puppy who at the time was roughly 4 weeks old. We had seen her photos and despite knowing the breed's size and temperament as hunting dogs who need a lot of exercise, couldn't resist getting her at this time, although it was a rather trying period in our professional lives. For the next 6 weeks, we were giddy with anticipation and brainstormed names. We decided to name her Zola, which means "tranquil" in the Zulu language and were assured that all Vizsla's from this breeder were extremely relaxed, sweet mannered and therefore easy to handle. So in early February Zola arrived in Brooklyn and quickly became the darling of our neighbourhood. People squealed on the street and she learned soon that there was nothing to fear - not fire trucks nor noisy buses - and came to enjoy the attention quite a bit. We would take her outside every 1.5 hrs and made sure we followed every rule in the book to be calm and assertive parents but she was (and still is) a puppy. Sleep deprived and covered in little teeth marks we went through multiple evenings of testing each others' boundaries and almost every other week included a visit to the vet for vaccines or one of the several things that young dogs can have.

While being parents to Zola, we were both building businesses, so we had to go through paperwork and meet with accountants and lawyers. I was finishing certifications for pre/post natal exercise and a yoga teacher training all while we split up exercising her for almost 2 hours a day.  With the stress of training a young dog and not being able to leave the house for longer than a very hurried dinner, we soon came to be less than fond of our forced time together not to mention the stress we felt about yet another event: our impending (second) wedding with friends and family flying to New York from all corners of the world.

And then something magical happened. At the point of all of our stresses culminating, we took a trip to the Hamptons, strapped Zola into the back seat of our rental car, made a reservation with a dog friendly woman and left. New Yorkers will attest, that leaving the city behind can have a soothing quality and so it happened that we arrived on a freezing beach a few hours later and didn't mind it. Zola ran and was the happiest dog in the world, leash free in the sand, turning, chasing balls, focused on just us because there was nobody else crazy enough to be there. And she made us giggle, frozen and tired we could finally laugh about all of it.

Since our little getaway we have talked about how we need to relax and introduce a lighter mood into our current life. When we get stuck in a rut we look at Zola and watch her curiosity, her insatiable hunger for learning and her way to never hold a grudge even when she doesn't get what she wants. We recognize her eagerness to please, rather than focusing on her occasional testing of boundaries and our being together has changed drastically.

Zola Easterbunny

In life, we go through stages that are difficult, we are tested and tried and when everything happens at the same time, it's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep our chin up. Too often, one negative thought can lead to the next, the mind somehow convincing the body that it is too tired to move and the not moving adding to the downward spiral of a negative self image. It's in these situations that we can learn from our four legged companions. Movement keeps them happy, they don't hold on to resentment, they focus on the important things and if there is something to be happy about, they embrace it wholly! In some areas, we have already learned from animals, we place newborns and preemies on their parents' bare chests to create a bond and make them feel safe and at a later stage people with disabilities or high levels of anxiety have the opportunity to profit from being around animals in therapy that helps them feel grounded again. Often senior citizens who have a pet feel less lonely, too.

We have come to love Zola's 'velcro' personality when she insists on being part of everything we do. If she can have maximum body contact with one of us she is almost as happy as when it's a pile of all three of us on the couch. She entertains us with things she learns and melts our heart with her pure and unconditional love. When we get stressed, she will often deflect the situation by doing something that makes us laugh so hard, we have tears streaming down our cheeks and forget what we argued about. She has taught us so much and continues to do so. We couldn't imagine life without her.