The holidays are a time for gatherings, celebrations and also reflection. The Christians celebrate Christmas, the Jews Chanukah, the Buddhists Vesak, the Muslims Ramadan, and the Hindus Diwali.

But it is only Thanksgiving, this beautiful American holiday, that manages to bring all people of all faiths, political ideologies and nationalities together in common sentiment and very often at one common table.

As people sit together, bless the food and engage in jovial discussions about how yummy everything is, someone reaches across the table for an extra serving of sweet potato or slice of turkey and in this seemingly pragmatic gesture, that someone, in the spirit of this holiday marked by generosity, is also reaching across and bridging divides with a oneness of heart inspired by gratitude.

On this blessed day, I thank life itself for all the gifts that it bears. I am thankful for those individuals that touched my life but are no longer with me. I am thankful for the parents and grandparents, the family and friends, the loves that once were and the one yet to come, and I am most especially thankful for my child and all children for they are the keepers of our dreams and the keepers of a kinder and brighter world.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and should there be any one friend or friend to be, that does not have a Thanksgiving dinner to attend, I would very much LOVE to have you come to my home and share this holiday with me.


Through the course of my entire life, or at least as far back as I can remember, I have had my mother, my aunt and at times my grandfather insist that I have chicken soup as a means to rid me of a bad cold.

I remember them tucking me under covers, being anointed with Vicks menthol on my chest and of course having a big bowl of homemade chicken soup. There was never much thought about it, I knew that soon after I would miraculously feel much better.

With the hysteria surrounding the swine flu and the heavily promoted H1N1 vaccine, I decided to look into the myth or validity of the healing powers of chicken soup especially since I opted not to vaccinate my child.

This is what I found: The most referenced origin to chicken soup as a means to heal a cold or flu goes back to the 12th Century when Moshe ben Mainmon, Egyptian physician and philosopher, recognized it as a remedy for cold symptoms and has since been dubbed the Jewish Penicillin.

Recent studies tell us why. Irwin Ziment, M.D., pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA School for Medicine, says chicken soup contains drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines. An amino acid released from chicken during cooking chemically resembles the drug acetylcysteine, prescribed for bronchitis and other respiratory problems. The chicken acts as an anti-inflammatory, helping relieve coughing and congestion. Other spices are often added to chicken soup such as garlic and pepper, both of which are ancient treatments for respiratory disease working the same way as modern cough medicines by thinning mucus and making breathing easier. The heat of the soup loosens congestion while the broth helps hydrate the body. Numerous vitamins are present depending on the various vegetables that you choose to add to the recipe.

So have some fun making chicken soup once per week as your most effective method of cold prevention. Experiment, try different recipes, decide on your favorite and send it to me. I will post it on the blog for all to enjoy.

Wishing you and your little ones a healthy winter season!
See my recipe below


11/2 quarts chicken stock, organic if possible purchased at whole foods
1/4 lb chicken breast, remove most of skin, may leave a tiny bit of skin
2 cups of thinly sliced kale leaves
3/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of finely chopped scallion, white and green parts

In a dry 3 qt pan, cook chicken approximately 3-4 minutes or until it begins to brown. Remove chicken from pan.
In the same pan, add all vegetables, spices and broth. Cover pan cook in medium heat for approximately 7 minutes. Then reduce heat to low.
Simmer for 10 minutes, and add chicken back to pan. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender

When it comes to children there are four very basic things that I place great emphasis on and these are pure water for drinking, clean air for breathing, good nutrition for ingestion and lots of LOVE!
Though the last is not a prerequisite for survival, it is by far what we most remember in our lives.girl with heart

On the subject of love, there is one person, one story that stands out for me. I write about a friend with whom I have had the great fortune to reconnect. She recently visited me and while sharing our thoughts and past experiences, I asked her if she wanted children. She explained that she was not yet ready but with a slight hesitation proceeded to share an amazing love story.

She explained that her dearest friend had attempted numerous times to conceive for over two years but her effort was futile as her eggs were not fertile. One evening while conversing with her friend and perhaps having shared one glass of wine too many, she blurted out, “you should use my eggs”. Her best friend immediately responded in delight and acceptance at which time she realized the magnitude of her offer. She back tracked just a bit and asked her to please allow her some time to deeply reflect on the implications of this act. She told me that she took the time she needed and reflected on the thousands of thoughts that I would imagine someone would think of, if confronted with such a decision.
Could she watch this child, flesh of her flesh, grow up and not claim her? Could she keep to such a promise? My friend took the time she needed and made good on her word.

The fertilized eggs were implanted into her friend’s womb. They waited to see if they took to the uterus and lived on and they did! For thirty seven weeks her friend and mother to be, nurtured, loved and sustained the life and gift that was given to her. As time ensued, these friends had the opportunity to settle both emotionally and psychologically into their chosen and respective roles. As the babes grew, so did their bond.

Before me, two years after the fact, sits this incredible lady, who is the now the Godmother to two precious children and her best friend, the proud mother of two beautiful girls. As she told me her story, I could not help but cry tears of great joy for I witnessed in her the most immense generosity and unselfish love. She was not sure if having children was her path but could not deny this joy to someone else whose pursuit of such desire she had so personally seen. She would love these babies as her nieces and be grateful for their lives.

There is one last thing I must share; as if in an act of gratitude from Heaven above or perhaps the unconscious, unspoken ties of blood, these little baby girls were born, none other than, their Godmother’s birthday.

The Conscious Breath

Without thought or effort, every minute of every hour, billions of human beings take in the next breath that sustains their life. Based on population and on the average number of breaths taken in per minute by an individual, there are over 162 billion inhalations and exhalations per minute on planet earth! Could you imagine what a visual it would be if we were to all breath in unison? What would be even more grandiose to witness is, if every single person were to take their every single breath in full awareness and appreciation. How would this consciousness of breath impact our lives?

The breath has been divinely referenced biblically as well as having been explored and studied by inspired individuals in various spiritual disciplines. Buddha spoke of the breath and said, “Observe your breath, natural breath – as it comes in – as it goes out.”
What a seemingly simple request by this transcendental figure yet if practiced, this discipline would bring forth a wealth of benefits far exceeding our expectations.

It was just the other day while participating in a belly dance class that Michelle ManiaciI was once again reminded of the endless benefits of what the instructor called diaphragmatic breathing. This brilliant lady is Michelle Maniaci, yoga and physical therapist, and creator of Nurturing Moves. She explained to us that 99% of people, 99% of the time, engage in shallow breathing; this being a very limited expansion of the rib cage and mostly engaging the chest. The effects of this: not a full expulsion of carbon dioxide from the lungs, a limited intake of oxygen and the augmentation of stress and anxiety.

Conversely, diaphragmatic breathing, which is breathing from our bellies, encourages a healthy nervous system, thus relaxing us, cleansing our lungs of toxicity and oxygenizing the blood. Because of the lower abdominal movement in diaphragmatic breathing, internal organs are massaged and more circulation is brought to the area assisting in digestion and promoting fertility.

Conscious breathing induces a great sense of well being, peace and joy. I urge you to try it if only for five minutes. Place your hand on your belly, inhale slowly and as you do, allow for your stomach to distend. Proceed to exhaling slowly and continue this practice for five minutes. You will soon notice that all mental rhetoric and preoccupations have left you and that you have become present to your breath! You may start with just five or ten minutes per day or longer if time permits. You will see that the more you practice, the more time you seem to have. A little trick that I have to remind me to slow down and pause is that I post the word “breathe” on sticky pads and place them in a couple of places that I will surely see. I have made great strides in my breathing and directly associated, the quality of my life.

I believe that it is in the mindfulness of breath and conscious appreciation of it that we are able to promote our greatest health, manifest our highest ideals and as Oprah would say, “live our best lives!”

Contact Michelle Maniaci, PT, RYT For A Breath Evaluation, Individual, or Group Class at:

There is more to beautiful skin than meets the eye. No different than other states of being, this journey also begins from within.
Vibrant, glowing skin is something that we value more and more with the passage of time. It is an importantElizabeth-59[1] fact to know and consider that 99% of those individuals with healthy-younger looking skin also place great value on good food, healthy food preparations and hydration. The other 1% belong to the genetically gifted who defy time and care.

This piece of information is for the previous of the two. For years, without fault, I have been visiting the most fabulous esthetitician, Elizabeth Canler. I have been a loyal client of hers for numerous years and for numerous reasons, among them her holistic approach to my skin as well as her expertise in the latest and most advanced technologies. It is quite easy to enter a facial and leave 60 minutes later with $200 less. This would be fine if the benefits of the facial were to last past a week, but for most, that is not the case.

I’ve taken the time to write about Elizabeth (shown here in photo) because her passion for beauty is deeply rooted in health principles that promote not only effortlessly beautiful skin, but simultaneously support greater health, more energy and if that were not enough, as a byproduct, greater self esteem.
Her mission: for you to feel “beautiful in your own skin”.
She always says, “Nora, it is easy to fall in love when you look in the mirror and see a healthy vivacious person looking back at you!

Listed below is Elizabeth’s list of the most highly skin regenerating foods. Equally important to adequate food consumption is ample hydration with purified water and of course once per month, a skilled skin appropriate facial. Her contact information is at the end of this article.

Face Food #1: Avocados
This creamy, green fruit is abundant in essential oils and B-complex vitamins that nourish your skin, inside and out. Niacin (vitamin B3) is especially important for healthy skin, and avocados contain oodles of it. Niacin, an anti-inflammatory, soothes irritated skin and red, blotchy skin. One avocado has 3.8 mg niacin – 27% of your daily need.

Face Food #2: Mangoes
Mangoes have more than 80% of your daily requirements for vitamin A, which is why they’re such a great face food. Vitamin A maintains and repairs skin cells; a deficiency will result in a dry, flaky complexion. As an antioxidant, vitamin A also fights free radical damage that can prematurely age the skin.

Face Food #3: Almonds
Almonds are great for your complexion with 150% of your daily need for vitamin E. Vitamin E’s rich oils moisturize dry skin, and its antioxidants protect against skin damage and premature aging of facial tissue.

Face Food #4: Cottage Cheese
Dairy is good for your bones and face.

Face Food #5: Acerola Cherries
Your average cherry doesn’t supply a lot of vitamin C, but that’s not true for Acerolas. One Acerola cherry supplies 100% of your daily allowance for vitamin C, which is great news for your skin. As an antioxidant, vitamin C fights skin damage and wrinkles. It also plays a central role in the production of collagen, the structural protein in your skin.

Face Food #6: Oysters
Oysters are a love fest for skin. Oysters fight pimples because they’re rich in zinc. The mineral affects sebum production, a deficiency which may contribute to acne. Zinc also helps boost elastin (the skin’s elastic protein) production with the help of
vitamin C.

Face Food #7: Baked Potatoes
A plump, steaming baked potato is good for your skin. Eat one baked potato (with the skin) to get 75% of your daily copper need. This essential mineral works with vitamin C and zinc to produce the elastin fibers that support skin structure. Too little copper in your diet can reduce your skin’s ability to heal and cause it to become rigid and lifeless.

Face Food #8: Mushrooms
Mushrooms are rich in riboflavin, a B vitamin that’s vital to your skin. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is involved in tissue maintenance and repair, and improves skin blemishes caused by rosacea. This vitamin is so important for skin repair that the body uses large amounts=2 0after sustaining a burn or wound, or undergoing surgery.

Face Food #9: Flaxseed Oil
It’s no secret that Omega 3s are great for your skin, but did you know that flaxseed oil is one of the best sources of this essential fatty acid? Just one teaspoon of flaxseed oil per day provides 2.5 grams of Omega 3s, which, in turn, hydrates the skin. Essential fatty acids also dilute sebum and unclog pores that otherwise leads to acne.

Face Food #10: Wheat Germ
Wheat Germ actually just the embryo within a grain of wheat, and it’s nutritious. Wheat germ is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that is crucial to skin health.

Contact information: Elizabeth Canler at 786-554-9387 or http://www.miamiskinboutique.com

As a licensed massage therapist for over 14 years, I have had the MAssageopportunity to massage thousands of individuals. Over the course of time, I have seen the numerous reasons for which people of all walks of life seek a massage. There is the student with the mental overload, the athlete who made a bad move during a workout, the financial broker who internalized stress and turned it into a kinked back, the lover who received it as a special gift in celebration of an anniversary or the mom or dad whose children wanted to treat them for all that they do. With these and more individuals, I was always able to see and hear their gratitude for the healing that had taken place but it was not until I became pregnant with my daughter that I, at a very personal level realized the profound and endless benefits that massage therapy brings to a person.

At the “youthful” age of 43, I became pregnant with my first and only child. My desire for a family was a lifelong dream, but it wasn’t until that specific moment in time that the heavens above intervened in my life with their greatest divinity.
I was having a baby! I was overjoyed!
I pictured myself breezing through my pregnancy with the courageous spirit that I had always thought myself to possess. Embarking on this journey as a single woman did not frighten me. I had always been self-sufficient so why should this time be any different?
What I did not count on was how emotionally fragile I was to become with the pregnancy. As my pregnancy progressed so did my sensitivity. I cried at the drop of hat.
We can all come up with a good reason to cry, but this was intense beyond comparison.
Thank God for the back pain that progressively increased which prompted me to call one of my colleagues for a massage.

He soon arrived at my home and I quickly and excitedly proceeded to make myself comfortable on the table; a familiar experience of the past yet a very new one with my 8 month old belly. Upon placing his hands on my head and shoulders, I felt an immediate comfort and reassurance. Not only was I not alone but all would be ok. My friend went on to give me an excellent and skilled therapeutic massage that eliminated all of my back pain but to this day it was the sincere and caring touch that shifted me and brought on a peaceful sense of wellbeing that I can always reference.

The power of touch has been thoroughly documented by research conducted at the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute. Their research has focused on the development of premature babies who get massaged versus those who do not. Babies who get massage 10 to 15 minutes per day three times a day, gain 47 percent more weight, show better feeding and sleeping patterns, and are able to leave the hospital six days sooner than preemies who do not get massage.

The benefit of touch is not just for babies. Adults who receive massage therapy report more restful sleep, an increase in work capacity, greater physical agility, greater overall enjoyment and more patience!

Several years have passed since the day my friend massaged me. I make it a point to receive massage with frequency and I am still a practicing massage therapist but now and since then with an even greater appreciation and a profound awareness of the healing, the love and compassion that is transmitted in the practice of this science.

In this case, the long distance runner is a metaphor for the average parent that rises early, makes breakfast for their kids, packs their lunch, drives them to school and continues on to put in an eight hour day at work.Silhouette woman run under blue sky with clouds
For this individual, the short-lived boost of energy derived from their morning cup of coffee or their “cortadito,” which when translated is equivalent to the Cuban espresso bean saturated with sugar and a little bit of milk, does not get them through the day.

For these and all others who would enjoy or perhaps must rely on extended energy, consider this delicious alternative:

• The Wake-up call!
• 1/2 Golden or Red Delicious organic apple, washed
• 5 medium carrots, scrubbed well, tops removed, ends trimmed
• 1/2 small beet with leaves and stems, scrubbed well
• 1/2 lemon, washed or peeled if not organic
• 1/2- to 1-inch piece ginger root, washed

Do not let the beet with leaves and stems throw you off. This is truly a flavorful blend that will not only awaken your palate, but will also energize you at a cellular level.

Juicing is the most direct source of nutrition. By removing the fiber from the fruit or vegetables, the ingested juice bypasses the more rigorous digestive process thus allowing the body to absorb the nutrients within minutes.

Juicing has been documented to increase energy, detoxify the body, create a healthy glow to the skin, assist in weight loss, decrease joint inflammation, lower blood pressure, decrease allergies and though yet to be proven, it is also believed by many, to go as far as curing cancer. For now, let’s consider juicing for this great and simple reason; greater quality of health!

For information on health or ailment appropriate recipes as well as juicer options contact me through the “contact me” tab.

Most of us have at one time or another experienced the fresh, crisp air that is breathed in the countryside. Cozy corner at homeWe naturally attribute this to the concentrated number of trees, gardens and of course, the lack of fumes being emitted from thousands of cars.

We know that there is nothing that we can do about the busyness of our roads but we can, however, bring a little bit of the countryside into our homes and make a big impact in the quality of the air we breathe.
Houseplants are one of the best ways of cleaning and purifying your indoor air by effectively removing air pollutants such as benzene (carcinogen), formaldehyde (found in glue, shoe care agents, carpeting etc), CO and nitrogen oxides which are undesirable products of burning tobacco and wood.

In a NASA research project, Spider plants were placed in closed chambers with 120 ppm carbon monoxide (CO) or 50 ppm nitrogen oxide (NO2). After 24 hours, spider plants removed: 96% CO, 99% NO2 !
The most effective plants to use in removing pollutants like formaldehyde are those with a large leaf surface area. These are:

• Heart-leaf philodendron (philodendron scandens)
• Elephant ear philodendron (philodendron domesticum)
• Green spider plant (chlorphytum elatum)
• Lacy tree philodendron (philodendron selloum)
• Golden pothos (epipremnum aureum)
• Chinese evergreen (aglonema modestum)
• Mini-Schefflera (bassaia arboricola)
• Peperomia (peperomia obtusifolia)
• Peace lily (spathiphyllum clevelandii)
• Corn plant (dracaena fragrans ‘massangeana’)
• Snake plant (sansevieria traifasciata)

It is important to note that these plants do not remove all chemical gases, nor do they address mold, mildew, bacteria or pet dander. For these other indoor air contaminants a high quality air purification system is always recommended.

These plants do, however, create a cleaner, fresher home environment by removing the previously mentioned pollutants and by replacing the carbon dioxide we exhale with life sustaining oxygen! It is recommended that one plant be placed every 100 square feet of living area.

In addition to this immense health benefit, these beauties will enhance the look and feel of your home and when taking care of them, they will transport you to the peaceful nature that is inherent in them.

Just last night I realized how tension disarming and health promoting laughter can be. Juju closeupAfter a “mini fit” thrown by my three year old because I had left her Dora video at her grandmother’s house, my already tense shoulders and upset stomach went into full gear. As I was trying to convince her that it was much too late to watch Dora and that I would surely get her video the following morning, she went into full upset and told me things that I was not able to decipher through her tears.

In an attempt to distract her, I asked her, “Where did you place your milk”…to which she answered “right there” but without motioning in any direction. She had hidden the milk and was now trying to punish me by not showing me where it was.

I looked and looked and every time I asked where it was, she would simply say “right there” but not direct me to it. I finally lifted a pillow and found her milk bottle (she drinks everything from a zippy cup except milk).

When I looked up at her with an “aha” look, she met my glance with a full grin and tremendous mischievousness. She started to giggle and I started to laugh. The more she giggled, the more I laughed. We threw ourselves on the bed and had a gentle pillow fight….and then I suddenly noticed that my stomach was no longer bothering me and that all my previous tension had left me with the abandonment of my laughter!

It was a moment of sheer appreciation suspended in time. Soon after Juliette agreed to a bed time story and I to a good night’s rest.

The moral of this story? Let go and let laughter lift you to higher ground, to greater health and to an extraordinary moment that you can always look back to with immense love.

Now, for all of my potential readers this is for you. I hope that the following bit of information will in no way diminish the beauty of the very real experience that I shared with you but rather may it serve to further validate it.

Joy or pleasure catalyzes a relaxation response. The same switch in the brain which turns on relaxation, which is the parasympathetic nervous system, also turns on full, healthy digestion and assimilation. Conversely, the same switch in the brain that turns on stress, anxiety and fear, which is the sympathetic nervous system, turns off digestion and assimilation.

In the final analysis, whether you are seeking pure joy or greater health, know that they go hand in hand!

I thank you for reading me and encourage you to share your experiences and feedback.

Best wishes! Nora

California Wildfires

How to protect yourself, your family and pets
Particulate Matter From California Wildfires Is More Toxic Than Particulate Matter In Ambient Airwildfire

A study of coarse and fine particulate matter (PM) generated by the California wildfires of 2008 suggests a toxicity level greater than that of an equivalent dose of particulate matter (PM) in ambient air, as reported in the January 2009 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP).

This high toxicity in the air is due to the overwhelming amounts of burning pesticides and chemicals. Under normal circumstances we are already have indoor air pollution due to recycled air through air conditioning systems, household cleaners, as well as poorly ventilated areas.

More needs to be said about the measures that California residents need to take to protect themselves and most especially their babies from what can easily have a long term effect on the respiratory system up to and including severe lung disease.

My suggestion is to purchase a high quality air purification system for the home and or office and wear a smoke mask when venturing out.

You are welcome to contact me at norafarinas.wordpress.com for detailed information on the different air purifications systems available.