What happened when I walked away from all my stuff (and my apartment)

My friend once told me about a man who owned just one suit, a couple of pairs of pants and basically had a very scant wardrobe. I gawked at the idea. It seemed so inconceivable. How could he get by like that?

Well I found out firsthand when our apartment became uninhabitable due to mold and we had to leave everything behind. I learned how to live with just the bare minimum. At first it was stressful. I had to find ways to cook and clean with just what we could scrape together when we were living in a temporary sparsely furnished apartment. But I got around it and realized I didn’t need all the extra stuff. And the best benefit of it was that I felt oddly calm and more focused – especially in the morning. I felt liberated not being around so much stuff. My mood improved. I felt happier.

And that may seem drastic to you but here’s the thing. Everyone has their own approach, style and definition of what the outer order of your home should be and look like. That’s exactly what Gretchen Rubin stresses in her book Outer Order Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness.

You look at clutter differently than the next person. One person’s pile of mail on the kitchen countertop may be in perfect order, but to another utter chaos. Go with what works for you. Rubin offers over 120 doable approaches to decluttering you can freely choose, based on you and your situation. That’s what’s so refreshing about her advice – you can be you. You don’t have to force yourself into following a long, dark, and narrow approach.

Personally I loved her ideas on:

– You don’t need an army of cleaning agents. You CAN get stains out with just soap and water. Amen to that! I now only use a few products for cleaning.

– Start cleaning if you can’t find something (it works for me every time I can’t find a pen, my keys or smartphone).

– “The ten minute closer” I love, love, love it! Before I head to sleep, I take Rubin’s advice to tidy up, wipe the counter tops, put shoes, clothes, etc. away, and anything else that needs to be put back in its proper place. I have a tendency to leave the kitchen cabinet doors open too. It feels great to walk into a nice, clean, clutter free setting each morning. (It takes me even less than 10 minutes now because I’ve gotten rid of the excess clutter already)

Whether you’re just starting to declutter your home or somewhere along the journey, Rubin lays out useful advice on decluttering and how to make it work in the long run. If you haven’t started yet or are feeling

The ONE thing you’ll regret not doing for your happiness and success


I’ve always been a big life-long learner. In fact, I didn’t stop learning after earning two masters degrees. I raced into the corporate world after college to learn as much as I could on the job. I also took as many training courses as I could. However, there’s one thing I wish I had learned way before going to school that could have helped my well-being considerably and possibly have prevented my collapse from exhaustion.

It’s what I learned at Arianna Huffington’s Rise & Thrive event.

Anyone who’s read Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, knows that well-being is a big part of redefining success. Success can no longer be defined as having money and power. We have to take care of ourselves and our well-being as well.


So I wondered, when I attended Arianna Huffington’s Rise & Thrive workshop, if we would learn something new that her book Thrive doesn’t already teach.


We did, in fact, learn something the book doesn’t cover. We learned about mindset. Without it, we won’t make success happen and our well-being can suffer. It is, in fact, the biggest driver to success.

More precisely, it’s our beliefs or what they call limiting paradigms that hold us back from being successful. Our minds latch on to what we believe to be true.Those beliefs get reinforced through the Reticular Activating System (RAS) in our brain. This RAS acts like a filter for stimuli (what we hear, see and sense). For example, if we don’t feel valued our brain specifically looks for clues of that in our environment. Because of this system, we literally believe what we see.

Through their research they’ve found that we have seven fundamental limiting paradigms:

  1. No matter what I do, I can do better.
  2. I am not good enough.
  3. I don’t deserve success.
  4. I am not safe.
  5. I am not valuable.
  6. I am alone/abandoned.
  7. I am not worthy.

Instead, we should be thinking positive paradigms, but there’s a catch. Can you suddenly wipe out years or a lifetime of thinking and believing these things? You can’t. You can’t just wake up one day and suddenly switch over 100% to believing the positive paradigms which are:

1. I am enough and everything is good.
2. I am good enough.
3. I deserve success.
4. I am safe.
5. I am valuable.
6. I am supported.
7. I am worthy.

You have to start building these new beliefs into your life. You have to retrain your brain – every day, so the old beliefs become weaker and the new ones become stronger – even if at first you don’t believe them. And here’s how:

1. Every time a limiting paradigm comes up, catch yourself and turn it around. So, instead of saying “I’m not good enough” turn it around to “I am good enough.”

  1. Reflect at the end of your day and notice what limiting paradigm came up for you. Ask yourself, “what would I like to do differently next time?”

3. Write down the positive beliefs that you need to work on just before bedtime.                                               


Start with one of these three steps. And build stronger positive beliefs about yourself. Why wait any longer for more happiness and success?

How To Stop Feeling Like A Robot Going Through The Motions

Do you feel unfulfilled? Not sure about what you should be doing in life? Or if you’re even on the right path?

You are certainly not alone. I get it. I’ve been there too.

Like so many people I was taught to go to college and find a job with a salary that paid the bills and then some. Do what everyone else is doing. Follow the herd. But I felt like a robot going through the motions. I felt far from fulfilled.

And you may be thinking to yourself—there are so many options what if I pick the wrong one? What if I study to become a doctor/lawyer/accountant/fill-in-the-blank and I then realize I really don’t want to be one? Or I am bored in my current job and I want something else.

Here’s the deal you have many different roads to go on in your life. It’s not just about focusing on ONE thing. There is no one purpose that makes your life the example you want to set for others, there are many.

Think about it. How could there not be? You are made up of so much—you could be a sister, mother, best friend, colleague not to mention a whole list of different skills and talents. You could be great at brewing up a mean turmeric almond milk latte.

And they can change over time. Your interests and skills can take you different places and drive you to a different purpose and purposes. It’s a journey that opens up to many different roads to choose from. You’re in the driver’s seat—you have the power to shift lanes and take a different route. You don’t need to stick to just one road.

You may be thinking, ok I get it but I still don’t know what comes next. I feel stuck and unfulfilled. That’s actually perfectly ok. It’s what you do about it that counts. Here’s how to find out your purpose(s) and what fulfills you.

  1. Assess your situation. Break it down into three parts:
  • List 3 things you like or love to do. It could be in any area of your life like career, relationships, finances, health, environment, etc. It doesn’t have to be an income-producing activity, either. Here are some examples:
    • Meeting new people and having conversations with them
    • Volunteering at an animal shelter
    • Spending time in nature hiking
  • List 3 things you are good at (if that’s hard, think about what people have complimented you on or told you are good at):
    • Thinking up out-of-the-box solutions to problems
    • Singing
    • Interior design
  • List 3 things you would like to be good at:
    • Public speaking
    • Cooking
    • Skating
  1. Choose 2-3 things from your list of 9 things above and start going after them. If it’s just one thing you want to test, then go ahead. Or if you feel ready to go after 2-3 simultaneously, then by all means go for it! Start knocking on doors. Start exploring how to make that thing you love/like/are good at be a bigger part of your life. Take baby steps it’s not about moving mountains here. If you are interested in skating, look up skating rinks in your areas or skating groups on meetup or Facebook or at the rink. Carve out some time in your calendar, sign up, commit to trying it out and see how it goes from there.

Remember to keep moving and allow things to happen. Say yes and take a chance. Even when something doesn’t work out that’s ok. Just move onto the next thing on your list and go in another direction. Don’t be afraid to let things go. Sometimes it’s done its time and it’s time to move on.

Don’t say you are a failure or you’ve let yourself down. If something fails it’s because you need to move on and take another turn. They aren’t failures. They’re part of the journey, that give you lots of experience, wisdom and good stories to tell your grandkids one day.

How to Prevent Breast Cancer Naturally the First AND Second Time

When breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women only after skin cancer what can you do to prevent it for the first AND second time?

If you’ve already had breast cancer you’re at a higher risk of getting another breast cancer, or another type of cancer according to the American Cancer Association.

Two-time cancer survivor Kirstin Nussburger knows first hand how important an integrative and functional medicine approach is to preventing and healing from breast cancer even when you are leading an otherwise healthy life. She is a cancer nutrition expert, empathetic mentor and best-selling author of Confessions of a Cancer Conqueror – My 5 Step Process to Transform Your Relationship with Cancer where she offers a roadmap to begin healing from cancer, based on both her professional and personal experiences.

Here’s what Kirstin has to say about preventing breast cancer for the first AND second time:

Kirsi Bhasin: Tell us about how you first got diagnosed with breast cancer and what followed after that.

Kirstin Nussgruber: When I was diagnosed at age 39, that was the exact same age my aunt actually passed away from metastasized breast cancer. She was first diagnosed at age 34 back in the ’90s and then it reoccurred and metastasized to her liver. I kept thinking I’ve got to make it to 39 and boom, I was diagnosed at 39.

At the same time I got diagnosed, my mom was going through her second round of breast cancer and had just started chemotherapy.

I was slowly coming to terms with all this and had all sorts of questions running through my mind like,“is it really my turn?”

For me it was always clear that I have to really tackle this from all angles. It seemed that breast cancer was in our genes, but I soon found out that I did not carry the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes.

I took an integrative approach right from the start. I did conventional treatments and looked at other factors like nutrition. It was important to me, as I was studying it at the time.

In my case, I wasn’t overweight and I lived a pretty healthy lifestyle, but there are so many other things that possibly contribute to cancer. It’s the reason why I wrote my book to share my story and the important areas you need to look at.

Kirsi Bhasin: It sounds like for you it was a real wakeup call both times you got diagnosed to go deeper and think about what is going on and why?

Kirstin Nussgruber: Yes, absolutely. And to realize that we’re all different. We make different choices in terms of how to fight this and we can have different outcomes. There is no direct right or wrong path, but rather the right path for you at the time. I can list people, who went on the journey with me who chose different methods, and some survived and some did not. There are so many different scenarios.

What I would say is understand that we need to tackle this from different angles and we need to listen to why this comes up.

To give an example of why my diagnosis was a wake-up call for me, at least the first time around, is the fact that I had a very difficult relationship as an adult with my mother.

It lingered in the background. It wasn’t really something that could be resolved by just meeting up and talking. That was never ever going to be a possibility. Every now and then, there would be an incident between her and me that would upset me emotionally, but also affected me physically.

If you are emotionally upset, tune into your body and figure out where you are hurting and what is happening in your body. For me, it was the area where my heart Chakra is. It felt like it was on fire whenever I had an incident with my mother.

My wake-up call was that I needed to figure out how to deal with this. I needed to make it my main responsibility. We all have scenarios like that. Whatever is the most painful for you emotionally is exactly what you need to focus on.

I believe that a chronic disease like cancer and other chronic diseases as well sprout up because we’ve ignored these emotionally upsetting situations. We need to focus on treating that just as much as we focus on treating cancer. With the same vigor, dedication and commitment to treating cancer we need to focus on the other pieces of the puzzle, one of them being emotional self- care and releasing emotional trauma.


Kirsi Bhasin: Could you talk a little bit about what your top tips are for preventing breast cancer for the first and second time?

Kirstin Nussgruber: We know that what can cause breast cancer can be caused by the lack of true nourishment, meaning physical nourishment of the body in terms of food and the ability to digest and absorb food. We could be eating as healthy as possible, but we’re not absorbing nutrients for various reasons. We need to focus on not just what we eat, but also on our gut.

There are lots of preventative functional tests that can be done if we think we have an issue. We should not ignore signs that indicate something is going on with our gut because it is the foundation of our immune system. We need to focus on how to best support the immune system. It’s not just about eating right, but also about digesting and absorbing our food properly.

That takes me to the second factor we have to manage – stress. If there’s one thing that most people are suffering from in the western world, it’s stress. We always feel stressed and we just accept it. It’s not going to go away easily, not with the types of lives that we’re leading, with the types of expectations that we are placing on ourselves, but we have to understand that we need to find coping mechanisms. It needs to be a priority and not constantly say I don’t have time for that because, the next thing you know, you could be diagnosed and then what?

Let’s not let that wake-up call happen. We need to make time for stress management and figure out how we best de-stress. For some, it’s a hobby. For others, it’s meditation or going to the gym. Let it be something that you enjoy doing that also allows you to switch off the outside world.

We have to learn to set boundaries for ourselves and stick to them. If we don’t set these boundaries, most of us will get diagnosed with some form of chronic illness. It seems to be a very straightforward and very obvious pattern these days. We need to wake up and realize that there are preventative steps that we need to take to manage stress.

You need to tackle the stressful situation. Sometimes, it means a career change, breaking off a relationship or dealing with a teenager. For me, it was about how I could de-stress from the interactions I had with my mother. She wasn’t going to change, she would still say hurtful things to me. Now I only have forgiveness for her because of the work that I’ve done. There was a time when it was very, very difficult, but I learned how to cope with it and forgive.

Lastly, I want to mention environmental toxins. There are so many studies out there showing what people are finding in biopsies of breast tumors, such as the chemicals we find in our cosmetic products and in our cleaning products. We should not underestimate the degree that these toxins accumulate in our bodies. If our detoxification pathways are compromised or if our system is just overloaded, it can lead to problems like hormonal imbalances and cell damage. This can happen over the course of many years. We slather products onto our bodies to look good, to feel good, to smell good, but they contain toxins and chemicals that mimic estrogen. So many of the breast cancers that are diagnosed are estrogen receptor positive, meaning that they are fueled by estrogen.

Even some pesticides mimic estrogen. We need to buy clean, toxin free products. They might cost a bit more, but are worth it in the long run. We are constantly using products on our skin every day. It’s our largest organ and easily absorbs what we put on it. Why would we want to put on a particular lotion that contains certain preservatives that are found in samples of breast cancer tumors?

Kirsi Bhasin: How do you talk to people about breast cancer as a patient? And what would you recommend people who find out they have a family member with cancer talk about it with the patient? I certainly felt at a loss when I first heard my sister had breast cancer. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if I was saying the right thing and if it would upset her. I’d love to hear your perspective on this.

Kirstin Nussgruber: Its a normal process of shock and grieving, which is necessary. Otherwise, it could lead to a form of post-traumatic stress disorder if we don’t allow these emotions out.

Treat the patient like a human being. Say something like, “you tell me exactly what you need because I want to help you and I don’t want to do the wrong thing and I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” Be very upfront about it.

From the patient’s point of view, be very specific about the type of help you need and the type of reactions you want people to have. Be honest. People don’t know and you need to be vocal about it. Ask them to treat you like a normal human being. They may empathize with you or pity you, or are likely in a state of in shock themselves. You may want to tell them, “In order for me to gather myself again and be strong, I need you to just be yourself and realize I’m a human being. I’m alive and kicking and sometimes I’ll need you to just be there for me and listen.”

When you’re diagnosed, you carry some guilt of asking other people for help. You may think they’re too busy and you can’t ask them to do this or that. But you can, because people actually want to help. Give them an exact list of instructions. Say, “can you make a meal tonight and I want the meal to be this exact recipe.” The last thing you want is for well-meaning people to flood you with things that you can’t use. It can cause a form of resentment because your gratitude is going to be tinged with a certain type of regret. And the giver will pick up on that. So, just be very specific about what you need and want.

Talking about it as a newly diagnosed cancer patient, I think, depends on family dynamics. So I’ve had patients say to me, I absolutely do not want my immediate family to know because that would cause a lot more stress. Generally, my recommendation is understand that you are putting an emotional burden on yourself if you don’t tell them because you’re not going to receive the type of support you need if they don’t know. Sometimes, the family situation could be that you are bombarded by family members who would judge you and want to make decisions for you. You can then decide if you need the space and time to make the decision before you tell them, and that’s perfectly okay. There is no right or wrong. As the cancer patient, figure out the main type of support that you need, and if it means extra time so that you can make decisions without the influence of well-meaning, but maybe too-dominant family members, then that’s how you do it and you can tell them afterwards. That’s okay.

My Top Wellness Books

World Book Day is this Monday and I could not resist sharing some of my favorite books on health and wellness with you. I have to admit I’ve always been a book junkie. I love curling up with a good book. I can be reading anywhere from one to three books a week.


If you’re interested in picking up a book to do a deeper dive into improving your health and wellness here are some books to check out:


  1. Dirty Genes by Dr. Ben Lynch. A great read. I gobbled this one up in a day. The great thing about the genes he talks about is how we can clean them up and get them functioning better to relieve a lot of symptoms and/or health issues we may be experiencing.



  1. Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? by Dr. Mark Hyman. Dr. Hyman does it again with yet another best-selling book. He gives a really good general account of what you should be eating and dispels many misleading myths in the food industry.


  1. No Grain No Pain: A 30-Day Diet for Eliminating the Root Cause of Chronic Pain by Dr. Peter Osborne. This was a game-changing book for me. If you want to learn more about gluten and gluten sensitivity and how it’s affecting you this is a must-read.


  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Did you know clutter can stress you out and affect your health? I used this guide to do a serious tidy up in our apartment and my mom’s house. If you need some relief from clutter this is the book for you.


3 Ways to Meditate Without Meditating

Too busy in your day to meditate? I hear you. When we have a lot on our plate or something disrupts our routine a meditation class or practice can easily go by the way side. Or you may have never practiced it in the first place and that’s fine.

Here are 3 simple, easy techniques that can give you the same great benefits of meditation like improved concentration, more energy and increased happiness without really doing it.


  1. Breathe gently and slowly through your nose.


Sounds counterintuitive right? It is not uncommon to be told to breathe deeply and especially through your mouth. However, mouth breathing and deep breathing aren’t the answers. In fact, according to Patrick McKeown, author of The Oxygen Advantage, breathing through the mouth using just the upper chest increases our flight or fight response and makes us more agitated and stressed.


Focus on breathing through your nose gently instead. Try this:

  1. Place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest.
  2. Focus on the airflow in and out of your nose. No need to force your breathing or count the number of seconds.
  3. Aim for gentle, slow breathing.
  4. Slow it down to the point where you feel air hunger because air hunger signifies that CO2 has increased in the blood, which is actually a good thing.

The body breathes to get rid of excess CO2 so the air hunger you feel when you do this exercise doesn’t mean your oxygen levels have dropped. When you work on slowing down your breathing, CO2 increases in the blood and your blood vessels open up, making you feel warmer.


When to do it: in front of the TV, in the shower.


  1. Use Becalm Balls.


These little squishy balls called Becalm Balls are based on carniosacral therapy – a technique used to improve the functioning of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.


The balls induce something called a “stillpoint”. A stillpoint essentially shuts off your body’s response to stress. Your central nervous system and its fluids switch to a state of calmness from its usual state of alertness. It also helps ease muscle tension and helps improve the functioning of your nervous system.


When to do it: in the morning when you hit snooze or right before you go to bed. Just place the balls under your head at the same level as your eyes. You can start slow by just using it for 3-5 minutes a day and work yourself up to more if need be.


  1. Unleash the power of prayer.


Spiritual meditation meaning prayer was actually found to be more effective than secular meditation, according to a study done by Wachholtz and Pargament at Bowling Green State University. They found that the group who practiced spiritual meditation had greater decreases in anxiety and more positive mood, spiritual health, and spiritual experiences.


Say a simple prayer out loud, in your head or anyway you want to do it. You can ask for help, healing, happiness or more health in your life. Anyone can do it regardless of your background or beliefs.


When to do it: in the elevator, on your commute to work, in front of your computer- any time of day works.


If you’re interested in learning more ways to relax download your free guide “7 Quick & Easy Ways to Relax” here.

What You Can Learn From My Health Journey

This past year has been a big year for me especially healthwise. I’ve been missing in action and for good reason.

I’m all about eating healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle. I eat a lot of organic foods and a lot of veggies. I meditate and manage my stress well. Sleep is a huge priority for me. Yet I felt something was off and what I was already doing was not enough. Little signs cropped up that made me think there was more to it.

Signs like feeling tired for no real reason. I thought I just needed to slow down. I only wrote a few pages a day for my upcoming book and limited my speaking engagements. But that still wore me out. Not normal.

I needed to dig deeper. I started first by getting my gut tested. I also got tested for toxins, heavy metals and mineral deficiencies. My tests revealed A LOT. I found out I have:

  • A gluten sensitivity
  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Copper toxicity
  • Arsenic (it can be found in our drinking water and rice. Eating brown rice was a daily must for me)
  • Mercury (I love sushi so I’m not surprised. Even eating wild caught fish doesn’t help)
  • Severe mineral deficiencies for zinc, potassium, sodium, and magnesium to name a few. (My blood test only showed low zinc)

In short, my energy levels were like a car with its tires stuck in the mud. I was stuck.

To say the least my health was a hot mess. Healing has become my #1 priority. I’m following a protocol designed especially for my unique needs right now. It’s a journey. Being healthy is a lifelong journey, not a destination where you stop once you reach a specific goal. It’s ongoing.

What can you do?

I encourage you to listen to your body – really tune in. What signs and symptoms are you getting? Dig deep and become the CEO of your health. Find out what might be at the root cause of your problems. Everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for you.

Become your own health advocate. Educate yourself and ask tough questions. I certainly do. While I’m working with a great team of functional medicine and wellness practitioners I update them on what I’m experiencing and what I know and have learned about myself and challenge them. 

This is an investment in your time and efforts. If you feel off despite your best efforts to lead a healthy life it’s worth it. You are worth it and most of all you deserve it.

3 Ways to Handle Difficult Conversations Without Losing Your Cool

Have you ever been in a difficult conversation and you feel like yelling, kicking or screaming? It can be hard to keep your cool especially when emotions are running high on both sides.


Your blood pressure can soar, your palms sweat or your cheeks flush. Your brain gets bogged down with feelings of anxiety, frustration, anger, embarrassment, fear or shame.


We’ve all been there whether it’s a conversation we try to sweep under the carpet or it comes when we least expect it and we don’t know what to do.


No two situations are ever going to be alike. Practicing responses and how you’ll deal with these situations can help you keep your cool to effectively communicate and resolve any issues. But remember always use your best judgment.


Here are three techniques that can help you handle difficult conversations with your boss, colleague, friend or family member.


  1. Expressive writing. According to Tammy Lenski, conflict mediator, expressive writing helps the mind work less hard, which is crucial for a critical, difficult conversation.


Researcher and psychologist Hans Schroder came out with a recent study along with his colleagues Jason Moser and Andy  Henion to prove that expressive writing gives us an edge.


According to Moser “expressive writing makes the mind work less hard on upcoming stressful tasks, which is what worriers often get “burnt-out” over, their worried minds working harder and hotter. This technique takes the edge off their brains so they can perform the task with a cooler head.”


Based on the research Lenski suggests doing the following to use expressive writing to your advantage:

  • Pick a quiet spot and do expressive writing right before you step into the difficult conversation.
  • Write for roughly 10 minutes and write freely about your thoughts and feelings, otherwise, you’re missing the point.
  • You can get rid of the writing. There is no need to hold onto it unless there is something constructive and useful in it for the upcoming conversation.



  1. Acknowledge responsibility and honor the other. Holly Weeks from Harvard Business School says this technique can be effective especially when you use it at the beginning of a conversation. The reason is that it immediately focuses attention without being aggravating, on the difficult things the speaker needs to say and the listener needs to hear. It honors all parties, the speaker, listener, the relationship and the speaker’s responsibility.


This can be especially effective in stressful conversations because it honors the other person. It can start off simply by saying, “I apologize for not being as open/honest/forthright with you as I wanted to be regarding fill-in-the-blank.


  1. Win them over by restating your intentions. Weeks calls this the clarification technique, and it’s a highly disarming one. It’s best used in situations where the other person has misinterpreted your intentions. Without having to psychoanalyze the other party in a difficult conversation you can diffuse it by restating your intentions with something like. “I can see how you took what I said the way you did, Mike. That wasn’t what I meant. Let’s go over this list again.”


By using this technique the conversation can go from confrontation to a point of agreement. It’s about understanding and hearing out the other person’s intentions and not arguing for your own.