Those Holiday Movies, Soup, and Lots of Feelings

Man, what a freaking two weeks/months/four years. Hope you’re hanging in there and feel a bit more hopeful. I do.

I’m especially excited to bring Dr. Elizabeth Stanley back to the podcast this week, to talk about it all. Dr. Stanley is a former intelligence agent and current professor of security studies at Georgetown University, an author, and the creator of Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT). Not to be too much of a name-dropper…but more how did she do all of this?! She holds degrees from Yale, Harvard, and MIT. Oh, and she was also ordained a Buddhist nun. Basically she’s the shit, and I feel so fortunate we get to learn from her again this week.

We did a dive deep into the effects the pandemic and election has had on our bodies, brains, and even relationships (including those of us who are no longer speaking to family members because of their political views). Questions we discussed: How do we take a breath without feeling like the other shoe will drop? How do we move forward with so much uncertainty? And how do we begin to repair our fractured relationships (or say goodbye to them)?

I also want to point out (if, for some reason, you don’t listen to the end of the episode), Dr. Stanley mentions that her new course on stress and trauma is being offered for *free* to public school teachers, health-care workers, first responders, military personnel (active, reservist, and retired), service-members and veterans, and diplomats and intelligence agents. If you fall into one of these categories, you can contact Kjestine Woods at to get complimentary access. Some of our teachers and medical heroes in this community have already gained free access, and I hope you’ll reach out to Kjestine if you fall in one of these categories.

Alright…get the goods below!


Kabocha Squash, Fennel, and Red Lentil Soup from Living Ayurveda

I shared a little bit about my friend Claire’s new book, Living Ayurveda, last week (you can read about it here). And this week, I wanted to give you a little peek inside with one of the recipes!

Claire gave me a few options I could share: a Black Sesame Latte, Carrot Cake Pancakes, Beet Soup with Coconut-Dill Cream, and a Squash Lentil Soup. And as you can see from the photo…I went with the Squash soup! It looks SO good and thought it would be perfect for the holidays, too.

Squash, Fennel, and Red Lentil Soup
2 tbsp ghee (or olive oil) 
1 tbsp minced or grated ginger root
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fenugreek powder
1 small bulb fresh fennel, ends trimmed & sliced thinly
3 cups cubed kabocha squash, peeled & deseeded 
1 cup red lentils, rinsed well
5-6 cups water
1 tsp salt 
1 tbsp white miso paste 
2 tbsp lemon juice

In a medium pot, heat the ghee on medium-low heat. Add the fennel and sauté until tender. Add the ginger and cook another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the spices and stir to coat the fennel. Add the kabocha squash, stir to coat and cook another 3-4 minutes. Last, add the red lentils, salt and water. Cover and cook on medium heat for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally, add more water if needed. Once done, remove from heat and stir in the miso paste and lemon juice. Transfer to a blender and puree until creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot with fresh fennel fronds or chopped cilantro on top. 

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

You can pre-order Claire’s book here for all her amazing recipes!

The Thing That Freaked My Week: Those Sort-of-Hallmark- But-Slightly-Better Holiday Movies Are Here!

I saw the New York Times did a snarky review of one of these new holiday movies I’m sharing here and found it sooooo unnecessary. I’m not looking for any of these movies to be the next Oscar winner for Best Picture…I’m just looking for a movie that won’t make me want to cry myself to sleep at night. Yes, they are a bit cringey at times. The quality of the acting is not always the best. The plots are a bit thin. But WHO CARES. I’m watching them all with zero shame.

I’ve rounded up the top four (and their trailers) that I’m most excited to watch. Please feel free to share some of your favorites, too! I can do a bigger roundup closer to the holidays if there’s interest!

Holidate (Netflix, up now)
Happiest Season (Hulu, November 25th)*
The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again (Netflix, November 19th)
Operation Christmas Drop (Netflix, up now)

*Most excited about this one. Dan Levy! Kristen Stewart! Victor Garbor! A gay couple featured in a holiday movie!

Episode 166: Mending (Or Walking Away From) Relationships Post Election + Managing Stress and Overwhelm With Elizabeth Stanley, PhD

In this episode, Elizabeth and I discuss how we can begin to mend fractured relationships due to political choices (or move on from those relationships), the survival brain vs. thinking brain, how the stress of the past year may have triggered or resurfaced past trauma, feeling powerless, and reminding ourselves that we will not have to live this way forever. 

Listen here (or iTunes, Spotify, etc…)

The Thing That Freaked My Week (BONUS):
Cal Newport’s Time Block Planner

If you’ve ever read this newsletter, you know how much I love Cal Newport…his books, his work philosophies, and his unwillingness to be on social media. So as soon as I saw his new Time Block Planner, I obviously scooped one up. I’m secretly hoping it channels a little bit of Cal’s deep-work methods into my own life.

Cal explains how this planner works best (and also, I just got it in the mail yesterday, so I haven’t put it into practice yet)…so head over to the Time Block Planner site to see him explain how it works. And let me know if you decide to try it out, too!

MMFT with Dr. Elizabeth Stanley

Giving this course one more shoutout, because I know it could help so many of us right now. Not only because of the pandemic, but also for any past trauma and stress you’ve experienced.

MMFT is an 8-week online course that will help you:
• Build your resilience, by recovering from prior stress and healing from trauma • Improve your decision-making ability to access choice during challenges
• Create more effective relationships, especially during stress and conflict

Each module contains several 5- to 20-minute-long video lessons and interactive activities that guide you. You’ll also practice guided exercises each day for 10-30 minutes—so that by the end of the course, you’ll have established a new practice. And you’ll get 12 monthly live Q&A calls with Dr. Stanley.

What Dr. Stanley says about these teachings…

I’ve taught these tools to thousands in high-stress environments, including first responders, health-care workers, corporate leaders, military service-members, teachers, and survivors of childhood and recent trauma. And, MMFT has been tested through rigorous scientific research in one of the most high-stress settings imaginable—among U.S. troops preparing for combat deployment—with results published in top-tier scientific journals.

The course is currently 50% off (ends today).
Go check it out!

And as I said above, if you’re a public-school teacher, health-care worker, first responder, or military personnel (active, reservist, veteran, diplomat or intelligence agent), make sure to contact Kjestine Woods for complimentary access.

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