Welcome to the first installment of Wholly Chloe Q & A!
Since I am juggling quite a few writing and creative projects right now and ALSO anticipating the arrival of my second child, I needed a piece of writing that was fun and interactive and invigorating to help me feel accomplished and motivated to work on my other projects. Thank you for your great questions! While I wasn't able to address them all, I've gathered some ideas for answering them in the future. Enjoy!
"I would love to hear more about how you began your cold water practice."
I learned about cold plunging and the benefits of cold exposure from an episode of my brother's podcast ReWild Yourself in an interview with Wim Hof [you can listen to the episode here]. I started practicing the Wim Hof Method which is a meditative breathing technique, then I started applying the breathing technique with progressively long cold showers and baths at my house. Wim Hof also has an app now called Inner Fire that explains the technique and has timers and charts to help you progressively ease in to your cold exposure, and there are workshops throughout the world on his method. He didn't invent this practice--it's ancient and ancestral--but he has systemized it and really brought it to the mainstream. www.wimhofmethod.com
"Wondering if you always get your meat and dairy locally? If so, how do you find these farms?"
The short answer to that is "no." I consider every choice I make for my health to be on a spectrum, and I simply try to make the best decision on the spectrum based on a number of factors. Sometimes the "local" claims can be misleading. I live in Texas, so there are lots of "local" farms around here raising their animals in conventional feed-lot styles. I'm more concerned with the quality of the meat than the proximity to the source (and that's where I am PERSONALLY, I am still progressing along a spectrum). As I understand the spectrum, I think the best possible quality source of protein would be to get wild meat from my local landscape myself--that is the most ecologically-minded choice, so even though that's not a part of my reality yet, I still recognize that as one end of the spectrum. From there it would be purchasing quality wild foods, then purchasing locally-raised grass-fed or pastured meat >> then purchasing grass fed or pastured meat from a store >> then an organic option. The lower end of the spectrum is purchasing conventional, treated, frozen meats, which are things that are no longer part of my own selection process. A few good ways to find local food sources: Go to your local farmer's market and meet the farmers. You could also do some online searches in your area for a "co-op" which partners with local farms, or search for "meat markets" in your area, which might have partnerships with local farms. If you have a local health-food store, try perusing their bulletin boards by the exit, sometimes local farms or businesses will advertise there. There are also Facebook groups in almost every major metropolitan area where people want to discuss these kinds of things! I tend to search for "crunchy moms" type groups, and you'll find people asking about sources for raw milk, swapping pediatricians' names, and generally helping each other navigate the health market in their area.
"How can I keep moving towards upgrading how we eat...if the rest of my tribe isn't coming along for the ride?"
It's hard for me to answer this question since I have a supportive spouse who respects my opinions and decisions, and my child is young enough that my weird crunchiness is pretty baseline to her. However, as a nutritional therapist I work with clients who need to make changes and who often feel overwhelmed or frustrated by a complete lifestyle overhaul. Some people are ready to jump in and make drastic commitments, others are not. It's always best to remember that you HAVE to meet people where they are and be a positive encouragement. Strategize to help them along. Unhealthy habits are deeply ingrained and can take time to shift gears and reverse. I highly recommend taking Gretchen Rubin's quiz about The Four Tendencies and find out what their tendency is. This will help you understand how they best implement new habits. They may need accountability, they may need a lot more information and expert advice before they can commit. I would start there. (And if they won't take it, you can read up on her work and generally figure out what tendency your spouse and family members are). She has several best-selling books and a great podcast, and she has also been interviewed on the ReWild Yourself podcast if you want to give a listen: Gretchen Rubin: Habits and the Power of Automated Decisions.
"How do you get [your three year old daughter] to meditate?"
I posted on Instagram recently a great picture of my daughter Penny really getting into a meditation. I hope this wasn't misleading! My toddler is not a little guru and I promise you that she is every bit a typical toddler as yours is. But she does know what meditation is, she will ask to do it, she knows the general gist of things. It's also not uncommon for me to use phrases like "Penny, be mindful of your feet," or "be mindful of where the edge is" instead of "be careful," so really our meditation time is "mindfulness" time. I want to teach her how to listen to her body. We also integrate this a lot into our food choices, discussing how certain foods make us feel after we eat them, and to consider what we last ate when we experience belly aches. That said, I don't think my 3-year old grasps the depths of meditation yet, I simply want to teach her how to set herself up to communicate with her body. Once she can do that, then we'll start communicating with consciousness. She is really intrigued by burning incense, sage, and resins, so that's the fun part for her. We set out some comfortable cushions, and I teach her how to sit and different ways to hold her hands. I teach her how to deep breathe, and then we sit quietly for 20 or 30 seconds to "listen to our hearts." The most important part of it is demonstration. I tell her what my body and my "heart" are telling me, and then she will take a turn, too. Sometimes her responses are silly or made-up, and sometimes they're genuine. Sometimes we spend 15 or 20 minutes doing it together, and other times she's totally over it within 5 minutes. I think that modeling the practice and meeting your child where they are is the best place to start.
"I would love to hear you thoughts on...marriage and sexuality after children."
When I first had my daughter I really struggled with my new "role." I felt like I had to fully 100% embody being a mother while I was mothering, and then completely take that off in order to be a sexual woman, and then also morph into a professional when I went to work. It was overwhelming and made me feel sub-par at all the things I wanted to do in my life. What I have come to realize instead is to embrace and embody my femininity, to thrive in my feminine energy and return to it when I start to feel compartmentalized. Women are sexual and juicy and gorgeous, and also nurturing and motherly and tired and smelly. I have breastfed my daughter back to sleep mid love-making. It is more fulfilling--to me--to embrace all that is dear and important to me at once than it is to try to juggle and compartmentalize. We think that "having it all" is what we're after, but that's exhausting. I think being in harmony with it all is what I'm after. In terms of marriage after children, it's hard to offer advice since every pairing is so uniquely different, but I think regularly checking in to see that you're both on the same page about how you want to run your household, how you want to speak to your children and spend your time, is vitally important. It's important to me that we model for our children that marriage is a partnership, that they see their parents serving and supporting each other, that dad folds laundry and mom takes out the trash because we're all caring for our household together. Our general agreement for our partnership is that during the time that my husband is "away at work," I am also "at home at work." When he gets home, our responsibilities are shared equally.