A Healing Healthcare Campaign

I’ve been envisioning a new paradigm in healthcare for what seems like forever. In college, I drew a traditionally styled home with a wrap around porch, a garden, huge windows, a big, open kitchen and lots of green all around in East Austin. When I bought my home, it was eerily familiar and looks a lot like my drawing. The dream I had for the artist rendition of my home was to make it a healing haven, a place outside of a clinic or hospital, where people could come together, take classes in nutrition, herbalism, reiki, meditation, baby yoga, among other community- oriented activities.

The dream still stands and it feels like it’s becoming more and more a reality. As placed-based health becomes more of a priority in our society, I believe one day they’ll be a ‘doc’ on every block. ‘Doc’ can be a promotora, a community health worker, a nurse or a doctor. The thing about chronic care and disease, is that it has become very algorithmic. If you have type 2 diabetes, we draw your blood, monitor your A1C, give you metformin, another oral drug or insulin if it’s really bad and tell you to check back in 3 months. Sometimes we recommend nutrition classes, but even those are failing our patients with their ‘counting carbs’ illusion and myplate push.

This algorithm does not work. There needs to be an education and empowerment component that allows the patient to recognize they have control of their health. Patients, not their doctor or their genes, decide what the most desirable plan of care should be for their health. The best, most effective way to do this is through community and education. The most successful programs involve group visits or church programs or school-based clinics. Why? Because they involve teaching, true hands-on learning and super awesome community, allowing you to feel less alone and more able to fight against chronic disease and WIN!

About 4 years ago, I interviewed the now Chief Clinical Director of an entire hospital system. We chatted about how in a decade or so, doctors will not be the ones running the chronic care show. It will be diabetes, hypertension, obesity educators who have the disease and have been trained and educated. They can relay the basics of chronic illness and then target with lifestyle changes. This could be helping them change their diet, teaching them some culturally sensitive recipes or breathing techniques to calm their nervous system and decrease the amount of glucose that is released. They could host supper clubs that bring people from the neighborhood together, as community is the strongest of medicines. I remember that conversation vividly. It was inspiring to hear a doctor leave his ego at the door and actually give the power back to the patient, to those he served.

This is how I believe the future of medicine looks. It looks more like a little villages within our urban lifestyles and rural communities. There is one central space where the community can come together to learn about whatever interests them and they will be able to pick and choose their path to healing. We, the providers, will become (and in many cases have become) their partners and guides in health and wellness.

In May of 2017, I will be attending the Eugen-Kolisko Academy to study Anthroposophic Medicine. I will be training at the Filderklinik, which is one of the first fully Integrative Medicine hospitals in the world. This is the first step, I need to see what a truly healing space looks like and feels like and then I plan to come back and implement it at home.

I need help though, I need my community to come together to make this happen. I’ve started a crowdfunding campaign that you’re welcome to contribute to. I will be infinitely grateful for your support either in funding or sharing. But I also need your help to shape the dream into a real thing. I have a vision in my minds eye and I’ve consulted with a few of the groups I lead, but I would like to create a full blueprint of what it looks like before I leave. The people I’ve talked to tell me they want a garden, a teaching kitchen, integrative modalities of healing from physical therapy to dream interpretation and lots of learning from each other. The final product will be a blend of the best of conventional medicine combined integrative medicine and all the traditional wisdom in between.

This is already my reality. I’ve created this over the years from thoughts and experiences and interactions. Wayne Dyer said “You’ll see it when you believe it” and I’ve been believing in this vision for a long, long time and now I can almost see it.

And the beautiful thing is that it’s not just mine, it’s a dream for so many. I’m willing to dedicate my life’s work to making it happen. I’m fully and totally committed to healing the healthcare system. Will you help me?




Shiny Healthy SXSW

Once again, my most favorite time of the year, SXSW 2017!! It has taken on a whole new life this year, since I’ve entered the soberista world and have elevated my food as medicine drug, but honestly it feels better than ever. I woke up after having a dream about my dad, who passed in 2015. I literally squealed with glee when I opened my eyes, as I haven’t seen him since the day of his passing. This moment of bliss sent me into a tailspin of happiness and readiness for SX and getting crazy creative infusions from all the people from all the world. On my trek downtown, I saw a dude walking and looking at his phone with a badge. I looped around and asked if he wanted a ride and he did. Of course we talked about the usual: thyroid disease, essential oils, doctors becoming clowns after being burned out from medicine, film making, favelas, baile funk and at the end, we introduced ourselves at drop off. I LOVE SX!!

But in order to keep this high, high, I have to follow certain rituals, eat crazy nutritious, delicious food and hang with folks who embody and live as part of the high vibe tribe. Here we go!! Some of these are hangovers (the good kind) from last year.

Juice It UP
This is an easy way to get a nice, robust boost to your whole body and mind in the morning or afternoon. If you live here and you have a blender or juicer, invest in a big ass bottle of unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice. Wheatsville, HEB, Whole Foods all have their own version of this. Then buy a ton of organic greens like spinach, kale, celery, cucumbers, parsley. Add carrots, beets, ginger, some coconut oil, chia seeds and blend it with ice. Boom. Healthy greens, first thing. Trust me your body will thank you. If you’re from out of town, go to Juiceland and get the Tigerlily or Applelily. You can have them add some good stuff too.

Shots! Shots! Shots! Of Water                                                                                                      Buy a cool glass or metal water bottle and carry it all around town. Or drink ‘shots’ of water after each alcoholic beverage. This is actually Bill Murray’s hangover prevention tool. He taught it to me. Seriously. Right after he served me a Tito’s press at Shangri-la followed by a shot of water. Okay, maybe not. A girl can dream, can’t she? Our bodies are 70-75% water, this means if you overwhelm your system with crap in the form of food, drinks or drugs, then it has a hard time balancing and operating optimally. Plus it makes your skin look fabulous. Ideally, what I tell my patients is to drink 1/2 their body weight in ounces of water daily. Deal? Trust me, your stamina will go through the roof if you follow this one. And stamina and SX go hand in hand.

Turmeric Tea
Turmeric is my go-to feel good herb. My momma gave this to my poppa early in his Alzheimer’s disease, as its an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. It’s been used for 4,000 plus years and comes from the ginger family. It comes in root form or powder and functions as well as 800 mg of ibuprofen. I often tell my athletic friends to drink a jar of this turmeric tea post-workout. That means instead of killing your kidneys by taking ibuprofen after your all-night drinking binge, you can make this and feel even better! So here it is: boil some filtered water, add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, squeeze a half lemon, a couple drops of honey and a dash of black pepper, to activate the turmeric. Put over ice or drink as a warm tea and feel the anti-inflammatory goodness fill you up. AND, if you can’t make this happen and go to Manana Cafe on South Congress, you can get your golden milk fix from Dulci’s and her Golden Child deliciousness. Trust me, get this drink at least once in your time here, you will NOT regret it.

Unplug                                                                                                                                         Please, please, please disconnect from the little boxes of stimuli that rule most of our lives. Our precious existence requires to connect with other humans, trees, water, our food and ourselves and we rarely do that. Sitting here in front of my box, I look around writing and see three or four people sitting around a table all looking at their phones. A digital detox is so necessary for sanity. The more we’re connected, the more our anxiety increases. It’s science. This SX, I decided I would only use my phone in the morning and at night. I’m working really, REALLY hard to stay off FB and just write in my journal’ and transfer later. Life happens and I do have guests to take care of and a dear friend in town who may or may not need me at any moment, but I’m being super mindful about disconnecting for the most part.

MEDITATE                                                                                                                                        To continue the sentiment of unplugging and stillness, I HIGHLY recommend having a time for meditation. This SX makes it a little easier with places like PeaceBox and ‘Walk With a Monastic’ events, so check them out and dive in. My morning ritual consists of yoga, meditation and mantra and ends with “What would you have me do? Who would you have me meet? What would you have me say?” It really energizes me and sets the tone for my whole day. If you could give yourself the gift of even two minutes of silence first thing in the morning, you’re doing better than most. Russell Simmons says “If you don’t have 20 minutes, you need 2 hours” and I say, ‘if you don’t have 2 minutes, you need 2 days’. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you and I guarantee your SX will be elevated to an infinite degree with just a little self-care in mediation.

Eat at:

Forthright:  My new favorite coffee shop happens to be right smack in the middle of the action. Forthright is a great new spot that sources from local farms and vendors and prepares some super beautiful food and beverages. I’m particularly in love with their Ancient Grains bowl and after eating it in my afternoon slump, I feel energized all over again. They also have delicious avocado toast and daily soup specials, which have all been delicious and amazing. Come here, STAT and get your grains, veggies and homemade cashew milk on!

Koriente: Another downtown hotspot that I’ve been frequenting for almost a decade has some of the tastiest simple Asian food done right. My go-to is the Garden Handroll that I’ve replicated at home a few times, but did not do it justice. The bowls are fantastic and the Bibimbap are insane. Lunch includes a free salad and soup and pickled cucumbers that I put on everything. Make a stop here and make your belly and brain super happy.

Bento Picnic and Rock Climbing: Two in one for this one. If you go to my rec from last year, Austin Bouldering Project. A day pass gets you access to the gym, yoga classes, and bouldering and will put you back a mere $16. Shoes are free to borrow on your first visit. I live down the block from the gym, so my day will likely start with some climbing, a sauna session and maybe some yoga, if I can get there early enough. They’re super nice folks and the community is rad. THEN, you can eat delicious, flavorful, Bento Picnic from the great Leanne Valenti and her brilliant culinary imagination. My favorite is the Salmon and Tofu Charashi Bowls and the guacamame (edamame guacamole) is out of this world. It’s a nice escape from all the downtown madness with just as much fun and creative energy.

Kebabalicious: Influenced by his Peruvian and Turkish background, delicious food homeboy, Chris Childre has this great spot in East Austin that has grown from a food truck. My favorites are not the healthiest, but still life-affirming for sure. The Turk Salad, Mezza Platter and K-Fries are probably my top picks, but everything there is on point. Plus it’s open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, score for late night yummies!!

I still highly recommend my old stand bys that I wrote about last year. You can check them out here.

Bath Time and Sleepy Tea 

Tiny Taiga is a sweet little ‘heal goods and soul treats’ store on E. 11th street that I recommend checking out. I was given some of their muscle relaxing, super-stressed mind tea as a gift for V-day and whoa, does it relax the hell out of you. Drinking their tea plus rubbing some lavender oil on the bottoms of your feet and into your pillow will allow you to get a goodnight’s rest so you can go all day and all night all over again. Or if you wanna get really crazy, try a lavender oil bath and soak your weary bones after a day of drinking, walking, talking, eating and dancing.

So that’s it. There are so many other ways to stay healthy and happy during this wonderful time of the year in Austin, including boosting your plant-based veggie intake as often as possible in between the deliciousness that is Austin BBQ and fried brussel sprouts. Our bodies and brains can work at their peak and still enjoy life to the fullest without feeling lethargic, bloated and yucky.

Basically, just chill out, eliminate FOMO and technology every chance you get. FOMO actually increases stress hormone, leading to immune system suppression and acne and no one needs that business during SX. Get your intention set for the day, release expectations and just have fun. Oh and laugh, laugh as much as possible. Go see a comedy show, a funny new film, or sit with people who help put those belly muscles to work.

Here is my intention: Leave the phone at home or off, no FB (except for tonight for my live BeautyCounter guest event), open my mind, heart and spirit even further, connect deeply to strangers who are into it, make lots of blends for my sweet supporters, meet 111 new brothers and sisters, eat delicious food, see incredible music and have a blast doing it all.

Happy SXSW, everyone!!


Thank you to I.Em.Strong and Melisa Santillano for helping me put this piece together. Team work makes the dream work!! <3 to you my familia!