CREATE Mental Health Week – Healthy Garden, Healthy Food, Healthy People

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health.  All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health.  Today’s post is by Dr. Kaycie Rosen.  Dr. Rosen is a Naturopathic Doctor and also the owner of Golden Naturopathic Clinic in Golden, CO.  Welcome Dr. Rosen!

Dr. Kaycie Rosen with a bowl full of delicious tomatoes. Good for the body and the soul!

It’s springtime again and my yearly obsession is in full swing: tomatoes!  Every year for the past 10 years sometime in the middle of February I notice a warm breeze in the air and start dreaming. I dream of ripe, warm, luscious, juicy tomatoes picked right off the vine, sliced, drizzled with some good olive oil and a touch of sea salt.  My alternate dream is of fresh, toasted sourdough bread, crunchy thick-cut bacon, a light smear of mayo, a fresh lettuce leaf, and thick juicy slices of a giant tomato from my backyard.

The sprouts emerge!

This year the process is particularly special.  We just rebuilt our backyard and put in several new garden beds; we have been watching workmen transform a bit of the open mountain behind our house into a home for all our delicious dreams.  We’re putting in fruits, vegetables and herbs, hopefully enough to substitute for the farm share we used to get weekly.  Right now our garden is all anticipation, and for me is the fruition of many years of “halfway” gardening in various combinations of limited space, poor soil, pots only, unfavorable climates, or limited time.  This year, we are fully committed.

Gardening for me is an invaluable asset to my mental health for several reasons.  First and foremost, I love good food.  Fresh, flavorful produce is one of my greatest passions in life, and the best way to get it is to grow it myself.  I love to cook and to feed healthy, delicious meals to my family, and gardening helps me do just that.  Secondly, I love plants.  As a Naturopathic doctor and herbalist, I use plants as medicine, but even more than that, there is something amazing about getting to know the intricacies of how mother nature works.  Each plant has its own ideal soil conditions, watering needs, and interactions with other living beings from soil microbes to the animals who consume it.  For me to learn about and understand plants helps me feel more connected to the planet and to my spirit because it helps me understand how interconnected every living being on the planet is.  Finally, gardening gets me outside, breathing fresh air, moving my body and getting my mind off of things.  Somehow, fiddling around with the vegetables helps me lose track of time and lets the stress melt away.

Getting ready to be transplanted!

But back to February.  One of the most satisfying parts of gardening is that if you follow the process, you reap great rewards at the end.  In February, I buy my seeds and starting medium, resurrect the seedling trays from the garage, and start counting down the days to planting.  Mid-March, seeds go in, trays go under the grow light, and the watering and watching begins.  5 or 6 days later, we have sprouts, a couple weeks after that I transplant sprouts, a few weeks later transplant again, and a couple weeks after that we start hardening off so our baby tomatoes get used to living in the outdoors. Mid-May my tomatoes finally get to go to their home in the ground, and from there it’s just pruning, watering, and finally in August my BLT dreams come true!  I’m excited about all the food we’re growing, but there’s just something about tomatoes that feeds the soul.


No Screen Week Activity – Royal Wedding Planning

This is what a canape looks like. Yum

Are you a royal watcher? I am – and I am super excited about Prince William & Kate’s upcoming wedding next Friday.  I have vague memories of dressing up as a bagpipe for Princess Diana’s wedding 30 years ago (why did they put me in that costume?).  For next week’s event I will be wearing something a little more flattering, but I’m sure the party will be just as fun and the wedding just as sensational.

An idea for this no screen week: plan a royal wedding party.  I heard on the Today Show they will be serving canapes at the reception.  Check out some recipes here.  They also like to wear hats to weddings in England.  Try making your own!  See ideas here.  The cool thing is that your pretty hat can be used again for the Kentucky Derby the following weekend!

Hats and canapes not enough? Really want to get into the wedding spirit?  Buy your very own wedding dress.  I bought one at a second hand shop a couple of months ago, and cannot tell you how much fun it has been.  The $15 I spent on it was well worth the hours of giggles and fun it has provided.

$15 wedding dress = hours of fun

Even if you are not into the royal wedding, you can use your new-found screen free time to plan an extra fun birthday party, Memorial Day BBQ, or Father’s Day bash.  Party and activity planning are great activities for parents and kids to do together.  You can even involve neighbors and classmates.  The point is to do something different, active, and together!

Have a great celebration!

photo by: Skeezix’s Scratching Post



A Good Friendship

I spend a significant amount of time thinking about friendship and what makes it work. Perhaps it’s because I have had my heart broken by friends in the past – though I have been lucky enough to have some successful friendships too. Either way, friendships between girls/women can be tricky business. Some observations:

  • It’s OK to have short-term friendships. While we may think the “ideal” friendship is one that lasts for many years, there is something to be said for friendships that last for a shorter period of time. I’ve made friends with classmates, co-workers, neighbors who were in my life for only months or a couple of years at a time. Once that period of my life was over, so was the friendship. I have come to realize that that’s OK. It doesn’t mean the friendship was meaningless – it just served its purpose then faded.
  • Sex and the City is not real life. While most of us would love to have Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha as our friends – forever gossiping, traveling, and bonding together, the fact is, that rarely happens. More typically women have just one or two close friends (if they’re lucky) and often their close friends are not friends with each other. Expecting your life to be like Carrie Bradshaw’s just isn’t realistic for most of us (and really, would we want her life anyway?).
  • The “best friend” designation can be hurtful. If your tween and teen years were anything like mine, you spent a good deal of time negotiating who your BFF was. The thing is, I often see/hear adult women going through the same thing. And then once that BFF is found, a declaration is made to the world (or on Facebook). This might make the two in the friendship feel good, but it often hurts others. Is it necessary to claim one friend superior to all the others? What purpose does it really serve?
  • Someone who wants the best for you. One of my friends once told me that she had purged all of her friendships, and saved only those she could say this about:

“I only keep friends who I truly want to see happy and thriving, and who only want the best for me. I’m done with women who secretly want me to fail, mess up, or who harbor jealousies towards me. I’m through with “friends” who listen to my problems then blab.  The only women I want in my life are those who can be truly happy for me when I succeed and vice versa. ”

My friend’s pronouncement changed the way I think about friendships.  Watching her keep only the supportive, nurturing relationships in her life was liberating for her (and me!).

  • Breaking up is hard to do. When friendships between women or girls ends it hurts.  A lot.  We may not see this type of heartbreak in movies like we see the breakup of romances, but they still happen.  And they take time to get over.  It’s OK to feel pain, regret, guilt, etc over the breakup of a friendship.
  • Friendships take a long time to cultivate. Someone once told me it takes 3-5 years to make a good friend, or group of friends.  I didn’t believe it at the time, but I sure do now.  There might be exceptions to the rule, but in general it takes a lot longer to grow a friendship than we might think.  So go easy on yourself if you are new to a community or job and don’t have a good friend yet – be patient (and a good friend yourself) and you’ll get there.
  • It should feel good. It’s taken me many years to realize something relatively simple: friendship should feel good.  Sure there will be times when your heart aches for a friend who’s hurting, but for the most part, friends should make you feel good (and you should make them feel good, too).  Uplifted, energized, heard, accepted – these are some of the emotions you might feel after a lunch date with a friend.  If the feelings are different (jealous, frustrated, angry, low self esteem, etc) it might be time to re-think the friendship.

What have you learned about friendship over the years?  What did I miss?

photo via VitaminSea