Blonde Detritus

Quest for an authentic life

30 Days to Wealth – Day 3 April 22, 2011

Filed under: abundance — Ashley @ 4:39 pm
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So today I’m supposed to make a list of 10 things that would make me happy.  The point of this is to be selfish…not selfish like not sharing my ice cream (although if it’s Graeter’s strawberry chip you are totally on your own!), but selfish as in SELF CARE.  That elusive self care that we so often neglect in our hurry to take care of everything & everyone else.  I, for one, am guilty of that.  So here’s my list of what would truly make me happy if just took the time (no excuses!) to do them.

  • Friday yoga with Sarah
  • The beach
  • Cleaning out the clutter & keeping it clean
  • A long talk with a good friend
  • Magnificent nature…sunset, sunrise, the ocean, huge mountains, the Grand Canyon, wild animals
  • 30 minutes a day to do whatever I want for me, alone
  • Meaningful work that I love
  • A good run
  • Ice cream
  • A great night’s sleep

30 Days to Wealth – Day 2 April 15, 2011

Filed under: abundance — Ashley @ 4:09 pm

Day 2 (even though I’m actually several days late) includes 2 steps.  Step 1 is to imagine without judgment what you want your life to look like 5 years from now.  This one is easy for me because I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  In 5 years, I will be working full-time as  a health/life coach and educator.  I have a flexible schedule so that I can be highly involved in my children’s school & activities.  I make 6 figures in my coaching business, which allows me to vacation with the family every year, and also have a vacation with my husband.  I give back to the community by starting a non-profit to share my gifts & talents with people who are less fortunate.  I constantly enhance my skillset and knowledge, participating in any new or continuing ed classes, workshops, seminars, etc. that are useful to my business and personal development.  I am certified in multiple healing modalities, as well as knowledgeable about nutrition and health for my target market.  I have a team of holistic practitioners who I see when I have health issues, which is rarely.  I have backyard chickens, a compost  box, and a thriving vegetable garden.  What I don’t grow, I buy at Whole Foods, Rainbow Blossom, or the local farmers’ market.  I have a car and home that I’m relaxed and comfortable in and that suits the needs of my family.

Step 2 is to work backwards from these goals to figure out what I would need to do to get there, what kind of person I would need to be.  To accomplish all these things, I have to finish my coaching program and work hard at attracting clients.  The more clients I have, the more money I make, and then I can quit my corporate job and work my coaching hours around my family’s needs.  In order to have my chickens, compost, and garden, I have to learn how to do these things.  I need to take gardening & composting class, and read up on how to raise & care for chickens & where to buy them.  I have to find out from neighborhood association if they allow backyard chickens (unlikely) and if not, look for a new house that is suitable.  To get a new house, I’ll have to make enough money to make some updates to my current home, sell it, and buy a new home.  That would accomplish living in a home that suits my family’s needs.  Our current home is fine, but we’ve found there are things we would ideally like to have that we don’t currently have.  Same story with our current vehicles.  They’re functional and they run, but nicer and with more functionality would be even better.  Shopping at Whole Foods, etc. also ties to money.  The only reason we don’t currently shop there for everything is because it’s significantly more expensive than the average grocery store.  The 6-figure income from my coaching business will certainly help that. 

Based on this exercise, I feel like I’m on the right track.  Most of these things I’m doing already, or am on the path to do in the near future.


30 Days of Wealth April 8, 2011

Filed under: abundance — Ashley @ 5:00 pm
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As part of changing my life through my experience as a student at IIN, I’m focusing on abundance.  By abundance, I don’t mean money.  Money is certainly an aspect of abundance, but I mean a fulfilling, meaningful, positive, life.  Time with family and friends, enough food, a roof over my head, vacations, relaxation, meaningful work, the ability to give generously to other people, and all the things that make me feel fulfilled as a person.  Money is a huge aspect of that, of course.  Without money, many of those things aren’t possible. 

One thing I’m doing to increase my wealth and overcome my hangups around money is reading an ebook called 30 Days of Wealth by Shauna Arthur.  The course is designed to help me get out of my own way and create more money for myself.  Not in a selfish “I need more!’ kind of way, but in order to consciously create a more abundant, fulfilling life.  Wouldn’t that be fantastic? 

Day 1 assignment is to think about something that represents wealth and then envision myself in that picture.  To me, wealth is freedom.  The freedom to do all the things that fulfill me…buy an unlimited monthly pass to my yoga studio, shop only at the local farmers market and Whole Foods, have a flexible work schedule so I can spend more time with my family and still bring in a substantial income, take a vacation at least once a year, to not have to tell my kids “we don’t have the money for that” or “maybe someday”.  The connection with all these things is, of course, money.  So I’m going to imagine a bank vault with my name over the door.  I walk inside and there is money on every shelf, from the floor to the ceiling.  There is cash overflowing from bins on the floor.  Money is bursting from the seams of the walls and the doors.  This room cannot hold more money.   I stand in this enormous vault, with extra tall ceilings and extra long walls, filled to overflowing with money.  And it’s all mine, to do with whatever I want.  It feels so greedy, so selfish.  But I push those thoughts away because what this room really represents is freedom.   I’ve never felt freedom like this before.  I touch the bills, rubbing them between my fingers, smelling the bills, rubbing them on my face, absorbing the sensation.  This is more than print on paper.  This is the freedom to have the life I want.  Something I’ve never had before.  Something I desperately want.  I can feel this, not just with my senses, but with my soul.  This is real.


I’m back

Filed under: coaching — Ashley @ 4:28 pm
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I’ve been out of commission for a while.  Well, not truly out of commission, but definitely out of it as it relates to this blog.  I never had any real direction for this blog before, which made it difficult to write.  There were way too many random things going on in my mind to write about just anything! 

But now I have some new, more focused passions.  In January, 2011, I started a health coaching certification program through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  This program is so utterly fantastic!  Not only does it teach hundreds of nutrition and dietary theories, it teaches coaching (of course) and everything you need to know about starting your business.  Because that’s where this is headed, after all.  In May, I can start taking paying clients and will have an official business.  I’ll graduate in January 2012 and start the second-year Immersion program to get more in-depth support and business education.   But it’s more than nutrition, coaching, and business skills.  When I was contemplating this program, I posted on a LinkedIn group for information about this school.  Practically every person who responded to my post commented that their experience at IIN changed their life.  And you know what, in less than 6 months it has changed my life too.  I can see my future so much more clearly now than ever in my 36 years.  I can see that my passions and talents are finally aligning with my (future) career.  I can see the difference I can make in the world, not simply by supporting people through setting and reaching their health goals, but simply by being ME.  It’s a concept I’ve never given any merit to in the past.  That’s pretty sad, actually.  But no worries, because I’m back and getting better every day!


Email discussion with Walt Riker from McDonald’s on the banning of toys in Happy Meals August 13, 2010

Filed under: health/nutrition — Ashley @ 10:23 am
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I recently had the pleasure of engaging in an email discussion with Walt Riker, VP of Corporate Communications for McDonald’s about the controversy over CA banning toys in Happy Meals.  Below is a transcript of our banter, for your viewing pleasure….

Mr. Riker,

I read this article in the NY Times today, Citing Obesity of Children, County Bans Fast-Food Toys. In it, you were quoted as saying that “our Happy Meals provide many of the important nutrients that children need,” including zinc, iron and calcium.”.

I’m curious…do you honestly believe that salt, fat, & preservative-laden burgers, chicken nuggets, & french fries actually provide any real nutritional value for children? Or is your statement simply part of the McDonald’s media relations script?

Ashley B.


Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate your taking the time to e-mail me. While we may not agree on all points I wanted you to see our latest statement. I guess if I had to make two points I would say: 1) We have listened, and we have evolved during the past several years; and 2) our food is quality food, backed by decades of food safety protocols.

Thanks for listening. Here is our statement:

McDonald’s is disappointed with the council’s decision, even though it does not impact any of our restaurants in Santa Clara County. The ordinance applies only to unincorporated Santa Clara where we do not have restaurants.

McDonald’s is committed to a responsible approach to our menu, and our Happy Meal offerings. We have added more choice and variety than ever before, a fact that has been widely reported and recognized. Moreover, we have been a part of the Council for Better Business Bureau’s voluntary initiative to address the importance of children’s well-being since 2006. It is important to note that in the U.S., McDonald’s only advertises Happy Meals that feature Apple Dippers, low-fat milk and white meat nuggets. In 2007, our marketing surrounding “Shrek 3” represented McDonald’s biggest ever worldwide promotion of fruits and vegetables.

Happy Meals are right-sized for kids, a concept that has not changed since its introduction in 1979. We are offering small Chicken McNuggets or a small Hamburger; a small drink choice, including low-fat white milk and a choice of small fries or Apple Dippers. Since 2008, U.S. customers have purchased more than 100 million orders of Happy Meals with our apple slices. In 2009 alone McDonald’s USA served 31 million gallons of milk.

Happy Meals are made up of 100% beef; bread; milk; apples; white meat chicken; and potatoes: it is good food, safe food, and historically popular with parents.

Concerning this particular ordinance, parents tell us they want to have the right to make their own decisions. Our customers are smart, and they will continue to make choices that are right for them.

************************************************************************************ Dear Mr. Riker,

Thank you so much for your prompt response. Although I do not frequent McDonald’s for myself or my children, as a parent, I do appreciate that you now offer more healthful choices, such as Apple Dippers. I also agree wholeheartedly that families and individuals should have the right to make their own decisions. In fact, I’m opposed to banning things like soft drinks and trans fats. However, I question the logic that white meat chicken or potatoes can still be considered healthy after being deep-fried. Or that any food that has so many preservatives that it can sit out for months or years without decaying could be good for you.

I do know that there is much debate in the health community about what is healthy & what is not. Personally, it would be refreshing for me to see companies like McDonald’s avoid trying to sell their products as healthy, when most people don’t really believe they are, and rather sell them as an indulgence. Even the healthiest among us choose unhealthy treats now & then.

Ashley B.


People are throwing the word “healthy” around but my own view is that I’m not certain they could even define it. The one undeniable truth is this — the vast majority of meals are eaten outside of McDonald’s. The average customer comes to our locations three times a month. This fact means that 87 meals a month are eaten somewhere else. Don’t get me wrong, no one here is minimizing the challenges to today’s children, from video games to sedentary lifestyles to snacking and eating. We get it, and we are providing options for parents and other customers. We do not market food as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. Our food meets all federal standards for safety, and approved ingredients, similar to the food Americans purchase at their local grocery stores. It’s a good and worthwhile debate. Thank you.


Global health November 24, 2009

Filed under: health/nutrition — Ashley @ 5:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I recently submitted a brief essay to, a commission of American opinion leaders who are tasked with considering how the U.S. should pursue a long-term, strategic approach to global health.  They held a contest, to submit innovative ideas for how to improve global health in 500 words or less.  I’m sure I won’t win, but I submitted an essay anyway because it was a good exercise for me to think about how I would express my thoughts on this issue (and I have plenty).   Here’s what I submitted:

If simply eating a carrot or some fresh, leafy greens today could change your health, and the health of your children, grandchildren, and even grandchildren, wouldn’t you do it?  Of course you would, and this is how we must go about improving global health. 

For too long, we have been slave to the notion that we must accept the genetic hand we are dealt in life, that illness and disease is unavoidable, and that our only recourse for health is pills or surgery.   But the evidence against this view is mounting.  The human body is designed to heal itself, to fend off invading organisms, without removing the offending part or ingesting artificial chemicals.  While these things may temporarily solve the issue, they don’t address the underlying cause, and the person is never truly healed.  In fact, the use of one drug or surgery may lead to side effects that result in a lifetime dependency on pharmaceuticals to feel well.  None of this is helpful to a body that is fully capable of healing itself, given the right tools—tools which are already inside the human body.

Research on epigenetic theory has shown that human DNA can be influenced to respond differently than its genetic programming would indicate, given the right triggers.  Remarkably, this change in a person’s genes can be passed on through many subsequent generations.  The implications for this are huge.  If eating the right foods can improve our health today, as well as the health of future generations, research must be focused on finding the optimal human diet and people must be incentivized to change how they eat.  The Standard American Diet—which is rapidly spreading through other parts of the world and bringing with it the illness, disease, and overall poor health rampant in the United States—must be revolutionized so that people choose foods that will nourish their bodies, not just fill their stomachs.  Medical schools must include nutrition education, so that doctors can “prescribe” healthy diets to all their patients starting from birth.  Impoverished nations that receive food aid must be provided with nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and grains, not untested genetically modified chemical “foods” and must be taught to grow that will sustain them nutritionally. 

In order to improve global health, we must empower humans to heal themselves through access to optimal nutrition.  Global health and the future of mankind depend on it.


Justified vegetarian October 23, 2009

I recently decided to go completely vegetarian.  I had gradually been reducing my meat intake over the last year, mainly for health reasons.  One of the recommendations for battling cervical dysplasia naturally is to eliminate meat altogether, or at least all beef & pork.  Meat is also terribly difficult to digest for those of us with IBS, which I’d known for a long time, but I just hadn’t wanted to give up meat.  And then as I read more & more about natural health, I learned about all the really nasty stuff in commercial meat:  hormones, antibiotics, GMO feed, other dead animal parts, etc.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s the way commercial animals are treated too.  The conditions at factory farms are atrocious.   If fear, anxiety, and depression can make a human phsysically ill, it can make an animal ill too, and who wants to eat flesh that’s rotten with the pain & suffering of the creature from which it came?  All the antibiotics in the world can’t fix that kind of illness.

So I decided it was time to go all the way & give up meat.  It’s been over a month now, since Labor Day weekend, that I’ve eaten purely vegetearian.  And I have to say I don’t really miss meat.  There are times I catch a whiff of something grilling when I pass by a restaurant or my husband is frying up some pepperoni (organic & nitrite-free of course) & my mouth waters.  But I don’t miss the texture or the grease or the miserable feeling in my gut when my poor body tries to digest meat.  And after reading the news today, I miss meat even less. 

Coincidentally, I read 2 articles today about the dangers of beef.  The first was from the Organic Consumers Association entitled “Hormones in U.S. Beef Linked to Increased Cancer Risk“.  This article describes how growth hormones regularly injected into cows are linked to the increasing  incidence of reproductive and childhood cancers in the U.S.  I’ve known for a while now that eating meat, especially beef, increases your risk of colon & pancreatic cancers, so while disturbing, this doesn’t come as much of a shock to me.  It just reminded me that I’m doing my colon a favor by not asking it to digest meat anymore.  What WAS shocking was the second article I read today from the New York Times:  “E. Coli Path Shows Flaws in Beef Inspection“. 

A 22-year old woman is now paralyzed from the waist down from having an extreme E. Coli reaction after eating a frozen hamburger patti.  The shocking part of the article was the complete unwillingness of anyone to take responsibility for the safety of the meat as it goes through the processing chain.  No one wants to report anyone else so they all turn a blind eye.  However, it’s not just that companies don’t want to report each other, they don’t want to to lose a supplier, or in other words, MONEY.   The theme of this article is that the meat industry doesn’t care about making you sick, as long as they continue to make a profit.

Now, it really comes as no surprise that big business cares more about profits than people.  But where do the government safety watchdogs (the FDA and the USDA) stand in this debate?  Well,  I read a lot of natural health proponents who believe that the government is purposefully neglectful of public health in favor of big business (or rather, big money), and for a long time I’ve been hesitant to give that assertion any consideration.  Would the government really do that?  Ok, forget about Hitler…would the U.S. government really do that?  We’re all freedom and starts and stripes and apple pie here, right?   But then I read quotes like this:

Dr. Kenneth Petersen, an assistant administrator with the [U.S.D.A’S] Food Safety and Inspection Service, said that the department could mandate testing, but that it needed to consider the impact on companies as well as consumers. “I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health,” Dr. Petersen said.

It’s right there in black & white:  “I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health.” 

So there you have it.  Your government officials are willing to let people be sickened, paralyzed, even die in order to protect “the industry”.  I guess it’s not really new or shocking information; it’s been out there all along.  I just finally have my blinders off.