How to save the world… and still have time to eat, sleep, and shower.

She gives all day long at work.Play the Free Rice game She’s the first one to sign up for the 5K fundraiser race, the church potluck, the summer festival event planning team. Her heart breaks when she sees a hungry man sitting on the street corner. She can’t walk into a pet rescue center without adopting a new friend. She lights up when she hears stories about beautiful people doing beautiful work in the world. She wants to be one of those “beautiful people” too, not realizing that she already is.

Also… she’s dead tired most of the time, struggling to care for herself when so many other people have urgent needs, too.

Sound like someone you know?

Sound like… you?

How do you balance your desire to save the world… and the need to eat, sleep, and occasionally take a shower?

One thing that helps me to stay sane is reminding myself that “helping others” doesn’t have to mean “over-committing” myself to the point where I can barely breathe.

There are so many ways to make a difference in the world, and many of them take very little time.

Here are 4 beautiful, powerful things you could do today and still have time to spare:

: Spend 10 minutes playing the Free Rice game. It’s an online game that tests your vocabulary and helps you learn new words. For every answer you get right, 10 grains of rice get donated to the United Nations World Food Program. Over 99 billion grains have been donated to date. Every grain helps!

: Spend 10 minutes clearing out your closet—or even just one t-shirt drawer. Get rid of anything you don’t love or don’t need. Put everything in a bag labeled “Donation.” Some states have a cool service called Pick Up Please sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Association. A driver will come to your home, grab the bag, and donate your lightly-used goods to veterans and other people in need. Here’s a list of everything you can donate (not just clothes). This couldn’t be easier to do (you don’t even need to leave the house) and it really makes a difference. Locally, call St. Vincent De Paul Society (the mission is to end poverty through systemic change and loving service) or The Arc or Dakota Boys Ranch.

: Spend 10 minutes having a conversation with your child about why hitting people is never OK. Whoa. I know. This is really heavy. But as this sobering video points out we spend countless hours teaching our kids how to play sports, hit balls, score points and goals, and yet… how many minutes have you spent teaching what not to hit? Have a talk with your son and daughter about why domestic violence is never acceptable. Also remind them that harsh words can hurt as much as a fist.

If you’re not sure what to say, visit the website Futures Without Violence for tips. This may seem intense, but we all need to do this. This kind of conversation could change the course of your kid’s life, the life of your kid’s future partner or spouse, and the world.

: Online Shopping. You do it all the time, right? So here’s how to make a difference while you shop. Check out GoodSearch, ShopAnthropy,, and Amazon Smile for great ways to shop with a purpose. The give back percentages range from one half a percent all the way up to 10% of your purchase.

Like these ideas? Want a few more? I love this list of 25 ways to make the world a better place from the lovely and wise website Elephant Journal. If you go through that entire list, here are 100 more ideas. Choose a couple fun ones with kids to do for the holidays. Or, you could always just keep playing that Free Rice game until we cross the 100 billion grain mark! Keep clicking. You’re helping!

To all of my fellow healers, helpers, and do-gooders out there…

Don’t forget to take some time to tend to your own needs, too. I know it’s easier said than done, but you’ll have so much more energy and brilliance to offer the world when your own personal “fuel tank” is full.

To a better, happier, healthier world… for all of us.

~ Dr. Sue

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That Sixth Sense: If you feel something is up, do something about it.

Christopher spent the majority of his teen

Christopher Feaster, sitting among some of the awards he received during his distinguished high school years. (Photo by Kristen Taylor Sorensen)

Christopher Feaster, sitting among some of the awards he received during his distinguished high school years. (Photo by Kristen Taylor Sorensen)

years living with his mother in a Washington DC homeless shelter. Food was tightly rationed and washing his clothes was a luxury—something he could only afford to do once a month.

Despite these circumstances, Christopher excelled in high school and went on to earn a full scholarship to attend Michigan State University.

The future seemed bright for Christopher. Unfortunately, once in Michigan, his excitement quickly turned to anxiety and isolation. He felt like an outsider at his new school of 37,000 students after he graduated in a high school class of 150. He felt unprepared for the rigors of university life. He worried constantly about his mom back at home. He got sick frequently, became depressed and eventually stopped going to classes. Ashamed, he told friends and teachers back at home that everything was fine.

But obviously, everything was not fine.

As reporter Kavitha Cardoza tells the story in her incredible radio documentary series, A College Dream: Deferred, a few people who worked at Christopher’s old high school began to sense that something was not right. They investigated and learned that he was flunking out of college. Michael and Tiffany, two people who worked at Christopher’s high school and who remembered him as an extraordinarily promising student, spent their own money to book a flight to Michigan to meet with Christopher face to face and see what was going on.

He had no idea they were coming. He was stunned when, one day, they arrived at his doorstep. Christopher broke down crying, Michael and Tiffany cried too, and together, they came up with a plan to help Christopher finish college successfully and build the future he deserves.

His experience led his university to ramp up the support level for disadvantaged students who are often the first in their families to attend college.

Today Christopher is working at a high-end restaurant near DC, but has not yet graduated from college. He still hopes to. His story is “a work in progress.” He and his mom still struggle with finances. But having Michael and Tiffany visit him in person was a transformative moment in his life. Because of that surprise visit, he realized that people really cared about him, really wanted him to succeed, and would go out of their way just to say, “Are you OK?”

I wanted to re-tell Christopher’s story; at least, an abbreviated version of it, because it’s such a powerful reminder for all of us… a reminder to show up for people, to check in on people, to ask “Are you OK?” and to keep asking, especially if you sense that someone might be too ashamed to tell the truth right away.

If you sense that something is not right with a colleague, a friend, a child, or a student….don’t ignore that feeling. Say something. Do something. Dig a little deeper for the story.

Pick up the phone. Show up on someone’s doorstep. Reach out to someone—even if they repeatedly insist that everything is fine, and even if they’re not asking for your help.

That could be the moment when they need your help most of all.

~ Dr. Sue

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Sweet treats that sneakily pack some nutrients and minerals. (Shh. Don’t tell your kids.)

Have you checked out your child’s Halloween stash yet? Spinach Ice Cream coneAre you in the dole it out slowly camp, or do you let them feast and get it over with? Here’s another idea, chop up chocolate based candy bars (Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, etc) and add them to cookie batter or brownies instead of chocolate chips.

Or maybe we want to take another look at sweets.

Last week, I shared a blog post about a common health issue: Magnesium deficiency. Millions of Americans are running low on Magnesium, which can lead to fatigue, anxiety and more.

One of the best ways to get more Magnesium? Leafy greens, nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds. While writing last week’s article, one thing lead to another and I found myself Googling to find pumpkin seed recipes, like this scrumptious pumpkin seed brittle recipe from Martha Stewart.

That got me thinking… I bet a lot of people would love to read a list of sweet Halloween and Winter Holiday treats that sneakily pack in some nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
So this week, that’s what I’ve whipped up for you:

Five sweet and simple recipes.

Physician-approved. Mom-approved. Kid… hopefully approved!

I’ll test these out with my son Grant soon to find out for sure. He’s not a fan of dark chocolate and the green ice cream might get rejected. But I’m predicting these treats will earn an enthusiastic thumbs up! Especially if he doesn’t “know” that they’re slightly healthified.

Coconut whipped cream
(Recipe via: Minimalist Baker)

Just two ingredients: real coconut cream and sugar. It whips up into a fluffy, creamy bowl of deliciousness that you can spoon into a piecrust, dollop on top of fruit, or eat directly from the bowl. I know that Grant enjoys squirting whipped cream directly from the metal canister into his mouth, so hopefully this will provide a slightly more nutritious alternative!

Why it’s nutritious: Coconut cream contains healthy fatty acids that boost your immune system, your brainpower, and memory. Just make sure you choose a brand of coconut cream that’s pure coconut, no added ingredients or preservatives.

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
(Recipe via: Sprouted Kitchen)

Just six ingredients: dark chocolate, almond butter, honey, a smidge of powdered sugar, vanilla, and sea salt. These are like a grown up, sophisticated version of Reese’s Peanut Cups. Will Grant be able to tell the difference? Time will tell!

Why it’s nutritious: Almonds are packed with Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium and can help to fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Dark chocolate contains cancer-fighting antioxidants and many other health benefits, too. One research team found that dark chocolate boosts blood flow to the brain which can help you feel smarter and more alert. I could go on, but honestly, do we need any more compelling reasons to eat chocolate? I didn’t think so.

Salted Caramel Cookie Dough Smoothie
(Recipe via: Greatist)

Just 5 ingredients: a handful of frozen bananas, rolled oats, dates, vanilla almond milk and ice cubes (or, even better, ice cubes made from frozen almond milk). Blend until thick and frothy. It tastes like cake batter and the dates give it a caramelized flavor. You could freeze this smoothie into popsicles, too!

Why it’s nutritious: Bananas are your BFF. They reduce inflammation, protect against type II diabetes, and give you a big boost of Vitamin B6 and Potassium, too. Weird fact: if you’re trying to quit smoking, bananas may soothe the effects of withdrawal. Almonds and dates are both great for you, too. (After all, anything that grows directly out of the earth = a good choice!)

Spinach Ice Cream Cones
(Recipe via: Chocolate & Carrots)

Just 5 main ingredients: milk, vanilla, spinach, bananas, and organic ice cream cones. Plus a few dabs of decorative icing if you want to make “monster eyeballs” for these cones and serve them at a next year’s Halloween party. These are just too adorable for words. Check out the photos!

Why it’s nutritious: We’ve already discussed the awesomeness of bananas. Spinach is a powerhouse food, too: packed with Iron, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Calcium, Potassium, dietary fiber, and all kinds of other goodies that give your body a huge burst of energy. Popeye the Sailor Man would approve of these green ice cream cones.

Magic Maple Candy
(Recipe via: Care2)

Just 1 ingredient: Maple syrup! You’ll also need a candy thermometer, a saucepan, and candy molds if you want to make fun shapes.

Why it’s nutritious: Maple syrup gets a bad rap for being high in sugar and calories (which it is), but real maple syrup is also full of good stuff like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Zinc. Maple syrup is definitely no substitute for a leafy green salad (ha!) but it’s definitely more nutritious than plain white sugar or a processed candy bar packed with tons of preservatives.

I hope these recipes have inspired you to whip up a few new treats for the holidays, even if you’re not exactly a culinary virtuoso, and even if you are seriously pressed for time… a dilemma I completely understand! Some days, tossing a few frozen banana chunks into the blender feels like an achievement worthy of my own Food Network TV special. Maybe you can relate.

If you want to go really sugar-free, but still delicious, check out Swerve, a mix of erythritol and chicory root that measures like sugar. I found out about it through Maria Emmerich and her Art of Healthy Eating cookbooks. She’s got low-carb, sugar-free and delicious recipes for kid and adult friendly desserts.

Have fun and eat well, friends.

Happy holidays from my home to yours!

~ Dr. Sue

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Tired? Foggy? Trouble sleeping? You might be running low on Magnesium. (Most people are!)

Feeling weak and tired lately? Getting muscle natural calm bottlecramps? Dizzy? Fatigued? Having trouble sleeping soundly? Anxious? Confused? Can’t remember where you put your… wait, what were you looking for again?

There are lots of reasons why you might be feeling scatter-brained, anxious, or just “blah.” If these feelings persist for several weeks, or seem to be rapidly worsening, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor to do some investigating together.

But before you head into the doctor’s office, one thing you can try at home is upping your intake of Magnesium—a natural mineral that your body needs in order to carry out all kinds of essential processes.

It is estimated that about 68% of people living in America do not get enough Magnesium, including many who already take supplements because the amount of magnesium required by the body may be greater than people think.  Also some forms of magnesium are not completely absorbed by the body.
Magnesium deficiency can be caused by a number of stresses on the body, including—but not limited to—lack of adequate dietary magnesium, emotional stress, some drugs (diuretics, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, insulin, cortisone), heavy exercise, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and too much calcium in the diet.

Here are some things to try before your doctor visit:

Nosh on Magnesium-rich foods—like almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, milk, bananas, leafy greens, and broccoli—for a week or two. See if you notice a difference in how you feel.

Not enough? Try adding a Magnesium supplement to your diet. It’s best to take it just before bedtime, as this supplement tends to make you feel relaxed and sleepy. Stir some of this mix called the Anti-Stress Drink into a glass of water and sip on it just before you hit the pillows.

If you are taking capsules, start with 400mg once a day. Most people take it in the evening for its sleep benefits. Be aware that it can cause loose stools and even diarrhea in a few patients.

Not into pills or powdered supplements? Try rubbing some Magnesium oil directly onto your skin or treat yourself to a Magnesium-enriched body butter.  Sprinkle Epsom salt into your bubble bath, or do a foot soak. Ahhh. Super relaxing.

If you’re fortunate enough to live near the ocean, go for a swim! Seawater is full of Magnesium, too, and you’ll absorb all the goodness right through your skin.

Still feeling tired and foggy after all that? Well, at least you’ve looked into out the possibility of a Magnesium deficiency—and maybe you’ve enjoyed a couple of foot soaks and beautiful swims along the way! Talk to your doctor to discuss your next move.

Wishing you a happy, healthy week filled with lots of delicious Magnesium-rich treats… like this festive pumpkin seed brittle recipe! Dietary supplements never looked so delicious.


Dr. Sue

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A “Conflict Haters” Guide to Conflict.

Raise your hand if you enjoy conflict. handshakeDo you love fighting with your siblings, your kids, your partner, or people at work?

No hands? Yeah. I didn’t think so. Me either!

Nobody “enjoys” feeling stressed, attacked, unheard, or unappreciated.

Yet squabbling and fighting happens all the time, in small ways and big ways, too.

From couples bickering in the grocery store, to nations waging war against one another, “conflict” has always been part of the human experience.

But if nobody “enjoys” fighting, why do we do it so often?

One man, the late Marshall Rosenberg, a communication expert and author who started the “non-violent communication” movement, believes that conflicts arise when one (or both) people feel stressed because one (or more) of their emotional needs are not being met.

Think about the last time you felt upset with someone. Like… that telemarketer who kept pitching unwanted offerings to you, interrupting your dinnertime, even though you already said, “No thank you.” Or the babysitter who showed up late (again). Or that colleague who bungled up a project, leaving you to clean up the mess.

In each situation, you felt upset because one of your emotional needs was not being met. Like… your need for peace and quiet. Your need for organization and order. Your need for a weekend without any unexpected work heaped onto your plate. Or maybe, on a deeper level, your need to feel seen, heard, and respected not ignored.

When you feel upset, before you do or say anything that you might later regret—Marshall encourages you to pause and ask yourself, “What emotional need is going unmet right now? How could I express that need and hopefully get it met?”

These are great questions because they can help us to investigate stressful situations with curiosity, rather than trying to resolve conflict from a “combative” or “reactive” place, which obviously doesn’t work.

Here is a script based on Marshall’s non-violent communication principles:

When I [see / hear / have / think about / find out that] ________,  I feel ________.

What I need is ________.

Would you be willing to ________?

Here’s an example of how you could take that script and apply it to a real-life situation:

When I see that the sink is overflowing with dirty pots and pans, I feel frustrated because I’m very hungry and I was looking forward to cooking a nice meal for us tonight. But now it’s going to be more difficult and take longer because all the items that I need are dirty.

What I need is a bit more support around the house, especially when I have a long, 12-hour workday, like today. It would feel great if we divided up chores more equally and I’d love for us to come up with a new plan together.

Would you be willing to handle those dishes while I take a quick shower? Then I’ll get started on dinner. Thank you.

In this example, you’re not saying, “YOU never do any housework! YOU are so lazy and selfish!” Instead, you’re describing how you feel and how your needs could be met (using “I…” phrases), without lashing out angrily and making it somebody’s “fault.”

By following this script, or something similar, you can express your feelings, express your needs, and even propose a potential solution to whatever issue is bothering you without placing “blame” or “criticism” on anyone’s shoulders. This can open the doorway to a productive conversation instead of a screaming match (or the equally unpleasant “silent treatment.”)

As lifelong conflict hater and conflict avoider, this is definitely something that I am still actively “learning.”

Is there some kind of conflict in your life (something new or something that’s been going on for years) that you could approach in a new way?

Do some work on your own to identify which of your emotional needs are going unmet. Write out a script for yourself. Then practice saying it aloud a few times to see if you can find a calm, non-defensive tone. Then… try it out!

Wishing you a very swift and healthy resolution…

~ Dr. Sue

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Feeling run down? 5 quick ways to give yourself a big (or at least, temporary) energy boost.

Around the time of year, summer makes its coffee with butterfinal departure and turns into full-force fall. You start hearing a lot of sniffles, groans, and sleepy yawns. Colds spread like the latest celebrity trend. My son told me he went through a box of tissues at school. I pray that the hand-washing lessons are being heeded.

The days grow shorter and darker, and we start wondering if it’s time to turn on the SAD light.

We could all use an energy boost.

But aside from guzzling a nuclear-yellow-colored can of carbonated energy soda, are there any quick ways to give yourself a serious lift? Turns out, the answer is Yes! Multiple studies confirm that there are lots of interesting tweaks you can make to your daily routine that result in a noticeable, measurable energy and attentiveness boost.

Here are five energy-boosting tips that I love, and they’re all quick, inexpensive. And better energy means your immune system is primed for protection too.

1. Add grass-fed butter or coconut oil to your morning cup of coffee.

This new health trend has a lot of people thinking, “Huh? Buttery coffee? Gross!” but it’s actually a pretty interesting idea. Whisking a teaspoon or two of high-quality fat into your coffee changes the way that your body metabolizes the beverage, which means you’ll have a steadier caffeine ride without the abrupt crash. The fat also acts like superfuel for your brain, improving your decision-making, mood, memory, and perhaps helping to prevent neurodegenerative diseases. After blending, it tastes creamy, not oily. Weird, but worth a try!

2. Sniff some peppermint.

Pop a stick of minty gum into your mouth, or sniff a bundle of fresh minty herbs, and you’ll feel refreshed, right? But is that energy boost “real” or just in your imagination?

Turns out, it’s real. Researchers have found that inhaling a whiff of peppermint helps people to concentrate better, complete tasks faster, stay more alert, and even helps athletes to perform better on the field.

Try making your own all-natural mint soap for an extra energy boost in the shower, or anytime you wash your hands.

If you’re a gum lover, switch to a brand that doesn’t include tons of aspartame and other chemicals. Look for xylitol, a sugar-free wonder that improves your dental health.

Or just keep a small pot with fresh mint on your windowsill or desk—extra credit for that one, because keeping plants in your workspace can lower anxiety levels, improve your reaction times and attentiveness, and just help you to feel happier overall.

3. Turn off the TV at least one night a week.

There are so many exciting shows out there, not to mention hundreds of TED Talks, documentaries, and other videos with world-changing ideas, all free, online, right at your fingertips! It can be tempting to curl up and float away on a TV-cloud for hours every night.

Unfortunately, that habit isn’t great for your body and it’s probably making you feel very fatigued. Studies show that the glow from your TV or computer screen over-stimulates your hypothalamus and slows down the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Without enough melatonin, your body won’t fall asleep when it ought to, which leads to sluggish energy levels the next day.

I recommend giving yourself a completely TV-free, screen-free night as often as possible, but get started with one night a week. You’ll fall asleep more quickly and sleep far more deeply on those nights, waking up feeling refreshed!

4. Wear a sleep mask to block out artificial light.

As I mentioned a moment ago, artificial lights from your TV set, from your tablet, from your smartphone, and so on—confuse your body and interrupt your natural sleep cycles. The disruption continues even after you have fallen asleep, leading to low-quality sleep where you wake up feeling tired even if you got 8-9 hours of rest.

The best solution is to remove all blinking, glowing devices from your bedroom, use black out shades, and to cover the exposed lights with black masking tape. While you work on that, here’s a quicker solution: Just put on a sleep mask! It’s not a perfect solution, since your skin has photoreceptors too, but it’s a great way to get started. Poor sleep is a serious health issue with consequences that might really surprise you. So if you’re going to spend $10 on a new “fall accessory” this season… make it a sleep mask.

5. Crank up your favorite music.

Did you know that for certain competitive sports, it is illegal to listen to music while competing because it gives athletes an unfair advantage? (Just like steroids and stimulant drugs!) That’s the power of music!

Energizing music activates your body’s sympathetic nervous system. Your heart rate quickens, delivering more oxygen all throughout your body, and your entire system becomes energized and ready for action.

If you’re doing a repetitive, tedious task, music can also distract you from experiencing feelings of boredom and fatigue and can help you to perform better (that’s why runners who run to the beat of a fast song tend to run faster, and feel happier, than runners who are slogging along in silence.)

Need some new energy-pumping tunes? Try this dance-party playlist from Spotify or one of these 102 energizing playlists from 8tracks. Or pick a song from your past that’s sentimental and exciting for you. You’ll be transported right back to your first road trip, your first school dance, or freshman year at college.

If you want steady, strong, consistent energy throughout your day, you already know the basics that you need to cover: deep sleep, proper nutrition, plenty of water, and a positive mindset.

But sometime, you just need a little extra boost and I hope the 5 tips I just laid out give you a few ideas.

With that, I’m going to spritz a little peppermint oil onto a Kleenex and give it a big sniff to give myself an energy boost for the rest of the day. If anyone around the office thinks I’ve gone nuts, I’ll just say, “Don’t worry. It’s science.”
~ Dr. Sue

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Something missing in your life? Don’t be a complainer. Be a creator.

Here in Fargo, we have a saying:child playing with Legos

“Create the kind of community that you want to be a part of.”

I love this advice because it’s applicable to so many scenarios.

Your career. Your professional network. Your circle of friends. Your family. Your health.

Living and working in a smaller city like Fargo has forced me to take the initiative and create my opportunities.

A few years ago, I wanted to learn from one of my favorite writers… so I personally invited her to come up to Fargo and I put her up in a lovely hotel for the night. She said “Yes!”

I went to TEDMED in San Diego and dreamed of bringing a similar experience to Fargo. Serendipity intervened and I’ve been involved in TEDxFargo since it began in 2012.

For many years, Tonya Stende and I have had discussions on women and leadership. We got involved in the creation of 35 Under 35, TEDxFargoWomen, Women Connect through the Chamber, and Women’s StartUp Weekend. We rallied great women like Tammy Miller, Sher Thomsen, Jodi Heilman, Susan Gartin, Jodee Bock, Pam McGee, Chris Thompson, Carrie Leopold, Katie Hutton, Deb Eslinger, Carol Schlossman and many others. And we’re not done yet.

In my practice, I’m always looking at ways to educate my patients and others to lead happier, healthier and more beautiful lives. We did a webinar and live Twitter chat this summer. We do frequent seminars at the office. And of course, writing for you each week is a blessing that I don’t take lightly. The root of the word doctor means teacher, and through writing I hope to teach and perhaps inspire you toward positive change.

Sometimes being a creator means being aware of all the good stuff that is already here.

When it comes to kids, there is a lot going on already! Sports galore, College for Kids at MSUM, Camp Invention, art experiences at the Plains…. The list is endless. We had a blast at the Park Board’s Fall FestivaI last weekend. It seems there is always something to celebrate in our region!

I let my son Grant know what’s going on and he helps choose things he wants to try. Hockey and soccer were not his thing, but he’s a great swimmer. He wants to try fencing and karate. He loves KidzBop and expressed interest in music lessons, so he starts next week at Elevate School of Rock. He’ll give drums and guitar a try, and hopes to join a band in the next few months.

Kari Bucholz is a shining example of a creator. Her son Haley has dyslexia, but Kari struggled to find services to would help him. She researched options, became a specially trained tutor and opened a center, Haley’s Hope, to create services with trained tutors for many other kids who have dyslexia. Grant is blessed to work with Alison from Haley’s Hope after school twice a week.

Sometimes there is too much on my calendar. I don’t want to run myself or my son ragged. So we take time for lazy Saturday mornings and Legos too.

Yet, when I look back at the incredible experiences I’ve gotten to enjoy here in Fargo and elsewhere:  the brilliant people I’ve met, the stories I’ve heard, and the rich experiences for my son…..I’m so glad that I took the initiative to get things rolling or to sign up, support and take advantage of another creator’s gift.

While I’m certainly not perfect, and certainly have a few mopey moments like anybody else, generally speaking: I am proud to be a “creator” instead of a “waiter” or a “complainer.”

My friend Susan Hyatt hails from small-town Indiana and has a saying of her own:

“Create what you crave.”

Such simple advice, yet so powerful.

No party? Throw one.

No workout class at the time you want? Start one.

Miss your friends? Reach out and make some plans.

The kids are bored? Sign them up for something different and cool. Or create what they need.

Be the gas on the fire. Be the initiator. Be the change. Participate.

People in your community will be so grateful that you took the lead, and meanwhile… you’ll be ensuring that all of your important cravings get met.

It goes a long way toward happy, healthy and beautiful. Nothing feels better than that.


~ Dr. Sue

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You are missing 14 hours of sleep every week. Here’s how to get that time back!

Recently, a report on the airline industry woman sleepingthat was kept “secret” for many years has surfaced and it’s not pretty.

To bottom line it: air traffic controllers (you know, the men and women who are responsible
 for making sure that planes don’t crash into one another!) are dealing with crazy schedules and extreme sleep deprivation, and it is undeniably impacting their performance at work.

According to the study, many controllers get only 3.1 hours of sleep (on average) before starting a midnight shift and just 5.4 hours before an early morning shift.

No wonder this info was suppressed from public attention, right? It’s terrifying!

But air traffic controllers aren’t the only people who are scrambling to perform well at work despite chronic sleep deprivation. Medical professionals are definitely at risk. And millions of Americans are in a similar situation.

Americans currently average 6.8 hours of sleep at night. Sleep experts typically recommend 8 hours for optimum health and alertness.

So, let’s say that you’re currently getting 6 hours a night when your body really needs 8. That’s a “sleep deficit” of 14 hours per week.

The big question on your mind might be, “How can I possibly catch up? I’m already so busy. Where am I going to find an extra 14 hours to sleep more?”

As a physician, business owner, and mom, I get it. Time is precious and there never seems to be quite enough! But when it comes to getting enough sleep, we really can’t afford to be haphazard. We’ve got to get serious about this. Our lives are, quite literally, at risk.

The best thing is to plan your bedtime with 7-8 hours of shut-eye in mind. Have a wind-down ritual at night and a morning routine that gets you going for an energetic day. If you are still coming up short, here’s my guide to getting your “Bonus 14” hour of shut-eye every week…

1. Stop watching TV just 3 nights per week. [Bonus sleep: 6 hours]

If you typically binge-watch a couple Netflix or Hulu episodes before bedtime, that’s adding up to quite a lot of time throughout the week.

It’s amazing how quickly just “1 episode” can turn into 2, 3 or more.

Choose to skip TV just 3 nights a week and hit the pillow earlier instead. (Your dreams will be far more interesting that the latest episode of The Real Housewives of Fargo and you will awaken feeling refreshed! Promise.)

2. Stop multitasking at work just 1 day per week. [Bonus sleep: 4 hours]

“Multitasking,” aka, flipping from one task to another, keeping your email inbox open at all times, or having a dozen tabs open on your web browser, results in us wasting 20-40% of our workday.

Instead of working productively, all of that wasted time gets spent just trying “get focused” and find a steady groove. Projects that could get finished quickly take up to 40% longer than they need to. Countless studies confirm: multi-tasking is the worst!

Imagine saying “No!” to multi-tasking. Imagine turning your phone to “silent,” putting a “do not disturb” sign on your door, or working offsite somewhere private for one day or afternoon. You could finish your work faster, wrap up the day sooner, and get to bed earlier.

If you typically work 8-10 hours a day, making an effort to stop multi-tasking could buy you a nice chunk of bonus time for sleep.

3. Take a short nap 4 times per week. [Bonus sleep: 2 hours]

Napping isn’t exactly “the same” as getting a full night’s sleep in your bed, but it can combat the negative effects of sleep deprivation and give you a serious boost.

(Just one example: a study from NASA shows that getting a quick nap boosted pilot’s alertness by 34%.)

Schedule a 30-minute nap into your calendar 4 times per week and honor that time just like any other important appointment. If you are an overachiever, you can use Dr. Sara Mednick’s “Nap Wheel” tool to find the optimum time for your “nappointment.”

4. Declare Tuesday to be a “social media free” day. [Bonus sleep: 2 hours]

On average, Americans spend just shy of 2 hours per day using social media, clicking through photos, sharing updates, commenting, and scrolling through other people’s feeds. That’s a ton of time!

Choose one day per week -Tuesday, or any day that you like, and log off completely. You really won’t miss much of anything, and you’ll have so much extra time to rest and snooze.

5. Want to improve your sleep quality?

There are so many steps you can take, including removing electronics from your bedroom (they can keep you awake even when you’re tired), upgrading your bed linens to something more cozy and luxurious (it really helps!), lowering the temperature in your bedroom, adding a fan to circulate the cool air, cultivating a calming evening journaling practice, and consulting with a physician who specializes in sleep medicine if you feel like something else is disrupting your sleep (like snoring or sleep apnea).

No matter what you choose to do: make a few small changes, or big changes, or a total lifestyle reinvention, try to remain gentle and patient with yourself as you put new, healthier habits in place.

The last thing you want to do is beat yourself up for not being “good enough” at getting enough sleep and then wind up staring at your bedroom ceiling, wide awake and distressed, instead of drifting off to dreamland.

Plan your day wisely. Be kind to yourself. Have patience. Focus on making positive upgrades where you can. And remember, sleep is good for your skin too!

Sweet dreams & sleep well…


~ Dr. Sue

Posted in Newsletter, Positively Beautiful | 1 Comment

Need a break from all the negativity? 10 places where you can find 100% happy-making, uplifting, toe-tapping “good news.”

A friend of mine took a road trip, recently, peace, love, and rock and roll and figured, “I’ll catch up on the news while I drive.”

She tuned into a popular news radio station and listened to the latest coverage for hours and hours on the road.

By the time she reached her destination, she felt rattled and anxious. Her stomach was knotted up. Her cheerful “road trip adventure” mood had noticeably darkened. And no wonder: she’d been soaking in 5 hours of talk radio about sludgy spills polluting rivers, nuclear bombs, warfare, rioting, and discrimination!

Sometimes, it feels like news outlets only choose to focus on what’s wrong in the world.

If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably encountered at least one person who uses his or her profile as their own personal “negative newsfest,” a place to vent about everything that upsets them, from bad customer service at the airport to the latest economic downturn. Nothing wrong with self-expression, of course. We all have the right to share our feelings and speak our mind. But all of that ranting and negativity can begin to feel pretty toxic.

Which begs the question:

Is there anywhere left on the Internet where you can find purely “good news”?


If you need a break from all the relentless negativity, and want to reconnect with everything that’s going “right” in the world, here is your official get-happy list:

1. AirBnB

Here’s an interesting factoid: the act of planning a fun vacation can create a surge of happy-making neurotransmitters. In fact, some researchers have found that your happiness levels are actually higher when you are “anticipating” an upcoming vacation, as opposed to when you actually go!

Visit a site like AirBnB (or your travel-inspiration website of choice) and start perusing your options. I used the site to score a nice condo near Yellowstone Park on our summer trip. I’ll be pondering somewhere warm for February!

2. Brit+Co.

From easy after-school snacks to DIY Halloween costumes to quirky nail design art, this cheery website is a nonstop parade of cuteness and sweetness. Spend 5 minutes here and you’ll be floating on cloud nine!

3. DailyGood

Their tagline is “News that inspires.” That pretty much sums it up! Check out their “Everyday Heroes” section for uplifting stories about wonderful people doing wonderful things. Got a happy story that you want to share? You can become a “Good News Scout” and contribute to the website, too!

4. Kid President

He’s 9 years old and he’s got a message for you: “Love changes everything. So fill the world with it.”

If you haven’t watched a Kid President video yet, start with his now-legendary Pep Talk. After that, check out his Open Letter To Moms. Unbelievable cuteness.

5. Maximum Fun

Dozens of hysterical comedy podcasts with new episodes released every week. All free! Some are raunchy and wild, others are more family-friendly. For a burst of pure delight, check out Can I Pet Your Dog?: a podcast for dog-lovers, dog-owners, and dog-wanters, discussing dog-related sightings and news. Too cute.

6. Soul Pancake

“We create stuff that matters. That opens your heart. That makes you think. Our mission is to help you and your audience figure out what it means to be human and feel damn good doing it.”

Quite possibly the loveliest company “mission statement” I’ve ever seen! Soul Pancake’s collection of videos are gorgeous and uplifting. This one is an all-time fav.

7. The Daily Puppy

Puppies. And more puppies. Every day. New puppies. Plus stories that are often written from a first-person (first-puppy?) perspective. That’s all you need to know.

8. The Optimist

Formely The Intelligent Optimist, this magazine focuses on “solutions journalism.”

The Optimist’s journalists don’t just pinpoint negative things going on in the world and leave it at that — they seek to uncover solutions and opportunities for progress. They release just a few issues per year and each one is a gem.

9. The Nicest Place On The Internet

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but… head over to this website if you ever need a hug.

10. Upworthy

Thoughtful news stories covering a diverse range of topics — like this story about two brave, inspiring young women fighting inequality. Or this story about a magic children’s book that makes kids fall asleep! (Note to self: order a copy asap!)

11. Daryn Kagan –

Daryn is a Stanford classmate of mine and was a CNN anchor until 2006. After she left, she went on a quest for good news and started this site, with the tag line “Show the world what’s possible.” She curates stories of courageous people and positivity.

Negative news will always be “out there” — but how much you choose to consume is up to you.

I have a handful of friends who are local news reporters, and they strive to balance “tough news” with “good news” when they are selecting which types of stories to cover.

The unfortunate truth, though, is that “bad news” tends to grip people’s attention more intensely — which is why many news outlets take on a more “negative” tone.

But is “frightening” people the only way to inspire people to pay attention, live differently or take action to resolve a big problem?

Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that that’s true.

Personally, I feel more inspired to “do good” in the world after watching Kid President dance under a tree than I do after consuming an hour of mainstream news TV. (Maybe that’s just me. But I suspect others feel the same way!)

Here’s what I know for sure:

If you’re feeling oversaturated with negativity and just need a break, go ahead. Take a break! Log off. Unplug. Or pop over to a website or blog that’s charged with positivity.

You are in charge of what kinds of messages you allow to percolate into your mind.

Choose wisely, and remember:

Even in an “imperfect” world, it’s OK to be happy.


~ Dr. Sue

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A peek inside… a doctor’s fridge. (All my jars, bottles, and cartons: revealed!)

“Fridge voyeurism” seems to be all the rage lately.Dr. Mathison's fridge contents

Lifestyle website Well+Good has a refrigerator look book series where readers get a detailed glimpse into the fridges of fitness instructors and wellness bloggers.

Heavy Table, a Twin Cities based food blog has a “What’s in your fridge?” series profiling musicians, athletes, and other celebs. (Apparently, rockstar Prince has 18 varieties of mustard, 5 pounds of Dunk-a-roo cookies and a quart of yak milk in his!)

This photo series of “fridge portraits” is bizarre, intriguing, and sometimes, quite sad.

Bottom line: you really can learn a lot about a person’s habits, lifestyle, values, and preferences just by staring into their refrigerator. I could probably collect a ton of useful diagnostic information if I started having my patients send me their Fridge selfies. (“Frelfies?”)

After perusing a couple of fridge-themed blog posts and articles, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Hmm… what’s in MY fridge right now?”

I went home and did an inventory of everything I’ve got.

I’ve got a plain old white fridge adorned with school pictures, the school calendar, first grade art work, and a magnet collection. It’s bursting at the seams, since it’s garden harvest season.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what the fridge of a physician, skincare specialist, entrepreneur and mom looks like, here goes. This is unedited and slightly embarrassing. I need to do a serious cleanup.

Inside my fridge, you will find…

  1.     Organic whole milk – For my son.
  2.     Green juice – This version has about 18 cucumbers, one lemon, one lime, one apple and a chunk of fresh ginger. I use a slow juicer from Huron, so I still get some pulp. I feel just a little less guilty about missing the fiber. And I compost the rest of the pulp that spits out.
  3.     Filtered water – I’m using a Shaklee filter right now.
  4.     San Pellegrino sparkling water – Bubbles always feel like a celebration, and it has some minerals too.
  5.     Leftover pan-fried walleye from Uncle Chris – He used Shore lunch, Panko bread crumbs and Bob’s Red seasoning from Fleet Farm. Amazing!
  6.     Eggs – We go through a lot of these. Deviled, scrambled, or over medium.
  7.     Spinach – Some of this usually gets slimy before I eat it all.
  8.     Raspberries – I always feel indulgent with fresh berries in the fridge.
  9.     Cheddar cheese – We do a lot of cheese toast for breakfast.
  10.     Kerrygold butter – For my Bulletproof coffee.
  11.     Coconut milk yogurt – First time purchase and I like it.
  12.     Vanilla greek yogurt – Very tasty. I wish I could find a brand made with stevia. Next time, I’ll buy plain and mix in the stevia.
  13.     Trix yogurt – Super sweet and neon colors, yikes. For my son, not me! I won’t get suckered into this again.
  14.     Cucumbers – Some sliced and ready to eat. I leave to skin on for extra crunch. My son will eat these for a snack. I have a CSA share with Bluebird Gardens and one through Farm In the Dell, so I have abundant cucumbers.
  15.     Broccoli – My son will also nosh on raw broccoli. I like it steamed or sauteed.
  16.     Pickles – A huge jar from Costco.
  17.     Apples – Pink Lady variety.
  18.     Lemons, limes – I have a hard time going through all these in the big Costco bag.
  19.     Avocados – I’m inspired to make baked eggs in an avocado half. I’m also kind of in love with guacamole.
  20.     Unidentified leftovers in a sherbert container – This has got to go.
  21.     Plastic blue apples – These are supposed to extend produce life.
  22.     Condiments and salad dressings that have seen better days – These have got to go.
  23.     Sesame oil – For a little drizzle on sauteed broccoli.
  24.     Whipping cream in the spray canister – I’ve caught my son spraying it directly in his mouth.
  25.     An unopened ham from Easter 2014 – Out it goes.

 I’ll give myself a B+. Some pretty healthy food, but I lose things because of the clutter.

In a very literal sense: we are what we eat.

Your body breaks down food into energy to fuel the beating of your heart, the inhalation and exhalation of your lungs, your brain function, and the repair processes that keep your bones, muscles, hair, nails, and skin cells healthy and strong.

So, eat well.

You don’t have to be rigid and obsessive or aim for “perfection,” but try to fill your fridge  and fuel yourself with the highest quality foods you can get your hands on, as often as possible. Eat lots of greens, veggies, high quality protein, a little fruit and healthy fats.


OK: the big reveal. What’s inside YOUR fridge? If you’re feeling exhibitionistic, tell me on Twitter. Even better? Tweet a pic. #InsideMyFridge

I’m not sure why staring into other people’s fridges is so endlessly fascinating, but I know one thing for sure: I can’t wait to see yours!


~ Dr. Sue

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