Karen's Articles

Recycle Nutrients and Compost the Easy Way

When you clean out your refrigerator, do you ever find old, wilted, mushy food you would not eat? Do you toss the old food into your garbage can? This thrown-out food, unfortunately, ends up in landfills, usually in plastic bags.

Throwing away old fruits and vegetables, scraps, or even rotten apples is an unfortunate waste of resources. Reclaim micronutrients through composting.

Food.compostRecycling unprocessed food, plant scraps, leaves, and grass clippings makes an easy-to-create compost.

Compost bins are available for purchase, and comprehensive "how to" information is available online. Bought or homemade composting bins are not the only option. In-ground composting is simple, easy, and costs nothing.

Thirty years ago, I planted my first successful garden. I went to my next-door neighbor for pointers. Her garden soil was rich, dark, and soft. My soil was grey and hard. I needed her help.

Expecting complicated advice that I would not follow, she showed me simplicity instead. She taught me how simple it was to have nutritious soil. I have followed her technique for the past thirty years whenever I had a plot of dirt. This process is simple, easy, and cost-free. The only equipment needed is a gallon glass jar with a tight-fitting lid - an old gallon pickle jar or something similar. Expensive, bulky compost bins are not necessary.

WHAT TO DO: I use a gallon, glass, pickle jar with a tight-fitting lid. I keep it convenient, on the floor near my pantry. I add scraps or pieces of unprocessed foods, such as potato skins, rotten apples or tomatoes, avocado peelings, rinsed eggshells, wilted greens, used coffee grounds, loose tea leaves, and other similar foods.

When the jar becomes full, I dig a hole in my garden or flowerbeds and empty its contents and old leaves or wood chips into the hole. I then fill it with the dirt I dug to make the hole. I put a large rock or three or four bricks on my newly filled compost hole to "mark the spot." I leave it like that for months before I move the rock and dig to check how it is composting. If you throw an avocado pit in the hole, it grows into a fledgling avocado tree that needs removing. It will not survive North Carolina winters. Either throw the avocado pit in your garbage or be willing to pull the fledging twig and toss it.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Do not compost meat, bones, or foods processed with preservatives and unwanted chemicals. Do not compost the entire rotten egg. Only compost the rinsed eggshells. I now crush, dry, and grind my eggshells into powder for my chickens. Most people do not have chickens but have dirt waiting to become fertile soil. Also, be careful if you have dogs that will dig up your composted scraps and eat rotten food. A large rock or two or three bricks placed over freshly buried compost helps keep critters out of your recycled nutrients.

This composting process requires nothing but a glass container with a tight-fitting lid or a container that will not absorb the smells, nor will it rust.

Try it. This easy composting method will cost nothing and is available year-round, even if a bit of snow needs moving. It recycles valuable nutrients for your future fruits and vegetables or your flowers.

Springtime Wellness continued...

Karen Best Wright, B.S., M.A., Holistic Health & Wellness Coach

Springtime Wellness continued...


HerbsApril's wellness article focused on the many benefits of springtime, such as warmer weather, beautiful colors, and a time for more outside activities that benefit the body and soul. April's article also mentioned new life through gardening. Container gardening or a full-size garden producing fresh vegetables for a healthy summer is encouraged.

We continue Springtime Wellness with aromatic herbs that will grow in our area. Fresh herbs enhance the taste of almost any food eaten. Some herbs also have medicinal purposes and are even added to household cleaners, adding a pleasant smell to a freshly cleaned area.

A novice gardener who does not know the best place to plant herbs (some need more sun than others) should start with containers that are moveable around the flower bed until experienced. Herbs mixed among the roses and flowers add a delightful array of colors and beauty. It also promotes a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. There are few things better than going out into one's garden and picking fresh herbs that enhance the taste of dinner.

Some people prefer to start their herbs from seeds indoors and transplant them when the chance of frost is over. Others buy small plants from the garden center and transplant them. It depends on your interest, time, adequate space, and proper lighting to start plants indoors. Buying small plants from a garden center is more predictable. Some herbs are perennials – they grow year after year. Others are annuals – they last only one season. Know what you are buying and plan accordingly.

ROSEMARY: Rosemary is easy to grow and usually a perennial, except in extreme winters. Rosemary has a woodsy pine-like scent with a strong flavor. Its appearance is a cross between sage and lavender. Rosemary is used to flavor poultry, meats, stews, and casseroles. Long rosemary stems can be hung in the kitchen to dry, giving the kitchen a country look and a pleasant aroma.

BASIL: Basil is a universal favorite widely used in Italian cuisines. It is an annual, so be prepared to replace it in your garden next year. There are different types of basil, from sweet to spicy. Basil is also healthy as it adds vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to foods.

OREGANO: Oregano is a staple in Italian and Mexican cuisines. Oregano's spicy flavor can season beans, spaghetti, poultry, and homemade pizza. It is an easy-to-grow perennial that flourishes easily.

LAVENDER: Lavender is usually a perennial that has a calming floral scent. It is used in recipes and drinks though commonly used in bath salts, sachets, and potpourris for calming emotions. Lavender grows well in hot, dry conditions.

THYME: Thyme is an easy-to-grow perennial that can grow outside or indoors. Its robust flavor seasons meats, roasted vegetables, and soups. Also, add thyme to teas, cocktails, and marinades.

SAGE: Sage is a culinary herb that combines pleasantly with rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. It seasons meats, root vegetables, and soups. It is a hardy plant and best grown outdoors.

MINT: There are numerous types of mint; peppermint, spearmint, chocolate, and pineapple mint. The pineapple mint plant provides beautiful red flowers as the weather cools into autumn. The benefits of various mint plants have numerous health benefits, such as a digestive aid and an insect repellant. Freshly made mint tea straight from the garden beats hands down the processed little packages purchased from the grocery store.

Springtime Wellness - Holistic Health & Wellness

Karen Best Wright, B.S., M.A., Holistic Health & Wellness Coach

Springtime Wellness

SmilingflowerSpringtime can be a time that fills our lives with warmer weather, beautiful colors, and enthusiasm. Spring is a time for outside activities that lift the soul and strengthen our bodies. Walk fifteen to twenty minutes daily, and focus on the first signs of spring, such as the colorful flowers and the blossoming trees, to promote mindfulness and relieve stress. Spring brings the beginning of new life.

Spring can also fill the air with pollen and other allergens that trigger headaches and sinus issues. Allergies can ruin a beautiful spring day. Prepare ahead of time with either natural or medicinal remedies. Do not wait; prepare now.

To help springtime promote wellness, focus on eating fresh vegetables and fruits, staying hydrated with plenty of water, and avoiding heavy, greasy, processed foods. Incorporate clean air into your wellness plan. If the pollen is thick, with your car covered in yellow powder, have your air conditioner set to recycle the inside air, keeping the outside air outside your car. Room air cleaners can help clean the air inside the home. Make sure to change home air conditioner filters as needed.

Springtime brings life, so plant flowers and a small garden if possible. Even a few potted plants by the front door will be inviting. For those with allergies to coveted flowers and plants, wear long sleeves, long pants, and the dreaded face mask to help avoid rashes and sinus complaints. For those with no allergies to nature, enjoy.

What you think about can make or ruin a wonderful spring day. Whether walking or driving, daily notice the beauty of spring. Notice the colors, the variety, and the regular changes in nature. If you only notice the cracks in the roads and the mess of dogs left unattended, you will miss the beauty and feeling of renewal. Enjoy Spring 2023.

3 Steps to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds


What causes high blood sugar levels, and why is it harmful? The body needs and uses the nutrients in foods to nourish body organs. Without proper nutrients, body cells die. The pancreas releases the hormone insulin that allows the glucose from digested food to enter and nourish the body cells. When large amounts of sugar or simple carbohydrates inundate the body, the pancreas pumps out increased insulin. Eventually, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, or the body becomes resistant to the insulin. When insulin is ineffective, too much sugar remains in the blood and does not nourish the cells. When the blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diabetes, it is prediabetes.

Approximately 96 million American adults (one in three adults) have prediabetes, and most don't even know it. Without intervention, they are at increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. A simple blood test by your healthcare provider will diagnose prediabetes. Reducing blood sugar levels back to normal is possible and much preferred than the alternative.

STEP 1: Know your blood sugar levels

A glucometer is a simple blood glucose monitor. Purchase a glucometer at a pharmacy or online. It is easy to use and is necessary when tracking one's blood sugar levels. When fasting for at least eight hours or more, a healthy blood sugar level would be less than 100. Two hours after eating, a healthy range would be less than 140. Tracking one's blood sugar level is only the first step in lowering it.

STEP 2: Foods to eat and not eat

Learning what foods to eat and not eat is the next step. Read labels on all foods that have them. When "sugar" is listed, or one of its many names (such as corn syrup), it might be one to put back on the shelf. Learn the glycemic index (GI) of different foods. The higher the glycemic index, the faster it will raise your blood sugar level. The American Diabetes Association rates the glycemic index scores as "low" for 55 or below, "moderate" for 56 to 69, and "high" for 70 and higher. A simple internet search for the glycemic index of white bread is 71, while the glycemic index of 100% whole grain bread is 51. Become familiar with the GI of various foods. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugary desserts, soft drinks, and processed foods will spike blood sugar levels faster than high fiber complex carbohydrates.

STEP 3: Herbal Remedies

Along with monitoring one's blood sugar levels and eating the proper types and amounts of food, many people have found numerous herbal and natural remedies helpful. This is not a complete list, but a few include cinnamon, fenugreek tea and seeds, marshmallow root tea, aloe vera, ginseng, prickly pear cactus, ginkgo, and garlic.

For those already taking diabetes medication or pregnant or nursing women, consult your healthcare provider before adding herbal remedies.

Spiritual Wellness: Why Develop Spirituality?

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds


Spiritual Wellness refers to developing and experiencing morals, values, and purpose in life. As with the other areas of wellness, spiritual growth affects total wellness. The synergy of all aspects of wellness creates balance or imbalance in life.

There are multiple paths when developing spiritual health and identity. Spiritual wellness has less to do with a specific religion and more to do with experiencing a connection or relationship with a power greater than the conscious mind.

Spirituality is important. It is personal and will be experienced diversely by most everyone. Many people will develop spiritual wellness through religion or religious beliefs. Others will experience the spiritual process through meditation or thoughtfulness on who they are and what is happening in life.

Society often presents many challenges when focusing on developing spiritual awareness. Learning to view these challenges through a spiritual perspective can bring understanding to a chaotic life. That understanding can create motivation to improve life or bring peace to accept it.

Seeking to understand the connection among all earth's living - be they human, animals, or nature -   can bring a sense of spiritual wonder to life. Accepting that there is a reason for the "why" of life, even when it is not fully understood, brings both fascination and personal peace.

For some, being among like-minded people - a church or one's "tribe" - will bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Others may find their spiritual path a private and authentic way of life. Whatever avenue is chosen to achieve spiritual wellness, there are commonalities. A sense of purpose, developing and understanding personal values, and connecting to one's belief in God, a higher power, or a universal greater knowledge promotes spiritual growth and well-being.

Personal Environmental Wellness

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds


Environmental Wellness ranges from one's personal space to the all-encompassing physical world. Our earth's resources and environment are crucial. However, this article refers to personal environmental wellness, one’s home, neighborhood, and work environments. As with the other areas of wellness, one's personal environment affects all areas of health and wellness. The synergy of all aspects of wellness creates balance or imbalance in life.

When evaluating the home environment, there are several things to consider. The first is basic safety. One end of the spectrum is a dirty home, infested with insects, cluttered floors, and in need of vital repairs, causing a dangerous impact on health and wellness. The other end of this spectrum is a clean and orderly house that is maintained, creating a sense of peace and safety. The home environment directly impacts a person's physical and emotional well-being.

The neighborhood environment is crucial when it comes to safety issues. Is it safe to walk the neighborhood, especially at night? Is there a feeling of peace and beauty or anxiety and apprehension? Creating safe neighborhood environments usually requires the help of more than just the residents living on a specific street. It may require the support of an entire community. However, even individual residents can take a trash bag on a walk and pick up clutter, improving the safety and appearance of their little piece of the world.

The work environment is significant when a person spends a sizable amount of time each day at work. OSHA rules are put in place to prevent physical hazards in the workplace. However, even within those rules, there may be challenges. While one person might thrive in a busy and noisy work environment, another will not. Along with the physical safety of the workplace, the emotional and social environment also impacts employees. Are supervisors or other employees kind and supportive to each other or difficult and rude? An adverse work environment is stressful and can set a person up for a life feeling out of balance.

When evaluating your environmental wellness, remember to consider what you have total control over and when you need the collaboration of a team. A team effort creates a positive approach to a healthy personal environment, whether family members, neighbors, or co-workers. Living in a healthy personal environment benefits all areas of life.

Intellectual Wellness: How to improve intellectual wellness

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds


Intellectual Wellness pertains to developing the ability to learn, retain the knowledge learned, and apply it to everyday living. There is a wide range of intellectual abilities, from intellectual disability to intellectual genius. Most people will be somewhere in between these two extremes.

Directly related to Intellectual Wellness is one's mental or cognitive acuities. Cognitive or mental acuity refers to how the brain functions. Intellectual Wellness is affected by the ability or disability to learn, the ability to retain the learning, and the ability to apply that learning to proper functioning in life.  In turn, Intellectual Wellness can affect all other areas in life.

The basics of Intellectual Wellness may begin with the ability to read, the level of reading, and retaining the information. After gaining knowledge, applying that knowledge to make proper judgments in decision making and interacting with others promotes Intellectual Wellness.

Intellectual Wellness or cognitive acuities is affected by various factors. The first could be someone's innate ability they acquired at birth. However, many things besides genetics are involved. Everyday choices can affect one's ability to learn and think clearly. Thinking skills such as reading, writing, planning using logic, having stimulating discussions with others, continually learning new skills, and being aware of the effects of any medication promote intellectual wellness.

Developing intellectual skills affect all areas of life. Intellectual Wellness improves one's ability to make proper physical health choices such as nutrition and healthy activities. It benefits emotional health by understanding moods and consequences. Intellectual Wellness helps with social interactions with family, friends, and strangers. It even helps with the last two areas of wellness, Environmental Wellness, and Spiritual Wellness. It creates the ability to think, retain that knowledge, and apply it to life.

Various behaviors can impair intellectual skills. Lack of sleep, drugs, alcohol, certain prescription medications, a poor diet, and even the aging process cause impairment. Some of these areas are easier to correct than others.

Intellectual Wellness affects all phases of life, starting from childhood to well into the aging process. Activities and abilities will vary, challenges will arise, and frustrations may occur. When a person can learn, comprehend, and make autonomous decisions, hope for a healthier life exists.

Social Wellness, what does it mean?

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds


Social Wellness is a critical aspect of holistic wellness. What does it mean? It does not mean a person must be an extrovert and have a ton of friends and be the life of the party. It does not mean a person needs to like everyone or be liked by everyone else. However, it does mean that a person is capable of engaging socially in an appropriate manner. It does mean a person can develop meaningful relationships.

These past couple of years have been challenging for most people. Social Wellness typically includes being involved in healthy relationships, whether family, friendships, through a social network, or even in public. Human beings have an innate need to make connections with others. Social wellness determines the ease or difficulty in making these connections, which affects the quality of one's life.

It is easy to understand the importance of physical and emotional wellness. It may be harder to comprehend how one's social interactions influence all areas of one's life. It's important when developing relationships that one defines which ones should become an intimate part of one’s life and which ones are best to be "friendly" encounters.

Some signs of social wellness are the ability to treat others with dignity, being able to respectfully communicate with others, and understanding your boundaries as well as the boundaries of others. There is confusion between respecting someone and being respectful. "Respect" and "respectful" may come from the same root word, but they do not have the same meaning. Respect is how we regard a person. Respectful is how we treat them.

Another sign of social wellness is developing assertiveness, which is neither passive nor aggressive. Learning conflict management and maintaining relationships that are meaningful and fulfilling are integral for social wellness.

As mentioned, the past couple of years have been challenging regarding social interactions. Individuals need to decide for themselves how best to meet these difficulties. Social wellness is all about relationships. How one interacts with family members, neighbors, community members, and even those outside of one's personal space creates social wellness.

Thoughts to Emotions: Emotional Wellness

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds


Emotional wellness consists of creating positive emotions and not allowing negative emotions to control our actions and our ability to live a meaningful life. It is interdependent with physical, social, environmental, mental/intellectual (how we think), and even spiritual wellness.

What causes emotions? Before there is an emotion or feeling, there is a thought. That thought might be a memory, or it might be a thought triggered by current external stimuli, or perhaps both. The brain reacts instantly (thinking) to something it notices, be it pleasant or frustrating. If the thought is powerful enough, it will trigger an emotional reaction.

If a stranger or friend gives an unexpected compliment, it likely conjures a positive, pleasant thought. That positive thought evokes a positive emotion, causing one to feel “good.” If the memory or external situation is perceived as a threat, a host of negative emotions can follow. Those negative emotions can affect all areas of life. An obsession over an unpleasant situation and negative emotion is like being a fly stuck to flypaper. Mentally observing the thought can help one choose a better response or way of reacting.

Imagine a woman knocks over her cup of coffee or tea, gets upset, shouts profanities, and throws her favorite mug into the garbage. Instead, maybe this woman cleans up the mess, refills her cup, and perhaps still mutters a few not-so-nice words? Which woman would you rather be around? Emotional Wellness does not mean everything goes well. It does not mean a person is always happy or handles everything perfectly. It means that one can choose how to respond to thoughts and events that happen in life. Emotional wellness lifts our spirits amid chaos.

Changing one’s perspective (changing thoughts) can help manage and create healthy emotions. Changing one's perspective may be difficult, or it may simply be one of those ah-ha moments that brings sudden enlightenment.

Years ago, I had an ah-ha moment that instantly changed my emotions, resulting in my changed behavior. After raising my own eight children, I found myself in my 50’s raising three little grandchildren. While I wanted my grandchildren, I was exhausted and sometimes irritable from the constant spills and messes. I remember the day clearly when I walked into the kitchen and saw the dishwasher open and dishes everywhere. I almost yelled out of frustration when a thought/voice came out of nowhere. "You could be raising disabled children who are in wheelchairs. They would be incapable of making messes." How did that thought come to me? I don’t know, but it changed me. Suddenly, I was grateful for raising healthy children who could choose to make a mess. I admit; changing one’s perspective is often not that easy, but it is worth the effort.

In Summary, thoughts evoke emotions. Positive thinking produces positive emotions that promote Emotional Wellness which, contributes to a quality, healthy, holistic lifestyle.

Holistic Health & Wellness: Why am I so tired?

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds


The first article in this series explained the word "holistic" originated from the Greek word "holos," meaning whole, complete, or entire. This article is about the physical aspect of wellness.

Our physical bodies are very complex. Consequently, many things can influence the amount of energy one either does or does not have. Feeling overly tired takes away from the experience of feeling well. However, that may not mean we are sick, or it might.

Extreme fatigue may warrant a visit to the doctor in case something is going on beyond your control. With lab work and an exam, a doctor may discover problems you might not have been aware of yet. However, a person may come home with a clean bill of health, just as exhausted and frustrated.

Many things, including stress, can cause one to be overly tired. A lack of sleep is a cause of fatigue, but stress, worry, and too much caffeine can also cause poor sleep. Eating whole, healthy food, supplementing with necessary supplements, and avoiding sugary or processed foods can help with fatigue. Not enough physical activity causes fatigue. Negative thoughts and feeling overwhelmed or lonely may cause fatigue.

A healthy type of fatigue may happen after a day of hard work. There's a feeling of accomplishment. The fatigue one experiences when simply doing mundane chores may cause depression, which worsens fatigue.

If a medical physical gives no answers to what may be causing extreme tiredness, examining your daily life is needed. What are your daily thoughts, activities, interactions with friends and family, your goals or lack of goals, or your general outlook on life? Doing this may help you decide what needs to improve.

Never underestimate the power that stress has on the human body. Unresolved stress not only causes fatigued but may cause serious illnesses.

In summary, if you feel you are overly tired, honestly examining your life and improving your daily choices may solve your problems. If it does not help, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Holistic Health & Wellness: What does it mean?

By Karen Best Wright

Published in Albemarle Tradewinds


Assessment Graphic
What do you think of when you hear the term "holistic health & wellness?" Do you have a clue? Do you think of alternative medical care or alternative healing techniques? That may or may not be part of a holistic health & wellness program or holistic lifestyle.

The word "holistic" originates from the Greek word "holos," meaning whole, complete, or entire. Using this definition, holistic health refers to a person's “complete” health that includes six areas: physical, emotional, social, mental/intellectual, spiritual, and environmental health. Holistic health is an all-encompassing approach to health.

What do you think of when you hear the word "wellness?" Wellness focuses on the positive aspects of health, not illnesses. It focuses on prevention and creating positive outcomes in all six areas of life.

The first thing that often comes to mind regarding health or wellness is “physical” wellness or illness. However, that is only one component of one’s well-being. All six areas of wellness (physical, emotional, social, mental/intellectual, spiritual, and environmental) interact together. They create either a balanced, productive, and satisfying life or an unbalanced life resulting in stress, unhappiness, and even illness.

The key to creating a healthy holistic lifestyle is first to remember the six areas of wellness. Write them down through journaling or put the list on your refrigerator or mirror. These six areas are best committed to memory to ensure personal progress.

Second, examine any habits, problems, and even desires or goals you may have. Decide which wellness category matches these actions and thoughts. And finally, stay positive. Focus on your strengths to help overcome any weaknesses.

This approach to wellness can benefit children, teens, individual adults, couples, and families. Watch for future articles covering in-depth information on each area of wellness.