Wiser Living
Finding a natural solution

The Doug Coombs Foundation: Elevating Youth in Jackson Hole

Doug Coombs was a skiing legend; he passed away in 2006 after trying to rescue a fallen skier. Several years after his death, his wife Emily started a very special foundation in his memory. The Doug Coombs Foundation helps lift up children of poverty by giving them the opportunity to become involved in outdoor activities, specifically skiing, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Emily started simply by enrolling 28 kids into Snow King Mountain's ski school with her own money. It didn't take long before people noticed and wanted to help. Soon, sponsors like Marmot, K2 Skis and Smith Optics jumped in.

doug coombs foundation participants

Snow King Mountain

“Snow King was the key component since the inception of the Doug Coombs Foundation. Without Snow King, introducing the Hispanic population to the sport of skiing would have had many more challenges,” says Emily.

Snow King Mountain is a secondary ski resort in Jackson Hole, with the other being Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Snow King’s lift setup, low avalanche incident rate, and less rugged terrain makes it a safer place for kids. “Snow king is the ideal solution given it’s in town location, close to the homes of the families we serve, as well as its limited natural hazards, compared to the terrain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort,” Emily adds. “Snow king has always been and remains a critical element in the mission of getting our low income work force into the sport of skiing, and then providing a place for them to continue skiing throughout their years living in Jackson Hole.”

Changing the Sport of Skiing

The Doug Coombs Foundation is changing Jackson Hole, and the world of skiing, in a particularly profound way. "Prior to the inception of the Doug Coombs Foundation, Latino kids and adults were not present on the ski slopes, and very few were present in the many sports organizations outside of the school programs," Emily explains.

A beautiful form of integration is taking shape, allowing friendships and lifelong bonds to be formed. Talented young individuals are being introduced to sports that they will greatly influence. Jackson Hole has morphed from a privileged ski town, to an iconic ski place for all. Emily has enriched not only a town, but an entire sport and 180 kids are now involved in the program. Once winter winds down, these children continue to participate in a variety of sports, such as rock climbing, soccer and hiking.

children skiing

Lives Changed

Many lives have been changed through the foundation, but a few have struck a chord with community.

Emily met the bubbly Karoline in 2013, and the two instantly bonded. “Like Doug, her enthusiastic personality is magnetic, and you simply can’t help but enjoy the time you spend with Karoline, as she is always happy and always nice to others,” Emily gushes. Karoline’s family has become increasingly involved, as well. In addition to mastering the slopes, she’s excelled in soccer and, at such a young age, has already accomplished so much.

Dario grew up in extreme poverty and was introduced to the foundation after his young boys became involved. He blazed through rock climbing and skiing, while having no prior experience. Seeing his great potential, Emily wanted to get Dario into the Exum Program, where he would be trained then experience a once in a lifetime climb up Grand Teton. Dario made the climb, stating “I didn’t do this for the world to see me, I did it to see the world.” He is described as a wonderful father with two intelligent young boys and a devoted wife.

In Honor

Doug Coombs was a man adored and admired by all; he was a role model and an ambassador for pursuing dreams. He lived an incredible life, which left behind an impactful legacy. The Doug Coombs Foundation is an appropriate way to honor him.

“He would be blown away and would likely cry with joy as he watched all the kids (with his name on their jackets), zooming around Snow King, on skis, discovering the spirit of adventure that we all remember him for,” says Emily. “The one thing Doug missed out on was knowing his own son; skiing with his own son. We can’t change that, but we can provide many kids the opportunity to ski, in his memory, who otherwise wouldn’t ski. I know Doug would like that.”

Emily says Doug didn’t like talking about the possibility of dying, but after Emily’s father passed in a car accident, they discussed what they’d want if the unthinkable happened. “We agreed that whatever the survivor chose to do with us, our remains, our legacy; we trusted it would be good, and we would do it out of our love for each other. We believed that we truly knew each other better than anyone else. We would know what to do in the event if one of us died.” Emily certainly knew what to do to honor the name of Doug Coombs.

doug coombs foundation

Lend a Hand

Grants and sponsorships fuel the nonprofit, and anyone can donate to the cause. The Doug Coombs Foundation's slogan "Lifting Us Up", sums up its powerful accomplishments. They are laying the groundwork for effective methods of integration and it's an incredible thing to be a part of.

Photos courtesy The Doug Coombs Foundation.

4 Wasteful Habits to Kick & Eco-Friendly Alternatives

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, it is wise to take an honest look at some of your common daily habits and replace them with greener options. Fortunately, it is relatively painless and easy to adopt green habits—check out these examples.

produce in reusable grocery bag
Photo by Shutterstock.

BYOB—or, Bring Your Own Bags

Some cities, like Eugene, Oregon, have already banned those ubiquitous plastic grocery bags. If your town is not there yet and you have a pile of plastic bags the size of Mt. Everest in your pantry or garage, make the switch to reusable grocery bags. Those plastic bags don’t just end up in the dump, they are also found in the ocean, where they can harm fish and take eons to break down. Reusable cloth or canvas bags are a great option.

Are concerned about the cross transfer of germs between shopping trips? Read the labels of the bags before buying them to be sure they are washable. If your package of ground beef is a bit on the leaky side, toss the bag in the washer before heading to the store next.

Watch Your Driving Habits

There are a variety of common wasteful driving habits that are pretty easy to do; these include “jack rabbit starts” when the light turns green, rapidly accelerating through traffic, speeding to get to work and not keeping a close eye on your tire pressure. All of these situations can lead to using too much fuel. To learn the latest driving tips for fuel efficiency, check out an online resource like Driving-Tests.org. You can access your state's DMV handbook from the free site and also take practice tests that will help remind you how to drive in a more environmentally friendly fashion.

Buy Used Whenever Possible

When you buy something secondhand, be it a pair of jeans, a couch or whatever else you need, you are doing more than saving your hard-earned money. You are also putting to use something that might have otherwise ended up in the landfill. In addition, every used item that is purchased means that one less brand-new product will be produced, which will reduce the impact of the manufacturing process on the planet. Some great sources of terrific pre-owned items include thrift stores, garage sales, consignment shops, eBay and Freecycle.

Stop Using Paper Towels and Napkins

Paper towels and napkins may be convenient and clean, but they are also costly and hard on the environment. Trees must be cut down to make them, they are usually bleached and treated with other chemicals, and then once they are tossed into the trash, they take time to break down. Treat yourself to some really nice microfiber cleaning cloths or plain white dishtowels that will take the place of paper towels and have enough to rotate through when they get grungy. Purchase cloth napkins or, if you are handy with a serger, buy a variety of cotton fabric in festive prints and make your own. Although you may still keep a roll or two of paper towels on hand for really gross kitchen spills, using cloth as much as you can will have a positive impact on the planet and your wallet.

Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 18 years. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Alison thoroughly enjoys writing about a wide variety of people and topics. When she is not writing, Alison can be found hanging out with her family—which includes three wonderful rescue dogs—and sipping a caffeinated beverage from Starbucks.

The Omni Grove Park Inn: Preservation of a Destination

A historical wonder, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina sits The Omni Grove Park Inn. Omni Hotels and Resorts owns the once independent hotel, but the brand works to enhance each hotel's current attributes, while incorporating the local environment rather than stamping a cookie cutter ideology onto each of its locations. In their mission statement, they stress their vision to put "soul" and "authenticity" into each individual property by "proudly opening doors to the true spirit of a destination."

Omni Park Grove Inn at twilight
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

History of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Preservation is one of the most important things we can do to sustain our environment. The Omni Grove Park Inn is the epitome of preservation, as the 1913 structure has only been enhanced over the years, not torn down. The same boulders hauled in by mule-drawn wagons still set in place as a glorious reminder of the hard work 400 men put in for nearly a year. You can take a history tour and learn about the building and the century-old artifacts that line the halls.

After ascending up a winding drive, a short distance from downtown, the inn magnificently reveals itself through a cascade of mountain trees and foliage. History oozes from its pores, although the structure fits seamlessly in our current time period, due to its naturalistic build. At the time of its construction, the hotel was proclaimed to be "built for the ages" and this has remained true.

Omni Grove food
Photo by Karyn Wofford.

Dining at The Omni Grove Park Inn

Serving up local ingredients in their restaurant dishes, the Sunset Terrace is an outdoor dining option on the stone patio looking out toward the mountains. The Spa Cafe offers wellness smoothies and healthy fare at the entrance of their award-winning spa.

Several other restaurants and lounges are sprinkled throughout the elaborate halls, but Blue Ridge was the showstopper, serving a variation of farm-to-table buffets throughout the day. House-made donuts, a yogurt bar, grits with tomatillo sauce, fresh pressed juices, pancakes, frittatas, made to order omelets and a variation of cereals barely tip the culinary iceberg of Blue Ridge's locally-fueled breakfast display.

We also enjoyed stopping by the rustic lobby, complete with two gigantic fireplaces and mountain views, for late night drinks, local pickled veggies and an intricate cheese plate sourced from the Asheville area. Omni Grove falls in line with the prevalent "local" food presence in the town.

Omni Park Grove outdoor spa
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

The Timeless Spa

Woven throughout a cavernous lower level of the hotel is their Mediterranean-style spa. By its cave-like look, complete with stone, tunnels, a fiber optic star ceiling and antique tiled steam room, you'd think this wellness wing existed before the hotel itself. However, it was an addition completed years after the initial structure was built.

Two massive, mineral-based, indoor pools accented with waterfalls, ambient color changing lighting, hot tubs, underwater music and extravagant rock features serve as the spa’s central hub. An outdoor pool, complete with yet another fireplace, allows guests to relax and watch the sun set while taking a soak. Gender separated areas offer detoxifying saunas, steam rooms, contrast pools, herbal teas and natural snacks. 

Multiple therapies are available, including massages with aromatherapy, wellness wraps with volcanic clay and local sourwood honey and Himalayan salt detoxification. The fresh mountain air is also thought to have healing attributes, and is what drove the hotel's founder to the area in the first place, in the early 1900s.

Helping the Community

When a room is booked, a portion of the proceeds go toward feeding less fortunate families through Feeding America. "In one year, nearly nine million meals have been donated to help Feeding America provide nutritious meals for food banks to feed children, families and seniors in communities across the United States," says the Omni Hotels and Resorts site.

Employees are also encouraged to volunteer at food banks and pantries in their local community. 5,000 nationwide employees donated 7,000 hours of their time over the past year.

sunset over mountains
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

Flourishing in Eco-Tourism

The travel industry is becoming increasingly aware of eco-tourism, and that people prefer an authentic experience built around the community in which they are visiting. Vacations become enriching rather than simply an empty experience at just another hotel room with commercial gimmicks and corporate food.

The Omni Grove Park Inn provides incredible surroundings that blend into nature, a first-hand look into history and culinary experiences that let you truly experience life in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As we watched the sunset from the back terrace, I simultaneously felt truly connected with history and nature; moments like these display a glimpse of the deep importance of preservation on every level.

3 Reasons Why Water Is a Magnificent Natural Healer

It’s amazing that water makes up an average 60 percent of the human body, but society often forgets water’s capacity for natural healing. Instead, people consume artificially flavored water, energy drinks, soft drinks, sparkling soda and coffee over pure water — and that’s not the fizzy, bubbly kind, either.

flowing stream and glass of water
Photo by Adobe Stock/arttim.

From the world’s ecosystems to the human body, water is an intrinsic element of our existence, and metaphorically it has been used to represent emotions and spirituality. Water affects the body, mind and spirit as a magnificent catalyst and a natural healer. Here’s how.

1. Water Keeps the Environment Healthy

Though organisms may thrive in interesting environments that are toxic to humans, space explorers have looked for life on planets that are not too hot and not too cold. That “Goldilocks Zone” makes a planet a potential host for the life-giving powers of water. Humanity has equated water with life for ages.

Water changes the face of the landscape, breaking down boulders and shaping mountains. It may look like features of landscape disappear, but the Earth is constantly evolving and changing, as both energy and matter are neither created nor destroyed.

Remember learning about the various types of clouds? Don’t worry — there’s no quiz, but there are typically eight types, from what we see terrestrially all the way up to the stratosphere.

When it rains, it pours — and through the process of evaporation, the water cycle keeps the environment healthy. The majority of water evaporated from the sea returns as precipitation, and roughly ten percent falls over the land as precipitation. In the process of evaporation, a water molecule will spend nearly ten days in the air.

If there was no precipitation runoff or groundwater discharged via aquifers, the oceans would be virtually empty.

2. Water Is Vital to Human Health

Water is vital to human health, especially for the brain, which is composed of 75 percent of water. The effects of dehydration are harmful to all parts of the body. The human brain needs water for proper processing of thoughts and storing memories. As your endless train of thought can attest, the brain doesn’t stop running. The ecosystem of the body fails without water.

Consider what happens when we dam up our natural water sources to control and consume the flow. A river whose flow has been blocked with begin to weaken and its ecosystem will start to fail. Waste backs up. Where there is water, there is life.

Similarly, for human beings, the body’s organs shut down when no water is available. This vital element acts as a lubricant for digestion and helps your gut absorb proteins and nutrients. Without water, the body can’t boot out pollutants or toxins, increasing the body’s odds of experiencing skin disorders, digestive disorders, allergies, high cholesterol and even cancer. Those hunger pangs in the body are likely a craving for water. So, before you kick back with a coffee, drink a glass of water.

When part of the body breaks down or is wounded, water is there to help heal it. For example, water has the ability to heal a shoulder replacement. In one case study, physical therapists used a pool as a healing environment for shoulder rehabilitation and the patient regained 100 percent functionality, claiming his abilities were better than they were 20 years prior.

Hydrotherapy is useful for many patients to regain mobility — especially elders who have a greater range of motion in the pool. Those water gymnastics classes do their job! And if your health improves and you feel like the real swan of Swan Lake, why not?

3. Water Is Nurturing to the Soul

Priests of various faiths bless water to make it holy and children are christened after birth for “purity.” Myriad cultures used natural springs and manmade baths as healing and worship centers, such as the Celts, Greeks and Romans. For example, Sulis was a Celtic water deity of healing found in woodland springs. The Greco-Roman view of bathing was a way of leading a spiritual and clean life and get their party on, too. Water has long been associated with spiritual healing and rejuvenation.

Don’t you feel amazing after you take a long, hot shower or soak your stinky, aching feet in Epsom salts after a long hike? Thought so.

You can make bath time a more soothing and spiritual aspect of personal self-care by adding herbal oils or candles to the experience. Take a little longer than usual and soak in the tub, closing your eyes and focusing your breathing. Let the relaxing power of water nurture your inner self.

From the outer world to the inner body, mind and soul, water is a magnificent natural healer. It cycles from the oceans to your tap at home, to drink and nurture your vital organs. It also soothes your mind and spirit — whether by way of a priest’s blessing or a hot soak in the tub after a long day.

Water is at the center of life — so drink up, be healthy and merry!

5 DIY Remedies to Keep Bugs Away This Summer

Insects and bugs are a common problem during the warmer months of the year. Attracted by various food sources, from crumbs to your pets, insects like ants, mosquitoes and wasps can make your life miserable once they invade your home and garden.

When you hire a professional contractor, exterminating most of these creatures can cost an average of $250 to $300, while termite and bed bug extermination can cost $1,300 to $2,500. Thankfully, you don’t need to hire an exterminator or use a lot of toxic chemicals to deal with the issue; there are many natural remedies you can use to help rid your home of pests.

food and herbs on the grill
Photo by Adobe Stock/

Diatomaceous Earth and Borax for Ants

Even finding one ant inside your home can indicate a bigger problem. Ants can eat away at your home, cause foul odors and, generally, be a nuisance. To find the most effective means of dealing with them, you need to know what type of ants you have.

The most common ants found in homes are odorous ant, house ants and carpenter ants. For house ants or odorous ants, mix equal parts borax and sugar and sprinkle it around the areas the ants enter to attract and kill them. For carpenter ants sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a lethal dust for insects, made from natural and organic algae-like plants around your baseboards.

Repel Mosquitoes and Flies with Basil & Rosemary

Simply put some fresh basil leaves in a vase or jar with water, then leave them on a table or mantel as decoration. Basil naturally repels both mosquitoes and houseflies, along with looking and smelling great. Add some flowers for a more appealing aesthetic, or decorate the vase or jar with ribbons to blend it in with your decor.

If you’re having a barbeque, and want to keep the bugs away from your guests, just throw a bit of rosemary on the coals to help repel mosquitoes. Rosemary also grows well in gardens as a culinary herb; you can keep it in small pots on your window sill or on your porch to help keep bugs away, while adding its fresh scent to your home.

Repel Garden Bugs with Flowers

Keep your garden and yard free of some of the more annoying bugs by planting any of the following around the perimeter. All of these plants are well-known natural bug repellents that will help increase your enjoyment of your yard.

Citronella Grass
Citronella oil is frequently added to natural bug repellents and the grass it grows from has the same repelling qualities. Plant some around your garden, or simply set a few pots of it out on your porch, to help keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Petunias are easy to grow and make a beautiful addition to any yard. Known as “Nature’s Pesticide”, petunias can repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs. Protect your garden crops by planting petunias around the perimeter          .

Lavender has a smell that repels mosquitoes, even as it attracts people. Lavender is perfect for the summer season because it grows best in hot, dry climates. The beautiful purple blooms can also be harvested and dried to capture the scent inside your home for months during the winter, as well.

Make a Jar Trap for Wasps

Wasps are a nasty customer to deal with in your yard or home. If they’ve been buzzing around your house or garden, consider making a jar trap to attract and capture them naturally. Fill a jar with 6 ounces of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt. Set the jar near the area the wasps are coming from; the more wasps you have, the more jars you may need. Keep the jars in place until you’ve attracted and killed all the unwanted guests.

Before you opt for invasive or expensive methods to deal with pests in and around your home, give these simple, do-it-yourself methods a try. You may find them effective for dealing with minor to moderate infestations. If you find that you need more help, a pest control service may be necessary. To find out more about the costs, be sure to visit the Cost Guides.

T1International: Saving Diabetic Lives

Many misconceptions are associated with diabetes, but it’s a complex condition that predominately affects people in two forms. You have type 1 and type 2; type 1 diabetes is typically caused by an autoimmune response in which the immune system attacks insulin making cells in the pancreas. The cause hasn’t been confirmed and the healthiest individuals can be affected.

It’s Not Only the U.S.

While diabetes is prevalent in the U.S., it’s making a painful mark on countries around the world. It has been speculated that rates of type 1 aren’t high in some poverty stricken countries because people die quickly after diagnosis, since they don’t have access to insulin. Insulin is life: Type 1 diabetics around the world are dying without it.

Say Hello to T1International

T1International is aiming to change the world for diabetics. Their website states that they are “working toward access and affordability of access to insulin, diabetes supplies, medical care and education for all people living with type 1 diabetes.” Awareness is raised through personal stories form type 1 diabetics, statistics and other data, as well as providing knowledge to those supporting the cause through the T1International Advocacy Tool Kit.

T1 advocacy toolkit

Recently, the head of T1International, Elizabeth Rowley, traveled to Uganda to take part in a camp hosted by the Sonia Nabeta Foundation, who also advocates for type 1 diabetics and their need for supplies in in Africa. Elizabeth and Stephen Nabeta began the foundation in honor of their daughter, Sonia Stephanie Clarissa Kyagaba Nabeta, who lost her battle with type 1 diabetes in 2015.

Rowley and her travel partner, Gavin Griffiths, were able to inspire not only hope in the camp’s attendees, but a passion to push for change. With the Advocacy Tool Kit, Rowley spent several sessions explaining how to effectively fight for the things they need to survive. Their current goal is to constructively create a plan to get the government to commit to providing one daily syringe to each diabetic by the end of the year. Ugandan diabetics depend on donations, which can often be uncertain, and syringes are a crucial part of care. T1International made a profound impact in Uganda and continues to do so in other areas.

Type 1 Diabetes Around the World

Low income individuals in Bolivia often die as they do not have access to proper healthcare. Patients wait in long lines to see doctors; natural remedies are often used in place of insulin, leading to severe complications and death. Much of the insulin in Bolivia has been smuggled in and sometimes is of poor quality, which also causes complications.

Venezuelans have little to no access to insulin or blood sugar strips. Parents of diabetic children will opt to not inject insulin when they are unable to test blood sugar. Too much insulin could cause a life threatening condition known as hypoglycemia, but high blood sugar can result in death as well. Unfortunately, it’s a lose-lose situation.

Thailand is praised for having a great healthcare system, and they do have great healthcare that is accessible to those who work. But there is little education of what type 1 diabetes is, therefore the care is inadequate. People die because the disease is not understood. Advocacy can prove to be extremely important in these places because it helps create a knowledge base and understanding.

Even in the U.S., diabetics aren’t getting the insulin they need because of astronomical prices. Here, in our own country, people are dying because of this.

T1international group


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a United Nations document drafted by diverse individuals worldwide, in effort to set a standard of principals in which our world should live upon. “It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages,” states the UN’s site. Article 3 in this document reads, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” The right to life; we all have the right to life. To me, it seems we are stripping type 1 diabetics of the right to live by denying them a medication they cannot live without.

In 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles H. Best discovered insulin and handed the patent over to the University of Toronto, and ultimately Eli Lilly, because they wanted it to be distributed to everyone who would need it. Their intent was not to make money, but their fears are now a reality; many diabetics don’t have access.

People have been spreading the word through the #insulin4all tag and by signing the T1International charter. The charter shows how many supporters stand behind diabetic rights and can be an influencer in making big changes in governments. Five key rights that diabetics need to live a full, healthy life are:

1. The right to insulin.
2. The right to manage your blood sugar.
3. The right to diabetes education.
4. The right to healthcare.
5. The right to live a life free from discrimination.

By simply educating yourself on the matter, sharing the #insulin4all tag and signing the charter, you are giving diabetics everywhere a fighting chance.

Photos courtesy T1International.

Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.

A Brief History of the Summer Solstice

Summer is, officially, here! Although school has been out for some time, June 20th marked the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer as we know it. Also known as Midsummer, the summer solstice has been celebrated and honored by civilizations throughout history.

The ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated with feasts and, in both cultures, the solstice aligned with some of their most prominent festivals—the Olympics in Greece and the festival of Vestalia in Rome. The Native American Sun Dance represents this changing of seasons and other early indigenous tribes often built their important structures during solstices. Some pagan traditions believed that certain plants, such as St. John’s wort, roses and rue, possessed different, beneficial properties if picked on the year’s shortest night.

stonehenge with bright sun
Photo by Adobe Stock/andrewmroland.

So why do we continue to celebrate this ancient holiday?

Like many of our modern traditions, the summer solstice was also married to religious calendars during the rise of Christianity. Throughout Europe, what pagans called the solstice became St. John the Baptist’s Day.

In recent years, studies have been conducted to determine whether humans are happier when the days are longer and have more hours of sunlight. One specific study looked at the tweets of 2.4 million people across the world. The researchers discovered that, based on the content of tweets, people were more positive when the summer solstice was approaching, lengthening the hours of daylight. (Learn more about how vitamin D can improve well-being.)

Although the hours of day shorten following this solstice, it’s a time of optimism and new beginnings. Whether you actively celebrate with established traditions, you probably honor it in other ways throughout the season. Bonfires, picnics, barbecues, family cook-outs and other festivities are all essential parts of summer that allow you to enjoy the weather and sunshine before winter rolls back around.

Think you know everything about the solstice? Test your knowledge with a short quiz!