It evokes feelings of warmth, glowing, spiritual satiety.
It’s a word that’s been on my mind a lot lately.
I’ve been pondering. Reading.
And as my life normally goes, this word has literally been raining down on me.
I’ve come across it in articles. My sister gave me a book for Christmas called “The Book of Joy”. It is a wonderful book about the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu and 5 days that they spent together talking about how to find joy in our lives. I’ve been looking at designs for a new tattoo, and enlightenment kept popping up in the designs I’ve found. And it was most recently on my menu at BJ’s. Yes, really. “BJ’s Enlightened Favorites”.
Last night, at yoga, one of the first words that fell out of my instructor’s mouth was “enlightenment”.
I inwardly smiled and my cosmic antennae perked, ready to receive my message.
I recently read an article that listed the 5 things to release on the path to enlightenment.
This was by no means a comprehensive “boom! now you’re enlightened!” article, but it was meant as a gentle reminder of everyday things that may be holding us back.
I almost laughed when I saw the list:
Negative or toxic people
Sugary, artifical, GMO foods
Too much television or technological stimulation
Laziness or fatigue
Suppressing negativity or avoiding the “shadow self”
Could there be a more complete list of how I have changed my life in the past 2+ years?
I talk a lot about how I just “feel” different now. And maybe these things I’ve removed from my life are a huge contributor to that feeling.
I was intrigued to see food on the list, as I have mentioned before how I feel food is the base of everything in our lives. Food determines how we feel. Mentally, physically, and apparently, spiritually.
I did not start out “seeking enlightenment”, but I have found myself on the path, nonetheless.
I have somehow, once again, accidentally gathered the moments, people, necessities and feelings to find myself on this journey.
The most beautiful thing about this journey, is there is no end-point. No finish line.
The journey is the path. The path is the journey.
It is all about the experiences. The growth. The lessons.
It’s not a straight line. What journey ever is? It meanders, it loops back on itself, it veers…but it always comes back to center.
I’m almost 47. I think it’s safe to say I’ve developed some pretty comfortable habits in my lifetime. Things that make me feel safe. I mean, I’ve gotten this far in my life, why change things up now? Right?
Why when I ask if I’m right, does it always mean I’m wrong??
So I’ve been attending this yoga class. I love this yoga class. I love this yoga instructor. She touches something in my soul.
But she’s making me do things! Weird things! Things outside of my comfort zone!!
My yoga practice has always been static. Achieve the pose. Hold the pose. Perfection!
I am evolving.
Her classes started out relatively “normal” and I fell in love with her teaching style, but then she started slipping in “non-normal things”, and it was too late. I was trapped. I was already hooked.
She started out making me move. Like a snake. Permission to be Imperfect was my first post about this amazing creature. Her classes are changing my life, as she says, “inch by inch”, whether she knows it or not.
Her joy is infectious. Her insistence that we move and explore and be messy and free is so beautiful.
But there is still that small part of myself that is reserved. That doesn’t dance. That doesn’t sing.
I’ve learned that if I close my eyes throughout my practice, I can be more expressive. It somehow removes me from my discomfort. Allows me the freedom to be magical.
I’m normally a “move-your-mouth-but-don’t-actually-vocalize” while in a group-situation kind of person. *smiles* I know. I’m weird. But I’ve never just been able to cut loose.
Last night, I just went for it. I chanted and undulated and participated in a way I’ve never allowed myself.
When I teach rock climbing to children, one of my favorite inspirational sayings to use is, “I’m not trying to cure you of your fear of heights, I’m trying to get you to function in the face of your fear.”
Great advice. I think I’ll take it.
Because you know what? No one noticed. No one knew I was doing something I was uncomfortable with. No one cared. I was the only one feeling awkward and uncomfortable about my actions. Knowing this is allowing me to grow. Because after I started? I wasn’t awkward and uncomfortable. I was just doing. I was functioning in the face of my fear.
And oh my goodness. What a difference it makes!
In Sanskrit, the word “yoga” (from the root yuj) means “to add”, “to join”, “to unite”, or “to attach”.
By practicing yoga in all of its intents, it is doing all of those things for me. It is adding to my life and my self. It is joining me to the group of people I am participating with. It is uniting me with my deeper spirituality. It is attaching deeper significance to my practice and my life.
And I can feel the difference. It is changing my practice. It is changing me.
It is making me a better yogi. It is making me a better person.
Some of my daughter’s friends came over last weekend and one of them walked in, looked around and said, “This house has good vibes.”
This isn’t the first time someone has said this about my house.
It got me thinking about “vibes”, or more literally, “vibrations”.
Every thought or feeling has a vibration. Good, positive thoughts and feelings have a high vibration. Bad, negative thoughts or feelings have a low vibration. This is what we really mean when we say something has a “good” or “bad” vibe.
I used to be unhappy. Not clinically depressed or anything like that, but just generally unhappy. I ate poorly. I had my headaches all the time. I was tired and grouchy all the time. I was frequently sick or run-down from being sick. I didn’t really have any goals. I was jealous of other people without any real idea of what I was jealous of. I had no real sense of myself in the world.
Here’s the thing. And I hate to bring everything back around to food, but trust me, it all leads back to food. Eating foods that are high in life force (raw non-processed foods) impart a higher vibration to your body. Eating foods that are chemical-laden and lacking in real nutritive value will lower your body’s vibration.
As you all know, I radically changed my diet 2 years ago, and with that came some pretty significant life-changes.
Two years ago, I began a journey that started with removing Coke from my diet and evolved into removing all processed foods from my diet.
The thing is, it didn’t just change my diet.
It changed my whole life.
I have a hard time describing just how I feel all the time. And as I was doing research for this particular blog, it crystallized for me. I am literally vibrating with goodness. I have this clarity. I have this calm. I have this peace. And now I understand why.
I credit the change in my diet with being the catalyst for all of this. With the good foods came the good feelings. I began feeling better. I began to take better care of myself, which has allowed me to take better care of others. I began to see the synchronicity in my life. I began to have gratitude for every little thing. I began to have joy again, to have empathy for others, to see the goodness.
I stopped using pharmaceuticals and began using essential oils. I am slowly removing other chemicals from my life (cleaning products, makeups, personal care products) and it is making a difference.
It all sounds so hokey, I know, but it is all so true.
This experience has changed me as a person. I am more patient. I am kinder. I don’t have disappointments because I have learned that all experiences, whether negative or positive, are opportunities to learn. I nurture myself and other people with my foods and oils and words. I no longer aimlessly shop for “things” because I find I need less and less. I feel strong, healthy and confident. In short, I am happy.
Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But I am patient with myself and with the process. I am a much better person for my patience.
Do I have bad days? Sure. Real life is all around me. But I have learned that I control my own reactions and I consistently choose not to wallow. I have better things to do.
I find myself smiling. All the time. Driving in my car. Cooking in my kitchen. Writing my blog. Exercising. My gratitude for all things shines through.
I’ve surrounded myself, immersed myself, nourished myself and anointed myself with good vibrations. All of these intentions feed off of each other and feed my own personal energy, vibration, or frequency.
I know how I feel when I walk into a space and can intuitively sense the goodness there. The peace. The calm. The joy. I’m glad that my space has that effect on someone else.
And I hope they can take a little of the good vibes with them when they go.
For the longest time, when I was instructed to set an intention for my yoga practice, the word peace always floated forth. I think I’ve found it.
For all the rock climbing I’ve done, this past year has been the most progressive for me. And it has to do with my personal journey.
Stick with me here.
Years ago, when my daughter and I were climbing nearly every day, I mostly had to boulder because at that time, she was only 9 and she wasn’t old enough to belay me. Bouldering is a type of climbing where you are restricted to a height of around 10 feet and you don’t use a rope or harness. You can climb walls and ceilings with nothing more than a crash pad below you. I love bouldering for the complex moves you can practice over and over. No one is standing there holding a rope and patiently waiting for you to be done, so you can boulder forever – or as long as your arms will last!
Flash forward a few years, and my daughter is now not only 18, but she works at our rock gym. We climb together frequently, and now that she is old enough to belay me, I mostly top-rope now. Top-roping requires strength, stamina, and skill. When we climb, we climb routes that are placed on the wall by other climbers. These routes are marked by colored tape below specific “rocks” or holds. While climbing this route, you can only use the holds that have that colored tape. These routes are also ranked in difficulty. The grading system for routes can be complex, but in the simplest terms, they go from 5.0 – 5.15.
When I first got back into climbing this year, I was climbing solid 5.9’s. When the 5.9’s began seeming too easy, I thought I would naturally just pop on up to climbing 5.10’s.
Um, so I was slightly wrong…
I humbly headed back down to my 5.9’s and decided to think about 5.10’s a little bit more.
“When will you get to the part about your personal journey??”
Well, here is part of it. I have a really weird personality. I am so friendly, but I am also so extremely introverted. I get too in my head sometimes, judging myself. It did not use to occur to me to do anything differently, because in general, I like being alone and I’m happy there. But now, I try really hard to put myself out there and fake it, and a lot of times it works! But old habits die hard…
But in rock climbing, it takes two, baby! I ALWAYS need a partner. And if my daughter is working, I need someone else to belay for me. So I’ve had to go outside of my comfort zone, which is really stupid, because there is nothing but good people at the gym. Everyone is always offering to belay for everyone else, because we all basically have the same problem. We all wanna go up, and we all need someone to belay us.
I’ve been climbing for a few weeks now with a regular there at the gym. We’re pretty evenly matched, which makes it fun because we can push each other to try new routes, or help each other out on routes we’re working on.
Somewhere in the past few weeks, and with a lot of hard work, I started successfully climbing 5.10’s. It just happens that way. You get one, and then suddenly, it’s all you’re doing.
Well, I was climbing one last Sunday, and I was already tired. My fingertips were already raw. My forearms were already pretty pumped. I got to a certain point in the route where the next hold just wasn’t there for me. It was high and to the right and I just could not reach it. It would have been so easy to just call down that I was done.
I’m not sure what made me do this, because I had never attempted one before, but I did what’s called a dyno. A baby dyno, but a dyno nonetheless.
And it worked.
A dyno is basically a jump to the next hold. You push off with your feet and hope that you catch the rock you’re aiming for.
So there I was, dangling from a single hold with my one hand, (and to shouts of “Oh, NICE!” from below) totally disbelieving that I had just done this move! (And feeling pretty damn cool while I was hanging there!) I calmly got my foot back on the wall and finished my climb to the top and slapped the wall in triumph!
Here’s the thing: These past two years may have started out as a physical, health-conscious journey, but they have morphed along the way into something so much deeper. So much more personal. So much more about me.
These past two years, I have given myself the greatest gift there is: the gift of attention.
I have paid attention to my health and my body. Somewhere along the way, it became about my mind and my soul. I have paid attention to me. And just like a green plant in the sunlight, I am thriving!
Because I was spending so much time on treating my body well, caring for my self, I stopped judging myself so harshly. I am in such a happy, healthy, free place right now, that I can’t help but be joyful all the time. (Well, okay, most of the time!)
Somewhere along the way, amongst all the nurturing and feeding and caring, I fell in love with myself. Exactly how I am.
I’ve stopped wearing makeup. I dress the way I want to dress. I do what makes me happy.
I have found what I like, and I like what I have found.
I sometimes ache for the time I have lost with myself, for not realizing this earlier in my life. But I know my journey has been timed especially for me. As with anything else, if it had happened earlier in my life, I would not have been ready for it yet. It would not have been as meaningful. I would not have been strong enough. I would not have been brave enough.
I went to the movies last night and as I was walking out, I pulled out my cellphone to check for messages and found this from a friend:
First of all, the short answer is, there is no short answer. If I could sell you a product that would make this easy, I would (and I would be a millionaire). But you know what? That product doesn’t exist. So you can stop wasting your money on supplements and diets and fast-fix whatevers.
This is not a fast fix.
This is not a diet.
This does not have a goal of losing 10-20 pounds in 30 days.
This is a series of conscious decisions that eventually become your way of life.
This works. The only catch? You have to do it.
Let’s start with the science (sort of).
Your body is a perfect machine. It is a host of cells that have joined together to become a unique organism….YOU! Your unique organism requires nourishment to thrive. We are here on planet Earth because it is the perfect environment for our species to survive. We were given the perfect food sources to nourish ourselves and LIVE.
So what, in our infinite human wisdom, did we do? We created fake food, made from chemicals and synthetic almost-natural ingredients, slapped it into pretty, eye-catching boxes and bags, made cute songs for the foods and showed them in TV commercials. And we LOVE it!!
There is a huge difference between eating and nourishing.
Can I say that again?
There is a huge difference between eating and nourishing.
So instead of nourishing our bodies with perfect fresh crops and water, we’ve chosen to embrace Hamburger Helper and Ramen and Coke. These items aren’t food. I don’t care what the panel on the back of the box says. There’s no way Hamburger Helper’s daily serving of Vitamin whatever is beneficial to you in any way, shape or form.
The natural foods placed here on our planet were put here because they are the exactly right foods for us to eat. They sync with our bodies on a cellular level.
Next time you are eating, take a look at your food and ask yourself, “Is it nourishing? Am I eating for a purpose?”
“My skin sucks”
Well, yeah. Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It is the organ that outwardly shows damages that are created on the inside of our bodies.
If you’re eating a diet high in sugar, caffeine, dairy and processed foods, your skin is going to reflect that. And if that’s what the outside of your body looks like, imagine what the poor inside is looking like!!
All of these poor dietary choices can lead to acne or just poor-looking skin.
We are alive. If the foods we are choosing have little to no life-force in them, they cannot be expected to contribute to our life-force.
This is a sketchy one. I now know my migraines were caused by a wheat allergy. I’m not in any way suggesting that everyone’s migraines are caused by wheat allergies, but it’s an easy enough food to eliminate from your diet to find out.
I know, you just heard me say that eliminating wheat from a diet was easy and you’re like, “WHAT?!?!?!”.
Here’s the thing: if you’re dropping processed foods from your diet, wheat is kind of one of the first things to go. How many people have you seen walking around munching on just a piece of wheat? None.
I know, the prospect of no bread, no pasta, no beer is horrifying to some, but there are definitely alternatives out there. It’s just a matter of how much your health means to you.
If what you are putting into your body has no life-force, it has no life-force to impart to you. “Dead” foods and chemicals do not give you energy. Period.
The more natural and fresh foods that you eat, the more natural energy you will have.
You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
You’ve heard that abs start in the kitchen? It’s true.
You can do 1000 sit-ups a day and run for miles, but if you’re still eating crap, you’re still going to have belly fat.
“How do I start? What do I eat and drink?”
You just start. One conscious decision at a time. One water over a Coke or sweet tea. One piece of fruit over a cookie. One vegetable over a bag of chips.
Analyze each food before you even pick it up. Will this give me nourishment? Or will this just give me empty calories? Hint: If it’s coming out of a can, bottle, bag, box or package, the answer is empty calories. No matter what the commercial says.
Your food should be colorful and smell amazing! It should stimulate all of your senses!
Once you get in the mind set of thinking of food as nourishment for your body, Wendy’s and Sonic and Popeye’s stop seeming like such a convenient idea.
I eat only whole, fresh, natural, unprocessed foods. I have made a few concessions in our unprocessed lifestyle. We have found an amazing gluten-free bread that is so very like the bread I used to enjoy so much. But you know what? I don’t LOVE it anymore. Whereas bread used to be a staple for me, I find that I eat very little of it now. And when I do? I just feel kind of blah afterwards. Like, I really could have chosen something better for myself.
Same with pasta. We have found a wonderful rice-based, gluten-free pasta that has the same consistency as regular pasta, but my daughter and I both find that we just don’t WANT it anymore. We don’t feel as good after eating this as we do after eating a meal of natural, fresh foods.
So much is going on in our bodies that we just aren’t paying attention to. We take it as normal that running to the toilet as soon as you get home from a restaurant is normal because it happens frequently. (It’s not.) We think we are supposed to feel tired and lethargic and full after a meal because we’re satisfied. (We aren’t.) Eating should be giving you energy. Eating should make you feel happy and alive. If food is making you feel bad, you’re eating the wrong foods.
“How do I start? How do you work and find time to workout and cook?”
This part almost isn’t fair. I know. But I’m single. My daughter is 18 now. Yes, I work full-time. Yes, I go to yoga classes. Yes, I rock-climb. But I still find the time to live this lifestyle. I know if I had a spouse or younger children, this may not be as easy, but is anything worth doing ever really easy??
I think the first advice I would give would be: GET IT OUT OF YOUR HOUSE!
If it’s in your house, you will eat it. Because it’s easy. Because it’s there.
Don’t let your family be an excuse as to why you can’t achieve this goal. This is as important for them as it is for you. Do it for them.
You don’t need to make any big announcements. Just slowly start making changes. They probably won’t even notice. But I promise you they will thank you for it!
Meal-prep. This does’t have to be an all-in-one day kind of thing. Just find a spare few minutes to make 3 or 4 jars of overnight oats or chia seed puddings. Cook some sweet potatoes in your slow cooker and you have them to eat or make smoothies with. Cook a batch of quinoa and you have the starting point for endless breakfast, lunch and dinner possibilities. Go ahead and cut up that celery (or carrots, cucumbers, peppers, squash, zucchini) that you just bought and put it in baggies for snacks. Bake some oatmeal muffins. Throw your morning smoothie ingredients in a Ziploc and freeze it til you need it. Just add water or milk and put it in a blender.
Make this lifestyle easier for yourself by planning ahead, just a little bit. Pinterest is an amazing clean-eating resource. Just search “clean eating school lunches”, “clean eating nourishment bowls”, “clean eating whatever“. This was an invaluable tool to me in the beginning. I don’t use it as much anymore because we have this whole clean-eating thing figured out now, but don’t be afraid to do some research!
Change your mindset. Eating doesn’t have to be a full five-course meal. Get out of the dinner plate rut. I love eating out of bowls. I put a bunch of good things in there and it’s a meal. A simple bowl of fresh spinach, sweet potato, pineapple, blueberries and quinoa is a more than complete meal. Last night, I cooked some oatmeal and mixed in left over sweet potato casserole from Thanksgiving. This morning, I had leftover shrimp and grits my mom had made and paired it with a small piece of ham and a fried egg. Everything gluten-free. Everything with no refined sugar. Everything with no dairy.
And don’t overlook the nutritional value of a smoothie. I’m talking a home-made smoothie, not a Smoothie King sugar bomb. If you looked at what I put in a smoothie every day…it’s a whole meal! Huge handfuls of spinach, other fruits and vegetables, add-ins like hemp, chia, cacao, oats, flax, spirulina, matcha…all blended together with plant-based milk or water to make a delicious meal-on-the-go!
My working out came as a natural progression after my clean-eating transition. I was noticing physical changes in my body and wanted to influence them in a positive way. In English, clean-eating made me lose weight, and then I wanted to look HOT!! 🙂
This cycle feeds itself. You eat well and it makes you want to feel even better, so you work out and then you find yourself craving it all. It’s a realization that the good food and good exercise and what is making you look and feel good. And then you want more!
If you know you don’t do well being accountable only to yourself, join a gym, get a workout buddy, post yourself up on Facebook everyday! Do what you need to do to make it happen.
In the end, you have to be doing this for you. You have to be doing this because you wholeheartedly believe that it is what is best for you and your body. Otherwise, it won’t work.
The cravings will fall away. You will question your entire pre-clean-eating life. You won’t have to worry about calories or sugars or carbs or fats because real food doesn’t have labels.
My daughter is a senior in high school this year, and we’re doing the “visit the college campus” thing.
Our most recent road trip was to the University of Memphis where we were were scheduled to meet with a counselor for 30 minutes and then go on a 60 minute tour of the campus. Our meeting and tour were scheduled early, so we were looking forward to exploring Memphis for the rest of the day.
When the counselor found out my daughter was interested in majoring in Architecture, she asked if we would be interested in meeting the Department Chair.
And there just so happened to be a guest lecture by a visiting professor scheduled for today. Would we like to attend?
This isn’t about the University of Memphis. Can you feel that yet?
The guest lecture was by a professor that had previously taught at Memphis, but was now teaching in Minnesota. His focus is on sustainable architecture. Yeah, I didn’t know that was a thing either.
My personal view of architecture was designing a huge new house, or a commercial building.
This was about designing and building something for a purpose. For a need. For a socioeconomic strata. For a specific environment.
The subject of his lecture?
I didn’t know much about Haiti, other than what I sometimes heard about on the news. They are sometimes a pitstop on a hurricane’s path to the U.S., but that’s about all I knew.
This lecture enthralled me. The photographs were captivating. This professor reeled me in with his obvious love for the people of Haiti. He explained about how, post-earthquake in 2010, they worked on designing homes and buildings that would better withstand earthquakes and hurricanes. They are still working on rebuilding them even today. He talked about the lack of infrastructure and the daily struggles that it created. He talked about the creativity and thinking “outside the box” that was necessary to specifically address the needs of these people.
I found it all so interesting and it widened my scope. Not only of my understanding of architecture (of which I knew nothing), but of my knowledge of Haiti, of which I apparently knew very little.
I do love to learn.
Our hour and a half tour of the University of Memphis turned into a 6 hour tour. We were incredibly grateful for every minute of it. Every story we heard. Every person we had the opportunity to meet.
This was on September 30th.
Haiti stayed on my mind….
Four days later, Hurricane Matthew hit the country of Haiti.
You know how you never see Mini Coopers on the road until you buy a Mini Cooper? And then, suddenly, Mini Coopers are everywhere?
This was that.
I don’t know how this came across my Facebook newsfeed. She has to be a friend of a friend or an acquaintance, or just someone that someone I know follows. But suddenly, I was seeing stories on my newsfeed about an orphanage in Haiti. This woman is a missionary there and she was posting updates about the orphanage that she runs. She posted photographs of the devastation. She posted stories of how they were trying to get food and supplies to other areas that were worse off.
And again, I was drawn in.
In the days following the hurricane, as I continued to follow her posts, something was becoming apparent to me. She often wrote of the resilience of the people of Haiti. The singing, the laughter, the prayer. These people who have very little to begin with had just lost everything. Again. And although there were times of fear and sadness and tears, they were singing and laughing their way through their days. I tried comparing my experience post-Katrina in 2005 and I didn’t remember any singing or laughter.
I started writing this back in October, when it first happened. But I didn’t have the wisdom I needed to complete it. I didn’t have all of the parts yet. Now I do.
I attended a yoga retreat this past Saturday. Part of the retreat was a lecture by a licensed professional counselor. She was addressing the anxiety of the holidays, but something she said resonated with me.
She was talking about fear, and how it is a lesser emotion that leads to anger. When we are fearful of something, what do we do? We get angry. We yell. This recent presidential election is a perfect example. People are scared and so they are lashing out in anger. Verbally. Physically.
We, the “haves”, don’t know how to handle not getting our way anymore. We can’t handle disappointment or hardship. I am no longer talking about the election here. I am talking about life in general. We have somehow convinced ourselves that we are important and invincible in our brick and mortar homes, and our steel automobiles, with our money in the bank, and grocery stores on every corner. We have forgotten that we are but a speck of dust in this vast universe, here for a very, very short time.
Our reactions are our own. Whether we choose to react in happiness or anger is entirely of our own choosing. So to face the devastation of a hurricane, virtual or real, with singing and laughter…to dig down deep and continue to carry the energy needed to be productive in the face of so much destruction…who are really the “haves” here?
Remember that this life is not just about you. Everything we do, every action we take, every word we utter ripples out to touch so many lives. Find your inner strength.
Her cap and gown are ordered. The college acceptance letters are pouring in.
I am literally sitting back, watching her plan out her future…and it brings me such joy!
I have listened as she agonized over her choices of a major: Outdoor Education or Architecture? Could she make the arc any wider?
I have held my tongue as she contemplated taking a year off. Because, really, why not follow your heart and wander the world for a while?
I have encouraged and supported her every decision, waiting for her to think her choices through. Amazed and proud at her maturity and sense of self.
She just drove off this morning for her first big, independent adventure. She’s going camping and rock climbing in Alabama and Tennessee for 4 days with five friends.
They’ve planned out their trip on their own. She did the grocery shopping for six (gluten-free and all clean, of course!). She packed her own gear. My only input was to ask if her health insurance card was in her wallet.
Oh. And I made her take Band-aids. What? You never know!!!
When I posted on Facebook this morning that she was headed out, a good friend commented that she “Be very safe”.
I responded: “She’s a smart girl and she has good people with her. That’s about all the preparation you can make for life.”
Think about it.
Recently, my mom, upon learning that my daughter was going into New Orleans by herself to meet up with a friend one night, was very concerned with her safety and wanted me to remind her to “make good decisions”.
In today’s world, that almost seems to not matter anymore. There seem to be predators everywhere. It no longer seems to be a matter of being in the “wrong kind of neighborhood” or a “bad area”.
I read an article recently about a young girl that had been out drinking. Rather than try to drive home, she called Uber. A very responsible, smart thing to do. Except the Uber driver pulled over somewhere on the route to her home and took advantage of her inebriated state and sexually assaulted her.
She had done everything right. And yet the bad thing happened anyway.
Sometimes bad things just do.
I have raised my children to be independent. They aren’t fearful, yet they have a healthy respect for danger. They are willing to try and do just about anything, but they understand the risks that come with it. They are some of the wisest, safest people I know.
But they are out there living their lives. Having the most fun. Making the best memories.
Do I worry? Of course. But I trust them.
I know that this freedom, now, at this time in my daughter’s life, will be what gives her the confidence to raise her hand and volunteer for something when no one else will. It will be what makes her stand out from everyone else on a job application. It will be that something that draws the right experiences to her at the right time.
I have given her the tools to live her life.
The process of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis is called eclosion. The butterfly hangs there until its wings are unfurled, filled and dried. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and then it takes flight.
My daughter? Her wings are almost dry.
**As a side note: When I was searching for a picture of a butterfly, I knew I wanted a Monarch because I knew they travelled long distances on their migrations. How surprised was I to learn that Monarch Butterflies are also called Wanderer Butterflies?!
My grandparents were of Mexican descent, so I guess “burrito” is my natural go-to for a wrapped food. If you’re Greek, go with dolmas. Asian? Eggroll. Whatever you call it, this wrap is good!
This is the time of year when I get tons of greens in my farm box! Tons! And I’m always looking for different ways to use them. This week I got rainbow chard, kale, and mustard greens. I decided to try something a little different with my rainbow chard, and this little package was the result.
As always with my recipes, they are guides. The filling I chose today was because it was what I happened to have on-hand, but I think anything would be great inside of these lovely green leaves!
I chose sweet potatoes, green onions, chickpeas, quinoa and goat cheese for my filling. Once again, my farm box was my inspiration by providing the rainbow chard, sweet potatoes and green onions.
3 small sweet potatoes, chopped
10-15 rainbow chard leaves, washed (chop 2-3 and leave the others whole)
1 large green onion, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and saute until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add green onions, chopped chard and chickpeas, season with salt and pepper and continue cooking another 4-6 minutes. Add more coconut oil if necessary. Remove from heat.
Chop off any long stems on your chard leaves. Lay out a leaf, stem side towards you, and press your hand firmly down on the center vein to “crush” it and make it pliable.
Spoon about 2 tbsp of quinoa and 2 tbsp of the sweet potato mixture onto the leaf at the stem end. Add some goat cheese and begin rolling or folding the leaf away from yourself. Fold in the sides as you go, making a nice, tight, little package. Set into a steamer basket and continue with the next leaf.
When all leaves are rolled, steam for 3-5 minutes.
Burritos can be eaten straight out of the steamer, or enjoyed the next day cold. These will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Depending on your filling (use your imagination!!), try them with a yogurt, tahini, hummus or salsa dip!!
I had lots of filling left over and used it for work lunch this week!!
Not always the best personality trait. But there you have it.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to let my perfectionism go. A little bit. I’m more tolerant of myself. I allow myself to not only make mistakes, but to know that they are an opportunity to learn. It’s okay for me to embarrass myself now — somewhat. (Give me a break, I’m a work in progress!)
No one is judging you as hard as you are judging yourself. Right?
I love yoga. In the past few years, it has become more than just a form of exercise for me. It is melding with my way of life. The way I feel after a class is indescribable. I glow with happiness and energy. It taps into my very essence and allows that beautiful spark to shine.
My yoga practice has been a large part of my life, and as I have grown and matured, it has changed with me.
I have gone from young and impossibly flexible, attaining any pose I wanted, to older and not so flexible, and understanding that it’s not how far you can bend that makes your practice perfect.
I am used to yoga classes with static poses and long beautiful lines. I am used to yoga classes with flow. I am used to yoga classes where, after practicing for 25 years, I can pretty much guess what’s coming next.
And then…..tonight happened.
I was excited about tonight’s class because it was a new teacher I had never practiced with before. I love experiencing new styles. New voices. I love walking away from a class with something that I needed to learn.
Tonight……tonight, she wanted us to move. To undulate. To stretch and explore wherever our bodies wanted to go. She wanted us to be sinewy, like snakes. In short, she wanted me to allow my body to fill its space in this world. She wanted me to be messy. On purpose.
Can you say “outside of my comfort zone”?
I can’t dance. I’m not being coy and saying I can’t dance and hoping you’ll see me dance and say, “Yes, you can!”. I mean it. I can’t dance. Didn’t get that gene. I don’t even dance in private, much less public. Add to that the fact that I don’t drink, and I can’t even get drunk enough to convince myself that I can dance. So it just doesn’t happen.
And although I wasn’t being asked to “dance”, I was being asked to dance. I was being asked to allow my body to move. I was being asked to free my body and let it flow.
There I was, on my hands and knees, front and center, going, “Wait. What? No, no, no, no, noooooo……I wanted yoga.”
So there I was. On my hands and knees. Front and center. Tail in the air. In front of 10 other people being asked to do the one thing I just don’t do.
And so I closed my eyes.
And I danced.
I wagged my tail and I rolled my belly. I rocked side to side and I stretched and reached. I allowed my body to move.
It felt amazing.
And I inhaled it in. And I exhaled it out.
And I learned.
I’ve always been taught that yoga is non-judgmental. Tonight, for the first time, I learned that it doesn’t mean for me to not judge others. Tonight, I learned that it means for me to not judge myself.
The lotus flower blooms on the surface of water with its roots deep in the mud – a symbol of light and emergence from darkness. In Buddhism, the lotus blossom represents the heart opening. Buddhists compare the opening of the lotus flower petals to the unfolding of what is divine within you. It is a perfect reflection of new beginnings, purity and enlightenment. A closed bloom is the heart with its infinite potential for enlightenment, waiting to unfold.
I’m single. There are just some things in life that you learn to go without when you’re single. Hugs, hand-holding, sex….and cake.
Seriously. Who wants to buy a whole cake just for themselves? Throw in the whole “clean-eating” thing, and I might as well resign myself to never having cake again!
This cake brought tears to my eyes….
I take it where I can get it, people.
So I’m sitting here on a Saturday, reading my book, periodically perusing Pinterest (how alliterative!), and more and more thinking about how much I would love a piece of cake right now.
Let’s just start with the list of things that made this thought depressing and a near-impossibility:
Actually going to a store or cafe that has a cake that would be made of ingredients that I can eat would involve a minimum 1 hour drive.
Making an entire cake to have it just sit in my home, uneaten (because I only really wanted one piece!) is just stupid.
I rarely ever crave things like this, and the thought of making a huge kitchen-y cake mess just because I want one piece is not something I want to do on my nice relaxing Saturday.
So I headed to my kitchen to experiment.
Have you ever heard of a mug cake? They are little mini cakes, made in your microwave, and perfect for one person. My daughter makes these when the chocolate bug bites her and she just has to have it. Like I said though, I don’t often crave things like this, so I’ve never made one for myself before.
I really wanted carrot cake, but I had this lovely pumpkin puree in the refrigerator that I made with my roasted pumpkins last week. I knew the basics, and just kind of winged it from there.
Y’all. If this is winging it……I’m flying!!
Ingredients (for the cake)
1 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 large egg
2 tbsp fresh roasted pumpkin puree
1 tbsp nut or other plant-based milk
(for the “frosting”)
1 tsp plant based protein powder
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp almond butter
1/2 – 1 tbsp nut or other plant-based milk
Add all Cake ingredients to a microwave-safe mug. Mix well and microwave for 1:30 – 2:00 minutes (depending on your microwave). When cake is done, invert mug over plate and cake should fall out onto plate. Remove mug and set cake aside.
While the cake is cooking, add the first three Frosting ingredients to a small bowl and mix well. Add milk and continue stirring until “frosting” reaches your desired consistency.
Spoon frosting over cake and add toppings, if desired. Enjoy!!