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Considering My Why

May 4, 2022

Guess Who’s Back

Clearly, I’ve been on a bit of hiatus. Six and half years?! Where did all that time go? Since then, I’ve moved twice, finished my master’s in nutrition, and birthed two babies. Yet I essentially find myself in the same place as my last post: emerging again from shadows into light. Long story short — we moved to California and, about a year later, in the final month of my master’s program, found out we were (surprise!) going to have a baby. I was woefully unprepared for the news and it sent me reeling. Instead of stepping into a bright and shiny new career in nutrition and wellness, I chose to pivot and stay home with Arwen for a year. That turned into four plus years (and Elena). I recognize I am lucky to have had the choice to be home and be so completely engulfed in my babies for these early years, but I sacrificed a lot of myself in giving to my children. Recently I came to the conclusion that I need time to not be ‘just a mom’, time to be myself again, time to find myself. Having a little time on my own got me thinking about WHY I decided to pursue nutrition as a vocation in the first place. 

#tbt to my first trip to #sanfrancisco ! I still want to buy those finger puppets when I see them on the street...#memories

The utter irony of having vegetables on my shirt…

Growing Into Dysfunction 

Growing up, I was a supremely picky eater. Really and truly top-level. Mac and cheese, pizza, nuggets, cookies, ice cream, rinse and repeat. I remember heading home from soccer practices with my dad at night and stopping by McDonalds to get a two cheeseburger meal with fries (ketchup and pickles only, no lettuce, tomato or onion). Playing sports consistently all year round kept me ‘thin’ despite the composition of my diet, but the 90’s/00’s diet culture slipped its way into my head eventually. 

In junior high, I started feeling down that boys didn’t show interest in me. My older sister was more popular and outgoing and always had a super cute boyfriend, and I made that a reflection on myself. I didn’t think I was magically going to make myself outgoing, but thought maybe there was a way I could make myself cuter. It started small, just trying to dress cuter, and I suppose that’s when I began to think my physical appearance was what would attract people to me. I “finally” got a boyfriend freshman year of high school, and we stayed together for almost three years, despite it being a dysfunctional and largely unrewarding relationship. I think it was senior year that I decided I wasn’t thin enough and I was going to do something about it. So I stole diet pills from the grocery store. They made me jittery, made my heartbeat wild and gave me an almost euphoric feeling. I would eat not-enough lunch at school, have soccer practice, then go home and run a few miles around the neighborhood. I think some of my friends may have noticed, but it didn’t go too far or last that long before I cut it off. 


Out On My Own

Freshman year of college is when things truly took a turn. I was on my own, felt alone, and did not have the internal tools to deal with it. Thank all the gods, I did have a few good friends at the university who had gone to my high school. I do not know how I would have made it through that first year without them. But I didn’t make new friends. I was too insecure and shy to ‘put myself out there’.  I even pulled away from my roommate, who was literally my best friend going into the year. She was one of the ones I think noticed when things weren’t right, both in high school and beyond. Without doubt, I did not want to talk about it. She always had early morning starts, and I would come in late at night, when she was already asleep. By the end of the year it almost felt like we were strangers. I started running 6+ miles a day, on top of other exercises at the gym. I started restricting my food, eventually aiming for under 600 calories a day. Looking at ‘thinspiration’ on the internet. And of course with the restriction came the binges. I didn’t have any food in the dorm, so I would take my roommate’s food when she wasn’t around. I was lost and felt like at least my physical body was something I could try to control. It proved far easier to focus on that than any deeper problems. Thankfully the restriction subsided when I went home for the summer to live with my parents and I returned to some semblance of normality. But the secret eating and binging episodes had become a part of my comfort tools. 

The following year, I transferred schools to be closer to my boyfriend (now husband), hoping this would help me feel less lost. He had a lot of friends, so I had people to be around and didn’t feel quite as alone. Despite that, it was always in the back of my mind that I had not made those friends myself, a running thought I fight to this day. Still I struggled to find happiness and confidence within myself. Honestly, I can’t keep the timeline straight for the next three years. There was a period where I covertly ordered Nutrisystem, hiding it in my closet, and again sneaking my roommate’s food. (Side note – being roommates with me must have been something like living with a mouse: you rarely see me, I’m quiet when you do, and your food mysteriously disappears.) Another year I went vegan. Some periods I was smoking a metric ton of weed and just eating whatever junk I wanted. At some point I actually went to therapy for a couple of months and started medication, but that didn’t stick. 


I’m an Adult Now?

Following college, out in the REAL WORLD, I got more into the philosophy behind the physical yoga I had begun practicing in college. Looking at how the way I treated my body cascaded into all other aspects of my human experience. I also started reading book after book on which way of eating is most conducive to a healthy life. I experimented with vegetarianism, tried the whole 30 diet, paleo, back to vegetarian…and each new book touted another method as the only proper way. If I learned anything, it is that there is always more to learn. So I decided I would learn. I found a semi-local integrative nutrition program. Integrative meaning they looked at a whole lot more than the way food affects the systems of the body (though there was heavy focus on that as well). They taught you the importance of looking at the whole person; the complete experience of life on this planet. How food affects the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And how the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual experience affect the food being chosen. It is not just what you eat, but where, when, why and how you eat. What works to encourage health in one person might not work for another, and might not continue to work in a few months or years. I have direct experience of the way ignoring one area of your life can lead to issues in every other. The way we treat our bodies is inextricably linked to the deeper aspects of existence. Life can be so hard, and we can use food to numb or we can use it to support. 

Even after years of study and experimentation and bouts of intense self-reflection, I felt like a fraud and worried about my ability to help other people if I was still struggling to maintain a ‘healthy diet’ myself, if I didn’t have a small enough body. That lovely niggling perfectionism lodged in the front of my brain, always at play. I think this is a large part of the reason I chose to be a stay at home mom. I felt drawn to help people, knowing many struggled understanding nutrition and how it deeply affects their health and wellbeing. But I also feared I wasn’t enough to help, and it was easier to focus on the kids and look away from those fears. Late last year, I finally started to crawl out from the shadows I had surrounded myself with and truly looked at what I had been hiding from all these years. 

For me, knowledge of nutrition wasn’t enough to find a healthy relationship with food and my body. I had to reflect on all areas of my life. I needed to move my body and find my strength. To start acknowledging my thoughts, emotions and fears. To connect and be open with other humans. To accept I would not get back the years I had spent hiding. To take steps to move forward. The more I look at and confront what is going on within and around me, the easier it becomes to treat my body in a nourishing way. It took a lot to get here, and every day requires a conscious effort to fight against my habits and create new patterns. And all of this struggle is coming from my life, where I have been lucky enough to have good health. I believe it would be a true gift to help others navigate these waters. To help other humans find a path to healing themselves through food and movement and reflection. So that’s My Why and the path I will follow as the children enter school and I find myself with time. 


The Story of a Virgin Burn

September 17, 2015
Temple through the dust

Going in to Burning Man earlier this month, I had no idea what was in store for me. I figured this was good, as everything I read said “don’t go in with any expectations, and you won’t be disappointed.” I did my fair share of article-reading and video-watching for tips to be prepared for a week without plumbing, electricity, cell phones or grocery stores. I panned through pictures of lights, art, people, and dust, everywhere. I read about managing relationships, hydration levels, nutrition, and above all: my sanity. Hours of preparation were put in, yet my notions of what was on the horizon were all blasted apart the moment we arrived on the playa.

Since I live on the East Coast, a trip to the Burn is not a common occurrence among my acquaintances. Once we were back, everyone wanted to know my opinion on the experience. I definitely had the feeling that most people who asked had a preconceived notion of what Burning Man is, and the type of people who attend. In these conversations, I found it very difficult to express my thoughts on the week I had spent in the desert. The summary of my time is so much more of an internal shifting than a chain of memories, and how do you explain that to someone?

I could definitely write extensively about what happened to me that week: the sights, sounds, and smells; the people I met, hugged, high-fived, and waved to; the art and technology I enjoyed and took part in; the wind-storms and intense sun I endured; and on and on and on. I’ll keep that rundown for my journal, and instead share what happened within me.

couple road

On the road, dust-free for now.

I have returned from the Burn with: a renewed sense of creativity and wonder

I did not even realize that I was missing art in my life. Teaching and practicing yoga is my main creative outlet in the ‘default world’. My creativity started to build prior to the week in Black Rock City in a few ways. Burning Man is a hotbed of self-expression, so I put in some hours brainstorming outfits that would bring out my personality. There was also time pondering possible gifts to share with old and new friends.

Once on the playa, the creative capacity of the human race was revealed to me on an enormous scale. I experienced art as an invitation for thought and introspection, as an outlet for pain, as a method of helping others to connect, and as an expression of love. Art is so much more than drawings, sculpture, and lights. It is a way of trying to explain the experiences and emotions that come from an often complicated and confusing life. I started to see the whole journey of life as a blank canvas, just waiting to be sketched, painted, crumpled up, and put back together in a new way.

Life does not have to be taken so seriously. You can play, experiment, make mistakes; it’s all beautiful, and it’s all art.

The Man, about to Burn

The Man, about to Burn

Click here to see fireworks and the big BANG on Burn night!!

I have returned from the Burn with: the desire to strengthen my connections with others, and form a community

The community created during the week of the Burn reminds me of a quote from Bruce Lipton’s book The Biology of Belief. This temporary city is a prime example of a group of “like-minded people who are working toward advancing human civilization by realizing that Survival of the Most Loving is the only ethic that will ensure not only a healthy personal life but also a healthy planet”.

Prior to Burning Man, I had been in denial about how closed off I had become to the outside world. My life was a revolving door of schoolwork, planning yoga classes, teaching yoga classes, and sitting at home with the husband. While I have a lot of love to share, I have been keeping it to myself. This has been going on for YEARS. I attribute the phenomena almost entirely to my discomfort in conversations (more on that later), and my desire to stay in my comfort zone.

The openness and welcoming I felt at Burning Man blew me away. There was not a single time (unless is was self-imposed) where I felt like I did not belong. The love between new friends, old friends, and strangers was exhilarating. This was a love not expecting anything in return. It was a love aimed at helping each other survive and thrive for a week. Living in the South, Northeast, and now by the nation’s capital, I have rarely witnessed this level of connection between a group of seemingly unconnected people. There is always some amount of tension or dissension. I now see what an amazing world we could create if we only learned to work together instead of competing to get to the top.


Friends and Family

I have returned from the Burn with: a new comfort in myself

While I tried not to have expectations for the week, I did have some hopes. One wish was to find a way to finally allow myself to be me around everyone I meet (basically the premise behind Atman Unleashed). A few months ago, after I started meditating again, I spent some time looking back at my behavior in social situations. I realized that I tend to spend a lot of time observing other people interacting. I analyze the interactions people have with each other or within a group, and then mold my subsequent interactions with them in a way that I think will be most ‘pleasing’ (i.e. what will make them like me?). This requires subtle changes in my personality and energy, and quickly eats away at my vitality. Because of the effort required, I would often just stay in observation mode and avoid the bother of deciding who I needed to be. I had accepted the futility of this mode of action, but had not yet found a way to step away from shape-shifting attempts and embrace authenticity.

I am (incredibly) happy to say, I have arrived. Stepping completely out of my normal world and coming ‘home’ was just what I needed. No due dates, class plans, emails, or blog posts. Just good ole communion with self, others, and nature. The transition was far from instantaneous. There were rough periods sprinkled throughout the week. While I pretty much immediately felt comfortable going out on my bike on my own, and relished in the freedom, I could not bring myself to enter any camps for the first couple of days. I was still holding on to my fear. I broke down a few days into the week, and spent 20 hours inside our yurt; no food, no water, no trips to the bathroom. I would wake up off and on, and find myself still crying, unable to find any will to walk outside. Alonzo finally managed to get me up from hibernation, and we watched the sunrise near an abandoned art installation on the playa.

I was numb. I couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking, or what was causing the low. Looking back now, I think it was the realization that I was still holding back in a place where literally ANYTHING goes; you can be anyone you want, and you will still be loved. If I still maintained stringent control here, where was the hope that I could let go back in society?

Finally, I agreed to cheer up; and I just did it. I took a breath, slapped a smile on my face (artificial at first), and went on a walk to get coffee, collecting MOOP along the way. The nagging melancholy slowly started to disintegrate. I stopped being concerned with perceptions, and started viewing the world as it was. Living in the present, not in the past or future. This is something I preach daily to Alonzo and to students in my yoga classes, and I finally managed to follow my own advice.

My smile became real again, and I shared it with everyone I saw. I laughed, I loved, I bathed, and I weathered a few more storms (internal and external). The challenge of facing such an extreme physical environment, coupled with being so far outside the comfort zone of my living room, drew me out of my shell. I realized I had spent the first half of the week letting fear get in the way of my experience; just as I had let fear dominate the last decade of my life. Finally, I was over it. By the end of the week, while I still found myself on the outside looking in from time to time, I discovered that now it was done out of an enjoyment of watching others connect, rather than in an attempt to choose my own next steps or statements.

It sounds crazy, it sounds unreal. At times I still don’t even believe it myself. But I am changed. Something false in me burned away that week, while my truest self started to bloom. I know challenges will continue to arise in life, and there is plenty left for me to work on, but I have access to a level of peace now that was previously deeply buried.

To everyone who ventured out to the playa with me, I have infinite love for you. To anyone struggling to embrace life instead of hiding away: I feel you, I see you, and I swear the fight is worth it. For me it took a week of burning sun, whipping wind, intense isolation, and deep communion. I sank to one of my lowest points, unsure if I would ever escape. In the end, I rose higher than every before, and I’m liking the view from up here. :)  

Sunrise Through Giraffe Eyes

Sunrise Through Giraffe Eyes

Food, Life

Mindful Eating – Taking a Mindful Bite

July 28, 2015

How can you start to eat mindfully when you often don’t even notice you are eating mindlessly? It’s as easy as observing your experience for even one bite. Try using this acronym as an easy way to tune into the moment.

Breathe: I’m a huge proponent of checking in with your breath in all moments of life. You can use your breath as a mode of increasing mindfulness of eating in a couple of ways. First, try breathing while you are chewing! Not only will you be more likely to chew your food for longer, you might also notice slight changes in the taste of the food. There are pathways that connect your mouth to your nose, so you can actually smell the food that is in your mouth! Nerves in the nose can detect chemicals in your food and send signals to your brain about what is present. This makes your sense of smell a huge factor in detecting different flavors. Secondly, try to take a breath between each bite. This will help you slow down the speed of your meal and bring you back into the moment if you have been drifting towards mindless eating.

Investigate: Use your senses to observe the dish in front of you. Notice the different colors and shapes, the subtle or vibrant aroma coming from the plate, bowl, or glass. Listen to the sounds of your chewing. Feel the temperature and texture on your tongue and how it changes with each bite.

Taste: The last of the traditional 5 senses, this is the one we most associate with eating. Notice the balance of tastes present in your meal: is the food sweet, salty, sour, or spicy? Is there an element of earthiness? Can you note a shift in taste as you chew the food? Enzymes in your saliva start to break down carbohydrates, so take special note when you are eating foods like bread or grains.

Experience: Enjoy not only the taste of the food, but the full experience of eating! How does the food affect your thoughts, body, and mood? Do you already feel energized after the very first bite, or does the food make you sleepy? Do you find yourself rushing through or savoring the food you enjoy?

Try it out and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading :)

Life, Yoga

San Diego: Yoga and Family Fun

July 10, 2015

What happened to the last two weeks?!?! I can’t believe I’ve been back from San Diego for a week and a half. It seems like just yesterday that I was floating on a paddle board and walking along the shore. The trip started out as the annual yoga conference my mom and I take together, and slowly morphed into a full-on family vacation (minus my busy husband). In the end, my mom, dad, sister, sister’s boyfriend and I all converged on San Diego from Colorado, Texas, Cabo, and Virginia. After a bit of discussion, we realized this was our first family trip in almost 10 years! Here are some highlights of the trip:

Yoga with my Mama

Much of my time was spent on Coronado Island at the Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego Conference.The conference was located in the beautiful Coronado Hotel. We waited too long to take advantage of the discounted rates, so stayed about a block away because that place is expensive! We got to spend plenty of time wandering the halls between classes, and wandering through the entire hallway of upscale shopping in the basement. The weekend of yoga started off with a bang. I spent a full day at a workshop with the amazing Tiffany Cruikshank delving deeply into the anatomy of the hip joint (fodder for a future post!). My mom and I took a blissed-out class with Eoin Finn, and shared our very first paddle board yoga experience together the next day! I rounded out the weekend with a fun and light-hearted hamstring-focused class with Kathryn Budig (MC’d by DJ Drez), a heart-pounding immersion into backbends with Annie Carpenter, and a slow and steady hip-opening flow from Jason Crandell. It was a nice balance between the physical and intellectual sides of yoga. Next conference? Maybe San Francisco in January 2016?

La Jolla Kayak Experience

Monday was the only full day with no yoga plans, so my mom found a kayaking expedition out of nearby La Jolla. We walked over to the beach where our kayaks were waiting. There, we got a short tutorial on how to row together and tips for getting beyond the waves to the calmer ocean water.  I was in a double kayak with my sister, and all started out well. We thought we were home free until…a huge wave started forming up ahead!! We were paddling ferociously, but the wave rose way above our heads and came crashing down upon us! We still kept paddling, but eventually it took us down and almost all the way back to shore. Unfortunately for my parents in a kayak behind us, we took them out too. Thankfully we all recovered (and the water wasn’t too frigid) with only one bruise between the four of us. The second attempt was a success, and I’m glad we kept on going. We kayaked over towards some cliffs, pausing occasionally for the tour guides to give tidbits of history on the surroundings. At the cliffs, we were greeted by the barking of sea lions and spent some time watching them spiral through the water together. A bit further down, a flock of Brandt’s Cormorants rested on the cliff slope. Apparently they are an aquatic bird that can dive over 100 feet below water to find food! One by one, our tour guide led us into a cave under the cliffs to view the incredible geology of the place. The journey back to land was a lot of fun! We caught a few waves and skirted the shore back to safety and solid land.

Relaxing on the Water

While most of my days were filled with yoga, we traveled around a fair bit during the evenings and final day (with the help of our tour guide, my sister’s boyfriend). We walked along Mission Beach and Mission Bay, strolled the pier at Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach, and spent some time relaxing at Sunset Cliffs. After dropping my parents at the airport at the end of the trip, I had a few extra hours to kill. My delightful sister and her boyfriend took me to another marina (can’t remember where now) that was supremely peaceful and still. Standing on dock at the water’s edge, we spotted a baby and adult dolphin approaching us. At one point, the adult dolphin’s fin stopped popping above the surface, and the tiny baby fin was the only one rhythmically appearing. It was so quiet out that we could hear each breath when the baby rose out of the water, and it swam by just a few feet in front of where we were standing. We walked along the dock, keeping pace until the dock ended. The adult had swum ahead and was waiting a bit beyond the edge of the dock, and the two swam off into the sunset together. It was a beautiful final memory to add to the trip.

In review: First time in San Diego, not too shabby. I look forward to our next family vacation now :)


Food, Life

Mindful Eating – The Seven Hungers

June 16, 2015

This trimester in school, I am taking my first elective: Mindful Eating and Nourishment. Mindfulness is a truly burgeoning area of focus in the health and wellness industry. Mindfulness training is being applied as part of the treatment plan for many psychological conditions including addiction and anxiety. The basic premise behind mindfulness is to observe the thoughts and the body WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. This means being open to whatever comes up, working to retrain the brain away from its ingrained reactions. Becoming more mindful can greatly improve many areas of your life.

While it is clear there is disorder in the food we as a society are eating, the method in which we are eating is an even bigger problem. Compared to other countries, we as Americans eat faster and with much less awareness and appreciation for what is in front of us. You will hear many people claim to absolutely love food, but if you watch them eat, they don’t actually take the time to savor and enjoy their food. We keep ourselves so busy that we eat and drink while reading, watching T.V., responding to emails, or driving. Instead of staying in its place of importance, the food on our plate takes a backseat to our other concerns. We realize halfway through a meal that we haven’t even tasted our last 10 bites of food.

Because we are eating so rapidly, our body does not have enough time to send us a signal that it is full. If we eat this way often enough, our mind starts to be unable to even understand the signals coming from the body. Eventually, our body might decide to stop sending the signals entirely.

Mindful eating is a huge area of research, so I will introduce just one of the core concepts in this post. According to Jan Chozen Bays, an expert in the mindfulness arena, there are seven hungers at work in our body: eye, nose, mouth, stomach, cell, mind, and heart hunger. For most of us, we have a narrower view of hunger. How would you describe hunger to someone else? Probably you would say something about your stomach feeling empty, or maybe feeling light-headed or cranky? There is actually a whole lot more that goes into it than that! If you have any interest in this topic, Bays’ book, Mindful Eating, is an approachable yet compelling read. It even includes a few brief meditations relating to mindfulness.

Eye Hunger: The first hunger comes from our ability to see our food. You have experienced this any time you finish a meal at a restaurant and feel so full you could burst. But then, the waiter comes by with a tray of meticulously arranged desserts and maybe you could have a little something more. This comes in to play in advertising in a huge way as well. In both cases, it is the beauty of food that is drawing your attention and desire. You can use this to your advantage. Take an extra few seconds to create a nice arrangement of your food when placing it on a plate. Before digging in to your food, spend a moment or two appreciating the visual appeal of what you have in front of you! Notice the different colors, textures, sizes, and shapes of your food. This will increase your enjoyment of your food, and perhaps help you to slow down while eating. If you tend to overeat, slowing down can help you eat less.

Nose Hunger: We have probably all heard how important your sense of smell is to the taste of your food. You’ve experienced this fact every time you have had any congestion from a cold or allergies. Food seems more bland and less enjoyable. Scents can also be tightly tied to memories from your past. Foods that we have enjoyed in the past will become associated with their smells. This is why the aroma of freshly baked cookies or bread, freshly brewed coffee, or sizzling bacon can draw you into a restaurant or kitchen even if you did not feel hungry before.

Mouth Hunger: Mouth hunger encompasses the taste, texture, and temperature of our foods. We each have different preferences: sweet or salty, spicy or mild, smooth or crunchy. The food industry definitely knows about this hunger, pumping foods full of salt, fat, and sugar to overload your taste buds with sensation and keep you coming back for more. These types of processed foods are also the ones you eat quickly, not even paying attention to the subtleties of each bite. To satisfy mouth hunger, slow it down! Actually chew your food, feel the variety of different textures present. Notice how the flavors change as you chew each bite. If you keep this up for the entire duration of your meal, the mouth will be satisfied. If you only stay mindful for the first bite, and wolf down the rest, the mouth will want more and more.

Stomach Hunger: Stomach hunger may feel like an emptiness, constriction, or a grinding and gnawing feeling. It can be hard to ignore! Interestingly enough, this sensation does not necessarily mean that our body needs food. Our stomach can become conditioned by the habits of our eating. If you eat every single day at the same time, your stomach will begin to react in this way out of expectations. You may also have stomach pangs due to anxiety or stress. Stress eating can lead to guilt, creating more stress, and more eating! Quite the vicious cycle. While your stomach can mislead you into eating when you don’t really need to, you also don’t want to completely ignore the messages it sends. This is where it becomes important to check in with the other hungers, to read the full message from the body.

Cell Hunger: I will admit, this is one of the more difficult hungers to access. It requires really looking deeply into the body, and is a skill we tend to lose as we fall into mindless eating. The cells may tell you they are hungry in many ways. Headaches, dizziness, sudden exhaustion, or irritability are common hints. If you are deficient in protein or fats, you might get intense cravings for a steak or a big spoon of peanut butter. A fun exercise to try out is a simple meditation on cellular hunger using a small item of food (a strawberry, a raisin, a small piece of dark chocolate, etc). Sit quietly, eyes closed, and see how the cells of the body feel in the moment. After scanning for a few breaths, place the small food in your mouth and chew slowly. Notice if your cells start to change their tune! Do you feel any sensations in the brain, stomach or skin?

Mind Hunger: Now this is a strong force! Our minds are often the force driving our behavior. With the plethora of information about nutrition, the ‘should’ and ‘should not’s’  flowing through our thoughts are abundant. Due to this, mind hunger is often made up of good vs. bad. The problem with this way of thinking is that research is always changing. What is good for you one day leads to disease the next day. What is good for one person is completely different from what is good for another! Jan Chozen Bays mentions the Buddhist idea of the middle way, suggesting that finding a path between the two extremes will help to maintain sanity. Once again, incorporating all of the hungers and truly listening to what your individual body is asking for can make a powerful improvement in your life.

Heart Hunger: Is there a food you always ate with family growing up, one that still brings back a wave of nostalgia? These ‘comfort foods’ are one basis for heart hunger. Heart hunger can also be a desire to fill some perceived hole in life. We eat to ease suffering in the form of loneliness, boredom, anxiety or grief. Our heart longs for intimacy, whether it is with another person, an animal, nature, or art. Notice when you are eating due to some perceived sense of lack. If the rest of your hungers are telling you food is not needed in the moment, see if you can find another way to nourish your heart. Call a friend, take a walk outside, draw a picture, listen to your favorite song. If you do decide to eat, do so slowly. Truly try to embrace love through the experience.

If you made it this far, kudos! I know this is a long post, but the seven hungers are incredible!! Try checking in with these different aspects of hunger, and let me know how it goes in the comments below! Since starting this class, I already feel like I have a vastly expanded appreciation for the many ways food fuels me, body and soul.


Wine in the Woods

May 19, 2015

The past couple of months have been a whirlwind. In the 10 weeks prior to this one, only two of them have seen Alonzo and I together at home in Arlington. From work trips to short vacations in California and NYC, visiting our new niece in Houston and my family visiting us from out west, traveling to Maryland to start the next round of classes and subbing a lot of yoga classes, it’s been basically nonstop since mid-March. Even in the time we were together, we both had a lot of work to do. Outside of his already-too-much-work day job, Alonzo has also been working on updating the website for The Brew Gentlemen (Side note: Congrats on celebrating a successful first year in the taproom!!) as well as making preparations for our eminent move to California later this year (fingers crossed). I’ve been studying for school, always planning for yoga, and thinking of new ideas to share on my site. With all of that, we needed to take a weekend off to reconnect and try not to dwell on anything at all.

Relaxing weekends go by way too quickly!!! We traveled out to Columbia, Maryland, an easy 50 minute drive north. The city was having its annual “Wine in the Woods” Festival, so we decided to check it out. I was completely unprepared for the scope of the event. In my mind, Columbia is a fairly small town. I figured there would be a couple hundred people and a few tents offering wine from Maryland. Turns out there are A LOT more wineries in the state than I expected, and A LOT (read: thousands) of people interested in trying out their offerings.

I would like to lie to you and pretend the whole day was sparkles and heart bubbles, but my anxiety reared its beautiful head at the sight of such a mass of people. It started off with my failed attempt to find a parking lot the first drive by the event area. I pulled over to let Alonzo take over, but wasn’t able to immediately let go of the tension that ‘failing’ at parking had created in me. We eventually found an open lot and shuttled back over to the woods filled with wine. My poor husband got to spend this time trying to get me to relax and shake it off (at this point, we could have renamed the event “Whine in the Woods”). Having dealt with my border-irrationality too many times to count, I know it can be hard for him to stay patient, and I could see the stress creeping into his body. He just can’t catch a break. Thankfully, after not too long the initial shock wore off, and we wandered around the nicely wooded grounds sampling a variety of wines. After a while, my taste buds could not tell the difference between anything. We left just before the sky broke open into some heat-relieving thunderstorms, and checked into The Columbia Inn bed and breakfast. After a nice nap and a walk down memory lane with a visit to Pei Wei (a favorite cheap date night spot of ours back in high school days), we rounded out the night with a dessert from Wegman’s and another blast from the past, watching Rush Hour in the plush king size bed back at the inn. Made to order omelettes with home fries (plus some sides of meat for the husband) and a fantastic whirlpool bath rounded out our trip, and we drove back the following morning.

Just a 30 minute walk down the street, the annual “Taste of Arlington” was going on, so we took a leisurely stroll down to Ballston to check out some local food. I thankfully had the foresight to bring along some Tupperware, so we were able to carry some food home for dinner using our remaining tickets once we couldn’t eat any more. We made it home in time to collapse on the couch and catch the last quarter of the Rockets game. We both made it through the weekend without spending more than half an hour working, so Monday was an abrupt shock back to reality as we remembered the heavy load of busy-ness that grasped for our attention.

The two big take-aways from this weekend:

  • No matter how proficient I think I am becoming at calming down that seed inside of me that needlessly brings up anxiety, doubt, worry, and fear in social circumstances, I still have a ways to go. I have become much more aware of  how unnecessary the feelings are, but need to continue working to change my mind’s natural and abrupt reaction.
  • I have decided that we should look for a new hobby as a way of taking a step back from the ‘busy-ness’ that seems to overtake our minds during the week. I have found that TV is our go-to, as it is a way to completely disconnect from our world. I would like to instead have an avenue of staying connected to our passions, without the added stress that accompanies our work lives. A few ideas I have come up with so far:
    • Conduct physics experiments…this is as far as the idea has progressed. Alonzo loves physics and gets really fired up when we talk about it, so I think this would be a great way to unwind. We ran our first experiment yesterday while having coffee in the morning. Alonzo dropped a piece of biscotti into his cup and it floated. Buoyancy test!
    • Photography. We got a nice camera for Christmas and still haven’t really figured it all out.
    • Something physical. Maybe rock climbing or some type of martial arts. I know there are SO MANY different styles, and I haven’t done any research yet. If you have any recommendations, please let me know! I think that, like yoga, martial arts would be a great way of strengthening and connecting with the body, and using movement to release stress.

Whew, now back to the daily grind of the week. Happy Tuesday!!!

Life, Yoga

Who turned out the light?

February 17, 2015

I’ve spent much of my life living in fear; fear of judgement, of failing, and even deeper down a fear of even trying. I can attest to the fact that it is so easy to allow fear to hold you back, to use it as an excuse to hide from yourself and from life.

I was painfully shy for much of high school and college (and, to be honest, even now). Social situations would find me standing in a corner trying to blend into the wall. When I went off to college and left the comfort of the friends I had made as a child, I completely fell apart. My freshman year, I exclusively spent my time with two friends I had from high school. If they were busy, I stayed alone. My friends and family would say I just needed to “get out there”, say hello to whoever I met. I would get so upset, thinking they didn’t understand, that it simply wasn’t possible.

It’s a spiraling path that is hard to escape. The more you avoid life, the harder it is to get back out there. Starting this blog, the hardest part by far is putting my life out there, sharing myself and opening up to the ‘judgement’ I so fear from my peers. A fear of being measured and found to be inadequate.

I absolutely love this quote as a source of inspiration. It helps drive me to power through the fear when it starts to overwhelm.:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.  -Marianne Williamson

Even during my weakest moments, I have always felt that I have this inner light. I have just struggled with the shade that hovers on top of it. Struggled with why I worry so much about the parts of life I can not control (like the thoughts of other people, the events of day to day life). This is a big reason why I am so enamored with the notion of the Atman.

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