Author Archive for Julie

Conspiration

Conspiracy theories are nothing new but COVID has lit a fire under things, hasn’t it? Recently, after entering notes in my garden journal, I popped over to Facebook and found myself reading yet another article on the pandemic conspiracy. Suddenly, a voice inside giggled and said, “You’re conspiring to restore the native flora around Comet Lake.” I paused and sat up tall as a light bulb went off in my head. I said the word “conspiration” out loud followed by a joy-filled laugh. I mean, presidents can make up words, so why not me? 

conspiration (verb): to act or work towards making the world a better place 

Often peaceful body image activists (myself included) will encourage folks to consider what could be accomplished with all the time and energy spent hating/trying to change their bodies. I thought to myself, what if everyone took all the time and energy spent watching “documentaries” and arguing on-line and applied it to their deepest desires for a better world. Let’s change the conversation to this; How are YOU conspiring to make the world a better place right now? It’s a fundamental yogic concept: be the change you want to see in the world. I warmed up my coffee and started a list of things I am doing to make the world a better place even in the midst of corruption, division, confusion, etc..

  • continuing my personal healing journey and regular self-care which currently looks like (but is not limited to) my yoga practice, therapy (marital and individual), working an Ala-non program and spending as much time as possible in nature
  • checking in on friends, family and clients regularly to ensure my circles have support in these stressful times
  • speaking up and out about injustice and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, especially working on my own inherited racism
  • continuing to share yoga whenever, however through my work and volunteer activities in a a safe and ethical way
  • increasing my involvement/service with local non-profits

Here’s some conspiration others in my life are up to. Share yours in the comments below!

  • fostering animals
  • clearing invasive species in public lands
  • doing yard work, shopping, meal prep for those quarantined or overextended with family/work obligations
  • cleaning up litter and beautifying neighborhoods
  • planting community gardens
  • supporting artists through Patreon, buying music/art/crafts/etc., sharing through social media
  • starting home school co-ops
  • offering enrichment activities for kids of working parents through ZOOM
  • mentoring in any way possible
  • donating blood if able
  • creating art
  • furthering their education
  • supporting farmers and local businesses
  • pursuing their dreams
  • taking some time to rest and restore themselves deeply
  • making masks for public health
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Nutrition and COVID-19

Every crisis creates opportunity. One I see currently is the chance to focus more on self-care. Obviously I encourage you to dive deep into your yoga practice, especially the meditation component, given all this change. In this blog let’s talk one of my other faves…FOOD. Now’s the chance to stock up on nutrient-dense deliciousness and make magic in the kitchen. Consider how often you’ve said, “I would eat healthier if I had more time.” Well here it is! Not only is it fun and health-enhancing in general, you’ll decrease stress through self-empowerment by taking initiative in an area you can positively influence while things are chaotic. Here are my top shopping tips, nutritional strategies and meal/snack ideas for this Corona Craziness.😊

     Number one, eat that rainbow baby! Fruit and vegetable intake is vital. These guys are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to boost your immunity and keep you healthy all-around. When buying fresh, pick up items that are both ripe and unripe. Bananas 🍌, avocados🥑, peaches🍑, plums, mangos🥭, melon🍈, pineapple🍍 and papaya are all continue to ripen after they’re picked providing fresh fruit up to 2 weeks post-purchase. Apples🍎🍏 and pears🍐 last a while too in the fridge. Grab lemons🍋 and limes for tea, water and recipes. Pick up frozen fruits and veggies too. These will last the longest and are excellent for smoothies, stir-frys, casseroles, soups, omelets and desserts. Think strawberries🍓, blueberries, blackberries, corn🌽, broccoli🥦, cauliflower, green beans, spinach and kale. Always toss carrots🥕 and celery in your cart because they’re great staples and create the base of many juice and soup recipes. Stock up on onions🧅 and garlic🧄. These last a long time in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated place. Add them to your meals as much as possible as they contain potent oils that have anti-microbial actions which protect against bacterial and viral infections. Also pick up fresh herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, oregano and thyme. Root vegetables such as beets, potatoes🥔, sweet potatoes🍠 help make meals hearty and nourishing. 

     Let’s venture beyond the produce area. How about those BEANS! They’re inexpensive, readily available, have a long shelf life and amp up protein and fiber intake. Pick up canned (rinse to remove excess sodium) or dry. Some ideas for use are chili (try it in the slow cooker), black bean veggie burgers, soups, burritos or quesadillas. Add cold beans or chickpeas to salads. You can make your own fresh hummus in the food processor and/or try your hand at refried beans or bean dips (my husband’s been on a kick with these). Here’s some recipes!

Vegan Lentil Soup: Get Your Soup On!

Homemade Hummus: https://julienormanyoga.com/happy-for-hummus/

Black Bean Burgers: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/222247/vegan-black-bean-burgers/

Chili: slow-cooker-chili

     Nuts and seeds are another nutrition powerhouse with a very long shelf life. Think almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts (just 2 of these a day supply enough Selenium for immune support), and peanuts. For seeds we have chia, sunflower, flax, sesame and hemp hearts. More healthy protein here, fiber too plus anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Oh ya! One of my fave snacks currently is a 1/4c walnuts and dark chocolate chips. Gives ya a sweet fix with some health benefits. Same with adding some natural nut butter to whole dates. These little nuggets taste better and are way cheaper than Lara Bars though they’re basically the same ingredients. Those nut butters also pair well with fruit and even some veggies (remember ants on a log?). Again add nuts and seeds to salads, stir-fry’s and also granola. Here’s my go to recipe for that: https://julienormanyoga.com/glorious-granola/ I just found this A-maze balls blog with 25 different kinds of energy ball recipes that use lots of these ingredients. What a great way to keep those kids busy! I can’t wait to try all of these: https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/energy-packed-snack-balls/

     After getting nutty, proceed to buying your whole grains. Get rolled oats for those balls and granola listed above (gluten-free if needed). Brown rice, rice noodles and quinoa for stir-frys and other creations. Speaking of creativity, explore all the new options out there for pasta such as chickpea, veggie and brown rice varieties. If you eat bread, grab the kinds with lots of texture. I like Ezekial bread the best, also sprouted grain brands. Whole grain wraps and corn tortillas are nice for wraps, quesadillas and burritos. Another gem is fermented food such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and some yogurt. These are more important  now as the good bacteria in them can improve gut health and therefore overall immunity. Look for “live cultures” on the label.    

     Consume broth! Chicken and beef broths are loaded with collagen, vitamins, minerals and most importantly amino acids which build our immune system. They also provide an excellent source of hydration and have the electrolytes we need should we get sick. If buying a pre-made broth, choose the low sodium options. If at all possible, buy local from your farmers. Always shop organic. This is better for the animals, community and Mama Earth 🌏. Making a broth is easy peasy. Try this simple recipe. https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-bone-broth/ Vegetable broths and soups are also excellent. Mix it up!

     Get your Vitamin D my friends. Yes C is important for immune health, (Ester-C is my go to) but D is also essential. Great sources of vit D include oily fish such as salmon and mackerel (though personally I stopped doing all seafood for the sake of our oceans 🌊), eggs and mushrooms. These last two last a while in the fridge. Supplements are OK too. Follow dosage instructions and be sure to check expiration dates. More than anything, get outside! Some sweet sunshine goes a long way on many fronts ☀️.

     Stay Hydrated. This is essential to prevent and treat any type of viral infection. When you’re dehydrated, your body can’t produce enough saliva and mucus to keep your throat naturally lubricated. This will make the swelling and inflammation worse. Add fresh or frozen fruit and/or herbs if you don’t like to the plain stuff. Tap and well is fine. STOP WITH THE PLASTIC PLEASE! Again…🌍 There is no need stock up on water due to the virus. If you are unsettled about it then buy a Berkey and you can use water from just about any source. https://theberkey.com Herbal teas are also an excellent option. When drinking tea, add a touch of honey and lemon for flavor. This will also soothe your throat and is perfect if you develop a cough or sore throat. You can make Golden Honey to put in hot water and create a powerful medicinal food. Check out the recipe and benefits here: https://www.miraclesofhealth.com/turmeric-golden-honey-remedy Best to avoid sodas, high sugar drinks, excess caffeine and alcohol as they all negatively impact immune health.

     Lastly, limit sugar, alcohol, soda, and heavily refined, processed foods as much as possible. These promote inflammation in the body and can cause a spike in sugar, both of which suppress the immune system. These substances don’t help our mental and emotional states either which brings up another important point. What we are going through is unsettling to say the least. Our relationships with food and body are often the indicators of how we are responding to stress, trauma etc.. If you notice these things taking a turn for the worst, hop over the the Body Peace e-Course for support or connect with me directly for a one-to-one session

Ok, I think I got all my thoughts out…LOL. Feel free to share your ideas and strategies! Wishing you and yours ease, peace and vital health now and always. Julie

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Revolutionary Resolutions

One day in my early 20’s I sat back and wondered what would happen if women, all women everywhere, simply stopped fighting with their bodies. What kind of force would be unleashed into the stratosphere? What could all the time, energy, focus, “will power,” money, creativity, and emotion spent on the diet gimicks, fitness fads, elective plastic surgery, modified foods, etc. support instead of the illusion that body transformation will make you _________________ (fill in the blank for yourself here). This contemplation was sparked early in my own recovery process after a powerful awakening to peaceful body image (click here for more on that). It occurred before being introduced to the concepts of Goddess, Shakti, the Divine Feminine and such. I don’t think I even knew what feminism was yet (yikes!).

I did know however, the truth of my own experience. 

I knew the constant battle with my body and food depleted my life force and distracted me from my dreams. I knew it was never going to be enough or make me finally feel like I was worthy of love. I knew waiting for my life to begin when I reached a fantasy figure was cowardice disguised as prudence. I knew constantly judging my body eroded self-esteem and confidence more than the size of my thighs. I knew all the rules I made for eating and moving where attempts to feel in control of life which we ultimately can’t control. I knew when I dared to defy the culture, my family legacy of weight obsession and my own inner critic that I was changing more than my life; I knew I was changing the world. 

Indeed much has changed in the last 25 years. The body positive movement is in full swing much to my delight. Sadly, much has stayed the same. I continue to see women lament their bodies and get sucked into every new food trend that captures media attention. Fear, guilt and shame reign supreme when one eats something sweet…or with carbs…or wheat…or dairy…ugh, it’s exhausting. Here we are at the precipice of a new decade and in a full court press for women’s liberation (for real this time) but still a vast majority of women will kick off 2020 in the nebulous realm of body negative new year’s resolutions.

I thought body peace was important 20 years ago. Now it feels absolutely essential for women, every single one of us, to not spend one more moment dimming our own light. Slaying the patriarchy is an inside job first and foremost. I know it’s scary. I know it’s hard. I know it’s confusing, especially now that diet culture is more creative. The insidiously addictive obsession with controlling our bodies masquerades as self-care now more than ever. I’m proposing a brave and bold shift. Dare to diverge. Go bigger not smaller with yourself as you set the stage for your year. Tap into your deepest desires over the superficial. Expand your presence. Fully embrace your existence. Set yourself and others free. Lead by example. Here are just a few suggestions for Revolutionary Resolutions that truly heal and empower ourselves and each other. Use them for inspiration and make them your own. I’d love to hear your ideas! And should you want to work together more intimately around resolving eating and body images challenges check out the upcoming Women, Food and Horses program (click HERE), Private PEACE Coaching (click HERE) and Body Karma Healing Basics Workshop (click HERE). Peace and Namaste.

This year I will…

prioritize my passion.

break free from unhealthy relationships.

align more fully with my dharma.

serve others with balance and grace.

write poetry.

write letters.

speak up against injustice.

VOTE!

nourish my body.

listen to my body.

treat my body with respect.

create art.

move mindfully.

plant trees.

express myself unfiltered.

embrace emotions.

embrace silence.

speak my truth.

forgive.

speak kindly.

stand up for myself.

stand up for others.

mentor.

read more.

listen more.

rest when I need to.

release negative self-beliefs.

give compliments.

receive compliments without deflection.

practice meditation.

practice yoga as yoga, not fitness.

practice random acts of kindness.

walk in the woods.

travel.

honor boundaries (your own and others).

buy less plastic.

have more face to face conversations.

command equal pay.

tip well.

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Beautiful Legs

“Oh no! Your beautiful legs!” a voice inside screamed as the dog’s teeth ripped at my flesh. I could feel him hanging off my right hip for what was only a few seconds though it felt like forever. He released then hit again at my left inner thigh piercing the skin and muscle. I was terrified and screaming for help. Then more pain at the back of my right knee before I managed to get out of the fenced yard where a whole pack of dogs barked and yelped all around me. Turning to slam the gate closed my attacker launched five feet high, mouth wide open, to barely miss biting my face. I raced to safety back in the barn. Once there I paced nervously running my hands briskly up and down my legs. I affirmed out loud to myself, my body, and the frightened young woman who saw it all happen, “You’re OK. You’re OK. You’re OK. I’m OK. I’m OK. I’m OK” In those first moments after the incident fear faded and I was shocked at what I felt below it: shame. “SHAME?” I thought. “WTF!” Processing this trauma over the next few days I would realize the connection.

On Oct. 30 I was viciously attacked by a border collie at a small private horse farm I was helping at a few afternoons a week. I sustained four bites, three of which broke skin and one that required stitches. I am truly OK. It was indeed the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me. It also could have been a lot worse but there were many things that went right considering the circumstances. Strange as it sounds, I’m grateful for the experience. Many valuable lessons have come from it which is often the case with events that shake you to the core. I want to share about a few of them here in continued hopes that we all learn, heal and grow together.

So, the beautiful legs thing. This was my mother’s voice. When I was a kid my mom would say this anytime I hurt my legs. She would fret over my legs getting scars. This confused me. I remember thinking, “What’s the big deal? I’m having fun living life. Who cares if my body shows it!” Later working through recovery I would have to come to terms with the insidious pattern of painful body image that lived in my family’s maternal line. I would have to process the anger and grief from not getting the nurturing my child self needed in those scary times. Instead of comforting me, my mother’s concern was with appearance and for good reason: survival. My grandmother objectified her daughter’s body too. My mother was put on diets and given amphetamines at age 12 to keep up appearances in her family. She was also physically and verbally abused. Unable to feel safe, my mom adopted practices that aligned with the legacy of feminine oppression, like focusing on the external, to protect the sacred self within.

From an energetic perspective, it makes sense this memory emerged during the attack. Legs are part of the root chakra energy center relating to (among other things) early childhood development, safety, self-preservation, embodiment/body image, and first and foremost: survival. Though I’ve done tons of healing work, this goes to show how deeply embedded in our bodies formative experiences and conditioning (cultural, societal, familial, etc) can be. The shame thing (third chakra) ties right in here too. My inner child reacted to physical injury this way because of the pattern of body shame in my family. Furthermore, in a patriarchal culture women are often scapegoats, even when they’re the victims. “Got raped? Well, you shouldn’t have worn that short skirt…” This is also a trauma response. Taking undue responsibility for horrible things that happen, even due to the negligence of another such as in my case here, is an emotional survival technique. It’s a means of avoiding the myriad of painful emotions surrounding the event: fear, confusion, abandonment, grief, etc. It’s an attempt to control the inevitably uncontrollable human experience, something everyone’s ego struggles with.  

These reactions simultaneously blew me away and didn’t surprise me at all. I can say the same for the way my yoga skills engaged. My higher mind caught on right away when the attack triggered lower vibe thinking and unprocessed emotion. Years ago I would have listened to the shame, minimized the event and took the blame. Instead, rational thought and self-compassion kicked in. I dove into deep self-care with extra body work, acupuncture and therapy sessions. These saved this new trauma from settling into my physical and subtle body while also releasing the old trauma the event shook loose. Finally, my practice guided me to glean as much wisdom as possible from this experience rather than wallow in victimhood. Beyond body image, it awakened fresh insights around self-worth, boundaries, intuition, receptivity and more. This poem emerged from my process:

Beautiful Legs

“Oh no! Your beautiful legs!”
Is that all I am to you?
A body
a trophy
a prize
something that makes you matter

I am not
your china doll
My body is my own

I know your pain
It runs through me too
A child alone
confused by abuse

This Mother Wound
has lived long
it goes deep

As my flesh was torn
your voice rang
“Oh no! Your beautiful legs!”

I felt shame
Shame?
Shame for being attacked?
This is no fault of mine
yet the tracks are etched in my psyche

Take on that which is not yours
Carry the cross
bear the burden woman
Surely you got what you deserved

Today I release
these lies
these beliefs

This body belongs to me
She is mine
The Divine

Incarnate joy indeed

I will tend her
and love her
and be a Queen

Empress
Goddess
Mother to All
but first, to myself

HUGE thanks to everyone that saw me through this experience. It was no fun missing classes, client sessions and my volunteering but everyone’s sincere concern, compassion and understanding was overwhelmingly supportive. Gratitude to my husband for always being there for me and not passing out when I got stitches. And to my mom (dad too) who broke the chain of physical abuse by never so much as spanking me or my sisters and who so bravely allowed me to share some of our story here. 

One of the best things that came of this experience is my renewed inspiration in the Body Karma Healing work. While I still see private clients for this program, I’ve not done a workshop in a while. That’s changing this January! Join me for BKH Basics at Yoga 108 School of Yoga 1/12/20 to kick of the new year in body bliss. Register now to save your spot: Click HERE

In addition, I’m co-facilitating a new equine-assisted therapy program Women, Food and Horses at Hope Meadows beginning January 10th. Details HERE

And if you dig the poems I share, join me for Poems and Poses at the same venue 3/29/20: Learn more HERE

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California Dreaming’ (and Ohio too)

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
-Anais Nin

Dreams…what are yours? Which ones have come true? Which ones have fallen through. I love dreaming, just letting my heart expand into unbridled desire and my mind play with the ways things could manifest. In this post I share about some dreams of mine and their unique paths because this dream thing is not always cut and dry. Read on for my 3 main musings on dreams. I hope they inspire you to keep on dreaming. I’ve also added some resources to support your journey. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

1. Dreams are anything but static. They evolve and may have several cycles of death and rebirth. 

To this day, my greatest dream come true was having a horse of my own. I always thought I’d have to wait till I could buy one myself but at just 18 the horse of my dreams showed up and was in my life for 20 years changing things for the better. That big dream evolved into wanting to bring others into the realm of equus where I’ve found so much joy, healing and self-empowerment. From 2013-2014 this manifested magically as Crystal Awakenings where Madison Graves and I led equine-assisted groups, individual sessions and a retreat for our local community. Life unfolded as it does which included Madison and our horses moving to Texas ending that phase of this dream. Just this summer our herd returned to Ohio (great!) but without Madison to co-facilitate (bummer…). THEN, seemingly out of nowhere, I was invited to collaborate with Hope Meadows, a local non-profit providing Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning to the community. I am over the moon! Check out the Yoga and Horses Group now offered there by clicking HERE. 

My point here is, don’t get attached to HOW your dreams will become reality and be patient. They are dynamic and multidimensional. They have seasons. They ebb and flow. You may think they are ending but sometimes they are just in transition. As long as the desire is there, allow it. Talk about it, share it, meditate on it but also surrender and trust the flow. 

2. Dreams often exceed expectations.

Not only did I get my own horse but he and I went on to compete successfully at the local and national level in show jumping. We literally FLEW together. And Hope Meadows, it was founded in part by colleagues I had worked with years ago in the eating disorders field. Two of my passions colliding (horses and recovery) and then a third (yoga) being a perfect fit. I’m in awe of how these dreams expanded!

Another example of this happened just this fall. Since the day my daughter Elle fell in love with my favorite band the Red Hot Chili Peppers I’ve dreamt of taking her to see them perform in Southern California. This fall we traveled west to cross this off our Bucket List. As we were waiting to get into the festival, I saw Captain Paul Watson, Elle’s  all-time greatest hero, was on the schedule to speak THAT DAY. We made our way to the Storyteller’s Stage early overjoyed that we would be anywhere near this eco-warrior. Then Mr. Watson walked right up behind Elle and she had the chance to directly share her gratitude for his work creating the Sea Shepherd’s Conservation Society. Also unbeknownst to me, my favorite artist of all time, Robert Wyland, was painting murals at this event and I got to meet him too! Learn  more about both of these amazing gentlemen by clicking on their names above. 

Dreams have a way of manifesting in ways we could have never imagined. This is because our minds simply can’t comprehend the infinite potential of the Universe. It seeks to co-create with us so surrender the control, enjoy the ride and watch what emerges from there. Be open to something better!

3. Dreams will make you WORK.

Before I met my husband I spent a year getting really clear on what I wanted in a partner. I dreamed of sharing not just the joys but the real struggles of this life with someone who would meet me as equal on the journey. I wanted someone who would value the soul work I believe we are all here to do. Five years into this relationship I am in the depths of my own personal growth again finding it hard to be vulnerable and trust the person I love to see me through to the other side. I catch myself in self-sabotage cycles when I feel insecure and trauma resurfaces. It is the dream of conscious partnership the gives me the courage to heal through the old pain below these destructive habits. 

The path of yoga offers us unparalleled support through this hard stuff. Currently I’m integrating Kundalini practices in the my personal sadhana and also revisiting the Goddess Wisdom cCourse. I’m using the Gaia app for the Kundalini (click HERE) and you can find it locally at Tracy Rhinehart’s Yoga 108 School (click HERE). Practice Goddess Wisdom with me and Kristy Leahy over on Udemy (click HERE)

Thanks for reading and please share if you like. And always, dream on!

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Mountains, Marriage and Mantra

This past spring I took an incredible trip out west with my daughter, sister and sister’s partner. Our destination, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. It was A…MA…ZING. The picture here was taken right behind our first camp site. The Tetons are exquisite and Yellowstone, well, it’s Yellowstone. There’s nowhere like it anywhere else on earth. 

I’ve longed to return to this area since first visiting nearly 20 years ago. At that time, a dear friend of mine gifted me a trip to Jackson Hole, WY to spend a week on a dude ranch. I was fresh out of college, had recently stepped away from the competitive equestrian world and just went through a painful breakup. I had been in recovery for a few years but it was the first time I was writing regularly and coming to understand this life as a spiritual journey. Another friend had given me a Winnie the Pooh journal a fews weeks prior to the trip and it went with me. I poured my heart into those pages every morning and night before and after our three hour trail rides through the Snake River Valley. It was a big time of discovery, healing and growth.

As I packed for this recent trip, it dawned on me that I still had that journal. I dug it out and took it with me thinking how cool it would be to enjoy mornings on the mountains and evenings by the campfire reflecting on the past and reveling in how far I’d come, how much wiser I am now. 

Insert hysterical laughter here…

This is NOT what happened. Instead, I flipped through the pages in irreverent awe. I’d read a bit and thought, “Huh, still working on that.” Read a little more, “Huh, still working on that.” Read a little more, “Huh, still working on that.” I was surprised, humbled and in a weird way relieved. I was firmly reminded that this journey is anything but linear, anything but organized and in no way is it within our control. I often share in sessions and classes the expression, “We’re all working on the same shit.” Ya know, the biggies: self-worth, self-love, healing trauma, following our heart’s desires, etc. This experience showed me that the work never really ends, rather it continues to deepen, to call us to open more and more fully into our truest selves. It’s all we’re here to do really, live into what shows itself, to what we’ve chosen or created. To keep accepting the lessons even when they’re hard and familiar, even when we think we have all figured out. 

Upon returning, I felt different in the life I had chosen for myself over the last five years. I could see clearly how old patterns had bled into my marriage. It was hard, so hard, to look at. For 2 weeks I sat with this new awareness. I tried to deny truths that were not in alignment with what would keep me comfortable in certain ways and that would force me to own pain I was afraid to feel fully. I did not want to surrender control (rather the illusion of it). At some point in the sitting with it, breathing with it, being IN it, something broke through my mountains of resistance and brought clarity on what I needed. 

As I write this, my husband and I are living separately. It is hard but it is right. The space is allowing me to keep working on my own shit and for him to do the same. We hope that in doing so, we can create an even better version of us. In this “brutiful” (as Glennon Doyle says) time of death and rebirth a simple mantra has emerged for me: feel and love. That no matter where I am, what is coming up, what is falling apart, what my mind says, what others think or say…feel and love. It returns me to that sanctuary inside that these sacred places mirror back to me. It reminds me we’re all in this together. 

Godspeed on your journey. It’s a pleasure to share some of it with you. For a little mountain inspiration listen to Moran by Zach by clicking the pic. Photo by Zach Freidhof 

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Chocolate Avocado Muffins

Chocolate, it just makes life better. Well, in this JNY Fun With Food Blog we make a chocolate favorite even better with some healthy hacks: avocado, coconut oil and maple syrup. I first tasted these delightful little nuggets at a local yoga retreat (check out Centerpeace Yoga) and they are so yummy! I love surprising my students at Lifesource Yoga with these and baking them up with my PEACE Retreat peeps. Try your hand at them and let me know what your taste buds think.

Happy Snacking! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour (gluten-free all purpose works or brown rice flour)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 c non-dairy milk (I use almond)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (use vegan if preferred) 

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cup muffin pan (I like to make minis!) with paper liners or use coconut oil and a bit of flour to reduce sticking. 
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a blender or food processor puree together the avocado, milk, oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. 
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Do not over mix.
  5. Divide batter into muffin pans. Bake regular muffins for 20-25 minutes. Bake minis for 10-12. In both cases use a toothpick to test doneness. It should come out clean when baked fully.
  6. Remove muffins from oven and let cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes. Lastly remove muffins from the pan and allow to cool completely. Enjoy! 

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Get Your Soup On!

There’s great delight in cozying up with a hot, delicious cup of soup on a cool day. It’s even better when you share this pot of nutrition and taste with friends and family. In this installment of “Fun With Food” I share my favorite veggie soup recipe. This is one of my go to dishes for PEACE Retreats and other events with clients here at the Lake Studio. It’s also what I take to most potlucks during the fall and winter. Make it as directed or follow your culinary creativity to make it your own home cooked happiness. Grab your ingredients and head on over the video below to get your soup on!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 2 medium yellow or white onions
  • 3-5 large cloves fresh garlic, diced
  • 1 Tbsp diced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp diced fresh tumeric
  • 1 cup chopped celery 
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 cup chopped radish and/or potatoes
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1.5 cups dried green lentils
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable boullion 
  • 6 cups water
  • salt, pepper and additional spices to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large stock pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add in garlic, ginger and tumeric. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes or so stirring gently here and there.
  2. Add in the rest of the veggies in the order listed. Saute for another 8-1o minutes stirring frequently. While doing that, boil your first 2 cups of water then stir in the bouillon till dissolved to make your vegetable broth. Let stand.
  3. Add the lentils last and finish sautéing and stirring everything together for 8-10 more minutes.
  4. Add vegetable broth and remaining 4 cups of water (warm from tap is fine). Bring to a simmer and keep it there until all veggies and lentils are well cooked to desired texture, typically about 20 minutes. Add salt, pepper and other spices of choice (I usually add more powered ginger and tumeric) during this phase. If you like a thicker, stew-like soup then leave the lid off during the simmer. Cover to keep the soup more brothy.
  5. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and/or add shredded cheese or feta. Enjoy!

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Discipline VS Permission: Part One

I recently came across an old voice memo I recorded years ago. In it was a short but powerful message I needed to hear. A message that contains several concepts I often forget again and again though they are quite important in the relationship with myself. I could hardly believe this wisdom was coming from me and it felt profoundly nourishing to listen to my own voice, my Truest Self, shining light on an age old battle between my mind and soul. As I was reflecting on this I felt compelled to share what’s come up. Here’s both the recording and transcription along with some additional musings I’ve turned into this blog series. 

What we need most is not discipline, rather permission. Permission to be who we are, to fully express ourselves in the world. If we have to force ourselves to do something, it is not in alignment with our true nature of divineness. We are not ready. We need more training; training in our own pain and our own suffering at times, but once we become present with that we will be healing through the true barriers to our freedom. It’s the process not the product that provides for us, that feeds our souls. It’s our becoming that is important.

This concept first showed up for me in yoga teacher training back in 2008. It wasn’t something our teacher talked about, but it come through my own direct experience which is actually what yoga promotes as our greatest source of wisdom. As students we were encouraged to do our daily practice (called sadhana) at home every morning between trainings. I had some resistance to this and found the more I judged myself for missing days, the more days I would miss. Guilt and shame began to build month to month as we returned to our weekend long retreats and were encouraged to report our “progress.” At some point I decided to simply let myself off the hook. I changed the mantra in my head from a stern “You need to do your practice!” to a compassionate, 

“You have permission NOT to practice.”

There was something so incredibly freeing in this. I felt a weight was lifted. I felt a new kind of self-love that I was not entirely familiar with yet in my life. Remarkably, at some point soon after I made this shift within, I developed a regular meditation and asana practice without struggle. I woke up with ease and floated to my mat to sit for twenty minutes at a time, something I found daunting before. Practicing postures became intuitive and exciting as my body was liberated from the “shoulds” in my mind. It was perplexing but I consciously released the thinking and trying to understand it and focused instead on simply enjoying what was happening. To this day I find this to be a key component to staying consistent with my practice (and happiness for that matter), 

I allow myself to be human rather than perfect. 

The magic of this type of permission over discipline is in the acceptance. Now there are many layers to this whole acceptance business but for the sake of simplicity, let’s break it down to two things here: embracing resistance and living in our wholeness. 

Embracing Resistance: Often, when we’re coming from the angle of discipline (especially the westernized variety), we’re fighting with ourselves and thereby inherently un-practicing the first teaching of yoga which is ahimsa or non-violence. We’re engaging the ego rather than healing it. Though we’re taught it’s a bad thing, resistance actually holds wisdom for us. It illuminates woundedness that makes it difficult to allow anything loving from ourselves or others. Unhealed wounds breed unworthiness. Instead of judging ourselves when we’re feeling resistant to acts of self-care such as our yoga practice, eating well or setting/holding boundaries in relationships, sit with the experience of it. Notice how it feels in your body, observe the thoughts that feed it. Don’t psychoanalyze, rather befriend resistance and allow it the time and space it needs to teach you whatever it is showing up to give. 

Living In Our Wholenss: You see a lot out there these days about worthiness and/or “enoughness.” Like so many things, the idea of this is cool and all but to embody it is a little more complicated. Additionally, the whole self-help movement is great but I see a down side to it in that the inherent message is you are not ok as you are. If we are constantly trying to change, we never have the chance to just be. It’s in the being that the magic happens. 

I see an example of this over and over again when I teach. One of the most challenging things for students to do is stand in five-pointed star pose (standing with wide legs, arms extended with a tall posture) taking up the space they inhabit. People share feeling awkward, guilty, ashamed, anxious even angry when encouraged to hang out there in their fullness. This is not surprising given that we’re conditioned through our patriarchal systems to fear our innate awesomeness, to play small, to make others feel good but dare not do so for ourselves. We fertilize these toxic seeds of faulty beliefs by constantly “working on ourselves.” Instead, live from the basic yogic tenant that there’s actually no separation between us and God (Source, Spirit, Light-whatever you want to call it). How then would you approach things that enhance that lovin’ feeling?

I’ll be back next blog with more on discipline and permission. Be sure you’re on my email list so you don’t miss it! Join HERE. Also feel free to share your thoughts and questions to add to the exploration of this topic. After all, we’re all learning together! Comment below or email me: [email protected]

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Happy for Hummus

Yes, hummus makes me happy along with a million other things in this beautiful life but we’ll just cover hummus in this blog. I never thought I’d be one to make it at home but I recently married another avid hummus eater and two of the four kids between us love the stuff too. We also get tons of amazing garlic and onions from our farm share and like to limit our plastic use as much as possible. I usually buy dried chickpeas in bulk but you can use canned ones just as well. If you do the dried (which are cheaper by the way) simply soak them overnight then boil till nice and soft. Here’s the rest of the ingredients of this delicious, healthy snack packed with protein, fiber, phytonutrients and flavor!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15oz can)
  • 1 small chopped white or yellow onion
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (fresh or roasted)
  • 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1/4-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Optional: Nutritional Yeast, cumin, diced jalapeños, roasted red pepper, avocado

Mix it all together in a food processor adding more oil and/or water to desired consistency. You may also play with the spices to your taste. Enjoy with crackers or veggies, add to wraps, salads, sandwiches or make some fresh tabouli to go with it. Check out my video for detailed guidance and a dash of fun.

 

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