Take A Moment…

There is a lot of talk about mindfulness and meditation these days. An opportunity to connect and recenter. But mindfulness doesn’t always have to mean a silent retreat and you don’t always have to meditate on a cushion in your private yoga sanctuary. While these might be wonderful ways to get away, they are not realistic for most people.

I read an article the other day from a newsletter I get each day called The Daily Good from The Good Trade. It is a super simple newsletter with recommendations on podcasts, books, recipes and interesting articles.

The story that caught my eye was 99 Ways To Add Mindfulness To Your Day, at first I thought this sounded overwhelming, I can’t do 99 things each day, but that wasn’t the point. The idea is to add small moments into your day when you CAN.

These were some of my favorite ideas:

• #3: Breathe. More specifically “Step outside to breathe the fresh air and get a sense for what the day may bring.” This is a powerful way to start your day.

• #6: “Meditate in the shower. Focus on the smell of the soap and how the warm water feels on your skin.” Just that simple, take time in the shower, something we do once a day, where you can be truly present.

• #17: Mindful eating. Something I am always working on, but I like the idea of trying to “pay attention to how food tastes and feels on your tongue. Experience how a warm mug curves gracefully in your palms.”

• #48: “Stop and smell the flowers. Reach out and touch a leaf or a tree trunk. Experience the joy of running your hands or bare feet through grass and earth. Indulge your senses with nature.” I just don’t do this enough.

• #52: “Hug your partner, friend, or pet for 30 seconds. Speak sweet affirmations to them.” This is such a sweet idea, hug and tell those you love that you appreciate them. Hugging is coming back! Go get your shots!

• #57: “Tell your co-workers or team that you are thankful for their work. Thank your barista for making you a delightful cup of coffee and your mail carrier for delivering your package. Just thank someone.” This is just nice to do and makes everyone feel good. I would add in give compliments too, same idea but telling someone what you like about them or that they are offering something you appreciate makes everyone happy!

• #97: And this, just because; “Pause when the sunshine hits your face. Embrace its warmth. Pause when the wind hits your face. Embrace its chill.” Be in the moment.

My suggestions to you is to read the whole article and then pick out a few you might be able to fit into your day or week.

I will start by saying Thank You to the The Daily Good and Emily Torres for this great article that gives us so many wonderful reminders to connect to the world around us and be present each day!

Happy Friday, Friends! Thanks for reading!!

Earth Day Poem

In my yoga classes this week, I read a poem by Stephanie Kaza, (writer, practicing Soto Zen Buddhist, and active proponent of religious dialogue. @https://www.stephaniekaza.com/)

This beautiful poem resonated me, not only for Earth Day, but as a way to honor our body and all it does as we move through our lives on the Earth.

“Please, dear mother Earth,

Help me to stand firm on my own two feet

Drawing on the solid earth below me

Help me to know the constancy of your strength

the power that is you, oh dear mother earth

Help me to walk with the blood of rivers in my veins

and the dark crumbling soil of earth in my flesh

let my muscles be strong as tree trunks

that rise up out of your belly

To dance in the sky

and sing praises to the life all around

Beating, pulsing, rich and full

with your sweet energy.

Oh dear mother earth

live in this body today.

Sing loudly in every breath I take

Stretch wildly and flow freely

with all the directions I move

and come home with me,

come home to my belly

live deep in my soul

oh mother earth, SING!”

A Day Away

A day away from the city

Early morning ferry ride

Open the gate to the farm

School is in session

I am on my way

Travel the curvy road

Fields and farms on either side

Dead end to the trail head

Steep hill leads us down

Grassy knolls and trees around

Through the shrubs we find the water

Rocky beach abundant with sticks

In the water and out

Dropping it and shaking off

Running further down

And then back again

A day at the beach

Our favorite way to spend the day

Last Time

For me, one of the silver linings of the pandemic has been joining my writing groups. I have taken a number of classes with Hugo House and have formed friendships and groups with people I have never met in person, yet I tell them everything about my life. In our group this weekend, we were given a prompt about the last time we did something. As we get closer to spring break, I wrote about the last time I was at the ocean…

The last time I was at the ocean was only a few months ago, but it feels like ages. Yes, I have been to the water and technically the Puget Sound is part of the ocean, but the real ocean is the beach and the waves and the open air and sand that seems to go forever.

I get to go back in a few weeks, a little get away to the house at the beach. The drive can be long, but these days traffic is less. After a few hours we finally turn off for the last twenty miles, the curvy road with evergreens on either side. As we get closer, I can feel the stress lifting. That last turn until we get to our town, I can see the ocean. As we pull into our tiny beach community, my daughter says to me, “You can exhale now, Mom.”

Heading down the huge staircase that leads to the water. Once the path is clear, one of us darts ahead and we let the dog barrel down the stairs to find his freedom on the sand. Seeing our canine family member have so much freedom, running fast, herding us all up together, splashing in the waves and chasing the birds. That is my perfect day at the beach.

With clouds in the sky, sun shining or even sideways wind blowing, it will always be my happy place. Running on the beach or strolling casually, the inhale of the fresh sea air fills my soul. It’s the recharge I always need to pull me back to the ground, get out of my head and be present in the moment.

The ocean has a power that I respect. Never turn your back to the ocean, I tell my girls. The waves come and go, sometimes in sets, sometimes sporadic, but they always come in and go back out. The sound is soothing, the rush of the white water as it floods towards us, the pull as it heads back out to sea. Back and forth it goes. Always reliable. Always there. Steady.

Coming Home

Moving, organizing, getting settled. I took a break from the blog last week because I was bit overwhelmed, now I am feeling a bit more grounded in my space. For me it felt like home since the moment we walked in.

The laundry is loud, the space is small, there is barely any storage, but it is our home. The shower is mine, the kitchen is mine, this is the house we brought our babies home to, this is the house that we remodeled and updated. This is our house. It feels a bit smaller than when we left, our girls are older now, but they hibernate to do school and chill out in their rooms, we don’t need spaces for tons of toys or doing gymnastics. We all are able to find our own separate spaces when we need it and we can all be cozy and together if we need it too. I remind myself we lived in a camper for a year, we can handle a smaller space, especially when it feels right, we are closer to our friends and this is our home.

I look forward to watching the leaves on the Japanese Maple tree coming in. I look forward to back yard barbecues with neighbors and walks to the beach with friends. I look forward to my kids walking or driving a short distance to go to school and finding their way home after their day. I look forward to staying put for awhile. Knowing our departure was what we needed to do, but coming back was just as important.

It’s Been A Year

*Photo from Seattle Art Museum last March, I don’t know the artist but I love the colors, the images and the peacefulness of this piece.

In early March of last year, I decided I was going to do more. I was going to get out more, explore more, find things to do on my own, I felt like I needed a change. Little did I know the Universe had other plans. I became a member of the Seattle Art Museum as my first step to get more art and activities in my life. I remember going to the museum early in March, being nervous with all the news of this new virus coming out. I debated whether to go or not, but finally decided, I wasn’t going to let this scare stop me.

I enjoyed the museum, tried not to touch anything, appreciated the fact that there were not too many people there and explored the various exhibits. That was my last trip to the museum.

This year has been the complete opposite of my mission in March, instead of getting out more, I have stayed in more than ever before. I started teaching yoga in my house, groceries ordered online delivered that day, friends and family meet up on screen instead of around the dinner table.

I have taken more online classes this year than ever before. Classes on memoir writing, facing fears in writing and being creative with writing and other mediums. I have taken classes on mindfulness, Ayurveda and yoga art history. I have joined writing groups with people I have never met in person, but share all the details of my life.

This year has closed us down to the world outside, but when I reflect back on my desire to do more in March of 2020, it seems that even from my home, behind my iPad, I was still able to connect, learn about the things I am interested in and continue to grow.

Showing Up

*Coloring by me. From my Mindfulness Coloring Book. Sometimes it’s important to stop and just color.

I couldn’t sleep, so I woke up early. My back aching and my mind racing. I did a longer than normal meditation, which was nice. Anyone that has ever moved or been in the middle of a transition, really anyone who is present in their life, knows how a mind can race. Thoughts, worrying, scenarios playing out in your head, back and forth it goes. Ironically, I am currently taking a Mindfulness class, last night was my second session. And while I can notice my thoughts and let them go, that doesn’t alway allow you to fall back asleep.

So, without much inspiration or sleep this is my post for today. When I started this blog it was all about accountability. Just showing up. So here I am, showing up, exhausted, overwhelmed and ready to be on the other side of this crazy transition. I will keep showing up.

Trust Yourself

*photo credit Andrew – These girls are my world, if I can teach them anything it is to trust themselves.

At the beginning of quarantine we were stuck inside baking, filling time with snacks and drinking wine every night to cope. I was stressed, anxious and on edge about the virus, my family’s health, about not getting enough movement, about eating too much and plenty of other things.

Around May I found Noom, believing the ads that psychology would help change my relationship to food. Honestly I do think it helped, a bit. In addition tracking your food, you get daily articles to read and reflect on your eating habits, you also get a support group and a coach (both were super helpful). But they also encourage you to weigh yourself everyday, I knew this was obsessive from the start. My favorite part of the program were the articles about mindset around eating and the challenges that encouraged taking a day off from tracking, eat what you want, and trust your body. As I continued, I realized this is what I needed: To Trust My Body.

Once I let go of Noom, I started to listen to the book Intuitive Eating, and I started following Caroline Dooner on Instagram, the author of The F*ck It Diet and am now listening to her book.

The main thing that these non-diets have in common is TRUST. Trust your body, trust your mind, trust you will not eat ALL THE COOKIES, trust that movement is meant to feel good. Trust your cravings. Trust that if what you are doing is causing stress, anxiety and pushes you to eat without control or restrict things you love, it might not be the right fit. Trust that your body will naturally fall into the right set weight for you and that the number on the scale is irrelevant (this is really hard for me – I should really just throw the damn scale out…baby steps)

I am realizing that decades of food habits and diet culture mentality is engrained in me. And I understand that reading a few books is not going to change all these habits overnight. But I am also introducing new tools that help me TRUST my choices and my body, listening to my cravings (not fighting them) and believing that I am good enough exactly as I am, this is the right path. This is the most important lesson, guidance, and knowledge I want to give my daughters.

Life is too short to be on a diet or worry about what we are eating. Food is nourishment and should be enjoyable, it can be a wonderful treat and a beautiful way to create and share with people you love, I never want to punish myself for what I ate or restrict something that I enjoy.

I recommend these books to anyone looking to get off the diet roller coaster and change their relationship with food. But understand, it will take time, I am in it too, so please reach out if you need support.

*Please note: This post is not intended as medical advise. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or counselor. If you have or think you have an eating disorder or in need of help around your eating behaviors please contact a professional. This is just one mom/yoga instructor/women’s opinion on diet, MY body and my relationship with food.

What We’re Eating This Week…

*Photo credit (top) http://www.wanderingwagars.com (bottom) me – Monday’s dinner – Icelandic Baked Fish

Our family has taken on an self-created, International Food Challenge. It all started because my oldest daughter, Siena, has become a bit worn out by her staple quarantine lunch which has been white rice with an egg, soy sauce, sesame oil and whatever greens we might have on hand, onions, broccoli, bok choy. This is a good lunch and fills her up, but she came to me last week and said she wanted to branch out with her food choices.

So, last week we came up with a list of fifty countries, regions or cuisines spanning across the globe, then she built a handy wheel that we can virtually spin (or tap) on her phone. We press the button, the wheel spins and then one of the countries or cuisines pops up. We decided we would do two a week and see what type of meals we could come up with.

Sunday morning, before I started to plan groceries and meals for the week we sat around looking at the phone and “spun” the wheel. First stop – Iceland, next stop – Vietnam.

The next search was for Icelandic foods on Pinterest and recipes for Pho and Bah Min sandwiches. Our menu this week will now include; Icelandic Baked Fish, Fiskisupa: Icelandic Fish Soup, then switching gears to Vietnamese Pho (something like this) and then some Bah Minh Sandwiches (vegetarian for Siena).

The remaining nights of the week we will either order take out or eat left overs. Making dinner each night of the week is a challenge enough, but I am excited my daughter wants to try new things, so I am up for it. Seems like a great way to bring awareness to cultures and foods that are new to us, as well as learning where our food is coming from. I was surprised and excited the cod in my freezer was already from Iceland.

If you have any recipe suggestions from your favorite cuisine please let me know, I am sure it’s on the wheel and it will eventually pop up!