Wednesday, April 15, 2015

CROCK POT APPLE CRISP: GOOD ENOUGH FOR BREAKFAST OR DESSERT!



Today I spent the larger portion of my day under a big blue sky and ended lunch with this crisp - warm and fresh, just like the sun. There is nothing like meditating on a paddleboard, walking in freshly greened grass, digging in dark, rich dirt, or swinging as high as you can for no other reason than the simple joy it brings. Throw these ingredients in the Crockpot [prep takes all of 10 minutes] and get yourself outdoors!


[THE RECIPE]

Fruit Filling

6 c. blueberries [frozen or fresh] or fruit of choice
1 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
1 T. arrowroot or tapioca starch
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 T. coconut sugar

Crisp Topping

2 1/2 c. old fashion rolled gluten free oats
1 1/2 c. oat flour
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. coconut oil
1 c. maple syrup or raw honey
optional additions: chopped nuts, dried fruit, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom

Mix fruit filling ingredients together in 6 quart or larger Crock Pot.

In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine oats, oat flour, cardamom, ginger, and any optional additions you choose. In a small saucepan melt coconut oil, sea salt and sweetener of choice over low heat. Once the oil is completely melted, pour into oat mixture and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Spread this crisp topping over the blueberry mixture in the Crock Pot.

Cover and cook on high for two hours or low for 4 hours or until blueberries are very tender and bubbling. Turn off the heat and remove the cover. Let the crisp cool in the Crock Pot for 30 minutes or until the topping has hardened just a touch.

Serve alone or with whipped topping / ice cream of choice and enjoy!



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

[MEAT]ING OUR BODIES WHERE THEY'RE AT + SPRING QUINOA SALAD WITH LAMB MEATBALLS

About this time two years ago, my body started poking at me, giving gentle nudges and indications that something wasn't quite right. I was aware of the issues but at the time in survival mode - processing through the aftermath of a house fire, a baby who wouldn't sleep more than 3 hours each night, and a number of other things my family found ourselves in the middle of. Looking back on it now I easily see the progression, but in the moment my life was lived minute by minute. Over that year things very quickly spiraled downward and my body simply stopped accepting the foods I was eating regularly. I knew there was a problem, yet the healing tools in my arsenal and the very minimal energy I had in the storehouse just wasn't enough. At some point I realized this was more than I could manage on my own. Both conventional and functional medical systems were stumped. Tests were run, procedures done, nothing found. Frustration and desperation overload.

Eventually I was existing on quinoa and a small handful of vegetables my body could digest. I needed more. Clearly.

I had eaten meat-free for a number of years beginning in college. I felt good and didn't crave meat so I figured, hey!, this must be my groove. What I neglected to consider is that my body didn't have one mode - a setting I could figure out, click into, and cruise on throughout life. I understand now my body changes from day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year, season to season. I consistently hear [and say] as a parent everything is a phase - nothing lasts forever. It's true for parenthood, for our bodies, and for life.

While I was pregnant with my first child my body screamed for burgers and bacon and cheese. Rather than finding the best version of these I could, I quieted the voice with what I assumed to be "healthier" choices. When my second came around that same voice upped the volume yet my stubbornness and head knowledge took over, convincing me once again this inner voice was somehow incorrect. It couldn't really be asking me to eat meat, right?

Although both babies were healthy [so much gratitude for this!], I came away exhausted, depleted, and malnourished. My body stopped receiving the nutrients from the food I was feeding it and I was feeling every bit of the effect.

And so I started eating meat. There are oodles of books on animal cruelty and the detriment of eating meat with extremely convincing scientific studies. I don't doubt the validity in this way of thought and I do believe as a nation we eat far too much tragically raised animal products on a regular basis. What I do doubt is that a meat-free way of eating is feasible for all. The Ayurvedic tradition uses meat as medicine and I love this. I love that meat holds a respected place in this system which also values animal rights, care, and protection. 

So I ate - minimally at first but then with a vengeance. Let me make this very clear, meat wasn't the only thing that healed my body. Healing took a lot of work on many levels and continues to do so. I have been so blessed by the skillfulness, kindness and knowledge of a naturopath, body/energy worker, and acupuncturist and most of my healing is a direct result of the work I've done with each. But meat did act as a catalyst. Eating meat taught me grace, humility, and a different form of ahimsa [non-harming] than I had been practicing. 

And it gave me hope. Something I desperately needed at that time.

These days, meat is still a part of my diet but it plays a far less prominent role. I rely more on gelatin and bone broth and have been able to slowly bring back some of my favorite meat-free staples. My forage into consuming animals has shown me balance and perspective are two things worth making friends with and practicing as much as possible. It's not easy, especially that perspective thing, but it provides the ability to understand situations in a way tunnel-vision simply doesn't allow.

Most importantly I've learned it takes a community. It takes a group of people to help each of us live well, heal well, and offer us the love and grace to learn the tough, uncomfortable lessons of life.

My hope is that this part of my story encourages you in yours and extends permission to explore releasing the areas of life you grasp so tightly. Many blessings.



[THE RECIPE]
Recipe adapted from this Killer Quinoa Salad Recipe

2 c. quinoa
4 c. cold water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
zest and juice of one lemon
2 T. raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
sea salt + freshly ground pepper
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, cut into very thin slices
5 - 6 small garlic gloves or 3 large cloves, cut into very thin slices
1 bunch of kale cut into very thin ribbon-like strips
2 c. or one 15-ounce can of cooked garbanzo beans
2 fresh green onions, cut into thin slices
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1/3 c. sliced almonds, lightly browned or toasted

Begin by warming 2 tablespoons of olive oil and onions in a medium size skillet over medium-low heat. Once the onions begin to sizzle, reduce the heat to low. Carmelizing the onions will take about 45 minutes so it's important to begin with this. Occasionally stir the onions to prevent them from getting too brown. At about the 30 minute mark, add the slivered garlic to the onions. Continue to stir occasionally until the onions are a deep golden color and very soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

While the onions cooks, place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Put the rinsed quinoa into a medium size pot and add water and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Bring the water to boil, reduce the heat low, and cover. Cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed [about 15 minutes]. Once the water has been absorbed, turn off the heat and remove the lid. gently fluff the quinoa in the pot with a fork every 10 minutes or so until the quinoa has cooled to room temperature. If you're short on time simply spread the cooked quinoa out onto a couple rimmed baking pans to cool.

While the onions and quinoa are cooking, mix the lemon juice, lemon zest, apple cider vinegar, cumin, coriander, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper in a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid . Secure the lid tightly and shake for 30 seconds. Place dressing in refrigerator.

Place 2 T. olive oil and the cut kale into a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the kale becomes soft and turns a bright green color. Add the garbanzo beans, saute for 1 minute or just enough to warm, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once the onions, kale and quinoa have cooled to room temperature, place the quinoa, onions, kale and garbanzo beans in a large glass bowl. Add green onions, cranberries, and slivered almonds [if using] and gently stir to combine. Drizzle the entire salad with dressing and carefully stir well to combine.

Serve immediately or refrigerate. Salad will keep for 1 week or you can freeze to enjoy later.



[LAMB MEATBALLS]
Makes approximately 15 meatballs

A special note: In eating meat, I think it's extremely important to mention my family and I try hard to support our local farmers who raise animals in a respectful, loving way. We bless the animals blessing us and we've chosen not to consume the meat of any animal who has suffered through a heartbreaking life. We believe eating meat is both a privilege and a responsibility - something to be taken seriously and done with great care. This can be done by choosing local, organic, pasture-raised meats, eggs, and dairy without added chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics. Better yet, make a visit to the farm you purchase your meat from. See how they raise the animals and get a sense of the heart of the farmer. You may just land yourself a friend in the process. 

1 lb. organic, pasture-raised ground lamb
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped [if using dry cumin and coriander] OR fresh parsley, finely             chopped [if using dry parsley and oregano]
1 tsp. each cumin and coriander OR parsley and oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-size glass bowl and mix well using a spoon or your hands. Form into small meatballs and place in a glass baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 30 - 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place meat balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the inside of the meatballs are no longer pink.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

[HERB YOGURT SAUCE]

1 c. plain Greek yogurt or unsweetened dairy-free yogurt of choice
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 c. fresh cilantro or dill, chopped finely
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a glass bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust as you need. Cover with a secure fitting lid and refrigerate for 30 - 60 minutes or make the night before.






Friday, April 3, 2015

CARDAMOM-SPICED WARM BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE

Today I had a serious hankering for a smoothie, a treat I haven't enjoyed in quite some time. Something in me was begging for smooth and creamy yet light. Sweet with a little tang. Yet in the same moment I wanted that thing to be nourishingly warm. Spring has only recently arrived at my doorstep and on this cool, overcast April day my body was beginning to transition into the new season yet the winter chill hadn't completely passed.

I spent the few precious minutes I have while my kids rest fully absorbed in a new cookbook that happened upon my doorstep this morning. Truly inspired, I headed into the kitchen for a scavenger hunt and a little play time all in an effort to fulfill my body's gentle demand. My pantry didn't disappoint and from there I give you this recipe: creamy, warm, sweet and tangy, with a hint of the pulsing energy so clearly felt outside my door.

[A BIT ABOUT POLLEN, SANG, AND MACA]

If you're unfamiliar with bee pollen, I hope you give it a chance. It's rich in antioxidants, contains almost every nutrient the body needs to survive, has an impressive protein content, and a subtle floral taste.

Ginseng or "sang" is commonly used as a preventative herb and balancing tonic that really aids the entire body. Asian ginseng builds heat in the body [great for fall - early spring] while American ginseng has a cooling effect [good for summer]. Ginseng can be very restorative if used over a long period of time. That being said, wild American ginseng is considered an at risk species so it's really important to find organically cultivated or woods-grown ginseng.  

Maca is a wonderful source of minerals, essential fatty acids, sterols, fats, fiber, carbs, protein, and amino acids. I think it's sort of malty in flavor making it a no-brainer addition to smoothies.

[THE RECIPE]
Serves 2

1 c. frozen blueberries
1 c. milk of choice
1 c. apple, pear, or pineapple juice
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T. maple syrup
pinch cardamom
1/2 avocado
1 T. extra virgin coconut oil
1 tsp. maca powder
1 tsp. bee pollen
1/2 tsp. ginseng powder

Combine blueberries, milk, juice, lemon juice, syrup, and cardamom in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until blueberries are soft and liquid is warm.

While the blueberries are heating, place avocado, oil, powders, and pollen in a blender.

Pour warm blueberries with liquid into the blender and blend on high until very smooth.

Serve immediately.

Friday, March 27, 2015

RASPBERRY-ORANGE CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Today I thought I would balance my last post with something delicious in a much less virtuous, "my brain hasn't disintegrated into kale and weird green stuff" way.

I've been writing a lot about balance and finding the happy medium between many extremes: in health, time, family, parenting, mind talk, body talk, soul talk and the multitude of other areas in each of our lives where it can seem we walk a tight rope. There is so much noise about diets, parenting styles, yoga and meditation styles, exercise, supplements, vaccines, religious beliefs, political stances and a number of controversial issues we are faced with today. In fact, it's almost impossible to scroll through Facebook or click on a news website without seeing something that ignites anxiety, fear, a sense of shame or failure, and anger.

Years ago I decided to stop watching the news on a regular basis. Sure, I was being educated on the happenings of the world but at the same time I was being influenced by a station's take on a certain situation and it was almost always pumped up with verbiage and adrenaline in an effort to increase my attention span and emotional reaction. Unfortunately, it's an effective technique. I was confused by conflicting stories and increasingly frustrated with the amount of fear I was being traumatized by. So I turned it off. And I really never looked back.

About a year ago, I realized the health world was quickly having the same effect on my mental and physical health. I had turned down the noise of one voice only to allow another to take over. Instead of worrying about national safety, global warming, and the local crime, I had taken to wringing my hands over supplementation, vaccines, and signs of disease.

Now, a little older and a teensy bit wiser, I'm learning to turn this off too. But this time I'm filling the quiet with things that my soul and open my heart. I listen to music that speaks of joy and beauty and healing. I read books that do the same. I meditate. I play outside. I giggle with my girls. I worry much less about being a good parent and have faith that I am. I trust the people in my life to hold me accountable to the things they know I value and am trying to do less of that myself. I'm working at walking away from judgement of myself and others and walking towards compassion.

And I eat this pudding. Not all the time but as a delicious and special reminder that life, a good and beautiful and balanced life, holds a little of everything: discipline and spontaneity, a bit of fear and a lot of joy, blessing in many forms, laughter and grief, health and indulgence, questions and faith, confusion and understanding, humanness and holy. Without one we truly can't enjoy or learn from the other.

The amazing thing is, and the blessing in it all, all of these can be teachers, guiding us towards wisdom and grace.

[BREATHING BEFORE EATING]

A quick note about breathing before I get to the recipe.

One of the practices I've come to fully embrace is breathing before a meal. I used to rush through a prayer, usually as a quick "check it off the list, let's eat!" routine. Then I sat around our friends' table, friends whom I respect and trust, and had an honest conversation about praying before meals and why we do it. They were in the process of working through a faith established for them as children, questioning what they had been spoon-fed for years. So far they've landed on holding faith and questions in an open palm and tapping forks or spoons in gratitude for the meal. I loved it. And I began to ask questions too.

Then recently, a friend I've been seeing for energy and bodywork mentioned they breathe as a family before their meals in an effort to center their minds and prepare their bodies for the food they're about to eat. I loved this as well.

Here's the thing about being vulnerable about the questions we ask - it gives others the freedom to do so as well and put a name to the doubts we hold.

And so we've moved our mealtime routine in a direction that finds us where we are. We're working at remembering to take three deep, intentional breaths before our meals as a way of acknowledging our food and breath and everything around us as a holy gift. We're teaching our girls to honor our bodies with the food we eat by eating as if we mean to eat. As if it's worth paying attention to. As if each meal is special. And sometimes with words, mostly with our breath, we say thank you - thank you to the one who created us, thank you for each person around the table, thank you for our food, thank you for this breath.

[THE RECIPE]

5 oz. dark chocolate chips
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. frozen raspberries [or berry / fruit of choice]
1 13.5-ounce can regular coconut milk
1/2 c. coconut butter
1/2 - 3/4 c. honey
1/2 - 1 tsp. orange flavor [or flavor of choice]
1/2 tsp. sea salt
appx. 7 - 8 small, 4-ounce glass jars with tight fitting lids

Optional additions: chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, toasted coconut, splash of Amaretto or almond extract.

Place raspberries in a medium size saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until very soft [appx. 10 minutes], stirring occasionally. Pour the soft rasberries through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Using a wooden or metal spoon, gently press the raspberries into the strainer to extract as much as the juice as possible from the seeds. Compost or discard the seeds.

If seeds remain in the pan, rinse out the pan used to heat the raspberries. Return the strained raspberries to the pot and add remaining ingredients.

Warm over medium-low heat until all of the ingredients are melted and the consistency is very smooth. Remove from heat and pour into small glass jars. Secure lids tightly onto the jars and place in the refrigerator for 2 - 4 hours or freezer for 1 - 2 hours or until the consistency is just firm.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.











Wednesday, March 25, 2015

GREEN MILK WITH MORINGA

A really close friend of mine has recently entered into my [not so normal] health world. The other day I was sitting with her and another close friend of ours talking about increasing potassium - you know, like you do. We practically pummeled her with ideas ranging from molasses to coconut sugar to chlorophyll. Now the weak of heart would bail upon hearing chlorophyll but my friend gave it a go after we assured her it really wasn't so bad.

The next time I saw her she looked me straight in the eye and asked what the hell I had just told her to drink.

Ummmmm.

Lucky for me she's both forgiving and has a fantastic sense of humor. Our friendship remains in tact.

However, it did cause me to pause for a second and consider the words that so easily fly out of my mouth.

Chlorophyll - it tastes great!

Molasses in hot water - sure, you'll begin to crave it!

Beet sauerkraut - I eat it all the time!

Apple cider vinegar in water - first thing in the morning, baby!

I now see sentences like these are just not normal. It's taken me years to detox my body of the many artificial flavors and ingredients so beautifully disguised as food and rewrite what I consider delicious. And let me tell you, I didn't start with chorophyll or molasses or a good number of things now kept as staples in my pantry and fridge.

My point? It's a journey. A long one and it's so easy to forget how long when these things finally click from crazy and weird and flat out disgusting to normal, even tasty.

The most important thing is to just stick with it. Maybe it's adding more local, organic veggies to your diet. Maybe it's a piece of fruit in place of candy. Maybe it's taking a shot of chlorophyll and cursing my name for the next couple days. Whatever it is, stick with it and keep going because it will get better. Maybe not tomorrow or next week or even next year but at some point something will click deep within you and crazy might just seem, well, normal.

[A MOMENT FOR MORINGA]

I thought, while we're on the topic of not-so-normal, I'd give a shout out to the Moringa Tree. I was introduced to moringa a while ago by some friends of mine who support ECHO, a truly amazing non-profit farm based in Florida. More recently, I came across moringa while researching another non-profit and just a bit ago stumbled across the powder in my local health foods store. So, here we are.

Moringa has long been dubbed "the miracle tree". My tendency is to take claims like this as slick advertising and immediately revert to skeptic mode, sure I'm being duped.

But.

But then I read that this particular tree, and all it's parts, is being used to resolve a host of issues in undeveloped countries crippled by disease, malnutrition, economic instability, and environmental degradation. And it's also packed with a loaded punch of nutrition [potassium, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc] while boasting all the essential amino acids necessary to call it a complete protein. And it's safe for general use. Seriously?! 

I've run out of reasons not to add it to my repertoire of weird, amazingly good for me, will take some getting used to, foods.

You can read more about moringa here and here, and I really, really hope you do.

So, a drink. Moringa has a sort of earthy, grassy taste. I've chosen to make this a simple, no-fuss green milk I can easily whip up at any point in the day. However, if this health-stuff is new to you [and your taste buds], add a bit of cacao or cocoa, an avocado or frozen banana for thickness, some fruit, or a little ice to make this "medicine" go down a little smoother.

[THE RECIPE]

2 c. nut or seed or milk of choice
2 tsp. morning leaf powder [you can find here or here or check out your local health foods store]
2 - 3 tsp. pure maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
small pinch of raw stevia leaf powder [optional]

Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high for thirty seconds or until combined. Serve immediately as is or over ice. A note about ice: I tend to not use ice as it can reduce digestion and cool the body too much however, sometimes it can make drinks more palatable.
 


Friday, March 20, 2015

SPRING FIRST LAYERED JELL-O GUMMIES

Happy Spring First!

What, might you ask, is Spring First?

Well, it's the first day of spring of course! And the perfect day to celebrate.

In our home, my girls look for any and every reason to have a party, maybe receive some presents, and celebrate all day long. We make a big deal of absolutely every holiday and throw in a couple made up ones as well.

Today is such day. After giving a nod to Franklin the Turtle [from whom we were inspired], we got right down to the business of par-ttt-yyyy-ing!

Waffles? Check. Potatoes? Check. Bubbles? Check. Chalk? Check. Layered spring-inspired Jell-O? Check. Grandparents? Check and check. And this only takes us to 11am. The day sort of unfolds as it will as we follow our present desires and dreams for what this holiday should hold. No planning. No fuss.

Our only rules?

Simple, smiles, and sunshine [the sunshine being negotiable].

Here's the thing about made up holidays: they give the present a special magic and adventure. A normal day becomes anything but normal, yet it's the normalcy that makes it so wonderful.

So take a day, make it a holiday, and celebrate like you really, really mean it. Do whatever comes to mind and don't think about anything else. Go outside and play like a child or drive to the beach or find some swings.

Whatever you do, smile because you're making normal so very beautiful.

Happy Spring First everyone!

[THE RECIPE]

Note: We like our jell-o a little on the tart side but if you prefer sweet [for picky eaters this may be helpful], feel free to add maple syrup or honey as desired.

To begin, prepare an 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish by rubbing a thin coat of coconut oil along the entire inside of the pan to grease. Set aside.

I warm all of the layers in separate pans at the same time prior to pouring into the baking dish but it also works to get the first two layers prepared, pour one into the pan to chill, and start working on the third and fourth layers.

If you don't have the fruit I've listed on hand, simply sub in any other fruits. Mango, and blackberries, strawberries all work well. The only fruit to avoid is pineapple as it reacts with the gelatin resulting in mush.

First Layer:

2 c. frozen blueberries
1/2 c. cranberry juice
1/2 freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch sea salt
maple syrup [optional], to taste
7 T. gelatin powder

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, combine berries, juice, lemon juice, salt, and syrup if using. Cook until warm and berries are have soften just a bit. Turn off heat and pour berry mixture into a blender. Blend on low. While the blender is running, slowly add gelatin powder. Replace the blender top and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Pour mixture into the prepared 8 x 8 inch baking dish and place in the freezer for about 10 - 15 minutes or until just firm but not hard.

Second Layer:

1 c. Tigernut or coconut milk
1 T. vanilla extract
3 - 4 T. maple syrup
1/2 - 1 T. lucuma powder [optional, this adds a malt-like flavor]
pinch sea salt

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, combine milk, vanilla, lucuma powder, salt, and syrup. Cook to warm. Turn off heat and pour mixture into a blender. Blend on low. While the blender is running, slowly add gelatin powder. Replace the blender top and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Pour mixture evenly over the first layer and return to the freezer for about 10 - 15 minutes or until just firm but not hard.

Third Layer:

2 c. frozen raspberries
1/2 c. pear juice
maple syrup [optional], to taste
7 T. gelatin powder

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, combine berries, juice, and syrup if using. Cook until warm and berries are have soften just a bit. Turn off heat and pour berry mixture into a blender. Blend on low. If you'd like to remove the seeds, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer using a spoon to gently push it through. Rinse out the blender and return the raspberry puree to the blender. While the blender is running, slowly add gelatin powder. Replace the blender top and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Pour mixture over the first two layers and return to the freezer for about 10 - 15 minutes or until just firm but not hard.

Fourth Layer:

2 c. frozen apricots
1/2 c. apricot juice
maple syrup [optional], to taste
7 T. gelatin powder

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, combine apricots, juice, and syrup if using. Cook until warm and apricots are have soften just a bit. Turn off heat and pour apricot mixture into a blender. Blend on low. While the blender is running, slowly add gelatin powder. Replace the blender top and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Pour mixture over the first three layers and either return to the freezer to firm completely [about 20 minutes] or place in the refrigerator for 1 - 2 hours.

When the jell-o is completely firm, cut it into small squares using a sharp knife. Gently pull from the pan and tear apart where needed. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the refrigerator for 1 - 2 weeks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

RELEASING ROUTINE


Prior to let's say January 1, my days were defined by routine. I had my morning routines, my afternoon routines, and my evening routines. I had my food routines and bedtime routines and exercise routines. It seemed to be working really well until I began to see [and feel] the cracks. I started noticing if one of those little pieces [like not making the bed first thing in the morning] was off, I struggled with balance the rest of the day. I was living under the illusion I could somehow create perfect and then maintain it day in and day out. My life was organized and predictable and comfortable and safe and, to be honest, for the most part I really liked it that way. But those cracks in my plans began to widen and show. My body started screaming at me in ways I couldn't understand or fix on my own. My anxiety level was at an all time high and emotions on the proverbial roller coaster. I'm certain the people closest to me shouldered a good chunk of this burden, feeling the pressure to live up to my imaginary standards. What I thought was complete control was anything but and it was bleeding into every bit of my world. I started asking if maybe there was a more whole way to live - a way not racked with as many self-inflicted demands and rules.

So, of course, I hopped on my pendulum and swung in the opposite direction.

Around the coming of the new year I decided maybe it was time to try on a new look for the season. I allowed myself to sink into winter with reckless abandon [or what felt reckless to me]. What I mean is I threw out many of my routines, slept in and stayed up late, spent a lot of time cuddling in the morning with my kids, and sometimes stayed in jammies until late into the afternoon. I half-heartedly meal planned, mostly relying on last minute forages through the refrigerator, and served my kids chips with hummus and guacamole sided by some raw veggies for a good number of lunches. Sometimes we ate popcorn with dinner or watched a movie. I went to bed with the house a mess, left dishes on the counter until morning, permitted much to much screen time, and allowed the laundry to pile up to enormous proportions.

Here's what this stint in the carefree life taught me:

It's as amazing and as horrifying as it sounds. 

What I found is I wasn't truly me in either scenario. Being driven by routine robbed me of the opportunity to feel spontaneous and placed a burden on me to live up to my own contrived expectations. And that way of life was making by body, mind and soul sick.

On the other hand, a life without routine seemed horribly imbalanced to me. Without any sort of expectation it was much to easy to fall into mediocrity, sort of fumbling through the day. I felt scattered, untethered, and unprepared which zapped me of energy in a way I hadn't expected. I relished the guilt-free space to do nothing, to take naps when I was tired, to plan less and live in spontaneity a bit more. But I also found that to be the best me I needed both and I had to find a way to walk the line between rigidity and carelessness.

The problem [blessing?] is, there isn't a map on how to walk this path of balance. It's fraught with mistakes and pain and over-extending. Anxiety and fear and exhaustion and complete confusion. At the same time this road is lined with so much grace and humility, forgiveness and freedom and I've found it to be truly the only way to compassion and wisdom.

But that's the work of life isn't it? To enter into the core of who we are, set dynamite to what needs to go, dig through the rubble, rebuild where necessary, and let that self shine.

And so these days I'm re-establishing my morning routine of a little yoga and energy work to shake me from my sleep and encourage me into my day. Sometimes I make the bed and other days I don't. My kids dress themselves as part of their own creative expression and I celebrate that creativity. If we're up late I sleep in and look forward to being woken by two little bodies crawling into my bed for some morning snuggles. Other days I set my alarm and embrace the quiet hours of the early morning. I meal plan but hold it loosely, understanding that at any moment the day may interrupt these plans. We still have popcorn with dinner from time to time and I can't seem to take back the hummus + guacamole + chips for lunch, although it's enjoyed far less often. I make some lists but not as many. I try to meditate daily as my soul is so full when I do. I'm slowly learning to release perfect in an effort to be fully present [as my friend Jen will say]. My body is healing and my soul finding peace. The laundry still piles up and sits for days and I continue to struggle with when to trump work with play. But I'm fumbling through, learning as I go.

And now, on most days, life feels balanced and it's an amazing thing to sit in the freedom and strength of facing and letting go of the things I held onto most desperately.

May you be empowered to create routines where you need them and release rigidity where is necessary. May you find joy in the simple, power in the struggle, and have the courage to walk a road that may be foreign but trust the journey anyway. May you travel deeply inward in order to shine outward. 

And may you leave the bed unmade from time to time.