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self care

Taking Care of Your Veggies and Yourself

By October 19, 2014 Fall, greens, nurturing, practice, self care, taking care of veggies

Saturday I went to the farmers’ market. I was hoping to find a variety of autumn vegetables, and I certainly got what I had hoped for. The tables were loaded with lots of root vegetables: carrots, beets, kohlrabi, breakfast radishes, daikon radishes, and my personal favorite – Japanese salad (or hakeuri) turnips. There was quite the bounty of greens as well. It was a greens lover’s dream come true – a wide variety of lettuces, lacinato kale, red Russian kale, collards, escarole, tatsoi, mustard greens, cabbages, spinach and arugula.

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I have a “thing” for the roots, radishes, kale, and other hearty greens that can be found at the farmers’ market this time of year. The quality of the greens you will find at the market most often surpasses the produce you can buy at grocery stores.

Your greens will have a much longer shelf life when you buy what is locally grown. The less “travel time” there is from farm to market, the greater the amount of enzymes and nutrients the food will retain. And the healthier it is for our bodies.

Here’s a tip for keeping your root vegetables and greens livelier longer. I learned this technique while working in the produce department of a little neighborhood gem: The Turnip Truck natural market. Most larger grocers also use this method to keep their produce livelier and looking good for their customers.

The process is called hydrating. You are basically giving your vegetables a good drink of water. It’s amazing what this does for them. Let’s begin with the roots – if your root vegetables get soft, simply put them in a sink or bowl of lukewarm water. Allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes or until you feel them get firmer to your touch. Then you can drain the water off and either use the vegetables immediately for a recipe or put them back into the crisper in your refrigerator. If you buy a lot of carrots (or other roots) at once, but don’t use them that often, you can repeat this hydrating process as many times as you like.

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For the greens and lettuces, fill the sink or a large bowl about 2/3 full of lukewarm water. Next, trim the very bottom stem off of the lettuce head with a paring knife. If you have a bunch of greens like kale or collards, trim the stems off by ¼ inch. Immerse the lettuce or greens in the water. If you plan to use the greens right away, you can make the water a little colder. This will make a lettuce like romaine a little crisper right before eating it in a salad. Make sure not to put the vegetables into extremely cold water, because this shocks the plant. Soaking the lettuce or greens for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour and a half will liven them up really nicely.

When you take the lettuce or greens out of the water, you can simply shake off the excess water and return them to your fridge, or put them into your favorite salad recipe. If I am going to put lettuce or greens back into the fridge, I wrap paper towels around them to absorb some of the excess water and to keep my other veggies dry.

The hydrating process can help extend the life of your veggies and give them a good cleaning at the same time! In addition to the roots and greens, you can hydrate green onions, potatoes, fennel, and celery. However, I do not recommend this process for squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, or eggplants.

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Enjoy the fall harvest! If you haven’t tried it yet, check out the farmers’ market bounty. You might be surprised how much you like it!

Lesson: The energy and care that we put into our lives is what we get in return. Taking time to care for our veggies and ourselves gives a beautiful return on our investments. What are you going to do to care for yourself this week? 

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A Beautiful Equation – The Melding of Skill and Love

By October 13, 2014 creativity, Durham, Fall, feeding ourselves, living a joyful life, nurturing, personal growth, pleasure, practice, self care, slowing down, Travel

Wow! Life has been busy and full of adventure. How about for you guys?

I had a wonderful week at the beach with friends mid-September. I took naps. I read fiction. I danced. I fished. I allowed myself to lose track of time. I nurtured myself and friendships with meaningful people in my life. I enjoyed the sun, the sand, and the water.

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That time re-ignited my intention to only put my energy into avenues and projects that feed my soul. I came back from that trip with a new sense of what I am going to be doing next. I will keep you posted on these adventures.

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I returned from vacation with my feet hitting the ground and running. I participated in and planned two different dinners for an annual fundraiser for Durham Central Park called Meals from the Market. I played a more of a hands-on role at a dinner at the historic Kress Building in downtown Durham with hosts Amanda Smith, Marybeth Dugan, and Kenny Dalsheimer. We could not have imagined a more picture-perfect evening!

These guests are enjoying a glass of Friulano, one of my favorite Italian white wines.

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I had the pleasure of working with a close friend and talented chef, Amanda Orser (pictured below on the right). This was mine and Amanda’s first public expression of melding our passions  and skill as a team. We have enjoyed each other’s company in the kitchen for as long as we have known each other.

We plan to facilitate many meals for others in the near future. If you know anyone need of a party, we are your gals. Amanda does the savory cooking, and I enjoy doing the wine pairing and making desserts. I was thrilled to have some of my Pizzeria Toro colleagues, including the lovely Nicky Owens (pictured below on the left), assist in making our service seamless from beginning to end.

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From fundraising to family- I just returned from a long weekend in San Antonio, Texas. I flew out to visit my family. I have a new niece, Rosalie, who just turned six weeks old. I went give her a loving welcome to this world and share some quality time with the rest of my family.

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I enjoyed time in the kitchen with my niece, Selena. We roasted okra that we found at the Pearl Farmer’s Market in downtown San Antonio.

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My mom flew back to North Carolina with me. She will be staying with me for a few weeks. Over this last weekend, we enjoyed a nice balance of cooking, connecting, and relaxing. I am looking forward to spending some time in the kitchen with her. She likes to bake as much as I do. I see some apple pie in our future. It is apple season here in North Carolina. Tonight I made sorghum glazed apples for dinner. They were the epitome of seasonal fare!

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I have another dinner event coming up this week. I am going to make some sorghum and cinnamon ice cream to serve with a pumpkin shortcake. I am excited and nervous to pull off a dessert that I have never made before. What always works in these situations is trusting my instincts and experience. It always turns out great! I was baking long before I could drive a car. I see an opportunity to share a recipe in the future.

With as full as my plate had been over the last month, I am as content with my life as I have ever been. I am putting my energy into projects that I truly enjoy. I am moving into the space of work becoming play. Who wants more of that? All hands raised, please!

Lesson: I am continuing to focus on my goal of only putting my energy into what feeds me – keeping in mind that I want to nurture the expansion of my talents and gifts. I am stretching myself all along the way. Isn’t that what this journey is about? What are you doing to feed yourself these days, even if it’s one little thing (that really is a big thing)?

 

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Lighten Up and Let Go: Flutter Breath

By September 10, 2014 feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, having flexibility, inspired by others, living a joyful life, personal growth, pleasure, practice, self care, silliness

I have been in a pretty serious and focused space over the last few weeks. I have been craving avenues to express silliness. Who would have thought that an expression of silly would be found in my yoga practice?

I was reminded how invigorating it is to be silly this evening in my yoga class when the instructor guided the class through a series of breaths. The final breath in the series was what is called the “flutter breath.”

I found a delightful snippet about fluttering on a blog about breathing and yoga. I found this image on there too! I am not sure who to give credit to, but I love it!

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Here’s what Diane Neuman, author of Breathing Deep Exercises, had to say about fluttering: 

Fluttering is an effective way (albeit silly) to dump some tension from your face. Face muscles are very small, very complicated and, therefore, a bit difficult to unknot.

Considering all the personal and professional challenges that get dumped on you during the day, it is no wonder that you squint, grimace, clench your jaws, wrinkle your forehead, tense your tongue and jut your head forward! Small face muscles eat up an enormous amount of energy. A tense face messes with your breathing and that messes with your speaking and that messes with your accomplishments.

We will stray briefly from the preferred nose-breathing. Keep any mouth-breathing brief and stop for water if you begin to feel dry.

Keep your mouth closed with lips and jaw muscles completely relaxed. Your lips will be parted slightly only by the escaping exhalation.

1. Breathe in through your nose. Softly blow out each exhalation through your relaxed lips until they flutter. Wet your lips when necessary. Horses and babies make this same sound.

2. Inhale slowly through your nose and breathe out through your “flutter.” Gently squeeze out as much air as possible. The gentle vibration will gradually melt away tension from your face and jaws.

Lesson: I am working on letting go of my serious approach to a number of things in my life. I am sending soulful gratitude to Jennie Dickson at Durham Yoga Company for facilitating the flutter breath in class tonight! I have learned a new strategy to be silly on the mat and in life. I can do it anywhere! 

What strategies do you have to allow some silliness in your life? What might happen if you allow yourself to be silly in unexpected places? 

 

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A Short and Sweet Reminder of How Important You Are

By August 24, 2014 feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, living a joyful life, nurturing, personal growth, practice, self care, slowing down

I could give you a post about a recent trip, making refreshing beverages for hot summer days, or how to preserve the last of summer vegetables.

Instead, I am keeping this post short, sweet, and to the point.

Who knew I was capable of that?

I am sending a loving nudge and a reminder to you of how important you are.

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Self care and nurturing are expressions of loving ourselves.

Learning to love ourselves is the most important work that we will do in our lives.

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Lesson: We are worthy of being a priority in our own lives. I know that the world is busy. There is a lot going on right now -inside and outside of us.

What can you do to treat yourself extra special this week?

How can you plant some seeds to keep you in the forefront of importance in your life? 

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My o ya Experience

By July 21, 2014 attention to detail, creativity, feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, living a joyful life, nurturing, personal growth, pleasure, practice, self care, so much to learn, Travel

First, I want to extend my apologies to anyone who was looking for my post from Loving Food and Life in their inbox this last Monday. I unexpectedly did not have Internet access that was strong enough to handle posting to my site. I decided to chill out about it. Unexpected things happen. I was on a magnificent island at the time. What else was I to do?

I have at least 20 tales to tell you about the last month of my life. I have been making some leaps. I have been having a blast. I have been on vacation. I have been laughing or crying tears of joy depending on the moment. I have been appreciating these human-ly emotions that I have been feeling.

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This post is about exhibiting one of the finest meals of my life (so far). What lands it on the list of the finest? For one, I decided to take a leap and go explore the city of Boston by myself. This meal was a magical benefit of my decision to take this trip. There was no way that I could return to Boston (my 2nd visit there) without a meal at o ya. To make it even more special, my friend and past colleague from the days of working at the Magnolia Grill, Maggie Warren now lives in Boston and works as a server at o ya. She wanted to wait on me, and I was thrilled to have her share a dining experience with me.

It might be redundant for me to say this, but I dig deep into the beauty of a meal. By the time I left o ya, my eyes were filled with tears of joy. I was full of gratitude to all of the people who participated in running this restaurant. Each one contributed to making my experience grand. I was appreciative of how thoughtful Maggie chose each course for me with a perfect sake pairing to match. I almost felt like I had been transported to another world. Then I became deeply in touch with my own creation of this experience. As the tears uncontrollably fell down my cheeks, I realized how it felt to be responsible for all of this.

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I went to o ya early on a Friday night. When I made my reservation, I asked to be seated close to the “pass” at the chef counter where I could see the food coming out. I went in feeling thrilled to be there again. This was my 2nd time dining at o ya. My anticipation of many exquisite bites was bubbling over.

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I sat at the chef’s counter thrilled to have Maggie as a dining companion, while I would be the only one eating. I told Maggie to feed me whatever she wanted. I told her that I would let her know when I needed to slow down. She brought me a beautiful flute of champagne to get things started.

Here’s what happened next: (I have posted the dish and then the picture)

Kumamoto Oyster watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette

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Hamachi spicy banana pepper mousse

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Salmon unfiltered wheat soy moromi

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Santa Barbara Sea Urchin and Russian Ossetra Caviar

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Karikari Crispy Sesame Chicken Skin yuzu-honey pickled ginger, schmaltz powder

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Artic Char yuzu cured, sesame brittle, cumin aioli, cilantro

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Fried Kumamoto Oyster yuzu kosho aioli, squid ink bubbles

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Wild Bluefin Maguro soy braised garlic, micro greens

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Kyoto Style Wild Morel Mushrooms garlic, soy

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Line Caught Ishidai Usuzukuri spotted knife jaw, ponzu, green onion, spicy daikon

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Scottish Salmon Belly cilantro, ginger, hot sesame oil drizzle

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Hamachi viet mignonette, thai basil, shallot

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Bluefin Toro Tartare ginger kimchee jus

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Chilled Maine Lobster Salad avocado, creamy yuzu dressing, micro greens, cucumber gelee

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Tea Brined Fried Pork Ribs hot sesame oil, honey, scallions

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Grilled Chanterelle and Shiitake Mushroom Sashimi rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, soy

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Kushiyaki of Kobe roasted onion, yuzu kosho, maple soy sauce

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Foie Gras Miso Spoon tempura bits, preserved yuzu

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Chilled Daikon Dumpling miso nut “cheese,” homemade kimchee, wakame, spicy pine nut mayo

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Yuzu Curd almond, blackberry-jasmine, meringue and Aged Sake Gelato miso-hazelnut caramel, vanilla cremeaux, financier

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I am not a restaurant critic. You can find all sorts of amazing reviews of o ya here from critics all over the country.  Please check out o ya for yourself if you’re curious in learning more about them. If you’re in Boston, make a reservation.  It truly is a “don’t miss!” They pay attention to every detail you can imagine. When you are there, you will see beauty at every turn. I definitely had moments when I thought I could’t bear to lose the taste that I had just experienced. In his review of o ya in the New York Times in 2008, Frank Bruni said that he ordered a 2nd piece of one dish right after the first. There was no way he was leaving o ya with the memory of just one.

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Lesson: I have been in the process of stepping into a new way of living. To give you contrast, I spent many years often expecting the worse or not having much expectation because I was afraid of being disappointed. I am learning to trust that life is joyful and full of beautiful experiences. This dinner at o ya was indeed aesthetically beautiful. The presentation of the food was an exhibit of art. The smells and tastes of each plate were inviting and expansive. This dinner was an exhibition of how beautiful life can be. It served as a reminder that I am an artist to the depths of my soul. I have the ability and the power to create anything that I want in this life.

I am going to continue to practice this art of creating. It is bringing so much joy into my life. It’s not that fleeting kind of feeling that comes and goes. It is hanging around. It is flowing through me and into each encounter and experience that I create. It is hard to put into words what this is like. It is my wish that you can feel what I am saying.

What steps are you taking to make room for more joy in your life?

 

 

 

 

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Dear Summer, thank you for the pleasures you bring!

By June 30, 2014 feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, nurturing, pleasure, practice, self care, simplicity, slowing down, summer veggies

Here’s a visual expression of a few things that are bringing pleasure to me right now. IMG_0169The anticipation of tomato season is beyond words. I savor every juicy bite!

IMG_0288There are few pleasures greater than homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

IMG_0321I wake to see blossoming all around me! 

IMG_0335Fruits of summer at the Durham Farmers’ Market.

IMG_0284Grilling and chilling.

IMG_0388More blossoming. Sungold tomatoes on their way.

IMG_0407Okra flower.

IMG_0417My garden mentor, Peter.

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IMG_0445Cantaloupe, I can eat all day every day.

IMG_0476Summer supper with friends. My first corn of the season, elote` asada.

Lesson: Summer brings simple pleasures. I am taking the time to appreciate all of the simple things in my life right now: the juicy bite of a tomato, the refreshment that a slice of cantaloupe brings to my senses, learning in the garden with my dear friend Peter, time spent in my garden reflecting on the growth I am seeing inside and outside of me, and so much more.

I am shifting my attitude about my life. I am making room for more pleasure. In previous posts I have mentioned that I am only choosing to do things that feed me. Paying attention to pleasure and allowing it in my life is what is feeding me right now. What is feeding you? 

 

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What Feeds Me

By May 26, 2014 creativity, feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, nurturing, practice, self care

There are many things that I could share with you that express all of the ways that I am expanding my comfort zone these days. To give you an idea, I have started a new job that challenges, inspires, and stretches me every single day. Every day is an adventure. I am loving it! Upon taking this new job, I made a promise to myself. From this point forward, I am only going to put my energy into things that feed me. What exactly do I mean by this?

I was pondering “what that means” the other night while preparing kale salad for myself and a friend who was joining me for dinner. I prepared one of my favorite salads for us – kale with avocado and lemon dressing with chiles. I also made tuna salad to go with it with lots of capers, spring onions, and very good mustard. One might say that I fed us well. We ate nutritious greens, which some call superfood. We had lean protein, which feeds muscles for people with active lifestyles. We had avocado, which is full of healthy fat. One might say that what we ate was good for us.

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Feeding ourselves runs so much deeper than what we are eating at the dinner table. This weekend, I have fed myself by crossing some meaningful plans off of my to-do list. One of those plans was riding my bike from my house to the American Tobacco Trail here in Durham (by myself). I am new to riding a bike in and around downtown. When I got my bike, it had been over 15 years since I had ridden one. I have been working on building up my endurance for longer rides and varied inclines. That old saying, “it’s like riding a bike,” doesn’t negate the need for practice to be better at your endeavor.

I have a running list of plans for myself of activities that will feed me. For those of you who read last weeks post about my adventures in relaxing, the list includes continuing to prop up my feet once in awhile. I propped my feet up for over an hour this last week, which surpassed my goal. Other plans for feeding myself include completing a new gardening project that I have just begun. I want to create a space in my yard for growing veggies and flowers. I will keep you posted on the progress of that project. That one will be feeding me literally and beyond!

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I love to dance and sing, so stay tuned for some invites for joining me at some local events. I have been wanting to check out the Contra dancing scene here for far too long!

Lesson: It is easy to take for granted that eating well and exercise are the most important ways for us to care for ourselves. The most important way that I take care of myself right now is committing to only putting my energy into what feeds me. I am still discovering and unfolding what that means. I know that when I do something that is feeding me, I feel deeply cared for and nourished on many levels. The beauty of this is that it’s this is achieved by something that I do for myself. I could not achieve the same result otherwise.  

How about you? What feeds you? What meaningful plans have you been crossing off of your list? 

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Adventures in Relaxing

By May 19, 2014 creativity, getting out of our comfort zone, nurturing, self care, slowing down

Greetings from home! I am back in Durham, North Carolina. It has been an incredibly gorgeous day today! My neighbor says that she is “bottling up” days like today and saving them for the hotter months to come. I will be sure to invite you to the party when she opens up the 70 degree bottles of sunshine, blue skies, and cools breezes.

I am refreshed and feel some renewal within, thanks to my weekend getaway. I spent 3 nights in the mountains with the goal of relaxing. I did well! I succeeded with my goal. I made only 2 trips out of the house. One excursion was to check out a couple of local art galleries, the other was to the farmers market in Boone. Both trips fed my creative nature and appreciation for expression.

In the picture below, you will see one of my favorite spots of the weekend. From the kitchen stool, I had a beautiful view of the mountains outside a sliding glass door. I ate there. I drank there. I read there. I pondered life sitting on that red stool enjoying fine coffee, farm eggs, and fresh strawberries that a farmer named Tom hand selected for me.

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This was my post-farmers market breakfast. This was a lovely sourdough pecan sticky bun from Owl Creek Breadworks. If you’re in the Boone area, I highly suggest their bagels and sticky buns. All of their breads appeared to be thoughtfully prepared.

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It was rather chilly in the mountains. I built my first fire in the fireplace. Thanks to youtube.com, I had several teachers in multiple videos that I watched. As you can see, my fire was successful. It created warmth and comfort, too!

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I must admit that this is my favorite position that I took the entire weekend. I don’t allow myself to prop my feet up as much I would like to.

Seems like a worthy new goal -propping up my feet for at least an hour a week.

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So what is the point of me sharing my weekend expereince with you? I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for us to take care of ourselves. It can be a challenge for many people to slow down. I don’t know many people that grew up learning the importance of self and what it means to take care of ourselves. I am not talking about eating a balanced diet and getting enough exercise.

I am talking about nurturing ourselves with things that we love and enjoy. I am talking about giving ourselves permission to be at the top of our own priority lists. I am talking about giving ourselves the space to process changes and transitions in our lives. I am talking about creating a space for us to acknowledge and be present to our emotions. I understand that learning how to do this is indeed a process. What can you do to begin to plant the seeds to take care of yourself in a new way?

Lesson: I became fully aware over the weekend that I don’t allow myself to prop my feet up once in a while. My feet carry and take me all over the place. I have worked for over 20 years standing on my feet for 8 or more hours a day. I am claiming a gift for me and for my feet! One hour or more a week there will be “feet propping up.” How about you? What is something that you haven’t allowed yourself to do for you? What are you going to do to change it? 

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Trusting the Process, Trusting Self

By May 16, 2014 nurturing, practice, self care, simplicity, slowing down

Greetings from Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I have had quite an interesting week. In honor of embracing change and living in these wild and wonderful times, here’s a very different kind of post. Other than this brief intro, I am practicing silence. Words can be powerful, though here are some pics to express what’s up with me. 

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My view from the back deck – the storm is moving out. Blue skies are peeking through. This process is a beauty!

imageThese are a few of my favorite things that I gathered for my weekend.

imageCelebrating and honoring my life, even the broken yolks!

 

I will have much more to share with you about my weekend on Monday!

What’s going on for you?

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My Cup of Tea, Practicing Connection with Self

By April 3, 2014 nurturing, self care, slowing down

One of my realizations in putting this site together is that over the span of my life, I have turned to the kitchen for self-nurturing. It’s like a mini-getaway from living in a busy world – the busy worlds inside and outside of myself. I don’t always get all the time I need to cook marvelous dinners for myself. Sometimes I get the time I need for me in little bites.

These little bites of time often include something special like a cup of tea and 30 minutes to catch my breath before I move into the next phase of my day. My writing, including these blog posts, are written when I have a nice beverage of some sort and can sit down to be creative for a bit.

I love preparing meals and having huge chunks of time to indulge myself by cooking. Having a whole day or more in the kitchen feeds my soul. Thankfully, it does happen regularly. That’s because I make time for it.

In my real life – working in a restaurant, doing therapeutic work with others, maintaining relationships that are important to me, taking time to focus on my personal growth, developing my writing skill and building a new career – sometimes a cup of tea will do quite nicely.

I do enjoy an actual cup of tea very much, but it’s also a metaphor for life. I will write about tea as a beverage in another post. Today’s cup of tea has to do with taking time for yourself. Imbibing this cup of tea means taking 15 minutes out of your day to be with you. Be quiet. Be still. Feel your body sitting in the chair. Feel your breath flowing in and out of your body.

I have not always been a pro at enjoying my metaphorical cup of tea. For many years, the external world got almost all of my attention. At times it was even uncomfortable for me to be still. I was always so busy and really on the go.

When I became curious about a journey of personal growth, I realized that I had spent many years running away from myself. It was a habit that I had learned. No one ever taught me how fulfilling it would be to get to know self. For years, it had never even occurred to me that knowing self would be the most important intention that I would have in my life.

What is the point of me sharing this with you? The avenue of self-care that I have found to be most nurturing for me has to do with the pleasures of cooking. The main expression that I want to make throughout this site has to do with the importance of self-care in your life.

Other people will have their own unique way of learning to enjoy themselves. Some people enjoy fishing. Others may enjoy making pottery or painting. Each of us is unique. Tell me how you enjoy practicing self-care and nurturing. I am looking forward to learning from you.

 

Lesson: Enjoying getting to know myself has become my favorite “cup of tea.” This enjoyment will continue to evolve as I continue to learn even more about myself. What is your cup of tea?

 

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