December 27, 2012

You’re My Favorite Work of Art

Last year I sent a list of my favorite blog posts of 2011 to my newsletter subscribers. I recall thinking at that time that there was no way I could write the same quality or quantity in 2012. I had far surpassed my expectations for 2011 and was sure that I’d hit my limit for what I could do with my words for the year to come.

Sounds silly to share this as there is obviously no limit or reversing course when it comes to teaching, but it was my honest belief.

In going through the 2012 archives it was easy to find ten posts that I loved. So much so that I couldn’t pick just ten and had to share 12 with you today.

Perhaps you read these the first time around or maybe they got lost in the hubbub of the interwebs. Either way, for your inspiration and expansion, here are the words from this year that still tug at my heart and reverberate in my bones.

Primary Hungers

The Separation of Powers: Feeling & Feeding

P is for Pleasure

Self Centered

The List: Illusions & Truths

The Four Hunger Relationships

The Importance of Crying in Public

Crawl Into Your Own Lap

The Foolproof Way to Know That You are Lovable

The Spiral Climb

What I Know About Weight

The Secret to Living to 90

Extra: In Praise of Zoloft (guest post from 2011, reposted in 2012)

As I peek around the corner to 2013 I, once again, can’t imagine what there is left for me to say or how I’ll find a way to share eloquently, but if the past few years are any indicator, I expect I’ll surprise myself.

December 23, 2012

I remember taking cross-country road-trips with my family as a child and playing car bingo. In that version of the game, instead of B6 or A17, you had to spot things like a barn, taxi cab, or bird out the car window in order to fill your bingo card.

It’s clear to me after talking with my clients this week that a similar tool is needed for this holiday season. If you’re feeling any level of dread or like you already know how things will unfold, try making a game of it. When you spot someone being passive aggressive you get to check that box (yay!). When you’re in a bad mood and itching to move your departure flight to five minutes from now, look for gratitude, love, and pie…you need ’em to win the game.

So my wish for you is that your days be merry and bright…and may you freak your family out by randomly yelling “BINGO!” at the most awkward of moments.

xo, Rachel

December 18, 2012

 

Closure

It’s December 18th. If you celebrate Christmas, it’s just one week away. The New Year begins one week later.

Where did you think you’d be today? What did you think you would have gotten done? What had you hoped for?

Is all as you’d planned or has it taken a detour?

What’s the story you wrote for this year’s holiday?

For me. I thought I’d be healthy (after months of a sore throat), traveling to Germany to visit my sister, and stocked with all the homemade gifts I’d made for friends. I thought the holidays would be a quiet time for my business where I could write and restore.

Not so.

Tomorrow I’ll find out if (and likely when) I need to have my tonsils removed. I’m a little afraid of the pain that, as an adult, recovery from this procedure involves. I’m afraid of taking up to two weeks from my work – when you’re self-employed, this is no easy feat.

The trip to Germany was cancelled. My immune system is up to it but my business, if I’m to be away from it for long, needs my full attention. So it’ll be my first solo Christmas. Not what I expected at all.

Those homemade gifts for all those I care about? This hasn’t happened. Not even close.

The quiet time for my business? Not so much. I’ll spare you the behind the scenes workings and just say that my free 5-day journey, as part of Kick Start Your Change, launched today. It’s called Sensual Holiday and is all about feeling into every moment of this meaningful time of the year. In the coming weeks you’ll hear about Ease Hunting, a 6 week journey I’m inviting you on that is all about discovering life’s exhales. You’ll hear about the stunning Well-Fed Woman Art Collection and tickets for the Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop Tour will go on sale. I’m my own boss, so much of this is my own choice…and I embrace it.

There is no pity party; nor am I here to sugar coat things.  Many people are experiencing real grief in the world–others unexpected joys. This is simply an awareness that I wrote a story and it isn’t reflected in real life at the moment.

What is reflected is that I have good health care, a family who believes in me and loves me (even if I’m far away this year), and family and friends who know I love them, even if my gifts arrive late. I have wonderful readers, clients, and followers of my work – wonderful women on the path of becoming well-fed.

How about you? What’s the story that didn’t turn out as you had written it? Is the real story even better? What do you need to let go of to move closer to embracing the true story of your holiday season?

From one master storyteller to another.

*This post is adapted from a Wisdom Note I shared with subscribers to A Well-Fed Holiday.

December 4, 2012

 

These photos are of my grandfather. Wasn’t he the cutest baby? And the most handsome young man?  I’ve just returned from celebrating his 90th birthday and had to share a little story from my visit.

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After the dessert plates had been cleared and we were all circled round in the living room I spoke up and said, half jokingly, “Now’s the part of the evening when you tell us what the secret is to living to 90.” Not missing a beat, he replied “Well that’s easy…” A hush came across the room. “Strong women. Grandmother, mother, wife, daughter, granddaughters, friends.”

He didn’t say green vegetables, though he eats lots of those.

He didn’t say daily exercise, though that’s been a mainstay most of his life.

He didn’t say time spent in nature, though he lives in the most beautiful and wild place.

He didn’t say being kind, though you couldn’t imagine a better friend.

His answer was unexpected, but also obvious:

Strong women.  

 

December 1, 2012

As you may know, I’m a student of Wayne Muller. His book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives was a total game-changer for me. In fact, I kept my own non-traditional sabbath for several years inspired by Muller’s words. This practice still influences how I live my daily life and my work in the world. You don’t need to be religious to benefit from this profound book–I’m not.

Muller has a fantastic new book out: A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough. Doesn’t the title just make you happy?! I wanted to share this excerpt from the book with you because it so wonderfully sums up why I coach and what I love about coaching.

“So in order to live well from the inside out, to listen for the right choices and the firmly and courageously act on them we simply cannot do this alone….

Because we are not taught or supported to live in this way, rarely educated or encouraged to listen and act from our own inner wisdom, never told how to follow the firm but invisible thread of the next right thing through the world, we will always need the support of good, honest friends.

We are called to be strong companions and clear mirrors with one another, to seek those who reflect with compassion and a keen eye how we are doing, whether we seem centered or off course, grounded or flailing.

As in all sacred, life giving practices that require a deep and confident faith in ourselves, we need the nourishing company of others to create the circle needed for growth, freedom, and healing.”

– Wayne Muller, A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough

November 26, 2012

There are infinite ways to show our love and gratitude, with spending money on (or making something for) another as just one possibility.

Giving and receiving gifts can be magical. It can be a way to express that we truly see someone or it can show our support for a business or artist we love. The right gift, for the right person, at the right time is wonderful.

If you’re giving gifts this year and seeking inspiration, I’ve pulled together a few of my favorites…

1. Maria Schoettler’s 2013 ‘Eat Local’ Calendar. Been my go-to calendar going on three years. Stunning.

2. The Seven-Year Pen. Yes, this pen lasts seven years. If you don’t lose it along the way, it writes beautifully and is a great deal. Love mine.

3. Mati Rose’s “There is nothing wrong with you” print. Mine hangs happily in my kitchen. A great reminder.

4. 80 Acres Verde scented body care. From the body butter to the scented candles, this is hands down my favorite smell these days.

5. American Apparel jersey chemise. I wear one of these almost every day. It’s the ultimate layering tank if, like me, you or your gift recipient like ’em long.

6. Pinhole Press personalized memory game. My niece or nephew (due this spring!) may not be able to play this game for a good while, but it caught my eye as a great kid gift and it’s no a stretch of the imagination to envision playing it myself.

7. Vanessa Barrington’s DIY Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch. If you’re wanting to make a homemade edible gift this year, Vanessa’s book is your go-to bible. I love every recipe in it and the gorgeous photos from Sara Remington don’t hurt.

8. Native Seeds/SEARCH’s heirloom beans. Santa brings me these beans every year, right before I go through last year’s stash. They are gorgeous, flavorful, versatile, and nourishing. Terrific hostess gift.

9. Ilia lipstick and tinted lip conditioners.  On my wish list. Highly recommended by some of my most respected and lip-hip lady friends.

10. A homemade surprise ball. I was gifted one of these for my birthday this year and it was the most fun present to unwrap, ever.

11. Mt. Washington Pottery bells. My dear friend Beth is an extraordinarily talented potter and lately she’s been making these beautiful bells. Love mine. Perfect gift for the home.

12. The Porridge Manifesto. In this, my first book, I share my philosophy of creating a delicious life by starting with breakfast. It’s perfect for anyone who loves porridge or is looking to shake up their breakfast routine.

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Oh, and if you’d like to send me a holiday card, I’d love to hear from you! You can find me at:
P.O. Box 3433 4900 Shattuck Avenue | Oakland, CA 94609

posted in things i heart
November 4, 2012

Shy

When I run into people I haven’t seen in a while they often remark that while I am still myself, I’m so much more relaxed and at ease than they recall. That’s because for much of my life I lived with a base level of anxiety and for me that manifested as: vague constant dis-ease/worry, insomnia, sporadic panic attacks, being overly controlling of others (as a means to soothe myself), and an eating disorder (also to soothe myself). While I had all these symptoms, I was entirely functional – able to hold down a good job, earn my masters degree, and have close and healthy friendships. And while my anxiety was somewhat normal if you looked at TV or movies, it was also exhausting.

So how did I get to today where life feels pretty easy, I’m at home in my own skin – even when life is hard, and to a place where very little overwhelms me?

I sewed a patchwork quilt. One square at a time of information, experience, aides, and awareness. Each person’s path out of chronic anxiety (or depression) is unique and there ought not be any judgement about one’s choices on the journey. No one road works for all and what matters is that quilt square come together to forms something that works.

I released any shame I had about mental illness. (See Brene Brown’s work on shame).

I worked with some talented and wise psychotherapist that felt great to be in the room with.

I attended a 10-month Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills group. I seriously think the DBT skills should be a mandatory part of public education.

I practiced and pondered mindfulness. I found sitting groups. I read. I got quiet.

I practiced and pondered compassion and loving-kindness. Again, I found sitting groups. I read. I got quiet.

I connected. I stopped isolating myself with the idea that I couldn’t show others that I was struggling. I reached out. I was real with others. I stopped creating a life where I only let my flaws hang out when I was alone. I stopped pretending like I had it all together, because I didn’t and that kind of isolation will kill anyone.

I paid attention to what worked and what didn’t work for me. I learned I have a lot of HSP characteristics. I learned I do better working for myself. I learned that taking long afternoon naps and putting my needs first leads to happier days, happier friends, and happier clients.

I took a hard look at my family. I saw that the parent I shared so many traits with had depressive, anxious, and OCD tendencies themself – markers that I might have inherited some of what I was experiencing.

I started taking Zoloft (generic name Sertraline). I named this post ‘In praise of Zoloft’ because I think my decision to take medication to treat my anxiety is actually the most unique part of my story. While millions of people around the world are medicated for mood disorders, I was an unlikely candidate. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where there’s an acupuncturist on every corner. I earned my Master’s degree in Holistic Health Education where I took courses in stress reduction and relaxation, Ayurveda, and nutrition. I meditated. I ate greens. I went to yoga class. I was primed to take an all natural and alternative approach to my anxiety.

But for me, several years ago, the floor finally dropped out of my life and Zoloft got me on solid ground. I’m lucky in that I’ve not experienced one side effect from taking it and I feel like myself, only more even keel. I’m still creative. I still feel all my emotions and cry now and then. I still have worries. I think as clearly as I always have, perhaps more so. It’s just that a tiny dose each day makes my life much better. Anxiety and depression are certainly aspects to spiritual awakening and I wish more people would look there first. That said, I had experienced symptoms my entire life and Zoloft has played a significant role in getting me where I wanted to go.

I believe that medication is not for everyone (though meditation probably is). I believe that Zoloft is not the medication for everyone (consult a professional please). I firmly believe, truly, to each their own. But I wanted to share some of my story so others could see that taking advantage of modern medicine isn’t a failure and it won’t turn you into a zombie. And sometimes, it might just give you back your life.

October 28, 2012

Maya Angelou

You know that question “What’s eating you?” I much prefer the question “What’s feeding you?”

Here are a few things that are feeding me right now…

1. Dream Dinner Party. That question, “If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would you choose?” always stumps me. Then I stopped over thinking it and just thought about who would be fun and a joy to be around. I just find it totally delicious to imagine this group coming together around my table. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

:: Julia Child – for her majesty and because she’d cook something delicious
:: My parents and sister – because they taught me the joys of a good dinner party
:: Alanis Morrisette – for her soul and after dinner songs
:: Jimmy Fallon – for the laughs and to play board games with
:: Bill Clinton – to discuss global issues and hear that, ahem, sexy, southern drawl
:: Eckhart Tolle – because aside from being near enlightened, he’s surprisingly funny
:: Maya Angelou – for the pre-meal grace she’d lead us in
:: My nana – who is no longer with us, but would make the absolute best tamales.
:: Tina Fey – obviously.
:: Bill Cunningham – for his commentary on the night’s fashion.

2. Jane Iredale Glow Time BB Cream

My car was broken into the other week and all of my makeup was stolen. This is the replacement I selected for my foundation and I LOVE IT. It entirely mineral based, has SPF 25, and covers perfectly. I use shade five if you’re curious.

3. Sesame Oil Self-Massages

I’m a huge proponent of the healing power of self-touch. If you’ve been craving a massage, while it might not be the same as a trip to the spa, a DIY rub down feels awesome. I use organic sesame oil and do this before or after a hot shower. The only trick is to tune inward, touch everything (especially the parts you might not love fully yet), and take your time.

4. Utilitea Electric Kettle

I’ve had a bad cold twice in the last couple of months. This electric kettle saved me. Hot tea almost instantly. Adjustable temperature for different types of tea or to suit your preference. And it’s not entirely heinous to look at.

5. Lie Detector

Found this at a local flea market. My mom had it when she was growing up and I often played her game at my grandparents house when I was growing up. I love that I have my own set, makes me feel like a kid again.

6. New Projects!!! 

Oh, I’m pretty stoked to be in the grove with several new projects. One of them I’ll announce next Thursday, November 1st – no photo to give it away. If you’re on the list, you’ll get the scoop on Wednesday. Additionally I’m working hard on The 2013 Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop Tour – more details very soon! Deeply grateful for the opportunity to do such meaningful work and to do it in such a beautiful way with you.

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What’s feeding you lately? I’d love to hear.

posted in things i heart
October 16, 2012

Half Eaten Nectarine

I received an email from a client this morning. I’ve been working with her for about nine months on breaking free from binge eating and healing her relationship with herself. In her sunrise note to me, she shared the following:

“I sat down with my breakfast and half way through I had the thought, “I am full. I really, really don’t want to eat the rest of this.” So I walked my half-eaten bowl into the kitchen, slapped on some plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge. Done. Holy what!?!”

Yes! Yes! Yes!

I knew this day would come for her. If you struggle with disconnected eating, I know this day can come for you too.

Just a note, if you are one of the many people whose form of disconnected eating leans toward restriction – this story would be same if she ate her entire bowl and then realized she was hungry for more and then ate more. Same coin. Different sides. I’ve been on both.

Right before I entered eating disorder treatment for the second time I was standing in the kitchen at my office (back when I had a 9-5). I had gotten into work before any of my coworkers and went to put my lunch in the refrigerator.  As I did, I saw that there was a lot of leftover bean dip and pita chips from a party the office attended the day before.

At that party I had tasted the bean dip and loved it. It was creamy, salty, and delicious. The pita chips were homemade, and tasted of really good olive oil. I also only allowed myself a few bites.

That next day, standing there alone in the office kitchen I took a bite. I took another. I went back to my desk and in the blink of my eye found myself back in the kitchen inhaling it. Repeat this a few more times. Desk. Kitchen. Desk. Kitchen. Stuffing myself. Anxious someone would come in. Feeling entirely out of control. Lacking all connection to myself, my heart, my stomach, and my soul. I binged.

That was years ago and since then I have worked hard to surrender my weapons and take up living in peace.

Today. Life, for the most part, and food are peaceful. Honestly and truly. And I know they can be for everyone who struggles this way.

Truth? We simply will not feel able to stop eating during a meal, even when we’re full, if any of the following are true:

:: We think shouldn’t be eating (this food, this amount, at this time) in the first place
:: We think the food = love, companionship, a hug, etc.
:: We are using eating to manage emotions we think are too powerful for us to handle
:: We are out of touch with our body’s wise cues
:: We are disconnected from the natural inclination to care for ourselves and at the mercy of our critic
:: We are, overall, underfed

My client’s experience at breakfast – her having that moment of fullness and making the choice to stop eating – tells me that none of these things were true for her, which tells me she is, as I knew she would be, waking up and really living life as a Well-Fed Woman.

She did not make this choice because she wanted to lose weight. She didn’t make this choice because she was following a diet. She was not trying to control herself or punish herself.

She was honoring herself.

:: We must legalize all food and all eating. Allow ourselves to eat anything, at any time, in any amount.
:: We must come to see that we are lovable (and we are love). When we feel lonely or any emotion, feel it.
:: We must practice, taking baby steps, coming home to our wise body, as it is, right now.
:: We must come to ourselves as a mother does to her child, with the utmost tenderness and care.
:: We must remember that food is good.  Eating is good. Filling up is good. Living a life of just barely getting enough or striving to not be too much or eat too much is a recipe for living a half-eaten life.

Tell me. What does living a half-eaten life look  and feel like to you? What are the signs and sensations a life Well-Fed? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xo, Rachel

October 15, 2012

You might not know Margarita Tartakovsky, but I hope you know her writing. She’s the Well-Fed Woman behind PsychCentral’s Weightless blog and she consistently puts out some of the best content, according to her, about:

:: “fostering a fulfilling body image and life, at any shape + size. It’s about well-being, not weight.

:: building a healthy relationship with food and yourself. It’s about transforming your self-care, and finding self-acceptance and self-love.

:: becoming a clever consumer and recognizing when women’s magazines and other mediums tout unrealistic and damaging tips and standards.”

It’s no question that Margarita has a spot at my Well-Fed Woman table and I’m happy to share her words with you today.

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Margarita, what are you TRULY hungry for?

I’m truly hungry to let my creativity out. To explore and express myself in different ways, whether that’s poetry or painting (which I’m honestly intimidated to try). I used to draw as a little girl, and I loved it. I’d like to get back to that playful place, again. That place where I can create whatever I want without feeling self-conscious.

(For instance, I’m considering creating an e-book of my poetry, ACK, there I said it, and yet my inner critic is roaring from the rooftops about all the reasons why I’m not cut out to do it.)

I’m also truly hungry to let go, tune into what I’m doing – instead of getting distracted 800 times — and travel the world with my honey (hopefully a Mediterranean cruise this summer).

What comes through you with ease, meaning, and spark? What are you a conduit for?

Writing is many things to me. It’s my work, my passion, my loudspeaker, which lets my voice be heard. And it’s my way of connecting with others.

If I had to pick a theme that shows up in all of my writing – regardless of the topic – it’d be kinship. I write to let readers know that they’re not alone; to let them know that “yep, me, too,” because when I read writing like that, it eases my heart. It feels amazing and soothing to know that someone has been there.

I also write to help readers learn to be kinder to themselves and others. To share good information and resources. (That’s one of the reasons I love talking to different researchers, coaches and clinicians. And I definitely learn so much myself!)

What’s a hunger you used to deny that you now happily satisfy? How has this effected you?

I used to deny myself so many things – everything from dessert to compassion to authenticity. I used to think that I had to diet and lose weight in order to be likeable, worthy and confident. In other words, I used to think that I had to earn these things – and looking a certain way would be my currency.

Even if I’d eat dessert it was always with unease. I’d gobble it up or shove it in, as though it was my last meal. Inevitably a stifling kind of shame would wash over me, as though I’d just committed some injustice.

I rarely let myself off the hook for anything. Everything I did could’ve been better. Everyone around me was better. I filled my life with “shoulds,” – what I should like, what I should dislike, what I should wear, what I should do.

When I think about it I really just built a fence around all my hungers, whether it was a hunger for food, a hunger for care or a hunger for self-expression. When I was restricting what I was eating or bingeing on foods that didn’t even satisfy me, I didn’t realize that this colored my entire life. That this was basically a metaphor for the shaky relationship I had with myself.

Now I savor dessert (and a wide variety of foods…yum!). Now I try to be kind and compassionate toward myself. To understand that I’m human, that mistakes are OK. That flaws aren’t fatal. They just are.

I focus on activities that bring meaning and make me happy. I tune into my body’s cues, my needs. I try to live life with all my senses. I spend time with people I love who genuinely love me, too, and have my back.

Living this way has helped me to breathe better. I think that’s the best way to describe what’s changed. I know myself so much more today than I ever did. I believe in myself so much more than I ever did.

I still struggle. I still get super insecure. (That poetry e-book is a good example.) I still forget certain lessons. I still hyperfocus on my shortcomings and gloss over my strengths.

But now I can recognize these struggles. Now I know my mean thoughts are not facts. Now I bounce back faster, and I cope with them in healthy and respectful ways. But, mostly, now I feed my hungers.

Favorite bite in recent memory?

A medium-well steak smothered in Asiago cheese with a butter-and-sour-cream baked potato, grilled asparagus and a glass of Riesling at Ruby Tuesday’s of all places. Man, was it good!