Posted May 8, 2013
These days pinterest abounds with images of softly lit, sunrise horizons with “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” emblazoned across a mountainside. Or perhaps it’s a glistening ocean behind text that says “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
I believe life begins INSIDE of our comfort zones and only when we feel safe enough to stretch out does life (and our comfort zone) expand.
I am simply a huge fan of everyone feeling safe and I think safety has become linked up with weakness.
However, I have seen how safety allows us to blossom.
I believe that feeling safe is a prerequisite for connection, learning, relationship, growth, and for feeding our hungers.
The only time I have ever been able to heal or grow is when I first felt safe.
The only times I’ve been able to hear my own hungers calling for me is when I created a safe space for them.
The only times when I’ve been able to ask another to feed me is when I feel safe with them.
It’s true that we often want or need to do things that aren’t safe or don’t feel safe.
Taking the stage. Quitting the job. Asking someone out on a date. Trying something new and unknown.
It’s my experience though, that we have to feel a level of safety first.
It’s also my experience that women tolerate lives, situations, and relationships in which they are not safe to be who they are, want what they want, and say what they think and feel. This needs to change.
Needing safety does not a weak woman make.
It’s okay to value safety. In fact, it’s imperative.
It’s okay to ask someone to create a safer space for you. It’s okay to remove yourself when you don’t feel safe.
When we feel safe enough, we can sail away from the harbor.
I’ll leave you with a few questions for us to ponder:
Where in my life don’t I feel safe?
What factors create a sense of safety for me?
What would change if I felt a greater level of safety to be who I am, want what I want, and say what I think and feel?
Who don’t I feel safe around?
Who could I offer more safety to?
How could I offer myself more safety from which I could try new things?
Where am I pushing myself too far outside of my safety zone?
May we all be safe so we can soar.
Posted May 4, 2013
I took April off of work.
I went to meet my nephew in Germany and on April 17th, 36 hours after my pain landed back on U.S. soil, I had my tonsils removed. No surprise, it’s been painful to talk.
During the recovery I learned to communicate with made up hand signs, scribbles on paper, and flash cards I’d prepared that said things like “Pain!” and “Thank you!”
Now May has rolled around, the pain has faded and speaking has becoming more effortless.
Eating with abandon has come back too. Hallelujah!
But my life isn’t just about speaking to my loved ones or being able to talk to the check out clerk at the grocery store.
I teach. I write. I communicate as part of my sacred vocation.
Being away last month and getting out of practice ‘speaking’ to you has left me feeling rusty. I could hear that all too common voice that says “What do you have to say that’s original? Look, there are all these other people saying the same thing as you. What makes you think anyone wants to hear your version? No one even noticed you were gone.”
In my experience, most of us know what this is like, even if we don’t have a blog and or teach in a classroom.
It’s simply not always easy to feel into the importance or worthiness of our voice.
Here is the perspective I use respond to these questioning voices:
I’ve read just about every book there is on the topic of eating disorders and making peace with our body and food. Seriously. I have.
Many of them say the same things and yet, for no logical or specific reason, only a few have really spoken to me. It’s not that they were better written, it’s simply that I needed to hear the information from one author and could not from another.
Have you had this experience? Two books that say the same thing and only one speaks to you?
Or a friend raves about a book that changed her life but it falls flat for you.
Perhaps there is a blogger out there that ‘everyone’ raves about but who’s voice does not connect with you.
Maybe you’ve had a group of people in your life each give you the same advice, but it was one single person who was able to get through to you.
It’s not logical and I don’t need to understand why this is the way things are.
I simply know that each voice matters and that my voice is the voice that will connect with someone out there when others do not.
This is true for your voice too. Whether it’s a book you want to write, a speech you want to give, or a truth you want to share with your best friend – it matters that YOU share it.
Your voice is like your thumbprint. It has a uniqueness that no one can match and it has the power to carry healing, change, and beauty into a world that needs these them.
Our voice won’t be heard by all. It won’t even be received positively all the time. It will rarely, if ever, be perfect.
I simply ask myself, what if Geneen Roth had never written Women, Food, & God because she thought that most of the content had already been written about by others? What if Brene Brown didn’t give her initial TedX talk because she thought to herself “Would anyone care if I didn’t show up?”
This perspective is what allows me to, often without finesse, begin to speak, teach, and write again. This is what allows me to hush those fearful voices. I have a deep faith that some people need to hear the wisdom I share from my voice in order for it to have an impact.
I have faith the same is true for you.
Posted May 3, 2013
Our hungers are an eternal spring of wisdom and answers.
I wish I’d known this when I was younger, it would have saved me so much strife and anguish.
If I had known, I wouldn’t have have pursued answers, fruitlessly I might add, in so many places outside of myself.
If I had known that the well of wisdom was ceaseless and within myself I would not have sought to silence it.
It, this eternal spring, asked for simple things from me. It asked for human embrace. It asked for carbs – bread, pasta, and the like. It asked for permission to simply be. to be heard. to be listened to.
My spring of hungers asked for rest. and play. My spring of hungers said “Let our body be! Let it be soft. Let our body be whatever it wants to be.”
My spring of hunger said “Let others love us” and “Let’s love us.”
And it was the courageous act of yielding, of listening, of honoring that I allowed me to live my way into a very well-fed woman.
The path has not been linear. Going from relating to my hungers as enemies to being in deep communion with them has been a practice. It has, at times, been moment to moment and day by day. But over time it has become second nature.
This Way of The Well-Fed Woman, as I call it, has liberated me and over the past several years I’ve been lucky enough to witness it do the same for so many others.
I want this for every hungry woman out there. I want so much to live in a world where women trust their hungers, no matter how big they are or and live lives created from this guidance within.
In the spring 2004 I attended a large women’s reproductive rights march in Washington, DC. As we gathered, plackets in hand, Hillary Clinton on the microphone, I overheard a conversation between a few women who were standing next to me.
One woman said “What do you want to do for lunch?” The other replied “Oh, I’m skipping lunch this week. I’ve been so bad and need to slim down.” To which her replied with a chipper “Oh, okay!”
The only part of this story that has to do with food is that our relationship with food mirrors our relationship with all of our hungers.
Instead of her hunger for lunch, this woman could have just as easily been ignoring her hunger for creativity, or touch, or adventure. This is what so many of us do and I’m not here to claim that feeding ourselves is easy. Well, it’s not easy at first.
Aftercall, how do hear what we’re hungry for?
How do know if what we’re hearing is our “true” hunger?
And once we hear it, what we do? How do we actually take a hunger, especially the big ones, and feed it?
I teach the answers to these questions. I equip hungry women with the tools, frameworks, practices, and love that it takes to live the Way of The Well-Fed Woman.
Someone asked me recently, “What does ‘being well-fed’ mean?” Kind of like when you say a word ten times fast it starts to sound funny. I say “well-fed” a whole lot and I totally get if it starts to sound like mumbo jumbo.
If this metaphor has felt elusive for you, perhaps my words here today have shed some clarity.
Being well-fed means believing 1) that your hungers are wise and serve as a compass pointing to what is needed now for you to be most fulfilled, 2) you are worthy of having your hungers fed, 3)that when you are well-fed you can be engaged in and most of service to the world, and 4) that a world full of well-fed people, especially women, would be a radically better place than the one we live in today.
If you believe these tenets, then your eternal spring is ready and waiting to guide you. You are ready to feast. If you believe these tenets and are hungry for support and guidance, I’m here.
Happy (eternal) springtime to all.
Posted March 28, 2013
Posted March 12, 2013
This September I’m co-leading the Wise Body, Wise Hungers: Yoga & Coming Home to Your Desires retreat with the truly awesome Anna Guest-Jelley. The retreat sold out in three and half days last week! Anna and I take this as a very good sign and plan to find a way to offer the retreat again sometime in the future.
Between the two of us, we have an abundance of transformative teachings to share and have both dedicated our lives to bringing women back to the wisdom within.
You might think as the co-leader of a yoga retreat that I’m a pro-yogi. Not so.
In fact, my relationship with yoga might be a lot like yours.
I dabbled in it in high school. My mom and I would go to a Hatha Yoga class at a local gym once a week. The teacher was a thick-accented, hyper-flexible seventy year old Indian man. It was a great mom-daughter activity, but it didn’t spark my soul.
My college experience included anorexia and compulsive running. No yoga.
I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2005. It’s pretty much “Yogaville” here.
There are several yoga studios within walking distance of where I live (or anywhere I might live). Every type of yoga is available. There are teachers of every stripe. I even own more than one yoga mat and my share of props.
For several years I went regularly to an Iyenger yoga class. My teacher was a petite elderly Japanese woman and my fellow students all had gray hair. I loved that class. Then the building got torn down, the class relocated, and I moved further away.
Years later I dabbled in Anusara, even signing up for a year-long pass to a studio which I promptly never used. It wasn’t super convenient to where I lived and I didn’t like the style nearly as much as Iyengar. I dropped in on a few Vinyasa and other flow classes, not for me. I’ve made it to a handful of restorative yoga classes, but I can’t say I go regularly.
Then a friend invited me to her Iyengar class, which we went to together for quite a while. A year or two I believe. But I felt out of fondness for the teacher.
I’ve tried online classes and Marianne’s amazing virtual teachings (Her 30 days of Yoga starts next week!). I’ve been to my share of day-long workshops, such as “New Year’s Day Yoga Retreat” and “Create Your Own Home Practice.” My bookshelf has an entire section of yoga books that I’ve read and certainly appreciate. Many of my friends are wonderful yoga teachers or students. I speak the language. I know asana practice, the physically active arm of yoga, can be profoundly transformational.
In a good week, I find my way to my mat at home and my body tells me what what it needs. It’s almost always gentle and restorative. It rarely lasts more than 20 minutes.
Would I like to go to a good class more frequently? Certainly.
Would I like to have more of the post-yoga class joy in my body? Yes.
Does this make me a yoga failure? No.
I’ve learned that that right now I don’t need to be a hot-yoga, hand-standing master in order to feel how I want to feel in my life and to live in alignment with myself and others.
What I am is a curious woman who’s dedicated her life to the slow and tender process of returning home (as often as possible) to her body and to a life based in self-trust.
What I am is just like you. Perfectly imperfect. Doing my best. Ebbing and flowing. Sometimes in the flow. Sometimes a bit off course.
What I am is over-the-moon to teach with and learn from Anna. She’s just my yoga type. She calls me back to the practice in a whole new way. She’s funny, bright, patient, and kind.
Anna makes everyone – one and all – feel welcome as a yogi. Whether you’ve practiced a lot or never. Whether you are curvy or straighty. Be you young or old. Be you spotted or striped. Anna has put out the yoga welcome mat.
To learn more about the different styles of yoga I mentioned here, check out Yoga Journal’s guide to Yoga Styles.
Posted February 26, 2013
All month long Tamarisk Saunders-Davies and Mara Glatzel have been inspiring online writers to tackle the subject of real-life self-care. Mind you, this isn’t the self-care you see in self-help magazines. This isn’t what people with a billion dollars and no job do. This is how real people care for themselves in a world that expects green smoothies every morning, yoga sweats every week, and absolutely no junk food. You can read up on all the other entries HERE. Below is my contribution to this important conversation.
On the live-call with my ease hunters this past weekend I shared with them that I’ll be having my tonsils out in April. One of the women chimed in with “Well, at least you’ll have a good excuse to eat all the ice cream you want.”
I smiled. “I don’t need an excuse to eat all the ice cream I want.”
It’s true. My self-care is all about freeing myself from any suggestion that I can’t have what I hunger for.
It turns out I don’t hunger for ice cream all that much.
Caring for myself is not something I approach with great routine. That could change in the future if I start to hunger for more structure, but right now I enjoy feeling free and allowing pleasure and self-kindness to be my guides.
In my life, this ends up looking like:
:: Working out of bed, in my pajamas most days.
:: Prioritizing relationships and time with people. I get depressed when I’m alone too much.
:: Eating whatever I want, whenever I want, in whatever quantity I want.
:: Allowing my body to be beautiful and human as it is and as it changes.
:: Having compassion for myself when I miss the mark by eating until I’m uncomfortable or getting lost in a self-critical story.
:: Downton Abbey and American Idol.
:: Investing in high-quality, transformative therapy and/or coaching.
:: Not coaching more than four women each day.
:: Three, delicious meals every single day. Not always homemade, but often homemade.
:: Expensive haircuts less frequently instead of cheap haircuts more often.
:: Asking for the kind of touch, listening, communication, and companionship I need at a given moment.
:: Telling the truth as often as possible.
:: Skyping with my family (and our Welsh Terrier, Wiley).
:: Generally tuning into what’s working and what’s not working. (Note to self: more sunshine)
:: Trying to take care of me first, so I can take care of others better.
:: Naps. Lots and lots of long naps.
:: Throwing out the rules that say you have to work 40 or more hours a week.
:: Not pursuing relationships with people whom I feel less than great around.
I do not do any of this perfectly. Well, I probably watch American Idol perfectly, but otherwise, I simply do my imperfect best.
There are days I don’t exercise. Plenty of them.
There are days I don’t eat a single green vegetable.
There are days I watch more than my share of television.
Self-care isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
My self-care is about shifting away from ‘shoulds’ and towards ‘wants’, ‘hungers’, and ‘desires’.
Anything done with harshness, judgement, cruelty, rigidity, or as a means to feel enough is the antithesis to self-care.
When I move or rest my body it’s because I want to.
When I spend time with others or alone it’s because I have choice in how I tend to myself.
When I eat ice cream or kale it’s because self-care doesn’t have to look a certain way and rarely does.
Does this sound like you?
Posted January 25, 2013
This week during Wild Writing we were given the prompt “clicking clicking” a taken from a Marie Howe poem. I admit though that I thought about naming it “This is Your Brain Online.”
We are to take the prompt and write, non-stop, for 15 minutes. We are to write quickly, pen not leaving the paper, so as to short-circuit our inner-cleverness and attempts to be ‘good’ writers.
What I wrote is true. What I wrote is not a ‘whoa is me’ whine. It’s not a complaint. It’s an extraction of my own monkey mind shared in service of all of our awakening.
I’m sharing it because I want to remind us all that we’re not so different from each other. I’m sharing it because I want to highlight the deafening noise so many of us choose to live with. I’m sharing it because I want to encourage all of us to take a stand against the draining of our ease.
Posted November 4, 2012
This is a guest post I wrote for
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.
Posted September 10, 2012
I didn’t read the Twilight trilogy. I’m not on Team Jacob or Team Edward. I did, however, see an interview with Stephanie Meyer, the author, where she said that she was only able to write the books because she wrote them for herself – as if no one would ever read them.
I care deeply about my work in the world. I’m not able to sell snake oil. I’m not able to coach clients I don’t resonate with just for a paycheck. I’m not able to write just for hits or retweets.
I am truly only comfortable doing and sharing what feels good in my bones and deep in my gut. I am only comfortable doing what leaves me feeling joyous. I coach the clients that click. I write the words that are true. And I earn the money that comes from being and acting in integrity.
There are several reasons I’ve wanted to write a guidebook of my teachings on living life as as Well-Fed Woman. Most important of which is that not everyone can coach with me or make it to a retreatshop and I want to share this information with everyone. I want to offer my square for your patchwork quilt. My brick for your road.
But I want to do it right.
Recently, I thought I could set a deadline (the New Year) and push myself to get the guidebook out. I thought I could make a good, but quick buck if I released an excerpt in October. I thought I could bang this out.
And I could.
But I don’t want to.
I value you too much to give you anything less than my absolute best.
So, like Stephanie Meyer, I’m going to keep writing, but to create something awesome I am choosing to stay away from flashy, boldly promoted deadlines for now. I am choosing to write this as if no one is ever going to read it. I am choosing to do this my way so that it can be everything my heart knows the guidebook wants to be for you.
When it’s ready, you’ll be the first to know.
I am going to be releasing products and announcing events over the coming months and year and I want you to know that when I do it’s because my whole body says YES and because I know I’m giving you something worthy of your precious time and resources.
On October 1, 2012, for new clients, my 1:1 coaching rates are going up to $375/month from $300/month for two sessions (and lots o’ support in between).
When I listen inward, I can feel that it’s time. Coaching with me delivers real value. My clients know this and I know this. My clients break through patterns they’ve had for 20 years. They make peace with (and love to) their hungers and they feast. They come to see themselves in a new, more loving, light and begin to live from this place. They discover and root into their unique values and what a well-fed life for them really looks like. They move forward and they find stillness, all at the same time. Coaching with me is tender, but oh-so-powerful!
Unlike a graphic designer or other high-hourly-rate and high-skill service, I can only coach for 4 hours a day. After that, I’m simply not offering my best services. Ideally, I only coach three clients a day for maximum presence, engagement, and deliverance of my heart. Subpar Rachel is not on the menu.
There are only so many days in a week. I only have so many slots. Most of the year, my client load is full to the brim and that tells me that I can afford to charge rates that reflect the demand on my time.
If you get in touch before 10/1/12, you’ll receive my old rate for the duration of 2012.
My event page is live in preparation for a year of wonderful opportunities for you and I to sit face to face – for us to gather and root into living Well-Fed. For now, be sure to let me know if you want me to come to you on the 2013 Retreatshop Tour and there are a few spots left in Hunger Stories my upcoming day-long writing retreat with Laurie Wagner! Be sure you’re on the list to find out first what’s happening!