Gems, Jewels, Love and Life

Be that person. December 16 2016, 0 Comments

Today I stumbled upon this video on Facebook and was deeply touched as well as incredibly inspired.

Loving and embracing my body has been a lifelong journey for me, from being too skinny as a child to having acne-prone skin during puberty. The curves of young adulthood, and now the midlife signs of "aging".

It's always so easy to see and appreciate the beauty in others, no matter the shape, size or age of their body, but somehow, it seems so challenging to give myself the same treatment. And it saddens me.

I've come a long way, but I find myself constantly working on this as there seems to always be new things to accept, embrace and love with this ever-changing physical body. 

This video, this woman, truly inspired me. So I had to share. While watching it I even had the thought "Perhaps I'll just allow my hair to go grey naturally..." (for the first time).

Perhaps someday I too will completely stop criticizing myself and simply celebrate every day I am given in this miraculous body. Changes and all.

One thing I know is that I will keep striving. #bethatperson

Thank you Rachel. Keep shining your bright light.


Lemon Blueberry Loaf (gluten-free and refined sugar free) August 23 2016, 0 Comments

Yes, this loaf really is as good as it looks... I could eat it all day, every day! It has a nice density, but is also light and simply delicious. Hope you enjoy it too.

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour, sifted
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • zest from 1 large lemon (or 1.5 small ones)
  • 1 and ½ cups fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan (9x5) and cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of pan.

Combine almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well incorporated. (it will have a strange, thick and seemingly lumpy texture - not smooth/creamy like regular batters)

Spread one third of the batter onto bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle ⅓ of the blueberries on top. Spread another third of the batter and another third of the blueberries. Repeat one more time with the remaining batter and berries.

Bake 32-37 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cover with foil if top begins to brown too much. Remove from oven and allow to cool. (NOTE: my oven tends to not run as hot, so I baked the loaf at 375 degrees for 35 minutes)

OPTIONAL: You can also add a glaze.

LEMON GLAZE

INGREDIENTS:

  • ⅓ cup coconut butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • hot water

DIRECTIONS:

While loaf cools, prepare the glaze by whisking together all of the glaze ingredients. Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until you have a glossy, liquidy, smooth consistency. Once loaf has cooled, pour glaze over top of loaf, letting it drips down the sides.

 

*Original recipe inspiration/credit: Katja from Savory Lotus (thank you, it's amazing!)

To The Next Lifeguard Stand May 13 2015, 1 Comment

When I lived in the South Bay, three doors from the sand, I loved to run on the beach. Not initially, as it was so much harder than the streets I was used to, but knowing my joints would be grateful, I slowly trained myself to enjoy it.

I ran 2-3 miles on the soft sand, usually every other day, and did that as my cardio exercise for several years. The funny thing is that even after doing it hundreds of times, the thought of the whole journey still felt overwhelming. Every single time. So overwhelming that I wanted to quit before I had even started.

So I had to do it in small increments, and allow myself the possibility of stopping anytime I needed to. Anytime I thought I’d had enough. The first step was to get dressed and put my shoes on. Once that was done it felt kind of silly not to at least make my way down to the sand. That was step two.

I then told myself I had to make it only to the first lifeguard stand and then I could stop and walk back home. But once I made it there I found I still had some energy in me so I would try and make it to the next lifeguard stand. And that process continued throughout my whole run. 90% of the time I ran the total length of the course I had set out to complete, but I always did it one lifeguard stand at a time, giving myself the possibility of turning around and walking home anytime I’d had enough.

This story came up yesterday in a conversation with a good friend. She was talking to me about a project she wants to embark on that will stretch her out of her comfort zone in a major way. She’s actually already signed up for it, but was questioning her decision. The thought of the whole journey left her feeling overwhelmed and confused. She wanted to back out even though a big part of her really wants to do this. 

Sharing my lifeguard stand tale made me realize how I tend to get stuck in the same pattern with pretty much everything in my life. I get excited about something, I see the whole picture and I have my eye on the final destination, on the ultimate result. Then I start looking at the road ahead and try to figure out every little step, with every possible outcome and likely alternatives. And then I shut down.

The initial excitement gets buried under the overwhelming task at hand and the fear of not measuring up to it. I end up either doing nothing at all or stopping after I just started. Not knowing the specifics of the next step, or whether I’ll have the strength/knowledge/confidence to make it to the one after that causes such a panic in me that I often don’t even “put my tennis shoes on”.

What I’ve been learning over the years, and still have to remind myself of on a daily basis, is that I can take just one step toward a goal without having to know every single inch of the road ahead. What’s even more powerful for me is to imagine that next step as my ultimate goal. Once I get there, I can celebrate & pat myself on the back, which usually generates fuel to start working on the next leg of the journey.

I’m realizing more and more that it’s actually impossible to know all the specific details of a whole, long path ahead. Too many variables. To bring it back to my running analogy, I might get a cramp, or meet a friend along the way and run their path with them for a while, or perhaps I’ll decide I’d rather go for a swim. And. That’s. Just. Life.

The more I trust myself, the more I trust that I’ll either have the right tools to get through the next step when it’s revealed, or that I’ll somehow develop them. I also trust that I will know if & when it’s just too much, and allow myself to stop and make a new decision.

Another one of my favorite analogies (on the same theme) is the one Jack Canfield uses in the movie “The Secret”. It illustrates so perfectly this concept of trust; of knowing that everything will be revealed in the right time, and that it’s not only unnecessary, but also impossible to have all the pieces in place before we set out on a course.

“Think of this. A car driving through the night, the headlights only go a hundred to two hundred feet forward. And you can make it all the way from California to New York driving, through the dark, because all you have to see is the next two hundred feet. And that’s how life tends to unfold before us. And if we just trust that the next two hundred feet will unfold after that, and the next two hundred after that, our life will keep unfolding. And it will eventually get you to the destination of whatever it is you truly want , because you want it.”

I’m not a marathon runner, I’m a sprinter. My mind is wired in a way that I can easily give my all for 100, 200, or even 400 meters, but the mere thought of 26 miles is pure torture. I’ve learned that about myself and I try to live my life in ways that support my nature.

I also know that having very high expectations of myself and come down hard on little ol' me when I fail to meet them is completely counter-productive. I tried it for many years. Bruised & battered, but still hanging out near the starting line, I decided to adopt a much gentler and compassionate approach. It works so much better for me.

See you at the next lifeguard stand!


Letting my inner-child out to play January 05 2015, 0 Comments

A little over a year ago, before the holidays, my friend Jennifer shared with me that she had read a great article about New Year and its customs. Its author suggested choosing a theme for the next 12-month chapter over the traditional “resolutions” and explained the potential benefits. The main one being breaking the good ol’ cycle that more often than not ends in feelings of failure: intention – motivation – action – less action – de-motivation – guilt.

Jennifer’s theme for 2014 was to be “LISTEN”.

The idea immediately resonated with me and I decided to try it on for size. I sat with it for a few days and allowed my theme to be revealed. The word that kept coming up was “FLOW” and it became my theme for the year.

I shared the idea with my husband Nathan and he really liked it, so he decided to play along. His theme became “SHINE”. And on New Year’s Day he suggested we do something significant, some sort of ritual to really embrace and anchor our chosen themes. Why not paint it?

PAINT it???

Sounds like it should be fun, right? Not for me. I was terrified. I’ve actually always been terrified of anything I’m not immediately good at, and tend to stay away from those things because of the intense self-judgment they trigger. Painting is most definitely on that list.

My wonderful hubby gently and lovingly convinced me to give it a try. “Just have fun with it and go with the flow… It’s your theme, so why not get started on it right now?” He gave me a few tips on how to use the paint, some information about the brushes and told me it was impossible to do it “wrong”... And off we went.

It ended up being a very liberating and healing experience. And I was so excited about the result: I loved my painting! It represented my theme perfectly and made me smile every time I looked at it. It went on to inspire me all year, which to me was the whole purpose of the exercise. Here are FLOW and SHINE.

      

Now, as the end of the year was approaching, Nathan & I talked about repeating the experience, and perhaps even making it an annual tradition. My mind started spinning. And the old perfectionist part of me went into figuring-out-and-planning mode: How can I top last year’s painting? I can’t paint the same thing, so what am I going to paint? Can’t use the same colors, so which colors will I use? But I love last year’s colors!

And every time those thought came up, I thanked them for bringing up their concerns and gently reassured that fearful part of me. Everything was going to be just fine. It’s just painting. It’s fun. And it’s impossible to do it wrong.

My theme for this year is “BE STIL. ALLOW.” and the painting that came through is very interesting to me. One of my first comments was “It looks like a child painted it…” (and that was not a compliment). My husband looked at me and smiled, and told me that was a beautiful thing.

I’m not in love with my painting like I was last year (at least not yet), but it has already taught me a few things. And I have a feeling it will keep growing on me…

It doesn’t represent the initial idea I had for my theme, but it has already made me realize that perhaps this theme holds a lot more than I thought. The colors are not what I would normally be drawn to, but they soften my heart every time I look at them. And its child-like quality puts me in touch with the little girl in me and brings tears to my eyes.

My painting may not be what I wanted it to be, but I think it’s exactly what I needed it to be…

Happy New Year everyone!

And here's Nathan's gorgeous painting. His theme for 2015 is "EASE".

 


Changing the inner monologue September 26 2014, 0 Comments

This video truly touched my heart and I had to share.

As women we are conditioned from a very young age to dislike our bodies, and our relationship with the mirror quickly becomes a painful and challenging one. Not feeling enough. Not thin enough, not tall enough, not young enough, not pretty enough, not enough, not enough, not enough...  

But we suck it up, we get dressed, put on some make up and get on with our day. Things must get done...

We carry those feelings around and inadvertently infect the younger generations with the same "not-enough" plague, perpetuating the self loathing cycle.

How about we change this? One woman at a time. 

What those people did is so beautiful. You'll be glad you watched. 

Watch the powerful video: http://themetapicture.com/ladies-interactive-mirror/

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Dear human September 05 2014, 0 Comments

This is one of my all time favorites. Stumbled upon it this morning and just had to share. And I combined it with a magical Mexico sunset; the photo was taken on our last trip there in February of this year.

This poem softens me, fills me, opens me and empowers me. I hope it has a similar effect on you... 

Thank you Courtney Walsh for those magical words.