Archives for category: health

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

” I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.”

-Walt Whitman

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I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

So, before this afternoon’s bag of chips and chocolate “trail mix”, it has been nearly two weeks that I haven’t eaten for any other reason than that I was hungry.  A funny thing happened when I stopped eating emotionally….I started FEELING all my emotions.  All of them.  The pesky ones, the silly ones, the crushing ones, the tortuous ones, the giddy ones, the mushy ones, the giggly ones, the soul-squashing ones have all come up through this silent place between my belly-button and my pubic bone like a geyser.  I always thought the “with every fiber of my being” phrase was a hackneyed one used by writers that need to rely on melodrama.  Until now….I feel all my emotions with every fiber of my being.

I can feel hollow sadness all through me.  It turns my torso, the columns of legs, the cylinders of my arms…even the tubes of my fingers, into an empty, echoing space under the drum-taut stretch of my skin.

Happiness gurgles through me like a cool stream flowing along the beds of my muscles, even the little ones that hold my ears in place.

Panic grips me at the waist and I can’t feel my legs, my bowels get cold and watery, my chest becomes a frantic metronome swinging my heart from one side of my ribcage to the other.

There is hatred, also, where my eyes lose their peripheral vision and get very, very focused.  Every vein strains against the pink inside of my skin, searing it all black.

Then, the rage.  Oh, the rage.  The rage that has been a quiet, steady, smoldering fire for nearly all the years that my memory can stretch back.  Except that without cupcakes, fried chicken, mashed potatoes with extra gravy, german chocolate cake ice cream, and salt and vinegar chips to smother that rage into my dearest friend, depression, I am finally looking rage right in the face.

And rage is looking right back at me.  And, for once, I am really seeing.

Depression was all that rage on a shock collar.  Each time that rage bared its teeth, bzzzzzzzzt, a shock was administered to keep it well-behaved.  A good girl does not get angry at others.  She punishes herself for thinking that she was even worth the trouble to be upset about what happened.

Depression tells me that it was my fault.  Depression tells me that there must have been something wrong with me.  Depression tells me that I had set my expectations way too high.  Depression tells me that I should be quiet, stuff my face so that rage doesn’t have a chance to escape.  Depression tells me that of course, no one can love me, I mean really, you’re always so depressed.

But, rage, dear, clear, searing rage.  Rage wants to destroy.  Rage wants to pull things out of their sick sockets.  Rage wants to burn hot enough to cauterize the wounds.

Rage yells: I was perfectly lovable and you didn’t love me.

Rage roars: I kept lowering and lowering my expectations until I had none and you couldn’t meet them.

Rage screams: You had no right to touch me like that.

Rage cries out: My body!  My body!  My body is SACRED.

Rage roars: Something was very wrong and it was not my responsibility to make it right.

But that gets pretty exhausting, so I had a bag of chips with a jar of salsa and several handfuls of chocolate.

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post. 

I don’t think I am.  Not in the prevalent sense that has swept the nation in a misguided attempt at crunchy, glossed over religious tolerance.  I am not a spiritual being having a physical experience.  I am a physical being having a physical experience.  (Most of the time I’m a mental being having a mental breakdown.)

The Madonna of the Hairless

There is a cathedral here that I enjoy walking into once in while.  It is beautiful inside.  I really love beauty.  The rush we get when facing something beautiful, something terrible, something exquisite is mistaken for a spiritual experience.  When I say spiritual, I mean some sort of supernatural part of ourselves in touch with some other supernatural being or energy.  It is nice to be swept up in all of that.  It is nice that my body evolved in a way that all my neurotransmitters and hormones react in that way to make me want to be around things of exquisite beauty.  Most of the time, those things of exquisite beauty are unmolested chunks of the planet.  A mountain range jutting up to touch the cornflower blue sky, a dolphin playing in a wave, a sunset that sets the entire world on fire are some of the things that get my juices flowing.  There are other things, too, like the cathedral, like Van Gogh’s art, like a well choreographed ballet that work on me the same way.  These things are called “culture” and they really are just our species getting off on itself.  That’s fine by me.

There is so much that annoys me with the current religious climate.

1.  Apparently, the new mood is that it doesn’t matter which religion you practice because all paths lead to God.  If you believe that, then you don’t believe what you say you do.  Each religion exists only because it exerts its authority as the only way.  Only through the observation of its laws do you get the reward after you kick the bucket.  If you didn’t walk the path laid out by that religion, you lose the big one.

2.  It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.  I’ve heard Christianity dressed up in this plastic outfit since I was a little girl.  So, do I got to hell if I choose not to be involved in this relationship?  Yes.  Oh, okay, then it’s a religion.

3.  Religion is obsolete.  It is a male dominated, misogynist, hierarchical creation that no longer fits with our far more enlightened concepts of cooperation, equality, and science.

4. The New Age isn’t much better.  Living according to the vagaries of astrology, finding a guru, focusing on my higher self….I call bullshit.

I understand the perceived need for these things.  I really do.  I have people that I love dearly who still hold onto a lot of these superstitious beliefs.  Of course, I’m sure that they probably pray for me all the time and that’s okay.  No publicity is bad publicity.  It is such an honest wish that there is someone in the sky who is keeping tabs, who hears you crying out in the night and wants to dry your eyes.  It is such a temptation to move into a space where your meat and bones and sweat and shit is just some kind of beefy container for your pure self, your true self that is made up of rainbows and unicorn breath.  I GET THIS DESIRE!  We all have imaginations that can be put to use.  These are all different ways to comfort ourselves against the dark, against our inevitable fate as worm food.

Delusion is delusion is delusion.  When I let go of the very last shackle of my trained belief in the supernatural, I have to tell you that I felt a freedom that I had never known.  Yes, I am going to die and there will be no more me.  The mitochondria that ride along on my genes that have been there stretching back to the first mother live on through my son.  Unless I have a girl, they die with him.  It’s hard to accept our fragility.  Once it is accepted, once we understand how finite we are, that is when life becomes precious.  That is when each blade of grass sticks up like a green blade of exuberance.  That is when the taste of water clarifies as liquid life.  That is when every other person, dog, squirrel, horse, and lizard fully comes into focus with infinite value.  We are all the missing link from what has come to what will become after we are gone.  It’s not a lonely chain.  We are each unique and exactly the same.

So, no I’m not spiritual.  I’m psychological.  I’m emotional.  I’m physical.  I’m ecological.  I’m animal.

While everyone else is trying to cleanse themselves of their dirty humanity, you can find me outside making mud pies and peeing behind a bush.

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post. 

It was 13 degrees up on my mountain this morning.  I LOVE it.  There is too much beauty in the weighted boughs of the trees, the whited out landscape.  It  soothes me.

When I was 10ish years old, my father built my sister and me our own rooms.  The house I grew up in was originally a vacation/hunting cabin.  It had been added on to but the two-room core of the house had 20 foot cathedral ceilings.  My sister and I shared one room, my parents had the other.

My dad split the room in two and built an upstairs loft for me.  The only request I had was an enormous window.  So, I had a room in the eaves with a wooden floor, one wall was just window (only wrought iron, no glass, no screen) with a window seat.  When I moved in, he hadn’t even put up the half wall of bookshelves that was to be the borders of the loft.  It was just a wooden floor that hung over a hallway that I looked down upon with a beating heart.  On one of the walls he had put up a muted paneling that showed a forest scene in the four different seasons.  It was the palest greens and creamiest whites.  All I had in that room was a twin mattress on the floor.  I would drag the mattress over to the window when it rained.  The breeze was always just enough to mist me with the rain and I would fall into the deepest sleeps on those nights.  (I was plagued by nightmares nearly every night but those, when I would fall asleep with rain on my face.)

The eaves of the ceiling were nearly a hundred years old and I studied their chipped paint, their scars with a growing devotion that could only be called love in retrospect.  The wooden floor, grooved together (male and female joints, my father explained with pride) was reclaimed wood and stretched away from my bed, dropping off as a horizon.  It took years of living up there before enough dust accumulated between those joints to not shower my sister’s room downstairs with a fine film every time I swept.

There it was, a white room, bare floor, large window, and a mattress.  It was my sanctuary.

Unlike most of the population, I find safety in no things.  I find expansion possible.  I find that there is room for my thoughts that can cramp me in when they have to bounce off “stuff”.  Like most of the population, I got lost for a while, believing the lie that the more stuff, the more you can forge an identity.  We live in a world of buying identity, buying self.  Where we know who we are, who someone else is by reading the labels they wear, drive, and eat.

Sleeping, free of nightmares, in an empty room, face tickled by the mist requires a quality that we lose in aging if we are not mindful: the fearless inhabitation of our true self.

because i’m completely narcissistic, my new year doesn’t begin until my birthday.  that’s when i do all that self-reflective inner work that leads somewhere:  that somewhere being a list of ways to ‘improve’ myself.

i think that that list is going to be pretty slim this year because i’m sick of the whole concept.  if i was an arsonist and a good enough one to not be caught, the self-improvement aisles of bookstores and libraries would be my signature target.  i might even become a house visiting arsonist and leave little blackened ash piles in people’s homes.  who doesn’t have a couple self-improvement books?  i just have to figure out a way to make money out of this victimless crime and i would be set for life.  a nickel per burnt self-improvement book seems about right.

resolutions tend to fall in the same bucket as self-improvement books.  generally, because people make lists of ways to go back to being something that they never were.  they are also setting themselves up for failure because they want to conquer things over which they have no control.

for example: i will lose 35 pounds this year.

will you?  you might.  you probably could.  but, that’s completely out of your control.  your body may completely disagree with you.

instead, try this: i will build the habit to eat like i’m meant to and move like i’m meant to.

this is something over which you have control.  you’re not trying to do something unnatural like “loving those who hurt you” or going down a fruitless path by “becoming a money making machine”.  it’s even better than “controlling’ anything.  it’s what your body wants to do.

so instead of overcoming your nature and trying to improve yourself, just allow that nature to develop.  it’s easier and loads more fun and i don’t have to come to your house to set fire to anything.

i walk barefoot every day.  since i was a little girl, i’ve had claustrophobic feet.  as a dancer in my teens, i spent hours in toe shoes.  that seems incomprehensible to me now, but that is what passion does for a person.  of course, i still love (LOVE) to dance but i’m so glad that i didn’t go down the classical route and have to wear those things for twenty years.

where was i?

oh, yeah.  claustrophobic feet.  there was a spell when the only closed in shoes i wanted to wear were a lavender pair of kangaroos with velcro enclosure.  now, i wear my uggs because my toes can spread apart in the shearling and get winter boots 1/2 size larger than i safely should.  but, barefoot is my favorite.

there’s been the wave lately that endorses all the health benefits of “barefooting” but more and more, i feel that being natural in one’s skin, being as animal as possible is so common sense that the “health benefit discoveries” will just pile up.  i’m kicking myself because i don’t remember where i read this, but my favorite definition of discovery is a white guy finding something that was already there.

and, yes, even though it is 17 degrees fahrenheit/8 celsius, i get some outdoor barefoot time in.  invigorating?  understatement.

p.s. that's henna, not frostbite.

this soup is to be had at midnight on new years or if you can’t swing that with all the drunken partying that you were doing, it can also be the first meal of the new year.  i just like to have it whenever i have the time to make it.

it was created by empress dessaline when haiti was fighting the french for their independence to feed the soldiers.  without the meat, it is really inexpensive.  it’s not the much pricier with it, either.  over time the colors gained significance as our five gourde bill (remember those, fellow haitians?) was the same bright orange color.  the turnips are traditionally cut into rounds to symbolize coins.  it is the soup of prosperity and happiness.  we won our independence on january 1st, 1804.

there are as many variations on the soup as there are home cooks.  here’s the one i made this year:

(pretend there’s a picture here.  i have one but for some reason my mac is holding out on me.  blog blocker.)

edit: jan 9 here’s the pic!

you’ll need a skillet and a soup pot.

also:

a pound or two of meat-stew beef is great as well as chicken on the bone

16 oz canned pumpkin (do NOT get the stuff is all spiced up for pumpkin pie, just straight pumpkin)

16 oz chicken broth

4-6 celery wands diced small

1 onion diced small

4-6 carrots diced small

3-5 turnips sliced into rounds

1 small cabbage shredded

thyme 1-2 tablespoons

a bunch of fresh parsley chopped fine

butter for browning the meat

salt and pepper to taste

1. take your meat and dry it well with paper towels or  a dish towel you don’t mind staining, salt it and pepper it

2. heat the skillet (you want it nice and hot!)

3. add some butter to the skillet

4. brown your meat in batches-don’t flip it until it is deep brown with a little crust (you can achieve this a lot easier if you don’t crowd the meat)

5. when all the meat is browned set it aside, turn off the heat under the skillet but keep it on the stove

6. add butter to your pot

7. when it melts, toss in your celery, onion, carrots, thyme and half your parsley

8. when it is all translucent, take a tablespoon or two of your broth and use it to scrape all the browned butter and meat bits from your skillet-add that to the veggies in your soup pot

9. when well incorporated add in the rest of the broth and the meat and bring to a boil

10. gently incorporate your pumpkin in spoonfuls stirring it in, add the cabbage and boil for 5-10 minutes

11.  add the turnips and turn the soup down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes

12. turn the soup off and add the parsley-salt and pepper to taste

13. serve it up!

here’s to your health and prosperity!

sitting at the table, puffing on the hookah, i looked around at my friends and i told them that i felt we were just on the surface of a giant rubik’s cube that someone had shifted.  everything around us looked different, but it was still just us, sharing a meal, laughing like hyenas, and feeling the breeze.

yesterday was that kind of day.  easy.  breezy.  beautiful.  (cover girl.)  i had on my black eyeliner and green scarf.  (here’s the thing about the desert: that scarf is essential.  once noon hits, it goes around my head so my head doesn’t spontaneously combust.  we went to the bank as one more link in the long chain of things that need to get done to settle my hosting friend in the country.  it was like any bank anywhere except clearly R I C H.  over in one corner was the company player flirting with two women in slinky abaya and one in western garb with an elaborate headscarf.

after that, we went to the mall to change some money.  i loathe the mall in the united states.  overweight teenagers squeeze themselves into band-aid sized shorts and waddle around, rednecks slither through, thugs duck-walk to keep their pants on, young parents glare at each other over their screaming toddlers, and there is always some horrible muzack being piped into the air so that there is no escape.  here, i LOVE the mall.  it is quiet.  everybody glides.  couples lean in to each other in discreet whispers.  and things in the shops are beautiful.

we walked across the street (no small feat, by the way!  pedestrians, who when tallied up were the four of us, do not have the right of way.) and went to a cafe overlooking the bay.  stuffed grape leaves, fried kibbeh, minty/lemon drinks were all washed down with turkish coffee and flan.  of course, there was the hookah.  it just forces one to slow down.  we sat for hours waiting out the heat of the day.  as we smoked, sharing the same pipe, our thoughts melded and we were able to finish each other’s sentences.  the light changed on the buildings.

off to the corniche we walked.  the corniche lines the very edge of the entire Abu Dhabi coastline on the bay.  we walked (and walked) until we got to the bike rental place.  it’s not a shop, just lines of bikes on either side of the sidewalk.  the (very, very good looking!) man who was renting them out picked out a red tricycle with a big white basket in the back for me.  my friends hopped onto a two seater and the boy grabbed a four wheeler.  we raced each other, wove in and out through the foot traffic, caressed the fuzzy grasses with our feet as we rolled by, slapped five onto the low hanging branches, and giggled like four year olds.  we rode to the port.  dozens of wooden dhows were docked, some nearly covered by all the fish traps on board.  several wave runners sped through and a lone sheik stood at the rail of the boardwalk and watched, his khandora catching the wind.  he looked like the sail of a ship, solitary and proud.

we turned back as the fourth call to prayer floated out of the minarets and the sun was setting.  as it drew nearer to the horizon, it heated into a brilliant red ball.  the dunes across the bay glittered, the date palms’ outlines grew sharp.  i heard someone whistling a tuneless tune.  every once it a while the whistling would stop and a giggle would burst forth.  so deeply was i entangled in my own contentment, it took me a second to realize that the whistler was me.

after returning the bikes, we took the boy back to the hotel and we headed out for lebanese food.  if i would have known, i would have prepared myself by not eating earlier that day and two days before.  we ordered two drilled meat plates, grilled chicken, an appetizer of baba ghanoush (which was called matoubal there), and avocado shakes (trust me.).  but, even before our food arrived, the manager kept sending out other plates.  he sent out a plate of olives, crudités, arugula and mint, hummus, labneh (yoghurt cheese), and a basket of pita.  the meat plates were mountains of meat.  i got the mixed grill.  on my plate were: lamb chops, lamb kebabs, grilled chicken, chicken kebabs, beef kebabs, and grilled beef.  on top were whole grilled tomatoes and a chopped parsley salsa.  i ate and ate and ate but the pile did not seem to diminish.  and then, there was coffee.  it was, so far, the richest cup i’ve had here.  and since the manager felt that coffee could not be had alone, he sent out a dessert.  it was a delicate rice pudding smothered in honey with chopped pistachios and almonds.  it took us fifteen minutes before we could walk to the street to get a taxi.

after that meal, i didn’t think i’d ever be hungry again, but the leftovers are in the fridge right now.  so, i gotta go.

when you look at the day, i just hung out with my friends, went for a bike ride and had dinner.  but the perfection is all in the details, isn’t it?  make sure the friends are worthy, the ride beautiful and the dinner delicious.  that’s the difference between mundane and spectacular.

there has been a very steep learning curve in my life with depression.  for somebody like me, who really enjoys being teacher’s pet, it’s so nice to be able to look to experts for the answers and then regurgitate them without ever finding out if they are TRUE.

i’ve looked in so many places for help with my depression: talk therapy (helpful for a while), medication (helpful for a while), routine changes (helpful for a while), becoming a recluse (guess what i’m gonna say here?  that’s right…helpful for a while), becoming a party animal (yep, a while).  because depression is a multi-faceted disease, the best way to dance with it is also multi-dimensional.

but, the single most beneficial thing that has helped over  a long time is how i choose to nourish myself.

that’s right.  what i eat has become the greatest single factor in the severity of my depression.

and, the best way for me to eat is NOT what is usually recommended.

here’s how the logic usually went:  since sugar is a direct path to seratonin production, sugar makes us happy, so if you’re depressed eat sugar.  we don’t usually come right out and say sugar.  we say carbs.  generally whole grains.

i am so happy to see the tide turning.  there is a greater awareness that sugar is metabolized like a drug and we need more and more of it to get that initial hit.  even worse, after our sugar high, there is a pretty bad crash.  but, whole grains are still recommended as the foundation of a healthy diet.  (spoiler alert: they are incredibly detrimental.)

i rode this roller-coaster for a long time.  when i was on a “health kick” i would decrease my “sugar” intake but up by grain intake.  warm baguettes, bowlfuls of rice and beans, quinoa, quinoa, quinoa, mounds of pasta bolognese.  after each hit, i would feel a little euphoric, detached.  and then, BLAM.  i would want to increase my razor to wrist ratio.

when i don’t eat sugar, grains of any kind, and keep my protein/fat to carb ratio at least 2:1, i can feel the life in me instead of wishing for death.  and that’s pretty damn sweet.

so, this past weekend, i was in toronto.  (o, canada!)  the kid and i drove eight long hours so that he could stay in the hotel room and binge on bad t.v. while i was receiving my training as a holistic lifestyle coach (level 1, kids, gotta start somewhere) with the CHEK institute.  it’s been a couple years since i’ve been in a classroom environment and i really enjoyed it.  but, it was clear to me how far i’ve come.  although i had facts to share on every topic (i am mister nigel-murray with girl parts.), i realized how little actual practical application i have in my life.  i’m one of those people who finds great safety in thoughts, safety in the processes of my brain.  facts.  i have a body in theory.

being a wild woman is about having a body in practice, in every moment.

i’ve been getting this message from so many different sources.  somebody told me the other day that our brains can time travel, they can be anywhere: regretting the past, reliving the past, wishing for something that isn’t in the present, yearning for something in the future, worrying about all sorts of different possibilities.  the body is absolutely chained to the moment.  it can’t be anywhere but right now.  and right now is, 98% of the time, just fine, if not better.

if you’re anything like me (and i’m willing to bet good money that if you were born in the past 100 years, you are) you tend to live in your mind, too.

so, how does one get wild with it?

1. be sensually aware

we have five senses. use them.  start with jut two minutes every hour and ask yourself these five questions: what do i smell right now?  what do i see right now?  what do i hear right now?  what do i taste right now?  what textures do i feel right now?

2.  play with dimension

most things that we interact with these days are two dimensional.  the computer screen, the t.v., concepts….but, the body is three dimensional.  move your hips in as many dimensions as you can discover, swing your arms through all the planes they can find, look around and see how many different perspectives you can create.

3. listen

your body is constantly (constantly, kids) talking to you.  100% of truth is found in the messages of the body.  your body wants you to be present with it.  when you don’t listen to it, it will start getting louder and louder until it’s screaming at you and then, if ignored long enough, it goes numb.  if you’ve gotten to a place where your body is numb, it’s really just pissed off at you.  it is giving you the cold shoulder because you’ve taught it that is can’t trust you.  that’s when it’s time to be patient and gentle.  start with little things.  feel the fatigue and go to sleep.  allow yourself to feel the hunger and feed your body.  listen to the fullness and stop eating.  hear the desire to move and let your muscles sing.