moving boxes

ch-ch-ch-changes. . .

So, I’m moving. Moving from Arizona to Oregon. Moving from one job to a new one.

Transitions engender reflection, and I’m thinking about what I really value.

This effect shows up as I sort my possessions. I’ve thought about this before, but now it’s inescapable. Do I like this? Do I use it? Do I need it? Do I want it? Or, did it just slip into my life somehow and attach itself, without my deliberate attention? Or was it once valuable and is no longer? Is it beautiful? Or, am I keeping it out of some sort of guilt at the idea of selling it, donating it, or throwing it away? I’ve been answering these questions a lot lately, and it’s very revealing.

It also shows up as I visit people and places here. I have beloved teachers and communities at my yoga studio (where I’ve taken over 2,000 classes) and my krav maga gym (where I learned that I can, and should, fight when threatened). I have favorite trails and coffee shops. I have coworkers who’ve taught me and learned from me. Of course I’ve valued these things over the years, but the thought of moving away from them brings my appreciation into sharper focus. Each visit feels significant.

I also think about myself and my life in the ten years I’ve been here. I moved here with Max and took my first job as a nurse. I took my habits of yoga and running from occasional to nearly daily. I went to graduate school and became a nurse practitioner, then a researcher, then a teacher. Max went to graduate school and cycled through jobs. I hosted weekly dinners with Max for years, sharing a love of vegetarian food and socially progressive conversation with smart and loveable friends. I cooked a lot of vegan food, and learned to love eating that way, even when I haven’t made it a firm rule in my life. I’ve travelled from here, to Europe, to Asia, to Mexico, to Montana, to New York, to California, to the Midwest. And then I cam home, to the home I made here in this funny desert city. And now, I’m going.  New beginnings are exciting! But still, leaving is sad. What would you miss if you moved?

Transformative practices

It’s something that you do, deliberately and consistently, whether or not you feel like it, the circumstances are right, you do a good job— this is what makes it a practice,— and it causes a fundamental shift in some part of your life— this is what makes it transformative.

So often we seek change— we want to be happy, or lose weight, or feel better, or be more creative.

We try to create change by limiting or denying ourselves, and we feel worse. It seems clear to me that saying “I’ll stop eating french fries,” “I’ll stop watching TV,” or “I’ll stop slouching” is ultimately no fun, and when we inevitably mess up, we are angry with ourselves. These aren’t things you decide to do, they’re things you decide not to do. Different.

We can, however, invite change through practices. This is way more fun and rewarding, and sometimes we change in wonderful ways we didn’t anticipate. The neat part is, almost any practice can be transformative. It’s the practice, not the transformation, that needs to be deliberate. You can start a practice and realize eventually that it has been transformative.

Here’s what makes it work: Continue reading

beyond “what to eat.”

I see so many articles about excactly what to eat to lose weight, have more energy, sleep better, be happier, find enlightenment. . . and it drives me crazy. there are not 5 secret foods that will change your life. no, ma’am. there’s more to it than that, yes?

it seems like the “what” is pretty well covered. but it can’t stop there. if you want to change how your body relates to food, let’s get to business!
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on showing up.

i got what i asked for for christmas this year: new running socks, and an annual pass to the yoga studio. then i went to a workshop at the studio called “articulate your aim”– where we wrote for a while, talked for a while, and did some kick-ass-asana. my aim? it started out as “show up”, but really what i mean by that is “practice presence.” so yes, show up, but REALLY show up. sometimes, getting my butt to wherever i’m going is enough. sometimes i can do more– BE there. not worry about tomorrow so much. i think ahead, and in a lot of ways that’s a good thing, until it isn’t. until it’s stopping me from being present.
so, 2015, here i am. i am present! are you?

On routines, cooking, and being ready.

“Mise en place forces cooks to account for every minute of their time and every moment,” as chef Dwayne Lipuma is quoted in a recent NPR article.

First, what the enfer is mise en place? It’s french for “put in place”, and it’s a term used in cooking for the setup of ingredients and tools gathered and arranged at one’s station, often meticulously or even obsessively, and before the actual “cooking” begins. Everything one will need to the day/shift is considered and laid out just so. (n.b.: I’m not a chef! If you are a chef and you have a more accurate explanation, please do tell!).


Second, why do I care, since, as I just explained, I am not a chef? Well, the idea of mise en place— that you set up everything you need just so, and it’s right there when you need it— is freeing. It makes a routine, or a habit, out of the process of being prepared. And that, IMHO, is enormously freeing. Continue reading

Just do it.

I am good at mulling things over. This can be a good quality— it leads to introspection, self knowledge, and considered action. But it can also lead to paralysis, and talking yourself out of things, and second-guessing. 

i don't know. maybe not.

i don’t know. maybe not.

Continue reading