Monthly Archives: September 2012

rooting routines

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“Let the gentle bush dig its root deep and spread upward to split the boulder.”-Carl Sandburg

Last night in a glorious, ironic twist of trying to get enough sleep to thrive during a stressful situation, I couldn’t get to sleep.  you know how that goes, right?

I’d run out of ashwagandha so I took a nice long dropperful drag of motherwort tincture which I usually take in tiny doses during the day when I need a hug and no one’s around to give me one.  Motherwort puts me in a….mellow?….mood.  As a I lay there allowing myself and sleep to drift towards each other, my brain started bobbing along on the waves of imagery.

I have a thing for trees.  I once spent a day with an ancient oak that stood watch over the edge of a marsh in Savannah.  My afternoons were often spent in the arch of a mango tree’s branch when I was a little girl.  Now, I go into the woods to watch birches crinkle like I did once after a brutal sunburn in Florida.  So, not surprising, my mind likes to think of trees when it is bumping around in the night.

The greatest trees have the deepest roots.

I’ve always been very suspicious of routines.  They constrain me with their predictable regularity.  It’s taken me a long time to understand that I don’t like externally imposed routines.  They make me bristle a little.  But, routines of my own creation surprise me. They make sense to me.  Each morning I have a routine, each evening as I start transitioning to the restoration that sleep provides, and certain weekly routines as well as yearly.  As I chewed on this discovery of mine, something caught:  routines just are.  Even in my great avoidance of having them, I had them.  We can’t help but have them.  The earth spins, animals mate at certain times, the moon expands and contracts in the sky, the seasons change, my body hungers, needs sleep, wants to play….routines are the stuff of nature.  (A fancier word for routine is ritual.)

So, I have routines whether I like it or not.  What those routines do is profound.  Do they make me weaker?  Do they corrode my vitality?  Do they chip away in little chunks my freedom?  That is easily what happens when I don’t pay attention and allow society/bad habits/the well intentioned incorrect to dictate them to me.  But, with intention, I sculpt the framework of my life by asking these questions:  What  routines nurture me?  Which ones mine deeply for health?  How do I use them to break through the crust, opening even the tiniest currents of connection?

In my sleepy thought wandering, I kept seeing the trees and the word routine.  Each time I visualized the word, however, it was spelled ‘root-ine’.  My routines are my rooting.  They are the sturdy, anchoring forces that allow me to reach outwards and upwards with power and elegance.

Soon, I’ll elaborate a little on the specifics of my routines, my rootings.  In the meantime, see if you can detect the routines that you have created, either intentionally or not.  Ask yourself, what are my routines doing to my health?

In other but related news, Happy Late Mabon everyone!  For my non-pagan friends, Happy Autumn Equinox!  Keeping an ever appreciative eye on the earth’s journey through space and around our star, the Sun, I celebrated by going to the most sacred spot here in Haiti and scrubbed with the appropriate leaves:  kapab (Which means “capable” and I have no clue whatsoever what it is in english or even what the plant looks like.  The kids that live in the region go grab some for me when I go.) and basil.  And, I let the water crash over me, breathed deeply,  laughed louder than the falls with friends and in that way, performed another root-ine.

photo credit: Lori Martineau

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just keep me comfortable.

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“A tiger only needs three things to be comfortable. Lots of food, sleep, and…actually, no it’s just those two things.” -Colleen Houck

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about comfort.  So many seek out comfort above all things.  We’ve basically got an entire society based on the quest for comfort, for convenience.  It’s not that I sneer in the general direction of comfort, but it is something to be judicious about.  Comfort is to be used wisely.  In my own life, comfort is for lazy Sundays and for nighttime.  I work the comfort muscle to exhaustion with the best mattress, sheets, and pillows!  Comfort is also for clothing.  If it itches or cuts of my circulation ANY where at all, FORGET it.

There is, however, an interesting thing that happens when one’s relationship to comfort becomes a little skewed.  When one places their comfort above all things, a strange thing starts to happen.  The circumstances in which one is comfortable become narrower and narrower.  Maybe you’ve met (or have been…or still are) the person who finds comfort sitting on the couch for hours.  Soon, you’ll need a softer couch and a sharper T.V. screen.  Then, you’ll need to lie down on the couch instead of sitting.  Then, you’ll want to watch T.V. in bed with only pureed foods.  Do you see where I’m going?

The opposite is true.  When you are always pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, the zone only gets bigger and bigger.  If you’re out for a walk and it starts to drizzle, instead of running inside you keep walking, the next time it rains, it will be comfortable.  Walking barefoot in the soft grass will lead to walking barefoot in the woods.  Trying a new food that seems a bit strange at first will lead to the discover of a whole new cuisine.  Talking to a person you don’t know very well could lead to being a public speaker.  Do you see where I’m going?

Find ways to be awkward.  Discover a new way to be uncomfortable today.

Here are some ideas:

1. Apologize for something you did, even if you’re not wrong.

2. Go 1/4 of a mile further than you’re used to on your walk.

3. Take a different route to the grocery store.

4. Eat a meal with your fingers, outside…in a full squat.

5. Take a cold shower.

6. Introduce yourself to someone that intimidates you.

7. Learn a new skill.

8. Go somewhere you never thought you’d go.

9. Read a book written by an author that you completely disagree with.

10.  Don’t wear shoes.

Have fun with this!

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a little nourishment

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“Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.”

-Ludwig Beethovan 

I can’t explain how excited I am about the turning wheel of the year.  I deliberately chose to move somewhere with the 4 distinct seasons to experience.  The leaves are turning.  The evenings and mornings have graduated to hoodie weather (which reminds me that I only own one, which is fine, because I don’t like a whole lot of stuff.  It’s awesome because it’s a Universite de Paris Sorbonne one but sucks because it’s got an itty bitty hood.  Fabulous but not functional.)

One of my favorite parts of the changing weather is to adjust my diet accordingly.

One of my personal goals is to really eat more and more locally and seasonally, mostly from my food shed, and move towards a wilder diet.

This is what I made for dinner last night (and polished off for breakfast this morning.)  It is local (check) seasonal (mostly) and so nourishing!

(I would have taken a picture but I really inhaled this stuff!)

What you’ll need (please choose local sources if you can!)

1 pound of lamb stew meat that has been marinated at room temperature for at least 8 hours  (mine: 48 hours) in 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of Vindaloo spices….or whatever you prefer. (Since I live in Vermont, I was able to find both of these locally, too!)  (This is technically a spring meat so next time, I’m hoping to track down some venison or moose.)

at least 1/2 stick butter (cultured if you have it available locally)

2 chopped carrots-bite size

1 or 2 chopped sweet potatoes-bite size

broth (I used a shortcut, store bought organic one, but when I have a more operational kitchen, this is something that I ALWAYS have in the freezer.)

This really couldn’t be easier and you can obviously play around with the spices, the meat, and the veg. for each season.

The first thing is to melt the butter in a hot pot.  Remove the lamb from the marinade and brown it nicely on both sides.  Add the carrots and sweet potatoes.  Stir and coat the veg. with the butter.  Add enough broth to cover the whole thing by an inch or two.  Bring to a boil.  When the potatoes are soft, it’s ready.  Salt to taste.

I added some of my home fermented pickles all chopped up to this.  When there is a chill in the air, this really satisfies!  For those who are still sopping sweat off their brow, tuck this recipe away for a month or two.

dis-connect

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I’ve been working today on preparing a new workshop that I’m really excited about.  It’s working title is “Why Diet’s Don’t Work”.  The thematic thread that runs through my work is “Connection”.  That word is easily interchanged with the word “health” to me as I find them to be quite synonymous.

I have a little preview of the five connections that diets (and other unfortunate societal impositions) shatter.

1. Personal:  When we diet, we learn, through the often painful practices of starvation and denial, to ignore our selves.  The flowing dialogue between our organs, our cells, our thought processes, our muscles gets dammed up.  The true democracy of the body, where every voice is heard and of equal importance is dismantled.  It is replaced with an externalized dictatorial voice that barks out all of the “shoulds” and “should nots” with no capacity for listening.

2. Traditional: When we diet, we cut ourselves off from the universal human tradition of deep nourishment.  We generally forgo the instinctive desire for satiety that humans have been fulfilling since we have been human (and even before) and instead eat food products that claim to “boost metabolism” and “melt fat”.  How foreign to the tradition of nourishment these reasons to eat are!

3. Cultural: The cultural aspects of eating that center around feasts, festivals, or great-grandma’s squirrel stew are the specifics of the universal traditions.  The difference in spices, the particular vegetable that gets fermented, the culturally designated favorite part of the animal (Where I grew up, the large knobby gelatinous glob of pork fat swimming in the tomato gravy was the ultimate prize!), these are the things that create an identity.  When we give these things up to munch on lettuce or to stir two scoops of meal replacement shake into some water, we isolate ourselves from our greater familial group.

4. Inter-personal: Closely related to our cultural aspects of eating are the interpersonal relationships that we shatter when we diet.  Allergies aside, it is difficult to maintain connection with others when we won’t share meals. Our fear of counting calories or fat grams overrides the joy we can co-create with another person by letting them cook for us or vice versa.  This is the quickest way to sever our connection to people from other cultures.  All cultures have certain things in common.  A love of meat or other animal products, treasuring fat, fermenting something or other and sharing a meal as a way to build relationship.

5. Natural:  The deep division from nature and her rhythms that dieting creates are often the most damaging and least noticed.  Most diets are proscriptive and ignore seasonal availability, the particular needs of our organism and the ecosystem as a whole.  The beauty of eating in way that takes all of these into consideration is elegant and delicious.  And, of course, it creates health.

The path to health is all about weaving threads of connection.