Tag Archives: freedom

Depression Dance Trois

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This is the last entry for this particular series.  However, rest assured that I will revisit this theme quite a bit.  It is important to me.  So many of us suffer with depression.  It is painfully common (I will be sharing my theories as to why that is) and too often fatal.

I promised that this time, I would be super practical and tell you the ways in which I keep the lead in my dance with depression.

In no particular order:

1. I don’t write in a journal when I feel sad.  This was the most counter-productive practice that I had.  When I would flip through old journals and diaries, they would always start the same way, almost verbatim: “I’m feeling so depressed and worthless again…”  Then, I would fill pages with just how horrible life was and how horrible I was.  I haven’t written about my depressive episodes anymore.  I don’t write while I’m in a depressive episode anymore.  It it so much easier for me to release and move through it without dwelling.

2. I eat a lot of fat.  Yep, I said it.  Olive oil, yes, but mostly coconut oil, palm oil, pork fat, beef lard, egg yolks, coconut milk, avocado, macadamia nuts and I see you over there, butter!  I eat fat at every meal.  Since I shifted to eating this way, my mood has been incredibly even.  Fat = happiness to me.

3.   I don’t eat sugar.  I am mostly consistent with this.  I will have days where I have more fruit than others, and every once in a while, I’ll have a slice of flourless chocolate torte, but in general, I don’t eat sugar.  I can’t pat myself on the back enough for taking this decision and changing my behavior.  For years, I was stuck on the feel low-eat sugar-feel high-crash lower-eat more sugar-feel not quite as high-crash even lower cycle.  It takes a while to break the cycle, but the steadiness I feel in myself is so worth it!

4.  I go outside.  Every day.  As much as I can.  I am a heliophile.  I, in a weird paradox, don’t like the heat, but bright sunlight?  Yes, please.  The light is important to my mood, certainly, but it’s so much more than that.  The corners and flatness of inside affect my mood.  I crave curving tree branches and the kisses of the breeze.  I need to smell grass and pines and other things that I can’t quite identify.  All of it.  There is something so ‘internal’ about staying inside that pushes me deeper inside my brain.  This is not a good thing for me.  I need to be reminded that life is going on all around me and that I am part of the world as a fleshy, sensory creature engaged in the beauty that is.

5.  I have learned to distinguish between listening to my depression and obeying my depression.  My depression and I no longer pretend the other doesn’t exist.  We discuss things.  This sounds a little cuckoo, but what I mean by this is that my depression is one part of me and the healthy adult that I now give the most permission to run the show, is another part of me.  When my depression rises up in any way, no matter how small, that is a sign that in some way, I’m not taking the best care of myself.  (This is how depression becomes an ally, by the way.  It signals that deeper, more comprehensive self-care is needed.)  But, I do not OBEY my depression.  Often, my depression will rise and tell me to isolate myself.  This usually means that I have not been caring for my relationships well enough and that that part of my life needs some nurturing.

6.  I express my anger.  One of my pet peeves is the delineation between “negative” emotions and “positive” emotions.  This is a horrible disservice that we do to ourselves.  You don’t have good emotions and bad emotions.  You just feel things.  Some are uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s okay.  (The discomfort comes more from what society deems appropriate for the occasion then the actual emotion, by the way.  Laughing at a funeral is just as uncomfortable as crying bitterly at a wedding.)  Anger is a wonderful emotion!  Here are the rules of anger: a) express it without hurting yourself and b) express it without hurting others.  The best way that I’ve found to express my anger is to say: “I’m angry.”  And, then, try to figure out why.  Nearly always, it is because a boundary of mine has been crossed somehow.  It is valuable information to deepen relationships, both with myself and with others.  Then, I use the energy  that anger gives me to do something about what made me angry.

7.  I have one religion and my god is sleep.  My dad always used to say, “Sleep is sacred.”  I inherited that belief.  It has taken me a long time to find the right amount of sleep.  When I don’t sleep enough, I am priming the pump for all sorts of depressing hormones to flush through me.  When I sleep too much, I disengage from life and the melatonin never gets a chance to get out of my system and all sorts of depressing hormones flush through me.  Right now that it is winter, I need a solid 9 hours to 9 1/2.  During the summer, I scale it down to 7 1/2 or 8.  That is where the goodness lives.

8. (How awkward…a list of eight things.  Why does that feel funny?)  I move.  Nothing has ever been as effective as a daily pick me up as movement has been for me. I don’t call it exercise because it doesn’t have to be structured training, I just need to move.  I usually combine the going outside and moving thing.  I’m efficient that way.  I walk or run or dance or do push ups or yoga or just pose like an elephant.  It doesn’t matter as long as its dynamic.  Again, this takes me out of the labyrinth of my brain and brings me back to the rest of me….the part that knows how to take the lead in the dance.

These are my methods of managing my depression.  If you are depressed, I would suggest that you go see a therapist or psychiatrist to make sure that you don’t need medication.  There’s NO shame in that.  It happens to the very best of us.  If you’ve found ways of your own to dance with your depression or your (fill in the blank with whatever your challenge is), I’d LOVE to hear about it and about you!

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Nourishing ourselves into freedom!

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Reader Question-Meal management

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A while ago, I wanted to know what people were wanting to know.  This was my very first question that came back and I LOVE it.  So often, we pretty much know what to do, but the how can seem a bit mysterious and out of our point of reference.  How DO I nourish myself without being chained to the kitchen or grocery store?  For someone as busy as this (and who isn’t in one form or another these days?), I hope that my suggestions are helpful.

 What up Jenny?! I love reading your posts. I have been trying to grapple with time management in regard to meals. I want to eat fresh foods in abundance, but I work like 50 hours a week at least and walk everywhere. I don’t seem to be getting the calories I need because my energy level is kaput when it shouldn’t be.

 Also — f*$king grocery shopping. How to tackle gathering food from huge stores. I am okay in a market, but I can’t always go there. I hate that when I go to a grocery store, I am wandering through aisle of *boxes* and *bags* of food.  I want to emphasize how helpful I find your posts even if I don’t respond. Keep them coming!  -Jimmi

This is a two part question but they do overlap a little so I will do my best to answer them both.  

The first part is about time and meal management.  I am going to run on the assumption that I am writing for anyone who eats at least on the spectrum of ovo-lacto vegetarianism to full-on carnivory.  (For the record, I find veganism too dogmatic and too unhealthy a lifestyle to maintain for any length of time.)

Part One: Meal Management 

1. First to the organized individual who likes charts and graphs and routines, this will be a fun opportunity to get your spreadsheets out.  Plan your meals.  Set aside an hour a week and decide what you will eat that week while keeping an eye on the rest of your schedule.  If Monday you are running from the crack of dawn until the moon stretches into the sky, you will need to plan some portable food.  If you have a little time Wednesday night and want to actually cook, plan for something warm and simple.  

2. Learn to make things portable.  Muffin tins are useful to cook egg “cupcakes”. (Note: the recipe I linked to is a GUIDE. You can mix these puppies up any ol’ way you like.)  Make a batch on Sunday and they are there for the whole week.  Keep some jerky or mixed nuts in your bag.  Make smoothies that you can grab on your way out the door.  Chop up a bunch of veggies at the beginning of the week and keep them in the fridge.  During the week, you can grab some to have on the go with cheese or sliced roasted turkey (check the ingredients at the deli so you don’t get anything not turkey).  Sheets of nori are your new best friend.  Make some tuna salad or egg salad and roll it in the nori for little meals on the go.  These can also be used in anyway that people use tortillas but with no gluten gut.  

3.  Invest or dust off your slow cooker.  There’s NOTHING like dropping a couple chicken thighs, some of your chopped veggies, some spices and a little broth into the cooker in the morning (takes two minutes if you’ve prepped the veggies earlier in the week), turning the dial to “on”, going about your day, and when it’s over and you walk in to your house, there’s a HOT DINNER waiting for you.  (Yes, that sentence ran on and on and on.)  This is something I resisted for a long time but merci me, I LOVE mine now.

4. Boil a bunch of eggs.  Do between a six to a dozen once a week.  Pair it with a fruit and some almonds and fantastic meal on the go! Or make some egg salad.  

5. If you’re uber -organized, take 2 hours one day of the week and prepare breakfasts and lunches for the whole week.  Remember that if you base the meals around proteins and fats, you will feel fuller for longer.  That means that a salad is good but a salad with some leftover roast beef and several glugs of olive oil is much, much better.  Use either ziplocs or little containers that you’ve collected or purchased (salsa jars even work!) and fill them with a meat or egg, some veggies, and some fat.  Spice it to your hearts content and smack it in the fridge.

6. If you are completely disorganized, stock your kitchen.  The pantry should have olives, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, nuts, coconut milk and spices.  Fill your freezer with frozen vegetables and various ground meats.  Your fridge can be stocked with eggs, butter,  some fruit, guacamole (seriously….a staple) and full fat plain yogurt.  In the morning, fry a couple eggs in plenty of butter and eat some fruit.  Or put some fruit and yogurt in a cup and go.  Or make a smoothie with coconut milk, raw egg yolks, and a piece of fruit.  Grab a handful of nuts as you head out the door and some leftovers.  At dinner, do a one skillet meal.  Brown a meat, add a package of frozen vegetables, and some spices.  Make a double portion so you have lunch tomorrow.  

Now for the second part of the question, Part Two: F$&king Grocery Shopping

Let me begin by saying, I am so picking up what you are throwing down!  One can, if not careful, walk in through the sliding doors and emerge hours later bleary-eyed and downtrodden with nothing to show for it but a couple large bags of marshmallows and a frozen pizza.  Yes, I know it’s not delivery, but it’s not really FOOD either.

Any good battle worth its salt has a worthy opponent.  Behold, the mighty grocery store.  And, any great victory requires two things: 1. Know your foe and 2. Have a strategy.

These are the things that you want to know about your nemesis:

1.  The layout.  Here’s the thing.  Anything, with the exception of oils, worth going into your cart and subsequently into your body is found around the edges of the store.  All the produce, dairy, and meats will hug the boxes and bags of “food” that form the bulk of the store.  I NEVER wander the aisles.  There is NOTHING there for me or for you.  (It must be worth noting because I typed in all caps so I’m kind of YELLING those two words.)  I used to have to wander into the aisles to get olives but now just about every store has an olive bar also around the perimeter.  So, I don’t have to get a jar of the same kind of olive nor am I restricted in the quantity.  If I just want two olives, one of garlic stuffed green and one oil cured kalamata, I can do that.  So, back to the layout.  Your individual store may have the really good raw milk cheeses presented in a slightly different place than the crap cheese.  Know this.  Find out where the sale meat is hiding.  All of this stuff will still be the perimeter, but a reconnaissance mission is a good idea.  And, know which row the olive oil is.  Also, if you don’t want to be chopping vegetable in all your free time, know where the frozen vegetables are.  You may have noticed that I didn’t mention spices.  Please, for all that is fiscal, save your pennies to buy spices at a place that sells them in bulk.  They will be better, cheaper, and again, better.

2. When is the store the quietest?  You may not have a whole lot of leeway in your schedule but if you find out that Wednesdays at 2:00 the store is dead, schedule your shopping for then.  Or, do a Tuesday evening run.  This will be highly dependent on your area, but it’s VERY valuable information.  (See those caps?)

Then, the strategy.  Prepare yourself with a list.  Make sure that your list restocks the pantry if you have run out of any of the basics.  Smear some warpaint on your face, gird your loins, stretch your hamstrings.  I promise you that you can be in and out in less than thirty minutes once you know your store and have a plan.  I can walk you through mine.

1. Wearing a ninja costume, I hit the produce first.  (Again a meal plan is so helpful!)  I grab green things, some bright colors, and then something that I haven’t tried before.  (This last category is now so narrow that a regular grocery store can’t fulfill it.)

2. Then, I sneak over to the sale beef.  Then to the meat counter.  If I’m feeling like a high roller, off to the seafood counter.  

3. Then, the dairy.  Eggs (I urge you to always have at least a dozen on hand.  I can go through two dozen in a week, no problem.) and butter and if you do yogurt, grab the full fat plain and some whole milk if you do that.

4.  I swoop up the oil aisle if I need any.

5.  Pay.  If I haven’t spoken to anyone yet today, I go through a regular register.  If I’ve fulfilled my societal quota of small talk, out the self scan I go.  

Done.  Yes, it really is that easy.  I promise.  Thanks so much, Jimmi, for the question.  I really hope this helps!  Nourish yourself into freedom!

If you have any questions or comments, I would LOVE (Jenny…shhhhhhh already.) to hear them below.  Or find me on facebook.

 

 

same but different

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I like to get feedback from my clients.  Yesterday, I found this waiting in my inbox.  I have the best clients in the whole wide world.  I currently have a couple open slots for distance coaching (Skype!).  Together, we can have the same results as far as your satisfaction but totally different because you are a different person with your own unique life.  

“Thursday 1:00 pm.  Every week for 3 months, I would rush to my computer for my precious Coaching appointment.  This week, instead, I’m having lunch : carrot soup cooked with homemade broth, coconut milk and cultured butter,  plantain chips, cooked in palm oil and no chemicals added, and trying cod liver.  I am also admiring the beautiful yellow flower that blossomed this morning in my room, close to my bed.

It started in my backyard.  We were seating on a colorful warm blanket, on the grass.  I was asked to briefly connect with my 5 senses.  Then, we moved to skype appointments to shorten the distance.

My feedback: Life changing and down-to-earth. Health and Connection.  Empowering, personalized, logical.  Really Nourishing Freedom !!!

I come from 20 more years of therapy, coaching and personal development workshops.  Anorexia, anxiety, depression, burn-outs, workaholism, perfectionism, control, isolation….are all in my resume.  And all the professionals that I had paid before had told me that the real remedy is to “practice self-love, connect with my inner child and take care of my self”.  Okay, I always responded.  But in my head the question remained “HOW do I f….g do  that” ?

It is so concrete, simple and natural!!!! Sleep well, eat well, have fun, breathe, relax, spend time with people that you love or that you can have fun with, spend time outside close to trees, water, the sky and the sun.  Yes, that is Self-Love-inner-child-care.  Taking care of my physical body, of my real needs as an animal-human-being.

And that answer to me IS life changing.  Nobody had taught me that before Nourishing Freedom.  And nobody had taught me the concepts of Freedom, Connection and Power in a way that I could understand and experience.

So, I learned the abc’s of sleep.  Quantity and quality.  Then, to eat for nourishment and pleasure.  To know what my body likes and doesn’t.  Sugar makes me tired and depressed, gluten or corn make be bloated, red clover flowers ease my PMS symptoms, broth-soup comforts and nourishes me.   We, focussed on specific herbs and tools to heal the symptoms of chronic stress and to break free from stressful lifestyle habits.  I went from workaholism to working part-time as an aerobic teacher in outside parks.  Gettingg paid to have Fun! Nature! and more time with my kids !

My kids ? The greatest bonus of it all.  Their health was transformed throughout my nourishing freedom journey.  They went from candy eaters to loving eggs, bacon, meat, soups, vegetables, almond butter.  As a result, these cranky-pale kids turned into joyful, energetic thick-colored-skin children.

The greatest transformation for me ? Besides my eating habits which do change EVERYTHING (my thoughts, my mood, how I love my kids) was  discovering my connection with nature and the deep impact on myself.   Walking barefoot in the wild, spending even 20 minutes lying on the grass or working along the river, feeling safe in the middle of nowhere in the mountains …is for me ABUNDANCE.  The real gift of being alive.

Am I now a 24-hour happy and perfect person? NO. Do I now everything about health ? NO. Is the sexual abused part of me healed forever? NO.  I am still this “special-needs-kid” who will always need to take care of herself and make choices to avoid certain uncomfortable symptoms and stay healthy.  I will still go through the gray clouds of life, the storms, rains, earthquakes, ….as well as the sunny days and full moon nights.   The difference lies in the sensation of freedom, connection and power.  Having the tools to take care of my REAL self = my body.  Being able to enjoy this variety of experiences.

Concretely, I am still focussing on decreasing anxiety, building a solid community, playing and nourishing myself every day.  But, now I have enough knowledge to continue the journey by myself.  Some wisdom to choose what I read, to stop believing most of the things people say and to instead trust everything my body says.

I also know that I can contact my favorite inspired Health and Lifestyle Coach if I need to.”  -Larissa G.

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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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