Soul Food: January Recommendations

Nutritional NourishmentBread of Life

When it’s Soup season, and in moderation, there is nothing like a crusty-on-the-outside, soft-and-fluffy-on-the-inside chunk of bread! I have used the above recipe countless times and love to change it up by adding herbs ad different citrus elements to experiment. You can do this with any flour to stick with your dietary needs and it works well. Only thing you need is a heavy duty dutch oven or cast iron heavy lidded pot to bake it in. We haven’t been having much of a ‘deep winter’ but it’s a good recipe to have in your box for when those days arrive.

Educational EnlightenmentAwakening from the Daydream ~ David Nichtern wears some interesting hats: songwriter and composer for television, he already holds my interest with his skill and talent to tap into emotions through music which he uses to tell a story. I have a deep appreciation for artfully scored film and he fosters this wonderfully. He is also a Buddhist teacher and meditation teacher. His latest book, digests the Buddhist painting The Wheel of Life which from our modern culture can be a little tough to fully comprehend as it deals with ancient text and imagery. The concepts of the painting, however, are not unlike much of the Christian based theology I was raised hearing (and again, not fully connecting to due to the language and context).

What David manages to do is take these principles and ideals and apply them to our current culture, our modern life and our own versions of suffering and samsara. I am not finished with the book and very excited to continue.  It is, believe it or not, a page turner!

“Imagine yourself deeply asleep in a dormitory filled with everyone in the whole world. From way down inside your darkness, you hear a voice sweetly calling your name… ‘Hey! My friend, time to get up. Time to get up. Come out and play!’ You slowly open your tired eyes a little and see the smiling face of your friend calling to you. That is this book, calling out to wake us from our dreamy slumber.”Krishna Das, kirtan vocalist (one of my first and favorites <3)

As much as I am looking forward to having this baby sooner rather than later, a wonderful positive to waiting would be the chance to attend Nichtern’s lecture and book signing at Empowered Yoga this upcoming Tuesday, January 31st. Even if I cannot attend for obvious reasons, I strongly encourage you to attend if you have any interest in this sort of thing at all.

Musical Meditation: ~ Stumbled across this enchanting and empowering tribal music. This Polish Polyphonic gem has a mix of magic from a number of Eastern European regions.  I love more primal sounds as I near labor and delivery and use chanting as a way to release tension, emotions and physical discomfort during birth. This time around I have been tapping into that a bit sooner since my physical practice has been so limited. There’s a gorgeous video of one of my favorite tracks from the album here .

Cinematic Catharsis : Arrival ~ I’ve been trying to steer clear of emotionally charged or triggering films this last trimester. I had a pretty lengthy ugly cry that may or may not have lasted for over a half hour watching The Light Between Oceans a few weeks ago, and the day after couldn’t hold it together watching Finding Dory for the 12th time (I mean really?!). So I felt confident with a safe Sci-Fi alien pick that looked promising with some in depth looks at the way language is understood by our brains. I am kind of a geek about language and love learning more and more about their origins and application. I was a little disappointed when the lead character opened up her lecture about Portuguese origins and their start in Galicia only to be interrupted by the Aliens landing. Kidding, sort of, I wouldn’t have minded listening to the lecture. The film was really wonderful, but it was absolutely NOT safe for pregnant/hormonal women, just a warning. The first 2 minutes of the film takes you through the life of the lead character which includes both birth, love and loss (Insert immediate session of ugly crying).

What makes this deceptively Independence Day-esque film so Cathartic: Just watch it. The aliens themselves are actually just background for the real message and plot of the film. The way in which we perceive the world around us, including our limited grasp of time and connection. It really gets to the heart of what very well may be broken within our connection to each other as a species, and how if we only could open up past our own short-sided vision we could see the greater picture of our intended Oneness. Not only that, it even approaches how differently we might act towards one another.  Yeah, shit gets deep.  Highly Recommend … unless you are growing, holding, or nursing a human baby… and even if you’re a little extra hormonal.  Then just queue it up for a later time.

Only critique : Wouldn’t have minded a little more Jeremy Renner on screen, just sayin’.

Pat on the back: Amy Adams is perfection in her role for sure and keeps you engaged fully.

Best Line in the film: “Ask him the Sanskrit Word for War and it’s meaning” … later explained as “Quora : a Desire for more Cows” — This line alone gets to the heart of the message before you can even understand where its going, hooked me right then and there.

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Easiest, Effortless, Vegan Quinoa Chili (nom nom)

Some nesting surges have started, this week primarily with having a stocked kitchen with nutritious food, and a freezer full of meals ready to go. Jokingly as I leave Trader Joe’s each week we remark how this could be the last checkout for a while.

While this pregnancy has had me a bit drained and uninspired for most of it when it came to cook and prep, the surge I’m having this week is definitely a sign of ‘getting ready’ for arrival of our new teammate <3

So while yesterday was a full day in the kitchen on feet with huffs and sighs, it was an inspired mini marathon of chopping, sautéing, and stirring I happily enjoyed. I even made it through the day without a nap to refuel before teaching 2 classes that evening, success!

So out of all of that work, I wanted to share what will certainly become a staple for the next few months as the hands down easiest and comforting chili recipe I’ve happened upon in a long time. I am a huge fan of vegetarian chili and have used quinoa as a substitute for meat in my mexican and chili dishes for a long time to give it that chunky, heartiness along with boost of protein. This time though, being able to toss everything in the slow-cooker without any pre-cook was hallelujah worthy!

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Vegan Quinoa Chili

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1.5 cups Adzuki Beans (soaked overnight, rinsed, drained) (can also use canned red kidney beans)
  • 1 cup red pepper, chopped (about 1 large pepper)
  • 1 cup roma tomato, chopped (about 2 tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped (about 1/2 large onion)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin (I admittedly use more I have a cumin addiction)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (easier life=can use powdered garlic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (This is a mild recipe, for more kick, add more and chop up a pepper or two)
  • 2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth

Options for garnish

  • shredded cheddar cheese or vegan shreds for garnish
  • fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Plain Greek Yogurt/ or Sliced Avocado

Directions

  1. Lightly grease slow-cooker (I use avocado oil)
  2. Place the uncooked quinoa, corn, beans, red pepper, tomato, onion cumin powder, garlic, salt, pepper and adobe sauce inside, stirring until well combined.
  3. Pour in in the vegetable broth, stir well, and cover the pot.
  4. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Mine was perfect at 3 hours, so check it and make sure the quinoa isn’t burning.
  5. Once cooked, season to taste with additional salt and pepper and garnish with your choice of garnishes.

Notes

  • I preferred the quinoa with 1 ½ tablespoons of adobo sauce, because I like a little bit of kick. If you’re very sensitive to spice, I would go with one tablespoon. However, when trying to appease smaller palates, you can go with less.

Makes it all worth it <3

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Grieving the validation of Oneness

I am not writing this to be snarky or comical (for once). Half of America is grieving right now, and the last time we had an 8-year run of so meone half the country was not happy with, America grieved then too. Both sides of the polarity we have established here have had to go through this process and let’s be honest about the fact that some of us handled it better than others. What we don’t need to do is be aggressive or condescending about it, we can agree that this has happened before, it is happening now, and it has to run its course. We can probably also agree that our connection though social media/technology has made these demonstrations of emotion that are not new, nor novel, feel like huge shifts in our culture. Before, people handled their grief in private or in small groups, but this is the world we live in today. Today you can find thousands, millions even, of people to bounce energy from and feed from theirs in a way that seems exaggerated.
I think so many of us are  grieving the idea that we were coming closer to destroying the Illusion of Separateness and Realizing the Truth of Our Oneness. Please, let’s not allow that disappointment create even more separateness between us.
 5 Stages of Grief
  1. Denial – I think we can all (even some of us who voted for him) relate to the feeling of “this has go to be some sort of joke?”  I personally don’t even think Donald Trump was fully prepared to win this election, if you are a conspiracy type, then you probably see the whole thing as an insanely ironic joke to the orchestrators of the election conspiracy.
  2. Anger – This is where many Americans are today that are out demonstrating and forgetting the peaceful part. Anger is a pretty visceral form of emotion that stems from fear so it usually can be the most destructive. Searching for people to blame is very often a big part of this. When Obama was elected the extreme grievers wanted to discredit the man’s record, his (to this day) undeniable kindness and diplomatic reach, and his qualifications stating he was “only elected because he’s black”. Today, the mourning in this stage are crying out that anyone who could ‘allow this to happen’ is automatically a bigot, rapist, etc. For those that live from fear and in their every day on either side, these feelings will remain …. but for the rest, these reactions will pass and dissolve.
  3. Bargaining – My version of bargaining was going back to bed every hour from 3:30am-8:30am when I finally peeled myself out of bed. I kept telling myself that if I just went back to sleep, the numbers would be different (and correct) when I woke up. There are many Americans trying to create a discussion about the electoral college, petitioning, etc, this is a very normal and common phase of grief.
  4. Depression – This has hit some already. I was fortunate to go through my grieving process in the matter of about 24 hours, but the depression  was real. I thought about not teaching my 4 scheduled classes that day, I wanted to be in bed, I spent the day on the internet making it worse. I felt tired and hungover, and I’m 6 months pregnant so it wasn’t alcohol consumption… I know a lot of the country had to deal with their depression along WITH a hangover that morning.
  5. Acceptance – When it happens it’s like a wave that rolls across you. I almost feel it like when you step out onto the beach on a windy day and you feel that first gust of sea air and close your eyes to really take it in. It’s calming and settling and you don’t really realize how disrupted you were feeling until you experience it. As this happened within me I just began to look at the awareness rocking our country and our world right now and decided there is a fundamental difference between giving up and trusting the process.
So where does this leave us? I feel it has left us more inspired to create real, lasting, and provocative change that we might not have been fighting as hard for individually as we are today. There has always been great conflict that has had to come before progress and in order to build anything that stands you have to demolish where you plan to begin building your foundations. The collective desire to abolish hate that has risen out of this should pave the road to kindness and more awareness of understanding each other.
This part is up to each one of us as individuals, no one can change the heart of men & women unless they are working on their own.
So maybe we can take some time, listen to our very own hearts and begin to abolish any fear, anger or hatred that resides there no matter how justified it appears to be at face value. Let us peacefully stand up for kindness without condescension or judgment and work from a place of Love and Patience.
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The sky isn’t falling, the rain falls because it needs to.

This morning in the wake of what I was sure was a dream, after all of the buildup there was certainly a release that had to happen. It came, after the shock came the frustration and finally some tears that had to be released, not because “my candidate” didn’t win.  In all honesty after Bernie stepped aside I didn’t have a candidate of the heart, but I did the work and the research and made a clear and concise decision to honor my country and beliefs regardless.
 
All concerns aside, my tears were for this country and its division, but from those tears came clarity: This nation is very unique with how vast and expansive the population and diversity, and yet privileged in so many ways that most of it’s population can’t even begin to fully appreciate because it is so isolated geographically. So I can, with some pause, have the perspective that a truly unified nation here is going to be seriously difficult to accomplish, and the reason for that is that we still possess the freedoms to express and act from our beliefs, opinions, heads, guts or hearts and for that I am grateful.
 
Fear was the largest emotion at play in this election and that is something I really had to tap into and be honest with myself about, it wasn’t until that realization that I could make my vote with a clear conscience and feel good about it. The best way I can help the people placed in my life (which really is the actual point of it all isn’t it?) is to keep working from Love, Compassion and not from Fear.
 
I am guilty of getting caught up in the sharpness of the intellectual obvious, and that is still as it all is a matter of perspective. I’m also a sucker for sharp wit and satire and let’s be honest, this election was a golden age for the expression of that!
 
Every Day is a choice to live from fear or love. For the sake of my children and the people I’ve been blessed to meet in this life I’m going to work to choose Love. We can get into the habit of asking ourselves why a reaction or emotion comes up it can very easily be whittled down to two root emotions: Fear or Love. Once the awareness of that becomes a natural part of our process, we can live more truthfully with ourselves and each other. 
Give yourself the space this week to pause and reflect and search for the root of your feelings about what is happening in the world, you might surprise yourself how your perspective changes, or your heart softens just a little <3
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Our walk for Standing Rock

Today we gathered to recognize and take pause to consider our connection to our home. The events going on at the Standing Rock Souix reservation have been a tug in my heart bringing awareness and desire to learn more about the decisions we keep making that have impact on our environment. Coincidentally, the documentary Before the Flood made its debut you can watch for free on Youtube here.

The very first thing we focused on was removing any heat or anger from our hearts about how we got here, or what failures have lead us to where we find ourselves today. By doing this we remove blockage and create space in our hearts and minds to channel our energy in a positive way. Next we opened up a bit and moved through some grounding postures, aligning our bodies with our breath and connecting to the ground beneath us, while tuning into the sounds around us and taking in our space. From there a mindful walk quietly taking in the changing landscape, the trees doing their beautiful thing they do in autumn.

 

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We stopped for a short meditation practice, using the Shambhala technique of mindfulness meditation, just becoming aware of our presence. We talked a bit about the experience and I sat in awe of our little Yogi Rosie who is just now in first grade and how quickly she took to the practice of being still and present. Feeling the sun on our faces with the sounds of the leaves in the breeze is so much sweeter when fully enjoyed in stillness.

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I was extremely delighted to meet two educators that just so happened to join us and just so happened to be teachers at the high school I graduated from. It was absolutely refreshing to have educators, therapists, mothers and children come together for something a little outside of their every day and bigger than themselves. I feel honored to be connecting with like-minded people from all backgrounds and beliefs.

Our practice concluded with some postures more on the restorative and opening side, feeling the earth beneath our backs and taking in the sun shining through the trees. Finally in our final resting pose we collectively listened closely and enjoyed some of the beautiful writings of David Anthony Martin a friend and favorite poet of mine. Somehow his work always finds it’s way into my heart and out from there shared through these events.

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All the information you need regarding the Dakota Access Pipe-line and how to support Sioux people, the Missouri River, the Farmers and Land in its wake is available here:

http://sacredstonecamp.org

 

Sign the Petition 

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Soul Food : November Recommendations

Nutritional Nourishment: Asian Pears for Respiratory relief ~ An ancient remedy for cough and mucus season

Educational Enlightenment: Before the Flood ~ Leo DiCaprio's magnum opus, taking his march for mother earth and putting it in a package everyone should take some time to watch.

Musical Meditation: Before the Flood ~ Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross have once again given us something undeniably theirs and remarkably wonderful. Trent has never disappointed and his collaborations with Ross have been proof of continued growth and development in his craft. It doesn't hurt that so much of the album seamlessly transitions into the Yoga room either 😉

Cinematic Catharsis : Captain Fantastic  ~ Matt Ross brings us an engaging story of a family off the grid and delivers a beautiful message of balance rather than extremes regardless of intention. Viggo Mortensen is intense and engaging, the writing is superb and flawlessly captures the flawed dimensions of it's characters.

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