Learning Self-Love

“Self-love is the biggest service you can provide humanity.”

I recently discovered that my 6-year-old daughter, who I thought was really helpful at cleaning her room, just shoves toys, dirty laundry, shoes, and books under her little sister’s bed. I lifted up the mattress and found all kinds of goodies begging to be put where they rightfully belonged.

Now you’re going to ask me what does a child’s dirty room have to do with self-love? Well, how many of us shove our issues into some compartment where we can’t see them? Where they are easier to avoid? Where they lay forgotten? Where they collect dust and become unrecognizable? I bet we all do.

In recent months, I have chosen to clean under my bed, uncover all my issues. When I pulled out all the bad memories, hurt feelings and negative emotions, I wanted to turn around and kick it all back under the bed. But why? They’d still be there waiting to be found another day. I couldn’t. I had reached a point in my life where I was ready – or at least I wanted to be – I wanted to heal; I wanted to face my fears; I wanted to experience joy that resonated with God’s love – not a new job, a significant other, or pretty new shoes. I craved purpose, joy and meaning that came from me.

It’s a challenging journey. And I’m getting there. It took a lot of courage to sit in a pile of problems. Sometimes I wanted to curl up and sob. The room was too messy. The hurt too much. But why? I learned that I hadn’t thought myself worthy, deserving, good enough or lovable. Those are hard things to process. In that moment I discovered the part I played in my unhappy moments, my dysfunctional relationships, my failures.

And I’ll tell you, it’s so much easier to love someone else than it is to love myself. We are our worst critic; our toughest competitor; our worst enemy. But I’m working on it. Some  days it feels selfish. Because choosing to say, “No,” for no other reason than “I don’t feel like that works for me” is really hard for me. I like to make people feel good; I like to heal people; I like to be there for others. And I can still do that. But I realized that I cannot continue to sustain a healthy being if I do this at the cost of my own schedule, my own dreams, and my own love. Loving ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s actually a love that brings us closer to God because it aligns us with our higher purpose, which is to be a witness to God’s love. If we love ourselves, we love others more easily without judgement, without expectations, without playing games. And that is the healing magic of self-love.

What does self-love looks like?

It’s different person to person. For me, self love is:

  • Climbing a tree because I want to. And not being afraid as I rise higher into the canopy. This is living in the present moment and such a healthy practice.
  • Surfing by myself. I have four daughters. I rarely do anything alone, so choosing to do something alone feels very selfish to me. But surfing is so healing, and something I need.
  • Sitting alone in the early morning, drinking coffee, and meditating. Silence is a rare and precious gift in my house. I take it when I can.
  • Dancing. I love to dance. My kitchen is usually my ballroom; it’s where I listen to sexy Latin dance music. It’s where I can get silly with my girls and transform my tile floor into a ballet stage.
  • A bubble bath. This is a place where I create stories and poetry.

So, today I challenge you to take a moment to create space for a little self-love and self-care. You deserve it! And if you have the courage, clean from under your bed. Things will be messy, but eventually everything gets put right where it belongs.

“Live for yourself and be happy on your own. It isn’t any less beautiful. I promise.”

Meet Kelli

I’d like to feature the lovely ladies working behind the scenes with me for the women’s soul retreat, The Sisterhood Within. As a co-creator, I am happy to be working with these women, who each bring their own perspective and gifts to this vision. My final feature is Kelli Varon. (If you missed Jessica, Sydney, Lori or my feature click here.) Read Kelli’s story and then visit our event site for more details on this amazing retreat opportunity! I hope to welcome new women to my life in the fall!

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Kelli grew up climbing trees, caring for critters, and exploring the unique Everglades and Coastal ecosystems of Miami, Florida. She quickly discovered what made her happiest in life was new learning opportunities and a constant connection with the environment.

Kelli follows the belief that “education is not preparation for life but is life itself.” After graduating with an emphasis in Experiential Education she has worked to purposefully connect others to direct experience with focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to contribute to their local and global communities.

Kelli’s passion for learning, sustainable practices, and environmental stewardship has lead far from her suburban South Florida upbringing. She has worked as a Youth Event Program Director in Western North Carolina; a Naturalist and Program Coordinator in Mendocino, California; and as an Educator and Outdoor Center Program Director in the Delaware Water Gap of New Jersey.

After 10 years in leadership positions, Kelli decided to focus on expanding her personal knowledge in sustainable growing practices. Since then she has volunteered for organic and permaculture farms in the states and abroad, apprenticed at a large organic CSA farm, developed a market garden business, and managed an organic greenhouse operation.

When shes not barefoot in the dirt, researching sustainable growing information or organizing her next travel adventure, Kelli enjoys hiking, developing primitive skills, sunny beach days, and binge watching or reading most anything in the realm of Science Fiction or Fantasy.

Learning to Cook with All that Food from the Garden

I would like to welcome another guest writer, Sydney Wilk. I met Sydney while attending my permaculture design course. She a health coach and creator of Plant Love Wellness. She understands the importance of fueling our bodies with healthy choices. Enjoy her blog!

Since when did eating healthy become so dang complicated?! Counting calories, weighing portions, eating no fat, no carbs, no sugar, high protein, no grains, following the diet of our ancestors, consuming only raw food… the list goes on and on of what you should or should not do when it comes to food. Each new diet trend claims to be better than the next and is the ‘perfect’ and only way you should be eating. The more mainstream these diets become and the more experts that back them, the more credible they seem. And look I’m not discrediting them, but just because a particular way of eating works for you, it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone else, or ANYONE else for that matter. Believe me, I have tried pretty much every diet out there and while they were tolerable at first, I wasn’t able to stick with any of them for more than six months. My issue isn’t with the creation of a new diet to follow, it’s that it claims to help everyone and usually has a strict regiment that you must follow. No one likes being told what to do (honestly they don’t!) especially when it comes to what they decide to put in their mouth every day.

While these diet trends have certainly helped numerous alleviate their illness or gain a six-pack, the best thing you can do to eat healthy is find your own diet that works for you. This likely isn’t going to be some plan that you can follow in a book–although there A LOT of diet books out there. Finding your perfect way of eating is going to involve a good deal of trial and error, and consulting popular nutrition material can be a great sounding board. Though, the key to solving the mystery of ‘what should I eat today’ ultimately begins with listening to your body and noticing how it responses when you ingest certain foods. This method is going to take some time to fully figure out–mostly because there are so many food choices, but it shouldn’t take long to discover a general idea of what works and what doesn’t.

It is a really really good idea to keep a journal (or mental note- if you can remember everything you ate the previous week, I cannot) of the types of foods you eat each week, as well as making a note of how you felt throughout that time. This will allow you to create a food map of which types of food are nourishing you and which you should probably cut back on. If you really want to figure out a sufficient diet quickly working with a health coach, or someone who can hold you accountable, can ensure that you will reach those break-through moments.

I’ve learned that, like most things in life, feeling truly healthy is a journey not a destination. It took me almost ten years to finally find an eating style that suited me and I am still constantly making adjustments. Have fun with the process and don’t get caught up in what is right or wrong. After all, eating nutritious foods is only secondary to keeping healthy (yes, I said it!). You can eat all the kale in the world, but if you are in a career you hate or stuck in an unhappy marriage, you will not experience optimal health. Sure, eating well is an important FACTOR, but it is not the secret ingredient for losing that extra fifteen pounds. Nurturing yourself from the inside out first is when you will see the real transformations take place.

I’m including a couple recipes that have help ME to feel like my most vibrant self, that may be of some use to you as well. And if not, hey that’s okay too! It’s all about the journey anyway.

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Mango-Berry Smoothie Bowl   

serves 1

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen mango chunks

½ cup frozen raspberries

½ cup almond milk or other nut milk

your favorite toppings like sliced almonds, coconut shreds, cacao nibs, fresh fruit, granola

Recipe: Combine first three ingredients into a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, and blend until creamy. You may have to add more milk depending on the thickness desired. Then add toppings and enjoy!

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Eggplant Pasta  

serves 2-3

Ingredients:

2 large zucchinis

2 medium sized tomatoes, diced

1 eggplant, cubed

2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 bunch of greens (romaine or spinach)

¼ cup diced onion (white or yellow)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 TBS pine nuts

1 bunch fresh parsley

1 TSP dried oregano

1 TBS sesame seeds (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

Recipe: Start by turning your zucchini into pasta via a spiralizer and set aside. Then add the minced garlic and onion to a large frying pan on medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes until garlic is fragrant. You can add water, 1 TBS at a time, to prevent garlic and onion from sticking. Add the diced eggplant to the pan along with a couple TBS water and cook until eggplant starts to get tender, but isn’t finished cooking yet. Next, place the zoodles (zucchini pasta) into the pan. The zucchini will release a lot of water while cooking, so be careful to not have too much liquid in the pan beforehand. Stir mixture together, and after a few minutes add the tomatoes. Add the balsamic vinegar and dried seasonings (oregano, salt & pepper, sesame seeds-if using) and combine well. Continue cooking on medium to low heat until eggplant is done and tomatoes have broken down some. When the mixture is done, but still hot, add the greens and stir constantly until they are wilted (this works best with spinach), then remove pan from heat. In a separate sauce pan, toast the pine nuts on high heat until golden brown. Place eggplant pasta onto serving dishes and top with freshly chopped parsley and pine nuts. Dig in!

IMG_0299Sydney graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2018, where she received her certification in health coaching. With her passion for all things food related she started Plant Love Wellness, a health coaching practice that helps women discover how food is affecting all areas of their life. She regularly holds cooking workshops at her local grocery co-op and is in the midst of writing a plant-based recipe eBook. When she isn’t in the kitchen, she is in the garden getting her hands in the dirt or chasing her bite-sized dog around the yard. She currently resides in the horse capital of the world, but thinks she is more suited for a place that isn’t quite so land locked. You can keep up with her food creations and adventures on Instagram or Facebook @ plantlove_wellness

Meet Stephanie

 

I’d like to feature the lovely ladies working behind the scenes with me for the women’s soul retreat, The Sisterhood Within. As a co-creator, I am happy to be working with these women, who each bring their own perspective and gifts to this vision. My fourth feature is me. (If you missed Jessica, Sydney or Lori’s feature click here.) I know you all know a little bit about me, but perhaps you’ll learn something new. Read my story and then visit our event site for more details on this amazing retreat opportunity! I hope to welcome new women to my life in the fall!

Stephanie is the CEO and founder of Pineapple Acres – a holistic healing and educational center. This is a place where she combines spiritual healing and nature. For Stephanie, gardening is not simply about growing plants. Gardening is a chance to reconnect to nature, where she can seek the space to listen to her soul. Stephanie wants to spread this magic through experiences and education in her outdoor classroom. Stephanie has been gardening since she was a little girl. She has experiences in landscaping and is certified in permaculture design. She co-created a children’s gardening club and designs school educational gardens. She recently partnered with a county park to design another children’s garden in the Fall. When she’s not gardening, Stephanie enjoys writing, surfing, cooking, and spending time with her family. She has published several poems and is creating an epic fantasy novel. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a degree in English and an emphasis in Creative Writing. She is also earning certification in meditation, mindfulness, energy medicine and stress management.

Florida Gardening in May

 

It’s soggy here. Very, very soggy. It’s been raining and raining and raining. I’m not going to complain too much about the rain, but with rain comes flooding and mosquitoes. And right now my house has both.

Hurricane season is supposed to begin in June, but Tropical Storm Alberto wanted to get this summer started off with raging waves. So here we are another cloudy day with rain. (Though on a completely non-gardening note: wicked waves equal good surfing – too much for me today as a beginner surfer, but it’s still fun to watch all the more talented surfers rolling with the waves.)

Living in Florida does mean at some point your chances of experiencing a hurricane are pretty good, so we’re going to talk about how to hurricane prepare your garden as the season kicks off.

Hurricane preparation in the garden/yard:

Most people are aware you need to prepare your home for a hurricane, but many people neglect their outdoor area. This is an area that could hold potential hazards in high winds. If winds are high enough you will experience downed trees. If you’re in a coastal are, like I am, you’re going to experience some heavy flooding, so first be prepared to lose some plants.

Other preparations, include:

  • moving potted plants in a more sheltered area (either inside your home or protected by a outdoor structure and fence)
  • move in outdoor furniture or garden decorations
  • move fountains in a sheltered area (I lost a ceramic bowl during Hurricane Irma.)
  • prune dead tree branches
  • tie down newly planted trees
  • be sure to clean drainage areas to allow water to flow

 

May Gardening:

Like I said, it’s been raining, so I’ve been playing inside with garden designs and reading on edible weeds. I’m also designing gardening workshops for my new business, Pineapple Acres. Pineapple Acres is a holistic healing center with educational workshops meant to connect my clients to the healing power of nature. At the moment, I’m also a traveling community garden designer. It works for now, though I’m looking into purchasing my own piece of land eventually. Lots of planning and paperwork this month, but it’s okay…the rain is keeping the gardens happy.

What to plant in the vegetable garden:

We are reaching that time of year when I begin to shut down my annual vegetable garden. It just gets too hot or too wet for most plants. There are still a few hot-weather survivors.

  • cherry tomatoes
  • peppers
  • okras
  • sweet potatoes
  • dasheens
  • yautias
  • calabazas
  • Chayote

What is flowering:

  • Jamaican strawberry tree (I’m getting so many cherries on this tree!)
  • plumeria
  • lantana
  • oleander
  • periwinkle
  • perennial peanut
  • jasmine
  • bouganvallia
  • desert rose
  • marigolds
  • African ginger
  • hibiscus
  • sqauashes
  • watermelon
  • milkweed

Resources:

http://www.southflorida.com/wsfl-home-9-16-hurricane-proof-yard-htmlstory.html

Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.

Meet Jessica

33098920_1675253345923370_1749710843928379392_nI’d like to feature the lovely ladies working behind the scenes with me for the women’s soul retreat, The Sisterhood Within. As a co-creator, I am happy to be working with these women, who each bring their own perspective and gifts to this vision. My third feature is Jessica Jonovski. (If you missed Sydney or Lori’s feature click here.) Read Jessica’s story and then visit our event site for more details on this amazing retreat opportunity! I hope to welcome new women to my life in the fall!

Yoga instructor, novice herbalist, and permaculture nomad, Jessica Jonovski, has practiced yoga for over 10 years and started teaching in 2015. She was first inspired to teach while practicing with the Africa Yoga Project in Kenya, where she came to appreciate and embrace the deeper gifts of the practice: its universal teachings of mindfulness, presence, and love. Through her later adventures studying, teaching, and traveling in India and Southeast Asia, she eventually found herself immersed in the world of permaculture as well. As her connection to her natural surroundings grew, she came to understand that the teachings of yoga and the teachings of plants were undeniably intertwined – each containing a beautiful world of mysteries begging to be explored!

In addition to being a certified yoga instructor (Sampoorna Yoga, India), Jessica is also a Level II Reiki practitioner (Asian Healing Arts Center, Thailand) and has dabbled in herbalism studies (Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism, North Carolina), Thai Massage (Shivagakomarpaj, Thailand), and Vipassana meditation. And, along with the other facilitators, recently earned a Permaculture Design Certificate from Grow Permaculture. When in the US, she resides somewhere between the countryside of Old Florida, the mountains of North Carolina, and her homeland of southwest Ohio.

Jessica is guided by the ancient vedic mantra Soham, meaning “I am that”— a reminder that we are all connected to the same Divine source energy, that our souls are interwoven with one another and with all beings on this earth and beyond. It only makes sense for us to allow nothing but love to flow through them. May all beings everywhere be happy and free!

Meet Sydney

2016-05-05 02.24.01I’d like to feature the lovely ladies working behind the scenes with me for the women’s soul retreat, The Sisterhood Within. As a co-creator, I am happy to be working with these women, who each bring their own perspective and gifts to this vision. My second feature is Sydney Wilk. (If you missed Lori’s feature click here.) Read Sydney’s story and then visit our event site for more details on this amazing retreat opportunity! I hope to welcome new women to my life in the fall!

Sydney Wilk is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the founder of Plant Love Wellness, a health coaching practice dedicated to helping women make lasting lifestyle shifts. During her sessions with clients she guides them to uncover the connections between food and overall well-being. Drawing on her expertise, she creates custom dietary plans based uniquely on the individual needs of each person. She believes that food is truly medicine, and that trusting your body’s intuition is essential for optimal health.

She is a plant-enthusiast, and is involved in a local community garden that provides food desert areas with access to fresh food, as well as small-scale projects around her home. When not surrounded by plants, you can most likely find her practicing yoga, hiking, reading, trying to interpret her dreams, swimming, making nice-cream or exploring new places with her five-pound fur ball, Louis.