I love this life. #operationselfcarelikewhoa

#operationselfcarelikewhoa came from knowing that I needed to heal this deep core lonliness I felt inside. It came from living so many years trying to fill myself with food, with stuff, with babies, with people, with wine, with work.

It came from knowing that for the first time in years I could fly and feel free. Asking for freedom was the hardest thing I've ever done. To ask myself for deep permission to be inside of free no matter what anyone else said or thought.

I got on a plane. That was the beginning of the journey. A plane to a place where I knew I would be wrapped inside of love and cared for but not given permission to remain stuck. (Yep, my friends are spirtual guides and healers!) A place where I would teach at a studio that years ago I had tucked into my visions.

One of the paralyzing parts of my anxiety over the years was that I was scared to do new things. Terrified. Once I started to crack and step inside the truth of my life I noticed the anxiety start to lesson. I was having a panic attack almost daily and suddenly they started to lift. It was sudden and intense. I was hesitant to trust it. I kept breathing and waiting for my heart to go into spasm.


No panic on the plane. I arrived in CA and sat to break bread (corn tortillas) with 9 of my colleagues and friends, some of whom I had never once pulled close and hugged. It was delicious. The women, the words, the food, the nourishment. It was not needy or forced. It was the soulfilling sauce that I crave each day.

And the tomato soup. Seriously, I closed my eyes with some of the bites and made noises of pleasure because it was like heaven, like whoa.

My spirit guides for the trip were magic, Tiffany and Rachel. There was visioning, sparkle lights, red lipstick, Prosecco, oysters, giggles, deep long talks into the night, cozy morning coffees, co-working bliss, beach walks with sand dollars and sunsets, secrets whispered and cried, aha moments, gorgeous food and California bliss.

#operationselfcarelikewhoa was in full swing and my belly felt joyful. I found I could eat almost anything and my belly didn't hurt. I was feasting on pure love for allowing myself to fill up without guilt. Without guilt. Without worry. Without regret.

I have been saying for years that people think I teach self care and that never rang true for me. And maybe in some ways I was, but my work has been formed around finding your truth. That deep truth of how you want to feel, how you want to move through the world. To know joy.

To thrive in heart-centered biz bliss. And this was is my journey. It doesn't happen in 5 days, it is a long, thoughtful process that weaves itself through your life.

The clear next step in my work as in my life is to practice the self care of freedom. Of knowing the peace. The peace.

The next step in the operation for myself was to find space. I want to find space gently. In a way that I can discover I am OK alone, with myself. I made a hotel reservation and packed a bag full of visioning supplies for the night in my own city. The kids went on an amazing adventure with their daddy (his work right now is about connecting, mine space) and filled up in their own way.

To look down on my city and see it with eyes that were all about self care was a beautiful moment. I celebrated dinner with myself and had the most delicious drink with gin and Prosecco and a stuffed salmon that I can't stop thinking about. Lick your lips, oh my god, grab-the-waitress-and-tell-her-whoa kind of salmon.

I did have text support from time to time with sweet friends checking in on me and making sure I was filling up on the joy of being with me. I won't lie, that helped!

The part that felt so real to me was learning that I could make space anywhere I was in the world. I can decide who to spend my energy with, who to share my words with, who to make space with.

I spent time with sadness. The last few months have been intense and led to so many unearthed desires. I spent time feeling it. I watched Castle reruns. Then I pulled out my vision book supplies and spent time with the prompt how do you want to feel inside of your 5 beautiful dreams.

Light, lush, WHOLE, earthy bliss, space and style, fresh stories. Each of those words finding me and becoming a feeling story.


I stepped from the sadness into these feelings that are my gentle force. The 5 beautiful dream's cushions.

I wrote. I started my book. Oh honey, my book. I already see it. The colors, the textures, the words, the soulwork, the prompts. I see it, feel it and then release it. I will let the Universe play with tet feelings. It may be a bit lush and of earthy bliss! My job now is to fill in the words.

About two hours before it was time to go I released. I felt the exhale of the moment. I didn't want to pack up and go. Room service ordered I knew I would be stepping onto the rug and walking out the door. I wanted space to be my company, my partner. My joy.

The process is about learning to feel free and whole and carrying that inside wherever my feet guide me. The process for you is about learning to feel free and whole and carrying that inside wherever your feet guide you.

Beautiful work, yes?

I so love this life.

I love these breaths, this passion, these tattoos, my loves, the way my gorgeous goldfish swim at me each morning when I go to open the curtains. I can hear their noiseless cries for attention in the form of food. I love this life.

Even when it sucks and is raw and the tears and indecisions roll around.

I love this life.


#operationselfcarelikewhoa will soon be hosting an event in Providence so stay close. It is a movement so that the women who have been in the gorgeous positions of nurturing learn how to nurture themselves.

Looking back at you.

I asked Patrick if he remembered the first time he saw me. I knew he did of course because he has told me the story many times. We were both in the theatre department and there was a party at a house out in the woods and all of us were gathering together for rides to the house.

I was coming out of a horrible heart-break but determined to get myself up and dressed and out to this party, the last before summer. I was 18 years old for reference! I started over to the meeting spot and I do remember him sitting in the back of a truck or something. Right about the same time the person who broke my heart showed up. Needless to say I didn't go to the party. I think I ran back to my dorm as fast as I could. Details of the heart-break not shared but I will say it was so completely devestating, even as I look back on it. I can't believe such a young soul had to be inside such sadness.

But Patrick will say he saw me and was really pleased I would be at the party. He said he thought I was beautiful but in such a different way than other people. He tells the story with words about how my style and who I was didn't seem the same as other 18 year olds. I wore a scarf every day, huge earrings, layers, hats...

He was bumming that I didn't go to the party.

My sense of self was so strong when I was younger. I remember it. I remember the feeling of being 19. I have always known how deeply our style translates who we are to people faster than words. It was how I communicated with my surroundings. No one was talking about HSP or females with ADD and I had yet to have my first panic attack.

The layers provided me with gentle comfort. The scarves held me grounded. The jewelry centering. I remember I used to come back to my dorm for a nap each day and I would strip off the layers down to leggings and a bodysuit. Oh yes, I said body suit, every day. (It was the 90's!)

As Patrick and I are both seeking healing in our own lives and in our relationship we find it so helpful to look back. To remember. To find the connections not just to our togetherness but to who we were.

To remember what we loved.

To remember what felt good.

To remember what made us laugh.

To remember the kind of people we loved spending time with.

To remember our why-s.

To remember our passion.

To remember our style.

To remember our movements.

Our dance.

Our spirit.

Our me.

At some point, I don't remember quite when, maybe when I got my first job and had to wear a uniform, or when I started to make decisions that went against my heart and gut, or when I was going through that slightly painful decade(s) of growing up - I started to disconnect. I do believe we are born with all of our answers and truths but the journey we are on is how we unearth them. I don't believe that journey is supposed to be free of mistakes or loss or regrets or missteps.

How could we reach these beautiful places without going through the whole emotional scale? The reason I believe in joy so deeply is because I believe in all emotions, all feelings and their validity to our purpose, to our being.

Every time I think how calm and slightly easy my life seems to be something happens. I go into the shake-up, the crazy-making, the lesson-learning, the heart-expanding.

These last 4 or 5 years have been about the journey back to me. Connecting back to the passion of that 19 year old girl in a woman's body with so much less fear. With a confidence that can only come with the seasoning of the soul. I've always felt like an old soul whose mission was to relearn and then guide others once I found the inner wisdom.

What I am asking of you is this:: Look back at you.

Grab yourself at any age where you felt connected and wise and free. When you climbed mountains or went on road trips or ran around on the beach in the nude. Free.

Don't go back and look at your mistakes, you've already grabbed the wisdom from them. Don't focus on regrets, they are spirit eaters. Don't blame. Dear me, don't blame others or yourself. That is baggage for the heart sad. We want heart happy.

That 19 year old wanted her nose pierced and to have tattoos and to live in NYC. She wanted to be madly in love inside of a passionate love affair and no marriage certificate. She desired becoming a mama always. She couldn't remember why she ever put down the guitar or was too afraid to take singing lessons. She always thought about belly dancing. A road trip across the United States made her tingle. She spent so much time thinking about rearranging furniture and going on auditions. She craved time barefoot in gardens and lying in the sun letting the Vit D soak into her skin. She loved making people feel good.

Now at 38 I can go back to her desires and align them with the me now. The strength that has come with the journey allows me to look back at her desires and peek at them next to my desires now. Part of my visioning process comes from her wishes too. She is me. I am her.

Look back at you.

Take the time to remember. Throw out the should-of could-of crap. You are you now.

White space. Beautiful canvas. Emerging feminine. Desirous spirit.



This is about the tattoo.

The picture that confirmed deep inside that I would get a tattoo, actually a series of tattoos, was this gorgeous photo. The class, the boho, the softness, the fierceness. Yes, this is who I truly believe I am in my soul. I felt a kin-ship with this woman I had never met, I felt the calling to express myself and mark time; confirmed in one glance.

So I pinned it. Stared at it. Thought about how I would translate it into my spirit.

I learned everything I know about manifesting from two sources. My vision boards and feathers. I am on the newness of the manifesting realm and every time I find a feather I feel as though I am apprenticing with a master, the Universe, a goddess, a guru. I find feathers because I focus on them, I believe in them, I know that they will show up. My home overflows with them.

The feather is the gift from the bird.

I am not impulsive. I wanted my nose pierced in college and finally did it when I was going through a crazy time in my life, three kids, feeling completely brave and more like myself than ever before. 16 years later.

I thought about this tattoo and if I could really be OK with the permanence for years. I rearrange furniture every month, how could I believe I would still want this marking after a month, or two days? I thought about my friend's tattoo on her wrist. I have loved it since I met her when our first babes were not even 2 years old. I still love it. It is one of my favorite parts of her because it feels familiar, safe, bold and soft all at once. Another friend, mama who entered my world at the same time has my most favorite tattoo that she designed and it extends from the middle of her back out onto her shoulders. It is divine like she is. When I see it I feel her essence even more.

As my 38th year approached Patrick said, "I'm getting you a tattoo for your birthday, so time to decide." Shit. Decide and commit? Not me. A feather, a word, a symbol...back and forth. I kept going back to that beautiful picture of the woman sitting on the bench, smoothing her hair. And then one day I saw the bird. The sweet little sparrow, classic, free, soaring, gentle.

The bird who gives me these lesson in abundance each time I find her feathers.

 A symbol of spirit, connection (my superpower), softness, love, beauty, desire, being fiercely me. I will add a few soft arrow bands around my arm soon to complete the vision I set out to meet. I am proud of my mama self for being brave. Taking a risk. Sitting down with an incredible soul who talked with me about living in the now while he drew my lifelong bird friend on my wrist.

This is the gorgeous life. Feeling so like yourself, opening up new words for the story. Because the story is the best part.

Voices from the tribe ~ Jenny

A love note to The Joy UP from beautiful and loving Jenny who is a constant voice of hope and inspiration in our tribe. If you need someone to hold space, light a candle or send a blessing, Jenny will probably have done so before you even asked. Meet Jenny and the 100 other women in the tribe after signing up for the joy up, which is always pay-what-feels-good.

Please welcome a beautiful voice from the tribe and take a moment to leave a comment down below. It is such a brave thing to share your voice.

I had just finished a cleanse with a someone I had met on Facebook. She happened to post a link to something called a Joy Up. I followed the link, curious. I was in a scary, depressed, anxious place, being in the middle of a divorce from my husband of 15 years, trying to co-parent in healthy way with someone that I could barely look in the face at times, working full time on the night shift, seeing money sift through my fingers like grains of sand and still wondering how I was going to pay this bill or that bill on time.

So back to the link … On the video appeared this radiant pixie with sparkling eyes asking me for 10 days. Can you increase the amount of joy in your life in just 10 days? That was her question. Her challenge. I told myself that I had nothing to lose, and bless her, it was pay what you can, so I signed up.

For some reason at that time in my life, everything seemed to overwhelm me. I know what you’re thinking … How could a simple e-mail once a day for 10 days be overwhelming? Dunno, but it was. I had joined the Facebook group associated with the Joy Up and was meeting some amazing, out of this world, salve to my soul women, especially that little pixie, Hannah!

Yet 6 or 7 days in, it was nagging me that I had yet to read the any of the e-mails or watch any of the videos that Hannah had put her heart and soul into. So I took a couple of hours to myself, went to a coffee shop and caught up. I watched a couple of the videos twice, three times, with tears rolling down my face.

Later, when I confessed to the group how I had gotten behind in the e-mails and what I had done, I was met with love, acceptance, and many echoes of “that’s the way you were meant to do it”, even from Hannah. Wow.

I have never had many friends and some of the ones I did have scattered after my divorce. Just were not there. One was so vocal in her opposition about her deep conviction that I was doing the wrong thing in divorcing my husband and would be sorry later for the damage I was doing to my child. I had the sense a few didn’t know who they “belonged to” – me or him. And a few are still around as long as we don’t discuss the divorce.

When I began to open my heart and soul to these beautiful women in what I have come to call my tribe I realized that such judgment and condemnation for my actions and for me, for that matter, was not universal. It was so incredibly healing. I have done my fair share of seeking out and needing support from the group and as I type this, tears of gratitude are slipping down my cheek remembering so many encouraging words and messages sent my way. But it goes both ways. I would do anything in my physical power for ANY woman in this group.

It seems like almost every day someone in the tribe comes to mind, and I know they must be on my mind for a reason. So I hold them in my heart for the day.

I am living proof that you can increase the amount of joy in your life in just 10 days and proof that JOY can find a home in your heart and not just be a visitor, no matter what your circumstance may be. Thank you, Hannah.

Jenny Parrenin is proud to be the mama to Amelia Grace, the most exquisite, loving, and beautiful human being that I know.  I work nights in an urban hospital-based blood bank and having just turned 40, welcome this new decade with open arms.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  I know it is going to be good!

Food Love Notes

I don't say enough how blessed I am to be able to stay home with my kids and do work I love from my couch, my bed, my table, my mini-van, my attic, my backyard or my favorite coffee shop. Yes, it can be tough stuff on the days when I feel a bit unappreciated or the kids are screaming, but I am so grateful to have a partner who loves the work I do and believes in me, sometimes more than I am able to.

The other day I said something about February not being a month of much income but having so much to do. He said, "Awesome, then you can spend more time creating." That my friends is love.

Patrick does not have a job that he finds terribly fulfilling, and I know that one thing at the end of a long day that he loves is the moment he comes up our front stairs and smells dinner. The meals are my food love notes.

Food can be presented in and with love. Not when we are stuffing ourselves or our kids as a way to fill up, but when we take our time and plan and prepare and infuse the food we make with our love. Fresh ingredients. Spices like notes from a song. Fragrances we want to dance in. Love notes.

I was in a crazy cook everything in the house mood the other day and I roasted a butternut squash. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I made a pie. This is a food love note. Use what you have in the house, that is how I put it together, a little of this, a dash of that.

Butternut Squash Pie, with dark chocolate...oh my!

Pie Crust:

1 cup almond meal
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 Tb olive oil
1 Tb honey
2 Tb dark chocolate chips

Combine meal, salt, baking soda, oil and honey together. Oil a 9 ½ inch pie plate. Press the crust in the bottom, but not up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 and let cool. When cool sprinkle the dark chocolate evenly on the crust.


3 cups of pureed roasted squash, I actually just mashed mine until it was somewhat smooth (this was about 2 small butternut squash)
2 eggs
½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup maple syrup
2 Tb coconut palm sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 Tb vanilla
pinch sea salt

With an electric mixer combine ingredients well. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 350 for about an hour or a bit longer. Mine went for 70 minutes. The pie will set as it cools. This is best to put in the fridge once cooled before cutting.

Enjoy your love note!

Sponsor Tribe Love - Welcome Hope Returns

I set an intention of creating a tribe of women who believed in each other, held space to support each other and who I would love to go have tea with and sit and talk for hours.

Sponsor Tribe Love is a way to share unique businesses and skills from some of this tribe with you. I have so much gratitude for their support.

Meet Virginia Hopkins and Crystal Gadwah Gantz. These two women are very special friends of mine, people who make my life all the more richer. Even though the giveaway is local, I know you will all be inspired by this story of friends creating something wonderful together. Local mamas check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post.

 *** *** ***

hope returns is a children’s resale and gift shop in the Summit neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. hope returns carries gently used children’s clothing newborn to size 10, as well as equipment, books, toys and shoes. hope returns also features handcrafted gifts such as heirloom quality wooden toys, dress up clothing, Peruvian sweaters, and herbal teas designed for Moms and kids. hope returns strives to offer a wide variety of affordable items, not easily found elsewhere, in a fun and kid friendly environment. Our resale inventory is purchased from our customers, fostering a unique and ongoing relationship with both customers and the community.

We are hope returns: Crystal and Virginia, two Providence moms with five young girls between us. In our former lives, we were a Biologist and a Social Worker. Unknown to us at the time, our journey began when we met four years ago as our oldest girls entered Kindergarten together. We were seeking a career that would allow us flexibility to explore and follow our creative passions without compromising the care of and commitment to our families. When word came that an existing children’s shop was available for purchase, hope returns was born. Midnight brainstorming became commonplace as the ideas formed and the plan developed. Two friends became much closer, and the legal contracts sealed the deal. We bought the existing business in July, closed for a month for renovations, and reopened as hope returns in August of 2011.

For the two of us, the equal partnership extends beyond the business. The most compelling aspect of this woman-owned business is the support we are able to offer one another in the raising of our children and in the building of the business. Due to our families’ schedules, we are both the primary caregivers of our children. So, when one is at work, a sick child can be picked up by the other, or carpooling can include several destinations. It is this unwavering support that has made the impossible almost possible: finding the balance between home and work.

hope returns is a baby in the business world; growing and evolving each day. It is a space that is available for browsing, for kids to play, for families to chat and vent and relax. It is a business that we can all feel good about both financially and environmentally.

We are part of our community in a way that we hope to be proud of and to nurture in years to come. And the same goes for our friendship!

Connect with Virginia and Crystal on Facebook

The Hope Returns Website

For today's giveaway of a gift card for $25.00 for all you local mamas, leave a comment and tell us about the benefits of second hand shopping in your lives and if you if you have ever found a real 'gem' second hand. And give Hope Returns some love on their FB page!



The Pain of the Present

A night in the E.R. was a lesson in being present. Patrick and I were talking about how there is no better way to be in the moment, the now, then when you are in pain.

I kept trying to tell myself during the pain that in a few hours I would feel better. The pain didn't care. It kept on and I was in the now with each spasm and what I can only describe as labor pain.

I felt the pain of the present.

I had some sort of bladder infection that reminded me of my second and natural miscarriage which presented for me intense back pain. Pain holds strong memory. It is the sensory memory, just like the smell of coffee and cinnamon buns can transport you to a kitchen years past.

A perfect E.R. patient I am not. I am exhausted, not wanting morphine and quite confused as to why they would think I would have a kidney stone. (I do by the way.) I think at one point I mentioned my bladder infections never reading on a test as an infection, they were mostly emotional, something about homeopathy. Yeah, you can imagine.

Eventually the pain released somewhat and I relaxed  into the stretcher, which was quite comfortable at this point. I knew what my bladder was telling me, I've heard it before. We have strong connections to parts of our bodies, if we are open to hearing them, they will speak to us.

Louise Hay says what I know, the bladder is all about holding. It is a spot of held anxiety, of holding onto old ideas. Problems with the bladder represent fears of letting go. Of being pissed off.

My bladder has always spoken to me. After my first miscarriage I couldn't pee. It may have been from the surgery, but I remember staying up all night, eventually I nibbled on catnip (I know) and lit a candle and just prayed that my bladder would release. Finally it did.

I suffered a similar experience as this bladder infection when we were planning my wedding years ago. I had some old things that needed to be released, I had fears. It wasn't until I addressed them that my pain and bladder were able to heal.

It makes sense that my bladder is asking me to be present. There is a lot going on in my world. I'm shifting, I am having old feelings surface, I'm doing it all with three kids and feeling some guilt about my world mixed with theirs. I am ready to move into the next phase of opening space for myself. I am ready to cleanse*. Occasionally I get pissed off.

Louise offers us a new thought for healing when the bladder is involved.

I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life. I am safe.

I stayed in bed most of the day yesterday. I thought I would just take the computer and catch up on some projects. Be really productive. All my body wanted to do was sleep and rest in the cozy blankets. I read a little bit. I felt some of my emotions rise to the surface. I woke up to find a message from a friend that said exactly what I needed to hear.

Being present means not always being strong. It means feeling tired or scared. It is understanding the fears so you can move through. Each time new space is coming in your life, something happens. It might be like my bladder or it presents itself in your own way. It is in the listening that you are able to move through.

You can be strong later. In the present you need to feel it to move through it.

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*During this cleanse I am going to add an optional component of releasing to our 10 days. We'll talk about how to release some old fears, or habits and how this cleansing time will be perfect for allowing you to make new space for yourself. I will be doing it right along side of all of you, ready to let go of some of my old stuff.


Picture Thoughts - Change

After almost 7 years, new colors are appearing. A move into joy, a step towards the future. I embrace change, am bored without it. For some things.

Looking to see the places where my dreams settled into my existence and the space where the wishes still exist as sparkly-energy-thoughts. What will remain and follow me through another year? What picture of myself will I choose that resonates with all I want, hope and dream?

It is not an easy journey, unscrambling the pieces of ourselves from the realities of our space. Change flowing through us, easy does not describe the lengths we go, as we discover our truth. We feel full, purposeful, uncomfortable. (Thank you Anisa for the gorgeous photo.)

I can do it, just hold the shelf in place. I can't find the holes, it isn't straight. Up on the right more. Let me look. And then he climbs on the ladder and finishes it himself. A few years ago, that might have ended up a fight. A beautiful change.

Pink hair found me at 14. Pink hair found her at 8. I am amazed at her funky way of moving through this world. While I have wished so many things could be different, when I see who she is becoming, the gap between what I dreamed and what is doesn't seem so steep.

A leap.

Trusting in what is possible may stretch an old story. A decision made so out of comfort. Change. Beauty. Butterflies dancing in a world where we only visit. A moon rising and uniting us. A breath we pull in.

Trusting in it so deeply that butterfly kisses tickle our cheeks, and we slowly exhale.

To The Dads

I write with a voice for women. It was brought to my attention the other day that I have some loyal male readers. Mostly they are from my network of friends or colleagues who support my work. They appreciate what I write because they are part of the story that I write. Many of my readers are divorced. Some are in new relationships. Some of my readers are struggling in marriages and looking for answers, for what to do next. I have readers who aren't married or mothers, but really amazing women at a different place in their lives. I love the diversity of all of you. I am inspired by your stories and your dreams.

You are part of the story.

Our lives weave in and out of each others. When I write something that touches the heart of another woman, often the person she sees first is her husband walking through the door. When I get off of the phone from a session with 6 women the person that is there for them to feel excited or emotional with is a child or a partner. Or sometimes she enters the silence and stillness of a sleeping house.

I am fortunate to have some amazing men in my life. Who support and guide me along this path. Who are there when I need some calming or direction. Who have taught me everything I know about WordPress.

I have been together with my husband for 17 years, lived in 3 states with him and laughed and cried through the moments that have breathed life into our time together. I have been so crazy angry at him and felt such passionate love for him.

My grandfather is 90 years old and reads every word I write. He tries my recipes. He tells me stories of dandelion greens.

I listen to the women I work with talk about their fears with the men they love. I understand.

The role of the dad is one that I am only just starting to understand through the eyes of the men in my life. This male role that is challenging and rewarding in vastly different ways than mine as mother. Pressures so different than what I feel on a daily basis. Fears unlike those I may understand. I try to open my heart and listen to what they are saying so that I may help the women who I work with deepen their connections.

I know that when I am beaming with joy Patrick feels it. When we are disconnected it is a burden that the whole family feels.

So to the dads today I say thank you. Thank you for your heart, your devotion and your desire. Go deeper and live on the edge of your comfort zone because that is where the magic is.

When we are living in our health and joy and giddy happiness for life, we can share it with those we love. We can get honest and real. We can feel the connections we all have and how profound those are for our children. Choosing to be our best selves, whether mom or dad, this is where our power lives.

What I would ask of you today, woman or man, child or adult, is that you stop and really listen. And really talk. Ask each other about your fears and dreams. Talk. Turn off the t.v. Fill your buckets with each other. The power of stepping into someone's space as they are sharing a joy or a dream or a fear is special beyond words.

Hold that space together.

Magic Soup Pot...This One's For The Ladies

It’s a beautiful blue pot that makes the most magical soups. If I get a feeling or a thought for flavors that should combine the magic soup pot heats up and starts sauteing my veggies. The smells that come from the kitchen are spicy and warm and greet the people who walk through the door with surprise and wonder of what it could be. Rarely do I make the same thing twice in the magic soup pot, new creations turn up all the time. I had my final sessions with the student clients I mentor from IIN. I found myself feeling such joy and peace after talking with them yesterday. I also could feel this soup stirring inside and knew that it was for the ladies. My group was of 7 students who range in ages and circumstances, that eat varied diets and have lives of mother, business woman or student (sometimes all 3).

I asked some of them what the most joyful thing in their life was right now. Their answers beautiful and the energy at which they felt the joy filled me with gratitude for what I do. The last student of the night answered and then asked me what mine was.

Connect: To become joined or united: To establish a rapport or relationship; relate.

I am most joyful for the connections in my life right now. Connections with friends, to being present with my children, the long talks with my husband. The amazing gifts that come from the work I do. The women who I get to interview. The way I get to watch the kids write their daily gratitude on the calendars their grandmother made. To know that as I walk the path of connection each moment that comes before me is as I need it to be. Of connecting through vulnerability and truth. One of my students mentioned that I get very personal when I write. I do...to connect.

As we started out making our soup Lucas decided to wash dishes and I peeled and roasted the butternut squash. We had a lovely time in the kitchen. We  roasted pumpkin for some cookies and talked about pumpkin seeds. This time with him in the otherwise quiet house is connection. Is calming. Is love.

Eventually the soup came together just after he fell asleep and I enjoyed a bowl for my lunch. The magic soup pot did not disappoint. This one’s for the ladies.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Soup

3 cups diced and roasted butternut squash** olive oil 1 large leek, washed and chopped 2 carrots, diced 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1/2 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp cumin 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp sea salt 2 cans black beans 4 cups water

Saute the leek, carrot and garlic in olive oil until just tender. Add spices and stir cooking for about 2 minutes. Add beans and water, bring to a nice simmer and allow to cook for about 40 minutes. Add the roasted squash to the pot and gently combine.

Now here is where it gets fun. Squeeze some fresh lemon in each bowl, top with sliced olives, cilantro and a drizzle of goat’s milk yogurt. Now you’ve got some magic.

**Peel and dice the squash, removing the seeds. Place in a baking dish with olive oil, some sea salt and I used a sprinkle of cinnamon and thyme. Roast at 425 degrees for about 50 minutes or until tender and deep in color.

Woman To Woman

So it began last night, in a beautiful room (so much gratitude for the woman who shared her space with us as my office proved to be too small) with tea, cookies and the women. Seven women and myself, an eighth will join us next week, as we move into the process of positive change. You can never tell someone what to do, they will resist it. A person must discover for themselves, have an experience that allows them to learn. Positive thought sounds impressive, a part of all of us wishes to be positive. If our experience has always been negative, all the talk of positive thought is just that, talk. When you start to practice and experience using positive thoughts, it becomes easier and eventually will fully integrate itself into your speech, your heart and your head.

Positive thought is essential for changing our relationship to food. If we believe that we will always be "fat" or unhealthy, aren't we going to reach for those things which full fill just that? If we start to believe that food can be simple, that we have and deserve healthy energetic bodies, will we seek the foods that will bring us to that body.

Each woman in The Get Real Group has her own unique story. The connection is motherhood. Of placing focus on children and loosing focus on self and relationships. It is the way food gets so complicated and busies lives. The connection is also the inspiration. I am not walking this path alone, which every mother should not just hear, but feel.

When I graduated IIN, I was asked to speak on stage during the last weekend. Gulp. I knew that I was meant to be up there, but why? What was I supposed to say to inspire and share my experience with 1,500 plus students? And yet, what I had experienced during the training was a connection back to myself. Starting there, meant that I could expand into other areas, my children, my career, my friendships, my family, my passions and ultimately my relationship with my husband.

I delivered my speech on stage that day ending with the words, "Now being a mother is no longer my role, it is my inspiration." That is my intention for the group.