The Tiny Things

I have had very few words to share in 2018. I was under a rock of grief, loss, confusion, shame, comparison, and fantasy. The loss of Michael’s father seemed to kick off a downward spiral that brought every aspect of our life into question.

As I look back over 2018 I am struck by two lessons I learned. First, the tiny things truly matter and secondly, you can’t stop a spiritual journey.

The tiny things truly matter: The cup of tea made by a friend, the people you run around on trails with a few times a month, the guy who pumps your gas and swaps Sasquatch stories with you, the friends that quickly become family, the path you walk your dog each morning, the amount of time you don’t spend in traffic, and the kind person who works in your office building all matter. I was reminded while seeing a play version of Miracle on 34th Street that those tiny intangible things are what matter most. They add up to build a life of purpose, love, and generosity. Those seemingly tiny things are the ingredients to your specific recipe for joy.

You cannot stop a spiritual journey (no matter how hard you try): I had always felt I was on a spiritual journey but it wasn’t until I arrived home to find our house on fire that I knew without a doubt it was true. And it wasn’t until a few weeks ago in one of the long debriefing conversations that Michael and I seem to have often about 2018, we both began to see all the symbolism in trying to return to Washington. It wasn’t really about the place; it was about a desire to return to life before. A time when Michael’s parents were both alive, we were 5 years younger, still tied tightly to the structure of a graduate school program, still in familiar patterns and military life. I remember earlier this year battling myself about the private practice. Shouldn’t it be easier? Shouldn’t there be more of a flow? Why is this all so difficult? How do I find myself trying to convince my husband to stay in a place we love so much?

None of it has been easy but that doesn’t make it wrong. The business I have built here is important in bringing new approaches and concepts to an area that doesn’t always have that. Also, lets face it, I just love this place. I have loved it since the moment Michael and I arrived on our honeymoon almost ten years ago. It has become home.

One of the arguments in the trial of Kris Kringle in the Miracle on 34th Street was:

If this court finds that Mr. Kringle is not who he says he is, that there is no Santa, I ask the court to judge which is worse: A lie that brings a smile or a truth that draws a tear.

While my  adult Westernized and competitive brain finds issue with that logic… my heart tells me there is truth in there. Another way to say it:

“Choose to think a better feeling thought”  Abraham Hicks.

When I boil things down, from hours spent with people assessing what bothers them and what brings them joy, I’ve come to conclude so much of our lives are build from these tiny thoughts, moments, beliefs, habits, and the little grains of sand that trip us up. 2018 has made me sure of this truth.

In 2019 I will choose better feeling thoughts. I hope you do too 🙂

Camino de Santiago

Yup. You read that correctly.

3 years later (almost to the day) the Camino has entered into my world again. I blame Steven Pressfield and his incredible  book “The War of Art.”

In one small easy to read book my experience of the Camino de Santiago was completely reframed leaving me desiring another attempt.

At the time, the Camino appeared to be a torturous tourist gauntlet for the emotionally wounded middle aged adult with too much money. However, over the last three years of hard work building a business and a community in Bend while pursuing ultra marathons I have learned I love the challenge. I thrive in the struggle. Or to put it in Army terms, “I love the suck.”

Given that the nature of sitting with individuals, families, and couples through their toughest moments is both heartbreaking and inspiring, I have come to accept that most experiences worth having are in fact the most challenging. Those emotionally taxing difficult times are where we learn and grow in the most inspiring ways.

So the Camino has some negatives but I am not ok with it being left undone. In fact, Michael and I have often joked that maybe we are cursed for bailing that fall afternoon in 2014.

We are only in the preliminary stages of planning but it is time for us to conquer once and for all. Or as Michael loves to say, “Final Confrontation.”

Other Resources: For the LOVE of Plants!

There were other influences that have guided my journey in becoming plant based. Movies, podcasts, and local organizations can give you a boost of knowledge, community, or a reminder on why this shift is so valuable for your health and our planet.

Films:

Food Inc. – For me the journey to becoming plant-based really started with this film. Learning about the way in which our food is sourced was eye opening. While there are parts of this film that are hard to watch, it is not any hard core PETA material (PETA often shows the gross abuse of farmed animals).

Forks Over Knives – As I shared in a previous post, I love their cookbooks it really adds support to all that you learn in this film.

Food Choices – Similar to Forks Over Knives

Vegucated – There are a couple of harsh scenes  in this documentary, but a wealth of information as well. Even I, a very sensitive person, would recommend this one.

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead – This documentary is a bit more light hearted and personable. It follows people switching to a juice and plant-based diet for health.

Podcasts:

The Rich Roll Podcast – I started listening to this podcast in spring of 2015 as Michael and I uprooted our lives and moved across the country. As I spent hours on the road (we drove separately) consuming all the knowledge offered on this podcast from both the host and his wide variety of guests, I felt as though I experienced a transformation. The podcast has continued to be a source of information to shatter the limits I once placed on myself and where I continue to go to keep fueling myself for a full life.

Apps:

Happy Cow – This app has guided Michael and I to plant-based restaurants all over the world! It is also great at highlighting restaurants that have plant-based/vegan options in addition to a regular menu which makes it a great tool when meeting up with friends and family that are not plant-based.

Books:

Eat & Run by Scott Jurek – Not only is incredible to read about Scott Jurek’s journey to ultra-marathon hero but this book is full of delicious recipes and inspiration from a vegan endurance athlete!

Grow Great Grub By Gayla Trail I love all the creative ways in which Gayla highlights anyone anywhere can grow fresh veggies!

Finding Ultra – A great read to learn more about Rich Roll’s journey to eating plant-based and participating in endurance sports

 

Websites: For the LOVE of Plants!

There are excellent websites out there on the world wide web with awesome information about eating a plant-based diet, alternatives to your former favorite foods, and delicious recipes.

Check them out!

The Post Punk Kitchen – Isa Chandra is the master mind behind the Post Punk Kitchen and she is a master at making anything you used to eat (brownies, all of Thanksgiving, mac and cheese) vegan. Her recipes were so helpful for me in the early days.

Oh She Glows– Angela Liddon has created a vegan recipe oasis on her blog Oh She Glows. She offers over 500 recipes, has published multiple cookbooks, and now has an App! This website was a huge help when getting started eating plant based and keeping meals tasty.

Simple Veganista– I find myself getting sent back to this website time after time. To be honest, I have never really sorted through the pages or gone to this website on my own. Instead, every time I am stuck and google something like “vegan lentil burgers” this website has the recipe. It never steers me wrong!

The Minimalist Baker – This is one of my favorite places to go to find anything from deserts to full meals. While the blog is not specifically vegan or gluten-free, all the recipes note how to make it vegan and/or gluten free. I appreciate their transparency, it is hard to please the vegan community so I can understand shying away from labeling yourself as such. I appreciate that by never declaring themselves vegan it makes how to substitute transparent. I have learned a lot from their recipes including how to whip up a vegan egg for baking!

Other recipe & meal services:

 22 Days Nutrition sells products at Target stores and offers meal delivery

Lighter is an awesome service that starts with the tools you have in your kitchen, asks for your allergies, and then offers recipes based on that information. They also have a meal service and eventually will deliver groceries at your doorstep. Very exciting!

Rich Roll’s Meal Planner  is powered by Lighter to offer recipes more in line with Rich Roll’s vegan gluten free lifestyle, I will post more information about him in my next blog about plant-based movies and podcasts!

Cookbooks: for the LOVE of Plants!

I get asked all the time to share more about what the heck Michael and I eat. I will be doing a series of blogs about the resources we use on a regular basis.

So to kick it off, here are the cookbooks I recommend along with some narrative about our journey:

David’s Vegan Home Cooking by David A Gabbe

Skinny Bitch in the Kitch  by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

Forks Over Knives Transition Plan by Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD

Forks Over Knives Cook Book by Del Sroufe and Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson

The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner

Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry

The Plant Powered Way by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt

This Cheese is Nuts by Julie Piatt

In a far away land called Fife Washington Michael and I sat down to watch the documentary Fork Over Knives. Unhappy with the way our mostly vegetarian diet of pizza and beer left us feeling bloated and fatigued we searched for a new perspective. Through that documentary we were introduced to a Plant Based Diet and these cookbooks:

Forks Over Knives Transition Plan by Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD

Forks Over Knives Cook Book by Del Sroufe and Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Shortly after seeing that film and feeling better after introducing more plants into our diet we went to a vegan cooking class at Pierce College. David Gabbe, our instructor, did a cooking demo and I fell in love with how simple cooking vegan looked. It was David Gabbe’s book David’s Vegan Home Cooking that began to shift things for Michael and I. His cookbook made things so simple and easy we found ourselves eating more and more vegan. David’s Vegan Home Cooking starts with how to cook basic grains and beans, how to make your own plant based milks, and then moves into heartier meals and delicious deserts. This cookbook is still on our kitchen counter 6 years later. I find his recipes to be the solid foundation to our cooking. I have made many adaptations over time to our favorite recipes and they always turn out perfect.

Later I was introduced to Skinny Bitch in the Kitch  by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin when a friend of mine at work gave me a copy. This cookbook has been a staple in our kitchen. While the recipes are slightly more sophisticated and had me searching the grocery store for strange ingredients, we felt like we were eating like kings! This cookbook is full of hearty easy to prepare filling food.

As the years progressed we became more dedicated to a fully plant-based life. In the beginning we were still topping things with cheese and even eating meat on occasion at restaurants. But in 2014 after returning home from Europe and landing in Bend 20 pounds overweight, I knew I needed to be more committed. It was November 2014 when Michael and I went totally plant-based. After almost three years I can confidently say I could never go back to eating mindlessly. I have learned so much and I enjoy the simple lifestyle of fresh plant ingredients.

When Michael and I first started out we ate tons of vegan replacers like Diaya Cheese, fake bacon, and soy. These foods made the transition simple and delicious. It was comforting to still be able to eat macaroni and cheese and other familiar foods, just vegan.

However in the fall of 2016, Michael was diagnosed with some autoimmune issues (read more here) and his list of food allergies grew to include gluten, soy, oats, and a few others. We now eat a gluten and soy free plant-based lifestyle. Have no fear, The Plant Powered Way by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt made it super simple. And I can’t say it enough, cooking vegan is so simple that I have adapted all our other recipes with little to no problem.

Stay tuned for more posts on transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle!

 

Stick-to-it-iveness

Here is something I feel no one warned me about: reaching a point of success where you don’t make enough money to live yet but people begin to recruit you!

As if getting through this crux, as I have described in previous blogs isn’t enough, I have not one but two job opportunities that have come up in the past week. In both scenarios I hear “it’s a sure thing,” “you’d be perfect for it,” and the worst one yet, “we would be lucky to have your expertise.” Each comment feeling like an arrow in my people pleasing, validation seeking, heart.

I just want to acknowledge how incredibly tempting that “security” truly feels. And I say “security” because no employment situation is really that secure. The only secure part about most therapist employment opportunities is that it will be just enough pay to keep me right where I am at… nothing more nothing less. But that steady drip of regular income starts to sound so sweet.

 

I feel like this must be a sign our presentation at the American Family Therapy Academy’s national conference next week is going to be awesome! All this temptation has to mean something is afoot…

But I am not going to lie, I sent in my resume to the person who said “we would be lucky to have your expertise”…. who can turn that ass kissing down?!?!

The only way out of the crux…

… is to be fully committed. It is really funny to me that I have worked for the past year + and right when I see milestones ahead, right when one of many finish lines is closest…. I WANT TO QUIT! Seriously. I have been thinking about it almost daily. Our practice is finally making a little profit, we present our concept at a national conference in 4 weeks, and at the same time I have caught myself looking at job postings 3 times in the past week.

That my friends, is very creative self-sabotage. I look at those job postings and think about applying telling myself “we just need to make money,” “I can’t work for free forever,” and the best one “I am wasting my career.” Each statement more false than the one before. The real waste is the minutes that turn to hours that I spend thinking about living a different life. The real waste is coming this far and then wasting time I could be spending doing my very best.

The only way through is to commit.

I know I will spend the rest of my life regretting not seeing this through. I just want to see where this will go. What if it is possible to make a living on a cash practice? What if people are as sick of the DSM as I am? What if insurance companies didn’t dictate the treatment of human beings? What if the field of marriage and family therapy could get better? What if therapists could be more advanced, more able to help people, than billion dollar pharmaceutical companies? What if children weren’t labeled with mental illness but instead taught to adapt and find their strength?

I want that world so badly.

Stay committed.

Crux

Just the word conjures up nausea for me. I can feel a cold sweat breakout on my hands and feet. My body braces. I feel as though I am there at one of the many scary cruxes I have faced climbing and skiing. When I think of that word I can hear my skis sliding on ice. I can picture the pumice and unforgiving rocks over my right shoulder. I can feel the cold wind on my face and see the narrowed vision through my goggles. I feel my ankles tighten and my legs hold an awkward pose for fear of losing my edge and sliding into the abyss. The thin metal edge of my ski is the only thing holding my body as I glide. Sometimes my mind starts to wander to what could go wrong and I am quick to bring it back to the moment. The crux is never a time for a mind to wander.

Why would we ski here? What could be worth the risk? The only thing that gets me through that moment is a glorious bowl of soft snow. No real runs. Hardly any people. Just an open powdery space to take your skis and your abilities to their limit. It’s worth it every time.

I can’t think of a better metaphor for my life right now. Every day feels like sliding on ice. Every day I don’t collect a paycheck for my work. Every penny made is reinvested into the dream. The potential consequence grabs my attention every now and then. But just like skiing into the bowl, there is no time to waste on what could go wrong. I am lured through each day with the hope of finding a space where I can take my abilities as a therapist and a human being to their potential. The rocky ledge over my right shoulder in this case is the possibility that the mental health field will continue to label and limit people with mental illness for their common every day problems furthering the divide between those able to achieve and connect and those pushed to the fringes of society. The risk lately has felt immense. Not only as I watch our personal bank account suffer but I feel more than ever people are ready. There hasn’t been a better time to empower people. People are fed up with all sorts of status quo and it’s an awesome time to be alive.

In May, Michael and I will be presenting our concept and research project to a nation wide group of our colleagues, former professors and fellow researchers. We may be the only ones who don’t receive a paycheck for the research we do and to be honest, it’s what thrills me the most. We are able to say and do whatever we want. Unbound by university doctrine or fear of losing a salary.

It conjures up the exact same nausea and cold sweat as skiing into the bowl….

I do not fear Trump BECAUSE I am a Woman.

As I write this, I am on a morning run in a foreign highland town in Scotland. The sun has not risen, I am not entirely sure of my location, my partner is asleep back at the airbnb, and my cell phone is useless here. Still as my feet meet the trail and I hear my breath smooth and constant it reminds me of my power and my strength.

I feel relieved to not be in America right now being berated with fearful narratives. I feel at ease being reminded my strength and power are internal. I pack them where ever I go. Even if I am lost in the dark in another country.

I find myself feeling angry reflecting on America. People have asked me repeatedly for my thoughts on Trump on this trip. And as I have had time to digest and reflect I find myself angry with the people protesting. I refuse to protest our country and the very system that has made such progress in human rights. I refuse to let media bully me into believing that only one political party represents my diverse beliefs and the diverse beliefs of American women. Women hold the power to bring life into the world, we do not need a political savior nor should our rights or ground be shaken by one man. Our foremothers would be ashamed that we are letting one man doubt our safety or progress. They fought for our ability to have options and a voice. Our foremothers fought so that we wouldn’t have one person or one set of beliefs to rule us.

What messages are we sending women around the world? That women’s rights exist in America but only in one political party? That the freedom to vote is something to protest? That men in general are evil and don’t protect women’s rights? That women’s rights and the rights of the lgbtq community are contextual and party dependent? I for one, refuse to let my safety and my best interest be represented by one party or one religion or one person. Whatever change needs to take place, should ALWAYS happen regardless of who the elected president is. That is how women have made progress. They didn’t wait for anyone or a particular political climate.

And all this protest and noise is simply drowning out the conversation that really needs to happen. What political changes are important to people? Everyone seems pissed off but there isn’t a lot of conversation about why. Also, let’s be real, Trump obviously is not a typical republican evidenced by his twitter feed. Therefore we finally have a Republican Party not bound by religious doctrine. And to me, that is an awesome step for America.