Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Picking Yourself Up When You're Feeling Less Than Vibrant (Mama Style)

9:44 AM Unknown

Dearest Friends, 

Let me start by saying good job! A lot of the time people never notice when they're not feeling so hot emotionally (and in-turn physically) and just sort of write it off on "life". Just the fact that I'm typing this and you're reading it means that we're recognizing that misery is not "life". We have options and while our emotions are very real and come from a very really place, perception shift is a huge step on the path to personal happiness. I am not very good at giving myself credit in the every day little miracles that I accomplish. Whether its recognizing my role in a situation or giving myself major snaps for taking huge strides towards positive change. So I really want to focus on the conscious effort that goes into picking myself up!

90% of the time when I'm feeling less-than-vibrant its because I am physically and emotionally dehydrated. When this dryness sets in it means that I am not setting aside the time I need for myself. Self-care is not selfish and its not unnecessary. Going to the grocery store alone to shop for your family is not "me-time". Self care is the conscious practice of setting aside time for yourself to rejuvenate, lick your wounds, re-set, re-consider, and be something that gets that spark in you going again. A lot of moms set this aside for the sake of their children but what they'll soon find out is that your children benefit from your conscious effort to put yourself first. We're not robots- we're people! We don't run simply off of giving ourselves to others! So, with that in mind, we have lots of options on implementing personal love practices into our lives.

Something you can do that takes very little effort and very little time is practice gratitude. This can be tricky when you're in a place of struggling. There are more extreme cases (the loss of a loved one), but for the most part, if you can shift your thoughts for a moment then every moment after gets easier and easier. For example, my daughter has a cold right now. For my partner and I this means shorter sleep cycles, more care (wiping nose, sucking snot, essential oil applications etc) and the overall misery of watching the one you love most struggle with discomfort. Breathing plays a crucial roll in my shift... A deep breath gives me a bit of clarity, and then saying (out loud or in my mind) "I am so happy and grateful....that my daughter's heart is strong and she has parents who love and take care of her so well". The first time I say it, I might shift back to my negative thought... but after a couple more breaths and a couple more times saying it... I can start to think of even more things I'm grateful for! My perception shift becomes one of gratitude and joy rather than frustration or fear. This is small but has been huge for me. A little miracle of self-care right where I am. The negative voices drowned out for a moment of peace.

Whenever I'm feeling less-than i'm also feeling very stuck. Most of the time its indoors in a place where I spent a lot of time (our living room in front of the tv). One of the best things I can do is go outside. When you have littles this can be somewhat of a challenge. Our record is 30 minutes for getting out the door with snacks, a sippy cup, extra diapers, wipes, keys, coffee, wallet, phone, yeah... you get what I'm saying. I'm really lucky to have such a wonderful, supportive group of women who practice self care and hold a lot of the same values that I do for our children. They plan RLAM (run like a mother) where we have a chance to get exercise. Zoo trips are great because they're educational, outdoors and affordable (a zoo pass is only $65 for a whole year). And then there's just park meet-ups where we can chat, hang out and let our LO's run around. If there aren't any events planned, I like to get baby dressed appropriately for weather and put her up on my back with either a woven wrap or an ergo baby carrier. Baby wearing is an excellent way to meet your baby's needs to be close to you while also keeping your hands free! There are many kinds of excellent baby wearing options- you can check them out here. Get baby up on your front/back/hip and take a walk! The fresh air will help you and your little ones feel good.

While we'd absolutely love a weekend of relaxation and retreat, when you've got baby who count's on you at a certain age, that experience can be taken off the table for a bit. I feel encouraged that this state won't last forever and when my darling baby is a bit older I know she'll have a great bonding experience with Dad for a couple of days while I have long, luxurious me time. But if you've got LO's who aren't as reliant on you a weekend retreat or a day-long hike are great options to really get away. This experience helps gain clarity and removes the demands that come with a personal being reliant on you for everything. This kind of pressure is very real and while lots of people out there are making it look easy its not always easy being touched all day long, cried out for, whined at or just plain needed on that level. In order to offer our most genuine support and care for our children the batteries need to be charged and taking time for ourselves is the only thing that's gonna do that!

"Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves" -Mary Oliver

Let go of the guilt. Let go of the "should". Mamahood can be hard and you can only expect so much from yourself. Ask for help when you need it and practice self care. Your vibrant light will be back in no time! What are some things that you do to re-kindle your light?

Love, Michelle

photo credit: cafemama via photopin cc

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Selfies Are Awesome

11:08 AM Unknown

Dearest Friends,

I cannot believe how many people are using this word now! It cracks me up! My sister-in-law and I have been taking selfies since we met in 2006 and have shamelessly set ourselves up in front of our camera for endless photos at flattering angles that show what we're doing and just how freakin rad we are. I cannot even tell you how excited I was when smart phones finally started putting camera lenses on both sides of our cell phones! I think it was Ellen DeGeneres' oscar selfie that brought awareness to the concept of stretching out your arm/arms with your camera in your hands and taking a photo. And boom, now there's a much overused hashtag, #selfie!

Disneyland Selfie Circa 2009
The responses to this have been overwhelming! Many people/bloggers have thrown around the word narcissism, addiction and mental illness!?  Ok, lets examine this. When did it become unacceptable to admire ones self? When did it become narcissistic to enjoy one's image? Think about this: only 100 years ago, in America, it was not culturally acceptable for a woman to show her legs, shoulders, feet or even her neck regardless of the temperature surrounding her! Men were taught not to show emotions or tap into a more instinctive part of themselves (that is changing just now in our generation!). For hundreds and hundreds of years we've been taught to hide our true selves, our true desires and any action that stepped out of line was considered vane, showy, flamboyant, and even cause for medical intervention!

Its more than ok for you to take a photo of yourself and enjoy it. In fact, its healthy and just another tribute to your joy. May the people who see your selfie, see you in all of your light!

I wonder what is it about #selfies that drive people to these kind of quick, harsh, hurtful conclusions? Probably the same bad juju that makes people think they have to justify them! The pattern I've noticed is that it often links back to the critic's hang-ups about themselves, not the subject of the photo!

There was a time I thought that selfies were obnoxious and that the people who over used them were narcasisstic and ridiculous. Upon further examination, I realized that I was projecting my stuff unto others. My struggle to accept myself was clouding my vision therefore, when I saw others who were unabashed and deliberate with their self-love and acceptance it made me uncomfortable. The fact that people who are maligned, marginalized, and strategically erased find the courage to make the deliberate choice of seeing themselves as beautiful, is both astonishing and miraculous. - The Feminist Griote

In collecting lots of varying information about this topic I realized that this was much bigger than just discussing the common reaction to popularized self portraits. This is a much larger discussion on radical self love and our culture's aversion to seeing ourselves as beautiful and capturing that despite it's constant, nagging reminder that ourself is unacceptable! I think its kind of magical that we're fighting back in this subtle, yet effective way. And look at the response! Kinda makes you think, huh?

A common opinion that I've witnessed, especially that of our parent's generation is that the youth culture is self-obsessed, selfish, lazy and entitled. How many times have you heard the phrase, "when I was young I'd never get away with that...", or "your generation has never understood the value of hard work". Suffering is a common theme with many people these days and the rise of misery seems overwhelming sometimes. It would seem that it's been pounded into our heads over and over again that hard work and suffering is the only way to our happiness. This younger generation really seems to challenge this belief that's perpetuated such misery and illness.

The same thing is happening with the way we're told to see ourselves. Positive thinking, meditation, kindness, making time for self-love and self-care, these are themes that are becoming more and more popular in mainstream culture and of course, there are always the haters rejecting these new ideas. We must evolve. Evidence shows that sub-consciously, as a whole, humanity shifts towards that which serves us even if it happens very slowly... and the selfies are a perfect, albeit small example of that shift.

Another common argument I hear against these deliberate acts of self-love is that when you post these photos of yourself on social media you're obviously looking for a response or attention. My question is, yeah, so? Everyone wants affirmation of positivity! As humans we all want to hear that other's think we're beautiful, bold, special, different. Again, who convinced us that these natural, healthy feelings were bad or wrong? I mean, how dare you attempt to build yourself in a society that beats you down for being anything but an ideal, impossible version of yourself. Not surprising how the fashion and diet industry seems to thrive, huh?

There is nothing wrong or gross about freely accepting compliments. Folks need to stop pathologizing those who relish in the compliments that they receive. It takes lots of work and practice to be able to freely accept a compliment, especially when you struggle to see yourself as worthy and never was accustomed to receiving them!

Self-love is about breaking down these patriarchal power structures, ending misogyny/sexism especially amongst women & creating a place for every kind of person, sexuality, race, gender and unique person as a whole. Attacking photos and the people who are bold enough to assert them, go against the shift that we are all sub consciously working towards: little miracles that are attracting and spreading the idea of the love we all deserve!

Love, Michelle

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Husband's Perfect Burger

7:58 PM Unknown

My Husband's Perfect Burger

By: Jeremy Rivera

We've never used a grill. Apartment living has really taught us the versatility of the stainless steel pan and some olive oil! My husband makes a mean burger and his technique is flawless. The secret is using a little bit of water in the pan while cooking up the ground beef mix and actually putting some of the bun into the meat mix, too! Simply substituting creatively makes this main meal not only delicious but hearty. Yum!

Yields: 4 Servings


Gluten free bun (choose your favorite) or Focaccia

Meat Mix:

1.35 lbs Grass-Fed, Organic, Ground Beef or Bison
1/2 Organic White Onion (chopped)
1/4 Cup Raw, Shredded, Cheddar Cheese
1 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Tyme
1 bun pulled apart into little bits

Veggies: (all optional)

Organic Tomato Slice
Butter Lettuce Leaf
Organic Red Onion Slice
Avocado Slice

Cheese Layer: (all optional)

Crumbled Blue Cheese
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Raw Cheddar Slice


Organic Tomato Ketchup

1. Fill a large frying pan with about 1" of water and olive oil and put on stove at medium-high heat.

2. Mix together all 'meat mix' ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Pressing everything together until evenly distributed in a big ball.

3. Using all of the meat mix make 4 balls and press into round patties. Put patties (2 at a time) into pan and let simmer with loose lid on, flipping every 2 minutes.

5. Do this until all 4 patties are cooked to your liking (rare, medium rare, medium or well done).

6. Toast buns or not. Using a spreading knife, spread ketchup and veganaise on the inside of the buns.

7. Add veggies, burger, cheese to your liking and enjoy with some homemade sweet potato fries!

If you like to avoid carbohydrates at night (like me), and you're making this for dinner, substitute lettuce for the bun! Enjoy and please comment below on how yours turns out. Thank you to my amazing husband for sharing his secret to an epic, sexy burger!

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