From Fuck You to Thank You

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It was only a week ago that I was sitting in a grocery store parking lot, zestfully shoving cookie after cookie into my voracious, salivating mouth. The shoving, crunching and compulsion were familiar, yet the cookies came from a hand I didn’t recognize. I saw my hand, my body, my physicality in the third person. This isn’t my hand. This isn’t what I do. This isn’t me. THIS ISN’T ME. This is what OTHER people do. I’m stronger than this. Yet the unfamiliar, indifferent hand persisted. With each eager shove; with each sweet, firm, plump chocolate chip crushed between my honed teeth, I silently repeated… “Fuck you, Hollye. Fuck you, Hollye. Fuck you, Hollye…”

And then at once the cookies were gone. There was a moment of relief: it was over. A desolate cellophane wrapper sat shotgun, hazed with oil and exhaustion. Cookie crumbs graced my lap, like seeds of a viscous aftermath soon to sprout. There was silence. And then came the loathing.

In the past several months, I’ve developed what I now identify as compulsive overeating, or binge eating disorder. It’s been hard. I’ve gained weight. I’ve talked a lot of shit to myself. I’ve felt terrible about my body, my gastro-indulgences, my perceived lack of willpower, my imperfections. And I’ve had moments of relief, love, and pure acceptance. But mostly: loathing; self hate; body shaming; fear of “what other people will think”; a frustratingly persistent obsession with my body; a disconnect from my feelings and emotions; exhaustion from the broken-record cycle of binge, loathe, body shame, sadness… binge, loathe, body shame, sadness….

And so, this morning I went to a yoga class. I take classes often. I teach classes often. Sometimes things click physically. Sometimes things click mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Sometimes a nugget of insight or wisdom from a teacher has an impact. This morning was one of those days. There was an excerpt read from the following post by Glennon Doyle Melton:

Your body is not your masterpiece — your life is.

It is suggested to us a million times a day that our BODIES are PROJECTS. They aren’t. Our lives are. Our spirituality is. Our relationships are. Our work is.

Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it’s all you’ve got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that YOU HAVE A PAINTBRUSH which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life — where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.

Your body is not your offering. It’s just a really amazing instrument which you can use to create your offering each day. Don’t curse your paintbrush. Don’t sit in a corner wishing you had a different paintbrush. You’re wasting time. You’ve got the one you got. Be grateful, because without it you’d have nothing with which to paint your life’s work. Your life’s work is the love you give and receive — and your body is the instrument you use to accept and offer love on your soul’s behalf. It’s a system.

We are encouraged to obsess over our instrument’s SHAPE — but our body’s shape has no effect on it’s ability to accept and offer love for us. Just none. Maybe we continue to obsess because as long we keep wringing our hands about our paintbrush shape, we don’t have to get to work painting our lives. Stop fretting. The truth is that all paintbrush shapes work just fine -and anybody who tells you different is trying to sell you something. Don’t buy. Just paint.

No, wait. First, stop what you are doing and say THANK YOU to your body. Right now. Say THANK YOU to your eyes for taking in the beauty of sunsets and storms and children blowing out birthday candles and say THANK YOU to your hands for writing love letters and opening doors and stirring soup and waving to strangers and say THANK YOU to your legs for walking you from danger to safety and climbing so many mountains for you.

Then pick up your instrument and start painting this day beautiful and bold and wild and free and YOU.

(Original article here.)

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I’ve thanked my body in the past. I’ve asked my students to thank their bodies. But today, it was different. I thought about my body, sitting in the car, shoveling cookies and repeating the words “Fuck you, Hollye.” I thought about my body, lying on my yoga mat. I wiggled my fingers. I felt my hands. MY hands. What a gift, these hands. What a gift, these arms. What a gift, this whole body and it’s health, vitality and wellness. And with all of my heart, with compassion and gratitude, I said thank you. “Thank you, Hollye. Thank you, Hollye. Thank you, Hollye…”

Every day is a gift. I am not healed, but I am healing. The fuck you will return. The thank you will return. And I am grateful for both.

From fuck you to thank you, I am blessed to have this life, this body, this paintbrush, this humanity, this Hollye.

Love Loudly. You Are Beautiful.

xoH

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Mindful Eating

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I’ve been fighting with myself for several months surrounding food. I spent (and spend) a fair amount of time thinking about food. I used to love browsing recipes and finding new things to make. About a year ago I started following a vegan lifestyle, and in the past few months I developed an obsessive need to “control” everything I ate, and berated myself for any “slip ups”. It became overbearing and extremely frustrating. I felt dis-empowered, sad and often labeled myself as “fat”. Typically my mornings would feel refreshed and I would feel strong and capable. But by 3pm, I was snacking a lot and typically making excessive choices into the evening hours. I’ve been fed up with these habits for months, and last night I wrote in my journal about how to move forward.

I’ve decided that more than “exact eating” or “controlled eating” (following a particular label or plan or “never eating ____ <enter food here>”), for me, it’s absolutely about MINDFUL eating. Because I TRUST that when I am mindful, I will make GOOD choices for myself.

Tonight I was eating a salad and was struck (stricken?) by how much chewing it takes to eat a dinner-sized salad! It felt incessant! I noticed that when my mind wandered — “I need to text my friend about that thing.” “Oh, I meant to look up that topic on google.” “Ooh, I finally have a chance to open that book that I’ve been neglecting.” — I noticed that my wandering mind created FASTER chewing in my body. But when I returned my attention back to my food, back to my mouth, into “being here now,” that my chewing slowed down. That I actually I smiled and felt peaceful. That I was more aware of my surroundings, more conscious and present. I even began watching a little ant trail nearby, marveling at how every single time two of them crossed paths, they paused and had a brief interaction. In 10 minutes of watching, there were only two ants that didn’t connect. I observed something I probably wouldn’t have, had I not chosen the mindful path to “be here now”.

I guess the point is, I’m excited about mindful eating. I started a food log, not to count calories, but to simply become aware of what I fuel myself with every day. I’m consciously putting my fork down between each bite. I’m consciously swallowing before picking up my fork again. I’m taking time to notice the texture and smells of the food. I’m closing the door to external distractions. And sometimes, I’m even taking a deep breath between bites.

I am mindful.
I am empowered.
I am Hollye.

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I met myself.

It’s been a long time, Hello Cozy. Too long. Since last I wrote, it has been an amazing journey full of joy, bliss, confidence; doubt, fear, and fatigue. But mostly, joy.

Someone asked me what it was that instigated a change in my path; in my life — what was it that lead me to take a step onto the path of yoga; the turn toward inner inquiry and sharing my bliss.

My answer: “I met myself, and things changed.”

I don’t even know where to begin. So for now, let me dip my pinky toe into the water by saying hello and carrying on with a few photos from months past.

xoH

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Chard’n in the Garden.

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Fresh ink (yes, it’s true).

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Venice beach chick, for awhile.

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My favorite fuzz.

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Vegan jackfruit tacos from Plant Food for People. So good!

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Hydration in fuzzy form.

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Poppy fields forever.

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Sunset and wellness.

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Journaling at Cafe Gratitude.

 

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Chickpea Flour Pancakes

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I’ve been eating mostly gluten free for the past few months. And you know what? I’ve missed pancakes! Mmm… the ole trusty flapjack.

When I lived in NYC, blueberry pancakes from Stage Restaurant, a tiny Ukrainian/Polish deli, were a weekend staple. The deli was about twice as wide as the plump, gruff yet soft on the edges cook who made the greasy magic happen. It was always entertaining to watch the waitresses wiggle and weave their way delicately between the cook, hot grill and counter where we pancake and borchst lovers eagerly awaited the arrival if our orders. Those mornings were good mornings.

Today I am thrilled, in palette and spirit, to announce that I have eaten a pancake once again! There was no endearingly gruff cook at the grill, nor the lingering scent of hot butter in the air. But there was one cat, one cup of chickpea flour, two happy eaters and the essence of wam coconut oil in the air.

I topped my chickpea pancakes with a homemade tahini miso sauce (recipe below), fresh spinach, tomato, micro greens and black sesame seeds. It was so delicious! The pancakes would be wonderful with any number of sauces, dips, curries, pâtés, eggs, etc. I’m also excited about experimenting with different seasonings in the batter. Curry, cumin, paprika? Yes please!

Here’s to eating nourishing foods and feeling good!

xo

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Chickpea Flour Pancakes

1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste

Mix ingredients in a bowl, whisking to remove any lumps in the flour. Cook in a pan. They cook up pretty quickly, so keep an eye on them and flip when needed. I used a tiny bit of coconut oil in the pan and scooped a little less than 1/4 cup per pancake. This made 6-8 pancakes that were about 4″ wide.

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Creamy Tahini Miso Sauce

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp miso paste (white)
2 Tbsp tahini
grated ginger, to taste
garlic, to taste
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
pepper, to taste

Mix in food processor and enjoy! Great on salads or as a sauce.

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Labeling and Feeling Good

It has been one month since I started my raw food experiment, and I’m still 90% on the path of eating raw vegan food. I’ve been thinking about how to describe how I’ve been eating to other people, and it’s been a conundrum. I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a vegan. Or a raw foodist. Or a vegetarian. Or a flexitarian. Or… anything, really. I feel comfortable eating fresh, whole foods that make me feel good. These days, that has meant mostly plants, nuts and seeds. I’ve abstained from wheat, refined sugar, and nearly all grains. But we are changing creatures, and maybe soon I’ll feel the need to add kamut or an egg to my day. Or, a lovely piece of sprouted bread smothered in a delicious pâté.

I stumbled upon this blog post, and its content resonated with me:

“Living a healthy, happy life should be about eating whole, fresh foods that make your body feel energized and good — and it shouldn’t be about what we call it… I have always felt strongly that this blog is a place to talk about seasonal, delicious food and healthy living and I wanted our blog community to be a welcoming space open to anyone curious about eating better — regardless of what they ate or how they labeled their diet. I believe that food and what we eat is an entirely personal choice. And, as I mentioned last week, I feel strongly that there is not one diet or one way of eating that works for everyone because each of our bodies are different…”

Here’s to feeling good, however it works for you.

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Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

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I’ve always loved food. I can remember many nights laying in bed, sleepily and giddily pondering what I would have for breakfast the next morning. I love going to the farmers market and delighting in the beautiful colors of fresh fruits and veggies as they wait for a hungry tummy to nourish. I love browsing recipes and thinking about all of the potential for what’s to come in my victual future. I love the process of making food, from the physical act of chopping, dicing, slicing and mixing, down to cleaning up after the work is done and the meal enjoyed.

Food… yes please!

After completing my recent 15-day body cleansing, I was feeling unsure about how to proceed. Two weeks of eating a raw vegan diet left me feeling clean, light, energetic, and generally cheery. I had several people tell me how svelte, happy and glowing I looked, which was extremely positive reinforcement! But was vegan raw 100% of the time for me? What about… cheese! And… morning glory muffins! And… roasted brussel sprouts! And… meat! But on the other hand, I felt SO GOOD, how could I give up that feeling?!

It’s now been nearly four weeks that I’ve been eating raw vegan, with one exception of one lovely vegetarian meal made by a friend. I haven’t been eating any refined flours or sugars, no grains of any type, and only “healthy fats”. I have a stable, constant energy supply throughout each and every day. And basically, I just feel really, really good.

In the past few weeks I’ve also read two very inspiring books: Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and Jane Goodall’s Harvest for Hope. Both books tackle subjects surrounding the way “food” in this country has become so centered on factory farming, mono-cultural crop fields, GMO, adding “nutrients” to foodlike substances, etc. (Note: I do think food science has great potential, but not as it is being instituted now). Both books also offer a lot of hope with stories of small farmers standing tall, the rise of farmers markets and CSA’s, and suggestions on things we can do to create change, even if those things may seem too small to make a difference. I believe that every little bit matters. Every change for the positive matters.

Pollan’s motto states: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I wholeheartedly agree with this. I feel so very alive when I eat real, whole foods in modest quantities. Food grown in dirt. Food without a nearly unpronounceable list of ingredients. Simply, food.

Something else that stuck with me from In Defense of Food was the phrase “Shake the hand that feeds you.” I love this concept – creating a relationship with the farmers and folks who bring fresh, whole foods into my world. If nothing else, I would love to thank them.

On Tuesday of this week, I went to my local Highland Park farmers market and stumbled upon the lovely folks from Shear Rock Farms. They had a wonderful, interesting array of fresh, vibrant greens and other lovely veggies. I ended up buying some truly delicious heirloom broccoli, which I made into a tasty raw salad tonight (recipe below). After only one visit to their booth, I’m already a fan of this farm, and plan to visit them again this Friday in Echo Park with hopes of learning more about what they do.

My diet for the past for weeks has consisted (99%) of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. I’ve eaten at least three pounds of miso paste (in a variety of dishes), countless avocados (so much yum!), lots of coconut oil, spirulina, maca, and matcha. (I’m in love with nutritional yeast!) I’ve been drinking green tea every morning. In the afternoons, I enjoy my usual home-brewed kombucha (I’ll be posting about that soon). I’d like to start reintroducing beans and lentils, as well as some whole grains (whether raw sprouted or cooked). I feel open to eating an egg every now and then, maybe even a little goat dairy in small amounts, and… maybe even a little meat or fish, if I know where it came from and how it was treated and handled. Lastly, I love not worrying about my weight, but instead, being more conscious of how I feel based on my choices, and trusting that feeling above all else.

So where does this leave me in regards to how I’ll identify with food as I move forward in life? I’m not keen on labels, and I don’t feel particularly fond of putting one onto myself (or anyone else!). I don’t want to define myself in rigid terms, and then potentially feel bad if I decide to eat something outside of what fits within that definition. I like being flexible and feeling empowered with knowledge, clarity, and trust about what I know makes me feel good, and what I believe is good for myself and the planet at large.

So my plan, for the time being, is to… Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

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Raw Broccoli Salad in Spicy Sesame Sauce
Makes 1 Ample Serving
(note: measurements are approximate)

2 cups chopped heirloom broccoli
1/2 cup chopped cabbage
1/2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
dash of red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients and let sit for at least one hour. Enjoy!

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