Hi everyone!! I’m back!!
Well, it’s only been two weeks, but I felt like that was enough time to warrant saying “I’m back”. Two weeks is the most time I’ve ever spent away from W+F, since I launched in May 2015!
The past two weeks, I stepped away to focus on my health and to do a little soul-searching. Before that, I kept trying to get better, physically and mentally, while still pushing myself to the limits here, and in my yoga practice, and in my personal life. But the thing is, I’m such a “push it to the limit” type of person that I didn’t even realize that that’s what I was doing. It’s how I’ve lived my whole life. But sometimes you need to step back to gain that sort of perspective.
I’ve kind of had a revelation about myself. Growing up, my parents were very, um, persistent in my education, both within school and without. There was always a very real and almost tangible pressure to succeed, constantly looming over my head. My parents didn’t exert this pressure out of any sort of perverse motives… they just wanted me to have the best life possible. So I did it all, and made certain I was the best at everything, to live up to my parents expectations. I was on the spelling team, in the Honors Society, the lead singer in the jazz band, the only freshman in my high school to make it to All States, etc. I worked very hard to achieve these accolades. But as I excelled at various things, it came to be the basis upon which I would have expectations for myself. And if I didn’t excel at something, it was always The Worst Possible Thing That Could Ever Happen, Ever.
But everyone has baggage from their childhood, right? We grow up and get on with our lives, right? I certainly thought I had. But looking back on it all, I see that nearly every choice and juncture in my life has been punctuated by my constant need to be the best. For example, in college, I didn’t join an a cappella group, even though that was something I excelled at in high school. But at my high school, I was the president of the Music Honors Society, president of the chamber choir, the leader of the honors choir, and a vocal coach to younger students. I was the veritable Queen Bee of the music department; the very best there was. And I knew that anything I did in college would just be a step down from that. So I didn’t do anything music-related in college, at all. I wasted four years that I could have spent taking part in something I truly love, all because of my damnable pride.
This is all very embarrassing to admit, mind you. But writing about it is rather cathartic for me. And it helps me see the motivations behind my actions today. (Such as this blog…) When I first started W+F, I had a game plan – I’d win the “Best New Voice” award in the 2016 Saveur Blog Awards, get a hundred thousand pageviews within 6 months, get regularly sponsored posts within 6-7 months, and get a cookbook deal within 2 years. And seeing these goals written on my computer screen right now is causing some serious facepalm action. Yes, goals are great, but there is a line between goals that are “attainable” and those that are “ridiculously aggressive”. Unsurprisingly, I fall into the ridiculously aggressive category.
But the worst part isn’t that I set myself up for failure with my overly ambitious goals…. it’s the mental beating I give myself when I don’t achieve them. To be blunt – I’m really f&%king mean to myself. Let’s put it this way, I would NEVER speak to ANYONE the way I speak to myself. Not even my worst enemy. I put myself down constantly. I criticize every last detail in my life, to my photographs to my weight to my yoga abilities to my friendship statuses to the cleanliness of my apartment. But the really messed up part is that I don’t even notice I’m doing it, because this is my life. This is how I’ve always been. If I want to change, it won’t be like breaking a habit – I will have to break my reality. Frankly, I don’t even know what it’s like to just be okay. Run of the mill. Even just normal! I’ve been in such a frantic quest for greatness in my life that I don’t even know what it’s like to just LIVE.
And right now, I don’t have the answer to any of this. But recognizing the problem is a huge step forward. As is my awareness of how I treat myself.
You know, it’s funny, because a yogic principle I really identify with is that of ahimsa – non-violence. I’ve always thought of this as non-violence towards animals, towards others, towards the planet; but completely neglected to consider non-violence towards self. Non-violence is more than just compassion or kindness, it is the complete and total absence of violence itself, in all its manifestations. The whole reason I started this blog was to exemplify a life of non-violence against all living things; not realizing that I had overlooked non-violence towards myself. But that ends today.
It’s not going to be easy, and I’m sure it will be a long journey, but I’m going to start being kinder to myself. Allowing myself the chance to rest, to have a break. To live life as a pacifist and not as an aggressor.
But now I turn to you all, my friends and readers – what are some ways that you engage in self-care? How do you show kindness to yourself on a daily basis?
Black Rice + Romanesco Bowl
- 1 Head Romanesco
- Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Cups Black Rice soaked 4 hours or overnight
- 1/3 Cup Mung Bean Sprouts
- 1 Tbs Sesame Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic minced
- 1 Tsp Fresh Ginger chopped
- 4 Scallions chopped and divided
- 2 Tbs Shoyu
- Drizzle Sriracha optional
Cook the black rice according to manufacturer's instructions.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
While oven is heating up, break down romanesco into smaller florets. Toss florets with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cook romanesco florets in the oven for about 20 minutes, until slightly tender but still crunchy. Set aside.
Bring a large pot or sauté pan to medium-low heat with the sesame oil. Add in the minced garlic, chopped ginger, and half of the chopped scallions, and sauté for about a minute. Then, add the rice, sprouts, shoyu, and the rest of the scallions (and sriracha if you like). Stir for about a minute, letting the flavors meld.
When done, serve in bowls with a few florets of romanesco.
Why do you stay in prison, when the door is so wide open?