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some things I know about love

My grandpa passed away on a Saturday in May.
He had grown sick quickly
and we had all been in town for almost a week.
cousins,
aunts,
uncles.

We all received that phone call
and headed to St. Louis
to sit by his bedside,
and hold his hands
and kiss his face.
To wipe his closed eyes with a cool cloth.

We all had a moment alone with him
to whisper
Thank you.
I love you.
I’m sorry.

My grandma came to the hospital during the final few days,
transported from her nursing home,
accompanied by her rabbi.

She sat in her wheelchair, by his bedside, and wept.
She held his hand
and in-between her tears said,
“That’s my man, can you believe that’s my man laying there?”

The day my grandpa passed away
all the cousins
and sisters
and partners
went to be with my grandma.
We noticed that sitting on her table
there was a Valentine’s Day card
written in my grandpa’s shaky script.
It said:

“Hon,
Valentine’s for 71 years. Wow!!
Love, Hon.”

Love is the riskiest, craziest, juiciest thing out there.
To give your heart to someone
and know that at some point, it might be broken.

Even after 71 years.

Five weeks after my grandpa passed away,
my grandma followed.

My dad
and my cousin-in-laws
and friends through generations
were the pallbearers at both funerals.

These men accompanied both of my grandparents on that final walk.
And watching them honor my grandma and grandpa in that way
was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

I know that in my family,
we bury our own.
Physically filling each grave with dirt.
It’s the final thing we can do for our people.
Each shovel of earth saying
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

I know that the day of my grandma’s funeral,
my sister went into labor,
most likely because my no-nonsense grandma was up there
and told that sweet baby it was time to get going.
That we needed her.

I know that the morning my niece was born,
I was cuddled up next to my cousin
who whispered
that the baby was coming,
and we needed to get to the hospital to greet her.

I know that the first time I saw my niece, I cried.
For I loved that girl before she born.

I know that when your heart is open to love,
it can break,
and at first, it feels like this grief is the only return on our investment.
The only proof that we loved.

But I’ve learned that isn’t true.
Grief isn’t the only thing we are left with.
We are left with bigger hearts
and crazy stories.
We are left with cousins
and sisters
and nieces.

We are left with Valentine’s Day cards that remind us
that love can outlive lifetimes.
Wow.

Our grief reminds us
that real love holds the power to create
to transform
to build a family.

Our grief reminds us that if we allow it
our hearts can be filled over and over again.

Love is anything but glossy.
It isn’t always rom-com,
OMG, super cute,
all hearts and rainbows.

In fact, love is the messiest thing I know.
At times, it will leave us stumbling and sick
and other times,
well other times,
we will hold our baby niece
or share a first kiss
or paint our grandma’s fingernails
and know that there’s nowhere else in the world we need to be.

My grandparents got to love BIG for 71 years.
And while their bodies are gone,
it is their love that remains.
It is the family they built.
The stories they told.
The values they engrained in us.

This is the return on their investment.
It is each other that we are left with.
This is how their love lives on.

Social Media and Self Care

Truth: Getting on social media used to leave me feeling depressed. I found myself scrolling through Instagram, comparing my life to everyone else’s highlight reel of beauty, weddings, and dreamy vacations. And before I knew it, I was spinning into a place of comparison. Over the years, I started to notice that I was signing off from Facebook in a worse mental state than before signing on. My mind was filled with everyone’s gorgeous pictures, and gratitude for my own life seemed to somehow drift into the background. This year, I decided enough was enough. I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I kept my Instagram account, and set boundaries around my use. I began curating my feed. I unfollowed accounts that didn’t make me feel good, and instead filled my feed with body positivity folks, rad writers, and mental health activists. Here are some tips and tricks for social media use that support YOU.

instagram

  1. Unfollow people that don’t make you feel good. Yes, all of them. I know, I know. This seems like the most straight forward, basic piece of advice. And yet, how often do we continue to follow people that don’t make us feel good? Or accounts that leave us feeling like we need to “improve” ourselves somehow? Unfollow these folks asap. You are enough, exactly as you are. Your unfollow list might include: ex-boyfriends, toxic friendships, weight loss peeps, or fitness fanatics. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. If seeing their pictures doesn’t make you feel good or leaves you feeling less-than, unfollow. End of story.
  2. Curate your feed. Your social media feed should make you feel good. It can be filled with people that are real and inspiring! Follow accounts that support body positivity, make you smile, and remind you to to embrace all of who you are! Some of my favorites: Laura Mckowen, Virgie Tovar, Jamie MendellAshley GrahamNayyirah Waheed, Mari Andrew, and Ruthie Lindsey. You can search hashtags such as #bodypositivity and #healthateverysize to discover accounts that make YOU feel good.
  3. Set boundaries around your use. What social media sites do you enjoy? Which do you rarely use or are just complete time sucks? Maybe you want to keep Instagram and SnapChat, but Facebook can go. It’s also possible that you really love all of your accounts. That’s cool too. You can still set boundaries around how often you scroll through each site. This time boundary is one that I still sometimes struggle with. However, I find that when I set guidleines around my use (Instagram for 10 minutes every other day), I enjoy my time spent scrolling so much more.
  4. Gratitude, baby, gratitude. Remember, social media tends to be most people’s highlight reels. And guess what? YOU have highlights too! There is beauty in your life too. So often we forget this. I have started using this app as a way to practice gratitude and list a few ways I can show up for myself each day.
  5. Sharing honestly helps us feel less alone. The accounts I love most are real and vulnerable (see #2). Choosing joy doesn’t mean pretending that everything is perfect all the time. Because….well, blah. It means that things can feel yucky, and there is still beauty out there. Being real on social media means celebrating it all.

Nourished in June

Hello, July!
I flew back to the midwest last week and am ready to enjoy a St. Louis summer. Hello sweet humidity, how I missed you so. My plans: soak in family time and write a whole bunch. Woot, woot!

Here’s what nourished me in June…

molly

  1. My niece! Sister had a sister! Molly Ruth was born just couple days ago and whoa is me, her timing couldn’t have been better. Welcome to the world baby girl, you are already so loved!
  2. This song.  And this one too. I’ve been on a bit of a Kanye kick lately…
  3. Wonder Woman and pretty much all things Gal Gadot. We needed this movie like, yesterday. It’s so empowering to see women finally represented in a way that shows our strength and resiliency!
  4. This eye cream.  I always feel so much brighter and awake after using it! It’s simply the bomb dot com.
  5. Vegan ice cream. If you live in L.A. or are there visiting, you must go here. It may just change your life…
  6. Tara Brach. I love Tara’s guided mediations. Most of them range from 10 – 20 minutes and focus on body and breath awareness. So good.

What nourished you this past month? Leave a comment and let me know!

P.S. I currently have 3 coaching spaces open! If you are interested in breaking free from diet and perfectionist thinking, then check out my coaching page! Together, we will identify your authentic goals and move forward from there. Send me a message and we can schedule a free consolation!

 

food journey, round 2

quiche.jpg

A few months ago,
I wrote about my journey with food.

I wrote about doing crunches when I was a tween
grunting and sweating on an itchy hotel room floor
hoping to create a flat belly.

I wrote about being full after a fancy meal out
and quietly sneaking off to the bathroom to shove my fingers down my throat
in the hopes that something would come up.
Nothing ever came up.

I wrote about the South Beach Diet
and Weight Watchers
and staring at my stomach in the bathroom mirror
wondering when it would be different.

I wrote about how despite being pretty free around food
that I still had some struggles.
How after months of working with my own coach
to de-classify foods as “good” or “bad,”
I still wasn’t really giving myself “unconditional permission to eat.”

I wrote about ice cream.

I wrote about all of these things
…and then I took the post down.

There are a few different reasons why I pressed delete.
Unfortunately, all of those reasons were rooted in fear.

A couple of people told me that the post made them feel uncomfortable. That they hadn’t known me to have any sort of restriction around food. That they didn’t know what to say. I should have said “I’m sorry this makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have to say anything. You don’t have to fix this. I needed to speak my truth.”

I should have told them how sad it is that diet culture is considered “normal.” But instead I allowed myself to be filled with shame rather than share my story.

I was also afraid…because who knew how this would end? After discovering that I didn’t have the true food freedom I thought I did, I was afraid that perhaps I never would. That I would always approach food with some level of fear. And if that was the case, did my coaching services hold value?

I took the post down, but I promised myself that I would continue to work towards this unicorn of food freedom. I wouldn’t give up.

I gave myself true unconditional permission to eat.

“What if all I want is ice cream and pasta?” I asked my coach.
“Then all you will eat is ice cream and pasta.” she said.

I gulped with fear. But I trusted the process anyway. And let go of ALL rules.

During that time, I discovered frozen yogurt again. And donuts. And popcorn.

I realized that my body was ravenous. And sometimes for lunch, I would eat a sandwich and then a whole second one. Or I would wake up in the middle of the night, my stomach grumbling because I hadn’t eaten enough that day. And rather than forcing myself back to sleep, I got up up and made a bowl of cereal.

Sometimes I ate emotionally,
and learned that food didn’t really make any difficult emotions go away.

So, I learned to find nourishment beyond food.

I stopped posting recipes during this time.
Because while I do love to cook,
I was learning to eat at restaurants without fear.
To eat boxed mac n’ cheese without shame.

Eventually, many of my cravings settled.
I learned to trust my body’s hunger cues.
I was generous with my portions.
I took my time.
Sometimes I left food on my plate
and other times I went back for seconds.

And the truth is
after years of subtly restricting my food,
I did gain some weight.

This is the opposite of what you wanted to hear, isn’t it?
You wanted to hear that after tuning into my body’s needs that I shrunk in size.
Because that’s what society tells us is better, right?
Smaller is meant to be better.
What a stupid lie.

My body fell at a size I had been fighting for many years.
A size that was natural and totally me.
A size that didn’t require any restriction in oder to maintain.
In time, I fell in love with this body.
I became completely tuned in to my her needs.
I could hear her when she asked for yoga,
or spinning
or chocolate
or a hug.

I also became tuned into my soul’s needs.
When she asked to be with friends
or read a piece of fiction
or to create a piece of writing.

Last week, I discovered a half-eaten granola bar in my purse. Along with a bag of almonds.

And I just smiled.

Because if you would have told me last year that I would eat half of a granola bar, and somehow just forget about the other half, I would have laughed at you. Back then, I planned my meals and snacks to the T, and ate accordingly. Now, I listen to my body and respect her needs. I trust that the granola bar will always be there. So will the kale, and ice cream, and sandwiches.

I have found true, absolute, food freedom.
I have met that unicorn.

face.jpg
I’m starting to cook more again.
To roast lots of veggies.
To put some overnight oats in the fridge.

And this time, there is no force.
I can eat the overnight oats in the morning if I want.
But I can also change my mind and have a donut instead.

I’m laying shame down along with food rules.
Both are too heavy to carry.
I’m telling the whole story.
There may be some recipes on this site from time to time
but there will be even more truth telling.
Because that’s soul medicine to me.

Dear heartbreak,

Dear heartbreak,

There is something I must tell you.
I have decided to choose joy.

Quite honestly, I only recently learned that joy is a choice.
I’ve decided to stop waiting on external circumstance,
and seek out the beauty instead.
I’ve decided to live there,
in that space.
Because let’s be real,
there is so much freaking beauty out there.

Last night, I drank wine with girlfriends
And ate too much thai food.
During the day, I taught students that are dear to my heart
and had meaningful conversations.
My lunch included fresh farmer’s market bread and cherries.
Joy, Joy, Joy.
Beauty, Beauty, Beauty.

So yes dear heartbreak, I see you.
I see that there are pieces that still ache.
I know that in the past month there has been loss
and difficult conversations
and lots of questions.

Yet there’s also been a turning of the seasons, heartbreak.
Can you feel it?
The change in tide?
The breath of fresh air?
And I’ve decided to go soak it all in.

Heartbreak, my dear teacher, you are always welcome.
You may stay as long as you like,
as long as you need.
I will never force you to leave.
But I’m just telling you that joy will be at the table too now
and she will be running the show.
She is vibrant and alive
and jumps into life fearlessly.
She makes mistakes
but never looks back.
Trust me, you will love her.

Know that there’s always a space for you, heartbreak.
You just won’t be the loudest voice anymore.

Sending you lots of gratitude,
Amy

 

 

Nourished in May

Hello June!
To me, June feels like homemade cocktails, slower days, and outdoor concerts. June represents the turning of a season. That moment where we can finally slip into our summer skin.

sunset

But before we jump into all the yummy-ness of summer, here’s what nourished me this past month:

  1. Mexico! My cousin got married in The Rivera Maya at the beginning of this month. Four days in the sun surrounded by my family was serious soul medicine. Sand, salt water, family, and many a piña coladas. #yesplease
  2. I had a lot of songs on repeat this past month. Some include this one (sorry, not sorry). this one, and most recently, this one.
  3. But also, this band.
  4. This blog. Honest words about grace, grace, grace. Ash writes us letters about friendship, heartbreak, and gratitude.
  5. This book. I LOVED THIS BOOK. Such a must read for anyone who has a background in competitive athletics or who has struggled with their identity at some point (so…all of us?). Abby honestly shares her story about sports, identity, love and addiction.
  6. Rosewater. My cousin shared this little gem with me when were were in Mexico. Now I carry it in my bag always and spritz my face when I need a little pick me up. I bought mine from Whole Foods.
  7. Teaching yoga. I took some time off teaching yoga this past year, as I moved to a new area of town and away from my regular studio. This week though I received a text asking me to sub. I considered it an invitation, and said yes. Leading a class again lit me up. Being able to help people feel at home in their bodies is what I love to do – and yoga acts as a physical manifestation of just this! Being able to teach this week encouraged me to find a regular gig again.
  8. This instagram account. Do you follow her? I am in love.
  9. Cherries! Because they are now is season and I’m super pumped about it.

What’s been nourishing you this month? Love to hear what’s been lighting you up!

the street we’ve run a million times

In my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, there is a street that I particularly like to run on.
It’s a four mile course.
Two miles out.
Two miles back.
The quiet street is lined with trees that change with the seasons, in typical midwest fashion.

I’ve run this street across many different lifetimes.

I’ve run it as a high school student.
The four mile loop filling me with pride.

I’ve run it with my dad.
And the two family dogs.
At a faster pace
and with the promise of coffee afterwards.

I’ve run it as a college rower.
When compared to an erg workout
it felt like a piece of cake.

I’ve run it as I’ve trained for a marathon
and several half marathons
and a triathlon.

I’ve run it with biological sisters
And chosen sisters.

I’ve run it with my mom,
gently going back and forth from our playlists
to having heartened conversations.

I’ve run it in the dead of winter,
the cold air piercing my lungs.

I’ve run it in the middle of summer,
the St. Louis humidity so thick, it feels like I’m swimming.

Dad.
Dogs.
Mom.
Sisters.
Sisters.
Sisters.
Winter.
Summer.
Winter.
Summer.

This street is always there. A constant friend through different seasons of my life.

In April, I ran this street with my sisters, my aunt, a cousin, and one of the dogs.

Dogs. Always dogs.

My baby sister and I set off at a clipped pace.
#3 (third sister in the birth order that is), my dad, plus a dog followed.
My older sister, plus my aunt, plus my cousin set about to walk.

It’s no secret that running and I have had quite the relationship.
I used to use running as a way to earn love.
To show the world how strong and worthy I was.
That I was good.

I’m still figuring out where running fits into my life now.
I don’t feel pulled towards long distances anymore.
But sometimes 3 miles feels just right.
Enough to clear my mind.
To loosen my body.
I like how the sweat feels on my skin.
The sensation of my quickened heart beat.
Reminding me that I am very much alive.

This April excursion was the first time that I ran our sacred path since giving up running as a regular form of exercise.

There were several times that I asked my baby sister if she would stop and walk with me.

And she did.

My baby sister,
who has run more half marathons than I can count
whose actual birth-day I remember vividly
who, as a toddler, stood a the top of the stairs and yelled “Who will play with me?”
until one of us emerged from our rooms.

The baby sister that I took care of was taking care of me.

Behind us, #3 was circling back to check in on my dad who had recently recovered from a torn hamstring. She would get a little bit ahead of him, and then turn around, checking to see if he was ok. Her pace is faster now. Her legs stronger.

We ran the whole course like this.
Baby sister walk/running with me.
#3 circling back to check in on my dad.
Older sister + aunt + cousin enjoying the calm energy that only a walk can bring.

Last year, our rhythm was different.
My dad may have circled back to check on one of us.
I might have followed baby sister’s request to walk/run.
We might have run as one big pack.
Or done less mileage.
Or more mileage.

We are always changing. And this particular street has seen it all.

2 dogs
1 dog
8 minute miles
10 minute miles
light rain
threatening heat
clipped pace
walking breaks

I like that this street is our witness.
I like that our roles change as easily as the seasons.
That my dad still buys us coffee afterwards.
That all we need are our running shoes
and the ease of each other’s company.

This street does not care if we walk or run.
It only invites us to be together.

To me, running is no longer about speed and worth.
It is about the rhythm.
My feet hitting the pavement next to someone I love.

walk
run
walk
run
walk
run

all the way home.

things I’ve let go of (in no particular order)

Here are some things I’ve let go of (in no particular order):

jeans that were too tight
birth control pills
a nine year romance
my TV
people pleasing
perfection
running long distances
my Santa Monica zip code
eating 100% plant based
self-harm
a college scholarship
a confusing friendship
that dress you bought me
old photos
Facebook
my puppy
financial security
two previous blogs
the idea of being a “quitter”

There are more. I know there are.
Every time I let something go, I think it might break me.
That some piece of me will be exposed,
that I’ll be a little farther away from perfection.
But that’s not true.
Instead, a layer is pulled back.
The truth of me rises closer to the surface.

Because I am always becoming
and un-becoming.
Learning
and un-learning.

 

 

Nourished in April

I just finished my spring semester of my second year in grad school! Like an hour ago. Phew. Wahoo. Sigh. Can someone come pour me some wine pleazzzzeee?

So now that finals are DONE, we can get onto the monthly faves. Podcasts, and music, and books, oh my!

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  1. Virigie Tovar. After listening to this chica on Lu’s Untamed Podcast, I fell in love. Virgie is a #bopo warrior, UC Berkeley professor, and author. Not to mention a fierce fashionista. Her perspective is fresh, real and honest. All my favorites.
  2. Also, Ruthie Lindsey. Listen to her on Branden Harvey’s podcast, Sounds Good.  Her story is an amazing reminder that we can be in pain, and still choose joy.
  3. This book. Holy smokes. I posted about this on IG a few weeks ago while I was mid-read. And you guys, this book is so RAW. I feel it’s important to say that Cat doesn’t really discuss the repercussions of her addiction until the afterword. So therefore, it you’re someone who is in the early stages of addiction or eating disorder recovery, it may be helpful to read the afterword first. Here, Cat talks about the true depths of her addiction and the beginning stages of her recovery.
  4. And this memoir too. I’m reading it now. Dani Shapiro has the amazing ability to capture the beauty in the mundane. Hourglass is about time, memory, and marriage. In it, she thinks back to her younger self and wonders if that younger self still exists in her now. And if her current self exists in her younger self. That sentiment took my breath away. We are always in the process of becoming. Yet we are always so beautifully whole.
  5. Lemonade. Specifically this song. I know I am way late to this party. But I don’t really care. When the album first came out, I wasn’t quite ready for all that fierceness. I’m ready now.
  6. And this song. Like on repeat.
  7. This movie. On Netflix. Yes, it is a romance, and slightly comedic. You were warned. But I’ve got a soft spot for romance. And while the film is simple, the movie explores the complexity of love and timing. One of my favorite lines – “Life is a collection of moments. The idea is to have as many good ones as you can.”
  8. Exploring L.A., even more. One of my friends and I created a GoogleDoc of adventures and explorations we want to go on, in L.A….and beyond. We are continually check marking experiences and adding new ones to the list. This month, we went to a jazz club and to Little Ethiopia for Ethiopian food. We also added an infrared sauna field trip to the list. I’ll let you know how that one goes next month….

What’s been nourishing you this past month? Love hearing about your faves….

Diana Nyad and I

The other night, Diana Nyad visited me in a dream.

Do you remember her? She is the superhuman that at age 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. It was her fifth attempt.

When that first happened, I became moderately obsessed with Diana for a bit. I think as humans, that level of resiliency kind of takes our breath away. To nearly die from jelly fish stings, but still try again, and again.

In my dream, I had just jumped off of a cliff and hurt my chin. I was waiting in line at an infirmary and Diana was in line too. “Oh, come with me.” she said “I can fix you up.”

She cleaned up the small cut on my chin and then asked if anything else was bothering me. “No.” I replied, feeling mostly fine. “How about your neck?” Diana asked? “Is your neck bothering you at all?”

“Now that you mention it,” I said “It does feel a bit tight.”

So Diana Nyad massaged the knots out of my neck and gave me heart advice. She told me about love, and the tenderness of our hearts, and that it was time to set my sights on someone new.

All of this from the Queen of Resiliency.

Last summer, at the age of 26, I experienced my first big heartbreak.
My boyfriend of nine years and I broke up.
I did the breaking.

This is not the same thing as nearly dying from jellyfish stings.
I am aware.
But nevertheless, the breakup took me down.

It took me months to realize that even though I was the “heartbreaker”
my heart was broken too.
I mourned a future that we had spent years planning.
I said goodbye to my life in Santa Monica.
I accepted that very odd truth,
that you can love someone
and still
they aren’t the person that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.
I cried harder than I’ve probably ever cried.
and screamed
and learned what anger felt like.

I wrote letters that I will never send.

I learned what showing up for myself looks like.
And started doing that.
over and over
and over again.

and yet
that heart space is still so tender in me.

Sometimes, during a morning mediation, I’ll scan my body and actually feel shocked at how tender it is. I bring my attention there, and it’s like touching an open wound.

And I wonder
Will this wound ever heal?

Diana Nyad is a survivor of sexual abuse.
She nearly died from jelly fish stings.
She was blown off course during one of her attempts,
and encountered storms during another,
But she still tried
again.
and again
and again.

In my dream, Diana Nyad told me to try again with love. She took sweet care of me, made sure that all my wounds were healed, but then told me to get my butt back out there.

This feels scary because
when I love,
I love hard.
So when I fall,
I fall hard.

In her TED talk (given after her second attempt) Diana asks, “Do you have it? Are you ready?” Later, she says, “Because there is going to be pain. There is going to be suffering.”

Diana certainly didn’t have to dive into the ocean.
She would have saved herself a whole lot of pain.
But then, she wouldn’t be the Diana Nyad, Queen of Resiliency, would she?

For those of us that play big,
that love big,
there is no other way.
We feel we must dive into the deep end.
To try the big scary thing.

I don’t want weeds to grow around my heart.
I don’t want to lock it in, keeping myself safe.
So even though my heart is still aching,
I’m learning to swim again.
to enjoy the silence that comes from being underwater,
the heartbeat that comes with each new stroke.

I am coming up for air when I need it.
And am trusting
that soon,
I will be strong enough for the deep end.