Finding the Voice // Moving Past Writer's Block

I was suffering acutely from writer’s block. I can’t tell you how many times I would say, “Well, not today, maybe tomorrow.” Or, “I’m too busy and I don’t have the time.” I made excuses. What if I just didn’t know what to say? What if there was nothing to write down? Heritage feels like a long time coming - I’ve been creating recipes and accumulating family stories for decades. I’ve been studying biodynamics and integrative nutrition for just as long. Heritage has wanted to be written for a long time, as though it’s been scripted for generations. And yet sometimes I just can’t get the ball rolling.

So I did what any stuck person would do, I phoned a friend. I called my daughter, Nicola, who listened with compassionate ears and encouraging words, reminding me that everyone goes through this. And then I talked to my husband, who in trying to be helpful, reminded me that I’m not a writer – to which I replied with hurt feelings, something about my 4th grade creative writing assignment where I wrote a story about a ghost and doesn’t that count as being able to call myself a writer. 

I Googled “writer’s block,” signed up for a free webinar (or two, or three, or four!), and phone a few more friends.

One of the most helpful and supportive bits of awareness came in the form of fully recognizing what was going on. Naming what was happening (writer’s block) enabled me to actually takes steps towards working with it - rather than continuing to come up with excuses. 

Beyond the encouraging words (thank you family + friends!), I found a more tactile way to work with this blockage.  I finally found a rhythm with writing, by creating a ceremonial practice that has become an important part of my day.

A dear friend and colleague of mine, Mela, helped me to sink into my new routine. Mela supports many clients with time management, “dejunking,” and getting unstuck. First, she helped me to feel supported and grounded in my space. Too often, I would find distractions - a pile on my desk that I could spend time tidying; or my cellphone, which was often within arm’s reach. In clearing my physical space, using the power of intention, practicing breathing exercises, and keeping a candle lit for inspiration to come through, I’ve been consistently sitting down every day for two hours to WRITE. And I have to say, I’m quite proud of that!

In thinking of each writing session as a ceremony, I honor how special it is that I’m carving out this time and space. It gets harder and harder, I think, in our modern world, to set aside time that feels focused and intentional.

Before going to sleep at night, I connect with my Angels and Guides and ask for their support with creativity, flow and focus.

In the morning, I spend a few minutes listening to that voice that wants to be heard before getting out of bed to start my morning routine.

I’ve learned to allow time for fidgeting. Yup, the beauty of the fidget. It’s where I get to feel organized before starting to write. This could include folding laundry, preparing breakfast, unloading the dishwasher, clearing off my desk, taking a shower, making a cup of tea. The sacred fidget prepares me in the most profound way, in that it brings me into alignment with the creative process.  And what I’ve found is that it gives me a chance to meditate on what’s about to be translated into words.

I keep a bottle of water on my desk and I speak my intentions into it. I also have a cup of warm tea in my favorite mug (thank you, Leigh Fanady!). I light a beeswax candle in my favorite candle holder. There are photos nearby of loved ones and some of my favorite pottery pieces to glance up at for inspiration when I’m feeling stuck. I don’t keep a phone nearby. I also take a dropper full of Hornbeam flower essence (thank you, Robin, my dear friend and talented herbalist, for this insight) and sometimes I use Rooted Angel Trinity Flower Essence for additional assistance from the plant kingdom.

Mela told me something powerful - that time is both linear and non-linear. When I can access the dimension beyond space and time, whilst remembering to stay grounded in the here and now, I’m able to truly feel like a channel. I remember this, and then I write. The writer’s block starts to melt. Sometimes paragraphs and pages don’t quite flow together, or there’s too much to say. Or too little. But I realize that it’s all just right. 

My intention for Heritage is this: I am focused, connected and centered. The writing of Heritage, Celebrating Family Recipes flows freely and effortlessly as I develop the soul of this book. Heritage will serve as a beacon of light for those who navigate the natural elements of life. Heritage is food for the soul – a return journey home.

When you find that you need acute focus, may you too find solace in clearing your space, setting intentions, taking a break from technology, surrounding yourself with sacred & inspiring objects and calling on the help of friends and the plant kingdom.

Clearing Clutter for Clarity

I made an aim that 2017 was going to be a year of clearing away all the clutter in our home…a huge, overwhelming and daunting task! I’m talking about years and years of saved magazines, news articles, trinkets big and small, collectibles, paintings, clothes that I’ll probably never wear, paints that have dried out, pens and pencils (how did they give birth overnight like that?), slippers from hotels we stayed in, books I’ll never read, cool empty glass jars with lids cause you never know when you’ll need one and oh my gosh, a boundless number of shoes which I adore and never wear.

You know the drill, just way too much stuff.

Funny thing is when I started to do this I wasn’t very organized about it - just figured I’d move through  it all organically….a drawer here, a shelf there. Wow, was I wrong about that approach! Although it did make me look productive, I just kept circling and those piles kept growing.

And then, I got help from someone who really knows her stuff. And here’s what I learned.

Clearing clutter or dejunking as Mela calls it is Holy Work. It is meant to be a reverent practice whereby you clear away that which no longer serves so that miracles can happen…..Yes, miracles. I’m talking about clearing so that the books on the shelves are able to contemplate their own thoughts. It was about allowing myself to be deprived of the books as I learned to enter a desert retreat of pure, empty listening. And what I learned was everything is text! The cosmos is a vast, polysemous, multi leveled book in and of itself; and it is to be read. So are the stars, faces, flowers, hands and rocks. I realize that I don't need one more cookbook, notepad.

What I needed to learn was a system of using my creativity in a completely new way. I learned that I was the one I’d been waiting for! And I needed to learn to trust, that if I did toss something that I wished I hadn’t... to trust that it was already integrated into my being.

"Dejunking" is sacred work

"Dejunking" is sacred work

We started with baby steps; and went room by room. First downstairs and then up to the upper rooms of the house. Armed with dust cloths and cleaning products made from heavenly plant botanicals, I found myself almost in tears; sometimes frozen in a state of panic, and sometimes diving down a rabbit hole of memories. 

I kept the awareness candle lit and with 30 min breaks would get up, stretch, drink water and go back for more.

Holy work is emotional
And sacred
And filled with mini miracles
And some humor

One of the first bookshelves I went to was so tightly packed I could barely move the spines. When I was finally able to budge an opening, a book fell to the floor and opened to this page “Clearing Clutter for Clarity”. Seriously, I kid you not! The title of the book is “Ask and it is given” by Esther and Jerry Hicks.

Here is some of what Abraham had to say about Clearing Clutter on page 242:

“Physical Beings have a habit of gathering stuff around them. Most of you gather this stuff because it is the way you keep score: it is the way you fill time. In other words, you live in a physical world, and physical manifestation has become important to you, but then you get buried in the details of your manifestation. Most of you spend much of your time just looking for things, and it is not only because you have too many things to sort through, but it is also because the gathering of the stuff is contrary to the freedom that is inherent within all of you. We have talked of the feeling of sadness that feels empty. People often try to fill that feeling of emptiness with stuff. They buy one more thing and bring it home, or they eat something: in other words, there are lots of creative ways in which you have tried to fill that void. And so it has been our encouragement to some: Discard everything from your experience that is not essential to your now.  If you could just go through and release those things you are not wearing, release those things you are not using, release them and leave your experience in a clearer place, then the things that are more in harmony with who you are now will more easily flow into your experience.”

Well, I must say that I do feel lighter, no longer trapped in overwhelm and cotton candy head. It feels like the house can breathe, the energy can move, and the angels have a place to visit. Its just a wee bit more peaceful.

And there’s still more Holy Work to do. Mela reminds me that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if there was no plan, there would be no Rome.

Please do contact Mela Stevens: mela@wholebodyworks.net, if you would like some brilliant guidance on dejunking. Her step by step approach is simply amazing.

Steadfastness and Relevance

One day my husband, Bob, asked me, "If you had one word to feel inspired by, to reach for, what would it be?" When I'm asked these kinds of questions, I always want to answer in the safest and most diplomatic way - how can I possibly come up with just one word? Why not multiple words? I often feel overwhelmed with indecision. In a magical moment, all those voices stopped, and what I heard so clearly was steadfastness. For me, this word holds many meanings, which continue to inform my mind and heart. 

I’ve taken this word with me into silence...when I’d rather be squirmy and skip my meditation. I’ve thought of it when beginning a cleanse, something my husband and I do in the spring and fall of every year. It has helped me to stay patient when my ego wants to take over and boss everyone around, and it helps me to remember my higher self where there is no right or wrong way.

I asked Bob the same question - "What word do you feel inspired by? What word to you strive to emulate?" His answer was relevance. Bob's line of work demands that he be innovative, fresh, and timeless. He navigates his world of design and curation with the concept of relevance to guide him.

Sometimes we compete for the same space, like who can be cooler, subtler, more creative or more meaningful.

What I’ve come to realize, though, is that Relevance and Steadfastness come together in many ways. To be relevant means that you have to be steadfast in maintaining your connection to the present. When you are steadfast, you are dedicated and resilient - which are qualities that are also needed to stay relevant.

This drink is a timeless tonic that will forever be relevant for detoxification. These ingredients have been used for centuries to help purify and reset the body. 

TIMELESS TONIC
A cup of warmed or room temp water
Juice from 1/4 of a lemon to a whole lemon (listen to your body on this one)*
1/2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
Dash of cayenne pepper
Pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt (helps the cells to hydrate)

Health Benefits: Purifies the blood, balances and maintains the pH levels in the body, helps to flush out toxins, hydrates the cells. I recommend drinking this first thing in the morning - it will be the first thing that is filtered by your kidneys. An opportunity to drink something that will energize, cleanse, hydrate, and nourish.

TIP: When I’m running short on time I’ll squeeze a bunch of lemons and pour the juice in mini ice cube trays that I store in the freezer. Each cube is just enough Vitamin C to keep my brain and immune system vital, steadfast and relevant.

Encoded Biology of a Watermelon Radish

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Have you ever cut open a piece of fruit or vegetable only to be struck by the inner beauty, by the knowing and growing of nature?

There’s something almost sacred about looking at a slice of a watermelon radish - it’s like an inner glimpse into a universe of encoded biology, the patterning which can be used to stimulate all the cells, organs, tissues of our own bodies, in fact that’s one of the properties of radish, to stimulate our appetites and aid in digestion. The sharp bite of the radish also helps the body to dissolve fats and excess mucus - a great food to have if you want to shed some excess weight or lower your blood cholesterol. 


WATERMELON RADISH WITH SHAVED FENNEL & SPINACH

INGREDIENTS
4 watermelon radishes
1 fennel bulb
3 cups spinach leaves
2 mandarin oranges

DRESSING
1/3 cup unfiltered olive oil
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
½ tsp sumac
2 tsp maple syrup or honey
Sea salt and pepper to taste

PROCESS
1) Shave radishes paper thin on mandolin.
2) Shred fennel bulb.
3) Peel and section mandarin oranges
4) Mix dressing together ingredients together.
5) Toss all ingredients and season with salt and pepper

Did you know that radishes were grown in Egypt since at least 2780 BC? They were originally black in color and were used to help fuel the slave labor on the pyramids.

Radishes are a cooling food that stimulates the appetite and are an excellent digestive aid. They have both antibacterial and anti-fungal energies.

To Eat & Live in Balance

Often I am asked about detoxing and how to go about resetting the natural rhythms of vibrant health. I'd like to offer a vision for what that might look like. Honestly, if you choose any one, five, ten or all sixteen of these suggestions you'd be moving in the direction of letting go of what no longer serves you. You see, you can't quite indulge in a sabotage and at the same time participate in a higher vision of what you want to attract. For instance, focus on the vision of staying hydrated and you'll begin to feel all the systems in the body detoxing effortlessly and freely because you just provided something so valuable for optimal cell function.

Here's to staying vibrantly healthy!

1. Drink Water | Hydrating the body is a key component to good health. Drinking water can clear up a host of illnesses and diseases; not to mention clearing up skin, eliminating toxins, and helping maintain regular bowel movements.

2. Breathe | We cannot live without air. breathing gives the body something very precious - oxygen! Without it we wouldn't have a body to take care of. Breathing with vision makes us conscious of the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. It is a sacred act that we share with all living things. 

3. Chew | Chew slowly for maximum absorption of nutrients. Chewing food also allows your body the time to realize that you are satisfied from a meal - it helps to prevent overeating and therefore assists in weight loss.

4. Eat fresh, seasonal, local, organic, foods that are grown with consciousness - no chemicals, gmo's or harmful pesticides please! | Especially vegetables, whole grains and beans. They are the purest and richest form of vitamins and minerals. They keep the body alkalized and the immune system strong. The fiber from whole food aids in the body's natural process of elimination.

5. Eat moderate amounts of protein | Determine the type that is best for you, whether it's plant or animal protein.

6. Eat moderate amounts of healthy fats | Think unrefined olive oil, flax seed oil, ghee, avocados, fish, seeds, nuts, coconut. Avoid hydrogenated oil.

7. Choose natural forms of sweeteners | Uncooked raw honey, molasses, coconut nectar, agave nectar, stevia or pure maple syrup used sparingly will balance the body's natural craving for sweets. Conversely, white sugar and chemicalized artificial sweeteners deplete the body's natural resources. Left unchecked, these destructive forces create insatiable food cravings; inflammation; and disease like diabetes, hypoglycemia, kidney / liver / pancreatic disease, osteoporosis and premature aging. I like to use this reference when thinking about the affects of sugar.

8. Exercise | Move the body in any way that feels right for you and your body type. This can be walking, running, tai chi, yoga, biking, swimming, dancing, climbing trees, etc. 

9. Relationships | Putting time and energy into positive, loving relationships can increase overall good health and well-being. Hugs are important. We live in a touch-starved world.

10. Give time to Spiritual Practice | There are many Helpers, Angels, Guides and Higher Beings who are patiently waiting to assist in the nourishment of your soul and spirit. A spiritual practice can take many different forms. Find what is right for you whether a personal or group practice (or both!).

11. Career | Discover what it is you like to do and do more of it - with joy and enthusiasm!

12. Self Care | Take the time to be loving toward yourself. This can take the form of massage, body brushing, hot towel scrub, tongue scraper, hot water bottle, aromatherapy, foot soaks, baths...or asking a friend for help. 

13. Sing, Dance, Play, Laugh | Laughter reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, lowers blood pressure, improves alertness and creativity. It also gives the diaphragm, face, leg and back muscles a good workout!

14. Rest & Relax | Even a 5 minute time out in the middle of the day will regenerate and rejuvenate your body on a cellular level. And be sure to get enough sleep each night.

15. Cherish the Time for Creative Pursuits | Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, artist, dancer, chefs, prophets & sages are the makers of the after-world; the architects of heaven. The world is made more beautiful because you have lived....without you, laboring humanity would perish.

16. Know Yourself | There is no greater understanding than the one you give to yourself.