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My Week of Eating Pretty

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.—Hippocrates

Last week I came home around 10 to nosh on a leftover piece of pizza and the last 1/4 remaining in my tub of non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter & Cookies ice cream. As I stood in the kitchen eating my exhaustion, I scrolled through Facebook and stumbled upon a friend’s invitation to join a group cleanse. I looked down at the now empty tub as my belly began to ache and sent her a text, “I’m in!”

You may recall the not-so-successful 10-day cleanse I tried in January. I was determined to do better since I’ve been semi-successful at cutting back on sugar this year. With Tim away on a bike trip, I figured I’d be living on green smoothies and cold cereal with almond milk anyway, so why not nix the wheat chex and add in salads instead?

The 7-day cleanse started last Sunday and ends today. Basically it’s no animal products, no caffeine, no alcohol, no gluten, no added sugar, no processed foods—hello, plants! Plus skin brushing, journaling, baths, exercise, and 12-hour fasting from dinner to breakfast (ex. last meal by 8pm, breakfast after 8am).

The photos above show my week’s colorful buffet: green salads, green smoothies, warm water with ground flaxseed and lemon, kale chips with nutritional yeast, brown rice with broccoli and Bragg’s liquid aminos.

My main indulgence has been an entire tub of Crazy Richard’s all-natural (only peanuts) chunky peanut butter eaten by the spoonful and often smothered over apples. Honestly, probably not allowed, but I ignored that one. My cheats have been a few dried apricots and a tiny bag of pretzels leftover from a recent Southwest flight.

For the past two years I’ve suffered from chronic headaches and semi-regular migraines. Today I realized I hadn’t reached for an Advil all week and definitely not those hardcore migraine pills that kill the headache and create a ripple effect of other issues.

I’ve dealt with eczema since I was a little girl and while it comes in waves, I’m usually treating some irritation. This week I noticed the tiny spots on my wrist and calf had cleared up without the use of my steroid ointment.

I’ve definitely felt lighter and cleaner, too. All in my mind? Maybe, but I’ll take it.

Oh, and other than a dinner date at Fig & Olive with a girlfriend (I had a salad), I only purchased food out once—a $3 miso soup. Typically I get tons of food at various spots like Sweetgreen, Starbucks, and Teaism. Instead I hit the grocery store twice and had plenty of fresh produce to sustain me.

I’ll complete the cleanse tonight with a salad or smoothie and probably reward myself with a Trader Joe’s mini croissant (or two) for breakfast.

The book Eat Pretty in the top image also served as inspiration for this cleanse. Over the past few months I kept eyeing it in bookstores and specialty shops, so I picked up my own copy. I’m loving the reminder to let wholesome foods be the tool for an inner and outer glow and to nourish from the inside out.

While we know this, it can be hard to remember when tempted by that not-so-healthy treat. As we feed our souls, may we choose to eat pretty . . . with occasional indulgences, of course. Bisous.

Bonjour October: Slow Down + Shed

October by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Welcome to a brand new month and a season aligned with slowing down and shedding as exemplified by the natural world. Leaves change and fall. There’s a crispness in the air. Energy turns inward. A deep desire to nest falls upon us—sit fireside, curl up on the couch with a book, sip mulled cider.

This is my most favorite time of the year! Yesterday I picked up pink mums, a knit beanie with faux fur, and fire logs. Bring it on, October!

I came across this minimalism game on an Instagram post (thanks, Gina!) and, considering I already have an entire day set aside for decluttering, I think I’ll try this.

Last weekend I was in Northern California for a memoir writing intensive and had one free day with a simple goal of getting into nature. After a hike among the redwoods and their intoxicating earthy and musty aroma, we hit Point Reyes Station where I, of course, had to wander into the bookstore on main street. Then I, of course again, had to pick up the book World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down after I found it waiting for me face up on a side table. It felt like a sign.

Anyone else want to join me in the intention to slow down and shed? Here’s to October, where Frost encourages us to “begin the hours of this day slow.” Bisous. x

Everyday Tranquility {+ Giveaway}

Today I’m delighted to be part of Bella Grace‘s Blog Hop along with 15 other beautiful writers. See below for a chance to win a copy of Bella Grace‘s latest work, Field Guide to Everyday Magic, and read along for a muse on everyday tranquility.

There is no perfection, only beautiful versions of brokenness.—Shannon L. Alder

Over the past few weeks I’ve said goodbye to many things—a business I nurtured for 18 years, a therapy job and dear clients at a downtown center, a beloved neighborhood cat whose meow has been replaced with a shrine, and an office I’ve used since launching private practice. And these are just the ones at the top of my mind as I pen this post.

When I consider these changes, I’m reminded that change is the one constant in our lives and the ability to weather these shifts is what truly leads to everyday tranquility.

Sure, being surrounded by tranquility tools such as journals, cups of tea, flowers, books, and loved ones is divine, but those not-so-tranquil moments in between is when we’re tested and, ultimately, can grow.

For nearly two decades I’ve written about tranquility and shared numerous ways to find it in every day here on the blog, in the podcast, through books, and on retreats. Yet I’m learning that my ability to maintain a sense of tranquility is best when it’s not dependent on outside circumstances since they are constantly in flux.

I believe that what matters most is having a sense of tranquility deep within. A self-compassionate spirit that speaks kindly to oneself when under pressure and whispers a gentle, “bless your heart.”

I believe everyday tranquility is found through tiny pauses in between. For example, before diving into projects and seeing clients, I started today with a soak in the tub. Between clients and a meeting, I stopped into a local salad shop for a spinach, arugula, watermelon, and peach salad. As I type this, I’m sipping a green juice and facing the window to savor natural light. After seeing clients tonight, I’ll meet up with a girlfriend to see the Thich Nhat Hahn film, Walk With Me.

Sure, these are small every day sort of things, but they contribute to feeling grounded while the world whirls around me.

Life is not perfect. Change is hard. Loss stings. Flat surfaces in my home (such as those shown in these photos) are often covered with a thin layer of black pet hair and I eat too much sugar. As the above quote notes, “There is no perfection, only beautiful versions of brokenness.”

I  believe everyday tranquility is found in our imperfection. Embrace what makes you uniquely you. Find your own voice. Live out loud and don’t apologize.

Wishing you deep, intimate moments of messy, everyday tranquility. Bisous. x

Giveaway: Share a takeaway from today’s post in the comments section below by Sunday, September 17 noon ET 11:59pm for a chance to win a free copy of Field Guide to Everyday Magic. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents. International participants are eligible to receive a free digital edition of Bella Grace. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced here on Sunday evening. Good luck!