Checking in

I am truly grateful that I have so many places where I can check in – with friends and family and colleagues who I love and respect and who love and respect me, and who care about what is going on with me. Not just the stories of what’s happening, but the thoughts and feelings and struggles and joys that I experience as I go through days and phases of my life. When I am with a group, all of us checking in, one by one, going around the circle to each speak what is true for us in that moment, in our lives right now, and being witnessed and held by that circle, I am grateful. And even more so when I hear from some in the circle, as is often the case, that this may be the only place this person has to speak and be heard in this way.

I am reminded of how much I value checking in even beyond my usual home groups that I rely on for this, having just returned from 2 days with the Saybrook College of Mind-Body Medicine residential conference. At this conference where we hold our new student orientation, and coursework for many of the MS and PhD students in the program, there is still room for check-ins. I am so grateful that check-ins are an important part of our work, along with the serious academic rigor of the research work. The best of both worlds!

I rely on the people in my life, the people in my communities, to hold a space for me that I feel even when I am not with them. Knowing I am held in this way, I can go forth and take action in the world, and I can come into my own center when meditating and/or moving alone, and know that I am not truly alone. This means a lot to me, and I thank all of you who are part of the larger community that I belong to. Just by reading this, just by being someone I have contact with in whatever small way, you are part of the community I belong to. In my meditations, I reach out my sense of community even beyond that, to those I don’t know, those I don’t understand, those I struggle with because of actions that they take that seem to me to be harmful to the earth and to other beings who live here. But what helps me to do that reaching beyond is knowing that I have a closer community to come back to, people to check in with on the simplest levels of what it is to live. Even as simple as sharing the food that I eat every day.

The Expense of Real Food

A friend sent me a link to a Mark Bittman article,  “Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?” that is worth reading, particularly for those who claim they can’t manage to eat real food because it is so much more expensive than processed food. It may be more “expensive” in terms of your time – it does take more time to slice up my red bell pepper from the farmer’s market, and put together my own salad with the fresh ingredients I have on hand (plus a few canned or bottled ones, like the artichoke hearts I put in my salad, and a few that I have prepared in advance, like my vinegared red onions). But in terms of price, taking time to cook up various whole grains, vegetables, and proteins is LESS expensive than fast food or packages of snack foods.

The choices we make about food

Just read Scott Tousignant’s blog, discussing his very reasoned and moderate approach to food choices. Definitely worth reading and thinking about! I gave a response expanding on my own thoughts about belief and values driven food choices (as opposed to fear driven nutrition), and thought I’d include it here:

I just want to point out a piece that I think is worth considering in our choices about what to buy, and that’s the health of the planet as well as my own body. When I look for grass-fed or organic dairy products, I am attempting to support farming practices that make for reasonable and healthy lives for the creatures whose milk I’ll be consuming, and for sustainability. So GMO is very high on my list of what to avoid, not just because I don’t think it’s good for me, but because I think the consequences of doing that are devastating for the planet. And although I am not completely vegetarian, I do care that the animal products I eat do not come from animals who were not cared for in a humane way.

You are right on when you say this is belief and values driven, I’m just suggesting that we look at our larger scale beliefs and values in making these decisions, not just the ones about the health of our own bodies.

Thanks again for bringing these issues up and encouraging everyone to look at them clearly and consciously!

I’ve been posting my daily food collages here as well as on Facebook, and got a question over on FB about why I am doing this. My friend Bill asked: “How does this help you? To take pictures of everything you eat I mean??? A curious mind wants to know.”

And my answer was: I started doing it as an accountability tool. Knowing I would take a photo of what I eat keeps me from mindlessly grabbing something and gobbling it down before I think about whether it’s a good choice or a reasonable amount. My food choices are generally very healthy, but I can easily eat more nuts and dried fruit than my body knows what to do with, or an extra piece or two of bread with nut butter or cheese or … you get the picture. This helps me make very conscious choices about what and how much I am eating. I’m delighted to discover that it is helping other people as well, by giving a visual aid for what healthy eating can look like, and some new inspiration about food combinations.

With that said, here are the past week or so of my daily food collages, several of which were during my long drive with my husband Rene’ up to Oregon and back and eating at the Faerieworlds festival in Eugene.