Saturday, May 21, 2011

Moving on

Our landlord sold our house. Ok, technically it’s his house, but he’s never lived in it, so untechnically (an obvious antonym for technically) it’s our house. The day we move out will mark six full and exact years since the day I moved in. It’s bittersweet. There are things about being settled that I love. And yet for our whole lives we are harnessed to the fluctuating tides of change. Fortunately when I’m in a trusting space, I love a little rendezvous with the unknown even more than a comfortable seat.

When Steve moved in to the house there was a picnic table, TV, and an ashtray in the living room. The kitchen cupboard housed a stockpile of paper plates so that no one had to do dishes. When I moved in there was green shag carpet in the bedroom. To put this in perspective, there was no vacuum in the house, two dogs that slept in the room and countless roommates before Steve that had lived and done lord knows what else in the room a la shag carpet. My mom visited three days after I moved in and promptly went and bought us a new toilet seat. Enough said about the state of things.

Over the last six years we’ve painted, we’ve purged (I’ve prayed), and slowly we’ve grown the little nest we call home. A wise woman (also known as my Mom) suggested that before we move, we collect the energy we’ve put into the house. The only way I can think of doing that is by giving thanks. Six years of living calls forth a lot of gratitude. Gravity too. Indeed life delivers as much as you can handle on both ends of the spectrum.

I had just started nutrition school when I moved into this house. Our pantry has accommodated a zillion batches of kombucha and the counters have seen the sprouting of every kind of nut, seed and bean. My consulting practice grew while I walked the trails near my house, dreaming into the nooks and crannies of how I could offer my understanding of nourishment to the world.

I birthed Finn in this house. On a gorgeous June day with the help of my skilled and attuned midwife, the tireless and loving arms of my husband, the sweetness of a dear friend, the calm energy of my mom and the howling of our Anatolian shepherd; Finn made his way earth- side and nothing (or at least very little) has been the same since.

I planted my first garden here. My mother- in- law helped me tuck beans, tomatoes and cucumbers into the earth, while my father- in- law fixed the door on our van. It was a revealing afternoon given that it was the first time my in-laws (who were then my boyfriend’s parents) had visited us in BC and even though I couldn’t garden worth a whip and was also the one responsible for the gigantic dent in the van door, they still liked me.

My step-father used to visit me in this house, though he wouldn’t remember that now. Dementia has changed his landscape dramatically over the last few years and I give immense thanks that I am still a familiar beacon to him. Dealing with his decline has sort of been my secret life. Living in a different city has meant that my presence has been energetic rather than physical but because of the closeness I share with my mom, it still feels like I’ve been front lines for much of it. The loss of a man who I loved as my spiritual father has taken many different shapes and provoked countless different feelings.Though I think it has taken greater strength to witness my mom, who has been asked to rise again and again and again. While her heartache was infectious, so has her spirit been. I hope I’ve inherited her ability to always find a way to stand.

I’ve also loved and lost two dogs while living here. It was a package deal when I started seeing Steve: old house and 2 dogs. The house took me some time (years) to bond with, while the dogs had my number pretty quick. They, like Finn, ruled the house. And they usually got forgiven before I finished scolding them. They were loved in the imperfect ways that I, as a human am capable of. But the love that came back to me, truly did feel perfect. We had known for some time that we were going to have to say goodbye to Wicky and when the day came it couldn’t have been more heart-wrenching or beautiful. We lost Suka (a.k.a. big dawg or biggs) suddenly and it’s taken a long time for the ache to pass. One thing that’s helped is a gift I got last year for my birthday. Steve commissioned an adored and talented friend of ours to paint a photo of biggs. The canvass hangs in the dining room, but through the open door of our bedroom, it’s one of the last things I see every night before I turn out the light. He is still our loyal shepherd.

This house has revealed many things to me. That walls are mere representations of limits and that when you commit to growth you do indeed surpass them. That everything changes over time, but we can’t see it while it’s happening. When I’ve felt stalled and stuck, there is actually a whole whack of energy happening behind the scenes that will one day result in a magical “poof” and put the world as I know it, on its head. That no matter how much new paint you add, new furniture you buy or room shuffling you do, you have to be ready to change your own interior landscape before you can actually feel at home.

In the time that I’ve been here, I’ve become an entrepreneur, a wife and a mother. I am leaving this house with far more than I came with. No doubt the soil beneath me is rich. When they tear down this house, perhaps they will find the piece of paper I buried the day before my 30th birthday. It was a list of all the things I was not willing to be scared of anymore. Not knowing my place in the world was one of them. For all the times I’ve cursed the power lines overhead or the scaly bath tub floor, my time in this house truly has brought me closer to finding my way home.

Humble abode, I bow my head to you.


Friday, January 21, 2011

be it resolved...

...that i will consume more caffeine in 2011.

this is as far as i got with my new years resolutions. i know, i know, we're nearing the end of march and i'm past-casting. i've got a theory about delaying said resolutions however. here it is:

make resolutions in late december (i.e. get fit, stop eating sugar, learn an instrument, meditate) then spend january procrastinating, eating sugar, and looking at your mandolin. once february rolls around reflect on which resolutions were really true for you and fit the scope of your life (so sugar stays for awhile, big deal). and then march, march you nail it. march was just made for starting self-empowering plans like increasing personal caffeine consumption. an obvious goal for a nutritionist.

so my disclaimer here is that i'm not actually drinking grande mocha frappe whip whips or slurping back colas bright and early in the morning. i'm merely enjoying a homemade matcha latte here and there (coconut milk and raw honey mmm mmm) and noticing that i am much more likely to exercise, go out in the evening (true story) and run 40 laps around my house with a shrieking toddler hot on my heels once i've borrowed the power of the mighty caffeine.

i say the word "borrow" with great reverence. it's clear to me that caffeine enhances my sense of clarity, my get-up and go, and sometimes my mood, but it ain't my own personal mojo.
that you build through good food, good friends, good love and good living.

i guess this is just a' for the record report' that my good living now includes caffeine.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

i was in the kitchen when you called....

oh my, a lapsed nutritionist and now a lapsed blogger to boot. thank you dear readers who continue to check in on me despite my poor attendance on the page over the last few months. my only excuse (though i think it's a good one) is that i've been spending more time in the kitchen and less time on the computer. see, i told you it was a good one.

in the last couple weeks, i've managed to convince myself that i've put my time in with packaged food and that i'm finally ready to move on. up. back (to my roots, not packaged food). my approach to this however, is one of healthy moderation. i will not give up noodles that cook in under a minute or my good friend the tortilla chip.

it's hard for me to say exactly what coaxed me back to the world of real food. i'm sure it has something to do with having a child who can now play (for a little while) on his own. i used to cook with him in a sling, which prompted a brief flirtation with the entrepreneurial idea of the "hib", or hat-bib. it also made for very erratic, interrupted kitchen practices. i've burnt most of our pots and once found lemons in the freezer.

another reason is that our bodies, when we listen to them, really just want the real deal. i got to the point where convenience became too much of a sacrifice for what i truly needed. so while i still don't feel like i have a lot of extra time, i am slowly making cooking, eating, and general kitchen-ing a priority.

and so, over the last few weeks my "things that make you go mmm" list has included: caramelized onion, carrot and dill scones, mung bean dhal, blueberry pancakes with apricot coconut cardamom puree, and chicken stock simmered nice and slow. i also pulled out our stoneware crock and spent a morning preparing cabbage to become its higher (in my opinion) life form: sauerkraut. if anyone has made sauerkraut before, you know that you gotta put some muscle into it as the cabbage needs to be pounded in order to release some juice. if you likewise have any experience with a toddler, then you also know that they love to copy what you do. if you just formed the mental picture of a small child smashing the heck out of his lentils and rice with great pride, you're bang on.

may you find the time to do what nourishes you. it doesn't matter what it is. feeling good looks great on you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

out with zee old

july is my birth month. i am on the leo side of july, which is a partial explanation of why i love my birthday so much (attention & celebration for shy ol' me....shucks). the bigger reason for my adoration however, is that my birthday acts like a mental re-set button. my own little New Year. a time for reflection, thanks, forgiveness and goals with lots of gusto.

as a tradition i write a gratitude list and a letting go list. this year, as part of my ongoing goal not to take myself too seriously, i'm also making public, a list of confessions. it's all about food, and i promise it's PG. no particular order, i confess....
  • i've taken to cutting up food into small pieces and freezing it. my rational side deems this normal and even helpful for portioning and having food on hand for my little tyke, but there is an element of quirk to it that i need to disclose. i find these small pieces of neatly organized food very satisfying to look at. so much so that i'll occasionally open the freezer just to check on these small food items and their perfect arrangement.
  • i ate take out all last week. seriously. didn't cook a darn thing.
  • i eat cereal or ice cream out of mugs. it's my way of disguising the fact that i've eaten either of them for supper. bowl of cereal? nuh-uh, not me.
  • if i was going to be stuck on a desert island and there was only one food that i could take with me it would be broccoli. it sounds so nutritionist of me, but its true. (that's not to say that i wouldn't try and sneak along some tortilla chips).
  • i find myself in a grocery store 5-7 days a week. of these 5-7 days i am likely a) wearing my pajamas under my clothes *although this is much easier in winter* b) wearing food on my clothes or c) really, really trying not to do both, but nervy enough to use the "motherhood made me do it" clause if i find myself in such a situation
  • i tend to finish finn's leftovers. this is sort of like eating 1.3 meals at every sitting.
  • i used to hide my favourite foods on my husband. passive? yes. childish? mmm hmm. effective? no, he finds everything. but i am pleased to say that the artichoke olive hummus is no longer casually placed under the leafy chard in the vegetable crisper. i am no longer a closet hoarder. i am now a food sharer with boundaries.
i leave you here dear readers. not quite squeaky, but still pretty clean.

may your summer find you with cherry-kissed lips, blueberry-stained fingers, and heart-shaped strawberries to share with someone you love.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

feeding the cat

yesterday i had a cappuccino-coconut milk ice cream smoothie for breakfast. yup, just a quick left, a jag to the right and a short jaunt down the road from the ol' millet porridge standby.


nutritional detours aside, what i am part giddy, part stymied about is the fact that i have spent a year of motherhood without the company of caffeine (see footnote.) why did nobody tell me?! is this why strollers have consoles that are a perfect fit for a large cup? is this how mamas keep their houses clean?

while i appreciated my altered state for a good half hour,what i came away with was more than an erratically completed to-do list. see, i've always been caffeine free. no, not to become the patron saint of sleep deprivation or because i'm a goody goody, but because it actually feels terrible in my body, unless the circumstances are just so (i.e. i'm hydrated, i've eaten, i'm relaxed, the sun is at exactly the right angle-that sort of thing...) regularly going without caffeine means that when i do encounter its rich-bodied goodness, i have a FULL experience of its influence- and it ain't for sissy's.

caffeine changes the
entire tempo of my body and mind: my heart rate increases, my body temperature changes, my thoughts move like a thoroughbred. now this is not to make a 'for' or 'against' case about caffeine. it's simply a reminder that we are constantly under the influence of what we choose to put in our bodies ( yes, i have re-worded the "you are what you eat" cliche, but not without feeling very passionate about doing so). eating on the run, eating the same things every day, eating overly flavoured foods- all of these things give the body mixed messages about what nourishment really is. perhaps more importantly, it doesn't allow the eater to really experience how a particular food or drink makes them feel. this, THIS, my friends is the key to knowing what is "right" for you to eat.

when you feel lethargic, jittery, calm, or clear after eating consider that you are listening to the conversation between food and your body. if you can't hear very well, try taking a break from your habitual foods. start by picking 2 of them: one that you feel truly does your body good, and one that you have a serious crush on but have a sense that it might just be leading you on. commit yourself to a 7 day fast from both of them (going longer will certainly up the ante, but i am trying to prevent any panic here). after 7 days, have a date with said foods ( i suggest spacing them out by a day). then give yourself fully over to the experience of eating (or drinking). no distractions. just you and your beloved.

now what do you notice? are you instantly pleased, satisfied, or heartbroken? does instant pleasure give way to a headache, cravings or a mood swing an hour later? or do you realize that half the day has passed and you still feel nourished? what did your body and that coffee or kale or peanut butter sandwich talk about?

i know, i know it seems like a lot to think about all at once. but for all of you that are hungry to know more about how to eat "right", i say this:

curiosity doesn't kill the cat, it feeds it.

1. in case you didn't know dear readers, something as fine as coconut milk ice cream actually exists. no dairy, no soy, not even refined sugar...just straight up, real deal, frozen love.

2.and before you tease me relentlessly about my coffee buzz, it wasn't just cappuccino flavoured ice cream, it's made from REAL coffee and REAL coffee beans. geez....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

back in the saddle

it's official. my maternity leave is over--or at least the government-funded aspect of my leave has ceased. in truth, i think a part of me will never fully return from this time in my life.pajama marathons would be very hard to give up.

so here i am. right at the point where the seemingly disparate parts of my life intersect. a meshing of the meghans. the year i've spent busting out creative raffi renditions, consulting google about teething remedies and being awake when the rest of the world is quiet and dark has changed me. my heart feels bigger. i am both more gentle and more fierce. i've done things that i would've previously told you that i couldn't do.

there are, of course, things that have remained the same. in particular, the feelings that i had when receving my last deposit from "EI-Canada": i feel both blessed and terrified to be self-employed. but such is the path that i've chosen so its time for my raffi-singing- self to get to work.

now where did i put that hat?

last week i had my first 'back to work brand new never met before' client. from our email exchanges i knew that we were going to be a good fit. nevertheless, i was not entirely home free from wondering if i still knew what i was talking about, if i could actually ever help anybody with anything, or carry on a conversation that did not involve digressions on the subject of a certain you know who.

in no particular order, here are the things that help me to feel like a bona fide professional: earrings, matching socks, lip gloss and my trusty leather satchel.

i tend to be a big fan of my clients. they're just so smart and sincere, real and inspiring. its true that i love food, value nutrition, and have a big crush on health, but the joy i get from my work is really because of the people i work with.

and so it is, that i often leave a consultation feeling inspired and a little wired. one of my own little quirks is to respond to over-stimulation by eating. it used to just happen, and now its more or less a conscious tick. eating can be a grounding experience. sometimes i'll choose deep breathing, walking or yoga instead, but the other day, after meeting with my newest exceptional client, i did not.

the banana was preceded by toasted pumpkin seeds and followed by leftover rice noodles and a pickle. this odd assortment of snacks might leave some thinking that i'm trying to get out of self-employment by heading back to maternity leave.

i assure you i'm not.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

dear meghan, i was wondering....

with the exception of calling a bowl of frozen raspberries and a mug of chamomile tea "dinner" the other night, its been a fairly calm week chez rathwell. a few days ago, our family of three even managed to take in some sunshine while sitting on a patio, enjoying a cold beverage and eating yam fries. i'd say that we're approaching normalcy, if i believed in such a thing.

( finn highly recommends the menu)

my reason for writing today however is not to talk about my food frenzies, but

since starting to blog, i've realized the immense opportunity that exists for dialogue, learning and community building, right here at this very web address. while i enjoy the cathartic nature of my writing process, i didn't expect that i would be on the receiving end of your heart-warming, juicy, and insightful muse. i love it, and think it would be selfish to keep you all to myself.

so in honour of all of us who like to eat, write and wonder what the heck we're doing,
i'd like to offer a little dose of nutrition Q & A.

i invite you to email me with questions of the food-based kind. at the whims of my sporadic nature, i will dedicate posts to you and your questions. i hope to adjust my sails according to the volume of correspondence i get and evolve my blog to meet the interest of the reader-folk. but for now, lets consider it practice-mode. oh, and please know that your emails to me are confidential and i will not be posting any names or information that discloses your questioning self.

to get you in the spirit, i'm including a recent exchange i had with a friend after he read one of my posts. in it, i had named myself as an advocate for "whole foods." he writes....

Q:" what does whole foods mean?"

A: " whole foods is a term used to describe fresh, alive, REAL food found in its natural state rather than reduced to separate components. whole foods retain their vitamins, minerals, enzymes and can therefore offer you the optimum amount of vitality. like oats with all the fiber and gritty goodness rather than quick oats designed for microwave cooking. whole foods have their little food souls intact."

Q: "does this mean i should eat the feathers?"

A:" no, but a regular shaking of your tail feathers is encouraged"

serious, silly, personal, ...lets start talking.