surrender. and suck it up. words of wisdom from my music teacher and 5-yr old niece

After a particularly poor performance on an Aural Perception test – where we listen to the teacher play melodies and rhythms on the piano, then dictate what she plays … crazy hard, for me  – the teacher asked us to raise our hand if we did not like Aural Perception. My hand crept upward. I was not alone.

She looked around the room and said,

“Okay, we’ve acknowledged it.
Now surrender.
And do it anyway.”

This is the same woman who said the first week of class,

“Listen, if I can put pantyhose on at 5 am to be here, you can throw on some sweats and be here by 8.”

I just love her.

She continued…

“In high school, you may have been able to show up occasionally, not take notes, cram and pull off decent grades.”

(I’m in community college, surrounded by 18 year olds and 20-somethings.)

“You are smart people. I get it. But, at some point in your education, classes start requiring serious effort. As you go deeper into your specialty, you’ll discover areas that do not “come natural.” You’ll have to study or practice. A lot. There’s no getting around it.

“To become a pro, ya gotta know this stuff. At this point, just to move forward in your education… ya gotta get past me…with a C. So, figure out what mastering Aural Perception looks like in your world…AND DO IT.”

I don’t know about everyone else in the room, but I had a lump in my throat, the one I get when I’m “scolded” for not doing my best, especially from someone I respect and has my best interest at heart.

What I heard was a mixture of :

“quit whining and be a grown-up,”

with a dash of Dr. Denis Waitley’s ,  “winners do what losers don’t want to do,”

and my 5-year old super-discplined-trained-not-to-cry-gymnast-niece telling me to “suck it up,” after she found me crying while packing her bag when it  was time for her to go home after staying with me.

So, as Gretchen Rubin suggests in “The Happiness Project,”

I decided to Identify the Problem.

In a nutshell:

While I am blocking out big parts of my day to study, (that rules out not having time) after about an hour in, I get frustrated and feel an incredible pull to do anything but study. I take a few breaths and make myself sit there…until I get up and go to the pantry for some chocolate chips. Okay, sometimes I’m lucky to make it 30 minutes before making that 30-second trek.

Back at my desk, I might eek out another 30 minutes of study…

Before I’m pantry bound again. and again. and again.

Coming off the sugar crash, I grab Bisbee and a bean bag for a nap.

Now it’s time to make dinner.

And, I’m not even hungry.

I eat it anyway.

Now, I’m really tired.

And way too brain dead to study.

I go to bed feeling guilty.

And go to class unprepared.

This could be the problem.

Maybe it’s the big 5-0 pending…I’m finding myself less patient with my excuses and general laziness for not doing the things I know make me feel good.

Maybe it’s time to grow up or, “suck it up” as my niece says, and just do them.

(Note: This isn’t me being hard on myself. This is me being honest with myself.)

I do not want to spend the second half of my life bloated, haggard and disappointed that I don’t have the energy to do the things I want to do.

One of which, is play the piano.

The beauty of 50-ish is that I have a pretty good idea of  the daily formula that works for me:

Eat three meals: some protein + healthy fat (i.e. a lot of avocado) + A LOT of veggies = focus, energy, a flatter belly, ease around sugar. BONUS: if I’m eating this way, Robert is eating this way, so he feels better too.

Move my body: at least 20 minutes of cardio + 20 minutes of yoga + the occasional hike and swim = feeling grounded and light in my body.

Meditate: Morning Pages, a bath, legs up the wall or sitting for 20 minutes. The form it takes doesn’t really matter. All of it = magic.

Sleep: a bath and not eating right before bed (especially sugar) works wonders, and totally removes haggardness from the equation. This is important.

Play the piano: 20 minutes of practice a day keeps discouragement and overwhelm away. And somehow that 20 minutes always turns into 40.

Connect. Writing, encouraging, cooking, sharing, listening, capturing moments, posting them on Instagram…the output of these is directly related to all of the above.

If they’re not getting done,
no one is getting any love.
And, that does not feel good.

I remember an article from a Glamour-type magazine, something like “Your Body at 20, 30, 40, 50 and Beyond” saying, in your 20’s and 30’s you pretty much have the body God created. In your 40’s and 50-‘s, you’ve got the body you’ve created.  

The good news is that if it’s not what you want, there’s time to turn it around.

While I don’t think it’s ALL about food, I know that the life I want definitely STARTS with food. It affects everything. No matter how old I am.

I took another tidbit from “The Happiness Project,” and decided to:

Do what ought to be done.

I re-read “It Starts with Food,”  one of my favorite books on how food affects hormones, thyroid, immunity, energy, digestion, belly issues, allergies, sleep…

The more I understand how the body works, the more I’m able to make peace with changes I need to make.

I’m 8 days into their Whole30 Challenge of 3 meals a day, consisting of simple, whole foods, without grains, dairy, and sugar and I am already sleeping better, my belly isn’t bloated, my appetite is healthy, I have all-day energy and best of all – there have been no pantry trips for chocolate chips!

I don’t do a lot of food challenges or cleanses, but sometimes the structure they provide can be comforting. Following a plan when you are unsure or don’t have the energy to figure it out on your own can be just what you need to get back on track and experience how good food can make you can feel.

This book also offers one of the easiest menu / meal planning guides I’ve seen. Basic dishes such as one-skillet-meals, curries, soups and more are offered with a variety of ways to make each one, so what is essentially an elimination diet doesn’t feel so limiting.

If you are looking to get your groove back in the kitchen, or are searching for easy grain-sugar-dairy free meals that taste really good, give this one a go.

Healthy eating is a process. It will never be “perfect” because our bodies, tastes, environments change, but a guide such as this can bring us a little bit closer to knowing what feels best in our bodies.

And, maybe the next time we get off track (because there will be a next time), instead of giving up, we simply grab the book, or whatever works, and get re-inspired to get our groove back.

That’s the key.
Coming back.
However you get there.
This is essential.
The world needs your best self.

What is your heart telling you to come back to?  What could you accomplish if you simply did it?




















gifts beyond the gift card. part 2. a few of my favorite things…


visions of biscuits dance in his head...

visions of biscuits dance in his head…

Let’s say cookbooks aren’t their thing, but you’d still like to give a gift that will inspire your loved ones to continue the path toward their healthiest, most creative, courageous, stylish, best self. Here are a few of my favorites:

Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World”s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself. I love Rich Roll”s, down to earth guy”s guy perspective. He”s not over the top about any particular health or philosophical path, he just shares a story anyone – not just uninspired, out of shape, middle aged corporate types –  can relate to.  Buy the book and share a link to his weekly podcasts. They”re free. Even the ones I think I won”t like, I end up loving. Cute t-shirts too. Peace Plants!

finding ultra

Superhero online courses with Andrea Scher. I started with Andrea”s “Treasure Hunt,” photography course, then moved on to Start a Foolish Project and Mondo Beyondo. Her 30-day photo class totally changed the way I look at the world. I don”t look for “photo ops” anymore.  I capture moments. It is one of the best ways of practicing presence. No fancy camera necessary. IPhones are just fine. Although if you have the fancy camera and have no idea how to work it, she can help.  Her other courses creatively get to the heart of what it would take to live your own Superhero Life. Anything Andrea does is professional, inspiring and rich with over the top content.

dvf scarf

The Woman I Wanted To Be. This memoir by Diane von Furstenburg reads like a fairy tale. She is a princess, after all. However, this is a true story with real life sprinkled in. What I love most about DVF is her never-ending ability to see the goodness in people, life and the power girls/women have to create whatever life they would like. If you want to go over the top with this gift, add Journey of a Dress and maybe a scarf (leopard poppy print shown above.)  Or, the iconic wrap dress for the extra lucky 🙂

Money. Tony Robbins hasn”t written a book in 20 years… because he hates writing. I would never have picked this book, even though I”m a fan, without the recommendation and video interview by Marie Forleo. After I watched it, casino online the book immediately made my “to give” and “to read” list. Perfect for anyone, whether they”re just starting out or already have an empire. Or, just share the video link. It”s free and full of tips, money related and beyond.


Fed by Threads. Anything. Seriously. I have shirts, skirts and leggings. I”ve given their onesies as baby gifts, and I would love any one of their scarves or socks. Every purchase buys an emergency meal. Every item is made naturally, in the U.S. Truly a company and people you feel good supporting.

jade 13

Ben”s “Be Kind” Bells.  Little boy dies suddenly. Parents cope with grief by making ceramic “Ben”s Bells” and hanging them around town to spread reminders of kindness and gratitude. Crazy amazing. I have two of these hanging outside my front door. They are precious. Any of their handmade gifts or Be Kind apparel are special. Take a moment and read the rest of their story here.

be kind

Grace and Lace. Another crazy amazing story here. I bought these legwarmers at Session Yoga. Stop by the studio or shop online for even more scarves, armwarmers, boot cuffs…. Love. It. All.

Pangea Organics. I haven”t been a stickler for organic body products and cosmetics, but I had a Pangea party this year at my house and fell in love with their lip balm, body oil and scrub. I am a lip balm and body oil fiend. Do I really want to be basically eating something loaded with chemicals everyday, all day? Considering our skin is our largest organ, do I really want to be slathering moisturizer all over my skin that is loaded with chemicals? No. This just makes sense to me. Gift the lip balm and buy a couple for yourself… one for the car, one for the bag.

noted by Marni Zarr. The most precious letterpress paper products.  Marni”s hot pink notebook fits perfectly in my purse and her “I Am a Hot Mess” folders are keeping fashionistas organized from coast to coast.




If you happen to live in Tucson, you can”t go wrong with a facial or massage from Hakem, an yoga or an ayurvedic treatment from Lisa, a pedicure from Greentoes or a Session Yoga gift card for classes and workshops like these! 






gifts beyond the gift card (part 1) + go-to cookbooks

Looking for a gift that runs deeper than a gift card? Maybe even one that encourages, inspires and helps your loved ones feel good far beyond the holidays?

For anyone who has shown an interest in healthier eating, not just the cooks in the family, these cookbooks read more like manifestos. They are stories of the author’s personal path to finding their groove with food.

I also appreciate that they are written for people who aren’t necessarily passionate about cooking. What they are passionate about is making food that gives them energy and gets rid of the things that make them feel bad – digestion troubles, crazy cravings, issues with cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid, food allergies, etc…

All of them are packed with ways to incorporate more real food into your meals… something everyone can use, no matter what your health condition or food philosophy.


Tara, me and an armload of her cookbooks :)

Tara, me and an armload of her cookbooks 🙂

Tara Stiles, Make  Your Own Rules Diet. Like all things Tara, her recipes are super simple. This one is ideal for “non-cooks” and anyone flirting with getting into yoga or meditation… lots of how to’s included.  I’d also pass along a link to her You Tube channel where she shows how really simple this food thing can be in the Recipes section. (Mainly vegan, gluten-free, natural sweeteners.)

Gwyneth Paltrow, It’s All Good. Gwyneth’s more of a cook… but if you can follow a recipe, it will be All Good with this one. After feeling  burned out and lethargic, she turned to an elimination diet to get her back on track. Insight from Dr. Alexander Junger (of Clean) and Dr. Habib Sadeghi, combined with her passion for real food offer real-life menus for real-life families. This is the most food-stained cookbook in my collection. (Mostly gluten-free, natural sweeteners, has meat, but lots of plant-based options too.) 

Giada, Feel Good Food. This one, along with Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr are close seconds for my most used cookbooks. I love Giada’s for her beauty secrets and Kris’s for providing the MOST powerful “plant-based-diet-as-preventative-medicine” message.  Be sure to pass along the link to her Crazy Sexy Cancer movie trailer to whomever you give it to. I credit that movie, along with her blog and book, Crazy Sexy Diet for inspiring me to really explore the food thing. Both offer easy recipes. (Kris’s is plant-based. Giada has some meat + lots of plant-based options.)

Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris. Just when I thought I’d mastered smoothies, my friend Ashley rocked my world with this book. If you know anyone perplexed by superfoods like cacao, maca, lucuma, and goji berries, this is the perfect gift. Or, if you know anyone perplexed by what to do with their Vitamix, this is the perfect gift. Add Superfood Kitchen and Superfood Juices and make it a Super Special gift !

Simple Recipes for Joy: More than 200 delicious vegan recipes, by Sharon Gannon. This one was given to me by my yoga teacher, written by her yoga teacher, with a foreward written by my healing, nutrition teacher, Kris Carr. How can this be wrong? While I’m not vegan (yet), my heart has serious vegan tendencies. Receiving and reading this book is encouraging me to follow my heart. Regardless of where you are on the subject, the recipes are easy and nutrition-packed.

Breakfast Criminals. This is more of a movement than a book. Ksenia has taken superhuman breakfasts to the streets of NY, encouraging people to start the day with a bowl of love. You can download the e-book and order a heart-shaped bowl for a sweet gift. Two people on my list will be getting these 🙂

heart bowls

I could go on and on with cookbooks. Stay tuned for other gift ideas in Part 2 🙂

If you need help finding your yoga, meditation or food groove,  join our40 Day program at Session Yoga, beginning January 6th, or “Let Go of 2014″ workshop with Jes Gale on December 19th. Sign up here!




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