Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Snap-Shot of Another Kind -- Food Tourism and the Healthy Pleasures of Home

I do believe I am finally at home, in body as well as mind/work. It's been a fascinating several days, complete with food-tourism and now the welcome return to what I know and need. I want to take a ‘snap-shot’ of another sort here, a look at how well I know what I need and what gifts can arrive in the hospitality of others on an adventure-journey to Brazil.

I arrived home at 10:30 p.m., after a long drive from the airport and a round of the city to get here. I fall into my own bed, freshly showered and relieved “to have made it” by 11:30 p.m. The morning rhythm beckoned, a need for the 'familiar-friends-energies' stronger than my body’s need for rest. Or maybe my body’s need for movement-rest in the welcoming-familiar spaces I get to play in these days. Today has been about continuing to arrive home, re-acclimating from a short but intensely full trip to Brasilia, Brazil, home of a writing-sister-friend, Lorena, and her family, Roberto, Luisa (14), and Sandra (9).

An important part of the weekend was the food, after all, amidst table-fellowship and festivities shared together in that way. I entered into the journey with enough supplies to tend to my eating-choices as I do when I have complete choice and control. Seedbread for the journey, some avocados that would have gone bad had I left them at home, macadamia nuts and almonds in single portion bags, for awareness’s sake, coconut-nut ‘granola’ on-plan and easy to travel with. Packets of nut-butters too. The airplane food was clearly processed, but at least they had chicken and a green salad that was ‘close-enough’ for an adventure. My own resources kept me steady and nourished.

The arrival into “Brazilian breakfast fare” was the start of the clear ‘food-tourism’ journey with friends. Tapioca flats—a round, tortilla-like bread that you put butter or cream-cheese on. Jelly if you like. A warm round ‘loaf’ of something called ‘cous-cous,’ though not as I know it. Cornbread with a marvelous texture and taste—not too sweet, good crumb to it. And the next morning, the best papaya I have ever tasted in my life. Fresh, sweet, as it was clearly meant to be eaten. Proteins and greens not in sight, though I think there was a container with ham and cheese in it. Some of the best coffee I’ve tasted—rich, not bitter, smooth.

My internal dialogue was fascinating. I wanted to be fully present to all that was available to me. I felt some fear at how my body might not benefit from the choices available to me. I chose consciously to ‘let go’ into the adventure and trust what would come. This was with ‘food-tourism’ in mind, releasing the conscious choices of these last months about carbs and sugar. 

It was important to me to relax into being a guest, in an incredibly hospitable place. It was also important for me to try foods I’ve never had opportunity to try, just to enjoy Brazilian culture and customs. There was curiosity alongside the fear – how would my body respond? Would the hunger patterns of old return? [Yes, they did... Greater ups and downs with low-blood-sugar moments, and then sugar crashes where I lost focus and attention… Expectable and yet negotiable, with awareness.]

I won’t relay the entire buffet of Brazilian food ‘events,’, but the main dishes included a fish stew (moqueca),

the classic Brazilian feijoada—rice, beans, pig parts, kale, farofa (farinha prepared for a meal), cilantro, salsa, slices of plantains. Then the Brazilian Steakhouse—huge veggie selections with ‘wandering meat minstrels’ offering me as much beef-chicken-pork as I could possible desire…and then some.
It was impressive. By the fourth day, I simply went with what appeared before us, knowing the journey was nearing its close.


I felt like I used to feel regularly—uncomfortable in my skin, bloated, unsure in my feelings/sensations, even unsteady. The cravings’ patterns returned, making me more reactive and edgy, fearful even. I yearned to be home where I could choose for myself without relational host-guest consequence.

I’ve not even been home for 24 hours yet and I feel so much better, steadier, grounded. I got to move this morning, familiar yet scaled for a post-airplane-body day. The grocery was so familiar and welcoming—organic greens of many kinds, ingredients for curried cauliflower soup and cilantro-lime mayo (in which I used to double the lime, I recalled! Much tastier with that much zing). Various meats jumped into my basket, and I returned home to myself with a favorite breakfast – eggs, finely chopped kale, thick-cut bacon, and ½ avocado. One half portion of granola or chia porridge with almond butter, if I’m still hungry, which I usually am. I prepped salads and soups, roasted the brussel sprouts that would have gone bad if left much longer.

Now I sit here on my couch, Nala sleeping next to me, finally feeling more myself than I have in the last 3-4 days. I’m glad for everything I got to taste, to experience, to learn in my travel to a continent and country I had never been to before. And I am glad to return home, BE in my skin as I now know to be, smiling into the moments before me with CF peeps, family, friends, and a calming, steadying way to feel good in my own body again. A bit of a list poem says more...

The Healthy Pleasures of Home

Bear hugs at the airport
Debrief of all our travels,
each in his/her own language(s)
The warmth of a canine welcome,
Nala lap-napping on the car ride home
Deep sense of connection
with those now far away again,
A yearning to remain-with,
a yearning to be returned Home.
Hot showers after multiple airports
Sleeping in one’s very own bed,
Companioned with life-partner love
Early morning movement
with fitness-focused friends
[Including stories of fish-nibbling pedicures
(who does that anyway? 😁)]
Return to body-familiar activity,
Jungle-gym play in welcoming safe space
A variety of warm-up, workout, memory:
Oxygen in, carbon-dioxide out
Prayer of another sort.

Familiar grocery stores and food labels
Greens and more greens—
kale, asparagus, avocado, zucchini and more
“Good morning, beautiful” in my ear
Brazilian coffee and breakfast anticipations
A home in the Shire, really,
With soft edges and necessary rhythms
Of presence, absence, friendship & solitude
Prayer of another sort.

Food preparations that make a body smile
Kale—two kinds—and curried cauliflower soup
Three pepper salad, to make use of what-is
Bacon, brussel sprouts, chia porridge,
Another batch of cilantro lime mayo
(Double the lime) after a favorite breakfast
Familiar tastes, pleasure in feeling good again
Prayer of another sort.

None of these things makes a home
All of them welcome me fully, blessedly, Home.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Living into the Expansive-Playful...Out There

I’m curious about the bump that happens in my own mind when I get into the car after a CrossFit WKO. I notice it every time, today with opportunity to see if words come for this now-traditional part of my day.

I don’t notice a shift entering into the gym, though I enjoy entering the gym, entering into the chit-chat and general hilarity that can be 8 o’clock CF circle-the-WKO, a ‘happy hour’ of a healthy sort. (Today’s bemusement was around ‘mullet’ haircuts, apparently becoming all the rage again with teens today).

We begin the warm-up movements, the prep-time, then dive into WKO itself. At this stage of the process, I’m as least in my ‘mind’ as at any other time in the day. Nor am I solely in my body, however. This is one of the gems of CrossFit, methinks, however we name it. Bodymind in closer coordination with each and every part of “me.”

The thing I notice is the bit of a mind-jolt when I get back in my car to drive home, or in this case, to the coffee shop for a blog-writing and ‘check-in’ treat for myself before a long trip. I feel this every day when I’m leaving the gym. I don’t feel this other places. What has felt expansive and fluid lands back into an enclosed space, a drive into the day’s work and home tasks. What has opened me into the day, with a gentle pace and then deepening intensity, is complete. My body lands into a comfy chair, sometimes with heat rising in its coils, feeling good and smiling inside. My mind seems to bump into something, something connected to the ‘outside’ containers of my life—work, home-tasks to get done, tending to the needs of others for the next several hours. (Most of which I love and am blessed to live and breathe into…).

The sacred-outer work that I do brings me this noticing in terms of ‘circle.’ A habit of mind-body in circle differs from most other contexts in which I move, share my being. Traditional environments like school and church do not gather in circle-way form, even if the chairs are placed in a circle or a committee/meeting gathers around a conference table. In these more square or triangular ways of gathering as human beings, there are clear authorities—teacher, pastor, priest, boss, chair—whose leadership and role govern the spaces or determine delegation. Hierarchical and a bit top-down, some more than others. In contrast, the archetypal energies of Circle invite more equanimity, more participation and co-creation without anyone in the ‘center,’ ‘at the front,’ or ‘being responsible for the meeting.’

CrossFit does have a coaching structure, of course. You can observe a ‘top-down’ or hierarchical and competitive structure in some gyms/boxes. But the general ethos in the box I know best is delightfully collaborative and co-creative. The preptime before the WKO is a series of small conversations with the coach of the hour, discerning and sometimes debating the weights, the movements, the rep counts to achieve deepening intensity AND collaborative timing. Your own mindbody is invited into this flow, making decisions ‘under supervision,’ I say with a smile. I really need supervision, both to protect my own body and to be gentle with myself inside. This is a value of having a smaller-size ‘box’ than some I know in the area. Your own mindbody journey can expand, in a safe and bounded way. I suggest for myself what feels do-able and challenging both, and I can be playfully challenged to increase the difficulty or confirmed in what I feel inside. Again and again, as the days move. I grow stronger and stay engaged in an expansive mindbody way because of this dynamic.

So perhaps what I can say is this CF box lives thoroughly into a circle-way wisdom, with a great sense of humor about the paradoxes of CrossFit (communal/competitive, athletic achievement/deepening fitness…). Participation and co-creation are valued, which allow an expansive play-space, with good challenge to keep getting stronger. Relying on the resources of community to hold and to encourage.

The competitive drives in many of us can play in more fierce ways, with those who want to. I love to see some of the more seasoned athletes push each other, drive movement beyond what they’d do if they were on their own. A recent series of a ‘burpee race,’ for instance. A race I did not need to participate in for my own burpees, but a race I could enjoy in them so very thoroughly. Optional. Invited, as your own mindbody desires to play…or not.

Which preserves this expansive, encouraging, playful space in my own mindbody. When I get into the driver’s seat of my car, put my bag and water in an easy place to reach, I bump into the confining habits of mind in the settings of my outer world: the body-dissociated faculty colleagues and pastor-types so intent on the needs of others or of their own minds that they become surprised when their bodies give out on them in illness or injury; the verbally-oriented, heavily-embodied writing-women I get to journey with as we ‘get circley’ with one another in our writing practices aimed to help us live more consciously. (And by heavily-embodied, I do not mean ‘weight’ or ‘body-size’—I mean women carrying painful histories of body-shaming, abuse, guilt, refused grief, self-denigrating voices, etc.); my own home, which can be rife with anxiety-deferred though controlled, a space often body-avoidant and emotional-food-focused… I love and serve in each of these spaces AND…

I get back into the car, again and again, aware of how expansive my mindbody is because I’ve spent an hour in a circle-way community, built around fitness, led with passion for ‘just show up,’ ‘just get better,’ as I get to define it. A signal of circle-way. I get to experience the expansiveness of my own mindbody, with distinctive gifts for the world around me. I remember it more throughout the day, because it’s been less than 24 hours since I was last there, feeling myself expand inside.

This is one of the reasons I am such a frequent participant, to a bit of awe from my husband and some others in my life. I care less how my body looks, though I'm practicing receiving compliments (which I tend to deflect and not receive very well). I love how good I feel inside. But I thrive more and more, both inside and out, when my mindbody has room to play…play a LOT. 

I notice the distinctiveness when I get in my car. So...how to live that expansive playfulness into more and more of my world(s)...? Listening...