kiwiimage by Dennis Wojtkewicz

I grew up on frozen fish sticks and spaghetti, a jar of Prego, canned asparagus,
a can of fruit cocktail and a 2-liter bottle of Sprite.

Sometimes it was cling peaches in heavy syrup.

My mom worked, had two kids, a full social life and no great love for the kitchen.

Somehow, someway in high school, I began to cook.
I was glued to The Frugal Gourmet and Julia Child and Yan Can Cook.
Even when I had a mohawk.
What.
Yes.
I was making stuff. Having fun. For at least 10 people.
We were a family of 4.
So what that I didn’t know what I was doing.

I seriously love everything about food.
Books, shows, movies, grocery stores, greenmarkets, cook books,
chopping, slicing, mincing, mixing, blending, roasting, basting, eating.
And sharing.
I even dig making the grocery list.

My husband, not so much. Though I’d love to cook with him.
But, he enjoys cleaning, which I absolutely do not – so we’re good.
A lot of people are not into it. I get it.
We live in a city teeming with the best restaurants and everything can be delivered.

So, allow me to wax poetic about food and cooking.
I want to inspire. Tempt you.
And, perhaps, I can lure you into the kitchen.

It’s an obvious start but let’s indulge the 5 main senses.

The sheer diversity of form and color of fruits and vegetables and how that changes when you peel them
and how that changes more as they’re cooked and how they’re cooked I find delightful.
I mean come on, knobby ginger, runny soft-cooked yolks, the hairy ends of leeks.
Soft fresh plump figs and Vidalia onions that go translucent as they caramelize on the slow and low.

The bright scent of lemons and earthy garlic and pungent cheese. Coconut oil and fresh torn sage.
Indian curry and musky melon and burning charcoal are memories and possibility.

The distinct crunch of a macintosh, popping sizzling oil and rapidly boiling water.
Even the shrill sound of sharpening a knife which makes me cringe and happy at the same time.

Fuzzy kiwi skin, sticky drips from a jar of honey, the prickly sides of aloe and the healing slime inside.
The popping of ikura on your tongue, stealing a smear of frosting on your finger.
Squeezing for ripeness.

Salty. Sweet. Spicy. Sharp. Charred. Tangy. Sour. Tart. Rich. Savory. Umami.
It’s even pleasurable to say. Umami.
Ooh you know how some dishes are better the next day as the flavors meld and settle?
And how a sprinkle of sea salt casts magic on chocolate?

And beyond all this is how the act of making something makes me feel.
Creating something that’s greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Finding joy in experiments that fail.

Honoring myself by taking the time to prepare something with care and attention and beauty, even when alone.
To make something that when I eat it will bring me closer to health.
To carefully select produce and read labels and stain my cookbooks and make stuff up
and make messes.

To go beyond satisfied. To be sated.
To invest invest in my wellbeing.
To tend to me.

Making my own choices. Buying my own ingredients.
Feeding myself based on what I know in my bones my body needs.

Sharing love with my friends and family. Caring for them, Nourishing them.
Thinking about them and what they might like. What their bodies might need.
Wanting to share something I love or am excited about or proud of.
Feeding their hearts as well as their bellies.
Gaining a greater appreciation for where real food comes from, how things go together.

Yes it takes a bit of time. Rare and precious time.
Hey I’m not pushing for gourmet. I certainly don’t in my own kitchen.
Crack a cookbook. Or follow your intuition.
Take risks but don’t feel daunted. It shouldn’t overwhelm you.
You may be surprised by how delicious simple can be.

Be careful though, you just may create ritual.
Food could become your Sunday sacred time.
The mindfulness of preparing for your week ahead, or just a warm, fragrant home cooked meal.
It nourishes everything.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

PS – Here are some movies, shows and books I love about food:

Like Water for Chocolate

Cooked

Chef’s Table

Big Night

Eat Drink Man Woman

seed>fruitoflife

I am blessed.
I have incredible women in my life.
I do.
Brave, gifted, creative, fierce, kind, compassionate, witty, funny, wise, strong women. Friends.
Dear, dear friends.
My tribe.
Some are plane rides away. Or subways. Or a couple of doors.
Our bonds hold no matter how much time has passed.
Which is so easy to take for granted in the minutiae of life.
Just with the friends in my own city it is uncanny how challenging it is to just be together.
In the same place. At the same time.
So many many reasons.
I have been been grateful just knowing they’re there. Somewhere.

I think even when I was younger I always had at least one or two stellar woman in my orbit.
But for a long time I didn’t know how to be with them. They seemed in my eyes to shine brighter.
To be other.

And for a while I was working this bullshit lone wolf thing.
I can do everything! All! By! My! Self!

And then last year I got all the feelings. The need. The longing. The missing.

I needed more.

My old-soul daughter, age 6, says of people you feel connected to, that you love or are attracted to that you feel magnetic them.

And magnets attract to each other.

And as some of my truest friendships have deepened I’ve realized that we all shine bright in each others’ eyes. We can and need to be vulnerable with each other. We can listen and empathize and joke and support and vent and laugh and cry and express and understand or not-but-be-there-anyway. And thrive.
And be totally and completely ourselves.

They are just as magnetic to me.
I have just as much to offer them.

I named 2016 My Year of Movement and Connection.
I am reaching out and showing up and I am asking for my people to connect with me like puzzle pieces. I am asking new people I feel a connection with to be my people.

I am joining in, taking part, belonging.
And fostering new shiny chains with beautiful powerful links.
What this does for my heart and soul and ego and smallness is pure magic.

It’s not dependency. Or neediness or burdening. It is fulfilling and energizing and goes both ways and is necessary.
It is support and love and being heard and being needed.

I did my 28-day healing cleanse in January with two other women. We never saw each other once but emailed each other almost daily from weeks before we started until today.
Help, support, soundboards, witnesses, guidance, cheerleading, recipes.
It got us all through and beyond.
Our little community was part of the healing.

On the first Monday in January one of my far away loves sent a group text to me and two others. We immediately responded and this 4-way text is still going on more than two months later. Sometimes it’s just good morning and a shout out to rock the day. More often, it’s day-long conversations between clients/meetings/family about our work and our challenges and showing up in the world and mountains that need to be moved.
We are literally in this together.

Every year, at the beginning of ‘treat, my annual women’s wellness extravaganza, I tell everyone they may be surprised by how much of an affect they will have on each others’ experience.
And I just watch.
I witness these women come together like puzzle pieces.
Clickclick. Oh, you’re my people? I wouldn’t have known. Yes you are my people!

The sharing, the stories, the openness, the acceptance  – in a weekend – is remarkable. And when I realized many of them have stayed connected throughout the year(s), I got inspired to create The Well, a monthly gathering for all the alumni to deepen the bond, expand the circle, keep learning. To keep connecting. Clickclick.
To fill our well.
The sisterhood is the heart of the wellness.

And what might be the most beautiful lesson I’ve learned about myself – and what I see in each of us in my various orbits, is that the more we connect, the more of ourselves we become.
The connections don’t disconnect us from ourselves but help us recognize our true selves more clearly.
To shine brighter in our own eyes.

A community, even of two, is greater than the sum of its parts.
There’s nothing wrong with being a lone wolf.
But even she gets stronger touching base with the pack.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

PS – Here’s the ever-awesome Brené Brown on connection, vulnerability and shame.
Check it.

blog3

 

“I got part of that from Miles, especially the silences. The holes.
Nobody plays better holes than Miles, from a musician’s point of view.
In Indian music they have what you call ‘the unstruck’,
which is the note you don’t play.
That has as much value as the stuff you do play.”
– Jerry Garcia

New Yawk City. Can’t stop won’t stop. Gotta go, gotta be, gotta do.
Even in fitness. Even in wellness. Even in healing.

And I totally get it.
You want to feel better. Or be out of pain. Or be more fit. Or have better posture. Now.
Enough, no waiting, You’ve got a life to get to. More is more. Faster is better.
Instant gratification. Now now now.

So I am here to promote the power of the pause.
The space between.
Embracing the liminal.

I don’t mean stop. (can’t stop won’t stop)
And I also don’t mean a collapsing in exhaustion. This is not even rest.
It’s not even necessarily passive.

Inside these spaces, don’t shut down. Tune in.
See what bubbles to the surface.
Let your nervous system catch up. Let the tissue adapt.
Let all the beautiful work you’re doing shift and gel.

Give change a chance to happen and give yourself a chance to witness it.

Pauses are opportunities. To see what shows up.
These in-between moments create a clear field for you to notice things you never did before.
To acknowledge progress.

If you’re rolling on an exercise ball, MELTing on a roller, if you’re on the Pilates Reformer,
or just got a massage.
If you’re working on a deadline or dealing with a family issue or having an argument or
writing in your journal.
Anything.
Just take a beat or two to bring awareness inward, experience an opening or unwinding or a deeper fuller breath or greater blood flow or releasing. Letting go.

Can you find your stillness inside the velocity?

Even if you’re still in pain,
could you sense a release, an opening, a giving way of tension in your tissues?

Even if you’re on a crowded subway with your headphones. Lower the volume – are your toes curled? Are you gripping your bag more than you need too? Is that headache still nagging you or did you even realize that it’s gone? Are you only sitting on one butt cheek?

Are you clenching your teeth or have you finally let go?
Could you feel your heartbeat, hear your breath?
Could you be present and quiet with yourself for just a few of those breaths?
What do you notice when you do?

Are emotions percolating that you’d prefer to push back down?
Are you caught in a loop of thoughts you can’t shake?

These are powerful gifts of discovery. Of listening and paying attention.

What could happen if your brain and body connected? How real could things become?
Would your truth be different?

I just triumphed through a 28-day healing cleanse. The first 12-13 days were incredibly challenging for me. Everything was so on-the-surface. Every little thing was super intense, physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically. It all was very loud and frantic. I would try to create some fleeting moments of stillness and go inward to see if I could sense what was really happening. It was pretty hard but pretty reassuring. It got me reconnected to what was truly shifting in my body because I was so frenetic on the outside.

It let me honor the space between before and after, between the first step and what was possible for me. To celebrate in my own little way what I was capable of, what my body was capable of, what it took to get there.

It’s not the intention or even the first step. It’s not the goal reached or the finish line or the declaration of being healed.
But these spaces between have just as much value as the stuff you’re doing, being or going.

Can you find the unstruck note?
Can you find your stillness?


let’s rock this thing.
karen

PS – In my first blog post I posted a link to an article by the Medical Medium. His healing cleanse and protocols are the ones I’ve been following and they’ve been nothing short of miraculous. I can not recommend his book enough for anyone with chronic illness, misdiagnosis, unexplained symptoms, no answers, mystery illness, seemingly unrelated symptoms, etc.

 

 

pink

 

“Sometimes you gotta get through your fears
to see the beauty on the other side.”

    ~ The Good Dinosaur

A woman came to me in debilitating pain.
Desperate, depressed, feeling she’d exhausted all her options.
She told me her story and what she’d done for it.
I listened, questioned, assessed. I knew the one thing she was consistent with was greatly exacerbating her pain. I gently suggested a different route to create healing and then go back to it when her body had the strength for it.
I explained my thinking. With diagrams.
And what might be a more supportive route for her symptoms.

She didn’t want to hear it. Didn’t buy it. Thank you no thank you.
Even though she said no one had explained it to her like that before.
She didn’t want to learn how to treat herself but did choose bodywork, came for a couple sessions and quit.
More depressed and further frustrated, she admitted she’d done the same with several other practitioners.

The activity she chose to stick with was something stable, steady and consistent in her life.
I understood without her saying so. I felt for her. She wanted change.
She wanted so badly to be out of pain.
To understand. To get back to her life.
But she wasn’t ready.

Letting it go, and letting go of her beliefs about what could help her meant loss.
Of control. Of what she knew in her heart. Of what she loved.
And those things are way more comfortable (even when steeped in pain) than the unknown.
It’s scary over there on the other side.
It’s dark and mysterious and completely unfamiliar.
The known is safe.

Without it we are exposed, raw and vulnerable. Who knows what could happen?
And who wants that?

This is true for anything.
Identities, labels, relationships, jobs, behaviors, beliefs, grudges, anger,
being stuck in an endless loop of who we were in the past.
It’s a security blanket. We know it so well. We think it’s us.
We’ve told it to ourselves or someone else has, and we believe it. Fiercely.

Let me be clear:
Not being ready does not make you any less than.
Having fear doesn’t mean you deserve pain.
You are not broken. You don’t need fixing.

But sometimes trying and trying is just striving and struggling against the current.

So the trying gets lost on changing the what when we need to focus on the why
as in why we’re not really ready.
Why we can’t let something go.
Why can’t we believe there’s something better on the other side?
Work around that. What is that about?
Why do I think I’m ready when perhaps I’m not? Why am I holding on to this?
What is the root of my fear?
I’m not talking about endless navel-gazing and analyzing.
But recognizing the fear behind it may be the key to unlocking it.
To choosing something else. In the face of fear.

They say letting go creates space for more. For growth. For the good stuff.
They’re right.

I have these bushes outside my house. Huge bushes with gorgeous purple flowers.
Every Autumn our Super prunes the hell out of the bushes.
Cuts every leafy branch down to a nub.
It always seems so drastic. And so unnecessary, at the time.
The leaves don’t turn brown. They’re full. They seem fiiiine.
But the very next summer when the time is right they start to grow and expand until they are massive again, always bigger than we seem to remember – creating a wall towering over our porch with those big gorgeous purple flowers.
And as the coats come out and the daylight shortens, the Super comes by with his shears.

They need to be pruned.
They need to shed this stuff that in the darker times is no longer serving them.
So they may bloom again, bigger than before.

Full disclosure: I don’t know how to know when you’re ready.
I can only answer that for myself.
For so long with so many things I thought I was ready and didn’t get why things weren’t shifting. I had planted myself firmly in the past and was stuck with that identity when trying to make change. But that identity has nothing to do with who I am now.
So I looked at the fears I kept fondling. At the beliefs about myself I so desperately clung to.
I examined what I was devoted to.
And I made new choices.

Full disclosure: This is an over-simplification.
It is by no means easy. In fact, it is very un-easy. In fact, it can be painful.

 

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~ Anaïs Nin

 

And it still happens. And it always will.
There will always be a time for cleaning house, shedding skin and getting real with what
no longer serves me.
There will always be a time to question and not bullshit myself and plug in to devotion.

The start of a year seems a good time to shed. The opening of a new calendar. The clean slate. 365 days to evolve.

But you can do this any time.
Don’t be overwhelmed by January and what it’s supposed to mean.
There doesn’t have to be a holiday or mile marker or specific date to release.
Any day of the year is an opportunity.

At my retreats, we always do a Letting Go Ritual.
We journal, we smudge with sage, we anoint with oils, we walk a labyrinth.
We release a physical natural object to signify our intention.
We write our thing and burn it in a communal bowl.
We call in our support system of those who’ve got our backs.
We question how we might be standing in our own way.
We explore what work needs to be done.
We thank this thing/person/behavior for what it has taught us.

Feel free to take any of these. Letting go is no small task.
It takes work. And more work. And sometimes repeating that work.

At these rituals I always say it’s ok if you’re not ready. There is no judgment here.
Let this work be a springboard.
Work with it and do it when you know it in your bones that you are.

In the meantime, think about what is possible – what can fill the space you clear.
How you can fill the space.

Share with me. Write in the comments or email me about what you’ve done to help yourself let go, how did you know you were ready, what became possible for you – any part of your story.
I’m here.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

cubephoto: Metatron’s Cube. artist: Martin Mancha/Zuvuya Circuit

I begin with clear intentions. Sharing, being of service, connecting on a deeper level. Showing up.

My story, what I do, just may be of help. Conversations that serendipitously come up again and again with different people in my world may be something that strikes a chord with you.
Perhaps you’ll find a bit of yourself in here. Something you can hold on to.

When I was in massage school, we were taught not to share our own stuff with clients. “Leave it at the door,” they said. “It’s not in your scope of practice,” they said.

After doing this work for 15 years, I can tell you those are limiting standards, which have created limiting beliefs.

I’ve used the phrase “not in my scope of practice” on many occasions, cringing, knowing I had the knowledge, experience and resources to help clients on deeper and broader levels. To inspire and empower them treat their body holistically, as a whole, from all angles and perspectives. So in the last few years I’ve chosen to reframe that sentiment. My scope of knowledge, practice and ways I can be of service is vast and I choose to share, even if it’s personal.

I believe in and respect the importance of boundaries, but I also deeply believe in connection and empathy and helping people not feel alone in what they’re experiencing. In sharing all knowledge I possess, if it can shine a light. This choice has shifted my relationships with my clients in beautiful ways.

This blog will be a lot about self. Not always Myself, but selflove, deep listening to self, and how that affects every thing and every one else.

Selfcare is a huge part of my day, most every day. When it’s not, things tend to fall apart in cracks and then chunks. A huge lesson for me over and over, because (why is it so) easy to forget is:

how liberating discipline can be.

Consistency with how I fuel my body, how I need to move my body, receiving bodywork, doing active recovery, resting and simply listening and paying attention to this one precious body I have, comes back to me in serious amounts of freedom – from pain, exhaustion and all the shit that goes with it. Freedom to do and experience more. Freedom to show up for my self and everyone else.

So why do I slack sometimes? Why do I not always carve out time or do for myself what I know will help? Well that’s the eternal question. My answer:

I’m a beautifully flawed human.

Sometimes I make other things priority or I’m just too tired or I just don’t want to or I forget. But then I pay. And so does everyone else. And then I remember again.

A friend of mine who lives with pain posted on Facebook to like her post if you live with chronic pain and that she was vulnerably putting herself out there to say “me too” even if it’s taboo. But then was surprised by the lack of likes she got. Perhaps everyone else felt it was taboo too.

So maybe this can be a space to talk about it.
Maybe this can be a container for broken taboos.
Pain sucks and we’re in this together.

Ok, so me first. I’m cool with that.

A brief timeline: After having a baby 6 1/2 years ago, the exhaustion, discomfort and mild depression wouldn’t shake. Thought it was postpartum. Thought it was hormones. Thought I was going crazy.

Did some research, experimented with diet, herbs, supplements, bodywork, psychotherapy, journaling, cultivating gratitude. It all helped a little.

Except the psychotherapy which consisted of one session where the therapist told me I didn’t know how good I had it, how lucky I was and that I should be more thankful.

But I digress.

After a few years (I told you I was beautifully flawed) I put together a list of tests to take based on my findings. Got some blood work done.

Oh..uh, Chronic Epstein Barr Virus, you say?
Um, what.

Yeah, so it’s sort of like a potent cocktail of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue (read: pain, exhaustion, brain fog). That diagnosis was 3 years ago (I think. I’m a little foggy). Doc said I might be married to it.

So I do a lot for it. And I have way more good days than bad now. But I work for it. It’s a puzzle. I do what I can to figure it out. It confounds me. It affects everything. Everyone.

But so does the selfcare. It affects everything. Everyone.
(See where I’m going with this?)

In conclusion, there is no conclusion.
It’s ever-going, ebbing, flowing. And I am always learning. And it informs my work with clients, which is a nice twist and a great gift, if not a slightly sucky one. That I know so much about bodywork and selfcare and taking a holistic approach to wellbeing comes in quite handy.

Plus, simply feeling good is a bit beige for me.
Working toward the vibrancy of thriving abundance is more my bag.

So what do I do? Well the food thing is kinda big. I said goodbye to some things I love simply because they don’t love me back. Added in a whole lotta superfoods and herbs and minerals. I’ve had to find what works and doesn’t work for me, by experimentation.

Sleep is huge, HUGE and staying asleep is not one of my strengths. So I work on it.

Regular bodywork, daily MELTing, moving my body in ways I love, which brings me joy and keeps me coming back. Essential Oils, Epsom Salt Baths, Homeopathy, Nature, Music, Art, plugging in to a certain feeling, identity, superpower. Letting go. And myriad other stuff.

Jerry Seinfeld nailed it: “If your body was a car, you’d never buy it. Too much maintenance.”

So what do I do when I have setbacks?
I try.

Sometimes it’s a bunch of crazy-making and sometimes there’s clarity.
There’s a lot of: What can I learn from it? How am I responding to it? What can I do to be who I want to be and live the life I want to live while living with this? When I’m having a setback am I still being responsible for the energy I’m bringing to the people and the world around me?

I don’t always have good answers. I don’t always make good choices. I try.

Everyone has a different definition of pain and everyone has a different way of living with it. We all have a different constitution.

But the light I want to shine is this: Care for you. Love on you. This is your one magical life.
And if you fill your well you will have vast amounts to give. Self-care pays it forward.

Check out my instagram feed. It’s called Random Acts of Wellness. It’s about recognizing things as self-care that you haven’t before. And seeing all the small things you can do here and there to love on yourself. Cultivating awareness. And stuff like that.

Moving forward I can assure you this will not be an Epstein Barr blog.
But if you can grok this from my professional and personal perspective, if you’re inspired to create shifts,
if I can help, then it’s no longer taboo.

So maybe we can get a conversation going. I invite you to share your story or your selfcare or your questions in the comments. Or email me privately. I’m right here.

Let’s rock this thing.
karen

PS – To be clear, psychotherapy can be amazingly beneficial with the right therapist. I was just referred to the wrong one.

PSS – By sheer coincidence (hello Universe!) just after finishing this post, a friend posted this incredible article on Mysterious Illnesses, with EBV being the most mysterious and essentially causing the others. This information is astounding and never before put out there. I have since gotten the book and have been devouring it. I highly recommend it for anyone with one of the illnesses listed or have been misdiagnosed. Or if you are a wellness or healthcare practitioner.

Wellbody, Union Square, NYC, specializes in therapeutic bodywork and self-care. Massage Therapy, Raindrop Technique, Aromatherapy, MELT Method classes and Fluid Core classes in one studio.
41 Union Square West, Suite 521 New York, NY 10003
Latitude: 40.737047 Longitude: -73.990538
Phone: (917) 673-9935