recovery discovery

I have grown to resent the number hours I need to sleep to feel rested. I find myself saying things like “if I could just wake up a little earlier” or “if I could just have a couple extra hours in the day” all the time. Although, I’m quite sure if I had “extra” time, I wouldn’t spend it resting. I would undoubtedly find ways to fill that time with all sort of stuff and find myself in the exact same situation.

Not long ago Crystal posted about slowing down and taking time to enjoy the little things in life. I read it and even commented that I agreed, but have I taken time to slow down since then? No, I have not.

Every day seems like a race against the clock to do more in our waking hours than we did the day before. If we succeed, the bar is raised! (And so is our anxiety from trying to continually increase our productivity.) If we fail, we feel sad and guilty.

So what gives? When our cell phones and tablets indicate a “low battery” we know and respect the limited amount of time left. We stop what we are doing and scramble to find an outlet, we rush to recharge these devices so we can stay connected. People will traipse miles in an airport or conference center to find a place to plug in their devices. We even tote little portable battery packs so that we can stay charged up.

If we can understand the limited lifespan of our rechargeable devices, should we not take it a little easier on ourselves? It’s as if we expect our “batteries” to last forever. If we do actually admit we feel depleted, we make excuses as to why we have to suffer through it and we keep on trucking.

We don’t recharge. We grind away at life, willing ourselves to continue despite our exhaustion. Why? Because we feel guilty.

Self-care is greatly undervalued in this country. Most can agree that we don’t have time to be sick/injured/tired/not in the mood, yet most of us don’t take the steps needed to prevent the maladies from affecting us.

While taking a vacation may not prevent you from getting the flu, research shows that it can relieve stress. Chronic stress can affect a wide variety of biophysical processes AND can weaken your immune system. Regular exercise and a whole food diet may not put more money in your bank account, but it may help you sleep better. Arriving at work well-rested helps us stay positive and productive. 

Taking “personal time” can be seen as a narrowly afforded luxury or worse, as an excuse for slacking off. (The entire concept of playing “hooky” was born from the idea that our personal time is not valuable enough to be taken seriously.) We feel irresponsible taking a “personal day,” like doing something just for fun is not value added. We have talked already about the importance of playtime, but still why don’t we allow ourselves a break?

If we temper our expectations for our devices when the batteries run low, why can’t we also temper our expectations for ourselves?

There is a tremendous amount of research in the fitness world that suggests that recovery is as critical to your routine as the workouts themselves. Elite athletes all over the world tout the benefits of the “off-season”. Think about it, even professional basketball players do not hit the court every single day. They spend long hours training in their chosen modality, but they also take time away. Giving the body time to rest and rebuild between workouts is the keystone to realizing progress.

Recharging does not have to include sleeping, or binge-watching shows on Netflix-although that is pretty darn nice too. Rest and recovery means engaging in low-stress (physical and emotional) activities that stimulate creativity, bring joy, or help us connect with others. Cleaning my apartment has become a favorite off-day activity for me. (I can’t believe I just said that. Mom will be SO proud!😂) I can take it at my own pace, listen to music, and by the end I feel way more relaxed.

Whether your recharge involves being playful, productive, or simply present in the moment, relish in it! Plan for and look forward to it. Make rejuvenation a habit. The ability to recover from stress (whether it’s physical stress from a workout, or emotional stress from an intense day at the office) helps us raise the intensity, to endure higher levels of stress in the future. BUT it is not until we slow down and give ourselves time to recharge that we can actually raise the bar.

The only way to make progress in life is by allowing our minds, our bodies, our spirits, to rejuvenate. Just like our cell phones, sometimes we absolutely NEED to power down and give ourselves a break. If we keep going without enough rest, we become useless…just like an iPhone with a dead battery.

Go hard, my friends! Chase your dreams, and live large. But, if you’re ever feeling tired or stressed, it’s okay! Sometimes rest is best.

Namaste,

E

coming out of the fog

HebrewDawn: coming out of the fog

My daughter is just about to turn nine months old, which means she will be out as long as she was in. As we hit this milestone I finally feel like I’m coming out of the proverbial new mom fog. If you’re in the midst of the fog you might know what I’m talking about. If your past it, I’m almost certain you know what I’m talking about. Whether we’re in it or past it, we all eventually come out of the fog.

As a mom, it is always an adjustment to embrace your new found identity. You had this baby that spent nine months growing inside of you, but now it is learning to live outside of you. You spent months adjusting your growing belly and now you must recalibrate and learn to provide for this little person all the time. 

Not only are you learning caregiving skills, but you also have this new identity called motherhood to embrace. You’ve gone from being your own person, and now your some little person’s whole world. If you already have older children, you’re learning how to share yourself with all the little people vying for your attention. No matter how many children you have, it’s always an adjustment to accept the new you.

When you have a baby, they’re always worried about you having postpartum depression. No one talks about this fog you’re living in. With so many things changing in your body, your life, identity, etc. you spend your days with your mind spinning. I am here to share something with you that I’ve heard from almost every mom; adjusting to this new identity as a mother is a challenge for everyone. I’ve also heard from almost every mom that we do make it out of the fog and see our world clearly once more. The way we see our life and world may be different than before, but it is now filled with lots of love and joy. 

yours in motherhood,

C

HebrewDawn: coming out of the fog

slow down…

HebrewDawn: slow down
Lately, I’ve stopped taking the highway on some of the routes near my house because I’ve come to a realization. The view is much nicer when taking the roads less traveled. This new desire to slow down didn’t happen overnight.

At least once a week for the last month I’ve noticed something new, discovered an interesting event when traveling near my house. Over the weekend a question suddenly hit me when debating taking I295 (an interstate going through part of central Virginia) or driving down Mountain Road (a road in Glen Allen where I live)…

Why are you in such a hurry? Why don’t you slow down?

Besides, taking the interstate rather than other routes isn’t always faster. Sometimes traffic is backed up and could have been avoided by staying off the highway. But most of all, if I did not to drive down the local roads I would zoom past what’s happening in my community.

If I’m always in such a hurry, I forgo the opportunity to see the improvements that make where I live better. I miss out on the events that matter to the community in which live, and the chance to be a part of them.

So now I ask you, why don’t you slow down? Why are you in such a hurry? What are you rushing past and missing in the world around you?

Our desire to hurry isn’t always in the car. It’s in our desire to be “connected” to our digital world. Our need to monitor the updates, our mindless scrolling. Sometimes we forget that when we are “online” we are out of touch with what’s happening now. our faces are looking down, we fail to see what’s happening around us.

Why are you in such a hurry? Why don’t you slow down?

Let’s take a deep breath, and enjoy where we are and instead of always focusing on where we’re going. Let’s relinquish the need to be in control of everything. Let’s commit to allowing space to savor the good around us. Let’s stop rushing through life and start slowing down.

xoxo,

C

HebrewDawn: slow down

when volumes speak #metoo

HebrewDawn: when volumes speak #metoo

I have to take a moment to appreciate the gesture of those tiny words. As I’ve scrolled through my social media feed over the last week, I see countless women (and men) coming forth in brave solidarity. These people are my family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors; and for many, this is the first I’m hearing of these events. This movement is not about trending or gaining new followers. It’s not about one-upping or getting attention. It’s not even about righting the wrongs of the past. It is simply about awareness. This is a demonstration that encourages volumes to speak two little words…me too.

Some of you have courageously shared the details of your experiences, and I commend you for this because I couldn’t do it. To be honest, I still feel like the times it happened to me were my fault. I still feel like I let it happen; although, the throngs of you who are bravely acknowledging that you too have had this experience is slowly chipping away at that feeling. Seeing all the #metoo posts are slowly helping to alleviate the shame. 

Brene Brown a renowned author and research professor suggests that empathy is the only way to eradicate shame. In one of her videos she explains empathy with a powerful example. An example that epitomizes #metoo  and why it is, in fact, a gesture of empathy.

I thought for a great while about not “fessing up” and posting the #metoo status, but I chose to speak. Besides, what has silence brought me but shame and torment? In truth, the way I’ve handled my shame is by isolating myself. I stopped living my life because I was afraid of repeating “mistakes”.I considered the situation to be something that was my fault so in attempt to gain control, I removed myself from the situation. I stopped drinking with my friends, I stopped dating, I thought twice about what I wore and how it made me look, I chose my words more carefully. I built a wall around myself.  I thought it was to keep bad things out, but it has only served to keep the shame close. You see, we can try everything in our power to “remove ourselves from the situation”, but it will only do so much. When we stop living our lives, we are giving in to the shame.  At the end of the day, the only thing that can ease our shame is the awareness that we are NOT actually alone.

The truth is this; if any person has tried to engage you in any sexual activity (conversations, touching, name calling, photos, etc) to which you did not provide consent, that is WRONG. It doesn’t matter if that person is your boyfriend or your boss or your coach or whatever. Taking advantage of someone by force or leveraging shame IS WRONG. The assumption that a woman is promiscuous due to her dress or behavior or that she gives consent by default of these attributes is WRONG. Consent is quite simple. It is a clear YES. Any response other than an emphatic  YES is a f*cking NO.

Excuse my language, but this is a very serious thing we are dealing with. Last Monday tons of people came forward to say “me too”. To crawl down into the pit with those who are hurting and say we are here and we understand. This gesture has helped me to feel a little less shame, and a little more brave in standing up for what is right. I  hope it does something similar for you, too.

In love and kindness…

E

the “I thought I didn’t like eggplant” recipe

HebrewDawn: the "I thought I didn't like eggplant" recipe

 

 

I really love food, but I especially love recipes that take me back. In an attempt to be more conscientious of how I fuel this movement machine, I try to balance healthy with delicious so I’m not feeling too deprived. I find taking the time to make something indulgent from scratch takes a little more planning, but usually tastes a little better and just makes you feel good. It’s like a hug, from your mom 🙂 The recipe I’m going to share with you today will take you back to a time when you had something unexpectedly good. Even if you don’t “think” you like eggplant, I dare you to try this recipe. It’s really great, easy to prepare, and quite versatile.

I’ve been (mostly) vegetarian for five-ish years now and I will be honest, there are some things on the savory end of the spectrum that I miss. When I have a hankering for crispy, salty, cheesey something, this is my go-to.This recipe is crunchy, savory, and satisfyingly simple. Please enjoy my take on my mom’s eggplant parmesan:

Ingredients:

eggplant
note: if they are big bulbous ones, remove the skin and cut into half-inch rounds. if they are skinny, just slice in half, long-wise, if they are the little golfball sized ones, they are too cute for this recipe and you should just roast them whole 🙂

**the following ingredients are for roughly 2 portions so multiply as needed for the number of servings you need.**

1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 c of parsely
1/2 c plain breadcrumbs
several shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
shredded cheese for sprinklin’ (any kind of melty cheese would work: parmesan, cheddar, havarti, mozzarella, whatever you have on hand)

Method:

Start by peeling the skin from the eggplant. If you like the skin, you can leave it on. I don’t mind it, but the egg and breadcrumbs will stick better if you remove it. Then slice it up; rounds, long strips, whatever. Once you have it peeled and sliced; salt both sides and press it between paper towels for at least 25 minute. You can use a heavy skillet weighted down with cans or something of the like to press. If you have time, you can “press” it for up to an hour; the more water you will remove and the crispier it will get.

While the eggplants are getting “pressed”, preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Lightly beat the egg and combine with the milk and half the parsley. Season with pepper if you like, but no salt since the eggplants will have some residual salt from the pressing. Add the crushed red pepper and remaining parsley to the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.

Next, wipe away the salt from the eggplant. They will have released a good amount of moisture, so just try and get them as dry as possible. Now set up your little assembly line. This is mom’s influence. She always says that you need to try and keep one hand clean when you’re doing a coating like this so you can access things you need without getting breading all over the place. She’s a smarty pants, that one. Anyway the order is as follows: eggwash, breadcrumbs, lightly olive-oiled baking sheet. And so it goes, dip your eggplants one by one into each mixture to lightly coat.

Once your sheet is full, throw them in the oven for about 15-20min. When you take them out the bottoms should be golden brown. Flip those little nuggets of yum over and bake on the other side for about 5-8minutes. Then add some cheese to the top. Try not to get carried away, all though it’s easy to do, and bake for another 2-3min or until the cheese is melty and golden on top.

Voila! This is it. It’s up to you from here. Maybe you dunk ’em in marinara like you would a cheesestick? Load them into a toasty naan with hummus and lettuce? Serve as a side item with some sauteed kale and navy beans…The possibilities are vast!  Enjoy 🙂

with love, light, and blessings,

E

HebrewDawn: the "I thought I didn't like eggplant" recipe

the awesomeness of autumn

Fall in LoveIt’s officially fall, y’all! While I love balmy temps, long days, and cut-off shorts, I long for cardigans and combat boots. For many, the summer ended unofficially with the passing of Labor Day and the start of another school year. Others look to the Autumnal Equinox to usher in the new season. Still for some, the re-appearance of “Pumpkin Spice” everything signifies that cooler temps are on their way.
There are so many reasons to embrace the awesomeness of autumn and it seems that more people than ever before are getting into the spirit of the season. Whether you’re cheering on your favorite football team, picking apples at your local produce patch, or simply enjoying a mid-day stroll without sweating through your clothes; it seems we LOVE to get outside during the fall. For good reason, too! Decreased humidity, moderate temperatures, and the beautiful changing of the leaves; all things that are best experienced first-hand.

We can turn our love of fall into a habit. Taking time to #optoutside is a great way to engage with loved ones, take a break, and appreciate the beauty all around us. Here are some ideas to embrace the awesomeness of autumn!

  • Working-lunch picnic: take your lunch to work one day and find a spot to eat outside. If you don’t have a dedicated sitting area, you can get creative! Organize an at-work tailgate with some coworkers. Bring your folding chairs and a radio for the full experience.
  • BYOP Porch Party: This is great for kids of all ages! Turn your porch into a GOURD-geous gallery of pumpkin art! You will need some kitchen utensils and newspaper for carving, and some scrap paper for tracing designs. Have guests supply their own pumpkins.
  • GET in the GAME! Gather up your neighborhood pals for a game of two-hand touch football, cornhole, kickball, basketball, TV tag, whatever!
  • Leaf collecting: this is such a fun activity that you may want to do it multiple times. Take a walk and search for dropped leaves that have started to change. Notice how the colors become richer throughout the season.
  • Fall Pub and Grub Crawl: Explore your local surroundings on foot. Plan a hike/bike/trek with a delicious destination. Food and drink are always better after a little adventure.

Get creative! There are so many ways to fall in love with Autumn. In the Triangle NC area, where I live, there are tons of local 5k races for great causes popping up this time of year. Whether you run it for time or walk with friends, you’re guaranteed to enjoy yourself. You could check out a local music or food festival; Sylvan Esso and Friends at Shakori Hills was the PERFECT welcome to fall event. If you like to see or be seen, fall is your chance to get out and play. Hope everyone enjoys the cooler temps this week! I sure will 🙂

Love and blessings to all y’all!

E

HebrewDawn: the awesomeness of autumn

to the perfect parents

HebrewDawn: to the perfect parents

Dear Perfect Parent,

I have a few things I’d like to share with you today. I want to commend your efforts at being the perfect parent, because it’s not somethings we all aspire to be in life. You believe in the depths of your being that you are doing everything exactly right, and that you have a thing or two you can teach the rest of us.

You are decidedly the best example about breastfeeding or formula feeding, when to start your child on solid food, when to send your child to preschool and kinergarten. Oh! Let’s not forget about extra activities like soccer, dance, music lessons, and swimming. You most assuredly make time for your child to do it all. God forbid a parent choose themselves over their child wants.

Do you sense my sarcasm yet? I hope so, and I hope you’ll join me in doing the following…

No more shaming.

No more blaming.

No more judging.

START supporting others.

Let’s get our views of perfection straight and get them in check. They are ruining amazing mom/dad friend opportunities. Let’s not assume that someone is shaming, blaming, or judging us. Instead, let us assume that the perfect parents are all of us and that we all want to support one another.

Let’s do this parenting thing y’all!

C

done is enough

How often do you fret over going the extra mile on the project that’s been assigned to you at work? How many times have you worried about finding the perfect vendor to complete an update or correction to something in your home? How often have you said no to a volunteer opportunity because you didn’t think you were knowledgeable enough? Have you ever considered that done is enough?

Over the years I’ve learned to let go on having that work email typed out and articulated “just” right. Once I learned to let go, I’ve been the editor for coworkers stressing about sending out the “perfect” email. More times than not, the final product is not all that different from the orignal version that was being fretted over for not being quite right.

Over the years my husband and I have spent hours looking into every possible lawn care company that could solve all of our problems. We’ve reached out to neighbors to find out what works for them and their yard. We’ve then worried if it’s worth the month, if there are too many chemicals, and what if we made the wrong decision. We spent so much time researching and worrying that it delayed having a beautiful yard we can enjoy.

Over the years I’ve recruited countless volunteers who doubted their ability to serve. They though that they couldn’t be a Girl Scout leader because they were never a Girl Scout, but they turned out to be the most dedicated to learning EVERYTHING about the program, it’s history, and how to lead their girls. These leaders were more than capable and simply needed to say yes and get through their orientation. 

I’m not convinced that the driving factor in all of this is perfectionism. I am inclined to believe that it’s our own fear of judgement from others that we aren’t completing the job to perfection, choosing the best vendor for the job, or being the best person for a volunteer position. If we can let go of this fear of criticism or ridicule, we might we see that we did the best we could, we did find the right person for the job, and that we are a good fit for the opportunity.

Perhaps, if we can accept that done is enough, we will learn…

  • that anything we complete is done exceptionally well
  • we cannot spend all of our time researching, because we are missing out on other things in our life 
  • that we are capable and called to serve for ne volunteer opportunities

Don’t be afraid to say yes and know that done is enough.
HebrewDawn: done is enough

mommy brain is real

Whether you have kids or not, I’m certain you have heard about Mommy Brain. My dearest Erica (aka happedancing) always wondered if it was real, and then a few of her close friends had children. One of the first things she said to me was, “DUDE, mommy brain is real!” Of course I responded, “oh yes, mommy brain is definitely real! Thanks to it, I feel half-stupid all the time.”

Since having kids I have moments of feeling functionally crazy or off my rocker. Frequently my husband questions the half done projects, things left on the tables/counter, and tasks left undone around the house. I attribute all of this to mommy brain. But none of these compare to the Chicken Incident.

I was just a couple months postpartum from having our second when I invited my friend Steph and her daughter over for dinner. I warned her it wouldn’t be anything super fancy as we were running errands that day. We both agreed that time spent together was of greater importance than a fancy meal together.

The incident…

That afternoon I took a trip to Costco with the girls, to keep the oldest entertained (she LOVES their samples). I also went to get some needed groceries, and I picked up a rotisserie chicken. I almost always get a rotisserie chicken if it’s anywhere close to dinner, because I know I’ll get at least two meals out of it. Work smarter not harder right?

HebrewDawn: mommy brain is real

Once we got home I put the chicken in the oven to keep it warm until dinner time. Next I put on a pot of brown rice to cook, because I figured I might as well make the sides healthy if I was bailing out of cooking the main dish. Right about that time Stephanie arrived. The weather was so gorgeous we decided we had to go enjoy some time at the playground with our girls. After awhile we came back to the house thinking the rice would be almost done so we could get a vegetable made to go along with our easy but healthy dinner.

In the midst of doing this I remember that I needed to warm up the chicken since it had been a little while since we got home and turned the oven on (mind you our oven defaults to 350 degrees). I started preparing some broccoli to sautée on the stove, turned on the stove to get the cast iron skillet hot, and then I noticed something about the rice cooker. The remaining cook time on the rice was 75 minutes and we need to feed the girls in about 20 Minutes as it was close to meltdown time for two hungry three year olds.

Suddenly something smelt a little burny (I don’t think that’s really a word, but I’m going with it). Then I remembered that I had put the chicken in there earlier to keep it warm. The chicken now had it’s plastic container melted all around it. *face palm*

HebrewDawn: mommy brain is real

Mommy brain struck again and I had ruined dinner. I waited too long to start the brown rice, and most importantly the chicken was inedible with melted plastic all around it. This was moment that I could have chosen to cry, but all I could do was laugh and give thanks that I had a good friend with me.

HebrewDawn: mommy brain is real

We turned off dinner, loaded the kids in the car and went to Chick-fil-A. I may have had hopes of providing a healthy dinner of chicken, brown rice, and broccoli for dinner, but fed was definitely best that night. Not to mention the two almost hungry three year olds were tickled to have dinner together at one of their favorite places. I guess mommy brain isn’t always so bad for everyone?

pause and press play

When was the last time you did something just for the fun of it? I’m talking about gallivanting shenanigans, here. Really try to think…I’ll wait.

So many of us lead full busy lives with hardly any leftover time for shenanigans. It is widely known that play is critical for children to develop creative thinking and problem solving skills. But who has time for playing around in their grown-up lives?

HebrewDawn: pause and press play
The truth is that playtime is important for people of all ages. Engaging in activities purely for enjoyment can bring much more than fun into our lives. Dr. Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute of Play. He defines “play” as an apparently purposeless activity; something done for it’s own sake that is fun or enjoyable. There are many different types of play available to adults, but the important part is that we are only invested in the activity as much as it is pleasurable to us. Basically,  the act of playing is more important than what you do or how it goes.

For instance, I teach dance and yoga in Raleigh, NC.  While I am extremely passionate about both activities in any context, I have a much different experience giving a class than when I’m taking a dance or yoga class. As a teacher, I spend a lot of time preparing lessons, creating sequences and choreography, to make sure I can guide my students safely and effectively through each class. Sort of like having a party at your house, my job, as the host, is to make sure everyone is having a good time. When I am NOT the teacher,  I can let go of my expectations and live in the moment. I can be present in what’s happening right now and not worry about where we came from or what’s happening next. It is truly a gift to be a student attending, and I find my practice in both modalities is invigorated by this playtime. Conversely, the absence of playtime leaves me feeling like a stale bag of chips…

Humans are not alone in their need for play. Dr. Brown has researched play among species in the animal kingdom, finding that species that play more when danger is not present are better able to defend themselves when a threat emerges. There is also evidence that animals of different species can communicate through play.  Brown’s famous story about the polar bear and the husky illustrates this amazing concept. This suggests that in some way, from an evolutionary standpoint, play is purposeful. That is an odd concept to wrap around the old noodle…Why on earth would messing around give us an advantage?

Regardless of our age, the act of playing catalyzes some pretty important reactions:

  1. Playing helps us connect with others; when we are children, it’s how we develop communication skills. As adults, it helps us feel trust and bond with one another.
  2. Playing helps improve our brain function. Games from simple to complex engage the mind and increase our cognitive function.
  3. Playing helps us relax. Because we are enjoying the activity, we let go of our sense of time when we’re playing.

Even if we are simply taking a mental break from it all, playtime refreshes us. Maybe animals who play sleep better and are more rested when the time comes to be active? Maybe that group of thirtysomethings playing Magic in the back of the video game store is not really so strange? (I mean clearly, they are having a wicked good time, they are here every Friday night!) Maybe those silly corporate team-building activities aren’t so silly, after all?

This is the first of a series of posts about “playing around” and how we can all stand to invite a little more of it into our routines. Until then, go have yourself a ball, do something just for grins…I Double Dog Dare, you!

xo,

E

HebrewDawn: pause and press playResources:

About Us

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336360521/play-doesnt-end-with-childhood-why-adults-need-recess-too