Tofu for Two

A couple years ago I spent a couple months on a pescetarian diet.  Inspired by my yoga training, it was an interesting experiment to see if I could eventually transition to a vegetarian diet.  It was hard, and I gave in a couple times along the way (pulled pork - who can resist?).  Eventually I knew my body wanted MEAT or, at the least, more protein.  Plus I was really struggling to balance eating only fish and feeding a family who was not.

Despite my failed attempt to clean up my carnivore diet, I did learn something along the way - a little bit of self-deprivation is good for the soul.  Denying myself delicious things taught me a lot about my mind-body connection.  It felt empowering to be in control.  It was a truly spiritual connection.  In fact, self denial is a reoccurring them throughout many religions.  Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the desert fasting (and then tempted by Satan).   The Buddha fasted for 49 days during his quest for enlightenment.  In Judaism, Yom Kippur is used as a day of fasting and meditation.  Considered one of the most holy days of the year, it’s a day for prayer and penance.  By removing food, you remove distraction and are forced to focus deeper on your spiritual pursuits.

It sounds like I’m going to fast, huh? Well, I’m not.  I find it an amazing and noble cause, but it’s not for me - at least not this stage in the game.  But, what I am going to do, is try to cut out meat again.  This time, however, I’ve got Chris on board.   First we’re going to eat down our supply of meat in the deep freezer, which shouldn’t take too long, and try our best to make vegetarian choices at lunch.  It won’t be easy, especially since we eat out most weekday lunches, but should be a good challenge for our will power.  I’m looking forward to feeling both powerful and frustrated at the same time.  Here’s hoping!

With that said - anyone have any good tofu recipes?

Projections

I realize it’s been way too long since I last posted to even call myself a blogger.  To be honest, it’s not a title a really attribute to myself anymore.  My life has become extremely full, and my blog has been left behind in order to follow other passions and connections.  It’s actually a really good sign, in a way, because it shows that I’m making connections with people in person and finding myself somewhere besides the vast, empty internet.  With that said, don’t be concerned when I do get around to posting.  It’s not a litmus test for my emotional and social health (hopefully) as much as me taking a moment to share some thoughts that are swirling in my head.

One of the things that is currently taking some of my energies is yoga.  I’m in the process of obtaining my Registered Yoga Teacher - 200 hour (RYT-200) certification.  I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with the certification.  I’ve done a little teaching already, and technically I can teach now.  However, I’m not sure if I want to.  I’m just enjoying the courses and growing my knowledge.  I feel like I fell into this program and that I’m just suppose to be doing it.  I’ll see where the journey takes me, and even if it doesn’t take me anywhere, I’m really loving the ride.

Hopefully, just with that little paragraph, you can see that my yoga training has changed my thought processes a bit.  I’m sure I’ll delve deeper into that another day, but for this post, I want to talk about projections.   In my last class, we talked about how we are all projections of God and how this is a commonality in all religion.  The Bible even says in Genesis 1:27, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” For most of my life, I interpreted to this to a literal meaning - I physically look like God, but I now realize that perception is much to superficial.  My physical body is earthly.  It’s is my soul that is unearthly. Dare I even say divine?  My soul was created by God in his own image.  Or rather, my soul is a projection of God.

I know - it’s heavy.  Take a second to process it.  Or, if you think I’m swimming in heathen waters, take a second to pray for me.

Back to the divine soul.  God created these amazing souls and entrusted them to us.  He also gave us some pretty basic instructions - love.  Love everyone.  Love all the time.  And if you really think about it, the root of a joyful, fulfilling life is love.  In love, we find gratitude.  In love, we find acceptance.  In love, we find peace.  In love, we find fulfillment and contentment.

These thoughts have forced me to focus on my own projections.  If my soul is a projection of God, is my life a projection of my soul?  We have the ability to lift up and give love to folks so easily.  Kindness to a cashier.  Willingness to let another driver into the line of backed up cars.  Donations of goods and time to those in need.  Gratitude for those who serve you.  But also, just as importantly, we have the ability to not bring someone down.  We can choose to not react and not take offense.  We can approach others’ digressions with an open heart and know that there will be a coming day that we will be the transgressor.

Of course, my saying of these things hardly makes me an expert.  I struggle.  I get flustered, especially on school mornings, and snip at my husband and child.  I get annoyed.  I get angry.  And that’s with taking anti-anxiety medicine every day.  However, I’m trying to be mindful.  I try to ask myself if my words or actions will bring someone down.  I try to focus on the good things and ignore the bad.  I try to just say, “Thank you,” when receiving a compliment instead of undoing it by downplaying or contradicting the giver’s kind words.  I want my life, my words, and my actions to be a projection of my soul.  I want my energy to be a loving energy.  I want to feed the fire of another spirit, not dampen it.

My challenge for you is to take a moment to reflect on your projections.  Does your praise always come with a criticism?  Do you spend more time wanting and not enough time being grateful?  Do your words project a loving energy or a negative energy?

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Lessons from my Toes

When I’m stressed, I pick at my toes.  I scratch off my polish.  I tear at my nails.  I just beat them up.  And lately, I’ve been pretty stressed so my poor little phalanges look pretty rough.  For the most part, I don’t really think about it, especially in wintertime when I’m constantly wearing socks.  That’s until I go to yoga class.  Then I find myself getting embarrassed.

I’ve been going to the same classes for over a year now.  I’ve developed several friendships there.  I’m not sure if they ever notice my toes, but I really notice them there, especially during all the forward folds when my feet are literally in front of my face.  Today was incredibly embarrassing as we were working on proper form and alignment.  Our instructor, who’s also a friend, was checking out our foot placement and correcting us when necessary.  I found myself completely distracted by my ugly feet.

But then during a seated twist, she told the class something that she says often, “You are where you are.”  She was telling folks to not push further into a stretch and to be mindful of where their limitations are.  After all, you can really injure yourself when you try to force your body into something it’s not ready for.  But that got me thinking - I’m surrounded by people who love me.  My toes look this way because I’m stressed.  I am where I am.  If I pretend that I’m not stressed is to force myself into a place that I’m not.  I would be hiding my true self.  To expose your flaws and weakness is to be open, and when you are open, you able to receive and give more love.  I am where I am. I will be okay with that.