feminism

fluff free: wellness trends that should stay

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It’s no secret that I’m a leeeeetle bit skeptical of the trendy wellness world. Even still, I’m a card-carrying member for a reason: wellness matters to me. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it looks different for everyone, and that’s how it should be. I do tend to avoid anyone that’s trying to sell me a better life, so a lot of the emerging health craze has me doing a constant eye roll. There are, however, trends that I can get behind whole-heartedly. Want to know what they are?

MINIMALISM

Minimalism is having a moment. For some, minimalism is an inherent part of their nature; like a nervous tick, an inability to function unless everything is just right. For others, it’s more of a learned skill: consciously looking around the room and noticing when something is out of place or in excess. There’s an aesthetic minimalism, often meaning clean lines, muted tones, and just a few perfectly placed pieces of furniture. In that kind of setting, it’s highly noticeable if a pillow falls a little too far to the right, or if the dog left his toys in the middle of the floor again (savage!). Minimalism is also about keeping only what is necessary and serves an immediate purpose, and having a spot for everything – and I mean EVERYTHING. Never fear! That kind of minimalism can most definitely exist in a home with busier décor.

To me, minimalism just makes good sense. When I have clutter of any kind (even Monica Geller and I have junk drawers), I’m exponentially frazzled. It often means being unable to find what you need, especially during higher-stress moments like trying to leave the house on time.

There’s a lot of inspiration out there for how to get better at minimalism, and I’ll do a more in-depth post someday. For today, I’ll leave you with these tips that may not be as obvious:

  1. The best way to fight clutter is to stop it before it ever enters your home. Only buy items you need right away and when you get home, put everything away.
  2. When you leave a room, quick glance around and see if anything is there that doesn’t belong. Pick it up and walk it to its rightful home.
  3. When it comes to things that seem to pile up to no end (like flower vases, shopping totes, markers, notepads, undergarments), have a few high-quality items on hand that you really like and toss or donate anything of low-quality every time it comes into the house. No need to wait until the clutter builds up!
  4. Purge fridge and pantry often (weekly if possible) and get rid of things you don’t use or like. Also use this time to keep it organized (fruit on one shelf, leftovers on another, etc).
  5. Never leave anything in your car that does not have a specific function within your car. Tidy up your car every time you arrive home.

HOLISTIC HEALING

You know what else is having a moment? Alternative medicine. The US is finally embracing ancient medicinal practices like Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda (India’s medical practice), 5000+ years later. This is a very good thing! It means we are stepping away from our typical toolkit of popping acetaminophen every day and racing to urgent care whenever we feel a head cold coming on. Instead, we’re brewing ginger tea, imbibing probiotics, and trying to breathe more deeply. The modern medical world has developed in large part to deal with modern issues, like migraines and obesity. And I must note that US doctors saved my life when I contracted a life-threatening illness at age eleven. However, I cannot deny that humans have lived a looooong time before modern medicine, and they must have developed some pretty rad tools to evolve this far. Seeking nature as my day-to-day healer has helped keep me healthy and asks me to consider my physical relationship to the energetic world whenever I feel dis-ease coming into my body. Whether one is turning to elderberry syrup to soothe a cough or receiving weekly acupuncture treatments or meeting with a psychic healer, there are a number of things people are doing to tackle challenges of having a human body (and mind!) and I hope this awakening can continue to be there for people when they seek it.

HOME COOKING

Two things:

It is so neat to me when people know how to cook. It tells me you are intelligent and ambitious, conscientious and self-reliant. Your stomach rumbles don’t send you straight to the drive-thru. You’ve thought enough in advance to know that you’re going to be hungry later, and you might like an avocado with spinach and chicken. And you can keep your kitchen stocked with whole foods ingredients and make these things for yourself! Don’t get me wrong: I love a fancy dinner out. I’m a foodie first, remember? On a day-to-day basis, however, I like to keep it simple and mega-tasty in the comfort of my own home. And I love that so many people – especially younger folks – are into this, too.

The other thing is that I am proud of womankind for taking back this domestic task and propelling themselves to the forefront of creativity and innovation when it comes to food. It may be true that most restaurant-employed chefs are male, but just look at the internet food scene and you’ll know that women are neck-and-neck with the big boys. If I google a recipe, I want to know how it comes out for home cooks, so I skip over food network websites and the like, and find blogs written by women who have dreamt up and created and artfully shared flavorful and nourishing meals.

And because primates are food-oriented, I believe, for this trend, there’s no end in sight!

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woman

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In one hand I have a warm and spicy apple cider vinegar digestif. In the other, a novel translated from Spanish into English with a particular writing style which takes some mental wrangling. In my head, Amy Winehouse. She’s been there for several days as I digest and mentally wrangle the story of her life. Empathy at an all-time high. Dinner is still on the stove. It’s been there for hours and the yellow split peas just won’t cook down; won’t soften. They were passed onto me by a friend, who received them from her friend, whose husband of Indian descent recently passed and “she never has to look at Indian food again.” (I’d look at Indian food for the rest of my life, if I could.) The cut beans might be old, inedible, funk. But I can’t bring myself to move on. I’ll cook every last one of those hard beans, likely, even if none of them go quietly. I ended up with roasted turmeric potatoes and spicy mayonnaise to sustain me. Isn’t it funny how often our tide-me-over snacks become dinner themselves? I was washing the wooden cutting board and thinking about the nasty political climate. I remember researching how to wash a porous, wooden cutting board and reading that it’s not so much about the cleansing agent as it is the pressure of the water dispersing the residue. I started to think that maybe organizing is about the pressure, too. We don’t so much have to have solutions but we can say what we don’t want here any longer. Now I think it’s too scary a metaphor. Isn’t that maybe, possibly, what’s happening now? Suddenly there are people in ranks who never wanted anything to do with those ranks other than to clean house. Clean House. Unrepresent. Suddenly it’s all like a haunting movie. One of those blockbusters with a big message that people sort of overlook because culturally aware individuals are leaning on independent films and artists to reach assimilation. I remember telling my youngest brother, ten years my junior, that the world depicted in edible books like the Hunger Games was a possible future, not realizing that it takes at once decades and single instants to develop those realities. Though I feel dazed, it’s the people that don’t that I see living in some alternate universe, one where the most grotesque behaviors are unspoken norms shielded paradoxically by the very principles they seem to resist. Let us not pretend it isn’t as though a man who would take a mistress and police his wife would condemn a stranger who decided not to bring up a child in an unpredictable world. Mostly, though, overtaking my usual underlying stretch of general anxiety is a newfound hope. Probably because I’m not personally connected to any one present tragedy. Unexpectedly, because my general anxieties usually surmount about the plight of the earth and human existence. I’m the farthest away from my family I’ve ever been. I’m in the most uncertain terrain of my short history. But I am constantly overtaken by feelings of resounding stillness and the peace that comes with that. By taking one giant leap I forced myself to stand on a rock far enough out into the sea to require a smart plan for rescuing myself and that takes time. And sustenance. I’m determined to feed well along the journey, which seems barren and destitute, but in fact comes with great chocolate and a nice skillet. My tears, once wrought with daily panic, arise now only for raw onions. I thought everything that came before had to work, or I wasn’t working hard enough. Now I know that we are left, that we leave, and such sincere moments of truth-telling do not denature our humanity. I am currently surviving on chummy political discourse reminiscent of the talk radio my father insists upon in the car; coconut milk blended with all kinds of interesting flavors from sweet potato to savory dal for the mere fact that it is an absolute d e l i g h t; and the mighty guerilla that is optimism and believing that people are mostly good despite evidence to the contrary. Call me blind, call me liberal, call me crazy, call me woman.

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1. Unintentionally dried roses from my birthday bouquet (read: we forgot to continue watering them)
2. La Purisima Mission, a hike on the back trails
3. Mango fruit leather: fresh mango puree with cider vinegar, vanilla extract, and salt.  Dehydrated overnight.  Rolled, sliced
4. Inclusive pins-turned-fridge-magnets and a chakra candle.  Radiant love shouldn’t have to be radical
5. Kale chips: lacinato kale massaged with avocado oil and peppered with himalayan salt and nutritional yeast.  Dehydrated overnight