Put down the diet book.

Please, put down the diet book. Pick up a cookbook instead. Or a memoir. Or a piece of deliciously trashy fiction.

Inspired by this amazing anti diet post, I wanted to share 3 non-fiction, non diet books to read this summer. This is a heavier list. It’s the kind of book you look over with a cup of hot tea. I promise to recommend some trashy fiction soon :) But for now, here are 3 books for your soul:

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Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

This is a life changing kind of book. Trust me, clear your day before you start it. Glennon will make you laugh, cry, and look at your own life with a raw honesty.

Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

Ok, yes this is a vegan cookbook. BUT PLEASE KEEP READING! I am not a vegan and I promise you everything in this book is absolutely incredible. Cherry basil bruschetta, taco fiesta potato crisps, double layer chocolate fudge cake…ok, I’m drooling now. I discovered Oh She Glows this past weekend while visiting my friend Taylor in Portland. We cooked and devoured two recipes from the book over the course of my weekend trip. So of course I had to buy a copy of my own before heading back to L.A.

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

This is the book I am reading now. It’s a small but mighty one. I find myself drinking in her words slowly, and then heading back to the top of the page to re-read it all again. Pema has that honest voice that makes you feel as if she’s looking directly into your life.

What books are you reading this summer?!

 

Find your edge…and soften around it.

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I sat in a forward fold today in yoga. It was the end of class and my body was tired. I didn’t want to try in this pose. I just wanted to relax. And then I heard the teacher’s words:

“Find your edge, and soften around it.”

And as if she knew just what I was thinking, she came and adjusted me. She gently pushed me forward, helping me to find a place where I was working, but also breathing.

I left class thinking about that quote: Find your edge and soften around it.

In work, and relationships, and health, our edge can be a scary place. It can create anxiety and stress and leave our heads moving at a mile a minute.

But here’s what I think.

The relationship that means the most to you is sometimes hard, juicy work. And your dream job is probably going to be hard, juicy work too. But I think these things that mean the most to us are our edges. Yes, sometimes the edge is a damn scary place. For example, when you feel like you’re not getting what you need from your partner, how do you talk to that person? How do you tell them how you are feeling?

When we peer off that emotional cliff, we may have the desire to bolt rather than to take a leap of faith and become honest, raw, and real. The key though is to soften. To breathe into the scary shit instead of running away from it.

When we talk about creating a meaningful career, the anxiety of sharing your vision can be overwhelming. The idea of getting up in front of a group of people will seem terrifying. But it’s terrifying because your message means something to you. And we are waiting. We all want to hear your beautiful message, to know that lights you up.

So please. Don’t run away. Instead carry on. Share your vision and love with us. Tell us what makes your heart sing. What brings you joy. Tell us about the work you want to do and how you want to change this world. Even if it’s really scary to say out loud. Please, find your edge, and soften around it.

Running and Family

When I think of running, I think of family. I think of St. Louis summertime heat, panting dogs, easy conversation, and post – run coffee heaven.

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These past couple of weeks have been filled with family running adventures. My baby sister, Whitney, came here and we ran the Mammoth Half Marathon together (holy elevation). Then we flew back to St. Louis where our mornings were filled with endorphin smiles that come after running 3 -5 miles. The running dream didn’t end there. My sister Jenny lives in D.C. So we started talking about races we could do together, me coming to D.C. or her coming to Santa Monica. My heart sings at the thought of this.

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Family is my greatest value. The time we spend together is like none other. Yet, we are a family of wild souls, living spread out, taking adventures, jumping at any chance to see the world. This results in less time spent all together. But I’m starting to see how our love of adventure and our love of running knits us closer together. Running is a way to see the world. It is a way to hold adventure close to your heart and a sister by your side.

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I’ve run in California, Indiana, Washington D.C., Missouri, Colorado, Mexico, and Costa Rica with my family. I’ve climbed mountains and swam in oceans and caves with them. I’ve gotten lost in a cow field in New Zealand with them. We are a family of beating hearts and sweaty hugs. And I would’t have it any other way.

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Inspiration from Jacki Carr

Meet Jacki Carr: goal coach extraordinaire. When I first met Jack a few months ago, she was owning a stage in bare feet and neon pants. I knew I was in for a treat. Jacki is raw, real, and honest. Listening to her speak will have you running towards your life, arms wide open. Jacki is the creator of her own company, Goals on the Rocks, as well as the co-creator of Rock Your Bliss. Rock Your Bliss was founded by Jacki and yoga teacher Mary Beth LaRue with the vision of making shift happen. Through yoga, sweat, community, body paint, goals, and vino they will seriously turn your world upside down.

Last Thursday, Jacki and I went for a run around  her Venice neighborhood. As we talked, it became infinitely more clear that Jacki is equally grounding as she is inspiring. She dreams of mountains and flannel (amen, sister) but she’s living and loving this moment, just as it is. Here are some of Jacki’s thoughts on sweat, karaoke, and butter coffee. Enjoy!

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What do you do?

I am a Goal Coach. I am a Personal Brand Consultant.

I am a Public Speaker. I am a self-proclaimed Karaoke rockstar.

I am a truth teller. I am a radical listener.

How did you get here?

Hollywood to Santa Monica to Chicago and back to Venice. From entertainment networking and Public Relation partying, I was not in the right place when I started my career life. I found lululemon athletica in Santa Monica and made it my dream job for seven years in different roles that rocked my World on the store level and HQ. I ventured out on my own this past year and created my coaching company, Goals on the Rocks and co-created Rock Your Bliss. Living the roller coaster of the entrepreneur life and loving it, bringing the practice of the whole self, practice of a powerful voice and goals to Y-O-U!

So what’s a day in the life of Jacki Carr like?

I just looked at my calendar and every day is different. A rad day starts with a delicious cup of butter coffee and a dog walk with my fiancé. I have 3 calls set for 1:1 coaching sessions, a lunch meeting for Rock Your Bliss with Mary Beth LaRue and an afternoon planning sesh for an upcoming speaking event. The day ends with a sweaty run or yoga class, red wine with friends and time with my man and pups.

What inspires you?

People taking a step outside of their comfort zone and living it big. Brene Brown’s stand for wholehearted living and the power of vulnerability. Susanne Conrad, founder of igolu and Director of Possibility at lululemon. Love, not the fairy tale kind, the give it all you got, ebb and flow, raw-ness of love in relationship. Yoga. A rad group of powerful women in my life.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

When do you feel most alive?

I feel most alive on a mountaintop, with my family, on a stage public speaking, rocking karaoke, on the beach, when I am dripping sweat from a great yoga class or gnarly run, and when I am learning something new with my black rimmed glasses on, taking notes and expanding.

What’s on your ipod?

John Cougar Mellencamp, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Sylvan Esso, Whitney Houston, Ray LaMontagne and Lord Huron. Sprinkle in some Coldplay, Bon Iver and Alexi Murdoch.

What are some of your BIG goals right now?

Wow, one of my biggest goals right now is planning my wedding (insert excited face here) to my main man, Chris Hynes. We are tying the knot in Colorado in June 2015 and we are making it an all out adventure! Another big goal right now is nailing our 2015 Rock Your Bliss retreats to Sayulita, Portugal and NYE in Bali. Creating new content, grounding in our values and sharing yoga + goals with the World! Finally, I want to write a book that is more self-help in layman’s terms with a twist of karaoke and bliss. More to come on that big one!

What’s one goal that you are most proud about achieving?

Leaving my dream job at lululemon atheltica to pursue and really scare the shi*t out of myself to create my own dream job and work for myself! GOALS ALIVE, it is really real and it is so in-your-face development.

If you could give people just one tip to help them rock their goals, what would it be?

My one tips for all the goal-getters out there would be to create your base, that space where you can connect within, ground and get clear. Create a list of your values, the deep soul connection that make you, YOU. Keep the list visible, create your day through theses values, filter your HELL YES goals through these values and check yourself before your wreck yourself with these values when making big decisions. It is a game changer.

Thank you, Jacki!

Eat Real Food.

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When I was in 8th grade, I went on the  South Beach Diet. I wasn’t particularly heavy, but I had a belly that made me anxious and it seemed that depriving myself of carbs was the only way to fix it. For about a week I ate only nuts, meat, and cheese. I avoided my beloved popcorn like the plague. Cookies were banned. Goodbye breakfast cereal. I was being “good.” I was sticking to my diet.

And then about 10 days in, all hell broke loose. I had packed a perfectly carb-free lunch. But on that day, 8th grade was rougher than usual. I felt sad and alone. And I simply couldn’t eat another bag of plain almonds. So I marched myself to the cafeteria line and bought french fries, a cupcake, and a piece of pizza. I scarfed it all down. Then when I looked at my empty tray, I  felt sick and “bad” for breaking my diet. Guilt and confusion filled my head.

That’s where it all started.

For years after that I dieted on and off. The number on the scale determined my mood. I restricted and then binged. I signed up for Weight Watchers 3 separate times. I spent an obscene amount of time and money in the “Diet” aisle of  Barnes and Noble. I tried desperately to make myself throw up. And when it didn’t work, I cried.

It carried on like this for years: moments of restriction, moments of bingeing, and some moments of ease around food. I didn’t want anyone to know I was unhappy with my body so I spent a lot of energy hiding my dieting. I couldn’t stay planted in a healthy place. I couldn’t find lasting ease.

But in the last two years, there has been a shift.

Perhaps it’s the saltwater, or my yoga practice, or having someone I love to cook for. But somewhere along the line, I finally had had enough. I was through with the compulsive dieting. Instead of googling the latest diet, I reached out  to a yoga teacher I knew who is also a holistic health counselor. I emailed her, confused, broken, and on a sugar roller coaster. And you know what this health lady did??? She met me where I was. She gifted me a cookbook and took me to the grocery store. We talked about whole foods and family. We talked about how when we crave something sweet, it isn’t necessarily sugar. Maybe it’s a hug. Or a talk with a good friend. We talked about emotional baggage and about how you should definitely avoid the “Diet” aisle of the bookstore.

And slowly, surely, I began to heal. I read Geneen Roth’s book like it was the bible. I listened to my body. I asked people for what I really needed.

My only food mantra now is to eat real food. To fall in love with heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market. To think of my family when I pick out cherries. To cook with love. To make recipes that smell like home.

Yes, I try to eat less sugar and less processed food. But I also don’t get mad at myself  when I do.

I am working at my relationship with food. Some days are easier than others. But it feels good to stop counting and worrying and stepping on the scale. It feels good to come home.

Whatever you do…..

About a year ago I was going through my yoga teacher training. As I dove deeper into my practice, discussing yogic philosophy with great teachers and unpacking my emotional shit, things got heavy. I called my mom from outside a Starbucks, hoping she would help me in analyzing my life. Because obviously this is a completely sane request. Yeah…right.

Instead of picking apart my major life decisions, my mom brought me back down to earth. “You live in California! With a person you love!” she said. “Just enjoy right now. It doesn’t always have to be so heavy.” Her next words are words that I will never forget.

“You need to get out of your head. Go to the bookstore.” she said. “Buy some trash – James Patterson, Emily Giffin. Something like that. But whatever you do, DO NOT GO TO THE SELF HELP AISLE.”

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My mom set me straight. She helped me get grounded by not giving into my  over analytical bullshit…she encouraged my find a place for lightness. Of course it is important to do the work of going within. It’s important to deal with choices and events that we’ve stored away in our bodies.

But sometimes, you need lightness. You need to relish in ease. And let me tell you, a glass of wine and a trashy novel will really help you get there.

Living in the &

I returned Friday afternoon with dirt under my finger nails and a heart busted wide open.

Three weeks away from graduation, the sixth grade teachers at my school take the class camping up the coast. When asked if I wanted to come along, it was an immediate “Yes!”

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Camping makes my heart sing. Sleeping under the stars, helping the kids prep dinner, running barefoot alongside the ocean.

This is me.

I returned to Los Angeles with greasy hair, sun burnt cheeks, and a biggest smile across my face. I called The Boy, still giddy from the fresh air. I recounted tales of dolphin sightings and star gazing. “Well,” he said. “Pack another bag because we’re staying at the Ace  Hotel tonight!”

My man had gone ahead and booked us a staycation downtown. Mmmm yeah!!!

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So The Boy and I headed downtown for an evening of delicious food, rooftop bars, and cocktails I could hardly pronounce.

And as we sat pouring over a drink list, laughing, I thought to myself……

This is me too.

So often, I want to put a label on things. I want to know where I stand, who I am exactly. How can I love camping and some fancy gin/egg white drink? But as my mom always reminds me, the trick is learning to live in the “and.”

I love the outdoors. And trees. And fancy cocktails. I love my sleeping bag and my sexy black dress. I love a fresh pedi and I love the sand between my toes. I love travel. And family. And being home. I love dancing and reading. I love green juice and ice cream and tacos (lots of tacos). I love yoga and running and long cat naps. I love teaching and I love learning.  I love the mountains. And the ocean. And sweet suburbia. I love writing and watching shitty T.V.

I’m still working on living in this space. I’m still working on detaching myself from the safety and comfort of labels. On being unapologetically myself. I invite you to do the same.  Why not live loudly, and boldly, and embrace the &?