for Urban Professionals & Other Skeptics in a Rush
This post also appears in the Huffington Post.
Last week a client came over for dinner with her family. She is a law firm partner, a graduate student, a mother and totally clueless in the kitchen. This post is for her and for those of you who also want some kitchen literacy, if only to be able to use it in a pinch. I promise this is all easier than you think, takes less time, and like everything else from Curated Wellness, is cherry-picked to give you maximum impact with minimal effort.
The day of the dinner had been a hectic one for us, topped off with a teething toddler who didn’t sleep much during the previous night. Work was busy, the house was a mess and I didn’t think twice about putting a gorgeous dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. I’m not Martha Stewart, but I know how to make dining a nearly effortless pleasure. In about five minutes from now, you will too.
There are no recipes here but my top 10 tips for being able to make a healthy beautiful meal easily and without going for a big shop, because who needs to add that to a busy day…
You’ve got this. Bon appetit!
Around this time of year, there is a race to that December 31 finish line. Projects to complete, targets to meet, people to see, cards to write, presents to get, holidays to organize, summer clothes to put away, winter clothes to find…the list goes on. It’s only November and already my to-do list and wine consumption have both doubled. At the same time, there is less daylight each day, and around us, hibernation abounds. We knew this when the leaves transformed into fall splendour, and yet we kept going at full pace.
Other than summer, which is rightly a religion in Canada, we pretend that we don’t have seasons. Somehow, we think, heated seats and other modern conveniences, like lightbulbs, will allow us to continue as if nothing is happening. Then the first flurry comes, and it’s undeniable. We trudge on through winter in our parkas, and try to get to Florida, or farther south. Some of us even delight in the crisp air and silvery snow, getting out into the cold to ski or take the kids out sledding. You winter people – you really live in the right place!
Our needs are different at this time of year than they were just a few short months ago, and paying attention to them can make the difference between a cozy winter and a marathon of colds and overwhelm. Vitamin D levels dip as sunshine hours are a distant memory, hydration plummets as heating use increases, and we start to really feel the weight of things in our lives that we don’t love. Targeted self-care that supports the seasonal transition is a great way to ease into winter, with grace.
This list of practices to support yourself is meant to be read like a menu; in the spirit of letting it be easy, I invite you to choose from it what you like, instead of trying to do it all.
There are a few spaces left in the YogaBe + CPD Skinny on burnout workshop happening next Wednesday! This December 3, 11am-1:30pm at YogaBe, the first yoga studio on Toronto’s PATH, located at MetroCentre, 200 Wellington Street W, PATH level. $185+HST secures your place, and includes a 45-minute yoga class led by studio director Laura Baron, a delicious vegan and gluten free lunch from Kupfert & Kim, and a 90-minute CPD-accredited workshop with yours truly about the Skinny on Burnout (1.5 Professionalism Hours for Ontario Lawyers). You can reserve your spot online right here. Please join us, and pass this information on to a lawyer in need – he or she will thank you.
Notice anything different? The updated look and feel of curatedwellness.ca is thanks to the creativity and tech savvy of development and communications expert Elyse Power. In the spirit of letting it be easy, have her create or recreate your website, a.k.a. portal to the world. For a taster (literally) of her unique brand of user-friendly what-you-didn’t-know-you-needed, try this robotic meal designer that finds recipes for the three random things in your fridge.
Enjoy! May the best of the season shine in your life.
One of the best perks of the work I do at Curated Wellness is getting to co-create with inspired entrepreneurs. The passion that goes into birthing a new venture brings us some of the most enriching experiences and products – and YogaBe, Toronto’s first yoga studio on the PATH, is one such creation. Its founder, Laura Baron, is a former Bay Street litigator, whose yogi tendencies compelled her to create the studio that Toronto’s financial district can now enjoy.
Together, we are offering an exceptional experience for Toronto lawyers to rejuvenate, learn, and earn those end-of-year CPD professionalism credits. The program will be hosted at YogaBe’s convenient downtown studio in the MetroCentre, on Wednesday, December 3rd. It includes a 45-minute, all-level yoga class led by Laura, a healthy lunch from PATH eatery Kupfert & Kim, and a 90-minute Curated Wellness workshop on practical strategies to manage stress and promote wellbeing called The Skinny on Burnout.
WHAT: YogaBe + CPD: The Skinny on Burnout
WHEN: Wednesday, December 3, 2014
11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: YogaBe Studio, 200 Wellington Street West, PATH Level, MetroCentre
COST: $185.00 + hst
Reserve your space online: yogabe.ca/CPD
We hope to see you there!
Pass this on to a lawyer friend in need, they will thank you.
April 25, 2014 in Inspiration
There’s a plague that comes as a part of new years resolutions, and I want to bring it to your attention.
What we are resolving to do, through one act or desire or another, is to be better versions of ourselves — to expand into our potential. This is itself a magnificent aspiration: to dream, to desire, and to transform these ideals into concrete actions, calendared and actualized — at least until the end of January.
For anyone who’s reached a goal or manifested a dream, you know that it starts with figuring out what that dream or goal is. The rest is about applying your energy in the direction of your desire to make it happen. Running a 10k starts with a sweaty, breathless jog around the block; starting a business with a brainstorming session with your smartest friends and advisors; writing a book with opening the file and naming it.
It’s the missing ingredient that leaves us with the silent plague. It carries over from year to year, spreads throughout communities, and keeps us from ever realizing the full effect of our dreams and desires. It’s the plague of the-grass-is-greener. Of “I will be happy when…” or “life will be better when…” or even “I will start taking care of my health when…”. Aspiration is what has inspired humans back into the far reaches of history. Perhaps that mixed with a hearty dose of desperation. But it is not what has made them happy, and let’s face it, that is what you’re going for when you goal-set or dream. A happier, shinier version of your current life. Or maybe another life entirely.
So let me make this part easy, because I am positive that missing out on it is getting in the way of who you are meant to be and what life you can create for yourself. Start with gratitude for where you are now. Right now. Regardless of aspiration, without a well-flexed gratitude muscle, you will never find that magic spot of satiation and delight with your life. I write in absolute terms because we face an epidemic lack of acknowledgement of the riches we enjoy in our lives right now, regardless of circumstance.
Going for your first 10k race this year? Start by thanking your legs for carrying you, your running shoes, that friend who made you go for that first run, the break-up that made you feel lousy enough to give it a try.
Time to transition to a new job? Start by getting really detailed about what you are grateful for with your current one. That boss who, while generally a dingbat, has made you hone your powerpoint skills to perfection. The paycheque that has whet your appetite for a bigger one. The podcasts you’ve listened to solely because of your commute. Dig deep.
Starting a new venture? Take stock of every circumstance and inspiration that brought you to the point of invention.
Want to lose weight? Thank every ounce of your body for the ways that it serves you: protection, warning, pleasure, convenience. Thank you belly fat, for alerting me to the effects of wheat in my body! Thank you, extra layer of tush for protecting me from the very chilly winter we’ve been having.
The fear is not that we will never actualize our dreams. We had a man on the moon! It is that we will seek and seek and never find, when all the while the epicenter of happiness was right here.
This post originally appears in the Huffington Post.
March 23, 2013 in Inspiration
“Lose your mind and come to your senses.” – Fritz Perls
Dr. John Sarno’s book, Healing Back Pain, is an excellent account of and explanation for the instant dissipation of chronic pain through emotional release. Dr. Sarno, a professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, describes Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) as medical “disorder” associated with pain in the neck, back, shoulders, buttocks and limbs. (The term “disorder” is one I wholeheartedly disagree with, because when your body is showing signs of dis-ease, it’s conveying a perfectly healthy and clear message about an imbalance that needs attention. Your body is not working against you!) His book describes clinical evidence and scientific studies that support the mind creating TMS– and any – physical process.
When I read this book on the advice of a brilliant New York-based acupuncturist, Lara Rosenthal, I thought I was reading about my own body. I also found it incredibly frustrating, because for a long time, nothing changed. I could read and re-read that book until I was blue in the face – my back still hurt. Dr. Sarno provides numerous case studies, and indeed a whole treatment program, based on his observation that emotional release can and does yield a substantial reduction or even elimination of TMS symptoms.
The protocol seems to be: Realize you’re pissed off or hurt and didn’t know it, stop being in physical pain.
Your low back is associated with your second chakra, the passion house of the body, home of creative energy, desire, pleasure, and anger. In her legendary book, Eastern Body, Western Mind, renound energy healer Judith Anodea, PhD, describes how experiences from childhood as far-ranging as growing up in an alcoholic family, to sexual or emotional abuse, to denial of a child’s feeling states can manifest as physical symptoms in this region of the body.
What I love most about this work is that it supports my belief that personal expression is elemental to good health. We are physical and emotional beings, at the cellular level. I witnessed and experienced this first-hand as a teenager (and ever since) at the Haven, studying with founders Ben Wong and Jock McKeen, and instructors David Raithby, Sandey McCartney, Maria Gomori and Linda Nichols (I name them all because they are each brilliant enough that you should look them up, take a course with them, and read what they write). A psychiatrist and physician, respectively, Wong and McKeen work with the way the body holds unexpressed emotions, and the impact that holding has on mental and physical health. I have seen more profound healing and growth on the grounds of their campus than anywhere I have ever been.
In our culture, this is the toughest of all prescriptions: genuine, authentic, unguarded, introspection. It’s hard to believe in if you’ve never seen it or experienced it, and hard to create if you are a believer, because chances are high that the very thing causing you pain is in your blind spot (one reason why good doctors, therapists and coaches are invaluable to holistic healing).
It may seem easier to just take a pill, or have surgery, or get someone else – someone professional – to “cure” you. But your body is so wise – and so it continues to carry what you won’t put down elsewhere, encouraging you to find it, and through finding it, to grow into the magnificent being that you always already are.
So….your back pain. What might yours be about? Be brave enough to explore, and release the ties that bind you. It is never what we think, it’s always something better.
Healing, by D.H. Lawrence
I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly,
that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul,
to the deep emotional self and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time,
and only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance
long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake and the freeing oneself
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.
(found in The New Manual for Life)
Did this help you? Subscribe to Curated Enlightenment to find what you need in your inbox, when you need it (that’s karma).
Can this help someone you know? Pass it on. The world needs more healthy happy people!
March 5, 2013 in Inspiration
Hello wellness warrior.
If you missed my guest post on the Glossy pages, here it is for your enjoyment!
I’d love to know how these tips work for you.
More to come….
Have a beautiful day!
What would it take for you to take care of yourself? I really want to know.
In Japan, Karoshi is a term coined to reference instant death attributed to overwork. It’s frequently associated with stroke or cardiac arrest, but not always. Workers as young as their twenties have become just that – workers and not people – and their bodies give out. These aren’t people laboring in factories day and night. These are people who have desk jobs like so many of us do, and who push themselves because of externally influenced goals that are internalized to the point that they override a body screaming out in stress.
Stress that the person can no longer even hear.
Stress that has become a new normal state of being.
Stress that has a detrimental impact on health and spirit.
I generally don’t employ fear tactics. I trust your timing to make decisions about your body and your life, because you know you better than I ever will. But it baffles me that so many people appear to be waiting for their wake up call, kind of half-assed hiding out from knowing about it.
This is not a secret, and it’s not news. The wake up call does come. For some it’s a devastating illness that causes them to revisit their priorities, for others, symptoms like chronic headaches, low energy, or depression gnaw away until the Tylenol, coffee or anti-depressants seem more and more to be essential ingredients in daily life.
It’s not natural to feel exhausted, or unhappy, or in chronic pain, or to have constant sugar cravings. Your natural state is shining and content.
I ask again: What is the holdup, exactly? When will be a better time? What will be enough? What are you waiting for?
Hitting reset or pause on the way you do life does not have to be dramatic if you don’t want it to be. A great way to start is to just slow down. Easy, but scary, I know. For a free and easy meditation to do just that, email me at Rachel@rachelschipper.com, and be sure to put “MEDITATION” in the subject line.
Know someone who needs to hear this? Pass it along. I offer a ton of free information in my newsletter.
Ready to make some positive changes in your life? Connect with me at Rachel@rachelschipper.com for a free consultation. Please put “I’M READY” in the subject line.
The best is yet to come.
February 28, 2013 in Inspiration
am no expert on planetary activity, and am luke warm about astrology at best (I’m a Capricorn, if you’re wondering). When one of my favorite yoga teachers in New York decided to theme several of his classes “planet yoga”, I was ready to bail. Isn’t this just a little too weird? But you know, great things can happen when you suspend judgment for even a few minutes and try something new. So I was delighted when my friends the Astrotwins enlightened me about Mercury Retrograde. If you are even slightly curious about astrology, you should check them out – they really know their stuff.
Planetary activity is on low volume in my life, but something about this looming mercury retrograde was on my radar had me in a state of dread. Four times a year something happens in the physical relationship between the earth and mercury that makes things go backwards – which in our modern world, means not working the way we want it to. Hence “retrograde”. I was not looking forward to this – the idea of my flight being delayed, signing a flawed agreement, wiping my computer, or accidentally sending that private email to my mailing list and my carefully crafted newsletter to my mom (and only my mom) was not appealing. It’s still not appealing.
The thing is, if I’ve learned anything from studying the body, and the human connection with our environment, it’s that nature rarely makes mistakes. Dis-ease arises when we are out of sync, knowingly or unknowingly, with our natural rhythm. The challenge is learning how to connect with the vital flow of your life, which is what we do in my holistic coaching program.
So too with astrology. The Astrotwins point out that retrograde is about revisiting unfinished business: Existing relationships that need revival, commitments made and left unfulfilled (Do you even remember your 2013 resolutions?), passion projects that were put on hold. I love this idea.
So in alignment with forces of nature we may not totally understand, here is an offering from one of my wisest teachers to nourish your relationships:
I want to love you without clutching,
appreciate you without judging,
join you without invading,
invite you without demanding,
leave you without guilt,
criticize you without blaming,
and help you without insulting.
If I can have the same from you, then we can truly meet and enrich each other.
Perhaps it’s simply not time for the new things to happen just yet. I for one am willing to entertain the possibility that nature intended for me to tie up loose ends on a quarterly basis before moving forward, leave a blazing trail and not a tangled bunch of yarn in my wake.
Ready to tune into the vital flow of your own life? I’d love to work together to do just that. Email Rachel@rachelschipper.com with the subject line “I’M READY”, and we’ll get started.
February 13, 2013 in Inspiration
“What you seek is seeking you.”
I’ll be the first to say that Valentine’s Day is yet another attempt to monetize something that is supposed to be free. But you know what – I’m right in there with Hallmark and Godiva cheering to make this day full of love – because we need a better model to make every day that way. If it has to start with this one little day, so be it.
We are not in a culture of self-love, or of shouting our love for each other from the rooftops, or of putting love into the world as a seedling to grow. But we are so close, that this little push into a day of overpriced roses and chocolate goes into my books as inertia. We are collectively more familiar with longing and fantasy than with the overwhelming realization that our desires have manifested. Change that today, starting with your own life. What you seek, as Rumi says, is seeking you. Go first.
We seek peace in our hearts, our lives, and our world. Here are three ways to magnify the love in all of these places, starting right now.
Nourish yourself with kind thoughts and good nutrition. Can you imagine taking care of yourself like you would a lover or a small child? Ideally for a lifetime, but even just for a day. This can look like a decadent day of self-care with your favorite healthy foods, surrounding yourself with people you love, or a massage. But it can also be as basic as replacing the self-criticism that swirls in your mind with post-it style positive affirmations, taking three minutes instead of twenty seconds to nourish your winter skin with body lotion, or skipping a single packaged processed snack in favor of a fresh whole food that your body will love. How hard would it be to wink at yourself in the mirror, and mean it?
Love the loves in your life
Your partner, friend, or family member are all short on acknowledgement. Acknowledgement is not a habit that we’re in, and it really goes a long way. While you may think it’s obvious that you adore him or her, or value his or her opinion or the endless ways that your life is enriched because he or she is in it – do you communicate this really clearly? Remember that time you were exhausted but emptied the dishwasher anyway? That time you read that draft letter and made edits? That you keep buying beets even though you would personally never eat them? I’ll bet it would be nice to for you to feel seen and heard, and you can give that great feeling to someone else. It’s so easy, and such a great practice to improve the communication and quality of your relationships, multiplying the love in your life – just by naming it.
Put love into the world.
One of my favorite things I’ve come across since moving back to Toronto is the love lettering project. A young woman has put hundreds of love letters all over the city, to be found! Committing random acts of kindness feels terrific, and that is reason enough to do them. Even better than that, it puts that very thing that someone was seeking out into the world for them to receive. An anonymous flower delivery. An extra few coins in the parking meter. A subway swipe. These seem like tiny gestures, but what you create when you put them into the world is more love, and more hope that maybe, as we sometimes dare to dream, love really is all around.
One last note. Why is this on a site that is devoted to nutrition? If you’ve looked around my site, you’ll see that my approach connects how you eat and how you live with how you feel. You can do all of the technical things right, like eating a balanced diet, but primary nutrition – like the quality of your relationships, exercise, spiritual practice, and work – are all intimately connected to how you feel.
January 15, 2013 in Inspiration
A wise friend once told me that mind and body don’t always agree, but body is always right. I intuitively knew that to be true – kind of like a baby won’t eat food that’s gone off, without contemplating why. Babies are genius in that they don’t contemplate. I kept looking for explanations anyway. I didn’t want a baby answer, I wanted the opus on why this was so. I wanted the Professor’s explanation. I wanted proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I looked with yoga. I looked with body-centered therapy. I looked with chakra healing, Chinese medicine and aryuveda. I looked using food as medicine. All of this looking yielded a lot of explanations, and all of them were right.
I also looked on Wall Street. I was there anyway, being the most serious lawyer I could be. I arrived that first day of work bursting with excitement (the serious kind), and looked around at my incoming class of one hundred and thirty eager beavers: bright, motivated, enthusiastic, spirited, and pretty good looking for law nerds. Good looking in that we were all in our twenties, and most of us had just had a good break since school, spent the summer outside, the men looked mostly manly, and the women had curves. We had all just moved to New York City, the one that doesn’t sleep, the one that can do anything for you anytime, that playground for adults. I had arrived! I thought, naively. This is going to be fantastic. In many ways, it was. My mind was having the time of her life! The cases I worked on were out of a movie or textbook, I was learning a ton, and I discovered that I could survive on a minuscule amount of sleep.
My body, however, was barely keeping up. I wasn’t the only one, and less than a year later I took stock of the health of my co-veterans, not to mention our bosses. The men had turned pear shaped. Many women had irregular periods (yes, we talk about this), and those who had been there the longest actually looked kind of like men. Prozac and Wellbutrin – and the depression they “treat” – were normal. Sleeping pills and alcohol were normal. Broken relationships were normal. High blood pressure was normal. Bring stressed out and unhappy was normal. Everyone was kind of grey, literally. There were so many signs from the body that things were out of whack, but no one was listening. The soul fires of the people I spent most of my time with had dimmed, big time. So had mine, and the evidence was all over my life.
It took a while to integrate what I’d been studying, religiously, in the non-lawyer part of my life. What exactly was the disagreement between mind and body, and how could I fix it and keep my day job? Was my gig of lawyer by day and yoga teacher by night fun for me and dinner party conversation for everyone else, or was there something more to it? Was I supposed to bail and move to an ashram?
The way we work – and the way we live while we work – is a kind of epidemic. A totally unnecessary, habitual, gratuitous epidemic that keeps us from doing our best work, and from living happy healthy lives. It’s not natural to not be shining your light. Your body has probably let you know that something isn’t working, and your mission is to pay attention. Soul fire isn’t something you can just turn on if you ignore it for too long, and you can’t really live without it.
What inspires me (and you too, I hope) is that change is much, much easier than you’d think. It’s a breath, a stretch, an intention. Go easy on yourself and check back here – I’d like to see that twenty-something smile back on your face. That’s why I’m here.
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