I grew up in an environment that was highly controlled by people who feared life. It meant that from the moment I was self-aware enough the only thing I wanted was freedom. Liberation from being told what to do by people who were living out their unresolved pain within a society that has an unnatural addiction to productivity.
As soon as I was able to I vehemently stood against the routines, structures and systems I was taught in favour of gentler, more intuitive and cyclical living. I believe in the intelligence of nature above the intelligence of man. I believe we all have access to that intelligence. It is body-led, not mind-led.
The world loves to tell us what to do. In return, we have been conditioned to look for external guidance and validation on everything we do. From the moment we enter the school system if not before, we are taught the invalidity of our own independent thoughts and feelings. So we look to others for how to do things.
Information at our fingertips like Google has stolen our trust in ourselves and our bodies. Or, more correctly, we have handed over our relationship with the wisdom of our bodies to the need to have everything answered and validated by an external source. This is dangerous and disempowering. It means we don’t trust the intelligence of nature to take care of us.
Including routines. The personal development and self-growth industry have touted morning and evening routines as the go-to practices. With good reason. I agree with the sentiment that the way we live our day-to-day reverberates throughout our lives. There are millions of articles and podcasts and books on how to have the perfect morning and evening routines.
Routines are consistent ways that we intentionally show up for ourselves to make life good. Routines are practised self-love. The magic lies in how we do things not what we do.
There is no perfect routine out there. Because different ways of showing up will serve different people at different times as we move through the chapters of our lives.
We all learn so much from others. The beauty of life is that, in a way, we are all raising each other, sharing what we have learned works for us, guiding one another home, over and over again. I adore this part of the human experience.
And… as we learn from one another there is an opportunity to refer to our own inner knowing. To, instead of requiring others to be responsible for our wellbeing and living a good life, assign our routines to be an ever-evolving reflection of our dreams, growth and desires in the world.
When I am asked what my morning and evening routines look like, I hesitate to answer. I don’t want to add to this noise. What I really want is to encourage the asker to explore what habits will become the sum of a life well-lived? I teach my process on how to identify this in my free course: Pause & Pivot.
To provide an example of what I teach and how that looks like in my own life. My highest values are freedom, beauty, creativity and peace. Each of those words can be distilled into specific expressions. For example, peace means choosing peaceful relationships, feeling at peace in my home and inhabiting a peaceful body. These expressions become practices and routines. Inhabiting a peaceful body means that my health and physical well-being are at the forefront of my priorities. Simple but important things like sleep, nourishment, movement and hydration feed into my daily routines.
I am, by nature, inconsistent. What I enjoy doing and in what order changes all the time. Sometimes I live a perfect day by Google’s standards. I wake early, dance around in my pants, drink lots of water, exercise (walk/run/yoga/pilates), journal, meditate. Then work, eat, socialise. And wind down by turning my phone off by 9.30 pm, read, journal, sleep. Other days I stay in bed until close to noon, thinking, writing, feeling, processing and then allow my day to flow from there.
In Pause & Pivot, I share how my routines are guided by my daily non-negotiables.
As I wrote previously here, my aim is to live my life guided by the intelligence of my body over the constructs of my mind and the only way I know to do that is to intimately feel and listen to myself. Different days call for different approaches to life.
Moving back to the UK, just before a global pandemic, and then being restricted from integrating into my new environment due to lock-down, followed by the important #BLM that has shown me how I too, have benefited from institutionalised racism has been A LOT to take in, in a very short amount of time. I’ve had to give myself permission to take more time, to rest more, to be sad when I feel sad, to process it all. I crave nature, tending to a garden, feeding my loved ones and giggling over a glass of wine more than anything now.
Abruptly I see things so differently as if I have been catapulted from one reality to another, where the old one was shrouded in a misty view of the world that I now see it from a more lucid perspective. My work has been focused on unravelling so much old conditioning, to allow the new that wants to emerge, breath its way in. There have been moments of pure elation and pleasure alongside moments of deep sadness and loneliness.
As the days here are getting warmer and longer, I’ve embarked on a water fast and a small social media hiatus to reset and breath some new space and life into my body and mind.
In yoga, focus on the exhalation is important because it creates space for higher quality oxygen and efficiency on the inhale. In life, focus on letting go and releasing is valuable because it offers us space to allow the new that’s waiting for us, in.
Let me preface this with the fact that I am not recommending this for you. It’s something that I have done for personal and spiritual reasons since my early 20’s and am well-versed in. I also have a very strong connection to my body and am always listening to what it is telling me. I would never embark on a fast without my body’s guidance, ensuring that I fast safely and in connection to what I need. I do me, you do you.
It was a dusky Thursday evening when, serendipitously my fridge was empty in leu of my Friday morning farmers market sojourn, I felt this strong urge to give my body a break. When I try to explain what that feels like it’s kind of like a frustrated, blocked energy in my body (lack of energetic flow) and this desire to create more internal space coupled with complete apathy to food, food preparation and eating.
I decided on some basic objectives: mostly water, some herbal teas and coconut water or vegetable broth with sea salt for bowel movements, for 7-10 days, as and when my body told me it had had enough. I like fasting for two key reasons: 1. it offers me a break from unconscious habits and offers me the objective perspective to choose or change them, and 2. it gives my body time to deeply heal.
Even though I am well-educated on the topic of fasting I like to encourage myself with resources. Here are some of the videos I watched: Science of Fasting, Facing the Fat, Water Fasting: The Complete Guide.
Days 1 — 3.
Really strong headaches and a very obvious insight into how I use food to comfort myself and numb the feelings that I don’t understand. There have been a lot of those feelings recently. The first 3 days are generally the most challenging as the body moves into ketosis. On the second day my hip, wrist, knee and ankle joints were making themselves known. I tried to move them out on a long walk. The emotions associated with joints are usually unexpressed anger, resentment, aggression, criticism (of self and others), lack of support, and fear. I journaled about those. On day 3 my skin was glowing and feeling so soft and clear. It’s astonishing what a few days without food can do for our organs.
Days 4 — 6.
On the morning of day 4, I woke up with the most acute hip aches. Research shows that healing usually occurs in reverse so from the most recent illnesses and injuries to the ones further in the past. I remembered feeling this same hip ache after my significant breakup 2 years ago and sensed it was a healing crisis. This yin yoga class really helped I did every day after that. The headaches were gone now and my eyes felt incredibly clear and light. My outer thighs ached as the emotions and toxins stored in those were processed on day 5 and I plagued myself with delicious-looking food from Lucia of Ambrosia’s Table. By day 6 I felt amazing but also ready to start eating again. I knew my period was due and my body needed nourishing soon.
I felt so much clarity in particular around my spiritual path. I am always challenged by the paradox of internal contentment and external success. I’ve never been one to chase a career or high levels of achievement, rather my intention has been to create a lifestyle in which I am supported and held to follow my inner guidance and insights. Sometimes it is hard to know how to balance that yin-yang in life. I’m willing to try and learn and find a way to navigate it though as it seems to be an important aspect of my human experience. By 8 pm I’m genuinely hungry and feeling some menstrual-like cramping so I bake a sweet potato in the oven and slowly eat it.
I wake up early the next to the strangest dream, where I am walking down the aisle to get married and have layered 3 white dresses one on top of the next that I peel off to the last one as I walk down the aisle to make the wedding more fun and exciting. I’m confused as to what it means and find it entertaining to think about. Two of those 3 white dresses currently live in my wardrobe.
I feel different. More present. More embodied. More able to listen to my body. Clearer. Kinder.
I’m so grateful for this fast, a little gift — a slice of time, for myself. It’s fascinating to me how the things that serve us the most aren’t often the ones you can buy in shops or get by having more.
One of the best parts (in my opinion) of the COVID-19 pandemic in which we don’t really know which way is up, is the space and time that has opened doors into deepening creativity.
A few days ago, when I was writing my latest personal update, I wanted to be able to post some pictures of what life “at home” looks like and since Danger hasn’t quite got this in his skill set, decided to do a little impromptu self-portrait photoshoot.
I received SO MANY DM’s asking how I did it, so here we go.
What you need:
- a tripod
- a camera phone or camera
- a window with bright but indirect light
I used my iPhone X set up on my normal camera tripod (specifically this one) with a phone clip.
You want to position the tripod right up against the window, facing you because natural light is the most flattering and will get rid of any imperfections and weird shadows. In this set of photos, I just sat on my sofa as it’s facing enormous french doors so bring in lots of light.
And then, play!
I did my self-portrait photoshoot in two ways:
- In the first set of photos, at the top of this article, I used Instagram. I selected the hands-free mode, then chose a filter that I like and pressed play. For those 15 seconds, I moved around in fun ways that I thought I might like to capture, with a glass of wine in hand as a prop. Then I saved the video and picked out frames that I like and screenshot them to save them to my photos. You can actually see the various video frames at the bottom of some of those photos.
- The second set of photos that you can, I used the good old iPhone timer. I’d set it up to 3 or 10 seconds, press “go” and then run into position. Afterwards, I deleted the ones I didn’t like and edited them in the Tezza app.
That’s it! Easy, breezy, beautiful self-portrait photoshoot.
Do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t’ shoot in direct sunlight as this will create harsh shadows unless of course, you are being creative, and want that kind of contrast in your pictures.
- Do take as many photos as possible and then delete the ones you don’t like. The more you have to choose from, the better the results.
- Don’t overthink it. This is supposed to be fun.
- Do use props and have outfit changes ready. The more playful and experimental you get the more photos you will take that can feel proud of and show to the public.
One thing I’m compulsively obsessed with is finishing things. That tube of toothpaste. That last bottle of olive oil. The expensive wonder-serum I hoped would magic give me celebrity-type skin.
I’m leaving Mexico in two weeks after having lived in a port-town in the central west coast lapping at the Pacific Ocean for the past year and a half. And I’m finishing things.
Today’s story, specifically, is about finishing a bag of black beans I had bought more than 6 months earlier but never got around to using. Beans… legumes in general… and I are not particularly close. They generally are hard on my rather delicate digestion and so I avoid them.
However, I also have a hard time eating enough protein and we all know that beans are an excellent source of protein and well… it’s all a conundrum where every couple of years or so I try to trick myself into loving beans.
Except, this time, for the very first time ever, it has worked. I soaked the beans overnight, slow-cooked them for bicarb soda (I read somewhere that it helps remove the stuff that makes beans hard to digest) for an hour and turned them into life-changing chocolate brownies. That I now eat for breakfast.
They are genuinely so delicious.
Here’s how to make them.
Put into a blender: 3 cups of black beans / 1 cup of honey or maple syrup / 1 cup of instant oats / 1 teaspoon baking powder / let everything soak together / melt 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 4-5 tablespoons cacao paste in a saucepan / add to the blender and blend until smooth / preheat oven to 180°C / grease pan / pour mixture into pan / bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
If you have a basic blender as I do, you might have to blend in two batches. Let them cool before trying to cut them. I found they were still a tiny bit gooey inside but after a night in the refrigerator, they were perfect and even more delicious so…
Also, 2 things:
- You can obviously use canned black beans instead of cooking your own.
- If you can’t get cacao paste you can use 2 tbsp cocoa powder and mix in 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips at the end to get that chocolate consistency right.
The history of cacao [chocolātl] began in Southern Mexico sometime in 450 BC.
The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl — a feathered serpent — who was connected to the planet Venus. Perhaps that is why, alongside its large quantities of magnesium, cacao is considered to open one’s heart. Originally prepared only as a drink, chocolate was served as a bitter liquid, mixed with spices or corn puree. It was believed to be an aphrodisiac and to give the drinker strength.
When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they didn’t like the bitter taste and added sugar, and made it a fashionable drink amongst high society.
Cacao is the unprocessed raw cacao bean, ground into a sort of paste that then looks like chunks of chocolate. Most people are familiar only with cocoa, the processed and roasted version that usually comes in a powder or store-bought chocolate which is the powder mixed with fats, sugar and flavours.
When I first moved to Mexico in 2018 I was pleased to discover how easy it was to purchase locally-grown cacao. Being caffeine sensitive but loving the ritualistic motions of making a hot beverage in the mornings’ cacao is one of my favourite go-to’s.
Since I am asked so often how I make my cacao, here are 3 ways to make real Mexican cacao [chocolātl] at home.
Morning Beauty Cacao
The perfect ritual to start to the day and bring presence, mindfulness and connection as well as some beauty-enhancing ingredients into the mix.
20g (2 tbs) cacao paste (I chop it up and put it in a jar for when I want to use it) / 1 cup of filtered water / placed in a small pot on the stove / heat / a pinch of sea salt / a pinch of chilli powder / pour into a blender / a dash of vanilla essence / a scoop of collagen powder / blend until smooth and frothy.
I like adding adaptogens. Beauty Blend and Mason’s Mushrooms are my favourites. You get 10% off using this link.
Love Spell Cacao
For any of the 3: self-love or to give love to someone or encourage someone to fall in love with you, this love spell cacao drink works.
1 cup of filtered water / placed in a small pot on the stove / heat / 1 tsp cinnamon / / 1 tsp sprinkle of organic edible dried rose petals / 1 crushed cardamom pod / pour into a blender / 1/2 tsp ‘I Am Gaia’ powder / blend until smooth and frothy.
You don’t have to wait to go to a cacao ceremony to create your own ceremonial cacao for deep connection, meditation and practice.
30–40g cacao paste / 1 cup of filtered water / placed in a small pot on the stove / heat / 1/2 tsp cinnamon / pinch of cayenne / pour into a blender / blend until smooth and frothy.
If sharing in ceremony, you can gently reheat the blended mix on the stove when you’re ready to serve.
Always keep on low heat and never let the cacao come to a boil as this changes its molecular structure and the way our bodies are able to absorb its nutrients.
Try cacao unsweetened for a deeper, potent dose. Cacao’s bitter medicine is good for us… For added sweetness, I recommend adding raw honey.