Monday, February 28, 2011

No More Gluten Free Glop

Marcy and I were vegetarians for about ten years, and during that time, we were very big on the "no substitutes" rule.  We did not eat soy, tofu, tempeh, etc.  If we weren't going to eat meat, we certainly weren't going to eat FAKE meat.

I am no longer a veggie for big reasons and this blog post is not about that, but I am gluten free for my mental health.  Gluten creates depression, foggy brain, lethargy, etc. in me.

My favorite food has always been pizza.  I could live on it.  I also love bread. I am genetically encoded, I think, with a love for bread (I am German)...and dark beer.

So going gluten free had to have major positive effects, as you can imagine, for me to give this stuff up.  Discipline alone would not have been enough.

I went looking, unlike my vegetarian self, for substitutes and I found good ones.

Or so I thought.

Currently, gluten free (both pre-made and home made) tends to rely heavily on a lot of...crap ingredients likes glues and gums and starches of all sorts.

My body said NO this past weekend.  No more.

I have officially given up on the Substitute Adventure and am officially embarking on the Real & New Adventure.

I only want to eat real, quality ingredients.  Simple stuff.  It's the very reason I've also been a fan of butter over all that soy or chemical junk.

One of the ingredients that was not new to me at all but that we are starting to use in new ways is buckwheat flour (a flour that my family literally has a history with).  Buckwheat is amazingly healthy.  Go here for information.

It is also delicious to bake with and Marcy decided to use it to make me Totally Yummy No Glop Gluten Free Buckwheat Cornbread.  Here is her recipe, which happens to be Super Easy:

Totally Yummy No Glop Gluten Free Buckwheat Cornbread

1 T Butter (use to grease your pan and throw remainder in bowl)
1 C Cornmeal
1/2 C Buckwheat Flour
1/2 C Brown Rice Flour
1/2 t Salt
2 T Brown Sugar
1 t Baking Soda
1 Egg
1 C Milk

Mix all ingredients together, place in 9 inch pan (or muffin cups), bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350.  You can also sugar the top, which makes for a nice crispy sweetness.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reconnecting to our Inner Sparkle Chicks


Something interesting has been happening to me and students in my Yoga Dance and Kundalini yoga classes.

Let me back up.

After my very first Yoga Dance class, I had a student come up to me and say that for the first time in a long time she felt like maybe it was okay to "feel a little sexy."


That's where so many of us are at this point: afraid that we can't be seen as smart and serious and still have fun with our femininity.

Fast forward a year and I have had a couple of discussions with people who have been with me for some time, committed to this practice, and what keeps coming up?

That they are reconnecting to the really feminine parts of themselves.  That they are craving expressing aspects of themselves that they've held down and in for a long time.  That they want to be more expressive about who they are -- even in how they dress.

They think maybe it's not so silly after all.

I know how they feel.  The second I started dancing again, I started dreaming of tutus and clothing that was not just "useful."

And now I dream of plaid umbrellas and dresses made of cotton candy.

(I also let myself, obviously, play with polyvore, and I will do it again! So there!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More on Gluten & Depression

Lilly rather annoyed that Tuppy is napping so near her

Celiac and gluten intolerance do not always look the same, and for some of us, it looks quite different.  The tests aren't perfect.  Doctors don't necessarily think of it unless you are a "classic" case, and even then, it can take a long time for anyone to figure it out.  Tests online can be misleading as they tend to emphasize those same "classic" signs.

But we are discovering, more and more, that there is reason to believe that a lot of what we call depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and other "disease" is another (dis)function of Celiac and gluten intolerance.

It blows my mind (and makes me so sad) that there are so many people out there suffering deeply with depression, barely able to get out of bed, barely wanting to live, who could feel like brand new versions of themselves with a minor adjustment to their diets.

Getting this information out seems like Big Important Work to me now.  So pass it along if it means anything to you.

I have spent far too many years of my life feeling like I was walking through a world made of sludge, where everything was covered in gray, a world in which my mind could sometimes not make it from point A to point B.  I do not want that for other people.

This is not to say, again, that there are not reasons to feel badly or depressed or anxious.  This is just a GIANT piece of the health puzzle.

After I wrote my post on Monday, Marcy did some research and we quickly found the evidence we needed to corroborate what I was experiencing.

You can read a good and simple overview in this article.  If you don't have time for that, here is a brief explanation of what happens:

Gliadorphin is a 7 amino acids peptide which is formed during digestion of the gliadin component of the gluten protein. Gluten-derived peptides bind to opioid receptors in the brain and exhibit morphine-like effects, for example like heroin. These compounds have been shown to react with areas of the brain which are involved in speech and auditory integration. Urine samples from people with autism, schizophrenia, and celiac disease contain high amounts of gliadorphin. It is suspected that this peptide may also be elevated in other disorders such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and depression. Symptom remission has been observed after exclusion of wheat and dairy products from the diet. 

And thus my Cotton Head after eating gluten.  A Cotton Head is no good: it can't think straight; it gets caught up easily in circular, obsessive thinking; it has no capacity to defend itself against negativity.

This kind of validation of our experiences is so important.  We have to stop blaming ourselves and start taking care of ourselves.

I will never ever eat gluten intentionally again, and I will be much more careful when I am out and about.  My (happy) life depends upon it.

(P.S. If you haven't been over to Blisschick in a few days, I've added some bright light and PINK to the site; I figured we could use some of that sort of energy.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Age? That's Your Excuse?!

You pretty much know how I feel about age here at Blisschick.  I've certainly written about it enough.

If you think you are too old, then you most definitely are.  But my life has only gotten better as I age.  I have become braver and more bold and definitely more willing.

For today, if you are needing inspiration in this arena, here is the story of a 95 year old runner.  Yes.  95 year old runner is what I said.  And she started at 67!

My favorite quote from the piece:

"I just close my eyes and say, 'Count your blessings Ida, count your blessings.' Stay alert, stay focused, and that's it. It clears up a whole lot of things. You'd be surprised," she said.

Besides her age, she brings up something so important to quality of life -- focus.  Most of us lack it in this age of too much information and too many choices, and for most of us, it would make all the difference.

Note: I assume that someone will bring up the idea of being a "skimmer."  If you find happiness there, good for you. Truly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


If you're in a reader, you saw a mistake post.  Please excuse my Polyvore collection of pink!  It was meant for a later date.

Still learning...

Taking it to the Next Level...Regardless of Fear

Stepping carefully is called for on ice

Stepping carefully is called for on ice, but if I continue to step carefully in life, I will not get to where my deepest heart desires wish to take me.

This past Saturday, I had some major breakthroughs in my yoga dance class.

It was just me and three of the women I have been working with the longest -- two of whom were at my first class just a year ago at this time.

At first, I went to my usual ego place and was focused on the number of students.  Yoga Dance is not a well known or understood practice, and these classes are building the most slowly for me, whereas my Kundalini classes have been growing rather steadily.  (I think, too, that the word "dance" is a troublesome word for far too many people.)

Then I realized that with these three "advanced" practitioners, we could do something completely different.  A few weeks previously, I had four of my long time students in a class, and we did a practice that was heavily influenced by the work of Gabrielle Roth.

But this Saturday, we did a practice that was heavily influenced by ME.

I have always felt confident in my teaching abilities, but my week at Kripalu shifted something and I found myself totally and completely trusting myself and just doin' my thing.

These three women were worked hard!  And they more than met my challenge.  At the end, I put on some Zoe Keating after speaking to them about dance coming from this willingness to turn yourself inside out for others to see.

I sat in simple seated and just witnessed.

And what I witnessed was akin to watching the daffodils break free of the still partially frozen earth.

To say I was blown away by their power and beauty and honesty is an understatement.

Afterward, I realized something momentous for my own work: I had found three women -- three distinctly different people and dancers -- with whom I can now work choreographically.

I had found my company of dancers.

I asked and they all were enthusiastically on board.

So can no longer talk about doing this thing that I so desperately need to do.  I must do it.

Again, we teach what we need.  We call forth what we need.   We create our lives in the living of them.

Again, here we go...regardless of fear.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gluten Free & My Depressive Brain

Ice tipped tree on my way to Reiki
I'm sure you've all heard stories about kids with ADHD going off of sugar, and oh! a miracle! Their symptoms are gone.  I am not mocking the nutritional change but rather a medical establishment that seems to be insistent on situational blindness -- namely the blatant link between nutrition and behavior.

Or the link between nutrition and anything, for that matter.  As if we weren't all taught the adage, you are what you eat.

Which brings me to my brain.

On Thursday, I accidentally, at a local restaurant, ate some wheat/gluten.

For me, symptoms occur two days later, so I awoke on Saturday feeling like someone had stuffed cotton in my head.  I felt sad, deeply sad, and I could not think straight.

I immediately thought, Oh great, here we go...

It was on Sunday that I figured out the gluten thing.  So no, here we do not go again.  Now I am aware of what is happening and I still feel like crap, but I know within a week, the gluten will make its way out and I will, therefore, begin again to get the nutrition my brain and body needs and will then feel like myself.

This time around, I am trying to focus on seeing how important my commitment to gluten free has been, and I am trying to really notice how this affects the behavior of my brain.

For instance, I never connected this gluten thing to my obsessive thinking...until I realized that my obsessive thinking had just been gone...until Saturday.

Another thing, this time around, that I am feeling amazed about: how the hell did I live for so long like this?

 I have come to the conclusion that I am actually one of the most optimistic people on the planet for I spent a lifetime trying to figure out how to help myself and I do not know how I did not succumb to suicidal ideations -- except that I also obviously have the Most Giant Willpower.

So this accident has taught me some good things about myself.

Nutrition and movement.  I wish I could open a clinic...

(Note: I am in no way implying that there are not valid reasons to feel depressed.  I think in most cases, though, there is no reason to BE depressed.  Gluten intolerance leads to malnutrition, and if we are malnourished, there is no way we can overcome the reasons for the depression, grief, anxiety, etc.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Post Workshop Blahs

We are having a warm(ish) spell here in Erie.  The Groundhog declared Early Spring and, and lo' and behold, the grass is showing for the first time in months.  In the above photo, you can see what a yard looks like when a couple feet of snow melt in two days time.  Tired.  And we will head back into more seasonal (aka "winter") temperatures tomorrow.

That's okay.  This sudden change not only made the lawn tired, but all the people around me have been complaining of the same thing.  It's just too fast.  We need adjustment periods.

And so I am in the Week After an Amazing/Life Changing Workshop.

Like that lawn, I'm looking and feeling pretty worn out.  It was too fast to absorb so much.

And yet...

I come back every single time with crazy, high, unrealistic expectations.

Like, that I will just keep up the schedule I had at the workshop.  Or I will dive deeper than ever into creative projects the minute I get home.

Every time, I fall for this.  Every time, I am disappointed and feel the self blame games starting.

I am lazy.  I don't want this enough.  You know...all the Hairy Little Demons that I normally keep at bay have a field day when I am this tired, this overwhelmed.

The most frustrating part for me, though, is how damn good I feel when I am at workshops.  I was moving -- and I mean MOVING -- five, six, nine hours a day.  And I had not an ounce of pain.  I was muscle sore in the evenings but in that really good way.

I come home and my lower back pain starts up immediately and now it is super bad.  I am stiff. I am creaky.

I am Crabby.

This is why people get a little...addicted to workshops and are constantly saving for the next one.  But I want to figure this out.  I want to bring that home with me.  I want to be my workshop self all the freaking time.

((whine whine whine))

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Workshop for Depression & Anxiety

As many of you know because you've been here a while, Blisschick is not who I am but whom I strive to be.  I try every day to see the bliss already in my life, and lately, I am pretty darn successful at this.

Thanks to dance.  And yoga.  And chant.  And breath.  And Marcy.  And the animals who live with us.  And one million other tiny, almost invisible things that have happened or are happening.

I have written about the beginning of my life and the ensuing depression and the struggling.  I am a person who has had to work very hard first, to want to be here, and second, to find something beyond contentment, beyond the basics of safety and calm.

Along the way, I have learned a few things, and as I teach yoga and movement and dance, I find myself called upon to share those things.  I like to think that this is one of the reasons we go through sorrow and pain and difficulty -- so we might learn enough from it to help other people on their path.

So on March 27th, from 3:00 to 5:30 PM, I am offering a workshop about using yoga, movement, chant, and breath to deal with the daily demons that depression and anxiety birth in our lives.

You will leave this workshop with a toolkit for combating acute attacks of anxiety as well as the early symptoms of the onset of chronic depression.

I am not a doctor of any kind, but I am a woman who spent too many decades barely wanting to live and now my life is, on a regular basis, full of shiny.  I think that is some sort of credential.

You can sign up for this workshop by going to the facebook events page or by emailing me at pinkyogi at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Devotion to Passion Looks Like

Toby's soulful eyes
Before leaving for Kripalu, a common theme that kept coming up for me in all sorts of ways -- prayer, talks, reading -- was the idea of giving into the very things we claim to love the most.  Really giving into them.  Giving ourselves over.  Not holding anything back.  I wrote about it here.

So of course, during my time away, this was one of the things that I felt like I was there to learn.

At one point, Maureen was talking about working on choreography and she said something along these lines, "Sometimes I'll start with a pose and work with it for three hours until I finally understand it..."

This just stopped me.

Three hours.

One pose.

Three hours.

Not everyone's process is the same.  I might not ever work on one pose for three hours, but the underlying meaning of that dedication...that is where the sameness lurks.

So I've been thinking a lot about that:  what does my own "three hours on one pose" look like?  What does that mean for me?

What would it mean for you?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Depths of Body Image Illusion

This past Sunday, I ran my first focused workshop on the lower chakras.  We were examining our relationship to the hip and belly region, an area of great difficulty for most women.

Body image issues often are focused in this area, and of course, the physical body image issues are merely the surface of what is really going on.  We hold fear, powerlessness, ennui, self-loathing, and a plethora of other negative emotions and coping mechanisms in these lower energy centers.

Our workshop focused on moving the energy through and up into the heart center.

The main lesson I keep coming to personally through all this teaching is the old adage, "you teach what you need."

Ah, yes.

Just developing this workshop forced me through some of my own major fear and power issues.  All for the better.

But it was today, while I was going through the few pictures that Marcy took, that I got another huge lesson.

I found myself unable to process the sight of myself.

In my head, the person I carry around with me?  She is much larger than the reality.  Much.  No matter how many times I stare at these photos, I can't seem to reconcile them with the image inside my brain.

Like, I know that my jeans say a certain number on their tag, but there are days when I hold them up and wonder what WHALE of a woman wears them.

This is not a "pity me" post.  This is just the reality of suffering.

This is the result of those many, many years of being blatantly told I could never be thin enough.  Never could I be beautiful enough.  Never could I expect to be accepted for who I was, loved for just being me.

I am loved now for just being me.  I am respected for my abilities.  I am praised by strangers for my gifts.

And I can barely take it all in.

I can still barely believe I deserve this.

I look at those pictures of that small, fit body, and think, no, that cannot be...I am not that.  I am fat and unattractive and unnoticeable and unworthy...

When I dance, when I teach, I know exactly who I am -- powerful and beautiful and perfect as the manifestation of the divine that I was sent to be.

Someday, I know, someday, if I keep walking and dancing this path, someday, I will be able to see the Real Me all the time and leave the illusion behind.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Back from Kripalu

Marcy: Stunned by the large grapefruit

I wrote last on Wednesday from my "Master Class" (as Maureen refers to it in her literature), and from there, time just flew by, leaving me no spare moments to catch anyone else up on what was happening because catching my own breath was about all I could manage.

To say I have emerged from this experience changed at my core is no hyperbole, and actually, words like this cannot touch what has happened to me.

I feel like I had an entire physical body education slammed into one week.  Same for my emotional and spiritual body.

"MASTER Class" indeed.

I have been realigned.

As I process the concrete, day to day reality of these changes, my words may be few -- frequent, yes, but few.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kripalu, Wednesday

One of the things I have been saying to people for months now is that I want to choreograph and perform. careful with those intentions. I am obviously teasing there, because even though I am totally wigged out about it, on Thursday evening our class will be doing a demo of the things we've been working on this week, including a bit of a butoh performance.

This is not a familiar approach to accessing movement for me. I am a true neophyte in this context, and it is pushing every single one of my edges... physical, emotional, every bit of this Chick.

So perhaps you could do me a favor on Thursday evening at about eight P.M. EST...send me a dose of fearlessness.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kripalu, Tuesday

At the end of the third day here and exactly at the halfway point, which is hard to imagine...that I still have halfway to go.

As you can probably tell, my brain is a bit on the mushy side of things.

We are learning practices that I will be able to take home and use on a daily basis, and just being around Maureen, I am learning of the depths of dedication and focus that are essential to elevating one's self beyond amateur or mere hobbyist.

I am beginning to gain great clarity about this path and that alone was worth the price of admission.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Kripalu, Monday

I am typing on an iPad, which is beyond a pain in this Chick's tutu covered arse so these will be more like notes than posts, but that works because I am going to need some serious time to even begin to be able to articulate what I am learning here.

For now, the word intense is pretty much all I can come up with. For someone who has been known to occasionally (cough)run on about things that excite her, this speechlessness speaks volumes.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vote for Dr. Captain America!

I've written about Dr. Captain America and our writing group, and as you know, he now writes this blog, which is stupendous, and for the second year in a row, he has been nominated by a medical journal site for "best literary blog."

Help him out and go vote!

Damn Fears, Part Two: Heading to Kripalu, Again

This Sunday, me and my Tutu-covered butt are headed, once again, to Kripalu for a week-long dance workshop.

Facing fears and saying yes.  Damn.

Here we go.

The training workshop I am attending is this one and it is being run by NYC dancer/choreographer Maureen Fleming, who is the Real Deal, ya know?

So, please send some positive vibes regarding the weather because we are driving (my tutu butt and I are taking a friend who will be doing R & R).

And some positive vibes for overcoming Big Fears would also be greatly appreciated.

I'll be writing from Kripalu, as I did the last two times.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Question of (Not) Enough

Another by Marcy

I have a question for you (and please try not to get all nit picky stuck on my language choices):

How do you tell the difference between: being somewhat lazy to your true potential and working within a "minimum requirements comfort zone" and looking at and judging your life through some distorted, dark, perfection, never-enough lens?


I can't figure this one out, and it keeps coming up in my pen & paper journal.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

UnRule Your World

Rules are getting on my nerves (and maybe this is a continuation of yesterday's PissedChick Rant but maybe not).

So many rules about everything: what we wear; where we shop; what we eat; what we do; how we do it; what we say; how we perceive; what words we use; where we live; what is age appropriate; how we age (oh...another post right there).

We make these rules out of some desire to feel or be perceived as "good."  Or should I say, "better."  Better than ourselves yesterday or last year.  Better than our parents.  Better than that ass we work with.  Better than that stupid (insert political party or religious affiliation here).

These Rules then support the Illusion that We are In Control.  That we have things figured out.  We are ahead of the game. We don't have to think anymore; we can just consult our little Rule Book.

We don't have to feel or intuit or listen to our bodies!  We have our Rules!

Phew.  Thank God that is all done.

But here is the Danger of Rules: they cover up/replace/bury/stifle/drown/suffocate/murder/silence Longing.

Rules think they are better than Longing.  Smarter.  More savvy.

Longing comes from our deepest selves.  That unknowable place we sometimes call Heart or Soul, and Longing can be messy.

So we put Rule Tape over its mouth.

Here is the Danger of Longing: A) You may get what you long for or B) You may not.  Either way, your heart will be split open in the process.

Rules don't split open your heart so much as shrivel it.  The process is long and barely discernible, but look around and I bet you can see the results.

Can you identify, right now, without too much thinking, where your Heart is Aching as you read this?

Can I double dog dare you to dream your biggest dreams?  To truly live in the moment and risk being brand new in every minute, rules be damned?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

PerfectSpiritualChick is Not Welcome Here

Something I am thinking a lot about: there are as many ways as there are humans to have Giant Egos.

A popular Giant Ego right now that is masquerading as Advanced Spirituality: I am in control of everything. How I feel has absolutely everything to do with me.  If I perceive someone else as grouchy, a pain in the ass, etc., it is really me. I am completely in charge of my life experience.

Okay. Some of that seems okay on the surface.

But it also gets awfully close to Blame the Victim.

Sometimes shit happens outside of you and it affects you.  Yes, how you respond is up to you, but emotions like grief, anger, hurt, pain are all part of the human spectrum of experience, and if you don't feel those shadows, I am afraid of you.

If you try to eradicate those shadows at every turn, I am afraid of you.

No light without dark is true.

This is not Heaven or Nirvana...not yet...and we are here to experience all of it and sometimes, some things just suck.  Sometimes some people are just behaving badly.  Sometimes it is not our job to fix it.

Feeling okay about all of your feelings -- that is true compassion for the self.

This is me giving all of us permission to get our PissedChick on -- or our AngerChick or our GrouchyChick or whatever chick just happens to show up.

PerfectSpiritualChick?  She, on the other hand, is, like, so NOT welcome.