I believe in this simple equation: You + (trusting) your body’s deepest wisdom = Loving Yourself Well

Sometimes You Gotta Lean, Sometimes You Gotta Leap

Me Leaping

One of my greatest influences in the field of health and wellness is the New York Times best-selling author, Kathy Freston, whose focus is on healthy living and conscious eating. What I love about her work is that she advocates leaning into change. In her books talks a lot about leaning in the direction of the change you want to make and suggests that when you pause and look around you find yourself having made changes that seemed to happen without much effort.

Even when that expanse between where we are and where we want to be feels huge, I wholeheartedly believe there is so much value in consciously leaning in that direction and I know, from personal experience, that a lot of change will happen as we stretch more and more incrementally.

I deeply believe that sometimes you just gotta lean. Yet recently, a new thought has emerged in my mind…sometimes you just gotta leap.

As is the case in life, focus shifts. We turn our attention and find ourselves leaning in a different direction. For me, the creep began with more dinners out, more indulging in desserts. My focus had shifted and I felt festive, celebratory and I was enjoying the moments of my life yet, when I paused and looked around, 15 months had passed and I wasn’t feeling physically my best. I was (and am) happy to find myself in a solid relationship with an amazing guy and while I was leaning in the direction of creating a wonderful, stable relationship, the turn in my attention had allowed some old patterns to creep back.

I had fallen back into relying on feeding myself on the run with restaurant or packaged food (albeit the healthiest I could find) and with making the same few recipes over and over. While both options fed me, they weren’t nourishing me. When I picked up on the wisdom of my body and what she was trying to communicate, my mind searched for what to do and how to get back. I thought of the idea of the lean but what I knew was that I wasn’t that far off track, I could easily buy fresh ingredients and cook more at home again. But to tell the truth, that wasn’t terribly interesting or motivating to me. I had leaned far enough and for long enough to make lasting change and so a simple lean wasn’t going to be enough.

What was being called for, what would really interest and motivate me was something a bit bigger – my life was calling for a leap.

When a lean doesn’t feel quite enough, a leap can be a way to jumpstart your energy, to shake up the status quo and get you back on the path toward your best life with the added excitement of a beginners mind.

So what was my leap?

I signed up for a 12 week cooking class at a local cooking school called Kitchen on Fire, so for the next three months I will be diving into a basic level cooking class and instead of relying on the recipes, I will be learning to go beyond them to explore the techniques and foundations underneath. Believe me, this is huge for me. I have always dreamed of being one of those intuitive and creative home cooks who can throw together an amazing meal with random ingredients and a well stocked pantry. I don’t know how my leap will change things but I invite you to stay tuned as I share with you snippets and inspirations from my adventure of easing away from being “chained to the recipe” toward being an intuitive cook that is nourishing herself body, mind and soul.





What Words Do You Use To Describe Your Beauty?


Dove Real Beauty Sketches

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. ~ Buddha

Today I came across this video. It is so incredibly poignant and touching and it got me thinking about the words I use to describe myself. Words have such intention and power, they can uplift and support and they can just as easily put down and hurt. We often choose our words carefully in describing others but do we take as much care about what we say to and about ourselves?



Begin Again


New beginnings are a natural for January. It’s the time to formally start – resolutions, diets, the breaking old habits and the beginning shiny new ones. At my local gym, there tends to be a fitness spike and the place is brimming with good intentions as new (or returning) members make a New Year’s resolution to exercise. I have certainly followed that impulse to let January 1st be the day to begin anew.

There are tons of online articles and resources to be found that can help you make and keep sensible New Year’s resolutions but let’s face the fact that we may stumble. Even with the best of intentions, inevitably our resolve falters, we slip and miss a day which turns into two which turns into falling back into the old habitual patterns that we wanted to leave in the old year. The reason why this happens varies from person to person but we aren’t perfect and we stumble. We struggle to stay motivated when the “new” gets challenging and our commitment to it and more importantly to ourselves and our well being waivers. Then what do you do?

Begin again (and again and again and again)

Over the years, one of my favorite sessions to have with clients centers around giving themselves permission to begin again. The first step is always to just breathe and to come back to your body. The part of you that shows up when you stumble can be your best friend or worst enemy and it is up to you who you let in the door.

The critical, harsh voice is not your friend but is instead all about pushing down the part of you that wanted to make change in the first place.

In it’s own perverse way, it is trying to protect you from the unknown and from potential disappointment, heartache, and pain but it is keeping you from your best life by keeping you small.

After you come back to your body through your breath, your second step is to give yourself 100% full credit for showing up in your life by simply beginning.

That’s right, 100% full, standing ovation, credit!

And, if you do happen to miss a day (or a week or a month or even a year) then you get to move to the third important step which is to begin again (and again and again and again).

At first, when I introduce the idea of beginning again, it is met with a lot of resistance. It is a challenge because we are conditioned to believe that we have to get it right the first time, we have to be the very best from the start or else we are a complete and total failure. We jump into comparison mode when we notice that someone else (who almost always has been at it longer) is so much better and we completely skip over the part where we give ourselves a break because we are a beginner.

Within you, there is a nurturing, supportive, loving part. It is the part of you that set the resolution in the first place.It is the part that wants you to lose weight or eat healthier or quit smoking or exercise more all so that you can live longer and stronger and happier.

That voice is your best friend and is the part to listen for – the voice that gently reminds you of your beginner’s status and can remind you that no matter what happens, no matter how long it has been that in the very next moment you always have the opportunity to begin again.

So as you take the first steps into 2013, I encourage you to allow yourself to be filled with sheer excitement and anticipation.

If resolutions are your thing then make some. If choosing a word for the year begins your year with hope, clarity and focus then choose one. (My word for 2013 is permission.) Give yourself 100% full credit for committing both to your well being and to becoming the best version of yourself that you can be and remember that no matter what the next moment brings, you can always take a deep breath, give your credit for what you have done and begin again (and again and again).



Why Do You Go Away?


Because I Have Traveled

To be able to leave home and to travel, to see places far from home, for me, is a gift. Recently, I left my home in California, gathered up my Mom in Florida, and together we set off on a 10 day adventure in Venice, Florence and Rome.


Like everything one encounters in a life, travel can be a doorway which will lead to a unique kind of growth, if you allow it to transform you.


It is a place where all of you shows up, amplified, (including the good, the bad and the ugly) and as I return to my regular life this week, the things that I carry with me are life lessons I have learned because I travel.


Sunset in Rome from Valerie Tookes on Vimeo.

Because I have traveled I:

  • can more easily let go of the “plan” and simply surrender to the moment.
  • know what it means to be not be perfect.
  • respect each of us as an individual in this global community.
  • know the power of a smile. It can open a heart, a door, a world.
  • understand the value of being able to say please, thank you and I am sorry.
  • believe in the goodness of others and have faith that the world is a friendly place.
  • trust in my ability to figure it out.
  • know that I don’t know it all, and
  • am willing to be humbled by that fact in order to learn and experience new things.