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

Inspiration in the Ordinary

I clearly remember being a teenager and a voracious reader. I would buy a book and devour it in one day. They took me out of my ordinary life and I loved being transported to another place, putting myself into some strange and new situation with the main characters, trying to find myself and my awkward, intense teenage feelings reflected back to me though the words of the author. (Did you ever read anything by Judy Blume?)

More years than I would like to think about have passed since those leisurely days spent lost in a book. Recently, I noticed that I had lost connection to what I was reading. No doubt influenced by the nature of the internet, I just drop into my favorite blogs and back out, skimming through articles impatiently, looking for the meat, leaving behind everything “unneccessary.”  I was just getting the facts but missing out on the nuance that makes a story, any kind of decent story, compelling.  The problem is that I don’t have the pleasure of hours of unstructured time. I have a job and responsibilities and relationships that were absent when I was 14. So that means that the books that I do choose to read have to engage me and the book I just finished has certainly done that and it would be my honor to recommend it to you.

The book is Hand Wash Cold, Care Instruction for an Ordinary Life by Karen Maezen Miller.

The other day, I ran into a friend while my nose was buried in this book, her words swirling about me. My friend asked what the book was about and I hesitated before answering. This book is about everything and it is about nothing. It is about how absolutely ordinary our lives are and how absolutely amazing that is. It is about the laundry but is the laundry. The way that she shares her wisdom is so deceptively simple and hard to put into words. Even as I write this, I know that I am at risk of sending people running from rather than to this inspiration but if you are looking for a way to dive into your everyday life, to find joy and pleasure and happiness in all things, including the laundry, then I say give this one a peek and let me know what you think.

Outside In

Day Seven is winding down and I made it a whole week living on green smoothies and pureed soups. I am here trying to think of a way to communicate what this mixed bag of a week filled with emotions, struggle and peaceful calm has been like. While there is so much that I feel in the moment I can find very few words just yet.

People ask why I do cleanses at the change of the seasons. Sometimes I say, I like the discipline of them (that must come from growing up in a strict military family no doubt), or I say, I like the personal challenge of them (with a healthy dose of testing my personal boundaries mixed in), or with my health counselor hat on, I say that it is good to clear out the junk and toxins from your body and that a cleanse is like hitting restart and beginning again.

If you asked me today, right now, in this moment I would confess that as challenging as this week was, I love how spending time focusing on and caring for the outside, when I was able to get quiet and still and aware, brought me inside, brought me back home to me. There was something about stripping away everything that I use as a crutch, the yummy snack foods, the mindless eating in front of the tv, the “oh it is noon it must be time for lunch” everyday habits that has brought me the most clarity I have felt in a long while.

This juice cleanse idea may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it might not be everyone’s entry into their being but I do encourage you to slow down, become quiet, still and aware and see who you find there.

I bet who you find is simply amazing!

The Voice

The Voice…

Do you know the voice?

The one that often berates you “for your own good.” The one that sees only your problem area when you look at yourself in the mirror, the one that shames you for indulging in something you really really wanted. Yes, my version of that very voice, made herself known loud and clear the other day.

I used to be overweight. I was a rolly polly kid. I was a pudgy teenager. I became an overweight adult until the day that the nurse weighing me in for my physical remarked “You don’t look like you weigh that much!” From that day forward, I purposely worked to lose 40 pounds and for the most part it has remained off for five years. In a way, the losing was the easy part. The thing that the diet books and Weight Watchers doesn’t tell you is how do you change on the inside to maintain the way you look on the outside.

So I set about to develop a relationship with this new version of myself. I read, I studied, I listened, and I eventually created a health counseling practice that reflects what I most needed to find. I did battle with the Voice and thought that I had won her over. That is until the other day…

My favorite restaurant Cafe Gratitude began offering a free Juice Club at the beginning of 2010. The idea is that for the first week of every month you do a juice cleanse only consuming liquids like juices, smoothies, puree soups, herbal teas, and nut milks. Now, I am not a cleansing virgin. I have done the 21 day Quantum Wellness cleanse several times (the one that got Oprah to be vegan for 21 days) but the last time around it felt a bit old hat, it was a bit easy. No gluten, no animal products, no caffeine, no alcohol, no sugar, no problem. When I read about the idea of a juice cleanse I was interested. So I did my research, found recipes for smoothies and soups that offered protein and tons of nutrients, I shopped for fresh fruits and veggies over the weekend and I began on April 1. I felt completely prepared for seven days or so I thought.

On day one, the voice appeared. She stomped her feet. She pushed. She shoved. She yelled at the top of her lungs.  She made it clear that she would not be ignored. She wanted food. It did not matter that she wasn’t really hungry. It did not matter that she had plenty of choice. She just wanted what she wanted and she just would not shut up. What was I to do? I couldn’t quit after, I kid you not, only 2 hours.

So what I decided to do was just sit with her as she threw what could only be described as a temper tantrum. I let her rage, I let her scream and yell and throw herself on the floor and I just sat with her, I held her, I made sure her physical needs were being met but more importantly, I listened for what was beneath the angry emotions. Surprisingly, what I discovered beneath the tantrum was fear.

“I am afraid of being hungry! I will starve!”

The moment you feel hungry then I will feed you delicious, hearty smoothies and warm yummy soups that will fill you up. Remember you like soup!

” This is too hard! I am afraid that I will fail so why even try???”

This is just temporary, just seven days but if it is more than you can handle than we will stop. In my eyes you will not be a failure. The success is in the trying, the rest is only feedback.

“I am afraid that I won’t be nourished!”

We did the research, we planned carefully, we stocked the refrigerator full of healthy food. We can always get more, there will always be plenty.

Little by little she settled. I can’t say that it has been easy but today is day four and the voice has calmed. She shouts every once in awhile, just to make sure that I am listening but when she discovers that I am still here, she is good. I am only half way done but have discovered an unexpected bonus of doing this cleanse. The thing I couldn’t have anticipated is that I can trust myself completely. That learning alone is worth the giving up solid food for a week.

(Though to be completely honest, I am totally looking forward to a scarfing down a huge burrito next week. Oh or maybe just some peanut butter and jelly on toasted Mariposa Bakery bread. No, no a bowl of oatmeal with toasted walnuts and fruit.)

Turned On Its Head

I have often found myself searching for balance in my life. I consider myself a busy urban woman so it seemed like a basic requirement for living.

Having a full time job, finishing school, launching a health counseling practice, plus nurturing friendships, a social life and family ties, not to mention feeding my creativity and keeping myself well fed, and adequately exercised creates the full plate for anyone. So, balance seemed like a good idea…

That is until I read a post by Danielle at White Hot Truth and I swear my head has been swimming ever since, everything I thought I knew turned on its head all topsy turvy.

She boldly declares:

Getting “balanced” is not a remedy to stress. Passion is.

Passion. Passion? Passion!

Passion is not a word that trips easily over my tongue, yet holds such an intriguing allure. Her words resonate in my body as they urge me to refuse to be balanced, to not accept the calm and quiet seas of my past but to set sail for a “full on life” a passionate life which will be filled with peaks and valleys but ultimately a daring adventure.

As my mind rushes to process and adjust, I find my grip loosening every so slightly at the thought of reaching out for my very own daring adventure.

The Only Thing Left Is To Begin

The only thing left to do is to begin…

Welcome to Pieces of HER, the blog home of Valerie Tookes and Her Holistic Health, a health counseling practice dedicated to working with women who crave a deeper, healthier relationship to the woman they see in the mirror everyday.

What do I have to share with you?

I am inspired by the words, images, ideas, recipes, stories and videos of list of amazingly talented bloggers out there. The ones that make me think, that make me feel are the ones I find myself going back to again and again and again. In the last year, as I have worked to craft a health practice that I would most like to find, there has been this voice in the back of my head, cheering me on, telling me that what I have to say, what I have to give to the world is important. That voice urges me to share pieces of myself. So with the help and encouragement of a lovely cast of characters here I am, welcoming you to my virtual home. Thanks for stopping by.

You are always welcome.