Trying Not to Lose My Crystals: A Winter Solstice Ceremony

Last night I attended a last minute Winter Solstice ceremony at my dear friend, Courtney's, house. As the story goes, Courtney had been meditating in the bathtub at around 7pm and received a "message" to hold a small Winter Solstice ceremony in her living room...for the following hour. So, when I received her text about something to do with intentions and manifestation and essential oils and candles and crystals, and wine, I turned off my oven, left my partially-cooked spaghetti squash to fend for itself, got in the car and drove my little hippy ass 45 minutes over to her.

 

I arrived at Courtney's home, where she had created an alter for the ceremony, in the center of her and her husband's studio apartment. The table was adorned with crystals and gems, evergreen branches, candles, and a painting of her favorite stone. Each element intentional and so, so beautiful.

Crystals are to Courtney, what oils are to me. I've never really gotten into using crystals as tools for healing and living, in general. Essential Oils and Yoga are about as granola as I've gotten and I'm very selective about my weirdness. But since Courtney is wildly talented and owns her own handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry company, I'm slowly but surely getting down with the quartz and the pyrite...

So, here's how we did the Solstice thing...

Each person gets their own candle (preferably a white one)

You can add anything you want to the top of the candle, but we used:

1) 1 drop of a therapeutic-grade essential oil blend (that I'd LOVE to tell you about in a private email. Because I can't tell you my company name on my blog. Because FDA).

2) A tiny rosebud: rose is the highest frequency flower in the essential oil and healing world. It represents the purest love and emits the highest vibration. So, that's cool.

3) Pyrite: for abundance, grounding and protection

4) Amethyst: known as the "stone of sobriety" to help clear the mind and keep focus & clarity

5) Silver: just for a touch of magic...I think.

6) Good, good, good, good vibrations

 

We then took a small strip of paper and wrote down our intentions, desires and wishes for the new year. You can keep it as minimal and simple or elaborate and loaded as you like. Write one word, or write a hundred words. My suggestion: when brainstorming all the things you want to manifest in your life, think about how you want to FEEL in your life, before you think about what you want to DO in it. (More to come on this loaded topic, but for now, just do that.)

 

We lit our candle with a match and then burned the piece of paper, holding all our hopes and intentions for the year ahead, because a ceremony isn't a ceremony if you don't light something on fire. Am I right?

As an early birthday gift to me, (which is on January 6th FYI), Courtney sent me home with a huge hunk of rose quartz because I'm pretty sure I'm gonna wanna go ahead and get married someday soon, and rose quartz is good for attracting love, so...

I will use the large stone to cleanse and "charge" my new rose quartz necklace from HabitationCo.!

Even if you're not into the "Winter Solstice Woo-Woo", this ritual is a really grounding, clarifying and fun way to ring in the new year or a new chapter in your life.

What rituals or traditions do you do??

Wholeheartedly,

Erica



Getting Dressed With Erica: A Stitch-Fix Story

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Once upon a time, in a dressing room (next door to yours, probably) a young woman, named Erica, sit naked, sobbing on the floor. No matter how hard she tried, she could never find clothes that complemented her waist, hugged her strong legs the right way or flattered her loving arms. Ever. WHY is this so easy for everyone else?! WHY do jeans look great on EVERYONE in the entire world, except me?! she cried. In her closet, she had lots of clothes, in all kinds of sizes and styles, based on what her body looked like any given month or year. Previous years of chronic dieting and binge eating had caused her body (and the way she felt in it) to fluctuate.

Though her relationship with food had drastically improved, her body image often held her back from getting dressed. Yoga pants, leggings and over-sized shirts were go-to and kept her sane and safe.

One day, Erica's BFF told her to read a book called, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. So she did. And basically the book told her to get rid of anything that didn't "spark joy". So, she did that, too. She dismantled her kitchen, and tore through her photo albums and old greeting cards.  She parted ways with books that no longer socially or intellectually served her. And then, she addressed her wardrobe...

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Erica got rid of most everything and she was left with just a few pieces that did indeed spark joy. But that was only the first step. Not only was she to part ways with the clothes that no longer served her in the present, she needed a new method, a new attitude and a clear intention for the future of her closet.

To keep it simple for herself, Erica set a very practical and easy intention:

"to cultivate joy, femininity and comfort in a carefully edited and stylish wardrobe"

One day, as she was scrolling through her social media, (which was kind of all-day occurrence), Erica stumbled upon a company named Stitch-Fix: Clothing and accessories hand-selected by a personal stylist, delivered to your door. 

For reals? Erica thought. Sweet. She filled out the profile on the website, punched in her credit card number, which she had memorized, and scheduled her first clothing "fix" for the following week. She even dropped a little note to her stylist:

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She tried each item on in the comfort of her own home, armed with all the tools needed to try on clothes in a sane and joyful way: Natural light, a full-length mirror, and LOTS of room to frolic in the frocks and dance in the denim. She kept what worked for her and sent the rest back.

She scheduled her next fix for the following month:

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So far, Erica not only enjoys Stitch-Fix, but is now able to see the value in wearing clothes that tell the story of how she feels about herself, any given day. Her body image slowly but surely improves each time she goes to her closet, knowing that EVERY item in there, fits the body she has today. She's still the young naked women in the dressing room, only her dressing room is her own home and she isn't sobbing anymore. But she's still naked a lot of the time..which is fine, also.

The End.


some logistics:

if Stitch-Fix is something that might bring peace to your shopping process, here are 7 things that I have found helpful in my experience so far...
1) If you're hippy-dippy-kinda like me, maybe set a simple intention for what you value/want in your wardrobe. nothing fancy or out there, just think about what you want your closet to represent to you.
2) It often takes a few shipments for you and your stylist to find a rhythm. So, give it a few tries!
3) create a style board on  Pinterest, to help your stylist get an idea of who you are! be sure to pin the styles/colors/fabrics/patterns/"mood" of your desired wardrobe. pin all kinds of things from all kinds of places! also, be sure to name it something pleasant :) Here's mine.
4) only keep things from your shipment that spark joy, make you feel & look amazing, and are in line with what you value in a wardrobe.
5) do not feel discouraged, apologetic or guilty for returning anything (or everything) your stylist has picked for you. this is their job. you will gain nothing buy purchasing something just because you don't want to be a 'difficult' shopper.
6) remember: this is not the be all and end all of shopping for clothes. this is just one option of so many!
7) have fun! Go on! get dressed! go out! mmmmbyyyeeee

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A Word (or 1,496) About Intuitive Eating

March, 2012 So then she said to me, she says, "You have unconditional permission to eat what you want, when you want it". I looked at her like she was nuts and burst into laughter. A Nutritionist telling me, a binge eater and chronic dieter, that I could eat whatever I want whenever I want was like a Prison Guard telling an inmate on death row that he can, just, like, leave prison. I probably even said that to her. She explained to me that I'd be adopting the principles of Intuitive Eating; a nutrition philosophy based on becoming more attuned to my body's natural hunger/satiety signals, rather than counting calories, obsessing over food, etc. So I said to her, "I don't think I can do that." And she replied, "I think you can." And I said, "We'll see."


Intuitive Eating: Eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're satisfied--the exact same mechanism we're born with. I truly couldn't fathom it. Up until 2012, I had spent eleven years actively trying to lose weight. I had taken pills, powders, undergone hypnosis, body wraps, taken more pills, exercised like a lunatic...I was exhausted and miserable and I still felt fat (of course). Food was always an issue for me. Growing up in two separate households, under two sets of rules and beliefs around food, I was under-fed at one house and over-fed at the other. Binge eating in between. Nothing was balanced. There was no harmony when it came to walking into a kitchen or opening a fridge. I don't share this for pity. I share this because food, eating, our body (and how we feel about it) is complicated. It's confusing. And the holidays complicate things further, for many reasons.

For years, the holidays meant one thing to me: At least four months of complete insanity around food and my body image. It's always felt like very fertile ground for disordered eating patterns and the need for justification (and validation) around food choices. Whether it was sly comments from my extended family over how many latkes I was eating, to perfect strangers at Yoga studios asking the day after Thanksgiving if I'm ready to "burn off what I ate yesterday", eating with intuition and making peace with my plate this time of year is really rough...EVEN as an Eating Psychology  Counselor. Probably because of it, actually.

For those who struggle with disordered eating, (or anyone, really) it's easy to feel overwhelmed and even a bit scared of the holidays approaching. That's why we need to have an open discussion about Intuitive Eating, now, so you have some tools to allow yourself a peaceful relationship to/with food and a satisfied belly this holiday season. Want to?

So, what's Intuitive Eating, again? Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body's natural hunger/satiety signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than counting calories. Intuitive eating goes by many names, my favorites are: non-dieting or the non-diet approach, normal eating, wisdom eating and conscious eating.

The best place to start on an Intuitive Eating journey is (and this does sound nutso, whacky) to have UNCONDITIONAL PERMISSION TO EAT WHAT YOU WANT...WHEN YOU WANT IT. For many people who've struggled with chronic dieting, binge eating, compulsive over/under eating and body image issues, food has often been labeled "good"or "bad", regardless of how well our body responds to the food and how much pleasure it genuinely brings to us. So, when we remove such labels and allow our bodies to tell us when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat, we take the power away from food/body and the shame society places around it. This makes our relationship with food, our family, our friends and our culture more peaceful, thus helping your body find it's natural, happy and sustainable weight.

Here are some very basic things to start with...

SIX tools you need to eat intuitively:

*A CLEAN, ORGANIZED KITCHEN. In last week's post, I talked about the process of cleaning out my kitchen, as directed in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Tidying up the kitchen is important for knowing where EVERYTHING is, making sure you only have the tools that spark joy and rid yourself of old belief patterns; diet pills, laxative teas and anything that suggests rigid rules around food. We cannot have a harmonious relationship with food or our body if the place where we prepare our food is out of whack and full of old beliefs. Like, sure, you could meditate in a porta-potty, but do you really want to?

*ACTUAL GROCERIES. This one can be tough but it's really important for our sanity (and our wallet). The best way I can define actual groceries is simply a plan for the week. Perhaps this includes a list or a general knowledge of what YOU enjoy having in your fridge. For many people who experience binge eating, or any kind of restrictive behavior around food, food can often be scarce or overly plentiful, but without consistency in either direction or a balance. When we make a list of what we'll need for the week, or even the next few days, and shop accordingly, deciding what to eat becomes easier and mealtime as a whole becomes less of a heartbreaking, frustrating pain in the ass.

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*A ROUTINE. Everyone's schedule is different, so I won't go overboard with this category. By routine, I mean be aware of what promotes a calm and decisive approach to a meal. For example, I've always been an early riser yet that doesn't mean I'm physically hungry for breakfast right when I wake up. I like to have a cup of tea, do some writing and THEN think about what I'd like to eat. Pick a routine that works for you, keeping within the guidelines of eating exactly what you're hungry for, when you're hungry and stopping when satisfied.

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*AN INTENTION. Why are you in the kitchen? What are you wanting to accomplish? What do you value while you're in there? (I know, now I'm getting a bit carried away with the existential questions). But seriously. If your experience in the kitchen has ever been stressful and caused you panic, setting a little intention never hurt anyone--just as every hippy-dippy Yoga teacher in LA. Pick something very simple and be prepared to change it each time you sit down to a meal. For example: I intend to chew my food slowly, so I may thoroughly enjoy all the flavors.

*AN ATMOSPHERE. Different than a clean and organized kitchen, the atmosphere is more the "mood" or "tone" of the kitchen/eating space. Take a quick survey of your typical eating atmosphere. Is the TV on? Is your phone next to you?  What's the lighting situation? Does the kitchen table/eating space have other things on it, other than your plate? Whatever it usually is, ask yourself, Does this work for me? Would I prefer a different ambiance? KEEP IN MIND: Intuitive, relaxed eating CAN take place while watching TV and other distractions. Please know that the TV, phone, bright lights, kids running around, etc. are NOT detrimental to the Intuitive Eating Process, BUT it takes practice. So, especially as the holidays approach, play a little bit with what most relaxes you and keeps you in tune with your body's hunger/satiety cues and signals.

*ACCOUNTABILITY. We're not in this life alone, so we ought not to be "in the kitchen" alone (and I mean this metaphorically, for the most part.) This is hard. What I found, in my experience, was that having people in my life who "get it" is crucial to building a healthy relationship with food. Though we cannot control what other people say and believe about food/body (especially this time of year) it does help to surround yourself with people who not only support your right to listen to your own body when it comes to food selection and quantity, but hold you accountable to it. This can often come in the form of a dear friend, a nutritionist who specializes in Intuitive Eating, or an Eating Psychology Counselor, such as myself, whom also specializes in Intuitive Eating. Obviously. You're not alone in this. Just saying.

We're not done with this discussion, but this is a great start. This is the start of a new and healthy relationship with food. This is the process that will help get you where you need and want to go, with peace, nachas and joy. (Had to throw some Yiddish in there!)

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*Are the holidays a stressful time for you in the kitchen? Do you want to experience a more joyful, relaxed, and content holiday season around the dinner table? Unsure if you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating? Let's talk! I specialize in Binge Eating, Chronic Dieting, Body Image and Digestion and am available Monday-Thursday, 9am-6pm. More details here.

Life-Changing Magic: Part Four

IMG_2784 Don't. Stop. Stop. Don't. Don't go in there again. No more. Stop eating. You're done. Enough. Stop. Don't. Please, stop. Please, don't. Please...please...don't...stop. Don't stop. Keep going. Keep eating. You're not done. Don't stop...


The kitchen. It's not my favorite place. It's like the unsettling, nerve-wracking office of a court-ordered shrink; I don't want to be there, but I'll get in trouble if I'm not. It's the room I fear the most and the room I arguably have spent the most time in. Alone. Throughout the day. Late at night, for as long as I can remember.

Last week, we chatted about the process of tidying up my closet and what it's like getting rid of clothes that suggest I've failed; failed at losing weight, failed at keeping the weight off. Truthfully, the kitchen is no different. Simply put: the kitchen has always been a reflection of who I am and where I've come with my eating disorder, which most days, doesn't feel very far at all...

I started with the cabinet above the oven.

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And dumped the contents of it onto the floor.

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Among the pile of plastic bins, Malaria prevention meds from when I went to India, napkins and a random alarm clock, there they were: diet pills, various weight loss powders and laxative teas-- evidence of a life consumed by weight loss strategies and late-night, and/or daytime, binges, for nearly fourteen years. I gazed at the pile for a few moments and walked away...to the fridge. I decided I was hungry. I opened the package of something or other, and ate it, fast, avoiding the mess I'd made, not just in the kitchen, but in my life as a former chronic dieting, binge eating woman girl.

I sat on my kitchen floor, ate the whatever (what I ate isn't relevant to the story) and cried. I cried for the nights I'd wait for my dad to go to sleep so I could sneak downstairs and...eat. I cried for the always-empty fridge at my Mother's house. I cried for all the pantries in the homes of the families I babysat for, that were a lot emptier after I left. I cried for the times I ran to the fridge after having sex with my now ex-boyfriend; frantically searching for all the things I didn't get in the bedroom. I cried for the men, women and teens who've felt even an ounce of the way I felt. And I cried for the one and only week my fridge looked like this:

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I don't even want to do this, I thought to myself. I didn't know if I was referring to cleaning out the kitchen, eating, or crying but I decided to peel myself off the floor, open some trash bags and do the thing that I'd already done for my bookshelf and my closet.

As I've mentioned, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up specifically says to only keep what "sparks joy". The kitchen is no exception. It wasn't hard to throw away the pills, powders and laxative teas, mostly because they have long since expired. I did keep a couple of my favorite teas, however...

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For so long the kitchen, and my closet, have been a symbol for my shortcomings. And in many ways, they still are. But...I know what's in it, now. I know what's in my cupboards and my pantry. I know what's in my fridge and I now know *exactly* how many cans of soup I have. It does feel better knowing and my kitchen does feel lighter.

This is not a cure-all. This is the beginning of a Life-Changing process and like anything, it takes time. My Magic Sponsor said to me yesterday, that the entire purpose of this book is not just to get rid of a bunch of crap, but to bring harmony into the process of living; to harmonize budget with spending, harmonize food cravings with healthy, delicious choices, harmonize daily routine with how the body feels and harmonize closet with my desired lifestyle.

How are you feeling on the harmony scale?

Love,

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And in case you're wondering about that cupboard above the oven...I kept only the joy-sparking essentials.
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*Be sure to catch part one, two and three of this series.

Life-Changing Magic: Part Three

photo 1-12 Clothes. I got rid of my clothes. Not all of them, but most of them. The truth is, most of the clothes in my closet didn't fit. They were just scraps of fabric, hanging out, waiting for me to be thin again, mocking me for having outgrown them in the waist, shoulders, hips, thighs, nipples, eyeballs, everywhere.

I started in an ordinary manner; I emptied my closet, my drawers and under-the-bed "storage", dumped everything in my living room, became overwhelmed and anxious, rubbed a Grounding Blend on the bottoms of my feet and stared at the piles for about ten minutes, waiting for them to organize and purge themselves. Of course, I could have done one drawer, one section at a time, but I've never been interested in doing things the easy way.

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I had to keep reminding myself; Joy, Erica. It has to spark Joy in order for you to keep it, k? One great suggestion I got from my Magic Sponsor was to look at my clothes and ask myself if I would buy this item again. Were I to see this shirt/jacket/tube top/sequined beret in the store TODAY, would I buy it? And most importantly, DOES IT EVEN FIT? I promise you, I am the queen of keeping clothes for the benefit of my "future body" and especially my "past body". I don't talk a lot about my experience with chronic dieting, or binge eating, or weight gain, or weight loss, or body image, though, I probably should and also I want to, but just take my word for it; getting rid of the clothes once compatible with my body, that now even my arms wouldn't slide into, was mildly devastating.

I studied most of the items as though it were someone I used to know; holding the garment out in front of me, squeezing the material down its length, cocking my head to the side and squinting my eyes, vaguely remembering what it felt like to wear it and mostly remembering constantly being terrified for the day it would no longer fit. And that day came a long time ago. I've gained enough weight and my body had changed shape drastically enough to warrant more than half my closet to not fit me. But the only reason those clothes ever fit me was because I ate nothing but straw, hay, kale and cow diarrhea green drinks. Plus, I exercised like German Nazis were constantly chasing me. (Too soon?) But seriously.

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So, out they went! TEN bags full of clothes that didn't spark joy, I wouldn't buy today and that reminded me of the years I was terrified of gaining weight. Mmmmmbyeeeee!

I'm *technically* still not done with this category, though. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up gives specific instructions for how to reorganize after de-cluttering. The author has a folding/organizing method that I refuse to use, simply because, in addition to every other article of clothing, she wants you to fold your underwear and I am NOT that kinda gal; I don't have the patience, I don't have the upkeep and I don't have the underwear. (Remember?) But for those of you who LOVE folding your underwear and dividing your t-shirts into thirds and arranging your clothes in the closet from lightweight to heavy...the link is above. Knock yourself out! Make this YOUR magical experience.

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So, what now...?

It's hard for me to get dressed, and has been since I was twelve. When I do actually get dressed, I seldom stay dressed. Being self-employed, I have the option of changing my clothes if my mood, body image or the climate changes. But I'm not so sure that helps me feel like a mature, confident woman. For years, I've worked in an industry that regards stretchy, forgiving spandex as put-together outfits and I think it's time I thank my Yoga pants for their service of safety and forgiveness, and try my hand at getting dressed, in "real" clothes.

So how do I start getting dressed, staying dressed and liking it?

Step One: I did the "Yoga Thing"; I set an intention, based on what I value most when it comes to my personal style and clothing. Here are some things that came to mind...joy, confidence, satiety, comfort, stylish, appreciation, worthiness, deliberate, choosy/picky, quality. From there, I pieced together my over all intention for getting dressed; To cultivate joy, confidence, comfort and spiritual satiety in a carefully edited, deliberate and stylish wardrobe. 

Step Two: I made a Pinterest Board filled with clothing and looks that inspire me and that I can see myself wearing on the daily...the ENTIRE day...unless I'm legitimately going to Yoga, in which case, the spandex is okay.

Step Three: I enrolled in Stitch Fix: Clothing and accessories hand-selected by a personal stylist, delivered to your door. Right?! Apparently, there are people in the world who literally want to make my getting dressed their problem. Fine! I won't stop ya! I even dropped a note to my stylist...

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Thanks for sticking with me for this series. Next up: "What's hiding under my couch?" AND "Let's not keep old alarm clocks and other non-kitchen items in the kitchen cupboards, k?"

Ok! Namaste! Byyyyeee!

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Oh, and PS: I totally got dressed yesterday ;-)

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