Mindful food literacy

Over my past seventeen years as a psychotherapist, I’ve helped individuals navigate a myriad of physical and mental health struggles and delivered a variety of research-supported interventions. I’ve also maintained a long-standing passion for health education, both as a tool for recovery and a preventative measure.

In this next chapter that I’ve named The SAVOR Project, I’m bringing what I’ve learned as a psychologist to the (literal and figurative) table to promote a more positive, connected  relationship with food. And the journey begins with mindful food literacy, which can be broadly defined as the ability to access, choose, process, and enjoy food.  

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You’ll find me at the community garden

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This month, I’m officially entering phase one of The SAVOR Project! I’ve secured a plot at Ridgewood Park, a SW Portland community garden, and over the next few seasons, I’ll use this space as a demo garden to highlight the benefits of interacting with and cultivating an urban edible garden. It will also serve as the meeting place for a number of low-cost public offerings through The SAVOR Project’s “outdoor school” workshop series. Most of what I harvest from this plot will be given away to workshop participants and the Produce for People Program. Read More

A new planting year begins

It’s that time again. I’m clearing out the vegetable beds closest to our house. I’m rinsing out my  germination flats with bleach, and filling them with seedling mix. I’m fondling seed packets, and paging through piles of seed catalogs.

What will I grow? How will it go? How can I work with nature, and what is beyond my control?

So much. So much is beyond my control. It’s dizzying, it’s terrifying, what’s beyond my control.

And on some levels, it’s simplifying. Thanks to the lessons I’m learning as a student of therapeutic horticulture, I’m recognizing better the parallels between daily life and gardening.

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The scoop on savoring practices

From Embracing the Good, a chapter in the Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook (Neff & Germer, 2018):

“Savoring involves noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life – taking them in, letting them linger, and then letting them go. It is more than pleasure – savoring involves mindful awareness of the experience of pleasure…” (p.161)

Let’s be honest. How often do we miss opportunities to savor because our minds are nowhere to be found? To be distracted, to wake up breathing this morning (hooray!) and yet to find ourselves pulled in a hundred directions before our feet hit the floor – welcome to the experience of being human. So it’s for good reason that we call this the practice of mindfulness, the practice of mindful eating, the practice of savoring. Guess what? We get our whole lives to strengthen these skills.  Read More

Sowing Seeds of Change

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Twenty years ago, I didn’t know the difference between annuals and perennials (hint: the former dies off each year, the latter returns), or how to grow vegetables. Twenty years ago, I was newly married, saving up to buy our first house, a fixer-upper that would exhaust most of our (very limited) time and money. Plaster and lathe, exposed wires, and vintage linoleum, oh my.

But the joy and wisdom that came from cultivating my own little garden? Abundant.  Read More

Savoring winter greens

20191201_124752It’s a relief to catch my breath after the frenetic pace of summer. Winter is a time of rest, both for the soil and for our bodies. Shorter days, cooler weather – an opportunity to slow down, go to bed earlier, take stock of the previous months and contemplate what lies ahead. Recently, however, I wandered outside to visit my neglected vegetable beds and reacquaint myself with my edible garden.

Around the yard, the bare limbs of our apple, pear, and hazelnut trees were outlined against a heavy gray sky. Much of the garden appeared dormant and yet life pulsed just below the surface. A few beds offered their remaining bounty – herbs, a lone rutabaga and kohlrabi hiding beneath an overgrown forest of aragula, a last row of leeks, a small patch of beets.

As usual, I’ve impressed with the hardiness of greens like kale and swiss chard, and how they often persevere through frost and snow.  Aren’t we all like this – surprising in our resilience? Read More

On the value of pausing, and food justice

9389a10aa827004f79c4f63dbe307fd3.jpgIt’s been exactly two months since I’ve closed my practice as a psychotherapist, but it already feels like I’ve been away a lifetime. During that time, I’ve celebrated birthdays and an adoption anniversary, given a whole lot of attention to my edible garden, volunteered at local farmer’s markets as a Master Gardener, written a little, cooked a lot, and read a handful of books.

I do miss sitting with all of you, feeling awed by the courage and vulnerability and determination I saw every day. I miss being of service, feeling connected to a profession that is doing good things and working hard to remedy past wrongs, individually and collectively. I miss bearing witness to so many stories, those jewels of human experience. Read More

Edible art

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From my garden (clockwise, from bottom): Starburst radishes, parsley seed, red-veined sorrel, snap pea, German chamomile flowers, apple mint, mustard mix, Redbor kale, borage flower, sage flower, New Red Fire lettuce. Tristar strawberry and nasturtium (middle).

Yes, you should play with your food! Mindful eating invites us to feast with all of our senses during our next meal or snack.

For families who want to have fun with gardening, check out this article: https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/gardening-with-kids-how-it-affects-your-childs-brain-body-and-soul.

And here’s another blogger’s perspective on how mindful gardening can connect us to our bodies: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2016/sep/01/if-you-want-to-practice-mindfulness-the-garden-is-the-place-to-be.

Happy summer eating and gardening, friends.

 

 

 

A self-compassionate first aid kit

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Recently, my 9-year-old daughter came home from school and shared an event that had happened during recess while playing a game known as “deadly tick tock” on the tire swing. She’d flashed back to a memory of our family’s car accident the July before, and remembered some scary details surrounding her dad’s head injury. Needless to say, she became upset, and she didn’t know what to do.

This is an especially emotionally-laden example but the reality is that life crashes into each of us, in some shape or form. We’ve all had difficult days, at work or at home – and there are more to come, as long as we wake up breathing. Life is glorious…and challenging, and messy. When our bodies feel as if we are in the middle of a four-alarm stress fire and we’re not sure where to turn, we might benefit from a self-compassionate first aid kit. Read More

The Growing Season

As I wind down the final month of my practice as a psychotherapist, things are exploding (in a good way) at home on our little farm. But rest assured, I’m hard at work growing the SAVOR Project, as well, and updates will be coming soon!

In the meantime, here are a few farm shots. I love playing in the dirt so very much. Some of these herbs will show up as plant starts in a future SAVOR workshop – maybe my Back to Food Basics, exploring food literacy through a variety of fun mindful eating exercises, in the fall?