9 Signs You’re Dealing with a Narcissist

narcissistimage

The last couple years haven’t been easy on an emotional front. I’ve broken up with two close friends and massively distanced myself from an entire group of people.

What’s behind it all? 

Well, assuming I haven’t lost my mind {and that’s debatable},  I can sum it up with one word: cleanse.

I’ve made healthy, honest relationships a priority and that means saying no to situations—and people— that exhaust me or otherwise infect me with negativity.

My energy is precious and I’ve learned to protect it. Fiercely.

I’ve also learned it’s natural for your social circle to evolve as you evolve. 

You will inevitably meet new people and forge deeper connections as your consciousness expands.

It also means you will need to let the dead weight go, or lovingly release those people who no longer deserve a spot in your life. Or we learn to relate to them in a new way.

Only you can determine who is healthy enough to keep around {with some strict boundaries in place} and who needs to go.

And believe me, I know it can be hard to know the difference.

See, us empaths, or sensitive introverts, are a magnet for manipulation. Narcissists, sociopaths, ego maniacs—they love us.

And as much as I hate to reduce anyone to labels, the point is: there’s some people you just need to stay away from. Or prepare to be perpetually pissed off and plain tired.

They will pull closer just as you tell them you need distance. Trash you behind your back after telling you how much they love you. Their words may be sweet but energy doesn’t lie.

You will know who is good for you by one simple measure: how they make you feel. Do you leave your time together feeling uplifted and loved or confused and angry?

Your gut won’t lead you astray.

The worst thing you can do is not trust it. Especially when it comes to deciding who you will devote your precious time to.

Remember, you always, always have a choice. You don’t have to be friends with someone just because they’ve been in your life since you were six or have all the dirt on you or had you in their wedding. You are free to move on from anyone or anything that is no longer serving you. Period.

In case your gut is in need of some convincing, here’s what myself {and many people with PHDs} agree are the some sure signs that you’re dealing with a narcissist.

  1. They feel better when you feel bad. And when you’re doing well, they drain your energy like an emotional vampire. No matter what’s going on in your world, you will somehow leave an exchange with a narcissist feeling far worse about it.

  2. They dominate the conversation, or force you to. Either way, it’s not an honest, balanced exchange. They’re not capable of that.

  3. They leave you feeling crazy, even if you’re not sure why. If you ever get into an argument with a narcissist or generally manipulative person, prepare  for an emotional whirlwind. By the end of the argument, you’ll forget how it started or why you bothered bringing anything up.

  4. They gaslight or somehow make you out to be the bad guy. You know those men that cheat on their girlfriends and then get pissed when their behavior is questioned; turn it around on the girl and convince her she’s being jealous, irrational and insecure? That’s gas lighting. Stay far, far away.

  5. They will guilt trip you + hold things over your head. Yet, they’re not capable of being accountable for their actions. If you do get an apology, chances are there’s an agenda attached. Similarly, they will dish it out all day but react with outrage to any perceived criticism. It’s too damaging for the fragile narcissist’s ego to admit they may be wrong or worse, imperfect!

  6. They question/judge/criticize damn near everything. When you’re in the presence of a narcissist, prepare to feel as though nothing you do is good enough. I once had an boyfriend criticize everything from my home state to the way I presented myself on social media and even my choice in music. Know that this sort of behavior, though seemingly benign at first, will only lead to deeper wounds. 

  7. They will routinely put others down in order to make themselves feel better. I’ll never forget how shocked I was to witness a couple “sweet” girlfriends of mine completely tear into this complete stranger jogging down the street, mocking her hair and appearance in general. The only people who do this are people who profoundly dislike themselves.

  8. They are incapable of intimacy; it’s like they’re not there. This can be tough to understand unless you’ve been there. The surest sign of a narcissist, in my experience, is the emptiness in their eyes. These are individuals who don’t know themselves, making it impossible for them to truly connect with anyone else. Empathy is literally impossible for them, and though they may appear majorly concerned for others, it’s not compassion that fuels them but self-interest.  

  9. They will say/do almost anything to project a certain image— appearance is everything to a narcissist. They are terrified of looking less than in the eyes of friends and colleagues. Oddly, they are happy to dump on close friends + family members. It’s the opinion of strangers that matters most to them.

    In case you’re freaked out and now wondering if you’re the awful narcissist you’ve been reading about, let me assure you: narcissism, like most disorders, exists on a spectrum. Meaning, you can exhibit narcissistic traits at times and still not be a clinical narcissist. It’s only cause for concern if you’re exhibiting most of these traits, most of the time.

    And hot tip: those who actually are narcissists usually have no problem being identified as such. Call it a symptom of the insanity.

    Point is, if you’re questioning and worrisome over your own status, chances are: you’re not a narcissist. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to learn. In fact, if you’re looking to find out more on the subject, I highly recommend the following resources:

YouTube: 

Lisa A. Romano, Breakthrough Life Coach Inc.

Books:

The Narcissist You Know by Joseph Burgo, PhD

Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Bebary

Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward

Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyn McBride

The Narcissistic Family: A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment by Stephanie Pressman

Why Is It Always About You?  The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss

Peace + whole lotta love,

Monica

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Mahi Mahi Tacos with Queso Fresco + Serrano Mayo

fishtacos

I know many people are all about the BBQ and grilled meats come May, but I’m partial to another summertime staple: fresh fish tacos! Don’t get me wrong, I eat them year round, switching out the fish based on what’s fresh, in season and affordable. But fish tacos are especially delicious eaten al fresco, or better yet, waterside. Sadly, these were consumed in my condo, but a girl can pretend, right?

In fact, that’s sort of how these tacos were born.

I’m obsessed with the idea of visiting Sayulito, Mexico— surfing, shopping and eating as many fish tacos as I can get my hands on. Until I can make that trip happen, I have these tacos.

 

Spicy Mahi Mahi Tacos with Queso Fresco
Print Recipe
Fresh fish tacos with crisp lettuce and queso fresco. An easy, fresh and affordable meal— perfect for weeknights and special occasions alike.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Servings Prep Time
2 people 10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Spicy Mahi Mahi Tacos with Queso Fresco
Print Recipe
Fresh fish tacos with crisp lettuce and queso fresco. An easy, fresh and affordable meal— perfect for weeknights and special occasions alike.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Servings Prep Time
2 people 10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
Fish Spice Blend
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Cut fish into four equal-sized filets.
  2. Mix chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, salt + pepper. Generously coat each side of thawed fish.
  3. Gently place fish in saute pan, heated over medium with a thin layer of high smoke point cooking oil, such as canola or grape seed oil. Cook fish 3-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, make mayo be combining {by hand or in food processor, mayo and minced serrano pepper}
  5. Let fish sit as you warm tortillas on stove top or in the oven.
  6. Top warm tortillas with serrano mayo, lettuce, fish, and crumbled queso fresco. Garnish with a squeeze of lime, if desired.
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The Beauty of Being Seen or Why You Should Smile at Strangers

About two months ago, my boyfriend and I got in a pretty big fight. In truth, I was fighting with myself {and he was the nearest punching bag}. After huffing and puffing down the road, I ended up at our local park— a place I often turn to for refuge in the middle of the week when my mind is busy and/or the condo noise becomes too much.

Only on this day, everyone else was at the park too. I quickly hightailed it past the pond and the bird aviary to the more secluded trail area. I didn’t think the moms with toddlers looking at ducks needed to see my tear-stained face.

Ok, I didn’t want to be seen. 

I just wanted to sit near the creek and the trees, still naked from winter, and just be by my miserable self. Except even the bugs weren’t content on leaving me be. I reluctantly arose after about 15 minutes and headed back toward civilization.

On the way back, I saw a boy with chubby fingers and sandy colored hair, squeezing his mom’s hand as they walked down the sloped trail access area. Though we were the only people within eyesight, I was going to walk by, blubbering head down and not acknowledge them.

I like to have space when I’m out with family, I reasoned. It’s not rude, it’s actually the polite, respectable thing to do. There’s too much artificial sentiment in our society.. and then suddenly, right there in the middle of my rationalizations, the sweetest, high pitched “hi” interrupted it all.

I gave an enthusiastic “hi” back and returned to my car, crying this time for the tenderness, the heartfelt acknowledgment I received from someone I don’t know and who probably can’t even tie his shoes yet.

Kids are powerful this way.

We don’t have to say a single word or be anyone other than ourselves to feel seen and heard by them. And there’s complete acceptance of what is. They are not judging or labeling us or trying to make us feel bad about our feelings.

They can just be with us because they don’t know anything different than the magic of this moment. They aren’t regretting yesterday’s choices or escaping into fear about tomorrow.

I aspire to practice this kind of presence in my life. I don’t think there’s anything better we can gift ourselves, or the world.

So the next time you’re in a hurry or caught in your own hamster wheel of a mind, look around, and extend the next person you see a sincere, deep, from-your-soul smile. It might just turn both your days around.

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Facebook Stalking, the Comparison Trap + 8 Other Things Not to Do If You Value Inner Peace

  1. Social media stalk. I happen to think Facebook is one massive social experiment gone wrong and a breeding ground for phoniness, self indulgence, and meme madness. But it’s also a necessary evil, an important business tool and a way to keep in touch with friends and family members we wouldn’t keep in touch with otherwise. But it should not be a place to investigate exes or that girl from the 8th grade who you haven’t spoken to in twenty years. I promise: nothing you find will change anything that happenedStep away from the screen and do something nice for someone.
  2. Fall into the comparison trap. This is a tough one, especially if you have a large social network and/or a history of codependency that leaves you hungry for external validation. There’s no quick fix here but limiting your time online and around other triggering people can help. Instead, spend time doing things that affirm your desires and passions. Your journey is precious precisely because it looks nothing like anyone else’s.
  3. Break your own boundaries. I’ve had to learn this one the painful way. Whether it’s a toxic family member or a work situation that you can’t keep your paws off, it’s helpful to understand your limits. For instance, if you know being around Aunt Susan for more than a couple hours makes you crazy, don’t stay for coffee and dessert! Sounds obvious but it’s easy to cave if you have a hard time saying noJust remember, you’re the one that has to live with the emotional aftermath.
  4. Excessively watch the news. Ok, I still do this one a lot, but I’m working on it. Yes, it’s important to be informed, to have a sense of what’s going on locally, as well as on a national and global level. And not just because it makes you a more enjoyable dinner guest. Having a grasp of politics and cultural events expands the mind and enriches your life, but watching the local news several times a day or being glued to your twitter feed will just make you feel bad.
  5. Be seduced by online personas. You may notice a theme emerging here. Look, I love social media as much as the next gal. It’s just that I also know how destructive it can be; the ways in which it becomes obsessive and sadistic in nature and before long, you’re an hour deep in your Instagram feed, wondering why your clothes, makeup and condo are no longer as great as you thought. Again, know your limits {I love to take at least 1-2 days off/week} and remember that your life—and worth—is not measured in likes.
  6. Spend time with people who give you the ick vibe. And by that, I mean, the people who activate that pit-in-the-stomach feeling, make your hair stand on end, or otherwise give you the creeps. One of the more important parts of trusting yourself is learning to listen to these feelings. Our body is constantly communicating truths our minds haven’t yet picked up on—don’t discount these divine signals.
  7. Try to change anyone but yourself. Just, don’t. You know the effort required to make even a small, sustained change in yourself? Well it’s ten times harder when you’re trying to force a change from the outside in. Not only will the other person resist and resent you but it won’t work. You’d be better off adjusting your perspective and then looking at what changes you may be delaying in your life.
  8. Run errands during rush hour. You know, unless it like can’t be avoided.
  9. Accept advice from people who aren’t living the kind of life you want to live. Think about it. Why would you let someone who’s never started their own business discourage you from doing so? In the same way that it’d be silly to solicit dating advice from someone who’s living a celibate life— there’s nothing wrong with the path they’ve chosen but if it’s completely foreign from your own— why seek guidance here? I’ve always found it most helpful to have a group of mentors, or various people I can consult based on the issue at hand. Options breed answers.
  10. Constantly question what’s coming next. There’s few things I know with crystal clear certainty. This is one of them: life is supposed to be lived with blind spots. If we always knew what was around the next turn, well, we might just turn around. But it also ruins the surprises. Instead, take each day and season as it comes and there’s nothing you can’t handle.
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curry

Root Vegetable Curry

Just because it’s Spring doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a good curry, soup or stew. Simply switch out the veggies according to season and you can’t enjoy these colorful, one pot dishes year round.

Isn’t that the real appeal anyhow? You can use whatever you have, throw it all into one pot and in less than an hour, you have the most scrumptious, soul-satisfying meal. It’s what Sundays are made for.

I especially love this one-pot dish because, not only is it entirely plant-based, gluten free and vegan, it’s so pretty to look at! The bright yellow and orange, courtesy of the curry and carrots, just screams spring.

And though it’s all veggies, it’s incredibly hearty. Between the starchy potatoes and creamy coconut milk, I promise you will not leave the table hungry.

And I just love how grounding + nutrient dense this soup is, seeing as it’s packed with 7 root vegetables: potato, carrot, parsnip, onion, garlic, turmeric, and ginger.

The great thing about root veggies is, because they grow underground, they absorb a ton of nutrients from the soil itself. They’re also full of good, energy sustaining carbs and fiber to keep you full.

But fear not, this dish is really all about the flavor.

I think it’s impossible to include curry powder or coconut milk into a meal and not have it be utterly transformed.

Speaking of, be sure to use the full fat coconut milk. I simply can’t think of any occasion in which the lite variety makes sense.

I also suggest using homemade stock, if at all possible. Simply save your veggie/herb scraps throughout the week, throw them into a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and then let simmer for at least an hour {I go two}, drain, and store in a container until needed. Voila!

Also, use whatever curry powder you like. I had Madras in the pantry so that’s what I used. Most yellow/orange curry powders should work well here. Also, if you don’t have one or two of the seasonings on hand, don’t fret. I was largely trying to intensify the curry powder ingredients, things like fennel, turmeric and ginger, rather than changing the overall flavor profile. You can always add a bit more curry powder if you don’t have some of the other ingredients. Just be sure to adjust moderately and taste as you go!

On that note, I always suggest adding salt + pepper as you go, seasoning each vegetable, and then adding more toward the end, if needed.

A good soup or stew is nothing if not a labor of love. Enjoy accordingly.

Root Vegetable Curry
Print Recipe
Servings
6 servings
Servings
6 servings
Root Vegetable Curry
Print Recipe
Servings
6 servings
Servings
6 servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Prepare lentils + stock in advance, if making your own.
  2. Heat large pot over medium-low heat. Add chopped onion + all the seasonings. Allow to saute for a few minutes before adding the garlic and veggies. Season with salt + pepper and mix well, allowing everything to cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add stock, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover, add the coconut milk and the lentils, stir well and allow to cook another 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat. The lentils will ultimately fall apart and serve to thicken the broth.
  5. Check seasonings one final time, remove from heat, garnish with parsley and serve!
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A Lesson in Pad Thai + Non-Attachment

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I continue to learn the most when I least expect it. I think spirit enjoys effortlessness. 

This past Saturday, my boyfriend and I accepted a last minute invitation from a friend to check out a local Songkran, or Thai New Year Festival. Unlike the Western calendar, the Thai/Buddhist calendar coincides with the astrological calendar, {which has always made infinitely more sense to me} and the new year is celebrated over a 3-day period after Aries rises, April 13-15, as a time of unity, purification and honoring both ancestors and elders.

The celebration I attended was held at the largest Buddhist temple here in Texas, a magnificent red, white and gold structure, filled with ornate Buddhas of various sizes and heaps of fresh flowers.

The festival was packed, having been going on all day by the time we arrived around 7pm. We met up with our friend and made our way to the food.

On the way, I spotted kids with super soakers on a playground {splashing water represents purity/renewal}, a beauty pageant contestant in a lime green dress and a long row of vendors, with people happily lined up for delicious items like mangos with coconut sticky rice + papaya salad.

My guy and I settled on fish cakes and sticky rice that we ate with our hands. We were later brought a huge portion of some of the most delicious pad thai I’ve ever had. I think it was even better on the couch at home, three hours later.

The secrets to amazing pad thai, I’ve learned, include fresh, thin rice noodles & a light hand when it comes to the brown sauce {instead of the reddish, oily American version}, and oddly, no lime to garnish.

But back to the festival.

Like many of the best conversations I’ve had, I’m not really sure how it began nor the way we arrived at the subject matter we did. 

But I ended up eagerly picking the brain of my friend’s younger brother, a trained monk and formed navy member, because yeah, that exists.

Maybe I should qualify my excitement. I’ve been fascinated with Buddhism ever since taking a random* college elective some twelve years ago.

It’s the first school of thought/way of life I have found that doesn’t push itself upon you. I love the grace with which buddhism entered my life and how it continues to lure me simply by being its beautiful self.

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

— Buddha
I’ve always felt that a spiritual life should be one that feels right; one that makes sense to you on an innate level, and one that you find out of your heart’s calling, rather than one that was simply handed down to you by your ancestors. 
I’ve also felt, since childhood, that you don’t have to do anything to “deserve” salvation and that there’s no ultimate savior, save yourself. Buddhism espouses these same ideas. 
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
— Buddha
It’s hard to use a spiritual system as a crutch when it asks for personal responsibility and mindfulness in every area of our lives. In Buddhism, you don’t get to go to church/temple once a week and act like an asshole the other 6 days of the week. Instead, you are asked to be rigorous in where you direct your attention, non judgmental and to practice loving kindness in your daily life. In fact, the Dali Lama is infamous for saying, “Kindness is my religion.” How beautiful is that?

And perhaps because there’s so much hypocrisy in religion today or maybe, simply, because I detest dishonesty, I admire the straightforwardness of The Four Noble Truths and the elegant simplicity of The Eightfold Path.

But my love of Buddhism aside, I’ve been struggling a lot lately. I’ve been grappling with control and the anger thats stems from not being in control and the fear/powerlessness that underlies that. And, I don’t fucking know.

Point is, I’ve been walking around with a clenched fist for a while now and a mountain of resistance. I can’t even meditate. 

Which is why I relished Saturday’s talk.

I was reminded that when we’re attached— whether it be in joy or sorrow— suffering is inevitable. 

Why? Because attachment is what brings suffering, not the emotion or experience itself.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

My anger? Not the problem. The indulging in it and scrutinizing it and assigning it an elaborate story line and attaching blame and ultimately, acting out on it— that’s the problem.

The point is not to overcome our anger, nor wallow in it. But to simply look at it. Be with it. 

The more we learn to engage our emotions, the less power they tend to hold over us. We realize it’s simply one small part of a never-ending stream of consciousness.

Why latch onto something so minuscule? 

I’m not encouraging you to discount your emotions—that would be blasphemous for an empath like myself— but I am reminding you to not become so attached to them.

Recovery, and life itself I would argue, is a process of integrating all aspects of our selves, and alienating yourself from your feelings is emotional suicide. 

But it’s mental masturbation to talk about your problems all the freakin’ time or to bitch about the crap you can’t change.

It would be far healthier to meditate or take a long walk, several deep breaths and remind ourselves: this isn’t forever and it isn’t fatal. 

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

The pain stems from not letting there be room for all of it: the dear friends + douche bags, the vibrant flower and the dirt it grows in.

Our soul knows no distinction because it came here to experience it all. So long as our heart is opening, we are doing the work we came here to do.

But you can be sure: if you’re feeling scared, small or otherwise constricted, that’s ego. It’s only a temporary construct of the mind but I know how real it can feel!

Just remember, on a non-cellular level, all is well. The soul is born knowing the grace of surrender, which is often nothing more than being able to say, this too, I allow.

So for any one else out there, walking around with a belly full of fear/anger/whatever, let me also remind you for the millionth time: this too shall pass. 

That’s the real beauty of any experience: it’s destined to change. We can’t escape the heartbreaking, beautiful impermanence.

We might as well forgive quickly, eat delicious pad thai and splash water on one another while we can.

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Roasted Veggies with Couscous + Green Goddess Pesto

I think I’ve made some version of roasted veggies and couscous something like a thousand times.

Why? Because it’s a super simple dinner that’s delicious with whatever veggies you happen to have lying around. And quick cook couscous couldn’t be simpler. If you have a stovetop, 10 minutes, and salt, you’re good to go.

I suggest using an organic, whole wheat variety, and a lot more veggies than couscous, to keep this dish on the lighter side.

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In this case, I let the season be my guide. I opted for golden beets, bell pepper and brussel sprouts. These happen to not only be three of my favorite vegetables but they form a beautiful spring color palette.

Remember, we indulge with our eyes first– why not eat the rainbow on a daily basis?

Often times, the only toppings I use on my couscous are fresh herbs, like parsley and basil, evoo and a little lemon juice. But again, because I’ve made this meal so many times, I decided to do something a little different this time.

Introducing, my green goddess pesto!

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It just so happened I had a lot of fresh herbs lying around last week and because I hate, hate, hate throwing away food, I decided to throw them in this pesto instead!

It contains a whopping 5 greens: parsley, basil, cilantro, green onion and a generous amount of spinach, which doesn’t add much in the way of taste but certainly bumps up the nutritional value of this pesto.

I should also mention it’s a nut and dairy free pesto, meaning, this whole colorful dish is not only organic but vegan as well. Don’t worry, it gets a ton of flavor from the fresh citrus + garlic.

And roasted veggies kind of take care of themselves, crisping up and caramelizing in the oven until they become something else entirely. I’m telling you, if you haven’t had roasted brussel sprouts, you haven’t lived.

As for the golden beets + bell pepper, they’re the perfect sweet meets bitter accompaniment. Asparagus would be another great option here. Or some fingerling potatoes or radishes. Use what you love and/or have lying around, I say.

This is one of those dishes where you can’t go wrong so let your imagination go wild.

Roasted Spring Veggies with Couscous + Green Goddess Pesto
Print Recipe
A colorful array of roasted spring veggies served atop a bed of fluffy couscous + green goddess pesto
Servings Prep Time
2 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Roasted Spring Veggies with Couscous + Green Goddess Pesto
Print Recipe
A colorful array of roasted spring veggies served atop a bed of fluffy couscous + green goddess pesto
Servings Prep Time
2 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Ingredients
Couscous
Veggies
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. I suggest making pesto in advance to cut down on cooking time. Either way, blend all ingredients in a high power blender/food processor,streaming olive oil in last and adding water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Set aside, but do not refrigerate unless making more than a couple hours in advance.
  2. Preheat oven to 410˚F for the veggies. I roast mine all at the same time because I like having some more well done than others but you can roast the brussies for about 10 minutes before adding the bell pepper and beets if you like. Coat all veggies lightly with oil + sprinkle with a generous amount of salt + pepper before spreading out on baking pan and roasting for about 20 minutes, or until they begin to brown around the edges. Let veggies rest on pan at least 3-5 minutes before plating.
  3. Cook couscous by bringing water to a boil + oil and about 1/4 tsp salt to a boil in a small saute pan. Mix in couscous, remove from heat and cover for at least 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and check seasonings before serving.
  4. Begin by plating a generous spoonful of the pesto. Top with couscous + roasted veggies. Finish with a final squeeze of lemon, if desired. Dig in!
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The Real Secret To Growing Up

If you’re lying and scheming and bending the truth to your liking,

If you’re unable to sit alone with yourself, no numbing and no distracting,

If you’re manipulative and passive agressive,

If you can’t say “I’m hurt” or “I’m sorry,”

If you think life is happening to you,

If you believe your suffering is special,

If you’re chronically skirting responsibilities, at home or in the workplace,

If you refuse to be of service, in some way, for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do,

If your ego’s too big for you to ask for help,

If you’re waiting to be rescued,

If you’re still plagued by jealousy and petty resentments,

If you’re constantly throwing yourself a pity party,

If you’re withholding affection,

If you’re more concerned with appearances than authenticity,

If you’re an asshole in traffic,

If you’re faking intimacy and feigning vulnerability,

If you call people names,

If you judge others mercilessly,

If you can’t stand your job and have no plans to leave,

If you try to control those you love,

If you’re unwilling to accept your fellow man, whatever his skin color, religion, income, country of origin, or sexual orientation,

If you’re harboring hatred or inflicting violence,

If you’re not actively trying to do your teensy part to make this planet a better place,

Don’t call what you do adulthood. 

“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”

— Maya Angelou

I love, love, love this quote. It sums up whats wrong with our society. Too many people graduate, get married, have kids and think they’re grown up. But they don’t ever really stop to look at themselves, to do the real work of getting intimate with their deepest wounds. And honoring the desires of their true selves. The healing work. The work our souls are here to do.

Naturally, these same individuals are tired, restless, unsure of themselves and aching for something more.

The answer is always more awareness. Followed by love. And still more awareness. There’s no magical arriving point, but at least when you’re pursuing emotional wholeness, instead of simply keeping up with the jones’s, you’ll begin to know real happiness.

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IMG_7301

DIY Turmeric + Coconut Oil Toothpaste

A few years’ back, I began to get disciplined about ridding my home— and more and more, my personal care items— of any and all toxic chemicals. Things like DEA, sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and artificial colors + fragrances are no longer welcome in my life.

And when  it comes to toothpaste, I’m all the more rigorous. I can’t stand fluoride in any capacity, but I also don’t want to see glycerin or hydrated silica, things you’ll commonly find even in “natural” toothpastes.

It’s not to say you can’t trust anything in stores. I personally love Desert Essence toothpastes, particularly the Tea Tree Oil and Neem variety. Speaking of neem, I also regularly use Theraneem Neem Tooth & Gum Powder. It contains probiotics + vitamin D and I’ve found it’s great for keeping gingivitis at bay.

But the oral care product I’m loving most right now?

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My 3-ingredient DIY toothpaste with baking soda, coconut oil and turmeric powder.

I use to make a similar one, only it contained peppermint essential oil and no turmeric. And I supposed you could use the peppermint oil in this one if you like,  but I don’t think it’s necessary.

I actually prefer the natural coconut taste {and surprisingly, the turmeric doesn’t add much in the way of taste, just color!} Your sink will wash away clean but I can’t promise the same for your toothbrush.

Now, I imagine you’re familiar with the benefits of coconut oil but why put turmeric in your toothpaste?

IMG_7291

Well, for a lot of the same reasons you drink it in a tea or sprinkle it in your curry.  Not only is it a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it may even help heal cavities and prevent oral cancer.

I’ll rinse yellow for that!

Here’s what else it may offer you: whiter teeth, better breath, reduced tarter + plaque, decreased gum inflammation/bleeding and associated pain.

That’s a whole lot of health benefits in one unassuming little spice! I only hope I’ve convinced you to try it in your toothpaste— your pearly whites will thank you for it.

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Ingredients:
— 1/2 organic virgin coconut oil
— 3 Tbsp baking soda
— 1 tsp organic turmeric
Directions:
Mix ingredients in a small, airtight jar, such as a mini mason jar, and use as desired. Refill as needed. Rinse brush thoroughly after use. And again, exercise caution around towels and any porous surface; turmeric is a wonderful ingredient but it will stain!
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IMG_7129

Chocolate Maca Superfood Smoothie

I have no idea why it took me so long to put chocolate in my smoothie. Well, cacao to be exact. Cacao is the bean-like seed that produces cocoa + chocolate. In its raw form, it has an abundance of health benefits, from helping lower blood pressure to boosting one’s mood. Cacao is also a potent antioxidant + contains essential minerals like magnesium, iron and potassium.

Translation? Better skin, healthier cells and increased nervous system health, to name a few.

Maca, a peruvian superfood prized for centuries for its natural healing power, has many similar benefits. Along with being mineral rich and a known mood booster; maca also helps enhance energy levels + sexual function.

In fact, many natural health practitioners recommend it for menstrual pain, low libido and a host of other women’s health issues.

Along with the cacao and maca, I had to include my other favorite everyday superfoods, coconut oil + chia seeds. You can use hemp seeds if you prefer. Or leave the seeds out altogether.

Feel free to sub in the nut milk of your choice, too. Coconut water works just as well, though you won’t have the same level of creaminess. And if you aren’t in the habit of chopping + freezing your overripe bananas {something I strongly suggest}, you could use a regular one and just chill your smoothie for a few before drinking.

Cheers to treating ourselves, healthy chocolate required!

Chocolate Maca Superfood Smoothie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 smoothie 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 smoothie 5 minutes
Chocolate Maca Superfood Smoothie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 smoothie 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 smoothie 5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: smoothie
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth and enjoy!
Share this Recipe

11 Inspirational Quotes that Celebrate Everyday Girl Power

woman

I love International Women’s Day because for at least one day, women are celebrated for the earth altering, heart molding, immensely powerful, loving, creative beings that we are all the freakin’ time.

As for the rest of the year, we have some work to do. Yes, equal pay, paid maternity leave and reproductive rights, I’m talking ’bout you.

And that’s just here in America. Girls and women around the world, particularly in the middle East and Southeast Asia, have even larger barriers to mount.

Even still, I’m proud of the progress being made and I remain tremendously grateful for all those bold women who have come before. The women who were brave enough to speak out before social media gave everyone an outlet, fighting to secure the rights I sometimes take for granted today.

I also want to honor the gals throughout the world simply showing up for their lives on the daily— creating businesses, running boardrooms and families alike, spreading love, light and wisdom the way only the enlightened woman can…

Today I celebrate the profound lives and lessons of 11 ladies, past and present, who continue to influence me most.

Oh and Happy International Women’s Day! I ♥ and appreciate you all!

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

— Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

— Maya Angelou

“When I’m trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.”

— Shakti Gawain, Living in the Light

“When a woman rises up in glory, her energy is magnetic and her sense of possibility contagious.”

— Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth

“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

— Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

“I tell you this true story just to prove that I can. That my frailty has not yet reached a point at which I can no longer tell a true story.”

— Joan Didion, Blue Nights

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

— Mother Theresa

“Each moment of each day in our lives is a valuable turning point—an important part of our spiritual growth, an important scene in the movie of our lives. Each feeling is important: boredom, fear, hate, love, despair, excitement. Each action we take has value: an act of love, an act of healing. Each word we speak, each word we hear, each scene we allow ourselves to see, and each scenario we participate in changes us. Trust and value each moment of your life. Let it be important. It is a turning point. It is a spiritual experience.”

— Melodie Beattie, Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than depression and I am braver than loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”

— Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“Act, and God will act.”

— Joan of Arc

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blogimage

30 Life Lessons I’m Grateful I Learned by Age 30

Ok, immediate confession: I’m actually 31. But these are the lessons that most informed my first 30 years {and continue to guide me today}.
You may see a theme surrounding self love. That’s because it’s the magic that makes everything else work.
I’ve also learned about my nature as a spiritual being, two words that didn’t mean anything to me less than seven years ago. But I was also a raging alcoholic thenLuckily, our external circumstances change in accordance with our level of awareness + the inner work we do. 
Getting sober was just the beginning. My life really began to change when I came to see myself as a powerful co-creator; not a victim of circumstance or even my own self-sabotage but the chief molder of my world. I came to understand how my beliefs were contributing to my daily reality, my daily misery. More important, I began to get cozy with the feelings underlying those beliefs. 

I’m not smart enough, capable enough, pretty enough… fill in the blank.

It’s not safe to feel this way. I’m not allowed to hurt.

I don’t deserve to be heard. I’m not worthy of healthy relationships. 

I guess that’s why I continue to examine my thinking today + make lists like this. It’s both a process of influencing change and understand where I’m at, because I know better than most: the journey from head to heart can be a treacherous one.
So darlings, make your own list, learn from mine and don’t beat yourself up if it takes some time between knowing what needs doing and having the strength to do it. There are no short-cuts on the road to self love. You’ve gotta do the beautiful messy work.
And if we can learn a bit from one another along the way, well, that’s the makings of real wisdom.
  1. Heartbreak happens to break us wide open and allow more love into our lives, namely our own.

  2. Addiction arises out of an inability to safely feel and express our emotions. Sobriety requires us, above all, that we begin to listen to, trust and ultimately, love ourselves.

  3. If we’re disconnected from ourselves, we will be disconnected from our environment too. But return to nature and you begin to get back to yourself.

  4. It’s only in exploring our shadows that we begin to see our ineffable light.

  5. Comparing yourself to others and seeking approval outside one’s self is not only pointless; it can be terribly depressing.

  6. Happiness is hard work and it happens outside our comfort zone.

  7. There are no accidents and no experience is wasted. Not one.

  8. We are all infinitely powerful creators and it’s only our limited beliefs that hold us back.

  9. A safe, loving and supportive community is crucial to our long-term well-being.

  10. There’s nothing to get about GOD and no right way to pray.

  11. Our heart-centered presence is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and those we love.

  12. Pain is the most poignant teacher, so long as we’re open to the lesson.

  13. There’s no such thing as perfect and we have only our own standards to meet.

  14. You can’t eat crap food and feel good.

  15. Getting up early is overrated. Savor every moment of rest you can, while you can!

  16. The ability to laugh at yourself will save your ass on numerous occasions.

  17. Real love— the messy, vulnerable, honest, complicated variety— requires we get intimate with and love ourselves first.

  18. Praying for patience only brings endless irritation. Proceed with caution.

  19. Sometimes the best thing we can do is absolutely nothing.

  20. Gratitude is the greatest reset.

  21. Meditation is not just about sitting crossed leg with our eyes shut. It’s any activity we wholeheartedly commit to with complete presence and singleness of focus.

  22. Religion does not denote spirituality just as a spiritual life doesn’t need to be lived under the guise of religion. Or even a god.

  23. Peace begins when we start listening to ourselves without judgment.

  24. It’s only when get in touch with our most tender selves that we can access the fullness of who we are, our precious divinity.

  25. You don’t have to do anything. You always, always have a choice and the right to change your mind.

  26. Travel is the best drug.

  27. Good sex is a close second.

  28. Mother earth is the ultimate healer.

  29. Free thinkers are infinitely more interesting to be around… not to mention sexy.

  30. Destruction is vital to the creative process. And it’s always hardest right before the breakthrough.

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surrenderimage

Necessary Surrender or What Losing A Year’s Worth of Work Has Taught Me About Acceptance

Is if just me or is surrender often portrayed as a beautiful, almost poetic process? There’s images of still water and fluffy clouds and serene, smiling faces.
I call bullshit.
While surrender, and its counterpart, acceptance, is certainly necessary for this peaceful portrait, what you don’t see is everything that led up to it— the unshakeable pain that set the whole process into motion.
The illness. Addiction. Job loss. Break-up. Or, in this case, the eradication of 63 blog posts.
See, I’m not exactly what you call tech savvy, or even someone who practices common sense, it seems. I saved a mere two blog posts and zero recipes I wrote and published on my blog between Feb 2015 and Feb 2016. Thus, when my domain expired last month, all my files went buh-bye too.
So, please, precious readers and fellow creatives, always back up your work!
Oddly enough, I haven’t been too fazed by the whole thing. I guess I know on some level it needed to happen, and I’ve  just busied myself building anew {and better than before}!
But I’m also reminded how much better I am at accepting the big stuff and how pitifully I deal with what I call the daily gnats— constant traffic and excessive noise at my condo and my boyfriend not loading the dishwasher right.
Sounds silly, but this is the stuff that really gets under my skin. I guess it’s easier to let go of the stuff I know I can’t change. You know, death and taxes, or necessary surrender stuff.
And the rest of it? Well, in voicing my frustration, I’m actually moving toward solution.
Here’s a little secret: reclaiming our power is often seen as bitching. 
When I bemoan the traffic, I’m also reminding myself: you don’t have to live like this. You can move to a smaller town instead of living a mere mile away from the most heavily travelled highway in the country!
Same goes with the noise factor. It’s a reminder that condo living no longer works for me. And it helps me determine the kind of home I do want— a cozy cottage in the woods or near the water with no neighbors, please!
As for the dishes, well, that’s probably something I should let go.
Which brings me to my next point: it’s crucial to understand what we can change and what we can’t. Or we may just drive ourselves bonkers.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer
I find that last part— the wisdom to know the difference— gets easier the more we practice deep listening.
Our job is to never ignore or discount the signs.
Those of us on the spiritual path understand: when the student is ready, the teacher appears. And the more we seek, the more we see, the teacher is everywhere.

Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath.

Every moment is the guru.

Charlotte Joko Beck
It can be annoying truth to swallow, but absolutely nothing on this earth happens by accident. It’s all deliberate and it’s all for our greater good.
So yes, even as I gripe about my living situation, I know, it’s also teaching me about patience, sacrifice and delayed gratification.
In other words, it’s not happening to torture me but to stretch the bounds of who I am. Same goes for all the annoying shit in your life.
Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.

Jackson Kiddard

Life is a dance between acceptance and empowered action,asking that we change what we can and relinquish the rest, so we may step into our greatest selves.
And that’s really what it’s about. We’re not being dealt a mean blow by the guy upstairs {punishing gods are so yesterday} and it’s not bad karma. Okay, sometime it is.
But mostly it’s just life— doing what life does. We’re not supposed to understand why five years olds get cancer or like the fact that Donald Trump may be our next president. Shit happens. And, ultimately, we only have control over our own attitude and actions. But you know what? That’s a whole heck of a lot. I’ find, however crappy I feel, a smile goes a long way. Whether given or received, a kind gesture can completely change your day.
Of course, other times, it will be harder. 
We will find ourselves fighting with the idea of change—resisting the present and not yet ready for the future. 
This is where the clenched fists and the claw marks arise.
It’s how I felt right before I quit drinking and ending a toxic relationship and in the precipice of every important decision I’ve ever made to better myself. 
I was on that proverbial edge, acutely aware that one way of life had to die before another could be born.
And that’s how it works, every damn time.
Unfortunately, the greater our need to surrender something, the trickier it tends to be.
Our ego will fight to hold on even as our spirit knows we must let go. We may find ourselves lying and rationalizing and explaining away our agony, even as we choose it again.
Yes, the mind can be dangerous place, but our bodies can be our greatest allies here. 
The signs that we need to surrender something {or someone} become increasingly obvious with time. And the more we try to ignore or suppress them, the more flagrant they become, until we reach a point where the denial is just too painful to stomach.
Our solar plexus literally cries out to us in hunger pangs and waves of nausea.
Or we may develop chronic pain. A new addiction. Whatever it is, it’s ultimately a cry for our own loving attention.
Remember babes: the body always knows.
We can heed the message early or we can suffer needlessly, the choice is ours.
I’ve done both.
These days, I try to surrender, or relinquish control, bit by bit, when it becomes clear I’ve outgrown whatever it is.
And have no doubt— this is an absolutely necessary and natural process.
All of life is change. Progress. Evolution. The expansion of our souls.
Surrender is the force that makes it all possible. The beast that keeps the wheels churning.
We might as well get cozy with it. Even if it means starting from scratch, again.
I’m curious, how do you handle acceptance/surrender? What have you learned?
Let me know in the comments below! 
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frenchtoast

Ciabatta French Toast with Blueberries, Almonds and Blue Agave

When I think back to childhood comfort foods, french toast always makes the list. I remember staying at my grandmother’s over the summer and her making everyone the breakfast of their choice.

Most days it was sunny side up eggs but every so often, she made french toast. I never got out of bed so quick as I did these days.

And I’ve never been a morning person.

But there’s something about that intoxicating swirl of scents— cinnamon and vanilla with butter and crisp toast— it gets me every time.

So it’s no wonder that when it came to making a v-day breakfast for my babe, french toast immediately came to mind.

vdayblooms

The best part?

I already had all the ingredients, minus the heart cookie cutter, and I found that my local Kroger for sixty cents.

Hey, just because it’s a holiday breakfast doesn’t mean it needs to cost me a bunch. Even the blooms only set me back 4 bucks and they’re still going strong more than a week later!

My point?

A luxurious, heartfelt breakfast at home is something we can all appreciate. Holiday or not.

vdaybrunch

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf day old ciabatta bread
  • 2 farm fresh eggs
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice or cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • powdered sugar to garnish
  • slivered almonds to garnish
  • fresh blueberries to garnish
  • organic blue agave to garnish

 

Directions:

  1. Using a basic, heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 8 hearts from the ciabatta loaf. Slice first, of course.
  2. Mix eggs, heavy cream, spice, vanilla and a pinch of salt in a shallow baking dish.
  3. Briefly soak bread pieces on each side before cooking on buttered pan/griddle on medium heat, in batches of four.
  4. Flip after a few minutes to ensure even browning, pressing down gently with spatula to make sure they’re cooked through.
  5. Plate and top with powdered sugar, blueberries, almonds and agave syrup, to taste. Enjoy, sweets ♥
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