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Alternatives authenticity Featured Gender Dysphoria Inspired Love meditation mental health Non-Binary Transitions

Do I Fit-In to the Transgender Community?

I have asked myself this question again and again. Early in my journey into gender exploration, I lived in Baltimore, MD where I first visited transgender support groups. In my short-lived visits among the communities, I felt I didn’t fit in, because I didn’t want to get surgery or take hormones. My entire life I felt like I could not engage with our western medical model of pills, surgeries and managing symptoms. Something inside me was very clear that this was not for me. I don’t and won’t take medications. Instead, I have learned about herbal medicine and natural methods to healing. If I get a headache, I take skullcap, drink water or vinegar or close my eyes and breathe deep. I am attracted to natural cures, alternative medicine, and vibrational healing. It’s as much who I am as my gender identity.

I found myself staring into the eyes of Ian Harvie at the Central Pennsylvania Keystone Conference. I was presenting on GenderQueer and as I began to speak about my experience of accepting that I was born into a ‘female’ body and choosing to not change it, does that still make me transgender? Ian looked at me, Man to Man, and validated me. Reassuring me that I was as much part of the transgender community as I wanted to be and that my transgender experience was as real as his surgeries. I didn’t even know who Ian Harvie was until I looked him up because I had a free ticket to his show as part of my payment for presenting. It wasn’t because he was a well known trans man but because after hearing his jokes I knew for sure he had surgeries and synthetic hormones. He was the “REAL THING” in my mind and his validation pushed me further onto my path to transition naturally. I had recently begun to engage in daily meditation and yoga practices to convince my mind that I was a man.

Gender Dysphoria takes me for a ride, too. I would spend my two days off in my garden, starting the day with deep meditation and vision of my ‘male’ body. Feeling my flat chest, my large upper body, my penis and testicles between my legs and knowing in my mind that I was male. I would include this vision in my play, as a drag king. I love to dance and perform, and drag won my heart. I would spend my days knowing and walking in what I knew to be a ‘male’ body. When I looked in the mirror it was often disturbing because it did not match my vision of myself. So I often didn’t look in the mirror unless I was practicing drag. I did this daily practice for over a year and eventually, my body began to listen and I began perimenopause.

The journey in menopause has been real, hormones have a way of making one sick in all ways. Emotionally, of course, we can find ourselves sideways and this can lead to issues with our thoughts and beliefs. I didn’t realize that perimenopause had begun until a relationship ended, life changed quickly, and my life began to look like mine. I had also spent that time, when I was focusing on my ‘male’ body, on clearing trauma and finding my authentic self. So when I changed my resonance, the vibration I was attracting, my life changed very quickly and my dreams began to manifest. Life was awesome yet now my body was changing and I was having ‘hot flashes’ – It was my time to dive deep into this whole women’s journey thing. Early yes, although feeling overwhelmed, I dove deep into menopause. Reading and learning all I could from wise women who spoke about their journey I found myself awakening to the realization that I had fully experienced life as a woman and now I was entering full androgyne. Truly, physical androgyne. When I understood what wise women have been saying about menopause for years I began to truly comprehend my change. Apparently, some people going through menopause struggle with losing their ‘womanhood’. I was not having this struggle and I was eager to get through, naturally and fully. I comprehend that it could take years and still I vision my male body. All the things I do, I see myself with a male body. There are times I truly think top surgery would be an option but at this time it is not on my priority list.

When I do look in the mirror now and see my ‘female’ body I know that my experience as a ‘female’ has ended. Now I realize that it was only the first part of my path, only my first step in truly understanding androgyne. Now as I see myself ‘male’ and know that I am ‘male’ I am often less bothered by misgendering. On my better days misgendering leads me to feel sorry for the one that just misgendered me, they haven’t comprehended the fullness of my gender. They are only seeing my physical body and this leads me to believe they only see my body, it’s clear the rest of me is male. They are unable to fully comprehend my gender identity. My gender identity is BECAUSE of my experience of being born into this body. My birth into this body has awakened a Divine Androgyne that is clearly both male and female, and if someone misses that, they don’t see me. It’s okay if people don’t see me, I accept that not all people need to see me. This understanding has to lead me to pay close attention to those that DO see me. The ones that do see my masculine, my maleness, my full gender spectrum, my both, my divine androgyne – those are the people that I want in my inner circle. These are the people I trust, these are the people I call friends. Of course, friends misgender me, but rarely, and when they do they follow it up with the opposite. So if someone calls me a ‘she’ by accident, they will soon call me ‘he’ several times, and then return to ‘they’.

I explain to my friends and people that inquire, that when I hear myself as a ‘she’ it hurts, like punching me in the gut. When I hear ‘he’ it feels like a hug, a pat on the back or a kiss. When I hear ‘they’ it feels right, it feels like I belong. In this, they know that using ‘he’ for me can kind of ‘make up’ for the accidental ‘she’ without having to have a long ‘sorry for misgendering you, geeze I thought I had it.’ conversation. So instead of feeling like a burden because I ask all my friends to change their language to accommodate me, it helps me feel loved and respected, which is a basic human need. I have noticed that if a friend and I are hanging out with someone that misgenders me a lot, it pushes them out of their habit and back into misgender language. When my friend applies this tactic they are better able to keep it balanced, it reminds the person that is misgendering me and my friend serves as the perfect ally. I am constantly expressing gratitude for anyone that does this for me as it shows true love and respect for me, and shows they see me on a much deeper level.

I feel that transformation is a lifelong process and I love my natural approach to my gender experience. Yet, there are times that when I reach out to the transgender community they judge me. They judge me because I didn’t take the hormones because I didn’t have the surgery. It hurts, it hurts when your own people see you as other. I have had to really process this hurt and I turned to Brene’ Brown for some guidance. I had received some public shaming in a Facebook group and had spent too much time taking it all in. First, many of them weren’t ‘in the arena’ as Brene would say. It meant they weren’t writers or bloggers, yet I was, and their feedback doesn’t matter because they weren’t in the arena. Second thing that really changed the experience for me was her study about fitting-in vs. belonging. She talked about how there was a clear difference between the two and how trying to ‘fit-in’ only took us away from our authentic selves. My spiritual path, my reason for being alive is to be authenticly me and for me that means no hormones and no surgeries. Yet now my body is changing, naturally, and would anyone deny me my right to claim that I am a trans man? Occasionally, it does still happen but I must remember that regardless of someone else’s opinion, my experience is still valid. It is clear that I don’t ‘fit-in’ to the transgender community but I certainly belong!

Those of us that don’t ‘fit-in’ we serve a very important role in the evolution of the human race. We go against the status quo and in that we help reinforce the most important things of all, we are all important, we are all connected and we all need love. I believe that people that push gender boundaries, regardless of how, are here to serve as a Divine Androgyne. This means that as long as they embrace their most authentic self, they will change the world to more fully understand the concept of gender. Humans will evolve out of gender eventually, we don’t need it anymore. For some people, this concept is scary. For me, it is a concept I see as obvious. We are moving away from separate, we are erasing the lines that separate us. Gender deconstruction is a large piece of what separates us, and we know it. Divine Androgynes, regardless of how it shows up for them or what they decide to do with the experience, are here to help us have a deeper understanding of how it separates us and how to move past it, beyond gender. I am not sure if I will ever see the end to gender, but I know that I am alive and I am to be part of the revolution. I belong in the transgender community, even if I do challenge the status quo.

 

 

 

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Alternatives Featured Healthy Holistic Inspired Love meditation Non-Binary ReWiring Your Brain

Divine Authenticity?!

As a gender variant person, a gender non-conforming person, a person that doesn’t identify with either side of the gender binary I have found that authenticity is at my center. When a person like me is faced with such a huge opposition to societial norms we are forced to face our own authenticity. When we don’t we find ourselves depressed, mentally ill, and overall disconnected from ourselves and the world. Many of us will try to fill those roles expected of us as whatever we were assigned at birth but for most of us, that means ignoring or giving up a big part of ourselves. As we come out of the closet and learn to embrace this authentic gender expression we are faced with personal shame, societal rejection, invisibility, and an overall feeling of being an outcast. We search for others like us… and in our tribe we discover there is an entire authentic person beneath that gender-nonconforming expression. Yes, we are gender-nonconforming but we are so much more as well.

I personally still struggle with staying authentic and have found all sorts of things that keep us away from our authenticity. All that is expected of us as children and projected on us from our parents is usually the first layer to be removed. Many of us naturally do this in puberty and young adulthood. Then as we mature we learn there is more to us than the role we play, that if we work to stay within our role we will actually deny ourselves that. As a mother and wife I found myself lacking expression of my divine masculine and found that when I began to explore it, just that act of masculine explorations was enough to push me to change my personal expressions. I soon divorced my husband and thought that by being with a woman it would be easier to express my divine masculine. Although I actually learned that my divine masculine was not just wrapped around my romantic and sexual desires and instead it included even more. Exploring the concepts of gender where not just simply romantic and sexual, nature shows us they actually include much more than that. As I personally began to unfold my own beliefs and concepts around gender I was faced with a deeper understanding of the human race as a whole.

In my exploration I discovered authenticity, I happened upon it in my unraveling and in my awakening. At first I thought, “Hollis you are very different than other people, a different perspective and a different way of being. You are an outcast.” This was no different than how I felt when I played gender roles, how could this be? No, I didn’t play gender roles and instead tried to express myself as real as possible. I began setting boundaries, speaking my truth, and dressing how it suited me that day. People had to leave my life because my boundaries or truth speaking was just ‘too much’ for them. I began to listen to other people’s boundaries and even helping them set them when they didn’t understand why they were so upset.  In that support for other people’s boundaries, I began to understand authenticity even deeper. Some people that we think are authentic or ‘being themselves’ are often acting out of an insecurity wound, therefore still not authentic. In helping others define, speak and find their boundaries and truth I found that my own personal insecurity wound began to unravel, because now I had an understanding that almost everyone struggles with authenticity in our culture. Most cultures do not support an authentic expression, they may say they do but we all know that when we challenge the status quo we are faced with rejection, distrust, and even possibly endanger ourselves and those around us. Many cultures, certainly American, deeply suffer from narcissism and codependency – (mentally illnesses that depend on each other to exist) which keeps us all from our authentic path.

When we are on our authentic path we know it because we call it ‘bliss’. In the Fire Circle community after 3 nights of all-night fires people can finally feel free to be ‘themselves’ and in this expression, they call it ‘bliss’. Its when we feel loved for who we are, not what role we play. In every authentic expression I have ever met there is a deep need for authentic connection, a need to be respected and loved for who you are, naturally.  Authenticity is completely unique for each and every one of else and in that, we are a rainbow of people.

In my book Divine Androgyne – A Sacred Path for Gender Variant People I help detail out steps to unravel what keeps you from your most authentic self. Everything from childhood trauma, gender roles, peer pressure, and a lack of our connection to nature and divinity can keep us from our authentic self. Many of us learn, especially in the Fire Circle, spiritual & psychic community, and pagan community, that in our authentic selves we can be celebrated more deeply. We can feel more accepted, seen and loved in communities with authentic leaders that also work to express authentically. Authenticity is when we take time to connect with the divine to understand all our parts, even our shadows. When we learn to embrace our shadows, know our quirks, and share our light we find a deep fulfillment deep inside. We are all created completely unique and each one of us has a unique experience of life, we are all spiritual beings with unique gifts to share with the world. We all have connections to the ‘other side’ and ‘divinity’ and are capable of helping others in our communities.

When a leader in a group is insecure and acts on that insecurity we find things like narcissism and sociopathy. The divine has gifted us the experience of awakening to these sick ways. The old leadership styles that include things like control and dominance, lead to those around these old leaders to act on THEIR insecurity in ways we call ‘co-dependance’. Some of us play one role more than the other, while some of us work to bow out of this game. These groups can evolve into cults and have formed our culture for years, now Americans are known narcissists. We even talk about how we have entire generations of narcissists. Today many people are awakening to these old ways of leadership and finally stepping forward to call people out on them. The #MeTOO movement, the unraveling of long-time cults, the dwindling popularity of being part of those groups, the gender and sexuality revolution, and the general mental health unraveling is becoming more evident every day. This is our evolution, humans are finally saying ENOUGH! We will evolve away from these old ways of being. As we shed our codependent and narcissistic ways we will begin to step into true authenticity and the communities able to embrace said authenticity will rise from their grassroots!

We can know a truly authentic person when some very important vibrations are present such as vulnerability, can the person show their most vulnerable state? Have you sensed that this person is sharing something or doing something that creates vulnerability for them? Vulnerability is different for most of us. Have you witnessed a true and deep apology, that’s a good way to know if someone can be vulnerable. We all have different boundaries and needs, a gender variant person might find themselves having to ask people for gender pronouns that are appropriate and in this act, we ‘out ourselves’ as transgender and can receive a target upon that act. We know it, too, that’s why we don’t always ask. Not just a target of crazy violent people but also those that refuse our gender pronouns, that say its too much for them or that we are just creating trouble in asking for this pronoun thing. Although there is also great reward in the opening to vulnerability, when we do ask we are likely to find allies that are willing to stand up for us. When we share the risk of being transgender with our allies we can find connection and support, the ultimate in life rewards. We find our boundaries and begin to draw them, even just one at a time is better than ignoring that upset feeling in your gut when someone calls you by the wrong pronoun. Most of us have different boundaries like about giving gratitude, who wants to keep giving to someone that never says Thank you or recognizes our gifts? We all have boundaries and when we are brave enough to define them we will find ourselves even more confident than before when we were hiding our vulnerability and ‘not saying anything’ or ‘being nice’ about boundary-crossing. SPEAK UP, we NEED YOU TO SPEAK UP! When we act from our own integrity, when we respond to emotions rather than react we find that our response is more in line with our true authentic self. We have all reacted to something and regretted it later, yet on the other emotionally triggering moments we have been able to process the emotion, realize the impact of our reaction and then craft a more aligned response. When we respond to emotional situations we can find that we are acting in our most authentic of integrity. When we hold our integrity as real, necessary and as our personal guide we feel more secure, confident and authentic. In that walk we are authentic and when we can walk this way in the world our lives will speak our authentic messages. Each of us have authentic messages for the world.

We each have our own experience and journey ahead of us and the divine intended for each one of us to walk an authentic path that will not only inspire others but manifest things that will heal the world at large. You will know when you are expressing authentically because you feel like an authentic magickal creature spreading their wings with a deep sense of security, depth, and confidence. Go where people will celebrate your authenticity and more of you will unfold for the world, and suddenly you will begin to feel like the wealthiest person alive and your bank account will have little to do with it. You will know because you will feel secure, you will feel loved, and you will feel free. We must offer our light to the world, humanity is relying on it, nature is relying on it, the planet earth needs us NOW. Find your authentic path and walk it with confidence & strength, just because it’s authentic doesn’t mean its easy. Only YOU know your most authentic self, show us so we can celebrate YOUR part of the rainbow!

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Alternatives Healthy Holistic Inspired Permanent Change Yoga

Clearing the Clouds

“I don’t meditate because I can’t stop thinking!” This is such a hilarious excuse that it tells me the person hasn’t really done their research. This is so funny to me when people say it for one very critical reason, meditation is the practice of clearing our thoughts.  One of my favorite teachers, Pema Chodron, teaches with a visual aid of clouds which happens to work perfectly for many of us.

When you begin to meditate imagine a clear blue sky and each time a thought enters the brain simply visit it, for just a moment, then let is float away. When I meditate I like to have a pen and paper beside me because inevitably I have forgotten to do something and want to remember to do it. The easiest way for me to let that cloud go is to write it down. The other thoughts I get are a constant banter of what I might have done wrong or what might go wrong. I also analyze what I have said and then criticize myself to a point that is not helpful or productive. I tend towards perfectionism and often will expect nothing less of myself. As a result I am often beating myself up. This behavior is not productive although at times it can be my drive. Many of us have a double edged sword like this.

When people say to me that we can be our own worst enemy I know exactly what they are talking about. Simply, my self analyzation and criticism is often incredibly loud and I work hard to keep it down. This ends up creating a sensitivity to criticism because I am often in the defensive mode. If I believe I am to blame for something I will twist the knife in my soul deeper than anyone else is capable. I am capable of truly hurting myself. In the past I have used this same behavior pattern to cut myself as well as suicidal tendencies. My battle scars are enough to remind me that if I let this go on too long I could end up there. I must tell myself something different otherwise my thoughts and mind will take over my life.

Today, I practice meditation and in that I used Pema Chodron’s advice. I image a clear sky and usually a cloud would appear. Today I visit it a little bit and then often with my breathe I blow it away. In my visualization, I put words or symbols on the clouds to represent the thought. I simply breathe it in, look at it, feel it, and then blow it away. Make sure you feel it, otherwise your just suppressing your feelings. I learned that suppressing the feelings todays means explosions tomorrow. Instead, allow yourself to feel the pain, frustration, anger, or sadness – then simply blow it away. I will have cloud after cloud come in and if I don’t stay on top of it I find myself lost in thought rather than concentrating on the clear blue sky.  Quickly a cloudy sky becomes a storm of depression. I know that I must return to meditation. There is no perfection in this. This is why its a practice! I simply breathe in deep and blow all the clouds away so that I can once again have a clear blue sky.

Over time things change and circumstances change. Different issues will arrive and when I begin to have second thoughts, self criticism, or worries I simply feel them and let them go. Usually I like to blow them away with a big breathe, leaving me to feel like I have room for the good stuff in me. Even when I am not in meditation and something enters my brain I chew on it a bit and then simply blow it away. The practice becomes easier in time and the clearing of the brain becomes an essential way to exist in this world.

One of my favorite places to clear my mind is deep in the forest. I love to be way up high or beside moving water. I like it to have as little human interference as possible. The more natural and remote the deeper I can go in my mind clearing. I love to practice as deep into wilderness I can find. In urban spaces I have found that walking up to a big tree, putting my hands on the trunk, and looking straight up at the underneath of the leaves will help me clear my mind. Nature is the ultimate healer and is always ready to bring healing for us. So when we are open to connecting in this way we will find instant healing. Being open to it and seeking it out is most of the work.

As a result of this practice most of us find that we can function in our worlds better. We don’t make up stories about how someone might be mad at us. We don’t self criticize and take the fault for anything. We don’t worry so much that we become frozen. Using MC Yogi’s music to support a clearing another effective approach. “Heaven is here when the mind is clear.” This lyric helps me remember to clear and often I will listen to this song in my yoga practice/meditation to help me stay focused on the clear blue sky. I encourage you to try whatever music you like and to even experiment with silence. Clearing the clouds is a simple practice that can bring great relief to anyone’s brain!

Let’s Talk! Call me at 1-888-INGENIO Ext. 05051094

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Alternatives Healthy Holistic Inspired Permanent Change ReWiring Your Brain Yoga

Let it Go! – Rewiring the Brain

By Hollis Taylor

Let it Go! Letting things go is a lifelong exercise. Attachment seems to creep up even for people that are not suffering with mental illness. Those of us that have come through some so called “mental illness” and challenging times often find ourselves attached. We could be attached to a medication after surgery, sugar, alcohol, or video games. We could be attached to Facebook, Television or YouTube. These attachments form and the next thing we know we are dependent on them in a way that was never intended. I have found myself with many addictions including nicotine, alcohol, sugar, video games, internet, television, sex, fast food and even shopping. There are many levels to addictions and its different for many of us, but in the end we must “Let it Go!”.

Attachment can lead us to depression, bi-polar behaviors, and other ‘not so fun’ emotional expressions. The attachment to things is how we find ourselves in a state of these emotional expressions we don’t care for. Many of us reach out and are faced with quitting something that gives us comfort and pleasure. Those moments we realize we have become attached to something. What were we reaching for? Most of us need comfort, release or an outlet, often I need all these things when I reach for my addictive substance. I understand that in myself and recognize that I am always finding another way. Finding even something else to focus on that is healthier than being dependent on things we know are not good for us. This is how yoga showed up in my life. I want to say though that for you it could be something else, maybe some other exercise or possibly meditation.

I used yoga to focus me away from the things I had been using to comfort myself. I managed to use yoga to help me quit everything and it still helps me stay unattached to things. As I said, its a natural human experience to get attached, we think we want safety hence change is dangerous. In this transformation we can realize that the things we had been reaching for are not good for us. We need to instead reach for other things that boost our confidence like Tree Pose. Practicing Tree Pose can boost our confidence. Also accepting when we fall out as fact, letting it go. Some days we will be deep in tree pose like we always do and suddenly fall out. This happens to keep us humble. This happens to keep us grateful. This happens to helps us “Let it Go”.

During meditation we experience a similar “Let it Go”. The practice of meditation is to simply clear our mind. We constantly practice letting go of our thoughts, hence why meditation has been such a deep emotional healing tool that has last through time. I hear excuses like “I can’t meditate because I can’t sit still or I can’t stop my brain from thinking” but when you truly want peace in your mind almost all of us find our way to meditation. The point of meditation is the practice of clearing our mind. So everyone experiences “thinking too much”. In the practice of letting go of the thoughts we are practicing for our everyday life. As a result in our everyday life, when we find ourselves attached to something, we can simply “Let it Go”.

A great meditation focus is to image the sky blue and clear. As a thought moves it is a cloud. Read the message on the cloud and then slowly let it disappear. Each time the cloud comes in be sure to visit the emotion or thought for just a moment, then watch it disperse into your clear sky. The practice of touching it will allow us to feel the feeling and not oppress things deeper, instead we just Let it Go! Like a balloon to the sky just let it go. There are tons of practices and approaches to letting it go. You can even write your thought or emotion on a piece of paper, burn it, and then meditate to let it go. Once you experience the peace on the side of letting it go, we want to get there quicker next time, hence bringing us to a daily practice of Letting Go!

When practicing Yoga we can experience life on our mat and recognize our thought patterns. Are we holding on tight to a pose or how the yoga is done? When we flow in life and yoga we find better results in the end. We know when we should let things go, deep in side we know we should be letting things go. When you are ready, when its time to “Let it Go” – reach out to your community for support or Call me at 1-888-INGENIO Ext. 05051094

 

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Alternatives Healthy Holistic Inspired Love Permanent Change ReWiring Your Brain Transitions Yoga

Rewiring the Brain to Receive Comfort

My history is horrific including extreme neglect at an early age. Of course I don’t remember but many psychiatrists and psychologists have informed me that it would be next to impossible to overcome the neglect I suffered as an infant. This explained most of my insecurities and needs for affection, including the seek for sexual attention as a sex worker. This is the message I heard in my teens and twenties regarding my mental health. I received diagnosis and medications as a result.

I was highly disappointed in the medications! I found them to certainly cure me of my ills but slowly they seemed to suck all my creativity, spice for life, and even personal awareness. I noticed first becoming more and more “Eore-ish” on the medications. Then the things I normally cared about seemed to have less meaning and after a while I didn’t care about those things either. My personal awareness became non-existant until finally I stopped trying “new medications”. In the end they all lead me to the same place. I refused to see any type of professional guidance as a result of feeling pressured to take medications.

Years past until finally it was time for me to revisit professional help. Again, I heard how my past would define my tomorrow and that without medication it would be very difficult if not impossible to overcome. After a few trials I finally landed with a counselor willing to try something different, even after he tried to convince me to medicate. When I refused all medications, including synthetic hormones, he began to really think about how to help me. He researched new techniques and came back to me with Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques for General Anxiety Disorder. I was able to blanket the techniques as a tool for a large piece of my mental anxieties.

I took those techniques and I began to use them in my yoga practice. I was and am still determined to continue to rewire my brain from unhealthy to healthy. The techniques helped me get centered into myself through breathe work and an awareness to our bodies, mind and spirit. Then I apply the same techniques in my practice with a simple gentleness. Since I can be extra hard on myself I must practice being gentle with myself. I must find a way to practice gently in order to heal myself, especially during my monthly feminine cycle.

Taking our time during yoga and really becoming centered in our selves is our intention. We move in sun salutations focusing on only breathe, allowing the mind to clear. Then finding ourselves in child’s pose we take a full rest. We really settle into our breathe in order to fall completely into our most authentic selves. On the days I know I need extra gentle care I use pillows to support various positions in order to fully rest in them.

A good place to start with this practice is to end each of your yoga sessions with just a few minutes laying flat on your back. Place your right hand on your heart in order to fill your heart with self love. Your left hand empowers your third chakra by holding that spot just below your belly button. Then while holding your hands repeat to yourself or outloud “I am a good person. I deserve all my love. I love you!” or whatever you think is good for you! The intention is simply to empower the third chakra to bridge the gap to the next chakra – to encourage self love, empowerment, and a compassionate self opinion. All the while working on steading your breathe. If anything enters your mind, simply let it go. No need to hold onto it since meditation will often fill our brains with 100 domestic distractions. Instead let them drift out like clouds and focus on the clear blue sky.

I find that music is empower for me and I particularly enjoy hang music, kirtan, or even inspiring music like MC Yogi. I would highly recommend this as a daily practice to solidify your ability to not only give yourself gentle kindness but also to be open to receiving it. Comforting ourselves is our own best medicine! Rewire your brain, nothing is impossible!

We don’t need medications, a lover, or our family to comfort ourselves. The one person in the world that is most reliable is ourselves. With that understanding we can conclude that we are responsible for comforting ourselves and often the best at it. In comforting myself I have found my prescription. Its called self-love!

I would love to teach you the techniques! I want to empower you to take care of your own health! Let’s Rewire your brain!

1-888-INGENIO Ext. 05051094

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Alternatives Healthy Holistic Inspired Permanent Change ReWiring Your Brain Uncategorized

Rewiring your Brain – Choosing Happiness

Many of us suffer great trauma in our lives. When we suffer greatly in our childhood and youth we are faced with a habit, of chaos & trauma. As a child I was usually alone, since I suffered intense neglect. Neglect means there was no adult around to watch over me and keep me safe. That experience lead to profound sexual abuse including incest and rape by the age of 8 years old. I suffered greatly from emotional, mental, and physical abuse as well. These traumas made a mark on my mind, they left me with a habit of suffering. Many of us have different levels of this, some of us suffer greatly, but most of us have some habit of suffering.

Even though the traumas that we suffered were many years in our past we still hold onto them, they still haunt us. Many of us suffer with PTSD which can easily lead to depression. In suffering we learn that if we focus on the horrifying things in our past we are faced with a pretty dismal outlook. If we are to take a different perspective we must first understand that it is a choice. In my personal experience I have stepped back, realized I am no longer in those unsafe situations and then reassured myself that I am safe. Once I realized that these old feelings of suffering and so forth are from my past I am very ready to let them go. I desire good health, happiness, & peace for myself and pray to be surrounded by love. Most of us want this for ourselves.

When your in a pattern and habit of suffering though, you can find yourself finding ways to be unhappy. Choosing to see the stuff in life that sucks, its not hard, just read the news. We can find more suffering, which has become a habit from our trauma filled past, by focusing on our past, seeing only the horrible news, and losing all hope for the future. This behavior creates more suffering for ourselves and many of us find that we are comfortable here. Have you ever felt yourself want to laugh when your upset and crying? That resistance to laughter is exactly what I am referring to in this article.

In my experience, when I realized my attachment to sadness I was horrified at myself. How could I continue to keep myself from happiness, this is stupid! I want to be happy why do I keep myself suffering. Simply, I discovered it was a habit. I learned it from my family members and even my lovers. I had to find a way out of this habit since it served no greater good in the now fairly safe world I live in today. In the past it served as a defense from constant disappointment, preparing me for the worst situation. This defense served me well when my life was full of trauma but now I had grown up, changed my environment, and was focusing on a healthy mind, body, and soul. Although my world is not perfect I no longer live in conditions that I am a helpless child or confused teenager. I have control over who is in my life, how I spend my days, and who has sexual contact with me. Today I am safe. Its time to shed this old habit of suffering, I have zero desire to suffer anymore. I have suffered enough! I am done!

Letting this go proved to be harder than I thought. This habit lingered in my mind like pre programming from my childhood. No surprise that I ended up this way but how do we reverse it? Psychiatrists have been trying to medicate me since medications became the main form of treatment for behavior like this. As if treating me for the depression I suffer from is going to retrain my brain to choose happiness. I understand their urgency and fear to rectify my depression as I suffered from suicidal thoughts. I spent my entire youth as a cutter and drug user. I understand the need for medication in these extreme cases but I don’t want to be medicated. My medicine is Yoga. As I defy modern day medicine and rewire my brain I offer those of you that also have this habit of suffering,  an alternative “medicine”.

I want to include that I also discovered that artificial flavors, preservatives, alcohol and sugar easily triggered my depression. This became more apparent as my happiness practice continued to go deeper and deeper. I found that certain foods in my diet greatly increased my suffering and made it harder for me to achieve happiness. Although I don’t have a perfect diet, extremes are not necessary, I do try to keep these 4 things out of my daily diet. I now suspect that some forms of wheat could be addictive and possibly also contributing to my depression. If your suffering from depression regularly just be aware if these things are in your daily diet.

My first step was to find a visual piece for happiness. I found this necessary for happiness because of the simple fact that smiles are contagious. At the time my home life wasn’t exactly filled with happy people, in fact most of them suffered from depression. I was gifted a “Happy Buddha” after expressing my desire for one. I deeply appreciated the gift and began to use it almost immediately. I created a daily practice of smiling back at the Buddha, whom was happy to always smile at me. I would place my prayer beads on him every night before I went to sleep, kiss him good night, and go to sleep with the best smile I could summon. Then each morning when I rose I would remove the beads, kiss him, and smile back. I would try to wear the beads all day in remembrance of the importance of a smile. Just the act of smiling has beneficiary effects on the brain and its contagious! By healing ourselves, we heal others in the same turn.

Then I took my smiling to the mat. Even after this daily practice for weeks and weeks I still found myself entering depression. One of my most sensitive times is the week before I experience menstruation. I do believe that male bodied people and even trans men on synthetic hormones still experience a fluctuation in hormones and therefore mood. There are so many triggers its hard to to say just one thing that gets us there. Even in the best daily practice we can fall off the happy wagon! When I find myself lost or seeking comfort I find my yoga mat. I have found that I can re-wire my brain in order to reach my emotional goals. I want to overcome this habit of suffering and choose happiness, instead. So as I breathe and go from pose to pose I focus on smiling. Even if it’s fake or I am uncomfortable I push through and smile anyway. Sometimes I have to cry or scream before I can smile, but by the end of my practice I am smiling. When I am done crying and screaming I then step in and ask myself, “Well now that we have honored all that is terrible by crying our eyes out…what can I smile about?” When I am honest with myself I can find reasons to smile. Even if its “Well I am no longer living in unsafe conditions and I can take care of myself.”

In my regular practice I work to prevent these “falling off the wagon” episodes. I use “Happy Baby” in my daily practice and I focus on the most important part, smiling! I also add smiling to all of my rest poses such as “Mountain Pose” – “Child’s Pose” – “Downward Dog” “Lotus” and “Corpse”. I simply rest in these poses and try to remember to smile as I regulate my breathe. Often, I regulate my breathe and smile simultaneously. I also smile after I fall out of a balance pose or don’t follow my plan in yoga. As if I am finding humility in my practice. Laughing at ourselves when we fall out of “Tree Pose” can really help us learn to choose happiness. When I am in my flow I try to smile through it, this is not a chore to do yoga, this is my medicine. This medicine feels good and I am grateful for the tool. Happiness easily sets in when these types of conditions are set up. Even when life isn’t easy, even when we fail, even when life sucks – We SMILE and therefore choose Happiness as a result.

Happiness has brought me great strength to overcome big things. It has seen me through some very hard times and in that I am grateful. I have learned a lot about smiling and happiness over the years that I been practicing this way. It has greatly improved my overall health, my stress levels, my relationships, my mental health, and it even increased my connection to the divine. The practice of smiling in yoga regardless of what pose I am in, fell out of, struggled to achieve, or worked hard to flow in and out of has rewired my brain. Although I am not perfect, my habit of suffering has been greatly reduced, instead I have a habit of being happy. So even in the hustle and bustle of my life when I forget my daily practice of happiness I no longer slip into depression as easily as I did when I first started. Today, I recognize when the old habit of suffering creeps up. I also realize that the regular creeping up of suffering is the human condition talked about by many buddhist monks and spiritualists. I smile because I have rewired my brain by simply smiling through my yoga practice and creating a daily habit of awareness. I no longer allow any of the perpetrators of my past to create more suffering for me today, they have no rights to me. They never did and never will. I am grateful to be responsible for my own choices.

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Alternatives Healthy Holistic Permanent Change Uncategorized Yoga

Why do I avoid what’s good for me? Exercise? Yoga?

Did you get to your mat this week? Why do we avoid what’s good for us? Why when we really desire good health do we still avoid things like yoga and healthy food? Is the human condition to keep us from avoiding what’s good for us? I have spent much time meditating on why I procrastinate my yoga, walk, or healthy food choice. This has been a struggle for many of us for a very long time. It seems to me it comes directly from the reward we receive afterwards or even during the activity.

This explains why sugar keeps us coming back again and again. Our brains reward us for it because from its perspective we should be rewarded for eating so many calories. The brain knows you normally eat 2500 calories before 4pm and will help you remember to do so. The brain programs itself to reward you for eating, but doesn’t understand when those 2500 calories are McDonalds or some other empty calories. Then when the body desires certain nutrients it will ask you to eat again and when you reward it with another 1000 empty calories it rewards you again. The reward center for the brain works this way with a lot of things. Sex, alcohol and drugs are great examples of high reward behaviors. This is part of why addictions usually fall upon these behaviors and can lead to dangerous places. Sugar gets a lot of us in trouble and I get into the details of that in my article “Sugar in an Addictive substance

Also exercise rewards some of us and some people seem to be more stimulated by that reward than they are for the alcohol or sugar reward. I was NOT one of those people. Exercise for me has been a horrendous feat. I hated it in high school and could care less about sports. I just don’t care to exercise. As a young person I was usually left to my own devices to get food, so you can image my choices were not ideal. In fact there were several years I lived on Doritos, Pepsi, and Slim Fast. As child and through most of my early adult hood I ate calorie dense nutrient defficient food and my 260lbs was a direct result. No one exercised in my house! We watched TV, most of the time. I was a child of the 80’s I never learned that exercise can reward us.

When I hike I am not driven by exercise I am driven by the adventure and inspired by nature. That is how I exercise, gyms are boring and severely lack in the reward department. Its easy for me to skip over although I have tried so many times out of pure desire for better health. At times I could keep streaks but my dirty secret is that I hate the gym. So I had to find some other reward for my exercise because it was not always a rewarding experience when you can’t breathe and your muscles hurt so bad. When I was exercising at 250 lbs I hated it with such a passion. I had no idea how I was ever going to figure out this weight loss thing. I had no interest in competition or vanity, these are not my values. I had to find the rewards for exercising and doing yoga, tough to compete with things like sugar and alcohol. I experimented with lots of rewards – buying something can lead to shopping habits, so I don’t recommend that reward system. Shopping, gambling and sex habits are just as addictive as sugar and alcohol. The addiction process lies in the addiction to those rewards. My rewards were something else… they were adventure, geocaching, and trees. This spoke to my values.

Yoga was something else for me. I found the classes, although educational, to be lacking in something. I started using some yoga cards someone had gifted me to remind me of what moves to do next. Time passed and I began to do classes enough to learn how to get in and out of poses then I simply took what I learned and brought it home to my daily practice. I could have a free class, not just financially but I could do whatever I wanted without feeling like a rebel. I didn’t feel pressure in the class to get into this or that pose. I hated thinking of people looking at me when I was 260lbs with tight clothes but feeling like a roley poley marshmallow man trying to do yoga. I wanted to listen to my own music and create my own space. I sensed something in yoga but I didn’t want that classroom effect. I began to build my own practices occasionally returning to classes to learn more. This is how I fell in love with yoga and how it came to be the main reason for my weight-loss. Yoga stretched my muscles and helped me recover from the tough workouts I was trying to do at the gym, hating every minute of it. Yoga gave me a space to be gentle with myself and a place that I could gently challenge myself at my own pace. However I was comfortable doing yoga, and that changed every day. I found an inner knowing that became what I used to decide how to move my body next.

At times, often in the winter, I would stop doing yoga for a little while and begin to notice all the crap habits I had before, return. First I would skimp on my yoga, then eat mindlessly, and more and more habits would return leaving me to wonder what happened. I was back to eating crap food, snacking on sugar, skipping my workout, and so on. We have all done this! Then I find myself with an excessively dramatic menstrual cycle or suddenly coming down with a cold or muscle pain. I feel good when I eat right, exercise and do yoga/meditation, how did I get here? Why did I stop?

I haven’t been rewarding myself properly, that’s the problem. I must find a reward for the practice. The easiest reward is, when you find a yoga routine that is good for you, to simply take a moment laying on your back in a nice relaxed manner and noticing how you feel. At the end of the practice how do you feel? Most of us feel refreshed, relaxed, and often our pain has dissipated. Our souls feel at ease and our minds are quieter. If this is not your experience at the end, try a different style of yoga or maybe Tai Chi would be better for you. When I feel that sense of complete relaxation and positive rewards I bookmark the feeling. I try to highlight it for myself. I want to remind myself just how good it feels to do my yoga routine and in this reward I can easily remember when it comes time to arrive on the mat. I can move through the procrastination bone and instead arrive on the mat with a knowing that at the end I will feel refreshed, relaxed, and rewarded.

This reward method has worked for me in a variety of ways. One thing I want to point out here though is to avoid rewarding yourself with sugar, alcohol, or drugs simply because they don’t support a good healthy holistic life. Not that you can’t have them but to exercise for 30 minutes and then reward yourself with a milkshake later is counter productive. I did it for years, this is how I know we all do it! Instead find other ways you feel rewarded that are healthier rewards. I reward myself with relaxation, adventures, music, and nature.

Many of us that grew up on McDonalds, TV, and sugar as the main ingredient find it hard to be filled with the reward system we have not experienced before. The reward for these addictive things are so high its hard for us to understand how exercise or healthy food is rewarding. It feels like a chore to many of us. Exercise, yoga, and eating healthy feels like a chore – especially when we are new at it. We have to retrain our bodies away from these controlling substances that stand to suck the life right out of us. We must use some other reward just like a drug addict must find some other way to party! Partying is a great reward I love to invite my partner to dance with me. I love to dance with others, the reward of connecting with another and moving our bodies is as addictive as sex for me. When I say dancing I mean the free expression of oneself to music that you enjoy. Everyone has rewards that align with their values but finding them can be a bit of a process. I was so deep that I first tried sugar as a reward for exercise and we know how effective that can be. Then I tried shopping only to find that it wasn’t financially sustainable. Eventually I began to celebrate the more subtle rewards like cuddling, dancing, nature, relaxation, a quiet mind, and fun adventures. Next thing I know my reward system shifts and I can simply notice that these rewards go much deeper than sugar, shopping and beer. These rewards keep on giving and provide other healthy habits. Although I still slip sometimes I notice its much less often as time goes on and the “fall off the wagon” doesn’t last as long. Also I began to bookmark my stomach aches from eating too much sugar or my hangover from too many beers. Although I will say here that when I was very large and had a huge tolerance for alcohol and sugar I did not feel the “sick” feelings. I did not experience these until I detoxed and then returned to the substance. Changing my habits has been most successful with this bookmarking effect and noticing how things effect me. This reward system will help you rewire your brain so that it WANTS to bring you to the mat and WANTS you to exercise.

 

 

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Alternatives Food Healthy Inspired Love Permanent Change Starting Uncategorized

The Hobbit Diet

By Hollis Taylor

I tried every diet. I tried all the plans and weird combinations. I watched my mother try them growing up. I spent a lot of time with my little friend at Weight Watchers in the 80’s with our overweight single mothers in a meeting. I ate McDonald’s several days a week and the other days were things like Wendy’s and KFC. I grew up eating the sugar drink mix with NO WATER! I loved colored icing in the tube at my son’s soccer game, yup the whole tube at once!  I spent my 20’s eating like a 5 year old along with my 5 year old. Slowly I found myself in the same situation I witnessed my mother in as I grew up. As I explored the diets I found them to all claim the same thing with little success! Eventually I learned that my only hope was to change my lifestyle. In my exploration I fell in love with the Hobbit Diet and later the entire spirit of the Hobbit.

The hilarious thing was that I was just surfing around on my Facebook page and one of my nerdy friends posted the image.

hobbitdiet

I loved it! My first Hobbit moment! I figured out how many calories I should be eating to lose weight with SparkPeople.com (1200 Calories) and divided that by 7 which ended up leaving me with 175 calories per meal. There were times I had to combine Elevensies or Luncheon but I found that this worked for me. As I began to embody my inner Hobbit I was called to also be sure that everything I ate was something a Hobbit might eat. So that meant no to prepared foods and more of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and my personal baked goods. Maybe the occasional chunk of cheese. I actually began to store these things in my pocket. This habit became easy to embody. Soon my body adjusted and my hunger pains were aligned with when it was time to eat and any more than 200 calories in a meal felt like stuffing myself.

I still found myself struggling with normal life like my ugly past, my current family situation, a lifetime of poverty, and the plenty of things one can find to be depressed about. I often found myself binge eating and suffering with emotional eating. When I eat because I am upset and then get depressed because I ate too much. In my meditations and downloads on my yoga mat I explore compassion and kindness. Something that is learned but I was never taught. So I took the time to teach my little child that there were gifts in acting kind and in that I was experiencing compassion. I learned compassion heals not only my heart but the hearts of those I have compassion for. The Hobbit heart was born and my name emerged as “Tobi Longbottom“.

As I struggled with my anger at the ugly in our world I found peace in the pure of heart Hobbit lifestyle. I began to Give Love to Everyone and fully take on a Hobbit Heart, attitude, and lifestyle. Nerdy? Maybe! But I have lost over 75lbs with the Hobbit Diet and its various forms. My Elf friend and snake handler is credited for these awesome photos and introducing me to the power of nuts! I continue to shed pounds and always come back to this diet. Another great benefit is how embodying the energy of the hosting Hobbit I had several chef adventures this summer and really enjoyed them.  I am grateful for the experience, the story, and the love for nerdy things! Tobi Longbottom

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Alternatives Food Healthy Holistic Inspired Permanent Change Uncategorized

2016 New Year Fasting for Healthy Habits and Weight Loss

I have made a lot of changes to my eating, activity, and focus in my life in the past 10 years. One of my major values is good health and in that I began to do New Years fastings. A fast with healthy intentions to reset my pallet and get in touch with attachment to food. A journey that is bound to test food allergies as well. I pay a lot of attention to the style of fasting that I do and what I might like to gain at the end of it.

In 2015 I moved to Colorado and now have access to a wilderness that can inspire my physical exercise. Since gyms are not my favorite place to exercise I am more interested in exercising outdoors. This past year I noticed an inconsistent ability to catch my breath that I wanted to be sure was not food related. I had tested myself for “Gluten Induced Ashtma” a couple years ago with mixed results. I think a couple years ago I wasn’t as in shape as I am today, now living in Colorado. So in order to be sure before I took other measures to handle my breathe I wanted to test this possible gluten sensitivity.

I also wanted to reset my pallet after an exciting and fun summer traveling and visiting different places. When traveling its not always easy to keep a good diet although I have figured out some great strategies that save money and support good health while on the road. But after a year of breaking this rule and that rule, you can easily find yourself a little away from your once healthy diet.

My other goal with my fast is to reset my eating and chewing habits. Paying attention to how long I chew my food, what I am doing while I am eating my food, and portion measuring. These are basics to losing weight and paying attention to how we eat is a big part of losing weight.

My fast is designed just for me but follows an Ayurveda guidelines. I choose to only eat fruits and vegetables for 3 days. Then I added grains and soon I will add dairy. Each time I eat I try to create a comforting space or quality time with someone I love. This way my meal has even more meaning. I work at taking my time, putting down my fork between each bite, and chewing my food all the way. On the first day I tried to keep my foods super simple like nuts, carrots, apples, bananas, kale and other vegetables but finding my way to at least 1100 calories. A low number yes but a good healthy number for my height & weight. I also am sure to drink a variety of herbal teas in order to aid in digesting and detoxing. Then I slowly add other foods, starting with grains. Later adding things like dairy and sweetener like honey. I try not to add sugar at all and I haven’t eaten meat in almost 10 years.

This time I learned a lot about my apparent gluten allergy. Seems I was right about my suspicions of gluten and my breathing struggles when I was exercising. I have been able to breathe so much easier since I took it out of my diet. I feel like my vegetarian diet is well balanced and diverse. After my 3 days I feel like I am back on track. My head feels more clear and I feel stronger in my body.

Today I walked up to the mail box, which used to seem like such a feat, but I was able to practically run up to it and I took a fast walk up the hill past it. I don’t usually find it easy to breathe if I walk fast up a hill but now with no gluten in my diet I found clearer breathing. Although I still find myself craving cakes and sweet things I know that eating them only makes me feel sick. That knowledge can take you far. I never noticed how sick those things made me feel though, until I did a fast.

I also discovered just how much I was psychologically attached to bread, much like my sugar addiction. I noticed I was resistant to the experiment because I didn’t want to just let bread go. I love to bake and I love whole wheat. I love sweet breads and bread with my pasta. I realize that like sugar I was attached. When I quit sugar I was so depressed in a worry that I might never have a sweet treat again, although later I realized that I would have it sometimes. I had to think my way through my attachment to bread as well. Telling myself “Its not like you will NEVER have wheat bread again, you just need to find an awareness of what it does to you.” This way I don’t eat it before I go on a hike! I know how my body struggles with it now, making it less attractive.

I worked with my need for comfort and am working towards finding ways to comfort myself other than with food. So when I want breads and sweet things I usually notice I am actually desiring comfort. So in that I used the hot teas as comfort. I also asked for support around me in making sure I get the comfort I need. I pay attention to how yoga comforts me. Reading and listening to music is also comforting to me. The fast has helped me become aware of my need for more comforting.

As I come out of my fast I am grateful for the experience and have learned a lot. Finding ways to slow down my eating, chew my food completely, and eat healthy portions has been reset by bringing practice into each meal. I feel cleaner, healthier and ready to proceed. One thing I am considering is maybe doing this at the next change of season. Short fasts more often is my goal.

What’s Yours??? Need help?? Need a Helping Hand?? Holistic Life Coach here to support your permanent lifestyle changes!

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Alternatives Food Healthy Holistic Recipes Uncategorized

Holistic Holiday Cooking

If you celebrate any kind of holiday this time of year at some point we want to create that “baked in the oven” wholesome meal. Many of us either have some fond memories of someone cooking for a holiday meal all day or maybe we are trying to create that for our gathering now. Many people cook a large ham or turkey in the oven and if that doesn’t happen somehow the meal is a disappointment. When I did my soul searching I found that there were several things that could be labeled as my core values.

On of them is that I deeply care about the earth we live on, in fact not recycling a bottle can trigger an anxious or maddening reaction within me. For instance, I am in a place like “Starbucks” and I purchase a bottled “Green Smoothie” and then when I am finished realize they have no recycling bin. My gut insides want to shout out-loud “What the FUCK Starbucks? How can you dare ignore this obvious thing?” Not only am I so triggered by Starbucks lack of respect for the earth that supports it but I am outraged at the obvious corruption of the company. It leads me to believe they are as corrupted as our government, hypocrisy on top of irresponsible. Several years back when the UN declared that meat & dairy production was the number one pollutant of the world, I began to make big changes. How could I ignore this? Although it seemed everyone else was jumping through hoop after hoop to recycle another bottle, I stopped eating meat and still recycle bottles. I cannot ignore the facts. My soul knows that our earth is vital to our own existence. My values about the earth lead me to the understanding that moving to a vegetarian diet would also keep me from the same hypocrisy I felt about Starbucks.

But Wait! I have come from some dark places and I value things like community & family. I know just how important they are and what is a holiday without turkey or ham? How could I possibly create a wholesome meal without these main dishes. I had taught myself both how to cook a whole turkey and ham with the gentle guidance from some of the kindest wonderful people in my life. My son valued the wholesome meals that I cooked for various holidays. Part of it was the tradition of it but the other part was the warm homey feeling of the energy of the kitchen. The feeling we have of contentment when someone has made food from scratch in our kitchen. This atmosphere is part of of why so many of us find ourselves emotionally connected to meat.

I lived a lifestyle of fast food and morbid obesity. As I changed I became a flexitarian for several years showing my respect for the environment and slowly weaning myself off meat. Then when I made the final leap to vegetarian I felt so good about the food I ate, most of it from scratch in my busy kitchen. I found that eating in a way that matched my values helped me feel more connected to my food. This lifestyle change lead me to an awareness for our connections to what we put in our body. If it is aligned with our highest values we find it more filling and satisfying. When it looks like McDonald’s we are easily disconnected and only reacting to the emotional reward from eating. When it came time for the holidays I wanted to be sure I also kept those wholesome values that I had raised my son with, after a lifetime of getting it intermittently. I was happy to find so many variations of the stuffed pumpkin recipe and have tried it in a variety of ways over the years. At this point in my journey I have changed the recipe and have prepared it for small and large groups. I have prepared it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Although my son is now grown I am still happy to share this recipe with friends and community.

Choosing the pumpkin is the challenging piece. I recommend finding a farm that has “edible pumpkins”. Although you can use the Jack O Lantern variety it will be more watery than edible varieties. There are usually several varieties and you want to be sure its big enough to stuff and feed your family. Bring your kids to help choose the pumpkin, it helps them get excited their own connection to food. When served you will serve a bit of stuffing with vegetables, including some squash. Once you pick your pumpkin be aware that it can be kept in a cool dry place for approximately 6 months and it will keep in a healthy way. Once your ready cut a whole in the top like a Jack O Lantern and clean it out in a similar way. Put the seeds aside and invite a young person to clean, season and bake them. Often a fun activity for young people, especially when left to be creative in their seasoning.

I baked my own bread, set it out to get stale and toasted it. You can just purchase bread crumbs if that is easier for you. Season it and mix it with whatever root vegetables are available in your area at the time. This recipe does not have onions and garlic but they can be added for those who tolerate it. Creativity is encouraged and the use of fruit like apples or pears can add a nice touch.

 

Ingredients:

3-4 cups of large Bread cubes

2-3 medium root vegetables (Sw. Potatoes, Yams, potatoes, parsnips, exotic varities)

2-3 medium pieces of Fruit (Apples and/or Pears)

3 Large Carrots (all colors)

3 Large pieces of Celery

Olive Oil

1 TBSP Cumin Seed

1 TSP Fennell seed

1 TBSP Sage

Salt & Pepper

  1. Cut up your vegetables and fruit to small pieces and celery & carrots into slices
  2. Heat 2 TBSP of Olive Oil and lower heat.
  3. Add Cumin Seed and Fennell seed, wait till they pop
  4. Turn off heat and add Sage, Salt and Pepper immediately
  5. Mix bread cubes, vegetables and fruit with oil and herbs
  6. Stuff all the contents inside the prepared pumpkin
  7. Bake in preheated oven at approximate 350 degrees. Just like a turkey or ham it depends on the size of the pumpkin on how long and temperatures.
  8. You know its done when you can poke a fork from the outside to the thick areas of the pumpkin
  9. Be sure to enjoy with other vegetarians dishes and I recommend Quorn for a meat substitute. It can easily be added to the stuffing or served on the side with mushroom gravy.