Reality check and the magic of Breakthrough

 

February 2018.

Dear self in minor crisis: I have an idea—quit your full-time job-with-benefits and high tail it to India for a loosely defined “Women’s Self-Care” training (...but don’t I already know how to be a woman and how to care for myself?)

Good plan says my heart. Bad, bad plan says my mind and, like, everyone else in my life.

Generally, however, because of how I am inescapably wired, my heart wins. I know that I don’t grow or transform by trudging through the mud, I know that I grow by forcing myself into uncomfortable and intense situations that serve up a spiritual reality check. The real kind of reality check that forces me to look right into the magnified mirror so that I can see all the bizarre quirks, imbalances and strange beauties inside of myself. The kind of reality check that shows me who I am and scares the shit out of me, while simultaneously inspiring me way beyond what I thought possible.

 
All Images by  @starchildtarot

All Images by @starchildtarot

 

My inner critic (or possibly, my mother’s actual voice) continued this dialogue thusly: “Why would Chantal take a vacation to India for 3 weeks right after having quit her full-time job and without another one lined up? She really needs to hunker down and figure her shit out!” Then, my inner cheerleader retorts: “This is exactly what she needs, she is finally listening to her intuition and her heart again (and, possibly, that one great tarot card reading) and just saying YES!”

And that convo got old reeeeal fast. So it ended promptly like this: “Fuck it, I’m just gunna GO FOR IT.”  So I bought the ticket to India and accepted the invitation by the retreat leader, friend and mentor, Emily Kuser, to come assist on the Women’s Self Care training on the western coast of India.

Because sometimes you just have to woman-up and come to terms with the fact that (you're not going to be lawyer like the rest of the fam) and that what you’re meant to do on this earth doesn’t have a straight and narrow path...or an institutionalized credential to legitimize it in the public eye. Well, shit.

First off, none of this was whimsical or romantic. I never wanted to go back to India again after my first trip. Traveling alone with a backpack in my 20’s on a meager budget was exciting, but definitely gave me my fill of all the India I needed. Second, I did not go to this training thinking it would be fun or relaxing, or simply to check out. I went, somewhat hesitant, because I knew I had some big inner work to do and needed to slough off a few layers of stagnation. I knew it would be powerful and uncomfortable at times, because I know what growth and breakthrough feels like.

 
 

Before this trip to India, truthfully, it had been a long time since I had really challenged myself to get honest about whether or not the work I was doing was a) aligned with my gifts and aptitudes and b) viable enough to elevate me professionally, spiritually and financially into the future. I wasn’t really caring for myself responsibly.

Likely because I had so much inner work to do, and because I needed to be prepared to hold some space for others on the retreat, the breakdown/breakthrough process began before the official retreat had even begun. It began as soon as I slowed wayyyy down. I found myself spending a number of days in my Indian hotel room in the midst of a healing crisis, just BEING. At first, all I saw was the face of breakdown. It is a face that is not altogether unfamiliar to me; it is a face full of confusion and tears and fear, one that is hard to meet eye-to-eye in the mirror. Whenever I am in the depths of confusion or pain I often get stuck thinking “when will that beautiful glowing face of ah-ha, of inspiration and breakthrough appear again? Will I ever actually see that face again?”

I was reminded that so much of our inner crap is shrouded by the DO-ing-ness of our daily lives. So when we slow down, we have the opportunity to let it come to the surface. And all you have to do is say, “OK” to pain and fear and emotion, “OK” to bliss and delight and breath and space, “OK, I will feel this and not ignore it. I will just BE with it. I will do all of this because I love myself and I want to evolve and understand more about this life that I have been given.

 
 

Sharing my recent experience makes me feel pretty vulnerable. But that is eclipsed by the strength I feel in sharing it with the women in my life, known and yet-to-be-met, who know that our power and inborn gifts can heal and amplify the human experience on this extraordinary planet. It is also a reminder that experiencing our power is key to enjoying, loving and relishing in being a woman. Because we all know it’s not easy to be a woman...it carries with it great responsibility and crazy big power. And It can feel like we are full of WAY too much sometimes -- like, I-can’t-handle-all-that-is-going-on-inside-of-me kind of too much. But the ability to integrate that power is true wisdom and feminine power. 

And this is why learning to truly care for our power and our magic, our psyche and spirit is so vital.

This is the basis for “women’s self care.”

Times of rest, relaxation and introspection are not a luxury, they are a necessity for women.  The immensity of just how much we take in and process each day is much greater than we realize.  When we get overloaded, we have many ways to mask the pain, divert the feelings, and file them away for later. I believe that even those of us who are very skilled at processing our emotions, at communicating clearly and knowing our needs and boundaries, undervalue and under-prioritize the need for true REST and reflection. I am not just talking about a spa day or an afternoon at the beach with a book - but rather, intentional and dedicated amount of time to check in, unwind, and unravel a bit. To get shaken up, get WOKEN up, and shed the stiff and familiar skins of things we have outgrown or have been afraid to address.

 
 

Make no mistake, doing this is work - it’s spiritual warrior shit for sure. But the effects of it not being done are far more challenging to deal with than doing the work itself. Humans are always changing and growing and healing and it does require reflection and acknowledgment to do so skillfully.

This process is much like women’s monthly cycles of menstruation and the numerous phases that we move through. Women have the capacity for and need to cleanse, release and recalibrate the whole body-mind-heart-spirit system on a regular and cyclical basis.  There is so much that a woman knows, sees and feels moment to moment, and her capacity for all of this is a great gift. This gift has the ability to guide decision making, create, organize, heal, communicate, lead, rectify, solve complex issues and challenges.

This willingness to do the “spiritual warrior shit,” this is the difference between a retreat and a vacation. And, Toto, I am definitely not on vacation anymore.

 

Love Your Food

INTUITIVE NUTRITION || LET YOUR FOOD CHOOSE YOU

Intuitive Nutrition is a modern, holistic approach to choosing a diet that's right for your unique physiology, preferences, and lifestyle based on how foods feel in your body.

There is no One-Size-Fits-All approach to wellness. Attaining your optimal state of well-being can be attained by identifying the sources of imbalance and transforming them into habits that enhance mind, body and spirit. This way of eating is a way of life and requires deep listening, developed sensitivity, and empowered choice. Through this approach, we learn to connect with the foods that feel right for our own individual bodies.

Your body chooses your food.

There are thousands of (physical, mental, emotional and circumstantial) variables that make you uniquely YOU. Intuitive Nutrition is a modern, holistic approach to diet by which the individual learns to feel into and understand the signals and symptoms of their own body to determine which foods enhance health and vitality and which foods to avoid. 

Bio-individuality means that your body and biology are unique to you.

 There is no one-size-fits-all diet. The needs of our body change as we grow, learn, and move through life.  From infancy, to childhood, to adolescence, throughout the phases of adulthood and into old age our bodies will require different levels of nutrients, sustenance, cleansing and comfort to survive and thrive. Modern science tells us that genetics, age, environment, emotional state, activity level, sensitivities, personal preferences and many other factors will affect how well you digest, assimilate and metabolize your food and uptake nutrition. With so many variables that make your body unique, YOU are truly the best person to determine what foods work best for your body and life.

healthy meal fresh food

Intuitive Nutrition Consultations by Natalie and Magnolia:

  • Intuitive Nutrition Consultations take into account the whole YOU, helping empower you to take the necessary steps to live a happy, healthy and harmonious life.
  • To best support your optimal well-being, a custom tailored wellness plan is crafted which highlights your individual needs, identifies the root of your health imbalances and offers diet and lifestyle suggestions to support your optimal well-being.

Visit our contact page for information on consultations with Natalie or Magnolia 

10 Secrets To Achieve Optimal Health - A Guest Blog

We were lucky enough to have The BodyLove Project's very own Magnolia Rasak as our featured Guest Blogger for this post. Her, "10 Secrets To Achieve Optimal Health" comes from her work at holisticwellspring.com. Head on over to her site to find out more about her Holistic Nutrition services and the unique expertise she brings to the world of Holistic Health

With so many food options, diet choices, and health advertisements it can be confusing to figure out the simple steps to support optimal health. Simply going back to the basics and making small, but profound changes can have a positive impact on how we eat, what we eat, and how we feel. And, making these changes are often easier than we think. Here are 10 simple steps that will make a big impact on your health, well-being, and support your most optimal self.

1. Explore, experiment, and listen.
You are unique! No one diet fits all when it comes to nutrition. The perfect diet plan for you will require exploration and an openness to listen to your body’s unique dietary needs. Basic dietary guidelines such as: consume mostly plant-based whole foods, include a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, eat whole grains, and quality drinking water, and get regular exercise will help support you as you find the perfect diet for your body’s needs.

2. Eat a protein rich breakfast daily.
Breakfast is the meal that literally breaks your fast from a night of sleep, and provides your body with the fuel needed to start your day. There are many benefits to eating breakfast daily.  Simply eating breakfast can help to increase your resting metabolic rate by 10% or more, which in turn, burns more calories. Protein is an important nutrient for the start of the day. Incorporating quality protein in your breakfast will provide energy, and also help reduce sugar cravings throughout the day.

3. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly.
It’s a lesson we heard as little kids, but a surprising number of adults do not thoroughly chew their food. Chewing completely and eating in a slow and relaxed manner can help you digest more efficiently, increase nutrient absorption, and minimize digestive issues. Eating slowly also allows you to more accurately gauge your level of fullness. Try to chew 20-30 times before swallowing.

4. Choose fresh, seasonal, and organic foods.
Whenever possible, buy fresh organic foods. Organic foods are free from synthetic chemicals and contain more nutrients and enzymes than their conventional counterparts. Try shopping at your local farmers market to ensure your food is local, seasonal, and fresh.

5. Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables provide an array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, phytochemicals and fiber necessary to support optimal health. Diets high in fresh fruits and vegetables help prevent diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Color your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables which not only beautify your plate, but also provide your body with the nutrients essential to your health.

6. Choose organic and free range animal products.
Organic animal products are free of harmful antibiotics, growth hormones and medications given to conventionally raised animals. Free range and organic animal products will be the most health supportive along with a balanced diet plan.

7. Hydrate with clean water.
Proper hydration is essential for the proper functioning of every cell in our body. Clean water is key to adequate hydration, and helps flush toxins and waste out of our bodies. Aim to drink one half ounce of hydrating liquids per pound of your total body weight. If available, choose clean mineral spring water.

8. Read your labels, know what’s in your food.
Nutrition fact labels tell us what is in our food. Reading food labels help us avoid harmful and unhealthy ingredients such as artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, sugars and food coloring. If you can’t pronounce it, or don’t know what it is, then it’s probably not health supportive, and you may want to do some research before you make a purchase. Reading nutrition fact labels allows you to make informed nutritional choices about the foods you buy, and allows you to choose foods that are most beneficial for your health.

9. Be active.
Physical exercise has many health benefits and is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise supports cardiovascular health, reduces stress, and maintains healthy weight, while lowering the risk of various health diseases. Aim to get 30 plus minutes of exercise at least 4 times a week. One of the keys to exercise it making it fun! It’s hard to stick to something we don’t enjoy doing, and when it comes to exercise, the more you have fun with it, the more likely you will be to stick with it. Going for a forest hike or a jog on the beach at sunset can be a great way to be active and enjoy the outdoors. Or try an exercise class that interests you. It will be a great way to get a good work out and meet others who are passionate about their health.

10. Relax.

In a world where stress has become more and more prevalent, it is even more important to find balance. Stress has been linked with an increased risk of a variety of diseases, and usually leaves us feeling exhausted and drained at the end of a day. Finding ways to relax and minimize the stressors in your life can have a dramatic effect on the way you think and feel. Rather than turning on the T.V. or reaching for your favorite comfort food, try a walk in nature, take a bath, or get a massage. Find the activities that work best for you!

Most of all have fun! Try new foods and new health supportive recipes. Start a health group, or weekly dinner party where healthy food is the central theme. One of the greatest gifts we can give our body is proper nutrition, adequate exercise, and a positive, stress free lifestyle. Our bodies will take car of the rest!


Go ahead and start taking these small, but profound steps today and give your body the support it needs so you can feel your best!


References:  Lipski, E. (2012). Digestive Wellness. 4th ed. McGraw Hill.
Murray, M. (2000). Total Body Tune-Up. Bantam Books.

Men and women united | the new Gender Equality Movement

Nothing will be more powerful than the unification of men and women in achieving Gender Equality.

The most compelling thing about BodyLove is that it is about MUCH more than THE BODY. These days, accepting and loving our body is one of the most important and radical things we can each do to affect social, spiritual and even political change.

Read on...

As I have begun to write, speak and venture down the path of women's empowerment and gender equality, I have come across a number of incredible organizations that are working in this particular arena of social change that anyone interested in BodyLove should know about.

There is in fact A LOT going on in our country and around the world in effort to move gender equality forward. Some of the the most impactful change is coming from organizations which focus their efforts on empowering girls and women with access to education and information on reproductive rights.

In solidarity with these efforts, there are TWO incredible organizations that I imagine our BodyLove Community will be excited to learn about and perhaps get in involved with in some way:

The first is HeForShe - an organization dedicated spearheading a solidarity movement for Gender Equality. HeForShe (www.heforshe.org) is a program of UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The organization was established to accelerate the progress of meeting the needs of girls and women worldwide. 

The logo for the HeForShe Movement

The logo for the HeForShe Movement

The coolest part about HeForShe is the strong messaging about the participation of men in the Gender Equality movement. In fact, I'd say that much of their platform stands on the basis that the active participation of men is as important to this movement as women's. This organization helps create a UNITING force rather than a divisive one that points fingers. The time for blaming either gender for gender inequality is long gone my friends - Nothing will be more powerful than the unification of men and women in achieving Gender Equality.

This idea ties in so well with what The BodyLove Project is all about, specifically regarding the way gender norms are distorted through hyper-sexualization of women in the media and the obsessive emphasis on thinness.  

...Which offers a perfect segue to our second highlighted organization: The NOW Foundation.

The National Organization for Women Foundation (NOW Foundation) is devoted to achieving full equality for women through education and litigation. The Foundation is allied with the National Organization for Women, the largest feminist activist organization in the US with hundreds of affiliates across the country. But don't let this verbiage deter you; if "feminism" is a highly charged word for you, understand that NOW works on  fundamental rights for women- including reproductive rights, employment issues, sexual harassment and education.  In other words, constitutional guarantee of equal rights under the law. The Basics Y'all.

I actually found out about NOW via an Instagram account of one of the many Curve Models that I follow, and my attention was captured by a link to a page on the NOW website featuring  filmed interviews which included Crystal Renn, a Curve Model who I have written about in on my personal blog site at www.chantalpeterson.com. Renn, who has been through the gamut in the modeling world, from near-death anorexia to a thriving plus-size modeling career, talks about her Body Love journey and speaks fearlessly about size diversity and the insanity of the fashion industry.  

Her interview is part of the Love Your Body campaign  that NOW initiated to challenge the message that a woman's value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current (narrow, unrealistic and often hazardous!) beauty standards.

To learn more about NOW's extensive programs and initiatives, visit their website at www.now.org

Look for upcoming email notifications about The BodyLove Project's next events, workshops and upcoming opportunities to get involved. If you are subscribed to our mailing list yet - what are you waiting for? Sign up here!

"We cannot shame ourselves into being lovable" an article published in The Elephant Journal

I've learned a lot about the power of the mind and the ability of my thoughts to determine and shape my experiences and relationships in Life. It is relentless daily work, the most beautiful and mystical work that can be done - the  real Alchemy. And, not to deter anyone from continuing this read, but, yeah, this is actually a conversation about quantum physics, --And its much more accessible and much less esoteric than you might think.

And so if you are anything like me in the way that you think about transformation and self love, you understand that creating positive change is visionary work, it asks of you to become your own Hero. And for this work to be done effectively you must be relentless about clearing the mind of negative self sabotaging talk, judgments and fears.  Shame, guilt, and fear never create positive change. Those emotions DO create negative experiences we would rather avoid, ones that can continue to repeat themselves.. until we stop them.

The way to create an ever more beautiful reality is to IMAGINE IT >  CREATE IT WITH CONSCIOUS THOUGHT > AND ACT ON IT.

I touch upon this quantum understanding in my first article published in The Elephant Journal entitled "We Cannot Shame Ourselves Into Being Lovable" Going through the editing process with the "Eleditors" as they call themselves at The Elephant Journal was a great learning process and I cant wait to publish more on this site. I definitely recommend reading through the site - there are many gems there on wellness, spirituality and grounded political issues with a bit of liberal flair :)

I hope you enjoy the read and I would love your feedback and insights after reading it!

Also, be sure to check out the website that my team and I have created for the launch of The BodyLove Project! We had our first event on May first, a local screening of the documentary film, Miss Representation. Read more details about that amazing evening on the BodyLove Project blog

And if you'd like to join the community and be privy to our upcoming events, subscribe to our community mailing list by going to the BodyLoveProject.org homepage.

Creating social change from within

We spend a lot of time looking outside when perhaps the most immediate vehicle for great change comes from within each of us individually.

The Miss Representation film screening event brought the community together to talk about the way the media affects body image in women and men and how it relates to women in positions of power and influence in our society.

If you are wondering what our biggest piece of insight from the Miss Representation film screening was, read on.

|Photo credit: Bettina Norton|

|Photo credit: Bettina Norton|

Our community is ready to have these powerful conversations. In the spirit of pushing the envelope, we wanted to share an even deeper level of insight that became apparent to us after showing the film. The film made many great points and helped light a fire. One aspect of the film that we wanted to put more emphasis on with regard to our work with The BodyLove Project, is in the common tendency to point the finger at external entities such as "the media" and "politics" and "society" as culprits of this cultural epidemic of body shame, competitiveness, and low self esteem in women. What is missing in this critique is the reflection of how we as individuals relate to ourselves and how we relate to others. 

The question then becomes: How do each of us, on daily basis, relate to one another with regard to these issues? To dig deeper, try asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Am I ready for women to take on major positions of power? 
  • Am I ready for women to express their sexuality, beauty AND intellectual and professional prowess?
  • Further: How do I relate to women with qualities, achievements and physical attributes that I admire? Do I harbor jealousy? Do I treat them with mistrust or false pretense in order to relate to them or keep my own insecurities hidden? 
  • Do I  believe that women are and can be effective leaders?
  • What are the thoughts, judgments and criticisms that I have for others AND for myself? 

BIG questions here.

Norah Eddy, l ocal entrepreneur,  Co-Founder of  Salty Girl Seafood  ||  Photo credit: Bettina Norton

Norah Eddy, local entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Salty Girl Seafood || Photo credit: Bettina Norton

My friend Michelle is a high school teacher in LA. I found out when talking to her at a party this weekend that she had in shown Miss Representation to her high school students and then asked them afterward to respond to the film. She asked them to write a letter to who they believed to be responsible for the negative and hyper-sexualized portrayal of women in media and in society at-large. She said that, surprisingly, the majority of girls in her class wrote to a current pop star or other high profile young woman and berated her for the way she dressed, acted or portrayed herself in social media.

Thats Interesting: The girls blamed other girls for perpetuating, if not creating, the negative stereotypes of women. Its seems that the competitive blame-game sets in early on in our social development.

If what we see seems utterly out of balance, it may be time to look more closely at ourselves to find the change we want to see, rather than habitually pointing at the external world. We give these negative media forces power when we blame it and focus on it. And so we can give a NEW WAY power (the one we wish to see) when we look within and focus on empowering and enlightening ourselves. We have to feel worthy and capable of success and acceptance before we can expect "society" to do so.

We spend a lot of time looking outside when in fact perhaps the most immediate vehicle for great change comes from within each of us individually.  We need to take responsibility for what is created in this life.

Remember to subscribe to our mailing list to be the first to hear about The BodyLove Project's upcoming events and latest blog posts. We will be hosting more films, discussions, educational workshops, and health and fitness events - All Coming Soon!

 

 

 

 

Anji Trujillo, PHD Candidate at University of Wisconsin ||  Photo credit: Bettina Norton

Anji Trujillo, PHD Candidate at University of Wisconsin || Photo credit: Bettina Norton