I’m a person who has big ideas. I don’t always have follow through. I’m one of those people who thinks about the great business, does nothing about it and then ten years later sees it in a magazine, in the airport or on the street. I have great gumption and energy at the beginning of an idea and then when a problem or obstacle arises I lose steam.
Over the years I’ve realized that to be successful I have to take baby steps. A little bit often my teacher would say. It’s how I became a true yogini. Because if you told me to be real and authentic in my practice I had to get on the mat for 90 minutes every day and meditate for 60 minutes every day I never would have stuck with it. It was in a workshop almost 15 years ago with Yogi Erich Schiffman that this idea really resonated with me. Erich Schiffman is as laid back as they come. When eager students would ask about how a pose should be or feel he’d say “how does it feel to you.” He was all about the practice being personal and not a prescribed way of moving or thinking. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when his answer to how often/long he practices was “it depends on the day.” Some days he was only on the mat for a short while. If he was home and not traveling he might do 90 minute practices. A standard back then.
I took those words to heart and I learned to stop pressuring myself. I was a Melissa of shoulds and musts and I became a Melissa of if it works out. If I have a day full of picking up and dropping off kids, making dinner and meeting friends I may not get on the mat. Today I practice when I’m drawn to the practice and because yoga has been my life for 20 years, most days I’m drawn to practice. My definition of practice has changed. Some days I may not be on the mat long, but I practice mindful movement or I sit quietly and focus on the breath. Being able to accept that I’m not a terribly disciplined person has freed me and made my practices deeper and more enjoyable. I don’t beat myself up on the mat. Ever. I stay present for as long as I can be there, delighted with the strength, willingness and flexibility of my body.
The best place this lesson translated? To my kids. Thankfully I learned this lesson while my oldest was quite young. And it really translated into how my kids eat and what we focus on come dinner time. Gone are the days of clean your plate or else. How many eating disorders did that foster? No, instead my kids have to taste everything. My job is to make their world as big as possible to give them as many new experiences as possible. They don’t have to love broccoli-I’m still a little iffy about it, although I’ve learned that I love almost anything roasted. They do have to taste it every time it hits their plate. My ex and I love to cook so we try to make things in different ways in different kinds of dishes. Broccoli might land on their plate 3 times in a month, but it might be roasted with lemon and Parmesan one time, stir fried with chicken and peanuts another time and chopped raw into a salad a third time.
We talk about food a lot at our house. From a very young age my kids knew the basics about nutritional value. Oranges have Vitamin C. We talk about how we need lots of different kinds of foods and not the same 2 or 3 foods over and over. And we talk about how eating a waffle, a bagel and toast is the same, not different. We talk how our taste buds change over our lives and how it’s important to come back to foods we thought we didn’t like. And as children nothing is fully developed yet, so it’s doubly important to keep trying foods over and over.
Through these simple conversations had over and over again my kids are good eaters. We model good behavior for them by eating well, eating adventurously and varying our diet greatly. We don’t snack on junk food we tell them junk food is for a treat once in awhile. If you’re hungry eat real food. We sit down to dinner together more often than not. And as frustrating as it can be we have conversations about our days, about what’s coming in the week or the month. We talk about sleepovers, orchestra concerts, homeschooling…whatever comes up that the kids want to talk about. Cause these years are fleeting. This is the chance I get with my kids, not when I have a better job, or my PMS is better or my divorce is final. To break bread together is a powerful thing. Every culture in the world has traditions, superstitions and ritual around breaking bread with loved ones.
I started in the restaurant business when I was 17. Food has been my life. It doesn’t just feed our bodies, it nourishes us, body, mind and soul.
This month at AYogiKitchen.com we’re focusing on kitchen gardens and changing the way our kids eat. Head over there to see Five Steps to Getting Your Kids to Eat Better.