Sunday, January 31, 2016

Light-Chasers Manifesto: How To Defeat & Overcome Self Doubt

In my own life, I had never really addressed the unwelcome dance between "self doubt" & I. In my interactions with those around me (friends, colleagues, family members) I consistently saw the same sentiments of self doubt, of wanting to accomplish something - be it a goal, dream, desire, etc. There always seemed to be reasons for why not to do something, instead of a reverse mechanism of listing off all the ways that they could turn their wishes into reality.

There are plenty of reasons why people hit these "blocks" or obstacles. Sometimes it is internal or external criticism. Sometimes its other factors like finances, or perspective. We try to encourage others but when we find ourselves in that similar situation - fearful to accomplish something no matter how greatly we may desire it- we aren't always very kind to ourselves.The intention is there but the spark needs igniting.

I personally dont believe in perfection (anymore). I like the idea of balance but balance takes self mastery, self discovery, and sometimes hard work. This year I want to address how I feel and attain what I desire. I realized roadmaps can be helpful and I complied a list of ways that could help silence self-doubt in order to sprout. What if we spent more time inspiring one another? What if we spent more time encouraging ourselves? This is the light-chases manifesto. This is chasing your own light and making it burn brighter. 


1) Develop one (or more) mantra that applies to you or what you want to achieve. this could be something like "I am/will be successful"  or "I am deserving of what I wish to achhieve." When you discover your own message, practice mantra meditation by repeating this to yourself. Then say it out loud. Yes out loud. I do this before I go to sleep with the lights off and my mind clear. I dont even think about the mantra I simply repeat it. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you feel conflicted of self-doubt - repeat to yourself and remember meditation isn't about perfectionism, its meant to move you forward. Its meant to empower you. 

2) Kick self-doubt in the face. Whenever self doubt starts to appear or those feelings creep up simply reply with a "No."  Counter those thoughts little by little. Even if it feels impossible or if something is telling you its not possible, discover that you don't have to give in to someone else's perception. 

3) Throwing yourself to the wind. Explore stream of consciousness options like journaling, coloring books, etc. The goal is so create something without expectations. Shake off the dust and get moving

4) Surround yourself with positive people or like-minded ones. I cannot stress how valuable this is. Seek people who will encourage your growth and goals, find a group (in your community or even online). Reach out to someone you admire and let them know. Never underestimate the power and potential of genuine camaraderie. 

5) Forget expectations. Its easy to look at others or different situations and needlessly compare ourselves and feel negative; as if we aren't "achieving enough" - this thinking can set us back and make us lose that confidence. Instead release the concept of expectations and focus on what you want and how to attain it. The truth is that everything takes time and effort. Behind every picture of success is a story of how someone got there. Focus on the journey not the endpoint. "Decide to rise" a wonderful mantra from Danielle LaPorte with a great motivation piece on overcoming doubt (P.S. I am currently reading her book The Fire Starter Sessions and truly recommend it)

6) Plan. I used to avoid any kind of planning medium because I didn't think it was necessary. However as the years passed and the busier I got I realized how easy it is to forget ideas, thoughts, and plans. By writing these down you create visual (and hopefully organized) outlines of keeping things on track while priming you to do something that day/week/month.

7) Step back and ask yourself what you want. Why are you not feeling motivated? Why is this doubt kicking in? Sometimes our paths & desires change - & this is truly okay. To better ourselves we have to be honest with ourselves and address what we want (or don't want) in order to move forward.

8) Accept yourself. Once you accept who you are, what you want, and wish to do - you then gain a power and confidence with realizing your potential. The only happiness that matters is your own, when you act against what you really want, you can't grow. "You're freer than you think you are."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Plant Based Mushroom Bolognese with Banza Pasta | Vegan & Gluten Free

Now that it is winter, I wanted create a warming, rich delicious pasta dish. I went to the farmers market and on intuition picked several items that I wanted to used, including the cutest plump kumatos and oyster mushrooms. Kumatos are beautiful brown-red tomatoes that are incredibly sweet and burst will flavor you can eat them as is if you desired.

Cooking, for me, has become a type of therapeutic activity. When I step into the kitchen i remove myself from anything on my mind and devote myself completely to culinary alchemy. It might sound a little odd but I believe in positive intention and as my mother says: Its an experience, learn from your steps. Heeding her advice, I think its best to do things mindfully - simple acts like enjoying the season and what it has to offer.

This recipe was made for my mother in mind. She loves the addition of wine in cooking but I wanted to make a completely plant based dish full of nutrients and flavor. There in mind came a bolognese sauce which I know she enjoys. For this dish I made my own tomato sauce based and oh-my-gosh making your own tomato sauce is infinitely better than the store brought. I also mixed in some lightly sautéed oyster mushrooms to give it texture and "meatiness." This decadently tasting and make sure get a good red wine because it adds so much distinct flavor.

Planted Based Mushroom Bolognese with Banza Pasta | Vegan & Gluten Free

Banza is an amazing chickpea-based pasta that has a taste similar to wheat except it is completely gluten free. Its has bite and fares favorably well when it comes to nutrition on its own (14 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber & half the carbs of regular pasta, GMO-free and it's vegan) The pasta was also named one of Time Magazines 25 Best Inventions of 2015. Feel free to check out their shop for a variety of styles although the pasta is beginning to show up in more natural food stores which is great! I love the flavor of the pasta and that it holds up so well. I have a few more recipes in the works using this amazing brand. Follow Banza on Twitter & Instagram!

1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped mushroom of choice (I used baby bella)
1/2 cup chopped eggplant
3/4 cup of chopped organic kumato, or a cherry/grape tomato or diced tomato
1/2 cup of organic red wine like Pinot Noir
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of rosemary, remove from stems and finely chop the leave
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4th cup pasta water, water or no sodium veggie broth
olive oil
pink salt
pinch of white or black pepper
oyster mushrooms
Banza Pasta

  • To save time and speed clean up chop up all veggies and place them on a cutting board or plate
  • Heat a saucepan or dutch oven on medium heat and add olive oil, add the diced yellow onion and a pinch of salt and pepper and then add the mushrooms
  • Cook until onion and mushrooms have lightly brown and softened
  • Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan then add 3/4 cup of chopped kumato or tomato of of choice, eggplant, carrot and mince the garlic, rosemary and dried oregano, extra pinch of salt and pepper
  • Continue cooking on medium heat until the all the veggies soften, stir and add a little more olive oil if needed, about 15-20 minutes 
  • Remove veggies from saucepan, transfer to a blender and pulse but dont overdo it, you want a little texture but make sure veggies get processed. Taste to to see if you need more salt, pepper, or want to puree it more
  • In another pot, begin cooking the Banza pasta (I used Rotini) or pasta of choice, cook according to the box instructions and drain.
  • Meanwhile in the saucepan, add the red wine with the heat turned up to medium high, you want the red wine to reduce by half. This can take up to 10 minutes. After the wine has reduced, lower to medium low heat and add the veggie sauce you blended back into the saucepan and 1/4 cup of water or veggie broth. Stir while it simmers for about 10-15 minutes. 
  • This is optional but after I finished the sauce, I chopped several oyster mushrooms and lightly cooked them over medium heat with olive oil and salt + pepper
  • Add the pasta to a serving dish and ladle the sauce. Serve accordingly, and top with the cooked oyster mushrooms

Planted Based Mushroom Bolognese with Banza Pasta | Vegan & Gluten Free

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge 1/60 + Coloring Books

Each year I try to make the effort to read more because sometimes life gets very busy but I could never forget the magic and happiness that comes from reading a book. This year my goal is 60, which isn't exactly my drive, what matters most is making the time to do something I love. Be it on winter bus rides with rain fall against the window, 20 minutes or 20 pages right before I drift to slumber. The way I feel about books is the same way Rory did in the Gilmore Girls episode "Road Trip to Harvard"  after she witnesses all the libraries and feels dismayed because "she hasn't read enough"

You can join me on Goodreads, read my reviews or start you own reading challenge

The first book I finished in 2016 is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I am a fan of his writing and you can read my review here I found this book a rather quick read but really caught me off guard (its always awkward when your certain characters catch you for a twist...) I really recommend it if you appreciate underground, Jim Henson/Alice in Wonderland realms and sort-of self discovery.

1/60 book reading challenge

Another thing I am trying this year is the ever popular adult coloring books. I remember having many coloring books as a kid and its very admirable to see them in use for art therapy - however the main reason for me is another "take time for yourself" although I love drawing and painting my own concepts, its fun to runaway in these to unwind or step back. This one is Color Me Calm My lovely friend Hannah gave me these wooden color pencils for Christmas (you can't sharpen them but you can file them down using a sharp knife) and she also painted this beautiful white-fox on wood. Feel fee to check out her art & purchase some

art books and pencils

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Winter reflections; New Year Manifestations

Happy New Year! I for one could not be more refreshed and content that we have made it through another cycle, entered winter, and I feel really energized to start a new chapter.

I want to spend my days  living consciously, spend them creating and discovering what makes me happy. Even if you don't think its possible or in your reach I encourage you to to spend your time in the pursuit of what makes you feel alive, safe, driven. Spend your moments as you wish to remember them. Even you find yourself alone, be your own company & fall ridiculously in love with yourself. Years from now I want to reflect and find that I spent my days living, saying "no to doubt" and "yes" to self-care and nourishment as well as discovering freedom in going forward.

While I do have "goals" for this new year, and that can be a controversial concept for some, I watched this wonderful video by Lauren Toyota (also a vegan cook for Hot For Food) about manifesting, visualizing & ultimately what I took from it: carving out what you want for yourself. Please check it out! I am sharing here what my own 2016 Manifestations are. Perhaps they can be seen as goals but I liken them more to mental seeds or moldboards we create

2016 Manifestations
Adventure always
Cultivate good genuine friendships & camaraderie
Worry Less
Wake up each morning & read for a while
Continually declutter-donate
Believe + encourage yourself
Be more mindful
(Try) to meditate
Get in Nature, imbibe it
Do something that scares you
SMILE. Embrace freckles.
(eventually) wake up at dawn.
Help animals
Follow your bliss
Disconnect, recharge when needed
Try to bring out the best in people.