Is it ok to eat peanut butter?

I want to work on listening to and being more in tune with my hunger cues. I need to. I only have a few symptoms lingering at this point in my healing journey and I think that’s a result of a few remaining pieces to be healed. My relationship with food being one of them. I have a feeling that if I work on and heal this relationship, eliminating this stressor from my life will have a significant positive impact on my physical health.

I’m definitely feeling more alive these days. Others are seeing it too – in the fullness of my face, the glow I radiate, and the more energetic presence I emit. In fact, I would say I feel more (consistently) alive and present than I have in a long time. My drive and passion for life is slowly starting to return. It’s empowering to see, and feel, this dramatic change in my health. But I know that if I want to sustain this vibrant health and continue on this upward trajectory I have more to heal.

Almost daily over the past two years, I find myself asking my mom if it would be ok for me to eat insert perfectly healthy food here. I don’t know what makes me believe my mom to be an authoritative figure on health and nutrition…in fact, she’s far from it. But I guess it’s easier to hear her voice than to hear my own internal voice over the millions of voices and opinions that are competing in my own head. These impossible questions for my mom are usually driven by these internal debates…I think I’ve eaten too much fat today…no, my body needs it to heal. Fat is calorie dense, it’s energy. NO, fat is overburdening my liver! Oh no…what about salt?? I’ve definitely eaten too much salt today…now I can’t have salt for dinner. I need to replan my dinner to something light…something with low or no salt or fat. I’m not really hungry…but I planned to eat a date and banana smoothie before dinner…I should eat it anyway because I want to gain weight…ugh now I’m not hungry for dinner! But I need to eat this meal to get enough calories and nutrients in…I’m so full but I need to finish my plate…ugh I feel like shit…why did I do this to myself again?!?!

It’s like I’m Alice, falling down the rabbit hole, not knowing which way’s up or down and spiralling out of control, unable to make any decision. I guess this is why I turn to my mom, when my internal knowing fails me, I look to her for support. I look for any support at all.

Some days, some very rare days, my stress around food is non-existent. On these days I finally find peace with food, at least, temporarily. But I can’t seem to figure out why. Why these days? What is the common factor behind those glorious stress-free days. These days are usually days on which I’m feeling really well – or am I just feeling really well because I’m not stressing about food and not ignoring my body cues? It’s a vicious cycle and a tough one to break, even with awareness!

Even as I write this, I find myself thinking about food…what should I have (notice I don’t say what do I actually want and feel like) for breakfast? If I have peanut butter on toast, will that be too much fat if I have my leftover chickpea pancakes with tahini sauce for lunch? I’d be having a nut/seed butter twice in one day…oh no…and I pan-fried the pancake in a bit of oil…and roasted the vegetables in oil too…that’s a lot of fat…and no omega 3 fatty acids…maybe I need to add in some omega 3s…that would be healthier for my body right? I think I’d feel better if I ate a better balance of fats? Screw it…maybe I should just have fruit for breakfast…it’s easy, healthy and fat-free!

UGH. I’m so tired of this dialogue. I’m so tired of this stress. I’m so tired of being in the kitchen and making food 24/7! Maybe that’s the true reason that I’m in the kitchen…maybe my constant cooking and presence in the kitchen is not a result of me flowing with my healing after all…maybe its a result of me desperately grasping for control over my healing, over my life.

This unhealthy relationship with food is not new to me. I struggled with my relationship with food for years when I was younger. I had finally found myself in a healthier place with food in the few months leading up to my diagnoses. I was eating out a restaurants without fearing every ingredient, consuming the occasional baked good without guilt over the sugar content, and even adding in a touch of oil to my own home cooking just because it tasted good! But my health challenges over these last two years have brought all those fears and unhealthy behaviours with food back tenfold. I even started to blame that newfound food freedom as the ultimate cause of my health diagnoses! How could I be so carefree with oil? With eating out? It was those damn (but oh so delicious!) donuts I ate for my birthday!

With so many doctors (who, by the way, often have no education in nutrition) and practitioners telling me what I can and cannot eat with “my disease” and the healing communities I look to for alternative guidance and support promoting certain foods and villainizing others, it’s no wonder I’m confused!! From all that I’ve learned and seen, both from my own experience and knowledge and the experiences and knowledge of others, is that health and nutrition is completely individual. It’s completely individual because we are completely individual. My biology is different from your biology. My tastes are unique from your tastes. What makes me feel good may not make you feel good. And let me tell you, celery juice, especially in the cold Canadian winters, does not make me feel good!! We need to silence the outer noise in order to hear our own internal voice, our intuition. Deep down, I think we all know that it’s simple – eat closer to the earth and listen to your body. Because only your own body truly knows what’s good for you. And my goodness if peanut butter brings you joy, then I give you full permission to allow yourself that joy!

Update: I ate that toast for breakfast…with a thick layer of peanut butter I might add! Because when I silenced the noise, that’s what my body was truly craving. I even went back for seconds because this healing, hungry woman was just not satisfied!!

I procrastinate.

I procrastinate. Especially when it comes to my creative practice, and 90% of the time, I procrastinate by cooking. If cooking is what I default to over art, should I be pursuing the culinary arts instead? How do I determine my true path?

When it comes to my career or future in art, I worry about not being motivated enough. If the sight of fresh juicy red tomatoes, or the thought of freshly baked bread are enough to distract me from my creative practice, am I on the right path? Or is cooking my true creative practice? Instead of working on the handful of fibre art projects I have on the go or learning some new knots or techniques, I spent 2 hours in the kitchen today making a panini. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit I spent 2 hours making a sandwich, but my goodness was it ever a good sandwich! A gourmet sandwich I might even add. I made a fennel frond pesto, roasted butternut squash and beets, maple miso mustard tofu, and homemade vegan cheese. Mmm…my mouth is watering just thinking about it! And yes, this was all on fresh bread that I made on Sunday instead of touching my wall hanging (which is slowly starting to collect dust).

With my full day of cooking today, I was inspired to start a business. A business cooking nourishing whole-food plant-based soups, soup toppings (think cheeses, cashew creams, nut mixes, all the good stuff) and bread using my health experiences over the past two years. I speak from experience that it is so hard to find prepared gluten-free whole-food plant-based food that does not contain a bunch of additives and preservatives. And such food is key for healing from chronic illness. On top of this, I could bring in my design skills to create recipe books for customers that illustrate how to use the bread, soups, and toppings to help them get creative in their own kitchens and get them excited about healing through this lifestyle.

However, yesterday, a day spent in my studio space, I wanted to start a fibre art business. A business that explores the connection of using art as a meditative, healing practice. Art, and having a personal creative practice, has been integral in my healing journey as it has allowed me transport myself into that meditative flow state. A state that I so struggled to reach through meditation itself, and trust me when I say I tried all the different types of meditation! On top of sharing my message through the physical art I create, I could create books and ebooks, courses and coaching programs that again, serve the purpose of helping others explore their creativity to help them heal.

I’ve been caught up in the belief that when I cook or find myself in the kitchen, I’m procrastinating from working on art, from nurturing my creative practice. But maybe I’m not procrastinating; maybe I’m holding onto the belief that I’m procrastinating. So if I’m not procrastinating, maybe I’m flowing; flowing through my healing. And maybe I’m just swimming back to shore, to the familiarity and safety of the kitchen, when things get too challenging, too uncomfortable in my fibre art exploration.

But maybe I’m not procrastinating; maybe I’m holding onto the belief that I’m procrastinating.

I recently listened to a podcast that talked about the incubation effect. You do all the research, buy all the materials, do all the preparations to do the work but then you go and do something else – in my case, cook or bake – and that’s when you get that aha moment. You need this incubation effect. You need to give your brain a rest. This doesn’t necessarily have to be 10 minutes of meditation a day. It could be 10 minutes of silence while cooking, driving, journalling or even taking a shower…the key is to just be. Be with your thoughts. Be with yourself. Just being, can bring incredible breakthroughs. So maybe that’s why I find myself retreating to the kitchen when I feel challenged or stuck in my creative practice. My mind is looking for that rest, those moments of ease to just be and bring that incredible breakthrough that I’ve been looking for.

It’s safe to trust her.

I’ve been having an abundance of creative energy flowing through me again which is nice. It feels natural. It feels like a part of me is coming back. I think this return of creative energy is a result of me now having more space to receive it. And less blockages, significantly less blockages. It’s been a tiresome process but I’ve slowly been knocking those barriers down over the past few weeks as I’ve been doing a lot of inner artist work.

Where my struggle lies though is not only in warmly welcoming these new and more expansive ideas, but also in trusting that it is safe to follow this flow of creative energy. Instead of flowing with these ideas when they brush through me, I’ll resist them. If I don’t try to do something else completely, I’ll try to multitask. Netflix and chill create? It seems ideal at first, but one episode of Love is Blind turns into another, and another. My sketchbook still lays blank in front of me; my fibres still untouched. Because of this habit, of surrounding myself with this external noise, I can never truly get into that creative flow state.

Why am I resisting this creative energy? When I don’t flow with this energy, with these new expansive ideas, I can literally feel the internal frustration in every essence of my physical and spiritual being. This habit I’ve developed is a pollutant that drowns out my inner voice. I’ve come to realize this over the past couple of weeks and I’ve never felt a greater urge to cancel my Netflix subscription, to remove some of the noise from my life. As I sit in my work space with Netflix streaming in the background, I can feel my inner artist screaming to be heard, begging for space. Yet, I ignore her. Why? Is it out of fear? Fear to be alone with her? Fear that she will abandon me as quickly as she arrived? Do I feel she abandoned me before? The truth is, my inner artist and I have had a rocky journey together over the past few years. A journey where she wasn’t in the passenger seat next to me and a reliable steady paycheck was the destination. Maybe it was I who abandoned her? Because I didn’t feel safe to trust her. To trust that it is safe to follow her. To trust that she will lead me. So I suppose this resistance is learned, learned from the journeys I didn’t take with her.

Moving forward, I definitely want to take a step back from Netflix, social media and the like because I can clearly see, and feel, how they do not serve me or my inner artist. I want remove the pollution so that I can continue to welcome these new and more expansive ideas with open arms and can create a safe space to listen to that inner artist of mine, to get to know her. So that eventually, I can learn that it is safe to trust her, to trust that it is safe to follow her, to trust that she will not lead me wrong.

Update: I’ve cancelled my monthly Netflix subscription and my goodness does it ever feel freeing! I didn’t realize how heavy that chain felt until I let it go. I’ll admit, I had a tight grip on all of the excruciating, intimate drama of Love is Blind…I knew it wasn’t good for me but it’s like that delicious, stupidly addicting bag of chips that you just cant put down! To my surprise though, I haven’t missed having Netflix at all. I mean, I’ve had the rare urge to curl up in bed and watch a good movie on those gloomy weekend nights, but I’ve really been enjoying curling up with a good book instead. Or, even putting on some good music and pulling out some fibres to play with. And instead of watching others live their lives through reality TV, I’ve been inspired to live my life more fully once again. And maybe even pick back up on my dating life after all this isolation these last two years? Although, I don’t know that I could produce any romance in my own life that is as dramatic, toxic and undeniably gripping…but I am quite ok with that. After all, in my own reality, less pollution is more aspirational. Most importantly though, I’ve been inspired to make more time for my creative practice because in nurturing my inner artist, that is what will lead me to living a more fulfilling life.

Is fibre art a lesser art form?

I asked my mom recently if she still had any of her old macrame materials and supplies from when she explored the craft back in the day. “No,” she replied, “I didn’t think I would need those supplies to pass on to my kids…especially a talented artist like you”. What is that supposed to mean? Does she feel fibre art is below me and my artistic talent? Does she not see it as an art form at all? Is she disappointed that I’m choosing to dedicate time to exploring it? Based on her response, and the energy that I picked up on during our brief conversation, it seems that she feels fibre art is a lesser art form compared to the digital and traditional illustrations she is familiar with me creating.

She says where I shine is through my illustrations. But how can I truly shine as my most radiant and authentic self if illustrating currently drains me, depleting my energy to a dim and dull version of my true self? In trying to create work that was unique and original, yet conformed to the emerging commercial illustration trends, my creative process slowly evolved into something that was uncomfortable, unfamiliar and unenjoyable. I no longer “lost” myself in that oh-so desirable flow state because my creative process was no longer authentically me.

I’m not saying no to illustration. In fact, I can see how illustration can be woven (pun intended) into fibre art. Inspiration has even come knocking at my door, opening my eyes to the possibilities. What I am saying is that illustration, in the way that I came to know and practice it, does not appeal to me at the moment. What I loved most about illustrating was being able to transport myself into that flow state, and it was the process of creating that brought me there. I know I need to create. It’s what makes me feel most human, most alive. It’s what allows me to express those feelings and emotions that I struggle to make sense of. But I need to step away from the digital revolution of contemporary illustration that I lost my true self in. I need to say no to digital and return to simpler means. I feel called to work with my hands, to get back to my roots. Playing with fibres helps me connect my past to the present moment and opens a door for me to tap into my ancestral wisdom.

Over the past few months, I’ve embraced fibre art as a platform for meditation. The tactile and engaging nature of working with fibres calms my anxious mind. Oh how I’ve missed working with my hands! It grounds me in the present moment and connects me to my breath. As I meditate on the symbolism behind each knot, I find myself using my knotting practice to manifest intentions. For the first time in a long time, fibre art has offered me a meditative break from my life. It brings me back into that flow state of expanded energy, of inspiration.

But do I feel fibre art is a lesser art form? I feel it’s just…different. I feel that at this point in my exploration, I can’t compare it to the years that I’ve spent practicing, studying and immersing myself in the world of illustration through the mediums of acrylic, oil, and watercolour paints, or graphite, charcoal and pastels, or even through digital technology. I’m just taking my first steps in the fibre world, exploring and discovering the fibres, textures, and techniques for the first time. It’s like being in kindergarten, marvelling in wonder and curiosity at the feel of the cool wet paint on my fingers as I smear them across the blank white construction paper. To me, fibre art is just a different medium. It’s a new way for me to express myself. It’s a new material that allows me to explore a new, more authentic process from the beginning. As an art form, fibre art has the potential to evolve into something bigger and better for me. After all, it’s currently the medium I feel most curious about, most called to explore. So I’m choosing to follow this curiosity. And who knows, maybe this exploration of fibre art will end up being a gateway for me back to a more authentic creative process with the familiar analogue mediums I originally came to know and practice in my illustration career.