Each time I step onto my yoga mat, I try to remind myself that today I have come to my practice with everything I need. Exactly as I am today is exactly where I need to be. Everything that led up to this first inhale brought me to this point and I don’t need to change a single thing. Whether my hamstrings are tight, and they always are, or if I can’t stand on my head today, I tell myself it’s okay. Right here, right now, I am here and I am exactly where I need to be, just as I am.
I’ve admitted quite a few times that I am a major perfectionist. While I feel that I am very compassionate toward others, the person I am often the least forgiving of is myself. This is certainly something I am working on but it is not as easy as I’d like. All of my life I have been in competition, but not with just anyone. I have been in competition with myself. I cut myself zero slack and expect that I will rise above and beyond my own personal expectations. My mom used to always laugh and ask who ever put so much pressure on me to get all A’s in school. If I didn’t get an A on a test, my reasoning was that I hadn’t studied hard enough and was a slacker. For so much of my late teens and 20s my relationship with my body and food was far from positive because I expected no less than perfection. None of these ideals for myself were realistic, but they controlled my life.
The first time I really faced this issue head on was when I started yoga. It was so foreign to me to be still, to be quiet, and to breathe. Letting go of attachment to the end results and letting go of the need to achieve perfection in a pose was so new and yet such a challenge. Everything else I had ever done was just to burn calories and try to get toned abs. What was this?
The one thing that I think my need for perfection stems from is the need to be in control. I want to be in control of everything in my life, always. This is not feasible but somehow I continue to seek it and exhaust myself in doing so. What yoga has slowly begun to teach me is that there are ebbs and flows, there are fluctuations in the body and in life and that my reaction and response to these fluctuations is what can make my life either beautiful or absolute misery. For so long, I fought the ebbs and flows. I pushed and I pulled and I fought to stay on top, and I was so very tired. All the time. Everyday.
The last time we were in Chicago, we came across a mosaic made entirely of 1 cm square Lego tiles. Thousands upon thousands of these tiny pieces came together to make a beautiful picture of the city line at night. I studied the piece in such fascination. It was amazing that you could walk up and see each and every little piece and then step away and see how all these tiny Legos came together to make this breathtaking masterpiece. Recently, I was going through old photos and came across the picture I had taken of it. As I studied it, I thought about the fact that if even one piece of this artwork was missing, it would be incomplete. And if one piece of me was missing then so would I. Without my flaws and imperfections, I wouldn’t be who I am right now in this very moment. If in fact each and every time I come to my mat I promise myself I am perfect exactly as I am and exactly where I need to be, then I have to accept that my flaws and my imperfections are part of that. Without them, and without the trials and the tough times in my life, I would not be who I am today, right now. Likewise, without all of the happy moments, the celebrations and the achievements in my life I would not be who I am right now either. Yoga has taught me this new concept of acceptance: acceptance of who I am and where I am now; acceptance of the fact that every piece of my journey has come together to form this beautiful masterpiece that is me; and acceptance that being a perfectionist and being perfect are two very different things.
So each day, as my feet touch the mat and I begin to breathe I realize that I am learning that perfection is a real thing, that it is me, each and every piece of me in this moment, just as I am.
I am sure all of that reading made you very hungry! Either that or you skipped the top so you could scroll right down to see what’s cooking! My new favorite breakfast, lunch or dinner meal is a combination of sweet potatoes, black beans, spinach topped with a fried egg. This could easily suit any meal of the day. It can be used as a side dish with your favorite meat or protein or as a full meal.
Have you ever sauteed sweet potatoes? They are amazing. They get nice brown and crisp outside and soft on the inside. The only thing is that they can be very easily burned if you don’t cut the pieces thin enough because they won’t have enough time to cook all the way through. I always make sure to cut them into thin pieces so as not to have blackened sweet potatoes.
This meal is an easy weeknight dinner that you can throw together in no time. I hope you like it!
Spinach, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Saute
- 1 large sweet potato cut into thin bite sized pieces
- 3 cups spinach fresh or frozen
- 2 cups black beans or one can, rinsed
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 T coconut oil
- 1-3 eggs fried (Depending on how many you are serving)
- Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat.
- Add coconut oil and melt and coat pan.
- Add sweet potatoes and saute until golden brown on the outside and soft. (This may take 9-12 minutes and possibly longer)
- Add in spinach and stir regularly to cook.
- When spinach is fully wilted, add garlic, cumin and chili powder.
- Turn to very low heat and add the black beans and stir until heated. (The beans can dry out quickly if you put them in on too high of heat. Wait until the very last minute to add them and keep the heat very low.)
- Serve immediately on it's own or add a fried egg on top.