Gifts from the sea

Photo by (and plaque from) Sharon Tessandori

Veggies: Simple spinach salads have been rocking my lunches and dinners since returning from NC
Wine: Very appropriately, I enjoyed a glass (or two) of The Dreaming Tree this weekend

For two weeks, I was in my dream world ... living at the beach, working in a kitchen, and connecting with beautiful people on their journey of personal and professional development. This experience delighted my senses and my intellect in ways I didn't anticipate; gifts from the sea and from others were abundant. Here's a sampling of what I received:
  • My first significant kitchen tattoo. Just as my mind and heart are permanently changed by this experience, so is a 1-inch line of skin on the back of my right hand. Oven mitts aren't just a fashion statement, apparently; they protect your hand from getting seared by a 450 degree oven element. I know this sounds strange, but I already love this scar ... it reminds me that I'm tough (the cooking went on, even though at times it hurt like hell) and that I still have so much to learn about being a chef.

Photo by Misty Pittman

  • Working in bare feet and a pony tail every day. This was a realization of one of my Mondo Beyondo dreams to be able to wear flip-flops and pigtails to work. Beforehand, I was concerned that my typically desk-bound body wouldn't handle the transition to being on my feet for hours on end, but I managed to work in bare feet perfectly. Well, except for when I dropped a glass blender pitcher on my toe. Maybe there's a reason for oven mitts and shoes in the kitchen?
  • Experiencing cooking as a creative and intellectual activity. Cooking is typically an escape for me. If I've had a bad day or I'm feeling stressed or I'm procrastinating, I often seek refuge in the kitchen to zone out (and to get snippy with anyone or any dog that gets in my way--sorry DP & Rusty). Here, I was fully present and fully engaged in the moment. I did follow recipes--my beloved binder and I were rarely separated--but I was solely responsible for prepping and executing, which took a significant amount of physical, intellectual, and creative energy. I was multi-tasking, but my mind was focused on a single goal: ensuring that every dish was ready to go at lunch time. There were times I was hustling, but I also made it a point to notice how beautiful yellow squash slices are (I'm serious--take a look!) and to appreciate the skill and precision required to (almost) perfectly dice 6 cups of zucchini for calabacitas. I felt energized by and accomplished in my work, and I loved the short-term cycle of prep-cook-serve for each meal. 
  • A schedule and flow that suited my preferences. My day always started with a yoga practice, often outside and facing the rising sun, that was sometimes energizing, sometimes gentle, sometimes long, sometimes just a pose or two; I let myself do whatever I thought I needed. I loved the quietness of the kitchen when I was at work (the silence was broken only by my daily, or sometimes hourly, clumsiness with pans, bowls, dishes, etc.). My introverted self felt nurtured from being with my knife, cutting board, and veggies for a few hours, which then allowed me to have genuine and natural energy in connecting with others at breaks, meals, and in the evenings. The many conversations and connections, both serious and silly, were highlights of my days.

Photo by Sharon Tessandori
  • Remembering why I love yoga (and yogis) so much. Yoga is so much more than poses (asanas); the philosophy is so rich and so powerful. If you really learn it, you can't help but to be changed by it. Life feels different during and after a 200-hour training, and this was a wonderful refresher of what originally drew me to practice and to teach yoga. I haven't taught regularly for more than a year, but I'm inspired by the lovely yogis I met to consider how I might incorporate teaching into my life again. I'm fortunate that they've included me in their electronic worlds so I can continue to be inspired by how they're applying their learning.
  • Being supported every moment by DP. My husband rocks, in case you don't already know that. He is my biggest cheerleader and fan, and he encourages me to learn and grow at every opportunity. From assisting with the prep work of taste-testing and recipe-selecting to managing the not-so-exciting tasks that didn't stop while I was in my two-week dream world, he played a huge role in my being able to enjoy this adventure successfully and with complete peace of mind. 
The lessons and gifts will continue, and I will continue to be mindful of how to apply and appreciate them. More to come...


  1. Very touching Jen. You were such joy to have at the yoga mansion. You are part of the sisterhood. Your words bring tears to my eyes, truly! I love you!!

  2. Jen, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this... I could feel the joy and the richness of your experience all the way here. I'm so happy for you!

    I love your blog post title too by the way: "Gifts from the Sea" - have you read the book by the same title by Anne Morrow Lindbergh?


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