Being Human: making mistakes and loving yourself through it.

Being Human: making mistakes and loving yourself through it.

Indian Cow, To be fearless, yogini

Being Human

Isn’t it crazy to think of the emotional roller coaster we can put ourselves through when something we are working on doesn’t go as expected? Whether it’s due to an unintentional blunder, variables outside our control or maybe just a plain old mistake on our end–do you love yourself and move on or out of fear do you move into self-attack mode?

Well friends, some food for thought— How we meet ourselves when we make mistakes not only feeds our self-esteem but also empowers those around us to potentially do the same. 

Making Mistakes

Over the years, I’ve learned that we are our harshest critics, and can hold an emotional grudge against ourselves longer than any rival. When I say an emotional grudge, I mean we have the ability to beat ourselves over the head with things like, “what was I thinking”, “how could I let that happen”, “I knew I couldn’t do it”, “I should have tried harder”.  If left unattended…these thoughts can get ugly.

Flipping the Script

So in recent years I’ve been proactively trying to flip the script.

What would you say to a co-worker who’s upset because a presentation didn’t go as planned at work, a friend who’s embarrassed  because of a meal she prepared was a flop or to an aunt who’s disheartened because the scale is not moving in the direction that she hoped it would be moving in?

Would you be judge-y?

Would you be compassionate?

Would you help them find the silver lining?

Loving Ourselves

So, why not do all of that + more for ourselves?

I’m not sure where our inner harsh critic comes from, but I’m beginning to think it’s a self-defense mechanism–maybe if we put ourselves down before anyone else does, it’ll be easier to take if someone says something, holds it against us or judges us for it. Basically, out of fear, we’ll poke a hole in our self-esteem before someone else does.

Unfortunately, the holes we poke are usually much deeper and much more often…therefore making us that much more vulnerable when someone does take a jab at us.

Making a mistake and taking responsibility for it not only takes a lot of humility and courage, but I think is more effective when we can do it with self-love…because after all, these incidents are just a reminder that we are all human.

So friends, instead of meeting ourselves with criticism, judgement and negativity in situations that can already be hard, wouldn’t it be great if we each made a conscious choice to meet ourselves, wherever we are— with love, compassion and kindness like we would a friend, a sister or co-worker. That way, we can grow from these experiences; and as our self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-love become stronger, we empower those around us to do the same.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so leave a comment below!

Lots of love,
Kajal

Decadent Chocolate Chia Pudding

Decadent Chocolate Chia Pudding

Guilt-free Indulging

Chia pudding is such an delicious, comforting and healthy option for satisfying an eternal sweet tooth, like the one my husband and I seem to have these days :).

I make a batch of these decadent little jars of yumminess every few weeks…for a little guilt-free indulging. My favorite thus far has been a decadent chocolate version that I top with a few almond slivers, a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips and a handful of berries :)—raspberries are my favorite.

Fast, Easy & Fun!

As usual, the best part is that it’s easy, fast and fun to make— a great snack or dessert to make with kids! I use six, half pint (8 oz) mason jars that I reuse every week for grab and go treats like this one. I actually only fill the jars half way with the chia pudding filling, then cover and refrigerate, so that when I’m ready to serve, there’s room to add the variety of  goodies on top.

These jars are also great if you’re throwing a dinner party or want to bring something refreshing and easy to transport to a picnic. Either way, once you add the toppings and serve them to your guests, these little guys will definitely have your friends and family raving about how delicious and beautiful they look :)!

I Want to See & Hear …

I’d love to SEE and HEAR how this recipe turns out for you! If you’re on instagram or Facebook and take pics of your creation, tag Wholesome Soul in your post! Or, leave me a comment below!

Lots of love,
Kajal

DECADENT CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING

Ingredients

  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 10 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter (oil)
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 6 half pint (8 oz) mason jars

Optional Garnishes:

  • almond slivers
  • mini chocolate chips
  • berries/ fruit of your choice

Directions

  • Place all ingredients, EXCEPT for chia seeds into blender (I use a Vitamix) and blend until smooth
  • Then using a spoon, stir in chai seeds until thoroughly mixed
  • Pour 4 oz into each jar (if you’re using half pint mason jars, that’s half way full)
  • Place lids on and refrigerate for at least 6 hours
  • Then, when ready to serve, garnish with 1 tbsp almond slivers, 1 tsp mini chocolate chips and 1/3-1/2 cup fresh fruit

ENJOY! 

Notes

Vegan: Completely vegan :)!
Gluten Free: Completely gluten free :)!
Yogic Cooking Notes: Ideally, it’s not great to eat cold foods, so take out of fridge 20 mins before so that pudding can be eaten at room temperature. 

 

 

Farmer’s Market fare

Farmer’s Market fare

It’s that time of year, Farmer’s Market’s around the country are opening up for the season! This weekend we’ll be visiting our local market in Old Town Alexandria. I LOVE seeing row after row of fresh fruits and veggies all lined up…these visits always get the wheels in my mind turning and my taste buds geared for a delicious meal.

What I also love about Farmer’s Markets is how it brings everyone out–the young, the old and all those in between. It’s such a great, low-key family affair.

This weekend I hope I can find some fresh Anaheim Chillies and sweet strawberries. We’re going to have a little fiesta and I would love to make homemade, eggless Chile Rellenos, rice, beans with all the sides…guac, pico, sour cream and salad. And then top it off with my homemade, Easy-Peezy Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.

Do you have a farmer’s market that you go to? What’s your favorite thing to enjoy?

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
Lots of love,

Kajal

 

Change Makers + National Small Business Week

Change Makers + National Small Business Week

Change Makers

This week I had the honor to be invited by Etsy to a Small Business Roundtable hosted by the National Democratic Caucus on Capital Hill—it was awesome. The event was about 2 hours and there were people from all over the country. It was amazing to hear from such a wide variety of entrepreneurs and the issues that they are facing since there were big-small businesses, traditional small businesses and then micro-businesses, like myself.

There were a host of issues brought up like: sales taxes, tax breaks, international shipping regulations, access to more relevant business resources and how to tap into funding. The committee was really great about engaging with the entire group and making it clear that our voices matter.

Julie Stitzel, the Etsy lobbyist was fantastic to work with and I was honored to have the opportunity to represent the 1.6 million Etsy sellers. Starting your own business whether on the side or full-time take a lot of courage, enthusiasm, patience and hard work. I’m really grateful I got the chance be a part of these discussions…because very often, you can feel like your voice doesn’t matter. But in reality, I’m learning with a lot of patience and perseverence, we all have the ability to be Change Makers….one voice at a time.

Planting our future meals

Planting our future meals

 Envisioning our feasts

I love this time of year; when all the envisioning we did in the winter, of the goodness we want to feast on during the summer months, goes into motion :). For the past few years, at the beginning of spring, the hubs and I have been starting our own seeds for our little garden patch. I absolutely love watching them go from seeds in dirt, to little seedlings peeking through, to full on shoots ready to be picked up for a new season in the big leagues–outside!

Deciding every year what to plant is so hard…since we only have so much room….and time :). Tomatoes, squash, greens, peppers, herbs, berries…yum! These categories are just the tip of the iceberg; picking out varieties from there is a whole other ball game! For instance, the Tomato family is quite big; it’s not just one Mr. & Mrs. Tomato…it’s Cherry, German Johnson, Golden Jubilee, Sunsugar, Green Zebra, Hillbilly, Cherokee, San Marzano….and the list goes on and on…and on. I’m learning that that’s the beauty of starting from seed….the sky’s really the limit!

Getting our hands dirty

Growing up I was never the gardening type…the idea of getting my hands dirty was not too high on my priority list. But then I married a boy who loves playing in dirt and has an amazing green thumb. The first year we were married I wasn’t an eager beaver to get out there but over the years I’ve grown to love the process–even the weeding :). There is something magical about gardening, like painting; weeding is like prepping your blank canvas, picking out seeds is like picking out your colors and then planting your garden is like slowly adding color to your canvas…

The difference is, a garden is a creative collaboration with nature that has so many moving parts outside of our control…sometimes seeds don’t take, some weeks are super dry and some are super wet, and then there are hailstorms or freak frosts that come early or late in the season. But, for the most part in my experience, the sun and the rain and all the other elements seem to work in harmony so that we end up with quite a feast.

Waiting for their arrival

We just planted our babies this past weekend…and now the waiting game begins :). Can’t wait to share pics of our bounty + some new recipes this summer :)! Do you have a veggie or herb garden? What did you plant this year? Leave a comment below…would love to hear what fresh delights you will be enjoying this summer.

Lots of fresh, green love to you,

Kajal

 

Nature’s bounty: a pantry for home remedies

Nature’s bounty: a pantry for home remedies

cilantro parsley tea, spring cleanse

Using Nature’s Bounty for spring remedies

It’s starting to feel like spring….the grass is turning green, the flowers are blossoming, the bird’s are chirping….and I’ve started sneezing :). What about you? Does the pollen, fresh grasses and the blossoming beauties in your neck of the woods get you sneezy and stuffy?

Several years ago, I attended a really great workshop by Jen Jensen and Phil Madden of Sonoma Valley Acupuncture and Herb Center called Wellness 101: Spring Remedies. In their usual, customary style, Jen and Phil shared a wealth of information:).  My biggest take away from that afternoon was on the importance of taking time to do some kind of internal spring cleanse. They explained that by taking the time to do a gentle cleanse in the spring, we can better support our liver to get ready for the summer when our body is busy helping us stay cool, fight allergies and keep active.

So this weekend, I plan on starting a mini-cleanse by indulging in my favorite Spring time ritual, sipping Parsley Cilantro Tea. Jen said that doing something as simple as making this fresh tea and drinking it everyday for a week can really help to gently cleanse your system. I’ve done this for the past few years and I have to say, it’s an awesome home remedy!

Everyday Wonder Herbs

As a kid I never understood why my mom and grandmother topped everything off with cilantro; dals, curries, homemade breads, you name it and it probably had cilantro in it :). But now as an adult, I have great appreciation for the amazing herbal knowledge that my ancestors had. They knew nature’s bounty was more than just for satisfying the belly, but contained great remedies for overall well-being.  Both cilantro and parsley have a wealth of nutritional properties and together these herbs contain vitamins and minerals that are amazing for fighting disease and for preventative healthcare…..

Cilantro is a powerful antioxidant, digestive aid, a great source of iron and magnesium, reduces minor swelling, disinfects and helps detoxify the body, stimulates the endocrine glands (great for someone like me that has Thyroid Hashimoto’s), lowers blood sugar, is a natural antifungal agent for skin disorders (like eczema), contains immune-boosting properties, acts as an expectorant, helps with cramps & regulating periods, is great for the eyes and last but not least, helps promote healthy liver function.

Parsley kills bacteria, has high doses of vitamin C that assists with better absorption of iron, dissolves cholesterol, is a natural diuretic (which helps eliminate excess water for your system…great for weight loss), assists with regulating menstrual cramps, helps balance hormones and purifies the blood,

Who wants to do a Gentle Spring Cleanse?

So starting this weekend I’ll be sipping on Cilantro Parsley tea for 7-10 days (April 23- May 2) and would love to have you join me. There’s just something so communal about  cleanses and the idea of getting ready for the warm weather and all the lovely blooms that will be coming and going from now until the fall together.

All you need is a 1 bunch of cilantro, 1 bunch of parsley and water (the recipe for the actual tea is below). I generally make about 4 cups of it in the morning and then sip on it throughout the day….in addition to my usual routine (meals, movement, work). And then after the initial 7-10 days, I continue to enjoy the tea sporadically throughout the warm weather season.  It’s pretty simple and super refreshing.

I’d love to hear if you’re joining me, let me know in the comments below and make sure to join our facebook group, Wholesome Soul Living. Our facebook group area is where we’ll be sharing our Parsley and Cilantro tales :). Lastly, if you know of any other great home remedies for the spring/allergy season, please share below!

Happy Cleansing,
Kajal

Cilantro Parsley Tea
Author: 
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Parsley, washed and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup Cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4½ cups Water (the ½ cup is for water that will burn off during the process.
Instructions
  1. In a small pot combine water, parsley and cilantro.
  2. Bring to a boil and strain.
  3. Enjoy warm or at room temperature all day.
Notes
Great to sip on through out the day. For best results in the spring, sip throughout the day for 7-10 days in a row.

 

Chaitra Navratri: A special kind of New Moon

Chaitra Navratri: A special kind of New Moon

Honoring the Divine

Today is the start of a new moon, that falls in the “special variety” of new moons. For those of you  not familiar with the Indian Lunar calendar, it is the traditional calendar by which yogi’s have observed holy days & festivals for thousands of years. This new moon, falls in the month of Chaitri and signifies the beginning of a 10 day period of time called Chaitri Navratri; a festival for honoring the various forms of the divine goddess.

My meditation teacher, Shri Anandi Ma has always recommended doing extra practices (meditation, japa, yoga, pranayama) during these days as the “flow of spiritual energy is strong” and very supportive for making progress spiritually. She’s always stressed that the amount of “extra practices” is always dependent on your schedule and what’s realistic for you.

Watering your roots

Some years, my yogi friends and I take the ten days off from work and create a 10-day, self-retreat. And other years, I’ve fit in a few extra practices in the morning and replaced evening lounge time with time on my asan (meditation cushion). It’s really up to you, but ideally keeping the same time and same practice everyday is most beneficial.

Our self retreats include anywhere from 4-6 hours of japa (mantra recitation), 1-2 hours of pranayam (breathing techniques) + meditation, some hatha yoga (asanas), lots of spiritual reading, yogic fasting (don’t let the word fasting deceive you :)–yogic fasting is full of all sorts of deliciousness)  and silence. Yes, silence….that means no phone, no emails, no talking… just a lot of retreating to your core, to water your roots so that your soul can flower :). It’s amazing how quiet and calm the mind can get when you turn off the outside and focus on the inside.

Glimpses of the Divine

This year is obviously one of those years where I’m not able to do a self-retreat, but will definitely be fitting in extra practices in the morning/evenings and enjoying some yogic fasting foods. Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a lovely Navratri filled with many glimpses of the divine.

xo,

Kajal

Filling Your Space with Joy

Filling Your Space with Joy

I just read a great article this morning in Oprah Magazine by Life Coach Expert, Martha Beck, called “Interior Decorating For a Happier Life”. In this article she shares her thoughts on how “Your surroundings are an expression of your inner state. You can’t change your life without changing your stuff, and you can’t change your stuff without changing your life”.

She goes on to explain that when you fill your space with joy, you lift your spirit, too. So now instead of filling her space with meaningless objects and piles of debris, she takes the time to fill her rooms with things that “energize and delight” her. There are several elements that make her feel at home:

  1. Artwork– She’s a “megafan” of Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion….so she surrounds herself with wall art and statues her as a reminder to live from a place of unconditional kindness.
  2. Vision Boards– these self-made collages hold her deepest desires and subconsciously remind her of the intentions she’s set out to manifest.
  3. Spirit Guides– These are books that calm and feed her spirit until she feels much braver than she believes she is.
  4. Love Pictures– photographs of friends and families that provide emotional warmth and light
  5. Her Menagerie– inspirational things that aren’t objects but living breathing beings….humans, dogs, horses, squirrels and birds…creatures that each remind her to keep enjoying life, whether through playing, resting, feasting, cuddling, rambling and rejoicing.

 

She ends by posing a series of questions…

“When you look at your home, what kind of self-portrait do you see?”

“Do the things around you spark happiness?”

 

If your answer to the last question is “Not really”, her advice isn’t to throw everything out, but to start decluttering and adding a few new things slowly, one area at a time. Maybe start with a cluttered dresser and clear a space for a small vase with fresh flowers, then move to your bedside and add a framed picture of that makes you smile, then maybe move to your bathroom and add a little something on the wall that inspires you daily to live intentionally or add an inspiring quote to your fridge. The long and the short is, that before you know it, “one day you’ll wake up enveloped by your own most compassionate, wise, creative, loving self in three dimensions and living color. In every way possible, you’ll be at home”.

So, what kind of things do you fill your home with that spark happiness for you?Leave a comment below…I’d love to hear from you!

Xo,

Kajal

Recipe for the happiest people

Recipe for the happiest people

Deep Rooted Happiness

As I get ready to celebrate, my “OMG, I’m almost 40!” birthday–I turn 39 years old next week :), I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness. Not momentary happiness, but the kind that is deeply rooted and not swayed by: material possessions that come and go, misunderstandings that inevitably arise as you engage with those around you or by negative Nelly’s, fear mongers and self-doubts that surely have a way of coming to the surface as you take risks and enter new stages in life. I’m talking about the kind of happiness that you catch a glimpse of in very rare and special people. Their happiness not only leaves an impression on your heart forever but lights you up when you think about them. In my opinion, to know even one person like this in a lifetime is a blessing that provides a treasure trove of wisdom to learn from.

The Magic Ingredient

For me that person was my grandfather. He was so happy and content that you could often catch him laughing in his sleep. It’s not that he had an easy life; on the contrary he had a very hard life, filled with enormous challenges, a lot of hard work, great risk and many adventures. In reflecting and studying his happiness, what I fundamentally have learned is that the magic ingredient was not a person, place or thing, but the perspective and attitude that he greeted the world with. 

In the late 1940’s he took a leap of faith and moved to Africa at a young age with his brothers to explore business opportunities and start a new life. Over the next two decades, he not only built a family food business, but also got married to a  beautiful, strong woman with whom he had 8 children with. With eight mouths to feed and educate, the funds were always tight in their household, yet my grandfather was known to never think twice about giving the $10 he had in his pocket to a stranger or friend in need. He had faith he would be taken care of, so he always gave freely and put those around him before himself. 

Then at the end of the 60’s, when the dictator, Idi Amin came in power and went on a rampage to throw out and kill all Indians in the areas, almost overnight, my grandfather and the whole family had to abandon the home, business and life they had built to flee to safety. His kids by then all varied in age; older ones left on their own, younger ones stayed with them. They all fled to neighboring country’s that were taking in refugees and helping them find new homes in different parts of the world.  But with no email, cell phones or even great telephone services, there was no knowing who was where. But he kept his faith strong and thankfully, all of them made it out safely and were reunited within a few years.

Doubling Up On Sweetness

And, at the age of 55, with no formal education or ability to speak the english language, my grandfather entered Canada as a refugee with my grandmother and a few of their children. At this point, my Grandfather could have become depressed, disgruntled, resentful or even a miser. But instead, he took the lemons that he was given and doubled his helping of faith so that he could continue to serve the sweetest lemonade in the form of kindness, generosity and inspiration.  As one of the hardest and diligent workers I’ve ever witnessed, he gave more money, food and love in generous portions to strangers and friends alike than anyone I know. And in return, he was blessed with another thriving business (that’s still flourishing today) + a lovingly, close-knit family.

Being Resilient

These are just a few examples from his life, but the point is that he could be remembered for the amazing business empire he grew from nothing, but instead what truly stands out for me is the resilience he had to get through the countless struggles he endured over his 90+ years. The magic of his resilience, resulted in a constantly, infectious, happy soul that was rooted in faith, kindness, generosity and love–the core tenants of basic yogic philosophy.  No matter what situation he was in, I always remember him as having a smile on his face, a deep desire to share what he had (money, time, food, a laugh) and an unshakeable faith in God and the assurance that he would always be taken care of. With that amazing attitude, he always produced the sweetest lemonade for himself and everyone around him to enjoy.

Creating Joy That Lives Well Beyond Our Years

So my recipe for the happiest people is not about having the best of everything, but making the best of everything. A mindset rooted in faith, surrender, kindness, generosity and love; virtues that not only help us keep marching forward but help us find the silver lining through all of life’s ups and downs. The best part, is that in turn, our joy leaves an impressions on the hearts of those around us that lives on well beyond our years. I hope that like my grandfather, as a collective, we have the ability to keep a positive perspective, share & love generously with friends and strangers alike and hold onto faith in God and ourselves, so that as our inner worlds emanate joy, we inspire others to do the same.

Have faith, let go and be happy, friends—-life’s too short to be otherwise. What kind of impression do you want to leave on the hearts of those around you?

Here’s to learning how to make the sweetest lemonade, EVER!  :).
Lots of love,

Kajal

Hello!

To enjoy 3 free prints + my latest chronicles on what's cooking in my art studio, kitchen and heart :)....just sign up below!

Thank you, you're all set!