announcement: i’m moving!
Fit_feminist_definition

OK, so I know it’s been REALLY quiet on the Mind Body Blissful blog these pasts few months. And they have been some pretty exciting months!  First off, I did take the trip to Haiti in April, and it was EVERYTHING I could have hoped for, and more.  Following that, I’ve been spending lots of time attending some interesting coaching sessions.  Oh yeah, and I quit my full time job!  I can’t wait to tell you ALL about these things in the months to come, now that I’ve got more time on my hands to write.  :) 

Something was stirring in me, which prompted me to take all of these actions.  Something like a calling.  A little voice told me it was time to create something new.  There are lifestyle changes and next projects still taking shape, and I look forward to sharing them with you as I go.

But I also wanted to say a little bit about why I haven’t been writing. 

The truth is – I feel like I’ve been bullshitting you. 

I haven’t been as honest as I could be, and I’m committed to cutting the shit. Let me explain.

See, I felt like I needed to keep things cheerful, not delve into anything too messy with my writing.  There were lots of reasons I censored myself – a corporate management role, a chipper blog name, fear of being vulnerable…  The thing is: life is not always pretty. 

When we hold back our authenticity, when we show only the prettiest, shiniest parts of ourselves, no one is served.

We miss the opportunity for connection. Instead we reinforce a culture of shame. ‘Oh look, she has it all together – perfect kids, perfect body… why doesn’t my body look like that?’ and so on. Who needs it?

I want to share myself with you more authentically, to really connect. 

Mind Body Blissful is moving on, and evolving into the Fit Feminist blog! I am passionate about feminism and want to speak more about what it is to live powerfully for women in a culture that doesn’t always empower us.  I hope this will be a space of risks, authenticity and connection.  I hope you’ll challenge me, and I hope some of what we can share will connect us, empower us. And if not, I hope you will love me enough to call me on it.

My blog is moving to my new digital home: andreaisabelle.com.  The new blog can be reached at fitfeminist.com or andreaisabelle.com/blog.  Come visit me there!!  This will be my last post on Mind Body Blissful.

Oh, and what would you like to see on Fit Feminist??  Let me know by commenting on this post, or send me an email.

Thank you for reading and please stay in touch!!

Andrea

this will change lives!

I am inspired to make a life-changing trip for the many women and children of Haiti who suffer under a widespread sexual violence epidemic in the post-earthquake tent cities that have formed there, where assault has become rampant.   As a surivor of domestic abuse I am personally committed to raise money to help these victims and ask for your help.

As you know, I am extremely passionate about empowering women to live healthy, happy lives. This passion was ignited not so many years ago when I myself survived domestic violence, and went in search of healing. Today I am stronger and happier than ever before, and as a result of my experience, I firmly believe that healing for women who have suffered abuse must come from an integrated mind-body approach.

A Boston organization called yogaHOPE is partnering with a group in Port-au-Prince called AMURT.  AMURT is creating safe spaces and programming for women and children who have been the targets of sexual violence.  Team yogaHOPE has just returned from Port-au-Prince where it began the first of what will be a series of trainings for Haitian Community Leaders in a powerful integrated yoga and mindfulness-based curriculum to aid in these women’s healing—most of whom are survivors of horrific sexual violence. Many of these women’s young children have also been raped, resulting in compound trauma for entire families.

I am one of ten Americans who have committed to raise $3,500 toward the project and will have the life-changing opportunity to go and train with the group in Haiti this April.  Please take a moment to watch this inspiring video of yogaHOPE’s inaugural training in Port-au-Prince.

100% of the money I raise will go to support this initiative, and I’ll be paying my own way to Haiti. I am hoping for 100 of my friends, family and supporters to donate $35 to my page. To some in Haiti, that is one third of a monthly salary; $100 will pay one of these Haitian Community Leaders’ salary for an entire month. What may seem like a little to you is so very much to others.

Please donate HERE!  If $35 is too much for you now, please consider giving $10, $15, $20. 

Thank you so much in advance for making this possible, and for helping me pay my healing forward!

previous love, a poem by keith althaus
Previous_love

I’ve been dying to share this beautiful poem I read in The Sun magazine a few months ago, but I wanted to wait until it got closer to Valentine’s Day. It’s the perfect ode to someone from the past, for those times when you’re feeling all nostalgic…  

Previous Love

by Keith Althaus

Previous love,
think of the sky
above us still,
the parade
of clouds here,
the starlit evening
there, and this one
breath expelled
that you might
catch someday
on a street corner
after its long journey
across miles of ocean,
fields, and woods
that comb it,
take out the scent,
the taste, the sweet
stuff, until
there’s nothing left
of me or this place,
or just enough
to make you think,
standing on the curb,
waiting for the light,
of me, and us.

Originally published in The Sun

Photo by Meredith_Farmer

mindbodyblissful.com

recipe: chicken with lemon and rosemary
Rosemary

 

I got this recipe from my friend and nutritionist Julie Starr-Wood.  The original recipe calls for a butterflied chicken, but I just buy the “whole cut-up chicken” that they sell at Trader Joe’s.  It’s easy and good, and we usually end up with leftovers that can be used in another meal.

 

Whole (Cut-Up) Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary  

 

1 whole cut-up chicken

3 long sprigs of fresh rosemary

Juice of 1 lemon, plus more lemons to serve

1 red onion

6 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt

 

Put chicken into large freezer bag. Pull needles off 2 sprigs of rosemary and drop in bag. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze juices in bag, chucking the empty shells in afterward. Cut onion into eighths and add to bag too. Pour in olive oil and then tie up the bag and give it a good squeeze before sitting it in the fridge. Marinate chicken for 2 hrs or overnight in fridge.

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, if you have marinated chicken in fridge, try to let it come to room temp while oven is preheating. Lay flattened chicken, skin side up, on a pan lined with foil, along with the lemon husks and onion pieces, and add the remaining sprig of rosemary torn into a couple of pieces. Cook for 45 minutes.  At this point you can turn oven down to 300 and let it remain in oven after it is cooked through (this doesn’t over cook it, it makes it golden and tender).

 

Take pan out of oven, arrange chicken on plate, along with onion bits, then pour over any juices from pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Cut a lemon into quarters and scatter about the chicken J.

photo by jazzijava

obsessed with somebody that i used to know…

Umm… nah… speechless… just watch it!

mindbodyblissful.com

trouble saying no? you may be saying it more than you think.
No

Recently I wrote about an insight that I gained working with my friend Erek of Verve Coaching, and I thought I’d share another great tip that he gave me. I spoke with Erek about my tendency to get excited about so many projects, that I completely overbook myself and wind up feeling tired and spread too thin.  He suggested that the next time I want to take on something new, I try the following exercise:

Saying yes to _________ means saying no to _________.

Since the number of hours in a day, week, or year is finite, it makes sense that generally something has to be displaced when we bring something new into our lives. Maybe it’s sleep that we will be getting less of, or down-time. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it’s just nice to stop and reflect before committing to one more thing.

I immediately found a way to apply this at the end of the summer when I thought about how badly I’d neglected my blog for a few months. But when I thought about it further, I realized that I’d been saying no to my blog because I’d been saying yes to being on the beach in my hometown and favorite place ever, Ogunquit, Maine almost every weekend. (Sandy laptop = bad.) Although I had unconsciously chosen one over the other, I realized that if I had chosen more conscisouly, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was an awesome summer!

Erek credits the Yes/No exercise to a book called Co-Active Coaching (Whitworth, 2007), but I still give him credit for introducing me to it.

[photo by chrisinplymouth]

mindbodyblissful.com

media images of “perfect beauty” bringing you down? watch this.

I watched the documentary Miss Representation over the weekend, which challenges us to think about how much pressure we women put on ourselves to look “perfect,” thanks to the ridiculous amount of emphasis the media places on how women look, rather than what we achieve.  Meanwhile, controversy has been swirling lately over a sexy yoga advertisement on YouTube.  In reading one writer’s response to this, I came across this genius video that I just had to share.  I’m always looking for ways to infuse this blog with feminist values, without turning it into “mind, body, angry rant.com…”  I believe we can keep our feminist ideals, and our positive attitude, and I think this brilliant video does just that.  I shared it with my kids, and talked a little bit about what it meant.  I’m not sure they understand it quite yet, but I want to arm them from an early age to think critically about the messages they are being sent in the media.  I also wanted to remind myself.  

Full disclosure: I’ve been feeling rather like “poop” since the holidays about 5 or 10 pounds that I gained over the last few months.  Seriously…  I’m over it.  What is it that I tell my students?  Life is cyclical, we have “on” and “off” cycles.  I’m back “on” now, planning what to eat so that I feed myself well, taking time for self-care so that I don’t burn out.  Miss Representation was a great reminder to put my energy into positive, constructive things, like the people I care about, my work, my goals, and enjoying life!

Have a happy week everyone,

Andrea

hey, it’s my first yoga playlist!
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New class! I’m teaching PranaVayu Yoga Level 1/2 every Friday at 10:20am (right after Core Fusion Cardio) at exhale Battery Wharf! Not sure what PranaVayu is? Wanted to try yoga but felt a little intimidated? Come try it with me! I’ll totally hook you up. ;) 

Here is my first attempt at a yoga playlist…

Lovers……………………………Bahramji & Mashti
They………………………………Jem
The Ghost Inside………………Broken Bells
Naive……………………………..The Kooks
Freedom…………………………George Micheal
Help I’m Alive…………………..Metric
Us………………………………….Regina Spektor
My Moon My Man…………….Feist
Tears Dry on Their Own…..Amy Winehouse
The Trapeze Swinger………Iron & Wine
Glory Box……………………….Portishead
Swirling Ocean………………..Meditation (I’m not sure the artist? I put this on repeat for the last 15 minutes of meditation)

huffington post’s year in review for women
Nobel_peace_prize_winners_2011

Photo: 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winners, from left, Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Tawakkul Karman, a women’s rights activist in Yemen. They were honored for working for women’s rights everywhere.

As 2011 comes to a close, it seems almost nonsensical to have to mention, let alone devote an article to, gender barriers. While women have made great strides, we still have a long way to go. Given the struggle to maintain our place as a leader in the global economy, why would anyone want to place any kind of barrier in front of women (or men) who could help our country compete in the world marketplace?

This next election will determine not only the presidency but also several critical House and Senate seats. We know that some of the biggest wins and losses of 2011 were on matters that will significantly affect our future, so it is important that we consider them as we examine the candidates, their records, and their promises. There are many issues at stake for women and their families.

A terrible decision: The U.S. Supreme Court’s sharply divided decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes prevented the courageous women of Wal-Mart from taking on America’s largest private employer as a nationwide class-action group, leaving each employee to file her claim individually or in smaller, reformulated classes. Not only is this a tremendous, and in most cases unaffordable, financial burden on low-wage earners, but such legal fragmentation means that the same issue will come before numerous courts across the country, likely with varying results. However, despite this setback, we remain undeterred. After all, we know that the U.S. Supreme Court can be wrong — just ask fair pay icon Lilly Ledbetter.

Not just an adult problem: While sexual harassment hurts everyone, girls are disproportionately affected. Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, our groundbreaking research report, found that just 12 percent of the girls surveyed who were sexually harassed reported it. Boys who experienced sexual harassment at school were even less likely to report it — only five percent did so. This year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights formally reminded schools, colleges and universities that Title IX prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence. The department also reminded those institutions that they are responsible for stopping, fixing, and preventing bullying. But we still need Congress to address harassment and bullying to ensure a safe learning environment for all students. Children cannot learn if they do not feel safe.

Still earning cents to their dollars: Congress remains regrettably idle on the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would, among other things, give businesses incentives to pay women fairly. Meanwhile, newspaper headlines misleadingly report that young women are out-earning their male counterparts. What they don’t tell you is how narrowly defined those studies are. I invite these writers to tell the average woman one year out of college why she already makes less than men in similar jobs with similar educational backgrounds. This is an economic issue that affects all of us, not only women but also the quality of life and buying power of their families. Congress needs to act responsibly and pass this legislation.

A surprising blow: The Obama administration stunned women’s health advocates and abortion opponents alike by blocking the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of selling over-the-counter emergency contraception. Along with the rest of the women’s rights community, AAUW expected the Obama administration to approve the sale of Plan B contraception — commonly referred to as the morning-after pill — without requiring a prescription. Let me be clear: our stance is not pro-abortion; it’s pro-choice. A woman cannot be reduced to little more than a walking uterus. This administration’s stated commitment to follow science instead of politics when making decisions was clearly not in evidence here, a disheartening development.

Challenges to family planning services: House Republicans tried to eliminate the Title X family planning program, which provides reproductive services to millions of low-income women. Despite widespread support, it appears that the program will likely come under fire next year —but AAUW will continue to defend this critical program. Republicans also banned the District of Columbia from using its own taxpayer money to fund abortions for low-income women. It concerns me that the deal was struck with President Obama’s consent. This ban was enacted in the spring budget deal and was reaffirmed again this month. AAUW opposes this ban and will keep advocating for women’s full reproductive health choices.

A victory in Mississippi: Voters in the Magnolia State defeated a ballot initiative that would have declared that life begins at fertilization, which supporters saw as a legislative foothold from which to launch a challenge to reproductive rights nationwide. The so-called “personhood” initiative was rejected by more than 55 percent of voters, falling far short of the threshold for enactment. Mississippi voters clearly demonstrated that reproductive rights are valued over extreme policies.

A step in the right direction: The Federal Bureau of Investigation will be updating its definition of rape to include both male and female victims and to include sexual assaults in which drugs or alcohol are used to incapacitate victims. The current federal definition, in place since 1929, is narrower than the one used by many local police departments. The current law’s focus on only physical violence leads to the under-counting of thousands of sexual assaults each year. Sexual violence is a pervasive social problem, and we need to integrate greater sensitivity and accuracy into reporting sex crimes.

Sparking important dialogue: Whether you love or hate the name, SlutWalks started important conversations all across the country — women to society, generation to generation, survivor to survivor. Coined in Canada, this tongue-in-cheek name underscores how labels and stereotypes mask the true harm victims experience. SlutWalk’s anti-victimization message has gained momentum in communities around the world.

Out of the driver’s seat: The two-decade-old campaign for driving rights for Saudi Arabian women continued this year without a happy resolution. It’s difficult to celebrate women’s rights when so many women around the world are excluded from full participation in society. Gaining the right to drive would be both a tribute to the tenacious women of Saudi Arabia and a beacon for women everywhere who are still demanding equal rights. A special note: our hearts go out to Middle Eastern women who have been on the front lines of the Arab Spring movement, especially now as Egyptian women are fighting for democracy with their own blood.

And the winners are: This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women’s rights activists — Africa’s first elected female head of state, a Liberian peace activist, and a human rights activist from Yemen.

In addition, U.S. girls swept all three age categories at the Google Science Fair, a far cry from generations past when women were not only excluded from scientific pursuits but told they could not succeed in such fields.

Can you hear us now? Women, yet again, have the power to make a difference in the 2012 election. Efforts such as AAUW’s voter education and mobilization campaign, It’s My Vote. I Will Be Heard, will engage women across the country to speak out at the polls. Our voices have been and always will be critical to the success of the United States and to the world at large. It only makes sense to organize, mobilize, and make some noise next year. We hope you’ll join us in speaking out.

That’s our list. What are your biggest moments for women this year?

This article was written by Linda Hallman at Huffington Post

photo of the day: holiday 2011 collage
Holiday_2011

A few of our season’s highlights —- The kids on Christmas morning, beautiful moments in Maine by the fire and by the tree, holiday party fun with Jay, watching him catch the ukulele bug!  I’m grateful for all of it…

Of course, not pictured here are the moments of typical holiday overwhelm and overstimulation!  Part of the time, I was feeling pretty much exactly like Tina Fey, the overstressed mom in the movie Date Night, when she says, “There are times when, on my worst day, I’ve thought about just leaving our house and going someplace. Like checking into a hotel. Being in a room all by myself. In a quiet, air-conditioned room. Sitting down, eating my lunch. With no one touching me. Drinking a diet Sprite. By myself.” 

Ahh…  I hear that, sister!  So a few quiet days in Vermont over New Years without the kiddos were just what the doctor ordered!  (Hence the photo by the pool.) What a gift! Just keepin’ it real people!  Hope you had a great holiday season, and that you do whatever you need to recharge!!