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School, Autumn and Some Juicy Self-Care

So, remember those ebooks I had lined up to read through and recommend from last month? Well, they’re still there, virtually stacked up and untouched. The past month has been filled with back-to-school fun, both for my daughter and I and for my husband who teaches at the university, where we also happen to live. Instead of casually being able to browse through cookbooks, I’ve been poring over one scientific paper after another. Pathophysiology is a fantastic course, but it’s also uber demanding!

This is the time of year that I miss home the most. While temps here still creep into the 100s(F), I dream of crisp, autumn breezes, the smell and sound that accompany the changes in color all around you. I love how the markets are transformed from the vibrancy of summer produce to the sublime yellows, oranges, and reds of the fall’s harvest. I love how this change, the gearing up for winter, forces you to move inward, to reflect, to be ready for a season of a greater inner journey and fabulous stews.

Since autumn in the desert is a completely different animal, with its own beauty to be sure, just not the one that lives in my bones, I’ve taken on some self-care initiatives. As parents, teachers and caretakers, we focus so much on our kids (and others), oftentimes we focus it all on them. Needless to say, this unsustainable relationship isn’t beneficial for anyone. We all need our space and they need to learn that we need to take care of ourselves so that they can do so as well. Self-care isn’t selfish, self-care is self-love.

Some of the things I’ve been doing are making time for my relationships, especially down-time with my husband, exercise (right now it’s weekly tennis, kickboxing and almost-daily yoga), for friends and our daughters’ friends and most elusive yet essential for me, SLEEP! I’ve begun using the nightshift setting on my iPhone and installed f.lux on my computer to reduce my nighttime exposure to blue light. I turn off the wifi at night and do paper-based work at night now (usually, it’s a work in progress) instead of staring at the screen for the moments leading up to bed. I am making the time for a few minutes of restorative yoga or meditation, too. And tea. Always tea. I’d love to make time for a routine bath, but I'll take what I can get for now. Most important of all is that I’ve had to work hard on letting things slide to the next day. I’ve had to accept that I can’t do EVERYTHING, despite my best efforts to do so (at least not everyday ;) ). And, it’s been the best lesson yet, to be able to model that we do our best, but never at the expense of our health or well-being. Focusing on this self-care has just shifted my priorities and not surprisingly, the world did not end because of it. I am as important as the ones I love and care for and so are YOU.

In the kitchen, meals are still homemade, sushi and sun butter have become staples and a weekly box from Farmbox have made cooking more spontaneous and fun. For all the nut-free kids and schools out there, this month I’m sharing my Toasted Sunbutter recipe. I’ve added a bit to the simpler version and it’s even better. It’s takes some time and a little patience to get that creaminess, but just let thoughts of a beautiful, colorful autumn and moving inwards to take care of you fill your mind. Or, as I do sometimes, play a little kitchen yoga and see what happens. Next month we’ll have some news on Anise Loves RED Food. In the meantime, happy cooking and happy reading, family. May your kitchens be filled with the love and peace of autumn wherever it finds you. In good health, Nathalie

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