Growing up, I showed horses and my favorite discipline was dressage. I remember quite distinctly at the end of each test, after the final bow, of letting all my breath out, feeling suddenly exhausted, and realizing I had forgotten to breathe, again.
I’ve been taking a break from running these past few weeks because of an injury and the process has me going a bit mental. I’ve been turning instead to yoga to get me through. Bittersweet that it is, I can see progress in the yoga. I feel the difference in certain postures, that I can go a few breaths deeper than before. More importantly, through it I’m finally learning how to breathe.
The transition from running has opened up space, realizations. I’ve been using it to fill voids that I wish weren’t there, like a band-aid that isn’t fixing the problem but merely covering it up so it’s not so exposed. Problems and injuries don’t go away because of their band-aid. They go away because they’re given the other things necessary to heal: time, rest, honesty, fixing the underlying problem, giving up control to a higher power, breathing.
The truth is, I had an eating disorder. I used running, both physical running, and running away from the situation, to heal and band-aid the recovery. It was years ago and I long considered myself recovered, but there’s scar tissue; a lot of it. I’ve been tiptoeing around it for months, hoping the scars will sort themselves properly without too much mental muscle. It’s funny when I write it like that, how silly that sounds. Of course unaddressed issues don’t sort themselves without work.
I know there is no miracle fix to cure me in a week and my mind does not have to be my enemy. I don’t have to hate the things it thinks, beat it up for not being good enough, punish and restrict my body to master control of it, or band-aid it to ignore the ugliness of the wound. I have no business comparing or wishing things weren’t the case. I have to work at acceptance, at forgiveness, at okay-ness, and just be kind. I’m practicing gratefulness, daily.
The thing of it is, I love the goddamn band-aid and the kick-ass feeling of accomplishment. Running is simply what I do so there is grieving here too.
I’ve been praying a lot though this process. I’m motivated by achievement, by progress, by better, faster, another box checked. I have a tendency towards extremes, and there’s a fine line between achieving to be a better person and teetering off into unbalanced territory. Through yoga and prayer, I’m realizing I don’t always have to be achieving big things. Enjoyment doesn’t have to mean pushing so hard to go further, faster, better. Progress can stew together slowly, painfully slowly, and it’s alright to be cracked open, raw and exposed in the meantime. Just breathing.
Back to yoga. Each time I return to the mat I’m reminded how much tension I carry. Even though I’m not running, my muscles are so tightly wound up, my mind too, confused amidst the misaligned mental fibers. I’m reminded to return to the breath. Just breathe. Just breathe. Just breathe in and let it go.
mushrooms and garbanzos on toast with cider and thyme, serves 2
This dish is special simply because it’s quick and comforting. The cider melds in with the mushrooms and garbanzos to make a sweet little savory gravy. I used hard cider and splurged on fancy shitake mushrooms from our local mushroomery. A cider-juice and any type of mushroom will work, though the nicer ones will result in a richer flavor. Choose a thick, rustic-type bread to hold up to the mushrooms and garbanzos. If you eat gluten-free and want to make your own, I recommend Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread. My favorite is the Quinoa Sandwich Loaf, shown here. Unlike most gluten-free bread, Jennifer’s recipes are predominately whole grain and use chia seeds instead of tons of eggs to bind the flours, resulting in a real-bread texture.
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, chopped small
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
splash of apple cider vinegar
1 cup cooked chickpeas or other small white beans
3/8 tsp. poultry seasoning or make it yourself
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1-1 1/2 cups hard apple cider
1 tsp. arrowroot starch
splash of water
2 thick slices bread, toasted
- In a medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium high. Toss in the shallots and cook until they are soft and sizzling, 4-5 minutes.
- Add in the mushrooms, thyme, and vinegar, and cook until the mushrooms start to soften.
- Stir in the seasonings and chickpeas, and then pour in the cider.
- Once the cider starts to bubble, turn it down to a low simmer, and cook until the cider is reduced by half to three-quarters, stirring occasionally.
- In a small dish, whisk the arrowroot starch with a splash of water and then pour into the mushrooms and beans. Let cook another minute or so, until it thickens up.
- Toast the bread, and then lay each slice on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Spoon the mushroom mixture atop and serve warm.