Category Archives: Sacred Mama

Finding Tradition in the Kitchen

One of the amazing things that I’ve noticed as I’ve come to spend more time in my kitchen is that traditions follow me there, often without intent.  It is a reminder that food plays an important role in who we are and who we become.

I started to make lunch the other day based on a recipe from Hannah Marcotti.  As I was preparing it, I stuck with the basic concept but it took a twist that brought me back to my childhood.

The basic premise of the lunch I was trying for the first time was nori rolls, but not with your typical filling.  Hannah’s suggestion was actually very similar to a recent favorite snack of mine – apple slices with almond butter.  She also suggested including a leaf of romaine to get some greens in there.

As I was slicing the apples, I was reminded of a salad my mom used to make for me when she would pack my lunch for school.  Thinking about it again, I was brought back to the smell and taste of the food, the love I knew she made it with, and the room in which I ate it so many times.  I could really visualize this.  She always made me such wonderful lunches, packed with such care, and they always included a napkin note to make me smile. This lunch that I thought of was simple, healthy, and delicious – grated carrots, apples, and raisins with a dressing of orange zest and orange juice.

I realized that I had both carrots and raisins in my kitchen, so I thought, why not add those to the nori rolls?

The end result was a nori roll spread with almond butter, and then topped with a leaf of romaine lettuce, sliced apple, thinly sliced carrots (after peeling the outer layer of the carrot, I just kept going), and a row of raisins.  I rolled it up, and my first attempt at this new creation was complete.

As I sat down to eat my lunch, Chloe came over and wanted to try a bite.  She climbed up onto my lap and we enjoyed this delicious meal together.  I learned for sure that it will take practice to get the rolls tight, and I learned that the flavor of the nori will take some getting used to, but I found a reinvented version of a childhood favorite, and perhaps new traditions will blossom.

What traditions have found new life in your kitchen?

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Turning Stressful into Sweet

One life lesson that I’ve been reminded of as a parent is that I am not always as in control of my plans as I want to be. This past Sunday morning was a perfect example. Mornings have become my time – time for me, and time to get some stuff done. Chloe’s a bit of a night owl, so she usually sleeps until somewhere between 9 and 10. The hours between 6 and 9 are my golden time. I’m able to wake up and enjoy a mug of lemon water and loose tea as the sun starts to brighten the day. I’m able to check a few things off of my to-do list early on, and I love this. I cherish this time.


This past Sunday, likely due to teething, Chloe didn’t abide by her normal “schedule.” She had gone to bed late, but woke up early – 7am early. Feeling the need at least for my tea and some breakfast, I asked Jon to come rest on the couch so she could play and I could have a little bit of much needed me time.


I made my tea, brought a chair into my freshly cleaned kitchen, and opened a special email to read. I just wanted 5 minutes. When I was getting ready to take my first sip of tea, as if on cue, Chloe ran into the kitchen and wanted to come up on my lap.


My first thought was, oh Chloe, I just want 5 minutes. I know I can’t get what I wanted to done this morning, but can’t I have this at least? And then something happened – I had a mental shift. I pulled her up onto my lap so she could nurse, I sipped my tea, and I read the email that I was looking forward to. When I was finished with the email, I turned my attention back to her and shared the time with her.


I did need the “me time”, and I got it – in fact, I got something even better. I got to share that me time with one of my favorite people in the world. I was able to shift from a place of stress to a place of sweet, and it set the tone for my day.


I hope to be able to carry this forward in my life, though I know it takes practice. When you can find the joy and happiness amidst the stress, life can really be quite beautiful.


Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Releasing Control

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last few days about releasing control, and the role that plays in my life right now.  It started when I was reminded of the feeling I had while floating in the Caribbean – despite being a bit water-phobic, I was able to close my eyes, relax, and let the water hold me.  I was able to release control in a situation that had previously been a very stressful one for me. It brought me to thinking about the role that releasing control plays in pregnancy as well.


It’s wonderful to learn as much as you can (or want) about what’s happening inside your body, and what your options are for taking care of yourself and for the birth of your baby.  Knowledge can empower you to make the choices that are right for you and your baby.


Releasing control is important also.  If you know, as I did, that you do not want the aid of medication during labor and you do not want to be in a hospital for the birth of your baby, you can make the plans to accommodate those desires.  Making those decisions felt good to me.  I felt like I was staying true to what I wanted and finding ways to make it happen.  But do you want to know what made me feel really confident and prepared?  Releasing control.


See, I realized that if I didn’t release control, I would be holding onto something that wasn’t serving me.  I couldn’t control what happened during labor.  I could do my best to shape it, and I did, by the attitude I brought to it all.  I couldn’t have done that without releasing.  The moment I felt most comfortable, ready, and prepared was when I was clear with myself that the birth of my baby was going to happen however it did.


If I was at The Birth Center and I really needed the medication that they could offer me, I knew that I’d listen to my body and do what needed to be done.  It would be counterproductive to be adamant about no pain relief if I couldn’t function and do what I needed to in order to birth my baby.  If the midwife told me that I needed to go to the hospital – I’d go willingly.  I knew that she wanted me to have the birth that I envisioned and would only suggest the hospital if she knew it was necessary.


Being clear with myself about what I wanted, but also being able to release control of what was beyond my scope, allowed me to have the birth that I envisioned.  I labored at home for most of the time, and had the support of my husband, mother, doula, midwife and nurse to get me through the toughest parts.  I birthed my daughter without the need for medication, and without the feeling of “pain” as we often think of it.  Chloe flowed out of my body exactly as she was supposed to.


Being trustful of my care providers also allowed me to release control.  Shortly after Chloe was born, my midwife said to me, “Xandra, I know that you said you don’t want any medication, but if you don’t start clotting in a few minutes, I’m going to have to give you pitocin.  My body was not doing what it needed to be doing on its own, and I trusted her.  The contractions that came with the pitocin sucked, but I knew that I needed to release control to keep myself safe.


As we move through life, we often find ourselves wanting to control the situation, and that’s not always possible.  When we try to push against the natural flow, we make things more difficult four ourselves than they need to be.  By releasing control, we open ourselves up to becoming the fullest expression of who we can be.


How can you release control today?


Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Nourishing Friendship

What could be better than making some homemade soup with farmer’s market produce on a Sunday afternoon in the fall?  Making it for friends who just had a baby!

For 9 months you’ve known that the day will come, but what happens when it does?  You’ve given birth and now you’re home with a newborn.  Suddenly, you feel as if you don’t have time to shower, sleep, or eat.  This can be an overwhelming time but can be eased with the help and support of friends and family.

Friends of ours recently had a baby and it reminded us of where we were a year and a half ago – so grateful to have friends and family to help us with laundry, food prep and letting us get some much needed naps.

With this in mind, we wanted to help our friends out with some nourishing food.  I spent a good part of last Sunday making double batches of two yummy and nutritious fall soups: Lentil Kale Soup (adapted from a Deborah Madison recipe) and a Sweet Mama Butternut Squash and White Bean soup (taken straight out of my mama’s creative brain).  The aroma of fall filled the house as I simmered onions and baked squash, as fresh produce transformed before my eyes into delicious soup.


It felt wonderful to bring our friends soup, knowing that they could eat it now or freeze it for later, and knowing that we had helped to nourish them as they focused on nourishing their new son.  Soups are a wonderful way to use whatever ingredients you have on hand, and are a great way to plan some meals in advance by making big batches and freezing some for later.  They’re also great for sharing with friends, new parents or not.

If you don’t have a community of friends and family in your area and the thought of eating healthfully with a newborn sounds daunting, remember that planning ahead and freezing is a great option.  While you still have some energy, cook some soups, pot pies, lasagnas – whatever you love, and freeze them in single portions.  Then you’re freezer will be stocked with healthy options that require no more than reheating.  When baby comes, you’ll be good to go!

Peace, love, and wellness,


Finding the Flow of Motherhood

It took me 18 months, but I think I’m finally finding my flow.  I have enjoyed the first year and a half of Chloe’s life so much, and we are so grateful to have a lot of support from family and friends.  But today was a day that I felt was working especially well, and it made me feel like I’d reached some momentous occasion.  She ate her breakfast well today – made a mess but had so much fun.  She played with her toys while I did laundry, dishes, swept, and cleaned up some clutter.  We laughed and played. We had so much fun! That’s not to say that we don’t always have fun, but it’s not always easy to get a lot done when she’s awake.


There are a few key ingredients of course.

  • The right mood – There are days when Chloe is very interested in independent play, and there are days when all she wants is Mama.  The key is to be ready to jump into action when she’s occupying herself, because you never know how long these moods will last.
  • Options for fun – Part of the key for me today was to have different activities to entertain her in different parts of our home.  She was in a particularly musical mood, playing with her toy piano, so when she wandered into the kitchen while I was trying to do some dishes, I grabbed a pot and a spoon and she went to town on her drum. 
  • Be flexible – Remember that not every day is going to be the same; and really, what fun would that be? Some days will be happy, others cranky.  Some days will be a two hour nap and others might only be thirty minutes.

When you can tune out other obligations and just revel in the time spent with your child, every day can feel like it flows.  I know that I had days before today that went really well, were full of fun and not too stressful, but I may not have been paying enough attention to really appreciate them.  From here on out I will, and I’ll continue loving every minute that I get to spend with this amazing little girl!

What makes you feel like you’re in the flow of motherhood?  Share your story in the comments.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,


Inner Awareness and Preparing for Pregnancy

I have been focusing on inner awareness this month.  I tried to explain a bit the other day about why I think there’s an important connection to being in tune with ourselves and living a healthy life.  Today I’m going to talk about why I think inner awareness is important from the moment you start thinking about wanting to have a baby.

[Note: this can be applied to anything new that you’re facing in life, not just pregnancy, so if you’re not planning a pregnancy, keep reading anyway!]

If you know me, you might be well aware that in the years leading up to my pregnancy I hit a stage in my life that I like to call my “I want one” stage.  Every time I saw a baby “I want one” came out of my mouth.  What was making this happen?  More importantly, did I need to listen to this message right away, or was my brain just preparing me?  I took this feeling very seriously but I also knew that we weren’t quite ready to add a third person to our family.  Did I just ignore the feeling and go back to life as normal?  No, not really.  I continued to say “I want one,” and I started looking for signs that the time was right.  I’m not usually a follower of signs, but this seemed different.

Being so aware of what I wanted allowed me time to prepare in the way that I wanted to, which doesn’t always happen for people.  There are a few keys that I think are important to think about before you begin trying to start a family, and I think that knowing and understanding yourself helps you get there with more ease.

  • Understand your fears – This one requires a huge leap inside your head.  Your fears aren’t going to just pop out at you like a to do list, you need to dig around for them, and be compassionate and patient with yourself as you do.  If you can embrace many of your fears before pregnancy (not all, new fears come up for us everyday in everything we do), you will free yourself to feel so much more receptive and excited about your pregnancy and it will ease the symptoms from the early days all the way through labor and the birth of your child.
  • Get Healthy – If you know that you want to change some of your eating and lifestyle habits in order to have your healthiest pregnancy, do this NOW!  Shifting your habits does not happen overnight, and it will be much more difficult when you are tired, nauseous, and getting used to the changes that your body is going through without asking your permission.  How you treat yourself before you get pregnant has an impact on your baby as well, so it’s a great idea to get started on this early.  If you listen to yourself, you will likely know where you find it most important to start.  Don’t try to take it all on at once and expect immediate and lasting change.  Also, remember that getting support can make the journey easier.
  • Forget Perfectionism – You are never going to be 100% ready for any big change in life.  Your to do list is never going to be complete.  What you need to learn to do is retrain your brain to understand that it’s ok to be a work in progress.  This may not seem like an inner awareness thing, but believe me, it is.  You can tell yourself that it’s okay to let go of perfectionism, but most likely, somewhere in that beautiful brain of yours a voice is saying, “I’m not ready for what comes next.  I have to do this, that and the other before I can move to the next step.”  Guess what?  This comes back to fear.  Fear holds you back from doing what you really want to do, or from doing it without a lot of unnecessary anxiety, because you are scared that if everything is not in place things won’t work out as you planned.  Guess what?  Things often don’t work out exactly as you plan, but that’s okay!  Sometimes they turn out better.  When you can release the need for perfectionism, you allow life to happen, and that’s when things can get really exciting.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Our Bodies as Teachers

Our bodies are amazing.  They teach us new things about ourselves everyday.  My body has taught me so many lessons in the last two years – I grew and birthed a baby! I remember early on in my pregnancy I had a moment where I thought, this is bizarre, I’m growing a person inside of me.  It may have felt bizarre in that moment, but it was also completely natural. A year ago today, my body taught me more about myself than I think I had ever learned before or will ever learn in the future.  I tapped into part of myself that I never knew was there.


I had planned all along, even before I became pregnant, to have a natural childbirth.  While I was pregnant with Chloe I came to terms with the fact that although I wanted no medications I might need them.  Preparing myself for any situation allowed me to have deeper trust in myself and in my caretakers. I knew deep down that I could do without the medication, and my body came through for me.  My husband, my mother, my midwives, my doula, and my nurses could all tell you with better detail exactly how I did it, or maybe they couldn’t – maybe they were helpers and observers to an energy that was all my own.  All I know is that I did it and it was the most empowering experience of my life.  And I got Chloe!! What an amazing reward.


Looking back a year later, Chloe has grown so much and she continues to inspire me everyday.  She is a large part of why healthful living is so important to me.  She taught me, most importantly: I can do anything I put my mind to.  So often we convince ourselves out of doing the things that are most important to us.  We tell ourselves that we can’t really reach our goals – they are too lofty, or we don’t have enough time, discipline or strength.  We set our own limitations but if we allow ourselves the capacity to dream ever upward, and to reach down into the depths of our being to find our unique inner power, we can accomplish anything!


As Spring begins, slowly but surely, think about how you can break free from the safe womb that you have created for yourself in your life.  It is easy to become comfortable even with the things that make us unhappy, because we often feel that it is easier to deal with a bad situation than to take the action required to change it. What changes have you wanted to make in your life that you haven’t yet?  What has been holding you back?  Most importantly – how will you feel once you allow yourself to birth your new vision for your life?


Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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