Thank you and a question

Thank you, all, for your incredible response to the news I shared earlier this week.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all of your support and well wishes!  It is especially encouraging to hear from those of you who have made changes of a similar magnitude in your own lives, and are now happily living your bliss.

hile I'm excited to be following my passion, I must admit I'm a little bit nervous about diving headfirst into the unknown.  However, when I think back on times in my past that I've stepped outside of my comfort zone, I see that it is these periods of transition and uncertainty that catalyzed real growth, and with that in mind, I'm eager to engage fully in what will surely be an interesting, probably challenging, yet also exhilarating year.

his weekend's plans are focused on getting a few logistical things in order, including cleaning up our office and equipping it for my school and business needs, and shopping for a new car (though Jason and I have been happily sharing a car since we moved in together, it looks like our newly divergent schedules will necessitate a second vehicle).  I'm hoping to squeeze in a run, a hot vinyasa flow class, and an outing to the dog park.

ou readers are always such a great source of information, so I'm wondering if I can pick your brain for a minute.  I hinted that I foresee some changes in store for Tulips & Tea.  Have you ever re-launched/re-branded your blog?  If so, what difficulties did you face, if any?  Any tips, tricks, and resources would be much appreciated!

ave a wonderful weekend! xo


A really big decision (and the soul searching behind it)

A little background
As you probably know, throughout the course of the past year, I've become really passionate about holistic nutrition and wellness.  Back in January, as part of my 2010 New Year's resolution, I vowed to make real and lasting changes to my lifestyle.  I took a hard look at the kind of food I was consuming on a daily basis, and realized that it wasn't providing me with the energy and vitality I was so craving.  After some pretty intense soul searching and lots of research (via books, documentaries, etc.), I decided to transition to a primarily plant-based, whole foods diet.

turning point

I began by experimenting with healthy, home-cooked meals centered around new (to me) and colorful ingredients. I soon discovered a whole world awaited beyond romaine.  Curly kale, technicolor rainbow chard, and peppery arugula began making their way into my meal rotation, soon followed by a whole host of delicious vegetables: squash of all kinds, eggplant, cucumber, broccoli, collards, watercress, scallions, leeks, beets, parsnips, radishes, sweet potato, cabbage, and more.  Realizing that I could build an endless variety of simple and fulfilling dishes around natural foods - around plants - was a turning point for me, and I never looked back.

n a roll

I started replacing the refined carbs in my diet with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley and millet.  Realizing how amazing I felt after just a few days, I was eager to continue down this new and healthy path.  Having noticed how heavy and tired I felt after eating animal products, I soon cut out dairy and most meat, a change that also aligned with my growing disgust at the ethical and environmental ramifications inherent in our food system.  Legumes, nuts, seeds, and the occasional piece of sustainably caught fish became my new sources of protein.  Feeling truly healthy for the first time in years, I was inspired to make even more changes. So around this time, I also kicked my daily coffee to the curb, stopped drinking alcohol (aside from the very occasional glass of wine), and sent my sugar addiction packing - for good.  I lost 37 pounds and my energy levels were higher than ever.  People began commenting on my "healthy glow", and I felt incredible - physically, at least.


Of course, true wellness isn't just about the food we eat.  You can drink all the kale and almond butter smoothies in the world, but if the other elements of your life are out of whack, can you really call yourself healthy?  With the newfound clarity that accompanied my dietary changes, I began to see how my other life choices were affecting me, and when I dug beyond the surface, I saw an often stressed-out and anxious person, intensely frustrated by what I perceived to be my unfulfilled creative dreams.  Yoga and running helped alleviate the stress and anxiety, but I realized that those were merely symptoms of a deeper yearning for genuine fulfillment.  I felt that I was being called in a new direction, but couldn't yet articulate what it looked like.  I spent about six months in emotional flux, knowing that my "true North" was out there somewhere, yet at the same time confused by the possibilities and scared to make a major change.

he "Aha" Moment

It was around this time that I first heard about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which, in partnership with Purchase College, SUNY, offers a certification in holistic health counseling.  I vividly remember reading those words, "holistic health counselor," and knowing with a strange certainty that that's what I'm supposed to be doing.  I wanted to share my newfound passion for wellness with others.  It made so much sense.  Of course, upon realizing this, I spent several more months in turmoil, agonizing over whether I could really leave behind the safe little life I'd built to pursue a completely new direction.  Could I really make such an unconventional career change?  What would everyone think?  Did I really have it in me to follow my passion?

aying yes

Turns out, I did.  After much consideration (and countless talks with my amazingly supportive husband), I enrolled.  (It's a distance learning program, so no, we didn't move to New York!)  A year from now, I will be a Certified Holistic Health Counselor.  My goal is to begin a private coaching practice helping busy and stressed-out women find balance and vitality through holistic food and lifestyle changes.  (Sound familiar?)  I also decided, after much consideration, to leave my full-time office job - and the commute - behind.  While I was lucky to have wonderful co-workers and satisfying work, I realized that I needed to focus my time and energy in this new direction.

peaking of which...

I've been contemplating what direction I want to take Tulips & Tea for a little while now.  I definitely plan to continue blogging about living a healthy and creative life, and look forward to sharing my new adventure with you.  There may be some changes in store for the blog, and possibly a re-launch of some sort as I attempt to merge my blogging more closely with my new career path.  I promise to keep you posted!

hank you so much for your support.  You guys are the best!  


Colorado recap

I realized today that I hadn't even told you guys about my birthday weekend in Colorado!  

As expected, we had a wonderful time.  We spent quality time with Mira, ate lots of yummy meals, oh..and went hiking in Chautauqua Park in Boulder, which was absolutely gorgeous.

Other highlights included:
green tea, saag paneer, and the best hummus I've ever had at Dushanbe Teahouse
unexpectedly seeing a dear friend from high school
playing with Mira's cute doggie Shadow
vegetarian noodle soup with roasted squash and mustard greens at Bones
the tofu breakfast burrito at Watercourse Foods (an all vegetarian restaurant/bakery in Denver)
beautiful mountain scenery
staying at Mira's cozy and beautifully decorated apartment

(sorry for the dark picture...the black lump in Mira's lap is her dog, Shadow!)

Thanks Mira, for being such a great hostess!


Only this moment is life.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future.  Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Image via HerLightBearer.


Birthday intentions

Happy 26th birthday to me!  Today's been absolutely lovely so far: a beautiful card and lavender vanilla-scented soy candle from husband, many calls, texts, and emails, a gorgeous rose bush from my co-workers, and a relaxing solo lunch at Teaism, plus a surprise gift from a very thoughtful blog friend!

esterday, I reflected on the best moments of the past year.  Today I'm sharing my 26 intentions for the coming year!  In no particular order:

. Continue to eat healthily and increase my knowledge of nutrition 
2. Make more of an effort to incorporate whole grains, fresh veggie juices, leafy greens, and other superstar foods into my regular food rotation
3. Deepen my yoga practice and explore the possibility of signing up for a 200-hour yoga teacher training program
4. Continue a regular running routine
5. Run a half-marathon
6. Exercise my creativity by making the time to draw (a childhood passion of mine)
7. Indulge in regular artist's dates
8. Expand my organic garden to include more herbs - and maybe even some vegetables
9. Start a weekly walk-in-the-woods ritual (I always find walking in the woods so restorative)
10. Expand my culinary know-how by signing up for a knife skills class (I've always loved chopping, slicing, dicing.  Something about the repetitive motion feels meditative to me.  I would love to learn the professional techniques!)
11. Re-examine my wardrobe and donate old, ill-fitting clothes and clothes that don't feel like "me" anymore
12. Slowly add a few beautiful, high-quality "authentically me" pieces to my wardrobe
13. Deepen my friendships with people who uplift and inspire me
14. Enjoy my first full year of marriage to my wonderful husband!
15. Seek out outdoor adventures (kayaking, rafting,hiking, skiing, etc...oh, and I want to try snowboarding this year!)
16. Budget for regular massages
17. Learn about holistic pet care and incorporate practices into our care for Basil
18. Try acupuncture for the first time
19. Be more conscious of my relationship with technology (specifically, be more selective about what I do online as opposed to just surfing around aimlessly)
20. Finish a first draft of a cookbook
21. Continue to improve my photography skills
22. Bring more laughter and play into my daily life
23. Plan several more trips to parts of the U.S. (Maine and Oregon are both on my list)
24. Practice saying "no" to things I don't have time for or don't really want to do
25. Submit food and health-related articles to several publications
26. Last, but certainly not least, continue to connect with all of you wonderful fellow bloggers!


Reflections on my 25th year

As I mentioned, tomorrow is my birthday!  While I'm excited about the day itself (plans include breakfast in bed, deep tissue massage, sushi, and prepping for Denver), I'm also taking time to reflect upon the past year and set intentions for the year to come.

'll admit, I'm a teeny bit sad to bid my 25th year adieu.  It was an amazing 12 months defined by lots of big life changes (all good!) and personal growth.  On numerous fronts, I felt myself becoming the healthy, happy, and balanced me that I've always envisioned as my best self.

ere's what I consider to be the top 25 moments of my 25th year:

. Married the love of my life and celebrated with friends and family at our joy-filled wedding
2. Explored Florence and hiked the back roads of the Cinque Terre and Chianti regions on our honeymoon in Italy
3. Became a contributing food writer for one of my favorite blogs, Tranquility du Jour
4. Went whitewater rafting on the New River in West Virginia
5. Kayaked in Key West
6. Transformed my understanding of and relationship to food, which inspired me to cut out junk and processed foods and begin eating a mostly plant-based diet
7. Rediscovered my love of running and successfully completed my longest run to date
8. Joined a new yoga studio in Annapolis, and reinvigorated my practice
9. Through a combination of improving my eating habits and re-committing myself to exercise, lost 35 pounds 
10. And more importantly, felt better than ever in my body
11. Connected with old friends and kindled new friendships with kindred spirits, both online and off
12. Discovered my Style Statement and began using Organic Creative as a guiding mantra in decisions large and small
13. Took the Mondo Beyondo e-course and articulated some goals I hadn't even realized were inside me
14. Planted an organic herb garden
15. Read more books than I can list here, The Kind Diet and Tranquilista being a couple of my favorites 
16. Made an effort to revamp my morning routine
17. Made my first philanthropic gift with a donation to The Farm Sanctuary
18. Decided to make more space in my life (literally and figuratively speaking) and embarked on a project to de-clutter...physically, emotionally, and spiritually
19. Discovered a love of documentaries (and subsequently, was deeply affected/disturbed by Food, Inc. and The Cove, both of which deepened my commitment to a lifestyle that does not contribute to the unethical treatment of animals)
20. Visited the Art Institute of Chicago, SF MOMA, and the Dallas Museum of Art
21. Ate many delicious meals at numerous restaurants in various cities, and discovered a new farm-to-table favorite in my own backyard
22. Spent an amazing weekend in Chicago with my family and Jason's family, exploring the city and celebrating our marriage with friends and family who weren't able to travel to our wedding
23. Made an effort to regularly incorporate blocks of solitude and reflection into my schedule 
24. Made myself a priority with lots of self-care 
25. Adopted a rescue dog, a life-long dream come true!

omorrow I'll be posting my intentions for the year ahead!


Three things

First, thank you all for your sweet comments about Basil!  (Basil wanted me to tell you "thanks for the warm welcome!")  It is so fun to watch as her personality develops.  So far, her favorite activities seem to be curling up in my lap to watch football, burying herself under layers of blanket, playing with her hedgehog stuffed toy, and stalking birds (real and imagined) when she's supposed to be doing her "business" outside.  She is a joyful addition to our family and we couldn't be happier.

econdly, I'm excited to be featured as Kaileen Elise's Sparklista Sunday series today!  As some of you probably know, Kaileen's blog is a treasure trove of creativity and inspiration.  I was so honored when she asked to interview me!  My favorite question she asked was: How do you make each day an extraordinary adventure?  Head on over to Kaileen's blog to read my response!

hirdly, this week is my birthday week!  As my gift, Jason planned a trip to Denver to visit one of my best friends, Mira (you may remember her as one of my bridesmaids).  We're flying in on Friday morning and staying through Monday morning.  I'm looking forward to vegetarian brunch at Watercourse Foods, visiting the Denver Art Museum, dinner at locavore restaurant Black Pearl, some scenic running and hiking action, and of course, catching up with Mira.  If there are any Denver connoisseurs out there...any other can't-miss things to do or see in the area?

he past couple of days, I've been contemplating my intentions for this coming year.  I sense some exciting things in store, including some big changes which I hope to share with you soon!

o you use your birthday as a time for reflection and/or intention-setting?


Guess what?

 She's ours!

This is Basil!  She is a smooth hair dapple dachshund that we adopted from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington, DC.  She grew up in a puppy mill in South Carolina, before Lucky Dog rescued her.  Since then, she's been in and out of foster homes.  She's a resilient little thing though - in spite of everything, she's super healthy, 100% house trained, and has just the sweetest personality you could imagine.

It's been a long-time dream of mind to adopt a dog, and I've always adored dachshunds, so adopting her is truly a dream come true.  I promise to share more pictures soon!  

In the meantime, I want to thank Andrea for featuring Tulips & Tea on her blog the other day!  Please stop by and check out Andrea's great blog, which is filled with a great balance of personal reflections and snapshots of her daily life.


Making space

Empty your hands and your heart. Regularly.

Take deep breaths. Often.

And move stuff over and out.

Make space (what a creative act! space-making!)

The space is full of what you really need.

-Via the ever wise Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth.

Image via Houzz.


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