Happiness After Depression

I get reflective in the Fall, thinking about the year fading into the past as the leaves start to change colors… this year has not been easy. Physical challenges, loss of a long time friendship, financial stress, etc have all weighed heavily on me. But the other day, I was at the dentist getting THREE cavities filled and after all the drilling, two shots, and the extra shot because I could still feel the drilling, the Dentist said to me, “How do you feel?” I answered like my lips and tongue were made of jello, “Happy,”” and she turns her head to the side and says, “No, how do your TEETH feel?” Ohhhhhhh…

Apparently¬†I’m not depressed anymore, because the first word that came to mind even in the Dentist’s chair was, “Happy.”¬†All the things that happened this year were worthy of a few days in bed feeling sorry for myself, a resurgence of bad habits, reaffirmation of negative self talk, playing the victim, all that stuff. It took a long time, over a decade, of work on myself, yoga, more yoga, and even more yoga, learning how to treat myself and others better, mindfulness, hard choices, pulling up my bootstraps, never giving up, MORE yoga, meditation, getting over myself and my ego, starting over and over again, being radically honest, getting as much therapy as I could afford, building and rebuilding relationships, you know, doing “the work.”

The work WORKS. It’s not instant, it’s not easy, but if someone like me who fought serious, serious depression for most of my life can instantaneously respond, “Happy” after having my teeth drilled, then it’s worth it. It works, and for anyone out there suffering right now, just don’t give up, don’t stop — get to a yoga class, volunteer somewhere, read all the inspiring books you can get your hands on, do whatever little bit of work on yourself you can each day, it WILL pay off. Only you can do it. Just like no one can get on the mat for you, no one can meditate for you, no one can eat right for you, no one can work on you for you. This work, it’s an inside job, and we all have to do it for ourselves. You’re worth it.

I never imagined I could be this happy!

I never imagined I could be this happy!

ALTERED SPACE // WHAT WE EAT

In 2002 I moved back to Philadelphia after 14 years mostly in Southern California, and partly on a journey literally around the world (more on this later). I came back in July, and it was hot. By August I had found a little room at 12th and Walnut and rented it in a handshake deal with plans on opening a yoga studio. I sweated it out the next few months getting that room ready by refinishing the floors, painting the walls, and doing a 3 layer lotus stencil design 108 times around the top of the walls. I wasn’t used to the humidity, and as I sewed curtains and made pillows and even stapled in some carpet, I longed for the cool breezes of San Diego. On October 5th, 2002, Dhyana Yoga at 1212 Walnut Street, 2nd Floor had it’s Grand Opening celebration, though, and my friends and relatives showed up in support… and in sweat. The turn out was great, and the room was HOT! It got even hotter as more people arrived, and even more so as my new friends Simon Park, Marni Sclaroff, and Phil Migliarese did asana demonstrations in the front of the room.

And then it got cold. So very cold. I hadn’t endured an East Coast winter for quite some time. I thought I owned a coat. It was not a coat, it was a thing with sleeves. In San Diego, a nice, heavy, cozy sweatshirt is a coat. In the middle of winter in Philadelphia, that sweatshirt did nothing to protect me against the biting wind as I walked my also cold dog, Santa (AKA “Bob”) morning, noon, and night. I fell on the ice in my Puma sneakers and Bob ran home without me. It was almost too much to take. I had to rally. Winter lasts awhile. So I bought a big, unflattering, puffy jacket at a thrift shop on South Street and my neighbor gave me a hat. And I practiced a lot because at least the practice room was warm! I’ll admit, I wondered more than once that long winter why I ever decided to leave San Diego and come back to my hometown.

Now 11 years later I have a little stockpile of winter gear, the right boots for snow and ice, and that gritty Philly girl that got soft on the West Coast resurfaced, and even enjoys the winter cold these days! I also have support from the inside, via my Ayurveda practice, to keep me warm. Below is an amazing, easy, and absolutely delicious recipe for a hearty soup that will keep you toasty, nourished, and going back for another bowl! Also keep in mind that Ayurveda says when you feel wet and cold, to favor lighter, warmer foods and spices that balance out Kapha (the earth and water elements that may make you feel cold, damp, and lethargic). Also, during times of transition, be they seasons of nature or seasons of your life, it is wise to pay special attention to the basics of good health: meditation, regular exercise, sensory nourishment and emotional healing. I hope this healthy soup recipe will warm your body, delight your taste buds and make you happy! Enjoy!

Heart-y Ginger Vegetable Soup

Ingredients: 3 carrots, 4 rutabagas, 3 stalks of celery, 2 inches of ginger, 3 garlic cloves, 1/2 an onion, 1 turnip, 2 cartons vegetable stock, 1/2 small carton of Pomi tomatoes, 1 tablespoon evoo, salt & pepper (parsley to garnish)

John's 3rd bowl of this yummy soup!

John’s 3rd bowl of this yummy soup!

Preparation:

1. In a stock pot, warm oil. Add diced garlic, ginger, and chopped onion, stir 3 mins (don’t burn the garlic!). Add chopped celery and turnip and cook on medium heat stirring lightly 5-7 minutes so they can soften.

3. Add chopped carrots and rutabagas, which look like crazy carrots. If you have knife skills it’s best to chop them by hand because your shakti (love and power) goes in them, but I don’t have knife skills so I do them the in the food processor and say a mantra instead, which is also fun! And fast…

4. Stir up everything in the pot and keep cooking for 5 more minutes, then add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock. Stir more. Everything should be in the pot now. Bring it to a boil.

5. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

6. Stick an immersion blender in the pot and blend everything up. You might end up with a few chunks of rutabaga or carrot but that’s kind of fun to come across in a bowl of this soup so don’t worry about getting it perfect.

7. Salt and Pepper to taste, but you won’t need a lot. When you serve it up, put some fresh Italian parsley leaves in the bowl if you have them, totally optional.

This yields about 8-10 bowls, but everyone will want seconds! Enjoy!

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