Eating the Write Foods {Guest Post with Cari Kamm}

I met Cari Kamm at a wellness event in Soho about 3 years ago. Intuition told me I had to get to know this lovely lady…and I was right! Not only has she become a friend, but she’s also become a writing buddy and mentor to me as I embark upon my first novel. Cari knows a thing or two about those–she just published her second novel, For Internal Use Only, which made the list on my A Few of My Favorite Things post in February. Her writing is witty, entertaining, and just plain gorgeous, and her stories have meaning you can chew on. I highly recommend you get to know this future best-seller!

Now on to the guest post…

I finally got the message years ago that what I eat affects how my mind and body performs. Whether we realize it or not, the quality of food we take in permeates all aspects of our life. It either gives us the energy, attitude, and fortitude to help us get through the day…or it doesn’t. Cari’s post is a fantastic example of just how extreme a difference eating the right food makes.

Eating the Write Foods

by Cari Kamm

Tiffany & Co., New York City – 2011. Photo provided by Cari Kamm

Tiffany & Co., New York City – 2011. Photo provided by Cari Kamm.

When I’m not writing . . . I’m eating. Well, I’m thinking of eating or where I want to be eating.

I’m a self-proclaimed foodie and seriously enjoy every bite. My rule is “don’t pick before pics.”  I love to look at food. Take pictures of food. Dissect food. And of course eat food. A chef is an artist and unlike admiring a painting or absorbing words, you get to literally bite into their work and digest it.

So . . . how does this affect my creativity? The saying is you are what you eat. I find the same goes for my writing. My eating habits are different when it comes to the writing stage and editing process.

I begin writing first thing in the morning. Before anything can shift my mood or motivation, I make coffee and boost my body with breakfast before I hit the keys. Writing is my morning stretch. I write from home or head out to one of my spots in New York City. Sometimes, I just walk into random restaurants, bookstores, or coffee shops. I find inspiration in the unexpected. Not having a plan is sometimes the perfect plan for creativity. For eating…that’s not so productive.

My breakfast always includes a fresh pressed juice, scrambled eggs and oatmeal or wheat toast. My favorite morning juice includes apple, pear, pineapple, wheatgrass & mint or carrot, beet, apple, pear, lemon & ginger. Also, eggs contain Choline and that helps my memory and builds strong mental muscles. The benefit of this is keeping my characters and scenes straight!

There are foods I eat to nourish my mind. However, when emotions come into play during the creative process, I try to remember that I need to write my feelings…not eat them. Depending on which stage I’m in during creating my manuscript, food definitely contributes positively or negatively to my writing health. Knowing this allows me to be a better writer.

The creative process. My favorite part of the writing process is creating the outline of the story I have in mind. Then several months down the road realizing where the characters actually took me while reading the story they created. My creativity tends to crave carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this can lead to a food coma. Sugar becomes a big saboteur and doesn’t help my writing or my waistline! At first, eating sweets tends to make me feel happier and comfortable when I beginning a new project. One thing I know is that with all of the unknowns in developing a new story…I get nervous. When I hit the emotional rollercoaster peak and quickly come crashing down off the sugar high, I tend not to feel proud about a scene or a character even if it’s terrific. My characters’ emotions somehow control my food cravings. Well…I like to blame it on them! A romantic scene may call for chocolate and wine; a stressful scene made lead to Twizzlers or Thai takeout. If all else fails, I drink more wine.

The editing phase. This stage requires concentration, patience, and attention to detail. Protein keeps me on point! My characters cannot afford any food mood swings. I tend to focus on protein, fruits and vegetables! My favorite foods that are rich in antioxidants, folic acid and omega-3s include salmon, walnuts, blueberries, goji berries, cantaloupe and kale. I’m addicted to the deliciously dark green leafy guy! My favorite recipe at the moment is from the New York City restaurant Lupa.

The only culprit left is Mr. Coffee. I’m striving to lower my cups per day and sip more green tea or calming teas, especially during those late nights of writing or revising my manuscripts.

So…what’s the bottom line?  When I eat better, I feel better. When I feel better, I write better!

CariKammCari Kamm has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, building brands, working behind the scenes, and even selling her own skin care line. She has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University. Kamm currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries. Living in New York City with her mutt Schmutz, Kamm loves finding inspiration in the most unexpected places, being a novelist, and convincing her fiancé that ordering takeout and making dinner reservations are equal to cooking. More information can be found on her website, CariKamm.com. To check out the book trailer, click here: http://tinyurl.com/bdr7bfn.

Valentine’s Day Nourishment

My idea of a romantic meal is one in which we aren’t disturbed.  For Valentine’s Day last year, that meant a simple but tantalizing feast at home that wasn’t interrupted by trips to the kitchen.  With no baking or cooking to coordinate and no pots and pans to clean, I was able to focus all my attention on what really mattered, connecting with my husband!

I wanted to share these pictures with you to spark your creativity and imagination.  While this is not the only way to make Valentine’s Day special, it’s a great way to spend time with your significant other without subjecting yourselves to crowded restaurants and jacked-up prices.  Keep the following message in mind not only on V-Day, but every day: 

Food will nourish us for hours.  Love will nourish us forever.

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Beyond Resolutions

Photo by K.C. © 2011 Kristin Conroy

By this time, we’ve all proclaimed our resolutions to our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers…anyone who will listen.  We mean well and want to stick with the beneficial resolutions we’ve set for ourselves, like working out five times a week, staying away from fried food, spending more quality time with the family, and saving more money.  However, without setting those resolutions into the deeper framework of your life, they are going to sound like mandates instead of goals you’ve voluntarily set for yourself. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being ordered around, even when I’m the one doing the ordering.

I have to…

I need to…

I should…

I must…

Those are not the most inspiring phrases.  These are more positive versions, don’t you think?:

I want to…

I will…

I see myself…

Which brings me to one of my resolutions:  I will go beyond resolutions, envision my Ultimate Life, and map out my goals for the next ten years in detail. Sounds like what you had to do in school, right?  What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you see yourself in five, ten, fifteen years? Not quite though.  This goes way deeper and is much more powerful.

I attended my friend Donna’s Healthy Living class to get me unstuck after the tragedy I shared with you in Dealing with Grief.  In one of the classes,  she handed out a worksheet on goals.  Its purpose was to nail down what we wanted to accomplish in the next five years.

But before we could get to that, we had to envision our perfect life, one in which we were joyful, healthy, and truly content. What would that look like, in detail?  She encouraged us to describe the clothes we would wear, the home in which we would live, the career, the spouse, the family, the dog…whatever you wanted, as long as it got you giddy with excitement!  And it needed to be written in the present tense.  Writing about your ideal future life in the present (even if you’re nowhere near that) is exponentially more powerful than speaking about your future life in the future tense.

Then, with that juicy picture in mind, we worked backwards, asking ourselves “What do I have to accomplish five years from now to make that big picture a reality?”  Then, “What has to happen in the next year?”  We worked in reverse time until we had answered what we wanted get done in the next week.  If your Ultimate Life, for example, includes living in a luxurious five-bedroom house and enjoying a successful career as a world-renown, best-selling author (sounds good to me!), what steps would you have to take to get there?  A successful author must have written a top-selling book (or ten) that earns a small fortune, thereby enabling the author to buy that huge house.  Of course, those accomplishments don’t happen overnight, so what steps lead up to that?  Getting an amazing agent, editor, and publisher are involved, but before that, the book(s) must be written.  And a whole lot needs to happen before that.  You get the idea.

There’s quite a bit of effort involved in envisioning your Ultimate Life, but you can see how working backwards from there in specific detail will eventually uncover what needs to happen in the next week to start making your dream a reality. It’s a simple concept, but using this method has so much more ooomph behind it when you take the time to really see your desired future in colorful, detailed High Definition. 

Although resolutions are excellent, think bigger, farther, and more powerfully than that! Try imagining your Ultimate Life and setting your Big Picture Goals to begin immediately moving toward that life.  Our Ultimate Life vision may not turn out exactly the way we plan, and our Big Picture Goals may change, and probably will.  Because, let’s face it, life has a way of surprising us, and we don’t have a crystal ball.  But harnessing and focusing our energy into becoming the best, most successful, most joyful version of ourselves can only lead to amazing opportunities and an amazing life!

I made my own version of Donna’s worksheet here.  Download and print it, so you can start envisioning your Ultimate Life and get moving in that direction!

Revisiting Those New Year’s Resolutions

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

We’re more than halfway through the year.  Can you believe it? As summer’s end looms over me, I’m experiencing feelings of slight panic. Am I still on track with those resolutions and goals I declared in January? Have I accomplished what I set out to do, or anything at all? Have I fallen out of a disciplined routine during these warm months filled with summer fun? Anybody with me on this?  I thought so.  Which is why I felt the need to write this post.

Are you living those resolutions and goals you made at the beginning of the year, or are they merely fuzzy, quasi-memorable images that you’ve tucked away in a dusty corner in your subconscious? Since most people dropped all pretenses of goals a while ago–maybe even by February–I thought it might be a good time to revisit our goals, adjust them if necessary, and enter the last five months of the year with renewed vision.

For the purposes of this post, “goals” refer to the steps you need to take to achieve your big-picture dream.  Not “lose 5 pounds”…unless your dream is to become a successful fitness model or prize-winning boxer!

If your vision for yourself has changed (or you find yourself on a new path)…

You need new goals! It’s time to chuck them and create new ones. Life changes–we change, circumstances change–so it’s reasonable that our goals would change too. According to your new vision, set appropriate goals, sub-goals, and objectives.  Don’t hold on to goals that have no benefit just because you committed yourself to them, or already put in a lot of time and effort to achieve them.  Useless goals gobble up your valuable free time and distract you from your dreams.  That’s no good!

If your goals aren’t serving their purpose…

A tune-up might be in order. If you’re not energized when you declare your goals, take a look at how you’ve worded them. Use active verbs and rich adjectives to create powerful messages. For example, if your dream is to be the lead singer of multi-platinum selling band, some of your goals may be find x# band members who share my vision and live, eat, and breathe music; connect with a manager who is passionate about our music and will fight for our band’s best interests; book x# gigs per month to gain valuable experience and a loyal audience who will recommend our music and follow us to the ends of the earth. I have no interest in that dream, but I’m kinda psyched just reading those goals!

If you got sidetracked from your goals…

It’s ok, it happens! Just find your way back. But first ask yourself why you wandered off the path in the first place. Were you distracted by other things (or useless goals)? Did you lose your confidence or positive attitude? Did you get a little lazy? Knowing why you detoured will help you find the solution to moving in the right direction.

If you’ve hit a brick wall (don’t know how to move forward toward your goals)…

Are your goals too overwhelming? I’m not talking about your big-picture goals (a.k.a. dreams)–go big with those!–but the goals that lead to them. Make your goals big enough to push yourself, but not so big that they’re unmanageable. You want to build your confidence, not destroy it. Break your goals into smaller steps, however small they need to be.  Affirmations can be useful tools to help you think positively and focus in on what you’re aiming to accomplish. If you carry out one little step each day,  you’ll have reached your goals before you know it!

Closing thoughts

It’s easy to forget/ignore/lose sight of our goals during summer, when we spend our free time at family gatherings, friends’ barbecues, on vacation, and enjoying outdoor activities.  All fun stuff, and much needed!  But after getting into a routine of a crammed social calendar–and letting our goals fall by the wayside–it’s hard to get back on track once summer is over.  Enjoy summer while it lasts, but don’t stop reaching for your dreams. Try to do a little something every day to get you closer to your goals.  That way you won’t lose your mojo, and it will be a lot easier to kick things into high gear once summer is over.

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Why we could all use a little Dr. Seuss in our lives

Green Eggs and Ham. Yum.

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Oh, Dr. Seuss, may I gush praise bombastical? For your stories are magical, creative, fantastical.  You’re a master of words that are funny and silly– some decidedly fake like that Milli Vanilli.  Your characters are wise with the plans they devise, and they grow from life lessons right in front of our eyes.  Oh, Dr. Seuss, your work’s such a prize, I think everyone could use a little you in their lives!

The paragraph I wrote above pales in comparison to the skills of the great Theodor Seuss Geisel–aka Dr. Seuss.  However, it serves its purpose as an intro to an adored writer of children’s books even adults gladly admit to loving.  I remember eagerly opening his books as a child, the enticing titles catching my instant attention.  My eyes widened and darted about in an effort to soak up all the colorful pictures and delightful rhyming words.  In one sitting, I could come away from a Dr. Seuss visit with a deeper imagination and a little life lesson too. What more could you ask for from a kid’s book?

Why children of all ages love Dr. Seuss

  1. Whimsical, fantastical worlds.  Only someone who is young at heart and posses a childlike sense of awe and excitement could create such vibrant characters and places.
  2. Wordplay.  He uses tasty, juicy words and phrases…and then somehow rhymes them.  And a great deal of his words are completely made up. Wouldn’t you love for it to be socially acceptable to create your own words whenever you wanted?  I know I would!
  3. Valuable messages.  His stories and characters may be figments of the imagination, but we can apply his messages to a very real world.
  4. Pure joy.  I’m sure he had a great time writing those books.  He put a lot of love and joy into his work, and as a result, got just as much love and joy back from his readers.

I hope our appreciation for Dr. Seuss books doesn’t fall by the wayside on our journey through adulthood.  Being an “adult” doesn’t mean putting a lid on imagination and scoffing at all things unserious.  We should have time to be silly and play, and practice looking at things from a child’s point of view.  Schedule it in if you must!  Making these actions a habit will result in us becoming more well-rounded, happier (may I even say more evolved?) adults.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some funsillyrific adult responsibilities to cross off my to-do list!

What do you think?  Do you agree with me, or do you think I’m writing this post from a padded room?

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