Good People, Good Food, Good Earth, Good Life

Yes, I live in hyperboles. But I also live in reality and go by Einsteins quote “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Word up, Albert. Today was a perfect day, no lie.
But these days I’ve added another layer to my everyday. I’ve released life and the universe and its beautiful creatures from expectations. 2016 is my year of Trust. And since my surrender, I’ve ridden a beautiful wave filled with love, surprises, magic and peace beyond my wildest dreams. I simply said “Hey universe, I would like this” and the universe said “cool beans, give me a moment and I’ll make it happen”
We began La Vida Rica Roving Supper Club which led me to some of the most wonderful people in Austin. I’ve also deepened my friendships with longtime friends, as breaking bread and sharing stories around a table creates connection like no other. I’ve expanded my plant-based food prep and palette and found new ways to heal through food. Everyday, my heart opens more and more and trust has taken over most of my life. And at the end of the day, the answer is always love, whatever the question. At least as of Feb. 29th, 2016, that’s what I have found.
Today, I write from Boulder. A trip made in haste after my sisterfriend and I decided to embark on a new venture outside of our regular clinical gigs. Six weeks ago we decided to go where we could learn, research and explore alternative possibilities and bring them back to our patients, our community, our loved ones. And though I had no plans, except to visit family who is doing what we eventually want to do, I did really wish to visit The Kitchen. The Kitchen is a restaurant based in every aspect of the philosophy I attempt to embrace and share on a daily basis. Musk and Matheson are pioneers of the farm to table movement in the US, but more importantly, building community through food. Serious swoon. They’re living one of my many dreams. More on this later.
We woke up and immediately booked it to find amazing food. Denver was actually the birthplace of my brunch obsession. We went to Beatrice & Woodsley, sat at the bar and ate amazing food in a setting I can only describe as a fairy tale. The endless ceilings filled with aspens and birch wood, I felt like I was in a treehouse. The food was phenomenal, but the people made the brunch. JR (who is in a mixology show) and April were super kind and funny.
We then decided to check out a kombucha brewery, which turned into what Louis CK calls a “bang bang” on his show, two meals back to back. The small but rich menu called to me, so I had to eat again. Trying new preparations of fermented and pickled foods was super exciting for me. Again, super informed bar man, shared lots about the brewing experience and even showed us some pictures from his FFF show in Austin. My favorite kombucha was a combo of three made by Phillip, our lovely host- orange basil, cranberry lavender and citra dry hopped, so freaking good. We also had three sliders- albondigas, veggie and goat cheese with honey. The veggie was my favorite as it was filled with lots of pickled and flavorful veggies. YUM!
We then drove out to Berthoud to visit Justin’s aunt and uncle who introduced me to an elixir of health last year. Mary, his aunt, had briefly talked about it during her trip to Austin and said that her husband Michael has created an entire ritual around making it, so naturally we had to travel 1000 miles to check out his operation. They are salt of the Earth people, so warm and inviting and immediately treated us like family. This is how I like for most of my connections to go: no mask, fully present, completely authentic and true, just immediately jump in without any of the frivolous small-talk that pervades our society. It was so fun to sit and talk to Mary and Michael, share stories and cheese and breathe the fresh Colorado air. Wonderful all around. Perfect, actually.
After a quick lesson in Michaels spiritual practice and preparation of this magical beverage, we were on our way to Boulder. Again, no expectations, just wishes of connecting with amazing people, eating delicious consciously grown and prepared food, and going with the flow. We did have to ‘check-in’ to our airbnb, but otherwise, no plans. Melisa did want to go to Boulder Bookstore and see the book just released by one of her spiritual heroes, Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal, so we did. I just loved being surrounded by the smell of books, new and old. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. I spent about thirty minutes perusing the used book section and walked out with Thich Nhat Hanh, “How To Walk”, just in case I forgot. Moving and walking meditation is something everyone can do, at any time and has incredibly benefit for the mind and body.
Then we wanted food and of course, I remembered my one hope, my one wish, to eat at the place that inspired farm to table dining and community through food. Our dining experience was extraordinary. It probably ranks in my top five, actually maybe my top three. I’ve been lucky to have phenomenal meals and eating experiences throughout my life, especially in the last ten years as my food as medicine obsession has expanded. We decided to sit at the bar, a choice that we’ve happily made throughout our trip. You get to chat with the groovy bartenders, share stories and joke with folks around you, watch the scene from high chairs, maybe get some secrets or behind the scenes info and often get lots of extra goodies. Tonight was no exception. It did, however, exceed everyone of those aspects in Every.Single.Way.
First was our sweet, friendly and perfectly sarcastic bartendress. She was like a supermodel food and spirit encyclopedia. I’m constantly impressed with servers and bartenders and their bounty of knowledge in every ingredient on their menus, the farmers who grow their food, the distillers and brewers. I also love hearing as they wax poetic about the hints of rosemary and mint or whatever subtle flavors come out in their complex dishes. But this Lauren, knocked it out of the park. She is one special kid.
Then the manager, Michael, what a great person to have as a boss. He also worked the room and prepared cocktails. The night went like this: we would get some food, make a gushing comment and he would in and say “would you like the recipe?” (this only happened once, but I live in exaggerations). I felt my eyes widen and my heart erupt inside my chest, “YES!! PLEASE!! SHARE YOUR SECRETS!!” At that point I felt like Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny when the prosecuting lawyer offers him all of his evidence, which ends up being standard process, but Vinny feels like he just got the key to the unicorn kingdom. Same for me, finding out they do this often and even have recipes online.
Anyway, the food phenomenon continued and though I’m mostly plant-based these days, I had to try the Bolognese pasta dish. I am a self-proclaimed connoisseur of three things: ranch dressing, chilaquiles and Bolognese. I’ve had it in Italy, at Italian friends homes, at numerous Italian restaurants, but I’ve always gone back to the best, which was at Vespaio in Austin. Tonight, I have a new winner: The Kitchen. It takes them about 4 hours to cut the veggies, sautee the base, add the broth and seasonings, bring to a boil, then simmer for deep, rich, sweet baby Jesus flavors. This one had a cream in it as well. Yeah, I know. After a few bites, I asked if they were open tomorrow so I could return and get a full plate to myself. We also devoured garlic fries, wheatberry, squash, olive oil cake and a bit of tequila. Holy magnificence.
The whole experience was sprinkled with tomfoolery from our neighbor Peter to the right and a handsome silent type to Melisa’s left, brief, but pleasant interactions with most everyone who worked there. I even got to meet chef extraordinaire Conner and thank him for making my taste buds dance and sing. I honestly felt like I was living in my dream. This is what I want for every body. This is how every kitchen, dining room, home should be. In South America and Europe, this is how it feels. At least my experiences have in my travels. When I go home, this is my favorite part. Communing with family and friends, eating food prepared with loads of love and goodness, laughing, playing, telling stories, this is heaven to me. And on my travels, whether I hang out with locals or fellow travelers, the community component is always super strong.
We came home to some mindless entertainment, then slept in a sleep number bed. I slept like a baby and it was marvelous. Food, movement, community, meditation – walking and movement, community and play all in one day. If we can find a way to make our everyday filled with each of these components, our lives will shift dramatically. I promise.
That was yesterday. Today was just as perfect. More Rocky Mountains, Flatirons, more delicious mindful food, more movement through towering pines, gushing wind, and red rocks and most of all more beautiful human connection. Life is good. Life is amazing. My life of hyperboles feels more real in this moment than any other before it. Thank you to all of you who were part of it.
But this isn’t uncommon for me and my community. I live among independents who make the rules as they go. Some days, Justin and I have the exact same days as Melisa and I have had here in Colorado. A long time ago, I sat down and designed my perfect day and though I’ve revised it many times, the components are the same: food, meditation, movement, sleep, play and community. I encourage you to take some time to do this. It can be as detailed or specific as you want. Just create, imagine and write down what it looks like from sunrise to sundown or if you’re nocturnal, from sundown to sunrise.
Here is how I learned to do it from Lewis Howes:
1) Tech Break- Get away from all technology, go outside, run, walk, sit on a rock, by a stream, in your backyard and just breathe. Leave your phone at home and get inspired by the creative force that is nature. Do some upward dogs and get your heart and throat to open up to the universe. One hour, that’s all I ask.
2) Then after one hour get to a piece of paper, computer and write down the perfect day in 15-30 minute increments. Make a schedule.

Here are some tips and questions to ask yourself:
– Write everything down
– WRITE, WRITE, WRITE until you get it all out there.
– Let go of all shame or guilt and just focus on your heart.
– How do you want to feel right during this process?
– What kind of impact do you want to have?
– What types of experiences do you want to have?
– What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with? You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, remember this.

Bravo!! This envisioning exercise was a total game changer for what I wanted in my everyday. That’s why I can recreate this day 24-25 days out of the month. Let me know your thoughts on this exercise in the comments below. 🙂

Oh and by the way, the quiet-type next to Mel ended up being Kimbal Musk, the man who created The Kitchen through his passion for food and community. What a treat. Thank you Kimbal for rocking our world with your vision.

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