Tuesday, November 7, 2017


S P I R I T U A L   S M A C K  |  S T A Y I N G   I N   T O U C H
Another noteworthy guide to friendships with tips on how to keep strong bonds & not drift apart, even from a distance . . .

he physical isolation I felt this past year when we lived in the West TX desert ear Marfa is still vivid. Being plopped in an adobe home away from heat but also anyone I could remotely befriend taught me the one distinctive factor in my peace with being alone. It also taught me the importance of friendship—forging new ones and keeping old ones strong. As I reflected on in a previous post, it served its purpose in creating a haven for writing my upcoming book (Prestel/Random House Spring 2018); I had not one distraction. What it could have also handed or dealt me with is loneliness.

In a state of remoteness, our immediate emotional response is loneliness. As I said before, loneliness is an emotional response to the state of being alone. It is this state in which we cannot recognise that and feel a deep sense of disconnect that highlights the importance of holding onto our friendships. In a time of atomisation, most of us have a tendency or only have the energy to focus on our own microcosm of work & home balance. Yet, when we make a concerted effort to create the time to rekindle friendship or connect to others, we often find that we can be more productive or content in other areas of our lives. Here are some tips to reconnect to ourselves by reconnecting with others . . .

FaceTime or Face time

Take an inventory of the friends whom you either have not seen in a while or those who you'd like to see more often. Who is able to recharge you despite being burnt out? Reach out to make a date! It doesn't have to have be scheduled immediately in the coming few days; go back and forth about what your availabilities are within the coming weeks. Be mindful of holidays and vacations that are approaching.

If you don't have time to see a friend vis-à-vis or, like me in when I was in Texas, are too far from them, schedule a FaceTime or Skype date. This was my saving grace then and still is with friends living afar or even an hour away. It's hard for me to see my best friend with her work schedule and travel clashing with mine despite living just 50 minutes away. We manage to still keep in touch by scheduling FaceTime dates, something we used to do in TX and still stick to. 

When you do make a date for FaceTime, make sure to also schedule it with a shared Google calender invite so neither of you forget the call (which has happened to me far too many times!).

Group Chats

I know that this can be both a saving grace and a point of annoyance when you check your phone only to see 50 notifications from one group chat. Yet, this is still a much more concise way of keeping in touch with family members, colleagues, or college friends. It's also a great platform to get a mass of advice at once, as at least one person is certainly going to respond timely. It relieves the pressure of catching up with everyone in these group texts one on one. It also provides small systems of support to guide you at all times.

Snail Mail

One of my absolute favourite things to do is write & send postcards to friends and family. I do this especially when I'm on a trip by taking the time to go to a local store to pick out a nice postcard. It's such a delight to receive something personal in the mail & an art sadly long forgotten. Revive it by sending a little snail mail to a friend of either a long letter or simply to express something about them for which you're grateful!

Quick Calls or Unexpected Texts

These are also another way to not only strengthen bonds with your friends and family but brighten up the days of both parties. I know that even when I miss a call from someone I love, getting an unexpected call and hopefully a voice mail telling me they were calling to simply say "hi!" makes my day. Call a friend or family member tomorrow to do this and see where the conversation takes you. Even just a five minute call with an opening of "I know we're both short on time but I wanted to let you know how much I love and appreciate you" is enough. You can also express this over a short & sweet text, sprinkled with all the emojis your heart desires! Keep it light! I'm also known to send memes that I caption myself or a little haiku on the humours of life for a shared laugh; make it your own!

Monday, November 6, 2017


C U R R E N T L Y   C R E A S I N G
A collection of weekly reads to guide you through your days . . .

1 | How to wave a white flag to your body & be neutral with it
2 | Wise words for teenagers & beyond . . .
3 | Affordable & sustainably-made cashmere crew for you & for your early Holiday gifts

4 | How to stop self-sabotage & get motivated

5 | I believe in the importance of reading books beyond just the scope of our careers or direct interests. When I only read books related to wellness, I feel as if I'm ceaselessly working.
 This book is next on my to-read list . . .

6 | One of my favourite artists, Patti Smith, in Mexico City on two of my other favourites, Frida & Diego; romantic cafés; and why young people are going to save the world

7 | A cookbook to Feed the Resistance

8 | A Yemeni refugee who tells her story through her music

9 | How we can make others understand sexual harassment more clearly

10 | Six ways to keep on learning beyond school years

11 | Chicly-designed French soap that will make a warm host gift or a stocking stuffer

13 | A method you might not have tried for pain relief

14 | Why you should keep daydreaming

15 | An organic, Turkish cotton sock company because your feet deserve the best

the T H O U G H T  O F  T H E  W E E K
"The world only exists in your eyes . . .
You can make it as small
or as big as you want to"


Thursday, November 2, 2017


S P I R I T U A L   S M A C K  |  B O D Y  N E U T R A L I T Y
On body positivity, the disorder in the "wellness" world, & finding an alternative route to being with our bodies . . .

“To lose one's confidence in one's body is to lose confidence in oneself” 

                                                                                                                                                             — simone de beauvoir

When I was ten-years-old, I developed anorexia. Retrospectively, it seems that a child that age would not have such an awareness of the body. Yet, the trauma of moving from Istanbul to Washington, D.C. on a night's notice had shaken more than the awareness of the unknown into my mind. Dislocated from my home, I housed myself in my body. It wasn't vacant per se, going through the inhospitable under construction stage of puberty. As my whereabouts were changing, so was my body—from the big city to big boobs!

But big boobs never came as I stunted my growth through starvation. Two years of force feeding and it was forced out as a pun-of-a skeleton in the closet. It was no surprise that it came knocking again my sophomore year of college, when I was placed with a roommate who was facing her own demons of body dysmorphia. I found myself feeling like Caesar in front of the Rubicon, facing a battle that I thought I had already won years ago. Despite the psychological space I was in, I recognised that this was a battle against neither my roommate nor the larger society — it was one against myself.

My sense of self and relation to my body shifted. Rather than having my body grounded upon my experiences, I perceived it through the blurred lens of my roommate's own bodily engagements. And this is the reality many live in the age of social media & the "wellness" world. We live in these microcosms, a construction site for our own bodies. These separate bodies are constantly measured up against one another in a larger architecture of bodily ideals.

“The body, however, is multiple; it is not parts, tissues, mind over the body, hunger over stomach pangs, or organs to be enacted”

The body, however, is multiple; it is not parts, tissues, mind over the body, hunger over stomach pangs, or organs to be enacted. Precisely unlike the measured calculations of our bodies and the flesh of a comparison of our hearts, it's a scattered plot. Like the electrical activity of our beating hearts, our bodies fluctuate and so do our reactions to it. To place an expectation of positivity on our body seems only to be a repackaged version of perfectionism.

And that's not only why, for some of us, body positivity is not the answer.  When thinking of the movement, many often conjure it up regarding size. Or rather, plus-sized women. Yet, this clearly marginalised group is only part of the picture and often the one to which this movement predominantly speaks. There are other groups, such as those that are disabled, in which some of whom body positivity seems out-of-reach. Or those facing chronic pain or invisible illnesses, such as fibromyalgia. Whether it is a mental disability, such as an eating disorder, or a physical one, to love a body that is in flux or as if it's functioning against you is a difficult message. 

In my case and those who advocate for body neutrality, to hear a message like "my body loves me and it doesn't fail me" rings untrue. I lost my period for years, faced infertility, and early onset bone disease because of anorexia. Many people lose a fight against their body due to this disorder—it has the number one mortality rate of any mental illness. To hear that my body doesn't fail me shifts the conversation to one in which I have somehow failed it. It blames the individual for not having done their body service when disability, disease, and disorder are not choices. 

Neither is the case for genderqueer individuals, as advocate point out, who are also often left out of the body positivity movement. Many also face body dysmorphia, where one day an aspect such as "feminine" curves can feel as a positive point of identification with the body and others as a point of disassociation. 

“Rather than putting a stop to the bleed, we can end up band-aiding a still-running wound”

Sometimes, body positivity can also mean that we should love our bodies rather than face what is causing us to feel the way we do, not just about our bodies but the root cause of the issue of body negativity. So, rather than putting a stop to the bleed, we can end up band-aiding a still-running wound. As I often say to put humour into it, we end up "should"-ing all over ourselves. 

Body positivity might be the answer for you but for others, the clean-up comes through body neutrality for some, as it did for me on my path to recovery. That's why I'm here on this site and why I wrote my book. I approached my body the same way as I do my incalculable, unpredictable life: by remaining neutral. When we're having a bad day, we don't go on pretending that it's a good one. We face our days as they come, neutrally. So why don't we approach our bodies the same way? Not swinging the pendulum towards the extreme of hate or frustratingly thrusting ourselves towards love, but just hanging still as we attempt to "hang together" a coherent sense of our selves. Seeing this neutral spot as a ring in the ladder to perhaps one day climbing upwards towards body positivity or love. As we shift our perspective on our own body, may we be loving towards the bodies that surround us: towards the ones in hate, as we can understand their story; towards the ones in neutrality, for their courage; and those in love, for the hope that one day we will be, too. Until then, here's to being with our bodies as they were, as they are now, as they will or can be. One day at a time . . .

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


B E A U T Y   B I T E S  | D I G E S T I V E   P I C K L E D   V E G G I E S
An easy recipe to make in a pickle of crunchy & juicy bites to cure or prevent sour tummies  . . .

This recipe is a great appetiser before any meal but especially the approaching heavy ones symbolic of the Holidays. Raw apple cider creates an alkaline environment and provides necessary enzymes to increase digestion. Fennel seeds are carminative, relieving gas; diuretic, relieving bloat; and anti-spasmodic, calming stomach pain following an uncomfortable meal. A triple threat to anything threatening to upset your stomach this season and forever more . . .

F E N N E L  P I C K L E D  B E E T S  &  R A D I S H E S
Enough chopped raw radishes & beets to fill your large glass container of choice
Filtered water
1 teaspoon raw coconut sugar, per 20 ounces
1 tablespoon fennel seeds per 20 ounces, which is Ayurvedically cooling and calming to the digestive tract
1/4 teaspoon Real Salt, per 20 ounces

I. Place the roughly-chopped or halved raw radishes and beets—I used baby radishes and candy-striped beets—into your container.

II. Fill it 1/4 way through with apple cider vinegar and the rest with filtered water until the vegetables are covered. Add the fennel seeds, coconut sugar, and salt. Place the lid on the jar and give it a good shake to combine.

III. Let it sit on the counter, away from direct sunlight or heat, for 24-48 hours then refrigerate before serving.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


S P I R I T U A L   S M A C K  |   O N  F R I E N D S H I P S
On how to notice when friendships no longer serve us, pack our emotional baggage, & kindly depart . . . 

s tough as it is to face, there is more than likely someone in your life who is not serving you. Often, the offender is a romantic partner. Sometimes, frankly both parties are offenders in an incompatible relationship. This can be due to a multitude of reasons, with communication being the primary one. How many times in a relationship have you felt unheard or were not listening attentively? How about your or your partner's passive aggressive reaction that can too often replace clear, honest relation of  emotions &  viewpoint of an issue-at-hand? These are only a few of the questions to comb through in straightening out detangled relationships.

The same also applies to friendships, which can be as emotionally-charged as romantic partnerships. We move in and out of romantic relationships, speak openly about the travails of our break-ups, and hopefully grow in effect. Why do we keep mum or remain stagnant in comparison with our friendships? We face many transitions starting from our late teens to twenties, moving from high school to college to jobs. These new environments bring new new people into our lives. We shift and change as people in result. Friends we might have connected with previously might no longer be in alignment with the person we have grown into over the years. It's ok.
We shift & change as people throughout our lives. Friends we might have connected with previously might no longer be in alignment with the person we have grown into over the years.

It's not our fault that we don't shed as serious of a light in analysing the impact our friendships have on us versus romantic partnerships. Think about the portrayal of friendships, specifically female ones, over the years in media. Take the intricate friendship of Abbi & Ilana in Broad City in comparison to other popular female-oriented sitcoms as an example. Almost all shows centered around women have the over-arching plot focusing on men. Even when the friendships are intricate, such as those in Sex and the City, it's still the clichéd narrative of the women seeing themselves and hearing each other's narratives through their lives with men. It is called Sex and the City after all. Broad City, on the other hand is radical in that its plot revolves around the female friendship alone, something that is often times the only functioning aspect of Abbi & Ilana's lives. 

 In a life where we're often atomic—functioning at a base level where our energy levels are only sufficient to make our world revolve around only us—how can we expand? When we feel so depleted we can't seem to even attend to ourselves or feel as if we're out-of-function, it's our certainly family but also friends that are often the dependents in our lives. Yet, when we have toxic friends or ones who no longer serve us in our lives, we can feel drained even further. 

So, this week let's take a closer look at our friendships. For the ones who we know recharge us even from afar, when was the last time you checked-in? Call him, her, or them. Don't let them be fleeting thoughts or to-do's that you never check off the list, like that Apple software update that you always ask to be reminded of tomorrow . . . for weeks. For the ones with whom you lost touch, are they worth rekindling & how do they light your fire—to burn you down or shoot you upwards? If they're ones to let go of, how will you let go of your attachments to what the friendship used to be & even who you were at the time. 

I have a meditation in my upcoming book (Spring 2018) focusing on releasing the energetic ties from people who no longer serve, which you can pre-order
here or here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


C U R R E N T L Y   C O V E T I N G  |  T H E   T H I R L B Y  :  T H E  B O O K !

My long-awaited book (Prestel/Random House) The Thirlby: A Field Guide to a Vibrant Mind, Body, & Soul is now available to pre-order! It'll be released across the nation at all bookstores & boutiques on April 2018. If you pre-order now, it'll also arrive on your doorstep the exact day of release! I cannot wait for you all to get your hands on the book I have been writing and shooting for the past year. Amidst intense immigration issues, leaving my job to move to Texas, getting married, planning a wedding in three (YES) months, a health scare, and losing my grandmother amongst other big life events, I did it! 

Pre-order on Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

From meditative mantras and herbal first aid to ideas for zero-waste living and delicious grain-free and sugar-free recipes, the book helps readers make mindful decisions every day--whether it's what to eat after working out or how to tame anxiety.

I poured my heart into this book as it was my salvation through it all & I hope it becomes just that for you, too—a figurative hand holding yours on your journey back home to yourself. 

Click here to pre-order!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


S P I R I T U A L   S M A C K  |  H O L Y   B O D Y
Reflections on our sexualised bodies through my modern spin on Ginsberg's Howl . . .

I have posted only a few snippets of my poetry here, but the times are calling me to share more. I have two on death in my upcoming book's Spiritual Smack section, which will be available in all bookshops natiowide April 2018 but you can pre-order here or here. I see the dying of a nation, of our rights, and of love. 

The vulgarity you'll read here is but a mild rendition of the counter-anger many feel as a result of these violations; to say it is impolite language would be an insult upon the transgressions we face day to day. The hatred that we face not only through what surrounds us but in the brutal silence of the words we speak to ourselves looking at our own reflections. May we soften the words we have for ourselves & carry a big stick in defense of all. Here's to sharing more & hearing your thoughts . . .


Holy Body

Open secrets, what does it mean?
To bite into the red tongue
Of grief
Carried by
who have not been touched an inch, no
but left with but one purblind eye
staring skyward through which no hope could squeak through
who have climbed upon scales to pick their bodies apart,
bone by bone
by ideals spoken from dusty books
—a “delicate” Jane Eyre and “thin and pale” Bartleby
(eating only but a ginger-nut)
to statics and touch-screens
who kissed the hungry lips of another
who have then kept those feverish lips quiet in fear of
men (no, and women) against love,
which does not equal their labour
in their cubicle across Cerberus with half-baked tongues yacketayakking
to keep us still behind the gates
who works three jobs and a night shift, a shepherd of her little lambs
feeling like a sheep herself in a herd led by a wolf
not in a lambskin trojan, no
—riding his own horse over the body of our rights
for our bodies, and vaginas, and breasts, and frozen eggs (and dreams), and clits, and cocks, and in-betweens
for her, and him, and they, and them
for black, white, and all shades until we go blue in voicing the fight
Because this is not a voice of the voiceless for
who speaks for oneself must speak also for another
—an ally or a blind sheep of Big Brother

Monday, October 16, 2017


T H E   G U I D E  |  O N  S L O W I N G   D O W N
A  guide to recovering from trying times & helping those facing it worldwide . . .

s I type this, I take breaks to massage my inner eyebrows. I take long gulps of what is now room temperature nettle leaf tea, because my erratic mind forgot I even brewed it. I make a concerted effort to drop my shoulders. I take a grand interest in staring off into my desktop keyboard . . .

Last week swept the rug beneath my feet with difficult-to-digest news regarding my health. It stopped me right in the tracks that I have sped my train on ceaselessly, smoking off the rails into the night. I don't ever stop on my own volition; I suppose I needed an external break to be pulled on my path. And I know I'm not the only one chugging along their last drop of oil, rusting.

This is a guide to holding down the pages of our narrative & following its words with our finger. A guide to slowing down in the face of quick-turning events that make us want to metaphorically throw the book at the wall. A guide to not skim over the tragic events in our lives or tragedies surrounding us. No, it's to instead the bend the bind of that book and reflect. In times that hit us with life's plot-twists, to have both the courage and space to ask: how have I served myself, what is this serving me, and how can I serve others? In my own reflections following a difficult week, here are some practises I have cultivated to continue turning the next page over . . .

Slow Food, Slow Living
I believe we can learn lessons beyond knife skills in the kitchen and slow food is the embodiment of this perspective. When we prepare foods that need to simmer, slow-roast, or culture, it's a subliminal re-patterning of our habitual need for instant results. We want to eat it now

When we face adversity, same. We often search for a quick resolution, even when we are aware that certain situations require patience and time to resolve. We can reflect the idea of slow food in the realisation that time & patience will lead to a greater result. Pickled onions, for instance, just won't taste as good if they don't sit to do just that: pickle. Take the time to make slow food and meditate on this thought process. Try some sumac pickled onions. I like to top off this toast with the said pickled onions, a sprinkle of this, and local pink pearl apples.

Now that your food is simmering or culturing, turn your attention to what you can do in the meantime .  . .

Body Awareness Meditation: The Battery Pack
During my first visit since my difficult past week, my acupuncturist immediately noted my drained energy without my having said a word. The acupuncture treatment was necessary for it & my passing out in a heavy-breathing nap was not surprising. I transcended out of my body. 

However, he also brought me right back into it with his recommendation of a novel-to-me body awareness technique. It is a technique that goes hand-in-hand with slow living—one to cultivate a body that is doesn't utilise speed but efficiency in completing tasks. When we have more than we can chew on our plates, our tendency can be to rush through as many tasks as we can, unaware of the errors and frankly unawareness that might cause. Despite what our perfectionist tendencies tell us, we don't have to go at every single task at our 100 percent . . .

Instead, before you begin a task, first analyse how much effort it requires you to expend to do a good job. It doesn't have to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T; what would be good enough? This might require you to lower the bar for yourself a bit—how would it feel to be kinder to yourself, knowing you can still complete a task without slaving over it, knowing you have done enough? Not the bare minimum but enough, without the ensuing thoughts after completing it of what you could have done more. 
How would it feel to be kinder to yourself, 
knowing you can still complete a task without slaving over it, 
knowing you have done enough?

This way, we're not running on empty after spending 100 percent of our energy on only one task. We can see our body as a battery pack, a machine that is highly capable on running on battery mode but is also plug available. We can recharge ourselves throughout the day, not only by working efficiently but meditating on just that image. Before you begin your task and as you work on it, picture your spine plugged into a socket, a direct charge to get your brain juiced back up. You can even let your imagination go wild and picture 100 batteries being charged—if one is drained, you got 99 more . . . You have 99 tasks but energy ain't one.

This is an area that is best kept simple in trying times. Our physical and emotional bodies are already depleted, so overwhelming them with too many supplements is counterintuitive. Instead, I recommend picking one anti-anxiety or panic-mode supplement out of the three I can recommend: this oil, this plant medicine by Sun Potion, or bathing in this

Other-Focused Gratitude
Although making lists on what we're grateful for in our lives, we can expand that by sharing it with the people we are grateful for. 
The easiest way to practise this other-focused gratitude is by noting birthdays. Instead of writing on their Facebook feed, call them and send them a card. I love this zero-option for birthday cards with artist-curated designs, including ones rom my favourites such as Mr. Boddington's Studio, Kate Spade, and John Derian. Throw a New Yorker cartoon one in there for an "it me" laugh. Take a moment to note upcoming significant birthdays—I use Facebook—then write cards as a mental break, which not only can brighten your perspective but the day of the recipient as well—win win!

With the amount of tragedies others are facing recently, it's understandable to have a multitude of bemusing reflections: that our own difficulties are diminutive in comparison coupled with a paralysis of what cause to assist with and how. The way to tackle this is to first acknowledge that we have the world-at-large and we have our own macrocosm, with its own tectonics that shake up our respective world. To feel a sense of despair or helplessness for yourself amidst that of others is o.k. and necessary in order to be there for others. We only deplete ourselves of the energy we can save in lending a helping hand if we don't take care of ourselves in the face of our own tragedies. 
It's like an emergency on a plane; you must put the air mask on yourself first before you assist anyone else who might be incapable of doing so. 
If you're currently processing a difficult time, allow yourself the space to do so.  It's like an emergency on a plane; you must put the air mask on yourself before you assist anyone else who might be incapable of doing so. Because if you don't, two lives rather than one would be lost. Allow yourself breathing space. Just as you will turn immediately to the person in need to put on their air mask after yours is on, turn to volunteering or activism as a part of your process in healing. We hurt differently but heal together. Pick just one cause to focus on that truly calls to you rather than diluting your efforts by dabbling in a few. This might be personal—a loved one suffering the effects of a recent hurricane—or sheer sense of humanity. Then, research both remote & local ways you can assist in relief. I have a few pointers here on helping out with current efforts. 

Patterned Tension Release
Last but certainly not least, ease the tension off your body: don't let your emotional body shift the alignment of your physical one. Notice not just hunched shoulder but small tensions as well. Are your brows furrowed? Is your jaw clenched? Is your tongue pushing towards the roof of your mouth or towards your teeth? How do your eyes feel? Is your head jutting forward? Soften all of them . . .