Monday, January 4, 2010

Live Your Values

"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." - Joseph Campbell

I was so excited to begin 2010. On New Year's Eve day, I went downtown to get my hair done. I had a long walk from the train station to the salon and I found myself locking eyes with strangers on the street and saying, "Happy New Year," to them out loud. I never made a conscious decision to do it; it just came out of me like I was speaking in tongues. It was oddly exhilarating and my bursts were all met with smiles and the same response in kind. I'm so glad I didn't censor myself, which would have been a classic Dana Joy move of old. Nope, instead I chose to go with what felt good; I let the joy fly and just kept going.

Real Food Rehab isn't your typical food blog. As I have evolved and changed over time, it has evolved with me. Real Food Rehab is essentially documenting my process of attempting to live what I value most and sharing all the resources, discoveries, tips, recipes and ideas with you along the way.

These are the values of Real Food Rehab:

Health, Pleasure, Authenticity, Quality, Beauty, Integrity, Creativity/Personal Expression.

My goal for this new year is to be the most authentic version of myself that I can be. This is not some fluffy aspiration. I take it very seriously. And I believe what it takes to get there is living what I value everyday. What does that mean? Stay tuned, because we are going to explore this in depth, in all kinds of creative, fun ways.

I've asked someone I greatly admire to step in and give us her take on this topic. Her name is Alie McManus and she is my (favorite) yoga instructor. I love Alie because she makes me laugh out loud in yoga class (traditionally unheard of), and she's radiant all the freaking time and I'm reminded of that scene in the deli in When Harry Met Sally, after Meg Ryan has her "orgasm," and the woman at the table next to her says "I'll have what she's having." That's how I feel about Alie. If you are thinking about taking up a yoga practice, Alie teaches a great beginning yoga series at yogaview in Chicago. So, here she is to give us a much needed boost for the start of our New Year...

Alie McManus:

As we begin a brand new year bright with inspiration to be our best, the question I find myself asking is "what do you value?"

This is an excellent question.

I have freshly realized that what I value is what makes me feel good!

Okay, so this may be an obvious answer at first, but curious and profound as we begin to explore what it is we do value in our lives.

To start, things that make me feel good are life affirming, empowering, and fun. The idea is to get out of my habitual mindset and ditch thoughts like, "what should I do” in favor of going for the joie de vivre!

Being happy and feeling good are natural. But we often forget this.

It's the DOs and DON"Ts and SHOULDs we impose on ourselves that can make keeping our New Years goals feel like climbing Mount Everest.

What may serve us most effectively in discovering what makes us feel our best is the act of getting out of our habitual-thinking mind and sensing how we really feel. Immersing ourselves in our actual experience is the single most powerful act to affect positive change on a daily basis.

What can we do to get out of our habitual headset and into the moment? Here are some ideas to try:

Breathe. Allow your lungs to fill up, retain that energy for a moment or more, and then let it out slowly and smoothly—maybe even sounding a sigh of relief.

Get in your body. Let it be as simple as a seated side stretch or seated twist. When you stretch you are focused on the sensation happening within your body.

Savasana. This is a classical yoga posture for deep relaxation. Lie flat on your back with your knees supported by a pillow, or a rolled up blanket and notice the feeling of your entire body with your eyes softly closed. Notice the subtle expansion of your body as the breath flows in and the softening of your body as the breath flows out. Keep drawing your attention to your body as you breath even as you find your mind luring you in other directions.

Stay True. Be willing to say No. Be willing to say Yes. If you are not sure, be honest and say, “I don’t know, let me think about it.”

Take your time. Do less and enjoy yourself more.

Just do it. When you feel the energy or the excitement of inspiration, do it, whatever it is you want to do, do it! Or take the first baby step needed to reach your inspired goal. Look at Bob Wiley, from the film What about Bob. Bob outlived his fears by taking baby steps, as well as a “prescribed” vacation from his problems!

Pause. Pause frequently and often. Pause, breath and relax.

Meditate. As long as 5 min-30min. Try as many mediation techniques as possible, there are lots.

Have fun. Paint, play, run, walk, look, visit, watch, and be, without questioning or doubting your self.

Forget it! Forget whatever is not serving your best interest. If your energy level goes down, if you are not excited, it you do not want to do it, then don’t!!!! Get rid of whatever is not working and focus on what is working!

Alie McManus loves traveling around the world and currently lives and teaches yoga in Chicago. Join Alie for class at yogaview and Moksha. Find out more about Alie at


Lynn Stevens said...

Just saw the article in the Sun-Times. Glad to have found you. I'm not much of a foodie, but the living part will keep me coming back!

Dana Joy said...

Lynn, I hope you do keep coming back. They'll be a nice mix of both, that's my goal. Thank you!