Dear Sugar Shells,
On this last Friday before Thanksgiving and the official holiday blitz - and before another calendar page flies off my wall! - let's talk about feasting. Shall we??
When you read the word "feast," I wonder...what do you imagine? What does this concept mean to you? What pictures come to mind?
Here's a plump thirty seconds to think about it...
Ok. Whatcha got?
For me, this word means something very special. I feast every single day, and I'll tell you all about it in just a sec.
But first, I'll explain what "feast" used to mean in my personal dictionary.
Most immediately, it meant needing to unbutton my jeans after an absurdly large meal. It meant lengthy food preparations, equally stressful and joyful...including list-making (yay!), covering yellowed recipe cards with flour and egg splatter, and what seemed like hours of washing dishes. It meant sparkling apple cider and warm crust-a-licious PIE! It meant annoying my dad with long, fierce hugs; sneaking small pieces of cooked turkey to our family dog, Chip; and decorating the table with garden roses and Grandma's fancy china.
In other words, "feast" was narrowly defined as eating too much rich, delicious food with my weirdly wonderful family on a holiday. Synonymous with over-indulgence, "feast" felt tinged with guilt and a touch of regret (especially when the jeans eventually did get unbuttoned). It was something that happened just a few times per year.
Things have most definitely changed.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, I feast every damn day.
My mentor Martha Beck teaches in The Joy Diet that "a real feast is any activity that gives you true nourishment: love, learning, any expression of your thoughts or talents, the act of bringing your mind home to the physical anchor of your body."
Yes!!! Feasting as an anytime, any day activity. Feasting as an effortless treat. Feasting in the present progressive tense!
Here's what feasting looks like in my life, as of late:
- I feast on rest by sleeping at least seven hours per night, taking naps when needed, and simply lying down to take a break.
- I feast on wellness when I drink coconut water before attending a yoga class and then enjoy a hot shower afterward. Or when I take the time to prepare a fresh, colorful salad for myself (instead of microwaving a frozen Trader Joe's chicken tikka).
- I feast on freedom when I block out a day on my calendar for zero appointments or tasks, and wake up on that day reveling in the utter spaciousness.
- I feast on beauty constantly. Nature is my favorite source for beauty feasting, eight days a week: from autumn leaves and puffy white clouds (available in the suburbs!) to wild beach flora and misty redwoods in the forest.
(Cheryl Strayed tells us to "Put yourself in the way of beauty" and I love this instruction because I can always do it right! Beauty lives everywhere; it is simply a matter of looking. When we look with attention, appreciation, and the breath, we're feasting.)
And now, on to my favorite: the love feast!
- I feast on love even more often than I feast on beauty. When my nephew writes me a card and sends it in the mail, that's a love feast. When my niece calls me on FaceTime and asks me if I can come over and play Candyland, that's a love feast. I practically explode with joy when I'm around those two sugar monkeys, as you well know. But there's more. My husband bringing home groceries, Emma the Brave curling into a lap snuggle, writing a card to a friend - these are all love feasts, and the best part is that love feasts are ALWAYS available.
Which brings me, somewhat tearfully, to another kind of feast: gratitude.
This week I received a surprise card in the mail from one of my beloved clients who attended the October retreat. It sits right here in front of me, on my desk. She wrote:
"Julie! First off, I just want to acknowledge that you are great at what you do. Thank you for sharing those gifts and your own personal stories / vulnerability with us. I am so beyond glad that I was able to be a part of your first official retreat. You rocked it and we were all truly feasted!"
Now, that is one hell of a feast right there. Love, gratitude, beauty (because, her stationery!) all in what might seem like an ordinary card.
But there's nothing ordinary about it! This thoughtful missive represents an extraordinary feast. It truly nourishes me, and in so many ways.
So, feasting has become a hugely meaningful part of my life, you see. It's no longer reserved only for the holidays. And this is why I teach feasting on retreat. We practice living it together, letting it sink into our cells, and really allowing our experiences to be as extraordinary and as nourishing as they really are.
If you come on the DreamTime Retreat in January, you can bet that you'll be feasting in about a squillion different ways. And I hope you do! You can feast on the spectacular natural loveliness of the ocean, the beach, the expansive garden around the house, the mountains behind us; you can feast on serious rest - including designated nap times, relaxing on plush sofas, and plentiful sleep hours; and of course, you can feast on the deeply nourishing, organic foods prepared lovingly for us by KT, our private chef. And, equally important, I'll ensure that you feast on the quietly powerful, transformative inner work that will serve as a marvelously strong foundation for your own extraordinary expansion. Full retreat details are here.