Love Yourself a Latte | Jennifer Hulley Food Photographer Hamilton / Toronto Ontario

 
 
Jennifer Hulley Food Photographer Writer Hamilton Toronto
 

I'm fairly certain I've tasted heaven. And it tasted like freshly toasted sourdough bread slathered in butter along side a warm latte sprinkled with cinnamon.  Love, pure and simple.  

The concept of self love is one that frequently circles around the internet, through popular media and the genre of self help / improvement blogs, articles and inspirational quotes. It focuses on the importance of pouring unconditional love to yourself. To accept yourself as you are, find beauty and grace in your present situation and most importantly take time and energy to consciously make decisions and take action in ways that promote your welfare and well being. We often focus on things like pampering yourself – taking a mini vacation, getting your nails done, writing out thoughts of gratitude or taking time out of your day for some yoga and meditation or to go for a brisk and refreshing walk. 

Are these things acts of self love? Sure. If that’s an experience that makes you genuinely happy and whole. But if it doesn’t? 

The key here is knowing what makes you happy. This is not as easy as it sounds. We tend to mosey along the conveyor belt of life, doing things that we are supposed to do, enjoying things we are supposed to enjoy and basically going along for the ride. It takes a lot of power, clarity and awareness to stop the conveyor belt and ask yourself what is it that makes you truly happy.  

And that’s just the first minefield. Once we are aware of what brings us pure joy, contentment and happiness an interesting exercise is to look further and see how frequently we are making time for those things. Do you love the experience of sipping a coffee in a beautifully designedindependent café? Great! Do you find you are more often than not spending your time grabbing some java in a Starbucks or Tim Hortons drive through? Not so great.  

The cold reality is that often we deny ourselves the things that bring us the most happiness. This usually comes from a subconscious place of fear, guilt, shame. Often we are not even aware those feelings lay way below our surface. They can be feelings like guilt on spending money when you should be putting it away for your family, fear that if we do something we love but others find totally geeky that we will be outed for the true loser that we really are, or even shame in spending time on something others classify as frivolous or selfish, such as a time on your own. 

Now, here's something to think about: if certain thingscan bring you such uninhibited enjoyment and pleasure then what can the act of denying yourself this have over time on your feelings of self love, life satisfaction and well being? 

I love food. I love everything about food. I love the geekery and science behind it, I love the experience of baking/cooking and creating with it. I love to read about it, style it, photograph it, and most importantly eat it.  The idea of having a slice of handcrafted bread or a forkful of freshly rolled pasta brings me such joy.  However, I typically don't indulge in these things unless I am on holiday. Weird, right? Pretty counter-intuitive it seems. While spending some time in Paris, I suddenly allow myself the luxury to indulge in a pastry at breakfast. Or, I'll take the time to sip some ridiculously good wine and eat a fresh pizza al fresco in Florence, even if it's 2pm. But at home? Rarely. More often than not it's low sugar,  avoid specific carbs, up the kale and quinoa intake andkeep it clean. 

I don't even think I was conscious of the fact that while t home, which in reality is about 95%  of my year, I exist in a constant state of deprivation. Not deprivation in that I am starving myself. Believe me,  quite the opposite. I eat an almost nauseating amount of food every day. People who know and love me have come to accept my states of hanger that come on quickly and have adjusted to the fact I need to eat every 2-3 hours. But the deprivation IS there. I have been depriving myself of the things that typically bring me huge amounts of joy. The slices of fresh bread just because. The glass of wine with lunch at home. The baking a new fancy treat for no other reason than it grounds me and makes me feel right.  

It's not that I have been totally banishing these things from my life. I have existed in a sort of limbo state with one foot in and one foot out of these experiences. Sure, I'd let myself bake, but only if there was a reason for it or an event to bring stuff to. Sure I'll grab a slice of bread but only if it meets the criteria for high protein, low sugar and fits into my concept of a well rounded day of food.  

Since the awareness of this came into my conscious, I am in a position where I can make changes. Where I can decide to actively choose to experince and spend out(both in time and money) on the things and experiences that make me happy on a daily basis. Does this mean I throw all ideals of health out the window and go on a raging bread and butter binge washed down with red wine at 10 am? As glorious as this sounds, no. Because for me, being healthy and feeling good is a BIG part of what brings me happiness. However, a big part of health and happiness is balance. And in an effort to establish better balance I've made a pact to consciously indulge more in my interests and things that contribute to a state of happiness. Part of this was signing up for baking arts and George Brown College this past month and another part today was grabbing some fancy wine and fresh pizza dough on my way home from the farmers market today.  

And for now, I have to go because my second slice of sourdough toast has just popped and is calling to be buttered and devoured.  

La vita è dolce my friends, if you just let it.