This month, we present Elena Rego as Woman As Wolf- an Everyday Woman, Extraordinary Things.
Elena Rego is a writer committed to creating work that highlights conscious living where it applies to Life Design, Feminist Spirituality and Food.
A digital nomad, she works from wherever she may be in the world and writes for various publication online including, TheGratitudeSessions.com, FoodPractice.com and JonAndElena.com.
You can find Elena Rego at the usual social media corners of the internet:
WAW: Recently you launched an eBook entitled, Winter: A Turning Inward, the first book of a series called, Food Practice Through The Seasons. How would you explain the content you share on your food blog?
Elena: FoodPractice is about finding our way back to a conscious and present relationship with food. It’s more than recipes, it’s about how our sense of self worth reflects in how we relate to, take in and nourish ourselves with food. The website is also about creating a conscious and celebratory culture around our dinner table by not only honoring old family and cultural traditions, but by creating new culture as well.
WAW: How does Food Practice differ from your typical food blog?
Elena: Food Practice is different from other food blogs in that cooking is a part of what is covered on the site, but it’s only a small portion of it. We cover practices that help bring us back into conscious and present relationship with food, as well as food politics, Slow Food and the practicalities of feeding ourselves in our own kitchens.
WAW: How did you discover the Slow Food Movement and do you think it changed your relationship with food, if so, how?
Elena: I actually don’t remember how I discovered Slow Food. It was always there in the back of my mind. Somewhere I had heard about it and it seemed to fit so perfectly with what I already believed and felt about food that I melded with the movement naturally, without much fanfare.
My spiritual practices focus a lot on cultivating presence through the modality of pleasure and full physical embodiment. It’s natural, based in the bone and flesh of my being. Slow Food is about the bone and flesh of the earth. They certainly don’t state it like that, but if you dove into the Slow Food Movement, originating in Italy, you find that real, simple, accessible food for all is the basis of how they savor and derive pleasure in food and in life. I resonated with it so well that the politic behind the movement fit me like a glove.
WAW: You and your husband are currently traveling the world as ‘digital nomads’, how have your travels inspired Food Practice and what you are offering to your audience?
Elena: This is an interesting and challenging question for me right now! Traveling poses a lot of challenges for me in terms of feeding myself well while navigating a gluten intolerance. Some countries are very aware of the issue and offer all sorts of resources by way of great food, and others do not. So personally, this is part of a growth process for me in terms of learning how to navigate what is available and what isn’t and how to nourish myself well.
The other side of this however, is super exciting. There have been countries, like Italy, Dominican Republic, Spain and Thailand, that aren’t plagued by the Western fad of Americanizing their cuisine. Places like Spain and Italy are fiercely regional in their cuisine which means what they eat is intimately married to the land they are on, the town or state. What is typical of cuisine in Tuscany is NOT at all what is typical cuisine in Sicily, and they are very quick to tell you that.
Experiencing this for me has actually been emotional and inspiring, because spiritually it speaks to being deeply and loyally tied to the land on which these populations live. It’s something that I feel we are sadly missing in places where we have gotten use to having access to foods even out of season because it’s all being imported from all parts of the world. It also speaks to a deep longing in my being for that level of intimacy with the land I live on.
the other thing that I’ve loved about exploring other countries is watching the way people eat. The people of Thailand don’t really cook as much at home as they eat out at markets, small side street carts and locally owned restaurants. And when they do, it’s a social affair. You go out to grab a nosh and socialize with people. Food is also cheaper to eat this way for them. But when I was in Bangkok, away from the more touristy places, it was not unusual to find that by sun down people pulled out chairs, blankets and flat pieces of cardboard to sit on the sidewalk near a food stall and just eat with their friends.
I can go on about this forever, but back to answering your question! More than anything, what traveling gives me and by extension, my audience, is the benefit of the growing understanding of what food truly symbolizes for us in the world. Most of my readers are in the Western world and we are plagued daily with messages and cultural shifts that deplete our natural connection to both what our bodies truly need and what the land we live on provides us, needs and how we relate to it.
I’m growing and learning daily. All of that gets passed on in my writing and offerings over at Food Practice.
WAW: You have been hosting ‘The Gratitude Sessions‘ via Periscope, in what ways do you think practicing gratitude in your life has changed you?
Elena: This is a huge question. The shortest answer I can give you is that practicing Gratitude has expanded my sense of possibility, Life and joy. I’ve been doing it now for so long that it’s almost easy to miss how it’s changed me.
More than anything, what gets me through challenging times, is this very acute awareness that things are not all challenging, or all bad, and even in the midst of grief, the world is constantly gifting me with abundance. And I’ve learned that abundance comes in so many forms! It’s about moments in a day that are nourishing, filled with simple pleasures or connections with others. Focusing on these things, and literally being trained now to hunt for them each day, I find that my outlook on life is expansive, able to hold both the beautiful and the challenging at the same time. I do this now in such a way where something that can seemingly be devastating doesn’t anchor me down the way it might have 20 years ago.
Gratitude gives me a much broader perspective on what my life entails. It acts as both a joy magnet and a balancer when life throws me curve balls.
We can be very myopic creatures when things hurt us or we are grieving, only seeing the pain, but having a steady gratitude practice keeps you centered in the reality that it’s not all painful or bad or scarce.
I’d also add that having a gratitude practice has deepened my capacity to feel with greater depth. Those things and moments in my life that I’m grateful for, I feel them to such a depth, it sometimes feels as if I’ll explode from the joy at having it or experiencing it. It’s created a much bigger life for me. And not necessarily because I have more, but because I experience it in a deeper way.
WAW: Between managing ‘The Gratitude Sessions’ and your blog, Food Practice, what are some ways you practice self care?
Elena: Practicing self care is also an ongoing evolution for me. I find that over the years what I need changes. But currently it’s all about morning time. I wake up before Jon, my husband, and I’ll do a meditation and some sort of stretching or yoga. I find that more than anything, the early quiet morning helps me start my day with a quieter mind and a slow pace that facilitates presence for me throughout the day.
Routine is also important for me. Traveling all the time and working for myself means that I set my own schedule, but that can also mean that there is no schedule at all, you know? I don’t function well with a lack of structure and it tends to create more stress than productivity for me. Routine that I stick to, is super helpful in making sure that I do the work I want to do, but also do the other things I want and needs to do with my time.
This leads me to boundaries. I am incorporating more boundaries around when I’ll look at emails and answer them, when and how much time I actually spend browsing through social media (which is hard) and who I invest my time in socially and who I will not. I’m much choosier these days about who I give my energy to.
On a more personal note, I drink a superfoods smoothie every morning that I can, depending on where we are living and what I have access to. I also slather loads of oil on my skin after exfoliating daily, and as politically incorrect as it might sound for some, I lay out as naked as the environment will allow under the sun to worship and drink up the vitamin D. It soothes and sates a deep part of my bd like nothing else!
WAW: Do you have a nonnegotiable?
Elena: I used to have a very long list of non negotiables. I find however, that as my own internal state shifts over time, what I attract into my life is more reflective of consciously cultivated dynamics. I don’t have to set up boundaries against many of the things I used to, simply because they don’t enter my life anymore. They don’t live within me.
With that said, a reoccurring issue that I’m working through is that of facing the consequences of being in relationship with people pleasers. The disease to please, we call it.
More and more I’m realizing just how much lying this disease requires of people and consequently I find myself in interactions with people whose words hold very little weight and foster an odd sense of distrust underneath the surface.
From a rules of engagement point of view, I’m not interested in engaging any sort of relationship with people that seem to create this sense of distrust. And from a personal self facing point of view, I am continuously challenged to look at myself and how still there are times in which I default into people pleasing of my own.
This means that really, the nonnegotiable is with myself. I’ve worked hard at learning to trust myself, to speak my truth even when it means not pleasing someone else’s needs or expectations. But I’m still very much a work in progress and there are times when I default to just towing the line or saying something to keep another happy and not rock the boat. In that sense, it’s not even about me having interactions with people that lie, so much as it’s about me, lying in order to not rock the boat.
My nonnegotiable is both sacrificing the truth in order to prevent the natural evolution of movement and facilitating that in others. My daily prayer is that I get better at this as I move forward.
WAW: As a creative entrepreneur and someone that is fearlessly pursuing her dreams, what are some of the things you’ve struggled with the most, internally and externally?
Elena: Discipline is challenging for me. It’s something I have to work on daily. The other thing is the balance between just creating and manifesting a viable business that produces a healthy and steady inflow of money. I worry that what my soul is here to communicate isn’t going to come across in a manner that it accessible to people and that ultimately, I won’t be of service. And I struggle with the fact that my fluctuating income is an undo strain on my partnership with Jon, who has a been a massive and unending support of everything I do.
WAW: When you close your eyes and envision a ‘Wild Woman’, what do you see?
Elena: When I close my eyes to envision that woman, I sense dirt, blood, drum beats and a psychic web like connection to all things that serves as the telegraphing communication lines created before time. For me, she is naked, in all ways, not just what conventional definitions of nakedness are today.
She is unapologetic. In fact, it never even occurs to her to check in with the world around her to see if what she is fits, or is OK, or acceptable.
She is stripped bare of convention, arbitrary cultural restrictions and false definitions that have nothing to do with the heartbeat and soul of a woman.
She just is. True. In whatever form happens to be True for her.
She is what I ache and work to get back to every day.
“I am looking for the face I had before the world was made.” -Yeats
WAW: Lastly, if you could have a conversation with your 20 yr old self, what would you tell her?
Elena: Break free. Your only regret will be not having done it sooner.