Kind promise: I will nourish my body, mind and soul attentively

The USDA, in its never-ending quest to inspire Americans to eat healthier diets, has created We weren’t catching on to the old food pyramid model, so the USDA folks are trying to simplify. Imagine how you might fill a plate (and cup) with fruit, grains, vegetables, protein and dairy. “Use these proportions,” they are telling us, “and you will be eating a healthy diet.”

A few weeks ago, I cured a mood of crabbiness by painting. That has prompted a month-long exploration of how I feed my soul.

I spent some time today imagining what a MyPlate for my soul might be like.



As you see, I filled my plate with art making and appreciating, loving relationships, nature and meditation.

It was pretty easy to find five things to represent my “soul food groups.” It’s less easy to decide on proportions. It is a portion size the amount of time spent or relative importance?

I’m aware that my portion sizes change with the seasons. It seems important for my soul to get regular experiences in nature. That’s harder to do in the winter so, this time of year, I find myself “charging my nature battery” so I can get through the harsh weather. In the winter, the portion sizes of inside activities increase.

I added the word “intimate” to the loving relationships portion because I need a few relationships where I am so real that I sometimes mess up. Smiling at and loving people from a distance is nice, but I can tell a story that the recipients of my smile don’t know the real me. “If they really knew who you were,” the monsters whisper, “they wouldn’t love you.” Those people who love me in spite of (or perhaps because of) my flaws are important to my soul.

Having completed my guesstimate plate, I looked at it and wondered what was missing. I feel much better about myself if I am working for justice. That’s a highfalutin phrase for what turns out to be very simple activity. Experience tells me I need to physically go someplace and do something to “make the world a better place.” Right now, I go once a week to volunteer in an ESL classroom.

I carved a piece away from my “loving relationships” portion to include volunteer work.

This was a useful exercise. When I am feeling tired and crabby, I can look at this drawing and consider what’s been missing in my soul food diet. If you want to play along, you can download a blank plate to complete and color.