Ironically, this month’s lighthearted diary comes from a woman who is an expert in the art of making people feel comfy, safe, supported, and held – much like the effects of comfort food. She has been putting me in to cozy yoga shapes every single week her restorative yoga class for the past year – a deeply healing, compassionate, and mindful practice.
A year ago, I met a woman by the name of Maria. And a year ago, I never knew the impact she’d have on my life. I remember my very first encounter with Maria. It was my first time at a local yoga studio on a dark December evening in Seattle. I was at a particularly difficult stage in life at the time, and I was hesitant and afraid to try new things. But seeing as the studio was just a few blocks away I thought, “Why not?”
So on a cold, wet, dreary night, I shyly entered through the front door of the studio and was graciously greeted with the warmth of Maria’s glowing presence…it could have been the warmth of the space heaters too, but I like to think it was the former. After exchanging names, Maria welcomed me as if we had already known each other for ages. It was like she was showing me around her home and getting ready to hang out together.
On our first encounter I remember thinking, I had never met anyone who made me feel so incredibly seen and genuinely appreciative of my existence.
Mind you, I just met this lady for the first time EVER. She’s the very reason I kept coming back to the yoga studio that now feels so much like home. Her compassion is fierce, her enthusiasm for life is aspirational, and her belief in the inherent goodness in all people is astounding. Since then, we’ve supported each other in our passionate pursuits and continue to learn and grow together.
I am beyond grateful that the universe introduced me to Maria as she’s become a teacher, a mentor, a friend, a role model, and an incredible influence my life.
As this is the first diary where I live in the same city as my subject, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Maria and seeing her in her natural element comfort food in hand. As we chatted, she casually moved about her kitchen very methodically, yet so instinctively. It was almost like a comfort food autopilot. I quickly learned that the process of whipping up her favorite food provided just as much relaxation and comfort as eating it. All the way from getting out a dedicated pot for this food to plopping on the corner of her big blue couch and enjoying it while reading a book – it is all very much a charming ritual.
With that, I give you the Comfort Food Diary of the magnificent Maria McDonald.
THE MAGICAL SOUL HERSELF
My name is Maria Lane McDonald. My mom called me, “Mia,” growing up but I am now referred to as “Mimi,” by my niece, friends and godchildren. I am a 36 year old female born and raised in North Pole, Alaska. I moved to Washington when I was 19 and have lived up and down the i5 corridor every since. I settled in Seattle in 2008 and currently call Seattle ‘home.’ I work as a Learning and Development coordinator at a rad company called Geocaching. Being a L&D coordinator is the perfect job for me as learning is my favorite hobby. Additional hobbies include hiking and camping during summer months, traveling domestically and internationally at every opportunity, practicing and teaching yoga and meditation, working on creative projects with friends and colleagues, and boxing. When I someday grow up and become an adult, I hope to cook, garden and have a horse. I am child-free by choice but love being an Aunt and godmother. I try to move my body and meditate every day and I love to be continuously learning new things and inspiring growth and transformation in others.
“To someone who has never met me I would say I am kind, curious, compassionate, adventurous, and fairly easy company. I work to keep myself holistically healthy, be a sanctuary for those I care about, and hopefully, make our world a better place every chance I can.”
“My comfort food is so simple it almost seems comical to have a whole blog post dedicated to it – but there is no denying that a big bowl of popcorn is what truly brings me joy and comfort.”
It has been my #1 favorite food since I was in elementary school and I doubt I’ve gone a single week in my whole life without popcorn at least once. I reject the many newfangled ways of popcorn preparation and instead chose to pop it the old fashion way – in a big pot that sits on my stove top (devoted to popcorn only). I cook the kernels in coconut oil then pour the popcorn into a paper bag that I rip in half in a very certain way. Once in the bag I sprinkle my popcorn with olive oil and salt. That’s it, no other toppings – I’m a popcorn purist. I currently eat bowls of popcorn 3-4 nights per week. As my days transition into evenings I start to crave it, its one of my most consistent habits and no matter how hard I try to change it- I’ve never been able to rid myself of it entirely. I love everything about it.
The ritual of making it, the smells, sounds, texture, flavor. Its perfectly crunchy and salty and no other taste can compare.
THE *NOSTALGIC SIGH*
My fascination with popcorn started in elementary school at my Aunt Pat and Uncle Fred’s house. When spending time with them, at the end of a long day or anything stressful, they would let me climb into their giant bed, prop myself up with all their cozy pillows, put an old movie on (they loved classics and musicals) and put a giant bowl of popcorn in front of me. Its one of my favorite childhood memories as I always felt so loved and safe when I was with them eating popcorn in their bed. The popcorn always brings me back to that safe and cozy feeling from my childhood, reminding me, throughout the various chapters in my life, that I am always going to be ok. It is definitely nostalgic emotionally comforting food for me.
-Written by Maria McDonald, Feature photo by Arthur Allen