Lauren Toyota used to define herself by her career, but when she lost her job, she began to question who she was. Through resilience and a new sense of self awareness, what began as a disappointment evolved into an opportunity, transforming her and her life for the better. Lauren decided to take her passion for eating vegan, cooking, and sharing recipes and make a career out of it.
“Now I can define myself by what I do… I’m aligning my career with who I am.”
Lauren creates authentic and engaging creative content on Hot for Food, a brand that focuses on cooking up vegan love by creating and sharing plant-based comfort food recipes. Her YouTube channels, social media platforms, and book “Vegan Comfort Classics” allows her to share the life lessons she’s learned, teach others how to eat and cook vegan, and connect in a meaningful way.
“I am a teacher and I am a giver. I always want to create stuff for others.”
The Power of Surrendering
When we experience things that we don’t like, we often fight it. This is what Lauren experienced when she was let go from her job, and it wasn’t until she fully surrendered to what was happening did she find clarity. In tough situations, Lauren’s immediate reaction is often very emotional and dramatic, but she’s learning how to slow down and recognize that although she can’t control what’s happening, she can control how she reacts.
“That’s what you’re in control of: How you’re going to react.”
When Lauren finally surrendered by letting go of her anger and resentment, she immediately felt better, both mentally and physically. Although it seemed spontaneous, being quiet is what helped that moment occur. “I’m not an expert,” she shared, “But I have moments where it goes quiet and then something amazing happens.”
Awareness of Your Inner World
Lauren finds clarity by maintaining an awareness of what is going on within her and around her. She calls it “having a sense of the inner world” while also “having a sense for how everything is interrelated.”
“Mindfulness is having an awareness of the connection between physical, mental, and emotional.”
Lauren maintains awareness with meditation, therapy, and eating a plant-based diet. She listens to her body and pays attention to what it wants.
The Benefit of Contrast
We can’t have the good times without the bad. For Lauren, contrast is essential for finding clarity and staying mindful. “When you’re angry, you want to feel harmonious. But you wouldn’t know that you want to feel harmonious unless you felt angry.” She explained that we must validate our negative emotions, then use them to recognize what we do want. By recognizing what you want, believing in yourself, and taking small steps towards it, anything is possible.
Lauren’s Questions for KYŌ:
- How do I feel?
- How do I want to feel?
- How can I take small steps towards that feeling?