Something Sparkly

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

A lot happened today. I woke up, went for a 4 mile run outside, came back, made a smoothie with frozen kale, strawberries, bananas, cinnamon, soymilk, and a scoop of protein powder.

After breakfast, I checked my email, and found a surprise. There’s this website called FutureMe.org where you can write yourself a message and have it delivered to your inbox at a date of your choosing. I think the first one is free, and then the others you have to pay for. But, for a one-time-thing every now and again, it’s a cool little trick.

So there is was – a message from old-me to me-now. Written a year and a day ago, old-me was in the midst of transition – about to move from Toronto, Canada back to the States, and I didn’t know what was next. In it, I outlined what I had accomplished in the 2 years that I was there – 1 year at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition, 1 year in Toronto, a job at a cafe that I really loved, a church community, different places that I lived, and a short-lived but beautiful relationship. In coming back to the States, I had to leave all of that, and it was hard.

My letter talked about fears that came up around moving and letting go, as well as insecurity of a future unknown. “My only idea right now is to take a road trip down south, to North Carolina to visit [my 2 friends] P & C.” I also talked about self-discernment and trying to figure out what I want. I even asked “What about the joys? What about the dreams? “ .. and… amazingly enough, through this act of writing, another voice emerged. ..

“Suzanne, I have hopes for you for the future.
You do?
Yes, but do you?
I need some help, to be honest. What hopes do you have for me?
travel, exploration, independence, You can do it!”

And with that, a list of ideas…

“Write.
Paint.
Sing.
Dance.
Collage
Shop
Get dressed up
Take a bath
Listen to a book on tape
Plan a party
Plan a trip somewhere
Go on Airbnb and book a night or two away, just for fun
Take a girlfriend with you
Look at something that I really love
Give myself permission to have it, buy it, hold it.
Something sparkly.”

Sparkly, eh?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” — Eleanor Roosevelt.

I had heard this quote before in passing, but today the aesthetic aspect really caught my attention.  The beauty of [our] dreams. Beautiful dreams. Attractive dreams. Sparkly dreams. Dreams that we love to look at.

I think I took this quote a little too literally, because as I looked at my desk and the hutch that functions as a kind of altar with my favorite reminders of beauty, I noticed some dust. Thinking of Eleanor, I said to myself “I must make these dreams pretty again!” and off for the damp cloth I went! With a wipe and a swoosh, I was my one little fairy godmother. Bippidy Boppoity & Voila! A smooth & silky surface for my dreams. And once I clean one thing, well… it’s a Give a Mouse a Cookie  kind of deal. In with the broom at the dust pan! Into the corners, closets and  crevices – out with the skeletons!

And a few minutes later, I felt so much better.

I want my dreams to have a future. I want my dreams to become the future. That requires care and tending to. A little bit of swiffering every now and again.

And more than aesthetics, our dreams are our deepest truths. Just as we long for their manifestation, our dreams, too, want to be birthed and created through us. I believe that. I believe that we are given these gentle nudges and curiosities, even, and especially, in the midst of the unknown future. “My only idea right now is to take a road trip down south, to North Carolina…” Well… that little idea lead to a little cottage retreat, which turned into a 6-month love story.

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I mean, look at this place. With the first ray of light, I was in love.

My old-me knew, a deep level, what I needed. It asked for it. It wrote it down. My year-ago self had hope for a future, even though I was scared of the unknown.

Asking, “What do you see for me? What is my future?” the voice that showed up in my writing, it wrote,“You will know more when you receive this…”

Looking back now, I see a little glimmer of hope, even then. I see the seeds being planted and watered…

I see a sparkle of the future.

 

…Wonder what the FutureMe will see next year…

 

Humor & Hope

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“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.”  — Bruce Barton

I promised an update, so here goes:

I went to the comedy show! And YES! There WAS a line that I waited in! Here’s a picture to prove it!

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Right outside the Housing Works bookstore on Crosby Street on the Lower East Side, I stood proudly with my e-ticket that I purchased right after posting last night. (yay accountability). And the irony, or should I saw coincidence of the waiting/waiting, and all that jazz made me smile on the inside.

Speaking of the inside, check out this bookstore & cafe…

But anyway, I had heard about this comedy night from this website called the skint. It lists free and cheap events in NYC daily. I highly recommend you bookmark this baby and peruse to till something tickles your pant-sies.

Last night”s Loose Comedy show (that happens the 1st Thursday of the month, by the way – next one’s February 4th at 7pm) – featured a wide array of comedians – including Vanessa Bayer from SNL! My favorites included Josh Rabinowitz (friends of the people) – who talked about the “Gentrification of Awkwardness,” – basically how totally cool people are overusing and abusing the phrase  “AwKwaRd!” when there are some actual, real, legit awkward people out there who are now displaced from their own personality. Hilarious. and Michelle Buteau (best week ever) , who had some stellar dance moves to accompany her onesie jumpsuit and ex-boyfriend bashing. Who doesn’t love that?! Plus, the $10 ticket price included a free drink – Yeah, Sixpoint Sweet Action! All in all, a great night out!

Just as likely, it could have sucked. Which brings us to our quote for today…

“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.”  — Bruce Barton

We try. We sometimes succeed. We sometimes don’t. It’s all part of the dynamic process of life… “the rhythm of living.” (Is anyone else hearing this song in their head right now? Thanks, Corona, for this 90’s flashback).

What I love about this quote is the permission to not know. The trial and error. The process by which we respond to the stimuli in our world, that we have an affect, and that it affects us. There’s a kind of inherent mutuality of affect-ability in the ebb and flow. We are allowed to make mistakes. We are allowed to keep moving.

The world itself will keep us in check. Over-confident? Take one step, back buddy. You’ll feel humility, and you might feel afraid of getting rejected. (you might get rejected, but don’t be afraid. Maybe it wasn’t for you. Or maybe you moved too fast and scared it away. You are allowed to be who are, and so is everyone else. Each action has a a reaction).

But in the steps that are ours to take, there are these little checkpoints to help us clarify our vision, what we really want, and to remember the mutual participation of us with the universe. We may not get what we want right away. We learn how to go about following our dreams by the responses that we get from the universe and the people in it. If we are too sure of something, it might put someone else off. We may need to take a step back, re-evaluate. I love the bit about about clarity and “fresh hope.” Maybe our first vision was a mirage, and we needed to get more specific. Or maybe we were too specific and needed to widen the potential for our dreams to manifest in unexpected ways. But with these new eyes and this fresh hope, we can take another step into the dance of life.

More like a cha-cha.

And speaking of dancing… That video that I posted, “Rhythm of the Night,” TOTALLY led me on a YouTube tangent to all of my favorite songs from adolescent years… I just let them play… everything from Eminem to Missy Elliot to Justin Timberlake, and I seriously shook some booty!

So there it is.. Progress.

 

“…The Life That’s Waiting for Us..”

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“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

So, it’s the new year… 2016. As my friend says, “2016 sounds SO MUCH BETTER than 2015.” Now, 2015, was a pretty stellar year for me – I moved back from Canada, I lived in an AMAZING, cute, little cottage in an amazing cute, little, hippy town by the name of Asheville, North Carolina, and I made the decision (and move) back to New York City to go to Seminary. Whew! That’s a solid 3 moves… but now that I’m here enrolled in graduate school, I’m staying put for at least a good 3 + years, and that’s a relief!

I decided to come back to my writing. I’ve been missing this form of creative expression. And even if no one reads it (or, oh my goodness – scary if someone does!) if nothing else, it is a place-marker in time along this journey. Some of us use bookmarkers to save a page or a juicy quote, .. some of use keep scrapbooks or Instagram stories… I wish I was that savvy. The only insta-gram I know is the one that comes out of the box in the cookie aisle.

I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and was re-inspired by the bursts of creativity she brings forth – not only in her writing but in the encouragement of others as well.

So to get started, I thought I’d start with a quote. For Christmas, my dad gave me a book called Daily Joy : 365 Days of Inspiration – Photos and Wisdom to Lift Your Spirit. And it’s just that. Now, normally I would kind of quease at one of these Hallmark-esque gifts, and perhaps at first I did, but ever so subtly to myself… but after the hype of the holidays was over and I was packing up my things to return home, I had a second look. It’s a thick little number! Each page has it’s own image and quote by someone wise or religious or neither. I thought it was a nice way to greet each day.

For Advent, a friend of mine had given me a gift – 25 little quotes, rolled up like scrolls and tied with a shiny red, green or gold bow. She numbered each one and put them in a jar. Each day, we would meet in the morning to meditate. Just 30 minutes of silence together around a candle made our friendship grow deep in trust and kindness very quickly. And when the bells would gong signaling that our time was up and we’d take our little stretches and deeper breaths, we’d unravel the scroll. In it was a quote, a little gem that she had plucked and typed. Almost always it resonated with something we were thinking about.

And it was kind of magical, that way.

A new ritual emerged, and it become something I looked forward to every morning. Sometimes, I’d share the quote later on in the hallway or in the elevator. Sometimes, I’d add it to a Christmas tree, like a decoration, wondering if anyone would notice it. Sometimes, I’d even hid the quote for someone else to find. And the ones I kept I hung in my room to remember. The quote echoed throughout the day and became a kind of mantra. When the 25th came, and the last scroll was uncurled, I felt a sense of loss of not having this ritual anymore. The jar was empty.

So in a way this book came at the right time… and what I hope to do is to continue the tradition with a chance to reflect on paper some of the thoughts and connections it rings for me.

Today’s quote:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

In essence: Get rid of what you thought you were going to do & Embrace that what which is already here. The first part reminds me of a post I had written a few years ago titled “Letting Go of Food Rules.” Now, I’m not about to re-hash that now, but I am interested in the idea of changing expectations, or at least, forgetting them for a little while. It’s easy to get caught up in a certain outcome and miss the bus entirely. I do think it’s important that we have dreams, that we know what we want and are able to identify and take hold of it when it comes into our lives. I do collages and images boards for this reason – to help my body and mind recognize and receive that which my heart truly desires, but sometimes suppresses. But I can get caught up in the details of a certain wish -or think that it needs to be how I envisioned it earlier. But magical and mystery doesn’t that way. It surprises me. Signs, symbols, people’s names and word play, especially (!) is the universes’ way of playing with me and showing multiple meanings. And when I recognize it, it’s like an outburst of joyful delight – because I was SO WRONG about that thing… it actually means THAT! …. Do you know what I’m saying??

We don’t always get the planning part right. Or, rather, we plan, and then life happens, God laughs, as they say, and it could turn out to be something totally different. But that’s okay! And actually, it may lead us to something better.

So, what of the second part? … the “life that’s waiting for us.” I think it’s about trust. Trust. That is there IS something out there – Life! Life is happening, and it wants to happen WITH us. It wants our participation. It wants us to come out and play. To stop being the grumpy parent and put my shoes on (or not!) and go outside in the yard! It’s a beautiful day.. Or it could be a crumby day, weather-wise, but you know what I mean. Lemons to lemonade, kinda thing.. (I do apologize for the cliches… I’ll get better, I promise)

Tonight, I was hoping to hang out with one of my friends who really makes me laugh. But my friend had plans tonight. So, what is the life that is still waiting for me? I have options. I can stay home – do some solid me-time. I can call another friend. I can explore the city.. Or, I can still go out and laugh. I found a comedy show that looks fun.. And so, in the spirit of un-planning, or re-planning, or de-planning… I’m going to jump into this “waiting life” (or maybe just a waiting line), but I’m going do it!

I’ll let you know what happens..

 

 

Positive Energy Balls

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Well, it’s been a long hiatus from writing. This past year I’ve been busy exploring my love of food by studying at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Canada. After an intense year of learning, I finally have time to actually cook again. I’ll share more of what I’ve learned with you as we go along, but for now I wanted to start off with a quick recipe post. These balls raw, vegan & gluten-free and loaded with lots of good energy.

Now, I know that there are a lot of recipes for these kinds of balls, using peanut butter or almond butter. And yes, those are super delicious spreads. Lately, though, I’ve been on a tahini fix, so I was curious to see how it would fare out. Well, my friend, it worked.

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Ingredients  (makes about 30 balls)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 4 figs or 5 dates (optional)
  • 3/4 cups tahini
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
  • 3/4 cup carob chips or chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Feel free to modify the ingredients to your liking, or whatever you have around.

  1. Blend the oats, nuts, and figs in a food processor for about 30 seconds, until crumbly (but not powder-y). Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the tahini, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Stir to coat. Add in the remaining ingredients. Then, get your hands into it and start mixing.
  3. Roll in balls. Share the positive energy!

 

Sweet Spiral Sweet Potato

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Spiraled Sweet Potato with Almonds and Collard Greens

Spiraled Sweet Potato with Almonds and Collard Greens

So I just bought the Paderno World Cuisine Spiral Vegetable Slicer (finally!), previously known as the Spirooli, and I am just having n-Oodles of fun with it (sorry, couldn’t help the pun).  For those of you that don’t know what the Spirooli is, it looks like this:

Paderno World Cuisine Spirooli Spiral Vegetable Slicer

Paderno World Cuisine Spirooli Spiral Vegetable Slicer

and it does amazing things to vegetables, like making ringlets out of onions or spaghetti out of zucchini (more on that to come!) . It works by cutting the ends off a long vegetable and pressing it into the metal adhesion there over on the left. Then, you slide the claw-like contraption onto the other end of the vegetable and turn the handle. Depending on the blade, and there’s 3 to choose from, it will cut the vegetable into fine spiral pieces to which you can then eat raw or gently cook.

Okay, onward with this delicious and super-easy 4-ingredient recipe!

Ingredients

  • Sweet potato
  • Butter, preferably organic, or Coconut oil (the vegan option)
  • Almonds
  • Collard Greens, sliced thin (stems, too!)
  1. Spiral the sweet potato in the spirooli using the spaghetti blade (the smallest).
  2. In a pan melt butter or coconut oil. Add the sweet potato, stirring to coat. It cooks quickly, about 3 minutes to al dente. Add the almonds and toss in the pan for another minute. Put in a dish.
  3. In the same pan, gentle saute the collards until slightly crispy, or you could also add a little water, cover and steam for about 2 minutes. Combine all ingredients together and enjoy!

Gosh, I just made this and it was so so yummy. The combination of the butter and the sweet potato just did me in! I didn’t even need to add salt or cinnamon – it was just perfect. I truly enjoyed this meal, and I hope you do, too!

Letting Go of Food Rules

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When one has not been eating vegan and gluten-free, it’s hard to write about eating vegan and gluten-free. When one has not been cooking, it’s hard to post pictures and recipes of meals. When when has been feeling confused about her identity around food, it’s hard to project assurance. And so I have not been writing.

The thing about ideologies and identities is that my mind can easily take over and turn eating habits into a fanatical religion, another set of “rules” to follow, another set of conditions that would either define me as “good” or “bad,” “healthy” or “unhealthy,” “doomed” or “free,” or even, “loved” and “unloved.”

Food became “rules” that I began to blindly follow. Ideology gave me a sense of comfort, but more likely a sense of control. If I could stick to “THIS,” no matter what, I would be a stable and healthy person. Forever. I stopped talking to my body. I stopped talking to my heart. And I stopped listening. I thought that I needed to keep to my “Food rules” as a matter of principle, as a proof that I could handle life and all the stresses it could throw at me. I haven’t been writing because I have been scared to say that I could not.

What happens when we cling to ideology instead of listening to our bodies? How do we know? And, how do we come to let it go?

In winter of 2011 had been working my way through the chapters of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The exercises had brought me in touch with myself. The spring of 2012 had brought about series of many transformative life changes: I quit my jobs, ended a relationship, got rid of most of my possessions and apartment in New York, and moved to work at a retreat center for 7 months – a dream of mine.

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Among so many wonderful and beautiful experiences I had – meeting people and spiritual leaders from all over the world; learning a new love for dancing, drumming, chanting and painting; days sitting out in the sun; walks in the country, surrounded by horses and open sky; time and space for spiritual reflection; and a working in a community of like-minded friends – this retreat center quickly felt like home. I was returning to myself. I was just where I needed to be.

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Interestingly enough, living and working in community also brought forth the shadow parts of myself – showing me the things that I needed to work on. I learned a lot about myself through that experience – mainly, how important the act of preparing my own food is to me. Having my own space, gathering the ingredients and choosing what to make had been a ritual that connected me to my body – soul and spirit. Cooking my own food enabled me to intuit my own needs for nourishment, and I could respond with love and deliciousness accordingly. At the retreat center, all of our meals were provided, so I wasn’t cooking my own food. I didn’t realize how significant not being able to prepare my own food would be on my life. This disconnect inhibited my connection with myself and I began to feel off-balance.

Even though I was surrounded by an abundance of healthy food, I felt myself becoming more ungrounded.The dining hall was filled with people and so many food choices. I became confused by the stimuli around me – the buffet table, people eating different food than what I was eating, going up for seconds, for dessert. My senses were on overload. What did I want? What did I need? I couldn’t tell anymore.

I tried to stick to my ideology, my default of eating vegan and gluten-free, but it was becoming more difficult for me to do so. Still, I grasped tighter. Having “Food Rules” gave me a sense of identity.

But then I had a craving for an egg.

I shunned myself. “Who are you?! What are you thinking?!” I said to myself. I felt guilty for craving it, and so I suppressed it.

Two weeks later the craving came back again.

Confusion again at the conflict between my ideology and my body. Which was “right?” Was I just being influenced by people around me? And why couldn’t I stay strong in myself? “Damn those other people and their treacherous eating habits! They are throwing me off-balance! If only I were by myself in my home surrounded only by the foods that I want to eat, then I’d be in control of my life again. Then I’d feel good.”

My rules around food had not only disconnected myself from my body’s needs, it also separated me from other people. The exact opposite of “to gather together.”

After weeks of not listening to my body’s gentle signals, and triggered by emotional events, I went on a binge, completely abandoning my vegan and gluten-free lifestyle. Because I did not heed to my body’s signs earlier on, the pendulum swung with a vengeance in the opposite direction, and I wrecked havoc on my body with my eating. I can’t tell if it was the sugar or the stress, but my body and life felt completely out of control.

I’ve been spending the past 7 months trying to understand what happened. I think the hardest part for me is letting go of my limiting belief that eating a certain way would make me a better person – as if I’m “not good enough” already. That is simply not true. What I need is to let go. Let go of the guilt. Let go of the “food rules.” Let go of the ideas of what I “should” be eating, notions of what is “good” and “bad.” Let it all go.

The only thing I can think to do right now is love. Love myself. Accept myself. Trust my body. Trust that it did exactly what it needed to do in the moment. Love it for trying to get my attention.

And so I write today. In this moment.  As is.

No rules. No food commitment. No food identity.

I’m writing if only to prove to myself that I am okay – that without these things I am still loveable, I am still loved. That it was never about just the food – that I didn’t have to “do” anything to be “good.” I had forgotten the most important thing: my essential, eternal, ever-loving Spirit. It always was and always is. I am not my mind. I am not my rules. I am not conditional. I am who I am because I am loved. For now, all I need to do is remember that.

Feeling Full

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(This was first written on 4/22/2012.. thought I’d publish it now)

I like to think of myself as a healthy eater. Even with a limited diet, it’s easy to go overboard on fatty foods, like nuts, or ever the uber processed vegan and gluten-free food items in the store. I get that. I think for the most part I have a strong inner discipline that keeps me in check, for most the time at least. So I was surprised to notice that I have been feeling really full after meals.

I haven’t been cooking, and I won’t be for a while because of where I am for the time being. All my meals are provided. They are mostly vegetarian, with many vegan and GF options. The meals are buffet style, so I can go up to the stations as much as I want, which is a lesson in self-control that I am re-learning. After eating a plate (or two) full of steamed kale, salad, sauteed vegetables, I found myself feeling really full, like REALLY full. My stomach puffed out like a woman in her second trimester. What was going on? Why was I feeling so full? Was I being unhealthy? Is there such a thing as eating too much healthy food? And was I really hungry, or just anxious in my new environment? Or gluttonous? I would think about food, eating, and this feeling of fullness after every meal, when I felt that same puffy pain and wonder what I did wrong. I tried my best not to blame, guilt or beat myself up over feeling this way.

I took a class on Centering and Grounding recently, and the teacher instructed us to feel grounded by feeling our weight into the earth – to imagine ourselves hooked in. She also guided the class to pull our energy inwards to help center ourselves. By doing that, we can  let go of old patterns that aren’t working for us anymore, and to be our best selves. I found that grounding and centering practice to be calming, and when I would feel myself feel anxious, rushed, or insecure, I would stop, take a breath, close my eyes, and pull my energy closer to my body. As I breathed out, I would release tensions and nervousness down my legs and into the earth. I didn’t have to carry that with me. I would repeat this conscious practice often, and intentionally before meals.

 

Blueberry Avocado Shake

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I’m in the middle of packing, but I had to take a moment to record the ingredients for this smooth and creamy shake. As I was cleaning out my freezer, I found some frozen blueberries from the last summer’s CSA.  And there was no way I was going to waste the last few drops of orange extract that I had. Really, this should be called Moving Smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 1 Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Orange Extract
  • Maple Syrup
  • Soy milk, or Almond or Rice milk

Blend in a blender (if you haven’t packed it yet). You’ll find yourself with a beautiful lavender purple. Sip and savor. We’ll find out later how it makes you move 😉