Friday, January 17, 2014

around here

Hi friends. It's been a week. Here I am. Here's the scoop:

:: A lingering, on and off headache for over two weeks now. I rarely get a headache, so it's weird. A couple days, there was some pretty excrutiating pain; enough to put me to bed. My body has been doing weird stuff all month. Gripping, agonizing, horrendous pain in my abdomen early on Saturday morning. Enough to be passing out and throwing up at the same time. From previous experience, I think it may have been a ruptured ovarian cyst. All this bodily chaos makes me think that my hormones are all out of whack. Makes me think that I'm beginning the journey of menopause. I'm trying to learn all I can; reading and taking some natural, holistic steps to make these years of transition easier. I've come to accept and embrace the idea of my own aging. I'll always be me at any stage of my life.

:: I gave three massages this week. A foot massage while visiting an elderly neighbor down the street. She became almost blinded in November and is now facing her own transition to life without sight. I was grateful for the chance to spend an afternoon with her.

:: Poor Eliza's beloved rabbit, Eddie, died in her arms on Wednesday night right after we got home from the vet. One day he was fine, and the next he was gone. She absolutely adored and loved him with all her heart. She sobbed and sobbed. My heart broke for her. 

:: It's been a bread making, soup making type of week. It does seem to be thawing a little, though. Grateful for some days of sunshine.

:: I've now had to throw out two more rugs this week. (these last two beautiful wool braided rugs I've had for years. Just getting to a point where they couldn't be saved. I'm so sad.) Lucy-dog, in her old age, peeing big puddles almost every morning either on the doorway carpet of our bedroom, or making her way to the bottom of the stairs front door or back door rug. I'm about ready to pull out my hair. (Enough to even let out a few expletives that were blaring in my brain.)

:: Sam got his wisdom teeth out yesterday. (all four) After last February's ordeal with Jane getting her's out, this was a piece of cake. I can't believe how well it went with him. No swelling, no pain. At all. It's like a miracle. He begged to play in his game tonight.

:: I'm so happy to be participating in Heather of Beauty That Moves month long Hibernate on-line retreat/workshop. What a bright spot this has been and will be for me in what  so often is the most difficult time of year. Inspired today to make my bedroom more of a sanctuary. This afternoon, I took a few minutes to sew up a lavender stuffed pillow (small and very thin) to slip into my pillowcase. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Preparing Food With Love: Cooking As Ministry

Food is so much more than providing sustenance to a body. 
So much more than filling a belly.

It's about nourishing a soul.

I was reminded of this yesterday. An idea that I've always believed in with my whole heart, but often forget.

I spend a lot of my time and energies in the kitchen. It's something I don't have to do (and I tell my family that, sometimes), but feel impelled to. It's a big part of my life's calling. A talent and a gift I'm grateful to have been blessed with: The keeper of the home. The nourisher. The nurturer.

I want to give the best. And that means the healthiest, the most beautiful, the most sustaining, the most comforting food I can offer.

This job is not easy. It means work. A sacrifice in many ways. Some days I wonder if the effort I give is worth it, if it matters.

Monday is always my big kitchen work day. I made granola. I made tortillas. I made energy bars. That night I was back to make a big pot of curry for dinner. It was was well liked, but I ended up with a ton of leftovers. Wondering how and if they'd get eaten.

Sweet Ivana came over and I told her about what I had made and would she like to take a jar home? As I was in the process of doing so, she started to cry. A big cry. She could hardly express how much she loves the food I make and share with her. How she loves to come to our home for dinner. That what I've done and what I do means so much to her.

I was touched to the core.

Maybe what I do does matter.

And then there was yesterday.

I had been given the opportunity to bring a meal over to my friend who is battling cancer. A chance to feed her sweet family. I've been feeling so inadequate in not knowing how I could help her. Wishing I could just take this all away, but knowing I can't.

I do know that feeding them is something I can do. Something I'm good at.

So yesterday I spent another day in the kitchen. Such a strong feeling all day long that what I was engaged in was holy work. I was ministering with food. It made me so happy. I almost felt a reverence with each vegetable I chopped, each kneading of the dough, each stir of the pot. Every movement, every action, every step filled with thoughts of them, along with a deep intention, sent to each of their spirits of love and peace and joy.

Later on in the day, Isaac's friend came over after school. I fed them each a snack of apples and peanut butter on their own little plates and later when his mother came inside to pick him up, she wondered about all the amazing smells coming from the kitchen. They left happily with a bread stick to share and said, "Your house is always so homey."

All of this reminding me again (just when I needed the reminder, too) with the sense that my work in the kitchen is the heart of my home. Almost the heart of my life. And it does matter. Truly.

Friends, if you ever forget this, if you, like I do sometimes, get caught up in the mundane and the drudgery, please remember that preparing and sharing food has so much power for good in this world. Not only as a way to bless your own, but others beyond the family circle who need a bit of comfort and nurturing.

And we all need that, don't we?

And do you know what? The one that will really be nourished the most is you. The deep- down- in- your- heart knowing that the sharing and serving of love this way; those gifts of food you provide and offer with your heart and your hands- all of it will bring such a sense of fulfillment and happiness to your soul.

I hope you can feel this like I did yesterday.

~archived from February 8, 2012

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

easing into the new year

Well, it's a new year. 2013 flew by, if you ask me. I'm eager for what this year will bring. Even though January is often the dreariest month of the year for me, this is probably the first time I've ever been so excited to have this month as a new beginning. I love new, fresh beginnings, don't you? These seasonal transitions or benchmarks like the end of the school year-- easing into summer. Fall always feels this way. And obviously, the month of January. I often will list possible goals, possibilities, projects, and experiences I want to create for the new season-- or year-- ahead. I like to think this way, instead of using the term "resolutions". Simple strivings instead of overwhelming pressures which starts out all gung-ho and then slowly drizzles into disappointment, let down, and feelings of failure.

I've been on a freshen up, clean up, "let's get organized" kick this week. Since I was in a very time pressured student mode last year, getting my business rolling in October, working on formatting and "publishing" my photo and poem book (I called it "Around the Year"; a gift of my heart to my loved ones at Christmas. I can't tell you the happiness I felt in seeing all my work compiled in a real life, beautiful book.) then ending the year with the hubbub of the holidays, now I feel like I can have the space, the breathing room, the time, and the motivation (I can't believe how truly motivated I feel right now) for many things that have been put on the back burner. Things-- more like chores--which have felt like big, heavy weights hanging over me.

So I've been wiping and scraping down gunk from drawers and closets and the Lazy Susan. Decluttering. Purging. Hauling off bags to the garbage bin and bags to donate to the second hand store. Purchasing a new simple planner for the year. Printing off new calendars to put on the fridge. Rethinking and putting things in new, more efficient places. Getting ideas off of Pinterest. (of course.) Cutting inspirational pictures out of some old magazines my mother passed on to me and creating a magnetic vision board for my sewing and creating room. (These were first cut out and contained in a "manifestation box" labeled whatever is contained in this box IS! Now, I want these pictures to become more of a visible, daily reminder.) Planning menus. Staying up late or waking up at five to read my books. Staying up late getting caught up on Downton Abbey. (Of course.) 

Oh, and I have to tell you about my favorite breakfast of late. Wow, I could eat this every day. (You could too if you are a oatmeal and chocolate fan like me.) 

Almond butter chocolate overnight oats from (check it out. good stuff, here.)

Here's the idea: A handful of oats. A spoonful of almond or peanut butter. A spoonful of cocoa powder or cacao powder if you're getting all fancy. A sprinkle of chia and ground flax seed. Chopped up dates and bananas. A little sweetening like maple syrup or a few drops of liquid stevia. Almond milk drizzled over top.

Really, so good. I have yet to make the overnight version. Immediate make and eat is the way I've done since Saturday morning. (It's becoming an every day affair.)  I can easily last on a bowl of this yummy goodness until lunchtime.

And  a very Happy New Year to you, too.