Sunday, January 29, 2012

my january

listening:  to others' stories.
eating:  greens.  grapefruit.  and gelato.
drinking:  coffee, all kinds of tea.  and hot water with chloroxygen.
wearing:  jeans or leggings, oversized sweater or top, ugg boots, gypsy water. 
feeling:  hopeful.
planning:  picnics.  hikes.  a trip to the zoo.  spring stuff.
wanting:  to paint my living room walls indigo blue.
needing:  to save money.
thinking:  happy thoughts.
enjoying:  sunny and unusually warm afternoons.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

my intj week

this week i got certified to administer and train the myers-briggs type indicator.  it was a great training and i met some really great people.  but i'm a homebody and i don't like being away from home for more than a few days, so i'm happy to be back.  here are a few things i did completely in line with my type, which is intj (introverted, intuition, thinking, judging):

at the end of each (very full) day, i had to sneak out before people started making dinner plans with each other.  i needed space and time to recharge.  i needed to be alone, even in a crowd of strangers.  i loved the training and liked the people, but that didn't matter.  all energy i had for interaction was drained.  each night, i took myself to dinner and did a little shopping.  (introverted)

my favorite new place is sweetgreen.  i love the vibe in the space and the organic and local salads.  i am now on a mad hunt for at least one of those bright yellow metal french chairs.  and they do a little trick which is helpful for greens-avoidant types like me:  they put the good stuff (the grilled chicken, avocado, etc.) underneath the greens in the bowl.  that way you have to make your way through the greens to get to the goods.  i love this idea because i typically eat the top part of my salad and leave most of the greens. 

at papersource, i got a smash journal and accoutrement (thanks liz!), some paper and art stuff.  my "inferior" preference is sensing (practical, real, hands-on, concrete) so the art supplies will help me develop there...putting my ideas (intuition) into action making something (sensing).  we learned a lot about how our type should ideally develop over our lifetime and in true j fashion, i started making a plan to develop my sensing function.  in true n fashion, i imagine the art will be quite fabulous, because you should see it in my head.

working on my poor inferior sensing function has been added to my list of resolutions.  one of the things i learned this week that rang so true for me is that as an n (intuitive), things are, were and always will be better in my own imagination.  this is why i am frequently disappointed in vacations and other experiences.   while i adore and can't imagine going without my rich internal world, this consequence of the n type has always bothered me.  so i will be focusing a lot on the present and being in the actual experience.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

good good things

  • i spent my saturday afternoon in a house full of happiness.  beautiful people aged one month to seventy-or-so years gathered to celebrate the second birthday of the most precious little girl.  it's nourishing to be surrounded by healthy happy children and moms and dads who are loving, attentive and conscientious parents (provides a nice balance to my job).  there was a lot of playing and laughing and piƱata engineering.  oh and ice cream cake.
  • today i am off to the d.c. area for a weeklong training to be a certified myers-briggs tester/facilitator.  i'm very excited about this!  have you done the myers-briggs?  what's your type? i'm an intj.
  • thrilled that my hotel is next door to a whole foods and within easy distance of everything else i love:  yoga, anthro, papersource.  papersource!!!  it will be good to be in the city for a few days.
  • the coaching is going well!  my first week has been full of awareness and small-but-life-altering steps to wellness.  i love my coach.  she is intuitive and genuine and smart and funny.  her name is meg.  do you know her?  if not, get to know her.  you can thank me later.
  • the year of the dragon starts this week!  i am a dragon baby.  and a sagittarius.  and an intj.  go figure.
  • what is good with you?

Friday, January 20, 2012

oh hey there

it's my blog birthday today.  four years now of words and photos and connections.  thank you curious friends.  for visiting and looking and reading and saying hello and other grand things. 

you inspire me to live a beautiful life.

Monday, January 16, 2012

winterlove {№3}

i love the light that streams through our windows on sunny winter days.  there are loads of trees surrounding our home and the light is filtered with leaves the rest of the year.  but for now until about the middle of april, i'm enjoying the bright clear light.

i crank up the electric blanket, brew myself a cup of tea and settle under the sheets with a good book.  winter's pace gives me freedom to really slow down and rest.  i don't feel the same pressure to do as i often feel in warmer months.

the weekend doesn't feel long enough.  i'm still waiting for a nice safe snow day.  on monday, i had the dogs and my laptop in bed with me and watched all seven episodes of downton abbey, season one.  have you seen this?  i'm obsessed.  i haven't thrown myself this far into a television show since sex and the city.  i'm all caught up now and can't wait for sunday night to see what happens next.

stealing buddha

this is one of my favorite photos.  i shot it several years ago when i was learning about depth of field.  a large print of it is hanging on my wall.  i saw it this morning (well, an over-saturated photoshopped version of it) on pinterest and it was credited to a tumblr site.  i followed the link and saw that the tumblr site credited it to a blogger that was not me.  that site no longer exists.  i then noticed that the photo was reblogged to about 212 other sites from the tumblr site.   before i stopped myself, i saw that some of those sites gave no credit to the photo or even implied it was their own.

deep breath. 

and another. 

just the other day i thought, "get over yourself" when another blogger was complaining (again) on facebook about her photos being inaccurately credited.

so i am now saying it to myself:

get over yourself.

let it go.


the subject matter of the photo is perfect for this challenge.  whenever i begin to study buddhism, my eyes start to glaze over when we get to the part about non-attachment.  i like my things.  i like my people.  i like my ideas.  i am not a good sharer.  (just ask ken about the big bowl of popcorn that is mineminemine and get your mitts outta the bowl.)  quite the lesson for me, right?

i realized that tracking down every single blog that posted my (um, the) photo was fruitless and a little stupid.  i realized that the wild possessive streak that was heating up my body was quite ugly.  i realized that buddha (even a miniature manufactured buddha) does not belong to me.

i realized that the image gives peace and happiness and color and joy to so many people who i will never know, who will never visit my blog and who may need to see it at just the right moment.

do i really need to be credited with that?  it would be nice, but it's not necessary.

i'm over myself.  it feels weird.  in a good way.

and yes, i realize that this blog post is staking claim to the image.  baby steps.

p.s.  i still believe the kindest, most-likely-way-to-produce-good-karma thing to do it to ask permission and/or properly credit photos, especially when they are from someone who makes their living from their photography.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

tiny memoir: my good soul

in my twenties, i was a single mom struggling to make a decent life in a little house in a not-so-great neighborhood bordered by the city of bakersfield, california to the north and acres of farmland to the south.  i didn't have a lot of money and had no car for several years. 

on sunday afternoons, i put mia in her stroller with the wonky wheel and we walked on a little stretch of highway 58 to a funky makeshift cafe in a converted liquor store next to a 7-11.  it was run by a beautiful woman from bangladesh who had moved to california and joined the pentecostal church.  during the week, she served typical american food.  but on sundays, she made the most amazing hot and spicy chicken soup for two dollars a bowl.  i can still remember her standing at the stove with her thick black hair in one solid braid that reached past her hips, dressed in a long flowery prairie dress, singing hymns in bengali. 

i can't remember the bengali name for the soup.  she translated it for me once, writing out "my good soul" on a napkin.  i think she was trying to write "my good soup" but her english was shaky.  she placed her hand on her heart when i spoke the name out loud. 

indeed, this is where the soup worked its magic.  after each delicious spoonful, the warmth would slowly bloom around our hearts.  i had no health insurance at the time and i swear this soup, with its garlic and ginger and spinach and chili peppers, saved us.  in those days, neither one of us ever experienced illness that required medical care.

the last time i went home to bakersfied (seven years ago now), i drove out highway 58 toward pumpkin center to find the cafe torn down; replaced by a car lot.   i couldn't remember the name of the cafe.  actually, i don't think it had a name. 

for years i've tried to recreate the soup.  it has taken much trial and error.  for the longest time, i thought the little black seeds in the soup were poppy seeds.  i recently discovered they are nigella sativa seeds.  i've come pretty close to matching the taste and the healing effect.  the soup is a lovely mix of south asian magic and american practicality.  just like its original creator. 

my good soul makes you feel instantly better when you are unwell or off kilter in your body or spirit.  i try and use only organic ingredients.  you can probably use mushrooms and vegetable broth in lieu of the chicken to make it vegan.  this makes a nice big pot.

my good soul
three chicken breasts, poached and shredded
olive oil
nigella sativa seeds, about one tbsp.
mustard seeds, one tsp.
one onion, chopped
two celery stalks, chopped
two carrots, chopped
one head garlic, chopped (about twelve cloves)
two tbsp. chili pepper paste in the tube
two tbsp. ginger paste in the tube
chicken broth
two cans great northern beans, rinsed
baby spinach leaves
pumpkin seeds

use bone-in chicken breast with skin for the best taste.  poach the chicken by simmering it in just enough water to cover, salt, pepper, chili flakes, rosemary and a bay leaf for about thirty minutes.  set aside to cool before shredding the meat.  reserve the cooking liquid; it's about three cups.

cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and heat until a seed dropped in pops.  add the seeds and cook for about thirty seconds.  reduce heat to medium high and add onion, celery and carrots.  cook for about five minutes, until tender.  add the garlic and cook a few minutes.  add the chili and ginger pastes and stir well. 

add about one-half cup of your poaching liquid and deglaze the pan.  add the beans and your shredded chicken.  add the rest of your poaching liquid and extra broth (or water) if you need it to fill the pot to two inches below the brim.  bring to a boil.  reduce to low, cover and simmer for twenty minutes.

add the spinach and stir in to wilt.

garnish with pumpkin seeds.


feel better.


p.s.  it's difficult for me to get my recipes exact because i play when i cook.  i encourage you to do the same.  use all six of your senses when you make a meal.  i use a le creuset pot, which gets pretty hot, so you may need to leave some wiggle room for cooking times.   adjust the heat to your taste, this recipe is quite spicy.  the nigella sativa seeds are pretty important here.  if you live in a large city, you can probably find them at an indian food store or maybe whole foods.  i ordered mine online, so if you're local to me and want to make the soup, i've got close to a lifetime supply and i'm happy to share.

Friday, January 13, 2012

winterlove {№2}

one more workday loves, then i'm all about the coziness of home on this first really cold weekend of winter.  the only things on my schedule besides yoga are reading and cuddling.  and there's always the possibility of a fireside picnic.

stay warm and happy friday!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

allowing help

i have no problem privately asking for guidance from spiritual (i.e. imaginary) beings.  i pray to my childhood jesus.  a dashboard ganesh removes obstacles and danger from my commute.  i softly touch the foot of the giant brass ganesh who sits at the door of my favorite indian restuarant.  a sweet angel sits in my garden and protects my space.  a tiny buddha stands on my desk to help me remember to stay balanced and flowy.  these are my spiritual guardians, my little helpers, and they quietly remind me throughout my days and nights that i am being watched over and supported.

asking for support and help in the real world and from real people is not so easy for me.

since i so often fancy myself in the role of helper-protector-advisor and not one to be helped, protected or advised, it's difficult for me to admit when need help and guidance and support.  i struggle to not view that as a less-than position.  one of the biggest challenges for me in bikram yoga has been to stay in the role of student, listener, obeyer, truster. 

one of my goals for the year (ahem, for my life) is to learn to ask for and accept help without shame or embarrassment.  typically, i am a do-it-myself kinda girl and can be a bit of a smarty pants.  i remember a time in my childhood when my only sense of worth came from knowing the answer and doing it first, right and best.  and as i typed that sentence, it occured to me that this may still be partially true.

asking for and accepting help is akin to admitting i can't do it alone.

the reality is that there are certain areas of my life where i need help.  i get bogged down in resistance and defiance, i emotionally overeat, i make other unhealthy choices when i am tired, excited, bored, pissed off.  i tend toward isolation.  i blur the concept of acceptance with giving up and becoming unconscious. 

so i finally made the decision, took the leap and hired a wellness coach. 

it's going to be a big challenge for me to stay true to my goal; to remain open and curious and committed to change.  to trust the process and the relationship.  it took me a while to find someone i wanted to work with.  i'm happy with my choice, if not a wee bit nervous. 

what about you?  have you ever worked with a coach? 

i'll keep you posted on my progress.  for the time being, i'm making some space to allow help to come and to be at peace on the other side of the helping relationship.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

winterlove {№1}

so instead of going into hibernation mode (read:  an unconscious seasonal stupor) this winter, i'm going to try to stay present and really appreciate the gifts of this much-maligned time of year.

up until tuesday, this has pretty much been a breeze.  the weather has been unusually sunny and almost warm.  i went barefoot outside on new year's eve.  my neighbors are still peddling bikes around our little downtown.  i've worn a coat three times. 

i want to indulge in winter's traditional sensory pleasures:  fires, hot soups, wooly socks, writing love notes on windows with my finger, snowball fights.  i want to get outside and see it and touch it and smell it.

i want to take full advantage of the spiritual jobs of winter:  resting, reflecting, observing, planning, healing.  

i want to embrace the winterness of it all.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: the year of abundance and extraordinary things

there, i said it.

picnic {№11}

here is a rule i live by:  when it's the last day of december and seventy sunny degrees outside, you must have a picnic.

a new years eve picnic turns out to be an incredibly peaceful and sweet way to end the year.

so i paid homage to my parents' swinging nye parties (also in the seventies) by making classic cheese fondue.  it's super easy to pull together for an inpromtu little feast in the backyard.  a little cheese, a little wine, a dash of grated nutmeg is pretty much it.  for dipping:  sourdough bread, chicken sausage and apples. 

are these not the most beautiful olives you have ever seen?

and of course, some bubbles.  my favorite sparkling wines are sofia blanc de blancs in the wee pink can or a spanish cava.  my market was out of sofia so i went with the cava.  pink.  sipped through a straw.

ken joined me in choosing a word for 2012.  i made little cupcake toppers for the occassion.

him:  balance.  me:  abundance.

one of the issues with having a picnic in our backyard is managing our pack of beasts.  luca, the wire fox terrier, uses the table as his lookout on an everyday basis and kept trying to jump up during our meal.

we finally let him up at the end to take care of the tiny bit of leftover cheese in the pot.  (yes, i know this is why they are beasts.  because they are spoiled and get their way.)

simon is a chubby corgi with really short legs, so he can't jump on the table.  he was happy with a tiny bite of sausage.

roxy the cairn terrier pulled a greta garbo and remained aloof and out of camera range.

i wish you all a beautiful, colorful and abundant new year filled with love and beauty and grace and picnics.

if you would like to choose a word for 2012, susannah conway has a wonderful way to explore, click here.  i love hearing others' words, so please share. 

also, my absolute favorite new blogger, meg worden, has written an exquisite bit on nourishment.  please click here to read.  it's brilliant.  truly, i believe it has become my manifesto for a beautiful life.