Friends! I am very much alive! My site has been under the weather with some updates, and it's safe to say I've been under the weather a bit, too. No colds or coughs, but some sadness and a lot of winter hibernation. In my conversations with friends the last few months, I've discovered I'm not alone. There's something in us that wants the quiet, something that wants, like Jan Richardson's prayer, "to enter the cave/in the seasons of slumber,/to lie down defenseless/in [the] gathering dark."
When it's hard to get up in the morning and the longest night of the year seems to be cursedly every night, I've got a choice to either numb out (Hello, Netflix!) or to pay even more attention. I haven't numbed out once. Ha! Not true. I'm no Dalai Llama over here. I've enjoyed my fair share of "Broad City" and "Master of None." And my friends are now officially annoyed that I'm a bonafide New York Times subscriber. Stop with the links already. I have a plan for everyone else's life. NYT Modern Love column? Preach it.
So when I'm not watching Netlifx, I'm trying. I'm trying to pay attention. To what my body wants to eat, to how much it wants to sleep. To the poetry on my nightstand that, unfailingly, keeps the best company. To crying without knowing why, to saying a gentle (or emphatic) "No!" to invitations that aren't part of my calling right now. I took a three week social media break over Christmas, and I'm not the first to notice that it takes those kinds of extremes to hear our own voices again. George Mumford, meditation coach to athletes, says this about stillness:
"It’s about bearing witness to what’s happening. Just being there and settling back into a state of receptivity, allowing whatever you’re observing to speak for itself and not interfering. We’re always focusing on what’s happened or might happen and very seldom on what’s happening right here in this place and time. But that’s a muscle and you can train it."
When I opened my produce box yesterday and saw the total riot of color in there ... yes. I bore witness alright.
And after the onslaught of sugar during the holidays, it's Salad Time. My biggest tip lately is to make a jar of dressing on Sunday. Don't buy it!! This will take you 3 minutes, you'll know exactly what's in it, and it will taste immeasurably better. Toast some nuts, wash some greens, roast some veggies, try to have some avocados around, and you're set.
Thanks to my sister Naomi for her cheerful work on my site. She's a rock star, I hope she knows it, and I'm so lucky to have had her in my corner all my life.
And since this is my inaugural post, here comes a poem. That's what happens to me when I get quiet--so much bubbles up. Happy New Year, friends. Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, may you be met on the Spirit Highway.
Prayer in Spite of Everything
I won't pretend it's easy, but I'm trying
to give myself over it,
the whole imperfect mess
of being a fixer who can't fix things.
The pantry, once labeled and orderly,
now bulges with three opened boxes
of baking soda, a labyrinth of grocery bags
and stale crackers.
The inbox, bastion of procrastination,
standing in for everyone I'm letting down
and every time I will say the wrong thing.
The dog, with his unwashed ears
and unwalked restlessness
and loving me anyway.
The torrent of mistakes, judgements,
thoughts, fears, plans, goals,
ideals, regrets, embarrassments
that love to pretend they are me.
The still center I've fallen into once or twice,
the one that shines because of darkness,
the one we only find when we're lost –
thank you for that, too.
Since I never measure anything, here's an actual recipe adapted from my new America's Test Kitchen cookbook, 100 Recipes. Double or triple or quadruple or quintuple this.
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons minced shallot, onion, or garlic
1/2 teaspoon mayo
1/2 teaspoon dijon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Combine vinegar, shallot, mayo, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in small bowl. Whisk until mixture is milky in appearance and no lumps of mayo remain.
2. Place oil in a small measuring cup so it is easy to pour. Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle oil into vinegar mixture. If pools of oil gather on the surface as you whisk, stop addition of oil and whisk mixture well to combine, then resume. Vinaigrette should be glossy and lightly thickened with no pools of oil on its surface. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, whisking before using.
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