Tuesday, June 8, 2010

So much love

Ian has discovered a wealth of new found love for me in the last few days. As flattered as I am by the complexity of my little Oedipus, it has manifested in a few choice quotes. He has often addressed me as "sweet beautiful mommy" when he wants something, specifically when my first answer to his request was negative. Combine this with his tendency to abbreviate everything and I often get called "Sweet beauty" or, my favorite, "sweets".

Sunday I hear from the bathroom...

"Come check my bum sweets!" (When he says, "Get me a drink sweets?" I sort of feel like a diner waitress. But when used to beckon me to inspect for poo remnants, I am not really sure what I feel about that.)

Today on the ride home he was addressing me as "Sweet beauty" and I asked him why.

His response:
"Because you are sweet and beautiful. And you get me food." (Mommy Dearest?)

Followed up with a testament as to the extent of his love for me.

"I love you as big as the WHOLE world and all of Florida." ( That's alot! Considering my mommy resume includes ensuring proper bathroom hygiene and providing of sustenance, I think its just the right amount.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010


We decided to get Ian his own iPod. By that I mean an MP3 playing device that he calls an iPOD in the same way we call all tissues Kleenex.

It's been less than 12 hours since we gave it to him, and maybe I am speaking a little too soon but, YAY. We've had some of the quietest car time in 4 years.

Except for when he speaks. Because he does not yet understand that because there is noise in his ears, he is shouting when he talks. But I'll take it.

Ahhhhh, the sound of silence (in the car....)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shhhh....Be Quiet In There

The second section of Eat, Pray, Love finds the author in an ashram in India where she has gone to find G*d. Daily spiritual devotional practice that commenced at 3:30 am was part of her journey to delve deeper into spiritual practice in order to ascend to a higher level of understanding of G*d and herself. This section gave me a lot to consider, most of which that while I want to travel Europe the notion of someday going to India to spend some time deepening my understanding of life is now also very appealing. Plus, I'd do just about anything if I could learn how to get the incessant voice in my head to just shut up once in a while...

The whole reason I write this blog is so that I have someplace healthy to purge the cyclone of thoughts and ideas constantly swirling in my head in hopes that by this emetic effort I can have five minutes of peace. Maybe someone, somewhere might find something in what I write that resonates for them and helps in someway, sort of like how those dandelion puff balls just demand for children to blow them when the wind doesn't. My little ideas can spread like those seeds and at least give them a chance to germinate in the fertile soil of someone else's mind. This is one of the ways I am nudged in new directions. Its kind of a cool idea that when I read something written by a person, who in practical terms is a stranger, launches me on a new trajectory of possibilities. I say a "practical" stranger but at the same time I feel that underlying connection that we all have as the little cilia-like human projections sprung forth into Being from the same source. How much of a stranger can any of us be with that much in common? So anyway, I throw all this mind chatter dialogue out into the cosmos and it is my pure intent that it be useful somehow.

Herein lies my spiritual journey. Since my brain, or ego, never stops yapping for 5 consecutive seconds it is my purpose in life reign it in. One of the only times it does this is when I am cooking. Which may explain why 50% of my waking hours are spent in a 12 square foot space of my kitchen. Why my family calls that room a restaurant, and why I tend to make elaborate, time consuming dishes as well as most condiments all from scratch. Yes it is also because I get to use the best quality ingredients and control exactly what is in our diet, but really it is nourishment for my spirit to get some solitude from the loquacity of that inner voice.

My mind seems to need something to do all the time. There are list-making people in this world and there are non-list making people. I am non-list making person and I realize now that by not making lists I am giving my brain something to entertain itself, much like giving a dog a chew toy. It likes its chatter to be front and center making the spiritual task of "living in the present moment" that much more of a challenge. So to occupy it I give it the grocery list and let it try to remember that.

The time has come for me to find some other ways to obtain this inner sanctity that does not involve driving out to the farm to get raw, pastured milk or to the co-op to collect my whole grains, or to the farmer's market for local produce and grass fed meats. Not that I am giving up those things, but I need practice at the practice of quieting that voice. And so my intention finally manifested in the Baptiste Yoga I began attending.

I've always been envious of people who find meditative calm in exercise. Some people run. I wish, oh how I wish, I enjoyed running. I don't. It's mostly torture until its over for me. And while yes I don't enjoy the physical sensation of running, especially on pavement, the real reason I don't like it is that it doesn't make the voice stop talking. I can think about everything while I run, even with music blaring in my ears. From what's for dinner, to making mental lists, to repertorizing a homeopathy case, and to worrying about some past or future event while I run and I don't want that. I want silence. I want focus. Please, for the love of all that is good, please SHUT UP IN THERE.

Because the vigorous yoga engages my mind, I find peace there. I have to be so totally focused on what I am doing that my ego mind steps aside as I flow between a one power-giving gumby like pose to the next with occasional collapses into child's pose as I try not to pass out or throw up. During the final savasana, I am often overwhelmed as whatever emotional backlog that remains after sweating every drop of liquid from my body is purged and then I am united with the others in that glorious harmonic OM. There is no room for chatter and then after an hour and a half of this relative solitude, I find bliss. Quiet, in-the-moment-bliss has been finding its way into more and more of my day outside of class. As I am learning to control that beast within, my energy is shifting. I find myself smiling more, engaging in conversation with strangers more, and most importantly having patience and enjoying Ian more. One line in Eat Pray Love suggests to serve G*d is very simple. Just notice who you love and every loving act you bestow on that person is in service to Him. Because they are Him. I always knew that mothering was G*d's work, but reading it this way helped cement that idea. I am serving my inner fountain of peace and nurturing my spirit when I am making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or folding underwear. Who knew? It helps to find meaning in the menial.

So in the book, when Liz traveled to India in search of G*d and so graciously decided to write about it openly, I was given these revelations. They came to me at 5:30 in the morning, were hastily scribbled out in a nearby notebook, and consequently transcribed here for whomever or no one on earth to read. Now that everything my mind had to say before dawn has been released to the universe maybe it will take a break for a bit so I can be present for the rest of my day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In Pursuit of Pleasure

I am reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is the autobiographical journey of the author's healing process after a nasty divorce. She embarks on a journey to find joy, to find G*d and to find herself, which as it turns out, is all essentially the same thing. The book is divided into 3 parts as she spends 1 year traveling to three different countries. Part 1 documents her pursuit of pleasure.
Following the divorce she decided she wanted to experience a culture that values taking pleasure in life. Because she wants to learn Italian, for no other reason other than the sound of it being spoken is music to her ears, her first stop is Rome. She spends 4 months in Italy, most of it in Rome, relishing in all the beauty that it has to offer through art, language, people and mostly food. To this, I can relate.

So many moments while reading this book remind me of why I loved Paris as much as I did. Europeans seem to understand that one path to G*d is to relish in all that is enjoyable of the physical world. It's in the architecture. It's in the art. It's in the music, the food, the language, the people. I've come to understand now that the reason these things are so moving is because the creation of these things has come directly from G*d through the people creating them. The artists, musicians, chefs, and architects find inspiration and then create beauty doing something they love and, as a by-product, foster a society capable of appreciating it. There is a certain "wholeness" to the experience that fills you up and satiates at every level.

We all have (or should have) those special moments in our life when all is right and good with-in and with-out and the beauty of a place or experience brings you that moment of peace and joy that can not be described as anything other than holy. For me, one of these moments occurred on our honeymoon, feeling totally in love with my new husband and exploring a new place together. One late afternoon in May while exploring Yosemite National Park we drove the Tioga Pass. At the time, I did not have the experience or words to adequately capture that experience. The quiet of the long, uninhabited road winding through the
mountains panoramic view after exquisite panoramic view of snow capped mountains, crystal clear lakes, and waterfalls. The sun setting gave everything a changing palette of colors; reds, oranges, blues, purples as day settled into dusk. It was Magestic. It was Him. It was a glimpse at how gloriously this world was created and all that beauty was given to me to reflect back at me all the peace and beauty I was feeling inside being a happy newlywed. I was given that moment at a time when I could most appreciate it, and therein lies the wisdom of All-That-Is.

The same internal feeling of peace was within me when I was in Paris. Now I know, nothing could be more different from mountain tops and rolling vistas than churches and old buildings but the beauty was of the same caliber. The only difference was that man was the artist instead of nature, but clearly G*d was working here too. This time the art came through man's hands instead of his own. The awe it inspired, for me, was much the same. The humans that create these works of art from the paintings to the architecture of the Louvre, to the caramel mille fuille (which while eating it can only be described as a transcendent experience) are able to do this because when in the act of creating the artists are free of their own "stuff." The insufferable mind chatter, the emotional turmoil, and the social trivialness of everyday life. When all that stuff is momentarily silenced and we do whatever it is that makes us able to turn all the noise off, that is when we know we are doing divine work. When we are answering our calling. That is when beauty comes through in what is created and it is perceived as such when received by others.

If Europeans understand and appreciate the value of pleasure and joy, what does that mean for our immature culture? Where capitalism is the name of the game and nothing is as important as the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Joy is stripped from the equation. For example, someone finds a plant in some remote forest that cures an ailment. Instead of finding a way to grow the plant to serve the needs of people in a way that honors the environment, the people it is to help, and the plant in its Wholeness as given, containing both the active chemicals and the intangible Is-ness of its being, our culture values stripping it down to its chemical components. We determine which component is the most active on the worst symptom of the ailment and then mass produce it in a laboratory with the ultimate endgame of making money, usually polluting or raping the environment at some or multiple points in the process. The intent is not pure. It is not in truly in service to others, and therefore not in service to G*d or ourselves. Much of this work is done by overworked, underpaid employees who do not bring joy and love to their work but by people who just need to keep running in the hamster wheel in service of the all mighty dollar, and usually most of that dollar is going to someone else. And this happens not just in medicine, but in the food industry as well if we consider the industrial fractionation of mass produced, chemical ridden, genetically modified corn and soy. Food isn't presented in Wholeness in our society, created with love from Fruits of the Earth. It is largely mass produced for the ultimate goal of the financial gain of few. Sure the research as been done to know exactly which nutrients our bodies should use to operate on a mechanical level and then we think we feed ourselves well with "isolated soy protein" shakes and bars. With beakless chickens fed corn waste product wallowing in their own feces and never seeing daylight. All generously laden with a dose of high fructose corn syrup, of course. We've removed the beauty. We've removed nature and that which can be created from nature. We've removed the pleasure at every step on the path. We've removed joy. We've also removed that which feeds our life force and explains why we have a society of malnourished, yet obese, people suffering all manner of disease. It's all so very utilitarian here where very little is done purely for the beauty and love and pleasure of doing or experiencing and with the goal of being of service to others as well as our own spirit.

Because, I have to say when sitting in a park in Paris, in front of a fountain, surrounded by old stone buildings adorn with statues, terraces dripping with flowers of every color, eating the best tasting, freshest food, and basking in the sunshine under the blue sky (with the love of my life of course), I felt every bit as close to G*d as I did on that mountain top. The beauty of both places was enough to move me to tears. Of Joy.

Next: Part 2 India- The Pursuit of Divinity

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I have developed a real thing for quinoa. I was first introduced to this ancient grain about 10 years ago but never paid it much attention.

Quinoa is technically not a grain, but a seed. However it is used as a grain when cooking, as it cooks up very similar to rice. It is considered one of the most complete plant based proteins, giving 24 g of protein in one cup. Here's a quick blurb I found on quinoa.

Quinoa is a very versatile food. It is a seed, which cultivation and uses date back to pre-Incan times. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete food. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered as a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.

Quinoa naturally comes coated in saponins,which cause a bitter taste. Most quinoa sold in the U.S. has been rinsed before packaging. If buying quinoa in bulk it may need to be soaked before hand to remove the bitter saponins. The quinoa should be soaked for a few hours then rinsed well under running water.

To prepare quinoa, is similar to rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14-18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl. Alternatively, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa. To that end, one volume of quinoa should be combined with two volumes of water.

(Source: http://hubpages.com/hub/Quinoa--Facts-and-Easy-Recipes)

I have sprouted quinoa and used in bread recipes. I've also used leftover cooked quinoa to thicken "cream" based soups without having to use any cream. Simply blend equal parts cooked quinoa and water until smooth and stir into soups. It also makes a satisfying warm breakfast cereal with a pat of butter, pinch of salt, and drizzle of maple syrup. (Thanks for that suggestion KBM!)

Here are two quinoa salads I have been enjoying recently.

Quinoa with sundried tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts (or chic peas)

Cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water until absorbed and fluff with a fork. Soften 1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes in warm water. In a pan, warm about 1/4 cup of olive oil over low heat. (Do not let it smoke) Add 2 cloves of minced garlic until fragrant. Squeeze out the tomatoes and dice small, add to the warm garlic oil. Add a pinch of red pepper flake. Then remove from heat and pour oil mixture over the quinoa. Chiffonade a handful of basil and add to the bowl. I often add spinach at this point with the basil. Add 1/4 cup of pine nuts and/or 3/4-1 cup of cooked chic peas. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the bowl and then mix it all together. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts (Thanks for this recipe Sherry!)

Combine 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and continue cooking until all water is absorbed. In a medium bowl, combine cooked quinoa, 1 cup of dried cranberries, 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, and 1/4 cup of sliced green onion. In a small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 2 cloves of garlic (minced) until well blended. Pour over the quinoa mixture and toss until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.