I haven’t sat down to write in a while in part because in fall/winter I often turn inward, and in part because I haven’t felt there is much to say as of late. I have found myself trying to rebuild my foundation, get in touch with things that are important to me, and organizing. Lots of organizing, trying to make the place I spend most of my time nowadays one that feels like home. So, I suppose, in an effort to share some of my discoveries/rediscoveries, here are a few things I have been enjoying.
1. Paleo Comfort Food Cookbook Okay, I am not a person who diets to lose weight. I try to eat (or not eat) foods that best contribute to my well being. I don’t eat strictly “paleo”, and I’m not here to defend it. However, I have been dairy-and gluten-free for about 3 years or so, but my ability to cook delicious food that I can eat has been…lacking. The Paleo Comfort Food Cookbook is helping to change that. (I did notice when I went to their website that they have a new book out, one that probably addresses my tiny criticism of the original (that it’s geared more toward people with a more extensive knowledge of cooking than myself), a “quick and easy” book.) We have only scratched the surface, but so far the recipes we like the most are pot of chicken pie (I’m pretty sure Hubby would be happy if I made this every week), mashed cauliflower (the first time I made it, it was perfection, the second was a little lacking, but I am hopeful!), biscuits and gravy (this is definitely a “sometimes” food; your heart can’t take this too often, but SO good!), and strawberry short cake (we have made it with or without berries and have added Coconut Bliss or coconut milk when we have been craving whipped cream).
2. Qi Gong Meditation App I’m sure there are a myriad of meditation apps out there. I tried another one to begin with, but have settled into a happy partnership with the Qi Gong Meditation app. I like this one the most because of its many and varied options–audios, videos, articles–and its simplicity. I engage in the 3 minute mindful breathing exercises the most often.The length (most around 10 minutes) and type of meditations (guided) also fall in line with what works for me. This year I have really wanted to focus on cultivating love and compassion for myself and others, as I see this as a pathway to being more in line with the accepting person I wish to be. Once I discovered that two of the meditations focus on this (the loving kindness and more advanced compassion meditations), my love solidified.
3. Gabrielle Roth’s Ecstatic Dance Collection My husband and I decided that we want to have two things in our lives: martial arts for him, and dance for me. Gabrielle Roth’s Ecstatic Dance Collection is one that I am happy to be getting reacquainted with. I bought the original DVD (oh, wait, VHS) when I was still in high school in the mid-’90s. Gabrielle Roth asks you to “sweat your prayers” through her 5 rhythms of ecstatic dance. I acknowledge that this certainly isn’t for everyone, but I find that dance is really the moving meditation that I am most able to dissolve into, truly one of the only times that my mind is quiet. Side note: the collection I bought has three DVDs–the original, a high-energy version, and a more meditative version. If I could do it all over again, I would have eased back into this practice with the slower version, and worked my way up. I started off with the high-energy version and, no longer being used to dancing for thirty minutes straight, I was an immovable, nauseous mess, temporarily, anyway.
4. Tai Chi Last year, before we even declared out loud the basic things we wanted in our lives, my husband started looking around for a tai chi video. He came across this one by a local man who he sometimes watched on the university access channel. My favorite things about this video are that there is very detailed instruction if you want it, I can usually find twenty minutes to start my day with tai chi, and the effects of tai chi are so perfectly subtle–I am more flexible, calmer, and stronger.
5. Gingerbread I Can Eat! Once I decided that I wanted to make gingerbread this past Christmastime, I became almost instantly overwhelmed by the number of recipes. But I didn’t want just any gingerbread recipe; I wanted one that was dairy-and gluten-free, and, of course, tasted good! This one is a winner! My three favorite things about this recipe: it uses chia or flax to thicken it; the base is zucchini; and, of course, it tastes amazing! The only minor downfall is that it looks so much like conventional brownies, I feel the neurotic impulse to continuously announce what they are (in a party setting) so that no one would be disappointed that it wasn’t chocolate.
And today marks the Chinese New Year in my sign, the horse.
I find myself with high expectation for the Year of the Horse. But I am most hopeful that as I continue to build my foundation and rediscover who and what I love doing/being, my broader vision will have the space to be realized. May it be a year of growth, love, and travel for you!
(My 9-year-old son, AKA Monkey, very reluctantly took these pictures of me barely getting in to the ecstatic dance video. This all he had the patience for today! )