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it’s been a crazy week and i find myself looking for solace – in whatever form. today i let myself sleep in, which isn’t hard considering i live in a bedroom with no windows. i painted the walls white to give the illusion of light, but waking up is always difficult. i came upstairs, made a pour over, and sat down to eat bacon, yogurt and muesli. there is a window in our living room that gives off the best light. a small white desk sits underneath, cradling books, a lamp and several potted plants. i like to sit and read or write there in the mornings. people are always walking by, holding hands or walking their dogs. it is idyllic.

i sat down to enjoy breakfast and read. reading is a luxury these days because i’m often in my car, on the go. i’m finishing “small victories” by anne lamott. she’s my hands-down all time favorite author, perhaps because she’s seen hardship, death and addiction but she’s full of life, honesty and God.

i saw her speak at the end of last year and i’ve decided, now over a month into the new year, that i want to focus on living out what she spoke. she read a few excerpts from her books, answered questions and talked about life. she’s 60, has dreads and i don’t have a lot in common with her. someone stopped my friend and i after the lecture, asking why we came. she was a little surprised we were there and as we looked around the room, we saw why. most of the people there were at least a good two decades older than us – we were by far the youngest. the truth is, i think we were there because we wanted to hear truth – that life is shi**y, but it is good.

as for what she said:
* refuse to stop crying because God loves real
* when all is said and done, all we have is stories and compassion (barry lopez)
* practice militant self-care
* allow no scary people in your life
* listen to the questions and answers i have. they often hold valuable keys in how to live a good life

these are lessons that learned over and over again, throughout a life. but here’s to starting now.

Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: ‘May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.’ But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.

| Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved |

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetfridays should be celebrated with flowers, don’t you agree?

a busy week was had, and i’m finding that the busier life is the more necessary it is to be organized and efficient. (this coming from the girl only had time to hang lights on her christmas tree and then left it up until this week) although life has been busy, i’ve found more time to cook and bake. last year’s project was the “stop shop” challenge. i will be continuing that this year, (with a few tweaks) but i have also decided to try my hand at vegetarianism. i’ve thought a lot about it, watched several documentaries, read multiple books and came to the conclusion that becoming vegetarian will be beneficial in many areas of life. more on that to come…

i received an amazing vegetarian cookbook for christmas: “super natural every day” by heidi swanson of 101 cookbooks. it is an easy-to-read cookbook with beautiful images and the ingredients used are readily available to the american cook. i recently made the macaroon tart which was quickly eaten by friends.

MACAROON TART (adapted)

1.5 c white whole wheat flour
3/4 c shredded coconut (the recipe calls for unsweetened, but i only had sweetened on hand. i substituted and reduced the amount of sugar)
1/2 t sea salt
10 T butter, melted

2 c shredded coconut
1/3 c cane sugar (i used coconut sugar)
4 lg egg whites
8 oz/225 gr blackberries + small handful of chopped plums
1/3 c chopped almonds

preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle of the oven. butter an 8 x 11 in. tart pan or pie pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

to make the crust, combine the flour, coconut, sugar and salt in a large bowl. stir in the melted butter and mix until dough is crumbly and not dusty. firmly press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. bake for 15 minutes, or until barely golden. remove and cool for a few minutes.

in the meantime, prepare the coconut macaroon filling by combining the coconut, sugar and egg whites. mix until well combined.

evenly distribute the blackberries (or whatever fruit you choose) across the tart base. drop dollops of the macaroon filling around them. press the coconut topping around the berries.

bake for 20-25 minutes, until the peaks of the macaroon filling are deeply golden. let the tart cool and garnish with the chopped nuts.

Processed with VSCOcamthis week has left me feeling a little bruised and beaten and i am not alone in these feelings. i’m re-reading this book and the premise, like the title, is that life is bittersweet – too much sweetness rots the body and the soul. as americans we tend to run from pain and anything that could threaten the way of life we believe we deserve, thus leaving us one-dimensional and entitled human beings. bittersweet though, is beautiful, courageous and reminds us that life is a constant wave of death and life.

the author speaks of a season of life which was characterized by change, “hard, swirling, one-after-another changes, so many that i can’t quite regain my footing before the next one comes…” ah, resonating words. yesterday i found myself crying on my phone outside of anthropologie (my supposedly happy place) and i can’t tell you the number of cafes and pubs i’ve cried in these past months. i have no shame about crying anymore. i think life is wildly unfair, but… that’s life. it’s difficult for everyone and i’m trying my damnedest to embrace every aspect of the bitter-sweetness. knowing sadness and loss has taught me to recognize and appreciate the goodness of life. it is there. in the wee hours of the morning i found it in a text message, telling me to open my front door. what greeted me was this coffee, pastry, fall leaves and a note reminding me that life is difficult, but the difficulties are overshadowed by the goodness around me.

“i believe deeply that God does his best work in our lives during times of great heartbreak and loss, and i believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over.” – bittersweet

it’s september and time seems be moving at breakneck speed. but then there are those drag-along days, leaving me to wonder at their end. temperatures in denver are still warm, and i keep telling myself that perhaps in a little over a month there will be snow on the ground or at least on the mountains in the horizon. and the day seems brighter with that thought. there is a sense of sadness at the changing of seasons, in new beginnings – because any new start is an end of something. and i like to hang on to whatever there is to grasp. but there is no point in hanging onto shadows or ideas. they are only illusions or memories.

i am reading/working my way through “The Artist’s Way.” around this time last year, i was sitting in a group of 15 or so people, the majority of them musicians, art students or entrepreneurs. the question was asked, “who in this room is creative?”

i was the only person not to raise my hand.

am i creative? i’m a dabbler. i love books, words, design, nature, movies, music. but i would never consider myself creative. i am friends with creative types. but me? of course not.

i began working my way through this book because i believe in any time of transition or change, art is necessary. creativity is a healing agent, a comfort. and by reading this book, i am learning to let go of my pre-conceived ideas of art and creativity. it comes down to the understanding that if i have a Creator and am created in His image, creating is part of my dna. it is a response to life. i am learning to see that creativity is part of the whole package of personhood – i am an artist in how i love people, decorate my home, take time to plant flowers and herbs from seeds, how i communicate and live my life. it does not mean i have to create to display or that i am unrivaled at a particular art form. it simply means that i am to create – using whatever interests and talents i have. i create by being me.

that sounds simple, but when we are never taught about our true selves, when we can’t discern truth from lies, our creativity is stifled. but with the changing of seasons (or the hope at the changing of seasons), i am reminded that there is always room for creativity, for art. there is time to find our true selves. letting go of illusions and the shadow of self is painful, but there is such beauty in the newness of change.