I have crossed paths with this poem a couple of times in the last few months. Each time I stumble across it I find its wording rattling around in my head for days. And it is further evidence of the quirkiness of the Universe and the belief I have harbored that the world sees fit to put before us what we need; as far as life lessons.
The Journey, by Mary Oliver speaks so perfectly to the events in my life that I find myself unable to breathe. The challenge put forth in this life is to blaze our own paths while paying homage to the brave souls that have gone before us. To the ones that support and nurture us in our growth and evolution. And I personally, I imagine others as well, find the most horrifying and liberating part of growing up is learning to see who we really are. Who others really are. And more importantly to accept it. Or perhaps it’s less seeing, and more just growing comfortable with who we are. Learning to stand up in our convictions, beliefs, and quirks.
It can be easier to allow circumstance to define who we are, but the message that resounds for me in The Journey is the ability to remove ourselves from circumstance and come toe-to-toe with who we are without all the external noise. And so my tiny cabin is my opportunity to explore this voice. And define what I want out of life for myself and my future, without due respect to circumstance. I simply cannot wait to see where this leads.
“The Journey,” by Mary Oliver, from Dreamwork (Atlantic Monthly Press).
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Two weeks ago one of my favorite people left the Midwest and travailed the wide, mountainous expanse to Oregon. Okay so he came to Portland for a conference and agreed to stay a bit longer for a visit with me. And so began the bender.
I have eaten more cheese and duck fat in the last two weeks than I have in the last 2 months. There have been cocktails, beer, and desserts galore. Gut rot has started to set in. I’m wearing more dresses and just bought leggings because pants are too restrictive.
You’d think that would be enough to make me change course back to my general veggie eating, fruit bat habits. But no, shuffling myself through the Portland airport this morning I was stopped dead in my tracks by this title:
The New Bible Cure for Diabetes.
If that’s not the universe telling me to slow my gluttonous role, then I don’t know my ass from my elbow. And I am the LAST person to jump on any biblical bandwagon. I haven’t read the book, but I’m just gonna assume it’s about avoiding gluttony and run with that.
Look for some raw, mostly vegan, cheese and gluten free recipes coming soon.
They says friends are the family you choose. On an evening I find myself in the midst of not one, but two dinners I am overwhelmed by the amazing people I have cultivated friendships with.
Tonight over ceviche and rejected avocado (for shame), I was able to touch base with two women I still beg to adopt me. As my mentors through grad school and beyond they have continued to inspire me and make me laugh until my cheeks ache. They bring levity and warmth to any situation, and they have been there for arguably one of the worst.
I think of them as the aunts I never had and know they are always a phone call, an email, or a winding road-trip away. They offer the kind of firm guidance and loving support I hope to pass along to another lost soul some day.
And I am immeasurably blessed. There are more where they came from. My heart swells just thinking of my curated family.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues persuasively (thank you science), “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” This idea that we don’t need to, “…fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it,” rings so true in the situation I find myself in currently. And even that phrasing is inaccurate, and posits that I am a victim. The situation I have created for myself, and the transformation I am undertaking.
The niggling feeling I have found myself at odds with for longer than I can recall is that I have been disingenuous. The aligning of words and actions have been incongruous. While I have been evolving into a new iteration–one in which I am clear in my wants, needs, and desires–I had been effecting uncertainty. It is this schism that makes way for dissatisfaction and malcontent.
Mandy Stadtmiller articulates the dangers of this schism rather poignantly, “…at the end of the day, it is only my actions toward MYSELF that are teaching others how to treat me.” And that is where I find myself. I am no longer making space in my life for such a disconnection of actions and words. I am learning to respect myself enough to stand confidently in what I want from life. Kowtowing to the roles defined for us by others robs us of the opportunity to be our authentic selves.
We are all a work in progress, but we get to define that work for ourselves. And so it is that I seek to continuously make the conscious decision to define myself, to explore the world with a more powerful grounding, and to align my words with my actions.
In the spirit of happiness and making the most of things I have taken to dating myself. And no, not date as in age; ignore the Blondie t-shirt. It’s girl’s night out. Book, beer, and burger. And this small cabin life is exactly what I needed. Long walks on warm nights with a summer long music festival scoring my new life. I was never one much for magic and mysticism, but this right here? It’s universal perfection.
“So there isn’t someone else? You have a job you love and that’s enough?” Yeah actually it is.
The last few months have seen my life plans turned on their ear. The future that once shined so bright is tarnished beyond repair, and the partner I saw standing by my side is no longer there. So when I’m asked how I can possibly be so happy, the question is really how can I not be?
What I’ve gained from the 7 years together is immeasurable and wonderful. But wallowing in agony serves no purpose other than to devalue the time we spent together. We both get to be happy. And I choose happiness.
I’m capable of loving more deeply and fully than I ever believed. And unconditional love doesn’t hinge on remaining together. I love myself too. And this has perhaps been the most valuable lesson.
I have a greater appreciation for my strengths. I’m flawed, and fallible. But there is a strength that comes from choosing to learn and move forward. And sometimes the choice has to be more conscious, other times it is just a state of being.
The sheer grit I put into seeing the bright side in the midst of emotional turmoil makes it that much easier to embrace the wonder and awe I come across almost daily. My gratitude knows no bounds. I choose happy.
I went to the farmers’ market a couple of weekends ago and decided to dabble in a couple of unfamiliar greens. I picked up some mizuna, which I was was wholly unimpressed with. I wasn’t able to use it the same day I got it, and it proceeded to wilt into a soggy mess by the next day. I may try it again, but only if I have time to eat it same day. I did however have much better luck with some red kale rapini. The gentleman I purchased it from informed me that most rapini you can get at a grocer is broccoli rabe and available year round. He highly recommended the kale or cabbage rapini as they are only available early spring. So I leapt. Prompted largely by Lovely Fifty-Fifty’s rapini dish I had a couple weeks ago. While my rendition was slightly different, I enjoyed it fully.
- 1 bunch red kale rapini [really whatever you can get your hands on]; rinse and chop all willy-nilly
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 medium white onion, chopped coarsely
- soppressata, chopped into bits and pieces [fistful]
- anchovy paste
- tomato paste
- crushed red pepper flakes
- olive oil
- 2 cups uncooked whole wheat penne
Again, I am TERRIBLE with measurements and whatnot, so wing it. Add this, add that until you like. If the whole thing sounds disgusting, then don’t make. The end.
Start a large pot of water to boil. Heat decent amount [3tbsp? 2?] of olive oil in pan [with matching lid] over medium heat. Render soppressata in oil with red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to ~medium-low add garlic and and onion. Throw in a respectable [to taste] amount of anchovy paste. Stir around in pan, add rapini. Toss ingredients together in pan. Cover with lid.
Water should be boiling by now. Add penne. Cook. Toss rapini about a couple of times while waiting for pasta to cook. Drain pasta. Return to pot. Toss with basil, oregano, tomato paste. I threw some butter in there because I heart butter, even if my heart doesn’t.
Serve rapini over penne with generous shavings of parmigiano or asiago. Mangia!