Little rituals can sometimes help me re-frame parts of my day that I sometimes resist, but I know are really part of the work of becoming more myself… becoming more excellently myself. They can help me integrate these parts into the big picture.
I’ve never been a fan of exercise. Gym class was torture. Sports were never my thing. And now, I find myself in a body that is terribly deconditioned from my highly cerebral focus and absolute resistance to anything that involves running, competition, or bouncing (this last is mostly structural, the sports bra that can contain these tracts of land has not been invented yet).
I am learning to make peace with exercise.
I’m finding how to condition my body in a way that does not require bouncing, running, or competing. And how to work with my body where it’s at, not where I or anyone else thinks it “should” be. And I’m discovering some interesting things about myself along the way.
I actually like weight training, which I never expected. I like the feel of muscles pushing and pulling. I like seeing the gradual improvement in ability. I can also obsess over it, creating spreadsheets of weights and sets and reps and formulas of gradual increase and retesting schedules and on and on and on… to the point where I spend more time on the getting-ready-to-exercise than I do actually working out in the gym. How fascinating.
So, I’m working on not letting my perfectionism get in the way of my exercise. And looking for the things I like about exercise, with a childlike and non-judgmental curiosity.
And one thing I’m doing is re-framing exercise not as a “should”, but as a gift to myself, a healing process, and a way to develop my potential and reclaim my power.
Looking back, I can see that my body became deconditioned through fear, shame, and depression.
I see something to ritualize. Let’s metaphor this bitch.
What if my fear, shame, and depression were stored in each fat cell that my body grew during this period?
And, as I exercise and sweat and shed these pounds and inches, what if I’m not just processing and releasing the fat cells, but also those emotions, memories, and limitations?
I don’t need them anymore.
They were things I held on to, but I am releasing them now. I am letting go of them. I don’t need to carry them any longer.
They were things I carried, but they are not ME. They were just the rough around the hidden diamond.
They wash away in my sweat after the workout. I drink water to help my body process them and flush them out.
At the bathroom sink after my workout, I literally wash my hands of them.
I let all that long-held ugh flow away with the cool, clean water.
Let all that is not me fall away.
So I can shine a little brighter.
So now, when I wash my face and hands after the workout, I have this little visualization / intention / prayer / thingy. It brings the whole exercise experience into the wider pattern of me growing into a stronger, healthier, happier me.
I love this pie so much. And this year, I finally got a good photo of it.
Apparently, the key to me taking good photographs is the macro lens. Hooray!
I’ve made this pie every Thanksgiving for three or four years. We aren’t huge pumpkin pie fans, and this is an excellent and festive holiday fruit pie.
This year, however, I may have botched it.
I was making cranberry sauce and blind-baking a second pie crust while making this pie… pre-Thanksgiving cooking is usually a symphony of multitasking. I dumped the sugar in the cranberry sauce, pulled the empty pie crust out of the oven, and turned around to mix the filling for the pear pie. I glanced at the recipe, and somehow the usually-trusty brain went through a process something like this:
Ah, next step: Add sugar to tapioca/spice mix, add this to fruit and stir.
Hey, I remember scooping some sugar a minute ago.
This is a pile of white grainy/powdery stuff with spices in.
Conclusion: I must have already mixed the sugar in.
This conclusion was false. I had not put any sugar into the pie. I did not realize my mistake until after I’d posted the recipe on Facebook, started a fun conversation about alternate uses for leftover cranberry sauce, finished my photo editing, and posted the photograph to go with the recipe.
So, it looks like this year we have a no-sugar-added pie, which would probably be fine if it were all-pear, but the cranberries really need a little alleviating sweetness. I’ll pick up some ice cream to try to offset the tartness, and we’ll see if it’s palatable. A friend has also suggested drizzling the pie with maple syrup, and I think this is brilliant. I will report back with the results.
And now, the recipe…
Holiday Pear Pie
Pears and cranberries, vanilla and nutmeg, nestled under a golden lattice… it’s everything a holiday fruit pie should be. And it comes together surprisingly quickly, too!
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 70 mins
1 recipe pie dough (top and bottom crust, I just use the pillsbury pie-dough-inna-box)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp ground instant (minute) tapioca
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 vanilla bean
2 1/2 ripe bartlett or anjou pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup pear juice or nectar (sometimes hard to find. Look for a can of Jumex in the Mexican food section of the store, or bottles of juice for babies.)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp coarse sugar
Preheat oven to 375, line a baking sheet with foil (this pie likes to drip a bit, and it makes a burned gummy mess on the pan)
Prepare pie dough according to directions (i.e. pull out of box…), press bottom crust into a 9 1/2″ deep dish pie pan (glass is best for this pie). Refrigerate while preparing filling
Zing the vanilla bean, nutmeg, and tapioca in a spice mill or food processor until it’s all powdered. Yes, the whole dang vanilla bean. Add the sugar, and toss this mix with pears, cranberries, and juice until fruit is well-coated. Transfer filling into pie shell. Dot the top of the pie with butter cubes (when I don’t forget the sugar, this is the part I always forget), and prepare the “lazy-lattice” top.
Roll out pie dough into a 14″ circle. Cut 12 1″ strips. Start in the center and lay 6 strips vertically 1/2″ apart across pie. repeat with next layer at a diagonal angle. Trim edges of lattice just a bit shorter than the bottom dough, then fold the bottom dough up over the lattice. Crimp edges with thumb and forefingers.
Transfer to baking sheet. Brush lattice with milk, sprinkle coarse sugar on top, and bake for 50 minutes. If edges of crust are golden, cover the edge with a triple layer of aluminum foil to protect it and return to oven until filling is bubbly and pears are fork-tender, 20 minutes more. Remove pie from oven and cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
I have no idea why I thought I’d start writing every day. Well, I mean, I do write nearly every day, but when I’m writing book stuff or marketing stuff, I generally don’t want to change gears to write a blog post, and when I’m All Done With Book Stuff For The Day, I don’t really feel like writing anything else. Hmm. But still, it”s nice to have a stack of themes to pull from when I do feel like writing a blog post. So, yeah, new idea: no guilt about not-writing-on-the-blog.
Wedding ring is still missing. Still no luck tracking down the paintings, but now I have an updated address for the dude who ran the gallery, so I’ll send him a certified letter (which might contain the words “Please don’t make me get a lawyer.”) and see what happens.
The sabbatical was brilliant and wonderful, but I think I spent the whole bundle of recharged grace and peace and motivation in getting through the Wizard of Oz production run, not freaking out too much about the ring, and not rampaging about the missing art. =( So now I feel only a little better than I did before I went, and all the good habits I rebooted during the sabbatical are back at ground zero. Bleah.
And… if things continue downhill with The Girlfriend in Oklahoma, then Oldest Son (aka Goth Daddy) might move back to Nebraska. To live with us. And “look for a job”. This was not a rousing success last time. Wondering how to balance compassion with the tough-love-discipline he probably needs. Guh.
Publishing this in the Divine Universal Personal Ads:
I want my wedding ring back. I know it was “just a thing“, but it was also “just” the symbol of my marriage, and “just” the first collaborative piece of jewelry my husband and I made together, and “just” gorgeous, and “just” hours and hours of hard work, hand-carving, stone-setting, and love love love. It’s the only one of its kind in the world. And I miss it so much.
I have searched and recruited others to search. I have dug through bags of trash from the high school. I have alerted the authorities. I have checked every pawn shop and cash-for-gold place in the city. I have filed a police report. If there is anything else I can do to help this come back to me, drop me a note, okay, Universe?
I don’t have a preference for how it comes back. If a high school kid gives it to the Bonnie Pirate Laddie during passing period, or the school office calls and says the janitors found it, or the police say it was bought by a pawn shop and we have to pay them to get it back, or I find it in my car. Or something else.
Please come back to me, ring.
Also, Universe, it would be really neat if those two stolen original paintings come back, too. I’m still working on that on my end. But if it comes down to choosing between those two pieces of art, and the ring, I’d rather have my wedding ring back.
So many good things are brewing this week! It’s stupid-busy, but awesome and fun.
I’m writing up a massive tutorial for my art site. It’s my first tutorial, so I’m probably being overly perfectionistic with it… and learning a lot of “how to make a non-sucky tutorial without having the process-of-making-the-tutorial suck, either” stuff. Also, I am not, by nature, a photoblogger. And tutorials kinda need a lot of photos. Gah. So, that’s a challenge for me. But, the project itself is pretty and I love it, so it’s still fun.
I am Stage Mom at the Bonnie Pirate Laddie’s highschool musical, which is The Wizard of Oz this year. The show has really come together, and is adorable. The set is mighty, the costumes and makeup are very well done, and the kids are really doing a phenomenal job with the music and acting. Some of these actors are spooky good. Tonight is opening night, and the performance schedule is MADNESS. So I’ll basically be living at the theatre until after strike on Monday night.
Halloween! This is my most favoritest time of the year EVER. The weather is awesome, it’s the socially-acceptable (sometimes even chic) time to be a witch, and I get to play with costumes! I have no idea when I’ll make the blouse and apron for my costume, but it’ll all work out, I’m sure. Not to mention — between the show’s performance schedule and Halloween falling on a Sunday this year, I’m not sure how we’re going to manage the going-out-to-play-in-costume thing. The local pubs will probably be doing their Halloween parties on Saturday, but if the show doesn’t end until 10:30, then there’s chaos and cleanup… we probably can’t get in costume, with our makeup done, until after 12:30. Oof. But there may not be anything to go DO on actual-Halloween. Must research the pub parties and see what’s up with that.
Brewing up some magic, helping the kids entrance their audiences, and the opportunity to go out and do a little bewitching myself. Yep.
Best. Week. Ever.
Here was my method for creating my sabbatical:
First, I found a location. I had a pretty specific idea in mind… I wanted somewhere I could hole myself away in isolation for several days, without having to interact with anyone, not even to pay for a meal or say “I don’t need fresh towels today, thank you.” I wanted to be able to burn some candles. I wanted to be able to sing or dance or scream or cry in this space, at any hour of night or day, without worrying about interfering with anyone else’s rest or relaxation.
I found a cabin in a state park, and it’s off-season, and I went in the middle of the week, so even the few cabins around me that were occupied were empty by the time I left. There was a fridge and a stove, so I was able to pack in and cook my own food — easier on my diet and my hermit-like isolation. There was a wood-burning fireplace, which I was able to burn tealight candles in pretty much constantly. Awesome.
Before I left, I made a “camp activities sampler list” for myself: activities I might want to do, things that would serve my overall intention. Things like “stretch” and “meditate” and “write a list of 77 things you love” and “sing along with 80’s music” and “degauss chakras”. I made sure I had several physical things, several emotionally comforting/uplifting things, several spiritual things, and several thinking/writing type things. And several things that incorporated as many of those together as possible!
I packed up the stuff I’d need to do those activities. And I made sure I treated this list like a convenient list of options, NOT like an agenda or must-do list. I gave myself permission to NOT-DO any of them. When I felt restless, or wanted a break from drawing, I could wander over to the list and see if any of them caught my eye. Or I could just sit there and tune in to myself and say, “Okay, what do I really want to do right now?”
I was pleasantly surprised that “lounge around and do nothing” was never the answer I got. I’d tune in, quiet my mind, and feel a desire to do some stretches. Or start cooking dinner. Or change the music. Or whatever. I was pleased to discover that I’m less lazy than I’d thought, and that part of me genuinely does have some healthy desires, and that part of me is actually capable of knowing those desires if I just try to listen.
So I had this very modular and open structure… bits and pieces that I could place together in whatever way seemed right at the time. But enough structure that I never felt lost, or adrift, or bored.
I wonder if that’s the way I need to start scheduling my days? Not a monastic schedule of set hours, but instead this sort of flexible, shifting container that can slide around me like a Rubik’s cube. Hmmm. I’m going to sit with this and look at the idea from several sides.
“Here’s the keys to your cabin.”
“Oh, it’s just me, so I just need one key.”
The ::clang:: sound you just heard was a heavy armored gauntlet falling to the ground at the feet of the Fates.
I drove to my cabin, a little less than a mile away, and unloaded all my goodies. And the cabin was not the rustic sort of thing that I think of when I hear the word “cabin”. This was a lovely little cottage. It was fabulous. I unpacked, settled in, and fell asleep.
When I woke up, I made myself a mug of Earl Grey tea and soaked up the I’m-on-sabbatical-ness of it all. I bumbled through making a second cup of tea and tried blearily to decide if I should start my day by doing Chi Kung, or Shiva Nata, or some stretches, or if I should go for a walk in the park. I decided to grab a blanket and sit on the lovely little sun porch and stare at the woods while the tea was steeping, and see if a decision about Morning Movement might happen while I basked in the glorious green of oak trees and undergrowth.
I’m not sure if I zoned out, or zen’d out, or if it matters, but at some point I realized my hands were chilly, and that if I just went inside to get my tea, the mug would keep them warm. Brilliant!
This is when I discovered that the cabin door had locked behind me.
Now, being a woman alone, I’d locked the front door of the cabin before going to bed. I was completely locked out.
I was wearing a sweatshirt, yoga pants, fuzzy chenille snuggle socks, and satin slippers to keep the porch cruft off the fuzzy socks.
I walked to the parking lot to check the park map in my car to make sure I knew how to get back to the lodge (was it three left turns, or two?) … but I had locked my car out of habit.
Well, the park has lots of signs. And I probably knew the way. So I walked to the lodge.
And really the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. What had been a little chilly for sitting was ideal for walking. It was lovely, and a mile walk is easy. And I found the lodge without any problems.
A friendly park ranger type was chatting with the two desk clerks as I walked up. I explained that I’d locked myself out of my cabin, and gave the cabin number.
“Oh dear. And you probably already have both keys to the cabin?”
“Well, no, actually, I only took one because I thought I wouldn’t need the second key.” We all laughed.
“Oh! Well, since the second key is still here, that does make it easy… here you go. I’m sorry you had to walk all the way up here.”
“Oh really, it’s no trouble, I’d been thinking about taking a walk this morning anyways… I just hadn’t planned on doing it in my slippers.” I held up one foot and wiggled my toes at the park ranger. She grinned and said, “Don’t worry dear, I’m sure nobody will notice.”
I walked out of the lodge just as a middle-age, well-dressed blonde woman was walking in. She looked me over once, and her gaze went all the way down to the slippers. Her head snapped up, she immediately put this tight fake smile on her face, and walked past me without making eye contact or saying a word.
Damn. Now I wish I’d packed the fuzzy blue monster slippers!