Apple crisp to the rescue

I’m at that stage in a new daily practice where I’m resenting having to do it. I think I’d be digging it if I didn’t have so many other things to do. But as my life is structured right now, I’m kind of crabby about all this writing. I don’t seem to be lacking things to say… Just the luxury of making it a priority. However… Before I go all piss-y, I have to laugh at myself a little and take my friend, Julie, as an example.

She’s a fabulous writer who’s been on a long hiatus from blogging, and she’s taking the NaBloPoMo daily blogging challenge as an experiment in reconnecting with her writing self. She’s the mother of a VERY active preschooler, and works as a freelance editor and writer. So, you know, she’s busy.

Yesterday, she posted the most sparse entry, but it was great. It said a ton about her life and her with very few words and, I’m guessing, very little time spent. So clearly, lots of time isn’t actually a requirement of crafting a worthy post. Looks like I need a little attitude adjustment.

Toward that end, I made the most fabulous apple cobbler today. Because, really, what adjusts an attitude more than something juicystickysweet? It was really more a crisp than a cobbler, though I don’t think I could define the difference.

I knew it was going to come out well because I was totally inspired to make it. Sometimes, I just get an idea, a list of ingredients, snippets of vision for how it should come together, and I know, I mean I know, it’s going to be delicious. It all seems so simple, so clear. It’s really like channeling it from somewhere else.

In this case, I’ve made pies and cobblers before, so my vision was informed by memories of those recipes. Still, it was one of those moments when I could feel the directions in my bones.

And wow, it was SO good.

Unfortunately, as is always the case with one of these inspired dishes, it’s going to be extremely hard to duplicate. I don’t measure anything, can’t be interrupted to write things down. It’s all I can do to keep up when the muse takes over my body and kitchen to make something yummy. But I do try to write down at least the ingredients after it’s done, and did this time, too. It doesn’t always help and virtually never produces the same effect, but at least it’s a starting place.

In case your kitchen muse might delight in a starting place, here’s what I know about what I did. Oh my Goddess… SO good!

Inspired apple cherry crisp

(Tash, I apologize now. This recipe is going to make you crazy.)

6 or 7 organic Gala apples, peeled and sliced thin

Some lemon juice

Some maple syrup

Some cinnamon

2 T. arrowroot

Some dried cherries

I mixed ’em up in a big bowl, poured them into a 9 x 13 baking dish, and put several pats of butter all around on top. Actually, I let the apples sit for a long while in the bowl with the syrup, cinnamon and lemon juice because I got distracted by lunch. I have no idea if that makes a difference. You’ll have to ask your muse.

1 cup gluten-free oatmeal

1 cup almond meal

a little less than 1/2 cup Rapadura sugar

some cinnamon

6 or 7 tablespoons of butter

I mixed it all up in a food processor until it was kind of paste-y. Then, I stirred in a bunch of walnut pieces, mixing with a spoon so they’d stay whole. I crumbled this mixture on top of the apples and baked the whole thing at 350 degrees for an hour.

We ate it with freshly whipped cream which I made with heavy whipping cream, a bit of Xylitol, some vanilla extract and a stick blender (my current favorite kitchen gadget). And have I mentioned… It was SO good. Even writing about it is delicious.

Ha! Attitude adjusted.

Total yum


Death reminds me that resistance is a luxury

When I was in high school, I had a classmate. I didn’t really know him. Over the course of four years, we had several classes together, but I don’t recall ever having a conversation. He seemed quiet, reserved, maybe a little awkward, and I wasn’t great at reaching out either. He was super smart.

About three weeks before we graduated, he killed himself. Took himself to the beach and, apparently, walked into the ocean. At least, that’s how I remember it described.

We were all stunned. On the cusp of freedom, independence, adulthood and adventure, the general mood had been jubilant. How could one of us be so despondent, then, to end his life?

A friend of mine who knew this classmate much better than I told me that he had been troubled. He wanted to be a musician, but his parents were pushing him into science, a more suitable place they thought for his brilliant mind. I imagine what felt to many of us like pure potential on the horizon felt to him like prison.

I think about this classmate every Saturday. There’s a guy in my dance group who arrives in track pants and a plaid flannel, then ducks into the men’s room and emerges wearing a long, flow-y skirt and jazz sneakers. He dances his heart out for two hours, throwing his body against the air like he’s in his own, private mosh pit, limbs flailing, bits of angsty voice riding the crest of whatever music is playing. But he is obviously cheerful in this place. An easy smile greets those who catch his eye and, sometimes, his joy and enthusiasm spill right over into hoots and hollers and claps. Then, when it’s over, he puts his track pants back on and heads out the door.

I wonder if my classmate had had a place where he could be himself, express himself as fully and uniquely as the guy in my dance group, would things have gone differently for him? Would he have made a different choice?

Today, something else occurred to me. Watching my dance buddy rock out, and remembering my classmate, it struck me that resistance is a luxury. If (when) I say yes to who I want to be, what I want to do, there will be little in my way. I live in a peaceful, prosperous country, in a relatively open society. I am capable, smart, well educated and my basic needs are more than met already. I am an adult, and I am alive.

I could go so far as to say that resistance is an indulgence, but that feels pretty harsh and being harsh is, you guessed it, another way to resist. So, let’s just stop at luxury and take that in.

I used to remember more clearly that it’s a luxury, when I was first injured.

As I was falling, I was tipping toward my head. It was my upper back that made contact, finally, with the ground. But had I been higher in the tree, had there been more time for tipping, I could have easily landed on my head. If it didn’t kill me, it could have broken my neck. And no matter how challenging paraplegia is, it’s always easier than quadraplegia. The fact that I can breathe and cough independently, and use my hands, has a huge impact on my life.

I was very aware of this when I was first injured, and it was comforting. I felt tremendous gratitude for my good fortune, as odd as that sounds. My life felt very precious. And that was motivating.

Now, nine years out from what could have been, I forget. But I don’t want to forget. My life is no less precious for the years that have passed.  And kids like my classmate (and millions of others for many other reasons) don’t have the chance to stretch into their wholeness and live their dreams.

What better way to honor both them and my “good fortune” than to forego the resistance and really live.



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She let go — More on resistance

Since reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which I resist my life. I’m remarkably creative. The worst part about it, though, is that, sometimes, seemingly positive behaviors are actually clever ways of resisting. Sure, I use indecision and procrastination and food and TV and criticism and worry, etc. to step out of living/creating/growing, etc. But I can also use planning, getting support, caring for my family, processing, analyzing, WRITING ABOUT IT, to slow things down. In fact, I’m fairly convinced that I can use just about anything. The Queen of Resistance can spin and conscript virtually everything into her service. So, when I recently read the below, I nearly fell out of my chair. I wish I could have it tattooed inside my brain.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advise . She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all the memories that held her back. She let go of all the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’ t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go. There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

~~ Reverend Safire Rose

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Shot in a parking lot in Santa Monica

I went to see my friend Wendy Hammers’ autobiographical, one-woman play called Ripe. It’s about my friend’s journey to her whole, juicy self and it’s touching, funny, raucous, insightful, clever, and moving. It’s also poignant, I expect for nearly everyone, but most definitely for me.

I make my living inspiring people to make the most of their lives, reminding people that life is unpredictable and the time to live it is now. And yet, I am the most resistant person you will ever meet. Seriously. I am the Queen of Resistance, and I don’t mean that in a cool, activist kind of way. I mean it in the dig-in-your-heals, kicking-and-screaming, all-the-way, every-day kind of way. It’s not pretty. And the thing I resist more than anything else? My work.

So the other night, I was sitting in the theater, reading the playbill, and there was an insert advertising a self-help seminar with a woman that I assume is a friend of Wendy’s. It was about claiming your wholeness, including your sensuality, and living your dreams (I’m paraphrasing horribly).

Well, one thing that I’ve been exploring lately in my work is becoming a coach for just this kind of thing. People have been telling me for years that I should do this, asking me to share how I live the way I do in the circumstances I have, and finally I’ve been considering doing it. I’m actually quite drawn to it. But I am also really, really resisting it.

So, as I’m reading this little flyer, I’m thinking things like: “I could never do this” and “My god, everyone’s doing this” and “What could I possibly offer” and “I don’t know anything” and “I’ll never get it together” and “Am I living my dreams?” and “What sensuality?” and “Juicy? More like parched” and “I am tired and scared…. Not the woman people think I am at all” and oh, so very much more. I told you. Not pretty. But you see, criticism is extremely effective resistance.

And then, thankfully, Wendy’s show began, and for an hour I was mostly distracted from my free fall into self-doubt and criticism. Wendy has great stories and she’s a fabulous storyteller, and I was LOVING watching her come out strong with big risks, big heart, big laughs, and a big butt!

But as soon as it was over, I felt myself sliding back into my “I suck” slippers to trudge around the muck I know so well. I greeted my friend, congratulated her on really terrific work, and slunk away because I just couldn’t muster enough shine to feel comfortable in this social, celebratory setting.

I wheeled back to the parking lot, accompanied by the nasty soundtrack in my head. I paid for my parking, headed to the car, and began the transfer process, all the while whining and criticizing myself within an inch of my life. I transfered into the front seat and… BANG!!

I heard this really loud, explosive POP just outside my car door. My first thought? Someone took a shot at me.

I looked toward the noise, then looked elsewhere on the street to see if anyone was reacting. I actually took a moment to assess if I was bleeding.

No one was screaming and I seemed fine, so I just sat there, trying to figure out what had happened.

I’d felt a tiny puff of air against my hand at the moment of the pop. My only clue. And I finally figured out that the tire on my wheelchair had blown. Just like that, for no apparent reason. In nine years of wheeling, it’s never happened. But on inspection, I could see that the tire closest to me had blown at the top, just next to the rim. Weird.

After I’d collected myself and started home, I got to thinking about it. It had left me with a familiar feeling, something I felt in the days before my accident. It felt like the universe had called out to me. And the message was clear: Shut up. Just stop. Stop the whining. Stop the complaining. Stop criticizing. Just stop… Now.

It wasn’t a mean message. In fact, it felt quite loving, in a fierce and VERY dramatic way. And it was effective, at least as far as pulling me from my inner tirade. But I didn’t actually feel much better. I wish I could say I felt newly motivated or committed or even more compassionate toward myself. But no such luck. For the rest of the evening, I just felt sort of blank. I guess that’s what happens when you release something from your mind. There’s a space left behind and, until you fill it, it’s the emptiness you feel.

A day later, when I started writing about it, I found myself feeling something different. I was reminded that when I felt the universe calling out to me nine years ago, I ignored it. I mean, I didn’t totally ignore it. I tried to listen. Sort of. Briefly. But I couldn’t really hear clearly and I asked for another message. Five days later, I fell out of a tree and broke my back.

So now I’m wondering, at what cost do I turn away from the signs and signals life sends me? At what cost do I continue to resist, in the myriad of ways I’ve perfected? And what am I going to do next?

Well, I’m going to do several things. First, I’m going to tell the truth, about the ugly voices in my head, the potentially bumpy road into new territory, and what the new places look like. I’m going to share the hard parts, as well as the triumphant, glorious, happy parts. I’m going to do this because silence breeds shame and I don’t want to feel ashamed of what amounts to my humanity. I also don’t want to feel alone and silence breeds distance. It makes me think I am the only one thinking, feeling, struggling, the way I am. And that is simply never, EVER true.

The second thing I’m going to do is seek others who are stretching into fuller versions of themselves AND talking about it. Empathy is the most healing thing I know, far more effective than being told how great I am, or how much I have to offer. When I hear other people’s stories, their truths, I see not only them but myself more clearly.

And lastly, I’m going to go forward. Even though I’m tired. Even though I’m scared. Even though my dragging heels are scuffing the floor. I’m going to be as gentle with myself as I can, but I’m going forward.

Wanna come?


The marathon begins

For the month of November, I’ve made a commitment to post every day. Yikes.

It was never my intention to blog daily. I envisioned myself a three-day a week blogger, if I was lucky. But November is National Blog Posting Month (didn’t you  know?), and my dear friend, Julie, suggested I take the NaBloPoMo challenge. So here I am.

I have two major fears: One, there just won’t be enough hours in the day. And two, I’m going to bore the crap out of you.

Half of my every day is spent with Aidan and it is categorically impossible to write while that’s happening. It’s also challenging to pee, shower, eat, drink and think, but since I have to manage those at least enough to subsist, all spare and stolen moments go there. So, writing has to fit into the time I don’t have him, which would be actually very doable if everything else wasn’t being fit into that time, too. I dare say some of these posts are going to be mighty short. But I will post something. Every. Day.

Which, of course, brings us to my second fear. Do I actually have something worth reading to say every day? Sometimes this seems extremely unlikely, other times at least possible. I suppose we’re going to find out, right?

Despite my fears, I am actually looking forward to this little experiment. I love writing. Simple. And I’m kind of curious what might emerge from a daily practice. In all the years I’ve written, I don’t think I’ve had a daily practice. I’m much more a flash-of-inspiration-gotta-write-NOW kind of person. So, this might be interesting. Of course, it could bore the crap out of me, too, but at least I’ll be in good company. And it’s only a month. I can survive a month, right?

You can help me by leaving comments. It’s really inspiring to know I’m not out here by myself, and I LOVE hearing your stories and reflections. They’re like food for my spirit. They nourish not only my creative process but my sense of connection and belonging. That goes a long way, in general, and I know it will help sustain this crazy effort to post everyday.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to comment everyday. It’s not National Blog Commenting Month. But next month…