Some of you who know me are witnesses to my odyssey with food. Since March of this year, thanks to Madelaine and Pat at Forever Healthy, my allergies are being reversed one by one, and I’m able to eat foods I haven’t eaten since the early 90’s such as cheese, ice cream, and apples. Tonight I made tacos for supper. Wow! I don’t think I’d had a homemade taco since the 80’s. I bought some taco shells in spring when I started eating corn again; they sat in my cupboard waiting…until tonight. Until I could break: The Salsa Barrier. My tacos – roast chicken sautéed with Swiss chard topped with fresh chopped tomato, mild salsa, grated provolone cheese, and a dollop of plain yogurt – were amazing. The taco shell was crisp and delicate, the other flavours fresh and piquant, the chicken tender. Hallelujah! The up side to the years of a severely restricted diet of simple, bland food (and believe me I had to work hard at times to find an up side) is that flavours now taste spectacular. Even mild salsa. I can’t take a flavour for granted. My taste buds are sensitive, full of anticipation. The tacos of course fell apart in my hands as I ate them. Messy food. I even wondered if I should have put my hair in a ponytail! Delicious food. The taste of my fingers, part of it all. The satisfaction of it. The child-like fun of eating messy tasty food from my fingers. The taste of nourishment.
I used to have a “rule” that I wouldn’t get up before 6 am unless I had a flight to catch. I have 2 friends that get up at 5:30 to go to the gym or to go for a run. I admire them for their fortitude and determination, but I used to secretly suspect there was something almost masochistic about rising at dawn to exercise.
At the end of November, I accepted a temporary office job in the downtown area beginning at 8 am, and now I’m walking to work at sunrise. And loving it! Who would have thought?
The first couple of days, I got up at 6 am, but I discovered that I didn’t have enough time to write my morning pages. So, I took a deep breath and set my alarm for 5:45. Now, after I’ve done my other morning tasks, when I sit down at my desk, I can still see the moon in the Western sky. As I write, I watch the sky move from indigo to robin’s egg blue, or on a cloudy morning, to a slumberous grey. Throughout, the crows ramble in raucous strings across the skyline above the neighbour’s roof, rising early and heading out to their mysterious daily work.
I suspect it’s not only the time of day, but also the walk along the downtown streets that I love. This morning in particular was stunning. The wind was still, the lawns and trees were snow-covered, tipped in ice, and in the pre-dawn light, all colours were delicate. As I walked South, I admired the sky over the harbor, a blend of creamy pink and light blue, shot through with orange. A few blocks from the water, I saw a silver spoon half revealed, reaching up through the ice.
Gifts this season come from the most unexpected places.
If you’ve talked to me recently, I’ve probably told you about this great book I’ve read recently called The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine. I’m spending time each day working through the exercises and trying to figure out how to move forward with difficult decisions in my life, primarily those concerned with the area of work and “career”. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who feels in need of life guidance during a time of transition and is the type of person who has a million interests on the go at once. (Click here to go to Margaret Lobenstine’s web site and do the quiz to see if you fit the profile.) I very much admire her practical exercises. I have enthusiastically started other books and done the exercises up to the point where I turned a page and said to myself, “Oh. I can’t do that!” This book is definitely doable. She recommends that readers choose 4 or 5 focal points to focus on for a time, knowing that these can and will change in the future. I found limiting the focal points to only 4 incredibly difficult, but she has an exercise to help the reader zero in on the 5 most important values operating in his or her life right now. Again, that exercise was hard, but I stuck with it and did it more than once over 2 weeks. Now I have a set of 5 values that I know are important to me right now and I can check potential choices to see if they are working with or against those values. Later in the book she has a great exercise called “The Prism Test” which is a method of evaluating a potential focal point by looking at price, reality, integrity, specificity and measurability. She has a lot to say about time management for Renaissance Soul types, which is useful and unlike what I’ve read before, a section aimed at young people who are choosing universities, and wonderful suggestions about how to treat choices about potential jobs—a job should be viewed in terms of how it can advance the reader’s focal points in one or more areas. She also explains how “umbrella careers” can work for Renaissance Souls. The book has nice illustrative stories about her clients (she’s a life coach) and is clearly and enjoyably written. There are a few books that I consider “life-changers” for me, and I’m sensing that this one, rather than becoming a passing infatuation, is going to be on my life list.
I created a set of questions I call The Abundance List in the summer of 2005 when I was facing a devastating loss. I knew I would have to remind myself often of a day’s value otherwise my grief would blot out all. Answering the list nightly became a sustaining and enriching practice, and I still do it though my life is happier. I am sometimes given (or can’t help buying) gorgeous blank books, which I use for my lists.
The Abundance List
1. What is one thing that I’m grateful for today?
2. What is one thing that I saw today?
3. What is one thing that I did to say “yes” to myself today?
4. What is one thing that I learned today?
5. What is one thing that I did right today?
6. What is one thing I particularly liked that I saw or experienced today?
The answers to these questions can be big or small. For example, today I could say, “I’m grateful to be at home tonight. I saw the big tree in the backyard rising above the blue house. To say yes to myself, I cooked myself a good supper. I learned how to look up CD’s on the computer at work. One thing I did right was buy bananas at the grocery store. One thing I particularly enjoyed was waking up and seeing my lover’s face.”
Even on a miserable day, I can answer these questions and see a blossom in the rain.