“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In five weeks I turn 50 years old. This unfathomable fact is a sentiment familiar to anyone who’s ever stood at the precipice of this milestone birthday. How could 50 years have already passed, so fast and yet so slow?
I find myself mind-traveling to random moments of my past, tiny movie reels of memories. There’s the time my camp counselor Nicky took us on a canoe trip down the Delaware River for an overnight campout. I slept outside for the first time, one eye open to the “albino bear” rumored to live in the area, not realizing that the closest thing to an albino bear are polar bears that dwell far from the Pennsylvania woods. What I remember most though was the beautiful starlit sky and the crackling flame of the campfire while we laid in a huddle by the river.
In another flash of memory, I’m driving through the Arizona desert in the dead of night, the stars in the sky a kaleidoscope of light pointing me westward across the United States. My friend Allison and I arrive at the edge of the Grand Canyon at sunrise and naively decide to trek to the bottom, unprepared for the experience. It was a long night of wakefulness without a tent or a sleeping bag, the howls of wild animals in the dark distance.
I catch a glimpse of my wedding day, remembering how excited I was to be a bride and have this great party, ignoring my uncertainty about what I was committing to. And although it didn’t work out, I can’t call it a mistake. Our continued abiding friendship is proof that we’re in it until death parts us although not in the way we’d originally intended.
I think the reason the past feels both far and near, is because, well, it is so far away. I was 11 the first year I went to sleep away camp, drove cross-country when I was 22 and got married at 28. We’re talking years ago. But what makes it feel so close is that every one of those experiences informs some element of my current reality. Like sewing a quilt, the memories of my past are swatches stitched to the fabric of my life.
I doubt I’d have embraced trekking as a hobby had I not spent my summer days walking in the woods of Camp Lenape. There I learned the joys of wandering, the chatter of my mind subdued beneath the crunch of the gravel and the call of the birds.
I still think nothing of getting in a car and taking an 8 hour drive because what I learned on my cross-country jaunt is that the open road clears my head and allows me to think horizontally, seeing opportunities rather than obstacles. It also gives me a chance to play the soundtrack of my past, like the Grateful Dead, Led Zep and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, a play list largely influenced by my camp friends, many of whom are still in my life.
And I remain a sucker for love and marriage, believing in it more now than I did at 28. There is no better opportunity for growth than committing yourself to someone for life, even if it changes shape midway.
Because the past informs the future, mining my memories is helping me formulate my plans for what’s ahead. As I reach back for glimpses of who I was and the dreams I held, I can better understand what speaks to my heart. What does the part of me untainted by heartbreak, mortgage payments, credit card statements and unstable economies want? If I could customize my future, what would it look like?
I have some ideas and at 50 there’s little time to waste in the pursuit of a life that fulfills the very core of me. What I need though, is a clear plan and lots of courage in order to create it. And the only way to cultivate both is to do a little pre-Spring cleaning. A detox of body, mind and environment.
As I count down the days until the big 5-0, I’m boldly eliminating clutter as an offering to the mighty forces I am summoning to my aid. I’ve upped my intake of green juices, green tea and raw salads for greater clarity of mind and my apartment, a chaotic and whimsical museum of my past, will be jettisoned of its relics, making space for the future.
And guess what? I’m a little scared. I’m also totally excited about the possibilities. I feel the earth moving beneath my feet and know it’s time to take the next step.
But before I do, I’m going to sweeten my journey with a scone and tea…. and then I’ll get to work 🙂 Stay tuned…
I’d love to know how you handle life changing moments and difficult decisions… Do you sit in quiet contemplation? Drink a bottle of wine? Write? Talk to a friend? I’m curious to know. I’m sure you all have a coping skill and it’d be nice to hear yours.
Banana, Peanut Butter and Blueberry Scones
Growing up with Cuban parents meant that junk food was cheese not Cheetos, a proper breakfast included eggs rather cereal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were considered an odd American dessert rather than lunch. In fact, to this day I’ve never tasted a PB&J sandwich.
But I did taste peanut butter for the first time at camp and it was love at first bite! I’m still a sucker for it and combine it with apples or bananas for a healthy snack.
Once in a while though, when I need comfort food I’ll whip peanut butter into something and make myself a treat. These past couple of weeks, as I’ve contemplated my next steps I hit the kitchen and experimented with my old camp buddy and here’s what I came up with. It’s a variation on the Elvis Scones I made a couple of years ago but moister and with less date sugar. Now I have 12 opportunities to ponder what’s ahead while I nibble on a healthy scone and sip a cup of green tea… Enjoy!
- 3 cups almond flour
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
- ¼ cup date sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup vanilla, unsweetened almond milk
- 2 to 3 ripe bananas (2 if large, 3 if medium)
- ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 300’F
- Mix the first 5 (dry) ingredients together in a bowl. Using a fork, break up any chunks of flour so that it’s blended well.
- In a larger bowl, mix the remaining (wet) ingredients, using a potato masher to mash the bananas and mix well.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, blending well until you make a batter.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Using the one-third cup measuring cup, scoop out batter and place on parchment paper until batter is used up (I made 11 good-sized ones, and one smaller one).
- Place scones in middle rack of oven and back 45 to 55 minutes. I suggest you check it after 30 minutes and test with a toothpick to see how it’s going. My scones needed 55 minutes until they were done.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. Enjoy with a cup of tea J