I just returned from a quick trip to sunny California, a place I love but whose weather makes me deeply suspicious. I mean, how is it possible for it to be 77 degrees and sunny nearly every single day of the year? It feels unnatural, as though the earth is being shortchanged of the opportunity for the rest and restoration that winter and inclement weather allows, fundamental energies for rebirth, growth and opportunity~
Despite a deep distrust of anything that appears too perfect on the surface (because you just know there is darkness underneath), I love visiting there and enjoy making outdoor plans, never concerned weather will need to postpone. This particular trip was all about spending time with my friend Alli and we hiked every single day in the arid mountains of San Diego, walked for hours on the beach and overall had an amazing time. It was summer and fall’s last hurrah before I begin turning inward to enjoy the hibernation of winter.
I love the winter. I know that may sounds strange, but I do. While navigating the City through freezing rain and snow is a colossal hassle, I love the isolation and introspection that this time of year demands.
Winter’s weather so often forces us stay home, to be quiet and still, and it is from this place that self-awareness begins, allowing us to reflect on that which is our greatest wish, our greatest hope. Once clarity is gained, we can then sow the seeds to manifest it. It is only through winter’s dormancy that the beauty of spring is even possible.
Yet many of us are afraid to journey inward and really look at what lies at the heart of who we are, preferring the distractions of every day life for fear of what we will see and what that knowing will engender. Self-reflection and awareness invites us to then step up to life in a more profound and meaningful way and this can be frightening. Yet, once you see clearly what it is that you want, something in your spirit begins to move you to achieve it, and as unfamiliar as the territory may be, it is important for you to find the courage to travel on. If you ignore that cry, you do yourself a great disservice. There is tremendous energy behind your souls deepest wish and to suppress it is to cause yourself harm.
As an example, I know so many people who seek to find love in their lives yet never journey outside their comfort zones to get it. They complain that there are not enough good people in the world, or erroneously proclaim that all the good ones are married as a way to justify staying within the comfort of their isolation. It’s self-protection from the fear that that which they most want will remain elusive or turn out to be hurtful. I understand this. Long ago in my youthful quest for love I acted as though love needed to come to my door, knock on it and then enslave itself to me. I didn’t see that to love I needed to first stay open and then be active about it and participate in its manifestation. In order to have love, you have to recognize the desire for it and then set about creating it. And make no mistake, like all worthwhile endeavors, love is verb. It is an active state that requires you to engage. It is absolutely NOT a spectator sport. If you wait on the sidelines for love to come to you, or seek to be loved while not loving equally in return, it will leave you wholly unsatisfied. I know this now and while I’ve yet to meet the man I end my days with, I know now I will better be able to recognize him when he arrives because I know what love requires. And I highly recommend that if love is what you seek, that you dive in and go after it. There is absolutely nothing more invigorating.
I have spent many winters contemplating my souls desire in order to figure out what it needs to be satisfied in this life. Over the years it has revealed many things…..it’s wanted friendship and love, marriage and children, health and safety, excitement and adventure and mercifully, it was very clear that it didn’t want to be a pharmacist. It is this particular wish that makes me want to give my soul a high-five, because becoming a nutritionist has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My career has healed a fundamental wound in my life and I am so grateful to it.
With the exception of children (which I see now would not have fit into my life the way my life so perfectly fits me), I have achieved all of that, and I am deeply grateful. But there is one desire that I have held since childhood, since my earliest recollections of what I wanted in this life that has eluded me…
As a child, I didn’t play with dolls but instead I wrote little books. They were autobiographies really, with tales and pictures of my life thus far (they were obviously brief) and I enjoyed the hours of creativity and fantasy that these books allowed me. I knew as early as the age of eight that I wanted to be a writer but as I grew up and began to shed the invincibility and magic of youth, I deferred that dream and instead numbed myself within the grasp of “safety” and “security”, two of the most stifling words in the English vocabulary. In essence, I ignored the longing of my soul in order to stagnate within the confines of societal norms, turning away from what I wanted because that would require risk and risk meant uncertainty. But I paid a price for this in ways too numerous and unnecessary to mention. Take my word for it, not allowing myself the space to embrace the writer in my heart caused a lot of grief in my life.
As I tried to ignore this dream, it became more tenacious in its desire to manifest itself until I could no longer contain it and it was at that point that I became a nutritionist who writes. And that was satisfying for a really long time. But the time has come for me to be a writer. A writer who also happens to be a nutritionist.
A friend of mine recently reminded me that I made a public proclamation on this blog at the start of 2013 that I wanted it to be a year of adventure, and I certainly achieved that this past year. I traveled to Cambodia and Vietnam, hiked the spectacular trails of Mont Blanc, have made friends all over the world, and have opened myself up to life and love in ways heretofore unseen in my life. It’s been amazing! And I see now that in announcing my intention for adventure to all of you, I held myself accountable to manifesting that desire and brought it to life. So if you don’t mind, I am going to do it again…
Here it is, my big announcement, and I am terrified because to state it to all of you makes me responsible to it in a way that I have never demanded of myself before, but here goes: I am writing a book. It will be about nutrition and life, much like my blog posts are, and I am writing it this winter. In actuality, the first very shitty draft of the book has been written in pieces over the years, so I am happy to say that the bones of it are there, but now I need to do the hard work of polishing it and turning it into a cohesive narrative. As my friend Lee said to me recently when I was looking for his validation that I was a good enough writer to be successful at it, “writing is all about the work, not the talent.” And while it was not what I wanted to hear, he was absolutely right.
I have found an editor, Elise, who I met through my INC Magazine network (a more supportive, encouraging group of people do not exist. The INC family has made me feel incredibly welcome and I am grateful to them for it). We hit it off immediately and like so often happens in my life when I meet someone I am supposed to know, she was somehow familiar to me and I just know that we’re going to do great work together.
While I will continue to see clients, make videos and write blog posts, this winter is going to be about my book and hibernation. I am holing myself up in my apartment alone with my laptop and my spirit and I am going to write this book. Despite my highly social nature, I will resist the temptation to fill my calendar with plans with friends or last minute travel (well…, after my December reunion hike with my fellow Mont Blanc trekkers in Ambleside, England. It appears I am genetically incapable of saying “no” to any and all travel opportunities, but I will white knuckle my way through the rest of the winter ☺). Instead I am cocooning and planting the seeds of what I hope will be a spectacular emergence in spring. I will cook delicious and healthy food and sit in front of my fireplace. I will look out the windows of my amazing apartment and search for the moon. I will exercise and I will rest. And above all, I will write. And as much as I am terrified, I am EXCITED about where this will take me in my life. I have a strong sense that it will deliver opportunity and adventure beyond anything I could ever imagine for myself.
So there it is, this year’s goal. Finally, after nearly 40 years, I am giving myself the thing I have wanted most in this life. I am giving myself the gift of writing.
So I ask you, what is it that you most long for? Is it love or perhaps optimal health? Creativity or adventure? When you sit with yourself in quiet contemplation, what is whispered to you? Can you grasp that elusive thread? If you know, then I urge you to create a plan for yourself to bring it to life. Map out your course and set about making it real. If you do not yet know, take this winter as an opportunity to hang out with yourself and get to know what lies beneath the surface of your conscious mind, the façade of your existence. And then take the steps you need in order to make this life the spectacular opportunity for adventure and happiness that it is. To allow yourself anything less would be hurtful to your soul.
I would love to hear what you have planned for yourself, if you have a sense of what it is. If you know what you most want to achieve, I’d love to read your comment below. I want to be able to be a support and encouragement to you the way all of you are to me. I cannot tell you how incredibly special it has been to develop relationships with so many of my readers over the years. Your encouragement, enthusiasm, love and support continues to blow me away. I am amazed how my humble site has opened me up to so many amazing people around the world. Thank you for making me better and I am so glad to hear that I have helped you get healthier along the way.
I look forward to connecting with you in the coming months. I’ll be around, just laying low and will happily look forward to your words of encouragement and support. I will certainly be sharing my journey along the way, as I am sure you know.
Enjoy your holiday season and stay well!
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Recently, I read a wonderful book called The Everlasting Meal by Tamara Adler. Through beautiful prose, Tamara writes how once you slice into anything, even the humble carrot, there begins a cascade of culinary opportunities that can stretch out for days, fastening together an ongoing meal. It is an unconventional cookbook, with very few “traditional” recipes, but it is a great read.
In her book, Tamara suggests that every time you cut up your vegetables, rather than throwing away the stems, ends or leaves, freeze them. Once you have enough odd and ends, put them in a stock pot, add fresh water, and simmer them until they become a fragrant and nutritious broth, from which you can make your soups and stews of winter. This was first suggested to me by my friend, client and vegan food blogger, Lisa Angarame of Lisa’s: Project Vegan. After seeing one of my recipe videos where I complained about commercially made vegetable stock so often lacking in flavor, she suggested I make my own. So as I write this, I have a stock going on the stovetop and my warm apartment smells amazing. I am writing to all of you and I am looking out my home office window at the waning light of autumn…. There has not been a better day.
Vegetable Stock Recipe
I accumulated all kinds of vegetable scraps and herb stems that I am using for this broth and I encourage you to just save all the odds and ends in a container that will prevent freezer burn. Once you have accumulated enough to fill a large ziplock bag, put the contents in a pot, add enough water to cover plus a little more (you may have to add more water as it simmers and evaporates), some Himalayan salt and cracked pepper. Let it simmer for an hour or more, strain, and you will be left with the most delicious broth you can ever imagine. Use that to make any soup or stew that you fancy this winter and know that it was made totally from scratch… and with love~