“Change itself, if you go through it consciously, is the doorway into the next stage of growth — one that propels you into a deeper relationship with yourself and the world”.
As you know, the last year has brought about some major changes in my life. Whether you’ve been experiencing big changes or not, I am sure that you have been experiencing some sort of change in your life too. After all, things don’t tend to stay the same for very long. With that in mind, I thought I would share some lessons that I’ve been learning for the last little while on how to navigate change. I can truly say that these principles have helped me to face the unimaginable. These principles were taken from an article I read while in a waiting room one day (who knew I’d read a life changing piece while waiting for a yoga class!) called “7 yogic principles to help you navigate change”. Unfortunately, I don’t know which magazine the article was from and wasn’t able to find it online. Therefore, the principles are very much paraphrased based on the notes that I jotted down on a crumpled up receipt in my purse, and the descriptions and how they have applied to my life are just my own thoughts speckled with some quotes that resonated with me enough for me to jot them down (next time I’ll jot down the source too, silly me).
1. Know that change is inevitable: Even though this seems obvious, it was a big one for me. I think that on some level we all like to believe that the good things in life will never change. Somehow, when they do, we are shocked. This is how I felt when things started progressing really quickly with my mom’s illness. Even though I had more warning than most people do (she had an aggressive form of cancer), I still didn’t really see it coming. Embracing the idea that change is inevitable, and accepting that my life would always be in some sort of transition, somehow made it a little easier to accept what I was going through. Since that time, it has also made me value what is around me a little more – because I no longer expect things to stay the same forever.
2. View change as the invitation: I found it particularly interesting to learn that in more traditional societies every phase in life was regarded as an invitation into a new way of being.
What if our society viewed change in this way? How would our response to change differ?
We may not realise it while it’s happening, but changes tend to redefine us, whether this be in some subtle way or in a more dramatic way. I used to think that celebrating little milestones was silly, but I’ve come to learn that the little (and big) milestones in my life really have helped me to grow in different directions and I would not be who I am now without them.
So how do you go through change “consciously”? The article urges us to “consider the way in which the change will expand you, teach you about yourself, show you both your limits and your capacity to move beyond them. The more you can accept this as an invitation process, the easier it is to discover the gifts of change”.
3-Meditate (or pray) through uncertainty: I don’t meditate that much, but I cannot underestimate the power that prayer has had in my life. If you are not into prayer, I would at least recommend regular, quiet reflection. I jotted down this quote from the article “the real antidote to discomfort is to move into it rather than away from it”.
As I prepare to go through one of the biggest (maybe the biggest) change of my life, the transition from “maiden to mother” (as my pre-natal instructor put it), I plan on being fully present and conscious of this change. The last big change I went through was a very difficult one, and one that I wanted to ignore. Since this one is a happier one, it won’t be as hard for me to acknowledge it, but I still think that the above principles apply just as much to good changes as to bad ones — after all, both types of change stretch us and help us grow, and for that reason, they merit acknowledgement, attention and reflection — and maybe a little celebration!
It’s still January, so I think that means that it’s still ok for me to wish you a Happy New Year. Hope you all enjoyed the holidays and have found your way back to your routines.
I have made this recipe a few times over the last few months and J and I have really enjoyed it! It’s the perfect soup for cold January weather – and is also super healthy, so great for keeping new year’s resolutions! It came together one night before we were travelling when I was trying to figure out how to use to broccoli and bok choy that were left in my fridge. I found this soup recipe, and changed it to add some spices, some lentils and some other veggies. The result was awesome! I’ve been meaning to share it with you for a while. Here is the recipe:
*Also, you’re going to have to forgive my laziness with picture taking lately. I do intend to get back to my SLR soon!
B&B’s Curry-Ginger Vegetable Soup
- Sauté onion and three cloves of chopped garlic in grape seed oil for about ten minutes.
- Add the broccoli, bok choy, lentils and carrots and sauté for another 5 minutes.
- Add broth and curry, ginger, cumin and turmeric.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the broccoli and bok choy are tender.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Just before it is finished add one chopped clove of garlic.
- Puree and then add lemon juice.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a delicious stuffed butternut squash dish. I also promised to share the recipe. This meal is very easy and filling, but the prep is a little long, so I recommend making this when you are in the mood for a slow evening. It is perfect for a dinner party and is also meatless – so an excellent vegetarian dinner idea! Tip: To shorten the prep, make the quinoa ahead of time!
Stuffed butternut squash
- 1 medium butternut squash
- olive oil
- pinch dried oregano
- 1 cup quinoa (cooked) (this will take about 20 mins to cook – make sure to budget this into your time!)
- 1 small carrot , grated
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 box of cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped in half
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- Parmesan cheese for sprinkling at the end (optional)
Butternut squash and stuffing
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the butternut squash in half (you may need to microwave it for a minute or two in order to be able to do this) and scoop out the seeds.
2. Place both halves on the baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Cook for 40 minutes. Take out of the oven, add the chopped peppers and tomatoes to the tray and cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, mix the quinoa with the carrots, onions and dressing (see instructions below).
4. Take the tray out of the oven and transfer the peppers and tomatoes to the stuffing mix.
5. Stir together and spoon the filling into the butternut squash. You can also scoop out some of the squash and mix it in with the stuffing before adding the stuffing to the squahs. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.
6. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top (optional) and serve.
1. Pour the juice of one lemon into a cup.
2. Add enough olive oil that it is about equal to the amount of lemon juice.
3. Crush 2 garlic cloves and mix into the lemon/olive oil mix.
4. Add some salt to taste.
J and I recently marked our 2 year wedding anniversary. Actually, it was in May, but we ended up celebrating in September. If year one of marriage could be described by the word “adjustment”, I would say that year 2 would be described with the word “comfort”. It was during year two where I felt that J and I were actually a family unit as opposed to two people playing house and it was during year two that our year 1 newly formed routines started to feel like old habits and just our regular way of life.
It was also in year two that I learned the joys of managing my marriage the way I would manage a business. Although it sounds a bit silly, when you consider the fact that we live in a society in which over 50% of marriages end in divorce, taking pro-active and intentional measures towards managing one’s marriage doesn’t seem so silly after all. Think about it: we spend so much time in our work lives managing, projects, clients, and resources, and yet, we often expect our marriages to work naturally without a hitch.
So, with that in mind, here are some practices that J and I have instituted over the past couple of years:
1) Family meetings
When I got married, I quickly learned that as un-romantic as it sounds, a family is in many ways an entity that requires a lot of administration. Events need to be organized, gifts need to be bought, meals need to be planned, rsvps need to go out, finances need to be tracked, etc, etc. It all seems like so much more when there are two people involved than when it was just me. I can only imagine how much more this must be when kids are involved! In any case, after a while of feeling like I was chasing J with papers and questions, I decided to create what we now know as “Debs’ family meetings”. The initial idea was to have these once a week or once a month, but realistically, they only happen when one of us calls one. I take these meetings very seriously, creating a list of agenda items to be discussed (which is sent to all family members). I also take notes at the meetings, and then, I send out the meeting minutes afterwards. I realise this is a bit extreme, and that you may be laughing at me, but say what you will, these tactics keep us organized! These little meetings allow us to plan our vacations ahead of time, buy all of our gifts months before the holidays and generally keep life stresses at a minimum!
2) Year in Reviews
Another thing we (well, me, but J plays along) like to do is to do a “year in review” at the end of the year. This little review allows us to reflect on our year – our achievements (both personal and as a couple), highlights from the year (this could be anything from favorite dinners to trips to funny moments), as well as areas in our marriage where we feel we are doing well, and areas in which we feel that we could improve. It is also an opportunity for us to have open and honest communication, and allow for any conversations that should have been had, but for whatever reason, have not.
Although I do not do so as formally, I also view my close friendships as needing to be managed. I have learned over the years that investing in good friendships is so worth it, and that in order for friendships to grow, they need to be managed and maintained. I often encourage my close friends to communicate their expectations of our friendship and to allow me to communicate mine, to ensure that we are both on the same page, and that one of us isn’t disappointing the other.
How about you? Do you “manage” your relationships (if so, how?)? Or does this seem completely control freakish to you?
The other day, I had a teachable moment. J and I were preparing for a dinner party that we were hosting. I was making stuffed butternut squash (more on that in another post) and J was helping me by grating the carrots. When he got close to the end of the carrot, he accidentally slipped and sort of grated his finger. His finger bled and he was in pain. When he came back from cleaning it up, I told him not to worry about the rest, and that besides, it was just the stump of the carrot that was left anyway. J insisted on continuing and finishing what he started. He said something like “if you don’t finish what you’ve started when it’s not important, you won’t finish what you’ve started when it is important”.
He was totally right, and it’s so true. If it were me, I would have totally felt sorry for myself for my bleeding finger and I would have been content to eat the stump of the carrot and move on with my life. And maybe that would have been ok. But nonetheless, J got me thinking about my habits and my patterns, and about how the small and unimportant events are really what help shape our character for the more important events. I know that he is right, because I have seen J in some pretty difficult situations, and he invariably stays strong and does the right thing even if it is much harder to do. Though I think his strong character comes from much more than being able to grate a carrot after hurting himself, I do think there is so much value in that lesson.
I leave you with this quote on habits and character that comes from an American text on the use of character evidence in court cases:
“Character may be thought of as the sum of one’s habits though doubtless it is more than this. But unquestionably the uniformity of one’s response to habit is far greater than the consistency with which one’s conduct conforms to character or disposition. Even though character comes in only exceptionally as evidence of an act, surely any sensible man in investigating whether X did a particular act would be greatly helped in his inquiry by evidence as to whether he was in the habit of doing it.” (McCormick, 1954).
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! How was your week-end? J and I had a lovely couple of days relaxing here in Halifax. This was probably the first time ever that we spent a long week-end and home, so it was definitely different for us, but really nice. It felt like all of a sudden, time was nicely wrapped up and handed to me as a gift – it made me realise how much of our long week-ends we normally spend on the plane or in the car. So, with our nicely wrapped time, we did a hot yoga class together on Friday (J’s first! He survived and loved it!), and we also went shopping and out for dinner here on Saturday. On Sunday, we combined our efforts to make our first ever pumpkin pie and it turned out delicious!
I was going to just share the pictures with you, but then I thought it wouldn’t be very nice to do that without sharing the recipe, so here you go!
Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Pie
The original recipe said that this recipe would yield one 9-inch pie, but we were able to make 2.
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups fresh Pumpkin Puree Pumpkin Puree, or canned
3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg for glaze
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
Pie Dough (we used this recipe)
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree, and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk, and combine. Set aside.
Between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll the pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit pastry into a 9-inch glass pie plate; trim dough evenly along edge, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch to form a decorative edge. If the dough begins to soften, chill for 15 minutes.
Make the glaze: Beat the remaining egg, and combine with heavy cream. Brush glaze very lightly on edges of pie shell. Fill pie shell with pumpkin mixture. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.
Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2000
My non Middle-Eastern friends often ask me how to make typical Middle-Eastern dishes. While I am no expert at this, I am slowly picking up the art of Middle Eastern cooking, and I am always happy to share what I learn. This recipe come straight from my Mama. Growing up, we would often eat ‘Ads’ (pronounced ‘Atz’) during Coptic fasting season (in which we were to abstain from all animal products, and basically become vegan for a certain period of time). While I still associate ‘ads’ with fasting, I have come to make this soup often simply because it is healthy, tasty, filling and easy to make. Hope you enjoy as much as I do!
Mom’s Lentil Soup (adz):
1 cup red (which are really orange) lentils
3 cups water
1 small yellow onion (cut in quarters)
2 cloves of garlic
1 carrot cut into small pieces
A few sticks of celery cut into small pieces (optional)
Salt, pepper and cumin to taste
1/2 – 1 lemon
Combine all ingredients (except for the lemon) together in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes (or until carrots are soft).
Using a blender, or food processor, purée the mixture to desired consistency (you can add water if you find the soup to be too thick). Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste and enjoy.
I’m not gonna beat around the bush. It’s been a long time and I didn’t really do it on purpose. I hope you’re still there (leave a comment to tell me you are!). I have been away from my home and a little out of my element for the last four months, but I am happy to happy to be back home and back to B&B!
Today’s picture is one I shot from the car when J and I were driving back into Nova Scotia – you can see these windmills as soon as you cross the border from New Brunswick. Once we saw them, we knew we were almost home. More on that soon!