A dream to remember

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Do you believe in dreams? By that I mean, do you ever wake and know that your dream meant something real? I’m a big believer in the power of dreams, and I had one last night that was so encouraging to me that I just wanted to share.

First, a little backstory. This last year has been one of questions for me. I’ve done a lot of self-examination, a lot of mental wandering…wondering about vocation vs. hobby, who I am vs. who I want to be, etc. I can visualize the kind of life and work and meaning I want to have and bring to the world, but I have such a hard time finding the way there, and so much impatience about how long it’s taking, that I often wonder if these visions of the future hold any weight, if they could ever come to pass.

Back to the dream. I dreamt that I was wearing my wedding dress, and my hair was down, and loose. I was in a large open field, under a tree. There were lots of people surrounding me, including some I admire and know only by their work. Everyone was smiling and connecting with each other. In front of me was hanging a rope, the kind you would use to swing into a lake. I knew that if I got on this rope and swung on it while wearing my wedding dress in front of all of these people, it would look really silly, but I also knew that it would mean I had come to my fullest potential and finally become the truest expression of myself. I was kind of nervous, but I was laughing and everyone around me was encouraging me, “Get on the rope! Do it! You have to!” Finally I just decided to give in to it, and I climbed on the rope and started swinging, in front of everyone. I was going higher and higher, my wedding dress and my hair were flying out behind me and I felt completely free, with the purest sense of joy. Everyone was clapping and just so happy. Joy was the only emotion anyone had. My field of vision kind of panned out and I saw myself, swinging, surrounded by all of these people, and I was totally free of any fears or insecurities, basking in complete fullness of self, joy, and purpose.

When I woke up, I just knew that this dream was meant as an encouragement. Despite all the fears and gnawing, daily insecurities I may have about my talents, my work, my passions, my life and relationships…if I just move forward and swing on that rope despite it, I will accomplish those dreams. And I have so much support. It was like the whole world was saying, “You have to lay down your fears and just start swinging…we’ve got you.”

 

(photo of my sister-friend, Jen, in La Casa del Árbol Baños, Ecuador)

Missing out

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As an introvert, talking to people I don’t know is not something I really enjoy doing and it’s usually not very high on my priority list. I tend to keep my head down when I walk, avoiding eye contact unless absolutely necessary. I can make small talk just fine for a while, and I sometimes even enjoy the kinds of spontaneous conversations that can come up, but the truth is, if I don’t have to, I’m most likely going to choose not to.

However, this sometimes conflicts with a deeply held belief of mine- to be kind, warm, and inviting. Often times we are not given enough time with people for them to “break through” the quieter introversion to see and feel the real warmth that lies underneath. Sometimes, only five minutes, sometimes two, are given to make a connection. And, as someone who has worked in customer service for almost a decade, I can attest to the real impact an amazing two minute conversation can make. I’ve always admired those who can make you feel seen, heard, and appreciated within such a short time span, and I’ve wanted to be that to those I meet as well. But I think I’ve let my own idea of what being introverted looks like get in the way.

What I’m trying to say is, in the past couple of weeks at my new job, I’ve been forced to meet an enormous amount of new people, and I have found that being able to make a quick, but genuine connection has been extraordinarily and surprisingly…wonderful. I haven’t let my nervousness about new people get in the way of showing them who I really am, and I’ve even felt emboldened to be the one to initiate contact! If you know me at all, you know I’ll avoid initiating just about everything, so this has been a huge (but positive) learning process for me. I’m learning that kindness, humility, gratefulness, and playfulness are really great connectors- and that making those kinds of connections are actually really, really wonderful, and not as difficult as I kept telling myself they would be. I’m learning that I can be true to both sides of myself: the one who enjoys quiet alone time, and the one who is kind and inviting. It looks a little different than how I imagined it to be, but I’m finding something great I never even knew I was missing out on.

(photo by Small Measure)

What’s your creative process?

typewriter


“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” -Chuck Close

“I’ve never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them, you will never write again.” -John Updike

For all you creatives out there…how do you stay motivated? I’ve read lots of writer’s routines, and Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird is a real staple of mine. But sometimes (most of the time) that just doesn’t cut it. The day to day of creative activity and thought comes much harder. There are an abundance of quotes regarding inspiration and hard work that I try to remind myself of (like the ones above), but I’m hoping to develop a manageable routine. Do any of you have a routine you stick to? Or are you more of a “as the wind moves me” type of person? I’d be interested in hearing how you keep the work and juices flowing.

P.S. I have found John Updike’s quote above to be incredibly true. Isn’t life outside of work always what we’d rather be doing?

(photo by my wonderfully talented friend, Josiah Norton)

A Steep Learning Curve

Amelia Earhart
I started a new job last week.

There’s nothing quite like a new job to remind oneself that there is always much, much more to be learned. It’s one thing to say in an interview, “I can do that” and think to yourself “I can probably figure that out” and then actually come into the job and realize that you haven’t figured it out yet…and you don’t quite know where to begin. Figuring it out can be very stressful.

But in the midst of the stress, I have this little feeling of pride. Here I am, figuring out how to do things on my own that before I never would have thought I could do without training! It’s amazing what you can learn when you have no other choice but to jump in and swim.

This week has shown me that I put so many limitations on myself. There is so much more I can do, so many more skills I can learn, than what I’ve thought about myself before. And that’s very liberating.

This week I am very grateful- for having this job, yes, but mostly for it teaching me so quickly that I am capable of more than I ever thought.

 

(photo of Amelia Earhart via NBC)

Sweet Potato-Apple Salad

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Last week was the first full week of September, which means fall in my book. I planned five or six meals for the week in the spirit of cooler weather. And then, the LA heat wave hit- hard. It’s been 105 for the last two days, and high 90s the rest of the time. Suddenly, our air conditioner-less apartment was feeling the opposite of fall, and all of those pumpkin soups and risottos were sounding like the last things I wanted to be making. The idea alone of being in the same room as the oven was enough to get me to start sweating. Luckily, there was one meal I planned that sounded even remotely enticing. It still required the use of the oven, and I sweated a lot for those 30 minutes, but after that first bite, it was all worth it.

dressing onions

Now, I am not one to rave about salads. I eat them because I know my body needs those nutrients, but it’s not a very common occurrence where I crave a salad. This one changed that. I could eat this every week. And it fit this odd weather perfectly- it was refreshing and light, but still full of all the fall treats that I was really wanting- pumpkin seeds, apples, maple, and roasted sweet potatoes. I don’t think I need to mention how amazing onions caramelizing in maple syrup smells. The combination of roasted sweet potatoes, creamy goat cheese, crunchy nuts and seeds, and crisp apple slices was simply perfect. I promise you, A/C or no, this one is worth making. I think you’ll find it just as amazing as I did.

Apples and Roast

finished salad

 

Sweet Potato-Apple Salad
adapted from The Kinfolk Table

for the salad
1 extra-large, or 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into rounds 1/4″ thick
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small, or 2/3 large yellow onion, sliced 1/4″ thick

for the dressing*
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp honey
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

also…
4 cups kale (I found black tuscan to hold up the best)
1 apple, cored and sliced 1/4″ inch (I used pink lady- the crispness contrasts wonderfully)
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
3-4 oz crumbled goat cheese

instructions
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375.

Toss the sweet potato slices with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, 2 Tbsp of the maple syrup, and the cinnamon on a foil-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, turning over halfway through the baking time.
Transfer the sheet to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and remaining 1 Tbsp of maple syrup and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, until caramelized.

Make the dressing: whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 tsp of honey together in a small bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and additional honey to taste.

Toss the greens, apple slices, sweet potatoes, onions, nuts, seeds, and cheese together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

*note: if you are vegan and need to skip the goat cheese, I would double the dressing

The Faces of Truth

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“Three things cannot be long hidden- the sun, the moon, and the truth.” -Buddha
“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” -Mahatma Ghandi
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” -Jesus (John 8:32)
My husband and I had a long, complicated, but ultimately enlightening conversation last week about truth and how it relates to faith and religion(s), and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. What is truth? Is truth the same for everyone? Are there universal truths? What about when the truth is coming from a sacred text- does one have to believe in the god of that text in order to accept the truths found within it? These were just some of the questions we were throwing around. This is the conclusion I’ve come to.

Raised in a conservative, evangelical home, I was taught that all truth came from one place- the Bible. Everything else should be understood in light of what the Bible has to say, taking great care and discernment about things that aren’t from the Bible. I think I still subscribe to this belief, but in a more open-handed way. Here’s what I mean: I was taught that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). I still believe this to be true. But there’s another way that I read this. Jesus isn’t just the truth, as in only things spoken by him are true, but rather Jesus is Truth. This necessitates that anything that is true is therefore of God, because God is Truth. Even if the words of truth being spoken are not coming from a Christian, or are from some other sacred text, or even from a person who usually shares negativity instead of truth.

I have to be able to see and accept truth, wherever it comes from. I’ve heard many times growing up to be careful about listening to people who are not Christian. But I have to say this- I think it’s wise to take the truths you know from the Bible and see if the statements you’re hearing reflect that, but I think it’s unwise to cast aside something that could bring life and meaning simply because it’s not from a Christian source. I sense this fear about what might happen if we get too far away from the words of the Bible- we tend to grasp on to the “wise as serpents part,” but kind of forget about the “gentle as doves” part.

I want to be the kind of person who is open-hearted enough to see truth for what it is, no matter where or who it comes from. Part of the balance of life I’m seeking is to be more open-hearted and open-minded to people and beliefs different from mine, and to be able to be guided by Truth in and of itself, wherever I may find that. (This reflects back to when I said I wanted to be confident, but open.)

Ultimately, I believe that seeking out truth is one of the surest ways to find God.
Thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a measure you use to determine if something is true? I’d love to hear- from a variety of perspectives and backgrounds!

The New Essential

Essential Oils

In the last couple months, I’ve grown a real interest in finding more holistic, natural remedies for everyday ailments. There’s this whole world around us filled with plants, flowers, and herbs that have been used medicinally for centuries, and I think it’s absolutely fascinating. I’m amazed that people figured out how to utilize these gifts, and I’m awed that the earth provides for us in that way.

One of the ways we can utilize these plants’ healing properties is through essential oils. Essential oils are made by steam-distilling the plants to release their natural compounds. They can be distilled multiple times, but the strength of their properties weakens each time, so for the best effect, it’s best to use a first distillation oil (Young Living is a great example of a company that exclusively uses first distillations for their oils).

I’ve only begun to delve into this enormous world of herbal remedies and essential oils, but here are a few common ailments that essential oils can help relieve:

  • Headaches
  • Sore muscles
  • Allergies
  • Minor cuts, burns, and scrapes
  • Insomnia
  • Sunburn
  • Blisters
  • Insect bites
  • Skin, hair, and nail health
  • Nausea and digestive issues
  • Lack of concentration
  • Emotional fatigue
  • Strep throat
  • Household germs
  • Arthritis

There are SO many things to learn, and most oils can be used for well over a dozen different things. When combined, the possibilities really multiply. I’ll give you just a few examples of how I’ve noticed them working in my own life:
I have restless leg syndrome, and it’s often very hard for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. I take one of Young Living’s blends, Peace & Calming, and rub it right above the hip on my lower back, and diffuse it as well and I fall asleep so quickly and sleep more deeply than usual. This happens every single time I use this oil. Michael requests that I diffuse this one at night all the time, because it helps him sleep so well, too!

When I have a headache or neck tension from sitting in an office chair all day, I rub a mix of peppermint and lavender on my temples and on the back of my neck. Within 5-10 minutes, my headache is gone.

My hay fever leaves me super sneezy and itchy all over my face and eyes. I rub a mix of lemon, lavender, and peppermint behind my ears and on my wrists and there is a noticeable diminishment in my symptoms.

I occasionally get a small hive/allergic reaction to my wedding ring. Previously, I would have to go at least a week without wearing my ring, and I’d spend the whole time trying not to itch it while I watched it only get worse, despite the cortisone cream I religiously applied. The last time this hive showed up, I rubbed one drop of lavender on the hive. By the end of the day, the spot was completely gone.
All of this to say, essential oils really work! I’ve even begun using them as part of my beauty routine, and I’ve made my own all-purpose cleaner with them as well. I feel good about using them because I know exactly what they are, and they have zero synthetics or additives.* I’ll be posting about different oils as the weeks go on, highlighting a new one and its benefits each time. If you’re interested in learning more in the meantime, check out my Pinterest board, where I post lots of “recipes,” facts, and information. There’s a lot to learn, and I’m excited to see the difference oils will continue to make in my health and happiness.

*Note: this is not true of all essential oils. Unfortunately, a large majority of oils have synthetics added. Do your research! If there isn’t mention that their oils do not contain synthetics, then they probably do! I use Young Living because they are one of the very few who absolutely never will add synthetics to their oils.