Jazzed Dried Fruit

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Two reasons for this post title:

1) Some people throughout my life have called me Jazz as a nickname

2) The real reason is that “dried pears and plums in white chocolate, crushed pistachios, and granola” was simply way too long.

The feedback I got from the dried peaches in dark chocolate and slivered almonds was terrific, so I wanted to expand on that concept. Dried fruit dipped in various melted chocolates and toppings is a very fast and delicious dessert. It’s perfect for the summer since no oven is involved. This is very helpful if you live in an apartment. Who wants to add to sweltering heat in an apartment, right? These treats freeze and set quickly and can remain in the fridge for up to two weeks. Just layer them in between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container. I had one of the peaches every night for desert; I must have something sweet at the end of dinner. This is truly a guilt free treat. See how easy it is to do something delicious for yourself?

You’ll need:

Dried pears, dried plums, or two other kinds of your favorite dried fruit

A cup of your favorite granola

A cup and a half of shelled pistachios coarsely crushed

A bag of white chocolate chips melted in the microwave (around a minute, stir until smooth).

Directions:

Set up each component like a conveyer belt, so you can dip quickly and efficiently. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with nonstick spray, then pressing a piece of wax paper down flatly to cover the surface. Dip each pear in the white chocolate then the crushed nuts and place on the baking sheet. Do the same with the plums but using the granola this time. Freeze until it sets then keep in the fridge the way I mentioned above. Along with the peach recipe you now have a lovely assortment that really looks so pretty and professional. No real cooking required! This is a great recipe for kids who are interested in getting into the kitchen. Almost no steps but major results.

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In Da Club

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Ok, third and final bar mitzvah look. I chose this five minutes before I left the house, and ran to meet the bus taking my son’s friends to the kids’ party at Marquee in New York. Much to his chagrin I wanted to ride the bus with the kids to ensure no one was left behind. Of course there were bus counselors but I felt I needed to be in mom mode. This entire weekend was so special. I was on such a high for 72 hours. After my son kicked butt reading his Torah portion, and I successfully delivered my speech off the cuff, I was ready to just relax and party. I hadn’t danced my butt off in awhile so it felt so good. I wanted to be cool but super comfortable. These shiny red liquid leggings from Norma Kamali never disappoint. I had just bought this rad new Scotch and Soda silk blazer the week before. The reds matched perfectly. The jacket gave me some breathing room over a navy lace bralette. My white Celine flat loafers with the subtle hardware nailed the entire look home. Seriously, go me for wearing flats to my own event. This ensemble really popped against the black backdrop of the nightclub. That wasn’t my intention but since most people came in black it was indeed nice to stand out as the hostess. It was a killer night. The music was great, the dancers were beyond talented and energetic, and every person there of any age had a blast. Every guest participated with a full heart the whole weekend. And that is what makes a milestone event beautiful. It’s true; you’re never fully dressed without a smile. And my son was beaming and soaking up his special moment, which he so deserved.

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Retreat Part 2: Dai En

Hey there. So if you’ve read the first post in which I began to describe my silent retreat, you may recall the mention of Sensei Dai En Friedman. She was the teacher who transmitted the Japanese White Plum Buddhist lineage to the other teachers, Senseis Koshin and Chodo (both super cool, funny guys). Until the last of the seven days I thought her name was Diane. It’s Dorothy, and she was a dancer for Martha Graham many versions ago. After suffering a major back injury that essentially stripped her of her dancer’s identity and ability, she ultimately found her true essence in Buddhism. We can only find ourselves after wandering around lost for awhile. Dai En also is one of the senseis who runs the well known Ocean Zendo in East Hampton. Side note: I have never been to the Hampton’s nor have I ever had any interest, now I do. While the other retreat leaders wore black robes, hers were a regal bright purple. She has a crown of soft white hair. I was immediately drawn to her, partially because I was fascinated that she was a woman, a Jewish woman at that, and because she was the transmitter of all of this incredible information and tradition. She’s a quietly powerful figure, who walked with grace, strength, and humility. Midway through the retreat, during morning kinhin (walking meditation) at around 6:30 am a voice told me “you’re going to meet your guru today”. It’s important that I tell you where in my head I heard this. When it’s to the right and I feel it outside my head, like in the space above my shoulder, it’s not real, most likely coming from my ego/shadow self/ imagination/neurotic reactivity. When it’s at the base of my skull a couple inches above my neck then it’s truth. I have never not been able to tell the difference. What we feel in our gut is also heard elsewhere. This is the work of the third eye and ajana chakra. It is a marvel when this type of communication takes place. You just know. Ok, so I get this message. I smiled to myself and said, ”ok let’s see”. I wasn’t skeptical, just curious but with no expectations. I had not met Dai En yet. Full disclosure; I was knee deep in the Ram Dass/Maharaji archives from the late 60’s and early 70’s. So I was entrenched in the whole notion of a guru. I was aware that subliminal messaging could have been a bit at play.


The word “guru” means “one who dispels the darkness”. It’s someone who sheds light. We have many gurus all the time. It doesn’t have to mean one magical figure who can read your mind. The biggest jerk you know is unwittingly your guru if you’re a student of consciousness. We can learn from anyone and everything. Nature is a guru in that it teaches stillness, phases, patience, change, harshness, and wonder. Each evening we had a voluntary dokusan (five minute meeting) with one of the teachers. I loved these because I finally got to speak, it was a break from sitting and meditating, and I loved personally connecting to the peeps in charge. We never knew which teacher our section of the room was assigned to. That evening it was my section’s chance to meet with Dai En. I was excited. They took us out five people at a time, and as I was waiting my turn, my whole body started to shake. I was reacting to something. My eyes welled up with tears and I was overcome with emotion. I sat in that line every day, but only had that reaction then. When I bowed and entered her room it was hard to speak without crying. I was clearly connecting to her energy. I had been having much difficulty with a certain important person in my life, and right after I introduced myself she said, “so what’s going on with (this person)?” I asked how she knew that, and she looked me straight on the eyes and said she just knew. Bam, that was the trifecta for me. Around 6 am I was told I’d meet my guru and at around 6 pm I had. I knew that incident could just have been isolated. Perhaps she was there to teach me in that moment, and not necessarily that I was going to follow her around forever. Each moment contains something else we need. But there was no denying her insight into me, and how strongly I reacted to her presence. I reacted that way only one other time, to a very spiritual person who I’ve known for three years. Same thing; I was full of fireworks then burst into tears at eye contact, no words had been said yet and we’d never met. She’s very much in my life since that day and has given me an unshakable bedrock of strength and guidance. Her impact on me has been life altering. As was this encounter. I told her that I was afraid of this person. She said “you’re afraid of yourself”. I took it and though I did not know why that would be, I really accepted not knowing. It would come when I was ready. There are no obvious reasons why I’d fear myself. I’m not self destructive, I have learned how to be good to myself, I have good habits and discipline, and I generally have my act together. So I was curious but didn’t question my need to explore that. I do know that every single way we relate to others is a direct correlation to how we relate to ourselves. Needless to say those five minutes were not nearly enough for me, but as her attendant was literally but lovingly dragging me out, I said ,”I can’t believe how many people have bunions!”, and boom, the connection was sealed with laughter. Making these teachers laugh was kind of a mission. It’s like trying to impress Lorne Michaels at an SNL interview. I had five minutes to gain massive insight into myself and crack a joke that would leave a lasting impression. I must say I think I accomplished this each time. At next day’s dokusan with Sensei Shinzan who joined us from Mexico, I brought this fear thing up. I asked him why one would potentially be afraid of themselves. He asked me a few questions and none of my answers were satisfactory to him. He cut me off and redirected me several times. I am used to charming my way in and out of most situations, and someone saying nope, nope, nope was a frustrating first. I was really trying to delve and I was annoyed that after all this self exploration I was coming up short. But then Shinzan hit on something he and I had discussed a couple days prior, and I struck emotional oil. I can’t write about it here, but it went back to early on in my childhood, where so many things begin. Basically I learned very early on not to trust myself. We fear what we don’t trust, and there is nothing that can really mask that. I had become afraid of this person because I was mirroring those feelings of a lack of trust. This realization was fast; then the work of dealing with it began. This is why people go on these silent retreats. To find those silos of pain that we ignore, forget about, or think we are over. The next couple days I saw tons of black smoke pouring out of my root chakra, the one that houses our sense of safety and security. It’s the one for me that’s usually unbalanced. It’s at the bottom of our stomach, and I’ve had ulcerative colitis since I’m 11. The smoke was like the bad spirits that came to take Patrick Swayze in Ghost, or the death eaters in Harry Potter. I’m telling you the Harry Potter references were everywhere. Koshin was like Dumbledore, Chodo is huge and reminded me of Hagrid, and Dai En was duh Mrs Mcgonagall. Following these discoveries, I’d often merge with Dai En in my meditation seat. That never happened to me before. I just kept absorbing her and it never felt forced. When I met her and told her about the guru message and how I can tell the different voices from each other, she nodded knowingly and said it’s great that I can discern. I told her about the merging and she said ,”I completely understand that”. I knew she would. I also told her about two visions I kept having of me and her. One in which we were standing in front of a wall covered in layers of old wallpaper. Each layer had writing on it, with words containing various roles or narratives in my life. I was peeling away each old layer, crumpling it up, and discarding it. At first I was aggressively ripping it down, but because she knows me, she told me to slow down and not rush (damn, this woman is on point). Behind each layer that we knew I no longer needed was a giant, quivering, white heart. It had a milky, gelatinous quality. When I could see it she told me to climb in and I did, lying down peacefully in a fetal position. She didn’t join me in there but she never left me. I have this vision to this day, and will invoke it when I get trapped in the narratives. The second scenario was her and I in an empty movie theater. We sat front row, watching a scene of me gasping and drowning in a dark, choppy ocean. Overcast skies. Then she said ok next, and I came up for air and settled comfortably with my head above water. Again she asked for the next scene, in which I’m happily floating and doing the backstroke. I’m smiling and moving at my own, unhurried pace. No one is bothering me or holding me down anymore. When I told her both of these scenarios she of course got it instantly. This is why we need these teachers and spiritual masters. They are here to guide us home. None of this is made up bullshit. The black smoke kept coming out and lessened in volume. More on that in the next post. When she and I continued to discuss this fear, the whole purpose of my being there on this certain retreat at this time began to unfold. To finally deal with this body of fear at the most primal level. I’ve been working on it deeply for about a year but this was the deepest I’ve ever gone. I kind of followed her around like a creepy yet sweet puppy the rest of the time. I lit up when I saw her and I beamed when she told me what a sweetheart I am. I asked her if we could continue our relationship outside of this week, and that I’d understand if she’d decline. I said I bet people ask you that all the time. She replied that they don’t and that she’d be happy to. On the last day I coincidentally wound up in the ladies room a few times with her. I told her I’d understand if she was considering filing a restraining order, and she cracked up. Mission accomplished, Lady Dai. Mission accomplished. I love you so much. But you already knew that.


Tropical Caprese Salad 🍉

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Since I’m not a cheese fan, I’m not the one who ever would order the caprese salad. However, I have always appreciated the beautiful simplicity of seeing a few perfect ingredients stacked and served. If the two or three ingredients are of the highest, freshest quality, then it’s culinary proof that less is more. A classic caprese consists of sliced tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. I wanted to infuse some other flavors, colors, and textures while preserving the feel of this layered classic. Watermelon in a summer salad is always a good move. Bright, crisp, pretty, and refreshing. I loved the idea of building on the theme by using sliced watermelon radishes. Cute right? Using mesclun lettuce tied in the hints of deep pink. Sliced fresh mozzarella that I bought pre sliced at my local gourmet market (I wasn’t wrestling with cheese), and fresh whole basil and mint leaves plucked from my garden. I added the mint for another hit of summer freshness. I made this salad composed on top of the greens to honor each of the components since they’re all so gorgeous, as well as to respect the essence of a caprese. I often serve salads on a curved platter instead of a bowl so I can layer it beautifully like this. Honestly this took five minutes and was delicious and so visually appealing. Just drizzle with your favorite quality balsamic. Since balsamic bleeds, you can always have your guests take and then have a vinegar dispenser on hand so they can do as much or as little drizzling as preferred.

Ingredients:

Four cups of mesclun greens

Two to three cups of cubes of fresh watermelon (save time and mess by buying precut only if it’s super fresh)

Presliced watermelon radishes (my produce store does this for me but if yours doesn’t then buy four and peel and slice)

At least a dozen slices of fresh mozzarella cheese

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Around 20 each fresh whole basil and mint leaves

Place the greens on the bottom and distribute evenly across the platter. Make rows of alternating watermelon, cheese, and radishes. I stuck whole basil leaves in between each slice of mozzarella, and whole mint leaves in between each slice of radish. That beautiful orchid came with my lettuce and was the perfect accessory for a tropical feel; use a well placed summery flower if you can find one as a pretty focal point. Serve then drizzle with good quality balsamic vinegar. Tip; keep all ingredients cold in fridge until it’s time to platter and serve. This salad needs to be cool and crisp; we are going for beachy/poolside vibes .


Sound of Silence

How does one put the experience of a weeklong silent retreat into words? That’s an obvious opener, I know, but it’s true; this week of my life is almost too sacred to describe. I had been wanting to try a silent retreat for quite some time now. Wanting to ride the waves of going deeper within, wanting to not need to speak so as to discover communication in other forms, wanting to prove the yenta chatterbox in me could do it (others had doubts, I did not), wanting to sit and marinate amongst all my inner turbulence which is unavoidable on the quest for bursts of calm. Forcing the insufferable stream of loudness that tackles our mental state, often when we are at our least suspecting, to just shut up already. I wanted to be in a situation in which I did not drag cumbersome, destructive themes that I’ve worked so hard to discard. I wanted to try something new and unfamiliar, a fresh theme which has indeed proven itself wonderful and is therefore welcome to stick around. I just wanted to go and I didn’t overthink my reasons until just now. I can be impulsive but I can also be deeply intuitive. I have learned to discern, and this was clearly an intuition. I did no research, as is often my way. When it feels right I don’t question. There are many places near me that offer silent retreats, but I landed in this particular gin joint after googling Tibetan physicians in New York, for someone very close to me who is ill. The stream of the internet floated me to the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. They were offering a weeklong silent retreat in Garrison, New York at an ancient monastery now known as The Garrison Institute. The retreat was called Sesshin. At first I thought this was a funky way to spell “session”, kind of like how the Kardashians spell everything with a K. I later learned that “Sesshin” means “touching your heart”, which made a lot more sense. Click, register, done. This decision was mostly based on the fact that the dates seemed to work and it was close by.

I briefly glanced at the teachers running the retreat just to give me some kind of visual. I noticed they all bore the title Sensei and that the head Sensei was a woman who looked about 70. I was intrigued by that alone. Her last name was Friedman; instant homie. Fun fact: “Friedman” is a common Jewish surname that means “free man” in Yiddish. I choose to apply symbolism here. Having been consumed with DJing, my son’s bar mitzvah, then getting my kids packed and ready for camp, I had no time (nor need) to further look into this. My honest plan was to just flow with whatever. I cannot explain how liberating it is to have achieved such a new level of adaptability. I was never a terrible control freak, but I distinctly remember a few years where I was internally unhappy (I was not aware of this), and so the need to micromanage my surroundings was a textbook means of illusionary safety. God, the things we must control when we are internally all over the place. It’s a cliche for a reason. Our ability to adapt is housed in the second chakra and relates to the element of water. As I keep digging through my inner reservoirs, be they of love or fear, my ability to adapt keeps expanding. It’s lovely and freeing. It just feels very nice to trust yourself and the Universe, and to know you are going where you need to be and that you will be just fine, even if you don’t like it. The only question we need to ask is really whether or not we trust in all the factors and lessons that each individual moment contains. If we do, all other details seem to evaporate. They don’t contain nearly as much importance as we have been trained to believe. If we let details outside ourselves control our lives then we’re screwed.

It was interesting to me how various groups of friends reacted to this trip of mine. My DJ friends were intrigued but thought it was cool (creatives are open minded), my spiritual community peeps were so excited and knew I’d love it since they do this all the time, and my Jewish friends were baffled and horrified. Was I going with someone?? Can you really not talk for a WHOLE WEEK?? What if you hate it, will you leave?? I’ve never heard of this, it’s just too crazy. I could never! Can you text?? What is the food/room/crowd going to be like?? I just laughingly rolled with these reactions as well, having expected them. My close friends didn’t necessarily understand the appeal but unwaveringly support me in all I do. They were more of the “not for me but go for it” ilk, which is one of the bedrocks of true friendship. Ok, so I get there on a Friday afternoon, committed to walking in there unattached to roles. That’s one of the beautiful parts of a silent retreat with a group of strangers; the details and facts of our lives are unimportant. Married, divorced, kids, gay, brilliant, fat, old, young, attractive, poor. All irrelevant. It’s incredible how much easier it can be to connect to a fellow human being without all of that being in the way. Connection and the human desire and need to do so is simple. It’s we who complicate that. The goal of the retreat, in addition to inner self work, was that we were 65 people who moved as one being. We all had the same schedule that began at wake up with a gong at 5:30. We had to walk, sit, eat, chant, bow, meditate, and do work duty as a unified force. The symbolism of all of this was very moving. No one seemed to have a problem with it. It was profoundly emotional to drop so quickly into the concept that all beings are One. We are whole as individuals, yet also complete as a single entity. One is the number that gives rise to all others. It is the most powerful numeral though it’s just the first. Each one of us mattered, yet we were the sum and not the parts. I was brought to tears multiple times throughout the day when I thought about this. I still am.

Once during work time when a group of us was assigned to dust and sweep, a woman asked for permission to speak. She said she felt as if her heart would burst, just sweeping in perfect harmony with someone she never met. She articulated this so beautifully, and the rest of us were so moved. She even described her sweeping partner as her sister. They didn’t even know each other’s names. It was just a lovely sentiment that described what this experience is meant to feel like. Even Daishi (Deb Schwartz, naturally), our strict but loving camp counselor for the week, was clearly so touched by this brief break in silence. When I arrived at Garrison, which looks exactly like Hogwarts, I barreled in there like the typical well meaning “vilde chaya” that I can often be. That Yiddish term means “wild animal” and is often derogatory. Here I mean it lovingly. I’m pretty self aware. My energy comes on strong, my smile stronger, and I flew in to this mission with gusto. As soon as I saw the dozen or so people in flowing black Japanese robes I seriously asked if there was a gift shop where I could purchase one. The shaved head piece was less appealing to me, but some of those ladies can really pull off a Mohawk🏻. There was not a gift shop and as I later learned; those robes must be earned. “Earned” for an entitled Jewish girl is a concept that’s initially a mindfuck, but as I said before I AM NOW ADAPTABLE. The schedule we were given was in Japanese and very detailed. We were still allowed to talk during registration, so I looked at this other girl and we were both like um...But we laughed knowing we, like so many others, were in this together and would figure it out. That was one of the cool parts of this, that both newbies and seasoned practitioners were in the same boat. We’d row as a team. There was no elitist ranking or hierarchy that was intimidating. The veterans were wonderful at guiding us newcomers, and the love and support was palpable. What blew my mind was how many older people had come, particularly from other parts of the country. Someone even flew in from Hawaii! To be 75 years old and still be on a path for betterment and introspection was honestly just so awe inspiring. We can alter and deepen our trajectory at any point. It was so impactful, witnessing folks of any age refusing to resign to the social and cultural models of what their lives should look like. Our hearts beat until the end of these lives. There is opportunity for expansion in every moment. Who decided that one’s goal at that stage in life should be an annual cruise with the family, while biding time until bodies get cancer or just fall apart? Why should we get quieter and more invisible the older we get, while the rarer outspoken octogenarian is praised for still maintaining kooky eccentricity? Why does anything have to be anything? The physical conditions on this retreat were not the easiest for an older person. There was no air conditioning and it was blazing hot. There were no elevators. We were expected to be on time for everything. We were on the floors cleaning. The bathrooms were communal. I had such respect and appreciation for anyone who shoved all that aside in order to soul search. There were also several married couples that were there together. That was so wonderful and foreign to me; for a couple to be so united in this kind of work. The first morning during meditation at 6 am, an elderly gentleman had a minor heart attack. I noticed him at check in because he walked with a cane, wore denim overalls, and looked exactly liked the actor Wilford Brimley. He sat across from me in the zendo, the huge meditation room that used to be the cathedral of the monastery. Around 6:20 I noticed he fell asleep and began to snore, head rolled back. The women in black robes who sat in the back and played the sound bowls and made the announcements went over to gently nudge him awake. When he didn’t respond they checked his pulse. He was turning really pale and it was clear something was wrong. He was carefully laid down in the back. The rest of us all knew what was going on but kept absolutely silent. It was scary and uncomfortable, as life is when we don’t know what’s going on. My heart was pounding and there was a woman across from me that was crying. I said to myself while counting my mala beads, “he’s in good hands. Just keep your eye on yourself and keep going. It’s ok to be scared, one way or another it will be ok”. Sometimes the best way we can help is to stay calm and quiet. To just listen and be present. To quietly support and send energy with silent focus. I was aware of the symbolism of all of this at the time. The fact that this happened day one was clearly a message out group needed to receive. The human instinct to protect ourselves includes needing to understand everything in our surroundings. It’s survival mode and it makes sense. But then there’s trusting in a higher power, which loosens that grasp. The need to know, predict, and comprehend begins to dissipate. Trust doesn’t have to be easy, that’s why it’s trust. Watching this man go through this was extremely hard; what if he was dying right in front of us?? But that’s life. It is full of scary situations and we are meant to stay centered and focused, all the while making room for our discomfort. An ambulance came to take him away. A few hours later we were informed that he has a history of heart problems (all the more reason he was such an inspiration for coming in the first place) and that he’s ok and will be returning. He did return and seemed completely fine through the remainder of the retreat, hobbling on his cane and all.

What a Buddha this man was. He taught us a beautiful lesson that morning, which set the tone for the rest of the week. Had that happened in a synagogue it would have been utter chaos. Everyone would have been freaking out, loudly and dramatically. That’s not helpful. It only would have embarrassed the person in the middle of the ordeal, added unnecessary drama, frightened any children present, and created a vortex of terror. Our silence and focused allowed this man to be privately tended to with dignity. Telling ourselves “it’s ok, you’re safe” is an essential part of our inner dialogue. Which brings me to “kinhin”; walking meditation. I often write about how it’s vital for me to connect to the earth with bare feet. That grounding and connection to the earth soothes me tremendously. Sand, grass, tile, whatever. Every morning in my sunrise vinyasa class we do 54 full prostration bows. On Sunday’s we do 108. It’s such a special practice that we regulars love. Life is all flow. We go up, we go down, we are grounded, then shaken, we rise, and then we fall. Constantly. But feet for me, this year, have become increasingly important teachers. The feet contain one of the minor chakras, the plantar chakra. We are built to connect via them. I discovered this year that I have felt I’ve had to run my whole life, as a result of being hunted and chased by certain central figures. You run when you feel unsafe. This includes shutting down emotionally and layering our hearts with armor. Running away isn’t just physical. This is the first time in my life where I’m learning to internalize that I’m actually safe. I need to remind myself of this constantly, as residual fear based conditioning arises. It takes time to undo those psychological knots, and patience with ourselves is a loving practice. Love, including self love, is slow and steady. It’s obtained step by step. It’s not necessarily some cosmic boom, as in fairy tales. Authenticity and depth requires time. The layers needed to forge a relationship with ourselves takes a lot of time. Forgiveness, respect, compassion, kindness, humor, introspective observation, sweetness, and care can’t possibly arise suddenly. That’s why layers of love with another takes time too. Infatuation is immediate but it fades because it’s ego based. Getting to know myself better has forced me to slow down, listen, and look at the difference between illusion and truth. And it’s not true anymore that I’m being hunted because I have successfully outrun all of those people. I loved kinhin because I had to pay attention to each step, and each one was a beautiful reminder that the whole pace of my life has changed, on both the inner and outer spectrums. I once read that to watch Thich Nhat Hanh walk is to have a life altering experience. To see how possible it is to be so utterly mindful and appreciative of each step, breath, and heartbeat. How each movement matters. Our outer pace is indicative of our internal clock. The people I know that run around like chickens without heads aren’t calm in any sense. No one envies those people and wants to emulate them. How we pace ourselves matters. How we walked, ate, swept, chanted, bowed, sat, stood, waited all mattered. We were mindful of ourselves and those around us. The teachers would remind us daily to please take good care of ourselves because that means we are caring for those around us too. This is the opposite of all that fake martyrdom nonsense, where people, especially women, are trained to believe that we must ignore our own needs in the service of others. It’s such bullshit and it leads to nothing but a resentful need for external accolades, it’s a bottomless cup. To be told to be gentle with ourselves by other adults is a wonderful feeling. It’s part of how we reparent ourselves, and it absolutely causes us to be calmer and gentler with others. If we are internally frenetic, the energy we emit will help no one.

By the way, I’ve also learned that the slower you are, the more you accomplish because focus and attention is increased. Rushing around like a lunatic often results in a pile of unsatisfying nothing. The days I drag myself out of bed at 5:50 for yoga are not easy. But those are hands down my most productive days. It sets an intention, a pace, a commitment. Another favorite part of mine was “teisho”; dharma talks from the teachers. We had one a day for 30 minutes. Soaking up wisdom and perspective, and hearing people finally talk, was a highlight for me. The grounds at Garrison are stunning. Fields, meadows, views all just splendid. It’s a kind, pesticide free environment so there was an array of insects. Once I was lying on the grass during free time, and about six butterflies landed on me. I felt like a Disney princess. Each night after we finished evening mediation, a bunch of us gathered to look out onto the river. I have never seen larger or more fireflies in my life. It was perfect serenity, as well as a satisfying sense of accomplishment that we had completed yet another day.

A popular inquiry about this experience has been about the food. The food was excellent. They have special chefs at Garrison who only serve organic, farm to table cuisine made of fresh, locally grown ingredients. I have been meaning to purchase their special cookbook. All meals are served buffet style, and even the way we took our food was done lovingly and patiently. There was not a meal where I did not think to myself that a Jewish buffet line is literally like the most maniacal scene from Lord of the Flies. It’s survival of the fittest by women in Chanel suits, in a frenzy of urgent gluttony. Yes, I get the Holocaust trickle down that there won’t be enough food. But that’s long over, and somehow I don’t think that’s what’s really going on in the heads of Jews in 2019. On the retreat we took what we needed, with respect to everyone else, and no one ate until everyone had a plate at their seat. One body. Before we ate we said a prayer thanking the farmers, the pickers, and all others involved in preparing the food. Included in the prayer was may our bodies be deserving of this food, and may this food aid us in serving humanity. Food, like all else, should be pure, delicious, and beneficial. Not speaking during meals actually made me eat less, because my bites were slower and more attentive. We need so much less than we think we do, in almost every way. I’m sure my digestive system did a happy dance at not being rushed into doing its job. It all goes back to mindfulness, including being aware and appreciative of our internal organs. They need care and respect too. On a different note, this was a Sōtō zen retreat, from the White Plum Asian lineage. I did not know this going in, and it was funny to me how “whatever” I’d been. When I looked into this a bit more one night (I did have my phone with me but used it very sparingly) I read about the Sōtō approach vs the Rinzai method, both terms I heard about from reading Jack Kornfield. In a Rinzai school they basically beat the shit out of you until you reach meditative states. I’m not sure being knocked unconscious equates to spiritual bliss, but who am I to deprive masochists of their fun? It turns out this is understandably illegal in America, where we prefer to injure each other more passive aggressively. But I also said to myself laughingly, “monk, shmonk. If someone punches a Jewish chick from New Jersey and pulls her freshly blown out hair, they’re getting kicked back and will lose that round”. Retreat humor!

As I said before, I went into this with almost no preconceived notions, a good life approach in general. But I definitely assumed it was going to have more of the Indian Hindu yogic flavor that I’m used to. I showed up with my beads and burgundy elephant print pants, thinking there would be guided movement and Ayurvedic cooking demonstrations. I was clearly the little Bhakti yogi amongst a sea of black robes, who bowed with exaggerated arm stretching flourish, because that’s how I’ve been taught to gather energy from the space I’m entering. Energy in a space is a real thing. Fung Shui, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Ba Gua; those are all
ancient, time honored methods of being one with space and energy of our surroundings. Damn right I was going to absorb all those good vibrations. To oversimplify but maybe not really, there’s one Buddha from whom all this originated. One original Buddha whose story generated through India, the Sanskrit yogic approach, and also to Asia, which birthed these other methods of teaching. The principles and messages are the same. Different paths to the same destination, it’s just a matter of which road map you’re using at the time. There are many statues of Buddha. The particular one that was on the alter in the zendo was of him looking calm, sitting atop this ugly, teeth bearing lion. Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison, who is also a psychotherapist and author, explained that this certain depiction was used because the lions and demons are always here. Within us and around us. The goal isn’t to get rid of them since that’s impossible, but it’s to see them, make peace with them, and rise above them. THAT is the part that’s indeed possible. No matter what your demons may be, you can always find your way to stay ahead of them. The Buddha doesn’t teach anything that’s unattainable. He was a human, not a deity. I knew going in that we are always given the life experience that is required for our growth in that exact moment. I first learned that from Eckhart Tolle, but as Dai En Friedman said during her teisho, “the dharma always gives us what we need”. I needed this specific retreat at this specific moment, which is why I didn’t question it. Instinct put me there, and as instincts usually are, this one was right. My life has already begun to unfold in more ways from this week. I’ll write about it more, but I’m going to stop now because this is one long ass post and I’m hungry. As for Wilford Brimley, his message carried me throughout. I thanked him in the brief speech we were allowed to make at the end. At our goodbye meal, which was overflowing with emotion like the last day of sleep away camp, he handed me a note that he asked me to read at home. I waited because I am now just learning what it means to not rush. It was a short note with his number, and that he’d like to stay in touch. I was so moved and will definitely reach out. As I said, gender, age, and all other seemingly external details fade when a spark of connection has been ignited. The closeness we can feel without words, like my neighbor in the zendo ,who gently put a box of tissues next to me one day when I was tearfully releasing. I never got his name or the chance to thank him, as he had to skip the last meal to make a flight. It doesn’t matter, in that moment we knew each other. One body; you cry I cry. You smile I smile. Laughter is contagious for a reason. We all held space for each other in this weighted silence that was powerfully unifying. I have already joined the zen center back home. I want this for my life as a regular reminder of why I’m in this body. The zen center trains people how to work with the elderly, the infirmed, the grieving, and the dying. I have never encountered more selfless, humble kindness like this in my life. It was astoundingly pure. It cut to the heart of all matters, which as you know, is simply the heart in each of us. This retreat was one giant metaphor for life. I’m so grateful to have stepped into this place with these teachers and these fellow practitioners, and that my life brought me there. What a different experience my entire life has become. It all used to be so uniform and predictable, which used to drive me crazy. If every day and every moment, especially the hard times, brings us to where we are meant to be, then I’ll take this one and keep following it. Every stone is part of the path, and the path is never ending. For the first time in my life, I don’t need to know where I’m going, or with whom. My commitment is to just keep going, flowing, trusting, falling, and getting back up. I’ll wind up where I’m meant to be. Om shanti, Gate Gate Paragate, namaste, or just thank you. It all works. Even words and letters, in all their different meanings and configurations, can be of one linguistic body. It’s why the mute can still speak, the blind can read, and the deaf can be one with music. The possibility for unification is awesome and astounding. When the robed ladies in the zendo played their enormous sound bowls, banging them then catching the vibration and keeping it moving in circles, those sounds engulfed each of us and filled this huge room. Sound is incredibly powerful in its ability to reach our most primal, hidden spaces. Yin and yang, sound and silence. It’s all necessary to create the Oneness.

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Mazal Tov Mama

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A while ago I had the concept for how I wanted to look for my son’s big Torah reading performance on the Shabbat day of his bar mitzvah. I am so not a fan of the whole faputzed bar mitzvah mother shtick (this post needs a glossary). The same blowout, the same nose job, the same Roland Mouret fitted dress yada yada yada. Your girl is not a conformist! But putting all that aside, I wanted to feel as natural and stripped down as possible. Feminine, soft, summery, and chilled out.

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My son was born on the eve of the holiday of Shavuot, a time that commemorates the important wheat harvest in Israel. The story of the holiday mostly takes place in a wheat field. Not that any 13 year old boy would be caught dead frolicking through a wheat field with his mother, but that’s the look I was aiming for. Soft hippie boho chic. Enter my new favorite designer ever, Love Shack Fancy. I heard about their shop in downtown New York and hightailed it down there. It was love at first sight with me and this dress (and about seven others). Modest for synagogue, cream with tons of tiny buttons and detailing, this dress could not have been more perfect for a daytime summer event. I felt like the hostess with the mostess, mixed in with a dash of Mrs Havisham from Great Expectations. My hair look was a middle part with long, loose beachy waves with tiny little braids woven in. Hippie princess hair.


As the planning for the big day unfolded, the aesthetic and mood we wanted was also natural, gauzy, light, and fresh. Tons of fresh herbs and greenery, muslin, burlap, natural woods, and creamy linens. It was as if there was a bar mitzvah scene in The English Patient (worst movie). I really do not like high heels, but my friends told me if I showed up in my dying gold Birkenstock’s they’d clock me over the head with them. Understood. I found the most perfect kitten heeled rose colored satin slip ons. Diane B on the upper east side literally made me feel like Cinderella. I saw these shoes, put them on, and they were perfection. And go me for not teetering on 7 inch stilettos at my own event. I’m not sure why stilts seem to be a requirement for these affairs. I much prefer to stand out in an understated way. When you are radiating joy everyone will see you and feel you (a life lesson). I will wear this dress over and over, each time recalling how wonderful and beautiful this milestone was for my family.

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Lady in Red

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So this was my bar mitzvah look numero uno, for a formal Friday night Shabbat dinner that followed prayer services. I love how this was not a new purchase; I’ve had it for two years and wore it only to be photographed for the blog and Instagram. It’s a fabulous, bright red, asymmetrical dress that is both classy and avant- guard. Half of one sleeve is missing, which is a very cool compliment to certain other classic detailing, such as all the tiny buttons running up the front. This is a major statement dress without being revealing. After all, I had to keep it somewhat modest for synagogue. As the hostess it was crucial I stay super elegant. But when this lady does elegant, it’s still bold and true to my taste.

I adore red. It’s such a powerful, confident color. I did a side part with my hair which is more formal than my usual middle. Very Veronica Lake. All my accessories were yellow gold, including the delicate strappy sandals I wore (the pictures here show wedges since I wore those for the blog shoot with this dress originally). This was a perfect Friday night bar mitzvah mommy look. That night started off what was to be a truly magical weekend, full of family, friends, and incredibly joyous vibes and energy. Exactly what my son deserved after he had studied his Torah portion so hard for over a whole year. Red is most certainly a celebratory color. This look began the festivities with a bang️.

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Take It Or Leave It

This quote from Abraham Hicks really impacted me the other day. Sometimes we can know things but still need constant reinforcements of those ideas. Life is a series of unfolding events in which we are meant to further awaken. This is only possible if we leave old versions of ourselves behind. For example, if your relationship sucks in daily life, chances are it will still suck on a five star vacation. Sure, you might both be more relaxed being away from the daily grind, but if you can only be “happy” together on a trip... It really is true; we can move from one scenario to the next but if we are bringing the same pathologies, issues, fears, doubts, and insecurities to each new situation then we never level up. We need to bring new versions of ourselves to meet these new sets of circumstances.

I recently entered a new situation and due to years of embedded conditioning, I find my old tendencies swimming to the surface. This is uncomfortable but good. It gives me a chance to skim the fat and uncover a clear mental broth. I don’t want to bring the old version of myself to this new place. I will no longer identify with her. My mind is used to attaching to her old ways, but the rest of me has learned so much and knows better. I don’t judge her at all. In fact I regard her with compassion. She was so sweet and never learned better. She did the best with what she was taught. She was such a little soldier even then. I understand why she did everything she did. But she’s no longer relevant. I will bring the new me to walk through these new doors. The me that allows Source to flow through me unrestricted. The me that trusts and surrenders. The me that won’t allow toxic thought patterns to rule my mind. The me that says to my mind, “leave her be, her soul is at peace” (I actually say this through the day).

I recently made a necessary decision that I never thought I’d make. That was a major step in the direction of the new me. The old me would never have let this person go. She would have grasped on, even though she knew it wasn’t serving her. Oy, poor girl. I have visualized gently laying her down to sleep. She can rest now and forever. A new me has risen and more versions will continue to rise. That’s how it’s supposed to be for all of us. Don’t bring your old stuff to new situations. Then they’re not new, right? It becomes same shit different day. You don’t want that because it doesn’t feel good. Anything that doesn’t feel good can be left behind. It’s not easy but it’s doable. We are so lucky to have so much information today that teaches us step by step how to no longer identify with our former selves. If you keep shlepping (Jew!) the old you along you’ll never have a new chapter. This doesn’t mean everything in your life changes, it just means that how you relate to your life is different. I have been objectively observing both myself and others in this way. Moving from relationship to relationship with the exact same issues just being recycled. Recycling is great, just not here. It’s just relocating the bag of stinky trash from place to place. Bottom line, we are never stuck. It’s the mind that keeps us trapped by grasping onto the familiar. After all, familiarity disguises itself as safety. I have been literally telling myself,

“I will not drag my old stuff into new spaces. I no longer identify with her. The old coping mechanisms no longer apply. Everything about me and my life is different.”

These affirmations are important and helpful. The old me didn’t have them to anchor myself. It’s always the snake, shedding skin. Always being reborn. Loosening. Regenerating. It can be very scary to move on, especially when we leave certain people behind. They can always do their own work and join us. It’s an invitation for them to go forward, not for us to revert backwards. Note who in your life brings out new and improved versions of yourself. Who invites you to grow. Compare this with those who keep you stuck. They may not want you to release dead weight. Your dead weight may very well make them comfortable. Then there are those who force us to grow without having any idea they’re doing it. And still we need to take the lessons but let them go, because they refuse to awaken and uncover new versions of themselves. They can unknowingly guide us towards self improvement without being in alignment with themselves. And this can really hurt us. Everyone is a mirror for us, but sometimes only one person sees that. I am teaching myself new lessons now. Lessons that the new me can handle. She wants them. Only the past can bring us to the present. Only the present can bring us to the future. How interesting that in another context the word “gift” is a synonym for present. Receive the gift of a clean house. Don’t let your old vibrations decide for you how this new moment will turn out. Leave that behind. You’re ready. You’re always ready on some level. You just have to know that. If any of you reading this needed to hear that, then I’m honored to pass the message along. Go get the next version of yourself, the one free of old mental chatter that holds you back. Go meet your new vibration. It’s been waiting for you all along. My grandfather used to say after a trip ,”it’s good to leave, it’s good to come home”. We can only return home once we’ve left.

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White Nectarine Kale Salad

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De. Lish. I swear these were all ingredients I had in the house. Red onions are a staple, my daughter loves kale, my son loves white peaches and nectarines, and I love raspberries. I have a nice selection of vinegars in my pantry too. This salad is really fabulous; bursting with sweet, summer flavor. I wait all year for stone fruits, especially the white ones. My mother in law, god bless her, once found me white peaches in January when I had a crazy pregnancy craving with my eldest. This salad is so visually appealing with its array of bright colors. The raspberries give a great burst of tartness in addition to that great pop of pink. Each element here has a job to do and they all work together cooperatively and beautifully. The Blaga crew was psyched that this was today’s lunch. Super healthy, light, and full of fiber and nutrients, this salad is a winner.

Ingredients:

Four cups chopped kale

Two firm yet ripe nectarines thinly sliced

Half a red onion thinly sliced

A pint of raspberries

Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup each olive oil and fresh lemon juice, two tbsp citrus champagne vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, a squirt of honey.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together well. Pour half the dressing on the salad. Toss gently so as not to crush the raspberries. Drizzle remainder of the dressing on top as desired.

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Chocolate, Nutty Dried 🍑

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Here’s the deal with dried peaches; they reek of ass. It’s undeniable. I like eating them and they’re my favorite dried fruit. That’s saying a lot since Jews and dried fruit have a special relationship. Funny anecdote: several years ago a bunch of close friends and I traveled to Israel for the bar mitzvah of the son of one of our crew members. On the last night in Jerusalem we were all planning on tearing shit up. Clubs, hookah bars, and drinking. Falafel munchies at 2 am. Feel me? We were all excited to be middle aged and free for a night on the town in a foreign country. Fast forward two hours after departing from the lobby and there we were, buying dried fruit and nuts from a kiosk 20 feet from the hotel. Then we went home, the end. Talk about a wild night! It was pathetic and hilarious. I was the only female in the gang, so for me personally it was a waste of a strategically placed belly chain. Oh well, we tried. It was one of those “this is 40” moments.

Funny dried anecdote number two: I was eating one last week in the pantry and my son started gagging and was like, “Jesus, Mom!!!”. See? Ass (I’m aware this tush talk might deter you from making this recipe). However, these little treats are easy to make and are a guilt free indulgence. There’s richness to them which means you won’t overdo it. One should really do the trick.

Ingredients:

Dried peaches, the natural kind with no added sugar

A bag of bittersweet chocolate chips melted in a double boiler

And crushed toasted slivered almonds (optional).

Directions:

Simply dip each peach in some melted chocolate, press into the nuts, and lay face up on a sheet or plate covered in parchment paper. Freeze until the chocolate sets then store in fridge until ready to eat. Check out these pervy emojis 🥜. Sorry, I can’t help it; I still think it’s funny looking up private parts in the dictionary.

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Red Rooster 🐓

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  I so enjoy collecting things to wear in random, unexpected places. Jewelry sold on the street, a hat at a garage sale, and in this case a t shirt at a restaurant. Not a cheesy, mass produced t shirt about the establishment (though the right one can be ironically cool), but a hand painted t shirt sold by the artist in a corner near the entrance. If you’ve ever been to the Red Rooster in Harlem then perhaps you know what I’m referring to.

I met a friend for drinks there a few months ago and immediately spotted this dope array of hand painted stuff. What caught my eye amongst all the fun visuals to take in, was this rack with these amazing aprons. I actually have an apron collection that I love and use. I hope my girls wear them one day. All of my girlfriends are terrific cooks but none of them really wear aprons. They get a kick out of always seeing me in one. What would I wipe my hands on?? I debated on whether to buy a shirt or apron. My friend correctly stated, “you have enough aprons” so I went with the t shirt. I probably have a thousand more t shirts then aprons at home, but his advice made sense at the time and it was the right move for a couple reasons. The shirt is painted with the image of a rooster, a cool nod to the spot. I also really like the symbolism of a rooster, which is essentially “wake the F up!!”. I’m thinking of cutting off one sleeve, the one without paint. I’ve never tried that before, usually I hack both off since I love the cut of a muscle T. But I think the asymmetry could look very cool. The hat here is 18 years old. I have a good straw fedora collection too. The denim cutoffs are from Target. See? Random is good. Collect, combine, curate, and create.

The Jewish Question

Nope, not revisiting genocide here. So to all of my devoted Neo Nazi followers, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Oh, and go fuck yourselves.

Today’s topic at hand is whether or not I’ll date a non Jewish man. I get asked this a lot, whether in person or on dating apps. My answer is no. I recently had a very nice exchange with a seemingly lovely non Jewish man on an app. We definitely had certain things in common and he seemed like a genuinely intelligent, nice guy. He very respectfully inquired how strict I am about the Jewish guy rule, meaning would I consider giving him a shot. He wanted to know if his being openly spiritual could potentially be enough. All fair questions, and I was flattered that he took the time to have a thought out discussion about it. My answer was this; dating a Jewish man is indeed extremely important to me, for a few reasons.

I explained how I find all organized religions to be quite problematic. That they cause more divisiveness than harmony. Look at the many warring sects in Judaism alone; there’s no way Hashem is proud of that. Rules in general are to build cages in some capacity. If the true nature of the spirit is limitless freedom, then any kind of religious restrictions and rules prevent that. In my humble opinion, religion and spirituality are quite conflicting. Maybe they’re distant cousins but they don’t keep in touch much. Prayer, blessings of gratitude, holidays, Shabbat, certain traditions, and mindfulness are deeply important to me. They are ingrained in my life and my children’s lives. Judaism for me is about culture. It’s just too much a part of who I am, but not from a religious standpoint. There are certain approaches to life that are just a Jewish chop (pronounced like challah, not like chop wood). Granted, there are also Jewish approaches to life I do not vibe with, but there is simply a strong cultural tie that binds us. I don’t really want to have to explain to someone what a sukkah is, why Friday night dinner is a lovely concept, or why it’s important to me that my kids attend Yeshiva and learn biblical studies. I don’t want my Judaism to be some cute novelty, just like my blogging and DJing isn’t some cute novelty.

This next point is perhaps the most important to me. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. There is not a day that this is not on my mind. They barely escaped death at the hand of some terrified, psychotic, art school reject with an unacceptable haircut, JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE JEWS. That’s all it took, no other fact mattered. I have never taken their survival or my Judaism for granted for a second. I will not take part in assimilation because I strongly feel I’d be dishonoring all they went through to survive. How they tried to rebuild the magnificent Jewish community that was unfathomably destroyed. If Judaism has been such an incredible threat to the rest of the world throughout history, it must mean something pretty damn special. Am I having more kids? No. And if I did they’d be Jewish anyway because a Jewish child is determined as such because of the mother. But that’s not the point for me. Continuity of the Jewish spirit is undeniably part of my blood, my life, my sense of humor, my faith, and certain parts of the framework of my life. I just don’t want to participate in any sort of dilution to the Jewish population. So if I dated or married a non Jew it would send some kind of message to myself and my kids that our culture may not need to be preserved. And it does. While we are all the same inside, which I am sure of, I was still born a Jew for a reason. God knows what he’s doing always. By the way, no, I did not go into this entire manifesto on Match (though I can’t imagine a better way to throw some dude off your trail), but I did highlight the main points. This gentleman was very understanding and respectful. It felt nice to honor myself by being clean, honest, and true to myself. Listen, all you need is one right? I’ve met some awesome Jewish guys thus far and the right member of the tribe will find me at the right time.

I need for my grandparents to know that their battles and victories matter to me. That I’m grateful they fought back and survived so that I could have born. Courage, like love, is a vibration that continues to be felt for generations. There are many paths to the same God. Being Jewish is just my path and there’s no way around it ✡️☮️🕉☪️✝️.

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Oh, Catherine 👗

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 Thank the Lord I kept this one! I had a real love affair with anything that said “Catharine Malandrino” on the label many moons ago. I bought this beautiful dress when I still lived in New York, I believe 17 years ago. As my body changed over the years, yo-yoing all over the place due to the craziness of pregnancy and post pregnancy, there were times I just didn’t look good in this. And what do we do when something makes us feel bad about ourselves? We get rid of it. Meaning, instead of facing certain truths we eliminate threats. Often this is necessary and healthy, but I shudder to think of all the amazing clothing I got rid of because I convinced myself I had put on muscle mass from working out . Sex and the City was huge at the time and this definitely reminded me of Carrie. It has a vintage feel because of the colors, satin, and cut. Very 70’s. It’s just a super feminine, lovely frock that hugs in a the right places. I haven’t tried it on in years but I must say this is the best it’s ever looked. Reunited and it feels so good. I love these delicious golden and peachy colors with gold and straw accessories.

Yellow Pepper Soup

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Love, love, love this one. I developed it just for y’all last week. The blog is good for me in that it demands I keep my creative juices flowing and active. I made a fabulous red pepper soup in the winter, so I wanted to try one with its yellow cousin for summer. This soup can be served at any temperature, perfect as a cold shooter or appetizer on a hot day. It has a solid kick because of the jalapeño that was sautéed with the onion and garlic in the initial aromatic stage. I myself do not like spicy foods but I did like this, meaning you feel the jalapeño but it’s not really spicy. To lessen that just use half the jalapeño instead of the whole. As always when working with jalapeños, make sure you carefully scrape away the fiery seeds. And ALWAYS wash your hands we’ll immediately after handling them. God help you if you mindlessly rub your eye.

Ingredients:

Eight yellow peppers sliced

A jalapeño (whole or half) carefully seeded and diced

A Spanish or large yellow onion diced

3 cloves fresh minced garlic

6 cups vegetable stock or broth

1 tsp each smoked paprika and Zatar

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt and a scant 1/2 tsp pepper

One or two stalks of fresh rosemary tied tightly in a mesh bouquet garnish bag or cheesecloth

Directions:

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a medium size soup pot. Sauté onions and jalapeño until the onions turn really fragrant and translucent. Deglaze as needed with a couple tablespoons of vegetable broth as the pot dries out. Add the minced garlic and sauté a couple more minutes. I add the garlic at the end since it gets brown so quickly. As the garlic gets fragrant add the smoked paprika and Zatar. Add the white wine vinegar. Mix and let the aromatics all blend a couple minutes. Then add the sliced yellow peppers and veg broth. Add the salt and pepper. I didn’t use the full half tsp of pepper. I’m always wary of over peppering; you can always add the extra dash later. Stir all well. Place the rosemary bundle in the pot so it’s nestled amongst the other components. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once the soup is at an active simmer, lower the flame to medium low. I like to usually keep lids on while the soup is cooking. Let the soup simmer 45 minutes, stirring every so often. When the peppers are really soft turn off the flame. Let it sit and calm down for about a half hour, if you have time, then remove the rosemary bundle and blend until smooth. Enjoy hot, room temp, or cold. Souper.

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You Feel Like Home

...which is why you’re bad for me. I recently read something that struck hard. It was that people don’t really choose who they think they deserve; they choose who feels like home. And how many of us can shoot our hands up and directly trace our destructive habits back to our childhood homes? Dr Nicole la Pera, the brilliant Holistic Psychologist on Instagram, writes so much on this. Her posts are a series of staggering revelations. Light bulbs bursting in my mind as truths leap out from our shadow selves. Follow her to freedom, People. This concept explains why we can repeat the same awful patterning over and over, perpetuating entrapment. It was simply the first language we learned so we revert back to the Mother Tongue, deciding to grasp onto the root truths that first entered our tiny malleable minds. As malleability morphs into adult rigidity, we are less inclined to make changes unless we are willing to stare at every ugly flaw in the mirror. Not changing while continuing to let ourselves down causes tremendous shame. Deep down we know how powerful we are; it’s incredibly shameful to subconsciously or consciously know that with each lousy choice we make, we are failing ourselves. I’ve seen this with myself in my past choices. I’m working diligently to create all new patterning in order to create a different set of circumstances. It’s working, and I’m proud of the results while knowing it’s a constant climb. I am also observant of certain people that bitch about the past, while making the exact same choices in the present. It’s hard as a friend to not go and shake this one particular person who is keeping themselves locked in heaviness. For those of us inclined to help it takes self restraint and humility to know that everyone’s journey is their own. I can only focus on my own path. This doesn’t mean we have to stand there and watch someone self destruct. We can gently disengage at any time, especially if we get railroaded in the process. It’s so hard to see someone we care about , who has oceans of potential, stay in the shallow. But it’s not for us to decide. Band-aides never work, whether they arrive in the form of a baby, a significant other, or a friend. No one can heal for another because it’s deeply personal inner work. But it’s maddening to watch our peeps shoot themselves in the foot over and over, just like it is when we hurt ourselves too.

What I’m painfully learning is that a person that will always let themselves down will likely let you down too. Treating others is only in relation to how we treat ourselves. I recently took a step back from someone who has let me down a lot. Like, dropped me on my ass several times. I picked myself up each time, armed with a list of understanding excuses. Hmmmm...sounds familiar. Because I’m still speaking my Mother tongue. Which means I’m also still not honoring myself because I’m choosing the same as well. It takes one to know one. The difference is that I’m on top of my own stuff. I’m deliberately taking strides to learn a new language. To broaden my knowledge of self. It’s a hard pill to swallow; to be forced to admit that my compassion and friendship was really perhaps another string of decisions that didn’t serve me. I don’t want you to be my home anymore. I’m redecorating. I want a fresh, loving space that envelops me and allows me to sink peacefully into it. Walls that keep in good choices, a kitchen that produces healthy offerings. Floors that support me, ceilings to watch over me. An endless series of doors I can keep walking through as I continued growing. A yard I can tend to that brings forth fruit and life. A gate I can open and shut that only I hold the key to. I’m moving. If you’re good for me I’ll send you my new address 📩



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