And here we are, January first, the start of yet another calendar year. A chance to begin anew, make changes.
There are plenty of folks out there right now writing about New Year’s resolutions and how to successfully implement them. You don’t need that from me, too. The main reason I chose new beginnings as this month's theme, despite it being such a predictable topic, is that I find my own life undergoing huge shifts. At the risk of being too personal (yeah, right, since when did that ever stop me?) – I’ve fallen in love and am finding my heart and life turning down a new, unexplored, exciting-and-scary road. The quote by Jalaja Bonheim spoke so loudly to me that I chose it as the focus for this month’s newsletter. I’ll let it speak for itself; nothing more (except more quotes, the month’s tip and recipe) from me. Oh, and of course, much love and blessings to you all!
Tip of the Month
Don’t let fear hold you back from your dreams. They say that courage is fear that’s said its prayers. I have a poster on my wall that reads “Who do you want to be? Believe it and you will become it.” So, go ahead, feel the fear, say your prayers, then do it anyway. And if you can, have fun in the process!
Quotes of the Month
“We achieve true wholeness only by embracing our fragility and sometimes, our brokenness. Wholeness is a natural radiance of Love, and Love demands that we allow the destruction of our old self for the sake of the new.” – Jalaja Bonheim
“If the wind were to stop for one second for us to catch hold of it, it would cease to be wind. The same is true of life. Perpetually things and events are moving and changing…. We can only understand life by keeping pace with it, by a complete affirmation and acceptance of its magic-like transformations and unending changes.” – Alan Watts
“Woodworker Ch’ing carved a piece of wood and made a bell stand, and when it was finished, everyone who saw it marveled, for it seemed to be the work of gods or spirits. When the Marquis of Lu saw it, he asked, ‘What art is it you have?’ Ch’ing replied, ‘I am only a craftsman – how would I have any art? There is one thing, however. When I am going to make a bell stand, I never let it wear out my energy. I always fast in order to still my mind. When I have fasted for three days, I no longer have any thought of congratulations or rewards, of titles or stipends. When I have fasted for five days, I no longer have any thought of praise or blame, of skill or clumsiness. And when I have fasted seven days, I am so still that I forget I have four limbs and a form and body. By that time, the ruler and his court no longer exist for me. My skill is concentrated and all outside distractions fade away. After that, I go into the mountain forest and examine the Heavenly nature of the trees. If I find one of superlative form, and I can see a bell stand there, I put my hand to the job of carving; if not I let it go. This way I am simply matching up Heaven with Heaven. That’s probably the reason that people wonder if the results were not made by spirits.’ ” – Chang Tzu
“If you do not perceive the sincerity within yourself and yet try to move forth, each movement will miss the mark.” – Chuang Tzu
Recipe of the Month
Mushroom Soup with Caramelized Onion
(Adapted from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville)
½ ounce dried porcini
2 yellow onions
6 cloves garlic
1 pound white (button) mushrooms
¼ pound shitake mushrooms
½ cup dry sherry
5 cups mushroom or chicken stock
salt, pepper, fresh herbs (optional)
Soak ½ ounce dried porcini (boletes) in ½ cup warm water for 10 minutes.
While porcini are soaking, begin caramelizing two yellow onions in olive oil over medium heat with a pinch of salt and pepper.
When porcini are done soaking, remove them from their liquid (save liquid!) and add them to the onions, along with 3 finely chopped garlic cloves. Continue to caramelize over medium heat, gently scraping pan with a wooden spoon to keep the onions from sticking, until they are a rich golden brown (about 25 minutes).
While the onions are caramelizing, sautee ¼ pound of sliced shitake mushrooms and 1 pound of sliced white mushrooms in olive oil until they’re golden. Add 3 more finely chopped garlic cloves, cook briefly, then add ½ cup of dry sherry, the porcini water (from soaking) and a splash of soy sauce. Once the sherry has cooked down a bit, puree some of the mushroom/sherry (to make the soup thicker/richer). Add the pureed mushrooms and remaining mushroom/sherry mixture to the pot with the onions and porcini. Add up to 5 cups of either mushroom or chicken stock and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes.
If you’d like, add cream near the end. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Optional: serve topped with freshly chopped herbs – parsley, thyme, marjoram. You can also add a splash of lemon juice.