Category Archives: Magic Up Your Life Blog Challenge

MUYL Day 3: Coming Out of the Food Pantry Closet

Coming Out of the Pantry ClosetOMGeez! This is day 3 of the Magic Up Your Life Blog Challenge and wouldn’t you know the writing prompts ask us to write about food. The most challenging part about writing to the first prompt: “tell us about your favorite food or recipe,” would be deciding which favorite food or recipe to share with you. I have a lot of a favorites and I can be very indecisive at times, so answering this first one wouldn’t be a slam dunk. I am a better than average cook which means I have a lot of scrumptious recipes I could share. I’m very tempted to go with the first prompt and call it good. It would definitely be quicker and easier route.

But I did sign up for a challenge. So the second prompt which asks, “How does eating fit into your life?” is the one I’m feeling called to answer.

I have a dirty little secret with regard to food. I’m guilty. I consider myself on a spiritual path and I don’t eat clean, vegan, or vegetarian. Some days I have some food shame about this. Especially when it comes to admitting this “lack of alignment” for all the world to see in social media circles such as this. It’s time to put it all on the table and come out of the food pantry closet.

I have a lot of vegetarian in my DNA. My great grandfather …everyone called him Pa, was vegetarian before it was “enlightened” to be so. My beloved brother who crossed the rainbow bridge in 1999 was vegetarian and one of my two sisters has been vegetarian nearly all her adult life. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few more vegetarian leaves on my family tree which I don’t know about.

So I highly respect this choice. I’ve even given it consideration from time to time. But I’m more of a meat on the side kind of girl. I love my veggies, but I would miss my smidgeon of meat, not to mention a good chunk of sharp cheddar cheese if I chose the vegan route. I can see validity in doing the vegetarian thing cause it has less impact on the environment. But doing it for spiritual reasons I find more tenuous and confusing. I’m of the opinion that plants have souls every bit as much as animals do. I’ve communed more than once with a stately old growth “Grandmother” Douglas fir and no one can tell me that tree doesn’t have a soul every bit as vital as me and the animals of the forest…so why not a pieces of lettuce? I’m more aligned with the Native American way….mindfully acknowledge, give thanks, and honor the soul of everything I consume.

Oh and there would another more practical reason…choosing vegetarian would add a several layers of complication to my cooking and eating life. I already find it complicated enough. Depending on the day of the year I can be quite the hedonist where food is concerned or I can have hardly any appetite for food and not want to be bothered with having to think too much about it.

It’s a good thing I married a guy who always has a good appetite or I would often forget to eat, especially when I am immersed in my creative work. Oh and when it gets hot…like it’s been this summer in Oregon forget it…my appetite really plummets. It’s a challenge to find something that appeals to me.

Then there are times when food is a true passion. I especially love the creative side of food. When this passion grabs hold of me my diehard foodie comes out to play. It’s a sensual experience. I love experimenting, love the planning, love trying new things. It can be truly satisfying. I’ve probably even have a couple of cookbooks up my sleeve…I may eventually publish one or two…who knows. For now I have bits and pieces of several possible recipe books sitting here in a file on my hard drive.

When the kids were young and at home we would always sit down at the family table for our meal. Since they left home we’ve become much more casual about this.

When it is just me at home I’m happy to just graze through my day rather than sit down for an actual meal. A few almonds and piece of fruit here, a knob of cauliflower there, fresh vine ripened tomatoes …yummm, a slice of really sharp cheddar on a couple whole grain crackers and I’m in heaven.

I do try to choose healthier choices…but I have a few vices, which I’m just not ready to give up. I haven’t kicked sugar, don’t eat as much as the average American…but I do have a sweet tooth. I don’t have a crazy, out-of-control sweet tooth so most of the time I’m happy to allow myself to indulge. I can make a bag of good chocolate last me for weeks. My biggest vice (okay addiction) is I like my soda pop…I am just not ready to give that up…I’ve tried to replace it with other beverages…but just haven’t found something that satisfies and quenches like a nice cold pop.

Recently, I was in the middle of making a big pot of chili for a potluck dinner and saw a half bottle of cola that had gone flat sitting on the counter. So I threw it into the pot along with some cocoa powder…and yummy. Just enough sweetness to tame the acidity of the tomato. It was gobbled up.

Yummy Potluck Cola Chili

Yummy Potluck Cola Chili
11/2 lbs. lean ground beef (ground turkey or meat substitute I        believe would work just as well)

1/2 large sweet onion finely chopped

1/2 lb miniature red, yellow, & orange bell peppers sliced in rings

2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1 4 oz. can of diced green chilies (optional)

3 6 oz. cans of tomato paste

10 oz. flat cola (a 12 oz can would be fine…maybe even as much as full 20 oz. bottle)

4 15 oz. cans of dark kidney beans rinsed

I use a combination of the following spices and I don’t usually measure them…but they are approximately like this.

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. ground oregano

2 tsp. ground cumin

1-2 Tbsp chili powder (we prefer it on the milder side)

1 tsp. ground black pepper….yes I am generous with the black pepper …it gives it a lovely kick…which without being too spicy hot.

2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. sugar (optional since this chili has cola in it..but if you like to mellow the acidity of the tomato a little sometimes a little additional sugar helps…taste it before adding it)

  1. Saute and brown the meat, onions, and peppers in a large skillet. Drain and rinse off any fat that has accumulated. Return to the pan.
  2. Add and mix in the diced tomatoes, green chilies.
  3. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, cocoa, salt, and sugar. Let the spices mingle and the sugar caramelize slightly for about one minute on medium low heat.
  4. Add and stir in the tomato paste and cola. If you prefer more “gravy” then add some additional water or even tomato juice or tomato sauce, until you have the soupy consistency your prefer. My guy prefers a thick chili without a lot of “gravy.” So I will add a about 6 to 12 oz. of liquid.
  5. Serve this right from the pan (I love my cast iron pans partly for this reason..they look great as serving dishes) or if you taking it to a potluck or planning to eat it later pour the chili into crock pot. Simmer on low for up to 4 hours. Add the kidney beans about 30 minutes before your plan to eat.
  6. As usual this is even better the next day so if you want leftovers take out a bit and put it aside before serving or you might not have leftovers. It disappears rather quickly in a hungry crowd.


MUYL Day 2: And the Journey Continues…

and the journey contnuesI woke up this morning with the best of intentions, to write my blog post for the challenge first thing in the morning. I even read the challenge the evening before so I could be thinking about it as I drifted off to slept. And even more important, I wouldn’t have to check my email to find the new prompt for the day (having to check email can be an all too easy temptation). I was pleased as punch with myself …I thought this was so clever of me.

Then I woke up. Sat down eager and ready to begin writing. Opened up a word doc and sat there….and sat …and sat….my fingers not moving on the keyboard…

Maybe I should go recheck how that prompt was worded. It might help to copy and paste it into my word doc. Yep I did this. And while I was there in my inbox… Uh huh! Yeah! All righty! Can you see my sheepish grin?

This email distraction led me to check the Facebook group just on the off chance reading a few other responses would be just the jump start I needed.

I started to compose a comment, but thankfully my inner voice had something to say about that, “No you can do that need to get back to writing you post.”

But first I felt the urge to check my other email…maybe someone left a comment on my post from yesterday. They did. I felt both encouraged and excited by several lovely comments. You’d would think this would help me get going on my post for this morning.
Not exactly. I got up and fetched a drink of water. Now that I was at the sink I was conveniently greeted with a pile of dishes, which I decided I should quickly wash up.

While doing these dishes I finally admit to myself that I am in that all too familiar dance with resistance once again. So I ask myself, ” So what’s going on?”

I continued to explored this line of inquiry while making breakfast, which began to give me a small glimpse into what was going on.

From experience I knew going for a walk would be the most helpful thing I could right now. There is something about the rhythm of walking which helps me get to the bottom of stuff.

Here’s what I discovered while out walking this morning. There is a part of me that prefers not to talk/write about spiritual stuff. That isn’t quite an accurate statement. I talk and write about spiritual stuff all the time. Just ask some of my friends who think of me as the weird friend who talks about woo, woo stuff too much. I’m definitely on a spiritual path myself. My discomfort comes up when I’m asked to explicitly and formally talk about what I believe about spirituality. And go figure…silly me…I signed up for this. It shouldn’t be surprising we would be writing on few spiritual topics during the next 30 days.

Yes, I know I could have chosen another topic to write about today. There were a couple of small problems with that. For one I would have had to figured out another topic to write about. And two..and more importantly, I revoked Ms. Resistance’s driving privileges quite some time ago. I am quite committed and determined to keep my hands on the steering wheel. Now you have the background story. Let me finally get to the prompts.

Here’s my current understanding of spirituality. Warning wandering ramblings ahead. Yes, I will likely contradict myself. I think this is the nature of spirituality. It’s ripe with paradox. It’s a miraculous mystery. I’m learning to not let these contradictions confound me. I’ve slowly been learning to hold it all more lightly.

I’m learning to be more okay with not knowing. More comfortable and trusting in a place of uncertainty. I try to spend more time in beginners mind.

For me spirit is a very fluid thing, which makes it difficult to pin down. I know it…I’ve had very intimate life changing profound experiences with it. Try to put words to these experiences and more often than not I am at a total loss.

For me spirituality seems to be mostly a wordless thing. I most often find spirit in the spaces between the words. In my creative work, when I’m in the zone, tapped into flow, it will seem like it isn’t me, but spirit speaking and co-creating with me.

I don’t use one word to describe the idea of God. I am comfortable using many terms for this mystery. So depending on my mood or circumstance I’ve been known to describe this Essence as God, Goddess, Source, The Universe, the Great Spirit, Mother, Father, Grandmother. Buddha mind, Inner wisdom, and so on. I think of it as energy and consciousness. I think of it as the Oneness, which embraces the Many. At times I find it helpful to personify this Essence or think of as an animal guide.

This morning when I went for that walk I found spirit in a weed patch of dandelions, in a quiet morning breeze, in a child’s raucous laughter, in my own shadow stretched out across the pavement, in the opening of my heart to learn something new about myself and my own spiritual journey and the gratitude I have for this precious gift called life.

And this journey continues…..

MUYL Blog Challenge Day 1: Dealing With Challenge by Participating in This Blog Challenge

Gratitude and Company
     Gratitude & Jan, Keeping Each Other Company

This is day one of the Magic Up Your Life Blog Challenge.  When I signed up for this challenge I had a decent looking blog/website.  Since I had recently recommitted to blogging more consistently after a rather long dry spell I felt signing up for this would help support me in following through on that new commitment.  And I also hoped to connect with other spiritual badass and magic making bloggers.  It felt like this challenge came at just the perfect time and spirit was moving to support my renewed commitment.

A few days after signing up Mr. Beloved accidentally deleted my site. No I didn’t kill him.  Twenty seven years is too much of an investment.  In the time we’ve been together I’ve known him to do a few stupid things like this (God knows I’ve done my fair share of stupid things too), but I also know he does so much more right and has a heart of gold.  Perspective is everything.  I knew he already felt terrible, and when you’re willing to look deeper there is always a blessing to unfold in such challenges. So honey…I love you and this site is going to be beautiful again…and have some other capabilities it didn’t have before.

I had hoped to have my blog more or less restored by the time this challenge started…at the very least I hoped to have it looking and performing better than it is at the moment.  I considered giving myself a free pass to not do the challenge.  It may even make more sense to just focus on getting the blog all straightened out…right?  It would definitely be easier and more in my comfort zone to fix things behind the scenes and then worry about getting back to blogging later.  That would be my typical MO.  But the other reason I wanted to do this challenge was to push myself to show up and be willing to be more visible. That doesn’t happen behind closed doors.

So I’m flinging the doors wide open and inviting you to follow along as I figure out where and how to go from here. You get to see the before and the after. People love before and after stories right? The before is this:

  1. managed to salvage the written content only (huge blessing this part was not lost)
  2. the links no longer work
  3. all my beautiful images have vanished and need to be replaced (thankfully most if not all of these are saved on an external hard drive and restore-able)
  4. navigation is a mess
  5. sign up box is no more…need to replace this pronto
  6. other bits and pieces missing …like my free downloads.
  7. Ugly Fugly!!!

I’ve been a little stuck (okay a lot stuck) with finding the right theme.  I loved  how it used to look.  I always got a lot of compliment about the site’s appearance. Ideally I’d like my site to look and feel basically the way it did before, but more responsive, load faster (I’m an artist…and so the way it showcases images is vital).  Oh geez! I’ll not bore you with the long list. I’ll simply say it needs to be easily customizable. I’m having some trouble envisioning how to adapt my old look into a new format.  Specifically I have some images of Gratitude and me I want to incorporate in a way that makes sense.  Previously these images were used in my sliding door navigation.

Oh and for our new visitors Gratitude and I are in the middle of writing a book called Gratitude’s Journey together. She came to my rescue five years ago, during the second week of my ARTbundance™ Certification Training program, when I was stumped with how to proceed with an ARTsignment™, which I need to complete for certification.  In fact the seeds for the book we are presently working on first began in a  more humble form as that ARTsignment™.  So over the last five years Gratitude has become a dependable friend, creative muse, and business partner.  She’s taught me a lot about what it means to live a Great Full Life.  We invite you to join us as we continue our journey to living a meaningful life every day.