Give me Space & Time… and I will Caramelize Onions.

Columbia River from Vagabond Lodge
Let me sing you the glories of a weekend to yourself, nestled among riverside evergreens, when you are a sleep deprived mama of two.
A gift I always assumed was too much to even ask for, was reserved and packaged sweetly and generously by my husband, who held down the fort at home while I cozied up by a fireplace and remembered what it was like to follow my own natural rhythms and make decisions based purely on how I felt at the moment.
I relished the thought and imagined what it would be like in the days leading up to this weekend.  What I would occupy my time with, the things I could do with my stretches of time, the places I would take myself out to eat.  The sleeping in I would do!
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And I did.  I slept and woke lazily and at my own whims.  I took myself on walks along the river and marveled at the muted but rich palate of greens and blues and grays.  I soaked up the Christmas lights and decorations wherever I found them.
But I was surprised that I didn’t go far.  And every meal that I ate, I cooked myself in the little kitchen on my riverside cottage.
And I knew… that what I wanted, needed, more than anything was replenishment, rest and first-hand recreation.  But part of me thought that would come in the form of enjoying food others cooked.  Rambling through new streets and into new shops.  You know, vacation stuff.  Oh I anticipated lots of reading and writing and maybe even a yoga class.. but the extent to which I actually bunkered down in my little retreat house surprised me.
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When given an abundance of space and time… what I wanted to do… was cook.  Sit and eat, with the fire and nothing else.  I brought stacks of books and notebooks, because I can’t leave home without at least half a dozen options… but most of them were untouched.  I spent some time Unravelling the year (a la Susannah Conway) but then let it sit, to marinate, rather than bulldozing through the entirety of it.  I read a chapter here and there.  But then I wanted space.
I wanted to sit and get lost in the stillness around me and the flicker of flame.  I wanted to push and pull at flour and yeast and salt.  I wanted to put the heat on low, and stir and swirl onions until they were soft and caramelized.  I wanted to wash a dish (GASP!!!) and feel the warm sudsy water wash over my hands as they moved over the white, smooth surfaces.  Those things that time in the everyday doesn’t always seem to allow for.  Or that I don’t take the time for because I think my time is more valuable spent elsewhere.
It’s this realization that has been slowly trickling into my understanding… first intellectually, and now, it seems… ever so slowly into my experience.  That things are achieved… growth, evolution, realization, alchemy, beauty… when you let something simmer for a while.  When you leave it alone, and let the crackling of it, or the smell of it lure you back, reminding you to give it a little attention.
I think sometimes the things we need most, are the things we so adamantly insist are a waste of time… an unnecessary luxury… superfluous.
I think this weekend.  To caramelize onions was exactly what I needed.
Vagabond Lodge, Hood River
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A Birthday Pause

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Serendipitously, the day before my 30th birthday, I narrowed down my core desired feelings (a la the Desire Map) in a radical way.  I am the person to whom the idea of narrowing down anything is both an alluring and painstaking process.  I love possibilities, and thrill and thrive when I look out onto an array of gorgeous and luscious and inviting options… whether in activities, food choices, travel destinations or books to dive into.  But the thrill of anticipation can very swiftly and easily turn into scatter-brained madness if I attempt to pursue ALL of those options at once.  ((Which is not as much of an exaggeration as it may seem, as I have been known to, on occasion, even order more than one entree at a time))

One of my endeavors over the past couple years, has been a practice in discernment.  An bold look and gentle honesty with what aligns with what I truly value, and what I truly desire.  It’s a slowly evolving process, one step forward, a couple slide steps back.

One would think that limiting possibilities would feel… well… limiting.
That idea kept me cycling for a long time ((and lets be real, often, it still does)).
But if I could just convey… the utter freedom that comes with honing in on what you actually desire.  …the ability it brings to simmer in a moment, to savor every delectable bite or breath or word or movement.  …the intoxication that can occur when you devote yourself, rather than dip and flit amongst the surfaces of many.  …how you can be filled up and turned inside out with the deliciousness of such daring simplicity.

Oh, yes.  It’s that good.

And these are the things that I want for my life.  

:: to feel Freedom with every breathe
:: Devotion with every choice
:: to feel Filled up by life, as often as is humanly possible.

This is the way I want to feel.  And I suspect that at least part of the key lies in that gentle honesty and daring simplicity.

PS.  Thank you for all the birthday wishes, loves ❤

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