04 . 14 . 13
I saw your comment come through last week on my lunch break and I haven’t stopped thinking about you since. When asked, you shared that you intend stand in your truth this year by holding fast to the understanding that you don’t need to have your whole life after college completely planned out, that you can just take it step by step. Oh Sarah, I wish I could stand sideline giving high-fives and waving my pom-pom’s about to cheer you on through this phase and in this truth. A year ago I stood in some version of your shoes, looking ahead to the future with confidence and eagerness and a whole lot of WHOA, WHAT NOW swirling in my belly. As you begin to close this big chapter of your life, here is what I want you to know… you’re not alone. This month and every month henceforth there will be women graduating college, giving birth to their first children, changing jobs, moving to different countries, suffering great loss, celebrating small victories, and will be, in sum, simultaneously in the process of discovering the person they are meant to become, the work they are here to do on this planet, and what in the heck it’s all going to look like.
The truth is, plan or not, the next year of your life, and life after college at large, will look nothing and everything like you could possibly imagine. I had trouble sleeping the night before we started our trek in Patagonia last month so I got out of bed before dawn and sat on the floor in the powder-blue tiled bathroom of Maria’s Hostel, cutting my nails, counting and reflecting upon the memories and mistakes of the past year. I leaned against the door and stared at the fluorescent light overhead and wondered what God was thinking in that moment. Silence. Taped next to the sink a printed sign “no lave la ropa – do not wash the clothes.” I had to laugh. If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be sitting on the floor of a bathroom in Chile in the kind of mental, physical, spiritual state I found myself experiencing, I would have thought they were out of their freaking mind. This is to say, the next year will be more outrageously beautiful and thrilling and fulfilling than you could hope. It will also challenge you to dig in to the deepest, most sacred parts of your soul to stay true to who you are and to fight through all sorts of exhaustion, loneliness, and missed turns.
You will meet many teachers. Some of them will come to you carrying the light. They are the universe’s way of telling you that you are powerful and beautiful and full of so much potential. They will hold you up like buoys when you get tired during the big swim. They will usher and encourage you to see and take paths that will help you stretch and grow and develop into the woman you’re meant to become. Some teachers will come into your life throwing big punches, they are, what an old friend used to call “the darkies.” They will make you wrestle with your idea of right and wrong and good and bad and test you, persistently, to hold on to yourself. You will duck and miss the blows most days but sometimes you’ll forget about the hook shot and you’ll be on your back seeing stars. It’s okay. This is all part of it. The toughest teachers will be the ones that look like they’re carrying the light, but are carrying something else. They will present you with some pretty sweet sounding opportunities and lifestyles. There will be a split-second lightning bolt feeling you’ll get in your chest when you first meet these teachers that sets you at dis-ease. Latch on to that! Remember this feeling. It is your intuition whispering to stay centered, stay true. Dig into those deep reserves of strength and surround yourself with those who love you unconditionally. They’ll remind you to not take the bait.
Try new things. Put yourself in environments and situations that push on the tender spots of your heart. Look hard. Listen hard. Watch the way people live and love. Be an observer of everything around you and all that you feel. When you are paying attention, the right paths and the “plan” for which you were put here to charge will be revealed to you. Try to block out the noise of “shoulds” that society or your tribe has prescribed for you. It’s your journey. Write it in YOUR pretty colors. As for a career, you very well may find yourself graduating with a degree in International Politics or Advanced Mathematics and taking a job at a grocery store stuffing tortellini in plastic cups for ten bucks an hour. It’s okay. That phase will be part of your becoming. In those places you will learn the dignity of hard work, the true meaning of community, and expand the breadth of your compassion for all people and all things.
You will laugh a lot. There will be days when all it takes for the wind to blow across your face a certain way and you will be moved to tears with gratitude for all that is. You will cry a lot. There will be nights where the questions and the confusion and the unknown will completely swallow you whole. You will make great choices, you will make really shitty choices. They all matter. When you find yourself in situations or relationships or places that in your gut you know to be pulling you away from who you are, find the courage to leave them. When you find yourself in situations or relationships or places that you know in your gut to be right and whole, find the courage to stay. Even if you’re scared to death. Joan Didion says, “we have to choose the places we don’t walk away from.” Sometimes it will be easier to run than it is to stay. It’s up to you.
If you want to see the world, do it. Nothing is stopping you. Go out and hear the bells ring on steps of Spanish Cathedrals, meditate in a Shinto temple, offer flowers and your secrets to the River Ganges, ride a bike in the rain through the farms of central Vietnam. If you feel called to go then go. You must. Remember too, though, that you don’t need to fling yourself across the globe to shift your perspective. A new place doesn’t change your life. You change your life. You will, at every moment of the next year, have the extraordinary gift of choice to redirect your sails. I will not look back on the past year and see our pilgrimage to Patagonia as the catalyst for closing chapters and starting new ones. I will see a girl sitting in the shower, weeks before mountains and rivers and glaciars with no tears left to cry, letting the water rush over her shoulders and taking the responsibility, FINALLY holding herself accountable, and deciding that she wanted things to be different in her life. Once I truly believed myself capable, a million answers to the million questions I had asked for months on end seemed to appear on the tub ledge, mine for the taking and making. Patagonia didn’t give me that. I gave me that. And you can, and will, too.
I quit my grocery store gig when I got back from Chile, almost a year after leaving San Diego and playing my first hand. I am grateful for what was, but time that I set intentions in my heart and to the people I love to be a better partner, better friend, and to set free alllll the lessons and teachers and triumphs and setbacks to make space for new ones. My truth, today, is different than it was last year and I know it will be different in six months, a year, and every year for the rest of my life but like you, I know that I can take it all step by step. Today if I meet someone at a coffee shop or the lobby of the DMV and they ask me what I “do” I will say I am a writer. I have no idea what that means, really, at least in the tangible sense, but I know just saying it out loud will help manifest my truth. I know that when you are brave and you are honoring of yourself and others, the world gets all sneaky and wonderful on you, wrapping you up in it’s arms to celebrate and support you to keep on. Hold on to those moments. Lap them up. Roll around in them and know that YOUR plan, and the kind of earnestness and passion it will take to discover, is perfect.
Go get ‘em Sarah. You’re right, you don’t need your life planned out after college. Stand in your truth and know that I am here, we are ALL here, doing cartwheels for you and the journey ahead.
Roasted Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- 1 ½ cups quinoa (dry)
- 6 small beets
- 6 radish bulbs
- 1 large head fennel, fronds reserved
- 1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 small red onion, diced
- ¼ cup minced chives
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 plump lemons
- ½ cup + 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
Bring 3 cups and a few extra tablespoons of water to a boil. Cook quinoa over medium heat for 15-18 minutes or until water is absorbed and the seed has germinated. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400.’ Rigorously wash the beets and radishes, as you will not be peeling them before roasting. Remove grimy tops and cut beets and radishes into fourths, then sixths or 8ths. You want large-ish, yet bit sized wedges. Cut fennel bulb in a similar fashion, top to bottom. Toss wedges of radish, beets, and fennel together with olive oil and salt in a parchment lined sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning veggies over to brown and soften on all sides.
In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped parsley, chives, diced red onion with cooled quinoa. In a small jar prepare the dressing by combining ½ cup olive oil, juice of 3 whole lemons, salt, pepper, and minced garlic cloves. Shake to combine.
Add roasted vegetables to the quinoa mixture. Stir in dressing to coat. Garnish with sprinkling of fennel fronds to finish.
To my complete amazement, Happyolks has been selected this year as a finalist in Saveur Magazine’s Food Blog Awards in the Best Cooking Blog category. It is humbling, thrilling, and outrageously affirming to stand next to friends and mentors in this. Truly. If you like an underdog story, head over and cast your vote for us by Friday, April 19.
01 . 05 . 13
We lounged on the couch all day on the first. No crisp morning run and green juice to follow. No, we just laid there, me curled in tie-dye and yoga pants, you in the flannel with the pink stain on the pocket from where your sharpie exploded in the spring. We ordered bad pizza and watched the new Bourne flick until it got dark and the streetlights out front turned on. You looked at me and reached for my hand at one point with a new look, one I haven’t seen you wear before, it said holy-shit-what-a-freaking-year. I felt the same thing but didn’t say anything. I took your hand and smiled. What a freaking year was right.
This picture has been the screen saver on my phone since it was taken in January of last year. We were home for my holiday break and everything that stood before us seemed bursting and bright, albeit completely undefined. I had one semester of school left and we intended to foster a few more dogs, run a few triathalons, and move. Move somewhere. Anywhere. Away from California, preferably, but we weren’t picky yet. You wanted snow, and I wanted interesting people. We were both undaunted by any of it until the spring. Crap. You mean we actually have to decide, now? New York, Denver, DC? I interviewed in Brooklyn while you filmed Sprout and we crunched the numbers. I wanted the job, but hated the city. Flying home I remember trying to summon every ounce of wisdom Paulo Coelho or Mary Oliver or Oprah would promise me I had inside to turn our sails the right way.
May came quick. I didn’t get the job in Brooklyn, thankfully, and DC got put on the shelf for later. I passed French 3 and marched to Pomp and Circumstance wearing a cap without a tassel or permanent address. We said goodbye to the ocean the next morning and hit the road. Alaska first. Big fish. Deep introspection. Hours of Mexican train dominos and the very best company. I didn’t know I could love so much outside of my own kin until your grandparents. I sold my car and we camped along I-80 until a flat tire parked us in front of the duplex in Denver that we now call home. You built me a garden, I learned about marmots and bears, mountains and altitude became our new addiction. We made fast friends. You traveled a lot for work, I missed you terribly.
At the end of the summer I got a “real” job and things changed, again, as they do. For the first time in my life I understood what exhaustion looked and felt like — you saw it in my eyes and in my distance. In the bowels of it all I met people, saw things, felt things that I didn’t even know myself capable. Things were hard. It felt like someone took our little snow globe and glued it to the ceiling, everything looked misshaped and backwards and we held each other upside down like that, so tight, shocked, stunned by it all. We were both free and trapped. Happy, but terrified. Bright eyed and blistered. There were mornings like the one after the first snow, we ran far and fast, in silence, our legs red and tingly from the cold, or that night of the Ben Howard show where I wondered if I was getting closer to or even further from myself, closer to or further away from you. It was a free fall. We made questionable choices, spoke important truths, and held on for dear life as the time and place tested all that we were, are, and will be.
I looked at the picture of us today, the one on my screen saver of you and me and Buddy, a whole year later, a year older and stronger, and see the best parts of it all. We were so happy. So darn certain that despite the hardship, heartache, and the dramatic changes that lay before us, our love would kick it all in the pants. I look at that picture and I want to go back and tell those two kids that, yeah, it’s gonna be a crazy road, CRAZY TOWN, but keep believing, keep going, because your love will kick life in the pants and guess what, IT TOTALLY DID. Sitting on the yellow couch with you eating pizza a year later, seven years later, really, I’m so glad we postponed our resolutions a day to just give thanks. We made it. It was our hardest and best year. For all the obvious and secret reasons I love you. I love you so much. I love what we do, I love what we believe, I love how fucking hard we work to make this relationship right. Here’s to you and to 2013. Here’s to the mountains we’ve climbed and the many more before us. We’ve got this.
Made a little money playing in the bars
With two beat up drums and two old guitars
From the Crescent City to the Great Salt Lake
It ain’t what you got, it’s what you make
When the road got rough and the wheels all broke
Couldn’t take more then we could tow
Making something out of nothing with a scratcher and our hope
With two old guitars like a shovel and a rope
Rock of Ages, cleave for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
Now I understand
On better terms since Birmingham
Shovels and Rope
Shaved Cauliflower Salad
Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit, 2012
- 1/2 head of a large cauliflower
- 1 medium sized radicchio, cored
- 6 inner celery stalks with leaves
- 1/4 cup chives
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup honey glazed walnuts
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 tsp water
- 4-5 medjool dates, pitted
Break out your mandoline and shave the cauliflower as thin as the setting allows. Shave the radicchio by hand with a sharp knife. Place in a mixing bowl. Remove celery leaves and toss into the bowl. Cut the remaining stalks into thin matchsticks and add to the mix. Add parsley leaves and chopped chives.
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Mix with the veggies and add lemon zest or more citrus juice and salt to your liking.
For the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350.’ Massage walnuts with honey and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 + minutes or until just toasty. Comine with salad mixture and serve at room temperature.
11 . 19 . 12
“What are you doing here?” He asked.
“I was waiting for you,” she replied.
He noticed that despite the passing years the woman looked the same; the veil hiding her hair had not faded with time.
She handed him a blue notebook full of blank pages.
“Write: A Warrior of the Light values a child’s eyes because they are able to look at the world without bitterness. When he wants to find out if the person beside him is worthy of his trust, he tries to see him as a child would.”
“What is a Warrior of the Light?”
“You already know that,” she replied with a smile. “He is someone capable of understanding the miracle of life, of fighting to the last for something he believes in – and of hearing the bells that the waves set ringing on the seabed.”
He had never thought of himself as a Warrior of the Light.
The woman seemed to read his thoughts. “Everyone is capable of these things. And, though no one thinks himself as a Warrior of the Light, we all are.”
He looked at the blank pages in the notebook. The woman smiled again.
“Write about the Warrior,” she said.
Paulo Coelho Warrior of the Light, A Manual
Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Lentils, Bacon, and Pear Salad
Inspired by the Brussels Sprouts Chapter in Nigel Slater’s Tender
- 2 lbs. brussels sprouts
- 2 Comice Pears
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup cooked bacon
- 1 cup De Puy Lentils
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
- salt/pepper to taste
Bring two pots of water to a boil. One for the lentils, one for blanching the brussel sprouts. Cook lentils for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, shred brussel sprouts by hand or in a food processer. Set aside. Cook bacon to a crisp and lay to rest on a paper towel until cooled. Chop and set aside.
Roughly chop hazelnuts and toast in a dry pan for 5 minutes until browned but not burned. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, dijon, honey, red wine vinegar, and salt/pepper. Set aside. When all accessory ingredients have been prepped, toss shaved brussels sprouts into the boiling water and blanch for no more than 1 minute. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water immediately. Dry with a salad spinner-dude or with towels. In a large bowl combine sprouts, cooked lentils, chopped bacon, and toasted hazelnuts. Cut in the slightest slivers of pear over the salad. Toss lightly with your hands before mixing in the dressing. Taste test for extra salt or dijon.
Hey, did you notice we got a facelift!? Thanks to the wonderful Megan Gilger and Aaron Wade for their savvy, kindness, and patience. Pardon the dust as I tidy up new bits and pieces of the site. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
11 . 07 . 12
There is a freight train of words and unfinished sentences inside me, pressing against my chest. It’s past midnight. I sit in the dark at Shaun’s desk wearing his black coat with the hole on the right arm. My feet are cold and I have to be at work in four hours but I feel like if I don’t write, right now, I will continue to feel paralyzed by the quicksand that has become of my brain. I stopped trying to be perfect a few months ago and in the absence of it’s restraint there is now this hole, a vacuum for new ideas, new people, and new experiences to flood its place. Everyone (myself included) talks about how liberating it is to follow your bliss, let go, be free, and to abandon expectations, but what nobody talks about is how fucking insane it can make you feel in the process. There are moments, like earlier tonight, when I am brushing my teeth or folding laundry when and I have to look down at my hands or touch my sacrum to remind myself that I’m still here. I’m still Kelsey. It’s borderline-terrifying when you look in the mirror and can’t recognize the person looking back at you. I’ve done so much thinking over the past few months that I swear to God it’s like I thought myself away from and out of my body.
There is a bench outside of my workplace that I spend most of my breaks. You’ll find me there these days watching people pass on their bikes, listening to the howls of the pool table at the bar across the street. It is my designated non-thinking bench. Really, it’s come to this. A place for fifteen minutes of peace from my own existence. Don’t think. Just sit. Just be. Just breathe here. Of course this non-thinking rule lasts for a whole minute until my phone blinks and reminds me that I have avoided more than a half-dozen phone calls from family and friends whose love and patience I probably don’t deserve right now. I remember the pile of bills and payment warnings from mid-summer blood tests sitting on my desk, a half-emptied suitcase from my last trip home, and the $13.00 library fine that restricts the release of my college diploma. These are all just things. Little things. Little things that mirror my high-speed chase away from all the calm, away from what could actually help me reach a finish line, a resolution, or at least a reset button. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. Is it possible that I’m cultivating a mess in my temporal, phsyical world just to match or trump the spiritual warfare that’s going on within? Yes. Probably. Crazy. Who does that? Crazy people. Break out the DSM-IV, Mom.
I met a woman the other day at a party. I was immediately drawn to her energy because she held herself with the kind of ease and confidence that I have so often craved to make constant in my own state of being. You know these kind of women, or, at least, the idea of these kind of women. The kind who wear old jeans and whispy bohemian blouses with their perfectly messy hair. They practice yoga, are genuinely kind to everyone, unflustered by common commotion of human existence, and ready at a moments notice to jump into the ocean completely naked. You know exactly who I’m talking about, right? There are these that come in and out of our lives that we see and know and think, God, you make it look so easy. Anyway. This woman. At the party. I listened to her talk and watched her move and realized that I WAS her. All those things I saw that felt so far away in that moment lived inside of me, too. The utter madness and dislocation I feel when I look in the mirror is part of the same woman who laughs until she nearly pees her pants, cries when lady bugs land on her arms, travels fearlessly through foreign lands, gives amazing hugs, believes love will change the world, eats cake for dinner, and sings Julie Andrews ballads at the top of mountains so even the goats can hear just how happy she is to be alive. Anyway, I’m realizing that I don’t crave being her, the woman at the party, I crave being more of myself.
I’ve been cooking. A lot, actually, through all of “this.” I’ve made chocolate chip cookies four times from the same recipe and tried, at each go, to melt with that same buttery pot of comfort back into my own skin. I got closer every time, you see. Really. I should probably keep making them.
All of this. These words. These midnight ramblings might be (probably are?) best kept locked in a folder on my desktop for a later date. Something I can look back on when I’m wise and gray and think, whoa girl, that was a dark place. But I’m going to release them here. Be free, words. Be free, mess. This is what a mess looks like, if you weren’t sure yet. I imagine you have had, seen, or felt, or dug through your own and had a panic moment somewhere in the process that you were straight up bat-shit crazy. You’re not. Well maybe you are, but we all are. You’re human. We’ve got this brain, a million sets of choices and paths to take and a thousand different ways to imagine what it will, can, or should all look like. I’ve gotta believe we all go through this, these WHO AM I, WHAT AM I DOING HERE, WHY AM I ALWAYS GETTING IN MY OWN WAY cycles of questioning. I’m standing at the brink of 23 and part of me thinks it would be crazier if I wasn’t experiencing some sort of existential reckoning. Right? Right.
I’m in it. Here. Now. Perfectly okay and perfectly not. I will come back to me. I will. I imagine I’ll be grabbing the mail one day and look up to the sky, feel the sun on my face, and see it all so clearly. Until then, I’ll be here, holding fast like an anchor in the storm and facing forward to all that this place has to teach me.
Butternut Squash and Farro with Honey Harissa Dressing
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (and hey, guess what, I’m giving away a copy on facebook!)
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 1/12 cup uncooked farro
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 honeycrisp apple, unpeeled and diced
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- Lug of olive oil
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp mint, julienned
- 1 Lemon, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp harissa powder
Preheat the oven to 400.’ Start with the squash. Peel and prep and cube the dude and lay out flat onto a well loved baking sheet with a douse of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or more until the edges are just browned. Meanwhile, bring the veggie or chicken stock to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the farro, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Strain and set aside for later.
For the dressing, combine liquids first: olive oil, citrus juices, and honey. Stir in cumin and harissa vigorously before adding the shallot and herbs. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine cooked farro, roasted squash, pine nuts, and the freshly diced apple. Cover with dressing and gently toss before serving.
08 . 28 . 12
An immediacy of regret ricocheted off of every hard surface in the house last week after we accidently clicked “publish” instead of “preview” for the eggplant stack post. An (extremely) rough draft of bubbling thoughts suddenly live, sent to 3000+ inboxes around the world. My heart sank. I wanted to chase after every visitor and beg, “Hey, wait! That’s not what I meant to say!” After reading your kind comments and emails I felt the need to briefly clarify, for my own sake, that I have no desire to leave this space. I have dedicated so much of my soul and time to this adventure with the explicit purpose of reaching, teaching, learning, and growing into the world. Growing into myself. Sharing stories and semblances of a journey to honor the one we each take, individually, every day and the one we share together as human beings. My “lingering concern,” as I so phrased it, about what Happyolks provides is more a matter of how I can use it better. How can I take this utility, this vessel, and infuse it with more light, deeper purpose, and greater authenticity. That is my work. And, I will very much keep working.
But, let’s move on. What I really want to talk about today is Mudita. Have you heard the term before? Mudita is sanskrit for the Buddhist vision of joy, more specifically sympathetic joy. Sympathetic joy, or appreciative joy as it’s also translated, is the pleasure and happiness experienced in delighting in other people’s well-being and good fortune. When you genuinely feel gladness for anothers success, the cultivated energy will uplift your own spirit and change the way you live and experience the world. My levels of sympathetic joy have been through the freaking roof lately. Friends and family are starting careers, opening new chapters, changing course, tackling big projects, getting married, having children. My heart feels so swollen with love and eagerness for these folks. The Mudita, sympathetic joy, I have cultivated in witnessing their lives and their passages has elevated my days in more ways than I could possibly describe.
Within this beautiful mess of joy, The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook. The culmination of years of hard work and soul-stretching has brought the world another beautiful artifact of love and passion. I am inspired. I am captivated. I am overwhelmed with happiness for this enormous success. You did it, Sara and Hugh. You really did it. Here’s our gathering, a gathering you both helped make. It is one instance, one night, where the world became a little better because of your grace and dedication. Congratulations, friends. Enjoy the ride! Recipes from film:
Sweet Corn Ceviche
Papaya and Red Quinoa Salad with Mexican Caesar Dressing
Chipotle and Apple Turkey Burgers
*** Music: Old Mythologies by The Barr Brothers. Purchase album here.
** Cookbook giveaway ran 8/28 – 9/7 and is now closed, thank you for all your kind comments.