Motherhood. Motherhood blankets around me like a familiar fragrance. The scent of low self esteem mixed with over confidence, the uncertainties of direction and vocation flood my mind with images and sentences, while my arms struggle to carry the large paper bag full of groceries, I purchased as if with a blindfold on. What am I to make with all of this? How am I to prepare with these tiny tinctures, questionable edibles, and elegant fixings? Oh there are days, hours, and weeks in which I travel through the day as if on cruise control. Am I enjoying the scenery? Do we ever? Instead, I am fussing and fixing. I am planning and signing. I am answering and demanding. I am apologizing and excusing. I am showering and I am bathing. I am feeding and I am wiping. I am referring and I am wheeling and dealing. I am not a gambler, but I am taking risks beyond measure. There are choices, voices, and stirrings to prevent burnings. For me to sit back and relax seems so far from my reach. My eyes fail to stay alert, they are closing without my knowledge. When they open, it is a new day, but the scenery behind me will once again be a chaotic blur like a drunken stupor, but it’s not. It is motherhood at her finest. It is me in the refiner’s fire. It is me in the lions den with three little kids. It is me in the greatest chronicle of my life.
Ever catch yourself saying something over and over again? I am not so much meaning profanity when things aren’t going accordingly to plan or plans, but I have said at least 4 times in the last couple of days to 1, “Well, that’s just how the cookie crumbles.” Where on earth did this quote emerge from within the many random facets of my subconscious?
There is never a dull, a quite for too long moment in motherhood. I know. I understand. Three little ones never stopping for air just causes me to become beside myself. There are moments when I no longer recognize me. Am I laughing at a Disney show with Vin Diesel? Wait Vin Diesel is in a Disney movie-when did this happen?
Despite the crazy stresses of life, finances, lack of groceries, clothes with holes, stained carpets, chipped glasses, broken drawers, and not enough spoons for everyone, this is just the how the cookie is crumbling these days. When I feel stressed, I bake. When I bake, I eat. Let’s just say there has been a lot of baking and eating and observing the unrealistic amount of crumbs on the table.
The perfect storm, could it be coming to its final end? I am not sure. It still remains poking its ugly face here and there, but yesterday important discoveries have began to wash up from the shores. Are there causalities of innocence being taken down by a recess oppressor? I keep praying for more understanding. More revelation. More assurance as this storm remains steadfast against the windows of our house, I diligently try to remain focus. I am looking through this storm for the face of truth which sets free.
Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Inspired by Post Punk Kitchen)
1 ¾ cups almond flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cups coconut sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon flax meal
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
How To Play:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flax meal and almond milk. Add sugar and stir, add oil and vanilla and whisk vigorously until all ingredients are emulsified (about a minute).Mix wet ingredients into dry, fold in chocolate chips. Drop batter by the tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet, leaving and 1 1/2 inches of space in-between cookies. Bake for 10 -12 minutes.
This betrayal hit me in the face. I could taste the blood in my mouth as I drove away from the tennis court. You standing- defeated and caught, with your shoulders weighed down by the hopeless guilt. The “not wanting to hurt me”, but knowing very well it was going to be a painful road to recovery. The charcoal tennis racket in your hand was a symbol of the anger and hatred of this situation. Staring back through the reviewer mirror, I made my escape from the humiliation and from the Emo girl with the fake English accent. Her blood rush, head rush, hush –hush, next crush, crushed me against the wall. A wall I thought no longer existed, resurfaced itself as a bridge. A bridge like the patriarchal artifact destroyed in Remagen, no longer to be in the shadows of the Rhein, but to be exposed as a sign of hope, hope that comes after a cruel battle. I drove stunned. I was lied to. Deceit the wicked foe! I shouted. There were so many questions left open for me that September day. A 9-11, however the answers were written underneath the bridge, as fragments and debris washed about my ankles. Pain is a puzzle to solve and a puzzle to step over. A ghost, a figure from your past, was what I became that day. You said you knew me, because I was so much like you. But if you really knew me, how could you lie right to my face?
Image Credit: Max Liebermann
My heart weighs heavy as I wait in the line; the line that crosses the border between right and the undetermined wrong. What defines fair? Gravity, a law within its own, can’t defend the accusations, the shakiness I have standing over the bridge we’ve made together. I’m praying, screaming, and refusing to let gravity push me into the troubled currents of torment below. Is nothing really as it seems? Can a trust really live up to the responsibility it proclaims to possess? If I search the depths, if I search the questions, which are mutating in my hands, if I search the quest of true repentance like a gentle nobleman, a gentle physician, a gentle inquirer, will I eventually see my Lover’s eyes? My Beloved‘s face? My Admirer’s heart? A heart that beats for only me?
Being from the coast, I remember countless times of being at my grandparents’ house, a house situated right on the beach, and my parents taking their aluminum motor boat out into the depths of the West Coast sea. My sister, grandparents, cousins and all the rest of the family, would sit around the bonfire telling stories. I was quite young, so probably didn’t make for an interesting conversation piece, but never will I forget my foot being scorched by an ember from the fire that was hidden underneath all the ash. My uncle came to the rescue by pouring his cold beer all over my 5 year old foot. My grandma would often collect oysters along the shore and fry them up for the next evening’s dinner. If mom and dad caught a salmon, then it would be there for dinner time as well, with new baby potatoes from grandma’s garden, along with some beans, and last but not least ketchup for Papa. A Vancouver Island dinner, a true living off the land and sea kind of meal. Well, this dinner isn’t so much a Mountain man experience, but Sean did catch the fish I used to go along with this meal, from the West Coast of Vancouver Island this summer. I baked salmon with a smudge of mayonnaise, squirt of lemon juice, a dash of dill, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of grapeseed oil. This is a wonderful dish for a BBQ, a luncheon, or as a simple side platter rested upon fresh cut tomatoes. The Chickpea Medley is from Oh She Glows. When I make this, I find myself eating it for lunch, dinner and then lunch again for the next day. I also prefer parsley over cilantro, but either way, it is super yum.
Green Chickpea Medley
For the chickpea medley:
2 cups dried/uncooked chickpeas (makes 5.5-6 cups cooked)
1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
1.5 cups cilantro, large stems removed (or parsley)
3/4 cup red onion, chopped finely
For the dressing:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
3/4 tsp kosher salt + ground pepper
How To Play:
1. To cook chickpeas: Soak 2 cups dried chickpeas in a large bowl of water overnight. Drain and rinse the beans in the morning and add to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, until fork tender, about 40 minutes
2. Rinse and drain the spinach and cilantro (or parsley). Spin until dry in a salad spinner.
3. In a food processor, add the spinach and cilantro and pulse until chopped very small. Add the processed spinach and cilantro, drained cooked chickpeas, and chopped onion into a large bowl and stir.
4. In a small jar, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, maple syrup, and salt.
5. Pour the dressing on top of the spinach chickpea mixture and stir well. Let stand for about 10 minutes (or overnight) to let the flavors develop.
The spring air was particularly warmer than usual, as was the sun, merciless. I felt as though every hour, I had to reapply my underarm deodorant, along with my FCUK toilette spray. I admired its citrus fragrance. It made feel light. I was in a transition. I had been 10 years late of caring about appearance and beauty, but Grace had a way of influence. Lies I had believed in my youth about women being the weaker vessel, the damsel in distress, and used as a mere sex objects, plagued much of my androgynous existence. I was shy. I was insecure. However, over many night talks and after class lunches, an acceptance and repentance began to rest on my lips. It was the beginning of the maturing, the making and the transforming, I was too afraid to confess. To be the girly girl, I was not, but I wanted to be her, in the deepness of my heart, I really did. I just didn’t know how to be become her. I was a girl, I was a young lady, and I was one day going to be a wife, a woman, a feminine incarnation of softness and nurture. A reality I had covered, masked, and veiled, due to fears of rejection, shame, and failure, was beginning to unravel itself before my naked eyes. I no longer wanted the heaviness of these hateful rags defining and identifying me. I was not happy; it was a new time for me to be who I was to be. A process I proceeded to go through, with the leading and kindness of the new season, much like this humid day.
Grace reapplied her lipstick, fixed her charcoal beret in the bathroom mirror. As she walked through a mist of red jeans perfume, she pulled from her bookshelf a wooden, gold embroidered box. She hesitatingly affirmed it and took from its possession, a shiny blue stone. An impressive stone, in which had been a part of her life, laid dormant for the last seven years, was her reminder of a broken heart, a painful loss, and a failed expectation. Perhaps this is why she was grace. She embodied it, embraced it, displayed it and spoke it, but this blue stone was her thief and a cruelty she could no longer afford to hold on to. It held a captivating power in which Gracie no longer depended on. She put the sacred might in the pocket of her denim jacket, wrapped her scarf around her neck, took a deep breath, and then looked up at me. Today was the day; the release of all control, the release of all manipulation. This was the day the fear of the unknown would be forever buried in the bed of the Fraser River.
[Image Credit: Val Robinson]
When I prayed for a husband, I prayed. I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed. Gracie and I would cry together wondering how we were twenty -something years old with no potentials in the forecast. She lived in a cedar bungalow in the backyard of a well groomed house. The magnolia I would pass under, each visit would continue to greet me, as it changed with the season. The grass, without fail, faithfully would dampen my feet, as if to say, “You can’t control us, we will dampen your feet one way or another, whether it be dew or rain”.
Gracie’s place was like a fort; a fort amidst the Fort. It was a meeting place. It was a safe place, a place in which we could lay our burdens down. It was a framed structure of antique eloquence; a stain glass mirage of spoken wishes with fairy tale kisses. The ambiance was home. The music was fine elements of mood and classical savory. Fondu, song writing, and Elderflower Presse, these times were fond and life forming.
With the glow from candlelight and with the softness of wine induced splendor, jealousies would at times rise up like the incense burning on the stove. Was one favored? Was one more beautiful? Perhaps one desired more attention, while the other demanded it. Said to be the center of attention, I didn’t ask for it. I longed to be loved and appreciated. Deep down, I know I was, but misunderstood was a party favor I was often given. Outside of this life of familiarity and simple commonness, was another life of spirituality. My life friends these were, but on the other side of the Valley’s hills was the birthplace of my spiritual family. The family that would shape me, challenge me, and display for me; over and over again, the grace of God.
[Image credit: Ginette Callaway]
Sometimes it gets incredibly boring making dinner, right? Over the summer, Sean told me how I was slipping. Not the kind of words you want to hear when you are one who likes to take dinner, or any meal at that, seriously. Was I slipping? Not really. What is wrong with protein shakes and cereal? Ok, ok, I was super BORED! I admit it and yes, dinners were kind of the last thing I was really thinking about. Last week, however, I was able to visit my favorite restaurant in Victoria, Rebar. Inspiration has once again come forth. I love Rebar and my Rebar cookbook. It has been sitting on the shelf way too long. So here we go. Here is a new staple dinner for us. So long protein shakes and cereal, we will just be seeing in the morning now.
Rebar Caesar Salad
(inspired by Rebar)
1 bulb roasted garlic (see below)
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp caper juice
1 1/2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp cracked pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil (I used less)
extra Parmesan cheese for garnish
How To Play:
Combine all of the ingredients, except oil, in a blender or food processor and blend. Add olive oil in a slow, thin stream. Correct seasoning to taste.
Serve, toss the dressing with washed , dried and torn romaine lettuce, or any one you fancy, add fresh croutons, garnished with Parmesan, fresh cracked pepper and lemon wedges.
Whole Roasted Roasted Garlic:
2 garlic bulbs
2 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of cracked pepper
How To Play:
Preheat oven to 400. Using a sharp knife, slice the top off the garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the garlic flesh. Center each bulb on a square piece of aluminium foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the bulbs securely and pop them into the oven.
After 45 minutes, test the bulbs by slipping the sharp point of a paring knife into one of the cloves. If is slides effortlessly or the bulbs are starting to poke out of their skins, then the garlic is ready to serve.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets:
Boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in chunks
1 cup brown rice GF cereal, blended finely
dash or two of paprika
2-3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
salt and cracked pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp Flax Meal
1/4 cup almond milk
Grapeseed oil for frying
How To Play:
Make the crumb coating by mixing blended cereal, spices, and parsley and cheese, place in bowl. In separate bowl, combine flax and almond milk, stir and let sit for a few minutes. Dip raw chicken pieces in flax “eggs” and then dip into crumbs. Place on a heated skillet and fry away until no longer pink in the center.
Again, I am reminded of Georgie. She had sparkled cold blue eyes. She was winter and wore it well. She embraced the season with purity and integrity. Her friendship meant well, I know it did, but 25 held a dark place in her heart. She needed to leave this scene. To get away. She had been too long and too many began to see her and her colors. They weren’t all put together like a promise, but a broken child, unleashed against the weasels, stoats, and ferrets. When she left, her books and memories stayed behind; all of them, tucked away unharmed, in a box in the attic. They are pieces of her in words, her words, her sayings, written by her favorites: Tolkien, Lewis, and Montgomery. Sadness belonged to my dear friend, but there was hopefulness, as well. A vessel lost at sea, lost in transition, lost in process. Community and communion, a longing and desire, she taught this well. In her heart, she could not rest. She could find no contentment. She could find no home.
I am not bitter. I used to be, but through time, bitterness has become a forgotten person, an old story, a vintage headline. Today I am in a continual process of learning and accepting. I am embracing, and yes, let’s be honest, sometimes rejecting the ongoing whirlwinds and twisters of an identity, a destiny, an image, and a stereotype, and all the misconceptions and misunderstandings that go along with that of MOTHERHOOD. I am the mama in the hood. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine life before all this, before life became so practical and inconvenient, so easy, but yet so complicated. I like to watch people. I am fascinated. What compels or leads, influences or helps-whether past or present- to choose the choices we choose to make for the day? Is it an image we are aspiring to be?- Or not to be? Some folks appear gravely lost in thought, while others are engaged in silent conversation through iphones, smartphones,blackberries-oh my! While others carry the weight of their world on their faces.
For myself, I cannot escape the thought that each one of us has come from somewhere. As I am a pioneer for this life, I am paving a path for my children. Those before me, like great grandmothers and grandfathers, did so with such limitations. They had limited resources and linear dimensions. Our 3-D omniscient society has become the big brother it fought so hard not to be. George Orwell was right. 1984 has come and is not going anywhere, anytime soon. There are times I want to escape and build a cabin in the woods, like Thoreau. How inviting it would be to live off the land, to bake fresh wholesome bread, hearty stew, and paint autumn skies with fallen leaves with the resources at bay. To have the heat from the fire soothe the dampness from the children’s faces as they lay on their multicolor earth-tone oval wool rug, drawing their favorite things. My love would be outside in the mass of solitude cutting wood and carving pieces of it to make furniture for our quaint little life. But life isn’t quaint. There are meetings and deadlines, agendas and commitments, interruptions and phone calls. There are places to go as well as places to be. It is history repeating itself in full force. Nothing is new, this has all been done before and this will all be done, once again. However, how wonderful it is I am doing this- this life, this journey, this age in year, with the people I have grown to know and to love so deeply. My busy life may not be the cabin in the woods, but in my heart there is a solitude unquenchable.