it’s about time

cavernWhat is time?  What is time for?

The measurement of a breath, the space between breaths.

Sleeping, waking, toil, and play.

The passage of a season in planting, tending, harvesting, and preservation.

The celebration of birthdays, holidays, moments of intensity.

The currency of our lives.

In the time it took for me to mulch my tomatoes, a family of sparrows hatched and fledged from an abandoned harvest basket on our porch.  The sparrows and I were busy with the same work – toiling with the materials at hand in an effort to feed our families.  The sparrow children grew up faster than ours, though some days, it feels like it may have just been a week ago that ours were born, too.cute kids

Time stretches and contracts.  It is constant but not consistent.

Once I heard my Tibetan Buddhist friends say that time is our own creation.

They weren’t talking about creation in the Biblical sense, of dividing the day and night. They were talking, as they often did, about perception, and our perception of time. In this age, when busy-ness is glorified and nearly inescapable, it’s worth consideration.

If we didn’t create the way we look at time – who did? If we didn’t decide how to use our precious time – who does? Who tells us whether “time is short” or “we have all the time in the world”? We do. We learn it early on, from others who have learned before us. And we are given training in schools to unify our perceptions and hustle when the bell rings, regardless of the task at hand. We are not taught to question this perception, and it takes a substantial degree of study and reflection to re-train these perceptive reflexes. Here lately I’m thinking it’s a worthy effort.

There are never enough hours in my day. I’ve heard myself say and think that phrase over and over. How exhausting!  It’s high time to break that habit.  Not that I will all of a sudden get everything done that I hoped to do in a day, but maybe I will be relaxed about the fact that my life is full.  It’s full of beauty, food, friends and family.  Full to bursting with the stuff of life and love.  What is time for but to love?

Last year, as we tapered off our writing habits, it felt like there was just too much going on to be able to write about it and be honest. And of course there wasn’t time.

Now, it feels like there’s too much going on, and to NOT write about it wouldn’t be honest. There’s no more or less time than ever. But I have missed this place to share thoughts at hand, visions, the beauty of life out here, so I’m choosing to take the time.

Because, this is another important thing that time is for – sharing.geese and girls

 

yoga, a photographic demonstration

Here we are, before we begin practicing yoga.  There’s a lot of life here.  Lots of good stuff.  Plenty to learn, and room to grow.  But it’s kind of chaotic.  Unorganized.  Wild.beginning

So, we start doing some asana.  By “asana” I mean a series of physical exercises designed to stabilize and strengthen our bodies so that we can function on a higher level and fulfill our obligations without undue stress or pain.  We stabilize what is wobbly, strengthen what is weak, and stretch what is stiff.playing mule

Those exercises can by nature be a bit strenuous.

scything oatsscything oats 3

asanaBut in the end, we have this.  We are clean.  The question is – what now?clean and green

Something is bound to happen.  Will we return to chaos?  That would be easy.weeds long

Having lived long enough to know that we do not have control over everything that happens in life, we can now consider how to most effectively participate in the co-creation of our world.  If we cannot MAKE something happen, we can at least shape our response to life’s flow.  A good way to engage in this process is through pranayama (breathing exercises).  This work incorporates the bodily strength and flexibility gained in asana (physical exercises) and applies the power of the breath to our internal energetic system.  Breath is powerful stuff.  How we breathe can change how we sleep, how we wake, how we think, and how we feel, to name just a few.  It’s a long term project.  We might feel different after a singular practice, but we will feel VERY different after months, or years, of practice.

garlic planted

participationbeautiful

Pranayama leads naturally toward meditation and prayer.  It’s like a yellow brick road, or Hansel’s stones glittering in the moonlight.  The beautiful silent work of meditation, the powerful connectivity of prayer, are amplified by the practice of asana (to make our bodies comfortable) and pranayama (to turn down the static of our mental/emotional states).  Whatever our faith, our path to connect with that which cannot be seen, the deep attentive self-control and focus gained through this integrated yoga practice takes us deeper along the way.strawberry flower

monarch 1susanas9three peeksIt’s a work with no end in sight.  No kidding.  But it’s a good work, and the rewards are abundant beyond measure.robesoncukes and tomatoesglass gem grouptime 5

the stretch

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did. It was family and food fun time, all around.

As has become somewhat common these days, some of our clan has adopted some non-traditional-Thanksgiving-friendly eating methodologies. It’s for the sake of their health, so it’s all for the best, but gluten-free vegan Thanksgiving dinners are just a little different. The cornbread stuffing is excellent. Salads are always great alongside brussel sprouts.  The pie is where I had to stretch.stretch vegan

Being a yoga instructor, I believe in stretching.  I’m willing.

However, I find some of the vegan and gluten-free recipes in the world to be weird. There are too many ingredients that aren’t real ingredients for this radical in the kitchen. I can deal with a little gluten-free baking mix for the sake of the cranberry pear pie crust (which is a family favorite) but I was struggling with pumpkin and sweet potato pies. No milk? No eggs? Not even the really good ones? Really?

stretch forks over knives

coree’s version of forks over knives.

Cashews to the rescue. Not local. But neither was the vanilla from our friend Henry in Costa Rica. After all, this is America. And even though the purple sweet potatoes were grown right here, who knows where to trace their origins? I sometimes wonder if all food originated on this planet.

It was a successful stretch. Maybe even a new tradition.stretch pie

And speaking of stretches, I’ve let one go by here lately. It was Lulah’s birthday. She turned ten years old. The stretch of birthing her brought me into motherhood, which has been a vigorous decade-long stretching regime.  stretch lulah 2

Even as a young girl, when I played family games I thought I would have a daughter. But I could never have guessed what that would really mean. The spectrum of my emotional palette has been extended beyond my imagination. Through tenderness, and tiredness, to incredible frustration I have been tugged and pulled and pushed and stretched these ten years. It has aged me, and more importantly, it has matured me. It has increased my understanding of humanity. And it is all about love. Even in the most heated moments of frustration, my love for this daughter of mine is complete and unfaltering.stretch mothering

The process of her growth amazes me at every turn. She is so much the same, but so much more of herself. I guess that is how incarnation works. So we are all like that. It is just the position of the parent to witness that growth from right up close.stretch little lulah

stretch demi lovato

the demi lovato look.

As usual, a good stretch is healthy and increases our over all strength and vitality.

I’m honored. I’m thankful. I’m the mother of Lulah.

Here’s the Vegan Purple Sweet Potato Cheesecake recipe, adapted with gratitude from here:

Crust:

1 ½ cups almonds, or almonds cut with other nuts

¾ cup pitted dates

Chop in a food processor until mashable.

Mash into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.

Filling:

4 cups baked sweet potato, pureed – preferably purple

3 cups cashews, soaked overnight

¼ cup dates, soaked overnight

¾ cup maple syrup

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup lemon juice

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

½ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp ginger

Blend all the ingredients except the sweet potatoes in the food processor until well pureed. Pour into a bowl and mix in the sweet potatoes by hand. It’s satisfying to watch the colors blend. Spread onto the nut crust and freeze for a few hours so it will slice clean. Enjoy. (I’m pretty sure you will.)