Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chai recipe





One of our favorite hot drinks around here is my Chai tea. According to Manisha, a friend from Bombay, "Chai" just means tea. So I'm using it in the more American form which means "sweet, creamy, spicy tea from India".

A pot of boiling Chai spices brings most of our family members into the kitchen. "Do I smell Chai cooking?" is the query most often heard or "how long until the Chai is ready?" It's ready when it's ready. Kind of like learning and development.

Soooo....thought some readers might need a creamy, spicy, good-to-your-toes, warming-the-soul kind of drink for this winter. Great for taking with you into meditation areas, for book reading or creating art, but we enjoy it most often clustered around the table with good conversation.

You will need (mind you, there are 6 people in our little family):

5 cups water
5 cups whole, organic milk (yes, organic is better in every way)
3 heaping tsp. whole Cardomon (green pods are best, use level tsp. if not using pods)
2 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. dried ginger
4-6 cinnamon sticks
4-6 whole allspice
2 Tbs. Loose black tea (optional, we don't always add this but some folks can't have chai without it)
1/2 cup raw sugar (adjust to taste, or allow each person to add their own sweetener)

Place water and all spices on hot stove in large sauce pan, bring to boil. Cover and  lower heat to gently simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat. Add the black tea if using and let sit for 5 minutes with the lid on. Add the milk and sugar, then re-heat (do not boil).
Strain and serve with good humor, warmth and willingness to converse.

Enjoy! I can smell the spices now........
Oh, and now that you have the official recipe, you are expected to serve a pot when good friends come to visit. Yep, even if you live in the hot South.;)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Feel good video for today



This is a photo of my very uninhibited five year old, turning his breakfast crepe into a mask. Inhibitions are interesting things...they allow us to live in society, but they can also keep us from realizing our full potential if we are not mindful about their existence and just what effect they have on our psyche.

My friend Geri created "The Good News Network", which reports all the great things happening in the world. A video she had posted today, brought tears to my eyes. A man stands on the street with a "Free Hugs" sign as part of his Free Hugs Campaign. It's incredible what one human being can do and how letting go of inhibitions opens up the world in amazing ways.

I wondered if *I* would willingly stand on a street corner giving out hugs to strangers? Would you, could you?

Earlier this year, I watched a video about two men dancing on street corners, moving in whatever way they were inspired. It's interesting to watch the reactions and think about our own inhibitions and how that applies to the rest of our lives. Winter of the Dance is inspirational to me, encouraging me to step beyond the boundaries of what is "acceptable" in our society. You can watch the actual video HERE.

I want to dance more freely, I want to embrace that which moves my spirit regardless of whether someone thinks me "strange", I don't want to blend harmoniously with the whole (though at the spirit level I do....) I want to wear my own colors and be perfectly alright if they don't blend in. In short, I want to LIVE and be bold and be crazy and have no regrets when I take my final bow. I'm glad for the free spirits that remind us to do this each and every day!

Anonymous quote:
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention
of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up,
totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming to the universe:
Wow — what a ride!"

Monday, September 25, 2006

McElligot's Pool





There's a Dr. Seuss book titled "McElligot's pool" that we picked up from the library this week. A small boy is fishing in a tiny pond, in the middle of a pasture and is asked why on earth he's even bothering because there is only junk at the bottom. This delightfully imaginative child explains all the possibilities that could lie within this small pool. It MIGHT be connected to an underground river that flows underneath the town and out to sea.

He goes on to describe the colorful creatures that he could come in contact with: "I won't be surprised if a dog fish appears! Complete with a collar and long, floppy ears! Whoofing along! And perhaps he might chase a whole lot of catfish right straight to this place!"

At the end he declares: "Oh, the sea is so full of a number of fish, if a fellow is patient he might get his wish! And that's why I think that I'm not such a fool when I sit here and fish in McElligot's pool!"

The main character in this book is a true creative spirit. The creative side of us can see possibility everywhere. Even within the mundane or everyday objects and places there is possibility. It is that possibility to grasp a new idea, a new sight, sound or taste that keeps us poking and peering around the next corner, fishing for material in the strangest of places.

I see art in the street, in bathrooms and quiet puddles. I see it in the sky, in people's eyes and in dead birds. We are a type of fisherman, but it's not fish we're after, it's ideas, new material, inspiration....

There's a huge, swirling sea of ideas all around us if we see the world with an artist's eye. At an ATC trade in May I had the privilege of trading with a *young artist. He drew an interesting design on a blank card with the words inscribed "Art is art to those who see it". Smart guy! He's already figured out what so many miss...that art is a way of viewing the world, it's a shift in vision that allows us to find inspiration everywhere.

You've probably got a McElligot's pool right in your own backyard. Don't let the naysayers convince you there's only junk at the bottom, you'll never know what's possible unless you muck around for a bit! Let's go fishing, shall we?

*ATC created by Frederic Camden, traded May 2006 in Peabody MA (all of the Camden kids are really fabulous artists!)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sacred Space









When dealing with the topic of creativity and reclaiming our creative selves, the idea of sacred space often swirls up in conversation. I highly recommend spaces that help your spirit find peace, joy, inspiration...whatever it is that you need.

I have such a space. In altering the function of a closet in my bedroom, I created a meditation area. I was sitting in there tonight, looking around at the items I've chosen to surround myself with and pondering just what the magic combination is for each person. It isn't a static thing, my space is in constant flux as interest and need changes with the seasons of life. Right now, these are some of the items that have found a home in my sacred space:
~A plethora of books, ranging from art and spirituality to the more concrete anatomy and nutrition. Current favorites (some I've read, some are beckoning me) include "Succulent, Wild Women" by Sark, "The Sense of Wonder" by Rachel Carson, "Mamaphonic" edited by Bee Lavender and Mai Rossini, "Traveling Light" by Brian Andreas, "Wild Mind" by Natalie Goldberg, "The Birth House" by Ami McKay, "Brother Cadfael's Herb Garden" by Talbot Whiteman and my very favorites to look at, all the old books I collect like a drug addict.

~An altered shelf I created, upon which sits: A handmade clay tree purchased at Nelson's Fine art, a Quan Yin statue given to me by a dear person that I will never forget, an ATC that a new friend (Darlene) gave to me at the conference to encourage me. The words on this particular ATC are "I can visualize my dreams into reality".
There are other objects, too numerous to list, but all meaningful to my spirit in some unique way.

~A basket of meditation stones. It feels good to hold these, touch them, rub them as you focus on the word inscribed on the stone. The Goddess with the word "love" and the stone with "abundance" are two of my favorite. The large marble that looks like the earth is particularly appealing for some reason.

~A quilt made by my paternal Grandmother that lives in Manning Oregon who used to farm.

~Another quilt made of my late mother's clothing, a truly precious gift that my father gave to each of us girls.

~A buddha statue, looking all serious in the lotus position, next to some bird nests on the floor.

Just now, my sleepy children are snuggled up on pillows and blankets here in my room as I write. Sierra got her "bed" laid out just how she likes it and as she scooched down into softness she smiled brightly and said "It feels SO good to have my bed how I like it."

We all need places and spaces for dreaming. What do our spaces say about us? Are they fulfilling our inner desires for harmony and inspiration? Creating spaces that sing to the soul is important, though for each of us it will look so very different.

What are some of the items in your sacred space?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tea with Ren launch




Ok, so this is a measly start to what I forsee as a sparkly, interesting free-for-all. A friend suggested the title "Tea With Ren" for a book, after visiting my house many times and recalling the large pot of spicy, bubbling Chai I usually have on the stove for visitors. I'm not up for figuring out just what a book of that title would entail, but a blog? Heck yeah.

So here we go. Soon. I promise. Hope you stop by with some good comments, that always makes things more interesting.:) If you have a topic you'd like to see blogged about, feel free to drop me a line at my website, Learning in Freedom.

I figure this might be a good way to get all those thoughts swirling through my mind (night and day) out of my system so I can learn how to sleep like a normal person. Might work, might not. Either way, you'll know exactly what a neurotic mind comes up with in the wee hours of the morn (or night, depending on how you view it!).

Speaking of morn, it's now almost 1am and my babies are probably tired....time for some snuggles...but maybe another cuppa tea first.:)