Hi, it’s me again…September 4th, 2008
I’ve been avoiding you. I’m sorry.
It just didn’t seem like I had much to say this summer, between double espressos and white pasta dishes. My mind was racing a hundred miles an hour, dashing from irritation to resentment. And when the intensity faded and the race track cleared, I was left with grief… the stinking hot tar of grief. And I didn’t feel like sharing.
In the last weeks of her life, my mother and I spoke about my future. I told her that, although I was very glad to have moved back to Toronto–that it was full of valuable, often painful lessons–I felt like a square peg in a round hole there. No matter how much I tried to wrestle Canadian culture into what I needed it to be, and no matter how much it tried to pack my childhood neuroses back into my psyche, it just wasn’t working. I didn’t fit anymore and it felt bad. My mother gave me her blessing to leave our hometown. She understood.
When I was little, I remember my mother saying, on more than one occasion “if I were ever to live anywhere outside of Canada, it would be in England. I’d like to be near the sea.” Now, it’s important to understand that my mother was a very practical person, not disposed to staring out of windows, misty-eyed, pronouncing her dreams and visions. None of us ever thought she’d actually end up in England–as far as we were concerned, it was just something that she said, like “you can’t modify the word ‘unique’” and “will you get me some chicken McNuggets?”.
But Mum was tuning into was her dream. She was receiving little flashes of it many years before it manifested fully, but it was there. And at the age of 55, after a few midlife crises and a some fruitful years in therapy, my mother–much to the amazement of her friends and family–left smug and snug Toronto and headed straight for the sea. She bought a flat in Cornwall, in the west of England and pronounced that she would spent six months of every year there from now on.
I’m only beginning to realize the courage it took for her to leave. Yes, it was an English-speaking country and yes, she had the financial resources to do it comfortably, but as I age, I understood more deeply how yang and contracted we become over time. To bust out of a safe, respectable and familiar environment and expand into the relative unknown–at 55–takes some balls. But something inside of her was pushing and pushing, and it wasn’t going to stop.*
Within a year, my dear mum, who hadn’t been in a relationship for fourteen years, met the love of her life and her plans to return to Toronto became a joke. Clearly, by following her intuition, she had put herself in the right place at the right time. The last fourteen years of her life she just got happier and happier. She discovered macrobiotics, her spirituality and her life became a dream infused with love from every direction.
So I landed in California two weeks ago. It’s the place that’s been calling to me for the last five years, but if I’m really honest with myself, I’ve had a fascination with it since I was a child. I’ve lived here once before–for a few months–and every time I’ve been here I have felt more myself, and more aligned with my work in the world than I do anywhere else; macrobiotics and hypnosis are practically mainstream in Southern California, and a huge percentage of hits on this site come from this hot, shaky, celebrity-dotted desert. It’s not where I’m from, but it’s home. I’ve moved into an apartment in a magical bamboo forest, owned by some macrobiotic friends, Eric and Sanae, who live just next door. I’m very, very happy. Listening to that little voice inside produces a happiness nothing else can match. Although I miss my family and friends in Toronto deeply, I can hear my mother somewhere, cheering.
*For a great example of having a dream and acting on it, see Man on Wire.
It’s the time of year for settling foods–foods that help stabilize blood sugar and tonify the stomach, spleen and pancreas. As summer lays down like a panting dog, our bodies need to settle down from all the expansion, in preparation for autumn’s contraction. This time of year is known as Late Summer and its foods are sweet vegetables, sweet rice and millet. Its taste is (you guessed it) sweet. The harvest is coming in and life is very sweet and abundant. So here’s a squash soup recipe by my friends, from their book, Love, Eric and Sanae:
Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Potage
Makes 4 servings:
For the Kidney Beans:
1/4 cup kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
2 cups water
1-inch strip of kombu
For the squash soup:
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 cups water
2 pinches sea salt
2 pinches curry powder
1 tablespoon white miso
1/2 cup rice milk (unsweetened)
To make the kidney beans:
1. Soak the beans in ample water for 4 to 6 hours. Drain.
2. In a large pot with a lid, combine the beans, water and kombu and bring to a boil.
3. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until beans are fully cooked and still retain their shape.
To make the squash soup:
1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash, slice in half, and remove the seeds. Coarsely chop the squash and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, warm the oil. Saute the onions lightly for a few minutes.
3. Add the carrots, squash, and water, and simmer for a few minutes.
4. Add the sea salt and curry powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Transfer vegetables to a blender. Add the miso and rice milk and puree until creamy.
6. Transfer to a large bowl or pot, gently stir in the whole beans and serve.