A nightly habit that's become a multi-year tradition ..
The last thing I do before heading off to bed is .. I sit with my thoughts .. and pen a few sentences in my journal. My attempt at highlighting the small and to capturing the good.
“Lunch with my Mom today .. red toe-nail polish .. cooking from my favorite cookbook .. Sunday morning pancakes .. an afternoon at the fair with my Sweetie”
Every now and then I'll page back to previous years. The me I was then, with a lot of patterns, routines, and habits I no longer keep. Some I miss and others I'm glad I've left behind.
I smile to see what I defined at the time .. as having been a really good day
“He made me dinner. It's fun to get a promotion. Booked my beach vacation. Closed on my first house“
This weekend I was reminded why I'd started my ritual .. and the reasons I've continued. Realizing the notion of a good day can be
Those who know me well will attest .. I'm not a huge fan of social media.
My weekend check-in serving as a reminder .. as I read an unfortunate message that lay in wait. Like a dark ghost from a life lived so long ago .. its words were pointed .. and meant to hurt.
I sat with it for a while .. “Just brush it off”
Thought about eating cookies .. “You've lost your taste for sweet”
Picked up the phone to call my husband .. “Collect yourself first .. this is yours to handle”
Turned on some favorite music .. “They're just words .. you're ok”
Took the puppies for a short walk .. “Always be mindful of the darkness in this world”
Finally .. I reached for my life-saving list .. things I know make me feel centered and ok again .. during a bout with post-traumatic stress. “Your life is so .. very .. different now. You left all of that behind. It's not who you are anymore “
Four years have passed since I saved the link to a David Brook's article about lives well lived. In it .. he asks people over the age of 70 to write essays about the things in their lives they've done poorly .. and those they've done well.
It's one of a handful of articles I read frequently .. finding their perspectives and wisdom to be so great to read. Brooks goes on to summarize some of the common themes that run through their stories
A few of my favorites?
You can't control other people: Alas how true
Lean toward risk: Most regretted the risks they didn't take .. than regret the ones they did
Measure people by their growth rate, not by their talents: Highlighting the story of a woman who kept on growing .. all throughout her life
“But hers is a story of relentless self-expansion. I wonder how we can measure that capacity?” ~ David Brooks
People get better at the art of living:
“Don’t stay with people who, over time, grow apart from you. Move on. This means do what you think will make you feel okay — even if that makes others feel temporarily not okay.” ~B. Clewly Johnson, retiree
Beware of rumination: Many of the most impressive people were strategic self-deceivers. They didn't insist on obsessing over certain events in their lives .. because it only reinforced the very emotions and feelings they were trying to avoid. What did they do instead? Either forgot it .. forgave .. or were
So tonight I’m heeding the wisdom of those who have lived longer than I
Earlier .. I'd have been inclined to label this a bad day .. though the re-centered me knows this wouldn't be true. That good vs bad isn't the same as hard vs easy.
Certainly, the days in my journal that have smileys were good .. but I wonder if that's because they were easy as well. Memories cloaked as fun .. happy .. light .. productive .. efficient
As I look back on that season of my life from whence the dark ghost appeared .. my first instinct is to hide under the bed .. and equate it all as bad. But that wouldn't entirely be true either
The good days too .. are those in which we grow .. the times when we struggled .. and learned .. and fought. These were the days when I built a career .. a house .. had children .. and a life.
The good days too are those where we got out of bed to face another day .. make another Pb & j .. and clean the house. They're filled with persistence .. grace .. endurance .. patience .. forgiveness .. and an awful lot of love
Even when it's love through clenched teeth. Especially when it's the kind through clenched teeth
Really .. they're all good days
Tonight I put a smiley at the bottom of the page. Not because I skipped the cookies but because I left that part of my life behind.
I'm proud of myself that I took the time and did the work .. so I wouldn't make the same mistakes again and again. Proud because I've kept close words of wisdom .. from those who've gone before.
Proud that I have a list to turn to when flash-backs catch me mentally unprepared. No longer do I fall apart (for very long).
No .. instead this is a day to celebrate .. because I realize it all
I was surprised by generous handfuls of herbs .. parsley .. cilantro .. arugula .. and chard the recipe called for.
Instead .. herbs are the heart and soul of the pie .. not just an accent. That's saved for the cheese. Olive oil binds the phyllo together (instead of butter). A little bit of lemon zest for a bit of magic.
The end result is light .. fresh .. and reminds me of Moosewood's Spanakopita .. with a lot more herbs
~ Adapted from The Guardian
Savory Herb and Cheese Pie
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + extra for brushing the pastry
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 ll. Swiss chard stems and leaves finely shredded but kept separate
- 4-5 stalks celery thinly sliced
- 6-8 scallions white and green parts, chopped
- 2 ounces of arugula
- 1 oz flat-leaf parsley chopped (~ 1/2-3/4 cup)
- 1 oz fresh mint chopped
- 2/3 oz dill chopped fine
- 4 oz ricotta cheese crumbled
- 4 oz aged cheddar grated
- 2 oz feta cheese crumbled
- grated zest of 1 lemon ** a good place to choose organic
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt + more to taste
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
- 9 ounces phyllo pastry
- Preheat the oven to 400F
- In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil.
- Add the onion and sauté for 8 -10 minutes, without browning.
- Add the chard stems and the celery and continue cooking for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the chard leaves, stirring as they cook for another 4 or 5 minutes .. or until the leaves have wilted
- Add the scallion/green onion, arugula and herbs. Cook for an additional 2 minutes or so
- Remove from the heat and transfer the mix to a colander to cool.
- Once the mixture is cool, squeeze out as much water as you can and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- (** Note: I've found a Go to Amazon - Nut Bag works the best when it comes to squeezing out excess water)
- Add the three kinds of cheese, lemon zest, eggs, salt, pepper. Mix well
- Lay out a sheet of phyllo pastry and brush it with some olive oil. Cover with another sheet and continue in the same manner until you have 5 layers of filo brushed with oil, all covering an area large enough to line the sides and bottom of an 8 1/2-inch pie dish, plus extra to hang over the rim. Line the pie dish with the pastry, fill with the herb mix and fold the excess pastry over the edge of the filling, trimming the pastry as necessary to create a 3/4 inch border.
- Make another set of 5 layers of phyllo brushed with oil and place them over the pie. Scrunch the pastry a little to create a wavy, uneven top and trim the edges so it just covers the pie.
- Brush generously with olive oil
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes
- Uncover the dish and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the filo has turned golden brown.
- (** Note, in the original recipe the dish is baked uncovered for 40 minutes. I found it browns more than I'd prefer .. therefore the step of covering it for part of the baking time)
- Remove from the oven and serve warm, or at room temperature.