I've been thinking a lot about expectations.
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A few short weeks ago, deciding to retreat to a smaller and simpler life; one that felt more like me. In the process, I resigned from a couple of life's obligations
Intellectually, I'd prepared myself for the potential sting of saying “No,” although my heart has proven to be another story. The reality of bowing out, surrendering expectations, and choosing to swim against the current has been a bit awkward at times. Those still following the rules, and toeing the line look at me and aren't quite sure what to do with it all.
My afternoon walks are always meditative, and this week has been spent reconciling. Certainly, it's easiest to point the finger at other people, though I can't help but take a more global view and wonder how much we as women are also doing to ourselves?
In a world dominated by social media, how often do we allow such outlets as Pinterest or glossy inspirational blogs to set impossible standards? At the same time, espousing “normalcy” as an everyday status quo? How often do we buy into the culture of busy, thinking we're somehow less than if our days aren't full?
I've run across a lot of writing lately that encourage women to simply lower our expectations, and all will be well. I have to believe there's another path; we've got to be better than that.
Are we really willing to throw in the towel, take pictures of our messes, and label ourselves as being authentic? Or succumb to the peer pressure of being all things to all people in order to avoid dead space in our conversations and have an active social calendar?
Somewhere there has to be a balance between encouraging lesser versions of ourselves, the demand to please others, and chasing the ever-shifting utopia of living in perfection. A space that honors
Our why, instead of our what
A space in which expectations are shifted, if ever so slightly. Space where success is defined by the actions of our hearts
Attend every event on the calendar – if you're supportive of a cause
Pen quiet notes of encouragement late into the night – if you're supportive of a cause
Drop off a pizza – if it means you love your neighbor
Sleep in and let him buy you pancakes at your favorite diner – if it brings joy to your mornings
Run a 5K – if it means you're doing something with a friend
Sit on the sofa and watch a sappy movie – if it means you're doing something with a friend
Go to an office from 9-5 – if it means you're providing for your family
Stay at home and knock something off the to-do list – if it means you're providing for your family
Go for a long walk with the puppies – if it brings peace to your Saturday
Take a nap – if it brings peace to your Saturday
Salsa dance in the living room – if it brings joy to your home
Tune the paint-splattered radio in the kitchen to NPR – if it brings joy to your home
It seems to me that it's time we stop apologizing for our what's and start embracing our whys. It's time to stop lowering the bar to a universal standard of acceptance, and instead, honor our hearts, minds, and our souls
To stop playing Limbo with one another; how low can you go? Working on our backbends instead; finding we're far more flexible with a little bit of grace, flexibility, wisdom, and perspective. Not to mention, an awful lot of love
Looking for an interesting and different addition to our Spaghetti Saturday menu, I ran across this recipe. I can tell you that it's good, very good. At the same time quite surprising
This is a salty, spicy grown-up caramel corn, whose taste will surprise you if you're expecting something traditional, and may delight you if you were never into the original. The caramel isn't accented with salt and heat; instead, it's balanced beautifully with them.
A quick note: Depending on your tolerance for heat and salt, you may want to dial them back a little.
ps: If you didn’t cook the syrup long enough, and as it cools, the popcorn isn’t quite crisp, toast it in a 325-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. As it cools, it’ll crisp and can then be broken into pieces
pps: More fun recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturdays
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~ Adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Sweet and Spicy Caramel Corn
- 1 Tbsp clarified butter
- ½ cup unpopped popcorn
- ½ cup brown rice syrup (or another liquid sweetener of your choice)
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
- 1 cup mixed nuts and seeds (I used cashews + almonds, sunflower + sesame seeds)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Pop the corn in a large, covered saucepan with the oil. When the popcorn is done, remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and set aside.
- In another large pot, bring to a boil the syrups, spices, and salt.
- Cook over medium heat, at a steady boil, avoiding the urge to stir. (Heidi recommends tilting the pot instead).
- After 5 minutes, when the syrup is reduced and deeply-fragrant stir in the nuts, seeds, and popcorn. Mix gently until everything’s well-coated.
- Turn out onto the prepared baking sheet and let cool.
- (Note: If you didn’t cook the syrup long enough and as it cools the popcorn isn’t quite crisp, you can toast it in a 325-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. As it cools, it’ll crisp right up and can be broken into pieces)