“I have a core belief. Life is always happening for us, not to us, and it's our job to find out where the benefit is.
If we do, life is magnificent” ~ Tony Robbins
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It's Labor Day and
I'm laying on the sofa with pillows propping me up, the puppies napping across my lap, and soft sunlight coming through the patio door. It's been such a beautiful weekend, with picture-perfect weather and college football on the radio.
Around here, we've been laying low — a simple lunch with friends and a birthday party for our grandson at the park. I'm thankful for the chance to finally be still, time to close my eyes and simply breathe.
I've been ready for the weekend since the sun went down last Sunday. Little did I know the black swan week that lay ahead.
“Are you sure you'll be ok if I go? Nothing bad will happen if I postpone.”
“Of course Sweetie. Everything is under control.”
and there's a large upgrade at work that seems to have taken a left turn at Albuquerque.
“Did you get much sleep last night?
“Not so much, but I'll catch up tonight.”
and a paper due for your latest class
“How's your paper coming along?”
“About the same, but tomorrow I'll have time to make progress.”
and a child that's melting down
“Do you need me to come home?”
“Nope, I've got this. Really, I'm good.” (I think?)
“We live in a world where most of us are looking for what's wrong. What's wrong is always available. So is what's right. And if you don't take control of your focus, everything in your life will disappear” ~ Tony Robbins
It's weeks like this one that remind me just how easy it is to slip into a cycle of negativity. How easy it is to become overwhelmed with the question marks, to glance at our to-do lists and see nothing but what's required of us, what's expected of us and for us, and think perhaps
this is all there is
But sometimes a sleepy kitty ambles into your office early in the afternoon, and you can tell she's been missing you. Her eyes ask
“Can I come sit on your lap?”
This, my fluffy one, is a question I can answer, and at that moment it's a gentle reminder that it's time to reverse course. That no matter how bleak it seems, or overwhelmed we feel, there are far more things filling our days that are right
then those that are wrong
“The reason we're suffering is we're focused on ourself, and the antidote to this is appreciation. Trade your expectations to appreciation and your life will change” ~ Tony Robbins
That it's time to re-find your center, and this too shall pass. The husband whom you love will soon return home, a child will find their way, deadlines will be met, and all of the in-betweens will somehow work themselves out
That it's time to step away from the screen, from the projects that really aren't so urgent, and simply breathe. To go for a walk and notice all that's beautiful along your path
To find the place of quiet deep within your spirit, succumb to the urge to sleep in, stay put, soak in a long afternoon at home, watching the sunlight arrive in tiny patches along your (badly in need of dusting) desk, hot tea mug nearby, cooking magazines at the ready.
Just you and the day
Not long ago, Tim Ferriss interviewed Tony Robbins. It's one of the best podcasts I've listened to in a very long time.
While it's a treasure trove of information on many different topics, last week I had this section on repeat every time I felt myself complaining, feeling sorry for myself, or wishing my husband were around to tell me a joke and lighten the mood
(Food for thought)
“Can you imagine if you were the creator and you came to one of your creations, and you say to this person ‘Joe, how do you like what I created for you?'
And Joe says ‘Geez God, I mean there's a lot of sh<>t here.
Couldn't you just have kept it at 70 degrees? Why do you have to change all these temperatures and make to tough. And man, you've got all these stupid people I've got to deal with all the time. They're always getting in my way. And you know, I don't want to work for a living, and plus you've got these little red ants that bite me and they hurt. Why would you create these annoying ants?'
If you're God, do you want to hang out with this person?
If you're a human, do you want to hang out with this person?
If you're God and you go to somebody else and say ‘How's it going with the creation I gave to you?
The guy says ‘Hey, this is so incredible. It's the most beautiful place I can ever imagine: the sky, the air, the water. There are so many different people who challenge me, help me to grow and learn, and people I can love. And oh my .. God, you even created these red ants. These red ants are so tiny. I'm a thousand times their size, and they're so courageous, they even bite me. Isn't it cool what you created here'” ~ Tony Robbins
This long weekend included a quiet lunch with friends, along with this tart. It's seriously delicious.
A great way to use fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. Serve the tart as an appetizer, side dish, or even a light lunch.
Savory ricotta on flaky puff pastry that is studded with tomato slices that have been roasted with a hint of garlic, thyme and olive oil.
~ Adapted from Plenty More by Ottolenghi
Tomato and Ricotta Tart
- scant 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 1/3 cups fresh bread crumbs
- ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp ground almonds
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 6½ Tbsp ricotta
- scant 3½ tbsp finely grated Parmesan
- ½ cup thyme leaves
- 13 oz puff pastry
- sunflower oil for greasing
- 2¼ lb medium tomatoes about 10, cut crosswise into slices 3/8 inch thick
- 24 black olives pitted
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 475° F.
- Using a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and aerated.
- While on medium speed, slowly add the eggs. (If the mixture separates, add some bread crumbs to bring it back together and keep on adding the eggs)
- Stop the mixer, add the bread crumbs, almonds and garlic, and work until everything is just combined.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the ricotta, Parmesan, half the thyme leaves and ¼ tsp salt.
- Fold gently until just combined, then set aside.
- Roll out the pastry into 2 rectangular sheets each about 8 x 12" and 1/16 inch thick. Grease 2 baking sheets with a little bit of sunflower oil and lay your pastry pieces on top.
- Use an offset spatula to spread the almond mixture evenly over the pastries, leaving a ¾-inch border around the edge.
- Lay the tomato slices on top of each rectangle in 3 long rows, with a fair amount of overlap in the rows and between them.
- Sprinkle the olives and the remaining thyme over the top.
- Drizzle the tomatoes with half the olive oil and season with ¼ tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper.
- Bake the tarts in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Turn the temperature down to 400º F and continue baking for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the base is golden brown.
- At the halfway point, switch the pans between the racks and rotate them back to front to ensure the tarts color evenly.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and serve.