The off-world colony watched, utterly transfixed.
Journaling as Sacred Practice is on the way!
Last weekend, I co-faciliated a labyrinth, meditation, and journaling retreat with my partner in Yoga Retreats Napa Valley. We spent the day with 15 women–and it was fabulous! During one of our writing sessions, I urged my tribe to journal about “my dream.” It was so powerful. This is what I wrote:
My dream is the success of my book on journaling, Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery.
I see myself being interviewed by Terry Gross. “What a great book,” she says. I laugh. “I had a bad break-up,” I tell her. “Instead of getting sad or getting mad, I started to write. I wrote 48 chapters in 48 days. And then I put the book in a drawer. I moved to Portland, Oregon. I moved to Napa Valley, California. When it was ready, it hatched.
Oprah calls. I don’t do the interview.
Louise Hay calls. She says, “Come to I Can Do It!”
Elizabeth Gilbert calls. She says “You go, girl!” We become besties.
Dreams, dreams, dreams. A book is a dream put down on paper. A song is a dream you can listen to. Did Mozart dream in color and did his dreams come with a soundtrack? My dream is for 2016 to be like one long, rolling, lazy summer day; an impressionist painting of picnics and watercolors clouds; of bread and wine and honeybees. I dream of the sound of water, the touch of a lover. The year 2016 should be a dress floating on a breeze, the sound of a train in the distance, a piano recital, the smell of apple pie through a window.
In my dream I rise up. I lift my heart and swallow the turquoise sky, the emerald river, the comb’s teeth of a vineyard row. I will calibrate my breath on the hush of waves. Let me rest there.
My wish for my WordPress friends is that 2016 is BIG and BOLD! Decide who you are and do it on purpose.
KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST
What a delicious read in J. Ryan Stradal’s debut novel: Kitchens of the Great Midwest. His treatment of the subject of haute (and low) cuisine is both respectful and poetic, as is his attention to the detail of place. The Midwest has never appeared so endearing, nor possibly as strange.
The star of the story, Eva Thorvald, is born in the late 1980s to Lars Thorvald and Cynthia Hargreaves, the two most unlikely candidates for happy marriage that ever was. But when Cynthia gets knocked up, marry they do, and vigorous ten pound baby Eva follows.
“Cynthia was still twenty-five, and bounced back to her skinny frame with color in her cheeks and bigger boobs, while Lars just grew balder and fatter and slower. He had learned, before she was pregnant, that he had to hold her hand or touch her in some way while they walked places together, so that other men knew they were a couple. Now she was the mother of his daughter, he was even more wary, snarling at passing dudes with confident Tom Selleck mustaches and cool Bon Jovi hair.”
Lars is a foodie through and through, and Cynthia has a knack for food and wine pairings beyond reason. But gravely oppressed by motherhood from the start, Cynthia ditches husband and child as soon as reasonably possible, running off to California to learn the wine trade.
Lars devotes his life to his darling daughter, whose taste buds he teases with the finest ingredients her pediatrician will permit. He reads Beard on Bread to her. He takes her on excursions through Farmer’s Markets, searching for priceless potatoes and redolent rhubarb.
Lucky for her, Eva is born with a “once in a generation palate.” But is this because of her natural father? It’s hard to say. Not long after Cynthia goes MIA, Lars dies suddenly, leaving baby Eva to be raised by her Uncle Jarl and Aunt Fiona, who while loving her completely, don’t know a mung bean from mozzarella.
Part of the pleasure of this novel derives from Stradal’s juicy narrative. From the start, we know that Eva is a survivor and that she is destined for great things. We love how she loves her adopted parents, how she embraces strays of all kinds, and how even as a kid, she demonstrates great depths of compassion.
“[Jarl] suddenly looked sad and bewildered, like an elephant that had been fired from the circus and was wandering down the side of the highway with nowhere to go. The thought occurred to Eva that if her dad confronted those boys face-to-face, they would make fun of her weak, fat, kindhearted father as brutally as they made fun of her, and she needed to protect her dad from that; his ego was already so fragile.”
It’s not giving anything away to reveal that Eva becomes a celebrated, if mysterious and deeply private, chef. Her love for good food is not for show or for fame; it is real as rice and sweet as whipped marshmallow. In the end, her love of food is about what all great food is about: celebration and gratitude and sharing your bounty with those you love.
A good book is a thing of beauty. A good book that makes you laugh at a sweet, goofy, human’s folly, and you have a party wrapped in a book jacket.
Peter Mehlman’s debut novel, It Won’t Always Be This Great, is quite possibly the sweetest, funniest novel orbiting the planet of mid-life crisis well, ever. Though Mehlman is no writing novice, he wrote for the Jerry Seinfeld show and rose to executive producer at one point; this is his first work of full-length fiction.
In It Won’t Always Be This Great, we meet a 50 year-old Long Island podiatrist who throughout the book remains nameless, just as he is about to hit stride in messy patch of mid-life angst. Dr. X is father to two amazing kids, lovely, precocious, 14 year old Esme, and son Charlie, who while hovering at the cusp of tweenhood, makes adorably naïve pronouncements about how the world appears to work, and according to him, how it should work. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
There are a million ways to start a new year and we are pleased to say that a killer hike is one of our favorites. Especially the imperfect part. You know: the huffing and puffing to the top of the hill part. We even like the way they turn a painful, albeit beautiful, experience into an object lesson. Read all about it here.