Friday, December 30, 2011

Food for the Soul: Fried Plantains

Plantain by Nicole Margaretten

I was lucky enough to spend the holidays in Costa Rica with my husband's family, and we ate a lot of local food. My favorite breakfast became fried plantains, gallo pinto, tortillas, and eggs. (Yes, that's a lot of food, but breakie is the most important meal of the day.) 

Now that we've returned, we'll be enjoying more plantains as a replacement for potatoes. They're sweet, and they are very nutritious.

The best part? Making fried plantains is so easy! Choose very ripe plantains. Slice in coins, minus the peel, of course. Heat oil in a pan. Fry. If they're ripe enough, they don't need a single thing extra.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Singing to Pain

Orpheus, by Odilon Redon
via Orbs of Zenith

Apparently I'm in a musical mood these days. The subject for today: musical therapy, which I first heard about from a friend, who literally sings to the parts of her body-soul that are in pain. She says it opens up those areas to "flow" and releases stagnation.

Then, I heard a segment on Talk of the Nation about musical therapy. The part that I found fascinating was a therapist who modified the stressful hospital environment by improvising melodies on the guitar, in response to the sounds of the hospital. What creativity! And he also improvised melodies in response to the patient's reaction. What compassion! 

In what areas of your life would you add song? What would you sing? What melody would you play?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Poet Speaking through the Piano

Swedish Bonad
via Cupboards and Roses

Can you imagine what it would be like to lose your ability to speak? Now imagine if you could use music to regain some of your means of communication.

Tomas Tranströmer, a Swedish poet, was awarded the Nobel Prize, but because of a stroke, he was unable to give an acceptance speech. Instead, his poetry was set to music. I wish I could find a video somewhere . . .

At least I've been able to find some of his poetry, which I really like.

“Sketch in October”
The tugboat is freckled with rust. What’s it doing here so far inland?
It’s a heavy extinguished lamp in the cold.
But the trees have wild colors: signals to the other shore.
As if someone wanted to be fetched.

On my way home I see mushrooms sprouting through the grass.
They are fingers, stretching for help, of someone
who has long been sobbing alone down in the darkness.
We are the earth’s.

    —from The Great Enigma, translated by Robin Fulton; via ABC News

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Postmodern Hymn: That I Would Be Good

Let's allow Alanis to break it down for us. If you're like me, you've probably heard "That I Would Be Good" before, but it still grips me when I hear it. She has a way of naming internal realities with such clarity.

I've been thinking about self-love lately and how to avoid the pitfalls of the selfish form of love Westerners can be so good at. I don't pretend to have it all figured out, but here are my thoughts:

Looking at common depictions of self-care, I find them very superficial. Take a picture of your body and call it accepting your body. This kind of practice seems very alienating to me. I know that when I'm happiest in my body, it is because I am enjoying the sensations of moving, breathing, and resting. The times when I feel the most self-love are when this feeling of body awareness deepens into a sensation that at the core of my being, all is well, and all is accepted. There is a softening, a loosening of resistance, to my struggles. I suspect that some thinkers might find some of these things weak and reprehensible. But I think the process of becoming gentle with oneself, in the way I've just described, resonates with what Alanis is singing about, as well as with what teachers like Pema Chodron advocate.

So, this is my invitation to allow your pleasurable practices of the body to penetrate to your core, and to love the body-heart-mind-soul mystery as you encounter it.

Friday, December 2, 2011


I'm looking at ledger art a lot these days, and I'm noticing that many artists were concerned with the feet of the animals. For example, deer and bison are often portrayed with their cleft hooves.

Buffalo Hunt by Cheyennes, by Making Medicine
via Jennifer Graber

I like these artists' perspectives. Can you imagine if instead of focusing on the face of a person, as artist focused on a person's feet? (And of course, there are paintings like Van Gogh's Peasant Shoes.)

Let's get grounded!


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