Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolution: Fail with Joy

Illustration from Uncle Lubin, by W. H. Robinson

For other over-stressed Western achievers, allow me to recommend a new way of being successful: don't seek success. Seek adventure.

There are people who talk about narrative psychology and how people choose to reflect on universal life experiences, such as failure. One such person is Carol Dweck, who made an appearance on To the Best of Our Knowledge. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck argues that it's our response to failure that makes a difference. Children who see their failure as an opportunity for growth are more successful and take more risks than those who see their failure as a measure of their innate abilities.

So, friends, let's seek adventure. Perhaps it will lead to failure, but won't that be better than staying home?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Dark, Winter Magic

The Sprue Coppice, by Henrik Krogh
via the Textile Blog

What will you find in the dark winter woods?
May this winter season be filled with magic.

I've been doing some soul diving during these dark winter moons... I've been watching old beliefs rise to the surface and then leave me a little less burdened. In the space that's cleared from diving and uncovering the depths, I'm hoping some new and useful practices will form. I think this coming New Year's Eve ritual will involve giving thanks for the realized potentialities of the past year (so many miracles and blessings to count!) and also giving thanks for the yet un-realized potentialities waiting in the future. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

The Nativity, by Sarah Stone
via Strawberige

Happy Alchemical-Child Day. If you happen to catch a glimpse of the precious creative force within, I hope you will care for it like a mother, glory in it like the angels, and honor it like the humblest of kings.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Samsara wheel

Friends, I've been crying a lot over the news. The killing of twenty children is too much to bear, and the suffering of the killer is tragic as well. 

I know our civilization can be better than this, that we can give love and help to those who need it, that we can keep weapons out of the hands of the unwise. But I also know that no matter what we do, there will always be suffering. I have no uplifting message today; just the dull truth that there is so much joy and so much pain in this world.

May all beings be at peace.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Windwalker: Hero's Journey

Windwalker is a classic tale of a hero: the title character dies and is given a funeral, only to be reawakened by the Great Spirit for a final heroic task. Along the way, he overcomes a bear after falling into its den, teaches the meek to be brave, and recovers what was lost. In the end, he is rewarded for his deed by walking on the wind and being reunited with his true love.

In one of the more beautiful parts of the film, Windwalker teaches:
"Do not fear death . . .
As spring begins with winter
So death begins with birth.
It is only a step
In the great circle of life."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Food for the Soul: Stew Deep and Dark

Moonlight in a Forest. Winter, by Arkhip Kuindzhi

As days grow darker, I start looking forward to rich, slow foods like beef stew. These meals remind me to sit with what is potential for a while, to watch as meat breaks down and flavors meld, rather than to expect completion in a flash of a pan.

Start by browning some beef chuck in a large dutch oven, and then remove it from the heat. Add some sliced onions, then some garlic. Then a generous amount of red wine and tomato paste, and once everything is combined and warm, transfer this mixture, plus meat to the slow cooker for 6 hours on low.

The last, and most important step is to add all the magical spices that make this stew special: bay leaf, paprika, marjoram, cumin, lemon zest. (Just typing those beautiful words makes me happy.)

I think we served this over egg noodles last time, but you could also just soak up the juices with crusty bread. This beef goulash is a summary of the one found in Michele Scicolone's Italian Slow Cooker. You should check this book out. 

When you sit down to eat your stew, give thanks for the many forms of life that went into it. Ponder where that life has gone, and what you will do with the energy you receive. If you find yourself exploring your own dark spaces during these dark days, I hope this food will give you some comfort and nourishment along your journey.


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