Here Is To Now

Many of you are familiar with the well-known expression about change being life’s only constant. There is no denying the fact that change can be stimulating and wonderful. On the other hand, it is also a very scary thing. In this context, it can be stressful, daunting and perhaps even terrifying. I underscore can be. We all embrace adjustment differently. I know change is a necessary component of existence but it is not my favorite of life's chapters. Over the years I have learned to accept and in turn manage it. Perhaps maturity has helped my quest but change still makes me anxious. I cannot tell you how unproductive it is to find myself lying in bed in the middle of the night and conjecturing a countless assortment of “what ifs” in my mind.

A couple of years ago, I met a woman who spoke to me about the importance of mindfulness. At the time, it was a foreign concept but it made sense. In fact, once explained, I had one of those eye opening moments defined by enlightenment. Duh. She carefully outlined how gratifying it is to be in the now and present in terms of what is happening at this moment in time. Stop obsessing about the past. What is done is done. Don’t dwell on the future in a way that is not productive. Be excited about it sure but don’t invent doomsday scenarios. It results in worry, which is wholly disadvantageous. She encouraged me by saying the fears our minds formulate are almost never found. Stop sweating the small stuff. Be present, breathe and live. For someone who is constantly looking to the next milestone, trip or adventure and also possessing a tad case of the “grass is greener” syndrome, I am regularly reminding myself, to be present.

I started doing yoga some time ago but found myself getting on and off the band wagon. As of late, I have found an instructor of whom I am very fond and have made it a regular part of my weekly routine. My attendance is also further reinforced by the fact that two close friends meet me there. Once I started my practice a couple of years back, I was never able to grasp or understand the importance of breathing. I was usually out of sync and just thankful not to be teetering over, falling or disrupting my neighbor. I was set and determined not to be the bull in the China shop. Nowadays, thanks to my mindfulness tutorial, I do breathe and it has become my favorite part of the class.

Recently, the person leading the class spoke to being grateful. She said we manage to get so tied up in things that are not important. I think this falls into the same neighborhood as mindfulness. During our classes, she instructs us to flow and focus on our breath. When goings get tough in the class, she tells us to be grateful for that very moment, no matter how trying and to breathe.  Live in the moment. It is not always easy but I do find that when I am getting my knickers in a twist, taking a moment to inhale, exhale and focus on the now, gets me out of my bind. No pun intended.

After work on Friday, closing out a long week, I found my mind going a mile a minute in ninety different directions. I was working myself up into a bit of frenzy and for what? Something, over which I had zero control and that in the grand scheme of things, was not going to move mountains. Matthew came home from work and also reminded me to take a deep breath. It's the weekend he said, no worries. He was right. Usually is. A change of scenery was in the cards. We agreed to spirits at the local wine bar followed by a trip to the grocers, which shaped a home cooked, comfort meal. Perfect.

We were home around dusk at which time I threw an organic roasting chicken into my Le Creuset. Like clockwork, I stuffed the cavity with one lemon cut in half, one head of garlic cut in half and a bunch of fresh thyme. As we are being mindful of salt and olive oil usage, I measured out one Tablespoon, which I massaged into the exterior of the bird. I did not add salt at this time. I then liberally decorated its exterior with fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. The fennel and pepper make the meat. I popped the chicken in the oven for an hour at 425 degrees. After an hour, I pulled it out to baste and add 4 cups of chopped butternut squash, which I placed around the bird. I cut up some fresh sage that remained from the work week and poured a ¼ cup of chicken stock over it all. I roasted the chicken for another hour. Two hours in the oven total guaranteed a crisp, golden skin and tender white meat. Once I removed the chicken from the oven, I covered it with aluminum foil and let it sit for a total of ten minutes before carving. 

The juices and fat from the chicken made for a gorgeous bath for the squash. Be sure to turn the squash every once in a while. As the chicken rested, I chopped up a head of Tuscan kale, threw it in a bowl and mixed in the juice of two lemons, one Tablespoon of olive oil and a generous shaving of Pecorino cheese compliments of my microplane. I then carefully massaged the salad with my hands ensuring that every leaf was reached. Once plated, I garnished the medley with a conservative pinch of kosher salt. We left the fixings out over the course of the evening to pick here and there. Home cooked Friday night dinner, just what the doctor ordered.

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