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Archive for July, 2011

Lifelong Learning

July 22nd, 2011

I’ve always enjoyed learning. I didn’t even mind school (except for the part about getting up early), and I went right from undergraduate studies to grad school. I had a master’s degree by the time I was 23, and I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college.

But then life and career got in the way, and I spent 25 years building a business with only occasional bouts of “class taking.” Most of the formal learning for me during that period was in the form of workshops or daylong intensives, on topics related to business or the advertising/design industry that I was a part of. The notable exception was the month I took off to receive training at Living Light Culinary Institute. It was an indulgence I thoroughly enjoyed, even though I continued to work on my design business in the evenings, after eight hours (or more) of class time.

When I was setting my personal goals earlier this year, I made a commitment—a recommitment, I guess—to learning. I told myself I would take a live class every week, and I have managed to stick to it so far. Many of the courses have directly related to my health and nutrition counseling practice, like the one-hour workshop on pickling I took this week. Others have been more directed toward self-care, such as a five-week class called “Yoga Off the Mat,” while the remaining are general skills-building things, like the free “Going Further With Your iPhone” session that I took at the Apple store.

I confess that there are times I dutifully report to a class or workshop when I really would prefer to be doing something else. Sometimes I sign up for a course only to wish I wasn’t committed. This week is a good example. My friend Jennifer asked me to meet her for a drink the same night as the pickling class, which was being held in a college town 45 minutes away. On a whim, I asked her if she wanted to go, and to my surprise, she said yes. Well, what a bonus that was! We had a full 90 minutes in the car to get caught up on each other’s lives. We both enjoyed the class, and our excursion was much healthier for us than a couple of martinis would have been. A true win/win.

As I look ahead to next week, I have a several things going on, including another freebie class at the computer store and a session on essential oils. What I love about these courses is that I invariably learn something I wasn’t expecting. The pickling class gave me insights into how other presenters give live cooking demonstrations (I do a lot of those in my work). Yoga off the mat covered topics I had not previously considered in the same context as my yoga practice. In short, just as I have never, ever regretted getting up early (think about it: have you ever wished you had not gotten up before the alarm?), I have never regretted taking advantage of a learning opportunity. Some I have enjoyed more than others, but I don’t think there’s been one time that I didn’t leave without some sort of take away (even if it’s “how not to teach a class!”).

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Sow/Reap

July 10th, 2011

Already more yield than last year!

This morning I went outside to check on my raised garden beds. This is my third summer of growing vegetables and herbs and if you’ve read this blog for a bit, you might remember that last September I wrote about my disappointing harvest, and the lone pepper I showcased on the blog before I ate it for dinner. In that entry I said that “I am always one to look for the messages in life’s events, and what I’ve come up from my little pepper is this: All Effort is Rewarded. Although I didn’t have the bountiful garden harvest I had originally envisioned, neither did I invest the amount of effort that a good crop requires. I put a little in, I got a little back.”

So I decided that this year would be different. Rather than wait to plant as I had in the past, I signed up for a seed starter class in March. I learned techniques for germinating and how to harden off seedlings and when to plant them outside to ensure good results. I used my own compost in the garden beds and added Azomite (a mineral supplement) to the soil. I have been more thoughtful about watering. I pull weeds when I see them. And sure enough, this morning I saw the first of what should be a bounty of peppers. It’s a little cutie and I am showing him here—his appearance is eight weeks ahead of the yellow pepper I photographed last September.

Now, as I said last year, I know that life isn’t always fair and that sometimes our best efforts appear to go unrewarded (sometimes they even get punished—or so it seems). But when we are honest with ourselves, we do realize that indeed “You reap what you sow.” My efforts in the garden were much more focused this year, and early indicators point to a decent payoff. Alas, if only I could hang on to that knowledge, and be doggedly consistent in all the areas of my life where dogged consistency would benefit me. I’m doing better at it though: in fact, I recently updated my personal vision board and already I feel a greater sense of clarity about what I want for the second half of 2011.

Anyway, please allow me to conclude this post the way I ended that initial one, with a question and an invitation to you. Are you reaping what you sow? Do you want something different from what you have and are you willing to put in the work? Post your thoughts when you can.

Meanwhile, here’s a recipe for a red pepper remoulade. If you’re not familiar with the term, a remoulade is a condiment or a sauce. I like this as a salad dressing (you can thin it slightly with water if you’d like). I learned to make it when I was enrolled at the Living Light Culinary Institute.

RED PEPPER REMOULADE
Yield: 1 1/2 cups (6 servings)

Equipment
Blender

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts or cashews soaked, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup purified water, or more as needed
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, leaves only
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon hot mustard
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon solar-dried sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar, if needed

Place all of the ingredients except the agave nectar in a high-powered blender, and puree until smooth. Taste the blended mixture and add up to 1/2 tablespoon of agave nectar if it needs more sweetness. Serve over vegetable dishes. Store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two days.

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