Grateful, 2014 Edition

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

And I mean ev-er-y-onnnne!!

I have arrived at the place in my life where it is reflexive for me to be grateful for the people who love me unconditionally, and I can access the words to tell them, and the actions to show them how much I appreciate their presence in my life. It takes years of practice to get to this place, because deepened gratitude requires constant reflection and action, and a lot of times examining your thoughts and actions feels shitty because you realize you didn’t do your best. You also realize that you can’t and won’t be in sync with everyone you care about all the time, but that is the space you fill with your gratitude.

I have also learned to be grateful for the antagonists in my life, from people with whom I don’t agree on Facebook, all the way to the plainly hostile. These are the folks who teach me the most about my character. How I react to their provocations is under my total control, perhaps the only real control any of us have at anything. So for those lessons, I am grateful.

As years go, it has been a good year. My second of two beloved dogs died, I failed myself and a deeply respected partner at work, I didn’t save any money, and I had hip surgery. None of these things broke me and I was well supported and doted upon through each. They still visit me in quiet times as shards of torment and frustration, scraping away at my confidence, leaving me raw and confused. But another thing happened this year.

I fell in love.

And someone fell in love with me.

The great power of love is still far beyond my understanding to put into actual words, and I strongly resist trying for fear of sounding like a bad greeting card. But I am in love and feel loved, and am intensely committed to showing him how grateful I am for his presence in my life today, and every day always.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May your time with family and friends be warm and tender, just like your turkey.

The Stuffing Recipe

The first appearance of the Green Chile Cornbread Stuffing, 2007.

The first appearance of the Green Chile Cornbread Stuffing, 2007.

Like most sentient Americans I know, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday of the year. Imagine, only food, nothing to buy or re-gift for, and no religion too. Imagine all the people, sharing all the food. I wonder if you can?

I KNOW YOU CAN!! How delicious is Thanksgiving?! A whole holiday devoted to celebrating gratitude for what we have and for being with the people we love? I already want seconds.

For the last six years, I have been making the stuffing for Thanksgiving, which to me, is the dish that distinguishes Thanksgiving dinner from all other turkey based meals. I picked stuffing because of my dad. My dad’s stuffing is a classic cubed bread with celery, green apples, walnuts and sausage, and it’s mouth-watering. I used to get caught every year sneaking into the kitchen while the turkey was out of the oven and resting, because I would pick the crusted stuffing right off the top, chomping it down before I got yelled at to stop. In 2007 I decided I was ready and I needed to come up with my own recipe, one that could become desired enough to risk burned fingers and yelling, and one to impress my friends who are all fantastic cooks. I am happy to report that I succeeded.

I am a big believer in recipe sharing, not doing that underhanded thing where you leave out ingredients to try and stump your family or friends and they wind up with the dish being ever so off. However, this stuffing recipe is cobbled together and requires the main ingredient to be shipped or schlepped on a plane. I am going to link to the source recipes and resources and tell you my method, then the rest is up to you. Either that, or you will have to be at my table next year to get the goods.

Cornbread is from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Follow method EXACTLY. Double the recipe. Make a day ahead. DO NOT EAT. Or triple the recipe, eat one third and use the rest for the stuffing. (Oh! And I use lard not shortening.)

Green chile is from New Mexico. I guess you could use Anaheims but, ew, why? Order yours here. Only New Mexicans or those who have eaten my stuffing will understand the importance of the chile variety.

The stuffing recipe itself is based on this one from Epicurious. The changes I make are as follows: all the chiles I use are NM green, roasted, hot; I omit the jalapeños and the cilantro; I add bacon and garlic. Even vegetarians will eat this. Bacon is a gateway meat.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!! I am grateful for you all! xo

Gratitude, You Old So And So

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I’ve just been struck by a moment of clarity and in the hopes of not letting it get too far way from me,  a few thoughts on gratitude before I subject my IT band to the foam roller.

Many friends on Facebook are participating in their own versions of a  30 Days of Gratitude Project, which seems mostly inspired by everyone’s favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. (Because, it is the BEST holiday, do not argue, it’s science. Also, my green chile cornbread stuffing will make your heart skip a beat.) From cappuccinos to courage, I am enjoying their daily posts of simple and complex expressions of gratitude, the quotes, a personal triumph,  a scene of quiet or outrageous beauty captured in a photo.

This is also the time of the year when reflection is in style and I am on trend. I’m looking back over the year, giving it some structure, finding the themes, connecting the struggles and the wins, deciding what to keep working on, what to let go of moving forward, all in service of being both softer AND stronger. 2013 has not been my favorite year, but it has not been my worst, so very far from it in fact.

The difference? C’mon, you know what I am going to say.

Gratitude.

It struck me tonight as I am busy with work and injury recovery, finally achieving some goals that have taken longer than I thought, that so many people have said Yes to me this year, even when I got roughed up for so many months by a gang of strong-armed No’s.

Right off the top of my head, here are a handful, ones that made the difference between insecurity and confidence, loneliness and love, giggles and a full-out jag.

Yes, I will get you that phone number.

Yes, I will take care of your dog.

Yes, I will give you a micro-loan.

Yes, I will make that introduction.

Yes, I will be tender when you’re anxious.

Yes, I will share your post.

Yes, I will take you to dinner.

Yes, I will give you the discount.

Yes, I will sign the contract.

Yes, I will come over for a slumber party.

Yes, I will stay on the phone with you laughing for an hour.

Yes, I will forgive you.

YES.

Oh friends and family, thank you for taking such good care of me, this year and all years, and may I do the same for you when you need me.  Here’s to more gratitude, more Yes’s, and a belly full of green chile cornbread stuffing.

Camp Mighty Recap: The Disclaimer

WOW. It’s true, I am still in full-on wowzer mode from Camp Mighty and as I know do, I am also verrrry slow to process. Much like a Thanksgiving turkey, I need to respect the time it takes to roast in all the goodness and that means keeping the oven door shut!

I met incredibly talented women (and a few mens!) at all stages and ranges of their creative power and potential. I listened to some very smart and successful people and companies tell their stories. I swanned around (and some did quite literally) the gorgeous Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. I wore sequins. And a bikini. I laughed my ass off. And shocking no one who knows me/knows me, I cried. Also, I might have gotten a little emo-blurty and possibly gave bad impressions. Oops.

In my current moment of reflection, I am hearing that old bastard Shame, singing his lament to the losers, and it’s loud and incessant and it’s drowning out the superawesome goodness. I will get there, and demand that he turn the volume down. That’s not the issue. It’s just that this is my process, and like Jenny Lawson told us on Saturday morning when describing her need to take a month off mid-book tour due to some very relatable shall I call them, FEELINGS, when that happens you just have to let yourself be where you need to be, trusting that this too shall pass. This is especially important when you feel like a crazy, loudtalker loser and everyone else is fantastic. Even though you know it’s not true.

Since I tend to rely heavily on humor to mask the fear of rejection keep serious things like my extreme vulnerability light and funny, I give you the cinematic version of how I see my relationship to the superawesome women of Camp Mighty.

Dear Mike from Swingers, don’t ever change. You’re so money and you don’t even know it.