For this post I’m inviting you all into my journal. This time of year in particular, and as I approach a major milestone I get rather introspective. I love any marker, whether created by the calendar or the earth’s position in relation to the moon, that creates the opportunity to ask yourself if you’re on the right path. As I unleashed my pen to an empty page this is what came up:
(Also, my kitchen is still on holiday break and I’m not even certain I’m going to be cooking for New Years let alone WHAT I might cook, but I’m linking to a few recipes that are catching my eye down below).
I want to take this quiet moment sitting in the sacred space between holidays. A time when spirits are still high albeit tired. Or maybe for some there is relief. For those who grieve this season, for those who find family a hardship rather than a joy. A relief that it’s over and yet normalcy hasn’t quite returned. Some may go to work but even for them it seems the work is light. Expectations of productivity are low. We teeter on the edge of Christmas and New Year in this seasonal liminal space where we forget what day it is and have no coherent concept of time. It’s quite possibly my favorite week of the year.
This is the space I typically use to meditate on the new year. This year I feel like I shifted to using the winter solstice as my time of renewal and reset rather than turning a calendar page. But now that the presents are unwrapped and the dishes are mostly done there's more time for quiet, unhurried contemplation.
So what do I want in this new season? What are some intentions for this next revolution around the sun?
I turn 40 this year which definitely feels like a milestone to mark. For me it certainly invites a lot of opportunity for thinking, analyzing and assessing. To welcome something new and embrace it fully I often find there’s first a time to grieve. I am an enneagram four after all. There’s a grieving of the first half of life - mourning the lingering feelings of regret, missed moments of wholeness and the fear that I’ve been living caged. For me this grieving is not a flooding of sadness, instead I find gratitude. Knowing that while there are some regrets for the most part I did the best I could with the information and wisdom I had.
In Hillary McBride’s new book, The Wisdom of Your Body, she spoke with a hospice nurse who shared the biggest regrets given by those who are nearing death. They said, “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” As soon as I read this I put down the book and took a deep breath, knowing deep within the humbling truth found in these words.
I fear I continue to live and behave in a way in order to match the expectations others have of me. I’m so afraid to stir the pot unless it’s filled with butter and onions. As I approach my mid-life my desire for more me-ness grows and the care I give to fit-in, please others, and make nice, wanes. It’s not to say I’m going to relent the niceties of my Bruce Banner to the monstrous rage of the Hulk (we’ve been watching A LOT of Marvel movies during the holiday) but even the fiery anger of the Hulk has its place.
There’s a reason that each of us are walking on this earth in this season. We, being made up of these cells, this particular sequence of DNA inhabiting our body. Each of us are here to live fully in this body, with our particular genetic makeup, having lived through the joys and hardships specific to us that come together to craft the particular person we are in this moment. If such care was given for all those particularities then who am I to bend, contort, and argue with the way in which I was crafted?
Around mid-life it seems we grow quite exhausted from this fight of fitting in. We release the unnatural standards and comparisons in order to embrace the fullness of us. To see what is, embrace it (or make peace with it) and step into it with the purpose of living a life you were meant to live.
While I can grieve the time I’ve “wasted” not fully comprehending this concept, I heap an abundance of grace on myself and others who have gone through the necessary steps of progress to reach this conclusion. Some come to it more quickly while others may never arrive. I’ve also come to understand that all of life is cyclical, as opposed to being linear, which means I will come face to face with this lesson again and again, with the hope being that with each new rotation I’ll understand it a bit deeper and live in to it more fully.
To live this way, for me, essentially means to turn up the volume on that still small voice which has been whispering to me my whole life. To trust the voice that some have named God, divinity, your soul, your wholeness, or simply; you. To hear and listen to this voice as sacred authority. The one who guides, and leads you into a life that is fully and unmistakably yours. The one who lives a life with you so that the response on your deathbed may be: I have lived a life that is fully me. W(holy) mine. Full of love and curiosity rather than regret.
I made Welsh Rarebit over the fire on Solstice and loved it so much I may just do it again. I “followed” this recipe from The New York Times and then topped the cheese toast with radicchio simply dressed with charred lemon.
Okay, actually I am going to share an actual recipe today. When thinking about what I really want to eat on New Years I couldn’t get the idea of hot cheese out of my head. Sometimes even I don’t understand how my mind works. One minute I’m discussing the grief of entering mid-life and the next I’m drooling over melty cheese.
In case ringing in the New Year seems like the right time to cozy up next to sharp cheddar, cream cheese and kimchi, then I give you the Kimchi Cheese Dip.
Kimchi Cheese Dip
Tuck into this dip with crispy bread, crackers, or chips. Slather it on bread for a blow-your-mind grilled cheese sandwich or use it on your next pan of nachos. Serve warm or room temperature.
Makes 4 cups
1 pound/ 450 g grated sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces/ 230 g cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups (1 16 ounce jar)/ 450 g drained and roughly chopped kimchi
2 tablespoons Gochujang (Korean red chili paste - available at fine grocery stores or Asian markets)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
In a food processor combine the cheddar, cream cheese, kimchi, Gochujang, and salt. Pulse to combine the ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few times more.
Serve warm. Place the dip in a skillet and warm over the stove on low heat or heat in an oven-safe dish at 350°F for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges just start to bubble.
Top with scallions to serve.
Happy new year, friends. Excited to spend a lot of time together in 2022.