Thursday, April 29, 2010

back in the saddle

it's official. my maternity leave is over--or at least the government-funded aspect of my leave has ceased. in truth, i think a part of me will never fully return from this time in my life.pajama marathons would be very hard to give up.

so here i am. right at the point where the seemingly disparate parts of my life intersect. a meshing of the meghans. the year i've spent busting out creative raffi renditions, consulting google about teething remedies and being awake when the rest of the world is quiet and dark has changed me. my heart feels bigger. i am both more gentle and more fierce. i've done things that i would've previously told you that i couldn't do.

there are, of course, things that have remained the same. in particular, the feelings that i had when receving my last deposit from "EI-Canada": i feel both blessed and terrified to be self-employed. but such is the path that i've chosen so its time for my raffi-singing- self to get to work.

now where did i put that hat?

last week i had my first 'back to work brand new never met before' client. from our email exchanges i knew that we were going to be a good fit. nevertheless, i was not entirely home free from wondering if i still knew what i was talking about, if i could actually ever help anybody with anything, or carry on a conversation that did not involve digressions on the subject of a certain you know who.

in no particular order, here are the things that help me to feel like a bona fide professional: earrings, matching socks, lip gloss and my trusty leather satchel.

i tend to be a big fan of my clients. they're just so smart and sincere, real and inspiring. its true that i love food, value nutrition, and have a big crush on health, but the joy i get from my work is really because of the people i work with.

and so it is, that i often leave a consultation feeling inspired and a little wired. one of my own little quirks is to respond to over-stimulation by eating. it used to just happen, and now its more or less a conscious tick. eating can be a grounding experience. sometimes i'll choose deep breathing, walking or yoga instead, but the other day, after meeting with my newest exceptional client, i did not.

the banana was preceded by toasted pumpkin seeds and followed by leftover rice noodles and a pickle. this odd assortment of snacks might leave some thinking that i'm trying to get out of self-employment by heading back to maternity leave.

i assure you i'm not.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

dear meghan, i was wondering....

with the exception of calling a bowl of frozen raspberries and a mug of chamomile tea "dinner" the other night, its been a fairly calm week chez rathwell. a few days ago, our family of three even managed to take in some sunshine while sitting on a patio, enjoying a cold beverage and eating yam fries. i'd say that we're approaching normalcy, if i believed in such a thing.

( finn highly recommends the menu)

my reason for writing today however is not to talk about my food frenzies, but

since starting to blog, i've realized the immense opportunity that exists for dialogue, learning and community building, right here at this very web address. while i enjoy the cathartic nature of my writing process, i didn't expect that i would be on the receiving end of your heart-warming, juicy, and insightful muse. i love it, and think it would be selfish to keep you all to myself.

so in honour of all of us who like to eat, write and wonder what the heck we're doing,
i'd like to offer a little dose of nutrition Q & A.

i invite you to email me with questions of the food-based kind. at the whims of my sporadic nature, i will dedicate posts to you and your questions. i hope to adjust my sails according to the volume of correspondence i get and evolve my blog to meet the interest of the reader-folk. but for now, lets consider it practice-mode. oh, and please know that your emails to me are confidential and i will not be posting any names or information that discloses your questioning self.

to get you in the spirit, i'm including a recent exchange i had with a friend after he read one of my posts. in it, i had named myself as an advocate for "whole foods." he writes....

Q:" what does whole foods mean?"

A: " whole foods is a term used to describe fresh, alive, REAL food found in its natural state rather than reduced to separate components. whole foods retain their vitamins, minerals, enzymes and can therefore offer you the optimum amount of vitality. like oats with all the fiber and gritty goodness rather than quick oats designed for microwave cooking. whole foods have their little food souls intact."

Q: "does this mean i should eat the feathers?"

A:" no, but a regular shaking of your tail feathers is encouraged"

serious, silly, personal, ...lets start talking.

Monday, April 5, 2010

random acts of cooking

a week ago, my friend chashma asked me if i'd be up for a quirky cooking project. looking to explore food in public spaces and how community is formed around food, what she proposed was a variation on the stone soup fable. given that i adore food, enjoy fables and am decidedly quirky; i did not hesitate to say yes.

the idea was to assemble a makeshift kitchen in a public space and cook up a batch of soup. what kind of soup? it was impossible to say. not only were we going to make soup in a public space, we weren't going to bring any of the ingredients, save olive oil and salt. the most fantastical (chashma preferred the word crazy) part of the experiment was to ask passerby's to donate something soup-worthy from their grocery bags. once finished, bowls of soup would be given away for free. beautiful non?

after gathering 2 cutting boards, 1 coleman stove, 6 bowls, 2 knives, 1 signboard, 3 wooden spoons, 40 paper plates and spoons, 5 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of salt, 1 fold-up table accompanied by a bed-sheet for a tablecloth, and 2 matching aprons, we were ready.

we set up in grandview park on commercial drive. "the drive" as it is lovingly called is a hot- spot for groceries and all things eccentric. our neighbors that day included an 8-year-old selling toys she had outgrown, 3 street folk selling electronics of questionable origin, a rogue musician, an elderly gentleman telling anyone who would listen that colleges and cars pollute our environment and some teens who, should they read this, would be pleased to see themselves described as anarchists. it was a good day for soup.

hi there! we're making a community pot of soup, and your bag of groceries looks quite heavy. is there something you'd like to contribute to lighten your load? an onion perhaps?

good day sir! i see you've noticed our steaming pot over here. we're making soup that we're going to give away when its finished. might you have an item to donate? carrot? potato?

with the exception of one stranger who was wildly excited about the idea and had his wife jump out of the car to bring us barley while he circled the block, we mostly have our friends to thank for donations. they really are souper. (you know i had to).

after 1.5 hours our final list of donated ingredients read:
carrot, onion, garlic, ginger, cauliflower, wild rice, celery, kale, barley, cilantro

the soup is on.

if i thought i liked cooking, i've realized that i like feeding people more. offering hot bowls of delicious soup to strangers (some of whom truly needed it) was a highlight for me. the conversation began to flow, and the folks who had been distant passerby's moved in closer. engaged with us. ate soup and smiled. we shared gratitude, talked about the weather and politics. people asked for seconds and when we all parted ways, it was with warm bellies and hearts. i guess its always a good day for soup.

*thanks again to all our friends, old and new, who donated food stuffs and to miss patricia cournoyer for the photo-taking.