I love the way the Internet tumbles us from one place to another. From idea to idea. Yes, that often adds up to a huge waste of time, but every once in awhile, it can lead us to something extraordinary. Something that inspires how we live our lives.
Last winter, I stumbled upon Danielle LaPorte’s website. What I found there changed the way I think about setting goals, chasing dreams, realizing passions, living my life and darn it all, I wish I’d thought of it. It’s brilliant.
After years of tedious goal setting sessions that resulted in the constant stress of trying to achieve those goals, Danielle realized that we have the procedures for achievement upside down.
“What if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings consciously informed how you plan your day, your year, your career, your life?” – Danielle LaPorte
After I finished her book, The Desire Map, which lays out her new approach to “goal-setting,” I hiked way down deep inside myself to explore how I want to feel about my dreams, my goals and my life. There were a lot of feelings down there (I tend to be a bit emotional), but I narrowed them down to four “desired feelings” that guide me toward accomplishing my goal, that aid me in the daily barrage of decision making, and that remind me how I want to live. What follows is my first one.
I desire to feel beauty in myself, in others, in my writing, in my photography, in my husband, in my children and in the natural world.
I’m not talking about superficial beauty. Or, painted on beauty. Or, beauty “that sells.” Or, beauty that exists to please others.
Consider the cherry. (Stay with me, friends.)
We love to plop the bosomy cherry into sweet pies. Or dress her up with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. We hold festivals to honor her pink, frilly blossoms. Painting the cherry tree is a respected art form. From the branches to the blossoms to the fruit, the cherry is a spectacle of beauty.
But that’s not the beauty I’m talking about. That’s not the beauty I desire.
I desire the hidden beauty that is in each of us. The beauty that is often overlooked by ourselves and by others because we’re looking at the wrong things. The outside, top of the skin beauty, dazzles us but we end up missing the whole point of someone’s or something’s deeper purpose. The beauty unique to her.
The true beauty of the cherry is that she won’t be tamed.
She will only bloom in spring. Her fully ripened voluptuous-self will only show in summer. She will not be tricked into blooming in a greenhouse in fall. She will not be put in cold storage to last out the winter. She won’t participate in the madness of “year round availability.” Yes, you can put her in a jar and seal her up. Yes, you can dry her out and put her in a bag. But if you want her in her prime, she will only appear for you in summer. On her timeline.
And what’s more, I believe that she does not want to be plopped into overly sweet desserts. She wants us to recognize that she can hold her own with shallots and goat cheese and bitter arugula. When she’s all dolled up with other sugars, her unique flavor becomes lost in the sea of saccharine. But, left to stand her ground with stronger ingredients, the depth of her sultry full-bodied flavor is truly appreciated.
When I say I desire to feel beauty, I want to answer these questions:
What can I write that’s more than a lovely string of words but shares my truest thoughts? What can I photograph that’s more than a pretty plate of cupcakes but that shows the incredible beauty of real, nourishing food? What can I see and recognize in others – my children, my husband, my friends, myself – that’s more than what they show on the outside? That’s more than what’s expected of them by others or by themselves?
What is your hidden beauty? What is it about you that people overlook? What do you wish people really knew about you? Or, what do you wish you really knew about yourself? This beauty can be as monumental as a career overhaul. Or, it may be as simple as remembering that as a child you loved to make things with your hands and you want to rekindle that love. Whatever it is. You need to get that out. The world will be a more beautiful place for knowing it.
|A Sultry Salad with Cherries, Goat Cheese and Arugula|| |
- 1 tbsp minced shallots
- 1 ½ tbsp. Champagne vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- 3-4 tablespoons Spanish olive oil (or other good quality)
- Handful arugula leaves
- Handful of baby greens
- ¼ cup cherries, pitted and halved
- Crumbled goat cheese
- Sprinkle of sliced almonds, toasted
- In a small bowl, or 4-cup glass, measuring container, whisk your shallots, vinegar and salt together. Set aside for 10 minutes or so to let macerate (i.e. fancy way to say marinate.) You can use this time to prep your cherries and toast your almonds.
- I toast sliced almonds in a small, dry saucepan over med-low heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant.
- When your vinegar and shallots are done macerating, slowly drizzle your olive oil into the mixture whisking constantly. Taste after 3 tablespoons. How much olive oil you use depends on how “pucker-y” you like your vinaigrette.
- Put your greens on a plate, top with the cherries, the goat cheese and the almonds. Drizzle some vinaigrette over the whole thing. Carry your plate somewhere peaceful and give the cherry the appreciation she deserves.
- PS: You can store any leftover vinaigrette in your fridge for a week or two.