I've been thinking a lot about change. There has been some very drastic changes in our community and we are about to embark on a new journey of being parents. I live in Santa Rosa California which was hit over four weeks ago by devastating fires that left people running for their lives and our community on edge for weeks. We were some of the lucky ones that didn't have to evacuate but were really close to. It was an experience like no other. Seeing fire surrounding our house in multiple different directions, gathering with our neighbors daily talking about if we were staying or evacuating, knocks on our door at odd hours warning us about the fires, constant alerts on our phones, breathing masks, keeping our car packed in case we had to evacuate at any moment, worrying about evacuated family members, feeling our heartbreaks as we learned of families losing their homes and grieving the beautiful community we know. Our community was forever changed.
Change is challenging especially when it isn't on our own terms and it is started with something traumatic. I am not an expert on how it is to lose a home, the life you built or fear for your life but I just offer up what comes to me. Grief and trauma changes us forever. They twist us in ways we could never imagine. For me when my mom died by a drunk driver when I was nineteen I couldn't imagine getting out of that funk that I was in for a long time. The waves of change mixed with grief warrant a part of us that we may have never seen or harnessed before. It is scary and there is no way of telling when a flood of emotions will strike. These big life altering changes will take many years of healing and there might always be a hole in our heart that can't be filled but that is okay. This builds our character, our compassion, our resilience and our gratitude of this life. I know for me I have seen over time how my experience has helped shape me into the person I am today and brought me the ability to be compassionate and understanding when others can't. There is no downplaying the pain and sadness but slowly it gets a little better.
I definitely have seen the beauty of our community in helping others and trying to provide others with their immediate needs. That is the great gift of tragedy, the opening of hearts to help others. We can see ourselves in others and find that empathy that we can't always find everyday. I know as I drive around Sonoma County and see the devastation it really takes my heart to a new level. I can't imagine what it is like for the people that live in these different areas but I well up with tears seeing places I used to walk, live, enjoy and have memories. Our beautiful Santa Rosa community continues to come together to support and uplift the people and places affected by the fire. My hope is that the compassion and caring will continue long after the ashes clear because the hardest part of healing is feeling you are alone when others are wrapped up in their own lives.
Another change that is just around the corner is becoming parents. It is such a weird feeling knowing your life is going to change but not really knowing how and what it will be like. That is really what any change is like but this one feels like a big one. There is fear, excitement and wondering when exactly it will happen. I think it is so funny how many people try to prepare you, compare their lives with yours, give unsolicited advice and assume you don't know much. I am amazed by how many people try to instill fear in giving birth, being a parent and how my life is going to change. I'm not trying to be a Pollyanna about becoming a parent but my experience will be my experience and I don't want to take on other people's fears.
I know people want to try to protect me or prepare me for how it might be but in reality we all have our own experiences. I try in my own life to not project my fears onto others. I definitely have my own judgements but I like to keep them to myself, if possible. For me I know I have enough anxiety and worry that I don't need a audience of people telling me what I should worry about. As we near the arrival of our little man people love to say something about how I am past my due date. They think I want him to come right now or am worried that I am past my due date. In my eyes I see the due date as silly because how could we think we be in charge of when another person should enter this world. I believe he will come exactly on time.
What I've learned is that people have fears from their own experiences and love to share them with me. Others don't always realize that they aren't helpful and can create anxiety for somebody else. I feel lucky I have worked on myself that I try my hardest to let others advice or opinions roll off me like a drop of water on a ducks back. I know their intention is good but I get to create the reality I believe is best for me and my family. This will come up many more times in my life especially with the little man getting ready to make his appearance. I will not always know what is best for him because he is his own individual person. I will have to learn to step back and let him grow into the person he is suppose to be even if it is not what I desire or wish he was doing. I also hope to empower him to listen to himself more than what other people tell him because it took me many years to get to this point. I do find lots of beauty when I can laugh at other people's advice or opinions rather than worry I'm doing it wrong.
There have definitely been some shockers. The biggest one was when I was in Whole Foods. I was wondering around trying figure out what I wanted to eat. I heard a faint, "what are you having?" Then I heard again. I said, "I don't know," because I thought he was talking about my food. Then I realized he was asking about if I was having a boy or girl. I said,"a boy." The elderly man said, "did you want a boy?" I said, "originally we were hoping for a girl but are happy with a boy." He said, "I wanted a girl too but I got a son and I still don't like him." He scampered away saying, "good luck." I was in shock and wanted to say good luck to him because I need no luck in enjoying my son. I definitely was dismayed by this interaction. I wonder why he thought this would help me?
I feel happy that I can step in this change with wonderment and open arms because I really don't know how it is going to be. But I feel blessed that I know I will let the changes unfold how they are suppose to.
Change comes in many forms. There are the unwelcome changes that take us by surprise and we definitely have no control of them. Then there are the changes we plan for but still have no control over. Change happens all the time and our resilience is needed at every opportunity. Sometimes I have to just put my hands out to the universe and say I don't know what I should do. The answers come and a lot of times they come in the form of letting go.
Let's step on over to making a simple recipe that is wrapped with the metaphor of change. It is has a sweet and savory side that mimic how change can have a juicy, sugar-coated side and a more bitter, earthy side. It is absolutely intertwined and they usually come together at different times but the beauty comes in knowing they compliment each other and raise our being to a new level.
Maple & Gruyere Brussel Sprouts
1 1/2 cups of brussel sprouts, cut in half
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, to coat the brussel sprouts and walnuts
1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 cup of roughly chopped walnuts
1/3 cup of grated gruyere cheese
Dash of salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Cut brussel sprouts in half and discard any brown leaves. Mince the garlic clove. Roughly chop the walnuts, I prefer leaving them in pretty large pieces.
2. Put brussel sprouts and walnuts on a baking sheet or a ceramic dish. Spread the olive oil, maple syrup and garlic over the top then mix with hands. Add a salt and pepper.
3. Cook brussel sprouts till they have a light brown color, about 20-30 minutes. In the last five minutes spread the cheese over the top so it melts. Serve warm.
Embrace the change and also allow the space to grieve, be sad and mourn for what was. Even when you welcome or seek out change you have no control of the true unfolding. Open up to the transformation of your soul and let the judgements of others blend into the background.