Fear not: chasing your dreams

You know that sportswear ad. You know the one with the athletes doing incredible feats, people running. The one with a simple message. And the swoosh. You know the one? The images, sports, people change, but the tag line and logo are always the same. I know you know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes it is that easy as the tag line says.

fears

Photo source: Facebook

 

As a little girl I had several dreams. One of them began at the age of about 11 (maybe earlier), I wanted to be a writer. The other, I am not sure when it came about, but possibly the same time; I wanted to move to Poland. I had many different motivations for this, but I think just like writing, it was a dream that chose me and not the other way around. There were times throughout my life when both dreams seemed closer or further away.

I think that little 11-year-old would be pretty proud of where I am now. I work with words every day. I live in Poland. Of course, there are still many things to accomplish, but I can say that in some part my dreams have materialized. It’s pretty neat.

Getting here took guts, but it was fairly easy. All it took was listening to my guts, my intuition, my viscera (as my favorite fashion mentor likes to say). And then I just leapt. Thinking back now, I had incredible trust that all will work out while there were thousands of possible things that could have gone wrong. Obviously, 30-something me could learn a thing or two from younger me.

But let me start at the beginning…

I had been dreaming for a long time and in May 2006, one year out of art school, I had a dream. Not in the Martin Luther King, Jr. kind of way, but in the I was asleep in my bed and had a dream kind of way. Some people may call this a nightmare. I call it a wakeup call. I dreamt of my paternal grandfather’s death. At the time, this grandfather was alive and well living in a small town in northeastern Poland. The regret I felt when I woke up for not having had spent enough time with him made me realize what I must do. Within days I purchased a plane ticket and in July I was on a plane. Very few people then knew of my intention to stay in Poland, and no one knew the why. I know how crazy acting out on a dream sounds.

Eight years later, it no longer sounds crazy. In January 2014 my paternal grandfather (the one I had dreamt about back in May 2006) passed. I had over seven years of seeing my grandfather more than I would have if I had been living in the US. He got to meet my husband and my son, who is named after him. We got to be in each other’s lives more. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I am so glad I bought that plane ticket after that dream. Had I not I would now be regretting it.

I didn’t realize though that in realizing one dream would make attaining another one easier. When I got to Poland, I quickly got offered a job teaching English, which soon enough turned to doing translations, proofreading and editing. While I loved teaching, this really allows me the lifestyle I’d always wanted to lead. And in my spare time I’m writing. I get to hang out at cafes during the day lazily sipping coffee watching people rush to work. I get to plan my work around my life and not the other way around. And most importantly, I get to work with words, my passion.

So what’s the point of me telling you all this?

I want to tell you to listen to your gut. What is your intuition telling you to do? It won’t steer you in the wrong direction. Don’t let fear stop you from going after what you want. When you’re going in the right direction, things seem to serendipitously click. It just somehow works out.

What I am saying is completely irresponsible. It is illogical.

Don’t listen.

Turn back.

 

But what can you achieve staying safe where you are?

 

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Staying Mentally Tough

I can’t help but think that athletes have a lot to teach us writers. There are so many things writing has in common with sports, but most of all endurance and discipline. My goal for myself is to stay in really good shape so I can be at my best well into my nineties because I just have so many things to accomplish. That is why I am reading and watching (and most importantly implementing) all that I can about motivation and how to do what needs to be done even if you don’t want to.

I recently came upon the following video that I thought I just had to share with you. Just click here to watch.

Source: MindBodyGreen

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Writing and emotions

Drawing by my son, Alex

Drawing by my son, Alex

 

Writing is a completely “in the body” experience. What I mean by that is that you are not a passive body just writing. For writing to be good, I think you HAVE to experience it through the body. To the observer, the writer just sits there (or stands there in some cases) and writes, but the physicality of writing is felt by the writer. The characters feel different emotions, and if the writing is to be any good the writer must deeply feel them as well. How else can you write about despair, joy, amazement, anger, frustration, disgust, excitation?

I don’t think it can be any other way. Too much intellectualization, academia could make the text boring, lifeless, flat. It MUST be felt physically. Just as the emotions are physical. What is writing if not for emotions? We connect to everything around us through emotions. That’s how we form relationships. And that’s what makes for good reading.

 

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My favorite Polish vegan blogs

I remember the first time I took a vacation to Central and Eastern Europe and people warned me that people ate MOSTLY meat here and I would have no options. While it is true that Poles (and Czechs, Slavs in general) like to eat a lot of meat, most cities have a lot to offer. Vegan restaurants are popping up all over Poland, especially Warsaw. The best burger joint in Warsaw according to Internet voters is actually VEGAN (check them out here).

And maybe because meat eating is so strong here, and considered to be so natural and part of “tradition,” there is a strong vegan movement with lots of non-profits and everyday people promoting veganism and fighting for animal rights. Thus, there are over 100 vegan blogs in Poland. Considering there are 38.5 million Poles, I’d say that’s actually quite a lot of blogs.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite Polish vegan cooking blogs.

 

…wait a minute. But they’re in Polish.

 

Don’t worry, uncle Google Translate comes to the rescue. Most of these blogs have a built in translator through Google. Those that don’t you can just copy and paste into Google Translate. These are blogs that I check often, and have tried at least several recipes with success. There are of course many more, but I really like these for their fresh perspective and that each one brings something different to the table.

 

fpvb jadlonomiaPhoto credit: Jadlonomia

 

You like what I did there? Haha. Oh wait, laughing at your own nerdy jokes makes them not funny. (sad face)

Here’s the list in no particular order:

 

 

Jadlonomia

She seems to have the biggest media presence in Poland. She’s written for many Polish magazines such as Elle as well as New York-based Chickpea. This blog is like the cool girl in high school, always a bit ahead of the trends. I have to commend her, because her blog is popular among non-vegans which means she is doing the good work of showing that vegans don’t eat dull, tasteless food. Some of my favorites include oyster mushroom soup, smoky red pepper spread, Thai Brussel sprouts, cauliflower couscous, and the white bean spread with poppy seeds. I also really enjoy reading about her travels.

 

 

Sojaturobie

This blog taught me some of my favorite spread recipes. She also translates Polish classics to vegan, which for me is especially helpful around holidays when I have in-laws to impress. One of my favorite recipes is pickled cucumber soup. This is a must try especially if you had no idea cucumbers could be put in soup. I definitely didn’t. Another favorite is for ‘smalec’ a white bean spread that’s traditionally made from lard. I never tried the non-vegan version, so I can’t say how it compares, but many meat eaters are impressed by it. Hands down, I’d rather try the vegan version because of the lesser ick factor.

 

 

Wegan Nerd

This is an esthetically appealing blog with many wonderful recipes. You can also find her recipes in Chickpea magazine. My favorite recipe is the parsley and lime smoothie, but I’m sure you’ll find many favorites.

 

 

readeat .pl

This is another one of those blogs that is a pleasure to look at. You may know it as it has been featured on Finding Vegan and FoodGawker. One of my favorite recipes on here is the green pea and sage spread. What can I say? I’m a spread fan. It just makes life so much easier.

 

 

EkoQuchnia

This blog started out vegetarian, but transitioned to exclusively vegan about 2 years ago. My favorite recipes are the gluten-free carrot and banana bread with nuts, poppy seed tart, millet and lentil balls, and the baked tomato soup.

 

 

Food Porn Vegan Style

This blog is making its rounds on the Internet. I bet you may have seen it. It’s bi-lingual, Polish and English, and has many green smoothie recipes. My favorites here include the raw buckwheat porridge with walnuts and caramelized apples and Indian pumpkin fritters.

 

 

Vege Luv

My favorite recipes include the yellow lentil hummus and the seed and date cookies.

 

 

VI&RAW

A raw vegan lifestyle blog. My favorite recipe is for the raw ‘sausages’.

 

 

Elf w kuchni (Elf in the kitchen)

This is my newest discovery. My favorite recipe so far is the chanterelles with steamed veggies.

 

 

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Murakami and discipline

She Runs and Shine

A few weeks ago I finished Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which I would never even have considered buying or reading had it not been for an interview I read with Murakami during which he spoke about how running changed his writing and that he thinks he’s a better author for it. Thus, my assumption when buying that book was that not only would he talk about running, but also writing. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed and there were several golden nuggets about writing.

There is one thing I wasn’t expecting, to be inspired to start running. Even more so considering I define myself as a non-runner. I hate running. I often told myself and others that I will not run for anything. But I noticed some parallels between what Murakami wrote about running and things I had noticed in his books. And that piqued my curiosity.

What could running do for me, I wondered. I also really hate it when people pin me down in a definition – a type. But I had done it to myself. And so I wanted to start running in spite of what I said of myself, because maybe just maybe I was a runner after all. It’s too early to tell, but I consider this an experiment. How long can I keep going? Will I ever like running? When will it not feel like hell? How long will it take for it to feel easier?

But I think the most important reason I wanted to start running is discipline. You can tell Murakami is disciplined. His whole life revolves around his writing, and he says he only runs to be able to keep writing. His existence is structured around writing. I definitely need discipline in my life, and so I figured if I can force myself to do something I hate to do (running), I can then be even more disciplined with something I love to do (writing).

I believe that everything we do can have meaning and purpose. Sometimes we just have to find it. I wonder what meaning I can find in running.

To read more on What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, go here.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

Besides death and taxes, one things that’s certain is change. And boy have things changed in my life over the last two years. My baby boy is already five years old. Can you believe it? I sure can’t. Over the last two years, I have been making incremental changes in my habits, which has added up to some big changes compounded over time, such as:

• I lost over 10 lbs. without any effort.
• I’ve developed a regular writing habit and am working, rewriting and editing a second draft of my novel. It’s not a cookbook, but the main character is a vegan.
• I’m just feeling better in general. I find joy (and sometimes ecstasy) in the everyday things. I feel healthier mentally and physically.

photo by J. Wojnar

photo by J. Wojnar

I’ve been at a crossroads about this blog. At first I just got busy, then lazy, and then afraid that if I start posting again it’ll be irregular and no one will read anyway. The truth is I find it hard to post regularly with the requirements I’ve set for myself. My original goal for this blog was simple: to write. It quickly developed into regular cooking posts, which I enjoyed, but developing recipes, cooking them (several times to get it right), taking pictures in the right conditions with my shitty camera, and posting regularly just became too much. Sorry. I’m just not cut out to be a recipe blogger. I love it. I love vegan food. I love to cook. I love to make up my own recipes. I’m just not that good at writing regularly about it.
In May 2014, I began cooking at a new gluten-free vegan restaurant – the first and only one in this town in northeastern Poland. It’s a part-time side gig where I’m getting my cooking and recipe-developing needs met . Once in a while if I come up with something exciting, I’ll post here. But do not expect there to be any great regularity or frequency in those types of posts.

So what should you expect my dear readers?

I could go on now for several hundred words about my plan for this blog, but to tell you honestly I don’t have one. And that’s kind of exciting. I want to write here with some regularity. Veganism is very important to me. So is food. But there are also so many other aspects to myself. Therefore I ask dear readers to just come along with me for the ride and we’ll see where this beautiful road takes us. Because as you may remember from Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter which road you take.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

I will write about things that interests me or things I have read. Hopefully, this will also interest others. The only way I can know that is if you comment, so please do that liberally. And if you miss my recipe posts, please let me know, maybe then I’ll be motivated to be more regular with those. I promise you one thing, this will not be an aimless meander through my brain and thoughts. Or maybe it will. Who knows?! I do plan on having a direction in which I will take this little blog, but that will possibly remain a mystery for some time.

Here’s to determination! I leave you with George Harrison’s “Any Road”:

 

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Coconut banana pancakes

I hate when I take long breaks from this blog, but life has gotten in the way. I have loads of recipes lined up, but I still write them up on a weekly basis. I apologize for my absence. I have a feeling summer may look a bit spotty as far as regularity goes, so be prepared.
Anyway, my life has been consumed for the last 2 months by a huge festival I’m helping to organize. It’s crazy what we’ve taken on, but also very exciting. For those of you who speak/read Polish, go to our website: www.festiwalznatury.pl. The main premise behind the festival is to live as naturally, socially and environmentally responsible as possible. There will be workshops and lectures about natural living, healthy lifestyle and eating, recycling, babywearing and so on. There will be loads of attractions like making fresh squeezed nettle juice, cold-pressed oils, grinding flour, etc. I will be teaching two workshops: one for children – making yarn mandalas; and one for adults (and children) about making healthy vegan snacks that take into account allergies and have nothing processed and no sugar. I’ll share some of those recipes in the future.

banana coconut pancakes 1

For now, another breakfast or brunch recipe. This can be completely oil free, just use a non-stick frying pan. This is such an easy and quick recipe that utilizes those ripe bananas – don’t you just love them as a sweetener? I make my own oat flour from oat flakes in a coffee grinder. This recipe can be gluten-free if you use GF oat flour.

banana coconut pancakes 2

Ingredients
3 ripe bananas
½ cup oat flour (use GF if needed)
4 tbsp. ground flaxseed
½ tsp. ground cardamom
1/3 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp. oil (optional)
2 tbsp. water
½ tsp. aluminum-free baking soda
oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mash up bananas with a fork.
  2. Add in rest of the ingredients. Mix well, but don’t overdo it.
  3. Heat frying pan. Drop in batter with a spoon.

Serve sprinkled with coconut flakes, fresh fruit and/or molasses.

Makes: 10 pancakes

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