I'm in the fog of early winter. Everything seems to be slowing down, winding inward, and at the same time, I'm in a wind tunnel of holiday obligations, out-of-balance children, short days and wet weather. I need peace like I need oxygen right now. I am learning that peace, while seemingly buoyant and pristine, takes a hell of a lot of work. Sleeves rolled up, hands plunged in deep, discipline-to-the-third-degree work. I'm making mistakes. I'm living. And I'm listening to people smarter and older than myself while I do the work.
This morning, while listening to a service from our local Unity church online, I got up and jotted these things down (on the virtue-laden refrigerator): Everyday: Share your gift. Learn something new. Be grateful.
I don't think the Native American elder speaking at the time that I got up to write this down said exactly this, but I carried his message to my refrigerator and completed the thought as it made sense to me. I'm in the mood to keep things simple. Gratitude rules the roost here. Learning new things keep us moving. Sharing the best pieces, the precious pieces, of myself - that's a tough part of the peace machine. I've got no space to be stingy right now. My little people need me to stretch myself and share. I need me to stretch myself and share. The vapid mouth of The Holidays and Attendant Gloom threatens to swallow me should I refuse.
If I can do these three things in a day, I think it follows I will be a friend to myself, a kind and loving family member, and of service to others.
Here's my gift today: bone broth. I have been sipping it every morning in place of my usual breakfast these past few weeks. It meets my need for something warm in hand,and it leaves me full for hours. I know there is a larder full of science to tell me all the good things bone broth does for me, but sipping is good enough for me. I feel it. And when all else seems wild in my world, I feel like I'm communing with the otherwise wasted parts of the fine animals we eat. Simple enough. Gratitude.
Need I mention, too, I gave up coffee a few months ago? I miss her, her smell, her taste, her companionship, but I don't miss the disturbed sleep, anxiety, and general edginess. Bone broth isn't so good with heavy cream, but it is a steamy cup of zoom, the heavy-lifting kind of zoom. More like, z-o-o-o-o-m. And my extracellular matrix appreciates it. So there.
I keep it simple. You can find a bazillion recipes that include vegetables and herbs. I add nothing but bones (raw or cooked) or parts - chicken feet, for example, scored from a farmer for a mere nothin' - filtered water and some raw vinegar (about 2 Tbsp per gallon). I cover the bones with the water, turn the crock pot to high, and walk away for 24 hours. I strain the mixture into mason jars, let it cool on the counter, and then freeze or refrigerate. If I'm using cut bones, I pop out the marrow and add it to sauces, stir it into mashed vegetables, or, well, just straight up eat it. The baby adores it. The dog appreciates it. Our cold-weather menu of braises, soups and stews glimmers with it. I scoop the fat that settles on the top of the broth and save it separately in the fridge for frying. I always leave a little fat in the jar, on top of my gelatinous broth, and stir it into the pot when I reheat broth for sipping. I'm convinced this is what keeps me satisfied for hours. A pinch of sea salt into the mug and I'm set.
Set to share my gifts, learn something new, and be grateful.
What fuels your peace machine and keeps you present when this season gets cracking? Does it even slightly resemble a crock pot full of chicken feet?