Dreams and Dharma

sunrise

Is there a difference between dreams and dharma?  For those of you who have read the Bhagavad Gita, you may recall that dharma refers to an individual’s life purpose.  Without getting too heady, dharma is about your duty to your true gift.  You may ask: well, how do I know what my purpose, or true gift is?

Some people are already living their dharma.  You’ll recognize these people by the shining light in their eyes.  By the energy and passion they bring to their work.  These are the people who become so engrossed in a project, they forget to eat, or go to the bathroom.

Dreams and dharma are often not synonymous.  Dreams are idealized future outcomes that we write a story in our minds about.  I’ve always been a dreamer, though I confess that it sometimes prevents me from living my life right now.  I can identify with the need to escape an uncomfortable present-moment by retreating to the comfort of imagination’s constructs.

I’ve always had this nagging sense that I am meant for something different than what I am doing with the majority of my time now, which is working for an insurance company.  But this is a split mentality, because other times, I experience enormous guilt for not being grateful for my situation.  My job affords me a comfortable lifestyle with the ability to purchase things.  There is one huge flaw to this.  “Things” have never led to sustained happiness for me.  They are temporary distractions, justification of staying in a present-moment situation that is not aligning with my gift, my purpose, my dharma.

Misalignment vs. guilt.  Neither reality is attractive.  So, what’s left?  Either I accept my current job, and keep dreaming, or I pull the bow back and let go, hoping that my arrow lands smack in the center of my dharma target.

Do I know what my dharma is?  Not with totality.  I feel a pull toward the transformative qualities of yoga and meditation practice.  I come home to my true self when immersed in the wonders of nature, no matter how simple.  I am enthralled by great writing, and feel safety and confidence when I write.  I have wildly creative dreams each night, ones that catapult me into a different realm altogether.  While I haven’t got all the chips to fall in a way that makes complete sense to me, I am getting there.

Meditation is so important to uncovering dharma.  Meditation has allowed me to access memories that I’ve wedged into the corners of my mind.  I can remember being whisked away into the mysterious prose woven by Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree still leaves me in tears), C.S. Lewis, and later, Tom Robbins, and Jane Austen.  Hopping up on a picnic table in my backyard to pretend I was a character in a novel is a memory which foreshadows my budding creativity and imagination.  Building forts in the woods behind my house, and inventing ceremonial practices in the company of my own wistful spirit was another common occurrence.  I’ve always been reflective, contemplative, naturally drawn inward.  Somewhat of a recluse, like Thoreau I suppose.  I think it’s so important to encourage these childhood memories back to the forefront of our mind, so we may be reminded of what brought us the special brand of pure, untainted joy that can’t be broken.

One thing that has helped me move closer to my dharma, is being hyper aware of the potential signs all around.  These messages can show up in unexpected conversations, an animal you keep crossing paths with (for me, it’s a hawk), a fantastically painted sunrise, or a gut feeling.  Stay in tune with where the universe is trying to navigate you, and simply allow.  Observe with curiosity.  Take steps toward your gift, nurture the gift, and soon you’ll be living your dharma.

Namaste,

Steph xo

Throwback Tracks

Throwback Tracks

Music is therapy. Music is love. Music is freedom, hope, and nostalgia. Nothing lifts my mood quite like some thumb-tapping, head-bobbing, fist-pumping, kick ass tunes. So in observance of Throwback Thursday, I decided to go through my music and hand-select some seasoned songs that take me down memory lane, and inspire creativity.

1. Bloc Party – Blue Light
2. Outkast – Life is Like a Musical
3. Wilco – Jesus, Etc.
4. Under the Influence of Giants – Mama’s Room
5. The Roots – What They Do
6. Beck – Earthquake Weather
7. MGMT – Electric Feel
8. Outkast – Spottieottiedopalicious
9. Kings of Leon – Radioactive
10. Jeff Buckley – Dream Brother
11. The Strokes – Automatic Stop
12. Silverchair – Tomorrow

What are some of your favorite throwback tracks?

xo
Steph

Perfect Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Perfect Pumpkin Soup Recipe

There’s something undeniably satisfying about soup, particularly in the cold-weather months (which we have many of here in CT). Soup warms the soul. This pumpkin soup is so uplifting, even the vibrant orange color makes me happy. I love soup because it fills the belly at a low calorie cost.

The health benefits of this soup are innumerable. Pumpkin is a fantastic source of fiber and Vitamin C. It also has loads of Potassium (more than bananas, surprisingly) and contains the cancer-preventing antioxidant beta-carotene. Carotenoids are free-radical neutralizers which may prevent wrinkles, so for that reason alone, I’m sold on pumpkin.

Curry powder has its own special health benefits as well. This soup does not have an overwhelming curry scent or taste, if you’re not fond of it. So try it! Curry helps control blood sugar, has cancer-preventive benefits, may help lower cholesterol, and has detoxifying effects.

So without further ado:

Perfect Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Ingredients:
-1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (white button work great, baby bella as well)
-1/2 cup chopped onion
-2 tablespoons butter or margarine
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder
-3 cups vegetable broth (I’ve made this with chicken broth as well and that works too)
-1 15-oz can solid-pack pumpkin
-1 12-oz can evaporated milk
-2 tablespoons honey
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the mushrooms and onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour and curry powder and blend well. Cook for a couple minutes to get rid of that raw flour taste. Slowly add in all the broth. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add in the pumpkin, milk, honey, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Heat through. Makes 7 servings. You can garnish this with sour cream and chives if you feel so inclined, I usually skip the garnish because it’s fabulous on its own!

If you’re wondering, the honey does not make it sweet, it just has this perfect balance of flavors. Even my brothers (meat-and-potato kind of eaters) love this soup. It’s a crowd pleaser, is great to entertain with, and makes excellent leftovers.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

xo Steph

Truth or Dare: Review of The Whole Truth Vitamin C Kit by Ole Henriksen

True or Dare: Review of The Whole Truth Vitamin C Kit by Ole Henriksen

I feel it is my civic duty to tell you about these products. I have heard many great things about Ole Henriksen’s skincare products and lines, and I am completely kicking myself for not trying them sooner!

I recently have become a freak about anti-aging and protecting my skin in any way possible. This stuff is other-worldly. First of all, it smells like candy. It’s got this fresh, citrusy-vanilla scent that reminds me of a creamsicle. Mmmm. So not only does it smell delicious, but the consistency is so luxurious, particularly the cream. It’s lightweight, and reminiscent of whipped cream (a lot of things remind me of food!).

What I love about these products is that a little product goes a LONG way. At first, when I saw how small the jars were, I was mildly disappointed. But this will last me quite some time, considering how little product you need to cover your face. For $45, I believe it’s a good value. Ole Henriksen’s products, and this particular kit, are available for purchase through Sephora. After reading some reviews of the product, I ordered through their website, since some consumers were complaining of product going rancid, and they claimed that if you order it online, you’re getting a “fresher batch.” Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. I had no problem with anything being rancid. The products have a protective seal and all seemed fresh to me.

How to use:

Currently I’m using this for my morning routine. So, after cleansing and toning (make sure your toner dries completely) lightly pat on the collagen-boosting serum. Let that soak in and dry as well. Next, apply your moisturizer all over the face and neck. Using your ring finger, dip into the eye cream, gathering a tiny amount of product, and tap onto your under-eye area gently. If you’re applying makeup after, next you’d go ahead and apply your primer and foundation, etc.

Note: I really wouldn’t recommend this for people with oily skin. It’s fantastic for adding moisture back into your skin, especially in the winter months. It does make my skin visibly glow and appears to plump up the skin and reduce the look of fine lines.

Overall, I give this an A! Wonderful product if you’re just starting the anti-aging process and want to give something a try for a reasonable price.

Glowing Green Smoothie

Get Glowing!Glowing Green Smoothie

If you want glowing skin, you really want to work from the inside out. Glowing skin starts with proper nutrition, and getting all those lovely nutrients and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables into your body. It will thank you in many ways, and will be reflected on your face.

I can’t say enough about smoothies. Smoothies are the perfect way to pack a punch of vitamins and minerals. They are quick, easy, convenient, portable, and allow you to get as much vitamins as possible into a small package. Sometimes the sheer volume of a giant salad is not appealing to me. Enter smoothies. Plus you can drink them at your desk. Did I mention I LOVE smoothies? 😉

Glowing Green Smoothie Recipe

Place into a blender:

-1 cup frozen fruit (I used a mixed bag of strawberries, peaches, and mangoes)
-1 cup almond milk
-1 tsp honey
-1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (Fage! Try it – you won’t regret it!)
-1 ripe banana
-1 scoop Herbalife Healthy Meal in French Vanilla (use any vanilla protein powder you like)
-1 big handful fresh greens (I used spinach in this)

Blend away, pour into a chilled glass, and slurp the frothy goodness from a straw (if you’re a kid at heart, like me).

Glowing yet?? 🙂

xo Steph

Below the Surface

Below the Surface

As a girl, I know that feeling beautiful is extremely important to our self-esteem. At least, it is to mine. I have experimented with so many beauty products, pigments, treatments, the latest “fixes” or enhancements. These are temporary remedies. A way to feed our vanity and feel pretty for a moment, or a night. But when the makeup washes off, and we get to the bottom of our jar of wrinkle cream, what’s left? We look in the mirror and ultimately have to face what God gave us. We can’t hide behind a veil of powder forever.

I do believe that true beauty comes from within. I haven’t found that more than skin-deep beauty in myself yet, if I’m being perfectly honest. I’m constantly chasing beauty. I wish I had fuller lips, smoother skin, a thin nose, perfectly-shaped brows, and thicker, longer lashes. It doesn’t end. When will I be satisfied with my own beauty? And when do we start blaming society for this skewed sense of beauty, instead of ourselves?

Gorgeous Gluten-Free Muffin Recipe

Gorgeous Gluten-Free Muffin Recipe

What do you get when you combine coffee, cozy sweatpants, and a warm baked good? HEAVEN.

These guys came out dense, moist, satisfying, and yummy.

You’ll need:
-2 ripe bananas
-1 cup plain Greek yogurt (Fage is my fave!!)
-2 1/2 cups uncooked oats (I used quick oats)
-2 eggs
-3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-chocolate chips for the top (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place muffin liners in a muffin pan (if you don’t have them, spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray). Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way with batter (I like to use an ice cream scoop to be consistent). Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on the top of each muffin if you’d like. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool slightly and enjoy!