Friday, December 28, 2012

Remembering 2012

Along the path of the Walk-n-Roll for Spina Bifida
It's hard to believe another year is coming to a close since Stephanie's passing in 2010.  At the end of 2010 I remember feeling guilty about starting a new year without her.  It just didn't feel right.  At the end of 2011 I remember thinking, "Wow.  I can't believe I made it one full year without her."  What I came to realize in 2012 is that I'm not without her. Her spirit lives on and Stephanie will always be a part of my life.

2012 was a year of healing, growth, and new adventures.  Stephanie's continued presence in my life has inspired me to try new things and to enjoy the basic pleasures of life.  Quite honestly, I'm not at the emotional point of where I'd like to be.  Perhaps I'll never be.  That's o.k., though, because once you've reached your destination your journey has ended.  This is not what life is to me.  It's about continued growth.  So while I may never reach that ultimate point of contentment in this life, I know that each day is another opportunity to  learn, heal and grow.  That alone is a reason to get up in the morning and face the day with gusto and gratitude.  That is happiness.

My nephew insisted we make monster cupcakes for him.
Here are a few of my standout "happies" from 2012.

1.  Yoga
I was introduced to the practice of yoga late in 2011.  The few poses I did on my own were challenging, but beneficial.  I could tell I would build strength and improve my balance if I continued to this with some guidance.  I searched on line for yoga centers and found one closeby.  Each semester they offer a week of free classes, so I decided to try the therapeutics yoga in early January 2012.  When I called to get more information this was the one that was recommended for me.  I was impressed not only with yoga itself, but also with the instructor.  She was willing to work with me and that makes all the difference in the world.  Therapeutics is a very small class which allows for much individualized instruction.  Not only has yoga improved my balance and strengthened my muscles, it has made me more aware of what I can and cannot do.  More often than not I'm amazed at what I can do.  Therapeutics is a perfect fit for me and I plan on continuing with it well into the future.

2.  Blog
Castle in the Sky Beaded Charm Bracelet
I launched my Etsy business, StringtownBeads on July 25, 2011, exactly one year after Stephanie's passing.  Since then I've made it my annual goal to "bring something to life" on that date.  This year it was my blog.  This has allowed me to have a creative outlet besides my beading.  I love to write and I love to share what I write. 

3.  Family Events
In the summer my niece made her regular July trip to visit.  We enjoyed beading together, going to the movies, dining out, and spending time at home with my brother's family.  In September my youngest nephew was born, and in October we celebrated my oldest nephew's third birthday.  It was a beautiful fall day which made me feel like a kid again.  I enjoyed being among nature in the park and swinging on the swing set.  I think I probably had just as much fun as the birthday boy did.

Mom's Birthday Card
Dad's Birthday Cake
During the summer I simultaneously planned separate surprise birthday parties for my parents.  For my mom we had a not so quiet gathering at home.  It was during Ramadan, so it was a joyous occasion for more reasons than one.  About 50 family members gathered at my parents' house to celebrate.  In September we celebrated my dad's 70th birthday at a local favorite Indian restaurant.  Both my mom and my dad were surprised and grateful for their respective celebrations.  Good times were had by all. 

4.  Walk-n-Roll
In October I participated in the Walk-n-Roll for Spina Bifida.  This is an annual event that raises money and awareness for people like me who are living with spina bifida.  The money goes to research and care for us.  It was a beautiful fall day in a local park.  We walked and in my case rolled in my wheelchair on the mile-long trail.  We then enjoyed brunch at a local restaurant.  My youngest nephew who was one month young at the time even attended!

5.  Etsy Team
In August I was invited to join a Maryland Promotions team on Etsy and a few months later I was asked to become a team leader.  I gladly accepted.  From this team I have gained practical knowledge about owning an Etsy business and I have gained friendships that are sure to last a lifetime.  All of this has breathed new life into my shop.

What a great year!  I can't wait to see which beads of life we string together in 2013!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Take Thirty Seconds to Change your Life

“‎Imagine that every person in the world is enlightened but you. They are all your teachers, each doing just the right things to help you learn perfect patience, perfect wisdom, perfect compassion.” - Buddha

Take 30 seconds to think about all of the people in your life - your family, your friends, and your colleagues.  Think about the cashier you briefly spoke with at the store last week and the customer service representative you spoke with on the phone the other day.  Think about as many people as you can with whom you have somehow interacted, even the the ones you think have negatively impacted your life.  Now imagine for a moment that they are all here for a reason, and that reason is to make you a better person.

This is what I did when a friend recently introduced me to this quote.  Like many people, it's easy for me to feel discouraged when people don't follow through on things the way I believe they could have.  The way I expected them to.  But what if they are doing exactly what they should be doing to make me a better person?  We cannot learn patience if we never have to wait.  We cannot become wiser if we always stay within our own little world.  We cannot learn compassion if we ourselves never experience some kind of suffering.

To let go of expectations and our ego is not easy, but if we can do this even just briefly once a day we would see the world from a different perspective and we would live our lives differently.  Instead of expecting we would be more accepting.  As 2012 comes to a close and we string the beads of life in the new year, will you join me in this challenge to at least once a day for thirty seconds think of the every single person besides yourself as the enlightened ones and your teachers?       

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Mommy-inspired Chicken Curry

Growing up, my favorite dish was chicken curry.  Not just any chicken curry. My mommy's chicken curry.  I could and did eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I've had many versions of chicken curry, but hers is by far the best.  Fact.  : )

When I recently told some friends about her magical concoction they were curious and wanted the recipe.  I believe that all good things should be shared whenever possible, and so does my mommy.  When I asked her for permission to share her recipe she did not hesitate to say, "Yes."  So she told me how she makes it and I stored it in my phone.  I then made it myself.  It was close to the taste of hers, but definitely not the same.  That's because hers has mommy's magical touch, which cannot be duplicated.  And so I share with you my Mommy-inspired Chicken Curry.  The actual perfect recipe cannot be duplicated unless my mommy comes to cook for you and adds her magical touch.  This is why I call it mommy-inspired.

The recipe below is how I made it.  You can change the amount of chicken or use dark meat.  You can also adjust the amount of spices to suit your taste.  I like it medium spicy.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
oil (one turn of the pan)
1/4 cup curry powder
4 teaspoons garam masala
1 clove garlic, minced
2 wiri wiri peppers (or whichever peppers your prefer)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tomato, diced
Sprinkle of ground cumin
Salt to taste (a little goes a long way)
Water - enough to cover the chicken

1.  Fry the chicken with salt and onions.  Add oil if you are using white meat.
2.  Add curry powder, garam masala, garlic, and tomato paste.  Let it fry until dry.
3.  Add enough water to cover the chicken.
4.  Cover pan.  Let it simmer on low.
5.  Add tomato.
6.  Sprinkle with ground cumin.
7.  Serve with white rice or Indian bread.
8.  Devour!
Mommy-inspired chicken curry with white rice and wild rice,
served on a plate given to me by Stephanie.
 I would love to know what your favorite dishes are.  Please share below!