I suppose most of us spend the end of the year reviewing how things went.  As I thought of things that weren’t to my liking, I also decided to focus on things I found this year that were lovely, that kept me sane.  Some are new, some are old.  Here’s a list, in no particular order:

  • Rancho Gordo Beans and the proprietor, Steve Sando.
    • I was first introduced to this company years ago via our Food Group.  I’ve blogged about them before.  Not only are the beans themselves amazing, everything about this community kept me sane. Steve did a few webinars for us, as he wasn’t able to travel to Mexico as usual.  His open heart and belly laugh are endearing.  And the Face Book group for the Bean Club (yeah, I’m in the elite!) is a place of calm and generosity and kindness in this otherwise very hostile year.  If you haven’t tried these beans, please do.  And don’t worry, I’ve eaten black eyes peas for 3 days now, hoping to improve our luck!
  • Home Cooking podcast.
    • I don’t do podcasts.  Really.  Just this one.  Samin Nosrat (“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” book) and Hrishikesh Hirway put together this “4 part series” –it turned out to be something like 14– because they’re friends, and he knows how to do podcasts and everyone was stuck at home trying to cook with what they had at home since they didn’t want to go to the store too often.  It’s a combo of advice, laughter, satire, good natured kidding and puns.  It brightened my day and I actually looked forward to the next one coming out.  I’m saddened that it’s over, but plan to relisten to the whole thing.
  • Eat Your Books.
    • This is a service–free if you’re cheap like me, not too expensive if you want more–that allows you to list your cookbooks and cooking magazines.  Then, when you need inspiration for what to do with the kohrabi you got from the CSA, it searches and shows you recipes you already have.  What a time saver!  Also, it allows you to search recipes that are available for free on the internet. Play with it!
  • “Start Simple” by Lukas Volger.
    • Lukas is a chef who realized that when he shops for his family each week, the cart looks pretty much the same.  However, their meals vary tremendously.  So he wrote this book; it has a chapter each for 11 ingredients, and each chapter lists how to use these ingredients for a variety of dishes.  It’s simple, tasty and easy.  He cooks like I do.
  • Amaranth Bakery
    • I either blogged about this or put it on Facebook but if you avoid gluten in your life, you MUST get to know this bakery.  They are in Lancaster and historically were wholesale only.  One silver lining of covid:  they do mail order now!  I adore their bread, their sandwich rolls and their flatbread/ pizza shells.
  • Drumming and Christine Stevens
    • I’ve loved to drum for years (and recently found a local group!) but it’s Christine Stevens who really pulled me in.  A few decades ago, at a joint annual meeting of the American Holistic Medical and Nursing Associations, Christine was part of an evening drumming circle sponsored by Remo drums.  Imagine 80 or so medical professionals, in a huge circle, all drumming/pounding/shaking for the first time.  Over the years, I’ve run into Christine a number of times, and was able to participate in a year-long course she held online pre-covid.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn to drum, check her out.  It’s a way to balance your sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems.  It’ll make you smile and help you stop thinking.  We could all use more of that.
  • Chopra Center app
    • It’s covid times.  Even I have trouble keeping my brain still.  As a way to reinvigorate my meditation practice, I installed the updated version of this app.  I’d used it before, and yes, the new version is expensive as apps go (I imagine because the Chopra Center has been closed most of this past year!), but it’s really a great app.  If you’re new, they have short meditations with mostly talk to listen to.  If you’re more experienced, there are longer meditations with various focuses.  Something new every day.
  • Qi Gong
    • One of my yoga buddies has been studying qi gong for years and is currently doing a teacher training.  A handful of us are gathering for his classes each weekend (he has to teach 30 classes as part of his training).  It won’t supplant yoga in my world, but it has a special place in my life already.  I’m doing these movements every day; they are slow and mindful and help me feel the movement of energy.  The science of what it’s doing is clear and well studied, but I’d rather just focus on how I feel at the end of practice.  If you’ve never experienced it, find a class online and try it yourself!
  • Apollo Neuroscience
    • All of you know that my long time mantra is “get your adrenals to settle down”.  To do that, we balance our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which convinces our adrenals that the tiger is gone.  Although Heartmath techniques are my “go to” suggestion for heart rate variability training, a device from this company appears to be able to get you there as well, and a bit more passively.  I’ve been wearing this device for a few weeks now.  It vibrates when you turn it on, and depending on the pattern/frequency, it adjusts your parasympathetic and sympathetic output in different ways.  It should, over time, change your baseline heart rate variability….which is a good thing.  No time to discuss the whole thing here, but you should check it out.  Not cheap, unfortunately, but if you really hate Heartmath practice, look at this instead.  So far, I’m leaning toward thinking it will help long term.

There are more bright spots in my world, but these are things that might help you as well.  Take a look.  Find out what resonates.  And remember, we keep moving forward.  So let’s be sure that it’s fun and interesting.

Happy New Year to you all!