The Priviledge of a Lifetime is Being Who you Are. ~Joseph Campbell

So…it’s 2am and I am on day 2 of my last week of night-shifts. As I work dutifully to keep myself entertained (aka awake), I find myself pondering over the last couple of weeks and the weeks to come. I look at the calendar and count out the days. 18 days left on the East coast. Wow. It’s an interesting sensation to be so excited and so nervous all at the same time. I have finally resigned from my job (insert sound of ‘crowd going wild’ here). Apartment and moving arrangements are falling into place. Cross-country road trip plans are in the works. And the endeavor of sorting and packing has begun. Still, there are so many things to think about: people to see, loose ends to tie up, upcoming school assignments, and the ever looming question of future employment.

While I have faith that things will work out, that last one has been a hurdle for me. It will be my first time venturing outside the steady paycheck bubble. And yet, while notably nerve wrecking, I also find it liberating. I feel free. Free to take on a job purely for the sake of being passionate about it, not just for the money. Free to do something that is authentically me, not something I started because I felt I had too. This move has been in the works for quite some time. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m determined. I believe that’s where it starts…having the courage to be who you are.

We need to have the courage to set ourselves free.

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Blueberry Ginger Jam

With July being national blueberry, I have been busy picking and making fun blueberry concoctions. This one is my latest:

6 cups organic/local blueberries (mushed – about 10 cups whole berries)
1 1/2 cup local honey/maple syrup (or 3 cups fresh pressed fruit juice)
1 cup organic/local ginger (finely chopped – food processor works well)
1 cup fresh pressed apple or pineapple juice
1 lemon
2 tsp lemon rind
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
canning jars & lids

Prepare jars & lids by boiling them. Wash and sort blueberries (remove any bits of stems, leaves, etc). Put blueberries into heavy stock pot. Mash berries until you have a smoothie-like consistency (food processor works well here). Finely chop ginger in a food processor with the cup of fresh pressed apple/pineapple juice. The juice helps the ginger chop & blend better. Add ginger juice mixture to blueberries. Squeeze juice of the lemon & add lemon rind into the blueberry ginger mixture. Mix in honey/maple syrup and spices. Bring mixture to a low rolling boil (hot enough to boil/low enough not to burn the sugars). Boil for about 30-45 minutes. Stir frequently. Watch for mixture to thicken. Test gel-ness by either dabbing a little jam on a cold saucer and placing in the fringe, or keeping a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon – check in a few minutes to see if it gels. When ready, ladle mixture into hot jars to within 1/4″ of top rim. Seal with lids. Place jars upside down for 5 minutes and then turn upright. Let set for 1 hour. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Once cooled, they’re ready to store.

I am also trying out a recipe for Blueberry Butter that my housemate forwarded me. For the recipe and other fun reads, check out Food in Jars.

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Ginger Jam

6 cups organic/local ginger (finely chopped – food processor works well)
2 1/2 cups local honey/maple syrup
2 cups fresh pressed fruit juice (apple, pineapple, mango, etc.)
2 lemons
4 tsp lemon rind
1/2 tsp ground clove
canning jars & lids

Prepare jars & lids by boiling them. Put finely chopped ginger into heavy stock pot. Squeeze juice of lemons & add lemon rind into mixture. Mix in fruit juice, honey/maple syrup and ground clove. Bring mixture to a low rolling boil (hot enough to boil/low enough not to burn the sugars). Boil for about 30-45 minutes. Stir frequently. Watch for mixture to thicken. Test gel-ness by either dabbing a little jam on a cold saucer and placing in the fringe, or keeping a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon – check in a few minutes to see if it gels. When ready, ladle mixture into hot jars to within 1/4″ of top rim. Seal with lids. Place jars upside down for 5 minutes and then turn upright. Let set for 1 hour. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Once cooled, they’re ready to store.

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Old Fashioned Blueberry Jam

6 cups organic/local blueberries (mushed up)
1 cup local honey/maple syrup (or 3 cups fresh pressed fruit juice)
1 lemon
2 tsp lemon rind
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
canning jars & lids

Prepare jars & lids by boiling them. Wash and sort blueberries (remove any bits of stems, leaves, etc). Put blueberries into heavy stock pot. Mash berries until you have a smoothie-like consistency. Squeeze juice of the lemon & add lemon rind into the blueberry mixture. Mix in honey/maple syrup and spices. Bring mixture to a low rolling boil (hot enough to boil/low enough not to burn the sugars). Boil for about 30-45 minutes. Stir frequently. Watch for mixture to thicken. Test gel-ness by either dabbing a little jam on a cold saucer and placing in the fringe, or keeping a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon – check in a few minutes to see if it gels. When ready, ladle mixture into hot jars to within 1/4″ of top rim. Seal with lids. Place jars upside down for 5 minutes and then turn upright. Let set for 1 hour. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Once cooled, they’re ready to store.

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Organic Walnut Ginger Meatloaf

1.5 lb organic ground beef
1 organic egg
1 organic/local onion
1 organic/local pepper
3 cloves organic/local garlic
1/4 cup organic/local parsley/cilantro
1/2 cup organic walnut
1/3 cup favorite marinade/BBQ/ketchup
2 tbsp favorite mustard
2 tbsp ginger jam
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground clove
Pinch cayenne/chili powder

Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees.
Chop & saute onions, peppers & garlic together. Chop & toast walnuts. Chop parsley/cilantro. Mix saute, parsley/cilantro & toasted walnuts in with the rest of the ingredients. Put into baking dish. Bread & muffin pans work well too. Bake for 1-1.5 hours until done. Enjoy!

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What’s it worth?

Ever have moments where you just don’t want to do something or anything for that matter? You’re momentarily disenfranchised with everything…but frustrated because secretly you do want to do something…you just don’t know what. In moments like this my mind will run in an entertaining feedback loop. I don’t want to do what I am doing. I begin thinking for a hot second that I don’t want to do anything and relish in how nice that would be…only to realize in doing so I would be bored out of my mind…thus bringing me back to my task at hand. Through this process there is always one question that bubbles up for me. If I don’t want to do what I’m doing, and want to keep boredom at bay, then what do I want to do?

This is a question I have been entertaining since I was young. Through it, there are a couple of things I have come to realize. First, while there might be people to guide you throughout your life, most of life’s decisions are your own. No one but you can make them. It is you who has to make the decision to do something.

Next, if you are going to do something, why not make it worth doing? We could get into the whole ‘what is the purpose of life’ question here, but basically it comes down to one thing: Life is an occasion. Are you going to rise to it?

The next question in this series is: what do you consider worth doing? Again, this is a question only you can truly answer. This is a question of how well you know yourself. What do you like to do? What are your talents? If you could do ‘anything,’ what would that be? What are you passionate about? Who and what are you inspired by? These kinds of questions can be pondered in many ways: writing (journaling, creative writing, poetry, etc.), movement (dancing, yoga, tai chi running, etc), handwork (sewing, knitting, crocheting, salvage arts, etc.), arts (painting, drawing, sculpting, etc.), music (singing, playing, listening, creating, etc.), performance (acting, spoken word, dance, etc.), homesteading (gardening, canning, cooking, etc.), volunteering and many other methods of reflection and creative play.

Lastly, the question of ‘what you want to do’ is a lifetime journey. You will continue to mold and shape it your whole life. It does not have to be figured out in the next hour. It only matters that you are asking the question and pursuing an answer.

Some might call this pursuing happiness. I think of it as making my life worth something, not only to others, but also to myself. The weight and wake of our lives counts. It is our decision what we do with that opportunity.

Get your hands dirty…dig deep for your purpose.

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