Day 50: A Fountain Of Gratitude & Cookies

IMG_20140219_204247_203 IMG_20140219_205847_453

I am totally spent from a day full of channeling creative energy. Tomorrow prospective students will be coming to look at one of the institutes where I work in droves and we have been preparing for more than a month. The teachers are under a lot of pressure to create interesting performances and we have done just that.

The students have done such great work memorizing their lines for various parts of various performances and I am so proud of them. I made cookies to prove it. The first batch came out as one giant cookie and luckily my roommates came home in time to stop me from eating the whole thing.

Giant cookie = TEAspoon not TABLEspoon, got it.

Giant cookie = TEAspoon not TABLEspoon, got it.

In my hazy daze I’ve been dreamily wondering about the nature of creative energy; it’s not like physical energy, you don’t get it from ATP and glucose reactions in the chemistry of your body. Instead of something tangible it comes to us in the form of “inspiration” and we use our will power and physical power in tandem to create something new and (sometimes) wonderful. Creative energy becomes art like chemical energy becomes playing a sport. I guess that means that in the same way we have veins for proteins and carbohydrates to flow through, we must then have veins for inspiration to flow through.

Teaching a student of mine who is playing Planet Earth how to act sick and polluted.

Teaching a student who is playing Planet Earth how to act sick and polluted.

How do you visualize the flow of creative energy through your body? I know this is how it feels to receive it but then what? What does your inspiration feel like?

Day 31 Again: The Choc Chip Banana Bread You CANNOT Mess Up

So last night I came home from a meeting and remembered I had to bake something before the New Moon was over. (Read about why, here.) I was feeling giddy about an exciting project in its early-manifestation stages and therefore wasn’t in the tidiest mood so I thought, I know, yeah, a blog post about how to bake, for messy people!

I know you’ve seen all those high-tech, gourmet food bloggers, I drool over their posts too. But I am not one of them. No one taught me how to bake, I just figure it out as I go along and this is one of the recipes that’s always been the most forgiving. I’ll include below what they told me to use, and what I actually used, adjust yours according to taste.

It’s always hard to eat all the bananas before they inevitably turn to mush. Next time that inevitably happens, don’t shed a tear, pop them in the freezer! I know the bananas look scary and black, but they taste SO good, trust me on this one, it’s worth the “ick” factor. Now you never need to be afraid to buy too many bananas. You’re welcome.

bbread1Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Oh, how is it that you can’t mess this one up, you ask? Well you see, my terrible Spanish oven burned the living crap out of this loaf I made last night and all three of my roommates still wrote all over the refrigerator about how delicious it was – on the inside, because that’s where it counts, guys.

1 2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Cinnamon [I used way more]
1/2 tsp Salt [A little more]
1 Cup + 2 tbsp Sugar [Half of it brown]
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Olive oil [Half coconut oil]
3 1/2 Mashed v. ripe bananas [Used 3]
2 tbsp Sour cream [Original recipe called for creme friache but I don’t know what that is. Greek yogurt works but I used flan, since I’m in Spain and that’s more common.]
1 tsp Vanilla [Twice that]
2/3 Cup Walnuts [Chocolate chunks]

bbread21. Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. If you can’t sift (which is actually really worth the extra dish to wash if you like fluffy baked goods) use a whisk or a fork even.

2. In your mixing bowl (if you’re a normal technologically advanced baker, unlike me) bbread3beat the sugar and eggs for ten minutes until they’re fluffy. If you’re stuck in the stone ages and you’ve got to do this by hand, don’t worry, totally worth it.

3. Drizzle in the oil and mix it up good.

4. Mush up the bananas with a fork first in another bowl. They’ll slide out of the skins really easily after they’ve been defrosted, bbread4don’t worry about touching them for long. I know, gross, but again, so worth it. Add the yogurt (or whatever) and vanilla.

5. Fold the banana mixture into the egg/sugar one. Then add the dry ingredients (remember, always add dry to bbread5wet for the best combination). Last, add the chocolate and or nuts.

6. Pour into a lined loaf pan, pop it in the oven at 350F and leave it for 45 minutes to an hour.

bbread87. Time to clean up after yourself! Even if it is only to avoid eating the rest of the chocolate you have left over.

8. Check if it’s finished by sliding a toothpick or clean knife into the middle and when it comes out clean, the bread is done. My little guy was crispy after only 45 minutes in the new Spanish oven but sometimes I’ve needed more than an hour to get the center solidified.

Here’s a little before and after action:

bbread6 After

So I went to bed only slightly devastated that my first baking experience in Spain had been such a massive failure but woke up to love notes and hugs from grateful roommates! I feel like this was a victory. I chose not to cry and be upset, I thought, well at least the process was creative and fun, who cares about the outcome. It would have been so easy to get down about wasting my time and being imperfect but I remembered we always have a choice.

How did your banana bread come out? Is it less burnt? I hope so.

Day 21: Nature Never Fears

To Lose

This was the simple verb I was looking to make a flashcard about this evening in preparation for my first English class tomorrow morning. A quick Google Images search of the phrase produced astonishing results:

Google Images Search "to lose"

Google Images Search “to lose”

Should I have been surprised that there was not one single image of a man who lost his shoe? Well I don’t know. But I sure was.

How can it be that an entire culture is so crazy about losing weight but it is still the most dramatically obese one in the entire world?

And then I read this quote that took my breath away and caused my music to stop all by itself, at the same time:

Nature Never Fears

Nature Never Fears

 

We are so tied down by fear as a culture: fear of being too fat, fear of never finding love, fear of being under someone else’s power… the list goes on but what I think it comes down to is a fear of loss. To me, every good example of how to live can be found in nature.

Does the moon struggle to be perfect for the sun? Does she ever worry about being thin enough for him? Does she ever doubt that she deserves his love? I think the day the Moon starts to lose faith — the day she has her first fear — will be the darkest night we have ever known.

Fear is the opposite of love and it’s what I fight against every day, in my own life and especially in my teaching experience. I find that not only am I forced to keep my chin up and confront the fear of messing up in front of a class of students every day, but I am also addressing this theme when it comes to getting them to practice speaking. Fear is the largest factor in the ability of most people to fully learn a language, simply because there is always the slightly higher chance of making a fool of yourself. Couple that with normal teenage social weirdness and, well, I’m sure you remember high school Spanish class…

I’ve ever learned more in my life though, than a time when I was facing a fear. As one friend is fond of telling me, “Do something that scares you every day.” That phrase ruffled my feathers the first time I heard it. What’s your take on this practice? Have you had success with this mantra?