I didn’t rediscover yoga for real until I was in my early 30s. In my 20s I owned a mat, and I used it from time to time, but for the most part, my dogs used it as their napping space in each home we’d lived in. It sat next to my elliptical in East Nashville, and I would look at it as I read Newsweek on that dreadful machine and tried unsuccessfully to shed the extra 70 pounds on my body. My dog Jackson would lie on it, licking himself, wondering when we were going to get to go on a walk, and I would stare at him and notice how it made a comfy cushion for his long Great Dane legs.
Something clicked in Fort Worth and I have no idea what it is that clicked, but I ordered an expensive new yoga mat online from Lululemon, as I was too nervous to walk into a store, and I looked at Pinterest and at Google images and bought books from Half Price Books, and began practicing yoga in my spare bedroom. No one was allowed. Doors were shut, music was off, no one could talk to me or bug me, and by no one I mean mostly my dogs. I couldn’t handle the interruptions. I didn’t watch yoga videos or stream classes, I just looked at pics and tried to make the pose happen. I didn’t understand that updog led to high plank and that from high plank you should do something called chaturanga I just knew that I liked certain poses over others and some were really freaking challenging so I should do those every day for the fun of it, and I knew I could hold these poses for 5 breaths, which is what my books said to do, not realizing that my 5 breaths were hella shorter than everyone else’s in the yoga world. I can only imagine what my practice looked like when I finally got the courage to step into a tiny little studio years later.
For those days, I am grateful.
Fast forward to this year, and I began my year on a retreat to Mexico with Amy Ippoliti, and I ended my year on a retreat in New Mexico with Tias and Surya Little. A lot happened in the middle of this year, and when I started this year, I had absolutely no idea, for the first time ever, if I would make it through this year. I didn’t know if our marriage would survive the tragedy of last year; it almost didn’t. I didn’t know if our business would allow us to pay our bills; many months, it didn’t. I didn’t know if I could still afford to teach yoga, the most varied paying “job” I’ve ever had. And yes, it’s still worth it, and today at least, I can still afford to teach.
I’m grateful that my marriage is stronger today than it was tomorrow. I’m glad that we got over our family’s horrible, tragic loss of last year and that we can still look into each other’s eyes and know that we are here for each other, without judgement, and with love. I’m grateful that I can pay my bills and that I have a home over my head and that I get the freedom to no longer work in Corporate America. I am grateful that my family and friends are mostly healthy and my dogs are still here, that my car still runs and the leaves still fall and then come back in the same way that the sun and moon hide and then come back. I’m grateful that I live in a country that allows me to write this blog and say these words and begin my own company and wear what I want to wear and study where I want to study. I’m grateful that my parents valued education over almost anything else. I’m grateful that they wanted a little one so badly that they adopted my brother and fought to keep him when South Korea at any time could have said, we want him back. And I’m grateful that they finally, nearly a decade later, got the courage to try again, and had me. I’m grateful that I was raised in Dallas around kids who did not look like me and in a family that didn’t always look like me as that taught me that color never ever ever matters. I’m grateful that in 2003 a woman at the hospital I worked at said, hey, I found a guy I think you’d like to meet, as friends if nothing else, and I’m glad that I said yes and then said yes for real again over a year later. And I’m grateful that that same man, in 2011, said, hey, I think what we’re eating is killing us, and that those simple words led to all of this.
I’m grateful for each of you who have read this blog and shared this blog and tried my recipes and have provided me with feedback, the good and the bad. I’m grateful for my husband for waiting patiently each week as dinner gets cold while I’m trying to take a better camera shot. And I’m grateful for fresh, healthy foods available to us in this beautiful city we choose to call home.
Happy Thanksgiving. This mushroom risotto is BALLS.
Vegan Thanksgiving: Grateful for Mushroom Risotto and Cauliflower Steak
- 1 c. cashews, soaked
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. parsley, dried
- 16 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 2 c. short grain white rice
- 8 c. mushroom stock
- Soak the cashews for at least 1-2 hours (or pour boiling water over them and soak for 30 minutes). Rinse and drain.
- In a large frying pan, cook half of the onion, one of the shallots, and one clove of garlic for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and the parsley and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a stock pot, cook the other half of the onion, the other shallot, and the other garlic clove for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the rice (uncooked), and cook for 1 minute (no longer), stirring often as the rice very slightly browns.
- Add the stock very slowly, no more than 1 c. at a time, letting it cook off before adding the next cup. You'll add each cup about every 4-5 minutes.
- In a high-powered blender, add the drained cashews along with 1 c. of water. Blend on high for a minute or so until all the cashews have turned into a cream.
- Add the cashew cream to the risotto, stirring and continuing to cook off any extra liquid.
- Then add the mushroom mixture to the risotto, stir well, and serve immediately.