Rituals (part 2)

A sketched

A sketched “snapshot” of my table top.

As I mentioned in this post, one of my rituals upon getting up in the morning is to boil the kettle, mix myself a cup of coffee, and sit myself down at the table overlooking the garden with my journal and my Bible. I read a verse, dwell on it, and write down my meditation on what it says and how I can apply it to my life.

In the past, I was a voracious self-help book reader. I spent tons of money on hardbound books that promised to guide me to improve my attitude, set lofty goals and become a better, happier person. But each time, I admit tossing the books aside, only to search for advice “that actually worked.” I have since learned there is one book that not only intrigues me but inspires, entertains and empowers me. Yup, the Good Book. A study of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis vis a vis the Bible a few years ago really piqued my interest, and ever since I have been hooked on re-discovering the book I once read as a child.

We are never too old to rediscover Bible stories. You may surprise yourself when you find the relevance the stories have in your daily life. And how reading and reflecting will give you hope and refreshment. It’s like coffee to me – there’s always that kick I need to get my day going, courtesy of God’s word.

How do you start your day? What ritual do you do to get “clicked in” and ready to tackle what needs to be done?

mayasign

For the Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Bravery comes in all sizes

Tammy had to wear this cone to keep from rubbing her stitches.

Tammy had to wear this cone to keep from rubbing her stitches.

Our little corgi Tammy had a lump removed last week. It was right next to her left eye. Thankfully, it was benign.

What a trooper this girl has been. She had to go on antibiotics for four days – the only pet I’ve seen who willingly ate her pills (she knew there was a cookie bone waiting at the end of her obedience).

I drew her the day we came home from the animal hospital. She had to wear a cone, but she didn’t need it as she was good not to rub the area. And today, we get the stitches out. Yey!

It makes me think about the little things and aches I complain about. When I look at Tammy and the long scar that’s a souvenir from her op – and how happy she is in spite of it – she makes me think twice about groaning. Instead, why not focus on the parts of me that are pain-free, and be immensely thankful for them?

Does that make sense?

Sure it does. Thanks for the tip, Tammy.
mayasign

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NASB)

How to remember

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There really is power in words. Especially in writing them down. Recently, I’ve noticed I’ve become quite touchy and easily angered/offended. Magazines and books give all sorts of advice on how to function in our relationships – and they aren’t consistent.

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Note to self: love is not easily angered or offended.

So I went back to my source of inspiration and wisdom. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in the New Testament says it simply: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

To make the lesson stick, I wrote verses 4 to 7 on canvas using a fabric pen. After heat treating the ink with an iron (I let the ink dry for about an hour before I pressed it), I soaked the canvas in coffee to stain the fabric. Now it looks like an ancient scroll with a timeless message about love. Now it hangs where I can see it.

Here’s to love!

mayasign

Slow cooked lamb with mint, rosemary and garlic

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Four steps to tender, juicy lamb steaks: (1) Chop mint and rosemary, then crush garlic. 2) Combine mint, rosemary and garlic with olive oil to make a paste. 3) Smear the paste onto the steaks. 4) After browning steaks in skillet, place inside slow cooker. Cook on low.

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe. And thanks to Dinner With Julie, I found a blog-worthy lamb dish for the slow cooker. I am republishing the method here, but replaced the original roasted leg of lamb with three lamb steaks and added some notes and optional bits, i.e. mushrooms thrown into the slow cooker later in the process.

Slow Roasted Lamb Steaks with Mint, Rosemary and Garlic

3 pieces lamb steaks
a handful of fresh mint, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
a few cloves of garlic, crushed
4 fresh button mushrooms, sliced
a glug of olive oil
salt

Pat the lamb dry with paper towels, then combine the mint, rosemary, garlic and enough oil to make a runny paste, and smear it all over the lamb. Sprinkle with salt. If you have time, cover and refrigerate it for a few hours, or overnight. (Bliss tip: I let the steaks marinate for one hour).

Heat a large, heavy skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and brown the lamb on all sides. Transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. (If you like, add a glassful of red wine or chicken stock, but it’s not necessary – the slow cooker will contain all the juices from the meat and cook beautifully.) (Bliss tip: I sliced mushrooms and tossed them into the pot after six hours).

Serve hot, with mint sauce. Yield: 2-3 servings.

I didn’t have time to photograph the finished result because we were hungry and polished it off! But I served it with a salad of romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sliced celery and a light dressing. Perfect!

You will find the original recipe here.

Blissful cookin’ to you!
mayasign

Hoop for the best

My newest hobby - hula hooping!

My newest hobby – hula hooping! Copyright of Maya Calica Collins.

You know how, after returning from a holiday, you’re too lazy to get back into the groove of a fitness plan? That was me. But I did. Even if it meant dragging myself out into the cold, all bundled up, to get to the gym.

I went through the motions of each machine. Crunch. Flex. Squat.

One little thing caught my eye, though. Leaning against the wall, right next to the leg press machine, was a colourful plastic ring.

A hula hoop!

It took me a while to muster up the courage to try it (confession time: I could never hula hoop EVEN AS A CHILD). But I finally did (usually when there was only one other woman working out) and tried hula hooping. The most I got was three rotations around my waist until the hoop fell around my ankles. The reactions I got varied from “I haven’t done that since I was a kid” or “I won’t even go there! Good on you!” or soft giggles (not of the insulting kind).

Every time I was at the gym, I tried. Five twirls. Then 10. Then 15. Then five again.

Even if I felt self-conscious to hoop, I persisted. I realised that my initial shyness of potential embarrassment gave way to a desire to achieve something I could never do as a child. Eventually, I got one brave soul in the gym to have a go after I did!

After about a month of picking up that hoop, I made a breakthrough and can happily do over 50 twirls on that hoop!

My takeaway? When we cut through the fear of losing face (right, over a hula hoop? But I’ve harboured fears for even more trivial things!), you can achieve breakthroughs.

Persist. Fail. Persist. Laugh. Try. Keep going. Fail. Try again. Giggle. Keep going. Keep hooping for the best. Okay, now replace “hula hooping” with whatever you feel intimidated to do.

Here’s “hooping” for your best!

mayasign
P.S. An update! As of September 11, my highest record for hula hooping is 924 rotations. Going for 1,000 and more!

Seasons and change

One tree, two seasons. How do we endure change?

One tree, two seasons. How do you weather the changes?

While wandering around the garden today, I noticed one tree. Back in Autumn, I photographed it with its lush, fiery red and orange leaves. Gorgeous. So worthy of Instagram. But on this cold day, it had nary a leaf left on its branches. All its leaves had fallen off. It is Winter, and in a few days we will experience the shortest day and the longest night. Does that sound weirdly just like your circumstances right now?

To paraphrase Game of Thrones, “Winter has come”. And it will only get colder.

Life is peppered with seasons. There are seasons of plenty, joy, abundance, new births (don’t we love those!). But in the same token, we will experience seasons of grief, lack, endings, sadness, death. Most of us wish life was only filled with moments of abundance, pink fluffy clouds, cute kittens and happy songs. But the truth is, there will be times when we will go through seasons of being skint in matters of health, finances or spirit.

Why? Oh why?

While I don’t have the absolute answer to “why”, I have come to know “who” to turn to in every season.

In the past, I turned to positive thinking, self-help and New Age philosophy to get me through tough times and heartbreaking choices. But all that failed to fill the emptiness of my soul. Speaking forth affirmations, carrying crystals and thinking ONLY the right thoughts were not enough for me – when I didn’t feel like doing those things, what then? Like the weather, my emotions are changeable. Depending purely on me, my feelings and doing the moves to get “the Universe” on my side weren’t reliable options.

So I returned to the God of my childhood. To the Father whose goodness doesn’t change like shifting sands or my mood swings, but whose love endures forever (Psalm 100:5). Whose Word is Gospel truth and whose love for me is so great, He sent His only son to die for me (John 3:16). Who works out ALL things – the good, the bad, the tragic, the ugly – for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

Does it mean that trusting in God equals no more “winters”? Not at all. But with Him, I know I have promises I can lean on. His Word is a lamp unto my feet, a light for my path (Psalm 119:105). He will never leave nor abandon me (Hebrews 13:5). I know I can experience inner peace even when storms are raging outside (Psalm 107:29). These promises are available to all of us who call on Him.

Whatever your season, I’d like to invite you to exercise some child-like faith. In these ME-centric, “I can go it alone” times, try talking to God the way you would your best friend. Come as you are. No need to pretend to be fine or brave. Lay your withered hopes and leafless branches at His feet. Read His promises in the Bible (feel free to look up the ones I’ve written above). Like the tree in our yard, I am hopeful that after Winter, Spring will come. Until then, have faith. And hang in there.

love and hugs,
mayasign

Honey, do (the right thing)

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What we say can lead to sweetening one’s soul and healing us right to the very blood and bone of our being – or the opposite (let’s see, bitter soul and sick, ravaged body – oh, the choices!). Remember, it works for when you utter those words to oneself or to others. What goes around comes around!

Note to free will: Choose wisely. And have a nice day.

love,
mayasign

Stitch. Knit. Paint. Draw.

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Clockwise from top: Unfinished embroidery art, my Merino wool scarf, watermelon and ant sketch, and mixed media girl with big eyes (stitched, drawn, painted). All rights reserved.


With eight art classes to teach in a week – four of them on a Saturday with me on my feet for four hours nonstop (fuelled only by my Greens alkalizing powder drink!) – you’d think my downtime would be spent doing something, well, less creative. On the contrary, teaching drawing has gotten me back to the sewing board – and painting and knitting! I’m a crafty little pack rat, and when I find yarn, fabric, thread, pencils that catch my fancy, I stash them. But I eventually use them. Right now, I’m inspired to create art to fill our home’s many empty walls.

Creativity begets more creativity. In my life, each art form fuels my interest to explore more ways to express my fascination for the beauty and mysteries of the world. Thankfully, my first love of writing gets me to talk about my new affections.

Stitch, knit, paint, draw. Take your pick. Or add to this list…

Bliss you!
mayasign

Bliss is…Boracay

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The white sands of Boracay are still the finest I’ve ever stepped on.

Pardon the long break from blogging, but I’ve just returned a little hung over from my Boracay vacation with my family. Despite the rainy season, we had moments of sunshine to enjoy walks on the beach and activities like surfing (them), golf (the hubby), fish spa (the young one), delicious local cuisine and even exotic things like crocodile (not me!), and helmet diving (all of us).

The blessing behind this holiday is that, thanks to my It Works! wrap business earnings, I was able to wrap my family with some love in the Philippines. It feels good to share! After six months of working the biz with a few lovely wrap stars in my life, I can say that It Works! really works not only to get me healthier and in shape, but to earn extra income to enjoy priceless moments with my family🙂