By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
Mar 24, 2018,
This morning I took a walk. It was the first time I’d had the opportunity to get outside in awhile as it had been raining for almost a week. Everything was slick, and wet, and muddy, and just downright bleak. The trees were overburdened and awkwardly bent from multiple downpours, and the air was heavy with misty fog. The creek on our property was loud as the fresh water rushed down the mountain into our neighbor’s ravine.
I was rather dreary myself, irritated at the mess, and restless with the cold winter that was seemingly unending. I had been complaining loudly to anyone who would listen, about the inconvenience, the annoyance, and the ugliness of sunless gray days.
As I walked, I suddenly started to think about the hundreds of bulbs that I had planted so lovingly and carefully in my garden last fall. I remembered how I spent a week intricately designing the layout of the flowers. I had thoughtfully spent time planning how the tulips, daffodils, crocus, and hyacinth would be placed in order to make the most glorious spring display. As I walked, I began to realize, with startling clarity, how much those forgotten cold bulbs deep inside the earth must be appreciating all this rain. It dawned on me that this lovely long week of rainfall was literally bringing life to those soon-to-be flowers that I love so much. It made my heart smile and it made me glad for the rain.
Perspective changes everything…
I have always loved eating delicious food, watching scads of Food Network cooking shows, gathering recipes from gorgeous food magazines, collecting beautiful glossy cookbooks, but I never really enjoyed cooking. It was just a means to an end, which was food in my belly! I thought I knew how to cook, but all I really did was combine boxes, cans, packages, fry some edible food-like substances, throw it all together and call it dinner.
I spent all last Sunday alone in my kitchen batch cooking the Clean Food Dirty Girl meal plan. As I was working it occurred to me how much my attitude towards food and cooking has changed since adopting a Whole Food Plant Based way of eating.
It’s no longer a mad rush every night trying to get dinner on the table.
It’s no longer a chore to figure out what to eat.
It’s no longer going to the grocery store multiple times during the week and spending too much money.
It’s no longer a maudlin task to cook and clean up. Actually, it has become a very empowering and grounding experience to take pure, unprocessed, simple plant ingredients and turn them into sumptuous creations beyond my wildest imagination.
It’s become a completely therapeutic and wildly unexpected way in which I nourish my body, feed my soul, and practice self love.
Perspective changes everything…
A life lived in simple gratitude is the only kind of life worth living. Even in the most excruciating of circumstances, where grief, pain, anger, and heartbreak surround you, it is possible to be grateful. Even in the midst of the worst thing imaginable, if you can think of just one simple gesture, something as small as a kind smile from a friend or the opening of a door by a stranger or that breath you just exhaled, anything at all, and then whisper a heartfelt thank you to the universe, it will be the beginning of a new day. And that day, in which you can bravely walk through your life in thankful awareness of the love around you, will be the day in which your eyes will open to new chances, new people, new adventures, new opportunities, and new life.
When we start to look at things differently it doesn’t change the situation or alter the facts. None of the crappy things that this life throws our way just suddenly vanish. Sometimes, life just sucks. And sometimes life can be undeniably unfair, outrageously unjust, and astonishingly cruel.
However, when we start to look at the situation in a new way, or in a different light, how we feel and how we respond are what change! Our attitude is the key to surviving any situation. Whether it’s a small disappointment or a horrendous disaster or a terrifying tragedy.
Changing one’s perspective does not happen overnight.
It took me a fucking long time.
I’ve been to hell and back many times. I’m not a Holly Golightly, Pollyanna, or Mary Poppins (choose your movie…) who has led a charmed life and casually throws out platitudes and clichés.
I do not view life through rose-colored glasses: always positive, always cheerful, and always superficially idealistic. I know the pain, fear, and desperation of which I write. I have been in the trenches, hopeless, humiliated, terrified, and totally broken.
There was a time when I was homeless, friendless, jobless, and penniless.
There was a time when I was abandoned by family, friends, church, and God.
There was a time when I suffered such abuse of body, mind, and spirit, that I thought survival was impossible. There was a time when I faced legal uncertainties and an unknown future.
There was a time when I was raging from full-blown Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, paralyzing anxiety, and mind-blistering depression.
There was a time when I was barely holding it all together, and only then with tape and glue. There was a time when I was dead inside.
I’ve come to realize, after many years of personal growth, reflection, and maturity just how much those scary, dark days were needed!
Just like the harsh winter days that wipe the earth clean and allow it to start all over again in the next season…
Just like the rains that nourish the flowers and plants and trees and sustain our rivers until they burst forth into new life…
I needed it all to become the authentic, open, loving, empathetic person that I am now!
It’s all part of this crazy, uncertain, outrageous adventure that we call Life. Yes, I have deep regrets and would change so many things in my past if I had the opportunity, but that is not an option. Instead, I can appreciate, enjoy, and delight in the present moment and focus on the future.
The years I suffered, barely putting one foot in front of the other taught me strength, endurance, perseverance, forgiveness of self, and it allowed me to emerge with joy and new life. Now, I can bravely and courageously fly on the wings of experience and knowledge.
After years of persistent and grueling soul work, I have finally pulled myself up by my apron strings. I have now come to life with a change in perspective by using the smells and colors in my kitchen:
The sweet freshness of chopped cucumber, mint, basil, and dill that easily opens my heart.
The intense fragrance of sautéed garlic, mushrooms, and bell peppers that fills me with purpose.
The pungent shock of sliced red onions that brings tears of gratitude instead of tears of rage.
The simple purity of the deep purple in cabbage and the bright green of broccoli and kale that never fail to bring clarity.
The spicy heat of a jalapeño pepper plucked from the plant and broken open that conjures healing pain instead of killing pain.
The astonishing decadence of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries that remind me of a luscious new life.
The calming earthiness of curry, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and the otherworldly hue of yellow-orange turmeric that always makes me smile.
The smell of ripe watermelon, sweet cantaloupe, succulent juicy peaches, and tantalizing mango that brings me back to life and wakes up my spirit.
There is hope, my friend, in everything. I want to encourage, uplift, inspire, and motivate you to get back in your kitchen, on your walking path, in your garden, with your people, your animals, your sanctuary, your world.
And joyfully take back your life.
Thank you, Lyndsey, for another amazing piece.
As the amazing crew in our private Facebook group knows, Lyndsey is a constant source of inspiration to eat more plants. If you’re not already in our group, we’ve got open arms!
A bangin’ tofu scramble is a must-have plant based recipe for your home kitchen. Check out today’s recipe that is hands-down the best tofu egg-like scramble around.
- 1 block firm tofu (14oz / 397g) , drained and pressed (don’t use soft or extra firm tofu, regular firm is the one you want for this recipe)
- 3/4 teaspoon black salt aka "Kala Namak"
- 1/2 teaspoon onion granules
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper about 20 turns
- Take the block of tofu out of the package and rinse it with water. Place the tofu on a plate and then set a cutting board on top of it and place something heavy on the cutting board, like a few cans or a heavy book. Let it set like this for about 15 minutes so the water can drain from the tofu.
- While the tofu is being pressed, add all of the spices to a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir together.
- When the tofu is done draining, remove from the plate and press it with a few paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth to extract any remaining liquid.
- Place the block of tofu in the mixing bowl with the spices and mash it with a potato masher until there are no more big pieces of tofu.
- Stir everything together and then transfer to a smaller container with a lid and store in your fridge overnight. You don't have to marinade it over night but this makes it super tasty. If you skip this step, marinate the tofu in the spices for at least 10 minutes.
- When you're ready to have your Scramble, heat up a skillet for a couple of minutes over medium-low heat and then add the tofu and cook for about 5 minutes, flipping over intermittently with a flat spatula, until the tofu is heated all the way through.
- Serve on sprouted toast with thinly sliced tomatoes and chopped up chives, or any other toppings that sound yummy. Sprouts and avocado is also a yummy combo.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with a shift in perspective.
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