Good Enough

I supported you,
Trying to fill the holes in your heart.
I was better than I’d ever been,
But not good enough for you.

I cared for you,
Trying to become the woman you needed.
I was better than I’d ever been,
But not good enough for you.

I forgave you,
Trying to believe it wasn’t about me.
I was better than I’d ever been,
But not good enough for you.

I conceded to you,
Sacrificing and believing in more.
I was better than I’d ever been,
But not good enough for you.

I am strong,
Continuing to grow and care for myself.
I am better than I’ve ever been,
I’m good enough and free.

Better than Myself

(Note: this is the first “song” I have ever written. There is no music for it, just that the process and structure is more song-like and the styling a bit different than I normally write with – such is the reality of momentary inspiration)

You walked into my life, unexpected,
And made my insides feel like dancing.
Your eyes were like looking in a mirror;
Felt like running from my reflection.

How can you know me?
Where have you been?
How did you find me?
I found you within.

Sometimes you know me better than myself.
See my fears and hear my excuses.
It scares me the way you know what I need;
Know the lessons I haven’t learned yet.

How can you know me?
Where have you been?
How did you find me?
I found you within.

A moment in time so blissful today,
The future is but a great mystery.
Whatever may come, I’m thankful for us,
This connection so few get to share.

How can you know me?
Where have you been?
How did you find me?
I found you within.

Freedom to Choose

I learned long ago that I cannot control many circumstances in my life, and therefore that I should choose to be happy regardless of the conditions that surround me. The essential lesson was around controlling other people and their choices. This was a difficult lesson to learn.

From the age of about 18 until my 32nd year, I have dedicated myself to people I have chosen to be romantically involved with. Fourteen years have been filled with 3 long relationships, a smattering of shorter but still significant, torrid romances and peppered with a few ephemeral yet passionate experiences in between.

My three longest standing relationships involved people with pretty heavy emotional baggage, and I was convinced I could help them attain happiness and peace in their lives. In the end, I wasn’t able to help them change, and ended up hurt and, in my own insecurity, believing that somehow their unhappiness was related to me. I had a very self-centered perspective of my relationships and the choices of others.

I am forever grateful for those relationships – I have no regret. These relationships I entered trying to act as a counsellor ultimately served to teach me great lessons about myself and the changes I needed to make instead.

Although I am generally an optimist, I am also a chronic thinker. I analyze situations five different ways, slicing and dicing to try to comprehend others’ behaviour or anticipate the outcomes of my own choices. Of course, this type of scrutiny and expectation usually results in disappointment. Combine all of this with the human need to be loved, and we find fourteen-plus years of great blessings and also challenge. To me, the recurring incidence of similar situations or outcomes in one’s life is an evident indicator of a lesson that needs to be learned. The lesson I’m now finding ahead of me is not related to being joyful despite others’ choices, but rather finding joy in each moment without needing to seek my crystal ball.

I have long believed that circumstances or relationships occur for a reason. A few times throughout my life, people have entered and brought with them a great whirlwind of wisdom. A small number of those people have remained in my life long-term, popping in and out at what always appears the right time for one or both of us. Despite sometimes years in between reunions, and with the intensity and abundant trust of a lifelong bond, the relationship will bloom for a short time and one or both of us will walk away renewed and constructively changed.

Recently, I made a new friend who, in the span of only a week, has had a profound impact on me. This person has begun the patient journey of continuing to teach me a lesson I have been learning most of my adult life to date. It relates to that struggle between heart and mind.

I am the only barrier to my happiness. I may put up walls between myself and the great possibility of joy. I might let the fear of tomorrow get between me and today’s elation. Ultimately, if I am self-aware and willing to accept that the only person I can control is myself, then I can choose freedom. Freedom from being obstructed by emotional responses to the choices of others…..freedom from circumstantial joy…and most importantly, freedom from my own fears. This is all easier said than done, but a chosen journey nonetheless, perhaps lifelong.

“Man is free the instant he wishes to be” ~Voltaire

Let Us be Still

Let us be still, now.
No deliberations or constructions.
Even a few brief moments
Without the requisite evaluation.

Let us be quiet, now.
Words convey silent messages,
While actions dutifully communicate
The truth of a moment.

Let us be free, now.
Choosing to relish today:
Enchanted by the present,
Unimpeded by ourselves.

Maple – With a Side of Cin

Go big, or go home. I suggest that most activities in life are not worth participating in if you’re not going to give it your all. Hopefully, all that effort pays off in the form of some pleasure, either through the activity itself, its outcomes, or the sense of accomplishment. There’s not much in my life I engage in ‘half-assed’, and this month’s CFEP post is big in size, flavour and meaning, and also generally scores big on the pleasure-meter.

Maple season in Ontario is soon upon us, though the cold temperatures may stall or lessen production this year. Still, the sugar bushes are starting to advertise their annual activities, and I’m still recalling the lovely taste of maple taffy from Winterlude. Having moved to Eastern Ontario almost 4 years ago, I’ve learned a bit about maple syrup production and have been amazed at the complex extraction systems set up by some of the local producers.

When we moved to this area we bought a 120 year old house, which boasted two massive, centuries-old maple trees on the front lawn. Their lovely canopies provided expansive shade in summertime and were the impressive centerpieces of the surrounding flower beds. A couple of years ago, we actually tapped them and extracted some sap. Of course, the amount we obtained in our inexperience was hardly enough to produce much syrup in the end, but it was nonetheless tasty and a cool experiment. Unfortunately, those beautiful, mature trees had to come down the following summer for significant safety reasons and it was a mournful occasion indeed. We were glad we had gotten the opportunity to taste their exquisite delicacy. (As a side note, those trees provided an enormous quantity of firewood with which to heat our home as well as friends’.)

In honour of all the maple syrup producers of Eastern Ontario and Canada, and our fallen trees, I thought it appropriate to use local maple syrup as one of the ingredients in my recipe for this month.

Cinnamon is a very sensual and passionate spice: fiery and intense, but also sweet and comforting. It’s one of my favourite spices for a number of reasons, but ultimately, the scent and taste (and physical sensation, but I digress…) of cinnamon drives me a little wild. I’d proffer that there are few people that dislike cinnamon-sugar or maple syrup, and this month I combined the two with home-made pastry to make an undeniable crowd pleaser: buttery, delectable, sinful, giant maple-glazed cinnamon rolls.

I have to say that I shamelessly licked every last drop of the glaze from the pans before washing them. It is just too good to waste.

Giant Maple-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

INGREDIENTS

Pastry
• 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
• 2 eggs, room temperature
• 1/3 cup butter, melted
• 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ cup white sugar
• 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

Filling
• 1/3 cup butter (I used salted to give a touch of salty taste to the filling)
• 1 cup brown sugar, packed
• 2 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
• ¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Glaze
• 1 cup pure maple syrup
• ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• ½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts (optional) for topping (do not add when cooking glaze)

INSTRUCTIONS

Add pastry ingredients in order listed into bread machine pan and set to ‘dough’ setting. Machine will mix and raise your dough for you.

If you do not have a bread machine or wish to make your pastry by hand, follow the next 5 steps:
1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk in a large bowl.
2. Mix in sugar, butter, salt and eggs.
3. Add flour and mix well.
4. With flour-dusted hands, knead the dough on floured countertop, forming into a large ball.
5. Place dough into greased bowl, cover with a towel, and allow it to rise in a warm, draft-free location for about 1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter in maple syrup. Once melted, turn off heat and add sugar, stirring until completely dissolved.
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Pour mixture evenly into two 9×13 cake pans.

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After dough has risen, turn it out onto floured surface and allow to rest a further 10 minutes.
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Roll dough out into a large rectangle, until dough is about 1cm thick.

Combine sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl and brush dough with melted butter. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar liberally over dough. Sprinkle chopped walnuts evenly, if desired

Roll up dough from long side, as tightly as you can. Using a heavy, sharp knife, gently cut into 12-14 rolls, about ¾-1 inch thick. Place rolls in pans, on top of syrup mixture. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for a further 30 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pans in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and syrup is bubbling nicely. Immediately place a cookie sheet upside-down over the top of the pan and using oven mitts, quickly flip the pans over, so the cookie sheet becomes the bottom.

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Place on safe surface for 2 minutes to allow glaze to fall. Remove cake pans, and sprinkle tops of rolls with toasted walnuts if desired.

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Allow to cool only slightly, as these rolls are best eaten fresh and warm. If I were you, I wouldn’t let any of that precious glaze go to waste. It will harden on the pan quickly and become a sticky, gooey mess which, for some of us, makes it even more luscious. If you do choose to allow them to fully cool in order to transport them, the glaze will harden and make it easier to pack. They should be reheated in the oven at your destination for best results.

Enjoy this maple-cinnamon kiss!

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The Canadian Food Experience Project is Valerie Lugonja’s call to Canadian Foodies and Bloggers alike to unite on the 7th day of each month and creatively discover and share Canada’s unique culinary voice. You can read more about this exciting project <a href=”http://www.acanadianfoodie.com/the-canadian-food-experience-project/the-candian-food-experience-project/”>here</a&gt;.