My New Year’s Day Present

OK, so this is January 2, so not officially New Year’s Day, but since it is the federal holiday for New Year’s Day, I’m figuring it still counts.

Now, this is not to say I didn’t have a good ACTUAL New Year’s Day. Both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day focus around programs at our Spiritual Center for me, rather than partying or watching celebrities on TV.

The highlight of our New Year’s Eve was a service at our Spiritual Center featuring a burning bowl (again, for full disclosure, since we met in a hotel that for SOME REASON doesn’t want open flames in its rooms, we had a dissolving bowl and wrote things on a special kind of paper that dissolves in water). The point was that we wrote down all the things from 2022 that we wanted to get rid of, all the mistakes or regrets or patterns that no longer serve us or other stuff that we are just sick of. Then we drop those in the flame/water and…POOF! They are gone. It’s a great way to start the New Year with an energetic clean slate, as it were.

We came home after that and I started cooking. Cooking not for New Year’s Eve…we were cleaning out our food energy too and trying to finish up leftovers. But I started cooking our lucky food for the New Year.

In the South, the traditional lucky foods are black-eyed peas (which represent coins, and were also often offerings to the gods to bring good luck in the place they originated, which was West Africa), greens (representing bills and also a healthy crop, which was the basis of wealth of so much of the South), and corn (which stands for gold). These are traditionally incorporated into a black-eyed peas and rice dish called Hoppin’ John and served with corn bread and cooked collard greens. But I’m not crazy about black-eyed peas and like to incorporate them into a dish with more other flavors. For years I’ve made a black-eyed pea white chili made with hot sausage from our Farmers Market, but since I’m trying to have more plant-based diet, I thought I would try something different for 2023.

I made up a dish I called Lucky New Year’s Chowder. I sauteed onions, garlic, bell peppers, and celery while cooking a pound of black-eyed peas in my beloved Instant Pot. I blended half a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce into a carton of vegetable broth (my homemade vegetable broth is not as good as my bone broth, so that’s something I need to work on this year). I poured that into the sauteed vegetable and then added the cooked peas and some frozen corn kernels. Then I added some half-and-half along with some chipotle powder, smoked paprika, and Caribbean Fire spice mix. I let it simmer for a bit, then poured it all in a large container to eat the next day. I also tore up some dinosaur kale I got at the Farmers Market to add to the soup once it was reheated, because otherwise I thought it would be cooked to death.

On New Year’s Day, our Center holds a Visioning session to focus on what is calling us to take on in the coming year, followed by making Vision Boards. However, since this year it was a Sunday, we also had a Sunday service in the morning. So our plan was to doing the Sunday service, put away some of that stuff, have a quick lunch, then do the Visioning and Vision Boards. Therefore, I brought the entire pot of soup in the Instant Pot in order to share with anyone else who wanted some. Many people enjoyed having the soup with us and starting off the year with the traditional foods. My son was quite fond of the soup, and was worried it would be all gone. I told him it was more important to share with our friends, and if it was all gone, I would make him another soup. So the day went by with us being well fed, full of vision and enthusiasm for the coming year, and with the fun of making a physical reminder of our intentions via a Vision Board collage.

Fast forward to this morning, the first day of living those intentions. For a couple of days, I had been battling a cold, and I woke up feeling like the cold had won. I kept sneezing, I had a ton of mucus in my nose and throat, and I just felt miserable. However, with the business of the holidays, it had been a couple of weeks since I had one of my meditation walks, and I was committed to returning to that practice. Still, I didn’t feel like I could even get out of bed, let alone go for a 2 mile walk.

I kept drinking a lot of water, trying to simple flush it all away. Then, I got an email with these words of wisdom by the Reverend Scott Aubrey:

“We do well to pay attention to the day after the chief moments of our lives. For, on that day, we tend to return to customary living. Our values, beliefs, and intentions are revealed on the day following the momentous occasion: the second day of a new year, the second mile of the long race, the day after a new beginning. The energy of the day-after sets the tone for going forward.”

UGG. I had to do it, didn’t I? I had to go on my meditation walk.

Eventually, things calmed down and I felt a little better. I got up, got dressed, put on my coat, and headed out for my walk. Somehow, the more I walked, the better I felt. I was welcomed back to my walking by calls from Blue Jay, Cardinal, and Hawk. I knew this was what I wanted to be doing, regardless of having a cold.

On the way back, I found the gift shown above, It was a perfect little persimmon! Now, persimmons grow in September and October, so I couldn’t believe one was still around in January, especially after the freezing storm we had over Christmas. But here it was! It was the perfect gift, because persimmons represent the power of choice we have over our lives. We are at choice minute by minute by minute, and it is those choices we make each minute that determines the course of our lives. So I couldn’t have gotten a better reminder from the Universe than that little perfect persimmon the first day of living out the vision I had seen for myself on New Year’s Day proper.

I came home revived both physically and spiritually. The night before, my extended family was discussing what we were eating for New Years, and one brother was having lentils for breakfast (luck NYD food in Mexico), black-eyed peas for lunch, and noodles for dinner, which is an Asian NYD custom for long life and good health for the coming year. So I decided to make a Udon noodle soup that is a traditional food in Japan for the New Year.

So we ended off our second New Year’s Day with an Oriental soup, which may not only be lucky, but is a good meal for someone with a cold and a son who is minoring in Asian studies because of his love for that culture.

I hope that your New Years experiences, including the “day after,” went as well as mine did. Looks like 2023 is going to be a very fine year!

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