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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Friday, November 16, 2012

Accepting What Is


Have you ever been lost? The kind of lost that works its way through your arms and legs and all the way to your core? Tightness grips its fingers around your heart and massages the pit of your stomach. This can be felt both when you’re physically lost or metaphorically lost. I’ve experienced both kinds…I’ve been lost in the wilderness, and I’ve been lost in life, especially when searching for love.

When I was in high school I went for a hike to an alpine lake with some boys I knew. Somewhere at the base of the mountain we unknowingly veered off the trail and continued for hours straight up a slippery, wet, leaf-strewn cliff. Eventually when we realized our mistake, it was too late. We were already cold, wet, and quite lost.

We wedged ourselves into the hillside underneath some large firs to eat our lunch. My fingers were so chilled I couldn’t even zip my coat. Fear and frustration were doing a tango in my head. But then one of the boys said… “You know…this is not exactly how we’d planned this hike, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now and there’s no one else I’d rather be with.” His musings jolted me out of my grumpy state.

Despite everything, we were actually having a good time (Not to mention I had a huge crush on one of the boys…). We were inhaling crisp mountain air, feeling the earth beneath our feet, and laughing and joking with each other.

Sliding and tumbling down the face of the mountain on our rear ends, we eventually found the trail that led back to our car. As if to affirm what I’d already learned that day, we saw a bumper sticker that said, “I’d rather be… right here.”

When I get myopically focused on a goal, destination, or dream, I remind myself of this hike and the bumper sticker. The Universe works in mysterious ways and sometimes our lives don’t fit into the neat and tidy packages we picture, and we don't always reach our destination. However, when we accept what is, often there’s even more magic. Had the boys and I stayed on the trail and made it to the lake, I have no doubt I would have forgotten the hike ages ago. Instead, I have fond memories of the adventure, and the experience showed me the value of finding joy in every moment. Plus, I’ve heard you feel the most alive when you’re lost.

This is true in love as well. Just like trying to reach the elusive mountain lake, sometimes we focus so much on the goal, that we miss the journey. It’s easy for me to get caught up in finding a man who fits a certain image. However, when I give up the need to find what’s perceived as right, then I open the door to allowing for what is actually right.

I have a friend who’s a devout Catholic who fell in love with a non-practicing Jew. She’d always imagined marrying a man with whom she could pray and who had an intimate relationship with God, but he was neither. This, she thought, was non-negotiable. She considered not dating this man, but her feelings for him continued to grow. They married a few years later and now have two beautiful children. Had she focused on the lack of religion in his life, she could have missed out on a lifetime of joy with him. Although her planned trajectory was jolted in a new direction, she found long-term happiness when she was willing to release her hold on her vision of the future.

As I’m stepping out of the cocoon I created for myself this past year and opening my heart to finding love, I’m also opening the door to the possibility that love may come in a different package than what I imagine. By being open to love, no matter what form it comes in, it’s possible to find something even better than what I could ever dream.

Whether your destination is a mountain lake or finding lasting love, remember to savor the journey and be willing to accept the things that don’t always fit with your vision, plan, dream, or goal.

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                                                Acceptance Green Beans

This Thanksgiving, consider accepting what is…If Great Aunt Maude ruffles your feathers or your husband and father-in-law argue over the correct way to cook the turkey, take a deep breath and let it wash over you. You may find that when you look back on your life, these are the moments you cherish most, not the perfectly laid table or whether or not you dusted every nook and cranny before your guests arrived.

This is a simple side dish that’s always a holiday favorite in our home. 

Serves 4

3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 ample Tbsp. of orange zest
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup roasted slivered almonds
3 Tbsp. fresh orange juice (from zested orange)
Himalayan pink salt, to taste (or other high quality salt)
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste


In a large frying pan, sauté the shallots and orange zest in the olive oil over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until the shallots are soft and translucent and slightly caramelized, approximately 10 minutes. Adjust the temperature as needed to keep the shallots from browning too quickly. Meanwhile, wash and trim the green beans. Add them to the pan and increase the heat a smidge. Using a spatula, toss the beans constantly to keep the shallots from burning. When the green beans are soft, turn off the heat, about 5 minutes. Toss with the slivered almonds and another pinch of salt and pepper. Just before serving, drizzle the fresh orange juice over the beans. This will add a bright note to the dish.