I had about 3 other blog posts I was going to write this week and then something magnificent happened that jumped to the front of the line. I had a dream that was incredibly real and while dreaming, I believed that it really happened. Oprah and I had a sleepover and she was sitting in my bed in panty hosed feet having the most real conversation with me and my housemate Christopher. Not like, “You get a sleepover with Oprah! And YOU get a sleepover with Oprah!…” It was more like we were peers, friends that hung out all the time. We talked about All Good Things and a little project that Christopher is working on (something you’ll learn about next week!) We talked about cooking, travel, and our families. It was the most natural thing in the world. I couldn’t believe when I woke up that it hadn’t actually happened.
Are you watching the Belief series on OWN? Oprah has self funded a documentary on the spiritual beliefs and divine practices of the world. It’s beautifully shot, so generously shared, and incredibly moving to witness other people worshipping whomever or whatever they believe. Perhaps that’s why Ms. Winfrey guest starred in my dreams, because she’s been on my TV all this week.
One of the ways that I express my belief is by praying (talking to God) and meditating (listening to God) through the practice of kirtan. Kirtan is call and response devotional mantras sung in the Bhakti Yoga tradition. I’m a singer and that has been my favorite creative and spiritual expression since I was a little girl. I believe that God hears all my prayers but it pleases him to hear them sung. And in Bhakti, it is truly about serving and pleasing God. It’s not just asking, but offering something. This practice is the most beautiful part of my life.
This weekend, I had the great good fortune to attend a kirtan concert at my favorite yoga studio in New York City, Yogamaya. The singers (Ananta Cuffee, Gaura Vani, and Acyuta Gopi,) are celebrities in our circle and I’m honored to call them my friends. A seat was saved for me in the front row and who was sitting right next to me, but the Grammy Award winning artist India.Arie! Have you ever been seated next to royalty? India is a Queen. For real. It was magical to be near her energy, her presence. Halfway through the evening of music, India was invited up to one of the microphones. In kirtan, there are usually a jillion musicians on instruments and loads of singers. She moved from directly next to me to directly in front of me since I was in the front row. It was like I had an all access pass to her radiant beauty!
After a rousing Maha Mantra, the room got quiet and Gaura asked India to sing something for us. She was so sweetly reserved and shy and then sat up really straight and said, “Gaura Vani asked me if I wanted to sing something and I’m learning how to say YES.” And then she sang THIS:
"I Am Light"
I am light, I am light
I am not the things my family did
I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside
I am light, I am light
I'm not the mistakes that I have made or any of the things that caused me pain
I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind
I am light, I am light
I am not the color of my eyes
I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age, I am not my race, my soul inside is all light
All light, all light
I am light, I am light
I am divinity defined
I am the God on the inside
I am a star, a piece of it all
I am light
I recorded it. It was incredible. In the spirit of kirtan, she led us in call and response on the chorus. So that was the magnificent happening that jumped to the front of my blog post queue. I went home and looked up India.Arie’s website and instagram. Get this; she was a special guest of Oprah’s last month for a private screening of two parts of the Belief series and then was present for the NYC premiere last week! One degree of separation! This sweet little concert experience served as a proxy for my real life Oprah dream, don’t you think?
It gets better. Are you watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday series? There have been some unbelievable interviews; Brené Brown, Malala Yousafzai, and this weekend she featured Gloria Steinem! One of the highlights of my life in New York City has been cooking events for Gloria through the years. (Talk about being in the presence of royalty!) And tonight I am cooking and serving a cocktail party honoring Ms. Steinem. Another proxy for my Oprah dream!
Here’s the thing about dreams: they are made up of energy that hasn’t manifested into reality yet. YET. Energy travels fast so we must be careful where we are directing it, right? I’m taking my Oprah dream and my two real life experiences with India and Gloria and I’m turning their energy into fuel. Fuel for what? Fuel for the dream of All Good Things being a Super Soul Kitchen show on OWN. A dear friend read my blog and said, “You’re like the Elizabeth Gilbert of the kitchen.” I say that sentence at least once a day as more dream fuel. Oprah, I’m coming for ya!
We can’t all be Oprahs or Glorias or Indias, right? It’s enough to be Lisa, I don’t need to be anyone else. I believe that. I am enough. So are you. But if you are struggling with who you are or what’s happening or not happening in your life, I’ll leave you with something beautiful that India wrote in her blog SoulBird: “The benevolent Universe loves us all, and has created us all out of that love. We are comprised of that love. Divine expressions of the divine! How much more worthy can you get than that? It’s not what we DO, or WHO WE ARE … It’s THAT we are! That makes us worthy to be loved.”
Lastly, I’m going back to India with the Mayapuris, the kirtan band I wrote about earlier this year in Love and Devotion. You can chant with us and tour India and explore your own beliefs and divine practices. They are still honoring the early bird price, so jump on this amazing opportunity.
Here’s a seasonal treat that the guests of Ms. Steinem’s cocktail party will be eating tonight. Make the recipe and celebrate your one degree of separation from this great lady!
Dinner On A Stick
- 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
- 1/2 pound peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (I only use Stoneridge Orchards, so should you!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix sprouts in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Pour them on to a sheet pan, and roast for 30 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Half way through cooking, drizzle the sprouts with 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Once the sprouts are in the oven, mix the squash in the same bowl with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour on to a separate sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes. Halfway through cooking, drizzle the squash with the remaining 1 teaspoon of maple syrup. Shake the pan from time to time so the squash will brown evenly. Toss with cranberries and serve as a side dish. Or as finger food for a cocktail party: once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, skewer them onto a cocktail pick, ending with a cranberry.