Over the holidays I got to spend a too small window of time with two of my favorite little girls; an eleven year old and an almost nine year old pair of sisters in Dallas, TX. They call me their Fairy Godmother, which will probably be my favorite title of all time. These girls love me and think I can perform magic!
My parting words to them are always, “Make good choices!” As I hug their mother and father goodbye I whisper the same thing in their ears. We’ve talked about how when we do or say something in the moment out of spite or anger or laziness or plain old not thinking, it effects everyone that comes in contact with that action. It may feel good or ‘right’ or easy in the moment, but once that moment is past, it’s like a domino effect of more notsogreat choices.
Make good choices. That’s my phrase for the year and my one true goal. Making good choices is not just choosing good foods and getting my backside out the door to the gym. Yes, those are at the top of my To Do list for 2016 as well but there are more important choices to make. Am I thinking and acting thoughtfully? Am I taking a deep breath before moving forward, making sure my wits are about me, so my choices will yield good results? I know what I not should but could do, but I often choose the opposite. Every situation offers up a choice. In 2016 I aim to make some good ones.
If we have a bad day at work or school and bring that toxic situation home with us, it permeates the environment of everyone else we come in contact with. If we get on the subway and shoot someone a dirty look from the backpack of our own bad day, now they are saddled with some negative energy that will go home with them. If we misbehave or make a bad choice, we can then cause our spouse, parent, or teacher to take that bad choice in and cook up their own rotten reaction that then has the power to cause more lousy actions.
I know for me, my mouth works faster than my mind. I can say something hurtful because the thought is living on the tip of my tongue and it rushes out of my mouth before my mind can properly assess a situation and edit it down to something kind or helpful. That’s the point really, to be kind and helpful in all situations. Are my words going to help this situation or make it worse? Can I speak my thoughts in a kind way? How will it land on the ears and heart of the person to whom I am speaking?
What’s so interesting about being around young people, like my two little fairy god daughters, is knowing that who they will become has everything to do with the choices the people around them are making today. They are little sponges that soak up everything they see and hear. They are going to inherit the earth. Literally. It’s our responsibility as adults to not only discipline and teach our youth, but be shining examples of goodness and loving actions. We set the boundaries of right and wrong and then give them freedom to make their own choices. These little choices become big political and spiritual actions. We have to set them up for success.
How am I going to be the best me this year so that those around me have a greater chance of being their best selves? I’m going to employ a lesson I learned from the mother of these two little Texans. I’m going to remember that my goals are moving targets. I have to keep up with them. The work is never done. I must do my very best in every situation and even if I don’t meet my goal or expectation, it doesn’t diminish my effort or the goal. I must keep my eyes and heart open for the next task at hand. I must aim high. High expectations for my thoughts and actions will keep me soaring, setting me up for success, which then aids in the success of others. Here’s to your good choices - and mine!
Food for 2016: More good choices! This warm kale salad on top of goat cheese toast feels comforting and decadent but still provides nutrition and can be a light dinner or a healthy snack. I developed this recipe for Stoneridge Orchards but it was inspired by one of my dear friends, Miriam, an educator in Brooklyn whose actions are shining beacons of goodness in her communities and for her students. She invited me over for dinner and said, “I made a warm kale salad and I got some really nice goat cheese. I thought we could spread it on toast.” Yes, please! Here is my version.
A different kind of breakfast or brunch item, a crunchy toast, spread with creamy cheese, topped with the warm kale salad. Add a poached egg to make it more substantial! Rustic and warming. Sweet, sour, and savory.
Warm Kale Salad with Cranberries Over Goat Cheese Toast
- 1 loaf artisan bread, sliced into 8 slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for toasting bread
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, de-ribbed, and finely chopped
- salt and black pepper
- cracked red pepper
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped dried cranberries (I use Stoneridge Orchards!)
- 1 tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 ounces soft goat cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle olive oil over bread slices, flip and drizzle oil on other side as well. Arrange slices on a cookie sheet, toast in oven for 5 minutes, turn and toast for 5 more minutes. While bread is in the oven, in a large skillet over medium flame, heat the oil, add the kale. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook until just wilted, 3 minutes. Add vinegar, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Remove bread from oven, spread with goat cheese, top with warm kale salad.
Photos of food are by Cheryl Stockton of Stockshot Studio.