This weekend I went on a climbing trip in the backcountry of Joshua Tree. The woman leading the trip was a total badass – a lean, muscled firecracker of a lady who clambered up rock faces with a kind of grace and ease that made it look effortless.
I have been thinking about ease a lot lately, because I seem to be in a place where there isn’t too much of it. All this challenge is by choice. But sometimes, being in the thick of so much of it, it’s hard to see my way out. The awesome part is that the challenges of rock climbing and yoga lend a little grace and ease to the challenges of the cookbook. Perhaps they give me a little resilience.
Every week is different with the cookbook. Where one week will feel smooth and productive, another will feel like I am trying to herd cats – the recipes are stubborn and lopsided and resist coaxing to the place where I’d like them to go. Last week was a week of cat herding. I desperately needed a little ease.
Driving south towards Joshua Tree gave me some of what I craved. There is something about the expansive scope of the desert that asks you to put your burdens aside for a time. There is something soothing in the washed out colors and minimalism of the landscape. It is a reprieve from the sensory overload of the city.
The last day of our climbing trip, there was one face left that our guide wanted to challenge us with. After going into the weekend a little cocky and being humbled every single time by the rock, I looked up at this thing and didn’t even pretend that I knew what I was doing. It was the hardest wall I had ever attempted to climb. The start was easy, and then I was thirty feet up and there was very little left to hold on to. As a beginner, I’m still looking for obvious things to grasp and balance on, when so often there is nothing obvious, and moving upward feels like an act of faith. When those obvious holds disappeared into a thin face of rock is when I started to feel stuck. Sue climbed up on a different rope and hung out beneath me and guided me through the whole thing. Every statement of stuck-ness and challenge was met with a vote of confidence from her. “Come on, Kimberley, you know you can do this. Just stand up. Just trust your feet.” And so I did. My mind was loud with frantic thoughts and she countered every panicked thing I said with calm reassurance.
Climbing is full of easy metaphors and that is, perhaps, part of why I’m enamored with it. What happened on that last climb was powerful. I did that thing where you prove to yourself that you’re capable of more than you believe that you can do. And I felt deeply comforted having someone who knew that I could do it coaching me through the whole damn thing. What it made me realize is that sometimes, working on this book, I want to have a Sue beneath me, dangling on a rope and guiding me, suggesting where I might put my foot next, or reminding me that I am, indeed, capable. I’ve been stubborn in my belief that I need to go it on my own, that I need to prove to myself that I can do this, that I need to just power through. I know my cheering squad, my mentors, and my whistle-blowing coach (Coach Taylor!) are out there. I just haven’t been reaching out.
So here’s a recipe that embodies ease. It’s the kind of straightforward dish that reminds us that we’re capable and that it – whatever kind of it we’re challenged with right now – doesn’t always have to be hard. Find the full recipe on Etsy.
P.S.: Thanks to Rachel Cole, who is the inspiration for finding a little ease in my life.