A retreat with Butternut Squash Soup

I haven’t been writing lately.  I am not sure why.  My last post  in June was about a retreat I attended at Hollyhock.  Here I am in November, and I find myself in another retreat.  This one is different.  As I mentioned in June, according to Wikipedia, a retreat is defined as the act of pulling back or withdrawing (as from something dangerous or unpleasant); or a peaceful quiet place affording privacy and security. It’s interesting how one word can have profoundly different meanings.  This retreat isn’t about a soul-healing-epicurious-learning fest wrought with planes, boats, and ocean.  This is a completely different kind of retreat.  I am pulling back and withdrawing.  This retreat is happening in my home.  Mostly in my kitchen and on my couch.  I am not sure why; all I know is it is right.

I have had a very busy few months.  After my wonderful retreat in June, I was inspired to run my own workshop.  I took some in-depth Qigong courses this summer where I learned how I can heal myself and others on a much deeper level.  This experience helped me gain further confidence in my abilities.  Spurned on by my confidence, this fall I did the workshop thing; in fact, I ran three workshops!  One workshop was done privately for a lovely friend who was celebrating a milestone with a group of her friends.  The other workshops were on winter energy and how to protect, heal, and grow during this colder, darker, more yin, time.  Instinctively, my mind and body are doing just that.

It’s time for some yin to balance all that yang of planning, preparing, and presenting.

I don’t want to be on the computer all day, figuring out what the best “opt-in” might be for my website to help me “grow my list”.  I don’t want to be learning anything. I don’t want to be figuring out how to book more clients.  I don’t want to write a newsletter. I don’t want to be out visiting. I don’t want to do any exercise other than yoga and walking (and this really only happens because my dog Luna needs it, and she knows I need it too).  What I want to be doing is knitting (this has been resurrected for me in the past month and I am making beautiful things – okay so far just one amazing cowl and lots of pulled-out things), cooking wholesome food (soup recipe below; and I made two galettes yesterday!), and reading. My usual pattern is to work every day even though I am not always with clients.  I have decided it’s okay if things slip a bit.  The bookkeeping and other logistical aspects of my business will get done when the time is right (or when it’s necessary).

Sometimes these retreat phases happen to me preceding some sort of transformation. In fact, the retreat is the transformation itself. Things are shifting in me.  It’s like I am learning and building by going inward.  I may come out on the other side of this retreat with a renewed perspective and new ideas, both of which will propel me forward!  Or, I may just feel really good about the time I spent at home, and use the memories of this time as a mental retreat during the din of a Christmas party or at a shopping mall (yikes).

According to the energy of the universe and the season, winter is the best time to get quieter. Winter is when yin energy is peaking.  Yin energy is softer, quieter, more emotional, and more feminine.  I am not sad or depressed, just quiet and introspective.  Being at home is the best place for me right now.  It’s better if my family is at home too (my 15-year-old daughter Claire inspired me to start knitting again as she has become a voracious knitter and is now knitting-for-hire).  Side-by-side knitting with my daughter is love at its finest. When Luke and Mountain Man are also in the same room doing their own activities, all is right with the universe.

According to the eastern principles of yin and yang, everything is about balance.  I have been busy and working hard for a few months.  Now it’s best for me to rest a bit and do some non-work related activities; things that feed me on a different level.  Sometimes that can be difficult when your life purpose is part of your day job.

It’s good that I can hear what my body and mind are asking.

If I didn’t listen, I know there would be consequences.  Consequences for me usually look like a cold, physical pain in my body, or even some anxiety or insomnia.  I am not fighting this retreat; I am savoring it.  I know December will bring busyness with it like a snowstorm.  So for now, I feel okay hanging around my house.  Today I celebrated by jumping and clapping hands when I found out I didn’t have to drive into town.  I also celebrated by roasting an organic buttercup squash and throwing this eating-with-the-season soup together.

I would love to hear how you have learned to listen to your body even when it doesn’t always may sense.  Or have you had an experience to share when you didn’t listen?  I love hearing your stories.

Love and light,

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Butternut Squash Soup (Butternut Squash Soup Printable version)

1 Butternut squash (I used Buttercup but any squash will do) washed, cut in half, seeded, roasted face down on a cookie sheet with a bit of water for about 20-30 min at 350º

3 Tbsp. butter

¾ c. onion, chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 potato, peeled and sliced

5 c. chicken stock (or more)

⅛ tsp. cumin

½ – 1 dried red chili pepper (depending on how spicy you like it), ground with mortar and pestle or crumbled

Salt and ground pepper

½ c. cream

Yogurt or Sour cream, parsley or sprouts, red pepper flakes

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter and sauté onions for 2 minutes.  Add carrots and potato. Cook for 5 min stirring frequently.   Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer for 30 min or until vegetables are tender.  Scoop out squash and add to vegetables.  Puree in with an emulsion blender or in batches in a regular blender.  If you would like the soup a bit thinner, add water or stock here.  Return to pot and stir in cream.  Garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes.  Add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream before eating.

Makes 6 servings.