Friday 22nd January 2021 - Light - looking for it and letting it in

This Week's Class Notes... My 'Word For The Year'

For the past few years I've held a New Year's Intention Class - a two hour workshop where a group of us come together to practise a dynamic and energising yoga class, clearing away any heavy energy left over from the indulgent Christmas festivities and creating space for growth in the coming 12 months.  We do some journaling, getting clear on what to let go of and what we want to welcome in. We set ourselves 'sankalpa' (the yogic version of New Year's Resolutions), spend some time meditating and reflecting, and then we choose a special word for the coming year which helps us stay aligned on our chosen path, reminds us of our intentions and guides us through the weeks and months ahead so that we can make the best possible choices and decisions in our lives.  

I decided not to offer this workshop this January as everything felt a bit 'flat' (understatement!) and I wasn't sure how we could possibly make plans and set intentions with so much uncertainty surrounding us.  I didn't bother to set a 'Word For The Year' either - how could I choose positive words amidst the difficulties that so many of us are facing?  I didn't really want to look back at 2020 and I was worried that if I set intentions for 2021 I would surely be disappointed. However, the other day a friend asked me what my special word was going to be so I took a look back at my notebook and I was surprised to see just how many of my 2020 intentions did, in fact, come to pass. 

In the centre of one page I had written in large letters the word 'SPACE'.  This was my word for 2020.  Around it I had written the following words: read, roam, breathe, wander, watch, travel, connect, sit, practise, grow, create and go slowly. I had written that I wanted to create a beautiful, prolific flower garden and a beautiful home.  Well, I did read. I did roam and wander around my local neighbourhood, discovering previously unknown footpaths in between houses that I'd never bothered to look at as I whizzed past in my car.  I did breathe and sit, and I did practise my yoga. Admittedly I didn't travel much - but I did make it to India in early February before the pandemic struck. I've certainly watched more films than I have ever done in my life. The beautiful home needs a good dust but I did decorate one room! I had to be content with connecting with people online (thank goodness for Zoom).  I created and grew my lovely flower garden and I was able to go a bit more slowly than my usual 'lickety-spit' pace. I have surprised myself and I have inspired myself. 

I find I am now ready to set a new 'Word For The Year' - despite all the uncertainties - and my word is 'LIGHT'.  I will look for the light wherever I can.  When I have a choice I will choose the option that gives me the most spaciousness and light. I love the sun and will definitely be spending more time outside in it this year as I upscale my cut-flower business. I will continue to live more lightly on this earth, making considered, environmentally-friendly choices wherever and whenever I possibly can. I know that darkness is inevitable and that there won't always be sunshine but that's ok, I can deal with it, it's the yin and yang of life and the past year has proved that I am nothing if not resilient. Light is something that makes vision possible so I will continue to do all that I can to illuminate my path - learning, practising and being curious. And actually, just writing this, I feel lighter and brighter and more positive about 2021.  

Do you choose a 'Word For The Year'? If this is not something you usually do, why not take a few quiet moments and see if anything bubbles up?  If something does present itself, write it down and put it somewhere where you will see it regularly. Whenever you are feeling unsure or disheartened come back to your special word and let it guide you through the difficult patch and on into the coming months as the year unfolds. 


Sunrise at Polesden Lacey


This Week's Recipe...Pickled Red Cabbage with Ginger

A healthy diet is always important and, right now, it's even more essential to do everything possible to boost the immune system.  So when I came across this Nigel Slater recipe in the paper a couple of weeks ago I thought I'd give it a go. Red (or purple) cabbage is very high in nutrients and offers a variety of health benefits (eg reduced inflammation, a healthier heart, stronger bones, improved gut function and research is also being done into how it helps lower the risks of certain cancers).  According to, one cup (89 grams) of chopped, raw, purple cabbage contains the following nutrients:

Protein:1 gram
Carbs:7 grams
Fibre:2 grams
Vitamin C:56% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin K:28% of the DV
Vitamin B6:11% of the DV
Vitamin A:6% of the DV
Potassium:5% of the DV
Thiamine:5% of the DV
Riboflavin:5% of the DV
And it also provides small amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc.

Nigel Slater serves his pickled cabbage with ham but, in my veggie and vegan household, we have it with salads, on crackers and in sandwiches.  It's a good, low-cost way to eat extra vitamins and minerals - if you'd like to give it a go here's the recipe...

To make one jar of pickle you will need:

240ml cider vinegar
90ml malt vinegar
240ml water
8 black peppercorns
6 allspice (I didn't have whole allspice, but used a tiny bit of ground allspice instead)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
quarter teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
35g ginger
2 small shallots
300g red/purple cabbage

And here's how to make it...

Sterilise your storage jar.  The recipe says to do this by pouring boiling water into the jar and leaving for 2 minutes before emptying - I did this and my jar split!!  So I did the next one in the oven instead (you can google the methods to choose which one suits you best). 

Put the cider vinegar, malt vinegar, water, peppercorns, allspice, mustard seeds, chilli flakes, sugar and salt into a stainless-steel saucepan and bring to the boil.  

Peel and very finely slice the ginger (you should almost be able to see through it), then add it to the pan with the sliced shallots and boil for 2 minutes.

Shred the red cabbage (Nigel suggests some finely sliced and some the width of a pencil and place in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot pickling liquor over the vegetables and toss everything together.

Ladle into the storage jar, seal and allow to cool.

(I added a splodge of hoisin sauce too - which worked well)

It will keep for several weeks in the fridge.




 This Week's Mother Nature's Magic... The Earth and You

If you're feeling a little low right now and have a tendency to forget just how amazing you are, take a look at this... and remind yourself of the miracle of being you and the miracle of this world we live in.....



This Week's Musical Offering... 'I Am Light' by the choir of Mariagerfjord Korskole

This is a beautiful cover version of a song by India Arie (if you haven't heard of her before do look her up).  The words are very beautiful so I've found the lyrics and put them below the video for you to read too... 


I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light
I am light, 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 am light, I am light
I am light, I am light
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 light
I, I am light
I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light
I am not the colour 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, yeah
All light
I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, yeah
I am divinity defined
I am the god on the inside
I am a star
A piece of it all
I am light


This Week's Video... The Hill We Climb : the uplifting and hope-filled poem written by 22 year old Amanda Gorman that she read at President Biden's inauguration. 



And here's the transcription so you can read her beautiful words too:

When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine,
but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
This effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust,
for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared it at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour,
but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked, ‘How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?’ now we assert, ‘How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?’

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be:
A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the west.
We will rise from the wind-swept north-east where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country,
our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.




Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay safe and practice your yoga :-)