Let Your Inner Voice Emerge

In one way or another each one of us has something to communicate to others that
can help or inspire them. Each one of us has his or her own inner voice. Do you have
access to your own personal voice? It is not something that will show up all by itself
when you command it! You have to actively work on it to bring it out.
We all have different channels of communication, and of how we best share our inner
truths with others. My main channel is writing; I have been writing ever since I was
a child and will probably continue until I can see no more. Just like other people who
enjoy writing, I have discovered that my personal message doesn’t emerge through sudden outbursts of inspiration, but through constant, stubborn work. I guess that’s true for
other creative work as well, be it painting, composing music, doing origami or working
with wood. You just have to take your time, sit down and do it, even if you feel
completely empty and would rather stick your head in the sand. You have to diligently
practice your skill, over and over again.
So I sit down on a regular basis with an exercise book and make my hand move the pen
over the paper to form words and sentences, even if I don’t have any “vision” or the
slightest idea on what to write about. I start writing down whatever rubbish or senseless
words that come to my mind, and suddenly a grain of gold emerges.
Suddenly one of the sentences looks up at me and says: “Hey! I have something important
to say!” That sentence might point to a question or an issue that I have worked on before,
or something that worries me, or somebody near to me. Such a sentence can start off an important reasoning, result in a blog post, a poem or even a short story.
I’m always amazed by these sparks of inspiration; who knows where they come from or
why they pop up right then and there. I just know that these sparks rarely come out of
the clear blue sky, but most often when I’ve been writing for a while, and thereby paved
the way for them to emerge. In other words, if we don’t practice, inspiration doesn’t
just suddenly hit us. We shouldn’t allow any writer’s block to silence us. We have to
ignore the part of us that whispers “you don’t have anything to say” or “there’s no point
in trying”, and just keep on working in order to reach the point of inspiration.
It feels as if I have to show my inner voice that I’m there for it, that I take it seriously and make the effort to prepare the ground for it. Then it starts growing surprising,
magical flowers.

My faithful writing companion, the Sailor fountain pen

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Refreshed by Winter

Winter solitude
in a world of one colour
the sound of wind.
Matsuo Basho

I say winter, and I guess you think ”snow”. Alas, many places winter are not sparkling white at all, but mainly grey, humid and windy. We easily get a bit blue (or grey), and we definitely don’t want to go outside!
Even here in the Swiss Alps there are days like that, when I have to push myself out. I dress up warmly, and affront the humid cold.
Not everybody can afford a three hour hike per day, but shorter will do too. Drop your thoughts, stretch your spine and walk briskly for half an hour. You already feel much better: the blood circulation had a boost, your face feels fresh and your heart opens up. Whatever weighed you down before is whiffed off, at least for the moment. Your resting brain often comes up with solutions, according to the motto solvitur ambulando, “It is solved by walking”.
Life doesn’t feel that grey and lonely anymore when you come back inside. Prepare yourself a nice cup of tea, go back to your duties and enjoy being refreshed by winter.

Since writing the text it has snowed again!

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Christmas Colours

The two most typical colours of the upcoming Holiday Season are red and green,
aren’t they? Santa’s suit and the Christmas tree! I thought about the symbolism
behind these colours, and…
Red, of course, is the symbol of Love. True love, not only directed towards our
close ones, but towards all that surrounds us: humans, animals, plants, and nature
as a whole. Unconditional love, not depending on how others seem to be, what they
do or don’t do. That is what I call ‘Christmas Spirit’.
Green stands for balance, freshness, and rebirth. In connection with the New Year
I find the ‘rebirth’ aspect especially suitable: we look back at the past year, and
make resolutions to change or add certain aspects in our lives. January 1st feels
like a clean slate, inspiring us to make a new beginning with our very best
intentions.
When winter has reached its darkest point and the light has just been reborn I
decorate my house with lots of red and green. I fill my heart with affection and
care for all of Life and I enjoy the fresh feeling of starting anew.
Love makes everything is possible!

Christmas Colours

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Warmed by the Fire

In the main living area of my cottage the only heating source is a fireplace.
Unfortunately it is too large for the room’s proportions, so it’s not easy to
keep up a modest fire that does not turn the place into a sauna. A small fire
has to be fed all the time, and I only have time to do that in the evening when
I curl up on the couch with a good book, or two (or three).
Even during wintertime, my afternoons are mainly spent outside with long hikes,
working in the garden or chopping wood, and after a hot and fragrant dinner
soup it’s heaven to sit by a crackling fire. That’s my golden hour! It’s wonderful
to take in some intellectual, emotional or spiritual nutrition through interesting
books (for example Joyce Carol Oates’ “We Were the Mulvaneys”, Frédéric Lenoir’s
“L’oracle de la Luna” or Yoko Ogawa’s “The Diving Pool”) when you’re pleasantly
physically tired, mentally relaxed, and warmed by a crackling fire. Moments of
total peace.
People have called my life “monastic”, and if they mean being happy with simple
pleasures, then that’s just the word. Sometimes I just draw the little African rug
and the big cushion closer to the fireplace, and watch the fascinating dance of flames.
Mother Nature’s playful changes in shapes and colours never stop fascinating me.

The Dance of Flames

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Do Them Yourself!

It is such a pity when the Holiday Season triggers more stress than necessary. All the Christmas cards we have to write, all the gifts we need to buy – and then perhaps even celebrating with far too many people (or in unwanted solitude), with too much food and
too many presents…
Already before my change to a ‘simpler life’ I decided to drastically cut down on the
‘gift’ part, mainly trying to give away only things I’d made myself. It’s not easy:
you have to find something you can do yourself and that is appreciated by the recipients.
I’ve knitted so many things that I think ended up forgotten in the farthest drawer of a wardrobe…! 😉
What anybody can easily do and what is always very welcome are edible DIY gifts. Seasoning mixes, interesting pesto varieties, jams, herbal teas, cookies or sweets, just to name a few.
Why not try these Date Truffles! They are super easy to make, have few easy-to-find ingredients, they taste wonderful – and on top of that they’re even healthy!
Date Truffles
Ingredients for 16-20 pcs
7 dried dates (70 g)
7 dried apricots (70 g)
1 dl cashew nuts
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 pinch each of powdered cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a hint of powdered clove
a tiny pinch of salt
1-2 Tsp. water (careful!)
Cocoa powder to roll them in
How to proceed:
1. Pit the dates, let dates and apricots soak in water at least 2 hours.
2. Pour off water, roughly chop dates and apricots.
3. With a mixer, mix cashew nuts until smooth, put aside
4. Mix dates, apricots, cocoa powder and spices, and the mixed nuts. Add a little water if necessary, it should be VERY sticky.
5. Roll little balls (approx. 1 Tsp. full each) between your hands.
6. Roll them in extra cocoa powder, and save them in the fridge.
Now you can package up these delicious little health balls into a cute packaging, tie them together and add a note. Watch the Christmas smiles fill the room – because after all those processed Christmas treats one craves something that can be deeply enjoyed, but is a lot healthier!

Who can resist these succulent, yet healthy treats..?

Who can resist these succulent, yet healthy treats..?

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White Light Meditation

In wintertime, when days are dark and grey, we need strategies to avoid getting gloomy.
People turn on extra lights in their houses, or even take light therapy, plan for the
next sunny beach vacation, or light dozens of candles. That’s all fine, but it is just scratching the surface.
The most important thing to do is to get as much daylight as ever possible. When at
work, take a brisk walk during your lunch break. Even on a gray and cloudy day, getting
outside can help your skin create the mood-boosting, health-supplementing Vitamin D.
A complete cloud cover only halves the energy of ultraviolet rays, which trigger
Vitamin D production. Getting fresh air and stretching your legs also makes a huge
difference. However, we also need strategies that light us up from the inside. During
the darker seasons I start my day with a “White Light meditation”.
The “White Light meditation” fills up your whole being with light, and the light somehow
stays as a shining centre deep within you. It makes a real difference in both senses
of the world light: you feel shining and you feel less weighed down by everyday problems.
To reconnect with that feeling, take Light Pauses all along your day: sit or stand relaxed, close your eyes for a couple of seconds, feel your third eye filling up with white light,
and how it spreads inside you. There’s even enough light to share with others! When you
open up your eyes the light from within streams out into the winter dark surroundings
and makes them a little brighter – both for yourself and for those around you.

Perfect light therapy

Perfect light therapy

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Vin Chaud du Valais

However warm you might dress up in winter and however much you heat up your home,
sometimes you still feel cold to the bone. Forget salads and raw foods: eating or drinking something hot is key during this time of year. I’ve already sung the praise of ‘The Soup’,
but a nice hot drink is not bad either. Last season I published the recipe forour family’s favourite Mulled Juice (“Rosy Cheeks and Mulled Juice”) but this time I’m going for the stronger version, based on wine 😉
The British have their mulled wine, the Germans their Glühwein, the Swedes have their
glögg, and the French & Swiss have vin chaud.
There are many nice recipes of vin chaud, but here comes my personal favourite from
my region, since it’s based on white Fendant wine, grown right here in canton Valais.
It might be difficult to find where you live, but you can substitute it with any good
dry white wine.

Vin Chaud Valaisan
0,2 l water
0,1 l sugar
1 orange (eco), peel and juice
2 star anise seeds
2 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ Tsp grated nutmeg
0,5 l white Fendant wine

* Wash the orange thoroughly.
* Peel off the outer (orange) zest from half the orange with a potato peeler.
* Press the whole orange to retrieve the juice.
* Heat up water in a pot, add sugar, orange peel and spices.
* Stir well for the sugar to dissolve, and let simmer 5-10 min.
* Pass through a sieve, add wine and orange juice and let it cool off.
* Fill into a bottle, or enjoy it directly, perhaps with some gingerbread cookies!

If you want to make it even more Valaisan, add a little Williamine, an eau de vie
produced locally with Williams pears. Strong stuff, so be careful with dosage!

Hot, tangy & fragrant! :-P

Hot, tangy & fragrant! 😛

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The Alluring Aspect of Travelling

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved traveling.
Once a year, at the beginning of the summer vacation, the whole family was crammed
into the car and off we went to visit family in Germany; every other year to the
Western part and every other to the Eastern part of the country, which was a huge
difference in those days.
I not only loved meeting grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins again, but also how
things were different there. It was so exciting to get out of the normal every day
life and experience all those smells, tastes, views, sounds, and feelings!
Traveling has always had this very alluring aspect to me. Perhaps that’s why I
adore a place like Sicily, so full of strong impressions. When the airplane lands
on the island and the bright light and all the soft pastels meet my eyes, my heart
already skips a beat.
Stepping out, the dry, warm air envelops me like a soft hug, and then my ears
start to rejoice: I hear Italian, my absolute favourite language! Che felicità!
As for the odours, the range is wide: garbage left on the streets, jasmine flowers,
fish and seafood in markets, and as a constant background: the salty
Mediterranean breeze.
However, the best part for a gourmand like me is how my taste buds are tantalized
in Sicily! The Sicilian cuisine, inspired by all the different cultures, which
established themselves on the island, is so rich and tasty. Just to mention a few
highlights: the Caponata, a hearty vegetable appetizer, the Pasta alla Norma
(tomatoes, fried aubergine, grated ricotta salata cheese, and basil) and the real
Cassata siciliana, with a soft cream of ricotta cheese – a dessert so rich and
fulfilling to send you right off to Food Heaven!

... and I haven't even mentioned the Sicilian ICE CREAM...!

… and I haven’t even mentioned the Sicilian ICE CREAM…!

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Naturally Curing Seasonal Cold

With autumn and winter, seasonal flus and colds invade us. All around people are
sneezing, snotting and coughing, and finally end up we catching it ourselves. Busy
as we all are, we still continue to go to school or work, further spreading it on…
We should instead be doing what the animals do: staying home, retiring into our beds,
resting and curing it out. Enjoy what we in Sweden call VVV – Värme, Vila &
Vänlighet – Warmth, Rest & Kindness.
However, there is another really easy and efficient cure, already known by our
grandmothers: the Onion & Sugar Cure. It is prepared with ingredients everybody has
at home, and it might sound (and smell) a bit strange, but I assure you: the taste
is not all that bad, and it really helps, if taken immediately after the
first symptoms show up.

The Onion & Sugar Cure
1 onion
3 Tbsp Honey or Sugar
Peel the onion, and chop it finely. Put it in a glass jar with a lid.
Add honey or sugar, stir well. Close the jar.
Let the mix rest for 3-12 hours.

After the resting time the sugar has dissolved. Take 1 teaspoon of the syrup
several times a day.
The onion and sugar cure helps well against a normal cold, but it is especially
efficient against coughing, and that is because onions contain essential oils,
sulphur and flavonoids, which in this combination have an antiseptic and anti-
inflammable effect, calming the bronchi and easing the cough.

The Curing Combination

The Curing Combination

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That Familiar Family Feeling

For a freedom addict and loner as myself, closeness with my family wasn’t always on top
of my list. The relations were warm and good, but – also due to geographical distances –
rather scarce.
Getting older I notice that above attitude is changing, and not only for me. For our
joint birthdays me, my brothers, cousins, uncles and aunts, and our old friends more
and more often just want to spend time together more often. Our material needs and
wishes decrease, and at the same time the wish and need to connect to those who have
been and are close to us increase. I wonder why?
More and more I see the similarities with my brothers, where I used to see only
differences. Was it because our parents treated us differently, or was it the need of
a child to diversify from its siblings, in order to stand out as a Person of its own?
Well, we diversified with life, and can now enjoy the similarities.
More and more, I realise the finitude of life, and the need to do what seems important
to me grows stronger: spending time with the ones I love, and showing them my affection.
Who knows if we’ll all be around tomorrow.
Our circles expand quickly when we’re young; life seems to be an endless bouquet of
options and possibilities. At a certain point, however, the expansion of the circles
is diminishes. We’re no longer indiscriminately make friends with whoever crosses our
path, we no longer go to ever single party we hear about, and we don’t stay up and
about until 6AM every Saturday, hoping for… new adventures.
Instead we’re getting more and more picky when it comes to what to spend our time on
or who to spend it with. We look back, and we remember the ones we were close to as
children, the ones who were always there. It dawns upon us that they might not be
around forever, so we take the time to call them, write them a letter or even better,
to visit them.
We take care of our history, our roots and our family because we realise that we
need to internalise where we come from before we can finally go somewhere else.

Dupond & Dupont, a.k.a. my beloved brothers

Dupond & Dupont, a.k.a. my beloved brothers

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