2022 will be the year I focus on what and who sets my soul on fire. While I have almost always approached life this way, these days the older and wiser me has a much deeper connection to what that actually means. There has always only been one path to get here, to this position of soul fire clarity: by allowing myself to feel the fullness of things deeply, which is not often a comfortable task. My world, the world that I saw from an early age has always been a large one. My path has always been one that seeks, explores, travels and shares.
So, as I prepare to cross the threshold into 2022, I want to acknowledge and celebrate all that has occurred this past year (and all the years before) with a clear perspective on the reality of what I know to be true about this human existence; where there is great joy, there is always great sorrow. As painful as sorrow and sadness may feel, for me, to feel it all is the essence of living. It’s the path to connecting with our authentic selves as well as to the authentic selves of others. It’s the avenue of learning. It’s the ride to discovery. It’s the bridge to growth. It’s the esplanade of peaceful existence and tranquility.
As I approach my second New Year’s Eve in Blue Eye, MO, it’s true that feel a fair amount of sadness as my life’s repetitive and very real sense of loneliness is currently blanketing me. But it’s also true that I feel a great deal of excitement toward taking good care of myself. My sense of commitment to myself feels strong.
I’ve been fairly open about my patterns of spiraling and flailing when it comes to massive (and even minor) changes in my life, a pattern triggered by loneliness born from broken trust in my bizarre childhood and also casually dotting my adult life.
What I am currently experiencing in life – probably only because I am here somewhat alone in Blue Eye, MO – is how much easier it is to control my flailing when I let myself feel things fully, by voicing and embracing all that is actually happening. This requires staying vulnerable and honest with myself and others as I walk through the changes and the sorrow. I’m no different than anyone else; most humans don’t readily embrace life’s changes. But, by nature, I’m so attracted to joy that it’s getting harder and harder for me to stay sad for too long, regardless of what’s happening in my life. Living through the experience of it all is the route through. On this path regardless of what I am experiencing there is a great deal of joy noticed at practically any given moment.
I remember years ago while suffering a significant heartache, a string of people told me, “Time will heal this.” I knew then that this wasn’t true. Time just passes. Healing is an active activity, even if you can’t see it happening. It always requires a direction forward. That direction starts by feeling fully. Embracing the truth that is the present.
It’s interesting for me, a professional dot connector and pattern specialist, that it’s taken me many years to notice that my spiraling pattern is the exact same every time. Change happens. Loneliness sets in, and I feel any combination of scared, confused, anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated. I feel a total lack of control. So, I flail. I wallow. I attack. I get needy. I cross lines. I invade boundaries. I do it all.
In the past I often didn’t recognize what was happening, and I hurt myself and other people with this fear-based behavior. While I am sometimes still guilty of this today, these days I am better equipped to see what’s happening and catch myself before I fall headfirst into the wallow pit of shit. By feeling fully and noticing and accepting my patterns, I can be more relaxed in my own skin. When I am more relaxed, I can both ride the wave of it all (the good, the bad, the ugly) as well as remain cognizant enough to do the work needed to move though the pain without causing too much harm to myself and others. I succeed even greater if people are kind and forgiving to me. They are not always like that.
I rarely use the word solitude when it comes to my existence because that word suggests someone more secure in her aloneness than I feel I am. I have been comfortable being alone only because my authentic self can’t help but move around this world seeking, absorbing, tasting, seeing, and participating in all of the vast magnificence that the planet has to offer. It has always been in my nature to see as much as I can of this world and to share my findings. Connecting the dots. The choices I have made have indeed been solitary ones, which can often trigger the loneliness that lingers in my blood. But, I was born to set my soul on fire. Since I was little I chose the forks in the road that directed me to this feeling of soul fire. This affliction has always connected me deeply to people while keeping me more isolated on the outskirts of ordinary life stuff.
I never outright rejected marriage or children or a permanent home or anything like that. I always wanted those things but, more than that, I have been led by a need to move myself through this world in ways that not only made me appear unconventional to others and myself. Early on I felt tiny fibers of connection to my authentic self and, once that connection happened, it was hard for me to do anything but see this path through.
It was on this path that I stumbled into the unique work I do connecting farmers and eaters. The dots in-between those two are often difficult to navigate, but it comes naturally to me. I find great satisfaction in the work I do, and I know I am useful to all involved. It ignites me and it gives me countless creative channels which I cannot imagine living without. I experience no greater joy than when I am creating and connecting to far off places, things, people, flavors. This, for me, is fully feeling.
I have known since I was 21 years old that fresh herbs, in particular in the culinary sense, set my soul on fire. In fact, it was by growing, touching, smelling, learning about, eating and cooking with herbs that I probably first understood just how much I could set my soul in fire. Something deep inside of me lights up in the presence of fresh herbs. I am enraptured by them, as well as those who grow and use them and I have come to understand, much like mangoes in my life, they are my path to deep connection with others.
My Herbal-Roots, the creative manifestation of my herbal soul, started much like everything else I do, in a fight for control.
Years ago, back in Brooklyn, I wanted to be a cookbook author. That seemed like the conventional path most people who could cook were taking and what I was cooking, herbal cuisine, no one was publishing. I found out quickly that the field of cookbook publishing didn’t have room for an unconventional person and cook, much like most the world has little room for my weirdness.
After spending a good portion of time over the span of an entire year I did write what I thought was an amazing cookbook proposal. I had a well-connected agent and so many important food folks were excited about my venture into this space.
It was odd to me that a person as well-connected as I was in food back then, with a thriving cooking school and food business in the epicenter of food (NYC), couldn’t attract anyone concrete for a book. There were a few interested people and all of them basically wanted to change everything about the book that I wanted to write. Their ideas about herbs and what to do with them were frankly asinine. What I would have produced in a cookbook, had nothing to do with me or my authentic self. As a financial endeavor, the whole thing seemed rather stupid, if you are not a famous person, it essentially costs you money to write a cookbook.
I never published a cookbook and eventually dropped the idea rather quickly without much damage to my self-image. That process however, which I did with the help of writing coach Dianne Jacob, turned out to be one of the most important things I did for my future self. (Nissa the writer.) Not only did this experience teach me how to take my writing more seriously and gave me access to the Do’s & Don’ts of the recipe writing industry (which I don’t always follow), It helped me connect with why I must write, recipes and otherwise. I write as a means to understand my bizarre existence in this world better. What and who I have seen and how I intermingle with it all.
My recipes, my herbal soul fire is the way I connect all I have seen and all that I feel. It’s how I feel full and worthy and satisfied with my choice and my path. They are how I share my true self and all the joy I feel as I meander through this abundant world, mostly alone. In my recipe writing I feel seen for who I really am. No cookbook in the conventional culinary world could have ever delivered this as I have been able to through my own volition. My own creative infrastructure.
My Herbal-Roots & Herbal-Roots were born from this volition and will continue to take the unconventional path as I have, where they go I don’t really know- they are not as concrete as my other work.
Ask & Receive
My bold personality has always made it easy for me to ask for what I want, which is the only way to ever to get what you want. I know it’s not easy for many. This idea is why New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday (besides my birthday which has the same sentiment, really). I get to think about the past year and all of its sorrow and joy and ask for what I want in the year to come. I must sit and feel full and reflect in order to celebrate.
This year I continue my annual tradition of the Envelope Time Capsule which started in 2018, where I actively write down the good and bad of the year and the goals of the year ahead. Writing down my aspirations for the year ahead is important to me, and I like to go even further by asking for what I want next year aloud, voicing them to others. This method has always helped me manifest my dreams. I appreciate this blog for the same purpose.
When Kianna (my niece) was nine she said to me, “I like that you do what you say you are going to do, like when you said you were going to open the culinary center and a year later you did.” That was me manifesting. I’m good at manifesting, especially if I can get out of my own way.
My personal and herbal dreams for the next year are big and bold, as is my nature. I will continue to travel the world as it opens back up. I will try and explore new areas of the globe and learn more about some of my favorites. I’ll continue to expand and grow the Crespo Organic mango brand and keep room for other farmers who need my expertise.
I plan to continue to develop my Blue Eye, MO, property into the current Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center. It will eventually be a little herb farm and events center and a part-time home for me. There will be a wonderful greenhouse/bathhouse that is filled with lemons, lemon verbena, jasmine, and other wonderful smelling edibles. The deck around the greenhouse will have planters warmed to extend the season, and it will be a beautiful spot to sit and sip tea or a cocktail or do some yoga moves.
I will have a massive herb garden below the house and edible flowers all over the front. Fruit trees will be abundant and weird. There will be a pool and outdoor cabana with an attached restroom and a gigantic outdoor patio with a big outdoor kitchen with a huge fireplace, a wood-burning oven and BBQ. A sundeck beside the pool will meander down toward the fire pit, which will be surrounded by sleek Adirondack chairs and have a big rotisserie spit and BBQ hangers.
The place will have amazing educational food events and Supper Clubs, like we did in Brooklyn. Focusing on the same words from my original Ger-Nis motto- local -organic- sustainable – fairly traded. There will be loads of food and farmer education, cooking classes, food photography, recipe testing, and a thriving herbal salt business. And, since I am going big, I will eventually buy the house next door and provide space guests to stay overnight.
Yes, it’s a lot, and it will take more than a year, of course. And as all dreams go, this will manifest differently in its finality, but that’s how it works. You have to start somewhere. I’m confident enough that I am going to let Kianna know this is just like last time I build the culinary center!
My mantras this year are the subject of this post Focus on What Sets My Soul on Fire and Feel the Fullness of Things with an Open Heart. My forever mantra to Seek Joy will guide me.
Happy New Year. May you feel loved and feel it fully!