moving writing to Substack

Happy New Moon. Enjoy all new posts at karenman.substack.com.

The writing will be less blog-like, aims to honor dialogue, flow from a place of peace, challenge the ego, and present aspects of being in and on this beautiful, sacred, oxygenated, gassy planet. Expect topics ranging from permaculture, nutrition, baking, being outdoors, herbalism, mindfulness, to writers I’m enjoying and challenged by.

I titled the site husk’ay: to scatter seeds (Quechua); puesta de la semilla en el suelo, en el acto de la siembra.

white solar dog

Like the imperfect organization of aveoles in this next loaf of bread I bake, beauty and love are present experiences, never fully describable or expressed in a linear manner.

Having spent years struggling to look through a lens that is solely mine, I peel away those layers that trained my past sight. The sharpness limited the range of experiences I would allow myself. When the seen things became less distinct, I gave my other senses breathe.

Since the Winter Solstice, I walk, with the longest spine I know, amongst the towering forest of Truth. I release the threads of my past into the deepest expansions of the Blue Sky. These strands influenced me, distracted me, held me in some capacities from the fullest expression my Heart.

A wash of unconditional love, emerged, unrestricted, spilling into the surfaces of my skin, dancing onto you, flowing with its new life. Its lava-like qualities, burned so I felt its sensation, retreating in temperature only when I no longer needed heat to pinpoint the flow.

I surrender to the universe’s plan for us.

Breathe In, Breathe Out.

Love Endlessly.

Peace,
Your Magnetic Blue Monkey

2018.01.08_whitesolardog

going downhill and getting downhill

My path, uniquely mine, predetermined to include curves, with varying elevations and odd sized obstacles. It has left me with physical scars—internal scars that surfaced for weeks and sometimes years. Growing up, people told me that scars were not pretty. As a lover of the outdoors and a true participant of gravitational forces, I felt confused, until one day I realized they were just projecting their fear on me.

fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone/something
is dangerous/scary, likely to cause pain/discomfort, or a threat.

I decided that fear would keep me from being curious, from exploration, and, therefore, would alter my potent for new aspects of happiness and level of obtainable joy. If I could break the patterns of things that used to provoke fear, then my thought was I could be detached from fear. This emotional response is highly individualized, so what I did next may not be the stimulus you need.

I wouldn’t have said yes to downhill mountain biking. I have no reason to downhill mountain bike. I have never mountain biked, or skied, or even like going downhill on a straight, perfectly paved road on a bike with good brakes, but people do this all the time, with enjoyment, and I would be sharing my experience with Tigermom (aka Lisa Lov).

How I came to say yes, in the days prior:

One weeks prior, after a chat about hair with the Creative Director of a hair salon in Toronto, it dawned on me that hair holds the DNA of our past; so, over a bathroom sink, moments after waking up, with inexperienced hair cutting fingers, I cut the past into a trashcan, giving it no choice but to leave my being. With each movement of my fingers, a wave of empowerment rushed through my veins. The blockage of fear began to leave my body.

Two nights prior, Tigermom, the other craziest gals, and I practiced our meditative breathing exercises before we jumped into 8 Celsius lake water. The sun was out. We were in Sweden. Why wouldn’t we jump in the lake? What’s the worst that could happen? We already knew we would be cold, so jumping into the lake would just confirm this fact.

One hour prior, Tigermom asked if I was scared. My response: I’m not thinking about being scared until we get on the mountain. I couldn’t be bothered to replace the awe of Sweden’s beauty with the fear of something I committed myself do.

Protected in full gear, I watched with laser focus the art of getting on a ski lift with an awkwardly heavy bike, and I thought to myself, what’s the worse that can happen? I fall a lot and eventually get to the bottom? I was certain all those things would happen. To not let fear take over me after I fell the first and uncountable last time, I found that focusing on my breath caused my heart rate and blood pressure to stay stable.

There’s a memory that Lisa and I will share, when I went over the handlebars and landed spread eagle with the bike landing on me, perfectly sandwiching my head under the frame’s triangular core. As the weight of the bike holds me down long enough for me to collect my thoughts, I thought to myself, I should ask her to photograph me. Ironically, Tigermom was thinking the same thing. Unfortunately, neither of us said what we were thinking, so there is no proof it happened. All I could do was laugh at how ridiculous I probably looked. I made a trailer of memories if you need a minute of thrill.

I got up.

The uncanny, calm-as-fuck innerself thought: Fuck it. Let’s keep going. What other choice do we have?

(Note to downhill newbies, it’s not a good idea to hit the brakes fully when in the process of going downhill.)

i feel free.

i am free.

tomorrow i am also free.

spending the 4th not here (but there)

I flew over 12 hours so I could lay next to a friend and stay up way too early into the morning talking about love, life, and living in a new decade. There’s always so much to catch up on. There is no substitution for physical exchanges in words.

This is my second summer to spend the 4th away from my US home. Copenhagen, over the years, has become a second home to me. I cultivated my first Danish friendships over 6 years ago. We have shared our cycles of love, heartache, living as foreigners, and healing over the quickly evolving technology.

the pause in falling

Over the past years, I have become the student of the artfully falling, with physical scars to show for it. If you didn’t believe in gravity, I could convince you otherwise. I thought my tattoos would be a unique identifier, but I found the unvisible scars much more unreplicable and hold a deeper beauty.

The more often I fell, the less often I cursed what could be seen as a misfortune, and the more resilient I became. Getting up became a muscle memory. Now when I fall, I acknowledge the pause in my life, inhale and exhale into the experience, and practice softly lifting myself up. The measure of time melts away during the healing process. It just goes as it goes, flows like seaweed riding the vastness of waves. (Sometimes the flow cramps my style.)

traveling with paps

I waited until the last possible moment to book my tickets. I wavered on the thought that traveling with my you for 10+ days could destroy the something we had. We’ve never really had a relationship outside our required commitment to each other as family. I’ve always loved you, but because I was taught to. I’ve always wanted less hierarchy, but I didn’t know how to ask it because we were taught to respect our elders, which meant never talking back and just bowing to their commands.

i knew this trip would be important. i knew in order to learn more about the translucent layers in me, i had to get to know you. your dna runs deep in me. i knew it would not be easy. i knew there was a chance your snoring would keep me up at night. i knew i would be predisposed to reacting un-emphatically with the side-effect of a living with historically faulty lenses. i knew there would be times i would want to yell at you. i knew i would hear you vocalize what you were thinking when you looked through your lens. i knew there would be times i would just want to tell you to “Stop”. i knew there would be room for special moments. I knew that we could re-write history and muscle memories, one second at a time.

and so we go.

i learned how to hold my tongue. i learned how to hear you. i learned how to listen deeper. i learned that my choices do not make sense to you, that they are unexplored parts of your universe you haven’t conceptualized. i’ve learned that we will continue living very strikingly different lifestyles, wanting very different things, but that our experiences will always be unique to us. i’ve learned to increase my tolerance of listening to your unsolicited advice because it makes you happy to say it and because it means you care. i have learned to tell you if your words or actions are hurting me. I’ve learned that being an immigrant to the US was not actually the better path for you, but in your sacrifice, it gave me and Ange something far greater.

 


you have given me the chance to live a life that is joyful. you have given me just enough material comfort that i could live a life that leans towards non-attachment. You have created a strong, loving, independent woman. Make that 2 strong, loving, independent women.

as much as i love you, i am ready to come home to my unscheduled, attempting and always failing to be scheduled life.

thank you for not judging the dress and all the whisky i bought.

my first mental health day

I took my first mental health day.

That day lasted a weekend.

And quite frankly, it was pretty much on and off all week, minus the times I had to do adult things to make sure the other worlds around me that are affected by me keep moving since I like being responsible.

During my first mental health day, I washed all my bedsheets, made my bed in the most proper way possible, cleaned the floors, cleaned my bathroom, wiped down my Vespa, fed Daisy (my starter), let my brain veg out to some TV (Netflix: Chef’s Table – Franc), pretty much try to reset all my senses, signaling a new direction I decided to move in. I nourished myself with the finest tea I own, spent the minimum amount of time needed to set certain things in order and sat on my porch swing. I let myself laugh; I let myself cry; I let myself feel nothing; I let myself feel everything. For me, if I were to figure some things out, I needed to allow myself to experience every emotion.

I can’t believe I procrastinated from a mental health day all the other times in the past when I should have probably taken one. I vow to more than make up for it going forward. I have emerged, with more clarity (not all the clarity) and a stillness I had never found before. I am very grateful for everyone’s offer to listen, to love, to care.

I will try something new. Maybe I will call them mental health hours, or minutes, or seconds.

 

Duplicating Dandelions

I made a wish with your sister the day before yesterday.
Yesterday, you gave me another wish.
Perhaps Mother Nature knew I had two wishes.

I wished for the future to feel love and to be loved.
I wished for those in the now to feel love and to be loved.

Because you breathe the same air I do, I know that you feel loved.

Isha

She told me I looked good. Was it because I finally shaved my legs for the second time this year? Was it because I microplaned all the dead skin off my feet? Was it because I decided to stop protesting razors and have bare underarms for the first time in over half a year? Perhaps, it was because I felt good, healthy, wiser. Today, I showered for me. I dressed for me. I put on nice shoes and pearls for no reason but for me. I decided to love me.

Every woman should feel this way. Every man should feel this way. Every human should feel this way. We should build each other up so we can feel this way, to nourish the love that is sometimes deeply embedded inside us, struggling for its full expression. I made it a point to focus on self-care this year and I found my aspects of fullness.

From the Upanishads, the first of the principle is the “Isha.” Here is the opening prayer, known as The Perfect Prayer, translated by Easwaran:

All this is full. All that is full.
From fullness, fullness comes.
When fullness is taken from fullness,
Fullness still remains.

In the past, I found myself depriving myself of things because I felt guilty for having things. This wasn’t a very peaceful existence and definitely not the healthiest way to live in this world. I am practicing to rejoice in gratitude when I have things and rejoice when I am able to give those things to others.

I find myself alone more often, quiet more often, sitting still more often, meditating more often. When my balance is off, I worry less. I look ahead, do what I know and ask for help in the things I am unfamiliar with. I’m currently a little unsure of what my short-term purpose is: if the things I have always desired are really meant for me, if I’m meant to live in the city I call home.

Angie, I’ve been contemplating a lot of things lately. It makes me more reserved for the time being. I know you know my full expression and wish to see it every day, but for now, this is me. I am not sad. I am just practicing to be grateful for the things that I have. It warms my heart that I have you.

Morning Baking Playlist

Today marked the first time I consciously, on a holiday, did something for me. I put on my morning baking playlist, which I spent a week putting together, and baked. It was less important what I was baking, which I’m sure you’re wondering what came out of the oven, and more about loving every moment of it, from walking in my kitchen with bare feet, to pre-heating the oven, to having buttery hands, to washing my hands countless times, to reading recipes I had never made before, to taking a break to start my batch of Kombucha, to making mistakes, to bake for me.

Baking as a profession turned baking into less of something for me and more of something for you—which is great; but, through its repetition, I forgot why I baked or how I felt when I baked.

Maybe it’s more important to just listen to the playlist if you’re not a baker. Maybe it’s more important to know that sometimes through repetition, we forget how special a certain day, or a certain body movement, or a certain act can feel. Put intention back into something that seems so mundane. I remind myself that there is no one judging me, especially if that thing makes me happy.

Here’s what spent time in my oven today and their recipes:

img_0276

Pizza, one half sheet pan

This recipe is adapted from my good friend Pam Yung, who baked me a loaf of bread in 2015 that changed the direction my heart fluttered. She is an incredible woman who inspires me.

188g AP or 00 flour*
23g whole wheat flour*
165g bread flour*
56g levain
293g water
9g salt
15g olive oil

Mixing: Mix until combined.
Bulk ferment for 4 hours, folding 3 times.
Place in slightly oiled container. Refrigerate overnight.
Final proof if baking in a pan: Let dough come to room temperature, 2-3 hours. Oil pan and place the stretched dough on top. Rest 30 minutes before topping and baking.
Baking: As hot as your oven will go and until you get the color of the crust you want and the crispiness your heart desire. Use a pizza stone if you have one.

* Feel free to make your own blend.
** If wanting to make round pizzas, placed into the oven with a peel, lower hydration slightly.

 

Lemon Bars

With more lemons than I know what to do with, foraged from a good friend’s tree, I found a recipe I hadn’t made in over 5 years. It seemed like the right time to revisit old memories.

340g butter, cold and cubed (1.5C)
405g AP flour (3C)
94g 10x (0.75C)
2 lemons, zested
1t. salt

600g sugar (3C)
9 eggs, room temp
355g lemon juice (1.5C)
9t. lemon zest

For the crust, mix until sandy and press into half sheet pan lined with parchment. Parbake 18-20 minutes at 350°F until lightly golden brown.

For the filling, mix sugar, eggs, and lemon juice. (If you have a hand blender, use that, or else make sure to strain to remove the tough parts of the egg whites.) Add lemon zest. When the crust comes out of the oven, pour mixture over it. Bake 20-25 minutes until set. When cool, dust with powdered sugar and slice.

 

Lemon Shaker Pie

Not being raised in a household where a grandma made pies, I decided to make a new pie that I had never made before. If pies are my jam, I am destined to try as many of them as I can.

3 lemons
400g sugar (2C)
2.5g salt (1/2t.)
3 eggs`
1 yolk
17g AP flour (2T)

2 pie crusts

Slice lemons thin on a mandoline, remove seeds, and mix with sugar. Let it sit overnight. Place sliced lemons in pie shell. Add eggs and flour to lemon juice mixture. Pour into pie pan. Top with layer of pie dough. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes, lower oven to 350°F and bake for 30-35 minutes until set. Let it cool until room temp. Chill one hour before serving.

 

Chewy Sorghum Cookies

Take your favorite molasses cookie recipe and replace the molasses with sorghum. It’s a “less intense” cookie where the spices come through a little more.

170g butter
150g sugar
50g dark brown sugar
50g eggs
85g sorghum
2g salt
270g AP Flour
8g baking soda
5g cinnamon
2.5g cardamom, ground
1g nutmeg
1g ginger

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sorghum, and salt. Add dries. Portion into balls and roll in raw sugar. Bake 350°F. Bake a few minutes less than you normally do if you want them to be soft and chewy.