inspiration, really?!

If you are the one of those people who often feel inspired, I bow to you with not an ounce of jealousy.  Well, ok, maybe a little jealousy.

Me?  I have to mine the caves of my mind, as in excavate, drill down for ideas.  I can’t explain it.  It could be my disposition.  It could be just me. Could be … who knows?  When I do run across a source of inspiration, it is a tickle.  It is something that pads lightly around the edges of my consciousness like lemon zest in a dish.  It is there, it perfumes the dish, but what is it?

Recently I watched the Olympic swimming trials, by mistake.  I happened to sit down while my husband had the TV on.  I watched, maybe, 20 minutes. You know what?  I started to feel a little inspired.  Inspired to do what… I am not sure.  But, there is no misinterpreting that tiny nudge of encouragement that leads to being enlivened and strengthened.

Lately I’ve found myself feeling a certain way;  and, subsequently telling myself I should be feeling otherwise.  Feeling down? C’mon, Kelly, get over it.  Feeling unmotivated and lethargic?  C’mon, Kelly, get something done.  In doing so, I am telling myself to be someone other than who I am in that moment.  In turn, it leads me away from my inherent nature.  By contrast, if I simply accept how I am feeling in any given moment, I am closer to my true essence.  Being closer to one’s inherent nature enables us to more easily tap into creativity or inspiration because our mind’s are freer.

If ideas germinate with a little tickle, a seed, then it is helpful to have a touchstone, especially if the modality encourages the mind to be freer.    A touchstone that can be used to access an open state of being is So Hum.  So Hum is a sanskrit word loosely meaning, “I am that.”  It is typically used as a mantra.  While practicing this mantra, “So” is thought to oneself on the inhale, “Hum” is thought on the exhale.  Since it’s message to the practitioner is, “I am that,” by remaining in that space, we will most likely not attempt to change who we are in a given moment.  Our minds will loosen up a little.  Once acceptance has occurred, transformation can, and probably will, happen.

Maybe having a few pictures of meals and a dessert may spawn some ideas for you as it does for me…

Why do I post these pictures?  Ideas.  In the past, I found a string of pictures like this to be arrogant.  A little shout-y, if you will.  A little look at me.  But, it occurred to me while contemplating inspiration, I frequently get encouragement from pictures or descriptions of something someone else cooked or baked, (or wrote).  I may not make or do anything remotely like they did;  nevertheless, it oftentimes gives me the nudge I need.

Photo #1:  The strawberry pie I made for two reasons.  It is pretty.  And, my husband loves strawberries.  Although the dessert is much more sugar-based than I typically will make, the color won out.

Photo #2:  The second dish was created by London-based chef, Yotam Ottolenghi.  He puts together ingredients in a new way.  Ways I would never contemplate… until I read about how he cooks.  The pasta sauce pictured above is made with pine nuts, raisins, celery, tomatoes, capers, olives, and a little sugar.  Very different.  Very good.

Photo #3:  Baked pasta with roasted vegetables.  I roasted an eggplant and an onion, par-boiled pasta, combined both pasta and vegetables with stewed, diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, basil, and topped the dish with parmesan cheese.  In the oven it went for about 25 minutes.

Photo #4:  Summer Minestrone.  A favorite of mine.  I came up with this last summer (hence, it’s name) because I love soup, but not hot soup when it is 95 + degrees outside.  It is good at room temperature or cold.  And, you can’t beat eating a jumble of vegetables.

The recipe for today’s post is for Baby Bok Choy Stir-Fry with Lemon Vinaigrette.  I’ve been making quite a few bean and rice dishes lately.  This one came about with ingredients I had on hand, and an idea for tahini dressing that I adapted.  The technique of sauteéing vegetables, adding them to prepared rice and beans, and topping it all with a vinaigrette is versatile and handy.  I’ve made this dish with a variety of kale also.

Baby Bok Choy Stir-Fry with Lemon Vinaigrette

Serves 3 – 4 

1 c. brown rice, cooked, set aside*

1 14 oz. can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed, set aside

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced

1 head baby bok choy, rinsed, thinly sliced

1 8 oz container baby bella mushrooms, cleaned of dirt, thinly sliced

1/2 c. + chicken or vegetarian broth, preferably low-sodium

1 lemon, room temperature, rinsed, zest and juice

extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Prepare brown rice according to package directions, set aside. *Depending on your preferred rice to bean ratio in this salad, you may use less rice.  I typically end up using about 2/3 of the cooked rice.  Or, I use all of it and add another can of beans.  Adjust seasonings and dressing accordingly.
  2. Rinse and drain beans, set aside.
  3. In a large skillet with a lid, heat 2 T  extra virgin olive oil over medium heat, add onion and a pinch of salt.  Sauté 3 – 4 minutes until the onion begins to soften and release its moisture.  Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt.  Sauté another 3 minutes or so until the mushrooms begin to release their moisture and begin to brown just slightly.
  4. Add bok choy, pour 1/2 c. broth or more depending on desired consistency over the top of the vegetables, add freshly ground black pepper to taste, put the lid on. Cook over medium to medium low heat until the greens begin to wilt and are cooked, about 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add beans, cooked vegetable mixture, including the broth which becomes part of the dressing, and the rice.  Zest and juice lemon over mixture.  Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Drizzle about 4 T. of extra virgin olive oil over the salad.   Mix well to combine.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

10 thoughts on “inspiration, really?!

  1. I love everything here; especially the strawberry pie and summer minestrone. Thank you for sharing your dishes and I may have to try preparing the sauce dish; pine nuts, celery, et al sounds splendid. ~ judy

  2. Dear Kelly, I am an old friend of your mother’s — we were in the same sorority in college. She thought I might like your newsletter- blog and I’m so happy she led me to it– and YOU. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOUR FRESH WRITING STYLE AND HOW YOU COMBINE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH THE BEAUTY OF YOUR LOVE FOR FOOD. Byron Katie is an important person in my life too– her precise way of reasoning has helped me clarify my thoughts and live in a thriving way– with less clutter. You have a unique gift here with your tender musings about making sense of life — and adding to that gentle referencing even more delicious reflection by bringing in spectacular photos and truly delicious well edited recipes. Your writing is entirely pleasing and I found your contemplations and comments kept my interest and I wanted to read on and on– so you come off as being credible and trustworthy. It is key to gain the reader’s trust and I totally liked you! And then to carry on and find the magnificent photos and recipes as well added heavenly value. I want to encourage you to keep writing and getting your stuff out there as much as you can. I experienced you as an emerging form of Bon Appetit!! You come across as having a light-heart, filled with fun, edgy sensibilities and I thoroughly enjoyed the current life-reflections because it all makes up package that makes the reader feel ONE with you. The presentation feels new and fresh and it carries a transmission of joy.

    My website is and my email is I would be glad to be in a dialogue with you if ever you want further encouragement. Much love, Bonnie Kelley

  3. Kelly– your latest blog again leaves me feeling like i am bubbling up with freshness and yet– so peaceful that i could take a sweet nap in the shade of a big oak tree… This comment you included: “I simply accept how I am feeling in any given moment, I am closer to my true essence. Being closer to one’s inherent nature enables us to more easily tap into creativity or inspiration because our mind’s are freer…” is a corner stone in my life, too. I’m learning every day to simply allow –and even encourage my feelings to come up — so they are arrayed and displayed just like your beautiful food items and then I can see them clearly. Many times they are lovely and informative and then occasionally I see anger, judgement, annoyance etc but those too can be acknowledged as ingredients of the over all Bonnie offering. Keep writing– I am getting nourishment from your entire presentation. Bonnie

    • Bonnie,

      Thank you, thank you.

      Developing awareness of our feelings, then letting them be whatever they are, is powerful. By not dismissing or repressing them, we have a greater chance of 1) acknowledging the feeling; and 2) giving the feeling(s) an equal place at the table as Rumi teaches. This practice will lead us to welcoming all thoughts and feelings; and, eventually, an understanding that these thoughts and feelings are not as solid (to use a word of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s) as they seem to be.

      Talk to you soon. Kelly

      • Kelly .. This morning I especially needed to be
        Reminded that I can give all feelings an equal
        Place at the table! Your response back to me was a delight to receive –and timely. Love,

        • Great ! You probably have your own way of bringing all thoughts to the table; but, I’ve often envisioned a large dining room table situated next to a door. In my mind’s eye, I hear a knock on the door, open it, and there stands whatever emotion. I welcome them in and ask them to please take a seat at the table.


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