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feel good

Feel Good: Quilting

As part of my feel-good experiment, I'm saying yes to the stuff that feels good. One of the biggest challenges (for me) to doing what feels good is LOGIC. I can logic-away all kinds of fun stuff, insisting that I don't have time, I don't have energy, I really should spend my time on finishing those other projects instead of starting a new one. But this month's experiment is saying YES to something I know will feel good, so instead of saying NO to my newest crazy idea, I fully embraced it.


This week's crazy idea was Elise's Quilts by Christmas challenge. After a recent weekend spent quilting with my mom, I wanted to do it again. I was visiting this weekend and my mom has a great quilting set up: a big table to cut on, two sewing machines, plenty of ideas, so this was the perfect storm of inspiration and opportunity. Before I left I sent mom a link and my new quilt was born.

Love LOVE new fabric store. Unfortunately, didn't have black I needed. #quiltsbychristmas



We spent the weekend buying all the supplies, experimenting with the best way to cut triangles (we settled on this one), cutting, sewing, and ironing.
Part of my feel-good experiment: giving in to #quiltsbychristmas Details on the blog.
It felt great to dive into a new project: the endless Pinterest-searching, the fabric-buying, the cutting, sewing, chatting, charting. And you know? None of the logical reasons I had to not start matter at all. I feel refreshed and inspired for my other projects, and knowing that one of my Christmas gifts is halfway done feels fabulous.

What feel-good activity have you been logic-ing away?

Feel Good: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Soy Chai

As part of my Feel Good Experiment, I'm paying attention to what feels good, and that includes all those tiny wants. You know, when you're in the middle of something, but you think, I would really love a hot cup of tea. Well, now that I'm paying attention, I realize that I crave warm beverages a lot. All day. I want coffee in the morning, tea all day, and hot chocolate at night. But then I tell myself, Ok, just wait until you finish this email. Or, Get one later. And 8 hours later I still don't have my tea and it's time for bed and I say, Oh well, I'll get one tomorrow. 

Homemade soy pumpkin chai & pumpkin oatmeal. Yum.

 

Putting off a cup of tea might not be a big deal…once. But my daily deprivation, my unfun do-this-before-you-get-what-you-want game is a sign of something bigger. It's a failure to really listen in to what my body wants, and it's a symbol of all the other things I don't listen to (stretching a cramped leg, getting that Dr's appointment, a feeling that this project isn't quite-right).

So a cup of tea is the perfect place to start listening in to what feels good. It's small, it's risk-free, it's delicious and warming. And taking the time to make a perfect cup (and then enjoy sipping it) is a lovely reminder that I'm allowed to feel good, that I'm allowed to bring more good things into my life.

 

Yesterday I posted the above picture to Instagram and got a few requests for my recipe, so here it is, my guide to make the perfect cup:

 

Sharing pumpkin soy chai on the site today!

There are two steps to making this tea: make the pumpkin spice + brew the tea. The first step can be done way in advance – I make pumpkin spice in bulk every week and then add it to everything: smoothies, oatmeal, coffee, apple pie.

I started with this recipe, but tweaked it to fit my put-it-in-anything plans.

Pumpkin Spice for Anything:

1 cup of pumpkin puree
2 tsp cinammon
1 tsp ginger (I love it freshly-grated, but dried will work too)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (you might want more, but I don't really like it)
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 cup soy milk *

Mix it all up with a fork. It'll still be a bit thick, but that's ok, because you're going to add liquid any time you blend it in to anything. Seal it up and keep it in the fridge for a week.

 

*Important note about non-dairy milk substitutions:

I prefer almond milk (and hemp milk) for just about everything: baked goods, on my cereal, smoothies…but NOT for this. Other milks get weird when you heat them up…almond milk gets bitter, hemp milk starts to curdle and rice milk heats fine, but it's just way too thin for a creamy drink. If you're going to mix this in hot tea or coffee or oatmeal, use soy milk.

(Could you use milk? Sure…but why would you? The soy milk has a sweet nuttiness that really plays well with chai)

 

Making the tea

2 Tbl Rishi Tea: Masala Chai (loose tea)*
1 cup soy milk
1 cup water

Bubbling soy chai;

Put the tea and liquids in a little pot and bring it to boiling. The directions tell you to boil it for 5 minutes, however! If you keep it all the way up at High for 5 minutes, it gets a little bitter. So I turn it down to medium (still boiling, but less angrily) right after if it comes up to boiling. Set your timer and enjoy the chai-y fumes.

While the chai is bubbling, scoop a big spoonful of your spiced pumpkin into the bottom of your cup. If your drinking cup has a narrow mouth, use a wide mouth bowl or measuring cup for the next step. I want the hot liquid to hit the pumpkin to dissolve it, so scoop the pumpkin into whatever you're going to strain your tea into it. While you're at it, get out your strainer.

 

Straining the chai

 

When the timer dings, pull the tea off the stove and strain it. The pumpkin should dissolve nicely, but give it a quick stir just to be sure. If you've strained it into something else, pour into your mug.

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There you go! Delicious pumpkinness!

I love it in my oatmeal...

And if you've got a little tea left over, pour it into your oatmeal.
(Go on and add an extra scoop of the spiced pumpkin to your oatmeal while you're at it.)

 

A few other ideas:

  • The spiced pumpkin recipes all call for sweetener. If your tea isn't sweet enough for you, splash in some maple syrup. The soy milk I used had some sugar in it, so I didn't need any, but when I add the pumpkin spice to coffee, I usually do.
  • If you don't have loose leaf tea, use a tea bag (I like these) steeped in 1/2 soy, 1/2 water, then mix in the pumpkin.
  • If you've got the chai liquid stuff, mix it with soy as directed on the box, heat it up, then scoop in the pumpkin. (I like the Oregon Chai brand.)
  • When you're all warmed up (or sipping this butternut soup), make a pumpkin smoothie! 1 frozen banana, 2 scoops of spiced pumpkin, about a cup of almond milk, 1 Tbl of flax seeds: blend it all up.

What's your favorite feel-good drink of the fall?

 

How to experiment and feel good

 

This month, things are going to be different.
How often do you say that? This year, this month, this week, this next hour.
But how? How do you make an hour or week or month different?
Do you buckle down and try harder and push more?
Does that make you more productive? Or more tired?

I'm trying something totally different.

For this month's experiment, my premise is simple: do more of what feels good, and less of what doesn't.

Basic math, right? Add in more good stuff, and my life will have more good. If I listen to what I actually like (and not just what I think I should do), I'll be happier and more sure I'm making the right decisions.
But…what's good, what's bad?

What do I mean by feeling good?
Things that feel good…
-bring me joy
-connect me to others
-feed my enthusiasm
-build momentum
-are comforting
-nourish me

My theory is simple: If I say yes to more good-feeling stuff, my work and my days will be filled with good-feeling stuff.

I have to admit that there's a loud voice of midwestern pragmatist that tells me this a terrible idea. If everyone just did what felt good, our society would break down! People would be selfish! I'll be selfish!

But wait, is that true?
My experience with this is that when I do what feels good, it's often the kind thing, the gentle thing. Being truly selfish, or being rude or self-centered actually feels awful. For example, this week my husband's great aunt died. I'll be attending the funeral this week, and while it sounds hard and unfun (funerals are never easy), I know that going and comforting my husband and his family will actually feel good. Not happy dancing, giggling good, but deeply, profoundly right. Connecting with people always feels better than disconnecting (even when it's scary).

The trick is knowing the difference between what I think will feel good (or what I think I should do) and what will actually feels good.

Another example: people often ask to work one-on-one with me. And as much as I love talking to someone and getting to know them, the one-on-one relationship is just too short to be fulfilling + productive enough for me. What feels great is working alongside someone for a few months and seeing the growth in their business. So I've learned that what will really feel great is having them in the Starship, and helping them over time, so I can celebrate the Yays and help them through the Overwhelms. This goes against every bit of advice, and every bit of good sense. But it's true for me, and time has shown that it's good for the people I'm here to help. They get more momentum, which leads to more resutls, and in the meantime we both to know what'll work in the future.

But so far, I've been guessing. I've stumbled onto what works and what doesn't.

That's where the experiment comes in, to see if this is, in fact, something true, something I can trust.

My hypothesis: Doing more of what feels good will bring more good. Period.
The Parameters: At least once a day (before I start making my to-do list), ask myself: How can I bring more of what feels good into the day? And how can I get rid of what doesn't? I hope to remember to also ask myself this before making any decisions (Will I take on this project? What will I eat for lunch? Should I focus on this or that today?)

During the experiment, I'll be sharing the things that feel great, and inviting you to do the same.

Are you experimenting this month?

If this experiment thing is new to you, read How to Experiment right here. Join in by sharing your experiment (make up your own or join me in feeling good) in the comments. And if you'd like to to check in weekly (and ask questions) during your experiment with others, check out the Starship.