“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.”
– Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poem
In the past weekend, I took a 100-day pledge to try and find the beauty, pleasure or joy in something (whether small of big) every single day, and if possible, to capture that thing in a photograph, for the world to see.
Apparently, according to the “100 happy days” campaign, 71% of the people who signed up for the challenge failed to complete it, “quoting lack of time as the main reason”.
While it may sound like a strange and absurd excuse, the fast-paced society that we live in and have gotten used to does make it difficult to find time to be happy, or at least look for something (large or tiny) that gives you joy.
It’s true you know, it does take time and effort to find joy in a day’s work.
While 24 hours may seem long enough and sufficient to appreciate something that makes me smile slowly, grin widely or burst out laughing without abandon, it certainly requires effort on our part.
I say this because effort is needed first, to be willing to accept that even small things or events can make us happy; and second, to be open to looking for them and embracing them.
When I first chanced upon the quote that I started this post with, I had to let the words slowly sink it.
I love that the quote gives us permission to fall into joy, just like you would fall into love. To surrender to joy, to give in, like a love so big, it doesn’t make any sense trying to push it way.
It tells us not to hesitate, but to be confident and courageous as we embrace joy.
I’m captivated by the idea of taking it all in, one huge breath of joy so big and abundant and intense.
Joy in the smallest of things (like a dried auburn maple leaf lying on the sidewalk, or the fragrance of homemade granola being baked on a chilly night at home) and joy in the largest of things (like the new birth of a baby, a re-location to a completely new continent, or the beauty of a sunset by the beach).
We’re now two weeks into autumn, and as the trees turn from yellows to oranges and reds, and as the warmer evenings give way to chillier ones, I want to FALL INTO JOY.
I want to look at the long avenues lined with auburn-brown trees and sigh in happiness; I desire to breathe in the crisp night air and fill my lungs with joy; I wish to look upon the crescent moon appearing just before the sun fully sets, it hanging high up in the cotton candy pink-blue sky, and smile, just because.
I also want to savor autumn and its flavors; and I’m today starting with butternut squash.
Beautiful, joyous butternut squash julienned into thin, even strips, then sautéed in a little olive oil and fragrant garlic. On top of the nest of butternut squash spaghetti, I place freshly baked meatballs – evenly rolled balls of a minced beef mixture cooked until slightly crispy on the outside. And then, above everything, I generously sprinkle chopped fresh parsley, whose aroma fills the air. Breathe in deeply, can you smell it too?
This plate of food gives me so much joy – its bright colors and intense flavors are enough to make me happy.
And so, I give in to joy. I fall into joy.
I am happy.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SPAGHETTI WITH MEATBALLS (Serves 2)
Inspired by: All Recipes
For the meatballs:
1) 500g of minced beef
2) 2 tablespoons of olive oil
3) 1/3 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
4) 1 egg, beaten
5) 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley
6) 1/2 teaspoon of dried garlic
7) Salt & pepper to taste
For the butternut squash spaghetti:
8) 1 large butternut squash, peeled and then shredded with a julienne peeler
9) 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
10) Olive oil, for sauteing
11) Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
12) Salt and pepper to taste
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit (175 deg cel)
2) Grease a baking dish with olive oil
3) In a large bowl, mix minced beef, egg, shredded coconut, dried parsley and garlic, salt and pepper with your hands
4) Using an ice-cream scoop (or a tablespoon), form minced meat mixture into golf-sized balls
5) Place greased baking dish for 3 minutes in the oven to heat up the oil
6) When oil has been heated up, place the meatballs 1-inch apart on the baking dish
7) Bake meatballs for 15 minutes in the oven, then turn them over, and bake for another 15 minutes or until crispy on the outside
8) When meatballs are cooking, use the julienne peeler to shred the butternut squash and mince the garlic. Saute garlic and butternut squash with a little oil in a pan over medium heat until butternut squash spaghetti is cooked
9) Serve meatballs with butternut squash spaghetti and garnish with chopped fresh parsley
* Note: I strongly recommend using this julienne peeler (see picture below) if you don’t already have one. It has made my life so much easier whenever I want to make noodles from vegetables, such as zucchini noodles, these eggplant noodles, or just a simple Asian slaw!!
P.S. If you’re wondering why I’m trying to eliminate wheat from my life, I strongly recommend Wheat Belly – a book that will empower you and make you determined to get rid of wheat and it’s terrible health effects!