My mum and dad named their first-born daughter “Felicia”, and by definition, my name literally means “happy one”.
I suppose that explains my optimistic personality and predisposition to see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. It probably also is the reason why I constantly look at the brighter side of life, trying to search for the silver lining in every situation I may find myself in.
Sometimes people tell me I’m too positive (as if it were a bad thing), but I try to take these comments as compliments instead of criticism.
I’m a sociable introvert, I’d like to believe.
I love to mix with all kinds of people – old friends, strangers and new acquaintances all excite me. I truly enjoy hearing other people tell their stories, about where they come from and the lives they lead, in the same way that I feel at ease telling them about mine.
Yet at the same time, the introvert in me likes to curl up under the covers with just a good book and hot tea for company; other times, I like to be enshrouded in complete silence, my thoughts flowing as easily from me to the page I’m writing on.
I’m not one prone to sudden outbursts of tears nor am I one to let things overwhelm me.
Yet last Thursday, in the calm of my apartment with the TV on, I found myself giving in uncontrollably to a bout of tears that I honestly had no idea were coming.
It had been a stressful and relatively high-strung week – a combination of many different factors – and without proper rest over the past weekend, the salty tears flowed down my cheeks, nature’s way of saying that it’s ok to let it all out.
I’d been feeling overwhelmed with the endless activities that were being planned, the feeling of obligation to attend events that I had no energy for, homesickness, friendships that were being strained and the difficulties of being an expatriate in a land that is no longer foreign but still isn’t mine.
It was a tough day to have, but thankfully, my wonderful friend Mechi called and we had a conversation that could brighten up any soul.
On difficult days like these, it’s so easy to see the bad, the negative and sink into a vicious cycle of self-pity and complaint. It’s also ridiculously easy to stay down and to feel ungrateful.
My friend Anna from The Yellow Table had written a post on choosing joy and gratitude, and as I read her wise words on Friday afternoon, I let it sink in that our joy comes from God, the one who doesn’t change, ever, and if we focus on Him and choose joy, we can be joyful despite the circumstance.
In her beautiful words, “Just like practicing gratitude is something you have to decide to do, joy is something you decide to put on, like a favorite pair of shoes.” (Thank you dear, sweet Anna. You deserve a Nobel Peace prize my friend, in my opinion at least.)
I will choose joy and I will choose gratitude.
I will be thankful for friends like Mechi and Anna and being able to have the things I enjoy. I will be glad that I am able to experience being in a foreign land and exploring new things all the time.
I will choose to appreciate my colleagues even if work is stressful and I sometimes wish I worked in a larger firm.
I will give thanks that it is Spring, and that it is beautiful here in Buenos Aires.
I will place my faith in God, my provider, and hang onto His written word –
“‘For I know the thoughts that I think towards you,’ says the Lord…’Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ ” – Jer 29:11
I will be thankful, for this wonderful space that I have to share my thoughts, to share recipes like this moist, lemon ricotta bread that has been my breakfast the entire week. I will be grateful for you dear friends, who read about the stories I tell, week after week. Thank you so much.
And instead of only searching for the light, I will be the light I want to see in the world.
Moist, gluten-free lemon ricotta bread that makes for a citrusy and filling breakfast or a tea-time snack.
- 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature, and a bit more for greasing the pan
- 1/2 cup white rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup corn flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (less than 1 lemon)
- Pre-heat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit (180 deg Cel)
- Grease a large loaf pan with butter, and line pans with baking paper.
- In a bowl, mix the rice flour, tapioca starch, corn flour, baking powder and salt together. Stir to blend.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter, ricotta, and sugar together with an electric beater until well blended. (Don’t worry if there are visible bits of butter or that the batter is not completely smooth).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and keep mixing.
- Add vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix some more until well combined.
- Incorporate the dry mixture a bit at a time, until you finally get a homogeneous batter.
- Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake for around 1 hour 10 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean).
- Let the lemon ricotta bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing to cool completely.
- Slice and serve.
Adapted from: Alexandra Cooks (http://www.alexandracooks.com/2013/05/07/lemon-ricotta-pound-cake-%E2%80%A2-mothers-day-%E2%80%A2-handmade-accordion-book/)
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins
- Category: Snacks
- Cuisine: Gluten-free