In these darker, earlier-sunset days, it’s so easy to feel that I need more than I already have.
These weeks leading up to winter can throw me off-tangent very easily – thoughts of uncertainty and insecurity and whatever else negative that winter tends to bring can quickly fill up my spaces and jam my thinking. And instead of feeling grateful for what I do have, I sometimes simply wish I had much more.
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More days of sunshine and warmer temperatures for example, and later sunsets that don’t cover the city in darkness even before I step out of the office. More money to be able to do what I love, such as traveling the world and re-exploring Europe, to live those carefree student-exchange days of 2007 once again. More time to do all the things that I have to squeeze into the weekend because otherwise they’d always remain on the to-do list.
And then sometimes I also wish for that extra pair of boots, just so I can have black knee-high boots to match most of my wardrobe; or that beautiful messenger camera bag (if only they delivered to Buenos Aires!).
But I know that this coveting and wishing for things that I don’t have is not good for my soul, and instead, I will choose to combat it with learning to be content and grateful.
An attitude of gratitude is quite self-fulfilling – when we start to be count, one finger at a time, the good things that we have in our lives, we naturally re-focus our thoughts on the positive, moving away from that which is negative or void.
And so, just like you would brew hot ginger tea to combat the winter chill, I’ll search my life for everything positive, and learn to triumph even in days of dark and cold.
I’m incredibly thankful for my family, whose love and support for me does not diminish with distance; and whose actions continually inspire me and push me to grow bigger as a person.
I’m thankful that I have Juan by my side, whose love and companionship reminds me daily why I took the plunge and moved to Buenos Aires.
I am grateful for my friends, both in Singapore and Buenos Aires, and even in other parts of the world – friends whom have shown me the meaning of friendship, and embraced me despite our differences (in culture, personalities, and interests).
I’m thankful I have a job, one that pays decent and while not my passion, is something that I definitely can’t complain about.
And then I’m glad that my paying job allows me the time and money to practice doing what I love so incredibly much – and that through writing, photography and cooking, I’ve found liberation, relaxation and a peace that overcomes me.
And most importantly, I am thankful that throughout it all, God is always present in my life, and especially during the days of uncertainty, I feel His love and protection.
“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.”– Jeremiah 29:11
Because He is my provider, and protector and never-failing love, I give thanks.
I see God’s goodness in the beauty of the cotton-candy pink sunset; I notice His kindness reflected when someone buys bread for the beggar at the subway station; and I marvel at His creations in all the foods that I eat.
Take these raspberries for example.
I found them in Chinatown the other weekend, and their vibrant fuchsia color just made my heart jump in joy. Their tart, sweet juice was refreshing and delightful. And when I mixed them into a batter, and made this raspberry almond bread, I gasped at their beauty once again.
This quick bread can be made with either fresh or frozen raspberries, and it didn’t last very long on our dining table because it was really just that good.
Imagine tart raspberries that tingle your taste buds and a soft crumb made with almond meal.
Imagine bite after bite of this bread, together with a good, fruity tea and even better company.
There is really so much to be grateful for, and for that I give thanks.
GRAIN-FREE RASPBERRY ALMOND BREAD
(Makes 1 loaf)
1) 2 cups of almond meal
2) 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
3) 1/2 teaspoon of salt
4) 4 tablespoons of butter (55g), melted
5) 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
6) 4 large eggs, room temperature
7) 2-3 heaping tablespoons of honey (depending on how sweet you prefer it)
8) 1 cup of fresh raspberries
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit (180 deg cel).
2) Mix almond meal, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl
3) In another bowl, beat eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract and honey together until well mixed
4) Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix to form a batter (be careful not to over-mix or batter will become oily and dense). Gently stir in the fresh raspberries.
5) Pour batter in a well-greased loaf pan
6) Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
7) Let raspberry almond bread cool for at least 15 minutes before removing it from the pan and slicing
*Note: Because of the raspberries used in the bread, it will not keep for more than a few days (if it can last that long!!). To conserve it for as long as possible, store in the fridge in an airtight container. In my opinion, this bread is best eaten within one of two days of baking.