Keep it Simple

June 7, 2021

“Walked out this morning
Don’t believe what I saw
Hundred billion bottles
Washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone in being alone
Hundred billion castaways
Looking for a home”
~ From “Message in a Bottle” (1979) by the Police

I recently heard “Message in a Bottle” the classic 1979 song by The Police, being reviewed on one of those reaction YouTube channels by a couple of twenty-something twins from Gary, Indiana (who seemed to love it). I had forgotten how much its melody and lyrics could move me and was struck by how appropriate they are to the recent (and current in many places around the world) human experience of the pandemic. No matter how many online visits we had, there was still a profound sense of isolation felt by most of us.

Now that we are beginning to get back to normal life again and sharing experiences and emotions with each other, I’ve been struck by how universal the feelings of anxiety, depression and uncertainty have been.  Most people who have shared these feelings with me assume they are the only ones still shaking off some “pandemic slump”, but I’m guessing that most of us have been silently sending out an emotional “SOS” into the void. We all share more than we realize. We have not been “alone in being alone”.

As we begin to heal and reconnect, it helps to remember the grounding benefits that simple, daily rituals can provide. Those little repetitive actions we take, like stretching every morning upon waking, making the bed, giving thanks before a meal, brushing the cat or walking the dog, can keep us connected to our inner anchor and the earth beneath us. Especially now, as we ramp up our activities and begin to fill out our schedules with new appointments and postponed events, carving out just a few minutes at day’s end to be silent, take a walk, watch the sunset or to do a simple visual meditation can help to keep us steady as we move forward.

Here is a short, simple visualization you can do to center yourself. You only need a few minutes at the end or perhaps beginning of your day:

Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Begin by breathing slowly, deeply, evenly, in and out of the nose if you can, fully filling and fully emptying your lungs.

Now imagine yourself on a clean, sandy beach somewhere lovely. See the soft, gentle waves coming in towards your feet with your inhales, and rolling back to the ocean with your exhales. See yourself holding a small piece of paper and a pen or pencil. There is an empty glass bottle, sealed with a small cork lying on the beach next to you. Write a short message of inspiration or encouragement on the paper that you yourself would like to receive. Roll the piece of paper up and seal it inside the glass bottle. Now imagine yourself tossing this bottle out into the waves. See it slowly and gently being carried out and away by the ocean, moving further away from you with each exhale and finally disappearing beyond the horizon. Finish your visualization asking that someone, somewhere will receive your metaphoric message of hope and cheer and be uplifted by it.

I’m guessing that, after completing that short, simple visual exercise, you will feel just a bit uplifted yourself.

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

~~~~~~~~~

A nice end of day ritual is stopping to enjoy a pause with a refreshing beverage or little bite to eat. I don’t drink alcohol, but I do enjoy a moment to mark the end of the work day with something special. An apertivo does not have to contain alcohol to be sophisticated and interesting. Below is my recipe for Junipurr™, a simple syrup flavored with herbs and spices that recall the flavor of gin, without the the alcohol. I named it after a fave childhood cat of mine, whose name was also inspired by the juniper tree. I’ve also included four recipes for alcohol-free beverages using the delicious syrup, to help you shift your vibe from “still doing” to “all done”, when you want to do so in a more moderate fashion.

Junipurr™
(Juniper Berry Apertivo Syrup)
I based this herb & spice-infused simple syrup on a recipe for bathtub gin. I left out the alcohol and turned the infusion into a simple syrup that can be used to flavor beverages and add a bit of sophistication and intrigue. Below the syrup instructions are four recipes for alcohol-free apertivo-style cocktails. You can find edible dried juniper berries online or in the spice aisle of any well-stocked grocery store.

Ingredients
16 oz/455ml of filtered or spring water
1 teaspoon dried juniper berries
4 cardamom pods (open to use only seeds inside & discard shells)
2 teabags of organic hibiscus tea
A pinch (1/8 tsp/5ml) of ground allspice
1 teaspoon fresh organic lime or grapefruit zest
1 small bay leaf
One 2-3″/6-7cm branch of fresh rosemary (use 1″/2.5cm, if dried)
2 cups natural cane sugar

 

Heat water in a kettle over high heat. While water boils, add juniper berries, cardamom seeds, hibiscus teabags, allspice, zest and bay leaf to a heat-proof glass container that will hold more than 2 cups of liquid. When just boiling, turn off heat and pour water over spices and tea bags. Stir, and let cool to room temperature. Add the rosemary, seal/cover tightly and set aside to rest in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (can put in fridge if weather is hot).

The next day the mixture will have a lovely deep rose color. If you would like a more intense, gin-like flavor, you can crush the juniper berries a bit with the back of a spoon before stirring. Stir well before straining.

Filter the liquid through a mesh strainer or a piece of clean gauze.

To make the syrup, add the filtered infusion to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the sugar and keep stirring until it dissolves completely. Reduce heat to simmer and stir until the mixture is reduced to half of its original volume (10-15 minutes or so). Remove from the heat and allow to cool, uncovered, to room temperature.

Pour cooled mixture into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Store in refrigerator. It should keep about six months.

You can stir 1-3 teaspoons of the syrup into sparkling water, drizzle over fresh fruit, ice cream or cheesecake or create cocktails, such as the alcohol-free apertivo-style beverages in the recipes below:

Junipurr™ n’ Juice
In a tall glass or goblet, stir 1 tablespoon of the syrup with 2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice. Stir, add ice cubes and top with chilled sparkling water. Garnish with a sliver of grapefruit peel.

Jun and Conscious
In a tall glass or goblet, add 1 tablespoon of Junipurr™ syrup, add ice, top with tonic water and stir to combine. Garnish with lime peel.

Singapore Sane
In a tall glass or goblet, stir 1-2 tablespoons of Junipurr™ syrup with 2 tablespoons tart cherry juice (unsweetened is best). Add ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with lemon peel.

Italian Sunset
In a tall glass or goblet, stir 1 tablespoon of the Junipurr™ syrup to combine with 2-4 tablespoons blood orange soda. Add ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a slice of lemon or orange peel.

 

2 Responses to “Keep it Simple”

  1. Frankie

    SOS It’s so true. I’m in need of it. I enjoyed my time at the beach, even if it was a few minutes of pretend. The breathing helped!

  2. Gina

    Yay! I think I got your message 😉 I’m remembering all the beaches we’ve hung out on: Del Mar, Muscle Beach and on Oahu…

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