Matariki – happy new year!

In the Māori language, Matariki is the name of the Pleiades Star Cluster, and, the season of it’s rising which happens in NZ’s mid-winter. For many Māori, it heralds the beginning of a new year. Traditionally, Matariki is the time to ‘prepare the ground’ for the coming season, but the emphasis actually is on our inner ground – it’s a time to seed our own intentions, re-connect with old skills, and set new goals.

The three lovely parts of this can be to; first practise being present. Secondly, reflect on your purpose, what’s important to your being, and re-orient yourself as necessary. And lastly, give thanks and feel gratitude for the privileges and blessings in our lives.

When times are tough it doesn’t come easily to have these kind of positive reflections, but today I just did a simple mindfulness of breathing practise, and ended with some gratitude, and it really re-charged me. The line from the William Stafford poem ‘Cutting Loose’ came to me – “Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason, you sing”.

I have spent the last 2 weeks cooking for back to back retreats at Wangapeka. It’s a beautiful place any time of year but MY GOD it was cold at night! When I look back now at the quickly snapped photos I took of some of the meals, I’m kind of stunned how colourful everything was. Even in the ‘bleak mid-winter’, there were bursts of rainbow colours in every meal, and heaps of gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Always something to smile about seems to be the message.

I didn’t get a picture of our Ginger-Roasted-Pumpkin à la Emma Galloway, but here is the link to her site with the recipe and some gorgeous pictures. She serves it muddled with quinoa and herbs, but on this retreat I served it with couscous and all the beautiful rainbow chard shown above. Perfect winter lunch.

I sign off with William Stafford’s poem, and all my best wishes for the new year. May all beings be happy.

Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose
from all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.

Arbitrary, a sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell where it is, and you
can slide your way past trouble.

Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path—but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
here on the earth, again and again.



Why Not Try Something Different?

Here is a real gem of an interview. Michelin starred chef Eric Ripert, of New York City’s Le Bernardin which is one of the world’s most prestigious fine dining restaurants, talks here to Guardian Food Writer Joshua David Stein. Talk turns to Ripert’s management style. Ripert was trained in France ‘the traditional’ way, which meant he was humiliated and terrorised by the chefs, who believed you had to break the young recruits before you could rebuild them into champion chefs. Ripert reflects that he too treated his staff this way for years – with shouting, anger, and overbearing control. His moment of realisation came 20 years ago, whilst running the magnificent 400-year old Tour D’Argent in Paris – he was miserable, his staff were miserable and he knew there must be another way. Around this time, he began to study the Buddha’s teachings and took up a daily meditation practise.3744

Now, Ripert says, he doesn’t really get angry, although he does still get frustrated when dealing with young chefs in his brigade who are still honing their skills. Stein wanted to witness how a Buddhist would act in the high pressure environment of a New York professional kitchen at the top of it’s game, so Ripert invited him to come into the kitchen and observe the evening’s service. At one point, Ripert had cause to send back to the station a piece of fish that was not cooked. Stein reports that there was no shouting and no humiliation. Ripert’s gentle but firm intervention guided the young cook. No more, no less. “Kindness” says Ripert later, “does not mean I am going to hug you, it means I am going to guide you”.

Continue reading “Why Not Try Something Different?”