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The building blocks for wellness and happiness are the same for each of us however we all need a different mix and variation. This is a topic near and dear to me. The main ingredients I use for well-being are Rest - Food - Stillness – Giggle/Joy/Connection - Movement. Last week, I had a wonderful experience of Joy and Connection and it involved baking and delivering scones.

Finding connection has been harder to come with our current pandemic state and my baking and delivery adventure was just what I needed. Cranberry and orange scones are a favourite in my house. I was also having a social distanced hike with a friend I had not seen in a while, and I wanted to give her a little treat! During our Friday virtual Hatha practice I was telling the early attendees about my scones and how my house was smelling soooo good! A few students commented that I knew their address. Hmmmm, yes, I do, I thought to myself. I had some errands to run and so I packed up some scones and made my deliveries.

I was thrilled to see the smiles and the surprised faces. It was a cold day, but I was warm with happiness. Giving a joyful surprise makes me joyful. I also was able to see live smiling faces. They were not on a screen. They were there in living colour. Even though it was a small thing, the effects were broad. The important piece to applying the above ingredients I have listed above is to be fully present with all your feelings. What do you do to bring in Joy/Giggles/Connection to your day?

Scone recipes all the have same base and then the extras. What I like about this recipe is the cardamom and the fresh orange juice and zest. If you like richer scones, you can leave out the orange juice and increase the cream/milk. I would recommend using an orange extract if you leave out the fresh orange juice. The more orangy the better in our house. I have not tried this with gluten free ingredients but I will let you know how it goes when I do.

Cranberry Orange Scones


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp baking powder

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1 1/8 tbsp orange zest

  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) in small cubes or through grater

  • 1 large egg

  • ½ cup milk (cream or milk or buttermilk)

  • ¼ cup of fresh orange juice

  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen) *I use a rough measurement.

  • Preheat oven 425°(F).

  • Combine the following ingredients fully. Flour, salt, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, orange zest, cinnamon, and cardamom.

  • Add butter in small cubes (I use a medium sized grater) and work butter into the dry mixed with a pastry cutter or two forks. The dough should be course and the butter the size of a pea at the biggest.

  • Combine and whisk together the egg, fresh orange juice, milk/cream/buttermilk, and vanilla.

  • Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Add in the cranberries. Mix everything together with a large wooden spoon or a spatula until just moistened.

  • The dough will not be smooth looking when you place on a flat floured surface.

  • Knead the dough lightly a couple of times to make an 8-inch-wide circle.

  • Cut the disc into even wedges and place on baking sheet with a couple of inches space around the pastry.

  • Bake on the middle rack until the scones are golden. About 18 minutes.

  • Add glaze if you wish once they have cooled for a few minutes. A simple glaze is 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, ½ pure vanilla extract, 2 tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest, pinch of salt. Mix and drizzle.

  • Best served warm with a favourite tea, human, or fur kid!

Each year I take time to turn inward and cultivate a focus for the upcoming year. This endeavour I undertake is not the typical New Year’s resolution or even the sankulpa we use within our Yoga Nidra practice. My focus does have life affirming direction like a resolution, but it is much broader. In other words, it is an intention or a focus that creates both and immediate and long-term opportunities and overall personal growth and happiness. I don’t have to wait and strive to a goal to enjoy the rewards.

This year my focus is to simplify. I will take time to notice the dialog in my head, and to see the simple beauty and uniqueness in all. I will look to inject this focus into much of my day. I will take the time to explore the present senses and experience of mind. I will take time to notice the colours of my food, the expansive sky, the smell of the woods. I will endeavour to not over plan too many activities and I will take time to enjoy a friends’ smile. I will take in the pureness of grief or sorrow in the moment. I will clean my closet and give away what I don’t require. I will look to uncomplicate the disagreements with others that I perceive as a big deal. I will watch my mind move and change as I bring in softness and beauty and simplicity even to things that are hard. At times, will my mind be busy or be dull and dark? Most certainly! With practice and employing my focus throughout each day over the year, it will begin to move to the pureness found of the simplicity of the moment. The pattern in the mind will become trained, little by little.

In a past year, I selected kindness. The year of kindness was a wonderful year. To think and act kindlier was rewarding and the more I practiced the easier it became. When I was kind, others were kind too. Practice does develop competency, and I look forward to the year ahead.

I have a natural curiosity and I do see the beauty in the small moments around me; however, I need a reminder to practice being in the moment and not racing forward. Throughout this pandemic I have often found myself saying “when I can do this or that….”. I do enjoy my days, and many new opportunities have arisen during this difficult time but my world, like most everyone else, has shrunk over the last 2 years. I see fewer people, I participate in less activities, and I miss those experiences. I have noticed that when I focus on the present and the simple, my world feels rich and whole. This is where I will find growth, self-understanding, and happiness in this coming year.

If you want to join me in taking on a focus for the year, you think of something that you can do that makes you feel more together or connected, or more present, more supported as you do it. Think of it like seasoning in your life and it makes your day brighter and more vibrant. Strengthen its power by incorporating into all parts of your life. Perhaps at the end of the year we can gather and talk of our experiences!

It’s time to be more like a squirrel! In other words, endeavour to make a cozy nest. Fall is the time when nature is in transition, and so are we. Mother nature is moving toward rest and rejuvenation in support of the next growing season. This rhythmic cycle of life is magical, and despite all our technological advancements, we are nature too. Often, we fight the rhythm that nature so

beautifully has designed. We have instituted daylights savings time so we can work more and we stay up late on technology. We fail to notice that our bodies and minds need to slow and have more support. We fight through to do more and be more. Now is the time to settle into a slower rhythm, to give thanks, and to fortify.

Each October and November, I was tired and achy. I was often overwhelmed, deflated, and frustrated, and not to mention exhausted. After many years of making appointments with my specialist to address my pain and fatigue complaints each fall, I instinctively knew that my wellbeing was something in my control. I never booked in the fall again. Interestingly, this understanding came long before I knew anything about circadian rhythm and Ayurveda. All I know is that I had to make a change if I wanted to feel different.

In the past, I was in opposition to the natural rhythm because I kept the same whimsical patterns of activity, food, and sleep from the summer. I was eating salads, running around, not sleeping enough, not wearing warm enough clothes, and always saying yes. When I stopped to listen, I knew I needed to slow down. I needed warm fortifying food, cuddly soft clothes and warm light, warm oil on my body and feet, a slower pace, some time to nest and to cuddle, some laughs and, warm and soft light, to be outside in sunlight, to increase my relaxation practice and to say no more often. I still can feel the pull of fatigue and aches. The difference is that I remember to listen and to make a nest along with my squirrel friends.

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