Ever wondered how to create food not just for your body, but for your soul? I’ve been working on my own recipe for many years now, but have only recently managed to find the right mélange of ingredients. My soul has been contented and joyful for some time now, as you may have noticed in recent blog entries. It appeared that I had found my perfect mix of ingredients for Zimbabwean Soul Food. But with an upcoming trip to London, I wondered what concoction I would have to create to allow this inner peace to be brought to a not-so-peaceful place.
That weekend, I also saw Brazilian guitarist/pianist legend, Egberto Gismonte, Brazilian percussionist, Adriano Adewale (who has most famously played with Bobby McFerrin), and the Jazz Allstars, featuring my beloved jazz vocalist, Natalie Williams. The Jazz Allstars brought out the inner child in me, as the concert was designed for the entire family. Starting the show with a medley from “The Jungle Book,” finishing with a sing-along about chocolate, and oozing wholesome fun that made me smile from ear to ear, I was reminded that being innocent, childlike and playful is oh-so-good for the soul. Life can feel so serious sometimes – career, responsibility, current events… The wise person remembers that we are but miniscule specs in time and space, allowing one to put things into perspective and see that life can be light and free, the way a child sees things. Pablo Picasso once said, “It takes a long time to grow young”; the Jazz Allstars helped me grow just a little bit younger that day.
But the biggest dose of this musical ingredient was found in my parents’ Christmas gift to me: a second-row ticket to see “Les Miserables”! I had seen the musical 12 years ago, but wanted to see it again since it’s my favorite musical of all time (I still parade around the house in my pajamas belting out every single lyric of every single song). The night was an unforgettable dose of up-close action, heart-wrenching drama, and beloved musical score – exactly what my Soul Food Recipe called for!
Yet zumba, alone, wouldn’t quite be enough for my second ingredient. I knew I needed more exercise than just a few dance classes – and I also knew that I needed a form of exercise which helps to reconnect the body and mind. I’ve been practicing yoga on the farm this entire year, but my practice had recently been lacking spirit and enthusiasm. It was time for a tune-up with some real teachers. I managed to find a “20 pounds for 2 weeks” yoga pass at Triyoga London, a group of 3 studios in different parts of the city. In those two weeks, I took 17 yoga classes! Yoga of all sorts – anusara, ashtanga, iyengar, scaravelli, vinyasa flow… you name it, I took it! What an amazing experience to get to take such a variety of yoga classes in gorgeous, incense-filled studios. It uplifted my waning practice, strengthened my body, and fed my soul with such flowing richness that I don’t think I will ever be the same person again. Indeed, I am forever changed by that intensive yoga “retreat” – I feel so well in my own skin and have such an intense desire to be good, pure, honest, and free that I think I am transforming into a new version of myself.
After the amount of talking, listening, and laughing I did with Annie, who knew that I’d be able to do it again the following weekend with Richard, my Nepal trekking buddy (see blog entries “Finding Mude” (Oct. 2007) and “A Week of Food” (Dec. 2011)). Richard graciously traveled down to London to spend the day with me – and what an intense day it was. There are very few people in the world with whom I converse at such a deep and spiritual level. Richard – thank goodness we see one another only in small doses or I think I’d have trouble existing in the “real” world!
And no trip to London would be complete without a meetup with Louis, and this time – to my pleasant surprise – Dani, another Thailand connection. Richard joined the three Thailand musketeers for an evening on the town, laughing and reminiscing about the days of yore. Boy, do those days feel long ago, and boy, have I ever changed! Nonetheless, there is nothing like reconnecting with friends from your past, people who know you, with whom you don’t have to start fresh, but can pick up wherever you left things, laughing at old memories and jokes and discussing things deep down inside.