Wednesday 2 December 2015

Love is all you need: Ruby Red Juice

I used to think that love is all you need. Love was enough, would fix anything, transform, nurture, save and secure. Love conquered, rescued, nursed, took care, listened, asked and held. Love could envelop, wrapping you in cotton wool while setting you free at the same time. What a magical world love lived in.

As a kid, I thought these things because it's what princes did in cartoons and Fred Astaire did for Ginger Rogers. I'd watch the longing and the bliss play out on screen as she carried out all the tap shift moves he did, only backwards. As a teenager, I read books about protagonists searching for something in themselves, in their lives, overcoming battles in their world and in their minds and understood that it was love for their beliefs, for another, for their country or for themselves that drove them beyond fear and into courage. I listened to music that stirred feelings in my soul of the joy and pain that love caused in and out of daily routines, how it led to Bon Iver hiding away in a forest for a year only to burst out of the woods reborn with a new voice, pain and joy hand in hand. I listened to JJ Cale and BB King and Nina Simone, Fleetwood Mac and The Frames. They all taught me the shifting waves and tides that were inherent in the concept of love.

I understood, even then, that love wasn't as simple as two red curves dipping to a sharp, singular and well directed point at its end. It wasn't soft, precise perfection. Love had folds, curves, hidden angles and unexpected lulls. And love hurt. I knew that it hurt the most when it was unrequited. I clearly remember studying a Shakespearean sonnet at school, aged fourteen and learning the word, though I already knew what it meant. Unreturned, unloved, uncared for. It's what all those blues songs I listened to were ever about. It's all I ever worried about.

My definition of love was always manifold but my definition always pertained to my perspective. You see, my definition was everything I was willing to give a person I loved. I give everything of myself to those I love because I don't know any other way. It comes naturally to me to be that loving and caring. I feel empty when I don't. The problem is when I give so much to others to the point where they start to think my reserves are everlasting, that the love I have to give to friends, family and a partner are limitless, the reserve magically ongoing. So it came as a surprise to many when I would simply shudder, stall and stop, like a tired old van. Stop interacting, feeling, giving, loving. I'd gather my resources quickly so I could continue to support, care, listen and help so that they would all feel incredibly loved again.

I repeated this pattern because I was proud to be all about the love. So why was the one thing that I did naturally, with enthusiasm, pride and great energy, slowly but surely bringing me down? I've floated the idea around in my murky mind a lot in the last few years and always swam up to the surface, out of breath and without any answers. Until last week.

Writing my post last week, admitting to myself and everyone I love the true details of my depression and anxiety gave me the answers I was looking for to the great blue debate going on in my head. For so long, everything was about fear. Fear of unrequited love, misunderstanding, lost friendships, isolation and loneliness. By clicking the publish button, I challenged my biggest fear of all; telling people I loved the true extent of my problem. This act transformed and elevated the level of love I have in my life. Friends, family, workmates and travel buddies got in touch from near and far, publicly and privately to tell me how much they loved me. I received one message, call and text after another and two words shone through each and every message: brave and love.

And then I realised. I understood what had been bringing me down. I had been ignoring two basic needs: to admit to my friends how much their voicing of their love to me was important and how much I had neglected to love and appreciate myself. I would listen to the black king on his throne residing in my mind; the voice of unreasonable and cruel reasoning who told me no matter how much love I sent out, it would be unrequited. No matter how much I created, it wouldn't be good enough. No matter how much I cared, it wouldn't make a difference and no matter how much I tried to truly believe that I was worthy, loved, appreciated, cared for and unique, I was not good enough.

There is no way that I would ever speak to another person I love the way I allow that voice to speak to me. I would defend a loved one with my life if another spoke to them in that way, with those words and those sentiments. So why would I not encourage such praise and love and respect to be directed at me? Why would I not put the same thought, energy and care into myself and the unique person I am? Why wouldn't I just be myself?

The beautiful words of love I received from all over kick-started something unexpected. I'd like to get to know myself again, to learn what animates me, makes me smile, sing and create. I'd like to become friends with myself. Love is not just about prince charming or your passions. Each love quote is not about the other man or woman in your life. It starts with you. I don't think it's about finding a man I can lose myself in when I look into his eyes for a sense of recognition, understanding and acceptance. It's about looking at myself in the mirror and recognizing and embracing the person looking back at me. The black and the white. The dark and the light.

Today's recipe is about embracing that love. Beetroot looks like a forbidding, hard and unwelcoming vegetable but when eaten fresh, it has the most beautiful and earthly sweet and fragrant taste. The juice always looks so vibrant and energizing. It's like the perfect mix of masculine sturdiness and feminine vibrancy. Before the frost arrived, I dug up the last of my beetroot from the garden. Dark, rustic, ruby red, covered in wholesome clay, all the growth and energy that they had absorbed from the damp clay and the sunshine of the summer was captured in each round. I made this juice to capture the last of the autumn and to remember that energy comes from the sun and the air but also from below the surface, in the darkness and when mixed, the combination is vibrant and electric. Something to remember.

Serves 2
1 fresh beetroot
2 apples
1 large chunk fresh ginger
1 pear
1 lemon

Wash all the fruit, peel the beetroot and chop them into manageable sizes for your juicer. Juice, add ice, serve and relax.

To everyone that sent their love my way, thank you x