Feeling Just Peachy

My take on Peaches n’ Cream for Breakfast – Grilled with Granola and Fresh Mint Leaves

Often in life we find ourselves in situations which we did not foresee nor prefer. We fight against it. We object to it. At some point, we may even loathe it. Nevertheless, I’m a firm believer that every cloud has a silver lining, and in the last 28 days, I’ve found several.

Recently choosing to become Vegan for personal and health reasons, I felt at a loss of where to begin with making my newly reformed meals. I savor cuisine far too much to sacrifice taste for health. So I began to go on an epic journey of creating (or recreating) things that I love through exploration, experimenting and discovery. It has been among the greatest quests of my life.

Documenting my journey on my social media through FaceBook (@Carla Turner Brown) and Instagram (@carlamichellebrown), I find myself sharing photos several times daily. I lie in bed dreaming of what to make next, immerse myself in photographs and food documentaries, dialogue with fellow vegans and non-vegans (whom I hope to intrigue with my novice dishes) and can’t wait to find the newest vegan recipes that I can put a spin on.

It was during this recent epiphany that I began to treasure my coerced quarantining. I was reminded of something that I’ve known unconsciously since my childhood – I love…good food. Not merely because of its tastes. Not just because it’s a necessity of life. I love food because it is a complex and comprehensive medium through which souls, bodies and spirits are interconnected.

Cuisine sings of culture and resonates with richness, irrespective of where persons live or their socioeconomic status. It is interwoven with terrain and science, history and politics, math and mayhem, literature, loyalty, family, focus, poverty, pain, mystery and magic – and so much more!

For mefood is love that transfers from heart to plate to palate to heart.

I’ve garnered more feedback and phenomenal experiences in my fledgling attempts at transforming my meals than I could have ever imagined, as I considered my efforts to be small in nature. I dream in cuisine, thinking about dishes that summon memories of matriarchs, heritage, legends and legacies. It pleasurably consumes me – and connects me to people in a way that social distancing could never contend.

Had I not been in isolation, I would never have had the foggiest idea to consider my new adventure. I’m thankful for such contemplation now. I’ve long been a “foodie,” but this thoughtful and immensive time to reflect has placed me on a path that fills my soul much more than an empty cavern in my stomach.

As one of my high school teachers, Shirley Rose, told us every day when asked how she was doing, I’m now feeling, “Just peachy,” about my latest passion. Cuisine that makes me dream – in new colors. Bon appetit.

Here are 11 more dishes I’ve added to my new repertoire rounding out my Top 12 favorites so far.

‘Vocado & Cherries on Multigrain Toast with Pink Himalayan Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
Bananas and Berry Bliss Breakfast Bowl with Olive & Oat Granola
Just in Time for My Mother’s Day Brunch – Just Egg, with Sautéed Spinach and Mushrooms and Grilled Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce, Roasted Red and Gold Breakfast Potatoes, French Toast with Strawberries, Blueberries and Whipped Cream Dusted with Cinnamon
Wonderful Watermelon Salad with Vegan Feta Cheese & Fig Spread Roasted Pistachios
Regal Ramen with Bean Sprouts, Scallions, Radishes, Mushrooms & Carrots with Siracha Sauce
Seared Sticky Tofu Tso Temptation with Jasmine Rice, Scallions & Cilantro
Cauliflower Po’ Boy with Spinach, Roma Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Sweet Chili Mayo & Siracha
Vegetables Italiano – Stuffed Egg Plant, Grilled Asparagus and Cucumber & Tomato with Capers
Tantalizing Street Tacos, Topped with Roasted Salsa, Avocado, Jalapeños, Cilantro & Sour Cream
Chocolate Chunk & Cranberry Pancakes with Toasted Almonds & Whipped Cream
Korean Mexican Fusion Fries with Soyrizo, BBQ Sauce, Queso, Sour Cream, Tomatoes & Chives

#enjoy #peachesandcream #avocados #cherries #breakfastbowl #beganbrunch #frenchtoast #watermelonsalad #ramen #tofu #generaltsos #frenchfries #loadedfries #veganitalianio #italiancooking #pancakes #chocolateandcranberries #chocolatechunkpancakes #cauliflowerpoboy #friedcauliflower #mexicanstreetcorn #elote #vegangirl #carlamichelle #vegancooking #veganeating #mynewfoundlove #supremecuisine

Follow Me on FaceBook at @Carla Turner Brown, @Carla M. Brown – Speaker & Author and on Instagram @carlamichellebrown

The Wonder of Words from Your Heart

A reminder to me of the power of pronouncing what matters most – what’s in our hearts

I still choose not to reiterate the name of the nemesis who has caused us so much panoramic pain of late. (Sigh)…because it grieves me. Nevertheless, pain is a familiar foe of mine. I’ve learned about it. Thought about it, and experienced it so much in my life that I penned my first book about it. However, pain and I have had such an intimate relationship that I was compelled get to know it better. I wanted to understand it better.

I begin to dig in to our relationship. I questioned the whys, the wheres, the hows, the whos and the whens, and I made a most interesting discovery. I realized that though pain was an uninvited guest, it also motivated me in the strangest of ways. The more I encountered a wide range of hurts, the more desperately I looked for solutions. The more I felt stung, singed, seared, and broken, the more thankful I was for the sunshine, the empathy, the daybreak, the breakthroughs.

Amidst the worst of the worst that have flooded the airwaves and soundwaves, I am so grateful for the positives that have been a byproduct of our globally unprecedented pain. I am proud as I see educators pushing past the realm of the unknown, seeking to provide as much normalcy for children and their parents as they can, even while contending with their own complexities. I am amazed by the healthcare workers who press daily to work, risking their own lives (and at times, those they love) in their efforts to save those whose health is at the brink.

I commend those who work incessantly to bind the ties that bind us with one of the greatest gifts of all – words. They cultivate the compassion of the heart in writing, in action, in deed – to offer comfort to so many who are crippled by confusion and catastrophe. They are present in blogs, on social media platforms, in coalitions, often meeting on-line, and even among some faithful politicians. It reminded me of this book that I introduced in my classroom many years ago: “Words and Your Heart.”

I remember being asked would I continue to participate in the “Slice of Life Challenge” that afforded us the opportunity to connect with writers across continents who share snippets of the most meaningful moments of their journeys. Never have I been more interested and compelled than in a time such as this, when our words have the ability to wrap hearts in a love that lends itself to the links of humanity.

Through our writing, we caress caregivers and soothe seniors. We sing the praises of our most valiant citizens and ensure our educators that sometimes, falling short is o.k. We pat parents on the back for doing the best they can in dire situations, and we are learning to leverage laughter in ways that three months ago, we never imagined.

Every post…is from the heart. These words inspire, encourage, imagine, warm, invoke, appeal and heal in ways that are most magical. It is the craft of cultivating caring that resonates from one soul to the next. While I am saddened by many things that have changed painfully during this pandemic, I am thankful that there is a greater abundance of words from the heart that are painting new pictures of humanity at its best.

#carlamichelle #wordsfromtheheart #healinghumanity #kindness #forgiveness #bonding #love #priceless

Forlorn & For Love

Because sometimes the storm within is stronger than the storm without. (Artist Unknown)
Has your heart ever
ached for change?
You saw something sad,
were deeply pained
and wanted the world
to know your angst,
but it seemed

Had someone in your life
who needed help
and despite your pleas
couldn't help themselves
and you watched them
suffer days on end
and somehow felt intrusive?

I sometimes feel crushed
by life's harsh blows
more for others
than myself and those
who seem
bereft of an advocate.
Their agony's obtrusive.

I turn over and over
in my mind's eye
what could I do
with my limited time
to make their lives
seem more worth while
and make them feel

So I learned to love
with my heart and my soul
with my eyes and my words
and each story that's told.
My lyrical paint helps me embrace
their obstacles,
So I can help move them.

I resolve to be kind,
compassionate, tender,
a thoughtful listener,
when I can, a heart mender
May they one day thrive
and not be hindered.
With love as their only conclusion.

Many years ago, I wrote this poem for someone in my family whom I loved deeply. I watched them contend with internal struggles that I believe led to the ending of a precious life. As I recall those moments, I realized that seeing their pain then is in many ways like seeing the anguish of those who are suffering today in unprecedented manners. When tempted to complain about how uncomfortable, unfair and unjust we feel our personal situations currently seem – I hope that we can be ever mindful of those in the world around us whose extenuating circumstances far exceed our own – emotionally, physically, financially and otherwise.

My grandmother told me on my darkest days, “I don’t care how bad you feel your life is, when you’re looking at what you’re going through, there’s still somebody worse off than you.” May we be kind and compassionate to our fellow human beings, recognizing that we often have no idea how great is the suffering of others. Always show love.

#remembertoguardyourheart #mentalillnesshurtsontheinsideandout #myfaithisinHim #continuekindness #prayalways #treasurewhoyouhave #nevergiveup

My Melody

I dream of many wonderful things. The lyrics of my life – are my melody.
My Melody

I've always loved music,
but I didn't always sing.
I thought my voice 
wasn't as good as theirs
and didn't want the stares
that said I was subpar.
So I listened from afar.

There were many days
when that was okay.
I listened, and often
enjoyed the tones
of the unknown.
But still,
something was missing.

There were too may days
when the songs they sang
didn't fit what I was searching for.
Whether music
or minutes,
I just needed...more.

So I decided to write 
my own.
My melody
means more to me
than the songs I hear
that someone else sings.
It belongs to me.

I learned to love
the sound of my voice.
Not in arrogance,
but in clarity.
The lyrics 
are the clearest
when they come from my heart.

I can sing to my pain
and soothe my sorrow
fuel my passion
inspire tomorrows
that can change my life
and the lives of others.
My melody - is me.

#lovingthelifeHesgivenme #beautifulsongs #Hispurposeforme #doinggreatthings #catchingmydreams #love #peace #happiness #grateful #blessed #priceless

Think on These Things

Preparing for a most masterful symphony among the leaves
I looked at leaves.
I listened to myself breathe.
I listened to things that were singing
around me.
They confound me.
There was much conversation
in the congregation
of branches.
Some waved.
Some wowed.
Some caved.
Some bowed.
I was all ears.
It was such a 
symphony of sorts.  
Magpies mused
between their melodies.
Falcons rode the winds
in the heavenlies,
and breezes whistled my
favorite tunes.
Ironically, these concerts
have been playing
for years.
But today,
I had a ticket.
I insisted
not to miss it.
Because it's time
I stop and listen.
It's my new mission
to thing on these things.

~Carla Michelle 

#nationalpoetrymonth #thinkonthesethings #sentimentalsymphonies #coloradomagpies #treelove #carlamichelle

Lost in Love…

If I didn’t know better, I’d assume someone had invited my emotions to experience the most elaborate roller coaster known to man. In less than seven days, I’ve ascended to milestones on mountain tops, marveled at great opportunities, celebrated the simplest of joys and embarked upon new adventures.

I’ve also embraced my two youngest sons through sleepless nights as they battled fiery fevers this week, just days apart. I’ve grieved loved ones from over two decades ago and endured my own traumatic memories. They were triggered by an influx of media images after the loss of an athletic legend, his daughter and the precious lives of many others. Unsurprisingly, the array of events thrust me into perhaps one of my most comfortable places – reflection.

I thought deeply about the people and things that I treasure with veracity, and I mused over the trials in between. I considered the compassionate, the compelling, the confusing – and I asked myself, “Where exactly do I want to be?” After pondering and pouting about the sure and the uncertain, I concluded this. It is my hope to be lost – in love.

I desire to be so immersed in the liquidity of love that I can share it, express it and offer it to the ones who love me most. I want to love the things to which I commit myself, whether meaningful to me or miscellaneous to others. If it matters, I want to do it passionately and powerfully, so as to benefit someone other than myself.

I want to be lost so deeply in love that I can forgive those who genuinely care for me when they unintentionally hurt me – children, friends, family. I want to love well enough to help others, even amidst my pain, especially when they need me most.

I want to take the time to love those wonderful things with which I’ve been blessed that cannot be purchased nor tainted. I want to love the beams of sunshine that spill out of the sky, longing to be soaked up by softened smiles. I want to love the flowers whose fragrance is rivaled only by their fragility. They are masterpieces of art that though meticulous must be enjoyed – in the moment, for they will fade away.

Love is – enduring, at its truest; but, it is often enriched when we take the time to meld in meaningful moments. We capture them in context: with photographs, art, dishes, notes, cards, letters, music, media, mementos. How could we not? When life is so – short…

I learned this week, that the hummingbird weighs less than a nickel, though it is among the most aggressive birds when defending what it treasures. It takes nearly 150 of them just to amass a single pound. Nevertheless, they can muster speed ranging from 30-60 miles per hour. They consume nearly half their weight in sugar, efficiently converted to energy – and of the many hundreds of thousands of bird species that exist, they alone are able to fly backwards.

I intend to cherish the people and things I love and advocate for them aggressively. Though I’m small in recognition when compared to many giants in this world, like the hummingbird, my heart beats with a passion many times greater than some can imagine. With the strength of my faith, I can do what others may deem to be too difficult – because I believe in the impossible.

If I haven’t learned anything else in this year of clarified vision, I’ve learned this: I desire to be lost in the bounty of love that heals the heart, stirs the conscience, awakens the soul and seizes the moment. Life is too precious to do anything else.

#dreamcatcher #lovetheoneswholoveyoumost #loveHimfirst #learntoloveyourself #showlovetoothers #lovelikeitsyourlastdayhere #loveconquersall #carlamichelle #speaker #author #coach #lovetheonesyoulost #lovethembeforetheyregone #rihbabybrownmylove #boysmom

Her Gift to Me

A treasured cup and saucer from Carmen that hold so much more than tea.

She was always so beautiful. Not because of her pretty face, ebony tresses or her blinding smile. She was – kind. In middle school, of all places. In that awkward time when kids can lose their sense of empathy and scar another human for their frivolous entertainment, she chose kindness. She made me grin on the inside.

I hadn’t seen her in over 20 years, but I was looking forward to our next rendezvous. My last visit home had been just a few months ago, and it was so bittersweet. A speaking engagement and book signing event had taken me there, but I spent the end of one of my longest days shedding tears with her on a painful pew because she had lost her grandmother. Seven years before, so had I. They both shared the same favorite color – fuchsia.

This time, our get together was going to be all fun! And we did indeed enjoy ourselves with food and friendships that felt like family. What stuck out to me the most though, was her gift. Firstly, I wasn’t expecting one. I was happy to have lunch and talk about old times, forging our friendship in a way we never did in middle school, but she arrived with an enormous bag in hand that screamed, “I know you without saying a word.”

An opulent, indigo blanket that felt more like a fur coat than a comforter sent my shrills in the air as I quickly imagined curling up in cold Colorado, buried in its warmth. With it was a beautiful journal, that beckoned for the inklings of my wildest imaginations. And then, there was china. Delicate, fragile, aged. Its iridescent luster intrigued me, and I figured it must have come from an antique shop; but, it didn’t. It came from her heart. From her home. From her family.

I hope you like the gifts,” she began. “I know you’re always cold, and I figured this would be great for your new home with all the snow this winter. And I know you love to write, so you can put all of your stories in there. I kinda imagined you curling up in the blanket and drinking hot tea. This teacup – was my grandmother’s.”

My face went from tickled to touched. I was so delighted when I thought these few treats were a simple expression of well wishes, but in her moment of few words, I realized they were so much more.

Growing up having very few luxuries in life, I developed a distaste for extravagant gifts. I savored a paper moon from a beloved friend over a precious stone from a sworn enemy because I was taught that gifts should be thoughtful and meaningful above all else. Genuine. Authentic, with no expectations in return.

She thought of me. She considered how I felt and what I loathed (to be cold)! What I loved (to write) and who meant the most (my babies’ Nanna). Understanding how much we adored our own grandmothers, she chose to share a piece of her life, a piece of her heart – a most precious treasure.

Her gesture could not be bought nor sold. Her gift to me was priceless.

I still meet people who are wowed by dollar signs. I realize it’s nice to have “finer” things, and I’ve since had my share; but, I am underwhelmed by people who purchase pricey things only to remind the recipient of how much they cost or how fancy they are or how (supposedly) the great expenditure is indicative of their great love.

Uh, maybe not.

I treasure the gifts that wouldn’t mean the same to anyone else. The ones that denote commitment of thought and consideration as they wondered what would make me smile. I didn’t wait for winter to bundle up with my blanket, and I’ve never been so careful with a cup of tea. With each new memory, I’m reminded of the ones we loved – and how fortunate I am for the gift of her friendship, laden with perceptive kindness. To me, that was the greatest gift of all.

#thankyoucarmen #grandmothers #thoughtful #heartwarming #kindness #sisters #friends