September 6, 2013

In the Fall of the Leaf

I recently was in a situation which required me to introduce myself so it would determine if I am suitable enough to become a member of a team. There you go again - I was anxious, a bit scattered since I have always felt quite uncomfortable to speak about my self much less about my achievements. Strangely, the older I get, the more confused I become... Who am I ? What do I want people to know about me? How to say it, so that they will get the proper picture of me? Does the first impression stay forever?... All the wrong questions... For so long, I have been consciously trying to disentangle my sense of I from things, labels, opinions, expectations, social roles, race, profession, past times... 
Since the team will function in one of the most creative and artistic environments in the city, everyone, bursting with enthusiasm to share, began his or her introduction (re-telling his or her resumé) with something related to Arts: "I am an artist, a photographer, a student of Visual Arts, a writer, a CEO of ..., a manager of..." Believe me, one can easily get lost oneself in the identifications and the stories of others. Then, one young woman beside me quietly began "I am not an artist, nor a teacher...I love my garden... and I am currently enjoying my tomatoes..." 
I took a deep filling breath...

Do I really know who I am?
I don't know who I am anymore.
I might have a master's degree in..., and additional qualifications, and a tangible experience as..., but these are not me, these are my resumé... I don't know who I am...and I don't need to know, I don't need "a conceptual definition of my sense of self"!
I believe we are all a work in progress and every moment we are writing our next acts. I am not the self-confident, to some degree even arrogant and ambitious young girl who just graduated from the University anymore - I was a teacher then, I am a teacher now, but I am not the same. I am slowly evolving... into a better version of myself, into a person I am meant to be (not a reflection of myself in the big brother's eyes). There are times when I loose myself, I lack self-esteem, I beat myself up for not being better, fearless and enough, for not achieving significant accomplishments in life, for losing along the way the stronger, the freer, the eager women I once was... But then, I always find the more self-aware, the more simple, humble, grateful and ego-less me. Despite the common belief and constant reminder of nowadays that "that is not how you get in life, you are in the jungle", this is how I want to get one with life
Am I real?
Am I present?
Am I authentic, natural, spontaneous and not concerned with how others define me?
How do I treat people? I am neither superior nor inferior to anyone. 
How well do I love, accept, let go?
Am I in peace in trusting my own path?
I am just what I am today, what I am at this very moment
I am unfinished work
I am a forever learner
As the days change, so do my moments
As the seasons change, so do I.

In "the fall of the leaf", I smell the impermanence, I savour the changes... I am not an artist, nor a teacher... I am interested in life... I love to bake (ha! this is new to me)... and I am currently enjoying life's generous abundance and the bounty of harvest.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Rustic Tart
( adapted from "The Vegetable Cookbook: From the Earth to the Table")


pie dough
1 1/3 cups all- purpose flour
5 1/2 tbsp butter, soft
1 1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
pinch of salt
 3 tbsp water

1 1/2 cups cauliflower flowers
1 cup broccoli flowers
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable stok
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup grater cheese
salt and pepper
paprika to garnish


Preheat the oven to 375F. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add paprika, thyme and rub in the butter. Stir in the water and form a dough. Let chill in the refrigerator for about 30 min.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface and use to line a loose-bottom tart pan. Prick the bottom with a fork and baked for about 20 minutes or a little before it is completely ready.
For the filling, bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, add the cauliflower, broccoli, onion and cook for 10-12 minutes until tender. Drain and reserve.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring carefully, for 1-2 min. Remove from the heat, stir in the vegetable stock and milk, and return to the heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, and add 1/2 cup of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the cauliflower, broccoli and onion into the pastry shell. Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Return the tart to the oven and bake for additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is golden, Garnish with paprika.  


Are you ready for Fall?

Sharing at Seasonal SundaysOur Sunday BestBe Inspired-Here Comes Fall


  1. I went on an Artists Retreat years ago.
    I felt like a fraud.
    I was there to get away, to listen to the speaker as one whose writings reflected my heart, who said the words I wished I had penned.
    I went alone.
    I could be anyone.
    I was so happy.
    Within moments of everyone's arrivals I was asked what my medium was. This person's medium was painting, another's sculpture, that one wrote, she did calligraphy, he was a photographer.
    I was tongue tied.
    I quietly said I signed up for the writing sessions and was looking forward to the speaker and to her music.
    I was only
    a kindergarten teacher,
    a wife,
    one who enjoyed calligraphy myself,
    one who just made things pretty.
    An artist?
    Though it was only something I started to discover during that weekend. Yes, I wrote. Yes, I painted. Yes, I sculpted. Yes, I praised Him.
    It has taken me years, but I have discovered my medium. It is simply, my life.
    It is in the little things I do to make this life beautiful. It is engaging all the senses to fill our lives and our home with love, reflecting His love and the glory of His creation.
    And it is enough.

  2. Sweet Sylvia, I have missed you so much. I keep looking on my blog roll to see if you've posted, and nothing....until TODAY! I am home from school now, and I'm enjoying catching up with everyone.

    This is a superb post. You are asking the questions that we start to contemplate at some point in our lives just before we plunge into something new. I also think you are touching on something that is extremely important to understand, and that is that the things that we have EARNED such as our degrees, our experience and our titles in life do NOT define us. What defines us IS all those characteristics of being a human. What kind of human are we? Kind? Rude? Inconsiderate? What we do from the heart is who we eventually are.

    So good to see you!! Anita your photos!

  3. I always love your photo art Sylvia. It's exquisite. The textures, colours and elements are wonderful. Your words are very thought provoking. Thank you for sharing "you". Blessings, Pamela

  4. Wow, this recipe looks amazing! And I think it's important to always be evolving---I think I would be more worried about myself if I WERE always sure of exactly who I am all the time.

    So glad you posted :) It's been awhile! Hope you've been enjoying yourself!

  5. beautiful post Sylvia. These are questions that can haunt and hinder us, or direct and challenge us. I learned a long time ago, that I'm not defined by what I "do". who I am is what's in my heart, head, spirit, and soul, and will last into eternity. For many years God has helped me come to this understanding. sometimes it's easy to lose track of "who" I am, especially if I'm not physically well or at my best. I've always told my girls, you won't really "know" who you are until you are in your 40's. life experience, trials, and maturity can help us gain insight. I just wish more young women could see themselves through God's eyes and not just their own. thanks for sharing your heart, I always love looking at life through your lens. Deb

  6. Love your post. Who we are is not easily defined, at least not by titles or credentials. Who we are is both how others perceive us and how we see ourselves, and if you are realizing how important it is to enjoy life and what you are doing, it sounds to me like you are on the right track to knowing who you are. Keep on going!

  7. Seems to me that this is a delicious recept. I'm gonna try it out.

    Nice weekend, Roelie

  8. Beautiful friend! HELLO! Happy Saturday!

    Everyone has been so busy with the end of summer vacations and getting the kids back in school. I'm sitting here at home grading papers and preparing for a full week and really first week of assigning homework! I'm learning what the needs and procedures are for secondary students, so once that's in place, I should be O.K.

    I am considering your outstanding recipe here for when our weather cools off a bit. I love cauliflower and broccoli is my favorite veggie, and I can imagine this on a cool night, but for now, we have had such sweltering temps!

    Many hugs to you dear friend, and yes, Mimi's husband is a fantastic photographer! She was kind enough to respond to my request for permission to use her lovely image.

    BISOUS! Anita

  9. hello sylvia,

    just today i found your blog again after jotting it on a post-it note a couple years ago. your words are poignant and your photos are stunning. i have been asking myself those words for over the last two years now. i have done interior design for a very long time, i also love to write and take photographs. i have tried for quite some time not to define myself as 'what i do' ... designer, mom, writer ... because it is all a work in progress. but then i think 'what am i doing, which direction am i taking', and it feels a bit unsettling. i have just signed up for an on-line photography workshop which i am very excited about, so i think i may 'plunge into something new' as anita mentioned. we shall see.

    thanks for your lovely post.

  10. Suzanne of Simply Suzannes at Home

    Dear Sylvia,

    I discovered your blog a few months ago, and I'm so happy that I did.
    Every time I read one of your posts, I feel like I'm reading an inspirational novella filled with beautiful photos. I feel excited when I see your posts in my inbox.
    I adore your written word, and appreciate your authenticity.
    I think I've read this post, in particular, at least 3 times. You make me want to strive for authenticity in my own life. Be true to myself . . . me.
    You have an incredible talent/gift for photography. And the photos in this post are truly stunning.
    I wish you the very best in your 'team endeavors' . . . and I wish you happiness.
    Please come by for a visit some time.
    Have a beautiful week,

  11. Great post - I always love my visits here!

    Thanks for the recipe as well- I might have to give it a try.


  12. Craving the cauliflower and brocoli rustic tart since first thing, I hadn't realised it was specifically that until I read your post and thought...oh yes! That's what I want for tea! As for unfinished work? Y E S! I am happy to be unfinished and to be indefinable, to me, is a wonderful expression of breadth and more opportunity...
    Sarah --x--

  13. Oh I really enjoyed reading this post Sylvia. I identified with so many of the things you have written. I love what you said about loving the humble, more grateful and ego-less you. I feel the same way too! I love who I am now and feel more in my own skin now.
    Your tart looks soooo delicious and OH MY GOODNESS, your photos are beautiful!!!
    many hugs...

  14. All of these images just thrill me, Silvia! The recipe looks wonderful. My husband and I were just talking about this very topic. How would we describe who we are. You have expressed the idea so thoughtfully and so well. I love the A.M. quote. So nice to have your input on my blog post!

  15. Funny, today when I was
    walking Gracie and noticed
    all the subtle indications that
    fall is on its way, I thought to
    myself that I am entering "the
    fall" of my own life. So, at first
    glance, I thought your post was
    titled "In the Fall of Life."

    In my own season of life, this
    sentence of yours reasonated
    with me:

    "How well do I love, accept, let go?"

    Great questions to ponder, perhaps
    while enjoying a glass of wine and
    this delicious tart : )

    Love and hugs,
    Suzanne xo

  16. And you are AMAZING. Dearest Sylvia....I learn so much from you...
    Brilliant post. There really are no words I can have said it all eloquently, beautifully. It is exciting to realize that we are unfinished, and that our art can be all of life!! No definitions, no freeing and revolutionary. :) The possibilities are limitless when we realize that "human being" is enough...
    YOU are a gift, dear sister.

    And that tart is so lovely and cozy...
    The photos....I would LOVE to have your book someday.... :))) (Photos, words, recipes...all of it!!! :)))
    Much love and warm hugs to you,
    - Irina

  17. Sylvia,
    What a beautiful post. You have such style and this recipe sounds wonderful to boot. May try to make it tomorrow to have for dinner while the rest of my crew downs their Friday night pizza!
    Have a great weekend!
    XO Barbara

  18. Loved the post, especially the little verse at the end.
    Thanks for the recipe, it looks amazing. I'll be giving it a try
    this weekend.

  19. Hi Sylvia...just stopping by to tell you this recipe is S-U-P-E-R yum! I did make it and while the kids and my hubby had their favorite Friday night pizza, my dear friend Peggy and I had this with a glass of white wine and we both loved it! Thank you so much...this recipe is a keeper!
    XO Barbara

  20. Oh goodness, that tart sounds so tasty. I'm a vegetarian so whenever I come across meatless recipes i'm always thrilled.

    I think as I get older, I become, in some ways, more confused about who I am too. When I was younger, I was a student or an employee. Now, I'm a mom, but can't find other ways to define myself to people who ask about me and what I do.

    Hope you had a good weekend! xo

  21. Well said Sylvia! You are so articulate. It's comforting to see your resonating words.
    Beautiful tart too! Lovely fall recipe to try.

  22. Много, много ми харесва това, което сътворяваш и изразяваш. Възхитително красиво! Аз съм ти фен. Поздравления!


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