Photo courtesy of Thea Macdonald
Photo courtesy of Thea Macdonald
This month, I want to wholeheartedly focus on optimism.
For the past six years, every spring a mourning dove has visited me on the terrace of my apartment in New York City. I believe that she visits for a reason. She is not afraid of me; we sometimes sit quietly near each other. Her visit has an inexplicable calming effect on me. Upon some research, I discovered that the dove is a symbol of hope and salvation in the wake of turmoil and uncertainty. Her recent presence this spring has uplifted my spirit after a challenging winter, symbolizing optimism and revitalization.
Growing up, I’ve always associated my mother with her love of birds. She used to save baby birds that fell out of their nests in our country home, and nurture them back to health. Eventually, as all babies do, they would grow stronger and venture out into the wild on their own. But until that day, she was truly their mother. My mother passed away many years ago, but somehow my mourning dove connects me to her spirit. This May, particularly on Mother’s Day, it is important to be mindful of what mothers have done to prepare us to go out into the world.
As we broach the summer season, it’s easy to sense the buzz of anticipation of the months ahead: streets of cities and towns come alive with people delighted to awaken from winter “hibernation.” Harbours fill with boats, gardeners plant their flowers and shrubs, and summer plans are made. There is so much to look forward to, such richness all around, and many opportunities to channel this optimism into different parts of our lives. Optimism is a strange concept, and sometimes a difficult one in light of life’s many obstacles. But a hopeful outlook is essential to achieving happiness.
To stay optimistic, we need to take pleasure in our senses. Spring is a fresh start, and brings with it the re-opening of local farmers markets. Take advantage of the best fresh produce available in your region, and form meaningful connections with local farmers. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the 5th with fresh Pineapple Chicken Tinga Quesedillas from Half Baked Harvest. Spend time with your mom and mother figures on the 14th and treat them to an Almond Tea Cake by Tutti Dolc.
There is much to be remembered this month by observing World Health Day (7th), Armed Forces Day (20th) and Memorial Day (29th). The great dedication of people protecting the freedom and health of others around the world is a testament to the human spirit. We can all apply this commitment to helping others in our day-to-day lives, whether a kind gesture to a stranger, or volunteering for a cause. Everything, in the end, leads to an optimistic future.
Photography: Amanda Palomino
April is a month of high days and holidays, filled with times of celebration, coming together, and feasting. Central to these times of celebration is love, our mood of the month. Love calls on us to seek a deep connection with people; whether friends, lovers, parents, children or the new people we meet that touch our lives. We are given an opportunity every day to approach others with tenderness and warmth. Love is the thing most treasured and sought by humankind the world over and we could do to take stock of it a little more often. The people whose stories we tell on Mood of Living love what they do. Their passion for and personal connection to their craft, their product and their community is at the core of what makes them so exceptional.
Though it is not yet the free-spirited days of summer, April marks a certain change in the air, a turn of the season both in the sky and in our thoughts. Flowers, fruit, vegetables and new life abound and it is the perfect time to explore fresh produce and new recipes. With earthy beetroot, asparagus and brussels sprouts in season, enjoy a refreshing supper of Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa, and Spinach, or something heartier with a Charred Asparagus Cream Pasta with Blackened Chicken. Surrounded by Easter chocolate, indulge a little of a sweet tooth with Barefoot Contessa’s Easter Coconut Cake.
Don’t forget to have a little fun on April Fool’s Day and embrace your childish spirit on an Easter-egg hunt. There are great opportunities to gather loved ones whatever the festivities: Passover, Easter or just that we made it to the spring. Break outdoors and embrace nature in celebration of Earth Day on the 22nd. Open a window and fill the house with flowers, the new season is truly here ready for us to love one another, love the earth and love ourselves.
Photography: Caleb Smallwood
March is a month full of possibility. As the winter defrosts, so does our spirit. Spring invites positivity, and a re-birth of energy and activity. In the midst of an unsettling period throughout the world, there is all the more reason to appreciate the changing of the season and to take intentional moments for rest and relaxation.
Relaxation can come in many different forms that are not necessarily a bubble bath and candles, though these are always a joy. It can be a renewed focus on socializing, stepping away from projects and business, spending time outside to enjoy the warmth in the air and the budding landscape. Enjoy the company of loved ones, take a nap, or be inspired by film and literature. The hardest challenge for me is to occasionally step away from technology to relax and be able to find peace of mind. I encourage you to join me by disconnecting and dedicating quality time for relaxation.
Relaxation can also be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. Explore and build skills with no time pressure or the goal for perfection. Try Half Baked Harvest’s Irish Pub Spinach & Artichoke Melt for St Patrick’s Day on March 17th or Avocado Caprese Pasta with Grilled Broccoli Rabe for a fresh evening dish that hints towards summer. For something more indulgent try Pinch of Yum’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars, and relax with friends sharing sweet treats and catching up.
There is much to celebrate this month with festivities around St Patrick’s Day celebrating Irish culture, heritage and ‘craic’ around the world. Signs of spring are abundant and cherry blossoms are some of the most delightful scenes to encourage you to get outside. International Women’s Day is marked on March 8th – make sure to reach out to and celebrate remarkable women all around you! The clocks finally ‘spring’ forward on March 12th and the official first day of spring is March 20th. The winter darkness is finally behind us for another year so celebrate with an evening walk!
Happy March, Happy Spring!