Last week, I wrote about the importance of finding your direction and how your destination needs clarity — something that you can visualize and describe to anyone who asks, like an “elevator” speech. You also need to hold that dream, that vision, that big goal with an open hand. Meaning, that as you take each step forward, you may realize that the destination has shifted, or morphed, or gotten even bigger than you could have ever imagined, and that’s okay. This is step 1 in a process to achieve the success that you desire and deserve.
The second step is centered on making sure the dream is the right one for you — is it a true reflection of where you want to go? Is it a big enough and not just a series of tasks? There are a number of ways to “test” your dream. At the Life Mastery Institute, they have a five-point process — five thoughtful questions that all need a decisive “YES” as the answer if, in fact, this dream is worthy of you.
You’re probably wondering what those five questions are. Well, today, you’re in luck — I’m going to give you the secret 5-question “recipe” — followed by one of my favorite recipes!
**I know most people have their own word preference when it comes to describing a “dream” or “big goal” or “vision,” but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to use the term “dream” consistently. Just think of the terms interchangeably and mentally substitute your preferred term.
The Five Questions:
1. Will It Give Me More Life?
When you’re thinking about your dream and imagining that it is really happening, do you feel an intensified aliveness? Does the image — that picture in your mind — set you on fire with excitement? This dream will take you to heights that you couldn't have even imagined. It’s a far more expansive vision of the life that you want to live, and the best thing is, the structure of that vision will be unique to you.
So when you imagine living the dream, do you feel more alive? Do you feel more expansive? If you do, then you know that you’re heading in the right direction.
2. Does My Dream Align with My Core Values?
Are you aware of your three or four core values and can you articulate them? You should know what those are, and if you don’t, it’s a very worthwhile and essential exploration.
In a nutshell, when all is said and done, when you take that very last breath, what will have mattered to you? What matters most? What things will you, and did you, go to the mat for every single time? When your dream is in alignment with your core values, you line up with yourself. All parts of you agree. You won't have thoughts arguing about whether or not this is your path. You’ll know it’s your path.
3. Will It Cause Me to Grow?
Creating your dream is going to require that you step into a larger dimension of yourself and become more than you currently know how to be. Now, does it mean that you know how to do that? No. Does it mean that you know all that is required? No. But, can you see that to live a larger life, you are going to have to grow? Grow in understanding, grow in awareness, grow in action, grow in the many different ways that will be required to anchor, secure, and make stable a larger experience of aliveness. This is your dream. So does it require you to grow? You want a yes to that question.
4. Do I Need Help from a Higher Power?
This question sometimes flusters people, but ask yourself, “What is that higher power for me?” It is any entity that you envision that works for you e.g.: God, Buddha, Allah, E=mc2, quantum physics, the Spiral Universe, a magical frog, whatever you believe. Because whatever your version of a higher power, it’s there to help you. Another way to ask this question is: do I know every single thing that needs to be done to bring this to fruition?
If you know every single thing that needs to be done, then the dream isn't big enough — it might be a worthy goal or collection of tasks — but it’s not big enough to be YOUR dream. Now, part of this journey is an exploration of the unknown aspects of who you really are. In Mary’s words, “You have to allow the dream to build you, not just you build the dream.” But, for now, the question is: do you know every single thing that needs to happen? Do you need help from a higher power? Yes, you do.
5. Is There Good In This Dream For Others?
We are all connected in this world. Therefore, in order to tap into the power and support of the Universe, your dream has to make a difference for good. Your dream may be that you want to find an intimate relationship and a truly loving partner. You may ask yourself, “Besides being good for the two of us, how is finding a partner going to be good for others?” Well, here's the truth. Any two people who demonstrate what true love looks like are an inspiration to every person who knows them.
If your dream is to grow a garden, you are either going to produce a bounty of food or beauty in the world. There truly is good in that.
And honestly, as you begin your journey, any idea of the impact your dream will have on others will be minuscule compared to how much good there really will be. So, your idea of good for others does not have to be obvious, it's not like that. Therefore, in that context, look at your dream and ask, is there good that will come from this for others?
All of these questions should have a definitive, "YES!" If not, you need to go back and make the necessary changes and adjustments. Once that is accomplished, then it’s time to move your action plan forward — taking one step, then the next, then the next…until you arrive at your dream destination.
**The five-question test courtesy of the Life Mastery Institute
Cooking for Joan
This week, I decided I wanted to highlight a recipe by someone who had an incredible zest for life (and butter, for that matter) — Julia Child. This is one of my favorite recipes of hers and although it’s a perfect winter dish, it can be enjoyed in any season.
My Christmas gift to my niece-in-law, Kim, is a lunch at this charming French bistro, La Bonne Soupe (we're still trying to set a date for this year). Their specialty is a prix fixe lunch with French Onion Soup, salad, a glass of wine, and dessert (not being a big dessert-eater, I always swap my dessert for a second glass of wine). Although it’s probably not Julia’s exact recipe, it is truly “soup for the soul” — rich, savory, with creamy, gooey cheese melted on top of the crisp croutes, with a nice kick of cognac to tie it all together — magnifique! But the dap of butter (or oil) on the top, is just that — over the top in the best way possible!
Now, anyone who's made this soup, knows that the bulk of the time spent cooking it, is getting the caramelized onions cooked to perfection — usually a 45-minute to an hour task. I wondered if there was an easy way to speed up the process.
So, as is my way, I cruised the internet to see if I could find a life hack to get the same results. And voilà, I found an article on caramelizing onions quickly on one of my favorite sites — Serious Eats. It was a great time saver and I'm including the link if you'd like to try it out. It's a long article and for the sake of brevity and authenticity, the recipe below uses the original caramelizing technique. But I'm also including the link to the article in case you want to get adventurous!
Here's the link to make the caramelized onions: http://www.seriouseats.com/201...
French Onion Soup, Courtesy of Julia Child
Prep Time: 30 min | Cook Time: 1 hr 30 min | Makes: 6-8 | Difficulty: Medium
- 5 -6 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 6 cups beef stock
- 1 cup wine (dry red or white)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- salt and pepper
- 12 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
- 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 raw yellow onion
- 2 -3 tablespoons cognac
- 8 slices French bread (about 1 inch thick)
- 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil for drizzling
Place heavy bottom stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat
Add 1 Tbs cooking oil, 2 Tbs butter to pot
Add sliced onions and stir until they are evenly coated with the oil
Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until they are very tender and translucent
Brown or caramelize the onions; turn heat under pot to medium or medium high heat
Add 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently until the onions have browned and reduced significantly. 30 minutes
Once caramelized, reduce heat to medium-low and add 3 Tbs flour to the onions
Brown the flour for about 2-3 minutes trying not to scorch it. (If the flour does not form a thick paste, you can add a bit more butter here)
Stir in about 1 cup of warm stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all of the cooked-on bits
Add the rest of the stock, wine, sage, and bay leaf to the soup
Simmer for 30 minutes
To make the "croutes" (toasted bread):
Pre-heat oven to 325 F
Drizzle each side of the bread slices with a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet
Cook the croutes for 15 minutes in oven on each side (30 minutes total) until golden brown
Check the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed
Remove the bay leaf (if you can find it)
Pre-heat oven 350 F
Transfer to individual bowls or a casserole dish
Add the 2-3 Tbs cognac and grate the 1/2 raw onion into the soup
Add a few ounces of the Swiss cheese directly into the soup and stir
Place the toasted bread in a single layer on top of the soup
Sprinkle the rest of the cheese in a thick layer on top of the bread making sure to cover the edges of the toast to prevent burning
Drizzle with a little oil or melted butter
Place in oven for about 30 minutes
Turn on broiler and brown cheese well or use a torch
Serve with a nice salad and a glass of wine of your choosing