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A few weeks ago, while juggling errands and appointments, I boarded a crowded downtown subway and sat in the only seat available. The man sitting across from me was a young black guy who had a little wheelie cart with a portable stereo attached. He was playing a track from his CD and was singing/rapping in such a charismatic and engaging way that many of the riders surprisingly paid attention (a rare occurrence in NYC) — he was that good.
It’s not uncommon for “performers” to use the subway as a stage. I’ve experienced violinists, drummers, doomsday predictors, and my favorite, the “Show Time” boys. A group of 3 or 4 young guys shout out, "What Time is It?" followed by “It's Show Time,” and proceed to acrobatically swing around on the subway poles, perform front and back flips, and walk on the ceiling; pretty impressive, given that they’re on a speeding express train.
Typically, these various performances end with an ask for donations, but in this particular incident, the rapper/singer smiled at everyone, told people to have a good day and got off the train. It was my stop too, and I got off the train with him. As we were walking up, we started a brief, yet interesting conversation, but I had to dash off for an appointment so I gave him my card. He called me later and we met for a drink and a chat in midtown.
Our conversation turned to his dream of becoming an established and respected musician and artist. He had already achieved a modicum of success — a professionally produced video, connections to some high profile musicians, and some gigs at well-known festivals — which was amazing considering that he’d only been in the U.S. for a few years. He had given up a well-paying job in Nigeria, left his friends and family, and moved to the States to pursue this dream of his. What struck me the most, though, was the clarity of his dream and the eagle-eyed focused drive towards it. Despite a few setbacks, he was going full force, and nothing, and I mean nothing, was going to deter him from his path.
This discussion got me thinking about the concept of having a destination in mind, and how essential it is if, indeed, you're going to achieve your goals and dreams. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t board a plane or train without knowing your destination, would you? Then why would you take the most important journey, the journey of your life, without some idea of a destination?
The truth is, you’ll never be able to start a journey to create a new life without first being able to visualize and define your destination. Finding the right direction for your dream or big goal can be overwhelming, but by attempting, asking, engaging, experimenting, and finally defining what it is, and what it looks like, puts you one step closer than you were yesterday. And you just never know where that one step will lead and what doors it will open.
When you take that first step towards your dream or big goal, you instantly begin to feel empowered, because instead of thinking about something that seems so far away and almost unreachable, you will be working on something tangible and focused. You control the actions that you take each day. And isn’t that one of the great things about life — knowing that you have absolute control over each of your thoughts, words, and actions?
There’s a great quote that I like to use in my workshops, “No wind is favorable to the sailor who has no destination in mind.” You cannot move in a direction that you have not defined. People often begin setting goals without a solid dream destination of who they want to become or what they want to achieve. But if you don’t have a destination in mind, a view of what you want, you’ll be shifting course and falling short of your true potential time and time again. Your destination needs clarity — something that you can visualize and describe to anyone who asks, like an “elevator” speech. It’s up to you, and only you, to have that visual image, that picture in your mind.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the destination is static. Far from it. You 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.
So, give your mind a picture that will need to evolve as you move towards it. It’s a living concept, a living dream of the life that you want to create. You do not need to know all the steps required to achieve this dream. But, you have to have some idea of where you want to be in the full spectrum of your life. With a clear direction, your dreams and big goals will be much easier to accomplish.
Cooking for Joan
I have an English friend named Vicki who lives part of the time in Brooklyn, part of the time in Baltimore, and the rest of the time, she's traveling the world for her job. It’s on rare occasions that our schedules align and when they do, we have a wonderful time together, usually with our mutual good friends, Kitty and her husband Tom. There’s always a lot of revelry, cocktailing, and food. The last time we were together was right before she was leaving for London on an extended trip. I decided to host an English dinner in her honor, and this is the recipe that I chose. I LOVE stews and adding pastry is the ultimate delight!
The pot pie is rich, savory, and velvety, and the smell is out of this world. I usually serve cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the living area and then move to the table for the entrée, followed by a salad (I'm a fan of the European way of eating). For some added fun, I baked each of their initials on their pie to use as place cards, and told them it was assigned seating It took them a few seconds to figure it out, but it was a good laugh — and as a bonus, extra pastry to devour — yum!!
English Beef Pot Pies with Puff Pastry
Prep Time: 30 min | Cook Time: 90 min | Makes: 6 | Difficulty: Medium
- 1-2 boxes (17.3 oz.) frozen puff pastry
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lb. beef--stew meat, chuck roast, or sirloin, cut into 3/4" cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary)
- 1/2 cup dry sherry *
- 5-1/2 cups low sodium beef broth
- 12 small red potatoes (1-1/3 lbs.), cut in 1" pieces, skin on
- 2 cups fresh or frozen pearl onions, thawed if frozen
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 (1-lb) bag frozen pea and carrot medley (approx 3 cups; do not thaw)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water
*Note: if you don’t have sherry, here’s a list of possible substitutes: http://www.livestrong.com/arti...
PRE-HEAT OVEN AT 400 F
Use 12-16 oz. oven proof bowls. Turn one upside down on thawed pastry sheet and cut around it with a small knife. Repeat for number of crusts you need. Cut small cookie cutter shapes out of leftover dough, if desired. Cover cut pastry rounds with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven or large pot over med-high heat. Pat meat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add half to pan.
Cook, stir occasionally, until browned and liquid gone. Remove to plate and repeat with remaining meat. Remove to plate.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, add mushrooms; cook until liquid is gone. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cook for approx. 30 seconds.
Stir in dry sherry, deglazing the pot. Stir in the broth, potatoes, and browned meat. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are cooked and beef is tender, approx. 30-45 min.
Add onions. Whisk together cornstarch and cold water, stir into soup and cook until thickened; approx. 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and frozen peas & carrots. Season with salt to taste.
ASSEMBLE THE POT PIES:
Ladle stew into ovenproof bowls, place puff pastry round on top. Gently stretch and press pastry edges over lip of bowl.
Make egg wash by whisking egg with 1 tablespoon water, brush on pastry tops. Add pastry cookie cutter shapes or the guests initials on top of pastry rounds (if using) and brush those with egg wash. Place bowls on foil lined baking sheet for easy clean up and easy of handling.
Bake at 400 until crusts are golden and filling is bubbly.
To bake right away, bake for 25-35 minutes.
To bake if refrigerated, bake 40-50 minutes.
If crust browns before filling is bubbly, place a loose piece of foil across the top to prevent over browning. Let pies rest 15-20 minutes before serving to allow filling to cool and thicken.
*This post was originally published on May 3, 2017