Dance with Lightning (and Easy Fancy Breakfast–or Lunch– Quinoa)

by Maria Theresa Maggi on May 11, 2015

"Lightning" original chalk pastel drawing by Maria Theresa Maggi

A long time ago I was fielding some very challenging interactions regarding family that were electrified with accusation, inuendo, shock and invisible third parties stirring up even more trouble. Being a very visually oriented person, I asked for an image that would help me negotiate this charged situation safely and gracefully. The one that came to me was to “dance with lightning.” As the light flashed bright and then dark, and the forks touched down around me, I could twirl and turn and move unafraid among and through the spaces between them without getting struck. Just calling this image to mind whenever I became tense about how to handle the situation caused me to relax and trust my instincts. It also helped me not respond without escalating hostility and without backing down.

I know that actual lightning can be quite dangerous; in fact one of my favorite memoirs is A Match to the Heart, about author Gretel Ehrlich’s  recovery from being struck by lightning. But I also think of lightning as the perfect metaphor for instant epiphany or insight that changes the landscape of my perception in a flash. While I’m a person who is often right, I’ve long maintained that I’d rather be surprised and enlightened than right, and lightning reminds me of that feeling that things are different, perhaps even better, than I thought, which always makes me laugh about being so sure I was right.

Sometimes the bolts I’m dancing through are exciting and hopeful–like the transition I’ve created in my life this Spring. In mid April, I had the opportunity to ride over with friends to visit Mike and Kelly again in Portland. Even the dry inland Northwest was vibrant with green and blossoms all across our route. And Portland itself was lush and laden with the colors and smells of Spring. Once again, Romeo and I had a wonderful time, and I hardly thought of coming home. Mike and Kelly and I all agreed how nice it would be on many levels of our collective existence if I lived closer to them. So I have decided to sell my house and move to Portland.

With so many new experiences to field, and 3 art exhibits here in Moscow to be ready for in the coming month, I’ve had to keep my  meals super simple. I’ve been eating the same things every day– versions of my kale breakfast salad and some fig and twig tea oatmeal, confetti salads at lunch, and stir fries in the evening full of veggies, a grain and/or some sweet potato and a smattering of beans. And of course my little tiny tofu pie for dessert. Over and over and over again.

Some days have been so busy I haven’t even had time to whir up the confetti salad in my food processor. On those days I rely on the breakfast quinoa I make ahead. I toss it in a non-stick pan with some greens and a sprinkling of edamame, heat it up until the greens wilt, and call it lunch. Since it might be a long time before I come up with a more involved recipe, I thought I’d share how I prepare my breakfast (and sometimes lunch) quinoa. Just a few extra ingredients tossed in at the end of the cooking time make all the flavors pop. Even omnivores like it.

(Warning: this strategy contains mustard seeds. If you know you hate those, see notes for a possible substitution.)

My new adventure may prevent me from writing on the blog as regularly as usual, but rest assured I am doing fine and will check in as I can. The fact that I seem to be mustering the stamina to pace myself for all this is testimony to the healing power of my plant-based eating style. I am ever grateful to these whole plants that nourish me each day, and the community of folks who share this experience with me. In the coming months, I look forward to landing in a city where I will even find a doctor who knows what I am doing and why.


Maria (moonwatcher)

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kiwi Fan May 11, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Wow Dear Maria,

That came as a ‘lightning bolt’ that you will move from your lovely new home and community to Portland. I fully understand the familial drawcard and you will benefit in so many wonderful ways from having your son and daughter-in-law nearby. I had missed your absorbing blog but am pleased that a major positive decision kept you from your contributions. I wish you strength and all the very best in the coming busy weeks as you ‘dance through the lightning’ and experience a new ‘adventure’. Also, good luck with those exhibitions. Your painting is gorgeous.
I look forward to making quinoa with your special treatment, as I eat and enjoy it a lot.
Go gentle on yourself with all your dancing preparations!

Kiwi Fan xx


2 Maria Theresa Maggi May 11, 2015 at 9:28 pm

Dear Kiwi Fan,

Thank you so much for your kind and supportive thoughts on this latest adventure, and your lovely compliment about my art. I am happy you will try the quinoa! I like what you said about the “familial drawing card.” I wish this process of buying and selling would only take weeks, but really it could take longer. So nice to have the good will of my blog readers to cheer me on my way. We will see where it leads. I’m aimig ofr someplace wonderful. 🙂 xo


3 Silvia May 12, 2015 at 3:42 am

I whish you the best of luck for your new adventure, Maria!

And naturally hope for updates when you find the time and energy.

Greetings from Germany


4 Maria Theresa Maggi May 12, 2015 at 7:57 am

Thank you so much, Silvia! And I will definitely post updates on the blog when I can. Greetings back to Germany from Idaho, and maybe someday in the future, the beautiful City of Roses, Portland, Oregon! 🙂


5 Gena May 12, 2015 at 6:10 am

I love this. One of my favorite and most reliable breakfasts during my post-bacc program was a cup of cooked quinoa with blueberries and banana slices stirred in. If I was feeling fancy, I’d add cinnamon and a quick almond butter/almond milk sauce, but even if I didn’t have time for that, it was satisfying and nutrient dense. And of course, I do many savory quinoa salads for lunch, too. I love the idea of doing currants in it — I’ll have to run with that this summer!

I am also intrigued by your idea to summon up an image for trying or complicated situations. I’m an artist’s daughter, and my mother is always teasing me about now NOT visually oriented I am; perhaps this explains why I tend to think about mantras in place of images. But regardless, I like the idea of using images to help make sense of things.



6 Maria Theresa Maggi May 12, 2015 at 8:01 am

Thanks, Gena!! Your own treatments for breakfast quinoa sound so yummy too. I think we have a lot in common in our food tastes, and what sustains us during busy times. I’m glad you found my image strategy intriguing. It has helped me through many difficult challenges. I loved reading about how your Mom, who is an artist, is more visually oriented, while you turn to mantras. I have done that, too, and still do, at times. My poetry writing self does a lot of “hearing” of lines and sounds, and mantras are on that channel as well. It is amazing how they can shift body feelings almost effortlessly. So many lovely paths to more peaceful being. xo


7 Cheryl May 12, 2015 at 8:25 am

Hello Maria,

I’m in the middle of a big move myself, with the actual transition coming up in a few weeks. It’s been many months of searching and preparation for the purchase and sale, and diets like ours are hard to maintain. I’ve been sticking with your kale breakfast salad, too! It’s been a staple in my diet since you posted it. Funny you should mention quinoa for breakfast. I just never tried it, and here I am, as I try to use up as much food as possible before the move, without oatmeal and with an abundance of quinoa! So here goes!

Good luck to you as you make this big transition. I hope last year’s move in some way is serving you with this coming move. Best wishes.



8 Maria Theresa Maggi May 12, 2015 at 8:53 am

Hello Back Cheryl–thanks so much for this lovely comment of solidarity in moving transitions! I can’t tell you how happy I am to read that my kale salad has become a staple in your diet. And so happy to help you use up your quinoa at breakfast time too. 🙂 Moving is so very all encompassing, as is buying and/or selling a home, and I wish you all the very best in your own transition. You are right on the mark in your suggestio that last year’s move is serving me with this coming move. I have already downsized and detached quite a bit, and as one very long time dear friends says, it works best for me to leave Moscow “in parts.” Best wishes to both of us, and thanks for taking the time to comment in the middle of everything!


9 Marge Evans May 12, 2015 at 8:34 am

I think it is wonderful that you will be living near your family.


10 Maria Theresa Maggi May 12, 2015 at 8:54 am

Thank you so much, Marge! I do too. 🙂


11 Veronica May 12, 2015 at 10:20 am

I love how you use images like the lightning to help you through various times. It’s very exciting to be moving closer to family! Buying and selling a home is super frustrating; it takes longer than you expect, and ends up worse financially than you had hoped (at least in our 3 experiences so far), but then results in finding a better, happier place in the long run. I wish you all the best in your journey – and will keep my fingers crossed you have a better experience than we have. 🙂
Making sure your meals are planned out and easy to make and eat is a smart move! Reduces one of the potential stressors to nothing. Preparation, preparation, preparation! I usually just throw my quinoa (or quinoa grain mix) into the rice cooker – I like your addition of the mustard seeds & currants. I’ll have to try that!
And I’m sure you will find a fantastic doctor who is experienced in MS and the eating/lifestyle “solution” – the pacNW does have the highest MS rate in the nation, so there are a lot of specialists. I loved my naturopath in Seattle. Good luck with everything, and update us when you can! xoxo


12 Maria Theresa Maggi May 12, 2015 at 11:36 am

Thanks so much, Veronica! Yes, it’s very exciting to have this intention set in motion to move closer to my fabulous loved ones. But as you say, the buying and selling part is a frustrating gauntlet. It IS taking longer than I thought, and all the things you say about your experience are obstacles in this one as well. But I have faith it will lead to a better happier place on all levels in the long run. And yes, to that end, my “inner girl scout” is keeping me prepared with simple healthy meals! 🙂 And when all the dust settles and I am over there, I do look forward to finding a doc who knows about eating lifestyle solutions for MS. Won’t that be grand. 🙂 Thanks for reading and all your good wishes!! xoxo


13 Pam May 13, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Good luck with your move to Portland. Be sure to look up Dr. Craig McDougall in Portland, that’s John’s son, and I believe he is doing great things at Kaiser with plant based diets!

Maybe we can meet up one day after you settle in Portland, as you’re closer now! 🙂 Looks like we’ll be living out in rural Pierce County just north of Tacoma, WA.


14 Maria Theresa Maggi May 13, 2015 at 10:17 pm

Thanks Pam! I was definitely going to look into the program and the docs at Oregon Health Sciences University–I knew Dr. McD’s son was involved with their study, but didn’t realize he lives in Portland–very cool. It will take me a while to get there, perhaps months, but once I do, yes, I hope we can meet up. We won’t be all that far away from one another. To be continued. . .hope you’ll be writing about where you’ve landed on your blog. 🙂


15 Lee at Veggie Quest May 18, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Hi Maria, wow, congratulations on the decision to move to Portland! It sounds like you have all you can say blessings over with 3 art exhibits to prep for, in addition to getting ready to move. I’m thrilled for you to be closer to family, and yet I also understand how bittersweet moving can be. I’ll be thinking of you and happy to read your updates whenever you have time to post them!


16 Maria Theresa Maggi May 18, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Thanks so much for all the good thoughts and wishes, Lee! It may take a while to sell my house here, but I am keeping the faith I’ll be Portland bound once I get that in motion. I enjoyed your post about the Mother’s Day Brunch, and hope your finger heals up real soon too!


17 Cyndi May 18, 2015 at 10:54 pm

I learned recently that hypothyroid or other thyroid problems will cause Fiberm., as well as some 300 other symptoms in the body. Most doc’s just check the TSH levels which is not right. At and, and late Dr. John C. Lowe work he actually found a way to reverse Fiberm. as well as many other symptoms or ailments even diabetes. There are many yahoo groups as well. They are trying to get the word out. Most regular conventional doc’s are refusing to see that many people are helped by testing T3, T4, Antibiodies, Full Thyroid Panel. Hope this might help someone.


18 Maria Theresa Maggi May 19, 2015 at 8:18 am

Thanks for your comment, Cyndi.


19 Linda Petersen June 8, 2015 at 12:06 pm

I am excited you are moving to Portland! I live in Portland and we are a great Foodie town! Let me know if you need anything once you are here!



20 Maria Theresa Maggi June 8, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Thank you so much, Linda! I will definitely contact you once I have landed in a place and settled a bit. And yes, Portland is a great (vegan) foodie town!! I love that already! 🙂


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