Hold Onto Your Heart (and Pumpkin Spice Biscotti)

by Maria Theresa Maggi on November 25, 2019

“Sanderlings in Fog,” pastel memory sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

At this season of thankfulness, I am counting some blessings, both quiet and profound. Cotton and I have carried on the tradition of walking early in the morning we started late last Spring with Romeo when I was recovering from the chemical pneumonia prompted by exposure to diesel exhaust. It was such a beautiful part of my recovery, and now it’s become a healing time of continuity for Cotton and me, finding our way to play just the two of us, in what is now brisk cold mornings turning to winter. I felt so blessed a few weeks back when my bird chasing Silken stood quietly with me and we watched this flock of sanderlings feeding at the edge of the water while all of us were embraced by coastal fog. I had never hoped to be that close to them, given how Cotton usually likes to chase them, so it was a quiet and magical interlude we shared, both being content to just stand there. Those little birds moving in sync with each other up and down the waterline thrill my heart with wonder.

Speaking of hearts, near the beginning of November I stumbled onto a commentary about themes in energy for the month, but the real gem of it came at the end with a simple excerpt from a meditation inviting the listener to simply, for five minutes a day, meditate while literally holding the hands over the heart. The notion that literally holding my heart would help it feel “held” in the love that always abides despite the chaos around us really struck me as sound and resonant, and it has become part of  the repertoire in my meditation practice.

I’m also grateful that a completely unexpected but necessary encounter with medical intervention has been successful. During a routine eye exam, I was (pardon the pun) a bit blindsided to learn that I was at risk for something called narrow angle closure glaucoma. This is not garden variety glaucoma–that I do not have, along with being free of cataracts, and signs of macular degeneration, things in my family I might also be predisposed to. I had never even heard of narrow angle closure glaucoma. Apparently it has mostly to do with the anatomy of the eye, the size of the eye, gender, age, and a predisposition to far-sightedness. If the angle of the duct the keeps the eye fluid closes, one becomes horribly ill (nauseous with searing head pain) and the optic nerve gets damaged. Irreversible blindness results within 48 hours if the emergency is not attended to.

Back in the day, people used to have to have eye surgery in the hospital to correct this, but now there’s an outpatient laser procedure that bypasses the duct by making a hole in the iris next to the duct. My ophthamologist described it as feeling like a little snap or a pop. but when the laser did it’s work to me it was more liked getting socked in the eye. And then again. I also had to use the required predisolone drops in my eyes for a week after the procedure, another life first.

Undergoing the procedure, doing what was required afterward, and recovering from it all was more painful and traumatic for this “princess and the pea” who feels everything than I would have chosen, but I am happy to report it was successful, though I will have to have my eye pressure monitored every six months for two years.

This Thanksgiving I will be in Portland at my son and daughter-in-law’s and I am grateful for that, and for not being in charge of the dinner this year, or even hosting it at my house. But I still feel festive, and since my son is coming to get me, I thought it might be nice to surprise him with some treats for the drive back. Thus, though I usually wait for Christmas to bake my biscotti, I thought I’d try whipping up a pumpkin spice version for Thanksgiving. It’s a riff on my gluten free Christmas Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti recipe

You can read my long history with the healing powers of biscotti by clicking on the link to the original recipe, but here it is with the modifications I made. It’s a treat, so there is some sugar, and a little fat, but hey, ’tis the season.

Pumpkin Spice (Chocolate Chip) Biscotti

During one of these “holding my heart” meditations, I felt Romeo showing me how love is a sequence embodied through different beings in our lives across time. It felt like it was being offered as a teaching, an antidote to being broken hearted over his loss or the loss of one pet who seems singular or anyone who is singular to us). For a brief instant I was able to grasp how each of us can be utterly unique, and yet as we embody the love we share and participate in we are part of a sequence that is all one in that love–why is why there is always room for more of it.

So, if you have five minutes to give it, hold onto your hearts this Thanksgiving. They have carried each of us so far, through loss, triumph, difficulty, awe, laughter, grief and illumination, as we learn to move through fear and expand capacity for love. And for that, I am ever grateful.

Maria (moonwatcher)




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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Colleen November 25, 2019 at 6:42 pm

Beautiful and profound… and YUM!


2 Maria Theresa Maggi November 25, 2019 at 7:54 pm

Thanks Colleen <3


3 Veronica December 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm

I’m so glad your eyes are OK! That sounds quite… unpleasant. But it’s good it’s over and successful.
I really like the heart meditation – I’ll have to give it a go! I’m trying to be more regular in my meditation, and 5 minutes here and there isn’t a big deal, so I have no excuse to not fit this in. It’s a nice sentiment, your last couple paragraphs. <3
I hope you and your family had a lovely Thanksgiving! The biscotti looks like a delicious snack. 🙂


4 Gena December 10, 2019 at 7:56 am

I will certainly hold my heart through the whole holiday season, Maria—I know you wrote this at Thanksgiving, but I’ll happily and gratefully extend your invitation to Christmas, too! I love the idea of incorporating this gesture into meditation.

And, since food is always the thing that makes me feel most loved and most held and most supported, it couldn’t be more appropriate that you posted these delicious sounding biscotti. What a treat! I hope to try a version of them at home, and I’ll think lovingly of you when I do.



5 Maria Theresa Maggi December 11, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Dear Gena, I’m so glad you took this meditation tip “to heart”–I, too, am continuing it through the whole holiday season! I am so honored that you might try a version of these biscotti–and that your loving thoughts will be with me when you do. Will love to hear what you come up with. xoxo


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