Wednesday, May 17, 2017

things to remember.....

I've read some good articles lately... or listened to a TED talk... or watched an interesting program... all of which made me stop and think and reflect.  Some thoughts filled a void where there had been some lack of understanding. Some ideas just clicked and finally made sense. Some thoughts were convicting and made me see myself... or others... and what I didn't want to be... or do in my own life. It feels good to learn... and change (hopefully) for the better. Become more wise... and more at peace...

Some of the things I want to remember....

* I heard this said today... "Life is not about avoiding suffering, but finding meaning". Sure made me stop and think. Abruptly. Suffering has always been so tough for me to understand. It has taken me a long long time for this truth to travel from my head to my heart. Why? Why do some truths you have heard many times all of a sudden sink in where they can do some good inside of us? Sometimes the right person has to say it. Sometimes it has to come at the right time and in the right way. I don't know why things click when they do... but it clicked for me recently. Maybe I am finally (maybe) making peace with the reality that suffering is part of the human experience. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

* Principles without practice equal... or result in... lostness. Just because we believe the right things (or say we do) means little without practicing... or living it out... in our lives. Makes me think of the Bible verse "faith without works is dead"... Worthless. Do... don't just say... or think.... or believe.... Do.

* Don't be a "right fighter". There are a lot of right fighters around. Always have to come back with saying something to disagree or try to prove another wrong, argue, never backing down... believing that is a virtue even... Just cannot keep quiet. This doesn't mean we cannot express an opinion, but after you have, let it be. And be kind on top of that. "Never miss a good chance to shut up".  My first marriage was with a right fighter... and I probably had some of that in me as well.... Not a happy marriage. But I have wanted peace for a long time now. I still have strong opinions, but I don't have to throw them around all the time like a weapon. Sometimes (often) peace is better than being right. Sounds harsh but... "I knew I matured when I realized every situation doesn't need a reaction. Sometimes you just gotta leave people to do the lame shit they do." It's true.

* Death is what makes life precious... gives life meaning. Dying is what creates preciousness... it's what gives us the impulse to make meaning. Death proves life.... (whoa!)  B.J. Miller TED talk is awesome. Just awesome.

More to come..............

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

morning kitchen activity

I love to cook and bake. Especially if I can share with others. But even if visitors aren't expected I enjoy good food and the process of making it for myself. I don't make every meal from scratch, but I have to admit when I do it's a whole lot better tasting than the freezer section of the grocery store!

It might be nice to have a servant who did all the cleaning up though! But even that can be satisfying ... to get the kitchen back to a clean and organized status.

I've had the ingredients to make Creamy Tortellini Soup and Focaccia bread for a few days now ... both using fresh herbs from my garden. It was as good as I hoped it would be and I will definitely make it again. It would be a good meal for company with a green salad on the side.

Norman is my ever-present-doggie-in-the-way-at-my-feet companion while I putter around in the kitchen. I'm sure he has learned that he gets lucky from time to time... 

... and it's always nice when something falls our way.

Friday, May 5, 2017

productive day

May 5th already.... and it's been a nice spring. Some days have been unseasonably warm and others have been unseasonably cool. I could live with that for months, but that will end soon and it will just be hot, hot, hot.

I was sick with a disturbing intestinal illness a couple weeks ago that knocked me down hard. I don't remember feeling so weak and energy-less for such a long time. But it makes feeling well again that much better and I'm glad I could tackle some work in the yard today.

I got outside early and confronted the yucky, gnarly, junk in the gutters! Thankfully, only one side of my house fills with tree debris, but around here it's pretty substantial. I felt so glad to be able to complete the job by myself and do something hard... and not fall off the ladder!

After digging out the gutter gunk, I then had to clear it out of the stones on the ground which also took a lot of time... 

Afterwards I went to lunch with a friend and then returned home to enjoy my yard!

Feeling very, very grateful.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter memories

Easter. My memories are vivid. My grandparents visiting. Going to church on Sunday. Dressing up in a new Easter dress. Getting an Easter basket in the morning filled with candy, chocolate, a hardboiled egg that we colored the day before... and a stuffed bunny of some kind.

As always Mom made it special. How thankful I am for those memories.

And there were always flowers. Mom would buy some for my grandmother... maybe lilies, maybe tulips... usually one would be for me too.... Hyacinths were my favorite. Probably the reason I always have to buy one when Easter comes around each year. When I smell the fragrance I always stop in my tracks and .... well it just brings me back... instantly... Isn't that nice?

This time of the year there would be tulips and daffodils blooming in the yard outside of my New Jersey home.

So this year is no different. I colored eggs because I love to participate in the memories that are still part of my present...

And I buy some flowers. And drink in their sweetness... and all the love I remember ...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

all of us... being human

"....It all just sort of fits somehow. And even if you don’t understand how yet, people will die in our lives, people that we love. In the future. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe years from now. I mean, it’s kind of beautiful, right, if you think about it, the fact that just because someone dies, just because you can’t see them or talk to them anymore, it doesn’t mean they’re not still in the painting. I think maybe that’s the point of the whole thing. There’s no dying. There’s no you or me or them. It’s just us." (Kevin in This is Us.)

This was part of a longer monologue that a character on This is Us spoke.  He was trying to explain death and life somehow by using a painting full of brush strokes and various colors going in many directions.... all over the canvas. We influence one another and are part of one another's story.  People we've loved and lost in this life and those generations in the past are part of who we are....

Sometimes a show comes along that is full of life and meaning and thought-provoking, really good interaction, dialogue and drama... I'm often in tears at the end of an episode because it touches something deep inside and shows me something of value and what relationships should be about. 

As parents we don't have control over how our children process situations or experiences they've had growing up. We can't control the conclusions they come to or how they see themselves. We can try to help them ... and we do... but each person is unique in how they see the world around them. That's why there can be two kids in the same family growing up with many of the same experiences and yet they can describe an event very differently... because of how they felt at the time.

Today I was thinking about struggles we have in real life. It doesn't matter if you were raised in the best family ever, it doesn't guarantee we will not have problems or issues or things we struggle with... Why? Because we are human. I've come to believe that I will never be perfectly right and healthy in this life. I think it's part of being imperfectly HUMAN. We are all managing being human. I know I sure am. Learning, growing... but always managing being human.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

cool breezes and safety

The air is cool as it filters though my window right now. If anyone can tell me why this gives me such joy I would really like to know. The fresh air... the coolness ... it delights me and makes me feel cleansed and renewed. I feel safe and loved somehow. I know... that seems kind of silly.

These cool days are in decline. Spring and Summer days will be here in Texas sooner rather than later....  so I savor the cool breezes of today...  and want to drink them in. There must be something in my past... my delightful childhood days that bring me back to this feeling .... I want to stay here. I feel secure. I feel wrapped up in warmth as this cold chill meets me ....

I felt safe as a child. I grew up feeling safe. I want every child to feel safe and loved as they grow.

Oh God. May it be so.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

home made

Home Made Coffee Creamer! Yum Yum Yum

Remember the times you did that thing that made you feel good and at peace? You were being productive and happy and felt like you were doing what you were meant to do?

We should do more of that.

My "things" have generally revolved around home... creating a feeling... getting my hands in the soil... baking... homespun.... being inspired... inspiring someone else .... surrounding myself with beauty ... writing...

Maybe I should open a coffee shop. I sure enjoy going to them. Or a book store. I like them too. Or a coffee shop that has books lying around.

Hmmm... maybe not, but ... something....

I don't know...

Just thinking.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

car accident

Today I was reminiscing about my car accident history. My first was soon after I got my license at 17 or 18 years old. My little car was hit broadside by a much bigger stronger-built vehicle which did mine a lot of damage. It wasn't my fault as the other driver was in the wrong, but it probably could have been avoided if I had more driving experience.

The second accident was when I was 22 years old. The driver was on my side of the road unfortunately, coming from the other direction. He crossed over the line and hit me head on. I was hurt and badly shaken up and taken away in an ambulance, my car totaled. I remember knocking on someone's door in the area and using their phone since it was way before cell phones... back in 1982. I was lucky or blessed or whatever you want to call it. I didn't have a seat belt on and had some cuts and scrapes. I got stitches and two black eyes to deal with for a while since my head hit and broke the windshield.

This accident wasn't my fault either.

The driver was going much too fast around a corner I could not see around... nor could he ... and the road was wet. This could have ended my life right there. I got a bit of insurance money for the car and for pain and suffering... I bet I could have gotten much more if I were the suing type.... I still have the scars....

Yesterday's accident was much less dramatic. I was slowly stopping at a red light near my home. I was stopped when the car behind me decided he'd use my car to stop his... instead of his breaks.

Again, not my fault. This guy was definitely a distracted driver and only he would be able to tell what actually happened. Was he talking on his phone? Was he texting? Was he looking down at messages. Just what was he doing other than paying attention to actually driving? There are unfortunately many people like that on the roads today.

So I'll now need to get it repaired and all the inconvenience of that. But the good thing is of course that no one was hurt.  It could have been worse ... and it reminded me that I haven't been in an accident in 35 years! Certainly something to be grateful for!

Friday, February 24, 2017

breakfast sausage from scratch

Without a doubt there is a difference between something you buy in the grocery store and something you make from scratch with fresh ingredients. Ingredients that you know are in their purest form with no preservatives or additives that cannot even be pronounced.

This is by far one of the best and tastiest things I've ever made. And it was easy. I made a big batch for freezing and the flavor is amazing. I'd be here for a long time if I had to think of all the wonderful adjectives to describe it. I will be making these again... probably for Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving and anytime whatsoever.

Fresh garlic, thyme and sage

If you ever wonder if fresh herbs are worth buying over ground dried herbs in a jar ... use fresh if possible... It really makes a difference.

ground turkey and ground pork and pure maple syrup

The recipe is HERE ......  and HERE. 

Not sure I could ever enjoy store-bought sausage again. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

health and when we hurt

I believe I have hurt my health over the more recent years by taking on the pain that I assume others are feeling. I had imagined Edd's pain, not just physical, but emotional and mental, and suffered with him. He actually seemed pretty happy most of the time. But I was deeply suffering. Then after he died I continued ... The same when I lost mom and I felt my dad's pain and loss (as well as my own) ... and the same with other family members. But we weren't meant to carry another's pain as our own. God says we are given grace for our own pains and burdens, not for someone else's.... I've been learning and relearning this for the last few years ... making progress, but it's still something I have to continually work on.

We can (and should) feel empathy for others and offer our love and kindness and help, but letting their suffering or pain become our own is not a burden our bodies are capable of bearing. It does absolutely nothing to help the situation and in fact makes things much worse.

How can we stop though? It is a form of anxiety and worry and a lack of trust that God is active and aware and present and cares. We need to revisit (if we've strayed) and once again embrace the fact that we do have a God who empathizes with us, hears us when we pray, sees us and knows how we feel. We do not have the power to change every bad situation as much as we might wish we could.

I've sometimes felt paralyzed by seeing so much suffering. I know there are many wonderful things happening all around the globe, but the horror stories can cause such anguish as we think of what some people have to endure because of their own failures and choices...  or by no fault of their own.

So no I can't make everything better or solve others' problems. We aren't meant to carry all the suffering of others.

But ... and here's the most amazing thing...  Jesus DID.

I read in Isaiah 53:4 that "Surely he has borne our sufferings and carried our sorrows"....

From what I understand, this was part of a string of prophesies about Jesus as our suffering servant and savior. It mirrored what he actually did on the cross for us. Did Jesus really do this? He bore our suffering and sorrows? He felt them? He took them upon himself? When he died for me, he took upon my pain and the pain of others and felt them in his own body? From what I know of taking on the pain of others this act of Jesus' is more than I could ever even imagine. It humbles me. It somehow comforts me and makes me grateful because I know he understands human suffering.

God works in mysterious ways. Remembering that and really embracing that truth is also helpful. It takes time for situations to work out and lessons to be learned. Sometimes people are lost in the process and that hurts. But giving our sorrows and sufferings to the one who understands is the best place to be to find spiritual health.... and physical, mental and emotional health as well.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Master Bedroom before and after

I have enjoyed updating my bedroom the past few weeks. Sleeping in a king-sized bed and only using a tiny space every night seemed a bit silly ... not to mention a little lonely... so I began by getting a new queen-sized mattress and new headboard.

It was nice during Christmas but I was still left with the ugly green walls. The New Year was beckoning me to start fresh and bright .... so this week I got the room painted and I'm very happy with the results!