Friday, December 26, 2008

Gift of Self Care


Been thinking of the best Christmas present one could give themselves. The gift of Care comes to mind. How does one truly care for oneself?

I find that folks often ignore their needs, give to others, depleting themselves in the process while losing the awareness of how to take care of themselves.

I have been paying particular attention to my spirit and my body to determine types of energy with the effort to increase positive flow in my life.

Here are a couple of things that have surfaced for me, please feel free to add to the list as you ponder with me.

1. In general, I feel good when I am watching movies or reading fiction. It takes the focus off of my life and story and I can think about other people or other stories.

2. Take a vitamin. Each time I take a vitamin I have a silent affirmation
that I am doing something good for me.

3. Cook a home cooked meal, without rush. Putz in the kitchen.

4. Take a nap. The best days for me include a nap. I feel a little selfish like I know I could be doing several other things-- but that makes it even more delicious.

5. Play a game or go somewhere special with the kids (zoo, Franklin Park
Conservatory, road trip). Whenever I do one of these things, I feel like
I am a good mother.

I remember taking the kids to Niagara Falls and we were on a bus heading to some site and tears came to my eyes. After reflecting, I realized that I felt good about the experiences we were having and hoped the kids would remember special times together. This happens when we go really special places or even when we are close to home. Anyway, feeling like a good mom really helps me feel good overall. I think we as parents always feel like we fall short. Revelling and basking in the goodness is worth doing.

6. Yoga. My body is more achey lately. I did buy a membership to Bally's
and found out the next day that they went belly up (ugh!). So, I am in
search of a reasonable option to get my exercise in. Stretching is much
needed but I really enjoy going to a gym or exercising with others. In the meantime, giving myself a good stretch is a good trick.
7. Spend time with friends (new and old ones). I sometimes feel isolated and alone-- with energy ebbing. There are many folks that care about me and would like to spend some quality time together. I think with the hustle and bustle of what needs doing, we sometimes forget to reach out and ask. My experience is that when I ask, I almost always get responded to with an enthusiastic, "Yes!". Why don't we ask more often? Not sure. Time to look around, make some connections, enjoy time and experience fellowship. Right after Christmas is a great time to do this.


I continue to pay attention and read the meter inside of me asking, "What gives you energy Erin?, What takes it away?" And then, adjust accordingly.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

You're a Really Good Cook Mom!


Alea and I were making brownies today and as she mixed I was working on the dinner entree for the evening. I was making White Bean Chicken Chili. She asked me if I was using her dad's recipe since it is one of his signature dishes and I explained that I was just following the recipe on the can of beans. I added that, "Your dad is a great cook, isn't he?" She said, "Yes.....and you are a really good cook too!" Well I was surprised to hear this- not because I am that horrible but just because it is not one of my strongest suits. If she said you are a really neat mom because you take us places, I would have nodded to myself, but this was interesting.


So, I decided to inquire further, "Alea, what food do you like when I cook it?" She quickly said, "I really like your creamy tomato soup."


I said: "Alea, that soup is from Trader Joes." "Oh, I know" she said, "but I like the way YOU cook it." "Ah." It must be my magic touch as I stir it. I do use a whisk to get all lumps out-- maybe that counts some how.


I do think I consider nutrition and have pretty well balanced meals. I suppose I could work harder at the art of cooking to get a better effect, but that would mean I would need to change a bit. Hmm, something to think about for 2009.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tied up in Knots

Kye asked me to help him with his shoes because he has not yet mastered the art of tying. He worked on one shoe to untie the double knot while I worked at the other -prepping to go outside. As he successfully untied the knot, I made a mental note that he is not helpless and that he could probably take care of this in the future, while saying outloud: "Good job Kye!"

To that he responded, "I am a clever boy, don't you know......."

Yes you are Kye, thanks for the reminder...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Curious Heart



The neat thing about this concept is that no matter what you think the stethoscope would reveal, the reality is that He is inside of you. I have had a knowing that God is in us, I think with some people he is hidden deep inside, kept there covered by bitterness and pain-- but He is there.

The key here, I think, is to allow ourselves to express and feel love; create an openness to what is being offered. Often we are driven by fear or insecurity, when all the while, if we are patient and and believe it, love is within our sphere of influence.

What if we could experience the Halleluia Chorus just for the asking; fill our lives with love by having faith, live fresh and joyously through gratitude?

The man's curiousity and willingness to see what is within is what I like the best about this short video.

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
e e cummings (1894 - 1962)

Warm tender lips kiss,
Gentle hands touch hips,

Cheeks caress one another
Knowing there is none other,

Cuddle up
Nuzzle in
Safe and warm
Hearts given

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hot N Cold

You ever hear a song on the radio and get to dancing in your head? This happened as I was driving home tonight. I had to look this one up -close the blinds, dance like a maniac, repeat, sing at the top of my lungs (I might even have sounded good), repeat again-- now I am horse, but it was worth it.

The syncopation of this song is fast and fun. The words are relevant to me and quite catchy-- if you can keep up with them. I got out of breath with this one--probably because of the gusto with which I was singing. I need to work out these lung muscles more. Oh, I need to work out my dancing muscles too!-- Anyone ready to get your groove on? Watch out world!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Colding Up

Kye fiddling with the Christmas tree, placing an ornament says, "Mom is it Christmas?"

I say, "Not yet, but we are warming up to it...."

Kye: "Mom, don't you mean that we are colding up to it?"

I say, "Exactly right, Kye! We ARE colding up to it!"

Stuck in Reverse

We watched a wonderful movie last night called "Young @ Heart".It was fun to watch it with my dad and step mom along with my kids-- spanning generations. Each of us laughed and cried during the movie. This documentary is about senior citizens who joined a choral group that sings rock songs. It shares stories about the participants- their goals and aspirations, body ailments, and relationships.

There is one song that they sing by Coldplay that sent waves of emotion across the room. The guy singing had just lost his co-singer to cancer. He sang with such a sense of loss. Most of us understand loss and can relate.

Here is the video:



The name of the song is "Fix You".
Coldplay
Fix You


When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home,
And ignite your bones,
And I will try to fix you,

High up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Here is Coldplay singing, with the lyrics (whole song):

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ladies in Black

I found this photo in a basket at my aunt's house that resides on the floor beside her tv console. The basket has all kinds of photos of family and friends. This one is of my dad and his brother with some friends of theirs. My dad is the one paddling, big smile on his face-- donning cool shades. What were these boys doing with the ladies in black? A story just begging to be told. Stay tuned. My dad comes for a visit tomorrow, maybe I will get the scoop then.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Poem to Help Muster Courage


Figure it out for yourself, my lad,

You've all that the greatest of men have had;

Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,

And a brain to use if you would be wise,

With this equipment they all began.

So start from the top and say, "I can."



Look them over, the wise and the great,

They take their food from a common plate,

And similar knives and forks they use,

With similar laces they tie their shoes,

The world considers them brave and smart,

But you've all they had when they made their start.



You can triumph and come to skill,

You can be great if you only will.

You're well equipped for what fight you choose;

You have arms and legs and a brain to use,

And the man who has risen great deeds to do

Began his life with no more than you.



YOU are the handicap you must face,

You are the one who must choose your place.

You must say where you want to go,

How much you will study the truth to know;

God has equipped you for life, but He

Lets you decide what you want to be.



Courage must come from the soul within

The man must furnish the will to win.

So figure it out for yourself, my lad,

You were born with all that the great have had,

With your equipment they all began,

Get hold of yourself and say: "I can."
Anonymous
I am trying to muster up the courage to start fresh, begin again and realize that I am equipped to do so. I remind myself that the world is a big place, with many mysteries, many opportunities and they are there for the taking. Energy is the key. Where you place your energy, how you spend your time, what thoughts you allow into your conscious-- these are the keys to moving forward. I choose to believe that I have a world to offer-- now to find the place where my gifts are best received.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Feet

Just a quick note to get in the swing of things. It has been a long time since I have posted. I suppose I have been a bit down in the dumps lately and it has effected my desire to write. I think that will change soon . As I have reflected on the recent past, I do have things to share.

This one is related to a visit at the Franklin Park Conservatory- an engaging place. As we walked from exhibit to exhibit, Alea would do a fancy footwork walk. I asked her to share it on camera and she was willing to oblige. The funny thing is that she was just doing this as a matter of course-- expressing joy in each step, playing with each step. It reminds me to seize those moments and sing, dance or whatever-- who cares who is looking. In fact, as I witness others expressing joy, I usually smile along or have a silent wish to join in or have a bit of jealousy. So watch out world, I seek my joy and plan to revel in it!!

Here is Alea and her happy feet:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Old School

My friend Chelahnnhe's son has a project where he needs to track 80 people's choices about their old school music favorite. I would like your help here. Look at the list below and pick your favorite and post a comment with your choice:

Prince
Micheal Jackson
Run DMC
Biggie Smalls
Temptations

He will need your first and last name as well. I thought it would be fun to help in this way. I will comment back and let you know my favorite as well........

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Healing and Happiness

Found this video that gives tips on diet and other particular actions to heal oneself and experience happiness- intriguing thoughts:




Dr. Dean Ornish: Healing and other natural wonders

What's for Dinner?

Well I am stuck. I am having dinner guests on Sunday and I have no idea what to serve. I am having some kind of brain fart- not sure I can explain it. So here is the scoop:

One of the guests is allergic to milk. I cannot seem to get past my compulsion to have mashed potatoes. Other than that, I am coming up empty- any idears?

Comment or email me your thoughts.....hmm.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Fall

As I was driving today in my car that looks like a toaster on wheels, I saw leaves blustering and littering the streets. The sun was shining and the air was crisp. The kids were talking and singing as we bopped down the road.

As I used the word littering to describe the leaves, I realized that so much in our life is about how we choose to see our circumstances.

Fall is my favorite time of year. Leaves everywhere is a welcome happening to me. I am sure for some others, leaves falling represents more to pick up, a bit of messiness, the passing of summer. This concept gave me pause for thought.

Preferences exist for each of us and there are definitely situations that don't jive with who we are or speak to us. But, in general, we have the great power to choose our perspective- and the opportunity to appreciate what we have and what we experience.

I realize that I sometimes lose sight of this power, choosing to complain or allow discontentment to creep in. The fact is that most folks I run into these days are somewhat discontent. I have come to the fact that it may not be so much about circumstances but choices in perspective, day to day, that really determine true happiness. Often I just need to reroute my thinking to get to a better place- remind myself of the hidden chances; see the beauty of the moment and be open to all possibilities that exist.
The other action on the path to true happiness is that of letting go, but I will save that topic for another post.......

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Wag more;
bark less.

Alea and the Squishy Pillow

I have this two pillow system for total sleeping pleasure. The bottom pillow is firm, skinny and gives form to this ultimate system, while the top pillow is filled with down, soft and very malleable. The top pillow is also skinny so the whole set up is not one that gives a crick in the neck.

My daughter Alea also sees the value of this system and covets this opportunity. At any given moment she will try to sneak the goods. This does put a cramp in my style and provides dilemmas. Do I put my foot down and demand for it to be returned to the rightful owner or decide to share and live without? My responses have been mixed thus far, depending on my charitable mood-- or my desperate need for a good nights sleep.

So, a different dilemma had surfaced as Alea's birthday approaches. Do I attempt to purchase a squishy pillow for her, or is "the pillow" THE pillow, given it's significant value within our world? She tends to like items from me -- like wearing my clothes as bed clothes and such. I have 7 days to figure out this world class issue- what will I do?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reunion

I went to my class reunion this past weekend. It was a bit awkward since I don't have many memories from that time period. I did see some of my teachers- Math, Choir and English and was reminded of my love for my Latin teacher- Sr. Mary Sheila (God rest her soul). One woman said I must be smoking something to have liked her as a teacher. Truth be told, I liked teachers that believed in me and expected great things from me. She demanded hard work from us students and I worked well under that kind of support.


I had random thoughts during my experience there, just thought I would jot them here:

  • It seemed that many people I ran into did not yet find thier sense of purpose. A general feeling that their lives were not adequate in some way. I think it is normal for us to wonder why we are put on this earth and want to know that we are fullfilling a purpose.

  • The class of 1983 were rebels. If I remember correctly we were often in trouble. One example of this was that our class did not have a yearbook, somehow we lost that opportunity for not doing what we were expected to do. But, being the rebels we were-- we created our own memory book in protest. It had some original artwork, senior pictures and some quotes in the back-- quite a feat from an organizational standpoint.
  • On a cellular level, I appreciate the education I received. St. Joseph Academy was and is still a great school. It is where I began to believe that I could and should attend college. I was one of the poorest kids in school and they treated me like any other awkward teenager roaming the halls. I took advanced science classes, high level math, typing, choir, peace and justice, death and dying, had an internship at NASA, was on the mime team and many other opportunities that helped shape me.
  • At dinner as I was reflecting over my life and the course of events that lead me to that moment. I felt comfort in knowing that I have been living my mission-- to help people reach their true potential--for most of my life. I am truly fortunate to feel that connection.

  • People said I still look like my picture and I think they meant it as a compliment. It was a lovely gesture. I still feel young and fresh-- especially since there were some folks there who were celebrating their 70th reunion- Wow. They had 8 classes present and celebrating during the evening. The class of '58 had 58 attendees --wow again!

  • Lastly, everyone has a story to tell. There are old stories, current stories and future stories that plant seeds of what is yet to come. I met some beautiful and vibrant women at the reunion and they each had unique tales. I was grateful to hear some of the stories from that time period; it helps to fill in around the edges where I can't remember.

So, here is to my alma mater- St. Joseph Academy. Thanks for the opportunities you opened up for me. I am almost certain that I would not be where I am today had it not been for you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ugh.

Been sick all day. Went to the doctor and he said the I have some kind of bacterial infection. After a breathing treatment and 4 prescriptions I was finally out the door after a 3 hour stop. The doctor was worried about my breathing- took care of things though.

I am tired and just want to relax. I am supposed to eat something, but I don't really have an appetite. The medicine I am supposed to take with food increases appetite. Go figure.

I usually don't complain about things but today I just feel like whining.

I did have energy when I first woke up and I cleaned out my car, washed it down and replaced my head lamp bulb. Thanks to Papa and a guy I met in the aisle at the parts store, I got all the information I needed to do the job myself. Big tip: don't touch the halogen glass bulb- it will cease to work.


Monday, October 13, 2008

6 things you may not know about me:


1. I have a pen and paper fetish. I keep it under wraps and I don't go all wild, but truth be told, I have a secret fondness for blue pens and specialty notebooks. It is always tempting to buy a new journal for this reason.

2. I don't believe in coincidences. Synergy happens and it happens all around me-- especially when I am open to it. I believe that there is wisdom to be had in these small but significant happenings. I don't pretend to understand all of them, but that just makes them more mystical.

3. I have over 15 types of tea to choose from in my cupboard, but my favorite is just plain Lipton. I love offering and fixing tea for others. It is a part of my Irish heritage and something I hold dear. If you were to visit Ireland you would see how tea is a fundamental part of their culture. Tea anyone?

4. I sleep with my mouth open (luckily I don't snore).

5. Most items in my house have been given to me. I often joke that I have a sign on my forehead that says, "give me things". I am fortunate to have a lovely eclectic home donned with these items-- probably due to some of you and I thank you.

6. I am a seeker of truth. I try to stay open and hear both sides of a story; I don't mind sharing my thoughts always seeking to solidify them as I gather data. I am not intimidated by contrary suppositions or different opinions-- however, I do get off put by others that don't give me the same courtesy.

Howaboutyou? Things that you would like to share?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't Wear Fear

I was watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium again and it is just chock full of good stuff despite what the critics say. At a certain point a boy is trying to make friends with someone even though he does not have much practice. It is at this point in the movie that Cat Stevens song, "Don't Be Shy" is played, and it was a this point that a warm, wonderful feeling came over me.

First of all, Cat Stevens or Yusuf Islam is my all time favorite vocalist. His voice is smooth and steady. He uses his voice creatively and has interesting transitions. But, mostly, I like Cat because of his words. It is clear that this man has something to say.

Below I share with you a video of him performing "Don't Be Shy". What is amazing is that he sounds just like he did when I first started listening, which was quite awhile ago ( I purchased a 10 pack of 45s at the local convenience store when I was in grade school to play on my suitcase record player). It looked something like this. I heard his song "Old School Yard" and it intrigued me enough to purchase a whole album. That was how my love of Cat began.

Anyway, "Don't Be Shy" has a particular meaning for me at this juncture in my life. I know, those of you who know me probably think the last thing I am is shy (I can be) but, the song is really about facing fear. How to deal with fear and how to express feelings. He reminds me that if I wear fear, no one will know that I am here. And I am so here.

Below the song, I have listed the lyrics- they are simple and beautiful. He has put things in the context of world peace now. I think the application is for every day use too.


Don't Be Shy-- Cat Stevens
Don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead
And don't be shy, just let your feeling roll on by
On by
You know love is better than a song
Love is where all of us belong
So don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
You're there
Don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead
And don't be shy, just let your feeling roll on by
On by, on by, etc.
As I was showering this morning, my kids bounded in asking if they could have candy. Alea was succint and to the point- she was clear about what she wanted and I was able to easily answer. Kye however started like this:

Kye: Mom, can I have some candy?
Mom: What candy?
Kye: Any candy I want?

(it was clear this would take a minute as I continued to wash my hair).

Mom: Where is this candy you want? (I did not want them to dig into the Halloween candy hidden in the front closet).

Kye: (Silent thinking- then a quick decision to bring the candy to me).

He brought in the green bowl with assorted candy and asked: Can I have any one that I want?

Mom: Sure.....(hesitation on my part)

This sounded like a trick question......hmm

Kye: Even the one with trash on it?

Mom: Show me...

I had to see this. Turns out he wanted to open a package that had a Pez dispenser with several candy pieces. So his question was two fold: Can I open a package (are we saving this for something) and, can I eat all the candy that comes in the package?

His simple question got me thinking though. It is my hope that he may ask in the future: Can I have the candy packaged with the recyclable material?

By the way, I said yes, with the caveat to not eat all the candy. And, to my surprise, he followed directions. Pez candy can be addicting :-)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fear of Transformation

I happened to find this writing buried in a box amongst my past bills, kid's poetry, tax information and various other peices of paper. I thought it was more than a coincidence that this particular exerpt fell in my lap. I share this with you knowing that each of us have had moments of hanging in uncomfortable spaces.
From The Essene Book of Days by Danaan Parry http://www.earthstewards.org/

"Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I'm hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.

Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I'm in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers.

But once in a while, as I'm merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It's empty, and I know, in that place that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness going to get me. In my heart-of-hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well known bar to move to the new one.

Each time it happens to me, I hope (no, I pray) that I won't have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moment in time hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn't matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing, I have always made it. Each time I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on the unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars. But I do it anyway.

Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging onto that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of "the past is gone, the future is not yet here."

It's called transition. I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.

I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a "no-thing", a no-place between places. Sure the old trapeze-bar was real, and that new one coming towards me, I hope that's real too. But the void in between? That's just a scary, confusing, disorienting "nowhere" that must be gotten through as fast as unconsciously as possible.

What a waste! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid, where the real change, the real growth occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out-of-control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.

And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to "hang- out" in the transition between trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening, in the true sense of the word. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly."
So, I reach for the trapeze bar; take risks and bravely head into the void. Wanna join me?

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Magnificent Cook


Here is a video of my grandmother baking one of her favorite desserts: Kuchen. It was filmed on a 8 millimeter camera and has all the quirks that come with that. This video is fun and even involves a bit of magic. A big thank you to my Aunt Kathleen and my Uncle Tom for sending these along.

Below, I have the recipe for Kuchen. The video really does help when trying to figure out the construction of the master piece. I will try to explain to the best of my ability as well.

Kuchen (Swedish Tea Ring)

Mix together:

1 1/2 cups warm water and 2 packages of yeast

Mix together:

1 1/2 cups of lukewarm milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 tsp of salt, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 of 7 1/2 cups of sifted flour.

Directions:

Mix both mixtures together until smooth. Add flour to handle easily, mix by hand. On a lightly floured board, knead until smooth (5 minutes). Round up in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) till double in size (1 1/2 hours). Punch down and rise again (30 minutes).

Construction:

Roll out dough on floured surface. Brush with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, raisins, walnuts, apples and cinnamon. Roll up into a log roll. Pinch ends together to form a ring. Using kitchen shears, cut at 1 inch intervals toward the center of the ring, twisting sections as you go --forming a daisy like pastry. Video demonstration helpful here.

Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes- until golden brown. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spatial Relations

Today I went to the movie house with my daughter and two nieces. We had a great time and saw a quality movie: Kit Kittridge: An American Girl. After the movie, the girls made a pit stop as I waited patiently in the lobby. I chose a spot right in the middle of the foyer- not many were around and I had the lobby to myself mostly. I could people watch as folks came and went- always interesting.

A family was leaving the theater and had an 8 year oldish child with them. Their trajectory path could connect with mine if I stayed put. The mother and father of the unit moved over some but the boy came within inches of me. It was no apparent big deal to him, but it did strike me as an odd choice. Now you could ask why I did not move in this case but the reality was that there was a very big lobby and I was just taking up 2 feet of space- with no one else around- so I felt it was OK to stand my ground.

But it was more interesting for me to ponder the concept of spacial relations as it relates to children. I really thought it was a phenomenon only with my children. I am forever coaching and correcting them as we travel isles within grocery stores. It is like they don't know folks get uncomfortable when you get close to them. I say things like, "Notice that someone is near you and move out of their way.......Did you see that man? He had to wait for you to move in order to look at the canned goods............Leave room for others to pass you.....etc.".

In my own kitchen, while we are cooking or doing dishes, it is not unusual for a child to wedge themselves between me and the cupboard to get a dish or cup. All without an "excuse me". I wonder if they think we are ghosts, either that, or objects that are easily moved to get to the real target.

I know my kids are courteous, use polite language, say thank you and ask for things on most occasions appropriately, but this is an area they seem to have less couth. How can I teach them to respect others' space. Mini lectures so far have not worked in shedding light on the subject . Any advice out there? Anyone else have this "problem"?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Plain and Simple Truth

When asked what kind of birthday cake Quinn wanted he simply replied, "croissants". So we purchased them from the authority on french cuisine: LeChatelaine. During a prior visit to this fine restaurant, Frank and I decided to treat the kids to a fancy dessert. Quinn opted for a croissant rather than the fancy stuff. He waited patiently for 10 minutes or so as we all chomped (they did not have any in the display case and were kind enough to bake some special at Quinn's request).

When his croissant fresh from the oven was delivered, the other kids drooled at the sight of it--tarts and cookies in the shape of mice were not cutting it anymore. A chorus of "shouldn't Quinn share?" and "I wish we would have gotten that!" dampened the ambiance of luxury at our table. It was then that I made a mental note that decadence can come in very plain and simple packages.

So when I asked Quinn what he wanted for his birthday dinner this year, his easy answer was perogies and croissants-- I went with the flow and it was a beautiful thing. So, tonight our menu included tempura shrimp, perogies, fresh salad with tomatoes from the garden, followed by croissants and ice cream. Good stuff. Smiles and chomping noises were had all around.


Note: 12 candles are hard to place on a croissant.

Getting to Prime


Kye: Hey Mom, how did the painting get on my sippie cup? Did someone paint on it?

Mom: Well, it isn't exactly painting, it was put on there by a machine, it is plastic.

Kye: (thinking)

Kye: Mom, who made the machine?

Mom: Someone did.

Kye: Gee, it probably took days to create the whole world.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Intimacy


Intimacy
Looking into your lover's eyes
Knowing that you are safe
Holding with love and intention
Sharing space
Taking risks, trying things
Accepting one another- flaws and all
Paying attention
Holding hands, quick kisses, gentle touches
Connections from across the room
Sharing secrets, telling stories
Wondering out loud
Feeling at home
Completely free

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Go Green!


I applied to have our household become a Green Spot here in Columbus. It was quite easy and it served as a reminder about how we can make small commitments within our local influence that can make a big difference in the bigger world. Below are the specific commitments that we are making as a family. Businesses can apply too. If you are interested in becoming a Green Spot or seeing what makes households Green Spots in Columbus click here.

Here's how I will conserve energy
I will replace my regular incandescent light bulbs with high-efficiency compact fluorescent ones.
I will purchase foods, goods, and services that are grown or produced close to home.
I will turn my thermostat up in the summer, and down in the winter.

Here's how I will conserve water
I will water my yard only once a week.
I will install a rain barrel in my yard to collect rainwater, and use it to water my plants.
I will run my dishwasher and washing machine only when they're full.

Here's how I will reduce, recycle and reuse
I will carry reusable bags when I shop.
I will choose products that use less packaging and less harmful material.
I will avoid one-use items such as paper plates.
I will buy small amounts of items that have a short shelf life and bulk amounts of items that don't go bad quickly.
I will donate unused or unwanted items instead of throwing them away-and explore thrift stores instead of always buying something new.
I will recycle paper, steel, glass, and plastic by using my local curbside subscription program.
I will separate my yard waste (like grass clippings and leaves) from other trash, and leave it by the curb on my assigned day.

I am committed to becoming a GreenSpot.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Outage

Well there are a few things that I am learning as I sit in the dark in the evenings here in Columbus, Ohio during the outage from hurricane Ike.

1. After not having tea for 3 days, it seems that I am officially addicted to caffeine as evidenced by the splitting headaches. I have pledged to curb this habit. It is hard mainly due to the fact that enjoying tea feels like a part of my heritage- being Irish and all. Nothing better than a good "cuppa" as my Aunt Bridie used to say.

2. It is good to think of the outage as an extended camping trip. Afterall, we have paid for such experiences. The difference is that I generally plan to the hilt for a camping trip- note to self- do a little more planning for such circumstances in the future.

3. When you don't have lights, place things in very predictable places things like phones, keys, matches etc.

4. Games are really fun. The kids pulled out a few this week and it was clear that they had a great time. Forcing the issue helped since computer games and tv often get first billing when lights are on. With this new found knowledge, I am planning on declaring game nights in the future (I actually know games are fun, I just needed to be reminded).

5. Dead limbs coming off trees is a good thing--especially if they don't hit houses or cars. Some of my neighbors were not as fortunate as I but all in all- everyone was safe and now has fire wood. I learned from a neighbor how to prune an apple tree in my back yard (yes I have apples!) and I plan to study up on this. Cleaning up clutter, or getting rid of dead fall is a good metaphor in many parts of my life.

We still don't have power and the electric company is saying it may not be turned on until Sunday at midnight (between Sunday and Monday). The main issue for us is figuring out what to eat. The grill and fresh foods have come in handy this week.

By the way, I went to our local Kroger's store and they were throwing away frozen foods by the shopping cart. It gave me a taste of what it must be like if we were in the eye of the storm so to speak. Can you imagine no food, water or other essentials? And, we think we have it bad as we ponder in the dark.

It has been interesting thinking about what it must have been like in the pioneer days. The biggest thing I have missed has been reading and blogging. I would have been bored out of my skull in the winter as it gets dark at 6:00, or maybe they found ways to amuse themselves otherwise.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cultural Experience

A couple of weeks ago we went to an event down by the riverside behind COSI that was put on by BalletMet. The snippet we got to see was enjoyable and kept the kid's attention. We were interrupted by an impending thunderstorm. This is a clip from one of the performances. The dance was choreographed to Simon and Garfunkel music- lively and cleverly arranged.

When I take my kids to events like this it often brings a tear to my eye. I feel like I am exposing them to good stuff and that I am doing right by them as a mother. I know there is much more to being a good mother, but somehow I get a twinge of emotion during times like these.

Oh, and I think it is cool that my kids can see men in an alternate role- yet still manly role. Nothing like a man that can dance.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Breakfast Review

Mom: What did you have for breakfast today?
Kye: Bagel with cream cheese, oatmeal and that fruit.
Mom: What was the name of the fruit?
Kye: I don't know.
Mom: Grapes?
Kye: No. It has a hard outside and keeps all the good juice in.
Mom: Apple?
Kye: Nope.
Mom: What color was it?
Kye: Orange.
Mom: You mean an orange?
Kye: Yeah.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Social Experiment

My aunt Lori sent this video link to me and it is one of the cooler things I have seen. Have you ever done a social experiment? Share it here if you are willing. I will post one that I have done recently soon. Here is a social experiment that was done in New York City, Frozen in Grand Central Station:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Doctors should teach nutrition
not pharmaceutical addiction.
What do you think?

Pass it On

I was listening to the Wailers as we were putszing around town today. It occurred to me in a flourish that this is one of the more beautiful songs I have heard. Below are the lyrics. I am still trying to figure out the "why behind" some of the word choices but it is clear that this song is a reminder to love one another, pay attention to your heart, and live in the light. And with my hand cupped over my mouth, leaning into your ear, I whisper -- "Pass it on......."

Bunny Wailer
Pass it On


What your hands do,
It's your own eyes that see,
So won't you judge you're actions
To make sure the results are clean.
It's your own conscience that is gonna remind you
That it's your heart and nobody else's
That is gonna judge.

Be not selfish in your doings,
Pass it on
Help your brothers in their needs
Pass it on
Live for yourself - you will live in vain
Live for others - you will live again
In the kingdom of Jah Man shall reign
Pass it on,...

What's in the darkness
Must be revealed to light
We're not here to judge what's good from bad
But to do the things that are right
On a hot sunny day
Under the shadow is rescue
But as the day grows old
No one under the sun will find you

Be not selfish in your doings,
Pass it on
Help your brothers in their needs
Pass it on
Live for yourself - you will live in vain
Live for others - you will live again
In the kingdom of Jah Man shall reign
Pass it on,...


Feel Good

I find myself bubbling with project ideas and tasks that need to be dealt with over this weekend. The tasks float around in my consciousness vying for attention as my body and spirit hesitate- not knowing which to do first. I can get immobilized by these daunting thoughts and get stuck not accomplishing anything- even with the greatest intentions. And being an idealist I can set unrealistic goals and get exasperated in the end.

But today is different. It began with a pivotal moment where I stopped and asked myself a question.
I started my day with an errand for a friend and set about thinking about getting other things done as well. I headed for the car and I paused, with chagrin, as I realized that I forgot to load the car up with the recyclables. I was tempted to just keep the momentum going and forget about it, but it is then that I asked myself a question, "Erin, right now what would feel good to you, if you did it?". A simple question really.

It was at that moment that I realized that I want to feel good today and I want my actions of the day to reflect that. So, I turned the car off and got the recyclables and grabbed some wipes to wipe off my dash at stop lights (that will make me feel good- do that!). So I did. Recycle bin empty, dash clean- no longer sticky with this gosh awful stuff that Quinn tried out- spray candy. In travel, the spray candy ended up sticking to the dash, while my hair brush deposited a few hairs into the mix - gross!

After finishing my errand, I asked the question again: "Erin, what can you do right now, to feel good?" I did an inventory and realized I had a pie in the fridge at work that was gifted to me and should be taken home and a proposal that is mostly done but needs a few finishing touches. That would feel good to have that done as I walk in on Monday morning. So, I did. Pie for tonight (with vanilla ice cream) and proposal on boss' chair. Yeah!

Seems like a super simple concept - not sure why it has taken me so long to employ. I suppose this is where the Just Do It campaign came from. But for me, it began with the question, then quick analysis to discern which thing to do and then the immediate move to take action.

Leaving the shoulds behind and moving to action is one of the keys to my happiness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Woundedness


I have been researching about the effects of emotional abuse. It is becoming clearer to me that emotional abuse is an attempt on a person's part to control their environment. Usually fear is at it's base. Fear of further hurt, fear of abandonment, fear of trusting too much, fear of real intimacy. In general, I think inflicting emotional abuse is an indicator that someone is living out the abuse they have shouldered in the past.
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Their reactions can include abuse through words: overbearing opinions, always needing to be right, judging others, putting people down, humor at the expense of others, guilt giving, preaching, dredging up history (not letting go of past"sins"), and the silent treatment. Or, abuse can come through actions: regimented routines-militaristic expectations, venting- screaming or complaining- verbally unloading anger on others, intimidation -"if you don't do this, then.....", extreme expression of mood swings, favortism, role reversal (child needing to parent the parent), and the use of religion for control and judgement. (Categories and concepts came from a book I am reading: Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse).
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Actually these are the effects of emotional abuse. We become anxious, have difficulty making decisions, are hypervigilant, hypersensitive, insecure, veiw love as a risk, experience body break down, second guess ourselves, experience energy loss, become apathathetic, feel rage, and have a sense of disconnectedness. Emotional abuse is damaging to our sense of self. Sometimes we perpetuate the abuse by becoming muted, skittish, put ourselves down, acquiesce to others rather than having our own opinion.
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Emotional abuse is messy business.

The interesting thing I am coming to is that most folks that are emotionally abusive to others are stuck. They may not even want to continue the abuse cycle- yet they are fearful enough that reaching for help is too risky. Doing that may mean that they would need to face the fact that in their own pain, they have hurt others.

Healing comes from acknowledging the truth, having compassion for oneself and choosing a different path- ultimately taking a risk to do something about it. This requires faith and often times trust. Tall orders for folks that have been and are currently feeling hurt.
I think of the metaphor of a dog that has been beaten. The dog may not be able to recognize a loving touch and may vicously bite a kind hand in anticipation of continued pain (this can happen even if the approach is slow and tender). In this process the one who is trying to love, gets bitten. The dog is clearly the victim here, yet in his/her victimized state, she/he has victimized a loved one.

Pain does not justify hurting others.

I think there are times when we don't see the pain we are inflicting. We scratch our heads and wonder why folks avoid us or why conversations turn sour. Feeling misunderstood ensues. We don't realize we are biting people in response to some past hurt (the reaction comes out of the past- even if the person is hurting us in the present). We have been triggered.

Now that is not to say that every approach is innocent, or that good intentions always exist- but in general, if we are in a healthy place, we can make our needs known, set limits and express our pain without hurting the other person. The tricky part is that if the other person is or has been emotionally abused as well, they may react inappropriately too, causing a triggerfest. The once kind hand that was going to love the dog, gets bitten and then in that pain, hits the dog- rebuking the the dog for the pain inflicted. All the while, trust and contentment go out the window. The cycle continues.

I recognize that the key to the ultimate health for me is to express love for myself and stop reacting out of my wounded self. I found a good resource online that talks about loving the wounded you.

"As long as we keep reacting out of black and white polarized thinking, we are powerless to change our patterns. Recognizing we were powerless out of ego self to do anything but react, creates the space to allow us to start changing our relationship with ourselves and stop being our own worst enemy. Recognizing our powerlessness to control life out of ego, helps us to begin to take power away from the feeling of toxic shame and start forgiving ourselves.

Awakening to the futility, the inherent dysfunction, of allowing our early childhood ego programming to define us and run our lives - and our powerlessness to change that until we became conscious that it needed to, and could, be changed - begins the process of learning to

Love ourselves, and creates the space to start being open to relaxing and enjoying life. By learning to stop empowering polarized reaction to the toxic shame, we can start being honest enough with ourselves to own our responsibility in how our lives have unfolded so that we can make amends to our self and others - and that allows us to start changing our behavior and relationship patterns substantially and significantly."
-Robert Burney
Attack on America - A Call for Higher Consciousness Chapter 5

Emotional abuse is probably at the root of most of the unrealized dreams of those whom I have had the pleasure to work with. And as I write this, I realize that emotional abuse is also at the root of much of the dysfunctional interactions I have with those I love. Given this, it seems to be worth a good study.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Suffering

So I am reading a book that I will mention later, but first, I quote:

"Not everyone comes from a family with spirited and inspiring stories. Some of you grew up surrounded by perpetual sadness, anger, bitterness and negativity even about the "good stuff". Of course that will make it difficult for you to do other than what you've been indoctrinated into; difficult does not mean impossible. First you must have the awareness that embracing suffering is a learned response, a habit."

This got me to thinking. As a social worker I hear a lot about people's suffering. I hear about suffering within my work world, in my family, with friends and of course, I experience my own suffering. And, growing up as I did, I learned to cope with suffering- sometimes blaming others, other times forgiving too easily, and at other times forgetting the whole circumstance.

Questions surface for me. How long do you hold onto suffering? Do others deserve blame? Is forgiveness unwarranted? If someone hurts you- do you tell them? Should they feel your spite- because they deserve it? What if they did not mean to hurt you, but they did? Or, is forgiveness always a good course? When does suffering become a pattern or a habit rather than a truism within the context of your circumstance?
I know there are times when we have reminders of past hurts that rise up when we are with others. Sometimes, we have reactions at the mere hint of past suffering that can totally confuse/hurt friends, acquaintances and loved ones. Sometimes we cause the wounds. How do we chose to let go of the pain?

The fact is that people screw up all the time; they are so darn fallible. And, on top of that, they probably have had shitty experiences that contributed to their approach and reactions. An example of this is my mom. I had great empathy for her. Her life was difficult at best and she spent much of it in an unhappy place. She was bitter and angry- I think she thought she had a raw deal. In this, she did not always express herself in a loving way, often was cold and demanding, and worked to manipulate us to express some kind of control in her life. I say this only to demonstrate a point; not to disrespect my mother. (I think, in time, and through healing, she eventually found her happy place).

Anyway, after much struggle, I found a way to love my mom and I found ways to curb her manipulative behaviors but ultimately, there came a time when I expressed empathy for her and chose forgiveness rather than dish out bitterness and scorn toward her. We had the great fortune to start fresh. The change started with me- not her, the "offender". Altering my reactions, setting limits and offering non conditional love transformed things. I thank God that I took the risk and she was willing to go there with me. She was a strong lady.

I have found that for some things it is important to talk about what happened and express the hurt. For others, it is important to choose relationship over the pain- change the dynamic. Other times, it may be necessary to let go of the relationship entirely. One of the hardest things though is to forgive or love someone who has wronged you when you don't understand or have empathy for what they are going through.
What I do know or believe is that most folks want to be good to others. When something goes tilt it usually means they have been hurt significantly somehow. So that loud mouthed braggart at work, the negative relative that complains about everyone, the bible thumping fundamentalist, or the distant, cold shoulder lover is most likely bearing suffering within.

I am realizing that we have choices. We can stay in the "isn't it horrible that........" place or we can do something about it- regardless what the other person does. And, of course there is always therapy to sort through the whole mess. Then again, we would have to want to break the habit of suffering to make these choices.

The book the quote came from is called: stop whining, START LIVING by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. So far the reading has been palatable- I was not so sure when I first picked up the book.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tsehaye Yohans

Found this video as I was trying to find footage of my cousin YoHans- thought it was pleasant and uplifting. Who couldn't use a lift? Wonder what they are talking about? Seems like they aren't taking themselves too seriously. There may be a lesson in that..........

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Go with the Flow

Went canoeing with the kids and their friends. Kye could not go because you need to be 6 to go down the river. We had a great time. Saw all kinds of creatures including: turtles, a kingfisher, water striders, turkey vultures, tadpoles..........

The day was a balmy 75 degrees and we were on the water at 11:00 am - had the river (creek really) all to ourselves. Each of us had turns steering and power stroking. The kids learned about canoe safety, some strokes and how to get each other wet "unintentionally". All and all it was a great day.

This was the first real trip of adventure I have gone on with the kids- or at least the first trip in a long while. And, it reminded me of the passion I have for the outdoors.

A couple of thoughts occurred to me as we traveled down the creek:
The first is that I forgot my cell phone in the car and as I was playing out scenarios in my head, I realized that I preferred being unburdened and I was assured that we would be able to figure out how to solve whatever pickle we could get into- it may be inconvenient or taxing, but we would be OK. I felt a sense of release- almost like this is the way it is supposed to be.....

The second was that I realized that in my excitement for the trip, I was tense as I was paddling- gripping the handle, pushing hard; unsettled to a degree. I found myself having an internal dialog after awhile that sounded like this, "relax, feel your muscles moving, drop your shoulders, breathe........., pay attention to what is around you, play......."- kind of a meditation of sorts.

Sometimes, it just takes becoming aware of what I am experiencing (tension) that can help me redirect my energy- a wake up call so to speak. My little canoe trip was a reminder to me to go with the flow- enjoy the ride,....... be.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dan the Man


This is a picture of me back in college- some 20 years ago. In the picture is my friend Dan who recently died in a car accident. He was hit by a semi-truck, early in the morning as he was headed to a Boy Scout Reservation to volunteer his time. He has a wife and child he left behind. Dan and I belonged to a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and would argue politics (he was a staunch republican). To his credit he did not let this come between our friendship.
He is donning a t-shirt that advertises a special event we would have every year where we would create a huge banana split to raise money for charity. Loads of fun. He will be missed.
This is another reminder to me that time is precious and should not be wasted.
By the way, Lee and Dawn, I stole this picture from your house today- hope you don't mind- I will give it back :-)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Zucchini in the Garden

Picked my first zucchini from the garden and have been wondering what to do with it. Squash is not my favorite veggie, but I know it is good stuff nutritionally.

I came upon a blog today that talks about fried battered squash. I must admit it looks good. See for yourself here.

I also have made zuccanoes in the past with a recipe doctored up from the Moosewood Cookbook- very yummy, but the kids are not as fond of it and it requires baking, which in an un-airconditioned house does not appeal to me.

So, I will try this fried squash recipe and see how that goes over. By the way, I tried fried cheese at the North Market today- fantastic! That topped off with a smoothie from Bubbles and we were all set- a real treat.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Short Jaunt

So I went to Washington D.C. this past Monday - left Columbus around 3:00pm and arrived in Baltimore around 5:00 pm, took a shuttle to catch a train to D.C.. Checked into my hotel and decided to go for a walk around our nation's capital. In my travels I saw the Washington, Jefferson and Korean monuments. Walked about 5 miles in all.

And on my way I met a neat woman named Mary- we were both staring at the same building and both inquired about locations to monuments. We decided to walk together instead of apart and shared stories and vantage points from our parts of the world. She is from Louisiana and I from Columbus.

We passed by many organized sports on the green- mainly softball and kickball (Columbus does not have organized kickball :-(. There were also people walking dogs, running and what seemed to be people freshening up in the decorative water fountains.

After walking a long time, we decided to stop at a refreshment stand - had a very cold water and a Dove Bar. It doesn't get much better than that- good company, good conversation, chocolate and stopping for a rest on a long journey.

On our path back to the hotel it was dark, we heard some commotion a block over and decided to see what was up. Turns out they were showing a movie on a big screen out on the open green. We took our sandals off, sat on the grass and watched a very funny, scary movie; Arsenic and Old Lace. What fun! Cheap; in the right place at the right time kind of fun.

It just proves that if you are open to it, good things will come.

I went back to the hotel, got a good night's sleep and did my presentation at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, ate at the luncheon and hopped back on the train to head home. I arrived in Columbus around 6:00pm- 25 hours later. Not bad for a short jaunt.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jesus Loves You

Pause for thought.

I don't have as much trouble conceptualizing some of the things in the video as our friend Greybloke here , but I do wonder about folks who feel it is necessary to categorize people into the "saved" or "not saved" category. It is my belief that God is a loving God and will make himself known to us through love. It is hard for me to base my faith on fear and condemnation. Grace and compassion are the qualities that have been my experience of God. Maybe I have it all wrong. But, if I do, I think I would chose my ignorance over the thought of a God of wrath and bitterness.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Two Timing


So, I bought lavender at Trader Joe's a couple of weeks ago and adorned my house with it, all the while, making the house smell good. But there came a time, a sad moment, when I felt the need to compost it- past the point of it's prime where decomposition was inevitable.

But, my friend Becky made the connection that I also buy dryer sachets with lavender in them and suggested that I use the remains for that purpose. Initially I poo pooed the idea, thinking I could not engineer such a thing and then I remembered that I spend $6 or so for these little buggers and I decided to try it.

I searched the house for a cloth bag (and found one) and then snipped the strands of lavender to get the aromatic heads in the bag. It worked wonderfully. The sachet can be used multiple times in the dryer and my clothes smell great.

This post may seem like it is dedicated to my ingenuity but really this example gave me reason to pause. You see, I have done alright when it comes to conservation and eco-friendly methods but I realized that I have quite a ways to go.

I am good at composting, recycling and even choosing recyclable packaging but it is in the area of reuse that I fall short. So, this is a challenge to myself and to you to consider ways of reusing our cast aside items- practically or creatively. Have you had an interesting use for something that would normally be thrown (or composted) away? I would love to hear about it- help me change the error of my ways!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Procreation

I watched a cool movie tonight. Juno is the name. It became increasingly apparent that the movie's focus was on pregnancy. And it hit me - on this, my 43rd birthday- that I probably will not experience pregnancy again.

Now, it must be said that I am a lucky mother of 3 beautiful children. And, those who know me well, know that I never planned parenthood (which is weird cause I love planning). All three children came by surprise without intention really. I was way OK with it though. I just never envisioned myself in that role. Yet, what a gift.

And just as I never anticipated the wonderfulness of motherdom, I suppose I never anticipated the loss I would feel as I realized that my body would have less chance to procreate.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sign on Forehead


Each day I live on this Earth, I realize that I am one of the luckiest people. I don't say this for dramatic reasons, just to acknowledge how there is a consistent flow of good stuff coming my way. I often joke that I have a sign on my forehead that says "Give me stuff". In addition to tangible gifts (used or otherwise), I have unique experiences and people interactions that seem to be strategically placed when I need them.

I thought I would share a few of the gifts I have received lately:
1. My friend Lou gave me earrings and a bracelet
2. I got free tickets to COSI and when we were there, we received more tickets for family night 3. My friend Krista gave me a red dress (wore it this past Thursday)
4. My dad and step mom gave me a flag mount for the house and mounted it
5. The guy who fixed my wheel barrow tires, offered me a taste of his Somalian food (goat). I have been afraid to try the restaurant at the end of my street, thinking I would not like it and now I know I will like it.
6. I received Harry and David fudge from the local food bank (shared it around)
7. My friend Linda gave me a HandiVac machine that locks in freshness of food
8. I got a cake brought to me today- delicious (with ice cream!)
9. Chris E. gave me, (how do I explain this?) stuffed toys in the replica of the Three Stoogies that when bounced say funny things So, as a reflect, there are more of these occurrences.

I guess the point is that a lot of good comes my way and I am truly blessed. At work, I brought a wellness inventory for us to work on as we are on a journey out of poverty. The inventory helps to recognize where you are currently and helps to develop goals.

There are 7 sections to the inventory and each section has 10-14 questions; each question is rated from 0 (not at all) to 4 (yes, always, or usually). And, as I read the question below I remembered the spirit behind this post: "I am aware of experiencing "miracles" in my daily life." I had to rate this one a 4 all the way.

So thank you to all you miracle workers in my life. You seem to give me gifts or treasures just when I need them. It is not the material thing, but the fact that you thought of me. I have been sad of late and your gifts remind me to be grateful and to keep my eye on the prize.

Why, Why, Why,

Got this in email, thought it was fun:

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting dead?
Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they know there is not enough money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an 'S' in the word 'lisp'?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattressesare not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

And my FAVORITE......The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons are suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Soul Coaching

I am reading a book called Soul Coaching; 28 Days to Discover Your Authentic Self.

The inside cover:
Soul Coaching is a four-week program dedicated to an in-depth clearing and cleansing of the different aspects of your life: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. By following the practical, carefully crafted steps presented here, you will find that you're able to uncover your authentic self.



This book is for you if you want to know:

  • who you are

  • why you're here

  • what your mission is

This book is also for you if your ready to start:

  • putting your needs before everyone else'

  • living life at a peaceful, moderate pace

  • loving yourself

By utilizing the energy of the elements of nature--- Air, Water, Fire, and Earth---- this program allows you to clear away old blockages so that you can truly begin to hear the secret messages of your soul.

I have read the first section of the book and I am very impressed with the simple approach and the gentle coaching this woman gives. She gave an example of how she found herself always waiting for the next thing to get her to happiness; when I get away from an abusive home I will be happy, when I graduate from college I will be happy, when I get married I will be happy......

I am reminded that happiness is here for the taking. Now the question is how to recognize it and revel in it. I am not saying I am an extremely unhappy person but I often feel like true happiness is just around the bend- not fully actualized. So, I am hopeful that this book will continue to remind and nudge me to listening to my soul and feeling the contentment of what is being presented right now.

I invite those reading this to join me in this journey. In the book, Denise Linn suggests that people can share their experiences as they work through the book. If you are interested in joining me, I would welcome that. The book is reasonably priced at Amazon.com or you can get it at the library (I did). The link shows you an excerpt of the book as well.

If the offer to work through this together appeals to you, write to me or make a comment here and we will find a way to journey together. I am excited to take steps toward greater health and taking them with others is comforting to me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Removable Kisses

Kye is no longer removing kisses received. Prior to this, he would dutifully kiss his mother (me) and with the back of his hand wipe the kiss right off. I would then tease him that the kiss did not count and try to convince him that another kiss was called for. But tonight, to my surprise, he did not wipe our good night kiss off. I questioned him about it by saying, "You did not wipe off my kiss, what does this mean?" He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. Hmmm........

Saturday, June 21, 2008

To Weed or Not to Weed that is the Question...

Before I left for Iowa I spent some quality time in my garden. Everywhere I looked, I had what are called volunteer tomatoes. Volunteer tomatoes are the ones that grow up from last year's rotten ones. We have many and they are popping up all over the yard. This is because we have been faithfully composting all year and as we prepared to plant the garden we spread the compost around. I have tomato plants in every nook and cranny of the garden.

This is a blessing to be sure. Our seedlings this year were started late and are much smaller than these volunteers. In addition, the variety of last year was unparalleled. I think we had 11 varieties in all. Now, I believe we may be at 15 varieties or so (traditional red, pink, cherry, grape, purple, white, yellow, orange, striped etc)- depending on what volunteer tomatoes grow.

But, I have a problem. There are probably 100+ volunteer tomatoes all growing in planted sections of the garden. One particularly strong one is in the broccoli. And, knowing last year's crop, this plant will probably be about 5 ft tall and 3 feet wide- quite a space grabber. I begrudgingly acknowledged that I needed to remove these plants- breaking my heart though it did.

So, I began the pulling process. Tomato after tomato plant, set aside, ready for composting.

As I did this I remembered a friend's words saying that a weed is any plant that you don't want. She, Charity, said this as we took a tour of my back yard trying to identify plants. This is my first year at the house so my yard is filled with surprises. I could see what she meant- I was looking at the violets that carpet certain sections of the garden as beautiful and I think she saw them as something she could do without- if it were her choice.

So, I pulled and pulled these tomato weeds.

It made me think that there are times when we all feel like weeds- unwanted, untapped potential.......... The difference though is that we can replant ourselves and begin again.

And sometimes, we have to weed out persons, feelings or circumstances in order to breathe or increase our potential to grow. This does not mean that these circumstances are not in thier own right good things, but just like these tomatoes of mine, they may not be right for the garden at hand.
Well, I came back from Iowa and after all that pulling, 50 more tomato plants grew up in the other's place. I suppose I know what I will be doing tomorrow. I guess it may take time and several tries to get things just so to grow my garden well. I look forward to the harvest! I wonder what varieties will greet me then?
By the way, in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, they celebrate the almightly tomato in true fashion. In September, they will host the tomato festival. I hope to be one of the many that partake in the food, music and fun.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Humor at the Expense of Others

I was chatting with some good friends Lee and Dawn the other night as we gathered in my kitchen- we were having "kitchen talk" (love it!). Many topics flowed and ideas abounded. One topic was about the fact that some people really enjoy making fun of others, and of those who do, some will often criticize the person they are making fun of for not taking themselves lightly enough. A response of "lighten up buddy" can come with the territory- sometimes complete with a rolling of the eyes. After all, it's just a joke. But when it is a joke at the expense of you, it can feel isolating and unkind.

Lee and Dawn talked about a clown school they had attended and both of them said the experience changed their lives and was transformational. It was during this training that they learned that humor can come in forms that either give energy or take energy away.

They went to clown school in order to do service with folks within the hospital setting. It was shared during the training that there is really no reason to derive humor from putting someone down. You can imagine that would be true especially if you are performing for those who are terminally ill, or even those who are just plain sick. But when you think about it, if you had the choice, why wouldn't you give energy rather than take it away. Both are in your power to do.

An example that was provided in the training was that of a clown bringing a flower to someone to take a whiff. When the person smells it, the flower wilts from his bad breath. This is an example of the negative humor. Dawn explained that the alternative is to bring a wilted flower over to the person and the flower perks up because the person breathed life into it. Then the clown could urgently bring things over for the person to revive...... done right, this could be funny stuff and the person doing the "breathing" would or could be left feeling esteem rather than try to overcome the negative energy from the first example.

Think about the energy it takes to be a good sport about negative humor. You need to shield your self, get tougher skin so to speak and have to either discount what the person says or take it in as some kind of feedback. That takes energy.

Now, this does not mean that playful jabs are never welcome, and sometimes humor can say things that words cannot express. But, overall, I want to make a positive contribution with others and build them up rather than chink away at them over time.

My mom would say things like, "your pretty, if you like that sort of thing". I knew she was joking, but there was always a shade of doubt there. Negative humor is like that in a way, it has the ability to leave you with a doubt. You can override it, you can rise above it, you can ignore it, you can stuff it-- but it leaves you needing to do something with it where positive humor for the most part just flows.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fragrant Trees


This is the first year in many years that I have noticed the fragrant trees blossoming. The tree in my front yard is especially bountiful. It looks like a gentle snow happened. And, the flowers are very aromatic.

Weirdness is that I moved in to my new home last year and I did not witness this event. In fact, I cannot remember seeing these trees ever bloom before-anywhere and now as I am driving, I see them everywhere.
Was I oblivious to this phenomenon prior to this or is this a special year, a special place or a special circumstance?

Not sure, but I think I will take this as a sign that it is time for me to flower. Time to open up to possibilities. Time to bloom. I feel like I have been wintering for too long.
Time to wake up, stretch and get my bearings. Want to join me in the journey?