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.


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).


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


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


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: