Vegetarian White Chili

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 No tags Permalink
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 15 oz Great Northern beans, drained
  • 1 7 oz can jalapeño slices
  • 1 4 oz can Hatch green chiles
  • 8 oz cream cheese (vegan cream cheese, if that’s your preference)
  • 1 tbs ancho chili powder
  • 2 Tbs Cumin
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 medium chopped yellow onion
  • 8-10 oz frozen corn (I like fire-roasted)
  1. Heat a bit of oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot. Cook the garlic, onions and bell pepper until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Next add the vegetable broth, (vegan) cream cheese, spices, chiles, and jalapeños. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the beans and corn and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Feel free to adjust the spices according to your taste and desired heat level. I make my own ancho chili powder by roasting the whole dried peppers and then processing in a food processor, but you can buy it at the store as well or use any chili powder you prefer. I like ancho chili powder as it brings a nice smokiness and touch of sweetness to balance the dish.

This Is the Power of Surrender

Friday, July 24, 2020 No tags Permalink

 It’s been a long time since a book has stuck with me so completely as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I finished it days ago but I still find myself a little verklempt. I’ve never read anything like this book in my entire life. I laid in bed for over an hour upon finishing it, just tossing and turning and thinking about everything I had just consumed. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing, and at the same, time terrifying piece of literature I’ve ever read. I still don’t think I can put my feelings into words, but I can say this book was a cathartic experience for me, and the irony of the word “catharsis” being a Greek rooted word is not lost on me, because if this book is anything it’s a modern-day Greek tragedy.

Nietzsche has theory is that the ancient Greeks attained such a high level of culture mainly due to their personal struggle between the opposing philosophies of Apollo and Dionysus; Apollo being the god of art, and thus, stagnation, while Dionysus is the god of debauchery and barbarism, and thus, action. This struggle between appreciation for art and culture and a zeal for living is what Nietzsche credits for the Greeks’ impressive progress. He also believed that the only way we can progress today is to swing the pendulum toward Dionysus.

“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely? To throw off the chains of being for an instant, to shatter the accident of our mortal selves?”

 

We don’t like to admit it, but the idea of losing control is one that fascinates controlled people more than almost anything.

Remember the cheesy 80s movie Dirty Dancing? When Johnny tells Baby ‘You gotta hold the frame”. When a good lead takes a hold of me, it is only the slightest touch that tells me where I need to go. It’s in their innate confidence, the way they own and control their space. In the arms of a strong lead who holds the frame, I can let go of the relentless turn of my thoughts, of the need to control, of the way life holds me inside of myself. I can become so entirely embodied that there is no longer myself, my partner, the room. There is only the all and the everything of bodies and sensation and freedom. This is the power of surrender, of acquiescence. Give me this in the world, in the spaces where no one else exists. And when I let go, fully let go, I am infinite.

Surrender by Fleur de Lisa on Flickr

Roasted Sweet Potato + Cauliflower Tacos

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 Permalink

Description

An easy vegetarian tacos recipe filled with easy roasted cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, these roasted sweet potatoes + cauliflower tacos are totally weeknight-friendly, made in 40 minutes or less, making this the perfect vegetarian taco recipe for taco Tuesday!


Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • lime, juiced
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed

mashed avocado:

  • 1 medium avocado
  • lime, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt

for taco assembly:

  • charred corn tortillas (see Recipe Notes)
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up and set aside.
  2. Prep the veggies: Place the cauliflower florets and diced sweet potato in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over top, then season with the chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, oregano and salt. Squeeze the lime juice over top. Toss to combine. Transfer the veggies to the prepared baking dish, arranging everything in a uniform layer, with lots of breathing room.
  3. Roast the veggies for 25 minutes, giving the baking sheets a good shake about halfway through. Add the black beans to the sheet pan, seasoning with another pinch of salt, then place the pan back in the oven for 5 more minutes to heat the black beans through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Prep taco assembly: Meanwhile, as the veggies roast, prep the rest of your taco fixins:
  5. Mash the avocado: Add all listed ingredients in a bowl. Use a fork to mash to your desired consistency. Set aside.
  6. Char some tortillas: We like tortillas with a little char in our house! See Recipe Notes for a run-down on how we do it.
  7. Assemble the roasted veggie tacos: Smear some mashed avocado on each tortilla. Top with a generous scoop of roasted veggies. Drizzle some chipotle lime cashew crema over top. Finish with some freshly chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

-from playswellwithbutter.com

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Friday, December 20, 2019 No tags Permalink

Elderberry syrup is an easy, all-natural, immunity boosting home remedy. Studies have shown elderberries can help shorten the effects of colds and the flu. I bought my elderberries at my local Fresh Thyme, but you can buy them on Amazon if you can’t find them in the store.

2 cups elderberries
6 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 small vanilla bean (optional)
1-inch piece of ginger
1/2 cup local raw honey

  1. Add elderberries, water, and other ingredients to the pressure cooker pot and stir. Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. When cooking is complete, use a natural release.
  2. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the pot’s contents into the strainer. Press on the elderberries to remove all of the juice. Discard the elderberries.
  3. Allow the juice to cool completely then whisk in 1/2 cup honey. Add more honey to taste. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

For adults, take 1-2 tablespoons each day and for children older than 1, take 1-2 teaspoons each day.

Emotional Bank Accounts

Monday, July 16, 2018 No tags Permalink

An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.  It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.

– Stephen Covey

 

 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change has given me the best insight on relationships.  I never thought about it this way.  If we look at a financial bank account, we regularly make deposits into it and make withdrawals when we need to.  If we look at it from an emotional standpoint, this could be the most life-changing chapters I’ve read in any book in my entire life.

Each person has an Emotional Bank Account; couples also have Emotional Bank Accounts. The accounts link but they are three independent accounts; you can even transfer deposits between the three, and sometimes this is necessary, but you must be careful not to deplete one to fill the other.

In order to make a withdrawal, you must have something in your account to take out. Otherwise, you have an overdraft and applicable fees will apply. Those fees come in different forms: stress, anxiety, depression, anger, volatility, exhaustion, disorientation, loneliness, insomnia, overeating, over-drinking, over-smoking, and general feelings of dis-ease.

When you over-draft your Couples Emotional Bank Account additional fees may apply: low libido, snarkiness, irritability, disconnection, and a general lack of luster.


“If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me “an offender for a word.” When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

-Stephen Covey

Both accounts (Personal and Couples) need to be monitored to be sure that you don’t go into overdraft mode. The best bet is to try to always keep both accounts at least half-full; sometimes this is not possible and in those times it’s even more important that your partner is helping by adding to your accounts.

Both people in the relationship need to make deposits into the Couples Emotional Bank Account, and BOTH people need to make sure that they are monitoring their own Personal Bank Account.

You all know how it feels when your emotional bank account is depleted; I don’t need to explain that feeling of being completely drained.

Continue Reading…

Energy & Boundaries

Friday, June 8, 2018 No tags Permalink

I love it when you read exactly what you need to read, exactly when you need to read it.

When life has to be a certain way in order to be good enough for you, you instantly close yourself off from all the real and present opportunities available – you spend all your mental energy resisting life, rather than making the best of it.

And sadly, this is how the vast majority of the human population lives – stuck in a perpetual cycle of resistance.

But you don’t have to continue this cycle. You can change your mind.

When you consciously choose to let go of the way it “should” be, you free your mind to deal with life’s unexpected changes, challenges, and chaos in the most effective way possible…

You create space for acceptance, learning, and growth.

You learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

And gradually, you allow yourself to step forward with a clear and focused mind.

Closing the door, completing the chapter, turning the page, etc. – it doesn’t matter what you title it…what matters is that you find the strength to leave in the past those parts of your life that were not meant to be, so you can better attend to the present.

What has happened is uncontrollable; what you do now changes everything.

Of course, knowing this and actually living a lifestyle that reinforces this truth are two very different things. Letting go is NOT easy; it’s a journey that is traveled one day at a time.

It can be excruciatingly difficult to leave a long-term life situation (or dream) behind, even when your inner-wisdom tells you that things aren’t right and that it’s time to let go. At this point, you can choose to let go and endure the sudden pain of leaving behind the familiar to make way for a new chapter in your life, or you can stay and suffer a constant, aching pain that gradually eats away at your heart and mind like a cancer… until you wake up one day and find yourself buried so deep in the dysfunction of the situation that you barely remember who you are and what you desire.

Things will happen that are unexpected, undesirable, and uncontrollable. But you can always choose to let go and take the next tiniest step forward.

One of the best things we can learn to do is to set appropriate boundaries.  You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.  I often say, “I refuse to positively reinforce negative behavior.”


 I assumed that people weren’t doing their best so I judged them and constantly fought being disappointed, which was easier than setting boundaries. Boundaries are hard when you want to be liked and when you are a pleaser hellbent on being easy, fun, and flexible. Brené Brown, Rising Strong

Brené Brown defines boundaries in Rising Strong (2015) as “simply our lists of what’s okay and what’s not okay.” More of her explanation:

It’s so straightforward and it makes sense for all ages in all situations. When we combine the courage to make clear what works for us and what doesn’t with the compassion to assume people are doing their best, our lives change. Yes, there will be people who violate our boundaries, and this will require that we continue to hold those people accountable. But when we’re living in our integrity, we’re strengthened by the self-respect that comes from the honoring of our boundaries, rather than being flattened by disappointment and resentment.

On the other hand, “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice” (The Gifts of Imperfection).

Another pertinent quote from Rising Strong: “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”

If you’d like to know more about how to set boundaries, Brown gives three useful tips:

 Make a mantra. I need something to hold on to—literally—during those awkward moments when an ask hangs in the air. So I bought a silver ring that I spin while silently repeating, “Choose discomfort over resentment.” My mantra reminds me that I’m making a choice that’s critical for my well-being—even if it’s not easy.

• Keep a resentment journal. Whenever I’m marching around muttering cuss words under my breath, I grab what I lovingly refer to as my Damn It! Diary and write down what’s going on. I’ve noticed that I’m most resentful when I’m tired and overwhelmed—i.e., not setting boundaries.

• Rehearse. I’ll often say, to no one in particular, “I can’t take that on” or “My plate is full.” Like many worthwhile endeavors, boundary setting is a practice.

benefits of improving your boundary-setting:

1. You’re more self-aware.
2. You become a better friend and partner.
3. You take better care of yourself.
4. You’re less stressed.
5. You’re a better communicator.
6. You start trusting people more.
7. You’re less angry.
8. You learn how to say “no.”
9. You end up doing things you actually want to do.
10. You become a more understanding person.

Fat Bottomed Girls, They’ll Be Riding Today

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 No tags Permalink

I always liked this song. My big brother had the album.

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties oh yeah
Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah

I’ve been trying to sit in meditation for at least 15 minutes a day, focus on my breath and let thoughts pass in and out. Trying not to let them stay. But it’s hard – really, really hard for me. Lately, I’m starting to get that it’s supposed to be hard and that’s just fine.

My mind has a lot going on in there (probably why my mother says I think too much) and if I can calm even some of it then it’s a success.  When I sit down to meditate I picture my mind like a snow globe that has just been shaken, the snow is everywhere and nothing is settled. During meditation, I try to get that snow (my thoughts) to settle. Once those thoughts have settled, or at least some of them have settled, the impact lasts and I am more mindful throughout the day.

However, I have found a place where it’s easy to be mindful — when I’m in motion on my bike. Mindfulness is about being present and being connected. Every pedal stroke is a chance to forget my worries and blend into the environment thinking about my breath, connecting with nature that surrounds me, and even experiencing the pain of pushing myself.

I can hear my breath and focus on it.(Sometimes a bit too loudly, thanks to allergies and asthma. Note to self– must bring inhaler!) My bike starts to blend into the terrain like it’s part of the earth. I become one with nature.

Unlike in sitting meditation where the focus is on being still, you can experience your body very intensely while on the bike. You can also find intense enjoyment from this practice, more than just endorphins — pure bliss.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

Hello, June!

Sunday, June 3, 2018 No tags Permalink

 

Welcome to my favorite month of the year. June. Even the word June is beautiful.

Long, sunny days and balmy nights that call for midnight walks, star-gazing, and ice cream. Sandal season.  Toenails painted the same vivid pink shade as my favorite peonies.

Things to be grateful for:

Fresh local strawberries


Locally grown tomatoes and Caprese salad made with basil from my garden

Little Red Riding Hood Torte.  With a name like that, I couldn’t resist.  😉

The new series Patrick Melrose, based on the Edward St Aubyn books.  Also, Benedict Cumberbatch.  🙂

A friend shared this photo with me, taken 30 years ago this week.  Time flies!

And this photo taken this week:

Protected:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 No tags Permalink

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 No tags Permalink

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Put the Glass Down

Monday, May 28, 2018 No tags Permalink

Our psychology professor taught us a lesson we’ve never forgotten. She walked up on stage to teach one final lesson, which she called “a vital lesson on the power of perspective and mindset.” As she raised a glass of water over her head, everyone expected her to mention the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” metaphor. Instead, with a smile on her face, our professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from a couple of ounces to a couple of pounds

After a few moments of fielding answers and nodding her head, she replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass is irrelevant. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the absolute weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As most of us students nodded our heads in agreement, she continued. “Your worries, frustrations, disappointments, and stressful thoughts are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a little while and nothing drastic happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to feel noticeable pain. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed, incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

Think about how this relates to your life.

If you’ve been struggling to cope with the weight of what’s on your mind, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.

Focus

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 No tags Permalink

I have been striving to focus my mind more resourcefully. I’ve started leveraging five-second daily reminders to keep myself thinking better and living better. Does it always work?  No.  I’m human.  However,  the reminders simply reinforce the core daily actions and rituals we know we need to engage in to remain calm and in control from the inside out.

Challenge yourself to pick the one new reminder every morning for the next week and a half, write it down someplace you can easily see it (perhaps write it on a post-it note), and then consciously recite it (at least three times) as needed throughout the day. See how doing so prompts you to respond to life with a calmer and more effective mindset.

I’m reading a book called Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs, and these points are excerpted from it.

  1. Calmness begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your thoughts. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, and begin again.
  2. Happiness is letting go of what you assume your life is supposed to be like right now, and sincerely appreciate it for everything it is. So, RELAX. You are enough. You have enough. You do enough. Inhale, exhale… let go, and just live right now in the moment.
  3. Be here. Just right here. No matter what, you can always fight the battles of just today. It’s only when you add the infinite battles of yesterday and tomorrow that life gets overly complicated.
  4. Calmness does not mean to be in a place where there is no chaos, trouble, or hard realities to deal with. Calmness means to be in the midst of all those things and still remain mentally, emotionally, and physically centered.
  5. Be selective with your energy. If you can fix a problem, fix it. If you can’t, then accept it and change your thoughts about it. Whatever you do, don’t invest more energy than you need, tripping over something behind you… or something that only exists inside your head.
  6. When you are lost in worry, it is easy to mistake your worries for reality, instead of recognizing that they are just thoughts.
  7. Remember, you alone get to choose what matters and what doesn’t. The meaning of everything in your life has precisely the meaning you give it.
  8. Most of the time the problem is not the problem—the problem is the incredible amount of over-thinking and over-analyzing you’re doing with the problem. Pause, and breathe, again.
  9. Life humbles us gradually as we age. We realize how much nonsense we’ve wasted time on. So, just do your best right now to feel the peace that flows from your decision to rise above the petty drama that doesn’t really matter.
  10. What you focus on grows. Stop managing your time. Start managing your focus.

SONNET XVI

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 No tags Permalink

I love the handful of the earth you are.
Because of its meadows, vast as a planet,
I have no other star. You are my replica
of the multiplying universe

Your wide eyes, are the only light I know
from extinguished constellations;
your skin throbs like the streak
of a meteor through rain.

Your hips were that much of the moon for me;
your deep mouth and its delights, that much sun;
your heart, fiery with its long red rays,

was that much ardent light, like honey in the shade.
So I pass across your burning form, kissing
you – compact and planetary, my dove, my globe.


As always, so much better in the original Spanish:

Amo el trozo de tierra que tú eres,
porque de las praderas planetarias
otra estrella no tengo. Tú repites
la multiplicación del universo.

us anchos ojos son la luz que tengo
de las constelaciones derrotadas,
tu piel palpita como los caminos
que recorre en la lluvia el meteoro.

De tanta luna fueron para mí tus caderas,
de todo el sol tu boca profunda y su delicia,
de tanta luz ardiente como miel en la sombra

tu corazón quemado por largos rayos rojos,
y así recorro el fuego de tu forma besándote,
pequeña y planetaria, paloma y geografía.

Tiny Happy Things

Monday, May 21, 2018 No tags Permalink

Seemingly small things like this are actually the fabric of which our lives are made.  Notice them, savor them, pay attention.

Showing Up For Myself

Sunday, May 20, 2018 No tags Permalink

When my son was growing up, I made certain that I managed my priorities very carefully. Yes, I had a full-time job and a home I had to take care of on my own, but spending good, quality time with him each and every day was my priority. I never forgot it. The most precious gift you can give anyone is your time. Spending time with someone you care about is an investment and it the benefits you reap from that investment are immeasurable.

But lately, I had been forgetting to make myself a priority. I’ve been working too much and dealing with too much negative stuff. I’ve been forgetting to have fun. People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, all life for happiness. I’m not going to do that, I am going to live now. So, in the past few days, I have been remedying that. I joined a friend for an evening bike ride and a stop at the beer garden for a post-ride drink. I can’t think of the last time I saw a movie, so yesterday we went to see RGB. It was great, by the way. This morning I took a walk and then went to brunch. It’s been lovely, much needed, and so overdue.

Summer is my favorite time of year, and I’m making the most of it. Some of my summer plans include:

    • The N.I.T.E Ride  Riding around downtown Indy at night is going to be such fun!
    • Symphony on the Praire- I got tickets for my birthday from a dear friend and we are going to pick out the best shows and go.  I pack one fantastic picnic basket!
    • More bike rides.  I’ve started riding 4-5 times a week and it’s been great.
    • More farmer’s markets. I have a friend who loves them too, so we’re planning to meet and eat our way through. 😉
    • Re-learning how to swim. I love the water, but I’ve somehow forgotten the freestyle stroke. I found someone who will teach me again so I can get back in the water.  Yay!

What are you doing to make the most of your life, here and now?

Reclaim your mornings. Start a morning ritual that gives you space to take care of yourself before you have to take care of the world. Start with just a few minutes of one of the following activities:

  • Write. Make a list of what you are grateful for or jot down what’s filling your mind.
  • Meditate. Sit quietly and pay attention to your breath, or use a guided meditation app like Headspace.
  • Drink your tea or coffee slowly.
  • Stretch. Reach for sky. Reach for toes. Twist and move around.
  • Read. Choose a book over email or the internet.

Choose other activities that fuel your body, brain, heart and soul and slowly build your morning routine.

Edit your to-do list. We can’t put off what we love in the name of our never-ending to-do lists. Ruthlessly cull your to-do list. Take a good hard look at what’s on it. What can wait? What can you delegate? What’s never going to happen? Edit your list until only the things that really need to happen or really will happen remain. Only leave what’s important on your list so you can get back to love and peace of mind.

Make some space (just a little). You don’t have to declutter your entire home to create a sense of calm. Create a small minimalist sanctuary by decluttering one small space in your home. Start with a kitchen counter or your nightstand. Creating a minimalistic sanctuary in your home will inspire you to transform more of your space. The state of the space will also be a good reflection of how calm or crazy your life is. When papers start to pile up, it might be time to address what is piling up in other areas of your life.

Make some time (just a little). If you are trying to figure out what’s best for you or what the next best step to take is, here is the most meaningful gift you can give to yourself right now: carve out five minutes each day to sit quietly and ask yourself the following questions (perhaps add this to your morning ritual).

  • What matters most today?
  • How do I really want to spend my time?
  • What do I need to do to take really good care of myself and the people I love today?

Calculate your debt. Getting out of debt will change your life in ways you may not be able to imagine. It’s not a little change but every big change is the result of hundreds of little ones. Get started by simply calculating your debt. Create a clear picture of your finances. Don’t use that information to feel scared, guilty, or worried. Instead, use it to help you decide what the next step is. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself for taking the first little step. You stopped hiding from the truth. That’s a really big deal.

Show up for the people you love. This may seem hard sometimes, but it isn’t. It’s probably the easiest little thing you can do to find your way back to love and peace. Showing up is different than being in the same room When you are with people you love, put your phone and other digital devices away. Look your loves in the eyes. Listen to their words. Be present. That’s it, show all the way up for the people you love.

Elementary, My Dear Watson

Thursday, May 17, 2018 No tags Permalink

One of the (many, many) good things about summertime is that I quite willingly wake up early.  I have more time to morning, to sip my cold brew coffee on the patio, and to do a bit of reading to start my day on a positive note.

Found in my reading this morning:

The older we grow, and the more real-world tragedies and challenges we witness, the more we realize how incredibly blessed we are, and how frequently the fantasies in our heads hold us back from these blessings. In fact, you’ve likely fantasized your way into headaches and heartaches hundreds of times in the past. We all do this to a greater or lesser extent…

We stress ourselves out, because of fantasies.

We procrastinate to the point of failure, because of fantasies.

We get angry with others, with ourselves, and with the world at large, because of fantasies.

We miss out on many of life’s most beautiful and peaceful moments, because of fantasies.

So today, I challenge you to move through this day and practice seeing life as it truly is…

Do what you have to do without fantasizing and fearing the worst, lamenting about what might happen, or obsessing over how difficult your work is. Just begin, take it one step at a time, and do the best you can.

See others for who they are, and accept them, without needless judgments. Choose not to allow their behavior to dominate your thoughts and emotions. Just be present and accepting. Then decide if you want to spend extra time with them. If not, part ways with dignity.

Replace your fantasies with full presence…

And invest your best into what you’ve got, right in front of you.

 

So here’s my conundrum. Just how, precisely, do you “see life as it truly is”? How do you do that without making judgments? As it’s impossible to ever know everything about any given person or situation, how do you fill in the blanks?

Growing up, I drove my mom a little crazy because I had this need to understand everything. I’m sure I was exhausting. I learned to entertain myself by practicing deductive reasoning and trained my brain to notice minuscule details.

To keep myself occupied, I read mystery novels. It’s still one of my favorite genres, and I love British mystery TV shows. When the latest version of Sherlock launched on BBC in 2010, I was hooked.  The way Sherlock’s deductive reasoning was shown was spot on.

But deductive reasoning has many flaws. Deductive reasoning is only as good as a) having the initial assumption being true, and b) not making logical errors. “Confirmation bias” and like errors of the human mind often lead to failure to see that initially assumed facts are in fact incorrect.

Basically, I’m causing myself a lot of unnecessary pain by thinking that I must analyze and make sense of every single thing. Old habits die hard, but they can die with hard work and intention. I am perfectly imperfect…a work in progress.

Kicking Right

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 No tags Permalink

I love analogies.

It’s just the way my mind works. I just have a need to break everything down to its simplest form.

I probably preface most things I say with “It’s like…,” and I often feel people cringe when those words come out of my mouth.

 If I dumb it down, I can deal with it.

Many years ago, I moved into a new house. It has an immense lawn. I eventually bought a lawn tractor, but not until the leaves were changing. I spent most of the summer on foot, chugging along with a shitty push mower.

There’s nothing like mowing to clear your mind of the extraneous crap and just focus on a topic. For all the dirt I picked up on my exterior, (sticking to the sweat of those blazing summer days), an equal bit of muck was wiped away from my mind through this Zen-like task of straight lines.

Just give me straight rows. It satisfies some part of me that craves order. I want to look back and see nice, orderly lines behind me.

That summer, when I wasn’t concerning myself with my OCD for the symmetrical, I was thinking.

 About loss.

The emotional kind.

You see, life is like mowing the lawn.

(Don’t roll your eyes yet.)


Each year of my life is like a row that I’ve mowed. As I’m going along, I might come across something that the universe has put in my way. Once, it was a big yoga ball (of all things) that my son was playing with in the back yard.

Now, my mower had that handle that you have to hold down to keep it running. If something is in my way, I’d have to let go of the handle and deal with it, which means the mower dies, and who knows how long it will take to get that piece of crap running again.

So, I could decide to just run it over, whatever it is. But that might make a mess when the blades cut it into a million pieces and it would certainly upset some children. But the yoga ball is fine. It’s too big to run over, and it rolls—I can just move it along with me, pushing it as I go.

But what about a plastic softball?  That’s a problem.

Well, keeping a grip on the mower, I reached out a leg and kicked the thing to the right or the left.

The direction I choose is important.

Kick it to the left, and it’s on grass I haven’t mowed yet. I’m going to deal with it on the next row, or perhaps the one after that.

Why would I do that?

Because it’s easier at that moment. My right leg is stronger and kicking it left is avoiding pain. In love, you can think of that as pretty much doing nothing.  Status quo.

If I kick it to right, it’s now on grass I’ve mowed. That’s my past. I’m probably not going to come across it again.

The point is, I’m done with it in my own mind. Nothing is in my way now. I’m at peace.

See, we have to make hard decisions in our lives sometimes.

They were put here in front of us, and perhaps moving them along with us isn’t possible. It might be easier to move them left—hoping that somehow circumstances could change and we can deal with the issues later. But we know our path isn’t really clear. Get to the next row, and you’ll wish you’d dealt with it sooner.

But moving them right, to our past, is hard.

There’s more pain involved.

Of course, I could take a risk and just keep that mower moving—hoping that I can just move it along with me or somehow leave the thing unscathed.

But, besides the mess it can create if I’m wrong, I can suffer some pain from that, too. Like the time I ended up with a chunk of rock being kicked up into my leg. I took a risk and paid the price.

Yes, that’s as true for love as it is for the grass-clipping world.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take everything with you? Move with it forever? Well, you can’t.

Not everyone in your life can be the yoga ball. Maybe you thought they were at first. Or, you knew they weren’t, but you hoped they’d grow somehow. Don’t beat yourself up.

You might be reading this now, thinking about the plastic softball in your life. You don’t want to move it to the right.

It’s too hard—you just can’t do it.

Listen, friend. It’s a bizarre world out there. Anything can happen. The winds can blow them back to the left someday.

You’re a couple of rows over, and… holy shit. There they are again. But now they are totally yoga. It really happens to other people every day. If that helps you flip the bit, then think about it that way.

The odds are low, however, and you need to be sane. So flip the bit, and let them go. To the right.

Just mow, baby. Mow.

Extraordinary {Poetry}

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 No tags Permalink

She is a Sunday morning wrapped in blankets,

because she is in love with her bed,

but she is the furthest thing from lazy.

She is driven and focused on

making the best of every day she is given.

Her room is her safe haven

where most of her best ideas

are turned into a playbook for an undefeated spirit.

She is the kind that likes to smile

as she battles those believing

she is anything but extraordinary.

She’s always two moves ahead,

before you realize you’ve already lost.

Continue Reading…

Flickr
My Pinterest Pins
Categories