LIFE – Hodgepodge or Exact Science?

Cooking . . . it can be throwing things together to make a dish or a meal OR it can be exact measurements made while following a detailed how-to recipe—just like LIFE!

There are some who go to a culinary school to learn the “right way” to cook and there are some who follow in traditions of those who have gone before to make dishes for which no written recipe exists.

I think COOKING and LIFE are a lot alike:

• measure each step carefully
OR —jump in and throw it all together
(make goals or “wing it”)

• study to learn how to do it “right”
OR —go with your gut to decide what is “right”
(check out resources or go with what has always been)

• sift the flour before using
OR —just dump the ingredients in together
(see sifting as improving my efforts or take less time–dump and go)

• choose a recipe for what you want to cook
and what you want it to look like
OR —work it out as you go along
(looking at what someone else made to help guide me
or just go with what “feels” right at the time)

• make sure you have the ingredients you need
BEFORE you start to cook
OR —run to the store in the middle of cooking to get
something I am missing
(check what is needed to make what I want to make
and get it all together before starting)

Cooking and life . . . hodgepodge or exact science?
My favorite meal to cook is a hodgepodge AND exact science—
roast beef and mama’s homemade noodles . . .
and memories show me my life has been the same!
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Happiest day . . . and more to come!

So, the prompt to write about today is “describe the happiest day of your life”

Happy – meaning “greatly pleased and content” is from the 1520s.

To describe the “happiest day” I suppose would mean picking
a day or event that stands above the rest of the days.

SO – how about at my beginning? You can see in an early picture of me the joy on my face, innocence, enjoying the simple little toy duck and smiling at those around me with
pure joy. No worries, no anxieties, no complaints . . .  just plain happy. It did not matter what was going on
outside – it mattered what was going on inside!

Maybe that is what I need in this time of loud voices and
dark fears . . . enjoyment in the simple, smiling at those
around me, and letting the worries, anxieties, and complaints
slide right off of me like off that toy duck’s back!

I am going to find that duck and all that goes with it!!!
Here’s to another “happiest day” of my life . . .

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Aromas of Love

There was an old TV show “I Remember Mama” and the
idea of a smell linked to a memory brings that to mind and
my mama! A great cook who combined comfort foods and
wonderful flavors with love means smells from mama’s
kitchen was like being wrapped in a warm hug from mama!

To me, the smell of roast beef cooking will forever be
linked to my mama and her homemade noodles!
All of my early life, family gatherings meant homemade
noodles and roast beef. Oh, those noodles and that rich
brown gravy . . . one of my brothers told his future wife
that a requirement of getting married was that she had to
learn to make mama’s homemade noodles – she did and
they have been married for over 50 years!!!

Homemade noodles and amazing bread were my grandma’s
specialities, so family gatherings at my grandma’s for the
holidays always meant fun and laughter around a table of
roast beef and homemade noodles— and grandma taught
my mama and my mama taught me, my daughter, and the
wife of one of my brothers, so the tradition goes on.
In my family, you will always get an overwhelmingly
LOUD enthusiastic cheer if you mention that you are fixing
mama’s homemade noodles.

It is work – oh, yeah – AND it is LOVE.
And then there is mama’s homemade pizza, another
family tradition. Every Saturday, our family gathered in
the kitchen to help make pizza! As we got older, each of
kids were assigned a task appropriate to our age and
ability. What “FUN” I remember as we each felt
such a part of this special time, sharing and working
together to make the pizza we would all indulge in later as
we watched a movie together – YUMMY! A special family
time of being a part of making something we would all
enjoy together . . . it really didn’t feel like work,
but it did feel like being wrapped in aromas of LOVE!

Did I mention
my memory linked to a smell is LOVE?
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FEAR of F.R.O.G.

My fear was more of a phobia—an intense, irrational fear.
A fear that would force me to run wildly for safety if I even
thought there was a frog around . . . yeah, a frog! It did
not matter if it was a little tree frog or one of those great
big bullfrogs and I did not have to see it – if I just thought
it was there, I panicked, I ran, I screamed!

After MANY years of being controlled by this FEAR,
I found a way to conquer it (but, I still do not like frogs).

What worked for me was realizing that my fear of frogs
had a much deeper root. The frogs represented many
steps from my childhood that I did not even consciously
remember, but the emotional impact expressed itself in
my overwhelming phobia—my fear of frogs.

Not getting the protection I needed in a bad situation as
a child left me with buried feelings of abandonment and
feeling I had no one to protect me from perceived threats.
A class my husband and I attended (very small group)
helped me see my buried feelings (12 Steps: a Spiritual Journey).

I examined the fact that I felt God had NOT protected me
in some really bad situations which meant there was
no one bigger than me to deal with what I feared.
Interestingly, everyone believes in God – a higher power –
even an atheist believes in a power over their lives,
often themselves – so I began to see my need to identify
the source I could trust to protect me. Lots of time spent
in inner searching, examining my Judeo-Christian
background, researching other spiritual paths, and
I found MY answer – each has to work out who or what
God is for themselves and that will bring a feeling of security
and peace in all circumstances.

F.R.O.G. – Fear Rising Over God became
Fully Relying On God and that works for me because
I discovered and continue to discover more about me and
my spiritual journey – a winding path with someone bigger than me!
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Unlimited Travel Opportunities

What is your preferred mode of travel?

“It depends” is the answer to most questions,
I heard a Buddhist teacher say and giving a
really good illustration.

SO, what is my preferred mode of travel?
my answer is: IT DEPENDS . . .
a—where am I starting from
b—where do I want to go
c—when do I need to go
d—why do I need to go
e—what modes of travel are available to me
f—what is the cost

Just to see how I could decide
to begin the process:
a. where am I starting from?
I live in the middle of the United States
b. where do I want to go?
• if I want to go to the east or west coast –
an airplane would probably be my choice
or in some cases, a train
• if I want to go to Europe –
an airplane or boat would be my options
• if I want to go to a local attraction or to a state
close by –
I would probably drive a vehicle

HOWEVER, to me,
the best modes of travel,
the least expensive,
the ones always available at my convenience,
and the ones
always ready to take me where I want to go . . .
books AND my imagination!

While I truly enjoy going to places in person
and visiting with family and friends,
I have to say my preferred mode of travel . . .
in the comfort of my own home, in a comfortable chair
with books and my imagination – oh, YES!!!

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a BILLION to Savor

IF I had a billion US dollars, how would I spend it?
there was a time I would have answered that pretty quickly
with an endless list of items I thought would make me “happy.”
Age 25 List (only partial list):
– a British Morgan, a 1957 Thunderbird, a Porsche
(those would get me around nicely)
– a beautiful house in the mountains, self-sustaining,
(that would give me a place to live and be eco-friendly)
– with a home for my parents next door
– an income stream
(so I could try to become an author)
– and a special home for women who needed a place to live
with no cost to them, no restrictions and no “move out” time . . .
ah, the dreams of youthful innocence!

Now, after many decades, my ”wants” list is short and simple –
Age 75 List:
• a home filled with love and laughter
• a kitchen overflowing with aromas of comfort food
• a “living” room streaming music, family, and friends
• a way to get to the store occasionally
• enough money to eat at Olive Garden sometimes

There is another BILLION that is much more important to me –
—ONE BILLION SECONDS is equivalent to 31.70979198376 YEARS –
really? so I had “spent” a BILLION seconds when I reached 31-32—
I wonder if I would be happy reviewing how I spent that BILLION –
I ask myself in the here and now:
DO I take time to think about how I will spend even just the next
86,400 seconds (that’s 24 hours) – how am I SPENDING my BILLIONS
of seconds that turn into hours that turn into days that turn into months
that turn into years, that turn into decades . . .
what do I do with my seconds and hours every day that are part of
my BILLIONS of seconds I have to spend—it sounds like a lot!
Perhaps now is the time to stop and check on how I am using
the BILLIONS I have – time like money seems to just fly away
if attention is not paid to the small “expenditures” and
my time is much more valuable than money,
so I will pay attention – I will stop, look, listen and
savor my BILLIONS . . . that is how I will spend my next billion!

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Challenging Chores and gold stars!

This is about “household” chores—there are other chores,
of course, but I think many of the struggles are the same.
“I challenge you to a duel,” I said to the dirty floor
I saw in my kitchen. It stubbornly glared back at me –
spots, crumbs, sticky places all laughing at me.
BUT, I WON! I was motivated by that challenge
to make that floor look like it should – clean and unspotted!

The real challenge in that chore and any other chore for me
is that the sense of “victory” is a short-lived good feeling—
a sense of accomplishment that only lasts until it rears its
ugly, dirty self and has to be cleaned again, and cleaned
again, and cleaned again . . .

To me, most chores are not challenging in themselves,
the challenging part is – chores are defined as:
“minor domestic work of regular or frequent recurrence”
and that means they are not normally “one and done”
activities. And I guess the fact that they have to be done
over and over again makes them boring as well – no new
territory to explore, just cover the same area again and
again and again. Then there is the part of others who may
“help” with making the area “unclean” again, sometimes just
after you’ve finished cleaning it! Arrrrr!!!

OR, what about the chore of buying groceries? You make
that tiring trip to the store, carry all the bags into the house,
put away all that stuff and then you and others just consume it
or use it so another trip to the store is required and on and
on it goes.

What chore do I find most challenging to do?
To maintain my sense of accomplishment, my motivation,
my joy in doing each chore every time—again,
checking an item off my list of things to do for the day,
even if it does keep appearing on my list every day or so.

SO, the most challenging chore is ME!
I choose to accept the challenge of making my chores
an adventure and giving myself a “gold star” for every one
and that gives me a sense of accomplishment each time!!!

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Posted in Bloganuary 2023 | 5 Comments

Caterpillar or Butterfly? Success?

How do I define success?
My definition of “success” has been changing since my first of
many “failures.” When I failed to do or be what I expected at the time,
I usually spent my time condemning myself and feeling down,
unable to find a way to see me as anything but a “failure.”

A butterfly trapped in a caterpillar life, crawling along the ground,
never realizing that within me was the ability to fly, to spread my wings,
to find the “freedom” I was longing for by letting go of the perceived
safety of my caterpillar persona, releasing all the baggage of wrong
thinking and wrong words, accepting myself as an imperfect person
who sometimes failed but remembering that that did not make me
a failure, it confirmed that I was imperfect . . . but trying!

This change was slow in coming, but I met a group of people who
accepted me as I was, warts and all, and never mentioned my warts.
They drew me into friendships with no conditions and I read a small,
but important book “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard
and began a journey of healing, of finding me buried beneath all
those layers of caterpillar thinking, and that took me beyond the me I
thought I was to the place where I could confront my fear of “success”
and of transformation and slowly remove the masks to reveal ME!

I came out of a dark world of perfectionism, of material goods
defining me and “success,” and traded a life in a chrysalis
(the hard outer shell left behind after the caterpillar is transformed
into a butterfly) for an often challenging life of growing more fully
to be me . . . still happening.

My definition of success is: choosing my perspective (how I look at
me and life) to be all God wants me to be in whatever capacity He
places me, to be who I am created to be as He leads me which means
rejecting my old caterpillar perspective and accepting my butterfly
status . . . beautiful colors and exploring the sky!
My journey to success . . .
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the plot thickens . . . next chapter?

I learned to read before I started school and
I have been a voracious reader all my life.

MANY BOOKS have CHANGED my life, SAVED my life,
INFUSED hope in my struggles, GUIDED me to look more
deeply into my heart and to continually be open to grow,
LIGHTED a dark path, MOTIVATED me to take a step,
and here are just a few . . .

• vocation—ballerina (first memorable book – still have it)
after I read “Tina, the Ballerina,” I knew I wanted to be a ballerina.
My grandmother got me a Tina, the Ballerina doll and made
matching clothes for me and Tina and I started ballet lessons –
health issues stopped my pursuit of that goal at age 7

• basic philosophy—one person in a world
“Foundation Trilogy” by Isaac Asimov was key to an early piece
of my belief system showing how one man with a different perspective
did seemingly small things that made huge differences to a world

• personal power—responses
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl brought me to
a vital key for survival—as a holocaust survivor, a psychiatrist,
he led me to see the value of meaning in life and the fact
that there is only one thing I can control and no one
can take it away from me—my inner response to everything

• personal business practices—relationships
“Hope for the Flowers” by Trina Paulus, the story of moving through
seeming death to a new and more beautiful life and life choices
made along the way, showing a path to transformation

• struggles in life—darkness to light
“Jonathan Livingston Seagull” (Richard Bach), This Present Darkness/Piercing
the Darkness (Frank E Peretti), The Hobbit (Toilken), Divine and Human (Leo Tolstoy),
Purity of Heart (Soren Kierkegaard), The Cloud of Unknowing (anonymous),
The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Joseph Campbell), everything by Thomas Merton,
Divine Milieu (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin), writings by the Desert Fathers/Mothers,
Morality (Jonathan Sacks), studies by Richard Rohr, and many more . . .

books are still changing me . . .
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a memorable gift – REALLY???

memorable means: easily remembered . . . noteworthy—YES!

Many years ago, I had a cat named “Tipsy”
(as a kitten he staggered as he learned to walk, hence the name).
We were bonded over the years. Whenever I sat down, he sat with me –
I petted him, he purred, and he slept right next to me at night laying against my arm
and awakening me each morning with paw taps to my face and louder and louder
“meows” until I responded, petted him, and got up.

One evening, as we approached the bed to retire, he kept meowing and
when I looked at the pillow, I understood why.
There, laying dead on my pillow was a MOUSE!
Tipsy had apparently dispatched the mouse to its final reward and
gave me the “gift” of his trophy. REALLY???

As you can imagine, my first reaction was over the top!
I love animals, but mice are not my favorite and I was totally freaked out!

Gifts are sometimes given out of a feeling of obligation
or for some special occasion, but when a gift is given of
something that means a lot to the giver,
it carries a special meaning – it is noteworthy –
and this gift meant something special to Tipsy,
so it spoke of his love for me and I have never forgotten his gift from the heart.

Over the decades, I have received many memorable gifts –
time spent with family and friends,
special moments,
shared heart times, and
serious and “fun” presents
that are all beyond value –
I am so blessed and so thankful for all of them
that are stored in my heart,
but that mouse from Tipsy with his one-word vocabulary
is easily remembered and for sure noteworthy!
A Memorable Gift – REALLY!
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