15
Nov
12

blip: life is tough. seek sanctuary.

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Why is life so tedious? If it’s not one thing, it’s another. It seems like the people and circumstances of our lives exist solely to erode us into oblivion with constant and relentless challenges.

I don’t want to sit around whining about how tough times are. And the last thing I want to become is a self obsessed victim. The positivity police are already reading me my rights. You have the right to remain happy. Shut up and be happy. Don’t worry, be happy. Every little ting goin be alright. Mon.

Whatever. You can’t deny soul weariness, that is both irresponsible and repressive. It will eventually out. And you don’t want to wallow in it either. So what can you do when the weight of the world is firmly pushing down?

Be kind to your soul. I think the quote goes, “You do not have a soul. You have a body, you are a soul.” Sometimes you need to cry sanctuary. It’s not just for hunchbacks anymore. It’s for moms, teachers, doctors, homeless people, business people, actors, dancers, chefs, factory workers. Everyone has (IS) a soul, everyone needs sanctuary.

It’s not selfish, weak, effeminate, weird, or any other skeptical adjective you want to insert. It’s vital. And it should happen as close to daily as possible.

What sanctuary can you offer your ailing soul? Music. Nature. Beauty. Comfort. Rest. Exercise. Relationship. Quiet. Stillness. Touch. Song. I promise not to get all up in your face about it, but God. He is the originator of all these things. He is the architect of your soul. Take your run down self to the master technician, he’ll give you a good tune up. A soul wash. A moment of sanity to regroup and redouble your efforts to make a way in this crazy crazy place called life. All you have to do to receive it is merely ask for it: SANCTUARY!!!

15
Nov
12

tip: read to children

My children are my guinea pigs. My children are my laboratory. Over the course of 16 years of parenting, I have come to realize it’s nothing more than a great experiment. I have poured into their beakers my ideas, dreams, thoughts, philosophies. That has caused a unique chemical reaction with each individual child’s inborn traits. Life has turned the heat up on the Bunsen burner through outside circumstances. It’s all very thrilling. Experimental. And highly unstable. I advise you to wear protective eye gear around us.

Trial and error has been a good teacher to me over the years. Mostly as it pertains to error, but if there is any one area where I have had consistent and amazing results in my specimen, it’s been with stories. I read to them as infants. Let them chew on board books, practicing the hinging codex move until it became second nature. Open book. Close book. Open book. Close book.

I raised them with books all over the house. They saw me reading. I took them to libraries. I read to them. Out loud. From the beginning of their existences, I read to them all. And guess what? They all LOVE reading. They actually get in trouble for reading, but that’s a blog for another time.

They not only love reading, they live it. Stories come alive to them. Some where deep in their minds and souls. They weep over characters. They run around in the yard pretending to be in their books. They tell other children about their books like little lore masters in astonishing detail.

Long after the days when they can and do read heaps of books to themselves, I read to these grown ones as well. Let us not neglect the oral tradition. There is something primal about having a story artfully and passionately read aloud to you. I did this to my kids. In my lab. I injected them with this serum called literacy. It somehow mutated and produced super soldiers who not only could read stories, but loved reading stories, loved learning, independently pursued some Platonic cave of wonders without having to be told to want to. Self motivated learners came from invested readers came from helpless little tots being held captive with a book on my knee.

OK, call it brain washing. If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

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13
Nov
12

blip: try new foods

   Yes.  I’m a mom.  And among our many mantras such as “settle down”, “wear clean underwear”, and “say thank you to the nice man” we have a wealth of commands and proverbs that pertain to the eating of foods.  “Clean your plate”.  “Children are starving in Africa”.  “Eat your vegetables”.  “Take at least one bite”.  Amazingly, this wisdom often falls upon deaf and stubborn ears. They will not heed the mom speak.  They mentally block it out. And we keep babbling on until our magnificent edicts degrade to no more than nonsensical naggery.

I don’t want that to happen with this post.  Please don’t delete my meaning even though you’ve mastered the art of not listening to mothers raving about eating.  Can you read these words without the ghost of some overly anxious family matron materializing on your shoulder with finger wagging and eye brows scrunching pushing an extra helping of sweet potatoes in your face?  I know you can try.  Hear me now: You need to try new foods.

It’s so easy to get in a food rut.  We mindlessly stuff our gobs with whatever is convenient. We lose the joy of eating.  Our palettes dull, meals become just one more motion to go through over the course of a mechanical and uninteresting existence.  We think we know what we like.  What we like makes us who we are.  But how can we fully refine the notion of who we are if we stop trying new things and expanding our repertoire of experiences and enjoyances. (oooo I just birthed a new word.)

Trying new foods is one of the easiest ways to add that spirit of adventure back into a life that has gone bland.  We have to eat.  We don’t have to be boring with our food.  Spice up your life by mixing it up. Activate your taste buds. surprise your mouth. Flavors on the tongue inspire a desire to venture off and be more daring in other areas as well.  All of a sudden you went from the pits of blaaaaaaaaaaaa to becoming once again a fascinating person.  This is your life, make it interesting.

Your mother will be so proud of that.  And so will I.  And I’m taking my own advice, I’ll have you know. I’m not just cyber blabbering bossy sentiments in your general direction.  See that image of what appears to be electric pink celery? Yeah, that’s rhubarb.  A new food for me.  An ingredient I don’t really understand and want to enjoy on my own terms.  I plan to make some freezer jam with it to put on my fresh bread.  And I’m gonna use it on BBQ pulled pork.  Fascinating.  Here are the links.  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/06/rhubarb-berry-jam/ and http://chickensintheroad.com/farm-bell-recipes/crockpot-pulled-pork-w-rhubarb-sauce/

Get off your food duff and eat something interesting today.

12
Nov
12

tip: bake some bread

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Ah, the lost art of bread baking. It’s a chore I was very strictly in the habit of accomplishing a few years ago, but I began to let it drift away from my to-do list and it has become obsolete in this household. Until tonight.

I mean, what’s the big deal, right? Store bought bread tastes just fine. I’m trying to eat less carbs anyway. Who needs all that stress about yeast proofing, dough rising, dishes and crumbs and grubby little vultures watching the timer ready to scarf down the precious loaves hot out of the oven. Why do we need this anachronism? Why should I devote time to milling flour, measuring ingredients, mixing, sponging, rising, baking, cooling when a scant 99 cents buys me bread minus all of this life interruption?

Well, tonight I remembered why. It isn’t interrupting my life. It is my actual life, pain in the ass and everything though it is. And it really isn’t that much hands on work when you own all the right equipment like I do. Washing the dishes is the most time intensive part. I can bake my 5 loaf basic honey wheat recipe with my eyes closed, it’s second nature. I can feel the water temp on the inside of my wrist and know if it will activate the yeast. I can see the fibers of the dough and tell when to stop kneading. I can smell the exact moment when the bread is done without looking at a timer. I know how to do this! And yet I haven’t done it in almost an entire year.

It’s important to me. The way my husband treats me like I’m some kind of witch doctor for being able to produce the staple of life. The way it makes the house smell amazing for hours and hours. The way my modern kitchen becomes more like an old fashioned hearth. A hub. Baking bread makes this more like a home. It helps me keep my hands firmly involved in the way I want my life to be, who I want me to be. I don’t want to be mass produced, preservative laden, and closed with a twisty tie. I want to be fresh. authentic. original. life giving. Just like the home milled, home made bread that I bake. I believe in the power and magic and strength of the concept of “Home”. Thank you my beautiful loaves for reminding me of this.

11
Nov
12

blip: a real way to support the troops

Happy veterans day.  If you’re a veteran, you deserve to be honored.  Period.  But much like Mother’s Day, this official national day of recognition might be the only time all year society or even your own family gives a partial damn about what it cost you personally to achieve such an honor.  So milk it.  Tell your war stories.  Even if they only are stories about drunken expeditions to Tijuana, they still need to be told.  Remember on this day all the influences, the personalities, the sights seen, experience gained.  For most veterans, the service was where they grew up and became a bona-fide adult.  Horizons were expanded.  Adventures were embarked upon.  Life courses were altered, re-calibrated and set.  The military was, is, and will always be a part of who you are.

For those of us who cannot be counted among the ranks of veterans, this day is also for us.  How often do we give thought to the fact that there is an armed force in place sworn to protect our liberty.  Our family. Our way of life.  Unseen on the outskirts of our daily existence, they a large part of the reason why we can wake up every day unhampered by the same kinds of issues faced by most people in the rest of the world.  They are individuals who made a choice and signed a binding contract that restricts their own freedoms in order to bolster yours.  This day should begin with reflection upon that staggering fact.  And hopefully what follows will be a genuine heart-felt gratitude and awareness of how important veterans really are.  Appreciation should lead to verbalization.  Thank all the members of your family, your friends, your neighbors, random people you see in uniform on the street.  But I want to take it even beyond words.  What can you do right now, today, to show true thankfulness and tangible encouragement to soldiers?

As a mom, I can’t help but want to show the troops the same kind of love I have for my own sons.  It might not be too many years until my sons themselves decide they want to enlist.  If my sons were serving in the military in active duty, or just stationed somewhere far away doing training in peacetime, I’d want to obsessively send them reminders of the home and life they are sworn to protect with their lives.  Well guess what?  A mom like me and maybe like you has already done that.     http://www.packagesfromhome.org/about-packages is a website devoted to sending care packages to troops.  They tell you a very specific and very concrete way you can make a real gesture to show your love.  To me this is the perfect way a family can sit down together and cultivate some real thankfulness for freedom, America, veterans, and our troops.  And they can take that thankfulness, wrap it up in a bow, and ship it off.  Somewhere a serviceman or woman will be extremely blessed.  A small token of thanks for a large debt of freedom, but meaningful to all parties.

10
Nov
12

tip: root for team

It’s the first game in a long time that I feel free to sit back, relax, and enjoy a Saturday evening. We’re firing on all 4 cylinders. We’re tackling like men. We’re not behaving like remote control voodoo zombies on offense. I’m proud of us. Notice how I have identified myself with my champions. I am one of them, an unseen force fueling the team on to grid iron glory. If I go to the bathroom on third down, they will turn the ball over. They need my psychic connection. They need my insults thrown at the opponents. They need us to break out in a round of spasmatic high fives after every touch down. They are counting on this from all the fandom.

Anyone not acquainted with the joys, rituals, and heart burn of college football is really missing out on something special. Especially women, this doesn’t have to be a dude thing. College football is better than any soap opera I’ve ever seen. Team loyalties are like feudal alligences. Colors fly like banners, mascots strut like coats of arms. The arena roars with blood hungry spectators. Bands and fight songs, roasting meat and half clad women: man this is the closest thing to barbarian left in our society. Smashing into each other with brute force, running down the field with zazz and speed. Spectacle and drama waiting to unfold every time the ball is snapped. More chicks should dig football. But I digress.

Yeah I like these blow out 28-0 at halftime rarities. In the SEC they come few and far between. They’re very good for my blood pressure. Usually my gut is twisted into knots, I’m bellowing like a crazed pirate, and my heart rate is concerning, to say the least.

I watch and I will them to win. My emotional engagement is crucial to their victory. Today they don’t seem to need me as much, so I can amp down ever so slightly. I’ll be back next week to do my part, carry the flame, scream until I have an aneurysm, what have you.

Go team!

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09
Nov
12

blip: bad day emergency preparedness

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This is one of those weeks I find myself digging ever deeper into my Mary Poppins-esque carpet bag of tricks to combat the doldrums. Everyone should have a bad day strategy. I also recommend a shitty week emergency plan and also a life crisis survival kit. And what precisely does one pack in ones preparedness bunker for inevitable craptastic times?

A spoon full of sugar does help the medicine go down. I like gummy bears in my stash because they won’t melt and will stay fresh probably through a nuclear war. I’ve also heard tell of emergency hoarded Nutella, chocolate of all descriptions, twinkies and ho ho’s, cookies. Alcohol is pretty much pure sugar, but be sure you aren’t at risk for pesky dependency issues before using a wine bottle for SOS drinking, please.

Once sugar for the body is procured, find something sweet to soothe your mind, emotions, and spirit. 911 bible verses to call upon. Photographs, memories, this might be the place to keep your thankfulness journal. Counting blessings helps. It truly does. Make a list of things you love and cling to that list on dark days. High on the list for me is anything artistic. Cooking, painting, crafting, coloring in a coloring book, sketching, writing a poem: there is power in art and also healing. Today I was able to recover from a nose dive with the help of the art work of my children. You can see in the photo above some passionate renderings of their heroes: Star Wars, X-Men, Harry Potter, The Incredible Hulk. There is such enthusiasm and unadulterated fun in these crayon creations, it’s impossible for a heart to be downcast looking at the awesome little drawings.

So let this be your cue to prepare a battle plan to combat the Armageddon of a really bad day or a grey streak in your life. Don’t be defenseless in such an attack: know your emergency exits. Know how to put on the oxygen mask and use your seat as a flotation device. Know that the antidote for evil days is usually the truest joys of your heart. And a Reese’s peanut butter cup doesn’t hurt either. And of course a hug, go get you one of those immediately. Here’s a virtual hug to tide you over. ((<3))




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