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Chai Morning

Been walking. Regularly. It’s becoming a little bit … enjoyable? Obsessive? I’m taking it slow, hoping it becomes a real lifestyle habit, you know?

This morning, it was damp, rainy and cloudy. *Sigh*. I dressed anyway, grabbed the little one’s Ipod, and took off, determined to “do this thing,” regardless of the surroundings (becoming a mantra of mine). About 2/10th of the way into it, the Ipod quit. *Sigh*. Yank the ear phones out, shove the thing in my pocket, and continue walking.

Glad I did.

If you don’t live in Michigan, this is going to sound — contrived? But before too long, breathing deep and steady, I picked up the hint of a scent. Somehow, between the decaying forest droppings, the clean autumn air and (seriously) a whiff of a nearby dump, I got … Chai. Honest to God, the scent of Chai greeted me with every new breath.

I’m pretty sensitive to smells. I actually stopped for a minute, looking around to see if perhaps someone had a fire nearby I was picking up on. No. No plumes of smoke. No traffic. Just me and the rain and this amazing smell, permeating my being.

According to Wiki, the “Chai” that we’re use to is Masala Chai, longed tied closely to Aryurveda practices throughout Asia. If you don’t know, Aryurveda is the practice of complementary and alternative medicinal practices, tied closely to the elements (earth, wind, water, fire, and ether). Balance of life, spirit, practice is encouraged, and ailments are treated by countering imbalance with restoration — adding or taking away what is too present, or missing.

Integral to certain Aryurveda practices are the spices cinnamon and cardamom — both favored spices in masala chai. In fact, for me, the cardamom — and pepper — are what makes the chai so enjoyable. It was those two essences  I was picking up on this morning, during my walk.

Mind, body, spirit … all coming together to help me feel stronger and more alive. I think the chai (which is, in some languages, translated “life) I encountered this morning was a moment in time, when it “all came together” for just one brief glimmer of a moment. It was … cool.

I quicken my pace a bit, almost missing an opossum in the ditch, pretending not to notice me so that I would not notice him. Smiling, I noticed the rest of the walk flew by, rain-splattered glasses, damp sweatshirt and all.

It’s the little things that make it bearable. Not the huge issues that I wrestle with. Not the impossibilities I waste so much time pondering. But the small, powerful things that wash over me in the most unexpected ways.

This morning was one of those treats.


Trust and …

Seems like I keep learning in the least possible convenient ways for me …

Trust is an issue with me. Always has been. Comes from an abusive background, or so they tell me. Sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, power abuse by authority figures … it’s a reoccurring theme throughout my life. If you pushed me into a corner, I’d have a tough time saying I “trusted” anyone or anything wholly.

Today, I encountered “Bobbie.” Bobbie came into my life, looking to order Angel Food ( She needed to do so EBT (our state assisted food program). There’s a variety of hoops we need to jump through to do that (state regulations, Angel Food requirements, etc.). Since it’s not something I do all the time (take orders), I struggled to find out all the necessary paper work.

The long and short of it is that Bobbie had to trust me to take all her personal information concerning her EBT to make the transaction. Seriously, this total stranger left me all the numbers it would take me to take away food from her family for an entire month, if I were a dishonest person. “I trust you,” she said. “No problem.”

No problem? Wow, I hardly trust people I know (some say that’s why I don’t trust them). How the heck could this woman trust a total stranger with something so important? Because I was in a church? Yeah, right. That would be naive. Because I “looked” honest? Doubt that.

Closest I can figure is that Bobbie trusted me because she really had no choice. If she wanted to order food from me, she had to give me the information I needed to make it happen. Forced into a situation where it was trust a stranger or go hungry … she chose to put her trust in a stranger.

I don’t like to be forced into anything. I’d like to be a trusting person, really. I just have a tough time putting myself in a vulnerable position. I see myself as being pretty strong.

Even in spiritual matters, I am not a trusting person. And so I always wonder, when given a lesson from the Cosmos, if I’m being prepared for a major schooling just around the river bend. Fear? Maybe. Uncertainty for sure.

These people who can just bob along, trusting that God or their families or whomever is going to do right by them … I wonder if they’ve been screwed over. And in the few cases I’ve seen that yes, they have, and still they think that the “best will come …” I have a tough time relating to that.

What am I trying to say?

Bobbie gave me another look at what it means to trust, despite everything in you screaming that it’s a mistake. Day in and day out, I face decisions that will shape my life in the upcoming years. Will I work toward what I think is best — trusting that whatever I can’t control will be OK? Or will I work toward whatever is coming, constantly questioning and doubting that it will be OK, regardless of what I do? Living like that is wearing, I know.

No answers tonight. Just a visual aide from a young woman on the fact that some people can be trusted. Not everyone is “after” me. And that maybe, just maybe, there’s a way to put myself out there without being fearful of the betrayal and heartache that seems to inevitably come.

I guess we’ll see …

Things that realy bug me — post one

Had coffee with a friend today … discussion involved one of her kids. High energy, darling, loving, energizer-bunny type kid (just like one of mine …). Hers is one of my favorite — his zeal for life is good for me.

She’s sharing about how one of her “friends” on a recent field trip “parented” this boy. He was doing something very boy-like … not destructive, not disruptive … just doing boy stuff.  “We don’t do those kinds of things,” this friend said. Mom simply brought boy to her, and left it lay.

Here’s the thing: My kids are my kids. I have four kids, and I’ve asked a lot of people about a lot of things. I have good friends who I trust to bounce things off of, and have always been very conscientious about raising them to be acceptable members of society.

I have not raised my kids to be little cookie-cutter versions of me. I have not raised my kids to think simply like “the system” of the world or the church. Despite what “anyone” thinks, my husband and I have done what we thought of as right, and are damn proud of all our kids.

And you know what? We have good kids. They are not perfect. They are not always easy to live with (but then, neither am I). But people frequently tell us stories about our kids, and their behavior and how they really enjoy being with them. Our kids are good thinkers. They are diverse in their understanding, comfortable in most settings, and are not afraid of hard work or taking the path less traveled.

So … today, I told my friend, “Here’s the deal. You need to try to learn to not listen to people who think they can ‘help’ you raise your child.” Understand this friend is a person who cares about what others think — but it is not her highest motivation. She is quite a bit younger than me, and I reassured her that, at her age, I struggled with other’s perceptions much more. “But,” I told her, “at the end of the day, this little boy is yours and your husband’s.”  His acting socially acceptable to others is not the highest criteria for a kid’s behavior.

Yeah, I have friends who, in my opinion, let their kids run wild. I know parents who are inconsistent, and whose children constantly take advantage of their parents’ weaknesses. But it is still not my job to parent these children. I might avoid them. I might not let my kids spend a lot of time with them. But at the end of the day, until a good friends asks, “What do you think?” I keep my mouth shut.

And, I appreciate others who do the same. I was frustrated for my friend, because she really is a good mom. She and her husband are consistent in raising their kids, and she does a great job letting this little guy be an energetic boy. I told her what worked best for us was to keep our energizer bunny active, busy, and reward him when he accomplished a task I set out for him by letting him run around after completing the task.

We’re so quick to judge others, aren’t we? A lot of judgment, in my opinion, comes from our own inadequacies. We either are not sure of things we’ve decided, or we are overly confident that we have the only answer in certain areas — and child-rearing tends to be a very volatile one. All I know is that, unless you’ve reared a child from day one, you should probably keep your opinions to yourself. Unless you’re asked. Or, unless in endangers your own kids.

Other times, keep it closed, and learn to love with a lot more grace.

Old People

I’ve decided that overall, I really, really like old people. Not for their famously crotchety selves (although that is a lot of fun, sometime), or the way they just don’t seem to get past things that happened twenty years ago. But the stories … wow. The stories of not only the glory days of the past, but the interesting things those experiences have spawned in the present.

I have this friend … let’s call her Dee. Dee is a drop-dead gorgeous eighty (yeah, I said 80) something year old who lost her husband to cancer almost two years ago. She has been overwhelmed by sadness (they spent sixty some years together), and it’s been a long road. She’s held onto her faith, and her sense of humor. She has told me stories of how her husband still takes care of her from beyond, and her honesty and integrity move me.

I see her the other day, giggling and gushing like a twelve-year old. At a recent family function, she ran into an old (hee, hee, hee) friend. “I had a crush on him for six years when I was a teenager,” she says.  They became reacquainted recently, and now her beau (86, for those of you wondering) has spent every day with her over the last month.

He tells her, “At our age, Honey, we don’t know how many we have left. We gotta take advantage of every moment.” He’s working on building her a new house to start their “new” life together.

And I sit back in wonderment, thinking I really am still just a kid.

Or, these two crazy ladies I spent some time with last night. We had a gathering of the senior citizens in our church. I make soup (feelin’ a little reoccurring theme) and they love it (easy on the dentures, you know!), and give me lots of positive feedback. Anyway …

My dad came down to visit, and went with us to this gathering. He’s eight-one, by the way, and a handful. He’s lead a — ah — colorful life, and the older he gets, the more free he is with stories of his youth. Needless to say, he leans over to me at the dinner table and says, “This probably isn’t the right crowd to tell … ” a certain story.

Everything in me screams, “Yes! Tell the story and see what happens.” Then I glanced over to my husband, already worried that Dad and I are whispering. “Probably not,” comes out of my mouth instead. “But you can tell the story about…” which gets Dad going.

Back to these other ladies. Basically, my dad starts flirting with them. Dad says, “How old are those two old girls over there? They’re holding up pretty good.” Translated — they’re cute, and I’m pretty sure they’re within my age range to do some serious flirting.

“I don’t know, Dad, but I’ll ask.” The whole awkwardness with asking a woman’s age ends somewhere between bi-focals and menopause, to the best of my understanding.  I do, and them come out to be 83 and 86 — I was thinking, ten years younger on both. I mean, these ladies are gracefully beautiful, and oh, so feisty. Throughout the night, I watch them trade stories with my dad, and also notice the way they flash their eyes at him, smile appropriately, and even shyly glance and glance away.

They tell me, “It’s been tough to get older. We feel like we’ve slowed down so much.” Let me say right here that both of these ladies tire me out when I watch them work. My son mowed a fairly large yard for one of them last summer, and she had said, “I could do it myself, but my son won’t let me,” and I tell you what, I’ve no doubt in my mind she was lying.

My almost 78 year old, cancer-ridden father in law leaves for India — again — in two weeks. The last time we moved, a man who was 77 left the rest of us in the dust, and was only slightly slowed down last winter when he broke his leg doing something he shouldn’t have been doing, but is now “back to full strength,” he tells me. We have another friend near seventy who just hiked Mount Kilimanjaro last spring, and my dad tricked out his van a couple of years back and still camps by himself up in the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee. In fact, he’s headed down there tomorrow, going to pick up his 94 year old first cousin, and they’re going to do a bit of sight seeing and visiting “while Ruth is still sharp and can enjoy it,” says Dad.

All this to say that I no longer believe my life is on the downward slope, my friends. I know not all old people are like this. But I have an abundance of senior citizens in my life that make me realize it’s only just begun. Honestly. They provoke me to better health and exercise, because I want to be one of those smooth grandmama’s still riding a motorcycle at seventy, and flirting with men a third of my age. I want to bake good cookies and knit, mind you, but I’d like to do it on a sail boat, exploring the Caribbean Islands, on the look out for Johnny Depp.

These men and woman make me smile. And despite all the negativity they can carry with them from years of wear and tear, if you get them telling stories and surround them with other vibrant, fully-living people their own age and younger, you see a beauty and a depth that we, as a society, tend to downplay and ignore.

Not me. I like old people. And I find them refreshing, and fascinating, and challenging, and — dare I say it? Fun. I plan to enjoy every step along my journey of getting there myself.

The Schizophrenia of it all …

I can’t decided what this blog should be, so for now, it’s taking on multiple personalities. Today, meet the Foodie, the person who is passionate with good food, both eating and creating it. It goes beyond the food … it’s the way something good to eat caresses our souls, brings us together, and causes some of us to wax philosophical about veggies, spices, and concoctions!

Todays entry: Fabulous Fall Potato Soup

This is done ala Lois Walker cooking school (my mom) … The woman didn’t write recipes down. She had this thought that a good cook simply got to “know” food, and how things should taste to delight their family. I am there. Funny, but this philosophy also is infused throughout the Kundalini school of Yoga … nothing measured. The cook is to be in relationship with the food, sharing life force and gentle thoughts of goodness and grace with those who eat their creations. Anyway … on to the recipe!

Cube your potatoes (I made about 1/2 pot full of an eight quart pot). Also added a couple of cubed carrots. Cover with water and cook until “almost” tender. In a frying pan I sauted a small onion and about 3T minced garlic in REAL butter. When the potatoes were “ready,” I drained them, added the onion mixture, and then about 3/4 of a “box” of chicken broth, and 2-3 C. low-fat milk (cream is better tasting, but not better on the butt). I let it cook about 15 minutes on low, then took out about 2 – 3 C., blended it smooth, and reintroduced it to the pot of soup. Continued to simmer about 20 minutes to thicken. That’s it! Oh! Salt and pepper to taste for seasoning after I added the blended soup back.

That’s it! I hold tightly to the belief that soup is a curative agent for most things that ail you. May this simple recipe be so for your soul today.

The “F” Word …

Conversation this afternoon:

Me: “Yeah, there are some pretty cool things happening. But I have this philosophy about God and his desire to screw with my life.”

Friend: No response, just the regular smile.

Me: “So, I’ve decided that the safest thing for me in this situation is to not hope. I’m way too afraid to think about hoping for this.

Friend: “It’s OK. I’ll hope for you.”

Overwhelmed and under the wave of grace she plunged me into. I wonder … do I carry hope for friends who can’t carry it themselves? I want to.

Change of Season

Absolutely LOVE autumn here in Michigan. The only way to describe it is changes come blowing in on the crisp morning breeze. You know it’s coming (you’ve been here before), and your anticipation keeps you from thinking clearly. You ruminate over past autumns … people, places, events. And you try to figure out if this autumn is going to be delectably different — or deliciously the same.

I’m in a different place this year. Celebrating more … Wes is in college, I’m editing and writing on a regular basis (not a lot of fund-age yet, but it will come), Starbucks is a part of my past and micro-roasting at home a thing of my future.  Decided that things don’t “happen to you” as much as you making things happen.  Severed others control over my thoughts, my emotions … tied only to those I choose by cords of love, woven by my will and my desire.  Have made a way to, most of the time, operate under a  totally different set of criteria.

Yeah, I like autumn. I like where change takes you and I like the ability the changes give you to think a little clearer.

OK, enough self-actualization. If you want a “wow” moment, check this little tyke out:

Having a drummer (who started young) in my own house gave this post extra-meaning for me!

“The Heroin Diaries”

The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wow! One of the most phenomenal books I’ve read in a long time! I don’t recommend it for anyone under 21, or anyone “sensitive” to drugs, sex or rock ‘n’ roll. Nikki Sixx has lived fasted, died twice, and then really learned to LIVE. His story is gut-wrenching … I cried for the “lost little boy” many times as I read. The last 28 pp. make the entire book worth reading. If you think a rock star has a “glamours” life, read this and weep. While Sixx brought most of the pain onto himself, his struggle with abandonment, depression, and finding himself is (to delve into the cliche) is life-changing. What does a rock star want at the end of the tour? Exactly what I already have … wild! If you’re a little sick, a touch sadistic, and are a sucker for a “happy” ending, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book.

View all my reviews.

Meditations for a Snowy Morning

These were hijacked straight from “Native American Code of
Ethics” (  I thought they deserved repeating here:

1. Rise with the sun to pray.  Pray often.  The Great Spirit will listen if you only speak.

2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path.  Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul.  Pray they will find guidance.

3. Search for yourself, by yourself.  Do not allow others to make your path for you.  It is your road, and yours alone.  Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

4. Treat the guest in your home with much consideration.  Serve the best food, give them the best bed, and treat them with respect and honor.

5. Do not take what is yours, whether from a person, a community, the wilderness, or a culture.  It was not earned or given.  It is not yours.

6. Respect all things that are placed on Mother Earth — whether it be plant, animal, mineral, water, land or human.

7.  Honor other people’s thoughts, wishes and words.  Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them.  Allow each person the right to personal expression.

8. Never speak of others in a bad way.  The negative energy you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.

9. All persons make mistakes.  All mistakes can be forgiven.

10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit.  Practice optimism.

11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a part of us.  We are one large family.

12. Children are the seeds of our future.  Plant love in their hearts and water it with wisdom and life’s lessons.  When they are grown, give them space to grow.

13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others.  The poison of your pain will return to you.

14. Be truthful at all times.  Honesty is the test of ones will within this universe.

15. Keep yourself balanced.  Your mental self, spiritual self, emotional self, and physical self — all need to be strong, pure and healthy.  Work out the body to strengthen the mind.  Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ills.

16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react.   Be responsible for your own actions.

17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others.  Do not touch the personal property of others — especially the sacred and religious objects.  This is strictly forbidden.

18. Be true to yourself first.  You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.

19.  Respect others religious beliefs.  Do not force your beliefs on others.

20. Share your good fortune with others.  Participate in charity.

This is the year …

… that I joined a “real” writing group, and push to write something that worth publishing.

…that I’m going to take that pottery wheel class (classes for my birthday) and learn to make something — anything — with clay.

…that I published ( a book list with a few good friends to keep yapping at me to actually complete.

…that I will see my first kid go off to college, midst my tears and my overwhelming pride.

…that I will learn more about roasting coffee here at home, damn the corporate strongholds, and learn to enjoy the bean ounce by ounce by ounce.

…that I carve out more memories with family and friends, and learn how to hold them more precious and sacred.

…that I don’t make stupid, superficial “resolutions,” but instead focus on living every moment as if it were my last.

Happy New Year, friends!  As a wise, old turtle once said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift — that’s why they call it the present.”turtle

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