A Message of Peace

It is easy to express words of gratitude, peace and love when you aren’t challenged, when things are going along swimmingly, when the world seems to sparkle in the blessings of the season.

I have seen little of that in the past few weeks. And while I have tried to keep my inner world as peaceful as possible, I have failed there as well.

Be careful what you wish for.

The other day I told my daughter I felt like everything would be alright if only I could spend two full days in bed. My post-November 8th world had taken it out of me. I was tired and needed a break.

Within two days I got my wish! Marvelous isn’t it? Well, not really because…

Boom!

I got the flu. And got to spend those two full days in bed. Because I literally couldn’t do anything else.

Now, sliding toward the side of a somewhat healthier state, I have to laugh at how powerful our subconscious mind really is.

In the era of Orange Boy, it feels like the subconscious collective mind has been given a platform where it gets to shout out to the world like never before. And because of the public’s voracious appetite for scandal and negative news, we listen, curl our lips, puke a little in our mouths and wonder why the world has become so ugly.

This morning I watched a video of a bilingual man and his brother get escorted off a Delta Airlines flight because a woman felt uncomfortable when he spoke Arabic to his mom on the phone. He videotaped it and posted it on Facebook. While I didn’t see what happened before that, I watched as (white) people waved him “good riddance”. He was later interviewed on a radio show where he admitted he cried after having to deplane.

Our lives have come to this. Social media has fueled such negativity when it was meant to be a connector. When I first joined Facebook almost ten years ago, I thought it was a silly little platform where I could send virtual ‘gifts’ to my old college friends. It has turned into the largest stage for shouting and spewing falsehoods. And yet I can’t seem to get away from it, as if by some miracle, everything will look different if I check in just one last time. As if the hatred and the bigotry and the ugliness would end.

I realize that such things have always existed. Social media has simply made it more visible for the entire world to see the injustices that exist. Yet I can’t help but believe that it is feeding a negative impulse that is growing within our global collective mind.

So if my subconscious mind can land me in the bed with the flu for two days, I speak from its source to give a message of peace:

  • If you don’t know first hand about something, question its truth.
  • Never stop asking questions.
  • Treat everyone as you would have them treat you. Would you want to be kicked off a plane for speaking your native tongue such as English?
  • Know that nothing is impossible. If Orange Boy can become President, we know this to be true.
  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • When in doubt, opt for love. Fear feeds fear. Love conquers all.

Wishing you a peaceful, beautiful holiday season, all. May 2017 shine with the glitter and sparkles of love that each and every one of us deserves.

The Sliding Holiday Scale

September and October used to be the months of fall with colorful splashes of pumpkin orange and blue skies. If you were to believe the retailers, however, you would think it was Christmas. Since early September — before my kids even returned to school — grocery stores have been selling holiday sweets. At times the thermometer read 25C (78°F) and the chocolate Santas sweat alongside us at the check-out counter.

The saturation of holiday cheer well before we’re even thinking about roasting chestnuts by an open fire got me to thinking. What are the holidays really about? I mean before consumerism took over and everyone strapped on their boots for the mad rush to the local mall?

For me it is about reinforcing what is truly important in my life. And for me, that is family.

Ussed with permission by Lifetime

Ussed with permission by Lifetime

Lifetime is running a series of somewhat sappy, yet heart-touching movies around the holidays. Of the half-dozen screeners I could have watched, I selected to review “A Gift-Wrapped Christmas” airing November 28, 2015 at 8 pm ET/PT and starring Meredith Hagner (Men at Work), Travis Milne (Rookie Blue) and Beverley Mitchell (7th Heaven). The film is about a personal shopper who falls in love with her workaholic client. While the protagonist may seem to represent our consumer-oriented thinking around the holidays, the underlying message really touched me – her selfless striving to make others happy with her personal gift selections turns her grouchy client into the soft, loving puppy he was prior to his wife’s untimely death. While one could argue you don’t really need expensive Italian suits to make you happy, the movie’s message goes beyond the drive to buy people’s love to a more subtle meaning of the holidays. We love; therefore we give.

So before you stumble over yet another holiday decoration at the downtown mall, turn up the fires of your heart to remember what really counts, no matter the season.

 

Lost in Translation – The Ultimate Cookie Fail

Slow food is the ultimate comfort. I’m not just talking about the comfort it brings when all you want to do is pull the cover over your head and secretly eat homemade brownies, but the kind of comfort that reminds you when you first tried the flavor that you’re enjoying now.

At this time of year, I get, shall we say, cranky. I miss my US family, the days are shorter on light than Lady Gaga’s long on design ideas, and it seems I’m the one to “do Christmas” while everyone else enjoys the fruit (and cookies) of my labor.

So when my mama and I were Skyping (and laughing a lot ~we were both at work respectively, but we faked it for an hour!), she shared her famous choco-macaroon recipe that I’ve known since a child. Filled with a new sense of purpose, I put down the headphones and went straight to work.

I tried, people. Really I did. But substituting shredded coconut with coconut chips was a. bad. idea. Or using diet condensed milk instead of Carnation’s.

And let’s not even talk about the English versus the metric system or the fact that the homemade vanilla extract I made (thanks Make the Bread, Buy the Butter) won’t be ready until March 2012.

Notice the vodka bottle. I hate vodka, but the recipe for making said vanilla extract that will be ready next spring calls for it. I swear I felt like a bum buying it at the grocery store, but I smothered it with the vanilla beans at checkout and slipped it into my purse before anyone could see it.

Do you want to see what choco-macaroon cookie fail really looks like? Alright, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Sensitive viewers may need to look away while scrolling to the next picture.

Coconut carnage here…

…and here.

Look at the hope! Those neatly positioned ingredients and the patient hand (not pictured) that scraped those coconut carcasses from the parchment paper!

Alas, there will be no choco-macaroons for Christmas this year.

You think I would have known it was coming. A week prior I had attempted to make cinnamon stars that turned into stockings really quickly. My husband, who is not the demanding or quick-to-respond type, was the source of that inspiration. When asked which type of Christmas cookie he wanted, “Cinnamon stars!” shot out of his mouth like a bat out of hell. I’d never heard the man answer me so quickly! Later I found out why. His mother revealed to me that she refused to bake them.

Forty years of pent up cookie yearning. “These are great, hon,” he smiled as he chewed, then swallowed them like a wad of bubble gum.

Whoever said love goes solely through the stomach? Maybe it’s the intention that counts.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie recipe? Share it and I may just try it. Maybe I won’t fail with yours!

Don’t Enter the Dog House this Holiday!

So I got a few last-minute Christmas gifts today. Why? It was my husband’s request. And I have to say it felt pretty good, you know? No frenzy. No worries. It was like this part of the gift hunting was gravy, like the cherry on top. There’s something to be said for holding off until the idea strikes you (of course, I’m not talking about procrastination here ~ just an ease and grace that comes with taking it slowly!).

But first, consider my conversation with my husband this morning.

(background sound ~ *Chuscha chuscha* the scrubbing of a broom. Husband is washing the tiled hallway on the top floor for the first time in two years.)

Husband: Are you going to Expert (think Circuit City) today?

Me: (considerable pause b/c I was actually headed to the gym) No.

*Chuscha chuscha*

Husband: Oh, because if you were…

*Chuscha chuscha*

Me: What do you need?

Sound abruptly stops.

Husband: That sports video game for the Xbox I bought…for our son.

*Chuscha chuscha*

Me: Okay. I’ll get it. But this year there’d better be a reaaaaaally good gift for me waiting under that Christmas tree.

Watch this video (thanks to www.latebloomerbride.com for first posting it there)!

Guess who’s watching it next? Woof! :)

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A Mindful Christmas

POM Pomegranate juice
Image by gabster_ro via Flickr

The month of December is stressful for a lot of people. The holidays add to the tension and for some, light deprivation deeply affects our moods. During this season of light (or lack thereof!), we need to engage in empowering activities that bring the love closer. Because I am sensitive to the lack of light at this time of year, I engage in a self-made winter empowerment program. It involves exercise, lots of pomegranate juice and practices of self-forgiveness during moments of crankiness.

When I came upon Barbara Kilikevich’s book, A Mindful Christmas: How to Create a Meaningful, Peaceful Holiday, I felt a sense of relief. Moving beyond the consumer madness, we can rejoice in knowing our bodies are allowed move a little slower at this time of year. After all, bears hibernate. Why shouldn’t we?

Helpful tips from Barbara’s Website include:

∙ Organize your Christmas so that it is less stressful
∙ Add Meaning to your Christmas season without added expense
∙ Protect the Christmas Spirit in children
∙ Remember what you love most about Christmas (it isn’t gifts)
∙ Avoid post holiday let down
∙ Glide smoothly back into reality after it is all said and done

Celebrate your holiday slow-style by remembering less is more and more is too much!

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The Winter of Rest

Oh rest ye merry gentlemen…

Our house is bursting with holiday cheer. The naked Christmas tree is about to be adorned with every bulb we’ve ever owned , not to mention all the holiday trinkets my mom has managed to send us over the years.

Voluntarily, I slid in the Kids Pop Holiday CD on my way to pick up my daughter who happened to miss the school bus home. Jet out in the snow to the place I had just returned because said daughter went into the school house to warm up when the bus was late, then missed it altogether?

Sure!

Christmas time is near after all. And while ye merry gentlemen get to rest, I get to drive in a half-blizzard to gather the neighborhood kids (along with mine) because I’m just that kind of gal.

For the first time in my life I have come to appreciate winter time. What better way to slow down than encase the Earth in ice? You can’t drive fast. In fact, sometimes all you can do is sit by the fire and read, snuggled up on the couch.

It has just now gotten cold. The snow adds to the cheer of the season. Cold out. Warm within. You’ve just got to love it.

So while we toss the tinsel and hum a merry tune, I’ll be thinking how nice it feels to rest like the trees, sucking in their sap until March when the warmth of the sun returns to replenish our supply of verdant vibrance.

Have a slow holiday. You deserve it!

Holiday Slowdown

My article on the top ten ways to slow down this holiday season has found resonance in quite a few places. It seems we become so harried this time of year. And yet it is the season of light where the Earth is the darkest.

So as a reminder here are ten simple ways to live the power of slow in shorthand. The great news is you can apply them all year. There’s no time like the present to give them a whirl!

1. Create gadget-free spaces. Don’t talk to the hand. Talk face-to-face with other people.

2. Try snail mail. Write a thank-you letter, not an email.

3. Busy is a mindset. Try saying the words “I have time.”

4. Disengage from clock combat. Instead of watching it like a hawk, embrace it like a dove.

5.  Manage expectations. If Little Johnny’s not getting that $1,000 mountain bike, don’t choose Christmas morning to tell him.

6. Eat mindfully. You are what, and how, you eat.

7. Banish multitasking. It will wear you thin in the long-run. Studies show it does not save you time (nor is it neurologically possible to focus on more than one thing at a time anyway so stop trying!).

8. Say ‘no’ with kindness. Acknowledge, show interest, then politely decline.

9. Slay your inner pig-dog, that procrastinating self that says ‘now is never a good idea’.

10. Embrace time abundance, the notion that you have more than enough time to do what is required to fulfill your ultimate purpose.

Your purpose this holiday? To celebrate with joy, love, and laughter. Share your time with someone else. It is the greatest gift you can give.