Remorseful Morsels

In: Mish-mash, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

My mom was never much of a cook. I am not sure if that is because she didn’t know how, didn’t have time, or didn’t have interest, but as I get older, I am able to relate to more of her and think that it may be because she wasn’t appreciated.

Growing up in Oregon, we had strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, apples and blackberries in our backyard; everyone did. One of, if not the fondest memory I have of my mom is of her making blackberry jam from the berries we picked in the alleyway that connected our house to our neighbor’s. Fingers stained and t-shirts dotted with juice and the occasional swipe of a hand, my brothers and I, along with the neighbor kids, ate as many as we picked and bagged while she stirred and poured in a hot, steamy kitchen. I only recall her doing that once, though the memory is as familiar to me as if it was an annual event. The jam was good so why did she stop? Did we kids make a mess? I’m sure. Did her arthritic back get stiff standing so long? Probably. What happened to make the juice not worth the squeeze?

When I think of that memory, I cannot help but add to it the other cooking classic- her chili. We kids would eat it, along with cornbread muffins, rather than ice cream if given the choice. The making of it included chopping cup upon cup of onions that would have her standing at the counter with tears streaming down her cheeks. With knife in hand she was powerless when we kids would come up behind her and jiggle her butt. We were of course quite young to get away with or to even want to do such a thing but it caused us all to laugh hysterically. The entire experience was satisfying to the palette, to the appetite, and to the soul. We were so enamored with the result that I suggested she could make extra money by making it in bulk and we kids could sell it to people as they pulled up in front of the house. What a compliment it must have been to her. In addition to chili, she prepared five other dishes and only those five. We would tease her about it to everyone and her response was always the same:  “I make what you kids will all eat”. So those five, an occasional TV dinner or a treat of pizza or Chinese, as well as dinner with her parents, made up the full week’s menu. We were all fed and there were never leftovers.

By the time we were all teenagers, sports, friends, and boredom with her limited menu, meant that we seldom were home for dinner. We left her to eat alone and pretty soon, she just didn’t cook any longer, which made me even more critical of her and her lack of creativity, enthusiasm, and commitment to making meals for her family. It became one more reason to withdraw affection from her, as if puberty and teenage angst wasn’t enough. It never once occurred to me that she could have been going out to eat on dates, dining at friends’ homes, as she is a lovely conversationalist whose laugh sounds like music and with a charm and wit that graciously spares a room those dreaded dull pauses. All I knew is that I was never going to be like her and thankfully so.

IMAG1283As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” I am just like my mom, except for three things: I have a daughter who is fiercely loyal, respectful, and honoring of me, almost to a fault, and who is the creator of the handiwork featured in this post; I have a son who loves to cook and who has assisted me, competed with me, and cooked for me, adding to all that I taught him; and I have a son who is a reminder of what it is like to be an angsty, angry teenager, but whose saving grace is that he is much more compassionate than I was and therefore will dole out compliments along with the criticisms.

So what does that mean for today? It means that I get to build on those fond memories that I have of my mom, as well as pay her the respect that she so deserved that I neglected to give her when I was young. With each morning comes a day without any mistakes in it. In the midst of writing this, I called my mom and told her how much I missed her and how I regret that I live so far away. I read her the beginning of this memoir which she found so sad which left me crying and my mom doing what mom’s do- telling me how much she loves me and to not cry because there is still time.

Gull-ability

In: Mish-mash, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

It has been years since I read Johnathon Livingston Seagull and I do believe that I am overdue to read it again. The story has long been forgotten, but the impact has remained. And until today, when I came across some Bach quotes from the book, I could not tell you what the story was about nor what Johnathon’s quest was. How appropriate though that I read it when I was 10 or 11 which coincided with some life-changing events that have made me what I am today. So despite forgetting the story, quotes like the following must have implanted themselves in my mind as I can often be heard saying something similar.

He spoke of very simple things- that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.

“Set aside,” came a voice from the multitude, “even if it be the Law of the Flock?”

“The only true law is that which leads to freedom,” Jonathan said. “There is no other.”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

And what spirit lies in all of creation that it overcomes in order to survive and thrive? The seagull that is featured on this post was one I came across while in Del Ray Beach, Florida last spring. He was separated from the flock…and had only one leg. I know nothing about seagulls so I can hardly speculate if it was alone because it left the flock or because it was being ostracized. Regardless, it was so proud and confident despite its handicap. Maybe it was unaware. Maybe it didn’t matter since flight is its natural state, not standing.

And so it is with humans. Freedom is out natural state. And I feel most free when I am dancing. The unencumbered movement of twirling is symbolic to me of the innate artistry of the spiral that is imprinted on all of creation. Therein lies perfection. My challenge to you is to find that which makes you feel free and to rest in that bliss. The bliss of being you.

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Liberty to Do What is Right

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

Growing up in the 70’s, I recall hearing “It’s a free world,” often. It was typically a response said with a tone of defiance. Whenever I heard it, I cringed; something did not sit right with me, because it sounded more like “Go fuck yourself!” than a joyous expression of humanity. As one who has always loved being unrestrained, I have enjoyed the ability to move about with my body, think and express myself in an assortment of ways, and live with passion. Those times when I was not able to do so was crushing to my spirit. Being free was my source for joy, unencumbered expression, and the communication of my unique self, not an opportunity to be rude, inconsiderate, nor offensive, which is what seemed to be the goal of those most often heard saying “It’s a free world.”

Liberty means the ability to have absolute freedom to do whatever you wish, with the caveat that you not jeopardize another’s liberty. In its most basic form, that idea is summed up with the Non-aggression Principle.  http://

However, I dare say that we can take it even further. The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 10:23 that “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” I shared a version of that quote with my very dear friend, Derrick J, a couple of years ago and despite not being a fan of Paul who is credited with writing it, he loved the concept and agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment. (He has the liberty to agree with what someone may say even if he doesn’t like the person. Inherent in that is wisdom.) It is easy to understand when you consider that one is free to eat junk food, but it is not in one’s best interest. But what about when it is simply abstaining from eating meat because your guest is a vegetarian?

Somehow people have lost their way on this concept however. The act may be something as small as using foul language in the presence of mixed company, claiming, “It’s my party, I can do what I want,” even though it offends the very guests you are hosting, or being late for appointments (something I have been guilty of and am successfully overcoming). Or it can be something far more egregious. I’m free to huck loogies onto the sidewalk, but it is unsightly to others; I’m free to have trash in my yard and not maintain my home, but it offends my neighbor who has to look at it; I’m free to call all those who believe contrary to me “Idiots,” but it is unkind.

Ultimately, isn’t it in my own best interest to be thoughtful, kind, and considerate, exercising the most rigorous of self-government? I have the best chance of having the most friends, the most peaceful existence, and the greatest opportunity for a network of people who will treat me with the same consideration. So liberty is not simply having the ability to do whatever you want; it is also having the liberty to do what is good.

I was challenged by TSA while on my way back from Las Vegas in December when I helped Travelin’ Val with her bags. She has spina bifida and quite clearly could not remove the things from her chair before being searched “for everyone’s safety.” Despite there being 9 agents within 30 feet of her and a near empty airport, not a single one of them lifted a finger to help her. I assured her that once I was on the other side, I would also lift her bags back onto her chair and that she would not be left alone. And for that act of charity, I was rewarded with a second and third search by these same agents who claimed that only someone with something to hide would help a person like that. I was horrified. I asked one of the women why she didn’t help her herself and she said, “Because I don’t have to.” Now that is what happens when people look to an authority outside of themselves to determine their course of action.

We must be diligent in our efforts to stand firm in our humanity. And that means maintaining the dialog of respect for others that is outlined by the Non-aggression Principle, as well as denying ourselves when there is an opportunity to treat someone else to a kindness, convenience, or charity that does not compromise our integrity or principles. Rest assured that if you are a vegetarian and a guest in my home, there will be food prepared special for you; if you are Muslim, we will not be eating pork; and if you are a recovering addict, I will not be lighting up a joint in front of you and will be serving raspberry lemonade and not my near famous whisky sours.

Joke’s on you Suckah!

In: Mish-mash, Red Said

foreclosureIn the article, “Why Should Taxpayers Give Big Banks $83 Billion a Year” on Bloomberg.com, the ethical question is posed as if the author has no clue that it is a false dilemma, presupposing that: one, there ought to be taxpayers and two, that if there are, the banks, chiefly five of them, ought to be recipients of any of the coerced funds. Put aside the atrocious writing on what is considered a professional trade site, the poorly-reasoned argument would not pass an 11th grade philosophy class. Well, at least it would not have 30 years ago. But times, they are a changin’.

To give you some idea of what the subsidy actually equates to, the author claims that “in one relatively thorough effort” (what does that mean anyway? Is that like a “somewhat obese” person or a partially pregnant one?) two researchers — Kenichi Ueda of the IMF and Beatrice Weder di Mauro of the University of Mainz — put the number at about 0.8 percentage point which amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion a year. “To put the figure in perspective, it’s tantamount to the government giving the banks about 3 cents of every tax dollar collected.” And yet, somehow the talking heads have convinced YOU PEOPLE that the tax burden is a result of Mexican laborers or single parents collecting food stamps.

Further, “The top five banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – – account for $64 billion of the total subsidy, an amount roughly equal to their typical annual profits. In other words, the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry — with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S economy– would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.” banks got bailed out

HELLO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you catching that Mr. “I pay my taxes and am a good citizen”? No you are not! You participate in a system that quite simply is casting your pearls before swine, at best, and theft, coercion, and money laundering at worst. How can you stand yourself? If someone were to put a gun in your hand and tell you to point it at your child’s head and pull the trigger or he will rape your wife, would you do it? Or would you fight back? Say “No!” Find another solution? Die trying? Or, would you pull the trigger and then tell your wife that you were scared? That you two can always have another child? That it was in the best interest of the family? That those in “authority” told you to? If so, please kill yourself and stop sucking air from the atmosphere because your breath stinks!

YOU PEOPLE are going to get exactly what you deserve! Nothing! You will have no self-respect, no legacy to pass on to your children, no wealth, no treasure. But the Rockefeller’s, the Melon’s, the Carnegie’s, etc, will. And those who work for them, accepting pay checks that are garnered through these stolen funds. Oh wait, never mind, it’s okay. THOSE people will come buy a hotdog from you, have you clean their windows, especially after your son breaks one and your neighbor is payed to replace it. What was I thinking? It’s good for the economy! My apologies. So keep suckin’ air on your way to work all day to pay half of your wage to the master who will kindly redistribute it where it “ought” to go for the best interest of all.

By: M7Leave a Comment on Joke’s on you Suckah!

Stand Fast

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

Everyone knows the story of how Jesus was sent into the desert to be tempted by the devil. I’ve heard many sermons on it myself with pastors often focusing on whether it was just of God to allow Him to be tempted, or if Jesus, a member of the Trinity could actually be tempted, if He is in fact God. Few times, if ever, has there been a connection to what preceded His right of passage. For those who may not know, He was baptized by John after which time, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God descended upon Him and a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

It was directly after that accolade, the pinnacle of success, when Jesus was led into a trial that would challenge His commitment, His integrity, His perseverance, and His willingness to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term success. Similarly, after the Triumphant Entry when He rode into town with palm fronds laid down before Him, and rose petals tossed upon Him like a hero who has returned from battle in glory, He faced the Garden of Gethsemane. The night of anguish that He endured alone without even the support of His best friends or family to see Him through as they’d all fallen asleep on Him.

How many times have I reached a point in my life when I have done the right thing, taken the high road, had praise heaped upon me only to immediately be confronted with an almost unbearable challenge that has left me calling out, “God, why have you forsaken me?” Does that happen to you? If so, try and remind yourself that Jesus, Himself, set an example for us and in so doing showed Himself to be fully Man. He whined, cried, hungered, suffered, and pleaded for mercy. There is no shame there. But He didn’t quit.

I jokingly told someone who proudly wore ashes upon her forehead on Ash Wednesday as a symbol, not of humility nor surrender, but of pride and superiority, that I don’t give anything up for Lent because God doesn’t like quitters. But I was only partially joking. What He calls us to do is “Stand fast.” We are not called to sacrifice, but to endure to the end, whether that is the end of a trial, or the end of our life. In order to do that though, we must keep our eye on the prize. For me, that prize is creating a legacy for my children to point to and say to their children, and their children to their children, “Your grandma was exceptional in every way that is stalwart and true.”

We are all loved by God. We are cherished like all of creation, only more so, as we are made in His image. And for you parents out there, you know what that is like…even when you are irritated with your child, you still love him without reservation and would do anything for him. So it is with God. He loves you without reservation. So the next time you are faced with a trial, give a moment of thanks that you are counted worthy of the challenge, man up, and say, “I got this,” knowing that the One who led you in, will also lead you out. He wants to see you succeed.

By: M7 Tags: , , | 3 Comments on Stand Fast

Stop and Think

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles

Imagine you are at a stoplight at 2 am with nobody in sight. The light remains red way beyond the time it takes for you to establish that it is safe to travel on. And it continues to beam red. How long do you sit there, burning fuel and wasting time before you go, without the permission of the light? Personally, I don’t. I simply look both ways and then I drive. Why? Because I don’t choose to seek permission for that which is within the parameters of common sense and when it does not involve private property.

I recently mentioned my proclivity for burning red lights to an acquaintance who with shock and awe proclaimed, “But that is against the law!” There are two discussions that arose from that observation: the first being the difference between what is lawful versus what is moral; the second being the absurdity of traffic laws and our choices to obey some, but not others, and our justification for doing so. It is in relation to the second point that I have since been on a rant of ginormous proportions.

I feel like Dr. Seuss…”Would you, could you with a bike? Would you, could you on a trike? On foot, by stroller, or with a skateboard roller? Tell me, tell me…what would it take for you to burn that light?” Nobody would wait, at 2 am, for a light to turn green before crossing by foot, or bike, or otherwise, besides with a car, truck, or motorcycle. It would be ridiculous and possibly even unsafe. So why on earth would one who is operating machinery that has required education, a license, registration, and a level of ability greater than all of the mentioned transportation forms not exercise discretion and push on? Fear. And not fear of causing harm or damage to another, but fear of being caught by an imagined authority who has been trained to generate revenue for the state at the expense of your common sense.

The stop sign in the photo could be found in Nashville, Tennessee after the flood in the spring of 2010. And although it is certainly against the law to travel by boat across the road under normal circumstances, it was exactly what was needed that day to save people, pets, and possessions. So how is that really any different than not exercising discretion at any other time?

Please, please, please, stop and think. Think about what you do and why you do it. And then do only what it is that you believe to be good and true. And let the chips fall where they lie. Then you will be your own hero.

By: M7 Tags: , , | 1 Comment on Stop and Think

Growing Pains

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles, Red Said

growing pains 2Every parent watches the development of their child, the first few years of life, with hawk-eye attention, working tirelessly to encourage him on to the next stage. He must sit up by this date, crawl by this one, sit, stand, and then walk.  There is also the gurlging which coos into “mama” or “dada” and the child is gushed over as if he is a gold medal winner. Sounds turn into words, words into statements and then questions. All of these developmental accomplishments warrant cheers, smiles, photo opportunities, and maybe even a call to more people who will repeat the accolades. For the parents, it is pretty easy at this point to know what to do. Granted, education, environment, genetics, nutrition, and opportunity play a part, but unless there is retardation in growth, these stages are typical.

But then, more often than not, “Stop running!” is shouted. “Stop talking,” “You ask too many questions,” and then unfortunately, “Because I said so!” become the far-too-often-heard responses given, once those adorable little creatures begin to develop into more than just animated dolls. It all works well to ensure the child will mold tightly into a box, never questioning, and equating blind obedience to respect which is what garners affection from the authority figure who had previously rejoiced at any new development.

How does that happen? When learning to eat, messes are made. When learning to control gross motor skills, things get broken. When learning to verbally communicate, the wrong thing is said, and the adults often laugh. So why do we laugh when a little kid says “Shit!” when they are simply mimicking someone else, but we take great offense when the same child says, “Fuck you!” as a teenager? They are still trying to learn how to communicate, so what really is the difference?

Trust me; I am not immune. But what I do that is different than my parents is that I am conscious of my hypocrisy, so I work to be consistent; I am devoted to growth; I am committed to trying, no matter how many times I fail, because I love my children and do not see them merely as “the next step” but rather valuable and unique human beings who were entrusted in my care and for whom I would give my life, whether that means taking a bullet, or swallowing my pride. Although, sometimes I think the former would be easier.

I was known by them as Honey Mommy. I was perfect. I adored them and they adored me. Everything I did was magical and their lit-up faces filled me with pride and a sense of accomplishment. But I knew that it was my job to equip them to leave the nest. So at age two when they first asserted their independence, I cheered. However, it got harder, especially when I ceased to appear perfect to them and they found the words and courage to criticize me. It was devastating.  But as difficult and painful as it is to me, I would not change their characters. They are critical thinkers, compassionate human beings, passion-driven participants in life, and fair. They are also loyal- loyal to me, but now, first loyal to themselves. I did my job.

I only hope that there are other courageous parents out there doing the same and that their children will meet up with mine and they will soon give me grandchildren so that I can go back to being perfect and as is the gift that goes with being a grandparent, my perfection will remain. Until then, tissue, exercise, prayer, chocolate, and the camaraderie of a few good friends for whom I am eternally grateful and inspired. So keep on keepin’ on with those beauties of yours! Be courageous, thoughtful, fiercely committed to the task, and love with abandon those little acorns who are growing into their mightiness. They are our legacy and proof we lived.

 

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I love Zumba!

In: Fit-n-Fab 40's, Mish-mash

Yes it can take weight off and tighten up that core like nobody’s business. But even better than that is the attitude adjuster it is for me and others. My kids called it my “therapy” and right they were. It kept endorphins flowing through health and fitness set-backs, a divorce, and more gray days than this California girl thought she could tolerate.

I suggest wearing something comfortable and trying it out. This video has clear steps and pretty girls.  Shake that moneymaker and get out there and sweat!

 

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Etoile, My Heartsong

In: Mish-mash, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

The barrage was pelting down on the roof with machine gun speed and repetition, while the rainwater gushed down the drainpipes creating reservoirs around our downtown Nashville home. It was a terrible storm for sure but nobody had any idea that the water would cause such severe flooding- the nearby Cumberland River rose to 50 feet, more than 12 feet above flood level. People died, homes were destroyed, and the music capital of the world suffered devastation as the legacy stored in the city’s catacombs, as well as the Grand Ole Opry itself, succumbed to Mother Nature’s deluge. Not even animals were safe.

So when my teenage sons came bolting downstairs from the 3rd story, nearly hysterical, and motioning for me to hurry, I felt the panic a mother feels when her child is in distress with added drama from the violence being hurled from the heavens. As I stepped into the boys’ attic bedroom, my first thought was “What the hell are you two doing with the window open?” But then I saw what it was that had them so upset. There was a baby bird that had fallen into their window onto their shelf. Tiny, vulnerable, with its breast barely moving, eyes shut.

031“Mom, it just fell in,” my youngest said breathlessly, with desperation in his voice. “I opened the window just for a second and it just fell in. Can you save it?’

Could I save it? Looking at my sons who had brought me rodents, bunnies, a bird who had gotten caught in chicken wire, and even insects, with heartbreak and hopefulness, I knew that something magical was happening. My eldest son was already well on his way to thinking that I was an idiot, but the youngest still believed that I could do anything. I was going to do everything I could to save this bird, not only for the bird’s sake but also to give my son a reason for his trust.

That first night, the storm raged, and I worried. The bird, whom I had named “Etoile Volant”, Falling Star was brand new, possibly even just hatched. Without a momma to nestle it, keeping her warm was going to be a problem. I made a “nest” in a heart-shaped candy box stuffing it with grass I’d dried and torn-up paper towel. I set her (I decided she was female) atop the nest and rested the box inside of a shoe box and placed a plastic water bottle filled with warm water next to it to radiate heat. All night I fretted from inside my room, falling asleep just before dawn.

That morning, I bolted upright as soon as I awoke and ran downstairs. She wasn’t moving and my heart dropped. I used my index finger and rubbed her a bit wondering how I was going to tell my son. And then I felt the tiniest movement. She was alive! I was so thrilled. Over the next few days, the challenge was keeping her warm and feeding her. I used medical tweezers to pry open her mouth and insert mushed-up worms and a water dropper to wash them down using filtered water and the teeniest bit of 020sugar. I had no idea what I was doing. But three days of that and she was squacking loudly and eating up to eighteen worms a day!

The waters had subsided but the damage was everywhere. My eldest son’s swim coach had lost his home; friends had lost their businesses; and there was a chance that Etoile had lost her momma. I took her outside where I taught her to perch in a tree and even tossed her in the air, hoping flying was an instinct. As I did it, it seemed “flap or fall” was the name of the game. And starting that third day, I sat her in the middle of our lawn trusting that if her momma had made it, she would see or hear her as she had become quite vocal, much to the chagrin of my eldest son.

And on the 5th day, we were blessed to capture on film the first worm fed to our little beauty by another bird who we imagined to be her mother. After feeding, little Etoile was hidden away in the bushes where she resided for a couple of days after which she was strong enough to go further. It was my first experience of “letting go” of a baby and prepared me for my daughter who “flew the coop” at the end of that summer. She was also a lesson to my children of the affection and tireless care I was able to give that helpless thing and a picture of what I must have been like when they were infants.

I may have saved her life but she gave me a beautiful opportunity to love; she gave my children an opportunity to see me in a way they had not before; and she was a reminder of how even in the midst of a storm, life persists if you can endure the struggle and have a little help along the way.

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