This, That, and the Other

A Little of This, A Bit of That, and The Other: Hickory Nuts is the original title of this, my weekly column. I am getting a little tired of having to thank David for his inspiration once again, but David, once again, thank you.

This

As a self-proclaimed wordsmith, I found a term which I bequeath the “Word of the Year” award. The word is one I have never come across before—but both its spelling and meaning are soothing. Susurrus, pronounced “soo-sur-uhs” is defined as a soft, murmuring sound.

A favourite blogger of mine is a Canadian living the American dream. His blog, Live and Learn is one where I find the most charming quotes and astute observations. It is where I discovered my new favourite word, its definition, and subsequent context. Described as one of the most beautiful words in the English language, it “resembles the rustling symphony of the fallen leaves moving across pavement or the whispers created by the branches of the trees on a windy autumn day.” The vivid picture painted by such a description is one that I would like to be water coloured into.

The definition goes on to say that “uttering susurrus also stimulates the acoustics of nature’s effect” and is “one of those rare words where it’s aesthetic, sound, and feel coincide beautifully.”

That

I was watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Channel program “15 Minute Meals” early this morning, and while I really like the chef, I have a bone or two to pick with him. The secret to his 15 Minutes Meals is all in the preparation. He has all his utensils out, the food processor at the ready, and the water boiling for his pasta or potatoes or whatever culinary delight he is preparing that needs some boiling. This is cheating. Everyone knows that to get a decent boil going for a pan of water takes some time—yet this is not part of his 15 minutes. Nor is the time that it takes to set up the meal—getting everything out and half-prepping it (washed greens, unwrapped cheeses, and unscrewed lids).

I am not particularly fond of spending time in the kitchen on a daily basis. On occasion I like to cook, but the daily grind is just not something I look forward to. So when I am promised a 15 Minute Meal, I want to only spend 15 minutes. Any more than that, and I feel cheated. Seriously, Jamie’s meals would take most of us at least 40 minutes—and that is still not too long to spend on fixing a meal if we are told the reality of the situation. But to advertise something as 15 minutes and it to turn out to be 40 is not a good thing (I asked Martha and she said I could use her tagline).

So, Jamie, while I still love your show—quit trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

The Other: Hickory Nuts

I am pleased as punch. Now, how pleased that really is, is a complete mystery to me—but I am using this phrase to tell you how happy a mystery benefactor has made me. Someone, who will remain unnamed at this point (mainly because I do not know their name), left me a bag of hickory nuts after reading my columns nostaligizing the lovely nuts.Their note read “I enjoy your columns, particularly the one on hickory nuts” or something to that effect (the note has been lost in the plethora of papers that surround my desk—but I did not misplace the little nuggets of goodness).

So, to that person I have two things to say: 1. Who are you? 2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your writing looks somewhat familiar, but I could just be fooling myself into thinking that I recognize it. I must tell you that I am enjoying the hickory nuts immensely.

In the old days, I used a hammer on my parent’s brick outdoor fireplace to break into the little fellows, and capture their nutty goodness (some of which I had to forego as we were tasked with getting the meat of the nuts for a cake my mom would make). Instead of getting the hammer out, I found my nutcracker (until this point only used at Christmas) and a little utensil that comes with it to dig the tiny pieces from the crevices of the shell. Now, this is no easy task, but once a morsel is successfully unattached the reward is a gustatory delight. You may think I am overstating it, but the hickory nuts have brought back wonderful childhood memories. They taste of the woods, autumn, and times past. Again, I say thank you.

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Published in: on November 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm  Comments (21)  
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You Just Have to Do It in a Different Way

Türkçe: Name of the God

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, instead of providing a bona fide recipe, I am going to share with you a Recipe for Life. It comes from blogger Lois and her blog livingsimplyfree.

On Fridays, Lois does a wonderful post pointing her readers to blogs from which she has gleaned some joy, information, or a laugh from the previous week. This week, as one of her favourites, she featured a post by Paul Mark Sutherland called “Failure”.

This piece of philosophy, derived from Rehanna Moammadi really “spoke to me” due to a variety of things happening in my life right now–but I think it is just good general wisdom for all of us. So without further ado here is my prescription for life ~ when you think maybe you are on your last nerve, or close to the cliff:

Failure

Failure doesn’t mean you’re a failure

It does mean you haven’t succeeded yet.

Failure doesn’t mean you haven’t accomplished something,

It does mean you have learned something.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been a fool,

It does mean you have a lot of faith.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been disgraced,

It does mean you were willing to try.

Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it,

It does mean you have to do something in a different way.

Failure doesn’t mean you’re inferior,

It does mean you’re not perfect.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your time,

It does mean you have a reason to start fresh.

Failure doesn’t mean you should give up,

It does mean you should try harder.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it,

It does mean it will take a little longer.

Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you,

It does mean he has a better way.

These words are not magic, but they can have that effect if you let them. Even if things did not work out the way you wanted them to, you have learned something–but the line I liked the best is that failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it, it just means you have to do something in a different way. This line gives me bliss.

What line in Moammadi’s wisdom speaks to you and puts you on the road to bliss?

A New Approach – Or Crazy Is As Crazy Does

The sceptical look

The sceptical look (Photo credit: Bjørn Giesenbauer)

I am going to try something different today. I am going to put Ms. Sceptical on a shelf and do something I am not sure has merit, but I am not sure doesn’t.

There are those of you who are much more enlightened than I; your philosophy has a depth I perhaps cannot begin to understand, and you know that your ego is really a bit of a jerk so you have parted ways with it, if not literally at least figuratively. {Ego does not have to be a bad thing per se, if it is a healthy sense of self-esteem, but so many times it crosses into its inflated guise, where we teeter on the border of superiority. But that is a subject for another day}—back to~

What is the different thing I am going to try today? I am going to take my own advice (which sounds much easier than it is). My husband and I are awaiting some news right new that will determine what path we take next. And once again, yesterday, the decision was put off. It is not something that is within our control—it seems to have a life of its own—and anyone who has ever been mired in a lawsuit knows exactly what I mean.

In an effort to fend off the reaction I know my husband is going to have (if things do not go our way—and with the judicial system you just never know), I tried to explain to him that sometimes the messages we send out, come back in the manner in which we sent them. In other words, if we are negative, we get negative back. He was not in the mood for this (he is generally quite open minded, but right now is too stressed to take on any new practices). So I have decided to do what I asked him to do: give up on what I cannot change, accept it, and move on. But move on with a difference.

The difference will be that I am going to try to send out that which I want to receive. All those crazy people who believe we should send positive messages to the universe may not be all that crazy. I do not believe that this will magically change my life (but if it does, so much the better) but what could be the harm? Always thinking the worst, so far, has not been much help. There are people who say that we are self-delusional if we think these methods work, that we are putting our eggs in the wrong basket, and not accepting things as they really are; or we are setting ourselves up for an even bigger fall.

But, I say to these people, what have I got to lose?

crocus

(Photo credit: polkadotsoph)

I am reading “You Can Create an Exceptional Life” by Louise Hay (a champion of the positive if ever there was one) and Cheryl Richardson. Throughout the book they have provided numerous affirmations: things we should say to ourselves that many of us don’t, but the one I like the best and intend on repeating with some regularity is this:

“All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good things will come.” ~ Louise Hay

There are many many affirmations throughout the book—some of them I find a little too—I don’t know, what it the word?—bizarre for my world, but many, if adopted, could do no harm. I will not be putting a mirror up in every room in my house soon (as Louise suggests) and tell myself that I am beautiful, but I will be trying to practice positivity on a more regular basis.

As you can imagine, there is not just one way to approach this—but the two I am going to work on are optimism and patience. Optimism defined in the book is “putting attention and energy toward solutions rather than focusing on problems.” Patience is “experiencing the journey fully and consciously rather than rushing to achieve a particular result.”

Perhaps with these two things in my arsenal, my journey to find bliss will be a little less rocky. What do you think?

Future Bliss

Rosebud

Like this Rosebud, I am still waiting to bloom.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A service has been invented through which you can send messages to people in the future. To whom would you send something, and what would you write?

This is a timely prompt from lovely Michelle at WordPress, as I have not been looking forward to my upcoming birthday in April. I  have come to the realization that I will not be wandering this little place called earth for as many years as I have lived thus far. I am going to be 60 (sob, groan, ackkk!) and I am fairly sure I am not going to live another 60 years.

When I was younger, 60 was not something I could  easily imagine–and when I did, I imagined that I had “arrived”; that I had reached my ultimate goals; that I would be ensconced in comfort.

It is not so much the age of 60 itself that has me bummed out–it is the fact that I only have so much time left to “arrive”.  I am fighting the feeling that the book is closed and that my goals are unattainable, so I am going to write this letter to my sons in an effort to give them advice, and me some hope:

Dear Adam and Tyler;

As you read this, I am a vibrant 80 year old. I did not reach some of my goals until later in life, as I have always been a late bloomer. But along the way, I learned that even if I did not feel like I had been a “success” in the normal sense of the word, I reached success on many levels.

I found love with your dad; I found my maternal instincts as soon as I had you guys (it was an amazing transformation by the way as I did not know that I really wanted children until I had them); I worked at jobs I did not like; I worked at jobs I loved; I had a business of my own and learned that I would rather buy books than sell them; I learned how to be a “mother bear” advocate for you guys; I tried to learn to let go (even at this age, I am probably still struggling with that); I learned that family and friends can get you through anything; that losing your parents is rough but their voices stay with you; I have learned that success is not just financial (though it does make it easier); and I have learned that you should never give up.

As the two of you progress down the sometimes smooth, sometimes wretched path of life, keep in mind that in the end it is all worthwhile. You have seen your parents struggle, and now you see us comfortable in our own skins. Even though we are eighty, we live life as if there is no tomorrow, because as we all know, there may not be.

Live life well and fully. Enjoy good times even in the bad times. That old saying~this too will pass~is true, even though some things we would rather go away, do not go away fast enough.

You are loved, and my best successes!  ~ Love mom

I know that this letter to my sons twenty years down the line has fallen into cliché but I do not care–clichés are there for us to use–and sometimes they do the job. I am looking for my bliss today–in twenty years I am certain I will have found it and put it to good use.

What would you say to your loved ones from your place of bliss?

 

Published in: on March 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm  Comments (58)  
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Make A Plan

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! (Photo credit: Kelvin Servigon)

I have received a lot of advice in my life. Some I ignore. Some I am delighted to receive. And some I have to digest before I use it.

The following four short pieces of advice {which really meld into one} are from one of my favourite foodies, Rachael Ray, and they will stand me in good stead this holiday season if I take the time to heed them.

So (drum roll please), here are her pithy words of advice:

Rachael Ray Mag

Rachael Ray Mag (Photo credit: Bekit)

Less is more

Keep it simple

Invite People

Make a plan.

She was referring to entertaining, but I think these words can be used in so many facets of our lives. The only change I would make is to “Make a plan” then “invite people” but that is just the way I roll.

This holiday season I have to keep in mind what is important. As the days wind down towards the big day I have a plan–I know that making my thumbprint cookies with seedless raspberry jam is more important than making sure every room in my house is spick and span; I know that making some good and  simple food will make my family happy and that creating fancy unfamiliar dishes would only cause stress; I know that wrapping the presents in whatever fashion I can, is more important than making sure everything is perfectly bowed and all corners sharp; I know that  family and friends are more important than my to do lists.

So, as I pare down my expectations, I do not pare down what makes this season merry and bright–good food, good friends, and family as well as something to open, something to drink, something to eat, and something to laugh at. And, oh yeah, better not forget to make the fudge.

What is the one important thing you must do to make your holiday merry?

Gifts ~ Is It the Thought that Counts?

Pile of gorgeous gifts

Pile of gifts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Care to appear happy…..” ~ Saint Therese

Do you ever buy yourself Christmas presents? I do. One of my presents to myself this year is Gretchen Rubin’s book “Happier at Home”. I loved her first book, “The Happiness Project” so thought I would get this sequel of sorts.

In the December chapter of her book, she gives two particularly good pieces of advice. The first is taken from her favourite “obsession”, Saint Therese of Lisieux, whose philosophy entailed taking “care to appear happy and especially to be so.” (p. 116) This  quote from the Saint who died young of tuberculosis, tells me that being happy is something we can conjure up, something that is within our control, no matter how we feel. We can be happy (or at least appear so) if we set our mind to it for the sake of others.

The other piece of advice Gretchen provides in this chapter is extremely timely.  She says that Saint Therese emphasizes “the importance of accepting gifts in the spirit in which they are offered, instead of responding to the gift itself,” which is just another way to “care to appear happy.”

This takes us out of the equation and puts the emphasis on the person who chose the gift for us and the thought and trouble that went into the choice. I love this! I have been guilty in the past of just looking at how I will use a gift, or what I will wear it with, or whether I can keep it alive, or any number of other things, rather than the fact that the gift is an offering of love, thoughtfulness, kind-heartedness and consideration.

So, this holiday season, I am determined to take the time to respond to the spirit in which the gift is given rather than the gift itself.

Gretchen does draw the line at passive-aggressive gifts though. She says that sometimes the spirit in which a gift is given is not all that kind—for example, when someone is gifted running clothes, a certificate to a spinning class and an electronic calorie counter—a none too subtle message is being sent.

I myself would be very unhappy to receive gifts that emphasize “organizing your life”—I am afraid I would have trouble accepting them in the spirit they are given—since that spirit would be a little annoying. I do not need a “teaching moment” gift. (Pearls would be nice though–a single black pearl on a silver chain in particular if anyone is wondering–this is useless as my husband does not read my blog. It is something that he is going to get around to some day. That day has not yet come.)

Have you ever received a gift that you had to remember the spirit in which it was given, because otherwise you would wonder what the heck the person was thinking?

 

Always Christmas

christmas 2007

(Photo credit: paparutzi)

“…if you can keep it today, why not always?”  ~ Henry Van Dyke

Better than observing Christmas, is the “keeping of Christmas”. Or so says Henry van Dyke, American author, educator, and clergyman.

van Dyke was a bit of a religious guy, being a clergyman and all and he really had  a way with words. They are the words of a formally well educated man of his era (late 1800’s), but his message is clear. In his essay called “Keeping Christmas”  he gives us a recipe of sorts for not only keeping Christmas in our hearts but in being proactive about it.  He asks:

“Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people and to remember what other people have done for you;

to ignore what the world owes you and to think what you owe to the world;

to put your rights in the background and your duties in the middle distance and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;

to see that your fellow men (and women) are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy;

to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life;

to close the book of complaints again the management of the universe and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.”

Henry van Dyke (1852-1933), a modernist who pu...

Henry van Dyke (1852-1933), a modernist who pushed for revisions to the Westminster Confession of Faith, 1900-1910. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And he adds:  “If you can keep Christmas for a day, then why not always?”

Do you try to keep Christmas “always”?

~ A Poohism To Get You Through Your Day ~

 

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you think of Things, you find that sometimes a Thing that seemed  Thingish inside  you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” ~ A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh (Photo credit: JayPLee)

 This quote is known  as a “Poohism” and is part and parcel of the wisdom and philosophy of Winnie the Pooh, from the series of books created by A.A. Milne for his son.

Children are very wise. They understand the complicated statements made by their favourite characters. They know that Pooh is smart despite the fact that he is always saying that he is a Bear of Very Little Brain. And they know that sometimes something they are thinking inside their brains becomes something very different when it sees the light of day.

When I first read this statement I did not necessarily think of it as something positive. Sometimes when we reveal what is inside of us to other people they think we are rather odd; or the way we express ourselves does not magically trip off our tongue quite the way we imagined. But  sometimes giving those thoughts a voice can help disperse them, especially if they are thoughts of fear or revelations of angst.

Doodle You

Doodle You (Photo credit: neonbubble)

There is a sensitive blogger, summerteifi, who doodles her thoughts and by doing so gets them out in the open. Her advice is this:

“Express yourself, embrace creativity to help release these fears, pain and worry. Once out on paper, they soften and feel distant and become reassured by the motherly parenting parts of yourself. And if they don’t, keep doodling, keep sharing, keep expressing and never stop knowing this too shall pass.”

So how do you get your Thingish things out in the open?

      


~ ALL IS WELL ~

Hay

(Photo credit: maraker)

Bloggers make good muses! I am getting so inspired by other bloggers and what they provide on their blogs that it is hard not to use them as my muses.

Today on Misifusa’s Blog, (presenceofpresence) she offered her readers a short video featuring Louise Hay, the great inspirational and motivational author and speaker. This lovely lady is 86 and carries with her all kinds of wisdom—but today her words particularly hit home. She was being interviewed and gave some advice on how to deal with problems when they raise their ugly heads.

Deutsch: Louise Hay in London , April 2008, Sc...

Louise Hay in London , April 2008, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ms. Hay says that when she is confronted by a problem, first she says “All is well” then follows it up with: “Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come, and I am safe.”

She says that uttering these words “quiets your inner turmoil down enough to give the universe time to give us a solution.” Now, you can define universe however you want. For me it is a combination of getting my wherewithal together, combined with a little faith and hope.

The last question she was asked in the interview was:  “Where do you go from here?”

She said: “I don’t know. Life will bring it to me.”

And that is how it goes—life provides us with the next step—all we have to do is believe that “All is well.”