It was a perfect moment of the understated kind. One where nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking occurs; nothing terribly exciting or memorable has happened. Yet I think it’s when I knew something had indefinitely changed. She looked so comfortable sitting with her skinny legs stretched up on my dashboard, her eyes having finally closed, succumbing to the joy of a late afternoon nap in the passenger seat. The sun was beginning its decent behind the rolling California hills, projecting a warm orange hue thru the open windows of my car, (all of which were sending the kind of summer breeze through our tangled hair that makes a summer breeze worth mentioning). The National sang on the stereo to us in a just-before-dusk way; sounding warm and velvety, calm and effortless. My skin held the faint scent of chlorine from our swim in the hotel pool and had pinked and tightened a bit from the time in the sun. I knew we needed to stop for dinner but as each rest stop and small town turn-off passed us by I couldn’t bring myself to wake her. She just looked so…small. Like someone who had seen too much life for her age. Like a child you want to scoop up into your arms and soothe after they’ve fallen down by saying ‘it’s ok, you’re safe now, I won’t leave you.’ She’d never outwardly asked for help from me. I'm not sure she'd accept it if offered. But looking at her so still in this moment I knew I wanted to protect her. Her usual sound, one of a chaotic embrace of freedoms, had dipped to a steady hum keeping time with her breathing. Her presence now seemed like the white noise from a fan turning on a hot summer night, when you sleep with just sheets and your hair still damp from a bath. I hardly recognized her. And I wanted to keep her this way. I wanted to keep her safe. I didn’t know how I was going to accomplish this; I had no money, little resources. I had made quite the mess of my own life in the past 3 years and there wasn’t much on the horizon that suggested an imminent change. Who was I to get involved in her life this way? What did I truly have to offer? But the moment was perfect. The sounds and the smells and the views and the warmth and the stillness...they were perfect. The details could be left for later. For now I would just breathe her in, content in this feeling of loving my new friend.
"It is about focusing on our blessings--We are masters of taking things for granted, and taking things for granted is one of the greatest assaults on our lives. We must teach ourselves to notice the wonder of it all, the blessings all around us. We must practice gratitude. We have to learn how to make the ordinary events in our lives extraordinary--because that is what they are...It is about living in the now--Our goals are wonderful, but they are not our life. Now is our life. The joy of the process is more important than the actual reaching of our goals." - Susan Jeffers
Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! My apartment still smelled a bit like turkey and stuffing and biscuits when I woke up...I don't hate it.
I've become a somewhat decent cook over the past few years, which basically means I've managed to master a handful of recipes passed down from my mom and otherwise so long as I'm super strict on following a recipe, I can make just about anything (ballsy statement I may regret soon). Yesterday during my Thanksgiving feast prep I accidentally sliced a green pepper super unevenly...annoying! But just as I was about to say 'what the crap girl, such a crooked slice'...
I realized my pepper was pregnant! Yep folks, that is one little baby green peppa inside my momma peppa. Ahh, so cute! Clearly I was meant to cut it wonky so that I could get a good look at this little surprise :) Best part is that the pepper is organic, which means it just naturally grew that way and not because of some coo coo cachoo chemicals! Loves.
Of course I then had a wave of guilt wash over me for exposing the lil' guy...so we put him on display next to the mini olive oils. It seemed fitting.
Then momma pepper was sliced and diced to help me make my most favorite Thanksgiving side dish...stuffing! Now, this is a really bad photo. I'm still mixin and fixin in this picture, hence the look of mush. But this recipe is *always* a hit with guests, even if they are wary of the secret ingredient at first....
Shrimp! Don't cringe, you'll love it and wake up from dreaming about it for days. And here's the recipe (with my mom's expert changes);
-1 lb. raw shrimp, cleaned, quartered
-2 tablespoons margarine, melted
-1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
-3/4 cup water
-1/2 cup chopped celery
-1/2 cup sliced green onion
-1/4 cup chopped green pepper
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
-1 teaspoon dry mustard
-1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 package (6 oz.) Stuffing Mix
-1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1. In 12-inch frypan, cook shrimp in margarine over medium heat just until shrimp begin to change color.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients, except cheese. Cover and continue cooking 5 more minutes over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese before serving.
Mom's magical advice:
-no need to add cheese if cooking in bird.
-if cooking in bird, no need to ‘cover and cook for 5 min’
-can use a bag of herb-flavored (any brand) croutons for stuffing
Hopefully you've already taken a peek at the "About" section to this little site and have an idea of what I'm trying to accomplish in my postings. Instead of repeating any sentiments here, whaddya say we just dive in head first? Ready? Let's do this...
While I was toying with the idea of starting a new blog I took a trip down to Southern California to visit a very dear friend in her new home. And as I pondered the direction my blog should take (how I would structure it, what I could possibly contribute to the great www that would be of any value to anyone, etc) I decided to stop stressing over the details and just enjoy my time with my friend. The ideas would come naturally if I let them, I thought. So I did a whole lot of ocean gazing instead, snuggled up in a brightly colored blanket, sitting next to someone who fills me with love regardless of our distance.
Shortly after taking a breath and a break from my brainstorming, like it always somehow manages to do, the Universe sent me my first little clue...
While shopping in Brentwood, a suburb of LA, (our attempts at a celebrity sighting failed, but our spirits were not crushed) I randomly picked up a small metal paperweight inside a cute gift shop with the following message inscribed;
Five Simple Rules For Happiness:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live Simply.
4. Give More.
5. Expect Less.
Clue #1 received, Universe.
Clue #2 came from the beautiful home I was staying in. I really loved a simple something my friend and her sister had started doing together called "Food For Thought". Essentially they take turns writing quotes, questions, thoughts, lyrics, poems, etc on a chalkboard located in the kitchen as a way to spark both internal and external conversations. It serves as a simple reminder to mull over some of life's great mysteries, and to appreciate the beauty in words. I was told at the beginning of my visit that I would be able to leave behind a FFT upon my departure. After a few days of considering my options, I chose a quote I recently stumbled upon from a blog I enjoy in which the author quotes, as she says, "the universe" . Here's what I wrote;
And for those of you without superman vision (I snapped this fuzzy shot of my messy handwriting with my BlackBerry), my Food For Thought read:
"What if, my darling, loneliness was simply a feeling of impatience, telepathically sent to you by friends you've yet to meet, urging you to go out more, do more, and get involved so that life's serendipities could bring you together...Would you still feel alone?" - the universe.
I can't tell you how much this question speaks to me. Loneliness as merely a message from future friends and loved ones encouraging you to be open? Beautiful. I loved the idea of FFT so much, I've decided to incorporate into my own life and home. I can't wait to have guest additions, too! Thanks, Billings sisters :)
Clue #3 came during a trip to Barnes and Noble. My friend is an ace with good read recommendations and must have pointed out about a dozen books to me that afternoon. I eagerly jotted down each suggestion in my BlackBerry memos, making excited mental notes to check the library when I got home for their availability. Then she picked up a small book and said "You would really like this. I read it right after I read one of Pema Chodron's books and I just think this could suit you right now." Without a second thought or so much as glancing at the title, I purchased it. I'm not exactly sure why I had the urge to impulse purchase this particular book as opposed to any of her other great recommendations, but I will go ahead and believe it's for a good reason. The book is titled The Four Agreements and my hope is that after further reading (and digesting) of it's teachings I'll be able to write a full blog post on it. For now, I hope you'll trust that its simple message is more applicable to my life (and probably yours) than one paragraph will allow me at this time. OK, OK...As a teaser, these are the "four agreements"; 1. Be impeccable with your word. 2. Don't take anything personally 3. Don't make assumptions. 4. Always do your best...so far so good, yea?
Sitting in the airport Wednesday night waiting for my quick flight (quick, *free* flight actually, as I'd used a free e-certificate to purchase this travel...winner!) to SF my thoughts wandered back to the creation of this blog. I'd just spent 5 days with a best friend (practically a sister) in beautiful San Clemente. We'd laughed and shared. We ate delicious food. We listened to music, read books and watched the ocean. I was heading back home to start a great new job. I felt I was gaining new perspective all the time and continued to be pleasantly surprised at how the Universe kept finding unique ways to send me encouragement. I was learning to be open to all things. What was this funny little feeling welling up inside me, causing me to smile so awkwardly for no reason in front of my fellow travelers? I checked my heart, sure to be present in this moment, and whaddya know...I was thankful. I wanted to pass it along to everyone on my flight! Give out hugs! High fives for everyone! Share my headphones with the lady next to me while we tapped our toes together, wordlessly enjoying a good song to feed our souls! How could I spread these good vibes without being arrested (or tasered, I hear you pee yourself when that happens)? How could I somehow preserve this gratitude; store it away for a rainy day when trouble may find its way into my life and try to trip me up? Where could I build a savings account of gratitude to help support myself on the less chipper days?
And thus, a blog was born.