Tag Archives: joy

Contentment – it really is close at hand………

 

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“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature” Socrates

Contentment, yeah a wonderful way to feel, contented. The word even sounds good, I tend to say it softly with reverence.  Last night after I did my yoga flow, I thought about today.  A day of rest. I get wrapped up in my practice in good way.  I feel the balance it provides me. I like when I feel like I am on track. I take pride in it. Life seems good. Some times my practice feels annoying,  I run negative tapes like, “why do I need to dedicate so much time to my practice?”.  The old poor me, “what’s wrong with me, is there so much wrong with me that I am straddled with dedicating so much time to working on things?” Wait a moment, let’s reframe that.  Try a different approach.  Where does content live?  What makes me feel contentment? This is the fork in the road I talk about, the choice we have.  We can decide to think of anything from a different angle.  I heard a great line in a movie we watched yesterday,  This is where I Leave You, think about this, “anything can happen all the time”. Love that!  Think about taking stock about what has been accomplished, what has been sorted out, along with just living through our days and finding the joy where it is, this is worth reflection.  What makes us feel contentment?  I am pretty sure it is right up there with gratitude, we have many sources of contentment, just as we discovered there are so many things we are grateful for, everything that brings us contentment are many more than we ever imagine.

I am going to free associate here, let my mind float and make a list of the things that give me a sense of contentment presently.  Remember just like your gratitude list, list the smallest and silliest things that contribute to your contentment, they all count. Close your eyes and begin, once you have a few, you will feel the flow……I am writing, John is here watching football, companionship, nice toasty fire, great holiday weekend, my good friends grandson is coming for a visit, soup month is here, spending time with a 7-year-old, taking one week off from therapy, good sales in my shop, my daughter is well, my daughter is in love with a good man, my muscles are stronger, I am able to make this list, Jamaica is on the radar, we have dear friends, my siblings are thriving, I sleep in a comfortable bed, I feel inspired, I have a new bracelet design, I work in my studio at home,  prayer comes easily to me, I am in the mood to do the work…….writing these here I clearly see how gratitude and contentment are the same thing, many things we are grateful for bring us a contented feeling. I drove in the driveway recently and noticed the kitchen light was on, it gets dark early now, I was grateful to see it.  That light meant John was home before me. I felt my body get warm, not because it is wonderful to be married to him, or that I love him, or that he is my lover, it was the “hi honey, I’m home”, and the gratitude I feel for his companionship, and this quite simply makes me feel very content.

Wow, this was interesting.  I have never specifically made a list of things that provide a sense of contentment. I can see and feel how much contentment and gratitude overlap. It makes sense, things we feel grateful for provide us with that sense of contentment. This focus – exercise is a great idea.  It opened me up to the reality that there are more things that make me feel content than I imagined. Try it, remind yourself what brings you contentment.  It is always good to remind ourselves what is positive and what works for us. It is a great approach.  I have discovered my contentment is everywhere.

I had an amazing visit with my dear friends grandson, Cody. She was off to see friends and hear some music. Cody would have my undivided attention., another way to put that, he would keep me completely entertained for the entire time I am with him. He did not disappoint.  He brought over so many goodies.  He gave me a deck of cards he got on his recent trip to Disney World, and mom brought me new pictures, great gifts! We have an ongoing card tournament, Fish, I have never been in the lead I am always catching up, and I am trying to win!  We built Mixels, they are Lego creations, we studied the Muppet Identification Book, he led me through the coffee table book, The History of Homer Simpson, we played United States Scramble, a fun learning game, we drew and colored, and it was all fun.  I adore the company of children.  They are a blessing.  I adore how clear he is, full of energy and excitement.  We have such a good time. I do not have any grandchildren.  He is all the evidence I need to see how fantastic it really is.  I also watched my friend bloom since the day he was born.  We had planned to make dinner together, but when it came time I was genuinely tired, we ordered pizza and later heard from mom that pizza is his dream dinner. I know he has fun too!  It is a very special relationship I have with Cody, and I treasure it. Talk about content, just spend some time engaging with a child, they will bless you and you will feel totally content. And like I heard from so many grandparents, “the grandchildren are wonderful, and then they go home”. I understand that so much more than I did before. I can be the heroine, I am not the mom. Now that’s a cat-bird seat, a fabulous place to land, feeling completely content and in the moment, only to feel a great sadness, because yes it is true, they do go home.  Yes, his Nana came to pick him up I could see he was onto the next part of his day, a place he adores, being with his Nana. The more you think about something you will think bout it more and more. Think about your contentment and where it dwells. Do this mindfully. Invite contentment in, welcome it. Offer this up to the universe.  See that contentment is all around you.  Relax, take a seat, sit down into your contented place. Know that your contentment is there for you.  Be mindful, life just got better…………..

“When you get to the fork in the road, take it” Yogi Berra

Always dazzle, Karen

 

-SOUP- sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice……

 

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 This post is dedicated to my daughter, Blake………..

January is upon us. I am thinking of the promises I have made to myself, I am working on them, keeping my promises to myself……What I am thinking about is soup. Soup, soup and more soup. Soup is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. It is my favorite thing to cook. It is my favorite thing to make for others. Soup recipes are my favorite ones to share. Teaching people to make soup is one of my favorite things to do. I have a connection to my daughter with soup.  She is making it professionally as I once did, I enjoy nothing more than hearing what kind of soup she is making and how she is making it. My hat is off to the chef! Soup, certainly one of life’s greatest meals. It is meant for sharing. It is meant to comfort, it is a culinary healer.  I see January as a vast sea of calm. It is a quiet month. It is the month I re-group.  It is the month I read new books.  I save books to begin reading in January.  The read always seem better in January.  It is the month I dream of spring. It is the month I make soup, a lot of soup. I collect recipes all year.  I make soup all year-long.  I discover new recipes and I set them aside for The January Soup Festival.  You know, there’s Woman’s History Month and Black History Month, well in our house, we have Soup Month.  I love to cook. I did it for a long time professionally, I worked as a chef. I am a good cook. I enjoy it, I am completely passionate about it.  My great cooking skills have enhanced my marriage.  I have a great guy to cook for.  He is grateful for my cooking, he loves my cooking. There is only one thing I have made for John that he did not care for, Cuban Pork Roast.  Let’s just say I have a captive audience.

Soup is my greatest culinary pleasure. If you make a great soup, chances are you are a great cook.  I have gotten my recipes out in preparation for Soup Month.  We will take down the Christmas tree and Soup Month will commence.  We look forward to it. I love the process, the recipes, the grocery lists, the marketing, making the stock, prepping the soup, making the soup, and drum roll, eating the soup.  Soup is mom and apple pie to me, it is comfort, it is home and it feeds my soul.

During my illustrious career as a cook, I was the head chef at a small eat-in, take-out shop in Vermont. I am very proud of my work there, I learned many of things there that fine turned my skills.  We procured delicious fresh raw ingredients to prepare amazing, delicious fresh food. We had a wonderful lunch crowd, a line out the door crowd. We were steadily busy usually for two hours. This is where my love affair with soup began, I had some incredible teachers.  We offered three soups each day. We had a chowder, a vegetarian soup and one other like Beef Barley. We sold 1/2 pints and pints. Our baker made delicious fresh rolls, sourdough, rye, and whole wheat. Folks ordered soup with a roll. We spilt the rolls and slathered them with butter. Off the folks would go, certain to be delighted.  We had big soup fan club, it was a delight to me. We had an open kitchen, long before it was hip. I could see the front door. I loved the open kitchen. I would spend the lunch rush out working the counter, I enjoyed the contact with the customers.  I took their words seriously.

One day a regular customer, a man, a quiet man, he came in alone, after the rush. He never said much. He always took his food to go. There was an old mill near-by that had been renovated in to artist studios.  I knew he was a sculptor, his studio was in that building. He came in every day during the week for lunch.  He always had a pint of soup and a roll.  This particular day, he gently waved me out front. I naturally assumed something was wrong.  I had no idea I was about to receive my favorite (to this day) compliment ever. I greeted him, his name was Bill. He said, “you can go anywhere in the world and all you would ever need to do is make soup”. Whoa! I thanked him profusely, and he was gone.  It was like a dream.  I have had the best visual fantasies about traveling the globe and making soup.  I have thought about different cultures and countries and the cuisines of those people and places.  I would travel place to place, making soup, and soup and more soup. It sounds like the perfect journey to me. I offer my thanks to Bill, this man, the soup loving sculptor for his compliment he uttered so long ago.

Each January when I launch soup month, it actually began early this year. We had ham for Christmas dinner. Timing is everything, I had the ham, split pea soup it was and it was Yumbo (delicious).  I will keep you in the loop as we move through the wonderful month of January.  I will let you know every time I make soup.  It’s Soup Month, we are off and ready to create.

What do you have planned to launch in the new year.  January – full of possibilities.  How will you use your talents in January?  How will you sashay into your new year? I always sashay in, as I always wrap up the year with a flourish, whether I am in my favorite flannel pajamas or a ball gown. It does not matter what you wear, what is key is that you show up.  A very wise woman told me a long time ago, “God doesn’t care what you wear to church, he only cares that you show up”.  I have believed it ever since across the board.  I believe that God cares that you show up in your life.  Show up in your life, see yourself in your life.  We can design the set, we can’t stop there, we must show up and “get on set”.  So all I have to say is, What is your “soup”?

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: Maurice Sendak – Chicken Soup with Rice

The Smile Game

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“The ability to be in the present moment is the main component of mental wellness” Abraham Maslow

I am having some afterthoughts regarding my last post, The Art of Being Present and Making Authentic Connections.  I was thinking about being present and connecting with people and getting ready to write this post. What I am feeling mostly is gratitude.  I am grateful that this important to me.  Employing these practices has enriched my life. I have learned that I like people more than I thought I did, I am a people person. People have so much to offer, so do I. The previous post addressed being present and sharing my simple practice of connection. I had a fantastic flashback after I published that post and I want to share it here.

I was a teenager. My best friend and I rode the train into New York City. We were passionate about these regular adventures in to town. Gosh, we had so much fun. It is so wonderful to have a memory such as this bubble up from a place so long ago. I don’t think this memory is one I have consciously remembered before. Every trip into the city was an adventure.  We were in high school. Our plans always revolved around going to a museum, it was all about seeing art. It wasn’t just museums, it was galleries, shops, stopping to sketch architectural elements, it was people watching and walking the city streets. It was about lunch too, seeking out food that was new and different to us. We were fearless and brave. We ate hot dogs from street vendors, Italian ices in Central Park, Chinese food in small family owned restaurants, we adored deli, and occasionally we would dine at Horn & Hardart, an automat, just to sit there and patiently wait for that empty spot to be filled with another sandwich.  NYC was our oyster, we had not a care in the world. Looking back I sense that we felt completely present. We would head to the city early in the morning to arrive as the city was waking up.  It was always Saturday, a different kind of day in NYC, not the hustle and bustle of a work weekday. We lingered over our time, we drank the day in. We savored all that we experienced.  We enjoyed all the activities we planned, but we remained open to some of the spontaneous things that happen because we were open to that. We would head home in the late afternoon getting the 4 o’clock train. Our parents were picking us up and we usually were having a slumber party at one of our homes.  We never missed our train. We always arrived at Grand Central an hour or so early.  We had a game we played, it was truly a highlight of our day, we called it The Smile Game. We adored Grand Central, we could have spent the entire day there.  There was a large receiving room from the street as you entered.  You could walk straight ahead in to the main room where the ticket windows and the gates to the trains were. There were rows and rows of hard high-backed wooden benches to the sides of that center aisle. The men and ladies room were at opposite ends, with an aisle through the benches.  We would grab seats in the first row so we could see the men or women headed to the bathrooms. We needed those front row seats so people could see us. The smile game was just that – make eye contact smile and see if we could get a smile in return.  There were many people we never made contact with.  They were lost in thought, hurrying along completely unaware that we existed. Some stared blankly, some scowled, and some pretended that they did not see us.  Then it would happen, someone would smile, we were thrilled. There were days that we thought no one would smile.  That never happened. Others made eye contact, smiled and said hello.  We would return their hello, but never start a conversation. The woman’s side always had more responses than the men’s side.  We made up stories about the people as they walked by, oh the things we did not know. These people were older than us dealing with everything life was dishing out, they were experiencing things we knew nothing about. We were so young, 14 a and 15, and so innocent, clueless. This was pure friendship before life was dishing anything up to us.  We were free to be present, our minds and spirits were not cluttered with the business of life yet.  Right now, I am wondering if we were to go to Grand Central what would happen nearly 50 years later?  Sadly, I do know, it simply would not be the same.  I learned years ago you can’t go home again, the same applies to playing The Smile Game. Those are moments in time, in the past. I lost track of my best friend as my family moved to California at the end of that school year. We kept in touch for a while, not long.  Today I feel as though I have had a visit with her, the memory so vivid and so real. Yes, it is okay to be present in a memory, but it is not where I want to dwell. The memory was clear as a bell. I think this bubbled up out of long ago because The Smile Game is an early version of my practice today.  The visit to the past was a pleasure. I am back, delightfully and gratefully so…..

This trip down memory lane and the joy I felt getting those smiles validates why I enjoy a real connection with others today.  The practice is simple. When you interact with anyone, make eye contact, take your breath and quietly say your word (I use Namaste), centering yourself, opening up the possibility of a real connection.  You can practice in the mirror.  Look at yourself, take the breath, say the word you have chosen.  Feel the connection and the energy it generates. Looking in the mirror allows us to use the practice to connect with ourselves, nothing wrong with that. Any moment we are present is a wonderful thing. These moments add up to spending most of our time being present, being present is what opens us up to every possibility. Today I celebrate The Smile Game I played so long ago, my take away is all the joy I remember I felt making those innocent connections, a memory of moments spent in the present.  I am grateful this memory came to me, I enjoyed it, it was a great comfort to me.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: www.hudsonfineart.com