Tag Archives: uplifting

-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

Making Changes ~ a change becomes reality ~ you have encouraged yourself ~

 

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“as we light a path for others, we naturally light our own way” Mary Ann Radmacher

Do you ever wonder if the changes you make are having a positive effect? The moment you experience the validation that the change you have put in place is working, a wonderful feeling.  Some changes produce evidence rather quickly. Dieting for example, you change your eating habits you begin to feel better and you are dropping pounds. Hard evidence. Other changes produce more subtle results. It may take a while especially for a “doubting Thomas” to get the validation we all need – results.  My prayer for myself is that I am able to decide on a change I desire to implement and I can stick with it, be all in, regardless of the amount of time it takes to know that it is, in fact, in place. Think of results as what keeps you going, and as time passes your commitment grows stronger. The changes we implement that have the more subtle results require patience. You may need to be even more strident to keep going toward your goal. Eventually you will feel the changes are having an effect. The period of time that passes that seems to be growing long, is exactly where you will need your patience, it needs to be strong. Hang in there.

i have studied this, and true change is designed to take time. I gather it takes twenty-one days for your change to become a habit, for your commitment to become a working change. I go with a month for any change I am working toward to become a reality. Once you see and feel changes are working, of course, that is just what you need. It is an amazing feeling of success when you open yourself up to a new way. I have found when my patience is being tested that visualization is the perfect tool to sustain my commitment.  I see myself, feel myself, and I know that I have reached the day where my hard work, commitment and patience have added up to the success we all crave, reaching the goal of change becoming reality.

I have been tested this week. I truly believe that things happen for a reason and occur when it is time. This past Sunday afternoon my ankle felt more numb than ever before. I removed my shoe and sock to check it out. I was surprised to see my ankle was swollen. Had the edema returned? Had I injured my ankle without knowing it? Was something wrong? I know in my heart and with my intellect that I have a great working practice in place. I remained remarkably calm, surprising on so many levels.  I will admit I got a bit panicked. I instantaneously assumed the worst case scenario.  I thought okay that is a reasonable response. So, I sat with that reaction, I had given myself a break, thinking it is okay, but what else was there? The main thing I am working on in this period of real healing and recovery  is the critical element of my perception. I have discussed here in the past that the “events” that blind side us, push us down and knock us off our game are just that. I thought the specifics of the events were not really as important as how we deal with them.  How we handle our reaction is that process that has given me solace in the past.  Something has happened and I need to deal with it well and things will get better. I learned recently from my therapist, I have been missing a key step in this assessment process. It is simple, but I had completely missed it. It is my perception of events and the most important element of your assessment is it being real and true. Once armed with the truth getting to the process of dealing with what has occurred certainly will be more productive. Please note coming to terms, armed with the truth is not always easy. Take that deep breath and give yourself the time you need to see clearly to what is true and real. If you rush forward to deal with a problem without a clear perception you outcome will be fruitless. I have integrated this step into my process. I am waiting patiently to see if these truths will set me free.

I had an event, and I let myself spiral down to worst case scenario. I have given myself a break for that initial reaction. I take that deep breath and begin to sort it out calmly. I make a clear as assessment of the event, so I may proceed with my true perception. None of us like to consistently sit in reaction to life. It makes us feel powerless, but on the surface allows us to avoid dealing with the event and having to tell ourselves the truth. Lying to ourselves is not an option, it is not healthy and it is the roots of denial. Do not let that denial plant grow and bloom, that is much more difficult to deal with than the truth. The truth will set you free, it allows you to deal with things in real-time. It does not serve us to put things in boxes and store them in the denial attic. That is not healing. That is adding to the problem, not to the solution. Be a part of the solution. This fosters being able to take action, not sitting numbly amid our denial, merely reacting to our events.  Taking action, empowering, now that is part of the solution. The most important element is the ability to take that breath, the pause, and getting to the truth you require to move forward. Take the time you need, do not drag your feet. Try it, you will love this change, perception is everything. I discovered something very important to ‘take the time you need’ this past week. My very astute and compassionate therapist pointed out that occasionally in order to cope we need to put events in boxes and temporarily put them in the closet. I resisted this statement, but when she mentioned that eventually the box will press on the door and spill into the room…..well that made sense too. I am a visual learner and visualizing this, it made sense to me. What you may need in real-time is to cope, so taking the time you need may require that you put it in the closet, to deal with it later. When it does spill into the room, you will unpack the box, shake the events out neatly folding them and putting them away closer to being dealt with. This reminded me that it is all a process, the journey unfolds and it just requires that you take the time you need. If this provides you time to cope, I see clearly that this point is well taken.

I have an upcoming appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. A man who, yes is a surgeon, but remains in touch with his humanity, and is a an extremely caring and compassionate physician. I am so grateful to be in his care, he takes very good care of me, I couldn’t ask for better care.  I began to wonder should I move my appointment up?  There it was again, a little bit of panic.  Remember it was Sunday when I noticed the swelling. I had to wait until Monday morning to call the practice. I waited.  I called and spoke to the amazing, well-informed woman who holds down the practice like an air traffic controller. You speak with her and things get done and fall into place, she is very good at her job. I told her what was going on and should I come in sooner?  I was concerned. She ran a laundry list of why my ankle may be swollen. She helped me gather the information I needed, I asked for her help and she offered good information, but she would check with my doctor and make sure they were on the same page.  If he thought it was necessary that I come in sooner she would let me know, if not, I would come to my appointment as scheduled. I assured her I knew what to do, I had become quite an edema expert this past summer. I would begin taking my herbal/vitamin combination to treat my edema. I would treat my ankle daily with hydrotherapy, hot and cold treatment to stimulate circulation, which in turn reduces swelling or edema. What I had gained from speaking from her was a way to think about what was happening. No, I don’t know what is causing it, but I do know how to treat it.  Momentarily I became agitated as I was going to have to make room (time) for treating my ankle. The same frustration I had felt in the past reared its ugly head, why do I have to spend so much time and energy addressing my healing?  Well I quickly swept those thoughts away, as I know that is an express ticket to a pity party. We have a choice. I continued to sort what was happening. I had collected enough information from my doctor’s office to know there were no red flag disasters ahead. My approaching appointment would work fine.  I would proceed to treat my edema/swelling with what I knew worked. I had made it through the tight part in the river, squeezing through the rocks and the rapids, calmer waters were ahead, it felt positive. I was letting go, the truth was setting me free. I continued treating my ankle. Each day the treatments worked, each day the swelling returned as I was up and on it, although sleeping with my leg elevated always resulted in a morning where the swelling was down. I struggled with getting up and getting on with what I liked to be doing during the week.  I wanted to have breakfast with my sweet husband, and send him off with his lunch, hugs and kisses. But wait, we put his lunch together, which I usually prep the night before, he said he would pick up a breakfast sandwich at Dunkin Donuts when he stops for his morning coffee. Imagine that? He was perfectly happy (well he does love those sandwiches) and I am fine too. I am dedicating my time to treating my foot. I am pleased with making sure my perception is true.  It enables me to take action, being part of the solution.  Yes, it may be taking up my time right now, the time is not wasted, it prevents me from sitting in reaction creating more denial. It isn’t always easy, but it is encouraging. The light at the end of the tunnel burns a bit brighter today.

It is a relief, being part of the solution. Seek your truth, fine tune your perception and move forward to deal with whatever has been put on your plate. Find your gratitude and take those baby steps, you must take all of them, they move you forward toward your light. You, like I will be just fine. I promise.  I must tell you now what my practice brought me to. A thought as powerful as any of the negative reactions I first experienced. I saw clearly that the swelling could mean that obviously something was happening and changing, could it mean that my nerve was healing?  Holy cow! I had received the validation I required to continue, to keep going knowing that I had implemented a change and it was in place, it was working. Pure elation! There is a world of help available to all of us.  The big take away for me through the process of implementing this change may be three simple words, “I need help”. I discovered and you will too, that there is no shame in those three simple words. Help will not knock on your door, yet it is waiting for you to ask. A smart person who desires real healing and recovery seeks the truth, uses all the available help, treats all that are there to help very well,  and once your perception is true you are free to react in a positive and productive manner becoming part of the solution. The validation is there and you will continue to walk toward your light. We have choices. We are free to experience true healing and recovery. It is there, available to us, I say, “go for it”. Make a change, work hard to implement it, be kind to yourself during the process, realize it is in place, and give yourself credit, you did it! Be sure to take a look back at the path you choose and you will see a clear and smooth way that you traveled, ah, go ahead and realize that you and only you were the one who set up all the barriers along the way. You now know that you can make necessary changes, encourage yourself armed with a clear and truthful perception, you are healing and recovering, because you, my sweet friend, are the only one who can do that. The truth will set you free.

I hope that this finds you feeling well today and in the best of spirits.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: beautiful picture, photographer unknown.

~The Story of The White Robe~

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“Never say you are happy when you are sad…Never say you are fine when you are not okay…Never say you feel good when you feel bad…Never say you are alone while I am alive”…xo

The week before I was scheduled to come to the hospital on a Monday morning I had time on my hands. I planned it that way. No panic, not any last-minute anything. I had all my bases covered. The countdown had begun. It reminded me of a pending NASA launch, it was T minus something and counting.  The passing of time became very surreal. The closer the surgery day became the slower the time passed. I could hear the tick toc of the slow clock. My arrangements were all made, I had battened down all the hatches at home, may bag was packed. My husband was taking me to my surgery. Time on my hands. I had been casually looking for a plain, white, lightweight cotton, mid-calf, wrap around robe with a belt. I wanted it for those walks down the hallways. A much better look than two hospital johnnies (gowns) one worn backwards. I wanted a bit of style as I walked those hallways. Looking good when I was able to walk again seemed fitting. I thought it would be easy to find, it wasn’t. I went everywhere, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Penney’s, even a few small boutiques, No white robe. I looked online, no white robe. The more I looked and did not find it, the more I wanted it. It is always the way, the more you want something and can’t find it, the more you want it.

My best friend, my Alabama best friend, Angie called, she was checking on me. Checking how I was doing with my count down to the big day, my surgery day. I told her about the hunt for the white robe. She immediately said, she could find me the white robe. I told her not to worry about the robe, I was being a bit obsessive, it is not important. She wasn’t hearing that, she was on a mission.  I knew there was no stopping her. I continued to look, no luck. Angie called late that afternoon. She was at a small lingerie shop in Mountain Brook. She had found the robe. Unbelievable! I naturally interrogated her – was it a white, plain, lightweight, cotton, mid-calf, wrap around, soft and comfy robe? Yes, yes and yes. It was shipping in the morning. What could I say? The only thing you can say when your best friend is taking good care of you. Thank you. I had faith that it was perfect. I curtailed my search, I could hear the tick toc of that slow clock. Time was moving very slowly. It always does when you are waiting. The parcel arrived the next afternoon. The robe was perfect, it was exactly what I was looking for, it was just what I visualized to a T. It fit like it was made for me. Yes, it was soft and comfy. Good to know I had my “hall” outfit, I put it in my bag.

We have a couple of great sayings in Alabama. I learned both of them from my friend, Angie. The first one, “I love you like my skin”, now that speaks for itself. That is some kind of strong love!  The second one, which I am particularly fond of is, “If you need me, I will be there in a heartbeat”. This is not a statement that is used casually. This is serious business, they really mean it. I thought, “A New York second”, was fast but an Alabama heartbeat has that beat, hands down. Yes, Angie had taught me that when she said to me, “If you ever need me, I will be there in a heartbeat”.  She meant it. I met Angie when we were both young, teenagers! We have grown up together through everything life has brought to us. We have shared it all, the highs the lows, the joys and the sadness. We have carried one another, we have dragged one another, and all of the happiest moments of our lives have been enjoyed together. What happens to her happens to me and what happens to me happens to her.  She is a keeper. I live in Massachusetts, she lives In Alabama.  The distance has never mattered. Every moment through our forty-year journey has made our bond that much stronger. We are a force. I have no idea who I would be today had I not met Angie. A keeper from the moment we met. Her friendship is a treasure to me, it is a pleasure and an honor to call her friend. I can see so clearly that there are no coincidences, we were meant to be.

The white robe speaks volumes, it illustrates the story of our friendship, our connection and deep respect we have for one another. What I cannot do she can, what she cannot do I certainly will try to do. Angie recently wrote, “Every step you have taken this summer, I have taken with you”. I know this to be true. I know I can stumble and fall here in Massachusetts, and she will catch me in Alabama. Honor and respect your close friendships they are precious and priceless as well. They will save your life over and over again. A friendship needs to be tended like a garden, so it will grow and bloom over and over again. Never take it for granted, you have a responsibility to honor, respect and nourish it. You will reap what you sown. The friendship garden is the one you want to flourish, put your whole heart and soul into it, it never waivers, it is yours, a very soft and safe place to land.

Let this be a love letter to my dear friend Angie, as well as a thank you note, as I am sure in the days of my crazy summer, I am quite sure that a proper one was never sent.  Miss Angie please know that I am always close, right here standing in your light, and what a bright pure light it is. The details are never important, you always say the same thing, “what can I do?”. It always surprises me, blown away how you are there for me, you and your energies are a delight to me. We will talk tomorrow, as we usually speak everyday, what a blessing that is because a day without you is like a day without sun. I will continue down the path, on my journey toward my true healing and recovery knowing that you are there taking all those steps with me. I will be standing up just a little bit taller, striding with great determination energized by your love and support. Our friendship is one of the most fabulous aspects of my life, I am very grateful to be so fortunate to call you my friend. I love my white robe too, I think of you each time I put it on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I hope that this finds you feeling well and in the best of spirits.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: My photo – one of my favorite t-shirts. Check them out here: www.wearlove.com ~ great products & wonderful folks

Quote: unknown – from a poster