Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Toss Those Cookies

In some circles I’m known for my peanut butter cookies; soft, slightly chewy without the requisite dryness of a stereotypical peanut butter cookie. I take great pride in my peanut butter cookies. It took years of searching and years of producing substandard offerings to land on the perfect recipe.

When I set out to bake a batch of peanut butter cookies I shut the rest of the world out, I poor my soul into mixing and measuring. I want people to taste the love.

Hell, I even bent my ‘no fork mark’ rule and added fork marks to improve the enjoyment of everyone who expects to be transported back to their youth with a simple cookie.

It’s work to make the very best Peanut Butter cookies; the kind you can’t keep in the cookie tin, the kind you can give away, the kind you can win a ‘blind-sided’ taste test with.

Last night I noticed, on the back of the Kraft PB jar, a “recipe” for peanut butter cookies. I looked at it with great scepticism….you can’t make peanut butter cookies with 3 ingredients. No flour, no brown sugar, no butter—who are they kidding? Still it looked like I could whip up a quick excuse for home baking, impress my kids, June Cleaver-up a Tuesday night and still have time for all the ‘other’ things I wanted to do. (that was this postfrom last night)

The recipe made 15 12 …11 cookies in the time it took to wash the dishes.

I stuck a few in Mike’s lunch this morning—super wife??? I think so *wink wink* the way to a man’s heart and all that stuff. After nearly 30 years together you can get away with a substandard cookie once in a while.

You would think…..and so did I, until…

I popped in to check in with my Facebook friends over lunch and this was staring my in the face…..

Sometimes we try too hard—and don’t even know it.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Things a Mother Does for Her Family

A few tickets for a rare Tuesday night Ranger’s game tonight and a brief discussion around the table; a discussion in which we decided that Ethan was enough on the mend to attend and where we also debated what ‘boyfriendless-for-the-evening’ Kate should do for the night.

Not quite enough tickets for everyone, what is a mother to do?
I pulled out my very best ‘selfless mother voice’ and offered her my ticket to watch the game.

She debated. “If I go to the game what will you do? Will you have fun if you stay home?”

Mike was near convulsions…which did not subside in the least when I emerged from the bedroom 18 seconds later in my comfy pants.

“I’ll figure out something."

And just so she doesn’t think I was making it up to ease her conscious, I thought I would make her a short outline.

While you are at the hockey game.........I will be busy taking care of you

I will wash the dishes from dinner and bask in the glory of a clean kitchen

I will write

I will read

I will sit in silent meditation for a little while—that will actually be silent

I will catch up with a few friends on line. Maybe make a phone call.

I will sweep the living room, make the bed and change the toilet paper roll—all things that make me feel like I live a normal life.

I might fold a load of laundry or maybe I won’t

I will enjoy the rare and beautiful moment of solitude to the fullest and there will be a much better Mom waiting for you when you get back home.

So yes, really….take my ticket. You deserve it.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Two Step

I love the challenge of a mindfulness exercise. I love what one aims to teach and I love what I learn—and accept that they are rarely, if ever, the same thing.

Today’s mindfulness exercise is The Two Step. I set out this morning with instructions to enter every room with my left foot first and to exit every room with my right foot first. Sounds silly, sounds simple.

You would think—unless you have to think.

If you have to think, there is a break in your step. There is a pause just before you enter a room when you are forced to concentrate on putting the correct foot over the threshold. The split second pause fills with nothing except attention to your step. Anything you may have been thinking before you reached the doorway is mute. There is only left foot or right foot. There is only—mindfulness.

This Two Step mindfulness exercise today has kept me hopping, has certainly kept me practicing mindfulness throughout the day, caused me to trip a couple of times and also to be mistaken for someone who ‘put a few back’ over lunch.

I expected all of that.

What I didn’t expect was the reminder of the ‘purposeful pause’ --The notion that at every given moment we are afforded the luxury of pausing. That there is always a moment right before we act, before we speak, before we answer, ask or judge where we can (and should) take a breath, a pause and consider the next step before we take it or the next word before we speak it. There is a pause right before we make a move in which there is no move. In that pause rests the future of argument or agreement, apathy or benevolence, the ability to make a difference or to make a point. The purposeful pause is always present. It is the split second you always have to choose; the moment that determines your move and the direction of each event that follows.

Now maybe it was a potential conflict with a teenage daughter and the breath I took right before avoiding it that really hammered the point of the ‘Purposeful Pause’ home. Either way…

A note of gratitude today for the reminder to ‘Watch my Step’



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Quit Winter

I woke up this morning and peeked out the curtains of my front window—snow. The same snow that has been there piled higher than my porch railing since Mother Nature declared winter months ago. The same pile just a smidgen higher and smidgen brighter with a fresh layer of powder dusting the top. I pulled my head back from the window and closed the gap in the curtain. “Don’t look.” I warned the dog.  To which he set his head back down on his blanket with an audible ‘sigh’. I love how he trusts me to be completely honest with him.

I went to my computer and opened up the ‘Weather to come’ report on line. I almost wish I didn’t need to know…but the rink demands some insight. Rain, snow, ice pellets, temps hovering at a balmy -4 with a return to sub-zero double digits before the end of the 7 day outlook.  I close the page—I can’t look.

My humour wanes as steam wafts from my brewing coffee, while outside the window snow gusts about—blowing off the roof in blustery puffs. In the bathroom I can feel a cool draft leaking in through the window as I try desperately to indulge in a hot shower.

I’m at the threshold, on the brink, ready to break.

I don’t want to see another flake or lift another shovel. I am tired of looking at my winter coat and making sure everyone’s mittens are accounted for before I leave for work. My neighbour is really getting on my nerves with his need to ‘Scrape—scrape—scrape’ his windshield every morning and remind me we are still frozen. I detest how weathermen are making up words like ‘snow-showers’ to trick us into thinking we are getting something new.  I don’t want to see my breath anymore or my kids names etched on fogged up windows. I’m sick of cocoa and the guy with the ear to ear grin who wanders up and down the sidewalk all day just blowing snow. Is it technically homicide if I kill a snowman?

What I really want to see is my garage floor—not covered in snow and boots. I want to see the grass and birds and my patio. I want to spend time in flip-flops and sunscreen. The only ice I want to see is the kind floating in my glass. I want to cry.

And I did for a moment this morning while I was dressing in yet another sweater and pants ensemble snug from hibernation and comfort food. A single tear of frustration hit my lip and I could taste the salt of a rimmed margarita glass—sipped on a patio bar in the comfort of friends while enjoying the glow of a 9pm sunset. I want to be warm. I want to ‘slip’ something on. I want summer.

I’m going to get it.

I decided on my walk from the closet to the kitchen that winter is dead to me. No more cocoa, no more stew, no more biscuit baking, no more sweater buying, no more liking snowmobiling, ice fishing, snow-shoeing post of ‘friends’. I’m moving all winter coats to the closet and hanging spring jackets on the foyer hall tree at the ready. I’m going to shave my legs and pits every day! I’m going to trade in my comfy-pants for yoga pants and start melting off my insulation. It’s time for a pedicure polished off in a bright pink hue.

Summer is coming—whether Mother Nature is ready for it or not—and when she finally shows up with her UV index, smog and humidity warnings…I’ll be waiting in my lounge chair around a campfire fueled by the snow pants of 2013 with a smile on my face. BooYA! Mother Nature….glad you could make it to my party!
In the words of one of my favourite quotes from Dr. Wayne Dwyer…

Doesn't look like winter anymore! 

I hope you can quit winter too.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dinner Guest

If you ask a 12 year old boy to join your family for dinner they will never ask…”what are you having?” They will eat whatever there is, just for the chance to see if your family farts and fights and spills things around the table.

And when it happens you can catch a glimpse of the happiest boy in the world out of the corner of your eye. They try to be polite like their Mama’s have taught them but that giggle wiggles right up from their feet and the smile on their face says ‘you are just like me.’

This is important for 12 year old boys, we should have them for dinner more often.

I couldn't resist!...anybody remember this throwback?

Happy Tuesday.


Monday, February 10, 2014

One Box or Two?

Maybe it's a Valentines Day thing but a great focus of the literature that has fallen from the library shelves and into my lap lately has run a common theme ….Love Yourself.  I never question the messenger but the message sometimes trips me up….thought I was.

But that’s easier to read than it is to do. The self is not easy to love and yet every writing professes that it is the most important of loves—that without great ‘self-love’, loving others to the depths of which a human heart is capable is simply unachievable. 
Why do we find it so difficult to love ourselves? I’ve been trying to figure this out—watching the way we love others and the way we love ourselves. A sad realization emerged.

We love people like this:

We love our kids because they are a gift beyond comprehension; they continue us, keep us raw with emotion and fill our hearts with pride and our lives with unpredictability. We love our friends for their knowing, the way they comfort us and support us and fill our lives with memories that bubble just below the surface and erupt without warning into a smile or a laugh...a “remember when”. Our siblings too, our oldest friends who share our story; our ‘where are you from’ and can hug us from across the room with only a knowing glance. Parents are loved for their sacrifices and their strength, for their wisdom and their vulnerability for the way they anchor us in the world.  Our partners we love with commitment and conviction to share goals and dreams the will carry us through all of our other relationships.

We love others even when the reasons why are not easy to see. We love even when children throw temper tantrums and slam doors to bedrooms and pull away. We love friends when they are difficult; when their opinions differ or they don’t have the time. Brothers and sisters we love even as they borrow our clothes without permission and sell our secrets to save themselves. Our parents we love even when they are unbending and unreasonable and short on attention. We love our partners when they disappoint us and take us for granted, ignore our needs and become too comfortable.

For reasons we cannot always see people are easy to love, because we love the whole of a person. A person’s ‘whole’ is everything that they are and everything that has happened to them, they are the compassion they can muster and the hurt they cannot get over. The ‘whole’ of a person includes the things that bring them joy and the things that cause them pain. The ‘whole’ of a person is the how well they treat you and how much they hurt you. The ‘whole’ of person is everything we know about a person. All those little bits of knowledge slipped on a balance and wrapped up in a box where you can only feel the weight not see its distribution. The whole of a person is what we carry around and love. The ‘whole’ of a person is the empty space and longing that would remain if they were taken from us.

This is not how we love ourselves.

How we love ourselves is how we love things. In the way we love homes and shoes, books and movies, tv shows, wines, vacation destinations, face creams, appliances, songs and cars and the London Fog Tea from Williams (hello, if you haven’t tried this yet to love it, you should probably put it on your to-do list) We love ourselves by measure and appeal. We love the things we like about ourselves and we loth the things we don’t. We love ourselves with judgement and maintain a running ticker board that tracks our good deeds against our transgressions. A glance in the mirror reveals the features we prize and the features we abhor. Our minds are constantly playing our actions and interactions over and over and grading our performance, against people we know, people we don’t, the person we were and the person we would rather be. Never are we the sum total of our experiences—the way others love us.

We take the little bits of knowledge we hold about ourselves, just like we do for others, except we don’t store them on a balance and wrap them in a single box. We sort each bit into one of two boxes labelled “good” or “bad” and pick up the box that weighs the most and carry it around with us.

I think we carry around the ‘crap’ box too often and tote the ‘goodness’ box too little. Maybe this is what all the love yourself messengers are trying to say….

Put yourself in one box.

Love yourself like a people. 

Message received....will try a little harder ;)


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Where to Find the Time

There is a silly little saying among those who practice meditation:

This is one of my very favourite side effects of meditation – the gift of time!

Before I began my practice I was a warrior of frantic doing-ness. There was always somewhere I had to be, someone I had to meet, some ‘thing’ I had to get made or baked or cleaned, dropped off, picked up or planned. Even the most well calculated day was assuredly destined for a mid-execution schedule redesign. No person or project in my circle was free from the threat of concession... and it was familiar. I wanted to do it all, like I knew I could….if I only had enough time. 

I wanted more time to get things done, more time to linger, to rest, to play and to enjoy. I wanted to be one of those people who had time to tie her green beans into tiny bundles and spend Tuesday night at the movies with a friend. I settled for time to pee.

The very notion that in the midst of a full schedule I would consider squeezing in 30 minutes for meditation each day is probably evidence of some borderline delusion illness. I should probably have gone to have my head examined.

But I didn’t, I went instead to sit in a chair quietly for 30 minutes – I managed 5 before my brain butted in and reminded me that I didn’t have time to sit and do nothing.

5 minutes…I managed that every day for a few weeks, then I managed 10. Eventually I managed 20 then 30…today I could probably manage an hour or more… if people would just stop needing to be fed.

The amazing thing is that I ‘found the time’ without removing anything; I didn’t sacrifice a single item on my to-do list to make room for meditation. Meditation made room for itself.

More than that, it made room for everything else on my list—everything! From cleaning the stove to painting my toe nails! Room to watch movies with my family on a weeknight, room to get the laundry folded and the teenagers shuttled back and forth to work. I rarely miss a hockey game and I found time to stop for coffee on the way to the arena.  It’s crazy! (‘Amazing’ crazy not ‘get your head examined’ crazy) Beyond having enough time I actually have extra time…(Spare time—I think it’s called)……I can’t even make this up—such  a thing does exist! ….Time to read, to write, to keep the rink, to go to the movies, the mall, and to linger at the kitchen table. 

I have so much time I am baking biscuits for Sunday supper and washing dishes before I leave for work in the morning. I shovel the driveway because I have nothing more pressing to do and I linger in the shelves of the library far longer than I should have the right to.

It sounds too good to be true, there are still only 24 hours in a day and I sleep for at least 8 of those!

Nobody arrived with a magic wand or a time machine I did it all by myself, 5 minutes at a time. I want to tell you how Meditation magically makes time move more slowly and frees up so much space in a schedule but I’m not sure that I would explain it easily. It just does.

Perhaps it is because things become less urgent, less necessary, and less critical. Maybe it’s the stress reduction or the pace reduction. Maybe it is because a light shines on what truly matters and filters out the noise and bustle of the ‘have to-s’and the 'should do-s'. Maybe in ‘the quiet’ a mind subconsciously organizes and prioritizes and knocks things off the list that don’t really need to be there. 

Do I care how it happens, what the science behind the phenomenon is?


I have found an explanation that will suffice. Meditation is a solid sure path to your nature and….




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Can You Spare a Thought for the Good Side?

I’m reading along this morning from the book Happier Than God ~ Neale Donald Walsch

I’ve been absorbing his take on Self Creation, a simple principal (which he is not the first nor will he be the last) to publish and preach in an effort to help people, as he puts it; ‘turn ordinary life into an extraordinary experience’. The theory has been alive in humanity from the beginning of time and gained enormous attention most notably through the series of books and movies ‘The Secret’.

 --Here’s a secret; the producers of that series didn’t create the theory – they simply exposed it and in the process, sadly, cult-ified It, bringing a legion of naysayers out into the light. It all creates a little more work for those of us who believe in the universal awareness that our thoughts create our world. Thankfully a great many more of those minds were created as well though the series.

Walsch’s book is a little more intrinsically interesting in that he attempts, with great success, to acknowledge and explain and identify God in the process and in the course, in fact, answers a bigger question about the what/who/where God might be. It’s an interesting take that kept me hooked and reading the common theme.
And I am grateful for the take that kept me reading because long about page 195 I hit this gem:

‘The energy that creates the solution must be equal to the energy that creates the problem’

And I was paralyzed for a moment.

I am sure I must have heard this somewhere before but for some reason the words hit me with a strange sense of clarity today.

Perhaps because I’ve been wondering quite a lot lately: ‘Why is it so difficult to convince some people that it is possible to turn even the most dreadful of lives into a positive experience? Why do some people get it and others struggle? Is the cynical population exploding? Why do people find it so hard to believe that joy is their birthright—that they are meant to be happy, to live happy, to enjoy life? That Life was never intended to be a sentence.

And there on page 195 was an answer to my question….

Every person is born with the same potential. At the exact moment we are born every one has an equal opportunity to live a positive life or a negative life regardless of the circumstances we are born into. The potential to view the glass as half empty or half full is the same for every one of us. An instant later we are exposed; exposed to a greater collective consciousness. The thought of every person you are exposed to and the thought of every person they have been exposed to and the world views which each of them has been exposed to affects the way we think. In this way we are all undeniably inextricably connected.

Years of progress have cultured an enormous collective consciousness of negative thinkers. There is a seriously high ratio of negative energy, energy that influences us to think the worst will happen and that life is meant to be a struggle….and so the worst happens and life indeed becomes a struggle.

What we think we create.

There is an incredible amount of energy that goes into creating and sustaining our negative life problems and pattern….and a serious lack of energy to convince us otherwise.

Which all leaves even the most positive person frustrated some days; how do you cultivate an equal amount of energy for the solution? How do convince a person, a community or a culture that has spent a lifetime feeding on thoughts and energy of negative thinking, judgement, anger, frustration, hurt, contempt and jealously that there is joy, happiness, laughter, fearlessness and love waiting to be theirs?

How do you spread the notion that we are not meant to be miserable?

Perhaps slowly, in a manner equal to that in which negativity has crept through the world.

Begin with a thought …"Life is good”

Once you plant that thought the universe gets to work creating that reality for you (Yup, that’s the ‘Secret’ that is not a secret). But here is the thing you can’t just think it once on a good day and voila! ….You have to think it every day, even on the worst days. You have to nurture that thought. You have to practice finding the good and the things to be grateful for; you have to tell yourself you are a happy person even if you don’t believe it. You have to maintain a daily devotion to surrounding yourself with positive people and experiences; you have to water your thought with doses of motivation every day. You have to combat the negative energy that’s always at hand and you have to celebrate every single day you wake up and the fact is true: ‘Life is Good’

And when it becomes reality (—yes, and it will)…then…..You have to share your thought with the people you encounter. Plant a seed for them that ‘Life is Good’

Will people think you’re nuts? …maybe….but what do you care? Better to be nuts and happy than mainstream and miserable I say!

Because here is the thing….

What you think you create…and I think we can create an energy for the solution that equals the energy of the problem.

Repeat after me ‘Life is Good’—pass it on.



Monday, February 3, 2014

Getting the Pricker Out of My Sock

Every once in a while a single phrase in the vast sea of human communication sticks out and irritates me like a ‘pricker’ that gets stuck in your sock. Until I get rid of the ‘thing’ I can hardly focus on anything else.

Today’s phrase……

“That’s good enough.”

Are we serious about this?

In what world is it okay to run around doing everything half assed? I think I might do this more than I realize.

I watched The Lone Ranger on Sunday evening with my family and I can tell you I was pretty disappointed when Johnny Depp’s hysterical portrayal of Tonto was cut short by faulty technology.  I got 83%. It was a good movie at 83% it would have been a great movie at 100%. I just keep thinking—the ‘whole assed’ movie would have been fantastic!

If we are going to say “that’s good enough”--Why don’t we just be honest and say:

“I could do better” Or “I’m giving it 83%”

Why don’t we be really honest and admit that the person on the receiving end of our efforts is really not that important. Whether that person is a stranger, a friend, a boss, a co-worker, family member or even ourselves—let’s face it, when we say ‘that’s good enough’ aren’t we really saying “You aren’t worth the trouble—you aren’t worth my time, my effort, my energy.”

Is it okay for your heart surgeon to say “That’s good enough.”? How about your mechanic, is it okay with you if he puts your brakes back together and says “that’s good enough.”? Do you want to travel in a plane engineered by someone who said “that’s good enough” right before they signed off on the blueprints? Would you eat at a restaurant if you knew the person in charge of sanitation and food safety says “that’s good enough.”?

Does great effort only matter if lives hang in the balance?

Is ‘good enough’ okay when the consequences are small—like painting the bedroom or washing the car? Aren’t you still trading your time and attention for the act—Aren’t you worth achieving the best results for your time? Isn’t the person on the receiving end worth your efforts even when the act is small?

I wonder if you can make a good life giving all the little things 83% couldn’t you make a great life giving everything 100%?

I’m taking the pricker out of my sock. “That’s good enough” has to go—out of the phrase book…. The next time I want to say it, I’m going to keep working. The next time someone asks me to validate their 83% effort with a “That’s good enough, don’t you think?” I’m going to ask …“Is it?”

Time to demand and create some great whole assed lives!

…..And find out how Tonto survives the last 17% of the Lone Ranger. ---your 83% Cineplex is not good enough—not good enough in deed.

Happy Monday