I started this blog to share some of the thoughts I have along the journey of life. I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. A good meal, breaking bread with those I love, gives my life meaning. So does travel. I adore dreaming of sites to visit, not just to check them off on a list. Rather, I consider myself a student of life, traveling as an explorer, to open my mind to all the possibilities the world holds in store for me and for others. I love to travel to discover how different the world is in terms of climate, cultures, politics, terrain, economy, etc. but also to discover how SIMILAR the people are. Despite language barriers, much can be communicated with a smile or gestures. Language is simply a means to communicate, yet there are so very many other ways to communicate. Once when I was in French-speaking Canada, I realized that my 7th grade French class didn’t teach me the word for “straw”. However, when I thought about it, I was able to communicate to the very French-speaking waiter in a very French-speaking restaurant about my need for a “cylinder through which to drink” in my limited French vocabulary. Travel challenges the mind and soul, stretching us to problem solve and form conclusions about all that we experience. THAT is the type of travel I enjoy best. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say………….”Life is Good” as well.
I had my second Covid vaccine Monday morning around 11:00 AM. By 9:00 PM I was feeling “not quite right.” By 11:00 PM, I had the chills, a fever, a headache like none other than I had experienced before in my life, eye pain, body aches, fatigue and nausea. I went to bed, snuggling next to an additional pillow for extra insulation and lots of blankets to keep me warm, even though I live in Florida.
I woke up at some point in the night with what felt like a fever well over 101 degrees and a throat that felt so dry that it felt like knives were sliding down my throat. With the exception of two bouts of type “A” flu several years ago, I had never been this sick. And yet, I wasn’t really sick at all. It was just a reaction for the second Covid shot I had.
I slept most of the day and finally got up around 8 PM to take a shower. As I stood with my head flat against the shower wall, enjoying the soothing and healing water trickle down my back, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. I was sick but not REALLY sick. I kept thinking of all those unfortunate souls that have had Covid and were ACTUALLY sick. I thought about all those unfortunate souls that have had some type of chronic sickness, like cancer or some other dreadful disease. Little more than eighteen hours later, I was well on my way to recovery.
They say it’s the little things that mean a lot. A husband that comes in to check on me repeatedly while I was sleeping to ensure that I was okay, a daughter to give a gentle hug and a smile, dishes loaded up into the dishwasher in a clean kitchen while I slept, calls from dear friends to check on me, and a husband that made sure I had plenty of water available near by all day long is how I will remember this day. I am grateful for what I have time and time again. Life isn’t perfect, but heck it’s good. Damn good.
“These (ARE) the times that try men’s souls” it has been said. (Thomas Paine). From covid worries to election worries and everything in between, it helps to take a moment to try to retain an attitude of gratitude about what is working in our lives right now and those things about which we can be grateful in this time of the “Thanksgiving” season. It helps to lighten the load on our minds, it’s also been said.
I am re-posting an email I received earlier in the year from someone dear to me that had been sent to her that likely had been sent from someone else. I am not sure who the original author is, so I cannot give credit where credit is due unfortunately……
I AM THANKFUL:
FOR THE WIFE WHO SAYS IT’S HOT DOGS TONIGHT, BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME, AND NOT OUT SOMEWHERE ELSE.
FOR THE HUSBAND WHO IS ON THE SOFA BEING A COUCH POTATO, BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.
FOR THE TEENAGER WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES BECAUSE IT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME, NOT ON THE STREETS.
FOR THE TAXES I PAY BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM EMPLOYED.
FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.
FOR THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT.
FOR MY SHADOW THAT WATCHES ME WORK BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM OUT IN THE SUNSHINE
FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING, WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING, AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME.
FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT BECAUSE IT MEANS WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
FOR THE PARKING SPOT I FIND AT THE FAR END OF THE PARKING LOT BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM CAPABLE OF WALKING AND I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH TRANSPORTATION.
FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM WARM.
FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN CHURCH WHO SINGS OFF KEY BECAUSE IT MEANS I CAN HEAR.
FOR THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.
FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES AT THE END OF THE DAY BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN CAPABLE TO WORK HARD.
FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES OFF IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM ALIVE.
Carpe diem friends………life IS good after all, over all. Today, try to keep your spirits up and your “face to the sun so you cannot see the shadows” (Helen Keller).
Today, among the pandemic at hand, I still count my blessings. My daughter, “Teen Traveler,” decided she wanted to try something different to break up our Florida stay-at-home orders this past Sunday. “Teen Traveler” is only fourteen, yet she is what I have called an old soul from the moment she was born. She has always been my hundred-year-old woman in this teeny tiny body. I joke to myself that maybe she is even evidence of reincarnation. She is just beginning to enter the world of cooking but decided she wanted to make a several course dinner BY HERSELF because we haven’t been out to a nice restaurant in some time. She decided she would serve pretty simple food attractively in small portions. She is a real “go-getter” to be sure.
She spent a significant amount of time on Saturday planning her menu and thinking about items that could be prepared ahead of time. Of course, as “Graph Guy’s daughter,” she sorted her thoughts onto a spread sheet and list after list, breaking down the task at hand into manageable chunks.
She looked high and low for items around the house, mostly in the craft bin, that she could use as a table decoration, having no access to fresh flowers from a florist. She really wanted to celebrate the spring.
First came the appetizer. She decided she wanted “comfort food” for this pandemic. Nothing like a little tomato bisque soup and a grilled cheese sandwich to meet this goal. That’s my girl: goal set, goal met.
After the first appetizer, she served some sort of tomato stuffed with Mexican meat, beans, and cheese as her “salad” course, which was garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a cilantro leaf.
After the appetizer and salad came the main meal, which was mini Mexican burgers mixed with a blend of brown sugar, cumin, paprika, and chili pepper, attractively served with a pickle, cheese, lettuce, and a cherry tomato on an attractive skewer. “Mexican street corn” was the side dish she made and served in a hollowed out red pepper quarter. She made the burgers herself but “Graph Guy” grilled them for her.
She spent lots of time deciding which dishes to use to create the mood she wanted to create and placed the dishes around the kitchen the night before in the arrangement she liked.
Finally, the desserts were served. She decided she liked the idea of several mini desserts and baked mini red velvet cakes stuffed with a cream cheese frosting and served with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate. She even sprinkled confectioner’s sugar on the cake and plate as an additional garnish. The girl thinks of everything.
Living in Florida, she thought it would be fun to serve something citrus for the other desserts but wanted a different flavor than expected. She decided that lemon and lime might be fun. She made lime crumble with freshly squeezed limes that she squeezed, along with a blueberry lemon crumble. Her piece de resistance, however, was home-made lime sherbert. She had never made home made sherbert, so she needed our help under her leadership, however, to get the old ice cream maker going.
“Teen Traveler” decided that the presentation was as important as the food itself, evidently, and served the home made lime sherbert in a hollowed-out lime.
I can still remember how calmly she served us in the dining room, coming from behind a closed door to the kitchen each and every time. She walked confidently and calmly, making us think she had done this sort of thing her entire life. I will always remember the joy in her eyes when she presented us her savory samples and the creamy confections she had made.
There was joy in our hearts that day. There was joy from being her parents and joy from watching her experiencing her success before our very eyes. So very much for which to be grateful.
Coping with Covid-19 was that day centered around consuming the creamy confections and the meal that my daughter lovingly prepared for us. For the moment, for that sliver in time, all was well in the world, and I will always be grateful for that day that time stood still and there was joy in the moment. There was joy in ALL the moments that day, thanks to my daughter.
It has been said “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade “(Elbert Hubbard). The logical axiom that follows, then, is “If life gives you limes, make lime sherbert!”(Caye Smith)
Life is good. Enjoy the gifts of the day. Carpe diem, friends………
Three shakes. A “small good thing” in the words of Raymond Carver, a contemporary short story writer, in one of his short stories. Three shakes delivered to celebrate a small victory, a reminder that until further notice, we celebrate everything.
This weekend was fraught with frustration as we battled a huge plumbing issue during self-isolation that even the plumber couldn’t fix from the street. We were unable to wash clothes, use the dishwasher or two of our bathrooms or showers. Admittedly, not being able to use TWO of our bathrooms is a very “first world” problem to have. There are many others in the world who have none. Thankfully, my husband worked tirelessly from the inside, accessing several access points through out the house until he solved the issue hours (really DAYS) later. I admire and am grateful for his perseverance. I admire and am grateful for HIM.
Later that night, we violated our self-isolation by ordering three shakes from Shake Shake, delivered from DoorDash as a celebration of our victory, small victory that it was. I ordered the shakes and had the delivery person leave them on the porch. I opened the door after they left, using gloves. I wiped the outside of the styrofoam containers with disinfectant, as Covid-19 lasts about twenty-four hours on cardboard and approximately two to three days on plastic according to some sources. I transferred the shakes to our own decorative glasses inside the house, once the decontamination process ended. It has come to this, I thought to myself. But it was so worth the wait, as it was a “small good thing.”
TODAY, someone very special delivered surprise home-made muffins to our porch without notice. Another “small good thing” that caused our hearts to soar. A small good thing, an act of kindness, that helps us to rise above the themes of helplessness, loss, conflict, communication, isolation and loneliness that Raymond Carver develops in his story to lead the reader to discover our connection with others. The kindness of food and comfort given by another illustrates a shared understanding with others, letting us know we are all in this together.
You see, in our house, until further notice, we celebrate EVERYTHING. Sometimes it really IS the “little things” that make a difference.
“Together, together, together everyone Together, together, come on lets have some fun Together, we’re there for each other every time Together, together come on let’s do this right….
Everyone is special in their own way We make each other strong (we make each other strong) We’re not the same We’re different in a good way Together’s where we belong…
We’re all in this together Once we know That we are We’re all stars And we see that We’re all in this together And it shows When we stand Hand in hand….”
-“We’re All In This Together” by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil
Find the small things to celebrate today. A smile, a gesture of kindness. Muffins left upon your porch by a special visitor. A shared connection with others. Carpe diem, friends….
The Dutch have it right AGAIN! Instead of Niksen, the art of purposely doing “nothing”, another Dutch approach to enjoying life is called “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”). Hygge centers around enjoying the little things in life that provide us comfort. Although spring is upon us, providing warmer weather in some parts of the country, other parts of the country are still experiencing a bit of a chill. Fire in a fireplace? That’s hygge. Scented candles burning in your home? That’s hygge. Meals with comfort food and friends? That’s hygge. Big comfortable furniture with a soft throw blanket draped around you? That’s hygge. Your favorite hot tea, cappuccino, or coffee served in a china cup? That’s hygge. A long indulgent bubble bath with scented candles burning on the sides? That’s hygge. A bite of a delicious Belgian chocolate? That’s hygge. Anything and everything comfortable and cozy? Now THAT’S hygge!
While you are trying to take your mind off the corona virus situation in our lives right now, turn off your phone and turn on some soft music, sip a hot beverage, light a fire, and burn some scented candles after dinner. You will most likely experience comfort and contentment that will take your mind off of the virus knocking at your door.
Hygge, loosely translated as “to give courage, comfort, and joy”, will help you to live deliberately with comfortable intentions. They say it’s the “little things that matter.” Why not give it a try? Today choose pastry over healthy food for a change. Maybe a bite of a brownie, freshly baked cookies, or Bananas Foster………..
Enjoy today; find some comfort. Enjoy the little things. Carpe diem, friends…..