Are you where you want to be?


Musings: Revival of the Muse

Slowly she is resurfacing, the Muse that feeds my imagination and nudges the words out of my mind and onto the page.  I know the change in weather has something to do with it.  For about a week now the days have been warm and full of sunshine, just the right environment to entice me out into my beloved garden to work the soil, scatter seeds, and plant some flowers. 

Nature has also responded with much burgeoning growth.  Trees are budding out at the speed of light and the St. Augustine grass has gone from hay-colored to fresh spring green in the flash of an eye.  Tiny green shoots are poking through the earth, a promise of beauty and color yet to come.

Another deciding factor has been the time change.  We sprang forward last weekend and the evenings are lighter longer which always brightens my soul.  And even though this afternoon the sunshine slowly disappeared and the sky became leaden grey, I was able to feel very grateful and even lighthearted when the rains came to soak the parched ground. 

We have had a very mild winter and we really need some rain.  I am especially grateful that it has rained today because this means that I do not have to expend time and energy to water the garden tomorrow.  We do not have an automatic system and it is quite time and energy consuming to move the sprinklers all around the garden to their allotted spots to make sure everything gets a good soaking.

So here I sit, in my wonderful lanai, outside yet sheltered from the rain, allowing the thoughts to flow and the fingers to run across the keyboard.  The sky is still mostly grey and I think we will probably get some more rain this evening.  Everything is a fresh lush green and, even though it is already 7.15pm, it is still quite light.  I love moving through spring into longer days.  For whatever reason it makes me feel more alive.

I think the change in weather and the change in time have happened just perfectly for me right now because both of these events have helped me to move outside and beyond the prevailing sadness that surrounded me and weighed down my heart.  This was due to five deaths that have happened among my friends and family since the end of October last year.  Dealing with death, even as I accept it as part of life’s cycle, takes its toll in a physical and emotional way.  I am just so grateful that I have strong support systems and the right tools to help me deal with it.

Just as nature cycles through her seasons, so too do we humans.  And to appreciate and enjoy the new life we also need to accept and appreciate the dying to the old life.  I am grateful to have a faith, a belief in God and in a life hereafter.  So once I move past the sorrow of loss I can rejoice and celebrate at the soul’s onward journey.  Who knows what joys and what adventures await us in the Big Beyond!!

Going Raw: Part One

(My Life-Long Love Affair With Food)

I don’t normally put sub-titles to my postings, but I felt this one deserved one.  There is no way I can share my “adventure” at going raw without giving some background as to my relationship with food.  And it is a love affair.

I have had an intimate relationship with food ever since I can remember.  Some of my earliest memories of food are:

– sitting under the dining room table in the middle of the night eating rice paper (don’t even ask!!)

– sitting for what seemed like hours on the garden gate or at the front room window waiting for Aunty Polly to arrive with ice cream and candy

– going to Aunty Peggy’s to have wonderful four course dinners that included incredible appetizers, cheese and crackers, dessert with coffee (like in a “grown 
   up’s” restaurant)

– going down to the kid’s secret den to eat as many candies as I had been able to take from the pantry without it looking as though someone had taken them
   (I’m sure my mother realized!)

– finger-swiping the frosting off a freshly baked “chocolate horror” cake (bliss!)

– sneaking teaspoonful’s of Fry’s chocolate spread (pure paradise!!)

– biting into the crusty heel of a fresh loaf of country bread slathered in real butter

– English cheddar cheese and crunchy pickled onions

So as you can see I was pretty much addicted to food from an early age.  I could describe in detail, and still can, the sensations of different foods hitting the different taste buds in the various areas of my mouth just the way someone can describe the details in a picture.  I think God proved that He really, really loved us when he gave us taste buds.

I discovered “ethnic” restaurants in my mid to upper teens and a whole new world of tastes and flavors opened up to me.  English food is usually so bland and much of it, particularly vegetables, is simply boiled into oblivion and mush.  Indian curry and crisp Chinese vegetables were like heaven, and the awesome blend of herbs in authentic, freshly cooked, Italian cuisine can still send me into a swoon today. I think you get the picture.

Moving to Sardinia, Italy in 1979 was a dream come true for this foodaholic.  The Sardinian cuisine is unique and is as beautiful as the island itself.  Home-made pasta was the norm in a Sardinian home in those days and if you have never eaten fresh home-made pasta you need to before you die.  Roast lamb, kid, and pig are nothing like anything over here.  I have eaten some of the best bar-b-q pork since coming to the States but nothing touches a succulent roast-in-the-ground pig in Sardinia. 

From Sardinia I returned to London in 1978.  It was mainly a “big mistake” but forms part of my life journey so it was important.  During the five years I remained in the UK back then the only time that I ate well was when I cooked Italian pasta or I ate ethnic.  I missed Italy badly, not just the food but the whole culture.  So it was with a happy heart that I returned in 1983 to live in Naples, Italy.

Naples, rather like Sicily, gets a bad rap in some tourist books, but I fell in love with Naples very quickly.  There’s an Italian saying that goes, “see Naples and die”.  There’s a Neapolitan saying that goes, “Napoli ti prende per la gola” – Naples grabs you by the throat.  The people are warm-hearted and friendly and the food, well I’m not sure anything I could say about Neapolitan food would do it justice.  There are amazing pasta dishes with incredible sauces and fresh seafood cooked in the simplest but most divinely-tasting ways. “Dolce” (cakes) are out of this world and the pizza, oh the pizza!!!!!  You have not eaten real pizza until you eat pizza prepared and baked in Naples.  Not even the pizza in other parts of Italy is as sublime as Neapolitan pizza. 

And then there’s REAL mozzarella cheese freshly dripping in its own liquid.  This is an absolute delicacy that is only made in Naples, Italy.  There is only one place over here that I know of where you can find real, fresh Mozzarella cheese and that is at the Fratelli La Buffala restaurant in the beaches area of Miami.  They have it flown in fresh from Naples two or three times per week.  

So, with all this love of marvelously prepared and served food, how do I get to going raw?  With great difficulty let me tell you!  I guess with age comes some sort of wisdom, and my brain began to tell my body that two hundred pounds on a five foot four inch frame was not so healthy.  And, as usually happens with the fat accumulation, my blood pressure had risen and my cholesterol was fast following it.

Thankfully, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  Back in 2005, about eighteen months after getting to Jacksonville, Florida, my church hosted a series of classes on the vegetarian diet.  I was interested not only because I thought it would help me lose weight, combat the BP and cholesterol issue, and improve my overall wellness, but also because the classes were offered by the Cancer Society as a way to help people prevent cancer or live cancer free once they were in remission.  Because there is a history of cancer in my family I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns.

I’ll leave the “vegetarian experiment” for my next posting in this series.  

Vignettes: Dad And Son In The Labyrinth

I know I have already done a posting about my last experience with the labyrinth in St. Augustine.  However, I feel called to write another posting because I keep thinking about two of the people who went in to do the walk.  I mentioned in my previous posting, Self Nurturing- Enjoying the Labyrinth at the Beach, that there were many children who playfully walked, ran, and skipped through the labyrinth leaving their unique brand of energy present. Well, one little boy took, maybe I should say “enticed” his Dad in with him.

I remember looking up as they both approached the labyrinth.  The Dad was a little hesitant, hung back and tried to look somewhat indifferent, as though he wasn’t really interested in the labyrinth.  The son was having none of that.  He was curious and wanted to take a good look.  He realized almost immediately that this was something to be experienced.  He saw a pathway opening up and wanted to explore. 

He took a bold step into the labyrinth and then stopped, remembering Dad, turned to look at him and said “come on Dad, let’s do it”.  Dad looked around, as if checking out who was watching, then tentatively stepped inside.  The little boy needed no further encouragement. Off he went on his adventure.  He was very focused and determined, staying within the confines of the narrow pathway. Dad was a little different.  He kept looking around, obviously embarrassed, probably hoping that nobody who knew him was going to happen by.

If you know what a labyrinth is like you will understand that as you enter you are on a circular pathway that is about the third circle inside the whole design.  As you walk, the circles turn on each other.  This can lead to the illusion that you are about to get to the center and then, suddenly, you find yourself walking the very outer circle.

So the little boy got to an about-turn which he thought was going to turn him in towards the center, but instead it turned him out to the edge of the labyrinth.  For a moment he was confused, and called out to His Dad for help.  The father said, “just keep following the path son”, and trustingly the little boy did so.  I had noticed that by now Dad had lost his self-consciousness and was just as focused as his son.  The two continued, intent upon their journey, the little boy about half a circle ahead of the Father.

Then, in a sudden moment, the boy found himself inside the center of the labyrinth.  He stood their looking pleased with himself and looking all around himself at the road he had travelled.  A few moments later his Dad arrived in the center.  Without a word, the little boy held out his hand and a big grin spread across his face.  They stood together for a while, Dad and son, holding hands and looking out to sea.  It was a God-moment.  Who knows what thoughts each one held in his heart.

The boy looked up into his father’s face, then gently slipped his hand out from his father’s and, in just as focused a fashion as on the way in, he started the journey out.  Dad stood there for a moment more watching his little one strike out on his own before heading out behind him. 

I found myself thinking this is what parenthood is about.  We hold our children’s hands for as long as we can.  Then comes the day when they choose a path.  We follow at a distance for a while, close enough that they know they can call on us for help, but not so close that we crowd them.  But they have to make the journey of life on their own.  If we’re lucky, they sometimes look back and smile and wave and may even occasionally come and hold our hands again for a while.