The Sand in the Oyster

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As you have figured out by now, the last year has been filled with grief and heartache. It is hard to maintain a smile on your face all the time when you are dealing with all these emotions. I’ve written that I feel like a stranger in a foreign land because I’ve always been so buttoned up and now I am leaking everywhere. My feelings may not be on my sleeve but they are close to the surface. I find myself crying at the slightest everything.

I’ve written that my friends keep telling me that this is how the light gets in. Of course, everything I read lately says the same thing. “Hello Universe calling!”

I’ve spent years working on myself and considered myself to be in a really good place 4 years ago. I met “the guy” at that moment and thought that life was coming together. Uh, not so fast Suzan. Apparently that road is not it.

I thought my dad would live another 15 years based upon family genetics and that I’d have a lot of time to spend with him. Uh, not so fast Suzan. Apparently that road is not it either.

While getting healthier in some respects, I seem to have caused damage in other respects. So apparently, that road is not it either.

The business “road” is mostly a smooth path and I’ve worked very hard at paving that road so I’ll stay on it for now. I am always paving this road because as I read on a sign the other day “The road to success is always under construction”. I don’t rest on my laurels.

I have obviously however, rested on my laurels in other parts of my life and it is obvious that I am being given some tremendous lessons to learn. When my friend, Mitzy, said that I am going to have some BIG job when I get to heaven, I knew she really meant it. I really wonder about what is in store for me in my future, both near and far, because I sure feel like I’m being hit hard lately.

So it was interesting to me when, the other day my friend, Androniki (hi Andi!), said that it’s the sand that gets into the oyster shell that causes the irritation that brings forth the pearl. I never thought of it that way before. Without that grit, the wondrous, beautiful pearl would never form. She told me (paraphrasing here) that while she’s sure there are people that live in such a higher state of mind they never have anything bad happen and that they are always happy, happy, happy, she’s more sure that most of us mere mortals do have bad shit happen to us and that’s how we grow. That’s how we get to higher elevations of being. Indeed, one can define “having grit” as perseverance and passion.

In a similar vein, the Japanese have a process, called Kintsugi, which means “golden journey”. The process is one in which cracks in objects, often pottery, are filled with gold. Instead of tossing damaged objects they repair the objects by filling the cracks and beautifying the object. As a philosophy Kintsugi means recognizing the beauty in broken things, our imperfections and flaws.

For me, it means recognizing that despite all the bad shit that’s happened in the last year, there is so much for me to be thankful for and to strive for.

So begins the work. Learning to forgive others. Learning even more to forgive myself. Opening to love of others but most of all opening to love of myself. Remembering where I was 4 years ago and finding that balance again without forgetting what I’ve learned the hard way the last 4 years.

Allowing the grit, the sand in the oyster, in, so that I can allow the creation of the pearl.

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Go ahead – Keep Calling me a Snowflake or a Libtard

Yeah, the heading is a little inflammatory and if you want to, you can skip to the end of this post to see just that point. I hope however you read the entire post.

One thing this week has taught me is that for many Americans nothing I am going to say, nothing at all, is going to make one lick of difference. Millions of women and men marched in the streets  around the country (and the world) for women’s rights, LGBT rights, minority rights, immigrant rights – – human rights – – on the 21st (estimated at 3 million people).

I watched part of the rally held in Washington on TV  and was somewhat dismayed. While I love that the left and progressive side has a big inclusive tent, I realized while watching it that if there was a thought that anyone to the right-of-center was going to find common ground with them, it was not going to happen. 

I deliberately went to Facebook and looked at comments on pages that I knew would be right-leaning. I did this despite knowing that I would probably be depressed and possibly even physically ill to my stomach when I was done. What I found confirmed my opinion. While some who are right-leaning truly want to understand what the march was about, most people that I saw commenting do not care what the left thinks. They do not want a big inclusive tent.  They believe the big inclusive tent is part of the problem. Some of the most disheartening comments came from people in my local community.

They truly believe that they have been left behind over the last 8 years and now that they are the ones in power. They believe that their wants and needs will now be taking care of. You can stand on your head all you want and explain that when Barack Obama took over in January of 2009 the economy was already in bad shape and that it is greatly improved. You can explain that there was a global recession and that people everywhere were in trouble. You can explain that the stock market had risen 13000 points. You can explain that the housing market is back where it was in 2006. You can say that Planned Parenthood is 97% health care for poor people and that no federal funding goes to abortions and they won’t believe you. They do not care that the new Cabinet is filled with the same people that they would have complained bitterly about if anyone else had set it up. 

They will reply with anectodal stories: their great-aunt who had to go bankrupt,  that they had to take a loss on their house, that they lost their job and they’re working for less money, that their insurance went up $300 a month. While that is all anecdotal, it is real enough for them which I certainly understand because it’s personal to them and because it did happen to them. They may not realize that it happened to some of us too but that we’re not circling the wagons with an “Us versus Them” mentality.

Many of these people truly believe that the media spins things against them. They only believe Fox and Breitbart and any other news is not credible. When I look up some of their facts I find that only right-wing conspiracy websites, Fox or Breitbart, have reported on those facts and to these people that is proof enough that the liberal media is not crediblebecause why aren’t they posting about it. Isn’t that proof?

And then there are those that don’t read or watch the news at all. I have no idea where they are getting their information from. This week I learned that they do not know that there have been bomb threats against Jewish community centers around the country over the last two weeks. Even Breitbart reported about those.

Because of our new commander-in-chief they do not trust the intelligence community. They do not trust the news media. They do not trust anybody outside of their party. Therefore, anything that is said or done by anyone in those groups is suspect. This is how it’s going to be for the next four years. Frankly I’m afraid this is how it’s going to be for a very long time. 

I see some similar viewpoints on the far left progressive side as well.

 I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about the fact that I am too far to the left for my conservative friends and too far to the right for my more liberal and progressive friends. His reply was that it is out of vogue to be a moderate. I replied that it’s been out of vogue since I was first eligible to vote (1979). But this is where I am and this is where I’m comfortable. I will continue to voice my opinion as I see fit and I know that I will make people on both sides uncomfortable sometimes.
So I’m going to say something largely unpopular to both groups. 

To my liberal and progressive friends, if you are not regularly contacting your senators and representatives  about bills that are being presented for votes then you are part of the problem. Griping on Facebook is not going to get the job done. Marching makes a point but by itself is not going to get the job done. Our Congress and our local state legislators work for us. Even DT works for us although he may loathe to admit it. It is our job to speak loudly and to make our voices heard. But that means making regular phone calls to Congress and our local legislators. I guarantee you they are not trolling Facebook to determine what you think.

For those people that consider me to be a friend, think very hard the next time you make a blanket statement calling someone to the left of you a libtard or a snowflake. Because you’re calling me that. I don’t mind that we have a disagreement over policy. I don’t mind that we have a difference of opinion. But if you like me or at least respect me, may I suggest that you cut that language out of your vocabulary, and if you won’t, please understand that it will be very difficult to remain friends with somebody that can be so disrespectful to me. Because you may just think it’s rhetoric but it is piercing my heart. I am taking it to heart.

Books, or What to Read When You Have Too Many Choices

book-112117_1280I have soooo many books to possibly read, I am often beset with indecisiveness. Books on Kindle. Books on my shelves. I even have a few audio books. Some women buy shoes. I buy books. Lots and lots of books. I doubt I could read all of them if I read one a day for the rest of my life and still, I buy more.

So I’m asking, what do you recommend? If it’s a book I already own, I will put it on the “to be read” (TBR) pile. Otherwise, it will be added to my list of future possibilities.

Currently, I am finishing Lean In which I started eons ago but never finished. I’m also reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, which I am reading again because my dear friend (previously mentioned wise woman Jenn) highly recommended it for me at this time in my life so I pulled it off the shelf and I read 10 pages a day.

I’m looking for fiction, hopefully something that I can escape into. I’m trying to read Bone Gap, which is YA fiction. But I’m up for other ideas after this one.

I’ve thought about delving into Richard Wright or Ralph Ellison for Black History Month.

Your thoughts welcome. If you comment, please tell me why you recommend the book. Thanks in advance.

Just Showing Up

In Brene Brown’s groundbreaking Daring Greatly, she writes “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”

As I’ve written recently, bad shit just keeps coming – Dad cancer and dying, cat cancer, torn shoulder and surgery, losing someone I love. To say that the last 6 months have been less than ideal would be a gross understatement. 

I’ve written that I don’t feel brave and that my friends, Jenn and Marilyn, have begged to differ. I’ve perhaps argued with them over that point.

But in my effort to finally finish Brown’s book I came upon her quote and it stuck to me. 

Over the last 6 months I continued to run my business.  My business thrived. I continued to show up at networking events. Despite having to say some really painful things to one of my best friends in the world (and maybe my great love), a few hours later, I showered, got dressed,  put on my makeup and a smile, and went to support a friend’s band (and enjoyed myself).

If that’s bravery, then yes Jenn and Marilyn, I’m brave. I am certainly a plugger. 

I’m doing my best to just show up. 

Sweetpea Update

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me to find out how SP is doing.

So first thing is that SP has a tumor in his lung and his tail is a metastasis of the cancer which is likely a carcinoma. According to the veterinary oncologist, a cancer in a cat that has metastasized will not respond to traditional chemotherapy. For that reason we are not doing traditional chemotherapy. Lung cancer that has metastasized in cats, without any treatment, has a very poor prognosis of six months or less and we honestly do not know when this started.

BUT we have decided to do a fairly new treatment call Palladia. It has had very good results in both dogs and cats and is in a pill form which I give him. If after a period of time, his tumor is stable or shrinking we will take that as it working and continue. If the tumor grows and/or he starts getting more metastases, we will stop. We will know very quickly if this treatment works – about 1 month.

SP likely also has another type of cancer because he has a mass in his abdomen. The decision was made, after consultations with the oncologist and the surgeon, that doing surgery to biopsy his intestines and the mass in his abdomen at this juncture does not make any sense because we know he has the other cancer. We will reevaluate that depending upon how well he does regarding his lung cancer. For now it was determined that making him have surgery and the risks involved with surgery did not make any sense.

So please say your prayers for my little boy. If he continues to eat and doesn’t lose any more weight, and if the tumor stay stable or shrinks, he will continue with his treatment. If he stops eating or loses weight or if the tumor grows (or all three) then we will keep him comfortable until that is not a possibility, and then I will have to do the adult and the humane thing and take away his suffering.

Right now he has no pain. It helps that he is on what I call kitty morphine, but is actually a low dose analgesic which he gets orally by mouth 3 times a day. He is still alert and bright-eyed and frankly, acting a lot like his normal self. His doctors and I see this as a very good sign.

One day at a time. Picture of SP in better days. I love watching him sleep so peacefully. 

My Foray into Smoothies

​More than a year ago, I put a message out on Facebook asking if anyone had a blender and a juicer for cheap.

I have a blender however it barely blends soup and I really wanted to make some smoothies using up the kale I had in the freezer left over from the summer. I was part of a CSA that summer and I had lots and lots of kale. At the end of the summer however, I realized I really don’t like it very much.

I hate wasting food though and kale is very healthy for you. My thought then was to either blend  it into smoothies or juice it or keep putting it into soup like I had been doing (and not enjoying very much).

A friend sold me her juicer and I still haven’t gotten around to doing much of anything with it. But another friend, when I asked if I could buy his nutribullet which was sitting on the kitchen counter in the office (untouched for months), told me just to take it.

The nutribullet is so easy to use I started using it immediately. I used it so much, I actually burned the motor out (smoke coming out of the machine and all!) I bought another one to replace it. I love this little powerhouse. 

I have untold smoothie recipes on Pinterest and pulled out from magazines, as well as a pretty nifty recipe book by Kris Carr (love her #kriscarr #crazysexylove) which I’ve promised to someone else (if I ever remember to give it to her) but frankly I’ve been just winging it.

In the beginning, most of what I made was hit and miss. Nothing so disgusting that I had to throw it away, but nothing I wanted to repeat either. Over the last year though, I’ve gotten good at this smoothie thing.

I don’t do anything fancy. I buy what’s on sale that week and create from there.

So today I’m actually going to share a few smoothie recipes. I enjoy these a great deal. I can drink them down easily. No nose holding here!  This has been especially important lately as my appetite has been somewhat spotty. These smoothies insure that I am getting my nutrient rich foods I need for my health. 

 I’m not very good at measuring these types of things and it is just a tiny nutribullet that I make the smoothies in so they are essentially a one glass recipe. Note that none of my recipes call for unusual ingredients. None have flax, Chia, hemp, or oatmeal. I don’t eat them for my health reasons but you certainly can add them. I do not add protein powders either. I tried once and found I didn’t like them. I prefer the pure, unadulterated taste of fruit and veggies. Also note that I do not add any more sugar, honey, molasses, or maple syrup. I’m sure you could but I find them to be plenty sweet enough. By the way, I have these for breakfast most of the time.

I hope you enjoy these also. 

Purple People Eater Smoothie

Handful of spinach. Please don’t waste your money on expensive baby spinach. At my grocery store the baby spinach was on sale for $2.50 for 4 or 5 ounces. I went to the other side of the produce aisle and bought regular spinach for a $1.99 for 8 ounces. That’s about a $3 savings. It’s going into a smoothie folks, not a salad. The rest will be great in a stir fry.

Small handful of frozen blackberries. I had these in the freezer from the summer and the real purpose of them is that this way you get some sugar, some fruit, and don’t need to add any ice. I suppose you could use any frozen fruit of your choice. I like berries and I like the dark purple color that the blackberries provide. This IS a Purple People Eater smoothie after all!

A few slices of apple including the peel. I prefer a tart apple and mine are often a Staymen or an Ida Red. You use whatever type of apple you like. Obviously a red delicious will make a sweeter smoothie.

Unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk (I often use coconut milk instead). I prefer Silk (#Silk) brand because it is more allergen sensitive for wheat and gluten, and lactose than the other brands. I use the refrigerator case one, not the shelf stable one, because it doesn’t have the extra stabilizers in it. I do not use the sweetened almond milk. It has way too much sugar in it. (I’m not paid by Silk btw. I’m currently using SO Delicious coconut milk and it’s very good also.)

Whazz it up as Jamie Oliver would say.

Delicious.

The Kitchen Sink

This smoothie is more of a “what’s in the fridge” recipe than an actual recipe but it is good for every single day and it is my “default” smoothie. Feel free to change this one up. I call it the kitchen sink because I use whatever is available. No celery ok. No banana. Ok. No berries. Okeedokee.

Handful of greens. One of my favorite bagged greens is spinach with chard and boy choy. It is a much better price point than those little bags in the salad section of the store. I love chard. It’s probably my favorite green so I’m all for it in my smoothie. I often buy bunches of greens instead of bagged greens. Definitely buy what is on sale and affordable. I usually stir fry any remaining greens so they don’t go bad.

Frozen banana. I keep a small container with frozen bananas in it. I use a fork to break off some from what becomes a giant banana “block”. This acts as “ice”.

Some kind of berry. Blueberries and strawberries are best. Blackberries leave their seeds and I don’t like the texture or a mouth full of seeds. Yuck.

Splash of OJ. Squeeze from an actual orange or pre-made (I only use Florida Natural which uses oranges only from Florida, not Brazil or wherever else they may come from). Or leave it out altogether.

Half an apple with peel or pear with peel. Or leave it out. Pear makes it a sweeter smoothie. (I was given 2 large boxes of Harry and David pears for the holidays. Gave some away and I’m still eating A LOT of pears – smoothies and salads and poached and baked….)

Coconut or almond milk or water as you feel that day.I’ve added green or black tea if I have some left in the pot and enjoy it immensely, but I’m not brewing it special for my smoothie.  

I often chop up a celery stalk. I like the peppery taste it provides a great deal.

Sometimes I add a little cucumber as well. Or even carrot and zucchini. Romaine lettuce is great in a smoothie.

I’ll also add parsley if I have it but again, it’s just because I have it. I’m not going out of my way to buy it special. 

Now here’s the choice. This smoothie will be either primordial  green or brownish depending upon your ingredients. Sometimes it’s not very appealing to look at. I don’t care but if you do,  add cocoa powder. I like to add it to change the taste to a chocolate smoothie. The brown color will be much more rich and appealing.

This one will make a lot of juice if you add all the ingredients. You can drink half one day and save the other for the next day. I usually pair this with a tablespoon of nut butter eaten off a spoon.

Cucumber Refresher 

Easy peasy.

Water

Cucumber

Stalk of celery

Whazz and drink. I like this with a little more water because it can be somewhat “gelatinous” otherwise. It is very refreshing. If your cucumber has a lot of large seeds you may want to use a spoon to remove them first.

Cucumber Strawberry Refresher

Same as above but add strawberries. It is also very refreshing. Add fresh mint or basil or even cilantro if you have some.

Cucumber Melon Refresher

Same as the cucumber refresher but with some cantelope or honeydew. If I have any fresh mint I may add it. 

Let me know what you think and share your smoothie recipes.