How has your week been? Mine has been this beautiful combination of Zen and Stress, which is to say that it’s been flat out normal. Isn’t it funny how easily it would be to focus on the stressful parts and forget about the zen parts?
I got caught in that cycle in my head Thursday evening. It was one of those longer days and we ended up skipping dinner because it was just too late to eat by the time JB and I were both done with work. We headed out for a quick walk instead and I started thinking “Good heavens, I haven’t had a good meal all week.”
Forgetting, of course, the beautiful dinners we had Tuesday and Thursday evening. Forgetting, of course, the satisfying breakfasts we had Sunday and Tuesday. Oh, and the fact that I treated myself to a lunch at a tea room to capture some culinary memories.
Those Inner Voices are all about pointing out the hard stuff, aren’t they?
Of course, there’s the other side of the coin. The Picture Perfect only Present the Positive in Public voice. We photograph those beautiful meals we forgot when we were tired and hungry.
The Zen parts of my week included a visit to a beautiful Temple where this glorious Buddha. It was to mark the date a decade ago when I visited a Buddhist Monastery so that I could take a course in meditation.
Maybe one of the reasons I focus on creating a daily life that you love is because I finally understand the reality that we humans are meant to experience the highs and the lows of living. And, that we spend most of our time in the middle of that.
When we can capture the beauty in the every day parts – the ones that aren’t high or low. Well, darling, that’s when life becomes truly exquisite. That “normal” life is really the best part of living.
I find that I especially have to remind myself of that as we get closer to the holidays. The energy of so many people is frantic as they seek to create perfect holidays for everyone.
So, tell me, darling, what about you? Are you focusing on the stress? Are you only capturing the perfect moments? What can you do the capture the beauty in the ordinary moments? Does the energy of the holidays push you and pull you? How can you step away from perfection?
What can you do to capture the beauty that is all around us? How can you grant yourself permission to stop focusing on the highs and the lows and finding grace in the middles? What can I do to help you find your threads of courage and love? How can I help you prepare for an amazing end to 2014 and a beautiful beginning to 2015?
Today, I am listening to a children’s choir sing holiday songs. How appropriate when today’s Holidalies Theme is Christmas Songs? I love the serendipity of life.
The kiddos are sticking to the basics and drawing a crowd. I’ve heard Jingle Bells, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause, and more. There’s nothing like the enthusiasm of kids singing about the coming season.
As an adult, my tastes are a little broader. I can’t settle on a favorite song, because I love so many:
It’s been a full day here. I had a regular series of calls with clients and sought to explore a little, so I did those calls on the road. Stopping in parking lots or in tiny independent coffee shops.
Between calls, I played with the rhythms and forces of nature. We are closing in on the New Year and I haven’t yet zeroed in on my “words” for the year and this deep desire to experience the rhythms and forces around me are a part of that.
JB’s week has been long, too. Leaving at 6:30 in the morning, returning around 6:30 in the evening. Then, we make our way to dinner.
In some ways, it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Maybe because our Christmas will be different this year from the last few we’ve shared together. We have such an aggressive travel schedule this December and January that I’m not even sure if we’ll pull down the Christmas dishes or big Tree.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s better to roll with the shifts and such instead of fighting the in the desire to hang out to traditions we may need to shift away from – forever or for awhile. It doesn’t mean we abandon the spirit of it forever, it just means that life changes.
PS – photo is mine, taken at the Hale Koa Hotel.
My first fancy dress came from Neiman Marcus. It was a pink and white gingham long dress purchased for me to wear at my cousin Judy’s wedding, where I would hand out pink silk roses filled with rice.
I was four. Even at four, I understood that every day play clothes didn’t come from Neiman Marcus. Back in the 70’s, they sewed tags in all the clothes that said “Neiman Marcus” in their signature script and I can remember being scolded by my mother when I told my cousin to LOOK AT THE TAG.
In my work blog last week, I wrote about the visits from Ghosts of Christmas past and the struggle with remembering happy memories from my childhood. In truth, I know the good memories are there, waiting to be uncovered.
So, today, I visited the “tea room” at Neiman Marcus in hopes of capturing some happier childhood recollections would surface if they were fueled by the culinary memories.
After the purchase of my first fancy dress, we visited The Zodiac Room of Neiman Marcus about once a year. It was designed to feed “Ladies Who Lunch” and even as a young child, I knew that it wasn’t just about the food, but the entire experience.
Upon being seated, along with a glass of iced water, you are given a tiny demitasse cup filled with chicken broth. That sip prepares your palate – and sets the tone – for the rest of the meal.
Though I know I must have ordered different things over the year, the main thing I remember ordering was the Three Salad Plate – a scoop of chicken salad alongside an orange jello souffle and a tiny fruit salad with poppy-seed dressing.
Then. There are the popovers. Fresh from the oven popovers served with strawberry butter.
The Tea Room here is called the Mariposa and there is no chicken salad, so I order a crab salad with Green Goddess dressing. I enjoy not one – but two – popovers and use every bit of strawberry butter.
I am hundreds of miles away from Dallas, Texas, yet the flavors bring back those childhood days of feeling special and eating with ladies who lunch.
And, for today, that is enough.
and some other unremembered salad
would have the “Three Salad Plate”
It begins with filtered water, fresh beans, and the touch of a button. Five minutes later, I am duly rewarded with the heady brew that is coffee. Though my perpetual to-do list and the energy of the world both urge me to rush, rush, hurry, hurry, I do not. I will not.
This is a moment crying for sacred ritual and loving prayer.
I reach for a favorite mug and gently drop two tiny spoons of raw sugar into the bottom. I take a deep breath, inhaling the tantalizing scent of magical beans turned to liquid gold as I pour the first few ounces from the Cuisinart. I splash in a generous amount of whole milk from a white ceramic pitcher and observe the cloud that blooms in my cup as the coffee accepts its offering from the dairy world.
I stir, and find beauty in the perfect caramel color as the sugar, milk, and coffee blend their voices to sing in three part harmony.
I close my eyes and breathe in the sensual and the simple and the sacred.
The first drops pass my lips and cross my tongue and that first taste is like a prayer for life and love and gratitude for the fruits of farmers in Costa Rica and Wisconsin.
This is my morning ritual. It is simple, but no less holy or sacred for being so.
How we begin our morning sets the feel for the rest of our day. We can rush, or we can take one moment to ground and center and feel the sacred offering of our life before us.
The choice is ours.
I encourage you to find ritual in your first sip of the day. Whether coffee, tea, water or juice, how can you invite a deeper connection to yourself and to God? How can you begin the day with a sacred action that becomes prayer?
This piece was created for the 31 Moments of Simplicity & Inspiration from Kayce Hughlett and was scheduled for today.
I’m a bit of a history lover, so I’ve never forgotten December 7, 1941 – a Day that will Live in Infamy. Pearl Harbor. The day the US was pulled into the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Day marks a personal date for me as well. On December 7, 2004, I stood before a judge and affirmed that I was agreeing to end my 17 year marriage. In truth, we had been going through the motions for years. Though I knew it was the best thing for me – and the best thing for my daughters – it was all kinds of scary. To lose the identity of “wife”.
In truth, I wasn’t quite clear on who I really was. I had spent most of my life being a chameleon – mimicking the beliefs of my parents and then my husband – that I had lost all touch with my own view of the world. Instinctively, I knew that in order to move forward – to come home to myself and begin to reinvent my life. I sought spiritual guidance and though I had been a practicing Catholic for many years, I had stopped attending Mass at my Parish. When the Holy days rolled around, I instead sought comfort in the Order of the Mass at the Carmelite Convent.
I needed more. I needed to find a way to better connect with myself. I needed to connect with spiritual souls. Though I loved the Nuns at the convent, there was no opportunity for conversation or connection as their order was cloistered.
Near my home then was the Quang Chieu Zen Monastery. Another group of monks and nuns, but this group wasn’t Catholic – they were Buddhist. And they taught classes on meditation. I’d never been able to “quiet my mind”, but I learned tools and techniques to better channel my mind chatter there.
I’d love to say my life was changed overnight, but the truth of the matter it was a first step towards Enlightenment of who I could be – and who I was born to be.
Fast forward to December 7, 2014.
I no longer resemble the woman I was a decade. I am reinvented. I am reborn. In truth, I have peeled away the layers of of masks I wore in hopes that I would be loved and accepted. I had an epiphany this past year that I’ve been able to do so much healing and peeling away of those layers because for the first time in my life, I am safe.
I am safe to be myself, without the pretenses or masks. I am safe to create without prying eyes. My words can be mine until I am ready to release them into the world. A shift from always being watched and criticized. A change from having my diaries read by my mother, my ex-husband, my daughters…
We have been together now for 4 1/2 years. JB and I.
It is our first full day in Oahu. It is our only day to explore together, for the rest of the week, JB will keep a 7 to 4 kind of schedule. We head out for a drive to explore the Island. JB lived here for several years and though some things have changed, much has stayed the same.
We visit Ford Island and take quiet moments to mark the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor as we gaze across Pearl Harbor at the USS Arizona and the spots where so many lost their lives seventy-three years ago.
We also visit The Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples. We pick the spot due to the Temple’s appearance in Magnum PI, but I am pulled into the serenity and holiness of the space. The Bell, the Koi, and the beautiful Buddha.
As I was processing the photos this morning from our day, I see the circle.
Pearl Harbor Day. Visiting Pearl Harbor on the Anniversary. A Decade of a New Life. Enlightenment from Buddhist Monks to being in the presence of this beautiful Amida Buddha.