Smells and Tastes

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For some reason there are times of the year that we all really enjoy or maybe even really dislike. I had the opportunity this week to attend a workshop and one of the exercises we did involved discussing in a small group the smells and tastes of things revolved around Halloween that we remember. It is interesting to me that I have a great memory and cannot remember some things that may have happened in the last few years, but I can remember smells and tastes and events that come to mind centered around those smells and tastes.
When I began thinking about “my” smells and tastes I remember Halloween probably a bit differently than some. I do not remember trick or treating being the big thing each year. I do remember my mom making my sister, and I costumes that were adorable. She spent hours on them. I remember going to my grandparents and the smile on their faces when we walked in. Oh how they enjoyed spoiling us with big Reese’s and Butterfingers. But I mostly remember a blanket my grandmother made that I always pull out of the linen closet when I go home to my parent’s house. The blanket it handmade and one that my sister and I would lay out in the middle of the living room floor to sit on, have a snack of some sort, and watch television. We would lay the blanket down and watch the 1966 classic, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Memories I hold near and dear are good, warm, snuggly ones and the blanket and cartoon watching went on through the holiday season. Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph in December are two that I continue to watch in my 30’s. It’s is nice to recreate that feeling to a degree, but you can never replace those memories and feelings of being innocent and enjoying the simple pleasures of just having that family time or a time in your life where everything was just “perfect” even if it were something this simple.
I encourage you to just sit and ask three or four of your peers to share their smells and tastes and memories about Halloween….or any other time of this season that comes to mind. In my culture it is rare that most of cannot relate in some way where this subject comes up, but it is also an area we can connect with each other and talk about things that are neutral and comfortable…..Possibly even spark some other conversations or start our own traditions as we get older.

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Hang on to Your Happiness

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It can be debated upon….Depression. Is it clinical or in the spirit?  Regardless, most of the time depression is brought on by things that are beyond our control. Every little thing we do may be depleting every ounce of happiness out of our day. Instead of being the picture of depression, lift yourself up. Literally. Stand up, and stand up straight! It might change your outlook a little. Take care of yourself at work. Taking an action plan about an issue within the workplace can help. Get out and move. Exercising a little bit goes a long way even if it is just walking around the building, stretching at the desk, or doing a few stretches on the couch can perk you up. Seek professional help to talk about it. There may be things you can talk about with someone that you may not want to bring up on the home front or at the job. Last but not least, have fun! Every single day do something fun.

YES

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Setting a goal and completing a goal can be challenging especially with stumbling blocks and life happenings along the way. One goal you never imagine setting for yourself is saying yes to more and saying no less. Read a book recently by a famous author whose goal was to do just that. Say YES! Why would you not say yes??

Many people do not say Yes because of fear they will fail, it will be too difficult, the thought of what others may think, or simply just because it does not come natural. Opening up a Yes leads to more Yes’. Personally, I set a few goals the past year that included saying yes more often to a few things I must say were my biggest fears. I joined a club when asked to join and this led to being asked to be an officer which led to more spotlight and responsibility. I said yes. I joined a dating app which meant I had to say Yes more often if I wanted to meet anyone and I met someone. I said Yes to myself…dinner on a patio, alone with my favorite food, drink, and positive thoughts. I was no longer thinking about the fact that I was there alone, but that I was doing it and happy.

These three goals were big goals for me. They have led to more goals and more Yes’ but the best has happened. When you say Yes more often you see yourself blossom in ways you never imagined were possible. Get ut of your bubble and say Yes to something today. You may be pleasantly surprised where the road takes you.

Snail Mail

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What is Snail Mail….here is a reminder before I get started. Straight from Wikipedia:

Snail mail or smail (from snail + mail) is a dysphemistic retronym—named after the snail with its slow speed—used to refer to letters and missives carried by conventional postal delivery services. The phrase refers to the lag-time between dispatch of a letter and its receipt, versus the virtually instantaneous dispatch and delivery of its electronic equivalent, e-mail.

Call me a little old fashioned….but I have been struggling recently with the way technology has changed the way relationships are, or the way they “used” to be. When I was growing up I wrote ‘thank you’ notes to friends who came to my slumber parties and brought gifts. I wrote notes to my grandparents for birthdays and the twenty dollars Maw Maw sent me in the mail. More recently I have been invited to children’s birthday parties and have been amazed that a thank you was never said nor did I receive a note. And to top it off, I haven’t heard from the parents of these children until they needed or wanted something. Not because I am a friend, but because they are not true friends.

A few months ago a guy I work with had a surprise baby shower at work. As usual I pitched in, helped decorate, and went in with someone else to get him a very nice gift. And wouldn’t you know….he hand wrote a thank you note and put it in my box. It was very personal, too.  He took the time himself, not his wife whom (never met her), and wrote this wonderful thank you note that was specific to me. You just do not see that these days. I kept the note in my car and looked at about every other day for several weeks when I was stopped in traffic. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Since then I have moved and when digging through my desk and cleaning out junk I found a hand written letter from Maw Maw from about six years ago. It was the way “she” communicated and showed her love when I couldn’t see her in person. Memories and those warm and fuzzy feelings just flood in when I see something like this that I have had tucked away. I miss her. She sent the letter and then died about one month later. I have kept the letter and put it with all of my other greeting cards and “SNAIL MAIL” that I have received over the years. You would think that I would get more excited over other things, but there is nothing like going home at the end of the day and checking your mail to find a card or letter from someone you love.

So to top things off, text messaging as a way to send these messages and attempt to build relationships has done nothing but just simply turn me off to texting. If I do not respond to a text almost immediately or even within an hour or two, I am getting another text stating, “I hope you are ok….just checking on you.”  I am in my 30s and building relationships with people through texting is not my style. I have had this issue with the dating scene for several years now, and I will not build a relationship with anyone just based on texts.  A guy told me recently that it isn’t just men dong the texting, that it is women too. Well, after communicating that texting was not the way I was going to communicate 95% of the time he continued to text.  I finally got upset about it because after communicating that I would like to have conversations face to face and hear his voice he seemed to never hear that it was something I needed in the relationship. It can be misleading for one, two it leads to miscommunication, and three it takes out the real conversations that need to happen in person.  Anyone can text something, but to actually talk about it is another thing. I’d much rather receive a voice mail and call the person back than have a full-blown texting battle for a few hours when it could be a ten minute conversation and be done with it. I see it as a battle because it can get confusing, can possibly lead to frustration, and even lead to other problems or hurt feelings. What happens when it comes time to have an actual conversation face to face with someone and texting is the only form of communication that has occurred about 95% of the time?? I’ve been there and done that. I’d much rather spend time with someone face to face and have more serious conversations where I can hear someone’s voice than hiding behind a text.  Don’t get me wrong…I like texts that let me know someone is thinking about me or a random ‘Miss you’ ‘What you doin?’ ‘I wanna see you.’ ‘Thinkin’ about you and wanted to say hi.’ A little flirting is fun sometimes too….but I still say the Check Yes or No letters we had in grade school that we read as we looked across the room with a smile on our face and that first time you have a good conversation at the coffee shop, over dinner, or sitting on the couch watching a football game cannot be touched by the age of texting.

I just often wonder what the world might be like if people did not have the option of texting and actually had to work at communicating. What would we be like if we went back to the way things were 30 years ago and wrote letters, sent cards, and had manners the way were supposedly were taught by actually saying thank you or being there for someone other than behind a phone screen or computer.  I will always be a fan of Snail Mail.

Temporary Vs. Eternity

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Since I was brought into this world my parents have surrounded me with the one kind of love only animal lover’s know about. I have had dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, horses, rabbits, birds, turtles, Easter chicks, a calf I fed with a bottle, fish, lightning bugs, and hamsters. I firmly believe that the opportunity of being able to love and care for an animal has shaped who I am today. Animals love us no matter what we do,what we say, how horrendous our morning breath may be, or the mistakes we make. Over the years I have always had a dog. Dogs have been said to be man’s best friend. Besides the friendship of my mother and sister, my dogs have been my best friends. Just recently I thought I might have to euthanize my yellow Labrador of 12 years. Because he still has that “sparkle” of life in his eyes I decided not to let him go too soon. Although, there is a time we HAVE to let our best furry friends go. As much as we wish they could be with us forever, the love we have for them is eternal in my opinion.

Chase, my lab, is now at my parents place enjoying the land and place he has always known as his real home. I miss him terribly and still feel the same eternal love I did when he was here with me in person, but making the decision to take him there was for him. Not for me. A few weeks later my parent’s Bichon Frise of 14 years had a stroke the day before his 14th birthday. On his birthday he went to be with all of our other pets to frolic and tail wag in a place only they know about. As painful as these losses may be, the way they have touched us is unique to us. All the animal lovers out there know the feeling.

The pain and agony we go through when losing a pet is like no other. Even though we are never given a certain amount of time with our loved ones or our pets, one thing I know for sure is the way we are touched and forever changed by being blessed with their presence and love. The love and loyalty of an animal cannot be replaced…..just remembered and built upon or multiplied as we go through our busy lives. I wonder what the world would be like if we were all just a little more understanding, a little more caring, a little more loving, and a little more loyal to the things we care about the most…….especially to what is eternal instead of just the temporary things we have been given in life. My faith has been tested, but one thing I know for sure is that if my faith and loyalty toward the eternal life were as strong as my dog’s faith and loyalty for me…..my inner happiness, dedication, the way I treat others, my attitude, and my relationships with others might be more fulfilling. We all ALWAYS  have room for improvement in this area. A verse I think says it all…….2 Corinthians 4:18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Pancake Saturday

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Saturdays are usually my day to find something unique to experiment with for a tasty brunch. This morning it was pancakes! I had a few strawberries that were about to turn bad in the fridge so I decided to put them to good use. I used Pioneer Pancake Mix which only calls for 1 c. of mix and ¾ c. of water.  Mix. Then, chop up about three or four strawberries and stir gently into the mix. Heat on a griddle on 375 degrees until bubbly, flip, and waalaa. Spread a little butter and drizzle with your favorite maple syrup. Oh…almost forgot! I added a pinch of cinnamon in the batter for a little flavor. The cinnamon was not overpowering and some studies have shown that cinnamon can help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and even the common cold. Add just a tad to some of your favorite dishes or tea.

Foreign Food: Be KIND (the new craze)

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You are what you eat is a saying I have heard for years….and I believe it! Anyone looked on the packaging labels of foods that are way too easy to throw in the grocery basket at the supermarket and find that most of the ingredients you cannot pronounce and don’t have a clue what they are?? Eating fresh, healthy food can be expensive but there are ways to save money, eat healthy, feel good, and please your doctor when you go in for that yearly physical. I find simple recipes with limited amount of ingredients on Allrecipes.com. I signed up for their daily email and at least once a week I get simple recipes I can make at home for cheaper than it would cost me to go out to eat. Plus, I know what is actually in the food I am making whether it be an energy bar, soup, dessert, etc.

One of my recent finds that I absolutely love are the KIND natural whole nut and fruit bars. They are loaded with protein from fresh nuts and fruits without the added ingredients we can’t pronounce. KIND snack have been awarded numerous awards from various magazines, got Blue Ribbon for “Best Bar” on TODAY, and “Healthy Essential” by Food and Wine. Dr. Oz added this to the list of one of the five things you should have in your pantry. Spending a little more for these tasty treats that don’t contain chemicals and sugars that are not natural can’t be too healthy. Years ago I read a column by famous model Heidi Klum. I remember her saying in the interview she did not eat anything in a package. Well, my grandmother, mom, sister, and myself all made homemade bread and have been trying healthy package free foods that are much tastier than the on-the-shelf-for three-days stuff. The KIND craze are also great for those who have food allergies. They are gluten-free, kosher, packed with protein/vitamins/minerals, and are definitely worth trying rather than that afternoon walk to the vending machine for a Butterfinger or Zero bar. As someone who exercises at least five days of the week, the KIND bars kept me satisfied on long hours at work and got me through my workouts at the end of the day. I wanted to share their goodness with you! Check out www.kindsnacks.com and “Do the kind thing for your body.” If you don’t try these snacks, at least consider other options for snacking and meals that not routine for you. You might be amazed at the energy and glow you get from doing away with that packaged stuff.

Drawing the Best to Yourself

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Surrounding self with positive things, positive people, positive attitude, positive expectations…..it seems difficult but it’s possible. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, the possibilities of better things are always there. Had a good friend tell me today that “thoughts are finicky.” They drive those emotions that are already driving the thoughts…a vicious cycle. According to Merriam-Webster, finicky is extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards or requiring much care, precision, or attentive effort. I guess when I thought about it, it became more clear how powerful our thoughts can be. They determine our emotions (and our emotions drive the thoughts) that we carry with us whether for a minute, an hour, or a few days.

I’ve realized that negative emotional people like to surround themselves with the same (or people who actually will listen to it), and when they are not fulfilled they move on to someone else. Careful!!! It can be contagious! When we give into that negative behavior and thinking, we can get sucked in like the eye of a hurricane pulling in every bit of anything susceptible to its destruction. My friend who was explaining to me how “thoughts are finicky” went on to tell me how his thinking through emotions led him down a path of personal destruction, and now more recently a more fufilling nondestructive joy that only comes with positive expectations. Just thinking through emotions before acting on them can make or break the entire cycle.

So think about it…..Drawing the best to yourself whether it be it the people, the circumstances, or the outcome can lie in the emotion and the direction you want it to go. Draw the best to yourself through positive expectations and just StopThinkPauseAct. Waiting to act based on emotions/thoughts fed by those emotions can draw the better or the best. It’s a personal choice. I think about my horses back home. No matter what kind of day it is…..rain, sunshine, sleet, snow, they always seem to see the “carrot” dangling in front of them. They know and expect that it is coming. If we expect that the best will be drawn to us, it will be.