Friday, August 20, 2010

Cooking with Grandma

Check out my guest post on  Cooking with Grandma.  After reading it again, I am suddenly hungry!!! 

Here is the link.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Introducing HRH, The Princess of Argyle

Introducing……..HRH, The Princess of Argyle.

Imagine if you would a little girl in a sparkly pink dress with layers of ruffles underneath. Her long blond hair is in ringlets with pink, silver, and white ribbons intertwined. Her tiny fingernails are painted a delicate pink with a smattering of glitter. She twirls sparklers and ribbons and sometimes big golden pinwheels. The Princess giggles incessantly and skips from place to place in her white patent leather shoes with frilly white socks (pre-labor day, of course).

Despite her frills and her sparkly frocks, the Princess desperately longs for adventure - to be found worthy - to be important. She wants to play an important part in the world - to offer hope and beauty - to console the suffering - to rescue puppies and kitties.

Not content to stand still and look pretty, the Princess has been known to pull on her daddy’s boots, slip on a piece of armor, and wield his heavy sword in mock battle. She dreams of the day when she can defend the family honor… the day…..and be seen as worthy just like her boy cousins.

Life goes on and she learns to use his shield - mostly to protect her heart….to hide the fact that she is shaking in her boots when conflict comes. Large shields are adept at hiding hot tears from her attackers. She learns that the sword can gives her power - power to be brave….to be heard….to be in control - but that sword can also pierce the hearts of others with wounds that sometimes never heal.

This Princess - this little girl lives inside of me. There are times when like Cinderella, she had worn rags and dreamed of better days and there are times where she has shined in all her glory. Sometimes I get protective and don’t let her shine - using the shield to hide her sensitive heart. Sometimes, I pull my daddy’s boots on, grab his shield and the sword so heavy I am not sure I can wield it…….saying… brave… your worth……show you are worth something….that losing you is painful……and I fight with all my might. I hold down my princess-heart emotions, refuse to see the heart of my opponent and be valiant.
Oh I talk a good game – I act brave and seem to approach things head on…..but deep down inside, I am still a little girl in a pink dress wearing her daddy’s too big boots and armor wielding a sword with all her might to valiantly protect herself from an evil king saying, “you’ll never beat me” all the while wishing someone would come riding up on a big horse, rescue her, and put her safely in the castle with a glass of milk and some cookies. This little girl longs to be brave, to prove that she is worthy…….but if she stops for a second, she will simply just break down and cry.

There is a song by a 90’s Christian group called Small Town Poets with a line that says, “If you let me love you, we’ll sit here and cry.” Sometimes that is all I want……

Can that happen?? Can I be brave and un-brave?? Can I be adventurous yet fragile? Can I protect and allow myself to be protected? It’s complicated……..but that’s why I am a Princess.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And the Moral of the Story Is.....

Isn’t this how it always seems to go???

I lovingly place a tomatillo plant in my garden this spring---my heart beating in anticipation of the pungent sauces I will make with my bounty. I water, I fertilize and take photos of the sweet Japanese lantern-like casings that appear after the flowers have faded.

Suddenly, I realize that Mr. Tomatillo has completely taken over my garden - spreading his tentacles through my peppers, my basil and my tomato plants--overpowering them, shading them, and just generally annoying them. I try to tame Mr. Tomatillo by pruning the ends, hoping that he will learn to play nice with his neighbors, but to no avail. He needs to take up all of the space in my garden….to touch the basil, hover over my precious tomatoes and torture my pepper plants (who have already been through so much with the great rabbit crisis)…..

I notice that the lanterns are turning yellow and falling to the ground with no fruit to show. C’est un problem! C’est mal! I rush over to my keeper of information, my Gateway laptop, and google, “problems with tomatillos.” As I scan the pages upon pages of information, I come to the realization that I have been duped. Mr. Tomatillo needs a mate in order to bear fruit….his flowers will not pollinate themselves, one must plant two (yes, two) plants in order to get the sweet green tomato-like fruit. Holy Jehosophat! Really?? Now why in the world didn’t Lowe’s let me know that in the first place…..just a little sign that says, “Hey….YOU… garden girl… TWO plants!”

I spent about a week in denial…..all of my hard work……for naught. This unproductive plant has taken over my entire garden and what am I going to have to show for it?? Zip, zilch, nada…..sigh….*SIGH*

Today, I was a woman on a mission! My garden is wilting in the summer heat and something must give - the strangling, unproductive tomatillo plant. The Man and I go out into the garden… with garden loppers in hand and I set out to cut all of the spindly branches off of the plant.

When I was ¾ of the way through, The Man stopped me and asked me a simple question, “Hey….wait……isn’t this a tomatillo??” Right there on the pile of cut branches were budding tomatillo fruit. Now isn’t that just a peach?

Isn’t life like that?? Just when we have it all figured out and start hacking on some unproductive piece of our lives, we realize that we have simply been impatient.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Trampled Wildflowers

Sometimes, it’s easy to write about the difficult things….it’s easy to look back afterwards. There is a lot of fear involved in “real time” interactions….fear that if I admit my stuff, then their inappropriate actions get a “pass” because I was momentarily insane….because I overreacted. I want it to matter that I am hurt…..I want it to matter that my feelings look like little trampled flowers in my garden…wilted…. yellowing… crushed.

As I mulled over these things this morning on my run, I realized that this fear is what keeps us from forgiving others. We hold on the slights, callous words…the actions that hurt our hearts because we desperately want our hurt to matter. Forgiveness feels like one big eraser….erasing their actions forever…but also erasing our hurts. If their actions aren’t remembered, then our crushed and hurting hearts are forgotten….. But WAIT!!! I want to say!!! Want to shout out from the rooftops…..WAIT!!! My heart is still in pieces….it’s shattered all over the floor…crushed. Every time I try and pick up the pieces, one pricks my finger and I bleed all over again….hurt all over again. Better to leave the pieces on the floor as an altar to my hurt….

Here’s the beautiful thing, dear one - if we refuse to keep a record of their actions….if we decide to forgive someone who has hurt us, our feelings still matter. It mattered that we hurt, that a wildfire savagely destroyed the beautiful flowers in our heart. Our hurt is not forgotten…but we need to treat it just like that…..our hurt….and nourish our souls back to health…allowing the flowers to grow again. Although forgiveness may erase their deeds, it does not erase us along with it. As long as we hold on to the offenses they have committed, keeping a precise record of wrong, we are hurt and disappointed over and over and over again. If we let it go, we are free from the cycle of hurt….the cycle of rejection…the cycle of disappointment.

So forgive even when you want to hold on to the hurt. Forgive and live your life in a beautiful way, not waiting for the next disappointment…but instead, living in the moment of joy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pandora's Box

“I just feel like I can’t get a break!” My girlfriend was discouraged - she had her fair share of hardships in her 30-someodd years of life. Life felt so unfair (as it often is) and she didn’t want much - just some space to breathe….and be happy.

Have you ever felt crushed under the weight of life--like you are squashed under a heap….one thing….and then another…and….yes….another. Health problems….car problems…..kid problems….love problems…..the faucet breaks….then the toilet…..then you spill your coffee on your white carpet…you get a call from your child’s teacher… you forgot a credit card payment….your X let you down….again….. There have been times in the last five years where no amount of tagalongs, ice cream….or even wine could take the stress away (but oh I have tried!!)….

When it seems the whole universe is against you, how do you hold on? How do you not get trampled under the weight of the world?? I had to ask myself, What keeps me going when I am running on fumes???? The answer is Hope --the hope that my struggles are only for a season….that life will be beautiful again…..I will laugh again….Hope that I will be okay. The hope that an argument with my man is just a disagreement and not a sign…..the hope that my finances will someday improve….the hope that Junior will listen to me and not buy that crazy-fast motorcycle (hey….a woman can hope)….

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a book that mentioned the myth of Pandora. It’s been a while since I’ve studied mythology, so being the expert Googler that I am, I Googled Pandora myth. Now, we have all heard of the term, “Pandora’s Box….” and to the best of my recollection, it seems to be used in terms of opening a can of worms…..but the story of Pandora is way more than one of a foolish girl whose curiosity got the best of her….the story holds the key to coping with all of cruddy stuff life sometimes throws at us….the key to dealing with the unfair, the harsh, the things that beckon us to become bitter.

We have to start with Prometheus…..who saw man shivering down on Earth at night, eating raw meat and generally being miserable. Prometheus felt sorry for men so he arranged for them to have fire. That all seems nice enough…..except that the Gods up on Olympus had forbidden man to have fire as they believed that man would misuse fire and destroy with it. Prometheus knew that men would misuse it, but thought that the good outweighed the bad… he tricked Zeus and smuggled fire from his temple inside a hollow fennel plant (fennel is so versatile). Zeus was livid……absolutely livid that his will could be so blatantly disobeyed, so he sought to punish Prometheus and man.

Zeus called Aphrodite to pose while Hephaestus made a clay figure of a woman. He brought the statue to life and granted her with gifts….beauty, charm, cunning, wit, eloquence, deceit, skill, and curiosity. Zeus gave her an urn and said she was to never open it. Zeus offered Pandora as a wife to Prometheus. Prometheus (a pretty sharp cookie) knew it was a trick and declined…..but his brother (not the sharpest crayon in the box) took Pandora as his wife and they settled down in the countryside in a cute little ancient bungalow with a white picket fence…..and all was well in ancient times….. That is…..until the urn started to call her like an opened package of Oreos in the pantry. I can see her now…..walking up to the urn….walking away…..sitting on the couch….reading a book….walking back to the urn….thinking maybe one quick peek (you know……trying to get away with eating only one of the Oreos in the package)….just a quick peek…..and she opens the lid…..nothing happens for a second or two…..her guard lets down…..and then……all of a sudden….every hardship, every calamity, every evil imaginable rushes out of the urn to run amok on the earth…..toil, greed, illness, trickery, theft, mistrust, disloyalty….murder….pain…. all escaped. Panicked, Pandora tries to close the lid quickly, but her fingers fumble and the calamities are flying out so fast! Finally, she gets the lid secured on the urn……only one evil left in the jar…..hopelessness. Utter hopelessness did not escape - leaving hope as the only defense against the hardships of this world. Hope.

There are times that I do not embrace hope…..that I lose sight of hope….that I wallow in the unfairness of life….in how hard life is sometimes. But then….I see it….the bright light of hope at the end of the tunnel….just a pinpoint of light sometimes. But I know that hope never fails if I entwine myself in its safety….if I refuse to become bitter….if I don’t harden my heart to hope. That is what gets me through - Hope.