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Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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epiphany!!!

Definition of epiphany

plural epiphanies

1capitalized January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ
2an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being
3(1) a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something 
(2) an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking 
(3) an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
b a revealing scene or moment
 
In truth, I did not know anything about the Christian use of the word Epiphany until 11 years ago but I’m not talking about that definition. I am talking about the noncapitalized use of the word-the sudden deep understanding that hits a person with clarity.
So, I always believed this concept but last evening I UNDERSTOOD it. I now recognize the difference and that difference is profound.
I always was a good student. I liked school. It was very much a place for social interaction but I also enjoyed the exploration of information.  I remember the handful of amazing teachers I had with great respect.
I graduated about 17th in my class of 350 or so. I did not work hard, so perhaps I could have done better, but it was a place where I felt satisfaction. I could get decent grades while enjoying band, Girl Scouts, my religious youth group activities and more. I was not so dedicated to my schooling that I did not have fun although I have always been a goodie-two-shoes, so my concept of what is fun and yours may differ.
I struggled with math and science but managed to get As and Bs.  Still, I always assumed people who could do math easily, like my husband and my children, were smarter than I am.
Last evening it hit me that they are NOT smarter because they can do math. They just have different strengths than I do. Graham, for example, is a good writer, but he is not comfortable with a writing assignment, any more than I am with math.

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Source: Team Epiphany

And yet, I can whip out an essay about a lot of things easily. Still, we do not consider someone who can communicate in writing to be “smarter” than someone else who finds it difficult.
I believe as more and more people participate in the dumbing down of America, as mobile phone usage has lead people to assume headlines and sound bites are all the information they need, that evaluation of intelligence will have to change.
I also believe that intellectual intelligence is only one of many parts of a person’s makeup that enables success in life. Each person’s emotional maturity also permits analysis and growth….or frustration and stagnation. A high IQ with low EQ will usually lead to a life of alienation, feeling misunderstood by everyone.  The third aspect of intelligence is how you get along with others….can you accept people as they are or are you always judging others?Image result for various modes of intelligence
So, no longer will I feel inferior in comparison to a person who works comfortably in areas where my personal understanding is a bit stressed. I know I have other strengths…and I can fly well with them.
How about you?
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You DO have time….you have today.

In the past seven years I have really been involved in the local farm-to-table food movement. I urge people to cook from whole foods. They will enjoy the flavor so much more and they can control ingredients, getting away from preservatives that very well could be influencing your health.  But all too many people have the same answer: “I don’t have time to cook.”

Years ago I was ecstatic that my oldest son’s elementary school offered a parenting course when he was in 1st grade. STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) helped me recognize nonverbal signs when things were heading south in the kids’ behavior or my own response. I learned to stop things from escalating out of control and how to talk in a way that taught and provided discipline instead of punishment. I helped my kids learn to take responsibility for their actions and how to communicate their feelings, especially when their emotions were roiled up. And it seemed to have worked, because even if the three of them are not perfect by any means, they are wonderful active adults contributing to their communities. I have suggested this course or some other to many friends who are frustrated by their children’s behavior, since it really helped us.  But all too many people have the same answer: “I don’t have time for a 10-week seminar, one hour a week.”

Each of us makes choices, many of them, every single day. We decide simple things, like what to eat for breakfast and what to wear. And we decide harder things, like identifying the goal of the day.

Some of us are planners; we think about what we want/need to do and figure out the various ways to achieve that with all their pros and cons. Some of us never plan; we are reactors. We respond to things that go on around us. And much of the time we are surprised and maybe a little bit (or more) angry because things are not always the way we want it.

 

I want to share with you the story of one woman I never got to know until after I moved from West Virginia. Having common friends, her comments on Facebook resonated with me in many ways. A few issues were not in agreement and it was in private conversation that I learned that this woman understood her position. That nothing about her was merely reactive.

Until the shit hit the fan. Already a breast cancer survivor, you would agree with me that that should be all Paige should have had to deal with, but no. Her beloved husband collapsed with a brain aneurysm and she had to explain to their two young daughters that Daddy was never coming home. You might agree with me that that is more than any woman should need to deal with in her life.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Paige Muellerleile

Source: Paige M – too long ago

But no, still more. The cancer was back and fully metastasized throughout her body. Paige, above all else, is a realist. She understands there is not much time left.

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source: Paige M December 2017

The pain of knowing she will not see her daughters graduate gets eased for minutes as she makes memories with them. She’s getting things in place, knowing they will be well loved by others to reach their goals, but it is not enough. There is not enough time left.

And then she posted this photo, and I looked at her…..and I see it. Life. In the moment. Participating. Grabbing all of it. Pain. Joy. Achievement. Struggle.

Paige HD

source: Herald Dispatch

So please please please look at your own life. Are you living? Go. Do.     You DO have time….you have today.


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It’s Past Time for Self Control

When I was in first and second grades my teacher, Mrs. Hibbard, helped establish a wonderful foundation for the love of learning.  One year, for example, we built a list from encyclopedias and other little kid references for each day of the month of February. We all know February 2 is Groundhog Day but did you know that February 1 is Victor Hugo’s birthday?  Imagine knowing at age 7 who he was and what he did!

candy heartsShe had a bowl of those tiny hearts with sayings on them that are sold around Valentine’s Day. They were a treat, a carrot so to speak, for achieving something good. Most typically they were for behavior not scholastic performance, so achievable to everyone equally. With those small bits of sugar she taught us self control.

A little less than a decade later my mom often criticized the hippie concept of “do your own thing” as a problem. I guess, Mom, you may have hit part of the reason we’re so messed up now on that philosophical rebellion against the establishment. If only we were satisfied to stay in the proscribed roles, our society would have been “great” all these years. And yet, there was and continues to be good reason to make noise about some of what the people in power have foisted on us.unique do your own thing

To put it mildly, this movement to break through conventional gender roles, color barriers and more upset the Establishment.   Those of us who are old enough to remember the late 60s and early  70s also remember how divided this nation was. There were those who supported the way of life that had been good enough for generations and the fact that those conventional mores restricted equal protection and application of the law was not recognized by people who perhaps felt threatened by others being given “equality”.   And the fight continues.

As we’ve moved away from back fence discussions with neighbors we know to the faceless aspect of Facebook, these discussions often become rude and completely worthless as an exchange of concepts.  Part of the population never quite understood that “political correctness” just meant being polite to all people and  most of the population never learned how to hold a persuasive argument. If  a person has no way to frame their position like a salesman, gently showing the benefit to the “prospect”,  that person has no recourse but to say the same thing again and again and then, in frustration, turn to denigration.

I have a good number of friends that I have made in places I have lived. While we never really talked about politics until recently, I had commonalities with them that nurtured our friendship. Some of them have disowned me; others continue to today and are able to present their viewpoints and respond to mine. What’s the difference in broad terms between these two groups of people?  Generally, it is their own self confidence in the life choices they have made and their self control in the way they live and speak.

I have other friends on Facebook, people I have never met face to face. They became friends because of some commonality.  The farm-to-table movement attracts people who are concerned about how the food we eat affects our health, and politically, we are all over the spectrum.  It amuses me that one of the people who “likes” almost every food warning I post on Facebook is unable to write out her own feelings on the political issues that shake us, and relies on some of her Facebook friends to engage with me.facebook icons

It doesn’t bother me to have discussions with people who hold opinions different from mine. How can we ever find our commonalities and perhaps solutions to these issues without sharing our concerns?

But there are many people who degrade rapidly or eventually. It’s as if they just can’t handle the points I raise. Perhaps they start to agree but their longer held position pulls them back and scared a bit, they lash out. Perhaps they just can’t imagine that anyone who holds a different viewpoint is worth their time, a classic example of cognitive dissonance.

How-to-Increase-Self-Control

source: T Nation

It doesn’t matter if they are smart or average. It doesn’t seem to matter what their financial status is.  It DOES seem to reflect on their love learning or lack thereof.

And I want to stress here that this kind of childish behavior is displayed by people throughout the political spectrum, not just one side or the other.

So, if you, like me, wants to see us avoid another civil war, I urge you to get a handle on your self control. candy you'll do

 


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What’s the Right Way?

What’s the right way to challenge someone you know…someone you love or respect…when something that person says makes your bullshit meter twinge?  How do you behave when someone you know…someone you love or respect….announces something that you know is based on air and ego?

I once worked for a man, a terrific man, one of the best. I worked for him and saw how capable he is, how truly wonderful. He did great things, the best things. Really. You would be proud to call him your friend.

I knew him to be gentle and caring and smart. Very smart. Went to several of the best schools and got great grades, superior grades. Better than almost everyone else.

But he had this one teeny tiny habit. He made up statistics. And I knew it.

I challenged him once….in private.  He grinned and asked me who would know. I told him I would know. The others who worked with us might know. And he would know.

And he smiled.

Now this man is not self serving and malicious.  On the contrary, he recognizes that he was given chances in life and now, because he is in a position to do so, he wants to help others.

I love this man. Do not misunderstand me.

But I see when good men can also lie, we are in trouble.

We have a President who does not know how to admit he does not know something. We have a President who is so unsure about himself that he must make up information. He lies.

He lies so much that when he is caught and understands it is a lie, he blames it on others.

This man has no moral compass.

So how do we deal with the small lies we hear from people we love and respect?

I don’t know about you, but I will continue to let that person know I recognize what he did.  I will continue to offer a level of privacy….for a time. But if the lies continue, it has to be stopped.

As soon as we as a society get accustom to the level of lying that goes on, it will increase.

Or perhaps, it already has because we let it go. We ourselves lie at times. And when we let it go with people we know, how can we hold people we do not know accountable?  It used to be that a person’s word was what made their reputation. 

It starts with each one of us.  No more embellishing. No more lying by omission. No more painting the picture better than it is.

It means admitting you don’t know. That you need more info. That you need some help.

When I was working my very first job out of college I did not know a lot of what I was doing.  (I suspect many people play act as I did). I tried to carry it off, but I felt there was a big neon sign flashing over my head “fraud”. It took maturity to understand that it is perfectly okay if I do not know something. That level of maturity helped me a lot when I started visiting farms and had no idea of the value or benefits of corn feeding or grass feeding cattle. The rancher was patient and I actually found everyone was patient. They enjoyed talking about something that they knew. And so I learned.

And I also learned that I didn’t need to bullshit any more. 

 

 

 


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Family Ties

Following the Christmas holiday I don’t need to tell YOU that your family is……..well, challenged.  I have one myself. I had an aunt that my mother disliked so much she never talked to her brother but, because of family dynamics, I needed to allow her to sing her warble of some song I didn’t even know at my wedding.  I had another aunt who, in the 1950s got a (whisper here) divorce and all we ever heard was “don’t come running home to us if you have problems with your husband.” Not exactly a helpful life lesson.

So, we all have less than perfect families, and if we are true to form, we don’t do such a great job at parenting. We do what we know, so unless you have sought out a parenting class, you will have a tendency to teach your children in the same dysfunctional way you were raised.

In the interest of changing that here are TEN RULES TO BETTER FAMILY LIFE:

  1. Recognize that the reason you love your friends more than your family is because your friends let you do the shit your mom and dad won’t. That doesn’t mean that shit is good. It still is shit. Your parents literally cleaned up your shit as a baby and into your childhood, but  now it is time for you to realize that your actions have consequences and you really need to accept responsibility. When you grow up, your relationships with the long term people who are on your life path AKA your family, will improve.Illustration by Nate Powell.
  2. Let go of anger. We want to be RIGHT! We want others to know they are WRONG! Let it go. It is not a helpful manner of communication. If you really feel strongly that your little sister or your second cousin is on the road to perdition, sit down calmly, maybe with a cup of lavender tea (ha ha) and ask why they feel their pathway is going to bring them the life they want. LISTEN.  They probably will not come around, but at least you’ll understand better and maybe they will turn to you when they recognize they need to change their ways.being kind
  3. Look in the mirror. Recognize your own flaws. Now praise your skills realistically. Understand that each of us is made of the entire ability spectrum. You and your buddies are not the only ones who can do things right. Even your parents get it right some of the time.looking-in-the-mirror
  4. Learn from others. Yup, even that warbling aunt of mine probably had something worthwhile to share with me……hard for me to imagine but I am remembering her with a child’s memory. If you are an adult, you can go where I was unable to perceive.learning
  5. Look at your children. We watched Home Alone again this Christmas and a few things were obvious to an outsider that the family members did not perceive. Be fair when you think over your kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Don’t have them do what YOU wish you could have done as a kid if they are not interested. Help them develop their own interests. Help them learn to read and research. Your-Kids-Look-up-to-You-for-Guidance
  6. Look at your children again. Help them learn life skills like cooking, sewing buttons and hems, how to wash laundry and iron to press a shirt to make a good appearance,  and how to swim.  A man who expects his wife or girlfriend to do all the cooking does not realize the stress that constant task causes. More importantly, he never sees her face light up in pleasure when he prepares her a nourishing meal. A man who can cook is sexy.LifeSkills-750
  7. Look at your children again. Teach your kids to change their oil and their tires. You may not be that proficient yourself. Learn it together. Your daughters too.  Watch your tendency for sexism. Let your sons and daughters learn they can access the entire array of  arts and skills.Nike-Voices-Feature
  8. Tell stories to your kids. Turn off the television and the electronic gadgets. Have one evening a month (or more) when you gather to share the stories of your childhood. Keep it as upbeat as possible. Your baggage with your parents need not be their baggage.  Tell about adventures you had when you were tested and succeeded. Tell about times you thought you could do something but failed and how you responded to that experience. Let them tell stories too. Use a talking stick to pass the right to talk around the circle. talking stick
  9. Explore together. Food is an excellent vehicle for exploration. Move away from what you know. I remember when we visited England for the first time and I asked for bangers and mash at a pub because I had read about it in numerous British stories,. The server paused and then said, “You know that is nursery food?” In other words, for little kids. That was okay, since it was a new experience for me, but it is not okay for you to turn to mac and cheese every few days. Time to learn new tricks. You are an adult now. You have control over your gag reflex and will not barf into your plate. Really. Taste new things. You need not repeat if you honestly do not like it. But your world will open when you explore the amazing variety of flavors from all over the world. 11646-learning-culture-through-food-mexico
  10. Realize, if you change your ways, your birth family members may make some snarky comments. That’s when you get to practice your smile and say, yeah! I’m doing great and I’m proud of my kids! And mean it.keepgoing


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Maybe a Teenager

Imagine you have a plumbing problem and since you’re the kind of person who can fix that kind of thing, you remove the toilet and then the floor in the hope of getting to the pipe and replacing it. That was Lucciano Faggiano’s goal when he had a toilet problem holding up his dream of opening a trattoria. What happened next was amazing..castle keep interior

When I read this story this morning it reminded me how young the United States is, how short our history, how immature our culture. Maybe a teenager when compared to most other parts of the world civilization.

Who are we to tell people what to do? How can we go into a nation whose culture is so very different from ours that it is almost incomprehensible, and expect to fix it? And when that hasn’t worked numerous times before, why do we keep trying in other places?US-war-graph

Like a teenager with limited experience we keep butting our head against the wall.

Or maybe the people pulling the strings, the power players, want it that way. Whenever the sabers rattle, look at who has to gain. Wars almost always are about expanding markets. Using our young people as fodder, the rich old men get richer. puppet-master

It has always been this way. Pretty sad to think we are in a rut, banging our head against the wall.Again and again and again.

Pretty sad we race around the world to help others when there are people here at home that also are wanting freedom, education, medical help and food. think globally