Monthly Archives: January 2013

Here. This Moment.

We are a culture that is on the search always.  For happiness and joy.  We look forward to going. Going. Going.   Not so much now as in the past, I longed to go on vacation. Where can we go that is going to give us that ultimate rush? That ultimate breathtaking view that is going to send me swooning.  For some it is the beach.

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For some of us, it’s the mountains.

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For some of us, it is cruising on the Caribbean.  And for others, it is riding the roller coaster at Cedar Point.   Regardless of what trips our  trigger, we are in search of the next thing that is going to trigger the quintessential experience.

Some people have “bucket lists”.  The list of places and events that will make  our personal world all the better.

All of these things are wonderful things to experience.  But, if we can not find joy and happiness in the sullied days of our lives, then those beautiful sites will not doing anything for us either.

Temporal is not going to cut it for me.  It is short-lived and disappointing.  Been there.  The reality does not match up to the expectation.  Or returning to reality is a disappointment.  I want everlasting, ever-lovin’ joy.

I am learning that it is impossible to stay in the moment while I am looking forward.  One question I ask myself while I am highly anticipating that moment that  will take my breath away:  What is going to happen to me at that  moment that is not happening to me right now?  How is seeing or doing that “thing”  going to make me a happier person?  It might give me a thrill for a minute but I still  have to walk away with that same person that took me there.  ME.

Our daily life can be blessed with joy and happiness if we can just sit  in it and see the beauty around us.  The ordinary.

Our ordinary is such a miracle by itself that it DOES compare to the majestic beauty of a snow-capped mountain.

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Our animals take such pleasure in just living and taking in all that abounds.   Can I do that?  Can I see the beauty in washing the dishes?  Pops does it most of the time.  I SEE the beauty in that.   Cooking dinner?  Making beds?  I love what a room likes when the bed is made.  Sometimes I will make the bed to get in it.   Can these things compare to a Hawaiian beach?

When I choose to see God in the ordinary, (which is exactly where He is with us),  joy can be found.   Since the day that I decided to look for Him in my ordinary, I found Him, and joy was the gift that He gave me.   As long as I know where to find Him, I find I really don’t have to take a joy ride anywhere.   We have a wonderful friend who had a very spiritual heart who passed away several years ago.  Always, he would say, “I got all I need right here.”  He was magnificently content even through his terminal illness.   “I got all I need right here.”  He would pat his heart softly.   The man got it.

Author, Ann Voskamp writes, “The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now. ”

I say Amen to that.  That place is spectacular.

Happy travels.

God bless,

Karen

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A Lesson From Someone Who Has Been There

Take in this scenario and try to imagine your feet standing in these shoes:

You are born by two parents who have no qualms about telling you they don’t want you.  They neglect and take advantage of you by getting you drunk and high by the age of 7.  They are never there to tend to your needs at home.  They use you as a ticket to get in places they do not belong.  You develop drug and alcohol dependency by the age of 12 and enter into rehab twice by the time you are 14.

Enough?

This is the life of Drew Barrymore.  I saw an interview last night that I am still thinking about.   I have always known who she is but have not really given her a second thought.   What I know of her is that she might be a little flighty,   is nice enough and has had some hard knocks.   For those of you who do not know who she is, she became famous in the movie ET in the 80’s.

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Photo from interview

Photo from interview

Seems normal enough. huh?  Is going to court at the age of 15 to get “emancipated” from your parents normal?   The courts granted that freedom.  She no longer had to be the daughter of these people.  She always knew from day one that it was she that was going to have to care for herself.  That is tough business.

Whew.

What I am so bowled over by, is what she did with that history of abuse and neglect.   Most of us are not too different from she.  While I never was taken to Studio 54 at age 7 as a ticket to get my mom in, I was left at Glendale shopping center for 3 hours after my mom said she would pick my up.  I was 20 years old when that occurred.  She just forgot me.  Oh, and my Mom and Dad went to New York during my 10th Birthday.  Ugh.

But seriously, we  all have wounds. Wounds. Wounds.  Some of us are aware of them.  Some of us choose not to be.  But those wounds mold us if we allow them to.   It makes us who we are.   Or aren’t.

If  I allow myself to live with the wounds, then I become one, some or all of the following:  sad, lonely, self-loathing, cynical, brash, angry, fearful of many things, isolated, depressed,  self loathing,  cheated, slighted, etc.   It WILL take shape  because we have been hurt and we will protect ourselves at all costs.

If I choose to face my wounds, I can be free of all that.    How do I do that?  In most cases, mine included, it usually involves outside help.  An objective perspective.   It often takes the help of an outsider to help us even recognize the wounds.  They are sometimes so ingrained and part of our fiber that we think that it is normal.   Something is wrong if we are the things mentioned above on a regular basis.  Of course it takes heavy-duty strength to move our pride aside to admit that we are  any one  of those things.  Cynical. Who moi?  No way.  It is a process whereby we admit.  Then accept.  Then take action.

Drew Barrymore, I am sure, has had her share of outside help.  She chooses to not go that route of being emotionally tortured inside.   She chooses freedom.  YEAH.  I heartily applaud her.

She has admitted  the problem.  She accepted that problem.  Now she is  choosing not to spend her life blaming and finger-pointing and being angry.   She is taking action to choose a life rich and happy.  She just first had to come to grips and understand how she got to the place she is and then moves on to a road of freedom.

WE HAVE THE POWER.  To live life joyfully.  WE HAVE THE POWER.  To change ourselves.  NOBODY CAN MAKE US BE THE WAY WE ARE.   

We have the power.

You have the power.

Oh, and by the way, God plays a major part in healing.  Just ask Him.  In this case, He’ll say,”Yep, she’s right on this one.”

Sunny days ahead.

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God bless,

Karen

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Granola. Friend or Foe?

5 Degrees?  BRRRRRR.  Our little hens are cozy under their heat lamp.

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Precious they are.  Just love them.

Granola. is. awesome.  It is nearly impossible for me to keep my paw paws out of it.  And I think it can be very confusing because while it all looks the same, sadly, it is not.

The differences are in the type of fats used.  The quality of ingredients.  The amount and type of sweetener.   And whether the seeds and nuts are prepared properly for the best digestion.  It can be trash.

The following recipe  is wonderful.  I sprouted the seeds which will aid in digestion.  You don’t have to.   The original recipe called for 1/2 of Brown sugar and 3/4 cup of Pure Maple Syrup.  I used much less and it tastes great.

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KAREN’S GRANOLA

Ha.  A recipe named after moi?  I’m the boss, so yeah.  A recipe named after me.

Preheat oven 300 degrees

3 cups of Old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup sprouted sunflower seeds

1 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup coconut unsweetened

1 cup soaked and dried cashews

1/2 cup soaked and dried walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup  (Don’t know if I have to capitalize this but it deserves it.) Add more if you must but you really don’t need it.

1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt (or more)

You can add anything else you may like, but do me a favor, and make sure it is organic and unrefined.  Thant means NO SUGAR!

Mix all the ingredients.  Spread out on 2 cookie sheets with sides.  Cook for about 50 minutes stirring every 15 minutes.  There is  outstanding granola out  in that there world.  I figured it was high time I figured it out.

Stay warm.

God bless,

Karen

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Are We Feeding Our Chronic Ailment?

Just a  quick note on flu shots before I step into my post today.  What do you actually know about the flu shot?   I encourage you to learn what a flu shot is and does/doesn’t do  so  you can make an informed decision.   I have attached a short article about flu shots for you enjoyment.  At the very least just scan the 11 reasons.  In all matters concerning your health, be informed.

http://goodworkswellness.com/why-i-refuse-to-get-a-flu-shot/

Ok.. Hello.  About 7 years ago I realized that my chronic sinus headaches were a result of me eating wheat.  Who woulda thunk?  I think that we associate food sensitivities to gastric/digestion problems.

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Removing wheat from my diet made huge improvements in my overall well-being for a time.  The following year, I discovered that my respiratory infection symptoms were a direct result of ingesting dairy.

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 I LOVE milk and bread.

There lies the problem. 

Fast forward 7 years.  I have been sailing along pretty well and very healthy.   When I eat those two things, I am ok if I just dabble one time but if I dabble over and over in the course of  a couple of days,  the symptoms return.

This past year I have gotten on a nut butter kick.  Every morning I whip up nut butter in our coffee grinder.  I even upgraded our grinder to a sorta commercial model. I was ALL ABOUT THE NUT BUTTER.   I have been buying large quantities of raw organic nuts.  I soak them for 24 hours and then dry them in the oven for a few days.  Man, they taste 100 times better than what you get at the store.  By soaking them, you release enzyme inhibitors that otherwise would inhibit digestion and the flavor is greatly enhanced.

  I grind pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.  and spread it everyday on an apple.  DELICIOUS.  I cannot even tell you.  It made me jump out of bed in the morning.  Christmas morning, every morning.

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About 6 months ago I started having excruciating pain in my neck, lower back, hips and knees.  If I had been sitting for any length of time it was unbearable standing up.  It was hard to turn over in bed at night.  I am positive that 90 year olds were more mobile than me.    My body had seized up.

 I recently went to the doctor to find out  how I could go from absolutely normal to almost crippled in 6 months.  It felt as if a virus or a bacteria (are those one in the same?? I have no idea) had settled into my bones and joints.

We did some blood tests.  I left the doctor’s office and when I got in my car it occurred to me that maybe it was the nuts I was eating.  So I took time off from my Christmas mornings.  Guess what?  Within 3 days, I had no symptoms.  That was a month ago and I am completely normal for an aging old hag.

A couple of things……

I read that if we find we are sensitive to a food, it is common to become sensitive to more foods as time goes.  ugh.

I am learning  that we can avoid becoming sensitive to foods if we aren’t pounding them every chance we get.  Like I do.   I think the reason so many people become sensitive to wheat/gluten is that they are eating it at every meal.  You could probably say that about dairy too.

There is something to say about the old-time people who ate what was in season, and did not, when it was not, therefore,  they were never eating any one food more than a season in the course of a year.   Huh.  Suppose that makes sense?

If you are suffering from a chronic something or other, it is very possible it is food.  Each food that I have grown sensitive to has its own cute little symptom to go with it.  And all of the symptoms would appear to have nothing to do with food.

The key is to incorporate  a large variety  of food into our  diet.  If I enjoy nut butter, enjoy it once a week not everyday.   I read that it is best to not eat any one kind of food more often than every 3 or 4 days.   ok.  I think I got it.

Please, investigate this if you are experiencing chronic symptoms.  It could be a simple answer using no chemical medicines.

Have a good Thursday.

God bless,

Karen

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We The People.

Over and over, in the past few weeks, I have either been a  part of  conversations about community or an eaves dropper of a conversation.

When I was little, in my head, I thought a community was a church basement filled with women in skirts, and children running around.  Asbestos tiled floors.  Fluorescent lighting.  I don’t see the men in my mind. I am fairly confident they were around.  A buffet displayed by the people.  Foil covered dishes filled with different homemade casseroles and delectables.

I was always on the outside looking in.  Always.  Always.  We, as a family, didn’t participate in many events like this.  In fact, I don’t remember  attending a single event with my family that included the near by community.

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I did not participate in sports when I was little or bigger.  I did not experience community there.  Maybe I was locked in a closet then, but I didn’t know they really existed.  Kickball.  I remember that.  If you are older than 50 and female….  Did you play a sport?

Anywhoooo.  I am thinkin’ community is important.  I’m guessing that community might be an integral part in the success of this whole plan.   Are we suppose to lean on, share, draw from one another?  Use each other?  Learn from each other?  Heal each other?  Have fun with each other? Come together for common causes?

For most of my life I have not understood.  It is becoming clear.  God has a serious plan and it is not just about He and I.  Even though, I would really like that.  I like my little thing I got goin’ with Him.  I forget that the people to the left and the right of me are His also.  He loves them too.  Oh I get it.  I am supposed to include them too.  Ah.  Darn.  Really?  How ’bout the guy who believes the opposite of me.  Him too, huh?  Huh.    And the gal down the way there, that looks at me like I’m nuts?  Her too?  Hmmm.

I am by nature and/or experience somewhat of a loner.   I  think it is a combination of liking solitude, and lacking  experience in community.    It never ceases to amaze me how much our little childhood experiences fiercely affect our adult lives.

So, what am I learning about community now that I am more aware of them and my part(or lack there of)?  I am learning that I want to be a part .

I am learning that the members have to be actively participating in the community using care, kindness and patience in order for it to be a healthy, vibrant group.

It is extremely easy for me to withdraw from this desire.  Because I don’t know how.   But I am trying to put my left foot in.  Next, I will put my right foot in.  Next thing you know, I’ll be shaking all about.

Then helllooooo,  Community.

Karen has arrived.

Someday.

You sure I can’t just join the community of chickens?  I love their conversation.  They make me laugh out loud.  I have to remind myself that people make me laugh too. And that I like being with them.

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Chicken Community

Or the doggie community?

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I can snarf around with the best of them.

I love people.  I am just afraid.

P.S.  I penned this post last night.  This morning we attended Mass in our  little church in our cute little village.  Fr. Eric, our priest, was giving his last Mass at our church as he moves on to a new parish elsewhere.  The sermon was about community.   He cried through the homily.  We all cried.  It was profoundly moving.  Our tears tasted of love, togetherness and community.

God bless,

Karen

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A Hoosier Salute

My son attended a high school that was born in 2004.  Blessed Theodore Guerin High School.  Two years after it opened, Blessed Theodore Guerin was canonized a saint in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica thus changing it to St. Theodore Guerin High School.  Many students, parents, and staff went to Rome to celebrate that miracle.  Two students had the privilege of processing in with Pope Benedict, one carrying his staff.  The chance for any of us to participate in the canonization of a saint, or to be closely connected to one becoming a saint is about ten million to one or more.

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Theodore Guerin was born in 1798 in France.  In 1839, years after she had entered the religious life, she was summoned to the United States to form a community that educated, provide religious instruction and assist the ailing.  She was excited and willing.  She made the journey over the pond with five of her Sister compadres.

They found themselves dumped into a dense forest outside of Terre Haute, Indiana with desolation abounding for miles.  I am thinkin’ that is not what they had envisioned.   They persevered.  I love that.  I would have gone home.  Without going into details, St. Mary of the Woods college was born and today is a sacred place for the education of women .

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My good friend  who graced me with her presence (waving her stunning St. Mary of the Woods ring around me as usual) over the holidays brought me the 2013  St. Mary of the Woods Calendar with wonderful quotes from Theodore giving  her impression of Indiana in those early days of , what I would think, tremendous challenge.  By the way, I want to take online courses so that I, too,  one day  can wear one of those rings.   So cool.  There is something about this place, that I have never visited, that calls out to me.  I know that there is a big part of me that would like to be a nun and I know they have them there.  And then there is the ring,  of course.  And my dear friend who I look up to because she had the privilege of going to St. Mary of the Woods.   And my son went to  St. Theodore Guerin which was probably the most incredible experience that our family encountered.   And she, herself,  says that any one of us could be a saint.  I know that is a little lofty of me to think I can  be one.  But, it would be pretty cool, wouldn’t you say?   I want to be touched by this woman.

So, what did she say, back then,  about our Hoosierland?

She said:

“The beauty of the forests of Indiana in the rich and lovely month of May surpasses all description.  The rivers, swollen by the rains, flow through long lanes of verdure, caressing the islands they seem to carry with them in their course and which look like floating nosegays.  The trees raise their straight trunks to the height of more than a hundred and twenty feet and are crowned with tops of admirable beauty.  The magnolia, the dogwood, the catalpa covered with white flowers, the perfumed snow of the springtime, intermingle with the delicate green of the other trees.”

Uh, yes.  This still exists.

“….each excursion we discover something marvelous, beautiful, and useful..At each step we can admire the grandeur, the power, the goodness of God…..I love our woods and solitude very much.”

Amen to that.

She says, ” We have much to suffer from the climate.  It is so changeable that in one day we sometimes experience extremes both of heat and cold.  For three or four weeks the heat has been suffocating….When there is no breeze at all, one can scarcely breathe. …..At St. Mary’s it has rained only once since the last days of April (written in July)…..It is surprising that the trees, and even the corn, etc.  remain fresh looking in such a drought.  This is owing, unquestionably to the heavy dew which falls every night. ”

Sound familiar?

“This land was no longer for me the land of exile; it was the portion of my inheritance, and in it I hope to dwell all the days of my life.”

Yeah, me too.

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“What have we to do in order to be saints?  Nothing extraordinary; nothing more than what we do every day.  Only do it for his love.

My goal.  Lofty.  Unattainable.  Nonetheless.

St. Karen.  You likey?

St. Karen.  Attractive, ain’t she?

God bless,

Karen

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What Now, Brown Cow?

Happy New Year!

It became ver clear to me early on in this season that blogging was going to have to be place aside.  I just remembered yesterday that I had a Christmas stick sitting in my living room and gunk sitting on all my tables that really shouldn’t be sitting there anymore.  I think I have mentioned more than once that I am just coming around to the idea of this season, but I don’t know if I will ever understand the idea of redecorating my house for two weeks and then undecorating my house.  I like my 50 week things better than my 2 week things. It always makes me feel resentful that I have to put away stuff that I like.  I love putting up my manger scene and Christmas in the city that my kids gave me over the course of 25 years, which is stunning.  I want to live in that city.

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The church reminds me of the tuppins song on Mary Poppins.  I even have a lady outside the church with her bird cages.  The whole city is a reflection of all  the childhood Christmas’ of my boys.  They were so excited for me to open up the piece they carefully selected for me.

So, that’s all over now.  Whew.  Not the childhood thing.  The Christmas stuff on my tables thing.

I do like to reflect as a new year begins.  But I also know that God gives us the opportunity to “begin again” each and every day.  Or really each and every moment.  I can make the decision each moment to make the next moment  different.  For the better, I hope.  Sometimes I start  wasting away my new years  resolution and think, oh well,  I will just start again in the new year.  It may be March when I say that.   Ooooookkkkkkk.  What happens between March and December?  The license to ignore my responsibility to myself, others and God?   Now, that’s what I call rational thinking.

I don’t believe making resolutions about weight loss, quitting a vice, exercising are bad things.  Or silly.  For me, my health is really important.  I can not perform the mission He has for me here if I am not taking good care.  He has intstilled in us gifts, skills, and talents that He expects us to take out into the world to share with others.  And to inspire each other to grow.  And to help us all grow closer to Him.  I like that.  I want to be a part of that.  I want to be part of solutions rather than be part of  problems.  In order to do that I must feel good enough to get my lazy rear out of bed in the morning.

But… the one thing that has become so very clear to me is I cannot make those resolutions without asking God to help me.  In my experience, when I have resolved to do something and I have not included Him in my plan, it is like blowing smoke into thin air.  That was the first 40 years of my life.  Man, my wheels were spinning.  Yeah, I was getting things accomplished, but was I growing?  Was I getting rich (figuratively)?  Was I getting HAPPIER?  Was I changing for the better, or was it always status quo?  I hear a collective NO.  I think we are here to get better  and better and BETTER AND……  I grew tired of myself.   We like when we are impressed by  others, right?  How ’bout gettin’ impressed with ourselves….but then give the credit to God.  Cause without him, well…..

When I was 40, I knew I needed to change for the better.  I needed to put down  alcohol.  I had tried for years.  Like 25.   It was new years.  I made a resolution.  The difference from years past?  I asked God for help.  It worked.  I haven’t drank, drunk, drinked alcohol for 12 years, Jan 7.    SOO glad.  So,  the next year rolled around.  I was a smoker.  I thought, “Wow, that was cool.  I think I’ll try this again.”  I haven’t smoked for 11 years, Jan. 7.  His presence became so evident to me because when I asked for help, He was there.  When I didn’t, He was not.  A relationship ensued and I haven’t looked back.

My whole point is,  we can make resolutions,  as many as we may try,  but bottom line we cannot sustain them without Him.  My story has such a before and after evidence of proof,  that in my life, I do not doubt and will not doubt.  Since I invited that Divine Power in my life, my life has been full to the brim with joy and my heart full.  For 12 years, this coming January 7th.

I am in love.

New Year's Day Sunset. A new beginning.

New Year’s Day Sunset. A new beginning.

God bless,

Karen

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