Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Happy Life and Times of Simple Me: Recipes

The Happy Life and Times of Simple Me: Recipes: Maple Apple Pork 1 pork tenderloin (1-1 1/4 pounds) cut into 8 medallions 3 T corn starch 1 1/2 cups apple juice 1/4 c pure maple syru...

The Happy Life and Times of Simple Me: A Book Report and Satori

The Happy Life and Times of Simple Me: A Book Report and Satori: I recently read a book that I think was meant for me to read at this moment in time.  It's been a long time since I have done a book rep...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Book Report and Satori

I recently read a book that I think was meant for me to read at this moment in time.  It's been a long time since I have done a book report, a dreadful assignment as a youngster, yet I feel compelled to report this read!  Since I am on this path to try to live more simply, this novel spoke to me.  "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. A Book that Changes Lives" by Dan Millman.  There is also a movie made that is very good.  A brief synopsis: a young Dan is an unhappy college student seeking something but he doesn't know what. A wise teacher, Socrates or "Soc" enters his life to show him the way of a peaceful existence.

Soc tries to teach Dan to quiet his mind.  Live in the moment.  He asks him many times, "What time is it?  Where are you?"  The answer should be "it is now, I am here."  I need to remind myself this because my mind is constantly chattering, never shuts up. The moment I awake my to do list is already forming (although it does motivate me to get out of bed).  Sometimes I have multi-tasked so much that I forget the task I started out to do!  But there are a few moments when I can quiet my mind, I will explain later.

Another gem I read is when Dan asked Soc if he thought "rich people are any happier than poor stiffs like us."  His answer "If you have enough money to satisfy your desires, you are rich...or you can cultivate a simple lifestyle of few desires that way you always have more than enough money." Aren't the best times the simple ones?  Laughter, listening to kids sing, watching a silly puppy, seeing God's creation by walking through the woods, and of course running (although thank goodness my hubby can afford my $100 running shoes).

Satori as explained by Soc "A Zen concept...the warrior's state of being; it occurs at the moment with the mind is free of thought, pure awareness the body is active, sensitive, relaxed; and the emotions are open and free." "The final step for the warrior is to expand his clarity into daily life. Then satori will become your reality."  When I read this I immediately thought "that's how I feel after a good run!"  Alas, I found the meaning of the "RUNNER'S HIGH!"

I won't tell much more about the book because it is a wonderful study to read. I will however pass along some Soc and Dan tidbits that may help on life's journey.  "Just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world...there is no problem, never was and never will be.  Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away our concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine."  Thank you Dan Millman for your quiet mind.  Your book surely has changed lives.  I plan on reading more of your thoughts.

Soc kept telling Dan to "open your eyes!"
Are you looking but not seeing?

Dan Millman #quoteA story about a man's journey and can help you with yours. I recommend it to everyone.   Be present - it is the only moment that matters. ~Dan Millman~  Image:  The time is now, the  place is here. stay in  the present. you can  do nothing to change  the past, by Dan Millman #1397

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Feeding the Spirit

OK back to the whole purpose of this blog...the simple things.

Pulling your 4 year old over the ice on a sled.
Finding a new hill to sled on.
Laying face up on the snow.
Listening to 100 geese flying over.
Listening to silence.
Noticing not a cloud in the sky.
Seeing your son be "king of the mountain."
Petting your big Bosco puppy.
Listening to your kitty purr on your lap.
Seeing if the ice is safe to cross.
Watching Sesame Street.
Reading a book.
Making a homemade supper from scratch (with maple syrup as the main ingredient).
Spotting a cardinal in the snow out the window.
A simple blog.

That's what I accomplished today.

What did you accomplish that spoke to your spirit?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vanity of Vanities...All things are Vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2

I really should name my next kid or animal Ecclesiastes.  It's such a cool name and I am sure they would be wise.  That's not the topic of this blog. The topic is me.  Me, me, me.  It's all about I, it's all about me, it's all about number 1... or however the country song goes.  I'll admit, I am vain. I'm so vain that I just KNOW Carly Simon wrote that song about me.  I am becoming increasingly vain since I turned 40 this year (or as my girlfriends say foh-tay).  It's this hair.  I am refusing to go grey.  I have been this way for a few years.  One of my running friends, who isn't much older than me said "girl, you just gotta embrace it!"  She looks fabulous grey.  I just can't do it, yet.  My husband wants me to let nature take its course.  I know, it's vanity

I've always wanted red hair. So, in October I did it. I am not a red head. You have to be born that way.  I found myself looking good in green, a color blondes steer clear of and I couldn't wear red, a color that blondes embrace.  I decided I may as well try it before I let it go all grey.  Mistake, now it's a process to get it back to the dirt blonde I was before. I am in a transitional 'white trash' looking stage.  Good thing it's hat season.  I also decided I should get bangs to hide the wrinkles and receding hair line. Maybe I could pull off the red, but I sure couldn't keep up.  Within 3 weeks grey starts creeping in.  Same when I am blond but it seems to hide it better.  Vanity.

Another vanity of mine: selfies.  I don't like taking them because I usually don't like what I look like.  If I wasn't vain then I would be posting some pretty ridiculous photos.  I definitely would never win most photogenic.  This selfie is of my new hat and scarf my mommy made for me!  I wanted to show the blond hair in hat season.

I joke and say you know you're 40 are plucking chin hairs and fighting wrinkles but still have to borrow your teenager's pimple cream.  Ugh. Running is a great way to keep you young. The only negative thing is it doesn't help with the wrinkles.  My legs are even wrinkling.   All that jarring and sun wreaks havoc on the skin. You see older people who are running, they look great, but not in shorts.  Vanity.

Some things I am not so vain on...I wear make up only on Sundays, special occasions or maybe on Friday, shopping day.  I like (live) in yoga and pj pants.  Jeans are an equivalent to a dress for me.  I may not have embraced grey, but I have embraced my crooked teeth.  My  hair is in a pony tail most days.   My husband met me in peach sweat pants, no make up and a pony tail and that's how he prefers me.  So, I am just making him happy. ;)

My intent in writing this wasn't really about my appearances but as David's son Quheleth says, "all things are vanity."  What's all this really matter?  And boy, now more than ever, is this culture vain. Selfies, status updates, tweeting, blogs.  I have been thinking about writing a blog for about a year.  The questions I struggled with were "am I vain in doing this? is it showing off? are people going to roll their eyes? what does it really matter? how much of my life do I want to share? Do I really need to spending more time on the computer?"  People really have been writing blogs for years. It was called either a journal or diary.  "Nothing is new under the sun" another Qoheleth saying from Ecclisiastes 2:9. I tried writing a journal for about 3 months.  Blogs are just your thoughts out there for everyone to read. 

What can we learn from vanity?  Lots, if you are people person.  I do enjoy learning from others, seeing how they live, appreciating the differences in each unique creature God has made. For those of us that have constant thoughts in our heads, it's a good, positive outlet for creativity.

Are all things really vanity? The introduction to Ecclesiastes in my bible says yes, unless we give thanks to the Creator who has given us all. (The New American Bible) I really think Qoheleth was depressed.  What's all this really matter?  It doesn't really. Nothing is new. We just recreate it in the time and space we are in today.  War is not new, writing is not new, family drama is not new, love and hate are not new, politics are not new, history just repeats itself.  The only thing that is new are inventions and our spin on the world we live in during our lifetime.  To think any different would be vanity.  We are not really that special.  I think the lesson Qohelelth is teaching is humility. 

So my advice, (I am so vain as to think you will take it) that in this social media world we live in be vain, be the unique person you are.  Post your grey hair status', write your blogs, hashtag your thoughts.  But be mindful, be positive, be loving, be giving, be thankful. Use this awesome invention as a way to connect with others to create a world we love, tolerate, embrace each other and help build up the kingdom of God.  Maybe your vanity will touch others in a way that they need, bring a smile to a somewhat depressing day, or help you make a new friend.

One thing I don't get in Carly Simon's song, she says "your so vain you probably think this song is about you" well, isn't it really about him?  So, in my opinion you can be vain, not in an arrogant way, but humbly vain.

Do you think all things are vanity?

Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

1The words of David’s son, Qoheleth, king in Jerusalem:* a
2Vanity of vanities,* says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!b

Vanity of Human Toil

3What profit have we from all the toil
which we toil at under the sun?* c
4One generation departs and another generation comes,
but the world forever stays.
5The sun rises and the sun sets;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
6Shifting south, then north,
back and forth shifts the wind, constantly shifting its course.
7All rivers flow to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they flow,
the rivers continue to flow.
8All things are wearisome,*
too wearisome for words.
The eye is not satisfied by seeing
nor has the ear enough of hearing.d
9What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!e 10Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us.f 11There is no remembrance of past generations;g nor will future generations be remembered by those who come after them.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wonder Woman


Finally, I figured out how to post a picture.

This is a short and sweet blog.

Explanation of my profile pic.

I am not 'Wonder Woman' in the sense that I am a 
strong-save-the-world woman who looks good in bikini briefs. 

 I refer to myself as 'Wonder Woman' because I always 
wonder what the heck I am doing.

This blog's question.  What super hero do you relate to the most?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's Super Duper Cold!!!

It's cold outside. I mean really, really cold. I mean like SUPER DUPER cold.  TV says the temp is -8. We are expected to have -25 to -35 degree wind chills. School is closed. We have 4 inches of snow on the ground.  What fun is a no-school day when you can't go outside and play?  I think I might send my kids outside for 1 minute without coat or shoes so they can appreciate a warm house. I know, I know, that would be borderline cruelty.  I would go out with them.  Some lessons need to be taught.  I did smile last night when my 7 year old son prayed for the homeless.  Something is getting through. 

Don't let all this complaining fool you, I do like winter.  I used to not be a fan. I would only like it on snowy 30 degree days that were perfect for sledding and snowmen. As of the last 3 years, I have come to appreciate it this season.  One reason: maple syrup.  I'll explain later.  I should say I live in Indiana.  I do like the Midwest seasons.  As a kid, I wanted to live along the ocean. If I were to do that now (which I have no desire to) I would have to be in the Northeast.  I love the change of seasons.  I couldn't imagine being all one all the time.  I will admit to spring being my favorite, but if it were spring all the time I would grow bored. Kinda like in CS Lewis' Narnia books, "it's always winter but never Christmas." 

Last winter, I believe the average temp WAS -8 or at least it seemed like it. It was brutal. Of course, it would be the winter I decided to train for my first marathon.  Luckily, I had other crazy runner friends training for marathons too so we all bundled up in our balaclavas and would go out for 12-15-18-20 mile runs.  In our small hometown, we are SO SO SO fortunate to have a beautiful running trail. It's a 10K out and back (6.2 miles).  When finished, it will be a 10K loop.  Unfortunately, there is no snow removal so it was impassable for 2 months. So, we had to find other routes. I live in the country and have a beautiful 4.2 mile run.  On one run, my running partner drove to my house and I had 12, she had 10 to run.  We decided to go out and back as many times as we needed (thank you Garmin for your invention). We had 30-40 mile winds with a gazillion inches of snow already.  I live on a dead end gravel road. Each time we came back, the snow was drifting more and more.  The last loop I said "you really need to go home now, my road is going to drift shut."  I think the entire run we kept saying how crazy we were.  That was just one example.  It was like that all winter. My husband, a totally awesome runner, and two other running buddies ran in a 'Fat Ass' trail race. 7.45 mile loop. We had 14 miles that we needed to do. Decided to run 7 on the road and the rest  on the trail.  Took  a little over an hour to do the first 7 and THREE to do the rest.  It was a foot of snow. We did not run, it was a slow hike. I call that race the "dumb ass" race.  At least they had beer and chicken at the finish.  Last winter, I embraced the brutality. I found I love the cold air on my lungs, the stillness of the land, the only noise is the sound of my breath, when I am finished, total exhilaration.  This year I have a new running buddy, Bosco the dog. Sadly, my other running partner, Francis died last December after 9 years. So, Bosco the big puppy is  a joy to watch pounce in the snow.  This morning I am looking outside and know it would be dangerous to run in the snow and am feeling a little depressed. It is a 'dreadmill' day but still I know when I am done, I will feel better.

Maple syrup.  Our family has the tradition of making maple syrup. My grandpa started in the 50's helping a friend and then built his own sugar shack.  I have many fond child hood memories of riding the tractor, gathering in, eating all day long while the syrup was boiling down.   My grandpa passed away and we stopped making it for about 10 years. The old shack was falling in and the evaporator was in need of repair.  My brother decided to rebuild just down the road and we started it up again  about 3 years ago.  We begin around Valentine's day, just the time you are in deep seasonal depression.  Nothing pulls you out of cabin fever like the prospect of maple hot dogs and sassafras tea boiled in sugar water.  I love tromping through the woods, tapping the trees, carrying in the sap.  I try to get my runner friends to help. You want an excellent cross training exercise?  Try carrying two 5 gallon buckets full of sap while wearing heavy boots on uneven, hilly terrain. All those calories burned are quickly replenished (and then some) when we start boiling down.  Usually takes 8 hours to boil a batch and my mom cooks up plenty of food for us to eat. I try to bring healthy  snacks but it's hard to resist good home cooking.  In our family, we really have 5 seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Maple Season.  I joke  saying the Summers' family blood is really maple syrup. This cold day is a reminder that the veins of the trees are getting a good deep freeze.  Good thing.  I will be happy just snuggling with my kids today and let nature do what she needs to do.  Which reminds me, I need to order jugs.

Snow reminds me of when our Priest sprinkles holy water on us and sings from Psalm 51:9 " Purify me with hyssop O Lord, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Also Isaiah 1:18 comes to mind "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow."   Winter's purpose is to wipe away all the old so that the earth can begin again.  What better analogy than snow to demonstrate God's great mercy for us?  I 'let it snow' each time I go to confession.  I then have the peace like the calm of winter when I exit the confessional know that Jesus has forgiven my sins.

On this Super Duper Cold day, what ways can you embrace winter?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Simple life

I would like to call myself an overachiever, I am really just an over-doer.  I seem to make the simple complicated instead of making the complicated simple.  Today's average family is 2-3 kids, nope not me, had to have 5.  Started running almost 4 years ago, can't just go out and run, have to help form a running club and run every race I can afford, including a marathon.  I will say I totally overachieved when I married my husband. He rocks. One thing I do try to keep a handle on is my volunteer duties. I do say no to some things but still....overdoer or overachiever or overly crazy?  I can't just teach religious education I have to chose First Communion class AND be Director of Religious Ed. Can't just volunteer for a race have to be race director. I can't just put out a few tomato plants, I have to put out 60. I have to pickle, can and freeze everything because dare we let one zucchini go to waste.  Although this year in the mist of winter, I am having deep regrets to not canning enough green beans because the store kind are crap.  I have problems.

My life has been blessed with a wonderful, hard working husband that has a good job so I can stay home and raise our five children.  Four of them are in school and one is in his last year at home with mama until he starts kindergarten (starting to get a little antsy about this). Of course, I am busy, but a challenge I have is what to do with my time. I am the master of it. My daily prayer of lately is "lord, help me make good use of my time."  I find myself too long on the computer instead of mopping the floor or whatever task needs to be done.  My mind runs a mile a minute of all the duties I have and the next thing that needs to be marked off the list like keeping a clean house, doing the laundry, exercising, planning meals, shopping, volunteer duties, spending time with my children and poor neglected husband...the list goes on.  Busy, busy, busy.  Now, I start a blog. Probably not a good use of my time...

So as this new year starts I am committing to one new year resolution: recycle cardboard.  This,  because it is simple. I am at my best when life is simple, as we all probably are. Spending time outside, reading a book, laughing at my 4 yr old when you look over and see he is sucking the ketchup straight out of the leftover McDonald's packet that has been in the fridge for 3 months (just happened), talking with my husband,  making maple syrup with my family, running...I am living in the moment.  I also resolved to live life  more simply. Even when designing this blog I looked forever at all the different layouts and finally decided I was wasting my time and went with the 'simple' format.

This blog was just interrupted so that my son and I could make snow ice cream.  I made maple snow and he invented his own recipe with honey, milk and sugar. It is the simple things...And interrupted again for the dire need to make kool-aid for supper even though it's only 3:00.

What kind of life is it if we are to busy to live? I do hope to blog at least once a week and end each blog with a question for the reader. If anyone choses to follow this blog! Ah well, if I don't get any readers, I simply don't care. I am simply enjoying an outlet for my thoughts.  I am also simply overusing the word simple. :) This blog's question is obvious.  What are you doing to make your life simple?

Live Simply - Paulo Coelho - FREE PRINTABLE