...random thoughts, opinions and secrets on children... aging... cooking... crafts... nature...divorce...second chances...
and whatever else I deem curious...
~Copyright 2017. Hootie~

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Practicing Mindfulness

I've been missing my mom these days...and my dad, and Winston, too.  

As the weather is getting nicer, I find I am wanting to wander in the woods, but that makes me feel extremely untethered. I don't want another dog right now, but I miss my hiking buddy.  I am working on learning to be comfortable in my untethered feelings, to enjoy my alone time, and on being mindful.  My alone time is not necessarily a good thing.  Certain tasks allow more time to ponder life.  Alone... I clean my house, and I think.  Alone... I mow my yard, and I think.  Maybe the reason I enjoy music so much is because it distracts my brain.  I am a thinker, but thinking when one is so alone can be dangerous.  My brain is still asking old questions and trying to rationalize what happened: How did I got to this point in life?  Why did things happen as they did?  Maybe if I... Maybe if this... Am I destined to be alone forever?  What if this is as good as it gets?  What if this is all I get?  What if I had my chance?  What if no one wants me? What if I'm too much for someone else to handle?  I know I am smart, strong spirited, capable, a problem solver, and generally, I have a happy heart.  I know I am empathetic, and kind.  A part of what brings me joy is my need to give back.  

So, what's wrong with me???  

I realize that's not the right question to be asking.  NOTHING is wrong with me. I remind myself that I spent almost 30 years trying to make everything in life perfect.  When things didn't go the way they were supposed to, I took the blame.  Whether it was my fault or not. Emotionally, I'm in limbo. I KNOW what I should be doing, but I don't know how to get to the next point.  I am learning to be intentional in my thoughts; to be mindful.  This is my plan B. When I start to feel down, I allow myself to feel the heaviness in my heart for just a few minutes, and then I breathe a few deep breaths.  I consciously think, 'why am I thinking these thoughts right now? I can't change how things are, but I can change my thoughts.' I try to identify my trigger, then, I acknowledge, right this moment, something that brings me joy.  I think about those things for which I am grateful.  It doesn't have to be something big.  It could be simple things like the tea I'm sipping, or Toulouse or Berlioz, or the smell of lilacs, as the scent wafts inside my house through my opened windows.  It could be as simple as my flowered bed sheets  or something funny that happened at school.  This is a conscious effort that takes practice.  

I have disliked weekends for a long time now.  I have a to-do list for school and one for home.  Both are extensive, so it isn't hard to work myself to exhaustion.  However, I know that in order to heal, I need to make, and take, time for myself.  I am working on finding balance.  This past Friday night, I stayed after school until about 7, even though I know I will be going back on Sunday to finish planning out my week.  Was I avoiding going home to an empty house?  Yes.  As I pulled into my neighborhood I could feel the loneliness creeping into my mood.  I'll be honest.  There are times when I think, maybe I should just have a few drinks, numb the pain, block out the loneliness.  Except, that isn't me. I am responsible.  Damn it!  

One time, about a year ago...I grabbed the bottle of Marker's Mark from my cabinet when I got home. I sent a text to one of my friends and my sister, knowing full well that my sister was busy.  "Here's what I'm doing...," I said.  My friend responded almost immediately, he's been through a divorce. He understands my pain.  He has healed, and is in his second marriage.  "Three shots only," he told me. I had to promise to put the bottle away.  I kept my promise.  It helped in the moment, but it didn't really help.  Also, I know it is unfair of me to put my burdens on others.  It doesn't matter if my sister, or my friends tell me they don't mind, it is not right.  I am reminded that life is not fair, but life is beautiful.  In order to see the beauty, we need to be proactive and live in the moment. So, plan B.  

Friday night, I knew I was starting to feel the weight of my untethered-ness. I allowed myself to acknowledge my feelings. I even allowed a few tears. Crying is a good way to release.   Tears released, I asked myself, why am I feeling like this?  Answer:  It's the weekend, and it's a holiday.  I don't have enough time to travel to be with my siblings and get done what I need over this weekend, so I will be alone.  I am also on my self-imposed sabbatical from church, and I don't want to attend another church on Easter, especially by myself.  So, no family and no church.  Deep breaths, and center.  I focused my thoughts on what I was grateful about at that very moment.  I was grateful that I had a house to come home to.  I was grateful that I had a bed to lay on, and kittens who are happy to see me. My kitties nuzzled my nose. My mood was shifting.  Earlier in the day, one of my cousins on my dad's side, had asked a bunch of us if anyone had a certain family recipe.  I did, but I was at school when she asked.  Remembering this request, I got off my bed, and I found that recipe.
circa 1963
I shared it with my cousins.  "Look!," I said, "bonus recipe, Pigs Feet!"  (Bleh!!!!) Our parents certainly grew up in a very different time.  

I thought about having a drink, but I came up with a different game plan.  What if I baked the blues away???  I went to the store and I picked up the ingredients to make Easter Cheese, plus a few other things.  I came home and went to work in my kitchen.  I turned on some blues...jazz blues and started creating. 
My Easter Cheese draining.  

First, I made the Easter Cheese.  As kids, my brother and I called it Egg Cheese.  Looking at the ingredient list, Egg Cheese makes sense. 


Over ripe bananas were on my counter...which lead to banana bread being baked.  I also whipped together some basil pesto.  I'll be making focaccia bread to go with the basil pesto and cheese tortellinis.  Fresh bread out of the oven cannot be topped!  

Another thing I know to be true about myself is that I am capable in the kitchen.  I love having a reason to cook and share my culinary talents with others.  

I wasn't planning on getting out Easter decorations, and then my sister unintentionally tore at my heart strings.  She started sending pictures of the decorations she had out. She was sharing decorations that our mom had made.  Crumbs.  Up to my attic I went.  I got out the bare minimum...only treasures crafted by our mother's hand...plus two critters she loved.  

Ceramic treasures created with love.  

I do miss my parents.  Having little treasures like these ceramic bunnies and eggs to pull out help remind me of the care my mom showed in all she did. I am very much like my mom.  Having the hand-written recipes above, remind me of previous generations.  As I read the Pigs Feet recipe, I recalled family members actually eating and enjoying these.  Uck!  It speaks volumes though about what they had or didn't have.  It also emphasized to me how resourceful our prior generations were.  Waste not, want not.

My dad would have celebrated his 84th birthday a few days ago, and my mom would have been 75 this year.  I feel their presence in my home, and in my heart.  

~Lisa Kroll

After my morning edits, I must add these Sunday notes: 

Before I went to write last night, my daughter called.  My kids wanted to use my house to share a movie with their friends.  They wanted to show their movie outdoors!  My house is, and always will be, my children's home.  When I returned from writing, I found my carport had been transformed into a drive-in theatre. Food was grilled, beer bottles opened, the porch swing was moved from out back, and camp chairs were scattered about.  Time for the movie.  

Before I had gone to bed, my kids asked if we could share the late morning today.  My heart smiled. When I woke this morning, I found one child and her bf asleep on the porch swing (it folds down into a bed). I made my way back into my kitchen.  Soon, the smells of coffee and cinnamon scones drifted out into the carport.  Banana bread and Easter Cheese were available, too. My son soon joined us and we had the perfect Easter breakfast.  
Cinnamon Scones

Easter Cheese...with salt

Happy Easter to all.  
God is great, and he has risen indeed!  
I am consciously mindful of how blessed my life really is these days.  

Sunday, April 09, 2017

What brings me joy...

birds singing
finding morels 
spring peepers croaking
deer romping through the woods
blossoms and leaves budding on trees
the color of spring wildflowers 
against the gray-brown ground
white clouds
blue skies

cats and dogs
wild grape vines
 the moon and the stars
turtles, snakes and owls
dark chocolate with a sprinkle of salt
red wine: a Malbec or Shiraz
meaningful conversations
holding hands

witnessing love
vistas at National Parks 
the sunrise each morning
sunsets at the ocean
romantic comedies 
captivating novels
playing games

walks on the beach
hiking in the woods
butterflies and fireflies
 tall green grass with dandelions
fresh air and windows open as I sleep
sea shells and snowflakes
salt lamps and diffusers
music and art

                                                               ~Lisa Kroll