Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Grace in Small Things on Blogger!

I took the challenge presented by Schmutzie Pickles to take time to acknowledge the goodness and graces I experience daily at Grace in Small Things on Ning network. I began the GiST challenge last June to record 5 graces each day. If I followed the plan, I would have a record of 365 days of graces in a year.

We are now in February, as you know, and I haven't made half of the records to date as intended. Do we have to hit the magic number in a year? Can we take as long as we'd like? Will you get kicked off or looked on as a slacker if you fail to keep up the posts? Well I don't think so. Well I didn't pose the questions to the authorities, but judging from what I see on the site it seems safe to say no. You wouldn't get the boot, and that is a good thing.

The community is a loving caring and understanding group who knows what life is and can be. The slogan for the network is.... "because life is hard and love is large." "Grace in Small Things exists because we are choosing not to allow the noisiness of life to rob us of the time and energy to be mindful of ourselves and those we love and to recognize the grace that exists in small things."

I really like it there! I've made some friends who's touched me beyond the Internet. That is something to be grateful for. So with this long introduction, I want to say that I will be adding my daily Grace in Small Things posts on Blogger as well. Given my track record, I might not be the best example of the membership but you know what? I will take this step in faith. Life's road map and journey is never straight or exactly how you plan it. This is not an excuse, it's a reality so we make the adjustments and go on. ..... when life gives you lemon you make lemonade .........?!

As you will see from the post I've been away for a while. I trust that I will get and stay current. This post is longer tham what you will see on a regular basis as I am making a re-entry, again. I want to fill my friends in on my absence etc. You will most likely see the 5 graces in a list. If you haven't joined the community yet, go check it out. You will like what you see.

Grace in Small Things
So here goes my GiST # 115
So many graces so little time! I am grateful for the thoughts and prayers and friendships from the GiST community. My MIL was laid to rest with pride and was shared with so many people. We believe she will be among the angels that will continue to do Gods work.

I am so far behind in recording my graces and I am afraid that my 365 day record will be way extended beyond the calendar year from when I started. I was happy to accept the challenge and thought I was prepared to carry it through within the time frame. Unfortunately life got in the way. I thought I would get back on track last week. That was my plan on Thursday but guess what? I got sick. Out of work sick. Laid up couldn't do much sick. I felt better from the previous issue but got a case of stomach virus last week. It knocked me out for the week.

I am grateful however to have this community and challenge to remind me to be contemplative and deliberate in acknowledgment and sharing of the goodness and blessings in my life. I know that at times the record is simple and perhaps reactionary but it gives me cause to reflect and plan to take note and appreciate graces. So I think I am on the way back. Back to the daily post of the graces I will recall. I will also look up and visit my friends and enjoy their reflections and learn from their messages. I will also look to make new friends and also find joy and beauty in their messages as well.

For today, I am grateful for:
1. GiST and all that it stands for and mean to me.
2. Thankful for recovered health
3. Enjoyed a ride with my boy to visit my mother
4. A nice and playful conversation with my daughters
5. Goodness and joy of spending time with mom.

Elaine, you are very special! Thank you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

2010 AFC Champion Colts!

Ok, well a bit delayed, but we all know that the C-O-L-T-S, Cots, Colts, Colts captured the championship. Wooohooooo, Colts! So the next big game is coming and I am working on my chant. I am not getting into football here. I just want to acknowledge the fact that experience, talent and skill will give the edge over raw guts, talent and skill. We have to give room for the big E, experience, especially when coupled with skill and talent. It will yield good results.

Now I have to give credit to the Jets because they believed. They believed in their coach and their team mates and their ability to win the game. It is good to have such motivation because it can yield big gains as well. This game however went to the bigger talent, skill and experience....knowing how, what to do and remembering what it takes to get the win, putting it into play, gave them the edge.

So the Vikings didn't make it and they had some the attributes I've mentioned. The difference there is in Brett loosing focus and making big mistakes. Even with experience, making mistakes will get you not where you want to be. I would've loved that match up.

Ok COLTS! go on and do your thing! You've been there and done that! Lets do it again baby!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jets or Colts? Anyman's Guess At This Time

My Voice and my Money is on the Colts

Ok so who are you rooting for today? The youth or the experience? The Colts and the Jets will play to determine the AFC championship. What's your pick?
The Green or the Blue
The record?
The coaching staffs?
The motivation or the favorites?

I like green like the next man, especially if green is money. I have to say that experience, history and belonging goes further than youth and inexperience. Knowing that you belong with the greats gets the resilience factor into play. I have to also say that the youth might have the heart and the will to give it everything without the jading of knowledge and experience but I'm still staying with the ole guys.

I like the Jets because I would like to know that my kids gets the break they deserve because of their ability and skill. Give him his due, Sanchez is doing a bang up job. You go boy!! I truly believe however that experience, history and skill will chump the newbie. Of course on any given Sunday it's any man's game... but on this day, I'm going Colts all the way.

Go Payte!!!!!!! C-O-L-T-S, Colts, Colts, Colts!!!!!

I love football games!
Hmmmmmmmmm..... Vikings and the Saints???? What do you think?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Greatness Through Service - A Call From Dr. Martin Luther King

Happy Birthday Dr. King.
Thank you for the many lessons, examples, words of wisdom and truths for us to live by.

He encourages us to be of service to others so that we can be great. Greatness he says is achieved through love and service to others.

As we look at our nation in economic crisis, our world with wars, natural disasters and other injustice and ills, our neighbors and our selves, we see and know that we must open our hearts and minds, our wallets and pray so that we can continue to enjoy our lives, our freedoms and grace.

As I looked around and thought about a statement to express my gratitude to Dr. King and his works, I think Dr King's Drum Major Instincts sermon at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church on February 4, 1968, is fitting. It gives us guidance to rise up and take action.
Dr. King spoke to the congregation to love one another and to serve each other as the good book taught us. Through service to others we will achieve greatness and make this world a better place, he said.
"Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, (Yes) not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world."

I hope you will heed this call or continue your service and greatness.

Happy Birthday Dr. King.

Thank you for your love and your service!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How Do You Say Goodbye to Someone You Love, or Can you?

The funeral mass for my Mother-in-Law yesterday was comforting. Comforting you might ask. Yes, it was. There is a long explanation for this but I will skip it right now. We were comforted in remembering what a God fearing, loving and kind person she was. Although we were sad, every one recognized that she was a very special gift to all who knew her and we were blessed to call her ours. She is incredibly missed.

As we rode back home I reflected on the event, the commentaries and interactions of the day, my memories and the people present at the event. I reflected on her and our relationship and my feelings for her. I reflected on my husband's attitude and behavior. My sister-in-law's tribute, commitment, resolves and pledge to her Mom to honor her legacy.

As I went through the day again today, I kept going back to the question; how can you say goodbye to someone you love? Do we really say goodbye? What does saying goodbye, particularly at the end of life really means? I wrestled with this all day. Actually, I am still wrestling with it as I write this. I am at the point however where I am coming to terms with it and placing it in the scheme of things in life.

I feel comfortable in placing it among the times and events and opportunities like visiting friends, or families or a place far, far away and I only see them once in a while. This is not a completely accurate placement because at some point I'll see them again. Maybe I'll even travel to that place again, but not in her case. I will never see her again as I have. Putting it this way is painful but I will take comfort in knowing that she is at rest and she gave herself in love and in prayers.

I will miss her beautiful and disarming smile.
I will miss her warm embrace and gentle touch.
I will miss the conversations and discussions of politics, friends, families, and the children and families of her beloved school.
I will miss her refrain; "God will provide".
I will remember her words: "just pray, and God will help you."
I will miss her recollections of my husband's youthful antics.
I will remember her wise caution to our daughters to be good, to respect others and to always do their best.
I will miss her admonishing my husband and her quick reminder, "I love you and want the best for you".
I will remember her fervent prayers and her reminders to always pray.

Most of all I will remember her love for us and her faith in God.

These thoughts and memories will keep her present with me as I recall, recount and remember her words. They will provide the strength and the peace to hold her close and dear in my heart. So although we said goodbye and we will never see her again in this life, she will remain with us in spirit and in thoughts. She will always be with us.

So I realize that although we said goodbye to her, she will never be gone from us.

God Bless you, Mom!
May you find eternal rest and Peace in God's presence and grace.
I thank you for being you.

Haiti. A Call to Show Our Greatness

The many natural disasters of the last few years have brought so much devastation, injury and loss to our world, to our people. We coalesce and helped as a people to move the healing and restoration forward. I know in many of these places the process is still evolving and many ills still exist. We must continue to show our greatness as we are called on once again to serve our neighbors.

This is our greatness, to give and to serve. We have, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, said "everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service."

We are called to show our greatness in service to our brothers and sisters in Haiti, the latest natural disaster. Let us share our greatness so that they too can rebuild and we, collectively, serve. Please be a part of the solution for Haiti. In their hour of darkness, 'let your little light shine' on them.
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflect it." I hope you will all take part by spreading your light and realize your greatness by serving them.
Let us guide Haiti into a new beginning. A new beginning where, justice, equity, hope, peace and greatness will live for all and with Haitians. "The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning" Ivy Baker Priest.
Let us help Haiti back and give them the support to be better able to serve all its people. - Its Greatness.

Visit the many established websites to offer your support and assistance. There are many organizations and groups taking contributions for the relief effort. Please take time to select a group that you trust to make your donation. We want to make sure that all contributions will get to the true relief effort in Haiti.

A google search turned up pages of such organizations. Select ones you know and trust and make a pledge.

Haiti we stand with you.
We pray for you and we look forward to a better, brighter day for all of your peoples!
For all our future!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why Do Kids Refuse to Eat Some Foods but Accept Them as Adults?

It's funny how things connect. I did the previous post because I had the encounter with LM on Saturday and it carried into Sunday. The next couple of days I've encountered instances where I engaged in conversation or overheard conversations with others about foods. Not just about food, but about names of foods, types of foods, tastes and preferences in preparation. So I'll fill you in on them.

So, Monday I went to the cafe at work to eat lunch that I brought from home. This is rare for me. I usually just grab something from a restaurant in the area. I sat with a colleague who usually brings her lunch from home. She was eating a dish with items that she said she disliked as a child when her Mom made them; a Chinese potato which she disliked, and a type of greens. I had fish with corn and seasoned rice - herbs and butter. We both complimented each other on the look and smell of our lunches. It was so tantalizing that we exchanged tastes of our food. Hmm, so good! Our ensuing conversation centered on how/what we eat as adults and the way we prepare it as opposed to our mothers or grand mothers who were the cooks.

She, like me, prepares some items that we disliked as children. Now we buy them and prepare and enjoy them at home. We had a good laugh remembering the times when we had to sit at the table for hours until we finished the item(s) that we refused to eat or scarfed it down just to get it over with. We even had a hearty laugh at the level of anguish and frustration of our parents during those extended meal times.

We've learned from those days and experiences and fashion our behavior with our children accordingly. We'd hate to deal with the frustration and anguish. What we prepared, served and insisted that our children eat is what we've come to understand that they liked and will eat without much fuss. We found ways to camouflage the other things that we thought they should have so it was easier for them to accept. My way of 'mothering' when it came to food was much to the chagrin of my mother. She thought I was giving myself extra work for no reason, to get the kids to eat. I didn't argue with her when she would comment, but I knew that I didn't want the frustration she had forcing us to eat certain things. It was really punishment for everyone when we had to eat the things we thought was horrible.

As adults, we eat and enjoy some of those same ole horrible foods, but 'our way'.

Today I had a meeting with a group of other folks than my lunch companion. The folks arriving at the meeting early, before I got there, were engrossed in a conversation about food. Again the issues about food choices came up. This time how ever they were more focused on taste; eating spicy or flavorful foods.

One person said she's never eaten any spicy or highly seasoned foods. In fact she said that she's only recently eaten onions and garlic on her food. She had never eaten hot sauce or pepper on her food either. Some one else asked, "no Tabasco on your food?" She said, "oh no!" She told us that her mom always prepared her meals separate from the others as she would not eat what or how the others ate. Perhaps she will graduate up to hot sauce or pepper since she is now enjoying onions and garlic.

The morale of this story is this. As we grow older and become wiser, I guess, we appreciate, well mostly appreciate, foods that we disliked as children. Is it because of wisdom, acquired taste, keeping up with the Joneses or the maturity in knowing that we need a variety.... Perhaps the preparation of the thing is a factor, or maybe the kids wanting to match wits with Momma or they really just dislike a flavor, texture or taste.

The question still remains.
Why do kids refuse to eat some foods but accept it as adults? Is food preparation - the way it is prepared- a cause for the refusal? Or is it all about preference, choice, taste/flavor. Did we grow into the taste?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's For Dinner?

Isn't it funny how we react to something when it seems unknown but as it becomes clear the reaction is relaxed. It's like getting a picture into focus from a blur and seeing what it is and appreciating it. Well, we had such an experience with LM and dinner yesterday. As I figured out the meal for today it came back to my mind and I had to stop and reckon with it, and you are too, now.

My husband made dinner for us yesterday. Saturdays are one of those anything goes,
kind of a day for meals around here. No fuss, eat in, eat out or whatever. He decided to make a dish we all like and enjoy. We usually buy it when we eat out at a popular Spanish restaurant; Tostones and chuletas (pork chops and green plantains).
Mind you I make pork chops at home sometimes, not often but we all love it. I generally make it southern style, or some fancy recipe - stuffed with jelly etc. Once in a while I make it Spanish style. Anyway, every so often my husband gets on a binge for the Spanish style and goes after it for a few days in a row. This meal is really a nice treat on Saturday especially as it is fast and fun and you eat a lot and it's great with your fingers!

Even though we may make pork chops and green plantain Spanish style, I mostly call it by the English name but not today. Not for any particular reason either. Well, I like the sound of it; chuleta y tostones!

As we got ready to eat I called LM to the table. I told him we were having chuletas and tostones for dinner, and asked if he'd like to eat. He looked at me quizzically and said hmmmm, yeah I'll have one. I said one? What chuleta or tostones? He had this look on his face as if to say Oo-k I'm not liking this game. He walked into the kitchen and I said well this is one plantain, showing him the tostones on the plate. His countenance changed. Now he knew what I was talking about. He grabbed a plate and helped himself. No more mystery food for dinner he must have said.

We got into the discussion after the meal about the various names we have for things, not only the language issue, but depending on the type and preparation of a food item. So the conversation went like this.
"Green plantain or platanos is mashed and fried and is called tostones."
"The yellow plantain is also fried but called maduros." Again he was befuddled.
"It's plantain, right? Yeah, so the green one has a different name from the yellow one?"
Hmmm, why is that, he asked? Well, as the plantain aged, or ripen it's name changes to maduro. Ok, that's good to know, he said and walked away.

I had a good laugh about it all. His facial expressions was something else. I know of a few other food items that have different names as it age or after it's prepared and not just the style of preparation either. I may do a list of them another time.

Can you share a similar experience or name changes of other foods you know?

So for today's dinner, it is the oh hum drum chicken, broccoli and herb and butter potatoes. And oh yes, a piece of maduro. It's the yellow thing on the plate. It was all very good!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thankfully Thursday Encounter

An Encounter
Today is Thursday, the first one for the year 2010. It was a good but hectic day for me at work but I am thankful not only for the day but for the work and the people around. I had a meeting that I arranged but wasn't quite at peace with it because the folks I was to meet with weren't a popular group with me. Previous encounters have left unsettling thoughts and feelings...

I of course put on my armor and went ahead to conduct the business. I did my piece with that armor on and expected the usual attitudes and behaviors and was prepared to react. Ok, I said that this is a New Year and we should strive to make appropriate changes and here I am, a couple of days into the Year and I am reacting like last year instead of viewing this day as a new day.

Well , thank goodness, I was pleasantly surprised with the result and outcome of the meeting and the attitude and behavior of the group. You know, this reaffirmed for me that each day is a new day and we should approach them and embrace them as such. Being open and available in each situation enables us to react and appreciate the joys and the beauty that comes with the opportunity. Even if there are challenges or issues to struggle with on each encounter or each day, they are still new days and opportunities to live, love, laugh with, about and at yourself in the moment.

As the meeting went on, I sensed the changes in the group. I slowly adjusted my position and I am thankful that I had confirmation that change is here and it is good. Perhaps each one in the group resolved to turn over a new leaf and saw this as an opportunity to achieve this goal with me. I am learning my lessons here!

I am thankful that it is Thursday, the work week is ending and I can have an opportunity to rest, reflect and re-tool. I can strengthen my resolve to go through each day as a new day, a clean slate, and to be open and optimistic.

Are you being tested to practice your resolutions?! Remember each day is a new day, another opportunity to be the best that you can be.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Life Changes and the New Year

The more things change the more they stay the same. You know what, that is not entirely a bad thing but let's shake it up a bit this year. As we celebrate and revel in having the good fortune of seeing another Year, we also get our routines underway. We are such creatures of habit that even though we celebrate and wish for changes, improvements and good or great things and lives in the New Year, we still fall back to the routines. As the holidays wind down and we gear up for the daily grind, we move back to the familiar and common practices of every day life.

It's Sunday, the get ready for the week day. Well, Sundays are more than that but it seems we think and plan and prepare the things and our minds for the week ahead through out the day. Each person I spoke with this afternoon, one of my routines, made reference to getting ready for the week. Did you add a new step, routine, task, activity to your usual grind that will move you closer to the goals, resolutions or expectations for the New Year? It is the time to do so!

My getting ready after a weekend or holiday involves taking my kids to the station or airport to return to school. It also means getting dinner ready, the work clothes, school uniforms and activities and schedules organized and in-sink with everyone. Watching the ball games and catching up with folks over the phone. I enjoy the preparations and the looking forward so that I am 'ready' for the week ahead. It is also a time for reflection and recollection and strategies for changes, moves and improvements or simply addressing unresolved or unsettled issues to put them to rest.

So as we get into this New Year, 2010, not much has changed. I made the trip to the station for the trip back to school. I got back home and made the dinner, got the clothes etc together to start the week while watching the football games, as usual. Not to mention the phone calls. I guess one difference with the calls from most of the weekends/holidays is that these conversations started and ended with Happy New Year! I like it. I like new, I like happy and I like 'changes.' Wait a second; I am like most others when it comes to changes. It takes work but for the most part I think it is good and I try to roll with it. This New Year, I have some things I want to change.

As we move into this New Year, let us turn over a new leaf; hopefully change some of the attitudes, practices and beliefs that have kept us from achieving the dreams, goals and resolutions. Make this years' change one where things doesn't stay the same. I want more good, better and a truly happy New Year for all! I have some routines that really just make sense, some are necessary but there will be some changes in quite a few things and areas for me. Things will not stay the same. Well, not all things.

I hope you will make some life changes too. We can all do something more, something different, something better and something for others.

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, 2010!

As the clock struck 12 last evening we ended the Y2K decade. It came in with such hoopla, anticipation, caution and expectations. It was quite an interesting year! One thing I know for sure is that it came and went like a bat out of hell! With all of the proclamations and warnings, fear mongering harbingers, the decade of 2000, what I know is this. The year and the decade went in warp speed. Last year, 2009, I think went in what feels like a six month period. Man! I clocked a year in age and can't recall the happenings. It went too fast.

As we perambulate and journey through this new decade and New Year, we look forward to many changes, innovations, improvements and perhaps some of the issues and concerns that continue to be a part of life and will befall us. But despite these truths and realities, I wish you all a very merry, productive, satisfying and joy filled year. For those of you who've made the obligatory News Years' resolution, I wish you much success and stick-to-it-ness in this year. I hope that you realize all of your plans, goals and dreams.

I have learned that the trick to successful attainment of the resolutions or plans is to make the items actionable, realistic and practical. Keep them in your sight and involve your support group or a trusted person to help you keep pace. Set the goals and delineate the steps you will have to take to make them happen and you will achieve success. Give yourself a plan and a road map with time line so that you can see your progress. The level of attainment will act as reinforcement and help you to continue to toil away and get to the finish line.

For me, I never make those "resolutions" even though I think about my life and the things I would like to do, change, give, get and experience. I think of them in terms of my day to day activities and processes and try to keep them in my sight through out the year. The other thing I do is a periodic check in to see where I am and what adjustments or revisions I need to make to get to where I want. I stay off the mark in many ways and in many areas of my life but I keep coming back to the thought and belief that, yeah, tomorrow, although it is not promised to any of us, it will be a new day and anything is possible.

To all of you, my friends, family, acquaintances and fellow people Happy New Year! May God grant you the desires of your heart and bless us all with peace and grace.

All the Best in 2010!