Posted in Lore

Lost and Found

latteFinding a place to sit, I balanced my chai tea latte toward the table.  I flung my bag on the booth, slid my coat off my shoulders.  A deep breath relaxed me as I lifted the hot drink.  Its warmth radiated through my chest as if someone had laid a shawl over my shoulders.

There was too much on my mind.  The plan was to upload everything from my brain onto paper.  Another deep breath as I opened my bag to dig out my notebook and pen.  I fished in one side, then the other.  Fruitlessly, I repeated the search until I finally resigned myself to having forgotten them.

No matter, I would pull out my phone and jot down a few tasks on a checklist.  Neither side pockets nor inner compartments revealed my phone.  Here I was, for the single purpose of organizing my thoughts in a peaceful place, and I had no tools with which to do it.  I looked at my latte.  I could ask for a to-go cup, go home for my notebook and return.  I could go home and try to recreate the atmosphere there.  I looked at my latte again.

After one more breath, I decided to take this rare opportunity to just . . . be.

Agitation fought relaxation.   Thoughts would pop into my mind, my head would jerk, as if by reflex, looking for my phone to text, tweet, or post it.  Deep breath . . . there is nowhere but here.  There is no time but now.

Slowly, my surroundings came into focus.  The child at the neighboring table being prodded to eat more quickly.  The colors of the walls.  The fading light outside.  Could it be this was all here just moments ago?  My head jerked to text, tweet, or post my thought.  Deep breath . . . nowhere but here.

A baby cried, out of view, but not out of earshot.  The murmur of the people.  The music too soft to notice unless the tables are empty.  How strange to think I was probably the only one hearing it.  I smiled to myself.  No where but here.  No time but now.

I was practicing mindfulness.  Engaging my senses one by one.  Releasing my grasp on the past and future.

I love my gadgets.  My smartphone is my umbilical cord to the world.  But in the process of becoming more connected, I recognized had become disconnected.  In the process of managing more tasks, I had become mindless.  I am, at times, blind and deaf to the life that surrounds me.

While I won’t be discarding my gadgets any time soon, I definitely learned from this experience.  I need to be mindful, not only of the present, but of those times when I have gotten lost; distracted by places in which I don’t reside, worrying about things that don’t exist, speaking to people who aren’t there.

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You may also be interested in these articles:

Hold Onto Your Pants:  this one goes out to the one i love . . . 

grevilleacorner:  Bargaining with life

Beauty and the Borderline:  Mindfulness: Notice Your Surroundings

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Posted in Room and Board

Totally Non-Judgmental Happy Foodie

Last week I added a new category to my blog.  Rants.  I questioned whether to add it, as it draws attention to the fact that my pendulum sometimes swings farther than I would like it to.  My goal here is to seek all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.  Then again, my blog is titled WholeyJeans. (Someday I will blog about the misspelling, but I digress).  While ranting may not be considered peaceful or precious, it is a part of me on my road to balance, and as such, a part of the whole me.  And so the category was created.

The comment by insearchofitall, in which she concluded, “My sister has become a food fanatic and we can no longer share a meal. So sad. I’ll take the Buddhist path. All things in moderation. Pass the French rolls please” really got me thinking.  My pendulum began to swing back, and I felt the need to post a response to my own blog.

I am fascinated by diets of all sorts.  Food documentaries captivate me.  Nutrition arguments entice me.  Everyone has the answer, and in my quest for balance, I want to hear it and judge for myself.  Please note that I use the word ‘diet’ in both senses of the word; weight-loss system and way of eating.

Here are are some of my findings:

  • waterEvery diet says that water is good.  It doesn’t matter if you’re detoxing, fasting, gorging on protein, or cutting fat.  Water is good.  Drink it.  It is the stuff of life.  It is the fountain of youth.  It is also the easiest way to fit in a few extra steps daily.  Drinking water = trips to the bathroom.  Nice, right?
  • The other thing that every diet tells you to eat is vegetables.  There are different levels of vegetables depending on sugars, fiber, and nutrient density.  Everyone agrees green leafy veggies are a go.  Add a rainbow of vegetables to that, and you’re going to find a pot of gold at the end.
  • Most diet programs include fruit.  Some encourage it more than others.  Again, there is that sugar/fiber/nutrient thing.  Fruits, like vegetables, are plants, but tend to contain more sugars.  Sugar is a four-letter word.  Okay, it’s five, but you know what I mean.  This is why some opinions begin to part at this juncture.  However, everyone seems to agree berries are the most virtuous of fruits.
  • Let me back up the sugar truck a few meters.  We have a sugar for everyone!  There are slow sugars, fast sugars, artificial sugars, processed sugars, refined sugars, and natural sugars.  There are sugar crashes, sugar rushes, sugar addictions, sugar cravings, and sugar daddies.  Did I say sugar is a four-letter word?  It is also an eleven-letter word.  Unavoidable.  Carbohydrates are sugar, and they are found in vegetables and fruit.  Oh!  So sugar is good?  See what I mean?  How is the average nosher supposed to decipher all this stuff?

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  • The problem with vegetables is that everyone wants to doctor them up with butter, margarine, oils, cheeses, dressings and gravies.  If you can eat your vegetables naked, you will reap their full benefit and flavor.  I mean go ahead and wear clothes if you want, but don’t put anything on your vegetables.
  • Legumes are good, right?  Opinions are mixed.  Legumes are a plant, so vegans love their protein content.  How could you possibly feel guilty eating a bowl of lentil soup?  Well, legumes are full of carbohydrates, and low-carb eaters aren’t a fan.  Please note that cocoa beans are not legumes.  I know.  Bummer.
  • Is dairy the dreaded animal secretion, or a vital food for healthy bones?  It depends on who you’re listening to.  There are different beliefs on this, and many options for those who decide against dairy.
  • But if you can stand the heat, head into the kitchen to talk about meat.  People are passionate about their animal protein.  Arguments range from protecting the planet to regaining your health, restoring the food chain, and compassion for life.  Both sides of any discussion have points for each of these values, and will fight, seemingly to the death, to defend them.

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All of the diet plans I have ever read say that you have finally found the last diet you will ever need.  Search ‘last diet’ and Google will find no less than 233,000,000 results for you.  Using this as a guide, you should have no problem eating healthy until the day you die.  And in the end, you will die, and I guess whatever diet you are eating that day will be your last.

Look, I’m just an average girl trying to eat reasonably well.  I try to know what is behind what I put in my body, and make my choices from there.  Of course I want to do better.  I want to do a lot of things better.  Cheers to that, eh?  Recently our temperatures have dipped, with the windchill bringing dangerously cold weather.  I am craving refined carbs like there is no tomorrow, and since I guess there might not be, I go ahead and indulge a bit without guilt.

Unless you are a food priest of this or that nutritional following, you do not have all the answers.  I like to live my life like that; not having all the answers.  When you live without all the answers, you are always questioning, always learning.  I don’t want to find the last diet I will ever need.  I want to taste new things and try new combinations, dining with family, drinking with friends.  I want to live, love and laugh with all my other *totally non-judgmental happy foodie friends.

Bon Appetit!

*Thanks for the title idea, Mary!

Posted in Room and Board

Holier Than Chow

Diet and nutrition have been elevated to a passion equal to that of religion.  People don’t just share recipes for fun anymore.  They share recipes the way they pass out propaganda listing the benefits of a virtuous life.  The recipes include organic, locally grown ingredients, with instructions for storing it in an environmentally friendly method.  Cooking anything else for your family will guilt you down to a loathsome, uncaring, gluttonous scum of the earth.

lunch bagBack when Mom packed my lunch she bought white bread, spread on Miracle Whip, slapped a piece of bologna in it, then packed it up with Fritos and a pop.  (Read “soda” if you live outside Minnesota.)

That’s right.  My bread was not whole grain, my sandwich spread had lots of ingredients she couldn’t pronounce, and the lunchmeat — well, we don’t want to know.  The sandwich sat in a brown paper bag until it’s internal temperature was 87 degrees.  But boy, was it good with those Fritos tucked between the doughy-white slabs of Wonderbread!  To top it off, the packaging all got tossed in the trash because there was no such thing as recycling.

I’m not saying I want to go back to that, but eating food was fun.  You had to go to church if you wanted to feel guilty.  Not anymore.  There are food priests among us, folks.  These are people with deep-rooted beliefs who feel that if you are not eating what they are eating, you are doing yourself — NAY! The WORLD a grave disservice.

It is the food priest’s mission in life to save your nutritional soul, and lead you (kicking and screaming) to health.  But wait!  There is no eternal life, here.  We’re all dying in the end.  The goal is to die as healthily as possible — perhaps biking to Whole Foods.

saladThe rite of worship is the meal.  It is in the planning, buying, preparation and consumption.  Oblivious to other shoppers, meditation of labels takes place smack in the center of each isle.  Children are indoctrinated in front of the bananas, blocking all access from other food clergy and heathen alike.  Trips to organic farms are carried out like pilgrimages to the holy land.  The meal is consumed in solemn reverence of the plants that sacrificed their life.

Yummm . . . animal secretions . . .
Yummm . . . animal secretions . . .

The food priest also hears confession.  They use scary phrases such as “animal secretions” as euphemisms for wholesome sounding ingredients like eggs, milk, and honey.  “Refined sugar” equals cookies and muffins.

MMmmm . . . FLESH!
MMmmm . . . FLESH!

“Flesh” is the definition for roast beef or turkey breast.  The cuisine of our mothers is smugly called “Comfort Food” like a poisonous secret.  Sins are encouraged to be confessed using these terms, the worst of which is pink slime, and punishable by up to a full month of liquid detox diet.

Unsought counseling is very often the first indication that you have encountered a food priest.  You may experience unwelcome scrutiny over your cheeseburger with grilled onions and fries.  The evangelist may laughingly toss out the nickname of “foodie” as if adding an “e” to a word makes it harmless.  Druggy.  Achey breaky.  Owie.

In severe cases, you may be required to refrain from eating food prepared in certain establishments.  If it is suggested that you discard of kitchen utensils that have ever touched prohibited edibles, it is very possible you have encountered an actual nutritional cult.  This is dangerous, as you may never enjoy eating again, leading to any of a multitude of eating disorders.

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Look, I’m glad we all have our religion, democracy, and plenty of nutritional models to choose from.  I’m not picking on anyone.  Personally, I tend to be nutritionally non-denominational.  I love my congregation, as we welcome vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, omnivores, Aktins followers, and anything in between.  We “pin” recipes, listen to each other rave about menus, and share samples.  When faced with a meal, we EAT it, ENJOY it, and share in each other’s company.  No one is moping, or preaching, or judging.

I try to do what I think is right for the world, my family, and my body . . . most of the time.  Admittedly, I sometimes feed my disposition (which is often a pepperoni pizza with chocolate chip cookies for dessert).  pepperoni pizzaHow very lucky for me that I have that choice.  You may choose to indulge in pomegranate.  Some people can only choose from rice or beans.  Some can choose from thirst or unclean water.  I’m pretty sure some would choose GM corn over starvation.

Which brings me to corn, and anyone who knows me well has heard me say, “Don’t get me started on corn!”  So yes, I know the sermon.  You’re preaching to the choir.  And sometimes the choir is fed up (literally).  I’m just asking the food priests to please stop trying to shove their communion down my throat.  If I want it, I know where to find it.

Posted in Lore

Life Changes

It’s been a long weekend.  I went off the grid, just North-West of the Middle of Nowhere.  I’ve caused some grief with just about everyone I love.  Thanksgiving was on its way, and I just couldn’t pick a date.  You see, I like my kids to go to my ex’s side on the holidays since he has a lot of family over there.  There is just me, Bubba, and the dogs over here.  We’re important, but they can stop by and see us anytime.  Grandparents, as I painfully know, are not on this earth forever, and must be cherished.

I needed to pick a non-Thanksgiving date for a turkey dinner.  The trouble is, the kids are grown with lives of their own.  Everyone has Thanksgiving day off of work, but to find another date was impossible.  No matter how I worked it, I would have been leaving one child out.  I couldn’t seem to make that call.  Which one would have to show up for the microwaved plate of leftovers?  Or maybe I was just making excuses.  I just couldn’t deal with the planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning of traditional meal.  I was in a funk.

Stovetop stuffing, deli turkey, steamed carrots, mashed potatoes, and homemade rolls sufficed for Bubba and I.  We ate like boars on the t.v. trays watching something from Netflix.  It sounds worse than it was. 🙂

Friday was spent packing and cleaning for the weekend North-West of the Middle of Nowhere.  Whether it was the weather — a cold winter storm blew in — or the work of getting ready, my arthritis kicked in.  It was a long achy trip up there.  The ache lasted through a good part of Saturday.  For this, and a few other reasons I don’t care to mention, I wasn’t very good company.  I was still in my funk, and Bubba paid for it.

North-West of the Middle of Nowhere:

This morning, Monday, I am back in the center of Somewhere.  I have taken the day off from work.  The coffee shop looked toastier than it is.  My vanilla soy latte has cooled, no longer warming me from the inside.  It took three tries to get their wireless password right.  Checking out my notifications led me to a new blogger I had not seen before.  I liked her blog name insearchofitall.  It reminded me of my tagline Seeking all things . . . .  I started reading her current post, In Search of Giving Thanks.

The line that caught my eye reads, ” . . . life changes and we have to be adaptable. Isn’t that what the pilgrims did?”  

Yes.  Life changes.  The changes rarely come easily, even if we have waited and hoped and planned for them.  Some changes never come no matter how hard we try.  Some changes are thrust upon us whether we like it or not.  We must cope the only way we know how.  For me, it is a trip to the coffee shop, time alone, list-making, and some well-pulled bootstraps.

We are each pilgrims in our own life.  Life changes and we must adapt.  Life changes and we need to go forward.  There is no other direction than forward.  I am stronger than I look, both physically and emotionally.  I have lived through things I thought would break me in two.  I have showed my best side when I didn’t think I had one.  I have kicked ass when I didn’t think I could take one more step.  For myself and all of which I am capable, I am thankful.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone.

Posted in Lore

An Evening at the Ballet

My favorite pastime is to watch someone performing a task that they know well.  I’m sitting here at McDonald’s . . yes, McDonald’s! . . . watching the ballet behind the counter.

The shift manager, switching gracefully between Spanish and English, has complete control. She choreographs the stage with the confidence of the greatest mistress. Her ballet company each aware of the other’s move as they have practiced every day. They make it look easy, as if one who had never seen the dance before, could slip in seamlessly.

There is one at the front, awkward and stiff, smiling nervously. If that weren’t obvious enough, he is overseen by a small girl watching his hands, his register, checking the receipts and listening to his customers. Quiet boredom resides behind her eyes. She is eager for this student to dance on his own.

I love to watch my local barista, the piano tuner, the window dresser, the phlebotomist, the forklift operator.  I’m a regular balletomane.  At some point, we were all beginners at what we do.  Even the experts had to learn all the moves; the arabesque, the glissade, the pirouette.  I like to watch and wonder what took the most practice to learn?  What adds the most drudgery to the day?  Why is it done that way, and what in the world is that thing?

Sometimes you are going to find performers who just should not have made the cut.  As with any stage, “the show must go on!”  Other ballerinas react quickly, the mistakes are covered, the ballet continues.

And at the end of the day, even those of us who dance at our desk are ready to go home.  We release our weary feet from our shoes.  We massage our aching muscles.  We offer our final reverence before preparing to do it all again tomorrow for a new audience.

Posted in Lore

Desperately . . No . . Persistently Seeking . . .

Well, here we are. I’m blogging. You’re reading it. It’s frightening, really. What scares me about it? . . .

You!

Yes, you — out there — wherever you are. I’m afraid you might . . . READ it!

My tag line declares that I am “Seeking all things peaceful, balanced, whole, and precious.” I am surprised how easily I came up with this, and how fully it describes me. I considered “Desperately Seeking . . ” But desperation implies a sense of immediacy. Persistently might have been a better adverb. This is a long road.

Peace: It comes to me when I’m in the present. It might happen on a long woodland walk, or it might happen in the middle of chaos. But when I’m there, the past isn’t weighing me down, the future doesn’t worry me. I’m quite sure the present is where the peace resides.  The trouble is that the present is so elusive.

Balance: I imagine my life as a big yellow exercise ball, and I’m on top. The ball shifts. I react. The ball rolls underneath me in another direction. Every reaction is greater than the last. Inevitably, each attempt lands me ass over teakettle. I’ve been to the Cirque Du Soleil. I want THAT kind of balance!

Whole: I believe in whole food, whole earth, whole people, whole hearts. Most everything I can think of has been dissected, broken, processed, and damaged, until it is unrecognizable. I seek wholeness.

Precious: Family, True Friends, Love, Laughter, Comfort, Healing, Passion, Memories, Reason.

As I said, this is a long road.  Like the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy, I may find that the things I seek have been with me all along. I am definitely open to that possibility! But even Dorothy would never have found her way home if she hadn’t started out on the yellow brick road. So I guess we’re off!

Oh yeah, and like Dorothy and her Toto, I will be bringing along Barney and Sabbath. More about them later.

Barney & Sabbie
Dorothy had Toto.