Cooking Up a Better Life

Many of you who know me and have seen my food posts on Facebook or Instagram, know that I love to create dishes in the kitchen. A lot of those dishes are inspirational, and end up tasting much better than imagined at the beginning. They are not always the healthiest, but they are good, nonetheless. I know you have looked inside the refrigerator or pantry, only finding a few items that are appealing to the eye and to your palate, but not everything in there is for the recipe you are used to. Believe me, there is so much more “in there” that we don’t see on the surface. There is so much more to tap and refresh and redo.

For me, cooking is a metaphor for life. The statement, “What we see is what we get,” is true. If we have closed vision, we can’t see the brightness of today. With our eyes closed in life, we just coast along and don’t see the blessings that are ours. Opening up to new possibilities gives us new avenues of thought, action and appreciation. Do you choose ingredients that are comfortable to your palate or recipes, rather than trying new items that would give your food choice a twist? Add a little cinnamon to a fruit salad, and it changes the entire flavor of that salad. I have a recipe for Kumaj Lebanese bread (photo above). It is basic - flour, salt, yeast, water, and a little sugar. I love the recipe as it stands, but I tried it with a little cinnamon, and wow! The bread just got better. My next try on Kumaj will be with a little minced rosemary. When we add a little more spice, love, understanding or compassion in our day-to-day relationships, we see things differently, and it becomes new and improved. We see light and a brighter projection in our life.

Fundamental Richness

“Fundamental richness is available in each moment. The key is to relax: relax to a cloud in the sky, relax to a tiny bird with gray wings, relax to the sound of the telephone ringing. We can see the simplicity in things as they are. We can smell things, taste things, feel emotions, and have memories. We are able to be there without saying, “I certainly agree with this,” or “I definitely don’t agree with that,” but just be here very directly, then we find fundamental richness everywhere. It is not ours or theirs but is available always to everyone. In raindrops, in blood drops, in heartache and delight, this wealth is the nature of everything. It is like the sun in that it shines on everyone without discrimination.” Pema Chodron.

Negative Experiences into Positive Outcomes

Improve your perceptions in life, and it will improve your action/reaction to others. For almost three years, a good friend struggled with his marital breakup, and he was beating himself in the head, over and over again, thinking he was the cause, that he should have been more in tune with himself and her, and that it was all his fault that she chose to not be with him. Fortunately, he rarely goes back to that negativity, and is in a much calmer state now, because he has owned what was his, who he is, and now has tools that help get him out of his funk.

Positive thoughts = positive actions/reactions. Negative thoughts = negative actions/reactions. Choose positive every time.

I was an office manager several years ago where one of the tenants just didn’t like me. Or, so I thought. I was hesitant to approach this person because I felt negative vibes - every time. Perhaps I was intimidated by her, or she by me. What I’ve learned over the years, is that my reaction to comments or behavior mirrored what I needed to change within myself. I perceived her lack of interest in my life as unacceptable and rude, and it caused me to avoid conversation with her. The real truth hit me hard in the face. It was really all about me. I didn’t ask anything of her and her life. I didn’t take an interest in her. Most people like to talk about themselves or their families, don’t they? So, I reversed my perception, and put into action, kindness, respect, and a heartfelt interest in her and her life, causing the negativity to dissipate almost immediately with every encounter. Whenever we chance to bump into one another, it’s a genuine, friendly outcome.

In relationships, communicate from your heart, for if you don’t, you leave yourself open to deception and misunderstanding. This happens often in the workplace, where friends/co-workers use passive-aggressive chatter. We know it occurs in many love relationships. When conversations cease or are at a minimum, miscommunication sets in. We lose connection. Life’s biggest lessons, opportunities, and gifts are found when we are in our connection with others. You must be open to what works for you in your environments, and as you come to an amenable solution, more power to you! Take charge of your life...only you can determine how you handle life-changing experiences. Only YOU can turn the negative and turn it into positive. You will reap the benefits.


Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose. – Eckhart Tolle

Photo by  Char Beck

Photo by Char Beck

My husband has always said, "Worry about things you can change. Not about things you cannot change." We believe in and attach ourselves to thoughts that are, in actuality, random and spontaneous. We have no claim to where the thoughts originated, only that they are thoughts that keep us – obsessing, worrying, depressed, reflecting, planning, working through problems, and are intrusive interruptions. Do you know what your thought is going to be in the next moment, or 30 seconds from now? Of course, you don’t, right? A thought that enters your brain is a random fluctuation of energy. YOU are the one that gives meaning to your thoughts. Stop trying to “control” your thoughts, and practice mindfulness and meditation as soon as you recognize that it’s “only a thought” and not truth. It’s high time you stop suffering from those “thoughts” that keep pulling you away from the present moment. Live in the moment.

Lose the pebbles.

"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out; it's the pebbles in your shoe. Muhammad Ali." Everyday distractions take you off course, and you trip on each pebble that is a "what if" or "what could have been." I did this a lot in my life, and do it even today. However, when negative energy is changed to positive energy, the mountains are easier to attain. Only you can change the perspective of your day. 

Concentrating on negative "thoughts" bring negative expressions and feelings, and it is a one-way street, unless you choose different. Try to remember that they are only "thoughts," and can be eliminated or adjusted. What you have learned over time, can be unlearned. You have to do the work. Continually ask yourself when you have a negative thought, "Is this real?" "Is it only a thought I have?" If so, work through it to find the source of discomfort or pain. Find a balance of what is real and what is not. Acknowledge it. Don't wallow. Climb up that mountain, even baby steps, with confidence and assurance. Others have walked/and will walk that path with you. YOU'VE GOT THIS!!!

Mother's Day

MOTHERS come in all shapes, sizes and types. The infamous "Mother's Day" is upon us, where we honor our mothers of past, present, and future. I'm in awe of each of you, as you try to make this world a better place. My mom was one who always managed to juggle 4 kids' laundry, food, sports schedules, activities, and gave us each a smile at the dinner table. She was funny, kind, loving, educated, loved her family more than life, and was a darn good cook. She never knew a stranger either. She was a humanitarian, a volunteer, was never void of things to do, and a gift to our family. 

I have SO many GREAT MOM friends, some of which are mothers that bear their own children, ones that raise the children with their husband or as a single parent, ones that adopt, ones that foster, or they are a woman, a sister, aunt, grandmother, girlfriend, etc., who is/was a surrogate parent for children, due to mental or physical illnesses or death of the mother. Each of you plays an integral role in a child's life; their physical, emotional, behavioral and their educational growth. Adding a little humor, these mothers fill the bill. You are perhaps one of these, or know someone who fits the description:

There was an article on Facebook, nature's mothers "are the best" - insects, reptiles, mammals - in how they protect their babies. It's an amazing phenomenon how alike we human mothers are. Shelter is provided from dangers. A home is found to live in, sometimes sacrificing their own comforts for the children, and some losing their lives in childbirth. An environment of love is available the best they know how, and most children know that their mother will be there as long as they need her.

Eric Fromm quoted, "The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother's side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent." J. D. Salinger is quoted to say, "Mothers are all slightly insane." Yes, at one point or another in a child's life, that is truth spoken. Washington Irving stated, "A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."

Go now, mothers, and love on your children and grandchildren. Find reasons to hold them, talk gently to them, and play with them, and giving them reason to do well in life, not only for themselves, but for the entire world. Look onto yourselves with brilliance, and love, and light, because you are. As Lady Gaga stated, "Acceptance, tolerance, bravery, compassion. These are the things my mom taught me." Having children puts the whole world into perspective. Everything else just disappears.  I honor all mothers. Happy Mother's Day, May 13, 2018!

It's the Little Things

As an infant and in early childhood years, my parents moved our family of 6 several times: from Warrensburg, MO, to Spokane, WA, Hayden, AZ, and finally landing in Riverside, CA, where I attended 3rd grade elementary through high school. I was rich in heritage and love. Still am. I learned to shift each time, making new friends and creating new stories. While we were in the throws of each relocation, all of that moving caused immediate anxiety and disturbance of my calm, yet eventually offered new opportunities to see the life/lives in each home and community, and my experiences accelerated with each locale. I didn't realize that when I was young, but I express it easily now. It GREW me. Great memories stay with me: before kindergarten in Spokane, first and second grades in Hayden, and the rest of the childhood schooling in Riverside. Walking, talking and laughing with my new friends, skipping around worms on the sidewalks, missing the cracks in the sidewalk to not "break my momma's back," making May baskets for our neighbors and running away before they knew who rang their doorbells, building a snow fort and throwing snowballs at my brothers and neighbor children, climbing trees, racing bikes in the cul-de-sac, playing outside until 9 or 9:30 at night. A ragged fence in front of our home in Hayden, AZ boasted of honeysuckle fragrances in the spring/summer, so every time I see or smell honeysuckle or lilacs, I think of the first time I experienced the luscious scents. We lived simply. I was one of the fortunate ones, because I learned about creating fun wherever I was at the time. The exploring my brothers and I did with our childhood friends, gave me an appreciation for the beauty of this earth and the country we are blessed to reside in. This allowed me the acceptance and love of each person. Most of the time, I found good in everything and everyone. My heart and eyes were always open to accepting it/them "as it is." Perfection.

Do you need to change "what it was" to "what is?" Don't cripple yourself with thoughts and emotions from a past that only brings sadness or discontent. "I shoulda, woulda, coulda..." need to reside in the past - left in the past. Live in the present, and let us have your presence.

We are in a hurry-up, get-things-done lifestyle, and it's difficult to slow down to enjoy moments that could otherwise be very meaningful. Don't rob yourself of some of the beauties of our Earth and its habitants. Clothe yourself with sunshine, walks in nature, have occasional chocolate chip cookies, observe different shaped leaves falling in the grass, beautiful colors of flowers and trees, hold your babies/children/loved ones longer, hang out with people that make you laugh, friends that complete you. Let your life "pop" with color and distinction. Observe the changes in seasons, the new buildings going up in your neighborhoods, the parks full of laughing children, the warmth of friendships. Let your observations thrive and be nourished with surprises, and giggles, and purpose. Appreciate TODAY, as you have never done before.