Chloë’s Amazing Power

My oldest son is watching a friend’s dog.

Let’s just call the dog Chloë, because well, that’s her name.

The dog is small, has long white fur and a tiny face. Her owner knows her pedigree, but we are not that smart. We just know she is cute. We are not “dog people”, but we like dogs, especially cute little white ones, it turns out. (I am using “we”, but actually I am just a passerby in this story.)

Chloë has a preprogrammed dog food dish. It drops a certain number of kibbles (or whatever you call dog food – and is kibble pural or is “kibbles” correct?) into her bowl at predetermined times throughout the day.

Here’s the thing – Little Miss Chloë is usually there waiting, and, even though she isn’t always sitting there waiting, she never sits at her bowl unless a food drop is imminent. Chloë knows.

How does she know? 

There are no clues – she is in a strange house surrounded by strangers. Her master and major clue-giver is far, far away. 

I am impressed, because I usually have no clue when I am going to make dinner and eat dinner. And, I have found myself as a guest many times wondering when the hosts are going to serve dinner. Some folks set the table early or before guests arrive and yet dinner appears much later. Or appetizers and drinks go on for hours, and I begin to wonder if they are dinner, and yet somehow, Chloë knows.

Is this a parlor trick, evidence of great intelligence or simply perfect timing? Is Chloë messing with our heads?  Is the whole thing a huge coincidence?

Answers anyone?

“In Their Shoes”

I read the book “In Their Shoes” this weekend.  

It is by Grace Halsell an accomplished writer, journalist and explorer. She was a Texan, born and raised; worked for LBJ while he was in the White House; covered bits and pieces of two wars; rode a barge down the Amazon; lived on a junk with a family in Hong Kong, and repeatedly took off to live in places such as Japan and South America without a job, a contact or much money in her pocket. 

Grace’s most famous book is “Soul Sister: The Journal of a White Woman Who Turned Herself Black and Went to Live and Work in Harlem and Mississippi ” (1969).

She explored both the physical and psychological aspects of humanity; our planet was her playground and her laboratory.

That being said, I haven’t read “Soul Sisters” or any of the other 11 books she wrote, and I am not sure I will – for lots of reasons.  The first reason is, after reading “In Their Shoes,” I am not sure I like it.

So why bring all of this up?

I cannot get something she said out of my head:  

 . . . life is not the supreme value.  It is courage.”

Now, I have always tried to live my life with courage, dignity and respect, but her words hit me like a punch to the stomach. 

How had I missed the complete clarity of her statement for all these years? 

Life itself is not the supreme value, but how we live it. Duh! I knew that, but bam – it just hit home for the very first time.

Is it bad to admit that? 

Is this something everyone but me has felt in their gut from the day they were born or at least the age of reasoning?

Has everyone been living by this guiding principle and just tolerating my uniformed existence?

Like I said, Grace’s words keep spinning around in my head.  I think they are worth remembering. 

 . . . life is not the supreme value.  It is courage.”

Postscript: Grace Halsell died on August 16, 2000 at the age of 77.

Wednesday’s Question

What have you  done this summer that you want to add to your or your family’s summer traditions?

Many of us have great summertime memories.  One of my favorites is chasing fireflies.  The fun of being allowed to be outside and to be running around after dark still makes me smile.

How will you bring that activity into your or your family’s future?

When my sons were little, we would capture fireflies in glass jars covered with lids poked through with holes. Once the lids were secured and the jars were placed on their dressers, they would watch the flies flicker as they drifted-off to sleep. 

Within a few days, requests were made and granted to unscrew the lids and release their new captives in their bedroom. At the time, their request seemed reasonable.  Perhaps it was a way for me to recapture or one-up the excitement of my youth.  Who knows, but no matter the reason, the boys spent many childhood nights delighted to be watching those blinking bugs float about their room.

I know, I know, catching and caging anything makes some folks crazy, but for me, and later my sons the wonder of fireflies was hard to match.

What summer traditions are worth “capturing” and “releasing” into your futures?

 

“Eat, Pray, Love”

I am a Julia Roberts fan; I read and love the idea of the book “Eat, Pray Love(EPL), and tonight I will be in the theater watching the movie.

That said, the first time I read the book, I hated it.  Then I saw the trailers with Roberts, and the movie looked interesting to me. I quickly realized I had been reacting to the “voice” of the EPL messenger not the message, so I decided to reread the book. Surprise, surprise, I found lots of little gems from Elizabeth Gilbert  between the pages.

I think the best part of Gilbert’s story is it reminds us that creating the life we want is possible.

So as your self-appointed fairy godmother, I am waving my wand and you now have three wonderfully rich, delicious, life-enhancing, soul-infusing, EPL-type wishes.

To me WISHES are:

W – What 

I –  I

S – Seek

H – Hope

E – Enjoy

S – Savor

You are free to choose the moments, the people and the places that you hope for, seek and want to enjoy and savor.  Go ahead, you can do it . . . put your personal “Eat, Pray, Love” journey down on paper. Jot, doodle, draw, write, type, or paint your way to your dreams.

Doesn’t matter if you love or hate the book, the movie, Gilbert, or Roberts, don’t let that distract you.

This is about you, your wishes and your life.   

Where would you go and what would you eat?

One of my favorite personal EPL moments involved eating lots of calamari.  A big scoop of lightly breaded and fried calamari in a white wax paper cone for 2 euros as I strolled around small town markets in Italy. Day after day I treated myself to this inexpensive delight.  A year or so later,  I found myself focusing on a plate full of fresh, creamy-white calamari, dripping with olive oil and lemon juice on the Island of Corfu in Greece at Easter. Mmm, so good and the memories are so vivid. I look forward to my next calamari encounter.

What’s in your food future?

Where would you go to pray or for a retreat?

Another easy one for me, the small rural village of Dihovo in Macedonia where my heart swells as I walk the narrow, softly winding roads and my eyes feast on the old stone houses with their clay tile roofs weathered by wind and wars.  I spent many days and nights there during Peace Corps and will be back again this fall.  I am heading to Macedonia for two months this September and will be helping four American first-timers and one returnee enjoy “my” Macedonia, which will include time for me in Dihovo – eating, laughing, praying, relaxing and reveling in moments great and small. 

Where are you headed?

What type of love are you looking for?  Where will you go to find it? 

My house in Florida.  That’s where I read about and learned how to practice Yoga Nidra after years of failed meditation attempts.  Not all of our dreams need grand locales or even other people. Being good to ourselves is a form of love, and remember what Dorothy learned in the “Wizard of OZ” – “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”  The love we seek is often closer than we think and can be found in a child’s smile, a lover’s eyes, a friend’s words of support, a pet’s attention, a quiet moment, or by treating ourselves exceptionally well. (More about Yoga Nidra in future posts.) 

What does your “love” life look like?

No matter which side of the book or movie you have settled on – pro or con, I believe it is nice to have reminders that creating the life we want is possible and worth the effort.

Give it a try this weekend.  My wand is waiting, your wish is my command.

 

Kettle Corn Wednesdays

I love carnivals and county fairs so this summer I have been celebrating the season with Kettle Corn Wednesdays; I have been posting a question that can enrich your life, making Wednesday’s posts short and sometimes salty – because some of the questions pose a bit of a challenge and may leave a tangy taste in your mouth, and sweet because that is what awareness and change can feel like – sweeeeeet! 

Here is today’s . . .

What is the bravest thing you have ever done?  

Sure, even as a kid.

What is the bravest thing you have ever done?

Take your time. We are in no hurry, go ahead, think about it.

What is the bravest thing you have ever done?

Yes, of course, that counts.

Next question:  “Have you acknowledged to yourself how brave you were? 

If not, please take a moment to do so.  We will wait.  If you have already acknowledged your bravery, take a moment to savor it.

Mmm, that felt good.

Man, now I want a candy apple, too.

Stop, Drop and Roll, redux

I missed posting Friday, and I hate to admit it, but don’t think I will make it today either. 

Life and the reasons are all good, beginning with a wonderful just-finished vacation I am calling the “Reunion Tour” and a slack-cutting approach to life re-developed on that vacation.

I promise to get my act together by Wednesday. For now, I have decided to re-post my June 16 post “Stop, Drop and Roll”, because I enjoyed writing it originally; found it rings true no matter the day or date and I still find it amusing and insightful. (Oh, wait, can I say that if I wrote it?  I guess summer vacations make me more likely to slack-off and to allow my sassy-side to show. I like that.)

Hope your summer is just as sweet and satisfying!

Wednesday’s short and salty, and then sweet question

I cannot get this question out of my mind . . .

Whose shoulders are you standing on?

I am on a three-week trip that has included seeing lots of family and friends, including my 90 year-old-Dad, who is in the process of buying a house on a thirty-year mortgage.

Whose shoulders are you standing on?

That and a glimpse of the last 10 minutes of the movie “Pay It Forward” a few weeks ago, has me thinking about who I am, how I came to be me, and who has helped me along the way.

That led me to ask myself “Whose shoulders are you standing on?”

Which led me to another question, “What could you do about it?”

I don’t have all the answers yet, but I have started a list. 

My list includes family – near, far, immediate and extended; friends – near, far, new, old, friends of friends, and friends yet to be; teachers and professors; bosses and colleagues; librarians and kind tech support providers; musicians; artists; authors; actors; architects; philosophers; scientists; counselors; clergy; doctors, dentists, and nurses; farmers; grocers; road repair crews; snow shovel teams; mosquito sprayers; crop dusters; pilots; conductors; astronauts; police and fire fighters; botanists and park rangers; garbage, antique and tax collectors; construction, social, post office and government workers; child-care providers and the pilgrims.

I think you get the picture.

My world is much more interrelated and interdependent than I like to believe, sometimes I see myself as a self-starter, but really I am a simply a bit of a doer skipping across a vast sea of shoulders that have offered their support  – past and present.

 “Whose shoulders are you standing on?”

 “What could you do about it?”

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