How to be Hippie in spite of yourself

Mayonnaise and Philosophy – The making of a hippie?

There’s a certain philosophy involved in calling one’s self a Hippie.  To some, it’s an entire realm of anti-establishment beliefs.  To others, it’s a movement – born in the 60’s, held over through modern times.

To me is a simple, natural, inexpensive way of doing things.

As a child of the 70’s with both parents being career minded individuals, my sister and I were pretty much brought up never having wanted for anything.  The life lessons that are usually passed from parent to child were present, but only in small amounts.

My first realization that I had missed out on certain things was standing in my first apartment, with my first room-mate, and looking at the large white box in the corner of the kitchen.  When I asked my roommate what “that” was, she looked at me like I’d lost my mind.  “It’s a stove, stupid”.

It was glaringly apparent that I had missed something along the way.

So, now that I had figured out that the family housekeeper does NOT come with your first apartment and that toilet paper did NOT miraculously arrive unbidden to the holder,  I had a little real life catching up to do.

Since then, I’ve made a point of never closing my mind to anything that could bring me information.  Learning how to cook was the start.  Learning how to survive has been the daily lesson ever since.

As with many,  life tends to get in the way of things.  Marriage, children, keeping everyone clean and fed on a daily basis takes over everything.

But it’s the little things you collect along the way that truly count.  For instance, doing something out of dire necessity and then realizing that the end result is far better for you, your health and our world.  A prime example, mayonnaise.

Yes, mayonnaise.  Sounds right silly, eh? (there you have it, 100% Canadian)  I had run out of mayonnaise.  Two babies in the house, oldest child in Kindergarten, husband at work, no vehicle, lived in a house on the hill and the LAST thing I felt like doing was loading up a HUGE baby stroller and stomping all the way downtown to buy mayonnaise with the two dollars I had in my purse.  So, what to do?

While the little ones were sleeping (a grace period any parent appreciates) I took the opportunity to flip through old cookbooks that belonged to my grandmother.  Having learned ( a few years prior) how to the work stove, cooking had become a bit of an enjoyment and I’d taken to collecting recipes.  Lo and behold!!  A recipe for mayonnaise!

Eggs, oil, salt, sugar, dry mustard, lemon juice, vinegar.  That’s it.  Everything needed to make something I had never given a single thought to.  The first attempt, was not so great.  Bit of a soupy disaster, but I soon discovered that a hand-blender (just about everyone has one) is the key.  To get the mayo to set properly, you need to whip it at high speed.  It takes less than five minutes, all ingredients are generally in the cupboard at any given time, I know EXACTLY what’s in it, and I don’t have to go to the store to complete my tuna salad.

The point?  I already have everything I need.  I don’t need to spend more money on something I can do myself.  AND – here’s the really cool part.  It’s environmentally intelligent.  No output (car, time, cash).  No waste (more packaging to get rid of).  And for the truly die-hard anti-establishment types – no input to the corporate giants!

Little things definitely make the biggest difference.

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Just watering the hippies….

I had a most interesting conversation with gent that I work with not very long ago on the topic of “hippies” and the different perceptions that people develop that apply to the term “hippie”.Protesters...
As most are aware, my Dad is the one that more or less labelled me “hippie” a number of years ago following a conversation on the evils of artificial ingredients in his chocolate almonds.

When given the choice, I make the decision to not consume artificial anything by way of foods, personal care products, cleaning products, etc. There are times when this issue can’t be avoided – such as, not everyone can afford organic Egyptian cotton sheets. Not everyone has access to hemp fiber sneakers or backpacks. This list gets rather long when actually put some thought into it.
But, what I found disturbing about this particular conversation was that this person (who is about 15 years my senior) was exceedingly proud of the fact that back in his day he and a group of his friends had rushed some “hippies”, dragged them into the lake and cut their hair while the local police stood by and watched.
I will grant that this particular era (circa 1970) was fraught with social upheaval and groups of people sitting on the beach singing Bob Dylan tunes to a beat up guitar, but my question here is what gave him (and his buddies) the RIGHT to jump these folks and do what they did?
Being at work at the time of this conversation, it was highly inappropriate to shout “you self-righteous ass!! what gave to the idea that what you did was acceptable?”. So, at the time, I didn’t really say much of anything.
In stewing in the conversation over the last few days, it has occurred to me that not only is this man from a different era but he is also a preacher of the christian faith.  I’m sure Jesus would be proud!

Maybe it’s just my middle aged mind thinking back to younger and wilder days, but really, I don’t honestly think so.  Sure, everyone has done stupid things in their youth.  We’re not always PROUD of the decisions we make or the outcome of these decisions, but in the end it’s all part of the learning curve.   I don’t ever recall being intentionally MEAN to someone else and thinking it was a good thing.

This person Very true...was PROUD of what they’d done.  He was amused by it.   He felt that he and his buddies had dragged these “hippies” out and cleaned them up.  Taught them a lesson, as it were.

To my rationale, this would make hypocrites out of them all.  To jump a group of people because they had long hair, drag them into the lake and cut their hair would be quite simply, assault.

There are far too many that believe themselves to be in the right and everyone else is wrong.  Sometimes they take forcing their beliefs on others to an extreme.

The way I see it – there is not enough individuality these days (and in years gone by).  School kids are taught that bowing to authority is necessary.  They are taught to not question what they are told, and if they do (which my kids did, and I got the phone calls from the school!) they are punished, or singled out, or shunned.

Creativity is not molded or encouraged, it’s directed into what the system believes is necessary to create good little workers.

How can this be fixed?  I have no clue.  Shall we all rage against the machine until it breaks?  Probably not a viable solution.  But what we can do, is our own thing.  We can teach our children to find their OWN way.  To understand that what they teach them in school is just the basics.  Readin’, writin’, ‘rithmetic.  Everything else, they will need to discover on their own.  We can encourage their curiosities and teach their minds to soar.  Help them find their own THING.  Be it writing, gardening, medicine…WHAT their thing IS, really doesn’t matter.  To have them grow up with a strong sense of self, self worth, and a driving wonder to make this world a better place IS what counts.

To have them grow up believing that you can force someone to “clean up” and see things way you do, isn’t what should be taught.  They shouldn’t be taught to just follow orders and do as they’re told.

They should be taught to think for themselves, on an individual level.  To rationalize in their OWN mind the difference between right and wrong.  To force someone to “clean up” is just wrong – regardless of how right you think you are.

 

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Hold the Mayo? I think not!

Being the adept Facebook junkie that I am brings me WORLDS of information and insight along with my morning brew.  One of my favorite Facebook groups is a collection of folks that call themselves “Alternative Ways of Survival”.  They’re a heartfelt, outgoing, no-BS bunch that post all sorts of wonderful articles on topics such as gardening, survival strategies (in all types of situations), local foods, do-it-yourself projects and a host of other generally useful information.

If you’re the type that is hell-bent on seeing to your own in tough times, maybe pop by the group and surf around.  You can find them at https://www.facebook.com/groups/AlternativeSurvival/

In a previous post I expounded on the virtues of Local Egg Salad.  See my Location, Location, Location post at https://hippieways.com/?p=138.  In order to be as local as possible, you will also need to have a small garden (or a few herbs in pots) for such perennials as chives, parsley etc.

In the course of conversation on a particular post regarding Spanish Mayonnaise, I decided to add my two-bits worth to the conversation in Alternative Ways of Survival.  The mayo that I’ve been making all these years is a little more complex and I did find that the technique of adding the oil has EVERYTHING to do with the success or failure of the recipe.

So, without further ado, I present to you the recipe for Hippie Ways Mayo – please note that I take absolutely ZERO credit for this recipe.  I found it in an OLD  cookbook.  The credit for this recipe goes solely to the Co-Op Cook Book of 1946 published by the Outlook Women’s Co-Operative Guild of Outlook, Saskatchewan, Canada.

I have tweaked the formula over the years , but the inspiration from the ladies at the Outlook Co-Operative (and this beat up little cook book) have put many a hearty meal on my table (for VERY few dollars!)

Hippie Ways Mayo

1 egg (get real ones, not that factory farmed crap)

1 teaspoon salt (REAL salt, not that iodized garbage – sea salt, high-altitude (pink-ish) or other good quality salt)

1 teaspoon sweet (you can use granulated sugar in any form or honey)

1 teaspoon of dry mustard powder (or a little prepared Dijon or German for something different)

1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh or bottled – either will work)

2 tablespoons white vinegar (plain or pickling, doesn’t seem to matter)

1 cup of oil ( depending on what I have in the cupboard on any given day – usually canola – lighter olive oil works well too)  The only oil I have found that does NOT work is safflower – it’s too thin.

Method:  In a deep glass bowl, blend together the egg, salt, sweet, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar.  With a hand held blender, blend the contents until they are pretty much foam.

 

Here’s the tough part….while blending, begin adding the oils ONE DROP AT A TIME for the first quarter cup of the liquid.

 

 

 

 

This is the hardest part to master, since patience is not a real strong suit with me.  Once the mixture begins to thicken, you can add the rest of the oil and just work it around in the bowl until the desired consistency is reached and all of the oily appearance has disappeared.

 

 

The egg should be COLD.  Don’t let it get to room temperature, or the mayo won’t set at all.

As you can see, I tried Xylitol in this round.  For those not familiar, Xylitol is a plant based (lesser evil for diabetics) sweetener.  I found the mayo didn’t set as well as I would have liked, but the taste was certainly spot-on.

So, one day in the not too distant future, when you happen to be in the grocery store thinking you need mayo – think like a Hippie.  You don’t actually NEED mayo from the grocery store.  It’s not some sort of mystery-miracle in a jar.  It’s a few simple ingredients that you most likely have in the kitchen already…all you need is five minutes and an apron.

Trust me on the apron thing!  This recipe doubles VERY well, and will make less mess if you make a double batch.  I find the single batch method splatters beautifully with the hand blender!  The only real DOWN side to mayonnaise making is that without the use of a hand blender, you would have to use a whisk.  I have experimented with the whisk method and the recipe still turns out as it should.  However, you will have cramped up pecs like you’ve never experienced!!

Rational, positive, creative…even on your sandwich!

 

 

 

 

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Finding Beauty

There are many ways one can appreciate BEAUTY.  To each individual, there will be a multitude of things (or people, or candies, or flowers) that they find “beautiful”.  Each of us has our own sense of beauty.  Everyone’s soul is affected by something different.  I find that music is one of the key factors for me.

Not one specific type of music…I tend to like all manner of different styles (except Jazz – just can’t wrap my head around that genre).  Some days I like to do housework to the widow rattling techno-dance beats.  Other days, I putter around the kitchen to metal such as Nightwish or TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra).

This morning’s Facebook feed happened to have a video clip of Sung Bong Choi on it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BewknNW2b8Y

If you are not familiar with him, he’s quite the Internet sensation.  A 22 year old orphan in Korea who decided that he loved to sing and made his way onto “Korea’s Got Talent”.

I would think that most folks are aware of the “talent” shows – American Idol, Canadian Idol, World Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, and so on…and if you take a moment to look at what’s going on there, you’ll see that there are some absolutely AMAZING talents being shown off to the world by way of televised competition.   The same can be said for Susan Boyle, Paul Potts and Kurt Nilsen.

Susan Boyle’s first BGT – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8P9d0zGZl4

Paul Potts’ initial appearance on BGT – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k08yxu57NA

Kurt Nilsen wins World Idol – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxoJnY_uNQY&feature=related

It’s the initial shock that really gets to you in these first tentative steps into fame – Susan Boyle, a cat lady and choir singer from a wee-little village that 99% of the world couldn’t find on a map.  Paul Potts, as Simon puts is “you did THAT”.  Kurt Nilsen, a plumber from somewhere in Norway belts out one of the world’s favorite songs.

For me, personally, it’s the raw power of their voices.  Being a bit of a popera (popular opera) fan I can sit and close my eyes and just let the strength of their music wash over me.  It’s also interesting to note, that if I happen to have a bit of their music on my mind when I trot off to work that the uplifting feel of the songs tends to stay with me all day.  I’ll wander through the store (at my day job) humming the tunes that I was listening to with my morning cup of Joe.

One of my favorite Facebook Pages is a group called BBW Wellness.  Here’s a bunch of girls that have banded together to love, support and encourage one another – regardless of their size.  As I was saying – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Here’s interesting video – also from Korea’s Got Talent – that the girls at BBWellness had posted.  Her name is Park Jin Young  and she’s in high school….I did try to find one with English subtitles, but struck out.  Even though the commentary is in Korean, you will definitely get the message!

Park Jin Young – Korea’s Got Talent http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wuAHWnHIUc

Here’s another BEAUTIFUL thing.  Park Jin could hide from her size, she could crawl into a small vat of Baskin Robbins and stay there….but she doesn’t.  Someone, somewhere, somehow told her she was BEAUTIFUL and that little bit of self-esteem boosting information stuck.  Take a look at her now!

The base point in all of my video linking (with luck, I’ve given proper credit where it is due!!) is that you really NEED to take a couple of minutes every day and find something BEAUTIFUL.  It doesn’t really matter what it is.  You and your soul need it.  The cares, worries and day-to-day hangups that get in your way will simply disappear (if only temporarily) if you take the time to nourish YOU.

Coffee Moment

Breakfast!

I happen to live where the skies are simply breath taking.  As I ventured outside for my morning smoke (yes, I know, eeewwww) this is what I happened upon today.

As I get ready for work (off to the day job today) this image will stay with me for the rest of day.  If I happen to have a rough few minutes with a customer, or my day just simply doesn’t go as planned, I’ll stop – take a deep breath – and relive this image from earlier.  It’s a very SMALL exercise in meditation, but it’s a little something that will remind me of the beauty that is everywhere.

So as you wander off through your day, remember to just take a few minutes, breathe and relive a beautiful moment.  It could be a particular song, it could be a particular image, it could be a very small moment that simply made you smile.  Hold on to the beauty of it – it will make your day.

Rational, Positive, Creative – always

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Location, location, location!!

It’s a bit of a buzz-term for a lot of things.  Really, I think location has to do with pretty much EVERYTHING these days that is pertinent, intelligent and mindful.  I am inspired today to NOT change my LOCATION in my quest for food.  Project du jour….egg salad.

What does this have to do with anything??  It’s quite simple really.  Maintain a LOCAL FIRST policy with all things.  How is this accomplished, you ask?  It all fits in with my Hippie way of being, and making conscious and intelligent choices when it comes to parting with my money.

First things first:  how to make egg salad.  Boil up a few eggs, and peel them.  Chop them up with a little parsley, chive (or green onion) maybe a little celery and carrot.  Blend with a little mayonnaise and ta-da…luncheon is served.  Takes all of about 10 minutes and you have a fresh feast at hand.  Now, for the tricky part…local first.

Item One: make your own mayo.  I do, it’s simple, I’ve written about it before and if you’d like the recipe just ask.

Item Two: Parsley, chives, bunching onions (the little green dudes), celery and carrot are ALL ridiculously easy to grow in your own backyard, patio, windowsill, etc.

Item Three: Local Eggs??  Short of having chickens in your own backyard, this is tough one for a lot of folks.  I will eventually have my own chickens, but in the interim…I buy from a local farmer.  I find the farm eggs to be FAR better than the factory farmed-serial numbered eggs that you find in the grocery stores.  The farm eggs actually TASTE like something.  You can even water poach them (anyone who like Eggs Benedict knows what I’m talking about) and NOT end up with a pan full of tasteless foam!  I purchase my eggs for $3.00 per 18-pack ($0.65 cheaper than the local grocery store) and the eggs are SSSOOOOO much better.

The best part of this is that I know exactly where the eggs come from, whose farm they are raised on, how the birds are treated, and so forth.

Item Four: The base of all decent sandwiches….BREAD!!  Pretty much EVERYWHERE has a little bakery within a decent walking distance.  The next time you buy bread, here’s a cool idea – read the label.  If it’s on a store shelf…it had to come from somewhere.  How many miles are on your toast before you ever see it?  Take your daily bread seriously…

Frankly, I don’t really give two hoots about “food safety”.  Common sense, although less and less common these days, still rules my decision making processes.  To my mind, it just is more intelligent to purchase my food items from someone that I KNOW rather than trust my government to look after me.  I do get the occasional odd look over my choices, but here is my rationale:

Would you trust a food source you could neither see or touch?  I don’t.

Would you trust a building housing upwards of 200,000 birds to provide you with clean, wholesome eggs?  I don’t.

Would you be inclined to eat something that had spend X-number of days sitting in a warehouse?  I’m not.

Would you be inclined to eat something that had then spent X-number of days in the back of a reefer truck?  Nope.

Well, there you have it.  If you are going to stuff it in your face, a little common sense would tell that you should know where it came from and exactly what it is.  Remember your Mother yelling at you??  “DON’T PUT THAT IN YOUR MOUTH!!!  YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S BEEN!!”

And for the record…my egg salad had ZERO miles on it, no carbon footprint, no diesel-market ratios or other statistical anomalies, and no other green-washing necessary.

The best part…my location didn’t have to change one bit.  🙂

 

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Facebook and personality quirks

There are many days that I get out of bed and just SIT in front of the computer staring at Facebook.  Since I’m not a big TV fan, I tend to keep up with friends and get most of my news there.  I don’t really see myself as an addict, but I’m pretty sure that in there somewhere is the little voice that says “check the feed, check the feed”.  News feed, that is.

I am still trying to absorb much of Lesson No. 1 of The Joy Within.  The personality type that I am (A-type Synergistic) tends to get hung up on details for some strange reason and forget (or avoid) other portions of the big picture.  Anyone that has ever undergone Myers Briggs Personality Testing will understand the chronic hangups of the different personality types.

There are SO many things that I want to do, need to do, long to do but can’t seem to find the time (or self discipline for that matter) to just sit this rather “wide load” down and simply get on with it!!

I have, however, decided to add Yoga to the project.  I won’t be tying myself in knots any time soon.  This is going to be a start small and work along from there sort of addition to project.  I have found the just sitting and attempting to meditate is plagued with pitfalls.  Ringing phone, needing to be at work, feelings of guilt over not having done enough work in the gardens or on the farm (Summerberry Organics).

Right now, I just know that these projects (blogs, farm, R & D gardens in town) are crucial to my purpose.  So I think the addition of a light bit of Yoga may be just the thing to bring my body and mind into a space of control and “mindfullness”.

Let’s see if I can control my own mind long enough to actually accomplish something, rather than just putter around in bits and pieces.

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Lesson No. 2 – Making it stick

I have found that actually TAKING the time to meditate and actually DOING it are two completely separate issues.  I have also discovered that hanging onto the JOY that comes with a 20-minute mind exercise is not only fleeting, but difficult to retrieve once you’ve allowed it to slip away.

For reasons that elude me, I always manage to find something else that is in need of doing.  Whether it’s chatting with cronies on the Facebook, catching up on Permaculture and other garden videos on YouTube or just minding the house in general, there seems to be a never ending stream of OTHER STUFF that needs attention.

This leaves me feeling scattered, less than organized, and rather irritated with myself for not completing what I set out to do.  Even now, I find the little voice in the back of my head is nagging me to hit the shower, get ready for work, return Brian’s e-mail, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…a never ending flow of brain chatter that drags me in 20 different directions.

It’s frustrating.

Back to the basics it is…I know what it is that brings me JOY.  So many things!!  How lucky is that?  Now to set up a schedule for ME that I can manage without feeling guilty.  I’ve come to understand that to SAY I need time for myself and to actually TAKE it are not as easy as I thought.  My A-type Synergistic personality keeps stirring up reasons to not do things for myself, but to look after everyone else.  And the really funny part?  I’m the FIRST person that will tell someone I’m talking to that it’s important they stay true to themselves – If you’re not strong and healthy yourself, you are of no value to someone else.  My favorite line – well, I guess it’s time I took my own advice.

 

 

Lesson No. 1(B) – meditating…made easy!

Well, I did it.  I can’t say it was earth shattering, or a revelation, or even a minor hiccup in the cosmic makeup of all things important – but I did it.  With help.  I’m in NO way going to claim responsibility for having the wherewithal to have come up with something so simple, yet so profound.  I WILL spread the good news of this lady and her guided meditations for all the world to see (or at least those that happen upon these little bits of personal beaking off!)

A very nice lady by the name of Esther was kind enough to post a guided meditation video on YouTube.  I think I know my own brain well enough to understand that there was no way in hell I would be able to shut of my “brain chatter” long enough to do an effective first meditation.  I was quite correct.  My brain, well, has a mind of it’s own.

So now (get this, over a MONTH since I started this post) I’m going to sit down an re-visit Esther and her Chakra opening video and do it again.  Once again, I have allowed life in general to get in the way of my personal journey.  A strange habit and if you have any methods for better minding one’s own mind, please feel free to comment!

 

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Lesson 1(C) – The quest continues

Yet again, daily life has interrupted my personal journey.  I am the first one to admit that I tend to put EVERYTHING else ahead of my own personal progress.  I like to read quite a bit, and I do find that I tend to get reading, follow a link here or there on a subject of interest and the next thing I know three hours have passed and I’m nearly late for work (AGAIN!).  There are people that have labeled this affliction as “Tammy Time”, or relative time, or blamed Grandpa for it (he’s always fashionably late).  There’s times that I think there’s actually something wrong with my brain because organization (or lack thereof) seems to be a fleeting thing with me.

I have managed to continue reading bits and pieces of “The Joy Within”.  It actually stays in the bathroom (yes, lavatory laureate here) and I re-read bits and pieces of the first chapter over and over.  The lessons are actually starting to stick with me now.  If I need a moment of peace I can close my eyes and bring into a focus one of the items from my “JOY” list and within a couple of minutes, I feel re-balanced, centered, somewhat peaceful and quite happy.

There’s been a spring cleaning sort of feel in the air, and in digging through papers and associated crap in my home office I found a notebook.  Just a spring bound scribbler like school kids carry around.  I had completely forgotten it…I had started writing in it just about five years ago.  Wow, it’s hard to believe that it’s been THAT long since I made the decision to get happy again…the first entry was dated March 22, 2007.   A little over two years after my life took a dramatic turn…and a touch over four years since I’d decided to write about it.  Where has the time gone??

I think that’s the organization bug rearing it’s ugly head again.  Lack of drive?  Lack of interest?  I find that I’m learning a great deal about myself in this journey.  Not always for the better.

I do try to find the UP side to everything, however, and in this notebook I found another list.  “Things that bring me joy”  so at this point I’ll add to my original list…Or maybe this IS the original list…

1.  the RUSH associated with falling for a new guy (seems rather silly, don’t you think??)

2.  Fine things.  Fine food, fine fragrances, fine fabrics, fine chocolates.

3.  Watching my children smile at little things (at the time of writing the kids were 22, 17 and 16)

4.  Feeling like I’m in control.

5.  Driving to and exploring new places.

6.  Yoga

7.  Socks fresh out of the dryer, especially the fluffy, chenille ones.

8.  Going for a facial, although this has only happened once.

So, now I suppose its time to organize my lists, make some sense out of them, get the emotions that drove them OUT of my brain and onto paper (or the WWW, as it were) and move on with things.

I suspect there’s going to be more than one category added to this site with all over my varying lists, to-do’s, want-to-do, works in progress and so forth.  It rather feels like I’m about to pull the rip-cord on a tornado…

 

Lesson No. 1 – The Search for Happiness

Well, you can’t say that I didn’t try to obtain formal permission to blog about The Joy Within (Joan Goldstein & Manuela Soares ISBN 0-13-511338-5).  I posted a request in the forums at the Simon and Schuster website, and when that attracted nothing, I found the “contact us” form on their home page and sent an e-mail.  It’s been about 10 days now and still no reply.  So, I’m going to delve into the project without formal blessings from the author or publishers and hope that I don’t piss anyone off  in the process.

The Joy Within

Here’s the official up-sell, and if you want to pick up a copy and join me in my quest for JOY feel free.  I think it would be fun to have a few “cronies”  to compare notes with.

www.amazon.com – everyone know who these guys are!

At my age, I like to think that I’ve been there and done that (I’ll be 48 this summer, FYI).  In the grand scheme, I really haven’t.  But you develop a certain “jaded” quality with age.  I am divorced, have a number of X’s and until recently was quite content to stick my head in the sand, and just dream about building my farm (www.summerberryorganics.com).  I can’t explain it, but physically, I am precisely where I am supposed to be.  Emotionally, however, is another matter entirely.

It is said that only your soul mate can break your heart.  I agree.  I had started writing about that experience and then that project got set aside in for lack of devotion and a driving need to be as far away as possible.  This seems to be a trend with me, I start things but never truly complete them.  What I have discovered via many hours on the phone with my girlfriends (and I keep very FEW close friends) that what I’m missing in my life is MY OWN JOY.  I’ve never truly pursued ME.  There’s always been one reason or another to avoid finding my own happiness, and now, that needs to be corrected.  My nest of assorted children is just about empty, so there’s no excuse there anymore.

It’s time to really discover who I am, what makes ME tick, makes me happy, and brings me joy.  

The lessons in The Joy Within are broken down into Outer Focus and Inner Focus exercises.  The first exercise is to make a list of what makes me happy.

My list seems to be REALLY, REALLY long.  I have found that in compiling my list that I find I keep adding to it.  The “list” is seemingly never complete.  It also seems to give me an excuse to NOT get to the Inner Focus exercise which is actually doing the meditation.

The pattern repeats itself.  I know that I have a true gift for procrastination, and am not entirely certain how to fix that.  I’m sure that answer will come along with all the others I seek.

SO, to get busy here – the SHORT list…THINGS THAT BRING ME HAPPINESS:

Money – this has to be number 1 on the list.  I have a huge hang up about security and money.  I will tolerate pretty much anything to make sure the bills are paid and there’s food in the cupboard.  I suspect this stems from not being able to really MAKE a lot of money at any given time.

Skating – I LIVE to ice skate.  Currently I have been blessed with coaching assignments in three small towns.  When I enter those rinks, skate bag in hand, the entire world ceases to exist!  My feet hit the ice, the music plays, the students smile and start their practices.  It’s the closest that you can get to flying without ever leaving the ground!

Going to work – I know this seems a little out of line with the standard definition of being happy, but I truly enjoy my job as a grocery clerk in the local retail.  The customers, the ever changing inventories of food items, chatting with people.  I don’t make bugger all for money (retail wages, well, they suck) but I feel great when my shift is over.

Summerberry Organics – this will be “the farm” one day.  I like to think of it as a painting that will never truly be finished.  When I leave this world, I would like my ashes distributed there.  There is peace, solitude, a blank canvas.  www.summerberryorganics.com

Roses – To me there is perfection in them.  I’d have to say I like red ones the best, mostly because I’m a romantic fool at heart.  A single rose says more than any bouquet.  They are a perfectly simple, perfectly profound statement in a single flower.

Stars – Every so often I will open my eyes in the morning and there will be a single, bright star shining through the spruce tree outside my bedroom window.  These seem to be the BEST days for me.  That star fills me with hope.  Hope for my future.  It’s an assurance that everything will be fine.  One day.  Where I live, we have vast open skies.  There’s many nights when the weather is clear that I will just stand outside and stare up at them.  I give thanks to them for being there.  I marvel at them.

Sunrise – This may seem a little silly.  After all, who DOESN’T like sunrise.  There are days when I’m actually UP before sunrise (see note about the star above).  With coffee in hand I venture outside and just stand there and watch.  I wait for the sun to blaze over the tops of the houses along my street and I just stand there in it.  I let the rays wash over me.  I find them cleansing.  I will say a prayer in honor of the new day.

There you have it.  The SHORT list.  Now to get on with the INNER focus of the exercise.  I’m not sure which item I will start with.  I have read through the prefaces and the introduction.  I think the hardest part of settling down to the inner focus will be quieting my own mind.  It’s a total chatterbox!  I need to be able to enter a mode of “no thought” in order to properly visualize that which brings me joy.  I think achieving the “blank brain” zone is going to be the hardest part of all.

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