Sunday, November 28, 2010

Speaking of Quirks in My Personality...

...and I'm only writing this because I know all three of you who read this on a regular basis....

I just have to share (as I did with one of you at dinner tonight) that I recently started exploring the concept of chakras (note: this link is just the pure definition - which doesn't give you much to go on, but...oh, well...). I'm trying to figure out which of mine might be particularly blocked. Or spinning in the wrong direction. Or whatever it is that chakras do when they're not really in sync with you.

I know. Completely new-agey, right?

You would have been amused last night to see me half asleep with a brown stone clutched in my hand, my husband asking gently probing questions to try to figure out what was up:

David: What do you have in your hand?

[a pregnant pause...]

Me: A stone.

David: Why do you have it?

[another pregnant pause, followed by an evasive non-answer which I can't remember at the moment]

David: Ok. I hope it does what you need it to do.

Me: [falls asleep, appreciates the fact that he didn't laugh at me]

Tonight, before I wrote this blog, I was searching Google for information on the particular chakra at issue, when I noticed that he was reading the computer over my shoulder. He didn't say much of anything, and I didn't change websites.

I'm actually thinking that this is a sign of health in our marriage...that he can tolerate my amateurishly-mystic spiritual explorations. Really, you've got to be impressed - right? How many guys would put up with stones in the bed?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to dance counterclockwise around a bonfire. Ok. That was a joke. I'm actually WAY too tired to do that tonight.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I've given up sugar. Again.

For years (I'm quite serious...years and years...) I'd refrained from eating sugar. About six months ago I decided to allow myself a little sugar every now and then. (What's the harm, right?) It started with a piece of dark chocolate in the evening. That was the beginning of the end. The "slippery slope" argument doesn't hold much water when it comes to constitutional law, but it's certainly true when it comes to me and sugar.

I simply cannot touch the stuff.

Well, technically I suppose I can touch it because I cook with it. Rather excessively this time of year, to tell you the truth. Let's just say that my tongue can't touch the stuff.

It's pretty tough to be in this initial abstinence phase, but I'm reminding myself that it was a LOT tougher the first time around. I get a little bummed when I refrain from pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving or a bite-sized Snickers on Black Friday, but years ago - when I first did this - I practically had to handcuff myself to my desk to prevent myself from buying peanut M&M's at 3:00 p.m.

Oh....those peanut M&M's....

I guess I need to find some great fruit recipes - if you've never given up sugar cold turkey, you've got no idea how fabulous fruit tastes. And if you're thinking you can't do it, I'm here to tell you that it's definately do-able. I'm more passionate about chocolate than I am about anything or anyone on Earth...and I did it. Even with my addictive personality.

Of course, if you're one of those freaks who can eat one cookie a week and feel all satisfied from it then never mind. totally suck.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Approach to Pies

I love to bake. Even when I'm in one of my cold turkey "absolutely no sugar at all going into my body" periods (as I am now) - I'm the dessert queen. I particularly love to bake pies - as anyone whose spent a holiday with me will attest. My pies are moderately well-known in our family circle, but here's the strange thing about my approach:

Every year I use slighly different recipes.

You'd think I'd take a consistent approach to know, if a recipe is really good then it might make sense to keep it and re-use it the next year. But no - that approach doesn't appeal to me for some strange reason.

Part of the reason for my "new recipe every year" attitude is pure disorganization. (Keeping up with a particular piece of paper for 365 days would take an enormous amount of effort on my part.) Part of the reason is that I enjoy experimentation (thereby subjecting my family to experimentation). And...well, probably part of the reason is that I forget exactly what I did a year before so I just start all over.

Each year, around this time, I search the web for chocolate whiskey pecan pie recipes. I always use a slightly different recipe. The downside of this approach is that I'm always very nervous before folks eat my pies. Today is no exception - especially because this year I was a crazy woman and made homemade pie crust. Yikes.

I'm pondering whether I should create a Thanksgiving/Christmas recipe folder on my computer so that I could keep up with recipes. I could even include notes about the best recipes. I can't explain it but for some reason that does NOT sound like fun to me. Maybe I enjoy experiencing the unexpected every year.

Or...since I'm not eating sugar...watching my loved ones experience the unexpected.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jenn and Julie...and Julia

As I write this, I'm in the process of watching Julie and Julia and again. Again. Which wouldn't really be significant except for the fact that I don't necessarily re-watch movies (or re-read books) unless they are EXTREMELY significant to me.

I knew that there was something to Julie and Julia because I've been obsessing over the movie ever since I watched it last week. Constantly. I've wanted to re-watch it every day.'s the question for me and my (quite silent) six readers. Why is that? Why am I so drawn to this story? Have you seen the movie? If not, you really should because I promise you that this post will mean absolutely nothing to you unless you have. For the sake of this post, which is really just for my own therapeutic purposes anyway, I'm going to assume that you've watched Julie and Julia at least once and, in the process, you managed to memorize a surprising number of lines and details. If you didn't - you don't need to tell me. Really. I'll be fine without that knowledge.

The OBVIOUS connection to me is, of course, the blog angst. I know...that's what you think the connection is. Julie has my angst about the fact that no one is reading her blog. The difference (again...OBVIOUSLY...) is that in her case people began to read her blog and in my case...well, maybe not so much. But I think you're wrong. That's NOT why I'm so taken by the movie.

I don't think that's what speaks to me at all. Blogs are blogs. And 2010 is a TOTALLY different reality than 2002. I know that M, M, J and R (and sometimes even my husband) read my blog. That's enough. It's cheaper than therapy and I've yet to find a therapist who truly understands me anyway. You guys do. Writing is good for me.

I think the real connection I have to J & J is Julie's early statement to her husband that she just wants something in her life she can finish from beginning to end and that it's her ADHD that prevents her from being a good housekeeper. And... you know, for some of us it is quite, quite difficult to find a project that we will complete. Was it only me who saw the absolute truth in that statement?

Maybe so.

Or maybe the connection is just that I think food is fabulous. And I've had such an off-and-on relationship with it. Like it's some mysterious lover that dips in and out of my life at the most unexpected moments.

Or....It could be that I've been obsessed with Paris and the imagined life of An American in Paris since I was 14 years old.

Then again...

It could be the absolute truth of a husband who supports his wife and her dreams, regardless of how nonsensical or unorganized they are. The idea that someone would say - "Ok. So we live in an itty bitty, teeny tiny place and have no money...we get home from work late every night...but if you want to cook every single complex Fench recipe in Julia Child's cookbook and yell at me in between boeuf bourguinon and chocolate mousse as you crater emotionally...then, well, I guess I'll keep loving you through that adventure."

And, yes...I've heard that maybe they didn't make it...but we're talking about the movie here. NOT reality. So cut me some slack - ok?

I'm thinking there's a lot of truth in the idea that it takes a certain type of guy to put up with my tendency to obsess over odd issues. At least Julie's husband got to eat well. Mine is lucky to get HEB pre-cooked brisket that is baked in the oven instead of micro-waved.

And yet, we all have our gifts. Thank goodness for loved ones who patiently wait for mine to emerge.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Have you ever felt as if contentment was one of those outfits you see in a store window and you just have to have you fork over the credit card and you're so excited as the fashionable salesboy wraps it in tissue paper and puts it into a swanky shopping bag with fabulous handles made of ribbon?

You haven't? Maybe it's just me.

Anyway - once I get it (contentment) home, I hang it in my closet for a few days before wearing it. The problem is that it doesn't fit me as well as I thought it would. As a matter of fact, I realize it's terribly uncomfortable. Ironically, contenment makes me very discontent.

I used to buy into the notion that my discontent was depression or sadness - I no longer think that's the case. I think I'm actually reasonably happy most of the time but I'm not content. I can't (or don't want to) sit still and soak things in. I need to analyze and question and push. As soon as I think I've found where I need to be - as soon as I think I've found my comfort zone - everything starts to itch. The outfit doesn't fit anymore.

Writing about this makes me feel a little more at peace - when I started writing this post it was titled "Happiness" and I thought I was going to be all angsty about how I struggle with happiness. After reading the first paragraph, I realized that wasn't right - I'm just not content. Maybe I never will be.

Maybe that's ok.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Action for Action's Sake

On Wednesday, I checked a translation of the Bhagavad Gita out of my church library, thinking that it might serve as a useful focus for morning meditations.

That assumes, of course, that I arise and meditate on a regular basis. Which I don't. Not by a long shot. But that's a topic for another post.

Anyway - back to the BG...there's a concept in one of the very early chapters that I'm playing with in my mind. I believe it's true from a spiritual perspective but I keep thinking of all the times I struggle with this truth as compared to the very few times in my life when I seem to get it.

Here's the verse:

You have a right to your actions,
but never to your actions' fruits.
Act for the action's sake.
And do not be attached to inaction.

Leaving aside the fact that I wish there was a comma after the word "sake" and the first word of the last line was lower case like the first word in the second line, I really love this verse. As a mom, I've recently felt a shift in how I want to relate to my kids. I attribute a lot of this shift to an article I read, which inspired me to (begin to) let go of the idea that I can mold my kids to become a particular type of person. I started to really look at my kids, realized how awesome they are, and decided to just try to enjoy my time with them and support them as much as I could in the process.

So...I suppose the motherhood thing was one reason this verse spoke to me, but that's not the only reason. It's a pretty radical notion when you think about it. Pretty much every career expert out there tells us that we need to network and "build our brand" so that we can grab control of our future and of course we need to eat healthy and exercise so that we can all look like _____ [insert your concept of most beautiful man or woman here]. Cause and effect is something that we're brought up to respect - and, in my humble opinion, it matters. I want my kids to know that their actions have consequences. Otherwise they could grow up to become insensitive dolts who think the world revolves around them. Oops. There I go - trying to mold them again.


My point, and I do have one, is that it's rather interesting to play with the idea of not allowing yourself to be attached to the results of your action. In other words: you raise and nourish and love your children because those actions are what you value. You might hope that they grow up healthy and strong, and provide you with precious grandchildren in your old age - but you shouldn't be attached to that hope. One never knows what will happen.

I think I kind of get it when it comes to my writing: I'd like it if a lot of people read my blog and my words were inspiring to others - but the truth is that the act of writing and re-writing my buzzing thoughts gives me immense satisfaction. Few things make me this happy.

Here's where I really struggle with the presumed truth of the verse - dog training. The whole reason we try to teach our dogs to sit or heel or stop barking like an idiot everytime someone rides by on a bicycle is so that we can change their future actions. I guess the anonymous author of the BG might argue that we're supposed to just enjoy that time with our dog for what it is and let go of any future expectations...but I'm just not seeing it.

In other words, I'm beginning to have a somewhat yoga attitude about my kids, my writing, and even my career - but not when it comes to my dog.