Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quotes I Like

"I love you more than life itself...but you're all mad."
-Ozzy, speaking to his family

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Here Lies Mary

Ever since I was little my dad always told me that when something goes wrong or maybe unexpected in my day, not to feel sorry for myself or walk around saying how rotten my luck is, but instead to think about what lesson I learned from the experience, or what God is trying to tell me. In my own life, I have incorporated with that, the fact that I strongly believe in karma, and that a lot of the bad things that happen to us in life are direct results of wishing bad things on people, cheating, or lying.

Well, I haven't done any of those things lately, so I've concluded that what happened to me today must have been God trying to teach me something.

I'm off work today, and had planned to make the most of my day. I got up relatively early and headed for the grocery store. It was one of those weeks that I needed to make a really big run. While I was there, I saw the loveliest bunch of peach colored roses on the clearance table, and decided this might be a good day to drive over to the cemetery and place them on my mother's grave.

So after I finished at the grocery store, I made the short drive to the cemetery. I won't lie....I don't like to go there. I know my mother isn't there, but it is a place to honor her, and two or three times a year, on a whim, I like to ride over and place something on her stone.

When I pulled up, I felt the anxiety start to build, and I decided I would make this trip very quick. I left the keys hanging in the ignition, and walked up to the gravesite. After a few words to my mom and a few tears, I laid the flowers across her stone and headed back to the car. When I got there, I had a sickening discovery. The doors on my car were locked. Not only were my keys hanging in the ignition, but my purse, my cell phone, and about $230 worth of groceries were inside.

After trying all the doors and the hatch, I finally conceeded that I was indeed locked out of my car. I decided to walk up to the cemetery offices, in hopes they'd let me use a telephone to call AAA. With temperatures on the rise, I hoped they'd get there quickly before milk and lunch meat started to spoil.

As I walked the distance to the office, I felt frustrated. Of all the days! And all the places to be stuck! And my groceries! My kids were home alone. What if there were an emergency and they were trying to call me? But suddenly, frustration started to subside, and I started thinking about my dad, and his philosophy on "bad luck".

Inside, I met the nicest lady. Her name was Judy. She got me a bottle of water, and insisted I sit down in the cool office for a bit. She told me she would have her maintenece crew come take a look at my car. She knew they had a tool for popping locks. The guys showed up and once again, couldn't have been nicer. With sweat pouring off him, the fellow finally gave up and said I should go on and call AAA.

Another trip walking back up to the office, and precious minutes ticking away on my groceries, but I remained calm. AAA said they'd have a truck out for me in less than 30 minutes. Judy offered to let me sit in her office, but still convinced God had some type of lesson for me, I declined the offer and went outside.

At first I just stood there. Then a relief carving of the Last Supper caught my eye. It was under a giant oak tree and there was plenty of shade. I walked over and studied it for awhile, deciding to touch the hand of Jesus before I left.

Then I spotted another large oak, several yards away. Something was calling me to walk to it, so that's what I did. As I walked, I started looking at all the headstones along the way. That's when I realized God's plan for me today.

The first head stone was for a boy named Jason. I noticed he was 20 years old when he died. I wondered what had happened to him. "Beloved Son and Brother". I thought about how sad his family must have felt.

Next, I noticed a vase had fallen over, and all the flowers it contained had spilled out. I walked over and picked it all back up and put it in place. They belonged to someone named Mr. White. I wondered about him too.

As I walked along, I noticed most stones had some type of art carved into them. Lots of crosses, angels, bibles, and pictures of God and Jesus, but lots of other things too. Many had wedding rings intertwined. "Together Forever". Some had dates that people had married. Some had religious symbols that weren't really familiar to me. But there were other things that were more interesting; such as a Masonic symbol, a police badge, a butterfly, a peace symbol, a hummingbird, an antique car, a Hang Loose symbol (from Hawaii), and a cat. Those are only the ones I can remember. I didn't have paper with me to write them all down.

I thought to myself, these are the things that were important in these people's lives. This is a symbol of the footprint they leave behind. I began to wonder about my own legacy. What would be important enough to me to carve on my head stone? What words would be there? What symbols? I just kept thinking I wanted it to be something more than "She sure loved her cat".

As I pondered that question, I saw the AAA truck turn the corner. The driver told me this was some type of safety feature on my car. It locks when you leave the keys in the ignition. I guess it's so someone can't steal your car, but it was an inconvenience to me. Or maybe it wasn't. Maybe I need to think about my life, and the legacy I want to leave when I exit this world. And I think that's what I'll do.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Let's Just Get This Over With

Later this week my sister and her daughter will both be in town for a visit. While they are here, one of the things on the list is to divide up my mom's jewelry. It's been over three years now since Mom died, and the jewelry is still right where my dad put it all--in a little velvet bag with a rope on it.

I realize it's just material things, and it means nothing to Mom anymore, but for some reason, the thought of dividing up her things just seems wrong to me. It's going to be very uncomfortable. I almost feel like we're pillaging her possessions. And somehow I feel a sadness for my Dad in all this. Like maybe he's thinking "Let the greedy daughters take what they want and go."

My mom didn't have a lot of expensive jewelry. In fact, the only thing I want is the Sicilian Hex ring ("My Mom" dated August 14, 2009). I'd like for my daughter to have a little something too. Other than that, they can have it all. I just want this to be over with, and I don't want there to be any arguing or hard feelings. It's not worth it. And I don't want to do this around my Dad. I think it would hurt him. And I'm quite sure if even one harsh word is spoken by any of us, he would snap. I hope they will just come to my house and let's get it done.

It would have been nice if Mom had written down her wishes for all her personal things, but she didn't. My sister says she has a document that my mom gave her at some point, but she doesn't know where it is. This only complicates things, because she thinks she knows who's supposed to get what....but she isn't sure.

I'll say it again....I just want this to be over.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Get To Know Your Food

Ever wonder how margarine is made?

Many people probably know it is made by a process called hydrogenation. But few are aware of the details of what goes on during hydrogenation.

Here is a step-by-step description of the hydrogenation process.

How is margarine made: Step 1

Margarine makers start with cheap, poor quality vegetable oils, such as corn, cottonseed, soybeans, safflower seeds and canola.

These oils have already turned rancid from being extracted from oil seeds using high temperature and high pressure. Rancid oils are loaded with free radicals that react easily with other molecules, causing cell damage, premature aging and a host of other problems.

The last bit of oil is removed with hexane, a solvent known to cause cancer. Although this hexane subsequent removed, traces of it are inevitably left behind.

Moreover, some of these oils are not suitable for human consumption to begin with.

Cottonseed oil, one of the most popular margarine ingredients, has natural toxins and unrefined cottonseed oil is used as a pesticide. The toxin, gossypol, is removed during refining.

As cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, there are also concerns that cottonseed oil may be highly contaminated with pesticide residues. However, insufficient testing has been done.

Canola oil, which is widely touted as the healthiest oil of all, has problems as well. Consumption of Canola has been linked with vitamin E deficiency as well as growth retardation. For this reason, Canola oil is not allowed to be used in the manufacture of infant formula.

The oils used for making margarine are also among the Big Four genetically modified crops – soy, corn, rapeseed / Canola and cotton.

How is margarine made: Step 2

The raw oils for making margarine are steam cleaned. This destroys all the vitamins and antioxidants.

However, the residues of pesticides and solvents – that is, hexane – remain.

How is margarine made: Step 3

The oils are mixed with finely ground nickel, a highly toxic substance that serves as a catalyst for the chemical reaction during the hydrogenation process.

Other catalysts may be used, but these, too, are highly toxic.

How is margarine made: Step 4

The oils are then put under high temperature and pressure in a reactor.

Hydrogen gas is introduced. The high temperature and pressure, together with the presence of nickel catalyst, causes hydrogen atoms to be forced into the oil molecules.

If the oil is partially hydrogenated, it turns from liquid into a semi-solid.

Trans fats are formed during partial hydrogenation. These are fat molecules that have been twisted out of shape. In liquid oils, the molecules are bent, with the hydrogen atoms on opposite sides of each other.

During partial hydrogenation, the molecules are somewhat straightened and now all the hydrogen molecules are on the same side.

If the oil is fully hydrogenated, it turns into a hard solid that cannot be eaten. It no longer contains trans fats because the "out of shape” oil molecules have all been broken up to form straight chains. But this does not mean they have become healthy again because of all the unnatural steps above.

How is margarine made: Step 5

What comes out of the partial hydrogenation process is a smelly, lumpy, grey grease.

To remove the lumps, emulsifiers – which are like soaps – are mixed in.

How is margarine made: Step 6

The oil is steam cleaned (again!) to remove the odor of chemicals. This step is called deodorization and it again involves high temperature and high pressure.

How is margarine made: Step 7

The oil is then bleached to get rid of the grey color.

How is margarine made: Step 8

Synthetic vitamins and artificial flavors are mixed in.

A natural yellow color is added to margarine, as synthetic coloring is not allowed!

In fact, early last century, all coloring was not allowed and margarine was white. This was to protect consumers so that they do not get butter and margarine mixed up.

How is margarine made: Step 9

Finally, the margarine is promoted to the public as a health food – with the full endorsement of many scientists, doctors, nutritionists and health authorities.


Like so, so many of the products we consume today, margarine is not even a real food. Butter, made with cream, is a real food. Eat real food.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


A wonderful thing happened yesterday. Our television died. I came home and my husband prepared me for it the way you'd prepare someone if you were about to tell them the dog ran out in the street and got hit by a car. For a minute, we both sat there staring at the picture as it spun around in a circle. We just stared and stared, like it was suddenly going to get better. It did not. We said some words over the body..."Well, it lasted eight years. That's a long time for electronics these days." "Well, it was really looking outdated anyway. It was quite large and today's sets are much smaller." "We got a lot of good years from it. MAYBE it can be fixed!" Then (and that's where the wonderful part comes in), we turned it off! Silence for a minute, then my husband went to the cabinet and selected some Beatles music. He turned it on, and we sat on the couch together, listening to it. It was just like the old days, back when we were dating. We'd say "There's a lot of George in that song", or "I'm sure Paul wrote that." "Don't forget to give credit to George Martin".

It was a great night. Frankly, I hope we don't replace the television for awhile!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Peace In The Pool

During my recent trip to Florida, I wound up having a morning all to myself. I ended up at the pool, and I was the only person there. At first I felt uncomfortable, and a little bored. Then, I had a phone conversation with Sally, who suggested I use the time to meditate, pray, and ask God for peace. And in typical Sally fashion, I knew she meant that I ask it not once, but several times...and out loud.

So I got in the pool and began to swim long, slow laps from one end of the pool to the other. As I swam, I tried to release all negative energy from my body and I said out loud "God, please help me find peace. In this this this this week. And please give me the ability to recognize it when you show it to me". I said this prayer out loud, over and over, and over again, until I began to find peace. Until I began to relax my mind and my body.

In our culture, we are busy all the time. There's always noise; either from people talking, the television, music, or traffic. But in many other cultures and religions, people understand the value of meditation, prayer, and silence. Some people go so far as to spend weeks or months in temples and ashrams, in silence--in prayer. Being alone, being quiet, and opening our minds and our bodies are way more powerful than we may realize.

In the days following the quiet time at the pool, I have repeated that prayer dozens and dozens of times. Thank you Sally, for once again pointing out the simplicity of finding God, who is always in us, around us, through us, near us, and within us, just waiting for us to reach out and ask for what we need.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Silhouette of a Beautiful Girl

Shortly after my mom passed away, the family and I took a trip to San Diego to visit my mom's brother and his wife. When I walked in to the room where we were staying, I noticed a photograph leaning up against the mirror. It was a picture of me, that was taken during my family's first visit to California, when I was about 13. I instantly remembered the trip, and even the day it was taken. It was the first time I'd ever been to the beach. I flipped the photo over, and on the back, in my mother's handwriting was written "Silhouette of a Beautiful Girl". I sobbed like a baby.

Two nights ago, I was on the beach in South Florida with my husband, my kids, Kitty and her husband. We had walked down for one last look at the ocean before we ended our visit with them. I was feeling very emotional, as I had a couple of times during this trip. While we were there, I heard Kitty instruct my daughter to turn around for a photo. It was dark, but when the flash lit up the night I saw my own beautiful young daughter standing there in the exact same pose as the photo of me. "Silhouette of a Beautiful Girl" was all I could think of.

Tears began to stream down my face, just as they are right now. I was praying that no one would be able to see me since it was dark. I just couldn't understand how everyone else was so happy, and I was standing there on the dark beach with big wet tears gathering in a pool on my throat.

I'm still not completely sure what emotions I was feeling. Grief for my mother? Sadness at leaving Kitty? Hormones? Returning to the real world? Work? I'm only sure of two things--Looking at this photo, I KNOW I have everything in the world to be grateful for, and I'm so tired of these random bursts of sadness.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Different But The Same

Our lives are all so different.

My house is busy and often chaotic. Kids running in and out, school papers littering the kitchen counter, barely having time to get in the door from working all day before I have to start cooking dinner. Then, if I'm lucky, throw in a load of laundry and wipe up the kitchen before I have to do it all over again tomorrow.

Sally's life is similar to mine, except throw in the fact that she has to be mother AND father, and has very little help with her busy family.

Madison and Scarlett are single, and can come and go as they please, right? No, not really. They both live with other people (at least right now), and have to plan around their schedules too. Both have been known to check in to a hotel to get some peace and quiet.

Miss Pamela, Kitty, and Mystical would appear to have quieter, more serene lives. But there's animals to take care of, and jobs are very demanding and often extremely stressful.

I guess my point is that all of us have our struggles in life. They just aren't all the same. Some of us struggle with money, some don't. Some of us have clean and tidy houses, some don't. Some of us have challenging marriages, some don't. Some of us have high stress jobs, some don't. Some of us have self esteem and body image problems, some don't. Some of us battle anxiety and depression, some don't. There are challenges with children and other family members. Many of us deal with addicts in our lives and sometimes in our homes. There are secrets that are locked away in rooms that will never be opened. Some of us are codependent; well most of us are codependent, to some degree and in some ways, whether we realize it or not.

We all have challenges in this life. They aren't always the same, but we all have them.

I know that whatever the challenge, and whoever the friend, it is imperative we stick together. I've said it before, I'll say it again. There's nothing a group of strong women can't handle. Men may come and go, and they have. But in my life, my network of friends is what keeps me sane.

If you've ever walked me through a crisis, or talked me down from an anxiety attack--thank you. If you've loved me unconditionally on one of my crazy days--thank you. If you've listened to me, even though you didn't know what to say to make it better--thank you. I hope I'm able to do the same for you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Listen For A Minute

I have a terrible habit of changing a conversation around and making it about me. In my mind, I believe I do it to show the person I'm conversing with that I'm relating to their story--it happened to me too! It may go something like this:

Friend: I'm really down today. Something terrible happened at work and it's really affected me.
Me: Oh no! What happened?
Friend: I had to fire one of my employees for consistently being late.
Me: I know what you mean...that exact same thing happened to me once. This girl was so sweet, and I know she was only late because she's a single mom and had trouble getting her kids to day care on time, but rules are rules, and it's not fair to everyone else....blah, blah, blah, blah blah.

But I'm learning that when you are conversing with someone and constantly change the dialog to be about yourself, what you are really saying is "What I have to say is more important that what you have to say". "Enough about you, let's talk about me", or "Frankly, I'm not interested in your problems, so I'm going to change the subject and talk about mine".

I really hate it when people do that to me, but I know I sometimes do it too.

How do you become a better listener? I guess like anything else, it takes practice. Practice, and the patience to relax your mind and listen. I think that's why I'd never be a good therapist. I'd want to do all the talking.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Random Sunday Thoughts

Just some of the stuff rolling through my head this quiet Sunday morning...

A line from the book "Eat, Pray, Love" keeps sticking in my head. "Search for God like a man with his head on fire searches for water". I've mentioned this a few times lately, but more and more, I feel this life is a test. A test for getting closer to God. I've never believed in reincarnation, but I am beginning to wonder if we are sent back again to continue our journey. To redo the things we failed at the other times. It's a controversial subject, and I don't want to go "Shirley McClain" on my readers, but it is a thought that has been heavy on my mind. You keep taking the test until you get it right. Until you really, truly understand what it's all about; because the more I'm around different people, the more I know there are a lot of us that just don't get it.

I'm thinking of my friend Marty-Marr today. This week will mark one year since he lost his mother. Marty-Marr, you are in my heart.

A friend came to me a couple of days ago with the problem of beating herself up over a mistake. Something I just wrote about in this journal. Funny how I could see so clearly how she needed to let it go and forgive herself, but I have such a problem doing it myself. Friend, if you are reading this, I hope you have moved on and put it out of your mind.

I saw a little girl the other day, who was probably about 11 years old, and probably about 200 lbs. Her face was as red as a beet and she was huffing and puffing walking across the parking lot to the store. This would have been a relatively rare sight when I was a kid, but today it's almost the norm. The other day in the hair dressers, I saw a dad, around 400 lbs (Biggest Loser size), with his little son of about two years old. While they were waiting, he gave the baby pink Hostess Snow Balls, a full size bag of Dorito chips, and a Bug Juice drink. We are shortening our kids lives with Cheap, Convenient, pre-packaged, processed foods. We are killing them with fast food, and unhealthy school lunches. White milk and water have been replaced with sugary flavored milk and soda pop. And I really don't see any end in sight. I feel like it's being laid upon my heart to do something about this, but I don't know what.

My head is full today and thoughts are swirling more than they have in awhile. I want my mind to be still and quiet today to sort them out. I have a lot of work to do, so maybe that will help.

Have a peaceful Sunday, readers. Take time today to breathe.