Friday, June 28, 2019

Berry delicious

Fresh-picked raspberries; pic does
not do bowl size justice...
It's the season for fresh berries, and here's a great tip for preserving that just picked flavor: make fruit leather! We tried this a couple of years ago and a friend liked it so much she said we should package it and sell it. Dang. Now that's a vote of confidence. 

Easy, healthy and delicious snack

While I can't take credit for making it myself, I picked the berries and then watched the procedure, and it's pretty darned easy. Blend fresh berries with SCOBYs  from your homemade kombucha, spread thinly on parchment paper or silicone drying sheets, and place in a dehydrator on low for about 10-12 hours (or in the oven if you don't have a dehydrator).
Finished product, coming off the silicone sheets

You can read some fun editorial along with instructions in Bon Appetit (go figure!), or on the Wellness Mama blog. Unlike Bon Appetit, though, we didn't use kombucha in the mixture, and we didn't add any herbs for flavor, as Wellness Mama did, nor did we add sugar (I don't think it's needed). 

Once the fruit mixture is sufficiently dry, wrap it in wax or parchment paper (if you used silicone sheets), then store in glass or plastic. This deliciousness will keep indefinitely; it'll last an entire year if stored in the freezer, assuming you can keep it around that long. Not only does it taste like fresh raspberries, but you'll do your microbiome a favor with the probiotics from the SCOBY. 

Thirst quencher

And here's a quick idea for a refreshing beverage, thanks to my cousin Gin, co-host of the YouTube channel, Almost Homestead. They have a cabin in the Cascade Mountain foothills, near Mt. Index, and they have great tips for living more sustainably. 

An easy and refreshing beverage
Place fresh fruit or berries in a Mason jar, add some sugar and fresh cut ginger, fill with water and put the lid on. Let it sit a couple of days, giving it a shake here and there, and then drink. It's a flavorful sparkling soda, with no nasty additives. You can refill with water and add more sugar to the mix at least a couple more times. 

We interrupt this program... 

Honestly, this post could have been about self-preservation after the few weeks I've had, but berries are a much lighter and prettier topic. And this blog is all about growing, after all, whether it's growing things or growing self. 


If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find me here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Extra grace required...

While some may call these weeds,
some of us appreciate their presence.
Extra grace required... 

I heard this statement on Sunday at the spiritual center I often attend. The talk that day was a Father's Day tribute to all the men who love, nurture, and teach. 

My grandfather was my father figure; he left the mortal plane when I was 9. But love, nurture, and teach he did during those scant short years, and his lessons and love endured. I am forever grateful. That said... In the coming years, starting at about age 12, I needed a whole lot of extra grace.  

Thankless work 

Parenting is a lot of work at the best of times, and while there are countless books available about how to do it better, it's one of those things we only learn through experience. While I don't have children of my own, I dipped my toes into that icy water during a stint as a step-mom. To say I needed extra grace, as did my step-daughter, would have been an understatement at the time. 

We will all need extra grace at one time or another. And likely many times over; as humans, we're all just making it up as we go.  

Our deepest desire is to be loved

Extra grace came up while talking about love: Those who are easy to love need our love the least because they love themselves; those who are hard to love need our love the most. And they need extra grace, because they don't love themselves.  

Referencing the biblical verse from the book of Matthew, love your enemies, we were asked from the podium if we could all think of someone who was hard to love (including those holding high political offices). Um, yeah... I can think of a few. While the center isn't Christian- nor Bible-based, the Good Book occasionally comes up as a source of wisdom and lessons, filled with great stories and parables from which we can all learn, even if we question their validity as truth.  

Tough love, love tough...

We also heard a few examples. One in particular stood out: Blues musician Daryl Davis, a black man, armed himself with knowledge and then befriended Klansmen, which eventually led to at least 200 of them giving up their robes. Initially brought together through music, he took the time to listen, talk, and learn, and yes, extend grace.  

This reminded me of a story I read a while ago about Derek Black, a former white nationalist and son of Stormfront's founder, one of the most extreme hate groups in the country. Derek was being groomed by the Klan's grand wizard to be the next leader of the movement. But while attending college in Florida, Derek hooked up with a new set of friends who were gay, Jewish, and immigrants. Love, knowledge, and grace made him see the light and walk away from hate. You can read his words here in the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report.  

While these are extreme examples, we all know people who need extra grace. With a little bit of grace, change is possible. And if the seemingly worst of the worst can be granted grace by those they've harmed, can't we all do that? 

And again, gratitude... 

I count my blessings every day for the grace I've been given over time: for losing my temper, doubting myself, doubting others, acting out, outright failing at life sometimes. I am as human as the rest of us, after all. And the only way we continue to grow and expand is to be, do, and sayfor which there's no real blueprint. Mistakes are inevitable;  hence, grace. 

Love your enemies... bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you... 

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find me here.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

What to do when tempers flare

BC Ferries - loading at Tsawwassen
I didn't realize it at the time but I got to practice a 'light' version of a crucial conversation the other day. It wasn't all that crucial, really, but after the fact, I realized it fits the format described in the book, Crucial Conversations

I am amused by this. 

One of the hardest things couples do is negotiate and compromise. It doesn't come naturally but it can be learned, and it's essential to a lasting relationship unless you want to live in a perpetual stalemate. 

Who gets to be right? Is it worth it? 

OK, so why I'm amused... 1) because of the seeming pettiness of the argument, 2) how quickly it spiraled downward, 3) the awareness that it could have become so much worse, and been about all kinds of other old hurts or beliefs, and 4) that I saw this so clearly and quickly right after it happened. 

Seek to understand... 

My SO and I are planning a trip to Victoria for the Celebration of Life for a friend's partner (I wrote about my recent ill-fated visit here). SO wants to take the Victoria Clipper. I want to drive and go by way of the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.  

Twice this came up in conversation, and twice it led to a near-fight because we couldn't agree. Twice we both walked away before the fight became real, tempering ourselves, noting there's no right answer when we both want what we want in the heat of it. Full disclosure, though: At one point I even told him I'd go by myself, or that he could take the Clipper and I'd meet him there (emotional intelligence, anyone?). I also stated we have more time than money right now, and he reminded me I really don't have a lot of time, either. 

So, shortly after the last escalation, I calmly explained my rationale for driving (secret agenda: I wanted to be understood, and ideally, have him change his mind). 

That prompted him to explain his rationale for the Clipper (did I seek to understand? Sadly, in that moment, no... but I listened). 

Time vs money vs adventure

Him: He has grown to hate going to Tsawwassenit's nearly two hours to the border, there's the border crossing, the ferry wait, and then the hour-and-a-half long ferry. It's not cheap, although right now the dollar is in our favor (part of my argument for). And, he wants adventure; he tries to never go the same way twice if there's an alternative, and he's adamant I need that, too (shhh... he's right). And finally, he's never taken the Clipper. 
Gulf Islands, BC, in between Tsawwassen
and Sidney, BC (ferry landing for

Me: I want to drive so I have my car when we're there, in part to run errands for my friend if needed and to not add to her burden by having to pick us up or drive us around. Driving and taking the ferry from Tsawwassen takes more time, especially if there's a ferry wait, but it's also less expensive. The Clipper is inflexible; we're stuck to a very specific round trip schedule, which makes me feel a little like a caged cat. 

Light bulb! 

Um... well... there are other options we hadn't considered, not readily remembered. Neither alternative is particularly convenient but each potentially addresses both needs. There's the Blackball ferry, Coho, from Port Angeles to Victoria, which we nixed because of both cost and time, but there's also a Washington state ferry from Anacortes to Victoria. 

Us: I can reserve my space and bring my car, it's not more expensive to choose one way (and keeps our options open for the return trip), it's a route neither of us have taken, it's through a different set of islands, and while it takes as much time as the BC ferry and we'll be up before dawn to drive to Anacortes, it's a little less expensive than either of the other options. 

Remember the why... 

It's all about the why, my friends. When we're trying to solve problems, big or small, with significant others, friends, coworkers, or anyone, really... when we can step back from the 'what', let go of the need to be right, and explore the 'why'... we often see a new path that satisfies both. 

Or, as Richard Bach wrote in Jonathan Livingston Seagull, "...look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you'll see the way to fly." 

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find me here.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

16 simple steps to change your past and create your future

Where do you
want to go? 
I've spent a lot of time working on mindset and on letting go of my past. I had plenty of stuff happen to me throughout my life, particularly my teen years, as I've written about here on occasion. 

There are days I still feel like I'm far behind where I could have been if I'd had better parents, better teachers, better role models. But I didn't. And as an adult, I am the only one responsible for where I am in my life. Sure, I was a little slow off the mark. I'd like to be financially independent like some of my high school mates. But I'm alive, and some of those high school mates aren't. There are no guarantees. 

We all make choices, even if they're unconscious. Our patterns and beliefs served us at points in time. We developed coping skills and habits to move us along in the world. But at some point, we have to look at whether these continue to serve us or hinder our progress. A lot of the time, they stop us from having the life we want. 

Our roadmap

I've written about Landmark's Forum, too. A few questions I took away, all those years ago, are:
  • what did you make it mean?
  • what's the payoff?
What those two questions refer to are the incidents that happened to us and the meaning we assigned them. Even pre-verbal, we can assign meaning to something that directly impacts our self-worth, but most often, it's something that happened when we were kids. Sometimes it's truly something heinous. I totally get that. I had a few of those things. Big things. Things I'm still not comfortable writing about here. But at some point, we have to decide if that's the roadmap we want.  

Problem is, a lot of us don't even know it's a map. But it is. How we interact with our past shows up in how we interact with the world. Is the world a friendly place? Is there enough to go around? How do you make your presence known? Do you often feel bad about what happened to you, or someone else? (Just so you know, they may be over it...)

Change your story...

We CAN change our past. No, we can't change what happened, but we can change how we see it, feel about it, and our response to it, which really does change it. Our minds are amazing things... We have the power. 

Edwene Gaines, a Unity minister in Alabama, overcame a life of poverty and tells her compelling life story in The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity. In a vignette that illustrates the power of changing our story about something that happened, she talks about changing her consciousness around sexual abuse, and the gift of an understanding heart that came from that. That's huge. I'm not suggesting you do that, but, how we view our past plays out in our future in one way or another.  

It's worth doing the deep work to uncover these beliefs, habits, world views, and coping mechanisms. Because if we don't know they're there, they will drive us based on that existing map, full of potholes and dead ends, and keep us from getting where we want to go. Or at least, it'll take a lot longer to get there.  

Don't believe me? Try it.  

Simple, but not easy

So, in that vein, I have a list of steps for your consideration that can help you change your past and create your future. They're things to note and things to do, all simple, but not easy: 
  1. When you focus on whatever happened in your past, you give it power
  2. When you focus on that past event, you give it meaning
  3. Consider: how real and true is the meaning you gave it? was it someone else's opinion, and if yes, why did their opinion matter, and does it still? 
  4. Now: assign new meaning to whatever happened to youwhat good came from what happened? Feel it, believe it, know it in your bones. Make it real. 
  5. And, devalue whoever else's opinion played in, because their opinion has less weight than yours; you are the expert on your life and who you are
  6. Ask yourself: what's the payoff? Do you still get value by reliving what happened? For example, some of us like to be right, and by living in our past, we get to be right, or we get to be a victim, and not take responsibility for where we are in your lives
  7. Ask yourself: what did you learn from what happened to you that has value for you now
  8. Own that something good came from your experience
  9. Forgive anyone who harmed you, or yourself, for harming yourself or others
  10. When old tapes start to play restating that meaning, or that opinion, hit the stop button on your internal stereo
  11. Put in a new tape that brings you joy; what do you want to tell yourself instead? You get to make it up, just like you did the first time, only this time with more wisdom and knowledge to draw from
  12. Give yourself room to dream and create a better future
  13. Decide that you deserve to have better problems, and that you can't carry the world on your shoulders
  14. Do what's yours to do and let go of the rest, trusting that we all have something we can do, and we do it the best we can
  15. Stop caring what anyone else thinks, and let go of the need for permission; chances are, if you're reading this, you're an adult, and you don't need permission, and anyone else's opinion of you or your actions is none of your business
  16. Remember: all that old stuff doesn't serve you now unless you're getting a payoff, and then you have to ask if the payoff is worth it. All that old stuff showed up to keep you safe, but if you want to grow, evolve, and flourish, you have to change your mind about your experience and give it new meaning.
And a bonus step: To quote Richard Bach in Jonathan Livingston Seagull, "argue for your limitations and they're yours."

If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find me here.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The art and practice of forgiveness

Roses are the flowers of love,
a true love stronger than thorns. 

Forgiveness is the ultimate
act of love. 
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we do, along with self-compassion. Forgiveness isn't about forgetting, or letting someone off the proverbial hook. But it is about letting go, and creating space for peace of mind. 

Forgiveness also isn't about doing something for someone else; while it is a gift to them, it's an even bigger gift to yourself. 

Practicing forgiveness

I had an experience last weekend that took me by surprise, and triggered an emotional response that I in no way expected. 

So now, I'm trying to find space within myself to forgive: my friend, who's grieving a major loss and lashed out in anger, and myself, for not anticipating that something I said could be received in a way I hadn't intended, and for my teary and completely befuddled and reactive response. I believe fully that the few words I chose were said with no intent to minimize or take away from her in-the-moment experience. And, that's how they landed.     

...Holding space

Holding space for someone isn't easy. It's being present and allowing what is to just be. It's stillness, understanding, grace, and getting our egos out of the way. It's also forgiveness. 

As Amy Wright Glenn writes in Holding Space, On Loving, Dying and Letting Go, we fear holding space in part because we don't want to say the wrong thing. "We don't want to add to the pain and suffering." Of course we don't. I certainly didn't. And yet, even though my words came from love, and while in no way meant to add to or even ease suffering, they were heard in ways I didn't and couldn't predict.  

Under normal circumstances, my friend would assume positive intent... (the only kind of assumption we should ever make, by the way, and one we should make often), but grieving such a loss isn't a normal circumstance. 

Letting go...

Surrender. Forgive. Let go. Those are the words that keep coming up for me as I process my own experience this last weekend. We all do the best we can in any given circumstance with the knowledge and capability we have. I know this to be true, in this case for her and for me; I also know "one's best" may be different every day, every moment, and that not everyone will see one's best in the same same way.  

Relationships are truly the hardest things we do, and there are times when I want to throw up my hands and say, "I'm done!" and isolate like my mother did. But that's not the answer. 

Practicing presence

Show up. Listen. Witness. That's what we do for the grief-stricken. I did those things, as well as cried, held, and honestly said few words.  

I'm not a therapist, and I know better than to wear my coaching hat when not asked. I showed up as a caring friend and nothing more. And yet, my few words were interpreted as the wrong words, words that apparently felt invalidating and unsupportive of her feelings and her need to be present with them, pushing her along before she was ready. 

I know myself well enough to know I wouldn't invalidate or not support. We must go through our experience, and the more we can dive in, bathe in it, breathe it in, the more meaningful and powerful it will be for us. It's necessaryand yes, it's necessary for healing. 

Because we do heal from loss and grief. 

And while loss stays with us until we, too, say goodbye to the mortal plane, it won't always be our daily moment-by-moment experiencehard as that may be to hear when we're right there in it. We must stay in those depths for as long as it takes. There is no timeline for grief, and there are no shortcuts. The one caveatif after a period of time (for many, it's typically one to two years), we're still overcome with sadness and can't find joy in any part of our lives, we may need to get help from a skilled outside source.  

The tension of opposites...

There is both beauty and anguish in grief. I know this from personal experience; I've had many losses throughout my lifemost of my immediate family, many extended family members, and some of my closest friends have died too young, lost to disease, drugs, depression, and accidents. In my earlier days, I endured huge abandonment issues that still show up on my very worst days. 

What I know most of all is how grief shows up differently for all of us. We each have our own process, and it's even different each time. There is no pushing through. We must feel what we feel, because there are consequences if we don't. 

So... we must give ourselves and those we love a lot of grace, and the room to make mistakeswe must hold space for and forgive again, and again, and again. Because dammit, there is no great love without great loss. 


If you like this post, or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coachingyou can find me here.