Do good, feel good

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Over the last few years, I have found myself very driven to spend a great deal of my spare time volunteering.  I have always liked helping people so this step was a natural progression in my desire to offer my time to help those in need.  With a background in hospitality and a passion for cooking, it came as no surprise to me that I have combined all of those things about myself and I have become very active with our local Food Bank.

When you weave your way into the world of volunteering, you see just how many people are right along side of you, driven by the same aspiration to lend a hand where they can.  The faces you see in your daily life suddenly become the hands behind the volunteer work that you didn’t know they were a part of.  They don’t do it for the recognition, they simply do it because they want to help.

I have been very fortunate to become a part of a group of people with a vision that continues to grow to serve our small community.  Sure, there are a few people who need more recognition than others and an occasional public pat on the back, but there are always a few of those people in every crowd.  Thankfully our intentions come from the same place and we put forth the same effort to achieve the desired results.

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If you have ever entertained the idea of volunteering, I highly recommend it.  Just knowing that your efforts make such a difference in people’s lives, regardless of where you volunteer your time, is a truly heart-warming feeling.   And there is no shortage of places that could use an extra pair of hands or two.  The amount of time you commit to volunteering is always up to you but every second you spend helping those who struggle is well worth the time you take to show other people that you care.

 

 

Life gets in the way

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I made myself a promise that I would post a blog every day through the  month of November and, although I gave it a good run, I have failed.  Yesterday was the first day I didn’t post something and, although I feel slightly disappointed, I am not going to beat myself up about it.

Trying to find something to post about every day is difficult.  Sure, I could rely on old posts or memes to get me through but that would not be me and yesterday was a busy enough day without having to make time to create a meaningful post.

Having posted every day for 18 days in a row has been a blessing.  It has re-awakened my passion to write.  It has helped me to harness that creative flow within me and has given it a chance to speak again.

Life gets in the way of our best laid plans but, if we can keep the big prize within our sights, we can overcome any obstacle to make that plan a reality. I want to write.  I want to be published, and life is not going to get in the way of that.  Even if  I miss a day or two of blogging, it just means my creativity is being stored for the days that my words will have more meaning.

Me scribere.

 

Perspective

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“We don’t see things as they are.  We see things as we are.” ~ Anais Nin

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Perspective is an interesting concept.  In an artistic sense, perspective can give a two-dimensional object the look of being three-dimensional.  It gives it depth and it tricks our brain into thinking we are seeing more than the simple lines on that piece of paper or canvas.  In effect, we are seeing a different reality.

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When it comes to the human condition, perspective takes on a whole new role.  Our individual perspective is swayed by our thoughts and beliefs and sometimes those thoughts and beliefs can cloud our judgement.  In a very different way, we are seeing a different reality.

It makes me think, if something seems to good to be true, should you ask yourself, “am I seeing it the way it is….or am I seeing it the way I want to see it?”

Finding comfort in the sounds of silence

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points of light

The opulent points of light burn me.

I turn, longing to be swallowed by the shadow,

escaping the realities of my world for just one day.

I yearn for the silence to deafen me,

to make the raucous cacophony of sound abate.

 I let the gentle vibration of my dog’s breathing

wrap me in the comfort of its vague timbre,

knowing that she is my asylum.

The rain falls gently on the tin outside my window.

Its staccato beat lures me into its embrace

and I yield to the power of its trance.

I am powerless to its rhythm.

But the silence beckons

and the sound of the rain fades.

It is only in the silence

that my truths speak the loudest.

Only then can I hear

what my heart is yearning to tell me.

And with no light to distract me,

I have no choice but to listen.

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Unplugging for a while

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It crashed.  It simply crashed and, for a few panic-stricken moments, I didn’t know what to do.  The internet went down at work yesterday afternoon and I felt like a Roombot slowly spinning in circles, bouncing off of walls and random pieces of furniture, lost in a world that was absent of instant communication.

I was moderately frightened for myself when I realized how much I have come to rely on technology.  The increasing ease and speed at which we can sail through mundane tasks makes me forget my humble beginnings of pen-pals and library sessions with encyclopedias and the Dewey decimal system.  I have become a member of a mutated generation that is driven by immediate knowledge and gratification.

I feel somewhat sad that my nephews, who are currently 17 and 14, and like-generations, will never understand what we had to endure to communicate with our friends.  Gone are the days of writing letters in long hand (do kids today even know what that is??), putting those letters in envelopes, dropping them into a giant mail box and waiting weeks, maybe months, for a response.  Making long distance phone calls to a town 15 minutes away is a thing of the past.  And don’t even get me started on the friends who didn’t have answering machines.  I’m sure I still have phone numbers burned into my finger tips from dialing them incessantly on our rotary phone until somebody finally answered.

22-amy

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Our society has gracefully surpassed hand written letters, DOS programming and the annoying pings and beeps of the dial-up connection but throughout that process we seem to have lost a bit of our patience.  If a text message is not responded to immediately, we think we are being ignored.  If an email goes without a response for 24 hours, we question if we have offended the recipient in some way.  And (God forbid) if the internet crashes, our world seems to crumble right alongside of it.

I am certainly not saying that technology and all of its advancements are not wonderful things.  If that were the case, I would not be pontificating my polysyllabic profundities through this medium.  I am simply stating that we are so anxious to feel instantaneously connected to everything and everyone that we forget how to merely connect to ourselves and slow down the pace of our lives, if only for a moment.

As ironic as it is that I am writing this post on my laptop, I feel the need to purposely unplug for at least a few hours. No Kindle, no texting, no television, no surfing the web.  I want to put a touch of history into how I spend the hours of my evening.  I want to write a letter, a real hand-written letter, to a friend I know who will only send letters this way.  I want to hold a paperback novel in my hands and I want to be able to have my brain work the way it was trained to work and not just be distracted by the millions of images on the internet.

The internet may have changed how we communicate, how we learn and how we conduct business, but it should never have the power to change us or the things that make us infinitely human.  Technology is just a tool.  And although it can teach us many things, patience and a capacity for perseverance are not contained in its syllabus.

I’m not afraid to cry

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“There is a sacredness in tears – they are not the mark of weakness, but of power.  They are messengers of overwhelming grief, and of unspeakable love.” ~ Washington Irving

~~

Having shed my fair share of tears throughout my life, this quote struck a chord deep within my emotional register.   It has always been easy for me to soak my cheeks with salty tears and I come by it honestly.  My dad wore his heart on his sleeve and many times that same sleeve was used to wipe his tears as he watched movies, TV shows and even commercials.   When my apple fell from the family tree it landed right at his feet and I’m sure that made him cry as well.

My mom was very private about her crying, although she didn’t cry frequently.  She would gracefully leave the room and gently close her bedroom door.  There were never heavy sobs heard from the other side of that door but her swollen, red eyes the next morning are what Crime Scene Investigators refer to as evidence.

Sometimes being able to cry so easily is a gift, a genuine release of emotion that feels much like a cleansing.  But the burden of  not being able to control the moments that those tears appear can also be slightly detrimental and result in swollen red eyes and a need to excuse my appearance after an unexpected cry.

 

tears

 

But, I will never take for granted this ability to show my emotion nor do I wish to change this part of myself.  I love that I can feel so deeply that life, whether it be my life or somebody else’s life, can have such an intense impact on me.  And I can take solace in knowing that the people who understand this about me, the people with whom I choose to share my emotional moments, and my tears, know that this is not a weakness but one of my greatest strengths.

Tofu or not tofu……that is the question

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I always had a preconceived notion of what it would be like.  I avoided it like the plague and since I have been enjoying my plant-based/Vegan eating, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would cave and try it for the sake of trying it.  And although my foray into Tofu may have done it a great injustice, it was just as horrible as I thought it would be.

On my day off this past Monday, I stopped into our local health food store to pick up some things to bring home for dinner.  The Polenta Bake was delicious and the Falafel, while tasty, was a bit dry.  I stepped outside of my comfort zone and bought a few pieces of marinated Tofu.  The woman behind the counter assured me that, when it was heated up, it would taste like a chicken nugget.  That should have been my first hint that it would be something that was meant to taste like food, but wasn’t real food.

(my home-cooked dinner…..without tofu)

In my quest to eat better and feel better, I have drastically changed the way I eat.  I have not, in over seven weeks, craved any of the processed food or meats that I used to eat before I embarked on this journey.  I have been truly surprised that I have not had any moments where I deviated from eating food that is essentially good for me and is in its purest form.

I get my protein from beans, nuts and oats, among several other foods, and I feel better than I have in a long time.  My quality of sleep is better, my energy is better and I have no physical symptoms of the stomach upsets that I had before I cut out all of the processed crap that I once forced my body to ingest.

I am not going to preach about plant-based eating but I will say it is a dietary change that made a world of difference for me.  And in that brave new world that includes foods that I could not have imagined enjoying the way I do, Tofu will never be one of those foods.