A path with heart...

When I make the standard Tollhouse cookie recipe, the cookies ALWAYS seem to spread and when I try to lift them off the pan, they break apart, so I wanted a better recipe. I decided to put out a request on social media for the perfect, fool-proof  Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. 

To make it a little more fun, I enlisted the help of my mom and sister and called it, “The Great American Cookie Bake-off.”

What started as a simple quest for a good cookie recipe ended with me contemplating many life lessons.

I collected several recipes and I first noted that while the amounts differed, all the recipes called for the same ingredients. There were some variables like cold vs. room temperature eggs and room temperature butter vs. melted butter vs. browned butter, but the process was much the same; cream the butters and sugars together, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each one, then add the dry ingredients. 

17 cups of flour, 
15 eggs, 
15 cups of sugar (white, light, & dark) 
16 sticks of butter, 
and 7 bags of chocolate chips (milk & semi-sweet) later, we had 8 cookies to taste.

I assembled a crack team of tasters, (my family) to evaluate each cookie on its texture, smell, appearance, & taste. My husband asked, “How should I judge these? Should I compare them to a typical chocolate chip cookie?”

Hmm, typical, I thought, what is that?? 

“No,” I answered, “judge based on your own preference.”

The room fell silent as we all smelled, broke open and nibbled the cookies. (I had to laugh at how serious we all were taking it.)

There were occasional comments about clear winners, and clear losers, as well as surprise over great taste despite no smell.

Points were tallied, (I found out my dad is a harsh critic when it comes to chocolate chip cookies :) the discussion began and something funny happened.

Have you guessed??
I cannot believe I hadn’t thought of it…

We all had different winners!! 

We each spent a little time trying to convince the others why our choice was the right one, or why this cookie should be graded higher. In the end, there was one cookie with a small lead, but there were also several favorites. And what one person deemed the worst cookie another chose it as their favorite. My experiment failed.

I had been looking for perfection, and didn’t think about the possibility of more than one answer. I also completely forgot to consider everyone’s personal taste preferences, my own included. I had a hard time choosing just one cookie, I had several favorites.

Which got me thinking, where else in my life am I looking for perfection or the one right way, when there may be many right paths?

Years ago, my husband and I found a Carlos Casteneda quote which came to mind;

“A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you…Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question…Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.”

 Just as there was not one perfect cookie, there is not one perfect path or right way forward. The lesson is: each of us has a different truth or path and it is for us alone to discover.  And that also, like the cookies, we all share the same ingredients but, it is the amounts, or our individual qualities that make us unique.

By the way, the popular cookie was Carla Hall’s from the ABC show The Chew. Browning the butter and the combo of light and dark brown sugars was really appealing. 

My sister and I think we may try that recipe again, however we will use all semi-sweet chocolate chips this time.

 

 

 

 

#31daysofpainting

 

With just some paint and a canvas, I started what I thought was going to be a fun, creative painting activity, however, it turned out to be SO much more.

On day 1, my friend Shannon and I painted together via FaceTime. It was easy, the canvas was blank, anything was possible. I grabbed a favorite color and some modeling paste and began.

Day 2, I reached into the drawer for more paint & my hands brushed by some Gouache paints I had purchased years ago and had never used. I went with the urge and grabbed 3 tubes. With music playing, I got into a rhythm and waves of greens and blues joined the marks, circles and texture from the day before.

Day 3, while walking the dogs and listening to my favorite Pandora station, 
Yacht Rock, some lyrics caught my ear:

“Think about how many times I have fallen, spirits are using me, larger voices callin’…”

Wow, even though this song is about a breakup, the message for me was to get up, keep moving forward, and to tune in to the voices calling. 

Music and lyrics have played a BIG role in my life, so much so that before we carried 4,000 songs in our pockets, I carried a boom box. I took music with me where ever I went. It made such perfect sense to add some song lyrics to the painting: “Keep the fire..” “This is it!” “Celebrate me home” “Wait a little while..” “These are days” “Our love will light the world on its way”.

All songs which represent specific times in my life.

As the days passed, I really had to try hard not to plan or have a final idea in mind. I got quiet, tuned in, and listened to the little nudges.

On day 9, a shift occurred. Up to this point, the canvas had been horizontal. I sat before it and turned it, and turned it, and turned it, looking for moments, as my friend Kelli May Krenz calls them. This is when I saw the dream catcher, the vase turned into a bird, and a wise woman showed up. 

It was also at this point, while waiting at my chiropractor’s office, I was drawn to a purple book on the coffee table, Medicine Cards.I opened the book to see what it was about and the pages were filled with the faces of animals. I was intrigued. The book mentioned cards for the animal spirt guides and how to use the cards to find your guides and ask questions.

(I have to stop here and share, I have NEVER done anything like this before.)

I got a little anxious, hoping to find the deck since it wasn’t with the book. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor, shuffling and asking who wanted to be in my painting. 

This is when the Midnight Jaguar appeared. 

The challenge was to paint on the same canvas every day for 31 days and share on Instagram using the #31daysofpainting.  No rules, other than to make a mark each day. You could paint for one minute or several hours, up to you. We were granted 6 grace days, because you know, life happens. There was nowhere to get to, no suggested finished product. It was simply a journey.

Due to illness and some planned travel, I did not paint every day and I used more than the 6 grace days. For this “rule follower” that could have tripped me up & tapped into my need to “do it the right way,” however, the thought never occurred. What was important, was to move forward, keeping creating, and complete the project.

Day 30, I added some small details, thought about the journey and wrote a poem.

Midnight Jaguar

You came to share your courage with me
To fearlessly face the dark unknown.

 As you began to take shape on the canvas,
The lessons began to unfold.

 Don’t worry, you are not meant to “figure it out” at this time.

 Let go of your fears of being less than, allow yourself to simply be.
Embrace the unknown and flow with the mystery that is unfolding in your life.

 Bravely leap, arms open, and trust.
Look within to access the hidden light of truth.

31 days ago, I started a painting and found myself on a journey of self-discovery. 
Today I am braver, wiser and at peace knowing I’m on the right path, MY path.

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Wise Warrior Women

I belong to a tribe of wise, warrior women. 

Women who despite fear or circumstance do it anyway, keep dreaming anyway, move forward anyway. They are always there to listen, to support to encourage and when the chips are down these women rally!!

When you are deep, believing the lies, they hit you with things like this; 

“Dear Warrior Soul,

You have done the best you could do. Give yourself grace.

You don’t have to hustle for your spot in the world.

You already belong.”

Or

“Dear Hurting Soul,

No more worrying. Let your mind rest.

Live as if you are absolutely beloved

…because you are.”

Alongside these women, 

     I let the lies go, and let them go, and let them go again to live in truth.

     I establish boundaries to protect my peace.

     I feel the fear and keep going anyway.

     I write the story of my hero journey.

     I empower & encourage others.

     I am part of a collective who chooses to see others as simply a beautiful soul.

Would you like to join the tribe?

Are you tired of listening to the voice in your head; comparing & criticizing? 

Are you ready to get back to what truly matters to you?

Just as I would share with you a loved recipe or a favorite book, I share the opportunity to join us at the Gather Round Soul Restoration Retreat

If you have been on the fence about joining us, trust me and just do it! 

We’ll be saving a spot for you.

Enough

Donny Osmond’s 45 of “Puppy Love,” a record player & self-expression is what I brought to show-and-tell in the 1st grade. While the other kids were telling, I was showing my interpretive dancing skills. It never occurred to me this behavior might be odd or different. Confidence was not a word in my vocabulary, I just did stuff because I enjoyed it and I thought other people were the same way. I didn’t think about what others thought.

It wasn’t until junior high I began to see the eyes looking at me or heard what they were saying behind my back. It was also around this time we all hit puberty and began to take notice of the opposite sex. One of my friends had a “kissing party” and I wasn’t invited. I found out later it was because no one wanted to kiss me.

I was devastated and ashamed. I wondered why I was so gross.

I looked at the girls who were invited and decided right then I must need to be more like them. It was at this moment, the concept of “I am not enough” began to take root. I wanted so desperately to fit in, to be accepted.

“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

 The Gifts of Imperfection

                                                                  Brene Brown

 

For years, I did a lot of fitting in. I pored over magazines looking for the “right” clothes to wear, how to do my make-up “correctly” and what to say. I did a really good job of perfecting the outer version of myself, the “cardboard cut-out” of me, if you will. I also was really good at changing the version of myself to fit the situation, I had so many different cardboard cut-outs, but had lost the real me somewhere among them.

“Believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic.”  Brene Brown

 People can tell you “you are enough” but until you choose to believe it, nothing will change.

I am in the process of writing a book so I can share my story with others. My work with Brave Living & Brave Girl’s Club has been instrumental in me deciding, once-and-for-all, I am enough.

I am enough in all the ways I am, all the ways I am not, in each and every moment, and sometimes I just forget.

It is human to forget.

I have tools now, for when I forget; truth cards, SoulBooks, songs, quotes, and a special little book called, “She Did It Anyway” about my hero story.

You are also enough, just as you are.

Are you ready to believe it?

 

For a free truth card kit click here or join me May 17 for a Truth Card Gathering

Light

Pass it on…

Over the past several years I, with many, have participated in the trend of choosing a word for the year.

In reflecting over 2016, looking toward 2017, and approaching the ripe age of 52, I was reminded of a story. Several years ago, I was nearing a “large” birthday and I joked that I was going to be 29 again.

My ever wise husband posed a question, “Ok, then which years are you willing to give up?”

“Hmmm…Wow! I hadn’t thought of it that way.” I answered.

“Are you going to give up the year we met? The year we married? The years our girl’s were born?” he questioned.

The thoughts stopped me in my tracks.

I wasn’t willing to give up any of those moments!

Not ONE of those incredible moments AND, amazingly, not one of the difficult ones as well.

We are nothing more than a sum total of all the experiences of our lives. Without the lows, how could we ever appreciate the highs? And without the highs, how could we cope in the midst of the lows?

My vision for my life was altered when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness in 1999 and then another in 2003. I’ve lived through pain, more pain, hospitalizations, tests, MRIs and near death experiences. Periodically I experienced feelings of sadness, guilt, shame, and failure AND at the same time experienced some truly amazing moments of love, peace, and joy.

My story isn’t special or remarkable but I’ve found freedom from the lies I tell myself that fuel those negative feelings. In sharing my story, I have found strength and a new purpose and perhaps unsurprisingly been able to help others on their journey as well.

The word I am choosing for 2017 is… LIGHT.

For me, it is about stoking the fires, keeping them bright, lighting the way and passing it on.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to sharing what I have learned, illuminating the path for others, and passing the torch.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

                                                                                     Edith Wharton

 

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