Generosity and Apple Pie

I think the original saying is “motherhood and apple pie.” Which is meant to mean something wholesome. What does that mean, wholesome? Like the love of a mother and the deliciousness of an apple pie? Well I’m going to go with that and in my experience and understanding, motherhood is about generosity because moms (most, at least) give a lot of themselves to their children. Thank you, mommas.

It’s pretty cool, now that I’m an adult learning things on my own in America, I am learning American culture. While I was raised here, my parents were the main influencers of my life as a child and so I learned the world through their cultural lens. We speak Arabic to one another and so sayings and proverbs are obviously in Arabic and while many overlap in meaning, the references reflect the unique cultural nuances.

Anyhow, the purpose of this post is to express how sweet some people are and that they make life beautiful. And of course, an apple pie was involved.

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house and his wife pulled out this cool kitchen contraption that cores, peels, and slices apples all at once. It was so cool! I had never seen anything like it and I was fascinated. Fast forward to a few weeks later and one of the friends that was at our mutual friend’s house sends me a text message to say he has something for me. He wanted to meet up so he could give it to me. When we met up this is what was waiting for me:

WOW!!

I was blown away! I love gift wrapping. I understand that it is strictly ephemeral, that is, lasting only a short while but I think it’s important to appreciate things in their due time. A life lasts years, decades, but when it comes to an end, it ought to be celebrated and not clung onto. A gift is wrapped with the intention of being beautiful and enjoyed by the receiver but then it is meant to be ripped open and the contents enjoyed. While the wrapping is so beautiful and delicate it was done with the intention of a short-lived enjoyment.

Inside was the apple corer, peeler, and slicer. What a sweet gift! It totally made my day.

Naturally, I needed to make an apple pie. One to try out my new toy but two as a thank you for the gift. My friend later told me the gift was a boomerang gift, that he was benefiting from the gift himself in receiving apple pies.

 

Apple Pie

This was the first time I had made an apple pie! A two-crusted cinnamony, sweet apple pie. I actually don’t know how it turned out because I gave it away whole but it was eaten within the day so I take that as it was at least edible :).

You gotta love how kind people can be. It’s so easy to make someone’s day. I mean it’s one thing to buy someone a birthday present but a present just because you thought of them…now that’s just so sweet!

Friends

The past few days have been all about friends for me. I don’t know if our friends define us but they certainly enrich our lives.

It started the other day, one of my closest, dearest friends called me. She wanted to chat. We live only 100 or so miles from one another but we hardly get the chance to see one another. She has a newborn baby and owns a home with her husband. I work a full-time job and I am putting a lot of energy into my freelance writing. Anyhow in addition to wanting to just talk, she wanted to tell me how much our friendship meant to her. It is not often that people get raw with one another like this. I make an effort to talk about my feelings and express myself to my loved ones but sometimes it catches us off guard. After we got off the phone I was overwhelmed by love. I was so thankful to have this friend and to have received that phone call.

That same night another friend who I have known since I was a child sent me a message: “am I ever going to see you?”

I hadn’t seen her in ages. We would make plans and cancel, life would get in the way, travel, sick family members, etc. She said, “I have the next three nights available. I’m taking you to dinner, my treat.”

Luckily, I had the following night (Friday) free. She told me when and where to be and she made a reservation. We sat down and didn’t stop talking for three hours. But it was like no time had passed. She told stories about her life and of course I knew all of the characters. And same for me with her. It was endearing and again I was so thankful that someone in my life would tell me, “when are you free, I’m taking you to dinner.” I made a note in my mental notebook that I would do this in the future, when I was able and there was a friend I wanted to see and couldn’t make it happen.

Also on Friday, a friend asked if her niece could stay with me. She had never met her adult niece and had invited her to volunteer at the Jazz Festival with her. Hotels were either not available or silly expensive and I offered my place for her niece to crash. She showed up with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of Prosecco. I was again overwhelmed by joy. But the flowers and the sparkling wine were dwarfed by the human connection I had with her. We sat and talked for hours, sharing stories about our pasts, our dreams, and our families.

Last week a friend and I were going to get pedicures. While driving to the nail salon she told me she had spent a good part of the morning crying.

“Why?” I asked and before she could answer “Why didn’t you call me?”

She explained that she was moving the following week and her fiancé was scheduled to come help her move but his work wouldn’t give him the time off and—in addition to her being upset by not getting the chance to see him—now she had to pack all by herself.

I looked at her and said “I will help you!”

She went on to say I don’t want to inconvenience you and I responded by saying life isn’t always convenient but that’s why we have friends. Friends aren’t just there to take us out and have dinner with but they’re also there when things don’t go our way or as planned, they are there to help and give a hand.

“You would do that?” She asked.

Of course! The number of times I’ve had to move and someone helped me or gave me a ride somewhere or let me stay in the guest bedroom is countless. Despite how the news portrays our society, there are many more kind and helpful people than there are bad people.

As I swept pine needles on the roof of my parents’ house, I pondered all of these friendships, and many more and was thankful for them. I thought about how friendships need to be nurtured but also friends understand when life gets busy or in the way, they tell you I want to see you and I will do anything in my ability to make that happen. Friends can come to you from anywhere and what a joy it is when you meet someone you click with.

Moss hanging from the big pine tree above my parents house. Thanks to it, there are pine needles everywhere.

I know people who care about me give me a hard time for being “too nice” or “too giving.” Too giving of my time, of my things, of my heart. But I would rather go through life giving more than keeping to myself and missing out on the wonderful experiences brought to us by friends. I encourage you to stop by and see a friend you have not enjoyed the company of in a while.  Share a little time and laughs.

 

Recreate

I was pondering the etymology of the word “recreate” as I stirred awake this morning in bed.  To recreate is to make something new.  But I was thinking about it in the terms of a “recreation area” which we consider as a place for leisure and activity.  Which made me think how important leisure time is and how important it is for one to take the time for leisure…AND how leisure time is necessary for creation.

Create…is to make something.  I have always valued creating things.  In every sense of the word.  I feel alive when I create, I am forced to think, to learn.  Whether that be the creation of an idea, a card for a friend, a cake, whatever but I think creating is so important, however; you cannot create something if you do not take the time to think about it.  You can only think by simply being.  Unfortunately, we are so “connected” and stimulated at all times—bombarded with the ideas of others—that we don’t have the chance to be creative.  Creativity is “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.”  Being creative can be applied to all aspects of life: from the lunch you make for your loved ones and yourself to the way you present your class material to your students to the decoration of your home, apartment, or car.  Creativity is simply doing something thoughtfully, as in, thinking about how the act you are about to do will make someone else happy.  When I was in high school I used to bake cakes for everybody in my class’ birthday.  It wasn’t really sophisticated cake-baking; my mom and I would buy box cake mix at the Albertson’s down the street when it was on sale and store it; I had a list of the birthdays of the people in my homeroom class and I would bake the cake and frost it, stick a candle on and we would constantly have celebrations.  I remember making the batter the night before and thinking how happy the recipient would be the following day.  Knowing the feeling of someone celebrating me, I could imagine the glee of the other person as someone (the whole class) celebrated her.

I guess the point of this post is to express the importance of disconnected time and the value of creation, creating something.  I don’t care what it is, create a bouquet of flowers for your lover, for your mother.  Create something beautiful for yourself, for your son.  Whatever it is you wish to create, you need to take time to allow for creativity to come.  Go outside, appreciate the way nature arranges the flowers, allow yourself to love the way the colors of the sky turn at sunset—maybe that will inspire your next painting, or the pillows on your bed.

The last point I wish to make is that it doesn’t have to be forever.  The beauty of art is that, while it can be eternal, it is also beautiful for the moment.  A baker may spend hours creating, frosting, and decorating a cake that will be consumed in moments.  However, the time and effort spent into making that cake is not for naught.  As they say, the journey is part of the destination.  The process is just as important as the outcome.  Make every process worthwhile and beautiful.

Life is NOT too short

It’s a stormy Sunday.  I’m at home with a pot of tea and happily watching the trees sway, the rain fall; I have my classical music softly in the background and I’m doing some of my best thinking.

You often hear people say “life is too short.”  I take issue with this adage.  Life is not too short, life is beautiful and full and a different length of time and intensity for every individual.  I think what people mean to say when they say this is that one oughtn’t be restricted by convention or social pressure and consequently deny him/herself happiness and contentment.

Ferris Bueller said it well when he said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”  I guess people go through life without reflecting on their own happiness and satisfaction.  Maybe the trick to “slowing life down” or living a “long life” (however the length of time) is to do some reflection.  This can be internal, meditative, written, via conversation with loved ones, etc.  I guess the point I’m trying to make is your life is what you make it, why not make it a happy and full one.  Why not do what you love and makes you feel alive?  You have a fixed and uncertain amount of time on this earth so embrace each day.  My mom told me once when I was younger and insisted she was “no fun” was that everyone has fun differently.  Her tendency to be at home, reading, cooking, spending time with my dad was her idea of fun whereas mine at the time was going out with friends, eating out, dancing, etc.  It’s also important to share your life with people whose idea of fun lines up with yours.  (In my opinion. 🙂 ).

I am 28.  I feel like I have done a good deal of things in my life and am excited at what else life holds in store for me.  I am very well aware of my age and experiences but hope to embrace life by the horns and ride it for as long as I’m given.  The guideline for life — without sounding too prescriptive — should be one’s happiness, and of course, not hurting others.  If it makes you happy and satisfied to work a 9-5, you like the routine, then do it.  Find something you love and excel at it.  It doesn’t have to be what your father or mother or friend from the 2nd grade is doing.  Do you.

Living Life Right

I sometimes think I’m living my life all wrong.  This may sound strange because when you think of it, there is no “right” way to live life.  We do have socially and religiously imposed codes of conduct that vary by culture but every single one of those rules seems to have exceptions (like English grammar, but I digress).

Maybe it’s that every rule or “code of conduct” for living life is on a spectrum.  For example: killing is bad, except some people are OK with abortion, others not; killing during wartime is generally accepted, except for people who are complete pacifists (might I tell them about ISIS?); we have the death penalty, which is greatly contested all over the world.  So while we have these rules, there is a wide range of thoughts on how to live and opinions on them.  I don’t know if I can say what is right…who am I to impose my values and belief systems on people, all I do know is that I do indeed have my thoughts and beliefs and I have to be true to myself.  I also know that I cannot hurt others, I hope this to be a universal value but I’m afraid it is not.

Back to what inspires the thought of living life wrong.  I am a very reflective person.  I often look around and observe my life and the lives of those people around me.  While I can never fully understand what others are going through, I can learn from other peoples’ decisions and the route their life has taken consequently.  I also compare.  I have these degrees, experiences, life milestones (how we seem to measure success in our society) and while I may not have the traditional milestones that other women of my age do (husband, house, mortgage, etc), I do have my happiness, my experiences, my friends, my memories, and the peace of mind that I did it my way.  One of the song’s on the album of my life is Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” have a good listen to the lyrics:

 

At the expense of sounding incredibly religious and fatalistic, I ultimately believe that there is a rhyme and a reason for everything we do.  Maybe it’s a product of our personalities, the “cards we’re dealt,” our own desires, fears, limitations, etc. I don’t believe that our destiny is written in the stars but I do believe that every choice we make and decision we take is the fulfillment of our destiny.  How was I to know that by accepting a job, I would gain the experiences and meet the people who would perfectly set me up for the next chapter in my life?  I didn’t but that’s just it!  (This makes me think of the movie, “Butterfly Effect” from 2004.  If you haven’t seen it, you might want to check it out as it beautifully illustrates this concept, the idea that one decision takes us down a certain path but had we chosen a different option of the same decision, our life would be somewhere else entirely.)

So while I sometimes observe my friends, peers, etc. and accept that my life may be considered “non-traditional” by some, I am content with it and happy with my choices.  Because at the end of the day, I made the bed in which I sleep, I have the liberty and independence to make my own choices and if I’m unhappy with something, I can change it but I am happy and what more could a soul ask for?

Beautiful Souls on the DC Metro

I plopped down on the metro letting out a sigh and pulled out my book, “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.”  It had been a long day of work tromping around DC.  The gentleman next to me says, “I bet that’s more fun than what I’m reading.”

“What are you reading?” I inquire.

“I’m reviewing patents for the Patent Office.”

“Oh, yea? Well, this is super fun!” And I flip to the book cover and read him the title.

“Penumbra.” He says, “That’s the partial shadow of the earth on the moon during an eclipse. Umbra is the shadow of the earth that causes a lunar eclipse…well only when it’s fully covered. So penumbra must come from that.”

“Oh, really?” (I didn’t know this and quickly jog my brain for how this could be relevant to the plot – I give up, I’m clearly in to learn a lesson). He uncaps his (fountain!) pen and diagrams a lunar eclipse for me “here’s the sun, here’s the moon, here’s the earth” and tells me that many people groups a long time ago used to think “bad things” were going to happen during a lunar eclipse, when the sun hid the moon’s lights. I listen, wide-eyed and curious.  He goes on to say that in common vernacular, to eclipse someone, as in professionally or in a competition means to…

“Surpass.” I offer.

He smiles, “Yes, surpass.”

I explain the premise of the book and he tells me that it reminds him of a movie he just saw about the enigma code and both of us cannot remember the main character’s name. “I’d look it up on my phone but I have no signal. Everything is research these days.” He sighs.

We can’t take the nagging of our brains and both pull out our phones to reveal “Alan Turing” as the code-breaker. At this point we arrive at our destination and he packs away his things, adjusts his hat, and slings on his backpack; he’s a sharp but practically dressed man.

He leans in to me and points at the screen of my phone, “Close all those extra windows, they slow your smart device down.”

I chuckle at the thought of getting smart phone advice from a man old enough to be my grandfather.  As we part ways, he shifts his gaze up from the ground and says, “I’m Adam.”

I stop right outside the train car with pedestrian traffic racing around me, “Adam, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Sally,” I say and shake his hand.

He dawns an ear to ear grin and we part ways, I have a skip in my step for having shared a beautiful moment with a beautiful soul.

What are you passionate about?

After yoga this morning, I went to meet a friend for coffee on my way to work.  I click-clicked on my way in front of the Monterey Post Office as my eyes caught the gaze of a slender, tall gentleman.  He was wearing several layers of clothes and was smoking a cigarette.  “Good morning, Miss,” he called out to me, revealing his one protruding tooth.  “Good morning!” I replied.  “There’s just one thing I want from you today,” he said rather seriously.  “And what is that?” I stopped in front of him.  “Would you please give me a hug?” he asked.  I let my head fall back in laughter and gave him a big bear hug, he held me tightly and whispered “thank you” in my ear.

The yoga instructor had asked us today in class, “What are you passionate about?”  She repeated the question numerous times in the hour-long class and really urged us to think about it, to consider it, to embrace it.  I didn’t have to think too much to know that I am passionate about people.  Put aside allegations of extroversion, introversion, socialitism, etc. – I simply love people.  I love interacting with people, I love emotions, I love when people are passionate, I love opinions, character, feelings, human creation, art.  My interaction with the gentleman this morning was a great practical example of my passion for people.

What are you passionate about?  I hope your passion is attainable in your daily life and that you receive the gift of it today.

Story of Your Life

I think life is like reading a book.  You know when you’re reading a story and a character gets introduced or does something and you don’t think anything of it but later on in the story it makes sense why that character was introduced or why the protagonist took that job.  That’s how I see life.  You make a decision out of fear, impulsion, gut feelings, advice, how you were raised, no reason at all, etc. and at the time you may not understand why, (or even a month or year later) but if you look at your life like one long story, these decisions may not make sense until the very end of your life.

That’s not to say you should go about living your life carelessly or overly cautiously, but rather don’t try to understand everything right now – just accept it and be thankful for the experiences you’ve had.  Live your life to the best of your ability – do what you love, be kind, be spontaneous – it’ll all come together as it needs to as the story of your life.  🙂

 

 

 

Stealing

I heard something the other day about stealing.  It framed stealing in a way I had never thought.  We have all been taught that stealing is bad because it is immoral and not right, etc.  While I agree I think my brain likes to have things explained in order for me to understand them – I like rationales.  What this person explained is that people steal out of fear that God will not provide for them all that they need.  (Some people would use the word “universe” in place of God – in my book they are synonymous.)  Cutting corners on one’s taxes, taking something that doesn’t belong to you, etc.

Not stealing is having full faith that you will be provided with everything you need.  In hard times, this faith may be challenged but it still exists in you (if you have faith), the strength to trust, the willpower to move on, to make things work, to know that you are provided with everything you need, that just might be overshadowed by our expectations of what we think we need.  These expectations often get us in trouble, “I am going through a tough time financially now, so maybe what I need to survive is some homemade soup and not a Michelin star-rated dinner.”

Don’t be afraid, don’t take what is not yours, you have everything you need to survive and if you don’t think so, have faith to know that inside of you there is great power, courage, strength, creativity, to make you overcome whatever you are going through, to prevail and live a happy, content life.  Have faith.

Be open

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Sounds simple enough but this post is a testament to having an open mind. I don’t know how many times in my life I have thought something was a certain way because of a stereotype or assumed something because of a preconceived notion or past experience. This ranges from food to people to yoga. I also can attest to the countless times that I try that thing, I meet with that person, I go for that walk, I wake up extra early to watch the stars, etc., and it’s nothing like I expected…but beautiful and an experience. I guess it’s how you go into it, if you enter in having expectations and anticipating disaster and failure, it’s likely turn out as such. But if you go in with an open mind, ready for an experience, you may surprise yourself. We gain these experiences by going through life and adjusting ourselves accordingly. The experiences make us who we are today. Yesterday’s experience compiled with all of the experiences of your life, plus a bit of personality and self-awareness is what makes you who you are today.  And you could surprise yourself…you could be a brilliant baker or a closet gardener.  Try it out, when opportunity presents itself, seize it.