Seeking advice

I’ve heard that you ask advice from people knowing already what they will tell you. That is, you choose your counsel intentionally. I don’t know if this is true or not but I find myself in a place, at a loss with what to do, in need of advice.

I don’t want to ask for advice from others not because I don’t value their wisdom and not because I think I always make the best decisions but because what I seek advice on is so intensely complex and complicated that I don’t think explaining it to anyone would capture the true nature of my circumstance.  Furthermore, while people “know me,” what defines me as me is my decision making (among other features).  There are no right ways to do things, sure in certain situations there are, if someone falls, you help them up.  That’s the right thing to do. But in matters of the heart — real, deep and big decisions, it is up to us to figure out what we are comfortable with and can live with.

There’s a country song that says, “let your heart sweetheart be your compass when you’re lost, and you should follow if wherever it may go.”

I think when it comes to matters of the heart, you ought to seek advice from within because not only are you the one who has to live with your decision but also because nobody knows your heart like you do.

I’m a very faithful person. I was recently asked what this meant to me and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that being faithful means you know everything will work out. This doesn’t help with imminent decision making and sometimes it would be nice to have decisions made for us but what a cop out!  I don’t want to live in the passenger seat of my own life.

So where does this leave me?  Seeking counsel to my heart.  Reminding myself to be kind, not only to others but also to myself.  To be patient, thoughtful, and understanding, and to have faith.

Be true to thine self

I think we often fear hurting others more than we ought to, we forget that we are the masters of our own happiness.  People find themselves in miserable marriages, jobs, situations, and consequently unhappy, in lifeless existences for the sheer fear of upsetting their partner, letting their boss down, whatever.  They say happiness is a choice and I’m afraid we can’t make that choice for others, no matter how near or dear they are to us.

One thing I have always known is to be true to myself.  I remember breaking up with a boyfriend not long ago and it was one of the most painful experiences of my life.  The time we shared together hadn’t been long but it was beautiful, intense, and all-encompassing — the only way I live my life.  But I knew it was over when it was over.  I knew we were incompatible and I knew what I wanted for myself and my future.  When I know something is right or wrong I have to pursue or leave it.  I don’t think it makes me any more brave than the next person, simply intolerant to mediocrity.  As Shakespeare said, “to thine own self be true.”

Breaking up with him was the single most difficult decision I have ever made in my life and as I drove over to where we were to meet and talk, I could hardly drive the car as I was heaving tears and sorrow.  I told him it was over and he held me for a long time as my body shook and I cried more intensely than I ever had in my life.  We stood together for a good thirty minutes as I cried but stood my ground.  I cried because I knew I was hurting a good man.  I cried because it was a loss.  It was a loss of a good friend whom I love dearly, someone I had grown accustomed to and enjoyed spending all of my time with.  I cried because it hurt.  The pain was real and the hurt was intense.  I cried incessantly for two weeks.  I lost ten pounds and I would have fitful nights of sleep.  I saw his car rounding every corner and saw him in every 5’10”  bald white male.  But I embraced that pain.  I embraced looking over my shoulder and potentially running into him.  We fear the potential uncomfortable situation that society calls “awkward” but it’s just an expression of emotion, discomfort, and it’s OK.  It’s OK for life to not always be fireworks and butterflies.

Then it got easier.  I wrote about my experience with him and I reflected about our relationship over long conversations with dear friends and with myself on long runs.  I examined what I learned from it and how it made me the person I was at that moment in time.  I do not regret a single thing I did with him or any decision to share those few months together, to share my life with his beautiful soul.  However, I accept that that relationship was not what it needed to be for me.  It taught me so much about life and love and myself and has made me consequently, more Sally, a better lover, and a better friend.

I simply cannot wrap my head around staying in a situation that is less than beautiful.  I am not advocating for abandoning ship any time a situation becomes “less than beautiful.”  I value the work it takes to make a relationship thrive and believe in continuous dialogue, adjustments, even seeking guidance from an external source such as a counselor or clergy member.  However, there is beauty and liberation, for all parties involved, in setting oneself free.  It is not selfish.  Rather, it is one’s own duty to oneself to nurture his/her heart and soul.  It may be painful but pain eases with time, and if it doesn’t, there is no shame in reconciliation.  My mom always says you cannot fight fate.  If something is destined to happen, there is no force strong enough from stopping it.  So take care of yourself and let the universe take care of you.

“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.”  I think it’s not only important to set ourselves free to fulfill our destiny but to give all our relationships in our lives the freedom and liberty to thrive as they were meant to.  Because love is not possessive or controlling, love doesn’t take the driver’s seat.  True love is simply beautiful and will thrive when it is set free.  I wish you all unconditional love, fulfillment, and happiness in this beautiful life.

Love

There is no love; there are only proofs of love.”

– Pierre Reverdy

I am by no means an expert on love, however; as a living, breathing, interacting human being, I am bound to experience love in my life.  Love can come in many shapes and forms: the love of a parent to a child (definitely unconditional and unique), the love of friends, cousins, siblings, or lovers — that is, romantic love.

As I contemplate this quote by the French poet Pierre Reverdy, I think of my own experiences of love.  What I find ceaselessly amazing is that you can’t force or anticipate love but when it happens, when you feel it, it cannot be denied.  I think what Mr. Reverdy means here is that there is no definition, no formula for love but rather every experience of love, unique as it is, is the very definition and proof of love.

This makes me think of geometry.  10th grade.  Mr. Light’s class.  I hated geometry.  Especially proofs.  I could not wrap my head around how one rule was indicative or led to the next rule which in turn encouraged the problem solver to go to the next rule and the following and then after several steps, a statement was proven.  I struggled to understand this.  It was abstract and not for me.  Now, love on the other hand, I can accept, but I have been bound to doubt it.  The cynic in me seeks an ulterior motive for the person giving me love (be it a friend, lover, etc.).  This doesn’t happen often and usually requires some sort of insinuating circumstance that serves as the seed of my doubt, i.e. someone unassuming loving me. When we are able to love openly and freely, it is amazing.  I have had the most beautiful experiences — proofs, if you will — of love.

The summer I graduated college, I had no idea what I was doing with my life.  I was living with my brother and his several roommates and a pit bull, Daisy.  I didn’t have graduate school lined up and in fact, wanted nothing to do with school.  I was over studying and wanted an adventure.  I had applied to teach English in Spain but hadn’t heard anything back.  I had very little in the terms of a pay check, working only at a chocolate shop, my brother had me living with him rent free but I needed to do me.  Anyways, I was stressed.  My body does not deal with stress well and my eczema (a skin condition) was terribly broken out.  One of my dearest friends Lynzy knew this condition was exacerbated by stress and told me to relax.  She was packing up her apartment and moving, having just graduated, too and would pick me up in the mornings from my apartment and bring me to hers.  She would dress me in soft, yoga clothes and lay me in the middle of the living room.  She played on her phone with a blue tooth speaker, Andrea Bocelli music (one of my favorite artists).  She made green tea for me and kept water constantly filled by my side.  She would make an oatmeal paste and with a big makeup brush, brush it on my face and keep warm wash cloth compresses on my neck, cucumbers over my eyes.  She would then go to a room in her apartment and pack a box, checking in on me every 15 minutes to wash my face with a warm wash cloth and refill my tea and water.  She would rub my back and tell me that I needed to breath and relax.  Her selfless care for me was so touching and has been an example in my life of how I wish to serve others.

I guess at the end of the day, how is it that we want to show (prove) our love, which I believe is a very part our my being and existence?  Maybe it means mailing packages of things that remind me of my friends to them, near and far.  For me, it’s feeding people.  It’s sharing a story, a laugh, a hug.  In other words, it’s giving a part of yourself to those you love.  Maybe it’s fixing a friend’s car, if your expertise is automobile mechanics.  Walking a friend’s dog when they are unable to.  The ways we can show our love are endless and I wish for everyone to take the time and effort to do so.  It’s not just at Christmas that we ought to give.  Christmas isn’t the only time of the year that we show those we love that we care for them by getting them gifts.  If you have love in your heart, it is present year round and I encourage you to show that love, daily.

The little actions that show us that someone is thinking of us is what makes life worth living.  Coming home to a flower, even if it’s picked from the side of the road, can turn someone’s day around.  Leaving someone a simple note, “thinking of you,” can bring immeasurable joy to those we love.  We have the luxury of technology these days, a text message can serve as a vehicle to impart a smile and some cheer in those we love.

Today, and everyday, I challenge you to do something that makes one person in the world happy, be it your lover, your mother, your neighbor, or the guy across the hall that eavesdrops on your conversations.  Life is too short and loving is so easy, let’s make the world a happier, more loving place.

lavender latte in Oakland – happy Wedding Day, Rachel & Rory

I stumbled upon a cute little cafe in Oakland on a morning walk. I ordered the lavender latte which sounded interesting; I’ve had lavender tea before but had never thought to mix the soft, elegant, lavender flavor with the strong taste of coffee. Let me tell you, it was delightful. Like the love child of Brutus and Olive Oil, (not that Popeye would ever allow that), but the gentleness of the lavender really toned down the coffee.

So here I sit, outside of this nameless coffee shop (Grand something, if I’m not mistaken), and contemplate the blending of characters. Although it started with this latte I’m drinking, it’s appropriate for today because today a dear friend of mine marries the love of her life.  They are a wonderful pair and in watching them interact, it is apparent that they compliment each other well. They are harmonious together and their interactions with one another are loving and true. And like this lavender latte, their unique personalities come together to make a couple that is rich and beautiful.

Congratulations to Rachel and Rory!

Apologizing

I posted to facebook the other day a quote that a friend had posted on his wall:

Apologizing doesn’t always mean that you are wrong 
and the other person is right. 
It just means you value your relationship 
more than your ego. 
 
I really like this.  I think that we let our ego or pride thwart the deep and soul-enriching relationships that could be.  We may find ourselves not opening up to others or behaving badly out of pride or for no reason at all or for good reason, we were hurt and are in self-protection mode.  
 
This is probably done because people live their lives unaware and led by their ego.  If they were aware that their ego was shaping their decisions, and consequently their actions, and therefore the way they treat and are perceived by others AND if they could get over their pride, and make positive changes to their behavior, I believe that their lives would be more fulfilling and ultimately happy. 
 
I have been told that some people are “just that way.”  What a cop out!  What are humans if not capable of changing and shaping their behavior?  In life we are presented with this scene, for which their is no script, just cues that are our personality, character, and past experiences to help us make decisions.  
 
I urge you all (and I try this myself) to think about each decision before it’s made.  To not jump to conclusions or let my pride get in the way.  To live life with honest, kind intentions and pray for the best.  If you know you were kind to others and true to yourself, your life will probably be more fulfilled and happy.  

Invest in people who love you

Time is money, they say.  However, I will argue that time is more valuable than money because it is limited to an unknown amount.  Mysterious.  But seriously, we don’t know how much time we have on this earth and we ought to spend our time wisely.  Also, there are emotions involved in time.  This might sound complex or like a third dimension but it is simply that you can feel good or bad, happy or sad when and/or after spending time doing something.  


Spend your time with people who love you.  Genuinely love you.  People who wish the best for you and want to see you smile.  People who think of you constantly and want you to be happy.  People who understand you or try.  Love isn’t smothering another person or spending 24/7 with them, it’s realizing that people need space and it’s loving and respecting another person enough to give them that space.  But being close enough or available for you.  People who truly love you don’t guilt trip you into hanging out with them because your love is a mutual one, they understand that you have things going on in your life and they do, too.  They also understand that you will reach out to them when you are able because you enjoy spending time with them.   

It might sound selfish but it’s not.  It’s self-preservation.  And just like your time, your self is limited and must be nurtured.  

Simple dinner

“It does not cost much…It leaves you filled with peace, and the house filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells…probably there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation…that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts … Continue reading

Merry Christmas with smoked salmon and amaretto margaritas

Merry Christmas!  We decided to have margaritas with breakfast, why not? 


Amaretto Margaritas

Serves 3

  • 3 parts (6 oz.) of a mixture of freshly squeezed lemon juice* (3 oz.) and frozen Minute Maid limeade concentrate (3 oz.)
  • 2 parts (4 oz.) tequila 
  • 1 part (2 oz.) amaretto** 
Mix all the ingredients above and serve over ice in a margarita glass (you could also blend all the ingredients in a blender).  Garnish with the curly rind of one of your lemons.  

This is a simple recipe, a 3:2:1 ratio, easy to remember even with the hectic nature of holidays!

*I like to use Meyers lemons if you have them handy; they are more floral and pair very well with the amaretto.  
**This recipe normally calls for triple sec here but I didn’t have that so decided to try amaretto, it was a perfect accident.  Amaretto is a delicious drink that is often forgotten about except for in amaretto sours, so I guess this margarita is a spin on an amaretto sour.  Excellently sweet, sour, with a touch of bitter almond. 

Merry Christmas margaritas! 

Smoked salmon with whole grain mustard on sourdough baguette 

In his homily, the priest at church last night concluded about Christmas (which I think can be extended to life in general) is that we all just want to love and be loved.  Isn’t that the truth? I hope you spent your day with the people you love and that love you. 

Love in everyday life

I read this great article about redefining love that a dear friend shared with me.  (You should read it) But it says “Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another.”  I’m sure you’ve felt it before, someone does something special for you, the cashier smiles at you as you check out of the grocery store or someone compliments you.  Many of us have this preconceived notion of love that it must be this and that and it must occur in these steps and takes that long to cultivate, etc etc etc.  However there are different kinds of love…love isn’t just what two people share in a marriage, there is so much more to love than that.  A lot of my friends live this way, that is, in the moment and making every connection with another human being matter.  Giving another person your full attention, a little piece of your heart and opening your heart to him/her.  This can be in the form of a good conversation, a walk with a friend, something you genuinely share with someone else, looking another human being in the eyes when you talk to them and smiling at him/her.  Oftentimes I find that we put up barriers, we go through life with tunnel-vision, blind to the beauty that surrounds us but if we would let ourselves just open up a bit, feel happiness, even love for one another, maybe we could live a little bit happier.  Look people in the eyes, share a moment with them…it doesn’t need to go anywhere, let’s just appreciate the moment we have with others.    

“Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. And health begets health by improving your capacity for love.”

Here’s to love!

Misunderstandings

It’s amazing to me how relationships between humans work.  A human being’s psyche is so complex but a relationship (mother/daughter, mother/son, boyfriend/girlfriend, friends, etc…) depends on the psyche of two people.  I watch daily, as people have relationships that do not work due to pride or misunderstandings.  How sad.  I am guilty of this, too.  My pride has gotten in the way of relationships in the past or my inability to empathize with the other half of the relationship.  Or my inability to explain myself.  It’s not all up to one person, however.  When there is a misunderstanding between two people, one (the one who was misunderstood) must honestly explain themselves without getting mad and the other person has to be willing to listen and forgive.  Both require putting your pride aside and being honest, opening your heart a little bit and accepting that you might get hurt, the other person may run away or completely disagree with you.  Worse, they might say something hurtful to you or even worse yet, tell you that you hurt them.  Then there comes the feelings of guilt and shame and feeling bad, “how could I have said that?” “why did I say that?”  It’s OK, you’re human and you said it, but explain that you didn’t mean it and when on the receiving end, trust that they didn’t mean it, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, be compassionate and understand that you, too have been there and done that.  It makes me think back to my sophomore year of high school, in Mr. Bussio’s class when we read Nelle Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus says to Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  This piece of moral advice can be applied to many circumstances in life but in this scenario, I just urge that when you find yourself in a disagreement over a misunderstanding with a friend or loved one, to take a step back, step into his/her skin and walk around in it.  Try to experience what the other person is experiencing, why did they say this, what did they mean?  And accept at the end of the day that this person loves you and never meant to hurt you.  This is perhaps the most difficult of all and requires great strength, but give that to yourself.