Why I’m Having Pancakes for Breakfast

pancakesAs you may have guessed, I’m having pancakes for breakfast.  Not because I woke up thinking about pancakes (although that has happened…more than once), but because I have a hankering for syrup and people tend to question your sanity if you sit down with just a bowl of syrup and a spoon.  As long as you bring a plate of pancakes with you, no one gives you a second glance.

To clarify, I’m not talking about Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima.  I grew up with homemade syrup:  brown sugar, water, and Mapeline.  I still won’t eat any other kind, not even “100% pure maple syrup from Vermont” that comes in a cute little jug.

When I was a kid, my mom made breakfast for us every day–well, Saturday was cold cereal day, which (ironically) my siblings and I were usually the most excited about.  She’d get up early, pack our lunches, and create a huge breakfast of pancakes or waffles or French toast with eggs and bacon or sausage.  If there wasn’t enough leftover syrup in the refrigerator, she’d take out a pot and get a fresh batch started.  She never measured the ingredients–just dumped in sugar and water, brought it to a boil, then poured in the Mapeline.  She’d yell that breakfast was ready and we’d come out of our rooms, head straight to the table, sit down, and drown our plate of carbs in warm, delicious syrup.  Every morning, a comforting, reliable, yummy start to our day.

When I moved away from home and tried to recreate this syrup myself, there was quite a learning curve.  I started with what I hoped might be the recipe, adding about a cup of sugar and two cups of water, but the taste wasn’t right.  I played with the amount of Mapeline, but it was still way off.  After several batches, I finally looked up a recipe.  The sugar to water ratio was supposed to be 2 to 1 not 1 to 2.  No wonder my syrup didn’t taste right–and no wonder I loved this stuff so much!

I finally have it down now, and just like my mom, I can make a successful batch of syrup without measuring ingredients.  And now that I can make it, sometimes I just want it, probably as much for the cozy nostalgia of it as for the actual flavor.

There’s no logical reason for me to eat a plate of pancakes this morning.  I certainly don’t need the fat or the calories.  Nevertheless, here they are, sitting right in front of me, steam rising off of them, waiting patiently for the dark brown stream of syrup to be drizzled over them.

I don’t do it every day, nor do I want to.  But on days that I do, I take out a pot, dump in sugar and water, get the pancakes going, and give myself permission to enjoy each and every wonderful bite.

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Thanks, Mom.

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The Wonderful Threat of Morning

coffee

Shh…
Keep it down.
Be very very quiet.
I know it’s early, but we have work to do and it’ll be so much easier if we don’t wake up You-Know-Who.

During these first moments of the day, sometimes even when it’s still dark outside, I get in the zone and an hour flies by.  And if I don’t have to run off to work, another hour as well.  Everything just flows and it’s easy and fun and energizing…and did I mention fun?

Eventually, though, it’s the fun that does me in.  As hard as I try to stay absolutely silent, invariably, something tickles me that turns into a giggle and grows into an uncontrollable guffaw.

(yawning nearby)

Shoot.

-Wh–what’s going on?

Shh…nothing to see here.  Go back to sleep.  Shh…

(more yawning with stretching this time)
-Wh-what?…Holy cow, look at the time!  How long have you been up?  Why didn’t you wake me???

(Deep breath…and…exhale…….)
Good morning, Doubt.  Did you sleep well?

-What have you been doing?  Wait!  What’s THAT?  Let me take a look at that!

It’s nothing.

-It’s not nothing!  I see it right there in front of you!  Let me see if it’s any good.  You don’t want to be embarrassed, do you?

It’s just a little something, nothing for you to worry about.

-That’s what you always say!  Then you go and do stuff without me!  Crazy stuff!  Ridiculous stuff!  Stuff that makes no sense at all!  I swear, I don’t know what gets into you sometimes!

Would you like some coffee?

-Like I’ve told you over and ov—coffee?……..Um, sure, I could go for some coffee.

Sugar?
-Please.
Cream?
-A little.
Here you go.
(sippy, slurpy sounds)
-Mmm…
I know, right?

-Hey, do we have any of those muffins left?
A couple.  Let me warm them up for you.
(microwave beeping)
Butter?
-No, thanks.  I’m good.
Enjoy.

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It’s taken a while for me to get to this amicable place with Doubt.  I used to let him bully me.  Then I transitioned to arguing with him.  Finally, one day I realized he’s just not a morning person.  Whereas I love the quiet, calm, creativeness of morning hours, he feels threatened by them.  He feels vulnerable, like he has no control over the wild ideas being tossed around and put into action, so he defaults into defensiveness and panic.  And I get that; it’s just who he is.

Now, rather than fight with him, I let him vent for a bit.  Like the rest of us, he wants to be heard; he wants to feel valuable.  So I let him have his say, then I do a silent check-in to see if any of it holds true.  Regardless of whether it does or not, I try to be respectful of Doubt and reassure him that we’re okay, that all is well…and that coffee really does make everything better.

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Mmm……

I know, right?

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Top Secret

secret

Shhh…

 

I’m not sure why I’m telling you this, but here goes.

I’m writing a book.

Wow, a blogger writing a book?  What are the odds?

I know, I know, no surprise there.

But it’s a big deal to me and I’m excited about it but have been hesitant to actually declare it with any degree of certainty, so I’ve only told a handful of people…carefully chosen individuals who I trust to encourage me and not shoot me down with logistics and practicality.

The book’s coming along nicely–still a long way to go, but I’m making progress and it’s fun.

I’m at a point with it where I want to set a goal, a tangible goal.
So… I will have a finished draft by November 25, 2019.

And to make it a little more real, I’m sharing this goal with you…carefully chosen individuals who I trust to encourage me and not shoot me down with logistics and practicality.

 

Thank you in advance for your support,
Julie  : )

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PS  Please don’t tell my mom.

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Don’t Toot Your Own Horn—Says Who?

horn

You know that expression, “Don’t toot your own horn”?  I know it means don’t brag about yourself, but I was thinking about and picturing that saying this morning.  I was wondering what “your own horn” looks like and where exactly it’s located in the human body.  And that led to a few very enjoyable minutes of nonsense, entertaining myself with possibilities.

For example, I gave a little arm pump and heard a semi horn blow.  Two quick hand squeezes made the sound of a traditional clown horn.  Index finger trigger pulls produced the subtle honks of a mild-mannered goose.  A speedy side-to-side hip bump recreated the Road Runner’s Beep! Beep!  However, circling the hips slowly resulted in an old-timey car horn…AHOOGA! (had to google the spelling on that).  And chicken-dance arm flapping brought about tuba sounds—who knew?

Within just a couple of minutes I was completely sold on the idea of, in fact, tooting your own horn whenever possible.  Why should I wait for someone else to toot my horn?  They don’t even know where it is and finding it could be tricky—I’m extremely ticklish.

So, who better than us to toot our own horns?  Whatever calamity may be upon us at the moment, if we can just find enough mojo to squeeze our trigger finger and generate a lighthearted honk! honk! that burden may just fall right off our shoulders and send us happily on our way.

How about we recruit coworkers, friends, and family to join us in this endeavor?  Let’s invite them to find their own horns and toot them as needed.  Maybe we can even team up to create a lovely offbeat, ridiculous symphony of glee.

Music to our ears…as we do the chicken dance.

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AHOOGA?
Yeah, that’s not how I would have spelled it either.

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Failing Meditation 101

yoga2

Easy Pose…define “easy”

I’m a big fan of personal growth.  I like taking a look at “baggage” and figuring out where it came from, how it’s affecting us, and whether or not we’re going to keep carrying it or leave it behind.  I dig that stuff (I tried to find a non-hippie word to say the same thing, but dig really says it best).

Along those same lines, I try to be open-minded to other practices:  manifesting, aligning with the Universe, getting in touch with the inner child and all that.  You’d think, then, that I’d be a perfect candidate for meditation and the peaceful process of sitting still, letting my mind go, breathing deeply, etc.  Yeah, I thought so, too; but meditation was not the zen-filled walk in the park I imagined it to be.

A while back, during a particularly stressful time, I signed up for an introductory meditation class with a focus on breathing.  I’ll admit that I chose this one partly because I figured I’d be good at it…I’d been breathing for almost 50 years, I’ve got it down…easy A, baby!

Alas, in the words of somebody famous, “Guess again.”

Our instructor was a lovely young lady with the stereotypical calm presence that you’d expect from a meditation teacher.  As she gave us our various instructions, she reminded us to make our bodies comfortable and to adjust any of her directions to suit our own needs.  Then she invited us to let go of the thoughts of all the things from our busy day for just this short amount of time that we have together–it was really very sweet.

We sat in the traditional cross-legged position (we’re not allowed to call it Indian-style anymore) if that was comfortable for us; if not, “find a position that works for you.”  She told us to close our eyes…breathe deeply…and quiet our mind.  Then she stopped talking and let us settle in and enjoy the soft sounds of sitar music in the background.

I soon learned there’s nothing like a nice dose of silence to send your mind spinning.

Well, this is pleasant, isn’t it?

It’s so nice to relax.

Inhale…

Exhale…

Is she going to say other stuff, or is this it?

I hope this isn’t it.

I could have done this at home and saved 15 bucks.
Shh…stop it!  Quit thinking.  Be quiet!
But–

No!  Just hush!
Sheesh…sorry…

Shh…

Inhale…

Exhale…

Inhale…

Exhale…

Hey, I think I’m getting it!
Shh…

After a few minutes, the instructor did indeed start talking again.  She led us in some breathing exercises, telling us when to inhale, when to exhale, and giving us some tips for isolating certain muscles.  One of the techniques required us to tighten our sphincter muscles.  When she used the word sphincter I knew I was in trouble because–as you may recall–I’m very immature.  In her calm, cool, hypnotizing voice, she told us we were to squeeze those muscles “as if you needed to pass gas but you were in a place where that wouldn’t be appropriate…like church, for example.”

Wait.

Was she just talking about farting in church?

Really?

And I’m just supposed to let that roll on by?

Although I’m sure I’m not supposed to burst out laughing, that’s what my instincts are telling me to do, and I tend to trust my instincts.  I’m tempted to crack an eye open and see if any of my classmates are trying to keep it together, but I know if I make eye contact with anyone, I’ll lose it for sure.

Somehow I make it through.
But now all I can think about is having Mexican food for dinner.

What kind of sadistic class is this?

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It wasn’t a bad experience.  Overall, I definitely did unwind a bit, which might not have happened had I not made the intentional effort to do so.  I’m not closing the door on meditation, I’ll leave it ajar for now.  Maybe if I get a renewed interest for it (and an increase in maturity), I’ll try again.

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Until then…namaste.

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I really need a burrito.

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Dear Marilyn

tree

10/29/17

There is a big shade tree in my front yard.  It’s not a particularly glamorous tree like a magnolia or a weeping willow.  I don’t know what kind of tree it is but a landscaper I know calls it a “trash” tree because it’s messy and grows anywhere.  Regardless, I love it.  It’s green and friendly and it gives me some privacy on my front porch.  I spend a little bit of time out front almost every morning, drinking a cup of coffee and watching leaves flutter.  Did I mention I love it?

Last week I helped my landlord prune it—and by prune it, I mean chop everything off except its main trunk which forks in two.  No more branches.  No more leaves.  No more green.  The change was more than a little shocking.

The next morning I sat out on my front porch with my coffee but without the tree to hide behind.  I looked sadly at the bare trunk forking in two, but then I looked up and couldn’t keep from smiling.  Beyond the trunk, I now had a clear view of the rolling hills in the distance and of the sun coming up over them.  My beautiful green tree was gone (for now), but by golly, maybe this was even better.  God is good.

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Dear Marilyn,

You are my tree.

Way back in the days when I was a client at the medical office, I was always grateful to see your smiling face behind the desk.  When I came to our church a few years ago and saw you standing in the doorway, I was so happy and so comforted to see your smiling face once again.  I loved your feisty sense of humor and the way you and Steve teased with each other.

Each week I am still so grateful to see you.  I see you changing and being “pruned” to your bare self; and yet there you are, smiling, eyes shining bright and clear, standing, sitting, worshiping, hands held high.  Faith.  Oh my gosh, such faith.  I’m so sorry for this part of your journey, but I’m so thankful for the way you’re traveling through it.

It’s beautiful.

You are beautiful.

Thank you for being my tree.

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11/1/18
Welcome Home, my friend…Enjoy.

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Rain in the Forecast

tarantula
I saw 6 tarantulas last week.  WHOO HOO!!!

I don’t know if it’s just a California thing, but for us here on the west coast, seeing a tarantula crossing the road is a good sign.  It’s nothing like a chicken crossing the road for a myriad of reasons; a tarantula crossing the road means ONE thing:  rain on the way!  Somehow not only do tarantulas know that rain is coming but they also know that they need to get themselves to higher ground, hence the trek across the street—apparently heading north—just before a storm.  I find this pretty amazing but also surprisingly accurate (1/4 inch of rain last Wednesday!)—I’ll trust a tarantula sighting over meteorologist Dave’s forecast every time (nothing personal, Dave).

I’m not terrified of spiders but I don’t exactly cozy up to them either, so I can’t see the tarantula’s facial expressions as it’s crossing the street.  I don’t know if his little furry eyebrows are raised and his eyeballs are wide open, indicating panic.  I can’t see if his tiny spider mouth is agape or hear if he’s screaming, “Aaaahhhhhh!!!  Rain a’ comin’!!!  Head for the hills!!!  Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!”

If that is indeed the case, I am completely unaware of it because it appears that the opposite is true.  Based on the slow, steady, almost casual walk of the tarantula—across traffic—it seems that he’s not at all concerned, and that his mouth is likely forming a kind of sly smile as he says in a smooth, jazzy voice, Ain’t no big thang, baby…

And I love that about him.

So I’m choosing to appreciate and embrace the tarantula’s subtle life lessons:
-Stay calm.
-When possible, plan ahead.
-Trust your instincts.
-When it’s time to evacuate…evacuate.
-Don’t let a little cross-traffic stop you.
-Always strive for the higher ground.
-Never underestimate the power of a sly smile and smooth, jazzy voice.

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Ain’t no big thang, baby…

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