playing favorites

I was having a late-shower day. Generally speaking, those are not pleasant. Let’s just say if I am cooking dinner and have not yet gotten my shower in, no one wants to be one of my children.

Fortunately for everyone, the clock said 4 and not 5:30 so we were still good. But after the hot water reset me, I seriously wanted to put my pajamas on and call it a day.

Even though the temptation was strong, I withstood. I had a girlie party to go to. Seeing as how I live with a lot of testosterone, I try not to miss ladies nights if I can at all help it.

This was a “favorite things” party. Curious. Bring five of your favorite things costing $5 or under and go home with five of other people’s favorite things. I love it.

Let’s just say it was worth every bit of the inertia required to get there.

I came home with:

  • pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe’s (already one of my favs – score!)
  • soap from Anthropology (nothing bad comes from that store)
  • insta-dry nail polish that is help-your-4-year-old-put-his-shoes-on dry in like 30 seconds flat (found at Target the wonderstore)
  • thank you notes (always handy)
  • special spices promising the world’s best guacamole (yet to try – I will keep you posted)

So fantastic right? I am totally stealing this idea. Someday.

There was much chocolate given at this party (I mentioned it was a ladies night right?). And almost all of it was the new trend – chocolate covered caramel topped with sea salted.

Call me silly, but everyone has read my potato chips and chocolate post right? I have no need for caramel.

I shared. Lucky boys.

I shared. Lucky boys.

But my friend Katie (who is known by me as always finding the “best” things – ask me later about Philosophy lip gloss) brought Godiva dark chocolate with sea salt. I was not one of the lucky recipients of such perfect sounding bliss, so today I went out and bought some.

Really I was intending to purchase Christmas gifts. But of course I had to get one bar for myself to make sure it tastes as good as it sounds.

Ummmm, yes.

Tastes just like it sounds.

 This shall be added to the arsenal of tools in my box of coping skills. Along with this month’s other discovery: cocoa drizzled kettle corn from Trader Joe’s. A buck ninety-nine for a bag of addictive joy is a good deal in my book.

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P.S. Since I know you are dying to know, the favorite thing I brought to the party was a new décor item in my home. Refashioned jam jars filled with split peas (green for Christmas and $0.89/lb at our local whole foods market) topped with a tea light (cheapest best ones found at IKEA). I love refashioned items because they are creative AND good for the environment. And this season makes me want to see candles everywhere I turn. Fabulous.

So what’s your latest favorite thing?

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mac&cheese wednesdays

What is her top strength? I have a hard time choosing. Administration, organization, execution of a well-thought out plan, attention to detail, to name a few. But the one I think of on a weekly basis is creating traditions.

I am not particularly strong in this area, but I do appreciate the value they bring. Traditions give me pegs to hold on to through my life. This world is constantly shifting and sometimes that can be crazy-making.

Traditions are one of the things I hold to for comfort and security when the ground might be coming out from underneath me.

And every week, I think of these things because there is a tradition I am upholding. I think of it as my secret time with her. During this period when time and space and a few other things don’t allow for much.

She fills my mind as I follow the recipe with only five ingredients. Pure, unadulterated macaroni and cheese. Not messed up with all the funny business other recipes add to make things fancy. My kids love it. The one meal I get NO complaints over.

And lately on mac & cheese Wednesdays, I think of another tradition she created. I confess I did not embrace that one warmly. In fact, I think it could be argued that I fought it every step of the way. Independence. 

But now, since my healing, my putting-back-together, I appreciate the strength I had to ask for help, to take care of myself, to separate from what others might think and be me.

They all harken back to that tradition of independence. Blazing a trail. Being my own person. And I am deeply grateful. I am forever changed because of this tradition.

And all of that simmers inside of me and comforts me as my home fills with the familiar aroma. I open the oven door and hear the sound the bubbles make when the dish is cooked to just the right temperature and my heart expands. A meal can be so much more than food.

I will always have one of the best parts of her with me in the traditions.

What is your favorite meal and what does it connect you to?

mr. black

He gives a gift to everyone who walks in the door. I am always a little groggy when I walk in. I have just dropped my oldest off to his early morning Saturday karate class. I walk down to Starbucks, and the moment alone combines with the fresh air and breathes life into me.

His shaggy hair matches his scruffy looking beard with their curls and hues of strawberry blonde. Everyone gets a smile and a cheerful voice, but nothing over-zealous. It is early on Saturday, after all and this is a gentle man. Intentional eye contact is made with each and every person. I watch as something invisible inside his soul seems to whisper to each of us, “You matter.”

I get the feeling he is doing more than just his job as he takes our orders and debit cards and gives us food and drink in return. He is caring for humanity. He sees the inherent value of people and shows it to us in the fifty-eight seconds we are in front of him. This is the gift he gives.

And it is one that we all are in desperate need of. Because it is so incredibly easy to forget that we matter. That although we are imperfect, we are also invaluable. Of course, not everyone receives this gift. Some are so busy with their lives and their selves and their keeping up that their spirits have grown numb to such offerings.

But he gives it anyway.

Today he was just taking his break when I found my place in line. We exchanged hellos and somehow some coffee spilled from the mug he was holding while we were chatting. I walked over to the condiment section, pulled out some napkins, knelt down and wiped up the liquid.

I should be doing that for you,” he said.

“You are on your break. I am happy to do something for you this time,” I reply.

He goes to the back for something and then disappears outside for his ten minutes to himself. As I order and get out my card to pay, the other barista tells me Mr. Black has already taken care of it.

I couldn’t find him outside to say thank you and he didn’t have to do that. Watching him do what he does touches my heart every Saturday. I see the gift he offers and gladly receive it each time. Maybe buying me coffee was his way of saying that today I got to be his Mr. Black.

potato chips and chocolate

The crinkle of the bag brings me hope and dread all at once. My pain draws me to the cupboard without my awareness. I have been carrying around this powerlessness and it is heavy and painful and I want an escape from it. But there is none. That doesn’t stop me from looking, though.

As the salt touches my tongue, it seems to be a numbing agent on my heart. For the moments that my mouth is full, the overpowering taste blocks out my emotions.

Eventually, I finish the bag or the bag finishes me leaving my mouth raw. I sit for a minute, trying to force the satisfaction to stay. But eventually it runs away like it always does and my mind dances with the sweet that would sooth the savory I just consumed.

Another crinkling bag delights my ears. I pull out the handful of dark chocolate chips and let them sit for a while to be warmed by my hand. Then in my mouth they go as the cocoa, rich and smooth begins to soften and ooze together forming a luscious mound of heaven that melts down my throat.

Eventually I realize the break from my pain was only temporary, and the let down sets in. I want this to help but it doesn’t. I try night after night, but the pain remains. I cannot control others. I cannot change what they think of me. I cannot force someone to listen.

All I can do is let go and mourn what is lost. And sometimes that is more of a process than I would like it to be, even with my potato chips and chocolate.