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hearts

I just cancelled my date for tonight.

I haven’t been on a date in a long time and I had a good one planned with someone interesting, doing something fun which was his idea 100% and I still cancelled it.

I’m not feeling well.  I didn’t have an excitement about going when I woke up after a night of weird sort of feverish sleep.  It’s not a good idea to put your best food forward when your best foot just wants to be under your down comforter.

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And honestly I wasn’t totally feeling it with this guy just from our brief exchanges and had been trying to talk myself in to being excited about the date.

What was kind of a twist about it though is that I got a chance to talk to him on the phone for a bit to explain and he was so understanding and cool about me rescheduling that it made me actually excited about going out with him when it does happen.  It’s funny how that happens sometimes.

Things can just turn on the smallest dime.

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gotta be careful about who I label a frog–that dime might be a crown in disguise

I realized that I’ve just not had enough unstructured time to myself lately.  I’m a person who needs–probably more than most– patches of wandering aimlessly on a regular basis.  When I’m too scheduled and over committed I get cranky.  To have an entire landscape of a day in front of me with absolutely no plans is my idea of Heaven.

I love this day already.

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So here I am with my coffee, smoothie, one of Max’s clay masks on my face, my new cute manicure and my fountain dancing in the light outside, ready to tell another story.   Another one that I keep laughing about.  Hope you will too.

I’ve been repeating a lot of courses lately in my profession; Myofascial Release.

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I’ve been practicing this therapy for 25 years, have taken all of the courses, most multiple times and have assisted my teacher John F. Barnes with teaching seminars for two decades.  This Spring I decided to go back to the beginning and repeat the majority of the courses again.

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my dad even took an MFR course!

This is a no brainer.  I’ve probably spent as much or more in lodging in Sedona all these years as I have in training (Sedona is where all of the MFR courses are taught–other places too but Sedona is kind of the mecca of MFR).  Now I have a house to stay at, a kitchen to cook in so this is just obvious.

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I’ve been having a blast digging deeper in to myself, healing, growing.  Relationships have blossomed, some have shifted in other ways and it’s been kind of an intensive time of diving inward.  I’ve taken five seminars since March.  And I’m not finished yet.  :)

Sometimes, in anything, it’s just smart to go back to the beginning.

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Myofascial Release is as much a philosophy of living as it is a therapeutic practice.  It’s as much an art as it is a science.

One of the fundamental tenets of this approach has to do with how we view change.  John Barnes has a clear notion about how the process of change/healing occurs and this embraces the whole scary concept of chaos.

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We believe that in order for true healing to occur, patterns that are deterring the organism (the body/mind systems of being human) from optimal function need to be disrupted.  Then the innate intelligence that is the force that keeps our heart beating and our lungs breathing as well as all other automatic functions  being constant–the very life force if you will–takes over.  It will slip between the cracks of that broken dysfunctional pattern and express itself as vibrant health:  that which we are designed to experience.

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It goes basically like this:

Pattern of dysfunction disrupts ——> period of chaos as the system finds a new normal ——> reorganization occurs at a higher functioning level.

As therapists, we seek those patterns of dysfunction in the system and for lack of a better word, guide and support the being to consider options as patterns break and we support them as they cross that chasm of chaos.

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Stage two is always the hardest.  We all crave the familiar.  We all find comfort in our dysfunctional patterns.  I don’t care how “advanced” you think you are, that pattern has settled in to your system because it’s easier or more comfortable on some level than trying to live without it.

I could go on and on about this philosophy but I’ll leave it at that.  Let’s just say, if you are diving in to this modality for deep healing and you notice that you are somewhat scrambled and out of sorts, we say HURRAY!  You are healing!  The patterns are disrupting and you are moving through that canyon of chaos…keep going!

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The biggest sign of success with this work is a signal of CHANGE.

So we get very excited when we see this.  And we know it’s not easy so it’s important we take a position of confidence as each person enters in to those uncharted waters.

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All of that preamble is necessary to truly understand the deeper story within the story I’m about to tell you.

And it has to do with my purse.

I know all you ladies out there reading know how attached we are to our purses.  On so many levels–the function and fashion.  The options.  The practicality.  The tendency to hoard crazy things.  The safety and security a purse provides.  “My life is in there” you will often hear someone say.  Maybe you’ve said it yourself.

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Or maybe you’re like me and you don’t really, exactly know what is in your purse much of the time.   You don’t really remember exactly which credit cards are in there, what important card or document you’ve shoved in there a few weeks ago rambling around at the bottom;  what earrings you pulled off when you had a massage that could be in any number of compartments.

And don’t even get me started on the lipsticks.

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you know I’m right

Notice I’m not even mentioning money!  Yet.  Or identification.

Our purses just have so many roles in our lives and, as a species, we women tend to be very very attached to them.

A few weeks ago, I had just come home from 8 days out of 11 in two major MFR courses:  Rebounding and Advanced Unwinding.  I’ve taken both of these numerous times over the years.  At this stage of my career, to be honest, I’m mostly interested in the personal growth that comes out the courses.  It’s kind of backwards now–in the beginning it was all about learning the techniques then if some personal healing came out of it too, great!

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Now it’s more like I’m invested in my personal development then realize I’m getting reminded of techniques long forgotten and get a boost in my  practice as a therapist as a bonus.

The second course, Advanced Unwinding, is one that really goes for the heart of those patterns of dysfunction I talked about earlier.  It kind of is designed to throw you in to chaos over and over again while you are learning so this knowledge slips deep in to your cellular matrix, sometimes without you even knowing.  My teacher designs the courses just for this to happen.  He makes us all very uncomfortable seated way too close together and moving from one intense technique to another.  It’s not uncommon to hear people sharing in the mornings how they’ve not slept well or had a fight with their boyfriend or crashed for the night at 5pm.

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John is so devoted to this process he will respond with words like “that’s great…you’re doing great”.  I’ve learned so much from him just from witnessing his unshakable confidence in the process.  He is a big soft teddy bear bad ass.  Everyone falls in love with him and his long white ponytail at some point–men and women.  Everyone who sticks around anyway.

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Back to the story.

I returned to work immediately after taking Advanced Unwinding feeling refreshed and more alive and happy.  I had gone through all kinds of things during the course but by the time I got home I was ready to get back to work and energized!

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My first day back at work, I had four clients back to back.  The last one was someone new so that’s always important to be on my A game for the assessment and the full explanation about the therapy and how it works.  I find this time spent with my clients is so invaluable so I have to be clear headed.

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During my first session, close to the end, I heard the chime sound from my front door.  It was five minutes til noon. I glanced at the clock because it seemed early for my next person to arrive and it was.  Twenty minutes early–a bit unusual for her.  I just noted that then shortly thereafter heard the chime sound again.  “Oh it was just the postman” I thought and finished my session thinking nothing of it.

My office is tucked in to this sweet, safe courtyard where I always feel 100% comfortable.  I love it there.

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The next client did arrive on time and I went about my day with back to back appts right up to the new person at the end of my day.  I have to say I congratulated myself for being so clear and kicking it out of the ballpark with this guy and he, not knowing anything about this modality, was on board with the philosophy before we got started.  I only say this because sometimes it can come off kind of “woowoo” to some people–particularly left brained thinking people, like those who, ya know, are men.  ;)  I nailed it with this guy.

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my cozy, safe treatment room

I felt so good at the end of my day–good energy, good successes all day.  Just in a good groove.

Until the very last moment of the day when I had closed up the office and went to lock up and realized, WHERE IS MY PURSE???

Now I can’t say I was exactly smart about the place I tended to place my purse–under my desk.

I looked everywhere–ran out to my car–no purse, the closet; no purse, my treatment room (a longshot); no purse.  I kept shoving out of my mind over and over that chime I’d heard at five til noon.  The “postman” chime.

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I came out of denial in about five minutes and realized my purse had been stolen.

Someone walked right in there, maybe some kind of solicitor, saw my purse there on the floor and just grabbed it.

Arrrrrgh!

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I instantly started thinking about what was and wasn’t in my purse.  I’d come back from Mexico not long ago–was my passport in there?  Where is my passport anyway?  How much cash?  Dammit, there was $200 cash in there someone had just given me recently.  OMG, that check!  I had a $1000 check made out to me to deposit after work that day.  From a bank.  And that burglar had that now and all my ID.  For the last 4.5 hours!  What damage have they done by now?

I went in to action mode as anyone would.  Called the police (ha! As if they cared about a stolen purse hours before), called and cancelled both debit cards, jumped in my car and as I raced to the Credit Union, called a couple other cards and the issuer of the $1K check en route.

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I flew in to the bank and immediately blurted out at the reception desk to the two girls there “my purse was just stolen”.  You can imagine their faces.  I imagine they were the same face I’d see if I could see through this screen right now at your own very face thinking about this happening to you (I’m right aren’t I?).  O M G!  Your purse!

The cute blond on the left goes immediately in to action mode asking me my account numbers (good thing I have them memorized) and tells me it doesn’t seem there is any nefarious activity on my accounts yet.

Luckily I had a couple of checks from clients with me–not in my purse but in my appt. book I’d carried in there like a purse out of sheer security blanketness.  She deposited them for me then asked if I needed cash.

“If you lost your cash and have no cards maybe you want some cash back right now to carry you over until we get this sorted out”

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How considerate.

I told her I didn’t even have ID to show her other than a business card and she just said “don’t worry about it, I’ll ask you security questions”.

Shortly after that she got me back in a private office with Matt, a bank associate who also sprung in to action.

He helped me figure out what to do about that big check and explained that they would know if someone had tried to cash it at the bank as it needs to be deposited before withdrawing the cash and there was no sign of anyone attempting that …yet.  He offered to put a note on my account to require a security word if anyone tried to cash it.

“They typically do this kind of thing through the drive through so I’ll make sure they have this alert–and if they come through at least you’ve got them on camera now”.

He was full of good ideas.

My checkbook was also in there.  Both work and personal checks. Ugh!

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Matt helped me problem solve how to figure out which checks to stop payment on but I’d have to go home and look at my boxes of checks to see where they ended so we could just block all of them in the purse.

He also told me he could get me a new debit card immediately but I’d need a photo ID.  I was obsessing about my passport and didn’t think I had it in there but….I wasn’t 100% sure.  I decided to run right home and find that or some other ID and return to at least get a new debit card.

To backtrack for a moment, as I was sitting in Matt’s office, sometime during that 45 min. crisis visit, I whispered “bastard got my favorite sunglasses” as I was attempting to inventory the contents of my dumping grounds of a purse in my head.

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As I got up to leave his office I instinctively reached for my head and there were my sunglasses!  I turned , a few steps from his door and said “Um Matt..?” pointing at my glasses.  He laughed and said “well I noticed that but just figured those were not your favorite”.

A nice moment of levity in the whole intense situation.

I have to say though, in hindsight, as I drove home I noticed that I was not as panicked over the whole thing that I thought I would be.  I just kept thinking “oh well, this is just money–you will make more, you will get this sorted out”.  I was in action mode but not frozen in panic like I’ve been in situations like this before.  I was actually oddly calm.

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I was also very grateful that this robber had not gotten my keys or phone.  I felt very lucky and a bit perplexed because my iphone was right there on the desk on the charger.  Whew!  Now that would have been a huge pain, not to mention the keys would have freaked me out.

I pulled in to my carport and swiftly entered my house to dig for where I thought the passport was in order to pivot right back to the bank.

I zipped in the laundry room door off the carport as I always do, rushed in to the foyer only to be Gobsmacked with this image.

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Yes, you are seeing that correctly.

That is my purse sitting in it’s usual spot on my banister.  Where I always hang it when I walk in the door.

Yes, that purse had been hanging there ALL FREAKING DAY.

At home.

I had not even noticed I never had it when I went to work!  I’d even put that big check in there for the sole purpose of depositing it that morning and still didn’t remember it.

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I NEVER leave my house without my purse and without noticing it!

This means I walked out of my house carrying my appt. book and keys, drove to work, walked in to work without my familiar purse on my shoulder and went the entire day without even noticing it wasn’t under my desk like it always was (not anymore).

I put myself and others, through that entire catastrophe needlessly and didn’t even know it!

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I immediately started shaking my head and laughing and called Matt back. I thought I had to tell him immediately to see if any of the bells we’d initiated could be unrung.  I don’t even know if there is an adjective to describe the emotion I was feeling right then:  some kind of mix of relief and amusement and a tiny dash of embarassment–but not much.

My conversation with Matt went like this.

“This is Matt-<whatever his last name is>”

Me, in a very slow, calm, semi sing-songy voice:

“Um Matt, this is Kathy Monkman”

“Are you ok?” he inquired sounding worried.  I mean he had just seen me moments before.

“Matt, I have lost my damn mind.  I just walked in to my house and my purse is hanging on my banister” .

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All I heard back in that moment was a very quiet hissing sound.

He couldn’t even speak through the suppressed hysterics.

It sounded like a tire leaking forced air.

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“I’m headed back there right now to deposit this big check, is there anyway we can unring any of those bells?”  I said in a controlled hysteria.

“No but …<cough…hiss>….at least you aren’t really out any money, just some inconvenience”

“I’m coming right back”

“I’m sorry Kathy, I’m not laughing at you, this is just the best thing that’s happened to me all week”

“Oh, Matt, trust me, I’m laughing at myself right now.  Laugh away, this is a moment in life where you can totally laugh at someone”.

Eight minutes later I entered the bank to the cute blond girl and the other one looking at me something like this.

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I just pointed to my purse, crossbody across my chest, and said one word:

“Menopause”.

Those girls were laughing so hard.

Matt finished what he was doing and brought me back again to his office.  We deposited the check, he took the alert off my account.  I apologized for wasting his time and he kept thanking me for the best story he’s ever had working at the bank.

As I walked away I turned and said, pointing at my glasses on my head,

“Um, thanks for not mentioning these”

And the laughter started up again and we ended on that note.

I stopped at the desk on my way out and said “surely you have some kind of comment card or something because I need to write Matt a recommendation for this as I really owe him one. As a matter of fact I want to write one for you too ” speaking to the cute young blond.

Who then shocked me with “I’m the bank manager”.

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I nearly fell on the floor.

I thought and said out loud “I thought you were a little sorority girl from ASU”.

She started laughing and so did I and I walked out of that bank with a tear in my eye and twinkle in my step.

The only thing that could have made it any better would be if I’d tripped on the way out (which believe me could happen as I’m not the most graceful person you’d ever meet).

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again

It wasn’t until later that evening, or maybe the next day that I realized “OMG I’m in total chaos right now from taking those courses!  RIGHT ON!”.

There is something about a purse that is a woman’s identity.  I mean we literally carry our identity cards in it.  I ended up concluding that I faux lost my identity that day but got it back unharmed.  There is something deep about that.

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But I didn’t dig too far for the meaning.  I just enjoyed the entire entertainment of the whole deal.

That weekend I decided to make some cookies for the bank as a thank you.  I made these lemon cookies that really turned out to be kind of mini scones and put little dollar signs on some of them.  It’s the second time I’ve made cookies for them–the first being after they were held up at gunpoint a few years ago.

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I walked in to the bank Monday morning carrying the cookies, the two completed comment cards and of course my purse.

The cute blond bank manager wasn’t at the desk (she probably almost never is in that position but was the faux purse steal day) but a young man was who DID legitimately look like an ASU student.  I asked if she was working and he explained it was her day off so I just said I was leaving the cookies for everyone but especially wanted her and Matt to know they were for them because of their exceptional service.

This young bespectacled man looked right back at me and said

“Oh you must be the lady with the purse” with a little smirk.

“Oh yes, that’s me”

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I’m glad I have that reputation at the bank.  Someone who brings levity and cookies.

And I’m so glad I faux lost my purse without it having to be really stolen.

I’m excited to see where I’m gonna land now after all that chaos, with or without my purse in hand.

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fish story

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I have not been able to stop laughing for two days.

Seriously.

And boy did I need that.

Every time a glimmer of this story flickers in to my mind, I feel the grin creep out of my insides sometimes expressing itself in to a full blown snort.

I haven’t written for awhile–my mind has been taken up with so many other things like traveling, having my purse faux stolen and engaging in my summer of fitness in all it’s ways.  More on those things later.

Today, I  have to share this story because it’s just too good to keep to myself.

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I’m sure many of you readers remember my friend Max (formerly known as Jordy).  The world was kind of introduced to us through our haphazard celebrity via the Scott Peterson trial.  This is a good read about it actually.  We’ve been friends for over a decade now and been buzzing around the country with many adventures near and far.

Three years ago Max decided she’d had enough of city life and decided she wanted an entirely different style of living.  Through a series of serendipitous events, she packed up Taylor, her little Boston Terrier and landed in Holly Springs, Mississippi making it their home.

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She is doing very well in this small town I call Mayberry.  Max is an esthetician and body worker so was able to settle, again by good luck and magic, in a gorgeous historic home owned by family of Jerry Lee Lewis.  She set up her spa on the second floor and her roots in the soil.  She and Taylor have a quiet, sweet family life there and are very happy.

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When Max moved to Holly Springs and started acquainting herself with the culture there, something else unexpectedly grabbed her.  She, an eclectically spiritual person who was raised by a mother who was both acutely mentally ill and a spiritualist; decided to become a Catholic.  She explained to me that she loved the rituals and just felt a calling.

So, a Catholic she did become.

With a twist.

Because you see, Max is a fully out lesbian.  Well, she was fully out before moving to Holly Springs where, wisely, she has been judicious about who she shares this detail with.  It’s a small town you know.  A small town in Mississippi.

Now add Catholic parish to a small town in the Bible belt.

Homegirl has balls.

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Parish council–Max is Vice President

Max has really blossomed in Holly Springs.  She has settled down, her mind and body have become healthier (just last year she had to get a new pacemaker as the one she’d had for fifteen years;  the one that was supposed to last six years tops; had failed) and she’s found a community there.  A sense of family.

She has developed her amazing line of skin care products that she sells online here and a strong client base for her facials and body treatments.  Included on that list are the town prosecutor and her Priest.

Yes, you did read that right.  This little blond newbie Catholic lesbian has formed a tight personal relationship with the town’s Priest.  The stories I’ve heard about their relationship and adventures are the stuff they make reality shows about.  Or movies like Fried Green Tomatoes.

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From what I decipher, looking from the outside, it seems they’ve both filled a void for each other.  Max was seeking spiritual development and Father Leonard was needing a friend.  A friend who didn’t only relate to him as a role, someone to lean on, someone to perfectly guide them as the voice of God.  But someone he could just be himself around.

Max once told me he’d said “no one talks to me like you do Max”.  Because to her, he’s a human being as well as her Priest.  What a relief that must be for him after a lifetime of living as a personification and all the facades and expectations that go with it.  I can only imagine how she talks to him because she can tell it straight, so to speak.  Sometimes the only way you can grow as a person is just that:  someone who cares about you having the nerve to tell you what’s what.

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This unlikely pair has enjoyed installing a fence around Max’s house together, Fr. Leonard helped her move, helped her install her new bed and gratefully accepted the gift of her old one.  Yes this Priest sleeps in a lesbian’s former bed.  How about that?   He has helped her with countless odd jobs around the house and she has helped him with some pretty serious back pain.

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In fact, the genesis of their friendship started with just that:  back pain.  Apparently Max caught wind that Father Leonard was not going to be able to stand up to perform Mass one Sunday because he was taken down by an acute bout of sciatica.  Max has taken a couple of courses in Myofascial Release and just generally has a good understanding of healing in the body so offered to help him.  Imagine this scene:  Max leading Father Leonard to a meeting room, having him “take off his alms” (robes) and laying him down on a long conference table to check out his back and attempt to work on it (she ended up sending him to a chiropractor who helped him).

In walks Sister Julene, naturally horrified to see her Priest disrobed on a table laid out like that with someone actually touching him!

Well you can see now how they became fast friends.  Pain tends to break down most any barrier.

Theirs is a love story without the romance.  But endearing and charming nonetheless.

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Now the story I’m about to tell you has to do with one of Max’s, and now Father Leonard’s favorite past times:  fishing.

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In the Spring of last year an offer she couldn’t refuse landed right in the lap of Max’s bait stained shorts:  an old, badly in need of renovation, pontoon boat for sale.  One she could afford.

On a bright Spring day, Max and Father Leonard were out fishing on Snow Lake in a borrowed bass boat “at a spot I knew was good near this man’s dock”.  When she saw the man on his property, she cheerfully waved to show respect and he waved back.  A few minutes later he called out to her “young lady!  young lady!” with excitement and told her he’d just found his wedding ring in the dirt the very second she waved to him.

As it turned out this man is a Baptist minister (how ironic right?) and had lost his wedding ring the day before while potting plants for his wife.  “There has not been one day in 33  years I’ve not had this ring on my finger” he later told Max.

Something about the magic of this moment; of finding his precious ring just as she waved created a spark in this man to offer to sell her his old pontoon boat for a mere $500.

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And buy it she did.  Just as she breathed a new vibrancy in to Father Leonard’s life, she revived this boat which she has now named MAXed Out.

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She renovated that boat within every inch of it’s life and I know the perfectionist that she is so I can imagine she’s got that thing like it just floated off a showroom.  I think it looks beautiful in the pictures, don’t you?   Can’t you imagine sitting on one of those front seats just tooling around on that peaceful lake?  Me too.

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Captain Max

Max is out on her boat every weekend and often she brings guests.  Always she brings Taylor.  She either just goes on pleasure cruises or she takes part in her true love:  fishing.

Not that she loves to eat the fish mind you.  In fact I don’t know if she’s ever eaten one of her catches.  But she shares them with friends or throws them back.  I think mostly she catches catfish.

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pretending to eat a worm

Well, now we enter our story.  One day in June, Max and Father Leonard were out on a day off enjoying the beautiful afternoon and fishing together.  It was just one of those perfect days.  Right up until the moment she felt that tug.  No, harder than a tug, she felt a downright yank!  That strong and powerful fish (or whatever it was) dove deep and she could feel it swim under the boat!

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Father Leonard yelled “it’s going to break your pole!  You better let it dive…let it dive!”.  I guess he forgot who he was dealing with there for a minute because there was no way Max was gonna let this fish win that one.  She yelled back “this is a catfish pole!  It’s made to bend!” as she fought that huge fish right on to the boat.  A funny moment in the story was when she talked  about how Father Leonard caught the fish in the fishing net after she’d wrangled it on board.

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“It’s already in the boat!” she laughed.

I think he just wanted to feel a part of this big catch.

Well Max sent me photos of her catch that day.  She recalled as she pulled it in that she thought “what IS this monster?”.  It was more huge than anything she’d ever seen come out of that lake.  It was a fisherman’s dream.

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She pulled out the poisonous horns with her pliers and gifted that fish to Father Leonard who took it home, fileted it (I assume) and put it in his freezer.  I don’t know if he ate any of it fresh that day but I hope he did.

So, ok, let’s fast forward to two weeks or so later.

Now let me just interject for a moment that Max told me this story two days ago, not as a funny story but as something entirely serious that was really bugging her.  That she had to get off her chest.  I mean who do you go to complain about your Priest?  Me, I guess.  ;)

Last weekend Max was at her usual Mass and enjoying her church community.  One of the fellow congregants, making friendly conversation, asked her if she’d been out fishing recently.

Max naturally responded “yes!  And I caught this huge fish, in fact it’s in Father Leonard’s freezer right now!”.

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Well, apparently the Bishop was nearby — the Bishop who shares that home with Father Leonard–and he overheard those remarks.   Max proudly reported this again to him telling him that fish in his freezer was the big one she caught!

Here’s where the worm turns.

Bishop Joe then turns to Max and delivers this tiny alarming phrase,

“Father Leonard told me he caught that fish.”

Max was incensed!  How dare he lay claim to her fish?  She caught that fish fair and square all on her own!  His participation was only just being there and trying to grab it unnecessarily with a net after the fact!  The audacity to  try and usurp her big fish story and claim it as his own!  Something had to be done about this and right now!

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She was so mad she went home and wrote him an email that, at least partly, went like this:

“I was showing Donny the picture of my fish when the Bishop came up.  I told him it was in his freezer.  Imagine my surprise when the Bishop said that you Father Leonard had told him YOU caught that fish. I asked the Bishop several times if he was razzing me but he assured me he was speaking the truth.  So, then let me ask you, why did you do that?  And I will allow you to answer”.  (let’s not forget she’s writing this to her PRIEST)

Father Leonard in his attempt to explain, replied:

“As you know, I have a habit of saying ‘we’ for me, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Sorry for the confusion.”

And this, the words I’m about to share right now, are the chestnut of this whole story, the place where I lost it in spontaneous hysterics.

Max then replies to this well respected Priest:

“None of which caught my fish.”

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You know how someone is being funny but they think what they are saying is serious?  Yeah, it was like that.

I immediately burst in to gasps of hysterics hearing that and let me tell you, that was just the medicine I needed that day.

Max then started hissing on the phone hearing how funny her own words were reflected back.

In one fell swoop she semi-dissed the Priest, Jesus AND the Holy Spirit over a fish!

“NONE of which caught MY fish!”

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Max kept trying to explain to me how upsetting this was to her but this hilarity was having none of that.  It had just taken possession of the whole story.

Once I could breathe again and wiped the tears from my face, I told Max what my interpretation was of what had occurred.

I think he did say “we caught that fish” so the Bishop naturally thought he’d caught it or was at least part of the catching.

And I don’t think he was referring to himself, Jesus and the Holy Spirit either in my humble, un-Catholic opinion.

What I do think is whether you’re a Priest, a Nun, the Buddha or the Pope, everyone kind of wants to belong to someone.  It feels good being a “we”.  It’s just human.

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When you are single and hear that “we” identification all around you, it just feels lonely at times.  And you want to feel that sense of belonging.  It’s human nature and just as Max sees Father Leonard as a human being, this kind of thing goes right along with it.

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Maybe Max is his “we” person. And could you blame him?  Look how cute she is and she’s funny and she gives him a break from his pedestal, out on a boat on a sunny day reeling in a fish and sometimes throwing back a Mexican beer.

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We never know where we will find our connections, our real connections in life.  Sometimes they show up where we least expect them.

Jesus had his loaves and fishes parable.  Well Max, Father Leonard, me and now you have a catfish parable.

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I suggested she put a punctuation to this story by showing up at the rectory one day soon with a huge loaf of french bread saying “here’s the loaf to go with my fish”.

Although in my perfect scenario she says “our fish”.

Because ya know, every romantic tale and every fish story needs it’s embellishments.

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coming soon

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stay-tuned

Life has been super busy lately but today I’ll be sharing a very very funny story about someone some of you already know (or at least know of).

After I finish all my home chores I’m headed out to my favorite local crepe bar/coffee shop to write and laugh my ass off.

Stay tuned!

my secret

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Opportunity Found

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”  James Taylor sang to us all in the 70′s.

I fell so in love with these lyrics when I first heard that song my Freshman year of college that I sat down and played it over and over on my friend’s turntable in her dorm room as I transcribed them.  With an abundance of teenaged angst I’m sure.

We, meaning me John and my Dad were out last night with our dear friend Cathy Hughes enjoying Restaurant Week at a fine French restaurant.  Now she’s a person who truly enjoys her life and goes for it.  She travels constantly, meets people easily, enjoys the entire experiences of culture wherever she goes; learns and shares.

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Cathy was the prosecutor who put the men who killed my sister in prison.  And who came out of retirement decades later to assist the AG’s office pro bono to make sure they stayed there.

We’ve been friends with her for over two decades.

Last night the four of us sat on the patio wining and dining.  It was a beautiful night. We won’t get many more here in AZ as summer looms.

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As we drove up toward the restaurant, my father made a disparaging remark about others doing the exact same thing -enjoying a meal al fresco- uttering under his breath “idle rich”. 

He then proceeded to, while typically uncomfortable in settings he perceives as fancy, complain about the service immediately, to the server, because our table had received 3 lemons instead of 4 for our water per his request.  And he had a lemon slice in his water.

Sigh…

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Growing up in my family, appreciating nice things or fancy things or things that were typically associated with rich people was usually regarded with disdain.

We weren’t those kind of people.

Yet, we were rich.  Or at least my father was.  Go figure.

It’s been a constant struggle in my life.  This learning to allow myself to enjoy or even experience the finer side of life in any form.

I bet that comes as a surprise to many of you.  Because I do many many things that would be perceived as upper crust or maybe even opulent.

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It’s taken me a long to undo my programming and get here and I’m still getting here.

I had to get sick, exhausted and with a medical diagnosis to justify my first trip to Rancho La Puerta.  I told my father, either I go somewhere to unplug and rest and be taken care of or I will end up in a hospital with huge medical bills.  I had burnt myself out care taking with no backup for far too long–decades.

 

It’s often a discussion about money.  Justifying, over explaining, over qualifying.

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Now however, I go to the Ranch at least once a year.  Sometimes twice.  One year I went three times. I leave again next Saturday.

It’s my sanctuary, my place of refuge, a place I know without a doubt I will heal.

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And I will find my people.

In fact one of them showed up unexpectedly in Sedona this past week, while I was there!

I went up for a short little visit to, well, to clean the house.

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smoke from the fire as I turned up the street toward our house

I read on Facebook that morning that the firefighters battling the Slide Fire (scary) were in need of supplies.  I was driving straight past Costco on my way up so ran in and filled the back of my car with electrolyte waters, protein bars, nuts, things like that.

Oh, I thought, that was another reason I needed to head up.

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and dine with the Boys and put up my new hammock (and proceed to fall asleep in it for 40 min)

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thankful rain headed that way the morning I came back

The morning after I arrived,  I looked on Facebook and saw a post from my darling friend Louise, who I met at Rancho La Puerta that New Year’s where a group of us really bonded, that she was headed to Sedona!  That day!

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Louise and I at Enchantment enjoying a Sedona Sparkler in the breeze.

I’ve said about Louise that she would win any Reality Show she would ever be on –she has that kind of amazing universally liked personality.  She could win Survivor or Chopped and not even know how to boil water.  No one would want to vote her off.  All of our friends at the Ranch that year agreed with me.  I’ve never met anyone quite like her and just love being around her.

I got to hang out with her twice this week up there and here I thought I was just going up to clean the house.  We crammed so much amazing conversation in to those two visits, it was like a week at the Ranch!

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Being in the moment, responding and saying yes and no appropriately to life with each step.  That’s part of James Taylor’s secret I’m finding.

I also got to thinking recently about the saying no business.  I ended a going nowhere way too superficial hard to even call it a relationship with someone I’d been seeing for a while last week.  When I reach a point where the outflow has far exceeded the inflow, it’s time to unplug.  On the drive up to Sedona I thought that sometimes the most important element of a relationship is the decision to end it and the way you walk away.

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Now that’s a classy way to do it ;)

I feel good about both things on that one.  No hard feelings.  But he wasn’t offering enough and he never would.  I got it.

Now many women would have never engaged in that dynamic in the first place and maybe a future me wouldn’t.  But the walking away in style is something I can be proud of.  I am proud of it.

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I mean that man woke up at 2:30am, drove to my house dressed in crisp pants, picked up my suitcase, opened his car door, had 3 CD’s waiting for me to choose from and a bottle of water and drove me to the airport for a 5am flight.  He chose the song “Dance with my Father” by Luther Van Dross as I was headed off on that odyssey with my Dad.  All unsolicited.  After meeting him one time.

Now that was classy.

Unfortunately that amazing moment of Prince Charmliness became an oasis in a sea of disconnected behavior and when I realized that this man had almost never asked me a question about myself, displayed virtually no curiosity in who I am and seemed mostly interested in me when I was leaving, it was time to go.

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I told you I will always remember you as that guy who got up in the middle of the night to take me to the airport and I want to always remember you as that guy so I need to say goodbye now,  I said.

I meant it.  And I had zero ambivalence.

I’ve been taught my whole life to subsist on crumbs while a whole banquet is within reach.

I’m good at it.

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Saying no to those bland table droppings is something I’ve spent years learning.  And I’m still learning it.

Giving; that’s the easy part.  Receiving, well we women tend to not be so good at that end of the equation.

I’m getting better and I intend to get really good at it.

And that means receiving from myself as much as anyone.

Hapuna Light #1 - Hapuna Beach, Big Islan, Hawaii

For me, at this stage of my life, that often means the gift of time.  Time and the luxury to engage in activities that I just love.  That are things that feed my soul.

I’m fortunate to have many many hobbies and many more I’d still like to pursue one day.  I want to try so many things and some I’d like to revisit like improvisational theatre.  I probably never shared that I spent a year as a paid actress with a company performing Playback Theatre, a form of improvisational storytelling theatre, all over the state of AZ.  It was amazing.  I’d love to get back in to it one day when I’m older and have outgrown my stagefright. ;)

I also will spend as long as it takes believing that a truly great partner is in store for me who wants to scamper along this charmed path together–this is a dream I just can’t let die.  I will say I’m tired of frog kissing, yet I’m having a blast in the meantime and will have some great stories for him to last the rest of our lives on some long plane or road trips.  Good thing I’m a good storyteller.  ;)

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I looked at Cathy Hughes last night, totally enjoying her retirement, missing nothing about that grind and battle of a courtroom which she excelled at.  She has things she loves and unapologetically goes for them.

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one of many gorgeous sunset views from our Sedona home

I’m doing the same and I’m going to amplify that posture as time goes on.

I feel sorry for people who really don’t know what they love or have passions that engage them to come more alive because those are the people who don’t live long after retirement.

You gotta find those things out now, that’s my advice.

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For me though, I’m not going to live the rest of my life running around filling in the spaces for people who don’t step in to life in that way, embodying that which can ignite a passion in them.  I’ve done that far too long and with too much expense and I’m retiring from that job as well.  Give me the pre-passioned people.  Yeah!

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Give me the alive people, the ones who’s faces go bright when they bring that wine glass to their nose, when they share favorite moments of the trip they just returned from, when their face tingles with excitement talking about the new project they are taking on.

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Give me that infectious curiosity about life all around me because trust me, I will give it back.

I want to be this old woman, my face lined with experiences, still excited about taking on a new craft or a new flavor–thirsty and hungry to learn to take in more and more of this life.  That is the person I aspire to be and I’m starting now.

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And that’s my secret of life for this morning.

I’ve given enough and in some cases far too much. 

I’ve earned this spacious, luxurious, big, tricked out with aliveness life.  More than most anyone I know.

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And I’m going to take it.  All of it and then some more.

Finding my tribe along the way and politely side stepping those shiny river stones that are deceivingly too slippery to step on.

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Trusting, the next one will be covered in diamond-like crystals not just inviting my foot with brilliance but providing just the traction I need for safe passage.

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sophie’s choice

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I understand that is a cliche of a title for this post and I tried talking myself out of using it a few times but in this case it just sort of stuck so I guess sometimes a cliche has a place.

Amy, one of my bff’s daughters Sophie turned 11 this week.  Her birthday party was yesterday.

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Sophie and her Mom

Sophie has Down Syndrome.  Let’s just get that out of the way on the front end.

And she is one of the most amazing, inspiring, magical people I’ve ever met.  I’m not just saying that because it’s PC or some other such bullshit benevolence about someone with a disability.

I’m saying it because it’s a fact.  Not just for me but for many.

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Sophie has performed in the ballet The Snow Queen the last few years

That girl has surpassed so many limits placed on her, she puts us all to shame.  For example, she learned to sign VERY young as they said she’d never speak.  I’ve been speaking to her off and on on the phone over the last week as she was specific, very specific about the kind of cake she wanted me to bake her for her birthday party.

Sophie’s accomplishments have been so far reaching in their inspiration that a story about her landed on my favorite radio program This American Life written, and read by Amy.

Listen here.

Did you click and listen?  Ok do it after you finish reading.  I’ll repost the link.

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Sophie pours my tea at the Ritz

“Chocolate on the bottom, vanilla in the middle, chocolate on the top” Sophie instructed me about her 11th birthday cake.

Let’s back up.  At first she said she wanted 11 layers–for obvious reasons.  Which sent me in to immediate cake PTSD symptoms from the last time I made her cake.  And attempted 8 layers I think…or was it 6?  9 for her 9th birthday?  See, I’ve blocked the trauma.

I went over to make the cake that time in Amy’s kitchen.  Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty and none of us want to remember it — ok I lie, we do.  We remember it in a way of hilarity you do about a fiasco once all is said and done.  A tinge of cringe followed by a pause, eyes roll to the left, then laughter that’s often served with a lot of head shaking and hands to the forehead.

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I was cocky about that cake.  I kept saying “oh easy, we can do this”.  I mean it’s from Sweetapolita.  That chick is foolproof.

In retrospect I’m thinking this cake came out of Amy’s old kitchen before the gorgeous remodel.  Which means her old oven.  Ok maybe my memory just wants to blame that oven.

I was impatient.  It was a lot of batter, a lot of hours, I was probably a lot of some kind of messed up at the time.  I wanted to start stacking those dark chocolate layers on my gorgeous faultless swiss meringue buttercream as soon as possible.

Sophie of course was right by my side.

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although we are making bath bombs here

I think it was about layer 5 that it started happening.

The meltdown I mean.

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And yes, I’m referring to myself primarily in response to that innocent- taken-for-granted cake who just couldn’t take the rushing anymore.  She just decided to stop yielding and start falling.  There’s something to that you know.  That whole surrender business.

I thought I was in control, but no, she decided to show me who was boss.

Not allowed enough time to cool down, she began disintegrating before my very eyes;  top layers sliding off and bottom layers turning to cake and frosting mush.  In seconds.

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Right in front of Sophie.  And Amy.

At some point Amy realized this was going South fast and grabbed her keys and moved in to action.  She said she was running to the store to grab long toothpicks or some other such scaffolding.

It was too late, we all knew.  We were in flight or fight–she was fleeing and I was fighting–with those dark chocolate layers of happiness that had turned on me.

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Sophie was the only one remaining calm.  She found the whole thing fun, a game, hilarious!  And it was her cake!  Her birthday cake!

I couldn’t stand her joviality–just could not stand it–so I calmly but sternly directed her to leave me alone for a few minutes to protect her from seeing me pick up all 8 layers and fling them …somewhere.  In hindsight, she’s probably the only reason I didn’t do that, thank God.

Finally her denial wore off and she realized she needed to leave the kitchen.

Sophie, I’m serious, you need to give me a minute here.

She had probably never seen that look on my face nor heard that tone of my voice.

She calmly walked toward the door leading from the kitchen to the rest of the house, paused and pivoted.

Oh no, I thought, she’s coming back.  The tears and swear words were pushing hard against my face and my resistance was melting like swiss buttercream on the porch during an Arizona summer day.

This part, the part that happened next, I will never forget.

Sophie walked calmly and deliberately toward me as I glared at the cake, jaw shaking, eyes piercing.  Watching it dissolve to the table, helpless.

She said nothing but lifted her tiny closed hand to the edge of the long wood table and opened it softly, silently, releasing something.  To this day I don’t remember what she put next to me.  It could have been a piece of gum, a barrette, a small toy, a miniature lip gloss, a wrapped mint.  It was something that caught her eye as she attempted to exit the room;  something she thought I might need.

Quiet as a whisper she deposited that little remedy and then pivoted right back and silently exited the room.

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I remember sitting there staring at that tiny piece of soul Prozac as it looked back up at me saying you are loved.

And everything’s going to be alright.

Let’s put this in perspective now shall we?

As I reflect, I know I was going through a rough moment generally that day.  It happens from time to time.   I typically take on a creative project as my kind of therapy and something like this was just the ticket.  Had it all gone smoothly I mean.

It’s tough-squared when you think you are doing something positive to lift yourself out of a funk then you end up failing at that too.  Especially something as special as baking a child’s birthday cake.

Sophie’s cake.

But something inside me pivoted with that small sweet gesture from that dear diminutive sage.

I breathed.  I smiled.  Different tears sprung to my eyes.

I rallied.  I figured out solutions.  I salvaged at least 4 of the layers.

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And that little cake that couldn’t, then could, became glorious I must say.

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Amy said to me last week “it was the best cake I’ve ever eaten”.  It garnered all kinds of oohs and ahhs from the party goers.  I have to say, it was a bit of a rock star.

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there is that cake and the birthday girl in all their glory

Sophie remembers the right things and forgets the others.  That is one blessing of her “disability”.

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the piglet birthday party–dozens of piglet cupcakes

She remembers I love to bake for her.  And forgets that it could mean a meltdown and near disaster in her own home.

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She remembers the love I think.  And she goes for it.  In all ways.

This year she, being 11, was very specific about what she wanted.

Imagine her, being so ambitious for me, asking for 11 layers.

E L E V E N

Amy and I both looked at each other and laughed; remembering.  You know, that laugh described above–the one with the pause.

But Sophie was all like “what?  you can do it!”.

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she knows who can do what

When it was clear that this wasn’t going to be attempted she quickly transitioned to requesting 3 layers.  But those three very specific layers.

She demanded to speak with me on the phone every time Amy and I talked over the last week “Chocolate/Vanilla/Chocolate kathymonkman”.

Oh and chocolate frosting.

Got it, I’d say.

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I spent much of two days, last week/weekend leisurely crafting her requested cake.  And I must say I was in Kitchen Heaven the entire time.  Using my new expanded kitchen island too.

I went with the same recipe (yes I do get back on horses that throw me) and same bulletproof Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

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And I took my time.  I played my favorite music.  Leisurely reviewing Rosie from Sweetapolita’s tutorials; I relaxed.

And I poured all the love I have in my heart in to that cake for Sophie.

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Her confidence in me was tossed in to that mixing bowl over and over as my own puffed up just like that meringue.

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This time it was easy, graceful, joy filled and luxurious.

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As I built those layers I was reflecting on the life I’ve been building for myself in the last year or so.

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Also easy, graceful, joy filled, luxurious.  And sturdy.

It’s a good life.

Maybe I’m just starting to see it through Sophie’s vision.

 

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Sophie teaches us all good things–all of us in her Kingdom.

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I call her the Queen because she skipped right over Princess.

She’s always been the Queen.

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And I, for one, am lucky to be one of her Subjects.

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In case you don’t want to scroll back, you can click here to listen to the This American Life piece by Amy about Sophie.

To read more about Sophie’s adventures, visit Amy’s blog:

Girl in a Party Hat.

 

 

 

i’m changing

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Greetings from Day 4 of my 10 day Sugar Detox!  I woke up feeling really inspired and cheery this morning so want to write about that first and then the sugar detox (with a recipe!) after.

Good morning!

Part of the reason I’m doing this detox is that I’d been waking up in kind of a funk, not energetic or perky mind/emotion wise.  I’m a person who tends to go after things when they are out of balance (eventually) so I saw this detox and thought hey I can do that.

This morning, on waking and feeling better, I got to thinking about change.

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Over the weekend I heard someone tell me things like “this is just the way I am”  “see, I’m doing it again” “I don’t know if I’ll ever be any different” about a pattern that was keeping them exactly stuck in a hamster wheel of misery (for themself and others).  For once I just decided to be quiet and not give any suggestions or unsolicited advice but just to notice that this is the choice that person is making for their life.  At least right now.

The reward of staying stuck like that must outweigh the potential benefit of taking a risk toward changing it would provide.  I see this often in my dear brother around issues he identifies he’d like to be different and he uses the word “try” a lot.  I’ve told him that in my way of thinking that word means the same as “I don’t intend to do anything”.  I’ve also had to learn to redirect my expectations there too and do the only thing any of us can ever really do:   focus on myself.

I’ve found that when I’ve gotten way too invested in changing someone else or their changing themself, I’m avoiding my own development.

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It’s hard to rip off a bandaid sometimes and turn your finger toward yourself.  But it truly is the only way to achieve true happiness.  As I focus on myself I’ve learned a whole lot more acceptance of others exactly where they are.

I may adjust my level of investment in someone who is not invested in themself or choose to spend more time around people who are motivating to me.  Yet at the same time I can accept people more easily exactly where they are.  We all have our own timelines.  This has not historically been an easy thing for me to do.

One thing I was pondering this morning though has to do with reaching out for help.  And not just having an awareness that there is a need for change and not just having a plan.  But fully implementing it, whatever it is.  I guess I lose patience with people at times who complain about their own predicaments while simultaneously sitting there performing the same actions over and over refusing to explore one tiny change.

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I guess I’m still working on that acceptance piece.

One thing I have decidedly stopped doing is asking endless questions like “have you tried….have you considered….?”  with all my oh so helpful suggestions and ideas.  Because I do have good ideas!  Implementing them for myself is where it’s at.  Period. And that’s enough.  Enough exhausting myself while avoiding myself.  Know what I mean?

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The strategy I often employ is going after a stuck pattern with a broad plan of attack.  What I mean is I’ve figured out it takes a village and I don’t have to know the a b c steps of breaking through.  I just have to gravitate toward activities, people, plans that spark a fire in me along the lines of “this changes me”.  Not that this is fun or easy necessarily but that this will change me. For me change = improvement.  A pattern breaks and the life force can slip through and that’s where the real healing manifests.  This has been my philosophy for as long as I can remember.  I was writing about these ideas in my teens.

It’s such a relief to remember I don’t have to have things always figured out all the time.

Some of my sure things that I’ve been employing lately have included Myofascial Release (my profession).  I’ve been retaking classes in Sedona this  year and have more upcoming.  With the focus on working on myself.  It’s working.  Another is that Revelation conference I just went to–that’s always a shot in the heart of Truth and Spirit and I feel like a new person every time I come back from that.  Ready for change.  I’ve also incorporated music back in to my life in a very deliberate way.  Like right now listening to my favorite Watercolors station in the mornings vs. listening to news shows.  And I’m going after myself in a body-way through this detox and getting back to the dance I love so much.

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Finally, I’m always feeling my best when involved in some kind of creative project.  Right now it’s this furniture painting thing — which I expanded in to fabric yesterday for a seat cushion for this chair I’m redoing.  I’m really never more alive than in that fabric store or the Annie Sloan paint store exploring colors and textures and ideas with other obsessives around me like yesterday. ;) You can really see the sparkle in someone’s eye when that creative force is working intensely through them.  So I think this treasure hunting/painting thing is gonna be my thing now for awhile and since I’ll run out of space at home, I may start selling some pieces.  ;)  Stay tuned.

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i couldn’t decide between these two for a seat cushion so bought both ;)

I guess what I’m trying to impart is that if I follow those things that ignite the spark of me and/or things that I know bring me more alive in some way, then the stuck places will naturally start to dissolve and I start feeling more alive just generally.  But I hit it from lots of angles simultaneously–body/mind/spirit, hoping they all influence each other.  I think it’s a good strategy at least for me.

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I think the next time I’m with this person who keeps complaining about how stuck they are I’ll just start asking “what’s bringing you alive right now?”.  That’s actually a conversation worth having.   I thank this morning’s stream of consciousness for handing me that one.  ;)

Ok, now on to the 10 day Sugar Detox.

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So far it’s going really well.  It’s easier than I thought and I’m really not craving sugar much at all.  I’m craving comfort food, ya know like a big baked potato or something starchy like that but not really sugar.  They tell you this happens quite quickly with this and I believe them.

It’s astounding how other foods start tasting so much sweeter, like cabbage for example.  I’ve made the same cabbage dish the last two nights–it’s just that good.  It’s good enough to be served in a restaurant good.  I got a humongous head of cabbage from my Bountiful Basket over the weekend so have been working my way through it all week.

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that’s albacore tuna on top–delicious!

Here’s what I do:

I put some coconut oil in the skillet and heat it to about med. heat.  Then I slice of big slices of cabbage and season it with some kind of seasoned salt.  My favorite right now is this one:

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I got it at Trader Joe’s in some kind of kit awhile back.  I think it’s the lemon though that’s doing it in this.

Then I just brown that cabbage and saute it til it’s wilted.  Then, don’t forget this part as it’s the money shot:  I squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.  Trust me, this is DELICIOUS and it tastes sweet and sour at the same time and salty!  Yum.

This morning though I’m experimenting with turkey cutlets making this recipe:

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/paleoista-recipes?page=2

I will probably freeze some but it will be good for salads too I think.

I refuse to put myself on a scale so I’m only going by my clothes and I do feel a small difference there.  But more than anything it’s in my energy level which is very welcome!

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I’m also noticing that, although I’m likely at my heaviest weight ever, I’m going on dates (yes dates) now and I’m not feeling uncomfortable or self conscious.  Hey, I’m 54 right now and dammit I look pretty good even with these extra ahem 30-40 pounds.  But I’m gonna get better.  In the meantime though I’m feeling confident and sparkly and curious about what this world has to offer in terms of a good time.

I’d been stuck in my own lonely patterns for too long so I’m doing something about it and I gotta say, it feels pretty damn good.  In fact, I’m going out tonite.  With my new manicure–dandelions drifting.  I love it.

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lookie here…someone just sent me this as I launched this post–perfect!

Off to dredge turkey cutlets………..have a fantastic Wed. out there everyone!