This. Just This.

We are all cognizant that we live in a world where many people think that their opinions and ways of doing things are right and are, therefore, quick to judge others who don’t esteem to the same opinions and ways of doing things. Racism, as a definition, now expands beyond the color of your skin and includes such things as political beliefs, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, etc. This saddens me, and I know of others who are also saddened by the state of humanity today.

For those who choose to judge me for ways in which my beliefs and values are different than yours, I want to say this, just this:

How often have wise sages told us that, in order to love others, we must first love ourselves? I heard it said this way: You can’t give to anyone else what you don’t possess to give. We’re not talking about self-ego. That is something entirely different. Self-love is accepting who you are, with all of your flaws and imperfections, and striving each day to be the best person you can be, to yourself and then to others.

So, if you find yourself judging others because they are somehow “different” from you, you need some lessons in self-love. And, when we learn to love ourselves, with all of those imperfections and flaws, then we are able to love others with the same compassion that we give to ourselves.

My hope is that each of my readers will love themselves more and judge others less. Happy self-loving!

Hacks from my Happy Place – IX

This post is dedicated to cabbage. Cabbage is something you either like or you don’t. I happen to like it – a lot!

Forty or so years ago, when I was so poor that food had to cost next to nothing, I would brown a pound of hamburger, cut up a potato or two and buy a big head of cabbage. Once the hamburger was browned, I would drain it and put it in my big soup pot with lots of water (I couldn’t afford to buy stock back then), and the potatoes and cut up cabbage and boil it until the potatoes and cabbage were tender. I would easily get four good meals from this, served in a bowl with some salt and pepper. When times were good, I’d make some instant rice and add it, knowing that it would stretch the meal even farther. When times were really good, I’d buy a bag of shredded cheese, heat up a portion then drain off the broth, top it with the shredded cheese and turn it into an au-gratin meal. With those little change-ups of adding rice and then the cheese, I could easily have enough meals to get me through a week for less than $25! And yes, I was that poor!

Nowadays, I still like cabbage, but I’ve added recipes to my repertoire. One of the ones I make that everyone who likes cabbage always ask me for some of is cabbage soup. I’ve traded out the hamburger for cooked chicken, sauté some onions to add to it, use chicken stock, add a can of diced tomatoes and again, cook a big head of cabbage until it is tender. This too stretches into many meals (more if I wouldn’t be giving so much of it away) and can be made au-gratin in the same way – by draining off the broth and adding shredded cheese to the top. For a little more color, I sometimes add sliced carrots.

Whenever I make this, I always save a little bit of the cabbage, chopped up, in a baggie in my freezer. Cabbage is a welcome addition to vegetable soup (vegetarian or with meat) and since it’s going to get cooked anyhow, freezing it doesn’t hurt it!

For a really special treat, I make fried cabbage. This starts with browning some loose sausage and adding sautéed onions, then draining it but using the same pan to cook off bacon. Dice up the bacon, then add the bacon, onions and sausage to a pot with a little bit (just a little bit!) of the bacon grease, and add cabbage. Put a lid on it so the cabbage has a chance to steam soft, then remove the lid and stir occasionally until the cabbage starts to brown.

Last but not least is unstuffed cabbage rolls (my mom called it “Lazy Man’s Cabbage Rolls”). In a large soup pan, put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom, then some cabbage leaves. Add some meatballs then a layer of cooked rice, another layer of tomato sauce and cabbage. Continue to build the layers, ending with tomato sauce and cabbage. Put a lid on and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is soft and the meatballs are cooked through.

So there are some recipes to try using the ever-budget-friendly head of cabbage! Let me know if you have any recipes using cabbage that I should try! Meanwhile, happy eating!

Autumnal Equinox

Harvest reaping has been done

The nights are cool at last

We wait for leaves to vibrantly color

Though too soon they will be past.

This autumn season rustles in

With respite from the heat

Though winter follows much too soon

And shoveling’s such a feat.

Do not miss all the changes

Enjoy each sight, sound and smell

Let them not pass by without pause and praise

Before winter’s savage hell.

Autumn paints in colors

That summer has never seen

Rustling leaves traveling in the wind

To places they’ve never been.

Take time to stop and notice

All of Mother Nature’s glory

Each season has a reason,

Each season has a story.

International Day of Peace

The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is a United Nations-sanctioned holiday observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1981, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and people. In 2013 the day was dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to peace education, the key preventive means to reduce war sustainably.

To inaugurate the International Day of Peace, the “Peace Bell” is rung at UN Headquarters. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents. It was given as a gift by the United Nations Association of Japan, and is referred to as “a reminder of the human cost of war.” The inscription on its side reads: “Long live absolute world peace.”

Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the establishment of equality, and a working political order that serves the true interests of all. In international relations, peacetime is not only the absence of war or conflict, but also the presence of cultural and economic understanding and unity. Wikipedia defines peace as “a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or heterogeneous groups.”

As I said in my post entitled, “Do You Remember?”, it is my opinion that, with our country so at war within its own boundaries, “peace” does will reign on our soil regardless of this day. Until we can put our pettiness aside and be tolerant and kind to all humans, regardless of their skin color, politics, religious beliefs, sexual preference (and all things which make us different one from another), we cannot live together in peace.

Knowledge is NOT power!

The phrase “scientia potentia est” is a Latin aphorism meaning “knowledge is power”. It is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, although there is no known occurrence of this precise phrase in Bacon’s English or Latin writings. It doesn’t really matter, since whomever should be credited with this phrase would be wrong!

Knowledge is NOT power! Let me break it down this way: A popular childhood toy that teaches shapes to youngsters was made as an educational experience. From it, children learn that a square piece goes in the square hole, a triangle in the triangle hole, a star in the star hole, etc. And you, as adults, know this, right? But is that knowledge enough? If you know this and then still try to put the square in a different hole, how does that make you powerful?

The phrase should be, “Knowledge plus Action equals Power”. It is only in taking the knowledge that we have and using it to create success that we gain power.

Most of us have or will encounter at least one, drama-filled, toxic person in our lives. We know, intellectually, that we need to step back from/remove that relationship for our own safety and sanity. However, once an attachment is formed to that person, often before we see the pattern of behaviors that make them toxic, it is a difficult task. We know that this person brings negative energy and stress to our lives, but the knowledge of that does not keep the negative energy and stress from occurring. Our power does not come from this knowledge. Our power can only come from ending this relationship, no matter how painful it is to lose this person we care about. Our power comes to us when we take action!

This truth that “Knowledge plus Action equals Power” can be used in almost every aspect of our lives. We may stumble along the action route, trying to find a way to commit to action that is courteous and the least painful. This is especially true when choosing to step away from a relationship. But if we choose to take no action, then the message to ourselves is that we would rather stay mired in the negativity than face the effort to change it.

I share this information with you because of a recent personal experience. I had a friend – we’ll call her “A” – who got into a word battle with other friends over a post I made on social media two years ago. I was not a witness to what happened, but it spiraled enough so that A lost her temper and said some unfortunate and rather nasty things, and then, out of her anger, quickly blocked me from seeing her on all social media sites. Of course, everything she said in the course of this tirade was instantly removed from my media, so I was only able to hear one side of the story. I was hurt, angry to be blamed and held accountable for this conversation that I’d had nothing to do with. But, as time passed, I was able to look at my friendship with A and see that her side was always filled with drama – about her adult siblings, about her husband’s adult children, etc., etc., etc. Looking at that more objectively, I was able to realize that, while I missed the good aspects of our friendship, I did not miss the drama! I even became thankful, in a strange way, that she made the decision to stop the friendship, because I only see now how her negativity about everything added stress to my life, yet, I’m not sure I’d have had the commitment to action to change anything.

Now, after two years of silence, A sent me a message a few days ago which said, “Hi. Can we talk?” Just those words. I’ve been through a range of emotions over this. I do miss the friendship, but I KNOW what re-opening the door will bring back into my life. And so, as much as it makes me sad, I KNOW that I need to follow through with action that values my right not to have that added stress and negativity. I’m more than curious as to why A has reached out after all of this time, and a part of me wants to dream that A has changed from the dramatic style I knew her for. But despite that dream and curiosity, all I can hope for is to find a kind and compassionate way to respond that says, “No, thank you.”

The knowledge of the harmfulness in our friendship is just that – it’s knowledge. But it’s the action I take now that will determine my power. The right decisions aren’t always easy decisions…

Surrogate Mother

I’m not sure I’m worthy of these accolades, but my beloved brother thinks I am!

commonsensiblyspeaking

Dedicated to, Jody, the best sister anyone could have!

The trap of better than you

Our parents had fallen in

Both working to see us through

Like rat running race to win

Two incomes to stave off fears

Their children wanting naught

Save the passing adolescent years

Their presence needed and sought

My mother is all I hoped to find

When home with illness I lay

Yet sent another so giving and kind

My physician for the day

Attendant to a little boy

Her love easily compared

To matriarchal woman of birth

The womb that we had shared

My sister’s love, full of grace

My comfort and fears console

And put the smile on my face

She donned the mother’s role

She cared and fawned over me

As if I were her own

Giving so unsparingly

Love felt in every bone

Blessed am I this surrogate

For Mother’s missing love

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Hacks from my Happy Place-VIII

I mentioned recently that my ‘nesting’ instincts were starting to take hold. They’ve been getting stronger still, though I know it is far too early to really let them go wild.

However, the past several days, I have been doing what I guess could be called “pre-nesting”. It started because boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale at the grocery store this past week. I have numerous recipes that use chunked up chicken, and since I prefer white meat, this was a good deal. Usually, I would divide up the package into the amount I needed for whatever I was going to make a batch of, and stick them in the freezer. But a light-bulb moment clicked in my head, and I said to myself, “Self, why don’t you go ahead and cook it all, then chunk it up and then divide it into the portions you need and freeze them?” The answer was, “Self, that’s genius!” So I cooked (basically boiled) all of the breasts, let them cool, cleaned off any extra fat or skin, and cut them up. I stuffed two quart bags fill of ready-to-go chicken, which will make either a double serving of one recipe or two different recipes once it’s thawed! Then, I looked at the frozen hamburger in my freezer, and thought that it would be equally genius to thaw and cook then crumble all but one package. The whole package can be used for when I decide to make a meatloaf, but in the meantime, I have two packages of pre-cooked hamburger for when I want to make spaghetti sauce or something else. And the best part is that these bags can be labeled and stacked in my freezer, requiring very little space!

This is mine, without the automatic ice maker!

I haven’t started restocking my pantry yet, but I did get it organized and made a list of things I will need for a full restock. Because of the continued problems I’m having that make my chiropractor one of my favorite men in my life these days, I realize that it is best for me to do this in several shopping trips and phases, rather than force myself to have to carry heavy bags of canned goods up steps and into the house and all of the way to the kitchen, which is at the back. Living in a 200+ year old building that doesn’t offer much cabinet storage makes me limited in what I can store up on, but at least the cabinets go all the way up to the ceiling. My handy-dandy step stool and “Grabber” will get their usual workout come winter!

I guess I’m lucky to have one this size but with 3 shelves!

Of course, now my kitchen needs a good cleaning. Off to do it!