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In life, it’s the little things that most often impact our lives the most.  Except for those times when it’s the big things that usurp the moment ~ take the day ~ knock us off our feet ~ sweep us down the river of joy or tears.  Yes.  Most definitely it’s the big things that influence our lives the most.  That is, apart from the little things that instantly wrap our hearts in comfort or bring a fist-sized knot to our gut.  Or like when we awake with our eyes open to the peace surrounding us that sprang from within us. 

Oh yeah. 

Except for those times. 

It’s the bigs and the littles that get us every doggone time.

Last evening mi casa was filled to the brim with folks ready to fill their stomachs with hearty fare on their way to winning big time around the dining room table turned poker stake haven.  None of us sweated the small ‘taters such as only one-be gambler bringing their betting money (aka bag of change) or the rules to Texas Hold ‘Em being temporarily lost inside the Betting Brains of the operation (she quickly recalled and/or made the rules up as we went). 

Brew pub food was the menu of the evening along with this host’s mantra of keeping it simple, keeping it simple.  So grilled burgers and all of their accompanying accoutrements of cheese, thinly sliced yellow onion and bright red tomato, sour and salty dill pickles and assorted condiments ~ crispy tater tots, the food item fit for comfort and crunch ~ and, ice cold chunked up watermelon.  Chocolate dipped shortbread cookies rounded out the pre-betting battle game.

Monopoly money substituted quite nicely for the betting exchange and we were off for raucaus rounds of dealer’s choice poker.  We played 5-card draw, 7-card stud and the aforementioned (perhaps variation of) Texas Hold ‘Em.  Wild bets, excellent bluffs, transparently bad bluffs and begging for “do-overs” went round and round the rectangular stainless steel table.  And in the end folks, this host was the last one seated with a lot of cash in front of her.  And you know what?  Just for an instant it did not matter that the cash was fake.  I felt the flush of victory ~

Of course, I did not brag.  I was not a bad sport.  I did not crow.  Nor did I do the victory lap around this rectangular table, making the losers other players move out of my way.  No.  Of course not, did I act in any such way.  But if this host did, she would most certainly not post it on her public blog the next morning.  A-hem.

Fun.  Fun.  Fun. 

If you had been here, we could have high-fived or knuckle bumped or winked at one another.  But come to think of it, had you been here, I may not have been the evening’s winner.  Oh well.  Sometimes opening one’s heart and hearth to a different outcome is a risk worth taking.  I’ll let you know the next time the Queen of Hearts comes to visit.

Patti LaBelle’s Over the Rainbow Mac and Cheese recipe has been a go to favorita recipe in my family for a few years.  Although I have dubbed it Somewhere Over the Rainbow Mac n Cheese, the ingredients are the same.  My grandkiddos and my daughter love this casserole and request it from time to time.  And what’s not to love?  This dish is all about kinship and comfort and the riches that come from being at home with loved ones. 

The cast of characters include four kinds of cheese, one of which is Velveeta (and yes, Velveeta belongs to the cheese family ~ ask any kid), lots of half and half, and eggs.  Last night’s version contained smoky bits of bacon and was topped with crushed Ritz crackers and more shredded cheese. 

The side dishes were comprised of green beans slow cooked with bacon and cold juicy watermelon chunks.  A southern meal for sure that was topped off with bite size red velvet cupcakes with a cream chese filling and frosting.  Can you spell L-O-V-E? 

So, once again Patti and I pulled off another scrumptious meal.  And with all of that fancy cooking going on up in my small kitchen, we didn’t say one cross word to one another.  I’d say that me and Patti did a right fine job of rustlin’ up the ole grub tonight.

I must admit that I am somewhat of a compliment hound.  I soak up others’ appreciation of me and my efforts like a thirsty sponge.  A kind word.  A few words of acknowlegement of my worth.  A bright sunny smile accompanied with a little praise.  A nod of the head meant to convey kudos to me for a job well done.  All of these inspire me to toward positivity and being my best self. 

Self worth is at its best coming from within.  Why have our mood and our self view be so vulnerable, so at the mercy of external feedback?  Best to have our very own anchor to keep us steady when the winds of life toss us about on the open ocean. 

My head gets that concept.  My rational analytical brain nods in agreement to this premise, the idea that self worth must come from mine own self.  In real time, however, the Compliment Hound and Praise Sponge parts of me actively scan my environment for positive reinforcers of my worth. 

Just for today, I choose to appreciate both the Hound and the Sponge.  Afterall, I love canines and sponges come in mighty handy ~ perfect complements (wink) to my sturdy well-anchored sense of self worth.

Reflecting back to a year ago as I read through previous posts, private journal entries and summoned memories, I concluded that I am better off in my current moments than in the past already lived times. Better. More. Good progress.

And then the devil’s advocate side of me chimes in, challenging the notion of words such as better and more. Judgment calls, really. Getting my attention, this wily provocateur continues with growing insistence stating that all experiences are just that ~ experiences.  Life lessons if you will.  Or maybe even simpler yet, life in any given moment.  Why, this slightly miffed one asks, do we mere mortals insist upon grading life’s happenings as if only happy contentment is the holy grail.  Life is not meant to be a jazzed up cabaret, my dear, this ruffian extols. 

Growing weary of my now ranting inner nemesis I say, not so kindly, Shut Up.  Shut the F up and get out of my inner sanctuary ~ at least for this moment.  Because in this moment Mister Insister of Multifaceted Existence, you are bringing me down.  Muddying the waters.  You see, I agree with what I believe to be your basic premise ~ all experiences hold value.  I further agree with your assertion that… 

Yada yada yada.

Blah Blah Blah.

You see this morning, Mister Advocate, I am not into deep philosophical preponderances.  I was going another route of simple reflection and simpler yet gratitude.  So back to the beginning of my thoughts I go where I was saying that every aspect of my life is better than 12 months ago. 

  • The vertigo condition, although still with me, is more manageable and being treated;
  • I am working in my chosen professional field and making a financial living;
  • My living space is 200% improved;
  • There’s major progress made in sorting out an “it’s complicated” relationship;
  • An easing and deepening of familial ties;
  • Closer and more meaningful friendships with local friends;
  • New friendships that enhance my life;
  • A renewed spiritual awakening and daily practice;
  • A change in diet, while difficult, is much healthier and life sustaining;

~ more ~ better ~

~ much progress ~

There can be no doubt left in anyone’s mind of which season has us in its icy grip. And if there was a smidgin of denial left in anyone’s psyche, the number of snowflakes that fell yesterday well into the darkness of the night would have smothered any such ability to compartmentalize or sidestep the fact that King Winter remains seated on his ice carved throne.

Weather records are being broken right and left all over the far flung regions in my corner of this planet. Phrases like “one of the five coldest winters in recorded history” and “the coldest winter in the past 40 years” to the north of us ~ and slightly southeast of my location “the heaviest snowfall on record” ~ to my very own little slice of frozen ground “the coldest month of January” and the “most snowfall to date” of any recorded winter.

Avalanches, collapsing buildings, frozen cheerleaders, massive numbers of moose deaths on highways and a backlog up to two weeks for plow service.

Giddy ski enthusiasts, manic snowboarders, adrenaline seeking snowmachiners and yards filled with snow angels.

Yeppers, folks. We’ve got us a winter goin’ on up in this Land of Yes Virginia It is Almost Always Winter in This Neck of the Woods.

Events in my week conspired to remind me in multiple modalities to keep things simple. To return to the simple ways of life. To actively re-incorporate simplicity into my clinical work with the youth whom I serve and their families. To embrace myself through acts of simple acceptance. To uncomplicate my life in order to continue to thrive and grow instead of reverting to merely surviving.

I participated in a training workshop focused on delivering services to individuals who are considered cognitively impaired. The material reminded me that therapeutic progress is a journey. Reminded me that often times progress made by one’s soul or spirit cannot and should not be subjected to statistical analysis. No standard deviations nor quantitative studies need apply.

Change, even when defined as positive and maybe even more so when it is, has a split personality. At once both life changing and simple. Simplicity in its finest and most elemental form.

So at the end of this particular week, I am filled with a simple appreciation for my life ~ the part already lived ~ the moment I am experincing ~ and the part I anticipate with simple faith ahead of me.

February 2012
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