This One Day

What if you died tomorrow? A shocking question possibly, but very important nonetheless. For the young and healthy it may even seem irrelevant, very likely abhorrent. 
But really, what if you died tomorrow?  What would die with you? What words? What blessings? What gratitudes you never got round to sharing with the ones you treasure most?
Five years ago today the man I loved, died. For six months, he embraced a profound vulnerability that allowed us courageous conversation to the end. It isn’t always this way. Some people are gone in an instant. A different loss. One potentially loaded with regrets of things not said.

In the routines of daily life, our energies are easily allotted to the plethora of copious tasks. We make numerous commitments to our work and our world, experts at showing up on time, preparing the dinner, social networking. But where do we make time to share with our family, friends and colleagues what we deeply love and appreciate about each of them? Maybe we do? Could we do more? What would it look like?
“We are most fully ourselves when we give ourselves away,” suggests Karen Armstrong.* Undoubtedly. Maybe the question needs to be how and how often.
How often, caught in the “To Do list” of life do we stop and reflect on the ways someone has enriched our life? How often do we consider what we might never have known without their companionship or expertise?
How often do we take the time, or muster the courage, to tell them? (Assuming they already know, is an illusion.)
The joy of such words for both giver and receiver would be nothing short of astounding. Besides, who doesn’t want to hear words of gratitude or admiration? Nobody I know!
  
Today is a new day. The one day we have for sure. Start giving yourself away. 
* The Spiral Staircase 

The Call of the Croissant

Let yourself be silently drawn

by the strange pull

of what you really love.

It will not lead you astray. 

~ Rumi ~

Does food count? It’s one of the things I really love. On occasion it does, however lead me astray. The twice-baked chocolate almond croissants from Bakery Nouveau left me way off course. 
It was on the ‘Must Do’ list left by my friends whilst here in Seattle. They’re away on an ‘active’ vacation. Crossing multiple bridges, waiting close to an hour in a jammed up four-lane highway, cutting across three lanes of snarled traffic within half a block, the traffic cop exclaiming, “You gotta be kiddin‘ lady” and I was on my way! Yes, the call of the croissant. 

The line of patient shoppers spilled out onto the street alerting me to the correct location. Didn’t need that carefully recorded street address after all. 

The multi-coloured macaroons welcomed, followed by an array of lunch-ready baguettes, “brown paper packages tied up with string”, confirmed this place was loaded with a few of my favourite things! 

Saving the best for last, the croissant display, the pièce de résistance, left me contemplating a possible new life in France. It occurred to me that not all calories are created equal, rather like men and wine. Surely croissant calories must be in a different category from those of broccoli or yogurt! More like calories on hormones.


Intrigued at first as to the ‘how-to-itness’ of twice-baked croissants, my curiousity quickly melted away and my eyes took over. To come this far the extra-super caloric punch was the way to go. Maybe this is what they mean by listening to your inner voice? 
I chose the one with the most words on the label.
“I’ll have one of those please,” I stammered as the croissant tray laden with flaking almonds, chocolate and icing sugar was seductively drawn out onto the counter. Mine to hand pick, kind of like getting a new puppy. 
I can’t really begin to explain the love-fest thereafter, the continual line-up of les amoureux de la boulangerie française said it all, only better. Something akin to warm chewy, buttery, flaky, exquisitely layered, not too sweet and thank God I only bought one.
It’s great to be led astray. It’s what makes us feel alive, usually guilty, but always certain of our human foibles. “To be constantly strong is a weakness” I recall a lovely man once telling me, and at once feel vindicated. I plan to be led astray again next week when a dear friend comes to visit. Bakery Nouveau needs to be on her ‘Must Do’ list, and I’m the driver!
Bakery Nouveau is at 4737 California Street in West Seattle. 

Confessions of a House Sitter

 

To procure a new tenant with some certainty, my landlord asked that I vacate my luxury pad at the end of July. I complied. Homeless, I considered a stint as house sitter. An opportunity to gauge my readiness for change in the months ahead. Contemplating life without my familiar kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, choice condiments and sauces would, I thought, be wonderful practice for my approaching life of uncertainty.

So a well-connected and dear friend landed me my first job. I was introduced to a lovely couple with a lovely house where I now hang my hat. Then I met the cat. The cat didn’t take to me.
First night, exhausted and sleep deprived, I was ready to call it a day. My Plan: find cat, place in assigned room, climb into bed, sleep. The Cat’s Plan: not the same as mine. Anyone who has ever lived with a cat knows they have no intention of acquiescing to the demands of another. I guess I’d forgotten about this bit. In the world of cats, pointy teeth and claws carry weight, size does not. Check out any ‘Simon the Cat’ clips on You Tube.
Heading out to scour the dark pockets of the back yard, where I figured she joyfully lay-in-wait, I called and cajoled and tapped her brush against my thigh (having been assured this would have her sprinting back inside), all to no avail. The evening hours drew on when finally, glinting shards of glass caught in my flashlight. Feline eyes. Eureka. Sleep was temptingly close. I could feel the cool sheets calling my name. I reached out an open but desperate hand. “Here kitty,” I cooed. But like a scene from a Stephen King movie she let me have it! I had visions of bloody pools settling where I had once stood. The neighbours ogling at the grizzly scene as daylight revealed the destruction from the previous night’s crazed cat attack.

The horror over, prickly and shaken we parted ways, she dashing ever deeper into the night, me retreating to lick my wounds, admitting a sure defeat.

Having relinquished ‘control’, I collapsed on the sofa, teary-eyed, wondering if this house sitting thing was for me. How long had I signed up to do this?

We’re friends now. I feed her. She ignores me. It’s great. That and I close the doors long before the evening damp might tempt her for a repeat performance.
So as I leave this place, my ‘home’ of two weeks, I think I might even miss her.

Tying the Knot

Wedding anniversary – time to celebrate tying of the proverbial knot, except ours came loose late in the last century. Wrong man at the right time? Possibly. Good rope? Probably. Knot-tying challenged? Definitely.

(from www.captainconcierge.com)
No wonder so many have a hard time keeping the knot tied! Too much weather damage, dizzying twists and turns, rodents knawing on aging threads.
Groucho Marx joked, “Marriage is an institution, but who wants to be institutionalized?” Me once, almost twice. Renewing instead, a vow of freedom, an embodiment of possibilities to guide the journey ahead.

Today, a dear friend commits himself ‘for better or worse’. A great sailor, I trust he’s got the knot-tying thing under wraps.

Reframe Your Life, Repair Your Mood

In his book ‘Why Good Things Happen to Good People’ author Stephen Post claims that Giving is the all-important ingredient for good health. No doubt. Practicing gratitude tops the list. Short of the Oprah version of listing 10 things as we fall into bed each night, (easy on good days and easily forgotten on all the rest) requires further insight. What more can we thankless ones try?
Celebrate, for one. Count me in. Celebration wells up from a state of gratitude, moves us from fear to faith, (envisage a spider’s web a circle of love before prompt removal) and my favourite, “moves us from tired to inspired”. OK, now I really want to get on the party plans. Who doesn’t want to be inspired?
Savour the day. There’s just this one for sure. Go ahead and ponder something, anything that you might be remotely or hugely grateful for. And if it involves giving food, wine, music, and great conversation then you’ve got it going on.