Serenity

Over against the world with all its turbulence, distraction and worry,
one should cultivate a style of mind that can reach through to an inner
stillness and calm.  The world cannot ruffle the dignity of a soul that dwells
in its own tranquility.  Gradually, this serenity will begin to pervade our
seeing and change the way we look at things.

John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

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Beauty in the garden and in the spirit

“Our deepest self-knowledge unfolds as we are embraced by Beauty.”

John O’Donohue, from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Looking at some old garden pictures, these massive sunflowers are from my summer of 2011 seedings.  Caught up in the warm and wonderful memories of my childhood, when these grew wild in back of our suburban home in Dallas, in 2011 I tried to recreate the warmth and beauty of the fondest of my childhood memories of home.  These grew to about 80 inches tall and were loaded with seeds for the birds to eat.

Spirituality and gardening have a superior connection in my life.  Reading from John O’Donohue’s books assures me that I’m not alone in this experience.

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Early garden pics

It’s early yet, but after some fits and starts to the Texas growing season, we are getting some weather that is warm enough to see some plant growth.   Here are a few pictures from my backyard garden.

Certainty and uncertainty…finding a sweet spot

I like to think of myself as being spontaneous, even a bit compulsive, when it comes to living every day.  Those who know me well think quite the opposite of me.  To a large degree, they are right!

Rigidity

The more rigid side of me wants to know the rules to play by, whether it is at work, at home, or hard at play.  Along with my own willingness to play by the rules, I expect others to respect the fact that rules are rules, especially when it comes to things that matter, like the workplace, or in relationships.  I believe a certain amount of rigidity enhances trust, that it does not detract from it.  By trusting others to follow the same rules to which we oblige ourselves, we can gradually learn to rely upon our coworkers and friends, that they will not betray our trust.  With practice and experience, it deepens the level of friendship we can have.

Spontaneity and new relationships

On the other hand, rigidity can stifle opportunity for discovery, for relationships which our “safer” side won’t allow, for learning we can swim in the deep end of the pool after all.  When we open our lives to spontaneity, we open ourselves up to new and exciting adventures and motivation for living joyfully.  We discover the beauty of diversity, and we learn that people are people, not enemies vs. friends.

Taking risks

So, what’s the problem?

Whether we can see it clearly or not, allowing or creating new opportunity by stepping out of our comfort zones, involves fear.  We are afraid of risks.  Things like rejection, embarrassment, feeling “stupid”, looking too “fat, ugly, tall, thin… (fill in the blank)” are small, though overwhelming, fears that tell us risks are treacherous and can lead to bad things, and humbling thoughts.

Finding the sweet spot

The way of greater joy and peace, I believe, is to find comfort in those things that we truly trust and upon which we can rely.  Once we are sure of those things, which, by the way, has a lot to do with finding comfort in ourselves, we can gain the confidence that new risks won’t kill us after all.

By taking small steps into this scary new world, we find interesting people, richer relationships, and lots of new things to think about, talk about, and relax about.  This, I believe, is the right path for anyone finding themselves entrapped in a cocoon of safety, and often, boredom.

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Lentils, black wild rice, and mustard greens soup

lentilsoupSunday is soup-making day!  I make a big pot of bean soup so I can have enough to take with me to work during the week.  Usually, I use whatever veggies I have that are “near death” in the fridge, but this week I harvested some mustard greens and some yellow chard from my garden to put in a soup with some dried lentils.  It is quite tasty.  Here’s the recipe:

One cup of dried lentils
One cup of black wild rice
2 cups of fresh mustard greens, roughly cut
1 cup of yellow swiss chard, or use something else if you don’t have any
1 can of organic, no salt added, tomato sauce
one-half cup of sliced fresh mushrooms
two stalks fresh celery (sliced thin)
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper

Bring lentils and rice to boil for about five minutes.  Lower heat, then add all other ingredients.  Bring to simmer for about forty minutes, or until rice is tender.  Slightly cool, and serve.

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The Experts: What role should government play in combatting obesity? – WSJ.com

This is an excellent article from doctors, business people, and health care professionals on whether or not the government should play a tougher role in managing obesity in the United States.

Most of the respondents concur that the government could, at least, step up educational efforts.  The article link is below, from the Wall Street Journal.

The Experts: What role should government play in combatting obesity? – WSJ.com.

Good morning, world!

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It’s easier to face each day when the beauty of natural things greets you like this!

On my way out the door to get a few groceries this morning, I turned around to see how my roses looked today.  I had to stop and take a picture.  The breathtaking beauty was enough to put a smile on my face and a reminder in my heart that we are but a small part of a world that strives to show itself off, like a little girl playing “princess” in her mommy’s high heels, red lipstick, and sequined gown.

How precious are the days in which we do nothing but enjoy what nature brings at our doorstep.