No Worries

She said, “I love that you say that, ‘No worries.'”

“Huh?” I asked. “Did I just say that?”

“Yes.”

I replayed the conversation in my head. Another asked me if I’d say a few words about some of our volunteers. I explained that I didn’t know them well, but I’d be glad to start them off, and invite others to finish. I did, I finished with, “No worries.”

“Oh yeah,” I answered.

“That makes it even better because it means it’s so ingrained in you that you really do mean: no worries.”

I agreed. I do. I really mean it: no worries.

If you’re open to life’s lessons they can and will teach you something. Having my sister die before I felt I could get to know her. Being on welfare as an adult after being on it as a kid. Two moments in my adult life that were very humbling and in close proximity. When Cristi was killed, I hadn’t spoken to my other sister in more than a month. I don’t even remember, now, what we were fighting about. Clearly, it was something trivial. Clearly, it didn’t matter in the scheme of things. The question begs: what would I have done if were my other sister who was killed? She is the one I am close to. She is the asset in my life.

That’s a point to ponder. And, I have. For the last four years.

It’s been said to me that I am an easy-going person. But, I know the times where my controlling nature takes over and I am much less easy-going. So, although I struggle balancing my easy-going nature with my type A personality, I recognize, more, the value of letting things be. I recognize, more, the need for me to step back and listen even if I have a hard time-sharing an opinion. I recognize, more, the need to not worry.

So, no worries. Life deals us crises all the time. Shit blows up in our faces and we forget that we’re rational and how to deal. No worries. The shit will fall and we’ll clean it up and move on.

No worries doesn’t mean inaction, though. No worries means being proactive. No worries means taking steps to fix the problems that come our way.

When I sold books door to door, one of the mentors, if you will, taught us that life doesn’t give us problems. Rather, life gives us teachers, and we will be given the same teacher until we learn the lesson. That thought resonated with me, especially as I looked at the repeat boyfriend types I had in my 20s! Or, when I looked at other relationship issues I had encountered. Or, when I considered my university path.

My values shape my “no worries” philosophy, certainly. Family, to me, is number one. I value my familial relationships first. I value our societal stewardship towards our environment, next, as it speaks directly to my family’s existence in the future. Being at peace with myself and my god, actually, takes a third rung. These priorities are loose, and depending on the day they will switch levels. But, they all aid in my “no worries” philosophy.

Someone was irritated with a choice I made today. This person could hold some power over me, if I let her. The choice, though, doesn’t matter a hoot in the scheme of anything. It doesn’t affect anyone’s livelihood. It doesn’t cause harm on anyone. It doesn’t even inconvenience that many people, if any. It, likely, was a choice that became an irritation because of other circumstances in her life.

No worries. I vented with a friend to ponder the choice/irritation and help make sense of it. But, it doesn’t bother me. I might get defensive if approached in person about the choice as there were specific circumstances that led to the pattern. But no one died. No one died. Most of the choices I make daily, nary would affect a life or death decision. So, no worries.

I know, for now, that I have my priorities. I know my values. I am thankful to be secure in my relationships. I am learning myself to the point that I know myself. I remember my choices. I make conscious choices, even if it felt random at the time. So, no worries.

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Honey

Honey
Honey. Image via Wikipedia

I forgot about the glorious properties of honey. I’ve been suffering with this awful sinus infection (the one that sits in my lungs) for more than 10 days. Coughing every minute or two.

Honey, said my co-worker. She chided me for being silly. I don’t blame her.

Honey. Duh.

I took a spoonful tonight. It sank down, past my tongue as it oozed into my throat. It was the second reprieve from coughing for the night. The first was when I took a 20 minute, hot, steamy shower. For half of that shower, I didn’t cough.

So, after my co-workers sound advice, another co-worker and I ventured off to the local coffee shop. I bought tea. With honey. Peppermint and chamomile. Delicious perfection, and the only thing that will compliment all the cough drops I’ve been sucking down.

This is why I am not vegan. I feel blessed with the glorious nectar that bees deliver us. I try to source my honey locally and responsibly so that I may benefit from its healing properties. Allergies, colds, health in general.

Ah, the sweet goodness of honey.

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The Big Rock

Cousins Galore!
Another generation of cousins. This picture was taken under the crab-apple tree at the farm in 2009. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Four of us could sit on it. It came to my shoulders. It was moss-covered. It was an icon. It was “The Big Rock”.

I was less than 7 years old. Every time we drove down my grandparents road, we would stop and see the big rock. I still do this, even though I have a harder time finding it, and it’s no longer as big as I remember. When I was less than 7 years old, it was huge. To my adult eyes perspective has changed. This rock, though, was our icon. We visited often when we visited. We begged my uncle Danny to escort us to the rock. We would run around, ogle it, play with it. It was ours.

The big rock was an icon of the farm, the one place I will always call home. I moved around a lot as a kid, so the one thing that was always there was the farm. Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Sure, some things have changed. The barn has crumbled. The tire swing broke. Picnic tables have changed. The garden has its own ebbs and flows. But the house stands, the rock stands, even if it isn’t as big as I recall.

I wonder what Levi will take away from his childhood. I won’t nor can I recreate all the good memories from mine. I wonder if I’ve as consistent with instilling tradition as my mother was. What will his big rock be? What will the thing he takes away from being a kid be? The thing that holds all the golden memories of summer. The thing that transports you when you smell a certain smell.

When I envision this image of the big rock, I am that age — less than 7. We are all sitting on the rock. Now, as an adult only one and a half fit. How could it really fit 3 of us when we were 7? Were our bums that small? It’s balmy. It’s summer. So, the it must be in the upper 70s or low 80s. The gravel road is dusty, so it’s been dry for some time. The sky is a brilliant blue. There is a hint of gold on the deciduous trees, so it must be August. And, fall must be just around the corner. The grass is high. The fields haven’t been used for hay in a few years. The apples, on the crab-apple tree, are getting bigger. We pick wild flowers on our way back.

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Thanksgiving 2011: The Prep

Turkey Brine
The bucket and brine for last year's 22lb turkey. This bucket (with lid) was purchased as the end-all brining tool. This year, I'm using a cooler. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I love Thanksgiving. It warms the heart with memories, and it stirs the soul with the coordination it takes. It’s a perfect blend of my culinary dreams and project coordination skills: married on one delicious day.

That is, if all goes according to plan.

This year, I decided to get my turkey from our local farmer. We’ve been working with him for almost two years, and I’ve got 80% of our meat products out of the grocery store and in his control. So, I thought, why not the Thanksgiving bird. Heck, I’ll even buy two. If I had two 16lb turkeys, what joy would that yield at Christmas time.

All my tools have been purchased for larger turkeys. Last  year I maxed out my pan’s capability with a 22lb turkey. So, two 16lb or 18lb turkeys would be ideal.

The turkeys didn’t grow that way. They got bigger. In fact, many were in the upper 20lb range, some yielding over 30lbs!!

These are big birds. And, my bird is 28lbs. TWENTY EIGHT POUNDS!

What is a gal to do?

Tell her story. So, that’s what I did. Suddenly, my joyously planned occasion was turning into a dreaded chore filled with anxiety over how I’m going to brine and cook this bird. I am even exploring a new menu — so the turkey must be predictable!

One friend suggested a cooler for the brining. I just need to thoroughly clean it out. Then, another group I was with, for work, suggested I ask Levi’s school if they had a large pan in their kitchen. It turns out, they do! And, they are willing to lend me this one pan that I will return Monday.

The best news: The bird fits!

The Roasted Bird
Last year's 22lb turkey from New Seasons fit snuggly in my roasting pan. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Right now, Mr. Turkey is bathing in my bath, to help thaw (I forgot to take him out of the freezer yesterday (D’oh!)), then he will sit in our cooler for 12+ hours in a salt and citrus bath.

Tomorrow, I must have him in the oven by 6am.

As I review the list of items I plan to cook, and as I think about what else I need from the store, a thought has occurred. I think I can use all things purchased through my food club, that is, in my pantry for Thanksgiving. Cranberries in the freezer, pork sausage in the freezer, white potatoes instead of red…

Things are looking up. Problems have been solved with the help of my friends. Project coordination can commence.

Yea Thanksgiving!

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Speak Power to Story

"Santa's" gift  to Levi.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I have always loved stories. Give me a good fiction any day of the week. For example, I just read the Millennium Trilogy (over 2,100 pages) in less than two weeks. It was that good. But, I didn’t get the point of some stories until I took a little independent study at Portland State called Speak Power to Story.

We learned words like: meta-narrative. We discussed ideas of groups telling their own stories with dramatic play methods. We linked it together with how when we share our stories we share truth. We compared that to the stories we collectively tell ourselves and the actual stories that we are living. We juxtaposed the famed Booker T. Washington‘s stories with how many people can successfully pick themselves up by their bootstraps and make a successful living by today’s standards.

Mental power, notwithstanding, this was a hugely enormous class for how I frame the world. It was one of those “I get it” moments. It is the Occupy movement.

Every time you see someone share their story of how [we] are a part of the 99%, that is speaking power to story. That is showing how the meta-narrative under which we live is wrong. It showcases that we owe it to ourselves to tell a truer story. We owe it to ourselves to listen to others’ stories. We owe it to our world to stop, to listen, to learn, and to change and grow together.

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Growing Up

Camera Exlporations
Peter and (sister-in-law) Jodi, September 2009. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I’ve heard it said that a true test of character would be if a camera (unbeknownst to you) were to follow you around, capturing moment by moment, everything you did. All your faults and virtues would be on display. Then, if you could see that video, you would have an assessment of your true character.

I’ve had this image in my head since I was in middle school. I’m finally at a place in my life where I am feeling secure in my relationships. And, tonight, I got that validation. It actually brought tears to my eyes. Everyone says that going through school is hard and that elements of being an adult are easier. Even if they don’t say being an adult is easier, most adults don’t want to repeat those awkward growing up years.

Growing up, in a small town, where the cliques were ingrained since pre-kindegarten with very little room for nuance, is hard. You’re trying to inch your way into these formed friendships, and in my case not feeling secure in my home life either. (My mother, siblings, and maternal extended family are great; but when dad leaves when you’re 5, your world gets shaken up.) So, the kids didn’t feel receptive to my presence. And, it was hard. And, I never understood why. And, sometime in middle school, I wanted a video camera to go through and document my entire existence so I could know what I was doing wrong.

It never happened. I never got the video camera.

But, I grew up. I made some mistakes. I made some huge faux-pas with my sister. (Sorry Stacer, I’m glad we’re maturing together, by the way.) But, I think I learned.

Pukefest 2010 Redux - 1
Peter and Levi (under the weather), Thanksgiving 2010. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

The thing is, I remember that hurt. I remember how it felt to be left out, and I would never wish that on anyone. So, I try, really hard, to ensure most of my decisions reflect that value of being included. It’s a value that is so inherent to my core, that it just is. Meaning: I don’t always realize I am doing a thing that reflects that value.

Tonight, though, I was validated. Tonight, the camera was briefly shown back to me. Tonight, a friend kindly validated the choices I’ve made in dealing with a tenacious situation. Tonight, I was reminded of my core friends whose friendships I can be secure with because they see me how I want to be seen, and I see them as they want to be seen. As I am. As they are. Faults and virtues, all in one.

If someone had told me when I was in middle school that I would find lasting friendships with sincere people, I would never have believed them. I am thankful, in this week of Thanksgiving, for these friendship. Friends, I hope you know that. Thank you for letting me into your lives and into your inner circles. Now, as an adult, I can say that I am glad I’ve grown up.

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Browsing Aimlessly

I find myself mindlessly refreshing my facebook page, waiting for a new post. I’m not sure why. I printed what I need printed. I done with the computer. There is nothing left. No more emails are coming in. No more cancellations or additions for tomorrow’s event. Everything is set. I’m on track. Yet, I can’t get up!

So, here’s a post to say, good night Internet. Good night moon. Good night computer. Here comes bed.

One Thing at a Time

On the micro level, I can only do one thing at a time. Take a sip of water. Read a book. Wash a dish. Rinse a dish. Put clothes in the laundry. Type a note. Watch a movie. Watch Levi play a game. Play with Levi while playing a game. Talk to my husband.

On the macro level, I never do only one thing a time. This, I suppose, is a lesson I have yet to learn. If it’s one worth learning. My mother certainly always told me to only do one thing a time. One foot forward. One step at a time. One thing at a time. But, they are words I hardly heed on a daily, weekly, yearly basis.

I’ve always been involved in multiple activities. School teaches one to do so. You have 7 classes and 3 extra curricular activities at any given time. So, you’re constantly juggling: balancing.

When I started college (my MSU days), I was frustrated, at first, with the amount of reading material assigned. We’d read a book a week — for each class, and I was taking three or four.

I’ve gotten so used to these habits, that my norm is that feeling of trying to balance. Unless a book is deeply engaging (like the just finished Millennium trilogy), I will always have 3 or 4 on my “reading” shelf. I pick through a few paragraphs a day, maybe finishing the book inside of a month. Right now, there are three on the top of the list, and a total of 10 holding the rest.

The thing is, I like that juggling. I like feeling successful at the juggling. I like the sense of accomplishment when I finish out a week with home cooked meals, baked bread, to go meals ready for the first few days, successful meetings had, future meetings planned, and ready and rarin’ to go on Monday. On the micro level, I check off one thing at a time. But, the big picture shows I really have at least 4 major things going, on top of the books to read and meals to plan.

How do you go through life? Multiple projects? Or as close to one thing at a time that a person can get? How do you want to go through life? Are these two things different?

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