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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Personal Tormentors

"A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey
-- but a woman of strength has faith that  it is in the journey that she will become strong."
My mother always said that when life throws you lemons, add tequila and make margaritas. I'm sure she didn't mean that we should proceed to the nearest bar, although I just might have done that a time or two, as a healthy buzz can sometimes change one's perspective. Instead, I believe she meant that we need to try to find the best in others and in the situations we find ourselves in, no matter who is at fault.

With respect to her advice, this isn't always the easiest path to navigate. At first glance it appears much easier to dwell in the immediate misery, becoming bitter and resentful, holding a grudge, plotting revenge and crawling inside of ourselves. Be forewarned that doing so will shut us off from the rest of the world, stunt our personal growth, shade our happiness and wither our hearts (advice from my dad). We might as well be dead. Instead, although more difficult to traverse, it would appear to be wiser to choose the path to enlightenment which enables us to become better people through the difficult circumstances and blunders we sometimes find ourselves in.

Ultimately, these stressful situations most often involve a person who suffers from delusions of their own creation. I have no doubt these people have encountered their own personal trials but I also have no doubt that they have chosen to not better themselves because of those events. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that they live in a hallucination that is a complex web of pretenses and passive-aggressive motives that are required to maintain their deceptive reality. Unfortunately, I am sure we have all found ourselves faced with one of these so called personal tormentors of self esteem. Others might call them bullies. They are like the angel of death but instead they come to prey upon our self worth, hacking off bits and pieces of it until we are reduced to a shameful pile of insecurity that resembles our tormentor. Didn't someone say that the greatest cowards are most often the greatest bullies?

Ultimately, we must make a choice on how to react to that situation or that person. It's not always simple to remove ourselves from this type of oppressiveness. It takes time, patience, planning, and maybe even a good margarita (or two or three) to help us cope and forge a way out. But what I have found works best is a regular regime of dosing the self-esteem - consistently doing something that makes us feel worthwhile - mantras in front of the mirror, a therapist, a daily hug, writing in a journal, eating chocolate, a spa day, yoga, shopping, hanging with good friends, etc.  Much satisfaction can also be found in the role that karma plays - allowing the timeless cycle of what goes around, to come around. This ensures that the seed of self-respect that is planted within us, is nurtured and never allowed to waste away.  This cultivates an unbreakable pride and belief in the self.

And to those challenges we are facing or have faced, we may not fully understand why we had to go through them, but we will be able to say without a doubt, that we were able to emerge with only a few scratches because we reached deep within ourselves and found the will to survive.

And with that, I have this to say to a former personal tormentor who attempted to ruin me:

because of your lack of self respect, I learned to revere mine
because of your lack of organization, I honed my skills at juggling multiple priorities
because of your inefficiencies, I became a trusted resource
because of your childish immaturity, I matured and embraced my adulthood
because you were uncaring, I cared even more
because you took credit where credit was not due, I was not responsible for your failure
because you stole my ideas, I thought of better ones
because of your lies, I held steadfast to the truth
because you sought to destroy me, I became powerful
because you never followed through, I never let anything slip by
because you disliked me, I liked myself even more
because you put me down, I learned to build myself back up stronger
because you told me I was worthless, I grew to be invaluable
because of your unprofessionalism, I developed expertise 
because you hated me, I discovered how to love myself
because of your cruelty, I found compassion
because of your deceit, I acquired integrity
because of your weakness, I have limitless strength
And most all of, I forgive you. 

Because in forgiving our tormentors, we allow ourselves to grow and move on so that now when it's time for a margarita, it's not to drown our sorrows, but instead it's to celebrate our life, and applaud our strength. Although we might just be reveling in the fact that our tormentor no longer has a stronghold on us, we do wish for the sake of all humanity and the intricate web that connects us all, that they might grow a heart one day and resolve to become better people. 

Either way, each step we take through the journey of life, we are given the opportunity to enjoy it fully and to love ourselves and others with wild abandon. No one can ever take that away from any of us. So the next time you get a lemon, throw some tequila into the mix but don't cry about it, see it as a chance to find something wonderful, even if it is not immediately apparent.  Because love is what makes the world go round. And without it, we'd be just as bad as our personal tormentors.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tribal Law of Sisterhood

"Stop fighting and bickering.  One day you will realize how thankful you are for one another." ~ Our Mom, Mother of 4 Girls

There is something about having sisters that is an incredible gift.  My three sisters are my best friends.  No matter where we are in life or where life takes us, we always have each other.  We are sometimes strewn miles apart in our locations, differences, beliefs, convictions and habits, but our hearts are melded together in a bond that cannot be broken.  A bond that does not judge and a bond that only gets stronger with time.  

Of course as young girls, we fought, yelled and slammed doors in one anothers faces.  We stole clothes from each others closets and tattled when appropriate and to our advantage.  But as we grew up into young women, then wives, then mothers, we restored our sisterhood when we found we could balance life a little easier when we could revert to our familiar and comfortable role as sisters.  There is nothing in the world like having sisters. And there is nothing in the world that I wouldn't do for any of one of them. 

It's hard to explain sisterhood to those who don't have sisters. It's a complicated relationship based entirely on the cosmic rules of birth, shared blood and circumstance. Sisters aren't able to choose one another. Thrown together by fate and by the family they are born into, they must learn to tolerate one another's sudden appearance into their lives. Suddenly everything must be shared, and attentions must be split. Then rules and boundaries must be created in order to maintain individual identities while concurrently becoming friends. Conflicts arise as these boundaries are identified and experimented with. Lines are drawn and re-drawn, some are negotiated, some are forced. Yet inevitably with time, these closely guarded borders loosen. There is no need now for such a tight reign as we sisters have grown to trust and rely on one another and as we realize that without a doubt, if all others fail us, we will never fail each other. Our sisterhood is a tribe whose terrain is protected and defended vigorously.

Of course, mistakes are made, communication errors abound and misunderstandings occur.  Enough battles will be fought to sink any friendship but not a sisterhood.  These things only strengthen the bond and enforce the reliance on one another. For that is all it is - a temporary blip, a learning experience, learning to say I'm sorry and being sure to forgive. Because now matter what we do, we will always be sisters. We can never change that fact. Ever. 

Soon we appreciate the dawning realization that we are each others keepers for our entire existence and probably beyond. We have pack codes, a secret language and an intimate knowledge of each other that begins at birth and goes on through out our entire existence. We accept each other completely for who we are. We expect and fulfill a lifetime commitment to each other that requires no ceremony, no legalities, and no approvals. There is not another person on this earth that can penetrate our sister tribe or understand us the way we understand each other. We can all speak at once and still have heard each word the other said. We can speak with no words and still know what the other conveyed. We are each others universe,  a vast and complicated territory where no man dares tread and where others are intrigued by the mystery of this intense relationship we have. We are impenetrable. We are sisters united by our childhood. We know each others hearts, fundamental selves and are linked by a volatile love that gives meaning to our lives. There is no better friend than a sister and my sisters, there is no one better than you!

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities.  She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway.  She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark.  She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink.  Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child~Barbara Alpert

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ensalada de Pollo de Bling

In my never ending quest for excellent lunch menu items, I've come up with a fabulous spring recipe worth sharing. This dish, best served cool, is easily transportable and would be great to bring to a potluck, a picnic, a luncheon or even as a dinner side. I personally think this dish would pair nicely with blanket rolled out at the beach, bare feet and  a bubbling Prosecco. But without all that glam, it still worked nicely for my weekday work lunches which I paired with a big ole glass of agua.

Ensalada de Pollo de Bling (glammed up chicken salad with some bling)
Dairy Free, Grain Free (so naturally Gluten-Free), Egg Free and can be made Nut Free

  • Cook a whole organic pastured chicken:
    • Wash the chicken and remove innards
    • Rub in a bit of olive oil and a good bit of salt and pepper
    • Cook at 450 degrees for 15 minutes then turn down heat to 375 degrees for another hour, depending on the size of the chicken 
    • When done, check to be sure chicken reaches appropriate temperature
  • Set the chicken aside to cool
  • Pull the meat off from the bone
  • Shred or chop the cooked chicken into bite size pieces and put in a bowl

  • Add to the shredded/chopped chicken:
    • 1/2 cup chopped golden raisins
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts, pecans, pumpkins seeds and macadamias that I blended lightly together in a blender so they came out somewhat powdery - I don't like to have to chew nuts but still want the benefits)
    • 1 chopped organic apple
    • 2 cups chopped organic greens (I used kale and chard)
    • Organic olive oil drizzled on to taste
    • Pepper to taste
  • Mix well. Then throw off your shoes, pour yourself a glass of Prosecco and savor the goodness.

Some other ideas, as this is a very malleable recipe:

-Substitute flax oil for the olive oil
-Eat with a red wine rather than a white
-Use the chicken carcass to make yourself some good ole healthy home-made broth
-Wrap the chicken in lettuce to make a chicken taco