PRAYER

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

Father, unto thee I pray,
Thou hast guarded me all day;
Safe I am while in thy sight,
Safely let me sleep tonight.
Bless my friends, the whole world bless;
Help me to learn helpfulness;
Keep me ever in thy sight;
So to all I say good night.               

There is a fair amount of consternation about why we should pray. Most of us know about the foxhole payer where we ask God to get us out of a particular mess and we will agree to do heavy penance.  Our intentions are good, albeit short-lived. And many of us have presented a shopping list to God hoping that it will be fulfilled. Then we shake our heads and tell ourselves that prayer doesn’t work. Prayer is not merely making supplications before God for our needs. Prayer is the connection between humans and God, communicating with each other.

Thankfully, there is no one way of praying and those who have the need for prayer find their own way. Prayer is definitely a conversation with God. Since my thinking is often my source of chaos, I always ask God to direct my thinking. It works for me, but I have to be attentive. I also engage in Centering Prayer, whereby I attempt to empty my mind of distraction and hopefully gain direction from the Divine. Action is a necessary part of prayer; helping those in need, getting on with our daily work, and putting every moment into the presence of God. Singing, playing an instrument, saying a prayer aloud in groups, public worship, or simply silence are all part of connecting with the Divine.

Prayer is a way of relating to God, to ourselves, to those around us. In opening our hearts and minds and souls to God we are challenged to grow, change, and to love. Just as we make time to spend with those we love, so in making time to pray we are seeking to grow in our relationship with the Divine.

Prayer is being in the moment, being present, being open to new ways. It is a way of learning to become our TRUE SELVEs and to be comfortable in the presence of God. Since GOD is a presence that infuses every moment and every space, prayer focuses our attention in order to encounter the Divine.

I want to know the way of the Divine so that I can change; be open to transformation, to becoming more loving, peaceful, gracious, compassionate. It’s not an easy path and being open in prayer can often be a painful experience as we find and confront those parts of ourselves which we might not be keen on seeing. 

You can pray anytime and anywhere. The freedom to pray anywhere, though, often leads to praying nowhere. We should absolutely pray spontaneously whenever and wherever prayers arise in our hearts — during a break at work, before a test, in line with our groceries. But our lives are fueled by prayer, so we shouldn’t leave it up to spontaneity.  Pick a time and a place to be silent and pray on a consistent basis.

For some people, setting aside time to be alone with God is intimidating. In fact, for many today, any time alone at all — no friends, no television, no phones — is unnerving. After all, we are speaking to almighty God here. He already knows everything we need and everything we are going to say. One important thing to learn early on about prayer is that it truly is a conversation. God is truly listening when we pray.

If we’re honest, many of us lack courage and imagination in our prayer lives. We have a tiny little box of routine things we’re willing to ask God for, and we take on everything else — our questions, our frustrations, our dreams — on our own. We assume God’s not interested in or doesn’t have time for the small details of our day. And we can’t even imagine him conquering a global crisis, so we settle for middle-of-the-road mediocre requests. We wait to pray about something until it becomes “serious enough” for God to care about. Accordingly, we deprive ourselves of his mercy and power in massive areas of our life and world.

Prayer is powerful.

Visit My BLOG @ http://www.weaver1888@gmail.com

t. michael smith

THREE RECIPES

Jambalaya

Slow Cooker Jambalaya with andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp cooked low and slow with bold spices and vegetables with just 10 minutes of prep.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts skinless, boneless, cut into chunks
  • 1pound andouille sausage links sliced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes 28 ounces
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1pound shrimp 13-15 count

Preparation

  1. Add all the ingredients except the shrimp into the slow cooker and stir.
  2. Cook on low for 7-8 hours (high for 3-4 hours), in the last 15 minutes add in the shrimp.
  3. Serve over rice.
So GOOD!!

Three Bean Rice Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked wild rice blend or brown rice cooled
  • 15 oz kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz black beans rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno diced

Dressing Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake until thoroughly combined.
  3. Toss dressing with salad.
  4. Refrigerate for an hour for best flavor
Truly Delicious!!

Banana Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes Vanilla Wafers
  • 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (5 oz.) box French Vanilla pudding
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Preparation

  1. Line the bottom of a 13×9-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
  2. In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer.
  3. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth.
  4. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.
  6. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Prep Time:30 minutesYield:12 servings

MY FAVORITE!!

READ My Old and Quirky Blog

@

www.weaver1888.com

TRUE SELF

TRUE SELF

How often do you feel that a friend, colleague, or a spouse reveals their true self to you?  The real person?  Maybe you get glimpses at times when you think someone’s actions represent who they actually are. I wager that you have lots of beliefs about yourself and other people. You use these beliefs to indicate why people act in a certain way. If someone yells at you, you may forgive them because you know their life isn’t going so well. Or, you mistrust them because you feel they are angry about something you have done. Or, you might even think that their true self reflects their anger about everything, and you should have no contact with them. Accordingly, there are times when you believe that a person’s actions reflect the situation they are in or their current mental state.

I have trouble discerning the true self of others.  This is an area that is part of the “I don’t know” category for me most of the time.  There are plenty of times when I first meet someone that I decide we don’t connect, we are not on the same page, and I don’t spot anything about them that I like.  There are times when I decide to dislike someone before I meet them.  Then after a time, I grow to like them. I need the willingness to give them and me a period of adjustment, a pause if you will.

Human beings possess a host of qualities that are similar, but it is their unique combination that creates the individual and their singular true self.  Mystics are not the only ones that can be in touch with their true self. Most believe that the true self is moral and good. It is the notion that everyone is born with instincts that differentiate the good from the evil. So, when people make changes in their behavior, we are more inclined to believe it reflects their true self when they change from doing something bad to something good than vice versa. When someone has been self-serving for a long period, but realizes that serving others is the better course, we believe they have gotten in touch with their true self.

We all have gifts that guide the true self: a zest for life; a rational way of thinking; a certain amount of creativity; freedom from the bonds of self; gut feelings that are based on proper discernment of right and wrong; a spiritual path; and the ability to love and be loved. Our nature is determined by our usage of these gifts. Your choice and my choice can be to allow these gifts to grow and prosper; to engage in actions that feed, protect and care for them. Or, we can allow them to lie fallow.  It is amazing that these qualities often remain dormant and we function below our potential as a human being. But our gifts remain, simply waiting for an awakening.

Do I want a life filled with meaningful opportunities or do I want to be left with an unfulfilled yearning for something better?  The choice seems obvious, so why do so many choose the latter path?

I once was a partner in a firm that was incredibly profitable and prosperous.  We didn’t know why that was the case.  Some believed we had the uncanny ability to find good people in all the towns and cities where we had offices.  Some thought it was the vibrant southeastern marketplace which was our home. Others of our more egocentric brethren wondered if our abilities might be greater that we assumed.  Many believed in luck—we were just uncommonly lucky.  Once or twice, it was suggested that we do a thorough review of our business to find the elements of our success.  Our executive committee, of which I was part, voted 5-0 in the negative. We were afraid of what me might find or we would change our luck if that turned out to be the reason.

Why do folks allow their gifts to remain hidden and unused? FEAR most of the time. We are afraid of what we might find. Fear is a dominant emotion for a good may folks. Other common emotions include surprise, happiness, joy, sadness and anger. Do you feel open and willing to express all of your emotions with zeal during your daily activities? Or do you fear what others might think of you? What if I told you that other’s thoughts about you are none of your business?

I wanted to know how my emotions were dominating my life and how the chaos (my executive committee–squirrels) going on in my head was ruining my life.  I read about Thomas Merton and his struggles to find his true self. I wondered if a true self existed for me. I talked to priests and ministers, psychologists, smart women, smart men, and I read Emmett Fox, Carl Jung, William James, and the COURSE in Miracles. Finally, I looked at me. I could not go forward without knowing who I was and what I was.  I had to look at people who angered or damaged me, at businesses and relationships that had deprived me of my just rewards, and at what scared me.

As you probably surmise, this accounting did not go in my favor. I had harmed far more people than had harmed me, mostly those for whom I expressed love and affection. The failure of my business and the anticipated membership on the New York Exchange (life-long dream) was of my own making. And fears centered on my inability to acknowledge mistakes and learn from failure. My outsized ego and my sense of self importance created anger that would not go away.  It blocked joy and happiness and my relationship with God.

Luckily my way of thinking began to change.  My understanding of life and progress through it were inhibited by my usage of certain emotions and my blockage of others.  I could easily access fear, anger, and sadness in the extreme. But happiness and joy were absent. And I hated to be surprised. I had to make different choices and I needed help to do it.

I realized that I wasn’t connected to the Source. I wanted the power to transform my life and found that empowerment by connecting to God via a spiritual path. Centering prayer, solitude and silence were critical. I made a pilgrimage to the Abbey of Gethsemane, was silent for five days, went to services three times a day, and walked in Merton’s shoes.  I reshaped myself and my life. I began to take risks and embrace new possibilities.  I was generating happiness and joy from within rather than accepting external formulations of it. I freed my self from my self and made my relationship with God central to my life.

Things occur in life over which we have no control.  Many will attribute these things to fate, randomness, nature, physical reality, or coincidence. There are no coincidences. It is the Spirit that provides the answers for us in all things.  We find the Spirit when we discover and actively engage our True Self.

Love is the highest human function and where we put our True Self to its greatest use. St Francis tells us that it is better to love than be loved    That would deny the intrinsic social nature that humans have to be loved and love another. By trusting another to know one’s own self through their eyes, we free our self to union–to love and be loved.  Loving connections convey the ultimate expression of our True self.

It’s OKAY to Be Me!

It’s Okay to be ME!

More often than I’d like to admit, something seemingly inconsequential will lead to a feeling of deep frustration, even shame. This is often accompanied by occasional voices like “How stupid!” and “You should have known better”.  I was recently planting a tomato and I broke the main stem of this beautiful plant.  I used the very words, “HOW STUPID, YOU CAN’T EVEN PLANT A TOMATO!”  UH, I had already planted two. That’s the thing about perfectionism. It takes no prisoners.  I’ve struggled with perfectionism and I’m far from alone. The tendency starts young – and it’s becoming more common.

The rise in perfectionism doesn’t mean each generation is becoming more accomplished. It means we’re getting sicker, sadder and even undermining our own potential. And we don’t know the joy of imperfection.

Perfectionism, after all, is an ultimately self-defeating way to move through the world. It is built on an excruciating irony: making, and admitting mistakes is a necessary part of growing and learning and being human. It also makes you better at your career, relationships, and life in general. By avoiding mistakes at any cost, a perfectionist can make it harder to reach their own lofty goals.

But the drawback of perfectionism isn’t just that it holds you back from being your most successful, productive self. Perfectionistic tendencies have been linked to a laundrylist of clinical issues: depression and anxiety,  self-harm, binge-eating, anorexiabulimia, and other eating disorderspost-traumatic stress disorder insomniahoarding, , chronic headaches, and, even early death and suicide.

Culturally, we often see perfectionism as a positive. Even saying you have perfectionistic tendencies can come off as a coy compliment to yourself.

Can a person have high standards, motivation and discipline without being a perfectionist?  The answer is yes, unless your best never seems good enough and not meeting goals frustrates you. Doing your level best and knowing it, is good enough. Why should you beat yourself up for mistakes or feel like you can’t meet expectations? 

Striving for excellence, isn’t actually being a perfectionist.  I can have high standards, integrity, and clear goals without being a perfectionist. Perfectionism enters when that   little voice surfaces, “you are not good enough.”  That inner voice criticizes different things for different people – work, relationships, tidiness, fitness. Perfectionists can make smooth sailing into a storm, a brief ill wind into a category-five hurricane. And, because the ironies never end, the behaviors perfectionists adapt make them more likely to fail.

The trouble is that, for perfectionists, performance is intertwined with their sense of self. When they don’t succeed, they don’t just feel disappointment about how they did. They feel shame about who they are. Ironically, perfectionism then becomes a defense tactic to keep shame at bay: if you’re perfect, you never fail, and if you never fail, there’s no shame.

Where is this increase in perfectionism coming from? When you keep in mind the idea that perfectionism stems from marrying your identity with your achievements, the question might become: where isn’t it coming from? After all, when you meet someone, the first question you ask is what they do for a living. Often our accomplishments or our job correlate to our ability to pay rent or put food on the table.  Where we then signal our access to those resources with our appearance – these shoes, that physique – and other people weigh that, in turn, to see if we’re the right person for a job interview or dinner invitation, we just might set ourselves up for disappointment.  Often this happens without any real knowledge of the true self emerging. And as a perfectionist, the main focus is on achievement and appearance.

What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. Perfection is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. Aretha Franklin is my favorite female singer, but does that mean I can’t enjoy Barbara Streisand?

So, celebrate your imperfection.  Look at yourself with a view of learning who and what you are.  Then honestly accept what you find. You no longer need to be smartest or the dumbest or any other “est.”  Its okay to be you. The perfect human being is so because of their imperfections.

GROWING UP

Family life in the 50’s was far different from any decade over the past 100 years. By understanding the distinctiveness of the 50’s, we can avoid bemoaning the changes in the family that have occurred since then.

In the late 1950’s, about three-fourths of all women between the ages of 20 and 24 had already married; currently, only 13% of all women in that group have married. These statistics sometimes are used as evidence that, increasingly, young adults are rejecting marriage, but such a conclusion is unfounded. Today, the ages at which young people marry are very similar to the ages at which they married between 1890 and 1940. In the unusual 50’s, young adults married earlier than in any generation in the past 100 years.

The nation’s birth rate has been declining steadily since the early 19th century; the sole exception was the postwar baby boom. Most of the women who reached peak childbearing years in the 50’s had at least two children, and they spaced them closer than either their mothers’ or their daughters’ generations. Beaver’s family was typical of most Americans.

Moreover, there were fewer divorces among couples married in the 50’s than the historic rate. The incidence of divorce has been on the rise at least since the Civil War, but the increases in the 50’s were comparatively modest.

There was a general shift in attitudes toward marriage and childbearing as considerable stress was placed on the importance of home, family, and children. Many popular commentators ascribed this shift to a great national exhaustion: Emotionally drained from their battle against a monstrous enemy, Americans shunned the great issues of the day and retreated into their personal lives.

In addition, the young adults of the 50’s carried the lasting effects of growing up during the Great Depression. As children, many had seen their fathers lose their jobs and their families struggle to make ends meet. My father was determined to never let his family suffer the deprivations he had encountered as a child. It may be that some children of the Depression came to view strong families as especially important because hard times had weakened theirs. Then came the war, which again disrupted families. Finally, the postwar economic boom brought a change in luck. It provided the prosperity that allowed people to satisfy their desire for stability at work and at home.  Folks in their 80s still talk about the war and its aftermath as if it were yesterday

Though often portrayed as a boring decade that served as an uneventful lead-in to the tumultuous 1960s, the ’50s laid the groundwork for trends that would change the world. Stability was a major goal.  

During the 1950s, games, including checkers, marbles and chess as well as card games, such as go fish or old maid, kept children amused during long winter evenings and rainy days. In addition, hot new games such as Scrabble had just been introduced in the late 1940s, and by 1952, its makers were selling 400 sets a day.  Yo-yo’s became popular.  I learned a lot of cool yo-yo tricks from the Filipino guys that would stop by the Dairy Fountain.  Those guys were yo-yo masters.  I preferred the Duncan yo-yo to all others which started my obsession with brand names at age 9.

Although today, graphic novels are a standard feature in language arts classes, comic books were viewed with suspicion in the 1950s. Some critics boldly claimed they led to “juvenile delinquency,” but these criticisms may have fueled kids’ enthusiasm as an estimated 90 percent of children read comic books during this period. I was a huge fan of MAD Magazine and Alfred E. Neuman. Superman, Batman, and Captain Courageous were always hidden away under my bed. I was supposed to be reading some book.

Parental discipline tended to be more authoritarian in the 50s, but children generally enjoyed a greater amount of personal freedom during leisure time than they do today. There were fewer cars on the road, so many children roamed freely on foot. My Mom used to tell me to stay in the neighborhood. Her concept of the “neighborhood” and mine differed considerably. I rode my bicycle to the Dairy Fountain, got muddy exploring neighborhood gullies and played pick-up baseball on Shrine Hill. In our games, there were no adults involved which made them terrific and then came Little League. Parents who trust their children to play and explore on their own, to make their own decisions, and to make and learn from their own mistakes are not as common today.  My Mom did so by mistake.

In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower became President.  I was in the third grade at Virginia Heights elementary.  Because my family had a television set, six of my friends and I were allowed to go to my house to watch the inauguration.  It was a sight to behold even for 9-year boys.  We had a television because my father was such a good salesman and Red Hippert of Hippert Appliance and TV fame, struck a deal with him over a beer at Sherm’s Place beside the library (now called Spike’s and POP’S, respectively.)  The erection of the 40-foot antenna drew everyone in the neighborhood.  It was cool, but my dad acted like an idiot with his beer in hand explaining the merits of a tall antenna.  By the time the day was over, the thing was at least 100 feet high in his mind.  Everyone was so excited about the antenna no one seemed to care about the TV.  Red stood there with his order book open and sold sets galore with every guy seeking a slightly higher antenna.  My Dad did not have to buy a beer for all of 1952.

In 1956, IKE signed an act to build a system of interstate highways crisscrossing the United States. He did it as a matter of national interest and defense — to improve the transportation of goods and people in ordinary times and the ability to get emergency services to areas of crisis quickly. Interstate highways made it possible to set up warehouses for products that could easily be shipped anywhere in the country. Roanoke is a hub for such activity.  It also made travel over long distances quick and cheap. The average family was able to take vacations by car to spots that previously had been too distant and inaccessible. Car manufacturers began to promote adventurous family vacations in their ads. For me, it provided a future: life-long lessons about hard work, and money for a college education.  I worked for Wily N. Jackson Construction Company doing the rough grading for the segment of I-81 from Christiansburg to Lexington.  Thank you, IKE!!

Although television was in its very early stages, some children’s programming did exist, and among the most popular shows was “Howdy Doody.” “Howdy Doody” was the brainchild of radio announcer Bob Smith, a.k.a. Buffalo Bob, who hosted the show on NBC from 1947 to 1960. The freckled Howdy Doody marionette was beloved by children in the 1950s and soon became the inspiration for best-selling toys as well as

future puppet-based children’s shows. I loved Clarabelle the clown. Television went from being a rich man’s toy in the 1940s to a household necessity in the 1950s. In the process, it became a sort of national gathering place. Regional cultures and ways of speaking began to fade as people from across the country watched the same programs. With only three big networks, viewers’ choices were limited, but all were familiar with the same few shows — and these created things everyone could talk about with each other. Everyone loved Lucy. This set the stage for a truly national experience and conversation when big news stories happened.

Rock and roll music burst onto the scene in the mid-1950s. Although the older generation did not fully approve of the rhythms and emotional intensity, young people loved it.  Elvis was the main man, but Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Didley and Buddy Holly were part of the rock and roll movement.  My Dad said on several occasions that rock and roll would never last.  HAH!

Rock music merged black rhythm and blues with country music to create an American style — which hinted at big changes to come in race relations and the sexual revolution. Once baby-boomers — the largest generation in American history– fully embraced it, rock and roll was here to stay. I lived the American dream with my odd parents and my girlfriend, Peggy Sue. Peggy and I danced the night away at the Candlelight Club with the “Rythmmakers” or the “Chevies and Premiers with Little Earl.” Then along came Jackie with plaid skirts and bobby sox. She was beautiful. Colonial Hills Club we have arrived.  Did the Big Bopper really die? What a time to be alive.

The space race began on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union stunned the world by successfully launching an unmanned satellite, Sputnik I, into low-Earth orbit. It shocked and energized the United States, which launched its own successful satellite within a few months.  I was sitting on the ground at 5 am folding morning newspapers for my route thinking that those Russians just could not beat us!! I was 14 and I loved my country. Within a year, the United States created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. Manned orbits followed within a few years, and the first man landed on the moon less than 12 years later. The space race launched an explosion in technology and dramatically altered military technology, ushering in the age of missiles.

The Truman Doctrine, announced in a speech by President Harry Truman in 1947, committed the United States to offer military assistance to any nation threatened by communism. In the 1950s, this began a period of fierce, but muffled, competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Called the Cold War because the two major powers never came into direct armed conflict, it sparked several decades of battles in which the Soviet Union backed one side and the United States the other, called proxy battles. The first such battle came in Korea, beginning in 1950. The proxy battles of the Cold War defined American-Soviet relations for the next four decades until the Soviet Union collapsed. I was opposed to communism and railed against to all of my classmates in the third and fourth grade.   I was with IKE all the way.

My Grandfather Hager exclaimed on many an occasion, mostly after he had run into something, “You just cain’t beat ah Ford!”  On the other hand, my Dad loved Buick automobiles and he was overjoyed with the new styles of the 50s. He had a 1956 Buick just like the one below, color and all.

Despite the Russians, it was a great time to be an American. I loved the 50s.



WEAVER1888.com

solitary

SOLITUDE

As the world spins faster with emails, tweets and Instagram, most humans need several ways to cope with the resulting pressures. We need to maintain some semblance of balance and some sense that we have it together.  Otherwise we feel overloaded, overreact to minor annoyances, and feel like we can never get everything done. As far as I’m concerned, one of the best ways to relax is to seek and enjoy solitude.

From the start, I will make a big distinction between solitude and loneliness. Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. I feel that something is missing. I have been with with people and still felt lonely—for me the most bitter form of loneliness. Loneliness is harsh and is a punishment of sorts. It is clearly a deficiency state marked by a sense of estrangement and an awareness of excess aloneness.

Solitude is being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. It was an epiphany for me when I found that I was very good and sufficient company. Solitude is a time for reflection, a way to touch your inner yearning. Deep reading requires solitude as does experiencing the wonder of nature. Thinking and creativity evolve from periods of solitude as an awareness that everything has been created in oneness.  The blade of grass, the tree that stands, the bird that flies, and the living, breathing human being all share a oneness with the divine.

Solitude permits peacefulness and a state of inner richness. It is a means of enjoying the quiet and drawing sustenance from it. This is something to be cultivated like a spring garden. Solitude leads me to contemplative prayer where I commune with the divine. It is refreshing; an opportunity to renew myself.

Solitude is something you choose. Loneliness is imposed on you by others

The SOLITARY SANDPIPER

Almost all sandpipers migrate in flocks and nest on the ground, but the Solitary Sandpiper breaks both rules. In migration, as its name implies, it is usually encountered alone, along the bank of some shady creek. If approached, it bobs nervously, then flies away with sharp whistled cries, leave me alone! In summer in the northern spruce bogs, rather than nesting on the wet ground, the Solitary Sandpiper lays its eggs in old songbird nests placed high in trees.

This lovely bird forages in shallow water, moving about actively, picking items from the surface. It also loves to probe mud looking for something delectable. While walking in water, this creature may pause and quiver one foot, presumably to stir up small critters from the bottom. The Solitary Sandpiper feeds on many insects in the water and along the shore, including beetles, dragonfly nymphs, grasshoppers, crustaceans, spiders, worms, mollusks, and occasionally small frogs. They are happy birds.

A long-distance migrant, these birds winter mostly in South America, especially around swamps and riverbanks in the Amazon Basin. They apparently migrate mostly alone and at night. In the spring they reverse the pattern and prepare for mating season, a popular event among Solitary Sandpipers.

The SOLITARY HUMAN

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To be a happy and healthy person, most of us know that we need to sleep well, eat right, and exercise. But how important “human connectedness” is to our overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being is another matter. For a lot of folks there is a tendency to obsess over the past and worry about the future (instead of simply being present), and too much time alone may have mental and physical health consequences. Human connection anchorsour awareness firmly in the present (instead of worrying and obsessing when alone). But we seem to be following the path of the Solitary Sandpiper.

While the very best cure for loneliness is a strong “in-person” social network (i.e. not Facebook) and a loving family, this isn’t possible for everybody. Unless we go back to tribal living like our ancient ancestors, a more realistic solution is ideal. For me, meditation has allowed me to lose my sense of self and creates a feeling of oneness with my surroundings.  By making me feel connected to everyone and everything, meditation cancels the detrimental mental, emotional, and physical effects of my solitude. While friends come and go, meditation is there for me.

The strangest thing is that more and more people in our society and in all countries around the world are choosing to adopt a strange, never-before-witnessed lifestyle, on a very large scale … that of the lone creature. Who is this masked man?

  • In the 1950’s, 22% of American adults were single, and 4 million lived alone. In 2017, there were an estimated 35.25 million single-person households in the U.S. The number of single-person households has increased gradually since 1960. There were more than 82 million family households in 2017. In 2017, 45.2% of adults in the USA were single. Senior citizens accounted for 18% of all single folks,
  • In Stockholm (2017,) 60% of all households had just 1 occupant.
  • In the US (2017), solo dwellers constituted 31% of all households.
  • Most solo dwellers in the US are primarily women (about 19 million), compared to the 16 million solo men.  Most are middle-aged (35 – 64 years).
  • In the 1950’s 500,000 young adults (18-34 years) lived alone.  In 2017 5,000,000 lived alone. Some 55% of 18-24-year-olds live in their parents’ home and 16% of those 25-34 live with their parents.
  • The 4 countries with the highest rate of people living alone are Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.  40-45% of all households in these countries have just 1 person.
  • In 1996 an estimated 153 million people lived alone throughout the world.  In 2017, of the world’s two billion households, approximately 15 percent – or 300 million – are one-person households. What an astonishing social and cultural shift!  Whereas once solitary confinement was given to criminals as a punishment, now more and more people are actually finding it desirable. A question we need to ask now is why?  What on earth for?

Call it self-centeredness, or cloud-watching, but these days we have become interested in ourselves more than others. Our lives revolve around “my career”, “my happiness”, “my image”, “my Facebook status”, “my success”.  Our lives revolve around ourselves.  We no longer care about selfless living to serve God, country or people.

Is this a necessarily bad phenomenon?  Admittedly, it does does have the potential to create many problems both within and without ourselves if we don’t take time to sincerely invest some in a spiritual life and the happiness of others. But there is a positive side to this social shift from group to individual– it gives us space to breathe, to look into ourselves, to do that which makes us happy and whole. We can discover more about ourselves – our strengths, weaknesses, desires, motivations, behavioral patterns – with little to no distractions.  Essentially, living alone gives us more time to focus on ourselves, assisting us in developing our abilities that can ultimately better our lives, and the lives of others.  My exploration of things spiritual began when I began living alone, which would not have occurred otherwise.

Living alone gives you the ultimate freedom to wind down and relax, helping you to recover from your busy and intense work days or volunteer activities as the case may be. Living alone gives us the time and freedom to explore and work on our passions.  Most of the greatest writers, artists and musicians connected with their creative selves in solitude as it provides the best environment to think, to dream and to create. On the other hand, living in a house occupied with multiple people makes it very difficult to completely relax in peace and silence.

You can do what you want, when you want, where you want when you go solo.  You don’t have the drain and pressure of having constant, tedious duties to fulfill, and you never have to walk on eggshells around other people.  This can be both a good and bad thing: while living with others can actually teach you beneficial life-skills, giving you first-hand experience in “how to get along” with other people and how to compromise peacefully, it can also repress and hinder you from living a harmonious and enjoyable life.

We live in a highly connected society that demands us to be present and engaged in the exterior world of gossip and news almost 24/7. There is a relationship between the demand for constant connection, whether online or on the job, or in your world, and the enormous increase in the amount of time we spend on our own. Living alone gives me the gift of time, time that allows me to focus on what means the most to me, rather than superficially dividing and throwing around my attention here and there.

Solo dwelling creates a harmonious balance in my life that allows me to enjoy and value the presence of other people more.  It’s human nature to take our friends, family and loved ones for granted.  Living alone, devoid of the presence of others, helps me to appreciate these people more when they arearound.

When living alone, we have no one to cook for us, clean for us, wash our smelly undies or grubby socks.  It’s completely up to us to take care of ourselves – because if we don’t, no one else is going to.  When we realize that we canbe self-sufficient, and we cantake care of ourselves, we develop a lot more respect for ourselves.  This in turn enhances our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.  I cleaned my first toilet at age 62 and felt good about it.

Single life continues to be beset by notions that singles are less secure and more self-centered than married people. The belief is they tend to die sooner, alone and sad. Yet observations of people who live alone typically find that most are doing just fine; they don’t feel isolated, nor are they sad and lonely. Reports of the early death of single people have also been greatly exaggerated , as have ideas that marriage transforms miserable, sickly single people into happy and healthy spouses.

In some significant ways, it’s the single people who are doing particularly well.

Imperfection

ImperFectioN

ImperFectioN

There is comfort when we deal in absolutes and certainties. We seekers often think we must be certain about things. But our reality suggests that we are not certain at all and this becomes the beginning of the loss of faith!  It has happened to me.   To assist us the Church feels its job is to make absolute truth claims and feels very fragile when it cannot. So, faith and our religious organizations are crumbling beneath this impossible and false goal, it seems to me. What if the church is imperfect—there is nothing wrong with “not knowing” as Richard Rohr says—there is beauty and faith in imperfection.

I understand the need for clarity, some basic order, and identity but absolutes don’t work in God’s creation as I see it. The Church then needs to abandon this need to be perfect—but from the inside by using internal resources (leaders and parishioners) to self-correct. A beginner’s mind filled with humble, patient, wordless unknowing, combined with sincere curiosity, is how I have learned to restart my life. Only then was I truly teachable. Otherwise, we only hear whatever confirms our present understanding.  I have had to become teachable in my own life to begin my quest to be the much better version of myself. A human being that I can love.  From the bottom of a deep hole, I had to stop digging, become a beginner in life, and learn how to live at the age of 62.  The Church is not too old to adopt a beginner’s mind. In fact, many spiritual thinkers are giving new meaning to the Christ and I am hopeful that unlocking the door will allow this message to enter.

Without much humility, religion has cried “wolf” too many times in history and later been proven wrong.  These mistakes could have been avoided if the requirement for perfection had been abandoned. Twisting one line of Scripture to prove a point was an unjust usage of the word. The biblical text was not allowed to change us as much as many Christians would have preferred but was used to exclude and judge other people. A new way of thinking is required. I want to be part of the whole.

I choose to believe what Richard Rohr says: “God’s presence was poured into a single human being, so that humanity and divinity could be seen, then and now, to be operating as one in him—and therefore in us! But instead of saying that God came into the world through Jesus, maybe it would be better to say that Jesus came out of an already Christ-soaked world. The second Incarnation flowed out of the first, out of God’s loving union with physical creation.”  He loves me and He loves you and He loves all of creation.”

When I realized that God loved me and I was like everyone else in the Spirit, I was united with everyone and everything, even a blade of grass and it was okay not to know, I began to see myself and the world differently. I was loved and I could love even with all the imperfections that abound. I see that it truly is as St. Francis said about loving: “It is better to love than to be loved.”

I want to be loved but loving someone else and that blade of grass is much better. And all love is unconditional. At one point in my life I detested the phrase “I don’t know.”  But not knowing is preferable and my burgeoning faith keeps me in love with God and Christine and the blade of grass.

ARE YOU ANGRY?

ARE YOU ANGRY?

ANGRY MAN!

If you’re angry about the political feud (Trump v Dems) that drove the federal government to partially shut down, or about a golden parachute for a CEO who ran a business into the ground (Kraft Heinz), you aren’t alone—but you probably won’t do much about it. Folks usually respond to two types of injustices: when bad things happen to good people, and when good things happen to bad people. Human beings are reliably motivated to help when a bad thing happens to a good person, such as a hurricane devastating a town—, but only in a nominal way. When a hurricane happens, we want to help, so we give $10 to disaster relief or the RED CROSS, but we don’t try to build new houses. Even a small amount can help us feel that justice is restored.

But the converse is not necessarily true: When the universe rewards bad people despite their rotten behavior, people are usually reluctant to do anything about it, even when they’re angry at the unfairness of the situation. The forces at play in creating an unfair situation are often beyond our control or would be too costly to make the effort worthwhile. So, we stay angry, but often we settle for the hope that karma will eventually catch up.

On the rare occasions when someone does decide to act, they go for broke, spending all their resources and energy—not just a token amount—in an effort to deprive a bad dude of everything he gained unfairly. The desire to completely wipe out a bad dude’s ill-gotten gains is driven by a sense that justice will not be served until the bad dude is effectively deterred from future bad behavior, which is unlikely to be the case if the punishment is a slap on the wrist. But given the difficulty and expense associated with this response, many Americans stew in anger and hope for the best.

So, when ordinary people see bad things happening to good people, pitching in a few dollars feels good enough. Pitching in a few dollars to punish a bad person who has been unjustly rewarded, however, doesn’t cut it.  Only when people feel that their actions are guaranteed to send an effective signal to the bad person will they feel compelled to act. Since that sort of guarantee is hard to come by, most people will just stand by and wait.

The United States is an angry country.

Check out my blog

www.weaver1888.com

NUTTY BUDDY

NUTTY BUDDY

Nutty Buddy is an ice cream cone topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate, and peanuts.

The “Nutty Buddy” was originally created and produced by the Seymour Ice Cream Company, located in the Port Norfolk section of Dorchester, Massachusetts and named after its owner, Buddy Seymourian. Seymour Ice Cream ceased operations in the 1980s.

The official Nutty Buddy is no longer produced commercially in large numbers across the United States. Its former manufacturer was the Sweetheart Cup Company, which was also the manufacturer of the machines that produced the cones; Sweetheart went out of business in 1998. One of the last manufacturers of the Nutty Buddy is Purity Dairies in Nashville, Tennessee.

Purity Dairies is a dairy company and ice cream manufacturer that provides products throughout Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and Virginia. The company is owned by and operates as a subsidiary of Dean Foods and their products include milk, cultures, ice cream, orange juice, lemonade, tea and water, and it is one of the last distributors of the Nutty Buddy ice cream cone.

Please do not confuse the Nutty Buddy ice cream with nut butter.  Nutty Buddy Nut Butters are artisanal nut butter that is always gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, and free of refined sugars! Organic coconut sugar, which is unrefined and has a lower glycemic index than traditional refined sweeteners, is used to sweeten the butter. Nuts are dry roasted to emphasize their naturally sweet aroma and maintain the mineral-rich nutrients your body needs. No palm oil or artificial additives are used at all- it’s just naturally delicious!

My favorite way to enjoy nut butter is spreading it on toast with banana & cinnamon or just eating it straight out of the jar! There are endless options when it comes to nut butter: make a nut butter & jam sandwich, savory pasta, sweet cookies, and more. Anyone can make a nut butter if you can grind the nuts. I love Almond Butter and you can grind your own at the Roanoke Co-op or Fresh Market.

Nutty Buddy is also the name of a well-known athletic cup that was invented and patented by Mark Littell after he learned that nearly 50% of his athletes refused to wear athletic cups because they said that the only available cups were uncomfortable and restrictive. He created a premier athletic cup with a patented design that is anatomically shaped to conform to the male body providing unprecedented levels of comfort and protection. After all, the most important thing is to “protect the boys”. The patented Nutty Buddy has won multiple awards for its comfort, design, and protection and has become a staple for athletes all over the world. Nutty Buddy’s safety gear protects the boys while playing baseball, softball, ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, football, martial arts, paintball or other contact sports. Nutty Buddy is now expanding their market into the law enforcement and military fields by creating the world’s first ballistic cup!

The patented Nutty Buddy Ballistic Cup is essential protective equipment that is required when entering a hostile environment. It is designed to protect the groin against bullets, fragments, and other impacts. The Nutty Buddy Ballistic cup follows the same anatomical design as the original Nutty Buddy. This design allows the cup to shape to the body to deliver comfort, and in addition, there is a “tail” that resides between the legs to center the cup during activity and provide protection under the groin area.

I bring this to your attention for several reasons. I find it fascinating that there is such a vast array of items that use the name, Nutty Buddy.  But there should be no confusion about the product that our community is fearful is going to be rationed.

Several ladies were talking in our Grille (at my senior residential community) about the lack of Nutty Buddys in the display freezer.

Alice was sitting in her motorized chair talking to Eloise.  “I have seven of them in my basket. I’m going to put them in my freezer.”

Eloise replies, “We won’t have to use them until next week. I have five in my freezer. That’s one for you, one for Maggie, one for Janet and a fifth one if Joycelyn shows up.”

“Great! We can use mine next week on Friday.”

“Don’t give up. I was told that another box was found in the central freezer.  Since I have the last seven in the cooler, they’ll probably bring out more. We’ll need to check tomorrow and the next day.”

“Let’s just get five at a time. We don’t want to create suspicion.”

Alice gets this devious smile on her face and says, “maybe we can corner the market and have a Nutty Buddy auction.”

They smiled and departed. 

This truly happened!!

Or maybe I just imagined it!! Nope! You can’t make this stuff up.