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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Russians, it was a great time to be an American. I loved the 50s.
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.
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.
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
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.
is something you choose. Loneliness is imposed on you by others
The SOLITARY SANDPIPER
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
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
Here are three recipes for excellent winter delights that I have prepared. For that reason alone, they are clearly simple to fix, but they are so good.
Chicken Soup with a
1pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
9-11 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
15 oz can canneli beans, rinsed and rained
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
1 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried basil
1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried thyme,
2 bay leaves
dash- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
10 uncooked lasagna noodles broken into
approx. 1-2-inch pieces
2-3 cups half and half (may sub fat free
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
10 oz chopped frozen baby spinach, thawed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven/soup pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until almost cooked through. Remove to a plate.
Melt butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in the now empty pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and cook, while stirring, for 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in flour then cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes (it will be thick).
Turn heat to low and gradually stir in 8 cups chicken broth. Whisk 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 1 cup additional chicken broth and add to soup. Stir in chicken, beans, chicken bouillon, and all remaining herbs and spices. Stir in lasagna noodles.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until lasagna noodles are tender, stirring occasionally so noodles don’t stick to bottom (approximately 20-30 minutes).
Turn heat to low, discard bay leaf and stir in half and half, optional heavy cream and spinach and warm through. Stir in 1 cup Parmesan cheese until melted. Stir in additional half and half or broth if desired for a less “chunky” soup. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual servings with the desired amount of cheese.
BEEF STEW FOR COMFORT
beer and horseradish beef stew is the definition of pure comfort food!
Cooking it in the slow cooker makes for the most tender pieces of beef
and veggies with a rich, silky sauce!
2 – 2 1/2 lbs. boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
12 oz dark stout beer (I usually use Guinness)
3 cups beef broth
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 lb baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered
1 yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh sage, minced
2 Tbsp beef base (better than
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1-2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp softened butter
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Season beef pieces with 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
and 1 tsp black pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over
MED-HIGH heat until shimmering, then add beef in a single layer (you may have
to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan). Brown on all sides,
about 1-2 minutes per side, then turn off heat. Remove beef to slow
Pour beer and broth into hot pan and stir to
loosen any browned bits. Let sit for a few minutes while you add other
Add carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onion,
garlic, sage, beef base and tomato paste to slow cooker with the browned beef.
Pour beer/broth mixture from the skillet into the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on LOW for 7 – 7 1/2 hours.
Mix together butter and flour to form a pasty
ball. Remove lid, add horseradish and butter/flour mixture, stirring
well. Cover and continue cooking another 20-30 minutes, stirring
occasionally. Taste, and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve!
If your stew gets a
lot of fat particles at the top after cooking, either skim it with a spoon or
remove beef and veggies to a bowl, then pour liquid through a strainer into the
bowl with the beef and veggies.
Even bad pecan pie is good!!
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup or maple syrup
½ cup butter melted
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 cup pecan halves or pieces
1 unbaked pie crust
granulated sugar and eggs to a large bowl. Whisk together until well-combined.
Add in corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir in pecan halves and pour
into unbaked pie crust.
in oven and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. A piece of foil
may be placed over the top for the last few minutes of baking to prevent the
edges of the crust from becoming over brown.
You’ll want to make sure that the
center of the pie does not jiggle a great deal when you move the pie pan
slightly. If it does, leave it in the oven for about 5 more minutes and test
again, repeating every 5 minutes or so until it just barely has any movement in
the middle. It will continue to firm up once removed from the oven and cools.
Also, if you touch the center of the pie, it should slightly spring back to the
touch. The more you make it, the more you’ll have an eye for when it is just
right to remove from the oven and not overbaked or under baked. You may place a
piece of foil over the top for the last few minutes of baking to prevent the
edges of the crust from becoming too brown. Enjoy!
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CRUST
Butter a 9-inch pie
plate or skillet and set aside.
In a large bowl,
combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening and butter with a pastry blender or
two forks until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Gradually add enough
ice water to the mixture while mixing with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough
Pour the dough onto
a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disc.
Lightly flour the top of the pie dough and
place another sheet of plastic wrap on top. Rolling from the center, roll until
the dough is about a 1/8-inch thickness. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap,
fold the dough over and lay across the pie plate and remove the bottom piece of
plastic wrap. Press the pie dough lightly into the bottom and sides of the pie
plate. Cover the pie plate with a piece of the plastic wrap and place in the
freezer for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
If pre-baking, use a fork and lightly prick
the bottom and sides of the pie dough. Then preheat the oven to 425º F and bake
the pie crust for about 8 minutes.
If not pre-baking, simply fill the pie crust
with pie filling and bake according to instructions for the pie recipe.
a nice pre-made pie crust at the grocery store.