Sunday, June 2, 2013

St. Benito--Patron Saint of Lost Drivers

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

We were on the road in Genoa…..smooth sailing according to our Google Map directions—piece of cake.  Our little white Fiat CinqueCento, dubbed St. Benito….patron saint of tourist drivers, zipped through tunnel after tunnel…bridge after bridge…..we were early and life was good. 

Our exit was coming up soon according to the map…..the light from the end of the tunnel was bright and suddenly a multitude of exit signs appeared—all right together---for a sharp immediate right----semi on my tail at an “Italian” distance (meaning he could count the hairs on my head)…..and in a moment’s time, we missed the exit according to Google Maps. 

No worries, we will simply turn around…….bridge… exit…..tunnel… exit…..bridge….no exit…..tunnel….no exit.  Kilometers passing.  Traffic getting congested……me reminding myself that the car portion of our trip was almost over…….and voila!  A Roundabout! 

We turn around and zip back to the beginning only to find that the exits are not marked the same in the other directions…..of course not…..we miss the exit again and St. Benito is headed towards the Autostrada with no exit for miles……he hang right to the Airport to turn around… start completely over… problem… worries. 

This began our journey in Genoa….two hours of roaming the streets……of realizing that Google Maps did not have proper directions…..the exit it wanted us to take took us kilometers away from our destination and put us smack dab in the middle of the red-light district…..casinos…..gentlemen’s clubs……graffiti…..we find the city center where our rental drop off should be located……but now what??  The rental office is closed (of course it is) and no one answers the phone….the emergency number does not work (It’s Italy on a Saturday afternoon…..) and my phone navigation system cannot seem to find us……  We have missed our train….and I am lost. 

Do not grow weary in doing what is right…..because in due time, you will reap a harvest…….

I want to quit!  I want to give up!!  I want to put the car in park, grab my suitcase and find the nearest gelateria.  As I circle back…..street after street…..light after light…..roundabout after roundabout…..I am over it!  I am done!!  I’ve got nothing left to give…..and St. Benito’s protective powers for lost tourists obviously expired and the end of my agreed upon rental return time….. 

It’s easy to grow weary of doing what is right.  It is easy to simply give up when you aren’t appreciated…..when people do not see your heart….when you give and receive nothing in return.  Sometimes, I just want to put life in park and run away to the nearest vendor of gelato fragola…..un cono con due gusti per favore…..but the reminder to not give up permeates my soul……  Life is discouraging sometimes…..being a parent is discouraging sometimes…..trying to blend a family can be excruciatingly discouraging most of the time…..but if I quit doing what is right, I am going to miss the sweet harvest. 

Remember to not get tired of doing what is right…..because in due time, you will reap a harvest at the proper time. 

We see a row of taxis sitting at a monument.  An idea springs forth….what if we paid the taxi driver to take us to our destination?  Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding!!  It’s harvest time!  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Grandma Jean's Candy Popcorn

Growing up in Arkansas, one thing that always reminded me of Christmas was Grandma Jean's candy popcorn.  She would make a batch of red and a batch of green and have it sitting on the counter in a hugantic metal bowl.  It was completely addicting!!!

Last year, as I was looking for a retro dessert for my Christmas party, I remembered the recipe and have fallen in love with it all over again.

Here is the recipe:

Grandma Jean's Candy Popcorn

4 quarts popped popcorn (popped stovetop is the best - and popping it in Coconut oil is even better)
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Food Coloring (I found out that they make organic food coloring out of vegetables - made me feel better about using it and the color was actually even better than with traditional food coloring).

Put sugar and water into a pan and boil until a drop of the mixture into a glass of cold water makes a soft ball.  Just keep stirring after it starts to boil and every once in a while check to see how the mixture feels in the water.  In the beginning, it will simply dissipate and then it will make a soft drop in the bottom.  When you can turn it into a ball in the water with your fingers, it is ready.  Don't over process or it won't be as pretty.

Add vanilla and food coloring to your preference, pour it over the top of the popcorn and stir.  You will need a very large bowl to do this in or you'll make a mess (trust me, popcorn will go everywhere if the bowl is too small).

You can also add nuts to the popcorn if you want.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fire in the Sandbox!

Sometimes, we have to look at things from a different angle to get a solution.  For about a year, I have been treating a skin condition with everything I could find – cortisone, tea tree oil, blue goop and avoiding all lotions, creams and oils.  Things would seem to get better and then BAM! It comes back with a vengeance and spreads even further. 

I knew the cause of my condition, but I wanted an outward fix for an inward condition……let me just repeat that for myself to hear…..I wanted an outward fix for an inward condition.  Well, I am nothing if not consistent….  How many times have I told myself, if it wasn’t for x..y..and of course Z, I would not have behaved that way.  If he wouldn’t JKL then I wouldn’t LMN….what a load of KaKa!!  I want to fix all of the outward manifestations of an inside problem…..but I really don’t want to examine the actual inside. 

To rid myself of my condition, I have to eliminate all US wines, cut down on other wine, limit cheese, bread, and sugar—oh and drink a nasty concoction involving Apple Cider Vinegar.  Um….yeah…..see my reluctance???  But……my condition worsened until I had to do something and I am seeing great, amazing progress!!  I had to readjust my inside to get a true outside fix. 

After my X’s affair, the deacons of my church strongly suggested that I install software on his computer to keep him off certain sites and to monitor his behavior.  I told them in no uncertain terms that I was his wife, not his nanny---they said I was a fool.  Well…maybe….but I don’t think so. 

Prior to the discovery of the affair, we (read Becky) had a system of boundaries and checks and balances—that just meant that my X and my friend had created elaborate ways to get around them.  I had come to realize that my X’s behavior was between him and God—why should I control him??  Letting go of controlling his outward behavior allowed me to retain my dignity in a difficult situation.  It was not my fault…..I could not fix it…it wasn’t mine to fix.  The affair was an outward manifestation of an inward condition…no band-aid in the world would fix it. 

The Man has a wonderful saying—that when we fight, it’s simply our dysfunctions colliding.  My dysfunction butts up against his…doesn’t politely say excuse me…..and his butts right back.  We’re like two kids in the sand box emotionally pushing each other back into our own space.  I pick up a handful of sand, throw it in his eyes, and he exclaims, “that wasn’t fair!”  He finds kitty poop and smudges it on my favorite shirt….and it’s ON! 

What he says is accurate, however, the word dysfunction makes me feel broken….unusable….defective.  The actual definition of the prefix Dys is:  diseased, abnormal and faulty.  Dysfunction is so overused and has such a negative connation that it’s difficult to accept my behavior as a dysfunction….I am a Princess….I do not DYS-function!!!  (Of course, this has nothing to do with my tendency to avoid things….look the other way…you see nothing….) During my run today, I decided that there is a better word for me:  Mis-function.  I am not functioning the way I am supposed to….I have misfired. 

Many of my Mis-functions are actually a result of my strengths….which I think is pretty common…..

Affectionate can mis-function to become smothering
Problem solving can mis-function to become blaming
Detail oriented can mis-function to become critical
Protective can mis-function to become controlling
Passionate can mis-function to become bat s**t crazy!

To grow emotionally, I must look at my mis-fires, my mis-functions and discover what is going on inwardly that creates the outward behavior.  I have to get better at expressing my emotions—not my frustrations, not my list of gripes, but those feelings that press the FIRE button at a moment’s notice. 

But, just like my initial attempt to “heal” my skin condition, I typically want to fix the outside…(read:  everyone else).  But for true emotional healing, one must first look to the inside and the outside will follow. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Slobber Straps

My strappy sandals sometimes sport slobber stains.  It’s true!!  I have a penchant to open my mouth and insert a size 8 sandal….no notice……no warning signs…..I just talk happily away…chit-chat-chit-chat until my words drop to the ground with a THUD….and then…..awkward silence…people look away….silence….and then I realize that I have done it again….a witty remark is born in my brain, gives birth through my lips and like a rebellious teenager, goes where I did not mean it to go. 

Such an instance happened a few weeks ago.  Someone casually asked me, “How’s Married Life???”  In an effort to be “real” and “wise” and “profound,” I said, “well you know the first year is always the hardest year, but we are having a great time……” The exact words are banished from my mind forever and replaced with the subtle taste of The Body Shop peppermint foot oil. 

What I meant to convey is that The Man and I are crazy happy, we’ve made it through the challenges of blending a family of six kids, navigated the land mines of raised toilet seats, schedules, dinner times, toothpaste brands and my endless collection of shoes beautifully displayed on the kitchen floor.  We made it!!  We still love each other---and like each other.  The challenges of the first year made us better communicators, better listeners and has given us a respect for each other’s feelings and opinions.  I could not imagine a better partner, a better friend and a better love than his. 

Blending a family is hard---good golly, it’s way harder than I imagined.  Teenagers like me---they have always liked me….but then again, they didn’t have to live with me.  I was always cool and fun (at least in my own mind) and offered wise words in a crisis.  Now, I sometimes look in the mirror to see if my leper’s spots have disappeared…… just sayin’.  Blending a life is hard---I am a morning person…..and The Man loves to sleep in……he loves his quiet time and my quiet time lasts about 30 seconds and then I am off to the chatty races.  But it works.  I have learned to keep my alligator mouth closed (to avoid the aforementioned peppermint taste) and to sometimes speak my mind with a confidence that only a trusting relationship can bring. 

This morning, I heard a song that I quoted in my marriage vows:

Stay with me
My love, I hope you'll always be
Right here by my side if ever I need you
Oh, my love

In your arms
I feel so safe and so secure
And everyday is such a perfect day to spend
Alone with you

I will follow you, will you follow me?
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you, will you stay with me?
Just one single tear in each passing year

With the dark
Oh, I see so very clearly now
All my fears are drifting by me
So slowly now, fading away

I can say
The night is long but you are here
Close at hand, oh, I'm better for the smile you give
And while I live

I will follow you, will you follow me?
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you, will you stay with me?
Just one single tear in each passing year there will be

How lucky I am to have a partner whom I can follow and who follows me back!!!  Every day is a perfect day to spend with him!  If I could reel back in that question about married life, I would answer it like this:

How lucky I am to find a partner who is willing to play with me, who is wise, patient and loving, and who cares deeply about his family.  I have learned to be more generous, more understanding and more……ME!  What a blessing it is to be fully me, fully seen, and fully loved.  We have had so many adventures already:  trekking through Costa Rica over suspended bridges and down waterfalls—chatting with monkeys, frogs and sloths.  We have bet on the loser at the Kentucky Derby, been on live television for our picnic fare at the Indianapolis 500, and dressed up as 80’s rockers for Halloween.  We left no Brunello behind while tasting through Tuscany and have sailed almost to Canada on a small sailboat---Our list of adventures could go on for pages. 

Yesterday, we were married one year and one month----blending is still difficult at times, we still disagree on the proper way to eat chicken legs and our dysfunctions sometimes bump into each other…..but I am truly having the time of my life with the Clyde to my Bonnie!!

Hopefully, my sandals will be safe……at least for a while.