Layer Cake Wisdom

Not sure if it’s that food has been inspiring me to think more deeply about life (read what I learned from a veggie wrap in a previous post here: https://beallthere.net/2015/10/17/a-lesson-in-perspective-from-a-veggie-wrap/) or if it’s the fact that I’m more open to learning these days. Either way, as Alanis Morissette belts out, “You live, you learn.”

This time the lesson began with a picture of a festive layer cake I saw on line. It was stunningly beautiful and I knew the moment I saw it that I wanted to make it and bring it to my sister’s house for Christmas. It was at least a foot tall and consisted of multiple layers (more than two) of snowy white cake and icing with flecks of red and green inside the cake (creating a tie-dye effect), and a dusting of the same red and green bursts of color between the layers, on the sides and on top of it.  It would be a show stopper!

The ingredients were pretty basic and I knew I could easily alter the recipe to make the cake vegan. The most challenging thing to find was the container of red and green “jimmies,” as I call them, or “sprinkles,” as you may know them.

After searching the entire supermarket in town for this pivotal ingredient with my daughter, we spotted the lone container of red and green jimmies in the last aisle on top of the ice cream freezer. Desperate to get the goods, we both lunged for the container as if there were others competing for it, and then laughed to each other about our silliness, since we were the only ones in that competition. We were satisfied with our “win” just the same and knew that no one could have rivaled our split second timing in making the jimmies our own and putting them in our shopping cart!

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My mind wandered while we were waiting for the movie to start and I was relieved that I remembered to bake the layers for my holiday masterpiece earlier so I could ice it the next day when it was completely cooled.  I felt happy that I was with my family of four as we continued a relatively new Christmas Eve tradition of going to the movies and out to dinner. My relief quickly changed to regret as I realized that I had forgotten to add the red and green jimmies to the batter! Just as quickly, I was back in my happy place again, seeing the humor in the whole cake thing. It was only a cake and it would still look and taste great.

The next day (Christmas), right before we left for my sister’s, I was ready to assemble “The Masterpiece.” After I put some icing between the two layers, I iced the sides and then the top of the cake. Just as I was about done, my daughter walked into the kitchen and asked why I hadn’t added the second layer of cake before I completely iced it. I informed her that I HAD added the second layer and we both laughed at how flat the cake was, in comparison to our muse.* I hadn’t considered that the vegan recipe might limit the cake’s height and it looked lost on its large palette. When we covered it in red and green jimmies, it looked festive, and I was certain it would taste great.

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We had a wonderful time at my sister’s and the cake looked and tasted fine. Even though it was drastically different from what my daughter and I had imagined, it was so much more. When my daughter thought back to the new Christmas memories we made this year she commented that lunging for those jimmies together in the supermarket with me would be one of her fondest.

As I continue to feel somewhat restless about and unsure of my future, my passion and my place in life, I am reminded that,

Life is a journey, not a destination

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be brave, be kind, take risks, stay curious, embrace change, keep striving to make what’s in your heart and what’s in your head a reality, have self-compassion when you fall short of your goals, and know when to ask for help.

Happy New Year!

 

Peace, Love and Presence,

Jeanne

 

*If you want a good laugh, just search google images for “green tie dye cake” and you will see what my inspiration was for my holiday cake, and how much I fell short (but not really).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace, Love and Presence

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It’s been a great year! I continue to focus on being, “Happy and present-one day at a time,” but I have to admit that I’ve been struggling lately. I’ve been feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, short of patience and oh, so tired. I know these feelings are not uncommon this time of year, but I can’t remember feeling this way with such a constant intensity.

I feel as if life is on VOLUME TEN!

 Perhaps it’s because my hard work has paid off and, by comparison to my normally calm, grounded daily routines, this time of year now seems off the charts in every way.
No matter the reason, I’ve been working to get back on track to  Peace, Love and Presence!
Here are some things that I’ve found helpful and that I hope can lighten your load this holiday season:
  1. Realize that many people share similar feelings and that this time of year can bring a wide range of emotions for a variety of reasons, like grief, depression and anxiety, to name a few.
  2. Understand that your feelings are temporary and most likely will pass after the holidays are over. Around this time last year I wrote about how I was feeling some of the same feelings!
  3. Share your feelings with those closest to you and ask for help when you need it. Chances are pretty good that your loved ones have noticed that you’ve been a little short of patience. I’m sure mine have!
  4. Practice self compassion and self care-you know the drill! If not, read my post about self compassion here: https://beallthere.net/2016/02/14/self-love/ and read about my self care routine here: https://beallthere.net/2015/08/22/funkytown-just-passing-through/
  5. Be present. Certainly honor your past and dream about your future, but try not to dwell on them, especially this time of year. It feels good to let go of some of the sadness of what was and the worry of what will be. It will all work out, it always does. You can read what I wrote about Christmas Presence here: https://beallthere.net/2015/12/15/christmas-presence/
  6. Acknowledge your feelings, including any physical symptoms. I’ve been experiencing some aches and pains, and, when I went to the doctor last week and she asked if I was under any stress, I denied it because I actually was unaware that my stress was causing physical symptoms. Luckily all is well and I’m feeling much better.
  7. Be quiet. When feeling overwhelmed, it helps to turn down the volume. Turn off the television, unplug,  and dim the lights. It can have a calming effect.
  8. Take time off if you can. Carve out some time away from your desk or your computer to unwind and recharge.
  9. Have a cup of tea. Since it’s meant to be sipped slowly, it will help slow down your pace.
  10. Be playful. My daughter’s dog, Ellie makes me laugh and smile every day!

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Wishing you Peace, Love and Presence this Holiday Season, and always!

Love,

Jeanne

I Rise

I woke up a little after 4 a.m. and immediately checked my phone for the election results. I thought I was still dreaming,  at first, but quickly realized the candidate, who many believed was a joke, had won the presidential election.

I am heartbroken.

Although I know that not all that voted for him support his cruel rants against humanity, it feels as if hate and divisiveness won over love and inclusion. What a sobering reminder that there are many who do not support equal human rights for all.

Even though I’m hunched over because the wind has been knocked out of me, I must somehow move forward.  The sun still rises and sets each day and each day I have a choice.

On this Veteran’s Day I will raise my American flag with gratitude to all who fought for my freedom to choose.

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I choose love, hope and compassion, and, in the beautiful words of Maya Angelou, “I Rise.”

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 19282014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

 

 

 

 

Being Present Can Change Your Life

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When I first started focusing on being all there, it helped me dwell less on the past and worry less about the future. As I’ve written about in previous posts, I have incorporated many new things into my daily life that have made me less anxious and depressed and more present (and happy).

Minimalism, meditation, yoga, veganism, hiking, and writing are more than just habits in my life, they have become part of who I am and have changed my life!

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I’ve noticed that my weekends and time off don’t seem like such a blur and actually feel like quality time off.

Being present can change your life in many ways:

  1. Feel less anxious and depressed-By not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
  2. Slow down time by being fully present in each moment-And don’t we all want to slow things down a bit?
  3. Get to  know (and love) yourself more-Being present forces us to take a closer look at who we are and put some time and effort into areas that may need love and attention. This is not always comfortable or easy, but remember, no mud, no lotus!
  4. Develop deeper relationships-By spending more quality time with loved ones.
  5. Let go of comparison-Being present helps us focus on what works for us.
  6. Worry less about what others might think and don’t take things personally-Follow Brene’ Brown’s advice and keep a short list of names in your wallet of whose opinions really matter. Ask people to clarify what they mean rather than add your own commentary.  Most times people act in certain ways based on what’s going on with them rather than in response to us.
  7. Ask for what you need (in a kind, loving, “I” statement way)-Being fully present can really highlight what we need in any given moment and we want to acknowledge these authentic moments rather than ignore them. People have no idea what we are thinking or feeling unless we tell them! I have had to build up the courage to do this, but, I promise that with practice, asking for what you need gets easier.

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This time of year mindfulness has helped me no longer grieve the passage of summer and fear the thought that winter is around the corner (perhaps I grieve and fear a little, but certainly not as much). I’m enjoying fall for what it truly has to offer, beautiful weather, warm fires, gorgeous colors and delicious fruits and veggies from our local farms!

Peace, Love and Presence,

Jeanne

 

 

Smitten With Mindfulness

Smitten with Presence

Have you ever noticed the tiny droplets of water on the needles of a tree after a rainfall?

Until recently, I hadn’t! This got me thinking and asking myself, “What’s different?”

One of the changes that I’ve made in the past year is to be more present. I try not to dwell on the past or stress about the future.

I’m a pretty deep thinker, so this has been challenging. My husband will usually let me know when my expression does not match what’s going on around us and is able to snap me out of my head and back into the present moment. I know that my facial expression can be off-putting to some since it’s usually somewhat, well, serious. My husband tells me that my “in deep thought” expression can be interpreted as a  disapproving look and that those around us might think it’s aimed at them. It’s not.

As a teenager I was told to, “smile” a lot by guys that didn’t find me very approachable. My sarcastic, don’t-take-no-shit younger self would typically respond in one of two ways: I would either emphatically display my middle finger or, after being told to “smile,” I would say, “I am.” If my expression didn’t scare them away, my response sure did!

As an adult, I am more concerned with how others interpret my facial expressions and I don’t want to scare anyone away. I’ve gotten feedback from people that have taken the time to get to know me who have told me that they were surprised to learn that I was warm and funny when they originally thought, upon first impressions, that I was stern and unapproachable.

One of the ways that I think I can look more approachable is if I AM more approachable. If I’m deep in thought and preoccupied, I’m sure I can’t look very inviting, but if I’m present and open to any given moment, people will be more comfortable when they interact with me.

Meditation has helped me to be more mindful, to get out of my head and into the present moment. Other things that have helped me are getting out in nature, yoga and minimalism. If you want to read more about how I incorporate these and other things in my life in order to be more present, you can read about them in previous posts.

I have found that, not only can people see US differently, but I think being more present can shift how we see and experience what’s around us.

Since the rain falls on the same trees in my yard each year, it must be me that’s changed.

I’ve noticed that I’m more able to fully experience people, places and things and for that I’m totally smitten with mindfulness!