Food…most of us have trouble living with it, and NONE of us can live without it. How many things in life have that much power? Very few things indeed.
For many, the memories of “Mom’s” cooking stays with us for a lifetime…we call that “comfort food.” Even if Mom made you spinach noodles on burnt rye toast when you had a cold, you would still consider that your “comfort” food. Food is attached to time and place and, especially, emotions. Give me a bowl of tomato soup and I will tell you about childhood and the flu, and how much that warm bowl of soup meant to me. For some, it’s chicken soup…or lentil soup. Soups are, for most of us, put in the “comfort” category. You don’t even need a utensil to enjoy it!!
Food…too much of the wrong kind can kill us, and not enough of the good kind can malnourish, or starve us. What other thing in our life has that much influence over our well-being? Not much, for sure. When I hear food prices might skyrocket someday, I mull over buying large bags of rice, and dried beans, and little pots to grow parsley (got to have those greens!) and then wonder what I can add, to prevent scurvy…you know, the disease they got on the Mayflower from not having enough citrus! Maybe I can buy canned mandarin oranges? I like those. Or just buy a bunch of fruity jams. If it were down to survival, I would have to consider only those food stuffs that are non-perishable….hmmmm….how many things in our lives have to be used within a certain period of time before they become dangerous to use or consume? Not many….
Food….a true love/hate relationship. It can be one of the most enjoyable pleasures in life, and can be downright devastating, like when one gets food-poisoning. I got so ill once in an exotic foreign country from either bad food or water I thought I was going to die….luckily, I lived to tell the tale:) During the experience I told myself I would never drink or eat again (ha!) These are the crazy things we tell ourselves to feel we have some control over the enormous power Food and Water has over us.
Food…part of the gift God has given us…earth to grow wheat and vegetables, trees to bear fruit and nuts, paddies to harvest rice, oceans to fish, etc. It is not meant to be taken for granted, nor abused, and yet we do both. When we don’t have enough of it we die, when we have too much of it, we die. Somewhere we are meant to find the balance. And for those who are without it, may you soon have enough food to be able to complain about it.
“Money can’t buy you love,” as the Beatles were known to have said in one of their lyrics….but money can, and does, buy power, influence, and comfort. Just ask anyone who’s poor. Or anyone who’s rich. It’s all the same common knowledge. That’s why everyone (or most everyone) wants the green stuff…as much of it as they can get.
Money generally has a bad reputation….it is the “Root of all Evil,” as some say, and has been known to destroy families, in one way or another, either through inheritances or lack thereof, or the perception that one got more than the other. Just ask the Rich….or the Poor. It’s all the same common knowledge.
When politicians talk about raising taxes on the Rich, it actually hurts the Poor. Just look at history. For example, the top 1% of earners in New York, for instance, account for 36% of the state’s total income. If tax rates become too high, some of the Rich leave. Many Rich own homes in other states, and/or other countries. They are wealthy enough to do that. Then what becomes of the tax base, in a state like New York, for instance? Who ends up funding the loss of revenue? Why the Middle Class, of course, and the Poor. Their taxes get raised, or their state budgets get cut. They lose either way. Usually the middle way is the best…the moderate way. Perhaps raising taxes a touch, and cutting a little out of budgets….nothing too drastic, but perhaps that combo makes it fair to everyone. But to punish the Rich has always proven disastrous…because again, as I mentioned, they can just get up and leave. They have the resources to do that. They are not prisoners of their financial circumstances, as many folks are. The Rich and the Poor are intrinsically entwined….because the Poor and Middle Class need the Rich, and the Rich need the workers (both white collar and blue) to keep the machines of their businesses going. We are all dependent on one another. Where it becomes sad is when one realizes that the Rich can now go overseas and hire workers that will take less in pay….the dependency becomes less for the American worker and the Rich. Therefore I cringe every time I hear a politician mention raising taxes on the Rich….it doesn’t work out well for the rest of us…especially now, with cheaper labor overseas.
The Machine…the cogs in the wheel of business and leisure. For one to say they are anti-business is to declare oneself a bit of a fool…without business, we wouldn’t have a country. It’s like when I used to hear people who owned a home say “Oh me, I’m not in the stock market,” well my friend, when your house lost half it’s value with the recession, you quickly discovered you WERE in the stock market, because the value had to do with the banking industry, which is involved with Wall Street. So the good part is that I think people are waking up and realizing that The Machine involves all of us…Rich, Poor, and Middle Class. We all need one another for The Machine to run smoothly.
The more money a person has, the more they spend, usually. Anything that reduces that will hurt the economy….real simple stuff. For The Machine to work well, we all need to understand what makes it tick.
Vacation….the very sound of it makes me smile. To vacate something…to step from one area to another. The beach, the mountains….or somewhere in-between. A ride across many states…an RV self-contained. A home away from home. A train-ride through the alps….lunch at a european cafe lining a cobblestone street, people-watching while sipping something exotic. To try something new. A vacation.
The funny thing about a vacation is that you can have one without ever leaving the spot you’re sitting in. Granted the air won’t feel different…the sounds won’t be either, nor the smells. But how we perceive life is all in our minds anyway, so if we have active imaginations we can leave where we are and go somewhere else just by sitting still. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are in a place you want to be….either somewhere you’ve been before, or somewhere you’ve always wanted to go to. If you’ve been there before, remember the details of what you enjoyed about it. If it’s somewhere new, imagine what it must feel like. I sometimes sit very still and remember my time in Heaven. It is a place I go to when I need to calm down and remember what truly matters. I go to The Garden. The colors are brighter, the light is different. And I am reminded that this earthly world is temporary, and we will all go Home someday. A mini-vacation, this life is. And yet we need a vacation from our mini-vacation sometimes!
I live near the ocean, so today I drove down to the beach and took a walk by the sea. I let my feet slosh through the waves, and watched all the many different folks sitting in the sun, and children playing with their buckets and shovels. In the parking lot were seagulls, and license plates from all over the country. I love seeing people swimming amongst the waves….people laughing and smiling. Many are most likely on a vacation…the time to let worries flow by the wayside, and enjoy the moment.
We only have so much time allotted to us during the year for that kind of time….so it’s important to be able to “go there” just by sitting alone in a room with walls. A vacation can be taken anytime we can find the moments…anytime our hearts and minds desire.
Please, go on vacation more often….
There has to be a reason to swing our feet over the side of the bed every morning…otherwise, we would just curl up in a bundle of comfy comforters (depending on the season) and perhaps decide to stay there indefinitely. We want to feel safe…we want to feel loved…in a world that half the time doesn’t make sense, or really add up. The main reason to chuck the covers and stick our neck out is Hope….the belief that something better is coming down the pike….someone out there needs us….there really IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and we can only reach it if we make the best of where we are in Life.
I remember seeing the movie, I think it was called “Alive,” where an airplane crashes on a snowy mountaintop, and, after several days, the survivors realize a rescue is nowhere in sight. As more folks begin to die and freeze, the remaining people decide that in order to stay alive, they must eat their fellow frozen passengers. They cut the frozen flesh into matchstick slivers, and one claims that it tastes like chicken, from what I remember, which I thought was odd, but then again, I haven’t had, thankfully, the experience! I remember being horrified, but realized that it was a desperate and last ditch attempt to stay “alive.” It also made me realize, in a flash, how horrible suicide is, because if people are willing to go to such lengths to stay in this world, then what does it say about someone willing to toss it all away?
We are here for a reason…there is always Hope on the horizon, and there really IS a light at the end of the tunnel. These are basic facts, as far as I believe. Hope is the belief that no matter what Life throws at us, we can and WILL overcome it. I’m thinking now, in particular, about the folks in the Gulf States who must feel absolutely devastated by the oil disaster unfolding. What can one say to them? What was one supposed to say to the people standing in the bread lines during the Depression? If you truly believe you are here for a reason, then you find your way back from disaster, and trouble. You take stock of your situation, and don’t have blinders on. If you see a boulder headed your way, move yourself from its path. Sometimes a change is what’s in order….there are times when it’s just smart to go another direction, or move in a different way. We are all here for a reason….it’s our job to find out what the reason is.
Hope, Faith and Love…the three reasons to swing our legs over the side of the bed. Love, because without it the Universe, and we, would collapse. Faith, because we are always being watched by God and His Angels, and there IS a plan for each of us, and Hope, because a loving, faithful God wouldn’t have put us here, and where we are, if he didn’t have Hope for us. We are never to abandon God, because He never abandons us, even if we think, or feel so sometimes. I think God’s Hope is that we don’t forget this.
The strange thing about Life is that it can change overnight. Bad things can happen overnight, and Good things can happen overnight. The Hope is that we can handle the Bad with grace, and the Good with gratefulness….
Stress….the number one killer, as they say. Now why is that? Perhaps because stress is what usually is the tipping point in our health. Where we can have problems, and still be content, when stress is added our sense of well-being plummets, and we have less “ammunition” to fight our problems. It is extremely important to find ways to combat stress.
I know for myself that even though I do a bit of yoga in the morning, and evening, and try to meditate once a day, if I don’t add a walk to my routine, the stress can still build up. Being an artist, I am very sensitive to my surroundings. That is both a blessing, and sometimes, a curse! Why do people with Alzheimers generally not get stressed out? Because they have become de-sensitized, overall. In the late stages of the disease they can become quite agitated, but in the beginning and middle stages they mosey along without much stress because their memories can’t hold onto problems long enough to get upset about them. Well, none of us want to get Alzheimers to be relieved of stress, so we must find other ways to feel at peace!
In early childhood, Time goes very slowly. We take in the Present, and can focus on the Moment. As we get older, we have to re-learn what comes naturally to us in childhood, because of more input, and overload. The old saying “It’s time to cool out,” is really valuable, because unless we cool out, we will overheat, and then our circuitry has to find ways to slow down again . In my life finding a quiet place (not easy these days!) without the T.V. on, where I can just sit and gather my thoughts for a few minutes, really helps. I visualize a beautiful garden, with a stream and a large tree….and I go there, in my mind, to rest and think. The reason I try to add a short walk, when I can, is because stress builds up in the body, whether we’re aware of it or not, and walking (or swimming) gets rid of the toxins in our muscles. All common sense…..but difficult to remember that we owe ourselves, if possible, an hour a day at least to take care of ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we will be of no good to the ones we love, and who love us. Most of us are needed by others in our lives, and we owe it to them to take care of ourselves.
Stress….Life without it is almost impossible, but too much of it can kill us. So when it starts to build up, remember how you felt as a little kid, when your cares were few, and you knew that your journey here is for a reason, and growing up to get to do all those things your parents wouldn’t let you do, you now can do, if you want. Get off your chair and stretch….a few seconds every hour, if you can. Remind yourself that relieving your stress will be good for all…….and focus on yourself for a change.
© 2010 Jennifer Avalon
There is an old saying that goes something like this “You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends.” I beg to differ a bit. I think we do choose our friends of course, but we may also choose our families. I know that may sound strange, but as I believe God has a plan for all of us, I think that perhaps part of that plan is to bring us together with folks to overcome what has gone on before, and to heal the wounds of the past.
In the animal kingdom, it is fascinating to watch what happens to “blood relations.” A mother of newborn pups will turn her back on a puppy that she doesn’t raise. She will only take care of the pups that she has a hand in rearing. The first time I witnessed this I was a little shocked. What happened to “blood runs thicker than water?” Even in human relations, sometimes friends are closer than family members. Those who have close relations within their families are lucky people indeed, because there is no guarantee that just because you are from a particular family, you will automatically be close. When it does happen however, the saying “blood runs thicker than water,” truly applies. The loyalty that can take place between family, when the relations are good, is pretty astounding.
They say that some in the animal kingdom will give up their lives to save their human masters. Do you have anyone in your circle whom you could count on to do that for you, if it were needed? For some, it is a family member…for others, it may be a friend. It doesn’t really matter….loyalty can come in all different forms. “Family,” when all is said and done, can be anyone we truly trust.
On a wider level, we are all part of the Human Family…but we often forget this. We become so involved in our own circles and our own problems that what happens to folks worlds away is mostly off our radar. Truth is, what happens to people on another continent does affect all of us…we are all inter-connected. I think that’s why people are so fascinated with the idea of life on other planets. For some reason, even though many of us don’t know, or care to get aquainted with, the folks living next door, or down the street, we are truly curious about the creatures that could be living many moons away from us! Strange, isn’t it?
Family…..the cousin in Kentucky, the Great-Uncle that started the grocery store in the 1800’s, the Grandma who taught you to tie your shoes….the friend who makes you chicken soup when you have the flu, the sister who always makes you laugh when you’re down, the co-worker who shares lunch with you once a week, and listens to your personal problems. People you count on…people you trust….people you love. Family.
Enjoy your circle,
© 2010 Jennifer Avalon
Growing up I was always quite close to my maternal Grandma, named Eva. As a child we looked identical in our toddler pictures, and Grandma Eva would always stroke my hair and call me her “Peachy Pie.” I knew that meant she loved me. Many summers we spent at their weekend cabin built by my Grandpa, near the deserts of California, and often while we were there monarch butterflies would flit about under the big oak tree near the stream. When one would dance around us, Grandma would whisper to me, “Always remember, there goes a free spirit.”
Fast track about 33 years later. I am no longer living amongst the palm trees of California, but am living in the concrete jungle of New York City, thousands of miles away from Grandma Eva. One drizzly afternoon while walking north on Lexington Avenue I suddenly felt a pain in my heart. I looked up at the street sign, which said 58th and Lexington Avenue, and also checked my watch, 4:00PM, because I thought I might be having a heart attack. It quickly passed, but I hurried home. A few hours later my Mom called from California. Her opening line was “Grandma Eva passed away today from a heart attack.” I was stunned and said, “What time?” My Mom replied “1:00PM.” Well, if you do the math, the 3 hour time difference means I was feeling a pain in my heart at the same time as Grandma’s passing. Coincidence?
Exactly 7 days later I was walking north on Lexington Avenue again, this time with a girlfriend. Suddenly I saw a monarch butterfly flit right in front of us…I said to my friend “Did you just see that?” and she exclaimed “Yes!” I looked up at the sign, and there it was, 58th and Lexington Avenue, the same spot where one week earlier I had felt the pain in my heart, and my Grandma’s passing. Coincidence? I think not. It is extremely rare to see a monarch butterfly in mid-town Manhatten…or in New York City anywhere, actually. In fact, I have never seen a butterfly in the city ever, before that, or after.
Was Grandma trying to tell me she had become that “Free Spirit” she always pointed out to me, as a child? Was she first reaching out to me in her pain, and then a week later letting me know her joy? I think so. Why is this important? Because in this crazy world that seems so upside down at times, I find comfort in knowing some things never change…the Love between a Grandma and her Grandaughter can transcend time and space and circumstance. The Love between all of us can do the same.
With those we love it is important to find the common denominators…those things that we will always remember as memories of one another…because I believe it is those little (or big) things that will be used as love notes later….when we need those whispering embraces the most.
Share the whispers,
© 2010 Jennifer Avalon
The Other Side
At age seventeen I crossed over to the “Other Side.” I don’t know exactly how it happened, or why, but it did. One minute I was walking near the edge of a stream, and the next moment I was rapidly going upwards, in a pink cloud, opening up to the Universe, full of stars, but mostly full of Love. I felt a sense of peace beyond description, and knew that this was an emotion that was familiar, like I had felt it before, but not in a long long time. I couldn’t see God, but I could feel Him. His love was all surrounding, all encompassing. And one of His angels stood beside me and told me that we all have a heartlight, pointing to the globe below full of us earthlings. I could see the heartlight glowing in everyone’s chests, like in the pictures of Jesus where you can see the red heart, and the light coming out of it. This experience had a profound effect on my life, and influenced what I am today.
When I “came back” I was in the stream, clinging to a rock. Did I fall in? I have no recollection. I had to wade waist high back through the flowing current to reach the ground. I was completely wet. I never told anyone until about 16 years later, for fear they would think I was crazy.
One thing is for sure, to me the “Other Side” is more real than here. The feelings, the emotions, the colors, the knowledge, it’s as if one has been out in the cold, and suddenly walks into a warm cottage with a fire burning in the fireplace, and you’re told that you have finally come home….take your shoes off, sit by the fire, warm yourself…you’re home. No worries, no fear…just love and comfort…the way we all wish Home to be. Heaven is just that….the way we imagine. In fact, it’s far greater, because our human imaginations can’t scratch the surface of what Heaven truly is.
Though I remember the experience as clear as a ringing bell, I know that everyone is put here on Earth for a reason, and that we don’t get to go back there until it is “our time.” And each of us has a time, decided, I believe, by God and His Angels. We are supposed to complete our tasks here, and then we can move on….
I am not afraid of Death. Life is what can be scary, because there are people in it who are at different stages of their Soul’s development, and one must always protect themselves against those who choose to “walk on the darkside.” We all choose, every moment of our lives, which path we’re walking on. Once we “cross over” the game is up. We are completely transparent in thought and deed….God sees All. God sees All, all the time anyway, but once we are in His territory, we can see ourselves completely too. Game up!:)
Our real Home is only a breath away, but we spend our lives acting as if it’s a million miles away. Everyone goes Home someday…make sure you’re in the transparent garments you want God (and yourself) to see….
© 2010 Jennifer Avalon
As the unemployment rate sputters along the bottom, over and over again we read in the headlines where some are having quite a hard time finding work, while others are being told flat out jobs in their industry are not coming back. Many towns and cities that once had thriving manufacturing centers have lots that have become nothing short of ghost towns. This outcome has been a long time coming, perhaps decades in fact. Then why do many of us still have a look of shock on our faces?
As the United States and hopefully the world pulls out of this economic downturn, one point we must accept is that the playing field has been changed forever. Why is this important? Because going forward whatever jobs or industries that are created must include the reality that those jobs can’t be exported or downsized. For example, what good is it if a company manufactures a product, hires workers, builds up an infrastructure and then five years later that company moves its operations to places where workers are paid one tenth the price and all the workers are laid off, or severely downsized, at best, until one day it’s “Closed Up Shop” time?
A friend of mine shared with me a story that I found quite interesting, one I’m sure you’ve heard from time to time. She designed and developed hand knit sweaters to be worn specifically by women. At first her business started slowly, and over time built up quite a clientelle. Many of her products were available at high end department stores across the country, until one day she noticed that the re-order list was beginning to go down. She visited one of the main stores that sold her sweaters. The buyer came out and asked her to accompany her to her office. Once in the office my friend learned that her products were being closely copied and manufactured overseas and sold at a quarter of the price. What many of us know today as “knock-offs.” Not quite the original, but close enough. Before too long my friend ceased operations. If the job recovery involves creating jobs that this can happen to, it is doomed to fail.
The challenge is to create jobs that cannot be easily duplicated at a lower cost, while at the same time making them accessible to an open world market. I heard the other day a financial expert say there are only three areas that America has that can’t be easily transferred at will. Silicon Valley, Entertainment, and Finance. Yes indeed, offices and subsidiaries can be opened around the world, but these industries are a lot harder to transfer at will. This list must be added to in order for a new economic boom to take hold. Not only in the United States, but around the world. We can’t allow ourselves to so easily become interchangeable parts, or nothing short of work ants.
There it is, for all the brilliant minds to ponder….The Challenge. Building a moat around the country, bolting the doors, and constructing fences is not going to help us one bit. The world has to be engaged with all forms of uniqueness. Each country has to develop a speciality that only they can do the best. Impossible? I think not. Ever heard of “Swiss chocolates?”
Face the challenge,
© 2010 Jennifer Avalon
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
2010, a brand new year awaits us. Will it be a repeat of last year? Personally, I hope not. I too am one of the many who was very glad to say “goodbye” to 2009!
How about you? How are things in your neck of the woods? It’s crazy out there, many are out of jobs, some losing their homes, and we’re left to wonder, is anyone steering the ship? Republicans, Democrats, who cares? Just correct the problems, be honest, and please, no more b.s. I am a firm believer that the government can’t solve all your problems, but they’re not supposed to stand in your way either. If the government really believes that it can run everything in our lives better than us, then by all means line us up one by one, take away our credit cards, clean out our bank accounts, and take over our homes. Otherwise, let us sink or swim by ourselves. Surely, even a five year old child could do a better job than what has been spent by the government on our behalf in the past year. Hey, one guy on the internet suggested that the government give us each a tax free year. What’s crazy? It would have only cost a pittance of what was unleashed, to balloon the deficit. Personally, I don’t think giving each American a million dollars would have been such a bad idea. That would have only cost around 300 million dollars….a tiny drop in the bucket compared to other measures.
Life, Libery and the Pursuit of Happiness…sign me up! I’m all for it. But lately, across the land, something has gone wrong with this picture. Tea Party protestors, called “Astroturf,”by some…please, I call it an expression of frustration. Americans looking at the Constitution and wondering what the heck is going on? Is it any wonder why Glenn Beck’s ratings are going through the roof. He’s totally tapping in to people whose anger and frustration has left them feeling disillusioned and powerless. Personally I cannot believe some of the jargon that I hear from members of Congress, staring at the camera and expecting me to believe that pigs can fly.
All that said, I am more hopeful for America than ever, because I know there are people out there who are not drinking the Kool Aid, and walking around brain dead. What a game…they’ve pitted Democrats and Republicans against each other for so long, that is it any surprise almost nothing gets done in Washington? We’ve come to finally realize we have much more in common than we ever thought. How many out there are starting to feel that they’re swinging from the trapeze with no safety net to catch them if they fall? Well that’s where the rest of us come in to grab sheets, netting, whatever materials that are handy, to grab on and create our own safety net, for ourselves, and one another. Americans have risen to the occasion many times before. The people of Haiti just have to look around to see the heart of America.
We all know full well how to get back up, shake off the dust, and move forward. Banks, Government, corruption, whoever and whatever…we all know something is wrong, and it can be corrected. But please, please, no more five and dime speeches, and juvenile solutions.
The Truth Shall Set You Free,
© 2010 Jennifer Avalon