There are a dozen + one reasons I love and admire my father. 1) I could not have asked for the coolest dad…2) He gave my sister’s and I an amazing life growing up…3) He taught me to be open-minded…4) He taught me to be giving to those less fortunate than us…5) He made watching sports, ANY sport, so much fun…6) He loves to cook, and good food, and good wine…7) He passed on to me his love of music…ALL music…8) He protected us and passed his courage onto us during times of war…9) He introduced me to the world of technology, always being up to date with everything…10) He adores his grandchildren… 11) He taught me that making mistakes is ok…12) He is ALWAYS there for us…and one more: He saves sea turtles. For these dozen and one reasons, and many more, I love and admire my father, who was born on this day, some years ago, March 13 and I am lucky he is still with us, so we can enjoy at least a dozen and one more birthdays!
DisEase. It can spread quickly and along with it, hand in dirty hand, panic. I have no doubt that these small viruses multiplying rapidly have a purpose on our planet. DisEase is here to teach us a lesson as we experience this lack of ease.
Ease is to “move carefully, gradually, gently”. DisEase is the opposite of this. It can spread quickly and make us move quickly too. Humans might make careless, rash decisions. Exactly the kinds of decisions DisEase wants us to make.
Ease is the “absence of difficulty or effort”. DisEase is the opposite of this. It creates chaos and makes us go through strain. Humans might make things more complicated than necessary. Exactly the kinds of decisions DisEase wants us to make.
Ease is “to make less serious or severe”. DisEase is the opposite of this. It is relentless, harsh. Humans take matters in to their own (dirty) hands and begin to make matters worse. Exactly what DisEase wants us to do.
But Ease is persistent. Just as persistent as DisEase, although a bit slower. Ease is careful. Ease is gradual. Ease is gentle. It will ease its way into the lives of Humans again, and when it does, Ease comes with far more power than DisEase. For when it does, Ease brings with it a new sense of awareness. Humans begin to move with more caution. Observing their efforts. Making sense of it all. Before we know it, DisEase has fulfilled its purpose. For now.
“The non-existence or lack of”. Yesterday there was no blog post from me. I live in Mexico, and here, yesterday was a day where women were asked to stay home. They were asked to be absent from society, in hopes that their absence, their non-existence, be felt. I tried to be absent for a while from my presence on this planet. My lack of social media use prompted some to reach out wondering if all was ok. Some not noticing at all. This made me wonder. How many of us are out there that go missing and are unaccounted for? I am fortunate to have loved ones look out for me, who feel my absence. I fear for those who do not. Absence. I saw video footage of schools being attended only by boys and male teachers. Such powerful images. How sad the school looked without girls. How sad the school would look if it were the other way around as well. Children need each other. Boys and girls alike. The message was powerful. Absence. Female. Male. It is felt. We both belong here. We need each other. We are equal. We are important. We need NOT be absent. We need to make our presence valuable, cherished, respected. Do not wait for absence to want presence. By then, it may be too late.
Herbs. One of nature’s best gifts. Basil, parsley, dill, mint, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, lemongrass, cilantro…the list can go on and on…
Basil. Whole leaves layered between plump tomato slices and thick fresh mozzarella. Drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and cracked black pepper. Basil chiffonade ribbons placed on top of a nest of linguini coated with a creamy pesto sauce. Parsley. Curly leaves, finely chopped into a tabbouleh salad, bringing bulgur and cucumber together in lemony goodness. Parsley, flat leaves torn and mixed into a creamy chicken salad with walnuts and celery. Dill. Placed lovingly over a salmon steak, along with a lemon slice, wrapped in parchment and baked to perfection. Dill, mixed with cream cheese, spread onto fresh bread and topped with thinly sliced cucumbers. Mint. Blended with cubes of watermelon to create the perfect summer beverage. Mint muddled in a Mojito. Sage. Soft leaves simmering in browned butter, poured over potato gnocchi. Sage, carefully cut to mix into the perfect Thanksgiving stuffing. Thyme. Always a little going a long way. A sprig submerged in a hearty soup. Thyme, tiny leaves dried and crushed, becoming part of the coating of a roasted chicken. Rosemary. Stripped and chopped, mixed with oil and baby red potatoes. Rosemary, infused into a simple syrup, mixed with prosecco and cranberry juice. Oregano. Fresh leaves, minced and mixed with olive oil and lemon to create a Greek-style marinade. Oregano, dried and crushed into a thick tomato sauce, spread over a thin crust pizza. Lemongrass. Swimming with ginger and shrimp in a coconut-curry soup. Lemongrass, seeping in a hot cup of tea. Cilantro. Chopped and sprinkled over red sauce chilaquiles. Mixed with grilled pineapple and pork in tacos al pastor. Coming together with balsamic vinegar and green apple slices. In the perfect marriage with garlic, stuffing huge shrimp and pan seared to perfection.
Herbs. One of nature’s best gifts. Used for cooking. Used for curing. How will you use them today?
Empty lots. You can find them everywhere. On a corner of a busy street. Stuck between two sleek modern buildings. Far off on a country road. They tend to look similar. Covered in dry grasses and weeds, different shades of yellows, greens and browns. The presence of a tree or shrub surely noticeable. Wildflowers spreading a hint of color, if the lot is lucky. The rubble of a wall. Broken tiles from an old bathroom floor. These are the manmade pieces of the distant, or not so distant, past life of this empty lot.
Empty lots evoke so many emotions. Sadness, for what was once there and now is gone. Nostalgia, for its past glory. Sympathy, for its current state. Curiosity, for what it might become. Excitement, for all of its possibilities. All of these felt in the seconds it takes our eyes to glance at an empty lot.
Humans are like empty lots. We can feel sad for what we no longer possess. We get nostalgic over our younger years. We sympathize with what we are going through. We are curious about our future. We get excited about our possibilities.
However, this last emotion is not easy to attain. It takes vision and commitment to foresee the possibilities of an empty lot. Just as it takes vision and commitment to make our future plans come to life. We can easily get stuck in our sadness, our nostalgia, our sympathy, our curiosity and slowly, start losing interest and excitement.
We can easily get stuck as an empty lot. Allowing dry grasses and weeds to take over. Letting rubble remain, and not allowing for anything new to be built. Humans are like empty lots. Not always what they seem. With pasts full of glorious memories and futures full of endless possibilities.
As I was driving towards my lovely friend’s home, I was lost in thought about what to write today. I just could not come up with any ideas. Once I arrived, I sighed and parked my car outside her house. We said our hellos, and I made my way into her home, back to the small room that has become one of my small sanctuaries.
My friend is a miracle worker. In this small room, she works her magic with scrumptious creams and lotions, rejuvenating my face and treating me to not only a relaxing facial, but she mixes in some aromatherapy as well. Suddenly, there was my topic for today, right under my nose.
The amazing scents of essential oils traveling in through my nasal passage and straight into my soul. I have recently began to dabble in the realm of these oils. There is an essential oil for everything. At first, my essential oil ignorance made me believe that they were meant for diffusors only. I then discovered some were wearable and some could even be ingested! These oils have become essential scents in my life.
However, those scents are purposeful in their effects. There are others. They are all around us. They sneak into our senses and invoke powerful connections. The smell of food can make our stomach grumble and our mouth water. The smell of a perfume can remind us of a loved one. The smell of rain can take us back to childhood days. Such powerful memories are linked to scents.
The scent of vanilla in an angel food cake will forever remind me of my mother. The rubbery scent of a new tennis or squash ball will forever remind me of my father. The scent of whisky makes me picture my grandfather, talking to us, sharing his wisdom. The coconut scent of certain shampoos takes me back to my college dorm shower stalls. The strong, menthol scent of Vic’s Vapor Rub reminds me of my childhood school nurse. The unique scent of Desitin takes me back to midnight feedings and diaper-changings. The scent of tequila takes me…well, I rather not go there. The scent of chlorine plunges me deep into a crystalline pool. The scent of wood burning can take me to either a tropical beach or a snowy Swiss-village. The scent of lavender takes me far away to a mountain retreat.
The list can go on and on. Although some scents are created with an essential purpose, and some appear as if from nowhere, allow them within. It just makes scents. For some will travel far beyond your sense of smell, deep into your heart, mind and soul.
I am not very fond of my small, old bathroom. This old water closet is about 2.5 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width. It is almost completely covered with a grayish white tile. It is windowless. The light switch and electrical socket look like they have been to war and back again. The storage space in this tiny privy is located below the vanity. It includes all of four pint-sized white drawers and a compact space behind two white cabinet doors that feel like they will come off in your hands when you try to open them. Once you open them, the smell of musty wood hits you straightaway. I added one of those functional metallic shelves that fits behind the toilet, which holds three gray baskets filled with creams, lotions, make-up, and medicines. This loo fits the shower, toilet and sink.
A purple sink.
I had never seen a purple sink before. I’ve seen yellow, light blue, gray, turquoise, mint green, red-wine, black, and, of course, white sinks. I had never seen a purple sink. Not like this one. I have to admit, this purple sink makes my time in this space tolerable, maybe even enjoyable. This purple sink pushed me to paint the one small patch of wall not covered in tile. This space behind the bathroom door is now, you guessed it, purple. This purple sink made me hang one of my grandmother’s Scandinavian souvenirs off of the ugly metallic shelves. This painted ceramic piece has a Scandinavian woman dressed in purples and yellows. She is surrounded by purple flowers and birds. She makes me smile.
Today, as I was routinely using this purple sink, my eyes wandered and noticed that my make-up bag is velvety purple, my mouthguard container is purple, my make-up wipes are in a soothing purple package, my toothbrush is purple. This sink seems to be spreading its color. And then it hit me. Purple.
Purple reminds me of a frozen grape drink, which I always used to enjoy during my childhood. It reminds me of the living room setting of a comedy series that always makes me laugh. It reminds me of dinosaurs and fairies that made my daughters imagine when they were young. It reminds me of a dear friend who gave me my first purple pen and taught me to grade in purple (it reduces student anxiety). It reminds me of plums and my plum tarte-tatin, which my friends love for me to bake. It reminds me of Purple Rain. It reminds me of lavender and hydrangeas. It reminds me of a wine glass stain, left over after a wonderful after-dinner conversation.
All of these “purples” are the color to what could be a colorless life. If we allow ourselves to focus on the gray, the small, the falling apart, the windowless, we can easily stop noticing the purple sink. There is always a purple sink we can look for, regardless the circumstance in our life. We just have to make sure we take the time to notice it. When we do, its color begins to seep into other circumstances of our lives. Before you know it, purple is everywhere and the gray, old and windowless don’t seem that bad anymore.
I can always hear you. When you are loud, you are not my favorite. When you are soft, you are like music to my ears. When you are silent, that is when you are most powerful.
When you are loud, you are unkind. When you are loud, you are repeating things already said. When you are loud, you cannot take back what you said. You think that by being loud you are being heard. I’m sorry to break it to you, but you might be wrong there.
When you are soft, you are gentle. When you are soft, you are revealing something new. I know you think you are not reaching many when you speak softly, but you would be surprised to know that those who are listening, are taking it all in.
Voice, it is when you are silent that you are most heard.It is when you are silent that I listen more closely. It is when you are silent that magic happens. I don’t know how you do it Voice, but suddenly the words make their way towards Hands. Hands then just allow your words to pour out on to the screen, and you describe vivid scenes, share lasting emotions and create unique thoughts.
It is when you are silent that more magic happens. In this silence, you connect directly with me. This is the moment that is most powerful.
Voice. If I may give you some advice? It is unnecessary to be loud. It is better to be gentle. It is most important to be silent. Connect with me as much as is possible, and you will know what I mean.
Sweetness. At some point early on in the day you popped into my mind. I just could not stop thinking of you. No matter how hard I tried to distract myself throughout the day, there you were, a constant by my side.
As I sat at my desk, reading student reflections, I wanted you next to me. As I explained how to find the area of a rectangle with fractional side lengths, I needed you even more. As I stood out in the sun during lunch duty, I thought, “My sweetness should be here“. Later on in the afternoon, as I sat alone in my classroom, finishing up some work, I knew I just needed to enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea) with my sweetness.
So I followed my heart (plus my mind kept whispering..“no regrets”) and decided to come for you. Much to my dismay, as I walked to the school parking garage, I saw my car was being blocked by a school bus. I quickly told the bus driver, “Please move your bus. I have something important to do.” To which he kindly obliged. I was so grateful to be one step closer to my sweetness.
I drove, not too fast and not too slow, to find you. I knew where you would be. I could even picture you and your surroundings. Daydreaming about you, I found I had made it to you quicker than I imagined! I walked in and there you were. Just seeing you brought a huge smile to my face.
I barely looked at the kind lady behind the counter as she asked, “How can I help you?”. I could not help but think of how you had come into my mind so many times today, and now here you were, right in front of me.
“I’ll take four please,” I replied. “One almond-coconut, one bitter chocolate, and two carrot- pistachio.” I sighed and smiled as she placed you in the green and white box that I would be taking you home in.
Sweetness. At some point early on in the day you popped into my mind. Finally, here we are. I savored every bite of of your almond-coconut sweetness while my coffee was brewing. Now, as I hear the coffee maker reach its final drips, I think I will enjoy some bitter chocolate sweetness as well (no regrets).
I don’t have a clear picture of whose graceful hands and fingers are moving across the piano’s keys. I sometimes picture a child, practicing. Then again, the ease and grace of the sounds, and the complexity of the melody might mean it is someone who has been practicing for longer.
These classical notes find their way into my small, city home every now and then. They dance across a red-brick patio that separates my living quarters from the larger, older house that surrounds me. These notes make their way through two glass panes which are always shielded by a pair of white blinds. They push through these blinds and dance into my small hallway. Down the hallway they glide, and fill the space between the hard-wood floors and the crown molding of our ceilings.
I am always tempted to go knock on the large front door and ask who is responsible for creating the beautiful sounds. Instead, I allow these melodies to take me away to a different time and place.
A formal gathering, champagne glasses sparkling and guests smiling.
A beautiful garden, where women are wearing flowery hats and drinking tea.
A quiet audience, captivated by a pianist’s performance.
My own home then transforms itself into its origins, for I was once told it used to be the formal living and dinning area of the house that surrounds mine. It is filled with expensive persian rugs, mid-century modern furntiure, heavy draperies, exquisite art on the walls and, of course, the piano. I have a corner set aside for it in my mind, and on this piano there are about a dozen silver framed photographs. Set amongst these frames, are unique souvenirs from far away places. Timeless memories.
Suddenly, silence. The pictures in my mind vanish quickly, as the classical notes stop dancing around in my home. I sigh and smile as I am brought back to my real surroundings.
I don’t have a clear picture of whose graceful hands and fingers were moving across the piano’s keys. But these sounds will come back, they always do. When they do, I will allow myself to get lost in their dance, again.
I will allow music to do what it is meant to do.