To Keurig or Not to Keurig

The Crankee Yankee and I have a long-standing battle about our Keurig coffee maker. Long story short, years ago the Crankee Yankee and I were visiting my mom and dad. While there, we went to a raffle and bought $10 each worth of tickets. Wouldn’t you know it, the Crankee Yankee won the grand prize; a Keurig coffee maker.

This was a pretty big deal as they went for over $100 at the time. I was delighted, thinking “at last—we can buy all different k-cup coffee flavors and I can have a different flavored coffee every DAY!”

Sadly, that didn’t happen. Oh, we bought plenty of k-cups all right; it’s just that we (meaning the Crankee Yankee) bought all Sumatran k-cups , or all dark roast, or all Columbian, or all hazelnut. As I told the Crankee Yankee, why bother to use the Keurig if you don’t have a bunch of DIFFERENT flavors to choose from?

He looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears and said, “what’s wrong with just one kind of coffee?” After I finished rolling my eyes, I took a deep breath and tried to explain that having the Keurig practically for FREE meant that we could indeed afford to buy a dozen k-cups of coconut coffee, vanilla coffee, caramel coffee, french toast coffee, pecan coffee, eggnog coffee, etc.

“So wouldn’t it be fun to have a different cup of coffee whenever you liked?” I said. The Crankee Yankee said, “what’s wrong with regular coffee?”

I swallowed my rising temper and tried one more time: “But then why bother to use the Keurig if all we are going to do is drink cup after cup of the same coffee? We might as well just keep using the old coffee pot.”

So the nearly-free Keurig went down into the depths of our pantry until just recently. We went to Cosco and found k-cups at a much lower price and bought (you guessed it) Sumatran coffee, dark roast coffee and Columbian coffee.

Again I broached the subject of a MIX of different coffee flavors, and he said that there is a place where you can actually pick out as many different k-cups you like, just like a candy store! Perhaps all that time we kept the Keurig downstairs changed his mind, or maybe because we are both older now—who cares! NOW he agrees to take me to that magical place where I can finally pick out all the coffee flavors I want.

Behold and lo—the Crankee Yankee has had a coffee epiphany! Everything in its time and season, I guess…..

 

An Abundance of Abundance

Can there be too much abundance in our lives? Certainly not. And when I say “abundance,” I mean abundance of all things. I have personally experienced abundance in these areas:

  • family love
  • friend love
  • money when needed
  • comfort when needed
  • help when needed
  • food when needed
  • the right direction when needed
  • laughter when needed

…and so much more. When I have been so worried about something that I can’t think straight, I can’t sleep or eat, I can’t clear my head—suddenly it is as if I feel a mantle of peace falling over me. I can almost feel arms around me and a whisper in my ear saying, ‘don’t worry. Things will happen as they will and in the right time.’

And, miraculously, they do. Oh, I’ve never stubbed my toe on a chest full of gold coins and jewels, but I’ve had answers to prayers appear out of nowhere. A few years ago, our truck broke down and, it being as old as it was, the right parts were thin on the ground, not to mention expensive. That same week, a dear friend of ours gave us his perfectly good used truck that he had been trying to sell for years. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.

I’ve found a $5 on a windy day; it should have blown away, but there is was; sitting on some leaves, waiting for me to come along and pick it up. Shortly after my mother died in December 2015, I lost a pearl out of a ring I loved. I was frantic; I couldn’t find it anywhere. Days later, I got out of the car, and behold and lo; there was the pearl sitting right on the floor. (I sort of feel that Mom had a hand in that one!)

Call it fate, call it angels, call it whatever you will, but abundance is there, waiting for us all. It’s as if the universe is just dying to give us good things; all we need to do is ask. I’m not saying that a new car or a diamond necklace will fall out of the sky in front of us, but good things do happen for no apparent reason.

Here is the “formula” I employ when things seem to be out of my control: first, I try to get peaceful in my mind. This often means just sitting in a quiet place and thinking, ‘peace, peace, peace.’

Second, I ask for help in solving the problem I’m stuck on: ‘I just can’t find an answer or solution to <insert issue here>.’

Third, I say ‘thank you for your help.’ Then I put the whole thing out of my mind. This often means saying to myself at different times when the worry wants to creep back in, ‘out, out, out! This is already being worked on!’ This helps me to stop worrying; I’ve already passed it on and no longer need to fret about it.

I don’t know exactly how it all works, but I do know that eventually I will get an answer that works for me.

Besides, as my mom would say, “try it; it couldn’t hurt!”

What’s Up With This?!

It appears that the Crankee Yankee and I have upset someone’s applecart here in our little town. Having never been in trouble with the law in my life, I am a bit shocked by what is happening to us now. Here’s the story.

We live on a small, somewhat narrow street (24′ wide; often a squeeze to have two cars pass each other) with no sidewalks. We live near the curve of the street, and, despite a “25 MPH” sign on the street, people zoom right through, and often do not stop at the stop sign. Our seniors, school kids, bike riders, walkers and skateboarders are more than a little nervous about being on our street because of this. We have two indoor/outdoor cats who like to cross the street to the green space on the other side of the road, and we have had some near misses with them. So we usually have to be outside to watch out for them.

We have lived on this street since 2007, and the Crankee Yankee’s family has lived at this address since 1960. We have been renovating and repairing the house since 2007. The Crankee Yankee is a retired carpenter, concrete construction superintendent and former building inspector for the town of Londonderry. He does all the work on our house himself, and, as we are on a fixed income, we pay cash upfront. We wish that we had the resources do everything at once, but we are doing the best we can with what we have.

We have been parking his truck and my SUV on the street so that the Crankee Yankee can use the driveway as his work area. We are trying to sell our older Toyota T-100, and have it parked on one side of the driveway. Having our two vehicles parked on the street by our house has actually helped in slowing traffic down. Soon after this, we had two separate police visits about this (no doubt responding to a complaint), and both smiled and said, “I see that you are trying to slow traffic down.”

The Crankee Yankee said that yes, besides giving him room to work in the driveway it did indeed slow things down. The officers had told him to ‘keep up the good work.’

Soon after that, it became an issue with a capital I; it seems that someone with some pull in the town has complained and we were then told to get the vehicles off the street. We explained the situation to the police chief, and he appeared to understand. We agreed that, after the Crankee Yankee’s work was done for the day, we would park one of the vehicles beside the T-100, leaving the smaller car on the street, parked close to the curb.

That seemed to work for a while. Then evidently the police received more complaints, and we received more visits.  The latest one ended with the news that the town is going to put up a “No Parking” sign right in front of our house. We can park a vehicle behind the sign, but since we will have to park one car beside the T-100, it means that the Crankee Yankee will not be able to work in the driveway. Since our garage is under construction, all his equipment he uses each day; table saw, tools, wheel barrows, concrete blocks, bags of cement, rakes, ladders, etc. take up a good part of the driveway.

Our eight raised bed gardens in front of our house means that he can’t work there, so he will have to work on the side of the street by the No Parking sign, and hope that he doesn’t get sideswiped by a passing car. We have also been told that we must now remove everything from our driveway (except cars of course), and get rid of the T-100 we have been trying to sell.

At this point I have feel we have some kind of target on our backs. We keep on asking why this has suddenly become a problem and why can’t we know who we are upsetting? We are getting no answers, and I wonder if the next step will be villagers with torches trying to run us out of town, a la old Frankenstein movies.

We have addressed the speeding and traffic volume concerns at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, with the result that they will meet again next month. I have written a letter to the editor of our local newspaper to explain our situation; it will be published this week. I have no idea if it will do any good, but I am hopeful.

I fail to understand why, as decent people, good citizens and helpful neighbors, we seem to be singled out. As far as we know, we are not breaking any laws or violating any town ordinances. Neither I or the Crankee Yankee have ever been in trouble with the law, destroyed any property, hurt anyone, passed a bad check, stolen anything, sold drugs to children, or supported ISIS. I wonder most of all why we are not allowed to know who is applying pressure on the powers that be. We can’t seem to get a clear answer.

I’m sorry that this isn’t my usual type of post; no funny stuff, thought-provoking comments, poetry or haiku, or upbeat ‘ain’t life grand’ post, but this situation is weighing heavily on my mind and I have temporarily lost my ability to “rise above.”

If this can happen to people like us, what’s next?

 

 

You May Be an Empath If…….

Do you cry when you hear about animal abuse? Does it upset you when you hear that a fire has driven people out of their home? Do you worry when you hear that an innocent person was hurt due to the negligence of another? Does it make you sick to your stomach when you see or hear about senseless violence?  When someone you care for is ill, do you feel sick as well? If so, you just might be an empath; that is, a person who takes on the emotions of others.

The word “empath” comes from the word ’empathy,’ which means “identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings and motives” (Webster’s Dictionary). However, it’s more than that. If you are an empath, you may have one or two (or all) of these traits:

  • You often take on another person’s pain with (or without) realizing it.
  • You can usually tell when a person says one thing but means something else.
  • You feel tired or drained after being around certain people; in fact, being around some people makes you feel ill.
  • You become overwhelmed or even claustrophobic when there are many people around.
  • Your moods change often without warning, and you don’t know why.
  • You find that you can often change or influence the moods of others around you.
  • You unwittingly become others’ ‘go to’ person when they have problems.
  • When someone you love hurts, you do, too.
  • You find that being by the ocean or out in nature soothes you.
  • When you see or hear violent images on TV or the movies, you may become physically ill.
  • You will often find yourself taking care of others more than yourself.
  • You understand that animals and plants have consciousness.

There are more traits as well. You will find that people seek you out so that they can dump all their emotional baggage on you. They walk away feeling better; you are left dealing with a big pile of emotional garbage. How do I know this? I know because I am an empath, too.

When I began taking classes from the amazing *Noreen McDonald, I learned that I was not only an empath, but had been for a long time. I learned about “energy vampires,” that is, those people who drain your energy so much that you feel exhausted afterwards.

So, if you are or think you may be an empath, what do you do? Here are some “weapons” I learned about from Noreen’s classes, and they WORK:

  • Keep an ‘energy shield’ up at all times, especially when around negative people. Use a **real or mental mirror to deflect negative energy. You can also design your own ‘shield’ in your mind. When coming in contact with a negative person or ‘energy vampire,’ think to yourself, “Shields UP!” and imagine your shield is all around you and protecting you.
  • Pay attention when you first meet someone—do you feel you want to hug them, shake hands, or feel you should walk away.
  • Listen to your gut—this is your own intuition sending you a message. Pay attention to your feelings; if something or someone feels wrong, you are probably right. Don’t let your brain talk you out of it.
  • Take care of yourself just as you would a child or a pet.
  • When you see or are with a person in pain, do NOT take on their pain. Instead mentally send them a laser beam of healing energy and love.

About that last one—I learned this the hard way. If you try to take on the other person’s pain, it is just as if you were telling that person that they are too weak to handle it themselves. Taking on their pain hurts you both. Keep your shield up, send them love, listen; but do not take on pain that is not yours.

There is so much more, but the above are things I’ve learned to use over the years so that I don’t become overwhelmed by things I cannot change. I instead focus on those things I CAN change. I was lucky to have the right teacher at the right time to guide me.

Whether or not you search out the right teacher, just know that you are not alone, that you are not weird or strange or odd. You are simply a person with a gift. How you use and grow that gift is up to you.

*http://noreenmcdonald.com.

**Even if the smallest of mirrors will do. We used to have constant problems with a neighbor; she tried her best to make our lives miserable. I finally placed a small pocket mirror in our bedroom window, facing her house. The complaining and confrontation stopped almost immediately. In fact, she soon moved out of the house. All her negativity was reflected back onto her. Sounds silly, but it works.

 

 

Caretakers = Heroes

When you become a caretaker for a family member, you take on a life-changing challenge. Unless you are a licensed nurse or doctor, it’s a whole new skill-set to learn. And even if you are trained, it’s still hard to be a caregiver for a loved one. Speaking from my own experience, you are constantly fearful that whatever you are doing is wrong or causing pain.

Thankfully, my mother had home Hospice for nearly four months before she died. My dad was the main caretaker; I was the secondary. Both of us leaned heavily upon the wonderful and amazing Hospice nurses. They became family to us, and they helped us not only with caring for Mom, but also how manage our time and energy.

My dad and I did the best we could, but felt we were lifted up by those incredibly kind and patient Hospice nurses. Additionally, my mother’s *PEO group organized a weekly menu of homemade meals for us. They were always delivered with love, friendship, compassion and a quick visit with Mom. Dad and I found that their visits and phone calls became a kind of safety net for us; their love and strength helped hold us together.

My oldest and best friend was a skilled nurse for over 30 years. Five years ago, she and her husband moved her mother into their home. Since then, she has been the sole caretaker for her mother, who is nearly 98 years old. I believe her when she says that the most important part of  her caretaker experience is simply listening. While her past nursing experience is extremely helpful in watching for signs of illness or or discomfort, keeping her mother’s records up to date, managing all the medical appointments, paperwork and finances, she feels that just listening to her mother reminisce about times past means so much–to both of them.

My friend is her mother’s advocate and voice, especially during a doctor’s appointment. As her mother is hard of hearing, my friend makes sure that she communicates to her mother what is going on, and in doing so brings her into the conversation. It is sad that medicine has come to a place where a doctor can only spend so many precious minutes with a patient, especially an elder one who is not used to the current “rush and hurry.” It becomes too easy for the doctor to speak only to the caretaker, and not directly to the patient. My friend makes sure that her mother gets the information she needs, and explains it to her in a way that is easy for her to understand.

I can’t tell you how many times I have leaned on my friend for advice and comfort during my mom’s last days. What sticks with me to this day is her telling me, ‘let her talk. Enjoy that time.’ And so we did. Dad and I told Mom over and over again how much we loved her, and how much she meant to us. She told us constantly that she loved us with all her heart.

My friend also told me that anger, fear and frustration are very common for caretakers. Anger because we are losing someone we love so dearly, fear because we are afraid we may make things worse by not doing the right thing at the right time, and frustration because we often don’t know what to do. Again, the best advice she gave me was to simply listen. Because of that simple reminder, my last days with my mom were memorable, wonderful and life-affirming.

I think that caretakers are true heroes. My friend is my hero now and forever for all she taught me, which helped me through my mother’s final days and death. My dad and I miss her, but we have no regrets. What we have is great gratitude for all the time we had with her, and all the love we shared together for years. As I believe that love never dies, I also believe that our spirits never do, either.

My gratitude to my friend, my hero, is never ending.

*For much of its history, the meaning of “P.E.O.” in the organization’s name was a closely guarded secret, never made public.

In 2005, the Sisterhood unveiled a new logo and an “It’s OK to Talk About P.E.O.” campaign, seeking to raise the public profile of the organization while maintaining its traditions of secrecy. Before then, the organization’s avoidance of publicity, and the secrecy of their name, caused it to be considered it a “secret society’.

In 2008, the Sisterhood revised its website to indicate that “P.E.O.” now publicly stands for “Philanthropic Educational Organization”. However, the Sisterhood acknowledges that “P.E.O.” originally had a different meaning that continues to be “reserved for members only”, and so the public meaning is not the only one.

Keep It or Toss It?

Well, I am still cleaning out our kitchen cabinets. The up side of this is that our kitchen is becoming more organized and easier in which to see/find things as well as everything getting a good clean-up. The down side is that there are many things I find we really don’t use or need anymore. (Funny how that always happens, isn’t it?)

Here are some of the “treasures” I’ve unearthed:

  • A big, old-fashioned glass lemon squeezer. The few times I’ve used it, seeds and lemon juice fly everywhere.

Vintage solid glass Lemon Squeezer. Great condition

  • An enormous glass butter dish with a cover. We already have a nice ceramic one–we like it better than this one.

Clear Cut Glass Butter Dish

  • A wooden mortar and pestle. (I know for a fact that I had this in the ’70s!) A stone one is more effective and probably doesn’t harbor germs as a wooden one does.

  • Several inefficient water bottles; leakers, every one.

  • A half-dozen “meh” glass flower vases. After our female cat nibbled on the star-gazer lilies the Crankee Yankee gave me on one anniversary (FYI, lilies and their leaves are deadly to cats), we had to take her to the animal ER for a charcoal treatment to get the lily toxins out of her system. Several hundred dollars later, it was definitely worth it, but we don’t have flowers in the house anymore. Therefore, no vases needed.

  • A milk glass sugar and creamer set (remember that awful “pimple” glass?). We drink our coffee and tea black.

FENTON MILK GLASS HOBNAIL SUGAR AND CREAMER PAIR LOT NO.RD-27

…and the list goes on as I continue cleaning and reorganizing. I will admit to being a sucker when someone says to me, ‘oh, don’t you want to keep this (old, ugly, completely useless thing)? It’s been in the family (i.e., passed down from person to person who hated it on sight) for years!’ I call it the “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Syndrome;” I get to feeling sorry for the poor whatever and agree to take it in like a stray dog loaded with fleas and ticks, and who has constant diarrhea on one end and pyorrhea on the other.

Well, I’ve come to the place in my life where less is definitely more, and it’s become easier and easier to unload stuff I haven’t used or liked in–forever! We plan to either have a garage sale in the spring, take the stuff to Goodwill or just pitch it. That is unless anyone reading this would like own any of these treasures? If you like the milk glass sugar and creamer set, guess what–I also have two milk glass fruit bowls I’ll throw in as well.

As an added bonus, you may also take your choice of any of the other “fine items” I’ve mentioned. TAKE THEM, PLEASE!!!

 

Ho’oponopono

I recently read a wonderful post in the Kindness blog by April V. Walters. It was about *Hoʻoponopono, an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Ms. Walters was writing about being with her dying father and how this practice helped her have closure with him. Hoʻoponopono begins with a list of things to say to a dying person, such as: “Thank you.”  “I love you.” “I’ll never forget you.” “I’m sorry.” “Forgive me.”

Reading this brought back my days and nights with my mother while she was in Hospice care. We always told each other every day, “I love you with all my heart.” I felt that the rest was understood; in fact, when I search my heart, I know that we both understood that we had forgiven each other our minor faults a long time ago. I also know that, to my last breath, I will never forget my mother.

Ms. Walters mentioned in her post that these phrases aren’t just good to say when someone is dying, but also things that we should say more of in our day-to-day lives. I couldn’t agree more.

I become so interested in Hoʻoponopono that I researched it a little more.

The phrase “I’m sorry” is repentance for anything said or done in anger or hurt. As negative thoughts and actions have a real presence and force, saying “I’m sorry” will help restore balance and calm to both the speaker and to the receiver.

The phrase “forgive me” means just that—to any and all, ask forgiveness and mean it.

The phrase “thank you” is wonderful energy that permeates everything—say it, mean it. We can thank the person for being in our lives and making it better. We can thank God for our health and life. We can thank the Universe for all that it gives us. And so on.

The phrase “I love you” can be meant for someone specific, a group of people, the world, the universe—again, all positive energy positively affects everything.

It is an ancient belief that anger, fear, doubt, worry, i.e., negativity in general; can sicken the body and mind. Actually, researchers have made connections in the last few decades between negative thoughts; anger or fear or worry, and so on and illness. These feelings really can make a person sick; bad feelings held inside are not good for us. The way to cleanse ourselves of these things is to be thankful, positive, forgiving, kind and loving.

That’s one more good thing I’m going to remember. I am adding Hoʻoponopono to my To Do list right along with don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements:

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always do your best

*Hoʻoponopono (ho-o-pono-pono) is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. Similar forgiveness practices were performed on islands throughout the South Pacific, including Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand. Traditionally hoʻoponopono is practiced by healing priests or kahuna lapaʻau among family members of a person who is physically ill. Modern versions are performed within the family by a family elder, or by the individual alone.