“I Was a Child!”

I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has looked back on their childhood and squirmed, remembering all the foolish, stupid, ignorant, etc. things they have said or done at that time. These memories used to haunt me at odd times, making me feel both miserable and guilty.

Examples:

  1. Saying something hurtful to someone dear to you because at that time, your own feelings were hurt and you lashed out at the nearest target.
  2. Letting something bad happen to you because you didn’t know how to stop it at the time.
  3. Allowing someone else’s pain to hurt you.
  4. Saying something hurtful to someone because they hurt you first.

And the list can go on and on. When we are young, we don’t know how to handle every single thing that happens to us. We can find ourselves in situations where we don’t know how to get away, or stop it.

When I was about 14, a friend of my parents introduced me to his nephew. He was a good-looking boy of about 17 years old, and he paid me a flattering amount of attention. I remember feeling mesmerized by this person telling me how beautiful I was, how smart I was, and so on.

Long story short, I had a gut feeling about this nephew; I couldn’t have put words to it, but I felt deeply that something was “off” about him. During a day of skiing together, he took off down a trail I knew to be a bit hazardous if you weren’t familiar with it. I followed him to warn him of the danger, and he was waiting for me in a little cut-off on the trail.

All of a sudden, I felt alarm bells ringing in my head. I didn’t know what might happen, but I knew I had to get away and fast. I babbled something about being cold and wanting a cup of hot chocolate down at the lodge. I didn’t even listen to his answer when I took off down the rest of the trail as fast as I could go. Luckily, I ran into Dad, who had been waiting for us.

The point of all this is that when we do dangerous or foolish things as children, we look back when we are older and are aghast at our recklessness and ignorance. Most of the bad things I remember happened when I was a child. (And yes, I consider teenagers children, too.) When we are older and more experienced and have learned to avoid pitfalls, we look back on our childhood and wonder how we could have been so stupid.

But it’s not stupidity, it’s being young and inexperienced. We need to forgive ourselves for things we said and did as children. Now that we are grown up, we know better. Back then, we didn’t know. Even admonitions from our parents didn’t always stay in our minds.

These days my go-to healing phrase is “I was a CHILD!” Hearing this helps me forgive myself. These days when I say this to myself, I can let those things go, because I was after all a child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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History is History

There has been a disturbing trend for some people in America who are offended by some of our artifacts, statues, flags and other memorabilia. Instead of viewing these things as part of our country’s history, they feel that reminders of the past should be removed or destroyed.

I remember when this trend began to manifest itself. I was in grade school, and books such as “*Black Like Me,” by John Howard Griffin, “Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee were discreetly removed. If not removed, then several “offensive” pages were razored out of the books. Even then, I was shocked; first of all, books were (and still are) sacred to me.

At the time, all I could think about was ‘what if they start burning books?’ Little did I know then what was to come.

Every country in the world has its own history, and historical artifacts. These are priceless reminders of what once was; not necessarily what now is. History teaches us lessons learned in the past and helps us understand who we were and how we came to be the way we are now.

History is born from truth, and once history is made, it becomes part of our culture. Take slavery, for example. Today we are horrified by the idea of people having slaves, and the fact that the slaves had no rights or choice. But it is part of our history. This does not mean that we glorify it or practice it today; it is simply a part of history that was true at the time.

When some people decide that tearing down statues or flags or destroying artifacts from our history is the thing to do, we ALL lose. We must remember that the things that upset us now were the norm back then. It doesn’t mean that we condone slavery now. History teaches us what we may need to know so that history doesn’t repeat itself, as in the case of slavery.

What we need to remember is that statues and flags from the past are historical reminders so that we don’t forget how bad things can be if we are not watchful. These relics from the past do not reflect our values today. 

As someone a whole lot smarter than me once said, “If we do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.”

*From Wikipedia, “Black Like Me, first published in 1961, is a nonfiction book by white journalist John Howard Griffin recounting his journey in the Deep South of the United States, at a time when African-Americans lived under apartheid-like conditions.”

Summer Suppers

It’s been pretty hot and humid here in the northeast, and when it’s that hot, nobody wants to cook. Even heating up a bowl of soup in the microwave sounds like too much work. Of course there are always the salad-and-sandwich suppers; cool and low maintenance.

But there are other options for hot weather meals. The following are five of my favorites because they are not only delicious, but are pretty easy to prepare. In no particular order, they are:

“*Iron Sandwiches” – these are great on hot nights and are also great for picnics. They are a take-off on paninis, which are wonderful, but not a lot of fun to make on a hot night.

“Salad With Meaty Bits” – make your own salad (or just go buy a salad kit) and add in chopped ham, chicken, feta cheese, olives, shrimp, leftover steak, etc.

“Mediterranean Plate” – pick up a few tubs of hummus (my own favorites are lemon, red pepper, garlic, and pine nut). Fill up a platter with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cut-up green or red peppers, celery sticks, sliced zucchini and cukes, etc. Add some sticks of string cheese, rolled up ham or salami, and open up a few boxes of crackers, and start dipping. (Great with a glass of wine.)

“Lettuce Cups” – using Boston lettuce (they very obligingly curl up into “cups”), fill them with chicken or seafood or ham salad. Cut up a loaf of crusty bread, and serve either with butter, or put out small cups filled with olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar drizzled in and a sprinkle of rosemary.

“Strawberry Shortcake Miracle Supper” – If you’re a Yankee like me, “real” strawberry shortcake starts with homemade biscuits, not spongecake. You can either make your own and freeze them, or buy some at a bakery. In any case, split the biscuit in half, ladle on as much strawberries and their juice as possible, and top with whipped cream. Again, homemade is better, but of course you can buy it in a spray can.

FYI: I am not going to dignify using that product that sounds like “fool pip,” either.

The story of how strawberry shortcake became a summer supper began when I was in grade school. It was a very hot evening, and I had just come home from playing with a friend. Mom and Dad were sitting on the front porch eating strawberry shortcake. 

This was so far from normal that I actually held my breath. My mother always made nourishing and delicious meals, and no one ate dessert until the meal was over. As I stumbled up the porch stairs, Mom gave me one of her “well, so what?” looks and said, “it’s just too hot to cook, so we’re having dessert for supper.”

I never forgot how wonderful it was to eat dessert for dinner. I highly recommend it.

*Directions for the “iron sandwich,” so named by my mother:

Split a sub roll, and spread with mayo or mustard or whatever you prefer. My personal favorite is cilantro lime creamy salad dressing. Fill the roll with cold roast beef, onions, pickles and arugula (or whatever you like), then wrap the sandwich tightly in waxed paper.

Put it in the ‘fridge and press it with a flat iron (or a heavy plate, etc. You get the idea.) This is why they’re called “iron sandwiches.” Flattening like this melds all the flavors together, and trust me; it’s a wonderful thing.

The Power of Chant

In a previous post, I said that I was going back to dance hula. Amazingly, I remembered steps from a few of the dances. Dancing again felt like being reborn. I also was invited by one of the teachers to chant with her; this too is part of many dances.

There is something ageless and ancient about chanting, and it gave me the kind of chills you feel when something in your life goes incredibly and beautifully right. I have become very interested in chanting, and looked into its history. I found the following pretty interesting:

“*When there is no written language, imagine selling property, traveling without any form of identification, or proving who your parents are, all without a paper trail. Imagine, as happened to a high chief in Hawaii long, long ago, that you flee from your island, end up in a shipwreck, and drift onto foreign shores: You would be considered an enemy and your death would be certain. Fortunately, this particular chief remembered his genealogy chant, and the islanders recognized the names of his ancestors. His lineage traced all the way back to the gods, and so his life was spared.”

“The ancient Hawaiian people kept no written records. Other than the petroglyphs, they knew no written language. Yet they lived with a sophisticated hierarchical system of land divisions, a complex classification in ranks from commoner to highest chief, and a detailed genealogy. To keep track of this vital knowledge, any transition that might be of importance, either to others or to future generations, had to be memorized and passed on.”

To aid with memorizing, a system of verses emerged which over the years developed into an ingenious art form. The verses were known as the “oli” chants. They recorded the history of the land and the lineage of the aristocracy….The chants were crucial for the continuation of the political, social, economic, and ecological system of the Hawaiian world.”

“After all, one’s position in Hawaii depended on ones rank, and ones rank was determined by blood descent. The genealogy was often the only evidence of ones ancestry. It linked a person to all the ancestors, and through this one could show how much sacredness and royal blood had accumulated.”

“It worked like this: In ancient Hawaii words and names held power. (They still do, but this knowledge is kept very private.) Each name in a genealogy chant carried the mana (power) of the ancestor. All names were linked by birth. The longer this link of names in the chant, the more mana [knowledge]. The accumulation of power, which was sacred, could lift a person to the ranks of the gods among mortals.”

Although I will not be dancing again soon (I recently found out that my knee replacement has degraded and needs to be “revised.” I will be having new surgery this month.), I will be learning chants for many of the dances. Not only does this make me feel connected to hula, but it’s good to learn other aspects of Hawaiian history.

(From “words of Power,” http://www.coffeetimes.com/words.htm)

Writers’ Block

Oh, dear, I’ve got writers’ block again—

I’ve got nothing that’s good enough to pen!

My mind’s a blank, my thoughts are cloudy,

I’m out of ideas and my inspiration’s gone rowdy.

I think I woke my brain up too early this morning;

My ideas have gone flat, without any warning.

My wit’s gone numb

My brain is dumb—

I wonder when I’ll feel clever enough

To even scratch out a rough

Version of what I might like to say;

But it may be that I’ve given my head a free day

In which to recoup my thoughts, my brain, my soul—

Until I can get myself back on a roll,

And put some insight into word

Even though the very thought’s absurd!

As my inspiration’s flat as a cracker,

Guess today I’m going to be a slacker!

 

 

 

 

Does Anyone Remember Groucho Marx?

When I was a child, I loved the Marx brothers, especially*Groucho Marx. Besides being in movies with his brothers Harpo, Chico, Gummo and Zeppo, Groucho had a show called “**You Bet Your Life.”

But what I loved best about him was his sharp wit. The quotes below are a short compilation of some of Groucho’s most famous sayings. I hope that they make you both laugh and think. Enjoy!

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

“When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun’.”

“From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.”

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”

“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”

“Humor is reason gone mad.”

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well I have others.”

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be.”

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”

“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”

“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”

“Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

“Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.”

“Some people claim that marriage interferes with romance. There’s no doubt about it. Anytime you have a romance, your wife is bound to interfere.”

“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”

“I have nothing but respect for you — and not much of that.”

“Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.”

“A child of five could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”

“Just give me a comfortable couch, a dog, a good book, and a woman. Then if you can get the dog to go somewhere and read the book, I might have a little fun.”

“Whatever it is, I’m against it.”

*Julius Henry Marx, known professionally as Groucho Marx, was an American comedian, film and television star. He was known as a master of quick wit and is widely considered one of the best comedians of the modern era.

**You Bet Your Life is an American quiz show that aired on both radio and television. The original and best-known version was hosted by Groucho Marx of the Marx Brothers, with announcer and assistant George Fenneman. The show debuted on ABC Radio on October 27, 1947, then moved to CBS Radio debuting October 5, 1949, before making the transition to NBC-TV and NBC Radio on October 4, 1950. Because of its simple format, it was possible to broadcast the show simultaneously on radio and television. June 10, 1960 was the last episode aired in its radio broadcast format. For its final season debuting September 22, 1960, the TV show was renamed The Groucho Show and ran a further year.