Category Archives: Uncategorized

No Electronics! A Pot Luck of Poems

Dear Reader,

Fancy meeting here, after all these years;)

I return to this place where it was my privilege to have your time. I hope my return is welcome. This will be my last post on this blog.

I write here today because this is where I began to dream I might make a living stringing words together. I believe I am nearer that dream than ever before, despite my long silence. And since you have read before, I hope you will read again.

I recently published a pot luck of poems for children of all ages, now available for purchase on Amazon. I hope you’ll purchase a copy. If you enjoy it, I hope you share it.

If you want to be the first to learn about future Pot Luck Mama projects, please sign up for updates here  http://www.potluckmama.com/sign-up/

Thanks for sharing your time with me…then and now.

All the best,

Pot Luck Mama

Comfort in Ritual

When last I wrote it was on the subject of change. I couldn’t tell you at the time, but I was in the middle of more change than I let on. I can now share more and while I’m at it I’m going to share some of my plans to ease my transition.

When my family returned from our recent visit to South Africa I was bound and determined to find a way for us to spend more time there. In conversation with some of our friends, I’d landed on the idea of trying to do some online marketing work from a distance with the help of my friend Jason and his team at Noodlehead Studios. My company hired Noodlehead about a year ago to redesign our website and help us increase our online presence in social media. A few months into working with them our big boss formally bought into the efforts for not only Builder Specialties but also our sister companies, peeling away most of my daily business responsibilities (such as managing the customer service team) to free me to focus on these projects and manage their growth. I was in my element and I found the perfect team in Noodlehead. Jason and his team are dedicated, creative, good people and I enjoyed working with them. It was natural I’d see them as potential helpmates for my cause.

One thing led to another in my conversation with Jason and he ultimately let me know he’d decided he wanted to hire someone to run the operations for his company so he could get out and drive the business. I was one person he’d considered for the job. My request to team up had come at an opportune moment and over the next few weeks we found a way to make it work. This past Wednesday was my last day with Builder Specialties and today was my first day with Noodlehead Studios.

As I mentioned in my last post, I love change. That said, when it comes around I generally try and plant a few stakes to help me maintain my course. As I embark on the biggest professional change I’ve yet to experience, I’ve identified some rituals I want to incorporate and continue.

  • I’ve been attending a Wednesday noon church service as often as possible for the past few years. I will continue to prioritize this worship time.
  • At that same church (just up the road from my new offices) the new pastor leads a yoga practice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’d like to make at least one of those practices a week to help me center and focus.
  • Our offices are around the corner from a park. When the weather gets a bit cooler, I’d like to take one lunch per week in the park – without my phone or computer.

There are other rituals I’ve toyed with but I hesitate to commit to too much right now…I don’t like setting myself up for failure. This feels good and doable – just what I need for now.

This post is more me, me, me than some, but I wanted you to know what’s going on with me in the event that I go MIA every now and again. Actually, I’m thinking this may be a great opportunity for me to stop waxing philosophical for a while and instead give y’all some real nuggets of useful information. So, in that vein:

I’ve stopped using dishwasher detergent. I found a substitution in baking soda with a few drops of liquid dish soap (like Dawn/Sunlight) and it works like a bomb…another Madison Avenue housekeeping solution bites the dust! 😉

Until next time…

The Harvest

I’ve spoken before about tending your spiritual gardens. For the last few weeks I’ve been fortunate to celebrate a harvest. I went away on holiday to my family’s other homeland in South Africa and our days were filled with a bounty of spiritual food. I enjoyed the company of friends and family I rarely see, tasted food I eat often but enjoy the most in South African sunshine and allowed myself opportunities to learn and grow – so wonderful! I want to share some of these experiences with you along with my reflections – I hope you get something out of them!

  • Effort: On our second night in South Africa a friend, hearing of our arrival, dropped everything at 9 pm on a Friday to drive an hour to visit with us. What an expression of love! It makes me think about the times I’ve foregone visits with friends for simplicity’s sake. Yes, I still think it is sometimes the wise decision to make (especially if you’re taking into consideration the needs of a spouse and/or kids) but I’m reminded just how much love you can show by setting aside your own convenience to feed a relationship. Thanks, Thea, for loving me so well.
  • Hospitality: Next we went to Cape Town for a few days. When we landed the deal on that flight we contacted a friend to find out whether we’d be able to stay with her when we visited. Thinking she and her new hubby would be in a larger home by then (theirs is a small garden flat), she extended her hospitality. As our arrival neared, she contacted us to let us know she had everything arranged for our visit. She and her hubby had not moved yet, but would stay with friends so we could have use of their home. Shew, what a friend, huh? Fortunately, we also have other friends in Cape Town. Upon hearing her arrangements, my hubby’s childhood  friend’s parents insisted, rather, that we stay in their guest apartment – on the beach – with a view of Table Mountain. In short – the hospitality of our friends in Cape Town brought me to tears on multiple occasions and is due much credit for my rekindled obsession with moving there:) I thought about it the whole visit and took note of all the little touches of hospitality I found in our quarters. I want to be more mindful of the hospitality I extend to guests. I want to do as much as I can to make them feel as at home as I was in the Cape. Baie dankie, Rheeders en Nagtegaals!
  • Worship: What better place to worship than on the beach; wind and waves in your ears and salt in your breath? Our first morning in CT, I practiced my yoga with my toes in the sand and Table Mountain in my view. As I grounded, I gave thanks for all God created. I watched kiddo lead hubby across the crest of a dune (“c’mon, Papa!”) thank you. I watched dogs and people run thank you. I let the waves and the wind shift me, move me, change my direction thank you. God is so good!
  • Consciousness (kind of): After listening to some of my increasingly out there views on wellness and spirituality, a friend asked me if I would be interested in checking out an alternative healing therapy. I was:) I’m not going to try and explain the theory or the session but I do want to tell you what it did for me. The session afforded me the opportunity to settle my mind, calm my body and skim my sub-conscious for issues that were bothering me. I was reminded again how powerful a tool visualization is for me and I learned practices I can do to focus my thoughts and energies where they ought to be focused. I am so thankful God has led me to a place in my life where I am open to new ideas and interpretations…each time I explore my relationship with God in a new way another path is forged. I find each emotional or rational path I take these days leads me to a seat, in a garden, where he waits to be with me.
  • Moderation: Though natural to many, moderation has never come easily to me. I exercised moderation in my indulgence of alcohol this trip and am so thankful to hold all my memories – in full – of precious time and conversation with loved ones. This particular crop is my asparagus – it took a few years to cultivate. Hot damn and hallelujah!  😉

Do you understand why the word “harvest” comes to mind? Such fruits! I feel so blessed, so loved, so full. And I must be. Because I never know when next I’ll return to that particular, familiar table…I only know that I will.

When was your last harvest? Where were you and who were you with? Do you carry pieces of that harvest around with you, chipmunk style?

An oozing, gushing mess of Spirit

The first thing I did this morning was plunge into cold water and stretch and move my body fully with the rhythm of it; dogs gliding along at my side and a crane perched on the roof of a dock in the cove. I felt God everywhere. I swam early: 6:20 on a Sunday morning. I swam before hubby or kiddo were awake; before anyone could ask anything of me. I swam with enough time to shower and go to the early service, even! After I had my swim I lay a towel on the dock and practiced yoga, moving my body on it’s various axles and then pushing my energies in one direction…another…grounding. Directing focus and praise physically, mentally and emotionally as the birds sang their good morning’s and the lake breathed thick veils with the air above it. I thought of all the blessings that’ve touched me lately and I thought of the promise of those yet to come.

And then I went to church. On Pentecostal Sunday. Can’t say I knew much about this one going into it. In fact, just last week Sonskyn mentioned my ma-in-law was at church on a weeknight and asked me what season we were in. My response after looking it up was “huh, Pentecost…nope, can’t think of anything special that time of year!” Huh, is right! I’ve since had a realization that I have somehow missed entirely the liturgical calendar event most closely matched with my personality!

But let me back up. I sat in the pews at my parent’s church (and nearest I’ve to one for my family at the moment) this morning and listened to a young mother called to the Episcopalian pulpit early who now loves that congregation with a joyous and genuine heart. She preached to us of the Holy Spirit and shared an interpretation of the Trinity she’d enjoyed and embraced. I want to share it with you now because it is just so lovely.

See most folks aren’t up for talking about the Trinity. God is good – we get him. He’s Big Papa, up there hugging or coaching or teaching. Sometimes he disciplines us; thwarts our plans. Jesus is the peer. He’s liked by gals because of his sensitive heart but still loved by many a guy because of his manly-likeability. You know you can see his hippy ass coppin’ a squat on the grass, whittle-wood in hand, ready to talk shop on life and carve something cool. The Holy Spirit or Ghost or whatever you want to call it, though…that one’s a little harder to personify…

So the idea Mary shared with us this morning was the Holy Spirit as the embodiment of the love between Father and Son. This “oozing, gushing” extra loveliness that spills out from them and into our world, our hearts, our lives…this is the Spirit. This is what I pressed my energy toward this morning as I stood with my feet planted firmly on a dock in an empty cove…What a beautiful conceptualization of the Holy Spirit, huh?

I leave this home in a couple of days to fly to our other one. South Africa, our “other” home, currently involves living in others’ houses and adjusting our child and selves to a culture that, though familiar, is different from the one we share now. We will disrupt the lives of friends and family there and impose ourselves on them for rides, beds, company and laughter. My family will spend two and a half weeks living a life so different from the one we live here…ahh, vacation:). I feel this opportunity, this privilege, so acutely today. I’ve spent the last two days preparing mentally and emotionally for the journey we’re about to embark on with a now very chatty child and I find myself strengthened for the path by an idea that resounds so firmly in my own head and heart: I can tune in to that Spirit anywhere I need to do so.

Should travel plans derail, I’ll thank God for the laughter the story will bring later…or the conversation enjoyed while we ride the bus (Pitlochry to London ’02 reference, Sonskyn and Thea…;)) Should family not always see eye to eye on those booze-laden evenings, I’ll thank God we want to share ideas and views with one another we feel passionately enough about to yell. Should absent friends leave us feeling sad and neglected, I’ll thank God for those who go to any length to remind us we’re home.

Get ready, South Africa…I’ve got a suitcase full of oozing, gushing Spirit with your name on it! I’m planning on documenting the heck out of this trip, too. I want to capture footage on SA food culture to piece together into a series for www.vikingtogo.com at the least or PBS at the best;) I’ve even downloaded an application for my phone that will allow me to stream video live to qik.com/potluckmama. I’m going to throw some footage up there while I’m away so feel free to visit and see what we’re getting up to. I may or may not post while away, dear readers. Rest assured, though, that I will be pushing my energies in one direction – then another – grounding all the while. I’ll direct my focus and praise physically, mentally and emotionally on the Spirit wherever I can find it – giving thanks.

I hope you catch the pentecostal spirit, too, friends…it’s a happy place to be:)

You may want to check out 1000 Awesome Things while I’m gone…that should get you started down the right path! 🙂

’til next time!

A Sense of Place

I’ve felt at home many places in my life. My childhood room, summer camp, dorm rooms, staff quarters, apartments and homes.  I’ve always enjoyed new starts in fresh places and the challenges were met in great part because I was able to identify a safe place, a home base, where I could recharge, reflect and renew. These bases allowed me to venture out into new territories while still carrying a sense of place in my heart. Even in my most awkward stages of life, I have been able to identify a place to cry, pray or sit with my thoughts. The roof of my parents’ house, the cab of my first car, a state park in Nashville, the Loch trails of Scotland, a porch in South Africa. Each spirited me forth anew with balanced confidence, no matter the blows I took before or after.

I thought about this, what I’ll call a “sense of place”, when I went down to my family’s farm for my birthday the other weekend. I love that place. I always have. Such a delightful mix of dirt and sunshine and old and new. I came there as a child to run and explore and play and I go there as an adult to…well, run and explore and play. No matter that I have no legal rights to the land. I have claimed it with my heart and in the event it is transferred or sold I have still felt that sense of place with my feet in that dirt and it can be recalled through a memory, a photo or a story.

I think perhaps the ease with which I recall this sense of place is the product of practice. My mother and father made me equally welcome in both their homes, in both their lives. They also thrust me out alone into the world early in my childhood, my first stint away from home being two weeks at a girl’s camp in North Carolina when I was six years old. I learned to make Cabin 1 on Hillbrook Hill a home and from there the sky was the limit.

How important it becomes when you’ve been thrust out into the world to be able to identify and claim a “home” of your own; to carry and exert a sense of place no matter the territory. This translates easily to confidence and ease, both graces that attract others to your little circle of life. I know in my own life it’s been when I have had the least sense of place that I have had the fewest comforting companions; that I’ve felt most alone. It’s then I’ve had to be carried through by my faith that I will feel those feelings once again, that I’ve had to reflect on those places, or even that I’ve had to run to those places to remember the certainty they bolster; to recharge my sense of place.

How awful it must be if you’ve not felt these feelings. I can hardly begin to understand the struggle to find balance when you’ve never felt a sense of place. I’m sure there are those people out there. Unsettled, still searching people who never seem to relax completely. Looking for a place where they can let down their guard and recharge; prepare to go out into the unknown with perceptible balance and grace. Entire foundations have been built to provide this sense of place to people who have none. People have dedicated their lives to helping others achieve it. It is a powerful need, indeed.

Find a place for yourself. Go there and recharge. Prepare for the next day of your life and prepare to live it with balance and grace. Trust me when I say it will be easier each time you consciously do so. And, when the opportunity presents itself, please do what you can to welcome others and give them that same sense of place to carry with them. It’s a gift like no other.

This post is dedicated to the people of Rainbow Village; may your blessings be bountiful and your sense of place strong.

A Pot Luck

I like pot lucks for several reasons. They lift the burden off host(s), ensure everyone who comes will have at least one thing to eat they like, are an opportunity to show off and never leave me hungry. I like to see what people were proud to make and hear the stories behind the dishes.  I also like the pot lucks where everyone chips in on the work, offering their services and expertise;) They are generally gatherings of like minds…I just dig ’em, ok?
(duh)

So this post is going to be a pot luck of sorts. I’ve been working hard this week and have ideas and plans and well, it was my birthday for Pete’s sake! So I’m just going to throw out a few of the things that have been floating around my mind and see what you do with them. Oh, and I also wrote a post on the VikingToGo site we just launched. The Community is still a little buggy (email notifications are not going through at time of publishing) but I enjoyed writing the first blog post and I hope you will enjoy reading it. You can check it out here:

A Foodie Knows No Borders

Have I mentioned what my go-to pot luck dish is, by the way? Baked brie. Easy enough to keep puff pastry in the freezer and just buy a wheel of brie when you have an event. Wrap it in the thawed pastry, topping the cheese first with a dollop of jam. Brush with egg (less waste with Egg Beaters) and top with some nuts. I usually have shaved almonds on hand. I also like to drizzle some honey over it about halfway through the baking process. Anyway, cook it at about 350 F and/or according to the pastry directions (I’d say about 40 min.). Let it cool at least 10 minutes before cutting it…otherwise it gets crazy runny. Serve with crackers and Bob’s your uncle!

So here’s my baked brie for this week’s pot luck:

  • My family’s visit to the family farm last weekend fell on a weekend when work needed to be done for my cousin’s new blueberry endeavors. How wonderful to spend that time growing food with my family in the south Georgia sun. That and the slip and slide was also very cool:). Anyway all this had me thinking about what it means to have a Sense of Place. I think that will be my next set of musings
  • I made my first batch of laundry detergent and it’s brought my cost per load to about a cent. It took me 35 min of work and I’m sure I can do it in less time next time. I have detergent coming out of my yen yang, too! Oh and more importantly, it works – well – in my high efficiency machine. Well done, Suite101.com:

Making your own Laundry Detergent

  • I have all the ingredients I need to make my first batch of sunscreen. Keep your fingers crossed/thumbs held for me, please! I’ll let you know how it goes!
  • Have you planted everything you planned to plant this year? I still have some things that need to get in the ground…I’m getting behind…

Hope everyone has a great week! 🙂

Tending the Gardens

Spring is sprung on my side of the world. My perennials are popping back up (as are weeds) and I’m sorting through my seeds figuring out what vegetables to plant in my square foot garden. Long days are upon us and I know I will soon neglect the house and the laundry in favor of the yard and gardens. This will go on a couple of months before the heavy heat of Georgia Summer chases me back in to the air conditioning where my boobs don’t sweat. Then the yard will be on it’s own until the temperatures moderate and I’m ready to venture out once again.

The yard won’t wow anyone these next couple of months. Though I will toil, my greatest rewards will be limited: the rediscovery of plants I’ve already cultured as I pull back weeds, the potting of purchased (not nursed) plants in my patio containers. I’ll kick myself for not planting more bulbs last fall and applying pre-emergent weed treatments to the lawn. I know because it went down like this last year and I made few changes to my routine to alter the outcome.

It’s hard to believe it was Easter on Sunday. This year is flying by. It seems just yesterday I was beginning my spiritual preparation for Lent, thinking about my relationships and my self…trying to identify ways I can improve both. Now here I am, a chorus of “he is risen, indeed” echoing in my head and still I find myself wondering what I’ve actually accomplished. Fortunately, my spiritual growth is not regulated by the same seasons as my gardens. I do not have to wait for next Lent to plant my bulbs. I may find the heat of introspection chases me back to my comfort zone from time to time, but those seasons are my own and I have more control over them than those that guide my physical planting.

Knowing this, I have made some conscious decisions about my yard and gardens – both physical and spiritual.

1) I will not neglect the yard just because I value the fruits of my gardens more. If I make the effort with the yard (weeding, edging) I will have to mow less frequently. I will not have to deal with the shame an unkempt yard evokes. This behavior is neighborly. My body is my yard and my soul is my garden. Though I value the fruits of the soul, I will do the hard work necessary to get my body in good shape so that I may be free of the shame an unfit one elicits. Once the hard work is done, I’ll be able to work less frequently. I’ll take pride in my healthy body and my next door neighbor (hubby) is bound to appreciate it;)

2) I will wait for the rain before I weed. There is no sense busting ass digging at roots in solid ground. That behavior only leaves me frustrated and unsatisfied. Similarly, I will not force spiritual growth on myself when my soul is not ready. Much like rain, circumstances for growth are beyond my control. There’s no sense kicking myself for not scaling some grand spiritual staircase this Lent. I’m better off working on something else until that slow, steady rain comes in it’s own time.

3) I will prioritize and make the time. No one becomes a master gardener overnight (nor a master of anything else, for that matter). I will sometimes set aside laundry or other housekeeping responsibilities to work in the yard when weather permits. For my soul? I will tear myself away from a work project to go to the Wednesday noon church service or miss a self-imposed writing deadline to play with my son. Also, as my gardens are shared with my husband’s, I will make time to tend them together – even if that means doing the “tasks” he wants to do rather than those I’d like to do.

4) I will make every effort to learn. I will identify my trusted sources, open my mind to positive influences and make every effort to soak up ideas.Through this I will achieve growth.

5) I will not be afraid to try new ideas, even if they are foreign to me. Nor will I be afraid to cast aside those that do not suit my soil, plants or climate.

6) I will share. Just as many plants can be split and rooted to grace a new space, so can positivity be shared and fostered to grace another soul.

7) I will compost. I will not cast aside scraps of food or life lessons. Instead, I will allow them to ruminate and culture, applying them when the time comes, that I may grow beautiful vegetables and the fruits of the spirit.

So there you have it – my gardening plans. I hope the exercise of writing them down helps me stick with them:) I find sometimes the best gardens are those that require little effort (thank you, zinnias!) but even when the grandest of my planting plans are left unrealized I can at least see the outlines of them to guide me the next year. Here’s to a happy season (whichever yours may be) and a yard and garden to be proud of! What about you? Have you ordered your seeds yet? Which plants will you share with friends?