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We’re All On a Mission, But What Is It?

20 Nov

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominic /

It seems that we are all on a mission in life, but many of us don’t really know what that mission really is.  That is not a critical statement, just an observation.  I know this because I sometimes find myself asking the question that we all ask at one time or another,  “What the heck am I doing here.”

If you are like me you have likely asked this question more than once while dancing through the fog of child rearing.  I have actually wondered what it would be like if parents made a mission statement much like businesses, organizations, and even bloggers do to help focus and measure their direction.

I thought I would look around on the blogosphere and see if their was anyone else thinking about this and I found a wonderful description of why a mission statement for this purpose can make sense.  This link will get you to the blog that the quote that follows is taken from.  (I haven’t discovered yet  how to create a clip that links back to the original blog.  If any of you techies out there feel like doing your random act of kindness for today you could drop me a note about how it is done.)

“Your mission statement is there to give your actions a certain intention–an intention that emerged from a state of awareness and consciousness.  We know that we often act out of conditioned and learned behaviors and patterns that aren’t necessarily aligned with what we’re really about.”

That sounds familiar.  You wake up one day and wonder which day it was that you turned into your mother. Your thoughts spinning with “What did I just do?  My mother used to do that to me and I hated it.”  But really, what else do you know to do?  As they say in the military, when you are in a crisis, you fall back on your training.  For some of us that may not be in line with the direction we want to take with our children.

Most mission statements contain a goal as well as statements the guiding principles you will follow to get there.  So it seems that identifying your goal is the first step.   So you might say your mission is to raise responsible, loving children (or whatever your goal is).  Then you might say, through establishing appropriate boundaries, engaging with my children throughout the day, and showing that I love them even when we disagree.

But here comes the hard part, how are we going to accomplish this?  Kids don’t come with manuals and parents don’t always come with full toolboxes.  The funny thing is that the act of writing this down often begins the process of opening the path to discovering tools that can be helpful to accomplish your goal.  Once you have written down the idea that you want to establish, for example, appropriate boundaries, it becomes easy to start out on a journey to find new ways to do this.  You can start right here on WordPress.  Two wonderful resources that I have found here are Help4YourFamily and Let Life In Practices .

What little jewel of a technique, practice, or attitude have you found (and where did you find them) that has made a difference for your children, or for that matter any of your relationships?  Do share because I still have plenty of room in my toolbox to fill.


You Just Never Know. Sometimes Good Luck Shows Up Disguised as Bad Luck

9 Sep

Good luck disguised as bad luck?

The other day I found myself in a discussion about bad luck. A friend was talking about how sometimes it feels like things go against us and that we have a string of bad luck that makes things look less than hopeful.   I asked my friend if they had ever considered that sometimes good luck comes to us disguised as bad luck.  Sometimes, if we are patient, we will see that we were actually being saved from a far greater trial.

It made me think of a story I heard once, told to me as a Taoist tale.  I went to the internet to see if I could find it in order to share it here.  I found many different versions of the story and actually like this very American version.

As the story goes, there was once a farmer and his only son in the days just  before the Civil War. Having only one horse, the farmer and son worked long hard  days, sun up to sun down, just to get by, with nothing left to spare.

One day as the father and son plowed the fields, their horse got spooked and  ran off. The son was devastated; “What bad luck, now what will we do?”

The father replied; “Good luck, bad luck, too soon to tell.”

The father and son continued to work the farm. Then one day their horse comes  running back over the hill with 6 other horses. The son exclaimed, “What great  luck, now we have all the horses we’ll ever need!”

To which the farmer replied; “Good luck, bad luck, too soon to tell.”

The next day as the farmer and son were working with the horses, one  particularly difficult horse threw the son off his back and  broke his leg. The  son cried: “Oh father, I am so sorry, now you have to work the farm all by  yourself. What bad luck!”

Once again the father replied: “Good luck, bad luck, too soon to tell.”

Several days later the Civil War broke out and all the able-bodied young men  were sent off to war. The farmer’s son, having a broken leg, was forced to stay  at home.

After the leg had healed, the father had the only farm around with a son to  help and seven horses to boot. They worked the farm and prospered.

Good luck, bad luck. It’s too soon to tell.


Good luck,  bad luck. It’s all in how you look at it.

Getting closer.

Good luck, bad luck. Depends on which one you choose and what you make of  it.

Bingo. Absolutely. Now you got it!

Article Source:,-Too-Soon-to-Tell&id=66578

Photo credit:

Many times we are so busy focusing on what we have lost that we are unable to receive what it has allowed us to gain.

There is a nice short discussion you might enjoy that follows the story, just click the first link above to check it out.

Do you have a story about something that appeared to be bad luck that actually turned out to be a wonderful gift?

Cheesecake, Gluten-Free, Woo-Hoo!

7 Aug

Gluten-Free Cheesecake


About a year ago I discovered that I have a sensitivity to gluten.  That day my world changed.  At first it seemed that it had changed for the worse.  I could not imagine not enjoying a crusty piece of french bread, buttery pasta, or even a simple peanut butter and honey sandwich.  These were among the things I counted as real pleasures in my life.

As I waded into this new gluten-free world I began to discover that gluten is hidden in the most unlikely places.  Just about any processed food can contain gluten and it is not as simple as finding what type of food is likely to contain gluten, you must also check each brand.  I found this out one night after we had just finished eating.  My husband had done the grocery shopping and fixed dinner, I really am lucky in that way.  Then came the headache and soon after the other discomforts that I have now learned to recognize as my body’s reaction to gluten.

I couldn’t figure it out.  We had eaten nothing that had caused a reaction before.  Later that night, I was taking out the trash and noticed that the empty can of green enchilada sauce used in our chicken dish was a different brand than what I usually buy.  I pulled it out to take a look at the list of ingredients and there it was, gluten.  Oops.

However, I must say that this story demonstrates just how much my world has actually improved even without my favorite breads, pastas, and my this and thats.  I feel so much better now, most days I don’t miss them, at least not too much.

Having said that, you can just imagine that having a baked dessert can present a challenge.  So a year later, I am so thrilled to discover a recipe for cheesecake that has a gluten-free crust and does not use flour as a thickener in the filling.  I share it here for all of you who have gluten-sensitivity or children who benefit from eliminating gluten from their diets.  This is so good that everyone in the family can enjoy it, even those who do not need to restrict gluten.
One word of caution.  When using oats, some people with gluten sensitivities can have a reaction if the oats are processed in a facility that also processes  wheat.  There are gluten-free oats (labeled) available or you may want to just use the almonds and some almond meal in place of the oats.

Just a heads up, there were two things that I did not have handy that you will need for this recipe, cheesecloth and the wider heavy weight sheet of foil wrap.

Also, flavor and texture is best if cheesecake is refrigerated overnight.


1 1/2 cup    Oats (gluten-free oats)

1/2 cup       Chopped almonds

1/3 cup       Brown sugar

1/3 cup       Butter – melted (5 1/2 Tbls)

Heat oven to 350°.

Grease 9″ spring form pan.

Combine all ingredients, mix well.  press firmly on bottom and 1 1/2 inches on the sides.  Bake 18 minutes.  Cool in refrigerator.

While crust is cooling make the filling.


20 ozs.    Whole milk ricotta cheese, drained (2 1/2 cup)

1 – 8 oz    Cream cheese (at room temperature)

1 cup       Sugar

1 Tbls     Cornstarch

4               Large eggs, at room temperature

Zest of 1 Lemon

1 1/2 tsp Pure vanilla extract

To drain ricotta cheese:

Place ricotta cheese in strainer lined with cheesecloth and suspend over a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To make filling:

In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth, add ricotta cheese and sugar, beat until smooth.  Beat in cornstarch, add eggs one at a time beating about 30 seconds after each egg is added. Beat in lemon zest and vanilla.
Pour filling into cooled crust.  Use large sheet of foil wrap to wrap the outside of the spring form pan to protect the cheesecake in the water bath.
Place spring form pan in large roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about half way up the side of the spring form pan.

Bake for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes or until the top of the cheesecake is nicely browned and the center of cake moves slightly when the pan is gently giggled.

Remove from water bath and cool on a wire rack.  After cooling about an hour remove from spring form pan.  Cool in refrigerator 6-8 hours or overnight.


A Story Of Two Monks

5 Aug

Photo credit

Recently I read a post through freshly pressed (I love freshly pressed) on 258 Days ’til 40: The Toll We Pay (For NOT Letting Go).   It is  about forgiveness and how it is really for the benefit of the one forgiving rather than the one forgiven.   She noted one of my favorite quotes “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (not really sure who first said this ),  and talks about releasing your anger and hurt and moving on to create a beautiful, peaceful future for yourself. It was thought provoking and reminded me of a story about two monks.

The story goes something like this.   Two monks are walking near a river and happen upon a woman who needs cross the river to get to her family. The woman can’t swim and is terrified that she will drown if she tries to cross the river. The first monk listens to the woman’s fears and says, then I will carry you across.  The second monk looks at the first monk sternly and reminds him that they are forbidden to touch women.  But  the  first monk decides that he is willing to go against the prohibition in order to help the women cross the river safely so that she can be with her family.   The first monk picks the woman up and carries her across the river to safety.  The other monk looked on disapprovingly.

The monks resumed their journey and as the day went on the second monk continued his disapproving comments toward the first monk regarding his carrying the woman across the river.  Finally, at  the end of the day the first monk turns to the second monk and says, you know I put the woman down hours ago at the river’s edge, but you are still carrying her.

I know that this is a hard-won lesson as many people  are taught that holding on to hurt and pain is a form of protection from or power over others.  They do not see it for the poison that it is and choose to continue to drink it.  This brings to mind another quote to think about if If you absolutely must feel that you are getting “revenge” for a wrong done to you.   “Living well is the best revenge”.  George Herbert

Do you have a way that helps you to forgive others and/or yourself?  I would love to hear about it.

5 Things I Learned From the “Turtleman”

2 Aug

Photo credit

It was one of those days that I sat down in front of the TV for no other reason than to allow my brain to rest, veg out a little while.  When I am in this space it does not really matter what is on and I sometimes do not even make the effort to flip through the channels.  What I watch is less important than the fact that I am not doing a task, planning a task or worrying about the next six tasks on my never-ending to do list.

That is how I happened across the Turtleman.  If you do not know who the Turtleman is, the simplest explanation is to say that he is a critter wrangler.
The surprising thing about it was at the end of the day I found I learned a thing or two from watching him and none of them had anything to do with capturing a racoon, possum or a turtle.  I thought I would share them with you today.

1.  If you can name it you can tame it.

He always gives a name to the rascal he is attempting to capture and relocated.  He would give each creature a name based on the situation and what he could detect of its personality based on the reported behaviors and clues that it had left behind. It reminds me of something I ran across once while studying different cultural practices.  There was a recounting of a practice in a particular Native American tribe that a particular wise elder did the naming of all the children.  This was based on the belief that in order to properly name something you must have a real understanding of it.

When you think about any process of  self-improvement you see that you must first acknowledge and name the problem before you can begin the work of solving it.

2. You can decide to be happy.

The Turtleman seems very happy yet he has very little in the way of material possessions.  His home has no running water and he doesn’t even have a full set of teeth, yet he is happy.  Happiness really is a state of mind, not a destination.

3.  One path to happiness is through service to others.

It appears that the Turtleman’s standard fee for capturing and relocating a critter is $65.  That includes a house call, a crew of one or more helpers and no charge by the hour.  Often it seems that he is not paid in money but  in handmade goods from the hands of appreciative children or other non-monetary compensation such as the honor of waving the starting flag at the local speedway.

Much of  his payment is from his joy from alleviating  the suffering of others, both people and animals.

4.  If you follow your bliss you will be successful.

Success is relative so everyone’s success will look different but success is living a life doing what you love.

5.  Celebrate your victories.

The Turtleman loves to dance.  It is very difficult not to feel joy if you let yourself dance with abandon.  It is the body’s way of expressing joy.  Give yourself the gift of dancing  like no one is watching.

Happy 4th of July!

3 Jul

Happy 4th of July!

Photo credit:

I wish everyone a happy 4th of July.  I hope that you all have the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and enjoy the freedoms that we have been given as citizens of the good old United States of America.

When I think of the 4th of July there are a few things that always come to mind.  Fireworks, food on the grill, watermelon, and ice cream.  Because I am now the proud new owner of an ice cream freezer it seems that nothing is safe from becoming a frozen treat but for this holiday I thought I would share about the all-American favorite, vanilla ice cream.  This post will have something for everyone to enjoy as it includes a fun kids hands-on (or impatient adults) 10 minute version of the treat as well as a great grown-up 2 day custard-based version for more discerning palates.

First the fun. No ice cream maker required!

This was found on  Check it out to read the comments as many questions you may have will be answered there.


  •                     1 cup half-and-half cream
  •                     1/4 cup sugar
  •                     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •                     4 cups coarsely crushed ice cubes
  •                     3/4 cup salt


In a small resealable plastic bag, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla.  Press out air and seal.  In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the ice and salt; add the sealed small bag.  Seal the large bag; place in another large resealable plastic bag and seal.  Shake and knead for 5-7 minutes or until cream mixture is thickened.  Serve immediately or freeze.

Note: many comments suggest that you rinse of the salt from the outside of the bag before opening and serving.

This is a perfect activity if you have a few kids at your holiday gathering.  It is something of a group activity, as everyone is making ice cream, but each can individualize their ice cream with a flavor addition like fruit, or chocolate chips, chopped candy or anything your imagination can create.

The ingredients listed are for the amount of one person so be sure to have enough on hand to make one for each kid.  3 kids = 3 times the ingredients list.

Now for the long version.

The basic recipe for this also came from  You can check it and all the comments out here but I will share my version with you below.


      •                     2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
      •                     1 cup sugar
      •                     1/4 teaspoon salt
      •                     2 1/2 cups whipping cream
      •                     2 cups half-and-half cream
      •                     1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract


In a heavy saucepan, combine the first five ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon and reaches at least 178 degrees F.  Heat slowly being careful not to scorch.  Remove from the heat; cool quickly by setting pan in ice and stirring the mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to freeze, pour custard and vanilla into the cylinder of an ice cream freezer. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

    Note: I have a 1 1/2 quart Cuisinart  ice cream freezer and although it looks like this amount will fit comfortably in the machine it does expand and will eventually overflow as it freezes.  Best to separate into two batches and freeze first one half, then the other to save yourself a mess.

Sorry, no pictures, but you can imagine the good parts and save yourself from the rest.

If you try either one of these please let me know how it went.

Happy 4th to all!

The Beautiful Day Song

1 Jul

Singing in the car ritual

Photo credit

“Family” rituals are very important and often come about in the most unplanned ways.   Our Beautiful Day song is a great example this.  It came to mind as I was writing the post Beautiful Blogger Award telling of the Navajo prayer about walking in beauty.  I filed that thought in the back of my mind but did nothing about it.

A few days ago, it came to mind again as I was reading a fabulous blog post at Help4YourFamily titled,  The Importance of Delight,  that talks about creating moments of joy (delight) with your children so that you both had something to draw on to help smooth life through the times of the mundane or times that are  less than ideal.  That post felt like a little light bulb going off for me and I suggest you check it out and see if it speaks to you also.  Still I did nothing.

Today, I read a blog post by Ken Lauher titled, Morning Sing-Along: Rituals To Make You Happy Right Now,  about a family whose ritual was a car sing-along on the way to school to Bohemian Rhapsody.  It has a fun video that really lets you feel how the energy you experience is lifted through singing.  It really is joyful to watch and you can do that by clicking on this link.  After you watch it I would ask you to take the time to scroll down to the comments because there is a wonderful exercise that is easy to do that will help you re-frame your thinking to allow you to be less reactive to negative behaviors (think kids specifically here) from others.   Please check these links out and let me know what you think.

Okay universe, I guess you win…today I am doing it.  I am sharing these great resources and I will add my story about the Beautiful Day Song.

I have the good fortune of having many children in my life and this story is about two who are dear to my heart.  When they were five years old, yes, they are twins, they decided that going to school was not what they wanted to do and the trip to school was a marathon of complaints, pouting and all round unpleasantness. Mornings were not a fun time at this stage of the game and to up the ante the trip to school took about 30 minutes on a good day.

One morning, as the protests from the back seat were escalating, I was wondering what I might do to shift the energy from unhappy to happy.  I found myself singing about the happy things that I  saw around me, making it up as I went.   It’s a beautiful day, it’s a beautiful day….the birds are singing and the butterflies are flying….It’s a beautiful day, It’s a beautiful day….. next verse….and so on.

The funny thing was that although my singing is not the best, it really is hard to feel unhappy when you are singing a happy song in an unrestrained way. The shift in my energy seemed to shift the feeling of the journey enough to get  the kids’ attention.  The mood lightened and the trip was more pleasant.

The next day as things escalated from the back seat, I broke out into the Beautiful Day Song and by the time I started in to the second verse I hear no, no, no, I want to sing it.  So from that point on they took turns singing their own verses of the song.  The trip to school had actually been fun.  Nice change.

The next day, it was raining.  We in Southern California do not respond well to rain so there was a bit of gloom floating around in the car that morning.   A short time  into the ride I decided to break out the Beautiful Day Song.  I hear from the back seat, what do you mean , it is not a beautiful day, it is raining!  I told them that yes, it was raining, but it could still be a beautiful day if we wanted to make it one.  They thought that was a good idea and took the idea further to use their imagination to sing about beautiful things that were not there at the present.  We got to school.  I enjoyed the ride home alone, with a happy song in my heart.

The next day, from the back seat I hear, let’s sing the Beautiful Day Song.  I started with the first verse and they took  it from there.  I guess you could think of this as the day the Beautiful Day Song became a ritual for us.

I no longer take the kids to school, but even today, once in a while, they will break out singing the beautiful day song and flash me a wink and a great smile.

What joyful rituals do you and your family practice?  Maybe you will be moved to share them, I would love to hear about them.