Ida Ravioli (1)

Age should not have its face lifted, but it should rather teach the world to admire wrinkles as the etchings of experience and the firm line of character. — Ralph B. Perry

Sometimes the most beautiful pieces of furniture are the ones that show their age.  Call them antiques, call them vintage.  You can see many different layers of paint, the different colors begin to show through and there are bare spots where people have rubbed against them over and over and over.  This is called patina.  Patina can happen naturally over time or can be artificially imposed on a piece.  Either way it’s beautiful but mostly in the eye of the beholder who appreciates it.

I am lucky enough to do my work at what was once my grandmother’s kitchen table.  It now resides in my office and I love every inch of it.  It hasn’t been painted in years and the rubbings and chips are what give it patina.  When I pull out the hidden cutting board I can get an idea of what her kitchen must have looked like by the remnants of color.

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Humans too have patina.  Theirs are the wrinkles, the thinning hair and silver highlights.  These are the layers of human patina.  There isn’t a person in the world that sets out to artificially impose this patina on themselves, rather they seem to do anything they can to prevent this natural appearance.  This is legacy’s roadmap etched by laughter and tears, prosperity and hardship and well…life. Your story will show up as your own personal patina.  I hope you will learn to embrace it and find it beautiful.

The Velveteen Rabbit said it best:  Still Beautiful – “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes don’t see as well and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. “But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand”

Ida Ravioli (111)

Today I had the privilege of spending the day with my dear friend’s family making ravioli and getting a glimpse into their lives.  They welcomed me into their home with my camera and my curiosity and I am enormously grateful.  I hope to post their story shortly but for now, know that the board for making the ravioli has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of them and the ravioli maker is one of the loveliest women I’ve ever met.  Both are beautiful evidenced that patina of the most genuine nature is stunning and will leave its story on your heart.  It’s Real.




Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…or NOT.  Leave it to me to second guess the golden rule, sorry Luke.  But what if what you would want doesn’t even come close to what another would want?  How golden is a rule that puts everyone in that awkward position?  How can a person really “be that person” (legacy lesson number one) without going down the road to hell, you know the one paved with good intentions.

Shakespeare wrote that expectations are the root of all heartache, if that’s so why not live outside of expectations?  I ran up against a few situations this week and last that expectations seemed to get the better of me and it gave me pause.

I linked a blog post of mine on Anne Lamott’s Facebook page in genuine camaraderie with a phrase she turned in one of her posts.  She mentioned she was “taking the sacrament of putter”.  Brilliant!  My “Art of Puttering” was in keeping with her sentiment.  My post received over a thousand hits to my blog…let me say that again, my post received over a thousand hits.  It was a holy shit moment bigger than anything I had yet to see.  I was grateful, I was elated, and I was happy, beyond joyful.  You can imagine.

So what did I do?  I considered, no I actually tried the same thing on other blogs expecting to see another fabulous boost to my blog stats.  See how that word snuck in there?  I didn’t post with a good intention, I didn’t for one minute check my motivation.  Payoff, zero.  Ok maybe not zero but it was kinda that road to hell thing.

Last week when I was researching my meditation piece I ran up against this:

May all this remain undefiled

By the stains of the eight mundane concerns;

And may I, recognizing all things as illusion,

Devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.

This is the teaching of the Dalai Lama.  The eight mundane concerns are attitudes that tend to dominate our lives generally. They are: becoming elated when someone praises you, becoming depressed when someone insults or belittles you, feeling happy when you experience success, being depressed when you experience failure, being joyful when you acquire wealth, feeling dispirited when you become poor, being pleased when you have fame, and feeling depressed when you lack recognition.

In no way am I “that person” that can remain undefiled by the stains of the eight mundane concerns. I could meditate until the cows come home and never begin to get close to releasing at least three of those mundane concerns from my grasp.  However, it seems it all comes down to checking your motivation.  227

My Lina lost her fight with cancer this week, or I should say I helped her end her fight with cancer this week.  This was a case of do unto others as you would have them do unto you, kinda.  The decision to have the emergency surgery was mine back in December, the decision to begin chemo was mine.  My motivation was to give her as much time with us as we could without any sacrifice of quality of life.  The expectation was that she could beat the average life expectancy of this very invasive cancer.  My expectation, not hers, which would give us all time to learn to live in the moment and prepare Toto (and me) for life without her.  It’s what I would want for myself but I went right down that damn road…again.  We had a month and a week of quality, joyous live in the tail wagging happy dance moments until she decided her work was done.  I let go the expectations and let her go with no regrets.  I learned that to do unto others as you would have them do unto you means actually listening to them and acting on what it is they want.  That the harder thing to do is sometimes the right thing to do. To try and stay off that damn road lined with good intention by adapting the golden rule without expectation and living the lessons Lina taught.


And so I’ve also decided that people will find my little blog if I genuinely do my work, believe in my message and live my life the way I want my story told.  When I honestly believe that sharing what I have to say on someone else’s like-minded post is appropriate and purely motivated I will do so.  When I’m tempted to work the social media game I won’t.   I believe that what I have to say is important and I will find a proper way to say it without expectation of increased site stats and Facebook likes.    If nothing else I will learn to check my motivation.



Me Meditate?

NJ Botanical Gardens (28)

Ordinary Legacy Mantra: Thank you for this day and everything in it.

They tell me that meditation can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, and that you can focus your attention, produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.  Do you know me?  During meditation your attention is focused and your ricochet rabbit thoughts can be eliminated…really?  You can achieve calm, peace and balance that are beneficial to both your emotional and overall health.  And even when your meditation session ends your benefits just keep on keepin on.

The Mayo Clinic gives the following emotional benefits from meditation:  Gaining new perspective, stress management, increased self-awareness, reducing negative emotions and focusing on the present.  Ok, I’m listening, I could use a little of this and a little of that.

They go on to inform us that certain medical conditions that can be worsened by stress might find meditation useful.  Of course the jury is still out as their disclaimer clearly states (meditation isn’t a replacement for traditional medical treatment) but perhaps anxiety disorders, asthma, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain and sleep problems could be eased by integrating meditation into one’s life.   I happen to have a few of those…

The numerous ways to meditate range from guided to mantra to mindfulness to transcendental meditation and can include some physical practices like Qi Gong, Tai chi, and Yoga.  There are any number of Gurus, both on line and in the community, willing to impart their wisdom…seriously?  It’s a business?  Honey everything is a business…

Several years ago I took up the practice of daily affirmations and this seemed to me the next logical step.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

With all the talk of deep breathing and letting all those invasive thoughts float by like clouds I thought my head would blow off and I would hyperventilate.  First of all it is nearly impossible to stop your thoughts, if they stop you stop.  And deep breathing when forced becomes the hardest thing ever and really loud in your head.

Repeat a mantra…seriously the mantras that are most often associated with meditation are in a completely different language.  I don’t know, nor do I wish to know Sanskrit, or whatever.

Make sure you’re not disturbed.  Use a candle at the beginning if it is too uncomfortable to keep your eyes closed. Meditate first thing in the morning before anything else when your mind is at its most quiet.  I have dogs, the first thing that happens in my house is a dash for the door with all the accoutrements of the morning walk to relieve…it all.  Not disturbed…with dogs?  One eye is always opening to see what those two are up to especially now that Lina is in treatment.  Where exactly does one put a candle with two dogs roaming around you as you’re cross legged on the floor, which in itself is a bit of a thing, to say nothing of the smooches on the face because you are after all at eye level. And you know they’re watching you even if they’re not right in your face…


Notice small adjustments and do NOT stress.  Meditation is what it is, they say, and  just do the best you can at the time. Ok, it may be what it is to you but my epiphany came when I realized the single only thing in your life that is always in the moment is your body.  So I put my body where it’s comfortable, in my chair.  They say it’s ok to sit in a chair but your feet should be on the floor, eh not so much. I do a body scan, which they actually recommend, to see how everything feels and make small adjustments so nothing is falling asleep or twitching or numb.  Just so you know, your nose will itch as soon as you close your eyes.

I tune in to Pandora calm meditation channel, set a meditation timer (there’s an app for that) pick up my coffee, and shut my eyes.  I know, the coffee isn’t really a step in any guru’s teachings but I love the feel of the warmth through the cup and when my mind wanders I can either bring it back to my body (which is always in the moment remember) or take a sip and feel that velvety hot liquid going down my throat and warming me all over.  I am now practiced at the art of finding my lips with my eyes closed and not spilling a drop.  I catch on quick…just sayin.


If one of the dogs puts a paw up on the chair, they now recognize that the slight opening of one eye means get the hell off and somehow they do…energy is indeed powerful.

The moral of this story is that it seems to be working.  Not in any formal sense that the meditating community would recognize but I find myself coming back to my body and closing my eyes during the day too.  I find my mind is a bit slower, when I ask it to be, and that my shoulders have somehow found their way down my neck.  When I’m in a stressful situation I tend to breathe differently.  My breathing regulates and I don’t need to think about it anymore.

Liz Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame talks in these terms about meditation, “It’s not necessarily discipline. Discipline can become a prison. When your spiritual practices become another thing for you to be anxious about, they’ve lost their usefulness. I try to be limber with it and soft with it”.  Amen Sister.  I too am being soft with it but I think I might actually be doing this meditation thing, kinda.



If Wishes Were Horses Beggars Would Ride

Old City Philly 2014 (37)

In the week of resolutions and calls to action and life changing scenarios this Scottish proverb, originating in the 16th century, suggests that it is useless to wish and that better results will be achieved through action.  So how are your resolutions going…?  Since this has also been a week of lists let’s look at the top resolutions of those living life and the top regrets for those who are close to the end:

The top ten wishes for this year:              Top ten regrets of the dying:

1 Lose Weight                                          1 never pursued my dreams and aspirations

2 Getting Organized                                 2 worked too much/neglected my family

3 Spend Less, Save More                       3 should have made more time for my friends

4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest                         4 should have said I love you more.

5 Getting Fit and Healthy                          5 should have spoken my mind

6 Learn Something Exciting                     6 should have resolved my problems.

7 Quit Smoking                                        7 wish I had children

8 Help Others in Their Dreams                8 should have saved more money.

9 Fall in Love                                           9 not having the courage to live truthfully

10 Spend More Time with Family          10 I didn’t choose happiness

Interesting no?  I hate to be the one to remind you that at some point your legacy will take up where your life left off but the truth is, well the truth.  If you only made one resolution this year why not just resolve to live your life the way you want your story told.  Why not?

I’m not a big fan of anything that contains the words coulda, shoulda, or woulda so the regret list is certainly grating my spine…  Get rid of those words while there’s still time to change the road you’re on.  Don’t know if you’ll wind up with your stairway to heaven (jury’s still out on that) but you will relieve yourself of an awful lot of angst.

Is there a correlation between lists?  Certainly losing weight, getting fit and quitting smoking may keep you from getting to the thoughts on the right too early but check your motivation too.  If this is about health then you’re on track to solving what may be a huge life problem.  If it’s about trying to live up to the ridiculous standards that only makes money for the diet/beauty business stop it right now. Remember who you are, practice some self-kindness and choose to be happy where you are now.  I think you’ll see that most of the time that is just the impetus for the rest to follow.

Getting organized and spending less more often than not comes down to “stuff” .  Does your stuff define you?  Are you in constant pursuit of stuff?  Do you need to work harder and longer and spend less time with your family and friends because of stuff?  Then you may be able to kill several birds with one stone.  If you want a practical way to rejoin your life you may want to check out Becoming Minimalist.  Joshua Becker has plenty of first-hand information to help and no you don’t have to give up everything to be a minimalist, you can define your own parameters based on which of the things in the two lists above might be most important to you…just sayin.

I’m pretty sure that enjoying life to the fullest, learning something exciting or even just something new to you, and spending more time with your family will produce the kind of stories that will begin to make up a wonderful legacy.  I know like I know that helping anyone with their dreams, or their aspirations or redecorating their home or teaching them to cook or any service to anyone with good intention will rocket you into the legacy hall of fame.

I hope that you will embrace living your truth, if you don’t know your truth make that your life’s work. It will elevate the need for any forward or backward looking list and provide just the exhale you a really looking for.

If wishes were horses then beggars would ride,

If turnips were swords I’d have one by my side.

If ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ were pots and pans

There would be no need for tinker’s hands!

The one exception to the wishes dilemma is wishing good for someone else.  With that I wish you hope, peace, ordinary moments in time and plenty of food for thought toward an extraordinary legacy through an ordinary life well lived.