Saturday, July 24, 2010

Just Show Up

I remember standing on a street corner at age 13, waiting to cross with the light. From deep inside came a knowing that I came to do something important in this life, although I couldn't remember anything about what it was. This awareness came to me absent any ego or taint of self-importance. No sense of being better then, more than, bigger than anyone else. Just a straight forward something important. The light changed, I crossed the street, and the memory of that moment stayed with me in the back reaches of my mental file drawer.

Over the years since then I tried to do work that made a difference in people's lives. Not because of the memory, but because if I was going to work, then why waste my time and energy on something that earned me money but didn't contribute to the overall good of the world. I ended up worked in areas most people avoided; assisting people with HIV/AIDS, people transitioning at the end of their life in hospice, advocating for adults and children leaving abusive relationships. It felt worthwhile to work in ways that helped people. At that same time I always knew none of these endeavors were the work I came here to do. That part I still didn't understand.

Over the years I received guidance that it really didn't matter what profession I chose, it was up to me. That I came here to assist and there are many ways to assist. Many ways to assist, hmmm. Over time my understanding of the ways we assist has expanded greatly. At first I thought assisting meant helping to make things better for others in a very concrete way. Actually assisting covers a broad spectrum. Gradually, I've learned to understand this.

Many times in my life I've triggered other people's buttons without meaning to at all. It used to cause me great sadness because my intent was well-meaning, my feelings those of kindness. And here was another person all flipped out and either shunning or ranting at me. A few years ago I finally saw that it was one of the ways I assist. In these situations without intending to, I was raising another person's unresolved issues so that they could deal with them, if they so chose. While never conscious on my part, and usually not on theirs either, I was assisting them just the same.

One of the most profound ways we assist each other and the planet has rarely been recognized until recently. It is our presence. We've all, including me, been well conditioned and dulled from an awareness of the power of our energy. Such a crock. We make a big difference just by showing up. The simple, yet not so simple fact of our individual energy being present on the planet alters and raises the vibration. We assist by our presence in the community we live in, we assist by our presence in the room. Just by being here, I change everything. And so do you.

When It's Excessively Hot Outside, Treat Yourself Well

Where I live, it's been in the upper 90's almost every day since the first week in June. With not a drop of rain in the past month. I water my vegetable garden, the blueberry bushes and my fig tree. Everything else suffers in the drought.

Today is the second day in a row it's been 100 degrees, with humidity making it feel like 115. This is my answer: Gazpacho served with fresh baked Focaccia...


3 very large, ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 cucumbers, partially peeled and seeded
1 1/2 green peppers
1 sweet red pepper
1/2 small red onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
lots of fresh cracked pepper

Chop the vegetables into large chunks. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes. once they are well chopped, spoon about half out into a large bowl, then process the remainder until it's a smooth puree, add to the chopped tomatoes. Repeat with cucumbers, peppers, and onion, combining with the chopped/pureed vegetables when done. Add the crushed garlic, chopped cilantro, vinegars, oil, salt and pepper, stirring until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until chilled. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving. Gazpacho gets better as the flavors meld together.


1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 1/3 cups very warm water
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
3 cups white whole wheat flour or bread flour, divided
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 -2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

Sprinkle the yeast and teaspoon of sugar over the warm water in a two cup measuring cup. Let sit for five minutes. It will get foamy. Pour the yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir in 2 cups of white flour and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour to an hour and a half.

Stir in the salt, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, then stir in enough white flour to make a firm dough. Knead the dough on a floured board for five minutes. Form into a ball. Place the dough in a clean bowl, coat the dough with olive oil, cover with the damp cloth. Let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Punch down the dough, knead briefly. Cut the dough in half. You can either make two 9" x 9" Focaccias, or freeze half the dough for later.

Roll or pat the dough into a 9" square. Place the dough into a 9" x 9" pan oiled with olive oil. Coat the top of the dough with more olive oil, cover with the damp cloth and allow to rise. After about 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

When doubled, make indentations all over the dough with your finger tips. Sprinkle the top with the coarse sea salt and the chopped rosemary. bake for 15 minutes. cut into squares or rectangles. Serve with olive oil mixed with salt and fresh cracked pepper and/or grated Parmesan cheese for dipping.

Note: this dough makes wonderful pizza crust too, provided you have a baking stone.


Preheat oven and a baking stone to 500 degrees.

Roll roll half the dough into a rough circle. Sprinkle a little corn meal under dough on the bread board. Then top with a thin layer of your favorite tomato sauce, a layer of fresh spinach leaves or scattered dabs of pesto, grated mozzarella cheese, and sliced peppers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, crumbled feta. Carefully slide the pizza onto the hot baking stone. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until bubbling and slightly browned.

Accepting the Unknown

I had a reading done a couple of weeks ago. This passage from the reading speaks to all of us:

"Part of the biggest step is for those who have chosen to expand to be able to walk without needing to know, and this is not to be confused with true knowing which comes from trust and faith in a perfect universal order. To know that there are no certain answers, that the unknown is the basis of all creativity, and that all need to accept the unknown in order to discover and develop to their full potential."

Accept the unknown; Basis of all creativity; In order to discover and develop our true potential.

During the late 1980's, I worked at a small grass-roots organization in Washington, DC doing case management and counseling with people living with HIV/AIDS. It was early in the epidemic, AZT was the primary antiviral drug, the average life expectancy was 6 months, a number of long-term survivors made it two years or more, despite the toxicity of AZT. Four months after I started working there, all three of my coworkers had died of complications from the disease. The Chairman of the organization's board of directors begged me please not to leave, they were searching for replacements.

But I had not considered leaving. You see, there is a major benefit that comes from working with people dealing with a terminal illness. We have only right now. None of us can count on what will be tomorrow. Clear up your relationships. Each day do what matters and makes a difference in the world. Do not wait for another day to express your feelings or to tell someone what they mean to you.

My clients role modeled this each day. Working there kept me in the now. Because we don't know. What will happen is always unknown and when I accept this, I am always rich in the moment and my days are filled with joy and appreciation for all that I am given.