Theobroma - Food of the Gods

Tidbits of life from a simple Syrian-Californian girl.

10 May 2014

Adults are cute, too!

Children are cute.  Just about anything a kid does is adorable.  You find helicopter parents snapping endless photos with their iPhones, iPads, Androids, digital cameras, etc. etc. The other day, a family was walking by my friend's house and my friend noticed the little girl stop in her tracks and lean into the garden and caress the peach-fuzzy leaves of the borage.  Now that's adorable!  And not weird, why wouldn't you want to touch a leaf that looks like it is soft and fuzzy.  That's called curiosity and it's how we learn, as children.  As adults, I think it's fine, it's employing the senses. However, we often don't allow ourselves to indulge in the senses thanks to the illogical rules that society has created.  

The other day, my colleague was walking down the stairs, one step at a time on account of a knee injury.  I commented that it was like a little kid, whose legs aren't long enough or who doesn't yet have enough spatial awareness to swiftly traverse the steps, one after the other.  She said "yea, but it's cute when a kid does it." And I thought to myself, "you're cute, too!" 

27 April 2014

Apologizing

I posted to facebook the other day a quote that a friend had posted on his wall:


Apologizing doesn't always mean that you are wrong 
and the other person is right. 
It just means you value your relationship 
more than your ego. 

I really like this.  I think that we let our ego or pride thwart the deep and soul-enriching relationships that could be.  We may find ourselves not opening up to others or behaving badly out of pride or for no reason at all or for good reason, we were hurt and are in self-protection mode.  

This is probably done because people live their lives unaware and led by their ego.  If they were aware that their ego was shaping their decisions, and consequently their actions, and therefore the way they treat and are perceived by others AND if they could get over their pride, and make positive changes to their behavior, I believe that their lives would be more fulfilling and ultimately happy. 

I have been told that some people are "just that way."  What a cop out!  What are humans if not incapable of changing and shaping their behavior?  In life we are presented with this scene, for which their is no script, just cues that are our personality, character, and past experiences to help us make decisions.  

I urge you all (and I try this myself) to think about each decision before it's made.  To not jump to conclusions or let my pride get in the way.  To live life with honest, kind intentions and pray for the best.  If you know you were kind to others and true to yourself, your life will probably be more fulfilled and happy.  

12 March 2014

Vulnerability

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”


-C. S. Lewis

I think vulnerability is a tough issue for most people.  Nobody wants to be hurt or humiliated but being hurt is part of feeling and feeling is what being alive is all about.  It is unrealistic to go through life thinking you cannot get hurt.  Anything that causes you joy could also cause you pain, and not necessarily directly.  For example, you have a cat that you love, and then it dies.  Cats have shorter lives that humans.  It's a part of life and we must accept it.  That is a simplified example but it gets to the point.    I think maybe people get caught up in just feeling good, which isn't a bad thing, I think it's normal but maybe we are raised or socialize to avoid feeling sadness.

"God breaks the heart again and again until it stays open." 
-Haziat Inayat Khan

I'm simply writing this to remind us all that pain is a part of life and we should embrace it.  The fear of pain causes many people to close their hearts to others or to the world.  I guess the fear of pain is in a way a fear of being vulnerable.  Put yourself out there with good intentions and experience what the world has to offer you.   

xx

04 March 2014

Invest in people who love you

Time is money, they say.  However, I will argue that time is more valuable than money because it is limited to an unknown amount.  Mysterious.  But seriously, we don't know how much time we have on this earth and we ought to spend our time wisely.  Also, there are emotions involved in time.  This might sound complex or like a third dimension but it is simply that you can feel good or bad, happy or sad when and/or after spending time doing something.  

Spend your time with people who love you.  Genuinely love you.  People who wish the best for you and want to see you smile.  People who think of you constantly and want you to be happy.  People who understand you or try.  Love isn't smothering another person or spending 24/7 with them, it's realizing that people need space and it's loving and respecting another person enough to give them that space.  But being close enough or available for you.  People who truly love you don't guilt trip you into hanging out with them because your love is a mutual one, they understand that you have things going on in your life and they do, too.  They also understand that you will reach out to them when you are able because you enjoy spending time with them.   

It might sound selfish but it's not.  It's self-preservation.  And just like your time, your self is limited and must be nurtured.  

26 February 2014

Simple dinner

"It does not cost much...It leaves you filled with peace, and the house filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...probably there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation...that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread."

-M.F.K. Fisher

We are getting some much needed rain and what better thing to do than crank the oven up to 450˚ and bake a loaf of hearty, walnut and thyme-filled bread.  

On my way home from work, I ran into a friend who yelled across the grocery store "Hey Sally - what's for dinner tonight?" She commented that I haven't posted in a while, which is true, I told her the same thing I had told my brother who had demanded pictures of Monday night's dinner, "I'm living in the moment," I responded.  It's cliche, right? It was the best thing I could come up with but I did decide to post tonight in honor of both of them and in honor of my dinner which was fresh baked bread, Bulgarian sheep's cheese, olive oil, crushed garlic, and Chilean wine.  Bon app├ętit to me and to you, too! 

before: preparing my loaf of bread: thyme and walnuts 
after: but before I smothered the bread in olive oil and garlic

And now some food for thought:

"A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul." 

Think of the times you have been humiliated or life has shown you that you are incapable of something you so thought knew you capable of doing (I can run this marathon without training, I will face my boss who treats me poorly, etc.).  You try and fail.  It hurts your pride.  But if you take just a moment to reflect on it, it's not that you're incapable or a bad person it simply is what it is and your soul grows from that.  We measure success and growth on money, homes you own, the car you drive but how many people are OK with their soul?  Our society has no measure for soul growth.  How many people realistically face challenges in their lives and can accept when they are incapable of completing a task, of asking for help, or simply succumbing to their limitations?  How many people can wake up in the morning and be happy with themselves, knowing they give their all and their best and accepting that that is their life, their ability, their limit?

I urge you to reflect on your actions, to love yourself, and to accept you for who you are.  And...eat what you love and to your health! 

10 January 2014

Traveling brings out the...best and worst in people?

Traveling provides me with so much social commentary.  (read, Sally-rant)

First.  The little girl in the seat behind me would on occasion kick my seat.  She was 4ish years old and figuring out life.  At one point, after a particularly hard jolt I got to the seat back, I turned around to say something but the mother intercepted. "Sweetie, you can't do that.   The lady in front of you paid for that seat, you only paid for your so you can do what you want to your seat but you aren't allowed to touch hers because she paid for it."

Little girl: "She bought the seat?"

Mom: "No, she rented it, so to speak.  So during the time we're on the plane, it's hers and you can't kick it because she paid money for it and we didn't.  You only paid for the seat that you are in so you just stay in that seat and touch it but you don't touch other ones because we didn't pay money for them"

Are you serious?  Is that how some parents teach their children to be kind to other people or respectful or considerate?  That other people paid for something and we didn't so we have to respect their space or them, period?  The approach I had when I was raised was "you don't do that, that's rude," but I'm also familiar with the sympathy/compassion approach, "how would that make you feel if someone spent the entire flight kicking the back of your chair while you are sitting peacefully in it trying to enjoy a book?"

Is money the deterrent to bad behavior?  Is money or ownership what drives us to be kind to one another or considerate? Is that what our society is coming to?  That we teach our children that we paid for something and therefore can do with it what we please but have to respect the things that other people paid for.  Does this mean that one with money is respectable but (s)he who does not have money is not?  Is there not dignity and the respect for the other human?  Do we not feel that we ought to respect others because they deserve it?  Or following the golden rule, because that's how we want to be treated?  I was dumbfounded.  Appalled and it made me sad.

Then.  We were in queue to board a shuttle in the airport to go to our gate and a woman, the first woman in the queue wheeled up her suitcase and was holding her big coat and her huge over-the-shoulder-bag and stopped at the door of the shuttle.  She started to organize her things and said "well I'm going to hold everyone up here," she was anxiously jamming the retractable rolly-handle back into the suitcase (which of course, wasn't cooperating).  I asked "can I help?" She looked at me and rolled her eyes, she laughed and said "never, I'm not one of those."  I don't quite know what one of those means but someone that accepts help?  Maybe she thinks one of those is a helpless person who cannot take care of him/herself.  I thought how ugly her response was, coming from a place of utter pride and insecurity.  I thought of something one of my favorite people in the world says "A thank you would suffice."  You don't need to prove who you are or aren't you can just gracefully accept that others want to help you and not just you, want to help people.

**writing this at the airport, so I apologize for any misspellings or grammar erros.  

31 December 2013

Use your words

Use your words.  Those are three words that a preschool teacher or the parent of a toddler repeats regularly. But like most lessons we teach our children, they continue to be applicable in the adult world where we don't have a preschool teacher or parent to point us in the right direction every time we commit a social boo-boo (like being nice to one another).  Use your words for children is asking them to not throw a tantrum but use their verbal skills to express what it is they want/don't want, like/dislike, etc.  Use your words for adults implies say what you mean and mean what you say.  Although it could mean the same as the toddler version, but I would like to think that most adults developed verbal skills along with their adult-body.  I've been wrong before. 

I bring this up because I was reflecting on sarcasm that is used by many to express appreciation, interest or intended to be a form of flirting.  You often hear people saying something mean and sarcastic in an effort to mask their feelings of awe, appreciation, or gratitude of another person.  For example, I gave somebody something I had made the other day and asked for their opinion.  The response I received was "I'm sure it sucks." What?!  It's not that I think that what I made is good but a thank you would suffice.  Why would one say that?  Is it a defense mechanism?  Covering up for personal insecurities?  I was taught that it's nice to be nice to other people and that my words are the most socially prominent way of communicating my feelings.  When somebody brings you something they made or bought or a flower they picked for you, or whatever why wouldn't you explicitly and overtly express your appreciation of it? (Even if you don't appreciate it mama taught me to say thank you, always.)  This mean-sarcasm nonsense is foolish and juvenile.  I do not condone this behavior.  I think it's lovely to be charming and sweet, it makes people feel good.  And if people don't know how to respond to it, well shame on them, they ought to learn.  One doesn't have to get "awkward" (another notion I dislike, but I'll save that for another rant).  You say thank you.  Or you say what you mean!  "I appreciate the flowers you brought me," "I really enjoyed spending time with you," "I would like to get to know you more," "I appreciate your insight," "I would prefer not to stay out all night, thank you, let's have lunch instead."  Say what you  mean and mean what you say.  Use your words.  



29 December 2013

I wish you Enough

I read this on someone else's blog and thought it was too beautiful to not share.  

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
 I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more..
 I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting. 
 I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting…

 I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good- bye.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

Life is full of dichotomies: day and night, love and loss, joy and pain.  This poem captures the notion that experiencing a little bit of suffering or lacking only enhances the positive and the reality.  Without rain there is not greenery, nor fruit or flowers.  The sadness or pain is all a part of the cycle of life; although we may not understand it or we may be blinded by our grief.  Grief and sadness are not bad, they are meant to be embraced as they will only serve in the future to appreciate the joys in life. 

25 December 2013

Merry Christmas with smoked salmon and amaretto margaritas

Merry Christmas!  We decided to have margaritas with breakfast, why not? 

Amaretto Margaritas

Serves 3

  • 3 parts (6 oz.) of a mixture of freshly squeezed lemon juice* (3 oz.) and frozen Minute Maid limeade concentrate (3 oz.)
  • 2 parts (4 oz.) tequila 
  • 1 part (2 oz.) amaretto** 
Mix all the ingredients above and serve over ice in a margarita glass (you could also blend all the ingredients in a blender).  Garnish with the curly rind of one of your lemons.  

This is a simple recipe, a 3:2:1 ratio, easy to remember even with the hectic nature of holidays!

*I like to use Meyers lemons if you have them handy; they are more floral and pair very well with the amaretto.  
**This recipe normally calls for triple sec here but I didn't have that so decided to try amaretto, it was a perfect accident.  Amaretto is a delicious drink that is often forgotten about except for in amaretto sours, so I guess this margarita is a spin on an amaretto sour.  Excellently sweet, sour, with a touch of bitter almond. 

Merry Christmas margaritas! 

Smoked salmon with whole grain mustard on sourdough baguette 
In his homily, the priest at church last night concluded about Christmas (which I think can be extended to life in general) is that we all just want to love and be loved.  Isn't that the truth? I hope you spent your day with the people you love and that love you. 

24 December 2013

Life is a contact sport

Conversations at bars fall into one of two categories: 1. mindless, obscene banter or 2. deep, philosophical and full of life lessons.  Because I'm me (and if you're reading this, you probably know me) my conversations at bars (and almost all of my conversations in life) fall into the second category.  

The other night I was out with a friend and we were discussing a recent "life event" of mine - a conversation that I had had with yet another person about the way to live life.  Ought one let fear dictate her/his actions?  Where does one draw the line on letting fear stop her/him from making certain decisions?  The conclusion that we came to is that there is no right answer.  My rough-around-the-edges and very wise friend said "life is a contact sport" (which makes more sense to my North American friends - contact sport being football, hockey, wrestling, soccer, it's the classification for a sport in which physical contact is rampant, normal and encouraged).  I really liked this analogy.  Do you want to live life on the sidelines, watching other people feel and get hurt and score (all both metaphorically and literally speaking)?  I certainly don't.  Getting hurt is just a part of living, whether it be heartbreak or a skinned knee.  Do you want to come to the end of your life and assess/evaluate and realize you had just settled?  I'll take it a step further, can you go to bed at night, put your head on that pillow, alone with your thoughts and sleep peacefully knowing you lived that day to the fullest? 

The last words of advice from my wise friend - "drive [life] like a rental car."  Amen, brother.