Peace in Friendship

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I have to admit that for the most part, I don’t mind being alone. I find myself craving it often, given that I live in a house with four other people. There is nearly never silence. Never alone time. Sometimes it gets quiet, only to be punctuated with, “I AM THOR! I WILL ATTACK YOU NOW!”

Given that I crave more alone time, it might sound strange to admit that I also crave grownup friendship time, too. These cravings feel like such opposites. When “free-time” finally does present itself, do I choose the quiet, peaceful moment or do I phone a friend?

This week, I reached for my cell and phoned a friend.

There is so much peace in loving friendship. 20 minutes can make such a difference in the day. Hearing a friend laugh or share similar experiences makes my day. It’s so simple to pick up a phone, make a plan, share a lunch, FaceTime, or otherwise. This sounds so simple it’s almost silly. But, somehow, we forget the most simple salves life has to offer us.

So, I encourage you! I implore you! Phone a friend. Feel the peace.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace on Virtual School Days

You would think that I had mastered virtual learning after last year’s voluntary insanity (we opted for 100% cyber learning last year). But today we had our first snow day, and the kids were expected to log in for what our district calls a “Flexible Instruction Day.”

Any mastery I learned from last year has subsequently flown out the window and disappeared into oblivion.

With LM2 in kindergarten this year, we had two virtual kiddos and LM3 found herself with a house full of opportunities for destruction.

I want to first commend the teachers for being prepared for the snow and this new FID. Our instructions for the day were very clear and organized. The kids had plenty to do this morning, and their assignments were great for independent learning.

But physically transitioning between the assignments and actually getting my kids to DO any assignments proved trickier than expected. No one wanted to focus while the snow called to them. No one wanted to be on their iPads after last year’s traumatic memories.

In order for the kids to hear their instruction and focus, I separated them by floor. 3 floors for 3 separate kids meant Mom getting a bit of a workout. Which isn’t a big deal until someone is screaming at the top of his lungs from multiple floors at once.

I forgot to eat enough breakfast. I didn’t have all the materials prepared for the kids and did a lot of scattered running…and yelling.

I couldn’t get everyone satisfied. And there were kiddo tears everywhere, paired with, “he hit me!” and “she took my book” and “I need my planner!” and “I’m hungry!” and “where is my charger?” and “I’m not doing this math!” and “I’m not showing my work!”

Seriously, people? For real?

I finally got LM1 on track writing a personal narrative, ditched LM2s cut & paste activity and got us set up with water colors and classical music at the kitchen table.

Then I put a Pop It toy at the center of the table.

“Every time one of you says something nice like ‘please’ or ‘thank you,’ you can push a pop,” I said.

Then I started us off by telling LM3 I really liked her sloth drawing.

Everyone got real quiet and concentrated. Once our task was a game the kids popped every pop they could until it was done and we could make hot chocolate.

This was my route back to peace today. It took a few hours of mayhem until I thought of this, and the road forward felt mostly unpleasant. But then, saying kind things to each other and digging up a little peace from inside ourselves was simple. Some days I just bring it back to the basics and it makes a big difference.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace.

Peace in Mushroom Soup

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Yesterday morning I moseyed my way over to Wegman’s in the morning with LM3. The store had a killer selection of mushrooms (do they always?) I saw them all there on the shelf, like a group of friends, and I could feel my body grow with excitement at the onset of an opportunity. They had:

  • oyster mushrooms
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • baby portobellos
  • white mushrooms
  • cremini mushrooms

YUM! I grabbed them all.

I don’t really have a go-to recipe for mushroom soup, but I always search online for anything creamless. I like to add cheese as a garnish, but working in too much heavy cream, milk, or even mascarpone cheese turns me off. That being said, I try to pack in flavor in other ways.

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For this soup experiment, I did not use a recipe! I used chicken broth as the base and tried to create a ton of flavor with some spices (thyme, salt, pepper, marjoram), veggies (onion & celery), oil (truffle and olive), and butter before bringing them all together with my immersion blender. (Note: my dad got me an immersion blender a few years ago when I got into making soup and it has been a REAL GAME CHANGER! I totally recommend.)

This soup doesn’t take much time to make, but I was looking for a place of peace, so I took my time.

A long time ago (I may have been in my twenties?), a family member asked me to chop an onion and then proceeded to tease me for slow chopping. I think the rhetoric dispensed went something like,

“You don’t know how to chop an onion?” or “How long does it take to chop an onion?” or “Today, junior!”

I’m one of those people who didn’t learn how to deflect negative behavior as a kid. I didn’t know how to make a joke or say something clever in the situations that warranted such. Instead, I felt uncomfortable and then tortured myself later, trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

Thankfully, that’s not the case today.

Today, I carefully, slowly chop my onions because it feels good. Because I like the smell, the feel, and the precaution I take so I don’t lose a finger. I like being in my kitchen, feeling present, working and dreaming about how the flavors will come together. I feel peaceful bringing ingredients together in new ways and lean into that.

This week, making mushroom soup brought me to a place of supreme peace. Making it, eating it, sharing it, and scraping the bowl at the end.

What brought you peace? Share the peace!

Peace in Disagreements

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This holiday season turned out to be a lot more stressful than I remember other years having been. This year involved a lot of discussion. And such discussions led to disagreements. Getting together during the rise of omicron led those in our family to ask a lot of questions:

  • What’s safe?
  • What isn’t safe?
  • Should we still be worrying about all this?
  • Should we test people before gathering?
  • When should we test?
  • Whom should we test?
  • Where can we get tests?
  • Are rapid tests reliable for the omicron variant?
  • Has anyone been exposed?
  • What day did you get exposed?
  • Who’s vaccinated?
  • Who’s been boosted?
  • What is the best venue for our gathering?
  • What are we serving, from a food perspective? (just kidding…..I didn’t ask that, but I was certainly wondering!)

Here’s the thing: questions are great. Questions can lead to answers. Answers can bring knowledge. Sometimes answers bring comfort. But when family is involved, things can get dicey. Because we love our family members. And while we want what’s best for everyone, we can disagree about what’s best.

Because we’re different. We have different opinions. We have different beliefs. And some of us, like, ahem, little old me, don’t always have an answer.

I’m not a scientist, a medical professional, an epidemiologist, a politician, a religious leader, or much of an authority on anything except soup (Truly, people, I make a mean soup. Come over any time!)

To say I cried a little this Christmas season would be an understatement. I cried, I yelled, I lost sleep. I let my confusion, fear, and disappointment in disappointing others RULE. I don’t like when people disagree. Former ultimate people-pleaser speak: I just want us all to get along!!!

Finding peace in this headspace was a challenge.

So, what did I do?

I let it go.

I said, ok, we disagree, and that’s ok. It has to be ok. This is what we need right now. The path is disagreement. If God wanted us to agree all the time, we would have been all the same. Which, if I were choosing, I would have made all of us Oprah. (I know, I know: agree to disagree….but I love Oprah. I also love Sonia Sotomayor. I could have gone with that choice, too, since she has the work ethic of a god.)

I breathed. I baked. I cooked. I tried to do the things I love to do and kept going.

And you know what? I found my way back to peace. I always find my way after a little time and effort.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace?