Pieces of Heart

How well are you treating yourself and others lately?

Truth

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”Gautama Buddha

This morning I was looking through my Facebook memory feed and I saw the entry above. It struck a chord; so I posted it again and within minutes, some of my friends started sharing it. Isn’t it the truth? Why is it so hard for the majority of humans to focus on our positive attributes rather than our negative ones?

I know the quote up there says that it’s not up to others to keep you encouraged and it’s true; but oh, does it help when we infuse this good advice with a healthy dose of kindness to one another? It doesn’t take a supreme effort to make another person feel good. In fact, whenever I am able to bring a smile to someone else’s heart, it makes my own heart smile.

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This morning I made a quick stop on the way to work in order to pick up lunch. I stopped at my favorite grocery store and picked out something Keto-approved (because I am on a never ending quest to get healthier. That counts as self-love, right?). Standing in the checkout line I overheard the cashier call the customer in front of me by name. My first thought was that she must be a regular shopper. Still, it made me smile inwardly because the cashier was so kind to her.

When it was my turn, she asked me how I was, we exchanged pleasantries and she rang up my items. When she handed me the receipt, in the sweetest tone, she said to me, “Thank you, Bobbe…I really like your name!” I thanked her, wished her a great day, and I left the store smiling. I am sure the store management probably encouraged her to do this, but it didn’t matter to me a bit. It was kind. Her delivery was genuine and it made me feel good. As I pulled out into traffic, still smiling, I couldn’t help but think about how important it is to be kind to one another. She had just altered the course of my day in a wonderfully simple, yet highly positive way.

Last night we performed our regular once-per-week catering job. It’s the Fellowship Meal for the church where I work (doing finances), and I am Facebook friends with most of the people who attend. If you subscribe to this blog you already know that I adore cooking. Few things make me happier than mastering a new dish or preparing pretty food. I regularly share my food porn and my recipes on Facebook, because it’s what I enjoy. (Who doesn’t love food?)

Admittedly, there was a time when I wouldn’t share this blog anywhere because I feared what people may think. My food blogs could be construed as bragging; my inspirational writing could be construed as me believing I am above others; my angel musings could be construed as me being delusional or crazy. I was worried that people I work with might think I am (gasp) “new age”, even though I am actually the furthest thing from it. I was worried about offending people who don’t like what I like… You get where I am going with this.

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When I turned 54 a month ago today, I made the decision to live in authenticity. To me, this means the inside matches the outside; it means sharing exactly who I am without concern over what other people think or whether they believe the same as I do. It means that what others think of me is none of my business. Am I living my life in accordance to what I believe God wants? Am I feeling good in my own heart? To me, nothing else should be of higher importance.  Besides, if we were all exactly the same, where would joy live?  Ponder this a while. I’ll wait.

Last night just as we were about to serve dinner, one of the church congregants -(a lady I love to “silly-banter” with)- came across the room to tell me she wanted to tell me something. I was expecting our normal silliness, but instead she was so sincere. She proceeded to say the nicest things to me with regard to the variety of things I do well in my life; the cooking, the writing, the accounting, etc. I don’t want to repeat the entire exchange here, but it was one of the loveliest and most unexpected compliments I have ever received. Apparently, she’s been reading my blogs and so she is knowing me better. <grin> What she didn’t know, (or maybe she did), was just how timely she was, as I’ve been feeling rather low since Easter.

Driving home last night, I was telling Charlie what she said when tears formed in his eyes. He took my hand in his and said, “It’s all true, Bobbe. You don’t get enough credit or give yourself enough credit for who you are.” He doesn’t know it, but every time he gets emotional when I tell him about something like this, it cements the fact that I know I am exactly where I belong.

I don’t know if it’s true that I don’t get enough credit. (I am aware I don’t give myself enough credit because people tell me this all the time!) The reason I share this is to illustrate that kindness matters. Two times in the past twenty four hours, I’ve experienced unexpected kindnesses and my spirit has done a complete about-face. In fact, I feel transformed.

I am a generally positive person. Imagine if I wasn’t? How might these kindnesses have affected me even more?

Thank you God, for those people who unabashedly offer pieces of heart. Please help me to persist in trying to follow this path as well.

May pieces of heart sprinkle all of the paths we travel and may God grant us the insight to know when to sprinkle our own.

Happy Friday!

Love, Bobbe

 

Why Must I Write?

I wrote this post for another website but this morning I found it here, so I decided to share it.

What seems like four hundred years ago; before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress or even MySpace existed; before Apple, before Windows, before PC’s, Lap tops and even before word processors; there were yellow pads, composition notebooks and black Bic Pens. These were and still are my favorite tools of expressive writing.

I can remember being a wee tot visiting and being awed by the supply room at my father’s company. All of those shelves just full of colored papers, notebooks, steno pads, yellow pads, packages of pens and pencils, markers and the like! Whenever I was there visiting I was allowed to go into that room and select some paper and pens to work with. I always selected the notebooks and pens and I can still recall being thrilled to sit at a “big person desk” and scratch away as if I were working hard for the company! Looking back, I truly believe those times shaped my love of new pens and notebooks.

In the sixth grade we studied “The Diary of Anne Frank” and it is this book that I credit as being the impetus of my lifelong love affair with writing. I came away from reading that story with the incredible “new-to-me” idea that I could actually sit down and chronicle my thoughts and feelings about life. Anne Frank decided to think of her diary as a friend, so she named it, “Kitty”. Sixth grade Bobbe thought this was a such a cool idea, I named my own diary, “Monet”. (The memory of this makes me burst into laughter. Monet was actually the given name of our standard poodle who we called, “Moe”, because we all thought the name Monet was too pretentious! Somehow I thought, “Monet” would be a good name for my pretend diary friend. (Don’t Worry, it was short-lived.)

As you might imagine, my sixth-grade diary entries consisted of things that I considered to be earth-shattering at the time, “Dear Monet. Today we went to Actors Theater and we watched the play, ‘Anne Frank’. I was so happy because “so-and-so” sat next to me!” ; “Dear Monet, today Sr. Clara yelled at us for no reason at ALL!”, etc.

Aside: I have searched my house high and low, I know that little diary is hidden in some corner because I was just looking at it laughing. I really wanted to photograph it for this blog. I will keep writing and keep searching and hopefully it will show up in time for me to finish this!’ Until then, here are just a few journals that happen to be sitting within arms reach. The little one is from my 7th and 8th grade years. You can’t really see it but there are two more notebooks underneath the open ones. Yes, I have always written on a regular basis.

Anyway, I made it a practice to write in that little book daily. It may not have been great writing, but it shaped me to make a good habit of recording my thoughts and feelings regularly. Looking back through my writings it strikes me just how much I have always written about my relationship with God and all of the gratitude I have for His presence in my life. Very often my little girl entries were entirely about trying to be a better person in order to please Him. Interesting stuff, considering  the fact that other than attending Catholic school and Mass on Sundays, no one in my life was force-feeding me information about God.

As an adult I still find myself drawn to write about my feelings and experiences. Very often, writing is therapy for me, (you may have noticed this if you’ve read any of my prior blog entries), but I have also found through years of blogging on my personal site, that when I share my true life experiences, I am touching others who might be needing a lift or help not feeling alone.

This is really why I write.

I never feel more alive and whole than when I am sharing my heart through my writing. Early in life my little letters to “Monet” gave way to recording the events of each day; who I encountered and how I was feeling about it. That morphed into letters to God, notes to the angels, prayers, and lots of true diary entries that spoke of happiness and excitement but also of depression, confusion and pain. Today as I was leafing through that little journal with the pink writing, I was laughing hysterically, reading aloud to Charlie, some of the incredibly stupid entries. (Occasionally, he would belly-laugh too.) But then I’d come across an unexpected little post about being scared and sad because my parents were downstairs fighting and the memories flood right back. This is another reason I write. It helps me remember where I’ve come from. It reminds me of my strength when I’m not feeling particularly strong, and this is what I want to help others to feel as well.

I can’t remember the occasion for the actual FIRST blog I ever wrote or even what I wrote about, specifically. What I remember, instead, is the flood of thank you emails I received because of it. Somewhere along the line I started incorporating my true life experiences together with how I prayed and learned to cope and the response from total strangers is what compels me to write even to this day. I wasn’t doing anything special. I was just sharing the truth about how hard life sometimes is. What I learned is that there are a gazillion people out there scared to death about what other people might think, so they stay mired in unhappiness and this is why I write. I guess I talk about the things people are scared to talk about, even if it means baring my sometimes ugly past and soul.

I don’t even remember writing that little diary entry up there and that’s a good thing. Seeing it reminds me that all things pass and all things are possible.

And so I continue to write in the hopes my words might find themselves in the heart of the person or persons who most need them. That’s usually what ends up happening.

Life has a way of working out that way.

With love,

Bobbe

The Easiest Shrimp/Seafood Scampi Ever!

If ever I want to make my husband flip out with excitement, I announce that I’m making this dish. It’s his favorite and I love to make him happy! Here is how easy it is!

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Classic shrimp scampi doesn’t involve marinating the shrimp, nor does it involve tomatoes or basil, but I’m not making classic shrimp scampi here. This is a little recipe I made up in order to make life a little more simple and believe me, there is nothing more simple than this dish!

I usually start with a pound (or more) of Red Rock shrimp (because we like it best). Red Rock shrimp are brighter in color and have a consistency closer to lobster. We buy this at Trader Joe’s, but if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area and you can’t find it, by all means just use regular shrimp (peeled and de-veined, of course.)

To a one gallon zip lock bag, I add the shrimp, plus a half cup of olive oil, about about six garlic cloves, minced, fresh cracked pepper and just a pinch of salt. Smoosh it around in the bag so all of the shrimp it coated and then set aside for at least a half hour. I leave it right on the kitchen counter. (Shhhh, it’s fine. I promise. You won’t die.)

Next the pasta pot gets filled with water and salt and brought up to a rolling boil. We like to use angel hair pasta for this recipe because it cooks very quickly (about ten minutes), but you can use whatever pasta you love.  Once I’ve dropped the pasta, I prepare a cast iron skillet with two tablespoons of real butter (never use anything but 100% full fat, real butter!) melting over medium high heat.

When the butter has melted, I pour the contents of the shrimp bag, (olive oil and all), right into the skillet. Using a spatula, I quickly distribute the shrimp so they are in a single layer. Shrimp cook very quickly -literally just a couple of minutes- so it’s important to watch them closely and turn them over as soon as they are becoming pink and opaque.

If this were a regular shrimp scampi recipe, wine would be added early  into this mix, but I am not a fan of cooking with wine, so I ignore this step. Instead I like to pop in some pretty tomatoes right after the shrimp goes in and then fresh basil towards the end. Make sure to continue stirring frequently so the shrimp are not over-cooked.

I said this was seafood scampi, correct? This is because my dear husband, Charlie, likes to sneak off to Trader Joe’s and buy things I would never even consider looking at. For instance; this stuff:

Frozen-Seafood-Mix

I would never have even looked at this, let alone purchased it, but it made him happy, so he did. I obliged him by thawing it out and adding it right into the skillet at the same time I put in the shrimp. (No marinade for the seafood.)

See how colorful these shrimp are? In this photo, they are about 95% cooked. I love how they retain their pretty color. Regular shrimp do turn pink but not like this!

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Finally, I take the skillet off the heat and give the dish a stir as I add in the fresh basil. You might notice that there is no photo of this step. This is because I didn’t have a lot of the fresh basil this time. Oh and by the way, your tomatoes might not smile like mine. I’m magic. You’re probably not magic. ♥

Once the pasta is finished cooking, it gets tossed in with the garlic sauce and seafood, then plated and sprinkled with a little fresh Parmesan cheese.

Finito!

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Ingredients:

½ cup of olive oil

½ Teaspoon cracked black pepper

¼ Teaspoon salt

2-3 Tablespoons butter

6 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 lbs. Red Rock Shrimp, thawed (peeled & deveined)

1 pkg. Pana Pesca Seafood Mix (Optional. You can sub in any seafood mix you like or don’t do it at all.)

¼ cup fresh basil (torn)

¼ cup Parmesan (finely grated)

10-12 cherry tomatoes (optional & use however many you prefer)

¼ – ½ lb. angel hair pasta

 

Directions:

To a one gallon zip-lock bag add the shrimp, olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Smoosh it around making sure the shrimp is coated. Set aside for at least half an hour. I do not refrigerate the shrimp, but you can if you are afraid.

Prepare pasta according to instructions on the box. (Boil water, add salt, and add pasta…yada yada…)

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet set to medium high. When the pan is hot, drop in the contents of the gallon bag. (If you are making seafood scampi-add the additional seafood as well.) Quickly distribute the shrimp so they are in a single layer in the pan. Add the tomatoes. Continue stirring keeping careful watch on the shrimp. They are finished when they are pink and opaque. The whole process takes about 2-3 minutes on each side, but it can happen faster, so watch carefully.

Once the shrimp are just about cooked, I like to add one more tablespoon of butter and the basil, then stir once more and remove from the heat. Add a final pinch of freshly cracked pepper.

Drain the pasta, mix it in with the scampi.

Garnish with grated Parmesan and a little more pretty basil!

Enjoy!