It Occurred to Me That I Forgot, But So Did Others #PastIsPast

I realized last week that my siblings and I did not acknowledge our parent’s anniversary. Which is my crowning boast because I always tell people that I am a honeymoon baby, 9 months and 5 days later. Yes, I have something to brag about!

Kidding aside, I have come to accept that after 11 years since their passing, we now hold our memories to ourselves and our hearts. There is not a day or week that goes by when I think about them, talk to them, or smile about something that reminds me of them.

think-first-be-mindful

Which brings me to the point of my post. Things, events, occurrences, breakups, meetups, trials, tribulations. These are in our past, but often we tend to hold on to the events and that can harm our hearts, literally health-wise and figuratively mind-wise.

I learned an odd lesson Sunday afternoon after I had commented on a Facebook thread. The next thing I knew I was being attacked and called names. The written form of verbal abuse. Well, guess what? I am not going to allow that behavior in my life. And, yet, I had to let it go.

I learned that the only way to move past the hate is to move past my reaction first. I replied with facts, concise, and politely. No name calling. It is truly sad how angry America is right now. But if a person can be steady then hopefully the other person can learn.

Getting back to my parents, I can tell you that their death pushed me into learning more about myself than I thought I needed, let alone possible. I still remind myself to count to ten before I respond. Sometimes no response is better. It just depends.

Think first, be mindful.

That phrase is one of my daily affirmations. Here is another one:

It’s better to be kind than to be right.

Amen to that.

#lifelesson #communication #

I Have Something To Tell You #INeedMyACA #SaveHealthcare

Well, it’s official. I am afraid, I am nervous, I am scared about the fact that the GOP in Washington DC is fast tracking repealing the Affordable Care Act, ACA, Obamacare. Take your pick of term, but for me, it means so much more.

Twenty-two years ago I when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was fortunate to have an employer that provided my health insurance. When the insurance rates began to increase 17-20% per year and the economic downturn hit America, I unfortunately had to drop my coverage. By the time my business recovered from the recession, health insurance had become truly unaffordable. And, most insurance companies would not cover me due to my pre-existing conditions. You see, they made me feel worthless because I had breast cancer.

'We're playing 'healthcare'. Timmy's trying to Repeal it.'
‘We’re playing ‘healthcare’. Timmy’s trying to Repeal it.’

For years, I paid for my office visits. Being a cancer survivor, I should have had a colonoscopy when I turned 50, but the price tag for that procedure was unattainable at that time. I had to wait another ten years for affordable health insurance to finally have it done. I am grateful to God that it was a routine exam with no issues.

I am also grateful that I have a new primary care physician that treats me like a person patient, not a patient on the clock. If there is one thing Paul taught me, he made sure I understood the value of an independent doctor or practice. I really wish he was alive today because I could really use his shoulder to cry on.

I have what would be considered a pre-existing condition prior to the introduction of the ACA. Besides finally getting around to that colonoscopy last summer, I had a hearing test. I was tired of asking friends to repeat what they said.

I have not told very many friends, but here goes. I have tinnitus in my left ear, so who doesn’t have ringing in their ears, right? In August 2016, I clicked on an ad for a hearing aid and the next thing I know, I am having a brain MRI.

It was discovered that I have benign tumor in my inner ear canal and the size is considered too large to radiate, but considered a moderate sized tumor. Sooner or later, it will need to come out. Surgery is the only way to remove it and that means brain surgery. Yes, brain surgery.

I have been experiencing headaches for the past two months. I don’t know if it is from the tumor or simply stress. Either way, I am devastated that I now have an additional issue to worry about. It’s just not fair. Now all the news coverage is about the ACA repeal. I finally have health insurance that works and it is now in jeopardy.

The GOP is rapidly aiming to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. I am frightened, I am stressed out, I have anxiety all because of my recent diagnosis. I want to be able to cover my expenses when I can have the surgery: living, deductible, out of pocket. I want to be financially responsible for this procedure. At the same time my life is up in the air, my business has been sporadic post-election.

aca-1

I will be vocal to my elected representatives in Washington DC about giving a great deal of thought to the people back home in Idaho. I need you all – my family, my friends, my colleagues – to really be loud for me, for the rest of the nation that will be devastated by a fast tracked repeal.

Please call your federal level Senators and Congress folks! This is #Resistance #MAGAMyAss

What Am I Doing in 2017? #PlansBigPlans

Ever since New Year’s Day, I have been giving this 2017 year a great deal of thought. I am not going to grumble about 2016 because it was what it was. I have been taught through my Buddhist practice to focus on the present. I have been taught through my Christian upbringing to focus on the greater good. There is always right now and there is always a silver lining in life.

We just have to open our eyes a bit wider.

BeTheChange

The world will be gloom and doom if you allow that to take over your mind. I for one, will not. We can expand the way we see our world; after all there is always another route to take,

So, this is what I am going to do:

I am going to try my best to present facts with backup. My responsibility as a citizen, as a member of my community is to try. I am not daunted. I will press on.

I am going to volunteer for something I have never done before. Why not? Why not go outside the box and challenge myself? Why not!

I am going to walk and hike further with my dog outdoors. Without my damn phone. Maybe with a camera, but no longer with a phone.

I am going to do more road trips, with friends. I can go alone, but why not take a friend or two? Why not have more company than just my sweet dog? How much of our country have you explored anyway? There is so much right outside state limits. I say no more limits.

I am going to be that shoulder to cry on or the ear to bend. No Facebook copy and paste about it. My friends know when I say I will do something that I will do just that.

I am going to find love again. There, I said it out loud.

Happy New Year everyone!

#lifelesson #2017goals #bethechange #makeitso #community #truth #MAGAMyAss

Is It a New Day or a New Year? #OneDayAtATime

I am sitting here tonight trying to write, not sure of my feelings. It is New Year’s Eve.

2016 was one heck of a year, wasn’t it?

positive-mind-vibes-life

For me, 2016 was my family shuffling, all of us in a good direction. Thank you, God. Friends and others struggling, changing, withdrawing. Thank you again God for the life lessons because change is just that, always a lesson.

Then there were the outside influences in our daily lives that also transformed the world and left behind questions. So many unanswered questions, and yet, the circle of life goes on.

A highly contested election cycle that satisfied only half America, the other half of America is disappointed to fearful. Community and nation at odds. Global good and yet global fear. Those we love are aging or falling prey to that cancer we so firmly fight against.

Those who passed away in 2016, there were the icons we grew up with that shaped our childhoods. Leaders that we looked up to. Scientists we learned from. Spiritual leaders that broadened our horizons and gave us the light to a new path.

So much. And yet, it is not lost. Not at all.

A friend told me this years ago: Stains on clothes are memories. {Indeed}

Another quote: We never stop learning. {Why, yes!}

On New Year’s Eve I reflected on what I seemingly lost and yet what I did learn this past year. We may long for things as they were, but adjustments need to be made even in our daily lives. We must adapt to move on, to learn, to survive.

My challenge to you is not to change the world, but rather change your environment. What are you going to do to make your life better, your community more cohesive, your environment more sustainable? How are you going to make a difference?

How are you going to shape 2017 by your positive actions? What are you going to do?

#NewYear2017 #BeTheChange #MakeItBetter

What Christmas Means to Me #MerryChristmas

I am going to be nostalgic today. What the heck. Merry Christmas. Oh, and Happy Holidays, too.

merrychristmas

Ever since childhood, Christmas was one heck of a holiday in the Barrera household. As kids, the trees always looked spectacular and they probably were. Our Mom would try all the trends. Green trees, white trees, silver trees. Multi colored ornaments, same color ornaments on the tree, tinsel, one of those light contraptions that changed colors on the tree, my personal favorite I might add.

Then there were the zillions of wrapped boxes. Okay, maybe a few dozen but as a kid, the wrapped presents looked like a mountain of surprises. Our family did not have a great deal of money but we did have a great deal of love and laughter.

One thing we also had growing up in a Latin household with the deep Catholic influence. The four of us kids went to parochial school all the way through 12th grade. I wasn’t particularly fond of school experience and yet now that I look back, I am very grateful our parents sacrificed so much to give us a better education. I can say that my siblings and I grew up with morals and values that are the framework for the adults we are today.

Having God in our home was fun, believe it or not. If you knew my Dad, you would know that us kids more or less grew up with a stand-up comic at heart. Our Mom on the other hand, was our rock. Yeah, we said our prayers but as we all aged and became young adults, even our parents changed with the times. God and our spirituality grew as we evolved. With that sense of humor.

For our family, God was always and will always be a part of our individual framework. So, Christmas time wasn’t just the presents, it was the season to reflect on why we were grateful. The family gatherings, the family meals, the family events. We laughed our way through Christmas.

We were so grateful! (We are still grateful, fyi) For a loving family and household. For parents that, despite their mistakes, loved us deeply. For my siblings that to this day we are all still very close. For the modest homes our parents made sure we had to live in, as small as they were. For so many other little things that were a big deal to us. It was the little things and the laughter. It was all about gratitude.

That is what Christmas means to me. Gratitude.

This Christmas I am deeply grateful for who I am thanks to my parents and siblings. I am grateful for my close friends who are my extended family. I am grateful for so very much. Thank you, God.

#ThankYou #grateful #gratitude #lifelesson #Christmas

Holiday Music in the Background #ChristmasGiftParade

Lately, at the end of the day I am wiped out. Keeping up with my real estate business, making sure my dog, Zeke, gets his two miles per day in. Oh, wait, maybe that’s for me, too! So, in rolls the holidays. Steady stream of holiday parties, meetings, events, and so forth.

Living in Boise with a more temperate climate I have been able to expand my garden skills. I have two 4×8 raised garden boxes and one 4×4 for only herbs. I have already decided that I am going to have two more 4×8 boxes made for my garden next year. More tomatoes, more lemon cucumbers, more squash. I am not sure what else I will make, but I know there will be some new vegetables that I will just have to try! And, from my garden many gifts are created.

Ever since I moved to Idaho in 1984, I have strived to make sure my gifts were homemade or handmade by yours truly or at least made in Idaho. Oh, the things I sewed or knitted or dreamed up!

gardenherbsalt

One recipe I found online that I particularly like is a Garden Herb Salt. It was rosemary, sage and thyme. Well, this year I planted oregano and if you know oregano, you know it is prolific. With that in mind, I played with the recipe a bit since I am not big on salt. Sharing with you today!

Garden Herb Salt

4-5 cups of fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano
½ cup kosher salt
8 cloves of garlic

Now, you can proceed here two different ways. You can de-stem all the herbs. Chop the herbs together, side aside. Chop the kosher salt with the garlic. Mix together and spread on a baking sheet. Set oven temperature to no more than 200 degrees and dry out herb mixture for 30 minutes. Let cool completely and pulse in food processor until fine.

Or! Yes, there is another easier way that I discovered by accident!

I harvested the last of my garden herbs and placed them all in a grocery sized brown paper bag. I thought, I will get to it tomorrow night. That went on for a little over a week. When I finally found the time to do the de-stem process, all the herbs were dry. Perfect! You cannot believe how much easier it was to destem! I pressed the garlic and mixed with the salt. Baked it at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes. Let that cool and pulse with the dried herbs until fine in a food processor.

#gardenherbsalt #gifts #recipes

Everyone Has One in Their Lifetime: an Elusive Houdini #GoneGoneGone

I am dog watching for a friend again for a week, and I have renamed this willful dog Houdini. At first, I thought he was jumping the fence which was only four feet tall. I added a foot to the top. Still got out. Then I realized he was pushing the fence enough to escape from the bottom. It’s just one of those temporary garden fences to keep my dog in the yard who would never think to escape. But monkey see, monkey do.

After lining the bottom of fence with cinder blocks, I thought, there is no way he can get out now! Right? Wrong. Hence, the name Houdini.

The fence is now reinforced with a cinder block barrier on both sides of the fence. The things I must do, I tell ya!

listen2heart

This weekend episode got me to thinking about the people that come and go in our lives. Some arrive and depart gradually. Some rush in and move along just as fast. Some enter, teach us a lesson and leave when we least expect it. With no warning. Then there are those who we become close to, have many wonderful memories in our heads to reenact and things change. Just like that.

The point is that life is not constant. Life is ever changing and it is supposed to be that way.

So, how do we deal with the constant changes that occur in our lives that are not welcome? How can we brace ourselves for changes that may not be what we envisioned for our lives? What do we have to do to change our thought patterns to press forward at the times that we must, despite our unwillingness?

Ah, that is such a personal action, isn’t it?

You can find thousands of books or blogs or websites that offer advice on coping with change. It is up to you to make your own decision.

Do what you must, but make the action a positive choice. I wake up happy every day. I find that silver lining and tell God a big hearty Thank You. I may not like something that happened to me, but in retrospect, I look at my actions as well as the actions of others.

When I was 24 years old, my neighbor told me, “You never stop learning”.

Sometimes the lesson learned really hurts, and yet my heart always heals.

#lifelesson #listentoyourheart #nomoredrama

November 2016: Dear Paul… #GriefNeverEnds

Dear Paul,

I have been thinking of you a great deal. Your birthday passed a few weeks ago. The day you had your cardiac arrest passed, which is the date I consider when you died. Four days later, we had to pull your life support. I knew you were not in your body because you went so quickly.

Dear Paul

I still miss you.

I miss everything but the past few months I have missed you more, having to go to several doctor appointments alone. I have been taking care of all the health care items you nagged me about, and then some. You told me a story once, that if a physician ever told me they wanted to be a doctor since they were at a young age, that person was a good doctor. Because they cared. So true! You truly cared for your patients, and the stories they told me gave me so much comfort after you were gone. I have found a few good docs to rely on, the first being my new primary care physician. I chose an independent doctor, just like you.

Zeke is now a whopping 90 pounds and he has congestive heart failure. He is responding well to his meds, but I have had to accept the fact I won’t have him by my side as I thought I would. He is such a good dog! Except for that “come” command!

The 2016 election in the United States was exceptionally awful. You would be grateful to have missed the unprecedented drama, and it will be going on for quite some time. I have lost a few friends over it. Some I don’t care, some I do. I cannot change who I am and how I feel. And, I won’t. So, I must let go as I am sure they have as well.

Oh, get this: my siblings are I are officially spread across the states. From Florida to Minnesota to Idaho to California. I foresee family reunions in our future!

I continue to be involved in Beginners Mind Sangha. Sangha has been the source of infinite grounding, solid friendships, great joy. Thank you so very much for introducing me to Buddhism and this community. They help prop me up when I need it the most. I have discovered that asking for help when I need it is necessary from time to time.

I have learned so much since you died. The first year was filled with tears and grief. I thank God every day that He gave me the gift of being positive. The second year was a year to get to know myself again. It’s not so much that I had changed, but that I am different now.

I have been living again, too. It’s time.

Love always,

Laurie

#grief #lifelesson #Iambetternowthough #change #healing #transition

 

 

Lemon Tarragon Pesto for Fish, Poultry, Pork #LemonTarragonPesto

If you are looking for an impressive way to serve wild caught salmon for the holidays, I am here to rescue you!

lemon-tarragon-pesto

Now, take into consideration that I harvested a shopping bag full of tarragon, so I took the time to figure out the measurements for a single batch. I also use this pesto with Greek yogurt to marinate my chicken thighs or pork tenderloins.

If you like more of a lemon taste, use an additional small lemon!

Ingredients

2 packages of fresh tarragon
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1 large lemon, zested & juiced
NOTE you should have a tablespoon of zest and
almost a 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons butter
Lemon flavored olive oil

Directions

De-stem the tarragon and parsley, add to food processor

Add lemon zest, lemon juice, shallots, sunflower seeds, butter cut in pieces

Pulse food processor and dribble lemon flavored oil until you achieve the pesto consistency you desire.

lemon-tarragon-salmon

Spray olive oil on to baking sheet or pan, place salmon skin side down. Spread thin layer of the lemon tarragon pesto and let salmon sit for at least two hours.

Grill or smoke as you typically do for the size you have. Do not overcook!

Bon Appétit!

Don’t Live With the Blinds Closed #TalkToEachOther

I always smile when I think about what inspires me to write about each week. Right now, I am in Seattle for a few days, staying at a friend’s house in a lovely, wooded neighborhood. The blinds are closed. I don’t get it, either. The backyard is a beautiful, lush environment that would inspire an artist to paint, a poet to write, a person to take up meditating.

But the blinds are closed.

blinds

I don’t know about you, but I feel as if this past week has shown the world that America lives with the blinds closed. Many Americans clearly did not and do not understand the concerns of other Americans in different regions of our country.

I think we are going to open the blinds now.

We must take a long, deep look at what happened. We must make sure America remains a safe place to live, to speak, to write, to gaze in wonder at its beauty. All of us.

Can we open the blinds and leave the bitter rancor behind? How are we going to heal as a nation if trolling remains commonplace? How are we going to heal if our reaction is to file a lawsuit because there is disagreement? I want those in Washington, D.C. to stop the call for investigations that will further divide America! Enough is enough.

The bigger picture here is to start to reach out and come to common ground. Can we please try to be collaborative instead of being combative?

Can we open the blinds now, please?

#BeTheChange #TalkToEachOther #LetsTalk #AmericaIsAlreadyGreat #community #communication