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The Mantra Kicks In

January 30, 2014

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I spent the afternoon alternating between shoveling small portions of the driveway and coming in to warm up by the fire and going out again to shovel a bit more. The polar vortex was due to return Sunday evening, and return it did, and that numbing cold stayed through Tuesday. So we did as we do, and got ready for it by shoveling, and loading up on groceries -- enough for some meaty soups and a roast and some good dense bread.

And then the winds came on Sunday, and I'm a big fan of wind, but gosh it was cold. And cold wind is not like the winds of August, lovin' your skin and lifting you up off the ground. No, this wind moved through you, outlining your internal organs on the way and leaving bite marks on your face and hands and feet. And it didn't blow through leaves Sunday night making a sound like the ocean; it cut and wailed its way through town like some kind of mythological creature who presence is a portent and who left mercy behind somewhere to the west.

It's not the weather so much as the solitude it brings. I call it "solitude" because if I don't, "isolation" comes to mind and that could send a person into a downward spiral. Times like this, the mantra kicks in. Not only for weather-related frustrations like too much to shovel and frozen pipes, but for the challenges along the way that can render a person speechless, sitting by the window in a daze, or railing against the source with a series of expletives.

Long ago I realized I needed something galvanizing, some rallying words, something to whisper to myself in those moments when nothing else makes much sense and I need realignment. Something with which to meet fear and discomfort instead of walking around it. Something solid and true, like water or bread or country air. Didn't need to be fancy, didn't need to be hip. I just listened to my gut's message to myself in moments when I wanted to turn and run, and this is what I heard: I can do this. Simple.

Sometimes saying a thing out loud is a way to get your arms around it. Some people say "I'm not going there." But avoiding a thing doesn't give a person much power. So go into the bathroom or in front of a mirror. Let the worst case scenario story play out in your head. Maybe it is cancer, or Alzheimers. Maybe it is a child who is going off the deep end. Maybe growing old is just not your thing. Maybe if you stay in the house one more day without human contact you will lose your mind. Maybe you won't have enough to cover all the bills this month, and perhaps your marriage really is in trouble.

Then square your shoulders and look yourself in the eye and say out loud (whispering is okay) whatever words are there in your gut to meet the awful thing. Say it, and say it again, and believe it. Because nothing is bigger than you are. Nothing at all.

Here's a good one for the football game. Might seem a big futzy, but the payoff is back and you'll be asked to host the party again next year, sure enough. Just be prepared for that.

Baked Brie Bites

3 oz Brie Cheese, skin removed and cut into (15) ½ inch cubes
4 T dried cranberries
4 T chopped walnuts or pecans
2 T honey or fruit preserves (peach-mango preserves work well)
15 frozen mini Phyllo dough shells

Preheat oven to 325. In a small bowl, combine dried cranberries, chopped nuts and honey (or preserves) and mix well.

Arrange mini shells on a baking sheet. Fill them with one Brie cube each. Top with sticky dried cranberry/nut mixture and bake 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Serve immediately. Serves about 6-8.

Enjoy!

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