Saturday, March 31, 2012

That LaDuke Temper!!

Now that I’ve totally blown my anonymity, I will let you all in on another dirty little secret: us LaDukes, we inherited ourselves a red hot sizzling fiery temper! Albert, Julius, Don - I don’t know who got it first, but it has burned on down the family line like a match on gasoline as far as the eye can see!

My friend Christina hears me at work dealing with children and their families. One night she tells me she can’t imagine my having a temper. I laughed whilst smirking. Once in high school, I practically shattered my phone by throwing it against the wall after a fight with a boyfriend. It was an awesome phone too - one of those Swatch phones that lit up when it rang and you could see the insides through the transparent green plastic. My dad fixed it for me without even asking me how it broke. Not that he didn’t know, I think he was just saving me that embarrassed smile us LaDukes get on our faces once we cool off. “Duuuuh, sorry!”

Oh hell yes I was mad when I hurled that telephone. That boyfriend was threatening suicide because I was breaking up with him. Then he told his parents I made up the story and that actually he had broken up with me! I punched him in the face whilst wearing the diamond ring he gave me for that last one. What was important to my 15-year-old self is quite different now, but my anger was and still is my anger nonetheless.

And again, I digress...

Anger is a displaced emotion, meaning it has its root in a different, deeper emotion. Rarely do we take the time to figure out what that emotion is because it is usually much more painful and we perceive that there is much more to lose than say, a telephone, by addressing it. The baddest dude below anger is fear. 

Another time in a heated argument with a different boyfriend (relationships teach us so much!), I was the calm one, he was the angry one. As I stood up to leave, he taught me a poignant lesson; he stood as well and with the eyes of a 5-year-old child, he said, “Am I unloveable?” 

I think of this situation often when I am angry; it helps me to go beyond, through, or beneath the anger to find out what it really is that I am feeling. Am I feeling unloveable? Am I feeling lonely? Am I scared? And can I remember that by expressing the feeling closer to the source of me (fear as opposed to anger; vulnerability as opposed to rage), I am creating an avenue for a conversation as opposed to a blitzkreig (Mr. Lochridge anyone?) of insults, profanities, and damage to myself and another being? 

It’s not so easy and sometimes it has to happen after the anger has inadvertently burst out of us. But it’s useful. And it’s one of the best ways for deepening a relationship, especially one that matters. See how it feels sometime to offer your hurt, sadness, or fear to another as opposed to your anger. The palpable qualities of vulnerability are so much softer and attract much more compassion that the sharp, hot, edgy burn of anger. 

Try it out and let me know what you find...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Coconut Bliss

I just had one of the most divine experiences that I think a person can have.

My friend Shane made this old tire full of cement as a stabilizer for our laundry line in the summer. In the winter, it sits and collects snow. Right now, in this crazy winter we're having, the snow has melted and it is the only concrete in our yard so I sat on it. I sat on it because it's sunny and warm and my kittens like it when I hang outside with them and most importantly, I sat on it because I had a fresh coconut!

Inside my house, I used a sharp knife to shear off just enough of the top to clear the hard outer shell, but not so much as to make the juice explode. In my good, dumb luck, I ended up shearing the coconut top off without breaking the top layer of coconut meat! I grabbed my titanium camping spoon and took it all outside to sit on my warm chunk o' cement.

As I popped the spoon through the top layer of the tender, white meat, the coconut water splashed out all over my jeans. No worries to be had, the jeans are from Browse & Buy in Jackson and cost a mere $4. By the way, I love that lady over there who is just my size and gets tired of her super fancy jeans on a regular basis. Shout out to the Jackson jeans lady!!

So...anyone who is willing to enjoy a can of coconut juice for $2.99 (or more) would be out of their mind not to run on down to Barrels & Bins right now and buy a real live coconut for $4.29! It takes a sharp knife and some elbow grease to get the top cut off but Holy Hannah is it worth it!!!

The inside of a coconut is so full of juice that when you shake it, you might think it's hollow. When you drink it, well, hold on to your hats, people, because it is an amazing, divine, glorious treat! (Not to mention chock full of electrolytes and isotonics!).

As if the incredible nectar of the coconut juice were not enough in itself, there is more! When the vessel is empty, you get to smack it down hard multiple times on a chunk of cement (see how all the random info finally ties together??!) until it breaks open and then use your titanium spoon (because it won't bend under pressure!) to scoop out the most incredible, juicy, soft, delicious and light flesh of the coconut.

I haven't had a coconut like this since India. I would drink a coconut there anytime and every time I saw one. Of course, the experience is a little different in India. There is a man or a woman with a cart full of green-colored coconuts. You stop by and they show you on their hands how much they want for it (by touching each finger to the thumb. Fingers are divided into three parts based on each chunk of finger between knuckles. If they need more than 4, they go back to the first finger and touch the next knuckle chunk down. I got really good at watching hands, not faces in that bartering process!). When the agreed upon price was paid, the coconut vendor would take out a huge machetti and hack the top off the coconut. They would toss in a neon colored straw and wait for you to drink it up. Only once did someone bust it open and let me eat the flesh. The rest of them told me there was none and demanded the coconut shell back. Now I know why!!!

If you're not sold on a fresh coconut right now, all I can say is, The more for me! I'm headed back to B&B prontito!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Last weekend I decided I was ready for a cleanse! I was so ready I gathered up all my cleansing foods and herbs and containers, I checked my schedule and had 10 great days to do it, I wrote a list and a chart and got a great 3.5 days into it. Then it totally fell apart and I find it so very interesting.

The first three days I had a regular schedule with even some extra free time because the skiing sucked. Day four was a much different story: I had to work at Targhee. I thought I was well-prepared for that. I had a green smoothie (with no sweeetner) and some goji berries and 4 thermoses of tea and 2 water bottles. I drank all the tea, ate all the goji berries, drank 1.25 water bottles and some of my green smoothie. That was the problem. The green smoothie was so bitter it made me gag to drink it. Then the catered Targhee lunches came. I put mine in my bag, thinking I would eat it next week after my cleanse was over. But I was hungry. Then the crankiness started setting in. While looking for a bandaid, I noticed a Kate’s Real Food bar in my bag. I put it in my pocket and went for a short walk. Then I ate it while looking out the window at skiers on the slushy snow. Then I went upstairs and proceeded to eat all of my lunch (except the turkey because I don’t know where it came from). It was conscious eating, although I did realize that by eating one thing, I was very excited and interested in eating more. 

But I digress. What was most interesting to me was the change in my psyche after eating. Surely, I had a gut ache from eating Targhee food, but after that, and even underneath that, I had a conversation with myself. Myself said, “Stop trying so hard.” Now, that can be interpreted many ways, but I know what it meant. It meant that just because you hear someone say that most people’s livers and digestion are all fekakteh, that doesn’t mean you necessarily. It might include you, and it also might not include you. And even more essentially, “Stop trying so hard” said to me, “Please relax. Please release. Please stop trying to “do something” all the time. Just be.” 

This was apparent to me at another time recently; I was so frustrated that I got stuck in the snow in our driveway, so worried that my housesitter Sara would get stuck, so worried about coming home and getting stuck or ruining my car, and then worried about Dave getting stuck when he came home, worried, worried, worried ad infinitum. 

And so, I made phone calls, asked questions, sent emails, fretted, thought, wondered, meditated, prayed, pondered. Then when I did get a good idea (a mixture of ideas from all of my inquiries), I promptly went to ACE, bought sand and salt, spread it out, and chipped away three times in 24 hours. As I was chipping, I realized how much better I felt. It was then that I realized my need to “do.” Surely, the driveway/ice situation would have been rectified in one way or another (and it was, as it turned out, the weather turned so warm that now, less than a week later, the entire driveway is either mud or puddle), but I could not be at peace until I was doing something to help it along.

This reminds me of when Enrique was sick and I would constantly bring him water or tuna juice or yogurt or make a bed or sing to him or look for him or pet his paw or stare at him or sit near him or something, anything, something! My nickname became “The Hovercraft” and one day, when I was especially heartbroken and frustrated, Dave said to me, “I understand. You just want to do something because you know that you really can’t do anything.”

And so I see now that my cleanse was in part due to my crazy toxic diet the week before I decided to cleanse (lots of coffee, sugar, and snacking - a great sign that I need to rein it in!). And I also see (and hear from my inner guidance) that the cleanse is done. It played its part and now I can reflect on the lessons. The first one is to stop trying so hard. 

Thank you, Universe. I will stop trying so hard. Instead of distracting myself with menial tasks or packing my schedule so full that I don’t even have time for menial tasks, much less a great breakfast with Bus Driver Jim, I will do what is necessary, what is my duty, and I will let the rest go.

In India, there is a stunning fire ritual in which someone spoons a ladle-full of ghee into the fire to the pace of a beautiful chant for many hours. With each offering to the fire, the word “Swaha” is spoken or chanted. I love this word. My personal translation of it is much like the 12-step adage “Let Go and Let God.” At the end of the day or the end of anything, really, you just pick it up in whatever neat or messy package it ended up being and you toss it into the fire. You clap the remaining dust off your hands and you let it go. “Swaha!” you say, “Swaha.” The remainder is smoke, ashes, and bright, sweet light!

Excerpt from an Interview

"When we spoke, I kept referring to the grass talking to me, then once I said that was an exaggeration, and that is not true. The grass is not happy with me for saying that, and I am not happy with me for saying that. I wanted to clear it up just in case for some reason you remembered that detail of our conversation. I would not like for it to be printed or repeated that the grass does not speak as I do not find that to be the truth. All living things have voices, they are just sometimes different than our own."

Response: "I believe that all living things have voices. I once interviewed a famous naturalist (can't remember his name) who said the same. He was very convincing in his argument. I haven't thought twice about such a statement since."