Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Wish (60); Peanut Butter Swiping

Huli Wigman, Tari
photo courtesy of gerhard_69 via flickr
The dirt was orange and loved to color my teva-ed feet tan. I smiled down at them. They had never felt so free. Dirty and lovin’ it. Until I stumbled on a clod that righted my wanderings, and my feet. Oops. Ouch! Ahh, yes, where was I? About to tell you a story. A story of a day in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Yes, there we are….here we go…off once again to the land of dirty, happy feet…

It was a resupply visit. To Tari. We were Peace Corps Volunteers. And hungry for familiar foods in one of the most remote areas of the world. Women sat cross-legged on the ground with small squares of cloth in front of them displaying their freshly earthed peanuts, their passion fruit and avocado, their bananas and tobacco leaves. Other women stood beside large vats of grease stirring their dough balls until just right, piping hot, dripping with old fashioned delicious fat. Mouths muttered speech I couldn’t understand, flat bed diesel trucks grumbled noisily by, and native high-pitched laughter found its way into almost every gap. It wasn’t a bright, sparkling place. Nor was it particularly beautiful. But it was unlike anything I had ever known and gave my mind reason after reason to race with fascinated curiosity. (And my belly reason to encourage my dirty, orange feet…forward)

“I can’t wait for the peanut butter,” I said to a fellow ex-pat, my mouth already watering.
 “Check before you buy!” she chuckled out at me.
“Check what?” I called after her. She turned and smiled. “The peanut butter. They swipe.”
I stored her words away with a bit of wonder, and walked on…

The store I walked toward had a tin roof, fancy for these parts and inevitably filled with the fanciest foods. Boxed cheese, tinned meats, canned margarine, things you couldn’t even buy in the US but were considered delicacies here. I could hardly wait. But the peanut butter? They swipe it?

I placed a few boxes of cheese in my basket because they were near the door and headed down the aisle toward the peanut butter. A Huli Wigman lingered a few steps ahead, his back to me, standing right where I wanted to be. In front of the peanut butter. I breathed in his scent. Woa. Nothing like it. The Wigmen rub their bodies with pig fat to make them shine…and that was only the beginning. Pungent but not rancid, intense in a way so rare I had no choice but to grow a sly smile. He turned toward me with his own sly smile. And just like that, he walked his bare orange feet away.

I looked up at the shelf. At the peanut butter. They all looked the same. Crunchy or creamy with red or blue lids. I reached for the red lid and when I did, I noticed it was a little loose. Check before you buy! So I did. I opened it. And when I did, I realized what that sly smiling Huli Wigman was doing with my beloved peanut butter. He was swiping!

*          *          *

There are an infinite number of ways to let a peanut butter swiping Huli Wigman affect you. Two are most obvious to me. The first is anger and disgust that anyone dare do such a thing without first paying and that’s not even addressing the finger cleanliness thing. Gulp. If I would’ve taken that route I think it’s fair to say, my day would have been ruined. How many times had I overlooked finger swipes? What exactly lived in my past jars of peanut butter, and how much of the ugly bits now lived in my dear belly? Gag. But you must know me well enough by now, oh don’t you dear reader? I don’t like ruined days and I certainly don’t like ugly thoughts so I chose a different interpretation of the aforementioned peanut butter swiping.

It made me laugh.

The Wigman’s action was innocent and daring and for goodness sake, one swipe probably made his belly happier than it had been all week.

But still, I chose a different jar.

*          *          *

This week my Wish for you is that you consciously choose how to interpret the events that sprinkle into your days. If a peanut butter swiping Huli Wigman can bring joy to an orange-footed dirty girl in the middle of the rainforest in Papua New Guinea, perhaps joy can be found in every situation in any place in the world.

The choice is yours.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Wish (59); The Gifts of Tree

photo courtesy of Bob Faris

Many years ago, on sultry Southern day, I met a special tree. She lived at the end of a gravel road, not far from the sea, her branches reaching out like welcome arms to me. She was wise and she was calm, weathering hurricanes and floods, and temperatures that stung like bees. She saw the civil war, felt hate and ugly, fear and anger. She watched the world around her shift and expand, its people learn and unlearn, their hearts fear and grow…to love. And she did so over and over and over again, for she kept living, years and years and years.

And when it hurt oh, so very much, did she ever give up? Then how did she cope? How did she weather such storms of so many centuries?

She kept living.

She kept reaching out and over, up and through, and growing more and more into who she was always meant to be. She loved herself. She knew herself. She grew, herSelf.

And through her faith in her Self she bore fruit. She gave visitors the gift of solace and shade, an inner peace and an inner strength to keep growing, to keep looking forward, to keep reaching for the light when darkness is all the eye can see.

Her name is Angel Oak and she will forever be an angel to me.

*          *          *

Some days, life hurts. He forgets. She rolls her eyes. The car honks or the person on the other end of the phone says just the wrong thing. An unexpected bill comes, unkind news arrives, the rain falls harder, and the pain becomes stronger. Some days, the little bit of light in the darkness is so very hard to see. That’s when I return to nature, to let her heal me.

As winter moves in, a first for me in many years, I am drawn to the magic of the trees—revealed, naked, bare to their skeleton souls. Seen as they truly are. They lose almost everything and yet they don’t falter. They stand tall and have faith. They reach up, toward the light, and reach down, deeper, into their roots, to the core of who they really are.

*          *          *

This Thanksgiving, I wish each of you the gift of revealing to yourSelf who you really are, to be inspired, as I am, by the Gifts of Tree. Angel Oak, bare branches on a chilly eve, a swaying palm on the edge of your sea—let nature take you home, soothe the rough edges of your life, and give you back that Self that is so sacred, so raw and filled with life, that the hurtful bits peel away. For like the Angel Oak, when we reach with faith, ‘be’ who we really are, we ooze peace and share an inner knowing that life is good, ohhh, so very, very good. Yes, as it has always meant to be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Wish (58); I Am Love And Love is Me

We left early, just as the sun began to peek its head above the banana leaves. Little girl’s eyes were barely open as I buckled her into her car seat, her bears and dollies and books cradling her every side.
            “Yes, baby?”
            “Uh huh, we’re going to a new home now, far far away. Close your eyes now baby, go to sleep. Mommy will take care of you.”
            She smiled and held her bear tight.

The tires grumble over the cobblestones of my Sayulita home. I wave to store owners sweeping the sidewalk, to early risers waiting for rides to work, and with a deep breath, I breathe in the scent of the sea, of frying meats, of eggs—awaiting. My windows are open to take it all in. I don’t want to miss a thing.

The wind from my Mexican sea licks my tears. It sets me free.

Soon we rise up into the winding jungle hills, the birds and wildflowers giving smile but no more than my favorite roadside altar…candles lit for loved ones, for dreams past and future, for hope and love and peace. They all live there, oozing from its seams. I feel the magnificent beauty. And you can too…if you look, then close your eyes, to ‘see’. 

Construction workers smile and wave...

the landscape reaches in and cradles my heart…

I feel love around me, all around me. I am love and love is me.

Sugar cane.

A town called Tepic.

And back on a toll road toward Mazatlan.

I remember the news, the stories…the fears:

            “Lots of drug wars there, Brynne. Aren’t you afraid?”
            “I would never take my child on such a trip.”
            “People are killed there every day. Why drive? Fly.”
            “Are you crazy?”

My body tenses. My eyes harden. Until I realize that the poison has started to course through my veins. I breathe it out. Loosen its hold. And find my peace, that place where I am love, pure love, and love is me. And just as I do, I see men with machine guns, flagging me down.

            “My friends and family in the United States think you Mexicans are going to hurt me, that bandidos will kill me and my daughter. They said I was crazy to drive all this way. But you know what I told them? That I had angels protecting me and that even if I saw men with guns, I would find their hearts and connect with them there. I told them that Mexicans are good people, that the news makes things look much worse than it is.

            By now they were nodding in agreement with me. I was being heard, really heard. And I felt no fear. I was being love and love was returning to me.

            “I would like to show my friends in the United States that even if you have guns, you still have hearts, and not little hearts, either. Big hearts. Hearts that truly care. I want to show them what good people you really are. May I?”

            “Yes, yes. We would like that. Tell them that we are here to protect. Not to hurt. We are good people, not like the news says. Tell them, please.”

I leave exhilarated. No poison fear in me. 
Just love. 
I am love and love is me.

*          *          *

I pass beautiful scenes so few will ever see.

Fields and forests and bits of the sea. 

I meet people in toll booths, connect with their hearts and each time I drive away, I feel my heart grow. 

Mexico is heart-centered. 
Colorful and kind. 

She feeds me in ways my birthplace has not. She opens doors and secret passageways to hidden rooms in my soul. She is simple and genuine and perhaps more authentic than any land I have ever known. Driving her roads, a mother and my precious child, I bathe in her magic as I bid my temporary goodbyes.

I am love and love is me.

Just as you are love and you.

*          *          *

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wednesday Wish (57); BE LOVE

If she listened to the fear, she never would have known what was meant to heal her soul. They called her naïve, foolish, too innocent for her own good, a dreamer, an idealist, the woo-woo girl, anything to dismiss her daring as ridiculous. Anything to confirm that their fears were invited to speak much louder than her own. For she too, had fears. Sometimes they even made her legs tremble and her heart race. But never did she allow those fears to muzzle her heart. Instead, she dared to listen to the quiet, clear voice of her heart, to keep her eyes facing toward the light, and to always try her best to honor what felt right in the deepest part of her Self. So then, her fears quelled themselves, naturally. And the darkness fell back into the shadows...

So she moved to Mexico
To make her home,
But less alone than ever before.

And 8 years later, she gathered up her things, and drove back North
To make her new home
With her daughter.
Because that, too, felt right.

And along the way, she learned.
and Again,

*          *          *

When love is sparse, 
be love anyway.
Share your love, because
anything less,
doesn’t feel right.

Speak your heart
even when
fear suspects
your heart might not be heard.
For when you honor your heart,
your heart then

When faced with fear,
return it with love.
to the fear,
and watch that fear dissolve into smiles.

And taste a world