Awareness, Believe, Compassion, Easter, Faith, Giving, God, Goodness, Grace, Hope, Inspiration, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Mindful, Moments, Real, Spiritual, Thoughts, Truth

Moments, Truths and Promises

Another year, another forty day journey and after these forty days, yet again, life has taught me even more about myself, people and the world. As I came off this journey, I found myself reflecting on what my initial intentions were, what had I learned and the realization that the journey never ends. This year, I wanted to understand more about moments. Holy Moments, that is. So here goes my story on how I got to my moment that was filled with truths and promises.

There are some things that I read or hear that just hit home and Day 8 of my journey began with listening to Matthew Kelly talk about the state of our current world and how it’s filled with many blurred lines. He says that for most, it is much easier to live in the gray than it is to admit there is a black and a white. He went on to say, there isn’t anyone who likes being lied to and yet in today’s culture, many have an increasingly casual relationship with the truth. But here was my moment, there’s a connection between truth and happiness and as our relationship with the truth becomes more casual, more slippery, as we continue to cross that line, for whatever reasons and whatever excuses we make for ourselves or justifications, not only are we erasing the line between the truth and lies, we’re actually erasing the line between happiness and misery. Let that sink in for a bit, along with an honest and real look at the current state of the world. There certainly is a direct connection between truth and lies and happiness and misery but it were the questions he asked that really made me think. What role are we willing to give truth in our lives? Do we want to put truth on a throne in our lives when it’s convenient and throw truth in the closet when it’s inconvenient? It reminds us of the importance of living in truth, especially when it comes to our happiness.

For me, it took a life changing moment where my personal relationship with the truth became something that eventually would define me. It became something I am consciously aware of and sometimes consumed by it. Some say, at times, I can be brutally honest and other times, mute and maybe there’s some truth in both. Sometimes I will call you out on the lie and then there are times I won’t give the lie any life and I just walk away, silently. A casual relationship with the truth doesn’t have a place in my life. Maybe it did once but not anymore. For me, when it comes to the truth, there is no gray, it’s simply just black and white. To some, it may seem harsh but I just like keeping it real. I like living life in that space and fake or being untruthful just doesn’t work for me. But here’s the thing, it was the thin line between happiness and misery that made me think even more…if you’re living a life of misery, does that mean you’re living a life of lies? Hmmm…

Then in the middle of my journey, something unexpected happened to someone that not only matters to me but to a lot of other people. There were moments of some chaos, a lot of concern, a little panic and a bit of confusion. There were moments where I felt challenged and I thought I was being called upon to show my strength, courage, leadership and capabilities. There were moments where the people that surrounded me showed the true colors of their character. There were moments where some showed that they cared and were supportive. There were moments where some showed how selfless they were and just rolled up their sleeves and stepped up and stepped in.

Unfortunately, there were many who fell into the category of the selfish and the self centered. You know, the group we call, “it’s all about me”. There were moments where I felt they were waiting for me to fail. There were moments where they tested my patience. However, it were in those moments of pure silence, where I knew this wasn’t about me, it was about taking care of business for someone else. Each day I would sit quietly with my thoughts and I would ask Him to please give me the strength and guidance towards what was right. I felt he was telling me I had to rise above it all. I had to stay focused. I had to push myself to get through it all. I had to dig in and take control. I just knew I couldn’t fail someone, who never failed me but I found myself wondering…am I being tested? Would this be considered a Holy Moment?

It was during Holy Week where I found myself reflecting, quite often, about people and still not fully understanding what was a true Holy Moment. And there it was, in just the right moment and in black and white, a story about how Holy Moments have an incredible power. It said the definition of a Holy Moment is where you set aside your self interest, where you set aside what you feel like doing and you have a conversation with God and you say, “Alright, God, what do you want me to do in this moment?” And then you do exactly what you feel God is calling you to do in that moment. That’s a Holy moment. And they tend to be filled with kindness and love and generosity and patience and thoughtfulness and courage. Holy Moments are filled with all of these things and they are so incredibly attractive. It’s when you keep doing this over and over again that people realize…”Wow, this is a part of who this person really is.”

When I read those words, I recognized that not only did I have a few Holy Moments over those days and weeks, I also had many over my lifetime but still I felt this moment wasn’t about me. Here’s the thing, those words described and reminded me of a few people who have touched my life in many ways. From where I sit, those few, touch everyone’s life with nothing but good and greatness and most certainly, they do it unconditionally. I am forever grateful for their kindness, generosity, patience and more importantly, their presence in my life. I can only hope that from where they sit, they see me and my life in the same light.

Needless to say, I survived those days and weeks and in the end when you receive a simple card of thanks that says, “For some people comfort is just a word, for you, it’s a way of life. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do. You make life warmer and more meaningful in so many ways. There will always be a warm spot in my heart for what you did for me and my family in our hour of need.” It’s in that moment that you realize this is a moment…a Holy Moment.

Today, this I know for sure, even during life’s most challenging moments, we can all find the strength to rise above the blurred lines, to move past our casual relationship with the truth and strive towards being more kind, loving, caring, generous, patient and courageous towards all of humanity. It is in that place that you will find that Holy Moments happen more often and trust this, when you surround yourself with the people who truly care about you and they grace your life with nothing but kindness, love and unconditional support, be grateful for each and every one of them. They are a gift of promise to bring good to your life and it’s when you just silently stand still…grace with find you. Promise.

Believe, Faith, Hope, Life, Love, Relationships, Thoughts, Truth

The Gifts From The Love I Lost

Who knew nearly a decade later the love you lost could possibly be your last sweet love and yet today, it’s still one that is so difficult to talk about without getting emotional, without your voice cracking and without stumbling over your words. Who knew the person, who some questioned as you possibly selling yourself short, would turn into that love you find yourself, regrettably, thinking you should of worked harder at mending and one you should have never walked away from. It’s in those quiet moments that the memories of that kind of love show up unannounced and there are times those memories come back with a haunting vengeance. There is no clear history button and there’s no shutting the emotion out. You start to pointlessly replay events in your head, ceaselessly analyzing, obsessively scrutinizing your actions and wallowing in some regret.

While I truly understand, I only have the power to change the present moment, I often think incessantly about the past and start wondering if I only had the awareness of being in the present moment back then, would it have turned out differently? It took me years to learn and I’m still learning the importance of being present to receive love, and to feel appreciation and gratitude. In those moments of reflection, I now realize so many opportunities were lost because I wasn’t living in the moment. I have learned that being present is about getting real and continually digging out the buried wounds that are hidden under layers of a very protective shell. With every life encounter, I am learning how to become still long enough to take a pause, to breathe and to ask myself an important question, “What is this life experience here to show me or to teach me?”

While I still have a lot to learn and a fair amount of life left to experience, today, this is what I know for sure…maybe it’s after a good cry and when you stop feeling sad that you’re able to see clearly as to what that relationship revealed to you and what it taught you. You’re able to see the relationship for want is was and as you walk away, you choose to remember the gifts the love you lost gave you. It’s the gifts of their good qualities, their good character and their vulnerable side that no one else knows or has had the privilege to witness or experience. It’s the gift of knowing you will love them always. It’s the gift of the positive influence and memory that they have left behind with those that you love. It’s those gifts that you choose to hold near and dear to your heart. It’s those gifts that you will always cherish with gratitude. It’s those gifts that keep you in that place of hope with believing that one day you will get to feel that love, again and it’s those gifts that you have learned from. But the true gift is knowing that “once love” gave you the ultimate gift of words…”you deserved better.”

So you see, it’s not about the love you lost, it’s about the love you shared and always be grateful for that love. And it’s that gift that I choose to always remember and cherish…we loved each other. ❤️

I wish you joy, peace, health, love and hope in 2018. Happy New Year!

Simply Deborah

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhtFzdpudOk&feature=share

Awareness, Compassion, Life Experiences, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Thoughts, Truth

It’s Just Wrong. Period.

I find myself struggling with how sexual assault or physical or verbal abuse of any kind or at any level have become normalized or are attempted to be justified or considered acceptable behavior or are being defended in many ways, shape or form and in some circles, thought to be humorous. For me, it will always be absolutely unacceptable behavior, disgraceful, despicable, appalling, dangerous, shameful and it ultimately diminishes who we all are as people when we become so accepting and tolerant of such inappropriate behavior.

Here’s a thought, maybe, just maybe we should be embracing, applauding and supporting every woman or man, who have found the courage to finally come forward and speak their silence, truth and pain. And maybe, just maybe we should consider being grateful and thankful that it’s not our son or daughter or ourselves that have lived with the pain, the shame, the manipulation, the lies and the silence for so many years. Or maybe it is and they just haven’t found their own strength or voice or courage to speak their own story…yet.

In this place we call life, I have learned that there is a story behind every face. A story that if you listen closely, carefully, compassionately and without judgment, their story may break your heart (myself included). I have also learned that before you judge or speak, you need to pause, take a breath and take a moment to think about what it would feel like to walk in their shoes for a day or two or even years. It just might wake us all up from our own unconsciousness.

This I know for sure, if I have only one purpose in this life, it has always been to teach my children and grandchildren that it is never acceptable to allow anyone to treat you badly, inappropriately or make you feel uncomfortable or shame you, under any and all circumstances and vice versa. While the conversations may seem uncomfortable, they need to happen on every level. They need to be had at home, in the workplace, in the entertainment industry and in all branches and at all levels of government. No exceptions and the message should be strong and clear across the board…zero tolerance with any and all acts of inappropriate behavior.

When we have a choice, I hope we all choose kindness, respect, love and grace. God knows, the world that surrounds us all, needs a lot more love, compassion, respect, consciousness, understanding and more people just doing right.

Period.

Awareness, Diverticulitis, Diverticulosis, Eating Clean, Eating Heathly, Food, Lessons Learned, Life, Relationships, Thoughts

Food Relationships

“Prayer leads us to catch a glimpse of the-best-version-of-ourselves and it helps us to develop the virtue necessary to celebrate our best selves.” ~ Matthew Kelly

Every Sunday morning, I look forward to reading Maria Shriva’s words because I just love the way she writes and how she keeps everything real. Last night, after getting hit with another flare up from diverticulitis, this morning, on so many levels, her words just hit home…”I used to think that I could eat whatever I wanted, for however long I wanted. I was wrong. Bad choices catch up to you. Before you know it, you could be that one that cancer decides to knockout. You could be the person that Alzheimer’s decides to take hold of. Make your health (especially your brain health) a priority. And, while you are at it, get to the bottom of your relationship with food. Cookies are not a substitute for real love. They don’t love you back. Trust me. Candy, cake and Swedish fish don’t either. Rest is critical to your mental and physical well-being, so make time for it. No one else is going to give it to you.”

For me, it has been a six month learning experience with getting to the bottom of the things that aggravate my relationship with food and for a person who has a love relationship with cooking great and delicious food, this has been a challenge. But this I know for sure, I can no longer eat whatever I want and we are given one life and one body…so why abuse it? And there’s no reason why healthy food choices can’t taste delicious, savory and decadent. Trust me, you just have to be consistent, a little adventurous and very creative with making and finding the right food choices.

As my food research and experimenting journey continues and while I am savoring over a liquid diet for the next few days (not!), I share with you just some of the foods that don’t irritate or aggravate my digestive system. I have learned that finding the right foods is not a one size fits all. It’s individualize and your body dictates what your own right choices should be. The real challenge will be in rethinking and adjusting my Christmas Eve menu. Well, at least my own Christmas Eve food choices…that is. In the meantime, it’s back to eating clean and eating healthy and with no exceptions…making my health a priority. That’s what I am thinking about on this rainy, yet beautiful Sunday morning. ❤️

Stuffed Peppers with Turkey, Rice and Black Beans

Organic Cottage Cheese with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Grilled Organic Chicken and Eggplant on Whole Grain Bread

Grilled Organic Chicken Tenders with Lemon and Cilantro with Grilled Eggplant and Broccolini

Sautéed Organic Tofu with Garlic, Lime, Cilantro and Green Beans

Organic Greek Yogurt Egg Salad Baguette with Arugula and Baby Cucumbers

Panko Crusted Baked Organic Chicken Tenders Wrap

Broiled Citrus and Garlic Wild-Caught Salmon over Organic Baby Spinach

Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Lettuce Wraps

Mediterranean Farro Salad

Quinoa with Grilled Organic Chicken, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Eggplant

Egg White Omelet with Garden Tomatoes and Hot Peppers

Roasted Organic Acorn Squash stuffed with Organic Turkey Chili

Creamy Bacon Mushroom Organic Chicken Thighs with Thyme

Organic Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins Cod Fish Tacos with Crema, Guacamole, Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw and Pickled Red Onions

Believe, Daughter, Dreams, Family, Father, Father's Day, Lessons Learned, Life, Relationships, Uncategorized

Dance With My Father Again

“It’s only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home — it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love.” ~ Margaret Truman

dad1

It’s has been many years since my Dad left us, and with each passing year, whether it is the anniversary of his death, his birthday, or Father’s Day, the pain of losing him may have somewhat lessened but as the years pass, and as I get older, I find I miss his presence more, and more. I miss his voice, his gentle hand, and kisses, his huge hugs, his smile, and his special laugh but what I miss the most is talking with him.

I didn’t always feel this way about my Dad. Growing up, there were many times I didn’t like him but I knew I always loved him. He was a man of few words but his presence was always known. He was a very strict father, who disciplined, and ruled with an iron hand, and I was the “rebel with a cause”, who was going to break his strict discipline beliefs, and during my teenage years, it was my mission in life. He most certainly knew I was going to be his challenge, and I most certainly gave him a run for his money.

I often think of the man he was, and I have come to terms with many things in my life, and I now have a much better understanding of his way of thinking, and disciplining. I wish I would have understood him sooner, as I believe we could have had a much closer relationship during the important years of our lives. If we did, we could have talked through many of our disagreements rather than battling it out.

Today, I understand that he didn’t know how to be any other way because it was what he had learned, and what we learn is what we pass on from generation to generation, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Until one day, someone steps up to the plate, and changes the cycle, and I think that was my mission. While his discipline tactics were not always the best, in his mind, he was protecting his daughters in the only way he knew how, and saw fit. He didn’t want his daughters to make the same mistakes he did but by sheltering us, he didn’t realize he wasn’t allowing his daughters to grow, and learn from their mistakes.

I can sit here, and dwell on all of the bad, the harsh discipline but what would any of that change. Really, nothing. Today, I remember the great things about a man I called Dad until he became a grandfather, and from then on he was only referred to as Poppy. The key thing to remember is how much he loved his daughters, his wife, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and the things he taught all of us, and more importantly, me.

He was a thin, good looking young man, with a dream, when he left San German, Puerto Rico, to come to New York. I am not sure what he did between the years that he arrived in New York, and when he met my mother at the age of 27 but my good guess, he more than likely was a ladies man, an impeccable dresser, and he probably had an air about himself that appeared intimidating, and somewhat standoffish. That’s my take, and when he met, and married my mother, he took charge to provide for her, and even more so when their daughters came along.

He was a spray painter for many years, and worked for a marketing exhibit company, painting promotional exhibits for name brand products, and services, which were displayed at conventions but his dream was bigger. It was always to own a restaurant, and my mother, who was one of the most conservative people I knew when it came to money, along with being a realist, and nowhere near a risk taker stood by her husband, and supported his dream.

They opened a small luncheonette in Mount Vernon, right on the borderline to the Bronx, and he was in his glory, and stood proud the day the sign went up, and there it was, Dave’s Luncheonette. This happened so much later in their life together but to him it was the beginning of what was yet to come. Remember, he was a dreamer. They both worked very hard, and long hours. They were up at 5am, and at the luncheonette by 5:30am, and ready for their first customer strolling in for coffee, and breakfast at 6am. There were many times during my father’s bouts with his heart issues, and when he was hospitalized that my sister’s, and I had to step in, and open the store with our mother. Oh, those 5am mornings were killers for me. Opening those gates, bringing in the fresh bread, and newspapers that were waiting at the door. Putting on the pots of coffee, heating up the grills, and greeting customers with a smile at 6am. Really, it’s much too early for smiles. The days seemed endless, along with the end of day routine of cleaning the place, and preparing it for the next day. My parents did this for close to 20 years in Mount Vernon, and again, remember my father was the dreamer, and bigger was still his goal.

Over the years, the neighborhood started changing, and after the luncheonette was broken into several times, they moved onto my Dad’s next dream, Dobbs Ferry, and opened Dave’s Charcoal Corner. A bigger place with more counter seats, and probably five times more tables than the Mt Vernon place. Bigger but still only breakfast, and lunch. By now, I had a career in banking, children, and I stood back, at a distance, and watched how hard they worked in the later years of their life, and I only helped out when absolutely necessary. My Dad was the cook, and my mother was the brains behind the pricing, and how to make a profit. No one handled the cash register nor the checkbook but her. She served the food at the counter seats, while a waitress handled the tables, which more often than not were my sisters on the weekends, along with my daughter during her college years. Me, oh, I was known as the black sheep of their daughters. Very rarely to be seen at the restaurant but when I did not have a choice, I groaned, and moaned all the way through it, and went home smelling like a greasy hamburger.

My Dad became known for making the best home fries, omelets, burgers, pancakes, soups, and more. This was the happiest time of his life, and his personality could easily get him side tracked from the grill to have a conversation with any regular customer, which is when my mother would take over the grill with a huff. It was kind of comical, at times but as the years went by, the aging process, and my Dad’s health were catching up. He was slowing down, and while it was hard for him to accept, after a small grease fire, we knew it was time for them to sell the business, and retire. I truly believe he wished he had pursued his dream much earlier in life but he had a good run for nearly 30 years.

How ironic it is that history repeated itself. Who knew my passion in life would turn to cooking, and also, begin so much later in my life. During a visit with our family accountant, he said to me, “You should have taken over your parents restaurant.” I didn’t have a vision back then of cooking, I was working towards a career in banking, which turned out to be a successful one. I fought my father tooth, and nail to not have any part of the business. I had such a dislike for it, and maybe part of it was how hard they worked, the long hours, and while it was his dream, it wasn’t mine, and it certainly wasn’t my mother’s but she was committed to him, and doing whatever made him happy. I have no right to judge that kind of sacrifice, and my point to this story is about all of the valuable lessons I learned from a man, who I battled with for many years.

My regret is that he is not here today for me to tell him, face to face, how grateful I am for all of the life lessons, values, the unconditional love, and the importance of believing, and following your dreams that I learned from him. He taught me hard work is a given. He taught me how to love my children unconditional, and the importance of being there for them through the good, and the bad. He taught me that you never give up on your children. He taught me the importance of family. He taught me to be courteous. He taught me respect. He taught me the importance of being a lady. He taught me the importance of presenting, and representing yourself well, and with class. He taught me that sometimes silence is golden.

It took me many years to realize, and learn the most valuable lesson of all from my father, to grasp every moment because you never know when it can be taken away from you, in a minute, and without any notice. I am grateful that I got to dance my last dance with my Dad on my 45th birthday. It was in his hospital room, just a few weeks before he passed, and I still wish every day that I could dance with my father again, and to hear him whisper in my ear, “I love you, Debbie Ann.”

daddance

While the day of his passing will always be a blurry memory, it is the priceless memory of our life together that will be a vivid one for eternity. It’s an example of a great love, commitment, sacrifice, and no matter how many years that have passed, it doesn’t change the fact that even though my Poppy is not in front of my eyes any longer, his picture is in my heart, and my mind, and will remain unspoiled forever.

“It doesn’t matter who my father was, it matters who I remember he was.” ~ Anne Sexton

 

 
http://www.vevo.com/watch/luther-vandross/dance-with-my-father/USJRV0300079