Meeting Marva

This is a story of friendship and the joy in meeting that friend in person today. I connected with Marva several years ago, on Facebook. We had friends and interests in common, and even more intriguing, our life journeys ran along similar paths. I just knew that if Marva and I had met as children, we would have become fast friends.

It’s never too late, however, to meet and create a beautiful relationship.

Marva lives in a small city in Kansas, about 3 1/2 hours from my small city in Missouri. Greg and I set out this morning on an adventure that culminated in lunch with Marva at Prairie Harvest, a wonderful blend of café and health food store, and appointments for each of us to experience one of her Peer Support sessions.

Marva brings her compassion, ability to listen deeply without judgment, and infectious sense of humor to a unique support opportunity aptly called Insight. The setting, equally supportive, is nicknamed the Living Room. Visitors are welcomed into the warm and inviting space and offered a choice of comfy chairs to relax in.

Marva shares that peer support is an intentional relationship built upon equality and common ground in life experience. Together, she says, we agree to forge a safe and accepting connection that inspires us to explore what matters, express why we care and imagine how we can grow.

And, Insight is an affordable option for everyone. Whatever the visitor makes per hour, work wise, is what he or she pays for an hour spent with Marva as she listens and reflects back wisdom.

After a delightful lunch, during which there was much chatting and laughter among the three of us, Greg and I took turns meeting with Marva. While I had my session, Greg explored shops along Main Street. And when Greg and I traded places at Insight, I returned to Prairie Harvest for tea time.

Greg and I agree that our conversations with Marva were fun, insightful, encouraging and uplifting. This dear woman immediately puts her guests at ease. She is extremely easy to talk to and I felt heard, appreciated and loved. There was joy, peace and happiness present in the room, contributing to teary eyes, laughter, reflection, and such profound acceptance.

Marva and I cracked up taking a selfie when we realized how similar our sweaters were!

Every once in a while, I meet someone for the first time, only to realize…I know this person. There is an instant connection, or perhaps it is a reconnection at last, as we journey through this life. Such was the case today, when meeting Marva. I was right. As children struggling with challenges that made us feel like misfits, we definitely would have found each other to be kindred spirits.

At this season in our lives, we are misfits no longer. We are wild women. We are free spirits. We are marching to the beats we drum…and having a blast. We both accept who we are, as we are, and that enables us to accept each other and everyone else, and celebrate together this joyous thing called Life.

Marva takes appointments for peer support sessions, in person and via phone or skype. You can contact her HERE. I highly recommend Insight. And may we all have a Marva for a friend. I am grateful that I do!

Red Beans & Rice…Without a Recipe

This is a short, and fun, story about cooking. For several years, I have had an increased interest in the culinary arts. It’s not that I can’t cook. I raised a family. I’ve been preparing meals for years. But for the most part, I have relied on recipes, carefully following each step precisely, or I fixed easily prepared fail proof meals like spaghetti.

Since changing my diet to plant based, I have discovered a new joy in preparing healthy, nutritious and tasty meals. There is a meditative quality to chopping vegetables and combining foods together, knowing I am caring for and nourishing my body at a deep level as it heals.

I follow friends and family on social media who inspire me with their pictures of beautifully prepared food. Most of them don’t follow a recipe, or they are creating one as they go. I have envied that ability. I don’t know if it’s my first born tendencies that have kept me recipe bound, or a fear of failure, or the concern that I will waste good food if my result is poor, but I have had a hard time with throwing a dish together with “a bit of this and a pinch of that”.

Recently though, I’ve been getting these mental downloads for meals, much as I do when I am creating a vignette. I can see the end result, the completed dish. Then I just have to figure out the process to get there. I was encouraged a couple of weeks ago when I created a four bean chili by adapting another recipe. Tonight, with fresh veggies in the fridge and some leftovers to use up, I had fun throwing caution aside and experiencing cooking as an adventure.

I began with a reliable base…diced onion, celery, carrots and minced garlic, sautéed in olive oil. I simply used what was on hand: half a yellow onion, half a bag of baby carrots, and a couple of stalks of celery. I keep minced garlic in a jar in the fridge. I added a small spoonful, and continued cooking until the veggies were tender.

Next I added brown rice left over from last night’s dinner, cooking and stirring until the rice was fragrant. I had a bowl in the fridge containing the remnants of a 15 bean cajun soup. You know how it is, at the bottom of the soup pot? What was left was mostly liquid. But that soup broth was wonderfully flavored with cajun seasonings, which is what inspired tonight’s red bean & rice meal. I added a can of organic red beans to the mixture, stirring until the beans and rice were heated through.

I enjoyed cooking tonight. This was not a difficult meal to prepare, however it was fun and very freeing to cook instinctively rather than following someone else’s recipe. And I feel good about using up leftovers that I would have eventually tossed into the trash otherwise.

Of course I will continue to use recipes. There are so many interesting ones available and I appreciate that. It was good for me though, to resist looking up recipes for red beans & rice and just go with what seemed right.

And you know what? My red beans & rice turned out great! What a homey, comforting and nutritious meal for a rainy evening. And, I made it myself.