I love words and recently a new one came into my awareness. I’ve been involved in studies to develop and broaden my intuition. I have a very strong intuitive sense, however I am always interested in learning more and growing into the person I am meant to be.
The word is adsum. It is a Latin word that first came into use in the late 16th century, when it appeared in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Adsum means “I am here”, and it was often used in response to a roll call. The word has fallen out of use today.
This is what has come to be meaningful to me. Whispering or thinking the word adsum is a way to gently redirect my awareness back to the present moment…I am here. When my thoughts have slipped into the past, or they are busy creating stories about the future, adsum is a command word that brings my attention to the now, where I can attend to myself or the people or situations that require my focus. I am here.
I love the beauty of this simple word. Several times this past week, I have halted my run away mind by quietly uttering adsum…I am here. Immediately my awareness shifts. It helps me to take in my surroundings fully and completely and state where I am. I am here in the shower. The warm spray of water feels wonderful. I am here. All is well.
Last night, after I turned off the light, I lay in bed, cocooned by the darkness. As I became drowsy, my new word drifted into my mind. Adsum. Adsum. I am here. To my surprise, my chakras…the seven energy centers in the body…fired up. Colors appeared behind my closed eyelids. Red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, indigo and violet blooms expanded and then faded away, as energy moved upwards from my base chakra to my crown chakra.
It was an amazing experience, activated by bringing my awareness fully into the moment and keeping my focus there. I felt undone, open, and full of love and light. Adsum. I am here.
I had the opportunity to work on my family tree for a short time today. As I looked at the hints that Ancestry.com provides, and cleaned up profiles, I was delighted to come across photos of my great grandmother, Cynthia Ann Blevins McCool. My first name comes from this petite woman, creating a strong connection between us. Happily, my name is not the only thing I have of Grandma Cynthia’s. Her washstand is tonight’s Vintage Story.
The oak washstand, which my mother estimates to be at least 100 years old, has served in several ways through several generations.
Mom remembers the heavy piece of furniture being in her grandmother’s house when she was a young girl. At that time the washstand stood taller, on longer legs, and was pressed into service as an ice box. Back in the 1940s it was common to have a wooden cabinet that was used to hold perishable foods and a huge block of ice. Mom said Grandma Cynthia’s son would fetch the ice and place it in a metal container that was then stored in the ice box. Apparently the young man was somewhat forgetful and would often wander back home, after being sent to fetch the block of ice, empty handed.
Benjamin and Cynthia McCool, early 1900s, with their son Rufus. They would eventually have 8 children. Their daughter Mildred was my maternal grandmother.
My great grandma Cynthia as I remember her.
Later, after Grandma got an electric refrigerator, the washstand was used to hold towels and linens. By the early 1960s, my mother had the cabinet in her possession. I remember the washstand, which was looking a bit battered by then, occupying different rooms in our Tulsa, Oklahoma house. During the 60s and 70s there was a home decor trend called antiquing. A dark base coat was used to cover a piece of wooden furniture, and then a top coat was applied. Using a sponge or a rag, the second coat of paint was partially wipe off, giving the furniture a “distressed” look. Mom antiqued the washstand, and for many years it was a dark green color.
In the mid 70s, Greg actually refinished the chest for my mom, using the same antiquing process, and changed the color from green to gold. When Mom and my stepdad moved to Arizona for a few years, the old washstand came to me, since I was Grandma Cynthia’s namesake. By then the drawer was falling apart and couldn’t be opened, and one of the doors on the front had broken in two. I was thrilled however to have a piece of furniture that belonged to my great grandmother. Fearing further damage, I covered the gold antiqued chest with a small table cloth and used it as a low table in various rooms in my house.
The fragile paper label on the back of the washstand, indicating it was part of a three piece suit of furniture. Unfortunately, there’s no company or manufacturer name. I couldn’t find any additional info about this piece online. The name JL Parker is also scrawled across the back in black ink. Mom does not recognize the name.
In 2010 Greg surprised me by completely stripping the old washstand and staining it with a dark finish, returning the chest to its original look. He repaired the drawer so that it opens and closes and rebuilt the damaged front door. I was beyond excited to see the finished washstand looking much as it must have when Grandma Cynthia owned it, other than being approximately six inches shorter. The washstand has a place of honor in the corner of my bedroom. I use the base to stash linens and lightweight blankets. The drawer is filled with small keepsakes and pieces of jewelry. I frequently change the vignettes on the top of the chest.
I think of my great grandmother whenever I dust the washstand surface or create a new vignette. Grandma Cynthia passed away in 1974. She was a life loving woman, with an infectious laugh and a fiery temper. She loved her family and going on adventures. That desire to travel and see the world has passed down to my mother, and to me, and now to my children and grandchildren. I think Cynthia Ann Blevins McCool would laugh with glee about that.
I love this vintage piece. What a history it’s had, as a practical washstand, an ice box, a funky antiqued chest, a simple table and now as a linen cabinet. It has passed through the women in my family and I will someday hand it on to one of my daughters, a sturdy reminder of the strength of love and family and endurance.
I purchased a new iPhone recently. After acquiring a new phone, there’s always work to do, such as setting up email accounts, creating notes, and downloading apps and music that have been purchased previously. Today I took a few minutes to create a couple of playlists in my Music app. I knew I’d be in the car this afternoon and when I’m alone and driving, I don’t listen to the radio, I listen to the music on my iPhone.
I created a playlist that I named Inspiration, and I carefully chose 15 songs, from the 305 on my phone, to add to the list. These are the songs that currently touch my heart and soul in some way. They remind me of who I am and what my purpose is, and they encourage me on my journey. It’s a very eclectic mix that includes tunes from movie soundtracks, a few old favorites, and even bagpipes.
As I drove home early this evening, I cruised along, listening to my new playlist. That’s when I realized something odd had happened.
I was toward the end of my Inspiration playlist, when a song I did NOT add began to play. I was driving so I glanced briefly at my phone, to see if I had somehow exited my playlist. I had not. And yet, a song from the movie soundtrack August Rush was playing, Someday by John Legend. It’s a beautiful and haunting song that instantly created an ache around my heart, but how did it end up on the list? I have the entire August Rush soundtrack in my music library…but I had not listened to Someday in a long time, and it is not a song that I would label as inspirational. I hit the pause button.
When I arrived home I sat in the car and checked my playlist. There was Someday, added not once, not twice, but eight times. The song didn’t just mysteriously show up on my list, it was added a bunch of times! I wish I would have had the presence of mind to take a screenshot, but I was trying to puzzle it out. I deleted seven of the Someday titles, however I left one. Anytime something unusual or synchronous shows up repeatedly, I pay attention. Repetition is a Divine sign, a signal that here is something I need to know or learn. And, the number eight is significant. It represents new beginnings. I wanted to know what the message was for me, in John Legend’s Someday.
I listened to the song over and over, first while still sitting in the car and then as I was preparing dinner. The song is a heart cry for reconnection with a lost love. One of the movie’s main characters, Louis, expresses the hope that someday he will have another chance to be with the woman he loved as a youth, and loves still.
My first reaction was to reject the song and the message. It didn’t seem to be intended for me after all. Other people came to mind, who could relate to this song and its message, but the story the song tells is not my story. If Someday had not been added to my playlist eight times, I would have simply deleted it and that would be the end of this story. But…that repetition was like a tap on the shoulder and a whisper. Listen. Ironically, that word is a theme throughout the August Rush movie. And my elevated heart rate and the ache in my chest confirmed it. Listen…listen again.
I did. I listened twice more. I looked up the lyrics. These words stood out to me:
I heard someday might be today
mysteries of destinies
they are somehow and are someway
for all we know they come tomorrow
for today my eyes are open
my arms are raised for your embrace
my hands are here to mend what’s broken…
I stayed open. I let my heart stay open, even though, truthfully, it wanted to close and declare, This song is not for me. And then, as I listened to the song one more time, I saw an image of myself as a little girl, a lost little girl. I’ve been doing inner work to reconnect with my young self, and ease her fears and heal her pain, show her unconditional love and let her know it’s all okay…I survived. I did more than survive. I came to appreciate and embrace all the parts of me that she tried to hide away and distance herself from.
In the light of this fresh understanding…reconnecting with myself, my younger self…this song does have a message for me. The words bypassed my logical mind and hit me right in the heart, and subtle energy that had been swirling around in my chest for many years finally worked its way through and left. That someday has arrived for me. My wee self and my mature self have found their way back to each other and love binds us together.
Oh, the sweet mysteries of life and the strange and amazing ways of the Divine. Someday will stay on my playlist…for a few days or for many days…until I’ve received from it all that is intended for me.
I was not able to turn my attention to the final summer hygge challenge, until shortly after sunset. The lateness of the day wasn’t a problem, except that I selected an outdoor activity. I drew out this slip of paper for today:
Play in the Water
Water play is such a fun, traditional summertime activity. I don’t have a backyard pool, however I have a backyard garden. Which means I have an assortment of water hoses and sprinklers. One of my favorite ways to cool off quickly as a child was to play in the spray from the garden hose. I was thoughtful as I looked outside. Light was quickly fading from the sky. If I was going to accomplish this task, it was a now or never situation. I decided to go for it.
I confess, I don’t even own a swimsuit, so my first consideration was what to wear as I played in the water. I made a quick decision to slip on a long, lightweight tie-dyed dress, primarily because I could mentally “see” myself playing in the sprinkler while wearing it.
I changed clothes, grabbed a towel and my iPhone, and hurried outside. For tonight’s water play I used a resin sprinkler, that looks like a wheelbarrow piled high with flowers. Hooking up the hose and turning on the faucet sent water spraying through the sprinkler, in a wide circular pattern.
With child-like glee, I stepped into the spray. The high temperature today was 95 degrees…creating hot and humid conditions. I’m not sure what the temperature had fallen to at 8:30 in the evening, but the water that rained down on me felt cold! I squealed and then laughed.
I had two thoughts, as I frolicked in the water: My long dress clung to me as the material became soaked, making me think of the old fashioned bathing suits women used to wear, that covered most of the body. And I hoped the neighbors weren’t watching as a mature woman danced around in the sprinkler, playing in the water while trying not to get too wet!
That last thought broke through any reserve that I had left. I played in the water, in earnest, feeling refreshed now rather than chilled. And I did indeed get soaked.
The last seven days have been fun, as I’ve welcomed summer with a different hygge activity each day. Drawing out a random slip of paper daily solidified my belief that when I stay in Life’s flow, and pay attention to Divine guidance, the people, events, opportunities and activities that come to me are perfect for that moment.
I love living a magical, enchanted life that is never dull or boring but inspires me to engage creatively, live openly, learn continually and play with joyful abandon. Happy summer.
As a child, one of the highlights of summer was making homemade ice cream. My mom would prepare the ice cream mix, warming it on the stove. My dad would pick up the rock salt and bags of ice. We had a manual ice cream maker, requiring my sisters and me to take turns cranking and cranking the handle. I have sweet memories of the metal container spinning occasionally in layers of ice and salt, of cold water trickling out of the drain hole, of the clank clank clank of the handle as it turned…and of our excited squeals when the handle became too difficult to crank, signifying that the ice cream had solidified. It was almost ready. How difficult it was to wait as the ice cream chilled for a bit and ripened.
No wonder making ice cream at home is considered a summer hygge activity. It involves connection, simple pleasures, and being outside, unless a sudden summer shower forced the whole production into a garage.
By the time I had children of my own, we had an electric ice cream maker. The kids didn’t have to turn the handle but rock salt and bags of ice were still required and the end result was the same…cold, creamy soft ice cream.
I no longer eat dairy products or eggs or sugar, which means I no longer eat tradition ice cream. However, I was excited to draw this activity today.
Make ice cream.
The memories of making ice cream in the summer, as a child and as a mother with children, warmed my heart as I thought about carrying out this fun activity. There is a simple and healthy plant based alternative to ice cream. I just needed some overripe bananas.
Frozen Banana Treat
4 overripe bananas, sliced and then frozen for at least 4 hours.
Place frozen banana slices in a food processor or high speed blender. Blend in 30 – 60 second increments, pausing to push banana mixture down off of the sides of the blender and onto the blades. Continue blending and scraping, until mixture changes from coarse to smooth and creamy, about 5 – 6 minutes.
From slices of frozen banana…
…to smooth, thick, creamy ice cream.
The secret of frozen banana treat is to not give up! It looks like the mixture is not going to change. Keep going. Keep blending for 30 seconds, and then 60 seconds, pausing to scrape down the sides and push the mixture onto the blades. Suddenly, the mixture begins to get creamy, along the bottom of the blender first, and then the creaminess spreads upward until the entire contents look like soft serve ice cream.
Stop blending when that happens. The frozen treat can be spooned into two bowls and eaten immediately or popped into the freezer for an hour or more, to harden. I enjoy the soft serve consistency and eat my treat as soon as it is finished. I don’t have to wait, like I did as a child!
Before I began the process of blending the frozen bananas, I sliced fresh strawberries and combined them with local blackberries and frozen wild blueberries and set aside. This delicious mix would serve as topping for my treat.
I enjoyed making my own version of homemade ice cream tonight. After a veggie bowl of steamed zucchini, slow cooked green beans and new potatoes, and fresh tomatoes, this cold delectable banana treat was the perfect end to the evening meal. No sugar. No dairy. No eggs. No rock salt or bags of ice either. Just the simplicity of frozen bananas with a mixed berry topping. It was wonderful.
I had to get creative today, with the Summer Hygge Challenge. It was not possible to do the activity that I selected, exactly as specified. I could have tossed it back and drawn another folded slip of paper. However, I believe that the “randomness” of selecting the activities is not really random at all. There are deeper lessons to learn. I accepted the activity as the one I was meant to have.
Go On a Road Trip
On this busy Monday, with many items on my “to do” list, a road trip was out of the question. I opened up to other possibilities, other ways to experience such a journey.
I considered options. I could watch a movie about a road trip, later in the day. I could go on an adventure in my imagination. Or…I could plan a road trip, one that I could experience at a later date.
That idea appealed to me. And then another thought took that idea and expanded it.
Greg and I both took DNA tests last December, through Ancestry.com. With our combined results, we could offer a complete ancestry picture to our three children. Greg has been busy the last six months building an impressive family tree of his ancestors. He’s gotten back seven generations, and has family lines that originated in Germany, Ireland, England and Scotland.
I’ve barely begun creating my online tree, however I’ve done much research in the past. I can trace family lines back many generations, to countries that include Scotland, Ireland, France, Wales and England, and the regions of Western Europe and Scandinavia.
Ancestry.com provides a wealth of information with the DNA results, including migration maps. Looking at my mother’s line, the Gregorys, and my father’s line, the Lauderdales, I can trace their paths from countries across the ocean to the Virginia and Connecticut areas, and then west to Kentucky and Tennessee, and ultimately Missouri and northern Arkansas.
Greg’s family entered the US via New York and Pennsylvania. He has plotted the migration of his family members west across the Midwest, using a map. His family stayed further north as they moved westward, until they too settled in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.
What if? What if we planned a road trip that allowed Greg and me to visit the states where our ancestors lived and walked and birthed children and died…as they trekked across America? I’ve been inspired by the television show, Who Do You Think You Are?, on TLC, as people discover their roots and then travel to learn more about their ancestors’ lives.
How amazing it would be to visit the east coast towns where our ancestors first took up residency, and to figuratively walk in their footsteps. I’ve had very few trips out east. It’s time to change that. Driving would allow us to trace Greg’s family routes across the upper Midwest on our journey east, and then follow my family’s trek across the lower Midwest on the return trip.
We have much planning yet to do, and more family research to accomplish, but today we began with excited discussions about where we would go. We intend to focus on several primary family lines, as with each generation back, the number of family lines doubles. However, we would attempt to explore as many ancestral connections as possible. At the conclusion of our road trip we would have info and stories to pass on to our children and grandchildren about their roots.
I’m grateful that I drew an “impossible” activity from my hygge jar. It’s the impossible things that open up new opportunities and show me what is truly achievable.
During this 7 day challenge, I’ve been drawing my folded slips of paper the night before each new day, due to the fact that some hygge activities require more thought and planning than others. For example, if I drew “Watch a sunrise and a sunset” the day of, I guarantee that I would have already missed the sun coming up.
So when I drew Experience a Thunderstorm While Sipping Tea, I immediately checked the weather forecast. Although rain was indeed in the forecast, I had concerns. Lately our chances of rain have evaporated without the hoped for precipitation. I went to bed with a back up plan. If the thunderstorms didn’t materialize, I was positive I could locate a video of a thunderstorm in progress somewhere on the web.
I need not have been concerned. I awoke to a gentle rain that soon became a downpour. Time to brew a cup of tea!
I carried my hot tea…lemon balm, thyme and fennel seeds…out onto the front deck, to sit in the porch swing and enjoy nature’s show. The air was cool and fresh smelling. Rain pelted the sidewalks and ground and beaded up on the leaves of my beloved redbud tree.
Although my weather app radar showed thunderstorms in the area, I only experienced the steady cleansing rain. However, my fraidy cat, Shy Boy, must have heard the distant rumble of thunder with his sensitive hearing. He bolted for the front door, ears laid back, body low to the porch floor. He hid in the house, which is his usual response to thunder, fireworks, the weekly trash truck! More thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon, but I chose to seize the opportunity that the morning showers brought.
I sipped my hot tea, savored the coziness of the moment, and watched the neighbor kids frolic in the rain. They had the right idea, and kudos to their mom for allowing them the freedom to play in the rain. Their evident joy and enthusiasm made me smile.
I enjoyed that sacred time, watching the rain, listening to the rain, as I sipped my herbal tea. Even falling from the sky as rain, water soothes. It nourishes the thirsty earth and the parched soul, bestows peace and calm, and slows the breathing and heart rate. Water…whether it is rain, a river or the sea…reminds me to stay fluid and to flow.
This morning it was good that I prepared my tea and experienced the rain shower that was offered to me. Those afternoon thunderstorms never arrived. They are now predicted to roll in at midnight.
After a full week, it was such a joy to select today’s summer hygge activity. I drew this one out of the jar:
Slow Down for a Day
I felt ready for such an activity!
The idea behind a slow down day is to observe life, listen, rest, take naps, eat lightly, savor fruits and vegetables and take time to enjoy life. With the exception of taking a nap, that’s precisely how I spent my day.
I visited the Webb City Farmer’s Market, one of my happy places, to pick up fresh tomatoes, zucchini and onions. The energy was high beneath the pavilion as people shopped for produce or visited with friends. I love the farmer’s market. It’s the ideal space in which to slow down, browse and pick up locally raised foods for healthy summer meals. I especially love the way that the market smells! Stacks of freshly cut herbs make me giddy as I pause to inhale the fragrant scents.
I puttered in my gardens today, barefoot, inspecting plants, pulling a few weeds, and plucking the first cherry tomatoes from the veggie garden. Meals were simple with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. I enjoyed a fruit smoothie, hummus, watermelon and for dinner one of my favorite summer meals…garden green beans and new potatoes, slow cooked with onion and garlic, accompanied by a sliced tomato from the farmer’s market.
Although I didn’t nap today, I enjoyed resting on my bed, writing, studying, looking through Thrive magazines and daydreaming. I sipped hot tea, made from lemon balm from my garden. And I watched a couple of episodes of Colony on Netflix. That show amazes me every time I watch it, with its excellent story and cast.
I knew I was excelling in slowing down today, when I headed outdoors to settle into the swing beneath the leafy canopy of the redbud tree. I considered taking a book outside with me, to read, so my time would be more productive. Productivity wasn’t on my schedule today. In fact, I didn’t have a schedule and didn’t want one.
It was wonderfully relaxing to gently swing, and watch the happenings in my neighborhood, while I remained at rest and at peace in the dappled shade. What a beautiful slow down day.
In the spirit of slowing down, I totally forgot to take a photo late this afternoon as I relaxed in the swing. However, look at that gorgeous moon! I’m glad I went back out in the dark to take a pic.
On this very full day, I could not have drawn a better activity for Day 2 of the Summer Hygge Challenge. I selected this slip of paper:
Drink a Flavored Iced Tea
As a gardener with many fresh herbs available, I knew I’d be crafting my own flavored iced tea. I happen to be writing a health blog post this evening on the versatile bee balm plant. I chose to bring a little ease into my busy day and let this herb pull double duty. I’m grateful I made that decision.
You can read about bee balm and its culinary and health benefits HERE.
For this blog post, I simply had to create a cold tea to enjoy while I prepped a quick, healthy dinner.
I gathered two sprigs of bee balm from my garden, where the plant is in full glorious bloom. I patiently waited for a bumblebee to dart to another flower before clipping the one I wanted for my tea. I have an abundance of bee balm growing, so the happy bee had plenty of bright pink blooms to visit.
I added boiling water to the leaves and flowers, covered the mug, and let the tea steep while I considered what to combine with this fragrant herb. Bee balm is a member of the mint family although it’s scent and flavor are distinctly oregano-like. Citrus fruits pair well with bee balm. After steeping for 20 minutes, I poured the tea into a 16 oz mason jar and added the juice of half a lime.
I let the tea chill in the fridge while I cooked a veggie dinner.
Later, for a splash of color, and a hint of sweetness, I added several freshly sliced strawberries. Ice cubes followed, and my flavored iced tea, made up as I went along, was ready.
I enjoyed my creation with dinner. The earthy bee balm tea, combined with tangy lime juice and sweet juicy strawberries, was very flavorful and incredibly refreshing. I sipped on the iced tea and when it was gone, I ate the leftover chunks of strawberries.
The first day of summer arrived this morning, right on schedule. And what a glorious day it was. After thunderstorms yesterday, this morning dawned bright and cool and breezy, which made today’s first summer hygge challenge activity a delight. As it turned out, it was a shared delight.
The first activity that I drew, out of 15 possibilities, was this one:
Walk barefoot in the grass.
I loved going barefoot as a child…indoors, outdoors…it didn’t matter. I hated to wear shoes. I still kick my shoes off as soon as I get home for the day, and I often step outside for a moment or two with bare feet.
I discovered several years ago that walking barefoot outside, especially on a sandy beach or a grassy stretch of lawn, has important health benefits. The soles of the feet have meridians that draw the earth’s energy into the body. That powerful energy is dispersed throughout the body, easing inflammation by neutralizing free radicals. Earthing, or grounding, has been shown to thin the blood, lower blood pressure and make cells less likely to stick together and form clots. Because free radicals are a major cause of aging as well, keeping the body balanced with electrons from the earth reduces the destructive signs of aging such as wrinkling of the skin and the breakdown of DNA.
My granddaughter Aubrey spent the night with me last night. When I explained to her the game I was playing, she was eager to join in. We brought our bare feet and our phones outside, to welcome summer with a leisurely stroll around the yard.
Aubrey has good, creative ideas. As we slowly walked in the dewy grass, and inspected the backyard garden for storm damage, we paused often to try different photo shoots and slo-mo videos. I love allowing my granddaughter and each of my grandsons to explore their artistic or imaginative sides, and try out new things.
We completed our barefoot walk around the yard, and returned to the swing in the shade of the beautiful redbud tree. It was the perfect spot to chat as we enjoyed the freshness of the morning and the frisky breeze. And because today marks another celebration as well, we snapped a selfie together.
Happy Summer Solstice, Selfie Day and Day 1 of the 7 Day Summer Hygge Challenge!