Stories and Summer Spud Salad!

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Yesterday while driving around Idaho Falls, I found myself struck by all the people around me – other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists – and thinking about how every one of those people has a story to tell. Their lives all have a past, a history that has brought them to that moment in their life. I began thinking about how each one of those souls has been through ups and downs – good times and bad – happy moments and sad ones. I then started thinking how everyone likes to tell their story, wants to be heard, validated and to know that they matter.

It really is a simple thing to listen to people and hear their story and give them, however brief it might be, some kind of confirmation that their story has been heard and understood by another human being. It’s such a simple matter to look the Wal-Mart greeter in the eye and ask him “How’s it going,” and then stop for a moment and really listen to his answer. When he replies – “I couldn’t be better – I have a brand new grandson,” you might go a step further and ask if he has a picture, which he invariably will – and then you truly look at the picture and maybe comment on how you’re certain you see a little grandpa in that tiny face! Watch how he lights up – no more than a couple of minutes spent, and someone has been told, by your two tiny minutes time, that they matter.

When you go through the check out line at the grocery store – for heaven’s sake – put away your smart phone and ask the checker how her day is going. When she tells you “I’ve been better – just got some bad news that my husband has been laid off and I don’t know what we’re going to do,” genuinely look her in the eye and tell her something like, “I’m so sorry – that really stinks. I’ll send good thoughts your way, (or I’ll pray for you) whatever your inclination happens to be – or maybe you ask what her husband does and tell her you’ll keep an eye out for jobs, and HONESTLY mean it! You might not have fixed the situation, but you’ve heard her story and you’ve made a commitment to do what you can to help. You never know how those effortless words of comfort might help get her through her day.

Don’t be so plugged into your social media that you unplug from real life. Small acts of kindness and encouragement can change someone’s life. Hearing a stranger’s story and listening more than you talk and giving more than you take can alter the future in ways that you may never know. Listen to somebody’s story today. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

I made this potato salad several days ago and it was FABULOUS. It wasn’t my husband’s favorite because he doesn’t really like vinegary salads. Next time I might cut down on the vinegar and add more olive oil. Adjust it to your taste and enjoy!

Summer Spud Salad

Vinaigrette

2 T white wine vinegar

½ t salt

1 T fresh thyme leaves

1/3 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salad

1-1/2 pounds small potatoes cut into bite size pieces

½ C sliced green onions

2/3 C sliced Kalamata olives (pitted)

3 T sundried tomatoes, chopped

1/3 C flat leaf parsley

1 Can garbanzo beans

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

½ t crushed red pepper

Mix vinegar, ½ t salt and thyme and whisk in olive oil; set aside. Put potatoes in boiling water and cook until just fork tender, about 10 minutes. Fold vinaigrette into warm potatoes.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill salad in refrigerator, tightly covered, for one to two hours. Serve in bowls and garnish with fresh thyme sprig. Also very good with a dash of Sriracha on top!

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Love Carries The Day!

The last week has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me. I’ve been to a gorgeous wedding (one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to), I’ve been rejected for something that I really wanted (and thought I was going to get), and my son had a scary health moment when he passed out after receiving some vaccinations. On this fine Friday evening, I’m feeling a little spent emotionally. But as I reflect back over the happenings of the past week, I’m struck by how much love played a huge part in each of these occurrences. And, it makes me realize how, really, love never fails and love is all that matters. Since it’s the most fun, I’ll start with the wedding.

The wedding of my nephew and his beautiful bride took place on a fine (if not windy) New Mexico evening. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding (and I’ve been to many) where I was surer that the bride and groom were totally and completely committed to each other. This one will last. Mark my words. They exuded adoration with each drawn breath and with each gaze into each other’s eyes. It was more than overblown infatuation. Anyone in their presence felt the love and couldn’t help getting caught up in the moment. The whole event left everyone smiling and radiating back the love that these two brought to their vows. I know I sound sappy. But trust me, this wedding was special! Love carried the day.

Now, onto my rejection, though I’d really rather not talk about it. I won’t go into the finite details, but suffice it to say that I really, really wanted something and honestly thought I was going to get it. I was more than a little disappointed when the rejection came. I’m going to be honest, I’m not used to rejection. I cried. I cried some more and then I realized, I had to tell people who were waiting to hear, that I’d been rejected. Then I cried again because I wasn’t relishing telling people that I’d been turned down. But, I swallowed my pride and began sending out texts informing people of my rebuff. Within seconds texts came back with the most encouraging, the sweetest and the most loving messages. “It’s their loss, they don’t know what they’re missing, this just means something better is on its way.” The most endearing texts and messages came from my sons. My big, brawny, stoic oldest son simply wrote, “That’s okay mom, we still love you.” My youngest son called and began in his sunny way telling me all the reasons that this was really for the best and how much he loved me! I then proceeded to cry some more because I realized that no matter what I did or didn’t do I was loved. There were no strings attached to the love from my friends and family. Love carried the day.

Finally, the scariest parenting moment I’ve ever had. My son Jackson had to get some vaccinations today. On the way home he passed out while I was driving. His head was lolling, his eyes were open and rolling back in his head and his tongue was halfway hanging out. I stopped in the middle of the road and had his head in my hands, yelling “JACKSON, JACKSON, CAN YOU HEAR ME, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU. YOU HAVE TO COME BACK!!!” In that scariest of moments, when he was simply gone and vacant, all I wanted him to know was how much I loved him. He came to on my way to the emergency room. So we went back to the immunization clinic instead, as it was closer. Turns out this is fairly common with teenagers and vaccines. Who knew? In those interminable seconds when Jackson was passed out, even in the midst of the fear, I knew that it was love that I wanted him to remember and come back to. Love carried the day.

Really, at the end of the day, love is all that matters. It supersedes the trappings and fanfares of weddings, it sustains in times of disappointment and it trumps the most fearful of situations. When all else is stripped away, love will be there to get you through. Tell your friends and family you love them. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

I promise to have more recipes soon. Until then love yourself and love your neighbor!