Traveling Along

I have never liked traveling alone. Anxiety kicks in when I begin to plan to go to a place I’ve never been before ~ only when I go solo. This week I’m sitting in a hotel room in Boston as I write this, and while I was thinking about the day ahead amidst hundreds of strangers, my first thought was feeling a bit uneasy is a good thing.

Usually, day one in unfamiliar territory, I would be doing a lot of self talk – telling myself that I could do this, there was no reason to be anxious, I had done it many times. . .I’m sure many of you know how that works.

Thinking about this anxiety as a good thing is a shift I have made in recent years. This occasion is the first time I recall it being an automatic thought. In the past I have needed the self-talk to get me thinking of anxiety as a positive. I have spent a lot of time reading about it, practicing thinking about it in the positive, and practicing through yoga training.

It has been a multi-year journey and I am overjoyed to recognize this recent success. It stimulated me to venture off on my own in the city a bit this week. Not far ~ around the blocks near the hotel and into Boston Gardens. As I sat in the gardens, near the duck pond, enjoying some people watching time, I was approached by a monk who offered me a “peace card” and amulet for my wrist, along with the promise of peace prayers. He then asked for my name and a ‘pledge’. My husband will not be surprised to learn that I gave him $5.00. In my mind, in this world we live in, even the promise of peace is a step in the right direction.

As I sat there alone, contemplating the busy lives of those around me and pleased to see so many enjoying a walk through the park, or just a brief respite in their day, I wondered what about this place I feared. I suspect some of the fear is grounded in that same world we live in and the atrocious news I see daily ~ violence abounds and the media would lead one to believe that evil people exist in every corner of the world. I am struck by how strongly those ideas have become a part of my thinking, particularly when I have far more experiences in my life that tell me otherwise. Personally I have experienced people with love and empathy in their hearts FAR more than I’ve encountered people who frighten me.

My other fear is the driving ~ in city traffic. This fear comes simply from lack of experience. Bottom line, I AM a country girl ~ loving the quiet peace found in a rural existence. As much as I love going to new places, it’s the getting there that is troubling. Concerns swirl through my mind ~ What if the flight gets delayed? What if I get lost trying to find connections? What if my luggage is lost? What if I lose my wallet? What if, what if, what if. My reasoning mind can tell me that all the what ifs are ridiculous, but that doesn’t stop them from popping into my head.

As I continue my solo travels, because the fear hasn’t ever stopped me from going, I will continue the self talk, and will continue venturing out and exploring new places. So, next time I see a yoga class of 50 people, with the instructor blasting her instructions through huge speakers, I will find out how I can get in on her next class. Afterall, I am a work in progress.

Boston yoga

More Remembering

My July 14, 2016 post, Remembering Diane, turned out to be a big one. Big, in that it was read by more people than any other of my posts in the last 3 1/2 years. I am overjoyed by that ~ it is one more way that Diane’s good good soul can live on.

I know that she touched many lives, and there are countless people in the world who have fond memories of Diane. As I wrote the post I felt very much that I should know more than I do about the person she was. I mentioned in the post that I had very few specific memories of her and that’s true. But now that the idea of her memories has surfaced I believe that more will come to me.

What I wasn’t expecting, and is such a gift, is a comment from my cousin, who read the post and then shared this with me:

“I hope you know how much Diane looked up to you and admired you. She always wished she was as popular as you. She was in her own way, but she wished the boys would be crazy about her like they were about you. I think that was one of her favorite things about you.”

I did not know this ~ had never heard it before and was a bit taken aback when I first read it. When one person is taken from another I suspect it’s natural to hope that, in the time you had together, you made an impact on the person in some way. It means a great deal to know that my sister admired me (though I hope it wasn’t only because she ‘wished the boys would be crazy about her’. She may never have known how other people felt about her, any more than any of us really do. From where I sat while we were growing up, she was so easily loved by everyone she met. I certainly hope she felt that.

Memories are undependable. Sometimes you remember an event, but not the correct setting or persons. Sometimes unrelated memories get combined in the mind and shift what we think we know about the details of the situation. Was this just my memories or do other people experience the same inaccuracies, I wondered.

My research revealed some interesting ideas about memory.

From http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/survey

Memories are not permanent and immutable. Both mundane, everyday memories and significant ones change over time. Studies have shown that even subtle suggestions can cause people to remember things that never happened! We don’t recall a memory the same way every time—our memories grow and change in the retelling. Our memories do tend to become more internally consistent over time, better fitting our own views of ourselves. But decades of research have documented how much our memory is influenced by what we know and believe. Memories are not pure recordings of what we experience. We only perceive and notice a small subset of the information available in the world, far less than a camera takes in.

I found reading about some of the memory research reassuring. When I’ve chatted with my older sister, revisiting childhood events that we shared, it has always surprised and confused me that our recall is so varied. For me, memories can be elusive – another reminder of the importance of being fully present in all we do. In the age of multitasking I suspect our recall will be even more inaccurate.

I look forward to memories of Diane coming my way in the future, either through my own recall, or from more little stories and sharing of other people’s memories with me.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

Last weekend I posted my recipe for lemonade, without white sugar. You may recall that I mentioned maybe making a frozen strawberry lemonade. . .

I remember many years ago I use to love the frozen strawberry lemonade from McDonald’s. I would stop and get one on the hottest days of summer, and back then I never gave much thought to sugar, calories, carbs. . .

Just for the fun of it I decided to look up the nutritional information for the McDonald’s version:

Calories 250
Sodium 25 mg
Total Fat 0 g
Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 0 g
Total Carbs 65 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Monounsaturated 0 g
Sugars 65 g
Trans 0 g
Protein 1 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 160%
Calcium 25%
Vitamin C 154%
Iron 0%

I still had some fresh frozen strawberries in my freezer from last summer, so I dug them out and blended them with my homemade maple lemonade. It was perfection! Exactly what I was hoping for and surely, less sugars and sodium than McDonalds’.

straw lemon

I did a bit of research and 1 cup of strawberries has about 49 calories 2 mg. of sodium and one tablespoon of maple syrup has 52 calories and no sodium (that’s what I estimate was in my frozen lemonade treat). Fresh squeezed lemon juice has about 12 calories for 1/4 cup and no sodium. The McDonalds version was 16 oz. and my version was about the same, so that’s 113 calories vs.250 calories and my version is all natural, so yup ~ no brainer!

LEMONADE!

lemon

I don’t know about you, but I believe there is no more refreshing drink on a hot day than an ice cold glass of lemonade.

Since I have cut white sugar from my diet and have only been using maple syrup or honey as sweeteners I have struggled to find many summer time drinks that fit that requirement. Even fruit juices are loaded with added sugars. I drink a lot of water and tea, but I was craving a good tangy glass of lemonade.

So I did what any good Vermont-raised woman does and made my own! It’s so simple and exactly what I was looking for. Here’s the very simple recipe if you want to try it yourself:

1 part freeze squeezed lemon juice to 4 parts water ~ so if you squeeze 4 fresh lemons you might get 1/2 cup of juice and you would add 2 cups of water to that

Then stir in 2 – 4 TBLS of maple syrup (more or less to taste) ~ if you like a tangy lemonade use less and for a sweeter lemonade use more

Stir or shake vigorously and pour over loads of ice!

See, simple! One other tip – if you don’t like lemon pulp in your lemonade, strain the lemon juice before adding the water and maple syrup.

lemonade

While writing this post it occurred to me that this lemonade would be mighty tasty if it was poured over fresh frozen strawberries instead of ice cubes.

Or wait! What if I made a slushie out of the lemonade by putting it in the blender with frozen strawberries? Oh yes, I’m going to try that! I’ll let you know.

Remembering Diane

My younger sister, Diane Colby Zaun, passed in 1985 after a short battle with colon cancer. She was 26 years old. Each year, on her birthday I try to write about her. I don’t write so much to remember her – because I do that nearly every day of my life – but more to remind myself that life is sometimes cut short and to remember that is important. This opportunity each year to reflect on her life helps me in many ways.

This year I have been thinking a lot about who she was – what kind of person she was. I have relatively few specific memories of Diane when we were growing up (that is astounding to me. How can one live in the same household with another for 15 years and feel like they have only a few memories of those 15 years?)

She was pigeon toed and Mom used to put her shoes on the wrong feet because a doctor told her that would force the feet to turn outward. I don’t know if it worked. My recall is that Diane was ALWAYS pigeon toed, but maybe that memory is only based on the earliest years – the years when she was most pigeon toed.

I remember that she loved animals and when my parents bought cows and one of them had a calf, Diane exclaimed, as she saw the newborn still in its amniotic sac, “I didn’t know they came in baggies!” She was probably 10 or 11 at the time.

My step-dad called her “DumDum”, but I have no idea why.

I remember playing cards with her and Gramma Colby and Diane always held onto the corners of the card table with both hands, as if it would fly away if she didn’t hang on to it. And she never cared about winning or losing, she was just in it for the fun.

Diane liked to cook and was always making brownies and cookies. She made healthy versions of many of the treats – using carob instead of chocolate, and wheat flour before wheat flour was a thing and gluten was NOT a thing – they were always delicious.

She was a horse person. Crazy for horses, like so many girls are, but I was not. We had any differences and so were not great friends until we moved away from one another. I went away to college, and then she did, then I moved to Florida and when I came back she joined the Peace Corps. Life went in separate directions but eventually we came back together to become friends.

The memories I hold dearest are the emotional ones. I know that Diane was a sweet, innocent person. I know that she cared deeply for all of life and she cherished her relationships with many many people and animals. I know that she was a passionate believer in right and treated everyone equally and with care and concern.

I think about her often because we are still connected in many ways. When I see Hollyberry goods in the grocery store I am reminded of the many many horseback rides Diane took with Holly. And when I see Facebook posts from her very dear friend Kathy I think of the two of them as teenagers, always together and laughing. And every time I see my granddaughter, who is named after Diane, and is also a horse person, I see my sister. They have the same kind and decent nature, the same gentle smile and giving soul, and the same deep caring for all of life. When Colby Diane travels to Nicaragua to work with orphans I see Diane Colby traveling to the Dominican to improve the health of the people there.

The lessons I have learned from Diane and from her passing have been many over the years. I have come to know that we don’t stop learning from a person when they are physically gone. Every time I am reminded of my sister I know that is because I need to be reminded of one who knew how to be kinder, and gentler, and more soft spoken than I have ever been.

And I know, though it has been 31 years since she walked beside me on this earth, that she still walks beside me and she will continue live on in the hearts of many for a very long time.

Diane 1985

Happy Birthday sister!