When your dreams are dashed…

Recently, a couple of friends have experienced profound disappointment and discouragement. I will not go into the particulars because what happened to them is not my story to tell but theirs. But I understand disappointment and discouragement and know they can drown you if you let them.

I don’t have a quick fix

It’s those negative thoughts that hold your head under—the feelings of worthlessness, of inadequacy, of being wrong in a right world, of being a victim and having no control over your life. And if you have even a smidgen of obsessive-compulsive tendencies, your brain will spin a sticky web that requires untold strength and sometimes help from others to escape.

Most of the time, we people, in order to camouflage these feelings, put on a good front, don’t talk about what is going on and tough it out. So we isolate. Which makes everything worse because isolation leads to a sense of alienation – of being different, usually in a bad way, which is distorted thinking. It’s a spiritual death spiral.

 

I don’t have a quick fix. I am unaware of any sure-fire solutions that will turn around the sadness and depression that come from disappointment. When your dreams are dashed, your expectations not met, your life put on hold because you don’t know what to do next, well, these things take time to sort out, to wade through, to wrestle with before the unquenchable spark of hope reignites aspiration.

Hope springs eternal. Goodreads has 11,365 quotations dealing with the idea of hope.  I have my own favorite, a poem by Victor Hugo, translated into English.

 

Be like the bird who
pausing in flight on limb
too slight feels it give way
beneath her.

Yet sings,
knowing she has wings.

 

Utah Pears

pears-and-canner

There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is good to eat.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

Email alert from AZFRUITLADY:  Utah pears.

 

I resisted the first week. And the second. I had great reasons. There were only three of us at home. If I bought boxes of fruit, then I had to do something with it—give it away, can it, eat it, put it in the refrigerator and remember to use it. And, since my bariatric surgery, it’s difficult to eat an entire pear without consequences, dumping—an insulin reaction to a hit of sugar. So the smart thing was to resist.

 

But when AZFRUITLADY emailed the third week, I thought about those pears, how they start out firm but get soft and sweet and delicious. And had our bishop not challenged us to live off our food storage for two weeks—no trips to the store—I might have safely made it through the season. But Utah fruit to us Arizonans, is like candy to a baby. And when I checked our food storage, wouldn’t you know  there weren’t any pears.

 

New email by AZFRUITLADY: Last week for Utah pears.

 

It was psychological warfare. “Last week” meant there would be NO MORE until next year. Panic set in.  I tried to resist. I don’t need pears.  I can buy canned fruit at the store. But there would be no more. This was the LAST WEEK. The very last week. I emailed AZFRUITLADY. I’ll take a box  of pears.

 

What was I thinking?

 

They were Bartletts, thirty-eight pounds of tender, green-skinned fruit just turning yellow, freckled with pear spots, incredibly sweet and delicious.  From a cobwebbed corner of my brain, I remembered that once upon a time, I knew how to dehydrate fruit. And, after a Google search, learned that bottling pears wasn’t so hard, either, but they required processing in a water bath.

 

We have a glass cooktop. Heavy pots of water leave scratches which had been my excuse for not canning in the past. But, back to Google where  on the Ball homepage, I found an electric water bath with the added bonus of a spigot to drain the water so you don’t  have to lift the heavy, water-filled canner from the stove to the sink.

 

While I waited for the new water bath to be delivered, I dehydrated pears. It was easy, and they were so delicious I was prompted to write about it.  I washed them, sliced them in quarter inch pieces lengthwise, dipped them in a dilute water, honey and  lemon juice mixture then arranged them on parchment  paper on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven set to 160 degrees.  After about twelve hours they were done, no longer sticky but pliable. I didn’t peel them. I didn’t core them.

 

When the new water bath arrived, it was a dream to use. It came with a large aluminum pan that fit into a base where the heating element was. I filled it as directed with hot water then put on the lid while it came to a full boil. Meanwhile, I peeled the pears, cooked them for five minutes in a boiling, light syrup, filled the quart bottles, then added the syrup. As the canner was up to temperature I put in the jars. In only a few minutes, the water was boiling again as opposed to the stove top water bath that seemed to take forever to return to temperature.  I processed them for fifteen minutes.

 

The electric water bath was so easy to use, I’m thinking about next year. About  salsa. About canned apricots and jam in the spring  from our two trees. About pears and peaches. About food storage shelves in our basement lined with jars of Utah fruit.

 

The Mason quart jars filled with pears were beautiful. Sometimes, we do things that are so satisfying and feel-good we have a few minutes of feeling good about ourselves.  I was challenged by the pears. I was motivated by the bishop to work on food storage. I’m taking a few minutes here to enjoy mission accomplished.

Allen Bee Company’s Honey butter

Allen Bee Company’s Honey Butter

allen_bees

  • 1 pound butter, in a mixing bowl. Let come to room temperature and soften.
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla.

Mix cream, sugar and honey. Heat until it comes to a boil. Boil briefly – no longer than a minute, then add vanilla. Slowly add to butter and beat at low speed stopping to scrape the bowl until the butter is melted. Do not whip. Whipping will cause the butter to separate. Pour into wide-mouthed jars with a lid. Refrigerate. Hopefully, this will store for a long time (several months in the refrigerator) without separating. Should have a creamy texture and not granular. Really good on toast, roasted butternut squash, melted on ice cream, and straight from the jar.

A New Launch

cowfence

“There is always hope your life can change because you can always learn new things.” 

Virginia Satir

 

Evolution is sometimes revolution, not in the sense of anarchy, but in the completion of a circle, the way the earth revolves around the sun or how it spins about its axis. Here, it has to do with learning, with coming full circle to that place we recognize because we have been there once before, only this time, round, we are different because of what we have learned on the excursion. Synonyms for evolve are progress, develop, advance, and grow.

 

I choose this word, evolve, over transform, or transformation, which connotes a more sudden and radical alteration, a metamorphosis, the caterpillar and the butterfly, an emerging from the chrysalis moment.

 

Either would do for what I am trying to explain here, but as I look back over my life, it seems there have been many more evolutions than transformations which in my case usually meant a more liberal application of cosmetics, a dressier dress, new hair, and a rather predictable return to my untransformed self at midnight.

 

Wow, lady. You are OLD.  

I am looking back from a perspective of a seventh decade. As these words move onto my computer screen, I am stunned. Wow, lady. You are OLD.  But truthfully, that is the fun of this blog, a relished opportunity to step out of life’s slipstream, and reflect on the journey, on the evolutions that have landed me here. Being OLD brings opportunity.

 

We are not insentient, but thinking, learning participants in life. This innate compulsion to learn is what propels my writing.

 

I ask you to return to the late 80s. I was deep into my practice of Obstetrics and Gynecology but unhappy and discontent, not unlike that good old cow who kept eying the neighbor’s greener pasture. I was looking around for something else to do when I had the idea of becoming a family therapist. This led me to Virginia Satir, an internationally renowned family therapist so insightful and daring she literally worked miracles. I heard she was coming to Tucson and signed up for her workshop.

 

I watched enthralled as she took a family of four frozen in dysfunctional communication and over a three hour period, warmed them until they thawed, and taught them how to be genuine and honest with each other.  There were tears, hugs, and great relief as these people were able to be who they were and find acceptance. It was a powerful demonstration.

 

Virginia Satir who was nearing 70, as I am, and was six feet tall, as I am not, shared her wisdom. One of the things she said resonated profoundly with what I believed. She said, “There is always hope your life can change because you can always learn new things.” Depressed, sad, frustrated, I was looking for change.

 

I was not a good family therapist.  There was probably too much surgeon in me by then. If there is a problem, identify it and cut it out. Be done with it. Therapy is a timeline, perhaps of years. I was seeing a couple when, talking to each individually, I learned both had been praying one of them would die to end the marriage.  “Why are you still married?” I asked the first time I saw them together.

 

A week later, they had filed for divorce. Chalk one up for Dr. Allen.

 

Implied in Virginia Satir’s statement, is the ability to make a difference for yourself. Sometimes it may mean rethinking something, often those old messages about self-worth we carry with us from childhood. It means self-talk, self-encouragement and above all, believing you are worth whatever effort it takes to change.

 

I celebrate that kind of evolution that is chosen, directed and accomplished. Too often we fail to look back at where we have been and acknowledge the distance we have traveled. I have hiked the Grand Canyon, down the South Kaibab Trail, and the next day, up the Bright Angel Trail. Since I weighed over 200 pounds, you must realize I didn’t set any time records but I had prepared by exercising and hiking shorter distances at home.  It was a huge effort with breath-taking rewards. Once of them was standing at the top of the Bright Angel Trail and looking back. True, there were switch backs and steep, interminable  climbs, but there was also the magnificence of the canyon, and I had been there. And in a grand gesture of heavenly magnanimity, I was given a rainbow.