Category Archives: Peace

Traveling — A Different Kind of Vacation

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What was the unexpected?  Taking a vacation in the middle of a harsh Chicago winter — one that I never even entertained.  Winter has mainly been something to suffer through while I waited on the dawn of spring when it “made more sense” for me to take a vacation.

So when I was invited to spend time in Puerto Vallarta last month, I went with the flow and decided to spend some winter time doing something different, but this time in 80+ degree temperatures.

Typically, when I vacation, it is traditionally to locales where there are loads of historical monuments to behold, great shopping districts to experience, restaurants to sample and jazz clubs to get my music fix satisfied.

Although these destinations are exciting and filled with constant activity and fun stuff, I must admit that my recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico was a different kind of vacation. Total relaxation ruled the entire week.

Although I took advantage of a few excursions — a tour the historic Lady of Guadalupe Church, viewing the sculptures along the Malecon and shopping, the best part of this trip was the time I spent at Palenque Spa getting a mani and pedi, along with a deep tissue massage, partaking in sumptuous meals like the one at Los Alcatraces La Marina, sipping champagne on the golf course and more importantly just kicking back on the beach in the most comfortable lounge chair while immersed in a collection of essays written by Samantha Irby sharing the company of special friends.

And I can’t forget the time I spent on the balcony watching daily sunrises and sunsets.

My mind was not bogged down with the items on my To Do List, or work related issues or making decisions.  My mind was clear — as clear as the waters in Mexico.

I think I can get used to that!

#thisidoforme

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JUST ME AND SOME SOUP!

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I was in the process of making tomato 🍅 soup when the thought hit me that life is indeed good.  When this revelation came (and I have that revelation often), I could clearly see that it is something special about remaining mindful and in the moment as you complete any task.  My taking the steps to create a heartwarming pot of soup wasn’t lost on this point.

I didn’t have a television on nor did I feel compelled to turn on any music.  It was just me, a pot, a knife, a spoon, some tomatoes, chicken broth and a picture window in my kitchen that allowed me the blessing of looking onto my backyard as I prepared my dish.

First, I did a rough chop of eight Roma Tomatoes; I diced some fresh garlic (about 3 cloves — I just love garlic) and I slivered about 6 sprigs of fresh basil.  I poured the chicken broth into my pot, added everything else and slowly simmered that pot of what was clearly becoming a concoction of deliciousness.

I have to admit that the most exciting part of making my tomato soup is pulling out my hand emulsifier to thicken it.  Somehow I feel like a real chef when I use it.

However, the most memorable part of the process was how consciously aware I was of every chop and every stir.  The blessing was being present every step of the way. I didn’t hurry through my soup making; I wasn’t thinking ahead about changing the linen on my bed, and I wasn’t thinking about solving any problems at the office.  I just lost myself in the task at hand — Making Soup!

AND THAT I’M CONVINCED IS THE KEY TO HAPPINESS!

#thisidoforme

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SOUL SOOTHING ACTION BY KEEPING THE HOMELESS WARM AND SECURE AND REPURPOSING THROUGH ART

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NEW BLOG POST

Below highlights how Musa Macenyane soothes her Soul by making hats and mats for the homeless.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a crafter. I was always looking for a new project, new craft or a new creation. In 2010 while working in corporate America, I began to look at waste and think “how can I create something from all of this waste?” I began to look at everyday items in a new way.  I began ‘repurposing’, creating creations from everyday items. I began making coasters from cardboard, bags from plastic grocery bags, and jewelry from various paper products. Utilizing my craftiness in a new way was exhilarating.

Then in the fall of 2015, I saw a news story about a lady who was feeding the homeless in Humbolt Park out of her own kitchen. I was amazed by this sister’s spirit of service. I reached out to Carol Boyd of Humble Heart and asked what I could do to help. She said whatever assistance I could provide would be greatly appreciated.

I knew I couldn’t feed the homeless three times a week like Carol did, but I could craft. So I started on my “Hats for the Homeless” project. Last winter, I made 35 hats and donated them to Carol to distribute while she was in the park feeding. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I began using my crocheting plarn (plastic yarn) skills to create mats for the homeless to protect them from sleeping directly on the ground. In the spring of 2016, I, along with a group of Sistahs, who wanted to make an impact on the lives of others, organized a purse project to distribute hygiene products to our Sistahs affected by homelessness.

We filled over 40 purses with hygiene products, and Carol was able to distribute to the ladies on the street. Currently, I am again in the throes of the Hats for the Homeless project. This year, my goal is that with the help of my happy hookers (crocheters) and chicks with sticks (knitters) we can make 100 hats to donate to Humble Hearts.

I continue to craft and create gift items from repurposed materials, but serving others makes me tick. I enjoy utilizing my craftiness to serve others. Crafting to serve is what I do for me.

Musa is a social worker and dedicated and creative crafter. She is the owner of Chiseko Artistic Endeavors, a company dedicated to crafting through repurposing. 

LET’S GET REAL, LADIES ARE YOU REALLY TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF?

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Let’s face it, we put up a good front when it comes to keeping it all together. We like to feel good about multi-tasking (the experts say we women are good at that),  about having a list, schedules and a synchronized routine for getting through life. We get a high from ticking off the boxes on our well crafted lists, and we can recite sequentially everything we “accomplished” that day.

What we won’t admit to is how damn tired we are. We convince ourselves that as long as we got all our errands done, our household tasks completed and we got that promotion or some recognition at work, we have it all under control. Do we, though?

If you have a family, when  was the last time you announced to family members upon arriving home from work that before you do anything (aside from an extreme emergency) for anyone, you are going to take 20 minutes in a room alone to meditate, unwind in the tub, sip a glass of wine or have a pleasant exchange with those in your household expressing why you are so glad to see them after a long and hard day?

If you are single, like myself, when was the last time you ate a meal without talking on the telephone?  Did you remember later what you even ate?

Even if you did perform some perfunctory self care, of these things, how much of it did you savor? Do you remember what it felt like?  Or did you do the usual by rushing through it so you could get to the next thing?

I am slowly learning that if I complete all my tasks, but I’m not present during the process, especially when im just trying to get to and rush to the next thing, I’m doing myself an injustice.

We have done this for so long that we think this level of functioning is normal.  So today I commit to doing it differently.  Yes, I will still maintain my lists, but I won’t trip when everything on it doesn’t get checked off.

I often say that I love myself, but when I don’t take time to breathe and tune into my relationships with people, I have to question that.  After all, life is about the people in it, not how succinctly we got through the day.

I’m making the commitment to do it not better, quickly  and efficiently, but with great care and more importantly — LOVE.

 

 

Traveling to Be Still

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Traveling to Be Still

Do you hear that?  Of course not — I’m in Oka, a little area about 45 minutes away from Montreal, Canada. I have been to Montreal on two other occasions, and each time my hotel accommodations allowed me to be smack dab in the middle of the city. I have always had easy access to shopping, restaurants, and a boat load of fun. The Botanical Gardens, St. Catherine Street and The 1976 Olympic Village – these are just a few attractions that represent Montreal.

Oka, wow!  To be in Oka. I am here for a business meeting on behalf of an organization where I serve on the Board of Directors. In all honesty, aside from this meeting, there is no way that I would be here. However, I am glad my travels this time didn’t take me to the heart of Montreal.

Here in Oka, I can really hear myself think. I am breathing air not mixed with fumes. Here in Oka (I know it sounds like a song), I am surrounded by a lushness of green, compost bins and great walking surfaces ideal for rigorous hiking.

I have never been one for camping — too many bugs, mosquitoes galore and no big box stores close enough to distract me from uninterrupted peace — but this place makes me forget all of that and causes me to JUST BE STILL. It’s still enough to actually recognize that there is a side of me that really enjoys spending time with nature — still enough to look out of my window and stare at a beautiful Peony (even if it is surrounded by ants). Still enough to be still for a change.

Ahh, Oka! #thisidoforme