Bar Soap and Vinegar

I recently spent a week with my sister in Grand Cayman. We have an old cottage, and as we like to say, it has character. My sister and I do this trip every year, and every year at the end of the week, I’m left with a mix of wonder and nostalgia.

Typically, our week begins with offering each other unsolicited advise about our respective lives; what to eat, what not to eat. What I think she should do about her brown spots, what she thinks I should do about my facial hair. Then we turn up the heat and discuss our husbands and children. The talk eventually circles around to our mother…which is when I pour us another glass of wine. We never get to the bottom of our childhood, but it doesn’t stop us from trying.

The good news is–no one knows you like your sister. The bad news is–no one knows you like your sister.

One day I was complaining about the effort required to close our sliding glass doors. My sister asked if I had any bar soap. I dug under the sink and found an old bar, which she then rubbed into the rusted runnels of the doors. The doors glided like new.

The next day I commented on our cloudy plastic glasses. She rummaged through the cupboard, produced the vinegar, and then proceeded to wash the glasses with the vinegar–they sparkled with new life.

The week we had together was a good reminder that we already have all the essentials we need in our homes. Like bar soap, vinegar, family, and sisters.

Christmas Re-hash

Every Christmas I try to add meaning to the holiday. There is so much frenzy and distraction surrounding Christmas that its easy to forget what its all about. My answer to that is to write a meaningful message to be read to my family on Christmas Eve. Here is a synopsis of this year’s message:

The Matryoshka (Russian nesting Dolls)

Each of us is who we are today because of our family. When one of us is down, we lift them up; the pain of one is shared with all. When one of us experiences success, we celebrate; their joy increases our own. Having said that, I believe the greatest gift of family lies in the intimacy of our interaction. The dynamic of rubbing up against each other’s flaws, creates conflict. In those moments we have a choice to make; do I stubbornly hold onto my position, or do I have the courage to question my position? And by questioning we begin to strive for resolve, only then are we able to let go.

Spiritual growth is about letting go, shedding these flaws that trip us up. I liken these flaws to costumes we wear, and the act of shedding costume after costume, until here I am stripped down to my real identity ready to fight for everything worth having, is what being human is all about. The Matryoshka represents this shedding; the outer shell giving way to the next, and the next, until the small solid form is revealed. No longer hollow, but solid.

Each of you has caused me to shed a costume.  (I won’t bore you with how each of my children caused me to do this!)

Now our family is blessed with the addition of four more members. Each in turn will challenge not only their respective spouses, but all of us. So we continue to grow by shedding. What becomes greater is that small, solid voice called the soul.

The soul is our conduit to God. Our flaws block this flow, which is why it is necessary to shed them. When our actions and reactions are fed through this conduit we begin to live in peace amid the chaos surrounding us.

(I would enjoy hearing from all of you about what you and your families do to make Christmas meaningful)  Happy New Year!