Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Home for the Holidays

I am not "Home" for the Holidays. Millions are not. Transplants who have relocated for better jobs and possibilities, military overseas, families who have moved to create an idyllic life in the burbs, young adults who have moved to escape, many of us move away from our families of origin and don't make it back.
But we are where we are. In fact, I am HOME. I am at my home of my family of my creation now...and all the heaviness and sadness in my heart from missing my family of origin softens as I consider what home is and what I do have now.

As I roll out the pie dough, I think of my father who would make three, four five pies at, pumpkin, pumpkin with mince meat, grasshopper pie and always the mystery pie which usually involved peanut butter or squash or a combo....he proudly presented the pies, which each had special marks on the crust as a special code to him, and he relished in our guessing incorrectly about the secret ingredients. His delight, generosity and excitement brought a special magic to the holidays every year.
I am not home for his pies this year, but he is with me as I make mine.

As I wrap the presents, the ten, twenty or more little tiny stocking stuffers that my husband thinks is insane to wrap...I think of my mother, up late wrapping and labeling each stocking stuffer, her handwriting always neat and feminine and loving. You could tell it was a special gift just from how she wrote and the little clue she would write on the label " For warm and cozy nights" or "Something pretty". She would wonder at our glee as we struggled to open the tiny presents, luxuriating in the stockings being opened while she sipped her coffee. I am not in her home as I wrap this year, but she is with me in mine.

As I buy a huge 5 foot giraffe for my son 7 year old Ben that he "really really wants", a toy my husband disagrees is useful or practical, I think of my sweet sister. I remember her generosity in giving us a huge present one year, that she saved up for and bought with her own money. She insisted we open it last and was very serious that it was a special gift. It obviously meant a lot to her to give it. When we opened it, I didn't get it at first. It was a big brown ottoman, a thing to rest our feet on. I was maybe nine, I didn't rest my feet. But then I got the thought that she put into it. We all worked hard on our family hospitality business, she cared enough about us to get something we could ALL use, relax with and rest our feet on.

I told my husband it's not whether we agree that this toy will be useful, it's What It Means to HIM. So I smile at the people who smile at me, holding a 5 foot giraffe leaving the mall, and my heart fills with joy when Ben invites my husband and his brothers to hug the giraffe, and they do. He is sharing his gift with the family and his heart if full. Life is magical...and although I am not home with my sister, she is here with all of us.

As I stick a label onto a blank journal that I am creating called " Grandpa's Legacy Journal, 50 Words of Wisdom We Want to Know from You" I think of my brother Tao, an artist who has inspired many years of making gifts. I think of his imagination, freedom and fearlessness he embodies when learning a new form of art or making something to give to someone. He doesn't worry if they like it. He doesn't explain how he wanted it to look and didn't make it that way, he doesn't create anything that you would expect just because it needs to be a certain kind of "pretty". He makes what matters to him. He makes a contribution of the inner workings of his mind, which is beautiful place we can only see if he shares it.

So as I put questions into the journal for Grandpa to fill out and create a legacy for himself through his contribution of wisdom in raising our boys, I think of the boldness my brother has given me. I am proud to be giving a gift I have created with the boys. Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give someone is to allow them to contribute to you. We are asking for that contribution for our boys, to raise them into men of responsibility,creativity and integrity. I may not be home to hug my brother but he is here contributing to the future of my sons and their brothers, here, now.

As we ring in the New Year, with my amazing family of NOW, I am present to my husband who has chosen to create family with me for the rest of our lives. He was not born into my family. He chose me. I choose him. And we make that choice everyday. It is not a "given" that we will be together forever. It's a choice. Just as we chose to be here for the holidays this year, we choose to live here, 3000 miles away from my family of origin. It's all a choice and one I must get continually present to that I choose in the creation of the life that we are choosing here together.
If I wallow in the missing of my family of origin, I loose the power I have to create and be present with my family now. I become a victim of the life I have created.

Instead I choose to honor my family of origin by bringing all that they have given me and make this life with my family exciting, creative and magical now.

Thank you for your gifts Dad, Mom, Tao and Chi. Thank you also for the very amazing gifts that you have chosen, Timothy, Kaia and Amy. They make our family fun, gracious and delightful. I love you all.

Zen LaBossiere Honeycutt

The Last Year of Your Life

We watched 2012 last night. The movie plays out the scenerio of the ancient Mayan calendar being correct about a huge sun flare on December 21, 2012 sending out enough gases to cook our earth's core and disrupt the entire earth's land surface.
I know I was about two years late, the movie came out a while ago...but it was perfect that as we near a New Year to reflect upon, what if The END was next year? No I am not a Dooms Day-er or particularly appreciate a palpitating heart from the anxiety of what would happen to my family if the world were collapsing around us,crumbling into an abyss of the earth's core of hot lava...
But I do really really enjoy reflecting on the Way things ARE, or how I THINK they are....and if that is real or not...and what COULD Be...what's POSSIBLE.

I think that is a part of being the sense of the Buddhist philosophy of my namesake.
Being present to what is so and how that most likely isn't real...and being at peace with that.
I so often, like the commander who bases his actions on what the scientist says what he projects is going to happen to the earth, think that I KNOW what is going to happen..
Later today my husband will remember to fix that webcam for me, next week school will start and I will finally get to clean out the art closet, in the summer I will go visit my family in Connecticut and my kids will bond with my family of origin...
and I base my whole pattern of life on the future I am living into...that I think I KNOW.
When the Commander finds out things are not as the scientist says, he is angry. I do that. This SHOULD not be this way. The scientist, who has experience with nature being unpredictable, find it predictable that the unpredictable is happening.
More often lately, by being present, I am able to do this instead...BE with what's so. Then take action to create what I want to create. In this movie, the scientist created generosity, caring and LIFE.

What if we think we know and suddenly we saw our future wasn't real?

What if we just didn't know what our future will be like?

What would you do with the last year of your life?

What are you Creating?

I am creating that this is the year we turn life upside down as we know it. Like in the movie where the poles switch, what if I didn't base anything on anything the way I KNOW. What if I came from the UNPREDICTABLE?
Suddenly new things open up for me...
Surprises, Joy and Abundance in areas I once saw as lacking. Excitement in areas where I avoided....Love in areas that I with held. Real ADVENTURE and being PRESENT to my children.
Total LOVE.

What is also present to me is well, if we KNEW this was the last year of our life I would probably be really irresponsible and spend wild amounts of money on wild adventures around the world. There in lies the rub. We don't KNOW.
The world, most likely, historically, will continue on for a few thousand years give or take before a catastrophe happens. So if we come from we just don't KNOW...either way, we would probably work with what we've got right now and make that work to the fullest. And still,anything is possible...wild adventures included.

On New Year's Day we will have a Celebration of our Past Year and a CREATION Dinner of our Future with some dear friends.
Who knows what the future holds....but if we live like this is the last year of our life, I place my bets on a palpitating heart from living fully.

Zen L. Honeycutt

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Oyster in the Chicken

I am pulling the tender meat off a cooked chicken, the flesh is soft and almost waxy, greasy with tasty fat and salty bits. I remember to get "the oyster" and I have a flashback of thirty years ago when I saw my mother pulling the meat off a carcass of a cooked chicken, preparing it for "Jook" or Chinese rice porridge, as I am doing now. She was peaceful, standing in front of the sink, sunlights shining on her round face, wisps of black hair over her ears...and she gently pulled apart the bones and wings to get every morsel of meat. As a curious child I asked her what she was doing, and she showed me, turning the chicken over and pointing out not to forget " the oyster". She pushed out a perfect oval shaped piece of slightly pinker meat, noticeably softer, and whispered in conspiracy, "It's my favorite part, the most tender, do you want it?" She held it out, fingers coated in grease, invitingly, happily, with an excited smile on her face. When she saw my hesitation her mind went to my siblings,"There's two, I'll put the other in the Jook." she said. I took the special morsel as a sacred honor, bit into it and noticed indeed it was more tender and flavorful. It instantly became my favorite too, and I will never forget that one moment when my mother taught me how to take them meat off a chicken, prepare Jook and treated me special, just that once, to have the whole oyster all to myself.
It occured to me that it's "something" to know how to cook Jook and get the oyster off the chicken. Not everyone knows that probably...
and then I though about all the other things my mother has taught me.
How to find the tiniest treasures in the snow or on a nature hike.
How to always say three good things before you say one constructive criticism to anyone.
How to, when you are made at someone, sit down and write three good things about them.
How to, when making flower arrangements, always put things in odd numbers. Three is good. ( She has three children, see a running theme here?)
How to say I love you frequently,daily, and include a hug.
How to wonder at children and play with them in their world.
How to laugh at the silliest of jokes and be free.
How to talk in front of people authentically, gracefully and be the source of laughter without trying to cause it.
How to give generously.
How to be creative even if you don't think you are "skilled enough".
How to be a friend and do fun things with them often.
How to travel adventurously.

I have learned much from my mother....often times she didn't intend to teach me what she did, but I was watching.
I still am, as she is source not only of great knowledge, but of great love.
And she can make the most mouthwatering Jook you ever tasted.
Recipe here:

Boil then simmer a cooked chicken carcass, meat removed, covered in water ( about a half gallon) for about two hours. Use a sieve and pour broth into another large pot and remove any more loose meat from the leftover bones and add to the broth. Add about 2 cups of cooked rice, depending on how much broth you made, so that it still looks soupy. Rice will expand dramatically. Add leftover cooked chicken, about 1 cup. Add 1 inch of minced fresh ginger ( skin removed) and it it easier to cut if frozen OR add one teaspoon of jarred ginger. Add three teaspoons of Soy Sauce, Tamari or Braggs. Stir occasionally and and cook for about 30 minutes, until rice has curled and expanded and porridge is somewhat thick. Chopped fresh scallions and scatter on top and serve immediately.
This is a fabulous breakfast or lunch on a cold day.
Chicken broth is a natural antibiotic, so it promotes good health too!
Thanks Mom!