Singing Bowl

Each summer, I escape the flatlands of south Louisiana for some time in Tennessee.  It’s never long enough, but always fulfilling and downright fun, as the time is spent visiting friends, playing a few gigs, and attending the NAMM show in Nashville.

NAMM stands for the National Association of Music Merchants, and they have a huge trade show in Anaheim, California each January to introduce new instruments, new technology, and just about everything new (as well as old and faithful) in the world of musical manufacture.  I’ve been to the Anaheim show a few times, and it is busy, crowded and crazy.  The Nashville show in the summer is smaller, with fewer booths, but has the advantage of being within driving distance.  It’s also in an area of the country that I love.

NAMM 2016

A quiet moment at the Summer 2016 NAMM show

I’ve found several instruments and fun things over the years at NAMM, and the show always brings wonderful synchronicity for music partner Bubba and me.  A summer NAMM show was where I discovered and fell in love with Luna guitars.

That same show was where Bubba and I met mastering engineer extraordinaire Roger Nichols (think: Steely Dan) and where he offered to master our Blue Merlot CD.  We have found instruments, equipment, and made new connections and friends over the years.  Bubba, who is a Grammy-winning engineer and producer, goes with a list of manufacturers and new software / gear that he wants to learn about.  I go with an open mind, looking for inspiration (as well as a wish list of items, such as an easy midi controller for our pipe organ at Epiphany).  Last summer I found a wonderful harp (Harpsicle) that has given me relaxation and another inspirational sound to play with.  (www.harpsicle-harps.com)

My harp

My Harpsicle…pluck away in Dorian mode for lovely, relaxing (and easy) music!

As we walked from the car to the Music City Center, Bubba asked “are you looking for anything in particular?”

“Nah, not really” I replied.  I was more focused on the gigs we had lined up, and was content just to see what was new, though heaven knows we need some new mic stands.

“But…” I said, “I would love to find a Tibetan singing bowl.”

This isn’t the type of thing that we usually see at the show, but you never know.

We arrived, got our badges, and I put in my earplugs to buffer the onslaught of noise that is typical for NAMM.  Every guitar slinger, drummer, etc. wants to try out the goods.  I keep thinking that it would be nice if NAMM posted the “key of the day” so at least there would be some continuity in the cacaphony, but that hasn’t happened. We entered the huge showroom, with aisle after aisle of everything from acoustic guitars to zithers.  The first booth we saw had tubas in purple and other bright colors.

purple tuba

A very bright tuba!

 

BUT – right next to that was a booth with Tibetan singing bowls!  A whole booth of singing bowls,  crystal bowls, tingshas, drums and more.

Now at NAMM, there is a background melee of every kind of musical instrument, soundtrack, synth and drum that mashes together in a mess that doesn’t even resemble music but rather what I imagine a barrel of wet, angry cats would sound like.  Anyone with “soft” instruments is at a disadvantage, especially if they are anywhere near the drums (this is a “hands on” kind of show). This particular booth, Serenity Tibet, was an aisle over from the drums.  Yikes, how was I going to hear them?

In spite of everything, there was a sense of centeredness in the booth. Bowls like this are used in meditation.  A quick lesson from Ruby Shrestha taught me how to elicit tones from the bowls – that I could hear, in spite of the screaming cats chorus all around me.

No one had to show me how to feel them.  These bowls vibrated like crazy.  At the Serenity Tibet boot, I learned that Sureen Shrestha uses bowls like these in healing and teaches healing at his school in Colorado. I’ve been drawn to sound healing for a long time, and these bowls seemed to be an affirmation that this is an interest begging for more exploration. I purchased Sureen’s book, How to Heal with Singing Bowls, and resolved to purchase a bowl the next day.

I began reading the book that night, and felt a click of agreement when I noticed that Sureen referred to quantum theory in his book.  We feel and interact with sounds and vibrations. As a singer, I feel the songs that I sing.  (Yes, some feel much better than others, and it’s not necessarily linked to the lyrics.) On the very smallest level, we are – and everything in creation is – energy.  Like sound, we are made of vibrating particles / waves, in a marvelous swirling sea of cosmic energy.

I could go off on a quantum tangent here, but I’ll save that for another day.  Let’s just say that the tones and vibrations of the bowls are very centering and grounding.  The give you an aural sigh of relief felt throughout the body.

I selected a bowl the next day, or perhaps it chose me.  Through the rest of our trip, it came with me everywhere. It stayed in the car only when we were going to a different place – I brought it out to ring wherever we were, experiencing calm when I did so. What a great way to re-energize hotel rooms!  A visit with friends Deacon Diane, Vickie and Sister Madeleine Mary saw (and heard) the bowl passed around, and sparked a conversation on sound and spirituality. The bowl began inviting synchronicity and happy accidents immediately (more on that in another post).

singing bowl 2

The bowl that asked to be mine.

The bowl that I selected is handmade, formed and hammered from 7 different metals that Ruby explained correlate to the 7 chakras, or energy centers of the body.  Most are made in Nepal, and they are infused with prayer and intent as they are crafted.  You can learn more about these specific bowls at  www.atmabuti.org.  Other bowls were machine made, inscribed with the beauty of images, symbols and Sanskrit prayers and words.  I saw and heard an incredible frosted crystal bowl, inscribed with Om. Even in the noise bath of NAMM, we could hear the voices and feel the spirits of these bowls, bells and drums.

I am often amused at how new things – especially musical things – pop into my life.  This little bowl was an immediate and complete response to my thought “I’d love to find this….” It doesn’t always happen that way, but it’s fun when it does.  We resonate.

Imagine

Imagine a world where no one is harmed because they are perceived as “different” or “sinful.”

Imagine a world where abortion is widely available…and no one has one.

Imagine a world where everyone has access to guns…and no one uses them.

Imagine a world where there is free access to all drugs…and no one abuses them.

Imagine a world where anyone can say or write their own truth…and no one expresses hatred.

imagine

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. – John Lennon

Imagine a world where families can choose schools for their children that offer all subjects, including music and the arts.
Imagine a world where everyone is free to worship as they please, and to freely express their faith…and no one is harmed or offended.

Imagine a world where people were free to live wherever they wished…and no one was homeless.

Imagine a world where no one was jobless…because everyone had meaningful, productive work available.

Imagine a world with widely accessible health care…and no one needed it.

Imagine a world where no one wanted to eat junk and processed foods.

Imagine a world without environmental restrictions because everyone respected and cared for the earth.

Imagine a world where countries had armed forces and military…who were never called into action.

all shall be well

All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. – Julian of Norwich. Stone bench by the boxwood labyrinth at the convent of the Community of St. Mary in Tennessee.

Imagine a surplus of food and clean water, plenty to go around…and if an individual or an entire area of the world needed help, they received it because someone wanted to help.

Imagine a world where honest leaders were elected and served without compensation…because they truly wanted to serve.

Imagine living in such a world, where peace begins with the individual.  Just for today, try living into that truth in some way.

You don’t have to believe it; reality starts with a vision…imagination.

D-Day Gratitude

Today is the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, and I am once again deeply and profoundly grateful for freedom.

DDay monument copy

National World War II Memorial, Washington, DC

This afternoon while driving, I heard an excerpt of a speech given by Ronald Regan in 1984, on the 40th anniversary of D-Day.  As he related that fateful day, he said that Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue.…there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest.

Amen, amen.

Marine Corps monument

Marine Corps War Memorial, Washington, DC

I mused a lot about prayer and war as I drove, and got home and started writing.  Then I put my musings aside and lost myself in reading the transcript of his speech.  There’s no way I can add to this, so I’ll just include another quote from President Regan’s speech:

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought — or felt in their hearts, though they couldn’t know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-day: their rockhard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we’re about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

Find the full text – transcript and recording – here.  Read it, bookmark it, and join me in giving thanks for all who have fought – and will fight – for freedom and peace.

Arlington

The last verse of Horace Trim’s (original) lyrics of Taps:

Thanks and praise for our days
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, ‘neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.

 

Mountain Thoughts

My friends Diane Moore and Victoria Sullivan are both gifted authors (and publishers) who divide their time between south Louisiana and the mountains of Tennessee.  In addition to new worlds of poetry and polyploids (more on that later), they have introduced me to the Community of St. Mary, an Episcopal Benedictine convent on the mountain in Sewanee. Music partner Joshua (aka Bubba) and I were featured musical performers at a recent fundraiser for the convent.

It was a weekend of unexpected blessings and surprises.  We were provided lodging in the convent, and this respite from daily life was welcome indeed.  Not just the quiet and beauty of this place on the mountain, but the peaceful presence of the sisters create a haven saturated with the presence of spirit. Even cell phone service is nonexistent. Hooray!

st marys convent

Convent of the Community of St. Mary, Sewanee, Tennessee

Saturday was a day of focus on the fundraiser, a focus on the gig.  Haul equipment, check out the venue, set up, do sound check, run through everything, put away cases.  Head back to the convent to change for the evening.  No big meal prior to playing or singing, so we fixed plates of a delicious meal and asked the caterers to please keep them safe as we’d be eating later.

setup 2 upload

Setup for St. Mary’s Gala…I’m glad we only had to deal with the sound system and instruments!

A room a bit too cold for this south Louisiana singer; I was trying to ignore the temperature as I sang.  Don’t move around, the stage floor was hollow, and our prerecorded tracks (which had behaved perfectly in rehearsal) decided to skip occasionally.  Technology is wonderful – when it works. (Computer? Tablet? Misbehaving!)

The evening was enjoyable in spite of a couple of gremlins in the technology, and successful.  Sister Madeleine Mary and her team of interns (Heather, Waddy and Andrew) had put together a wonderful event, and we were delighted to be a part of it.  At then end of the evening, it was teardown and loadout.  In the midst of it all, we discovered that the caterers, in their rush to clean up, had thrown out our food.  So much for that caramel cheesecake…sigh. I probably eat cheesecake once a year, and that was going to be my yearly cheesecake decadence.  Oh, well.  A late-night trek to McDonald’s in a nearby town brought memories of even later night meals after bar gigs. I finally crawled into bed exhausted.

Sunday morning I pried myself out of bed at 7:40 and performed the barest basics of morning presentability.  I made it to the chapel for Eucharist with 5 minutes to spare.

st marys chapel

The chapel at the convent. (Don’t you love fisheye lenses?)

I was expecting a small crowd, but this tiny chapel was full.  Barely awake (with no time for coffee), I settled into the liturgy and hymns with relief.  I’m tired, Lord, but I’m glad I’m here.  I relaxed into the community of the congregation.  In addition to the sisters, interns and Diane and Vickie, there were quite a few faces I’d seen the night before.

The service ended and we enjoyed breakfast together.  And coffee.  (Thank  you, Lord, for coffee; it is absolutely one of your finest creations, along with music and chocolate. Amen!)

I looked to the afternoon, spread out before me with very little “to do” listed there.  Lunch at 1.  Repack the car.  See some mountains. Take some photos. Listen. Above all, just listen, just be.

sewanee view

Dogwood trees on the mountain

Every child attending a Catholic school hears, sooner or later (usually both sooner AND later) , The Lecture On Vocations. Is God calling you to Holy Orders?  I’d heard The Lecture often, but could never imagine myself in such a setting.  I knew the Sisters of Mercy that served my school, and spent some time visiting and praying in their convent.  I could not see myself there, and always felt a call to motherhood instead.

The Community of St. Mary, though, is more than just the sisters who live in the convent.  They have associates who live in the community, and the convent’s influence is evident to even a new visitor such as myself.  The rhythm of their lives and peaceful presence are threads woven beyond the physical space of convent and chapel.  Through our mutual friends, they have touched my life in the past as far away as south Louisiana.  Through spending time here, they have touched my life again, and I returned home to Louisiana with a bit of their spirit with me.

The very air there is saturated with a sense of the creative, evident in some of the silent auction offerings at the gala, and certainly evident in the writings of Diane and Vickie. One of Diane’s poetry collections, In a Convent Garden, has a photo of a small concrete statue of a merry nun on a swing.  I smiled when I saw the original. Two of Vickie’s novels deal with a fascinating “it-could-almost-happen” new race of humans called polyploids.  I will let creativity strike as it may and be content that I soaked up the blissful peacefulness.

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. – Luke 5:15-16

I realize such quiet time isn’t a luxury, but a need. If Jesus needed solitude and “down time,” don’t we all? I was reminded of a far distant ancestor of mine, who at the end of a life of political and family intrigue, leadership, and imprisonment, retired to a convent in France.  I can understand her desire for the sanctuary that such a place provided.  We all need rest to combat the weariness of the spirit.

Diane’s blog is A Word’s Worth

Vickie’s first book about polyploids: Pinyon Publishing

Poetry and other good reads by Diane, Vickie, Anne Simon and others at Border Press

 

 

The Power of Prayer

If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. ~ Lao Tzu

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. ~ Jill Jackson

Once again we are inundated with news of a terrorist bombing; this time in Brussels.  The world responds with sadness, anger, and prayers for peace; all of this happening during the Christian Holy Week.  Then, there is the backlash: “Prayers and flowers don’t work, do something real!”

Pardon me, but there are many of us throughout the world who believe in the power of prayer. We are not bible-hugging brainwashed imbeciles, contrary to what much of the media would have one believe. I myself am a great skeptic and a born-again cynic, but I believe in the power of prayer.

I believe because I’ve seen the results.  Prayer changes us, and thus prayer can change the world.  Perhaps those who cry for something more concrete are doing so because they feel powerless.  They’ve heard of miracle cures, but perhaps never saw the cure they thought they should see in a loved one.  Prayers are answered, but not always as we expect or even ask.

Epiphany bare altar

Holy Saturday at Epiphany

Prayers for healing may result in a miraculous bodily cure, which may or may not be assisted by medical intervention.  Or they may result in not the healing of the body, but the healing of the spirit – or the healing of an entire family, once broken, but drawn together in love once again.

Some of the more eye-opening answered prayers I’ve witnessed have been things such as Hurricane Lili in 2002 which suddenly slowed from a category 5 to a category 2 right before making landfall in south Louisiana.  Or my mom’s healing from an aneurysm that burst in her brain – which spontaneously healed up and quit bleeding.

“Oh yeah, do you think God’s gonna send a band of angels to fix this?” (Well, they do show up with the Armed Forces…) “What do you think prayer is going to do?”

What will prayer do?  If nothing else, prayer changes the one who practices it.  Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher and songwriter Jill Jackson were separated by 25 or so centuries, and both pointed out this basic truth: Peace begins with the individual.

“It’s not ME, it’s THEM.”  Yeah, I know. But I can’t change “them.”  I can, however, change myself, and prayer helps me.  Heck, even atheists say “be good for goodness’ sake.”  If you can’t, don’t, or won’t believe in a power greater than yourself, you can at least look at human nature and see the power of the group. Your own inner peace, your goodness for whatever reason, has a positive effect on the group(s) to which you belong.

How can our simple prayers, half a world away, change what is happening beyond our own community?  I could simply say “that’s where faith comes in.”  I know people who respond this way. I wish I could.

Cynic that I am, however, I have to let my brain chew things over.  So I pray, I think of the anger and hatred in the world, and open my heart, mind and spirit to the question of “what can I, one person, do?’

I look at the world around me and am moved to act.  My eyes are open.  These terror acts are tied up in the world of international relations, foreign policy, national defense…ah, and there’s an election this year. Some areas of our country have several races on their ballots.  I can become as informed as I possibly can be about the situations and the candidates, and make the best decision that I can.

I can rattle the phones and in-boxes of my elected representatives. I can get involved in local efforts to make a difference in my own community.  I can donate time and funds to causes I believe in. I can send cleaning supplies with a friend traveling to a flooded section of Louisiana, knowing through personal experience that even a small helping hand from a stranger can give one the strength to get through a disaster. I can join my voice to those of others in song, in prayer, in protest.

praying hands

Never doubt the power of prayer, and never doubt the power of shared intention.  You want a more concrete example?  How about fundraisers that ask a lot of people for just a dollar or two? My few bucks are just a drop in the bucket, but add that to a million people and that’s a huge, powerful bucket. I believe it’s the same with prayer.

This past Holy Week at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany has seen a dramatic increase in mid-week attendance. Last Sunday, and again at last night’s Good Friday service, Fr. Matt spoke about what one individual can do.  From the hyperactive media as a whole to individual citizens, we are asking the question “What can I do?” We are coming together in search for answers, sharing and growing the intention and desire for peace.

Lynn McTaggert, author and architect of The Intention Experiment, is one who has been experimenting with the effects of group intention.  Larry Dossey is a physician and author who has done extensive work with the efficacy of prayer as a healing modality.  These, and many others, are looking at nonphysical interventions such as prayer and meditation in a structured way – and finding what many of us know anecdotally to be true actually is demonstrable.  No one suggests that an ailing person abandon all medical intervention and rely on prayer alone, but prayer is a part of a multifaceted approach to healing.

It is the same when it comes to healing the world.  Whether we are hoping to heal the spirit, the body, or the world, prayer has an important place, if for no other reason than it helps peace to begin with me.

When you think about it, that’s really the only place that peace can begin.

Filling in the Gaps

Our church has a small but dedicated choir, but we often  compliments such as “it sounds like the loft is FULL! It sounds like there’s a lot more people singing up there than there is!” It’s a lovely comment, especially as we’re often more of a quartet than a choir.

My friend (and fellow chorister) Margaret recently observed: “I think that God comes in and fills in the empty spaces for us.”

hymnals

We do sing with intention. We want to give our best to God, to our church family, and to Leon (our choir director who brings out the best in us).  I think Margaret got it just right: God does fill in the spaces and magnifies our efforts. God can enlarge what we do if we allow it. Here’s an example from my own musical life:

On December 27, 2011, I lost my hearing in my left ear.  Unable to find any other explanation for this sudden change (I’m meticulous about hearing protection when performing), my doctors figured it was the result of “a virus.”  Over the next year I went through multiple tests, consultations, and listening to well-meaning folks telling me that it might just be wax in my ears, and why didn’t I just have surgery? I clung to hope of a spontaneous return of hearing (it might happen, my doctor said, we have to give it a year).  I resisted the idea of a hearing aid for a while, and then began to look forward to the one year mark when I could begin the process of being fitted for a hearing aid.

That was not to be.  The sensorineural hearing loss I have does not respond to a hearing aid.  Welcome to life in monaural. I cried a river.

I’ve had to adapt.  In the case of Epiphany’s choir, small is a blessing for me.  I’m able to hear and enjoy the other parts without being distracted or confused.  You can’t sing harmony without listening to what else is going on. While that’s not a problem with two working ears, it’s very tricky with only one. Unison singing can be challenging if we’re not all completely unison.  My fellow choir members have become used to my moving around to find just the right spot to stand in the loft so that I can hear. At least solos are easy.

Recording vocal parts requires adjustment, too.  My music partner Joshua and I recently remixed and re-recorded some demos from our Women at the Well program and released a short CD.  A main objective was to re-record vocals and add vocal harmonies on several of the tracks, and there’s where God filled in the blanks.

Adding the harmonies required overdubbing – me singing different lines over myself.  You can’t do that without hearing everything, and hearing everything with only one ear means the brain is  processing some signals differently.  I can’t exactly describe it, but I do know I had to completely re-learn how to manage this.

Since the only budget for this project was earmarked for CD replication, we were recording at Joshua’s house.  The bathroom was the vocal booth.  Contrary to what you may think, that’s not because of “bathroom acoustics” but rather because it was the quietest room in the house. Since a vocal booth needs to be “dead,” we had a lot of blankets and towels draped everywhere!

It’s a pretty funny picture.  I was standing in a tiny bathroom, blankets draped over the shower curtain rod and piled in the bathtub, a big stuffed teddy bear crammed into the closet-without-a-door, scribbled notation taped to the wall in front of me so I’d remember exactly what to sing (what line am I singing now?) and I’m holding one headphone a couple of inches away from my ear so I can hear where to come in – but not so much as to be confusing….In the middle of all of this, a daddy longlegs spider appeared in the corner to watch.

Our budget also doesn’t allow for autotune, so it had to be perfect.

When I heard the final product, I cried with joy and relief.  I’d feared I’d never be able to do this again, yet there it was, beautiful harmonies and all.

One of the first people to hear the final product was our friend Danny, who plays keyboards and sings backup in a world-touring zydeco band.  Danny knows of my hearing loss, and also understands what’s necessary in overdubbing harmony lines.  How did you do that with just one ear?  he asked.  That’s a miracle.

God stepped in to fill in the blanks inside of my head and ears.  A next-to-nothing budget, Joshua’s considerable production skills and a whole lot of Divine assistance gave us a CD we could be proud of, that we could offer to those who heard our Women at the Well program and wanted to revisit the music again and again.

God fills in the empty spaces wherever we allow God to do so.  My hearing loss makes me realize that if I’m going to keep doing what I love, I need God to fill in those empty spaces.

This morning I was fixing my tea and thinking about Margaret’s comment, our “heavenly choir” and how God fills things out for us.  My eyes fell on a mail order catalog that my husband had left open on the kitchen table.  There was a teeshirt that simply said:

God greater than

God is greater than. Can I get an AMEN? God is greater than anything and will fill in the blank spaces when we allow it.

To learn more about the Women at the Well program, visit www.women-at-the-well.com. For information about the Living Water CD, visit www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbontherock The CD page has the latest recordings.

Mindful Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for so many things: Love, health, family, home, safety, freedom, peace.  I am fortunate because I will join loved ones for a good meal. I am blessed, and I am grateful.

Let’s be honest, though – the holidays are also high-stress.  Stretched finances, overtaxed schedules, family members who make us wonder if there wasn’t some mixup at the hospital, and finding the right gift all take their toll.  No wonder our habit of overeating gets cranked up a notch while our belts are loosened the same way!

pumpkinpie

Author, spiritual teacher and friend Lynn Woodland points out an alternative way of approaching the holiday table(s): Make your eating a spiritual activity.  Not only will you slow down your eating (enabling your brain to trigger the “I’m full!” signal at a time when you can stop eating before misery kicks in), you’ll enjoy your food more.

Give thanks (you can do this silently if you wish) before diving in.  Notice the beauty of your food as well as the taste.  When I cook, I pay attention to colors and textures as well as flavors.  Be grateful for the bounty of our Creator and the creativity of chefs! I’m grateful for the hands that harvested, the hands that cooked (and, of course, the hands that clean). I’m grateful for the nourishment.  When was the last time you really sat and chewed and noticed how good that food is, and how good it is for your body?  And if it isn’t all that good, why are you even eating it?

Eat mindfully, and mindfulness will start to spread throughout your holidays.  Here’s something new to experience: Allow yourself to eat whatever you want – but ask yourself first if you really want it.  If you must follow a special diet for health reasons, you’ll need to modify this.  However, you can still look at that “forbidden” food in a new way: Does it serve me?  Does it strengthen my body, enhance my health and well-being?  You may be surprised to find that the fat-and-sugar laden former “treat” starts to lose its appeal. If you still want it (and it’s safe to eat it for health reasons), go ahead and enjoy it! Enjoy every single bite.  Slowly. Imagine yourself a judge on Chopped and chew slowly, exploring all the nuances of flavors and textures.  If you’re full before you finish the serving, you can always ask for a to-go box!

pecans

I’ve found this to be a very beneficial practice for body and spirit.  With our recent change to a mostly-vegan lifestyle, I find myself seeking out different foods, and exploring them this way.  Beans are a staple of our diet, and I often experiment with “new” beans.  My husband says “a bean’s a bean!” but is beginning to discern subtle differences between them – and that’s just with the humble members of the legume family.

Food is sustenance and comfort.  It is an excuse to celebrate, an event to bring people together. It is an expression of joy, sorrow, or support.  We’re so used to that rush of deliciousness with the first few bites that we tend to plow through the rest of the dish without even giving our taste buds time to register their bliss.  I’ve joked about pecan pie – the first bite is heaven, the second bite is great, and the third bite – well, it’s so rich, I’ve had enough!  But really, what’s wrong with that?  Take a smaller serving.  If you fear the cook will be offended (a common occurrence in south Louisiana – “what, you don’t like it?”), fear not.  Your slow and thorough enjoyment will be obvious, and you may start commenting on flavor nuances that you’ve never noticed before!

Take your time today and throughout the holidays.  Savor time with loved ones as you savor each bite, and give thanks. When we focus on how truly special everything in life is, we slow down our rush to find more.  We realize that maybe we really don’t need more of anything.  We have plenty, and we are blessed.