Welcome to Moments Photography by Sandy's blog about photography and creativity. Always on the prowl for ways to keep learning, trying, inventing and shooting pictures. I will share my adventures, addictions, and antics below. Come visit often and share what you will. Live abundantly, giving, sharing and loving. . .
To soldier on means "to continue or persist, despite adversity or difficulty" by definition from Webster's Dictionary. And many men do this. We have this cultural expectation that at some point in a male's life the release of emotions is not thought of as "manly". Men must armor themselves with a facade so as not to appear weak or afraid. Feelings of sadness, worry, and grief, the "dark arts" are covered up. Like the rusty, chained suit of armor found attached to an abandoned building along the back roads, it remains unmovable. So like this "soldier" it rusts and remains unnoticed only to weigh down the individual all the more as it weathers over time.
Chained by the "unrelenting message: Do not be perceived as weak." (Daring Greatly by Brene Brown - this whole article comes from my interpretation and rewriting of her work on "How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.") We want to see our men as knights in shinning armor riding high on horses of noble lineage. Really? Do we really want our boys, teenagers, men, and or partners hiding away the feelings of their heart so we can live in a world romanticized in books and movies? Or do we want to share in the stories that dwell within the human like the living book that they each are?
To share these stores we all must dare to be seen. We dare to reveal the person within that has emotions. These emotions are ever changing. In order to be seen, we must dare to be vulnerable. This type of courage shows less fear than hiding behind the mask of "being a man about it". This sharing and "owning our story" is not granted to all who would listen, as the cultural norms still exist. This book within needs only to open with another who's trust has been earned while living life in the small moments, as trust is earned over time.
Some sights make me stop and just watch. On this particular day I saw this extremely large gathering of black birds. I can't say that they were crows but knowing that a group of crows is called a murder, I fancy that's what this is.
A murder of crows, a gaggle of geese. a congress of baboons all describe a group of animals. We human animals have a tendency to gather in groups. We are hard-wired for connections. And getting together is what we humans do. Sometimes these gatherings revel in a "Control Drama" of the Ego which reveals that many people are still living in the most primitive flight or fight syndrome. With birds it's easy to observe. In the human animal the responses have more names for "the fight". According to Deepak Chopra these names are intimidation, confrontation, argument, indifference, stubbornness, and manipulation ("How To Get What You Really, Really, Really, Really Want" by Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra). Carlos Castaneda says that there are only three types of people in this control drama life. The people are nice, nasty or indifferent. If you don't want to live this way, you have to pull yourself away from "the good opinion of others".
If you want to go beyond these types of responses, you need to understand that you can create a space between the stimulus and the response. I first learned about this with Stephen Covey in his book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". He called using this space "pro-active" and described it as choosing your response instead of responding instantly. Wayne Dyer calls this space "the witness". You look at the situation with the eyes of an observer. Deepak Chopra goes on to explain it as a way of looking without making labels, not judging it as good or bad, don't put any value on it or analyze it.
It's a practice that takes you away from the EGO (described as "Edging God Out" in the book "Lead Like Jesus"). Anything that isn't driven by the ego, is lead by the spirit. That makes this a spiritual practice that gets easier to do when you practice. Once you know there is another option, then you have to practice it to make it the default way of acting or reacting to any situation. Practicing Yoga or any physical activity where you are involved in the movement of your body and focusing on your breathing and activity will help your mind learn to slow down. Slowing or calming the mind is getting you to a place where you can observe, or witness what is going on, giving you the chance to really be in control of yourself.
Remind yourself: I choose ease. I choose peace. I choose joy. (Lesson from "Your Spacious Self" by Stephanie Bennett Vogt
Bob Dylan wrote, "...Yes, and how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind"
Blowin' in the wind, he says. Use that blowing wind, I say, because within the quiet of the mind, a voice guides. When thoughts come up, observe them as if it is a movie or cartoon. Don't judge them as good or bad. Don't decide if you should have them or not not. Look at them. Feel them in their entirety. And then you can let them go. Letting Go is like blowing in the wind. Once you are able to let go of these events that come up, more will come up to be released. Let them go, too. They need to go. They don't serve you anymore. Only what is in your best interest in your highest level of love and light can stay. (For more detailed information see the book of the same title: Letting Go by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.d
Cornbread Dressing was a new food for me when I came to the South in the 1980's. My favorite meal of the year has always been Thanksgiving for the turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry salad and pumpkin pie. The last two listed were made by my Grandma Jester and nobody makes it any better, unless they are using her recipe. The recipe and a fortitude to follow it makes all the difference in the world, come tasting time. So I asked my man how he makes cornbread dressing. All the dressing I had ever had with Thanksgiving faded away when I tasted cornbread dressing. First you'll need the recipe for cornbread in an earlier blog post:
Thankfully you won't be using all of the two pans of cornbread to make the dressing. There will be just enough for dinner the night you make the cornbread. You can actually make the cornbread the night before you make the cornbread dressing. So make two pans of cornbread then read on....
Ingredients: onion, celery, butter, cream of chicken/celery/or mushroom soup (only 1 can, choose), 1 egg, and 1 tsp. fresh sage (really, get some fresh sage for this cornbread). 2 pans of cornbread, 9"x13" pan
Saute the 2 stalks of celery cut into small pieces and cook in the pan with butter until they soften a bit. Then add in the diced onions and cook until the onions become transparent. Remove from the heat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl crumble up one and a half pans of cornbread (you get half of one pan for dinner. So be sure you have your vegetables on low simmer while you are making the cornbread dressing mixture). Add in the cream of soup of your choice, 1 egg (already beaten), 1 tsp. sage, a bit of salt and pepper. Mix it but not too much. It should be a liquid like texture.
Cook until brown, 30-45 min.
It's relatively simple to make. It tastes fancy. It's so delicious.
It is said that a recipe starts with a list of ingredients. I would not agree. A recipe starts with a yummy thought of eating something that brings pleasure to the senses. Anyway. that's how it starts in my world. I think about the yummyness (I know this is a made up word. It doesn't look right if I change the y to an i, so forgive me) of cornbread and how it comforts my senses. It gives the sense that time is forever the "now feeling" of being in a warm kitchen with the smells of corn and vegetables lingering as they are slowly absorbed from my nose to my gut. If you know what I mean, you are more than ready for the list of ingredients below and a few words for the how to part...
As seen you'll need an iron skillet smothered in vegetable shortening. Yes, you can still buy this at the store, (Crisco makes it) in the south anyway.
In a bowl, put 2 cups of White Lily: Enriched White Cornmeal Mix, Self-Rising. The recipe is on the side of the package (except the part under the first picture, which is a southern secret). You can substitute but don't complain if your cornbread doesn't look like the last picture. The package does say "Crisco Original No-Stick Cooking Spray." No doubt someone paid them to put it there. See note in parenthesis for recommendations by this "Army Brat" that found the best tasting cornbread makers to get this yum written down. You will also need 1 egg, 1/4 c. vegetable oil, and 1 1/2 c. Buttermilk. Buttermilk makes the best bread. Milk is a second best, because it's better than no cornbread. But Buttermilk really does make the best bread.
Stir all the ingredients with a fork. Allow the mixture to be somewhat lumpy. Pour this into the iron skillet. There is a debate if you need to put the iron skillet in the oven while it preheats or pour the batter into a cold skillet. Both methods work well. I prefer the heated pan because I love the thin crusted edge it makes all around the bottom of the bread.
Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minuets, give or take 5-10 minutes. And oh, that does look like a good beginning for some cornbread. I just might have to make some more after writing and viewing this post. Shear yum. The peas are from the garden and are cooking while the bread cooks. Below, the bread is cut so you can view the bottom of the bread on the left and the piece to the right is how the top side of the bread looks. How the bread tastes is left for you to describe after you make some of your own. Within the next week I promise to extend this blog with another post using this cornbread recipe as the start to cornbread dressing. I have always loved dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, I had no idea how much more I would love dressing when I moved south and had cornbread dressing. It's not hard to make once you can make cornbread. And it is beyond good to eat. (Keep your eye out for some fresh Sage to use in the next recipe of cornbread dressing.)