Oh, it's been a big week.
Last Wednesday, I picked up I picked up Lila-the-puppy, brought her home and almost immediately fell into a warm bath of Sweetness, Connection and ... yes, Ease. A strong sense of familiarity, too. Quite amazing. Even Meethra-the-cat seems to recognize it. I am so grateful, and still in awe of Life's everyday magic.
If you want to fill up on puppy photos, including some of her mom and dad (you know I HAD to look them up), jump over to my FB page and drink in the delight. So good. So good.
And then, because Sweeteness bequeaths more Sweetness, I had the privilege to make a super chocolate cake for a friend's birthday. As I usually do when I need something excellent, I reached for my former bakery's stack of recipes. These are tried and true, cherished for years and years by hundreds of people and infused with the love of running that magical place.
I found THE chocolate cake recipe, adapted it to be without gluten and then went on the lookout for a kick-butt chocolate frosting.
Usually, I would opt for the bakery's signature rich traditional French buttercream. You can't go wrong with that. But I had no eggs and did not want to go to the store. So I picked up a chocolate stained, dog eared, well-used cookbook from my small collection, and found just the thing to try.
A couple of hours later, as all the adults were polishing their last piece, a wise 4-year old with a full mouth was heard saying that "this was the best cake he had had in his whole life."
And because these things are always better shared (although I am saving many bakery recipes for the book I WILL write someday), today I am going to share this recipe with you.
It is QUICK, SIMPLE (3 ingredients) EASY, and DELICIOUS. And really, it barely needs a cake to go with it. A spoon would do just fine.
Let me know what you think, ok? And you do need a blender for this one.
Oh, and come over and see Lila's pics :)
🌼 Awesome Fudge Frosting 🌼
(adapted from "Rosie's Bakery All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed Baking Book")
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 C + 2 Tbsp evaporated milk
1 1/2 C sugar
1) Melt the chocolate and cool a little
2) Blend the evaporated milk and sugar on medium speed for 2 seconds
3) Add the melted chocolate and blend on high speed until the frosting is thick and shiny. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 minutes, and the blender's sound will change as soon as that happens.
Spoon into a bowl and leave on the counter, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Then cover it and let sit (un-refrigerated) for an hour.
And then, one more piece of goodness.
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Wishing you a sweet, lovely, and delicious day!
eTwo years, eleven months and twenty-five days ago, I held my Furry Soul Sister as our vet helped her out of a body that was no longer a fit for her exuberant spirit. She was sixteen years old, we had spent most of the hours of the last 12 years together, and the hole she left in my heart never fully healed. I don't think it ever will, and in a way, I am grateful for that. I believe that in these twelve years she and I clocked in the most hours I have ever spent in the proximity of another soul, and our connection ran deep. Somehow the grief is necessary for its reminder of the love.
I knew that eventually, another dog and I would meet and decide to share the road together. As an adult, I have spent very little time unattached to a pup of some kind, and well, as much as I have truly enjoyed the freedom of the last three years, and as much as Meethra-the-cat has loved being an only child, I know that my life is more complete with a furry friend with whom to share it.
But it was not time. Even though tears welled up instantly at the sight of shaggy black dogs, or even talking about Roxy, as much as my close friends seemed to think otherwise, I was not ready.
Until a few weeks ago.
As my son was telling me about his landlord's puppies, something inside of me opened just a tiny crack. Then we talked about going to the dog shelter the following Sunday. Just to see.
First to the Humane Society then to NOAH, the place where we had found our girl many many years ago.
That little adventure alone was a huge gift. My three kids rallied to meet me there, and it was a heart and mind swirl. The last time we had been there, they were all young children, and I was very much the mom. In charge, or at least looking the part. This time, I felt as though they were caring for me.
As soon as we got out of the car, like a homing pigeon, I just wanted to go back to The Pod where I had found her on that special, fated fall day. I did not want to talk, my throat was tight, my heart trying to stay quiet, and I just just just wanted to walk into that very specific area and look through the glass. They followed me, and as I peered through the big door, I felt a hand on my back. They knew. They knew that in some crazy insane way I had thought that maybe she would be there waiting for me.
She wasn't, and while none of the dogs there called my heart, I will never forget the deep, deep sweetness of that day. There is something about the markers, the rituals, the moments that invite us to look at how time has passed and all of the richness we have lived, and the ways in which we have been transformed. It was a sacred afternoon.
During the next three weeks, I must have seen close to 200 more dogs. That's some serious Door Peeking.
I Declared my Essences: Ease, Sweetness and Connection. I begged for Roxy's guidance.
On a quick round trip to Portland to visit a friend, I stopped at each and every shelter down and back.
I kept looking.
And just as I was about to give up on what I remembered as the connection I had shared with Roxy (did I imagine it??) - my friend's huge Bernese Mountain Dog bore her eyes into mine and held my gaze for longer than I could take. Tears streaming down my face, I heard her.
Last Sunday, after a lovely nap on the couch, I decided to go back to NOAH and take a look at their new arrivals.
Waking through the impeccable main hallway, (my god, these shelters are so well taken care of, and the staff so loving) 20 minutes before they closed, I felt as though this was just another looksie time — no one there for me.
Then, of course, I had to visit The Pod, the birthplace of my 12-year-long love story. And once inside the door, I had to look inside "her" space.
A litter of puppies. Sweet as puppies tend to be, various shades of black brown and beige, all short-haired, they were puppy-adorable. Playing, running, the joy-meter was high.
And for all my belief in living from Essence rather than Form, I realized looking at this explosion of delight, that my mind was hooked on a Form.
Fluffy. I wanted fluffy.
Just as I made this realization, I heard a voice behind me say: "Oh, did you see the fluffy one? There is one fluffy one in there."
One fluffy one, alright. A tad bigger than her brothers and sisters, majorly fluffier, there she was.
Minutes later, thanks to the kindness of the volunteer on duty (they were closing in 10 minutes) we were allowed within the puppy kingdom.
Wow. They should charge for this.
Twenty-eight paws, seven tongues, and fourteen brown eyes of the most delicious mayhem.
We put miss Fluffy Face on hold, and I went back with my daughter the next morning.
Today, after I get off work, a friend of mine and I are going to pick her up and bring her home.
I have talked to Meethra-the-cat (who loved loved loved her big sister but as a rule hates any other dog - or cat) and asked her to please consider this, to please allow for the possibility of a new, beautiful sister, and the gifts she could bring. I have also promised her that if she let me know that after a couple of weeks she is miserable, I would honor my commitment to her and bring "Lila"* back for someone else to share their lives and hearts with her.
I am trusting. I am trusting that Roxy is organizing all of this and that she knows best. I am trusting that I will know and I am trusting in co-creation.
So today it is, and I am guessing not a whole lot of sleep may be had in the next few days.
My heart is ready.
Today, I invite you to know when your heart is ready - and when it's not. I invite you to Door Peek with a powerful blend of Courage and Trust as you do so.
Finally, I invite you to know what your commitments are and to honor them, even if it chips your heart a little bit.
Here's to Roxy, Lila, Meethra, and all these beautiful souls we have the privilege to loving.
A few years back, I was invited to speak at our local County Commissioners meeting. I was not entirely sure what it was they wanted me to talk about, just a vague request to "come to tell us what you do."
So I did.
A few friends came along for support, and when it was my turn, I stepped up to the podium and shared a summary of what my work is, what I get up excited to do every day. Speaking to a panel of 5 very grown-up looking people, four men and one woman, if I remember well.
As I was telling them about people wearing yellow shirts, about our gratitude box, our community potlucks, and other happiness-celebrating invitations, I was growing increasingly aware of "The Observer." The Observer was the part of me who was not talking about such slightly unconventional work things but instead was observing me talk about them - and having a few opinions about it all. Turns out The Observer also had a few things to say about my audience.
Hard to keep on talking about happiness when the voice in your head is such a grump.
Somehow I managed to deliver the few points I had prepared, thanked them for their time, and yes, finally stopped talking.
Things seemed mighty quiet for what felt like a long time.
Should I get down from the podium? Will there be questions? Is there some sort of protocol, here?
Before The Observer started spewing again, the one lady spoke. Her first few words, looking straight at me, were: "You have made my ...." somewhere in my mind I wondered if she could, possibly could say that I had made her day. "You have made my whole career," she finished.
Um... what? Who?
I knew I had to say something, but my eyes got a little blurry and my throat a little tight, as she looked straight at me, and I tried to take in her words.
She had liked it. She had liked what I had said and did not think it was silly.
I thanked her in what looked like an assured way.
The Observer was snoring, having conveniently missed my big moment.
Then, the man at the end of the row, the man whom The Observer had said looked angry, that man got ready to talk.
Of course, The Observer woke up and opened an eye as this promised to be good.
"Well," he started.
I held my breath.
"Well. I liked what you said, and I liked what you said about gratitude. Personally, I get a little tired of sitting here, Tuesday after Tuesday, listening to a string of complaints of what is not working. Starting next week, I would like to implement a 15-minutes "County and Individual Success Stories" segment. We will invite people to come to the podium and tell us what's going well."
Just. Like. That.
The Observer looked disgusted and left the room.
Something inside of me filled up and found a place to settle, and my friends got up and clapped.
Years later, this 15-minute invitation remains as a container for people to share their gratitude and appreciation.
So today, I invite you to never dismiss the power YOUR story holds. Share the good, share your heart, share the stuff that seems to not make that much sense - yet does.
Next, I invite you to never take Your Observer too seriously, especially when it is telling you about how silly you are.
Finally, if I have inspired you, today or another day, I will borrow the prompt of my friend Julia Butterfly Hill and ask you: "what is it that I am inspiring YOU to do?"
Wishing you a lovely rest of the day,
PS: If you want some structure and support in growing the Gratitude in your own life, I encourage you to become part of my free, powerful and oh so sweet online Gratitude Group!