Are You Superstitious?

Do you avoid walking on cracks, under ladders, or cross yourself when a black cat crosses the street in front of you?

I must admit that I am selectively superstitious. I never believed that my sweet black kitty, would create any misfortune, but I do not ever want to break a mirror because of the resulting seven years of bad luck. Ever since I learned that placing my purse on the floor pulls my money away from me, I would rather sit on my purse than place it on the floor. I am sure that you, like me, don’t really take these superstitions seriously, but when given the choice, we abide by the lore, just in case.

But, where do these superstitions come from? Is there some kind of proof, anectdotal or otherwise, that led to the belief that if you step on a crack you break your mother’s back? Or, that it’s bad luck to open an umbrella indoors? Apparently, some superstitions have a place in history. For example, there was a time when it was believed that our reflection was a representation of our soul, so if we broke a mirror, we broke our soul. Blessing people when they sneeze comes from the times of the Black Death plague when it was believed that people who sneezed were infected and would ultimately die from illness. Knocking on wood when talking about very good news is based on a belief that evil spirits would become jealous of our good fortune and take it away if we said it aloud. The knocks on the wood was believed to scare the evil spirits away and keep them from hearing about our good news.

Most of the people I know have some kind of superstition, or beliefs that if we do something, a ritual, or repeat something consistently, we can control the events in our lives. Athletes are known to perform rituals consistently before a game or competition. We learn to associate our good or bad outcomes to the things that we do, and it is a way for us to feel  like we are in control of what happens to us. Many of these are harmless. I mean, who cares if you wear your lucky purple bra to your board meetings to keep things running smoothly?

But, superstitious people may be easy targets for scams.  My mom got a letter in the email a few weeks ago that was clearly a scam. It was from a person who claimed that she could make good fortune happen. All one had to do was send $10 and the half of a medallion that came with the letter. The “rainmaker” would take the medallion and perform a certain ritual on March 22nd, which was the night of the black moon. She guaranteed that my mom would receive $25,000 after the ritual. This letter made us wonder about the people who would respond and send this charlatan some money. A tough economy and low job opportunities can make people desperate and willing to try anything. I felt the letter was written to prey on those who are superstitious.

I accept the fact that those of us who believe superstitions are simply creating the illusion of control. But, in our willingness to believe, we could actually be making ourselves vulnerable to being scammed or being taken advantage of. The truth is we can’t control outcomes. But, we can control how we behave during those outcomes. Superstitions are harmless and I don’t see why we can’t hold on to our favorites. But, let’s also practice skepticism and awareness so that we don’t fool ourselves into being fooled by somebody else.

Much Love,

Interpreting A Scary Dream

Image Source: sciencelife.uchospitals.edu

Strange, heart-stopping, and scary dreams  have been the talk at lunch time this week. It started with one person sharing his dream about a young talking owl that was trying to fly over the fence to escape from a jail. But, pretty soon, many of us were sharing our scariest, repeating, or memorable dreams that leave us wondering, what did that mean? Are our dreams messages from our subconscious? Are they trying to tell us something?

I have always had very vivid dreams, and most of the time, I am able to remember them. And, not all dreams are the same. Most nights, it’s just my brains interpretation of what goes on when I’m awake. But, there are dreams that feel different. For example, there is a dream that takes me to a house that I have only seen in my dreams, but I recognize it every time, even if what is happening in the dream is different. There are other dreams that leave such an impression that I wish I could go back to sleep to find out more. Some people say that our dreams are our subconscious. Others say that dreams are messages from the God or the Spirit world. My opinion is that a few of our dreams are indeed messages, about ourselves.

A friend gave me a huge dream interpretation book for my birthday a few years ago. But, honestly, I have not found it at all useful. The interpretations are too weird and don’t make any sense. When I have one of those dreams that demand my attention, the best way to interpret its meaning is for me to try to relate it to something that is currently going on in my life.

I did not plan to write about dreams today, but last night I had one of those dreams that is worth writing about. I dreamt that I had learned that two of my friends from high school had died in a car accident. One of the women who had died was telling me what happened. Suddenly, I was her and I was re-reliving her final moments. I (in her body) was sitting in the back seat with the baby. We were in an SUV. The driver was our other friend. We were driving up a mountain, and there was a bottleneck of some kind as there were many cars ahead of us. The road was wet. Then, our car pulled out to the left, as if to pass. But, there was a car coming right at us. So, she jerked the car back into her lane, but lost control. I saw the huge tree right before we hit it. The car flipped, and I saw and felt it as it was happening. Then, I felt an intense pain in my head. When I realized that I was also going to feel the pain of death, I became scared and started to resist being in my friend’s body. But, if I really wanted to know what she went through, I had to open up to feel the pain. Then the dream switched to a time later when the officials were coming pick up the bodies. The woman who was there (I think this was the coroner) opened the freezer door and warned me to close my eyes if I didn’t want to see my friends head, heart and lungs in a plastic bag. I started to close my eyes, but she had already taken out the bags, and they looked like frozen food. I woke up.

Dreams that put me in a situation that I’ve never been in before (like a tsunami, or a car that is flipping) always freak me out.  It makes me wonder how my dreams can come up with the noises and sensations of things I’ve not experienced. Anyway, back to my scary dream, and its interpretation. I was not feeling well when I went to bed, so I believe that part of the fear in the dream may be an extension of my anxiety about my health. Then, there is my friend’s sister who has been hospitalized for over a week. I have not stopped thinking about her. I have been wishing that she will recover quickly, but also fearing that she won’t. It’s like my subconscious was trying to face a possibility of death – a possibility that I have not been  willing to think about. The car flipping may be symbolism for how out of control I feel about the situation. My best guess on the frozen body parts looking like frozen food is that even though I am bracing for something shocking and horrible, illness or death, is as familiar as regular life, and my fear of it is far greater than it actually is.

There is a down side to these kinds of dreams, and that is that I don’t feel rested the next day. I’m wishing for a restful dream-free night tonight.

Much Love

Need Your Prayers

Today is a tough day. I found out that my friend’s sister had an aneurysm and has been hospitalized since early Friday morning. Between praying and fearing the worst, I have been under a cloud for the majority of the day. I have talked to my friend a couple of times and she is doing okay, but obviously very worried. Fortunately she is surrounded by family who flew in from Ecuador.

About three weeks ago I had a very strong premonition of this kind of news. I felt that it would be about someone who I would not expect to become ill. I don’t know why I got that feeling, but news like this really makes me aware that we don’t know at which precise moment our lives will change. Young or old, healthy or not, we don’t know if we will have another day to say I love you, to hold the ones we love, and to make our mark in this world. I am praying that my friend’s sister will pull through. She is such a bright spirit and wonderful person.

I don’t feel focused enough to write my Sunday night blog. I wanted to share with you my reasons for not writing. If you are a person of faith, I ask that you have my friend’s sister, Carmita, in your prayers.

Much Love,

An Easy But Flavorful Roast Chicken Recipe You’ll Love

With stories from my childhood, my mom has confirmed that I am a creative person. Instead of playing with dolls, she says that my favorite thing to do was to draw…on everything. Chairs, walls and floor were my canvas. And, as I got older I expanded my creative talents to all sorts of hobbies. From one week to the next I was trying something new – macrome, crochet, knitting, painting, cooking, singing, and so on. I miss those days. But, life has gotten too busy.

Well, that’s what I thought. But, I realized there is still room for creativity in my busy life and one of the creative activities that I really enjoy is cooking. I am the type of cook that likes to use a recipe and measure ingredients very precisely. But, I also like to improvise and substitute ingredients or adjust the mix of ingredients to make the food more flavorful. Just this month I bought a new cookbook. It is about 3 inches thick and when it arrived I felt like the kid who just got a bike for Christmas and can’t wait to take it out for a ride in the driveway.  From oven-baked pulled pork to the best blueberry muffins, I wish I had more hours to try all of the recipes. But, I am pacing myself and looking forward to the weekends to try something new!

This past Friday, I made something that I have made thousands of times – roasted chicken. But, this recipe called for a technique I had not tried with chicken before (brining and turning the chicken while it’s roasting) and I decided to add a new flavor, Liquid Smoke. I loved the results. It was so good that I wanted to share this recipe. So, for today’s blog you are getting my version of a roast chicken recipe.  You’ll see that the chicken comes out moist, an even roasted caramel color, and very flavorful.  The extra time to brine and turn was worth it. You might agree that this is the best roasted chicken recipe ever! Here it is:

1 3-5 lb whole chicken (discard all of the innards)

½ cup of sugar

½ cup of salt

2 tablespoons of Liquid Smoke (gives meat a nice smoked-on-the-grill flavor)

2 tablespoons of butter (softened)

Spices: 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp sweet paprika

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Prep time: 2 hours; cooking time: 1 ½ hours; post cooking time: 10 minutes

  1. Prepare the brine by dissolving the sugar, salt, and the liquid smoke in two quarts of cold water in a large bowl or pot. Submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Prepare the spice rub by mixing 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of garlic salt, 1 tsp of cumin and ½ teaspoon of sweet paprika in a small bowl. Mix well so that the spices are evenly blended.
  3. Once the chicken is ready to be seasoned, start heating the oven to 400 degrees. Move the oven rack to the lower half of the oven.
  4. Remove the chicken from the brine and drain well. Dry with paper towels and place on the roasting rack. Using a butter knife, or your fingers, separate the skin from the meat and being careful not to tear the skin.
  5. Divided the butter in half and rub each half on each breast and thigh, just under the skin. Now take some of the spice mixture and rub on the meat as well.
  6. Take olive oil in your hands and rub the entire surface of the chicken, front and back.
  7. Rub the rest of the spike mixture all over the chicken.
  8. Place chicken on its side and bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Take chicken out of the oven, and using clean chicken towels or paper towels, turn the chicken 180 degrees so that the other wing is facing up. Bake for another 20 minutes.

10. Take chicken out of the oven and turn it so that the breast side is down. Bake for 25 minutes.

11. Take chicken out of the over and turn it so that the breast side is up. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until breast temperature is 160 degrees.

12. Once the chicken is done, let it rest outside of the oven for 10 minutes before cutting so that the juices are redistributed in the meat.

13. Carve and enjoy!

 

Much Love,