Daily Feng Shui Tip for Nov. 12 – ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul Day’

It’s ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul Day’ so let’s serve a bowl of therapy for the body and spirit. This soup is the traditional ‘go to’ when nursing the common cold, but it’s also a protective food that can ward off the evil eye. Legend speculates that chicken soup can protect from negative energies created by angry, irrational people. In fact, even mainstream medical science supports its protective benefits. Chicken soup contains several nutrients that stimulate and strengthen the immune system while cleansing your aura, especially if you’ve been exposed to someone else’s negativity. Eating protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, eggs and dairy can help one feel more grounded and balanced and better connected to our bodies and to the earth around us. So the next time you settle in with a good book, why not have a big bowl of self-nurturing to go with it? But if soup just doesn’t cut it when dealing with negative people, then this recipe might. Write the offending person’s name in green ink on white paper. Fold that paper in four and put it in a glass, lidded jar. Pour enough honey over the paper to cover it and then tightly seal the jar. Place a small white candle either atop or immediately alongside the jar and then each day for nine days straight light the candle while sending healing and forgiveness to that person. On the ninth day allow the candle to burn completely out while disposing of the sealed jar anywhere outside your living space. Sweet and sour, just like Chinese chicken soup for the soul!

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

Chicken Soup for the Soul: On Becoming a Grandmother

Chicken Soup for the Soul: On Becoming a Grandmother

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grandmothers

BY: Terrie Todd

Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.
~Welsh Proverb

I thought I was prepared. I was a mother, after all. I already knew what it meant to love someone so much it hurt. I understood the old adage that to be a parent is to walk around forever with your heart outside your body. I had written in my journal, revealing all the emotions I’d discovered tag-teaming in my heart: happiness, melancholy, anxiety, joy, anticipation, worry. I had seen the ultrasound pictures. I’d crocheted a soft, fuzzy blue blanket, patiently undoing all my bungled stitches and doing them over so it would be a perfect square. I had memorized the verses in Psalm 139 that tell how God wonderfully forms us in our mother’s womb. I had prayed for this child and for his parents daily since I learned of his existence. I had written letters to his mom and dad, assuring them how proud I was of them both, how I’d be as supportive as I knew how to be, how they would be excellent parents.

I’d prayed for myself, too. I’d wrestled with the idea that I was going to be a grandmother. Shouldn’t I be wiser first? Or sweeter? Or at the very least, a better cook? How exactly did one cram for this event? I had even admitted to myself that I would soon be sleeping with someone’s grandfather. That idea took a little getting used to, let me tell you! 

I had bragged to my friends. I had celebrated with my mother. I had gifted my daughter-in-law with maternity clothes and bought the most irresistible little stuffed puppy for the baby.

I had done all of that. I thought I was prepared.

The day he was born, I rode along with his other grandparents to the hospital to meet our mutual little descendant for the first time. We were told to wait in the hallway while the nurses finished up whatever they were doing with him and his mother in the room. While I waited, I studied the instructional posters on the walls, filled with advice for new parents. I remembered how challenging those first few days could be. Given the hospital rules, I fully expected that my first sight of my little grandson would be in his plastic baby bed and I was prepared. But when I turned around, I instantly knew that no amount of groundwork could have prepared me for that moment. Instead of the expected baby bed, I was beholding my own firstborn carrying his firstborn in his arms.

I came unglued. Part of me was carried back twenty-six years to the day I first laid eyes on my son. But those twenty-six years had passed in an instant, and here I was looking at the next generation, with the same dark skin and the same head full of thick, dark hair. He was beautiful and I was smitten. I didn’t even try to check the tears running down my cheeks as I held him in my arms and hugged his dad as tight as I could with the baby between us. What a cherished moment!

This little boy is about to turn three years old and now has a baby brother. Every day brings new adventures, new things to learn, new memories to make, and new opportunities to wonder at the marvelous work of our Creator. These little guys have taught me that sometimes stopping to watch ducks is more important than getting in out of the rain. They’ve uncovered my own impatient ways, the ones I thought I had overcome. They’ve reminded me that time spent cuddling a sleeping baby in a rocking chair trumps pretty much anything.

Most of all, I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard I tried, I could not have prepared to love someone so profusely, or to learn so much from someone so small.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Always At My Back

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Always at My Back

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

BY: Wendy Walker

What a child doesn’t receive he can seldom later give.
~P.D. James,
Time to Be in Earnest

My relationship with my father is complicated. It always has been. We are alike in many ways and this only adds to the complications. But there was one time when it was simple, when I was just a daughter and he a father, and it is this one time that I remember with great affection.

I was in college, probably my freshman year. I attended school only two hours away from my parents’ house, so I came home every break I got to see friends from high school, or to sleep and eat free groceries. Occasionally, I brought friends with me. It was a great place to escape the many pressures of college and growing up, and to be someone’s child again.

On one break, I came home early to catch up with my best friend from high school. My mother’s sister was visiting, so I camped out in the basement bedroom — which was just fine by me because it made for easy entry in the early morning hours. My friend’s mother took us to a movie and we made it an early night. The house was dark when I came home, but David Letterman was still on. I watched some TV and then went to bed myself.

A few hours later, I woke up with a horrible pain in my gut. I didn’t know this at the time, but it was similar to labor contractions — only it didn’t come and go in waves of torment. The torment was constant. I tried to get comfortable and fall back asleep, but that wasn’t happening. So, clutching the walls as I walked, I made my way up two flights of stairs to the bathroom medicine chest. I scoured the shelves for anything that might help — antacids, Tylenol, Motrin. My aunt, who was sleeping in the next room, heard the commotion and came out to see what was going on. She had been a drug counselor at one time in her life, and had keen hearing for roaming teenagers. By the time she found me, I was doubled over and getting dizzy. She rushed down the hall to my parents’ bedroom, and by the time they arrived, I had passed out on the floor.

I woke up in the nearest bed with all three of them around me. They immediately began questioning me. Where had I been? What had I done? What had I eaten? Did I take any drugs (that one from my aunt)? The answer was, simply, movie and popcorn. They checked for signs of appendicitis and gave me some Motrin. I can’t remember whether I fell asleep again or just waited out the night, but in the morning the pain was still there, full on.

My father was dressed for work, but he called in to say he would be late, then bundled me in the car and drove me to the emergency room at one of the local hospitals. It was the usual scene — crowded, chaotic and filled with the distinctive feeling that comes from being at the mercy of a headless bureaucratic machine. We checked in and sat in the chairs waiting for our turn. The one thing about my father that is easy to understand is that he has never been a patient man, and this is especially true when someone he loves is suffering. I was far too distracted by my own pain to notice it then, but his patience was depleting as the minutes, then hours ticked by.

We made it, finally, to an exam room and that’s where the waiting really began. Seeing that I needed observation, the first doctor came, then quickly left us in a line for admission to a regular room. Only the line was very long. Four hours passed. My father came and went from the room as I lay there in fetal position, breathing through the pain and freezing cold with only a hospital sheet and my father’s coat to cover me. Out of everything that day, the pain in my gut, the eventual needle sticks and IVs, it’s the cold in that room that I remember most vividly. Eventually, I began to shiver and my lips started to turn purple. I needed to be admitted, and soon.

Typically, my father’s lack of patience resulted in, let’s say, fervent advocacy. But not on this day. On this day, there was no arguing with nurses or yelling at desk clerks. Instead, my father asked someone if they were prepared to admit me that moment. When they couldn’t give him an answer, he simply grabbed the bag with my clothing, draped his coat around me, and carried me — out of the room, past the hospital staff that tried to stop him, through the security doors, the room with the chairs, out the front door and into his car.

With me dressed in a hospital gown and his overcoat, he drove to a second hospital, a second emergency room. He carried me again to the admitting desk and within an hour, I had been admitted to the hospital for observation. I stayed there for two days, at which point the pain was gone and written off as a stomach bug. But that’s not why I remember the story.

People who know me well know that I am no shrinking violet. Had I been capable of removing myself to a second hospital that day, there is no doubt that I would have done it and that my father would have encouraged me to do it myself, taking pride in having raised a strong, independent woman. But on that day, I was not a strong, independent woman. I was a child rendered helpless by pain. I was a daughter in need of protection. There was no one in the world I needed more than my father, and he was there.

It’s not often that people are put to a test. Indeed, it is precisely those rare times that make the headlines — heroic firefighters storming a building, pilots landing planes under extreme duress, bystanders pulling a stranger from the train tracks. I can’t imagine any comfort greater than knowing there is someone in your life who will never fail to have your back and do whatever is needed to protect you. I had that in my father.

I am a mother now, and I know what it feels like on the other side of that equation. I can feel it inside me, this likeness I have to my father. Some of it presents an ongoing struggle. Lack of patience probably tops that list. But I gladly take it all to have that one thing of his that I can bestow upon my own children. There are times when I can see it on their faces, this knowledge that I am strong, and that no matter what, I have their backs.

Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Long Road Home

Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Long Road Home

As I arrive home from college for the first time, I realize many things have changed—in my family and in myself.

BY: Lia Gay

I find myself packing again.  Well, let’s be completely honest, this isn’t really packing it’s shoving three weeks’ worth of dirty clothes into a suitcase and having my roommate sit on it so I can get it to close.

This time is different; this isn’t the same nostalgic trip down memory lane as when I packed before college.  This is the “night before my first trip home frantic pack.”  So you get the idea—my plane leaves in two hours, and no, college didn’t teach me to procrastinate.  I was experienced in that art long before I stepped onto my college campus.

So now that I’m packed, I have a minute to examine my emotions about my first trip home.  I’m excited.  My best friend, Matt, picks me up, groggy, for our 4:00 a.m. drive.  My expectations are that I am going home to what I left: my parents, home-cooked meals, friends with whom I shared distinctive bonds and my long-distance boyfriend, whom I have been dying to see.  I am happy at college, but a trip home, to my family and friends, sounds like just the thing I need to prepare me for the pre-finals crunch.

I think I will catch up on the missed hours of sleep on the plane.  Instead, I look around and realize that most of the exhausted passengers are students just like me.  Below us, in the cargo bin, sits a year’s worth of dirty laundry at least.
I miss my connecting flight, so I am later than expected.  I step off the plane to find my mom frantic, thinking I had been “abducted” on the trip home.  I look at her puzzled.  I guess in a mother’s eyes there is no logical explanation for being late, such as the obvious flight trouble.  I assure her that I am fine and that I don’t need to fly as an “unaccompanied minor” on the way back.
A few hours later, I’m back at the airport, waiting for my boyfriend’s arrival home.  He steps off the plane with the same groggy but excited look I wore hours before.  We drive over to see my dad, who seems calmer than my mother had been.  I ask to see my room, expecting to find my shrine, my old pompoms, prom pictures, candid photos of friends and dolls scattered about.  To my surprise, everything is gone; there’s not even a trace I had ever lived in the room.  I’m starting to wonder if I really had been abducted on the way home.  It’s as if the second I became a “college” student, I had ceased to exist.

I start to wonder what else had changed since I’d been gone.  My parents are in an awkward transition, wondering how to treat me now.  They wrestle with whether to treat me—still their daughter—as one of them, an adult, or as the child they feel they sent away months earlier.

I run into two of my best friends from high school; we stare blankly at each other.  We ask the simple questions and give simple, abrupt answers.  It’s as if we have nothing to say to each other.  I wonder how things have changed so much in such a small amount of time.  We used to laugh and promise that no matter how far away we were, our love for each other would never change.  Their interests don’t interest me anymore, and I find myself unable to relate my life to theirs.

I had been so excited to come home, but now I just look at it all and wonder: Is it me?

Why hadn’t the world stood still here while I was gone?  My room isn’t the same, my friends and I don’t share the same bond, and my parents don’t know how to treat me—or who I am, for that matter.

I get back to school feeling half-fulfilled, but not disappointed.  I sit up in my bed in my dorm room, surrounded by my pictures, dolls and mementos.  As I wonder what has happened, I realize that I can’t expect the world to stand still and move forward at the same time.  I can’t change and expect that things at home will stay the same.  I have to find comfort in what has changed and what is new; keep the memories, but live in the present.
A few weeks later, I’m packing again, this time for winter break.  My mom meets me at the curb.  I have come home accepting the changes, not only in my surroundings, but most of all in me.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Forever Changed

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Forever Changed

Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms

BY: Michelle Sedas

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.
~Rajneesh
 

On March 9, 2004, the day my first child was born, I became forever changed. As I held my newborn baby, I recalled a moment, nearly two years before, when I was hospitalized for a second time in my life for depression. As I stood waiting to be discharged, I vowed to get better, to never return physically or mentally to that place. It was on this day that I made a promise to myself to do whatever it took to overcome this debilitating illness so that I could one day be a depression-free new mom.

As I built my new life, I went to counseling, twice a week at first, and less frequently over time. I worked on my counseling exercises at home. I read uplifting books, exercised, ate well, and began to interact again socially with others. I started a new, part-time, low-stress job where I felt I was making a difference. Months later, to my delight, I became pregnant. And for nine months, in preparation for first-time motherhood, I continued to improve upon my mental state of mind.

Then the day came when my baby, Diego, was born. It was like a scene in a movie. The doctor set him upon my chest, and I looked in awe at this tiny creature who moments before had been nicely snuggled within my warm womb. I soaked up his essence, the tiny fingers and toes, the soft, damp skin, and something inside of me clicked. My old self faded away, and a new person emerged: “Michelle the Mother.” At that moment, I knew in my heart that those turbulent, depressed years were in the past. I was now a mother, responsible for taking care of a helpless, innocent baby, and I wholeheartedly accepted this job. My focus was now on providing the most wonderful environment I could for this precious one that God had entrusted into my care. I knew then that I would love this baby with all of my heart and soul, and that I would continue to keep my mind healthy so I could be the best mother possible for him.

As the days passed, I sang him made-up songs. Cheerfully, I woke up in the middle of the night to feed him. I gently rocked him when he cried (which was often!). I had fallen completely in love with my angel. Many of my family and friends saw the change within me. My mom said my face looked different. I “glowed.” “Michelle the Mother” was a title that suited me well. But as much as motherhood had changed me, and as happy as I felt, I knew that I was predisposed to postpartum depression. I vigilantly kept a check on my state of mind, doing whatever I could to stay healthy, allowing me to remain a depression-free new mom.

Becoming a new mother has proven to be the most positive, life-altering experience of my existence. While there are times when those clouds of depression still threaten to overwhelm me, my love for my children propels me forward. My two angels have rekindled my inner light and left me forever changed.

Chicken Soup for the Soul – Grieving and Recovery

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery

BY: Heather Schichtel

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I sit on the park bench eating cheesy popcorn and watching young children on the playground. I am enjoying the day, the sun on my face, and the smell of fresh grass.

Randomly I think, I wish Samantha could run and play with them.

And there it is, the cold hand in my cheesy popcorn, the presence taking up too much space on the park bench, blocking my sunshine. My Grief.

“Really?” I say. “I didn’t invite you. Get your hand out of my cheesy corn.” Instead, I end up having to scoot over, making more room for My Grief. Grief comes and goes when I least expect it. I’ll be in my car, driving along listening to music and I’ll catch it in the corner of my eye, kicking the back of my seat.

“Hey Heather.”

“Aww crap, what are you doing here?”

“It’s been a while. I thought I would stop in for a visit.”

“Well, make sure you fasten your seatbelt and be quiet. My daughter’s sleeping and I don’t want you to wake her up.”

“Can I change the station?”

“No.”

“Can I play with the window?”

“No, you can just come along for the ride. 

So we go on the ride together, fingernails thumping on the dashboard as a reminder of who decided to show up today. Yes, I am quite aware of your presence, you don’t need to remind me.

Grief’s appearance used to rattle me, send me into the bathroom crying hysterically. Render me useless for a day. Sometimes it still does, but as Grief has been established as a consistent visitor in our household, we have drawn up a contract. We have an agreement.

As the mom of two children, one who died at birth and one who has a progressive disease, I will grieve. I will grieve for many dreams that will not come to fruition. I will grieve for a life I thought would be different.

I will grieve at times. And I will not grieve at times. I will laugh at times. I will not laugh at times.

Grief can come into our house but is not allowed to stay. If allowed to stay, it would devour the corners of our house. It would suck up the oxygen in the room. It would consume me.

And that is not acceptable.

Grief tends to run within the Special Needs community I am a part of; I bump into him quite often, even visiting other families….

“How are you?”

“My daughter has pneumonia. She is in the hospital on a ventilator.”

I look around and see Grief, sitting on the couch, smugly picking at dirty fingernails.

And I meet those who sadly keep very, very close company with this unwanted guest. Grief hangs over them like a shroud. It is hard to laugh. It is hard to love, because in copious amounts Grief tends to ooze; like a nasty septic wound… draining life from us.

But we still have to laugh, we still have to play, we still have to live… life carries on.

I cannot, at the end of my life say… well, it was long, hard and I was sad.

Surprisingly, our relationship is not based entirely on conflict. My interactions with Grief have allowed me to see myself raw, unprotected, and exposed. At times I feel that I have lost my skin… yes, here I am. Be careful, that’s my beating heart you see there. Do not touch.

I am no longer afraid to approach others regarding their own tragedies. I bring up the tough conversations. How is your mother? I am sorry for your loss. I am so sorry your daughter is in the hospital. I hug, I cry, I listen. Not because I am an über-sensitive person but because I know Grief sometimes travels alone except when he travels with his favorites… Isolation and Loneliness.

Sometimes Grief shows up at a party… drinks my wine, eats my last bite of fudgy dessert. It’s an annoyance really, but since Grief is not a constant life guest, I have learned to tolerate the time we spend together. Sometimes we even enjoy an introspective moment or two.

We have set the rules and sometimes they are followed. We cannot have a permanent impy, uninvited guest… we don’t have the room… not in our lives, not in my heart… life is too short and despite the bad things that can happen… life is too sweet.