Mindful coffee

I decided to unwind at our local Gathering Grounds cafe while N. was in Space/Music Quest camp for the half day. Early and quiet enough with the bustle of Braddock Road in the background, the outdoor University Mall sits across from George Mason University. Not exactly rustic, but also not New York City. Unexpectedly I plopped myself down in meditation. With my coffee. 

Three deep breaths. Listen to the sounds around me. Take a sip, taste the boldness. Sit and breathe. Move my tongue. What's the after taste like? Still robust? 

Three deep breaths. Feel where I'm sitting. Comfortable chair, firm ground? What else is happening around me? Feel a breeze? Feel the sunshine? Hear the birds chirping? Notice the tiny flowers on the sapling tree?

Take another sip. As I swallow, really taste the coffee. Smile ever so slightly. Be thankful for who grew, who picked the coffee beans, who brewed the coffee. 

Three deep breaths. In gratitude for my cup of coffee. 

I set an intention for the day . . . May I be more aware of my gift of taste and for those who prepare delectable treats from farm to table. 


All I see is magic

fountains pour with sunjoy
adventure leaps
gleeful titterings spring
from younglings' fruity flumes
welcomed summertime delight


Sweet land

The thing about gratitude is that it also reminds us about what we might take for granted.

We've been so blessed to spend a week with family visiting from Saudi Arabia. I haven't seen them since my last trip to the Philippines in 2003, so it was a much welcome reunion. 

Full of music, laughter and the occasional work-it-out moments between two strong young miss personalities just a year apart (one going on 6yo and the other on 5yo), our humble home held wafting smells of homemade meals made together. From Mom's signature palabok (noodle dish topped with shrimp gravy, shrimp, smoked fish flakes, pork cracklings, and eggs) to Alex's kaldareta (beef stew) to Criselda's chapchae (Korean glass noodles) and my macNcheese with mushrooms, not to mention merienda treats such as turon (wrapped banana and jackfruit) and royal bibingka (glutinous rice cake), our visit was complete. Staying up past midnight to share in the Cadelina crazy about our families, dreams and just being in each other's presence . . . what a summertime gift!

As a married woman living in the United States, I certainly take for granted my freedom to run errands, have my daughter in tow, take her to various activities on my own, without my husband. But for my cousin, Criselda, her day-to-day reality consists of waking at 4am to prep her three kids (ages 6yo t0 17yo) for school, breakfast for her family of five and packing lunches fo rthem. Her husband, Oliver, whose workday last from 7am-3pm, is on drop-off and fetch duty for the kids from Philippine International School, while Criselda for safety and cultural reasons busily takes care of the home. Criselda and the kids cannot go out in public without Oliver. Saudi weekends are Fridays and Saturdays when they gather with their church families to worship and share in each other's lives. Then it's back to the grind on Sunday once again. And to think Saudi life is a major improvement in terms of economic opportunity than to have remained in the Philippines for a family headed by an engineer and radiology technician.

Still, Criselda and Oliver manage to nurture a family that loves music (impressively self-taught guitar, drums and piano), that loves food (especially burgers freshly grilled), that loves Spirit, and that loves connecting heart-to-heart (as Criselda and Oliver affectionately call each other "Heart").

So grateful to have the opportunity to get to know Elize, Gio, and Matt as well as reconnect with Criselda and Oliver. No matter how exahusted we might have been from the day's adventure, our conversations were full of abiding encouragement, love and kinship. Family can run deep, and the best times are when we gather round.