I Yam What I Yam

The week is almost gone, with no post from me! Oh, no!

I’ve been working on a couple of pieces of writing that aren’t ready for prime time, thus the delay. (Is it ready now? No. How ’bout now? Nope.)

I thought about giving you Thanksgiving dinner advice like “behave yourself” and then the hilarious visual of y’all attempting to do that made me fall off my chair laughing, plus the obvious fact that there’s no way I could follow the advice myself.

Or I could tell you “don’t eat so darn much” (right, that’s gonna happen).

But I couldn’t follow that advice, either, nor would I want to, since that would oppose the very idea of Thanksgiving.

I can only tell you that if you’re in the neighborhood of Hendersonville, NC, join me at Brightwater Yoga  the day after Thanksgiving.

On Friday, November 24 at 9:30 am there’s a special post-Thanksgiving class called “Yoga For Digestion” with (yoga goddess) Lynn Edgar.

Come early, it’s always a full class (pardon the pun).

So today, I’m offering my favorite yam recipe for Thanksgiving, one that has become a favorite of many solely because of yours truly (“Terri, you can come to Thanksgiving — and are you bringing those yams by the way?”)

They are unbearably delicious. And easy to make. A happy taste surprise in the middle of all that gravy.

ROASTED YAMS WITH LIME AND HONEY

About 4 lbs. of yams

1/2 cup water

6 T honey

4 T unsalted butter at room temp

juice of 4 limes

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Oven 350 degrees. Wash the yams and place in baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Bake until the potatoes are soft and the skins puffy, about 1-1/2 hours, give or take, depending on the size of the yams. Poke them and check for softness. (You’re going to mash them so you don’t want them slightly firm as you would if you were going to cube them.)

After they’re done, set aside to cool a bit and leave the oven on.

When they are cool enough to handle, peel and place them in an oven proof dish that fits, and add the honey, butter, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Mash with a potato masher until everything is mixed well. Adjust seasonings if necessary. (Want it more tart? Add another lime…)

Cover with an ovenproof lid or foil and return to the oven for 15 to 20 min until heated through.

Enjoy! I’ll see you again the week after Thanksgiving.

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Getting Help From Someone Who Died

You may have read my post from October about Eric communicating with me through sound.

(For those of you who might not know, my husband Eric passed away in March of this year.)

Well, he’s at it again. Eric is talking to me, reassuring me that he’s right around the corner, just over there through the veil.

It was an average day. Nothing mind-blowing going on. But as grief will do, it visits in seemingly random moments, and it surprised me. It came up fast and for no particular or present reason in my awareness.

Before I knew it, I was under the wave. Big, sweeping emotion bowled me over, so I just let it take me out to sea until I could come up for air. No use fighting a big wave.

I was simply missing Eric. Nothing fancy. Just missing him.

A few hours after the wave, the AirBnB notification sound went off on my phone, which means that someone inquired about staying with me, or they booked.

I reached for my phone and read the message.

“Congratulations! Eric is booked with you on November 10-12 for 2 nights.”

Given the timing of that message, I had to sit down. I couldn’t remember the last time an AirBnB guest named Eric stayed here. My curiosity got the best of me. I checked all of our past reservations.

In two years of offering the bottom level of our home for AirBnB, no one named Eric has ever stayed here.

I was so stunned by the reservation from Eric, that I didn’t do what I would normally do, which is write back and say “thank you for booking with me.”

A few hours later, I came to my senses.

As I went on my phone to write to this new customer, I noticed Eric’s last name. It was “Livesey” which is a family name on my mother’s side (ours is spelled Livezey).

In case I had any question about my Eric reaching through the veil to touch my heart, that did it.

Eric would know very well that punctuating the moment by using a significant last name was the way to make sure I knew it was him reaching out to me, that it was not a lucky happen chance. It was deliberate.

Clearly, my Eric was sending love.

MORE MESSAGES

A few days later I got another message.

“Congratulations, Terri is booked with you…”

I had to laugh. So now Eric and Terri are staying at my AirBnB! Ok, I get it! We’re still together!

A few more days go by. “Congratulations, Eric is booked…”

Yes, he sent a second Eric. Not a bad idea to make double sure I knew it was not an accident.

And then just for fun, a little wordplay — this is SO how Eric would roll —  “Congratulations, Erin is booked…” He changed one letter to make me smile.

It worked. I smiled.

Just for good measure, these “Eric’s” (and Erin, too) hailed from places he loved and lived, like Washington, D.C., and the Northeast. The guest named Terri is from Florida. I lived in Florida for a couple of years. (Again, so Eric!)

When the AirBnB game was over, I thought, “Well then! If my Eric is so close, maybe there are other ways we could communicate, things we could “talk” about, things we could “do” together…”

A very nice thought, don’t you think?

THE WATER BUCKET

A few days passed and I was preparing the AirBnB space for new visitors. The dehumidifier, the kind where you must empty the collecting bucket, needed to be emptied.

Several weeks prior, I had noticed that the bucket needed cleaning, and tried twice (unsuccessfully) to open the lid. It looked easy enough — that was the irritating part. There are about a dozen plastic clips holding the lid on, and I’m sure they are needed to safely lift a container holding 70 pints of water.

But even when I loosened them all, it wouldn’t open.

I gave up.

This is where I would normally hand the whole thing to Eric and say, “Honey, could you get this open for me?”

And he would. In no time at all. He loved puzzles.

But unfortunately, my fix-it guy has moved on to other things, and with no sign of an instruction booklet in the original box, I checked the internet. There were directions, but they weren’t helpful. They didn’t tell me how to get the lid off.

This particular morning as I was cleaning and preparing the AirBnB space, I was extra determined to win attempt number three, but try as I might, the lid didn’t give.

Alright then. Plan B.

I put vinegar in the container and shook it. At least the vinegar would deter whatever yucky stuff was growing in the bottom.

THE BIG SPEECH

While I was shaking the container, I started giving Eric a little piece of my mind.

With full enthusiasm and fun, I talked to him, right there at my kitchen sink. (It must have looked pretty wacky.) I gave him a speech about how he should come here and help me right here, right now.

“C’mon! Help me here, Eric! You know how to do this! Go ahead and slide over to this part of the Universe. Come see me. Come visit. Fly over here, honey! You know how this darn lid works! Show me. Come here — right now — to my kitchen and help me with this.”

Happily and with great drama, I went on and on. It was quite a speech. It was fun to pretend he was listening.

DANCING ON PLASTIC

As I dumped out the vinegar solution, my fingers starting playing with the lid and they felt suddenly smarter.

(Whoa…)

It was weirdly pleasant, like watching a live action movie starring someone else’s fingers. Actually, it felt rather awesome.

I stopped thinking. That was nice. No thought, no figuring out, just fingers dancing on plastic.

As I released the familiar dozen or so clasps, I discovered two more itty-bitty ones I hadn’t seen before. Then, my fingers began to play with the handle. I had tried this handle-wrangling thing before, but I could never get it to let go. For one thing, the plastic tabs holding the handle were too tight, and I couldn’t move them enough to get the handle undone for fear of it snapping.

This time, the plastic was pliable.

(What?!?!)

My fingers undid the handle in a whole new way and the dehumidifier lid lifted like magic.

Open Sesame!

Success!

Now I felt a wave of a different sort. No tears, no sadness, not even heightened joy.

I felt like I was “livin’ on a prayer.” (Thanks, Bon Jovi.)

I felt quiet inside. Reverently astonished. In awe. My appreciation for this clear connection with Eric flooded my heart, the kitchen, and I’m sure the entire house and maybe, just maybe, the known Universe.

Eric had helped me through my very own fingers.

This was a different kind of happy dance. It was understated. It was subtle, but uplifting and astonishingly beautiful like the sun rising, this idea of knowing that I could talk to Eric directly, even get his assistance any time I needed it.

YES YOU CAN

Yes, you can get help from people you love who have died. It is natural, actually. You talk to them and they hear you. They are still with you.

Ask for what you need. Start small. Practice listening. Practice receiving. Get your antenna up. Smile more. Get happy-go-lucky about talking to them.

Practice believing that they will hear you.

Then, open your heart completely to what is offered. Help will flood in.

Death is not the end of a life, nor is it the end of your loved one’s love for you, or the end of your love for them. Death is actually the beginning of bigger love.

Grief deserves a mention here as well. These days, it is my direct understanding that grief is not a negative thing to muscle through or tolerate or wish it was over.

I believe grief is, in fact, one of the most life-affirming, character defining, heart-opening experiences in the lifetime of any human. 

Grief is the beginning of loving more deeply that which you cannot even see.

Think about it.

Grief is a doorway to knowing God within, all that is true forever, all that is.

 

 

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Computer In Rehab

Good morning everyone. My computer is taking some time off in the trusty hands of my Fix-It wizard at Blue Mountain Computer.

You know they say that life is reflective, including cars and computers.

Well.

It seems my computer boots just fine but it won’t shut down. Perhaps it’s time for a vacation!!

I’ll see you all next week.

 

 

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19 Ways To Spot A Lie

You may think this is an odd topic for me to write about, but it all started with a personal experience that caused me to educate myself about lying. It caused me to do research.

Early one morning about seven months ago, I was greeted with an email notification that one of my credit cards was used in Chicago. Someone I’ve never met checked into a hotel and ate at a restaurant, using my money.

I immediately contacted the credit card company, but it was too early in the morning and no one answered the phone, so I moved to Plan B and called the hotel directly.

Turns out, that was a brilliant move. A night clerk named Christine answered. I told her there was a guest in her hotel using my card.

Her reaction?

Total silence on the other end of the phone.

Then slowly and with a little excitement she said, “You know what? I think I know who it is!”

She went on to tell me about a young man who had checked in and how she felt something was “off” about him, so she asked him for extra identification.

Here’s the part of this story I love.

This thief had no idea he was handing his fake credit card to someone trained in how to spot a lie. Christine used to work at a bank — where she was known as “The Fraud Queen”!

Christine checked, and sure enough, that was the guy who had used my credit card number!

When the police came, they found his room unoccupied. Most likely, he never went to the room — he got spooked and fled. He sensed Christine The Fraud Queen was on to him.

No harm was done, the proper reports were filed, and the credit card charges were reversed. Everything turned out fine.

But how did Christine pick up that he was being deceptive?

TWO OR MORE IN THE FIRST 5 SECONDS

Have you watched someone on TV denying wrongdoing while you study their face and gestures to see if you believe them?

Probably! It’s human nature.

Or have you listened to a child who swears “his brother did it?”

Or maybe you noticed your gut response when your employee told a story explaining the missing inventory.

Here’s what research says.

No single behavior is a stand alone indicator that someone is not telling the truth. A nervous person can exhibit the same behaviors as someone who is lying, such as a change in voice pitch, touching the face or tapping the fingers or feet.

However, generally speaking, if two or more behaviors come within the first 5 seconds in response to an inquiry, it’s an indicator to pay attention and ask further questions.

HER GUT TOLD HER

Christine, the desk clerk, said her first hint about the guy standing in front of her was that she simply felt in her gut that something was “off.” He probably did at least a couple of unconscious things in the first few seconds of meeting her that she picked up on.

Did you know that humans who are trained to detect lies are often 90% accurate — even better than machines! Christine is probably one of those, bless her heart!

How can you tell someone is lying?

Below is a partial list of behaviors associated with lying. The list is compiled from a number of sources.

See how many of these you recognize and rely on.

WHAT LIARS DO

1. They fail to deny.

A person who is lying may not directly say “I didn’t do it.” In a verbal, in-person conversation, they don’t give a definitive “no.”

Instead, they say things like “I would never do that…”

Susan Smith made national headlines way back in 1995. She strapped her children into her car and pushed the car into a lake. Then she ran frantically to the police saying that someone had carjacked her.

During questioning, she initially fooled the officers. But when pressed, she never actually answered yes or no to the question, “Did you do this? Did you drown your children?”

Instead, she said, “I love my children, I would never hurt my children, why would I ever hurt my children?”

2. They don’t answer your specific question.

They are evasive. (Think politics here.)

They elaborate on something related or make another point they want to make that you didn’t ask about. They try to distract you from your question by leading you in a direction more advantageous to them. 

They turn your question into an opportunity to say what they want to say.

3. They throw in qualifiers.

They hedge by using exclusionary qualifiers such as “not really, in general, categorically speaking, as far as I can remember…”

Or they throw in perception qualifiers such as “honestly, frankly, to tell you the truth…”

When someone offers a qualifier, ask a question about the qualifier.

If you ask your child, “Do you have homework?” and your child says “No, not really…” that response begs for another question.

If a politician or company CEO answers a question using the phrase “categorically speaking” it’s a big red flag.

4. They become aggressive. 

They show contempt. They get angry. They verbally attack the questioner or a third party.

For example, your boyfriend yells, “Why don’t you ever trust me???”

Or an upstanding citizen (turned embezzler) becomes enraged and outspoken at the audacity of being questioned. Pay attention when someone shows contempt for having their “spotless reputation” challenged.

5. They demonstrate an inappropriate level of concern.

A person who is lying shows emotion inconsistent with the events in question.

On a recent episode of “Bull” (Mr. Bull is played by Michael Weatherly) his character was asked, “How did you know she was lying?”

His simple answer, “Wrong emotion…”

I did a fair amount of research for this subject, by the way, and watched a few videos that I would never normally be drawn to. But I was learning, so I watched to see if I could understand more about the indicators of when someone is lying.

One was a video of a woman who killed her children. As she retold the story, she described the entire incident without emotion. She stated facts only and her facial expression changed very little as she was describing how her children had died. (She seemed very calm, and it was strange…)

You may recall a story from 2005 that made headlines about a man named Scott Peterson who was eventually convicted of murdering his pregnant wife Laci.  

Prior to his conviction, however, in an interview with Diane Sawyer, she said, “Well, Scott, what everybody in America wants to know is — did you murder your wife?”

Scott’s answer was “No, no, I did not. I had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance.”

Then comes the telltale part.

He paused and took a breath and said to Diane, “You used the word murder…”

He actually smiled slightly as he said the word “murder.”

He went on to say a few more things, and repeated to Diane “you used the word murder” and he smiled again, and the second smile was bigger. (I watched it. It was creepy, I have to say.)

Similarly, there are famous photos of O. J. Simpson smiling gleefully during the court proceedings.

Smiles that show an inappropriate level of concern speak volumes.

6. They use more than the average number of anchor point gestures (feet, hands, arms) or grooming gestures.

They adjust their tie, brush hair back, look at their watch, scratch their nose, tap their fingers or move their feet.

Why?

During the stress of telling a lie, blood vessels constrict, which can cause skin discomfort.

7. They try to convince rather than convey.

Instead of simply conveying information, a person telling a lie tries to convince us they are a good person. They say things like “I’m a good worker.”

Or they say “I have a good reputation at work and people trust me.”

They use convincing language to tell us why we should believe they didn’t do it.

8. They offer little or no eye contact or too much eye contact.

They may avoid your gaze or they may look directly into your eyes to try to convince you and see if you’re buying their story.

Bill Clinton looked directly into the camera and shook his right finger when he denied having sex with Monica Lewinsky.

9. They speak formally.

They don’t use contractions. Again, think about Bill Clinton when he said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”

10. They distance themselves from the incident or the victim.

To distance themselves from the incident, they might say something as simple as “the car crashed” instead of “I crashed my car.”

Another way to distance is to depersonalize or dehumanize. Dehumanizing others is the process by which we become accepting of violations against human nature.

One more time, let’s go back to the Bill Clinton’s statement. He referred to Monica Lewinsky as “that woman.” Not calling Monica by her name was a way to depersonalize.

Humans are wired to protect each other, love each other. In order to do damage to another human and then lie about it, a person must override this wiring to make their victim “less human.”    

Making Monica “less of a person” made Bill Clinton’s actions more acceptable to him.

(In light of more recent events, think Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly, who deny accusations outright, but have a long history of depersonalizing practices, according to news sources.)

11. Their eyes blink too often or they look up to the right. 

The eyes are truly the window to the soul.

Research shows that someone who is lying may not blink at all during the lie, and then blink up to 8 times more often than normal right after the lie.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) has shown that when people remember or recall something, they look up to the left. If they are making something up (fabricating a story) they may look up to the right.

Someone who is lying usually looks up to the right more often.

12. The pupils dilate. 

No person can control the size of his/her pupils, so this is very helpful. This is often detected on a replay of an interrogation video, because it can’t easily be seen in “real time.”

13. They repeat your exact words and get very specific when responding.

They say, “No, I did not do (this) at (that time) with (this person).

14. Their gestures and words don’t line up.

They nod yes while saying no or vice versa.

15. They offer story details except where the lie is.

They tell a story in great detail, but quickly gloss over the parts where they did something they feel guilty about.

16. They tell their story in question in strict chronological order.

Someone who commits a crime often memorizes how to tell the story so it makes perfect sense to the police.

Did you know this? (I didn’t.) Professional lie detectors sometimes ask the person in question to tell their story backwards in order to fluster or stress them, or skip around in the details enough to confuse them and cause them to contradict themselves.  

What’s so different about someone being honest?

A truth teller would naturally tell a story by recalling the most emotionally significant parts first and filling in the other less important details later.

17. They unconsciously place an object between you and them.

It can be something small and simple, like a book, handbag, or set of keys.

18. They invoke religion.

They use statements such as “I swear to God, I swear on a stack of bibles…”

19. They tell the truth enough to make you think they are a good person and you should believe them.

They give you helpful, useful information, information you aren’t aware of but didn’t ask for, in an attempt to build trust. They hope their truth telling sways you or blinds you to the parts they are lying about.

An employee attempting to justify the “rightness” of his/her actions may do this to appear forthcoming and cooperative, to lead you away from suspecting them of something they’ve done.

*****

There you have it! I hope this list is useful in business or personally. I know you’re going to think about this list next time you are given the opportunity to decide if someone is fibbing.

At the very least, understanding how to read a possible lie is a helpful skill to have in your back pocket. You never know when it might come in handy.

 

 

 

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Wounded Humans. Deep Kindness.

In the face of world leaders playing with nuclear threats as if they were on their Xbox, or Rep. Tom Marino’s role in the opioid crisis…

Or learning of the death of investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia of Malta, who did her best to oust corruption…

Or the tidal wave created by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein…

Or how even Canada, a government with the reputation for taking care of the people, seems to be going after the little guy, the working class citizen.

Get this. Canada, debt-burdened and scraping for revenue, recently proposed taxing free meals eaten in restaurants by servers and staff, as well as taxing the discounted portion of clothing purchased in the store by employees.

This produced citizen outrage, though, thanks to social media, and Canadian officials eventually backed off. But not on other high-impact items, like (heavily) taxing a family farm passed to the children.

Maybe each week’s news is simply a new episode of “Humans Behaving Badly.”

When Eric didn’t understand human behavior, he used to shake his head and say “People are funny people…” which, for him, helped take the edge off what seemed to be odd choices or any hope of understanding.

What might help ease things?

Maybe a wise person should stand and speak, one who calms the waters of anyone’s soul, no matter the trouble underfoot.

How about Naomi?

Yes.

I think so.

It’s quite possible that one good poet could save us all from getting under winter covers and sleeping until spring.

 

 

KINDNESS

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

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Terri Crosby

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