Monday, May 4, 2015


I'm not one to broadcast what one calls "smarmy information," but I do appreciate a more simplistic way of living as I approach my 80th year this month. This morning, I went outside to check on the progress of a small garden planted recently, and a headline appeared in my mind: "How to "Make Contented." And within five minutes, I had written the recipe, which I share with those of you old enough to appreciate simple notions of living well:

-Plant a herb garden and when the crop appears, use the products in salads daily, remembering how you felt when you saw the first green shoot. Think about how happy it looked;
-Talk to your adult children via telephone, or e-mail them, or send them a card with a handwritten message of love weekly (or daily, if you can). Tell them the birth pains they caused were worth every wrenching moment;
-Each morning tell your significant other or spouse or partner how good life is because you share it with them;
-Get out of bed at daylight and go out on the porch to feel the breath of the universe on your face. If the weather is breezy, go back indoors and stand in front of an old-fashioned space heater to warm your backside;
-Pray for everyone you love and for those who suffer in "mind, body, or spirit." Put yourself at the bottom of your list (but don't neglect self). If you're inclined to meditate, spend at least twenty minutes at this practice. Read the Book of Psalms aloud and try writing your own versions of psalms;
-Unless you're subject to asthma attacks triggered by laughter, laugh a lot and don't be self-conscious about cackling. Tell amusing stories to anyone who will listen to you;
-Read or write one poem a week; peruse one book a month; and keep the best literature beside your bed;
-Eat food that does not come from packages or cans and subscribe to a magazine like The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America's Most Trusted Cooking Magazine
to learn why food needs to be prepared with as much love as your prayers for spiritual growth;
-Eat one small block of dark chocolate three times a week and let it stay in your mouth a few seconds before chewing it and swallowing;
-Drink four ounces of wine before your evening meal unless you've abused this practice;
-Avoid obsessing about the thin man look; just eat healthy and "don't ride on the back of the Ass of Diet/ or feed on the fatback of judgment./ Tend to the sovereignty of the soul..."*;
-See how many medications you can discard and substitute with well-prepared food, eight hours of sleep, and a walk three times a week;
-Even if you don't practice the religion, read Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health and appreciate her devotion to the health of the mind and spirit;
-Show your appreciation for animals, even if you're allergic to animal dander; and if you're not, get a dog or cat and keep it close, vacuuming regularly, in case someone who is allergic to all that hair visits you;
-Find an infant's face in the crowd whenever you shop or eat out and smile at it. Keep staring at it for five minutes and pick it up if the mother allows;
Grandson, Alex Romero
as baby
-Listen to and commiserate with at least one person who relates a "tale of woe" three times a week; reminding that person and yourself of all the blessings of this life, and ask a higher power to bless that person who has related the "tale of woe." Practice empathy;
-Do at least one act of volunteer service a week;
-Listen to Mozart often. And if you don't like Mozart or Beethoven or Tchaikovsky, listen to progressive jazz or Phillip Glass or the Beatles;
-Try opera, even if you laugh when you're supposed to be appreciating the tragic. Watch a soap opera now and then, if only to find a point of identification with the characters;
-Hang art on every wall in your house and celebrate it every day;
-Set your table with all that china and silver you've been hoarding and invite friends over for dinner at least once a month;
-Go to the mountains or the ocean every three months and find a "thin place" where you can access the sacred and the heaven within you, and free yourself of discord;
-Be honest, even if you lose face;
-Know that you're evolving toward happiness and union with a Creative Intelligence;
-Think harmony, do good, and be content;
-Know that this list isn't complete but will do for starters on "making contented;"
-Be glad you're on this side of the grass and that you're here, NOW.

*from A Lonely Grandmother by Diane-Marquart-Moore

Photographs by Victoria I. Sullivan
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