Faith, Gratitude, Happiness

Thank You, Lord… đź‘Ľ

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Gratitude Bestows Reverence…
allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe… And changes forever how we experience life and the world.

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There is calmness to a life lived in gratitude… a quiet joy.

“Our hearts deviseth our ways;
But the Lord directeth our steps.”
(Proverbs 16:9)

With all my heart,
I trust in you, Lord…
You are my all in all.

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Travel

the old chokecherry tree (and raw apricot cheesecake)

coffeeandwoodsmoke

An almost imperceptible shift in the light. A slant of golden, the earth’s turning reflected in sunflowers’ faces. The skies blue again after a good night’s wind and rain scrubbed the smoky haze that had descended over the mountains, stacking them like so many cardboard cutouts. Around the edges the air is cool, threaded with the promise of chill. The creek meanders along, more leisurely than lazy, having left the frenetic pace of runoff behind. A grasshopper symphony plays from grassy fields, blanched seed heads bowing in the breeze. Walking along the path I see these musicians leap, a striking resemblance to butterflies in flight, all yellow threaded wings and suspended animation.

Chokecherries ripen along the creek corridor. One old tree at a prominent crossroads always produces a good crop, which I never touch for want of leaving them for the wildlife that needs them far more than I. My…

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Travel

Vegan chocolate caramel tart

Cupcakes and Couscous

Vegan chocolate and caramel dessert recipe

A few weeks ago I was challenged by Nicolas over at Blogtastic Food to create a fabulous vegan dessert as part of a blogger recipe collaboration. The idea was inspired by this recipe for vegan lemon meringue pie which Nicolas put together recently, and he had the idea to challenge other food bloggers to get creative (vegan style!) and do the same. And that is how this vegan chocolate caramel tart came about.

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Travel

Budapest’s Healing Springs ~ Eastern Europe’s best kept secret…

When most people think of Eastern Europe, images of dense, fairy tale-esque forests, crumbling soviet era infrastructure, and cold, snowy winters are the first things to come to mind.  But what most do not realize is that in the heart of Hungary’s bustling metropolitan capital, Budapest, there exists a vast network of medicinal healing springs that are much in the way of a local secret.

Hidden in plain sight throughout the city, one only needs to know where to look to find one.  Right in the heart of the city there exists no less than three major spa complexes, the biggest of which, Széchenyi is the largest in all of Europe.

It’s hard to describe the grandeur of the buildings that contain many of these ancient medicinal springs—to put it lightly, these are some of the world’s finest architectural works.  Many of the buildings sit atop springs that have been used since Roman times, when most of the spas were first discovered.  In every sense, visiting the bathhouses and soaking in the rich, medicinal waters is a trip back in time—from the immaculately preserved decor of the historic buildings to the simple pleasure of lounging around in the healing waters without a care in the world, the experience is far removed from the hectic routines of modern life.

In total, Budapest is home to over 100 natural hot springs sporadically located throughout the city. The majority of these classical bathing complexes consist of various pools, ranging in mineral content and temperature, which are filled by ancient underground thermal springs. Most include saunas and steam rooms, special cold pools for hot/cold alternating therapy and offer a variety of expected spa services, such as massages and beauty treatments, among other things.

The three most popular bathhouses in the city are Gellért, which among its many wonders now includes a medicinal salt cave, Lukács, which is mostly frequented by tourist-jaded locals, and Széchenyi, which is the largest and truly an unforgettable experience. The Császár, Rudas and Király baths are also not be missed and are among the oldest in the city.

Healing and Medicinal Properties of the Baths

The thermal springs originate miles below the city from deep within the earth’s mantle, feeding the bathhouses with a seemingly endless supply of highly mineralized water.  Elements such as magnesium, calcium, and sulfate, which serve as a remedy for whatever ails you (but specifically poor circulation, arthritis, skin conditions and any illness resulting from a specific mineral deficiency), are effortlessly absorbed through bathers skin directly into the bloodstream feeding the body’s trillions of cells.

Just one dip in any of the pools, most of which are conveniently labelled with a breakdown of the unique mineral composition, infuses the body with life giving nutrients and renewed vigor.  A trip to the spas will leave you refreshed and simultaneously energized and calm.  It is a unique feeling of rejuvenation that everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing at least once in their lives.  You feel cleansed, alive and nourished—left with the distinct impression that the body has just been given a fresh infusion of life.

However, the many health benefits of the spas cannot solely be attributed to the spring waters.  Within the majestic walls of the city’s bathhouses you are disconnected from both technology and your daily routine—free to just float effortlessly and experience the beauty of the moment. The slightly warm to soothing temperature melts away tension and stress.  Your joints and sore muscles soften and breathe—an especially rejuvenating experience after a long flight and several days of exploring a new city.

A trip to the baths is an experience for the senses and is not to be missed if you are in the area.

Intricately tiled mosaics adorn the interior of the Gellért Baths.

Rainbow stained glass skylight at the Gellért Baths

Crystal blue spring waters in one of the outdoor pools at the Széchenyi Baths.

Travel

Foliage Season in Kyoto – Day 5

Travel-Gourmand.com

We went to Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum last week. Mr. Wyeth lived his whole life between Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and coastal Maine, where he painted prodigiously, of the landscape and a small cast of people, for almost seven decades. Instead of painting “the object as it is in nature”, his works reflect the “mood of a thing rather than the truth”.

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Travel

Douro Valley, Portugal

Travel-Gourmand.com

At the Porto airport, a Sixt rental agent was trying to upsell us a Mercedes-Benz. It’s only 42€/day she claimed – 18€ more than the Smart car we booked off Expedia – and it would come in handy when you drive those mountain roads. She almost had us, that is, until we reviewed the total amount and realized that, contrary to our understanding, the daily rate had now jumped to 66€ (almost tripled the amount we had initially signed up for) and we were going to be driving for 9 days. We politely declined her offer and kept our Smart.

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Expectation, Faith, Gratitude, Happiness, Life, Love, Purpose, Uncategorized

DESIDERATA…đź•Š

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Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

❤️ E.Lyn

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Life, Purpose, Travel

“Who Am I?” – Choice vs Trait

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“It is the intentions, the capacities for choice rather than the total configuration of traits which defines a person.”

And the search for that core person is not a matter of curiosity; it is a search for the principles by which choices are to be made.  One of these principles is the notion of property, which determines the rights and agency of persons, thus transforming them into selves and conferring upon them the status of souls and minds.

The two strands that were fused in the concept of person diverge again:

When we focus on persons as sources of decisions, the ultimate locus of responsibility, the unity of thought and action, we must come to think of them as souls and minds.

When we think of them as possessors of rights and powers, we come to think of them as selves. It is not until each of these has been transformed into the concept of individuality that the two strands are woven together again.

When a society has changed so that individuals acquire their rights by virtue of their powers, rather than having their powers defined by their rights, the concept of person has been transformed to a concept of self…

The quality of an individual self is determined by his qualities: they are his capital, to invest well or foolishly.

Because persons are primary agents of principle, their integrity requires freedom; because they are judged liable, their powers must be autonomous.

But when this criterion for personhood is carried to its logical extreme, the scope of agency moves inward, away from social dramas, to the choices of the soul, or to the operations of the mind.

From character as structured dispositions, we come to soul as pure agency, unfathomable, inexpressible.

Echoing philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s ideas on the relationship between property-ownership, agency, and victimhood, we could consider the role of property in the conception of the self and its identity-crises in the face of alienation:

Judgments of persons are moral; judgments of souls are theological; judgments of selves are economic and political.

Societies of persons are constructed to assure the rights of choice and action; they emerge from a contract of agents; societies of selves are also formed to protect and guarantee the rights of their members.

But when the members of a society achieve their rights by virtue of their possessions, the protection of rights requires the protection of property, even though in principle everyone is equally entitled to the fruits of his labors and protection under law.

The concerns of selves are their interests; their obligations are the duties with which they are taxed or charged. The grammar and the semantics of selfhood reveal the possessive forms.

Whatever will come to be regarded as crucial property, or the means to it, will be regarded as the focus of rights; the alienation of property becomes an attack on the integrity if not actually the preservation of the self.

 Alongside property, the other essential component of the self is the faculty of memory, which, is the seedbed of what makes us who we are to ourselves.
The conscious possession of experiences is the final criterion of identity. The continuity of the self is established by memory; disputes about the validity of memory reports will hang on whether the claimant had as hers the original experience.

Puzzles about identity will be described as puzzles about whether it is possible to transfer, or to alienate memory (that is, the retention of one’s own experience) without destroying the self.

Today, two generations later, this puzzle is all the more puzzling, for it illuminates the central paradox of the singularity movement and its escapist fantasy of somehow decentralizing, downloading, and transferring the self across different corporeal and temporal hosts.

There is difficulty in describing the core possessor, the owner of experiences who is not herself any set of them.

One can speak of characters as sets of traits without looking for a center; but it is more difficult to think of bundles of properties without an owner, especially when the older idea of the person as an agent and decision-maker is still implicit.

It is presumed that the self as an owner is also endowed with capabilities to choose and to act.

Out of this necessity to reconcile the ownership of experience with the capacity for choice arises the level of the individual.

From the tensions in the definition of the alienable properties of selves, and from the corruptions in societies of selves — the divergence of practice from ideological commitments — comes the invention of individuality. It begins with conscience and ends with consciousness.

Unlike characters and figures, individuals actively resist typing: they represent the universal mind of rational beings, or the unique private voice.

Individuals are indivisible entities…

Invented as a preserve of integrity, an autonomous ens, an individual transcends and resists what is binding and oppressive in society and does so from an original natural position.

Although in its inception, individuality revives the idea of person, the rights of persons are formulated in society, while the rights of individuals are demanded of society.

The contrast between the inner and outer person becomes the contrast between the individual and the social mask, between nature and culture.

A society of individuals is quite different from one composed of selves. Individuals contract to assure the basic rights to the development of moral and intellectual gifts, as well as legal protection of self and property.

Because a society of individuals is composed of indivisible autonomous units, from whose natures — their minds and conscience — come the principles of justice, their rights are not property; they cannot be exchanged, bartered.

Their rights and their qualities are their very essence, inalienable.  The integrity of our identity requires a locus of agency that is honored by the collective but cultivated in solitude. 

Being an individual requires having a room of one’s own, not because it is one’s possession, but because only there, in solitude, away from the pressure of others, can one develop the features and styles that differentiate one’s own being from others.

Integrity comes to be associated with difference; this idea, always implicit in individuality, of preserving one’s right against the encroachment of others within one’s own society, emerges as dominant…

And yet there is a level of personhood that exists even above the individual — one that represents our highest mode of being, beyond the ego’s ambitions and preoccupations — the level of presence:
Presences [are] the return of the unchartable soul… They are a mode of attending, being present to [one’s] experiences, without dominating or controlling them.

Understanding other conceptions of persons puts one on the way of being them; but understanding presences — if indeed there is understanding of them to be had — does not put one any closer to being one.

It cannot be achieved by imitation, willing, practice, or a good education.

It is a mode of identity invented precisely to go beyond of achievement and willfulness…❤️E.Lyn.