Thursday, February 25, 2010

A day of seeing red...

About 20 years ago, I learned a very, very, very important life lesson. The lesson was: Life is so much easier if you have God in it! I learned too, that it didn't matter what my conception of God was, (for example, I could use Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, etc.) it was only important that I USED it.

I think I've always believed in some sort of Higher Power, except when I was trying, as a teen-ager, to shock my family by declaring I WAS AN ATHEIST. I had always believed in God, I just never knew how to use it. (It, him, they, her... who knows?)

The big lesson was: if you ask for help from your Higher Power every day, life is SO MUCH EASIER.

It was almost ridiculous when I initially tried it; I remember thinking, "If it is so easy, WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE DO IT?" :-)

I also learned, that if I could get on my knees while asking for help (Ouch! and "Too much trouble"), it was even more evident how easier life could be.

Now, I wish I could say that I get on my knees every day, twice a day, but I don't. In fact, I can't even say that I get on my knees MOST days. I usually have to be very afraid of something I'm facing and it often involves worrying about my sons in what they should or should not be doing. My sons certainly bring me plenty of practice getting on my knees!

There is something I face on a regular basis that also brings me to my knees: teaching.

Now, I've been teaching off and on for over 20 years, find the profession generally agreeable, and feel I'm quite gifted and talented as a teacher. However, I suffer with terrible "stage fright," fully dread a day of teaching, and put a great deal of emotional energy into preparation and execution. I'm a limp rag by the end of a teaching day.

Teaching scares me and it wears me out.

Over the years, I've found myself on my knees in the restrooms of the Humanities Building at the University of Louisville, the restrooms of both Knobview Hall and other buildings at Indiana University Southeast, and the restrooms of Jefferson Community and Technical College.

When I get on my knees before entering a class, I usually come out of the class session feeling mighty fine.

I often wonder if my HP has me in the teaching profession JUST SO I have to get on my knees regularly. :-)

So, here in South Africa, it is no exception: I am terrified upon entering a classroom. So, I've been on my knees, well, in my hostel room. (I don't think HP would even want me on my knees in a pit toilet.)

So, yesterday morning, I was rushing off to class and I realized, while I was on the path to my primary school, that I had forgotten to get on my knees. In fact, I had forgotten to ask for help at all. As I began my prayers as I walked, a little red dragonfly approached and then flew right by my side for about 50 feet. He hovered right at my hipbone and flew along with me, as if he were "walking with me." I smiled when I realized that I'm never alone, especially when feeling panicked about missing my daily surrender.

Isn't this guy SPECTACULAR! I love him! As usual, the photographs (not mine; see below) don't do him justice: he is absolutely VIVID! His red seems coated in neon. I just love him.

After he left me, I rounded a corner to a beautiful bunch of these red star zinnias (Zinnia peruviana) that grow wild in South Africa. I too, absolutely love these flowers and hadn't seen them in my area until yesterday. Once again, I was feeling in good company. (This photo too, is not mine, see below.)

And lastly, peppers. These are peri-peri peppers, (photo not mine), of a variety I have been consuming lately.

Their Latin name is (Capsicum frutescens) and the nickname is "African Devil." As you can imagine, they're pretty spicy. (Photo below, is not mine.)

Back home in Kentucky, my household has a family tradtion of having an evening "hot toddy." Now, these toddies are not full of alcoholic spirits, but are full of fire nonetheless. We take tomato or vegetable juice, add a fiery hot pepper, and usually green tomato pickles that are as hot as fire. Oh yes, and a squirt of lemon. They burn all the way down!

We enjoy these especially if we feel a tickle in our throats and worry that a chill or cold may be coming on.

I've just read a couple of books by Neil M. Orr and David Patient, both who have dedicated themselves to bettering lives of those affected with HIV/AIDS. I'll have the honor of attending a workshop presented by these gentlemen in a few weeks.

I found their books/booklets very informative. What I liked best about them is that they suggest life style changes to boost immune systems. All kinds of suggestions are made: how to eat, how to grow your own safe food supply, etc. (I especially enjoyed the gardening section: it is a "how to" in building a home garden with the same types of gardening techniques I'm trying to introduce to my community's garden.)

In their discussion on keeping the body warm, they have this to say:

"Cayenne pepper is the safest of the heating spices if you have a sensitive stomach...We suggest that--three times a day--you take a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of water or fruit juice, with a little lemon juice. Viruses, in particular, do not enjoy the increased heat. This is why the cayenne pepper drink helps to clear up many skin conditions, such as warts, herpes, and shingles." (Positive Health, 2008), 47.

So, my family and I were right about a hunch that the spicy pepper might ward off any bug-a-boos. And I'm delighted to be having my "hot toddy" three times a day! Wooo Weeee! And I toast my loved one at each swig.

Soon, Karen

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