Under the Aura

29 May '17  — No one's more special

Looking beyond

I used to think spirituality teachers led spiritual lives. I thought they had things figured out. As I came out from under their spell (of multiple leaders), I started to question whether they had anything figured out. Now I know they aren't likely to know more than the average person.

There are similarities between leaders. They're generally charismatic and great story tellers, and poor at writing. Like anyone in the general population, some end up cheating on their spouses, and many worry about logistics of life, like organizing sold out retreats.

I finally see clearly. While under the influence, I knew there was something that I wasn't getting but I knew I had to wait before I could understand. Most leaders are obsessed with themselves and many outwardly state that they're not different than their audience. At the same time, they understand their influence and how they have no control over others' perception of them.

Leaders often emphasize an origin story. Usually, it a story about how they woke up one day and saw the world differently. It's a story that says: 'listen to me...I've been chosen.' I have enough experience to write on spirituality from an anthropological perspective.

Another group of people who deliver inspiration are musicians. Famous musicians promote peace, love and happiness and often, their lives are anything but.

Some who personally knew John Lennon revealed that "at the time of his shooting, he was worried about his career, unsure that his first album in five years would sell."

It's not that all musicians and spiritual leaders don't live what they preach, it's that they're just as likely to be clueless as the general population. They happen to be good at preaching and inspiring. It's a skill like being good at motorcycle maintenance.

A profession doesn't determine the character of a person. As simple as it is to say this, it hasn't been simple to believe.


Garden Weekend

28 May '17  — Working out outside

Can't wait for these strawberries

This was the first weekend I spent in the garden. I went to my husband's parents house where there was a ton of garden work available.

Just last week, I started to jog in the mornings. After spending hours at the computer, it feels great to be more active.

Attending a garden may not seem active, but after three hours of weeding, I found my muscles sore the next morning. This 'workout' comes with a sense of accomplishment. I can visually see all the baby veggies in a row without any weeds obstructing growth. This is the kind of exercise I can get use to.

Today's vlog was filmed in the garden. Take a look at the baby lettuce.


Toilet Paper

27 May '17  — Which way do you face

'You did it again!'

'Did what?'

'The toilet paper is facing the wrong direction!'

I dated a guy who had to have the toilet paper fall the right way. He walked me through putting toilet paper into the holder while giving me reasons why it was better. It was such an issue that I paid attention. However, the reasons he listed also applied for installing the paper in the 'wrong' direction.

'It needs to fall out and over the roll.'

It's a circular roll. I couldn't imagine that there are time savings in reaching an inch further.

My husband knew a couple who had broken up over the same issue. They couldn't agree on which direction the toilet paper should face.

How could such an important issue be totally invisible to me? Maybe there's something private and embarrassing that people do when the door is closed that requires paper to fall a certain way.

Or perhaps it's one of those characteristics that reveals who you are. I'd love to see this preference on a dating profile.

How do you like your toilet paper set up:
A. falling frontwards
B. falling from the back
C. as long as it's on
D. as long as it's within vicinity

Toilet paper might hold some answers.


The Enchiridion

26 May '17  — 'Behave in life as at a dinner party'

The only one in bloom. But that's okay.

I want to be myself. But I have a habit of wanting to be someone else.

'Oh I wish I had space in my stomach for ice cream, like all those people outside the ice cream shop.'

'Oh I wish I were eating pizza in Rome like that guy in the video.'

'Oh I wish I could drive stick.'

I have hundreds of moments each day where I wish I were someone else. In the above instances, I go from wishing I were the type of person who leaves room in my stomach for dessert to a person who would plan a trip over laying on the couch and finally, to a person who can stand more time in a car.

Even if I could technically do all these things, I'm not a person in the circumstance to put these desires into action. It's not a free expression, otherwise, I'd be doing them with no time to lament.

"If you suppose what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered."

These skills and circumstances are owned by others, not me. Today's thoughts were inspired by The Enchiridion, by Epictetus, written in 135 A.D.

"Remember that you must behave in life as at a dinner party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand and take your share with moderation. Does it pass by you? Don't stop it. Is it not yet come? Don't stretch your desire towards it, but wait till it reaches you. Do this with regard to children, to a wife, to public posts, to riches, and you will eventually be a worthy partner of the feasts of the gods. And if you don't even take the things which are set before you, but are able even to reject them, then you will not only be a partner at the feasts of the gods, but also of their empire."

I like this guy.


The Voltaire Room

25 May '17  — A room in a summer palace

A relatively modest chandelier. Entering this room was like walking into spring, flowers in bloom everywhere.

Voltaire stayed in the corner room at Sanssouci palace when he visited between 1750-1753. But then he began to quarrel with Frederick the Great, the king of the palace. As 'revenge', Frederick decorated his room with parrots and monkeys after Voltaire left.

Is it a lost art? Insulting someone in lavish style?

I like the idea.

Just a crane hanging out on a plate of fruit.

The room is also known as the Flower Room. The chandelier seems like something that could be sold in a luxury home shop. It's not as old fashioned as most of the other objects in the palace.

The following are some of my favorite Voltaire quotes.

"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."

"Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable."

The room wasn't that big but it included a small bed inside a nook. Take a look at the room with furniture. What are these restored heritage sites showing if they can't recreate the actual environment? There was a carpeted walkway for visitors and ropes that guarded the sides of the room. When the room was used, it wouldn't have looked anything close to how it's arranged today.

"We never live; we are always in the expectation of living."

"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too."

"To hold a pen is to be at war."

The pomegranate seeds and grapes were so three dimensional, I felt as if I could pick them off the wall

The room, located in Sans Souci Palace, is designed by Johann Christian Hoppenhaupt and Johann Gottfried Büring.


Vegetarian Tapas

24 May '17  — I'm so full

Yesterday, I made vegetarian meatballs in homemade tomato sauce, zucchini pancakes, Pimientos de Padrón, garlic flatbread, and lemon garlic asparagus for tapas night.

I remember working for corporations where HR would organize events. Like an ice cream social in the summer or after work drinks. My husband and I are always at home so there are no planned events to socialize at.

In the spirit of corporate HR, I made plans for 'Tapas Night'.

It didn't really start out that way.

On Saturday I wanted to make tapas. We went to the shop and grabbed some groceries.

I had intentions to cook. But evening came and I felt lazy.

Then Sunday came. All I wanted to do was eat out.

On Monday, I felt too busy for any sort of cooking. By Monday evening, I was determined to make tapas the next day.

When I woke up on Tuesday, the desire was strong. 'It's official, it's Tapas Night tonight.'

I never prepare more than a couple dishes when eating at home. This was the first time I attempted to do what my mom normally does for a single meal. I was so tired by the end of the cooking session that I ended up stuffing myself with food.

It was delicious. Since I ate too fast, I had difficulty digesting. The fried flatbread was causing a bit of trouble. On the plus side, we have a ton of tasty leftovers.

Watch Tapas Night unfold...


Google List

23 May '17  — There's an infinite number of things I don't know

Is this plant confused?

I was walking the botanical garden's 'Oceania' section when I came across this flower bush.

It's fall down under, but there are flowers on this bush as if it were spring. Maybe this plant has flowers year round?

Should a plant from down under behave differently when it's in the Northern hemisphere?

Of course, I can google it. Whenever I ponder on a topic too long, my husband demands I google and find out.

'I wonder...'

I'd rather not know and come up with my own rationale. It takes a lot to find the right keywords and then find a reputable source to read. Probably fifty to a hundred clicks before figuring anything out.

Plus, I've got a backlog of things that I've wanted to google.

Even if it is a click away, it's hundreds of thousands of clicks away.



22 May '17  — Bedazzled, atmospherically under water

Real monsters, originally completed in 1769

The Grotto Hall in the Neues Palais is the most calming ball room I've ever come across. Who cares if you don't know how to dance? Just chill out in a corner.

Getting to the palace is like crossing a desert. There's barely any shade on the paths surrounding. I walked in a bit sweaty and was immediately cooled the instant I entered the ballroom.

I was wondering what it'd be like to attend a ball here

The walls are lined with quartz and sea shells of all shapes and sizes. It feels as if you're in an actual grotto. I'm skeptical of the powers crystals hold, but in the midst of so many, you can feel the power of being enveloped in natural stone.

The room has over 24,000 shells, semi-precious stones, and fossils. These shells reminded me of butterflies.

From the images, the color palette doesn't seem as classy as other ballrooms, but when you're standing in the room, you can't help but focus on individual details. It's hard to see everything at once.


Beauty and the Beast

22 May '17  — A tale that's hopefully not as old as time

A real-life beauty and the beast experience at Potsdam

I've seen the 1991 Disney version hundreds of times and I've always dreamed of being gifted an enormous library. Watching this year's remake, I saw the story in a new light.

Why did the beast have to wait for a female to break the spell? He could have won the heart of her dad. The spell was that he had to love and earn love in return. There are many types of love outside of romantic hetero love. There were plenty of people within the castle to love.

And what was the enchantress doing just waiting to catch the prince? He was raised by an awful dad--how could she expect him to know better?

One thing they made clear was that the servants deserved to suffer because they let the prince/beast get away with being vain and selfish. It's everyone's fault. The servants let their boss live out a cruel existence. That idea is way too progressive for today. 'Taking responsibility for what is going on as a collective? No, it's always the guy at the top.'

Why was the village happier at the end when royalty was restored?

Who wrote this and what are they trying to say?

"the story of Beauty and the Beast was meant for girls who would likely have their marriages arranged. Beauty is traded by her impoverished father for safety and material wealth, and sent to live with a terrifying stranger. De Beaumont’s story emphasizes the nobility in Beauty’s act of self-sacrifice, while bracing readers, Tatar explains, 'for an alliance that required effacing their own desires and submitting to the will of a monster.'" - 'The Dark Morality of Fairy-Tale Animal Brides, the Atlantic

WOW. Persuading girls they were noble in submitting to a random dude.

The original version was written in 1740 by the French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.


Veg Balls

21 May '17  — An unexpected cooking session

What my balls are made of

I was in bed watching youtube when I came across a video on veggie meatballs.

I've never considered making veggie meatballs. But after the video, I jumped out of bed to make them. Not only did I have most of the ingredients, the recipe was extremely easy. It seemed more easy to make than to decide where to go out and eat.

Also, I've never made anything meatball shaped so I was excited to try.

I was missing one ingredient, parmesan, so I put in extra breadcrumbs and placed a piece of fresh mozzarella in the center of each ball.

There are so many recipes online, it's overwhelming. I find myself cooking when I come across a new recipe that's easy. I'm more than likely to try it if I already have the ingredients.

Am I lazy? Grocery shopping makes me extremely tired. I have a hard time cooking and grocery shopping in the same day. I don't know how moms do it.

The veg-balls came out oozing. My husband thought they were incredible.

I thought the balls were delicious but I think they could've been better. I'll try making them with parmesan next time. Maybe a video on making them in the future.