A zesty reminder that I want more THAT, don’t you?

I spend a lot of time cooking in the kitchen, so when I think of the word zest, my first thought goes to the kind you would find there:  lemon, orange or lime zest.  They each bring such color and unique spark to a dish.  That additional touch of flavor creates more interest to your recipe, and like most herbs and spices, a little goes a long way.  I love them all!

This, as you know, is only one meaning of the word.  A second is about gusto and an enjoyably exciting quality, a deep, hearty relishing.  Yet a third is about liveliness and energy and an animating spirit.  It is the realm of these two definitions that I want to consider here.  Zest is one of the many words known as onomatopoeia – a term you most likely learned in grade school but may have forgotten.  An onomatopoeia is a word that when said out loud, is naturally suggestive of its meaning.  Sometime it imitates the sound of its definition.  As a linguistic device, it’s been used by many a great writer.  Here’s a few more:  Puff – Fizz – Plink – Sizzle – Cacophony, all great onomatopoeias.  Think about this as you say them out loud, and now say Zzzzzzzzzzzzzest!!!  Obviously more Z’s were added for emphasis, but they help illustrate my point.  Can you say zest and not feel something? For a little word, it’s packing quite the punch.  It’s got guts and gusto!  There’s energy and enthusiasm!  It’s alive and sassy!

Could your life use a little infusion of zest?  How can we give it and how can we get it?  I think of the axiom “Live every day as if it’s your last.”  When you re-frame life in this manner, it should be easy to see where you can bring zest, and where you can give it.  What conversations need it?  What relationships desire it most?  What situations could benefit?  And then we practice, one day at a time, because we don’t know when it might be our last.

ZEST…I don’t know about you, but I want more of that.


I wonder what Mark Zukerberg is up to this Meatless Monday?

Did you hear Mark Zukerberg’s recent decision?  I learned that he routinely takes on significant personal challenges, but when I first heard his decision to only eat meat that he killed himself, I immediately flashed to the picture of a bored gazillionaire just trying to spice it up a bit! Graham Hill, founder of Treehugger.com cites categories for people who fall into part-time vegetarian status.  Hill lists one category,“The Assassin,” which like  Zukerberg,  includes people who only eat meat they first hunt!  Hill outlines his own struggle with conscience, since as a certified “green guy” he considers a vegetarian diet better for the planet; however, he just can’t quite go all the way.

So, in a speech presented at a TED conference and published as “Weekday Vegetarian” he describes his compromise, a decision to only eat meat on the weekend, and he offers a range of categories including The Happy Mealer, people who only eat sustainable meats, The Vampire, meat-eating only after sunset, and The Holier Than Thou–meat only on Sunday.

Although I don’t claim to be a vegetarian, I happen to really enjoy most “meat substitutes” and so it’s not hard for me to shift to a predominantly plant-based diet. I’ve been a part of the Meatless Monday Campaign for a long time, and have gradually extended that into most of the week. Why consider this at all?  I don’t have any one answer, except to say that my tastes have certainly shifted and I generally feel better.  But I think I need to find a new category of my own. Maybe my category could be The Ill At Ease—someone who eats meat only in social situations when a vegetarian option is not available. I prefer making my choices optional when other people are hosting a gathering. And actually, I’m a little self-conscious with the entire discussion, sensitive to how much privilege is associated with even having the abundance of choice!

A new fresh awareness of privilege played out purchasing a Subway sandwich. I was next in line behind a young woman, fascinated at her confidence as she deliciously chirped the most specific instructions to the sandwich artist, requesting “just heat the meat but don’t toast the bread,” and “can you put mayo on only one side of the sandwich?” She was ordering several to-go items and each one had variations I’d never heard before. The impatient lunch crowd was not short on eye-rolls, heavy sighs or under- breath remarks, but I was truly impressed with what seemed a rather ordinary, every-day example of the privilege of abundant choice!

One of Zuckerberg’s statements is that he thinks it is important to  be more aware of where his food comes from, and although I cannot even imagine his extreme-of-choice, and I almost cringe at the vocabulary associated with “conscious eating,”  I do think a measured response is to count it a privilege to have choice in the first place. So with much gratitude, I do observe a few simple challenges of my own, and think you may enjoy learning more about The Meatless Monday Campaign, too.

If you, or someone you care about is interested in learning more, I suggest going directly to  Meatless Monday | one day a week, cut out meat and learning more.  You might find it intriguing…I did.  And then I regularly follow this interesting site, Have Fun • Do Good: meatless monday, with many helpful suggestions. Simple food for thought.

And for such abundant supply, I encourage a week of gratitude.


Saturday Paws: The girls are going to have a pool party today!

It’s another hot August weekend, isn’t it? Time to think about your pets. Remember, some dogs have a tougher time with the hot weather. We sometimes aren’t as tuned to this fact since our ways of cooling ourselves may include–forgive my southern roots for a moment– becoming all dewy and feeling unladylike for sure! We may fan ourselves, wear lightweight clothing, or sit in the shade with a tall cool drink to run across our foreheads!  But on their own, my dogs can only find a shady spot and take long drinks of H2O.  Add to that, dear Mae-be Baby and other Boxers, Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers (short nosed dogs) have a very difficult time perspiring! Thank goodness they do have their paws, another way to regulate their body heat.

Mae-be showed me her own solution to the heat one day! One very hot afternoon I had just freshened a good-sized farmhouse ceramic mixing bowl sitting in the shade and partially recessed in the dirt to help keep a fairly cool temperature, and I watched Mae-be go right to it for a long drink. Dogs, just like us, do not always remember to restore their water tanks, so I try to make sure to reward them for drinking water. So there I was saying “Oh good girl, have some more water!” and she stuck her paw right into the bowl! I thought she might be claiming her territory or washing a foxtail out of her paw, but after checking, all was well, yet she repeated her paw-washing technique a few more times.

And this year we were ready! The local pet stores sell small wading pools, just like the ones I remember from childhood, except that in place of fish and shell designs on the bottom there are a number of bone-shaped raised areas, I suppose to provide better footing… or is that pawing? It only took a few minutes of filling it with water before both dogs were acting like this was the largest watering dish EVER!

With treats in hand and cheerful encouragement, “Want a treat? Get in the water,” both dogs were soon testing the bottom of the pool with one paw each. Mae-be was delighted to be the one to jump in–so to speak, but she seemed to wonder why a dog with such a hairy coat—Ruffles, was so hesitant! More treats and even more encouraging words, and I still needed to find the right arm positioning so that Ruffles would not just run around the outside of the pool. But soon both dogs stopped panting and enjoyed. Now Mae-be will place all four paws in the water, even performing a little twirl for good measure.

During these “Dog Days of Summer” please remember your own critters!  Freezing bottles of water and leaving them in their play areas can be just the thing. Ice cubes or frozen veggies can provide cool entertainment for your pets. Horses often like to play with large melons in a cool tub of water; their version of bobbing for apples. And every animal, even fish in an outside pond, needs shade. I never take my dogs with me in the car this time of year. The temps in California and other desert areas are deadly in less than ten minutes!

While we’re talking about protecting our animal friends from the heat, I want to remind you to do the same for yourself.  Remember to re-hydrate! And you know, a wading pool can sometimes be a good place for big people, too.  Please stay cool!

Blessings, Beth

Your mid-week nudge: Bottoms Up! | breathelighter.