The Zen of Spinach

Life lessons come in the strangest packages, and today’s lesson was never underestimate the generosity of the universe, for it shall manifest itself when you need it most and when you least expect it. Sounds crytic doesn’t it? Yes, well, that is exactly how it felt. Do you remember the old Peter Pan movie from 1953? We congratulations to those who do, because I think that was best version of Peter Pan ever made. But don’t get lost down Memory Lane just yet and let’s focus on Peter’s issues with his errant shadow shall we?

It feels as though I have been shadow boxing with my own shadow for the longest time, struggling to allow my authentic self to emerge and flourish. Your shadow is always there, silent, armed with devious illusions, but also ready to slap you in the face with some hard cold truths. You can try and ignore it but when you turn around or the light shifts the shadow returns, and sometimes even haunts you in your dreams, nagging you more than your own mother ever could. What’s my point? We go through the motions of life putting on a grand performance for others, almost killing ourselves to fulfill roles that were created for us, or we fell into and much to our horror, were not at all what we hoped would be. Very few dare to break the mould and venture out into the great unknown, finally learning the difference between risk, risky and risque… and that life is a world full of uncertainties where nothing is guaranteed. The bigger the risk, sometimes the bigger the reward. Or the harder the fall. Take your pick, but get the hell out of the damn fishbowl.

The Lisbon Dialogues I ©FrogDiva Photography

Inner shadows and the interplay of light in our souls fascinates me. Self-denial and cowardice to rise up to the challenge often holds us back, and we end up settling into that comfortable niche that we call home. There’s nothing wrong with that, after all, it’s safe, familiar, and predictable. But when you are stripped of all the trimmings and left naked to face the universe, you really have no choice but to embrace whatever comes your way. The shadows never leave you, but ocassionally they take on the role of shade instead, providing comfort and solace when there is nobody within arms length to do so. God I could use a hug just about now.

To say that March was a challenging month is a gross understatement on my part. I try to play it down sometimes just to convince myself of my own sanity. But the reality and magnitude of what I have done hits me in the middle of the night, and I wonder where I go from here. What will April bring? Who will April bring? Where will April lead me? Question after question, but then the calendar reminded me that there are still two days left in March. OK; so let’s kick some ass and cause a rucuss to end the month on a high. Nothing to lose at this point.

The Lisbon Dialogues II ©FrogDiva Photography

We switched over to daylight saving time over the weekend, and it is not easy on the body clock. I find myself standing at the doorstep waiting for my Uber and the street lamps are still on, while my mind just wants to turn and retreat back under the blanket. Why oh why am I doing this? Because we wanted something new and exciting whispers my shadow. OK, I sigh, adventure it is. I can sleep when I’m dead.

Shadows remind me of that quintessential time between night and day, when nothing is definite but everything is possible. Yesterday was Monday, and my body ached for more sleep, but instead, Shadow pointed out that it was free coffee morning (until noon) as well as food basket day, so at noon I found myself holding a free ball of cheese. I can’t really go into detail about the governing semantics of this cheese, but suffice it to say that it is a perk I look forward to each and every time. Armed with my queijo, I knew my sandwiches would be secured for the week (assuming I remember to buy bread)! Who knew that a ball of fermented milk could bring such comfort and joy?

The Lisbon Dialogues III ©FrogDiva Photography

Simple abundance. It’s all about finding joy in the little things.

Today I rushed to my desk (the Uber was late and we got stuck in traffic) and was puffing with exasperation when I found a fluffy plastic bag on my chair. It was an entire bag of spinach! The same person who presented me with the tupperware full of plant cuttings during my first week at work harvested some spinach and herbs and shared the abundance. Unknown to her this was a small victory for me because my probation period is over now, and I can breathe with ease. No laurels in my hair to march through Rome, but a humble bag of homegrown spinach and herbs to mark another milestone in Portugal.

I was asked today how long I plan to stay in Portugal and without hesitation, I replied at least five years. I am about to commit to a major tax incentive program that is valid for ten years, which would bring me short of retirement age, so I can’t possibly turn my back on that now. Hell, yes, the FrogDiva did it again and jumped right into the pond in the deep end. Bah humbug, the shallow end is too boring and safe. Bring on the spinach and cheese balls, because I have switched from shadow boxing to shadow dancing.

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