life on shuffle.

If you were to look at the selection of music, books and movies on my I-Pod, you might think a pack of drunken gerbils had gotten together and started down loading from i tunes one night while throwing a wild party. It looks like they had a fine time throwing back shots of tequila and high five-ing each other as they downloaded hits of the 60’s, corny country songs, three hankie chick flicks and new age books.   

Ever the organizer, I have painstakingly been careful to craft playlists that group certain things together. I have my very own unique system. I invented it ALL BY MYSELF, dude. IN. VENT. ED.
This must be what it feels like to be Taylor Swift!

When I walk or drive in the car, most of the time I select one of my playlists or listen to sirius.  The other day, my I-Pod did that wonky shuffle thing and I found myself listening to bits and pieces of the hodge-podge collection.

My first reaction was to switch it off that setting, but since I was driving, and I was in a curious mood,  I just let it go.  For the next thirty minutes, I listened as songs from my past came on, interspersed with short tracks from books.  

At first it was a little unsettling to hear a three minute segment from Maya Angelo reminding me that  people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel...followed by a rockin’ rendition of “It’s Raining Men,” by The Weather Girls.   Then it was on to Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” followed by Garrison Keillor musing about Guy Noir and powdermilk biscuits in Lake Wobegon.  Shelly West and David Frizzell cooing “You're the reason God made Oaklahoma.” Moving right into a little Melody Gardot, followed by a bit of a lecture on images in Poe’s poetry and Bob Dylan "Tangled up in Blue".

Some selections sent me back in time.  Some propelled me forward.  Some made me smile and others made me tear up.  There were some that were more than a little embarrassing and others that completely surprised me.  (The theme song from Xanadu?  Really?)  The range of emotions and movement through time squeezed my heart a little.  

When I reached my destination, I reached over and turned my I-Pod off and just listened to the sound of my own heart, beating away. It was a new thing for me, Miss always needs to Control, I just let whatever come, come.  I didn’t even try to classify, organize, or categorize.  I just let the next selection play, listened to it, and take me wherever it wanted.  

I am normally a big believer in resolutions.  I love making that list and picking my word at the beginning of the year, so full of hope and possibility. But maybe that is just a playlist of sorts and maybe this year I need to live my life on shuffle, to experience it all—the trips back in time, the trips forward in time, the fun, the pain, the uncertainty, the surprises—without trying to control them.  

In this next year, experiences will come and experiences will go. My hope is to listen to each one with an open mind and let it teach me what I need to learn.  

Above all else, in the midst of the busy year ahead, I must remember to periodically shut everything else out and just listen to the music of my own heartbeat.  

In the end that’s the most important song, and the one that will always lead me back home.


Black-Eyed Pea Soup
   serves 6

12 oz package black-eyed peas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
2 peeled carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme or herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon tomato paste - see cook's notes
8 oz tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
7 cups water, or a combination of low sodium, low fat beef broth and water - see cook's notes
Worcestershire sauce, optional
Sour cream for garnish
Optional other garnishes include chopped green scallions, small chunks of sautéed ham, chopped cilantro, seeded & chopped jalapeno peppers

Soak peas overnight in a large stock pot with plenty of water to cover. Drain, rinse, and put back into the stock pot with the beef broth, tomato sauce, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.

While the peas are coming to a boil, sauté the vegetables and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive in a non-stick skillet until softened and beginning to caramelize. Stir frequently. When browned, sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the dried herbs and stir. Then add the tablespoon of tomato paste, stir to incorporate it into the vegetables, and let it brown a moment or two, then add the sautéed vegetables to the peas.

When peas come to a boil, simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary. Before serving, taste for salt, add if necessary, and discard bay leaves. If you want a touch more flavor, add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Garnish as desired.

Cook's notes: The tomato paste is used to further caramelize the vegetables and the paste should brown a little. For a less “soupy” soup, try 6 cups of liquid and add more liquid if needed.


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