Lost Love Contest: A Proper Goodbye to My Grandmother

Written by Tracy on January 26, 2011

I never felt I gave a proper “goodbye” to my grandmother before she passed.

By the time I was able to see her in the hospital, she was mentally gone and didn’t know who I was.

So, I would love to have five more minutes with her to say that goodbye.

Our First Lost Love Memory Contest Entry

Written by Misty on January 24, 2011

I lost my mother in Oct 2009.

She went to sleep and never woke back up.

She was my very best friend. We talked to each other on a daily basis.

I really miss hearing her voice, and my three children really miss their “Meme.”

Enter the Clouds

Written by Braiden on January 21, 2011

Chrissy Barrera’s Clouds

One of the joys of editing Five More Minutes With is meeting like-minded people with similar interests.

More of Chrissy’s clouds!

That’s how I “met” (at least via e-mail) Chrissy Barrera, who works with my talented Web designer, Chris Prouty at Studio99Creative.

Chrissy’s final gorgeous cloud study

Chrissy realized we both love to take cloud photos, so she shared a trio of hers with me. I’ve inserted them here for your viewing enjoyment.

And I’ll keep uploading more of my own shots (nabbed some gorgeous ones during our trip to northern California during the holidays) soon.

More stories from: Editor's Notes

God Stories

Written by Braiden on January 18, 2011

I am long overdue in bringing to the attention of the Five More Minutes With audience God Stories, a Web site and book written by former CNN investigative reporter Jennifer Skiff.

In one of those “chance” encounters in life that seem to be pre-ordained by the powers that be above, I first heard about Jennifer last October when I was having lunch as part of my other life as a food-and-wine writer. I was at a culinary conference composed of high-powered women in the food, beverage, and hospitality fields, and ran into a buddy of mine I’d first met at the Greenbrier Food Writers Symposium years ago and had lost touch with in the meantime.

As we caught up on our lives during the ensuing years, I told Carolyn about Five More Minutes With.

Carolyn got a surprised look on her face. “I need to tell you about a friend of mine, Jennifer Skiff,” she exclaimed.

She scribbled down Jennifer’s Web-site URL and e-mail address. Once back in my hotel room, I went to the God Stories site and immediately fell in love with it.

Not to mention her book–“God Stories”–a collection of inspiring first-person accounts of miracle-like encounters with God.

Jennifer’s second book is sure to touch the hearts of all animal lovers. “The Divinity of Dogs: A Collection of Spiritually Enlightening Canine Interventions,” will be published soon.

As inspiration, here’s a short video featuring Jennifer’s own dog.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Dog

The Power of Ritual

Written by Braiden on January 13, 2011

Make a pot of tea as a ritual in your day

An article about the importance of rituals in the work day really captured my attention and gave me pause for thought.

Written for the Harvard Business Review by Peter Bregman, the article recounts Bregman’s thoughts when watching “The Last Samurai” for the second time.

He says, “But this time, I was most moved by a scene I don’t even remember seeing the first time: a samurai drinking tea.

“Sitting at a low table, he moved deliberately, singularly focused on his tea. He contemplated it. Then poured it. Then sipped it, tasted it, and, finally, swallowed it.

“This, I realized, was the source of the samurai’s strength.

“His acrobatics were impressive, but they were merely a demonstration of his strength. The source was this tea ritual and many other rituals like it. His power as a warrior came from his patience, precision, attention to subtlety, concentration, and his reverence for the moment.

“The power of ritual is profound and under-appreciated. Mostly, I think, it’s because we live in a time-starved culture, and ritual is time-indulgent. Who can afford the luxury of doing one thing at a time? Who has the patience to pause and honor an activity before and after we do it?”

It’s easy to incorporate ritual into your daily work life, Bregman says. Nobody even needs to know about it!

“Sit at your desk in the morning, pause before booting up your computer, and mark the moment,” he suggests. “Do this by taking a deep breath. Or by arranging your pens. Whatever it is, do it with the intention of creating respect for what you’re about to begin. Do the same before you make a phone call. Or receive one. Or before you meet with a colleague or customer.

“Each time we pause, notice, and offer respect for an activity, it reminds us to appreciate and focus on what we’re about to do. And by elevating each activity, we’ll take it more seriously. We’ll get more pleasure from it. The people with whom we work will feel more respected. And we’ll feel more self-respect.”

Do you take the time to pause, notice, and offer respect for each activity you do? For each person you meet? Do you honor and appreciate your own thoughts?

If not, today would be the perfect time to start.

More stories from: Editor's Notes

Wine Spirits

Written by Braiden on January 10, 2011

Wine makers are passionate people. It’s one of the main reasons I wrote my seventh book, “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.”

One of the wineries profiled therein was Camaraderie Cellars, located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in Port Angeles. Winemaker Don Corson (who runs the winery with his wife, Vicki) is a wise and wonderful man. He shared his poem, “Autumnal Birth,” with Five More Minutes With in November and is part of a group called WineSpirit.

WineSpirit started when its founders realized, “wine’s extensive role in celebrating life and relationships.” According to the group’s Web site, WineSpirit  connects wine and spirituality in the details of each day by: Celebrating wine as catalyst for opening what/who is inside, taking time to nurture and build relationships, cherishing balance in all facets of life, honoring wine’s partnership connecting di-vine and people, and bringing people of all walks of life together to share stories and explore life’s meaning over a glass of wine.

Here’s a “Thanksgiving Offering,” followed by some questions for reflection, that Don wrote for WineSpirit, and was kind enough to share with the Five More Minutes With audience.

Free Run. . .a Thanksgiving Offering

By Don Corson

We are a small winery, but at last count we had 21 fermentations on the tasting-room blackboard; now we were down to the last three for pressing. A couple of months of travel, squashing grapes, pumping-over tanks, pressing, and barreling new wine had all come down to these last couple of days, especially now.

“Free run” is the wine in a tank of fermenting grapes that comes out like Noah’s flood as you open the valve near the bottom of the tank. Off it goes into another tank via a hose and in another day or so I will get it into oak barrels for aging.

But this was special. End of the harvest! The last three fermentations and I was going to get them all flowing at the same time. I got all the tanks in place and double-checked the seals and clamps. I got a bottle of an older vintage, a sibling of the same varieties I was going to press.

It’s a proprietary blend called “Triomphe” (seemed appropriate). I called my wife for her to come too. I opened the wine and poured us a couple of glasses.

Then, one… two… three… we opened the valves as closely together as we could. The rush of hundreds of gallons of wine surging at the same time and splashing into tanks was thunderous. Splosh, whoosh, stallions stampeding, name the metaphor… it was all there.

After a few minutes things quieted a bit. The wine was over the valve in the new tank and wine was swirling and fizzing in the tank. I climbed a ladder, peered in at the spectacle, and soaked in the scene of new wine released and transformed from its grape-y origins just days ago. Heady aromas of new wine, alcohol, sparkly CO2, and fresh stone-fruit preserves captured me.

I smiled. All was well.

This is my 30th vintage. Moments like these are never old. I can’t imagine delegating this much fun and wonder. This is my job.

In the comparative quiet of still filling tanks I offered a whispered “thank you.”

An answer came back. Not in words but in understanding.

“You’re welcome.”

I think Elijah had the same experience in a way. It was not in the storm and the wind that God came to him but in the “still small voice.”

As Thanksgiving comes and fills the commercial void between Halloween and end-of-the-year festivities I am going to enjoy the memory of rushing newly released wine and celebrate the harvest now complete.

But, I am also alert again to the need for even a whispered genuine “thank you” and the answer that had been there even before I said anything. “You’re welcome.”

Questions to reflect upon:

1. What is your noisy place and how do you find silence and the small voices of Spirit?

2. “I soaked in the scene of new wine released and transformed from its grape-y origins just days ago. Heady aromas of new wine, alcohol, sparkly CO2 and fresh stone-fruit preserves captured me.”

What seasonal or culminating activity engages and enlivens your passion and your appreciation for life’s ways and miracles?

3. What energy do you connect with in a heartfelt exchange of Thank You/You’re Welcome?

More stories from: Featured Story

Eat, Love, Pray in the New Year

Written by Braiden on January 6, 2011

I really enjoyed a New Year’s-based column by Kathleen Parker, a long-time (23 years) syndicated columnist at The Washington Post. Her wise words urge us to “Eat, Pray, Love. Sort of. Call it EPL 2.0: Eat less, pray in private, love because. . .what’s the alternative?”

Parker encourages us to eat less in order to stay more healthy. If we do that, we can avoid the “death panels” (a.k.a. limits on what can be done to forestall death using expensive and invasive modern medicine techniques) proposed under the new health-care system. By eating less (by shopping around the perimeters of the grocery store for healthy[ier] foods and limiting the intake of sugar, for example) we avoid getting fat, which can lead to health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

Next Parker intones us to “pray quietly.” Don’t try to convert others, “invade countries, or shed infidels of their heads” in the name of religion.

Finally, “love,” which is all about “giving.” Parker defines “giving” much the way I do: “Listening. Sparing time. Not interrupting. Holding that thought. Leaving the last drop. Staying home. Turning it off, whatever it is. Making eye contact. Picking it up. Paying attention. Waiting.”

More stories from: Editor's Notes

Today You Are You!

Written by Braiden on January 3, 2011

I thought we’d begin 2011 on the Five More Minutes With Web site in a mirthful and joyous, but ultimately wise vein, thanks to a poem by none other than Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a., Dr. Seuss.

Today you are you! That is truer than true!

There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!

Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham

Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!

I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be!

If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Happy birthday to us all, even if today isn’t actually your special day.

Wake up, choose to be happy, and follow your dreams!

And Happy New Year, too!