Judgment detoxification

Folks, I think it’s high time we stop it. We need to stop this foolishness. Judgment. Why are we judging each other constantly? Why am I judging myself constantly? When I know – and I know it deep down – that I am doing the best that I can every day. Yet I’m requiring more, asking more, thinking I should be more, comparing myself to others more… and it’s exhausting. I can barely breathe.

Today I feel like I’ve been trudging up this judgment mountain and I reached the peek. And I’m glad I’m here and I can see out around me but hell I have no desire to climb this mountain ever again. I’m done. This is done. I’ve had enough.

I have no desire to judge anyone any more. I don’t even want to pretend that I think I know why you are doing what you are doing. What the hell do I know? I’m not the one living in your skin and in your head and heart every day. I don’t know if walking outside and going to the supermarket has been the most trying task for you today, or whether it was easy and you didn’t think about it twice. I don’ t know where you’ve been and what you’ve been experiencing. I don’t know who or what you’re grieving for. I couldn’t tell you what the last event was that brought you joy. I don’t even know you. Yet here I sit with judgments about you flitting through my mind. Enough!

And do you know HOW I know that I don’t know you? Because I spend 24 hours a day WITH MYSELF (and have done so for several decades) and I barely know myself! My own reactions, thoughts and daydreams startle me! I recently experienced a panic attack, and that was a new experience. Heck, I even discovered a new vegetable last month (chicory) – ha! So if living in such close proximity to one human being – aka, me – is already rife with so many mysteries, discoveries and question marks – how on Earth can I pretend to know you?

…and don’t get me started on when I think I know what is best for you (inserts snorting laughter here)… because I have all my sh*t together, right? (ha!) and here I go telling you how to live your life (shakes head)…

The dictionary tells me that judgment is “the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion“.

I want to take that word ABILITY and throw it off the mountain top and lose it forever. Right now I’m thinking we can replace it for a while with the word DISABILITY. A crippling disability that we need to receive support for in order to overcome it.

The support system for our disability would also teach us 3 magic words: “JUST LIKE ME”. They would teach us that these need to be added as an afterthought to every judgment in order to nullify the negative effects of judgments.

Example:

“Wow – that guy is always on the go!”…and adding at the end “just like me

“Crikey, it looks like the government has no idea what its doing”…(clears her throat), “just like me.”

“That lady looks lovely, and she’s obviously been working out,” … (winks to self), “just like me!”

At the end of the day this disability called judgment is probably here to stay, much like covid-19, rats and paying taxes. Except in the case of this particular epidemic we are all already infected. There is no vaccine and there are only two known cures.

1. Stop yourself mid-act while passing judgment on someone else (you’ve got to be really quick on your toes for this one!)

2. Once you do judge… just add the 3 magic words… “just like me”

…and at least that way you’ll be reminded of your own folly and wonder and your humility will stay in check as you remember that hey, you too, are most likely just as messy, fascinating and unpredictable like all of those other people.

Oh yeah, and those three words will help to soothe the heartache. Because when we judge we separate ourselves from others. Did you know that?

Ok. That was quite the mountain-top soapbox speech. I’m done now. I can breathe again now. I’m climbing back down to humans once again now.

Once I’ll get there I’ll have a green juice and I’ll make it official: I’m on judgment detox.

*featured image courtesy of BBC.

Inshallah-ing my way through life

I’ve been reprogrammed. I recognize it and.. I like it! At least this one specific program which has been rewired within me.

And the root of this wisdom lies in the Arabic term of “Inshallah”.
Literally translated it means “If God wills it”.
Translated to life it means that you can do everything right, you can be the best you can be and yet.. and still.. you have no guarantee that you’ll get what you want.
You may end up where you want to go or you may not. You may even end up in a very nasty situation despite your best intentions and efforts. Aha, you say: “C’est la Vie”..
aha, I say.. “Ça… ça c’est l’Esprit”

Please allow me to explain the rewiring process.

It began in Haiti with the Creole expression, one of the first I learned back in 2014 and it goes something like this: “Si dye vle”. It means, once again, “If God wills it”.

Naturally, as so much of what is beautiful and pure on this planet this wisdom has been abused. Myself, like most Westerners working in Haiti, found it incredibly frustrating to hear from a team member “Si Dye Vle” as an answer to a seemingly basic question: “Are we having the meeting tomorrow at 10:00” or “will you be here for the presentation next week”. A simple “yes” or “no” would suffice.. we would say to ourselves angrily. Referring to God’s will when your own will seems to be enough looked to me like a fancy excuse. No one ever said “I never made it to that meeting because God did not will it” and yet that’s how we were meant to interpret a no-show?.. Oh my…

Many developing countries function in survival mode and insecurities around everything from politics to the economy run high. The Western world however lends itself to the illusion of control over one’s own life and destiny (great organization and functioning systems can do that to you!). “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up” and variations on this theme are expounded to us daily, especially in America. While I’m all for self-actualization, I also recognize the deep Mystery and Spirit that pervades all and that has a schedule far different and far greater than our small self-centered understanding of our lives. I once heard a quote that goes something like this “Woe and misery come to the one who gets everything that he wished for”. Analyze it for just a second and you’ll see that there is so much truth to that. I have countless examples from my own life when I thought I knew what I wanted and something far different, and far better, came my way. Thank goodness! – said I. Thank goodness there is a wisdom and a Spirit far wiser than my own limited mind that cares for me always and carries me forward.
Side note: I now do my best to remember to wish upon others (and myself) all manner of goodness and blessings, but not necessarily what they think is best for them but what is truly in their Highest Benefit.

Which is why “Inshallah” is now a consciously added element to my own intention setting.

After 3.5 years in Senegal I’ve heard it used and abused quite as often, if not more, than the “Si dye vle” in Haiti. Then again, I have also seen it used wisely, by deliberate, intelligent people who have plans and a strategy to their lives. They move forward with purpose, they find the information and the contacts they need in order to succeed. And yet, through all of this, they remain humble. They state a project and a plan and follow it with a gentle… Inshallah. They take time to acknowledge that which is powerful and that pervades all – the ether, the Spirit, the Mystery within all that ultimately, plan or no plan, strategy or no strategy, will determine whether the tree bears fruit this year and whether your plans will come to harvest.

This rewiring of my own Western programming by spending significant time in more God-fearing lands such as Haiti and Senegal is a strength to me, a sobering element within me that reminds me as always that there is much beyond our control. It allows me to see beyond the systems designed for our comfort, and to continue to see just how much all of life hangs by a string. So fragile, so temporary, so fleeting. Most importantly it drives the message home that despite our best intentions things don’t always turn out as we thought (or do they ever?).

And you.. what is your version of “Inshallah“? How do you make sense of the unpredictability of life? How do you feel you are being guided forward by that which is truly best for you?

***

Image courtesy of Urban Howl.

The Pancha-what? First trip to an Indian Ashram.

How does one summarize 2 weeks  experience of a first-time in India, first-time in an Ashram and first-time doing a Panchakarma program?
With a first-rate smile, I hope.

First, let’s define the terms we’ll be referring to:

1. India, in this case the deep south-west, the province of Kerala. After flying into Trivanandrum (also known as Thiruvananthapuram – I dare you to say that 10 times fast) we take a one hour taxi ride to a village where there is a Sivananda Ashram sitting next to a gigantic river that looks like a lake and where apparently crocodiles abound and tigers can be heard roaring in the surrounding lush greenery. Inside the Ashram everything is peaceful, safe and very orderly. Schedules are set and almost everything is repeated twice daily – morning and evening satsang (which includes meditation, chanting, lectures and more chanting), morning and evening meals, and morning and afternoon yoga (asana) practice. In between our Ashram schedule our group follows the Panchakarma treatments. The Pancha-what? Pour yourself some warm drinking water and read on.

2. Panchakarma, is an Ayurvedic (a sister-science to yoga, Ayurveda is India’s branch of traditional medicine) detoxification program which goes in 3 steps. First, for 5-7 days, you go through a series of daily massages, scrubs and steam-bath treatments all meant to drive toxins into your GI tract for further elimination. Starting from Day 1 we all go on a twice daily calorie-limited, veggies and rice dominant, gentle meal plan. We drink herbal teas twice daily, and in between meals, if you’re like me, you feel empty, light and hungry. Which is fine because you meander your way over to yoga practice, attempt a headstand, do some meditation, have a scrub and then lie down for a nap. After the first week starts the elimination of toxins from the GI tract and this is achieved primarily through: one day of drinking castor oil + medicine (easily the most disgusting thing I have ever swallowed in my life) which cleans your gut out thoroughly, followed by several days intermittent small-oil enemas and larger-herbal enemas. Yup, that’s right, this involves having various fluids put up your bum and running quickly to the loo. The third part of the cleanse happens outside of the clinic (and in our case, the Ashram) as you follow up the treatment by keeping to a restricted veggie diet, and do your best to avoid coffee, wine, cheese, bread and all of the other culinary joys that life holds for at least 2 weeks to a month*.

3. The Ashram. Is a place of peace and spiritual retreat. They also run a tight ship with a strict schedule. See point no. 1 for the general schedule.

We were lucky in that several days after our arrival there was a separate dormitory space designated for us Panchakarma ladies, and since many of our fellow detoxifiers had private rooms, these dorms were pretty empty and peaceful and just for us. That put me at ease for the shitty part of our program because at least in this way I didn’t have to disturb my fellow yoga vacationers with my personal orchestra of sounds and smells.

I would recommend spending time at an Ashram for anyone looking for a place of retreat far from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Requirements: adaptability to a strict schedule, open-mindedness to questions of religion and faith (if you’re singing “Jaya Ganesha, Shree Ganesha, Siva Guru etc.” and feeling at odds with the God of your own religion, then this is not the place for you) and a general good, positive attitude. The Internet is limited, the lush-greenness ever present and the opportunities for meditation and reflection abundant. You’ll also need to get used to doing yoga in loose-fitting clothing since tights and what we in the West would normally classify as yoga clothes are not allowed.

I loved being there and soaking in the meditative vibes (except for the evening satsang and meditation which was misery for me as I would consistently fall asleep!) and some of the realities of the Ashram life were also quite amusing:

– while at morning meditation, in my attempts to practice Ahimsa (non-violence) I transformed myself into a living mosquito buffet as I was besieged by our buzzing brothers. They went for many of us seated there that morning, undiscriminating in their choice of breakfast. Initially, I hesitated to slap and squelch. While my survival instinct is strong I admit there was something that felt very sacrilegious about killing anything in an ashram temple surrounded by the smiling images of the divine (wave hello to Krishna!). So I grinned and bore it, that first time, and 40 mosquito bites later I abandoned all pretense at meditation. Every time after that I doused myself in deep forest mosquito repellent beforehand in order to save my exhausted mind from early morning philosophical dilemmas

– our Ayurveda doctors strictly forbade the consumption of sugar and caffeine, a restriction that was made troublesome by the offering of morning post-meditation masala chai tea (oh heavenly beverage!) and crunchy cookies and other goodies coming fresh from blessings at the alter, then offered to the participants. Many a time we would go up for our cookie and receive raised eyebrows in return since some of the staff knew that we were following a Panchakarma program. We would then have to convince them to hand the cookie over while reassuring them that we were fully aware that the cookie was not allowed. I savoured every little morsel of that forbidden sweetness! I’ve never felt less guilty about breaking the rules since I considered this treat my reward for waking up so darn early.

– while attempting a dynamic sun-salutation during asana practice and tripping over my loose-fitting pants between lunges. I’ve found a new appreciation for my lululemon leggings which, alas, were obliged to lay peacefully in my backpack for the duration of the trip.

In other news, here’s a snarky tidbit written during our flight back to Paris while enjoying airplane insomnia:

Ah, the wonders of yoga. I knew it would have practical, real-life applications. Ever mindful of my sleeping neighbours, squished as I am in my seat between dozing Indians somewhere between 4 and 5 am flying above Saudi Arabia, I tap a friend in the seat diagonally up and left of mine so that he evacuates his spot. I then am free to perform feats of flexibility as I crawl above seats and sleeping passengers to release myself from my human sandwich and go pee. And Stretch. I’ve been watching an excellent French comedy and while I’ve been chortling at the ludicrous situations the movie characters are playing out I’m reflecting on the past two weeks and seeing my own hilarity much more clearly. Panchakarma, the Ashram and all of our personalities combined have written quite the screenplay.

I hear a tinkle of glasses in the elite class in front of the plane and imagine the Champagne pouring. Good thing we’re not flying business after all since we are not allowed to drink a drop of alcohol for at least a month after our Panchakarma detoxifying program. The Panchakarma treatment is quite restrictive in what we can and can not eat and do. Mostly they recommend lots of rest and napping. Once you digest the instructions you start to wonder at the irony of actually paying to travel to India in order to:

– eat bland ayurvedic food instead of delicious Indian cuisine (just kidding, it really wasn’t that bad, but just a bit repetitive)

– avoid the sunshine and sunbathing (not allowed in Panchakarma). Five extra points to us for travelling to India during rainy season.

– avoid swimming in cold water and taking cold showers (well, quite frankly, I wasn’t too sure of the local crocodile population in the river anyhow, so…)

– have medically induced diarrhea

(yes, you read correctly, I traveled thousands of miles to a tropical country to pay a doctor in order to get the runs, on purpose). 

The lip-curling, ironic parts of this trip are dripping like honey on my coconut chapati. I actually burst out laughing a few times startling my fellow airplane passengers out of their sleep. Oops.

As I watch the minutes count down to our descent into Paris I wonder just how well our group will do with keeping to the doctor’s orders of no-meat, no-alcohol, no-caffeine and no-bread. I remember nodding keenly during our final consultation and swearing fidelity to the program for the 14-days following our stay in India, as prescribed. But with every minute we speed towards the land of savoury wines, fresh baguettes and over 1000 varieties of cheese. How on Earth will we see our Panchakarma through to the end? Since Pancha means five, in sanscrit, and karma means action, once we land I’m counting to five and taking action at the first boulangerie that I see*!

* It’s 6 days post-Ashram and I’m happy to report that our entire group has failed spectacularly in this last step. Sorry Doctor Vishnu, but the realities and temptations of France were too much to handle! Nevertheless, for me personally, keeping a mostly caffeine and meat free diet and continuing with daily yoga and meditation still keeps my mind and body feeling very good.

Knock knock

When you work for an African NGO in a small town where all of your colleagues are your only social circle and thankfully there are a few who you actually want to be friends with.

I hear a tentative knock-knock on my bedroom door around 10pm. Sure we have been roommates now for close to a month but we keep to our privacy. To our semblance of a normal life. We try to keep our crazy laughter and endless discussions to the kitchen and the living room. This bedroom knock knock is a first.

I invite her in throwing a casual “I don’t bite” in French to encourage her tentative entry. She holds out a neatly pair of folded thongs. My own thongs. She tells me “I found these in my laundry”.

Peels of laughter ensue. N. continues. “Actually, I found them one time, but then I put them away and when the cleaning lady returned she put them in my laundry again. So I took this as a sign that she thinks they belong in this house. So I figured they must be yours.”

Me, in my head, thinking to myself that the only other roommates we have had here have been men, the CTO and a Development Manager, folks who come and stay for a week or so at a time. They certainly don’t wear pale blue with white speckles thongs. At least I hope they don’t.

P.S. I’m also secretly relieved that it’s my pretty panties she’s found not the faded, grey grannie bloomers that I also like to wear on an I’m-feeling-icky day. Phew.

Two silent minutes ensue.

Knock-knock I hear again on my door. I ask N. what the trouble is this time.

“I’m wondering if perhaps you have any of my panties?”

Considering she’s a specialist in data quality and audit it makes perfect sense that she found one anomaly in our laundry stacks and then prudently checked to see if the reverse might be true also. But I had to find my breath again after our laugh attack before arriving at that intelligent conclusion.

I make sure that my colleague does in fact have clean underwear for tomorrow (sometimes I find that I push my HR duties just a little too far), and I let her know that I haven’t yet found clothes or underclothes in my laundry that don’t belong to me.

I’m not fussed, as long as no one gets their knickers in a knot.

Sweat and Smile more: it’s October in Senegal

It’s that month of the year in Senegal when we all secretly wish we could exit the country – it’s October. It’s our month when we endure the heat and humidity of the rainy season but without the welcome breaks that come with the coolness of the rains. In short, it’s hot and humid all the time, no exceptions. Average daily bathing frequency increases to 2-3 times although considering that your skin is constantly sticky it’s hard to tell the difference between wet-just-came-out-of-the-shower and wet-I-just-woke-up-in-the-morning. I’ve always admired the people who look cool and collected during this time, as I myself feel like a soggy sponge. I can only assume these cool people live in a universe of air-conditioners while the rest of us have to make-do as best we can. You can fight it or you can embrace it. Here is a handy 6-step guide on how to meet the heat head-on: just sweat more.

1. Are you of Eastern European origins (aka. Polish, Russian) and/or you love drinking hot tea every day regardless of the season? Well, you’re in luck. Someone, somewhere once said that drinking hot beverages in hot weather actually cools you down (ummm.. ok..) but while that theory remains questionable rest assured you will sweat more with a mug of hot tea between your hands and in your belly. You’ll pay for your tea addiction however with a follow-up shower.

2. Turns out in fact just eating and drinking alone is enough to make you sweat more. Are you hungry? Option one is to bring a towel to mop up your face as you tuck into your breakfast. Isn’t it fascinating how you can literally feel the droplets of sweat appear on your skin as your metabolism churns and burns and extracts all of the lovely caloric energy from what you ingest? Yay for you. Just don’t lean in too far over the breakfast table and drip sweat from your chin into your coffee mug. Option two: fast. You can always tell people you’re making up a few of your fasting days that you missed during Ramadan.

3. Are you without A/C at night and eager to feel a fan’s gentle breeze on your naked body as you lie down in a subtle pool of your own sweat? Unless you’ve found that wonderful, silent fan (which every time I call the sellers in Dakar they tell me is sold out…) equip yourself with ear plugs if you’re not used to the fan noise. But, rest assured, you can always turn it off and splash along happily and silently in your sweat as you attempt to get some shut-eye. Waking up with a cold, tired, clammy feeling on the back of your neck and in your hair is a unique, character-building experience that should be lived by everyone at least once.

4. Do you love working out? Me too. and it just so happens that the best time to work out right now is at noon or 1pm when the sun and heat reach their zenith. Bring a towel (or 3) with you to the gym as you mop up your face, arms, and any exposed skin regularly every 30 seconds. You may even want to bring a second set of workout clothes as your first set will quickly be wet to the last stitch. Going pee between cardio and weight-lifting never took so long as you unroll your tight work-out pants down your thighs, do your thing, and then roll the soggy material back up  your body. It’s so sexy. Also, make sure you consume several liters of water while you workout to make sure you’re not drying up on the inside.

5. Get used to giving and receiving sweaty hugs with your friends. If sweaty hugs make you embarrassed you might even sweat a little more. Yay!

6. Do you love yoga? So do I! The great thing about October in Senegal is that Bikram yoga is free and it’s everywhere (and some might say it’s somewhat unavoidable). Enjoy your scorching rooftop yoga practice as you slip and slide around on your mat. Hold that side plank for 3 breaths now. Don’t mind your downward facing dog if your hands and feet slip beyond the edges of your sloppy mat. Never practiced Bikram before? Me either. But they tell me it’s done in 35-38 degrees Celcius conditions which sounds really cool and refreshing right now.

Cheer up folks. Sweat is 99% water (and 1% other stuff?) so as long as you stay hydrated and humble you’ll move through this phase of living in a wet and humid world gracefully. It’s a special time, so let’s enjoy it. Cold showers never felt so good. Face towels will save your face (literally and socially speaking) and shaving your head if you’re a woman sounds really appealing right now. Just keep your patience and your hair on, and this too shall pass.

Oh those darned things Grandmothers say

We while away the time by cooking and eating. My grandma cooks, and I eat. Before and after our copious meals we talk. It turns out that my grandma’s preserves and roast turkey hock also come with a rich accompaniment of home-cooked Polish expressions. Like idioms, just no one else has ever heard of them. I ask if we two are expecting company for lunch because the quantity of food prepared could easily feed a hungry family of six. “Narobiłam tego wszystkiego jak głupi piwa” (I cooked as much food as an idiot brewing insane amounts of beer) which, when I think about it, is a very colourful turn of phrase for any unnecessary excess.

***

Life discussions commence and we arrive at the conclusion that there is always more than one solution to any problem. To quote grannie: “świat nie torba – z każdego wyjścia są dwa wyjścia” (the world is not a handbag – for every way out there are atleast two exits”)

***

In regards to several noted Polish politicians: “Ciemny jak tabaka w rogu” (he’s as dark as the snuff in the corner). Read: very stupid.

***

Me: Grandma, do you feel that your mom and dad really loved each other?

Grandma: Energetically: “Well yes, of course they loved each other.”

Her voice begins trailing…

Me: “Why the hesitation?”

Grandma: “My father really loved my mother. My mother loved him too, but she also had a lot of other ideas in her head.”

***

Grandma continues on the topic of love.

Grandma: “I don’t understand those głupie baby (stupid women) who fawn all over men and fall apart when things go wrong, yet again, and their poor hearts are broken.” She sighs heavily. “What the hell is their problem? An intelligent women checks to see if the man is in love with her first before falling in love herself.”

Me: Half laughing, half amazed. “Let me write that down”.

***

Grandma: “Really, life is made up of a lot of small, quirky details. “Drobne rzeczy uwierają jak ciasny but.” (The small things can wear you down step by step like an ill-fitting shoe).

***

Grandma tells about her first husband’s (my grandpa’s) field work in the forests of Poland circa 1950s and 1960s aka. back in communist times. He studied biology and forestry. He wasn’t a very organized fellow. He was also an artysta and liked to paint and write poetry in his free time.

Grandma: “He came home from the field work with his mapa sztabowa (a kind of military map) of some of the forests of Poland. He and his team had spent many months working out the exact details of the terrain. Every last tree and mushroom were outlined on this map. Marian lost the map. He lost the map at the train station. I nearly lost my mind from worry. The general public is not meant to see these maps; they were considered top secret military information. We could have gone to jail for leaving a document like that lying about.”

Me: “So what did you do?”

Grandma: “I dropped everything and immediately went to the train station to look for it. I hunted high and low at every bench and nook and cranny and I found no trace of the map. Marian went back to the office that winter to rework the map with his team from scratch. Luckily no one ever got upset with us for that first one which got lost.”

She was holding her breath and slowly lets it go.

***

Grandma continues to dish out her marital advice and I eagerly take notes. I’m not married, but I might be one day, so I’m eager to learn.

Grandma: “One of my cleaning ladies, well she told me about her sister, who got into some fuss with her husband. The man started drinking more and more and even became violent and started hitting her. She tried to put up with it and then to find a solution but to no avail. She left the man. The trouble is that now her grandmother is angry at her and tells her that she should go back to her husband! She goes on and on about how marriage is for life and that she should stick to her husband for better and for worse and so on.”

I’m in shock, and irritated with that other grandmother for being so painfully old-fashioned.

Grandma: “Last time she was here (the cleaning lady), she was very upset about her sister and this situation with their grandmother so she told me about it. I recommended that her sister come and see me and we can have a chat and she can talk to a grandma who is more modern and certainly won’t try to talk her into going back into a bad relationship.”

Me: “That’s it?”

Grandma: “Well, no. In all honesty, I’d like to tell her: “Pani Helenko: niech Pani weźmie coś ciężkiego i mu przyłoży, to z niego gówno i buty zostaną.” (Dear Ms. Helen, please take a heavy object and apply it to your idiot of a husband and all that will be left of him is his shit and shoes).

***

We are pulling her small Fiat out of grannie’s garage and someone has awkwardly parked their large van in front of the gate blocking our way.

Grandma: “Krowa na pastwisku lepiej się zaparkuje niż niejeden chłop” (A cow in a field knows how to park herself better than many a man).

Me: “But Grandma, we can’t even see the driver. You don’t know if it’s a man or not.”

Sure enough, we pull up to the gate and we see a man behind the wheel.

Grandma: “Oh my dear”, she says to me in a knowing way “No woman would be stupid enough to park like that.”

***

After lunch, grandma and I like to turn on the T.V. and watch silly programs (by silly programs I mean cop shows, sit-coms or Polish politics, but between you and me there isn’t much difference between any of them). One of the sitcoms is called “School” and portrays teenagers in a typical, Polish high-school. It’s complete with elaborate romantic dramas of the many youths and their unstable emotions. Today the students are sharing about their sexual experiences and one of the girls is desperate to find a guy, any guy, who she can sleep with just so that she can lose her virginity. She feels left behind since everyone else is “doing it”.

Grandma: “What the hell is wrong with the young fry today. They have sex like I used to go sledding. Some school friend would come by the house in the winter and it didn’t matter whether I liked him or not, if he invited me to go sledding, I would go.”

***

Me: “Grandma, yesterday I received a text message from you, but it only contained the letter “B”. Just that single letter, nothing more.

I’ve been texting my grandma every day while I’m in town and when I see her she lets me know that she has received my messages. She never texts me back though.

I was therefore very surprised to receive a message, and a peculiar one at that.

Grandma: “Yes that was me, I sent you a text message.”

Me: “Does the “B” stand for Babcia*?”

Grandma: “Yes, my finger slipped.”

She had hit send before she could write the rest of her message 🙂

*Babcia, meaning grandmother in Polish.