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Welcome to FoodMood blog space. Reflections on my travels, musings, favorite recipes, and the  Bunny Chronicles. Storytelling with joy, sass, self-reflection, and hope.

My Soul has a Hat - Welcoming the Chinese New Year, 2019 Year of the Pig

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

A collage of photos roasting Keith for 2019, year of the pig; top left Keith and I having a party; next Keith and Claudio meet over the Cubans Claudio has thoughtfully brought him as a meeting present (guaranteed friends for life); next them smoking said cigars for the new year of 2008; lower left corner Keith at our wedding practicing lips with Di and I; next Keith as best man at our wedding awaits me with Claudio while my dad walks me down the hall; Keith looks on my giant, loveable big brother as Claudio and I say our vows; last right the entire Levine family wishes us well at our nuptials.

In December 2018 I dedicated my Irish coffee post to Diana Levine. The poem which inspired this post was sent to me by her husband, my dear soul friend, Keith Levine.

In 1996, two years after I met Di and Keith, I was faced with a life changing choice. Feeling undecided I sought advice from Keith, a man I respect and trust. Should I embark on this journey into the unknown which would take me to the other end of the globe; to a country, a language, and a culture I believe myself to be totally ignorant of? Or should I stay and continue what I knew?

I was living in Shreveport, Louisiana at the time, the Red River runs through this city, and Keith and I drove to a spot overlooking the river on a low cliff. It may be important to note at this moment that Keith was, and to some degree still is, a seriously adventurous sky diver. Jumping out of planes was something he did for fun. “What should I do?”, I asked him, "Stay or jump?"

The sun was setting in the sky gifting us with a brilliant display of color over the Red River flowing briskly at the bottom of the cliff. “Jump,” he said, “You will discover you have wings.” That moment began an extraordinary element of my life’s journey to Vladivostok, Russia. So many decisions since then, all of them fundamentally the same, jump or stay with what I know? Reflected in my post from 9 January, the decision to stay can be as challenging and rewarding as the choice to jump. Having the courage to make the decision is truly living, or living truly, depending upon your point of view. As we prepare to celebrate the Chinese New Year, 2019 the year of the pig, I wish us each the courage to choose. Whether we jump or we stay with what we know may our choices always reflect the truth, clarity, and love which radiates from this amazing poem by Mário de Andrade Brazilian poet and founder of Brazilian modernism.

With this post I thank Keith, a friend so dear to my heart and soul that Claudio accepted him sight unseen as his best man for our wedding, a friend who continues to inspire me to live my truth.


I counted my years & realized that I have Less time to live by, Than I have lived so far. I feel like a child who won a pack of candies: at first he ate them with pleasure But when he realized that there was little left, he began to taste them intensely. I have no time for endless meetings where the statutes, rules, procedures & internal regulations are discussed, knowing that nothing will be done. I no longer have the patience To stand absurd people who, despite their chronological age, have not grown up. My time is too short: I want the essence, my spirit is in a hurry. I do not have much candy In the package anymore. I want to live next to humans, very realistic people who know How to laugh at their mistakes, Who are not inflated by their own triumphs & who take responsibility for their actions. In this way, human dignity is defended and we live in truth and honesty. It is the essentials that make life useful. I want to surround myself with people who know how to touch the hearts of those whom hard strokes of life have learned to grow with sweet touches of the soul. Yes, I'm in a hurry. I'm in a hurry to live with the intensity that only maturity can give. I do not intend to waste any of the remaining desserts. I am sure they will be exquisite, much more than those eaten so far. My goal is to reach the end satisfied and at peace with my loved ones and my conscience. We have two lives & the second begins when you realize you only have one.

Mário de Andrade

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