I was 8 when my mother was 50, and sometimes, standing among the young moms in the schoolyard, she said she felt like our grandmother. For Cal, as everyone called her, had married late.
Because there was a Depression, she said, and no one had money. Because there was a war, she said, and all the men were gone. We had heard both reasons as she described her young life as one of five children of a widower.
They may not have had much money, but they sure had fun, to hear the tales: of evening dress at the Ritz and raccoon coats at the Harvard games. And yes, there were men on these occasions: young singles and the brothers of friends. “But to be honest,” she said of them all, “there was no yeast in the bread” – by which she meant they didn’t attract her.
I have been mad at Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright since they insulted women voters (and subsequently “walked back” their remarks) this Spring.
But I am also a recovering alcoholic in my first year of recovery, with a blog, so I have to be careful not to be the “grump with a brainstorm” and do or say anything that is just going to make me feel less at ease with an already strung out world and ragged emotions
Part of the recovery process is learning to deal with our emotions without hurting ourselves or others. Without contributing to the trashy landfill of uselessly spent hurt that contaminates our world. So I am learning about breathing and mindfulness and affirmations. My Mom introduced me to the affirmations part of healthy thinking many years ago. Fearful of what might become of 4 beautiful young girls setting off on a month-long journey through Europe in 1988, my Mom wrote an affirmation and stuck it in my backpack and asked me to read it to my traveling companions each morning before starting our day. I was absolutely amazed when one of the friends I went on that trip with told me more than 20 years later, that she still uses the affirmation and it works! It goes something like this:
God is always with me. Therefore I am always safe and at the right place at the right time.
I know it said more but that is the essence of the affirmation and demonstrates the simplicity of the act of centering one’s thoughts, focusing momentarily on one’s breathing, tapping into the abundance within, and bringing that goodness forth into one’s day. It is such a healthy practice. If you are a recovering alcoholic, finding solace and the strength to navigate a world of conflict without numbing is essential. I think it is impossible without a personal meditation practice.
After all, if a person’s entire sense of personal safety/security is centered on a person or thing outside of him/herself, that leaves the person very vulnerable to the unpredictable influences in the world. Fear is extremely dangerous. We must constantly find ways to mentally transform fear into love and connect with some sort of constant assuredness to live in this crazy world. Not sure what I’m getting at? It is simple. If we learn to practice controlling our thoughts for even 10 minutes a day, preferably at the beginning of the day, it becomes a protective shield against negative outside influences and we feel better, make better choices, and affect the world more positively.
To my daughter, who is about to begin her Senior year, and all the other people I love, cherish and see struggling in the world, I wish 4 simple internal messages to be written on their heart:
I have abundance within that never fails to protect and lead me closer each day to fulfilling God’s purpose for my life;
I have unlimited gifts that are meant to be shared lovingly with others;
Time is on my side – there is no expiration date or end to the amount of love and goodness I can experience and share in my lifetime.
4. Spirit is Infinitely Intelligent and will support me through any and all hesitant beginnings, sticky middles and rocky endings in my life – all I have to do is Ask and listen.
Life is difficult but joyful. Finding one’s purpose is the most gratifying experience of the human condition, and learning to access our Infinite Love within is the most simple yet powerful tool to combat fear and overcome paralysis. Affirmations lead to love. Love leads to action. Action leads to wholeness. Wholeness is our essence. Our essence is goodness. Start today!
These days, I find myself dripping in happiness. After months of working hard to train my mind to stop being afraid of living, there is now an abundance of joy in my life – more than enough to share without fear of running out. I think I found happiness because I intentionally set out not to find happiness but purpose. We ALL want to be happy, sure. For many, the definition can include many things/pursuits/achievements that bring happiness to one’s life, which, as we all know, can be fleeting.
I tend to oversimplify but that’s the way I get to the core of challenges so here is what I am trying to say: I found happiness accidentally by searching for purposeon purpose. And the sweetest discovery is this: happiness is the sum of the good thoughts, deeds and people you surround yourself with. It is HORIZONTAL, not vertical, as our culture portrays. Further, one is more likely to experience joy and happiness in moments of absolute stillness….absent struggle, thinking, working, climbing, scheming, toiling, or anything of the like. Brilliant!
What has amazed me in this magnificent experience is that my purpose is revealed to me when I am re-energizing my soul, daydreaming, napping, walking, baking, or doing any number of things that are not centrally focused on intensely pursuing happiness. It found ME, not the other way around!
Here are 9 general beliefs/practices I have adopted that I believe are positively contributing to my experiencing a life of maximum purpose, satisfaction and happiness:
Ask God for an open heart To me, God/Inner Light/Higher Power is Central to anything growth-related. Several years ago, my husband and I were struggling in every possible way – trying to dig ourselves out of a hole we thought would lead us to happiness. I started intuitively praying many times a day, just asking God to give me an open heart so I would be willing and able to accept our fate. It worked and it stuck.
Stop resisting what “is” The meditation/mindfulness gurus all say that being “present in the now” is the key to living a more satisfying life and they are right. But it takes lots of practice to train our non-stop thinking selves to just be calm and receive our surroundings without reacting or doing anything. At the root of all heartache is the desire to change/resist/fight something outside of our control. I think because, as human beings, (especially in the Western world), we have become so conditioned to “control” our external surroundings using our magnificent scientific abilities. Don’t do this anymore! You’ll be so much happier, I promise.
Work to face fears/make things personal I love love love this the most and have been practicing this the most lately. Probably 25 years ago, I heard a very wise theologian speak about racism. His reasoning to counter the mind and heart’s tendency to divide “us” and “them” was simple: look into the eyes of the “other” and think of their Mother, who loves them so. Everyone has a Momma! It helps me to catch myself judging others when I personalize someone or something I might be inclined to disregard. Make friends with people who are different than you, encourage your children to do the same. It only brings joy, I assure you. After working hard to seek situations where you can personalize the “other”, the Universe just starts making it part of who you are. I started by volunteering at a food pantry. I was terrified by the “others” at first. Now they are my friends.
Lolligag, daydream, rest If you have been reading any of the current buzz about personal and professional success these days, everyone is talking about a Sleep Revolution. It seems we are finally learning that trying to squeeze more productivity out of an already empty person is futile. We all need to re-charge. We all need to learn and understand our personal energy limitations and “indulge” in that which renews us. I am a daydreaming, napping, slow walking fool and much happier for it!
Connect with an animal My husband amusedly looks at me fussing over our adopted cocker spaniel and tells me, “I don’t know THIS woman!”. I have gotten more joy from the simple experience of loving an animal in the past few years it is amazing. Eckhardt Tolle wrote an entire book about the spiritual connection between human and animal in “Guardians of Being.” The primary benefit of loving an animal, not surprisingly, is that the very act of petting and tending to one’s dog, for instance, causes one to simply be present.
Embrace vulnerability Authors, bloggers and life coaches like Martha Beck, Glennon Doyle and Brene Brown are all talking about accepting our vulnerability and supporting one another’s courage in expressing that vulnerability. It does lead to joy because it takes such courage to be open and honest. And it lifts the weight of perfection from our shoulders – multi-tasking and perfection are mere facades of a happy life. Why not embrace our imperfection, learn to laugh about it and accept it, and be joyous and happy?
Replace “dread” with curiosity I dread most things, especially social occasions. Let me tell you, what a miserable existence that is. Learning to control my anxieties with deep breathing, accepting the now and enjoying being present are helping me to dread things less. I may not necessarily look forward to a “command performance,” but at least I am practicing methods that help me get through social obligations without upsetting everyone around me.
Learn from criticism Boy, could I resent a person who told me the truth in the past! I am practicing the art of really listening to people. If the messenger offers sincere, loving advice intended to show you how you appear in the world, listen. The lesson is far more important than your ego.
Befriend your alter ego And speaking of egos, I hereby confess that I have happily enjoyed “alter egos” – my inner hero I want to express outwardly – for decades. It started in my twenties when I moved away from home for the first time. I wanted to be “JD” instead of “Joan,” because “JD” was a spunky, brave and light-hearted go-getter ready to take on the world. In my forties, I was “Piper,” the super fun-loving Momma who could still enjoy a night of dancing. Now, I am mellowing into “Pippa,” my 50’s alter-ego. “Pippa” is a mature-ish woman who knows who she is, loves to love and comfort, and looks forward to the future instead of mourning the past. In my 60’s, I will be “Poppy,” that still-cheeky woman with a secret or two and a sense of humor, but wise and gentle, as well.
So, my friends, I share the greatest discovery of my recent months with you today: Happiness is Horizontal
You are much more likely to experience it in a state of relaxed acceptance of the present moment! Enjoy and Namaste.
Today, I am home with my teenagers who have been throwing up. This causes me to fondly reflect upon previous such “special family times,” one which especially stands out in my memory from Spring 2007, the day my kids had to stay home and take care of their parents because they were both throwing up! My Isa, 7 years old at the time, divided her time that day between devotedly bringing her Dad and me our favorite popsicles then dancing outside in front of the house. This beautiful memory has led me to reflect upon the entire history of our family and my approach to parenting. I love being a Mom. In fact, it is all I have ever wanted to be. I used to ride my bicycle up and down my driveway as a little girl playing “carpool.” What I wouldn’t give to have a recording of those imaginary conversations!
Since my daughter is just a year away from graduating from High School, her Senior year of “lasts” looms largely in my mind. Anticipating each last. Hoping I will savor and enjoy them to their maximum. One of the images that I have discovered in my meditation practice this past year (as a recovering alcoholic with 10 months of sobriety) is a moving stream: if I feel emotionally depleted, I imagine myself dipping a beautiful vessel into a cool, clear stream and nourishing myself with Nature’s goodness. This type of imagery not only helps me sustain myself without relying on numbing substances, it is also a great way for me to re-frame the present moment. Instead of dreading new beginnings or fearing endings, I think of life and love as a continuous stream, a continuum that has no beginning or end. There for me to enjoy, participate in and freely use to sustain those around me (especially my teenagers). I am going to try to continue thinking about my daughter’s Senior year as a beautiful transition that is part of the stream.
Yet, my thoughts did manage to navigate toward a gnawing, very human question: if I had it to do over, would I change anything about the way I parented my young children? I have only five “regrets,” (a word I try to use sparingly, since it is dangerously close to resentment, which a recovering alcoholic cannot afford). Surprisingly, nothing on my “List of Five” has anything to do with taking away bad things – rather, it is more about wishing I had done MORE of the good things:
I wish I had not been so anxious to put my children into all-day kindergarten. After working with 6-year-olds these past four months, I know for sure how tired they are after a full day of school. I was a stay-at-home Mom and could have easily managed having a busy 6-year-old at home with me all day. But I decided to convince myself it would be “good for their social skills” to put the kids in all-day kindergarten. Ten years later, with so many working families, there are probably few choices other than full-day kindergarten. I wish I had savored my 6-year-olds a bit more. But what’s done is done.
I wish I had insisted on learning a musical instrument. We did our best as parents to expose our kids to live music of all sorts whenever possible. Our kids love music. But mastering a musical instrument is one of those life skills that is best undertaken in childhood, like learning another language. It was hard enough for me to get my kids to sports practices and school, so learning a musical instrument did not make it into our “MUST accomplish” top tier of parenting goals. I do regret this.
Spirituality practice – we went to church here and there and my children were “dedicated” into a church family before we moved 200 miles away – but I wish I had done more to teach them that celebrating and worshiping God with others is a beautiful part of a healthy inner life. My kids know that within them dwells a Source of love and goodness, and I believe they know how to tap into that and also live a life devoted to making the world better, not worse. It was so important to me not to force an “ideology” upon them, I may neglected to help guide and nourish the part of spirituality that includes others. My children are natural Seekers and very resourceful individuals, so I feel good about their ability to move in that direction later in life, if they choose.
More family meals. We average 1 sit-down family meal together per week. Better than nothing! I would get the job done more often now if my teenagers would participate – as I hear, many do! (I know it is part of many families’ teenagers regular responsibilities to help prepare and serve meals, which is so nice – I haven’t tried that). Like many moms in recovery, asking for help (or any kind of delegating), is not a natural part of my personality. I am thankful to still have time with both children at home to approach family meals more like something the entire family should help create.
MOST importantly, in the earlier days, I wish I had cared less about other Moms’ opinions! I remember hearing the phrase, “She’s got your number!” way too often and feeling hurt or irritated (or rejected by the “elite moms” who were doing it all perfectly). To this, I can only go back to a very lovely memory I have when, as a new Mom, I was holding my baby girl on one of her first airplane rides and the older woman sitting next to me very gently and kindly remarked, “Ah! What a beautiful, content baby! She has EVERYTHING she needs, Mom!”. We need to do more to encourage and support one another as parents. For me, that starts with being open and honest with one another. Being willing to admit that we aren’t perfect parents and we aren’t raising perfect children. As a Mom of teenagers, I do get more of this from my social interactions with other parents – much more so than in the early, competitive “toddler war” days.
So far, this journey of parenting two individuals with different temperaments, needs, likes, dislikes and aptitudes has been so beautiful. Looking back, I would like to have been able to relax more and enjoy the small moments. Looking forward, I am grateful to be living a healthy, clean and sober life, so the future with these incredible people God shared with me will be as vibrant as I feel.
So happy to share this on the blog today! Truth: it has been far easier for me to find support for alcoholism than treatment-resistant major depressive disorder and anxiety. There is still so much fear, ignorance, judgment and stigma around depression. I am thankful to those courageous enough to break the silence and go deeper than just “I’m fine.”
My husband snapped this photo last night and emailed me with the title, “Evening Huddle.” It is a helluva happy huddle! A year ago, I was way off course and quickly sinking to the bottom of my addiction to alcohol. My cousin sent me a great article recently that describes addiction as “the opposite of connection.” Bingo! Total disconnect – by selfish choice – then by habit – finally without any sort of logic or consent at all. Just dead.
God and my family have brought me back to life. In just 8 months, I have been fortunate to have regained my sobriety and focus. And look at my reward! A puppy, handsome teenaged son (and daughter, who just celebrated her 17th birthday and is overjoyed with her new ukulele), purring cat, large cup o’ Joe, Netflix and hubby all in one room filled with happiness, a roaring fire and quilts made with love by my Mom.
I don’t know why I steered so far off course in the first place. It is so scary. I am one of the lucky ones to have been brought back to a conscious, intentional life. Yes, I feel pain instead of numbness at times. AND JOY!!!! Today, I am just grateful for my happy chaos – I am working with kindergarteners in an underprivileged community. I have a beautiful family, a Mom I can still call on the telephone as often as I want, an amazing AA Sponsor, a life partner of almost 20 years, and many supportive friends. Whether our family can afford to take a vacation this year or not: WE ARE RICH.
I read a lot about addiction and recovery now. If you are looking for inspiration, motivation, or just curious about people’s stories, I encourage you to check out 2 of my favorites:
You can be as public or private about your struggles as you like. I have deliberately talked about mine because it helps my healing and accountability. More poignantly, talking about it helps me live in the present and experience the joy to the fullest.
It was summertime 1973 and the house had a different rhythm – a teenaged rhythm. 3 teenaged sisters and a brother were home from boarding school and there was no rest for the curious. I woke up early to the sound of Malin and Laurie’s swim lesson in the backyard pool. Mom was making French Toast and the seductive aroma jolted me out of bed.
Down the hall, I heard James Taylor’s “Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon.” Jeff was awake and getting ready for another hot day in the fields with Mr. E.P. Dad was on the ranch in Texas. Running downstairs for breakfast in my favorite Speedo racerback swimsuit, I slid my fingers across the red velvet stripes on the wallpaper the whole way. “I will feast on a rolled up slice of French Toast with powdered sugar,” I planned, “then to the pool for a quick swim until I hear the motor of the the ice cream maker churning fresh peach ice cream.”
There was nothing better than drying my pruney, water-drenched self atop the air conditioning unit near the ice cream maker in the summer. My body pressed against the coils with hot air spewing – and leaving a checkerboard imprint on my legs.
Occasionally, the lure of wild honeysuckle draping across the backyard fence would lure me from my drying time atop the air conditioner and I would quickly hop off long enough to snap a blossom and gently pull the stem just enough to make the natural honey ooze. Then immediately back to my post beside the ice cream maker: nothing would deter me from my mission of pulling the paddle with freshly churned peach ice cream out of the magical drum surrounded by ice and salt.
“How DO you do this,” I asked Mom each time. She was certainly busy but managed to make each day perfect. I think summer was her favorite time, too.
That summer, I rode my bike after supper with Laurie, my 15-year-old-sister. She was my favorite playmate – she did my hair and makeup, taught me exercise moves, played The Beatles’ red album for me while I fell asleep at night, made homemade pretzels with me and told me where babies came from that summer!
Summer was a time of electric energy, days filled with warmth and nonstop activity until I collapsed, water-logged and brain spinning with images mysterious teenage music (there was an earlier summer my brother had a cool garage band), posters, phrases, friends, clothes, hair and skincare products and LOVE. At night, I would maneuver a way to climb in the back of the station wagon to “Circle Town,” listening to “Honky Tonk Women” on the local radio and sipping on a Cherry Coke from Big John’s.
When August came and my teenaged playmates packed up to return to school, I was so sad and “Alone Again, Naturally.” Then the letter writing began – daily trips to our hometown Post Office to check out Post Office Box 156 and look for teenaged news and treasures became my occupation. What a life I had as the youngest of 7 – each season’s memory dotted with loving memories of what “they” were up to and how much I had to look forward to.
This past Sunday, I logged into AA Grapevine and entered my Sobriety Date to check the number of days I have been sober. It’s just way of measuring success, I guess, like weighing oneself on a scale to stay motivated during a diet. I am an alcoholic, so my “diet” will never end. I have been sober for 7.7 Months. If I did not have the “Sobriety Calculator” or any other means of measuring the number of days I have been sober, I, the Stubborn Doubter, have lots of empirical evidence that each hour sober is 100 times better than any vino fino tinto. Here is my list of 5 Gifts of Living Sober:
Stop Wanting And Start Living For years, I have had a restless spirit, longing to be and have things that were within sight but mysteriously unattainable. Then, about 5 years before I got sober, I decided to approach life with more of an open heart. “Perhaps if I pray to God to have an open heart, He can lead me in the right direction,” was my thinking. I wasn’t ready to admit that I was avoiding doing things (e.g., the hard work of living sober) by preoccupying myself with having things. I never believed I would have what it took to make that leap. I do now! Each morning that I wake up sober, I thank God for leading me to pursue worthwhile things and also giving me the strength and courage to keep at it.
Stop Gambling With My Health And Start Cherishing The Body God Gave Me Of course, drinking is not a gamble to the non-alcoholic because they can stop. Since I couldn’t, yet continued daily drinking for several years, I was literally treating my body like a garbage dump. In my newly-negotiated relationship with Spirit (e.g., “Higher Power”), I truly believe harmful, self-destructive behavior that could potentially lead to death (like addiction to alcohol) is a beautiful opportunity to love oneself in disguise. Does a person who really understands the importance of being healthy, physically, emotionally, and mentally, gamble with those gifts by sinking further into addiction? I hear people in AA meetings say all the time, “I thank God for my alcoholism, it has given me the gift of (fill in the blank with anything valuable)”. Again, if you’re not an addict or alcoholic, this “gift” may not make sense.
Cherish The Company Of Other Alcoholics I know I avoided going to my first AA meeting because I was sure it would be full of “depressing people” that I would not be able to “relate to.” It’s the opposite! It is home. Alcoholics are the most compassionate, funny, friendly, dependable, humble and noble people I have ever met. The “Hi, Joanie!” greeting you hear (often joked about, even) in meetings is warm, sincere, safe and accepting. SAFETY is a major trigger word for alcoholics, the lack of which (whether it be emotional, financial or physical), because our disease plays with our minds and tells us that we must remain fearful and on guard at all times because no person or situation is safe. I had a Counselor in my twenties (who was unaware of my binge drinking but completely pegged one of my alcoholic behaviors) described my emotional state like this: “Joan, you seem to be in ‘fight or flight’ mode 24/7 – always prepared for the danger that lurks around the corner, feeling hunted.” Precisely. I was deeply unsettled but had no idea why. My Alcoholic pals understand and I am so glad for each and every one of them.
Accepting Endings And New Beginnings And The Process In Between Like “The Little Prince,” my favorite time of day has always been the sunset – and during my drinking days, especially so. Watching the sun drifting into the horizon meant I had survived the challenges of the day (e.g., sick kids, frustrating work problem, hangover, overdrawn checking account, whatever) and that it would soon be time to open my bottle of serenity. I avoided admitting I was an alcoholic for years because I knew it was a permanent commitment. However, nowadays, my very grateful sober self sees something quite different in the concept of “forever.” In her new book, “Bottled,” Dana Bowman describes the paradox:
“The toughest part was realizing that recovery would never be “over” – not if I was going to take it seriously. When you’re a part of my club, taking out a lease on recovery is not an option. When I really thought about the lack of alcohol forevermore, it felt like I’d been told to clean the Grand Canyon with a toothbrush, while blindfolded. But every once in awhile, tiny moments of peace and joy descended upon me and were so defined and real, they lifted me out of my canyon. I would focus on the higher horizon then, and just kept walking.
5. “Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room” (William Shakespeare, “King John.”)
I saved the best gift for last: Living a Sober Life means spending your time the way you want to, free from the chains of an addiction that leads to darkness. There is so much LIGHT in my life because of the new freedom I have discovered that it is okay to feel and express emotions and spend a day doing as I please instead of constantly weighing and measuring myself against impossible standards. Reading poetry has always been one of my favorite hobbies, but I gave it up to lead a more “serious” life of career and family. Now it is back in my life and I feel rejuvenated. Here is a new favorite poet and her artful examination of leading one’s own life:
Poetry By Mary Oliver The Journey
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice– though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do– determined to save the only life you could save.
Twenty years ago, my husband and I received a beautiful wooden salad bowl with a stand and tongs along with a salad cookbook, “James McNair’s Salads,” as a wedding gift. The stand is long gone but we still use the large bowl and I have memorized the recipe for Caesar Salad with homemade garlic croutons – and serve it on special occasions!
Here’s the recipe from the cookbook and a brief excerpt from the Author’s Introduction:
Since its inception in a Tijuana restaurant, this classic has never gone completely out of favor. Recent years have seen the resurgence of its popularity in America’s trendsetting restaurants.
I prefer to leave the lettuce leaves whole, to be picked up with the fingertips for nibbling. If you would rather use a fork, break the leaves before tossing them with the dressing.
The dressing may be made without the traditional coddled egg; a drizzle of heavy cream will add the richness normally provided by the egg. James McNair
Wash, dry, and chill the lettuce leaves. Prepare the Croutons
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
About 1/2 cup fruity olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
2 tablespoons minced or pressed garlic
4 cups day-old bread, preferably French style, cut into cubes or thin slices. Directions
In a large sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium-low heat
Add the garlic and bread and toss until the bread pieces are well coated.
Reduce the heat to low (or transfer to a preheated 350º F oven) and cook, stirring and turning frequently, until the bread is golden on all sides, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the bread to paper toweling to drain and cool slightly.
Use immediately, or cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 1 day.
4 medium-sized heads romaine lettuce, tough outer leaves discarded, separated into about 48 leaves
4 cups Croutons, made with plenty of garlic
CAESAR DRESSING INGREDIENTS
6 flat anchovy fillets, drained and minced
1 tablespoon minced or pressed garlic
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 cup fruity olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
About 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
About 1/4 teaspoon salt
About 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, preferably parmigiano-reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper for serving
Just before serving the salad, prepare the dressing.
Bring a small post of water to a rapid boil over high heat. Place the eggs, one at a time, on a spoon, lower them into the boiling water, and boil for 1 minute. Transfer the eggs to cold water to cool. Break the eggs, separating the yolks into a small bowl; discard the whites.
Add the anchovy fillets, garlic, mustard oil and about half of the lemon juice to the yolks and whisk to blend.
Whisk in the remaining lemon juice, or more to taste, and salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, combine the whole lettuce leaves, about half of the croutons, and half of the cheese.
Add the dressing to taste and toss well.
Arrange the salad on a serving platter or individual plates.
Sprinkle the remaining croutons and cheese and serve immediately.
Pass a pepper mill at the table.
Serves 10 to 12 as a salad course, or 6 to 8 as a light main course