Thursday, September 18, 2014


So - I came across this today.  I think it's important.  Come cry with me and then go out and remember her words - her life - when living yours.  Catching JOY in life's ordinary moments never felt so urgent sweet.  Rest In Peace Charley.  XXX


Charlotte has blogged on The Huffington Post UK since 2013 and sadly passed away on Tuesday 16 September from bowel cancer. She wrote one final post that she wished to share with all of her readers. We are honoured to offer it to you here.
I've always been a good planner. I like lists and tick sheets, to-do notes and objectives. I'm very good at starting things, but honestly, I am also easily bored and quickly lose interest once the original excitement passes.
I haven't had the luxury of being allowed to be bored of having cancer. It isn't something you can just give up if you don't fancy doing it that day. There isn't a switch you can chose to turn off one day from the next. At least not for me. From my first day as a cancer patient, I have attended every test, scan and appointment. I have tried every treatment offered, from the standard medical therapies, to eating oiled cottage cheese, having acupuncture and juicing kale. Cancer has become our life. Holidays, haircuts and helicopter lessons have all been timed around good or bad chemo weekends. Danny and Lu, unwittingly as innocent by-standers have had their childhoods protected but also dictated by my various regimes. This is all they have ever known and, I hope, have still managed to turn out to be pretty good, well-rounded, loved and treasured children.
The innocence that we have protected them from has now had to be revealed. Following my birthday, I started to feel 'unwell'. We 'popped' to hospital where the usual set of tests were carried out. Unfortunately, when combined with a recent scan, the results were nothing short of devastating. We were no longer looking at a month by month action plan with a couple of months buffer at the end. I was given days, perhaps a couple of weeks to live. I wasn't expected to leave the hospital, but somehow, have managed to pull it out of the bag at the last moment and return home, to spend what little time I have with my darling children and loving husband.
As I write this, I am sat on the sofa, relatively pain-free and busy doing my little projects, sorting out the funeral and selling my car. We wake up every morning, grateful I can have a cuddle and kiss my babies.
As you read this, I will no longer be here. Rich will be trying to put one foot in front of the other, to get by, a day at a time, knowing I will no longer awake next to him. He will see me in the luxury of a dream, but in the harsh morning sun, the bed will be empty. He will get two cups from the cupboard, but realise there is only one coffee to make. Lucy will need someone to reach for her hairband box, but there won't be anyone to plait her hair. Danny will have lost one of his Lego policeman, but no one will know exactly which one it is or where to look. You will look for the latest update on the blog. There won't be one, this is the final chapter.
And so I leave a gaping, unjust, cruel and pointless hole, not just in Halliford Road, but in all the homes, thoughts and memories of other loved ones, friends and families. For that I am sorry. I would love to still be with you, laughing, eating my weird and latest miracle food, chatting rubbish 'Charleyisms'. I have so much life I still want to live, but know I won't have that. I want to be there for my friends as they move with their lives, see my children grow up and become old and grumpy with Rich. All these things are to be denied of me.
But, they are not to be denied of you. So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.
Embrace your loved one and if they cannot embrace you back, find someone who will. Everyone deserves to love and be loved in return. Don't settle for less. Find a job you enjoy, but don't become a slave to it. You will not have 'I wish I'd worked more' on your headstone. Dance, laugh and eat with your friends. True, honest, strong friendships are an utter blessing and a choice we get to make, rather than have to share a loyalty with because there happens to be link through blood. Choose wisely then treasure them with all the love you can muster. Surround yourself with beautiful things. Life has a lot of grey and sadness - look for that rainbow and frame it. There is beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it.
So, that's it from me. Thank you so much for the love and kindness you've shown in your own little ways over the last 36 years. From the mean girls in the playing fields who pushed me into the stinging nettles aged six to the bereaved husbands who in the last week have told me what their wives did to help prepare their young children and everyone in between. They and you have all, in some small way helped me become the person I have been.
Please, now use that love for me and pass it to Rich, my children, family and close friends. And when you close your curtains tonight, look out for a star, it will be me, looking down, sipping a pina colada, enjoying a box of (very expensive) chocolates.
Good night, Good bye and God bless.
Charley xx

Sunday, August 24, 2014


So - WOW - it's been a really long time.  And I know I often disappear from your radar screen for long periods due to literally - no time.  But these past 5 months have been problematic with JOY fleeting and difficult to catch.  I literally started to "chase it" like my friend Aileen does.  There is a difference you know.  Catching it is living in the present and acknowledging the JOY all around you.  Chasing it - for me - anyway, is going on the hunt,

making it happen because it doesn't seem to easily be around to catch.

Without going into it, let me just say that my husband was finally diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that took months to nail down and those months were not easy.  Much pain and many crises to deal with.  

The most interesting thing to me about this whole ordeal is that after all was said and done, we chose to skip the big, bad drugs to get it under control and went the gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol free route. That, along with a small bit of steroids and a litany of supplements from the TWELFTH medical professional we saw, has really changed the pain and mobility level of his being.  Quite the "experiment".  Better than that?  He started feeling a bit better within days of putting it all together. We are blessed AND blown away! And he lost 25 pounds and I gained 10 of it.  Grrrrrrrr

But life goes on.  Our family lost Spring due to this rough patch.  But so did everyone else because the weather was just AWFUL.  We kissed summer hello 

and almost immediately kissed it goodbye - it seems. Here it is - 2 days before school begins.  As much as I love September - December the best?  I can't seem to let summer go yet so I plan to keep at my warm weather activities.  Running, hiking, SUPping, kayaking, sunning and dog walking!  It's a short list but a JOYful one!

Speaking of JOY - a few weeks ago, a blogger that I follow posted about coffee.   

 Now - I am a bit picky about my coffee.  

In fact - I will no longer drink it from our coffee maker.  I make two a fresh pot of french press coffee every morning.  I only make it with organic beans and it has to be piping hot.  Now - there are surely many snottier coffee drinkers than I, who only drink their luscious coffee hot and black.  But, I prefer heavy cream in mine and I sense after an experience I had with the barista at Blue Bottle in NYC the other day, I am a coffee loser - but anyway...

Getting back to my fellow blogger Mark, he posted this:

On the subject of food ( and drink), I came across this website yesterday called CoffeeDetective
. I can not express adequately enough the depression I am going through because I have learned that the coffee junkie who runs this site makes about $6000 a month, FOR TALKING ABOUT COFFEE !!!!

Really? I talk about coffee all the time.
It's 6:50 pm as I write this and I am sipping on a cup of Nantucket"s finest.
I've written of coffee and my love for that beautiful bean on this very blog many times.
I've photographed coffee.
On vacation I post photos of coffee.
I have a map of all the coffee houses in New York.
At home I grind my own coffee.

I can talk about coffee till my pulse is at it's upper limit.

So I commented this under that blog post:

Ok I am a coffee snob. What's your best coffee? I find something I like and then it doesn't taste as good so I move on. Sometimes I get a cup after dinner in a restaurant and am blown away by the coffee and then the bar raises and I have yet to reach it. Maybe I need to start "perching" my coffee like my mother did? I'm also trying to do only organic so I get limited yet again! LMK what you love!

Our email exchange after that original comment has changed my life. Who knew there was a more JOYful cup-a-joe??!!!  I am so excited!  Turns out, there's something called a ceramic thingy.  Someone please tell me where this has been all my life?  I got this email from Mark and it was all over:
Totally get the french press, my son in law makes it that way, very good….I use the pour over method. I have a one cup ceramic thingy that fits over my cup, put in the filter ( not a regular thin filter) put in the coffee and “slowly” pour the water over the coffee…’s like an event, and let it drip through a little at a time. I would put it up against a french press any day, LOL.
He then proceeded to email me step-by-step instructions (WITH pictures, I might add!) on how to use this "ceramic thingy".  I immediately ran to Amazon and ordered up and then poor Mark - and I quote, "Damn.....I feel pressure. Hope you like it."  

LOL - inDEED!  But no worries.  My feedback after I got my thingy overnighted took all his pressure away because...

Ceramic thingy WINS!!!!!!  That was one awesome cup of coffee!  Mark?  You really have changed my life!  LOL.  Anddddd, you helped me catch some JOY that had been eluding me for quite a long while!  For that alone - I thank you!

As I mentioned earlier - I was in the city on Thursday and had Blue Bottle on my bucket list.  I saw they made "drip" coffee.  Oh!  Is that what it's called?  Welllllll - I ordered my drip coffee and I chatted up the barista as I watched him use the ceramic thingy and guess what?  He guilted me into trying my drip coffee black.  I couldn't believe it!!  

Can you say


PS - Mark?  Get this blog post to your son-in-law tout de suite!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Brain Dump Sunday

I'm pretty sure this post will be a brain dump, random blog post.  So hold on!

I was surfing Facebook a bit ago and came across a post that brought me such JOY for so many reasons.  The simplest reason?  It was just pure JOY.  Check it out.  Like WHOA???  Yea - like pure JOY...

You know what gives me instant JOY?  An empty skating rink!!!!  Just saying'...

So I'm reading a book called Once We Were Brothers.  It's so good.  It's "I can't put it down" good.

I am not saying the subject matter is JOYful because it is SO not.  But I do enJOY a book that grabs me.  I have read so many books set in the time of the Holocaust and World War II and it is only recently that I have distinguished the actual perspective, i.e., from a Jew in a concentration camp, from a Polish refugee, from the early years of Hitler as he made his way across Europe, from the English perspective, from the German perspective.  I have read ALOT of perspectives through the years.  All horrifying and unfathomable.  But I never tire of the empathy I feel as I read my way through this history.  And no - the subject matter is not JOYful.  But this learning curve has been one of JOY.  Once We Were Brothers is yet another perspective - this time set in 2004 as a Jewish man confronts a mean, horrid Nazi living the good life in America after all the atrocities he was a part of.  A very personal perspective - one I have not read from this angle - for lack of a better word.

Speaking of books, I have read 13 books in 2014 and I am on #14.  #15 is on deck.  It is called The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

It was recommended to me by my friend Nancy.  Oooooh Nanc!  The pressure is ON, girl!  I'll let you know!!!

I am very happy to be reading again.  I went through a very dry spell where I was doing a lot of iPad and TV watching.  I became addicted to a few shows - as I mentioned in a previous post - Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, The Black List, Parenthood...I still stay current with Parenthood (only the best show on television) but I am way behind on the other shows.  I am sure I will catch up - but for now?  I'd rather read.  And that's a good thing!

So Easter is upon us as are the 50 plus people coming to celebrate that day and the weather has been so nice.  Higher than 70 today and I spent several hours working the yard.  It is so JOYful to get a head start on the gardens.  The weeds aren't up yet so clearing the gardens is a piece of cake!!!  Now to mulch the hell out of them and I am good to go!

Speaking of Easter - and all that candy - remember when I was the big shot writing a post about how I had calmed my jets and not been so strict with my diet and exercise?  Well - the proof is in the pudding bloodwork.  A1C test?  Not good.  I am back to being a pre-diabetic human.  Such a bummer.  Because it means I am back to thinking about the food I eat.  So tired of this.  But it is what it IS.  I must deal.  Soon...LOL!!!  OY!!!!!

Today I took my middle child foot apparel shopping.  Can you say Chucks?  OMG - I pray I made the right decision letting him have these.

Please say I made the right decision.  Please say this is not coming back to haunt me in a day or two...these hurt my feet.  My ankle hurts.  There's too many laces.  These don't go with shorts.  No - no JOY here.  But they are kinda cute...

Well - the three little pigs are on vacation from school this week.  You know what I plan to do?  Tire the living sh*t out of them by hiking everyday.  Haaaaaaa - they have no idea...ahhh such mean-spirited JOY...there's all kinds - ain't there?  YeeeeHAAAAA!

BTW - you have NO idea how many dimes have been texted to me since the last post.  NO IDEA!  It's a new state of consciousness!!!!  I'm so excited to be a part of this!  I am willing to bet that a wisp of JOY is caught each time someone finds a dime.  I know I smile every single time.  It's so very cool.

One last quickie!

There's a "Blood Moon" eclipse Tuesday morning.  I'm setting my alarm and waking all the 3 little pigs and pushing them out the door to see it.  Can't wait!!!  Here's what I am reading:

Photographers and astronomy fans in North America are gearing up for a rare meteorological event the night of April 14-15. According to Sky and Telescope magazine, on April 15th, the lunar eclipse will begin around 1:20am ET.
This 'Blood Moon' — the poetic name given to the deep-red color of the moon during the eclipse — is caused as the Earth passes in front of the sun and the sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere is refracted.
See Sky and Telescope magazine's time chart to get approximate viewing times.
Many photographers will take to the outdoors to capture this unique event. Here are a few tips for those looking to capture a good image of the moon:
  • Remember the moon is very, very far away. The large apparent size of a moon low on the horizon is partially an optical illusion. In order to capture a good photo of the moon you need a telephoto lens. A standard or wide angle lens (as you might find on a camera phone or compact camera) will make the moon look smaller than it does to the eye. The longer lens you can get, the better.
  • With a big lens and a subject at such a distance even a small amount of motion results in an out of focus photo. A strong tripod and a shutter release cable (or camera timer) is a must. If you don’t have a shutter release cable simply set your camera to the longest self-timer setting.
  • The moon is very bright, even during an eclipse. If you rely on the internal exposure settings in your camera you’ll likely get a picture that’s overexposed and has no detail. That’s because the exposure meter in the camera expects everything to be neutral gray and the moon is bright white. Either rely on the manual exposure settings in your camera or use the exposure compensation dial to override the exposure.
  • There is a rule of photography called the 'Sunny 16' which means you can shoot sunlit objects at F16 at 1/ISO. So if you’re shooting ISO 100 you can shoot 1/100th at F16. You can use this as a base exposure for shooting the moon (although during a lunar eclipse they’ll be less light available than if it were in 'full sun').
  • Even a little bit of ground light can ruin a shot of the moon. The best photos of the moon are captured in areas away from street lights, buildings and atmospheric haze. If you’re in the city try to find a spot in the middle of a big, open park. Many of the most successful lunar photographers plan trips to the desert or to remote locations for events like a full moon. The bottom line is that if you can see streetlights or house lights, you’re probably going to get a sub-par shot.
  • Bring a flashlight with a red bulb or gel. Red light doesn’t reduce your night vision, but a bright white flashlight does. Even though looking through the lens at the moon will blast your night vision away in one eye, you can still see pretty clearly out of the other eye unless you use a flashlight or the screen of your cell phone to look at the camera and change settings.
  • Shoot with manual focus. The moon is tricky to focus on and it’s best to rely on your eyes instead of the camera’s autofocus. 

See you at 1:20am on Tuesday April 15th!!!

Ok - time to end this dump of a blog post.  Just wanted to check in and now I'm checking out to go read.  I am not even proofing this fastidiously like I normally do.  I'm in a hurry.  I want to go lay in bed and read.  No - it's not dark yet.  Soon enough...


Saturday, April 5, 2014


Well THAT didn't take LONG!  Look what I woke up to at 5am.

Catching JOY in a joyless moment.

All I can say is...

Friday, April 4, 2014


So - I've been finding dimes.

My kids have been finding dimes.  My biggest non-believer conspiracy theorist husband has been finding dimes.  My hairdresser has been finding dimes.  My Uncle Al has been finding dimes.  My brother-in-law has been finding dimes.

Say WHAT???  What's that wacko talking about now??

You will NOT believe it.  But here goes.

Sometime in 2013, a friend started talking about finding dimes and how she believed that were left by a loved one(s) who had passed.  Her stories were intriguing, fun, hopeful and at best - entertaining.  I loved her stories.  But I considered myself a person who didn't...well - find dimes.  Later in the fall of 2013, I listened to more of her dime stories.  Again - soooo entertaining and just fascinating to me.  A few days later?

Dimes started to show up.

I know.  I know.  CRAZY!

We are long past 10 dimes in this family.  We are long past 20 dimes in this family.  We are long past FIFTY dimes in this family.

All found by one of us 5 in often unremarkable circumstances but many times?  IN REMARKABLE CIRCUMSTANCES!  So listen up.

I don't recall my first dime.  But I specifically remember the meaningful ones.

We must have found more than 20 dimes when the first really meaningful one was found.  We were sitting in row 2 of the middle school at my son's Christmas concert, waiting for it to begin.  It was an exciting night because my oldest was singing his first solo EVER.  He was a wreck.  So I bent over to scrap some scunga off my Ugg and there sat one dime on the floor next to my foot.  I pointed to it, looking at my husband and he commented. "Grandma must be here for Michael's first solo..."

A month later - and many dimes later - my daughter was skating in a postponed Christmas show.  When we got to the rink I sent her upstairs to start warming up.  When I got upstairs, she came lunging toward me and suddenly stopped, gasped and pointed to the floor by her foot.  One Dime.  I casually commented with a big smile on my face..."Grandma's here at your solo too!"

About a month later, I was rummaging through my jewelry and I discovered a silver cardboard box with a pair of earrings in it that my beloved niece had given me for Christmas.  I was going out to lunch so I put the earrings on, leaving the box on the bathroom vanity.  When I got home about 2 hours later, my daughter yelled down the stairs, 'Mom, did you leave this on the silver jewelry box?"  And I'm thinking...silver jewelry box?  What silver jewelry box?  I don't own a silver jewelry box.  (I'm thinking big box used to store jewelry?)  She comes down the stairs with the little silver cardboard box with one dime on top.  "OH!"  I said.  "Grandma's wishing you a happy birthday a day early!"  heehee.  And then I gasped.  Today was the 7th anniversary of my mother's death, the day before my daughter's birthday and a dime was left on the box that one of her beautiful granddaughters gave me for Christmas.

A few weeks ago, I was vacuuming my house (there's a gasp - lololol) and my niece called and wanted to stop in and visit.  Sure!  So I hang up the phone and continue vacuuming.  I lift up an object in my kitchen to vacuum underneath?  One Dime.  Guess Noni is here for when her granddaughter comes to visit.

Last week, my daughter was performing in another skating show.  We were all hanging around the house in limbo most of the day waiting to "leave".  My husband walks into our back living area (where we all hibernate all winter because that's where the wood stove is) and points to a stuffed animal thrown on a chair.  "What's that?"  My daughter walks over and looks at the stuffed animal.  One Dime.  I was guessed it!  "Grandma must be going with us to the skating show!"

An hour later, I walk into the rink and my husband is already there setting up the lighting for the show.  He's a bit excited and keeps saying, "I have to tell you something.  I have to tell you something".  Me being me - blew him off - (lol) and went down into the locker room with my daughter and came back up a bit later.  And he tells me the story.  He was laying down electrical cords and covering the cords with red duct tape so no one could trip on them.  He was left with a 12 inch piece so he crumpled it up and held it in his fist while he stood around drinking the last of the coffee in his cup.  He went to toss both the cup and the crumpled up tape in the garbage and when he opened his DIME.  "She's here!  She's HERE!"

That same evening, my little brother was at the skating show and we were regaling him with our dime stories and he was like, "no one ever leaves ME any dimes - boohoo".  8:49 the next morning?


Yes - seriously.

My husband finds numerous dimes.  The washer stopped draining a few weeks ago and he pulled the machine apart.  He found a PILE of CRAP that was clogging the drain dime.  Not a handful of change.  Just this one dime.  Last week he told me to go into the laundry room and open the dryer.  On the ledge under the door?  One Dime.  Not a quarter or a few pennies or 2 nickels.  ONE DIME.  Yesterday he told me to go upstairs and look on top of a pile of clothes on one of his Yankee dime.

My kids find dimes almost everyday.  One dime at a time.  My son was cleaning out a bureau drawer the other day (oxymoron - "cleaning" and "my son" in the same sentence) and when he emptied everything?  One dime.

About a month ago, I was in my basement looking for my ski boots.  They were in a boot bag and hadn't been touched in 15 years.  So I pull them out and try them on and I notice there are some ski "things" in the bottom of the bag so I pull them out and also...One dime.  Not a quarter.  Not a few pennies.  ONE DIME.

I had lunch with my Uncle about a month ago and was entertaining him with my dime stories.  He was laughing and enJOYing my tales so much.  That night he was all freaked.  I found one DIME Jo-Ellllleennnnnnn!!!!  It was all by itself in the cup holder.  A week later, another phone message.  I found one dime when I lifted the kneeler at church!!!  A week later.  You're NOT going to believe this Jo-Elllllennnnnn!  I lifted the couch to vacuum under dime.

My hairdresser - who lost her husband about 7 years ago - is losing her mind with all the dimes she is finding since I told her my dime stories.  Not quarters.  Not pennies.  ONE DIME at a TIME!

Do I ever find other coins?  Actually?  Of course.  But rarely do I find ONE coin that isn't a dime.
I can't explain it.  I can only tell you - it brings amazing, contagious  JOY to everyone finding dimes.  Just wait.  You'll see...

The JOY of a Dime

PS - just in case you think I'm the only crazy one?






READ THE COMMENTS!!!  It's INSANE!  It's simple.  It's catching...yup...JOY.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


So, I stopped at my godchild's home to wish her godspeed today.  She is leaving for Germany to rendezvous with her beloved.  They will be living off base there for most of the next 2 years - I believe.  When I hugged her good-bye I started to cry.  

Why????  Was I upset she was leaving and I wouldn't "see" her for a long while?  I don't think so.  I mean, she lives a mile down the street but it's not like I actually see her a zillion times a year.  10 maybe?  Maybe less.  And I get to hear a LOT about her life through her 

Mom who just happens to be my closest friend of 50 no, not that.
Was it because I was sad?  That she is leaving?

NO!  I am ecstatic for her!  

Perhaps because I knew her Mom would miss her desperately?  Well - I know she WILL!  But that's not why...

No...I think it's much simpler than all that.  
I just plain love her so much.  

I am JOYful for her.  It is a JOY to see her flying to her happiness.  That's all.  A simple JOY.  I love her and she is off to start her brand new life.  And I am so incredibly happy for her.  

I have watched her grow from that teeny being to this mature, beautiful fun woman who catches ALOT of JOY in her life.  She has grown so much.  She graduated college.  She worked hard and completed her Masters.  She got soooo creative in the job market and succeeded amazingly.  She found the love of her life and accepted unforeseen circumstances with great dignity and grace even though it wasn't how she planned for "things" to go.  

And she waited it out.  She practiced acceptence.  She sought enJOYment in her life as she waited and she is off to meet her destiny with huge enthusiasm that is completely contagious, enviable and so JOYful.  I could not have chosen a better beauty to live vicariously through.   Unless it was her brother or sister.  I am so proud of my good godchild.  So godspeed to you godchild!  I love you and your life in my life gives me great JOY.  I can't wait to hear about your adventures!  

Speaking of acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm, I finished a book last night that I just loved called A New Earth, Awakening To Your Life's Purpose.  It was very interesting.  And guess what the theme of the book really was after a lot of slow, mind bending (but very interesting), thought provoking verbage? 

The JOY of Being is the JOY of being conscious. 

Say whatttt?

It's pretty simple.  How many people are truly "conscious"?  We move thru our world with a zillion thoughts swirling in our heads.  But are we conscious?  Are we in the moment?  Are we catching JOY?  Or are we lost in our thoughts, reacting, reacting, reacting based on thoughts that run through our heads and "things" that happen to us and meetings we need to be at and appointments we need to drive to and self talking ourselves to death about how miserable we are?  Who's the most stressed contests and when am I going to get happy and I'm so miserable - those thoughts?  Are you sighing ALOT.  (I'm a huge sigher...)

Here's a novel thought.  How about just being JOYful?  For a minute.  Look around you.  Be conscioussssss.  Stop being UNconscioussssss.  The alternative to where you are in this moment?  Does dead ring a bell?  I mean, yea - you could be in a better place.  The beach, a vacation, reading on the couch...but you're NOT.  You're HERE!

So guess what?  Just plain accept.  That's all.  Accept where you are - be it the crazy long line at Starbucks (ummm - the one I was in this morning?), cleaning the kitchen, putting away laundry...because when you accept where you are instead of fighting with yourself about not wanting to be there, suddenly all is quiet.  Are you all ecstatically happy and shit?  No - but you're not miserable anymore.  You aren't resisting against your thoughts and getting more stressed.  Acceptance - - not so bad...

On to enJOYment.  Here's something - when you make the present moment, instead of past and future, the focal point of your life, your ability to enJOY what you do increases tenfold and with it the quality of your life increases dramatically.  JOY!  Why "wait" for something meaningful to come into your life so you can finally enJOY what you do.  Waiting to start living is so unconscious!  The now is where you ARE!!!  Catch JOY now!  EnJOYment -- not so bad...

And last but not least?  Enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm means there is a deep enJOYment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or a vision that you work toward.  It's called enJOYing the journey!    When you want to arrive at your goal more than you want to be doing what you are doing, you become stressed.  So enJOY and your enthusiasm will be contagious!  And you just ride the wave - to success.  

Take me and the 3 little pigs.  LOL!  I know - right? Always all about me.  Hey!  It IS my blog.  

Anyway - Let's go hiking kids!!!!  If I go into the idea with stress because I don't know where I'm going, and I don't know if they'll get cranky and what if it's too difficult.  Really????  Hello - now THAT'S fun!!!  

No - I've learned.  Talk yourself off the ledge and make it an adventure. Surely more JOYful.  Enthusiasm is quite contagious.  It applies all over.  EnJOY the journey and your enthusiasm will lead you to your heart's JOY.  Enthusiasm - not so bad...

So - yea - a bit philosophical and new agey today, huh?  But it's not that difficult to comprehend.  You just need to get out of your head and look at your thoughts from the background - with your soul.  You know your soul?  No?  

Still your mind for a minute and you will meet - guess who?  Yup - you will meet YOU.  Not your thoughts, not your anger, your frustration, your stress.  That's not YOU.  YOU are who is looking at all that.  YOU are who looks around and catches JOY - even a nano-second of JOY - that's YOU.  That be your soul.  That be the conscious YOU.  That is Being.  Hence...

The JOY of Being is the JOY of being conscious.  

Take a moment.  You might be surprised.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Prologue:  This BLOG post is crazy brain dump run on - buckle up and let her rip!

So there's been quite a bit of snowfall this Winter 2014.  As you know - I take the position that you should try to catch some JOY in this New England winter instead of being just, plain miserable about it.  I - personally - LOVE a good snowfall.

At any rate - one of the activities I like to do makes my husband happy as a clam.  When it snows, I cook.  Last week I made some new and also some old, reliable comfort food recipes.

I made:

Chicken and Tomato Soup
Sweet and Sour Chicken (somewhat Paleo style)
Chicken Pot Pie (completely NOT somewhat Paleo style)
Roast an 18 pound turkey
Unfried Rice (somewhat Paleo style)
Ck Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Paleo Granola
Shepards Pie (somewhat Paleo style)

Our fridg is quite full!  I will share some recipes later on after the messy brain dump going on here today.

So, a former client/friend - who I correspond with frequently - emailed me about something and I of course gave her my unsolicited advice.  As I wrote my opinion, I realized that my internal self talk had changed.

As a trainer for many, many years and even before that, I spent ALOTTTTT of energy not only working out and watching my diet. I spent ALOTTTTT of time mentally beating the living crap out of myself as I waited for the workouts and the nutrition to do it's thing for my body - that be - change it so I looked like my 27 year old former self.

About 10 years ago - at around 47 - I also beat myself up about why I continued to beat myself up when it wasn't working.  I wasn't looking like my 27 year old former self.  Why couldn't I just be content with what I had going on.  My 47 year old current self!!!

I mean really?  What's the definition of insanity???

Ummmmm - well, I said to myself, I'm changing it up.  That's different...I can't be insane.  

Well sometimes I sure felt like it!!!

So it's 10 years later.  I'm on the last part of my 57th year - turning 57 in June.  I think I finally did it...kinda, sorta.  

Last winter I made some big changes.  I cut my workouts in half more like in quarters, and I stopped restricting food groups.  Most importantly I stopped beating myself up when I missed a workout or I ate something I wasn't "supposed" to.  It was done deliberately with great anticipation of what I would look like in a year.  I wanted to see what would happen.  

Aghast!!!!  What was going to happen????

Wellllll - not a whole lot has changed - for the worse.  I believe I waffle up and down on the scale by about 3 pounds depending on how "badly" I eat.  

I truly know in my heart we should take in a LOT less carbs than the government/society would have you believe.  So I stayed that course 80-85% of the time.  That's easy for me.  

I never really ate processed food to begin with so that never came back into my eating habits.  I do believe grains should only be consumed in very small quantities and as much as I love rice and mashed potatoes and pasta, I rarely miss them but I did indulge in a bit of all of it this past year as opposed to NONE in the year prior.
Now sugar?  That be a problem, Jack.  You may recall I came up too high on a glucose tolerance test and an A1C test back 2 years ago.  I got that all in order in under 3 months by completely eliminating carbs and sugar except for vegies and dark chocolate and a bit of berries.  Also raised my fat intake.

I lasted about 11 months without the sugar and carbs and then the holidays came and I went crazy.  I toned it down after that Christmas (a year ago) and then I did what we are talking about here.  I stopped beating myself up.  I let myself have an apple here and there everyday, I consumed more than the required 10 grams of sugar almost daily but not like 100 grams!

So the end result is, I think I kept my shape pretty much give or take a few inches.  I think I have more fat on my body than I would have liked in a prior life but I am pretty ok with it at 56.  Sometimes I get that old anxiety, beat myself up feeling and I shoot it in the foot and carry on.

The important thing to me is I am calmer.  I am more peaceful.  I stopped looking for the magic combo to make me 27 again.  

My negative self talk is almost gone and not much has really changed all that drastically - body wise.  Would I love to be slimmer and in a size 6 again?  Ha - guess what?  Size 6 was in the good months when I was wearing Ann Taylor clothes.  I started at a size 8 last year and I am still in a size 8 most days.  

(And when I'm not - can you say pajama jeans? Haaaaaaaaaaaa!)

My arms look better than last year as I switched to lower weights and higher reps and they buffed up to an "I like the way they look" level.  I do some lower body with low or no weights sometimes and I SPIN a few times a week - walk, hike and sometimes run when I feel like it.  I practice a tad of Yoga daily.  Sometimes I do some core work.  Definitely THAT is what should get more consistent - the core work.

The point is - how JOY ful am I that I was able to economize my workouts, lighten up my 'tude about food and find my body hasn't changed drastically for the bad.

I must say one thing though.  Next week I get blood test results.  I am interested to see how they look.  I am interested to see if keeping the carbs low but still indulging in some weekly sweets has kept my A1C in a good place.  I will let you know.

As a trainer, I will tell you that if you need to lose more than 15 pounds or more, you need to change the way you eat.  I don't mean going on a restricted diet and feeling deprived but just changing the quality of the food you eat will start the weight loss.

As a trainer, I will tell you that everyone should workout.  I believe everyone needs weight workouts or Yoga or Pilates - SOMETHING that uses the muscles in your body above and beyond your everyday activity.   Do you need to go balls open 3-4 times a week with your cardio?  No, I do not believe that.  Only if you want to.  If you love to run, or love the treadmill or love bootcamps - then do it!  But don't beat yourself up because you DON'T do it.  

Do something.  That's all.  Do SOMETHING.  Something becomes more.  A 10 minute walk daily becomes a half hour daily.  10 pushups and 10 squats becomes 3 sets of 10 down the road.  Do a little.  It will become what it needs to be, for you to be proud of yourself and feel better.

ANYWAY - I promised you some recipes and here they are.  I still try to follow a Paleoish/Ketogenic(ish) type diet.  My indulgences mostly are not Paleoish/Ketogenic.  For example - the Granola recipe below does follow.  The Unfried Rice kinda sorta but maybe not.  The Shepard's Pie?  Yes mostly (corn?).   (The Chicken Pot Pie that is not being posted?  NOOOOOO - but it sure tasted good!)  Anyway - enJOY.  Cuz we did!!!

Paleo Granola


1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup coconut oil (or other oil)
½ cup raw honey
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Add all ingredients to a large bowl.
Mix well. If the honey is thick, heat up in the microwave for about 30 seconds and mix well.
Place on a baking sheet (use parchment paper for easy clean up).
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to help it not burn.
Let cool.  I eat with milk or yogurt.

Unfried Rice


2-3 cups leftover cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp olive oil (or you may use coconut oil)
2 large organic eggs, whisked in a bowl
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 of a small sweet onion, diced
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup carrots, diced into small cubes
3 scallions, chopped
2.5 Tbsp low sodium, gluten free soy/tamari sauce
3/4 Tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup cashews (optional)

In a smal
l bowl, combine the soy/tamari sauce and sesame oil and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the oil until rippling and add the onion. Stir constantly on medium-high for a minute or two and then add the garlic and carrots. Continue to stir for another 4-5 minutes you can turn the heat down to medium-low or medium. It's extremely important to keep that hand, or someone's hand, stirring, otherwise you risk burning the garlic.
Next add the peas, scallions (reserving some for garnish on top!) ginger and cashews and… you guessed it…. stir constantly! After a minute, add the leftover quinoa. Continue to stir until the peas and quinoa seem to be heated through. Stir in the tamari/sesame sauce until everything is well combined.
Turn the heat to low and push away the quinoa from the center of the skillet, creating a donut hole. Pour in the eggs and scramble. Once scrambled, work the quinoa back into the donut hole and toss well! Garnish with remaining scallions.

Paleoish/ketogenic(ish) Shepard's Pie


For the "potatoes":
1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons arrow root
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Cut up cauliflower.  Roast in a 400 degree oven until crispy and tender.  Throw into a food processor with the heavy cream, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the filling. Place the olive oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the turkey, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the arrow root and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the turkey mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed cauliflower, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the "potatoes" begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

LET It Snow, LET IT snow, LET IT SNOW!

So much MISERY over the snowfall this winter.  I am beginning to think I may be a bit "touched". CUZ I JUST LOVE IT!

I mean - seriously - if you have to spend 4-6 months living in a New England Winter, then at least catch some JOY while you're there.  In the "old" days, i.e., DINK days - that would be the Double Income No Kids days - we were skiers.  We'd either leave after work on a Friday and head to Vermont or get up early on Sat. and be skiing at Okemo or Killington by 9:30am.  That was a Winter celebration!  And most Winters we would take a week off and head to the slopes for at least 3 or 4 days of hardcore skiing.

But alas - sigh - 3 kids suck up your skiing money regularly.  I mean seriously?  It probably would cost $300-$500/day for my whole family to ski.  No one owns skis - hence RENT.  The kids don't know how - can you say lessons?  Shall we discuss lift tickets?  

So no - not skiing soon.  Can you say $ice rink$?   Whatever - truth be told - I just LOVE a snowy winter and I don't need to ski to catch the JOY.  All the weatherman has to do is whisper "snow" and I'm all over it.
My heart starts to race, a smile lights up my's a bit like the month before Christmas when I was a kid.  I just get SO excited!!!  But I have to keep it a secret because so many people get MAD!  LOL!!!!  my husband?

I can't explain it.  I LOVE SNOW.

I'm sure you're grumbling.  "Yea - she owns a gym in her house.  She doesn't have to get in a car and battle the commute."

Actually?  I "battled" the commute for 15 years.  I was a seasoned warrior because I managed a huge staff in a law firm 50 miles from home.  When the calls came in on a snowy weekday morning - "I can't come in due to snow", the only weapon I had was "I drove 50 miles in it.  I think you can drive 4 miles".  I think I may have missed a few days due to snow but they were far and few between.  I remember driving home late one night after work in like 2 feet of snow uphill both ways and the state roads I drove were not even plowed.  So I know about driving in the snow.

Now I should say - I have the best husband who is a master shoveler - so I don't shovel much unless it's a mammoth blizzard so I DO understand that pain.  But I actually enjoy shoveling when I do it.  I guess I can give you some empathy about that subject as the reason you are so miserable in the winter.

But the take home here is this:  The only one you are fighting when you are miserable - be it snow or anything else that distresses you - is YOU.  If you are arguing with reality it's like trying to teach a cat to bark.  
Wanting reality to be different than what it is, is hopeless.  It's SNOWING!!!!  Light a fire, read a book, make stew, give yourself permission to do nothing if you are lucky enough.  If not, is being bitchy going to stop the snow from falling?  Is complaining going to bring out the sunshine?  When have you ever been successful with that thinking??   You're arguing with "what is".  

Stop arguing with YOU and turn your thoughts to catching a wisp of JOY.  Look what my friend George Savic does to catch JOY.  (who - btw - owns the rights to my beautiful header shot up above on this blog) 
Snaps a shot of that fat snowy bird.

Photographs a crisp, red hot sunrise on one of those zero degree mornings.

Check out his walk in the park (in a snowfall even better!).  You never know what you'll see!

Go to a movie!  Notice the beauty of the icicles forming off the eaves of your house.   

Make a Chicken Pot Pie!

Do SOMETHING to feel the JOY and stop the madness of those negative thoughts!   

Turn it around with JOY.  Even if it's just for a minute.  The hangover of JOY lasts - trust me.

Speaking of snowy birds - yesterday when my daughter and I were holed up in the house because she was sick and we were forced ALL DAY to watch live men's skating at the Olympics, she leaped off the couch yelling, "LOOK!!!!"  Well I tried to get some shots off with my cell and they didn't come out great - but look what sat in a pine in front of our house hunting for poor innocent birds at our bird feeder!  It was - for lack of a better word - majestic. This beautiful red tailed hawk.  Not to bore you was JOY ful seeing him this close.

 Please note icicle JOY as well...
Isn't he a BEAUT?!  We were so excited!!!!

So git out there and catch some!   

Well what do you know about that?  Look what's outside my window today...

That would be snow JOY as in -- it's SNOWING JOY!