Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RIP Dr. David Simon - The Legacy of Connecting to Our Essence

A great man has left the earth in body only.  He touched so many thousands of lives.  He was a doctor, a spiritual leader, and co-founder of the Chopra Center with Deepak Chopra.  If you've never heard of him, click on this link: http://www.lovefordavid.com.

I heard about his death and wanted to immediately connect with his wisdom and found this (which you will see at the above link, among other pearls).  From Dr. David Simon:

Here are a few practices that can help you deepen your connection to your own essence and purpose:
  • I cultivate inner stillness through my meditation or yoga practice, which then allows me to hear the quiet messages that emerge from the deepest level of my being.
  • I connect to my life’s purpose by asking someone I know truly loves and cares about me, “What do you think is my best quality, trait or talent?”
  • I ask myself, “How could I bring more creativity, passion, or joy into what I am doing?”
  • I nurture a shift in my internal dialogue from “What’s in it for me?” to “How can I serve?” I notice how when I am doing what I love, I am able to bring joy and inspiration to those around me.
  • I look for opportunities to do one thing for another person that brings a smile to their face.
  • I consider what I would like most to hear from someone and I say these words to another person.
  • I take the time to do something that I love and share my enthusiasm or creation with another person. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers -- A Natural State of Being

I went to help a friend yesterday.  She has had a tragic turn of events.  Her previously athletic, supremely-able-bodied 19 year old son, was in a terrible motorcycle accident in November.  Now temporarily --we are all asserting and knowing -- disabled, her son will be making his way from rehab back home, paralyzed from the waist down.   

After 3 months of my friend and her husband being at the hospital nearly 24/7, their home is in some disarray.  So, neatening and rearranging are in order.  Wheelchair access must be calculated, new apparatuses the likes of which they've never touched, let alone had in their home must be brought in.

So, a few people came to help my friend yesterday.  I arrived and three volunteers had already been there for a while.  The task at hand: clear out the garage to make room for big brother to actually live, since the bedroom the two brothers previously shared will house only the one adjustable bed, wheelchair, etc. 

It was a daunting task, since many things over the course of three months can easily find themselves shoved quickly into the garage to be dealt with later.  Eventually, you have what we discovered, a slightly knotted mess of things to be untangled, reorganized and cleared out and about.  

My friend wanted to do it right, of course, going through all the boxes, shedding pieces of the past, but that wasn't what was needed, nor was there anywhere near enough time to do that pristine a garage clearing.  When I arrived the three volunteers were so sweetly trying to organize and clean around the indecision and stops and starts.  

I wondered why no one was putting their foot down.  Why wasn't anyone saying "No, we can't look at every item in every box and decide if we are keeping it or giving it away!"  Well, that's a hard thing, especially if you've just met the person whose stuff you are organizing.

That's right, two of the three people in the garage when I arrived had recently met my friend and one had just met her less than an hour before my arrival. 
Even though not much was getting organized before I arrived, things were getting cleaned.  These sweet strangers were already covered with dust, already had sleeves rolled up, and energy intact for the long haul.

The volunteer who just met my friend told me today she is inspired to organize a fundraiser.  Her husband, an accomplished well-known musician -- one of the three kind hearted volunteers --- will play guitar at the fundraiser.  Overflowing kindness.

I recently read in Mark Nepo's book (previously featured on this blog) that it is our natural state to be kind.  It is certainly this couple's pure and natural state.  

When we aren't naturally kind there's just a bit of gunk on the gears that are keeping the Engine of Kindness running smoothly, that don't allow the doors to the heart to open with grace and ease. 

I am blown away and inspired by these two.  May we all keep running into these examples of The Kindness of Strangers.  May we all keep working on cleaning the gears, putting gas in the engine, and keeping the Kindness Machine going.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Einstein Genius Warms Heart -- Thank you Mark Nepo!

I can't recommend this book more highly.  (Thank you Oprah for recommending!) Starting the day with Mark Nepo is like starting the day with sunshine in your heart mind and soul!

(Easy to find on Amazon or visit http://www.marknepo.com/books/awakening.htm)

The book has a different "lesson" which starts with an inspiring quote.  I haven't read an Einstein quote I haven't loved, but today's lesson in Nepo's book has the best one ever:

There are two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
It's truly LAZY to live as though everything is a miracle.  It's easy on the heart.  In a nutshell, it causes us to have less stress and more joy.

Here's to being Lazily Einsteinian, no matter how damn smart we are!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Trader Joe's Virgin is Virgin No More!

The most glorious news has just been received.  Peter, my glorious friend from London, who has been reading about the wonders of all things Joe, has finally arrived in the U.S. to be de-flowered.  Only he can describe this very important day in his life, as a man, as a foodie, as a chocoholic:

It's happened. After all these years of reading and swooning over your blog,

I've done the deed and lost my virginity...

Trader Joe's was n't quite what I imagined; I was expecting a boutique style

supermarket at boutique style prices. Half right: boutique style supermarket but

at very attractive prices. I was amazed and to be honest more than a little

overwhelmed by the selection, the obvious quality and the fact that everything's

so very reasonably priced.

And they don't sell food that's been grown on steroids either. The strawberries

I bought tasted like strawberries, so did the blueberries.

Chocolate? Well, I had a little wander down the aisle of cocoa cornucopia. If I

ever do that again then I'm going to have to either be wearing boxing gloves so

I can't pick anything up, or better still under some form of supervision. Eyes

out on stalks, endorphins firing like flares over a battlefield, I could not

help but buy, buy, buy.

Their dark chocolate Mint creams are the handiwork of the devil. Truly, Satan's

children. I now no longer have any will power since downing a tub of them.

Correct, an entire tub, and that on top of half a packet of ginger, cinnamon and

molasses soft cookies I effortlessly scoffed on the uptown number 6 train. To

everyone on the same carriage as me, I apologise...but once I start, there's no

stop button.

I've actually been to two of their outlets today: union square first, then the

mother ship in Chelsea. I know I'm going to be rolling back to at least one of

them tomorrow. No self control any more.

They've clearly got the edge over whole foods: much better range of foodstuffs

and groceries; spot on pricing ; quirky, compelling in store ads; along with

staff who really seem to enjoy their job.

Viva Trader Joe's !

Best wishes and regards


Sunday, January 15, 2012

90 Seconds....That's It!

Rewatching an Oprah interview with Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroscientist who had a stroke herself and wrote about it in "Stroke of Genius."

This is what she says about emotions thrilling through our brains and bodies, that we ALLOW, that we CHOOSE to experience:

"Pay attention to how things FEEL in your body.  Because you know how it feels like in your body when you get angry, and you have a choice when you get angry of either BEING angry or of PAYING ATTENTION to what it feels like in your body when you ARE angry.  Abd, when you have that kind of physiological response, when you get angry, it only takes only 90 seconds -- it takes 90 seconds from the time that you feel that trigger happen and you feel yourself starting to get angry for the chemicals to flush through your body and then completely flush out of you.  90 seconds is all."

Dr. Taylor suggests that the next time we start feeling angry, we start timing it, and within 90 seconds it will be gone.  She says "And you can say, great I just dodged that one."

If you keep running the same loop, you can keep the anger alive.  She says that people who stay angry (or whatever negative alternate emotion), they are "consciously or unconsciously CHOOSING to rerun the loops, the circuitry."

I love this.  I know that some days when I'm working out a muscle in my Bar Method class for 90 seconds, it can be forever.  This is very similar. I think 90 seconds will feel like a very long time at first, when the muscles aren't strong.  As I strengthen this muscle, though, the 90 seconds will not be very long at all.  And, definitely it is much preferable to the alternative, of minutes, days, hours, months. 

I'm excited to just watch the emotions. I have some experience doing this over the years, having been taught how to do it by many meditation teachers, gurus, etc.  But, somehow Bolte Taylor's reminder that I am CHOOSING to run the circuitry and that it is only 90 SECONDS -- well, both of those factors combined give me a little battery pack on my emotional back in my journey to master my negative emotions.

This is a very Lazy Tip from Bolte Taylor:  Watch the emotions for 90 seconds.

Here is the link to Bolte Taylor's TED Talk: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Dr-Jill-Bolte-Taylors-Famous-Talk-on-Experiencing-a-Stroke-Video

Here is the link to Oprah's interview (Part 1 of 12) with Bolte Taylor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2KpDmRmZJw

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Everything is PERFECT: How Learning Italian Told Me So!

My plan, intention, goal is to be in Italy for my 50th birthday with friends.  I'm working on the plans right now, and hoping we are getting closer and closer to reality each day.  

In line with that intention I am studying Italian every day.  I got the 24/7 Italian Tutor App on my iPad and iPhone so I have no excuse to not do at least a lesson a day.  

The other thing I've done is put my Italian dictionary from college in my bathroom.  It's hilariously old, reminding me that this is, after all, my 50th birthday, so I should stop being shocked by things aging, including my luscious body! LOL!

So, every single time I go to the bathroom (and I drink a lot of water) or take a bath, I get to open my dictionary up to a random word.  Whether I want to learn the word or not, I learn it.  Usually after learning the word, my eye wanders to words I already know.  Actually, I am desperately seeking them.  I used to speak the damn language, one would think I would remember SOME of these words!  Again, aging, lovely delicious aging.

When I take a bath I get to learn or re-learn a ton of words.  Today I got two back to back that I had to write about, two words that I was excited I already knew, but that held little gems for me:

First Page of the Bath:
Translation: MONTAGNA....
And then, the phrase "to make a mountain out of a molehill" 
TRANSLATION:  fare d'una mosca un elefante
Which translated back to English is "Make an elephant out of a fly."

Is that not the most hilarious phrase?  The Italians just do everything better.  It's so superior to our phrase.

Very next turn of page:  PINK
Translation:  ROSA...
And then, the phrase without an English equivalent, just flying out in the middle of the paragraph for no apparent "English reason"...CONDIZIONE PERFETTA!

This you can likely translate yourself:  Perfect Condition

I have been so present to the perfection of every little thing these days.  Every mishap, every loss, every death (there have been several in my world in the last month), every fuck up on my part or someone else's....it's ALL absolutely, unequivocally perfect.

Even my turning 50, dare I say it, is 

Lazy Condizione Perfetta to All!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2012 Manifesto -- Fun Way to Start the Year!

Check out this super coolio blog "Glitter is My Favorite Color" I just found!  I love it, and I love what she created in her last entry: a fantabulous "2012 Manifesto": http://www.glitterismyfavoritecolor.com/

What a BRILLIANT idea...I created one super fast...will work on this and create a painting around it later tonight or tomorrow -- but this is my first draft.  I love it.  Will post on my wall so I see it every day, hanging proudly and loudly to remind me of what I'm creating this year!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Starting the New Year with Power -- with a Jet Pack on Your Back!

My New Year's Eve was a smashing fun frolicking time.  But, there was impact on my January 1, i.e., I had no energy to do anything but slowly, over the course of the day, clean up the debris! LOL! 

Yesterday was about cleaning out the garage, the last task for vacation.  It was a huge success and it truly energized my new year.  I'd been working on getting things in better form and order for the last two weeks, but that was the icing on the cake, the piece de resistance.  Getting things into integrity always, always, always, is like a jet pack on my back.

Today, I could sit down with energy and clarity to do my lists -- "Acknowledgments + Intentions."  At the party we all wrote down on paper what we wanted to let go of for 2011.  Then after the new year hit, we wrote all the things we wanted to create for 2012.  It was so cool to let things go and create anew. 

Last night, though I read Kris Carr's blog (http://crazysexylife.com/2011/2011-the-highs-lows-what-i%E2%80%99ve-got-planned-for-2012/?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Crazy%20Sexy%20Life&utm_content=NL+123011) where she acknowledged herself for all she accomplished in 2011 and wrote the intentions after that.  So, I did the same thing for myself today and I feel like I now have a jet pack firmly attached to my back to powerfully start my year.  Letting go of things is one thing, but genuinely acknowledging yourself for how you dealt with those same items perhaps -- and more -- is a really good thing to do.  We all deserve credit for something we did last year for ourselves, for someone else, in response or reaction to something, etc. 

I encourage you to write your lists.   Give yourself some kudos.  Maybe some of the things you wish you'd handled better can be intentions for this year.  For instance, 2011 seemed to be fraught with horrible dealings with Customer Service people.  Some I couldn't understand, some couldn't understand me, some just didn't want to help.  All in all, there was frustration on both ends, or just on my end.  I wish I had dealt with all of those better, and I intend to do so this year.

I also lost weight and gained some back when I got sick for 4 months.  So, I'll be losing that.  I'll also be meditating every day -- even when I travel, and don't have my meditation couch with me! LOL!

Get out your jet packs, everyone.  Let's vroom vroom vroom into 2012!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Eve Celebration is Yummalicious!

Happy New Year!

I had a New Year's Eve party.  I knew there would be 8 to 12 people coming so I wanted to make sure almost everything was done prior to the party so I could really have fun.  I decided I wanted to try two recipes I had been waiting to try, and made one of my all time favorites.  It turned out it was three different pastas, which is something I wouldn't normally do, but it worked because all the flavors were very different.

Here is the menu:

  • Lemon Spaghetti (served on thin spaghetti -- not cappellini, just a nice thin spaghetti)
  • Portabella Bolognese (served on egg fettucine)
  • Artichoke Pesto (served on narrow penne with roasted chicken added for meat eaters) Salad - Butter Lettuce, Cucumber, Toasted Almonds, Shredded Parmesan, Vinegar (red wine + balsamic), olive oil, salt + pepper
  • Hot Fudge Sundae Bar (several ice cream flavors and a table full of toppings -- nuts, cookies, cookie crumbs, strawberries, bananas, candies, Salted Caramel Sauce from Trader Joe's, and homemade hot fudge sauce)
I also made a special festive punch for 10:

  • Fresh Tangerine Juice -- about 3 cups
  • Pomegranate Juice-- about 3 cups
  • Orange Liqueur (I used Patron Citronage) - about 1/2 cup
  • Vodka -- about 1 cup
  • Lambrusco - 3 bottles
I made this up for a Christmas gathering, but added the Vodka this time which really gave it some more depth and less sweet.  But, you can play with the amounts to fit your own tastebud whims.

Here are links to the best of the recipes for the night. I'm not posting the Portabella Bolognese because I had to totally manipulate it, and it never got to be the proper thickness.  Though it was great in the end, I can't tell you how I did it, because I worked on it over two days.

Lemon Spaghetti -- I doubled the recipe, but tripled the lemon zest and added an extra half cup of lemon juice because I like it super-lemony.


Great Hot Fudge Sauce-- II've tried a lot of recipes over the years and this one has a lot of depth. I really liked it.  My guests did too.


This is unbelievable. I had no idea where I got this recipe until I searched for it to give you a link. It's a Weight Watchers recipe!  Wooohooo!  It is unbelievably delicious.  BUT, please note: I screwed it up. How?  I tossed it with the pasta about an hour before the party started (and covered it well with tin foil), so about 3 hours before we ate, and it turned from a lucious light minty green color to ugly dark brown, and it turned from creamy to nearly crusty and dry.  I have actually never had a sauce change texture so radically.  It is stunningly good when served fresh.   You can make the sauce the day ahead (which I did).  You just can't toss it with the pasta until you are ready to serve.  Lesson learned.  But, this is one of my favorite pastas now.  Ever.


As I face my new year having gained some of my weight back, I'm thrilled to know this recipe is WW friendly.  Woooooooooohooooo!!!!

Buon Anno Nuovo Appetito!