Category Archives: The Good Life

Happy New Year 2012!

Happy New Year 2012!

Happy New Year 2012! A clean slate, a fresh page, a new start. The potential to start a anew & do better because we know better.

Make the resolutions, not so much because they’ll be stringently kept, but because they make us revisit the past and think about the future with purpose. Mindfully we move on learning from not only our mistakes, but also from our successes.

Be kind to the people in your life, including yourself. Know that we can only act within the capacity we have to understand. We are all at different levels of learning and understanding and the greatest wish for all of us is that the process of learning in our lives never stops.

Try very hard to forgive and move on. Forgiveness does not mean resolution in all instances, it often means accepting what cannot be changed and letting the power of anger and conflict go. Part of maturity is realizing that right, wrong and winning are less important than acceptance and compromise. A greater part of maturity is knowing when to let go, perhaps walk away and somehow find a way to remember the good memories separate from the painful ones.

Do good! It is essential to us as human beings living in a society to live by a code of looking out for one another. Locally, nationally and globally there is need and in whatever way we can address need we are called to act. The initial step is to make a commitment to do good in your home – to create a place of respect, kindness and manners. A place where we support each other and help each other grow. From that place of kindness and compassion we can move to a place of service to others. Once you experience doing good, once you step outside your own needs to help someone else, the experience will change you. The call to be better will motivate you, seeing a picture larger than your own needs and wants will expand you and allow you to more clearly see your place in the world.

Take care of yourself, physically and mentally. Choose healthy habits, find a way to move each day as it helps both body and soul. Choose positive thinking as a way of life, while it might not always pan out it reduces stress and allows possibility where perhaps there was none. Find a personal place of spirituality – develop a personal relationship with God or the higher being, creator of your beliefs. Do not allow others to define or determine that relationship, accept responsibility for cultivating and maintaining it. We are all only human, including religious leaders and scholars, and with that comes the inevitable human traits both positive and negative. While we can look to others for direction and information ultimately the spiritual relationship should be a personal one.

Take the time to know yourself, to listen to the voice inside you and recognize the gut feelings and moments of intuition. Often, in hindsight, our greatest regrets have come from the moments when we had a sense of knowing and ignored it.  Remember that everyday and experience is a lesson, if we don’t learn from these lessons we will continue to circle the same pattern and will have no reason to expect to move forward. If we are attentive we begin to recognize patterns, both good and bad, and respect the inevitability of cause and effect. Our actions and reactions form our experience of the world, others and ourselves. While we need to accept that there are many outside things that we have no control over, we do have the potential to direct how we react to them. Being a person of integrity with a clear set of what is right and wrong for us will allow us to move through the world in a positive way and reduce the effect that the actions of others have on our lives

.Happy New Year 2012! A clean slate, a fresh page, a new start. The potential to start a anew & do better because we know better.

 My love & best wishes to all – enjoy the journey!! xo

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Making Christmas Magic

Making Christmas Magic

Today I am making Christmas Magic!  I finally feel, after many years, that I understand exactly how to do that for my family.

You see for many years I was under the misconception, much like the Grinch, that Christmas did indeed come from a store. If there were every single thing every one asked for under the tree, and the house was ready for a photo shoot, I had succeeded. There are many happy memories from those years, but there was also a great deal of stress and time spent focusing on things that with hindsight and wisdom truly didn’t matter.

Also, I was in a predicament of my own making in that I didn’t want my kids to experience the insanity I grew up with where the stress to have everything done was sometimes at the expense of holiday spirit. In not wanting them to be forced into elf like servitude to achieve the perfection I did it myself – a sure recipe for resentment and at least one emotional break down per season!

What I have learned over the years from trial and error, and from truly listening to what my family looked forward to for Christmas, is the following:

  • knowing the top three things someone truly wants for Christmas is more important than ordering the entire catalog.
  • asking what everyone wants for holiday treats and Christmas dinner is so much more satisfying for all than preparing a Martha like feast and not having everyone ooh and ahh, or worse tell you they didn’t like it!
  • I cannot share decorating the tree, but I love company so that someone can listen to the stories of our family as told through the ornaments.
  • my family doesn’t really care if the house is decorated to rival a department store, but they do mind if I am crazed – I do what I can do with no stress
  • I have pared down my Christmas card list to people we are in touch with or want to reach out to over the holidays – I now enjoy writing our messages of love & joy rather than feeling as if I am working on an assembly line

Although these changes may not seem earth shattering, they have made a tremendous difference in our lives.  I am so looking forward to being together, to sharing time and to creating new memories. Our home is full of love and laughter and open to friends and family to join us.

Today I am making Christmas Magic – my heart is full!

 

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The “Present” of the Holiday Season

The “Present” of the Holiday Season

As the holiday season is now in full effect, many of us find ourselves in a struggle between making this the year where we find the spirit of peace in the season and the year where we complete the Seasonal Olympics in record time.

There are so many things that we do because we are supposed to, so many gifts we buy because is it the latest “must have” and so many cards we write to people who we really don’t maintain relationships with. We allow ourselves to buy into (in many ways literally) the competitive nature of some holiday traditions – from decorating to baking, from shopping to entertaining – often cranking chores out as if we are on an assembly line rather than enjoying the tasks of the season.

Perhaps this year you can make a concerted effort be mindful about what the season means to you personally, and to those you love. Really think about what has created your best memories from holidays past and choose only to focus on those things. The one or two cookies everyone loves, the favorites from the holiday feast, the trip to see the tree in the city or the quiet night of watching mushy holiday movies (fa la la la lifetime!). When we take the time to give thought to what truly matters so much of the clutter falls away.  It becomes easier to let go of the shoulds and concentrate on the traditions – both new and old – that truly matter.

By letting go of the holiday drama we make room for new opportunities to share the peace, love and joy that the season is meant to bring.  Not the kind that is bought or manufactured, but the kind that comes from counting our blessings and sharing time with those we love.

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Fabulous Fridays! – Dressing for the Theatre

Fabulous Fridays! – Dressing for the Theatre

There are few places left where appropriate dressing follows strict guidelines. Dress codes at all but a few tony establishments have gone the way of fox stoles and men’s hats being de riguer. Religious services – with the exception of some where dress is part of the religious observance – have discontinued any dress code expectations that used to define “Sunday Best”. The work place took the road from casual Fridays to business casual and made a left at wear whatever you feel like. Schools have moved the line of having a dress code, for students and teachers alike, so far away from having a uniform that as long as you don’t reveal too much flesh you’re okay (unless it’s Halloween and then you can come as the “slutty version” of whatever you want to be).

Another hallowed ground has apparently reached the final frontier of dressing for the occasion – attending the theatre. Since I was very little attending Broadway was an event, an extravagance – an incredibly special occasion. This feeling has remained for me to this very day – which is probably why I am so very disappointed to see the seats around me filled with those who seemed not to know they were attending a Broadway show (or leaving the house, or not cleaning their garage),.

I thought I would try to be helpful and share some tips to hold on to the last great event to dress up for – attending the theatre!

Top Ten Tips For Dressing for the Theatre

10. – If any part of your ensemble fastens with Velcro you probably shouldn’t wear it to the theatre.

9.  – If your outfit shows your enthusiasm for any sports team, television show or band you  shouldn’t wear it to the theatre.

8. – If you felt under dressed and got the stink eye from other diners at Junior’s you shouldn’t wear that outfit to the theatre.

7. – Unless you are in the cast of Lysistrata Jones you shouldn’t wear sneakers to the theatre.

6. -  If you are over 21 you probably shouldn’t wear your “fan” tee shirt to the theatre (or out of the house, but that is another post topic!).

5. -  If your outfit can take you directly from the matinee to your league bowling night, you probably shouldn’t wear it to the theatre.

4. - If your slip dress looks a heck of a lot more like a slip than a dress, perhaps you should add another layer before you arrive at the theatre.

3. -  If you are wearing jeans that are not dark rinse, trouser length with dress shoes and appropriate accessories they don’t belong at the theatre (if they are elastic waist, ripped, rinsed or decorated they don’t belong anywhere).

2. -  If you are wearing a hat, remove it when you enter the theatre. It doesn’t matter if you are cold, if it’s part of your outfit, if you didn’t bother to comb your hair or if you are Lady Gaga - hats are removed at the theatre. (your hair style should also not obstruct other theatre goer’s views either horizontally or vertically).

1. -  If your personal fragrance invades the air space within five feet of you – do not wear fragrance to the theatre.

I hope you find these basic tips helpful!  If you have some you would like to add I would love to read them!

 

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Thoughtful Thursdays!

Thoughtful Thursdays!

I have been trying to meditate since August, well actually for a few years but my most recent attempt started in August. I bought a book about meditation, a cd to guide me into meditation and I downloaded the cd so it is on my iphone.

So far that is the progress I have made toward meditating.

Why is this so hard for me to do, to start, to attempt? The thought of being peaceful, quiet and restful for a short period of time each day sounds so ideal to me.  I want to know that I have that time of centering each day.  Yet, along with my regular gym visit that is well intentioned but not accomplished, I make no headway in accomplishing this as a routine.

I think part of the mindset that needs to be corrected is that this isn’t selfish time, but necessary time. Rather than an indulgence it is a basic tool to add to the quality of my day and life. I also think I need to schedule these times as I would a business meeting or an appointment – if it’s on the calendar it’s a commitment. I know this to be true – yet no progress has been made.

For today I will be kind to myself and rephrase my intention – I aspire to meditate.  I will let you know when that aspiration becomes reality!

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Freakin’ Fabulous Friday!

Freakin’ Fabulous Friday!

I had such a great ”streets of New York encounter” on Tuesday in Tribeca – got to say hi to Clinton Kelly!  If that name isn’t familiar to you he is the co–host of What Not To Wear on TLC and The Chew on ABC.

I have always enjoyed Clinton’s insight and advice on What Not To Wear – if someone has made it to the point that their nearest and dearest sent them in as a subject they need that unrelenting honesty! Clinton has a perfect mix of kindness and snarkiness that I appreciate.

One of the cool things about actually running into Clinton was that I got to tell him how much I LOVE his book Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better than Everyone ElseThink Emily Post meets Martha Stewart meets, well Clinton Kelly! This book is a great read, funny but yet very helpful. I think it is a terrific gift for someone just starting out, or perhaps someone needing to start over!

Fabulousness to me is so much more than how you look. Who you are inside, how you act, how you treat others – it’s all part of the package.  Let’s face it – the truly fabulous didn’t get there by accident. Thought, consideration, learning and willingness to take advice all helped along the way. Freakin” Fabulous is definitely that advice book to help you along or help you brush up and get back on the path.

 

 

 

 

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Tortellini & Peas in Cream Sauce!

Tortellini & Peas in Cream Sauce!

This is one of my family’s favorites – adults love it, kids love it and it can become your “go to” anytime you promise to bring a dish.  The recipe is easily multiplied and is definitely not expensive to make.  It also serves as the base for some other delicious dishes coming up!! (Hint – have you ever had Paglia e Fieno?)

Tortellini & Peas in Cream Sauce

2 lbs. cheese tortellini (tri color makes for great presentation)

8 0z. package frozen petitte peas

1 stick of butter

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (can use half and half to lighten it up, but perhaps this isn’t your light recipe to begin with!!)

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

(grated peccorino romano cheese to taste if you like)

fresh parsley for garnish

1.  bring a large pot of salted water to a boil

2.  melt butter in a sauce pan until foamy, add cream

3. stir the butter and cream mixture frequently with a wooden spoon

4. when the water comes to a boil add the tortellini and peas

5.  season the butter and cream with salt and pepper to taste, add cheese here if desired

6. drain the pasta and peas when al dente (or longer to preference)

7.  stir sauce into pasta and peas, taste and season again with salt and pepper if desired

That’s all there is to it!  When plated or placed in a serving dish garnished with fresh parsley it looks great and tastes delicious!!

 

 

 

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Fabulous Fridays!

Fabulous Fridays!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles,” 1992 (commonly misattributed to Nelson Mandela, 1994 inauguration speech)

How often do we hold back who we truly are out of fear?  Fear of not fitting in, of not being good enough, of being lonely of being foolish, of being ridiculed or of being wrong.  What if that fear weren’t there and we put ourselves out into the world as the very best version of ourselves?  What if we tried without being afraid of failure or criticism?

Not all efforts would be successes, but not all would be failures.  The trial and error of discovering who we are, where our true talents lie, would be the journey of an authentic life. What we put out into the world, take us or leave us, comes from our most inner self.

On your way to personal fabulousness first and foremost lose the idea that you will find it by following someone else’s path.  By all means take a look at other’s style that appeals to you, read magazines and blogs, look at catalogs and take in the sights in the mall. Now take all of that information and find what appeals to you, what works for you. Don’t adapt the “uniform” of the moment – regardless of the price of the uniform rather than being a statement of fabulousness it is a statement that you are not secure enough to make your own mark. If you show up to work, or your kid’s school or a night out and you are wearing the same exact  thing as most of the people there – that is not fabulous, it is hiding in safety. The first person that had the look was fabulous, the rest too easily fell into the trap of following the pack. It is probably a very nice looking pack, but if you are seeking out fabulousness this is not the way to get there.

Today take a risk, change it up, try something new.  Head to the back of the closet, the bottom of the drawer. Who knows, the pack may just start following you!!

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Thoughtful Thursdays!

Thoughtful Thursdays!

On a recent flight I listened to Practicing The Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations and Exercises From The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Narrated by the author, this audio book expounds on Tolle’s work The Power of Now focusing on living in the moment and being present to what is happening in your life. Essentially it follows the concept that you cannot recreate the past or predict the future – the only impact you truly have are on your thoughts and actions right now.

I know few people who really have mastered this art, when they speak to you they look in your eye and you know they are focusing all of their attention on you. They consider what you say and respond with thoughtful insight or insightful questions. I aspire to do this, I think there are times when I really do achieve this goal. I feel the difference in the quality and tone of conversations I have when I am totally centered in that moment.  Interestingly, those who do this best are among the truly busiest people I know.

Somehow the concept of multi-tasking, juggling, and busyness equating to importance has taken us over. This being in the moment does not mean that you do less – it means that you are focused on what you are doing. It means that instead of making mile long to do lists we make short, reasonable lists and get the items done. Rather than a day filled with “drive by” conversations and good intentions gone bad we can have a day where we know in a very satisfied way that we have made accomplishments.

This practice is not only valuable to adults, but to teens and children as well. In this world filled with multiple distractions this is a very valuable tool to have. We need to be patient with this practice, realizing that it will take time to become a habit, to become who we are rather than how we do things.

Set aside some time, set a timer if you have to, to be attentive to a task. Practice focusing, sitting down and completing a task from beginning to end. Once you start  accomplishing more each day, the value of this practice will start to take hold. It is the root of having a work ethic, being dependable to yourself and others, and finding fulfillment in what you do.

 

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