In the Company of Men

Let me start by saying how much I LOVE my daughter, sisters, soon to be daughter-in-law, girlfriends…and all the women in my life in general (miss you Mom!)  They’ve held me up & supported me. We’ve listened to each other, laughed and cried together and I don’t know how I’d survive without them!  .…..BUT

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A few weeks ago I had two fun opportunities…a Duffy ride around Newport Harbor with a few couples and having cocktails with my brother-in-law and his two long-time friends (shout out to the two Michaels!)  These two experiences…along with others in the past few years…have made me realize how much different it is to be in the company of men.  The banter is different!  It’s not better or worse, but, for me, it’s fun and interesting to see and hear that difference of opinion, that difference in a guys take on things, that difference in their humor. I’ve lived alone now for three and a half years, and as I said earlier, have been held up by the women in my life, but it’s also made me really appreciate the times I get to spend with men….and it’s just friends I’ve known for a long time, nothing romantic about it.  Sure Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus  , (okay some dispute that assertion), and their differences are definitely worth studying in order to understand and relate to one another more clearly as couples (hindsight is always 20/20 right?), but merely being in the company of men has made me truly appreciate and enjoy our differences.  Not that I didn’t appreciate it before, but I’ve definitely taken more notice of it….as I’ve had less of those interactions.

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I still think that if I meet someone it will be organically…because I’m pretty sure I’ll never go as far as this girl to find that special person (never say never, as my mom always said) but she sure is a determined one!!

Of course, I relish and look forward to future events with family and friends….and especially the camaraderie and community of my old neighborhood where there will be more parties and occasions that include some really great men….and their awesome wives, whom I love!

I’m going to garage sales looking for treasures for my new/old home this weekend with the girls in the ‘hood!  ….and I’ll also try to get to this little lighthouse treasure (below) in Laguna Beach too if I get a chance (thanks to Linda for finding it!) Wishing all of you a fabulous weekend!

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You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

The Attitude of Gratitude & the Thank-list

“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
– Meister Eckhart

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Gratitude is something that needs to be practiced.  Yes, I’m a grateful person most of the time, and maybe you are too, but we all have times where we lapse into feelings of “oh, poor me!”  The great thing is that it’s so easy to turn that frown upside down…silly, but it just came to me & I had to write it!  Robert A. Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, is an expert on gratitude and has done extensive studies, along with some colleagues, on the subject.  He says there is a difference between feeling grateful and the conscious choice of being grateful.  In other words, illness, death, divorce, joblessness are all very stressful events in one’s life and you can acknowledge that they suck, but still cultivate gratefulness and in doing so, help the situation and your feelings about it.  He continues that an attitude of gratitude is essential in getting through tough times and has the power to heal.  “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”  He offers these suggestions….

  • Remember the bad: Think back to when you were at a low point and remember how far you’ve come since then.
  • Re-frame the present: Don’t ignore the negativity of a painful event. Instead, find moments of gratitude — small glimmers of hope — that grew from the experience. This will help you gain perspective and encourage positivity where you least expect it.

….or maybe you’re just going about your daily life, without any turmoil or difficult event, but it’s still important to practice gratitude.  Here are some suggestions that I’ve gleaned from multiple websites (and my own practice)…just doing one will be a positive experience, I promise!

  • Write in a gratitude journal.  Studies have shown that doing this for just 3 weeks can increase happiness by 25%
  • Use a gratitude jar if you’re more of a visual person.  It can be as easy as writing one word or sentence on a little slip of paper and throwing them in a mason jar (read them whenever you need a little boost)….. or throwing your lose change in a jar while thinking about something your grateful for and then donating the money to charity when the jar is full.
  • Practice grateful thinking…maybe while meditating…or just while lying in bed before you start your day…or on your morning walk.  You’d be amazed that by doing this simple thing, consistently, your whole outlook on life will change.

Emmons also notes that practicing gratitude directly correlates with better functioning in life by taking control of happiness.  It also seems to compel people to give back to society, because they are so grateful for what they have.  Basically it’s a win, win for the world in general!

…or if you need more convincing…and sometimes I just learn better from listening instead of reading something… just check out this youtube video from Emmons….

American Greetings has started a movement called the Thanklist where you can publicly thank anyone for just being a part of your life….or any other random Thank You…a tangible gesture of gratitude.  I love the concept, but I’m not crazy about the fact that they have to have access to all kinds of your online info/contacts, etc in order to post a “thank you” (I guess that’s what every website does though, right?)  But the idea is so awesome and why not just send a postcard or letter to someone with the same message.  Not necessarily a “thank you” card, but just a “I’m thinking of you” random card.  Everybody loves to get snail-mail in this highly digital age…and my (soon to be) daughter-in-law, Kate, has taught me (at the age of 54!) that it’s still so great to get a handwritten letter (I got a great one today…thanks Kate!) She has inspired me to try to write more letters…starting today….join me!

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…..read this lovely article Snail Mail: The Art of Correspondence  to inspire you
to put your pen to paper

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

The Earth Laughs in Flowers…Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Trader Joes peonies are finally in!

I was looking through some pictures on my phone and realized I had a lot of floral arrangement pics…some my own and some random ones taken in various places (I can’t believe I don’t have any of my sister-in-law, Ann’s, amazing arrangements…she’s been a floral designer for over 30 years)  When I see a beautiful arrangement I just have to capture it…although sometimes my photography skills can’t quite capture their beauty!  The only thing is, what do you do with a picture of a floral arrangement?  You share them of course!! Happy Weekend to you! ….Oh…and if you haven’t seen Pitch Perfect 2 go this weekend…fun movie!!  Enjoy….

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side view..asparagus wrapped vase

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Succulent beach garden by my friend Elaine

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Christmas rose arrangement by Mare

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Flowers and shells…a perfect combo

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

You Can Go Home Again!!

I’m going back to this welcoming, red, dutch door

I write this blog because I love to write, it’s fun, and most importantly to me, to share and leave memories, thoughts, philosophies, daily affirmations, etc… not only for me (cause I don’t remember anything!), but for my kids and my future grand-kids.  I started writing in a journal a little over three years ago and here are some random thoughts on my three year journey…

Leaving Tustin, July 2012…I didn’t want to live alone with memories…too much space, too sad…knowing that some of them would not live on…but I LOVED that home!
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Diamond, Balboa Island, July, 2012…it was a cocooning experience that enveloped me and, although sad and confusing at times,  gave somewhat a feeling of relief of not living up to someone else’s expectations of who I should be. I was in a cute small space surrounded by the pictures and memories that I loved…and a little outdoor space to entertain in. My friend, Mac, said “it’s like a little Paris apartment!”   It was isolating being in the back, above the garage, but I took my beach chair & book down to the beach almost every day to escape the isolation and be part of the balboa island community…walking everywhere, like a small city.  My mom moved in 2 doors down…I got to see her every day for two months, which was such a gift…and I loved my landlady, Margaret.  Margaret and my mom went on a few outings together…a movie and bridge at the local yacht club.  My mom passed away…and then Margaret passed away a few months later…surreal, but somewhat of a bonding between our two families.  Lots of laughs and memories on our first mother’s day without them.

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The Cottage

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Amazing View

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Cabrillo, Lido Peninsula, July 2013…So happy to have a place to call my own…decorate and have room for both my kids.  Amazing view, amazing space…just perfect, even if a bit small….  ….but there were other plans for me! I didn’t know it at the time, but my last dinner party would be my book club meeting for “Boys in the Boat” on Tuesday, August 14, 2014.  On Wednesday morning I spent some time on my computer researching a property tax law that had been looming over my head & pertained to my impending 55th birthday in 2015.  So…after my research it was clear…I needed to move back to my HOME in Tustin.  There was a real estate bubble in my cute cottage neighborhood for a very short time.  I put it on the market, it sold before it was even listed and I made a very nice profit in the year I was there.

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Downsizing…again

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Marine, Balboa Island, Sept 2014..I literally had less than 10 days to find a place (contingencies had to be lifted on Cabrillo and closing was soon after).  I checked with my realtor from my days on Diamond and there was a studio, with garage, above my friend’s bookstore.  I didn’t think I wanted to do a year lease (since I’d be moving in July) but I didn’t have much time and realized I could use the garage for storage..and save that money.  Win Win!  This place is small, but has been easy to live in (once I moved the furniture around).  I love the light, the intoxicating smell of garlic from the neighboring restaurant, the grunt of the sea lions in the distance & the voices of the community I can hear outside my window….and coincidentally it’s owned by the same landlords as my original BI apartment on Diamond.

Six weeks until I call this “HOME” again

BACK HOME AGAIN, Tustin, July 2015….AAAAHHH! Time heals all wounds, they say.  When I left three years ago it was for many reasons and I truly thought I would not, and could not mentally, ever go back…at one point I even asked my tenants if they’d like to buy it.  Thank God they said “no”!  I am counting the days ’til I return to this unmatched suburban paradise.  My neighbors and I have watched our children grow, gone on numerous vacations together, supported each other through some really crazy times and just loved hanging out.  A new influx of younger families has moved in and rejuvenated the streets with the same activities that our kids enjoyed.  Okay, as one neighbor put it, “it can be a little stepford at times”…but really an unbelievable shangri-la.  I can’t wait to spend the summer back HOME, with parties on the lawn, mahjong within walking distance again and a feeling of security….with the added bonus of my daughter and future son-in-law living with me for awhile.  The new wall-words that will go up “…in the end a beach house is just a state of mind” and from my Dublin friend, Gina, this Irish proverb  “Níl aon tinteán ná do thinteán féin” which literally means ‘there’s no hearth like your own hearth’ or translated “no place like home”…Perfect!!

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New artwork for my Tustin “beach-house”

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters,
in the end.”…Ernest Hemingway
(thanks to cest christine for this quote)

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Mondays…Life, What a Ride!!

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Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!….
Hunter S. Thompson

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Food Porn and Chef’s Table

Food Porn….Wright Cooking

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Closet Cooking

Okay…I put “Food Porn” in the title to get your attention, but I do have an insatiable appetite for pics of well photographed and styled food.  I love the “still life” feeling of them and the desire to either make the dish being photographed or immediately get on a plane to go to a restaurant in a distant city…and maybe one just down the road.  Some of my favorite Instagram-ers of food porn are Wright Kitchen (pic above), Closet cooking (amazing recipes on this site) and S.Gurrity, one of my favorites!…check them out!

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Speaking of food, I just stumbled upon an awesome new series on Netflix called Chef’s Table!  It was created by David Gelb, most notable for producing Jiro Dreams of Sushi…another must see documentary.  At first I just thought I’d like it because they were talking about food, chef’s, recipes and restaurants.  Wow, was I wrong!  My plan was to binge watch the six one-hour episodes, but I’ve only watched two of them, because now I kind of want to savor the experience.  The first in the series is focused on Chef Massimo Botturamossimothe chef/owner of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin star restaurant in Modena, Italy.  Osteria Francescana was named one of the S. Pellegrino 50 best restaurants in the world in 2014.  It was interesting to hear about his life and the history of how he became a chef from watching his mother cook and hiding under his grandmother’s kitchen table to escape his brother.  But the most fascinating part of this episode, to me, was how he created a recipe that saved the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, where he grew up, from financial ruin after a devastating earthquake in May 2012.  The earthquake destroyed millions of pounds/wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  The President of the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium (who knew there was such a title?) came to Massimo asking for help.  Massimo created a recipe titled “Risotto Cacio e Pepe” using a unique method of simmering the cheese in water to make parmesan broth, separating it into layers and then using the different layers to cook risotto into a unique, creamy, one-of-a kind, irresistible dish (it’s quite a process.)  He publicized the recipe and every noteworthy restaurant around the world wanted to make it. The restaurants bought up all of the wheels of cheese, no jobs were lost and no cheese-maker went out of business in Modena.  What a great story about the power of food and how it can unify people and save a whole city/region in the process.  I loved hearing the rest of his family story too, but you’ll just have to watch it for yourself.

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Dan Barber, the Executive Chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Dan Barber, the Executive Chef and co-owner of Blue Hill & Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

The second episode is about Dan Barberthe chef at Blue Hill Restaurant in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Hudson Valley.  This guy is PASSIONATE about bringing back farming and eating to it’s roots…now, fashionably, known as farm-to-table.  He takes it to new heights!  He supports good agriculture and good farming…meaning that a farm (he works with many) should work as a small self-sustaining, or inter-connected, unit that can sell their pure product to him, and other, restaurants.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but, for instance, they feed some of their free roaming chickens a kind of red pepper puree and the result is a “red pepper egg,” red yolkwhich is quite a unique item to offer to restaurants.  The farms rotate crops, raise animals humanely and offer the milks, cheeses and crops from their farms to restaurants.  Barber also has an interesting story and ponders whether being a restaurateur and inviting people to eat at the table is his attempt to fill the void left by the death of his mother when he was only four.  Again, you’ll have to watch to hear the rest of his very focused, obsessive relationship with food.  I like this quote from him after a big catering mishap in his early years as a chef, “Failure is very important.  It introduces you to an idea that you never want to return to.”

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Blue Hill at Stone Barn

Bon Appetit!!

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Mondays…Your relationship with YOU

Photograph by Yu Tsai Diane Von Furstenberg
“The most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself.  If you figure that out, every other relationship is a plus and not a must.”….Diane von Furstenberg

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Rowing…get in on the action!

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 I love this quote, taken from this article by Amy Yao on the sport of rowing

Do I have you hooked yet?!  Our team is having two upcoming sweep rowing camps (sweep rowing is what we do in 4+ & 8+…only holding one oar, usually with a coxswain, as opposed to sculling, which is with two oars each).  Here are the specifics….

  • Intro to Sweep Rowing is a two day event…Saturday, 6/27, 7:30-9:30 am & Sunday, 6/28, 8:30-10:30 am
  • 8 week Sweep Camp for Novices (7/11, 7/18, 7/25, 8/1, 8/8, 8/15, 8/22, 9/5 – 8:45 am to 10:15 am)

Both take place at Newport Aquatic Center in Newport Beach.  If you’re interested just email me and I’ll put you in contact with the team member that is coordinating it.

Don’t you want to start your day with this beautiful scene???

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“the early morning hours just as the sun conducts the opening stanzas of the day”…from this article on how Rutgers is betraying their rowing tradition.

Lastly…good luck to my team as we travel to Sacramento to race in the Gold Rush Masters Regatta.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Sundays, Menopause, & Forgetfulness

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I love Sunday mornings when I sit for hours reading the NY Times, while enjoying too much coffee and bacon.  The reason it takes me hours to finish is due to my newly self-diagnosed A.D.D. (not really, but it sometimes seems that way!)  Every time I read an article that I find really interesting, a book that I should read, or a movie that warrants a view of the trailer, I go over to my desktop computer (no, I don’t have a laptop) to do a bit more research.  So, this past weekend I was doing my usual back and forth…my place is probably less than 200 sf so it’s not much of a walk… and I look at emails, click on various links, and get sucked in.  I went back over to resume my paper reading and realized I never looked up the movie or the article I went over to the computer to “research” in the first place! (by the way, the movie was Saint Laurent, coming out this Friday, about the designer Yves St. Laurent…can’t wait!)

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Anyway, this leads me to a dilemma that plagues those of us in middle age (please don’t tell me it’s just me!)  Your doing something….working, cooking, reading or just sitting at your computer…and you suddenly realize you forgot to do something, or you need to get something from the other room.  By the time you get to the other room, or sit down to do that something you forgot, you have totally forgotten what it is you were looking for or needed to do…WTF!!!  I used to be such a list-maker when my kids were young just to make sure everything got done…their schedules, housework, meals, shopping, etc…and it usually did.  At what point did I think it was a good idea to just try to remember all those things?….because there were less people in the house or there was less to remember?menopause2

I was also reading an article in MORE magazine….a magazine “for women of style or substance” which, when they first published, meant women OVER 40, but this month they have 34 year old Jessica Alba on the cover…whatever, I still love it and the relevant information it provides women.  They had a whole section titled “New Health Rules at 30,40, 50 & 60.”  So, I jumped to the “50’s” section and found the following information….”go easy on the salt to preserve your calcium; limit added sugars to 100 calories a day (6 tsp) to avoid high blood pressure; eat 2 or more servings of fish a week to maintain your hearing; my favorite, do eight squats three days a week to protect your knees (to my team-mates…ONLY eight squats…really??..YAY!!…although we’d never get faster!); and lastly, you don’t have to take iron any more assuming menopause has kicked in.  That’s the synopsis….you’re welcome.

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Speaking of menopause, my friend Barrie sent a group of us this NY Times article giving us the news that hot flashes can last up to 14 years.  I could have told you that!  “The median length of time women endured symptoms was 7.4 years” according to researchers in the largest examination to date of the menopausal symptom.  The amount of years women “suffered”…that’s my word….varied depending on ethnic background and how early the symptoms began.  Unfortunately for those who started having hot flashes early, they continued longer than for those that didn’t start having them until after their periods stopped (they didn’t include hysterectomy patients in their findings, whose symptoms do start earlier than others, so this study doesn’t really apply to me, but I feel like I’ve had them forever!)  A word of wisdom…just invest in a lot of tank tops and be ready to shed layers as need be….and personal fans work wonders…in the car, on your desk, in your purse…ugh!  It’s gonna happen, you just have to go with it!  Acupuncture and herbs have helped some.

So, I guess all this is to say that shit happens as you get older that you may not have control over…but you have control over the way you respond to them.  I’m going to go back to making lists instead of relying on my feeble memory so much, and invest in more of those tank tops!  …and never stop eating bacon, drinking coffee and reading the Sunday NY Times!

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!