Monthly Archives: November 2014

Holiday Aftermath ~ What a Difference a Day Makes

image

Two kinds of Gratitude: The sudden kind we feel when we take, and the larger kind we feel for what we give. Edwin Arlington Robinson ~ Maine poet

Well, we made it. Thanksgiving is over…… Think of how you felt on Wednesday and how you felt on Friday. Boy oh boy, one little Thursday. You know what they say, “what a difference a day makes”, especially this day. We get so busy prior to the holiday. Life proceeds with all you already are doing, your family, your work, your responsibilities and everything else. We have plenty on our plate, life doesn’t make room for all we have to accomplish leading up to the holiday. We have to manage all the preparations and plans as we move toward the big day, Turkey Day. Life is busy and it gets busier. Maybe dinner is at your house, perhaps you are boarding a plane to a far away place, it could be a drive across the state, or cross town….we need to prepare, we need a game plan, the anticipation builds. We think of all the Thanksgivings past. The good ones and the rough ones. Maybe there was a loved one lost that year and would not be there, or family members who did not get along, or maybe it was the best holiday ever. We anticipate the day our heads filled with all of the memories, the good ones as well as the bad ones. We have high hopes, we look forward to the holiday. We think of seeing loved ones, spending time with old friends, what we will eat, what we will drink, who will say grace, we will think of football and wonder if Jean (mom) is making her delicious and now famous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie….recipe to follow.  Phew, it is quite a day.

We went down to Cape Cod, to our dear friends house, Paul and Joelle. We made it. I was thrilled, I am feeling better and we celebrated Thanksgiving. That was what was important to me. I anticipated nothing more than making it to the Thanksgiving celebration and enjoying the day. What I felt was my gratitude. I hope you felt it too, for the simplest things. I hope you made it through the day, the highs and the lows, whatever the day involved. Try to remember your gratitude, walk away with that, make a happy memory.

I am a survivor. I can happily report all I had to survive is indulgence. My dinner plate was modest, just a taste of all that was offered, a far cry from my usual vegan fare. The biggest culprit, a large slice of carrot cake with a solid half-inch of cream cheese frosting. Ah, sugar, I normally do not partake, well I did and my body let me know I had consumed it.  Additionally I did not drink enough water either!

We traveled home from Cape Cod, it was snowing. We had made plans, and I made it. I was not disappointed. It was so good to see our old friends. We laughed and enjoyed one another’s company. My sweet husband, John and I had a ball, it was playful with plenty of laughs. I had forgotten what it was like to socialize. I love people and it was wonderful to be among them. My sense of humor has returned and that is an old friend I am delighted to welcome back. We were nearly home and I felt so full, of food yes, but of joy too. I could feel the sugar and gosh, I was so thirsty! I would be riding this indulgence out. Well tomorrow is another day, a day to get back on track. A big piece of carrot cake, what was I thinking?  One thing, I love carrot cake! Not so much …It was good to be home with the man I adore. I drank some water. I set the coffee up for the morning. I put the leftovers away. I put on my PJ’s, now that felt good. The day was a fabulous success for us. I felt good, and right then, in that moment, it was all that mattered. John settled in to watch some more football, or snooze. I was off to relax and get ready for bed. I did my bedtime yoga flow. I loved the day. We had a day long text with my family, we shared photos, facts and memories. I enjoyed all of it. I stretched out in my comfy bed and felt grateful, nothing specific just thankful.  Everything seemed right with my world, I drifted off very content.

I am growing my daily practice to encompass all my goals toward well-being, all the essentials toward that goal. My Thanksgiving Day experience reminded me of the importance of my perception of what happens. We do live through everything that happens to us. We need to be very careful to see what is true and real about those experiences. When we glean the truth and the reality of the events of our lives we are much better prepared to have the correct perception. Armed with this clear perception we can move toward dealing with these events, and we undoubtedly be able to deal and cope with all that comes our way. It is a process.

My day after Thanksgiving involved no shopping. Black Friday was another planet to me. I honestly needed to enjoy the holiday a bit longer. The shopping and the getting ready for the next big day, for now, could wait. Patience is a new part of my daily practice, I am learning to enjoy it. I am practicing a new way of perceiving what happens. Today I was looking forward, not to the next big day, just one more good day. Baby steps, I continue to walk toward the light.

Always dazzle, Karen

Jean’s Famous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1/2 c brown sugar divided
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

1 1/4 c evaporated milk
4 eggs separated
1 can 14oz pumpkin
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 c white sugar
1/2 c whipped cream

In the top of a double-boiler mix gelatin, brown sugar, salt and spices. Add the evaporated milk and egg yolks. Place over boiling water. Cook stirring constantly until the gelatin dissolves and thickens 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin. Chill until completely cooled.

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Gradually add the white sugar, beat until stiff. Gently fold in the pumpkin mixture. Fold in the whipped cream.

Turn into a pre-baked pie shells and chill until firm. Makes 2-8″ pies. Decorate with a dollop of Cool Whip* and a dusting of nutmeg.

* this pie became a tradition in our house about the same time Cool Whip was becoming popular. I make real whipped cream to top the pie, the nutmeg is tasty and it looks finished. My mom was always ahead of the curve when it came to her cooking. She was very open to trying new, interesting, and cutting edge recipes of the day. We have all continued to make the pie, and this is a sure way to have a happy recollection of the Thanksgiving holidays gone by. I loved to watch my mother make pie crust, her method was her own, not at all conventional, and it may have looked cobbled together, but it was always the best crust. My dad could tell if a crust wasn’t made by my mother. I hold these memories close to my heart, I can see her hands and I can feel the love. Sit quietly for a while and see what precious memories come to mind. They are in there. It can be the smallest thing, that may have been very big to you when you were a child. I would love to hear what you come up with…..xo

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: KatrinaMayer.com

 

Happiest Clam on the Beach…

image

There is a saying here in New England, “I am the happiest clam on the beach”. I can say this today. It is the day before Thanksgiving. Oh boy, am I grateful. There were many lines I drew in the sand for when I would recover, making plans because by then certainly I would be okay. I planned to travel to a party in New York to see old friends from Horace Greeley High School in mid-July. I did not go. I thought I would surprise my dear friend, Nancy Bueti, a fabulous painter and go to a show she was having. Check out her work here, NancyBuetiArt.com enjoy. I am so happy for her success and her passion for her work. I wanted to see her standing in her own light. I did not. My brother was celebrating his 50th birthday, having a party at his home in LA. Certainly we would attend, it was in October for goodness sakes. We did now go. Now looking back these events that were looked forward to, seem like disappointments along the way. Sure I was disappointed, but life just steps in and says no. I was back in the hospital having my second hip revision. My hip revisions were like bookends, they framed, ‘the worst summer of my life’.

Well another line was drawn in the sand, I was going to be better by Thanksgiving, we made plans to drive down to Cape Cod and have dinner with our dear friends Joelle and Paul. We are going. I am following the rules and my heart and staying on track to wellness. I did not go crazy. There has been no unnecessary people pleasing.  I picked up the deserts I ordered from the Pasty Box. It was actually fun, I am giving myself a break. The pies are gorgeous and the carrot cake is a jewel.  I happily paid one of the lovely women that owns the bakery. I remembered when they opened, I wished them every success. They have arrived, their baked goods are beautifully executed and delicious, reasonably priced too. I could not resist I picked up some Hermits for my husband. They are a favorite of his, future lunchbox treats. It had started raining. I made my way home to prepare my nosh for before dinner, mentally pressing my easy button. I gave myself a break and I felt no guilt.  I felt happy, well-being ahead.

I drove in the driveway and had a bit of a chuckle. There is a nor’easter bearing down on the east coast, from DC to Maine. My weather panic of a few days ago had evaporated. It had begun to sleet, sure to get messier before it would get better. I had finished what I needed to do, I was nearly ready to leave in the morning. We will have a bit of ice, but not much snow. The warm ocean temperature is what is preventing an accumulation of snow in our town. It was a relief. If I could sing I might belt out ‘Everything is Coming Up Roses’ . Paint Karen happy, you get the idea.

I am very focused on my gratitude book. I am truly grateful, more so since I am feeling better. My dark mood has lifted, I am sleeping, and I am quite sure that my iron levels are better as the mid-afternoon fatigue is gone. A few simple tweaks have added up and I just  feel better. It is a relief. There is more work to do. I realized after my appointment with my therapist this week, there is so much to come to terms with. I look forward to the process. The journey continues. Today I am mostly grateful to be feeling better. My energy is increasing and my sense of humor is returning. I think my husband mirrors me and I can see myself through his eyes, if I care to look. I have begun to see myself when I look in the mirror. I hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t looking at myself until I saw myself. That may seem crazy, but it is just true. I smiled at myself in the mirror this morning, saying to myself, ‘it’s going to be a good day. It was unexpected and spontaneous. Fabulous.

i have written here previously that the woman I once no longer existed. I had no idea who I would be once the dust settled. Well, I am still in here bringing it all along with me. That girl did not disappear, she is in a process of acceptance, while she heals and really recovers. How delicious is this? I feel I am coming to terms with the truth. I thought what you go through is not as important as how you deal with it.  I have discovered I was missing a step. I am coming to terms (acceptance)  while carefully considering how I perceive what is happening, and striving to deal with grace and balance. I am not quite standing in my own light, but I know it is there. That is a remarkable improvement and I will stay the course. Today “I am the happiest clam on the beach”….

I wish you all a Thanksgiving Day where you simply feel the love, and let it in. I am humbled by my gratitude.

Always dazzle, Karen

Thanksgiving Quandary ~ Letting Go

IMG_0479

Ah, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a day to consider the week ahead.  This is a different holiday for me this year.  My daughter will not be coming home.  this is usually true.  She is an executive chef and her boyfriend is also a chef. It is difficult to take a block of time off to travel home around the holidays.. Honestly I would rather see them when they have a week and we can go to Cape Cod. So that said, over the past ten years since she graduated from college my husband and I have been on our own. We have very good friends, who live down on Cape Cod and we have celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with them for many years. They come up and bring their adorable, well-behaved dog, Beena, who I adore and they spend the night. We have traveled to see them in their home a couple of times. These arrangements have worked well for all of us.

I was presented with quite a quandary this year the approaching holidays. I saw my primary care doctor in early November. We have made some changes with some pretty remarkable results. One thing she asked me to do was to give myself through the end of the year and beyond the time required to mend, heal and recover from all that I had been through. The request made sense, along the lines of the best gift I can give myself, my family and everyone who loves me is taking care of myself.  I usually go quite crazy through the holidays, I try to be everything to everyone. Not this holiday season. I made a commitment to myself and took my doctor’s advice. I would take care of myself and walk toward well-being. I thought it was going to be more difficult than it has been. Change is not easy. We crave it, but as soon as we put it in place we tend to dig our heels in. Well, I just let go and I let it take shape. I asked our friends if they would like to come up and we would go to a local restaurant, a very nice restaurant with an excellent Thanksgiving menu. We could come back to the house and have dessert, and they would spend the night and we would have a lovely breakfast the next morning. Alternately we could head down their way and meet at an equally famous restaurant for their Thanksgiving menu to celebrate the holiday. I was letting go but I was still trying to control the situation. Well, my sweet friend, Joelle called a few days later after talking with her husband and announced that they would be having Thanksgiving at their home. It was a relief, I had never had Thanksgiving in a restaurant, my heart wasn’t really in it. I asked what I could bring and Joelle replied, “Nothing”. That did not sit well with me, I had to participate somehow. She is not a baker, so I offered dessert and why don’t I bring a little nosh for before dinner. She said, “Okay”. That worked for me, I had something to do. Then Joelle stated, “we well put you in the big chair and make you comfortable and you can really enjoy the day visiting and chatting”. Did I know how to do that? Spend the day visiting, that is something I have never done, and I have been annoyed by people who that is all they do. I usually would be ‘helping’. I was going to give this a shot, remember, new ways to do things and stay on the self-care trail. I felt the guilt creep in. Like when my husband said, “What about leftovers?” I plan on bringing home enough to make his much-loved Thanksgiving Shepard’s Pie, recipe to follow.

I called the Pastry Box, a local bakery nearby, a wonderful bakery with excellent holiday desserts.  Why not? I ordered a pumpkin pie, a pecan pie and a carrot cake, something for every one, certainly. I will pick them up on Wednesday, all boxed up and ready to go. I have a fond memory of going to the bakery with my grandmother, where they would tie up the boxes with twine and attach a little wooden handle, to make transporting easy. Sweet memory. I wrestled with this when I got off the phone. I am a great baker, people like MY pies. I have scoffed at many who have shown up at gatherings with their grocery store fare, store-bought goodness. Some how my homemade offering were some how better, to whom? ME. Ironically what did they do with all that extra time I spent pleasing other people?

I went to my local supermarket last Sunday. It was busy, you could feel it, it was palatable.  I could see many customers were laying in supplies for the BIG day. They were doing that pre-holiday first shopping. Purchasing everything they could and returning just to buy the fresh ingredients. Was I jealous? Perhaps just a little bit, a pang. I was trying to do things in new ways, I was taking care of me now. I made my way around, there were so many tasting tables, from the main course meats to dessert. I imagined my week ahead, the first thing I thought is I would have already done that pre-holiday shop and would be spending this Sunday deep in preparation. I would normally be cooking and getting ready all week-long. Not this year. I drove in the driveway feeling perfectly content with my week ahead. I will work. I will pop in the market and purchase the items for my nosh.  Joelle loves good triple creme cheeses (she’s French, figures), I will get what she loves. I will also find her a fine red wine, for her to drink at her leisure.  I will go to the bakery, think of my grandmother, Mildred and the bakery I visited with her, and I will pick up those ordered desserts and I will smile. I will mentally press my EASY button. I will be okay, I really do not require all that praise that comes from high performance. What I need is self-care.

I will shower and dress up on Thursday morning. We will have a delicious breakfast, my husband will certainly enjoy that, I will enjoy making it. We will make the drive to the Cape to arrive around 11 or so. I think as we travel, it is just a bit over an hour, I will be watching the scenery. I will hold my husband’s hand occasionally as we go, and I will feel VERY grateful. I will have accomplished something I could not even imagine. Letting go to focus on my well-being. The ironic thing about being a control freak is no one really ever notices what you do or don’t do, you are the only one who notices. Please make those necessary changes for the better whatever they may be. Dip your toe into that pool of freedom. Lift yourself up, give yourself a break, enjoy yourself and delight in the room that is created when you let go. The life changing possibilities are endless, trust me, you will notice and it will feel absolutely grand.

I hope this finds you feeling grateful, always dazzle, Karen

Karen’s Thanksgiving Leftovers – Shepard’s Pie – quite simple actually. this all depends on what is left over.  The more leftovers the better especially if there is a variety.  Making one for your family use a 9″ pie plate or a casserole dish. This is also a wonderful way to send your guests home with tidy leftovers. You can find small foil pie tins, with covers. the idea is layering. I like to start by patting down stuffing in the bottom of the dish, like a crust. Then simply layer the ingredients creatively, topping it with some gravy then ‘frosting’ the pie with mashed potatoes. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 until bobbling hot. It is a good idea to bring it to room temperature before popping it in the oven. Yumbo !!

Hey, I had a GOOD Day

unknown

If you don’t think every day is a good day, just try missing one.
Cavett Robert

I have said many times over the past few months, “this isn’t what I thought I’d be doing right now”. Well I am saying that again now. I planned and wrote a different post. But wait, today was a very good day. I feel compelled to share it. It seemed like any other day of recent memory. I awoke at 4:30 AM, yes I know very early, but it is when I begin my day. You can say, I am a morning person. More importantly it is something I can do and I am focused on what I can do these days, not what I can’t. I like to have breakfast with my sweet husband, John. It is a good way to start our day. I make him a hot breakfast each morning and I make his lunch. Making him breakfast is a lovely tradition in our house. Some of his friends (men) promised him when we were dating once we married that hot breakfast was history. Not at all to prove them wrong (well, maybe a little bit), I enjoy it. A healthy lunch he enjoys is also important.  I love seeing him off to work. After he left I rode my bike, I have worked up to 15 minutes twice a day. The bike is so good for my overall well-being and healing. I am exercising my muscles that can’t work themselves, and are atrophied due to the nerve damage. The does not require that I can lift my foot, which is a joy, because I can’t lift my foot. I have been so inactive with my precautions with my PT when I get off the bike and I have those little tingling sensations in my butt and legs, like I once experienced after a long walk, it feel so good and it lifts me up. I think the endorphins are good, and it is improving the quality of my appetite and sleep.

My physical therapist, Ellen came for a session She was here for me through my hip surgery four years ago, she has been with me through my two hip revisions this summer. She is fantastic. She is kind and patient. Her encouragement is priceless. We have become friendly and I am a bit sad that Thursday will be our last session. The good news, she believes I am ready. I really like seeing her, she has brightened many a day. I know how to do my PT and I will do it religiously.  I am honored to do the work that works toward my recovery. I made her some of my fabulous granola, a small parting gift. It is perfect, she loves cereal. We are certain to be in touch as we have a bond.

I had a couple of unexpected phone calls, from two of my favorite people. I found myself being very engaged, less flat and very much interested in our conversations. Was I feeling more like myself, I think I was. Both of my friends noticed. I noticed too.

The day continued. I did some work in my Etsy shop. I have a vintage jewelry shop. I had re-opened my shop on Labor Day, quite fitting I thought. It had been closed for three months as I was unable to work.  The shop re-opened to a flurry of activity and seven orders right from the smash. I was thrilled, and encouraged as well. Thing then went totally flat. I can happily report that I usually have orders each day, or one or two days between orders. The initial flurry died down and nine days went by with not a single order. Something was not right. I chalked it up to being closed and needing to get back up on the search engines. One day last week I went downstairs to do some laundry, I walk through my studio to get to the laundry room. I stopped in the studio and turned on the light. What I saw, for the first time, horrified me. My studio was lifeless, I had no custom work, my bench look lonely. It was dusty, I saw a few cobwebs, the chi was perfectly awful. It looked like a place where something wonderful had happened there and then for some reason it stopped. I wasn’t happening at all. This was a revelation, I set about making the necessary changes. Simple things like cleaning, I felt myself coming alive, invigorated about my work, my studio and my shop. I also realized that I had not been very engaging with my customers since reopening. I wasn’t in touch with other shop keeps I was friendly with. I wasn’t connecting on social media. I was flat, the shop was flat, but I knew how to change that. I have worked so hard. I learned so much building my business, I experienced success. Okay, we are on our way back! I wanted to contribute to the household, and I wanted my income stream back. That afternoon I engaged like I knew how. I was even a bit animated. I was still in here. That evening I had two sales and sales are increasing. Things are looking up and feels great. Keep doing the things you can, and for goodness sakes do them well.

I had some lunch, focusing on my protein intake. I am what I eat. I set about making that yummy granola and baked two loaves of pumpkin bread with craisins and toasted pecans. The house smelled wonderful. I put some music on. I love music, where had the music been? One loaf of pumpkin bread for my husbands lunch and a loaf for my friend I was getting together with tomorrow night.

Yes, I have plans out in the world with a dear friend. I will be driving, driving at night which I have not done since the spring….baby steps. Fantastic! I had a call from her, we firmed up our plan and gosh, it just felt great. I did another fifteen minutes on my precious bike, a ride to well-being. I worked on my planned post and thought I am having a good day. I must write about that. This may on the surface seem pretty mundane, my day, it was. But not to me. It had a sparkle to it. I was seeing and thinking about things just a little bit differently. Dare I say, feeling like myself. That my darlings is miles from mundane…..

So really, truly, no crosses count, hands down, one good day. I haven’t thought about a day being good in a very long while. Am I back on track? I pray it will grow and continue in that direction. I am sure the Prozac is helping, I know the iron supplements are, I am sleeping and most of all I remain hopeful, prayerful and grateful. This day added up to good and I say bring ’em on……..

Hoping this finds you in the best of spirits.

Always dazzle, Karen