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“God did not promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but he did promise the strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way” …..unknown

How do you celebrate your New Year? Do you have any traditions you hold true? Do you make resolutions? Do you make them religiously at the beginning of the New Year? I am always curious about this. We all know the story, we all know that resolutions ultimately fail.  We also know ourselves or others have experienced success making these resolutions. I think the outcome is connected to how we frame the resolutions. Are we reasonable when we make out our lists. Do we set ourselves up to win?  Perhaps your resolutions have failure painted all over them from the moment you make them. Do you set yourself up to fail? I think in the past, I have put too many resolutions down on the list, I overwhelmed myself with too many resolutions, I set myself up to fail.  Do not misunderstand, plain and simple, too many,  yet each one made the list with good intention. The idea of making the list and putting it down on paper is a good thing, it opens one up to the possibilities of those said resolutions.  Those resolutions were good thoughts, forces of growth, and the world of endless possibilities. Let’s be realistic about this.  We all have room for improvement, but does the resolution list have to be all about improvement and “fixing” things?  Perhaps we could frame our resolutions in a different way.  I will be making promises to myself. I know it is just a word, a word I like and feel more comfortable with. Promises vs. resolutions. I think I have a better shot at keeping promises to myself rather than succeeding at a resolution.  A new way to frame It differently, a way to garner a successful outcome.  The promises I am making to myself are an extension of the path that has manifested itself from my experiences over the past year. It is an ongoing process, the journey. I am nowhere near accomplishing what I have set out to do.  I will share them here with you as to inspire you to reexamine your resolutions/promises and how you will frame them to enable yourself for success.  Consider this long list of resolutions you are planning, are they a stretch?  Will they overwhelm you?  Are you setting yourself up to fail?  What would be the point?  I want to clarify here. I am not saying that your resolutions shouldn’t be a stretch, or that that feeling of being overwhelmed is a terrible thing, and certainly I am not saying that you would intentionally set yourself up to fail.  I believe that anything worth accomplishing is worth working very hard to achieve.  What I am asking you to do is to carefully decide on what you put on your resolution list, how important it is to you, and are you willing to do the work required to succeed?  I believe how we frame the process is the start of a wonderful new adventure, Another piece of the puzzle, a continuation of the journey you are already on.  Please examine where you are, where you think you are going, and what you need to get there.  We travel down the paths of our journeys we are building our lives, learning and enriching ourselves with new ways and rhythms to our music.  The point is setting ourselves up to accomplish our resolutions. This is why deciding on what our resolutions are is critical to the process.  Firstly we will have to decide that we will take the process seriously and make the necessary  commitment to your resolutions or plan on adhering to the promises we make to ourselves.  This is a question that begs an answer.  Anything can be accomplished if the commitment is there. We must commit to our success, not just make a list of what we would like to accomplish. Decide on what I it is that you want for yourself.  What is important for you to be working on.  I think a short list of resolutions is what works, whittling down your list down to the essential things you desire to accomplish may spell success.

Here is my essential list of promises I am making to myself:

1.) Work on my practice. What I eat, how I move, what I drink, how I rest and what I think.

2.) Meditate more effectively. Make time to sit and breathe at the same time each day.

3.) Focus on building my business. Set aside a set time each day to grow my business.

See what I mean? Three small promises, they are huge. They are all things I am currently engaged with. My desire is to make the time and the room to grow and improve.  Try it – set yourself up to win. Make your resolutions, or your promises to yourself.  Get up in your new year and begin, each and every day. Your commitment as you move forward into your new year will energize you as you peruse what is important and precious to you.

Oh, one more thing: Love Yourself. No one lifts you up better than you. Loving yourself simply make your life better, it fosters all positive things. It makes you easy to love. It says I am worth it. It says I consider myself as valuable.  The very best part of loving yourself, once you hold that as a truth is is absolutely impossible to hate yourself.  Loving myself has fostered growth.  I love my life and the people in it more fully and completely. Loving myself is a blessing. Loving myself makes the path (journey) less of a struggle, and more like a joy.  It puts me in a wonderful place to to keep my promises to myself. Living in my own skin is pleasurable.  It fits! Be sure to take a peek in the mirror and tell yourself how grateful you are for just who you are. Now for those resolutions/promises………….

“Resolve to never criticize or downgrade yourself, but instead rejoice that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Elizabeth George

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: ConsciousLivingSoul.com

Thanksgiving Quandary ~ Letting Go


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 !!

The Worst Summer of My Life


Ah, the gift of another day, I am grateful. I read my first blog post this morning, and I thought it was a great place to begin. If there is a thread that runs through a life, I’d say I usually get ahead of myself. Here, today I will explain “the worst summer of my life”.  We will get that behind us and move on.  That is what I am doing these days, moving on, firmly planted in a period of acceptance.  It took many days to get to moving on, letting in the idea of acceptance settle in.  Trust me I was stuck, firmly planted in denial. I was stuck in between “old” Karen and “new” Karen. A very surreal place I must say.  I had lost myself in everything that had “happened” to me. I was operating from a place of reaction, I yearned to take action. Confusion set in, I wasn’t sure who “old” Karen was, and I had no idea of who “new” Karen might be. My curiosity was killing me, I just wanted to like my new self, bringing all that was good, all that worked, and a lightness of being with me.  It isn’t that I did not like “old” Karen, I did, I loved her, in fact I missed her. Things had changed and she really did not exist any longer. There it is, opportunity and possibilities, a rebirth. I realize that life changing events are just that life changing. Here is how life changed.

I have been coping with chronic pain for the past forty years, stemming from a car accident. There have been periods of time where the chronic pain was in control of my life. There were other times, when the chronic pain subsided and I was able to cobble together a normal existence.   Presently, after “the worst summer of my life”, I have a foot neuropathy (dropped foot) and severe nerve pain in my lower leg and foot.  Ironically, what appeared to be a simple surgery to repair a couple of screws that were broken in my existing hip prosthetic brought on an onslaught of new challenges. Following the hip revision I experienced a debilitating cellulitis, extreme edema, two hip dislocations and finally another hip revision to install hardware to prevent future dislocations. The takeaway: my hip is fine, but I have what may be a permanent disability and a higher level of chronic pain.

So there, take that Karen! Talk about monkey mind, this has been the norm. I can’t even believe the thoughts I have had, the things I have been worrying about, no rhyme or reason to it at all.  Yet, all the while I have doing my physical therapy diligently and employing whatever tools I can to recover. My leg in general is stronger, my incision has healed beautifully, my edema treated with supplements and herbs is gone, my restrictions have been lifted and I may do my full physical therapy routine, I am riding my new spin bike, and I have reopened my vintage jewelry shop on Etsy. Sounds good doesn’t it? It is and I am very proud of myself, I have come a long way, and I am grateful that I have managed to put all of this together. But wait, I also become the master of my Tupperware smile, become an expert of taking care of my husband taking care of me, and worst of all I am feeling extremely ambivalent. I am emotionally flat, wondering if laughter and joy will ever return. The downside has manifested as sleep deprivation, a loss of appetite, monkey mind, anemia, low hemoglobin levels, and an overall sense of dis-ease. This situation has overwhelmed me on every level. I am a control freak and I am can do Karen. Not this time, I am venerable, I am scared, and I have no control over this situation. I finally had to say, “I need help”.  I went to see my primary care doctor. I adore her, we have a good working relationship, I trust her and she knows me very well. It didn’t take but a few minutes for her to tell me, “you are not yourself, you are depressed”.  Whoa, I am depressed, no that can not be true, not me, other people are depressed, I have never been depressed. Yes I have been depressed, more times than I’d like to admit.  My doctor told me how we would address this and I just let go and said, “ok”.  She prescribed medication for depression and a sleep aid, the medication would lift me up just enough to get out of my own way and the sleep aid would allow me to get some rest. You know why I said ok? Simple, old Karen would have wanted another chance to manage (control) the situation, I had nothing, I just sat there and agreed, I am depressed and I need help. I was relieved, my shoulders relaxed, I thanked her, hugged her, and went to my car and cried like a baby. I went to the pharmacy, picked up my prescriptions and began taking the medication like an obedient child. The next morning I actually felt better. I had really let go, there was a plan coming to light and I was all in.  I made an appointment to see a therapist, my first appointment is this afternoon. Hopefully we will be a good fit and she will be able to help me wade through this period of acceptance. That is where I need to be. No more waiting, wishing and hoping. Acceptance will allow me to move this situation off center stage and begin to move on to a better place. A place I remember, a place where I thrive, a place where laughter and joy are the norm. Now that sounds good, build it she will come. We will see what happens, I am looking forward to the appointment, and I am ready to show up and do my part.

We all have a choice today. We will decide to be part of the solution, or part of the problem? I am certain we all can sustain and grow through life altering events. It hardly matters what the event was, what is important is how we decide to deal with what has occurred. I am curious, wondering what tactics you employ when life has knocked you down? Whatever you are struggling with today, what path will you choose to lift yourself up? We are all coping with something, that’s just life. How will you walk toward the light today? I look forward to hearing from you.

Today I am grateful for letting go ~ accepting help that is available to me ~ my willingness to be open to solutions. What are you grateful for today? May I suggest you keep a gratitude book? More on my gratitude book later, it is clearly one of my most powerful tools.

I pray that you are feeling well and are in the best of spirits today.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo – Quotable magnets, taken by me.