Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sublimely Silent Breakfast

Q: What do you do when it is 10am, you still haven't eating breakfast, you've run 4 miles and need some restorative calories, and you are about to get on a conference call and don't want to be slurping and chomping into the phone?
A: You whip up a silently sip-able and delicious breakfast in the form of a smoothie.  Mine is protein and potassium packed, making it a great recovery drink, and I split it with little J, who got kind of hot on the run himself.  He sucked it down and asked for more, so this was a win-win all around.
SMJ and Little J's Favorite Smoothie
6 ice cubes
1/2 banana
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup calcium-fortified vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon honey
1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
small handful blueberries
Throw all ingredients in blender.  Blend until combined.
Serves 1.5

*Please note: I had no time for photos this morning... I was truly on the fly.  So I found the beautiful photo above on All Recipes, where it illustrates a recipe for a Banana-Peach Buttermilk Smoothie which looks divine... try both recipes while the weather is still toasty!

Monday, August 30, 2010


Mine is a household that takes appetizers seriously.  As we've discussed before, the husband is a sucker for chips and salsa, and I would be happy to have cheese and crackers for dinner any day of the week. In fact, dinner of appetizers is one of my favorite dinners, hands down.  However, our cheese spreads have been getting old, and aren't the healthiest option, and the brutal heat is back, meaning lighter and more refreshing fare was in order to accompany our Sunday evening barbecue sesh.  I thought a bounty of fresh veggies would be just the thing, but lest we be too virtuous, they'd need a dip to make them special. When I am in the mood for perfection, I always turn to Ina, who never lets me down.  

The Pan-Fried Onion Dip in the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is a play on the French onion dip we all grew up eating (packet of French onion soup + container of sour cream = 80s party staple), but this version of that classic is so much more complex and flavorful than the original.  Why?  Because instead of using dried, sodium-crusted onions, you caramelize fresh onions into ooey, gooey perfection, and blend them with a melange of creamy items until the whole thing is ridiculously smooth and dreamy.  Honestly, how can you even compare this:
To this:
You can't. 
There's nothing like keeping it fresh.  Try this while all the harvest veggies are at their finest.  YUM.
The Barefoot Contessa's Pan-Fried Onion Dip
2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

1) Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) 
2) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.
3) Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of an Era

My parents moved out of their house this week.  I was thinking I'd just gloss over that little happening in our lives on SMJ... maybe find some cute fall trouser-jeans or another good pasta dish to post about, but I've realized I just can't.  It is the end of an era for our family and this move of my parents' is major, and it is tugging on my heart this week in a way that just can't be ignored.  So, I'm writing about this today in an attempt to get some closure, and also in an homage to a place my whole family called home for the last nine years.
Nine years may not sound like a lot to those of you whose parents stay in one place for decades, who always come home to the same place with the same tchotchkes that have been there since you were a child.  In my family, however, nine years is about an eternity.  Wherever my parents land next will be their twelfth house they've lived in my thirty-three years, so you do the math... we moved a lot.  The home where my parents most recently lived was one they built themselves on the beach in Maine, and a place where a lot of big life things happened.  My sister was married at this house, baby J had his naming there.  We all boomeranged back there at one point or another as well.  I spent one particularly rough patch of 2003 living briefly in the foyer (don't ask), but most recently, as you all know, our whole little family set up camp there for about four months while we figured out what life would like in Boston.
The hub, the babe and I moved 3 times in his first year of life, and it was hard on me.  I went back to work before I was ready, I never quite hit my sweet spot of being a working mom in those first months back, and my body chemistry rebelled against me, making me anxious and sleepless more often than not.  By the time we landed at my parents house in February, I felt raw and fragile, and more than a little exhausted.  Being at the beach healed me.
Every day, my parents and B would leave for work, and eventually I'd get little J down for a nap, and then I'd head out to their porch.  I'd work out there, think out there, conduct endless conference calls and other business out there, pacing back and forth across the granite steps; but no matter what I was doing, the ocean stretched out in front of me, and it soothed my soul right to the very core.  In the warm embrace of my family home and the endless sea, I found my little bit of peace again, and started to find my way back to my self.  Beyond every dinner around my parent's massive dining room table, beyond every party we threw in the great room for every engagement or expected baby or graduation, the time we spent there this spring will always mean the most to me.  It was part time passing and part family and part chemistry that helped bring me back, but the house was the setting, and for that I will always be grateful.
I know a few things for sure: that wherever my family is is home to me, and that can never be defined by the walls of any house.  I know that wherever my parents land next will grab on our hearts the same way, thanks to my mom's uncanny ability to make spaces inviting and beautiful.  I also know they won't be too far from the ocean and the beach that we all hold so dear.  With a short drive, we'll be able to walk the same walks and see the same views... this doesn't have the finality of a cross-country move or anything like that.  But as we say goodbye to the gray-green cupboards, the collection of heart rocks on the porch and in the yard, the cool concrete floors and the yard rolling down to the sea, I have to pause and give thanks.  Thanks that we lived in such a beautiful place, thanks that our family forged through good and bad times there to emerge together with strength and love, thanks to the ocean that soothed each of us in its own way.  And thanks to my parents, whose love for us and for each other is filled with goodness and grace, and makes any space one worth calling home. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rainy Night Comfort Food

Can I even tell you how much I am loving this weather?  In Boston, it is rainy and 65-ish, and I am savoring every minute of it.  The past few weeks of baking hot weather might be nice under other circumstances (beach, umbrella drink, good book) but have been rather patience-testing in our current reality (moving, unpacking, organizing, working like fiends).  I was born in Portland, Oregon, and the Oregonian in me will always have a soft spot for dark, rainy days.  I just love the cozy feeling that comes from being able to hole up inside, don a few layers, and cook something superbly delicious, especially as a respite to all the heat and hectic-ness we've been through lately.  We had a busy weekend of moving furniture from my parents' house to ours and generally dealing, so this chilly Monday evening was the perfect time to settle in and rest with some Italian comfort food.

At Whole Foods last week, I spied some Niman Ranch Uncured Ham and impulse bought it.  Ham and other pork products don't come naturally to my cooking lexicon, you'll be shocked to find out.  Growing up in a Jewish home, pork products were just non-existent, even though we never kept kosher.  Now, the husband has shown me the piggy light, and I am coming around adding things like guanciale or pancetta to dishes, but it still rarely occurs to me to buy pork chops or ham at the store.  Nonetheless, this ham steak looked beautiful and all-natural to boot, and I decided it had to be mine.  But what to do with it?
Hello, Radiatore with Ham and Peas.  Where have you been all my life?
1 lb. radiatore pasta (I used veggie radiatore from Trader Joe's and it was delish, but any variety could work, as would orchiette or shells)
1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 green or yellow tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
~6 oz. ham steak (preferably all natural, uncured... this Niman Ranch one was phenomenal), cubed
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1) Prepare pasta according to package instructions.
2) Heat the butter in a deep skillet.  Add the minced garlic and saute until golden, about 3 minutes.
3) Add the chopped tomatoes and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes more.
4) You'll likely be running out of liquid at this point, so add the olive oil as you add the ham steak and peas.  Saute until the peas are cooked through and the ham starts to brown a bit, about another 3-5 minutes.
5) Add the half-and-half and turn the heat to low.  Allow the mixture to reduce and thicken as you drain the pasta.
6) Add the drained pasta and the cheese to the skillet and mix well to combine.  Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 4-6 people.

Health food this is not, unless we're talking about the health of the soul.  This was such a gratifying and comforting meal, and although it does have a bit of cream and butter, a reasonably sized bowl left me feeling perfectly full and not over-indulged.  Everything in moderation, right?  With a glass of wine and some good dinner conversation, this was just the thing for rainy late summer evening.  Oink.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Easy Going Quinoa Salad

I've sung the praises of quinoa here before, but let's recap: an ancient grain, quinoa is a complete protein unto itself, and it has a nutty, toothsome crunch that is oh-so-satisfying.  It cooks in 15-minutes, and is a perfect base for any number of whole-lunch salads.  My last quinoa creation was Heidi Swanson's Double Broccoli Quinoa , which was delicious and nutrient-rich to be sure, but a little garlic-heavy for certain customers.  Not only is my recipe way less labor-intense than that one, it is also way less garlic-intense, so hopefully the husband enjoys it too.  It is so not intense in anyway, I have named it...
Easy Going Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup silvered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 crowns broccoli, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste 
1) Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add quinoa and salt.  Bring down to simmer and cover.  Cook for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed, and the quinoa has fluffed-up and started to uncurl.
2) Heat a dry frying pan on high-heat.  Add the almonds.  Toast them for several minutes until brown and fragrant (DO NOT walk away during this time -- toasted can turn to burnt very quickly -- but just keep tossing them and they'll toast beautifully).
3) Add the almonds and cranberries to a large bowl.
4) In the same frying pan, cover the bottom with water.  Add the chopped broccoli florets and cover, steaming them for just a few minutes until they are bright green.  By this time your quinoa should be cooked.  Drain the broccoli and add it and the quinoa to the bowl with the nuts and berries.
5) Mix the vinegar, oil, mustard and honey together in a small bowl to create a dressing.  Add the feta and dressing to the salad and toss well.
6) Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Can be served warm immediately, or will keep well for several days.  Serve a scoop over a bed of greens or spinach for a powerhouse lunch!
So easy, you'll have time to take a nap.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Place of Yes

What's the difference between being flexible and being a doormat?  Between being up for anything, a free spirit, a relaxed and unstructured person, and being an overextended flake?  Where do you draw the line between being a team player and spreading yourself too thin for the sake of the group?  Between "coming from a place of yes" (as my girl Bethenny likes to say) and just straight up being a "yes man" who can't be relied upon to express her true preference or emotions as they are masked by her eagerness to please?  In my new incarnation in life, these are questions I find myself pondering.

I am what you call a people-pleaser.  I'm a Libra who is constantly balancing either side of any given decision from what topping to put on my pizza to what direction to take my career.  I can often see all the positives and negatives of any choice all too clearly and become paralyzed by my own analysis.  I know I am not alone in this.  As a mom, and a work-at-home mom in particular, this territory becomes all the more fraught.  Having a baby requires an immense level of flexibility (thought you'd be out the door by 10am?  WRONG!  The baby's fallen asleep and you don't dare wake him, or perhaps he's smeared plum pieces all over the floor, and you need to clean them up or come home to a cloud of fruit flies... but I digress...).  I learned within the first weeks of little J's life that I'd have to let go of some of the control and planning I usually hinge my sanity on, and learn to live life at a different pace where curveballs are the norm and plans often go out the window at a moment's notice.

And so I find myself here: at peace with the fly-by-night nature of life these days, in a pleasant state of controlled chaos.  But, like most women, I also feel more or less at the hub of a wheel of friends, family and business connections, all of which present competing demands of my time and energy.  Often I feel tightly spread between their needs and wants and my own capacity and will to deliver.  There's a battle between the visceral inner voice that may not necessarily want to do something or be somewhere, the one that knows that grown-ups have to compromise and rise to the occasion sometimes even when they don't feel like it, and the one that comes from a place of yes, and just wants to say yes to everything and everyone indiscriminately to keep the peace.  These voices are increasingly at odds, and I seek a way to find a balance.

I've seen it done a bunch of ways and rare is the person who can achieve a measured mix of selflessness and self-preservation, but this is where I am trying to get.  Not necessarily to a full-time place of yes, but to a place where I feel my own needs are harmonized with my need to serve and help; a place of self-possessed.
How do you do it?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Salad Shaker

When I worked full-time in an office, I was a faithful brown-bagger of my lunch.  Bringing lunch from home was always the healthier, tastier, more cost-effective and convenient choice, and more often than not, it was a salad.  I'd start with an empty Tupperware container and start chopping whatever looked good in the fridge, with a general formula of fun veggies + protein + greens equaling delicious lunch salads that never bored me.

Some of my favorite combos?
Mediterranean = Chickpeas, feta, chopped roasted red peppers, cukes and tomatoes
Mexican = Black beans, shredded pepper jack cheese, chopped tomatoes and peppers, leftover turkey taco meat and salsa
Classic Spinach = Chopped hard-boiled eggs, halved cherry tomatoes, and maybe a little bacon
Summer Special = Chopped grilled zuchini and squash, chopped heirloom tomatoes, grilled corn, feta

The possibilities are endless, and the key is the salad shaker that you create in your Tupperware.  You line all the heavy proteins and veggies on the bottom, cover them with your fluffy, lovely greens and bring your dressing in a little jar on the side.  At lunchtime, you drizzle the dressing over top and shake, shake, shake until the whole thing is tossed.  I love having a salad for lunch... it fills you up and energizes you for a full afternoon, and then you've eaten all your veggies and can be a little naughty at dinner if need be.  Because sometimes a gal needs a steak and a dirty martini for dinner and doesn't care to interrupt that bliss with any roughage.

Since I've started working from home, sometimes I forget to eat lunch altogether (I never thought I could be one of those people, but suddenly these days, I turn around and it is 2pm and I haven't even thought of lunch), and then when I do remember that I need an afternoon meal, the whole fridge is right there, and I'm more likely to grab a yogurt or leftovers or something utterly random (hello, lunch of toaster waffles).  I realized lately that I've been missing my killer salads.  My body misses the dose of greens, and my soul misses the civilized lunch of a grown-up.  So, I am back to my salad shakers once more!  My new routine?  I make lunch for little J, pop him in his chair and then start chopping things at the table while I keep him company as he eats.  I still make the whole thing in a Tupperware for one-dish easy clean-up, and because then I can store my masterpiece away in the fridge until I get a quiet moment to sit and enjoy it.  Yesterday's creation:
Chopped heirloom tomatoes, steamed edamame, chunks of honey soy tofu from the Whole Foods deli case, chopped avocado, and fresh spinach.  I threw this together literally in 10 minutes while singing a round of "I Love You a Bushel and a Peck" with my little fellow.  I ate it while sipping ice water and tending to a work spreadsheet after he went down for his afternoon nap.  The whole thing was divine and kicked the ass of a gulped down yogurt.  Eat your greens!  Your body will thank you.  And shake 'em up to keep it simple and saucy, the SMJ way.
What's your favorite salad combo? 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hi Friends.  Sorry I disappeared there for awhile.  My unintended almost 2-week hiatus was brought on by A LOT:  a lot going on with my family, a lot going on with my work, a lot of driving up and down the eastern seaboard, a lot of packing and unpacking and a whole lot of laundry.  My world has been a little topsy-turvy, and something needed to be set aside and so it was this blog.  I've seen a lot of bloggers blog right on through some of life's most profound traumas: deaths in the immediate family, horrible break ups, post-partum depression.  They're snapping away at the funeral food or reporting from deep in the trenches of life, and I frankly don't know how they do it.  When the going gets tough, the tough need to prioritize, and what I realized in the last few weeks is that SMJ needed to be bumped to the bottom of the list for a bit.

There was something about the intense heat of the last several weeks that has felt not unlike walking over hot coals to me.  The husband and I were put at the far end of what I equate in my mind to be about a football field of these hot coals, and we've been gingerly, fiercely crossing over in fits and starts.  Now I feel we are on the other side.  In the late spring and early summer, life became all about The Move.  I think I thought that when we unlocked the door to our new home, suddenly all of our transitioning pain would cease, and we'd be Here and the change would be Over.  Oh silly SMJ, the change was just beginning!  Getting unpacked, getting to know a new place, settling in to a place that was our home 6 years ago but so much has changed since then we can hardly draw on any past experience of the place, trying to reconnect with old friends and reach out to new ones... all of this has been simultaneously going on, and is as much a part of this transition as loading up our boxes in Vermont.

We've been here 6 weeks now, and the heat the is finally abating.  And so, I feel that we've crossed over into something new.  We know where we are and we know where we are going in so many different ways.  The air is starting to cool, everything is coming back into focus, and suddenly it seems that we are Here.  Finally.  For the first time in a long time, I feel truly grounded.

Last night, I went to a yoga class for the first time in way too long.  My evening was the perfect metaphor for life in general right now.  I attended a class in a new location of an old studio I used to love, the owner of the studio taught the class, and though I haven't taken a class from her in maybe 8 years, she remembered me.  I walked with an old friend to class through her new neighborhood, she was a new friend when I last lived in Boston, and now I've known her nearly a decade.  The new studio space was beautiful... gorgeous hardwood floors, the most phenomenal Buddha statue at the front of the space, trees in every corner, a view of the Boston skyline out the window.  The sun set over the city as we bent and stood again and again in dozens of vinyasas.

My friend mentioned after class that the darkening sky made her think of the fall in a "what ever happened to summer?!" kind of way.  The darkening evoked the fall for me as well, but in the most incredibly soothing way.  We've made it.  We're here.  The heat and the change and the stress of the summer are fading into the cooling embrace of fall.  Soup on the stove, leaves to crunch through with little J, even football -- I can't wait for it all (no, husband, that was not a typo... I am even excited for football... the look on your face when the tipoff happens and the awesome food you cook make it all worthwhile. Go Pats!).

At the end of class, we rolled to our right out of savasana, and the teacher told us to place our foreheads on our mat and just connect to the ground for a moment.  That rooting, that grounding, felt like some sort of diploma for me.  I met myself on the other side of the fire, and I feel stronger for having crossed over.  I feel connected, focused, I feel home.  And with that, I'm back.  My creative juices are flowing again, and I have so much I want to bring to SMJ this fall.

I plan to train for the Seacoast Half Marathon and hope to complete it with great girlfriends on November 14 - I'll share my training adventures and misadventures here.  I am totally recommitting myself to my yoga practice and want to blog more about that as well.  My head is full to bursting with new recipes to try and share, and the cooler it gets, the more action that stove is going to see, so stick with me!  There is nothing so energizing as the change of seasons, and this one is particularly profound for me.  Thank you for staying with me through the thick and the thin of all these changes, through my recent absence as well, and for crossing over with me to the other side.  Here's to what's ahead!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Daily Candy, Kiddie Sushi

Have you guys heard of Daily Candy?  It's a fun daily e-mail service offering "a handpicked selection of all that's fun, fashionable, food related, and culturally stimulating in the city you’re fixated on (and all over the Web)", and I love it. While most of the shopping-related insights are a bit high-end for my current lifestyle, they are still fun to peruse in the same way you love to flip through Vogue with the full knowledge you'll never be buying or wearing that Versace dress.  What I am really loving from the DC these days are their Daily Candy Kids updates, which feature all kinds of ideas for products, projects and and general creative coolness for kids... think everything from sippy cup reviews to nursery decor ideas.  This week there was a post I particularly loved... Ice Cube Tray Sushi from a new cookbook called "Time for Dinner", written by three former Cookie Magazine editors (Oh, Cookie, how I miss you!).  I'd love to get my hands on this book, as I'm having the darndest time trying to get little J to branch out beyond hummus, pb&j and turkey meatballs these days.  I really want him to enjoy food the way his dad and I do, and I am thinking adding some novelty into the mix could be the way to go.  Plus, if these are a dud, I would happily scarf them all down myself with a nice, chilled glass of Vinho Verde.
Ice Cube Tray Sushi 
7 oz. sashimi-grade salmon, cut into ¼-inch cubes (cooked shrimp or vegetables work well, too)
3 scallions, chopped
3 tbsp. cucumber, finely chopped
3 tbsp. (approximately 5) grape tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. orange juice
2½ tbsp. mayonnaise
¼ tsp. sesame oil
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 c. cooked rice
1. Combine all ingredients except the rice in a bowl.
2. To make the sushi-rice blocks, use an ice cube tray as a mold. Prepare the mold by sprinkling it lightly with water.
3. Press the rice into the tray squares; use your finger to push a hole three-quarters of the way into each square.
4. Turn the mold upside down onto waxed paper and tap until the squares fall out.
5. Fill each hole with 2 tsp. of the salmon, shrimp, or vegetable mixture and serve.
Serves four

I am going to be somewhat on the fly for the next week on a multi-stop road trip ending at wedding next Saturday where the husband will be looking dashing in a tux as a groomsmen.  During this time, I will most certainly not be making Ice Cube Tray Sushi.  So, I put this post up partly as a bookmark, partly as a weekend inspiration for the rest of you.  If anyone, especially anyone with picky-eatin' little ones, happens to chef this up over the weekend, will you kindly let me know how it goes?  Thank you, and happy Friday!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Morning

Egg Sandwich.  Iced Coffee.  The new Anthropologie catalog.  Streaming sunlight. Anniversary flowers on their last legs but too pretty to throw away just yet (yes, I matched my fruit selections to the flowers and vase: there is your glimpse inside my twisted little brain this morning).
The highlights of this tableau?
1) Beans from Four Barrel Coffee brought to me by my sister from San Francisco.  You know I am a coffee snob, and this java is truly over the top.  Not sure how I'm supposed to go back to drinking other stuff now, and am working on a plan to either barter with my sister for a monthly shipment, or somehow convince the husband that it is totally reasonable to mail order artisanal coffee beans from California.  It is that good.
2) Cheese on the sammie = Trader Joe's 2 Year Old Gouda.  $2.99 for a huge hunk, people!!!  And it tastes just as good as the pricey stuff, I promise.  Totally made the sandwich. Bread for the sammie = Ezekial 4:9 Sprouted Grain Sesame Bread.  An oldie but a goodie in this house... I've just forgotten to buy it for awhile.  So glad I remembered how much we love this stuff!  $3.99 at TJ's and with a nutritional profile like no other... give it a try!
3) Crossweave Boots in the Anthropologie catalog: so pretty, so fall-y.  Currently fantasizing about crisp weather and wearing jeans and leather boots again as the humidity levels reach 100% or so in Boston today.  I am aware I'll be complaining about the cold soon enough, but in the meantime, gazing at fall fashions is almost as good as A.C. 
Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Choosing Joy

Please excuse me while I go all Hallmark/New Age on you this morning, but it can't be helped.  I have a lot of things going on in my life right now that are causing me panic, anxiety, and one hell of a case of recurring insomnia (in case you hadn't noticed from my occasional 3am post).  I also have a lot of things that are over-the-top stellar: a healthy son, a top-shelf husband, beyond supportive family and family-in-law, a cute apartment and a damn good local coffee joint.  So why, around midnight each night or in the evening hours when I'm tired and lagging, can I only seem to see the anxiety-provoking things in front of my eyes, while the blessings fade to a blur beyond my exhaustion and worry?

Here's what I am starting to think: happiness is elective.  Joy is a choice.  Here's the little zen koan that presented itself to me at the end of this morning's run: at every turn there are flowers and there is poop, literally.  The sidewalk between here and Jamaica Pond is both a minefield of dog doo and city litter, and the home to some of the most beautifully kept gardens in the 'hood.  Which do I choose to see?  At the coffee shop on the way home, the man who cut the line and touched every piece of banana bread before choosing one to buy (EWW!) was the same man who held the door for me and told me my son was beautiful on the way out.  Which act do I choose to focus on?  I stood at the corner waiting to cross with drivers NOT yielding to pedestrians, sipping the glorious, unparalleled nectar that is City Feed Iced Coffee, and examined the gorgeous purple flowers in front of the local wine shop, with cigarette butts all around them at their base.  What was I going to focus on?

Joy is a choice and it is a choice that occurs at every stop light, every meal, every moment of your day, big and small.  There has to be a way to give the unsettling things in life their due deference, to feel and process the negative, without letting it drag you into an abyss of anxiety.  This is the riddle I am working on right now, and I am starting to think the answer comes less in an ability to completely overhaul my psyche, and more in a series of small daily decisions that present themselves when you least expect them.

I have a lot to laugh about in my life right now...
it is time to give the joy more power than the fear.