Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The 10 Things I Have Learned From My Dog Cont.

So today is the remaining 5 of the list of lessons my golden girl has taught me thus far.  Here they are:

5.  To never forget your inner child (or puppy):  Despite being an adult, and a relatively wise dog, Maya never forgets her inner puppy.  This adorable, endearing characteristic leads to antics such as stealing shoes, playing chase, and jumping up on the bed, even when she’s not supposed to.  The desire for play, curiosity for unfamiliar things, and a penchant for mischief, leaves one shaking ones head in laughter.  To engage in play, without expectation of reward, is something we don’t do enough as adults.  Too often we are in a rush, working to much, preoccupied with tasks and goals, getting buried in the drive for ambition, that we forget to have fun.  To play, to have fun, that is what often brings the greatest relief from the stresses of everyday living.  We as Americans don’t do it enough, is it any wonder we are unhappy, screaming in traffic, and resentful of those who do take a moment to play?

4.  To love unconditionally:  I have never had a dog, Maya is my first.  I finally understand what it means to be loved unconditionally.  This gift from heaven loves me for who I am, regardless of what my faults might be.  I aim to be the person my dog thinks I am.  Now there are dangers with unconditional love, sometimes loving someone unconditionally can be disastrous for your life.  Having said that, when an opportunity arises where such love won’t lead to personal harm, to love unconditionally has great reward.  Love is a powerful motivator, as well as a powerful drug.  Love allows us to form connections, connections which social animals (and that’s what we humans are), need to survive and thrive.  It is a dearth of love, not too much of it, that causes the greatest aches in peoples lives.  If we loved each other more, without strings attached, we would have better relationships with our children, family members, partners, friends, and yes even co-workers.  My dog is not related to me, she came to a home of strange people whom she had never met and chose to love us unconditionally, without strings attached.  This affection, without any expectations, is a powerful example, at least to me, of what exceptional looks like, and what incredible benefit can come from it.

3.  To be find joy in ordinary things:  My Maya is a happy sort.  The glass is always half full.  She finds immense joy in long walks, her meals in the morning and evening, chewing on her toys, greeting us in the evening and seeing us off in the morning, back rubs and head rubs, and sitting by our feet when we go about our business.  She never has a moment when she is glum.  The tasks that may seem boring and mundane, she does with zest and joy.  She realizes, my wise golden retriever, that joy is not found in select accomplishments, but in the ordinary tasks that we do everyday.  She is a stop and smell the roses kind of gal.  If all of us spent a few moments not rushing through life, maybe we could experience a little more joy.  It is the ordinary that has the greatest potential to bring happiness, and it is the ordinary that is the most overlooked.

2.  To be persistent:  Persistence is possibly Maya’s greatest attribute.  This being will do what she has to do get what she wants.  She doesn’t take no for an answer, and she does in it in a way that endears her in everyone’s heart.  My darling, golden girl will bark, she will frolic, she will do something “bad,” in a way that will melt your heart and make you say “ok, you sweet, silly thing, we will go for our walk now.”  She never gets discouraged, she never stops trying, and she never loses heart when she doesn’t get what she wants.  There is always the next time, the next chance, and if she sees it, she seizes it and goes for it.  Life is not about the sprint, it is an endurance test.  What is needed most for long lasting endurance is persistence.  Persistence in the face of failure, persistence when you don’t want to get out of bed, persistence when you think the situation could not be more unbearable.  Winning, which brings great satisfaction and a rush of endorphins, is not as important as the journey to the destination.  The journey is where the learning occurs, so you don’t make the same mistake twice.

1.  To be fearless:  I have a golden retriever who is not afraid of anything.  Whether it is a new situation or loud bursts of thunder.  My dog treads on with courage and curiosity, to understand, not shirk away from the unknown.  When a loud crackle of thunder erupts, sending down shivers through everyone else’s back, my Maya looks out to window to see where it’s coming from.  This quality, fearlessness, is one we should all try to have a little bit more of.  To live a life ruled by fear leads to doubt, timidness, and prevents initiation.  Think of all the opportunities that get missed because of our fears.  A trip to a foreign country, a move to a better job, a start with a possible new love.  Life is about taking risks, to take those risks, one must let go of what they fear the most.

So there you have it: I have an inspiration worthy pet.  She has stolen my heart, moved me to be a better human, and most importantly, is teaching me to love life.  What greater gift can anyone ask for?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The 10 Things I Have Learned From My Dog

As the seasons change from summer to fall, I always find myself engaging in introspection.  The daily commute is the perfect place for such an activity.  It has been several months now, and my golden girl and I are no longer strangers.  I thought I would take the next two days to share with you the lessons this bundle of fur has taught me in this short time.  Today I will talk about 10-6, and tomorrow I will finish up with 1-5.

10.  To enjoy exercise:  I’m not a fan of exercise.  I keep my girlish figure by eating a balanced, high quality diet.  So when I see my Maya’s overjoyed look at exercise, I think “I could use some of that.”  This is a dog that lives to go on long walks, regardless of the weather.  Knowledge of an upcoming long walk sets the girl up in a frenzy of excitement that parallels a five year old opening presents on Christmas morning.  So it is an understatement when I say I am inspired, no awed really, by Maya’s joy for exercise.  This exuberance applies to playing fetch, running, chasing, and all manner of strenuous activity.  As I watch myself age, and my metabolism slow, I look to Maya to give me both the motivation and inspiration to get up and move.  With so many of our fellow citizens struggling with their weight, a little enthusiasm for exercise would certainly go a long way towards a healthy, long, vital life.

9.  To relax and do nothing:  If there is one thing that Maya does a lot of, and does well, it is to lie around and do nothing.  Sometimes she pants because she is happy, sometimes she sleeps, and sometimes she just sits and gazes.  This sitting around, relaxed, seems to explain her general lack of stress about anything.  I have a dog that is not anxious and is never stressed.  I dream of having a quarter of this sense of peace.  We are an overworked society, always in a rush, without a moment to spare, especially for ourselves.  Once in awhile, to sit, do nothing, and introspect is what we need to help us solve life’s most troublesome challenges.  It is probably also better for our heart.

8.  To be curious: Maya is nosey.  Really, not nosey, but curious.  If something is brought to the house that is new, she wants to know what it is.  If she goes for a walk and something catches her eye, she goes to investigate.  If a new dog walks on her path, she tries to find out who he/she is.  Maya is curious, she wants to know, she is not content to let the world pass her by.  Curiosity is a trait that we should all try to foster.  It opens new worlds, expands the world we live in now, and sometimes it leads to a sense of wonder we all think we lose after the age of 5.  Where would we be without curiosity?  There would be no discovery, no inventions, no desire to learn.  What is life, after all, without these three ingredients?

7.  To seek out affection, without fear of rejection:  Ahhhh, the fear of rejection.  It stops so many of us from pursuing opportunities with great potential rewards, especially when it comes to love.  Here is an area where Maya excels.  She never misses an opportunity to seek affection from anyone who seems capable.  She is always rewarded with sweet words, rubs on the head and back, and big smiles.  No wonder I have such a happy dog!  This feedback loop only confirms for her that everyone loves her.  For all of us who are shy, awkward, and suspicious of other people's intentions, this lesson in seeking affection from those around us is an important one.  In a sea of isolation, affection from another person is often what makes the biggest difference.  So the next time you see someone who seems dejected, ask them how they are, and sit awhile and listen.

6.  To view everyone as an opportunity for friendship:  As a hermit, this is one characteristic I admire most about my dog.  She views everyone, whether it be a stranger or another mammal, as an opportunity for friendship.  While this also has potential pitfalls, the openness to such opportunities typically result in rewarding results.  No one humans are able to resist smiling at Maya’s persistence for friendship, and most mammals respond with in kind friendliness.  My dog, you see, is incapable of making enemies.  She would much prefer that everyone get along and play a healthy game of chase.  Imagine if all of us treated each other with less suspicion.  Imagine, how our relationships with each other, our neighbors, and other nations would look.  Think of the misunderstandings that would never occur, and the deadly conflicts that might have been avoided.  In a world that is more distressed, openness to friendship is more critical now then ever, if we want to live on a planet where we don’t end up finishing each other off over something that isn’t all that important.

Tomorrow I will share the top 5.  I hope everyone had a wonderful day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pink and Brown

I have been a bit light on the posts this week.  Something about the gray weather has left me a little blue. This is also the week of the anniversary of the death of my grandfather, in addition to the national tragedy that the nation experienced a decade ago (yeah, that was a bad year).  I still miss him terribly.  My grandfather was an extraordinary person.  At some point, I'll write a post about him to share with all of you.  I have to say, one of the most cherished things in my life has been to have my grandparents in my life well into my twenties.  My grandmother is still alive and kicking and I am grateful to have her.  The love from one's grandparent's is truly unconditional and for me, it has shaped the person I have become.

Today's outfit is one I am especially proud of.  The whole thing is thrifted.  The dress is Anne Klein, the bolero thing is express, and the shoes are Fratelli Rossetti.  I love this outfit because it fits and yes, I feel hot in it.

Dress: Ann Klein (thrifted); top: Express (thrifted); Shoes: Fratelli Rossetti (thrifted)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Place of Blue Smoke

I have survived Irene and returned from a short vacation.  My brother, mother, and I visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, primarily to avoid Irene.  It is a magnificent place.  Long before this area was a national park, the Cherokee referred to it as the "place of blue smoke."  Indeed that description is apt for this incredible jewel in America's breath taking landscape.  We drove through the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was spectacular, in addition to visiting several spots around the park.  Words, nor photographs do justice to this place.

This national park receives 9 million visitors a year, making it the most visited park in the United States.  Part of the reason for this might be that it does not have an entrance fee.  This is my first visit to a national park, and I did not leave disappointed.  After seeing the awesome splendor of this landscape, I have resolved to visit all the national parks in the United States.  It may take a lifetime, but it will certainly be worth it.  Perhaps what was striking to me was the fact that I had cell phone reception at one of the highest points of the park (Clingmans dome).  I guess in today's wired world you really can't escape technology, email, or the internet.  (Note to self, if going on vacation, make sure to go somewhere with spotty electricity so checking work email really won't be an option.)

Everywhere we went, we saw people stopping and gazing, awestruck, at the incredible landscape.  There is something to be said about saving wild places like these.  We Americans may not have cathedrals or piazzas, but we have national parks.  In my view, the best in the world.  In addition to being a national park, The Great Smokies is also a UNESCO world heritage site, primarily for its immense diversity in plant and animal life.  As the nation struggles through the doldrums of recession and we face hard choices on what we want to spend our money on, we should collectively think about where are dollars are worth spending.  For me, the national parks are on the top of that list.  It would be a national tragedy if future generations did not get a chance to experience the splendor of these unique wild places.  At the end of the day, they are part of what defines America.  I sure am proud to be a citizen of nation that had the forsight to save the last Edens on Earth from commercialization.  I only continue hope we retain that collective wisdom as difficult decisions are made on what to save and what to let go.  Years from now, what we save is how our generation will be judged.  I can only hope we make the right choices.  In the mean time, I will try to savor the natural beauty that makes up the American landscape.  My it is a sight to behold.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Little Bohemian

The day was slightly busy today.  I worked on actual work as well as grew my office art gallery (since I am out of office supplies, I have moved onto origami).  My boss' reaction?  "That's a little scary."  My response, "Scary good, or scary bad?"  He didn't elaborate since we were in the middle of a meeting.  Being that he is a bit of a smart ass, I'm sure this is not the last commentary I will get from him regarding my masterpieces. 

So it turns out that mother nature is going to strike North Carolina this weekend in the form of hurricane Irene.  Yay! I can't wait.  I am already preparing for the travel hell that will surely be a part of my experience this weekend.  It's a shame, I was really looking forward to this weekend.

Well, I'm trying not to dwell on the impending weekend of natural disaster as it is bumming me out.  So on to today's outfit.  I was feeling a little bohemian today.  Bohemian is probably what matches my personality best.  Being an eccentric, hermit fits into the bohemian free and mixed style.  I love this style because it has few rules, requires fun and exotic patterns, and most importantly, is fully of color.  The outfit today is how I interpret the bohemian style.  I am probably totally off, but who cares, right?  As long as one feels terrific in what they wear, that is all that really matters.  I decided awhile ago that life is too short to worry about other people's perceptions of one's appearance.  Perhaps this wasn't the most work appropriate outfit, but sometimes you have to show your real self, even if it is just for a moment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Office Art

It's been a bit slow in the office the last few days.  Which essentially means I have had absolutely nothing to do.  Thankfully, that will end tomorrow.  To preoccupy my time, I have been decorating my cubicle with office supplies.  It is amazing what one can come up with, when one is bored.  My medium has been paper clips, t pins, thumtacks, and the boxes the paper clips came in.  Thus far I have made several sculptures and a vase.  As I was exercising the right side of my brain the last few days, it occurred to me that this may not be the best way to demonstrate creativity at work.  Oh, well, too late for that now.  Below are pics of my masterpieces.

I actually have a couple of more things in addition to the items in the photograph above.  At the rate I'm going, I might have found a new calling.  Anyway, I can't wait to see the expression on my boss' face tomorrow.  It should be mildly entertaining.  My trip to San Francisco got pushed back to the beginning of next week, so I will update you all on the boss' fear of flying.  I still find that hilarious. I am also visiting my brother and mother in North Carolina this weekend.  We may be taking a trip to the smoky mountains.  If that pans out, there will be pictures galore.  I hope everyone had a productive day in the office (or at home).  If not, I encourage you to exercise you brain and create your own office art :). 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

Today was another perfect summer day.  The nights are getting cooler, indicating that fall is right around the corner.  While my commute is slightly shorter now, it is still about 45 minutes.  This time, both in the morning and evening, allows me to contemplate, daydream, and experience occasional bursts of road rage.  Fortunately, today was not a road rage day.  The drive to work now is not quite as scenic, but even cities, with their grunge and dirt have their own charm.  For instance, last week I saw a random rooster walking around, looking perfectly content.  There are also interesting people who walk alot, since cities, unlike suburbs, are equipped with sidewalks.  I drive through part of north Philadelphia on my route, so it is interesting to see all the row homes, small businesses, and interesting people going about their day.

My office has a pond, park bench, and roses next to it.  Sometimes, during lunch, I eat outside, both to enjoy the weather and de-thaw my frozen fingers and toes from the air conditioning inside.  Having green space near the office is so incredibly important.  We spend most of our time at work, often in dark, small cubicles without windows.  Having a place, to just smell the roses once in awhile is a nice way to decompress from the daily stresses that come in a work day.  I realized today, as I sat gazing over the artificial pond with the breeze flowing through my hair, eating my lunch, that I am fortunate.  Fortunate to have a job, a roof over my head, and personal transport.  Fortunate to be able to eat what I want and not worry about the cost.  Fortunate to have a furry friend to greet me when I get home.  And fortunate that I work in a place that has roses available to stop and smell once in awhile.  So today, unlike the other days I have eaten outside, I did indeed stop to smell the roses and they were sweet.  It is something I will try to remember to do more often.  Life, afterall, is short.

The pond outside my office

Roses galore!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Today was a perfect summer day: hot during the day, cool at night, sunny and clear skies. I need to remember this when winter arrives with it's short, cold, gray, gloomy days. Work is going well. I will most likely be traveling to the west coast for business next week, so that should be interesting. My boss revealed today that he is not a "fan" of flying, as in he needs a couple of drinks to ease the anxiety before take off. I of course find the irony in that statement to be hilarious. Just for a mental picture, this gentleman is over 6 ft tall, moderately well built, football lover, and very stereotypical in the masculine department (as in has night in shining armor syndrome). It always seems to be the toughest guys who are the biggest babies when it comes to flying. That has never failed to amaze me. I had another colleague, several years ago, big, burly, and manly, who refused to fly anywhere. (For the same anxiety provoking reason.) Go figure. Your night in shining armor is ok coming by horse (or sports car/SUV), but ask him to come via jet plan, well that's just plain crazy talk. I mean there are limits.

Needless to say this little work related adventure should be interesting. There is nothing more entertaining than an inebriated boss. In anticipation of your next question, yes I totally want to see the man in all his anxiety laden, slightly drunk form. That will just make for an even better blog post when I write about it :). So, while I miss my work dad, it appears I'm replacing him with...Well, I haven't yet come up with an appropriate name for him yet. Nothing witty is coming to mind at the moment. Anyway, I wore this burgundy number to work today. I got it from Ross and I think it was only like $3. I bought the shoes after the Mr. insisted it was worth the money at DSW. They are Audrey Brooke. I love how my legs look in this dress. At my short stature, anything that makes my legs look long and sexy is a must have in the wardrobe. The shoes probably help. Granted, this dress might have been a touch inappropriate for the office, but I don't care. Once in awhile, one should dress as hot as the feel. Since that's rare for me, I take advantage of the opportunity when it arises.

Dress: Ross, Shoes: Audrey Brooke, Jewelry: Gift

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mixing Prints

For EBEW, the challenge this month was to mix prints.  This is way outside my comfort zone, but since change seems to be the theme in my life at the moment, I decided to give it a try.  The Mr. bought the shirt at Kohl's for me and the skirt is Willi Smith.  I thought they went together, only to discover the dark parts in the shirt were actually navy, not black. That's what I get for picking my clothes in low light.  I'm not sure if this works or not, but I am open to mixing prints in the future.

Week 2 is going well.  I am already on a project, so this should be exciting.  I am looking forward to the challenge of learning something new.  My brain should be happy this month with all the new stimulation.  Tomorrow I think I'm going thrifted, short, and sleeveless.  The heat has made a return and we are back to scorching temperatures.  This weekend we went canoeing at the Delaware River Canal in New Jersey (near Princeton).  It was gorgeous and relaxing.  Unfortunately the camera died, so no pics.  Technology is great, until it stops working.

Shirt: Kohls, Belt: Kohls, Skirt: Willi Smith, Shoes: Moda

Pattern Mixing | Everybody, Everywear

Friday, August 5, 2011

First Week on the Job

My first official week at the new job is over and I'm still feeling good about it.  I have gotten to know my boss and his sarcastic demeanor seems like it will be a good fit.  In addition to his sarcasm, he also used to work for my old employer and knew my work father.  Which only confirms that one should never burn their bridges at their former place of employment.  I am already working on a project doing some writing, a great thing, since it is one of the reasons I joined this shop.  I am looking forward to the next few months as I get more involved with things.  The work seems interesting and challenging, both great things to keep the mind stimulated.

There are also other stylish women in the office who share a fondness for shoes, another sign from the God's this is totally where I needed to be :).  Today I wore one of my favorite dresses.  This green and black Nine West number fits like a glove and the pattern is just fantastic.  I paired it with some Jessica Simpson heels, chosen by the fashionista in this household: the Mr.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Red Shoes

Red is such a fantastic color. Whether worn as a primary color in an outfit or as an accent. Red looks good on just about anybody and anything. I have been on the hunt for a pair of great red shoes. Believe it or not, the are somewhat hard to find. So imagine my delight when I found this vintage number at a thrift store. They are leather, pointy, and timeless (well I like to think they are).

I had another great day. It was training mostly, which is always a good thing, since that way one has some clue as to what they are doing. I got new glasses recently (I only wear them to drive and watch TV). I love this design because they give a nod to the cats eye style of yesteryear, while still being hip. The hubs says I look like an old woman to which I quipped back "That's right, because they have style."  He says the same thing about my vintage purses. (This coming from a man who loves polo shirts.)  Well enough of my rambling, below is what I wore today.  Tomorrow, I'm thinking of wearing a floral white number I recently scored for $1.

Top: Carole Little; Skirt: The Limited (thrifted); Shoes: Mina (thrifted); Jewelry: self-made

Thrifters Anonymous

Meet Virginia Design

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Month, New Job

First days can be both nerve racking and scintillating.  Fortunately, mine was only scintillating.  I had a charming first day, everyone was warm, welcoming, and my boss and I seem to be a good fit (this is critical to success on the job).  It is always nice when at the end of the first day, especially at a new job, one feels that they made the right choice.  I definitely feel like I did.  While I don't have a big picture window (you can't have it all), the office spaces are well designed and let in a lot of light.  My colleagues from my former job are also present to help make this transition a seamless one.

Every job one has is a growth opportunity.  It is a chance to learn something new, as well as grow professionally.  A new job makes for a clean slate and thus the potential for better career possibility.  While I am not an optimistic person by nature, my last two jobs have provided me with great experience to evolve on a professional level, and as a result ensure I won't make the same mistakes in this career chapter.  Looking back I realize that my most valuable experiences have been mistakes.  Mistakes offer the opportunity to learn something new as well as a chance at self-improvement, a two-for-one deal.  It may sound counter intuitive,  but the errors in your life are the most valuable for the next time around.  This is especially true on the job front.

This is the week to savor all the goodwill and possibility that goes with the early weeks of a new job.  I will need to remember this moment when times get tough, because they always do.  Until the rough patch, it's time to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Dress: Conway; Shoes: Moda: Jewelry: Venice, Italy    

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Professional Adieu

Farewells are always difficult, whether they are professional or personal.  Today marked the end of another chapter in my life as I said goodbye to my colleagues.  I have had a good 2.5 year run.  My work father gave me a big bear hug and was happy with his wine and chocolate.  My boss loved her gift and said it was thoughtful and fitting because she entertained alot.  I was also treated to a lovely lunch.  This is the way I wanted to leave: happy.  I am touched by how many people have told me they enjoyed working with me.  Hermits always assume no one cares about their existence.  One colleague said he learned alot from me, that is always an amazing thing to hear when one is just starting out in their career.  While it was hard, it felt right.

I am a big believer in saying goodbye the right way.  Why? Because it may be the last time you say goodbye.  Farewells are important.  They bring closure, peace, and comfort when tragedy strikes (all of us will experience tragedy).  A good farewell, especially in the work world, requires some planning.  Despite the lack of attachment associated with work, people still need time to process loss.  Even if that loss is an employee at the bottom of the organization who has decided to move on (like me).  So give your adieu a week in advance.

Then there is what to say.  Heartfelt, genuine, and positive are the themes that should come through in a written goodbye, no matter how unhappy you are.  Remember, you might cross paths again. Finally, there is the goodbye you give to those that you truly will miss.  That is the hardest of all.  Fortunately in the work world, an end to a work relationship opens the door to a personal one.  As I start the next chapter in my career, I am most looking forward to the new personal relationships that come with a professional adieu.  A top notch goodbye guarantees opportunities for life long friendships.

My last outfit....A little nostalgia from the college years.

Dress: From my college days (over 10 years ago)
Shoes: Madden Girl
Earrings: Self made

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Art of Gift Giving

To give someone a gift is an art.  Gift giving, for it to be truly meaningful, requires thoughtfulness, planning, and good listening skills.  All three are necessary to truly find and give someone a gift that leaves their hearts touched.  I love gift giving.  It is one of my favorite hobbies.  If I had all the money in the world, I would spend the vast majority of my time looking for, purchasing, and giving gifts.  Unfortunately, my bank balance does not allow for this kind of generosity, so I limit my gift giving to the moments that really count.

One of those moments will be tomorrow when I say goodbye to my colleagues.  Among that group will be my boss and my work father.  Two individuals who have made the last two and half years incredibly productive for both my professional and private life.  Given their contribution to my development, a gift was warranted for each of this wonderful people.  I came home a little early to purchase the items I will be giving them (along with thank you cards of course).  I thoroughly enjoyed my experience this afternoon as I mulled through items to select that perfect gift.

For my work father I settled on a bottle of local Pennsylvania wine and a bar of organic dark chocolate.  The man loves food.  On one of our many get-to-know-you moments he shared a story with me about a taste bud experience that involved alcohol and chocolate.  We had recently tasted some local wine at a store, and low and behold, one of them paired very well with chocolate.  It was meant to be.  For my boss, the best boss I have every had in my 17 years in the work world, I bought a decorative glass plate that is painted with purple flowers (purple is her favorite color).  My boss has two sons and I figured she could use something pretty with all the testosterone that runs through her household.  I can't wait to give my gifts tomorrow.  I hope their hearts are touched, that is always my aim.  There is nothing like ending a professional relationship well. 

The gifts for my two favorite people at work:

For my work father

For my boss

This is what I wore yesterday, my outfit today was meh.

Dress: Thrifted
Shoes: Rocket Dog
Earrings: Self made

Thrifters Anonymous

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Food

Good food.  What is good food?  As I read yet another statistic about how our nation's health is worsening, I ask myself that question.  Is it food that is healthy? Perhaps, the good food label is only reserved for those dishes that are decadent or complicated to make or both.  Is it food only found in specialty stores of the expensive variety?  When I walk through the aisles of the grocery store, I try to discern which foods are good and which ones are not: it is both difficult and confusing.

The good food debate is gaining steam in America and it seems every interest group wants to own a piece of the conversation.  While some advocate for fresh, organic and minimally processed, others struggle simply to put food, any food on the table.  For those in the second group, categorizing food as "good" or "bad" seems out of touch.  It turns out we have a fair amount of food insecurity in our nation.  Your neighbor may not have access or be able to afford good food.  In this land of enormous plenty, that does not seem to make a whole lot of sense.  We want to eat what is "healthy", but the data is not so consistent or clear on what "healthy" is.  So what is one to do?  How can we tell what is good food?

For me, good food is tied to my early years living with my grandparents.  They had fruit trees, vegetables, and coconut trees in their backyard.  Grandpa went to the market everyday to get fresh fish, or meat, or whatever happened to be on the menu.  Everything tasted good, EVERYTHING: from the bittermelon dishes to the sweet coconut water, a gift from the trees in the yard.  Then there were the bananas, little, petite, picked the day we ate them, and most of all delicious.  As an adult, that is the "good food" I yearn for.  It is both a result of those happy years and the feeling that food that one witnesses grow and mature simply can't be bad for you. 

I have always tried to eat good food, but quality food is sometimes not affordable (especially when one is attending graduate school).  My father used to say, even when times were especially difficult, that the one thing he would not sacrifice was good food.  "I work, so I can eat well." He said, "Everything else comes second." That has always stuck with me.  The most basic reason to work is to be able to eat.  Without food, good food, one has difficulty getting on.  Now, as an adult, I can finally afford good food.  I can go to the grocery store and buy food, regardless of price, and not feel guilty.  (Don't get me wrong, I am not a billionaire and can't afford grass fed organic beef or Wild Alaskan Salmon everyday, once a month is probably what my budget will allow.)  It is liberating to be able to finally eat good food.  I am grateful I can do so, since I know that many of my country men and women cannot.

So yes, I fall on that end of the continuum that eats organic, mostly local, and minimally processed food.  I have lost 25 pounds on this diet of good food.  I don't worry about calories, or fat content, or points.  I simply eat good food.  My community supported agricultural (CSA)  farm allows me this decadence for 24 weeks out of the year.  I eat organic berries, squash, melons, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and a wide array of vegetables not found in grocery stores.  This food is picked the day I pick it up and consumed the week it is picked.  For the first time in all my years in the States, the food I eat tastes like the food I had living with my grandparents.  I cherish every morsel I put in my mouth, because good food is not a guarantee.  It can yanked from you like a good job.

When my 24 weeks are over, I still eat organic and minimally processed, but it is hard to eat local when it snows.  The CSA has a winter share, which perhaps this year I might be able to afford.  It would be amazing to have good food all year round.

All of us deserve good food.  We should not have to choose between a bag apples and a loaf of white bread because the apples costs more.  I like to think that I vote with my fork every time I choose the organic option.  Yes, it costs more, but at the end of the day, I work so I can eat.  Health is indeed wealth, and good food is the necessary ingredient.  With good food, and the good health that comes with it, I am already one step ahead.  This makes me wonder, how can we as a society demand good food?  This is America afterall, shouldn't we expect the best?  I don't have the answer to that question, I just know that we should all have access to good food that we can afford.  So the next time you contemplate what to make for dinner or purchase for consumption, ask yourself: Is this good food?

This weeks CSA bounty....


Friday, July 22, 2011

106 Degrees!

You read that right, it was 106 degrees outside on my drive back from work.  It was 90 on the way to work.  I heard on the radio that in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia it was 90 degrees.  I don't know about you, but something seems off about that.  Maya is probably boiling.  (The Mr. is out right now hunting down a portable air conditioner.)  Since I couldn't very well go to work naked today, I wore this whimsical red paisley number.  It also happens to be made with silk.  Silk......., sorry, my brain sort of stops working when I utter the name of this luxurious material.  I bought this at a Goodwill awhile ago and loved it because it is red, flowy, has paisley print, and of course, is made out of silk.  I will officially come out of the paisley closet and admit I love this frumpy kind of print.  The color combinations are so endless, it suits my eccentric style.

The sandals I purchased at a DSW a few days ago.  I thought they were kinda expensive, but the Mr. was so insistent I caved.  They have a made-in-ancient-Rome look.  Having been to Rome, a very charming city, I love how these shoes remind me of that fantastic trip (I went with my mom, who had never been to a European city).  Finally we come to the jewelry.  I made the earrings, necklace, and bracelet.  The ring was a gift from my grandmother.  I would write something more witty today, but it is just too hot.

Dress: Ice (thrifted)
Shoes: MIA
Jewelry: Made by me

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It. Is. HOT.

It is close to 100 degrees outside and feels like a furnace. The inside of my house feels the same since I don't have air conditioning. I feel for my poor Maya who must be so uncomfortable (she is sitting in between two fans, panting). The new job starts in a little more than a week! I am starting to get excited, but it still doesn't feel real yet. 

I truly believe that things work themselves out. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way in the moment, but when one looks back at the series of circumstances as a whole, it all starts to makes sense. This new job feels the same way. Savoring it is important, because at some point I will feel overworked and under appreciated and at that time, I have to remember how I felt at this moment. That is just the way the work world is sometimes. That shouldn't deter one from doing their best and having personal integrity. At the end of the day you can't change someone else's behavior, you can only change your own and hope other's use that as a guiding example. Influence is a powerful thing, most of the time we don't even know we have it.

I wanted to wear something bright and cheery today. After a week of mostly black outfits (I really love black and as a result, my closet is full of items in that color). I thrifted the skirt some time ago and it is actually purple, for some reason it comes out blue when photographed. The shirt is from JC Penny and the shoes are from Daffy's. This is out of my normal comfort zone, but since I have only a week or so left, I thought I would go out with a bang.

Skirt: Pat Argenti (thrifted)
Shirt: St. John's Bay
Belt: Thrifted
Shoes: Boutique 58
Earrings: Made by me

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Human Touch

On most days I consider myself to be a solitary person. Solitude seems to be essential in my ability to function. When people ask me to describe myself, I say that I am a modern day hermit, someone who doesn't really enjoy people. Humans, in general, are complicated, and too often unpleasant. Sometimes though, that same calming solitude, can be torture. It is a fine balance between serenity and loneliness.

This past weekend and today are fine examples of when the human touch can be nourishing to both the mind and soul. There are times when all of us need the company of friends and the appreciation of colleagues. We humans are social creatures after all. Interaction with other sentient beings is essential to our way of being.

The Mr. and I went to a potluck on Saturday where we spent several hours eating good food and having an engaging conversation with a physicist and former dancer (get your mind out of the gutter, she was not that kind of dancer). We talked about our families, the problems that ail our society, relationships, careers, but most of all we laughed. One cannot laugh and feel the full joy of that activity without the company of others. This brief moment was so perfect, I wish I could have bottled it up so I could bring it out in trying times. It never fails to amaze me how such pleasure can be had doing the simplest of activities.

Saturday Outfit to Potluck
Dress: Kohls
Purse: Wilsons Leather
Shoes: DSW
Necklace and Earrings: Made by me
Chickpea Dish Ingredients: Organic garbanzo beans, organic onions,organic potatoes, organic pasta sauce, Himalayan sea salt, Organic cayan pepper, Organic black pepper, grapeseed oil, Organic turmeric, allspice, curry  powder, organic ginger.
Riata (yogurt dish): Organic yogurt, organic cucumbers, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, organic cayan pepper, black
pepper, tamarind sauce

The perfection of that moment was followed by spending time with Maya on the beach the following day. My baby girl was unsure of the water at first, but with a little coaxing, she seemed to recognize its potential. She also thoroughly enjoyed chasing an inky black great dane that looked a bit like Marmaduke (albeit smaller). Needless to say, the weekend was pretty perfect. God, how I love having a dog. Hermits, it turns out, really enjoy pets.

Maya frolicking at the beach....

Enjoying the view
Splashing around

Making new friends

Playing with daddy

Posing with mommy

Finally, we come to today. I emailed my farewell note to everyone today. The response was overwhelming in a positive direction. I had no idea that so many people thought so highly of me, or would miss me for that matter. I always assumed no one noticed, it turns out I was wrong. No matter how awkward one is, or how reserved, we all want to be noticed. It is a shame we wait so long to tell people the things we think are great about them. Imagine what the world would be like if we spent half our time telling those we interact with everyday how their presence makes a difference in our lives. While I always say please and thank you, I don't tell people often enough how great they are. At this next job, I resolve to do this more. With those I care about, I resolve to do this half the time at minimum. After I tell people that I am a modern day hermit, I always point out, that hermits have hearts too. Ours are just more more prone to break than regular folks. So we have to spend a little more effort protecting them.

Outfit today.... 
100% Thrifted
Top: Urban Behavior
Skirt: The Limited
Shoes: BCBG

Thrift | Everybody, Everywear

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Made My Decision

I made my decision Tuesday night and decided to accept the offer at the other company.  After staying up till 4:30 in the morning and not getting so much as a thank you, I had, had enough.  It is time to start afresh while I still like everyone at my current job.  My boss told me I would have to continue to work on a team that I don't especially care for.  Working with them essentially means career suicide, since I am rarely able to meet my deadlines when I work on their projects.  (They also don't seem to have the words "thank" and "you" in their vocabulary.)  So now with that wrenching decision complete, I can look forward to a new job in a new month (I start August 1st).  This the first place I am going where I actually know people (who I also like), so the transition should be nice.  I told my work dad yesterday, that was very difficult.  You know what this sweet, wonderful man's reaction was?  He said, and I quote "Well, I'm going to miss you."  How wonderful is that?  I am looking forward to the evolution in our relationship as it transitions from a professional one to a personal one.  I think I am going to get him and my boss thank you gifts for being so wonderful.  In a world where people are so unpleasant, it is important to recognize those who are not. 

My craft room is completely painted.  It looks bright, green, and awesome :).  I have been so busy with work I haven't had much time to work on it. Since I am no longer young and spry an almost all nighter takes longer to recuperate from.  I think tomorrow I will work on painting the trim, and then it will be ready for decoration.  I am also getting new glasses tomorrow. Yay!  It's been three years, and my eyes are begging for something stylish.  I wore the outfit below Monday.  I bought it from the juniors section and it is still to big.  <sigh>

Dress: Kohls
Belt: Thrifted
Shoes: Michael Kors (Thrifted)