Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's okay!

I want to share with you an experience I had last night. I had Netflixed the movie Wit, an HBO production, starring Emma Thompson. The description said the movie was about an English professor, dealing with health issues, namely that she has ovarian cancer. I cozied up with my glass of wine and started the movie, knowing it might be a tear jerker, but then I never shy away from these. Starting with her diagnosis from a matter-of-fact, but obviously caring doctor, the movie then moves onto the indignities she faces as she is shuffled from one place to the other in the hospital and the disregard for her as an individual. There is a bit of "wit" interlaced throughout, but then about thirty minutes in, she is talking to the camera explaining her feelings (a device used on and off throughout) when she doubles over and throws up into a bedpan due to the effects of the chemo. I unexpectedly burst into tears and could not watch not one more second of the movie. I turned it off.

And this is what I want to share with you about this experience. You see, in 2003 I moved to Ruidoso, NM where I met the four most incredible girl friends I have ever had in my life. We did something together at least once a week and talked on the phone in-between. Not long after I moved to TN in 2006, Kelly was diagnosed with a squamous cell cancer, (you might recognize this as the same cancer Farrah Fawcett had) and the outlook was not good. Living so far away, I did not get to see her much, nor be there to help out, but three weeks before she died, I flew in and saw her for the last time. She was such a great person, beautiful inside and out, loved by so many, and incredibly talented. She was an OB/Gyn nurse practitioner, a person who helped others, and now needed the help of others. She lost her battle in November of 2008.

This movie just hit me square in the face with the reality of what Kelly had faced, the pain she went through, and that none of us could keep the pain from her. I immediately called one of the girls to share what had happened because we are friends, because I know we will talk and laugh and cheer each other up and because I want my girlfriends to always know, that no matter how far away I might be, I love them and miss them and cherish our friendship.

This morning then, thinking about last night, I was reminded of how after my divorce I would watch romantic movies and cry all the way through, but never turned off the pain. I would wish for that sappy, seemingly perfect movie relationship, and feel sorry for myself and when it was over have a really good cry. And you know, I think that's okay. You are going to have moments where you just need that good cry, to mourn the loss of the relationship, and to just feel that release. The most important thing though to remember is this: reach out to those who can help you, to the friends who will cheer you up and cheer you on. And don't call the friend who has to crucify your ex, you don't need to go down that negative highway, you just need someone to listen and then laugh with you and tell you it's okay. That's what Suzanne did for me last night. She told me, it's okay, and sometimes we all just need to hear it.

Take time this week to write about the sorrow when it hits and about the friends or family you can rely on to not join your pity party, but to cheer you out of it! Choosing happiness is easier when you choose happy friends, and especially down the road when you choose a new partner.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I am the owner of a Black Lab/German Short haired Pointer mix named Holley. She is a rescue dog who entered our lives on New Year's Eve 2008.  Holley had been hit by a car when they found her, however, she eluded capture for three weeks. A veterinarian fixed her up and then she stayed with the rescue group for four months while she healed before she was put up for adoption . My husband then ran across her in a google search, hunting for a dog to keep me company when he is on the road and thus she showed up at our house on New Year's Eve, and because the woman who brought her told us that it was determined she was one year old, we designated that day as her first birthday. She has come a long way from the skittish, scared of her own shadow dog that arrived that day, and she has become a much loved part of the family.

Now the reason I tell you about her is this: Holley loves to run. Her enthusiasm is overwhelming actually. If I go into the bedroom for anything, she follows me down the hall in hope that I am changing clothes to go for a run. Once I do change, she is so excited that I can hardly lace up my shoes and get out the door. Then she wiggles and squirms and runs in circles until I tell her to sit and put on the leash, then she takes off like a shot to the end of her retractable leash, jumping for joy. I watch her some days and have often remarked to Steve how great it would be if we could all have the joy of a dog, the pure simple joy of putting your whole heart and soul into something you love! But this is the thing, we can have that joy. We can have that excitement in our lives if we just remember that all we have is right now, this moment! Regardless of the trials and tribulations we face, we just have right now to live and so even when you are carrying a heavy burden, if you remember to celebrate the little moments, the small joys that occur throughout the day, it won't seem so difficult. We all have problems, we all have heartache and pain, but we can all have moments of joy too. Take time to enjoy. Write about at least one little joy at the end of each day! Choose Happiness!
Carpe Diem! (Seize the day!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ricotta Cheese Bread

I grew up, like most of my generation, on store bought sandwich sliced white bread. My mom did, however, make Parker House rolls from time to time, and an occassional sweet bread. I loved the smell of bread baking in the oven, and even more, loved the taste of a hot roll with butter! (Though, I'm pretty sure we ate margarine in our home.) As an adult entering the grocery buying world, and being the beginning of the "health food" craze, I discovered there was a world of difference between white bread (I soon dubbed "killer" bread) and wheat bread, and switched instantly to wheat sandwich bread. Those breads have come a long way now, and you actually can find fairly healthy bread in the stores, but there is nothing like the smell and taste of homemade bread, slathered with REAL butter! Though the recipe I'm sharing with you is not whole wheat (I am experimenting to find one for the bread machine; it's tricky) and not as healthy as I might prefer, it is delicious. Baking bread will definitely bring some happy faces into the kitchen and is a great way to treat your family or yourself. (Just a side note: slathering with butter is NOT healthy, so occassional is a good word to remember here!)

So as promised, I will post one new recipe each week. My friend Betty requested this recipe for Ricotta Cheese Bread after I posted on Facebook that I had just taken it out of the pan. Though I created this for my bread machine, you can make it regardless of whether you have one or not by simply mixing the ingredients together, kneading your dough, letting it rise until double in size, punch it down, place in loaf pan and allow to rise again, then bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 mins. (this is a small loaf, so that will be my best guess for time) or until golden brown. Bread machines are fairly inexpensive these days and if you like homemade, no preservative bread, then it is a great investment. It is also an investment in yourself, as it definitely will save you time. Buy one with a timer so you can walk in from a long day and smell your bread nearly finished and ready to eat! 

Ricotta Cheese Bread

1/4 c. milk
3/4 c. ricotta cheese (part-skim is what I used)
1 egg
2 1/4 c. unbleached flour
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg or 2 tsps yeast
4 tsps butter

Place milk and cheese in a microwave proof cup and heat to 80 degrees. (This will only take about 20 seconds on high or one minute on half power) It should feel just slightly warm.

Pour into machine; add egg; measure in flour, sugar and salt; make a small indention in the center and add yeast; place one tsp of butter in the four corners of the pan. Follow manufacturers directions for one pound loaf. On mine, I set it to medium color and used the sweet bread setting. This is a fairly light bread, but oh so tasty! Enjoy!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Pink Power Ranger Day

This day comes but once a year, and in our family it is linked to two boys, now men, cousins who share the same birthday. My oldest son, Shawn, is thirty years old today. He came into the world thirteen hours after labor began, 9 lbs even and 22 inches long, with broad shoulders as painful to deliver as was his head! But what joy he brought into my life with that first cry. And what a great time I have always had being a mom, because no matter what else life hurls at me, my three sons can make me laugh harder than any other people I know and bring me joy by just knowing their presence is in the world. They are good men each one of them. As for the other birthday boy, on Shawn's ninth birthday, his cousin Forest decided it would be a good day to be born, and with great pains and labor, he came into the world at 10 lbs 10 ounces. I had promised Shawn if Forest was born on his birthday, I would be sure and call the school so someone could tell him. When I picked him up that afternoon the excitement was evident as he had been very proud to have the announcement made in his class that his cousin had arrived. But now you may be wondering, how did this become Pink Power Ranger day? Isn't the Pink Power Ranger a girl?

The Power Rangers were a force to be reckoned with while these boys were growing up. By the time Forest was old enough to watch the show, his cousin was growing beyond it and so when they would get together, Forest always told Shawn he was the Pink Power Ranger. Shawn, being the good sport that he was, and ever the "oldest brother" took it in stride and in turn teased Forest that he was the Pink Power Ranger. Well, somehow, as family teasing goes, and traditions begin the two became known as the Pink Power Rangers, and though separated by two hundred miles, they would call and wish each other happy birthday every year from one Pink Power Ranger to the other. My sister went so far as to make them a Pink Power Ranger cake one year when we were able to get them together for their birthday. And so it goes. The day has stuck and even my sister and I wish each other a Happy Pink Power Ranger day each year in honor of their birthdays.

These small family traditions, the funny sayings and silly happenings that define our families, are sources of happiness. Though with divorce, some traditions may fall by the wayside because they had been shared with you and your ex, take the time, nonetheless, to nurture the small traditions for your kids. Find the joyful moments and allow them to create new ones. Encourage their laughter, their fun, because childhood is so short and divorce is so serious, but it need not define their lives, any more than it should define yours. Take time to write in your journal some of the traditions you and your children might already have and think of ways to encourage their light hearted fun. Happy Pink Power Ranger day to you and yours!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's the little things

This week, I have been getting back into my exercise routine of a walk/run six days a week and at least three days of some yoga. I had neglected myself greatly through the holidays, and then directly after the holidays, we had a cold spell here that was actually too cold for outdoor activity. And because our house is not built for that kind of cold, I had trouble even making myself unbundle enough from my warm clothes to go through a yoga sequence. So this week, as the sun returned and the temperature came back to normal, I was out on the road with my dog and stretching and breathing through the downward dog and cobra. Needless to say, I have been a bit sore and just as evening came on, I was sinking into a hot bath with a glass of wine by my side. And this is when I realized, there is nothing like a hot bath, something that I have only truly come to enjoy over the last five years or so, as I have always been a fan of the shower. I started thinking about the joy such a small pleasure can provide; I also thought about how fortunate I am to even be able to have such a luxury, as I read all week about the devastation the people of Haiti are experiencing.

I have spent some time this week counting my blessings, taking pleasure in the small things that life has to offer. Regardless of our personal circumstances, the hardships of divorce, of single parenting, of being lonely or perhaps any other difficulty you may be facing, we have so much to be thankful for in this country, in the "ease" of our lives every day. Take some time this week to appreciate something small, like a hotbath, and again realize, happiness is yours if you just choose it. Writing in your journal each day one small thing to be thankful for or something which makes you smile, can help you realize it is the little things that matter most at times. And it is the little things that buoy us up, contributing to a fulfilling happy life.

Choose Happiness!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chocolate chip and oat scones

Those of you have the book, Choosing Happiness After Divorce,  know that each chapter includes a recipe. I have decided I should start including at least one recipe a week in the blog to encourage you to take time for yourself and your family, or friends, to cook or bake and sit down together to enjoy each other's company and conversation. So here's my first recipe.

During the summer when fresh fruits and vegetables abound it is easy to stay on the healthy straight and narrow, but once the cold long days of winter set in, I start craving the carbs like cookies, cakes and homemade breads. Today my Scottish heritage kicked into gear and oat scones were calling my name! I did some sleuthing around and eventually put together a recipe that was delicious, and with the oats, at least a little bit nutritious; however, I could not resist adding mini chocolate chips, instead of the traditional currents.

Chocolate Chip Oat Scones

1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/4 c. turbinado sugar (marketed as Sugar in the Raw)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c. cold butter (1 stick)
1 c. old fashioned oats
zest of 1 orange (I did not have an orange, but used a clementine instead)
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 Tbs. turbinado sugar
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or use a piece of parchement paper to keep scones from sticking.

Place butter in bottom of large bowl. Measure flour, 1/2 c. turbinado (you can substitute this sugar with light brown sugar), baking powder, and baking soda into bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is well incorporated and in small bits. Add the oats and zest; mix in with the pastry blender; add the chocolate chips and stir into the mixture with a fork. Add the buttermilk and mix quickly with a fork until buttermilk is distributed, but do not over mix. Use hands to form into a ball. It will seem dry at first, but squeeze it together and it will take shape. Pat dough into a 7 inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Arrange on cookie sheet, leaving room in between each scone. Sprinkle with the rest of the turbinado sugar or any coarse grain sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 8 scones. Serve with hot tea. And should you happen to have some clotted cream around you could always serve with a dollop or so. Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Ten Minute Challenge

With the New Year in full swing, resolutions or goals set in place, the question becomes: Are you following through on your goals and resolutions? Are you taking the steps you laid out for yourself? I hope you are well on your way to a new and glorious year, but if you are struggling with those resolutions, or haven't been able to set out clear and specific step by step goals for yourself, then I have a challenge for you. I came up with this idea based on the ideas in my Seven Keys to Happiness program.

We often overwhelm ourselves when we want to make changes in our lives by setting goals with no clear cut path to achieving them. Saying I want to lose twenty pounds is a great goal to have, but how are you going to achieve it? Finding a new job as a goal is fine, but what will that require of you? So here's the ten minute challenge: every day set aside just ten minutes towards achieving your goals. Just ten minutes a day will make a difference because most of us, by the end of January aren't spending even a second thinking about those goals. What then do you do with those ten minutes? You take one step towards your goal. Want to lose weight? Use the ten minutes to change one habit, so instead of grabbing a hand full of chips for a snack, you cut up an apple and you do this every day until it becomes a habit. Need to change jobs? Spend ten minutes every day researching the job you want to attain and writing down the steps necessary to achieve it. Want to change your attitude? Spend ten minutes reading something positive everyday. Ten minutes is not much to give when you consider the number of minutes most people watch television. Give this a try and once ten minutes is part of your daily routine, you will probably find yourself allotting more and more time towards improving your life in all manners. Take the ten minute challenge for thirty days, that is all it takes to begin new habits that can change your life.

I am a strong advocate for the power of writing. Writing forces your brain to think differently and more precisely. Take the time to write in your journal and if you are working on achieving goals, I guarantee you, there will be a change in your ability to follow through when you write the goals down and then write about your progress! Take the challenge and choose happiness!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

When friendship with an ex is too much

I read a posting in a divorce community today from a woman who stated her ex wants to be "best friends," that he wants no other woman in his life but her, however, has no intention of remarriage or even a committed relationship. She says to add to this, she is depressed and doesn't know what to do. As I read that, my heart just ached for her because she is stuck in limbo, a horrific limbo, of still desperately wanting that relationship and unable to move forward on the slim chance he might change his mind. I'm afraid the likelihood of this ending well is slim. If they were both committed to working on the relationship and moving towards the possibility of remarriage I would tell her to go for it if that's what she wants, but under the circumstances, my guess is he just wants to keep her in a holding pattern until he finds someone else and I can only imagine the heartache that will then occur. Even if he truly just wants to remain "best friends" this is not healthy for either person. While being friendly with your ex is great for everyone involved, especially the kids, going further than that is going to hurt someone more than likely.

Creating distance from your ex is necessary to allow yourself the room to move forward. If there are children involved requiring your continued communication, that's fine, but keep your private life private. And don't worry about the kids, according to resources I've read, and based on my own experience, your children will keep your private life just that without any prodding from either one of you. Just let them be at ease without the directive "don't tell your dad" or "don't tell your mom." This puts a lot of pressure on them and begins the secrets and lies that can and will destroy any relationship. Now that said, if you are on any of the social networking sites out there, remember, if you want to keep something private, don't post it!

Take steps to move forward by seeking new friendships, involving yourself in activities you've always wanted to try, joining an organization you might find interesting or taking a class through an extended learning program. Once you start meeting new friends and actively moving away from your ex, this will make moving forward that much easier. It's not easy to put the past behind, but by taking baby steps in that direction, eventually you will be striding forward with purpose!

Spend some time in your journal writing about interests you might like to explore and how you might meet some new people. I know this can be tough if living in a small town, but even tweaking your relationship circle slightly may result in big changes down the road.

Choose Happiness!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Goals for the New Year!

2010! New Year and New Decade! I have been working on my goals for this year and enjoying making the plans for a new year. There is something definitely exciting about the chance to start anew; to look at the coming year as a new beginning no matter what the last entailed. I love that feeling of promise it brings. I am also planning out my weekly calendar as well, with goals that should be accomplished each day. I've never taken this step before, but working mostly from home has made me realize that the day to day planning is what makes or breaks any goals I set for myself.

In my last blog entry I talked about setting your goals. I hope you have all been taking some time to do so. After a divorce, when much is riding on your shoulders, this can make the difference between constant frustration or confident movement forward. I always have at least one goal pertaining to weight and this year is no different. I have yoyo'd about thirty pounds of unnecessary weight on and off for so long that I sometimes thought it was futile to keep trying, but this last year I managed to keep my weight under a goal weight that I set for myself and this year I'm going to move it down five more pounds and try holding steady there. This has worked far better than any other method I've ever tried. I also have made a far greater effort to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, more fish, and less sugar without evoking the "d" word and amazingly this has helped too. So again, no "d" for me this year, just a steady diet of good, healthy, as close to nature food as possible and a steady walk/run routine six days a week and I think I can lose another five and stay below that set weight the entire year! And by the way, I never even gave up my daily dose of dark chocolate and a glass of red wine, and it still worked!

Set your goals and go at them with all your might! Life is too short and too sweet to do less! Write as you go, and you will find that journaling can help you stay on target. Good luck! Choose Happiness!