Sunday, December 13, 2009


I've long appreciated Christine Kane and benefited from the insights I’ve gleaned from her blog. One of my favorite of her suggestions is that people skip New Year’s resolutions and instead pick a word that will guide them throughout the year.

I’ve accepted her challenge to choose a word to inspire me through the year for the last several years. For 2008 it was courage, and this year it was rejoice.

I knew, of course, what “rejoice” meant. But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look it up in the dictionary anyway. There I learned that rejoice means to “feel great joy” and “be glad” and “take delight” and “celebrate in some event” and “cause great joy to.” I decided to explore each of these meanings over the year by committing to write a blog post about it here each Sunday.

I am happy to report that I wrote every week over the whole year except for two. (For the missing two posts it was not that I found myself with too little to rejoice in, but too much! There simply wasn’t time.) I went back and looked at some of my “rejoice” posts, and it was truly delightful to realize that I had captured so many joyful moments over the year.

I’ve always appreciated as much about my life as I possibly could. But here’s the thing: Choosing this word seemed to call me to play a bigger game. It was as if it said “Oh, you think your life’s so great? Well, much of it (genetics, culture, socio-economic status) was determined for you. What are you going to do to make it truly great?”

Appreciating my life created contrast, too. I saw so many women having a hard time appreciating their lives. I wanted to help them see how amazing their lives were, how amazing they were. And for those who couldn’t find anything to appreciate about the life they were currently living, I wanted them to realize they had the ability to create the exact life they wanted.

I was inspired to carve out something of my very own, something I had never done before, something risky. I decided to start a business and 6 months ago I launched my life coaching practice, Midwife for Your Life.

A year ago I would have claimed that I didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. And I wouldn’t have imagined that I had the ability to do it. It has certainly been the greatest self-imposed challenge of my life.

All I can say is I have indeed learned that it is easy to rejoice when everything is going my way, but not so when problems arise no matter how hard I work, when clients are not banging down my door, and even worse, don’t seem to appreciate me and the service I offer.

I have learned that I would rather show up and play bigger, even when it feels uncomfortable (and let me tell you, it’s so much more comfortable to sit in my lovely home with my sweet family and count my blessings).

I have learned that I can do things imperfectly and still accomplish a lot, and even better, derive great joy from it - much more than I ever would have if I had decided to value comfort over a dream.

I have learned that I would rather stretch and grow as I reach for the dream. I want to live each day doing the “hard” thing, testing my mettle and knowing the world benefited from it. And that has been the source of much rejoicing.

So, dear reader, if you have followed my posts this year, you have seen that I have come here less and less. In the last couple of months I have just managed to get in my "rejoice" posts. With this post, I'm not sure when or if I will continue to blog here. You see, as I wrote last week, I have a new blog, and I just don't think I will have the time and energy to post here, there and my weekly eZine.
I appreciate SO much that you have come to this blog and I really do hope you will "follow" me (just click on the link above!) to my new blog! Happy Holidays and take wonderful care!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Blog!

Hello Friends!

For anyone who has continued to check back with this oft-neglected blog, I am thrilled to announce that I will launch the Midwife for Your Life Blog tomorrow, Monday 12/7!

And if you have been a follower of this blog, you know that the thing that has kept me coming back is my intention to write weekly about what I am finding to rejoice in - you see, "rejoice" was me Word of the Year for 2009.

Next week I will be publishing a post about what that word has meant for me over the last 12 months and then that will probably be the end of this sweet little blog. I know I won't be able to manage *two* blogs at the same time.

So, again, I hope you will meet me here!

And I suppose it goes without saying that this week I am rejoicing in my new blog!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Very Happy Thanksgiving!

We had many happy days over the Thanksgiving holidays. Here are just a few pictures to tell the story.

This week I'm rejoicing in joyful connection with my family!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Celebrating Non-Belly Button Family

Last night we had our 6th Annual Alternative Thanksgiving Celebration! It's a way to celebrate with our non-belly button family and it was delightful as always. MFK Fisher once wrote "There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk." and that could be the anthem for this party.

This week I'm rejoicing in my lovely community!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Very Happy Halloween!

I only have a moment but I'm determined to get in my "rejoice" post on time! It seems that I have so much to rejoice about I don't have time to document it all! So I will mostly let the pictures tell the story.

If you look closely you'll see bats that were cut out of black construction paper in an attempt to make the porch "more spookier." I think with the black cobwebs, black bats, and scary pumpkin we did a good job! All in all it was a spooktacular day! And I am rejoicing in all of it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Far Niente

I think I wrote about the Italian notion of "sweet doing nothing" earlier this year, but I really can't remember the last time we had a day with nothing planned in it. We are taking care of a neighbor's dog, so some walks are mandatory, but it is also a pleasure. I loved looking up and seeing that the sky was the most beautiful blue and the leaves, resplendent with autumn colors, were a gorgeous contrast. Today I am rejoicing in far niente!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Other Gold

A long time ago I used to sing “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” in rounds with my Girl Scout troupe and it really stuck with me.
This week my “gold” friend of 30+ years drove many miles to see me and celebrate my birthday. (A true BFF!) Neither of us had a camera to document the event, so I dug up an old photo from over 25 years ago, when we were 15.

My friend gave me a card and wrote how remarkable our friendship is for its ability to bring out the best in each other. It seems that we have always been able to see each other’s truest, wisest selves. That kind of friendship is a true gift.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Very Happy Birthday!

I turned 40 on Monday the 5th but I have a custom of celebrating my birthday for as many days as I've been on the planet. It started last Friday October 2nd, so I have 31 more days to go. I've already had such a blast. But the highlight so far was my son singing me the Happy Birthday song.

This week I'm rejoicing in many wonderful days of joyful celebration!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Unstoppable Power

Another rejoice post in a day late! But I have a really good reason - I spent the weekend at Christine Kane's "Unstoppable Power of Intention" Retreat. Christine has become an amazing mentor to me and my business.

I liken Christine to a speedboat that pulls me along on my skis - I am amazed by how much distance I have covered in such a short time. I appreciate the inspiration, guidance and support I have received from her so much.

This week I'm rejoicing in feeling unstoppable (and a great mentor).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Look Closely: Pictures from a Beach Week

My husband upload the pictures for my blog yesterday so I could post it today while I'm working in the hospital. I think it's funny that I want to document a beach trip and I only have one picture that shows a scene of sand and surf! (Look closely or you may miss it!)

Friends took more pictures from the actual beach and promise to send them to me, and as soon as I get them, I'll post them here!

Do you remember pics of my son and his best friend from last year's California trip? Well, this year they came to our coast to be with us!

Our friends' 7 year-old daughter is amazing. She has many gifts - one of them is rolling with the energy of 2 very spirited 4 year-old boys!

There was so much love in the house!

My friend and I are planning to collaborate on a blog for Midwife for Your Life. She is an amazing mama and writer. I am SO excited!

One day we had a super-groovy afternoon dance party!

Okay, I don't want you to miss it! Here is the one pic that actually documents we were at the beach! (Not sure why it is turned sideways (like the other one above) and I'll try to fix it when I get home tomorrow.)

My husband is helping our son fly a kite by himself for the first time. Beach pleasures don't get much better!

Love, love, love my girls!

This week I'm rejoicing in the memories of a lovely week with family and friends (at the beach)!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Article in Verve!

Yesterday was the first Sunday since the beginning of the year that I missed a "What I'm rejoicing in this week" post.

You see, "rejoice" is my word-of-the-year and I wanted to document it by coming here weekly. It seems that I had a little too much to rejoice about yesterday to write about it!

We just got back from a glorious week at the beach with family and friends (photos to come soon!), I just hosted my first wildly successful Women's Wisdom Mastermind Group, and my "American Midwife in Mexico" article came out in Verve magazine!

You can read the article here.

So, again, this week I'm rejoicing in...too much rejoicing! (If there is such a thing as too much rejoicing!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

War Buddies

One of my coaching clients is haunted by the memory of a former partner. She wonders how she allowed such a “bad” relationship to go on for so long. Of course she did the best she could with the awareness she had at the time. But now she has 20/20 hindsight.

We’ve all been in her shoes. We wish we could’ve been more conscious, more able to act on the signs that things were not going well, and avoided the “bad” thing that happened. But when we focus on the past, we ignore the clarity that is available to us right now, and the insight that can help guide us to an even better place.

That shift in focus from the past to the present to the future takes some effort. Blaming the other person is much easier, of course. And we can also pretend that we were duped or unconscious the whole time. But we are much more likely to find peace—as well as some benefit from the experience—if we withhold this kind of judgment.

So if you’re looking back on a bad experience or relationship and blaming yourself or someone else, try this instead. Rather than looking at the person with whom you had the conflict as the enemy, try to look at him as an old war buddy. You shared a tough time, but you got through it. You did your best under hazardous conditions, and now you can recount your “war stories” without any remorse that things should have been different. Just accept that they happened and simply move on.

Do you feel some resistance to letting this person — a partner, friend, family member, or even a past you — off so easily? Then perhaps consider that when you choose to forgive someone whose behavior hurt you, you do yourself a huge favor. Someone once said that holding on to resentment is like eating rat poison and hoping the rat will die. You could release the hurt, anger and sense of betrayal not because the person “deserves” it, but because you will feel better when you do. If forgiveness is out of reach right now, then just don’t think about it. Refuse to think or talk about what happened until you can look at the topic with some equanimity. The less you return to the painful memories, the sooner that time will come.

I’m not saying you should condone the behavior that hurt you. And I’m certainly not saying you should jump back in the foxhole with your old war buddy. I’m just saying that when you can accept what happened—which means, more than anything else, that you understand that what happened truly did happen in a past you can’t change—then you’ll start to move on. And where are you going? You are moving forward on the path in front of you, right here, right now. Just start moving. And forget about figuring out what happened in the past “so as not to repeat it.” You don’t even have to feel like you “learned a lesson” or you got a “gift” from a relationship, or even any new skills or tools. You just have to start paying attention right now.

But how can you be sure that history won’t repeat itself? Again, the answer is simple, and lays the past to rest by keeping you in the present. Just learn to notice when things are out of balance in your life. And how will you know? There's a built in signal that will always let you know when things are out of balance. It's called stress. You want to take your awareness of the stressful feeling and try to find the stressful thought that is creating it. From there try to identify a thought that feels better. It may take some practice, but you will get better at it.

And when you consistently engage in the practice of identifying your stressful, negative thoughts and find alternative, better-feeling thoughts research shows that you are creating new neural pathways that will lead to long lasting benefits, like decreased anxiety and depression, and increased satisfaction and happiness. Bottom line: you will change, and as a consequence your world will change for the better, too.

Not everyone gets to make a new world. But people who want to put their past behind them have a golden opportunity to do so. And that is a gift. You can thank your old war buddy for it the next time you see him.

This week I'm rejoicing in the launch of my new eZine, Special Delivery! Sign up for your FREE weekly subscription – delivered straight to your email inbox every Tuesday!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Your Einstein Time

One of my coaching clients wrote to me this week about the issue she finds most challenging in her life. She is the mother of a 2 year-old spirited child and the effort of meeting his needs, her husband’s, her own and those of the household often leaves her exhausted. She asked for some suggestions to address her situation.

She is a devoted mother and experiences great joy in caring for her son. The thing is, she also wants to carve out more time for herself and other pursuits, particularly meaningful and lucrative work. I think there are many mamas who are in the same boat. I know I was. Fortunately I successfully navigated those choppy waters and found my way to my own Lake Placid. From my current vantage point, I can happily offer suggestions.

But first a little backstory: When my son, Finn, was 7 months old I was at the end of my rope. I was juggling work as a nurse-midwife, the needs of my still-nursing-through-the-night child (who, in fact, would never sleep unless he was literally attached), and all the other aspects of my full life. I felt like I was not even on the list.

I knew this couldn’t go on. So I set the intention of finding someone to help me and my husband care for our child, believing that would help me get my needs met. I wanted to find that proverbial “village” that would help me raise our child, and I was especially interested in someone who could care for him and love him like a grandmother. We found exactly what we were looking for—more on that in a minute—and I know I became happier and more productive as a result.

So my suggestion to my client (based on what had worked for me) was to find someone who can help care for her child for a couple of hours most days of the week. This someone could be a student who comes after school or even a neighbor. Will this cost money? Probably. But even when money was tight in our household, we never questioned the value of paying someone to care for Finn so that we were able to get a break from his care and attend to our own needs. In fact, we sometimes skimped in other areas (beans and rice, anyone?) so that we had the money to pay for childcare. And that is what I suggested to my client, and would recommend to anyone in the same situation.

Even if you are not doing "work for money" during this time, this will be your creative time, your “Einstein time.” I call it “Einstein time” because Albert Einstein appreciated the value of “soft” thinking. He would, of course, spend hours poring over calculations and theorizing over problems. But he would also sometimes set aside the problem and redirect his attention to something enjoyable and relaxing. He found that during these pleasurable pursuits his unconscious mind would go on thinking about the challenge and surprise him with a breakthrough insight or innovation at the time when he least expected it.

So in the case of my client, who wants to have work that is fulfilling and lucrative in addition to being a mama, I suggested that she start by carving out time for herself to do that work (even though she doesn’t have it yet).But even having this free time only leaves my client’s problems half-solved. Fortunately, though, we can turn to Einstein again for advice on how to make it the rest of the way.

So how can she find lucrative work that she can fit in around all the other demands on her time? Well, as Einstein once said, You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.” I always act from the belief that everyone can get their needs met if they allow themselves to be open to novel ways of thinking. If, even after you’ve set aside not-thinking-about-the-problem-la-la-la-la time, your unconscious mind seems to be moving at a glacial pace to solve it, there is another route you can take: simply asking a variety of other people for ideas allows myriad solutions to present themselves quite easily.

This is actually how my husband and I found our childcare provider. Shortly after I set the intention to find the best one I could, my husband and I were sitting in a local bakery. I saw a woman filling out a job application, so I turned to my husband and said, "She obviously wants a job. Maybe she could take care of Finn. Do you think it would be strange if I went up to her and asked her if she could help us?" My husband said, "Yes it would be strange, but I’m sure you’ll do it anyway." I did and - four years later - she has been Finn's beloved "abuela" (Spanish for grandmother) ever since.

You see, like Einstein, you are looking for “different thinking” that will help solve your problem. And researchers at the University of Zurich have developed a technique that will help you structure the process of turning to others for advice when you’re stumped by a challenge. They call this technique “the idea basket,” and it can be a powerful way to solve your problems. Here’s what you do: Imagine that there is a basket in front of you and that you are going to fill it with suggestions from your friends, family members, even acquaintances - basically anyone with whom you could possibly strike up a conversation.

Begin by making a list of the situations, circumstances and triggers which are challenging you at the moment. Then ask as many people as you can to come up with for ways to respond. Try to get ideas from people in as many different social groups as possible. Ask your favorite co-worker, but also approach your hair stylist, your child’s soccer coach, your 20-year-old babysitter—even complete strangers at your local bakery!

This week I'm rejoicing in novel solutions to sticky issues - and everyone getting their needs met!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Be a Brain Scientist

To think is to practice brain chemistry.” - Deepak Chopra

Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, I’m no brain scientist…”? Quite recently I had lunch with a friend while he was on a break from work. When he ordered a beer I raised my eyebrows in mock astonishment. He replied “It’s not like I’m performing brain surgery later.”

But we are all brain scientists. Our thoughts really do affect our brain chemistry. And we can be like surgeons in our ability to carefully excise negative thoughts from our gray matter.

Our patterns of thought are simply habits, but they are grounded in rich neural circuitry. Like deer in the woods, our thoughts form paths that will most likely be retread unless we consciously set out to find a new way. The first step to that new way is to be aware that thoughts can either be unconscious or conscious.

Fortunately, the unconscious variety is actually very short-lived. You experience these when you have an emotional reaction to a trigger in your environment. For example: you’re walking on a road and come upon a rattling snake. When you see and hear the snake, a circuit in your brain trips to tell you the environment isn’t safe. For a short time hormones, or chemical messengers, flood your body and you are in “fight or flight” mode. You stifle a scream and run in the opposite direction.

Brain research has shown that the time from the trigger through the hormone’s release and complete dissolution in your bloodstream is only 90 seconds. If you are still anxious and uncomfortable after that brief period, it is because you are continuing to tell the story of the snake in your path—even though it is far away and not able to harm you.

When you continue to think of the snake you are “hooking” back into the fear-based circuitry, even though your environment is now safe. It is important to pay close attention to how much time we spend hooked into the circuitry of negative emotions. Getting caught up in these loops for long periods of time can cause us to get stuck in a groove like a warped 45, and they can lead to feelings of depression and powerlessness.

The challenge, then, is not to get hooked. The challenge is to choose to think other thoughts, thoughts that feel better, like, “I’m glad I was paying attention and avoided upsetting that snake.”

To take another example, let’s say I am thinking about my 4-year-old son, Finn. Thinking about him is a specific circuit in my brain. Each thought I think about him can either trigger me to feel very strong positive or negative emotions.

In my brain, thoughts of Finn and the emotional circuitry of joy are intimately linked. Usually, I smile just thinking of him. Right now as I’m writing this and thinking of him I’m reminded of a song he has been singing lately, the Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine.” But Finn sings it “Good Day, Some Time.” It cracks me up every time.

But there are also other occasions when I am likely to feel bad when I think of him. Just tonight we went into an office supply store so that I could buy a phone, and he picked up a big package of chalk and asked to buy it. I said no and reminded him that he already had a big bucket of chalk at home. He again asserted his desire for the chalk, and I again declined to buy it. He burst into tears and was inconsolable for a few minutes.

When I think of that exchange I feel bad. I wish he hadn’t wanted the chalk. I wish I had been able to negotiate his request better and been able to mitigate the tears. I wish I had been less tired after a day of caring for him and his needs. I know that I could have been more patient and handled the situation better and the fact that I didn’t is the source of negative emotion.

So now I have a choice: focus on his happy song or his frustrated tears. In the moment of thinking either thought, and tripping its underlying emotional and physiological circuitry, my mouth will either lift in a smile or purse in a frown. Those strong thoughts and feelings have the potential to jump instantly into my mind. But I always have the power to consciously choose which emotional and physiological loops I want to hook into.

Realizing that you can be aware of your neural circuitry and choose whether or not to engage it is a powerful tool. If you are triggered, learning to give yourself 90 seconds to breathe through the release and dissolution of the negative chemical messengers, and then learning to choose a different, better-feeling thought will help you go a long way on your path to happiness.

This week I'm rejoicing in my child's happy song.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Boy and His Uncle

My younger (by 12 years) brother spent a day with us last week and it was so much fun. He lives in NYC so we don't get to see him as much as we'd like, but it is always great when we do. He has always been wonderful with G. But there has been an interesting development since we last saw him in June: G got a hand-me-down video game system from his older cousins. (A Game Boy, I think. I really don't know.) I never played home video games as a kid (I did enjoy the occasional trip to the arcade for a game of Pac Man, but that was the extent of it.), and so I have no idea how to help my young son with his new interest. His dad tries his best, but he's not much help either.

So it was with great joy that G discovered that his uncle not only knew how to play the game (Super Mario? Again, I'm not sure.), but he was a skilled teacher as well. I wasn't thrilled that the game came to the dinner table (that's them asking for one more minute in the pic below), but their enthusiasm was contagious (and they did put it away after a minute) and truly delightful.

And, amazingly, the game was even put away for classic old-school boy fun - toy soldiers!

All in all it was a fabulous visit. This week I'm rejoicing in the wonderful bond between my boy and his uncle.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Full Sun Farm 15th Week!

What's in the Box:
Green or Red Leaf Lettuce
Summer Squash
Red Sweet Peppers
Green Beans
Edamame Soybeans

I would never suggest that you do anything with the watermelon other than open it and eat it (although chunks of watermelon with feta and kalamata olives and a light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar is divine). That done, if you have the time and curiosity, I suggest that you use the rind as well. This recipe for pickled watermelon rind is originally from the magazine Bon Ap├ętit.

* 1 4-pound piece watermelon, quartered
* 8 cups water
* 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt

* 2 cups sugar
* 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
* 8 whole cloves
* 8 whole black peppercorns
* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Cut watermelon pulp from rind, leaving thin layer of pink on rind. Cut green outer skin from rind; discard. Cut enough rind into 1 x 1/2-inch pieces to measure 4 cups. Combine 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt in large pot; bring to boil. Add rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Strain. Transfer rinds to large metal bowl. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons salt, sugar and next 7 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over watermelon rinds in bowl. Place plate atop rinds to keep rinds submerged in pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Strain liquid from rinds into saucepan; bring to boil. Pour over rinds. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Repeat straining and boiling of liquid and pour over rinds 1 more time. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Chill in covered jars.)

The small bush you see is edamame--green soybeans--and this is the first year we have received them from the farm. I'm delighted to see them so close to their original form. A simple way to prepare them is to remove the pods from the stems and boil them for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice, and when they are cool eat the beans directly from the pod. They are also good marinated in soy sauce.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Don't Worry. I Got This.

Last week I wrote about the power of your story in anticipation of meeting 12 women for The Power of Your Story event I was hosting. All of the women were truly amazing and I would love to write about each one of them. Today, with her permission, I will tell the story of one of them.

Patricia Alcivar is the most inspiring women I’ve ever met – and I’ve known a lot of inspiring women. She is an incest survivor and left her family to live on the streets of NYC when she was 15 years old. She developed a friendship with a trainer who became the first person to believe in her and her talents and taught her to box.

She worked hard and eventually made it to the first ever Women's National Amateur Boxing Championship. She says, “I had just come from a recent loss at the NYC Golden Gloves when I really should have won. It was a complete robbery, but my trainer taught me the valuable lesson of never ever giving up no matter what. We trained harder and went to the Nationals and fought each of the 3 opponents with skill and determination to get me into the finals.”

For the final championship match she was paired against Leona Brown (better known as “Little Tyson” for her sheer ruthlessness), who had just won every one of her previous matches in this competition with a knockout. Patricia’s friends could barely hide their concern for her safety and doubt for her ability to win.

At the weigh-in her opponent “talked trash” about her and even shoved her, but Patricia remained calm. As her friends complained and criticized the other player’s behavior, Patricia felt calm and centered. She didn’t know where her clarity came from, but she told her friends with utmost confidence, “Don’t worry. I got this.”

And she did. She handily beat “Little Tyson” with her skill, talent and extraordinary determination. That performance led her to be the first woman in history to be voted athlete of the year by the USOC (United States Olympic Committee). Patricia is currently training as a professional for the world championship title. My money is definitely on her to win it.

Patricia’s story is a profound testament to what can be achieved when you realize that negative events and circumstances don’t define you, but you define you. You always have the ability to choose your response in any situation.

But what if you don’t feel you have Patricia’s level of determination to achieve your goals and dreams? What can you do to develop the ability to choose your response and define your story for yourself?

The answer is simple, though it can be tough to put it into practice. You can become aware of your inner voice.

When you heed your inner voice (or what some call a “gut feeling”), you strengthen your intuition – your best guide to creating a life you love. And when you honor your intuition, your awareness will change in a myriad of amazing and unexpected ways

If you listen to it, your intuition will first make you aware of an astonishing number of so-called coincidences. Things will start to “fit” in ways you never dreamed they could. Soon these coincidences will seem less like coincidences and more like signposts—turning points in the road to a desired destination, whether or not you know what that destination is. And then, after a while, you will experience life as a constantly unfolding miracle in which everything you need is ready at hand right when you need it—and sometimes even before you know you did.

That’s not to say that you’ll enjoy everything that happens, just that as time goes by the challenges and crises of your life will come to seem like the necessary training for the challenges you must confront on the way to your best life.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that, if you give your challenges the proper attention, they can help you focus on what you do want. Three months after my son was born I felt I needed to return to work. My work as a midwife required that I spend 24-hours shifts in the hospital and I didn’t want to be separated from my nursing infant for such extended periods of time. When I thought the financial necessity of returning to work required an unwanted separation from my child, I felt awful – I knew I didn’t want that.

The realization of what I didn’t want helped me form the desire for what I did want: I decided I would work in the hospital and bring my son with me. At the time it was absolutely unprecedented for a mother to bring her baby to work, and I had to work hard to convince the administration of its feasibility, but I did it and my child (and my husband who cared for him while I was seeing patients) came to work with me for over a year and a half. And I have to say that it wasn’t easy to juggle caring for my own child and caring for my patients, but it was worth it. Just like drawing something by drawing the space around it, you can find out your best life by paying close attention to your feelings—especially the ones you don’t want, or don’t feel you have a right to listen to—as you observe the life you have.

More importantly, though, your intuition can find in the challenges of your life all the evidence you need that you’re ready for something greater. As I wrote in my Providence Moves article, almost 10 years ago I knew I wanted more from my life but it took a little while before I figured out that it was living and working in remote Mexican villages. Did this seem impossible for a while? Yes. Was I scared to commit to that path? Absolutely. But as I looked at a life that was otherwise satisfactory I felt such a strong sense something was missing that I saw how much greater the life I really wanted was, and that if I chose, I could make it happen.

It may take some time before you hear it, too, but when you finally get the big thing your inner voice is trying to tell you, you will also hear it say, “Don’t worry. I got this.” It may be too small for you to hear it easily. It may be crowded out by all the other messages competing for your attention. But you can become aware of it. And using its wisdom is a great way to create your own powerful story.

But what do you do about those competing messages? What can you do to meet the challenges with openness for what they have to teach you about your life and what you most want? As I said, it takes some practice. But practicing your intuition is a lot more straightforward than you might think.

Try this exercise: take five minutes today (and every day from now on) and find a comfortable, quiet place to sit and think.

During this time think about what has happened in the day that most challenged you and ask, “What was that supposed to teach me? Can I find what was good and necessary about it?”

Then allow your intuition, your quiet inner voice, to offer the answer. When the 5 minutes is up, write your thoughts down. If you do this every day you will be astounded by how many people and situations show up in order to give you answers. More and more you will hear your inner voice saying, “Don’t worry. I got this.”

P.S. If you want to see phenomenal pictures of Patricia, Google her or go to Facebook and ask to be her "friend" - she's super friendly and I know she would love to know that you enjoyed hearing some of her story. (If you haven't already, "friend" me, too!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Full Sun Farm Week 14!

What's in our Box:

Lettuce Mix
Swiss Chard
Green Beans or Romano (Italian Flat) Beans
Blueberries (Back again?! Hooray!)

Notes Inspired from the Farm:

I love that I can offer a potato soup that highlights the pungent flavor of fresh parsley. (Using it only as a garnish seems like a waste to me.) Make the soup in the morning and then chill in the fridge and it is a delightful, cooling summer supper. This recipe is adapted from the Deborah Madison's wonderful Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. (The original recipe calls for parsley root - a kind of parsley that forms a white, carrot-shaped root below ground - in addition to fresh parsley, but it's not available at this time of year, so I use carrots instead.)

1 1/2 lbs potatoes
2 carrots
1 1/2 tbsp butter or olive oil
6 shallots or 1 onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chopped parsley
salt and freshly milled pepper
6 cups water or vegetable stock
1/3 cup cream (or additional water)

Quarter the potatoes lengthwise and thinly slice. Grate the carrots. Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the potatoes, carrots, onion, and bay leaves. Cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat, add the wine, and let it reduce until syrupy. Add 1 1/2 cups of the parsley, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and the water, bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes have broken apart, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and remaining parsley and heat through. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Remove the bay leaves and serve.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Power of Your Story

Today I met 12 other amazing women at an event I hosted this afternoon to have a conversation about this very topic. I wish all of my friends could have joined us! That’s why I want to share this article with you. I hope we can continue today’s conversation here!

Many people go through life creating by default; they just aren’t clear about what they really want. They become hung up on how much is going wrong in their life or in the world. And once that happens, they start to tell a story—they construct a narrative around the grim details that have captured their attention. “People ask too much of me.” “My house is a mess.” “I don’t have enough money to do what I really want.” We’ve all heard these tales, and what’s worse, we’ve all told them. It’s really easy to let those thoughts weigh us down and sap our creative energy.

So how do you say “Cut!”? How do you stop telling the bad stories and start telling the good ones? To begin, you need to understand that events are not part of a narrative, that they simply happen. When you see that all events are neutral, you then recognize that the stories you see behind them are your stories—good, bad or indifferent. If you can reserve judgment, you give yourself a chance to let events unfold.

Once you do that, you can move on to create another story, one that feels better, one with a chance at a happy ending. That choice may seem to be a stretch sometimes, but like any exercise, it will become easier with time. Soon it becomes second nature to reflect on what you’re perceiving, see the tragedy you’ve started composing in your head, and then move on to craft that better-feeling story. The peace that comes with that choice is its own reward. But it gets even better: in time, your new story will have a ripple effect, creating positive results that will astound you.

Research shows that when you consistently engage in the practice of identifying your stressful, negative thoughts and find alternative and better-feeling thoughts you are creating new neural pathways that will lead to long-lasting benefits – decreased anxiety and depression and increased ability to find creative solutions, and ultimately satisfaction and happiness.

Of course, it’s not realistic to think that you can go immediately from a bad-feeling thought to a happy place. More than anything, you’re looking for a feeling of relief from where you were a moment ago. Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or depressed by what is happening in your life right now is only a problem if you can’t think of what it is you want to be different. Still not sure? Let me walk you through an example from my own life.

Quite recently, an administrator in my hospital announced that at best, everyone in the hospital would receive a minimal raise this year. Even if we did everything right, all we could hope for was 2.5%, when exemplary employees would normally get 5%. After I heard this, I had some pretty stressful thoughts – among them were fears that the hospital was going to lay off employees—and that I could be among them! I also told myself that I had been counting on a raise, and everyone needs at least a 3% increase in salary every year to just meet the rising cost of living.

After a few minutes of those thoughts (a few very painful minutes), I realized that I was telling a story. I then challenged myself to find an alternative, better-feeling story; here is what I came up with:

“I don’t know that the hospital will need to lay off employees. In fact, I know they recently hired new employees. They are probably cutting back on raises so they don’t have to lay off people, or cut salaries (and I know many businesses are doing both).”

“I am grateful for my job and will keep appreciating all of the good things that I enjoy about it. If I need more money this year, I can always find other ways to make it or I will find ways to spend less. I trust that I always have whatever I need.”

I felt so much better after this internal self-talk. It made me feel powerful and abundant at the same time. And the facts hadn’t changed: all I had done was realize that the facts were neutral, that they included a few things I had chosen not to see, that I was telling a story I didn’t like—and that I had the power to tell a different one.

How about you? Have you ever been aware of a negative thought and tried to “talk” yourself to a better-feeling place? If not, are you willing to try now?

This week I'm rejoicing in meeting 12 amazing women to share our powerful stories - and that I always have the ability to tell the better-feeling story!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Full Sun Farm 13th Week!

What's in the Box:
Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
Swiss Chard
Green Beans
Cherry Tomatoes

We still had a pound of green beans left from last week. Coupled with the pound we got this week I knew I needed to get serious about preparing them.

Hence the roasted green bean salad we're having for dinner tonight! The beans and garlic are roasting as I write this and quite a heady smell is coming from the kitchen!

This recipe, by the way, is another favorite from The New Vegetarian Epicure.

2 lbs green beans
1 head garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 large red tomatoes
balsamic vinegar to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Wash and trim the green beans, and separate and peel the cloves of garlic. Reserve one small clove of garlic and toss the remaining garlic and the beans in a bowl with half the olive oil, salt to taste, and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread them evenly over two baking sheets and roast them in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Stir and turn the beans at least once during the course of roasting. The roasting time will vary with the size of the beans--they are done when they have a somewhat wrinkled and blistered look, with light-brown spots here and there. A marvelous toasty fragrance will alert you.

While the beans are roasting, peel the tomatoes and chop them, keeping all the juice. Mince the reserved clove of garlic, combine the tomatoes, their juice, the garlic, the remaining olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, a little salt and pepper, and the chopped basil. Crush everything together a bit to blend the flavors. When the beans are ready, transfer them to a big, shallow bowl and pour the tomato dressing over them. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

I need to get back to the kitchen to make the dressing. I hope you are enjoying the local flavors in your area. I'd love to hear what you're eating!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"I'm not Shaq" - And Some Other Thoughts on Creating Peace

One of my coaching clients is struggling because she feels angry and resentful about a perceived injustice. Her tribunal of friends all agree: she was wronged. When in the midst of a conflict it can be challenging but helpful to ask yourself this question: Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?

When you want to be happy, or at least peaceful, you don’t have to wait for the transgressor to “get it” and make amends. You can simply choose to be happy, or at least peaceful. To illustrate this point I’d like you to consider Shaquille O’Neal.

A lot of suffering comes from the thought that reality should be different than it is. We think people shouldn’t act the way they are acting - they should act in a manner that is pleasing to us. And very often we have the tribunal agreeing with us.

So that’s the first reason to allow Shaq into your consciousness. Because you have in him a highly-trained athlete—a champion at his sport—who sometimes messes up. That’s right: Shaq is going to win some games and he is going to lose some games, no matter how much his fans want him to win all the time. No matter how much his fans think he should win all the time.

Now look at the people in your life. None of us is paid millions of dollars and ensured the cheers of the masses as a reward for making others in our lives happy. Nobody gets a championship ring for being selfless; nobody gets a college scholarship for conflict resolution. Truth be told, we probably don’t even give others in our lives a lot of positive reinforcement for making us happy.

Shaq loses the occasional game, and there’s nothing his fans can do about it. The people in our lives can make us unhappy. And once again, there’s not a lot we can do to change them. People are going to be who they are. But in any conflict, you can do something about the other person—you. You can do a lot about how you perceive the situation.

Enter Shaq, again. Because if you have been hurt or frustrated by someone’s behavior, you might want to try practicing non-attachment, otherwise known as the art of not taking things personally. If someone has hurt or frustrated me it’s because I (at least at one time) cared about how the person behaved. And I’ve learned to take the heat out of a conflict by playing with the idea that it has nothing to do with me. That it involves someone else, someone as unlike me as possible. Someone like a certain 7-foot tall champion basketball player.

Try it: when faced with conflict or criticism, receive the other person’s words or actions as if they were directed at Shaq. Because if a stranger called you and said, “Hey Shaq, you lost that game last night! You are a LOSER!” you would find the exchange odd, but I’m guessing you wouldn’t take it personally. You would say, “Um, I’m not Shaq.” and end the conversation. Declining to react negatively can really be that simple—though it does take some practice – and helps create peace.

And finally, one of the hardest things about rolling with conflict is dealing with our own failure, our own culpability. And that’s where another champion basketball player comes in. Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve failed over and over again in my life.” Somehow we don’t usually connect failure with Michael Jordan and yet he also said that failing helped him succeed. And it’s true for all of us. There is not one of us who is perfect and above reproach - we all fail over and over again. And we all have the same opportunity to learn from our failures, get back in the game and have some fun.

This week I'm rejoicing in...Facebook! I'm having so much fun over there. If you haven't already, I wish you would join me. If you were over there you'd see a really cool picture of Shaq along with this article. (I couldn't figure out how to put it up here.)

If you follow my blog, you've probably noticed that the frequency of posts has diminished. I am spending more time over at my Facebook page. I really enjoy posting daily messages that are grounded in positive psychology and they often lead to fun discussions. So if you'd like to join me, just go to Facebook and search for me, Stacey Curnow. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Full Sun Farm 12th Week!

It's high summer and we've got a box from our CSA to prove it! Other interests - mainly summer fun - have left me with little time for the computer and blogging, but I love the bounty we get from our CSA so much that I feel compelled to share it here! I hope you are enjoying wonderful seasonal and local fare, too!

What's in the Box:

Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
Summer Squash
Green Peppers
Green Beans
Red and Heirloom Tomatoes

Notes from the farm:

The green peppers in your box would turn red if left on the plant, but in this climate they often succumb to disease before they fully mature. As such, it is rare that we have enough red peppers for the CSA. I like to eat the green peppers cooked and stuffed, as in this recipe from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone:

2 bell peppers, halved lengthwise
2 tbsp butter
1 bunch scallions, including the greens, thinly sliced
2-1/2 to 3 cups corn kernels
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
4-5 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, or 1 cup grated cheddar or monterey jack
2 tbsp finely sliced basil leaves
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
salt and freshly milled pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly butter a baking dish just large enough to hold the peppers. If the peppers won't stand upright, slice them lengthwise in half, leaving the stem end intact. Steam them for 5 minutes and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the scallions, corn, and tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese, basil, and half the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Fill the peppers and top with remaining bread crumbs. Set them in the prepared dish, add a few tablespoons water to the dish, cover, and bake until the corn is hot and the peppers are cooked, about 25 minutes. Uncover and brown the tops under the broiler. Dust with paprika and serve.

And here's a lovely idea for an eggplant pancake - one of our farmers adapted the recipe from Almost Vegetarian:

1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp yogurt
1/2 pound eggplant, roasted, peeled and chopped
2 scallions, sliced
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

To roast the eggplant, pierce several times with the tines of a fork and place them on a tray under the broiler. Broil until the skin buckles, 4 to 6 minutes. Carefully turn them over and broil another 3 to 5 minutes. When they have cooled, strip the skin, chop the pulp and transfer to a mixing bowl.

In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, flour, and yogurt until smooth. Stir in the eggplant, scallions, and sesame seeds until well blended. Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat. When hot, add the eggplant batter 1/4 cup at a time. Cook until bubbles form on the surface and the bottom has browned, about 7 minutes. Turn over and cook to brown the other side. Serve warm.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What Matters Most

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. Goethe

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

This principle was named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. But enough people have observed this principle at work in other areas that it’s worth considering its application to our lives in general.

I’ve seen this in my garden, for example: 20% of my tomato plants are producing 80% of my fruit. It used to confuse me how one plant would be heavy with fruit while the others produced so little, but the Pareto Principle helps me understand it.

In his book The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss explains how his business took off when he started applying the Pareto Principle. He looked over his balance sheets and saw that 80% of his sales came from 20% of his products. He also noticed that just a small percentage of problem clients were taking up the majority of his time.

Drawing on these insights, he refocused his energy on his most successful products. And—in one of the most memorable stories from the book—he “fired” his three most problematic clients, informing them that they could either order via fax—the most hassle-free method of ordering he had—or they could look elsewhere for his product. As a result, he cut his workload significantly while doubling the volume of his sales.

What I took away from Ferriss’ exploration of the principle was its dual nature. Based on his experiences—and on my own—you have a choice: you can exert your energy in the direction that brings you the greatest rewards—often seemingly without any great effort on your part—or you can direct your energy where getting even the smallest amount of return seems like an uphill climb.

I shared this principle recently with one of my coaching clients. She is a brilliant entrepreneur and yet she often feels overwhelmed and frustrated. She has been spending the bulk of her time satisfying other people in ways that have little or nothing to do with what brings her satisfaction.

She still has something to show for her time and energy—her colleagues love her, and her clients see her as a sort of superhero fighting for their success—but these were not the rewards she was looking for when she started her business.

On the other hand, she could see areas where she did want to direct her energy. She engaged volunteers to write newsletters and keep up with other social media. She hired an assistant to take care of aspects of the business that did not require her immediate attention, like responding to emails.

Delegating her responsibilities frees up time to do what she’s really good at – providing services and developing new ideas - while still allowing her to do other things she loves – like preparing and enjoying meals with her partner, taking walks with her dogs and meeting friends for bike rides. And she is happier than she ever thought possible.

Most folks would agree that the majority of their time is not spent on their priorities or the aspects of their lives they find most gratifying, and that’s why they can benefit from this principle.

To apply the Pareto principle to your life you only have to do one thing – focus your attention on what matters most, the things you do well and what makes you happy.

This week I'm rejoicing in local food - simple preparations of seasonal fare are always delicious and free up time to go for more walks in the evening (with a stop at the playground) and spot the last of the fireflies.

What about you? What do you enjoy most and how will you give it more attention?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Full Sun Farm 11th Week

What's in the Box
Lettuce Mix
Chioggia Beets
Red and Heirloom Tomatoes

Corn! Glorious Corn! Like the beloved tomatoe, we only eat corn when it is fresh in season - which seems like a precious few weeks.

It's been a year since we last had any but as soon as my 4 year-old son saw the corn on his plate he asked "Where are the green things to hold it?" I had forgotten them - the little holders that are screwed into the cobs before cooking (we prefer the quick boiling method listed below) and are immediately cool enough to touch - but he hadn't!

They were easy enough to put in even when the corn was hot and G quickly ate his one ear and asked - and finished - another. I will to remember to buy even more corn next week - what we get with our farm share is clearly not enough!

Notes from the farm:

The corn and tomatoes make this an appropriate mid-summer box. Because both are absolutely fresh at this time of year, it is likely that we will all want to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy corn as corn and tomato as tomato, and to subject both to minimal preparation and minimal mingling with other flavors.

For simple corn on the cob, bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it's heating, pull the husks off the corn, rub off the silk, and cut off any blemished tips. When the water comes to a boil, drop in the ears and cook for 2 minuets. (Don't salt the water--it only toughens the corn.) Pull out the ears with tongs, set them on a towel to drain briefly, then pile on a platter. Serve with salt, fresh-ground pepper, and butter.

The tomatoes are easily prepared with a balsamic vinegar glaze: Core the tomatoes, then cut them into wedges about 1 1/2 inches across at the widest point. In a skillet large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer, heat 2 tbsp of butter until it foams. Add the tomatoes and saute over high heat, turning them over several times, until their color begins to dull, about 3 minutes. Add 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 finely diced shallot or small onion and shake the pan back and forth until the vinegar has reduced, leaving a dark, thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

If you are interested in combining the two a little more elaborately, try this recipe for corn with cumin, chile, and tomato. (Like the above preparations, this recipe is from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone.)

6 ears corn, kernels and scrapings removed separately
1 garlic clove
1 tsp ground toasted cumin seeds
salt and freshly milled pepper
2 tbsp corn oil or butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 long green chile, roasted and diced
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro, parsley, or dill

In a blender, puree 1 cup of the corn kernels with 1 cup water for 3 minutes. Strain, pushing out as much liquid as you can. Meanwhile, pound the garlic, cumin, 1/4 tsp salt, and a little pepper in a mortar until smooth. Heat the oil in a wide skillet with the onion, pounded garlic, and chile. Saute over medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining corn kernels, scrapings, and pureed corn (corn milk). Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the tomato at the end and cook until warmed through. Taste for salt, stir in the parsley, and serve.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Envy Is

A child can always teach an adult 3 things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires. Paulo Coelho

This article is inspired by a comment a reader left after my post last week.

Colleen was at a workshop where the instructor was preparing to leave for a week-long trip to Italy. Someone else in the class said, “You are so spoiled to get to go there.” And Colleen replied, "No. She is not spoiled: she is creating and living her dream - manifesting it."

If you’re like me you probably heard some envy behind the “spoiled” remark. I interpreted it to mean that this classmate wished she could be on her way to a really cool trip to Italy.

I mean, who wouldn’t?

Of course, I know that “envy” has a negative connotation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, we could learn to embrace envy – to pay attention to it as a strong signal from our deepest selves. Envy is simply desire clouded by the belief that we can’t have what we want.

But we can have it. If we think of envy as a gift we haven’t opened yet, we can learn to open it and see the thing we really want.

Back in February 2001, I wrote in my journal that I envied someone with whom I worked. She had spent years of her life working as a medical missionary in Haiti and I envied the circumstances that seemed to make the travel and service possible for her.

At the time I thought that a medical mission would be impossible for me because it would be irresponsible to leave my good job– with no guarantee that another job would be waiting for me when I got back – to do volunteer work in another country.

But then I had an epiphany: The envy I felt for my colleague helped me focus my desire on living and working abroad. I decided to commit to my dream, and as you know from my last article, providence moved and supported me every step of the way.

What I learned is that envy is a form of ignorance. It comes from an ignorance of ourselves and our ability to achieve any outcome we want if we just set our minds to it. Envy reveals something that we don’t know about ourselves and need to know in order to achieve our own perfect happiness.

At its heart, envy is desire – a sign pointing in the direction of our dreams, a sign we need to pay attention to on our journey. It may not always point us in the direction of Italy, but it always directs us toward any great big dream that we think is unattainable, but really isn’t.

When I wrote Colleen back and asked if she thought there was an element of envy in the statement “You’re so spoiled…” she agreed. She also added that there was no malice in the statement, just wistfulness. And I believe the sense of wistfulness – really, powerlessness – associated with our desires is another misunderstanding.

Envy is a form of power. I want us to see envy as a manifestation of our desire - of wanting something - and associate that feeling with power. Rather than feel wistful about what you want, get excited. Be like the child and demand with all your might that which you desire.

This week I'm rejoicing in the delicious anticipation I feel when I know there is something I want. Want to know the current object of my desire? My husband calls it Prius Envy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Full Sun Farm 10th Week

What's in the Box
Green Leaf Lettuce
Swiss Chard
Summer Squash
Heirloom Tomatoes

It seems that all CSA members got different varieties of the heirloom tomatoes - we got Aunt Ruby's Green and a Striped German. Yum!

I also couldn't resist getting myself that gorgeous bouquet of sun and wildflowers. They make me smile every time I look at them.

If you follow my menu plans you know I love frittatas. They are made quickly and easily and use up the abundance of eggs from our chickens. This recipe for trouchia (chard and onion frittata) is from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, one of my favorites.

The trick is to cook everything slowly so that the onions become carmelized and sweet and the flavors deepen.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large red or white onion, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1 bunch chard, leaves only, chopped
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
6 to 8 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped basil
2 tbsp chopped thyme
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a 10-inch skillet, add the onion, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until completely soft but not colored, about 15 minutes. Add the chard and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until all the moisture has cooked off and the chard is tender, about 15 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, mash the garlic in a mortar with a few pinches of salt, then stir it into the eggs along with the herbs. Combine the chard mixture with the eggs and stir in the Gruyere and half the Parmesan.

Preheat the broiler. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and, when it's hot, add the eggs. Give a stir and keep the heat at medium-high for about a minute, then turn it to low. Cook until the eggs are set but still a little moist on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining Parmesan and broil until browned. Serve trouchia in the pan or slide it onto a serving dish and cut it in wedges.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's Cooking 7.12-7.18

This is a very full week, so I am getting our weekly menu out a little late. My parents actually came by on Sunday and brought a chicken and other food for us and that helped us postpone a trip to the store until today. Their thoughtfulness was especially appreciated because I worked full days in clinic on Monday and Tuesday. My husband filled in the rest of the gaps with one shopping trip (with our 4 year-old no less! he's my hero!) at our pricey whole foods store for a total of $49.22.

Curried Split Peas
Brown Rice
Sweet Potatoes
Green Salad

Green Chili
Brown Rice
Green Salad

Wednesday:Late Night at the Pool!
Grilled Bratwursts
Whole Wheat Buns

African Groundnut Stew
Whole Wheat Couscous

Pizza with homemade dough and sauce
Pepperoni and Roasted Peppers
Green Salad

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos
Green Salad
Chips, Salsa and Guacamole

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Providence Moves

I just found out on Friday that Verve - a fabulous local magazine - wants to publish an article about the time I lived and worked in Mexico with Doctors Without Borders in 2002. A full version of this article will be published in an upcoming issue, but I hope you will read this abridged version and see how my committing to a decision 7 years ago opened the door to the life I love!

When I started working as a midwife 11 years ago I joined a wonderful private practice. I worked in a clinic 5 days a week and was on call for births 7-8 days of the month. I’ve always loved helping women achieve the birth of their dreams.

After almost 4 years at this practice, however, I found myself wanting more. I found that I enjoyed interacting most with the few Latina women who came to a public health clinic I staffed one morning a week.

I realized that I wanted to be fluent in Spanish to better serve Latina women. I also wanted part-time work that would give me the opportunity to do what I loved and fulfill my dream of becoming a mother.

I didn’t know there was a job that would fulfill my desires, but I felt compelled to lay the groundwork for finding it, inspired in part by this quote from Scottish mountaineer WH Murray: The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision.

And sure enough, as I took my first step, providence moved. Thinking that I needed to improve my Spanish and better understand Latino culture, I applied to Doctors Without Borders and within a month was offered an interview in their New York office. As it happened I was going to be in New York anyway to run in the NYC Marathon and could easily set up a time to talk with the director of the organization.

During my interview, however, I learned they had no positions for midwives in Latin America. I explained I wasn’t interested in any other placement. So the director said she would keep my application, but didn’t think there would ever be a desirable position for me.

I continued to think of other ways I could meet my goals and trusted something would come to me. Less than two months later the phone rang, and it was Doctors Without Borders telling me that they were starting a new maternal health project in Mexico—and that the director of the project wanted me to join the medical team!

People thought I was crazy to leave my life in the States for a volunteer position in a remote Mexican village. But I knew, like Murray, that I had created this opportunity by committing to my dream and I was not going to be dissuaded.

So I went and I had an amazing experience – you’ll have to read the upcoming article in Verve for more details of that trip!

What I want to share here is that when I got back to the States I quickly found a job - not just any job, but the job that I had hoped would come my way.

And I still am at that same job today and it is wonderful—I work in a public health practice that serves a large volume of Latina women, using my fluency in Spanish and my knowledge of Latino culture I gleaned through my work with Doctors Without Borders. What’s more, it is part-time, and the salary matches the salary of the full-time job I had left to go to Mexico.

My time in Mexico changed my life in other, more profound ways. What I appreciated most about Mexican culture is how they value family and community, and I have taken great pleasure in fostering the same values. I know that my life, and the lives of those around me have been enriched because of this appreciation.

In the end, my time in Mexico opened a window on life in a dramatically different culture and a setting. It also opened the door to a new life for me here at home.

This week I'm rejoicing in the amazing alchemy that occurs when you decide to create a life you love.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Full Sun Farm 9th Week!

What's in the Box:

Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
Swiss Chard
Beets, topped
Summer Squash
Green Onions
Cherry Tomatoes

The picture really doesn't do justice to the tomatoes - the first pint from the farm! - they are gorgeous and absolutely delicious. Our Sungold cherry tomatoes from our own vines are also ripe - the ones G calls "chocolate 'matos" because they are so sweet. He pulls them down and eats them by the handful and I think he has eaten more than his dad and I combined! He is really taking after me here: Tomatoes are truly my favorite seasonal offering - I gorge myself on them during the summer and shun them for the rest of the year.

Beets were the most abundant offering from the farm this week so it seems fitting to offer a recipe for Beet Risotto. It is from Almost Vegetarian and described as "brilliant in color with a sweet burst of beet in every bite." I think it will make a perfect lunch on Saturday!

2 medium beets, topped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp orange zest
1 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp raspberry or lemon vinegar
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp sour cream or yogurt cheese

1. Put beets and bay leaf in a saucepan and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, over medium heat, until the beets are cooked through, about 40 minutes.

2. Remove the beets with a slotted spoon, then strain the cooking water and discard the bay leaf. Pour the cooking water back into the saucepan. Slip the skins off the beets.

3. Chop 1 of the beets and set aside. In a food processor puree the other beet and stir into the strained broth. Cover the broth and keep it at a gentle simmer over low heat.
(The portion of the recipe above--the beet broth--can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator, and used as a base for things other than the risotto that follows.)

4. In another large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and orange zest, and saute over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the chopped beet, and stir well. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated with the seasonings and is glistening, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the vinegar and stir until it evaporates, about 2 minutes.

6. Using a ladle, add about 1 cup hot broth. Stir constantly over medium heat until the broth has been absorbed. Add another ladleful of broth and keep stirring until it has been absorbed.

7. Continue the process, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and stirring in this way until the kernels are plump and no longer chalk white in the center. This should take 25-30 minutes altogether. the rice is almost done when the kernels are still separate but starting to bind, and there are pools of broth on the surface. It is done when the liquid had been absorbed, and the kernels are bound in what looks like very ricey, yet somewhat creamy, rice pudding.

8. When the risotto is done, stir in the sugar, cream or yogurt cheese, and stir well to blend. Serve at once.


Monday, July 6, 2009

What's Cooking 7.6-7.12

I managed to make it to Amazing Savings for the bulk of my shopping and stocked up on organic cereal, vegetables and cheese. I spent $60.46. Then I went to our pricey whole foods store to complete my list. There I spent $23.26. For a grand total this week of $83.72. Nice.

Summer squash, carrots, onions and swiss chard are still plentiful from our CSA share, so if any recipe calls for mixed veg or greens you know what I'll be adding to the dish!

Guadalajaran Swiss Chard Quesadillas
Chips and Salsa

Whole Wheat Pasta

Wednesday:Late Night at the Pool!
Grilled Portobello Pizzas


Pizza with homemade crust and sauce
Roasted Peppers and Pepperoni
Green Salad

Mixed Vegetable Kootu
Brown Rice

Spinach Feta and Tomato Quiche
Green Salad

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lessons of the Albatross

Last week a friend and I were talking about some challenges in his life and I remembered a line from a poem by Robert Bly:

The albatross that lands on the mast began flying a thousand years ago.

A long time ago, back when we were pure positive energy, we didn’t doubt for a minute that manifesting would be pretty cool. But when we arrive in our physical forms and challenges pop up, we forget that every experience is an opportunity to discover what we really want and to become our best selves.

We don’t need circumstances to be pleasing, or for others to make things easier for us, or to give us praise, or even acknowledgement. It’s wonderful to get those things - but not at all necessary.

What’s necessary is to know that we’ve got everything we need inside us for a great journey. By the fact of our existence we are worthy of love and all good things. We already are love and all good things.

It’s funny, I think my albatross metaphor distracted him, because, as it turns out, he is quite a bird lover and has a bit of an issue with the albatross.

“Wait a second,” he said, “The albatross? That’s like a dodo bird. And it symbolizes adversity.” Moments after we hung up I received an email from him, citing a Wikipedia entry:
An albatross is a central emblem in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It is from the poem that the usage of albatross as a metaphor is derived; someone with a burden or obstacle is said to have 'an albatross around their neck', the punishment given in the poem to the mariner who killed the albatross.

So he didn’t like the metaphor, but after learning more about the albatross, I think it is very apt.

First of all, going back to the poem, the sailor was punished because he had destroyed something that was considered sacred. When we forget or are unable to see that we have come to this planet to accomplish something special, it is a similar waste.

We are here to do good work and do it well. Experiencing joy is the greatest measure of our success. And when we focus on what is not going well, it’s like we are hanging the albatross around our necks.

On the other hand, live albatrosses are symbols of effortlessness. And here again, I think the metaphor is apt. Also from Wikipedia:
Albatrosses are amongst the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses (genus Diomedea) have the largest wingspans of any extant birds…They are highly efficient in the air, using dynamic soaring and slope soaring to cover great distances with little exertion.

Knowing some of the cool attributes of albatrosses, who wouldn't love them? And you know what's also cool? Covering great distances with little exertion is what my coaching practice is all about!

I hope you will visit my website and discover more: I offer a free E-Book about the benefits of humor, lots of inspiring articles and science-based coaching programs - all intended to help you create a life you love!

This week I'm rejoicing in the lessons of the albatross!