A Night to Remember

Last night inspired me to write a long overdue blog post. It was my dad’s retirement party, thrown by the Pathology Department at Columbia University where he was a Director for the past 16 years. When I heard they were planning to roast him, I laughed and wondered what in the world was “roastable” about my dad. He’s just a normal guy. There’s nothing particularly quirky about him, unless you have the inside scoop after living with him for 20-something years of your life. ;-)

I was proven wrong. Not about the “nothing particularly quirky about him” thing. No, there’s plenty of that. What I was wrong about is the “he’s just a normal guy” part. Perhaps because my siblings and I grew up in the presence of greatness of the quiet variety, we took that greatness for granted. There’s actually nothing normal about my dad. Hearing how his boss came to hire him, a guy with none of the credentials for a job in pathology, made me realize just how bizarre and extraordinary his journey has been.

At nineteen years old, amidst the protests of both of their families, my dad and mom married. They had lived next door to each other since they were thirteen. Exactly a year later, I was born. My dad drove a Wonder Bread truck to make ends meet. He ate a lot of doughnuts en route to diners in the middle of the night, and saw his share of roaches scatter when he turned on the lights to refill the bread boxes.

When I was almost four, he decided he needed something a bit more stable and became a New York City Police Officer. He worked in Canarsie, which was very close to our home in Ozone Park. When he was on the 8-4 shift, we were eating dinner by 4:30. Very stable (and good practice for the early-bird specials he’ll be eating as a newly retired person). Several years into his police career, he was injured and placed at a desk job in the Audits and Accounts division at Police Headquarters. As he was growing in his administrative skills, he returned to college at night and managed to get a degree in Sociology, despite the craziness of raising three rug rats in a very small home. Eventually, he became a sergeant and lieutenant.

Then, something happened that changed the course of his life. He applied, via a program in the NYPD, to Harvard for a Master in Public Administration. Future Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had been the candidate accepted a few years before. Dad went off to Harvard as I returned to my senior year at Washington University in St. Louis. Since he had never attended sleep-away college, I counseled him about the temptations and distractions he would face, namely excessive partying, drinking, middle-of-the-night fast-food runs, the freshman 15, sleeping through morning classes, and cramming the night before exams. I told him I knew he had a good head on his shoulders and he’d do just fine. I sent him off with a pat on the back, happy that I could share my extensive knowledge with him for a change. At the end of the year, my parents came to the Midwest for my graduation and I went back East for his.

He returned to the Police Department and became the Quartermaster. After 22 years on the job, he retired at the tender age of 46. In his next career, he was the Associate Executive Director for EMS at Health and Hospitals Corporation. Six and a half years later, they merged with the Fire Department and he decided to leave. But he was only 51, and mom wasn’t quite ready for him to be retired, as the story goes. So, she started sending out résumés to jobs listed in the New York Times and was pleased to announce someone had contacted him for an interview at the Pathology Department at Columbia University. By his own admission, his big qualification for that environment was knowing there was a difference between blood and urine. Lucky for us he wasn’t colorblind.

As dad’s boss related the story last night, they had been interviewing people for weeks when the department’s fax machine spit out a final résumé. He took one look at it and thought it was suspicious—New York City Police Officer with a Master’s from Harvard—but he was intrigued enough to offer him an interview. Thanks to intellectual curiosity, the rest is history.

To hear the regard that people have for my dad and the many things he achieved was very moving. He has never been one to talk about himself or his achievements and is the most humble person I know. So, it was a rare gift to hear the stories, told with such feeling, by the people who have worked with him the past 16 years.

My hat’s off to you, dad. You are a man who has worn many hats literally and figuratively…and worn them well.

Looks just like every other New York cop in the 1970s.

Graduation Day at Harvard

From our cross-country camping days

With the grandchildren born, I’m pretty sure this hat was worn for their benefit and not my mom’s.

Notice the color-coordinated headband.

[This amazing event was held at Bouley Test Kitchen. The food and the space were magnificent. For those of you who know me well, if I eat in a place this good and manage to write an entire blog post without mentioning any of the culinary details, you know how powerful the non-culinary portion of the evening had to be. It truly was. With that said, “Damn, that place rocked.” Click here to take a peek.]

Daisy Dukes Versus Cargo Shorts

In preparation for a camping trip, I went shopping for some shorts. In both sports stores, I walked down the dividing aisle between men’s and women’s clothing. To the left, there were rugged, cargo shorts in every earth tone and print. To the right, low-rise, butt-cheek-skimming daisy dukes in garish colors. Apparently, men require comfort and practicality when camping or engaging in sports activities and women do not.

I still have the heart-shaped butt of my youth, except now it’s upside down.

I was frothing at the mouth by the time I made my way to the end of my department, with nothing suitable for camping in hand. In the end, I bought myself men’s cargo shorts. Admittedly, they make me look a bit like Man Mountain Dean. But I think anyone walking behind me will be grateful for the boxy cargo shorts when the alternative was an unrestricted view of butt cheeks that have endured the forces of gravity for forty-seven years.

Am I wrong?

Rethinking Games from My Youth

When you’re a kid learning how to play games from adults, you latch on to certain things, depending on your personality and perspective. For me, in Scrabble, it was “Oooooo…7-letter word. Aaah…triple-word score.” I was a nerdy, dictionary-reading kid, so as part of my strategy, I also memorized the “q” words that could be spelled without a “u.” In my circle of family and friends, I was a very good Scrabble player.

Fast forward about 30 years. I started playing Words with Friends online, and one of my pals was whipping my butt. The worst part? He was doing it with plain, old, two-letter words, stacked one on top of the other and attached to another word on the board. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it, but I’d never considered that as a strategy. I was too mired in the “rules” as I had learned them—or perceived them—as a child. Needless to say, my Scrabble game has greatly improved.

Which leads us to chess. I came home from a friend’s house one day at the tender age of five and surprised my dad with the ability to play chess. I suppose it was impressive at that age. At 47, when you’re still playing like your former, five-year-old self, not too impressive.

Enter Chess.com. I began playing with my Words with Friends pal, and he repeated his butt-whipping performance. That is, until I started taking advantage of the free resources on Chess.com and went on a 17-game winning streak.

So, here’s my analysis. I know you’re waiting for it. As a child, I learned how to move my pieces and internalized “Don’t let them get your king.” As a result, I was a reactive player. No strategy. I would haphazardly move pieces and when one threatened, I would react. With the help of Chess.com, I’ve learned to get those power pieces on the board, castle early, set up pieces six moves ahead, and use certain pieces together.

Bobby Fischer: Please, no visitations from the other side. I understand there must be even more than this, but for me this is huge. Let me have my moment of glory.

[Men, look away for a moment. Women of a certain age: If you’re suffering from a fuzzy, perimenopausal brain, you’ll be pleased to know that playing chess has returned me to my former, sharp-minded self. I assume this “therapy” would also be beneficial to women in the postpartum stage, but we all know you don’t have time to brush your teeth, let alone play chess. Men, welcome back.]

Just before I started playing chess again, I caught a movie on Netflix that, no doubt, inspired me to take it up again. Queen to Play is a French movie, starring Kevin Kline and Sandrine Bonnaire, with a bit but tingly performance by Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame. Totally hot, flirtatious, seductive, and that’s without an ounce of sex. It’s like porn for the intellectual. Sort of. Check out The New York Times review to whet your appetite.

So, do you wrinkle your nose at all properties except Boardwalk and Park Place, or are you a real estate tycoon? Do you play rows of same-color guesses in MasterMind or mix it up from the start? Do you focus on the corners or the middle in Battleship? Let’s discuss.

Recipe: Farina Muffins

These are my son’s favorite muffins. Boy, did he deserve a batch after the week we’ve had. I whipped them up today in a half hour, and that included making Earl Grey tea and setting the table. Let me know what you think.

How Mommy Dearest redeems herself after a stressful week.

Makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wet Ingredients:

3 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp. vanilla

Dry Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup farina (I used Cream of Wheat)
½ cup sugar
1 Tb. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

Topping:

Cinnamon and sugar

Let’s Do It!

  1. Mix together a bit of cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients and combine well.
  3. In a small bowl, add the dry ingredients and combine well.
  4. Combine the wet and dry mixtures and fold together gently until just mixed.
  5. Spoon a bit of the mixture into each cup of a nonstick muffin tin and then sprinkle a light layer of the cinnamon/sugar mixture on top.
  6. Spoon the rest of the mixture into the tins and top with additional cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 16 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  8. Remove from tin and cool on rack.

Mine didn’t make it onto the rack. We love them warm from the oven.

Enjoy! And if you just gotta have more farina, see my family recipe for Migliaccio (Italian Farina Custard).

I’m Alive…and 49 Pages Closer to “The End”

You lookin’ at me?
(Thanks MKD for the photo.)

Another heavenly week has come and gone. This was year 2 of my Virginia Beach writing retreat with the Doll Babies. If that’s conjuring up images of sweet, little ladies popping bon bons as they write, well, the bon bons are not far off course, but sweet…nah. If you saw us coming, you might think we were a gang. We’ve got the thriller-writing motorcycle mama, and the tattoo-covered fantasy writer. Then there’s the one that sounds like My Cousin Vinny. Ahem. Throw in a former investigative journalist, a nuclear plant engineer, and a flamenco-dancing biologist. Don’t let the two southern belles fool you. And beware of the one who induces death by chocolate every night. Scarier still, the one who cannot be bribed with chocolate cake and has some frightening ideas on revenge. You don’t want her moving those ideas from the page to the street. Trust me on this.

Were we having fun yet? Hell, yeah!

Long story short…I had hoped to complete another 18 manuscript pages, but I ended up with 49. Don’t ask me how. As everyone sat at their computers for hours, I got up for a snack, and then some relaxation on the beach, and then a run and shower, and then a nap. Oh, look at the time—dinner. You get the idea. Whatever works.

There were moments I wanted to skip over the tough scenes and write the easier ones. But I knew I’d never have this kind of uninterrupted time again, so I forged ahead. It was a good decision. It forced me into the dreaded middle of the novel and I got some momentum going.

Besides the writing, there were a few other highlights:

I went down to the beach, one morning, sheet in hand. I kicked sand into a few umbrella holes, laid out the sheet, and then lay down with my eyes closed. The sound of the surf lulled me into a meditative state. A short while later, the excited screams of two women disrupted my peace. “Oh my God. Look at all those crabs.” I lifted my head slightly, shaded my eyes with my hand, and realized the women were pointing at me. My sheet was surrounded by crabs. Those umbrella holes I covered up…not umbrella holes. The crabs were digging themselves out of their wrecked homes. They looked angry. Some of them wielded little beach sticks in their claws. Frankly, they were menacing. I grabbed my sheet and ran.

Another day, a fellow writer and I walked to a nature preserve. It was a long walk. A very long walk. It was hot. We didn’t have water. All the snack bars were closed because it wasn’t quite the season. When we arrived at the entrance booth, a friendly man gave us each a cup of water and then told us to mind the venomous snakes and the wild pi-igs. Wild pigs? Yup, those ones with the tusks. I was convinced he was having some fun with me and my New York accent. Not so. There’s something about the word pig pronounced with two syllables that scares the hell out of me.

So now it’s back to the real world. Work. Bills. Chores. Not enough time to write. No worries. I’ve got memories of ten women sharing their stories, eating good food, laughing like crazy, not a care in the world. It’ll keep me going until next year.

A strong suggestion for my readers: Do this for yourself. You don’t have to be a writer. Carve out a week with like-minded people. It’s food for your soul.

Hawaii – The Perfect Spring Vacation

[Today's post was written by guest blogger Alexandra Jacobs.]

Hawaii is a beautiful destination year-round, but it’s a particularly great place to take a spring vacation. During the spring, Hawaii still has reliably gorgeous weather, but there are fewer crowds and thus cheaper prices on accommodation. This is what makes spring an ideal time to visit, so save the trip to New York and the Hamptons House rental for summer and go to Hawaii instead. Whether visitors are young and single, heading to Hawaii with friends, or looking for a romantic getaway, Hawaii is sure to accommodate just about everyone.

Waikiki

Photo by commons.wikimedia.org Alfred Adler

Waikiki is the most popular place in Hawaii for visitors, offering a wide variety of hotels, restaurants, activities, nightlife, and beautiful beachfront views. Located on the south shore of Honolulu, its popularity with tourists is due in part to how easily accessible it is from Honolulu International Airport. Singles in their twenties and thirties will love Waikiki’s nightlife, including places like nearby RumFire and The Yard House. Singles and couples alike will enjoy catching a live performance at jazz venue Lewer’s Lounge or listening to contemporary Hawaiian music at Duke’s Canoe Club.Beyond Waikiki, other neighborhoods in Honolulu, such as Chinatown and Downtown, also offer exceptional nightlife. Bars, lounges, nightclubs, and live music venues abound, all a short walk or cab ride away.

Restaurants

Photo by flickr user mauixir8

Waikiki has a variety of restaurants to suit any taste buds and budget. For upscale fine dining that focuses on regional Hawaiian cuisine inspired by global influences, Roy’s Waikiki is a great choice. For couples looking for an exquisite dining experience, Chef Mavro Restaurant serves contemporary regional cuisine in a romantic setting. Visitors hungry for some beef should check out Chuck’s Steakhouse, a Waikiki institution since 1959 that serves excellent steaks and American fare with a beautiful view of the ocean.

Hotels

Waikiki, as well as Hawaii as a whole, has so many hotels that it’s difficult to pick just a few of the best ones. For a luxury hotel right in the heart of it all, visitors can’t go wrong with Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk. Another elegant, luxurious favorite is Halekulani Hotel. Visitors to Waikiki also love to rave about the old world charm of Moana Surfrider Hotel, built in 1901.

Excursions

While travelers can certainly go to Waikiki to relax on the beautiful beaches, there are plenty of other excursions and activities to enjoy. Besides surfing on Waikiki Beach, some of the most popular activities include a visit to Pearl Harbor, a day of snorkeling and exploring in nearby Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, and a traditional Hawaiian luau at one of the many venues on Oahu, such as the Polynesian Cultural Center or the Royal Luau at The Royal Hawaiian.

Many visitors to Waikiki wish to visit some of the other islands. This can be a great excursion for both singles and couples. The easiest and most affordable way to do this is by commercial airline or cruise ship.

Alexandra is a travel enthusiast who loves to write about tourism, beaches, food, and the wonderful things in the world.  She provides her own insights on vacationing to the blogosphere.  If you would like to learn more about her, follow her @alexsjourneys or visit her blog alexsjourneys.wordpress.com

7 x 7 Link Award

My pal over at Celluloid Zombie passed along this award, which led me to revisit some old blog posts.

The rules to the 7 x 7 Link Award are simple:

  1. Tell everyone something about yourself that nobody else knows.
  2. Link to a post I think fits the following categories: Most Beautiful Piece, Most Helpful Piece, Most Popular Piece, Most Controversial Piece, Most Surprisingly Successful Piece, Most Underrated Piece, Most Pride Worthy Piece.
  3. Pass this on to 7 fellow bloggers.

And we’re off.

Tell everyone something about yourself that nobody else knows

If not one person knew some deep, dark secret of mine, I can’t imagine why I’d suddenly tell everyone. But here’s the thing…I’m a pretty open person. I’d offer up even the most cringe-inducing confession if I thought someone else would benefit by it. So there you go. Not nearly as exciting as the bodies under the floorboards over at Celluloid Zombie, I know.

1. Most Beautiful Piece

Without hesitation, my most beautiful piece—One Two Three Kick—is about the person responsible for so many happy moments in my childhood (even if I do shudder when re-reading the paragraphs detailing the excessive snacking. What did we know? It was the 70s.)

2. Most Helpful Piece

Felix the Cat and MacGyver inspired this post that I hope encouraged you to consider how the simplest things and a bit of imagination can take life from mundane to memorable. Check out Felix the Cat and MacGyver Picnic on a Purple Sarong.

3. Most Popular Piece

Reading Old Journals…Yikes! struck a chord with many readers. It is my leader in Comments and what great comments they are.

4. Most Controversial Piece

Controverisal? Moi? Well, if you’re planning on hiring me sometime in the future, please don’t read Denim, the evil fabric until we’ve finalized all the contracts.

5. Most Surprisingly Successful Piece

Who could have guessed that my family recipe for Migliaccio (Italian Farina Custard) would top my Most Viewed chart? When did farina, eggs, and sugar become so popular? It just goes to prove that the whole, bubbling concoction is greater than the sum of its parts. With Easter right around the corner, you don’t want to miss this one.

6. Most Underrated Piece

Apparently, readers don’t want to hear about one of the more embarrassing moments in my life or the possibility that Child Protective Services has a file on me for subjecting a minor to naked aliens. If that sort of thing doesn’t interest you either, then don’t read Signs.

7. Most Pride Worthy Piece

My post Travel: Gaeta, Italy in October is the one I’m most proud of. It was a labor of love to condense two of the best weeks of my life into a CliffsNotes travelogue. I’m so hopeful that someone out there will make this very trip and then tell me all about their experience. I love reminiscing about this vacation and I often return to this post to immerse myself in a sea of memories.

My 7 Nominees

I know people are busy, so don’t feel obligated to participate. However, you are the ones that entertain me the most and it would be fun to read some of your posts I may have missed.

Altared Spaces

Finding the Humor

Girlboxing

Huffygirl’s Blog

Mostly Bright Ideas

The Fordeville Diaries

The Glowing Edge

Winter Status Update in Bullet Points

  • January and February are not my favorite months.
  • I go into hibernation mode.
  • I run less.
  • I stretch less.
  • My hamstrings tighten up.
  • I eat comfy foods more.
  • My love handles bulk up.
  • My belly looks like Baby Roo has taken up residence.
  • My back aches.
  • The number on the scale increases.
  • I don’t walk as much.
  • I don’t get as much fresh air.
  • I don’t get as much sunlight.
  • My mind is not as sharp.
  • I am reduced to writing in bullet points.
  • My emotions are not as stable.
  • I make the scary discovery that the state of my mind really does influence how well I land planes on Flight Control HD on the iPad.
  • I decide that putting my fate into the hands of an air traffic controller who has been running less, eating comfy foods, not getting enough fresh air and sunshine, and feeling a bit out of it may not be such a great idea.

But there’s hope.

  • The days are getting longer.
  • They’re also getting warmer.
  • I’ve had just about all I can handle of comfy foods.
  • My tight, aching body actually is beginning to crave exercise and fresh air again.
  • I have a gift certificate for a massage waiting to be redeemed.
  • The Chopra Center is sponsoring a 21-Day Meditation Challenge, which begins on Monday, February 20th.
  • My life coach buddy has invited me to her 3-day Soulful Cleanse.
  • I’ve made some progress on the novel.
  • March is right around the corner.
  • History indicates I do this every year and always spring back.

How are you surviving the winter?

Recipe: Wacky Rice and Beans

Just look at all that optional goodness.

I’ve named this recipe Wacky Rice and Beans because of my haphazard way of cooking. Unlike my popular Migliaccio (Italian Farina Custard) recipe where I give you exact measurements for all ingredients, this dish is a bit different. It’s virtually impossible to screw it up. It’s something you can throw together with whatever you have lying around, including leftovers, and it’s so comfy on a cold, winter’s night. Best of all, one pot makes for easy clean-up.

If you’re a cook who never follows a recipe, this one will make perfect sense to you. If you’re very structured in your approach to cooking, this recipe may ultimately prove that you can be spontaneous in the kitchen. However, I recommend keeping a brown paper bag on hand to aid in any episodes of hyperventilating that may occur as you read the ingredients list.

I’m part Cuban and grew up on yummy things like rice and beans, ropa vieja, and platanos. I no longer live in a neighborhood with convenient access to such foods, so when my blood cries out for a fix, here’s what I whip up in a pinch.

Recipe

Ingredients:

6 slices of bacon (Optional: I don’t usually put this in, but a neighbor bought a Costco supply of bacon recently and shared some with us, so I had it on hand.)

Olive Oil

½ small onion, finely chopped (or as much as you want)

Heaping teaspoonful of chopped garlic (or as much as you want)

Crushed red pepper flakes (or not)

Wine (Optional: I used red; you can use white or none at all.)

Oregano (or not)

Dried cilantro (or fresh, or none at all. See how flexible this recipe is. :-) )

2 packets of Sazón Goya con culantro y achiote (If you just exclaimed “say what,” then I’d guess you don’t live near a city or a latino neighborhood. In that case, season to taste with salt and don’t be jealous that your rice won’t have a golden hue. It will still taste yummy.)

8 oz. can of tomato sauce

½ 14.5 oz. can of stewed, diced tomatoes with liquid (I use the kind with Italian seasoning. Hey, I’m Cuban and Italian. I have to be fair about it.)

Heaping teaspoon of Goya Sofrito (Optional: I didn’t have it on hand this time, so didn’t use it. So, if you don’t know what it is or can’t find it, no biggie.)

1 can beans with liquid (I used Goya pink beans, but you can use black, or seasoned stewed (habichuelas guisadas) pink beans, or black bean soup, or whatever you want. I’ll go out on a limb here and say if you absolutely hate beans, don’t put them into your Wacky Rice and Beans and call it Wacky Beanless Rice instead. Gasp. Shocking, I know.)

Cooked chicken (Optional: I had some leftover roasted chicken in the fridge. I cut it in cubes and threw it in. What is old is new again.)

2 cups rice

3 cups water (usually, you use twice as much water as rice, but remember we included the liquid from some of those cans and used 8 oz. of tomato sauce)

Steps:

  1. In a covered pot (I use an enameled, cast iron Le Creuset French Oven pot, though in my younger days I used a cheap aluminum caldero from the corner discount store, which will no doubt be the cause of my future dementia), cook the bacon on medium heat and remove from pot to cool.
  2. If necessary, add olive oil to the pan and sauté onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes until onion is translucent.
  3. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up all those yummy brown bits from the bacon.
  4. Chop up the bacon in coarse bits and throw it in the pot.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients.
  6. If you like sticky rice, give it all a good stir. Otherwise, don’t breathe until you cover the pot. ;-)
  7. Once it begins simmering, turn heat down very low and cook covered until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
  8. Troubleshooting: If the rice isn’t tender but the liquid is all absorbed, don’t panic. Add a bit more water and continue cooking. All will be well. I promise.

You may notice that some rice is stuck to the bottom of the pan. In some latino families, a feud erupts over these highly desirable, slightly burned bits. Personally, I’m not a fan, but the Irish husband loves it.

Enjoy!

From Intention to Action: Turning resolutions into reality

It’s that time of year again. You’re either rolled up in fetal position on the floor or writing a list of New Year’s resolutions. Some of you writing resolutions might prefer to be rolled up in fetal position, and those of you on the floor wouldn’t change places with the resolution writers for a million dollars.

What is this compulsion that drives us every January 1st? How predictable are we that gyms do much of their advertising in January and then again a few months later when our bright, shiny beginnings have tarnished and crusted over and there is empty floor space to be filled.

For me, writing resolutions has always been a fun ritual. There’s something about writing a thought down on paper that makes it more attainable. That’s been true in many areas of my life. However, we all have those things that are especially difficult to achieve. Sometimes the writing of the goal isn’t enough to get us there. And our good intentions, no matter how strong, can’t motivate us to “Just Do It.”

That dilemma led me to think about how I had approached other goals in my life—ones that had been attained. For example, I hadn’t just thought about working for myself and ended up with a successful business. It was accomplished by breaking the goal into manageable chunks. Of course, I didn’t realize I was doing that 19 years ago, but in hindsight it’s obvious. So, why not do the same to finally achieve the goals that have been regulars on too many of my annual lists?

Writing “I will eat healthier, write regularly, and work out more” hasn’t been enough on its own to make those dreams a reality. But taking intermediate actions to bridge the gap between intention and action has proved to be successful.

For example, I’ve become quite regular with my exercise, following the “don’t skip more than 2 days in a row” rule. But sometimes, even though I know I’m going to feel great once I do it, I just don’t feel like working out. I’ve found a trick—something very simple—that gets great results for me. What do I do when exercise apathy hits?

I put on my workout clothes.

Yup.

That’s it.

There’s something about the act of getting dressed to work out that begins the momentum. Once I’m dressed, I’m going to feel like crap if I take off my workout clothes without having exercised. I know it sounds crazy, but follow the logic. The act of putting on those clothes is a prerequisite to working out, so it gets me one step further along the path to actually performing the desired action.

I decided to try out this trick in another area of my life. After thinking for the umpteenth time that I needed to get to the library to do some writing, I packed up my Neo, a printout of my manuscript, and my supply case in a bag and left it by the stairs leading down to my front door. Every time I walked through the living room, I saw that bag. Eventually, I put on my coat, grabbed my bag, and WALKED to the library. How’s that for killing two birds with one stone? ;-)

Which leads me to my “eating better” resolution. If you studied my eating habits on paper, you’d think you were looking at the records of two different people. From dawn till dusk, I am the model of good paleo nutrition. After the sun sets, it’s like my inner Carb vampire emerges. I want Cookies, or Cake, or ice Cream, or Chocolate. The letter “C” is evil, isn’t it? :-)

So, I began questioning why it’s so easy to stay on track during the day. And I realized it’s because my breakfast and lunch are prepared in advance and carted to work and dinner is planned out as well. If I’ve carried meals with me, it’s unlikely that I’ll get something else at the cafeteria. And in fact, I don’t. So, the answer may be to plan and pack up a healthy snack for each evening so I don’t indulge by whim. Whim is a very bad thing when combined with food. At least for me it is.

If you happen to enjoy experimenting with yourself as the guinea pig, let me know how these ideas work out for you. Most important, keep it positive. Don’t focus on what you won’t do. Rather stay focused on what you will do. There’s a theory that your subconscious mind doesn’t recognize a negative. So, for example, if you say I will not eat cookies at night, all your mind hears is I will eat cookies at night. That minor design flaw has been wrecking diets around the world. Just to be on the safe side, focus on what you will do. “I will eat berries and Greek yogurt at snack time.” Or whatever your intention is.

Last but not least, be gentle with yourself. Life is a process. We get to grand places by taking little steps.

Happy New Year.

Feel free to share your tips and successes.

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