Tuesday, December 29, 2009

taking an online class

I decided to take an online class and figured why not University of Phoenix? They had 400,000 students last year, so they must be doing something right.

When I studied at Fairfield U 500 years ago, I only took two business courses, so I guess it was time for another. It will be interesting to see how I handle studying and interacting online instead of in a classroom. The course itself, Business Law, should be interesting.

I am nervous. I had difficulty even just learning how to post a message. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The moment I take a breath

Today was a charmed day. No, really. I worked from home today, which means that I work, but I also run the errands I never get to run when I am not in my own neighborhood. I live in NJ. I work in White Plains, except for my practice in NJ and NYC, which is specifically according to appointment only. What this short diatribe really means is that I am almost never at liberty to roam about my hometown.

That changed today, and I ran into two friends, completely randomly, and decided to stop in on two others. How lucky am I? Very. How long has it been since I have seen any of them? Way too long.

Christmastime really is magical. What better gift could there be than running into one of my best friends on the planet and picking up as if we just saw each other yesterday. Startling my other friend on the bank line out of the blue. Priceless.

Stopping by on two other friends, because I miss them all so much.

Call or visit a friend today. What a gift we are to each other. Thank you!

Time to Make the Cookies - What's the secret ingredient for success - Just do it.

I must say this every Christmastime - "I feel rushed; it's all happening so fast; I'll never get the cards done"....ad nauseum. My apologies in advance.

One thing I always manage to get done is cookies. Over the years we have managed to squeak out 5-10 varieties of lovely Christmas cookies, no matter what. I really don't know how.

Well, yes, I guess I do. Just do it. Hello, Nike? I hear you need a new spokesperson.

I consult my daughters and ask them what kinds of cookies they want, ask them if they want to participate. I purchase all of the ingredients so they are in the house. I don't wait until a special time to make the cookies. If I know I have 2 hours in a row to complete a couple of batches, I do it. I prep and save ingredients so I can just throw everything together at the last minute. I know it is nauseating how organized I am. However, it is truly for a good cause - my stomach. I also think of others - that's true. Christmas would not be Christmas without cookies.

Ask me when I got my holiday cards out last year (Dec 28), the year before that (Dec 31), year before that - not - etc, etc. What is that giant pile of paperwork on my desk? Who haven't I called back? Sorry, I was creaming ingredients. Tis the season. What would Ina Garten do?

Friday, December 11, 2009

That Christmas Feeling

We've begun decorating the house for Christmas. When the children were still at home, we would whirl from holiday to holiday, and our home would always be decorated to celebrate some special occasion. Not so anymore. However, Christmas is still very special, a magical time of year.

In this bare bones economy, it is even more important to me to keep true to those times of joy with family and friends. The real gift is the gift of each other. We decided to light up the house a bit outside this year, with some extra lights here and there. It has been fun watching them glow at night!

The truth is, after all of the above platitudes (which are my truth), my other favorite way to enjoy Christmas is through fun songs, movies, videos. The South Park Christmastime in Hell is one of my favorites (sorry - just can't help myself).

My favorite video so far this year is one that our dear friend Melina (she just turned 21, shout out!) forwarded through Facebook. I love it and am sharing it here.


(It is written and directed by John Roberts, directed by Clay Weiner, edited by Jesse Reisner, DP Drew Denicola. A mom and her christmas tree.) It has been making me smile every day since Melina sent it. Awesome and hilarious. Merry, merry............

Friday, November 27, 2009

I need a turkey...

Just spent a great Thanksgiving holiday in Boston with friends. Usually I cook. I just could not quite pull myself away from the concept of having a bird, cooked at home. Dudley Moore (God rest his hilarious soul) said, in Arthur, "I love a chicken cooked at home". I love a turkey cooked at home, so, I will rinse and stuff the now brining bird with some aromatics, create a bunch of side dishes and serve it to my husband, daughter Julia and however many of her friends decide they want to eat. If you are reading this, you are invited. Saturday, 5pm. Yum.

A Different Turkey Day

We had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving at one of our daughter's boyfriend's parent's homes (how's that for possessive). It was a wonderful mix of friends, family and great food. It was very nice to be included, and a day for everyone to enjoy each other and ooohhh and ahhhh over the many wonderful dishes created by our hosts and each other. What fun! I know it must have been work for Chris' dad and stepmom, but they were mellow and smiling throughout. Apparently they have been doing this for almost 40 years, in varying configurations. What a fun crew. Our daughters Jess and Julia were with us, and Jim and I.
It was also interesting to be a guest instead of host. It was alien for me to stay out of the kitchen for most of the day (though I just had to help clean up a bit). I made spinach pie and pumpkin/banana pie which people raved about. This was a nice revelation too, as I guess we begin to take each other for granted year after year of pouring over a hot stove without much recognition. Not that I was looking for attention or plaudits - just nice that people notice when you put love into your food. There was a lot of love in a lot of this Thanksgiving's food.
I also enjoyed meeting so many new people. After so many years of spending time just with our extended families, this was an interesting change. I don't want to exchange experiences, but this Thanksgiving brought a fresh perspective on how we need to acknowledge and appreciate one another.
As I said in an earlier post, quoting Abraham, act as if... Act as if this is how you are already being treated. For me, that means to model behavior I most value, by truly appreciating the people who are in my life. I would like to make a list, but at the risk of outing all of my loved ones who may not want to be listed, you all know who you are! Husband, daughters, father, sisters and brother all, friends and coworkers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Give Thanks for Adam Sandler Singing his Thanksgiving Song

When we think of all the things we are thankful for - I always add Adam Sandler to the list...enjoy (sorry for the Tide ad in the front - where is fast forward when we need it?)! And while we are at it - thanks for Charlie Brown and Snoopy too and for TIVO!

Monday, November 23, 2009

10 Years Since Jeanne

My mom passed away 10 years ago today. As I've talked about in earlier posts, she had breast cancer first, then ovarian cancer. She was only 61. She was first diagnosed at 53. She was a young woman, too young to go. I miss her every day.
Jeanne was one of a kind. If you were talking with her, she would draw you out and talk about everything that was on your mind. You would feel as if someone had finally heard you. I would see this in social situations over and over again. People loved her. This may sound a bit morose, but so many people filled the church at the funeral Mass that we barely fit, and the cars from the church to the cemetery stretched out 1/2 a mile, from hill to hill on Route 17 from Upper Saddle River to Ramsey. It was quite a sight.
Even as she was struggling that last day, she had a definite opinion and sense of dignity that she insisted be respected. She died on hers and my Dad's 42nd wedding anniversary. That morning she said to me, "has your father ordered flowers for our anniversary?...cancel them." Though it was so saddening, that was my mom. She knew she wouldn't be needing them. We even had a little smile about her deliberate decision to cancel, even while we knew why.
The day before she died, she was up in a chair, holding court with me and my siblings at the hospital. I always wanted to bring her food that she liked, but that day she just wanted to laugh and talk. We had a really good visit. Then, I guess, she was done. By the same time the next day, she had left.
My dad, siblings and I are really lucky. She worked hard to make the holidays and our birthdays special. She taught us well how to continue to do this for each other. Spirituality was very important to her, and while we all embrace the spirit in our own way, we all feel comfort in never being alone. In that way, Jeanne will always be with us.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Act As If

I don't usually post other posts in their entirety, but this one seemed especially, well, special. We are all about human connection, but so often we are disappointed because the connection is not quite the way we would hope it to be. Remember that we are all imperfect in our humanity, so we just don't always get it right. However, if you just let go of trying to control the relationship and just work on your part, that is enough. The positive feelings, vibrations, actions dominate and override the negative. Stop reacting and be proactive. Act as if....just give it a try and have patience with yourself.

Daily Law of Attraction Quotation

You don't have to worry about what their vibration is if your vibration is one of connection. Because if your vibration is one of connection -- you're going to dominate the vibration. This is the way you learn your relationships. The thing that most people do not understand, is that you get to control the way you feel, because you get to choose the thoughts you think. Most people think that they only have the option of responding to the circumstances that surround them. And that's what makes them attempt the impossible, which is to control the circumstances around them, which only feeds their feeling of frustration and vulnerability, because it doesn't take very much life experience to discover you can't control all of those circumstances. But you can control your vibration. And when you control your vibration, you've controlled everything that has anything to do with you.
--- Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in El Paso, TX on Thursday, March 28th, 2002

If you are so inclined, check out the daily blog of Abraham, maintained by Esther and Jerry Hicks at


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

After Miss Julie - After HIV

I unexpectedly found myself with a full day on Saturday. First some wonderful clients in NJ, then visiting with a friend in Peekskill, then visiting my daughter Jess in NYC. It was a bit of a gloomy day, and as I wound my way up to Peekskill via Rt 9A/9/9A (?), I found myself searching the dial for appropriate music. I settled on Jonathan Schwartz on WNYC 93.9, with Saturdays With Sinatra program, which fit the bill perfectly. The Sinatra performance that struck me most during the drive was "The House I Live In", about being an American, and how we help each other, the strength we have as a people, recorded at MSG in 1974. During one of the commercial breaks, a play called After Miss Julie was advertised.

After Peekskill, I skipped down the Saw Mill to Manhattan to visit Jess. We we wandered around midtown, 42nd Street, through the throngs, and found ourselves in front of one of the Broadway theaters just before dinnertime, and were able to buy rush (inexpensive, last minute) tickets for $21.50 each, have time for a bit of dinner and back in plenty of time for After Miss Julie. What a nice coincidence. The American Airlines Theater hosts the Roundabout Theater Company. http://www.roundabouttheatre.org
/aat/index.htm?gclid=CKbH2b6Ikp4CFUlo5QodhlYsoA After Miss Julie, based on Strindberg's Miss Julie, and written by Patrick Marber, is set in 1945 England, complete with class stratification and period music. Down and dirty little story about how class affects life, and worth checking out.

It is also one of the two periods of the year that Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids solicits donations for HIV/AIDs research. Give it up - we are making progress but have quite a way to go. Consider making a donation or shopping their online auction. It was interesting to me the parallel between class stratification then and now, weaving in the Sinatra songs, and the access that class gives to medications for HIV treatment, as well as the people who are the fastest growing population to contract HIV, improverished women of color. http://www.broadwaycares.org/Page.aspx?pid=195 Help stamp out AIDS.

Friday, November 6, 2009

On the Bus - Or - Be Careful of the Bus You Board

I went to Disneyworld last week. Correction - I was in Disneyworld for a corporate retreat. The weather was nice. No complaints. I had a lovely room, great weather. But lets backtrack for a moment. Our organization had made special arrangements for Disney's Magical Express, a bus service that picks up your bags from baggage claim and takes you to the front door of the resort you will make home for the next few days. Sounds great, yes? And mostly, it is. It is extremely well organized. Everyone is very pleasant and Disney understands crowd control. Did I say crowd?

While still at the airport terminal, I was told to go to a special part of the terminal to board the bus. There were hundreds of people on line before me, however, in the usual Disney fashion, the crowd control was exceptional and they were able to put us all on lines for buses going to the individual resorts as fast as you could say Jiminy Cricket.

I found myself getting into that waiting on line mindset that happens when you really don't have much choice, unless you want to grab a cab and pay the $60 or so. I could have done that, but I had already resigned myself to the line. First clue to giving it up to a greater power - in this case, Disney.

On the bus itself, a version of Radio Disney plays. First Shania Twain, then The Police, then Brickhouse, of all things, then Michael Jackson. I was a bit confused by the musical selections, but figured it was the something for everyone version of music programming. I think that the confusion was a form of relaxing the mind to get it ready for the total Disney immersion. As an hypnotherapist, I know that when we occupy the conscious mind, the subconscious opens up and becomes more receptive. I could name a thousand things at Disney that could put you in that receptive mind-frame. Be careful of the bus you board, and what you become receptive to.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Weight Loss and Social X-Rays

Everyone wants to know how to lose weight. Well, that's what they say. First question - do you really need to lose weight or are you unhappy with your internal image of your body? If you really need to lose weight, let's talk about it. If you are fitting in your clothes nicely, they are a reasonable size and you still just don't like the way you look in the mirror, chances are it is a body image situation. I recently attended a 50th birthday party for a friend. My friend is a normal sized woman. She exercises, takes care of herself, etc. No problem there. However, a number of her friends are very thin.

When these thin friends realized that I am a hypnotherapist who works with people to lose weight, they became my new best friend. "Please tell me how to lose weight... It is such a struggle for me....Weight has been an issue my entire life, etc."

I empathize. It is clear that this is a priority for the women I was speaking with. They place that issue first and foremost in their minds. It is the beacon that lights their way, and the pain that dogs at their heels. They are all beautiful, but feel like the need help. At first, I felt that they did not need hypnotherapy, psychotherapy or nutritional counseling. After all, they seem to have it under control.

Interestingly, though, when I discussed this with one of my daughters, she had a very insightful perspective. She suggested that maybe they do need some type of counseling. Perhaps their eating could be disordered. Clearly their body image is distorted. Their problem might not be binge eating but it certainly could be a severe lack of self-esteem or obsessive thoughts of some type that drive them toward an impossible or unhealthy perfection.

As we flip through the glossy magazines or watch those very thin social x-rays (Tom Wolfe's term for ultra-thin society women - personified by socialite Nan Kempner, above - they disappear when they turn sideways), let's try to keep in mind that we are beautiful, that beauty is so much more than our flesh. Beauty is in the tone of our voice, the swing of our step, the way we carry ourselves, and, so significantly, in the way we treat others and ourselves.

Be gentle, loving and kind to yourself and to others and you are beautiful.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Still Love My Ovaries

Talk about shock value. I visited with my doctor last week, who suggested I might want to cut out my ovaries. "We just go in through your belly button and snip snip!" What? Did I hear you right? It was that abrupt. She seemed so enthusiastic that I wanted to say to her - "hey, why don't we do it together? We could go get waffles at IHop afterward - make a day of it! Fun!"

Honestly, I am not ready for this. I consider myself a young woman. My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 53. I am 50. So this is what I said to the doctor. "Well then, lets do a BRACA blood test." Now this is a little more reasonable. Let's give it a whirl. I stuck out my arm and the nurse took a couple vials of blood to whisk away to Myriad Labs. Just for the record, my mother did not have BRCA 1 or 2, but another fun variant that the genetic counselor says that 10 years after her death still is not a variant that indicates any increased risk for cancer.

I remember telling my mom at the time that we should call it Jeanne's Variant, after her. She did not find it too amusing. We still are not sure why Mom ended up first with breast then with the ovarian cancer that she struggled with and eventually succumbed to at the age of just 61 in 1999.

There is still so much we don't know about ovarian cancer. If cutting out my ovaries is the right thing to do, I'll do it. Jury is still out.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thank you for smoking

I loved that movie. Did you see it? I just thought of it again recently as Aaron Eckhart is starring in a new movie with Jennifer Aniston, this time a love story.

I love smoking cigarettes but I know they are bad for me, therefore, I do not smoke. I would like to smoke, and think fondly of Burgess Meredith in Grumpier Old Men, as he complains about smoking for the vast majority of his long life (at about age 95) with no negative ramifications. Lovely fairytale, yes? I wish it were true.

I have been sharing my love of smoking with my clients who want to quit, and they tell me it gives them hope. I tell them that they don't have to quit all at once, that they can take their time, and that gives them hope too.

Eventually, my clients quit smoking. Some quit right away. They all quit eventually. And as Burgess Meredith's character in Grumpier Old Men found out, God did not forget about him. Let's be gentle with ourselves, but let's stick around here for a while.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fertility and Honoring the Beauty of the Female Body

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard my sisters, daughters, friends and coworkers disparage their female bodies during their period. The curse, the rag, my time of month, the pain, the agony, the suffering. depression, inconvenience, etc. While I know there are some disorders that are aggravated by these hormonal times, many are gently elusive to explanation.

MD , OB Gyn and author, Christianne Northrup, says that years ago, when it was that time of the month, women took to bed for three days to rest and take care of themselves. What an amazing idea. Can you imagine being able to do this? Maybe this is the reason the body yells so loudly. It may be telling us, I need to rest – pay attention to me, give me a break. Acknowledge my existence. Honor me.

It is no surprise, then, when our bodies tell us, well, if you don’t like this, why should I do the other things I am made to do – conceive, carry a fetus/child/fertilized egg – when you curse my existence?

Years ago, when first joining a women’s meditation circle, I learned of another possibility, another concept – honoring all phases of the body and its functioning. I was already blessed with my two daughters, but suffered from cramps and depression during my period.

I gave it a try. During my next cycle, I welcomed the cramps and pain and thanked my body for working so well. I honored my physical and emotional state, let myself rest, cry, had that bit of chocolate and refrained from getting angry with my body.

The most amazing thing happened…my painful cramps subsided. My body no longer had to get my attention in order for me to notice it. Simple as that.

I had a client who had not had her period for over two years. We worked together using hypnotherapy two times. She told me that she had been to a number of doctors who could find nothing physically wrong with her. Doctors put her on Provera hormone trials to try and kick-start her cycle. Nothing worked. She shared with me that she had promised an (by this point) ex-lover that she would not become pregnant. She wanted the relationship so badly that she stopped ovulating. And it stayed that way for two years until we worked together.

She was, in the present time, in a new relationship and now wanted to conceive a child. She was very frustrated and at the end of her rope. I was her last hope. Hypnosis was her last chance. FYI, she was 32 years old.

After we began to talk to her body, release her promise to her former lover and honor her body, her body began to flow as intended. She considered it a miracle, but to a hypnotherapist, it is just another day in the mind/body/spirit realm.

If I can leave you with anything today, please know that I am not saying what your dad or your honey says “it is all in your head”. However, our minds are very powerful instruments that can help us create a reality that supports the life we want and deserve. That might include a child, an easier menstrual period or gentler life. Honor the beauty that is the female body.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Make Something Tasty Today - I Command It!

I love to cook and love healthy food. Here's a great recipe I adapted from two of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) and Maria McQuillan, my daughter Julia's best friend, Melina's mom. Maria makes the best beef empanadas, unequivocally, though I have not yet been brave enough to ask for the recipe. I am just grateful when a few find their way to my table!

This recipe for Shrimp Ceviche is yummy as a veggie dish too. Hope you enjoy, with love, on this Labor Day!

Ina’s Ceviche with Maria’s twist

Ina contributed the orange and Maria’s secret ingredient is ketchup.

Grate zest of 2 oranges
Juice oranges and reserve juice in a medium bowl

Put in medium bowl
Orange zest (2-3 tablespoons)
1 lb shrimp, cooked, shelled and cut in small pieces (already cooked or boil until just done) – let cool (can substitute 1 package (8-10 oz) extra firm tofu cubed and browned in skillet, drained and cooled until just warm)
2 Tablespoons capers
½ cup finely chopped celery (3 large stalks)
½ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
(you can also cube an avocado and add it too J )

In smaller juice bowl
Combine orange juice (about ½ cup) with 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, 2-4 tablespoons Heinz ketchup. Whisk together with about ½ teaspoon ground pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Slowly add good olive oil (about ½ cup) and whisk until emulsified
Pour dressing over shrimp, etc and toss. Set aside to marinate a bit and chill. Serve over a bed of lettuce in a dessert cup or bowl or plain from the container.

I always love this part - Eat and enjoy. As my sister Jenn would say; "eat and enjoy, I command it". Jenn is not a demanding person. She loves our language and gets a kick out of those directive statements, like "have a nice day (or I"ll make you have one)", "make this day great (or else)", etc.

Store extra covered in the refrigerator - or I'll come over there!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Feng Shui with Sharon Rothman on Saturday, September 26

Saturday, Sept 26, 2-4pm - Please save the date for a 9-Star Ki Feng Shui group with Sharon Rothman, certified Intuitive Feng Shui consultant and expert 9-Star Ki Astrologer, followed by refreshments, hosted at Mary Beth Del Balzo’s HoHoKus, NJ space. Cost is $35.

RSVP or info please contact Mary Beth at 201-394-2319 or sootie71@aol.com, www.marybethdelbalzo.com.

For more information about Sharon Rothman, visit her site at www.fengshuiwei.com

Monday, August 24, 2009

Selective Hearing....What?

I had an appointment today with an ENT, an Ear Nose and Throat Physician. Interestingly, in my life, so much is always mind body connected. Dr Katz and I had a chat about the hundreds of rock concerts I have attended, and how my daughter Julia tells me that I cannot hear her as well as I used to.
The doctor popped me right in to meet with Judy, the audiologist, who checked my hearing. No preparing for this test. I hear the faintest of tones first in my right ear, then in my left. I know I missed a few, but turns out, basically, that I can still hear. Cheers to that.
Here is the thing, however. While I have lost some of the most high tones, the kind doctor told me, will make it just a tiny bit tougher to hear small children or women with very high voices, that I am basically ok. He warned me to wear earplugs to the concerts or I might actually lose my hearing.
My daughter, Julia, had been urging me to have my hearing tested. I think this is frustrating for her that there is no simple answer to this one. She says that I pretend I know what she is saying. The truth is, my sweet voiced girl says things and I hear something else, and sometimes respond to the wrong thing I think I hear. She is soft spoken and has a somewhat high voice, though not tinny or squeaky. Why don't I hear her?
What would I ask a hypnotherapy or therapy client? What don't you want to hear? What is your mind shutting out, since the problem is not malfunctioning ears? I'll be asking myself that, and, meanwhile, paying extra special attention to everything that Julia says to me. Yes, she is that special.

Monday, August 10, 2009

10 Misconceptions About Hypnosis

I always field at least one or two questions and concerns from clients during a first session. I hope this brief list will help dispel some common misconceptions about what hypnosis is, and what it is not. Changes come about only when they are for your own highest good and wellbeing. And those changes can feel magical, even as they are within your reach!

1. You will bark like a dog. Corrective statement - You will not do anything to embarrass yourself. Most of us have seen stage hypnosis shows, seeing a friend acting out of character. Stage hypnosis is very different from therapeutic hypnosis. In stage hypnosis, your friend actually gives permission to themselves to give up their inhibitions in order to participate in the show. They decide ahead of time that it would be okay to bark like a dog in front of all of those people! In therapeutic hypnosis, you decide for yourself what you will and won't do.

2. You will be out of control. Corrective statement - You are always in control! All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Nothing happens unless you decide that it will. For example, I can tell you to close your eyes or breathe deeply, but you will not do either of these things without deciding for yourself.
3. You won't remember anything. Corrective statement - We retain and recall information even more clearly in a trance or hypnotic state. Some people hypnotize themselves while studying for a test or exam especially to recall info. You may feel as if you have relaxed deeply and that your mind wandered, but you will retain all information that is for your highest good and wellbeing.
4. Someone will implant negative thoughts or commands in your head. Corrective statement - You will only accept suggestions that are for your highest good or wellbeing. A thought or statement that is not good for you will go in one ear and out the other. For example, when working with someone who had one kidney (though I did not know it), I suggested that they would look forward to drinking lots of water. This individual needed to restrict their liquid intake and did not drink more water than was good for her.

5. Hypnosis is like truth serum - you will blurt out all kinds of weird things. Corrective statement - You are always in control and can still decide what you will or will not say. However, you will be more true to yourself, and your subconscious mind will dive deeper to consider information that you know, deep down, but may not have considered before in your conscious mind. This shift from subconscious to conscious mind only happens when the time is right for you to consider this information.
6. Hypnosis is a magic pill. Everything will magically change after one quick session. Corrective statement - While positive change can be very swift, it sometimes takes more than one session to reinforce and shift into the changes you seek.
7. The changes you make in hypnosis last forever. Corrective statement - The changes you make in hypnosis can last forever, but just as with any therapy, they sometimes require practice to be permanent. For example, if you are prescribed physical therapy, you can make permanent changes, but only as you continue to exercise the proper area. It is the same in hypnosis. Using the tools you learn in hypnosis sessions can help create permanent change, but only with your commitment.

8. Hypnosis is something that is done to you - you do not have to participate. Corrective statement - Hypnosis is a therapy that requires your engagement. Step one is showing up. The best results happen when you participate in your own wellness.
9. If you come for hypnosis one time and you are not "cured", you are a failure and unhypnotizable - or - conversely, if you are hypnotizable you might never wake up. Corrective statement – hypnosis is a natural state that we slip in and out of every day, giving us relaxation and peace that we all need. That feeling when we are drifting off to sleep is a trance state. It follows that as we slip in and out of this state naturally, that if you are in a therapeutic hypnosis session and somehow you are left in that state, you would gently come back to the here and now.
10. Hypnosis is a deep mysterious process which most people will never be able to understand. Corrective statement – Hypnosis is a useful tool that is available to us all and is a natural state in between full wakefulness and sleep.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Crackberry at Newport Folk Festival - what's different and what is the same - 50 years later

I was talking to my sis, Jenn, as we sat and listened to the great music at the Newport Folk Festival. We couldn't help but reminisce about this being the 50th year of the festival and how it has changed from 1959 to now.

The biggest change - We were all checking our palm pilots, cell phones, crackberries, or in my case, "Crackette" - the lovely Blackberry Curve in Cotton Candy Pink, which allows me to remain connected to work and all of my websites, blog, and contacts at all times, even while listening to the incredible Judy Collins during the festival.

Sadly, the main thing I would like to have been different would to be in a time of peace NOW. Technically, we were not at war in 1959 when the Folk Festival began, but I do know that we were recently past the Korean conflict, and that Vietnam was already brewing. I wish that the war protest songs were just nostalgia, not so timely and profound to today's world. I found myself bitterly weeping while Collins sang the "The Weight Of The World", about a brother going off to war and coming home in a box.

photo courtesy of NPR.org
The entire concert was magical, as a 50th anniversary should be. Judy Collins' voice sailed about the huge crowd, permeated the rain and fog, like a beacon of light bringing us back to what is important; love, family, peace, music.

The festival was truly without preachy political overtones or undertones. Instead, it chose to practice. Recycling was consistent and thoughtful. All of the artists kept saying that they were honored to be a part of the festival.

Ben Kweller was a favorite, The Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes, the Decemberists, of course the great Arlo Guthrie, Guy Clark, Tim Eriksen, Elvis Perkins. Deer Tick rocked, and Balfa Toujours made us want to all board the next plane for New Orleans.

Joan Baez was sweet and reminscent also. She actually performed at the first folk festival in 1959. What a great treat to see her and hear her. Pete Seger led sing-alongs both evenings. On Saturday, his third sing along song was a song first popularlized in 1921, and made famous by Bing Crosby, "Blue Skies". He even went for the verse, not just the chorus.

I'll let the reviewers and NPR give the full lowdown on all of the artists and their music (click here - http://www.npr.org/music/newportfolk/index2.html. I will say that for me, every second was savored, those moments in the beating 90 degree sun of Saturday and the warm rain of late Sunday afternoon. We got it all!

Newport Folk Festival

After day one at Newport Folk Festival, attended by me, my daughter Julia and sister Jenn, we are a bit sunburned, have sampled great foods and have heard much awesome music. The music has been consistently great, and the venue, while leaves us bare to the heat of the sun, is right on the water and allows a nice breeze. Some highlights, for me, included Pete Seger, of course, though the crowd seemed shy and really took some time to warm up and sing along. His musical selections are as relevant today as they must have been when the folk festival started 50 years ago.

Ben Kweller was wonderful, a breath of fresh air, and Julia's favorite. She has loved Ben Kweller's music for a long time. He incorporates a steel pedal guitar that is so special. Fleet Foxes were my favorite, and reminded me of some of CSN's early acapella, complex harmonies. Since this is my thing, I absolutely loved them.

Some other notables include Brett Dennen, The Decemberists, the really fun Avett Brothers and Iron and Wine. My sister Jenn caught Mavis Staples and said she was awesome. I honestly could not get around to every stage, but heard that Ramblin' Jack Elliott inspired many of the younger musicians there yesterday. Today should be another great day of tunes! To listen live, click here http://www.npr.org/music/newportfolk/index2.html

Friday, July 31, 2009

Indoors All Day

I work in a somewhat corporate environment. I say somewhat because I work at a college, so the students save us from our truly corporate ways. However, we sometimes get stuck inside at meetings. These meetings can last all day, like yesterday. I'm not giving away any secrets by saying that all organizations pow-wow sometimes, plan for the future, take a look at where they are, etc. We pow-wowed yesterday. We were inside all day. It was a hot, muggy and rainstormy day, so it worked out, but I still miss the fresh air.

I assured myself that I will breathe this weekend.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Whipping Our Butts at Scrabble

I really don't remember if I ever played Scrabble before last weekend. I grew up playing Monopoly, in fact, was schooled in winning at Monopoly. I loved and enjoyed Uno, Battleship, Poker, Clue, Trouble (with the pop-a-matic dice!), and Trivial Pursuit. However, somehow, I never learned to play Scrabble. How hard could it be?

Well, I just found out.

Our older daughter and her boyfriend teamed up against us and showed us how the game is played. Our demise was not a pretty sight. We were buried pretty quickly! However, I now understand the strategy and am ready for a rematch.

My sister Jenn plays Scrabulous, and loves it. I think I will get online and practice up.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Too Hot to Handle

I slip in and out of hot flashes. I just don't understand it. I mean, I do understand the physiology, but not the timing. I can be perfectly fine one moment and the next there is steam emenating from my back. I am not a cold weather person, but I found myself longing for a cold December day in the middle of this currently muggy and hot New Jersey July. I wanted to step outside and plunge my head into a snow drift.

To make matters more difficult, our office building is large and the AC flips back and forth between sauna to cold snap on any given day, or any time of day. I just don't know how to dress. I have begun to dress in layers, but how many layers can you realistically strip off in the middle of a meeting? It might be interesting, or alarming to some, more likely. I would rather keep the unlayering to home.

I console myself with the reminder that aging allows me to become the crone, the wise woman. But how wise do i look while fanning myself furiously or mopping sweat from my brow when the temperature for everyone else is arctic?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Week of Eating Pizza

I ate pizza three times this week....and i didn't just eat a slice each time, and I did it 3 days in a row. I promise I won't eat it again for a while.

Let me backtrack for a moment. During my last visit with my doctor last winter, he told me I needed to lose 10 pounds. I went to a nutritionist (Elyssa Hurlbutt of Joy Bauer Nutrition) and was wisely advised on how to eat and how much to exercise. I followed the rules and have managed to healthfully drop the weight and keep it off. I feel good, full of energy and have a sense of accomplishment. Pizza is definitely not on the list of preferred foods, though Elyssa has not forbidden any foods, as long as they are in moderation.
Being that I am a bit of a foodie, there are very few foods I would give up, but compromise is okay with me, as long as I get what I want, ultimately. I love Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, but figure ways to get the sugar and butter out of her recipes.
Back to the pizza. So, this week, I stopped walking the walk. On Thursday, I decided I would get a pizza; not to eat it all, but to have a little bit. Thin crust pepperoni - yum. My daughter Julia had some with me, and we watched the finale of The Fashion Show with Issac Mizrahi on Bravo network, sipped a white wine spritzer - just a fun girls night.
However, I ate 3 pieces of pizza. I thought, okay, no problem. I told my husband, who decided, the next night, that it is was his turn to eat pizza with me. This time, thin crust cheese. I ate 3 pieces again. I thought again, okay, get back on the eliptical tomorrow morning and get back on the straight and narrow.
Today, I got on the eliptical, had a small, reasonable breakfast, and went with friends to the Yankee game, where I had planned on having some nice ballpark item to eat that wouldn't be outrageous at the beautiful, new Yankee Stadium. No problem. Except, we were hosting friends. My husband offered to pick up some food at the concession and I accompanied our guests to our seats. I left it to him and guess what he brought me? Wonderful, Famous Familigia Pizza. I kid you not. Two pieces. I ate them. They were good, and not thin crust. Don't get me wrong. I know I could have tossed them. I did not toss them. They were just too good. You do not toss Famous Familigia pizza.
I do not blame my husband. I actually do not blame myself, but plan on enjoying the memory of the Week of Eating Pizza. It was worth it, but I definitely am not getting on the scale for a few days!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Refi - what a sweet sounding word!

I'm sure that many of us are feeling the financial pinch. We are lucky enough to own a home, and are signing the paperwork for a refinance today. After the financial craziness of the past couple of years, we wondered how we would fare in the refi market, but, remarkably, there is a bank out there that still thinks we are a good bet and a steady customer. A couple of years ago, you practically tripped over the deals that were being offered by just walking down the street.

We have friends who got tripped up in those and ended up losing their homes. What a crime!

For the time being, I am just glad that we will get our monthly nut down, even if just a little bit. With two big doggies to feed, every bit of kibble helps!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

One man's take on his struggle with food from NY Times Food Editor, Frank Bruni

I Was a Baby Bulimic
Published by The New York Times: July 15, 2009

I have neither a therapist’s diagnosis nor any scientific literature to support the following claim, and I can’t back it up with more than a cursory level of detail. So you’re just going to have to go with me on this: I was a baby bulimic.

Maybe not baby — toddler bulimic is more like it, though I didn’t so much toddle as wobble, given the roundness of my expanding form. I was a plump infant and was on my way to becoming an even plumper child, a ravenous machine determined to devour anything in its sights. My parents would later tell me, my friends and anyone else willing to listen that they’d never seen a kid eat the way I ate or react the way I reacted whenever I was denied more food. What I did in those circumstances was throw up.

I have no independent memory of this. But according to my mother, it began when I was about 18 months old. It went on for no more than a year. And I’d congratulate myself here for stopping such an evidently compulsive behavior without the benefit of an intervention or the ability to read a self-help book except that I wasn’t so much stopping as pausing. But I’m getting ahead of the story.

A hamburger dinner sounded the first alarm. My mother had cooked and served me one big burger, which would be enough for most carnivores still in diapers. I polished it off and pleaded for a second. So she cooked and served me another big burger, confident that I’d never get through it. It was the last time she underestimated my appetite.

to read more of this article, click on the link or cut and paste:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CW Among 3 NY State Nominees for Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award


3 New York Employers Named as Semi-Finalists for 2009 Freedom Award
3 New York employers have been selected as Semi-Finalists for the 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The award is the U.S. Government’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is significant because only members of the National Guard and Reserve or their family members are eligible to nominate their employers for the award.
Semi-Finalists from New York include Verizon, the College of Westchester and the County of Suffolk.
The 3 New York employers are among 131 Semi-Finalists from across the nation, selected from more than 3,200 nominations submitted by National Guard and Reserve members or their families for outstanding employer support. From this field, a national review board will select 35 finalists for the award. A national selection board comprised of senior defense officials and business leaders will then select the award’s 15 recipients. The Department of Defense will announce the 2009 finalists in June and the award recipients in July. The 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., September 17th at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Center.
About ESGR
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 that seeks to promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees. We recognize outstanding support, increase awareness of the law, and resolve conflicts through informal mediation. For more information, please visit www.esgr.mil.
About the Award
The Freedom Award is a Secretary of Defense award which was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. Previous recipients include American Express, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Sears, Home Depot, the State of Tennessee and the Winner School District of South Dakota. For more information, please visit www.FreedomAward.mil.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Changing Colors - Just Listen

Have you ever noticed how changing a color can change your mood? About a year or so ago, I worked with a very talented grad of The College of Westchester, Jessica Perilla, who has her own web design studio, JPD Studios http://www.jpdstudio.com/, in designing my website. I love it and it makes me happy to look at it. However, I recently decided that I needed to change the colors. It is still the original colors, so if you look at it, you will see that the colors are all light and airy. However, I decided that I wanted it to be warmer, somehow. I decided it as easily as if I had wanted to change outfits. It was a deliberate and swift decision.

I love when inspiration comes quickly and definitively. I was glad, more than anything, that I was listening and felt it as certainty in my bones and in my heart.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Feeling Left Out – Out is a Good Place to Be

Melina, Catie, Julia, Jess and Chris outside of Uncle Wil's Pancake House

I walked into the house, beginning to consider writing a blog. I’m at the shore for a short bit, with my daughters and their friends. After we finished our favorite dinner of wings at Chicken Or The Egg in LBI, NJ, the kids (all in their 20s) decided to take a stroll, pick up some fudge, check out the local amusement park, etc. I drove home alone about a mile to my dad’s beach house, with a bit of time on my hands. On my way home I drove by my sister’s house and noticed flowers that were planted in her planter, that look so nice. (They have renters in right now so she is not there.) I realized that the flowers are the same as the flowers one of my other sisters had planted at my father’s beach bungalow, where I am staying.
As I arrived at my Dad’s empty place, where we all are lucky enought to take turns using his house during the summer, I mused on various topics I might consider writing about. Walking up the stairs to the front door, I was reminded of my brother who has repaired little things and big all around the place, and my brother in law, who is handy too. I thought of my youngest sister who has left her mark in the home too - the hot sauce in the cupboard. I started missing them all. My husband is driving down to meet us tomorrow morning, but for tonight I am left with my own thoughts.
I start thinking about my daughters, the oldest of the cousins. They are must a bit older than the rest of the cousins, and photos pepper the house – some of my girls when they were younger, and some photos of the rest of the cousins, all together. I can see that they are having some good times together. I know it is no one’s fault, but I’m feeling left out – for myself, and for my girls.
I’ve been hearing from my siblings that they have all been down visiting with each other, cousins on the beach together, enjoying the family. When my girls where little my mom was still alive. Mom and my youngest sister Jenn spent a lot of time at the shore, in this house. My next youngest sister Karen would babysit Jenn, and my dad would drive down on the weekends. I was working for my dad and rarely took time off. My girls and I treasured the little bit of time that we could come down to the beach, but it was so different. Now it is quiet. When we did manage to get down to the beach it was often when no one else was visiting. My husband travelled quite a bit so it was rare that he ever came down with us. My sisters had no children at this point so they worked all the time. Now the tables have turned, but they have each other. I’m really happy for them, but I do feel a bit left out. Also, I'm working at the office quite a bit more now.
On the other hand, four precious days to spend with my daughters is a treat I still savor, and from what they tell me, so do they. We have our own traditions and rituals of the summer. That’s enough for me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wake Up to Yourself!

Do you ever have these moments of waking up? I hope so. Some people call them a-ha or lightbulb moments. We all have them, but are not always awake realizing that we are in our moments of clarity. This afternoon, I had one of those moments. I realized so much about what I truly need to take care of myself, why people are in my life as my healers. I need to stop living in fear and tentative self and embrace the love and assistance that is coming my way. I am on the verge of great things.

What does waking up mean? It means living in the present moment. We can only affect where we are right at this moment. Where do most people live? They live in the past or in the future, but we are powerless to affect only the present moment. We can overcome anything if we accept and embrace our innate healing power. We are meant to be healthy and whole.

How do these moments happen? I have found that when we give ourself space to meditate or be quiet, be on our own, hear our own voice, listen, that we are able to actually hear our truth. We truly do know what we innately need to live and thrive in this world. We can nurture our essence, which is our spirit. This nurturing of spirit is not the same as practicing a religion, though some people practice connecting to spirit in this way.

Wake up!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sandy's With The Angels

Our oldes doggie, Sandy, is with the angels as of this morning.

I write about our dogs sometimes. We have three, all golden retrievers. Sandy is the oldest, at 13 1/2. She is not a specimen, as my father in law calls purebreds that are truest to their breed. She is more of a field golden - short hair, reddish color, almost like an irish setter in color.

Over the past few years she has begun to have health problems and had been slowing down. She has had several surgeries, to cut out this or that, as well as other treatments. I tell friends, remember, we live in Jersey. It remindes me of the Steve Goodman song, Watching Joey Glow, about a kid that lives near a nuclear reactor - lovely. We live in a great area, no nuclear reactor or chemical plant, but it creeps me out to watch our animals get cancer.

Sandy has always held her own. She has had a number of health problems over the years but was always spritely through it all. In the past few months, however, she had been slowing down. She has always been the alpha dog, and the matriarch of the other dogs. She was loving and gentle. She was born on Christmas Eve, and really has been a special treat and gift to us. She recently allowed our youngest doggie, Janey, to become the alpha. She has passed the baton.

She still made it up the stairs at night to sleep in our room, but finally gave that up a couple of nights ago. The vet has prescribed some pain medication and she had been getting into palliative care. We savored these last days with our girl. One of my friends asked me recently if she was hanging on for us, if we have told her it is okay to go. It really got me thinking.

Our daughter Julia has been away for 6 weeks and just got home a couple of days ago. Sandy loves Jul (all the animals do). I think she was waiting to see Julia. Please send blessings and prayers to our girlie Sandy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Whatever Works

I love the new Woody Allen movie. My family will tell you, however, that I say this about each of his movies. The theme behind this particular film is - grab a little happiness whenever and wherever you can. Though this isn't my usual philosophy of life, there are many places that my philosophies intersect with Woody Allen's.

Larry David, creator of Seinfeld, is brilliant as Boris, the lead character. Woody has finally found his guy, and a guy of such stature, at least to my liking. They are both understated and right in your face at the same time. Just the name of David's most recent program, Curb Your Enthusiasm, tells it like it is. He is the perfect protagonist.

Though I love all the earlier funny and later instrospective Allen movies, there was something about Whatever Works that just did it for me. Maybe it was just quintessential Woody - 21 year old girl asks 60-something guy to take pity on her and they fall in love. In the real world - what? In Woody's world, this is standard fare.

I always tell people, when discussing the upbringing of our children, that I raised my girls on Disney and Woody Allen. No apologies, just the straight scoop. They also received sacraments in the Catholic Church as kids, but I thought it was important for them to be able to wander the other side of the fence too.

Broadway Danny Rose was a biggie for our family - Acceptance, Forgiveness and Love. How bad can that be? Go see Whatever Works - laugh and be delighted!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monkey Mind Wins

Today is a monkey mind day for me. I know this is a buddhist term for someone whose mind hops around from branch to branch, maybe stopping long enough to breathe for a second or two, maybe not. It is a bit different than being manic, then again, maybe not. Even though I had been meditating for many, many years, I had never heard the term monkey mind until last year when The College of Westchester sponsored a conference for one of our assocations, APC Colleges, on Lifelong Learning. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Jackson Kytle, author of "To Want To Learn", first referenced it when discussing lifelong learners.

I stumbled across the monkey mind today as I attempted to begin my weekly yoga class....yes...weekly. One hour, all week. Doesn't seem like a lot to sqeak out, right? Today, for the first time, after trying to work though my busy mind and into my body for almost 30 minutes, I decided not to fight it. It just wasn't worth it.

I picked up my mat and walked back to my office and got to work. It's okay, sometimes, to acknowledge what you need. Today my monkey mind needed to win.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

We anticipate holidays as the joyous celebrations we hope they will be. Let me start out by saying that I am fortunate to have wonderful siblings and a great dad, my beloved mom (who passed away in 1999 at age 61), an wonderful grandmother, my inspiration (she is now 93), a great husband and two amazing daughters, sisters and brothers in law, nieces and nephews, fantastic cousins, and a father in law who I love dearly. In our many years of marriage (my husband Jim and I celebrated our 28th anniversary recently), we have spent every father's day with my dad.

This year, we decided to spend father's day with Jim's dad, Big Jim (dubbed by my sis Nancy). Big Jim is now 87, and is getting on in years with some of the unfortunate requisite difficulties, but he will always be bigger than life to me.

Big Jim never finished high school because his dad needed him at home and to help bring money into the house. He grew up in Queens and stayed there until he met my husband's mother and married her. He often worked 3 jobs to keep the family house in the black, something my husband will never forget. (My mother-in-law worked too.)

He was always a voracious reader, though in the past few years he has lost interest, we believe due to cognitive difficulties brought on by some type of water on the brain or parkinsons or a combination of things. He was been totally deaf in one ear since an ear infection at the age of 8, and has limited hearing in the other. He manages to hear, when his hearing aid is working, which seems to be less and less lately.

Conversation these days is difficult, but we all do our best, especially Big Jim. He and I always got along well, and have had many good conversations over the years. I miss those times. He and my mother in law Kay would come up from Florida to NJ most summers for two or three weeks to stay. Though it is bittersweet, when my mother in law was diagosed with cancer, they stayed with us for a number of months as she went through her many treatments. When Kay died, he stayed with us for several months again, helping me dig a new garden, and keeping us all in good company. Big Jim knew how to mourn, and tore up the earth instead of himself or us. We missed him terribly when he decided to go back home to Port St. Lucie. He had a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor, and could be counted on to be a wise guy.

When I worked as a counselor in hospice several years ago, I would often converse with people about their loved ones. So often they would say that they felt like their loved one was already gone, even though they were sitting right there. I'm beginning to feel that way about Big Jim, even though I am glad that I can still see him and visit him.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Learning something new

I've been away at a conference learning about a subject I know almost nothing about. I'm learning from scratch. There have been many times that I have been in this situation, starting as an absolute novice and have had to become an expert. It always starts out as a daunting task and then it is revealed - what a great feeling! Usually it takes a lot of hard work, and lots of help from others. I get to know other people and we rely on each other too. I've learned to trust the process to have patience, but to be tenacious.

The clouds are already beginning to part! Hallelujah!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

College time for Juniors - Don't sweat it!

Oh boy - I know so many people whose kids are juniors in high school. The kids are still in junior year mode - working hard, school year winding down, looking forward to the summer, having taken the SATs for the 2nd or 3rd time and not really serious about college yet. Their parents, however, already have that deer in the headlights look in their eyes. Let's not even talk about parents of students who just started college this past fall and the financial situation that created all that extra stress. Yow!

What a difference a year makes. However, it has gone back to the usual stress of where should my child go to school, where will they be accepted, what can I afford, will it be the right fit, etc.

I'm here to tell you that as long as you make those application deadlines, your child will be fine! I have been working with The College of Westchester in White Plains NY for many years. Working in the college "business" for so long really helped me get past the parental anxiety that creeps up on so many folks. Also, I've been through it. One of my daughters received her undergrad degree in May '08 and is now pursuing a masters, and my younger daughter has just finished up her junior year in college, so we know the drill. It can be fun, and good for your relationship, as long as you know that it will all be okay.

College application deadlines truly depend on the school (some have early decision or early application - usually Nov 1 or Nov 15, rolling admissions - they accept application all year, regular application usually Dec 31). Many schools are now offering a test optional policy, which means that they do not require a student to submit SATs or ACTs. Check with the school websites for their policies and deadlines.

And, most importantly, don't sweat it. Your kid is great. You are great. It's all good - really. There is a great school for everyone, and I mean everyone.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Make a plan

I made a plan today. I am going to the Newport Folk Festival with my daughters and my sis. Jenn, my youngest sibling, writes a column called Full Frontal for the Newport Mercury, and she covers all of Newort's festivals. When I was a kid it was a dream of mine to go to the Jazz Festival, the Folk Festival, etc. In the past few years I have been able to fulfill this fond wish. I have to tell you, it may be hot, it may be on an island that has almost no shade, but the music is worth it. Here is the link: http://www.folkfestival50.com/
Also, it is great to make a plan. Making a plan can bring you up, help you transcend, give you something to look forward to. It can be a big plan that requires concert tix or moving or changing a job, or it can be a small plan like finding the latest Michael Crichton book at the local library or planning a walk when the weather breaks.

The important thing about a plan is that it makes you happy, doesn't break the bank, and is healthful for you. It should be thoughtful and definitely not detrimental to your wellbeing.

Good luck with your plan!