Category Archives: Inspirational

Royal Wedding

She would be so proud.

I wished throughout the entire regal wedding ceremony that Diana could have been there. It was hard not to think about her while watching her two handsome sons do her proud.

Kate was beautiful as she made her entrance and walked down the aisle. One can only hope that she and Prince William will enjoy many happy years together.

Diana, you did a fabulous job making your sons approachable, yet dignified and dedicated individuals. Your legacy lives on.

10 Women I Like — A Lot

As with my list of men, I won’t be listing any American presidents–oops, we haven’t had any female presidents–no American politicians, or religious leaders. This is a random list, no ranking intended.

  1. Eleanor Roosevelt – Human Rights were her passion. She fought for the youth of America, for the poor, for black Americans and for women at home and abroad. She was a suffragette. (Yeah, Eleanor!) Her accomplishments are too vast to enumerate.
  2. Audrey Hepburn – For me she will always be My Fair Lady, but her glowing achievement was working as UNICEF’s Ambassador. She traveled the world, gave countless interviews and appeared before Congress, working tirelessly to make children’s lives better.
  3. Gloria Steinem – Where would women be today without Gloria and Bella Abzug?
  4. Lena Horne – I think she was probably born 50 years too soon for Hollywood.  But in spite of some really Stormy Weather, she clung to her star status throughout her life. Her sultry voice caressed. Her music should be cherished.
  5. Margaret Thatcher – Britain’s first female Prime Minister. History will decide her successes and failures. All the same, I loved listening to her speak.
  6. Jackie Kennedy – She entered my life as the wife of a president and she enchanted me for the rest of her life.
  7. Ginger Rogers – For the many hours I spent at the movies and in front of the TV watching her dance effortlessly across the screen with Fred Astaire.
  8. Pauly Perrette – Plays Abby on NCIS. This seems like an unlikely choice, but what many don’t know about Pauley is she uses her celebrity to help children, animals and the homeless. She is active in so many foundations, it would make your head spin.
  9. Rosa Parks – Where does this type of courage come from?
  10. Sandra Day O’Conner – First female member of the Supreme Court. She was a ground-breaker from the minute she graduated from law school.

Ain’t women grand?

10 Men I Like — A Lot

I haven’t listed any American presidents, politicians or religious leaders. That’s an entirely different list. My list is random. Although the names are numbered, no ranking is intended.

  1. Prince William – He has done his mother proud.
  2. Anwar Sadat – His death was a tragic loss to his country.
  3. Joseph, Chief of the Nez Perce tribe – His ill-fated retreat of more than 1,000 miles from federal troops is legendary.
  4. Martin Luther King – He had a dream. We’re still working at it.
  5. George Carlin – He’s probably my all-time favorite comedian.
  6. Paul Newman – A good man.
  7. Danny Thomas – He was much more than met the eye. Visit the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis to see what I mean.
  8. John J. Audubon – I’m a birder, so Audubon makes my list. He spent 50 years painting and describing the birds of America.
  9. Norman Rockwell – He shared the spirit of America through his paintings. I grew up enjoying his artistry on the covers of The Saturday Evening Post.
  10. Thomas Edison – Every time there is a power outage, I wonder what people did before the light bulb.

These are the first ten names that popped into my mind. I probably missed a few of your favorites.

Happiness Or Unhappiness?

One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside people’s heads.  He said, “My son, the battle is between the two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all.  One is Unhappiness. It is fear, worry, anger, jealousy, sorrow, self-pity, resentment and inferiority.  The other is Happiness. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, kindness, generosity, truth and compassion.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Someone sent this story to me months ago. I liked it so much, I thought I would share.

View From My Balcony

It’s important to get rid of your mental noise once in a while, and you don’t need a balcony or a pier to do that. We’re all so busy, it’s hard to remember to take time out for quiet. Fortunately, it takes very little forethought to take an adult “time out.” For instance, try this some Saturday morning. The moment that you wake, but before you open your eyes, roll onto your back. Imagine yourself in your “happy place.” (You have one, don’t you?)

My serene spot is always by water. Maybe yours is in the mountains, or remembering sitting on your grandma’s lap with her arms wrapped around you. Whatever, or wherever–allow your imagination to drift away. Stay there for ten full minutes. What do you hear? Nothing, if you train yourself to do it right. This is where I go.


Don’t be afraid to daydream sometimes, either. Release the stress. Some people do that by writing a poem. This Daydream Haiku was written by Brigitte

The forest daydream,
Wherein I pick blackberries,
And find inner peace.

… inspired by daydreaming with a friend about moving to the mountains

DAME, too, suggests slowing it down a bit when things get too crazy.

…’today’ I’m a tad stressed. Generally I’m a go with the flow kinda girl but today the next few months seem positively overwhelming. Somehow just daydreaming about trouncing about in wool and bloomers carrying a feed bag, picking the flowers, baking the pie, and listening to the wind in the trees, is enough to catch a little mental relaxation.

No matter what you call it: time out, daydreaming, or mental relaxation–we all need it.

Happiness Is A Walk In The Rain – Spontaneity


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Last Saturday afternoon, as I was getting ready to walk home from my friend Bev’s house, the clouds shuddered and an unexpected shower of rain began pelting the windows. It sounded good to me. It sounded like bad timing to Bev.

Her immediate thoughts were: maybe I should wait until the rain stopped or slowed down, or I should, at least, borrow an umbrella, or…

But I was thinking, I couldn’t remember the last time I walked in the rain. So, I pooh, poohed the offer of an umbrella and ventured outside. It was a hot day. The rain felt cool. I noticed steam rising from the ground, as the earth drank its full. Huge drops of rain cascaded down from my head. There was no lightning, no thunder–a perfect day for a stroll. I looked up at the sky as I walked and drops of water splattered onto my face. By the time, I reached my front door, I was soaked to the skin. I stepped inside and dropped my clothes.

Spontaneity had surprised me and gifted me with a glorious, divine, magnificent interlude!

From the news stan(d)

Someone’s said that “spontaneity is the quality of being able to do something just because you feel like it at the moment, of trusting your instincts, of taking yourself by surprise…

You don’t think about being spontaneous, you just do it. It comes from within you to do what you like, how you like it and when you want it. It just happens – unplanned, unstructured and best of all, unexpected but still within your power to shape it.

The Cook Family seems to know how to be spontaneous.

The other day Dan got home from work just in time to catch the sun going down . The second he came through the door he said, “grab a blanket, we’re going on the roof.”

This idea tickled me – Manufactured Spontaneity

At Flax, the art supply store, you can buy a notebook with napkins instead of pages. Because so many great ideas started on a napkin. So. You should be ready with some napkins.

Spontaneity–it comes in all sizes.

What about you? Spontaneous or Well Planned Agenda?

Laughter, Laugh, Laughing, Giggle

Darn it…I missed Belly Laugh Day on January 24th. I bet you did, too. What a pity, because researchers are finding more and more evidence that laughter contains some pretty awesome benefits for our bodies and minds.

There’s a lot of research to prove the claims, but really now, haven’t you always known that laughing makes you feel good? Giggling is at the top of my list of things that overwhelm me with happiness. Making other people laugh and giggle comes in as a close second. Two people laughing is better than one. Three people laughing is a virtual party.

But if you’re intent on knowing “scientifically” why laughter is good for you, here are a few good sources.

University of Maryland School of Medicine

Using laughter-provoking movies to gauge the effect of emotions on cardiovascular health, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown for the first time that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. Laughter appears to cause the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow.

And just the anticipation of laughter is good for you.

National Post

The simple anticipation of “mirthful laughter” such as watching a comedy on television is enough to increase levels of health-protecting hormones in the body and decrease levels of potentially harmful stress-related hormones, research shows.

So the bottom line–laughter is a good thing. It’s a great stress reliever, even Abraham Lincoln recognized that.

With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die. ~Abraham Lincoln

Keltic Dreams, Corned Beef & Cabbage, And How To Catch A Leprechaun

Every year, when St. Patrick’s Day approaches, I think about cooking up some corned beef and cabbage. Nine times out of ten, I pull out a big pot and spend the rest of the day smelling the aroma of Ireland. The dish is easy to make, but oh so time-consuming.

I think what really put me in the mood this year was an email I received this past week about the popularity of Irish Dance at a school in the Bronx. The New York Times wrote about the music teacher and posted one of the most heartwarming videos I’ve seen in a long, long time. I’m so used to seeing bad news that the sight of these inner city kids kicking up their heels gave me goose bumps, it really did. Go here to see the video — Keltic Dreams.

Did you know that New York City has been hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Parade since 1762? Is that unbelievable, or what?! Incidentally, Patrick didn’t chase all of the snakes out of Ireland, either. Another myth totally shattered according to the National Geographic News.

And I suppose it wouldn’t be a proper St. Patrick’s Day without the mention of Leprechauns. I had no idea that if you catch a Leprechaun, he’ll lead you to his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but according to Sherri Osburn, that’s the case. So, it might be a good idea to get crackin’ on making a Leprechaun Trap. (A really good project to do with the grandkids.) Take a look at some Leprechaun Trap Photos.

Now for an easy recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage, but be prepared to hang around the house for several hours.


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Corned Beef
5 or 6 potatoes, quartered
head of cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
carrots, as many as you would like.

Wash corned beef under running water to remove surface brine. Put in pot and cover with water. (Most corned beef roasts bought from a supermarket come with all the seasonings enclosed. Add them to the water.) Keep lid on pot. Once water comes to a boil, cook for 3 1/2 hours on low/medium heat.

During the last 30/45 minutes, add cabbage wedges, potatoes and carrots. Add more water to cover. Keep lid on pot throughout.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

First The Soapbox, Then Mom’s Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

Okay, I’m on my soapbox again, encouraging you to write something this week about yourself. If you do, I can almost guarantee one of your children or your grandchildren will thank you someday. You are living in their “good old days.”

I can’t tell you how many times I could kick myself for not asking my mother more questions about her life. Now it’s too late. The only things I have of hers, in her own handwriting, are a few recipes she gave me over the years. At least when I see her handwriting on the page, it helps me to remember other small things about her. I’m going to share one of her recipes with you at the end of this post.

But to get back to journaling, there’s so much to write about. Some suggestions:

  • any kind of travel would be good
  • all of your favorite recipes
  • right now, the campaign for the presidency furnishes a bushel full of options
  • what television shows won’t you miss
  • what movie did you see recently that you absolutely loved
  • if you are reading a book, try writing your own review

And remember, there’s no rule against being humorous. You can go in any direction, it’s your show. Someone mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she started writing stuff down occasionally and she does it in letter form, as if she is actually writing a letter to someone.

Or maybe something happens in the course of a normal day that seems worthy of preserving as a memory. Here’s one from Ireland.

I was driving home yesterday amidst a flood caused by a thaw of snow. We came to a big enough pool of water that stretch the entire width of the road. We watched as the car ahead of us passed safely through the water and then to my surprise the car stopped and waited. The driver waited to make sure we passed through the water safely.

Short, sweet and cute. That’s all it takes.

If you go somewhere…anywhere, write about it. Here’s a very short travelogue and a chuckle from Walking Around. She just returned from a trip to Wales.

So there you have it, one of my pep talks to get you writing and saving your memories. Now to the promised recipe from my mother.

Italian Wedding Soup

3 heads of escarole (found in the produce dept.)
1 lb. ground beef
2 eggs, scrambled
Chicken Broth, either homemade or 2 large cans Chicken Broth (my mother used College Inn)

First roll the ground beef into tiny balls about the size of your thumb nail. Set aside.

Wash the escarole leaf by leaf in a sink filled with cool water. Place leaves on a clean dish towel. There will be loads and loads of leafy greens, but they will shrink down when you drop them into a large pot of boiling water. Keep turning the escarole with a long wooden spoon until all of the greens have been submerged in the water. Cook until tender–about 20 to 25 minutes. To cool–transfer the entire pot to the sink and run cold water into it until the escarole is comfortable to handle. To remove most of the water from the escarole, squeeze the greens into fist-size balls. Cut through each ball, using a cutting board, about 6 times, slicing in two or three different directions.

Rinse out the same pot you used to cook down the escarole, and pour in the chicken broth. Most of the work is now done. Just drop the escarole and all of the tiny meatballs into the hot chicken broth. Cook on medium heat for about an hour.

Now for the scrambled eggs. Make sure the broth is boiling, then pour the eggs onto the surface of the soup. Use a tablespoon to swirl the egg around gently on the surface, creating little bits of cooked eggs. (This is reminiscent of confetti at a wedding–hence the name.) Once the eggs are cooked, the soup is ready to serve.

Optional: Some people like to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of their soup, so make sure you have that on the table for those with that preference.

Enjoy.  And if you have a recipe from your mother that you’d like to share, feel free to send it as a comment.

“Bucket List” “Done That List” “No Guts List”


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Recently, I’ve seen coming attractions on TV about a new movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called The Bucket List. From the few snipets I’ve caught, it appears their list contains things they’ve both dreamt about doing before they kick the bucket.

I have a list like that, too, although I never thought to name mine the bucket list. And happily, my list spawned a Done That List. Some things on my “done” list include:

See Paris (a lifelong dream)
Ride in a helicopter
Go parasailing
Snow Ski
Ride a motorcycle, not just any cycle, a “Harley”
Learn how to blog, even when I thought I was “too old” to learn

Then there’s my tattoo. I sport a tiny bluebird of happiness on the inside of one of my ankles. I love birds.

So, I’ve fulfilled some of my dreams, but there are still plenty of challenges left on my Bucket List. Here are a few:

Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
Find out if I really can’t sink in the Salt Lake
Publish a Book
See Redwood Trees-This item, at first glance, might seem somewhat plebian. The fact is, these trees are disappearing quickly, and some people are pretty passionate about keeping them around.

What’s Your Tree is a program inspired by the story and message of Julia Butterfly Hill.

Julia Butterfly Hill gained international notoriety when she climbed 200 feet up into an ancient redwood tree named Luna that was slated to be cut down by Pacific Lumber/Maxaam Corporation. She refused to come down until Luna was permanently protected. Withstanding death threats and gale force El Nino winds, Julia lived on a tiny platform in Luna’s branches for 738 days. Julia and her team had successfully negotiated to save Luna and a 3 acre buffer zone around the tree into perpetuity.
(see the rest of the story)

Learn to Paint (don’t have to be good, just have to try)
Hang Glide (parasailing was wonderful, so hang gliding must be spectacular)
See Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument

The No Guts List – I have one of them, too. These are things I know I could never muster up the courage to do:

Sky Diving
High Diving
Scuba Diving
Bungee Jumping

Bungee Jump in Normandy, France (Souleuvre Viaduct)

Bungee jumping in Normandy, France in Viaduc de la Souleuvre.

Can you even imagine doing this?