Where’d My Mojo Go?

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Where’s it gone? Where’s my fire? Waiting around for a lightning bolt of inspiration is not the answer, so this morning I sit rubbing my mental sticks together hoping for at least a spark, maybe enough to ignite a long-burning flame. I know what it takes – I’ve done it. For years I had disciplined practices for yoga, for writing, meditation. Had. I have no idea what happened. It’s been awhile and have no excuses, no good reason.

I churned out a complete manuscript while Molly was still living at home. I made her breakfast, her lunch and took her to school each morning just after 7. I did all this and still managed to write – as if in a trance, for an hour. I did that. I marvel now. Now, I go to work at 8 – giving me almost another hour and my daughter’s away at college so time is all mine. Plus, I have my own little room to write in. There’s no reason I couldn’t get in a few yoga stretches and a page or two.

Instead, I sleep a little later and when I do get up, I dawdle away my precious daybreak reading other people’s blogs or worse, scrolling through Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. Really. I admit this shamefully. Instead of doing what I know makes me feel centered and purposeful and healthy – writing, yoga, meditating – I aimlessly fritter away my time with mental junk food.

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Why is it so hard for me to get back into that magic zone? I know I’ll be happier, so why don’t I just do it? I have piles of books to inspire and guide me. In the dark moments before falling asleep at night and rising in the morning, I sometimes mentally write a post, start an essay, another book – and poof! – by the time I get back here to this chair, it’s gone. I know the trick about scribbling notes. Trust me, I have plenty of scribbles. But I’ve still got to put my ass in the seat and lay down the words, take my spot on the mat and stretch out my achy hips. And I’ll feel better.

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It takes regularly sitting, breathing, focus, writing, breathing. Writing becomes like a meditation only my fingers move. And don’t, don’t move away from this screen, this lovely clear, empty, distraction free space. No emails, no news – that’s the end. That’s what sucks away the morning, leaving me no richer, providing no sustenance.

It’s discipline – practice. Life feels much better when I have a practice in place. I carry the focus, the story, the posture with me throughout the day — a rich, quiet center that feels like the true me. I move through the day carrying whatever story I’m telling, with a sense of my body moving, standing tall, stretching, breathing, being in the world — not just within the parameters of my working hours, ringing sales at the cash register or staring at computer screens to answer emails — but a rich interior life I get to carry with me. The life that doesn’t pay my mortgage but sustains me just as much.

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That’s what I want back – that sense of who I really am in the world. That’s why I write, stretch, sit, breathe – a way of being that gives me joy. It has to do with seeing more than what is apparent – that which is only visible if you pay attention both inwardly and out. When I have a practice in place, I feel an incredible awareness of time and space with every breath. How delicious breathing becomes!

I know this — so why have I slipped? Why is it so hard for me to get back in the groove? Now it’s colder and darker in the mornings – even more of a challenge to crawl out from between the sheets. But that’s just another excuse. I have no good answer for losing myself like this.

I feel like I’ve come clean here, confessing to you – and it feels good. Having spent many years reaping the benefits of the AlAnon rooms, I know the power of ‘admitting’ and I suspect, I’m not alone. Any one else with ‘mojo’ problems out there?

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Conjuring Mothballs

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I prefer ushering summer in, more than I do out.  Packing away shorts, and cotton shirts is a melancholy activity – unlike the joy of pulling all these garments out after a long winter. It seems I wore only half of my summer dresses this cooler-than-usual summer, and now I am folding them up for another year.  From the basement, I haul up the heavier load of winter clothing – darker tones and heavier weaves.

I learned this ritual of switching my wardrobe, from my mother. I remember the smell of mothballs permeating our apartment as she pulled out our stored clothing from the massive suitcases wedged into the top of the coat-closet. I laugh thinking about oh! my dread of my older sister’s hand-me-downs and how now, she and I relish each other’s rejects.

I survey each piece of clothing: to keep or not. This is a good time to purge the barely worn frock with the velvet bits. And certainly the linen pants I’ve been hanging onto with the illusion my waist line will ever be that size again. Times up on that one! I pile my has-beens on the bed, trying to embrace advice from the anti-hoarder experts — something like if you haven’t worn it X amount of time in the last season, it’s time to let it go.

Although I took a good load to Goodwill today, it should really have been bigger. I still cannot part with my faded cotton bathrobe – now ripping in places. It would be a good rag, or if I were crafty, maybe I could turn pieces into a quilt. But I’m not, so it gets packed away so next year, I can find it again and remember when my husband brought it to me, then lovely crisp and too-expensive, the day after I landed in the hospital on a sweltering June in Italy when I delivered Molly 2 months early. That was 19 years ago and I still can’t part with this now tattered robe.

There’s also a very pretty dress, although not really me, that I wore to N’s memorial service.  He’d bought it for me one day for no reason I knew of, about a year earlier. I’d barely worn it even then, because it’s a little too dressy and not the nicest fabric – but I can’t get rid of it. I like to think of him shopping for me, looking for something that I might like, that would suit me. He liked to shop and had expensive taste he indulged, even when he had no money and that was most of our marriage. But, I imagine him lovingly thinking about me — not trying to make up to me or distract me from maybe being coked up.

Anyway, I focused on him that day at the Unitarian Church – remembering him and his life and death on another day in June. It was the first day since his suicide a month earlier, that I was able to move past my fury and shock and begin to think of him with love and to mourn him.

The hoarders would have me get rid of it perhaps, because all summer this dress has hung in my closet unworn. But instead, I’ve packed it away for another year.

The closet and drawers are emptier. I’ve yet to unpack any sweaters, the wooly socks, the corduroy pants. Not yet. It’s still warm enough and for now, I enjoy the space that lies between.

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Vertigo: Slow Down You Move Too Fast

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My default speed out in the world is FAST. Customers marvel at how quickly I answer their emails and process quotes and orders. Out on the book floor, I’m zippy at the cash register and wrap gifts in a flash. If I perceive a customer is not inclined or able to trot after me, I offer to retrieve what they need while they wait. I walk at a clipped pace through the store and sometimes lose customers who have tried to follow me. I’ll apologize saying I’m a New Yorker and still walk like one.

When things get busy, I may get annoyed by colleagues who don’t seem to know how to move more quickly and cut their conversations short. As if they are tourists from Boise and lumbering down 42nd Street, I want them to step up the pace. But the fact is, some of them are our best salespeople, engaging customers, taking their time as if that person is the only one. They do not rush through their transactions, they make contact.

When I get home after work, I try to slow down. I attempt to recover myself. Not my high functioning, efficient employee, A-type personality, self — rather, the self I aspire to become all the time. I get better practice on the weekends – taking my time, doing my best to pay attention to each moment, to the world around and within me.

Last week, a bout of vertigo required I shift gears. In the wee hours of the morning I turned in bed and felt something in my head become unhinged, a weird little shifting in my ears. The world began to spin from my pillow. By morning this sensation had passed enough so I was able to get up and go to work but I’ve yet to completely shake a slight vertigo. I have had to slow down. Rather than barreling on at my usual breakneck speed, I’ve been moving more consciously, carefully stepping through the day, lest I start the spinning again. I feel as if I’m carefully balancing something inside of me.

And I am: life. I am balancing my life. And what’s the rush? Where do I hope to get to? I am here now and if you are here with me too, for whatever our transaction or pleasure, I will try and be completely present. I have to because otherwise I may spiral off. Don’t worry, I will still answer my emails efficiently, I’ll just walk a little slower through the book stacks. Along the way, I may recommend my favorite reads and learn what yours are. I will remember, as I keep my head steady and avoid jerky movements, that our time together, like the end of the day, will come fast enough without me rushing towards it.

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Another Season

Perhaps it’s these first whispers of autumn: the dying garden, changing leaves, cooler nights, but this last weekend of summer has me pondering the passage of time. Another summer is gone in a finite number of seasons any of us get.

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I’m contemplating aging here, not bemoaning it. Even as I note the passing years, I confess that I feel pretty much like the same person I’ve always been. A wee bit wiser and certainly more content but otherwise, the same gal I was at say – 18?

When I look down at myself from inside of me, I don’t think I even look all that different because I see the same casual hippie wardrobe: jeans, sweatshirts and practical mostly ugly shoes. I’m a little larger, but not by much. Ha! I’m not seeing my mirror-self, I’m looking down at me sitting in this chair. It helps not to spend more than 5 minutes a day in front of a mirror — you can ignore the decades. In the morning, I spend seconds scrawling eyeliner on so I look less like a naked baby mole. While brushing my teeth, hair or washing hands, I may search my face for flaws that might be another squamous or basal spot I’ll need to get sliced off. While dressing, I give myself a quick glance to check my clothes are not too wrinkled and that my buttons are in the right buttonholes. But that’s about it.

So I easily forget that I’m sagging a bit around the jowls and my hair is silvery. I’ve never been particularly vain and am certainly much less now. Perhaps I’d enjoy being more of a looker than I am – but I don’t miss the catcalls from my youth. I don’t mind that I’ve become ‘invisible’ to jerks. To everything, a season after all and that one, perhaps the least interesting, has passed. Most importantly, my bones don’t ache much and I’m healthy. So far so good.

Here’s one of things I cherish most about where I am in my life: how interesting it is to be inside of me. My internal life. How fascinating the inside us humans are with our minds, our hearts, our spirit – what mystery! I love being able to reflect on the whole crazy history of me so far. The 15 year old girl who couldn’t wait to escape home, the traveler, the artist, the searcher, the worker, the reader, the gardener, the friend, lover, the mother. All of my incredible years are here in the present with me, right now and still more story to live.

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On this other side of 50 where I am today, I don’t grieve my lost looks or mistakes (ah), I think mostly about the possibility of not having enough time. I start to feel greedy. There are no guarantees on the time front. Beloved Tetley is getting old in dog years and every day with him feels like a gift. I look at R and feel grateful we got to flash forward from our youthful passion and lost years and found each other again. There are moments when it seems no time has passed at all –  the same only better.  I imagine the life ahead of my sweet daughter and want to be there too.

None of us know how many days we get, do we? Not really. As another season passes, I look a little longer in the mirror and remind myself to savor today, to hope for tomorrow and to love.

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Early Mothering Skills and How I Learned Them: Praise for Italian Nurses

In the corner of the store, an obviously distraught mother sat with her wailing newborn yelling into a phone and awkwardly cradling her screaming baby. She might have been easy to dismiss as a crazy person – unless you were ever a new mother. Then, you’ll recognize those challenging early days.

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Molly was born 7 weeks early so we were not even in the right country – except, in my opinion, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ about Italy. Especially when it comes to babies. Even a scary looking thug is a natural baby expert and likely to coo over yours. The nurses at the hospital sang to our children and encouraged us moms to stay, kiss and cuddle our babies and – to nurse.  I’d just been working with UNICEF in Croatia and knew the importance of mother’s milk and the Italian nurses at Brindisi hospital never suggested any other option to me. They adjusted our babies and breasts as we attempted to nurse. While still in the hospital, we were mostly unsuccessful, our premies unable to adequately suck enough milk from our breasts. Eventually, bottles of our breast milk were brought out and feeling slightly defeated, we bottle-fed. Then we’d return to the hot and steamy mother’s room to pump away, filling bottles for the next session. Fresh mozzarella and pasta dished into big bowls from an enormous pot, sustained us. Not one baby formula sign anywhere. With this support, Molly was an only-breastfed baby.

Giving birth almost 2 months early and ending up in a Neonatology ward in Southern Italy felt an ordeal, but in retrospect I recognize those 3 weeks provided me with skills I needed to take care of my baby. I learned to hold the little mite, how to read her signals and most of all, how to trust myself. With no family or friends and not speaking the language, I relied on my instinct, books and what the Italian nurses taught me during those unexpected weeks in the hospital. I credit them with saving me from becoming a screaming mother in public places like this poor woman in the bookstore.

I approached the new mom and asked if I could help. She told me she couldn’t drive while the baby was crying and the problem was (she thought), the baby’s nose was stuffed. She swabbed at the tiny nostrils and the little thing screamed louder. The mom then reached for a half-full bottle and told me she was also concerned that the baby had not finished it. Even 2 decades later, my mother-muscle-memory kicked into gear. Channeling the loving Italian nurses, I suggested she not worry about trying to force milk down the baby – her infant knows what she needs – besides, the kid was clearly exhausted. I remembered the nurses shifting Molly in my arms so gravity could do the job when she had a stuffed nose. I suggested she hold her 5 week old daughter upright on her shoulder so her head was not tilting backward. She did and the baby quieted, collapsing in sleep.

The Doctors who saved Molly's life.

The Doctors who saved Molly’s life.

I walked away thinking — who is around to help this obviously struggling mom? Doulas, a great support for new mothers, standard in England and many other countries, are expensive here and not a service routinely provided as it should be. Mother and baby are ushered out of the hospital within only a day or so of giving birth. What if there is no supportive family waiting for you? Without the doctors and nurses of Brindisi hospital, I would have been up shit’s creek — obviously how this woman felt. My Italian stinks and the nurses spoke no English, but I recall no language barrier. Their love transcended all and of that, they had plenty. Oh, by the way, our hospital bill for 3 weeks of intensive, loving care? Niente. That’s right, Italy’s healthcare system is socialized and I was charged nothing.

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My Weeds Feed You

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I admit that sometimes I get yard-envy. Yesterday, when I took Tetley on the long route around the neighborhood – the 30 minute vs the 10 minute walk – I did admire the beautifully mulched flower beds, plantings spaced apart, manicured, lush lawns of my neighbors. Some gardens had tasteful garden ornaments, charming benches and looked magazine cover ready. Yikes, I thought, what must they think when passing our little corner plot full of wood piled for the winter, patchy grass and weeds? Luckily, we have a (currently pruned) hedge hiding most of our mess from nosey dog walkers like me.

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We can’t blame the weather for our lack of yard maintenance – days have been cool and rain-free – perfect conditions to pull weeds. Nope. Nor can I blame our resident groundhog.  Since I surrendered to him, the big vegetable garden is one less demand. Mint and pokeweed now run wild where I once planted tomatoes, peppers and other delectable treats enjoyed mostly by groundhog. We plan to clear and reclaim that sunny spot from bastard and plant some peach and apple trees but for now, it’s a wild mess. The bees love it.

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Bees are buzzing all over the place. Poor Tetley discovered a hive when exploring a corner of our front porch, dashing off with his tail between his legs. Our noses pressed against the screen door, we watched them swarm around defensively for the next 5 minutes or so. We had no idea they were there until now and we will leave them be, not wanting to add to the world’s bee crisis in any way. I’m sure you’ve heard how bees are disappearing at an alarming rate? And without bees to pollinate the plants we eat, well, we’re screwed.

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A few months ago I was lucky enough to join a Red Bee Honey tasting with bee expert and author of the Honey Connoisseur, Marina Marchese in her own charmingly overgrown garden with apiary. We spent a perfect afternoon sampling distinctive, exquisite honey, paired with savory and sweet bites. Not surprisingly, the tasting lingo mirrors that used to describe wines — another nectar we would not have without bees. Marina’s hives are surrounded by invasive weeds the rest of us hack away. My delicious afternoon certainly inspired this year’s laissez-fare attitude to the garden. I have tasted the riches my weeds can produce.

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Marina got me hooked on her honey and only buying it from local producers. Last week, Molly and I sought out a jar with honey-comb, harvested close to her college in the hopes of easing her allergies. Though she is not a fan (!?) of the taste, after swallowing a spoonful every morning and chewing the waxy comb, she reports she is suffering much less. Better than Zyrtec!

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This summer, while many of my neighbors were weeding, and (gasp!) putting chemicals on their lawns, I blissfully read surrounded by weeds, birds and bees. Today, I may mow our patchy lawn and pick a few Sunflowers but that’s about it. If you walk by my messy yard, please don’t judge – the bees love us and you should too.

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If Only…

The beach was almost deserted on this spectacular Saturday morning. The tide more out than in – no lapping waves. Only an occasional gull broke the quiet. I joined a yoga class on the sand, stretching, inhaling the beauty of the spot, savoring the gentle breezes, the coolness of the morning air, the sun’s warmth - life. Focused on breathing, the poses, then resting on my back, sand running through my fingers, I relaxed into a dreamy joy.  And then, I remembered AW’s death. She will never feel a beach breeze again. Every moment since hearing this news on Monday, there’s been a hovering dark cloud on the sunniest of days.

But she was not my daughter.  For me, the pain will ease, the sad fog will lift within weeks, becoming a terrible memory. Not so for her family. How long will it take for them to feel any kind of sustained joy again? My heart breaks for them.

Protecting our children is any healthy parent’s strongest impulse, in some ways, our very reason for being. The cliches: ‘we’re only as happy as our unhappiest child’, ‘they cut, we bleed’ — are all true. The thought of losing a child a worst nightmare. I am afraid to even imagine the pain.

A blogger who writes movingly about depression (here) noted about Robin Williams, “He died at the age of 63 after a lifetime of depression… his age was testament to his tenacity.” This beautiful line comforted me the other day, even 10 years later, thinking my husband made it to 48 with all his anguish – that was something. And, it guts me to think of AW only 25 years for her.

We no longer can be delighted by her goofy, infectious laugh.  Did she not know how we loved her and basked in the warmth of her kindness, her disarmingly clear and beautiful gaze? When we worked together, my impulse was to protect her. Sometimes I found myself warding off the men who might mistake her universal kindness as interest. She seemed so vulnerable.

Suicide strikes a chord for any of us who have experienced loss in this terrible way – like a gong – triggering memories, feelings. But the reverberating toll of this has cut me close, this sweet girl’s death. We were not much more than work friends — but of course all of us felt more so because AW did not do superficial. Even knowing better, I engaged in magical thinking — that I might have been able to do something. If only. Just the week before, I’d almost sent her a text – wanting to introduce her to my friend’s daughter — going so far as pulling up our last texts from more than a year ago – to continue a conversation, make contact again. And then, did not. In my mind she was well settled into a life she’d worked so hard to create for herself. Succeeding. I didn’t know.

Robin William’s death, like other beloved celebrities before him, brings suicide out of the shadows, if only for awhile, and this spotlight is welcome. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention runs walks around the country – Out of the Darkness Walks where the community can come together to comfort each other and raise money for the cause. While we will never end suicide but we must try to save lives – even one. How I wish that it could have been AW’s.

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Still in Recovery

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Remember winter? My Hydrangea do – and remind me constantly of what a long, bitter one we endured. A few years ago I decided Hydrangea, would be my fool-proof shrub — blues and pink blossoms lasting well into autumn, stunning even as they fade to a papery brown. They are tough, even after shriveling a bit from thirst, reviving beautifully after watering. Every year my bushes produce bowl-sized blooms that are the center piece of the flower bouquets I cut for the mantelpiece – lasting long past when the Gladiolas and Black-eyed Susan are spent. Not this year. Look!

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Not a bloom in sight. No, I didn’t cut them back — I learned the hard way that flowers grow from old wood and am careful not to prune until well into Spring. Just like my sparse showing of Peonies, the Hydrangea blooms are a casualty of last Winter’s heavy snow and frigid temperatures. So much for fool-proof. There is no such thing, is there? We are all destined to be fooled, to sometimes be fools. This is life. My garden, currently neglected, always feels chock-full of metaphors.

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I mourn there are no Hydrangea blues to brighten the overgrown mess… I mean, otherwise lush bounty, of this year’s garden. There are times in life when there is nothing to do but let time pass and hope for better. I’ve done that before – by days, weeks, months, years. Things will improve. So far in my life, I have never lost that hope. And I’ve pushed myself to go beyond enduring, to always find something to sustain, nurture, perhaps inspire me, within the darkness of disappointment, heartbreak and loss.

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Of course at the height of any pain, I just want to get through it, for it to stop. Sometimes numb is all we can hope for. I marvel at this defense system us humans have – the way shock and pain can make everything slow down, launching a sense of not being entirely there, that nothing is real. This was my state of being after my husband’s death when I needed to carry on and take care of my daughter. I turned inward and slowed, moving through the world with a simultaneous heightened sensitivity yet detachment. Slowly, oh so slowly through more than one change of seasons, I allowed myself to actually feel my loss and grief — to feel anything. And now, I no longer take much of anything for granted.

I take the dearth of Hydrangea flowers in stride. After all, my beloved shrubs are alive – they are in a recovery mode I recognize. Next year, perhaps they will bloom. Meanwhile, remembering winter makes me better savor this remarkable summer.

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The Waves and Just Being

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I’ve spent my 2 recent vacations this summer, in a torpor. Nary a dust bunny disappeared, weeds continued unhindered around the garden and I barely wrote a word here or anywhere. I simply read and watched the birds. Of course all the while beating myself up for being unproductive since there is so much that needs doing and I rarely have enough time in my usual day-to-day to do it all.

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R rescued me from this cloud of guilt by sweeping me off to the beach for a few days. What’s there to do but watch and sometimes venture into waves? We spent hours with our toes in the sand, barely speaking a word, only smiling at each other between reading, dozing, people watching and dreaming. Bliss.

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Although I brought my computer with a vague notion I might wake early and write, I did not. I barely checked my time-sucking phone for tweets and updates I really didn’t need or want. Staring at the sea and the parade of tattoo covered skin (is there anyone left on the planet who doesn’t have ink?) for hours on end was a bit like getting my mental hard-drive cleaned, the constant roar of waves washing away everything. I read and read and read, bathing in the breezes, the waves, the sun. I did something I haven’t done for years: I had a short and very sweet actual vacation.

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I recently heard a radio interview on On Being with Social Psychologist Ellen Langer about mindfulness. When you have time, listen for some refreshing insight and inspiration. Langer speaks, in this great NY (I think) accent, about cultivating mindfulness in daily life through the simple act of just noticing things. This clicked with me since I seem to have a hard time maintaining a meditation routine for very long. Crazy these requirements I set up for myself of what I think I should be doing to get from A to B in my life. Do you do this? Are we crazy?

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As I ready to return to work tomorrow, the sound of the waves still echo and that is enough.

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Drink Your Veggies

I think about food and cooking a lot. But with so many incredible foodie bloggers out there, I lack the gumption to pipe-in, even though I’m a pretty good cook. Still, I love eating (of course), reading and talking about food and can’t resist sharing my new favorite kitchen thing with you.

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The Nutribullet. This wonderful gadget now commands prime kitchen counter real estate next to my kettle. Every morning I spend less than 5 minutes throwing a mix of veggies, fruit, nuts and liquid into one of these jars, blend for about 40 seconds and presto, I’ve got an incredible, nutrient rich drink to either down right away or bring to work for a lovely boost later. This morning’s concoction was relatively tame consisting of lettuce, kale, strawberries, banana and some chia seeds (yes, “chia pet” chia seeds) with almond milk.

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You can throw virtually anything in without chopping it to bits – just remove big pips and apple seeds. The super-duper version will chew it all right up and comes with a variety of jars for blending that also can be used to store or drink your potion. Also included is somewhat of a cheesy book: Nutribullet – Life Changing Recipes. Interspersed between recipes are testimonials from rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, cancer patients and of course a few about weight loss. At least some of these, along with the smiling geezer pictures, could have been sacrificed for an index – there is none. Wondering if there’s a smoothy for your rutabaga? The only option is to flip through all the recipes and smiling geezers again. For inspiring smoothie recipes that are certainly compatible with the ‘Bullet’, I picked up a copy of Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris who also has a great website.

Forget the blender and juicer — this is the gadget. No pulp clean up!

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These days, I need ways to use the bounty of vegetables in the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) I share with my friend Chris. Collard greens anyone? I’m a white girl from the Bronx who grew up on canned vegetables, so collards are new to me and a bit overwhelming. We eat bacon sparingly (although it is one of the most delicious things on the planet) and most collard recipes seem to call for cooking them in that yummy pork fat. Instead, I’ve been steaming the gigantic leaves, letting them cool and then substituting them for a wrap or tortilla. Lovely for a packed lunch. For me. No one else in the house will go for that. I haven’t Nutribullet-ed them yet — I’ll let you know. Might be just the ticket. And then there’s all the cabbage sitting in the crisper drawer … any ideas? (I already have some fermenting.)

CSAs are a great way to support local farms and get fresh, organic produce. Our’s – Stone Gardens Farm, drops off a box at Chris’s office (this week 2 boxes because there was so much) and we divvy up the goods that evening, preferably while drinking a glass of wine. Lots and lots of greens these past weeks, radishes and more radishes, summer squash, cucumbers – great in a smoothie – with avocado and apple and tumeric – refreshing! From May through October – sometimes even into November, the CSA supplies all my veggie needs allowing me to walk right through the produce section, pausing only to buy avocados.

Now your suggestions for collards and cabbage, please!

PS: I am delighted to report that collards make delicious smoothies. I made mine with banana, strawberries, a slice of lime, a few Lemon Balm leaves from the garden, a couple of ice cubes and used rice milk as my liquid. The collard is not at all overwhelming and I’ve already chewed up a few of my big fronds this way.

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