Monday, May 24, 2010

One lone red poppy

I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. Albert Einstein

I just put the kids to bed and decided to take a walk before washing a sink full of the day's dishes. In a large field in front of our house I spotted one lone brilliant red poppy in bloom.
It is the sole survivor of poppies planted a few years ago. My family spent a whole day scattering red poppy seeds from our metal buckets. We enjoyed an unforgettable summer of blooming red poppies in that field. It was like a dreamy Monet painting.

Unfortunately, our harsh Midwest summers are unlike the south of France. Our field of poppies did not thrive, they wilted under the blazing August sun. I consider this poppy a small gift and inspiration. It is a lone survivor of its kind among native wildflowers and raging weeds. It is blooming where it was planted and so beautiful in its strikingly unique way.
Shine your light,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blue Zones and the fountain of youth

Foutain of youth: Red wine, walking, friends, fish, nuts, and veggies? Sounds good to me!

I saw Dr. Oz on Oprah talking about Blue Zones which are places that people are happiest and healthiest on this earth. I also picked up the book Blue Zones by Dan Buetner and was intrigued on what made people most happy and healthy.

Here is the website where you can get a username and take a free and quick quiz called The Vitality Compass.

Author Dan Buettner writes, In my book, The Blue Zones, I reveal the secrets of the Power9: the nine common denominators that all of the world’s longevity all-stars share. Here at, we've organized these behaviors into four main categories:

Move Naturally – Make your home, community and workplace present you with natural ways to move. Focus on activities you love, like gardening, walking and playing with your family.

Right Outlook – Know and be able to articulate your sense of purpose, and ensure your day is punctuated with periods of calm.

Eat Wisely – Instead of groping from fad diet to fad diets, use time-honored strategies for eating 20% less at meals. Avoid meat and processed food and drink a couple of glasses of wine daily.

Belong to the Right Tribe – Surround yourself with the right people, make the effort to connect or reconnect with your religion and put loved ones first.

This may all sound too simple, but the payoff is huge. The average American could live up to 14 more good years by putting these habits to work.

Get Started Right Now
To help you model your habits after the Blue Zones centenarians, we’ve created several tools, beginning with Vitality Compass

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On Being a Mom

Happy Mother's Day, friends. It is my true joy to share this journey of motherhood with you: by my side at the ball games, sharing recipes and photos of our kids via e-mail, stressing over a school project, worrying about so much, and laughing and sharing the many wonderful day to day moments when our kids are happy and smiling. I am truly blessed to know so many devoted and inspiring mothers.
Below is an article by Anna Quindlen - a great writer and another inspiring mom.

On Being A Mom
by Anna Quindlen
All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to
mouth all by themselves.

Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with "Goodnight Moon" and "Where the Wild Things Are," they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a
timeout. One boy is toilet trained at 3, his brother at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden
infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.

I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language - mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her
geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I
include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.