Tuesday, October 23, 2007


This weekend, at Piper's 5th birthday party, I started talking about scrapbooking. I overlooked the whole notion of scrapbooking in the beginning. I honestly don't know why. This summer, on a whim, I bought a scrapbook and some little stickers and pretty "things" that I thought would work well in an album of sorts. I have only recently started photographing and the only reason I started doing that was because I realized how often I am drawn to images I see on websites. I absolutely adore being given that small window into such a large life. It is amazing what you can capture in one image.

So I started taking pictures more regularly. It has gotten so bad that I literally have to have my camera with me at all times. Then the question came to me...what to do with all of these photos? That was when the scrapbook was purchased, more as just an album, a place to hold my pictures, than anything else. But what I am slowly realizing is that scrapbooking is a way to tell a story, to write about your life, to record every day events in an extraordinary way. It is inspiring. It is honest. It is authentic. It is beautiful.

Putting pictures and thoughts down on a piece of paper is a way to cherish those moments. It also has this amazing way of making you start to see "moments" all the time. It is so easy to get lost in the hectic nature of life, the craziness of work, bills, responsibilities, anger, frustration, sadness. Capturing the things you are grateful for, the things that make you happy and at peace with life, help blur the edges of the harshness of realities.

I think I am a lifelong convert to scrapbooking. It is really is The Art of Life.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


I have always known the importance of seasons. How can you appreciate the beauty and tranquility of a still summer day when you haven't endured the brittleness of winter? Yesterday, I sat on the beach and read Jen Lancaster's newest memoir, Bright Lights, Big Ass. This woman has a great voice for humor and the ability to find her own take on every detail of ordinary life. I drank a strawberry smoothie and just appreciated the stillness of the moment and the solidity of my space. I watched the children jumping in and out of the pool; dripping, tanned and energetic, as every child seems to share this same presence, especially in summer. This fluidity reminded me of my own childhood summer days. When I saw an old friend across the pool, I found myself giddy to talk to her. M and I had spent countless summer days diving beneath this very pool and riding the surf in the ocean. Our hair always tangled and salty and stiff from the torment. How wonderful it was to sit with her and feel as though we were right back where we left off? We could have been eight years old again, the conversations are different but the feelings and the emotions are the same. Her mother stopped by and I felt I should be asking for permission for a sleepover. I love how time changes everything and nothing. And here I am, 28 years old, jumping in the pool with a best friend.

Last night I took my dog, Gracie, for a walk. My new goal is to train her, to at least teach her to sit and stay. The air was marvellous and their was a slight breeze that cooled down the heat of the day. I thought about how wonderful it must be to have a screened in porch. If I had one, I would sit out there every night. I would drag a television, a table, my books out into my tiny outdoor world and I would live in it from the first warm night until the first winter chill. How wonderful it must be to experience the natural world without the peskiness of mosquitos and other bugs.

I think I need another sweet drink, a good book and some more time to experience this beautiful summer weather.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Are Your Friends Making You Fat?

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people were most likely to become obese if a friend has become obese. The study is upsetting many people in that it gives the idea that a person's weight will be dictated by the weight of their friends. Should we only have skinny friends? Is this just another way obese people will be discriminated against?

Having friends of all shapes and sizes is healthy, natural and should be encouraged. Each year millions of Americans are diagnosed with depression. Many seek out the assistance of antidepressant medication, but it is becoming increasingly common for people to look for non-pharmacologic help for fighting depression. Recent studies have found that exercising in groups in may be the most effective aid in fighting depression. This should be seen as an antidote to the possibly destructive side-effect of New England Journal of Medicine study.

Researcher James Blumenthal of Duke University completed a study that found that exercise, when performed in a group setting, seems to be as effective as standard antidepressant medications in reducing symptoms in patients with major depression. His study found that 10 months of regular, moderate exercise reduced depressive symptoms at a rate equal to that of medication. Exercise combined with contact with others -- friends, family, clubs and group activities -- can boost mood and help ease depression.

Dr. Nadia Marsh, an expert in treating depression and chief of the division of geriatrics at Cabrini Medical Center, in New York City said that people who exercise tend to feel that they have more control over their life. Because helplessness is a key ingredient in depression, anything that allows a person to regain a sense of control and balance can help alleviate the feelings of depression.

There are unlimited benefits of exercise, particularly in a group setting, in fighting depression. I think that people should focus on fighting obesity WITH their friends. As the saying goes, the more the merrier. Can't this be true in fighting the battle of the bulge as well?

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Happy Late Bird

Procrastinating is one of the worst things you can do, right? WRONG! Some of the most brilliant and productive people in the world are known procrastinators. Leonardo da Vinci was known as a renaissance man becuase of his ability to pursue multiple ideas and areas of inspiration. Historians have written that he was easily distracted and followed every burst of inspiration, whether or not it resulted in genius. Today he would be classified as a procrastinator, and thank goodness he was!

A Carleton University study found that nearly 70 percent of their student population said they procrastinate. But is this always as bad as it is portrayed in the media? Is there a way to harness our procrastinating into more positive and productive outlets? Can we define what areas of procrastination are helpful (creative outlets like writing, scrapbooking, etc.)?

The procrastinator is always aware of what areas he or she is avoiding. This means that goals are being set, if not always accomplished. Procrastinators are also able to compartmentalize. They know what areas are more or less important and they pursue that which they feel would be more fulfilling.

What are the benefits of procrastination? How can we procrastinate without guilt and will we ever understand why we procrastinate?

Something to think about...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Collective Joy

Barbara Ehrenrich wrote in her most recent work, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, "We are social beings, impelled almost instinctively to share our joy, and therefore able to envision, perhaps even create, a more peaceful future."

I would love to take the time to explore the theory of collective joy. There have been numerous studies that have found people are happier, more positive, more productive and more hopeful when part of a large group. During the holiday season, we face many group gatherings in a small period of time. Wouldn't it be wonderful to prove that people are happier in groups? This may even convince you to take part in all that the holiday's have to offer. Many people are discouraged by group gatherings, fearing they will be scrutinized, criticized or rejected. What they need to understand and appreciate is that the group setting can often give people a stronger sense of community, friendship, support and understanding, as well as happiness.

A few years ago, on the gorgeous island of the Bahamas, my family and I decided to venture over to the Atlantis Hotel for New Years Eve. I was fighting with my fiance, my two-year-old niece had just peed on me and I was feeling incredibly depressed. Suddenly the sound of distant drums beating piqued my interest. What happened next changed my understanding of human nature and our own emotional ability to be encouraged into a state of complete happiness. The Junkanoo street parade was travelling through the Atlantis hotel. People started to gather around, cheering on the dancing street performers in colorful and extravagent costumes. The celebratorial atmosphere, combined with the collective joy of the surrounding group, boosted my mood and caused me to recognize the happiness and excitement that was swirling all around me. It was a celebration of the holidays, of the New Year, of people united and of life. It was a declaration of the happiness of existence and the unexpected joys of life.

Hidden Treasures

Underground restaurants are becoming word-of-mouth hot spots.

No signs, no Zagat ratings and no codes to meet, underground restaurants are becoming modern day speakeasies for food lovers. They are hot spots that can only be found through word-of-mouth buzz and can only be accessed by invitation.

The idea of an unlicensed restaurant can leave many people running to the nearest T.G.I.Fridays, but for the more adventurous diners, a hidden restaurant can make their palates tingle. These establishments, most often run directly from the cook's kitchen, typically offer unique cuisine that isn't available in local restaurants.

The Ghetto Gourmet began as a unique dining experience in a basement apartment in Oakland, CA. They are now a well-regarded and well-established company that offers a private dining experience.

Digs Bistro was a monthly restaurant run by Jesse Kupers who billed his dinners as art shows with free food just to get around the legalities.

The trend is also spreading internationally. Hidden Kitchen is set in an apartment in Paris and Zingara Cucina is Australian-based with no fixed location and a menu that changes weekly.

This is an incredible shifting trend in the world of food. People are seeking authentic, comforting and uniting dining experiences not typically found in other establishments. A culinary adventure in their own neighborhood.

Blog Your Way to Happiness

According to research, writing about your daily experiences (both positive and negative) can help strengthen your immune system and lower your blood pressure. James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin found that journaling can be a very therapeutic way to handle your life. The question now turns to whether blogging about your life in a public medium can have the same therapeutic effect. It has been noted that many people find that the public aspect of a blog not only creates unity but also forces the blogger to make efforts to document the positives in their life.

Two thousand people were surveyed by LastMinuteLiving.com to understand the phenomenon behind blogs and whether it is beneficial to your life. The study found that 85 percent of people writing a blog did it to express their inner thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental environment. Nearly half of the 2,000 people surveyed online found that a blog helped them get through life as it allowed them to relax and de-stress at the end of the day. It also pushed these bloggers to find something positive in their day-to-day activities.

Sidenote: Two bloggers met their husbands through their blogs, Stephanie Klein of GreekTragedy and Molly Wizenberg of Orangette

Monday, April 16, 2007

Is Self-Employment Good For the Self?

There are so many things that I enjoy doing and the list grows daily. Reading, cooking and watching television (particularly bad reality shows) tops the list. These are all activities that relax, inspire and energize me. And yet I can not allow myself the time to do any of them between Monday's and Friday's. Come to think of it, the weekends are pretty much consumed with work as well.
"Oh, you must have a strict office job?" People often ask when I complain about my inability to seek solace and relaxation during the day. I must them solemnly and with tremendous guilt, tell them no. I must explain that I am, in fact, my own boss. And quite possibly the worst boss I have ever worked for in my life!
The soft cushions of the couch do not touch my posterior from the moment I rise. It must seem the most trivial complaint of someone who is self-employed, but I truly have no time for myself! Why is it that the self-employed portion of our society are often the most over-worked, under-paid, under-appreciated and depressed? Why do we monopolize our own time so rigidly when for most of us the reason we left corporate America was to have MORE time? Why do people choose to be self-employed and how many of them are really happy?
There are over 10 million self-employed people in the United States today. I would like to explore these careers, find out what made these people take this leap of faith and determine their level of happiness and success?

The Picky Diner

After dining with my newly pregnant friend, I realized how difficult a simple meal at a restaurant can be. This is why Kate Markgraf is garnering so much attention. While dining at the Langham Hotel’s Café Fleuri, Margraf suggested creating a menu that catered to pregnant women. She introduced her idea to Chef Mark Sapienza and he was so taken with the idea that a pregnancy menu was developed. The menu is divided into sweet and salty dishes to target specific cravings of pregnant women. The dishes are all specifically developed to satisfy pregnancy nutrition requirements.

With the varying differences in people’s dietary requirements, more and more restaurants are catering their menus to reflect these needs. Legal Seafood offers a wheat-and-gluten-free menu for diners suffering from celiac disease, an intestinal disorder that causes the body to reject wheat, rye, and barley, among other grains. Standard fare is given major alterations to create a satisfying dining experience for diners with special needs. Salads come with gluten-free croutons, and calamari sautéed in gluten-free oil arrives with a cornmeal breading.

Many smaller boutique restaurants are making dietary adjustments, as well. The Elephant Walk in Cambridge, Brookline, and Waltham has gluten-free and vegan menus for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Blue Ginger’s Ming Tsai is an outspoken advocate for allergy-sensitive diners. They will accommodate these patrons as long as they notify the kitchen in advance. With the help of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Tsai continues to push for legislation requiring restaurants to train servers and cooks about high-risk ingredients and common substitutions.

Is this a legitimate trend that will continue to grow or is it too specialized? Is it something that people will support? Do more restaurants need specialty menus? How many allergy-sensitive diners are there in the world? What are their thoughts on the current dining situation in our country?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Finding Love the Old-Fashioned Way

What is a fabulously sophisticated woman to do if she finds herself running out of wealthy men to frolic with across this darling island of Manhattan? Why, sign up with a matchmaker, silly!

What is wrong with a woman wanting to be judged solely on her beauty and a man judged on his income? In the caveman days, women searched for men who they felt could protect and provide for them. What offers more protection than a million dollar penthouse in the city and a Mercedes S-Class? Do you know how safe a doorman and a German car can be?

PocketChange, the New York-based company has created “Natural Selection Speed Dating”, a matchmaking service exclusively available to wealthy men and beautiful women. The first run of this elite dating service occurred last week at a swanky restaurant in uptown Manhattan. I wonder if these clever, take-charge individuals found true love, or at least a dinner companion?

The company has lovely plans for the future, including a matchmaking night for “Sugar Mama’s” looking for a sweet-young-thing to keep them company through lonely nights. Who knows, there may be another Ashton & Demi cavorting through this fabulous city.

Is it wrong to match people up based on shallow desires? Is this the trend matchmaking is taking? Are we getting down to what people really want and what could be the success rate of such an experiment? Who better to give your readers some answers than some of the city’s best matchmakers as well as those wishing to be matched?

As more and more singles are growing tired of looking for love on websites, at speed dating events or in personal ads, a new and yet somewhat old-fashioned trend is steadily rising in popularity. Matchmaking. This method of finding love has been around for centuries and is now getting a face-lift to compete with the times. Websites devoted to helping friends introduce friends are popping up all over the internet and training programs like the Matchmaking Institute in New York are preparing people to become matchmakers.

The matchmaking site Engage.com reports that half of all marriages in the United States are created through matchmakers, friends introducing eligible friends. That’s all it takes. Samantha Daniels was a successful divorce attorney who started her own matchmaking company. Her efforts were the basis of a short-lived television series, “Miss Match”. But what she offered her clients, and what more and more companies are beginning to offer, is a private and personal way to meet a potential partner.

Janis Spindel is a professional matchmaker from New York who charges upwards of $100,000 to find her clients a mate. Spindel has been in this business for over 15 years and takes the credit for 760 marriages and thousands of committed relationships.

With the increasing number of sites like Engage.com, Lovehappens.com, Matchmakinginstitute.com and Samanthastable.com, this is a fascinating topic that is growing in popularity and legitimacy daily.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bullying the Bully

Your 8-year-old son comes home from school and is withdrawn and quiet. You press him for details but he seems distraught. Eventually you are able to pull the problem out of him. He has been bullied at school. Your first reaction is to march down to the school, pull the bully’s parents in for a meeting and fix this mess before anything like this happens again. Unfortunately, this is not the best route.

Experts are saying that it is becoming more common for children to open up to their parents about what is going on in their lives…Great! Then parents are taking matters in their own hands and aggressively trying to fix the problems and fix the bullies…Not so great.

“Adults who address bullying by bullying the bullies will not solve theproblem,” warns Dr. Doug Winborn, associate professor of health and human performance at MTSU . “While the bullying behavior is unwanted, the bully must be helped along, too. And there are ways to accomplish this (through educational) programs.”

It is a sad situation, but experiencing the swings and glares of bullies in school has become a normal part of growing up. However, Dr. Ellen Slicker, MTSU psychology professor believes that this behavior is destructive to both the bully and the victim.

How do you handle this situation with respect to both sides? How do you deal with your child if they are being bullied or if they are the bully?

The Caffeine Rush

Grabbing a hot cup of coffee may be the undiscovered remedy for your burning, post-workout muscles. A recent study has found that caffeine can reduce the pain from exercise-induced muscle soreness. Lead researcher Victor Maridakis studied nine female college students who were not regular caffeine and coffee drinkers. Each participant was given either caffeine or a placebo after an exercise session and one hour before a strenuous thigh workout. Those who were given caffeine experienced 48 percent reduction in pain compared with the placebo group.

Previous studies on caffeine have shown that it increases alertness and boosts endurance. The researchers suggest the caffeine likely works by blocking the body’s receptors for adenosine, a chemical released in response to inflammation.

Caffeine and energy packed drinks like Red Bull have grown to a $3.4 billion yearly industry. It grew by 80 percent last year. How dangerous are these drinks and what is the long-term impact they will have on a generation of children who have grown up with a constant caffeine boost?

Just this past year, more than 500 new energy drinks entered the worldwide consumer market. It has been reported that many young adults are abusing the caffeine rush that these drinks provide by drinking numerous cans in a row to get an unnatural “high” or “buzz.”

There are clubs on-line for energy drinkers, MySpace pages and blogs popping up daily. This growing industry is working hard to recruit new fans of these heart-racing drinks.

What are the negative impacts of such drinks like Red Bull, Monster and the newly added (and scandalously named) Cocaine on our health? Do the benefits of caffeine outweigh the negatives?

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Book Project

I have decided to start a project for the New Year! I am going to read 52 books (minimum) in 2007 and I am going to blog about my readings.

Wish me luck...

and Happy New Year!