Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What I learned at the Elizabeth Gilbert lecture

I believe in synchronicity. I believe that when you really need to hear a message, it will come. I know it sounds hokey and new-age but it's happened to me too many times in my life to think that it's a fluke. Sometimes it's so wild when it happens that I look up to the heavens and I think "Why, God, aren't you clever sending me the message this way! I got it. Thank you! Now if you could work on extending the life span of dogs that would be great."

This weekend there was a message I needed to hear.

On Sunday night I went to see a lecture by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat Pray Love," "Big Magic," and soon to be released "City of Girls." I almost didn't go. I had bought the ticket months ago and promptly forgot about it until my calendar alerted me to the event. My first thought was this:  "I'm busy. It's raining. I need to feed the baby and put her to bed. I would rather just go to bed early. I hate driving into the city."  Then I realized it's Liz Gilbert. I have "Eat Pray Love" DVR'd so I can watch my favorite parts of the film in Italian and remember that she was the reason I took three semesters of Italian after seeing the film. So, (to quote Liz) I put on my big girl panties and got dressed and went to the lecture.

There is something wonderful about being around other people who just want to live their best life, like the audience there for Liz. When she came out on stage, the audience, of course, cheered and then sat there rapt as Liz shared the heartbreaking story of her partner, Rayya Elias's struggle with pancreatic cancer. It wasn't just a struggle with this terrible disease but also her struggle to avoid taking opioids to help with her pain. As a former addict who had been clean for 17 years, she didn't want to go back to that dark place. The pain, though, was too intense and she finally did submit to pain-relieving drugs which unfortunately started her spiral into the darkness again.

In this clearly painful story to retell, Liz told how at one point she was to administer pain relieving patches to Rayya. These were serious patches-Fentanyl, an opioid 80-100 times stronger than morphine. For 72 hours Liz administered these patches but for 72 hours Rayya had no relief. It wasn't working. They were both in a cataclysmic hell. And then Liz called the nurse. When she same over, she looked at the patches on Rayya and it was then that she realized that Liz hadn't removed the thin layer of film between the patch and the Raaya's skin. Liz stepped away to the bathroom and cried tears of regret. She knew that for those 72 hours, the hell that Rayya was living was because of her. And then she took a moment and asked herself what the old Raaya, the Raaya before the cancer would have said. She would have forgiven Liz and Liz realized if it was anyone else that this happened to, she would have told them "Forgive yourself. It sucks but it was an honest mistake. If you knew better you would have done it differently." Liz realized that she would have been gentle with anyone else but not with herself. She had to find mercy and forgive herself.

This resonated with me so much that my eyes welled up as she spoke. I have forgiven people who have done unkind things to me (maybe not immediately but I found a way). Yet, I still carry my regret, sadness and anxiety around with me. It's like a wound that I just keep aggravating. I cover it up instead of letting air and sunshine get to it and let it heal. I hold onto it because I feel like I should.

As I drove home in the Seattle traffic on Sunday night with the rain was coming down in waves, I had the radio off and I realized that beating myself up isn't working. This self-sabotaging thing isn't working either.  I had a conversation with God. I asked Him to forgive me. As a Catholic I've gone to confession and I know that I have received absolution. I thought if God can forgive me, who am I to not forgive myself?  I asked Him to please let me be gentle with myself.  Showing yourself gentleness and mercy doesn't mean it never happened. It means it happened, yes, but you have made your peace (however that is with God, yourself or someone else) and now it's time to leave it behind.

I hope in the next few days, weeks, months that the anxiety and regret in my heart dissipates like fog on the beach in the morning. One minute it's there clouding everything up and then just like that, it's gone and you're standing there in the sunshine. I'm looking forward to that.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Happygirl Essentials: Beekman 1802 Goat Milk Soap

On a farm in New York, there lives a herd of goats.  And on that farm, there are two men who came to care for these goats and went on to create the lifestyle brand, Beekman 1802.

This week I received a box of Beekman 1802 love. Tucked into this box were six ultra-creamy goat milk soaps in scents like Ylang Ylang & Tuberose, Meadow Lark and Arcadia (clematis, jasmine and almond) and a jar of whipped body cream sinks into your skin like, well, milk. Waverly loves the scent so much she keeps burying her little face into my neck

This morning I used the Meadow Lark soap for the first time. When I got out of the shower, my skin felt soft and I smelled delicious. (I took the soap wrapper and put it in my lingerie drawer.) I'm looking forward to trying the others scents. I already have my eye on Hello Sunshine After the Sun Bar.

I also love the story of Beekman 1802. Josh Kilmer-Purcell (advertising executive and NY Times Bestselling author)  and his partner, Brent Ridge (physician and former  Vice President of Healthy Living for Martha Stewart Omnimedia) left New York City after they both lost their jobs within a month of each other in 2008 to live on historic Beekman 1802 Farm, which they had purchased the year prior as a getaway from the city. They started thinking about their steps. After taking in a neighbor's herd of goats they learned how to produce goat's milk soap and cheese. Today, Josh and Brent run Beekman 1802 and they work with farmers and artisans to market locally made goods to enhance your life.

I love the product, the packaging, the scents and the story.  I also love that the bars are made free of sulfates, parabens and artificial fragrances. I'm inspired by people who have been through a downturn in life and made it into something positive. I'm looking forward to gifting Beekman 1802 to friends. I hope they'll feel as happy as I did when I saw this little goat staring back at me.

photo courtesy of Beekman 1802

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The thing about all's fair in love and war

I don't know if it's something in the air or that time of year but lately I have had a number of conversations with friends about issues they are having with other people in their lives who aren't playing by the rules and come out ahead.

The questions ranged from "Do I tell our boss that he is outsourcing his work?" to "I don't think I can still be friends with her. Is it OK to feel this way?" and "I hate her for getting ahead this way.  I'm pissed that she's getting away with it. I'm jealous. Does that make me petty? Do I say something?"

I am experiencing the same thing too. I have a friend who believes you should always take advantage of situations if they fall into your lap. She always takes the receipts when she goes out with friends to use them for tax deductions. One of my friends has a friend whose parents made a hefty donation to her college right before she was accepted. Another friend has a friend who stretches the truth on dating apps. I once had someone tell a potential boss that I was trying to have a baby so I was unsuitable for job that involved travel. (I didn't get the job.) I have to wonder if winning feels good, even if you achieve your goals through unsportsmanlike behavior.

I have Catholic guilt. I have not always acted sportsmanlike. This is a hard thing to admit.  Truly. However,  I have found our that when you take the low road, it ALWAYS comes back at you. Maybe you won't get found out but you know what you did. Yes, it's tempting to know you can tilt the tables in your favor by taking a glance at the answer sheet or not sharing information with someone when you know it could help them get ahead but there is something to be said for acting nobly. Maybe you don't deserve the promotion right now. Maybe you don't deserve to get into that college. (Seriously, I have to wonder about the parents who cheated their way into getting their kids into a prestigious university. Do they realize that their kids actually have to do the school work once they get in?)

I believe that when you live your life with grace in your heart, when you take the high road, when you are transparent, when you say "I did this. I'm sorry." that life has a way of rewarding that behavior. Maybe you don't get what you wanted but you are a decent, kind person. You're the kind of person that your grandmother hoped you would be. You don't have to worry about being found out or that someone knows what you did.

It won't always feel good.  Life can be unfair. There will be some moments that sting but you can hold your head up and know you did your best. Maybe you lost the round but in the game of life, you won.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The April 2019 Guide to Being Happy

There is something about spring when the snow has melted and the lovely combination of rain and sun makes everything blossom. Life feels technicolor again.  I happily shed all of my black yoga pants, jeans, boots and sweaters and lean into lighter, happier colors and textures. I start to eat healthier. I move more. I breathe deeper. I need less sleep. Being outside feels incredible.

I feel my smile coming back.

I hope this month makes you feel this way too. Here are some things that just might make you feel happy too this April.


Tuesday, April 9th is free cone day at Ben & Jerry's. My favorite? The Coconut Seven Layer Bar (Coconut ice cream with coconut & fudge flakes, walnuts and swirls of graham cracker and butterscotch.)

Who is the person you sat next to on long family vacation car trips? On Wednesday, April 10th, make up for all the ways you tormented your siblings when you were kids. It's also a good day to post those sibling photos to your social media accounts. #NationalSiblingsDay

Spice Girl, Emma Bunton, has a new album debiting on April 12th called My Happy Place. It's what you want, what you really really want. 

Friday, April 12th is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. This is the best grilled cheese recipe ever. (The key is low heat and mayonnaise.)

The Boston Marathon is Monday, April 15th. If you're in the Boston area, come out and support the runners!

Tax Day is Monday, April 15th as well. Look at it this way: at least you got your taxes in! Need an extension? Here's how to file for one.

Easter Sunday is on April 21st. Need some inspiration for an Easter meal? Here's how these countries celebrate Easter traditions with food.

Tuesday, April 23rd is Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Turn your text messages into eloquent rhyming couplets. Methinks thou be wisest  to tryeth this. Easy: Say Hark! or Behold! when you walk into a room pointing at something.


"Let me Introduce You to Sofia, " from Italy

I've always wanted to attend the Newport Beach Film Fest. This year it's April 25-May 2. If you're in the area or thinking about a beach getaway, visit the official Newport Beach Film Fest site for more on the opening night gala and parties, film schedule and travel information.


I have this book on my nightstand. I'm waiting for the perfect time when I have a few hours to start in on "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine," a story about a socially awkward woman who comes to terms with her difficult childhood. (This film is being made into a motion picture with Reese Witherspoon.)

One of my favorite things to do when Waverly isn't in the car with me is listen to podcasts. Here are four podcasts that I'm looking forward to trying in April. 

No Such Thing as a Fish  A podcast from the writers of QI, a BBC show, in which they discuss strange facts they learned that week

NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour Learn what's new in film, television and music

CBC's Personal Best  A self-improvement show that helps people tackle what may seem like smallish issues. Sheryl wants to deliver a baby cow. Julia struggles with text messages. Robin's constantly late. I need this podcast in my life. 

I've read his book "The 4-Hour Work week." Now I'm excited to listening to Tim Ferriss in his podcast "The Tim Ferriss Show." During each episode. Tim talks with world-class performers about how they achieved their success.


I recently discovered Quercetin, a naturally occurring free radical scavenger that helps to increase your immune support. I bought this brand which also contains Bromelain because it combines well to help your immune system react to environmental responses such as allergic reactions and inflammation. I'm excited to add this to my daily routine.


My favorite blush that I come back to again and again is NARS Orgasm ($40) which is the perfect pink/peach shade with a hint of sparkle. You know the way your cheeks look when you've spent a day outside being active? This blush makes you look like a healthy outdoorsy girl. This new larger size is perfect for this summer. Paired with a tinted sunscreen and lip balm with (both with SPF), it's all you'll need for a weekend getaway.  


We have some friends coming over for dinner next week. I'm going to serve this Lemon and Pea Alfredo from Giada De Laurentiis. This looks like spring in a bowl. With warm rosemary focaccia and strawberries dipped in creme fraiche, it should be a lovely evening.

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