Sunday, March 23, 2008

What I can handle...

I have been pondering this for a bit. My menu is a challenge. I admit that. It is complicated shopping. I read a ton. I study the small print and I look at every single label. It takes me awhile at the grocery. It really does. I really like fruits and veggies - they are lableless and I know I can eat them.

I take food with me all the time. I carry something in my purse I know I can eat. Today, I took boiled eggs to church, because I knew much of what was going to be served at bunch I could not eat for one reason or another. Preparing for my vacation, I have stocked up on some of my favorites which travel well. I am scared of being trapped in an airport with no Susan friendly food.

My friend at the gym questions how I can manage this diet. Well I feel great. I feel wonderful and I look great and I just do. But I have been thinking about this. I think that the Universe only serves up challenges that YOU can handle. Be it God, s higher power, Karma or whatever - YOU are presented with challenges, which will challenge but not break you.

My friend J has two children with severe food allergies. J is on top of things and is very vigilant. The universe put her kids in great hands.

Me? Well I am determined and driven and organized and able to deal with the food issues. The upside is huge and there is limited downside really. I have to be thoughtful about what I am eating and what I bring with me - and really McDonald's and Chinese is not really a choice for me - but I feel great!

So we learn and grow as challenges present themselves and ultimately that is the point. One can live without toast - I would really rather not, not be challenged. I think a life stagnet sounds horrible - more horrible than no being able to eat jelly beans or milk shakes or pancakes.

Watch Out Martha the Gluten Free Mavens are running your direction!

I tried something this year for Easter. I baked a lamb cake. It is a lamb shaped cake mold. H's mom did it every year. I skipped last year but decided this year I would give it a try. Then, because I am a crazy girl, I decided to up the ante and make it gluten free! Yep - I baked a cake that I can eat also. Now I have already tried this cake mix out (Whole Foods 365 Brand White GF cake mix) - on my brother for his birthday and it baked well. So I knew the cake itself tastes pretty good. So I had that going for me. The wrinkle this go round, would be, could this gluten free cake bake and bake correctly in the lamb cake mold. My MIL always made a sponge cake or something similar, never did she try gluten free.

I am pleased to say that it worked. It took a bit longer to bake than her instructions, but not too much longer. I was more than a bit apprehensive that the rice flour cake might crumble when I tried to remove it from the pan. I am pleased to say that it came out with no problems whatsoever. Furthermore, the lamb stood upright, without flaking or crumbling.

Another great baking moment. I found marshmallow creme at Whole Foods that does not have corn syrup in it - hence I can eat it also. I made a great frosting with butter, powdered sugar, and marshmallow creme. Yumm-o and easy and also sticky. All the better to attach shredded coconut with! (I am not really supposed to have the butter I guess - but it normally does not bother me - so a little bit will not hurt me. Now the sugar in all of this - well it could be deadly!)

Now as to taste - well I will get back to you on that detail. But is sure does look pretty!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happiness vs. Joy

A fellow writer - who I know asked me this questions and wanted me to give my take on the emotions. I think writers tend to split these kinds of hairs alot. You see, much goes into trying to get the characters "right" to make their emotions feel authentic to the reader. Nothing is worse I think than a well plotted novel, with wimp cardboard cut out charaters. Stock charters in my opinion are never a good idea, unless you are short on words or really trying to belabor a point.

So, my writer friend asked me to conteplate Joy vs. Happiness. Below is what I came up with.

Joy is event driven. I think we make the mistake and say certain things make us happy - but I think it is more correctly termed Joy.

Happiness is an over arching feeling. I think other people can bring you joy. Children bring people joy. Pets I suspect bring joy. Event can be joyful - like weddings, parties and the like are events centered around joy.

Happiness I think is centered deep inside us. We cannot manufacture it, no drugs can create the same feeling that true happiness brings us. Drugs might be able to manufacture the feelings of joy. But it is fleeting. It is not happiness. Joy is episodic. It has a beginning and a finite end. It might be associated with a feeling of elation, a burst of radiance. This is not to say that happiness cannot ebb and flow. I think it can burn brighter at times and be tempered at others.

I have struggled with happiness, on and off during my life. I have had many moments of joy. I think feeling joy is easier than sustaining happiness. Or maybe not - now that I am really thinking about it. I find myself being really happy now. I have done alot of work and I am at a place in my life where I am happy and peaceful and very focused - kinda Zen - there are moment - like a month or so ago where I went through a rough patch - but the roughness was not unhappiness - but rather an opportunity to grow, to expand and to reflect.

When one is truly happy - that is what rough moments become - times to grow, to expand, to reflect, to change and to come them better than before. Those rough spots become moments of joy I guess you could say.

I think that truly happy people tend to be positive in the outlook, open to new ideas, and willing to share quietly. Their happiness is often called an aurora or they bring good energy to a situation.

Dishonor on you

I am going to beat a dead horse. The powers that be at Bears Stern should have to give back every dime, every bonus and every stock option - worthless though they may be. They took on a duty to their shareholders, stakeholders, employees and the finical community at large. It is unbelievable to me that they did not know what would happen if they continued to run their business so close to the edge and if a single one of the BIG BOYS gets on National TV and says otherwise - READ MY LIPS - HE IS LYING! Yet more dishonor!

I am not the only one saying this and I am fearful that many other firms will be heading this route. When will people learn. There is a RIGHT and THOUGHTFUL way to run a business and then there is this APPROACH. Which I ask you seems so profitable now.

At the end of the day, many people think they can fool all of the people all of the time - but the truth is - KARMA will exact her due - on her time table. She is not fooled.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Shell game they call Wall Street

“Banks and brokerages are a house of cards built on the confidence of clients, creditors and counterparties,” Mr. Trone said. “If you take chunks out of that confidence, things can go awry pretty quickly. It could happen to any one of the brokers.”
From: NY Times - Online Edition 3-16-2008

Indeed, investors are taking a grim view of the prospects for other investment banks like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Managers of hedge funds and mutual funds say the problems at Bear confirmed their worst fears about the brokerages — that they have relied too much on leverage and have done a poor job managing the risks they took on during the boom.
From: NY Times - Online Edition 3-16-2008

All of a sudden the dirty little secrets Wall Street does not want their clients to know seem to be falling out of the closets, in an avalanche of epic proportions. The side bets, the hedging, the leverage and the deals, which just boarder on legal and legit, will all stack up as kindling for the fire that burns many and sadly part of that many will be those of us who play by the rules and are trying our best to build wealth, save for retirement since social security is going to be a total bust for us Gen Xers and hopefully put our kids through college.

Wall Street is the Vegas which likes to hide behind the air of refinement. It is gentrified. Deals are not done in dark poker rooms, but rather in boardrooms and five star restaurants and private clubs. While the rest of us slowly and over time listen to our brokers and mutual fund representatives and pace ourselves and save slowly and steadily for retirement and college funding - the big fish, the sharks of Wall Street - the guys who take home the serious six figures plus bonuses every year - they are greedy - they want the quick fix, the pay off.

I also would humbly submit that they need their fix. For them the money is important, I will not lie to you - they are motivated by money - but I think there is more to it. They have the money situation well in hand. Stan O'Neill rode Merrill Lynch to the top - he made some huge changes and was nearly at the top of the world - only to get greedy and sink his own ship by engaging in some very suspect business practices. Alas he is not alone. Not in the least. Even the good guys get caught in the same kind of trap. Elliot Spitzer, the famed litigator and now former governor of New York, got caught up in the vortex of unchecked power.

The kind of power that seems to make men drunk and then stupid. I am not judging Spitzer on his use of call girls or his being unfaithful to his wife. Both of those actions I think are a symptom of the problem. Nor am I particularly judging Stan O'Neill for being underhanded and trying to pull a fast one - although as a share holder I am a bit miffed! I am judging their addiction to the rush that the wheeling and dealing must bring. For them the fast ones - the "Big Deal" is their smack - they mainline it with a hunger that cannot be sated. As time goes on they need more and more Power to get the same HIGH!

I am highlighting their actions as a symptom of the problem afflicting so many people, men and women who hold power. At a certain point - enough is enough. Our society is seriously lacking in the HONOR department. Certain things are not done - because they are not right. When one holds large amounts of power there is the sister obligation of responsibility. HONORABLE men and women know how to balance the two.

It is wrong to flirt with financial ruin - as in the Bears Stern, just because there are deals to be made and you have a history of being able to pull a rabbit out of a hat. It was wrong of Stan O'Neill to go behind the back of the Board of Directors and seek to gain personally by doing so. It was wrong of Elliot Spitzer to be involved in illegal actives while on the other hand holding others to a higher standard.

We are a society driven by more and more and more. More and More and More. While on one hand it is good to be goal oriented and it is good to have the drive to be better - that charging drive must be checked with some compassion, some common sense and some HONOR. There should be consideration for the greater good. Are ALL stakeholders going to be well served by the deals in questions. Are the profits to be made real and sustainable? What is the down side? The real downside - not the downside, which gets discussed.

While living through the Enron disaster while working at Firm X - I had hoped that people would learn a real lesson - illegal and shady deals will bite you in the butt every time. Karma will take her due - and often in the worst possible way.

The problem is - it is the little guy who ends up paying the most.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I have been thinking about this topic on and off for a while. My trainer and I talk about mental limits in relations to my work outs and my progress. He will encourage me to think beyond my mental threshold, to push the limit just a bit.

Last Friday, I ran as a warm up and I managed a 9.45 minute mile. I was only planning to run a mile anyway and generally speaking I run it at about 10 minutes or 10.5 minutes. That is the speed I can manage for the first 2 and sometimes the 3rd. I was so excited. I was done running that mile before I knew it and I had not even taken my normal break. I had gotten past a limit. We will see if I can repeat this in the future, but having done it once I think I can.

My diet is full of limits. I have to watch and be very careful, but I do not feel limited. I feel like I have so many good and healthy and tasty choices. If I follow the eating plan I only have upside. I feel great, I look great, I sleep great and I am seldom sick. It is amazing. So while there are limits I am not limited.

Limits can also be goals. Well manageable goals. In my life as the pro-bono leader of a not-for-profit, I have tried to set manageable goals. I am demonstrating how to work effectively within manageable limits. It is great to dream and aim high, but in order to feel productive and that we are accomplishing something, it is doubly important to work within the limits of a situation.

I will also say that some limits should be revisited from time to time and perhaps rethought. A limit or limitation today, might not be there 6 months from now. Limits are not always static, some limits really are dynamic.

I hurt my ankle the end of January. I fell over one of E's trucks. Wow, did that hurt. I have had to baby the ankle and not run and ice it and just generally be kind to it for a while. Then I had to slowly begin to exercise it, within the pain-free limits until I could do just a little bit more and a little bit more each day. My 2nd run after this time of recovery and I ran my fastest time ever. Some limits are there for a reason. I respected the limit and I was rewarded for my patience.

Other limits need to be over come, gently and thoughtfully, but they are there and they may have served a purpose for awhile, but it the limit feels limiting or if you keep tripping over it, while seeking progress of some kind, then I think and am speaking from experience, it needs to be examines and dealt with. Good limits feel good, they are purposeful. Bad limits, hurt or at a minimum get in the way of progress.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Got Snow?

Well I have so much that is you want some - you come on over. It is seriously too much. It started snowing at 10 am on Friday and stopped about 6 pm yesterday. I shoveled a path on Friday after, which was a complete waste of time. It was covered and drifted over in no time.

The kids and I tried to shovel the drive way this morning and who was I kidding. Me and two kids 5 and under trying to shovel 20 inches of snow. Needless to say we went in and gave up and hoped for the best. I had made arrangements for someone to plow, but had not heard from them and then my lovely neighbors came over and used their snow blower and some brute force and I am free and clear of snow. I am so baking them cookies.

Have I mentioned I am not a fan of snow - well just so you know. I am not and frankly I have had enough winter. I am ready for spring. Now! L suggested we cover the snow in blankets and it would melt faster. At this point I just might try that!

It might actually, now that I think about it, be fall before all of this snow melts. Perish the thought.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Springing forwards and Falling back is for the birds

I think the entire messing with the clocks, the biannual time change is a silly idea. There is no good reason to mess with the clocks. A new study proves it.

It is silly to have to run around and change all the clocks, reset every watch you own, deal with the change and pitfalls and shift in the children's schedules (or pets, I understand it is a pain for dogs especially, since they tend to go out on a set schedule.) People forget or run late or arrive early to meetings for the first few days. A mess.

And for what? More daylight in the morning or evening. I guess 100 year ago that was an issue, but now we all have electric lights and can adjust and I am just not a fan of messing with the nature rhythms of life. I know time is a man made construct loosely based on some scientific observation and local customs, but enough already. We have a 24 hour day and some of it or more of it will be daylight depending on the season and that is just the way it is. Deal with it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The raw power of language

I have a thing about words. I like 'em. I like to think about them, say them, read them, speak them, play with them. I am verbal person. I think out loud. (or I write and that is still expressing thoughts.)

L is learning to read. For real. She has been "reading" for years. She loves books. She sleeps in bed with a pile of books and has for some time. She carries books around the house. She lines up her small zoo of stuffed animals and reads to them.

But now - in this moment she is learning to read the words. She is collecting words the way one would collect sea shells on the shore. Building her site vocab and her list of "high frequency" words.

She is learning to write. She is making up some wild spelling and her penmanship - yep she got that from H - yeah buddy we need work on that - but again the raw power of her discovery. She can write a story now. Just like mommy she will say. The other night she made me a book about the new clothes I had bought her at the store. It was so powerful. Pictures and words working together.

Now I learned a foreign language as a young adult (high school and collage.) and I suppose it was the same process. I remember building my vocabulary slowly and over time. My vocabulary grows every time I go to Germany. The way our brains soak up language is amazing to me.

I was sharing tea with a friend one afternoon and we were discussing vocabulary and the missing pieces of it that we each have. She speaks Arabic and French in addition to English and I speak German. I had been trying to help her look for an apartment in Germany and had had to consult the dictionary a few times because I have never looked for an apartment in German and I had some holes in my vocabulary.

As we drank out tea we where talking about the missing pieces in our vocabularies and we decided that it was so much about experience. Children begin to soak up their mothers language, virtually in utero. They just hear it and somehow the mind catalogs it for them and starts their mental word list even before they say their first word. When learning a language later in life the work is harder, there is some catch up and it is so dependent in many cases on experience.

I knew nothing of German baby speak, like diapers and bottles and all of that until I actually had had a baby and needed to talk the stuff of babies.

My friend and I also came to a startling discovery that afternoon. I knew very few "romantic" words in German - that part of my life experience has been in English while she knew a fair amount about the power of romance in French and understandably none in Arabic.

Language is dynamic and our experience with it is a daily adventure, if we open our minds and take in the power, we just might learn something.

See I told you I was the kiss of death...

So I think someone once told me that you are not suppose to tell people how much you make, who you vote for and how often you have sex, but well I think that is just silly. Anyone very internet savvy can find all of that out - I think and well I am going to spill the beans anyway.

I voted on Tuesday in the Ohio Primary - for Obama. I felt like I not only liked his platform, but he is conducting himself with grace and professionalism and I think those are presidential qualities. So did Obama do so well in Ohio. No of course not - I voted for him. As you will recall I said I was going vote for Edwards and the next day he dropped out, what are the chances?

So I just have to hope that when it comes time to vote come November, I have found a cure to this curse or we could be in a serious bind. I am so longing for change and a fresh face in the White House!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Book Review: Mine to Possess

  • ISBN-10: 0425220168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425220160
I have read all the books in this series and this one is as strong as all the others. While they are romances and the stories are driven by the relationship of the hero and heroine - there is alot of action, alot of intrigue and alot thrill/mystery. Nalini Singh is a gifted story teller and she knows her craft well and she executes brilliantly!

I will say this - the first three books in the series work well as stand alone stories - and while this story is strong - the love affair between Clay and Talin is poignant, beautiful and powerful - but Nalini is carrying the series arc - driving the overacing plot a good bit in this book and I think if you have missed the first three books- you would still have a pleasant read this round - but you would miss many of the finer points.

I also like the way she takes on some really huge social issues - the series is full of them - but in this book Talin is a surviver of abuse - and horrible abuse at that and it takes years for Talin to cope and find herself and her courage is beautiful - but I also admire that Nalini does not glose over the difficulties and the trauma nor does she get on her soapbox. It is in my opinion very well executed!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

This is the kind of campagin ad I like to see...

This is clever and very well done - why can't we have more of this. This type of ad I can actually watch! It is not snippy or whiny or mean spirited. It is smart, witty, clever and very savvy!