Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring in Brooklyn

70 degrees!! Zoe and I wandered the Promenade this morning (where above photo of the Brooklyn Bridge was taken) and I wish there was some way I could send you the smells and the sounds and the full 360 panorama!  

In NH we don't usually see this wonderful sight until late April!

This is the very southern tip of Manhattan, where the island meets the harbor. The tall building with the two cranes is The Freedom Tower at Ground Zero. When we arrived last year, you couldn't see it from here. Check out the yellow water taxi.

I have to admit that the following pictures weren't taken today, but one morning last week. I woke to find this magnificent ship sitting quietly in the middle of the harbor. Of course I ran for the binoculars and it was quickly clear that this was no ordinary ship. This was a Mickey Mouse ship! This is Disney's newest cruise ship, Fantasy, on her maiden voyage from the shipyard in Germany where she was built. Since this was her first U.S. stop, I assume she was hanging around in the harbor until the welcoming committee was ready at her berth on the Hudson. This magnificent ship almost made me want to take another cruise.   Almost...

Just hanging around... The orange boat is the Staten Island Ferry

Under way

Happy Spring!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Perfect Question?

Buddhists believe that "one should establish mindfulness in one's day-to-day life maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one's bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself." Modern Western psychology has successfully used the practice of mindfulness - focusing full awareness on the present - to reduce pain, stress and anxiety. 

Calm sounds good. And who wouldn't want less pain, stress and anxiety? According to studies, the form of mindfulness with the greatest impact is mindful meditation. A calm, pain-free, stress-free, anxiety-free life for a mere fifteen minutes a day? Sign me up! I've got a ton of self-discipline so fifteen minutes a day should be a cinch. Well... Apparently I don't have as much self-discipline as I'd like to believe. I tried. I mean really tried. But I can't turn my crazy brain off for even one minute (tried that too... see here), let alone fifteen. The commitment to sit and try lasted about a week (I'm being generous).

The way I have been able to incorporate mindfulness into my life with pretty good success is by acknowledging and savoring the good moments that wander into my life on a regular basis. And then remembering to be consciously grateful for them. Those practices have made a huge difference in the quality of my life. In case you skimmed those last three sentences, let me repeat the key parts of them. Acknowledge and savor the good moments. Consciously grateful. Made a HUGE difference. Got it? Good. 

So I'm already acknowledging and appreciating the good moments - and I'm fortunate that I've been doing that for a while because it kind of works like a magnet; the more I acknowledge, the more there are. Consequently, I'm in a pretty good place most of the time. But what about the ho-hum parts of my day? Or the not-so-great moments when I fret about what we're going to do now that our house is sold or worry about where we'll be a year from now... 

"What, at this moment, is lacking?" The power of this question, posed by a Zen master to his students, is in it's simplicity. At this moment. Not what might be lacking six months from now or what was lacking two years ago. At this moment. Mindfulness in a nutshell. So I started asking myself at various points in my day, "What, at this moment, is lacking?" I'm happy to report the answer is usually, "Absolutely nothing." If something is lacking, the absence is, more often than not, easily remedied. A hat to keep my ears warm, a glass of water to quench my thirst, food because my stomach is growling. I'm fortunate, I get to take for granted a comfortable, safe home and enough money to buy food and clothing. Add to those the right companionship at the right time, and, at any given moment, I'm in good shape.

Simple? Yes. Powerful? Incredibly. The Perfect Question? I'm beginning to think so.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

White Knights & Pink Pigs

Sylvia Dickey Smith, who interviewed me last week (interview is posted on my website), asked me to write a guest post for her blog. I wrote the post, she added the great title - White Knights & Pink Pigs.

To read the post, simply click here. And as always, if you like it, please share it!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Writing Strong Women Interview

Hey all, I wanted to let you know about my first interview since I published The Pig & Me. The interview will be conducted by Sylvia Dickey Smith for her Blog Radio show, Writing Strong Women. Sylvia's blog and radio shows "peek into the minds of bestselling authors writing strong women." I'm not sure I qualify for the "bestselling" part - at least not yet - but I'm honored that she read The Pig & Me and wanted to chat! The interview is scheduled for Monday morning (the 9th) at 11 a.m. eastern and will last 30 minutes. Listeners are welcome to call-in with questions. To listen click here. And please tell your friends!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mindful Gratitude Reminder

I occasionally need a reminder to be grateful and have a feeling I'm not the only one... So, with some minor changes (I'm a serial "tinkerer") and a new, written-today last paragraph, the following is a re-post from August 2010.


About a year ago I decided I needed to be more mindfully grateful.  I have a whole lot to be grateful for, but it's easy to lose sight of that fact when shlogging through the daily grind.  So I started taking the time, just before I fall asleep, to review the things I'm grateful for on that particular day.  Some nights it's easy, others a lot more difficult.  But no matter how tough a day it seems at the time, when it is over, there is always - and I mean always - something I can be grateful for: making it to an appointment on time, finding that perfectly ripe avocado, the delicious moment when the bra comes off and the sweats go on, the first sip of wine at the end of a long day.  After reminding myself of the little things I'm grateful for, I list the Big Stuff: a husband who has faced a terminal illness and is healthy, two happy, gainfully employed and self-supporting sons, my own good health, friends.

This little ritual has become a habit and I often drift off in the middle of my Big Stuff list.  I sleep better, dream happier and wake with a much more positive attitude.  And in times of crisis, this can be a life-saver.

One thing on my grateful list these past few nights has been the fact that our New Hampshire house is in contract. If all goes well, we will be handing the keys to our beautiful home over on March 15th. The house has been on the market for two years, which sounds like such a long time, but now I understand that it was the right amount of time. An amount of time for which I am now very grateful. We've had time to adjust to the new life we've made in Brooklyn. We have an apartment we love with a view that stuns us with it's beauty every day. We are not panicked about what to do or where to go. We will pass the keys on to a couple who will love and care for our dream home and make it their own. And we will breathe. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Life after Ponzi

As most of you who have followed this blog know, two years ago last month we were "Madoff'd" by a New Hampshire Bernie-wannabe. We lost our entire retirement savings - including the money from the sale of my company, No Pudge!. My husband who had been working part-time and was about to retire completely, had to go back to work full-time. We were immensely lucky - he was able to find a job quickly, but the job he found was based in New York City. "Great!," we told each other, "An adventure is just what we need." I hunkered down in NH to finish the book I was sure would become a bestseller and to sell the four year-old dream house we were certain would sell quickly while he headed off to slay dragons (a.k.a. selling software) in Gotham City. 

Fast forward two years. On the not-so-great side of our life-ledger, the economy tanked, the house hasn't sold and, despite some rave reviews (Reviews!) The Pig & Me languishes.  On the pretty-great side, Paul's job enabled us to get an apartment in Brooklyn so he's no longer living in a hotel and commuting each week, and I'm not spending the winter alone in NH. Our two sons, one almost-son-except-he's-a-nephew, and their respective two girlfriends and one wife live in New York and we see them regularly. After twenty-five years of residing full-time in NH, living in The Big Apple is an adventure on steroids. I am learning to love our new life-style and Paul is actually beginning not to hate it. To say that we are blessed and have a great life would be no exaggeration. Oh yeah, except for one little thing... At 60 & 61, we have no financial cushion and retirement is a pipe-dream (guess that's two little things). 

I want/need to make a contribution to our financial well-being and since being a best-selling author doesn't appear to be in my immediate future, it's time to start a new journey. 

My first step on this new journey was to sign up for Steve Harrison's one-year Quantum Leap program.  Steve had been recommended as a marketing guru who helps people sell books, garner great PR and get speaking engagements. The recommendation was from someone whose opinion I trust completely, so I jumped online to check him out. There I discovered a description of his year-long program of education and support called "Quantum Leap". It's a program designed to help people fine-tune their message (message??) and then get that message out to their niche audience (if I don't have a message, how can I have a niche?). Turns out the day I checked it out was the day before applications for entrance into this twice a year program closed. Damn. My options were to wait six months or to apply on the spot. Being the patient, think-everything-through-before-jumping-in kind of person I am, I closed my eyes and took yet another huge leap of faith: I filled out and submitted the application. And got in.

I don't have a road map for this journey yet, but I have a starting point and that's something. I'm hoping you'll tag along, offer your thoughts and suggestions and maybe even shout-out a cheer now and then (not of the Bronx variety, please).