Monthly Archives: November 2014

My Unexpected Thanksgiving!

After our nine years of living in St. Louis, half a continent away from family on either coast, one of the things we looked forward to when we moved back to Northern California was spending the holidays with family members.

I don’t know about you, but I love having large groups of family and friends at my table for the holidays. A few years ago we had 22 people for Thanksgiving in our small condo—we had to move out all our living room furniture to make room. And even though it was a lot of work to have so many in our home, I enjoyed sitting down that evening to our table (actually three tables) and seeing family members gathered together for the holiday.

A few years ago there was a huge family squabble which now means that many of our west coast relatives will not get together for the holidays. It is not worth recounting the disagreement or the disappointment; it is just something the family has to accept. I have learned that not all disagreements have resolution. When this split happened, my immediate family (husband and two kids) started a new Thanksgiving tradition: instead of eating a meal loaded with carbohydrates that linger on our hips and mid-sections for weeks, we started serving cooked cracked crab.

turkey    OR    crab

Online I learned that it is a California tradition to serve crab (scroll down to alternative to turkey) for Thanksgiving as the crab season starts in early November. One of the many benefits for serving crab on Thanksgiving is that it frees up the cook from having to babysit baste a turkey every few hours, so taking a nice long walk on Thanksgiving also become part of our tradition. And since crab is a light meal it leaves plenty of room for dessert—one of our favorite parts of the meal!

This year I thought I would gather family members together for the holiday and introduce them to our new tradition, while of course still honoring those who wanted to keep with the more traditional fare. But it didn’t work out. Most of the extended local family members decided to celebrate Thanksgiving on the east coast—including our kids. So David and I found ourselves alone for the holiday.

I have to admit that at first I felt sorry for us—a feeling that I don’t usually indulge. But after a few days we decided to take the bull by the horns and turn the situation around. So instead of sitting around, looking at each other for the holiday, we are heading over to Santa Cruz for the holiday. My fantasy is fresh cracked crab for Thanksgiving, walking to Natural Bridges State Park to see the migrating monarch butterflies, and of course gorgeous sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

It wasn’t the holiday I expected, but it is now a holiday I am looking forward to!

What are your holiday plans this year?

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

A Thanksgiving Toast to My Blessings and My Struggles

Next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving: gratitude, the giving of thanks. I have many blessings: my 25+ year marriage with a man who still loves me; two healthy, loving, and interesting kids. We have lived in lovely parts of the country and been able to travel to many wonderful places. The fruits of our labor and the luck of the draw have been good to us.

I also have gratitude for the parts of my life that are a struggle for me—not just the blessings.  Some yoga teachers remind their students to give thanks to the poses that we cannot do, even when those poses are difficult and stressful. Just as I learn to be grateful for the poses I can’t do in class, I chose gratitude for the issues in my life that bring me stress.  I see how they reveal my potential. I chose to embrace my struggles. A fellow blogger posted this 1 minute video about stress on her blog and it hit home for me:

Here some of the things that I am currently mulling over in my head — next week they could be different. I am grateful to these issues as well as all my nachas.

1)      I struggle to live a creative life. I still hear the words of a grade school art teacher telling me I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Unfortunately that man’s voice was in my head for years. Even after writing a best-selling book, Fortune is in the Follow-Up®, I struggle to express myself creatively. This blog is one of several current creative endeavors of mine. I love this quote from the historical novel, Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan about Fanny van de Grift Osbourne, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson, who also struggled to live express herself creatively:

“She really was an artist, but her art was not something that would be viewed in a museum or contained between the covers of a book. Fanny’s art was in how she lived her own extraordinary life. She was her best creation.”

2)      I struggle to be the wife I want to be: less critical and more easygoing. I hope I am less Olive Kitteridge (another book I highly recommend) and more Camille Braverman from the TV show Parenthood. I have yelled over ‘split milk,’ made mountains over mole hills that were a complete waste of time and energy, and I have spent money that should have been saved. I want to be patient and loving to the man who is my life partner. Yoga and counting to ten helps, but this is a work in progress!

3)      I struggle to be the daughter I want to be with my mother. The good news is that since her Alzheimer’s diagnosis 18 months ago we have been on a positive trajectory that pleases us both. But the bad news is that we live across the country and short visits every few months are not ideal. I feel pulled to her in ways that are new and surprising to me. Still trying to figure out how to solve this one.

4)      I struggle to find a community of women with whom I can share my joys and sorrows. I had such a community years ago when we lived in the Bay Area from 1993 to 1999. After moving back in 2008, I expected that I would be able to find and/or create one again, but it has not quite happened. I have made friends through my different interests: yoga classes, stitching guilds, book club and a few other activities that keep me out of trouble. One friend called these micro tribes. But it feels segmented and I yearn for a more communal feeling from my circle of friends. Look for more posts on this one!

None of these are life shattering. I appreciate that my struggles are all first world and that I am a work in progress. I claim these struggles and the issues I work on that both stress and interest me. What are you struggling with in your life? Can you relate?

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Happy Birthday to My Darling Daughter!

19 years ago I gave birth to my gorgeous daughter. In my blessing at her Bat Mitzvah, I wrote about my scary pregnancy and my dreams for her as a woman. It is a delight to be able to celebrate her and the wonderful woman she has become. Happy birthday darling daughter!

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As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

New Zealand – Best of Australia Part IV

Two weeks after landing in Melbourne (one of my favorite cities in the world!) we took off for the South Island of New Zealand and had a terrific time. We spent 10 days seeing various sites, visiting people and generally having a wonderful time with the Kiwis, as they are affectionately known. We could have easily stayed longer as there were many places we didn’t get to, but those that we did, were great.

Here are some of the highlights of our trip to New Zealand.



We started off in Christchurch, where David has distant relatives who welcomed us with open arms. They showed off their adopted city of 35+ years with pride, even though Christchurch is still figuring out how to recover from the devastating earthquake in 2011. One clever idea is their inventive use of shipping containers as temporary stores. Here is David in front of the new ‘shopping mall’ in downtown Christchurch.




Here is the view from where we stayed, just outside of Christchurch in the little town of Governors Bay. I can see why these relatives decided to live and raise their kids in New Zealand!


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Scenes from our lunch at the Mount Difficulty Winery. It was a delicious and lovely way to stop and break up the drive from Christchurch to Queenstown.

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Our hike above Queenstown was steep and strenuous, but the views were breathtaking!

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One of the most spectacular places we have ever been to was Doubtful Sound, which is a stunning fiord in the far Southwest of New Zealand. It is part of the same region as the more well-known Mitford Sound, but Doubtful Sound is larger and less accessible. We had to take a boat and then a bus just to get to the dock where we then boarded the overnight boat and then afterwards retraced our steps to get back. 95% of the year it is cloudy and rainy, but we were there in one 48-hour time period that was sunny – very unusual. We had gorgeous views of the vertical rain forest, growing up the steep walls of the fiord and a beautifully quiet sunrise on the water the next morning.

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We spent a few days in Dunedin, where it turns out I knew two local women from my years of working with La Leche League International. They took turns touring us around the area so that we saw the local sites including the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross. While out on the boat, we were divebombed by 8 or 9 of these majestic birds and even saw a little blue penguin fishing off the coast.

Bottom line: the people are friendly and grateful for tourists, since the 2011 earthquake and 2008 economic crisis has meant a drop in American tourism. It is well worth the long trip to get there. Overall it was a terrific trip and we left loads more to see and do for a future visit, including the whole North Island.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!