Head and shoulders, knees and toes. I'm thinking of the simpler days when anatomy was a song and naps were a requirement. When the only pain you had to worry about was the scrape you received when the ground came up and smacked you. Pain that was washed, drenched in Bactine, and covered by the mighty band-aid, whose removal was usually more painful than the original bruise. But, it was only temporary.
Now it's all pain, all the time. Not really all the time, but it doesn't go away after the blood crusted scab disappears. It's pain from the incisions, pain in the knees from years of jogging, and a neck that feels like it someone is constantly trying to wring it. That is why God invented masseuses and massages, which is lately my personal drug of choice. I can't imagine any drug making me higher than what I feel like during and after a massage, which is probably the first sign of old age, but it's something I am not ashamed to admit.
I just had the most euphoric massage tonight and I am in such a mellow state of mind. All the knots hidden in my body have been untied, the toxins diluted and my brain tenderized to the point of actually wanting to go to sleep. Come to think of it, it's definitely a lot more quiet in my head, so hopefully all the voices have been put to sleep. This is a luxury I have to treat myself to, a lot more often. Luckily for me, my masseuse is a very good friend who is just starting her training, and I get to be the practice person. It's like winning the feel good lottery.
I've had to do a little re-invention, because my life as I knew it, was no longer working. Unlike Madonna, it isn't that easy for me to re-invent myself successfully every few years. Hell, I can barely convince myself to step outside of my narrow comfort zone on a daily basis. I have put my inner voices on mute, because I am tired of all the bitching. I call the shots, and if I want to wallow in self pity and procastination, that's my choice, so deal with it. I let them fight it all out amongst themselves, with the inner critic and self-saboteur usually winning.
To be honest, the fighter in me is finding it harder to get up each time I get knocked down. Don't let anyone tell you differently, because the older you get, the harder it is to bounce back. I thought I was going to deceive old age and just skip through life locked into my thirties. I was never going to be mistaken for a grandmother. I was healthier, stronger and had more energy than people half my age. I just started needing reading glasses TWO MONTHS AGO. And only because I have a hard time reading a menu when I eat in a slightly dark restaurant.
Because of the economy, my health and my mental state of mine, I have to come up with new ways to support myself. Since half of the state of California is on unemployment, this includes coming up with some creative ways to make money. The problem is that I'm not feeling very creative lately, in fact I am stuck in the biggest mediocre hole in my life. I feel overwhelmed with all the talented people in the universe, and realize that it is a club I was not asked to join.
I watched the live stream of Maria Shriver's Women's Conference and was blown away by all the remarkable women and what they have accomplished. Talk about inferiority complex. Mine has just multiplied. Because I don't want to die of boredom, or as a bag lady, I have come up a new way to use my talents to make money.
I decided to print my calendar, which was originally something I did every year as a gift for my daughters and a few close friends. I opened an ETSY shop, like millions of other bloggers and am trying to sell them there. I will be adding cards and jewelry to the shop soon. I know it is a long shot, and I am up against some very talented people, but when you have cancer, you have to take some risks. What have I got to lose? If you are looking for a desktop calendar, please visit my shop. I will even gift wrap it for you, gratis.
Lately I have been suffering from writer's block, and have not felt like sharing anything about what is going on in my life. I don't know if it is the gloomy weather we are having in Santa Monica, or it is survivor's remorse. The past year and a half, my life has been consumed with battling breast cancer and I have been at the mercy of doctor's, medicine, technology, chemicals and the kindness of people. You could say I have been running on faith, hope and charity. Running on empty most of the time, but still running. Trying to do the all the right things, and only the right things. Can't stray too far from the straight and narrow.
I received a card from a friend I haven't talked to in while and she said she hopes my cancer is gone. The problem is that cancer is never really gone. It is in remission, hiding somewhere in your body, waiting. It's not like a sinus infection that comes and goes. All I can do is get up every day, do what I have to do so I can do what I want to do. Forget about the past, don't worry about the future, and enjoy the moment. What a concept.
Dear Polititians running for office in California,
I am really starting to resent all of you and the negative ads that are bombarding the local airwaves. All they do is attack the other candidate, without saying what you propose to do to make this world a better place. We all know California is in dire straights financially, all the more reason for us to resent the fact that you have spent millions on these offensive ads. I hate to break it to you, but the main thing Californians care about is whether or not marijuana will become legal and if the unemployed are ever going to work again, not in that order.
Just think of what all the millions of dollars you wasted spent could have done for our failing school systems. We all know that what you say and what you end up doing is never the same. I can't wait for this election to be over and thank you for polluting the airwaves with your negativity and hatred.
For reasons I don't quite understand, my seasonal allergies are acting up even though we don't have seasons in Southern California. Because I have other major health problems and am on survival mode, I wait until it gets really uncomfortable before I expose my body to more chemicals. So today I was on a mission to get a package of Zyrtec-D with the emphasis on the "D". I have a CVS pharmacy rewards card, so it is always my drug store of choice. As I was out and about running errands, I popped into the one in Venice, and to my frustration, they were out of the 24 count package. Being the frugal person that I am, I refused to buy the 12 count since for a few dollars more, you can get 24. To make a long story short, I went to five CVS drug stores, and everyone one of them was out of the larger size. I don't know what is more surprising, the fact that they were all out of them, or the fact that I have Five CVS stores within five miles of my home.
If you are not familiar with the law, you are not allowed to purchase more than a certain amount of over-the-counter-medicine that contains pseudoephedrine, because that is the ingredient that they use to produce methamphetamine. Every time I purchase it, which isn't often, I have to go to the pharmacy section, stand in line, and show my drivers license, and sign away my life.
I ended up going to Rite Aid, and had no problem buying the larger pack, in fact they had a whole shelf full. After I got home, I was checking out Huffington Post, where I read that CVS was just fined $75 Million dollars for allowing repeated purchases of pseudoephedrine that led to a spike in Southern California drug trafficking. "CVS knew it had a duty to prevent methamphetamine trafficking, but it failed to take steps to control the sale of a regulated drug used by methamphetamine cooks as an essential ingredient for their poisonous stew," said U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. Supposedly they were only vigilant in my case, because I really look like someone who "cooks a poisonous stew."
I came across this very talented lady Stacy, at the Abbot Kinney Festival and fell in love with her handmade baby gifts. She has an Etsy store and I can vouch for the fact that her items are fabulous in person. I also found out that my granddaughter, according to the Chinese Zodiac, will be born in the year of the rabbit. I am definitely going to get her the birth block with the bunny. It will be especially meaningful, since her paternal grandmother is Chinese.
I went to dinner tonight at Claim Jumpers, not my idea of a gourmet meal, so I was pleasantly surprised when I ordered a sort of healthy meal, and it turned out to be way better than average. I started off with the butternut squash soup, then a veggie sandwich that included grilled eggplant, zucchini, portobello mushroom, balsamic vinaigrette, onions, avocado, pesto, and goat cheese on grilled herb bread and a spicy peanut thai slaw. I felt really proud of myself, since everyone else ordered off the clogged artery menu and chowed down on burgers, fries, spinach dip and so on.
As I was eating my soup, I remembered that my sister called me last month, just as I had finished making a fabulous fresh tomato soup for friends, and I promised that I would put the recipe on my blog. I hope it isn't too late, Cindy, and you still have some tomatoes left from the summer crop. If not, Roma tomatoes work really well.
Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2.5 lbs plum tomatoes, cored, halved lengthwise, and seeded
1 medium fennel bulb (about one pound) cored and cut into medium dice
1 medium yellow onion, cut into medium dice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup milk (whole or low-fat)
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Position a rack directly under the broiler element and heat the broiler on high. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil (preferably non-stick) and add 1 Tbs. of oil. Arrange tomatoes, cut side down side and drizzle 1 tbs. oil over them. Broil till the skins are very charred and shrunken, turning as necessary, about 10 minutes. Let cool and then slip the skins off the tomatoes. Discard the skins.
Heat the remaining 2 tbs of oil in 6 quart pan. Add onions and fennel, stirring frequently until golden about 10 - 15 minutes. Add the garlic the last minute so it doesn't burn. Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pot to release the browned bits. Add the tomatoes and any juices from the baking sheet. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until the fennel is very tender, about 5 minutes. Puree the soup in blender or food processor. Put back in pot, and add milk and thyme and heat gently over medium-high heat for five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top each serving with a scattering of the goat cheese. Makes 5-6 cups and serves 4-6.
How am I supposed to stay away from sugar, when everywhere I look, they are selling cupcakes? I was out to dinner on Third Street in Los Angeles, when we passed the new Magnolia Bakery that has only been open for a few months. I tried to resist saying they couldn't still be open at 8:30, but they were. Then I said we would never find a place to park, but we did, right in front. So I guess with all these signs, I was meant have one. I did get a half dozen, but most of them were for friendsHate to admit it, but these are fabulous cupcakes, and I prefer them over Sprinkles. I really wish they had stayed in New York, because all we need in Los Angeles, is another great cupcake bakery.
I recently attended a workshop at the Wellness Community and was totally impressed by Susan Dopart, registered dietitian and author of the book A Recipe for Life. A great source of facts that help you to become a healthier person without giving up all the foods you love. She has a blog, which I have become a big fan of, and right now I am going out and buying a huge quantity of green tea.
This is my neighbor's meditation garden. Her own little tranquil sanctuary. God knows she needs it since she has a two-year-old and six-year-old twins. All girls. All very articulate and active. I don't know how often she uses it, but if I were her, I think I would make it a top priority. The fact that she even has this area, shows that at least she is trying to find peace, something I wish I could say for myself.
She has been very sick lately and I have occasionally been helping out with the kids. Being from England there is no family around, and her husband has a very demanding job. My heart goes out to her. I feel a special obligation because of the angel who helped me when my daughter was born and I was left without a mother. I know all about the loneliness of motherhood.
I don't know what my purpose in life is, and believe me, I have been on an extensive search to find out, but I do know I am happiest when helping someone in need. But in the interim, helping myself is not something I feel I need to do, in fact, most of the time I forget I am even in the picture. I guess that is the result of being weaned too early from the nurturing you can only get from your mother. You learn to do without.
Lately, I have a hard time just trying make my existence devoid of stress while taking care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually. If only I could just relax and let go of all the fear and worrying about the future. Do all the things I need to do to improve my health and well being, short of becoming a monk. Speaking of monks, I have done enough research to know that meditation is the Karmic gift that keeps on giving, but I just never seem to have the time or patience to master it. It's not like there aren't a million opportunities to pursue it, since I do live in the most metaphysical city in the country. A city that thrives on helping you to be a better person. Where meditation, along with exercise and organic food, is a way of life.
In the next few weeks I am going to do myself a favor and actively pursue how to meditate. Make it a priority, just like I feel my neighbor should. In Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, frivolously traveled to India and Bali to learn inner peace and balance from a master. Fortunately for me, I don't have to go very far at all. I only have to look in my own back yard.
This is a good video on beginning meditation from the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles.
This is my photo trip through Abbot Kinney, the best neighborhood in Southern California, which happens to be in Venice only a few blocks from the beach. It has settled down from the activity of last month's festival and in my opinion, it's the best place to shop, eat and people watch in the whole city. I love the trendy design shops, high-fashion retail and culinary spots such as Lemonade, Gjelina, The Tasting Kitchen and Joe's. You have to love the architecture and the fact that there are no chain stores or restaurants in site. It represents the cross section of Venice Beach, which is like no other place on earth. Named after Abott Kinney, a wealthy tobacco mogul, who tried to make Venice beach culturally reminiscent of Venice, Italy. The original Venice had cannals, gondolas and and a great emphasis on fine art. It didn't quite work out. What really transpired is a casual beach town, the total anthitisis of anything Venetian.
Even though I am not the target demographic, I love, love, love, the television show, Glee. Tonight made me realize we are in a long term, if not complicated, relationship. I get frustrated by the copious amount of cast members, all over-the-place story lines, and outlandish plots. But this episode reminded me of why I got involved in the first place.
This was definitely the best episode to date and made me realize that not all television is mindless. You can have an intelligent comedy, that actually causes you to think, while escaping reality. You can mix sweet with sour, humor with sadness and have impressive results.
This was a fresh approach to religion, engaging opposing views in a respectful, open minded, non-judgmental fashion. How amazing would it be if people acted that way in real life? All I know is that everyone deals with spirituality in their own way, and no one person has the answer. I've always been under the impression that religion is the means to comfort and be comforted. Not an excuse to hate.
I cried my way through Kurt's ordeal with his father, and his touching rendition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand". I felt uplifted when Mercedes and the Gospel Choir sang "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." I was touched by the softer side of Sue. I laughed at the Grilled Cheesus. This is going to be a tough act to follow. Thank you Glee, for the impact tonight's episode had on me. It will stay with me for quite a while. If it weren't so corny, I would say you restored my faith!
The temperature has dropped fifty degrees in Los Angeles since last week and we had the first rain of the season. As always, the city was paralyzed with accidents, power outages and rampant depression. I was at a friend's house and as we looked outside, we spotted this spider web adorned with rain drops. The sun never came out to dry up all the rain, so who knows where the spider went. Hopefully inside where it was dry.
Since it is officially fall, I wanted to post some pictures on my blog, but unfortunately, the only signs of autumn I have found in Southern California, were at the Pottery Barn store in Santa Monica. It was a hundred degrees outside last week, but once inside the store, the leaves were changing, bats were flying and all the vegetables turned into candles.
This is a very special month for me since this time last year I started on my journey of battling breast cancer. I am trying to tell every woman I know to have a mammogram. Luckily for me, about ten of my friends had one this year in my honor. That is better than them having one in memory of me. I am so glad to be alive and even thought I have been through hell this past year, I am looking forward to the future and many years of happiness.