Monday, August 31, 2009


After a summer rain, a garden sparkles, don't you think? The morning dew makes everything feel fresh and alive. Sunday morning, the sky was still gray, but the weathermen assured us the sun would eventually come out of hiding. I was holding tight to that promise.

I grabbed my kitchen scissors and headed out to the garden. My herb and vegetable garden is very special to me (but that's a topic for another post). A family gathering had me cooking all day yesterday, and I enjoyed the variety of aromas that sprang up out of the pots and pans. Many of the fresh herbs growing in my herb garden, including basil, parsley, rosemary, and chive, found their way into a few of the dishes - quinoa salad, leek and mushroom sauce, and bulgur and bean vegi burgers. (No, I wasn't cooking Italian for this gathering - strictly vegetarian.) Soon, many of those precious friends will return to the earth, and I will need to rely on the dried herbs in my cupboard.

The herb I treasure most is basil. There's no rational explanation for these kind of things - I just love the taste and the scent. I'm reminded of my childhood, and the volumes of basil my dad would grow. Maybe my love for pesto has something to do with it, too. As I gathered the basil leaves, I thought how much I'd love to have basil all year round. That's all I did, just put out the thought that I'd like to find a small basil plant for my sunny kitchen window.

Running an errand this morning, I ran into beautiful, delicate basil plants that were organic, no less. I thought to myself, "That was fast." I sent up a prayer of gratitude - (there's nothing too small or too big for the Creator).

Having the basil plant on my kitchen ledge reminds me of the abundance of our planet, and of our family kitchen I remember as a child. I become still and quiet as I gaze at the green leaves. This aromatic plant opens my heart to the common threads that connect me to my ancestors.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Going through dozens and dozens of family recipes can reveal the likes and dislikes of the women passing them on as well as their quirks. We ran across a recipe for Italian bread from my paternal grandmother. She had given it to my mom shortly after my parents were married. When my mom made the bread, it just didn't turn out right. My mom is an excellent cook, not above average, really excellent. After that, she never pursued bread making because she didn't think she had the knack.

Then one day she was talking to my aunt, and she mentioned that the bread she made using her mother's recipe didn't turn out. My aunt asked my mom for the ingredient list, and she knew what the problem was immediately. My grandmother left out a key ingredient, and my mom didn't realize it. According to my mom, she was notorious for either leaving out an ingredient or giving the wrong quantities of ingredients, just to be sure her bread, cookies, lasagna, pizza, etc., etc. was better than anyone elses. Once my mom included the secret ingredient, success!

We laughed about it and shook our heads as we rummaged through the box of family recipes. Ah, family. If you believe that everyone in your life acts like a mirror for your best and worst traits, then this was a great lesson about withholding - withholding information, love, affection, generosity, kindness, to name a few. I can think of time and time again when it would have been easy enough to extend myself in word or deed, and I chose not to. Interesting how a simple memory can lead to a moment of self-reflection and greater awareness.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


The rain is coming down hard. As I sit here writing the introduction, the cookbook has me conjuring scenes in my head of what it must have been like to live in America as an imigrant in the late 19th century. As I think of the stories my mom has told me about her grandparents, I get this feeling inside me about my own life, and the only word I hear is "modern". I bet my great grandmother believed her life to be "modern" too - she came from rural Italy to the city of Chicago where life's goods were more accessible. I would have loved to know what that experience was really life for her.

There are traditions that survive generation after generation. Some good, and others, well, not so good. Preserving the ones that bring us comfort and keep the family spirit alive are important. I've always felt the absolute necessity to take the traditions in my own family and make them my own. I don't live in the 19th century, and I'm not a product of that time. My life is here, now. What began many generations before me can still have life, but now I'm breathing life into it, and it looks and feels like me.

Some people don't like progress or change. Some believe changing tradition wipes out the memories or dishonors the loved ones that went before. But movement is the way of Life. I need to hear my own voice amongst the voices of the past. I can hold my beloveds close, and still remain free to express my own truth.

What I love about this cookbook - four generations of women's voices are heard. Each generation expressing the truth of the time. And, our voices are in harmony.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Catching Fire

There's an off Broadway musical playing in New York city called Rock of Ages. This love story/musical, set to 1980's rock music, is full of outrageous humor and beautiful voices. Sitting in the third row, I felt as if I was part of the stage. It's an interactive musical - it's like being at a rock concert, so I felt transported back to 1985. (If you have any good memories from the eighties, you'll love this musical).

When the musical was ending, and the performers were singing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, I had a rush of gratitude and inspiration well up inside me. The audience was on their feet, singing and clapping wildly. As I write this, I can take myself back to that moment of feeling the overwhelming joy and love these actors and actresses have for their art - it was palpable.

On the train, on the way home, I sat quietly thinking about what a gift those performers gave me, and everyone else in the theatre. There are good reasons we need each other - to see what is possible when the human spirit is engaged, to be inspired by another person's passion and joy, and to have the mundane human experience transformed into a spiritual one.

The enthusiasm I felt from the Rock of Ages performers created a spark inside me, and I caught fire. A creative fire that, ultimately, I am responsible for keeping lit. The creative process doesn't occur in a bubble. I am influenced by the entire human family's feelings and thoughts. One of my deepest desires - to be surrounded by people doing what they love, passionately & joyfully. This is a way to transform our lives and our world.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Do you find yourself daydreaming about what you'll do on your next day off? For me, I have my little "companions" that accompany me wherever I go - my writing projects. Since I see them as my companions, they aren't bothersome, annoying, or intrusive. In fact, I find their presence quite comforting. When time opens up, I will either write to keep the projects evolving or simply maintain that space of possibility around them. I visualize how each book will look once completed, or see myself signing them for eager buyers. Right now, I'm focused on the cookbook. What I realized long ago is that I don't really write the book - it writes itself through me. Big difference.

Many times, I refer to these projects as if they are people. But that's the point. How we are in relationships shows up in how we relate to our dreams, goals, and everyday adventures. The cookbook and the other writing projects on my list have a unique energy. I approach them as unique beings, and I find that in doing so, various aspects of my personality show up. I still find this amazing and am taken by surprise each time this happens.

For example, the writing of this cookbook is brining out the nurturer in me. I find that I'm cooking more than usual. Suddenly, I'm wanting to have dinner parties and host luncheons. I have also tuned into my nostalgic side, becoming interested in my family tree and wondering about life in 19th century Italy. When I was writing the yoga book, I found myself meditating more, becoming more introspective (if that's possible), and relishing my contemplative side.

My friends have always come in many different packages - some young, some old, all of varying spiritual beliefs, and of many races. And, I've been fortunate to have male friends (both gay and straight). Each friend provides me with the space to express my uniqueness. Some bring out the humor in me, others the reflective side. Some allow me the space to dance and sing, while others encourage my intellectual nature. The same is true for my book projects. They are my companions as well, helping me to birth my whole self, in a balanced and joyful way. They bring out a deeper humanity within me - their energy puts me in touch with a universal heart that is present for all of us.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I never saw myself as a street performer, but since I started seriously writing I've become a world class juggler. Women, in general, are pros at family management, and when personal dreams are added to the mix, that's just one more piece of the puzzle to fit together.

The artist who is doing the cover design for the cookbook is the daughter of a dear friend. Her name is Gwen. I don't know if I would have found her otherwise, and she is perfect for this project. The vision for the cover surfaced effortlessly, and Gwen saw it too, because her drawing captures the very spirit of the book. That's one of the joys of self publishing - so many possibilities exist for creating every aspect of this work. For some, this may seem overwhelming, but I love managing the details. We live in a world where possibilities for publishing and writing are endless.

Until recently, accessing the endless possibilities inherent to the human experience felt outside of my personal space. I saw the possibilities out there, but seeing them wasn't enough. There was something still missing. The key was acknowledgment and acceptance. Acknowledging my personal power and accepting the truth of that power. Not ego based power, but one born out of the inherent divinity in all beings. This is empowerment. This level of acceptance has allowed me to view the possibilities for my life, not from a worldly perspective, but from a spiritual perspective that is deeply personal. This has led to less self judgment and more self acceptance.

Ahhhh, (big sigh) more acceptance, less resistance opens a world of possibilities.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All in a Day's Work

What I would consider a good day's work when I was in my twenties is no longer true for me now. My energy and willingness are nearly the same (of which I'm grateful), and I'm even more inspired these days then a decade or two ago. What has changed is my definition of work. I once had a friend say to me, "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you need to or have to." You see, I am a very capable person. Being capable is sometimes really boring. Somewhere in my childhood, my imagination and the right side of my brain decided to take a long life's nap.

My imagination was dormant for most of my adult years. About five years ago, I began seriously meditating. It was at this time that I started to feel my imagination muscles begin to flex. Periods of quiet and stillness seemed to be freeing the creative process within me. In fact, inspiration was coming at 3:00 o'clock in the morning, every night. I felt compelled to get up and write because if I didn't - the muse was gone.

Now, inspiration isn't always birthed through meditation. It's different for everyone. What I see now as a good day's work is anything from visualizing the cover of my book, its every detail, to actually sitting at the computer and writing a chapter. Of course, I try to write everyday, just a word or two, but sometimes that's not what wants to come. Sometimes it's okay to just hold a space for the work to birth itself. Then when I do sit to write, it flows with greater ease.

I understand now about creating a space for my imagination to roam freely, explore and have fun. That's what I'm doing now with this cookbook and all my projects. Here's to another good day's work.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Adding another project to my list... Oh, but wait, the project has been on my list for the last several years; it's just been moved to the front of the line. A cookbook. I know. Does the world really need another cookbook? But this one is really personal. An Italian cookbook that hopes to preserve some of the best memories of my mother's family. It's just too easy to reject family, and focus on their seemingly endless number of sins. Instead, I intend to honor their strength and fortitude by documenting one skill they clearly mastered - cooking and sharing their bounty with others. A little more acceptance, and a little less resistance is my new motto. Opening to every possibility within me, some influenced by my genes, and others out there in the ethers.

My mom is involved in the process. I'm counting on her to help me document the recipes - what she's calling "homework". This adds some anxiety as we have different approaches to accomplishing this goal. Her's timeless, mine urgent. This urgency has been with me all my life. I'd like to blame turning 40, but that was 4 years ago.

I once had an astrologer tell me that I was born just before the new moon. She said those of us born at this time have an urgency about life in general. Like time is going to run out, and that's how I feel most of the time. Like doing it yesterday is best. I immediately put my arms around that - accepted her explanation without looking back. That's funny as I think about it now. Maybe that explains why I woke up at midnight with Celine Dion's version of I Drove All Night playing in my head. Why wait 'til morning, when you can drive all night?

So, until the cookbook is finished, I'll be here.