Monthly Archives: February 2012


If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.  ~Author Unknown

image from

Lately, I’ve evaluated how I “spend” my time vs. how I want to.

Isn’t it odd that we measure time in units of value?

How did you spend your day off?

Oh man, I wasted a whole hour!

But I digress.

Over the past year, I’ve examined my life and made a conscious effort to make room for what matters to me.   The energy vampires are (mostly) gone and instead, I’ve added a few battery chargers to my circle.

I’ve cleared out the clutter in my life so I can do what’s important.

I’ve stopped maintaining relationships that aren’t healthy.  Doing so has made more room for the ones that are.

I’ve gone to bed earlier, and looked better,  than the results any diet ever delivered.

I’ve faced fears, spoken up and taken on new things; these efforts have energized me more than any $100 skin care product possibly could.

I’ve learned that saying no  translates into a big, fat YES… for me.

I’ve learned how very satisfying is is to raise my own price-point.

How about you?  Do you depend on others to raise your price?  Are you in the process of change?  How do you feel about it? 

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | 50 Comments

The pain of not knowing

I received word tonight of a colleague’s terminal diagnosis. Of how they’re not discussing treatment.   Of how there are no months or years, just days.

We’re not close, we’ve never even met. But I like her. She’s kind, responsive, and possesses a crisp New England accent that makes me both smile and pay attention when I hear it.

I envisioned her as tall and willowy. I don’t even know if that’s true.

I wish we’d met.

I wish I knew how I’ll grieve someone I never quite knew.

It’s like that, isn’t it?

Working, blogging, connecting.  We form ‘relationships’ with people we don’t know; we grow to count on them and they on us.  We learn the inflection in their laugh, how they sign their emails a particular way, and the sorts of things we differ on.  We learn who they are without ever meeting.

Her name is Susan.

And I am struggling to understand how not knowing her can make me weep even more.

“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Categories: Faith, Friendship, Grief, Growth, Life, Personal, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

The Spark

I read an interview with four contributors to the Oprah magazine. Each were asked the same questions; their answers made me think about how I’d respond if I were asked. So … on that, here we go …

I’m most creative … when I’m cooking.

If I were a color, I’d be … Turquoise!

I often imagine myself … in the country.

I really wish I knew how to … stick to an exercise program for more than 2 weeks.

I’d love to spend a lazy Sunday … cooking, reading, blogging & singing.  Read my best day for more.

I’m most excited about … Voting this Tuesday; who will win Michigan? 

My secret talent is … remembering song lyrics/artists. 

What sparks your creativity?

 Your turn; how would you answer?

Categories: Attitude, Fun, Home, Joy, Life, Quotes, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | 31 Comments

On detours

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.  ~Author Unknown

I’m deviating from my path by taking tomorrow off.   I’ll get all my weekend “to-dos” done in the wee hours of the morning but mostly, mostly I want a day without conference calls, meetings and a lot of other people.  A day tucked up next to the weekend; a day that’s mine.  I’ll putz, I’ll clean, I’ll read, and I’ll play.  Friday night with find me hanging with the hubbs and by Saturday morning, I’ll be up early again, happily prepping for the small dinner party we’re hosting that night.  It will very closely resemble my best day. Because all of the weekend chores will be done, I’ll have given myself the gift of extra time to putter in the kitchen,  stirring and sauteing, sampling and assembling all of the delicious foods I’m serving, some for the first time.

There are work colleagues who’ll question why I’d “burn” a vacation day to do things such as this and my answer, as always, is “because I can.”   They don’t get it and that’s fine. I do. And I’m smiling as I write this.

When’s the last time you deliberately detoured from your path?

Categories: Attitude, Family, Fun, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Personal, Self Discovery | Tags: , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Savoring the Honey Jar

Today I am cashing in on a treat I’ve held back enjoying until now:  a massage gift card Hubbs gave to me at Christmas-time.

I’ve been tempted to indulge sooner but put it off because of illness and and a stretch of grey, uninspired days that ran into weeks.

Instead, I’ve saved it for now – for that time in winter when something delicious  to look forward to is welcomed.   I’ve saved it because sometimes anticipating something wonderful is nearly as much fun as experiencing it.

I’ve decided today’s the day.


Because it’s Tuesday, a “nothing special” kind of day. Yes, there is work to be done, both at home and in the office but there’s also a fridge full of Sunday’s leftovers and nothing pressing on my event horizon.

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to my “hot stone massage,” in a soothing spa permeated with natural lavender and staffed by people who whisper.  (In my family of mostly men, no one whispers naturally). I’ll leave work a little early, arrive with a smile and step into a dim room illuminated only by a starred ceiling. I’ll sip my chamomile tea, slip into a heated cotton robe and relish the soft sounds of woodsy gongs, chimes and waterfalls.  I’ll feel like a girl .. a girlie girl who whispers.  I’ll very likely fall asleep and there’s a good chance I’ll snore or reveal family secrets.    I’ll ooh and ahh as my sore muscles and computer neck get worked over and afterwards, I’ll greet the fatigue that arrives as my tender limbs announce their existence.  I’ll drive home and pour myself into the comfiest clothes I own, have a chat with my  guys and later, later I’ll sleep the sleep dreams are jealous of.

 * * *

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think.  Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.  ~A.A. Milne

image from

What have you savored lately?

Categories: Beauty, Gratitude, Humor, Joy, Life, Personal, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 40 Comments


Today I will get some exercise.

I will read .. a lot.

I will stretch.

I will laugh.

I will play.

I will give love to my loves.

I might even nap.

And I will be thankful.

What are you up to today?

No kitties were harmed in this post; all images from

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Life | Tags: , , , | 29 Comments

Say with me …

“Life is good.

I have every reason in the world to be happy.

I have one to a thousand reasons to feel good.

Today, I count my blessings. I let the sun shine inside my heart and I see in its light the dazzling beauty that’s within me.

I see my strength, I see my compassion, I see my love, and I see my joy.

I choose to feel connected; I choose to feel alive in this moment and I choose to feel good, happy, and whole.

Everything that’s for my highest good comes my way.

My life is good and I am blessed.”  -Frankie Perez’ MindGym

"There are two ways of being rich. One is to have all you want, the other is to be satisfied with what you have." -anonymous.

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 17 Comments

Why (your) change is hard … on others

When we change, we force others to change, too.

Think about it – if someone depends on you to be  who you’ve always been (fill in the blanks: the cooperator, the yielder, the organizer, etc) and you hit the brakes and shift directions, they’re forced to shift, too.  They can no longer be who they’ve been all along (unorganized, irresponsible, insulting or immature).

When we stop being a doormat to someone demanding because it’s just “easier” than standing up for ourselves,  they’re forced to look for new places to wipe their feet.

When we stop redirecting conversations because we’re scared where someone aggressive will take it, we teach them to choose their words more carefully.

When we stop doing for everyone else because we think that’s where the love is, we learn … to start loving ourselves.

There are some relationships that cannot withstand change.

When one continues to develop and grow and another remains just where they were (listen for the words, “I’m happy with where/who I am), conflict can erupt.  Expect to be challenged. Why? Because witnessing another taking positive steps forward often creates feelings of having to keep up … and they may not want to. They might want things to stay just how they are: easy.

This occurs in personal and professional relationships.

Who’s holding you back? Who’s challenging you to stay as you are?  Whose life would be easier if you stayed static?

If you’re in a time of change (losing weight,  gaining confidence, learning to say “no,” trying out new things) consider this: when someone comments that “you’ve changed,” what they really mean to say is this: you’ve stopped living your life their way.

“You are now at a crossroads.

This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make.

Forget your past.  Who are you now?

Who have you decided you really are now?

Don’t think about who you have been.

Who are you now?

Who have you decided to become?

Make this decision consciously.

Make it carefully.

Make it powerfully.

Make it.”

– Anthony Robbins

*Thank you to my friend Renee at Writing Feemail for her many words of wisdom on my blog — her comments on a past post bubbled back up in my collective thoughts and she, in turn, inspired this post.

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjust the sails. - William A. Ward. Image:


Categories: Attitude, Family, Friendship, Growth, Life, Opinion, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 43 Comments

On balance

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein.

image from

Where’s your path headed today?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Friendship, Joy, Life, News, Quotes, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | 31 Comments

What I would tell her

What I would tell her, that curly haired teenager .. is that love, real love, doesn’t exist anywhere in the vicinity of hometown boys with pickup trucks.

What I would tell her, that determined college girl … is that love, real love,  is rarely found after 2:00 a.m.

What I would tell her, that young wife with a roustabout husband and a child to raise, is that real men will take any job they can to care for their own and that this one .. this one is not real and never was.

What I would tell her, that newly single parent .. is that those chubby three year old arms offer plenty enough affection and that being alone is far better than what came right before it.

What I would tell her, that 20 something woman with a career and a grip on life, is to trust her instincts when she meets someone wonderful.

What I would tell her, that gun-shy girl, is that when she meets someone who feels like home, she’ll know.  She’ll know when she realizes she can be exactly who she is when they’re together. Not changing a thing. And that he loves her just the way she is.

What I would tell her, is that when real love finds her, she’ll watch her five year old fall in love first.  Then she’ll know it’s safe for her to do the same.

That’s what I would tell her, if I could have a chat with my younger self; I would tell her that butterflies are worth waiting for and to never, ever settle.

For more, read  It Had to Be You.

 *  *  *

“Some people are settling down, some people are settling and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.” – Carrie Bradshaw,  Sex and the City.

image courtesy of

Categories: Faith, Joy, Life, Love, Men, News, Relationships, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

TLC Chicken Spaghetti

There are many versions of this recipe out there but this is mine, adapted from one I found at Taste of Home.  Our boys added the “TLC” moniker, an abbreviation for the “tender,  loving care” they claim is baked “right in.”

TLC Chicken Spaghetti is a “go-to” dish to bring to the bereaved, give to the recovering or drop off to new parents. It’s easy for a family or a party of one to enjoy; it warms up just as well in the middle of the night or for lunch the next day. But what you really need to know is this: it’s delicious.  The recipe makes a lot but I promise you, this is soul-filling, hearty, warm you-to-your-toes kind of food.  And it’s perfectly paired with a pan of my Game Day Brownies or Magic Pumpkin Spice Cake.

While not low calorie, I have been able to reduce some of the of the fat and salt by using reduced fat and low sodium ingredients and not compromising on the taste.

MJ’s TLC Chicken Spaghetti

*   1 small onion, chopped
*   3 stalks of celery, chopped
*   2 tbsp margarine

*   1 cooked rotisserie chicken (OR 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken)
*   2 ½ cans of low sodium chicken broth
*   1 12 oz package Spaghetti Noodles
*   2 10.5 oz cans Cream Of Chicken Soup (you can use low fat/low sodium)
*   1 10 oz can of Ro*Tel (Diced Tomatoes with Green chile peppers; store brand OK)
*   1- 16oz brick of Velveeta Cheese, cubed (you can use store brand and/or reduced fat)
*   Seasoning to taste – your choice. I use a bit of garlic, seasoning salt, cayenne and Onion Mrs. Dash
*   1 cup shredded cheddar – I like Colby Jack or Sharp Cheddar in this.

chicken spaghetti;

How to prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 1 9×13 pan or 2 8×8 pans (freezes and travels well).

Melt the margarine and saute the celery and onion until tender, about 5 min.  You could substitute a bit of oil here for the margarine, if you wish.

Remove meat from the chicken and tear/cut into bite-sized pieces.  I use both dark and light meats.  You’ll end up with about 2-3 cups of chicken.

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil; break the spaghetti in half and cook to el dente – not soft but not crunchy either (about 7 minutes).  You want the spaghetti to be slightly undercooked for this recipe.   Drain the water from your spaghetti and place the hot spaghetti back into the pot.

Pour chicken broth over the spaghetti and then stir in your sautéed vegetables.
Next, cut Velveeta into cubes and stir into the noodle mixture; the cheese will start to melt. Then pour in the 2 cans of soup (do not add water) + 1 can of tomato/green chiles mixture.  Stir well and add seasoning.

Pour the entire mixture into the pan(s) and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Place pan(s) in the oven for about 25 minutes or until all the cheese is melted on top and the sauce mixture is bubbling slightly.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 min; the sauce will thicken as it stands.

Serve with steamed vegetables, a tossed salad, garlic bread or rolls and drinks of your choice.  Stand back and smile at the accolades sure to come your way!

To freeze:  Prepare casserole as per above.  Let cool completely.  Then cover the unbaked dish with plastic wrap.  Then do it again.  Wrap twice in tinfoil and freeze immediately.  To cook at a later date, remove from freezer and defrost in the fridge (24 hours).  Remove all plastic and foil then bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 -35 minutes.

What are you cooking today?

Categories: Food, Friendship, Home, Random, Recipes, Share | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

My arms hurt

From an afternoon spent in the bookstore and what an excellent adventure it was! One afternoon last week I took some used books to a local book store; setting my books on the counter, I wandered off while the book lady perused my items.  I forgot to pick up a basket and instead carried a stack with me, hence the sore arms.  They elected to buy some books and pass on others and, in the end, I earned myself a sweet $28 store credit (sellers get 20% of the book’s value in cash or 30% in a store credit).


You know what comes next, right?

More books for me!  All totaled, I think I was in the store for 2 hours, but I really don’t know because I lost track of time.   Bookstores do that to me, but I digress.

I wandered. I read. I perused. I laughed and I relaxed.   But … the very best part was finding one older book that I’ve always wanted to read. I’d seen the movie years ago and it has disturbed and intrigued me ever since.

What is it?  “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right ideals have been carried to extremes in the mono-theocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist’s nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money (or read) and are assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the “morally fit” Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: “of Fred”), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. This powerful, memorable novel is highly recommended for most libraries.  Source: Library Journal.

So, today, I can choose to watch the news and listen to politicians rant about contraceptive coverage, health insurance mandates, religious freedom, economic liberty, social issues and birth control.  Or I can pick up this book and read all about it.

One’s fiction, the other isn’t.  Which one’s scarier?

Now that I think about it, my head hurts, too.

Categories: Elections, Life, News, Opinion, Politics, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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