Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday Gift Giving

In very modern times, the Christmas season has changed a lot. For me, personally, the consumerism and materialism of it has become very overwhelming and over recent years I've gradually withdrawn from it. To celebrate in the current and "commercial" way, of purchasing gifts for everyone and their brother, spending money that I don't really have for presents that people don't actually really want or need (or that they could readily and easily buy themselves) and becoming stressed out about it all, while spending time in busy and crowded shopping malls, where I don't actually witness much kindness or Christmas spirit, feels very disingenuous to me and leaves me feeling drained, not happy or particularly generous. Now before people start accusing me of being a Scrooge and shouting "Bah humbug!" at me, let me explain.

When I was in high school, my exceptionally healthy mother, very unexpectedly, suffered a stroke in the week leading up to Christmas. While it took me a few years afterward to finally and to truly understand it more thoroughly and appreciate it in its entirety, I realized that the timing of her stroke was no coincidence. At the time, my mother, then a mother of 10 and a grandmother of 2, was especially busy. Besides being a very busy organist, playing in multiple church services and school productions, was also overextending herself in preparing for the upcoming holiday; besides buying and preparing food for the big party on Christmas day, she was also running around trying to buy presents for all of us (her kids, their spouses and significant others and her grandkids) and ensuring they were all wrapped and that dozens of Christmas cards were in the mail. Did I mention that, at this point, she was already in her 60s and accomplishing all of this ALL ON HER OWN, without any help of any kind?

Holidays such as Christmas, I believe, should be celebrating times of peace, kindness and "goodwill toward men", reaffirming our faith and participating in acts of charity. Instead, Christmas now seems like a time of great stress for many people; very much a burden. Gift giving seems more obligatory than genuine, which to me, defeats the purpose of the season and the true origin and meaning of the day is completely lost. And you know what? We brought this on ourselves; we created this. We took a Christian day and made it into something very secular that promotes materialism over the spiritual. But we don't have to participate in that kind of Christmas anymore. We can choose to go back to our roots and celebrate Christmas in the way that feels most authentic to us and leaves us feeling peaceful and connected to others and to our Higher Power. We shouldn't allow clever and relentless marketing or feelings of guilt or peer pressure, bully us into participating in a holiday, in a way that doesn't feel good to us.

If you genuinely enjoy giving Christmas gifts, no one says you have to stop doing that. But consider giving something different, more meaningful, something that cannot be bought in a store, such as . . . . .

Time is the great equalizer. Time is a finite commodity. It's valuable, alright, but you can never trade it on the Stock Exchange. Each person is given 24 hours in a day; what we choose to do with those 24 hours determines the quality of our life. Have you thought about giving someone the precious gift of your time? A son or daughter may soon forget about that video game or that DVD that they received once it is no longer popular, but how long will they remember that weekend you spent together, where you had long heart-to-heart talks, reminisced and really enjoyed each others company? Another great way to gift your time is by volunteering for a cause you believe in. How do you feel when your friend opens that present that you got them? It is a fleeting joy that pretty much ends in a day or two. But imagine how you will feel when you spend time volunteering for a charity, working to create opportunities and happiness for people who are less fortunate. That joy, that sense of humanity, does not evaporate; it stays with you and reverberates where ever you go. An even better idea? Bring someone with you; a friend, a colleague, a family member. Make it an experience for the both of you, while making it an experience for the other people you are helping, to make an even greater impact. Anyone can send off a check to a charity or even donate online (what could be easier!), which is wonderful, but to give of your time is an even more generous contribution.

A sort of running joke with my mother was the perpetual question she was asked "Ma, what do you want for your birthday?" or "Ma, what do you want for Christmas?" or "Ma, what do you want for Mother's Day?". And what was Ma's perpetual answer?

"Peace and quiet."

Except, of course, this was not really a joke. Genuinely, that was what she wanted. (And I think she still might actually be waiting for it!) But as kids or teenagers, how could we give her that? I'm sure none of us realized how earnest her answer was, until we had matured and could really appreciate where she was coming from. Instead, we continued to give her more trinket boxes than she could ever use, more pajamas and slippers and more and more Heaven Scent perfume and Jean Nate. But now, as an adult, I realize how important, how vitally important, alone time and quiet time is. This is when we can stop, breathe, check in with ourselves and be on our own agendas and not be on everyone else's. "Me Time" is extremely important and most people don't get enough of it, if any at all. How can we recharge our batteries, if we're not allowed to slow down? Giving the gift of an experience to someone can be almost synonymous as giving the gift of time, but think of what else the recipient may get out of this. Do you have a friend who is overwhelmed with the demands of their job and family and running their household? Offering to babysit their children, while they go out and do something that entertains or nurtures them, is a priceless gift. Does your elderly parent have a hard time keeping up with their household chores? Going over and doing their laundry and tidying up, while helping them prepare a meal, while they take a nap or while the two of you chat, can make a world of difference. Never underestimate what a small act of kindness can do for another person's spirit.

Do you want to do a more "grand" gift of experience? Take someone to a show or lecture or to a beautiful place you want them to see (maybe a garden or to a stargazing observatory perhaps). Creating experiences and sharing them is what memories are made of. On their deathbed, does a person reminisce about that cool computer gadget they received? Or do they talk about that day you went to the lake and saw the beautiful swans and the baby ducklings and ate a picnic lunch?

Still want to buy a tangible, wrappable gift that someone can open up in front of you? Well, how about a gift of inspiration? Is there a book, magazine, music or movie that has inspired you? How about sharing that with someone else who might also be inspired by it? Pay it forward, as the saying goes. One of the favorite gifts I've ever given to someone was a book that I created myself. I took many inspirational quotes, poems and stories, paired them with art that I liked and created a book on my computer. I printed it myself, then brought it to a printer to be professionally bound and had the front and back covers laminated, to strengthen it and increase it's durability and longevity.

As already mentioned, this is the time of year to consider being more charitable. Instead of spending money on a gift for someone who could afford to buy it themselves (and who probably has more material possessions than they know what to do with), why not spend that money on someone who does not have the same opportunities and resources that we do? Giving money in your own name, or in the name of someone else as a gift (or anonymously) is always a good choice. There are so many charities, doing great work, that always need help; whether it's a local agency in your community or a national or international non-profit, working to help people, animals, the environment. Think about this: who needs your gift more? Your cousin who lives comfortably in a 3-bedroom home on an acre of land in a safe community, making $100K a year? Or the abused, sick refugee in Sudan? Or the AIDS orphan in Kenya? Or the homeless child at The Pine Street Inn shelter?

I hope we can begin to make more mindful choices with our time and with our money, during this season and throughout the New Year. Most people's hearts are in the right place, but our priorities have become mixed up, as we are bombarded with misinformation and our values have changed. Remember, material possessions do not create long lasting happiness or fulfillment the way that love, kindness, generosity, faith and interconnectedness does. Let's create more of the latter in our lives and the abundance that follows will quell our desires for more of the material.

Much peace, love, blessings and good health to all of you in this season and in the New Year!





It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What is Success?

Success can be defined in many ways .... just ask a few people what success means to them and you will get as many different answers. One of the definitions of success that resonates with me is this:

SUCCESS: the progressive realization of a worthy ideal

The most successful people usually didn't get where they are by happenstance. It took time and effort. It requires the act of setting goals and coming up with strategies on how to achieve those goals and overcome the obstacles. It is important to have goals, so that we are always reminded of what we want to achieve and we can measure our progress, by having a timeline and a deadline. And goal setting should encompass all areas of your life. At the Jack Canfield lecture I attended in July (which airs on PBS) he encouraged us to have goals for our finances, our career, our relationships, our health and fitness, our fun and recreation and for our own personal goals, such as learning to play a musical instrument or a foreign language. The final goal, he talked about, was our legacy; our contribution to the world. How did we want to be remembered? How did we want to contribute to the greater good?

Take some time to think about what success means to you and start writing down your goals for all the different areas of your life and commit to living the life you really want. You can have your heart's desire. Anyone who is familiar with Paulo Coelho's famous book, "The Alchemist" knows that when you really want something, the Universe conspires to help you achieve it.

For more motivation, please watch this brief movie called "The Strangest Secret" by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Upcoming Workshops with Kathleen

Are you constantly craving sweets? Would you like to know why? Better yet, would you like to gain control over your sweet tooth and manage your cravings without willpower or deprivation? Then register for one of my informative (and fun!) Sugar Solutions Workshop. With the upcoming holiday season approaching fast, why not learn some new strategies now to keep your sweet tooth at bay, while still enjoying the holiday festivities and avoiding weight gain? Space is limited, so please sign up with me today. Oh, and the best part? These workshops are FREE!

Thursday, November 15, 2007 6:00 PM

"Sugar Solutions" Workshop at Healthworks Back Bay, corner of Stuart Street & Dartmouth Street, Boston. Accessible by Green Line (Copley) and Orange Line (Back Bay Station).

Monday, December 3, 2007 6:00 PM

"Sugar Solutions" Workshop at Shape Up Personal Training Studio, 111 1/2 Inman Street, Inman Square, Cambridge. Accessible by multiple bus lines, including CT2 and 1. Approximately 15-minute walk from Central Square T. For more information regarding personal trainer extraordinaire and the founder of Shape Up Personal Training, Jess Perkins, please visit her site by clicking HERE.

Please pre-register for all workshops, by contacting Kathleen. SPACE IS LIMITED. Remember, these are free events!

If you would like me to give a workshop at your company or to your organization or group, please contact me at or 617.909.0328 ~ many topics available!

Friday, November 2, 2007

444 Days

According to my "Bush's Last Day" countdown clock (which was a gift I received from my sister back in January) there are 444 days left in Bush's presidency. For approximately 75% of Americans, this is 444 days too many. According to the most recent poll, Bush's approval rating is a mere 25%. This record low, polled in October 2007 ties with July 2007 - more results (and detailed information) can be found by CLICKING HERE.

I've never been a fan of complaining, without taking action. We can lament all we want about our government, our leaders and public policy. But, like the saying goes, unless we are part of the solution, we are part of the problem. So, if we don't like something, how can we, as citizens, change it? Are we powerless? Is the saying, "You can't fight City Hall" really true?

One of the most powerful ways to contribute as a citizen is by voting. Voting at the polls every election, of course, but also by voting with our consumer dollars. Every purchase you make can either contribute to the greater good or to the further breakdown of our economy or our society. Purchasing goods made in America using American materials, purchasing local produce cultivated by local farmers, purchasing items made by workers who are being treated fairly and being paid a living wage (whether in this country or a foreign country), purchasing products that are made without the use of toxic chemicals or harmful carcinogens and buying products that do not harm animals or the environment are just a few examples. And what about investing our money? Instead of investing in funds that we know nothing about, that typically invest in weaponry (think: war) or dangerous agricultural practices or only serve to perpetuate slavery, war and exploitation in underdeveloped nations, how about investing in some of the "green funds" that promote socially responsible and conscious investing?

And what about other ways we can contribute to society and lobby for change? How about contacting your state representatives, senators, mayor and governor about issues that you care about? Phoning and writing in is often referred to as being an "armchair lobbyist" and I am a big fan of it. When is the last time, if ever, that you contacted one of these people? Remember, they work for you. Whether you voted them into office or not, they won the election and now represent YOU. Make the most of that! Even simply writing a Letter to the Editor of any newspaper or magazine that you read can create an impact. So many people have strong opinions about various articles they read, but never think to actually respond to them in writing.

Be an active part of your community, get involved and raise awareness! One of my favorite quotes is by Margaret Mead:

"Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

If you're part of the 75% of polled Americans who don't like what George Bush's administration is doing, then be sure to commit to educating yourself and others about the the candidates for the 2008 presidential election, get involved in the issues and support the campaign of the person you think can best do the job. If we don't learn from our past - and present - history, we are doomed to repeat it.

444 days and counting.............. January 20, 2009 we eagerly await you

For information about socially responsible investing, go to PAX WORLD MUTUAL FUNDS.

To learn about divestment and if your investment firm is funding the genocide in Darfur, please CLICK HERE.

For presidential candidate debates, go to YOU TUBE'S YOU CHOOSE CHANNEL.

Take action now to save Darfur

Cruelty-Free Investing

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One Degree of Separation

Watching the Red Sox victory on television on Sunday night and then standing amongst the crowd on Boylston Street in the Back Bay Fens at noon yesterday, watching the "Rolling Rally" of Red Sox players and their families, along with Red Sox coaches, managers, owners and other staff wave to the crowds and shoot confetti into the air, one couldn't help but feel pure joy and exhilaration. The positive energy in the city was more than apparent and the genuine happiness people felt reverberated throughout the day. It was cause for celebration! And for the most part, it really brought out the best in people. Seeing people come together was actually very touching.

But it also got me thinking. What separates the winners from the losers? What decides who revels in victory and who wallows in the despair of defeat? Well, as anybody who follows sports can tell you, sometimes what separates the winner from the loser is less than one second; think of an Olympic race, whether it be swimming, biking or running. The difference in time between the Gold, Silver and Bronze and the competitors who receive no medal at all, is usually very little.

You can use this analogy in life as well. What factor decides who gets the promotion and who doesn't? What factor decides who wins the bid and who doesn't? What determines who wins the scholarship and who doesn't? Sometimes, the difference is just one small thing, that makes the big difference. That is why it is important to always do our best. If we truly want something, genuinely want it, then the Universe will conspire to help us achieve it. But we do have to work for it. We must put forth our best effort. We can't slack off, then expect a big payoff. Big effort, big results. Whenever you're working toward something you really want, remember this:


As the following 2-minute movie will demonstrate, at 211 degrees, water is merely hot. But at 212 degrees, water is BOILING. One degree, big difference!


For photos from the Red Sox's Rolling Rally through the streets of Boston CLICK HERE

For more inspirational movies CLICK HERE

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Positive People Day

Who knew that tomorrow was Positive People Day? Nancy Purbeck of Boston founded this idea 10 years ago and every year on October 29th, she and her band of volunteers spread the word, starting at dawn, at the very busy South Station train terminal in Downtown Boston, where an average of 60,000+ commuters pass through each morning.

Ms. Purbeck describes, "It's a springboard for everyone in the city of Boston and beyond to spread kindness, to swap it for negativity. Without kindness, there is violence." Her goal? "Well, it's not always about changing attitudes. It's just the simple act of doing something positive. I'd like to say we're really hoping people make a commitment to kindness, but not everyone's on top of their daily stress. I know that. This is not a club for people who know how to feel cheerful. It's advocacy for people to reach out to others who need a little bit of help." And what about their mascot? You'll never guess who it is! CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Meanwhile, please commit to participating in "Positive People Day" on October 29th and spread the word! Now what about their mascot?


Thursday, October 11, 2007

12th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

One of my favorite annual traditions is coming soon and I am so excited about it! What is it, you ask? None other than the Vegetarian Food Festival that is held by the venerable Boston Vegetarian Society. Now in its twelfth year, the Vegetarian Food Festival is the biggest event of its kind in New England and its popularity continues to grow. Although it is a vast resource for vegans and vegetarians, people practicing all different types of diet are encouraged to attend! You need not be vegetarian. If you are looking to incorporate more healthy and diverse plant-based foods in diet, this is a great place to start. If you consider yourself an environmentalist or simply want to learn how you can try to "go green" or reduce your carbon footprint, find out how a plant-based diet impacts the Earth by attending the festival.

The festival includes:
  • 100 exhibitors
  • free food sampling
  • cooking demonstrations by noted chefs
  • educational exhibits
  • cookbook authors and publishers
  • children's activities
  • restaurants
  • food producers with their healthy products, freebies & coupons
  • natural grocers
  • information on animal welfare & environmentalism
  • top national speakers (movers & shakers!)
  • free parking / free admission / T stop right there!

Of the seven noted speakers presenting on October 20th, the most I am most excited about this year is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She is the founder and director of Compassionate Cooks, a columnist for one of my favorite magazines, Veg News and is a contributor to NPR. Additionally, Colleen does an amazing podcast for Compassionate Cooks, Vegetarian Food for Thought, of which I am an enthusiastic subscriber. (Her podcast is accessible via iTunes for free.) Will I see you at the Vegetarian Food Festival this year? Mark your calendar! Colleen Patrick-Goudreau speaks at 3:00 PM. For a list of other speakers and for more information regarding the festival at the Reggis Lewis Athletic Center in Roxbury/Boston, click here

Boston Vegetarian Society, Welcome to Bean Town

Monday, October 8, 2007

Another Way to Meet Your Meat

Anyone who's attended one of my workshops or met with me for an individual consultation, knows how I feel about food labels and food ingredients. If you cannot pronounce an ingredient or cannot identify what it is (and especially if the food has multiple chemical ingredients that you've never heard of) why would you feel comfortable eating it? Eating food is a very intimate experience; every time you eat, you are choosing to put something into your body, which ideally, should nourish you. But so often, these food choices that include processed ingredients and refined sugar and flour do not provide nutrients; they actually create a deficiency in the body. This makes your body have to work harder to digest the food and in the end, instead of receiving nutrients like vitamins or minerals, your body has actually lost stored values of these nutrients because the refined sugar and flour has no goodness associated with it (no fiber, no minerals, no vitamins at all). So instead of providing any benefit, these actually deplete the body of good things, including energy.

And what about meat? Well, meat contains other added ingredients besides just the animal flesh itself. Sometimes you will find this listed on the label and other times you will not. And a good example of this is processed meat, like sausages and packaged deli meat. For an interesting and eye-opening look at what exactly you're consuming when choosing these kinds of meat products, I encourage to check out this informative photo show, by clicking:
Mystery Meat Macrophotography

Friday, September 28, 2007

Events.... Mark Your Calendar!

Here are some upcoming events that I think are noteworthy and urge you to consider participating in . . . . . . .

September 29 (Saturday) 10 AM - 8 PM
Spirit of Change Holistic Health Expo & Celebration in Sturbriddge, MA
Website: Click Here for Spirit of Change

October 3 (Wednesday) 7:15 PM - 8:00 PM
Sugar Solutions Workshop, presented by Kathleen (me!) at Coogans in Downtown Boston
Website: Click Here for My Events Page

October 20 (Saturday) 10 AM - 6 PM
Boston Vegetarian Food Festival at Reggie Lewis Athletic Center, Roxbury/Boston
Website: Click Here for BVS

October 27 & 28 (Saturday 4 PM, Sunday 4 PM & 7 PM)
Jack Canfield's Secret Law of Attraction plays on WGBH, Channel 2 in Boston
This past July I was fortunate enough to attend this live taping in Boston with master motivational speaker, Jack Canfield. This lecture is inspiring and practical; allowing you to learn how to apply basic principles to achieve your goals. I thought it was wonderful and highly recommend you watch it!
Website: Click Here for WGBH

November 4 (Sunday) 9 AM - 5 PM
Holistic Expo in Waltham, MA
Website: Click Here for Center for Balance

November 15 (Thursday) 6 PM - 7 PM
Sugar Solutions Workshop, presented by Kathleen (me!) at Healthworks in Back Bay/Boston ~ learn how to curb your sweet tooth and gain control over your cravings!
Website: Click Here for My Events Page

To everyone who participated in "Car Free Day" last Saturday 9/22, Mother Earth thanks you! And remember, you can continue to leave a softer carbon footprint by pledging more car free days every month. Instead of driving your own car, try carpooling, public transportation or walking or biking, whenever possible!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Could One Conversation Change your Life?

Have you been wanting to...

  • improve your eating habits?
  • feel confident in choosing and preparing better food for yourself?
  • experience a remarkable increase in your energy & vitality?
  • stop your cravings and binges?
  • feel better in your body and achieve your ideal weight?
  • experience an increase in overall happiness in your life?

Well, as a Holistic Health Counselor, I am your personal advocate for living an energized and passionate life. Whatever your concerns are, my job is to help you find which food and lifestyle choices will work best for you and the life you desire. When diet changes, everything changes.

My philosophy is that a true holistic approach to life incorporates things that nourish you other than food, including honest and open relationships, a meaningful spiritual practice, a career that inspires you, and physical activity that you enjoy. These elements are called Primary Food. As a Holistic Health Counselor, I will work with you to help you find balance in both Primary Foods and the foods you eat on a daily basis.

Could one conversation change your life?
I invite you to a free initial consultation to discuss your health history, your concerns and goals, as well as what you have always imagined for your life. This free, one-hour session is a great way for you to get a feel for how I work with clients, and to see if we are a good match. There is no obligation, so I welcome you to consider having this conversation. It could very well be a turning point in your life. Are you in?

Please contact me today at 617.909.0328 or I am very passionate about helping people reach their goals and I am confident I can help you live the life you truly want.

Your BEST life is waiting..............

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Across the Universe...... See This Movie Now!

SEE THIS MOVIE! I give it 5 stars, just like Roger Ebert. Visually stunning, excellent performers, amazing metaphors, timely message, important. And, well. Beautiful.....

At once gritty, whimsical and highly theatrical, "Across the Universe" is an original movie musical springing from the imagination of renowned director Julie Taymor (Frida, Titus, and the Broadway smash hit musical "The Lion King") and writers Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (The Commitments).

A love story set against the backdrop of the 1960s amid the turbulent years of anti-war protest, mind exploration and rock 'n roll, the film moves from the dockyards of Liverpool to the creative psychedelia of Greenwich Village, from the riot-torn streets of Detroit to the killing fields of Vietnam. The star-crossed lovers, Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), along with a small group of friends and musicians, are swept up into the emerging anti-war and counterculture movements, with "Dr. Robert" (Bono) and "Mr. Kite" (Eddie Izzard) as their guides. Tumultuous forces outside their control ultimately tear the young lovers apart, forcing Jude and Lucy – against all odds – to find their own way back to each other.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Have you Heard of Kiva?

Kiva - loans that change lives

What is Kiva, you ask? Kiva is a unique way to help someone by giving them money to start a business. This is not a donation, see, because they pay the money back to you. It's a loan.

Kiva lets you lend money to a specific budding entrepreneur, in the developing world, which empowers them to lift themselves out of poverty. You remember the saying "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime"? This exemplifies that concept.

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back. You can loan as little as $25 at a time!

Check out their site today!

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Way to Improve You Well Being... IMMEDIATELY!

How can you improve your well-being immediately?

Try a Reiki session to feel better! Your stress and tension will be reduced. You will become deeply relaxed. You can bring this sense of peace and well-being home with you. Relaxation improves your immune response in addition to your mood, so you will feel better on many levels.

What is Reiki, you ask? According to local Reiki Master and Wellness Expert, Joanna Scaparotti, Rei means universal and Ki means vital energy. The word Reiki describes the vital life energy that flows through everything that exists and makes up the energetic field that interconnects all living things.

How can Reiki benefit me, you ask? A Reiki session results in:

- soothed nerves and relief from stress and anxiety
- deep relaxation that encourages a healing response
- increased energy
- increased vitality
- stronger immune response- decreased aches and pains
- deeper, more restful sleep
- quicker recovery from illness
- quicker recovery from injury, surgery and chemotherapy
- awareness and movement of energetic and emotional blockages
- a sense of peace and well-being
- awareness of the inter-connectedness of all living things

Joanna makes an offer that is too good to be refused! On her site she makes the following guarantee:

"In less than an hour, you will feel better or it is free! With only a 30 or 60 minute Reiki session, your well-being is guaranteed to improve. If you don't feel more relaxed and peaceful at the end of your session, you don't pay. Try it risk free. You're worth it! I can help you to relax and rejuvenate. "

Contact Joanna today at 617-429-1793 or You may also read and sign up for her blog and newsletter at

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Attitude of Gratitude

This morning I read a wonderful article about Kym Hampton, a former WNBA professional basketball player who had a 12-year sports career (she played professionally in Europe and Asia, before the WNBA existed and came calling). In addition to her athletic career, Kym is also an accomplished singer, actress and model. Her positive attitude and passion was evident. This is sampling of what she had to say:

Daily Gratitude

"The most important thing I do every day is immediately give thanks as soon as I open my eyes. I say thank you that I can see, that I can hear, that I am pain free - all the things that we can take for granted. It's important to be grateful for where you are and what you have right now. I remind myself that I am a child of God and I was placed here to do wonderful things. I am here to be special. I am here to let my light shine. I also pray and give thanks. I focus on what I have, not what I don't have. That's been my focal point and things have started to turn around for me."

It's All In Your Head... And That's A Good Thing.

"My own lesson is to relax and do your part by being honest with yourself. Once you find something you're passionate about, do your part. Life is mostly mental. We have ideas planted in us - from parents, teachers, friends - and the things we choose to believe about ourselves impact us. Stop with the negative self-talk. Stop with the self-doubting and enjoy who and where you are. Sometimes we need to revisit our thoughts and ask, why am I allowing this in my life? Everything is mental. We have to check ourselves. When you don't feel good you have to face it. When you start to question yourself you'll get answers. We can be better if we choose to be better. When you start to treat yourself better it shows up in all areas of your life. Buy the best stuff for yourself. The way you treat yourself invites people to treat yourself the same way."

I couldn't agree more! Remember, your thoughts become "things".... your thoughts create your reality. If you are thinking negatively, then you're creating a negative environment around you. If you are thinking positively, then you're creating an atmosphere where you are open to receiving all the goodness this world has to offer. Additionally, focusing on what you do have, is key. If you are always focusing on what you don't have, that is negative and results in a sense of lack, frustration and inertia. If you focus on what you do have and express gratitude for it, you open yourself up to more abundance and create a feeling of fulfillment by realizing all the great things that you are already have in your life.

Try to do what Kym does: when you wake up in the morning, take note of all the things in your life that you are grateful for. By making this an everyday practice, I think you will see amazing results.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mark Your Calendar!

Car Free Days (No, that's not a typo!)
During my retreat, the Buddhist brothers and sisters were promoting "car free days".... no, not carefree days, but car free days, where we shun the use of automobiles and instead, utilize more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, such as walking or biking. September 22, 2007 is World Car Free Day.

Every mile you drive your car releases one pound of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere increasing global warming. North America, with almost one car per driving age citizen, releases the most greenhouse gas of any nation. The good news is that you can do something about it. By stopping driving or driving less, you reduce the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. And a change in your driving habits influences others. You lead by example.

For those of us living in urban areas with public transportation and destinations in walking or biking distance, this is relatively easy. For those in remote areas, it can be more challenging. But by car pooling, combining errands and activities into one car ride vs. spread out into several car rides over several days, we can really make a difference!

A message from Thich Nhat Hanh regarding Car Free Days:

"Everyone wants to have their own private car; but with the damage to the atmosphere caused by fuel emissions, our lakes and forests are drying up and the deserts are growing. Every one of us can do something to protect and care for our planet. We have to live in such a way that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren and our own life has to be our message."

For more information, go to and to make a pledge, go to

The Earth will thank you!


Next Tuesday is the 6th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Please consider giving a "gift of life" by donating blood at one of the many Red Cross blood drives being held throughout the country. In Boston, you may donate blood at Fenway Park between 6:00 am - 12:00 pm or at Boston City Hall from 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm. All donors will receive a FREE Red Sox T-shirt and gift bag. Please mark your calendar and commit to donating blood. It is urgently needed. For more information, go to or call 1-800-GIVE-BLOOD.

Thank You!

Friday, August 31, 2007

The 11th Hour + Other Films

The new documentary "The 11th Hour" debuted in Cambridge last week. Today it begins showing at the Embassy Theater in Waltham, as it continues to play at the AMC Loews Theater in Harvard Square. This important movie is consistently receiving an average of 4 out of 5 stars. Here is a synopsis:

"'The 11th Hour' is the last moment when change is possible. The film explores how we've arrived at this moment -- how we live, how we impact the earth's ecosystems, and what we can do to change our course. Featuring ongoing dialogues of experts from all over the world, including former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, former head of the CIA R. James Woolsey and sustainable design experts William McDonough and Bruce Mau in addition to over 50 leading scientists, thinkers and leaders who discuss the most important issues that face our planet and people."

This film was produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been involved with environmental issues for many years. I urge you to see the movie and bring a friend or two or three! For specific movie times and locations, go to Movie Fone at


Have you not seen "Sicko" yet? This Michael Moore documentary was released in June, yet is still playing in some theaters. In the Boston area, you can still see it in Arlington and West Newton. The DVD will be released in November and you can add it to your Netflix or Blockbuster Online queue now! For theater showtimes, go to I strongly urge you to see the film and join a discussion about it. Whether you agree or disagree with Moore's tactics or arguments, it cannot be denied that this is a thought-provoking subject matter that is extremely important and plays a great role in our quality-of-life index as Americans.


Looking for some inspirational movie viewing for your DVD player? Some great recently released DVDs, available now on Netflix, that I can recommend, include:

  • Peaceful Warrior
  • The Ultimate Gift
  • The Secret

Some thought-provoking documentaries I've enjoyed, that are available on DVD:

  • What the #$*! Do We Know!? (What the Bleep Do We Know)
  • The Future of Food
  • Who Killed the Electric Car
  • The Corporation
  • Go Further

And finally, although "Amazing Grace" is not released on DVD yet, you can still add it to your online rental queue. This inspiring movie was truly a joy to watch. The synopsis:

"Based on a true story, this historical drama starring Ioan Gruffudd tells the story of William Wilberforce, an 18th-century English politician who fought for the abolition of slavery. Despite staunch opposition, Wilberforce waged an aggressive campaign using boycotts, petitions and slogans."

Any feedback you have regarding these films would be appreciated!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mindfulness Retreat: Part III

During our retreat, we were up by 5:30 AM each day and began with a walking meditation. Walking meditation is walking together, very slowly, very thoughtfully, in silence. Focusing on your breath with each deliberate step. Again, this puts you in the present moment; the "here and now". So often we really don't appreciate the present. Our minds are caught up with experiences of the past or worries about the future. It is rare for us to relish the here and now and be truly present and aware of now. When you get up in the morning, you most likely quickly begin your routine on auto-pilot. Right? Next time you awake, try emptying your mind and say:

Waking up this morning, I smile
24 brand new hours are before me
I vow to live fully in each moment
And to look at beings with eyes of compassion

Another practice we experienced during the retreat (which is a wonderful practice to start at home) is the "mindfulness bell". When the bell is rung or when we "invite the bell", we stop what we are doing, take a few mindful breaths and put ourselves into the focus of the current moment. After about 45 seconds, we can resume our activities and thoughts.

About a year and a half ago, I purchases the CDs "Meditation in a New York Minute" and I highly recommend it. One of the suggestions given is to change your cell phone greeting (that is, the message that appears when you turn your phone on). This is a feature that most cell phones have. The greeting should be "BREATHE". Now, whenever I turn my cell phone on, I see the word BREATHE across the screen, before it disappears to make way for the wallpaper. It is a great reminder. I see it, stop my hurry and worry, breathe and focus on the present moment. How can you incorporate a mindfulness bell into your life? Well, whatever works for you, really. Every time you hear the alarm of a fire truck or ambulance, you can use that as a signal to stop and breathe and to bring your mind into the present moment (and be thankful, truly grateful, that it is not you who needs the emergency services of the fire department or EMTs). Or everytime you hear the honk of a car horn, or everytime you hear a baby cry. Anything, really. Use a sound to trigger your mindfulness. It's a very wonderful practice.

During the last day of the retreat, we had a Q & A session with Thich Nhat Hanh. Children were able to pose questions before the adults had their turn and the first question a child asked was "Why is the bell so important?". Without missing a beat and being very serious, this is how Thich Nhat Hanh answered: "Why not?" .... pause ..... "Sometimes you have to answer a question with a question. It's a Zen thing."

Enough said!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mindfulness Retreat: Part II

The grounds of Stonehill College are beautiful. It was the idyllic setting for my meditation retreat. Immaculate landscapes, replete with soaring trees, green grass, brooks, ponds and many various species of plants and flowers. Everywhere you looked was a feast for the eyes, all against a backdrop of blue skies as far as the eye could see.

Being in this calm and beautiful setting, out in nature, with warm sun on your back, it was pretty easy to be amazed at Mother Nature. During my time outdoors there, I saw a grasshopper (haven't seen one of those in a dog's age!), hundreds of dragonflies (my favorite... well, it's a tie with butterflies), echelon of birds and geese flying high above, big frogs, little turtles and a river otter. I love animals and this just really made my heart sing. Along the way, some nearby residents brought their dogs to the campus and those of us on retreat who missed our pets, had a chance to play with them. There was also a campus cat and a group of super cute skunks.

One of the children's song, sung in the children's program, goes like this:

I love nature; nature is cool.
The forest is my classroom; the Earth is my school.
Trees are my teachers; animals are my friend.
And on this school, all life depends.

For photos I took of the lovely grounds, go to:
Buddhist Retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mindfulness Retreat: Part I

The day I left for my retreat, I was sure to wear my Sacred Lotus Necklace and would continue to wear it for the duration of my retreat. My Sacred Lotus Necklace was a gift I received from my dear friend in June. The lotus on my necklace is hand-carved from a Tagua nut, which is an eco-friendly nut from South America, which doesn't harm the rainforest when it is harvested. Above the lotus flower is the perfect counterpart; a piece of amber stone, which has been used for millenia as a talisman of good luck and protection and to absorb and transmute negative energy and to attract joy. As a wearer of this elegant necklace, I am reminded of humanity's rise (as well as my own) out of murky waters (in the same way a beautiful lotus blooms amid the mud) and into a place of strength and beauty. For those of you who aren't familiar, the Buddha is typically depicted sitting atop a lotus. And more than once during the retreat, Thich Nhat Hahn reminded us that we cannot get the lotus without the mud, which can be compared to saying without the rain there is no rainbow. So, of course, it was important to me to wear my prized necklace during my week with Thich Nhat Hanh.

After checking in and unpacking in my dorm room at Stonehill, the first "event" of the retreat was dinner. In keeping with Buddhist principles, all meals were vegetarian. Additionally, all meals were to be experienced with Noble Silence. This allows us to be mindful of the act of eating, to be present in the moment and to appreciate how we're nourishing our bodies. Extended periods of chewing, looking at your plate and putting down your utensils and eating more slowly are encouraged.

Cards on each of the many dining tables offered us these insights and suggestions:

We are invited to eat in mindfulness, establishing ourselved in the present moment, so that we can be aware of the food in front of us and the community surrounding us.

We eat in such a way that makes brotherhood and sisterhood, peace and joy, possible during the whole time of eating.

Brothers and Sisters, please practice the FIVE CONTEMPLATIONS while eating:

This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings and much hard work.

May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.

May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation.

May we take in only food that nourishes us and prevents illness.

We accept this food so that we may nuture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our sangha and nourish our ideal of serving living beings.

How to practice Mindful Eating:

Looking at the plate of food before eating:
Beings all over the earth are struggling to live. May we practive so that all may have enough to eat.

Beginning to eat:
With the first mouthful, offer joy. With the second mouthful, offer compassion. With the third mouthful, see others' joy as your own. With the fourth, offer inclusiveness.

After the meal:
The meal is finished and you feel satisfied. Give thanks to your parents, teachers, friends and all beings. Vow to live for the benefit of all beings.

Wow, eating within these guidelines would surely shrink a lot of waist lines and prevent a lot of disease and illness. I found this to be an extremely easy and enjoyable way to eat my meals each day. Honestly, it made some food taste a whole lot better too, when I really put a lot of thought as to how that piece of zucchini made its way to my plate.... the seeds, the soil, the wind, the sun, the water, the farmer, the harvesting, how the zucchini travelled to the chef who prepared it in a kitchen and how it finally ended up on my plate and then into my mouth, digested within my body moments later. It was amazing!

Meals are a great time for families to communicate and for friends to come together and talking, laughing and sharing is wonderful. But maybe once a week, a meal in silence with friends or family could prove to be very powerful experience for you, so I urge you to give it some thought.
This week I will continue to share with you different aspects of my retreat. For those who are interested in experiencing a Thich Nhat Hanh retreat yourself, there is still room left at the October 2007 retreat taking place in Pine Bush, NY (in the Catskills). For more information, you can go to

Please check back soon for more updates!

"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way."
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, August 17, 2007


This afternoon I just returned home from a retreat led by Thich Nhat Hanh, which took place over the last 5 days on the campus of Stonehill College, just about 25 miles south of Boston. It was a beautiful experience and I wish to share it with all of you over the course of several postings over the next few days.

For those of you who may not be familiar, Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk who is a leader, teacher, scholar, poet and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. back in the 1960s. He has written over 75 books (many of them best sellers) and teaches and practices mindfulness and urges us to live in the present moment, "the here and now". His wisdom and words inspire millions. I was so touched by his Dharma talks during my retreat this week. He will be 82 years old this fall and has lived an amazing life that truly inspires and amazes me. For more information regarding his life and his work, visit or look him up on Wikipedia at

I will leave you with a gatha I learned this week. Meanwhile, check back to my blog over the next week for more details about my experience with the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh during my retreat "Mindfulness, Fearlessness, Togetherness".

ALSO: He is appearing at the Boston Opera House in a rare public speaking engagement in the US. Tickets are still available for $38 for the one-time speech, which takes place tomorrow, Saturday, August 18th. You may go to the Boston Opera House box office or secure tickets online via Ticketmaster.

in, out

deep, slow

calm, ease

smile, release

present moment

wonderful moment

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Healthy Fast Food in the City!

* Today I am leaving for a meditation retreat, led by Thich Nhat Hanh. There will be no new postings until after my return, as I won't have access to email or phone. *


I know, I know. Healthy fast food is an oxymoron, right? Well, not if you check out the menu at some of my favorites places in the city where you can get healthy, quality food, fast.

Check out B. Goods in Back Bay or Harvard Square (with a Coolidge Corner location to be open soon). My favorites are the new American Salad, the Venetian Veggie Burger and the raspberry fruit shake. Go to

Another favorite is The Other Side Cafe at the corner of Mass Ave and Newbury Street on the cusp of Back Bay and Fenway. Huge sandwiches (my favorites are The Tess and The Brie Cheese) and a great selection of smoothies and it is one of only a few places in the city where you can order a shot of wheat grass or a wheat grass smoothie. Yum! Although they don't have a website, they do have a nice little outdoor patio. Lots of vegetarian and vegan options available!

Remember "The Wrap"? Well, they changed their name to BoLoCo a while ago and I go there and get a whole wheat tortilla burrito with brown rice and vegetables (love the carrots and broccoli) and it is delicious. There are many locations throughout the city (Newbury Street, Mass Ave, Downtown etc.). Check out Their tag line is "inspired burritos"!

And finally, my last favorite is Whole Foods. Their prepared food section has plenty of healthy and quick options. And many locations have a very big salad bar with diverse, fresh options. A current favorite of mine is their Avocado Sandwich. For $5.99 you get a large sandwich of whole grain bread, cucumber, watercress, avocado and whipped feta with a little spice to it. Super yummy and super healthy. A great source of good fat and a tasty little sandwich! Whole Foods has several locations in Cambridge, Boston (Fenway, Beacon Hill), Brighton and more. To find the closest Whole Foods, go to

If you have any healthy fast food suggestions around Boston, please drop me a line and let me know your favorites!


Friday, August 3, 2007

Upcoming Workshops

I've recently added two workshops to my website

Monday, August 20, 2007 5:15 PM
“Sugar Blues” Workshop at Healthworks, 920 Commonwealth Ave on the Boston/Brookline line

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 6:30 PM
“Sugar Blues” Workshop with the Boston Jaycees, 75 State Street in Downtown Boston

Check my website for any changes or additions. Hopefully I will be adding more workshops very soon. If you'd like me to facilitate a nutrition/health workshop at your company or organization, please contact me at These 1-hour programs are fun, interactive and very informative!

Not a subscriber to my monthly newsletter yet? You can sign up here:

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Wisdom Of Surrender; Resistance Equals Persistence

One of my favorite websites is ~ each day I get a new "Om" in my Email In Box. They are insightful little nuggets, that inspire, provoke thought and reflection and always get me to think deeper. Often these messages are synchronistic; coming to me at exactly the time I need them. I would like to share pieces of July 26th's Daily OM with you, titled The Wisdom of Surrender:

"We all know the feeling of being repeatedly haunted by the same issue, no matter how we try to ignore it, avoid it, or run away from it. Sometimes it seems that we can get rid of something we don’t want by simply pushing it away. Most of the time, the more we push away, the more we get pushed back. There are laws of physics and metaphysics that explain this phenomenon, which is often summed up in this pithy phrase: That which you resist persists. "

The saying "what you resist, persists" was something I learned during my training at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. It is a lesson we all need to learn. But it's not always easy to recognize and if we aren't fully aware that that is what we're doing, we won't be able to effectively deal with it.

The Daily OM article goes on:

"Resistance tends to strengthen the energies it attempts to oppose by giving them power and energy to work against. Additionally, resistance keeps us from learning more about what we resist. In order to fully understand something, we must open to it enough to receive its energy; otherwise, we remain ignorant of its lessons. There is a Tibetan story of a monk who retreats to meditate in a cave only to be plagued by demons. He tries everything—chasing, fighting, hiding—to get the demons out of his cave, but the thing that finally works is surrender. He simply lets them have their way with him and only then do they disappear.

Now, this wisdom must be applied practically. We are not meant to get ourselves physically injured. Instead, this story speaks of how, in essence, our demons are inside of us. What plagues and pursues us on an inner level has a way of manifesting itself in our environment in the form of people, events, and issues that appear to be beyond our control. But all these external expressions are reflections of our insides, and it is inside ourselves that we can safely experiment with surrendering to what we fear and dislike. It may feel scary, and we may find ourselves in the company of a lot of resistance as we begin the process of opening to what we fear. But the more we learn to surrender, and the more the demons that plague us disappear in the process, the more courageous we will become."

I challenge you to reflect on this today, and see what place it has in your life. I also encourage you to check out and sign up for their daily email. This particular article can be found at


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Go with your Gut

You're familiar with the concept and with it's phrases, "I have a gut feeling" or "Go with your gut!" or "What does your gut tell you?". In these cases, we are really talking about our INTUITION. Merriam-Webster defines intuition as (noun) "quick and ready insight" and (adjective) "a : immediate apprehension or cognition b : knowledge or conviction gained by intuition c : the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference".

How does your intuition affect you? Just last night I read a very interesting article about a cat that lives at a nursing home in Rhode Island and is referred to as a "furry grim reaper" because of his uncanny ability to predict the death of a patient within four hours. Just a cute little animal story, you say? Well, this cat's abilities made him the subject of an article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Yes, that's right. Western Medicine has an interest in this too! It can't be ignored. Also, last night, I had a friend who had a "gut feeling" about something he was about to do and decided not to do it. He mentioned that in the past he has ignored this feeling and "disaster ensued". So, this time, he chose to follow his intuition; to trust it and honor it. I think that is great!

And certainly you've heard of the bestseller "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell? Although it's been on my "To Read List" for a long time, I must admit, that I just started reading it this summer and am less than halfway through it. The subtitle of "Blink" is "The power of thinking without thinking". I love it! The author believes that when it comes to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, we pay far too much attention to the grand themes and far too little to the particulars of the fleeting moments we experience. He believes that if we all took our instincts more seriously, it would greatly change the world; the ways our wars are fought, the kinds of products we see on shelves, the kind of movies that get made, the way police officers are trained, the way job interviews are conducted and so on. I definitely agree with him.

What about Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s “gut feeling” about an increased terrorist risk this summer, that was talked about all over the news earlier this month? Was it taken seriously or dismissed? Why are we so quick to doubt things like instinct and intuition, when they are actually very reliable? Why do we need the "hard evidence"?

In school last year, one of my books was "Creating True Prosperity" by Shakti Gawain. She is a internationally renowned leader in the field of personal growth and consciousness. I think one of her quotes says it best:

"Most of us are in touch with our intuition whether we know it or not, but we're usually in the habit of doubting or contradicting it so automatically that we don't even know it has spoken."

My goal today, is to ask you to get in touch with yourself. Place trust in yourself and honor your feelings. Don't be so fast to judge or dismiss. Belief in yourself is key. Go with your gut!

For the story of Oscar the cat (aka "the furry grim reaper") go to

Friday, July 20, 2007

As Nature Intended

Yesterday I went to an organic blueberry farm in Epping, NH to pick some berries. Pick-your-own organic blueberries for $1.95 per pound. What a deal! Their season just began last week, so most of the berries are definitely ripe for the picking. To be able to pluck a berry off it's branch and pop it in your mouth, is truly the way nature intended. Nothing beats fresh fruit or vegetables, right off the vine and straight to your mouth (or to your kitchen first!). These days, most produce is picked, then shipped many, many miles, before they reach us. This negatively impacts the environment and the quality of your food.

To eat fruits and vegetables only when they're in season, is to experience the food at it's best. With modern technology, we are used to having all sorts of fruits and vegetables available to us all year long. But the quality suffers. Try to eat your produce when it is in season and you will enjoy a more intense flavor and quality.
The berries that I picked at Inkwell Farm yesterday were such a healthy powder blue hue and super sweet and tasty. It was amazing to see oil from my fingerprint leave it's mark on the powdery blue fruit. It was very nice to be "in touch" with my food like that..... as nature intended.

For fresh fruits, vegetable, flowers, herbs and more, find a local Farmer's Market! It's a great way to support local farmers (who practice sustainable agriculture) and to get all sorts of goodies that were grown on a small scale and that were recently picked (usually within 24 hours). There are several in Boston, including Copley Square, Government Center and Somerville's Union Square, to name a few. To look up a comprehensive list of Farmer's Markets in your area, go to http://http//

Recommended reading about seasonal eating include Jane Goodall's "Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating", Elson Haas' s "Staying Healthy with the Season" and John Douillard's "The 3-Season Diet". A great little reference book is Aliza Green's "Field Guide to Produce" which provides photos, descriptions, when and how to purchase, how to store and how to prepare over 100 fruits and over 100 vegetables.

Happy Summer Eating!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Smart Bells

No, I am not talking about intelligent ringing devices! I am talking about my new favorite class at the gym. Have you heard of Smart Bells? They are curved weight discs that you use in multiple ways (behind the head for abdominal work, on the foot for leg exercises and in the hands for upper body strength training). The class I took incorporates a fast-paced cardio workout using the Smart Bell for strength training during the entire class. Available in a few different weights, I used the 6-pound Smart Bell. Now 6 pounds may not seem like a lot; let me assure you, the class kicked my butt and I cannot wait to go again. It is definitely going to remain a part of my gym routine; I know it will yield great results. After all, Smart Bells have been used by Navy SEALS and Olympic Athletes, as well as in physical therapy. Curious? For more info, check out:

See if your gym offers a class! If not, ask if they will consider adding it to the roster. Some gyms may have the Smart Bell disc for gym use, but just may not offer a class that uses it. So learn how to use it on your own!

Come on, mix up that gym routine!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Peace Abbey

This past Sunday, I attended the annual Peace Abbey event with the Boston Vegetarian Society. The Peace Abbey is a very unique place, located in Sherborn, MA, about 30 minutes west of Boston. I urge you to read more about it at and to please consider making a donation, as they are in financial crisis and it would be nothing short of a tragedy if they were unable to continue their work, especially on their beautiful grounds, out in the country.

With many beautiful works of art (paintings, photographs, sculptures), especially busts of famous people who've worked on behalf of peace and justice, including Mother Theresa, Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy and more, it is such a peaceful and calming place to spend time. Both inside their two buildings and outside on the grounds, you see beautiful plaques, prayers and dedications, such as their beautiful Gandhi statue and their life size sculpture of Emily the Cow (which was dedicated back in June 2005). You can also go into their prayer room and see many spiritual books and pictures and quietly reflect. Outside on the grounds, you can meet some of their rescued animals, including Lilly the pony, who most certainly looks like a unicorn (sans horn) or their two sheep, two goats and their pig and cow.

It is truly a maginficent place, which has been visited by the likes of Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Thich Nhat Hanh and Senator Ted Kennedy, just to name a few.

During our event on Sunday, we enjoyed a talk by Will Tuttle, author of "The World Peace Diet". Originally from Concord, MA, Will has been travelling the country since the early 1970s and lived for a period in Korea, where he was trained as a Dharma Master in the Zen tradition. He has a PhD from the University of California (Berkley) and has taught college courses in creativity, humanities, mythology, and philosophy in the US and abroad. He is a columnist for Veg News magazine (of which I am a faithful subscriber) and he is an accomplished musician and a published writer. Before and after his lecture, he played two pieces of original music he composed, on the grand piano and the sound was magnificent. He is truly a gifted, talented, dynamic human being and I was very inspired by him. To learn more, to order his book "The World Peace Diet" or to order his CD or to see his wife's amazing artwork (available for purchase too), go to

Consider a visit to the Peace Abbey! Guests are always welcome. It might just change the way you see things......

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lights on Lake Hibiscus

Last night I participated in the annual Lantern Festival at Forest Hills Cemetery, which is a beautiful 250 acre arboretum and tranquil sanctuary, teeming with extraordinary sculpture and natural wonders, in a magnificent landscape.

The Lantern Festival is a Buddhist-inspired memorial celebration held at Forest Hills for the last 9 years. Against a backdrop of multicultural singing and dancing performers, participants in the Lantern Festival inscribe paper lanterns with personal messages to honor loved ones now departed. Japanese and Chinese calligraphers inscribe an Asian symbol of your choice on the paper (love, peace, hope or eternal spirit) and then you decorate the rest of the paper lantern yourself. The paper is then put onto a wooden base and a candle is inserted. At sunset, the candlelit lanterns are released onto Lake Hibiscus, symbolizing the soul's journey after death.

I found it to be a very emotional experience and somewhat profound. Seeing thousands of people with their decorated lanterns - young and old - from all different backgrounds, with their messages to their loved ones drawn and written on the lantern, with lots of thought, feeling and creativity. Everyone of us had lost someone and expressed our feelings about it, on the lanterns. It was obviously a ceremony where love abounded and I could feel it. The energy was amazing. As we began to float our candles on the lake, a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace". It was perfect.

The Lantern Floating Ceremony is a time-honored ritual practiced in various forms throughout eastern Asia. At this time in mid-summer, ancient tradition holds, a gate opens to the world of the ancestors. In Japan's Bon Festival, people light lanterns to invite ancestors to visit their family. Then the lanterns are sent floating out to sea to guide the ancestors back to the world of the spirits. Prayers are offered so their souls may rest in peace.

At Forest Hills, the Lantern Festival offers us a way to remember departed family and friends. Through inscriptions on the lanterns and through the candlelight that transforms the darkness, we send our messages of love, peace and hope into the world and to those we love.
What a wonderful experience!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Dirty Dozen

Buying organic produce is very important to me. For those of you who still aren't convinced, please consider at least buying the following fruits and vegetables as organic:
  • peaches

  • apples
  • sweet bell peppers

  • celery
  • nectarinees
  • strawberries

  • cherries

  • pears

  • grapes

  • spinach

  • lettuce

  • potatoes

These are considered the "Dirty Dozen", that is, they are the most highly contaminated of all produce. This list is published by The Environmental Working Group ( Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 15 pesticides a day, on average.

So, please enjoy your fruist and veggies every day! But please consider buying ORGANIC.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hot Stuff

During a hot summer day in New England, I think the last thing most people would want to do would be to spend time in a sauna, steam room or whirlpool. But guess what? My gym has all three of those things and I take advantage of them - yes, even in the summer.

You know how we're all looking for some "me time", some solitude, some peace and quiet to ourselves in a world that is constantly going, going, going? Well, what better place to lose yourself than in the steam room?

Today I spent approximately 8 minutes in the steam room. Well, by the time I got out, I felt like I just had a power nap! It was 8 minutes of being with just me, myself and I. It was 8 minutes to breathe, close my eyes and think (or not think!) and just be in the moment. A little oasis in the midst of an otherwise busy day.

Steam is great for your skin and a great way to clear nasal passages as well. It's not an oppressive or exhausting type of heat; it is actually relaxing, then invigorating! Next time you're at the gym, consider stopping by the steam room or whirlpool after your workout and simply exhale and enjoy the peace before resuming the rest of your day. It is likely you will be able to clear your head and tackle the rest of your day with a more calm perspective.

If you don't have access to a steam room, try this exercise: sit or stand, with one hand on your heart and one hand on your abdomen. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If you find that you are taking shallow, short breaths, slow down and take deeper breaths and focus on it. Inside your head, repeat "No where to go. No where to be." Just take a few moments to be with yourself.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Welcome to my New Blog "Buddhafly"

Thanks for visiting my new blog. I had thought of the name "Buddhafly" awhile ago, because of my fondness for Buddha and for butterflies. Butterflies are beautiful, elusive creatures that have transformed from modest caterpillars to flying works of art and that has always amazed me. Butterflies epitomize the wonders and mystery and breathtaking beauty of nature and will never cease to delight me. Butterflies live very short lives, so that also teaches us to be in the moment and savor the here and now, for tomorrow is never promised to anyone.

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."


Today I had a "a-ha moment" while stretching at the gym. Although I've always loved this song and have listened to it many times before, it really struck me today, as it came on my iPod, while I was winding down from my workout.... it is "Thank U" by Alanis Morrissette and the lyrics really hit me today and I realized how grateful I really was, here, in this moment and just in general, that I have so much to be thankful for. I was having some negative feelings about a particular situation and when I heard the lyrics "The moment I let go of it, was the moment I got more than I could handle. The moment I jumped off of it, Was the moment I touched down." I finally let go of the negative feelings I was holding onto and just released them. A tear came to my eye, I exhaled and just let it go. It felt WONDERFUL.

Here are the complete lyrics to "Thank U":

How 'bout getting off of these antibiotics
How 'bout stopping eating when I'm full up
How 'bout them transparent dangling carrots
How 'bout that ever elusive kudos

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

How 'bout me not blaming you for everything
How 'bout me enjoying the moment for once
How 'bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
How 'bout grieving it all one at a time

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

The moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off of it
Was the moment I touched down

How 'bout no longer being masochistic
How 'bout remembering your divinity
How 'bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
How 'bout not equating death with stopping

Thank you India
Thank you providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you thank you silence