happy hanukkah

Image:  Tasteofhome.com

I love celebrating the holidays; especially Hanukkah (Shining Moment). Tonight, the first night of Hanukkah, the menorah is out and the candles are in place waiting to be lit. It is so beautiful for me to see family members and friends pass cultural and religious Hanukkah traditions.

Did you know the word Hanukkah is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “dedication”? The holiday, lasting 8 days, is referred to as the “festival of lights”. Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus of Syria and the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem in 165 BCE. As legend has it, once the Temple was won, the Jews found only enough oil to keep the eternal flame of the menorah lit for one day. The miracle of Hanukkah occurred when that small amount sustained the menorah’s light for eight days, in order for more oil to be made. Now that’s Shining Moment!


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Don’t take eye rolling as an insult. Think of it this way: at least they are listening. - Wendy Mogel

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Image:  sarahjanestudios.com

Choosing to find Shining Moments is, I believe, akin to choosing to find Joy.  Sometimes – especially during the holiday season – joy just presents itself and one can’t help but be delighted by it.  Other times – under the stress of shopping, parties and fatigue – finding joy becomes more challenging and requires making a concerted choice. In other words, If I want to change my feelings (e.g., grumpy about having to go out when I just want to snuggle on the sofa with Harlow or Henna (cats), then I have to change my thoughts.

Here are five things that I’m doing to cultivate and find joy during this holiday season.

  1. Practice yoga. After my commitment to go to 2 yoga classes a week in November, I have officially become a devotee. I get the joyous yogi buzz after every single class, from hatha yoga. I’ve never felt anything like it, actually, and whenever I don’t want to go, I am easily persuaded to go, knowing how happy I will feel after!
  2. Give your time. Visit a friend or loved one whom you don’t see very often. Call a few special people on the phone—not via text or email—and spend some time finding out what’s really going on in their lives.
  3. Practice random acts of kindness. Put money in expired parking meters (one of my personal faves!), pick up litter, smile at a stranger, hold the door for somebody. The more people you help feel good, the more joy you will feel.
  4. Give gratitude. Tell someone how much they add to your life, how they help make you a better person, how they make you smile—and thank them for it.
  5. Watch a movie. My favorite, joy-inducing movies include:
    • It’s a Wonderful Life
    • The Princess Bride
    • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    • The Blind Side

Where and how do you find joy during the holiday season?


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One of my absolute favorite Shining Moments of this beautiful season is the Christmas trees. Even though I am Jewish, I love looking at the beautiful decorations on pine trees. Small or large. Ornate or simple. Inside or outside. I love them all!  Here is one of my favorites. Hope that they warm your heart as they do mine!


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Last weekend I was at a restaurant– and a woman came up to me and said (the dreaded line), “Do you remember my name?” That question has always caused me a great deal of anxiety, perhaps because I am paralyzed with fear when I cannot remember someone’s name and more often than not I certainly can’t recollect the name of any person who asks me that question!

Well, post breast cancer, the question sends me into stratospheric levels of paralysis and, quite frankly, annoyance. Why, I wonder, would someone ever ask that question?  Just asking implies that a person may not know the answer. I mean really.

Back to the restaurant. Because I can no longer repress my emotions (Shining Moment), the dialogue when like this:

She: Hi, Randi! Do you remember me?

Me: Um…I have absolutely no idea who you are (with a completely perplexed look on my face).

She: We met during the summer of 2008 down the shore.

Me: Was I by any chance wearing a scarf because I was bald and going through chemo?

She: Yes!

Me: As a result of chemo, my memory, especially from that time, is shot.  Would you kindly tell me your name?

So, my friends, now that I’ve given voice to a ginormous source of anxiety of mine, I beg of you to be ever so thoughtful of (especially my fellow cancer) people and rather than say, “Do you remember me?” say, “Hi, I’m Mary, so nice to see you again.” Please oh please don’t (either intentionally or unintentionally) put someone on the spot. It feels majorly yucky, whether you’ve had chemo or not. Just sayin’…


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Image: Fashionide.com

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when my friend ordered a copy of The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited By Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld for me for Hanukkah. When Mr. UPS delivered my copy of the book I was literally jumping for joy. My, oh my.

The book is a tribute to Chanel’s iconic black jacket. The little black jacket is, some would argue, one of the most important contributions that Chanel has made to fashion. The history of the jacket began in 1916 when it was designed, produced and even worn by its founder Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. “I always make the first design for me” said the petite Coco who believed that women could be elegant while wearing clothes that didn’t trap the body into an unnatural form. The original tweed jacket had some very unique and original details, including overcast and topstitched seams for an even surface and a gilt chain weighing down the inside hem of the jacket so that it took (takes) the shape of the woman wearing it.

In the book, Chanel’s classic jacket is worn as a headdress by American actress Sarah Jessica Parker, wrapped around model Joan Smalls, as well as modishly adorned by Yoko Ono.

I’ve been excited to get my hot little hands on this book for months.

It is such a wonderful gift for the holidays!


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giving tuesday 2014

Image:  GivingTuesday.org

Knowing that today is Giving Tuesday is a Shining Moment start to the day! Since Thanksgiving, we’ve had plenty of days focused on shopping with “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” but now it’s time for the feel good day…”Giving Tuesday”.

I believe that it’s incredibly important to teach children about philanthropy early in life. By the time children turn 3, they begin to understand and respect the fact that each and every person has feelings. Therefore, children can begin to develop a sense of compassion which is the foundation of charitable thinking. I did my first service project in my early days in elementary school.

Giving back has always been a core value of mine. I talk the talk with my students and then walk the walk. I believe that it is incredibly important to lead by example. In fact, this past week, I volunteered at a local nursing home. Throughout the year, I like to give my time to my favorite breast cancer charity, Living Beyond Breast Cancer as well.

Teaching children about philanthropy, i.e., learning about giving and helping others gives children a feeling of empowerment and healthy sense of compassion. It also cultivates an  attitude of gratitude. How are those for win-win Shining Moments?

If you’re a little stumped on where/how to begin with the children in your life, there is a super cool website that I’ve recently come across that I loooove. It’s called Learning to Give. It provides philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement.

Additionally, the #GivingTuesday website offers boatloads of ideas for giving back and getting involved. It’s really great. Here is the direct link: http://givingtuesday.org/


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Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change. - Wayne W. Dyer

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Image: Portlandmonthlymagazine.com

Do you have turkey leftovers and don’t know what to do with the remains? Boy, oh boy, do I have a solution for you. The day after Thanksgiving turkey sandwich is one of the highlights of my weekend. Yummers! I L.O.V.E. turkey leftovers and can’t wait to “construct” a masterpiece double-decker. Seriously. I guarantee you will do a face-plant into your sandwich when you try one of these delicious recipes. They are super easy to make and full of wowza-liciousness!

Turkey Caprese

Mayo + fresh basil + tomato + about 2 slices of mozzarella (Mouth-watering) !!

Turkey Apple and Brie

Spread Dijon mustard on toasted sandwich bread.  Add Granny Smith apple slices and a few stips of brie. (O.M.G.)!!

Peppery Turkey BLT

Spread garlic mayo over toasted bread. Top turkey with lettuce, tomato, and crisp peppered bacon.  Add a few wavy potato chips for big crunch. (Mmm Mmm Good)!!

Turkey Cubano

Spread a split crusty sandwich roll with yellow mustard.  Add pickle slices, thinly sliced ham, Swiss cheese, and turkey.  Butter top of bread.  Toast in a panini press or skillet. (De-Lish)!!


Slather bread with mayo and honey mustard.  Add cranberry sauce, lettuce, ad a slice of red onion. (L.O.V.E.)!!

So “do the bird proud” and enjoy, enjoy!


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Photo: Petslady.com

During this Thanksgiving week, I’ve been thinking about how my shining moments go hand-in hand with gratitude. I just love looking for my shining moments and then feeling the gratitude for finding them.

My shining moment philosophy has taught me to not take things for granted. Ever. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I find that when I am consciously grateful for the good and wonderful things in my life – the shining moments – I notice more and more things that I have to be grateful for.  It is a delightful ripple effect. Don’t you think?

Even though I was in an awful place as I could have ever imagined being six years ago with my breast cancer, bald and face planted in the toilet, my shining moment presented itself during that dark and scariest moment. My dear sweet cat, Matisse, came into the bathroom and laid down next to me. She stayed with me until I gathered enough strength to make it back into my bedroom. Then, she curled up with me while I tried to snooze. That was a wing-dinger of a shining moment for which I have deep and profound gratitude.


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