Next week is going to be a super busy, super intense week. I have a humongo project that I am eagerly (and – truth be told – a little nervously) preparing for.  So this weekend, I’m focusing on calmness. And breathing.

When I get all ver klempt about something, I am a list kind of girl. For some reason, they center me and help me focus. Along those lines, I am still amazed (and sometimes baffled!) by the fact that helpful information and tidbits of support continue to appear at just the moment that I need them. I never cease to be amazed by the Shining Moments that appear just when I need them!

One of my favorite blogs is Zen Habits written by the inspiring minimalist, Leo Babauta.  I love the simplicity and clarity of the messaging. No fuss, no muss. Not too long ago, there was a terrific post on how to find calmness. It is helping me immensely and I hope that it does the same for you!

These are the habits to develop that will help you develop calmness:

  1. A calm morning ritual. Many people rush through their mornings, starting the day out in a stressful rush. I wake up a little earlier (5:30 -6:30 a.m. these days, though that changes), and start with a little meditation, then a few yoga poses. I then start writing, before I let the noise in. Exercise is another component of my morning routine. You don’t need to do the same things, but find the quiet of the morning and make the most of it.
  2. Learn to watch your response. When something stressful happens, what is your response? Some people jump into action — though if the stressful situation is another person, sometimes action can be harmful. Others get angry, or overwhelmed. Still others start to feel sorry for themselves, and wish things were different. Why can’t other people behave better? Watch this response — it’s an important habit.
  3. Don’t take things personally. Many times the response (that you noticed in Habit 2) is to take things personally. If someone does something we don’t like, often we tend to interpret this as a personal affront. Our kids don’t clean their rooms? They are defying us! Our spouse doesn’t show affection today? He/she must not care as much as he/she should! Someone acts rudely at work? How could they treat us this way?! Some people even think the universe is personally against them. But the truth is, it’s not personal — it’s the other person’s issue that they’re dealing with. They are doing the best they can. You can learn not to interpret events as a personal affront, and instead see it as some non-personal external event (like a leaf falling, a bird flying by) that you can either respond to without a stressful mindset, or not need to respond to at all.
  4. Be grateful. Sure, lots of people talk about gratitude … but how often do we apply it to the events of our day? Things are crashing down at work, or our boss is angry, or our co-workers are rude, or our kids are misbehaving, or someone doesn’t love us as we’d like … do these cause anger/anxiety/unhappiness, or can we be grateful? Drop the complaints, and find a way to be grateful, no matter what. And then smile. This unbending habit can change your life.
  5. Create stress coping habits. Many times, when we are faced with stress, we have unhealthy responses — anger, feeling overwhelmed and withdrawing, eating junk food, drinking alcohol or taking drugs, shopping or otherwise buying stuff, going to time-wasting sites, procrastinating, and so on. Instead, we need healthy ways to cope with stress, which will come inevitably. When you notice stress, watch how you cope with it, and then replace any unhealthy coping habits with healthier ones. Healthy stress coping habits include: drinking tea, exercise, yoga, meditation, massaging your own neck & shoulders, taking a walk, drinking some water, talking with someone you care about.
  6. Single-task. I’ve written numerous times in the past about single-tasking vs. multitasking, but I think people multitask now more than ever. People text while on the train, while walking, while driving. They tweet and post to Facebook and Instagram, they email and read blogs and news, they watch videos while getting things done, they watch TV while eating, they plan their day while doing chores. This is a great way to cause a level of anxiety that runs through everything you do, because you’re always worried you should be doing more, doing something else. What if, instead, you just did one thing, and learned to trust that you shouldn’t be doing anything else? It takes practice: just eat. Just wash your bowl. Just walk. Just talk to someone. Just read one article or book, without switching. Just write. Just do your email, one at a time, until your inbox is empty. You’ll learn that there is peace in just doing one thing, and letting go of everything else.
  7. Reduce noise. Our lives are filled with all kinds of noise — visual clutter, notifications, social media, news, all the things we need to read. And truthfully, none of it is necessary. Reduce all these things and more, and create some space, some quiet, in your life.

Wishing you a beautiful and calm week filled with Shining Moments!



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Smiling is one of my favorite things to do. Smiling is universal, contagious and I find it to be utterly perfect.  The world always looks beautiful to me when I smile.

Here are some of my favorite Shining Moment facts about smiling:

  • Smiling boosts your immune system: Smiling really can improve your physical health, too. Your body is more relaxed when you smile, which contributes to good health and a stronger immune system.
  • Forcing yourself to smile can boost your mood: Psychologists have found that even if you’re in bad mood, you can instantly lift your spirits by forcing yourself to smile.
  • Smiles Relieve Stress: Your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile, even when you force it. This sudden change in mood will help you feel better and release stress.
  • It’s easier to smile than to frown: Scientists have discovered that your body has to work harder and use more muscles to frown than it does to smile.
  • Babies are born with the ability to smile: Babies learn a lot of behaviors and sounds from watching the people around them, but scientists believe that all babies are born with the ability, since even blind babies smile.
  • Smiles are the most easily recognizable facial expression: People can recognize smiles from up to 300 feet away.

Put a smile on your face and have a Shining Moment day!

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Never squander an opportunity to tell someone you love or appreciate them. ~ Kelly Ann Rothaus

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We Remember



9/11. Fourteen years ago today. How can something simultaneously feel like it happened yesterday and forever ago? Talk about chilling.

In honor of this day, I thought I’d share The Names poem written by Billy Collins.  He is a poet laureate of the United States. This powerful, goose bump inducing poem was read before Congress in 2002. Let us all remember.

The Names

by Billy Collins

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.

A fine rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,

And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,

I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,

Then Baxter and Calabro,

Davis and Eberling, names falling into place

As droplets fell through the dark.

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.

Names slipping around a watery bend.

Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot

Among thousands of flowers

Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,

And each had a name —

Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal

Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air

And stitched into the cloth of the day.

A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.

Monogram on a torn shirt,

I see you spelled out on storefront windows

And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.

I say the syllables as I turn a corner —

Kelly and Lee,

Medina, Nardella, and O’Connor.

When I peer into the woods,

I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden

As in a puzzle concocted for children.

Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,

Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,

Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.

Names written in the pale sky.

Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.

Names silent in stone

Or cried out behind a door.

Names blown over the earth and out to sea.

In the evening — weakening light, the last swallows.

A boy on a lake lifts his oars.

A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,

And the names are outlined on the rose clouds —

Vanacore and Wallace,

(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)

Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.

Names etched on the head of a pin.

One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled into the skin.

Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,

The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in green rows in a field.

Names in the small tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.

So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.


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Did you know that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month? For those of you who know people who have or who have had ovarian cancer, I imagine that you’ll join me in thinking that this disease certainly falls into the f-bomb category. Right?

Did you also know that a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer every 37 minutes….and that ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers? It is also the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women. See what I mean about the f-bomb?

In recognizing the importance of raising awareness about ovarian cancer, President Obama (whose mother died of ovarian cancer) issued a proclamation designating September National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The proclamation asserts:

This year, thousands of American women will lose their lives to ovarian cancer.  They are mothers and daughters, sisters and grandmothers, community members and cherished friends — and the absence they leave in our hearts will be deeply felt forever.  During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we honor those we have lost, show our support for women who bravely carry on the fight, and take action to lessen the tragic toll ovarian cancer takes on families across our Nation.

Whatever your politics, I believe that this proclamation is a Shining Moment for all those women and their families affected by this horrendous disease because it brings much needed awareness to such an horrific disease.

If you have or know anyone who has ovarian cancer, please know that my heart is with you.


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Image: creativevisionslandscape

Happy September!  I can barely believe that I just wrote that. My, oh my, oh my. How on earth is it S.E.P.E.T.E.M.B.E.R. already?!?!? As much as I can barely admit this, I am still getting use to the fact that it is 2015.  Good gracious.  And the thing that makes me especially looney tunes is that I know that as soon as September arrives, the end of the year is right around the corner. So, what that means is that it is nearly 2016. Oh geesh. What a tailspin I’m working myself into.

Deep breath. Whoa nelly.

The Shining Moment is that there are still 4 – yes FOUR – beautiful months left to celebrate in this calendar year. This is yet another reminder to focus not on what is gone, but rather what is present and what lays ahead.

Fall also happens to be my absolute favorite time of the year. What I have had the opportunity to learn firsthand is that you don’t have to go to New England to see the leaves change color.  Philadelphia happens to display lots colors of fall and there is indeed a chill in the evening air, both of which are Shining Moments in my life.

How about you? Do you like fall? If so, what do you like about it?



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When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. ~ Maya Angelou

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I did a face-plant with each bite of these babies. Boy oh boy, talk about a yumma-licous treat! Eating tomatoes with crabmeat really brings home memories of my summers on the Jersey shore. This dish is easy peasy to make and will WOW your friends. I have to say, this recipe calls for peeled tomatoes. UGH! Well, I don’t have the time for that nor do I have the inclination to peel the tomatoes. I used the juiciest tomatoes I could find (Jersey tomatoes), sliced them, topped them with the crabmeat and basil…and VIOLA! If you want to peel your tomatoes, I included instructions on how to do it rather quickly.


6 ripe medium large Creole or other in-season tomatoes


½ cup mayonnaise

1 sprig fresh basil, 6 small leaves reserved for garnish and the rest finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 cups jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over

Basic Creole Spices

3-6 chive or garlic chive blossoms for garnish, optional


  1. To peel the tomatoes, bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Core the tomatoes, then score the bottoms by making a small X.  Blanch 3 tomatoes at a time for exactly 5 seconds per batch, moving them around with a paire of tongs or a slotted spoon. Transfer the tomatoes cored-side down to paper towels to let drain and cool briefly, then peel off skin and discard.
  2. Using a teaspoon and staring at the core, carefully scoop out the center of each tomato, creating a bowl. Cut the bottom thirds off and set aside (you’ll use them as lids to top the tomatoes).  Season tomatoes with a little salt.
  3. Mix the mayonnaise, chopped basil, lemon juice, and mustard together in a medium bowl.  Add the crab, stirring gently so as not to break up the meat.  Season the crab with Basic Creole Spices and salt.  Stuff the tomatoes with the crab salad and garnish each with a basil leaf and chive blossoms, if using.  Set a tomato lid on top of each one.

Get ready for your very own face-plant into these delicious snacks!

*This recipe is from John Besh’s Kitchen

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The number one question that people asked me (and I am asked on a daily basis) is “How do I be a friend to someone with Cancer?” In light of this question and all of the new blog readers, I thought I would re-post an oldie but goodie:  “Being a friend to someone with cancer.”


It’s so easy to connect with friends when talking over lunch, catching up while going for a hike, or planning a dinner party. However, if cancer strikes your friend, the dynamics of your relationship will change in a big way! I have experienced this both as someone who has had cancer as well as in the position of being a friend of someone who has cancer.

As I have said before, cancer does not happen in isolation. It didn’t just happen to me. It happens to a person’s family, friends, and community. What this means to you, the friend of someone who has cancer, is that you have the opportunity to play an important supporting role for your friend throughout their cancer journey. Don’t feel overwhelmed or helpless. They may see you as of their most important Shining Moments through-out their sickness.

Here are some suggestions on how to support your friend through cancer:

1. Be present. This does not mean being physically present at all times because not everyone wants to be visited when they are sick. However, being present means doing little things such as helping with childcare, dropping off food, running errands, sending a small note, or suggesting a good movie or book. In this way, you are being present through random acts of kindness which will go a long way with your friend.

2. Be inquisitive. First, ask your friend if they are up to talking. If they are, follow by asking specifically what you could do that would be beneficial for them during treatment. Although questions like these may be hard to ask, being inquisitive shows how much you care about your friend and that you want to be sensitive and aware of their needs. It is ok if they do not have an answer for you. Your thoughtfulness in asking will be appreciated.

3. Be calm. Calmness goes a long way in maintaining perspective and balance. In my own experience, I especially appreciated when my friends didn’t try to problem solve (the often unsolvable problems) and didn’t flinch when they saw my bald head and frail body. Also, let me tell ya, your friend with cancer will not want to be around someone who brings in the drama. Be a friend that intentionally remains cool, calm, and collected through-out the process.

4. Be persistent. Many friends feel that they should somewhat distance themselves from their friend with cancer because they don’t want to bother them when they are sick. While this sensitivity is thoughtful, it may distance you from your friend who needs support. Instead of distancing yourself, be persistent. Send an email or voicemail to your friend that says “I’m thinking about you. You don’t need to respond. Just know.” A simple gesture like this is extremely fueling and loving towards your friend.

5. Be normal.  Talk with your friend the same way you did before they became ill. There is so much hopefulness in the ordinary, everyday life. Your friend who is sick will want to feel as if your relationship has not changed because of their illness. Show them that it hasn’t. If you feel nervous about visiting or talking with your friend who has cancer, make a list of topics to begin dialogue.

I’d love to hear what has worked for you (and maybe even what hasn’t!).



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This year I made a pledge to REALLY clean my closets and cabinets.  I currently live in a condo that has ample space. Now, this is a real blessing, I know.  A first-world problem, if you will, right?  I am super excited and determined to FINALLY de-clutter my place.

I’ve tried so many times to get rid of many items in my home, and have failed miserably. My strategy this time is a little different. Enter “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” written by Marie Kondo, a Japanese personal tidying expert (she doesn’t like to call herself an “organizer”).  She caught my attention a) because her book is everywhere and b) with her radical approach and phenomenal success rate. She claims that her relapse rate among clients she’s personally helped is zero. Literally zero.  

Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service (LOVE this!); and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.

Before you recoil, keep going.  The title of this book is SPOT-ON!  If you read and apply her principles, your life WILL be changed. Seriously. I am learning it first-hand!

To understand her method, forget everything you think you know about decluttering. This method is extreme, but it really. does. work. Here are some basics of her approach:

  1. 1.      Discard first, store later. Kondo believes that you can’t organize clutter. The first step is to get rid of everything you don’t need.
  2. 2.      Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever. This was a biggie for me. I am a serial tidier. However, Ms. Kondo says that “tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day.” If you do the job right, once and completely, you won’t have to do it again. Love that!
  3. 3.      Storage experts are hoarders. “Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.” But organized clutter is still clutter. This was another area in which I was slightly delusional.
  4. 4.      Sort by category, not location. “Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.” Sort by category instead, in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and then things with sentimental value.
  5. 5.      Ask yourself: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. Now, important documents are not included, but there are fewer of these than you’d think.
  6. 6.       Never pile things. Vertical storage is the key. Stacking has two problems: you can stack much more than you can store vertically (not a plus if you’re aiming for clutter-free), and stacking is hard on the things at the bottom.
  7. 7.      Learn how to fold. Kondo is adamant about proper folding technique, which enables you to store things standing up rather than laid flat. She advocates to fold everything into a long rectangle, then fold that in upon itself to make a smaller rectangle, and then roll that up into a tube, like a sushi roll. Set these upright in your drawers. I had a hard time visualizing her technique from the book so I looked it up on YouTube. This method is amazing for people like me who are particularly visual because you can see everything at a glance, much more effectively than you can if your clothes are hanging or vertically stacked. And last but not least (something I thought particularly unique and wonderful), Ms. Kondo urges: Thank your stuff, it’s been working hard for you.



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