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Top secret


Funny, now that the blog has no visitors, less for me, I do feel undercover.

There is not enough time in December to do it all. Next year I will be on top of it. I have both more time and less with Noelle in school as well. Funny. Someday there will be the time I had, especially before I married, when I lived in Colorado, got my own tree and decorated it with my dog Sophie by my side. It was her photo I had taken with Santa Claus — at CJ Paws in Aspen.

We are supposed to go again this year. To Aspen. December 26 with the boys. Me the least accomplished skier of the bunch. It’s all good. I like to stay warm. I love working out there with Bernadette. Hum.

December 6. I love Christmas music. The old fashioned Carpenters, Bing Crosby, the Chipmunks.

I want to pace myself. Enjoy each day. Get enough rest. Stay pretty and groomed and shimmery too. I also need a mini break, which I have not had from being a mom since late August, and that was for some 36 hour mad jaunt to Florida for waterskiing. It’s been, too long.

I still need a friend. But times are so busy right now. Laurel, Carrie, Kiki. Carolyn and Caroline and Jeri closer to home. A new woman I met in St. Barth’s I want to connect with. Micaela. Ya. The Nutcracker Suite. Outdoor decor. Lights. Cameras. Shopping. Lists. Too much action or activity.

Still a huge Live with Kelly and Michael fan. They are both my generation. Look great, lead exciting, sexy lives. On TV and beyond.

My eyes are big. My heart worn. My lists frayed.

Putting to bed


It is about 7.30 and I am putting my babies to bed. First Clea-Noelle, then C&C. Everyone is tired from a long December week. You see, it’s Friday and everyone is sensitive and spent.

Riding today. C&C did great. They have their first show this Sunday. The boys their second Walk/Trot show. Last time they each got a blue ribbon in their respective groups. This year they compete with more advanced riders. You progress, you succeed. You go to the next level where you are just starting out all over again. Ya.

We are okay. December is a too busy time. You have to stay centered, cool, aloof to the whole whiplash shebang-ery of it all. You have to protect your furthest and innermost reaches. You walk on the other side of the street from it. You keep your sane distance from the meltdown that is over-frenzied US Christmas.

TV. Jingles. My need to get candy stocking stuffers from Walmart and holiday tins filled with popcorn as if from Santa for each one of them. The baby who doesn’t even know what popcorn is.

I don’t get enough TIME with her. With any of them. Or myself. I look forward to rocking her to sleep, each and every night. Winter spring summer or fall.

All you have to do is call, and I or James Taylor or Carole King will be there.

Lock and key


I need a lock on the door to my office. I have a lock, one that locks the door, and you can get in with a special pin that we keep somewhere in the house. But this lock has no key.

I need it.

You see, it’s Christmas, and we have five children, all six and under, and they could at any point appear, and the “magic” that is Christmas and Santa Claus and Father Christmas and Hagia Vasilis (the guy as he’s known in Greece) — the cover would be blown sky-high.

I have bluffed and said that I am wrapping my gifts for Daddy, or Grandpa. I have been caught red-handed with some incriminating refills for this Nerf bow and arrow thing that has some specific jazzy name that now escapes me. I am lame, plus I cannot stay awake past 10 p.m. on any given night, when I could conceivably do this (wrapping, HIDING) with all of them asleep. Much like, say, the Tooth Fairy, who did show up last night actually for Theodore’s (age six) fourth missing tooth. Theodore placed the five and the single in the bunny bank, as he’s saving for a new car, in about eleven years time. I told him that he and his twin brother Petros should ask his dad for more hours at work. My husband has a building company. They can… well, they can shovel snow.

They are actually getting better at so much of helping out. Place mats, napkins and cups. We keep the kids’ plates in this low, accessible-to-them drawer. They can walk their baby sister (age 2) up the stairs. They can get dressed and also ready for bed by themselves. The other day, crazy miracle that is was, they both took showers by themselves!!

This is insanely HUGE. A big deal when there are three smaller, younger children to care for. To be fundamentally: doing less. Amen! Really.

Did I start out by talking about Christmas? Yes, the boys are at the age where they could find me out. My reindeer games, without Ben Affleck. But, they are also joyously gaining independence and lessening our proverbial load. They other night when we had friends over for dinner, I gave them each a book, and said, Here, read yourself to sleep. And… They Did!!


Okay, in a few months time they will be seven. Second grade is rearing its tiny head. My four year-old-daughter has begun simple addition. Her twin brother can hang up his coat. The baby, well, she just says, “I’m a baby.” And of course I love this, because she will remain my baby for a lifetime. Little does she know that at fourteen I will still happily carry her anywhere she wants to go.

Oh, that lock. I have this sad blanket over all the Xmas loot. It looks like a big, pink, lumpy clump. It’s in a part of the room their eyes rarely get to. I still need a lock and key. Or just to walk around with that pin. If I had any idea where it was.

What to watch


I am so not the go-to person re: TV. But I do — every so often — get hooked. Chiefly as a way to entertain myself while running on the treadmill when I’m not running outside. Again, a run is 6 mph or more, a jog is less than that. I sometimes do 5.7 or 5.8, so I am a near runner, je suppose.


Live with Kelly and Michael, 9-10 am weekdays. Especially the first 15-20 minutes where they chat ad lib.

Gossip Girl, nearly over! Next Monday is the last (two-hour) episode. But, hey, go back and watch the entire fun, catty, ode to New York and headbands series. Some lines are truly hilarious. Leighton Meester is a genius.

Mad Men. Season 6 coming next year. Writerly, Cheever-ly, great acting, wonderful storytelling. Here John Slatterly as Roger Sterling has every great line.

New Girl. Truly funny 21-22 minutes on the iPad. I try to do two back-to-back episodes and zone out for the rest of my hour run/jog. Max Greenfield as Schmidt: a comic goldmine.

Downton Abbey. Yup. Tried to avoid it. The first episode I thought, they are just blatantly copying Upstairs/Downstairs (on PBS when I was a kid), right down to a storyline based on the Titanic! But, then, Maggie Smith. Elizabeth McGovern. Michelle Dockey’s pale, flawless visage (to use a word I ne’er use). Yes, January 6, it finally airs here, after being broadcast in the UK this very fall. I have avoided all media regarding it. Surprise me.

And… that’s it!! I need something else I guess. I am checking out Girls, now available on DVD. And in iTunes. The writer of the series graduated from Saint Ann’s, (comme moi). Ya. Could be Sex and the City but more current (and youthful), or could be awful, will let you know.

p.s. Today is 12/12/12! The baby was born on 10/10/10. We have friends who purposely married on 07/07/07 (luckily a Saturday). It’s the last sequence like this of our lifetimes, unless, as Fotis proposes, they reverse or DNA and we age backwards, muck like those deep sea jellyfish profiled in the Times Magazine section two Sundays ago.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Tomorrow is Monday. Back to school for three days before the winter break. I will be sending the three younger ones, whose classrooms will be abstaining from any discussion of the events on Friday. The boys will stay home and get Christmas items done, such as personally written cards for their teachers. There are many: Maurice, Tom, Beth, Carolyn, James, Jill, Denise. Maybe we will take their dad to buy hockey skates, their gift to him for Christmas. They are in a classroom with students ages 6-9, and I cannot dictate what they hear from their peers. By Tuesday the day should be more about the excitement of the holiday, (which recedes from me this weekend). About vacation. About cheer.

We never have the television on at home. They watch movies that we decide upon together. We watch Curious George and Max and Ruby on DVD. We watched, yesterday, Sleeping Beauty.

They don’t know. They still have their innocence on this front intact. Their minds are full of Santa’s momentous journey and when do we bake him cookies and things of this lovely nature.

I have had a low-grade headache since Friday. When I decided not to pick them up early, not to run and let my unbridled need for them knock them all down, but rather to just be “normal.”

I think Governor Malloy (of Connecticut) said it best this Sunday. He said that we can say the words, We feel your pain. But really, we don’t. Those parents feel it. They are feeling it right now. And the knowledge of this just doesn’t leave one’s psyche. Of the world they must now live in, without their babies.

More cheerful thoughts, images…


The Horse Show at Folly Farms: Sunday, December 9, 2012.

Petros, Theodore, Christiane and Constantine participants. Visiting us: Yorgos Nathaniel from both Athens, Greece and sunny Florida.

Christiane helped to prepare Cocoa Puff (featured behind her below).

Getting ready to do battle

Getting ready to do battle

Christiane got all chatty during the show, her and Constantine’s category: Lead Line. We knew the second she got chatty, she was not getting first place…

Christiane with Sue, being judged

Christiane with Sue, being judged

Her brothers happily waiting for her

Her brothers happily waiting for her

Christiane got second place, which she did not want. She exclaimed, I don’t want second place! And nearly threw her red ribbon. But red is her favorite color, and the ribbon is very nice…

Deciding to keep her red ribbon

Deciding to keep her ribbon

Then it was Constantine’s turn on Nicky. The horse that is so old and slow, I always feel sorry that he has to even move.

Constantine on Nicky

Constantine on Nicky

He too got a red ribbon. He did great, and did not chat at all. (The President).

Team Red

Team Red

Then it was Theodore’s turn for Walk/Trot. (They sometimes canter!) He was with two girls, both older, both seemingly better than he… They competed in Walk/Trot, then easy “Jumping” — going over poles lying flat in the dirt…

Theodore on an anarchist Simon

Theodore on Simon, the anarchist

Simon (not Theodore’s usual horse) was not into being led around that morning. He broke free, with Theodore calmly on top. I think this added to his doing well that day. He got second place in both categories. Two more Red ribbons for a total of four!

(First place somehow this year came not only with a blue ribbon, but with a trophy as well. Which is hard Not to get…)

Theodore left, being judged

Theodore left, being judged

Then it was Petros’s turn. But his opponent was a no show that day. So… he went through all the steps in both categories on his favorite horse, Carlos, and…

Petros on Carlos

Petros on Carlos

Won! Two trophies, two blue ribbons! One of the trophies he agreed to share with Christiane, to her utter delight.

Heavy -- two!

Heavy — two!

Yey, Petros!

Yey, Petros!

Lesson learned: when your opponent is a no show — you win just for being there!

Everyone with their numbers together

Everyone with their numbers together

A very happy sister outside

A very happy sister outside

Then we went for lunch at Plan B Burger in Simsbury, with our friend Yorgos Nathaniel, and had a very celebratory lunch.

It’s beginning to look a lot like…


So, I finally came up for air, in the mad dash to create Christmas, 2012 from out of the ether, or to pull it from behind my ears.

Gifts: wrapped. Now Constantine says he wants an Escalade and a Chevy. I said, Why don’t you go Christmas shopping with Donald Trump? I think he means miniatures or toys, but who really knows? He is enigmatic, elusive, sometimes I don’t even understand what he says.

Our Aunt Martha and Uncle Alex came up yesterday. Martha is an excellent hostess and cook and on the 25th the menu is basically hers. I am: Deeply, Eternally Grateful. Fotis is happy to have a few days not working and playing with the children, organizing the cars he collected as a boy, hanging out with us all.

The kids are happy at home. Happier are Christiane and Petros who have that same indoorsy streak that I do. A huge capacity to stay at home: Forever.

Theodore is thrilled for his dad’s cars. The baby is loving these bite-sized cupcakes that her Auntie Christiane brought her from New York when she stopped by yesterday. Uncle Mark spent Friday night with us. Our whole family is gaga for Uncle Mark. Constantine kept singing “Uncle Mark Be a Lady Tonight,” to the Guys and Dolls song that Frank Sinatra sings in the movie. (Luck be a Lady.)

I am okay. Calm, stressed, happy, unsure, well rested, yawning. I am an Alanis Morissette song basically.

Two days and counting. No Elf on the Shelf. I am not even on Facebook so anything current escapes my grasp, my mental capabilities to let anything else in.

Nine days from Newtown. Appreciating our children more than ever. We get to have Christmas this year.

Have yourself a merry one. Really, Do. Rest. Pause. Be still, then keep it going, as there is much yet to be done.

A gift of quotes


“Joy is the best makeup.” — Anne Lamott

“A good marriage is where both people feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.” — Anne Lamott

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.” — Edith Wharton

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” — Oscar Wilde

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” — Oscar Wilde

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” — Joseph Campbell

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” — Joseph Campbell

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” — Joseph Campbell

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” — Dalai Lama

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — Dalai Lama

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” — Dalai Lama

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Christmas over and out


Next year: I will shop and wrap by December 1. Next year, I will limit the gifts and not have children panting from an unwrap-athon frenzy. We will instead take time on the 25th to be with each other. To breathe each other in. To enjoy one another.

This year was of course a mad dash. Plus some added pressure of caring for 5 young kids who are on Christmas break. Plus packing to go away skiing on the 26th. Me madly tossing out the trash as quickly as they could unwrap and make it. Trying to keep an edge on the house.

I lost. I won. I lost time, energy. Next year, I will go away at some other time.

I also did it/Xmas but was not there. I performed and got the A’s but did not slow down — at all! There was no time to slow down.

Next year, perhaps. Me hopes. They all had a grand time. Santa came in person in the 24th just to say hi and to give them each what they really truly (exactly!) wanted. It was a success — out there. I am still having PTSD. It will sink in: someday. The whole day.

I just wish somehow to slow down my life. Pause it. Take a soak. But I find it hard to do this.

I soaked in the tub tonight. I want to go to bed early, here at Mountain Time. I want to be more in one Whole piece.

I wish to grant my life more time.

The Good


It’s so in my nature to first get out the junk and the No’s and what I did wrong, as if clearing away the dust and dirt, to then see what I did right. Or what was still so okay about Christmas 2012.

So, The Good:

With sleep and some distance it’s starting to come to mind. The tree was really beautiful. The one in our family or great room. It’s just the biggest, and most stark room in the house and I love how crystal clear (and free of clutter!) it feels.

I love our ornaments. I love our stockings and this one bright, twinkly wreath. The kids adored and enjoyed it as well. They did poop out from Christmas gifts but this is also my memory from when I was a kid and my Aunt Audrey gave us, me and my sister, Christmas. She wrapped so many gifts: plastic pretend jewelry, bath soaps, Walkie Talkies. We were so lucky. My Grandmother Rose watched football. We all hung out and ate a grand meal – turkey I think. She made sugar cookies with sprinkles on them, like the ones we did for Santa this year.

Our Aunt Martha and Uncle Alex came up from Philadelphia. My parents were there. We were a full house the 24th and 25th, which felt Good. I am afraid to say Perfect. The cult of perfectionism I know I’m a goner for. No one can stage an intervention or de-brainwash me. Ya. Christmas presents the ultimate challenge, not only to get exactly down to the last painted polka dot coloring on a desired object, but then to wrap it as if on a window display at Barney’s. Or not… The jury’s still out on how far to go wrapping a gift for someone under seven.

Ya. The food: yummy. The stockings: full. My feet: weary. My mood: okay.

Now, we stare at another “brand new” year: 2013. I have to avert my eyes from the news or else I will feel all depressed about the fiscal cliff and gun control — will it ever truly pass? And subway pushings and the like.

I need a clear new slate. I want: to take care of myself in 2013. To take care of my own needs enough to have the Christmas spirit year through. I want time and space and de-cluttering. I want Peace within. Clarity. Space. Rest.

I hope for the kids: self-worth, dignity, laughter at no one else’s expense. Joy, rest and Peace as well.

I hope for Fotis: a successful year skiing, at work, with the kids, and us.

I hope for my father: the absence of dis-ease. For Alex and Martha: strong new clients. For the parents of Newtown, to feel God’s hand at work within the caring and the tending. As people care for them, let them feel His holy presence. And to all of us, may we bask in the light of the Good.

A new year — January


Happy New Year, 2013.

I am now immersed on a new kick. Cheryl Richardson and her writings on making time for our own lives, and along the lines of my go to spiritual trainer (as my friend Carrie would call her), Louise L. Hay: Loving oneself unconditionally. Self-parenting at the highest levels. Putting one’s own Good first. Or what Cheryl Richardson calls: Extreme Self-Care.

A quote to start off the new year, if one could only have one resolution for 2013:

“What if the only resolution you make is to love yourself more?…” — Cheryl Richardson

Memories, without Barbra Streisand or Cats


So, it’s been a while and I do need to get a few things down, for the sake of ye kids, for the sake of de-cluttering my notes re: possible posts.

1. Last night I saw (against my will or better judgment re: what I can withstand) the Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained. And while the first part may have had its merits, for me it turned total spaghetti western if that term had anything to do with red sauce being splattered on every wall, bodies being pumped with bullets, or exploding innards shooting across the various southern, inhospitable, wallpapered rooms on display.

Ugh. I kept on leaving to get air, sanity, a break from the blood-letting.

Fotis was in his own particular brand of heaven. Next time I’ll bring a beach chair and ye trusty iPad and park myself outside the theatre as he imbibes.

2. Oscar movies, announced. Again, used to be such a big deal for me, now not so much. I liked Lincoln, but it was slow. I liked Naomi Watts in The Impossible, but it too was near impossible to withstand. Just muck and flapping wounds and the innards of a muck-infested tropical hospital the movie lingers in for hours it seems.

3. Theodore. I love Theodore. I’ve said it many times. I was too harsh on him yesterday morning when he bounded up on the kitchen counter in his snowboots to retrieve his beloved (Santa wished for) water bottle. He left for school without it. I felt so bad that I walked them all inside that morning. Noelle cried, as she had to have me say goodbye to her, whereas at normal drop-off it’s she saying goodbye to me. Ya. Christiane showed me her all neat and ordered cubby. I was (brimming with pride) impressed. I got hugs (many) from Petros. Constantine told me to get out, he could do his cubby chores all by himself. (Guilt? Alarm? Do I bring him to our bed more to cuddle each night? Do I schedule a four-month Constantine only safari? Or is he just a kid who needs less, is more independent? Or… hey, wallow in the guilt?)

Some things on the notes in my iPhone I never coughed out, (or, did I?):

1. Theodore believes (as do all the children now) that before their time, they were with God waiting to be born.

2. Clea-Noelle said sorry to Petros’s Snoopy one night this September, but it came out as “Sorry, Noopie,” or what the boys heard as: “Sorry, New Pee.” Which got such a great laugh that she repeated the line for a week.

3. Christiane taking a bath in our tub in Greece this summer, she and I sharing potato chips. So, (bad mom moment) of potato chips in bathtub, ala Hear Comes Honey Boo Boo (which, I’ve never actually seen).

4. There’s a dance song in Greece with a refrain that just goes: Barbra Streisand!

5. (I may have chronicled this before, but forgive me if I am getting old): Constantine calling me a slow poke while driving and daddy a fast poke. (If this is the tenth time you’ve heard it, just throw tomatoes at your computer, or toss your iPad into the trash.)

6. Both Theodore and Petros can read chapter books now to themselves, in bed, at night, before they go to sleep. Yup, sue me. They also both do multiplication. Genius, what can I say?

7. They will soon be seven, the boys. Life identity crisis lurking on the horizon. Just lock me up until they are all approximately 24, then I can have an official nervous breakdown.

8. During Storm Sandy there was one moment when Noelle decided to put her sunglasses on around her belly. Here, take a look:

Noelle, glasses on tummy, of course

Noelle, glasses on tummy, of course!

The end.

Oh, wait, have to get this picture off my phone. Here is how Theodore cuts his ham and cheese sandwiches — both ways!

See, sliced both ways, get it? ...

See, sliced both ways, get it? …

New leaf


There are no leaves on the trees outside. Just snow, though it’s been near 50 degrees outside of late. Our warmest January yet. I am in the process of categorizing the posts, thus going back over them for content, and now rereading (or heavily skimming) April, 2012. Not the best. But now things are brighter, clearer. I sort of had wanted to erase the stuff that was bogged down, or just “down.” But it is. Not to be too accepting at anyone’s expense (mainly my own). Leaving it out there, the not great, I don’t know what it “means.” But it seemed odd to take it down or to cut it apart from the current blog. The current blog started somewhere around August 8, and that trip to Santorini (lucky me). And… well, a new era of trying. And now with January, a new page or leaf, for just lil ole: me.

I think you sort of have to start (and end) with yourself. You make yourself happy. You deal with disappointing people for the sake of not letting yourself down. You have to sort of look out for number one, (and there is a continuation of this line that Rodney Dangerfield says, but I won’t repeat here).

Don’t be number two to anybody. That’s what my father always told me. It’s hard for girls, now women, wives, mothers. It’s hard to know this, for real.

We have a friend who recently changed her life. She did what was best for her and others did feel unhappy or hurt or had to adjust to fit her new life. She is beaming. Living her life her way. Who’s to say this is wrong?

There is a chapter in the book I’m reading, the chapter after the one about doing mirror work to get grounded in self-love and acceptance and really just being on your own side in life. You and you against the world. You as your own champion.

The chapter is entitled, “Let me disappoint you.” And it really rings true, because so much of the time it pains me to feel the disappointment of someone else so much so that I will pain myself for their benefit. But I am trying Not to do this.

A new leaf. Maybe by March or by this April it will unfold. Grow green, and flap about.

I am curious to see.

Cheryl Richardson’s Little Things: In pursuit of pleasure

This hit home to me when I read it in my inbox yesterday:

Written by Cheryl Richardson.

Topic of the Week – Little Things

I’ve been working on my next book, a memoir about the perils and pleasures of aging consciously. I’m doing my best to live each day awake and aware of the finiteness of life. As I make decisions, I keep asking, “If today were my last day on earth, would I be satisfied with this choice?” By doing so, I’m becoming acutely aware of what adds comfort, contentment, peace, and meaning to my life. I’m realizing some pretty interesting things.

One thing is how little value I’ve attributed to the simple things that bring me immense joy – watching the twinkling white lights on the tree in our backyard, playing fetch with my cat (who thinks he’s a dog), sleeping with an open window so I can hear the owls hoot at night, or listening to the rain without doing a damn thing but enjoying the sound.

It’s so easy to put all of our energy into what we’ve been trained to value -advancing a career, making money, building a business, or completing our to-do lists. In our drive to succeed, we tend to miss, (or dismiss) the events that bring us joy. They seem secondary, a reward after a hard days work, or a peripheral pleasure we happen to stumble upon.

I’m making pleasure a primary goal. I’ve been tracking the little things that bring me joy every day for over a year now and it’s always a surprise at what makes the list. Simple things. Tiny things. Things that often cost nothing at all.

What if making space for pleasure in our busy, technology driven lives became a highly regarded goal? How would life be different if we valued peace and delight and joy as much as (or more than) striving to succeed?

What if…

Let me disappoint you


From the book The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson:

Let Me Disappoint You

I hate being disappointed.  There’s nothing worse than getting your hopes up only to have them squelched when something doesn’t turn out the way you plan.  And that’s precisely why I hate to disappoint others.  Over the years I’ve watched myself go on autopilot when someone asks for a favor, saying “yes” when I know in my gut that I’d rather not do it.  Or I’ve suffered, spending too much time trying to come up with a graceful way to let someone down so they wouldn’t feel hurt or angry at my “no.”At our core, most of us hate to hurt or disappoint people.  As a matter of fact, many avoid it like the plague.  Here are a few reasons why:

  • We want to avoid feeling guilty.
  • We hate being disappointed or hurt ourselves and we want to spare others the emotional pain of that experience.
  • We lack the language to say no with grace and love.
  • We’re conflict phobic so we’ll do what it takes to keep the peace.
  • We want people to like us.

One of the harsh realities about practicing Extreme Self Care is that you must learn to handle your anxiety when you end up having to disappoint people, hurt their feelings, or make them angry.  And you will.  When you decide to put an end to the cycle of deprivation in your life, you’ll need to start saying no, setting limits, and putting boundaries in place to protect your time, energy, and emotional needs.  This poses a huge challenge for most caring individuals. Why?  Because inevitably you’ll end up disappointing a friend when you decide, for example, to honor your need for a weekend off rather than agree to baby-sit her kids.  Or, there’s a good chance that you’ll hurt your teenager’s feelings when you tell him to walk to his friend’s house so you don’t have to chauffeur him around for the tenth time this month.  And, you can rest assured that you will piss off a spouse who suddenly has to do his own laundry because you’ve decided that you’re no longer going to play house maid to everyone who lives under your roof.  Trust me, you’ll be changing the rules of the game and some people won’t like it.  But, remember this: If you want to live a meaningful life that makes a difference in the lives of others, you need to make a difference in your own life first. That way your motivation is pure.  Feelings of discomfort, guilt, or fear are just part of the process of focusing on your own needs first.

It can be quite surprising to see the lengths we’ll go to to avoid hurting or disappointing people.  My conversation with Barbara, a woman who called into my radio show, was a good example.  Barbara was aware of her tendency to be a Good Girl and by the time she shared this story with me, she knew exactly what was going on.  “I’m about to commit the ultimate good girl act,” she admitted.  “For the last six months, my boss of ten years has worked hard to line up a transfer to a new position in a warm part of the country – something I’ve wanted for a long time.  But, as I go through the interview process it’s becoming clear to me that the job isn’t what I thought it would be and I’m starting to realize that I won’t be happy.  Here’s the crazy thing.  Believe it or not, I’m actually thinking about taking the job anyway because he’s really gone to bat for me and I hate to let him down.”

As outrageous as this story seems, I wasn’t surprised in the least.  If you think about it long enough, I bet you could come up with your own examples.  You agree to take a new client even though everything inside of you screams, “Warning! Warning!” because you don’t want him to feel rejected.  Or, you have an argument with your spouse about not having enough time together only to find yourself agreeing to head up a fundraiser for your kid’s school that very night because you want the other parents to know how committed you are.  Every day people make significant decisions based on what others want, knowing full well that on some level they’re committing an act of self-betrayal. The good girl (or good boy) habit is a tough one to put down.

So, what happens when you start to disappoint people or let them down?  When it comes to practicing Extreme Self Care in the face of our relationships, there’s something you need to know:  You may very well lose a few relationships in the process.  Up until this point, if you have a tendency to over give, there’s a good chance that you’ve trained the people in your life to expect it.  Now, by making your needs more of a priority, you’re changing the rules.  Don’t be surprised if someone close to you – a best friend, a family member, or a spouse, tries to pull you back into the fold of compliance.  And when this happens, the worst thing you can do is give in.  When you do, you give mixed messages and you teach people not to trust your word.  Instead you need to be honest, direct, and appropriately remorseful and that’s it.  Don’t overexplain, defend or invite a debate about your decision.  The fewer words the better.

Dear Abby and Ann Landers


Pauline Friedman Phillips died this week. She was 94 and known to the world as the advice columnist Dear Abby. Her twin sister Esther, or Eppie, was known as Ann Landers, and also an esteemed syndicated advice giver. They were both Jewish. Born in Iowa to a Russian immigrant father who became a success by owning a chain of movie theaters. Both Pauline and her sister married Jewish men as well, with an equal ambition and work ethic and just overall bent towards success. Pauline’s husband was the heir to a liquor fortune and Eppie’s husband founded Budget Rent A Car. Jews, including these female twins, whom life could not keep from doing, striving, achieving.

I know they talk about how people in other countries live longer, how they take all of August off. How they wile away Sundays dozing after a big family feast. Americans, New Yorkers, Jews, don’t. Well, they may, but basically the inner drive is to keep on doing, to not (ever) slack off. To achieve.

When the boys were first born there was not a thank you note I did not send straight off when some new burp cloths or silver rattles arrived at our doorstep. Our birth announcements were all immediate. Planned way before the due dates. I get out Christmas cards in November practically. My to-do list is my every day marathon in achievement. Getting it all done. Homework by all four who get it now is completed Monday night. I was Phi Beta Kappa. I am the only kid who did not want to be at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn (which has now become this hotspot of the children of Martin Amis and Rachel Weisz — married to James Bond — and the creators and stars of Girls). I wanted grades, fierce competition. I wanted to show my teeth.

It’s just not Jewish to be laid back, to not try hard, to not work basically. You always try to be better, do better, rise to the top. It’s in our blood. It’s hard sometimes in Greece, though a nice break and getaway I suppose (though I am adding up how my children are benefiting from it: language, travel, swimming improvement). But it’s odd that Greeks do actually take a nap (!), then shower and go out to eat, at 10 or 11, then go to a bar, then to a club, and home around 4ish, and these are people in their early forties! Who supposedly have kids. Jobs. But I suppose no stress.

I think that that Stress gets a bad rap. But it’s really not the worst. To me, to see someone not trying, taking too much vacation, not working just seems insane. I admire those who wake up every day prepared to climb a mountain, who have daily, weekly, (heck) hourly goals. Who want to get to the top of their own personal heap. This I get, this I admire. This actually works for me.

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” — Abigail Van Buren (aka Dear Abby)

January mini check in


So, it’s cold. January and 4 degrees this morning. Trying to be more at ease, relaxed as I face and move through the day.

Some things I am liking right now: Live with Kelly and Michael (still!), Girls (watched all of season 1 on download), running/jogging (depending on my pace). Being with the kids — Clea-Noelle being so loving. Constantine coming out of his shell. He really believes he will be president one day. If it happens I can write the book on brainwashing. Theodore having the perfect smile (his very own dentist told me!) No cavities at all here. We have our pre school routine down so well that we have literal minutes now to spare.

What could go currently: Dinner. Bored making dinner. It could all happen and be eaten and cleaned up while I’m taking a bubble bath and watching Downton Abbey on my iPad. But, no. (I always thought that dinner was so superfluous, I mean you’d eaten all day long. Just have a candy bar and call it a night.) Some friends of ours having relationship trouble, and it being sad, (though feeling secretly smug that at the moment we are ok). Waterskiing — it hurts my back a bit and I feel the opposite of limber. I get all tight and muscle-y — yuck. (My New York number for years was: YUCKO-123. Brilliant I figured that out.) January in between. Not quite living the life I would personally sing about. Doing, getting done, a drag or lag. I dunno. Maybe January blahs. Not full-out lie on the couch and don’t bathe for days, but some low-pitched bleh.

Grateful for: sunshine (not snow!). A warm cushy bed. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour each night. Health. Food (even if I don’t want to whip it all into something called: dinner.) Legs (that do run). Hair (that’s not gray!). Teeth, that are all still inside my mouth.

12 Ways to love yourself by Louise L. Hay


Written by Louise L. Hay:

I HAVE FOUND THAT THERE IS only one thing that heals every problem, and that is: to love yourself. When people start to love themselves more each day, it’s amazing how their lives get better. They feel better. They get the jobs they want. They have the money they need. Their relationships either improve, or the negative ones dissolve and new ones begin.

Loving yourself is a wonderful adventure; it’s like learning to fly. Imagine if we all had the power to fly at will? How exciting it would be! Let’s begin to love ourselves now.

Here are 12 Commandments to help you learn how to love yourself:

1. Stop All Criticism.

Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

2. Forgive Yourself.

Let the past go. You did the best you could at the time with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that you had. Now you are growing and changing, and you will live life differently.

3. Don’t Scare Yourself.

Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It’s a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure, and immediately switch your scary thought to a pleasure thought.

4. Be Gentle and Kind and Patient.

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you really loved.

5. Be Kind to Your Mind.

Self-hatred is only hating your own thoughts. Don’t hate yourself for having the thoughts. Gently change your thoughts.

6. Praise Yourself.

Criticism breaks down the inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can. Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.

7. Support Yourself.

Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.

8. Be Loving to Your Negatives.

Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need. Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfill those needs. So lovingly release the old negative patterns.

9. Take Care of Your Body.

Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need in order to have optimum energy and vitality? Learn about exercise. What kind of exercise do you enjoy? Cherish and revere the temple you live in.

10. Do Mirror Work.

Look into your eyes often. Express this growing sense of love you have for yourself. Forgive yourself while looking into the mirror. Talk to your parents while looking into the mirror. Forgive them, too. At least once a day, say, “I love you, I really love you!”

11. Love Yourself . . . Do It Now.

Don’t wait until you get well, or lose the weight, or get the new job, or find the new relationship. Begin now—and do the best you can.

12. Have Fun.

Remember the things that gave you joy as a child. Incorporate them into your life now. Find a way to have fun with everything you do. Let yourself express the joy of living. Smile. Laugh. Rejoice, and the Universe rejoices with you!

Really enjoying…


Mondays with Marlo on my iPad at night, right before I go to sleep. Have watched her interview Kelly Ripa (three separate times!) Cindy Crawford, who knows everything about beauty. Bobbi Brown, makeup artist and mogul. Jackie Warner, fitness expert. Jon Hamm, Mad Men heartthrob. Yup, all really really good. I have loved Marlo Thomas since That Girl. And all her work promoting women/girls from Free to Be You and Me to Ms. Magazine, the ERA movement and beyond.



On Mondays with Marlo, Marlo Thomas speaks with Arianna Huffington. This along with so many of her interviews are informative, fun, inspiring. They just make you feel good, actually. I also like her talks with Deepak Chopra (notice his flashy glasses). As well as Dr. Oz, Brooke Shields, Dr. Nancy Snyderman… It’s calming, right before bed, like reading an article that has come to life on my iPad.

Here: trying to get good sleep every night. Meditating — again. Being calm, on top of what I can be on top of, and letting other stuff take care of itself, or wait. Getting stronger, i.e. doing weights. I used to say, Why lift weights? They’re so heavy! But, ya. Balance, or not. But at the end of the day at least the past ten days should incorporate a large chunk of what I find integral to leading a me-centric life, as in it reflects my core beliefs, values, needs. And the needs of those who actually do currently need me!

Who knows. I have not bought a gift for my dear friend Kiki, with whom I exchange gifts every year, since we were about seven. I did find the perfect thing, but they were sold out, but I may try try again. It’s March 12. Her birthday is March 5. It’s not like me to be late, but I don’t want to send just anything. This is actually important to me.

It’s raining, melting away the (remainder we hope) of snow. Too much this year. Too much winter, over-filling our cups. But next week is literally spring (March 20). Thank God.

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