Monthly Archives: March 2013

Trading Easter Grass for Bluegrass

Happy Easter (to those of you who celebrate the holiday)!  Time for this week’s Sunday Love Song.  You may be wondering how I can pick a love song on Easter Sunday.  Well, true believers would argue there’s nothing more profound than God’s love.  So today’s song is dedicated to love for all mankind.  There are a lot of hymns to choose from, many with lyrics more suited to Easter than what I’ve chosen.  But this upbeat Bluegrass song recorded by Alison Krauss makes me smile.

Since it’s a holiday, I’m going to keep things short and sweet by ditching analysis and letting the lyrics speak for themselves:

“When God Dips His Pen Of Love In My Heart”

When God dips His love in my heart

When God dips His pen of love in my heart
And He writes my soul a message He wants me to know
His spirit all divine fills a sinful soul of mine
When God dips His love in my heart

Well I said I wouldn’t tell it to a livin’ soul
How He brought salvation and He made me whole
But I found I couldn’t hide such a love as Jesus did impart
Well He made me laugh and He made me cry, set my sinful soul on fire
When God dips His love in my heart

Well sometimes though the way is dreary, dark and cold
And some unburdened sorrow keeps me from the goal
I go to God in prayer, I can always find Him there
To whisper sweet peace to my soul

[refrain]

He walked up every step of Calvary’s rugged way
And gave His life completely to bring a better day
My life was steeped in sin but in love He took me in
His blood washed away every stain

[refrain]

Now turn up the volume and take a listen.  If you don’t tap your toes and find yourself humming this refrain later today, I’ll be surprised!

I saw her perform many moons ago at an outdoor venue in Pittsburgh.  She has such a beautiful voice, and many equally lovely songs.  If you’ve never heard her before, check out her music on iTunes or the like.

xo-Jamie

Minimize the Impact of Toxic Relationships

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

This cited quote made me stop and think about the influences affecting my enjoyment of life.

Each day since starting this blog, I’ve given serious consideration to how to boost the spirit.   My thoughts tend to run toward what might be added to enhance the pleasure of a given day:  trying a new hobby, buying a new album, taking a day trip, or tasting a new food are all no-brainer activities guaranteed to perk up your day.

Yet sometimes what detracts from an otherwise gratifying life is the exhausting presence of a toxic relationship.broken_20relationship_2   We’ve seen this dynamic depicted rather melodramatically in books, movies, and television.  Bullies, physically abusive partners, and overly domineering parents are just a few examples.  Fortunately, most of us will never experience extreme toxicity.  But rarely does one escape the subtler, yet equally detrimental, forms of an unhealthy relationship.

Maybe it’s the co-chair on your volunteer committee who is never quite satisfied with your contribution.  Maybe it’s the friend who likes to gossip about everyone, leaving you to question what is said behind your back.  Or maybe it’s the colleague who is always bragging about his or her success.  The bottom line is that those complicated dynamics can sap us of joy and confidence.

The “easy” answer is to quickly identify those relationships and then eliminate them.  But often we’re forced to remain in the relationship (especially if it involves a family member or a co-worker).  So, instead of heeding Ms. Angelou’s good advice, we give people a second or third chance to hurt us.  We hope things will change.  We make excuses for their behavior.  Basically, we suffer.

As I’ve gotten older (an oh-so-much-wiser, wink wink), I’ve learned to handle these kinds of situations with much more aplomb than I did twenty years ago.

First and foremost, I’ve learned to recalibrate my expectations.  I no longer try to change the person, or myself, in an effort to improve the relationship.  I accept it, for better or worse, “as-is.”  This step is particularly hard because often you must mourn the loss of what you’d wanted it to be versus what it really is.  The good news, however, is the internal peace you achieve with such acceptance.

Second, I detach and depersonalize all communication.  I recognize the offending person’s behavior isn’t a reflection of my shortcomings (although I confess to having many!).  Rather, I decide that person likely treats everyone similarly.  Once I view the exchange as impersonal, it hurts much less.

Third, I minimize my interaction with them to the fullest extent possible.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Sometimes those old sayings are just plain true!  And walking away (or stepping back) isn’t as hard as you think.  Once you commit and get a taste of freedom, it gets easier to reduce your exposure without feeling guilty.

I don’t suppose mine are particularly profound insights, but they work for me.  By setting those invisible boundaries, I’ve learned to cope with detrimental relationships without letting them take a bite out of my entire day or sense of self-satisfaction.  Plugging the drain is one way to keep my spirit buoyed!

Of course, I still like to find those “add-ins” to enrich my day too…

Are there tricks you can share to help others handle toxic relationships?

xo-Jamie

 

Create An In-Home Spa Experience

If you’re anything like me, the environment of a contemporary day-spa soothes your soul.  Is it the combination of the herbed citrus aromas, soft lighting, and new age music that instantly calms the nerves?  Or do we just love those fluffy robes, little slippers, and meditation rooms?images-14

Of course, the price tag associated with many spa services can be a deterrent to regular visits.  But who says you have to spend a lot of money to more regularly pamper yourself?

I asked Michelle Pino, Spa Manager of Skana Spa at Turning Stone  in Verona, NY, to offer some suggestions to women who would like to enjoy the benefits of such treatments in the privacy of their own homes.  She’s graciously offered two recipes to help you unwind and feel healthy and beautiful from the inside out.

Apple, Rosemary, Pomegranate Water

Ingredients —
1 gallon water
10 apples, sliced
15 pomegranates, seeds only – muddled
½ cup rosemary, chopped
1 apple, sliced 1/8 inch
2 lemons, juiced in water for cylinder
20 pomegranate seeds for garnish

Method of Preparation
Combine apple slices and muddled pomegranate seeds with rosemary and water. Allow to cold steep for 6 hours. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Fill pitcher with Apple Pomegranate Rosemary water. Fill cylinder with lemon water and garnish with pomegranate seeds, apple slices and rosemary sprigs. 

Body Scrub

Ingredients:
1-cup sea salt or (raw sugar)
1/2-cup oil
*Optional- add a few drops of your favorite scented essential oil, such as lavender or mint.IMG_0850
A body scrub provides gentle exfoliation to remove dead skin cells from your body.  Any small granules will give the desired result and can be used for this recipe, so you can probably raid your kitchen for free. Basic sea salt and raw sugar work nicely, but you can also use brown sugar if you have sensitive skin. Next, check your kitchen and bathrooms for olive oil, baby oil or vegetable oil.

Directions: Mix these two ingredients, but ensure that the granules are still visible. Add a few drops of essential oil if you wish. Use an air container such as a mason jar when storing or giving away as a gift.

Application: Apply to your body while in the shower to exfoliate and moisturize skin, and use your favorite scrubber for maximum benefit.

In addition to Michelle’s recipes, I’d suggest lighting up a cilantro/orange soy candle and playing Kobialka or similar meditative music to enhance the experience!

The do-it-yourself spa treatments are a nice change of pace, but nothing beats the real thing.  So, if you’re in need of a quick getaway, convince your significant other to take a road trip to Turning Stone Resort Casino.  While he plays poker and wins money for dinner and a show, go get yourself a massage and a facial!

My favorite spa treatment is a basic Swedish massage (preferably with lavender aromatherapy oils).  What’s yours?

xo-Jamie

Songs Proving Less Can Be More

Do you ever find yourself preferring the less popular songs from a particular album?   This is a common occurrence for me, leaving me to wonder why so many of my favorite songs never make it onto the airwaves.  I tend to attribute it to the fact I focus more on song lyrics than melody, whereas many people enjoy the sound and rhythm of a song without caring much about its words.  Upbeat tempos and catchy tunes sell better than other types of music.

Remember KT Tunstall, the Grammy-nominated Scottish singer who burst onto the music scene in 2004 with her hit Black Horse and the Cherry Tree?  She had a couple of commercial hits, but then faded from the pop spotlight.  In addition to those pop songs, she’s written other interesting songs that many people don’t know.

I’ve chosen one today because the lyrics are rather poetic (in my opinion, anyway) and open to interpretation.  Throw Me A Rope is about being separated from the one you love.  What I particularly enjoy is its ambiguity: is the song about a long-distance relationship, or about life after a break-up?   Take a quick read:

I want you between me and the feeling I get when I miss you
But everything here is telling me I should be fine
So why is it so above as below
That I’m missing you every time

I got used to you whispering things to me into the evening
We follow the sun and his colors left this world
It seems to me that I’m definitely
Hearing the best that I’ve heard

So throw me a rope
To hold me in place
Show me a clock
For counting my days down
Cause everything’s easier when you’re beside me
Come back and find me
Cause I feel alone

And whenever you go
It’s like holding my breath under water
I have to admit that I kind of like it when I do
Oh but I’ve got to be
Unconditionally
Unafraid of my days without you

[Refrain]

Whenever I’m falling
You’re always behind me
Come back and find me
Everything’s easier when you’re beside me
Come back and find me
Cause I feel alone

Not only are the words pretty, but the melody is soothingly so.  Take a listen to her live acoustic performance:

What do you think…song for the brokenhearted or for those separated only by distance?

xo-Jamie

*YouTube video by Emimusic

Imbue Kids With Problem-Solving Skills

Parenting is simultaneously the most rewarding and challenging aspect of our lives.  For the past month, we’ve written posts intended to help you tap into and release your ‘inner diva’ (so to speak).  But for those readers who are also mothers (or fathers), being a great parent IS the most important goal in their lives.images-10  Thus, I’m always happy to share the amazing parenting advice I receive by virtue of my work with New Canaan CARES.  This particular article will be most helpful to parents of grade school aged children who want to teach their kids to become great problem-solvers.  Click here to learn more:  Imbue Kids With Problem Solving Skills.

Happy Parenting!

xo-Jamie